In this article, I would like to explore some of the First Century Prophecies made by both our Lord Himself and by several of His Inspired Apostles and Writers of the New Covenant Scriptures. These will be prophecies that address the timing of our Lord's Second Coming, which is also referred to as His "Parousia (Presence, Coming, Arrival)!"
I would like to begin by citing eight of these prophecies from Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible. There is, I believe, a definite benefit in using a "literal" translation, for the simple fact that it is more of a "word for word" representation of the original Greek text. It seems only logical to me that this process would be somewhat of a safeguard against a translator's leaning toward a particular view on any Bible subject! The results, I believe, would represent more accurately the message being conveyed by our Father!
My reason for citing these passages as they are in the original text is for one purpose and that is: To draw our attention to the "imminency" of our Lord's Promised Parousia which literally pervades our Father's Word, woven like a fine linen thread through every one of these passages. But please judge that for yourselves as we take a close look at some of these passages.
I have already expressed on another occasion, that for many years, when studying the Inspired Writings, it was my practice to view them from the perspective of a 20th and 21st Century Disciple. While it is true that the New Covenant Scriptures were indeed written "for" all Disciples for all times, what I failed to keep in mind was that they were actually written "to" those Disciples of the First Century. The same is also true of the words our Master personally spoke while on the earth. They were actually spoken to those folks of His Own generation. But you see, I failed to keep in mind that those words spoken and/or written therein, had to mean something, first and foremost, to the folks to whom they were personally spoken and/or written. And for this reason, I have since come to view them through the mind and eyes of a First Century Disciple. And by so doing, those writings now come into much clearer focus for me than previously.
Now if you would be so kind, please take note of some of those passages, and especially of their imminent nature. As already suggested, I will begin with those from Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible.
Matthew 16:27-28 - "For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father, with his messengers, and then he will reward each, according to his work. Verily I say to you, there are certain of those standing here who shall not taste of death till they may see the Son of man coming in his reign."
Acts 17:31- "...because He did set a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom He did ordain, having given assurance to all, having raised him out of the dead."
Acts 24:15 - "...having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for (that) there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of the righteous and the unrighteous."
Acts 24:25 - "...and he, reasoning concerning righteousness, and
temperance, and the judgment that is about to be, Felix, having become afraid,
answered, 'for the present, be going, and having got time, I will call for thee'..."
2 Timothy 4:1 - "I do fully testify, then, by the Lord Jesus Christ, who is about to judge living and dead, at his manifestation and his reign..."
Hebrews 1:14 - "...are they not all spirits of service, for ministration being sent forth because of those about to inherit salvation?"
Hebrews 10:27 - "...but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery zeal about to judge the opposers…"
1 Peter 5:1 - "Elders who are among you, I exhort, who (am) a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ; and the glory about to be revealed, a partaker." In each of the above eight passages, we can clearly see an unmistakable expression of imminency in the phrase "about to." This expression is the translation of a little Greek word "mello" or one of its derivatives employed in the original Greek text. Please notice what the linguists and lexicographers say about this little word "mello."
1. Vine's Theological Dictionary, p. 205. Under "come" he says: "to be about (to do something), often implying the necessity and therefore the certainty of what is about to take place..."
2. Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon, p. 396: "to be about to do anything"; "on the point of." Mr. Thayer lists several secondary usages but always maintains its primary significance.
3. The Analytical Greek Lexicon p. 262: "To be about; to be on the point of...it serves to express in general, a settled futurity..."
4. Bauer--Arndt--Gingrich, Second Edition, p. 500 "denotes certainty that an event will take place," They then say this: "to be on the point of; to be about to..."
5. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, #3195: "to be about to be, do, or suffer something."
In addition to these linguistic facts about the Greek word "mello," there are a number of other New Testament passages that include additional prophetic statements about Christ's Second Coming that were either spoken by the Lord Jesus or written by His Inspired Apostles and Writers. Even though these passages are taken from the New American Standard Bible, I believe you will see that the "imminency" in both their subject matter and application are remarkably clear! Here are those passages:
Malachi 4:1-6 - Here, the last of the Old Testament Prophets, spoke of the great and wonderful yet terrible day of the Lord, which not only would bring final judgment on the Old Covenant World (national Israel), city (Jerusalem), and the temple; but would, at the same time, bring in the New Jerusalem, the New Heavens and Earth, the New "Spiritual" Israel which is the New Temple of the Lord our God [See also Isaiah 65-66].
In Malachi 4:1-6, The Lord said,  "For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff, and the day that is coming will set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.  But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in it's wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.  And you will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing, says the Lord of hosts.  Remember the Law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.  Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.  And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse?"
Isn't it also remarkable that the second Elijah (John the Baptist), when he would come, would herald this very "great and terrible day of The Lord," which was imminent in his day [Matthew 3:2, 7, 10-12]? This would also be the same Judgment prophesied by Joel in Joel 2:28-32, and quoted by the Apostle Peter on Pentecost in Acts 2:17-21; the Judgment which was to come in those last days of the Old Covenant World.
Matthew 10:23 - "But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes."
Please keep in mind; these words were spoken only to Jesus' Disciples in the First Century!
Matthew 19:28 - "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." This was, of course, spoken directly to His Apostles and to them only!
Matthew 24:34 - "Truly I say to you, this generation shall not pass till all these things take place."
Some Bible students understand verses 35-51 in this chapter to speak of a time yet in our future (as I also once believed). However, since Jesus spoke these words to His Apostles only, causes me to ask: Just how would those Apostles have understood their Lord? Also, the same things expressed in vss. 35-51 are parallel with what Jesus had to say to the Pharisees in Luke 17:20-37 on this same matter. And it sounds unmistakably clear from the Lukan passage, that Jesus is speaking of "the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70."
Luke 21:32 - "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."
Luke 21:36 - "But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." Once again, since these things were spoken only to His Apostles, wouldn't they have understood them as instructions for them, in the First Century?
Romans 13:11-12 - "And this do, knowing the time that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep, for now salvation is nearer to us that when we believed; the night is almost gone, and the day is at hand…"
At this point, I would like to pause for just a moment and ask a question. Let's just suppose that you and I were living in that First Century generation, and we heard these things from Jesus and read these things from Paul and other Inspired Writers. The question is: Would it even enter our minds, the notion that these prophecies did not apply to us, but rather that they were intended for Disciples 2,000 years down the way, and counting? I believe to ask that question is also to answer it!
Please consider this also: The day, which Paul says was then presently "at hand"; are we, today, supposed to believe that it was not really "at hand" but was intended for Disciples 20 centuries in the future? I'm sure you can see my point. Please let us continue.
1 Corinthians 1:7-8 - "...so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly, the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
It just really doesn't seem plausible to me that the Apostle Paul would declare that these First Century Christians at Corinth were "eagerly awaiting" the revelation of The Lord Jesus, were it not the case; surely, Paul would not declare something that was not true! It's interesting here, that Paul did not say Christ would confirm them "till the day of their deaths" but rather "to the end" ( i.e., to the end of the age; the end of the Old Covenant World - emphasis mine-jg).
1 Corinthians 10:11 - "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our (i.e., Paul's and the Corinthians'-jg) instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."
Galatians 1:4 - "...who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us (Paul and the Galatians-jg) out of this present evil age (the age in which Paul and the Galatians were presently living, namely, the Old Covenant Age - emphasis mine-jg)."
Ephesians 4:30 - "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
These First Century Disciples were not only given the Holy Spirit, but were given the Spirit in a "miraculous" measure as evidence of that fact. And this Gift of the Holy Spirit was given to these First Century Disciples as a pledge, earnest, down payment, or deposit till their full redemption, which would soon follow on the day of redemption - at the revelation (Parousia-jg) of Jesus.
Please let us not forget what Jesus said to His Apostles in Luke 21:28. In this passage, He was giving His Olivet Discourse to them regarding the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, when He would come with the clouds of Heaven. In that verse he declares to them:
"But when you see these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Isn't that exciting? Now, concerning the "earnest of the Spirit," please see also Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5.
The Apostle Peter also wrote to his First Century fellow Disciples regarding this soon-coming Day of Redemption. In 1 Peter 1:4-5, he spoke of their salvation as "an inheritance," and that this salvation was ready to be revealed.
He said:"…to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time."
Philippians 3:20 - "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we (Paul and the Philippians-jg) eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if Jesus was not to come for another 20 centuries, would Paul have dared mislead these Disciples by saying that he and they were "eagerly awaiting" Him?
Philippians 4:5 - "Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near (at hand - KJV)."
Dearly Beloved, if "at hand" here does not mean just that (imminent), then, I just have to confess that I am at a total loss to explain this passage!
1 Thessalonians 5:23 - "Now may the God of Peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
What is so intriguing and interesting here to me is that Paul speaks of the preservation of not only the "spirits and souls" of these Thessalonian Disciples, but also their bodies, till the"coming of our Lord Jesus." I believe that a fair question here would be: "If Jesus was not to return for more than 2,000 years, why then would Paul be praying that their physical lives be spared until the Lord's coming (His Parousia)?
1 Timothy 6:14 - "...that you keep the commandments without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."
It is very interesting here, that Paul did not say, "Timothy, I want you to keep the commandments until you DIE." No, no, He said, "until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." This seems to beg the question: If Paul was not expecting Timothy to still be living at the return of the Lord Jesus, why would he exhort him to keep the commandments "until the appearing of our Lord Jesus?"
2 Timothy 4:1 - "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge (mello - about to- jg) the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His Kingdom."
In this passage, Jay P. Green's Literal Translation renders it, "is about to judge."
Titus 2:13 - "...looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our Great God and Savior, Christ Jesus!"
From this passage, I am also persuaded that Paul was expecting Titus to also still be alive when Jesus returned.
Hebrews 8:13 - "When He said, A new covenant, He has made the first (covenant-jg) obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old, is ready to disappear."
Here in about A.D. 64-65, from the pen of The Hebrews Scribe, we see that the Old Covenant, even though the Writer says it was becoming old (present tense) and becoming obsolete (present tense), the tenses of the verbs here indicate that it had not yet fully passed away.
Hebrews 9:8-9 - "The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing." Which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience…"
In this verse, I understand the Writer to be explaining to those First Century Jewish believers, that one of the things which still stood in the way of the consummation of the perfected New Covenant Kingdom, was the fact that the Old Covenant Temple still stood with its earthly, typical "holy of holies," and fleshly priesthood who still offered animal sacrifices which could never take away sins (See also Hebrews 11:11). However, all of that would soon be removed, as once more The Lord would shake, not only the earth as He did at Sinai, but He would shake the Heavens as well (the Old Covenant Heaven and Earth), and he said it would be for one reason…so that all that would then remain would be the things which could NOT be shaken viz., the glorious, perfected, and eternal Kingdom of The Lord Jesus Christ [Hebrews 12:18-29].
Hebrews 9:28 - "…so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."
Wow! O what a declaration! Clearly, these First Century Hebrew Disciples were eagerly awaiting that second appearing of their Master, and why? Because that was to be the time at which He would fully consummate their salvation. I don't know how deeply you may have considered this, but it should be noted here, that confirming and fulfilling the promises Yahweh had made to the fathers of Israel was a great part of the work of the Christ! Just watch the power of Paul's words in Romans 15:8, which he wrote in about A.D. 58: "For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision (Israel-jg) on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers " (Israelite fathers-jg. See also Matthew 10:5-7; 15:24).
In light of the above facts of Scripture, I would simply ask this: Did Jesus keep God's Promise of "salvation" for the righteous remnant of Israel, for which the Hebrews Writer says they were "eagerly awaiting," or did He fail them? Let us not forget what He, in Luke 21:33, told His Apostles would come to pass at the fall of Jerusalem in that then-present generation. He had just said in verse 28: "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption (salvation-jg) is drawing near."
James 5:8-9 - "You too, be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge (is) standing right at the door."
Here, James, who also wrote in A.D. 64-65, warned that the coming of the Lord was already "at hand"; that He was even "at the door!" Please forgive me, dear reader, but I really must ask another pertinent question here: Had you and I lived in the First Century, and were among the recipients of this Epistle, do you think we would have reasoned that these words of admonition from the brother of our Master, were meant for us in that generation? Or do you suppose that we may have simply shrugged our shoulders and flippantly declared, "Oh no, these words are not meant for us, but rather for those Disciples 20 centuries in the future?" Really, I believe we already know the answer to that question!
1 Peter 1:4-5 - "...to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
I believe the "salvation," which Paul had mentioned to the Roman church [Romans 13:11-12], as "being nearer than when they first believed," Peter declares to be "ready to be revealed in the last time," which was during the closing days of the age in which they were living, namely, the Old Covenant Age.
1 Peter 4:5 - "But they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."
Here, Peter, again, says that the Judge (Jesus) was "ready" to Judge.
1 Peter 4:7 - "The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer."
This is very interesting in light of what Jesus said to His Apostles in Matthew 24:34 and Luke 21:32. In both of those passages, Jesus, speaking of those days, said: "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place."
1 Peter 4:17 - "For it is time for (the) Judgment to begin with the household of God…"
Linguists tell us that in the original text, the definite article "the" appears before "judgment" which, obviously, would indicate "the judgment."
Revelation 1:1 - "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place…"
Revelation 1:3 - Regarding the Apocalypse, John said, "...heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near."
Revelation 2:17 - To the church at Pergamum: "Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly…"
Revelation 2:25 - To the church at Thyatira: "Nevertheless what you have, hold fast till I come."
Here it should be noted that Jesus did not say for the Disciples at Thyatira to hold fast "till they die," but rather, "till I come." Also, if they (the Thyatirans) were to hold fast "until Jesus came," and since the city of Thyatira has been gone for nearly 20 centuries now, how could Jesus command them to "hold fast till He would come," if He did not come during the time of their existence, i.e., the First Century? Surely, we wouldn't dare claim that Jesus did not keep His promise to them, would we? But of course not!
Revelation 3:3 - To the church at Sardis: "I will come like a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."
Revelation 3:10 - To the church at Philadelphia: "...the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world (Roman World-jg), to test those who dwell upon the earth (land-jg). I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown."
All of these churches we have just cited, are "no more," and have been for a long, long time. Since this is an indisputable fact, could Jesus' admonitions to them really have been for any other time than the First Century? You be the judge!
Revelation 22:6 - The angel to John - "...to show His (God's) bond-servants the things which must shortly take place. And behold, I am coming quickly."
Revelation 22:10 - Again, the angel to John: "...do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near."
Revelation 22:12 - "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to render to every man according to what he has done" [See also Matthew 16:27-28].
Revelation 22:20 - "He who testifies to these things says, I am coming quickly…"
You may recall that in chapter 1, the First Century recipients of this Epistle were told in verses 1 and 3, that these were things which they could expect to "shortly take place," for "the time was at hand," said the Lord! And now, here in this final chapter [chapter 22], the angel, again, tells John in verses 6 and 10, that these were things which "must shortly take place." Moreover, the angel also told him to not seal up the vision because "the time was at hand." And then, our Master, again, says in verses 7, 12, and 20, that He was "coming quickly," and that "His reward was with Him."
So, there we have it, a few of the First Century prophecies in the New Testament Scriptures that address the nearness of a great and notable series of events that were soon to take place. And I am persuaded that these things came to pass in the lifetime of many of those to whom our Lord spoke and to whom the Apostles spoke and wrote. In the face of all the many passages we have examined, which show an "imminent" return of Jesus in the First Century, still there are Disciples today, who understand His coming to be yet in our future. First, please let me say that I would never be critical of those Disciples, because for many years, that was my understanding as well. The reason for that was because it was my understanding that the "nature" of His Second Coming would be a "physical" coming as opposed to a "spiritual" coming.
Permission granted by the author, Jim Gunter, who may be contacted at: email@example.com. Jim and his wife Gloria have been Full Preterist Believers since 2002. The Holy Spirit has inspired Jim to write numerous articles as a freelancer to God's Praise, Honor and Glory. Those wishing to be placed on Jim's mailing list, may subscribe via his e-mail. All Scripture texts - unless otherwise indicated - are quoted from the NEW AMERICAN
STANDARD BIBLE® (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The
Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Inserted explanations by the author are indicated as (-jg). This article may be printed in its entirety for personal study and free distribution, but never to be sold as Jesus Christ said, "The Kingdom of Heaven [He Himself] is at hand ... freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:7-8).