An Alternative Approach
Series: An Eschatological Mix
AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH
Encountering the numerous plainly-stated time statements attached to the eschatological sayings of the New Testament has brought about some less-than-desirable responses on the part of Bible commentators - - New Testa- ment expositors in particular. Some feel compelled, in the name of honesty, to question the validity of the Bible. They read the eschatological pronouncements of Christ and the subsequent epistles written by His apostles and come away rightly sensing A KEEN EXPECTATION OF NEARNESS on the part of Jesus and His followers. They (Jesus and company) clearly seem to have been eagerly anticipating the fulfillment of God's promises in that first-century generation. But because mother earth still stands, the analysts are driven to conclude that Jesus and His disciples were mistaken: that things did not work out the way they thought and taught. The upshot of the misconceptions of these so-called pundits results in a denial of both the divinity of Christ (Jn.1:1 & 14:6) and the plenary verbal inspiration of the Bible as taught in 2Tim.3:16; 2Pet.1:21; Jn.17:17 and elsewhere.
Another approach is to ignore these “problem” passages. It is shameful to see how some exegetists gloss over or totally disregard New Testament citations which are pregnant with imminency, and there are many! It is also dis-turbing to hear little but the sound of silence on this matter from our pulpit preachers, college professors, Bible-class instructors, etal.. Still another tactic includes the mishandling of texts by changing the obvious meaning of words like: near, soon, shortly, quickly, at hand, generation, last days, last hour, and others. It is not uncommon to witness the usage of cherry-picked references like 2Pet.3:8 and Mt.24:36 in an effort to cancel out, nullify and/or override these many and varied “time-binders” supplied by the Holy Spirit (Jn.14:13). Whether unwittingly or intentionally, not a few of these God-given time restraints have been elasticized beyond recognition and reasonable acceptability.
Is there not an alternative approach that does not require one to deny, explain away or re-define such verses? Simply put, A FIRST-CENTURY FULFILLMENT WOULD PROVIDE A PERFECT HISTORICAL FRAMEWORK that would credit Jesus and the apostolic band with speaking truth while simultaneously addressing this expectation of nearness. When this alternative paradigm is adopted, one need not deny! Neither will one need to opt to avoid or overlook a sizable portion of Scripture. And new definitions will not be necessary because words can be understood in their ordinary sense. According to Christ Jesus, the destruction of the temple in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 was the precise time when “all things written” came to be fulfilled (Lk.21:22). Mark's gospel records that the apostle Peter was present for the Lord's Olivet discourse (Mk.13:3-4). Some thirty years later Peter wrote an epistle just prior to this cataclysmic, covenant-changing crescendo echoing the words of Jesus by reiterating, the end of all things is at hand (1Pet.4:7).
Terry Siverd / Cortland Church of Christ