Could It Be Jesus’s Apostles Were Wrong?
Published 2011 Mar 11
In my Jan. 6 column, I demonstrated from Scripture that Jesus predicted a first-century return.
However, most theologians, presupposing a future advent, feel compelled to interpret the text in ways that deny its natural meaning.
Who is right?
On what basis should we decide whether to accept the literal meaning of Christ’s words or the interpretations of theologians?
The answer is simple.
We need to search the New Testament to determine how Christ’s apostles understood his predictions.
Paul described the apostles as “holy” and the “foundation” of the Church (Eph. 3:5; 2:19-20, New American Standard Version throughout).
So, their interpretation must be deemed the only valid one.
The following is a small sampling of their predictions:
- Paul: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near” (Rom. 13:12);
- Peter: “The end of all things is near” (1 Pet. 4:7);
- James: “The coming of the Lord is near…the Judge is standing right at the door” (Jas. 5:8b, 9b);
- John: “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).
Obviously, the apostles saw no need for interpretation.
John MacArthur, author of Because the Time is Near, writes: “The apostles Paul, Peter, James, and John all wrote that the day of His return is near.”
Many theologians realize this, but simply conclude the apostles were wrong.
This is amazing to me.
How could the apostles of Jesus Christ be mistaken about such an important subject?
They were personally trained by Jesus and, after his ascension, the Holy Spirit guided them “into all the truth” and taught them “what is to come” (John 16:13).
Therefore, whatever they said was to come must be the truth.
The apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, were simply restating Christ’s earlier predictions (John 14:26).
Sadly, you will probably never hear this in church.
Few denominational faith statements allow for it, and any pastor wanting to teach it would likely be censored by his church’s board of directors.
However, the author C. S. Lewis, writing outside the walls of organized churches clinging to cherished traditions, was free to express the truth: “It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime…they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so.”
The implications are profound.
If we conclude the apostles were wrong about all this, we must also believe Jesus was wrong because he told them what to preach.
Notice who was telling Jesus what to say: “The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24b).
Was God the Father mixed up too?
Jesus continued: “All things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).
For those with eyes to see, what actually emerges is an unbreakable chain of inspiration and authority with absolutely no room for error.
The Father taught Jesus, Jesus taught his apostles, and the apostles recorded his teachings in Scripture.
Simple sequential logic dictates those who claim the apostles were wrong may as well call God and Jesus Christ incompetent, and Scripture an uninspired work of fiction.
Why anyone would trust such sources for salvation is baffling.
Furthermore, if Jesus failed to return in the first century, when he predicted he would, what sane person would expect him to return now?
Why would Jesus warn against false prophets (Matt. 24:11), and then choose apostles who turned out to be false prophets themselves?
Under the Old Covenant, those making false predictions in the name of God were condemned to death (Deut. 18:20-22).
So, if the predictions of Jesus and his apostles did not come to pass, we arrive at a most bizarre conclusion: Christ’s crucifixion and the martyrdoms of his apostles were actually justified.
Should we trust the apostles or believe uninspired theologians who contradict them with interpretations that make God an abysmal failure, legitimize the crucifixion of Christ and impugn the authority of Scripture?
This is easy for me.
I am compelled by the testimony of God the Father, Jesus Christ, the apostles and Scripture to conclude the Second Coming was associated with momentous first-century events including the mass persecution of Christians, Judean Revolt and Roman Civil War.
Michael Fenemore of Kamloops is the editor and co-author of
The Twilight of Postmillennialism, available at Amazon.com.
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