Tuesday, December 13, 2011
What and when were the last days according to the New Testament writers? Could theologians get it wrong for 1800+ years? Part II
A while back I posed this question; Could theologians get it wrong for 1800+ years? I would like to continue with a series that will show biblical evidence that they did get it wrong. First off, we should really take into consideration the intended readership… i.e., the audience that the New Testament authors targeted. Who was the New Testament written to and for? It is fairly well accepted that the gospels were written to specific communities and the epistles identify their intended audience.
We all too often just assume that it was written to us in the twenty-first century and this is especially the case when it comes to references to the last days or the end of the age. However, the text does not back that idea up at all. When you look at the epistles to Timothy, Paul distinctly states that he is in fact writing to Timothy (2Tim 1:1-8.) This means that the entire epistle is written to Timothy. While it is true that others can benefit from what Paul wrote to Timothy it is clear that one must acknowledge that Paul wrote the letter to Timothy.
So then, when Paul addresses Timothy in Chapter three warning him that in the last days difficult times will come he is specifically speaking of the last days that will come to pass in the life of Timothy. It is a mistake to push this message out 2000 years beyond Timothy’s life and the occasion for the writing of the letter. In other words, the distortion of the scripture and the selfish messages of the false teachers teaching false doctrine is a phenomenon that Timothy must deal with. You can see this theme throughout both epistles written to Timothy. It is abundantly clear in 1Tim 1:3-4: “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, (4) nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” The epistle to Timothy was meant to combat and counteract problems that had already arisen.
When Paul writes “But know this; difficult times will come in the last days” he is telling Timothy that he is going to see the last days of the end of the age. I have written many posts in previous blogs that shows the imminent expectation of the end of the age in all of the New Testament writings. Just search imminence or imminent in the search function of the blog and you will see a plethora of these posts. The imminence began with John the Baptist telling the Pharisees that the axe was already at the root… it was foretold by Jesus reference to the withering fig tree… the end of the age that they were looking forward to was the end of the Mosaic age. It was predicted that it would be concurrent with the destruction of the temple.
I want to show with the next few posts that when one pushes the end of the age… the last days… out two thousand years they end up doing violence to the clear meaning of the text and what was written. Here we take a beginning look at the imminency that is so prevalent in all of the New Testament.
What will this series of posts do for us? Hopefully it will help us certify the fact that the New Testament writings were transitional while the temple still stood and that the transition between the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law Economy) and the New Covenant (New Heaven and Earth) has completely taken place and that the only covenant in operation today from God’s view is the New Covenant.
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