Who is the Bible written to? This probably seems an odd question to ask. Surely, the Bible was written to us who are studying it today. Generation after generation has interpreted the Bible as if it were written directly to them. Generation after generation has watched and waited for the signs, believing perhaps they are living in the last of days; in the days of vengeance in which all things which are written may be fulfilled. Indeed, wars, rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes never fail to stir up a fresh end-of-time frenzy. Even now we find ourselves on the very brink of December 21 2012, and some wonder: could this be the much anticipated end? Traditional Christianity will never leave this mindset until it recognizes the Bible was not written to us, but was left behind for us; so
that we might understand the beauty and grace of the age in which we live today. Much of this beloved book we call The Bible was written to the first century believers, pre AD 70, who were indeed living in the last days. This much is self evident in verses like the following:
Romans 1:7 “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called
to be saints…”
1 Cor 1:2 “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to
those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in
every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”
2 Cor 1:1 “Paul, and apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of
God and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all
the saints who are in all Achaia:”
Galatians 1:1 “Paul, and apostle (not from men nor through
man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead),
and all the brethren who are with me. To the churches of Galatia:”
Ephesians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will
of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus
Christ. To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Phillippi, with the
bishops and deacons.”
Colossians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will
of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ
who are in Colosse:”
1 Thess 1:1 “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the Church of
the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:”
2 Thess 1:1 “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the Church of
the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:”
1 Timothy 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the
commandment of God our Savior and the lord Jesus Christ our hope, To Timothy, a
true son in the faith:”
Philemon 1:1 “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy
our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved
Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:”
Revelation 1:4 “John, to the seven churches which are in
At this point I would hope it is obvious these books were not written to us living today. Yet traditional Christianity reads, studies, and interprets scripture as if it were. In doing so, a grave misdeed is done to the Word of God. The student of sound mind upon recognizing this fact will allow his or her interpretation of the text to be guided by what the words meant to the original audience. What were their beliefs and when did they expect the fulfillment of the words contained within? This single thought should always be on the forefront of our minds, as we study eschatology. I cannot enough stress the importance of interpreting scripture in view of the relevance to the original audience. In doing so one can come to fully understand the beautiful message of the Bible.
I wake up thankful every day. I am thankful to the Lord for all He has done, for the knowledge that I do not now, nor will ever, live in the last days. I am thankful for the knowledge that we live in an age without end, and I am thankful for the peace and confidence I have in this life. I am thankful for our finished salvation, and that salvation is a gift of God, and not something we could ever achieve by our own works. How wonderful to know it is the faith of Christ that saves us. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The fact of the matter is traditional Christianity has spent nearly 2,000 years earnestly seeking and looking toward the last day. Sadly, they seek that which has come and gone. In looking for the establishment of a physical kingdom here on earth, traditionalists miss the ever present spiritual reality. Traditional Christianity refuses to acknowledge the plain teaching of the Bible, in favor of the man made doctrines. Jesus’ teaching on His kingdom was very clear (John 18:36), “My kingdom is not of this world, if My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Refer also to Matthew 26:50-53, “But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” So you see, again it is made very clear, Jesus is not concerned with establishing a physical earthly kingdom.
So what exactly were, and when exactly did the last days occur? The last days were not about the close of time, or the end of the earth. The last days spoken of in the Bible were about the close of the old covenant, the Jewish dispensation. In the words of James Stuart Russell, “There was a fitness and fullness of time at which the old covenant was to be superseded by the new; the old and the new were permitted to subsist for a time together; the goodness and forbearance of God delaying the final stroke of judgment. Although, therefore, the great barriers to the introduction of all men, without distinction, into the privileges of the children of God were virtually removed by the death of Christ upon the cross, yet the formal and final demonstration that ‘the way into the holiest of all’ was not thrown open to all mankind, was not made until the whole framework of the Mosaic economy, with its ritual, and temple, and city, and people, was publicly and solemnly repudiated; and Judaism, with all that pertained to it, was for ever swept away.” (The Parousia, 1887)
Jesus Christ taught His second coming would be a first century event, “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Matt 23:34-39) Please keep in mind audience relevance. These things were to come upon the generation to which Jesus was speaking. Not some far off future generation, but that very generation.
"Then Jesus went outside and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt 24:1-4)
My short synopsis on Jesus answer is this: false prophets, false christs, nation rising against nation, abomination of desolation, those in Judea fleeing to the mountains, great tribulation, and the coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory. Then in verse 34 Christ says, "Assuredly, I say to you, THIS GENERATION will by no means pass away till all these things take place." I think I am safe to say no one from the generation to which Jesus spoke is still alive today. I believe Jesus came just as He said He would. Praise the Lord! We indeed have a God we can be confident in, a God who perfectly keeps His promises. The fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, as recorded by the historian Josephus, perfectly fulfilled all Jesus foretold, in the proper generation, confirming the scriptures as true and correct. What is not correct is traditional Christianities understanding of scripture.