Jesus Predicted the End of the World For His Generation
The early churches had a crucial belief: The end of the world was coming. Soon.
In the gospels, Jesus’ apocalyptic prophesies are woven beautifully into his parables and declared outright to the crowds. His message was clear: they had better be ready. The ‘Kingdom of God’ was at hand.
A decade or so after Jesus’ execution by the Romans, Paul of Tarsus journeyed the regions of Asia Minor and Macedonia with a similar belief underpinning all his teaching along the way; Jesus was coming back.
There are many different interpretations of Jesus’ words and deeds, and even more so, of the Bible itself. This article is to offer my perspective as a student of history and as someone who was an evangelical Christian for thirty years before revising my belief. Mine is not a unique perspective, and the following factors have been raised by many scholars.
As context, I approach the gospel stories as similar to the stories of the New Testament Apocrypha, filled with as much careful fiction as fact. Stories that were written as a tribute to the rabbi whom many around the Roman Empire had come to worship, but had never met. I write more about this in a previous article.
How do we separate the fact from the fiction? How can we know which parts happened and which parts are inspirational tales? It’s complicated and depends on your perspective, but it’s fun detective work — at least for me!
So, both Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus thought the end times were coming soon. Here’s the thing though — they thought this was going to happen within the next few decades of the first century CE. Paul’s letters to his churches make this clear. Believers were to live faultlessly and encourage one another in the belief.
Because nothing else mattered now.
Was it the End of the World?
Sitting here, reading this, you know that the answer is a big handful of nopes.
It was not.
Jesus’ apocalyptic beliefs weren’t eccentric for the superstitious culture and discontented time he was…