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Main challenges in the gospel appearances of Jesus

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#1 H. Smith

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 03:24 AM

Dear Monachos forum,

 

I find Christianity extremely inspiring and regularly pray and go to church. However, at the rational level I find a few issues in the gospel appearances of Jesus particularly challenging. May I please ask if others on the forum may suggest answers to them? I know that this is not a debate forum, and am not proposing some answer to these questions.

 

1. Could sympathizers of Jesus have taken Jesus' body like the rumor claimed?

 

In Matthew 28, when the chief priests told the guards who left Jesus' tomb:

 

13 'Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.'

15 So [the guards] took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

 

Perhaps some of Jesus' followers have taken Jesus' body on Friday night before the guards arrived, or Matthew's story about guards at the tomb could have been made up?

 

Besides the important issue that our faith would tell us otherwise, theologians might say that the apostles' moral teachings and the maryrdom of at least several of them in 60-120 AD proves that they and the evangelists would not knowingly invent stories in the gospels or steal Jesus' body.

 

I agree that it would be irrational for them to do so. However, I tend to think that it there have been cases where the members of a religion taught inspiring morality but invented miracle stories and faced severe perseution for it. I have in mind the 1st to 2nd century gnostic Christians, who invented miracle stories and faced Roman persecution, and modern Tibetan Buddhists, who claim ongoing miracles like levitation and were killed by the Chinese.

 

2. Why do Mark, Matthew, and John indicate Jesus appearing in Galilee, but Luke appears to change it so that the apostles stay in Jerusalem?

 

In Mark 16, the young man at the tomb tells the women: "tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you."

 

And in Matthew 28, the angel tells the women: "...behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him"...

 

But Luke 24 seems to change the purpose of the angel's mention of Galilee when the women are told: "...remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'"

 

So instead of Jesus having predicted that he would appear in Galilee, Luke makes it so that Jesus just predicted his resurrection while he was in Galilee.

 

Then, according to Luke, the "same day" as the resurrection, the two travelers to Emmaus met Jesus in the form of a stranger, and "the same hour" they returned to tell the disciples about it. While they gave their report, Jesus appeared and told them: "...tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."

 

Matthew and John later describe Jesus' appearances on a mountain and by the sea in Galilee, while would have meant about a week long journey and stay. But Luke doesn't mention any Galilean appearances.

 

3. Were the apostles having only mental visions of Jesus, and if not, what was the basis for their doubt?

 

In Luke 24, the two travelers tell the stranger that the women at the tomb had a "vision" of angels, even though the angels are described in lifelike terms, moving a stone and sitting down.

Paul's own experience of seeing Jesus in the Temple, probably with nonbelievers standing around him, was that of a vision.

 

Matthew's gospel ends with an appearance of Jesus, saying: "And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but they doubted."

"Καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ· οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν."

 

If one is to make this consistent with the other gospels, this would be the third or fourth appearance of Jesus to the disciples, and Jesus had already cleared up to everyone, including Thomas, that His appearances are real. So why would they be doubting his appearance at this point if he was physically there in front of them?

 

If they were just experiencing a vision, that might explain better their doubts.

 

One of the obstacles to considering Jesus' appearances just visions is that they describe Jesus as having physical attributes, such as his ability to eat food. However, not a few Pentecostals also claim that they interact with Jesus and the appearances that they claim sometimes have physical aspects. The Mormons claimed that 11 witnesses saw an angel or saw or held his golden plates, however at least three of the witnesses personally told others that they only saw the angel or plates with their "spiritual eyes", as opposed to seeing physical plates. So this suggests to me that a spiritual apparition or vision could be ascribed seemingly physical attributes by its witness.

 

 


Edited by H. Smith, 26 July 2015 - 03:25 AM.


#2 Kosta

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 10:24 AM

The term 'vision' does not neccesarily mean an apparition or mirage or hallucination. For example according to the book of Acts Paul had a vision of Jesus with the customary 'shekinah' such as lightning and thunder. With this lightning and thundering those present usually become scared but dont neccesarily find this phenomenon as a divine revelation. We see this in the Baptism of Christ, when the divine voice comes out of heaven and people were perplexed as to what this great sound was. Now  according to Paul's first hand account from his own epistles, He did not have a 'vision', (those eyewintnesses in Acts may have described it as seeing and hearing lightning and other terrifying things), instead Paul's own account describes an actual visitation by Christ.  In another forum i explained that  St Silouan the Athonite had a 'vision' of Christ , but when we read what actually happened it becomes apparent that it was not a vision but Christ actually visited the saint in His flesh, it was an actual physical manifestation..

 

The various accounts of stealing the body has more to do with explaining away the arguments that the opponents of Jesus were using to discredit the christians. According to the jews, the christians stole the body, in return the christians countered by claiming that soldiers present at the tomb were paid off to keep silent of what actually happened and spread the rumor that the tomb was looted by his disciples.  

Another lesser explanation given by the opponents of Christ was that women are unreliable as to whether they can decipher the correct tomb. Women were and still are considered unreliable eyewitnesses in the middle east. Hence the gospel of Mark makes it a point to say the following, "And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid"(Mark 15.47), even though its apparent many others such as Joseph of Arimethea knew exactly where the tomb was.  What no one ever argued was that Christ was simply buried in a paupers pit or in the field of blood like Judas etc.  

 

Now there is no proof that a chronological order is used in the various appearances mentioned in the bible. We know he appeared for 40 days after His ressurection. We know that the some who doubted included Thomas himself.  We know that other dead were also revived and walked out of their tombs and some of the early apostolic fathers make mention of them as still being alive at the time of them writing (meaning they lived a long time after being revived). We know that Paul is the earliest NT author and he speaks of an event not recorded in any gospel that Christ appeared to 500 people at once. 

 

Now people are cynical so some people can never be convinced of anything or will always have suspicions. Other times its understandable. For example put yourself into the disciples shoes. What does it mean that He will destroy the temple and raise it up in three days? If Christ meant the ressurection, why did christians still retain the old belief that Christ truly wanted to destroy the temple as some sort of revolutionary? At Christ's trial many testified that he He said he will destroy the temple. 37 years later when the temple was destroyed christianity saw it as Christ visiting judgment upon Jerusalem, how did they get the idea that the roman war which was the cause of the destruction of the temple was actually Christ's judgement ? When did he prophecy such a thing?

 

In Mark 9.31 (the earliest gospel to be written probably before the temple was actually destroyed) the prophecy of His death and ressurection lacks many details found in the other gospels such as the involvement of the chief priests,  but pretty straightforward:

 

For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

 

Later on this prophecy seems to be more perplexing as to its meaning:

Mark 14:58

 

58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.



#3 Father David Moser

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 02:14 PM

I don't have much time before Liturgy and will be "unplugged" for the next couple of weeks - but I wanted to provide some information that might help enlighten the question here.

 

2. Why do Mark, Matthew, and John indicate Jesus appearing in Galilee, but Luke appears to change it so that the apostles stay in Jerusalem?

 

This is a common mistake that comes from sheer ignorance of the Holy Land and the environs of Jerusalem.  Because it was a city of pilgrimage, there were many inns around Jerusalem for those from some distance.  One of those "inns" was across the Kedron valley near the top of the Mt of Olives - easy walking distance to Jerusalem - and this inn was itself called "Galilee" and was the place where many from Galilee who came to Jerusalem would stay while in the city.  It was to this "Little Galilee" that Jesus referred for his disciples were indeed there.   The sites in Little Galilee where Jesus appeared to the disciples and where the showed Himself first to the Virgin are preserved in this inn (which is itself preserved as a public garden attached to the former residence of the Patriarch of Jerusalem).  It is possible today to visit Little Galilee and to pray in those places where our Lord appeared to His Mother and to the Disciples.
 
Fr David Moser



#4 H. Smith

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 03:56 PM

I don't have much time before Liturgy and will be "unplugged" for the next couple of weeks - but I wanted to provide some information that might help enlighten the question here.

 

 

This is a common mistake that comes from sheer ignorance of the Holy Land and the environs of Jerusalem.  Because it was a city of pilgrimage, there were many inns around Jerusalem for those from some distance.  One of those "inns" was across the Kedron valley near the top of the Mt of Olives - easy walking distance to Jerusalem - and this inn was itself called "Galilee" and was the place where many from Galilee who came to Jerusalem would stay while in the city.  It was to this "Little Galilee" that Jesus referred for his disciples were indeed there.   The sites in Little Galilee where Jesus appeared to the disciples and where the showed Himself first to the Virgin are preserved in this inn (which is itself preserved as a public garden attached to the former residence of the Patriarch of Jerusalem).  It is possible today to visit Little Galilee and to pray in those places where our Lord appeared to His Mother and to the Disciples.
 
Fr David Moser

Father David,

 

I appreciate you trying to respond to my questions, particularly before liturgy as you said, and I wish a present time over the next three weeks. I suppose that if the apostles regularly referred to the inn as "Galilee" it could explain the reference to Galilee while they were to stay in Galilee, but then what about Jesus' third appearance in the Gospel of John by the sea of Tiberias in the region of Galilee, which would still mean at least 5 days away from Jerusalem?


Edited by H. Smith, 26 July 2015 - 03:56 PM.


#5 Lakis Papas

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 10:13 PM

One has to answer the question: why Christ remained on earth after resurrection?

#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 10:31 PM

How else would His disciples have known that He had risen? Christ's Resurrection is the foundation of the faith of the Apostles on which the Church is built.



#7 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 06:21 PM

1. What would be the point? Jesus was demonstrably dead, when they pierced His side, out came "blood and water". This would be because the pericardium had ruptured. The pericardium is a is a double-walled sac containing the heart, filled with water. One might say that Christ literally died "of a broken heart". Making the body "disappear" does nothing about seeing Him walking about afterwards!

 

2. Already addressed

 

3. The Scriptural testimony specifically states that Jesus ate some fish and honeycomb. He did this to prove that He was physically present, not a ghostly apparition or mental projection. What other purpose would this have? And we have that whole "doubting Thomas" thing, again testimonial evidence that Christ had indeed physically resurrected. It really serves no other purpose, if we believe Christ did NOTHING without a specific purpose.



#8 H. Smith

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 04:12 AM

Dear Kosta,

Thank you for writing back! I value the responses from you and other posters.

Can you tell me more specifically where and how the Bible explains that Paul experiend a matterial, bodily visitation of Jesus, as opposed to, say, a vision accompanied by light and thunder?

The term 'vision' does not neccesarily mean an apparition or mirage or hallucination. For example according to the book of Acts Paul had a vision of Jesus with the customary 'shekinah' such as lightning and thunder. With this lightning and thundering those present usually become scared but dont neccesarily find this phenomenon as a divine revelation. We see this in the Baptism of Christ, when the divine voice comes out of heaven and people were perplexed as to what this great sound was. Now according to Paul's first hand account from his own epistles, He did not have a 'vision', (those eyewintnesses in Acts may have described it as seeing and hearing lightning and other terrifying things), instead Paul's own account describes an actual visitation by Christ. In another forum i explained that St Silouan the Athonite had a 'vision' of Christ , but when we read what actually happened it becomes apparent that it was not a vision but Christ actually visited the saint in His flesh, it was an actual physical manifestation..

 

The various accounts of stealing the body has more to do with explaining away the arguments that the opponents of Jesus were using to discredit the christians. According to the jews, the christians stole the body, in return the christians countered by claiming that soldiers present at the tomb were paid off to keep silent of what actually happened and spread the rumor that the tomb was looted by his disciples.
Another lesser explanation given by the opponents of Christ was that women are unreliable as to whether they can decipher the correct tomb. Women were and still are considered unreliable eyewitnesses in the middle east. Hence the gospel of Mark makes it a point to say the following, "And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid"(Mark 15.47), even though its apparent many others such as Joseph of Arimethea knew exactly where the tomb was. What no one ever argued was that Christ was simply buried in a paupers pit or in the field of blood like Judas etc.


I agree that the issue of stealing the body has to do with the arguments at the time over what happened to Jesus' body. One of my difficulties is in thinking over the issue myself, it seems to me a rational explanation that some followers took the body on Friday night before the guards were posted or even found a way to take the body while the guards were there (eg. while they were asleep or by overpowering them with the swords that the Bible says that they carried), assuming that the guards were even posted at all like Matthew says.

I also agree that the women's gender doesn't really prevent them from belng reliable witnesses that the tomb was empty. You mentioned that no one argued that Christ was just buried in a pauper's pit. And I agree that it's unlikely that he was, because I think that if he had been, then the issue probably would have become part of Christian apologetics in the early Church. That is, if critics made the argument about a pauper's pit, then the early Christians would have recorded this argument and their rebuttals to it. Still, unfortunately it isn't clear what all the anti-Christian arguments from that period were. I think that there were probably many polemics made that have become lost (eg. on the issue of whether Mary remained a virgin, beyond the polemics that we have in Celsus) because the Church fathers and scribes were not interested in copying and preserving them.



Now there is no proof that a chronological order is used in the various appearances mentioned in the bible. We know he appeared for 40 days after His ressurection. We know that the some who doubted included Thomas himself. We know that other dead were also revived and walked out of their tombs and some of the early apostolic fathers make mention of them as still being alive at the time of them writing (meaning they lived a long time after being revived). We know that Paul is the earliest NT author and he speaks of an event not recorded in any gospel that Christ appeared to 500 people at once.
I understand that the real chronological order of events may not be reflected in the gospels, however that is not the only problem.

In Problem #2, regardless of the issue of chronology, Luke still edited the angel's same words in Mark and Matthew to make it so that the angel didn't predict Jesus' appearance in Galilee. Generally Luke relies on Mark or Matthew's Gospel when writing his own, showing that Luke was familiar with those two gospels, but here he chose to change what they said so that it erased the meaning of the predicted appearance in Galilee.

I do think that if one gets rid of the issue of chronology, then Jesus' alleged instructions in Luke 24 for the disciples to stay in Jerusalem becomes less of a problem. If Jesus actually made that statement several weeks later, then the issue would be resolved. That is, if Jesus appeared a few times in Galilee and then later showed up and told them to stay in Jerusalem, this would make more sense.

The way Luke has it, the chronology is that Jesus showed up "the same day" as the Resurrection and told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem. So to say that it's achronological would mean that Luke is misleading in his presentation of the chronology. Further, Luke doesn't list any appearances in Galilee. So combined with the chronology problem, the erasure of the angel's words about Galilee, and the lack of references to an appearance in Galilee, Luke makes it look like he is intentionally excluding Galilean appearances.

In Problem #3, regardless of chronology there is still a problem. In Matthew's gospel the disciples are gathered on the mount and they are doubting when they see Jesus, even though they already had met Jesus at least two or three times based on John 21 saying that the fishing appearance was the "third" appearance.

Let's say for the moment that this chronology was wrong about the fishing appearance. Well even in that case it makes a problem because when Jesus showed up on Day one of the resurrection in Jerusalem in Luke, John, and Mark 16:9-20, he convinced the apostles (minus Thomas) about himself by eating with them. So Matthew's appearance on the mount still raises the issue of why the apostles would be doubting after Jesus had cleared up everything about himself.

But then maybe even that chronology is wrong and the appearance in Matthew 28 on the mount is the first appearance? Well in that case it creates even bigger problems like why Thomas would still be demanding to touch Jesus' wounds if he had already met Jesus on the mount? And it would raise the question of how come the apostles were hiding in Jerusalem apparently clueless about the resurrection in Luke 24 and John 20 if they had already met Jesus on the mount in Galilee.

So unfortunately the chronology issue of the appearances' order doesn't explain Problem 3 of doubting after repeated appearances unless the appearance accounts themselves are jumbled and confused.

Now people are cynical so some people can never be convinced of anything or will always have suspicions. Other times its understandable. For example put yourself into the disciples shoes.



Kosta! This is a major issue. Personally, I am not so cynical. It's one thing to always have suspicions, which is normal, and another thing to have uncertainty either way. My own skepticism means that I could be convinced of something miraculous, like an amazing recovery from a terminal illness, even though I could have some kind of suspicion about the miracle. I understand that God is a being that has been very hard to prove, but I still have a strong opinion that He exists.

In the case of Jesus' resurrection, one way that people often come to a belief about it is that they read the stories about Him, find that the story inspires them, feel inside themselves that it's true, and then accept it. When I read Jesus' story and main miracles in the gospels, it's very inspiring for me, and I want them to be real.

Another way to come to an opinion about it is to read the texts carefully and try to objectively consider whether they are reasonable and the narrated events likely to have occurred. For example:
(A) When I read about the virgin birth, and then read that Mary and Jesus' family thought Jesus was mentally ill when he started preaching, it makes me question whether the virgin birth actually happened. If Gabriel really had appeared to Mary and gave her prophecies about Jesus being a Messianic figure, Mary would have understood why her son was preaching. However, one could think of a logical excuse: Just because Mary should have understood that her Messianic son was born in an unusual and had prophecies behind him might not have stopped her from having a gut reaction of surprise when he fulfilled the prophecy.
(B) The New Testament repeatedly seems to predict that Jesus' second coming was to have occurred by the 3rd century AD. But apologists reply that this interpretation of a prediction of a 2nd century Second Coming is really a mistaken reading of those predictions.
(C.) In this thread, I've raised three textual issues that are particularly challenging for me when it comes to Jesus' resurrection and appearances. I can think of logical excuses for the challenges. For example, just because theoretically the apostles could have taken Jesus' body Friday night doesn't mean that they did. Wouldn't the guards have checked Jesus' tomb to see if his body was still there when they arrived on Saturday? And if they found Jesus' body missing, wouldn't they have reported that instead of claiming that the apostles took Jesus' body? So maybe Matthew got the rumor wrong and the rumor was really that the apostles took the body before the soldiers got there? But that seems unlikely. So maybe Matthew was wrong?

So when it comes to trying to think objectively about whether the story and the accounts are reasonable and reliable, the results become more uncertain. That is, when I mentally put aside what I prefer to be real and what is inspiring, then many challenges come up about what most likely happened in reality. One can propose excuses to answer these problems, but are these excuses so rock solid that the problems must go away? And if the problems are still around and we are left with a problematic story, then rationally speaking we are left with a lot of doubt about whether it actually happened.

You asked:

What does it mean that He will destroy the temple and raise it up in three days? If Christ meant the ressurection, why did christians still retain the old belief that Christ truly wanted to destroy the temple as some sort of revolutionary? At Christ's trial many testified that he He said he will destroy the temple. 37 years later when the temple was destroyed christianity saw it as Christ visiting judgment upon Jerusalem, how did they get the idea that the roman war which was the cause of the destruction of the temple was actually Christ's judgement ? When did he prophecy such a thing?

In Mark 9.31 (the earliest gospel to be written probably before the temple was actually destroyed) the prophecy of His death and ressurection lacks many details found in the other gospels such as the involvement of the chief priests, but pretty straightforward:
Later on this prophecy seems to be more perplexing as to its meaning:

58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and
within three days I will build another made without hands.

Yes, I understand that there is an issue of prophecy interpretation here. What is your point? That Jesus' explanation of his resurrection was not clear enough for his disciples to understand it well?Jesus did prophecy His resurrection numerous times to his disciples, and I can understand that prophecy leaves things open to interpretation. However, there should have been enough reasons for them to see Jesus' physical resurrection as a major possibility.
First, the pharisees according to Matthew understood that Jesus had predicted His resurrection, which is why they allegedly placed a guard at the tomb. (Matt. 27)
Second, the Jews were expecting a physical resurrection of the dead, and they had Messianic expectations about the 1st century AD that they associated with the apocalypse and their forefathers' resurrection.Third, he should have given the prophecy numerous times, and based on the various prophecies they should have been able to piece together what he meant. In case he didn't mean a bodily resurrection after his death, he still meant some kind of supernatural afterlife resurrection. And as such, the resurrection, even in a spiritual form, should not have been particularly unforeseen by them.Take for example Jesus' prediction in Matthew 20:

"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up."


Fourth, Jesus had already raised one or two people from the dead to the knowledge of disciples, so they could have understood that resurrection in Jesus' teachings could have the meaning of a physical resurrection as well.
Fifth, Jesus had already argued against the Sadducees about the afterlife, since they didn't believe in it. The disciples could then understood that when Jesus talked about himself being raised from the dead after being killed that he was talking about his own afterlife.
Sixth, at least according to the gospels the apostles had seen Moses and Elijah when Jesus was transfigured, so they would have known that the afterlife was real and that people could still reappear from it.

But getting back to the particular question you raised, I am not sure what you are implying the answer is. Strictly following the Biblical explanation of the prophecy about the Temple's destruction in Matthew, one can conclude that Jesus was talking about His body because elswhere in the Bible the apostles - at least Paul, but I think others - talked about believers' bodies as "temples" to God.
However, were I to be more liberal in my exegesis, I would say that Jesus could have actually been predicting the destruction of the Temple. I think that Jesus referenced Daniel 9 at least one place else in the gospels, when talking about the Abomination of Desolation. So Jesus saw Daniel 9 as a prophecy about His own era or later. And in Daniel 9, the Temple really was destroyed. So Jesus in Matthew's gospel could really have been predicting the destruction of Jerusalem's actual Temple, and not just of His own physical body. Maybe the false witnesses did not repeat though correctly Jesus' words. Was Jesus really giving his audience an order to break down either His body or the Temple? That's questionable. Perhaps He really just was making a prediction about the Temple and the false witnesses repeated this as if He gave an order. Or perhaps, if He was giving an order, then He could not have been giving an order to attack His own body and therefore He could only have been telling people to destroy the Temple.

However, according to the famous Russian theologian Lopukhin, John 2:19 represents Jesus' actual words and in Mark the false witnesses repeat incorrectly Jesus' words by adding in that He was talking about a Temple "made by hands". According to Lopukhin, Jesus was not explicitly talking about destroying a Temple "made by hands" and his accusers invented that part. Personally, I expect that Jesus did in some form predict that the Second Temple would get destroyed as per Daniel 9, and probably in His own era, as the Book of Daniel predicted. However, I don't have a strong opinion about what exactly Jesus said that the false witnesses were talking about.

 

Edited by H. Smith, 29 July 2015 - 04:18 AM.


#9 Kosta

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 12:03 PM

Can you tell me more specifically where and how the Bible explains that Paul experiend a matterial, bodily visitation of Jesus, as opposed to, say, a vision accompanied by light and thunder?


In 1Cor 9.1 & 15.7-9 makes clear Christ appeared to him in his resurected form. Notice how in both those verses he makes it a point to say he saw Jesus the same way the apostles did and that He himself is an apostle like one of the 12 himself. One of the prerequisites of the apostleship he describes was to be an eyewitness of Christ's ressurection (see Acts1.22 & 4.33)


I think that there were probably many polemics made that have become lost (eg. on the issue of whether Mary remained a virgin, beyond the polemics that we have in Celsus) because the Church fathers and scribes were not interested in copying and preserving them.


According to St Ignatios some things were hidden from the prince of this age and revealed later on, of which was the virgin birth. The virgin birth itself did not form out of a vacuum but it was a widespread belief that great rulers and kings were divinely anointed figures with the real possibility they were born from virgins.
There has always been debate whether Paul ever knew of the virgin birth tradition. In some of his writings it seems he was unaware of such a tradition (see Rom 1.3) In other statements Paul seems to say He indeed was born without a male human seed (see Gal 4.6, Rom 15.6)

In Problem #2, regardless of the issue of chronology, Luke still edited the angel's same words in Mark and Matthew to make it so that the angel didn't predict Jesus' appearance in Galilee. Generally Luke relies on Mark or Matthew's Gospel when writing his own, showing that Luke was familiar with those two gospels, but here he chose to change what they said so that it erased the meaning of the predicted appearance in Galilee.


The gospels are written by men hence in church the priest says, 'the gospel according to Matthew or Mark or Luke or John etc. They wrote to specific communities emphasizing specific things. Now Luke himself says that there were MANY written accounts of Christ circulating, and that he was doing the same :

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled[a] among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,


The way Luke has it, the chronology is that Jesus showed up "the same day" as the Resurrection and told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem. So to say that it's achronological would mean that Luke is misleading in his presentation of the chronology. Further, Luke doesn't list any appearances in Galilee. So combined with the chronology problem, the erasure of the angel's words about Galilee, and the lack of references to an appearance in Galilee, Luke makes it look like he is intentionally excluding Galilean appearances.


He may have indeed intensionally excluded Galilean appearances. What Luke seems to imply as does John's gospel is that Peter basically "quit". He was going back to his old life as a fisherman, the party was over. In John's account he either abrogated his position after his thrice denial or sent himself into self exile back home (until he was restored to his ministry by Christ). Regardless any argument of someone stealing the body would exclude the inner most group of disciples by Peter's actions.


Let's say for the moment that this chronology was wrong about the fishing appearance. Well even in that case it makes a problem because when Jesus showed up on Day one of the resurrection in Jerusalem in Luke, John, and Mark 16:9-20, he convinced the apostles (minus Thomas) about himself by eating with them. So Matthew's appearance on the mount still raises the issue of why the apostles would be doubting after Jesus had cleared up everything about himself.


Doubting is recorded in every gospel. Remember that this culture still believed in ghosts ( and spirits and even that a person's guardian angel taking on properties of the individual and appearing to man. Hence what is it they doubted exactly?

In most cases it was simply the bodily resurection, hence Jesus ate with them encouraged them to come and handle him to confirm he is not a spirit or ghost. Thomas said that not only did he want to see him to believe but wanted to put his fingers into the nail holes for confirmation. The gospel of Luke even makes a veiled reference to this doubting in one of the parables:

“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Lk 16.27-31)

The New Testament repeatedly seems to predict that Jesus' second coming was to have occurred by the 3rd century AD. But apologists reply that this interpretation of a prediction of a 2nd century Second Coming is really a mistaken reading of those predictions.


Im not sure where that comes from. Some believed it would happen within the apostles' lifetime or at the very least it was imminent. In Mark 9.1, Christ says:

And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

It then immediately proceeds to the Transfiguration. It is the same identical way the gospel of Matthew presents it. Mark's gospel also says, "
Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.(Mk 9.9-10)

There is also the case of the martyrdom of Stephen when the heavens were opened and he saw Christ. Luke places Stephen as the man who fullfills Jesus word, with the highly unusual exclamation by Stephen refering to Christ as 'Son of Man'. This is the only reference where a follower of Christ refers to Him as son of man as opposed to the customary Son of God:
But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”(Lk 7.55)

I

n this thread, I've raised three textual issues that are particularly challenging for me when it comes to Jesus' resurrection and appearances. I can think of logical excuses for the challenges. For example, just because theoretically the apostles could have taken Jesus' body Friday night doesn't mean that they did. Wouldn't the guards have checked Jesus' tomb to see if his body was still there when they arrived on Saturday? And if they found Jesus' body missing, wouldn't they have reported that instead of claiming that the apostles took Jesus' body? So maybe Matthew got the rumor wrong and the rumor was really that the apostles took the body before the soldiers got there? But that seems unlikely. So maybe Matthew was wrong?


The whole thing about the body being stolen was the main argument being used by the jews at the time of the writing of the gospel a half century later. Everything else is speculation, though there are many theories on this just google 'stolen body hypothesis' .For me the multiple eyewitnesses is enough. I dont believe in 'mass hysteria hallucinations' in fact i dont think psycologists have any proof that such a phenomenon even exists. Secondly seeing the spirit of a dead man in a vision was not out of the realm of possibilities in 1st century jewish culture, but would not be impressive.


However, according to the famous Russian theologian Lopukhin, John 2:19 represents Jesus' actual words and in Mark the false witnesses repeat incorrectly Jesus' words by adding in that He was talking about a Temple "made by hands". According to Lopukhin, Jesus was not explicitly talking about destroying a Temple "made by hands" and his accusers invented that part. Personally, I expect that Jesus did in some form predict that the Second Temple would get destroyed as per Daniel 9, and probably in His own era, as the Book of Daniel predicted. However, I don't have a strong opinion about what exactly Jesus said that the false witnesses were talking about.


If John 2.19 is the correct wording then the majority of the people did believe he was talking about an actual destruction of the temple. Secondly Mark's account can still be interpreted in the same way. The incarnation being the temple made by hands (the flesh of Mary), the transfigured raised body being the temple made without hands. But according to Luke Christ did predict he will be the agent that destroys the temple:

For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”(Lk 19.43-44)

Edited by Kosta, 29 July 2015 - 12:09 PM.


#10 H. Smith

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 09:47 PM

Kosta,

Thanks for writing and thinking about these issues with me. I would like to discuss briefly one of the side issues that we just discussed, that is, what C.S. Lewis considered to be failed predictions of Jesus' return in in the 2nd or 3rd century, because it's allegedly one of the stronger bases for doubt.

The New Testament repeatedly seems to predict that Jesus' second coming was to have occurred by the 3rd century AD. But apologists reply that this interpretation of a prediction of a 2nd century Second Coming is really a mistaken reading of those predictions.




Im not sure where that comes from. Some believed it would happen within the apostles' lifetime or at the very least it was imminent. In Mark 9.1, Christ says:

And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

It then immediately proceeds to the Transfiguration. It is the same identical way the gospel of Matthew presents it. Mark's gospel also says, "
Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.(Mk 9.9-10)

There is also the case of the martyrdom of Stephen when the heavens were opened and he saw Christ. Luke places Stephen as the man who fullfills Jesus word, with the highly unusual exclamation by Stephen refering to Christ as 'Son of Man'. This is the only reference where a follower of Christ refers to Him as son of man as opposed to the customary Son of God:
But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”(Lk 7.55)
 

 

I think that probably the New Testament repeatedly gives the impression that the End TImes and Jesus' Second Coming were to take place in the 1st to 2nd centuries AD. However, some apologists try to find ways to explain that the verses in question do not actually mean this.

 

Other apologists attempt to answer the challenge by saying that Jesus and the apostles did predict the Second Coming in the first or second centuries, but that the fulfillment of the prophecy was delayed. I think that this is a rational possible explanation, since in Jonah, for example, Jonah predicted Nineveh's destruction but then God changed the outcome due to Nineveh's repentance. On the other hand, I don't know what would be the intervening event in the 1st or 2nd century that would delay Jesus' Second Coming.

 

1) Mark 9:1: Reasonably fulfilled: You gave the example of Jesus saying in Mark 9 that some standing there would not taste death before seeing the kingdom with power. The reference to "not taste death" suggests to me that Jesus was thinking of a long term event, since Peter, James and John probably lived for about abother 30 years. The Transfiguration however occurred soon after this prediction, so I am not sure if this is what it's referring to. But I think that the Transfiguration is a reasonable fulfillment.

 

2) Mark 14:62 (Words to the Sanhedrin): Jesus told the Sanhedrin that He was the Messiah, the son of God, and that "'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.'"  (Mark 14:62, See also Matt 26:64)

One way I think to answer this is that Jesus meant that in the afterlife they would see this, since it isn't mentioned in the gospels.

It's interesting that in the noncanonical Gospel of Peter from the 2nd century AD or earlier, the elders are at the tomb when the heavens open and a hand from the heavens leads Jesus and the angels from the tomb. So in this noncanonical gospel there is a fulfillment of this verse. (http://www.earlychri...eter-brown.html)

The Russian exegete Lopukhin claims that the fulfillment of this prophecy was in Jesus' Passion, humiliation, and resurrection, which Lopukhin considered to be equal in greatness to Jesus being on the right hand of the power coming with heaven's clouds. I am doubtful that Lopukhin's answer was good though. The Bible talks about Jesus sitting on the right hand of God after the resurrection or Ascension, and this is not the same as the Passion and Resurrection.

 

3) 1 John 2 (on the "last hour") says: "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour." This "last hour" has already lasted almost 2000 years. It sounds like he is saying that they are living in the End Times. I suppose you can say that the End Times lasted  almost 2000 years already, but that sounds strange.

 

Likewise, Paul writes in Hebrews 1:

1. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2. Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

 

So for reference, in Jewish thinking, the world was made in what millenium, 5000 BC? But now the "last hour" and "last days" have lasted almost 2000 years? This sounds strange.

 

Similarly, in 1 Peter 1, Peter writes that Jesus "was manifest in these last times for you".

 

So how short was the time before the end? Paul wrote: "But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none" (1 Corinthians 7:29). That sounds pretty short.

 

4) The Olivet Discourse. Jesus lists apocalyptic events and concludes: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  ... I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place." (Matthew 24)

One way exegetes have tried to resolve the issue is by saying that the Greek text doesn't mean "generation" but rather "race" (The Russian synodal translation sometimes confuses these words.). In Greek, race and generation have the same root word, but they are differentiated by the gender, and in this particular place, the Greek word used is that for "generation".

 

Personally, I am not convinced that Jesus in Matthew 24 though was really talking about all the apocalyptic events he described when he said "these things". Earlier in the Discourse, his apostles had used the phrase "these things" to refer to things that did occur in the first century AD, like the Temple's destruction, and then asked when "these things" (the Temple's destruction) would happen. So maybe by "these things" I think Jesus could have meant just the Temple's destruction. I noticed that another person proposed the same explanation that I have about the meaning of "these things".

 

I do think that the text at least gives the impression though that the Second Coming would occur within the time of that generation.

 

St. John Chrysostom gives a different explanation for the problem. He says that when it says generation (γενεὰ), it can point to a generation not in terms of a single birth cycle of people (ie people's lifetimes), but rather to a single mode or practice of worship. For this he points to Psalm 24:6, which in the Septuagint says γενεὰ as well:  
 

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
   
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
   
He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah

 

That is, in Psalm 24, David says that Jacob, God's people "Israel", or in Orthodoxy the Ekklesia or gathering of the righteous, is the generation or single birth cycle of those who seek God.

 

Personally, I find this explanation by St. John Chrysostom mysterious and cryptic but it sounds like it could be the correct one because in Psalm 24 the word generation does seem to be given a metaphorical meaning.

 

In Luke 21, Jesus gives this prophecy, but in a less extreme way. He says that after Jerusalem will be destroyed (this happened about 135 AD) there will be signs in the heavens and then men will see the Son of Man in the heavens. Jesus concludes that the generation won't pass till all be fulfilled. And in fact as you mentioned Stephen did see Jesus in the heavans allegedly, and thus other people could have envisioned this after Jerusalem's fall. So Luke 21 at least could be reasonably fulfilled.

 

5) Paul's rapture prediction: In 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Paul stated: “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: And the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air:"

By saying "we who are alive", it sounds like he means "I and others" who are alive at the Second Coming. In this passage, Paul differentiated himself from the "dead in Christ". So Paul it sounds like was expecting the Second Coming to occur in his lifetime and was declaring that to the early Christians.

I didn't find any commentary explaining this issue except that the Protestant "Pulpit Commentary" says that Paul is here classing himself among the living at the Second Coming. So this statement by Paul sounds like a failed one.

 

6) Apparently disappointed expectations implied: In John 21, John explains that the disciples passed around the word that John would live until Jesus' second coming. But John 21 explains that this was not actually what Jesus said and that Jesus instead had simply asked: What is it to you (Peter) if he remains until my return? So this implies that many of Jesus' followers mistakenly thought that Jesus had predicted His second coming in the lifetime of a few of His followers. And this raises the question of whether they really were mistaken or Jesus had instead predicted this timely return and John 21 was making an excuse to explain the lack of fulfillment. This dilemma of course does not prove by itself that Jesus had actually predicted such a timely return.

 

Critical Remarks:

(A) C.S. Lewis claimed about the prophecy in Matthew about the predicted events happening while the generation was still around that “It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.”

One way that C.S. Lewis dealt with the problem is by asserting that it would have been even worse if Jesus said that He knew the time for the End but then was wrong about. Lewis points out that Jesus said somewhat later:

“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”(~Jesus in Matthew's gospel) [Lewis comments:] "The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side … the facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so. To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be. For a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance” (World’s Last Night, p. 97).

 

(B) Were the alternative version correct and Jesus and the apostles purely mistaken in making a prediction of Jesus' second coming, it suggests to me that the early Christians would have been simply a charismatic, apocalyptic, Messianic sect whoe predictions and miraculous claims were unreliable, just as many modern charismatic, apocalyptic sects are unreliable in their supernatural claims. It's not uncommon for charismatic non-mainstream sects today to give quickly approaching dates for the second coming. Indeed, some dates have been chosen by charismatics and have already past, like one of those in the 19th century. Further, charismatics not infrequently claim miraculous experiences, including meeting Jesus, but usually other Christians are skeptical about those claims.

 

Let me make it clear by the way, that I am not intending to propose that a certain interpretation of these prophecies' timing is correct or incorrect (eg. Critical Remarks A. or B.). I find St. John Chrysostom's answer to the problem in the Olivet discourse's timing interesting, but it sounds to me that Paul was implying incorrectly that the Second Coming or a version of the Rapture would take place in his lifetime. I do think that this issue of the Second Coming's predicted timing is an important challenge though.

 

Regards.
 



#11 Kosta

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 05:44 AM

That many christians in the first century believed Christ would return in their lifetime is not in dispute.  After the death of the original eyewitnesses this belief obviously wained. Never heard it would happen by the third century and this is even recorded in the book of 2 Peter, 'And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation...But beloved do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.' (2 Pet 3.4)

 

By the time of St Hippolytus in 200 AD his belief was that the restraining force was the Roman Empire. St Cyril of Jerusalem who did not rely on the book of Revelation also states the same, expanding on an ancient tradition in the Jerusalem church, that the temple mount is cursed land and whatever is built upon it will eventually be knocked down, until the anti-christ successfully overcomes the curse as a sign to deceive.

 

Now as far as predictions of the end time, Christ made clear that no one knows that day, not even Him but only the Father. Now as Christ said  "some standing here shall not taste death', till  they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom (Mat 16.27). There are three different occurences where this has happened:

 

1. The transfiguration. All synoptics place this statement right before the Transfiguration. After this event Jesus tells the three not to tell anyone until after he rises. 

 

2. The protomartyr Stephen. Right before he was stoned to death he saw the heavens open and cried out how he sees  the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God. Again dont overlook the unique fact that this is the only reference of a believer in Christ refering to Christ as 'Son of Man' and not the customary 'Son of God'. Once again he saw it right before he tasted death. In fact this vision was the reason he was stoned to death!

 

3. St John the Evangelist. We already know of a tradition where many thought John would remain till the second coming. We also know he saw everything from Dan 7.13 to his return in the vision of the Apocalypse where he was brought up to heaven. Thus John witnessed this at an old age a few years before his death fullfilling the prophecy.

 

 

Now theres also the quote of  "this generation shall not pass away till all these things be done". Ill just use Mark 13 as that is considered the earliest gospel to be written. His disciples marveled at the architecture of the temple and its surrounding buildings. Christ said they will all be thrown down. Later on a group of his disciples asked him privately when this will happen.  Throughout his discourse Christ makes clear that these are signs but not the end:

 

 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.(v.7)

 

  And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.(v.10)

 

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. (v. 32)

 

These things predicted already occured with the destruction of the temple and the removing of the grace from Israel according to the flesh. The withering of the fig tree is the withering away of Judea hence no prophet has arisen among them since then. Its what Christ called 'the beginning of sorrows'. Now theres also the spiritual meaning as recorded in Matthew 26.64 as He spoke to the chief priests, ' Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”(Matt 26.64)

 

In this case it can refer to the events of Pentecost, to the destruction of Jerusalem, to Paul's conversion. Basically the diminishing of grace from Israel of the flesh and being handed over to spiritual Israel the Church. 


Edited by Kosta, 31 July 2015 - 05:51 AM.


#12 H. Smith

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 11:19 PM

DEAR KOSTA:

 

 

That many christians in the first century believed Christ would return in their lifetime is not in dispute.  After the death of the original eyewitnesses this belief obviously wained. Never heard it would happen by the third century and this is even recorded in the book of 2 Peter, 'And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation...But beloved do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.' (2 Pet 3.4)

 

By the time of St Hippolytus in 200 AD his belief was that the restraining force was the Roman Empire. St Cyril of Jerusalem who did not rely on the book of Revelation also states the same, expanding on an ancient tradition in the Jerusalem church, that the temple mount is cursed land and whatever is built upon it will eventually be knocked down, until the anti-christ successfully overcomes the curse as a sign to deceive.

That's interesting, since the Byzantines built one or more churches on the Temple Mount.

 

 

Now as far as predictions of the end time, Christ made clear that no one knows that day, not even Him but only the Father.

 

That's true, but he said "day or hour", not month or year. So this verse doesn't mean that he didn't predict a time frame of some definite century.

 

 

 

Now as Christ said  "some standing here shall not taste death', till  they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom (Mat 16.27). There are three different occurences where this has happened:

 

1. The transfiguration. All synoptics place this statement right before the Transfiguration. After this event Jesus tells the three not to tell anyone until after he rises. 

 

2. The protomartyr Stephen. Right before he was stoned to death he saw the heavens open and cried out how he sees  the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God. Again dont overlook the unique fact that this is the only reference of a believer in Christ refering to Christ as 'Son of Man' and not the customary 'Son of God'. Once again he saw it right before he tasted death. In fact this vision was the reason he was stoned to death!

 

3. St John the Evangelist. We already know of a tradition where many thought John would remain till the second coming. We also know he saw everything from Dan 7.13 to his return in the vision of the Apocalypse where he was brought up to heaven. Thus John witnessed this at an old age a few years before his death fullfilling the prophecy.

 

That's true, and so I wrote that (1) in my last message was reasonably fulfilled.

 

 

Now theres also the quote of  "this generation shall not pass away till all these things be done". Ill just use Mark 13 as that is considered the earliest gospel to be written. His disciples marveled at the architecture of the temple and its surrounding buildings. Christ said they will all be thrown down. Later on a group of his disciples asked him privately when this will happen.  Throughout his discourse Christ makes clear that these are signs but not the end:

 

 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.(v.7)

 

  And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.(v.10)

 

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. (v. 32)

 

These things predicted already occured with the destruction of the temple and the removing of the grace from Israel according to the flesh. The withering of the fig tree is the withering away of Judea hence no prophet has arisen among them since then. Its what Christ called 'the beginning of sorrows'. Now theres also the spiritual meaning as recorded in Matthew 26.64 as He spoke to the chief priests, ' Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”(Matt 26.64)

 

In this case it can refer to the events of Pentecost, to the destruction of Jerusalem, to Paul's conversion. Basically the diminishing of grace from Israel of the flesh and being handed over to spiritual Israel the Church. 

 

I have used this answer to Problem (4) above before in making apologetics. That is, when Jesus says "these things", he is talking about the "these things" that the apostles asked him about: the temple's destruction.

Still, the weakness in this apologetic is that Jesus had just listed a long line of things like the physical heavens being extremely affected, so when he says "all these things", it does sound like Jesus is not just talking about the Temple's destruction in 70 AD, but about "all these things" - disasters in the sky and the Second Coming.

 

So I think that St. John Chrysostom gives a better apologetic by saying "generation" actually has a second meaning in Greek.

 

Still, problems 2 and 3 in my list above remain. Problem (5) of Paul's failed prediction in the Bible does not itself debunk Jesus, it just means that Biblical predictions themselves are not necessarily factually correct.
 


Edited by H. Smith, 11 August 2015 - 11:20 PM.


#13 Olga

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 06:48 AM

That's true, but he said "day or hour", not month or year. So this verse doesn't mean that he didn't predict a time frame of some definite century.

 

Your conclusion is not true. The expression "day or hour" simply means "time", which includes months, years and centuries.



#14 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 01:46 PM

5) Paul's rapture prediction: In 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Paul stated: “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: And the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air:"

By saying "we who are alive", it sounds like he means "I and others" who are alive at the Second Coming. In this passage, Paul differentiated himself from the "dead in Christ". So Paul it sounds like was expecting the Second Coming to occur in his lifetime and was declaring that to the early Christians.

I didn't find any commentary explaining this issue except that the Protestant "Pulpit Commentary" says that Paul is here classing himself among the living at the Second Coming. So this statement by Paul sounds like a failed one.

 

Chrysostom says: “But in saying we, he does not speak of himself, for he was not about to remain until the [General] Resurrection, but he speaks of the faithful. On this account he has added, We that are left unto the coming of the Lord shall in nowise precede them that are fallen asleep.



#15 Kosta

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 07:16 PM

Yeah I dont see anything of a prophetic nature in Paul's imagery of the second coming. Paul says 'We who remain', the only thing he envisions that there will still be christians left on earth at the time. He already spoke of a falling away to occur before the end.

#16 H. Smith

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 09:05 PM

Yeah I dont see anything of a prophetic nature in Paul's imagery of the second coming. Paul says 'We who remain', the only thing he envisions that there will still be christians left on earth at the time. He already spoke of a falling away to occur before the end.


Kosta.
The problem I find is that the implication of saying "we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep" is that "we" - Paul and others - are in a different category than the category of those who are dead or asleep. The difference in categories is repeated when Paul says: "the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds"

By saying "we" and putting the "we" in the first category of those who are alive at the second coming and not those who are "dead in Christ" at the time of the second coming, Paul openly implies that he will be alive and not among the dead faithful at the time of the second coming.

By analogy, a narrator clearly implies that he has a car if he reiterates: "We who have cars will meet you at the park and will get there before those who don't. The people without cars will still be on their way, but we who have cars will wait for them at the park".

 



#17 Lakis Papas

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 09:33 PM

Paul had no idea when the events were going to happen - nobody does. He had to speak in this format by using the language of his audience as first Christians believed that these events were at hand.





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