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Yeah, that last part was click bait—or maybe not. How many times have you heard someone say, “When is Jesus coming back?”

Depends on where your thinking is on a topic that vexes a lot of Christians, including me:

What the heck is keeping Jesus from doing what he said he’d do: come back soon?

Today’s post begins a three parts series on that very topic and is based on a new book, When the Son of Man Didn’t Come: A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia, by Dr. Christopher M. Hays and in collaboration with several authors, including his co-blogger for this series, Dr. C. A. (Casey) Strine.

Jesus Be Right Back | Jesus brb

I think you will appreciate the honesty with which they lay out the problem and the freshness of their proposal for the delay of the parousia (Greek for “appearing” or “arrival” and is used in theological studies to refer to the Second Coming).

And yes, for some the answer may be more shocking than the problem, but life is like that, so let’s move full steam ahead and see what happens.

Hays is the co-editor of Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism and the author of Luke’s Wealth Ethics and Renouncing Everything: Money and Discipleship in Luke. He holds degrees from Wheaton College and the University of Oxford (D.Phil. New Testament Studies). He is currently Professor of New Testament at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia, where he serves as a missionary of United World Mission. Previously he was a wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universtität Bonn <Gesundheit>, and British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow on the Faculty of Theology of the University of Oxford.

Strine is Lecturer in Ancient Near Eastern History and Literature at the University of Sheffield. His D.Phil. is from Oxford and his book Sworn Enemies The Divine Oath, the Book of Ezekiel, and the Polemics of Exile won the 2015 Manfred Lautenschläger Award for Theological Promise. His current research focuses on how the study of involuntary migration can aid interpretation of the ancestral narrative in Genesis 12–50.

Post 1: Was Jesus Wrong about the End? (by Christopher M. Hays)

It was a sunny afternoon at the University of Bonn when figurative clouds of doubt darkened my hope in Jesus’ second coming. I blame the Germans.

During the Q&A following a stimulating seminar on eschatology, I commented that U.S. churches today continue to appeal to the imminence of Christ’s return to motivate repentance and conversion. I was thinking about summer camp altar calls: “The rapture could happen any second, so repent while you still have the chance! Jesus could come back right now. Or right now. Or right now!” *Cut to a music video of DC Talk singing I Wish We’d All Been Ready.* <Blog editor’s note: some of us older folks remember this as a Larry Norman song, but let’s continue.>

At this, a senior scholar arched an eyebrow and pointedly replied, “Ja, and I think this shows a disturbing lack of attention to theological progress.” The subtext of this rebuke was this: Jesus has not come back, so it’s time for theology to move on without the parousia.

Undaunted (thanks to the ebullient confidence that comes from a robustly fundamentalist catechesis), I assumed that thishays-book skepticism was merely the result of incautious New Testament exegesis. So I hurried to the biblical text and found. . . problems. Problems that I didn’t have answers to.

So I put the question to friends from different theological disciplines and Christian traditions and we wrote a book about it: an Anglican Old Testament scholar, Casey Strine; a Dominican friar and New Testament scholar, Richard Ounsworth OP; a Greek Orthodox patristic scholar, Julia Konstantinovsky; a Russian Orthodox systematic theologian, Brandon Gallaher.

Happily, my friends worked out what I couldn’t: a new proposal about the delay of the parousia, which we think is, in its parts, perhaps not so new at all.

In this first post, I am going to put on my black hat and describe the problem of the delay of Jesus’ return. In our next post, my buddy Casey will don the white Stetson and begin to explain the solution we’ve proposed.

The basic reason there is a debate about the delay in Christ’s return is that Jesus told the first generation of his disciples that he would be back before the last of that crew kicked the bucket: “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power” (Mark 9:1).

He assured them, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place” (13:30)—“all these things” apparently including reference to the “Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”

In light of that promise he adjured them again and again, “keep alert . . . keep awake . . . keep awake” (Mark 13:33-37), for “truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matt. 10:23).

Admittedly, he said that nobody would know the “hour or the day” of his return, but in general terms, Jesus definitely prophesied that he would be back before the end of the first century.

And since we are still here, it seems like he was pretty wrong!

Obviously, scholars have suggested other solutions, but none have struck me as satisfying.

N.T. Wright, for example (see Jesus and the Victory of God, pp. 348-68), has made the very attractive argument that the “coming of the Son of Man” language in Mark 13:26-27 refers to Jesus’ enthronement in heaven after his death, rather than his final descent to earth in judgment.

It’s an intriguing possibility, since Mark definitely alludes to Daniel 7:13, in which the “one like a son of man coming” is indeed enthroned in heaven. However, Mark 8:35-38 indicates that the coming of the Son of Man is a coming in judgment, rather than ascending to rule in heaven after his death. The same idea seems pretty clear in Luke 12:40//Matt. 24:44. And both Mark 8:34-9:1 and 13:24-31 say that the coming in judgment is supposed to occur within a generation.

So, insofar as I don’t think that the judgment transpired during the first century, it’s hard to take refuge in Wright’s thesis. It still seems like Jesus miscalculated when he foretold that he would return before the first generation of apostles died.

Jesus and the Old Testament Course

Jesus and the Old Testament Course with Peter Enns

At the risk of stating the obvious, the principle problem with saying that Jesus was wrong about his imminent expectation of the consummation of the eschaton is that the imminence of the Kingdom of God was central to Jesus’ message. That’s effectively the thesis statement of Mark, the earliest canonical Gospel: “The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15).

And if the basic message of Jesus was wrong, then how can anyone presume to find “salvation” through faith in him?

More pointedly, why are people living and dying in hopes of being received into the Kingdom of Heaven when the terms of that offer (its nearness) seems to have expired nineteen centuries ago?

If Jesus’ prophecy about the timing of the Kingdom’s coming was not fulfilled, then isn’t this Christianity thing really just all wrong?

Well…no, actually.

hays-profile-1

Christopher M. Hays

You see, even though Jesus did prophesy that he would return before the first generation of disciples expired, the important thing to remember is that Jesus was making a prophecy. And as Casey will explain in our next post, contrary to popular belief, prophecies do not purport to forecast fixed future events.

Prophecies are, by their nature, conditional.

A prophesied outcome may or may not transpire; it all depends on how the audience responds to the message of the prophet.

And in fact, when you look carefully at the New Testament texts, you can see that various authors did indeed understand the timing of Jesus’ return and the eschatological consummation to be, not fixed, but contingent upon human action.

If that is the case, perhaps the problem is not with Jesus’ message at all.

Perhaps the problem of the delay of the parousia is . . . us.

More in this series:

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

135 Comments

  • Aaron Motta says:

    I like to think that when Jesus is speaking of his return he is more commenting on the kingdom or heavens development in the hearts of man. Jesus will return when his followers live and transform into him.

  • Aaron Motta says:

    I like to think that when Jesus is speaking of his return he is more commenting on the kingdom or heavens development in the hearts of man. Jesus will return when his followers live and transform into him.

  • “So, insofar as I don’t think that the judgment transpired during the first century, it’s hard to take refuge in Wright’s thesis.”

    Many Christians do, though. I’d be interested to see interactions with the view that the destruction of the Temple and the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD fulfill’s Jesus’ forecasts about a coming judgement.

    • Gordie LaChance says:

      Hebrews 9 & 10 certainly tie the return (that “Day”) to the temple’s destruction, which lines it up with Matthew 24 quite nicely. It seems that the first century audience fully expected the coming destruction of the temple to be the time of the end. In fact Heb 9:8-9 seems to say that the temple is the sign of the present time, and thus the coming age will come when the temple is no longer functioning in the sacrifices and such rituals (since the Holy Spirit is concealing the way to the coming age).
      Take a look: in verses 8-10, the writer states:
      1) The heavenly sanctuary is not available until the first tent (the temple) is destroyed
      2) The temple is a symbol of the present time (i.e. not the “time to come”)
      3) The current temple sacrificial system cannot cleanse the conscience of the worshiper
      4) The ritual system was given as a placeholder until the true covenant could come.
      Verse 28 states that Christ will appear again (a 2nd time) to save those eagerly waiting for him. Verse 15 says that those believers at the time were waiting for Christ to purify their conscience from dead work in order to worship the living God.
      So putting it all together it certainly seems that they expected Christ’s “return” to occur when the temple was destroyed (as it is stated in Matthew 24 as well) and that their reward was to be able to worship with pure consciences, no longer bound to empty rituals..
      I’m not sure what that really means, all of it. There can certainly be a very eastern bent to it if you want to interpret it in a light that says people were shackled to the physical rituals and reminders of their sins and that Christ’s “return” unleashed these shackles and allowed them to find their “True Selves” or be their “True Selves” as Richard Rohr terms it and worship God without any expectation on them (from themselves or others). Worship in true freedom, in other words, especially since there would no longer be a mediator or authority on your worship.
      But honestly I’m not sure. I’m curious if those first century believers heard all the apocalyptic talk and thought that the destruction of the temple would be God’s physical sign of the victory that went on “behind-the-scenes” so to speak. Trying to think like a first century Israelite follower of Christ (having been in arguments/fights with Jewish folks), I could see me having the belief that the ultimate sign that Christ was the real Messiah and that the Jews were wrong to not believe him would be for the temple to be leveled. Kind of like God igniting Elijah’s altar and that being the sign that Elijah’s God was the true God. The temple’s destruction would show that Christ was the true Messiah.

      • Christopher Hays says:

        I love the connection with Hebrews; thanks for this, Gordie. I think you are right that Hebrews definitely sees elements of eschatological fulfillment in Jesus’ sacrifice, and I am inclined to agree with you that Hebrews is written after the destruction of the Temple. In our book we definitely affirm that the NT authors see partial fulfillment of Jesus’ eschatological prophecies in the destruction of the Temple. We just don’t think that does all the necessary exegetical work. Indeed, Hebrews 9 is a great example, because it affirms that, notwithstanding what Christ has already accomplished, he “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (9:28)

        • Gordie LaChance says:

          I’d argue they were saved by the destruction of the Temple. The power of the Jews who were persecuting the Christians was nullified by the Roman army killing many and taking the one symbol they had that symbolized their power in the area. To a first century believer undergoing that intense persecution, it certainly would’ve felt like an amazing salvation by God, just like Moses and the Exodus.

    • Darrin Hunter says:

      I too wonder if many of the images of future are centered on the Israel, which is why they are so apocalyptic in description. Hell is often used in discussion with religious leaders, and the destruction of the Temple is absolutely monumental to the future of the Jewish nation.

    • Christopher Hays says:

      Good word! Indeed, I think there is a lot that is true in Wright’s thesis, and want to affirm that lots of Jesus’ proclamation of coming judgment etc does indeed find fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem. I just don’t thing that the bit about the Son of Man coming in glory can be dealt with that way.

      • Thank you, Dr. Hays.

        Well, in that case, I may be having trouble understanding you as presented in the blog post.

        My issue with N.T. Wright would be that Daniel 7 is not about being enthroned in heaven. The beast-kings are kings of the earth. Thrones on wheels are set up; they aren’t pre-existing thrones in heaven. Dominion is taken from the fourth beast. These all look like earthly events. The idea would be that the judgement, the coming in glory, etc. would all be describing actual historical outcomes in a manner at least analogous to the faith community’s overcoming of Antiochus Epiphanes – a primary referent for Daniel (acknowledging this is a hotly debated issue, obviously).

        So, there is a reasonably quantifiable strain of thought in Christianity that Jesus’ apocalyptism (apocalypticism?) is a complex that finds a primary referent in 70 AD, and that pretty much covers the whole shebang – coming in glory, judgement, and enthronement.

        My guess, because you wrote a large book about it 😉 is that you find this explanation wanting in comparison to a thesis about the fulfillment being conditional, and I was just curious as to the salient points as you saw them. I know you don’t have time to deal with every possible counter-interpretation. I was just curious, because there’s a reasonable chunk of Christians who don’t fit the short critique you gave of Wright’s position but still see Jesus’ eschatology as more or less realized and in the rear view mirror.

        • Christopher Hays says:

          Thanks, Phil! I am intrigued by your reading of Daniel 7; that is new to me. Would you say, then, that the description of the one like a son of man riding on the clouds and being enthroned by the Ancient of Days is just a figurative way to denote divine approval of earthly dominion? Very interesting.

          You are right that there is a lot more to be said about preterism than could be mentioned in this single blog post. And I really am a preterist with respect to 80 or 90% of the NT prophecies. But I do think that there is a chunk of NT text that does seem to expect an eschatological consummation, complete with thoroughgoing judgment, reward, and resurrection. (I think that Dale Allison is really helpful on these themes.) This work on conditional prophecy is focusing on those themes.

          I appreciate the good interaction!

          • Phil Ledgerwood says:

            Hi Christopher,

            Well, technically, Daniel 7 does not say the Son of Man is riding the clouds. It says he is “coming with the clouds of heaven, and he came to the Ancient One.” You might be thinking of Isaiah 19 where God is described as “riding on the clouds” when he comes to Egypt to judge them. According to Isaiah 19, this judgement happens by God handing them over to another Empire, but is also described in apocalyptic terms like the Nile drying up and fish mourning.

            I think we can probably agree that when Egypt was conquered by the Persians, God did not literally appear in the sky riding clouds. It’s cosmic-apocalyptic imagery that describes a spiritual dimension to a historical event that, while incredibly significant to the ancient world, would otherwise be unremarkable from a supernatural standpoint.

            I think the “clouds of heaven” indicate the Son of Man acting as YHWH’s agent as well as providing that window into the spiritual realities behind these historical events, which is the occurrence in Isaiah 19 as well as a common feature of Jewish apocalyptic, not the least of which the book of Revelation.

            In Daniel 7, everything seems to be happening on earth. The pagan beast-king is a king of the earth who is judged and his dominion is taken away. I’d think, per your point, the adoption of the “coming with the clouds” imagery by Matthew and Luke would be pertinent here, as both of them clearly identify the Son of Man coming to earth.

            The whole complex of “mundane historical event” being described prophetically as a cosmic, heavenly driven affair seems to me to be fairly common, and I would expect that the judgement of Egypt, the judgement of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the judgement of the Temple power structure, and even the judgement of Rome herself, insofar as these things are described prophetically and apocalyptically, would follow the same pattern of occurring on earth as concrete historical outcomes.

            If this is so, then the complex of events spoken of by Jesus would have come to pass and long be in our rear view mirror and his timing statements would be pretty decent. In order for there to be a problem where Jesus prophesied a coming in judgement that didn’t happen, we’d have to understand that coming in judgement in somewhat more literal terms with Jesus visibly appearing in the sky and such, and I think that understanding is unwarranted if Old Testament prophecy is meant to be a hermeneutical guide for us in these matters. Obviously, church tradition has been very varied on that.

          • Bones says:

            Mark 14:62 Jesus said to the high priest and sanhedrin

            And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”

            Mark/Jesus is not speaking to a future generation but the people who were in front of him therefore it cannot be about a futuristic physical return but something else……

    • travieso says:

      That is exactly what Jesus meant, Phil.
      The burden of proof lies with you to prove that’s NOT what Jesus was talking about.

  • Phil Ledgerwood says:

    “So, insofar as I don’t think that the judgment transpired during the first century, it’s hard to take refuge in Wright’s thesis.”

    Many Christians do, though. I’d be interested to see interactions with the view that the destruction of the Temple and the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD fulfill’s Jesus’ forecasts about a coming judgement.

    • Gordie LaChance says:

      Hebrews 9 & 10 certainly tie the return (that “Day”) to the temple’s destruction, which lines it up with Matthew 24 quite nicely. It seems that the first century audience fully expected the coming destruction of the temple to be the time of the end. In fact Heb 9:8-9 seems to say that the temple is the sign of the present time, and thus the coming age will come when the temple is no longer functioning in the sacrifices and such rituals (since the Holy Spirit is concealing the way to the coming age).
      Take a look: in verses 8-10, the writer states:
      1) The heavenly sanctuary is not available until the first tent (the temple) is destroyed
      2) The temple is a symbol of the present time (i.e. not the “time to come”)
      3) The current temple sacrificial system cannot cleanse the conscience of the worshiper
      4) The ritual system was given as a placeholder until the true covenant could come.
      Verse 28 states that Christ will appear again (a 2nd time) to save those eagerly waiting for him. Verse 15 says that those believers at the time were waiting for Christ to purify their conscience from dead work in order to worship the living God.
      So putting it all together it certainly seems that they expected Christ’s “return” to occur when the temple was destroyed (as it is stated in Matthew 24 as well) and that their reward was to be able to worship with pure consciences, no longer bound to empty rituals..
      I’m not sure what that really means, all of it. There can certainly be a very eastern bent to it if you want to interpret it in a light that says people were shackled to the physical rituals and reminders of their sins and that Christ’s “return” unleashed these shackles and allowed them to find their “True Selves” or be their “True Selves” as Richard Rohr terms it and worship God without any expectation on them (from themselves or others). Worship in true freedom, in other words, especially since there would no longer be a mediator or authority on your worship.
      But honestly I’m not sure. I’m curious if those first century believers heard all the apocalyptic talk and thought that the destruction of the temple would be God’s physical sign of the victory that went on “behind-the-scenes” so to speak. Trying to think like a first century Israelite follower of Christ (having been in arguments/fights with Jewish folks), I could see me having the belief that the ultimate sign that Christ was the real Messiah and that the Jews were wrong to not believe him would be for the temple to be leveled. Kind of like God igniting Elijah’s altar and that being the sign that Elijah’s God was the true God. The temple’s destruction would show that Christ was the true Messiah.

      • Christopher Hays says:

        I love the connection with Hebrews; thanks for this, Gordie. I think you are right that Hebrews definitely sees elements of eschatological fulfillment in Jesus’ sacrifice, and I am inclined to agree with you that Hebrews is written after the destruction of the Temple. In our book we definitely affirm that the NT authors see partial fulfillment of Jesus’ eschatological prophecies in the destruction of the Temple. We just don’t think that does all the necessary exegetical work. Indeed, Hebrews 9 is a great example, because it affirms that, notwithstanding what Christ has already accomplished, he “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (9:28)

        • Gordie LaChance says:

          I’d argue they were saved by the destruction of the Temple. The power of the Jews who were persecuting the Christians was nullified by the Roman army killing many and taking the one symbol they had that symbolized their power in the area. To a first century believer undergoing that intense persecution, it certainly would’ve felt like an amazing salvation by God, just like Moses and the Exodus.

    • Skeptical Christian says:

      I too wonder if many of the images of future are centered on the Israel, which is why they are so apocalyptic in description. Hell is often used in discussion with religious leaders, and the destruction of the Temple is absolutely monumental to the future of the Jewish nation.

    • Christopher Hays says:

      Good word! Indeed, I think there is a lot that is true in Wright’s thesis, and want to affirm that lots of Jesus’ proclamation of coming judgment etc does indeed find fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem. I just don’t thing that the bit about the Son of Man coming in glory can be dealt with that way.

      • Phil Ledgerwood says:

        Thank you, Dr. Hays.

        Well, in that case, I may be having trouble understanding you as presented in the blog post.

        My issue with N.T. Wright would be that Daniel 7 is not about being enthroned in heaven. The beast-kings are kings of the earth. Thrones on wheels are set up; they aren’t pre-existing thrones in heaven. Dominion is taken from the fourth beast. These all look like earthly events. The idea would be that the judgement, the coming in glory, etc. would all be describing actual historical outcomes in a manner at least analogous to the faith community’s overcoming of Antiochus Epiphanes – a primary referent for Daniel (acknowledging this is a hotly debated issue, obviously).

        So, there is a reasonably quantifiable strain of thought in Christianity that Jesus’ apocalyptism (apocalypticism?) is a complex that finds a primary referent in 70 AD, and that pretty much covers the whole shebang – coming in glory, judgement, and enthronement.

        My guess, because you wrote a large book about it 😉 is that you find this explanation wanting in comparison to a thesis about the fulfillment being conditional, and I was just curious as to the salient points as you saw them. I know you don’t have time to deal with every possible counter-interpretation. I was just curious, because there’s a reasonable chunk of Christians who don’t fit the short critique you gave of Wright’s position but still see Jesus’ eschatology as more or less realized and in the rear view mirror.

    • travieso says:

      That is exactly what Jesus meant, Phil.
      The burden of proof lies with you to prove that’s NOT what Jesus was talking about.

  • Aaron says:

    I don’t think that Jesus was speaking of a physical return. I believe that the main point he was trying to make while he was here, was getting people to understand that the kingdom of heaven could be a present reality for them, there and then. I believe when he is speaking of his return he is talking about a change in the hearts of man. When others saw the followers of Jesus it is like they were seeing Jesus himself, which would feel like Jesus the Christ being back walking among them.

    • wullaj says:

      I love this. I had not thought of looking at it that way before. Thank you.

      • Bones says:

        Yeah I think all this physical return stuff was later Christian additions….

        Mark makes it clear that the kingdom of God was already there, that the risen Christ would be found in Galilee (within the community of believers – hence no resurrection narrative) and Mark 13 isn’t future prophecy but commentary on the War in Jerusalem.

        Mark 14:62 is another interesting verse….speaking to the high priest

        And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”

        Many interpret this as a second coming….but Jesus/Mark is saying that the high priest and the Sanhedrin will see it….not some future generation…..which many Christians try to make it apply to……

        Mark is making a point that what the high priests will see is Jesus’s death which will usher in victory over religious exclusiveness and military oppression.

        I’ve come to understand that the key to understanding Jesus is understanding the Gospel of Mark.

        • wullaj says:

          Nice. I’m going to have to re-read Mark, now.

          I went to a Christian college and we put a lot of focus on the gospel of John. In fact one of our core classes was one devoted to that book. Much of my early theology came from that class.

    • travieso says:

      This doesn’t even begin to reflect the NT message.

    • Andy Zach says:

      The message of Daniel 2, 7, 8, 11 and 12 indicates the kingdom of God will be on the earth, replacing the kingdoms of the earth, ruled by the saints. If the kingdom is here, the King is here. In Acts 1, the angel says Jesus will return in the same way as He left, bodily. In view of these scriptures, I have no choice but to believe Jesus will return bodily.

      • Pete E. says:

        But do you also have no choice but to accept on the same grounds that Jesus will return “soon?” That is he point these posts are addressing.

        • Andy Zach says:

          “Soon” is ambiguous. See 2 Peter 3:8-9. We have already seen the Olivet prophecy is divided into three answers: 1) the fall of the temple; 2) the sign of His coming; 3) the end of the age. Peter tells us these things may take 1000s of years. In Acts 2 Peter says the end of the age is already here, with Joel 2 being partially fulfilled by Pentecost. The fall of the Temple was “soon”–40 years after Jesus spoke these words. The end of the age extends to our day. What we can say for sure is the gospel of the kingdom is going to the world like never before and that is the sign of the end. Matt. 24;14

        • Andy Zach says:

          I did a quick search for ‘soon’ in the NT. In no prophecy does it say Jesus’ coming is ‘soon’.

  • Aaron says:

    I don’t think that Jesus was speaking of a physical return. I believe that the main point he was trying to make while he was here, was getting people to understand that the kingdom of heaven could be a present reality for them, there and then. I believe when he is speaking of his return he is talking about a change in the hearts of man. When others saw the followers of Jesus it is like they were seeing Jesus himself, which would feel like Jesus the Christ being back walking among them.

    • wullaj says:

      I love this. I had not thought of looking at it that way before. Thank you.

      • Bones says:

        Yeah I think all this physical return stuff was later Christian additions….

        Mark makes it clear that the kingdom of God was already there, that the risen Christ would be found in Galilee (within the community of believers – hence no resurrection narrative) and Mark 13 isn’t future prophecy but commentary on the War in Jerusalem.

        Mark 14:62 is another interesting verse….speaking to the high priest

        And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”

        Many interpret this as a second coming….but Jesus/Mark is saying that the high priest and the Sanhedrin will see it….not some future generation…..which many Christians try to make it apply to……

        Mark is making a point that what the high priests will see is Jesus’s death which will usher in victory over religious exclusiveness and military oppression.

        I’ve come to understand that the key to understanding Jesus is understanding the Gospel of Mark.

        • wullaj says:

          Nice. I’m going to have to re-read Mark, now.

          I went to a Christian college and we put a lot of focus on the gospel of John. In fact one of our core classes was one devoted to that book. Much of my early theology came from that class.

    • travieso says:

      This doesn’t even begin to reflect the NT message.

  • Jean Bergen says:

    My thoughts went to the Essenes of the 2nd century who were trying to live in such a way as to bring the Messiah’s coming. I believe they thought the way they lived their life was connected.

  • Jean Bergen says:

    My thoughts went to the Essenes of the 2nd century who were trying to live in such a way as to bring the Messiah’s coming. I believe they thought the way they lived their life was connected.

  • Gary says:

    “Why are people living and dying in hopes of being received into the Kingdom of Heaven when the terms of that offer (its nearness) seems to have expired nineteen centuries ago?”

    It’s easy enough and brings some peace. (And sufficiently so that large movements, institutions, ministries, careers, etc. can be created.)

    Other solutions to this “why” question contrast in that they’re not so easy but have potential to bring more than some peace.

    The problem is that the nineteen centuries are a bit like nineteen unsuccessful dieting attempts. Each time gets harder, not easier.

  • Gary says:

    “Why are people living and dying in hopes of being received into the Kingdom of Heaven when the terms of that offer (its nearness) seems to have expired nineteen centuries ago?”

    It’s easy enough and brings some peace. (And sufficiently so that large movements, institutions, ministries, careers, etc. can be created.)

    Other solutions to this “why” question contrast in that they’re not so easy but have potential to bring more than some peace.

    The problem is that the nineteen centuries are a bit like nineteen unsuccessful dieting attempts. Each time gets harder, not easier.

  • Caleb G says:

    I saw this book and very much want to read it. The delay of the parousia is a greater problem than most Christians admit especially since Jesus predicted it would happen within the lifetime of his immediate disciples. This disturbs me far more than other examples of failed prophesy in Scripture since we as Christians proclaim Jesus as God the Son. If Jesus was wrong about the central aspect of his message, why should be believe in him? I wish this book was not so expensive so I could read it.

    • Eric Weiss says:

      Just about every NT writer expected Jesus’ return within their own or their immediate readers’/ hearers’ lifetimes. E.g.:

      1 Thessalonians 4:14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that WE WHO ARE ALIVE, WHO ARE LEFT UNTIL THE COMING OF THE LORD, will by no means precede those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then WE WHO ARE ALIVE, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so WE WILL BE with the Lord forever.

      * Revelation 1:1
      ** Revelation 2:16
      ** Revelation 3:11
      * Revelation 22:6
      ** Revelation 22:7
      ** Revelation 22:12
      ** Revelation 22:20

      * 1 τάχος, ους, τό
      2 pert. to a relatively brief time subsequent to another point of time, εν ταχει as adverbial unit soon, in a short time…Rv 1:1; 22:6….

      ** 2 ταχύς, εια, ύ
      1 ⓑ β. without delay, quickly, at once (though it is not always poss. to make a clear distinction betw. this mng. and the one in 2)…. This is prob. the place for the ερχεσθαι ταχύ of Rv: 2:5 v.l. (many cursives and printed texts), 16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:7, 12, 20 (P-ÉLangevin, Jésus Seigneur, ’67, 209–35).
      2 pert. to a relatively brief time subsequent to another point of time, neut. sg. as adv. in a short time, soon (cp. 1bβ above and τάχος 2)

      • Christopher Hays says:

        Yeah, I think it is true that at least most of them expect that (at least Mark, Paul, and Revelation), although I think Luke and 2 Peter are trying to deal with the fact that, late in the first century, he still had not returned.

        • Eric Weiss says:

          Thanks, Dr. Hays!

          2 Peter definitely seems like an apologetic for why the Parousia hadn’t yet occurred. I wrote this a few years back, which may be similar to the thoughts in your book re: the Return being tied to our behavior:

          http://theoblogoumena.blogspot.com/search/label/2%20Peter

          In another reply you said you think Hebrews was written AFTER the destruction of the Temple, but it seems to me that the author thinks the Temple is still standing – otherwise, wouldn’t she/he have been more explicit re: it no longer existing? Also, didn’t John A. T. Robinson in Redating the New Testament argue that every NT document was written before 70 AD per the following: “One of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climactic event of the period – the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and with it the collapse of institutional Judaism based on the temple – is never once mentioned as a past fact. “

          • Christopher Hays says:

            Hi Eric,

            Love the blog post. Yeah, that’s the gist of what we would argue!

            JAT Robinson did date everything pre70, but FWIW he’s considered pretty eccentric. The fact that the NT authors never explicitly say that the temple was destroyed isn’t really the “dog that didn’t bark” that Robinson contends it is, since all the narratives of the NT are dramatically pre-70. Given the tradition of the church that Mark was written just after the death of Peter (mid 60s), and given the findings of Synoptic scholarship (where 99.9% of scholars agree that Matthew and Luke used Mark), it’s almost universally agreed that at least Matthew or Luke have to be post 70.

            Still, things are less cut and dry re: Hebrews. There is definitely a debate on whether Hebrews is written pre or post-70, and sharp folks are on both sides. I’m just on the post-70 side. ;-D

          • Andy Zach says:

            So I disagree with 99.9% of the scholars! I think Mark, Matthew and Luke were written in the 60s at the latest. More likely Luke was written in the 60s, along with Acts. Mark and Matthew were written before, and according to Papias, a Hebrew version of Matthew was written before Mark. Of course, oral tradition of the gospels preceded all of this. I believe Paul took the Hebrew/Aramaic oral tradition and translated it to Greek. Then Mark, Matthew, and Luke used parts of his translations in their works. John appears to have had a amanuensis for the gospel, but not for Revelation.

          • Pete E. says:

            “So I disagree with 99.9% of the scholars! ” Godspeed to you, Andy. Godspeed.

          • travieso says:

            There is no reason to date anything late. To do so is based on an ignorance of Jesus’ entire ministry: bring an end of Daniels’s oikumene and a kingdom that will endure. Hebrews says as much. Revelation says as much. Jesus say’d as much.
            The reason no author mentioned the destruction is bc everyone wrote prior to the event.
            Besides the entire Old Testament revelation, the hermeneutical key for interpreting the New Testament is the Olivet discourse. This includes Jesus is indictment against the scribes and the Pharisees all the way through Matthew 25.
            https://forthegloryofgodandkings.com/hermeneutics/preterism-by-any-other-name/

          • Andy Zach says:

            Yes, when I read NT Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God”, he mentioned this argument. Thinking about the NT canon, I can think of only two books that were likely written after 70 AD: John’s gospel and Revelation. Hebrews is up for debate. I have read that it was written to comfort those mourning for the loss of the temple, that One greater than the temple had replaced its offices.

            My reason for John’s gospel’s is Papias’ and Eusebius’ said it was written after the other three gospels and after the deaths of the other apostles, at the request of John’s congregation in Ephesus. The date of Revelation is surprisingly controversial, with some insisting it was written before 70 ad, others after 90. The later date is attested by Papias, who was a contemporary, so I believe him.

            In any event, the fall of the temple was a fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy; what need had John to comment upon that? The three synoptic gospels were already written. John focused on what was missing from them. Who else was left alive to write of it? Only apostolic writings or their contemporaries (Mark, Luke) were accepted as NT canon.

        • travieso says:

          This “delay” is an accusation of enemies as Peter notes. And as Peter says, God is being patient with his covt people allowing them time to repent before judgement comes in fulfillment of the Lord’s promise ala Olivet.
          Jesus’ coming is not a coming back; it is not a coming to end history. What is it then? It’s exactly what Hebrews says it is. It is the shaking of the heavens and earth (Israel) and the remaining of the promised kingdom Daniel saw in Nebs visions. This isn’t very hard.
          Reason for inferring a non-covenantal regeneration: not knowing how the Bible speaks about such things.
          Jesus came just as he promised. And he did exactly what he promised.

    • Christopher Hays says:

      Indeed! You are right that the book ain’t cheap, but hopefully in a few months the price on Amazon will drop down. We have been told that when we get through the first (small) run of hardbacks, it will be released as a cheaper paperback. Thanks for your interest, in any scenario!

      • Eric Weiss says:

        Any chance of a Logos edition?

        • Christopher Hays says:

          Interesting idea. They have not asked yet!

          • travieso says:

            Mr Hays, I would welcome an opportunity to present a reformed postmillennial preterism.

          • Pete E. says:

            You can do so but off this thread, perhaps on an email exchange with Hays. I’m the meantime, can I suggest you cool your guns? Hays and Stine are established scholars making a point briefly in a blog post that they treat more fully in book form. They’re not fools because you think differently.

  • Caleb G says:

    I saw this book and very much want to read it. The delay of the parousia is a greater problem than most Christians admit especially since Jesus predicted it would happen within the lifetime of his immediate disciples. This disturbs me far more than other examples of failed prophesy in Scripture since we as Christians proclaim Jesus as God the Son. If Jesus was wrong about the central aspect of his message, why should be believe in him? I wish this book was not so expensive so I could read it.

    • Eric Weiss says:

      ISTM that just about every NT writer expected Jesus’ return within their own or their immediate readers’/hearers’ lifetimes. E.g.:

      1 Thessalonians 4:14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that WE WHO ARE ALIVE, WHO ARE LEFT UNTIL THE COMING OF THE LORD, will by no means precede those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then WE WHO ARE ALIVE, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so WE WILL BE with the Lord forever.

      * Revelation 1:1
      ** Revelation 2:16
      ** Revelation 3:11
      * Revelation 22:6
      ** Revelation 22:7
      ** Revelation 22:12
      ** Revelation 22:20

      BDAG:

      * 1 τάχος, ους, τό
      2 pert. to a relatively brief time subsequent to another point of time, εν ταχει as adverbial unit soon, in a short time…Rv 1:1; 22:6….

      ** 2 ταχύς, εια, ύ
      1 ⓑ β. without delay, quickly, at once (though it is not always poss. to make a clear distinction betw. this mng. and the one in 2)…. This is prob. the place for the ερχεσθαι ταχύ of Rv: 2:5 v.l. (many cursives and printed texts), 16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:7, 12, 20 (P-ÉLangevin, Jésus Seigneur, ’67, 209–35).
      2 pert. to a relatively brief time subsequent to another point of time, neut. sg. as adv. in a short time, soon (cp. 1bβ above and τάχος 2)

      • Christopher Hays says:

        Yeah, I think it is true that at least most of them expect that (at least Mark, Paul, and Revelation), although I think Luke and 2 Peter are trying to deal with the fact that, late in the first century, he still had not returned.

        • Eric Weiss says:

          Thanks, Dr. Hays!

          2 Peter definitely seems like an apologetic for why the Parousia hadn’t yet occurred. I wrote this a few years back, which may be similar to the thoughts in your book re: the Return being tied to our behavior:

          http://theoblogoumena.blogspot.com/search/label/2%20Peter

          In another reply you said you think Hebrews was written AFTER the destruction of the Temple, but it seems to me that the author thinks the Temple is still standing – otherwise, wouldn’t she/he have been more explicit re: it no longer existing? Also, didn’t John A. T. Robinson in Redating the New Testament argue that every NT document was written before 70 AD per the following: “One of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climactic event of the period – the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and with it the collapse of institutional Judaism based on the temple – is never once mentioned as a past fact. “

          • Christopher Hays says:

            Hi Eric,

            Love the blog post. Yeah, that’s the gist of what we would argue!

            JAT Robinson did date everything pre70, but FWIW he’s considered pretty eccentric. The fact that the NT authors never explicitly say that the temple was destroyed isn’t really the “dog that didn’t bark” that Robinson contends it is, since all the narratives of the NT are dramatically pre-70. Given the tradition of the church that Mark was written just after the death of Peter (mid 60s), and given the findings of Synoptic scholarship (where 99.9% of scholars agree that Matthew and Luke used Mark), it’s almost universally agreed that at least Matthew or Luke have to be post 70.

            Still, things are less cut and dry re: Hebrews. There is definitely a debate on whether Hebrews is written pre or post-70, and sharp folks are on both sides. I’m just on the post-70 side. ;-D

    • Christopher Hays says:

      Indeed! You are right that the book ain’t cheap, but hopefully in a few months the price on Amazon will drop down. We have been told that when we get through the first (small) run of hardbacks, it will be released as a cheaper paperback. Thanks for your interest, in any scenario!

      • Eric Weiss says:

        Any chance of a Logos edition?

        • Christopher Hays says:

          Interesting idea. They have not asked yet!

          • travieso says:

            Mr Hays, I would welcome an opportunity to present a reformed postmillennial preterism.

          • Pete E. says:

            You can do so but off this thread, perhaps on an email exchange with Hays. I’m the meantime, can I suggest you cool your guns? Hays and Stine are established scholars making a point briefly in a blog post that they treat more fully in book form. They’re not fools because you think differently.

  • Ken Orton says:

    Judgement – well…yes, actually. In 70AD Jerusalem was destroyed (not one stone left standing) and the Jewish nation was scattered and subsequently ended. According to their own writings today there are no ethnic Jews left on earth – the end of the age. Seated on the throne – well…..yep, actually. After the judgement. The use of a threat of “another return” by churches for many years has been merely and simply to attempt to control and convert people. It’s just wrong to believe all this “another return” nonsense and very clear if you just read the Bible and consider the history and the audience relevance.

  • Ken Orton says:

    Judgement – well…yes, actually. In 70AD Jerusalem was destroyed (not one stone left standing) and the Jewish nation was scattered and subsequently ended. According to their own writings today there are no ethnic Jews left on earth – the end of the age. Seated on the throne – well…..yep, actually. After the judgement. The use of a threat of “another return” by churches for many years has been merely and simply to attempt to control and convert people. It’s just wrong to believe all this “another return” nonsense and very clear if you just read the Bible and consider the history and the audience relevance.

  • Andrew Watson says:

    Another answer: Jesus didnt actually say he was coming back. or Jesus is not devine/all knowing so some of his ravings are useful and others not useful. Anthropologically religions do need a intricate framework of reasons to be relevant- a good one is “hurry up and decide/repent now” you dont know when the judgement is coming. – Just like jesus’s tower of siloam’s “repent because you could perish at anytime”.

    I suggest such exhortations are less truth, and more a form of persuassion.
    and I go further: Apocolyptic type literature does seem more a persuassion than truth – even when uttered by Jesus.

    I suggest the most enduring concept jesus taught was: forgive others so that God can forgive you. A message not pointing to jesus at all, or future events – but about the nature of humans in relation to God and each other.

  • Andrew Watson says:

    Another answer: Jesus didnt actually say he was coming back. or Jesus is not devine/all knowing so some of his ravings are useful and others not useful. Anthropologically religions do need a intricate framework of reasons to be relevant- a good one is “hurry up and decide/repent now” you dont know when the judgement is coming. – Just like jesus’s tower of siloam’s “repent because you could perish at anytime”.

    I suggest such exhortations are less truth, and more a form of persuassion.
    and I go further: Apocolyptic type literature does seem more a persuassion than truth – even when uttered by Jesus.

    I suggest the most enduring concept jesus taught was: forgive others so that God can forgive you. A message not pointing to jesus at all, or future events – but about the nature of humans in relation to God and each other.

  • Andy Zach says:

    Regarding the two ‘problem’ scriptures you gave: “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power” (Mark 9:1).

    I have usually understood to refer to the transfiguration, which occurred soon after this. See Matt 16 and 17. Since Jesus said ‘some of you standing here’, refers to some of the apostles, which confirms this interpretation. If He had meant His return to judgment, everyone would see Him, as He stated during the Olivet prophecy.

    The other problem scripture, given during the Olivet prophecy, ‘He assured them, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place” (13:30)—“all these things” apparently including reference to the “Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”

    I have always understood ‘this generation’ to apply to the generation alive at the time of His return. In other words, all the signs would occurs within one generation. There is a valid reason to interpret it as the apostles’ generation, for Jesus answered 3 questions: 1) when will these things happen? (specifically, the destruction of the Temple, which they had just discussed) 2) What is the sign of your coming? and 3) The end of the age?

    The apostles assumed all would happen simultaneously. Jesus answered each of these questions in detail, but separately. See Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 for details.

    • Christopher Hays says:

      Great comments. And I agree that the Synoptic authors do see a partial fulfilment of Mark 9:1 in the transfiguration (we get into that in the book, but alas, no time in the blog).

      I think you are right that the apostles initially assumed that Jesus’ second coming would coincide with the judgment of Jerusalem. We argue that the later NT texts start to pry those two events apart, and we explain why that doesn’t undermine the legitimacy of Jesus’ teaching.

      • Phil Ledgerwood says:

        I think later NT texts don’t so much pry them apart as broaden the scope. Jesus’ projected outcomes seem to be limited to Jerusalem, but by the time we get to some of Paul’s writings and later texts, the scope of the judgement and consequent reign of YHWH extends to the oikoumene. If that is so, then we’d need to look past 70 AD for some referents, but history has several good contenders for this position, not the least of which the widespread growth of Christianity in the Empire resulting in the conversion of her emperor and the deposing of pagan power.

        I should probably just read your book instead of getting into all this in comments about a series that is just about a tiny sliver (gotta wait for that price to come down), and I am excited about any project that shakes up dusty, “settled” theological ideas whether I end up fully agreeing or not, so I am glad you’re doing this. I’m just having trouble warming up to a definition of the parousia that -seems- (without reading the book) to identify the Futurist definition as essentially correct.

        • Christopher Hays says:

          Thanks very much for this interaction, Phil. I think that our position would be categorized as squarely eclectic, combing elements of preterism and futurism. But I really appreciate your exchange with me on this topic, and your (laudable and rare!) willingness to delve into the whole argument (which is of course the purpose of a teaser blog post like this). Peace!

    • travieso says:

      The problem with seeing the transfiguration as the fulfillment is the parallel passage in Matthew says that the coming Jesus refers to is accompanied by heavenly hosts and a judgment with rewards so that didn’t happen at the Transfiguration. Besides the Transfiguration happen 6 days later and how many of them died in between that time? ” some of you might die in the next six days…! ”

      27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
      28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” – Matthew 16:27-28

      • Andy Zach says:

        Reasonable argument. However, in my opinion, the two statements do not refer to the same event. v. 27 speaks of Jesus coming in judgment with His holy angels, just as He says in Matthew 24. v. 28 refers to some of the apostles living to see Jesus coming in His kingdom. v. 28 was fulfilled by the transfiguration. v. 27 was not. The later prophecy of 24:30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

        This passage links with v. 27 and Jesus here identifies it as yet future. Note also in v. 28 Jesus refers to the apostles’ future deaths. It is clear from Daniel, Revelation, 2 Thessalonians and especially 1 Corinthians 15, that those alive at Jesus coming who are His will never die. Jesus indicates by this death reference that the apostles will die, but some will see Him in His glory at His return, which is what the transfiguration vision reveals.

  • Andy Zach says:

    Regarding the two ‘problem’ scriptures you gave: “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power” (Mark 9:1).

    I have usually understood to refer to the transfiguration, which occurred soon after this. See Matt 16 and 17. Since Jesus said ‘some of you standing here’, refers to some of the apostles, which confirms this interpretation. If He had meant His return to judgment, everyone would see Him, as He stated during the Olivet prophecy.

    The other problem scripture, given during the Olivet prophecy, ‘He assured them, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place” (13:30)—“all these things” apparently including reference to the “Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”

    I have always understood ‘this generation’ to apply to the generation alive at the time of His return. In other words, all the signs would occurs within one generation. There is a valid reason to interpret it as the apostles’ generation, for Jesus answered 3 questions: 1) when will these things happen? (specifically, the destruction of the Temple, which they had just discussed) 2) What is the sign of your coming? and 3) The end of the age?

    The apostles assumed all would happen simultaneously. Jesus answered each of these questions in detail, but separately. See Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 for details.

    • Christopher Hays says:

      Great comments. And I agree that the Synoptic authors do see a partial fulfilment of Mark 9:1 in the transfiguration (we get into that in the book, but alas, no time in the blog).

      I think you are right that the apostles initially assumed that Jesus’ second coming would coincide with the judgment of Jerusalem. We argue that the later NT texts start to pry those two events apart, and we explain why that doesn’t undermine the legitimacy of Jesus’ teaching.

  • travieso says:

    I am dumbfounded. This article is incredulous.
    I would be more than happy to help you understand the nature of the NT eschatology: preterism.
    But, again, really? This is the best you can do? I’d rather be a full-preterist than deny Jesus and the Apostles knew what they were talking about.
    Start with Matthew. From the beginning. Tell me at which point in the narrative, Jesus’ words about judgement does not have to do with Israel’s coming judgment.

    • Gary says:

      American revivalism needs heightened drama though.

    • Dennis Kimble says:

      I agree completely. It’s not that Jesus was wrong. It’s that we have been wrong. Jesus did come on the clouds in judgment in one generation just as He said. To not even give lip service to preterism that takes these statements of Christ’s return as having been fulfilled is really sad and I feel negligent

  • travieso says:

    I am dumbfounded. This article is incredulous.
    I would be more than happy to help you understand the nature of the NT eschatology: preterism.
    But, again, really? This is the best you can do? I’d rather be a full-preterist than deny Jesus and the Apostles knew what they were talking about.
    Start with Matthew. From the beginning. Tell me at which point in the narrative, Jesus’ words about judgement does not have to do with Israel’s coming judgment.

  • Peter brewster says:

    I thought the accuracy of a prophet’s prediction actually occuring was a litmus test of a true prophet.

    • Christopher Hays says:

      Yes and no! That’s one of the fascinating things about the Old Testament canon! Deuteronomy says precisely that, and Jeremiah says something different! My buddy Casey talks about the Jeremiah side of things in our second post, which has just come out today.

  • Peter brewster says:

    I thought the accuracy of a prophet’s prediction actually occuring was a litmus test of a true prophet.

    • Christopher Hays says:

      Yes and no! That’s one of the fascinating things about the Old Testament canon! Deuteronomy says precisely that, and Jeremiah says something different! My buddy Casey talks about the Jeremiah side of things in our second post, which has just come out today.

  • jeremy says:

    Author of article missed the fact that John the beloved asked to remain until the end, and it was granted. The author is simply trying to find a rational answer to what seems for him a delay. It’s not, it was always going to take this long. Watch the signs given, we are close but still have some important things yet to come prior to the second coming.

  • jeremy says:

    Author of article missed the fact that John the beloved asked to remain until the end, and it was granted. The author is simply trying to find a rational answer to what seems for him a delay. It’s not, it was always going to take this long. Watch the signs given, we are close but still have some important things yet to come prior to the second coming.

  • Jonstzel says:

    That’s neat. Btw I rather liked that Challenges of Historical Criticism book, I’ll have to check out this book too. 🙂

  • Pete E. says:

    When Hays says Jesus was “wrong” he is being provocative!! The whole point of these posts is that prophecies are conditional and therefore NOT wrong.

    • Dennis Kimble says:

      I understand and I thank you for your response. I just believe Jesus did come back…in judgment, just like other prior “comings” in judgment in the OT and preterism addresses this fact and it wasn’t even considered. I believe his “second coming” wasn’t what we were expecting….just like His first coming…

      • Peter Bach says:

        Ding Ding Ding! Give the man a Cigar! You hit the nail on the head. Preterism is the only view that harmonizes scripture, shuts down the skeptics and Affirms the 1st century Immanency. The authors correctly cite that the NT is replete with promises of a 1st century return in that original, apostolic “generation”, but then fall into the same trap as the typical futurist by saying “we’re still here so It couldn’t have happened” – I do give them credit for not attempting to claim the prophesies of an imminent 1st century return do not exist the way most modern futurists do, but they do fall into the same trap as modern futurists by not even entertaining the possibility that they have mis interpreted NATURE of that return. The OT is awash with examples of previously fulfilled judgements where God “came” on the clouds, was seen by the eyes of all nations weilding His sword, destroying His enemies with His brightness, melting mountains, causing the heavens to dissolve, the sun to go dark, the stars to fall, the moon to turn to blood, etc…. There is no scriptural instruction that I am aware of that teaches us to interpret “God rides a cloud and was seen by the eyes of all Nations” in the OT in Polar opposite fashion to “He is coming on the clouds and every eye shall see” in the NT, yet that’s what they do.

  • Pete E. says:

    But do you also have no choice but to accept on the same grounds that Jesus will return “soon?” That is he point these posts are addressing.

    • Andy Zach says:

      “Soon” is ambiguous. See 2 Peter 3:8-9. We have already seen the Olivet prophecy is divided into three answers: 1) the fall of the temple; 2) the sign of His coming; 3) the end of the age. Peter tells us these things may take 1000s of years. In Acts 2 Peter says the end of the age is already here, with Joel 2 being partially fulfilled by Pentecost. The fall of the Temple was “soon”–40 years after Jesus spoke these words. The end of the age extends to our day. What we can say for sure is the gospel of the kingdom is going to the world like never before and that is the sign of the end. Matt. 24;14

    • Andy Zach says:

      I did a quick search for ‘soon’ in the NT. In no prophecy does it say Jesus’ coming is ‘soon’.

  • Christopher Hays says:

    Thank you very much!

  • Christopher Hays says:

    Thanks very much for this interaction, Phil. I think that our position would be categorized as squarely eclectic, combing elements of preterism and futurism. But I really appreciate your exchange with me on this topic, and your (laudable and rare!) willingness to delve into the whole argument (which is of course the purpose of a teaser blog post like this). Peace!

  • Pete E. says:

    “So I disagree with 99.9% of the scholars! ” Godspeed to you, Andy. Godspeed.

    • Andy Zach says:

      Heh. My point is an ad authority argument is unconvincing. Rather, give me the facts which support the theory the synoptic gospels were written after 70 AD. My argument for pre-70 is 1) Acts stops in 62 AD, presumably when Paul was released; 2) Luke was written before Acts; 3) Acts was written no earlier than 62 AD, but could have been written while Paul was in prison, with Luke near by; 4) This puts Acts in the mid- to late-60s and Luke in the early 60s or the 50s. 5) Most authorities agree Mark and Matthew were written before Luke, and Luke himself says he consulted others, which puts him after Mark and Matthew, which puts them in the 50s.

      • Pete E. says:

        Maybe you just need to read more? With an open mind? It’s just, Andy, I hear this quite often: I don’t accept the scholarly consensus and I am brave and unbiased for doing so. This is standard fundamentalist argumentation and it rarely gains ground.

      • Andrew Dowling says:

        Andy, my friend . . there is LOTS and LOTS of scholarship that has all come to the conclusion the NT (besides the authentic Pauline epistles) were written after 70 AD, with several works (the Petrine epistles, Acts, the Pastoral Epistles) written in the 1st half of the 2nd century.

      • Bones says:

        Studies on the Gospel of Mark alone show it was written post 70CE….

        Mark 5 actually refers to an even where the X Legon (whose emblem was a pig/boar) drove Jewish rebels into the sea and massacred them at Gadara….this is related in Josephus War on the Jews which included the fact that many rich locals were happy to see the Roman Legions (compare that with Mark’s account who are scared of Jesus for driving the Legion into the sea). see Exegesis Mark 5.1-20 – Part 3 – Josephus and Mark, Dueling Propagandists http://unsettledchristianity.com/exegesis-mark-5-1-20-part-3-josephus-and-mark-dueling-propagandists/

        Also Mark’s Little Apocalypse relates to events which concern the Siege of Jerusalem including the Abomination of Desolation which relates to the desecration of the Temple by the Romans. Let the reader understand.

        http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/mark.html

  • Hi Christopher,

    Well, technically, Daniel 7 does not say the Son of Man is riding the clouds. It says he is “coming with the clouds of heaven, and he came to the Ancient One.” You might be thinking of Isaiah 19 where God is described as “riding on the clouds” when he comes to Egypt to judge them. According to Isaiah 19, this judgement happens by God handing them over to another Empire, but is also described in apocalyptic terms like the Nile drying up and fish mourning.

    I think we can probably agree that when Egypt was conquered by the Persians, God did not literally appear in the sky riding clouds. It’s cosmic-apocalyptic imagery that describes a spiritual dimension to a historical event that, while incredibly significant to the ancient world, would otherwise be unremarkable from a supernatural standpoint.

    I think the “clouds of heaven” indicate the Son of Man acting as YHWH’s agent as well as providing that window into the spiritual realities behind these historical events, which is the occurrence in Isaiah 19 as well as a common feature of Jewish apocalyptic, not the least of which the book of Revelation.

    In Daniel 7, everything seems to be happening on earth. The pagan beast-king is a king of the earth who is judged and his dominion is taken away. I’d think, per your point, the adoption of the “coming with the clouds” imagery by Matthew and Luke would be pertinent here, as both of them clearly identify the Son of Man coming to earth.

    The whole complex of “mundane historical event” being described prophetically as a cosmic, heavenly driven affair seems to me to be fairly common, and I would expect that the judgement of Egypt, the judgement of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the judgement of the Temple power structure, and even the judgement of Rome herself, insofar as these things are described prophetically and apocalyptically, would follow the same pattern of occurring on earth as concrete historical outcomes.

    If this is so, then the complex of events spoken of by Jesus would have come to pass and long be in our rear view mirror and his timing statements would be pretty decent. In order for there to be a problem where Jesus prophesied a coming in judgement that didn’t happen, we’d have to understand that coming in judgement in somewhat more literal terms with Jesus visibly appearing in the sky and such, and I think that understanding is unwarranted if Old Testament prophecy is meant to be a hermeneutical guide for us in these matters. Obviously, church tradition has been very varied on that.

    • Bones says:

      Mark 14:62 Jesus said to the high priest and sanhedrin

      And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”

      Mark/Jesus is not speaking to a future generation but the people who were in front of him therefore it cannot be about a futuristic physical return but something else……

  • Fanuel says:

    The enemy sows seed of disbelief in crafty ways. He ignorantly or deliberately fails to recognize that Daniel and prophesied that. The church of Christ would be here on earth past 1260 yrs after Christ’s death and ascension. John, the last of the disciples, at the command of jesus wrote the book of revelation matching the prophetic time line laid down by Daniel long before jesus’ birth.
    Jesus is surely coming back. Not because everyone will be ready but because he has his faithfuls who wait eagerly for the glorious appearing. The faith of many will grow cold. I pray you are not among the many.

    • Pete E. says:

      I should add a standard disclaimer that commenters who think they are the angel to the church at Sardis will be blocked. (Try to smile, Fanuel.)

  • Fanuel says:

    The enemy sows seed of disbelief in crafty ways. He ignorantly or deliberately fails to recognize that Daniel and prophesied that. The church of Christ would be here on earth past 1260 yrs after Christ’s death and ascension. John, the last of the disciples, at the command of jesus wrote the book of revelation matching the prophetic time line laid down by Daniel long before jesus’ birth.
    Jesus is surely coming back. Not because everyone will be ready but because he has his faithfuls who wait eagerly for the glorious appearing. The faith of many will grow cold. I pray you are not among the many.

    • Pete E. says:

      I should add a standard disclaimer that commenters who think they are the angel to the church at Sardis will be blocked. (Try to smile, Fanuel.)

  • Andy Zach says:

    Reasonable argument. However, in my opinion, the two statements do not refer to the same event. v. 27 speaks of Jesus coming in judgment with His holy angels, just as He says in Matthew 24. v. 28 refers to some of the apostles living to see Jesus coming in His kingdom. v. 28 was fulfilled by the transfiguration. v. 27 was not. The later prophecy of 24:30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

    This passage links with v. 27 and Jesus here identifies it as yet future. Note also in v. 28 Jesus refers to the apostles’ future deaths. It is clear from Daniel, Revelation, 2 Thessalonians and especially 1 Corinthians 15, that those alive at Jesus coming who are His will never die. Jesus indicates by this death reference that the apostles will die, but some will see Him in His glory at His return, which is what the transfiguration vision reveals.

  • Pete E. says:

    Yuck. Harmonizing. If only that were possible.

  • travieso says:

    Dennis, do you write or blog? I’d be interested in your opinion here:
    https://forthegloryofgodandkings.com/hermeneutics/preterism-by-any-other-name/

  • Pete E. says:

    Maybe you just need to read more? With an open mind? It’s just, Andy, I hear this quite often: I don’t accept the scholarly consensus and I am brave and unbiased for doing so. This is standard fundamentalist argumentation and it rarely gains ground.

  • Andrew Dowling says:

    Andy, my friend . . there is LOTS and LOTS of scholarship that has all come to the conclusion the NT (besides the authentic Pauline epistles) were written after 70 AD, with several works (the Petrine epistles, Acts, the Pastoral Epistles) written in the 1st half of the 2nd century.

  • Bones says:

    Ched Myers on the Human One……

    “In 8 : 3 8 we have the first of three references in the second half of the Gospel to the epiphany or “advent” of the Human One ( 1 3 :26; 1 4:62). Because of their longstanding failure to understand apocalyptic symbolics, most commentators have interpreted this “coming in glory” to refer to the tradition of the parousia.
    Few, however, can come up with a good reason why Mark should insert such a tradition at this point. But Mark is not attempting to solve the paradox of power he has· just articulated by promising eschatological retribution. Such a view is merely a last-ditch attempt to resolve the scandal of the cross by an appeal to a hermeneutics of triumphalism: “Bear the cross and wear the crown ! ” Moreover, Mark has given us an unmistakable narrative clue to warn us against misconstruing these apocalyptic symbolics. Jesus addresses this warning (“whoever is ashamed”) to “this unfaithful and sinful generation” (genea). But this is the very same “generation” to which Jesus earlier announced that no heavenly sign would be given (8 : 1 1 f. ; the connection is strengthened by the fact that both of these are solemn Amen sayings) ! “This generation” will see “the kingdom come in power” (9: 1) and receive no sign from heaven. This, then, rules out the possibility of the advent of the Human One as a heavenly spectacle. We shall discover that Mark identifies it instead with the event of the cross (below, 1 1 ,D,i; 1 3 ,B) ; that is what “some of those standing here” (9: 1 ) will live to see.”

    Myers, Ched, Binding the Strongman: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus p 248

  • Bones says:

    Ched Myers on the Human One……

    “In 8 : 3 8 we have the first of three references in the second half of the Gospel to the epiphany or “advent” of the Human One ( 1 3 :26; 1 4:62). Because of their longstanding failure to understand apocalyptic symbolics, most commentators have interpreted this “coming in glory” to refer to the tradition of the parousia.
    Few, however, can come up with a good reason why Mark should insert such a tradition at this point. But Mark is not attempting to solve the paradox of power he has· just articulated by promising eschatological retribution. Such a view is merely a last-ditch attempt to resolve the scandal of the cross by an appeal to a hermeneutics of triumphalism: “Bear the cross and wear the crown ! ” Moreover, Mark has given us an unmistakable narrative clue to warn us against misconstruing these apocalyptic symbolics. Jesus addresses this warning (“whoever is ashamed”) to “this unfaithful and sinful generation” (genea). But this is the very same “generation” to which Jesus earlier announced that no heavenly sign would be given (8 : 1 1 f. ; the connection is strengthened by the fact that both of these are solemn Amen sayings) ! “This generation” will see “the kingdom come in power” (9: 1) and receive no sign from heaven. This, then, rules out the possibility of the advent of the Human One as a heavenly spectacle. We shall discover that Mark identifies it instead with the event of the cross (below, 1 1 ,D,i; 1 3 ,B) ; that is what “some of those standing here” (9: 1 ) will live to see.”

    Myers, Ched, Binding the Strongman: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus p 248

  • Bones says:

    Studies on the Gospel of Mark alone show it was written post 70CE….

    Mark 5 actually refers to an even where the X Legon (whose emblem was a pig/boar) drove Jewish rebels into the sea and massacred them at Gadara….this is related in Josephus War on the Jews which included the fact that many rich locals were happy to see the Roman Legions (compare that with Mark’s account who are scared of Jesus for driving the Legion into the sea). see Exegesis Mark 5.1-20 – Part 3 – Josephus and Mark, Dueling Propagandists http://unsettledchristianity.com/exegesis-mark-5-1-20-part-3-josephus-and-mark-dueling-propagandists/

    Also Mark’s Little Apocalypse relates to events which concern the Siege of Jerusalem including the Abomination of Desolation which relates to the desecration of the Temple by the Romans. Let the reader understand.

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/mark.html

  • Jun says:

    These are myths, that’s whay you have been waiting for so long. Jesus is a Greek myth inspired by older myths.

  • FLAT WORLD? YES! says:

    This hole Jesus will return soon jazz is all based on hearsay and nothing more.
    Return from where deep space? Why would this alien even bother revisiting this petri dish like world infested with billions of maggots when there’s so much more out there?

  • Eric Villanueva says:

    Any look into a lexicon shows that the word “generation” (genea) doesn’t mean only a lineage from grandparent, to parent, to child, but also is a legitimate term for, “race.” Could not and should not Jesus have spoken that the race of people that begat the Messiah would not disappear before HIs return, in spite of multiple and vigorous attempts to do so? The statement regarding the kingdom coming with power can easily be seen in the day of Pentecost, referred to in Acts 1:8 and decared to be fulfilled in Matthew 24:14. I don’t think a vague answer of a conditional prophecy suffices in the texts referred to, Jesus didn’t word as such.

  • John Hertzog says:

    What if the second coming already came and went? For centuries the rich and powerful rulers of their time have destroyed any and all writings, and accounts of religons only to create what they wanted everyone to believe and follow.So how do we know we haven’t missed it and we are left behind to serve the rich and powerful .Why would they come clean and lose the hard work and efforts toward advancement of the human race? Maybe we are just here following a false text only to make others short time on this rock enjoyable while soo many suffer while the 1% live high on everyone else’s hard work and pain and suffering.?Throughout history the original texts have been burned then recreated by the powers that be and continually bastardized to the beliefs and to benefit the 1%.Where and what is the truth and does anyone truly even know anymore. Who knows and can properly translate the original language? I understand this maybe pretty heavy but where is any true proof?

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