Project Documents

Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Second Advisor

Bruce L. Bauer

Third Advisor

W. Larry Richards

Abstract

Problem

The problem of the delay of the Parousia is one of the central problems of the Christian faith. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church it usually takes the form of a short delay (100+ years), whereas among New Testament scholars it takes the form of a long delay (1900+ years). This study seeks to shed light on the problem as perceived by New Testament scholars.

Method

In order to delve deeply into the meaning of a handful of cruxes in the New Testament having to do with the imminence of the Parousia, the study attempted to examine all of the eschatology-related material in the Old and New Testaments and in Jewish and Christian literature between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200. This required an examination of over 2,000 passages. This study focused primarily on the original sources, and only secondarily on secondary literature.

Conclusion

In the course of this research some forgotten trajectories were uncovered in early Christianity that enable us to make better sense of difficult passages such as Matt 24, 2 Thess 2, and even Rom 11. There is evidence of widespread belief around the turn of the era that the messianic kingdom was about to come. This belief was based on the timetables of Dan 7 and 9. Jesus tapped into this expectation with His proclamation that "the time has come; the kingdom of God is near" (Mark 1:15), a probable allusion to Dan 7:22, "the time had come for the saints to receive the kingdom." It appears that the earliest Christians were expecting a heavenly kingdom on earth as promised in the OT, and that this restorationist theology never died out of the church until the third century. The failure of the kingdom to appear in its fullness at the end of the seventy weeks can be explained by reference to numerous Old Testament parallels involving conditional prophecies that remained unfulfilled in the light of disobedience on the part of God’s people.

Subject Area

Second Advent--History of doctrines; Bible--Prophecies--History of doctrines; Eschatology

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