Bible Proves Christ Should Have Been Back By Now
Published 2011 Jan 07
When I point out Christ’s return was supposed to occur within the lifetime of his apostles, some think I’m attacking the Bible.
So, I would like to make it clear from the outset I am a devoted Christian — one who believes we must be honest with Scripture.
Granted, Jesus did not know the “day and hour” of his return (Matt. 24:36).
However, he knew it would take place before his generation had expired (v. 34).
In other words, the Second Coming must have occurred in the past.
This will sound outrageous to most Christians, but let us consider some pertinent passages.
• Matt. 10:23 — Jesus instructed his disciples to hurry because the time for preaching before his return was relatively short: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (English Standard Version throughout).
It would certainly not have taken 2,000 years to reach the towns of Israel.
Moreover, most of those towns had been destroyed by A.D. 70, so Christ must have returned by that time.
• Matt. 16:27-28 — Jesus claimed the Judgment and Second Coming would occur before all of his contemporaries had died: “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. 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.”
Most commentators claim that this was fulfilled by the Transfiguration recorded in Matthew 17.
However, that vision looked nothing like Christ’s prediction.
The Judgment did not take place during the Transfiguration, nor were any angels present.
• Matt. 24:33-34 — Responding to questions regarding signs to precede the temple’s destruction (v. 3), Jesus emphatically declared the entire Olivet Prophecy would be fulfilled before his generation had passed: “So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
The very disciples to whom Jesus was speaking would see “all these things” including “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” (v. 30) and the gathering of “his elect” (v. 31).
A baffled C. S. Lewis concluded that “he was wrong…He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else. It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible” (The World’s Last Night and Other Essays [New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1973], 98).
Lewis was struggling to be honest, but his conclusion is far from satisfying.
• Luke 21 — Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse reveals that events surrounding the temple’s demise would mark the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy culminating in the Resurrection, Rapture and arrival of the Kingdom of God: “these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written” (v. 22); “when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (v. 28); “when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (v. 31).
• Rev. 22:10 — “The revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1) promised first-century Christians several times that the fulfillment of the events predicted therein was about to take place.
Notice especially chapter 22:10: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”
Recall Daniel’s prophecy was sealed because its fulfillment was to take place centuries into the future (Dan. 12:9).
However, Revelation was not sealed because the time for its fulfillment was “near.”
The most common response to all this is to suggest that God counts time differently than we do, i.e., “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years” (2 Pet. 3:8).
But, the same people offering this questionable solution will argue passionately that the six days of creation were literal days: “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Gen. 1:5b).
Apparently, God counts time exactly the same way we do even though, as Peter noted, he has a long-term perspective.
Jesus declared he would return to his generation.
His apostles believed him, taught the same gospel and recorded their inspired predictions in the Bible.
Those “holy apostles” (Eph. 3:5) are the very foundation of the church (Eph. 2:19b-20; Rev. 21:14).
So, who are we to contradict them, thereby making them (and Jesus) false prophets and destroying the authority of Holy Scripture?
The belief that Christ’s return relates to first-century events is called preterism.
You can learn more about it at preterism.info.
Michael Fenemore of Kamloops is the editor and co-author of
The Twilight of Postmillennialism, available at Amazon.com.
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