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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…

Liturgy of the Palms (Year A)

Matthew 21.1-11 (TIB;[1] adapted): As they approached Jerusalem, entering Beth-Phage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent off two disciples 2with the instructions, “Go into the village straight ahead of you, and immediately you’ll find a tethered donkey with her colt standing beside her. Untie them and lead them back to me. 3If anyone questions you, say, ‘The Rabbi needs them.’ Then they’ll let them go at once.” 4This came about to fulfill what was said through the prophet: 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Your Sovereign comes to you without display, riding on a donkey, on a colt — the foal of a beast of burden.’ ” 6So the disciples went off and did what Jesus had ordered. 7They brought the donkey and her colt, and after they laid their cloaks on the animals, Jesus mounted and rode toward the city.
8Great crowds of people spread their cloaks on the road, while some began to cut branches from the trees and lay them along the path. 9The crowds — those who went in front of Jesus and those who f…

Fifth Sunday in Lent (Year A)

John 11.1-45 (TIB[1]; adapted): There was a certain man named Lazarus, who was sick. He and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were from the village of Bethany. 2Mary was the one who had anointed the feet of Jesus with perfume and dried his feet with her hair, and it was her brother Lazarus who was sick. 3The sisters sent this message to Jesus: “Rabbi, the one you love is sick.”
4When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not end in death; it’s happening for God’s glory, so that God’s Only Begotten may be glorified because of it.” 5Jesus loved these three very much. 6Yet even after hearing that Lazarus was sick, he remained where he was staying for two more days. 7Finally he said to the disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8They protested, “Rabbi, it was only recently that [some of the religious leaders there] tried to stone you — and you want to go back there again?”
9Jesus replied, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk by day don’t stumble, because they see the worl…

Third Sunday in Lent (Year A)

John 4.5-42 (TIB[1]; adapted): [Jesus] stopped at Sychar, a town in Samaria, near the tract of land Jacob had given to his son Joseph, 6and Jacob’s Well was there. Jesus, weary from the journey, came and sat by the well. It was around noon.
7When [Photini], a Samaritan woman, came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8The disciples had gone off to the town to buy provisions.
9[Photini] replied, “You’re a Jew. How can you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” — since Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans.
10Jesus answered, “If only you recognized God’s gift, and who it is that’s asking you for a drink, you would have asked him for a drink instead, and he would have given you living water.”
11“If you please,” [Photini] challenged Jesus, “you don’t have a bucket and this well is deep. Where do you expect to get this ‘living water’? 12Surely you don’t pretend to be greater than our ancestors Leah and Rachel and Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it with their descendants…