Sir, An esteemed writer of Bible notes for a leading Christian organization, commenting on 1 Corinthians 7:25-31, with integrity, that the Lord’s return was imminent, ie it was set to occur in the lifetime of some of those to whom Paul ministered. But then the writer, disturbingly, went on to assert that the inspired apostle was actually wring, the second coming was somehow delayed so that it was still awaited 2,000 years later.
This situation certainly set the alarm bells ringing although, sadly, many Christians have a measure of sympathy with the writer’s opinion, not really understanding the nature and timing of the return. However, Paul did often repeat his fundamental message of the imminence in other epistles and in Acts and this truth was further reinforced in the teaching of Jesus himself together with that of Peter, John, James and the author of Hebrews. In fact, a substantial part of the New Testament was taken up with genuine anticipation and eagerness regarding the nearness of the second coming, which was consistently predicted to transpire in that particular generation.
It is impossible for the Son of God and Holy Spirit-directed apostles to be wrong in any part of Scripture, all of which is God-breathed and profitable. Christians, therefore, who do not accept the Word of God, in parts, to suggest that the return actually failed to happen then, are those that are culpable – this stance needs to change.
Believers must always accord authority and supremacy to Scripture and never to the claims or ideas of fallible humans. There is thus the most heavy onus on each Christian who is responsible for instructing others, either directly or by the printed page etc, and especially so in the critical field of eschatology. The New Testament warmly intimates that the believer, at death, is immediately with Christ in glory, fully equipped and clothed in their new eternal body – without any delay or waiting.