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I saw a documentary with David Suchet about Paul the apostle. Suchet stated that Paul was convinced the world was about to end. Is this an accurate representation of the early church?

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Welcome to Christianity.SE, Could you link to the documentary perhaps? –  wax eagle Mar 22 '13 at 17:28
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There are a variety of views. Liberals have tended to see Paul (and Jesus!) as benignly delusional when it comes to end times, whereas conservatives have tended to see them as puzzles to figure out.

There was certainly a strain in Paul (and Jesus himself in the Olivet Discourse) of expecting an imminent consummation of all things. See for instance his letters to the Thessalonians, which are generally regarded as his earliest letters. But there is also a sense of preparing for the long-haul -- the appointing of elders and instructions for running the church, for instance.

Some, called partial preterists, think that much of the Olivet Discourse and Revelation were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, taking care of the imminentness of some of the eschaton (or end times).

Regardless of one's view of partial preterism, many Christians subscribe to "innaugurated eschatology" where the Kingdom transformation has begun but is not yet complete -- the "now but not yet."

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Perhaps replace conservatives and liberals with something about literal and liberal readings of the passages. –  Alypius Mar 23 '13 at 2:11
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