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, 2013 at 17:28
  • Please specify what kind of Christians you are asking whether early Christians were an apocalyptic sect. We do not deal with questions of what actually happened 2000 years ago here, but just questions about what Christians believe today. May 23, 2014 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


There are a variety of views. Modernists (e.g., Albert Schweitzer) 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 AD 70, 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."


Fully completed in 70 a.d. This is how we have a relationship with the Father BECAUSE all was fulfilled. Remember Hebrews? As long as the Temple stood there could be no "way" to the Father. When it was torn town, we became the Temple for God to dwell in. There is no future added value, bonus package, left for us to receive. When have the kingdom in it's fullest, right now. A spiritual kingdom that Yeshua said He was bringing "without observance" meaning no throne in a building in Jerusalem. He resides over a global kingdom in the spirit. So yes, the early Chuch was apocalyptic in that they understood and preaxhed the the end of the "era" the mosaic covenant was coming to an end in their lifetime. They were right.

  • This answer would benefit from sources demonstrating that the early church believed this, not just an argument for Preterism. Jan 23, 2017 at 18:07

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