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A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate
Studies aDfl Research in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for of
Master of Arts . -
Cameron Afzal
Faculty of Religious Studies
HcGill University Montreal
December, 1982
Copyright Cameron Afzal 1982

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This study attempts to place the apocalypse in relation to
apocalyptic issues which were of concern ta early Christian com-
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munities. These issues are focused mainly on the Parousia, its
time and the impact of its expectation on Church lUe. Pritgitive
Christianity experienced diJficulties reslting from the expecta-
tion of an imminent Parousia. Similarly, its non-occurrence be-
came the source for a different set of issues. The Church also
experienced problems which were caused by inheqted
The Book of Revelation lies within the matrix of apocalyptic
tradition represented by other writings of the' New Testament. It
addresses .hich' arose becau,e of the Church
? a,,,areness of
a "delay" f the Parousia. A primary concern of the author is to
reiutroduce an eschatolagical motivation iuta the life of' early
Christian conununities.\ The Book of Revelation reminds, the Church
of her eschatological and therefore, reminds her
members of the importance of follm.ring the Lamb.
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Cet te t ude cherche mett re d'Apocalypse en rappor t avec
les apocalyptiqus de la communaut chrtienne
Ces intressaient avant tout le moment:
p devant se produire la Parousie, et l'impact de son attente
sur la vie de l'Eglise. Le Christianisme primitif connaissait
des difficults C'bnscutives l'attente de \la Parousie imminente.
Par ailleurs. le flait que cet vnement ne s'est pas produit
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a cr d'autres proccupations. L'Eglise a galement connu
des problmes crs par ses traditions
L' lyp se Johanniq ue se trouve dans la matrice de la
tradition apocalyptique reprscnt par d'autres crits du
Nouveau Testament. Elle port,e sur des, problmes qui ont surgi
cause de la conscience dans l'Eglise de la Parousie "retarde."
Un souci fondamental' de l'auteur est de rintroduire un mobile
eschatologique dans la vie des communauts chrtiennes primitives.
L'Apocalypse rappelle l'Eglise sa significat.ion eschatologique,
et par consquent. rappelle ses membres. combien il est important
de sivre
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Q'uotations trom 'except othertvise noted, are
from the Revi.sed Standard Version (1971) of the Bible. When Greek
has been used it follows the of the third edi tion of The United
Bible Greek New Testament (Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamen-
tum ed. XXVI).
l wish' to express my" appreciation, for tne support l have re-
,ceived at the Faculty of Religious Studies lere at MeGill. l am
gra'teful ta my instructors, the staff of the Reli.gious Studies
Library, and my fellow students who assisted me in the ptlrsuit of
j acaYemic up.derstanding. l am especially ta my thesis
advisor 'Dr. Frederik Wisse his insight and patient coneern.
December, 1982

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The Fear ,.of Missing Out On Parousia
2. The Question of the Status of Those Who Had
Died Before the Parousia
3. The Question of an E'thic"
1. Questi"Ons Regardin'g the Time oi the 1?arousia
2: The Dange r of Mo raI Laxi ty
1. Probiems Caused by Tradition's Inherited from
,Pr.e-Christian Sourcs "
CA) '!;he ProblePl of the General Resurrection of
Dead 69
(B) The Status of the Jews at the Parousia ' 78
2. Problems by Tradi tions Inherited' from
'the Primitive Community 83
(A) The Resolution of Caused by
Tradi tions whichpDelimit the Time of the
Parousia to the Lifetime of the- First Generation 84
CR) Ap.oc'alypt:i'c Traditions Reflected or Preserved
in the Synop'tic Eschatological Discourse
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1. The Place of the Apocalypse in Relation to Issues
,Which Ftrst Generation Christians
Issues Arising.out of the Community's
Expectation of an Imminent Parousia
(H) The Apocalyps.e and the Issue of the General-'
"', Resurrection of the Dead
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(C) The Apocalypse andi/the Status the Jews
at the .
2. The Place of ih Relation, to Issues
Which Arose due to the Delay of the- Parousia
(A) The Apocalypse and Tradi ti ons' Delimi ting the
Parousia to the Lifetime of the First Generati'bn
A Brief Sketch of the Early' s Response
t'o the .
TQe Delay of the Parousia in the Apocalypse
Qf St. John
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The object of this t.hesis is..-to help place the Book of Revelation int}
the life and teaching of the ear"ly Church., The locus of 'this study lies
in placing -Apocalypse in relation ta :i,ssu'es which con-'
fronted early Christian cornrnunities.
The raIe apocalyptic plays in the development of Christian eschatol-
ogy is 'the subject of much debate in modern scholarship . At the turn of
? Q,
the century apocalyptic ideas were recognized as an ff.mportant par't of the
eschatology of the early Church. Hith the advent or" the "de-mythologiz-
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ing" school and tha t of " realized eschatology" in the firs t half of the'
twentieth century, apocalyptic eschatology was consh:lerf"'d a superficial
by-product of a bygone era. As a result, the study of the Book of Reve':'
lation became much of an imperative for many scholars. It i5,only
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lThis was recogrlized in' terms of the "teaching' ef Je&u,s" by 5cholars
like J. Weiss; Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom, tr. by R.H. Hiers and
D.L. Holland, Lives of'Jesus Series ed. by L.E. Keck (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1971) and A. Sch\.,reitzer, The Mystery of the Kingdm of
Gad, tr. by Lm.,rrie (London: .A. & C. Black, 1914), lso The Quest of
ilie Historical tr. by H. Montgomery (London: A. & C. Black, 1910).
Cf. W.C. Kummel, The New Testament: The Histbry of the Investigatm of
its Problems, tr.t by S. Hclean Glmour and H.C, Kee (Nashville: Abingdon
Press, 1972) pp. 226-244.
. ed.
2 '
E.g. R. Bultmann, "New Testament and Mythology", Kerygma and My th-
by H.\.J. Bartsch, tr. by R.H. (London, S.P.C.K., 1953) pp. l'Y
Cf. Kummel, His tory, pp. 363-L.04:
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E.g. C.H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom (London: Nisbet, 1935);
The Apostolic'Preaching and its Developments (Lonaon: Hodder & Stoughton,
1936) .
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in the .Iast decade that New Testament saholar's hve again inquired into
the significance of apocalyptic thought during the first hundred yea,+s of

the Church.
The Apocalypse of John ,i tself remained an enigma. Many!>f the
conventional or standard'methods useful in interpreting New
.. Testament wri tings. have not yielded much fruit for understanding the
Apocalypse. Hs date is still deba.ted, and so also its historical setting.

study seeks therefore to shed sorne light,on these basic questions.
Rather than responding to these questions by "internaI" and "ex-
evidence, a novel approach has been attempted.
The method usd here involves isolating the apocalyptic issues which
were of concern to early Christian congregations. The course these issues
took in the'life of these cornrnunities,
provide a "framework" within which the
and in the teaching of the Church,
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Apocalypse can be placed. Once
this "frame\vork" is established by locating apocalyptic issues in the rest
af the New Testament, the place of the Apocalypse<;\can' be discovered through
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an examination of l. ts response, if any, to these issues.
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The meaning of "apoclyptic" is controversiaL 'A rather narrow
definition of.apocalyptic is' adopted here; one that will help us recover
the apocalyptic cQlcerns of the fiTst, and also remain'within
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J the bound's of sch'olarly. consensus. AU passages which are generally agreed
be,apocalyptic concern the Day of the Lord. They refer to
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or describe a futre reali ty for which hiSrtory has not provided a precedent.
4See T.F.ISGlasson, "What is New Testament Studies
27 (1980) pp. 98-105.
These references, therefore make use of mythological imagery found in the

Church' s inheritance from Judaism and from its Hellenistic environmerrt.
Apocalyptic is'lefined here as those expectations, ideas or teaching \vhich
refers to the future consummation of the age. Issues are here as
the problems or questions which arpse in particular communities together
with the response of particular Churche's ta these problems. Apocalyptic
issues are the problems arising in Christian communities regarding the
Parousia, or Day of the Lord., together with the resolutions of these prob-
lems 'by the Church as reflected in New Testament writings:
The New Testament testifies ta the existence of apocalyptic isslaes
in two ways. In sorne instances direct reference ta the existence of
an issue may be made in a' particular passage. The second way involves an
indirect reference. An issue be "reflected" in a particular passage;
upon examina tion the passage is obviously a response to a problem of an
apocalyptic nature wi thin the communi ty.
This study \vill not attempt a fresh examination of apocalyptic passages.
li terature will be used to establish, where current
scholarly "consensus" with regard ta the issue behind a particular passage.
Where no consensus is apparent, passages will be discussed in greater de-
, The first chapter of this thesis concerns problems ,arising from the
Church" s expectation of an mminent Parousia. second deals with issues
5 5 . B. Frost, Old Testament Apocalyptic, (London: Epworth Press,
1952) p. 248, argues:
it i5 the eschatology which is truth and it i5 the myth
which is the dress - but also . . it is the necessary dress.
There can be no "entmythologisierung" ("de-mythologizing") of
apocalyptic. ' . ,' -'
arising from the "delay" of the Parousia". The third chapter involves
apocalyptic traditions inheri ted by 'the Church which proved problematic
for' early Christians. The last chapter attempts to place the Book of
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Revelation in terms of the, issues discussed, in the first three chapters.
It is hoped that this thesis will he a 'positiv step in the clarification
of' a profound and cornplex early Christian work.

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The New Testament 'in so 'far as it involves the writlng dO\iIl of oral
'ref1eets a time when the Church had become aware of "the delay
of the Parousia." Much of the New Testament, therefore,. reflects apoc-
" alyptic issue& which coneerned the Church during this period Nevert:he-
less, the gospels preserve traditions
from an earlier period when the
expectation of an imminent Parousia had caused dlfficulties for
the Ch.urch.
There are several possible reasons the Church ofa later period
would preserve apocalyptic traditions from the pasto One reason is the
obvious ,preserve the sayings ang traditions attributed to Jesus
and tqe circle. Certain dominical sayings had by this time ae-
quired a status which secured their preservation. A second possible
reason ls that the resolution of a problem caused by "itmninent expecta-
to the la ter Church perennial ques-
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tons about the nature of the Parousia ..
When the ward "tradition" i5 used in this study. it carries the
specifie meaning of the Greek term m pIA. 6 00'( S. l t refers tO"'"the in-
herited, or reeeived teaehing of ,the Church. Cf. R: Theology
of the New Testament, 2 vols. tr. by K. Grobel (New York: Charles Scrib-
nerfs Sons 1951-55), vol. 2 (1955) p. l19f
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Three types of issues arase because of the Chut'ch' s expectation of -"",
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an imminertt Parousfta. They were. (1) the fear Qf missing on the "
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,Parousia, (2) the question of the l'of those who had died
1)" Parousia, and (3) the question of an "interim eth'ic . "
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The problems ta be discussed obere deal n{ainly with particui;r fears
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members of the first tlfe fear was diat'
some people, either because they were not in the right place or not among
-the right miss out on the Parousia. Passages which counsel
the Church not ta be concerned about 'the time or place of the Parousia' ,
were proba1>ly "once" addressed to such fears. These traditions also point
ta fa!se claims and mistaken notions about the Parousia as the source of
these problems.
These fears can perhaps be expressed in terms of questions which
apparently were on the minds of some' of the earliest Christians. "Can
the Parousia happen while l'm not a,,,are of it?" "Will l recognize
Parousia for what it is?" "Where will the Parousia take place?" "Will
the Lord return on the Mount of Olives, ta Jerusalem, Galilee, or in the
'hills of Judea '2,,2 "And if 50, should we not be waiting where the Lord
2Traditions which may have caused sorne ta believe that the places
listed were possible locations for the Parousia may have included: .'
Zech. 14:4 for the Mount of Olives; Jerusalem was the site of resurrec-
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tian appearances, and was also the seat of the Mother Church; W.
the Evangelist; tr. 'by J. Boyce et. al. (Nashville: Abingdon Press
1969) pp. 75-92, argues that Mk. 14:28 and 16:7 calls the disciples ta
Galilee ta await the Parousia; Mk. 13:l4b for the "hills of Judea".
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is going to return?"
Questions like the ones posed above are reflected in sayings pre-
served in the synoptic gospels as Mark 13:21) Matthew Luke,
17:21-24, and 17:37. Among these are the complex of "Lo here, La there"
sayings which include Mk.13:2i, Mt.24:23,26, Lk.17:2l,23.
ings are addressed to a situation in which false claims are
about the Parousia.
The prob1em is presented concisely in
.. And if any one says to you, ItLook, here is the Ch?=,ist!"
br "Look, there he i8!"
ana resolved by
. don't be1ieve it. False Christs and false prophets
will arise and show signs and wonders, ta lead astray,
if possib le, the elect.
13: 21a:
The resolution of the issue ia simp1y an exhortation to the effect that
the communi ty is not to he misled by such false claims. The consoltion
offered to those who wonder about the existence of 5uch i5 that
they were beforehand and as such are a fulfillment of prophecy. 5
3rt cannat be determined if these sayings are aIl from the same
literary source, or whether they cme down to theii respective writers
from different sources in the tradition. For our purposes, it need only
be asserted that the sayings reflect the same kind of prohlem. False
claims about the time or place of the- Parousia were causing anxiety amoo,g
be lievers. ,
4t t will be argued in Chp. III, that the "L9 here, Lo ther,e" sayings
in as much as they are part of the Marcan and Matthean versions of the
eschatologieal discourse, are part of traditions which coneerned the tUPl-
ultuous Events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem (66-70 A.D;). If so,
the "Sitz im Leben" of these sayings is the en-
thusiasm stirred up by the Jewish war. The possibility that these 8ay-
ings originated from sorne period of hightened enthusiasm before the w$'
cannot be excluded; this case the sayings were added t,a the discourse
as further examples of mistaken Parousiac expectation.
SCf. Mk.13:23.
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Matthew and Luke both reflect the fact that the 'nature of the prob-
lem was not simply that false claima were being made about the identity
6 of the returning Lord, but that there was'also anxiety about the place
and the recognition of the Parousia itself. Thus we, read in Matthew
So if they say
not go o1;!t; if
do not believe

to you l "La, he is i,o the ,wildernes.s," do
they say "La, he is in the inner rooms,"
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The question reflected in this verse is twofald. One to be dis-
cussed later, invo1ves the general question about the place of the Par-
ousia. Another, concerns whether the Parousia will be experienced only
by a select few, or by aIl. Matthew 24:26 may reflect actual occurrences
in the Matthean or eariier community, involving people who withdrew into
the witderness ta wait for the Lord, or who waited in private conclaves.
Luke indicates how the beame susceptible to'these claims
when ,one Qf the two versions of the "Lo here, La there" saying ls pref-,
a,ced with Lk.17: 22:
The days are coming when you will desire to see one of
days of the Son of Man, and you will not see i t. "
6The phrase '1in the wilderness" may also be a' reference ta "the
severai messianic pretenders who Josephus, Bellum Judaicum II.258-263
and V1.285-315; mentions as having arisen in the tumu1tuous period ,
of the Jewish War. Because the phrase "inner rooms" is reminiscent
of the room wi th the locked door in John 20, and maybe the "upper room
of Acts 1:13, this verse may be a ta over-zealous believers
seeking to recreate the of the earliest Christians. *
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"d f h S f M" f h P . 7 porase ays 0 t e on 0 an re ers to t e arOUSla. It is
the enthusiasm, the longing the community that 1eads questions
and about the Parousia. This same 10nging, if surrendered
ta, may to believe that what one wants to happen i8 in fact
happening, and as su ch lead to mistaken about the arrivaI of the
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The solution offered by both Matthew and Luke to this problem is
a saying about the universal impact of the Parousia. Matthew 24:27

For as the lightning cornes from the east and shines as
far as the west, 50 will he the coming of the Son of
The saying informs the heare'r that "the manifestation of the Messiah
will,not he reserved for a small company of initiates .. "the Parousia
will be clear ta a11.,,10 It also stresses the, fact that there will he
no mistaking the occurr&ce of the Parousia "any more than one can
See l.H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke (Exeter: The Paternoster
Press, 1978) p. 659; E.E., Ellis, The Gospel of Luke, The New Century
Bible, ed. M. Black (Greenwood: The Attic Press, 1977) p.2ll. The
alternate view, that the phrase refers to the the historical
Jesus, (e.g. Dodd, Parables p.82 n.2; H. Conze1mann, The Theology of
St. Luke, tr. by G. Buswell, (London: Faber and Faber, 1960) p .105
n.3) may not be aIl that contradictory ta the sense of the passage as
it is being interpreted here. The running "here or there" may be a
search for Jesus as He appeared during His life time, this then is
contrasted to the looking forward to the consummation of the age.
Cf. Lk.21:8.
Par. Lk.17:24.
IOn. Hill, The Gospel of Matthew, The New Century Bible, ed. by
M. Black, (London: Oliphants, 1972) p. 322.
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mistake the occurence of lightning which is universally visi"bl. ,,11
The third evangelis t, who uses the "Lo here, La there" saying
twice (Lk.17:21,23),12 thus also presents two ways in which the prob-
lem can be resolved. One way 1s the solution arrived at above wfth
the use of Lk.17:24. The second way seeks to the issues of
false claims about the time of The passage which ad-
dresses this aspect of the issue is Lk.17:20-21:
1 Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of Gad
was coming, he answered them, "The of God 1s
not coming with signs ta be observed (f{E-Trl. frrl.pCt..-
Ti? pif C"!.-blS); nor will they say. l La, here it is!' or
'There:' for behold the Kingdom of God is in the
midst of sou."
These verses serve as an introduction to what follows.
they should not be interpreted in isolation, but should be interpreted
in light of the problem regarding faise claims made about the Par-
The saying resolves this problem by giving the reader a clear
picture of the exact nature of the false claims. The phrase "
7J;.pa.I? P?crc..cJS" indicates problem stems from people trying ta
calculate the time of the end. The evangelist does not negate the
Marshall, p.660.
12 .
See R. Bultmann, Hlstory of the Synoptic Tradition, tr. by
J. Marsh (New York: Harper & Row, 1963)
13Ibid., p.I03.
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The Pharisees would th en becQme foils representing those who
hold incorrect views regarding the .time of the Parousia.
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15 b h d dt' t t . t d h t th va ue a s1gns, ut e oes con emn a cer a1n a 1 u e a ou e
predictability of the Parousia. Therefore, it can be assumed that
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the."signs of'the t1mes, "probably the events of A.D. 66-70 and
the presence of false Messiahs, 17 had caused sorne members of the prim-
itive cornrnunity ta believe that the arrivaI of the Lord cao be pre-
dicted or that it could corne secretly.
Luke 17:20-37 is the evangelist's teaching on the Parausia.
It is made up of sayings which may originally have dealt with prob-
lems caused by "imminent expectation." The section,taken as a whole,
however, addresses the evangelist'"s time; that is, prob1ems caused by
the "delay." Luke 17:20-21, is a good example of a solution reahed
in an earlier period which proved he1pfu1 in 1ater times by answering
pe.rennia1 questions such as those concerning the time of the Parousia.
The resolution of the issue with ";600 1 f3can).dC\
'o el:OV kvlos }ii:Jv tcJTiv ," can for the evangelist's time be
interpreted as an exhortation on the sudden manifestation of the Par-
ousia. This in i tse1f addresses the prob lem of moral laxi ty which
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because qf the delay of the Parousia.
The resolution of the issue bath as a problem caused by "imminent
expectation" for the primitive community and one brought on by the
The ward C1'1/If:.av does not appear in this verse; Cf. Lk.12:
21:7-36, especially vv.29-31.
17 See note 4 on the Si tz im Leben of the "La here La there"
ee h > II 2 b 1
C p. ,sec. e ow.
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"dely of the Parousia" fctr the .church at the time of ,evange1ist
was tQe same. . When the Parousia occurs i twill be present "in your
midst . " There will be no mistaking it. The time for "watchfulness"
will be over (Lk.2l:36), 50 there will be no signs (Lk.21:l0-3l). The
Kingdom of God is itself the reality to which the signs pointed (Lk.
21: 31).:r Thus when the Kingdom of God has corne there will 'be no need
ta go "here" or " t here" to look for it. Kmme1 reads Lk.17:20-2l in
this way:
The Kingdom of Gad will not corne according ta ca1cu1a-
tians made in advance, nor wil! any search have to be
made for for la, the kingdom of Gad is present in
our midst.1
The false clairns, "Lo here, La there," respond not only ta con-
fusion regarding the time of the Parousia, or to questions of exclus-
ivism, but also to anxiety regarding its location. The saying which
resolves the issue, "as lightning from est to west. , .
betrays this ather aspecF of the problem. The saying teaches that the
larousia will be universal and omnipresent. t-1atthew, addressing the
19W. G. Kmmel, Promise and Fulfillment, tr. by D.M. Barton,
Studies in Biblical Theo1ogy 23 (SeM Press, 1956) p.35.
That there is rnuch debate concerning the present tense and the
rneaning of the phrase "in your midst" (Cf. Kmmel, Promise pp. 32-35;
. a1so Marshall, pp. 654-656.) need nat concern us. l t is enough ta note
that for the evangelist the Kingdom of Gad is integrally related to
the persan of Jesus, whether present in the persan or the historical
Jesus (c. A.D.30) or in the future. Kmmel, 'Promise p.154 states:
The approaching eschatalogical consurnrnation will allow the
Kingdom af that God ta becbrne a reality who has already allowed His
redemptive purpose ta be realiz!d in Jesus.
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issue further, adds 24:28 ta the "Lo here, La there" sayi:ng. This
same verse ls used in Luke 17:37 where it is a response ta a specifie
And they said ta him, ""Where,
;'Where the body is, there the
be gathered together."
Lord?" He said ta them,
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eagles . (at Cf,.l: Ta ( ) will
'.Ihe question presumably means "Where will the Parousia be?" or "Where
we be gathered together for it?,,20 The third evangelist has usea
the saying as ta hLS discourse on the Parausia. This
may point to the importance the question of locality had for the prim-
i tive communi ty. To those \vho wonder where they should be, and how
they should gather, the evangelists respond, just as eagles, or vultures,
are gathered around a carrion, 50 too believers will be gathered for
the Parousia. It is not something to be worried about; it will be a
natural process like the gathering of birds.
By the time of the evangelists the universality of the Parou.sia
is a weIl established teaching in the tradition. This is reflected in
the use of Daniel 7: 13 as teaching regarding the Day of the Lord." If

the use of Daniel 7: 13, as teaching on the Parousia- in Mark 13: 26, ",-
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds
with great pgwer and glory,
Cf. Mk.13:27/Ht.24:3l, and II Thess.2:1. Marshall. p.669, .
notes that the saying as found in Luke follows more easily the line
of thought left off in 17:23. This is precisely where the saying is
found in Matthew. It is a response to the "Lo here, Lo there" prob-
Alternate interpretations of the verse stress the visibility
of the Parousia. Men cannot "miss seeing the Parousia any more than
can miss seeing a carrion, (Marshall, p.669), or the Parousia
will be as clearly indicated as the presence of a carrion is in-
dicated by the presence of vultures (Hill, p.322) .
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is ambiguous with reference to the'universal visibility of the coming
of the Son of,Man, its combination 12:10 fn Matthew 24:
30 ls not. Matthew 24:30 reads:
then will appear the sign of 'the ,Son of Man in
heaven, and 911 the tribes of the earth will mourn,
'and they will see the Son of Man comirrg on the clouds ,
with great power and glory.
This tradition could not have been known in communities were
o anxious abou t mis sing the P arDus ia:
It seems reasonable ta conclude
tha t Mt. 24: 30 was comp'iled ei ther in response to this issue, or af ter
it was resolved.
Another example of a problem caused by false ls found in
II Thessalonians 2:{_2.
The passage reads:
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and
our assemb1ing to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not
to be quickly shaken in mind or excited (O'QiIlEU S? VOl (
D,cA.) To Voo s ft'l6. either by
spirit or by word, or by let ter purporting to be from
us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come
(WS gTf .Vl,(fT7kcV i 7/ll fd. TaO kl/fiou ).
The problem is that sorne information about the Parousia could cause a
"continuous state of nervous excitement and anxiety.,,23 It is not clear
whether the Thessalonians are already in such a state, or if the author
anticipates the situation. Either the situation must have been
, ,
22Tbe question of Pauline authorship has little bearing on the
\.,hich is to follow. If the oot written by Paul,
it was still written by someone who fe1t that particu1ar issues needed
to be addressd. The let ter still bears witness to difficulties which
confronted early Christian comrnunities.
E. Best, A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the
Thessalonians, Black's New Testament Commentaries, ed. by H. Chadwick
(London: A. & C. Black, 1972) p.275.
r <-
familiar to the author. The problem is caused by the claim that the
Day of the Lord has come. The belief of those who'could hold to this
notion is un{ear. The perfec t voice of the verb in the phrase" c.J5
(;T, ivl.r5TfkE.v 1 71'/.f(1... /ou kI/troLl "indicates that the belief in-
volves an occurrence in the past which is now present. Many scholars
have interpreted this ta mean tflat the has been somehow
internalized by th'ese claimants. 24 This is the usual explanation,

because interpreters find it hard to understand how any one who read
descr,iptian of the in
had come"tTrf contact wi th arG:> Jew1sh
l Thessalonians +:16-17, or who
or Jewish Christian teaching on
the of the 'Lord, could possibly think t,hat tHe Day of the Lord
come. It therefore had to be of as a personal, '
or spiritual experience. The problem with any "internalization of the
Parousia" interpretation of II Thess. 2: 2 is that, if this was the
case, the author would not have arguetr against it as he does in 2:3_9.
The author argues that certain things must still happen before the Day
of the Lord can come. If the problem arose because people were io-
ternalizing the Parousia, he would have taught them the correct und er-
of the Parousia itself (that it is an aIl encampassing
something that cannat be missed by anybody). Insteady he tells them
not to be "shaken" because the "rebellion" must still occur, and
E.g. A.L. Moore, Commentary on Ioand II Thessalonians, Century
Bible, New Series ed. by M. Black, (London: 1969) pp.9-lOOi
also W. Schmithals, Paul and the Gnostics, tr. by J.E. Steely (Nash-
ville: Abingdon Press, 1972) pp.123-2lB.
Best,e p.276Lo.
rurthermore "the' man- of lawlessness" must be "revealed" and must "take
.. -
his seat in the Tmp1e of God."
Whether the Thessalonians are a1ready shaken, or the author of
the epi$tle is warning them not to be when they hear fa1se-claims, the

passage may indicate that fa1se claims to the effect that the Lord has
descended somewhere wi th His angels were be1ng made by sorne people
somewhere. Rumours to this effect may have been rife in times of
"imminent expectation." If so, the either were. or:
would be anxious about fai1ing to see thiS, event. They may, further-
more, be caught up state-of anxious anticipation ai the thoug,ht
tha t the consumma tion Qf the age is about to take place. 'Wha t does
one do? Where woud one assemble to meet the Lord? (II Thess. 2: 1)
These and similar questions could be at in this passage.
The autho,r' s conern is that the, community might be deceived
abou t the time of the Parousia. He, therefore. infor,ms the Thessa-, ',d'
lonians that they ought not ta be deceived. Certain things have yet
o \ _
ta be revea1ed before the Parousia can, occur. (II Thess .2:3-9): Claims
made to the effect that it has already oome are premature.
The idea' tha t Chris tians will be gathered toge,ther for the Par-
ousia which is expressed in II ThesS'.r2:1 i's aiso found in Mark 13:27
and Matthew 24:31. The emphasis in the gospel verses the fact
tha t, Gad', or the Son of Han and, His angels, ,,,ill do the ga ther ing. As

suc}l these passages reflec t the t raditional Jewish apocalyptic hope in
26 .
If let ter is Pauline, the Thessalonians were told in ' ,
l Thess.4: 16 to await this type of event. They may not be aware
.. .,.:.."
this event is to be universal.
of Israel, the gathering of the exiles on the Day
of the Lord. In II Thess. 2: 1 i t is unclear whether the emphasis is
on the act of assembly by the cornrnunity or an ac t of gathering by
The former is more probable because it is reasonable to assume
" that faise claims of the sort discussed above would not cause anxiety
in communities which were familiar with these Jewish traditions. These
false claims WOu Id only be a problem for Gentile Churches which rad
not yet assimilated the Church's Jewish heritage from the primitive
communitYr Jewish Christians and communities in which sayings 1ike
Mk.13: 27 /Mt. 24: 31 'were known wou1d not be confused by s,uch false
claims. It is because these kinds of problems occurred in ear1y Gentile
communities, and probably still occurred for new converts later in the
first century, that traditions about the universa1ity of the Parousia
became useful teaching to be inc1uded in the gospels. These traditions
also satisf;ied second and third generation curiosity about the Par-
ousia even thougi'P problems arising from "imminent expectation" were no
10naer the dominant issue facing the Church.
2. The Question of the Status of Those Who Had Died Before the Parousia

issue that arose in the first generation was the question
of the'status of those who had died before the return of the Lord,
l'Enoch 57:1-3; Testament of Benjamin 9:2; Cf. D.S. Russell,
The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, 01d Testament
(London: SCM Press 1964) p. 298f.
Best, p.27S.<
This problem is reflected on1y in l Thessalonians 4: 13-18.
The problem in Thessalonica was that sorne rnembers of the community
were grieving. This problern arose after Paul had left the newly
founded community. Paul felt that the Church would he comforted if it
. ,
were given sorne further information or teaching about the Parousia.
l Thess.4:l3 reads:
But we wou1d not have you ignorant, brethren, con-
cerning those w40 are asleep, that you may not
grieve as others who have no hope.
The, proDlem does not concern the status of loved ones who have died
before they had heard the Gospel. This is indicated by Paul's ref-
erence ta the "dead in Christ" in l Thess. 4: l6b'. 29
It is not exactly
clear what new teaching Paul expects will assuage the grief of the
wi th death
lo1hat is clear, is that the Thessalonians were familiar
and resurrection of Jesus (1 Thess. 4: 14). Tt is also
clear that Paul expects what he tells thern about the Parous.ia and
the general resurrection in 4: 14-17 to console them (4: 18), and ta
resolve tbe problem.
The fact that the Thessalonians were grieving'
29The "dead in Christ" cannot refer to vicariously baptized
loved ones, even though this seerns to have been a pracktice in Corinth
(1 Cor.15:29). If it were, the problem wou1d have -already arisen and
would have been resolved with this notion of vicarious
The problem if! Corinth was most probably anguish over the status
of those who died before hearing the Gospel; vicarious oaptism seems
to be the solution at for this particular problem. See H.
Conzelmann, A Commentary on the First Epist1e tD the Corinthians. tr.
by J.W. Leitch, ed. by G.W. MacRae. Hermeneia - A Critical and Histori-
cal Commentary on the Bible, ed. by H. Koester et. al. ('philadelphia:
Fortress Press 1975)
The New Testament, it must b,e noted, does .. 1not seem to address the
iflsue of those who have died before the coming Christ, except perhap-s.:--
l "
in l Pet.3:l9. The salvation of Old Testament Saints, for example,
seems to be assurned: Mk..12:26-27 & par.; Jn.8:56; Heb.llf. This iss'ue
was probably resolved among the earliest believers, and was therefore
not a burning issue by the time most of the New Testament was written.


'" _n
. ' ..
l- 0

o 0
as "others do who have no hope" mitates against the idea that they
, .'
had heard about the generai resurrection of the dead.
not have toid them about the genera1 resurrection while he
o' ,
was with them s a1so not clear. Given the apocalyptic setting in
which he preaehed; with its expe,ctati,on of an imminent Parousia,31 and
coup1ed the fact that Paul was in Thessa10nica on1y for a short
, .. time (2 he simp1y may have found no occasion to bring up this
., .....

. topic, fihough he certain1y had spoken about the Parousia i tself (5: Hf.) .
The Thessalonians, ,who believed with Paul that they would pe for
the Parousia (4: 15), were pr'obably not grieving for themselves. -nhey
". were grieving for theit loved ones. Part of this grief i5 sure,ly,
disappointment the P.arousia did not, come their
' d h d d" - d 32 '"'
rl.en s a 1e o'
-, - 33
using a primitive credal formula,
3?In l Corinthians 15:18-19, Pail1 tells those wl:w do not be1ieve
in the genera1 resurrection that without this hope they.are to be
"pitied". It i9 im'plied in what f0110ws that the doctrine of the
general resurrection nd th transformation of the living at t,he Par-. U
ousia constitutes hope of. the Chl,lrch .. Cf. pp. 73-75 below;
3lCf. 1 Cor.7:29; Ro.13:11-12.
320ther interpretations of p'assage A.L. Moore, The
Parousia in the New Testament, Supplements to Novum 13 ed.
by W.C. Van Unnik'et. al. ,(Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1966)
argues that "the ause of their sorrow i$ ;learly not dtsappointment
over the .non-arrivaI of the Parousia .. '. it;ls anxiety over whether
(and how) Christian would experienee the first festive phase of
the Varousia." Best, p .181 similar1y that, the single phrase "the
dead shall rise" "is fnsufficient as a first introduction" ta the doctrine
of the generai He argues, therefore, that Paul would a1-
reaqy have toid them something about the resurrection of the dead.
"Wltft he apparent1y did not do was to give a chronologiea1 position to
the resurreetion in relation to the-Parousia and sa the Thessalonians
thought the dead ,,,ere going to miss 1 later. "
'. (
33" Jesus died and rose
, Best, p .18.1.
".- -
understanding of the'general in thJir ( hhe Thessalnians'
confessed faith. l Thess.4:l4 reads:
For s ince we believe tha t Jesus died and rose agai'n,
even so, through Jesus, God will bring wth him
those who have fallen asleep.
Paul then informs the community abou't the,general resurrection, and ,its
relationship to the Parousia in l Thess.4:l5-l8:
For this we declare ta you by ward of the Lord, that
we are alive, who are left until the coming of
" , ,
the Lord, shall not precede those who hav" fallen
asleep: For the Lord himself will descend from
heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel' s
calI, and with the sound of the trumpt of God.
And the dead in will rise first; then we
who are alive, who are left, shall be caught
together with them in the clouds ta meet the Lo!d
iD the air; anC! sa we shall always be wi th the
Lord: Therefore, comfort one another with these
The reference ta- the "highlights" of the traditiona!' of
'the Day of J:he Lord, the cry of command, the archange1, and the sound
:." '"
of the trumpet, indicates that these w8Fe'probably alrady known

to the Ihessalonian community. Paul is therefore placing the nw in-
formation about the of the. dead in ta the picture of" the
Parousia held by the ThessaJ.onian commny.' He does this with
the words "first" and in 4:l6b;-17a.

34It is interesting ta note that Mark omits any mention of a
trumpet in its version of the eshatologicai discourse, even though
Matthew men'iions. it in a parallel passagefto Hk.i3:27. Neither
evangelist associa tes the gathering of the elect with -the
unless Matthew implfes this with the trumpet calI. Luke also omits
any reference to the sound of the trumpet:
The calI of the trumpet is associated with the return from the
exile in Is. 27: 13. Hill, p. 323 believes this is the context in which
" ,
. .
Part of the consolation Paul off ers is the comforting notion that
. '.
at the consummation of the age believers will aIl be brought together.
The dead and\ the liVing", "preceding" the othe"" wnl
be caught up in the clouds ta meet the Lord. ,The Parousia amons o'tber
things is an answer ta the pain of separation.
It i5 unlikely that the problem as discussed abQve was felt the
same way in any of the Jewish Christian Churches. were already
familiar with the doctrine of the genera! re'surrection. They would not
grieve as "those who have no hope."
3. The Question of, an "Interim Ethic"
The expectation of an imminent end of the world radically changed
the believer's'attitude ta the world, and therefore to tne things
this world. This world for the believer is "passing away" (1 Cor.7: 3lb).
However, since the Kingdom of God was at hand
but not yet fully
manifest, the primitive community developed an "interim ethic," a way
Matthew's reference ta the trumpet in 24:31 should be interpreted.
Best, p.197, argues that the trumpet calI i!J associated with theophanies
of YHWH in Ex.19:13,16,19, and 20:18. ;rt associated with the Day of
the Lord in Zech.9:l4, and again in the Pauline corpus in l Cor.
15:52. Here it is directly associated with the resurrection pf the
dead. Conzelmann, Corinthians, p.29l, states that its use here i8 a
"standard apocalyptic requisite;tI he cites 4 Ezra 6:23 and Syb.4:173\
These references concern the end-time in genera! and do nOt specifical1y
mention the resurrection of the dead. In the Book of Revelation there
are many trumpet caUs, though they are aIl sounded in the context of
the end; none are directIy tied to the resurrection of the dead. It is_
possible therefore, that it is Paul who has associated the sound of the
trumpet, which originally was meant to announce the presence of YHWH,
and the retum from the exile, with the resurrection of the dead ex-
pected at the consummation of the age.
, .
, ,
, _.
-- --r

of life appropria te to and iri preparation for the 'imminent crises and
, 35 ' ,
and consummation q,f the age. In the earliest stages of the Christian.
community this ethic apparently took the form, of a radical rejection of
aIl worldly attachments,: As the community realized that there might
be an extended sojourn in this world, many aspects of this ethic of
radical rejection had ta he modified. The Church had to ,adjust to a
possible long wait for the Parousia.
The synoptic gospels were written at a time when the realization
of the "delay" had already made itself felt in the life of the Church.
The gospels as whole reflect this time the Church realized that
it had to be prepared for an extended stay in the world, while at the
, same time it had to be prepared for tha. consummation of the age. The
synoptic gospels do, however, preserve traditions in the form of
sayings and parahles of Jesus which ref1ct a time when the radical
rejection of worldly attachments was the norm. The Pauline epistles
. reflec t situations which are similar to those reflected in
synoptic traditions, but they also reflect a transition from the
"radical rejection" ethic to g' "delay" ethie in whieh sOme compromise
with the world is deemed neeessarY.
350n the nature of the relationship between this ethic and the
Kingdom of Gad see Schweitzer, Mystery, pp _99-105; Cf. Quest, p. 354f.
See H. Hengel, Property and Riches in the Ear1y Church, tr. by
J. Bowden (London: SCN 1974); J.G. Gager, Kingdom and Community,
Prentice-Hall Studies in Religion Series, ed. by J.P. Reeder and J.F.
Wilson (New Jersey: Prentice-Hal1 Ine. 1965) pp.l9-57; G. Theissen,
The First Followers of Jesus, tr. by J. Bowman, (London: seM Press,
1978); J.T. Sanders, Ethics in the New Testament, (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1975). See also, J. Jeremias, New Testament Theology:
The Proclamation of Jesus, tr. by J. Bowden (New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1971) pp.221-223.
. t'




, ,1
.At ,me time preparation for the Parousia meant a radical rejec-
tion of worldly ties: material, familial, and perhaps political. Need
for the rejection of material possessions is attested in 'many passages.
Luke 12: 33-34 reads:'
Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves
with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the
he avens that does not fail, where no thief approaches
and no moth destroys. For your treasure is, there
will your heart be also.
Chapter twelve of the Gospel of Luke is the part of the evangelist' s
teaehing on the proper preparation for the coming eschatologieal
Luke 12:25 teaches that "man's. life does not consist in an
abundance, of possessions." Luke 12: 16-21 includes "The Parable of the
Rich Foal" whieh teache,s the transitory nature of wealth in the face
of .death, and Lk.12:22-3l gives assurances ta the' faithful that those
who have given aIl their wealth and property need not be anxious
'bc'ause God will provide for them as He does for "the bi'rds" and the
"liIies." Lke 12:33-34 then' fllm.;s with the cr""Tc.."
(se Il) adding the note of urgency. The reason for'ihis urgeney. whi,ch
i.s also the reason for the rejection of material possessions, is made

c1ear in what fol1ows. Luke 12: 35-40 teaches the believer ta be pre-

pared for the Parousia. In these verses it is made c1ear that the
radical rejection of the world is a way of preparing onese1f. Those
who are caught unprepared will not find the Parousia a blessing, but
37See Marshall, pp.SOS-S09.
will find in it unxpected distress like the conring of "a thief in the
The radical rejection of material possessions indicated in the
, -
passage discussed above is also reflected in passages such as the "Story
of the Rich Young Man" and subsequent discussion on the meaning of
discipleship (Mk.IO:17-22 and par.). "The Parable of Lazarus and the
Rich Man" (Lk.16:19-3l) illustrats the hazards of wealth, while the
value of selling or giving up everything one owns for the Kingdom of
> ,
'God is taugh t in the "P\a rables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl"
(Mt.13:44-46). The latter parables are couched between two other
dealing with the Last Judgment, and 50 they are presented in
context. tfu.ether or not they originally belong in
such a context, these passages sti 11 reflect the attitude of the prim-
itive community towards possessions and their proper place in view of
the Kingdorn of God. As such they are best explained as having arisen
in a milieu in which this world and its wealth are seen as transitory.
The rejection of material ties to the world was seen aS necessary
preparation for the world to come.
This same expectation of the inminent end of the world is prob-

ably also responsible for the situation II Thessalonians
3:6-13. Sorne members of the Thessalonian community had stopped working.
In view of the fact that elsewhere in the letter difficulties arising
See PP.35-59
"thief in the night" si-
urther discussion on the use of the
this passage.
39Cf. Hengel, pp.23-30; Sanders, p.37t.; Jeremias, Theology, ,p.
, "

from expectation" are being addressed, it is more than likely
that those who have stopped working have done 50 in viw of the immin-
ent end, which makes work irrelevant. 40
The radical rejection of the world by the primitive community is
also reflected in passages regarding fami1y ties and marriage. Matthew
10:37 reads:
He who loves father or mother more than me is not
wor thy of me; he who loves son or daugh ter more than
me is not worthy of me ... ;
and Luke 14: 26:
If anyone cornes to me and do es not hate his own
father and mother and wife and children and bro.thers
and sisters. yes even his own life cannot be my
This same attitude with respect to- family ties is also found in passages
, 41
like Lk.9:58-62fMt.8:20-22, Mk.lO:28-30 among others. These passages
reflect the belief that aIl worldly relationships are qualified by the
.. p . 42
1rnm1nent arOUS1a. Hatthew 12:46-50 teaches that true bonds are
grounded in the service of God:
Here are my mother and my brothers! For whosoever does
the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and
sister, and mother .
Simflarly, Jesus' answer ta the Sadducees concerning the resurrec-
tion of the dead at the end of the age shows that ties were
40See B.N. Kaye, "Eschatology and Ethics in 1 and 2 Thessalonians,"
Novum Testamentum 17 (1975) p.53ff:. Cf. Best. p.339.
41See Theissen, pp.IO-ll, 31-32; Jeremias, Theology, pp.223-227.
42Cf . Gager, pp.32-34; Henge1, p.29.
considered relevant only in this world and not in the next (Mk.12:18-27
and par.). l Corinthians 7, furtherrnore, attes ts that in view of the
imminent end sorne Corinthians, perhaps following Paul's example, were
.. f . 44
re ral..nlng rom marrl..age. These attitudes towards rnarriage may per-
haps reflect a desire on the part of the primitive cornmunity ta antici-
pate the Ki?gdarn of Gad in this world.
The passages mentioned abo'Ve a11 reflect an ethic of the earliest
enthusiastic Christian communities in which the Parousia was expected
This'situation, specifically with regard to the Jerusalern
community in its earliest T)eriod, is recalled in Acts 4: 32-37:
Now the company of those who believed were of one heart
and soul, and no one said that any of the things which
he possessed was his mm, but they had everything in
'common .. There was not a needy persan among them,. for
as man y as were passes sors of land or houses sold them,
and braught the proceeds of what was sold and laid - them
at the Apostles' feet; and distribution was made to, each
as any had need.
In what follaws Barnabas is cited as lia concrete example of the spirit
'f' ,,46
o sacr1 lce.
It i5 not hard to visualize the financial difficulties thOat wotild
arise from such a radical rejection of the world-. Haenchen points out,.
, G 34 l
ager, p. .
44See Niehael Barre, "Ta Marry or to Burn:1'rupooecq i>n
l Cor.7:9", The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 36 (1974)
45 '
Gager,. p .34,
46E. Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary, tr. and
rev. by R. MeL. Wilson (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971) p.231.


for exarnple, tha t the Galil ian Chris tians
who we re separated in
Jerusalern from their means of livelihood must have become along with
the widows (Acts 6:1-6) a drain,on the resources of 'the community.48
Since sorne incorne was necessary to support the conununity, a system
must have developed rather quickly whereby the Apostles decided who
would sell off their property and who wou Id not. "Cash" would be
needed to support those who had no rneans of support, but houses were
also needed for Christians to gather in (Acts 12: 12). To enable the
primitive communY to function in the world an ethic of accormnodation
to the world had also to be developed alongside of an ethic which
.called for the radical rej ec tian of t h ~ world.
This "ethic of accommodation" could also be called a "delay ethic"
in the sense that it was the resu1t of the obvious fact that though
the Parousia was thought ta be near, the Church could not ignore the
materia1 dernands '\lhich existence in this wor1d imposed upon it. The
"de1ay ethoic" need not always have been in direct confrontation with
an "ethic of radical rejection," but it did mean the conununity-had ta
adjust to sorne degree of compromise with the world.
This rnoderating or compromising aspect of the developing "delay
ethic" is evident in the Ne,., Testament as early as Paul' s letters.
There s no directive in any of Paul' s letters asking rnembers of his
Churches ta hand over aU their property t the Apostles, as is c1aimed
The Twelve, and "those who ministered unto Him," Acts 1: 12-14.
Haenchen, p. 234; See also HengeL, pp. 33-34.
for the primitive community in Jerusalem by the author of Acts (4: 32-
5: 11). Paul, furthermore, continued working at his trade in arder ta
" support his mission (Acts 18:3, II Thess.3:7-8). ' Responding to
the problern in Thessalonica, where sorne had stopped working, the author
of II Thessalonians, ei ther Paul or another, tells the cornmunity not
to support those who can support themselves (II Thess.3:l0).
In Paul' s first let ter to the Corinthians, we find of
how a "delay ethic" was being integrated into the ethic which rejects
the world in vie;" of the fas t approaching end. Paul tells the
Corinthians who wonder whether they should remaln married or that
in view of the "impending distress" (T7'" tV.CTrtJrrf}(V it is
better not ta change one' s worldly affiliations because soon these
things will no longer matter (1 Cor. 7: 26f.) . With this teaching Paul
modifies the calI for a radical rej ec tion' of worldly ,ties and allows
them to remain in place as long as this world 1s present. However, in
\ l/
Paull's teaching to the Corinthians, tne radical rej ection of the world
is not condemned but to sorne degree internalized. In l Cor.7:29-3l,
Paul states that though worldly ties exist one must act in such a way
that these ties becorne incidental in their importance for the believer:
l mean, bretheren, the appointed tirne has grown very
short; from now on, let those who have wives live
as though they have none, and let those who mourn as
though they were not rnourning, and let those who re-
joice as though they were not rejoicing, and let those
who buy as though they had no goods, and let those who
deal with the world as though they had no dealings
wi th it. For the fOl(ID of this world is passing
Paul thus rnoderates the ethic which demands the radical selling of
everything one has, or the breaking 0 f a11 worldly t ies. In doing so
!: ".'

Paul main tains the importance of the rej ection of the world as a means
of preparation for the one ta come, but he aIs a recognizes the necessity
of dealing with the world in the interim. He has, therefore, redefined
the rejection of worldly ties ta mean an attitude on the part of the
Paul' s teaching in l Corinthians 7 represents one way ,the Church
accommodated the delay into its conversation with the world. The fn-
ternalization of the calI for a radical rejeetion of the world was
fully developed in tqe Johannine by the time l John was
written. In l John \"e read:
Do not love the world or the things of this world. If
ani one loves world, love for the Father is not in
him. For aIl that is in the world, the lust of the
flesh and eyes and the pride of life, is not of the
Father but of the world. And the world passes awaY7
and the lust of it; but he who the will of Gad
ab1des for ever.
"The author implies that if one is attached to the world, if one has
the "lust of it," as it "passes away" one will pass away with it. The
author wants ta stress 'that the members of his eommunity should not ri
love the things of this world, which i8 a particular attitude with
. SOl
respect to one's'life in the world.
The Church's accommodation ta the delay also took another direc-
tian. In time the Church simplYJ rejected aJ) ethic which demanded
49Conzelmann, Corinthians p .133, notes that Paul' s advice "is not
ta withdraw into the safe and nrestricted realms of the inner life,
but to maintain freedom in the midst of involvement;" thus "eschatology
really determines the conduct of life" and not the ways of the world.
500n the meaning of "love" in this passage see R. Bultmann, The
Johannine Epis.tles, tr. by R. Philip O'Hara et. al., ed. by R.H. Funk,
Hermeneia - A Critical and Historieal Commentary on the Bible ed. by
H. Koester et. al. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973) pp.32-34
especially n. 19.
complete abstinence from worldly activity. This turn of events is
clearly reflected in_ the parables of "The Unjust Steward" fond "The Ten
Mai.dens. "
"The Parable of the Unjust Steward" is used by the
evangelist 'as a response to, the crises caused by the delay of the Par-
. 51
OUSla. More precisely, in view of the delay the parable was used as
a for those t-lho in their enthusiastic expectation of the
Parousia found no reason ta deal with money. This parable can perhaps
best be understood against a background similar ta that proposed
II People eaught up in an eschatological fervor
press their llimminent expectation" by not workfng or dealing with
money. 1
The tone of Lk.16:8 reveal the apocalyptic context for the
parable. Here the "sons of this age" are compared with the "sons
of light":
The mas ter commended the dishonest steward for his
" c ..
shretvdness; for the sons of this ,.,orld (O( (;IO(
ToU Clvos TouTou ) are more shrewd in dealing
with their own generation than the sons of light.
The use of sueh phrases indieates a of imminence with regard ta
the end of the age.
In light of the contrast dra\ffi bet\veen the "sons
of light" and the "sons of this age, ,. the next verse counsels the be-
lieving eommunity (the "sons of on ho,., ta behave ,.,hile ne i5
in this world. The understanding that the "sons of light" are not of
5lJ Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, tr. by S.H. Hooke (London:
seM Prss, 1955) p.SO.
SE\.e p. 25 above.

this age and therefore of the ways of mammon is Not being
. \
involved in the ways of mammon wou Id a1so have to have been recognized
as a virtue; othenvise, no counsel wou1d have been necessary. The
imperative of the parable is clarified in Lk.16: 10-11. In view of the
de1ay) the proper use of maney is ta be ap-plauded as an indication of
responsibi1ity. However, one can use it but not serve it; one is to '.
be ta Gad in one' s use of "unrighteous mammon" (Lk.l6: 13) .
Let us conc1ude this section with reference to "The Parable o,f
the Ten Maidens" (Mt. 25: 1-13) which vividly contrasts two attitudes
towards the expec ta tion of the end of the age. The "Ioolish maidens,"
apparently believing the bridegroorn \vou1d arrive momentarily, take no
extra ail with them for their lamps (Mt. 25:3). The "wise maidens" had
prepared for the possibi1ity of .a delay by t'aking extra flasks of ail
(Mt. 25:4). The bridegroom is de1ayed, and aIl the maidens fall
When' the bridegroom fina1ly does arrive, the foolish maidens do not
have enough ail for wedding. The parable does not condemn those
who fall asleep, as does "The Par able of the (Mt. 24:42-44/
Lk.l2: 39) or "The Parable of the Doorkeeper" (Mk.13: 34-36) . They aIl
fall asleep. Those who are no t prepared for the possibility of a de1ay
are condemned; they will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The five
"foolish m!idens" are left outside the wedding, behind a shut door with
no from the Lord .. The Parable c1early teaches that the
al10wance for the possibility of lengthy ,!ait is proper preparation for
the Prousia. The parab1e conclud!s with a ward of warning to those
who presume to know that the hour oLthe Parousia is near:
Watch therefore, for you know neither the clay
nor the hour:

\ '
.... \ ......... .............. ,.t ...
Time passed and the Parousia did not occur. Thus questions arasE!"
with respect ta the Church' s expectation of the early arrivaI of the
Lord. These questions needed sorne sort of resolution. The primitive
communi.ty thought of i tself as an "eschatological congregation. ,,1 The
earlies t Chr is tians belj.eved that they were the people who would ex-
perience the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy concerning the coming of
the Kingdom of God. They only believed that they were living in
the "last times," but that they were the people of th end-time, "the
chas en ," "the elect, Il and "the saints." 2 Since this eschatological
expectation, or was basic ta the self-definition of the primitive
community, resolution of this issue became vital ta the life of the
The "delay" of -the Parous:l. is discussed he-re ollly in sa far as
it is an apocalyptic issue, that is only as it concerns the Church '5
expectation of the Parousia and its effect on the moral life of the
- 3
connnuni ty. Problems of this nature faU into two basic categories:
See B1tmann, Theology vol.l', pp.37-42.
2 '
Ibid., P .38.
3The Christological, and theological implications of the "delay,"
for example, will not be discussed here.

. .
; ,
. .1iIfIiII' '
, -
" .
" . o

(1) Questions regarding the time of the Parousia; (2)" The danger of
moral laxity.
\ .
1. Regarding the Time of the Parousia
regarding the time of the Parousia probably arose under
, ,1
a variety of circumstances.
f ....
Since the believed
that they were -the people of the end:-time, the longer the congregation
had to wait for the Parousia, the more questions regarding its time
'would become acute. In the days the answer .!!.seon" wo.uld
- _ ..
suffice. However, as the Parousia failed to occ,ur, some people may
_ rr
have found .reason ta qust'ion their faith; this in turn would cause a
. y 4
cris:. in the teaching' and practice of Church. Answers were needed
to questions suc-h as: "Why hasn' t the Parousia occulred yet?", and
- ,
"When the Lord arrive?"
The time' of tue Day of the has been a perennial problem
who ho Id an apocatyptc world-view. These same kinds of questions
had been addressed by most writers ef the Inter-Testamental
- ....
. d 4
peno . The result of,reflection upon issue was the idea of a
divine p1an. The apocalyptis!s of the Inter-testamental period
"interpreted the whole of history - past, present, 'and- fture - in
.. #', ,').
4 1>
Russel,l, p. 96ff ..
, Charles, Eschatology: Heb'rew, Jewish and Christian.
CriticalHistory'of the Doctrine of a Future Life, The Jowett .
. Lectyres 1898-99, (London: Adam' & Charles' 2na ed. 1913),
.... .

p.IS3 .
.' : \ ' "m: . ,
-------... - - __________ .....................' ---,"'J ___ ....-.- ___ .......,.,. ___ .,....______ ...
r \ "

trms of God' s uni purpose.,,6
Their idea'of God's purpose did not
only but aIl peoples. nations, and the universe
itself. AH creation' took part in th drama 'of history.7 The apoc-
alyptic perspective also perceived creation ta be to a single
goal - the establishment of the Kingdom ,pf 'God - in whi-ch the divine
. ',' d ,,8
will be once an for- aIl. " . The e,arly Church in-
herited the ,b'elief in such a plan from apocalyptic J.udaism.
, "
The apoca1yptic perspective on history is evident \n the New
Testament in such passages as Galatianp 4:4. where Paul speaks of
Jesus' bi rth.
when the time had fully come, Gad forth His
Son, porn of woman.
Aand in the eschatologieal disC'out'se (Mk.13and par.). The escha-
- Ir.
tological diseout'se, liKe other passages which either presup-pose or
" .
refer .ta a plan, seeks ta place the situation of the Church in
\ 1
the context of the plan. The need not, be read as
Russell, p.2l8.
7 '
Charles, Eschatology p.183. In the course of distingisbing
between apocalyptie and prophetie eshatology Charles, p.183 observes:
Apocalyptic not prophecy Qas the first to grasp the
great idea that aIl history, alike human, cosmologi-
cal,. and spiri tuaI is a unit y - a unit y fo110wing,
as a corollary of the unit y of God preached Y-
by the prophets.
8 '
Russell, p,.223.
" 1. i
a Christian version of a timetable for the end. Rather, it is the
, .
evangelist's assurance to his community of its place in the plan, and
that appearances nothing has gone wrong.

scholars have argued that the authors of the gospels of Matthew and
Luke present the Gospel in terms of a "salvation-history. ,,12 By means
of this oncept th s'e synptie writers have attempted to account for
the "delay" by lacing the conununity in greater historical
perspective.- This perspective ,carries with it the meaning tha\ the
Church will have' a specifie redemptive function to fulfill before the
Parousia. In these gospels. the Church is presented" as instrumental:
in the salvation of the world. In 50 far as the activity of the Chur ch .
10There is' little agreement as ta whether the system:atization of
history into "times and seasons" in books like l Enoch, Jubilees or
,Daniel is ta be read as timetables. References ta various
"times" or time sequences may. 'vith the use of sacred numbers. have
been only meant ta be indications of certain kinds of time. or ages, '
rather than aetual years. 1. Hartmann, "The Function of Sorne So-called
Apocalyptic Timetables." Ne\11 Testament Studies 22 (l976) p.8, argues:
What function does a timetable have, i.e. the presentation
of Jewish history until the author's days and on into the
con5urnmation? . it is not a theoretical-informative
one in the sense that it forms a calendar at the disposaI
of the informed nor i:LLt a chronicle _of the 'ij"
future from which the privileged reader may gaTn-enllgbt--
enment. But it-assuTes tfie man of:fatfi that fie
out of God' s sight, that the evil of his mm time i5
forseen, that God will annihilate the present injustice,
and that l).e wi 11 do s-o-4-ri- the consutmIlation of times
which is neflT.
Cf. Hk.13:23, and pp. 96-100 below.
E.g. Conzelmann,' The Theology of St. Luke; G. Bornkamm,
expectation in the Gospel of Natthew." Tradition and Interpretation in
Matthew, tr. by P. Scott (London: SeM Press, ]963) pp 15-51 Cf W.C.
Thompson, "An Histor,ical Perspective in the Gospel of t>lattheJoT."
Journal of Biblical fiterature 93 (1974) pp.243-262.
, -
: 1
i5 set 'into the context 'of hisJory as a unifiecl who le, thJ.s understand-
in& fs a arid transformation of the Jewish apocalyptic con-
, ,
cept of a divine plan. This idea, the peoplp of the Messiah as a part
of a redemptive history directed by Gad, probably prevailed throughout
the early Church. Thus we read in Ephesians 1:9-1Q:
For he has made kJown to us in aIl wisdom and insight the
mystery of his will, according purpose which he set
forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of tiroe. to
unite aIl things in him. things tn heaven and things on
earth .l3
This inherited or view of.history, shaped the Church's
understanding of both the problem of the non-occurrence of the Par-
ousia nd its solution. It was because the members of the Church
believed there was a plan, that the Parousia could be understood as
" being late, delayed, ,or on time, that is according ta plan. The
resolution of the problem by the early Church reflects her under-
.. ,' .
standing of the plan. 'l'he Church either )"aught that the Parousis,
when the plan is better undrstood, i5 still on time, or that the
Parousia should have occUJ;re'd "but God has changed the plan thu5 de-
laying the Lordls retum. Only in this latter sense is the Parouaia
properly delayed. In the former case the Parousia only seems delayed
from the perspective of sorne members of the community.
The early Church tended to resolve problems caused by the, non-
occurrence of the Parousia in basically three \vays. The first t,JO
involved teaching that there 15 actually no "delay." One way was to
13Cf Jn.3:16ff.; t Pet.l:20.
-'. ,
teach that certain signs had yet ta be revealed, or that proph-
had ta be fu1filled, tqe Lord would return. A second
way invo1ved teaching that the Eime of the Parousia 1s not known by
the Church. The third solution involves the teaching that God has de-
1ayed the Parousia; it W!S supposed to have come, ,but God has held b'ack
the coming of the end until His redemptive purposes are accomplished.
The first way of the problem was integrally tied to the
early Church' s expectation of the "messianic woes." Tl11s eJpectation
is'part of the Church's inheritance from Jewish apcalyptic. The notion
of the I1mess ianic is presented in the New Testament without much
introduction. The earliest readers are expected to be familiar with
the idea.
The "messianic woes" are the tribulations that wre expected to
,- occur before the Day of the Lord. These woes would be due to a last'
attempt by the pm.rers of evi1 to overthrow the powers of good.
idea goes back at least as far as Daniel 12:lf., and Zechariah 14:13'.
This time of'cosmic travail is also mentioned in books such as l Enoch
(91:5-9; 80:1-8), and Jubilees (23:13-15) in the Inter-testamenta1
era. In New Testament times, the "messianic are often desctibed
",by means of the birth process in which new life ,can emerge through
,pain. A very early use of this as an illustration of the
calamity before the messianic age, is found in one of the Thanksgiving
14For examp1e, the "woes" are a11uded to \ .. i th the metaphor of
1abor and child-birth in 1 Thess.5:3, and Mk.13:8. If the readers
of these passages had no prior understanding of the "woes," and rio
familiarity with the metaphor, these passages would make little sense.
Rus s e 11 , p. 2 3 4 f.
- .
...... .;
Psalms from Qumran (IQHiii 6-10):
1 am in distress like a woman in travail with her first
barn, when her pangs come, end grievous pains: on ber birth
staal, causing torture in the crucible of the pregnant one;
for sons have come ta waves of death, and she who con-
ceives a man suffers in her pains; for in waves of death
she gives birth to a man-child; with the pains of Sheol he
bursts forth from the crucible of the pregnant one, a
wonderful counstor with his power; yes a man cornes forth
from the waves.
II 2:1-12 is a good example of the Church's teach-
ing that certain signs have yet to be'revealed and certain prophecies
, 1
fulfilled before the Lord will come. problem in Thessa10nica was
due to the expectation of an imminent Parousia hY members of the corn-
. t 17 i h . 1 h' dd . h h' b l'
y; n t 1S passage tle aut or 15 a ress1ng t ose w 0 e 1eve,
or who may believe, that the "day of the Lord has come." His teach-
ing to those who may h'ol'd to this belief, however. reflects the' atJare-
ot the "delay," or non":occu"i-rence of the Parousia on the part of
the Church. In yfect his reso1ut!on of the issue deals with the ques-
tion of why the Parausia had not come. In II Thess.2:3 the author
tells the cammunity:
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not
come, unless the rebellion cornes first, and
'" -IY -r.:" )'
the man .of lawlessness 0 O(vBpWhOS ''loS aVOfilti..5 1S re;-
vealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exaults him-
self against every so-ca11ed god or abject of worship, so
that he takes his seat in the temple of Gad prorlaiming
hilnself to be Gad.
16TransI'ation by H. Burrows, The Dead Sea ScroIls (New York: The
Viking Press, 1955) p.403; For the Hessianic interpretation of this
hymn see J.V. Chamberland, "Another Thanksgiving Psa1m," Journal of
Near Eastern Studies 14 (1955) pp.32-4l & 181-182; a1so K. Stendah1,
"Introduction and Perspective," The ScroUs and the New Testament (New
York: Brothers, 1957) p.lU.
See pp.14-16 above.
. ' .

l '
The Church still awaits the "rebeilion" and the manifestation of the
"man of lawlessness." Furthermore, i t awaits the fulfi1lment of the
prophecy that the "man of lm.lessness" will take his seat in the Temple
of God.
The term J.rro(fT ..... t:1;r;. probably refers
to the Je\.,rish apocalyp tic
lief that the final consummation will be preceded by a great turning
away from God in Istael (J ub . 23: 14 f f. ; l QpHab 2:lff.; 4 Ezra 5:lff.;
also Mt.24:1O-l2; l Tim.4:l; II Tim.3:1-9).19 The terro "man of law-
lessness't refers to the tradition of the eschatological adversary. In
Inter-testamental Jewish \vritings there are references to a figure who
will oppose God at the end of the age. The adversary appears in two
forms. On the one hand, he can be a mytho10gical figure, an evil
lBThis prophecy is probab1y based on Dan. Il: 36ff., and was re-
enforced by Caligula's threat to set up his statue in the Temple
around 40 A.D. (See D.E.H. Hhiteley, Thessalonians, Ne\.,r Clarendon
Bible ed. by H.F.D. Sparks (London: Oxford University Press, 1969)
p.lOO) A literal reading of II Thess.2:4 1ends support to a pre-70
A.D. date for the wr;i.ting of the letter. The verse \vould refer to
the Temple still standing. "Tov VO\OV JoJ Bl.oU " was understood to
be a reference to the Jerusalem Temple late in the second century by
Irenaeus, Adversus Haeresus V. 30:4. G. St. Paul's Epistles
to the Thessalonians, (London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1908) p.lOO,
. . the nature of the context, the use of such a local
term as ,and the twice-repeated def. art. (Tov
Vo.Ov 1"o 9co ) aIl point to a literaI rcference in
the present instance, a in which are con-
firmed \17hen \17e kecp in VlC\.J the dependence of the \vhole
passage upon the description of Antiochus Epiphanes in
Dan. Il : 36 f.
However, some scholars interpret the phrase metaphorically to mean the ')
heavenly temple, e.g. IV. Neil, The Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians,
Moffatt Ne\, Testament Commentary ed. by J. z.toffatt, (London: Hodder
and Stoughton, 1950) p.164f.
1geL Best, p.281; t.,rhiteley, p.9a-99.
. ' '.
h h B 1
" 20
arc etype suc as Satan, or e lar. On the other hand, the adversary
can b,e a figure which is generally recognized to have a human referent,
such as the Adversary in Daniel who is generally recognized to be
" hE" h 21
t10C us plp anes.
In II 'Thessalonians 2:9-10 we read:
The coming of the lawless one by the activity of
will be with aIl power and with pretended signs and
wonders, with aIl wicked deception for those who
are to perish, because the y refused tp love the truth
and sa be saved.
The description of the Adversary found in II Thessalonians appears to
be a unique combination of traditional motifs wh:lch are found in Jewish
apocalyptic literature. Most scholars agree that the "man of law-
lessness" is not a human figure.
II T,hess.2:9, hmvever, also dis-
him from The eschatological adversary picturecl,here
seems to be a combination of both the traditional c;haracteristics of a
.. 20
E.g. see Assumption of Nases lO:lff.; l Enoch 54:1-6; also the
figure of Beliar in the "War Rule" found at Qumran.
21Antiochus Epiphanes is recognized in Dan.7:8,25,11:36f. by N.W.
Porteous, Daniel, Did Testament Library, ed. by G.E. Hright et. al.
(Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1965) pp.107 ,1l2E., and l56ff.. for
example. According ta Russell, p.277, Antiochus or Herod the
be the referent of Assumptian of 8: lff.; he also argues that th.e
Dragon in the Psalms of Salomon may a reference to the Roman
genera1 Pompey.
ilCf. Best. p.289.
23See Moore, Parousia, pp.lll-ll3; Best, p.288ff.; also
p.lOO; Milligan, p.98; Neil, p.164; against.this view J.E. Frame,
Critical and Exegetica-l Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul to the
Thessalonians, The International Critical Commentary, ed. C.A. Briggs
et. al. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1912) p.253f., argues
that the adversary is a human too1 of Satan.

1 r

mythological -evil archetype, and the human adversaries of the people
of God. The eschatological adversary in II Thefsalonians
1) usurps the perogatives of divinity (2:4),
2) is empowered bY.,Satan (2:9a),
3) cornes with power and false signs and'wpnders (2:9b),
4) decelves (2:l0b) , #
5) causes those who refuse to love the truth to perish (2:l0a).24
II Thessalonians teaches that the Parousia will involve the defeat
of the eschatologica\ adversary. This final combat has still to take
place. II Thessalonians 2:8
And then the lawless one will be revealed and the Lord Jesus
will slay with the breath of his and destroy
hy his appearing and his coming.
II Thessalonians thus gives evidence that the Church, or sorne in the /
Ch urch. tau gh t. those wh 0 asked "When?". or "Why no t now?". -that the re /
are still signs to be revea1ed and prophecies ta be fu1filled
the advent of the Lord.
The synoptic eschato1ogical discourse (Hk.13 and par.) ayt:> bears
witness to the presence of this kind of te'aehing. Nark 13: 7' war,ns
the community not ta misread certain signs, thinking that they herald
the Day' of the Lord itself:
And when you hear of \vars and rumours of wars, do not be
alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet.
Further identi fiation of the Thessalonial'l adversary may be -im-
possible. Best, p.288, argues:
There are . . . many difficulties in the identification
of the rebel and our lack of information on Paul's '
original oral teaching (to the Thessalonians) prevents
us from solving them.
, ,
, .
/ 42
passages in the dis cours indicate that at some point the Church
. /
it must fulfill its mission before the Mark 13'10
And the gospel must first be preached to aIl the na-
" The second way of resolving the problem of the non-occurrence of
the Parcusia was to teach that the time-is unknown. To those who feel
that somethil1g has gorte wrOl1g because the expected time for the Par-
ousia has passed, the Church te aches that the expectation of the Par-
ousia at a particular time is unfounded. time eannot be predieted,
and so one shauld not be-snaken when expected dates for the Parousia
are found ta be false. These instances are nat examples of divine;.
promises y-hich have been broKen"Dut human inability to prediet the Ume
of the Day of the Lord.
This way of resolving the issue is found mainly in the synoptic \
versions of the eschatologiea1 discourse. The Narcan and Matthean
versions of the discourse teach that al} the signs wh{ch have been
prophesied, or made knmvn by the traditions of the Church, have been
. 26
fl.,Ilfilled by the time of the writing of "the Gospels. The Church,
therefore, only awaits the Parousia itself. No more signs are ex-"
pected; "he is near,at the very gates" (Mk.13:29). There is therefore
25Cf. Ht.24:l4; Lk.21:24. Accord1ng to E. Kasemann, Commentary on
tr. bl' G.H. Bromiley, (Grand Rapids: tHlliam B. Eerdmans'Puh-
lishing Company, 1980), pp.306ff. and 312, Paul's belief that he must
preach the gospel to the world before the Parousia may be related to
these passages.
26 " Jh
This interpretation of Hark 13 is argued more completelYWn
Chp. III, sec.2 (B) be1m ....
. ,
no reason not ta expect the Parousia at any time. The time of toe
end, however, i8 left unanswered, and so indefinite (Mk.l.3: 32, -Mt.
24:36). view of the fact that the felt there was time
for gospels to be written, read, and used by the Church, they allowed
for the possibility that this indefinite period could be lengthy.
The third evangelist reworks the Marcan version of the discourse
in arder to make explicit the possibility of a wait for the
Parousia. The apocalyptic prophecies in like their Marcan
parallels, have by the time of the evangelist been fulfilled. The
third evangelist, therefore, before he relates his version of the
prophecies concerning the end itself, inserts 21:24: "
. until
the times of the Gentiles are fulfi11ed." The fulfillment of
prophecy must precede the cosmic cataclysm (21:25-26) which heralds
the coming of the Son of Man. In making this insertion, the evangelist
prepares the reader for a possibly extended period of time before the
- . 27
Since this prophecy is not delimited, the Parousia
still come at any moment. The emphasis of the passage, highlighted by
the plural "times," is on a long indefinite period.
The teaching that the' time of the Parousia is unknmm best illus-
trates the belief that God's plan is still in effect. Nothing has gone
wrong. Doubts raised by about the time of the Parousia are
not addressed \"ith r)ferenCe to various elements of the divine plan,
27Conzelmann, Theology p.130; Cf. R.H. Hiers, "The Problem of the
Delay,of the Parousia in Luke-Acts," New Testament Studies 20 (1974)
especially pp.154f.

but are resolved with statements about the limitation of our ability
ta 1hedict Gad' s will wi th regard to the time of the end. This teach-
ing is exemplified in Mark 13: 32: ,{
But of that day or that hour no one knmvs, not ven the
angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Schoirs generally agree that this saying stems from very early in the
tradition. Sorne hold that the saying is a creation of the early
Church, while others believe that it may be an authentic saying of
Jesus. Kmmel, responding to those who argue the former position,
states "there is no reason ta crea te an even greater difficulty by
ascribing ta Jesus ignorance of the final date in arder to remove the
difficulty of the delay of the Parousia. ,,3D What is estahlished by
this verse is that Jesus did not give his followers an exact account
or the day or hour of the end. This saying may have been used in the
early years 'ta stress the unknm.rn hour of the Parousia while still
'" keeping alive the Churcll' s expectation of its imminence. The point of

the verse in Hark 13 is ta emphasize the certainty of the Parousia, or
28 1"
E.g. Bultmann, History p.123; E. Grasser, Das Problem der
Parusieverzogerung in den synoptischen Evangelien und in der Apose1-
geschichte (Berlin, 1957) cited by N. Perrin, The Kin.gdom of -God in
the Teac.hing of Jesus, New Testament Lib-rary, ed. by A. Richardson et.
al. (SCH Press, 1963) p .145f.
E.g. V. Taylor, The Gospel According ta Hark, (London: Mac- '
miIlan, St. Nartin's Press, 2nd ed. 1966) p.522f.; G.R. Beasley-Murray,
A Commentary on Mark Thirteen, (London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1957)
p..,109; C.E.B. Cranfield, The'Gospel According to St. Hark: An Intro-
duction and Commentarv, (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1959)
p.410f.; B.H. Branscomb, The Gospel of Mark, The Hoffat Testament
Commentary, ed. by J. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1937) p.239;
Kmmel, Promise p.42.
umme , Promise p. 42.

'the reality of the day of the Lord, the face of the Chur ch 's
ignorpce of the time. If Jesus 'did not knOtv the hour of the end in
order to carry out His work of salvation, then the members of His
do not nced to J<now the exact time of Parousia in arder ta
carry ot their aS50rted tasks in this world. Mark 13 'thus bears
witness that the Lord taught the Church that no-one except the Father
'knows the ti,me, not' even angels can speculate on the matter.
This sarrie teach'ing i5 found in Acts 1: 7.
Here it is presented
. as a saying of the Risen Lord:.
It s not for you ta know the t;imes or seasons which the
"" Father has fixed by His mm authority.
Acts 1: 8 counsels members of the Church to bear witness to the Gospel,
"to the eods of the earth," even in the face of this uncertainty about
the time. This solution ta the issue of the time of the Parousia is,
itself an exhortation. It counsels the Church not ta !:te"
31r-latthew adopts Hark's version of this saying (Ht.24:36). Luke
amits' it. E. Franklin, Chr"ist the Lord,: A Study in the Purpose of
Luke-Acts, (London: S.P.C:K.; 1975) p.14, thinks that this is because
the st wanted avoid the of uncertainty" in
the he thus replaces the verse wlth, 21:34-36 stresslng pre- )
for the Day of the Lord. Conzelmann, Theology, p.131, who
stresses a continuity Jesus and the resurrected Christ in
Luke 's theology, feels the omission of Mk.13:32 indieates that for
"Luke" "the Son" did the hour. He also interprets Aets 1: 7 ,
together \.;rith the omission of' Nk.13:32 to meah that the evangelist."
to expl'ain Jesus taught 50 mueh about the last day"and nothing
about its time; Slnce this is a problcm for the carly Church, he
places his vers:i,on of the sayiog in Acts, which as far as the community
is concerned has the same practical information as Nk.13: 32 but here
does not compromise the evangelist 's Christology (p.179).
Haenchen, p.143, believes that this is the same saying whieh
is found in the gosp4ijls dS Nk.13: 32. The third evangelist omitted it
from his gospel saving it for Acts i t directly the ques-
tion of the delay for the early Church.
, )
preaccupied with calculating the time of the end. The 'correct manner
for the Church ta prepare for the return of the Lord ls to "Watch!"
(Mk. 13 : 37, Lk. 21: 36) .
The third kind of solution to the problem of the
of the Parousia is the teaching that there i8 indeed a delay. The J
Church may correctly have exp-ected the Parousia, but Gad has altered
His plan and delayed the Parousia ta His mm purposes. This,
resolutiontof the issue stems from a particularly Biblica1. or Hebrew.
conception of Gad. God actively participates in

He is in
dialogue with His people. He can proclaim His will. and, He can
change it when He fee1s the circumstances require it.
y J
., .' -li
<' The eschatological mater:i:al ill II Thessalonians 2 posslbly pro-
'vides us with an example of this kind of resolution for the problem.
II Thess.2:6-7 reads:
And you knmv what is restraining hirn nmv (koec viv To
kfS.tXov o16Q1.n. ) sa that he may be revealed in his time.
FO,r the myst:;.ery of lm."lessness is at work; only
}le who nmv will do sa until he ls out of
the way (/,VO'l K.rJ..l y.CJJv rj,p7i t'W5 h, 'jfUDU yiV7kA.t). 35
34yHWH 's relationsh'ip with Saul the first King of Israel is a
good example 6f' this dilogue. ,ym.JH makes Saul King, but when Saul
does not respond properly to the commandrnents 0{ Gad and Hi.s prophet
't'Hlm "repents of having made Saul King" (1 Sam. 15 : Il). Cf.
Hertzberg, II.,& II Samuel: A Commentary, Old Testament Library, ed.
by G.E. Wright et. al. (London: SCN Press, -1964) p.126. A further ex-
ample is to be found in the Book of Jonah. Gad proclaims the destruc-
tion of the city Nineveh (3:1-5). the people of the 'city repent,
God repents of having wanted to destroy the city (3:10). Cf. Ex.32:14;
Amos 7:3; Jeremiah 18:7-8.

350n the difficulty of translating this passage see M. Barnouin,
"Les Pro"8lemes de TraductionoiConcernant II Thess. 2: 6-7," New Testament
Studies 23 (1977) pp'.482-498.
( .

} .. " ...... -

tI .
The author of die epi,stle tells the Thessalonian th'llt some-
thing 'is, res&aining, or holding back, 'the of the eschato-
". 1
10gia1 adversary. 'Whatever this or ,rrestrainer" iS!t 36
l '"
_ d .... ,.
it will continue to he in the.'pro(?lr t:ime.
,. "' d. "
. '
The 'explanatidn of the" non-occurrence of ,the Parousia as a' delay
l' ... --,
t: - _
also be alluded to in t,e gospels. Hints of this teacl)ing are
, , 0.1 \.
present il:\ many o.f the Par6usia parables. In "The Parable of the
Wicked se;vants" 41-48;, Mt. 24: 45-49) the w!cked
servant begins to act in .a morally reprehensible manner after dec1aring
e ...
. . .. .,
master is delayed" .(Lk.12:45; Mt.24:48). 'd-The'Parab1e of the Door-
t .\
co'uld come,,:"in the
. .
evi\ing, at midnight, or at cockcrOtv, Ut the morning," likewise "The
,II "
Parable of the Waiting Servants (Lk.12: 35-38) teaches the Church to be
wa,tchfu1 even if the Lord arrives "in the second or third watch." "l'he
,r' .' 36Many scholars. have tried to upderstand what the author is re-
,."A,;". ,,\ ferring to with the use of the term "k"'Yt'xoy fi or "K",7:'X",V'." 0 The
\ ,l<t';, has;, been interpreted by Tertullian, De Resurrectione Carnis
" XXtiV, and subsequently by mas t classical interpreters of the passage
as a reference' to the Roman Empire. In recent times the' J.(o:1lxwy has
0 l '1:1
been interpreted ta mean both a good or an evil force. O. Cullnann,
O1rist, and Time, tr. by F.V. Filson (Philadelphia: Press,
1950) pp.164ff., 'IollO\"ed by Noore, Parousia pp.113-ll4, influenced
1;>y Nk.13: 10 believe that the author is referri'!1g ta the Gospel or the
GospeJ preacher. The end is restrained by the preacher, or the power
of the Gospel until those who are ta _be saved have a chance to hear
the Best, p.301, and p.lOI, agree that it is unlikely.
the author is referrrng ta an essentially good force like the Gospel.
WhiteY, p.IOl-102, remarks that the phrase "until he is of the
wa)'." in - Greek as \"ell as i;p English is an expression better suited to
an enemy of Gad' s purpose than ta t.ho was ta play an important
rcle in carrying it out. The confssion of St. Augustine 1500 years
ago in De civ1tate Dei 20: 19 (tr. by M. Dods)' is still appropriate
today: 'v-
we who have not their (the know-
ledge wish and a,re not able to even wi th pains under-
stand what the Apostle referred to . l frank1y
confess l do not knot.,r what- he means .
Parable of the Ten Maidens" (Mt.25:1-13), furthermore, pronounces the
maidens who prepare for the delay of the bridegroom (25 :5) b' the
wise ones. These parables, at least as they are presented by the
evangelfsts, a11 presuppose an" awareness' of ;: delay because they are
lessons on the Church should act in the face of a delay.
St. Augustine
37 '
sees a possible reltionship between ,n,The
Parable of the Binding of "the Strongman" (Hk. 3: 27) '" the II Thessalonian
"kf/. -rixcJv. Il and the Church' s awareness of the delay of the l'arousis.
Acco"rding to St. Augustine "the strongman ..
Satan, is bound so that
- " \
"the thief," Jesus, can enter, his house and steal his "goods," that 15
the. elect. Since it \v's part of Jewish apocalyptic speculation,
that in the last days evil were bouncl Or thrown into prison,39
it is possible that a Christian community which considered itself to
he living in the last times would interpret the present as a time in
\vhich the forces ff evi! were being bound or res'traine4.
consummate battle between good and evil was being de1ayed.
Thus the
This bellef could then resu1t in two, differing' perspectives in
\vhich the de lay wou1d be; perceived by ear ly Chris tians. For those to
whom the delay meant frustrated hopes and suffering (see Il Thess.1: 5-
10) the clelay culd be seen as a resu1t of evil forces'. It, is because
37 1
See also Kumme , Promise, p .109.
. i
e Cl.V tates Dei 20: 7; Cf. Taylor, p .24l.
39S'ee Isaiah 24:21-23; l Enoch 10:11-14,18:12-16, 19:1-2, 21:1-6,
80:4-90:5; Testament of Levi 18:12; also Rev.20:2.
, ,

, '
f '
l" '
Satan is still bound, or the "man of lawlessness" is prvented
from being revealed. that his defeat at the hnds of the returning
Lor,d cannot take place. Henee, this may aeeount for the associatjon
of the "res traint, Il or "li4d.TiXwv," in II Thess. 2:6-7 with the "son of
perdition" and the Itmystery of lawlessness." The l{oI,1.Xr.JV in this case
may be understood as the forces of rebellion which are being held at-
bay. The fact 1 that this consummate is held in check pre-
. vents its defeat at the end of the age.
On the other hand, this eveil which is being restr,!},ined, or bound
up, -may als 0 account for the status of those who have not yet heard,
or who who have rejected the Ward of SaI vation. These people, includ-
ing those who have the and yet have fallen back into their
sins, are bound up with and in evi1; they are in "Satan '5 house."
They will be lost, or de$troyed with Satan if 'he is destroyed: There-
fore, for those who' are concerned about people who are bound up with
Satan, either themselves, other members of 'the Church, or those who
have not hard the Gospel, the 'delay affords precious time necessary
, for salvation. Such passages as Nark 13:10, ns Il: 25 are good
representations of this view. The delay' . ecessary for preach-
ing Gospel, and so it is a mark of Gofs compassion. He delays
His final j-udgment of evil; He will, not defeat Satan until His elect
are freed from Satan' s clutches. Satan Hill not be defeated until his
"goods" have been plunderd. The elect must first be separated from
Satan, lesf the wheat perish with the tares (Ht.13:29). J





, ,
JI '---
The delay of the Parousia was therefore understood in the early
Church as bath an indication of Got, s compassion, and as an indication
, of the evil in the world. It is because there is sa much evil, that
roore time i8 needed ta free Gad' s people from Satan' s ways.
By the second the vieY that the delay "as a mark of Gad' S
seems to the teaching of the Church.
writer of II Peter responds to the question of the delay in II Pet.3:9
as follows:
;t'he Lord is not' slow about his promise as sorne count slow-
ness, but is forebearing towards you, not wishing any
should perish, but that aIl should reach repentance.
2. The Danger of Haral Laxity
The delay of the Parousia was a threat t:o the moral li,fe of the
Churc.h. The expectation of an Parousia was a pbwerfl,ll
motivating force behind the high moral standards held by the primitive
community. The "ethic of radical rejection," which called for i re-
nunciation of worldly ties and activity, ::md the "developing delay
ethic," which stressed non-attachment ta the , ... ays of the eworld, were
bath meaningful in the life of the communi ty speci fically in view of
"the distress," or "the passing away of the form of this
40 At the end of the second century, Tertullian, Apologeticus
39:2, tr. by S. Theh ... all, from The Ante-Nicene Christian Library
ed. by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, defending the practices of the
Church before Roman authori'ties states:
We pray, too . for the \velfare of the world, the
prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final con-
world" (I Cor. When this motivating force was called into'
question by the fact that the Day of the Lord had not come when ex-
pected, there arose the danger that sorne members of the Chureh would
again be caugh t up in the \olorkings and cares of this world. Involve-
rnt in buying, selling, and other social responsibilities might con-
fliet wi th or take precedence over the demands of diseipleship. More
sorne people might again revert ta a former way of life
which the Church held ta be immoral and damaging ta the believers'
, relationship with the Lord.
This issue is reflected in severai sayings, exhortations,
parab1es whic:;h teach the certainty and sudden manifestation of t;he
Parousia. These, passages are predominantly calls for "wakefulness,"
"sobriety," ana "wa"tchfulness."
( "-
f Calls for "wa,t;chfuiness" and "sobriety" in the gospels as weIl

as in sorne Pauline ,episdes, emphasize the moral implications of pre-'
paring ror the Parousia. They address prob lems of moral laxi ty, and
in doing so the gospels along with sorne Pauline epistles reflect the
presence of this particular problem in various Churches.
For Paul, moral laxity is only an issue during the "short" interim
before the consummation of the age. ,It is a problem for those people
who are not molare that the time for the final consummation is near.
The edils for "watehfulness" in the gospels may also have originally
been used to teach the awareness of, and proper preparation for, the
E. g. Romans 13: Uf
fast approaching eschatological crises. These sayings, exhortations,
and parables, h,m-rever, have been reforrnulated hy the evangelists ta
address the problern of preparedness in the face of ,the delay of, the
. 43
arousl.s. For the evangelists the issue arises specifica11y because
of the Church' s growing a,"areness of a possibly extended delay.
The incquestion make use of certain metaphors to achieve
their exhoratory purpose. These, are the dual metaphors of sleep/wake-
fulness, and drunkenness/sobriety. These metaphors correspond to the
dual metaphor of day/night which has a mu eh broader use in the New
AlI these metaphors have their roots in 01d and Inter-
testamental Judaism.
Paul was a\.fare of the problems which could arise when the corning
of the Parousia i5 doubted. Though the s1tuation in as
in l Thessalonians. was not one of doubt. but enthusiasm,
problems caused by the detay were foreseen by Paul as a possibility.
This awareness on Paul's part is refiected in ;r Thess.'5:1-11. The main
issue in Thessalonica was one which had arisen because of the eommunity's
"imminent expectation." The conununity ,.,as grieving over the loss ot,
sorne friends, and was concerned about their status at the Parousia.
42See Dodd, Parables, pp .122-139; Jeremias Parables,
124-126, 126-139; Theo10gy, pp.10S, 127-141,244.
pp, 38-52.
430n the parables seE' Jeremias, Parables, pp.38-S2;
also Dodd, Parables, pp.122-139.
44See E. Lovestam, Spiritual in the Ne,., Testament, tr.,
by W.F. Salisbury, Lunds Universites Arsskrift N.F. Avd.l Bd.55 Nr.3
(Lund: Gleerup, 1963) pp.8-24.
45 '
See pp.1B-21 above.
Paul, after having instructed the community pn the general iesurrection
hoping to assuage their grief, consels .them further the
sudc:l.enness of the Parousia. l Thess.S:l-S reads:
But as to the times 0 and the seasons, breth ren, you have no
need to have anything II/ritten to you. For you yourselves
know well that the day of the Lord will corne like a thief
in the night. tJhen people say "There i5 peace and secur-
ity ," then sudden destruction lI/il1 corne upon them as
travail cornes upon a woman with chi1d, and' there will be
no escape. But you are not in darkness, brethren, for
that clay to surprise you like a thief. For you are al1
sons of ligh t and sons of the day; we are not of the night
or of the darkness.
1 Thess 1 addresses a prob1em by the non-occurrence of
the parousia;46 it addresses questions about" the time. Since the main
4 r
issue in Thessalonica involves "imminent expectation," Paul i5 here
which may arise in Thessa10nica if grief turns
into disappointment of the fact that the Parousia occur before
members of the comrnunity had died. Pau,l' s counsel both re-affirms
1 v, i ",.'
their belief, that the Paro'{isia will corne, and reassures them that
they are prepared and will surprised when it does come.
Paul counse1s the Thessalonians wi th the use of two metaphors for
the parousia "which bring out its unexpectedness,
" " .' b"l" ,,47
an yet ItS Inev1ta l Ity. He tells them that the "day of the Lord
will come like a thief in the night" (5:2) ,48 \vhich implies the cf.istress
46 _
Cf. Best, p.2Q3.
47 Ibid.
48The thief in the night image also occurs in t:he Q-P-aSsage-l.k....-- _
'Best, p.205, states that "either the Pauline e:h-pression
could have been expanded into the Q parab le or the Q parable could have
been summarized in the Pauline phrase." Lovestam, p.86, thinks the
image goes back to Jesus; he states, p. 96, that "the se of the thief


" ,


" .
with a robbery as weIl as the unexpected arrivaI of a
robber. Paul goes on to say that the distress the Day of the Lord
brings is as inevitable as the _travail of a pregnant (5: 3b).
The distress of that Day will come when people do not expect it, "when
they say there is peace and security." Yet its very is
expected. This implied in the metaphor of birth: one may not know
the exact time of the birth, but there can be no uncertairtty that a
, pregnant Woman t.,ill suffer labor pains and give birth.
Paul t who is trained in the rabbinic tradition, makes full. use of
aH the rich implications of the metaphor of light and dark are
1 4
found in the Jewish tradition. 9 In Jewish "day" has a
twofold meaning. It refers ta the age to come, as' in "The Day of the
Lord. 'lt alS-G--t:efers ta th.,at "light" which enables Israel to walk,
or conduct herself, in a manner which will preserve Israel for the Day
, .
of Judgment, that is the Torah. "The night," sim:llarly, i6 both the
darkness which envelopes the lives of those who do not have the, light
of the Torah ta guide them, and it refers to this present age, when
the "Children of light," are at the mercy of those in darkness,
'1 50
t e Gentl es.
simile lacks correspondence . in the eschatological imagery
O-f the Judaism of that Ume." The question it seems must be left open.
49Lovestam, pp.86-87.
In l Thess. 5: 2, the Day of the Lord is set in cont ras t ta the,
night in which the thief cornes. The night refers bath ta the evil
deeds of unbelievers, works of darkness, and also this present age
when these works are being accomplished. The day /night contrast is
inherent in the idea of the Day of Judgment. Just as things which
are hidden by the cove; of darkness are by daylight, evil
deeds will be made when the Day of Jutt dawns upon this dark
age. Judgment will descend upon those whose works are evil, aince the
Day of the Lord will bring evil works ta light. }udgment descends on
darkness. It is, therefore, only ta those "in the night" that the
Day dawn with judgment, that is with the distress associated with '
a thief.
Paul tells, 'the Thessalonians that they are "sons of the day," and
therefote need not be surprised, or' overtaken, when the Day
of the Lord arrives (I Thess. 5:4) As "sons of the day" they are "in-
heritors of" and "destined for the eschatological day ta
come. Il
Since they are of the day, that is since their deeds are not those of
people who are in darkness, 52 they'will not be distressed wh en the Day

of the Lord cornes. Their deeds and acti vi ty in this world are, and
should be, those which prepare thern for, anc! which are guided by the
eschatological day ta come. The Day of the Lord cornes as a thief, ta
those in the night, not ta those in (of) the day.
., p.49.
52 Cf. 1 q"hess.5:11b.


( ..



, ,
- ...,. ..... <- -- - --- -
To ,the Thessalonians the exhortation remains: "BE! sober," and
"Keep awake." They are to do so beeause they are "sons of the'day."
l Thess.5:6-9 reads:
Sa then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep
a\,)'ske and be sober. For those who sleep'sleep at night,
and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But, sinee
we belong ta the day, let us be sober, and put on the'
breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope
of salvation. For' God 'has not destined us for wrath, but
to obtaln salvatioJl through our Lord Jesus Christ,
,"Sleep" and "dru,nkenness," which correspond to the activities of the
night-time, refer a moral way of life which is not enlightened
by the way, or hope, of salvation. Being hawake" and ,"soher," whic'h
are activities proper to the day-time, correspond to a way of life
wl}ich by the light of salvation, and 50 prepares the believer
for the approaehing Day of the Lord. It is because the present age
is characterized by the evil deeds of the unbelievers that it fs
ealled "the nigh t. ,,54 These deeds will, however, be brought to 1ight
. .
by ttle Day and will be judged. In the interim, "the sons of light,"
here the Thessalonians are living in this age of darkness. lt is
beeause they are living in this age. that the "sons of the day" need
the armor of fai th, love. and hope to protect them from the darkness.
55 .
or evil character of this age. . These refer to adynamie way
Cf. Eph.5:14ff.
54See Lovestam. p.22f.
f. Eph.6:13ff .
r l -
...,. J _
of living, especially in terms of how one relates ta Qther pe.ople as
weIl as ta God. 56 Faith, love and hope protect the believer; as one
lives a life of faith, active in love, and filled with hope, one's
conduct in this world is preparation for the next.
The exhortations to be watchful, sober, and awake, recur period-
ically in Paul's epistles.
They are ethical exhortations, cal1s for
right living. In Romans 13: 11-14, Paul spells out clearly the meaning
of being asleep. and what cons ti tute.s the "works of darkness." Ta be
is ta be involved in drunkenness, debauchery,
licentiousness, quarreling, and jealousy (these things among
many others). The teaching Paul gives his Church in Thessalonica is
this: Be certain the Parousia is coming; as long as our conduct does
not exhibit the qualities of "the night," or "darkness," then, the
Day of the Lord will not dawn upon 'us with the distress and sUllrise
associated wi th the coming of a thief. The Thessalonians were certain
that the Parousia \vas coming and were living accordingly (1 Thss.5:4,
Il). yaul knows, hml1ever, htw tenuous i5 in the face
of great di5appointment and;'grief, and 50 in l Thess.5:1-l1 he seek5
ta re-en force the Thessalonians in their hope.
. l C 13
or. .
57Cf . l Cor.16:13; Ro.13:l1-14; Also Eph.5:l4-20.
,< ,
.. ,
, ,
By the time the evangelists wrote their moral laxity in
the face of the delay became, a major issue. There are repeated calis
ta watchfuiness in the go,lS. In Luke 12:35-40, as in l Thess.5:l-11,
the siroile of "the thief in the night" is used to highlight the dif-
ference those who are prepared for the Parousia and those who
are not. The evange1ist ptesents his reader with t\.J'O
situations involving the return of sameane ta a household. He begins
wi th 12: 35 exhorting the reader to: "Let your loins be girded and
lamps burning .. " Then the reader is toid to "be like" ser-
J vants "whom the mas ter finds a\"ake 'Ilhen he cornes" (12: 37a). If he
finds them awake, ,,,Hether he cornes "in the second watch, or the third"
(12:38), he "gird himself and have them sit at table," and wi'll

"come and serve them" (12: 37b). The evangelist then warns the reader
in 12: 39-40:
But knm., this. if the householder had known at W'hat hour
the thief was coming, he tvould not have left his house
ta be broken into. You also' must be ready; for the Son
of Nan is coming at an unknown hour.
E:ach of the two situations described above; "The Parable of the
Waiting Servants" and the reference ta the l'Unprepared Householder, Il
by themselves may be understood solely as exhortations on preparedness
for the Day of the Lord. Their use in conjunction wi th one another
reflects the need ta teach preparedness in the face of the delay
(12: 38a) which has caused sorne to become rnorally lax. This passage
58See Lovestam, pp.92-95; R. Bauckham, "Synoptic Parousia
Parables and the Apocalypse," New Testament 23 (1977) pp.165-



" -
as i t stands in the gospel reflects a need to contrast the lot of the
prep ared th the lot of those who are not.
To be is
ta keep onels "loins girded" and onels "lamp
burning" '( 12: 35) . The "larnp" which symb olized the Torah 'for Israel,
here symbolizes "the light of faith in Jesus Christ;" keeping onels
"loins girded" rneans "active preparedness." One i5 prepared by liv-
ing the life reveled by the light of the burning lampe To the un-
prepared (the householder) the S on of Man cornes like a thief causing
the distress of a robbeI)',;t to the "waiting servants" who are
he cornes "to sit at table)" and to serve. The concluding verse (12:40),
highlights the reason for the cornparis'on: It expresses a shift in
- emphasis; the stress is on the certainty of the Parousia rather than
on i ts nearness. This shi ft addresses doubt wi th regard to the com-
ing of the Lord. The certainty of the Parousia, in <spite of the un-
kno\vn hour, is implicit in the contrast dehneated by the tvw parables.
Either way the Lord cornes, to those awake as a fel}.o'''' servant or
brother, but to those asleep as a thief. The certainty of the Parousia
is stressed; ignorance of the hour not a reason for doubt but;
Il h f
' "1 60
reason a t e more or ance.
It is particularly irnportant.llthat this passage is follOlved by
Peter' s question in Lk.12: 41: "Lord are you telling this parable for
59 .. 94
Loves tam, p. ,
60Cf. C.L Carlston,' The Parabls of the Triple Tradition,
(Philadelphia: Fortrcss P'ress, 1975) pp. "84-89.
" ,
us or for aIl?" The parable follows, in answer to Peter's ques-
", ,/
tion, condemns both those who kqow the correc,t conduet for this l'ife
"but use the delay as an excuse for immoraLactivity (12:45), and also
those who' are unprepared for the Judgment due to of the
3 correct way of life. The latter' are, however, judged with 1ess severity.
Luke 12:47-48 reads:
And that servant who knew his mas ter , s will, but did pot
make ready or act aecording to his will, shall receivEba
severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what '
deserved a beating, shall receive a 1ight beating. Every
one to whom much is gi ven, of him much wi Il be requireq;
and of him ta whom mn commit mueh they will demand the
Peter' s ques tion under1ines the reason for the inclusion of this teach-
ing in the gospel. The evangelis t stresses that the Church, which
.. !J
both has been to1d ihat the Lord is cOming, and which knows the way of
life that is proper preparation for His advent, has no excuse when it
lapses into the excesses of the unbelievers.
The prob lem of moral laxity in the face of the non-occurrence of
the P.arous,ia is also reflected in the three versions of the eschato-
10gica1 dlscourse found in the synoptie gospels. These versions are
eaeh compiled from various traditions, wi th Hatthew and Luke using
Mark 13 as weIl as traditions of their mm. These traditions within
the discourse, each address particular problems regarding the Churth' s
61 1 0
Fo,! brief statement on the scholarly consensus re-
garding ,the eschatological discours,,' see J .D.G. Dunn, Unit y and
Diversity in the Testamept, (Phl.ladc1phia: Press, 1977)

c -
_ ....... _-.... ... "];;.
, . o 0
expectation of the Parousia. These prob1ems concern such things as
persecution and wltness nlk.13:9-13 and par.), false teachers (Mk.13:
5-6,21-22; Mt.24: 11 ,23-26; Lk.21:8), the dispersion of tQe Church

Q1k.U:27; Mt.24:;i>', the tl;le temple "Mt.
24:'15"f.; and questiQns about the time of the Pat:.ous1a
(Mk.13;28-37 and par.) other'things: AlI these needed
sme sort of because they coui? cause doubt concerning the
teaching" of the Church with: regard to the end-time, and this in turn

-.. _- -..... ,..\
,J L
. ,
The discourse. though it 15 made up of these var-
. ,
ious parti.c\lI-a'r-=quest-ions about the end-
< - ..... ." ,
.. .. ..
time" h{ls been compilec:i by the evangelisfS in order to address the
,'" 62
greater issue of doubt caused by the delay of th Parousia. I_t_ .is
, . -
to this issue, directly, that the concluding verses of each version
of the discourse are addressed (Hk.13:3?-37; Mt.24:36-25:46;'Lk.2:36):
The purpbse of the Marcan version of the discourse 15 to teach
the Ch'trh nothing prophesied' for "the end has been left un-
63 0\
accomplished or unfulfilled, save the end itself. The Parousia can

be expected oat any. time. In the face of this certainty the Church is
'.' .,
exhorted to "Ha'tch" (Hk.13:3;3,37): This exhortation is 'punc{ated
with a parable"which' vigilance: "The Parable of the Doorkeep-
(Hk.13:35-37) .

In this -parable a servant, a doorkeeper, is left
,62The evangelists probably addressing in othis instance, the
doubt caused the non-occurrence of the in conjunction with
the destruction of the Temple; see Chp. III. sec. 2 (B).
63See Chp. III sec. 2 (B).
y .
.' . ' .

, ---'
1 l
i '
'. .,
waiting at nighttime; it is a time in which people are inc1ined to fa Il
asleep. The metaphor of wakefulness s used here to illustrate the
me'aning .of vigilance. The Church has been left watchful, or awake, ln
the night of this present age. It is to be vigilant and live the llfe
J '
proper to those who are awake and not asleep. Mar1(J'13: 35-37 reads:
Watch therefore - for you do not know wnen the master of
the house will come, in the evening or at midnight, or at
cockcrow, or ln the morning - lest he come suddenly and
Und you asleep. '. And ""what l say to you l say to a11:
The evangelist proclaims the certainty of the master' s return in spi te
-of the fact 'that an unknown hour. The delay is no excuse
, for sleeping, because the Parousia of the Lord ls still expected.
The Lucan discourse (Lk.2l:5-38) adds emphasis to the fact tnat
the present'is a time for the Chur!h to filfil its mission in
world, with the inclusion of 21:24. Though the Parousia is ..
t,hird evangelist believes the Parousia will not oecur until the Gentile
missiqn ls accomp1ished. 65 Rather L'lan include "The Parable of the
," stresses the sudden, unexpec ted coming of the Son
of those who are -1lasleep," the 1 third e.vangelist aoncludes his
'{ersion of !=he discourse a group of sayings expresses' in
det'ail the meaning of being found "asleep" at the Parousia. In 21: 34,
he explicitly, calls for vigila-g.ce with regard to th,e cares of this
But take heed to yourse,lves lest your hearts 6e weighed
'... '
dmm w,i'th the dissipation and tlrunkenness and cares of
64Cf Carlston, pp.197-202.
. 65
f. Heirs, p.154.
.. l
l' ,

this liie, and that day come upon you suddenly like a
In what follows, the mtaphors of "watchfulness" and "sobriety" further
the issue of moral laxity. The evangelist exhorts the Church
ta "watch" and "pray" it has the strength ta escape the disasters of
the Last Judgment (21:36). It is implied that one can escape if one
i5 not "weighed down the the dissipation and drunkenness and Cares ,
- .
of, this life."
The problem of laxity, especially in d<?ing the will of Gad, is
of particular iinportance ta The Gospel of Matthew. 66 lts 'Version of
the escnatological 'which for the "'mo5t part follows Mark 13,
includes a great deal of' material (60 verses) which expand the Marcan

conclusion and add ta it. This material deals specifically with the
proper way the Church ?ught ta conduct itself during the delay. This
in itself reflects the need to reaffirm the fact that the delay of
the Parousia does not abrogate the ethics and \l1ay of liCe "stablished
. /
in viell1 (lf the expected consummation of the age.
The Harcan passage on "watchfulness" (Nk .13: 33-37) is expanded
in Matthew as follows: Ht. 24: 37-39 compares the present to "the days
of Noah," \l1hen people lived not knowing the flood would come and
s\l1eep thema11 away;.Mt 24: 40-44 informs the Church that distinctions
ldth regard to salvation will be made when the Son of Nan cornes; Nt.24:
, 45-49, which sets up a contrast between If the faithful and wise servant"
66Cf. Ht. 7:21; Bo:nkamm, pp.15-24; Cr15ton, p.46.
__ _









.... --------------------0-
Q j
0" th_ parous\a is 1
and "the wicked servant," teaches that the delay
no excuse for abandoning the correct way of life necessary for
ing ,the Last Judgment. The '\.icked servant" is he who
. says ta himse1 f, "My mas ter is delayed, and begins
ta beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with
the drunken .
In ta the blessedness awaidng "the faithful and
wise servant," "the master
of "the servant"
. . will come on a day when he does not expect him and
at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put
him ,,,ith the hypocrites;. there men will weep and gnash
their teeth .
The, Natthean version of the discourse inc1udes, moreover, a long
composite of traditions (25: 1-46) which continue his teaching for a
Church faced with a ppssible long wait. After having estab1ished the
, certainty of Judgment for those who are unprepared ,(24: 37-49); the
evange1ist counse1s the Church on the meaning of proper preparation for
the Parousia in the face of the delay. !1atthew 25 is an example of
the eva:ngelist 's fully deve10ped "de1ay ethic." "ThParable of the
Ten Haidens" (25: 1-13) stresses the ne'ed for the preparation of an ex-
tended stay in this wor1d. "The Parab1e of the Buried Talent" (25:14-
46) condemns irresponsibi1ity and inactivity during the time alotted
the Church before the Parousia: What follows is a discourse/parable
an the Last Judgment Here the evangelist teaches pre-
cisely what criteria ,viU be used by the Lord to j udge the world 'vhefl
He arrives. The members of the Church will be j udged on the basis of
or not their love for the Lord was made manifest in the wor1d .



"'. '"
The righteous,are who love God,by loving humanity, those who'
, 67 '
show compassion for others. This passge, which makes up the con-
,clusion to the Matthean VFSiGn of the discourse, reflects foremost
that there was a need felt by the evangelist to teach members of the
Church that their position at the last judgment will depend on how
\ 68
they act in the possib1y Interim before the Parousia.
The great emphasis in Matthew on proper living in view of the
expected judgment, ref1ects the degree to in the eyes of the
evange1ist the activity of the Church continues to condition its
position at the Parousia. The Parousia is certain; its impact as the
dawn of judgment,or blessing on the way the Church'conducts
!,herself in the Interim. The delay is not a time for irresponsible en'-
thusiasm or moral laxity. The delay is a time for "'watchfulness"
(24:37-51), preparation (25:1-13), growth (25:14-30), and good works
(25: 31-46).

As the delay of the Parousia an issue in Christian corn-
munities, the teachers of the Church reaffirmed the certainty of the
Parousia. and ca11ed for "watchfu1ness." This is a calI for high
moral standards. Imp1icit in this calI is the belief that the conduct
67Against L. Cope, 25:31-46 'The Sheep and gcats'
Reinterpretcd, Il l\'ovum Testamentum 1] (1969) pp. 32-44, \vho believes
that the passage ls not intended the Church; the evangelist. he
argues, teaches that the nations will be judged on the basis of their
treatment of Jesus' disciples.
68Cf . G. Barth, "Natthew' s Understanding of the Lmv," in Tradi-
tion and Interpretation in-Matthew New Testament Library, ed. by A.
Richardson et. ,al. (London: SCM Press, 1963) pp.58-159; especially
pp.58-62,95. \
, ..

l ,-
- , _. ______ .. -1" .. - ___________ -_ .... ........

of the believer in this world conditions the manner in whieh the Lord
will be reeeived by the believer upon His return. If the believer is
"asleep," the Lord will return "like a thief in the night," that is
with judgrnent. If the believer is "awake" when He cames, Jesus will'
""come wi th blessings "ta sit t table" and serve with His servants.
The sayings and parables whieh calI for "watehfulness" were prob-
ably used early in the life of the community to foeus attention on the
crisis. The evangelists have used these same traditions
to focus the of the community on the proper way of life.
The purposes of both the earlier and later,use of these traditions are
still, ta sorne degree preparation for the Day of the Lord.
The evangelists have, however, taken into account the possibility of
an extended stay in this world. The possibility that the Parousia,rnay
')" .
still lie far in the future, pforhaps beyond the life-times of of
the readers of the gospels, has caused the evangelists to redefine
imminence. There is, at least in Luke and Matthew, a shift in em-
phasis with,regYd to the subject of imminence in the calls 'for "watch-
fulness. " Rathe r than proclaim the nearness of the Day of' the Lord
chronologically', these calls stress the need to live a life in view
of certainty of) the Day of Judgrnent. The Parousia is the reality
which should provide the context for one's actions. Moral activity
is proper ta thase who belang ta the Day \vhich will da\Vll at the cornihg
of the Lord. Phrases expressing the closeness of that
day are used by the evangelists to express the close interrelationship
f' ,
_ ........ "-. .. ..... ..... " ..... ,_ ....... _ ..
between one's activity in this world' and one's status in the next.
Imminence is thus redefined to suit a time when the delay was aIl too
real. To be "awake" is to be aware of the
within which one's actions are tied to the judgment. The believer is
to be aware of, and live wtth, the certainty that the Lord is coming
and brings with Himself proper recompence. To be "a\.;rake'" is to be
certain that the Parousia is imminent in spite of the delay; it is
imminent in 50 far as the believer's action in the present conditions
his or her position at the Parousia. Actions in the present, be they
motivated by sin or righteousness, be they acts of repentance,
or the breaking of God' s commandments, a11 have, the quality of de-
impact of the Day of the Lord. "Wake fulness" is the
awareness tht life in this world determ1nes whether the Parousia of
" the Lord will be the advent of Judgment or blessing.
(' ,-
- /
early Church inherited many apocalyptic traditions from both
ancient Jewish sources and from, the primitive community_ This in-
herited teaching,. or 'iYo.pd..60lfC.S , comprises part of the Church 's reve-
lat ion of the Day of the Lord.
It is evident upon study of the New Testament that Sorne of these
apocalyptic traditions created the early Church.
These issues accordingly fall inta two catagories: (1) ProbTems caused
by traditions> inhrited from pre-Christian sources; (2) Problems caused
by traditions inherited from the primitive community.
1. Problems by Traditions lnherited from Pre-Christian
This section ex?mines t,I10 issues. The first involves the di ffi-
cult y which Jewish traditions concerning the general resurrection of
the dead posed for Gentile converts. The second issue involves the
difficulty \.Jhich the rejection of the Gospel by most Jews posed for a
particular Jewish Christian, Paul. The latter, as an apocalyptic
, "
-1- ,
! ' 1
.1 "
issue, is concerned specifically with the status of the Jews at the
Parousia in light of the promises God made to the people Israel in the
days of the Patriarchs and the Prophets.
(A) The Problem of the Gener\l Resurrection of the Dead
The'_ doctri!1e of the dead is' deeply
Jewish tradition by the time the New Testament was written.
This teaching probably developed in post-exilic Judaism as a way to
, 1,
account for God s justice in an unjust age. The partticulars of the
general resurrection vary from text to text. In some Inter-testamental
texts only the righteous are resurrected, but most fo1low Daniel 12
Charles, Eschatology, p.130f., argues that there arose at sorne
time a need to hope for the redemption of the individual as weIl as for
the reconstitution of the nation. Even 50, as the righteous were in-
creasingly oppressed by various cap tors during the exilic and post-
exilic periods, a doctrine vhich held that the righteous, even if they
had been killed, still inherit a share in the coming Nessianic
would help to resolve questions concerning the righteousness and jus-
tice of YHHH. A doctrine of the general resurrection would also be
helpful if, as argued by P.D. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic (phila-
delphia: Fortress Press, 2nd ed. 1979), apocalyptic thought originated
out of a situation of strife within the nation of Israel: if those who
were considered righteous had been killed at the hands of op-
pressors, this doctrine wou1d help maintain the belief in Cod's
righteousness in spite of the seeming injustice of such actions. As
things stand, hmo1ever, Russel. p.367, is probably correct; in stating
that "the historical occasion rnarking the development of this beHef
i8 obscure."
Russell, p. 367i:, interprets Is. 26: 19, follO\>'ng the Syriac and
Targum. as the first reference to the general resurrection in
Hebrew literature. Here the reference is only toDthe righteous. The
notion of the resurrection may be implied in Zech.14:S, but it i8 not
explicitly stated until it appears in Daniel 12:2-3.
E.g. Song of Solomon 3:13; II Enoch 8:5, 65:10.




-.",;"..,. .... "'n_
' .
in which aIl are b'rought ta life in arder ta face divine judgment.
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs include both strains of thought:
according ta the Testament of Judah 25:1-2, the Patriarchs will arise
first, then, according to 25:3-5, those "who died in grief" and "who
were put to death fOT the Lord's sake;" in the Testament of Benjamin
10:6 the Patriarchs rise first "on the right hand in gladness," and
then according to 10: 7-8 aIl people will rise and "be changed, sorne
into glory and sorne into shame." Like the Book of Revelation (20:4-15)
the Testaments of the Twelve 'knows of a double resurrection,
one for the Patriarchs and Holy Martyrs, then one for the lastrjudg-
ment of aIl people.
Paul, who was a Pharisee before his conversion (Phil.3:5) , and
according ta Acts 22:3 was a student of Gamaliel, must have been
familiar with mu ch that Jwish apocalyptic had ta offer about the
doctrine of the general resurrection.
Although Paul reinterpreted
his beliefs in light of his conversion experience, much of what he
preached was rooted in Jewish thought. He taught his Gentile converts
some things which rnay have been "traditional" teaching for the Jews.
Even though '''Gad fearers" in his Greek congregations may have had
sorne previous contact with Jewish apocalyptic speculation, familiarity
with ideas stemming from apocalyptic traditions were probably not the
E.g. l Enoch 28:8; 22:13; Cf. Russell, p.370.
SIn l Corinthians 2:7, for example, Paul speaks about imparting
a "secret and hidden wisdom" ta the 'mature. Conzelmann, Corinthians,
p.62, believes that this is a reference to esoteric rabbinical specula-
tion which involved both apocalyptic and wisdom traditions "which pass
into each other."
. r - ---- --- - l - - -
" (
In Corinth sorne members of the congregation had difficulty
the doctrine of the general resurrection of the dead. l Corinthians
15: l2b reads:
hmv can sorne of you say there is no resurrection
of the dead?" The situation in Corinth was one of doubt; the reality
of the general resurrection at the end of the age was being questione<i.
This doubt was the result of scepticism among Greeks in the face of an
unfamiliar Jewish belief.
The tone throughout the chapter is "gentle;"
the "Apostle is anxious not to give offense. ,,7 Paul is therefore not
opposing anyone who is teaching a "heretical" doctrine, but helping
See A. Robertson and A. Plummer, A Critical and Exegeticat Com-
mentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, The International
Critical Commentary, ed'. by S.R. Driver et. al. (Edinburgh: T. & T.
Clark, 1911) p. 329.
There is still a great deal of debate regarding the precise nature
of the problem in Corinth; see J.H. Wilson, "The Corinthians Who Say
There Is No Resurrection of the Dead;" Zei tschrift Fur Die Neutest;a-
mentliche \.Jissenschaft 59 (1968), pp.90-lD7, for a summary of the pre-
sent state of the question. Bultmann, Theology vol.l p.169, believes
the problem involves a "gnos ticizing party" who denies a bodily
resurrection; see aIs a \-1. Schmitbals, Gnosticism in Corinth, tr. by
J.E. Steely, (Nashville: Abingdon pp.l55-l59; and J.
Moffatt, The First Epistle ta the Corir'r1fuians, The Moffatt Ne\v Testa-
ment Commentaries ed. by J. Hoffatt (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.,
1938) p.240, who believes the problem involves "mystical enthusiasts."
Paul's dissussion in l Cor.15 does not address mystical or gnostic
enthusiasts. Bultmann, who is followed by Conzelmann, Corinthians p.260,
recognizes this, and bath scholars argue therefore that Paul has mis-
understood the problem; thinking that the doctrine of the resurrection
has been denied in total, he proceeds to deai with the issue as such.
The argument that sorne Corinthians found the doctrine of the gen-
eral resurrectlgn'too fantastic has a lot to itself. The
view that Paul is misinformed leaves open the question of how he could
be so weIl informed about the Corinthian situation 50 as to deal with
it properly in the rest of the epistle and yet misunderstand the prob-
lem'behind l Cor.15. Furthermore. once one starts to posit misunder-
stan,ding on Paul's part, there can be-no limit to exegetical speculation.
7R,ob'ertson and Plummer, p.329.
, '
t \
..{"->.-r, -- - .- ..,..... ----.

the Corinthians in their unbelief. Acts 1'1: 32 besrs witness to the
fact that scepticism among Paul's Gentile listeners when confronted
with the doctrine of the rsurrection of the dead was not unique to
l Cor.15:33-34 bears ev:!'dence that doubt about the doctr;
of the resurrection had weakened the faith of sorne Corinthians. This
was probably the result of debate with fellow Greeks. This doubt had
caused sorne to faU away from the moral way of life which Paul had
taught them. l Cor.15:33-34 reads:
Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good maraIs."
sober as one ought, and sin no more. For sorne have no
knowledge of Gad. l say this "to
Paul resolves the issue by tying the generai resurrection ta the
resurrection of Jesus. which is part of the Corinthians confessed faith.
Paul asserts the historieal 'bodily resurreetion of Jesus by recounting
,"the Apostlic witness upon which the Christian confession is based (I
. 10
Cor .15: 3-11) . He then informs the Corinthians that this resurrection
f-Jesus, ta which the Apostles beaT witness, is the same kind of
resurrection he preaches \"ith regard ta the rest of humanity at the
final consummation. In l Cor.lS:l3, Paul flatly states that a rejectiQ11.
of the doctrine of the general resurrection is a rejection of the
sef. Haenchen, p.526.
9The underlined phrase, "lI(V1y""ft. ,'.' is translated".dif-
ferently here than in the RSV. The term when translated
"Be sober" better highlights the lapse in maraIs implied in this
IOSee R.J. Sider, "St. P;ul's Understanding of the Nature,and
Significance of the Resurrection in l Corinthians 15: 1-19,"
Testamentum 19' (1977) pp .124-141.
, .
. ('
}>-' f
-'7 "
.. ,
resurrection Christ:
But if there is no resurretion o"f the dead, then Christ
could. not have been raised
If this is the case, the of Paul' s preaching, and therefore the
, "
redempti on he preached to the Corinthians is meaningless (15: 14) :
Paul informs the doubters that the resurrection on the Day bf the Lord
constitutes the hope of the community. Without this hope
Christian fah is to be pitied, because those who hold to it ho1d to
something which perishes \.,rith this' life. l Cor.15:l7-19 reads:
If Christ has not been raised, your fai th is and
you are still ln your sins. Then those also who have
fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If ,for this life
only we have hoped in Christ, \.,re are of aIl men most to
be pitied.
Ta sorne degree the sacrifices the believer makes in this t.,rorld only
make sense if there is a beHef in the resurrection and an after-life.
Thse sacrifices make up a large part of Christian should
one put his or her life in danger for others, or abstain from taking
part in the revelling and excesses which are the pastime of so many
people in this world? l Cor .15: JO ,32:
Why am l in peril ev'ery hour!'. . . What do l gain if,
humanly speaking, l fought beasts in Ephesus? If the
dead are not raiSed, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow
we die."
The believeis faith .is not futile. God has gi ven the believer a
. .
prqmise in the form of the resurrection of Jesus that death is van-
guished. Jesus has been raised as the "first of general
resurrection. Jesus' vic tory over death in His resurrection ls {:Cod's
promise of victory Qver death at the con9ummation of the age.

, ,t
, '
" ,
-The relationship between the general' resurrection and .Jesus' i5
made c'lear with' Paul 's use of the term '''first fruits." The term im-
plies both a ,promise made by Gad nd the means by which that promise
Qill be l Cor.15:20-23 reads:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first\
fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man ---:/
came death, by a man has .cgme a180 the resurrection bf the
dead. For as 'in a11 d'ie, so also in Christ ,shall aIl
be made alive. But each in hiS,own order: Christ the
first fruits, then at his coming those who to Christ.
Adam and Christ are the archetypes which detepnineothe status of human-
kind. The assumption"is nin Adam" a1l die - the Gospel which Paul
preaches to the doubters in Corinth is that in Christ's resurrection
aIl shall "be made a1ive." Christ' s resurrection and the general
resurrection are integra11y related in Paul 's eyes. As the "first
fruits" of toe genera1 resurrection, Jesus is not only the first to
be resurrected,ll but His resurrection is also the first installment,
1 12
or "deposlt on a purchase" which God makes on beha1f of the general
resurrection. Furth,ermore, "first fruits" "implies a cornmunity of
nature." It also to the H'ebrew understanding of the signifi-
canee of "first fruits" of the harvest ta YHtm. When the
first frults of the harvest were offered up to YHWH in the Temple, the
whole harvest in a sense \vas offered up to and cthus sanctified.
As the .flf:l.r:st 'fruits" of the generaLresurrection. Jesus' resurrection
, l
" ,
Conzelmann, Corinthians, p.268,
12Kasemann, p.237, interpreting Romans 8:23.
13 l\\
RobYLson and Plummer, p.351.
14Ibid ., 'pp.351-352.
, ' ,
., 1'1-
, '
, 1.
. ,
. ".
/ ", ,
, .
_' __ .......... .....
_ _ .. __ ..... ... _...-......- __ .... .... ,., __ n r
"embodies a11 those are ta be resurrected in "Those who be-
.10ng to will be made alive ,_because they have already been
sanct1fied in His resurrection. If th Corinthians, therefore, ho1d

ta their faith in Christ as preached to them,by Paul, thE} doctrine of
the general resurrect10n shou1d in no T/Jay be a stunbling black for
their faith. The both Jesus' humanity
'at the final consummatJon, constitutes the hope of the be1ieving com-
In 1 Corinthiens 15:35, Paul anticipates questions which were
, 1/;. ...
_ whenev:r Paul first' spoke about t:he genera1 resurrction
'w;ith Gentile converts:
" But sorqeone will lsk, "How'are the dead raised? With what
kind of body do they come?"
Paul ;lnswers these questions by the community that there will
'be a miraculous transformation of the earth.1y body into the "spiritual
o ' 15
He does not expiain the mechanics of this transformation, but
uses an analogy to he1p the Corinthians become accustomed to the doc-
trine. JU&t as a "dead" seed when p1anted into the ground i5 miracu-
, '0
10u51y transformea into a ne,., living plant, the ear'thly body will also
be transformd through death. l Cor.14:44 reads:
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in pm.;er.
It is smm a physical body, is rai/ised a spiritual
, 15This may support Robinson and Plununer's tran lation
t.he 'phrase "Tr
5 .ydpOVTd.( O( Vl-K.oi; ft as a rhetorical que - n
it 'possible for the dead to be $-1hich wouJdc not require an
explanation of the resurrection process.
l6Cf . R.J. Sider, "The Pauline Conception of the Resurrection
Body in l Corinthians 15:35-54," New Testament Studies 21 (1975) pp.
. -
o' ..
--------,--------------- -'-- - .. -- ---*
body. If there is a physical body, there 15 aloso a
spiritual body.
Paul refers to difterent bodies each proper to its own
circums tances (15: 39-41,53) Spiritual body' is the body proper to
the resurrechon.
Paul does not teach the immorta1ity of the soul;
he does. draw a clear distinction between the earthlY,body and
the spiritual ohe. ' l Cor.15:50 reads:
r tell you this brethren: flesh and blood
cannot inherit
the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the
imperishab le.
This statement highlights the degree ta ;which the doctrine of the gen-
eraI' resurrection is tied in Paul's thought ta his of
salvation. The gulf t.rhich separates the earthly body from the spiritual
alsb separates people from the Kingdom of God. This separation is over-
come by God in a transformation through death (15: 36,43-44). It ls,
furthermore, a transformation accomplished through the death of .Christ:
He whose death and resurrection are the arche type for the death and
resurrection of those who live and die "in Christ" (I Cor.15:20-2l;
Rom.6:4-9). l cor.15:3.6 ard 42 reads:
What you, SOW come to life unless ft dies
. s6 it is with the resurrection of the dead. What
is sown perishable ''-
Paul evidently considers Christ" CR. 6: 8) to be the rea1
transforming death. In l Cor.1S:51, he says, "not aIl will sIeep,"
but those who don't sleep "will be changed also." At the Parousia
PRobertson and Plunuuer, p.36S; Conzelmann, Corinthians. p.281
, .-
; .
__ ........... ... .,. 'w"''' -....... .... #_

- _ ..-." ......... ... .,. ....... ......... "" ..... -
who are dead will he raised in their new bodies, wh.e those who
are alive will be transformed "in the twinkling of an eye" at the
sound last
According ta II Corinthians 5: 1-2', this new body i8 already being
, .
kept for the believer in heaven:
For we knmV' that if the earthly tent we live in 18 destroyed,
we' have a building tram God,' i. hou'se not made with hands,
ete ma] in the he Here indeed we 'groan, and long to
put on our heaven1y dwelling . 18
In the verses that fo110w Paul again refers ta the bodily transforma.-
tian he expects at the Parousia. Here he expresses his wish that he
won't "be unclothed" and "found naked," but "further clothed 50 that
what is mortal will be swallawed up by life (II Cor.5:3-4). Paul i5
referring here, with the metaphor of c1othing, to his wish that he re-
main alive until the Parousia. He wishes he will not have ta put 'off
his body in dea th, "be' unclothed" and "found naked," but "further
clothed" in the transformation of his physical body that which is mortal
. h' 1 19
t e lrnrnorta .
Questions concerning the resurrection body, and the resurrection
. in general, must have been asked in other Gentile Churches at other
times. The lack of ,any of problerns of this nature in the
l8C K. Barrett, The Second [pistle to the Corinthians, Harper's
New Testament Commentaries, ed. by H. Chadwick (New York: Harper & Row,
1973), p .152 notes that "the metaphor is hopelessly mixed; putting on
is concerned wi th clothes, we do not put on building."
19Ibid., p.l56; seeoalso t.J. Lillie, "An Approach to II Corinthians
5:1-10," Scottish Journal of Theology 30 (1977) pp.59-70. ...
" "
gospels or later epistles progably indicates ,that these ideas became
familiar and generally throughout the later Church. As Ume
passed Centiles, became more familiar with Jewish traditions.
(B) The Status of the Jews at the Parousia
This issue concerns the status of the Jews regarding the redemp .......
tion promised them by in light of their of the Messiah
and the Gospe 1. This issue i8 dis cussed here only insofar as it i8 an
apoealyptic issue, that is as it concerns God's plan for the end of
the age. In the New Testament this apocalyptic question only concerns
Paul. This may indicate either that the issue was of no interest to
others, or more probably that it was
resolved by the time most of the
New Testament was written. It is signifi cant, however, that by the
time Romans was written enough Centiles thought that the JtolS had been
rejected by God, thus forfeiting any hope of salvation, so that Paul
fe1t he must address them with this question (Ro.l1:13-25).
Paul clearly presents the- problem and his resolution of it in
Roman s 9-11. In Romans 9: 1-5 he expresses his anguish re'garding his
people and their rejection of the Gospel:
1 have a great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my
l, heart. For l could wish that l myself were accursed and
eut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kins-
men by race. They are Israeli tes, and to them belong the
sonship, the glory, the covenan ts, 0 the gi ving of th!? law,
the \\Torship, artd the' promises; to them belong the pat-
riarchs, and of their race aceording to the flesh, ls the
1 '
( -
Israel is the people to whom God has prom'ised redemption. How cou1d
they have rejected the salvation offered them through Christ? What
does ttis mean in the context of God's redemptive plan? Has He re-
jected Israel, and taken back His -word to the Patriarchs? What of
" "?20
l.S promlse.
Paul tackles this issue by first and foremost God's
perogative .as creat-or, His freedom to act. This is clearly stated in
Ro.9: 18:
Sa then He has mercy upon whomever He wills, and He hardens
the heart of whomever He wills" 0
Paul's argument in Romans 9-11 presupposes belief in the existence of
a divine plan. Paul invisions a "salvation history. ,,21 By establish-
ing Gad as creator, with "free will," Paul establishes God's "right"
" "22
to 1S creatl.on. He can create ex nihifo, something where there
previously \"as nothing;23 His perogative to act includes His ability
to create history according to His own purposes. 24 Paul' s understand-
ing of predestination consists of the belief that God can and does act
Ro.9:6,l4, Il:1,11.
21Cf. Kasemann, pp.264-266,273ff.
22Ibid., p.266.
f. Ro.9:25-26.
f. C.E'.B. Cranfield,
the Epistle to the Romans, 2
ed. bY,J.A. Emerton & C.E.B.
A Critical and Exegetica1 Commentary on
Vol., The International Critical Commentary,
Cranfie1d (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1981)
, i
" ,

as the creator, not only of humanity, but of history. ,His doctrine of
predestination is to be understood in the light of God' s etemal pur-
poses for His creation, purposes which embody God 's right', to act so-
teriologically.25 God acts tvith the freedom of msrcy. 26
Paul understands bath Israel' 5 rejection of the Gospel and his
.CMn "Gentile mission in terms of God's ,plan. Israel '5 trespass has a
origin. Romans Il:11-15
So l ask, have they (Israel) stumbled 50 as ta fall? By
no means! But through their trespass salvation has come
to the Gentiles, sa as to make Israel jealous. No\-' if
their trespass means riches for the Gent!.les, hmv much
more will their full inclusion mean!
Now l am speaking to you Centiles. lnasmuch then as l
am an Apostle to the Gentiles, l magnify my ministry in
arder to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save sorne
of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation
of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life
from the dead?
Israel's "trespass" has enabled the salvation of the Gentiles. The
divine purpose of this action is highlighted with Paul 's use of the
phrase "ta make Israel jealous." It ts a reference ta Deuteronomy
32:21, which Paul has quoted to the Romans in 10:19.
Paui uses Dt.
32:21 ta set,both his Gentile mission and the rejection of Israel into
>- the context of Old Testament prophecy. As such Israel 's "trespass"

-:; 1 f' d . 28
is presented as part of God' s p an or lts re emptl0n.
/ ,
The n-otion of "jealousy" expressed in this passage is perhaps
26Cranfiefd, pp.472,484.
27 Ibid., p.556.
28See Dt.32:36ff.
, j


best understood in the context of the apocalyptic notion "the first
shaH be and the last first," the apocalyptic reversaI of the
"The fi rst" in tl10rldly righteousnJ:!ss, is "the last" ta be
justified. The Gentile mission is both, that which precedes the full
.redemption of Israel and that which enables this. be accomplished

(" t he .last," the Gentiles, must first. be justified). S,ince Paul's
.. apocalyptic hope, the redemption of Israel, now means the redemption
of I!he nations, Paul can interpret this conversely to' mean that
is redeemed God redeems the nations. .As such God's
purposes are being re;:;'lized in the Gentile (hence Paul mag-
nifies it) . as well as in Israe1's rejection of the Christ which lead
to that mission. This is the apocalyptic turning of the tables.
Isra!1 is, therefore, still the object of God' s redemptive actiyi ty
even in its "trespass;" its redemptian, hml1ever, means. that the re-
demption of the nations must first be accomplished.
, The .significance af the phrase "lHe from the dead" in Ro.ll:15
is that i,t highlights the purpose of t\e whole passage: the redemption
of Israel i8 the last stage, .the zenith, of; God's plan of reconciliation
ee ascmann" p. .
f. Ro.lI: 25.
It is a.lsa ta be noted that the them" in Ro.ll:
14, refers speci fically to those Jews who have been redeemed as a re-
suIt of the Apas tles' work. I t does not refer ta the fact that those
JeW8 who will eventually be redeemed will only be few in number. Cf.
Cranfield, p.559. In Ro.ll: 13-14, Paul i8 placing his ministry, which
involves 'the saving "of sorne of them," inta the con,text of the greater
di vine plan which encompasses the whole history of Israel, the wark of
a11 the Apostles, and the future redemption awaiting "aIl Israel" at
the cansummation of the age.



for the world. The phrase refers to the resurrection of the dead on
the Day of the Lord.
In 11:25-26, Paul brings his argument to a climax, and ex-
plains that is happening to Israel is to be understood "as' a mys-
tery" revealed in terms of God's redemptive
Lest you be wise in your own concei ts, l want you ta un-
derstand this rnystery, hrethren: a hardening has ,come
upon part of Israel, the full number of Gentiles .
come in, and sa a11 Israel will be saved (1(0/( o'VTc.JS
OrJGtl CfE.TA\); as, it is written, "The deliverer
will come from 'Zion, he will, banish ungodliness from
Jacob. ."
For Paul, Israel's rejection of the Gospel, its "hardening," i5 part
of God's purpose. As such, it also is divinely limited; it will last
only until the "full numher of Gentiles come in," Cranfield argues:
While Israel' s unhelief was something plain for aIl to see
and not needing ta he revealed, the fact that a di vine
hardening was involved was something which could .properly
come under the heading of JI U(1"T.1p'(Jv. It could not he
known by unaided 'human reason. 32
When the full number of Gentiles ar brought into the community of the
people Israel, then the hardening wMch enahled this inclusion will
end. Then Cod's promises \.;i11 have been fulfilled; His people Israel
will be delivered from "aIl ungo-dliness." For Paul, the mystery of
31See p. 307; Cranfield, p, 563.
Even though according ta Kasemann, the majority of
scholars today interpret the phrase figuratively, both he and Cranfield,
p.563, agree that it is tu he interpreted in'light of Ro.ll:25.
Genti le Christians, tao, must take into
esehatological significance of Israel.
c1ear in \.,hat follows (11: 17-24), which
32 >
Cranfield, p.57S.
account the
This is made
is not paren-
.. (
" .
Israel's disobedience is resolved with his conviction that at the con-

summation of the age, with the reconciliation of the world "all Israel
wil]" be saved." ,
Paul does not resolve' this issue as did the Gentile Church at a
later time: to say that the Church replaces Israel as the people of
God, "a new Israel." In eyes, the Gentiles are brought into
the community ,of Israel, Wild branches" grafted on
tree" (Ro.ll:17-24). "hardening" is not a
ta a domestic "olive
sign of God's re-
jection, but it is to be understood in tenns of the "mystery" of God' s
activity. For Paul, even Israel's rejection of Christ is a sign of
God' s love for Israel, because it is through this rejection that both
Israel and the nations are redeemed. It is through Jesus, crucified
and resurrected, that God has begun and will accomplish His work of re-
2. Problems Caused by ,Traditibns lnherited from the Primitive' Com-
. munit y
The gospels preserve traditions which reflect a variety of cir-
cums tances . It is evident rhat sorne traditions from 'earlier periods
..., ""1
causea in later times. These issues will be discussed
, .
under. subject headings: (A) The resolution of difficulties caused
,33See p.261; Cranfield, p.448 .
Hk;8:3l with 10:45; Jn.lO:18; Rev.5:9.

4, .'
by traditions which delimit the time of the Parousia to the lifetime
of the first generation; (B) Apoca1yptic traqitions reflected or pre-
served in the synoptic eschato-lO-gical discourse. The latter includes
a composite of traditions about the Temple and the "signs,': of the end
which were inherited by the gospel writers.
() The Resolution of Difficulties Caused by Traditions Which Delimit
the Time of the Parousia to the Lifetime of the First Generation
The earlies t Chris tians expected the Parousia to occur in their
own lifetime. The gospels preserve some sayings reflect this
These sayings are presenteq as '\.rord of Jesus" which
herdltl the coming of the Kingdom of God before the .death' of sorne in
the first generation. Mark 9:1 (and par.) liS possibly
It here with its of such a saying.
the best example.
parallel in
And he said to them, "Truly l say to you, There are sorne
standin here who will not taste death untl1 the see the
Kingdom of God corne in power. 1 ICn'IITittS icrT'IJ{oT",v
" ," ",Ir .,..., l
01 "lItS 011 ,'47 YtUO'cJVIcIC( 901. Vd..lotJ tt.J5 eN loWCflV '?V Pd>,t1'II\L,c(V To(j
8cc> O\7v9vit1.v i:v cfuvt<j4t'.)
35 '
Mk.9:1, 13:30, Mt.lO:23, and their parallels.
36The underlined phrase follows the Authorized Version and The
Jerusalem Bible; ft dif fers from the RSV.
The precise meaning, and therefore the translation of this verSe
has been the subject of much debate; see KUmmel, Promise
Dodd, Parables, p.53, prefers "unti1 they have seen that the Kingdom
of God has come with power," and 50 too the RSV. The tram:ilation used
above ls supporte? by Branscomb, p.l54; Taylor, p.385; Kmmel, p.26-27;
l-fatthew 16:28:
Truly, l say ta you, there are sorne standing here who will
not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in
his Kingdom.
There is a consensus among scholars that 'Mk..9: l \vas an iso1ated
saying before it was included into the gospels. The original setting
.is therefore obscure. Whether Mark 9:1 is an authentic saying of
38 39
Jesus, or stems from early Christian prophets, or is \ another kind
of creation originating with the primitive community,40 this saying,
and others like it still represent the belief of the earliest Chris-
tians. If this were not the case, there would be no reason for the
evangelists to inc1ude such sayings in gospels which were meant to be
E. Nardoni, "A Redactional Interpretation of Mark 9: l," The Catholic
- 8th lieR 1 Quarterly 43 (1981) p. 370; D. E. Nineham, Saint Mark, West-
> minster Pelican Commentaries, ed./ by D. E. Nineham, (Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, 1963) p.23l. Nineham, p.232, as well as Kmmel,
p.27 point out that Matth.ew 16:28 interprets the saying in terms of
the future appearance of the Lord.
37 Nd' 366
See ar on1, p. .
. W Manson, The Teaching of Jesus, (Camblridge: University Press,
1931) pp.278-283; R.H. Fuller, The Nission and Achievement of Jesus,
Studies in Biblical Theo1ogy 12, (London: SCl-l Press, 1954) pp.27-28;
Kmmel, Promise, pp.25-28; Jeremias, Theology, pp.135-137; N. Perrin,
Kingdom, p .137.
. S. Crawford, "I\ear Expectation in' the Sayings of Jesus,"
Journal of B1blical Literature 101 (1982) pp.225-244.
40Bultmann, History, p.121; Conzelmann, Theo1ogy, p.104j Nardoni,
p.368-370j N. Perrin, in "The Composition of Mark 9:1," Novum Testa-
mentum 11 (1969) pp.67-70, changes his previous opinion, see n. 35,
and argues that Hk.9:1 is a creation of the evangelist. Harx&.en, p.205,
states na consensus will probably never be reached here." ~
read by second, third or later, generation Christians. 41
The delay of the Parousia meant that these-sayings had to h'e
interpreted to suit the circumstances of the evange1ists; they had to
be able to account for the delay. The third evange1ist altered the
form of his version of the saying (Lk.9:27). He drops-the words
li (come in power) allowing for a reinterpreta-
tian of the sayingj the emphasis now is on "seeing the Kingdom of
Gad" rather than on its coming in power.
The context in which the saying is placed by the evange1ists may
possibly reflect how this saying was used by the Church in their time.
Regardless of its original purpose, the saying is used, positively by
the evangelists. Though they had to reinterpret the saying to account
for the delay, the saying was a1so used by them to help the
community' s faith in the Parousia. The context of MarK 9: 1 reflects
the fact that the saying may have c,!used difficulties, how these dif-
ficul ties were res oIved, and the posi ti ve use to which this saying was
By A.D. ;3,43 the death of some of the first disciples, the fa1l
of Jerusalem along with the l'lon.-;occurrence of the the
If these sayings had gained dominical status by the time of "the
evangelists, their content must have been believed true at sorne earlier
time. Had the primitive community net entertained such beliefs, the
evangelists, writing between 70 and 100 A. D., would have inc1uded these
sayings at a great risk to their credibility'.
42See Conzelmann, Theology pp.103-l04; Cf. B.H. Streeter,
Four' Gospels, (Nel.' York: Nacmil1an Co. 1925) p.520, argues that the
evangelist interprets the "Kingdom of God" as the Church.
4jA tentative date for' the writing of Mark; see p. 99, n. 78.
f (
. ..
dispersion of the Mother Church, and continued persecution among other
f t t
. b t d db" d' h P . 44 Sil
ac ors, con n. u e to ou t regar 1ng t e arOUS1a. orne say ngs
, of Jesus were probably also cause for doubt. This is evident from the
condemnation which directly precedes, Mk.9:1, Mk.8:38:
For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulter-
ous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Han be
ashamed, \l1hen he cornes in the glory of his Father wi th the
Holy Angels.
Mark 9:1 together witl1 t h ~ account of the transfiguration which follows
(Mk.9:'2-13) addresses this "shame" or doubt the coming of the
A relationship bet\veen Mk. 9: 1 and the account" of the transfigura-
tion has b e e I ~ seen at -least as early as .. the end of the second cen.turyl
in Clement of Alexandria' s Excerpta ex Theodoto. Regarding t h . ~ purpose
of the Transfiguration chapter 4: 3 reads:
And besides, it was necessary that that word also which the
Saviour spoke should be fulfilled, "There are sorne of these
standing here who will not taste death until they see the
Son of Han in glory." Therefore, Peter, and James and John
saw and fell asleep. 46
p.94 below.
45The sarne order of verses is found in Mat thew and Luke.
46Trans1ation by R.F. Casey, The 'Excerpta ex Theodoto' .rf Clement
of Alexandria, St udies and Documents Vol. l ed. by K. Lake .& S. Lake
(London: Christophers, 1'934) p.43.
Jerome, The Romilies of St. Jerome vol. 2, tr. by Sister Narie
Liguori Ewald, The Fathers of the Church Series vol. 57, ed. by J.
Deferrari et. al. (lvashington: The Catholic University of America
Press, 1966), p.161, also argues for a relationship:
(In reference to Mk. 9: 1) t.]bat He is actual1y saying
15 that they sha11 not die before they have seen
-. ,

Furthermore, the author of II Peter sees a relationship bet,,,een the
transfiguratioo and the promise of the Parousia (II Pet.l:16-21).
In more reeent times many s eholars have also seen a re1ationship be-
tween Mk.9: 1 and the transfiguration,. and th us bet\-leen th trans-
figuration and the of the Parousia inherent in Mk..9: 1.
The evangelist has reinterpreted Mark 9,: 1 sueh that the trans-
figuration account is the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Par-
ousia will be verified by Apostolie witness. His purpose in doing
so 1s not jus t to "explain away" a "hard" say{ng of Jesus" but ta
bols ter fai th in the The transfiguration aceount is not
meant as a fulfillment of the phrase "the Kingdom of Gad coming in
power." Rather, it .i's meant as a referenee to the Apostolic witness
of the glory ta come. The believer is th US assured that the Parousia
is certain. The> account of the transfiguration complements Mari. 9:1.
Him ru1ing as King. (In reference to the trans-
figuration) they say, is lZhrist ruling; ..
\ When they saw Him transfigured upon the mounta!n they
saw him in the glory that wou1d be His. This, there-
fore, is the meaning behind the words: They shall not
taste death, until they have seen the Kingdom of
God - whi ch came to pass six clays later.
47See p. 91
1 48GH St. Nark and the Transfiguration Story, (Edin-
burgh: T. & T. Clark, 1942), p.20ft. argues that "the transfiguration
prophesies the Parousia;"'see also Taylor, p.385; Nineham, p.23'2;
Nardoni, p.367; T.J. Weeden, Mark - Traditions in Conflict (Phila-
delphia: Fortress Press, 1971) p.119; F.R. McCur1ey, "'And After Six.
Dayso' (Mark 9: 2): A Semitic Literary Deviee," Journal of Bibcal
Uterature 93 (1974) Against any relationship see Bultmann,
HistoEY, p. 260; Conze1mann, Theology, pp. 56-57.
This is n ecc1e"i013gical resolution of the problem. It teaches
that the vision of glory tQ. come ,is preserved in the witness of th!,!
Church. Sayings '"hich refer to a Parousia delimited to the first gen-
eration are thus reinterpreted to mean that the first generation, here
the pil1ar Apost1es, ber witness to the reality of the coming Parousia .
me ecc1esiological setting, for this saying and for Apostolic witness,
is emphasized in the Matthean context of the passages in question ....
Peter's confession (Mt.16:16) and the subsequent sayings which pro-
the foundation stone of the Church (Mt.16:16-20) serve as
,a prelude to the teaching on disci,1eship (16: 24) and suffering (16: 25-
27), and also the of future g10ry (16: 28-17: 13) .49 '.
l "
This kind of reinterpretation ls probably behind the use of
Mark 13:30:
, r
Tru1y, l say to JOU, this generation not away
before CflJ.Xfls ob ) aIl these things take place.
An is01ated saying,50 has been used by the evangelist to serve a specifie
purpose in the eschato10gica1 discourse.
, P
Mark 13: 28-32, addresses the
evangelist's community, or situation. There i5 doubt regarding the.Par-
ousia. His purpose is to establish its certainty. This saying is used
to ground the belief in the Parousia of his genration in the witness '
Bornkamm, p. 42, argues "The conception of the Church expressed
in (Mt.) 16:17-19 finds its counterpart ap.d basis in the Christo1ogy
and context of 16:13-28." This context probably extends unti1 17:13.
50KIDme1, Promise p.60; Bultmann, History p.123; Branscomb, p.239.
1 '
, ,
, !

r ('
Il 90
.. "
51' '
of the Apostolic generation. "This generation," represented by the
pillar Apostles of 13:4, bear witness to the fulfillment of "aH these
, .
(\ things" mentioned in 13: 5-27, and therefore also to the Parousia (l)'!
24-27). - The "signs" have been fulfilled; only the Parousia is still
Certainty 1s provided in the fact- that ,lI t his generation,"
the finit $eneration, 1s witness to the fulfillment of aIl the "signs"
of the;' Lord r s 'coming. The next: saying, Mk.13: 31, resolves
doubt in
the Ma.rcan community resulting from the death of certain members of
the Apostolic generation: "Heaven and earth will pass ,away but my
words will 'not pass ,away." These "words," which promise the Church
the Parousia, though "heaven/' "earth," and the Apostolic generation,
9"pass away," are valid assurance that the Lord coming. 'Nark
13: 32, which follows, the delimiting features of 13: 30 by ."
leaving open the exact::' time of the Parousia.
The early Church used these difficult sayings inherited ft;'m the
primitive cOTIUnllnity to teach 1ater generations that their hope for the
If .. ..
" "
Parousia grounded in the Apostolic witness of the glory to come.
. ,
, '
The later datings of the synoptic gospels .is significant in this regard.
Many of the first generation had probably died, including
members of the Apostolic cornmunity. If these sa'N:!Jgs were still being
interpreted as they were in the primitive community, they would have
51This daes nat prec1ude the possible presence of sorne members
of the first generation among the Marcan community.
52See. pp. 96-100 belm.,.
, 1
catised more doubt in the Parousia than fal.t:h. ) ,
Indeed, by the end of the first century Sorne did question the
ty of the Parousia because they be1ieved that sorne of ,the tra-
ditions handed on to them from the primitive cornmunity in error.
l Clement 23: 3f. reads:
Wret;ched are double-minded, who doubt 'in their sou1
and say "He have heard these things even in the days of
our fathers, and behold we have grown old, and none of
these things have happened to us." Truly his will
shall be quickly and 5uddenly accomp1ished, as Scripture
aI50 bears wi tness that "he shall come quickly and shall
not tarry .
.. , , \.
.... J
This is also the kind of si tution to which the author of II pe;.ter ad-
dresses his epistle; it i5 a community marked by his "p,rophecy" in
3: 3-4:
. i
scoffers will come in the 1ast days..
"h'here ".s the promise coming? For ever since \"
the fathers fell asleep, aIl things have continued as
they were from the beginning of creation."
The author previously in .the letter\ has defended
tion of. the Parousia by readers to
the Church 1 S expecta-
the wi tness ef the
. 55
guratlon. Early in the second the author of II
Peter understands the witness of the transfiguration to be an assurance
53Translated by K. Lake, The Aposto'lic Fathers 2 Vols . The Loeb
ClassicalLibrary, ed. byT.E. PagE! et. aL, (Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1952) 1 vol. p.51.
J.N .D. K1ly, A COIIlI'lentary on the Epist1es of Peter and of
Jude, Black's Ne\.,., Testament Commentaries, ed. by H. (London:
Adam & Charles Black, 1969) pp.355-357.
55See J .H. "The Apo1ogetic use of the Transfiguration in
II Peer 1:16-21," The Catholic Biblica1 Quarterly 42 (1980) pp.504-S19.
of the Parousia. Like the evangelists he has tied togethei
the the promise of the Parousia. Ir Petdr 1: 16-18
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when t.Te made the power and coming of our Lord Jesus hrist,
we eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he re-
cei ved. honor and ,glory from God the Father and the voice
was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is rny be-
loved son, with whom r am weIl pleased," we hea'rd this
voice borne from heaven, for we were with him On the holy
The community, howevr, resolved problems caused by these
difficult sayings much from t;J1at outlined above. In John
21:20-23, the death of the last mernber of the Apostolic generation prob-
ably "caused .a crisis in the Parousia expectation of the Church. l,56
The Fou1;"th evangelist resolves the problem by effectively arguing that
the Church has misunderstood sayings like the one recounted in, Jn.21:20.
John 21:22-23 reads:
Jesus said ta him, "rf it is my; will that he r,emain unti1
l come, \.hat is that to you? Follow me!" The saying
went out among the brethren that this disciple was not to
die; 1et Jesus did not say ta him that he \vas not to die,
but, "If it is my wiLL that he ,remain until l come, what
is that to you?"
R.E. Brmm, The Gospel According ,to John 2. Vols., The Anchor
Bible, ed. by W.F. Albright et. al. (New York:' Double, Day, 1970) p.1118.
(H) Apoca1yptic T,radi tions Reflected or Preserved in the Synoptic
Eschatologica1 -
There is genera1 agreement among today t;hat the synoptic
eschatologica1 discourse is a Compos1te of different traditions.
Matthew 24 and Luke 21 :,5-38 are thought ta be dependant to sorne
on Mark 13.
Mark 13 may'not hm"ever'have ori-ginall,y been a
" . nH but.' has, been by the evangelist. These traditions

f. Hill, p.318 regarding Matthew, and Conze1mann,.
p.12lf. regarding Luke.
See Taylor, p.498f,.; Beas1ey-Murray, Mark 1,3, pp.1-18;
pp. 72-73; Marxen, p.16t;' Bultmann, History, p.122; Jeremias, Tt\eology.,
123-127; L. Gaston, No Stone On Another, Supplements to Novum ,Testa-
rnturn 23, ed. by W.C. Van Unnik et. al. (Leiden: E.J. Bri1l, lnO)
pp.61-64; Kmmel,'Promise, p.104.
Scholars differ on questions regarding the sources used by the
evangelist for the construction of this chapter. Hany have be1ieved
that a Jet,;ish Apocalypse lies behind much of tpe discourse. BeasIey-
Murray's extensive study on the history of the exegesis of Mark 13,
Jesus and the Futm;e, (,London: }!acmi11an & Co., 01954) points out the
assumptions benind this theory and its weaknesses; as is shown,in pp.
. 33ft. a1most every verse in the discourse has been considered eithr
part of the so-called Jet"ish apocalypse, or 'part of the Christian
additions. Variants of this- theot'y, hot"ever, persist unti1 today: e. g.
Knunel, Promise, pp.94-l04; Weeden,'p.90f-. Still many other theories
have been put forward in recent times: Beasley-Murray, Hark 13, pp.lO-
18, upholds the view that the discourse was bjuilt upon teaching which
originated with Jesus; pp.4l-64, argues that the evangelist
compiled the chapter out of sayings of the Risen Lord; and L. Hartmann,
Prophecy. Interpreted, tr. by N. Tompkinson, Coniectanea Biblica: New
Testament Series 1 (Lund: CWK G1eerup, 1966) believes discourse is the
remnant of a "Dahiel Midrash" spoken by Jesus of Nazar;eth.
This s tudy, proceeding under the assumption tha t the': discourse
1 in its present form was compiled hi the evangelis t,. ;inquii'n' )
, his purpose, and the function of the discourse as teaching iMhe - ,
Church at his time. The prcesentation of the traditions \"hicQ consti-
tute Mark 13 as a discourse of Jesus, prec1udes the possibi1i ty that
Hark 13 was considered strange or abhorrent on the 1ips of Jesus by
the Marcan communi ty. \fuether these' traditions ori gnate wi th Jes\us,
the primitive community, or a they are used y
the evangelist as Christian addressing issues of importance
for,his community.

'b'een brought in the gospel for specifie
purposes relevant te
the eircumstances of evangelist's eommunity.59 The purpose of the
diseourse ts ta the Parousia by ground-
ing its -expeetatiQn in fulfilled prqpheey.
'J,;he- conclusion of discourse, l-lk.13:28-37, ,reflects the situa-
tion O'f the Marcan community, a comrnunity whieh en tertains sorne doubt
fI.,... /
regarding the Parousia. 60 The' to ,t'wa tchfulness" are' ad-
'dressed .to moral 'lax:lty ,.,ithin the Chureh,61 Mlc13:32' addresses ques- ,'L
tions regarding the tirne of the parolisia,62 while 13: 30 addresss the

-'" 63 "
source of sorne of these doubts. The rest of the builds up J'
.. '
to these verses; they constitute the, exhortative portion. of the evan-
gelist's teaching. Mark 13:1-27 provides the basis for this
The eschatolog'ical discourse is presente'd by th.e evang:'list aS "a
response 'ta a questipn put ta Jesus by Sorne discip les.
Mark 13:1-4
And as he came out of ehe Temple.., one of his disciples
said to him, "Look " Teacher, what wonderful stones and
what wondcrful buildings!" And Jesus said ta him', "Do
you see these great buildings? There will not be left
here one stone upon another, that" will not be thrown
down. "
And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the
temple, Peter and James and John and Andre,., asked him

Narxen, pp .166-189 ; Heeden, pp.73-l00.
S ee Heeden, p. 89f., especially n. '34.
S ee pp.6L-63 above.
pp. 61-62 , See
See pp.89-90 above.

"" \
, ,
, .
privately "Tell us when wil-l this be., apd what will be
the sign when 'these things" are aIl' to be acclmplished?'''
, t>4
A prophecy about the dest;.ruction of the Temple is f"ollowed not only
by 'a 'l.uestion ;-egarding the time, but aIso' with" a reCJ.uest for a sign
\vhen "thes things" are to be
,.' ''
The eschatologica1 as a concerns Parousia and
, h h' h d' . 65 d' h '" . j f h d i f
t e events W:LC e lt, an not t e 0 t e estruct on 0 0
the Temple. The phrase "17;YE. hliil< l.(fTCI(( ", (when will this be) 'refers

back to the prediction of the destruction of the Since the
,evangelist has compiled tr<;tditions \vh; conc(i!rn the Parousia as the
. .
answe):' to the discip'Ies' question aBout the truction of the Temple,
a relationship between the Parousia and the destruction of the Temple
is presupposed by the Furthermore, th-e association of the
destruction of the Temple and tlle Parousia must also have Ibeen
64 .
There i8 a consensus \)1hich holds that 2 i5 not a prophecy
"after the fact;" see History, p.399; also Beasley-Murray, fi
Mark 13, p.24; RInmel, Promise, p.IOO; Taylor, p.50l.
, There is alpo agreement that this saying is probab!Y'an -authentic
sayiI}g Jesus; Bultmann, History, pp.'120"':121,399; Kmml, Promise,
p.lOO;. Beasley-Murray, Mark 13, p.22; Gaston, p.16lf., holds that it '
doesn' t stern from Jesus but early in the Christian prophetic\)traditiot;l.
" l P' 98
. umme, p. .
{d. , 99 100
... pp. -
, '
67 -
Gaston, pp.63-64, correctly observes that Othis is probably the
'unique, and Hmos t important" contribution of the evangelist to the
, "
. ,
1 \
(/// .
, "
". .
pr supposed by the original readers -of the gospel.,
,,," ,
!'I . 0 "-
trhe' iscourse would make little sense. Why wouldl!sayings' concerning
/ or the end-time constitute an answer ta a q..uestion regarding

the .time of the destruction of the Temple?
The presupposition that ,the Parousia and :the d'estruction tcM the
Temple are related underlies the pro'blem 'faced by the evangeilst as a
teacher in h-is community. The di:ffic'ulty to he addresses his
. ... Il
discourse will be"made cleai" after a brief sket,ch of Mark 13.
l) H
Jesus' predicts the destruction of the Tempie. This is followed
by a question regarding its time, along with a for a sign .
. .
The main body of the 1 discourse i'5 made up' of sayings and warnings con-
cerning the events which are to pre"cede the Parousia. These sayings
all recall and' which are' known to have occu rred in
'.; the years leading up to and including the Jewish war of A.D," 66-70,
Nark 13: 5-6 and 13: 21-22, recall the me::sianic pretenders and
. 70
uprisngs which \olere inci ted in Palestine between 50 and 70 A. D.
Historical, occurrences rnay a'lso lie behind the traditions cast 'in
apocalyptic l'anguage in Mk.13:7-8.
Taylor notes that these verses
'68C.aston, pp. 457-468. also argues tJ:1at the primitive' community ex-
pected the Parousia with the fall of Jerusalem. Since he dates Mark be-
fore. 70, believes the evangelist shares this conviction. It
Will be argued below that thfl' evangelist knmols o.f this but
'1rriting after 70, he addressed Mk.13 ta the-disappointment caused by
its failure to o'ccur.
69See Branscornb, p.23lf.; Weeden, pp.90-97; Narxen, pp.17l-173
. .
70 \ ' S .
See p.8. n. 6 above; also Mar:llfn, p.17l.
71 l'or
Taylor, Cf. Weeden, p.92;'H.B. Swete, The Gospel Accord-
ing ta St. Mark, (London: Nacmillan & Co., 3rd ed. 1927) pp.298-299.



refer to:
Current historical eventE .. may be in mind: risings in
Pa1est:ltne, Pa:t;'thian invasion, the .famine in the time
of Claudius (Aets Il:28), the earthquakes at Laodicea
(A.D.61) and Pompe
/ .
Mrk 13:9-13 vividly recall the experiences of the primitive eommunity.
The events assoeiated \., the faH of Jerusalem are recal1ed in Mk.

13: 1,4-23.
'these events, which were ta precede the end (Mk.
the evangelist presents his readers with a propheGY of the
coming of the Son of Han on ,the Day of YHWH, in Mk.13:'Z4- Parousia, the
"This is the of the discourse. " There is no vision or
0; a Templ'e being d
stroyed in this "passage. 75 This
is not one would expect from a discourse whicp. sets. out to au.swer \
.- a question about "When" "the stones" of the Temple are ta be "thrown
B l H' 122 K" 1 TI' 100 M
'<il:' u tmann, lstOry, p. ; umme, romlse, p. ; arxen,
p.17lf.; Gaston, p.l7f. J
73 .,
See Gast,on, pp.Z3-29; H. Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kin.gdom,
tr. by H _ de Jongste, ed. by R. O. Zorn (Philadelphia: The Presby-'terian
and Reformed P'ub"lishing 'Company, 1962), pp.488-497; lv.L. Lane, The
Gospel According to St. Mark, The New InterI?-ational Commentary, ed.
F.F. Bruce (Grand Rapids: 'Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1974), p.466f.
, .
74see Kmmel,- Promise, pp . 102-l03; Gaston, pp.3l-35; Lane, pp.474-
477; Harxen, pp.184, 187; Heeden, p.9lf. See L. Hartmann, Prophecy,
pp .156-157, for s tudy on the dependence of Mk .13': 24-Z8 on the language
and imagery of Jewish literature' on the Day of
75 0 , ' ,,-.
, Against E. P. Gould, A Critiea1 and Exegetfcal tary on the
Gpspel According to St. Hark. International Critiea! Commentary, ed.
by Drive: et. aL (Edinburgh: T. & Clark, 191Z), pp.24l, 249-
253, who argues t:qat the is des ribing the fall of .. Jerusalem
and the destruction of the Temple figu atively; see also Gaston, p.484f.
for sijllilar conclusion regarding Mat;: ,e\v' 24:29-31.
\ .

to a request for a \'sign" when "these things"

dmm," an,d "to resPRnd
. , \j
"are aIl to be accomplished.!' Inste'ad, 'the reader ig presented wi\h
a vivid of the Son of Man coming in glory to gather His
elect trom the four winds.
,We must look for a refe;renoe t> ..t:he destruction of the Temple
elsewhere in the discourse. As is 13tated above, the' traditi'ons f.sutnd,
.fn Mk.13: 14-23 events associated wi th the fall of JerLsalem.
They recall the horrorS' felt those who had k ordr ta es-
o cape the destruction of the- city. ' as\ there not being enough
. \
time to gt one's oat a lament for
or a prayer that tribulation not happen in winter 18) aIl h'ave
the teno.r' of an actual ciisis, '\.,ar-time conditions," and not
. ". 76
. ap<?ca1yp tic horrors. The Jewish \.J'ar did indeed culminate in bath the
destruction of tbe Temple and in 70 A.D. Inasmuch as the
Il" '
sayings in Mk.13: 14-23 reflect this period, they consti tute part of 'the
evangelist's inheritance from the Jerusa1em Church. They are traditions
inherited from those who have experienced period of tribulation.
, The of the Temple i's the referent of th enigmatic phrase
'!/o, pbl. . u YfCi.. 7ip in Mk.13:
when you see the abomination' of desolation 77
T1j.s if714t..JfJ'.GJ5) standing where it ought not
, 1
76See Taylor, pp.513-514; Heeden, p.92; 'against Hartmann,
pp .151-154, who believes that these verses are eschatological
based.on Lof' s flight from 1
<77 ,
The underlined phrase follows the Authorized Version which di,.,f-
fers from the RSV reading: "the desolating' sacrilegl!!." The AV better
emphasizes the desolation which is an abomination, ,S opP,osed to an
abomination which makes things deso1ate. tfuen &f..71't.JtrE:.4Jj' is read
as a genitive of content, Nk..13:14a implies the tulhllment of Dan.ll:
3\ rather than peing a restatement of the propbecy. .
- \
, . ..".
, 0
'ta be (let the reader understand), then let:" thse, in
Judea flee to the mountains 78.
The addressed by MM"k 13 now becomes clear. The Temple
been destroyed, the Mother Church dispersed, and still the Parousia
not occ ured. Has .something

gone wrong wi th the plan?
The task of the evangelist is twofold. He must reassure his com-
munit y, which probably some members of the dispersed Jerusa.lem
Chu,rch/ that their traditions concerning the end-time and so also their

of the Parousia are still valida Nothing ohas gone wrong
. .
'with the p).an. He must als'o stress the certainty of the Parousia in
the face of its non-occurrenc"e when ekpected. The association of'the
destruction of the Temple tlnd the Parousia was part of the expectation
inl' by the Marcan' c.ommuni ty.
, Most of the debate on the date of this gospel hinges on the in-
terpretation of' this verse: see ,Beasley-Hurray, Futur'e. Does the verse
refer to an apocalypti.c prophecy of a desecration of the, Temple? If so
the ,gospel can dated befpr!" A. D. 70. Does it refE\!p. the destruction
of the Teml1e? If 50, .it ls to be dated,after A.D.70. The
aSked bY,those who at:gue the former is "\.Jhy hasp't,the evang:e1ist been
more specifie if h is indeel. referring to the destruetio\1 of the Tem-
ple?" If it is argued tI;at Mark was written before A.D.70, it is gen-
era11y agreed to have been written only, a fet., years before; s"ee Taylor,
p.3l. Indeed, mQst commentators who date Harl< before 70 interpret Mark
13 as being written fot: those t.,ho must' flee Jeru,sa1em; see Har:fen, pp.
181-183; Lane, p.467f'.; Gould, p.247. Gi-ven the association of "the ,
destruction 0f the Temple with the Parousia, sinee ,the f.a11 of the
ty was imminent. why would any one wri te a gospel? wou1d read i t,
and hm., \-lOu1d it be circu1ated amidst 'a11 the confus'ion of the end? Cf.
G. Rohde,' Rediscovering tne 'Teaching of the Evangelists, .tr. by D.M.
Barton, The Net., Librar'y, ed. by A. et. al. (London:
SeM Press, 1968)' p.139, especially n. 53. A dhe after 70 is more prob-
able, both in viet., of the interpretation of. 13: 14 and ts' place in the
discourse put forth be1m", and becatise the eyangelist fe1t fhere might
be enough time before th' end for a gospel ta be useful.
( ,
, ,
The evange1ist reso1ves this prob lem with his use of the community' s
inherited traditions, that is he compiles Mark 13. The events which
occurred before the Jewish Har are presented as the IIbirthpangs" of the
Messianic age. Though the efPected the end to come when they
had experienced the "signs" manifest before the Har, the,evangelist re-

minds the community in 13:-7-8 that the end did not come at that time
as sorne may have expected. The persecution of the Church, reca11ed in
13: 9-p, which was expected before the end would come is a1so in1uded
in the period of the "birthpangs." He tells the community i.n \vhat
follows, 13: 14-23, that the awai ted "Messianic Hoes" expected at the
dawn of the Messianic age were realized during
Jewish Har (13: 19-20). The significance of 13: 14 is brough t out in
this context. The of the verse, and th us its purpose, is
not to calI attention ta the of the Temple as such. r.hat
fact was only aIl too real in the decade after 70 A. D. Mk.13': 14 ca1ls
at tention to the destruction of the Temple as the fulfillment of
prophecy. The writer of Matthe\" correctly interprets the reference ta
Daniel in the phrase "the abomination, of desolation" (Mt.24: 15).
More importantly, 13: 14f. cons t i tutes the fuI fil1men t of Jesus' prophecy
about ,the Temple and the disciples' request 'for a "sign." The destruc-

tion of the Temple is the slgn that "these things" \"i11 aIl be accom-
pIt shed. It is the sign th'at Gad ,vill bring thi\",orld t'o an end; it
points to the cosmi destruction ",hich will brinp.; about the end of the
For the meaning of CiIJ/f,ov as a portenteaus act which points
to something yet ta corne, K.H. Rengstorf, on 0'7ftEiov in The
Tleo1ogica1 Dictionary of the New Testament, V. vI ed. by G.\} Freidrich,
pp 216-217
The des truction of the Temple as the consummate sign is the ful-

fil1ment of the Church's expectation of "signs;" the "messianic woes"
have occurred. The community is now ta expect nothing 1ess than the ..4
f ,
Parousia of the Lord itself. Jesus has beerl for a sign (13:4)'"'"
and this has been fillfilled. !ts fulfi11ment is what the evangelist
wants the reader ta understand in 13:14. The readers of the gospel do
not need ta be to1d that the Temple has been destroyed. Rather,
need to be to1d that its de",struction was the fu1fi1lment of the Church's
apoca1yptic expectations. Its destruction is the fulfi11ment of pro-
phecy, 80. and is a1so the consummate sign pf the coming f the Day of
the Lor,d. The Marcan cornrnunity is--ammred that the recent 'history
of the Church has been foreknown and expected (13: 23).
"The Parable of the Fig Tree" (Mk.13:28:-29) is used' to i11ustrate
the evangelist's Interpretation of "current events:"
From the fig tree learn its 1esson: as soon as its branch
becomes tender and puts forth i ts 1eavs, you know that
summer is near. 50 also, when you see these things. taldng
place, you knm., that he is near, at the very gates.
The evangelis t reminds hlS communi ty that they are the generation
. 82
who have witnessed the things described in 13:5-23 take ",place. Now,
"after that tribulation" (13: 24), they are to expect the Parousia; "he
is near." Rather than doubt, because the Parousia did not occur with
80 r
Dan.ll:31; Cf. B. Rigaux, "BLlEI\YI1ATH2 G.PHI1D:5:Efl'2 Mc. 13:14;
A ,
Ht.24:l5," Bib1ica 40 (1959) pp.675-683. Hk.13:l4 also refers to the
fulfil1ment of 13:2.
81rt fulfil1s the request for a sign in 13:4. The sigRificance,
of the Temple for the Jerusa1em Church must not be uhderestimated.
E.g. Ats 2:46. 5:42.
Cf. Gaston, p.453f.

1 -
.. '
, '
, -
the destruction of the Temple, the Church should take because it

1s a sign of of the Lord'. The disasters experienced by
, d
the Church indicate, like the budding of a fig tree, that the summer
of the Parousia is not far off.
Mark 13:32 sets "the who1e discourse in perspective. The communitr,
-1s no longer to await the fu1fillment of any "signs." It awaits the
Parous1a itself. If any one is concerned about the reality of the Day
of the Lord, they have only to look towards Jerusalem. exact hour,
of the Parousia is not known. So it.can come at any time. The Church,
therefore,. ls to "watch that' it may not be found "sleeping." No one
knows the time;- but the Chur ch' has aIl the "signslt it needs to know that
, ,tne parow:jia is certain.
, <
The other synoptic add to- and clarify Mark 13 for their
mm cOl1'!I:luni ties. Matthew inc1udes the \Vords "TIj.s (J7S " in
the disciples' question to Jesus which opens the discourse (Mt.24:3).
The associlttion between the destruction of the Templ,e and the Parousia
is thus made exp li ci t at tne' outset. Nark 13: is also c1arified
with the addition of to the Prophet Daniel in Mt.24:l5.
The Lucan discourse, Lk.21:5-36, diminishes ,the of
the fall- of Jerusalem as the consummate "sigu" of t:Ite Parousia. The
fal1 of the city is one eVent, or "sign," among many which cOfljtitutes
l' "
Godrs' plan for the end-time. Mark 13:14-22 i8 clarified in Lk.2l:20-24
" ,
with explicit references to fal1 of Jerusalem and the di'spersa1 of
Israel. The Lucan exposition of Mk.13: 14-22, in Lk. 21: 20-24" offers
further evidence that the Church interpreted the destruction of the
Temple as a tiroe when its inherited apocalyp.tic prophecies were ful-
Luke 21:22 reads:
p ....
for these are the days of vengeance, ta fulfill aIl
that is 'wri t ten.
What follows the Lucan account of the fall of Jerusalem indicates
the differing perspectives adopted by the synoptic evangelists with
, ,
regard to the eschatological plan. The authors of Mark and Matthew
Q ,
were satisfied t'o consider aIl the prophecies for the, end-time fulfilled,
but to consider the tiroe of the end'itself unrevealed. Their gospels
present an open ended version of the divine
plan which is aIl but con-
summated in A.D. 70. The author of Luke oroits the verse discountift:::::::://<"
knowledge, of the time of the end to aIl but the Father. Instead, he
reGords an apprehension of the which ihcludes an un{ulfilled
concerning lI t he tiroe of the 'centiles" after recounting the fall
of Jerusalem. Luke 21:24b reads:
and Jerusalero will. be trodden down byo the Gentiles,
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
"The 'inclusion of this prophecy allows for an extended period of time
bfore th" 83 This, gospel teaches that the delay itself is
part of the revealed eschatological plan.
The overarching purpose of the thre verslons of the eschatological
discourse' ls the sarne. They assure" the Church that the:re ls a plan,
that aU that has" happened chas been foreknown, nothin& has gane wrong,
. 1
and the Parousia ls
Sti11\ to
come. The Church should, "watch"
;: .. ,
main firm in its expectation of the Lord.
And then the y will see the Son of Man corning in clouds
w!th great and glory. And then He 'viU send out
the angels. and gather His elect from the four winds,
from the ends of to the ends of heaven.
. -
. .
84 .
Ml< 13: 26-27.
, .
" .-
and re-
;. \

. "
/"-1 J'
Chapters one 'through three examined apocalyptic issues reflected
in the Testament apart from the Book of Revelati9n_ This chapter
W1l1 examine the Apocalypse against this background; its place i& re-
iation to the apocalyptic concerns of the early Church may thereby be
established. The Apocalypse will be discusseH under two subject head-
ings: (1) 'The place of the Apocalypse in relation to issues which
f 0
arose among first generation Christians; (2) The place of the Apocalypse
in relation to issues which arose due to the delay of the Parousia.
Tl:te division ot apocalyptic issues in this manner is 'only pro-
visional. These categories represent the chronological progression in-
hereryt in the adjustment to tne of the ParOUS1a.
Issues arsing due to "imminent expectation" preceded issues caused by
the delay; as Christians were confronted tiy the "delay," apocalyntic
issues changed accordingly. Hmolever, while these categories
the "evolution" of apocalyptic issues in the J,ife of the Church, onc
,> Il
should recognize the problems Inherent in positing simple linear pro-
gression. It 1S understood that first which
dea1t pz::imari1y wi th apoca1yptic issues caused ,by "imminent expecta-

tion," may in particu1ar instances"had to address prob1ems caused
. ' ,
by the de1ay ,of the Parousia. Simi1ar1y, though the de1ay \-laS the
primary source .for the emergence of apocalyptic issues for the 'Church
after 70-A.D., new in the second or third generation along
with conununities which exper!enced a resurgence of "imminent expecta-
tion" probab1y had sorne of the same difficu1ties prevalent during the
ear1y years of the Church.
1. The Place of the Apocalypse fn Relation to Issues Which Arase
Among First Generation Christians
of Revelation does not speak direct1y ta any of' the prob-
lems which were pecu1iar first generation Christianity. Issues
which arase. due ta the expectation of an imminent Parousia, questions
about the status of the Jews at the Parousia, and questions about the
doctrine of the genera1 do not concern the author Qf the
Apocalypse. John addresses his book to arase be-
fh fhp
cause ote 0 t e arOUS1.a.
the absence of direct reference to these issues
does not mean that the Book of Revelation bears no relationship to
them: The Apocalypse does include traditions \"hich represent the
lSee Sec.2 (C) be1ow.
resolution of these issues by the early Church. Traditions arase .
in response ta problems peculiar ta the first generatlon have
part of the Apocalypse's inherited teachfng. These traditions have been
put ta new use; they are incorporated into the author' s exhortation tp'
the Church of his day.
CA) Issues Arising due te the Church's of an Imminent
The Apocalypse is not addressed to those who fear they may miss
out on the Parousia, nor to the concern reflected in l Thess.4:l5-l8
about the status of those who had died. Furthermore, it does not re-
flect d:1. ilculties which the connnunity expe'rienced due to
its "interim ethic."
Inasmuch as the Apocalypse preserves traditions from an ear1ier
i t contains a fe\y whicn reflect the resolution of sorne
issues ,yhich arase due ta "imminent expetation." The presence of such
passages in the Apocalypse, similar to their presence in the synoptic
gospels, are examples of traditions initial1y used in respons,e ta a
particular p,roblem, ,-lhich in 1ater times were used to satisfy other
needs. Revelation 1:7 is one such passage:
Beho1d, he is coming with the c1ouds, and every eye \ViII
see him, every one who pierced him; and aIl the tribes of
2See L.A. Vos, The Synoptic Tradi tions, in the Apocalypse, Vrije
Universiteit te Amsterdam (Kampen: J.H. Kok, 1965); R. Bauckham,
"Synoptic Parousia Parables and the Apocalypse, Il Ne,,, Testament Studies
23 (1977)
, ,
" 1
the earth \.,i11 wail on account of him. Even 50. Amen.
This passage is similar ta Matthew 24:30. Bath are constructed from
. 3
Dani'el 7: 13 and Zechariah 12: 10. The tradition combining Daniel and
Zechariah probab1y predates bath the writing of Matthew and the Apoc-
alypse. Possibly it was origina11y used to teach Gentile converts
ab h
. l . 'f h P . 5
out t e lmpact 0 t e arOUSla. The combination of the
passages from different Hebrew prophets provides an abbreviated
refe'rence ta Jewish pocalyptic of the Day of YHHH and
that of the appearance of the Son of Hn.
John's use of this tradition is not ta be an introduction
ta, or a corrective of, the Church's teaching on the Dal'of It
i5 used in the bles5ing which opens the Apocalypse. He probab1y did.
not have anybody in mind who believed tbat "not every eye \.,i11 see Him."
3Vos, pp.60-70, argues that John has altered Zechariah 12:10 under
the influence of the universal characteristics already present in the
tradition ,.,hen be inherited it from his source. The wording of Rev.l:7
as it stands is, however, John's. He has changed Zech.12:l0, "when they
look on him whom they have pier.ced" to "every eye will see him, every
one who pierced him." Hhat was familiar to John was the combination of
Dan.7:13 and Zech.12:l0, and not sinply the tradition as found in
l'lat thew.
According to Vos, p.5lff., uses older traditions profusely;
he probably quo tes from memory since for example he never quo tes the
Old Testament directly. He amplifies his variol}s points slight
alterations in his traditions which may or may not be intentional.
See Vos, p.60ff.; H.B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John, 3rd
ed. (London: HacITlillan and Co., 1909), p.9; R.H. Charles, A Critieal
'and Exegetical Cornrnentary on the Revelation of "St. John, 2 vols., The
International Critieal Commentary, ed. by S.R. Driver et. al.
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1920), vol. 1, p.17.
See p.14 above.
The verse continues the thought started in the, v(:se: Rev.
- 1:6 glorifies C2:ris,t who has freed us from our sins; Rev.l:7 continues
glorifying Christ who will come with, universal recognition. Bath
verses represent what by John' s time are fami1iar aspects of the
-" f' 6
rlstlan con eSSlon.
Revelation 14:13 includes a phrase which echoes Paul's use of the
"dead in Christ" in l Thess.4:16: "Blessed are the dead who slie in
the Lord. The pp,rase is used here ta console those who face'
martyrdDm rather t;han those who have been shaken by the death of'"'
friends before the Parousia.
Paul's teaching"in l Thess.4:16 about the Parousia {s eorrob-
orated by Rev.l9:1lff. Though more elaborate than the cu'rsory ref-
erence in l Thessalonians, the Apocalypse includes aIl three features
mentioned Paul. Among other tnings, Christ is portrayed as coming
in eonunand of holy legions. (19 :11-16). cr;es out with '''a
loud volee" proclaiming tli.e defeat of evil and there is
also a Yisionof the resul;rec;tion of the de ad (20:4-5, John,
,however, describes the Parousia in order t'Cl proclaim God' s vietory ,
over evi1
and not, as did Paul, to provide his readers with information
Charles, Revelation vol. 1, pp.lS-17.
7 c- ,c 1)' _ '1 ,
"OC VE.KfOI O( [.V KUflY " Rev.14:13 and" OC
poi :.." Xf'O"T.cJ" l 16.
8 q
Swete, p.IS7; Cf. Charles, Revelation, vol. 1 p.370.
9See Swete, pp.250-259j N. Kiddle and M.K. -Ross, The Revelation of
St. John, The Hoffatt New Testament Conunentqry, ed. by J.- Hoffatt
(London: Hodder & S tough ton, 1940). pp.383-386; G.R. Beasley-Murrary,
The Book of Revelation, New Century Bible" ed. by M. Black, (London:
Oliphants, 1974), pp.277-287.
1- (

. ,
which the y lacked concerning status of "the dead in Christ"- at the
end of the age.
It is clear that John shows familiarity with apocalyptic motifs
stemming from early in the life of the Church. He has adapted sorne

of these for his own use. 'He prefaces the revelation
with a doxology constructed out of traditional confessional and littlr-
gital statements (1:7). He consoles those who face martyrdom with a
saying concerning the future blessing awaiting those who die "in the
Lord" (14:13), and he exhorts the whole Church with a vision of the
Par6usia,so as to build up its faith at a time when the delay was
. d b 10
ou t.
The Apocalypse reflec ts a time ",hen the Chur ch had in sorne places,
notably in Laodicea, achieved a certain measure of financial security
(R,ev.3: 17). John' s atti tude towards wealth, hm'lever, recalls a time
whert worldly riche,? vere considered incompatible wi th the Kingdom of
God. While Laodicea,is condemned, Smyrna, a poou Church (Rev.2:9),
is applauded. Though other factors contributed ta John's evalutidn
of the state of these Churches, wealth is generally cQndemned in the
There is a consensus which holds that Revelation 18, fIat 'least
on one level, depicts the destruction of the city of Rome and the
See Sec. (C) below.
.>P ,
breakdown of the world arder associat'ed with it. ,,11 Though there 1s
sorne debate Rev.18 is a lament/over the fall of Rome or a
song expressing joy over the of cause
it is clear
that John regards wealth as one of the reasons for Rome's predicted
Since the book was ta Christian Churches
in Asia Minor and not ta Rome, i t can be 1?afely assum:ed that the
passage was not meant ta warn Rome 0\ impending doom. The passage is
pot meant rnerely to express joy at the prospect of its but
ta warn John' s readers not to put their trus t in the' things of this
lIA.y. Collins, ,iRevelation 18': Taunt-song or Dirge?", L'Apoc-
alypse Johannique et l'Apocalyptique dans le Nouveau Testament, ed.
by J. Lambrecht', Bibliothe'ca Ephemeridurn Theologicarurn Lovaniensium
53 (Leuven: University Press, 1980) p.18S; Cf. Swete, pp.226-241;
Revelation vol.2, pp.87-88,9S-1l3; Kiddle and Ross, pp.358-
374; R.H. A.T. Hanson, The Revelation of St. John the
Divine, (London: SCH Press, 1949), pp.llS-118; G.B. Caird, A Commentary
on the of St. John the Divine, Harper's Nmv Testament Commen-
'taries, ed. by H. ,Chad\vick, (Ne\v York: Harper & Row, 1966), pp. 221-
232; Beasley-Nurray, Revelation, ?p.2G2-270; J.P.H. Sweet,
Westminster Pelican Commentaries, ed. by D.E. Nineharn (Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, 1979), pp.264-276.
l2See Collins, Revelation 18, pp .185-204 '. It mus t be noted that
reactions like that of H. Lilje, The Last Book of the Bible tr. by O.
Wyon, (Philadelphia: Nuhlenbrg Press, 1957) p.235, that the
list of lux ury articles (18:9-19) sounds like hitter mockery" may not
be required if one takes in ta account John's purpose in.writing the
book. Wealth and. pmvcr which insure securi ty in this world, represented
by will h 9f importance when the day of judgment '
John's "taunt song," Kiddle and Ross, g.3S9, warns his readers in Asia
r-linor not ta put their trust in \vorldly things.
l3Collin8, Revelation 18, p.230; Caird, p.227, followed by Sweet,
p.264, believs that John doesn't condemn wealth as such but Rome's
use of it; it was used by the ''barlot ta seduce men into materialism."
world; worldly security will not help Rome on the day of its judg-
ment, and neither will it help the community of believers.
John may have beeu someope who remembers the time the primi-
tive community rejected worldly attachments.. He may possibly also be
an early Christian prophet who wants to cntinue th!s tradition he
inherited framhs elders. attitude towards .riches
o )
as reflected in Apoc91ypse represents a reaction towqrds a Church
which 'has become complacent the temptations present
themselves when one has dealings with this ' John's attitude
does represent an 'important over that associated with the
primitive commUl;l'ity. "8y associating wealth" or onulence, with Rome
(Babylon) 'the harlot, John has explicitly associated wealth with the
presence of the eschat?logical adversary; it is nat only a syrnbol of
\vorld.lY a t tachrnen t
(B) The Apocalypse and the Issue of the General Resurrection of the
Unlike l Carin thians 15, the Apocalypse does not address
problems which rnay bave arisen out of unfamiliarity with the Jewish
h' h ' . 15
apoca yptlC teac lng on t e resurrectlon. In fact, the
l4Cf Kiddle and Ross, p.363ff.; p.271.
material 't contains about the resurrection of the dead
could be used to new converts sorne aspects of the'
teaching; this was not, however, John's purpose in writing the book.
' ..
.. '
presupposes an.acquaintance with t.aditions about the
resurrection body; John's readers are expected to be familiar with

'the clothing metaphor' for 'the resurrection body. The metaphor,
furthermore, is not used simply to describe the resurrection body as
it i5 used by Paul in II Cer.5:1-5. The metaphor is used by John
to stress the necessity of living a moral life if one expects to

inherit this body at the Parousia.
IYet y.ou have a few names in Sardis, people who have
not soiled their garments; and the y shall walk with
me in white, for they are worthy. . '/
. ,
In this passage John assti'me-s that his readers know what it means to
"keep" one's "garment."
.. i
Similarly Rev.16:15 reads:
Lo, l am coming like a thief! Blessed is 'he who is
awake, keeping his 'garments that he may go naked
and seen exposed!
Again one mus t know wha;t i t means to "kep" one "s "garment" or to "be
.. <IV
seen exposed" for this warning to have any effect. John does not ex-
plain his use of the metaphor. II Cor.5:l-5, Paul uses clothing
metaphor teaching the Corinthians about the
He argues that the believer can look forward to "a he.avenly dwelling"
which is t"o be '.'pu.t on" at the In Cor.5:3-4, the
, f
"that w. might not be found nked" refers to wish that he not
be disembodied through death. Pa,ul is concerned about the possibility
of his "nakedness" in thE! in terim' be death and the general
He hopes he will be "further clothed" through the
'\ ..
miracu10us transformation of the ea:rthly body into the spiritual at
the coming of the Lord.
In the John uses the same but for different
purposes. In Rev .16 :15, he does not meaI)3."Blessed are tho5e who re-'
main a1ive until the Parousia," he warns that one can 10se the in-
,. 17
heri tance of the resurrection body if one does not remain "awake."
To be seen "exposed" is to be raised disembodied, a fate reserved for
. k d . 1 . l' 18
t e e some apoca ''Wakefu1ness,'' further-
more, in the Apocalypse as a1so for Paul and in the synoptic gospels,
, 19
invo1ves living a moral life. Rev.3:4 warns the be1iever that an
immoral life here and now "soi1s" the resurrection body which he or
she is to inherit at the genera1 resurrection. Since those 'who have
not soiled their garments" are the exception in a Chur ch whose ,wrks
"hve not been found perfect" (3:2), Rev.3:4 carries the implication
that most of the members of the Church in Sardis have "soiled" their
"garmen ts ." The candi tion of the res'urrection body will indicate the
kind of life the believer has 1ead in this wor1d. John thus uses a
famd.1ar metaphor or tradition which speaks about the resurrection
body in terms of clothing in arder to exhort his readers ta
correct1y in this wor1d.
p.77 above.
17Cf . Charles, Revelation vol.1, p.187ff.
l8See Charles, Revelation vol.2, pp.193-l94; Russell, p.37S.
19see pp.56-59 above; a150 Loyestam, p.lOS.

. t
Refernces to the resurrection body, particularly as a way of
speaking about the quality of the 14,":es of believers in this w,?r1d,
are presen t throughout the Apocalypse. The Laodidlans, in 3: l8f., ' .
. ,
are toldothey are "naked" and ought to acquire "wlrite robes" from the
Lord through repentance. The Holy Martyrs in 6:11 receive
"whi te robes'" immediately upon
their dea ths, and those who, ''have come
through the great tribulation Il have "washed their robes and made them
white in the blood of the lamb" (7:14). In Revelation the
readers ,of the Apocalypse are exhorted to ''wash'' their "robes" also.
The clothing metaphor in the -Apocalyps'e its zenith perhaps in
Rvelation 19:18. The Chureh, the Bride of the Lamb,20 is told that
her wedding garment, "fine linen, bright and i9 made up of
nothing less than "righteous deeds of the Saints .1121 John's uSe of
the clothing metapl}or emphasizes that "every aet of the present life
is thus linked up inexorably to future. ,,22
Paul believed that those who die before the Parousia are with
the Lord, "away from the body" (II Cor.5:6-9, Phil.l:23); one ,remains
disembodied and only receives the resurrection body at the Parousia.
John it seems shares this belief,23 but the ApoeallPse nevertheless
20The bride il? to interpreted as the whole Church (Caird, p .234)
and not only as a reference ta the eommunity of martyrs (Charles,
Revelation vol.2, p .126f .
Cf. Eph.5:26-27h
Charles, Revelation vol.l, p.188.
Charles, Revelation vol.l, p.98; see alsQ vol.2, pp.194-l99.
. ,
, "1
. "', ...
represents a further development, with respect t,o this teaching as
found in' the Pauline epistles. John the Church that the
) , \
believer is already in possession of resurrection body in sa far
as he or she"can "wash," "sail," or lose it in this life. Activity
in' world the believer
s inheritance of the resurrection
#) .. , ...
For example, $0 great the effect of martyrdom that those
experience it. receive the resurrection body immediately upon
their (Rev.6:ll) and will reign with Christ in the millenial
, .age (Rev.20:4-6).
The Apocalypse was written for communities which had existed
long, for their members 'to become weIl acquainted with tpe '
Church's apocalyptic heritage. John's readers knew of the general
, \ -
resl,lrrect,ian and were familiar with Church' s traditions about the
resurrection b.ody. His teaching on the resurrection and its place in
rela.tion ta what one accomplishes in this life illustrates the way he
Il .... \ t>
. :attempts to apply the Church's apocalyptic traditions in community
, , -
is not teaching the Church about the re'surrec tian body, hut

using her about it in order emphasize the need for
living a moral llfe.

: .
" ,
() "
o /)
'.r' ...... ,.'.
(C) The Apocalypse and the Status of the 'at 'the Parousia
a Jew s over the place of ,the Jews in Gad' s plan
for the end-time in li.ght of their rEiJection of the Messiah and the
G?Spel The Apocalypse does not reflect this problem, nor
does"it seem to concern its Significantly, John's
:vision of future redemption, a vision which makes no distinction be-
2-4 ' 4
tween Jews and Gentiles, ls decidedly grounded in the Jewish
. d h id" 25
apoca ypt1c an prop et c tra 1t10n.
The absence of anguish over the fate unbe.eving Jews could
indicate that John was a Gentile; the issue might not therefore con":
cern him in ,the sarne way that it rnight concern a Jewish Christian.
There is, however, a onsensus among sch'alars 2 based primarily. on
linguistic grounds, that the writer of the Apocalypse was an Aramaic
or Hebrew speaking Jew.
Furtherrnore, .. use of the term "Jet ... "
in 2: 9 and 3: 9, "those who say they are Je\Vs and are not," has
>_positive connotations. John retains' its rneaning as a reference tQ
'dt ' ,
24 . -
See Rev.7:9f.; 2l:24f.
& 25See M. Rissi, The Future of the World, Studies in
Theology, Second Series 23 (London: SCM Press, 1972) pp.61-73; A.
Geyser, "The Twelve Tribes in Revelation - Judean and Judeo Christian
Apocalypticism," New Testament Studies 28 (1982), pp. 388-399.
26See notably Charles, Revelation vol.l, pp.xxif., cxii-
clix; and more recently the significant contribution of G. Mussies,
The MorphologY. of Koine Greek
As Used in the Apocalypse of St. Johp,
Supplements to NovumTestamentum 27, ed. by W.C. Van Unnik et. al. -,
(Leiclen: E-.J: Brill, 1971). Cf. Preston and Hanson, p.42f.; Caird,
p.5f.; Beasley-Murray, Revelation, p.35f.
, '
God's people, the eleet.
'rhis use of the term reflects John's
understanding that the Church is not a replacement of Israel, but
. i - f 28
t e contl..nuat on 0
{' ,
If John is a Jew, then his atti tude towards the Jews ln Rev.
2: 9 and 3:9 may refleet a period of ten"ion between Jews and
Christians at the tum of the first century. Jewish persecution
the Chureh, together with the tension created when the Council at
cirea 80-115 A.D., was formulating the ''benediction against
the Heretics," it increasingly difficul t for Jewish rristians
27Cf Rissi, Future, p.16.
This use of the term 1.s unpara!leled in
perhaps in i ts use in Ra. 2: 29 by Paul.
the Testament ex-'
28Cf . Preston and Hanson, p.92; Rissi, p.74f.; Sweet, p.195.
An l..mportant of this aspect of Johannine ecclesiology
i5 found in Rev.12. The ''Woman clothed with.the sun'1 is identified
by Sweet, 'fp.19'4-)95, as "the bride of Yahweh," "ZiOn out of whom
will come the Hessiah, n "l'lary, but only in 50 far as Nary embodies
faithful Israel, and mothers the Ness,iah, " by Swete, p.148, as "the
Jerusalem Church, " by Beasley-Hurray, Revelation, p .197f., as "the
mother of the people of Gad," and by Collins, The Combat Nyth in the
. Book of- Revelation., Harvard Dissertations in Religion 9, ed. by C.
Bynum et. al., (Hissula: Scholars Press, 1976), p.135, as "the-
heavenly IS:rael." Swee t, p .195, highlights the importance of identi-
fying the Wornan with the Church "only in sa far as the Church is
connuous wi th God 's people from the beginning and with Eve, 'the
mother of aIl living' (Gen.3:20)." It is significant that the \Joman
is the sarne f.:i,gure who gives bir:th tothe Messiah (12:5), that is
the Israel symb01ized by Nary and the Jerusa1em Church, and also the
one who escapes from the dragon by fligh t on eagle' swings into the &
wi1derness (12: 14). This is possibly a ,reference to the presence of
the Church, Israel, kept safe among the Gentiles during thG), persecution
and dispersal of Je\v1sh Christians, "the rest of her offspring ..
those who keep the cormnandments of Gad and the tes ti'ffiony of Jesus
(12:17)," during Jewish \var. Cf. Sweet. p.203.
Sweet, p.28f., 85.
q' 30
to main tain persona1 links \Ii th the synagogue. This tension, which
. sorne scholars believe plays a ro1e in the, writing of the Fourth Gos-
JL 32
pel,. is possibly aiso reflected here in the Apocalypse.
It is not important for J;hn, however, whether one is a Gentile or
a Jew. He only distinguishes between the redeemed and those who are
not or are yet to be 'redeemed. The .mat ter of importance is that one
\ 33
is a of the Lamb and not a worshiper of the beast.
If t
2. The Place of the Apoclypse in Relation to Issue:; Which Arose Due
to the Delay of the Parousia
o r
The discussion in chapters two and trhree outlined many different
but interrelated issues'which arose because of the de1ay of the Par-
.ousia. Among these were the danger of moral laxity and questions re-
garding the signs and time of the Day of the Lord. These issus are
addressed in'varying degrees by the writer of the Apocalypse.
doe's not however address, nor does his book ref1ect, the difficulty .-
30See J.L. Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel,
revised and enlarged (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1979) pp .37-62.
\ Cf. John 9: 21; 12-: 42. ./
31 Ibid .; a1so'Brown, C.K. Barrett, The Gospel Acprd-
ing to St. John, 2nd ed. (London: S.P.C.K., 1978), pp.36l-362.
32Cf . Collins, Combat' Nyth. p .IS8f.; Geyser, p.39l.
33 '
Collins, Combat Hyth, pp.158-16l.
, .
reflec ted in the gospels regarding '7'hich delimi ted the
time of the Parousia to the lifetime of the first generation.
(A) The Apocalyps and Traditions Delimiting the Parousia to the
Lifetime of the First Generation
The synoptic gospels preserve traditions which delimit the time
of the Parousia to' the life time of the first The evan-
have reinterpreted these traditions such they point to

the testimony of the Apos tolic circle regarding the 'reality of the
The writer of the Apocalypse places himself in the tradition of
those who bear wi tness to the certainty of the Parousia without mak-
ing Apostolic'claims. John, unlike the synoptic evangelists
.. not need to reinterprct such sayings in order to assure members of
the Church that the Parousia will occur. Through his vision he him-
self bears witness to the defeat of evil and the establi,shment of a
new creatioI). As an early Christian prophet or seer he keeps alive
the tes tinlOny 0 f # the Glory to come.
34Cf . D.E. Aune, "The Social Nat/ix of the Ap'ocalypse of John,"
Biblical Research 26 (1981) pp.17-22, on Jqhn's self-understanding;
also E. S. Fiorenza, "Apokalypsis and P rophe teia. The Book of Revelation
in the Context of Early Christian Prophecy," L'Apocalypse johamique
et l'Apocalyptique dans le Nouveau Testament, ed. by J. Lambrecht,'
pp.lDS-128; D. Hill, "Prophecy and Prophets in the Revelation of St.
John," New Testament Studies 18 1972), pp .401-418.
, -
.. '
(B) A Brief Sketh of the Early Church' s Response to the Delay of
This of the ear1y Church's response to the delay is
on the issues discussed in the preceding chapters. It provides a frame-
work within which the Apocalypse can be p1aced.
The primitive Church took Jewish apocalyptic expectati0!1 of the
Day of YHWH to be references to what the Church expected as the Par-
ousia of the Lord. Jewish apocalyptic be1ief in the existence of a
divine plan, therefore,\provided a framework for the community's ex-
pression of its future hope. The divine plan provided a ln
which the Parousia cou1d be expected at a "proper" time.
The earli,est Christians e-xpected the Parousia shon. Its non-
occurrence meant that hopes \vere transferred from one day to the next.
At first there \.;ras no reason to develop explanations for why it had
not yet occurred; if it had not today, it might come tomorrow.
Prior ta A.D. 70 Christians expected certain or signs,
to occur before the, Lord 1 s arrivaI. They expected the "messianic
woes." According ta Jewish tradition these woes meant the natural,
social, and poiiticai upheavals which wauld occur before the Day of
YHWH. Part of the tradition included the appearance of an eschatolagi-
cal adversary am6ng these \voes. The primitive community simply taok
over most of these expectations from Je\"ish apocalyptic sources.
As further dela:r. oecame apparent Christians began to expect that
the Gentiles wauld have ta have a chance ta hear the Gospel before the

Parousia would occur. The primitive community had also associated
its prophecies about the pestruction of the Temple withothe Parousia.
There is the possibility that sorne teachers pointed to the undese-
crated Temple in order to explain why the Parousia had not yet
occurred During the dramatic events preceding th'e fall of Jerusalem
the Church in p1obably lived ,'in an atmosphere of heightened
expectation. During the Jewish War "the signs of the times" all
pointed to the nearness of the Lord.
After A.D. 70, a new attitude with regard to the end of the age
can be obst!rved. This is visible for those Churches which produced
gospels. The deaths of first generation Christians made it nec-
essary to re-evaluate traditions which had been thought to delimit the
Parousia to the !ifetime of the Apostolic circle. The destruction of
the Temple had also to be accounted for, especially in light of the
fact that its, destruction was nat aeeompanied by the Parousia as'an-
The authors of the synoptic gospels no longer looked for the fu!-
fillrnent of tradidonal apocalyptic signs. The writers of Nark and
Matthe\v believed that these signs, the "rnessinic woes, Il were fulfilled
in the fa!l of Jerusalem. These gospels te.ach that after the great
tribul;'y0n of the Jewish \.Jar only the Parousia itself is still to be
expected. It eould arrive at any but these not ex-
clude the possibility of an extended delay. Natthew is mueh more
explicit than Nark in reference to this possibility. The third
S ee II Thess.2:4-5.
evangelist teaches that the Church must; still await the fulfillment
of the "times of the Gen only then will the cosmic upheavals
which herald the end ensue. The author of Luke still awaits the
fulfillment of the " woes" in so far as they involve co'smic
signs and tribulation.
'AIl three evangelists taught their respec-
tive readers that there was no 'need for the Cht\rch to know 'the Ume
of the Parousia in order to be prepared or to carry out her function
in this world.
By the beginning of the second century the teaching that the
Church did not know the time of the Pa:t;ousia seems to have prevailed,
particularly as a re5ponse to false claims and questions about its
time. The author of II Peter does not attempt a caiculation of the
end-time when he is faced with "scoffers" who doubt the reali ty of
the Parousia. Rather, he appeals to scripture to show that the time
of end is known only to God. In II Pet.3:8 he quotes from
37 h' h' . h . h d Il' h
sa ms teac lng lS communlty t at Wl.t regar to ca cu t e
end-time, his reader's apprehension of days and years May not conform
to COd'S:
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with
the Lord one day i5 as, a thousand years, and a
thousand years as one day.
. The main resul t of the delay wi th respect ta life in Chris tian
communities \vas the 10ss of eschatological motivation p The "delay

Psalm 90:4.
. .
, i
ethic" which a110wed with the world had the added effect
of allowing people to become Jaught up in worldly affairs. Thus
doubt and moral laxity threatened th'e Chur ch from wiothin. The evan-
gelists responded ta this situation with sayings, stories, parables,
and exhortations inherited from a time the community rejected
such \vorldly association in view of the "impending crisis." The
evangelists tried ta reintroduce eschatological motivation into the
life of the Church by using these traditions along with sorne tra-
ditional metaphors to proc1aim the certainty of1 the Parousia. They
used the metaphors of "wakefulness" and "sobriety" in order to em-
phasize the way a 1ife lived in this age de termines the impact of the
age to come. Proper preparation for the Parousia becomes
for the believer regardless of when it actua1ly occurs; the believer' s
wuy of !life in this world will de termine ... the circumstances under which
he or she will be received by the Lord. f

(C) The delay of the Parousia the Apocalypse of John.
The Apocalypse proclairns to the Church Catholic that the Lord
is near. This proclamation is made in the face of \vhat John believes
is one of the most pressing dangers confronting the Church of his day.
Christlan cornmunities have become lax. They have' begun to live as if
the Lord might not return. The Apocalypse tries to rectify this
weakening of eschatological awareness. l t, theref ore, addresses the
10ss of eschatol>gical motivation in the .life of the Church.

The Letters
The .Book of Revelation is cast in the fonn of a letter ta seven
Churches in Asia Hitl.Or. There is a consensus that these Churches are
I1)eant to symbolize the Church Catholic.
Each "letter," however,
fI d d
' f l' f' h f h ,,39
re ects sorne un ers tan 0 1. e ln eac 0 t e seven,
and each ShOHS an awareness of particular circumstances within each
of the Chur
. There is, therefore, agreement that the pocalypse
, 41
was probably sent ta and ci rculated among the seven named Churches.
It was probably read aloud, h d
, h' . 43
per aps wors It
is understood' that though Apocalypse was circulated among these
seven Churches, and probably elsewhere, it was composed as a prophetie
ward to the ",hole Church.
38 .
lv.H. Ramsa.y, The Letters ta the Seven Churches in Asia and
, ".Their P1ace"in the Plan of the Apocalypse, (London: Hodder & Stough-
ton, 1904), p.l77; Charles, Revelation vol. l, p.47; and Ross,
p.18; Preston and Hansan, p.59; Li1je, p.59; Beasley-Murray, Revela-
tion, p.S2; Caird, p.IS; Sweet, p.65; E.S. Fiorenza, "Eschatology
and the' Composition of the, Apocalypse ," The Catholic Biblical
Quarterly' 30 (1968), p. 562.
See most notably pp.210-433.
40Though Kiddle and Ross, p,17f., regard the references to
" problems in cacn of the Churches to 'be only incidental ("we must
regard the Churches as 1 colonies of heaven' "), most commentators in-
terpret the letters such that the circumstances reflected therein
have sorne basis in actual facto E.g. Charles, Revelation vol. l, pp.
47-102; Ca:trd, pp.27-58; Revelation, pp.70-l08;
Sweet, pp.75-ll0.
41This is presupposed by both Ramsay, pp.171-184, and Swete,, who believe that the order of the cities cited in Rev.
1:11 reflects the most probable route of a courier. Cf. Caird, p.28;
Beasley-Nurray, Revelation, p.53f.; Sweet, p.64f.
42 - 2
Caird, p.13; Beasley-Murray, Revelation, p.S.
lorenza, "Eschatology," p.S37.
The "sevel} 1etters" addre_ss both tbe positive and negative as-
pects of the Churches. Since these Churhes symb01ize th'e
Church Catho1ic, their vlrtues and shortcomings may be assumed to be
indicative of most Churches in John's day. The dlfficu1ties which
John brings up in these "letters" thus represent the historical sit-
'uation to which the visions of Rev.4-20 are addressed.
The recurring therne throughout the book is that "the Lord is
coming soon," "the time is near.,,45 This proclamation found in
many passages. With t!he exception of 12: 12, aIl these passages
occur in the "ecclesia1 of the book, the section addressed
47 ..
directly to,the Church (Rev .. 21:1-22:21). The need for
this exhortation reflects that which John understands to be the prob-
lem at hand: the 10ss of an eschatologica1 awareness. Inasrnuch as
John feels called to rernind the Church that is near, this
lo!>s is probably due to the delay of the Parousia. The difficulties
which John has observed to be the result of the delay are delineated
in his criticism of five of the seven named Churches.
The letters to the Churches in Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira,
Sardis, and Laodicea address the two basic arenas of Church activity,
44 J
Charles, Revelation vol',l, p.37.
ee lorenza, "Escha tology," pp. 554-560.
Rev.l:1,3; 2:5,16; 3:11; 12:12;
47 Ibid ., pp.562-567.
48 John has on1)' praise for the Churches in Philadelphia and

the Chur eh 's relationship with the world and activi ty within the
eonununity itself. Thotfgh these two realms of activity are inter-
related, John addresses these issues separately, each in rel'ation to
a Church which he feels is representative of the problem. The dif-
fieulties addressed in the letters to Ephesus, Pergamum, and Thyatira
concern the effect the delay has had on the Church' s relationship
with outsiders. to Sardis and 1aodicea, on the other
.hand, concern life with the Church itse1f.
The warning in the letters to Ephesus, Pergamum and Thyatira
.concern the Church' s relationship with false teachers, that is those
whom John be:lieves are not part of the followers of Christ though
-they may be among the members of the Church. In= the case of Pergamum
an!l Thyat ira John' s opponnts may claim to be Christian but John 1
denies this. The Church in Ephesus holds resolutely to correct doc-
trine (2:2-3,6), but it has become intolet>ant and hO\11 to
love (2: 4) The Church has "tfatiently endured" hardship, possib ly-
It has rejected faise teachers, and ha!i the fortitude
to reject false apostles. The -love John believes the Ephesians have

forgotten is, therefore, prooably more than affe,ction among its own
Perhaps they no longer love their enemies or bless those
49CE S",ete, p.26; Charles, Revelation voLl, p.50f.;
p.3l; Beasley-Nurray,- pp.79-80.
Charles, Revelation vol.l, p.49.
SlKiddle and Ross, p.23, argue "that Ephesians had given up
loving Olle another as t,hey did at flrst." LiIje, p.7I. believes the y
have forgotten how to love
who persecute them. The opposite is true of the Churches in Perg-
amum and Thyati ra. In their "accommodation to Pagan society, "?3
these Churches have allowed false teachng, and those who promote it,
to persist among them (Rev.2:l4f.,20f.).
In Sardis and Laodicea, the delay has affected life within the
believing community itself. In these Churches thei-r ovn works are
the problem, and not their relationship with false teachers and ottIer
"outsiders." John reproachell the Churc!l in Sardis quite severely in
Rev 3 : 1b-2 :
l know your works; you have the name of befng a1i ve, and
you are dead. Awake,. and strengthen what remains and.
is on the point of death for l have not found you'r works
perfect in the sight of my God.
The metaphor of wakefulness is used here ,as i t is used by Paul and
the synoptic evangelists. It to the moral life which is proper
. f h P . 54
preparatlon 0 or t e arouSla. The Sardisians are told to "awaken"
becaus'e their vlOrks are not perfecto In the Sardisians' moral
G l' fil 'bl h d d d h "d d ,,55
1 e s sa 10rrl e t ey stan con emne ; t ey are ea.
52Cf Luke 6: 27 and Romans 12:4. Jesus' teaching on love must
have been one of' the fi rst things the Apostles taugh t new converts.
Laxity in th\'! practice of this hard doctrine may Hell qualify as the
"love" and "works" the Ephesians had "at first." Cf. Sweet,
Sweet, p.88; Cf. Ramsay, pp.291-3l5,327-352; Charles, Revela-
tion vol.l, p. 70; Caird, pp. 39-40 ,44-45.
54See pp.56-67 above; also Lovestam, Pp.105-l06.
55f. p.382f.; Swete, Revelation,
1 -
("'- 129
The absence of eschato1ogical motivation in Church life is '
epi tomized
by John' s portrayal of the Church in Laodicea. 3:15
l know your works; you are
that you were cold or hot
warm, and nei ther cold nor
my mouth.
neither cold nor hot. Would
So, because you are luke-
hot, l will spew you out of
,this Church has counted 'vor1d1y riches as providing real security.
-They have become complacent and satisfied with life in this world.
This attitude ls highlighted in 3:17: "yoli l am rfch, l have
prospered. tt Their "lukewarm" attitude i5 worse than the toleration
of false teachers or over-enthusiastic heresy hunting; they are
threatened with total rejeetion.
John calls on the-se- c'hurches to repend because the Lord is com-
ing soon (Rev.2:5,16,22; 3:3,19). He alerts these Churehes regatding
the Parousia in an attempt to reintroduce eschatological motivation
in their lives. 'lJ1is is accomplished wi th the proclamation ofu the
nearness of the Parousia together with i ts accompanying
or b lessing.
h h l
"k h " 1" 56 h" 1
Jo n, mue let e synoptlc evange lSts, emp aSlzes a c ose
interre1ationship between the activity of the Church and the Parousia.
The emphasis i8 not simp1y on the chronological nearness of the Lord.
Regard1ess of when He actually cornes, the Church is Lord to
the degree her actions condition the nature of His advent. The
See pp. 65-6 7 ab ove '
. '
< '
, . '
Parousia has a dual potential, blessing and judgment. The predomi-
nance of one over the, other in the future depends on the activity
of the-Church in the Moral responsibility and eschatology
are interrelated'.
The motif is clearly illustrated in several
, 57
pa,ssages among the "seven let ters. " tn Rev. 3 :03 the image of the
1 .. () 0
"thief in 'th.e warns' the Church of coming judgment:
Remember then what you have received ,and heard; keep
that, and repent. If, you will not awake, l will come
""like a thief, , and you wili not know at what hour l
" come upon you. "
In contradistinction td of 3:3, promises b_lessings
" 58
for those who are found prepared:
Behd1d, l stand at the.,door and knock; if one. hears
\ my voice
and. opens the door, will come in to him and
eat him, and with me.

The' imag.e in eornposed of elements similar to features in two
synop'tic' "The Parable of_' the Doorkeeper" (Hk .13: 34-36)
o,f the \olaiting Servants", (Lk.12:36-38). 59 The image
. carries the preauppos_i):ioI). that tho'se who "hear'" the Lord' s volee

are not they are "a,.,ake" and ean open door. 'The
57This' dual motif pervades the entire book; numerous visions of
impending ju"dgment and blessing culminate 'vith the vision of the
lake of fire and new' Jerusalem. This duaL motif corresponds to the
,fteosmic dualism" by Collins-, Combat My th , p .15SE. '

Bauc\:ham', pp.170-174.
Vos, pp:97-98; Bauckham,- pp.165-114; also Lovestam,
"'-". "
" -

. (

in 3: 3 and 3.: 20 when taken together teach the Church that the way
. ,
the Parousia i5 experienced depends on the preparation of the Church.
If it i5 found "asleep," or "dead" in its works, the Lord will come
like. a "thief," unexpectedly wi th j udgement. If the Church 1s found
lI'awake, Il. and can "open the door" when He He wlll-come with
tlle blessin-gs celebrated in tahle-fellowship The sarne kind of warn-
ing is.'Present in the leuers to Ephesus and Rev.2:5
"0 -
Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do
the works yau did at first. If l will come and re-.
move, yaur 1ampstand from its place, un1ess you repent.
Rev.2: 16:
Repent then. If not, l will come to you soon and war
against them with the sword ol my mouth.
Both pas'sages' speak of an advent whose nature depends on 'the con-
dition of the Churches.
The passages emphasize the certainty of the Parousia. The can-
ditional element in these verses applies ta the state of the Churches
and Dot ta the The text does not mean "If you repent.- l
won't come," 'but "If you repent, l won't come with condernnation.,,60,
60 .
- See Vos, pp.8y85; Bauckham, p.172ff.
Caird, along with other scholars (e.g. Swete,
p.27; Revelation, pp.75,87,97; SHeet, p.S2.) believe
these passages to be refeTences to a "special visitation" (Charles'
phrase) in judgement prior to the Parousia.' Charles, Revelation
allows for reference to both a special and to the
Parousia in 2:5 (p.52), only to a special visitation in 2:16 (p.65),
and in 3:3 only to the Parousia (p.SI).
If one does not see a reference to the Parousia in at.'y of these
there little reason to interpret any references to the
. '
The Parousia itself is certain; the Lord will come regard1ess of the
state of His Churches.
The Apocalypse's use of the thief in the night tradition is com-
pletely in line with the way it is used by Paul and the synoptic
The met?phor is used to describe the way those who
will 'experience the Parousia. John, like the synoptic
evangelists uses contrasting images in to emphsize the difference
between'future of the with those who note
The Visions
The Apocalypse was not written simply to inform the Church or
-;,. .
the world of the or salvation t'o come. John' s purpose was
to stress the urgent need for The motivation for this
repentance is to be found in the Chur ch 's' awarness that she is an
. ,
eschatological community; an awareness that has been lost or weakened
by the duration of the delay. John hopes ta provide members of tne
coming of the Lord in Revelation as referring to the Parousia. In-
deed this i8 Caird's thesi8; 1n Revelation the advent refers mainly
ta Christ's presence in the ChurcL(see pp.25,29lf., 298-301). It __
will be argued below, that the Para'osja, or Day of the-i.n:d,' in the
Apocalypse i8 not a" single event, but a complex of events which be
gan wi th the crucifixion. 19hn' 8 eschato logy can rightly be called
"constant expectation" (Ste.8
er\vartung- H. Schurmann cited by
Fiorenza, "Esohatology," p.538 n. 106.). He expects the continuaI com-
ing'of the Lord until the complex of events involved finds its con-
summation \.;ith the final defeat of evil. The image of the Lord
walking among the "lampstands" (Churches) in 2:1 is i11ustrative of
this eschato1ogy. The Church is present now in the last days.
cf. Fiorenza, "Eschatology," pp.554-560; Sweet, p.82.
61See pp.55-59 above.
. '
Chur ch with the impetus to make the kinds of choices and live the
1ife which will ensure their sa1vation. fact that John
wrote down his revelation, that he did sa in order to reintroduce
eschatologica1 motivation into the life of the Church, points ta his
hope that no one will have to face the condemnation of God but Satan.
John accomp1ishes his purpose by to the Church the
numerous visions which make up the main body of the book. The arrange-
ment of these visions provide the context within which to better un-
'" Q ,
derstand the divine plan expressing God's purpose without necessarily
providing the Churchll-lith a "timetable." The arrangement of these
visions is not a1ways chronologica1, but it does denote a progression
or development of eschato1ogica1 events which culminates in the final
defeat 'of eVl'l.
A h i f G d' b f h ppre ens on 0 0 s purpose y means 0 t ese
62There l'S sorne debate h th f' . f i i on t e way e con 19uratl0n 0 v sons
in Rev.4-20 are ta -be interpreted. Charles, Revelation vol.l, pp.
xxiii, believes that by rearranging severa1 passages, that is by
correcting the mistakes of a weIl meaning but "very unintel1igent
disciple" Cp.xxii), the Apocalypse' can be interpreted "in str:f"ct
chrono10gical order;" there is no need for recourse to a recapitu-
lation theory like the one first espoused by Victorinus of Pet tau
(c. 270 A.D.). ta the theory, each series
of visions repeats, or recapitulates, the same series of events in
a different fashion. In recent years modified versions of the "clas-
sica1" recapitulation theory are finding acceptance. Collins, Combat
My th, pp.2l-32, believes that the book cantains two great visionary
cycles corresponding ta the contents of two seraIls (5:1; 10:2,8-11).
: Within each of these cycles are contained numerous sma1ler cycles;
sorne of these visions are nurnbred and sorne unnumbered. The various
cycles deve1op, repeat, clarify, and interpret aspects of each other '1
(see pp.32-44).
J. Lambrecht, liA Structuration of Rev.4:l-22:5," L'Apocalypse
johannique et l'Apocalyptique dans le Nouveau Testament, ed. by J.
Lambrecht, pp.77-104, }las recently proposed that John cornbined the li;
. '
. '
( .
visions may enable the' Chure? to better understand her raIe in the
unfolding of esthat010gical events.
John a complex system of "interloeking,,63 and recapitulat-
ing visions to expand the period of apocalyptic importance. The
Apoca1yptic age is no longer limited to a specifie generation as it
is in the synoptic gospels. It is extended forward from the time
of the destruction of the Temple to inelude the Church's
tion with Rome. The age of eschatological significance thus encom-
pass_es the Church' s p,erennial st.ruggle yi th evil in this world. For
John the end-time, o{ age of eschatological significance, is ex-
perieneed here and now in this very confrontation even though the
end itself may lie in distant future.
This eschatological or John's 'apocalyptic perspective,
i8 perhaps best illustrated by an examination of the way he presents
,and accounts for the delay of Parousia. John has ret"orked sorne
of his traditions concerning the destruction of the Temple and the
end-time in order to do 50. In Revelation 6 he uses traditions, ,,,hich
are found also in the synoptic gospels, in order to explain the rol
techniques of recapitulation and progression in the structuring of
his visions. "Repetition itself functions as gradation (p.103)."
Lambreacht's outline of this structuration does justice to both the
fact that there is to soWe extcnt in the viSloni, and
that there is also a progression of theological or
ideas behind them. Cf. Caird, pp.I04-106; Sweet, p.44.
63See Collins, Combat }Iyth, 'pp .16-19, for examples of this
literary device. Cf. Lambrecht, pp.82-99.
played by the fall of Jerusalem in the divine plan.
, In Revelation
7 the delay of the Parou8ia i8 depicted in terms of its meaning for
the Church.
This visionary cycle begins in Rev.4-5. Here John describes
"-- 65
the heavenly court which guides the history of the world. God 18
the "one who sits upon a throne" (4:2-11), He holds in His hand a
seroll with seven seais (5:1). The scroI1 represents the destiny of
Only the "Lamb of God," he who "was slain," is worthy
, 67
to open the seraIl by breaking the seven seals (5:3ff.). We are
thus toid the Risen Lord by virtue of His'crucifixion initiates
the unfolding of eschatological events. The description of the Lamb
64Nos t scholars follmv Charles, Revelation vol. 1 , pp .158-160,
who sees a definite relationship between Rev.6 and the synoptic
eschatological discourse (e.g. Beasley-Murray, Revelation, p.129f.;
Collins, The Apocalypse, New Testament Message 22 ed. by H. Harring-
ton an,d D. Senior (Wilmington: Hichael Glazier Ine., 1979) p.44).
Charles, p.IS8, sees a literary de pende nec on the synoptics. Vos,
p.185, believes there is a common tradition underlying bath Rev.6
and the eschatological discourse. Sweet, p.135, allows for bath
65See Caird, pp.60-69; Cf. P. Prigent, "L'Apocalypse: Exegese
Historique et Analyse Structural," Ne\v Testament S tudies 26 (1980)
pp.127-l37, on the relationship between the images of the Apocalypse
and historical events (especially p.129f.).
Swete, p.75; Charles, Revelation vo1.1, p.138; Kiddle and Ross,
p.95f.; Caird, p.72; Beas1ey-Murray, Revelation, p.120f.; Collins,
Combat My th , 24-25; S\veet, p .123.
67It 15 important ta note that in the Apocalypse the terms
"Lamb," "b lood of the Lamb," and "slaughtered lamb" (pv(ov .
) have sacrificial connotations; they refer specifically
to the crucified Hessiah. Cf. Charles, Revelation vol.l, pp.cxiii-
cxiv, 140-141.; A.T. Hanson, The H'rath of the Lmb, (}ondon: S.P.C.K.,
1957) p.165f.; Caird, p.74f.; Beasley-Murray, Revelation, 124-126;
Sweet, p .

c "
in 5: 6, f,f577ko5 (.)$ E,(J"<prJ.YJlE.YoV " (a lamb standing as having
been slaughtered) points ta John's understanding of the resurrection.
Charles observes that the Lamb "is represented CJ<pCl.. y fiivbV ,be-
cause in ve;ry truth He is not dead but alive: cf. 1:18, 2:8.,,68
plan is th us being made effectiv through the activity of the
R.isen Lord. Furthermore, since the opening of the seals sketches
, .
the recent of the Church,70 this vision informs the Church
that the Risen Lord has been guiding and will continue ta guide her
through the eschatological crisis.
The description of events which result from the opening of the
first through fifth seals is a visionary account of the salne even'ts
. 1 d b hl' . h hl' 1 d'- 72
re ate, y t e evange lStS ln t e esc ata oglca lscourse. The
four horsemen which appear when the first four seals are opened re-
present the apocalyptic signs referred ta in Nark 13: 8 as "the be-
ginning of the birth pangs." The first horseman to the ap-
pearance of pseudo-messiahs, corresponding to the first of the
.. ,1
predictions reeounted in the eschatologieal discourse
Charles, Revelation vol.l, p.14l.
69Ibid ., p.140; Caird, p.ll; Collins, Combat Hyth, p.25.
70See belO\v; on.lY with the opening of the seventh seal does
John begin to cast his gaze tO\vards the future. Cf. Rev.l:19.
Charles, Revelation vol.l, p.l40; Sweet, p.124.
See Charles, Revelation, vol.l, p.158; Vos, p.l84f.; Beasley-
Nurray, Revelation, p.l29; Swee't, p.135.
Mt.24:4-5. Lk.2l:8). The next three horsemen represent war, famine,
and pestilence or death respectively.74 They thus to the
-e"\;i1s recounted in Mk.13:7-8, Mt.24:6-8, and }k.21:9-11.
opening of the sixth depicts of the Saints, a
picture evoked \yith the of the--martyrs; it thus correspon-ds to

73 ....
Vos, pp.187-l91.
There is much debate and not much consensus regarding the identi-
ty or referent of the first horseman (Rev.6: 2). S\l1ete, p. 86. argues
against identifying him with the rider in 19:11ff., and thus interprets
6: 2 as a rrpicture of triumphant mi li tarism," an evil. Charles, Reve-
lation vol. l, pp.160-162, believes it is a reference to war, which is
repeated with the appearance of the second horseman, "international
strife." Kiddle and Ross, pp .109-114, believe that John is referring
here to the Lamb as "a divinely empO\vered warrior." S'veet, p .138,
following A. Feullet, "Le premier cavaller de l'Apocalypse," Zeitschrift
Fr Die Neutestamentlich \hssenschaft 57 (19-66), pp. 229-259, argues
that the image is of conque ring pmver of the Lamb, either the
Gospel or the Lamb' s wi tnesses though i t p,robably is not Christ Him-
self. Liije, p.125, Caird, pp.SO-SI, and Beasley-Hurray, Revelation,
pp.13l-132, argue against identifying the Eirst the
Lamb" Gospel, or Christ; Caird perhaps recognizing the difficulties
of precise identlfication simply regards the appearance of the first
horseman ta be "au evi1, 11 whi1e Beasley-Murray and Lilje fo1lo\o1,
Charles. H. Rissi, "The Rider on the \fuite Horse: A Study of Rev.6:l-
8," Interpretation 18 (1964), pp.407-418, sees here a reference to
the Auti-Christ, a view not far from pseudo-messiahs. Siuce thre is
a consensus regarding the referents of the next four seais (see n. 86
& 89), and since they correspond to the pattern established by Hk.13.
Vos argues that Rev.6:2 should be interpreted accordingly. This in-
terpretation is most compelling in the face of much disagreement.
74Swete, pp.S7-89; Charles, Revelation vol.l, pp.158-172; Kiddle
and pp.114-ll7; Caird, p.8!; Beasley-Murray, Revelation. pp.132-
134; Sweet, pp. 139-140.
7SCharles, Revelation vol.l, p.158: Vos, p.186f., Beasley-Murray,
Revelation, p.130.
76 77
the synoptic predictions of Mt.24:9, ,and Lk.2l:12-19
Upon the opening of the sixth seal, John completes the pattern
established by Nark 13 or the tradition behind it.' Mark 13 :24-27 and
parallels recount presicting the cosmic upheavals which

will accomp9ny the coming of the Son of Man. Commentators who see a
relationship between Rev.6 and the eschatological discourse believe
that Rev.6: 12-17 depicts these same upheavals. 'However, none of
the versions of the eschatological discourse moves straight to a de-
scription of the Parousia after predicting the persecution of the
Church. Before the Parousia, the discourse relates traditions as-
sociated with the Jewish War and th6 fa11 of Jerusalem.
John has
combined traditions referring to the Parousia and the fall of Jeru-
salem in his vision of the sixth seal. This
transformation of the pattern found in the syno ic discourse reveals/
in /. i
John's understanding of the role the fall 0
l ,/
Jerusalem p1ayed
divine plan. ,
-----------/' /'
76The first evangelist has /placed mueh of the materia1 found in
Mark as 13:9-13 in Mt.lO:16-22, where it speaks directly to the ques-
tion of discipleship. '

77Swete, p.92; Charles; Revelation vol.l, p.158,17l-179; Vos,
p .184: Beas1ey-MlJrray, Revelation, pp .130 ,136-137; Collins, Combat
Hyth,.. p.33.
See footnotes 87 and 90.
Mk.13:14-23; Mt.24:l5-28; Lk.21:20-24. Cf. above.
r \
/ Revelation 6:12-17 reads:
When he opened the sixth seal, l 100ked, and behold,
there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black
as the full moon became like blood, and
the stars of the sky fell to earth as a fig tree sheds
her winter fruit \vhen shaken by a gale; the sky vanished
like a seraIl that is rolled up. and every mountain and
island was removed fram its place. Then the kings of
the earth and ,the great men and the generals and the
rich and the strong, and everyone, slave and free, hid
in caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling
to the mountains and ':'':l'."ocks, "Fallon us and hide us
from the face of him who is seatd on the throne, and
from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their
wrath has come, and \-Iho can stand 'before it?"
Part of this passage uses traditional motifs referring to the parousia,80.
but John is aiso referring ta the fall dI Jerusalem. Two observations
help establish this interpretation. The first has already been
mentioned. Rev.6 follows the order of events established by the escha-
tolog:i,ca1 discourse; predictions of persecution are fol10\ved by tra-
ditions associated with the Jewish War and fall of the'city. One may
therefore look for a reference ta the fall of Jerusalem after the
vision of persecution presented in the opening of the fifth seal. -In
the second place, Revelation 6:16 reca11s a saying attributed to Jesus
in Luke 23:30:
Then t-hey will begin to say to the mountains, "Fallon
us;" and t 0 the hi Ils. "Caver us."
This saying, a quotation from Hosea (10:8). i p associated in the
gospe'l tvith the faI1 of Jertt'Salem, or rather the prediction
80swete, pp.92-95; Charles, Revelation vol.l,
Kiddle and Ross, 122-126; Beasley-Nurrary, p.130-l37-l39;
Collins, Combat My th, p.33.

thereof. John uses this association, already present in the Church's
traditions, in cpmbination with Parousia traditions in order to in-
. . 82
terpret the fall of the Clty.
Mark and Hatthew both present the Jewish War and the
destruction of the Temple as the "tribulation" which is to occur be-
fore the end itself.
Luke calls the fall of Jerusalem a "great
tribulation" but refers to the fulfillment of "the times of the Gen-
tiles" and to cosm'ic tribulations as events which are still ta come.
AlI three evangelists thus portray the fall of Jerusalem as an event
which precedes the cosmic upheavals of the end. John'presents the
fall of Jerusalem as the beginning of these cosmic upheavals.
J?hn's pur pose in combining these traditions is ta malntain the
significance of the fall of Jerusalem as a consummate eschatological
event, though has probably been many years since this event
took place. It is the fulf lllment of prophecy, and i t is the beginning
of th,e end i tsel f This vision, hmvever, sl.mply se ts the scene for
what In Revelation 7, John explains what has been happening
Cf. Gaston, p.364; also A.R.C. Leaney, A Cmmentary on the
Gospel of Luke, Harper New Testament Commentaries, ed. by H. Chadwick
(New York: Harper & Rmv, 1958), p.283.
820ne result of John's use of the saying found in Luke in this
passage is, according ta A.T. Hansan, p.170, that he like the third
evangelist sees the fall of Jerusalem to be the '\lOrking out in his-
tory of the of the rejection and crucifixion of the
Hess Lih. " ')
pp .100-102. .
p.l03 above.
ta the Church sinee the destruction of the Temple. He addresses the
question of why its destruction was not accompanied by the Parousia.
cO ,.
This is one of the reasons behind the vision of the seven seals in
genera1, ta exp1ain the present situation of the Church in terms of
her traditions regarding the end-time.
"Revelation 7:1-3 explains why the Parousia did not accompany the
fall of Jerusalem:
After this l saw four angels standing at the four corners
bf the earth, holding back the four w'inds of the earth,
that no wind might blow on earth or sea' or against any
tree. Then l saw another angel ascend from the rising of
the sun, with the seal of the Gad, and he called
with a Ioud voice to the four angels had been given
power ta harm earth and sea, saying, "Do not harm
earth or the sea, till we have sealed the servants of our
Gad upon their foreheads."
Gad has held bck the dissolution of the wor1d which has begun with
the destruction of the Temple. There is ta be a delay before the
opening of the sixth and final seai. This is a picture of the d1ay
f h P
o 85
ote arOUS1a. The. final dissolution of the physica1 world, "the
85Charles, Revelation vol.l, p.192, n.2, points out that Rev.7:
1-3 has severa1 things in common,.. tvith the "a pause" is pictured
in sorne Jet"ish apocalyptic books'. In l Enoch 66: 1-2, for example, the
"angels of punishment," who are about to "let loose aIl the powers
.of the ,,,aters . in order to judgment and destruction on aIl
who dwell on earth," are commanded by "the Lord of Spirits" "to hold
the waters in check" and not let loose the de luge until Noah has
enough time ta build an Ark. \.Jith regard ta II Baruch 6: 4-5, which
may be contemporary }J9-th the Apocalypse Charles states:
Here we have f&Gr angels standing at the four corners
of Jerusalem, ready ta destroy it, and a fifth anRel
bids them pause and not destroy it until the
vessels of the Temple were secured and hidden at.DY.
earth or the sea," is de1ayed for a specifie reason. The servants
of 'must first be sea1ed.
, f d' h ' , 86 d
The sea lng 0 Go s servants ensures t elr preservatlon, an
" a1so marks them as God,' s ,\vitnesses. 87 The sea1ed in Revelation are
the followers of the Lamb (14:lf.). The number of the redeemed,
12,000 from each of the !welve Tribes of Israel (7:4-8), interprets
the great multitude invisioned in Rev.7:9-l0:
After this 1 looked, and behold, a great multitude which
no man could number, from every nation, from aIl tribes
peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and be-
fore the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches
in their hands,' and crying out with a loud voiee, "Sal-
vation belongs to our God who sits uron the throlile, and
to the 'Lamb!" .,
The numbering 0 f this mul tl tude Is sytnbolic ("which no man can num-

ber") It represents the multitu1e as the reeonstituted Israel; the
people ef God are gathered together
made complete.. Significantly the
from and have been
people of comprised both
.... 86See Rev.14:4b; Cf. Swete, p.99; Collins, Combat My th, p.34.

88 . -,
Swete, p.99; Charles, Revelation vol.l, p.200; Preston and 1
Hanson, p.83; Lilje, p.134; Beasley-Murray, Revelation, pp.143-l44;
Sweet, p.149-1Sl.
Caird, pp.94-99, argues tnat the 144,000 represent only the
martyrs among Christians, while Kiddle and Ross, pp.13-137,
the 144,000 as a symbolic representation of the "great mu"ltitude" of
7:9f. which together represent the Chureh. Charles argues that
the 144,000 represents the. "spiritual Israel" (Revelation vol.l, pp.
199-200) though this "Israel" only includes the present generation of
believers, firs t fs militant on earth, 7: 1-8, and next as triumphant
in heaven, 7:9-17 (p.199). A. Feullet, "Les 144,000 Isralits
d'un Sceau," Novum Tes t'amen tum 9 (1967) pp. 205-224, argues that the

of Jews and Gentiles. The two visions of Rev.7 (1-8, 9-17) represent
the Church Catholic as the Israel of God.
Revelation 7:9-17 is a vision of the redemption awaiting the
people of God; it shows the
Church that for which she is being pre-
served (sealed). The vision of the multitude standing before God and
the Lamb in white roqes is' a vision of the Parousia and the general
resurrection of the dead.
Its placement in the text an
. i . f h P . 91 cl h" hi h
ant1c pat10n ote arOUS1a, an as Suc 1t 1S not an event w C
the of the seventh seai. Chronology is superceded
by eschatology. After explaining the reason for the delay, John
prQvides the Church with a quick glance 'at what she can expect when
the delay is finally over. John's underlying purpose behind writing

number r{'!presents' the fai thful remant, Jews who lITill be redeemed at
the consummation tO$ether with the Gentile Church
represented by the _"great multitude." Definitive interpretation of
Rev.7 may rcmain elusive. The adopted study seems
warranted in view of the interpretation of Rev put forth above.
John is addressing the si tt}ation of the whole Church in view of the
delay of the Parousia.
Swete, p.99; Sweet, pp.147,151.
Cf. Lilje, pp.136-138.

92This i8 an example of John' 8 literary technique: interlocking
visions and recapitulation. The two visions of Rev.7 provide further
links (Coll ins, Combat Hyth, pp .16 f f. exaniincs the use .of the inter-
locking device at other points in the book.) between_ the two "greater
visionary cycles" (see n. 74). The 144.000 appear again in Rev.14,
and 7:9-17 is one of severa1 points in the book where John ant.icipates
the final consummation before describing the Parousia proper in Rev.
19:1lff. (e.g. 11:15-19).
" ..
. 144 .'

the this break in chrOnOlOgy"
l d

ypse is not meant to provi e a step by ste,. description of the
end-time. It was wtitten ta bo1ster tlfe faith of Churches in which
eschatological hope tlad been lost Signiflcantly, the of
t-h,e 'seventh whlch inaugurates the of the seven trum-
pets, is coterminous with the de1ay. It is referred to again between
. 93
(10:6). The net re- the sounding of seventh
. " t "
suIt of 1 S portryal of of the Parousia is thar it is
an important-raIe jn the unfolding of eschato1ogical events.
The time elapsed during th aelay itself
significant; it means the of Cod's face
d b d b l h f
h' d '1 94 h h
of ou t cause y. the engt 0 tee ay, Jo argues t at the
li "
de1ay'is part of Cod's plan for ,the end-time and should, therefore,
not -be a reason for doubt.
'The fits, therefore, among those traditions in the
.ear}.,y Church which reso1ve the ptob1em of the non-occurrence of the
,hO ../ ::>
,.f l..
9{The sO'unding of the first through seventh trumpets constitute
the eschatologiea1 crisis for which the Church has been sea1ed (cf.
Rev.3:10). This time is the interim between the fall of Jerusalem
and the final ecmsummation, revealed wi th the sounding ot' the seventh
trumpet. The "seond great cycle" of visions .(the little scra!'l, Rev
"10-20; Collins, Combat Hyth, pp. 26-32) interprets' (recapitulates)
this periad in terms of the Church's confrontation with the beast
- The "intercalation," or
John' s though t. They are not
by the combination of
pauses, in the text are integral ta
necessarily haphazard interruptions
variaus traditions; see Lambrecht, pp.
94Cf "the doubter,s" in II and l Clem.23:3-5
. "'---
, 1

Parousia by teaching that i t is being delayed by God according to
His eternal purposes. Similar to l Enoch 66-67, the delay is the
manner ,;Ln which God provides the' time necessary to secure His people
and. preserve them from destruction. As in II Peter the delay
is seen as, a mark of God' s compassion.
Once the Church was reconciled to the idea that the l
may lie far in the future, there was a danger that
lose thei r' awareness of an eschat ological communi ty, that is
a 'people who have a particular role in God's plan for the consumma-
tion of the age. This in turn could remove or weaken the eschato-
logical motivation for pursuing a life proper to those who would be
" followers of the Lamb.
John provides a vision which allows believers to see the
eschatological significance of the Church's situation.
An aspect of tt/s apocalyptic perspective iS, the expansion of the
temporal framework within which eschatological events can occur.
This expanded perception of the apocalyptic age, the "last days, Il
;i.s illustrated weIl in the vision of the seven seals. The end-time
begins when the Lamb, who is worthy, takes the scroll from the one
sitting on the throne (Rev.5). His worthiness stems from the fact
that he was slain (5: 9). The end-time, it seems, begun with
the crucifixion. It subsequently includes the events represent-
ed with the opening of the first six seals; these have
already been in the preceding and including
the fall of Jerusalem. The fact that only the seventh seaI remains
95See pp. 46-50 above.
heightens the of the nearness of the end. However, the time
required for the manifestation of the events represented by the
seventh seal is indefinite;96 it includes the sounding of the seven
b trumpets. Significant1y, the end-time spans 'a considerable number
of years qnd the reader has been prepared for a further indefinite
period before the Parousia i tse1f
, ., .
Another example of John' s apoca1yptic perspect1ve is found in
his use of traditions regarding the eschatological dversary. A
brief comparison , ... i th the adversary in II Thess.2 'tl7i11 c1arify John' s

perspective. In II Thess.2 the "Anti-Christ
is portrayed as a
single figure which will be defeated by "the Lor,d Jesus" at His Par-
ousia. It emb odies both the charac teristics of a mythological
archetype of evil and of a human figure. Revelation 13 portrays
the .eschatological adversary in t.erms of two beasts. One e!llbodies
the characterist:i.cs of a mythologica1 figure (13: 1-10; 7-14),
while the other is expressly identifled with a human (13:18).
The two beasts taken together account for the characteristics em-
'bodied in the Thessalonian "man of lawlessness. ,,98 The first beast
1) usurps the perogatives of divinity (13:4-6), and
"'2) is empO\o/ered by Satan (13: 2 ,4a).
96The eschatology of the Apocalypse is not a " t i!1leless";(one.
There are numerous tempora.l references: Il:2,3; 12:6, 12,14. Sweet,
p.l82, argues that these references represent a "divinely limited
period of oppression," time given over to Satan's activity (p.204);
cf. Swetei p.l34, 'Charles Revelation vol.l, pp.279,32l, Collins,
Comba t My th, p.
97 See pp. 40-41 ab ove.
p.' (
'The second beas t
3) cornes with fa1se signs and wonders (13:13),
4) deceives (13:14),
5) causes those who do not love the truth (or do not have the
sea1 of God) to perish (14:9Lll). 99
John has identified the "Anti-Christ" with Rome. The first
beast in Rev.13, which is identical to the beast in Rev.l7, i8 to be
identified with the Roman state. The second beast (13:11-18,
14 :9-11) is a human tool of the first beast; it "exercises aIl the
authority of the first beast in its presence" (13:12). The second
beast probab1y refers to anyone \.Tho exercises the power of the Roman
John accomplishes two important things by identifying the escha-
tological adversary with Rome: (1) He makes the Church' s confronta-
tion with Rome eschatologically significant;, (2) The role of the
adversary':i.n divine plan now encompasses many figures over a long
period of time. Host commentators interpret the seven heads of the
Vos, p.lOS, may be, correct when arguing that the two
tions of the eschatological adversary are gronded in the same oral
100Swete, p.16lf.; Charles, Revelation vol.l, pp.332-368; Caird,
p.161-l77; Revelation, pp.206-22l, S\..reet, pp.206-219;
Collins," Combat Hyth, pp.157-l90.
10lSwete, p .161; Charles, Revelation vol. l, pp. 332-357; Caird
pp.106-170; Beasley-Nurray, Revelation, pp.206-2lS; Collins, Combat
Hyth, pp.161-l65; S\V'eet, pp.206-213.
Apocalypse; cf. Combat Hyth, pp .165-170; Beasley..:.
Hurray, Revelation, p.207,2lS-221. Charles, Revelation vol.l, pp.
333, 357f., identifies the second beast with "the imperial cult; ': 50
too Caird, pp.171-1n.
first beast as references ta various Roman emperors. Regardless
of the precise identity of each head, the fact that they together
comprise the "Anti-Christ" presents an altogether different picture
than the one presented in II Thessaionians. The readers of II Thes-
sa10nians wouid expect a single figure ta do battie with the "Lord
\Jesus" on the future Day of the Lord. The readers of the Apocalypse
are toid that the "Anti-Christ" has come, and is manifest in Rome.
The activity of the "Anti-Christ" encompasses an empire, including
its social, religious, and political institutions. It is the defeat
of the City of Man that is the subject of the dirge in Rev.18. The
Church does not await Christ' s battle with Satan, but is herself
John' s description of the raIe of the "Anti-Christ'l has sorne
simi1ari ties to !:he one in l John 2: l8f. The reade rs are told "rnany
Auti-Christs have come." These "Anti-Christs", probably iuclude many
of the author's opponents. This same attitude tmvard the opponents
of the'Church cau also be observed in the Pastoral epistles and
' .
Swete, pp.220f.; Charles, Revelation vol.2, pp.67-87;
Caird, pp.216-22; Revelation pp.256-257; Collins,
Combat Hyth, pp. 170-190; S\veet, pp.255-258.
.. See Bultmann, J ohannine F:
"The Authority ta bccame Children
pp.35-36; a1so J. Lieu,
Novum Testamentum 23 (1981),
105See l Tim.4:lf.; II Tim.3:lff; Jude 17-19. Cf. F. \\lisse, "The
Epistle of Jude in the Hist"'ory of Heresiology," Essays on Nag Harrunadi
Texts {n Honour of Alexander Boh1ig. Rd. by M. Krause. Nag Hammadi
Studies 3, ed. by H. Krause et. al. (Leiden: E.J. Bril1, 1972) p.142.
In these writings the presence of false teachers indicate that "it
is the last hour;" the present thus takes on eschatological signifi-
canee ,and believers should act accordingly.
So also, in the Apocalypse the Church's confrontation with Rome
15 presented as part of the cosmic battle between good and evil. The
Parousia will bring final victory to a conflict that is now raging
in this world.
John' s vision allotvs the Church to understand herself in terms
of God's redemptive plan for the consurnmation of t ~ e age. The delay
in spite of its duration ls part of God' 8 plan. These "last days"
have extended over a period of many years and may take many more.
The 1ength of time should not concern the Church; no matter hm ... long
the struggle takes the t8chatologicai battie against evil is being
fought now. The Church has a specifie role to play in the defeat of
this evi1, the beast. The Church ls presently engaged in the tribu-
lation and conflict of the end-time. She i8 in exile; she sojourps
in the wilderness (Rev.12:6,14i. Pain, disappointment, the deaths
of Holy Hartyrs, and the sacrifices of aIl the fol10wers of' the Lamb
are elements of the eschatological battle tvhiJh' has engulfed this
106 '
Cf. Rev.12:9,13f.
1 0 ~ .
Depending on which Roman emperor i5 represen ted by the first
head of the beast in Rev.17, the Day of the Lord is aheady 20-100
years long. Cf. II Pet.3:8.
. (
,. ,
. " ,
ge. John provides a vision of hope and the motivation to grasp at
this hope. John's prophecy promises the reconciliation of God with
His people. He promises a new creation and the descent of the c.ity
of God.
And l saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming clown
out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned
for her husband; and l heard a loud 'voice fr:om the
throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is wi th
men. He will dwell wi th them- nd they shall be his
people, and God himself will be with them; he will
wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall
be no more, neither shall there be ncr crying
nor pain any more, for the former things have passed
away. , <CC
108, .
Revelation 21:2-4.
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