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Series: New Testament Eschatology

From time to time, I hear a lot about the early church’s understanding of the “end of the world” or their belief that the “Second Coming of Jesus” would take place within their generation. And it’s usually not in a very good light. “They were obviously mistaken,” is often the remark I hear most. I know it’s hard to imagine but what if we’re mistaken? What if we’ve misunderstood what they meant? I’m hoping that this series on some of the major statements from the New Testament about the “end of the world” will show that they weren’t mistaken in their understanding of the “signs of the times.”
Before we begin, however, let’s look at some terms that will have to be used. As most of you know, I try to refrain from using big “church” words. My reason for this is because those words are like suitcases where ideas and thoughts and understandings are packed into them. To explain the words would mean a long time spent unpacking the suitcases and explaining their contents. While such a pilgrimag…

Proper 19 (24) (Year A)

Matthew 18:21-35 (TIB[1]; adapted):

Peter came up and asked Jesus, “When a sister or brother wrongs me, how many times must I forgive? Seven times?”
22“No,” Jesus replied, “not seven times; I tell you seventy times seven. 23And here’s why.
“The [Realm] of heaven is like a ruler who decided to settle accounts with the royal officials. 24When the audit was begun, one was brought in who owed tens of millions of dollars. 25As the debtor had no way of paying, the ruler ordered this official to be sold, along with family and property, in payment of the debt. 
26“At this, the official bowed down in homage and said, ‘I beg you, your highness, be patient with me and I will pay you back in full!’ 27Moved with pity, the ruler let the official go and wrote off the debt.
28“Then that same official went out and met a colleague who owed the official twenty dollars. The official seized and throttled this debtor with the demand, ‘Pay back what you owe me!’
29“The debtor dropped to the ground and began to pl…

Proper 18 (23) (Year A)

Romans 13:8-14 (CEB; adapted):[1]Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. 9The commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. 10Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is what fulfills the Law.
11As you do all this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep. Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had faith. 12The night is almost over, and the day is near. So let’s get rid of the actions that belong to the darkness and put on the weapons of light. 13Let’s behave appropriately as people who live in the day, not in partying and getting drunk, not in sleeping around and obscene behavior, not in fighting and obsession. 14Instead, dress yourself with the [King], Jesus [the] Christ, and don…

Proper 17 (22) (Year A)

Matthew 16.21-28 (NLT; adapted):[1]From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he’d suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He’d be killed, but on the third day he’d be raised from the dead.
22But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
23Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You’re a dangerous trap to me. You’re seeing things merely from a human point of view and not from God’s.”
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you’ll save it. 26And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more th…