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I often see comments in Bible commentaries that the Apostles were convinced the second coming would happen in their lifetime. However I have never been convinced by the arguments they make to draw this conclusion. What I am wondering is what the Biblical argument is for the alternative view: That the Bible and the Apostles did not necessarily expect this, and were not so naive.

Some passages commonly referred to in the subject are:

Rom. 13:11–12; 1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; Heb 10:25

Note: I do accept that there was this feeling of an imminent return shortly after Pentecost but I am speaking about after when the Epistles were written and there was more scripture concerning this doctrine. It was only natural after Penteconst to assume an immediate return having no other information to go on.

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Peter seems to suggest that the coming of the Lord is not as imminent as originally thought, citing God's patience, and his measure of time as the reasons:

"...by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you..." (1 Peter 3:7-15 NASB bold mine)

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  • That's one passage. Any others? – MR. TOODLE-OO'D Jul 12 '15 at 3:29
  • I think this is a good start. What I have noticed in various commentaries is that the passages that speak of a very imminent return...some comentaries draw a conclusion that the Apostles were confused and some understand the return of Christ in the destruction of Jerusalem;) – Mike Jul 12 '15 at 9:52
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I would recommend the following:

Revelation 6:9-11

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

It would likely have been clear to the early church that the number of the martyrs was not complete, since the church was under intense and continual persecution from the Roman government for several centuries.

This is distinct from the destruction of Jerusalem, where some commentators seem to imply that all of Christ's warnings were apocalyptic.

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