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End Times Chart

Introduction and Key



 "The church expected certain events to happen within a generation, and happen they did, though there must have been moments between AD30 and AD70 when some wondered if they would, and in consequence took up the Jewish language of delay.  Jerusalem fell; the good news of Jesus, and the kingdom of Israel’s god was announced in Rome, as well as in Jerusalem and Athens.  But there is no sign of dismay, in any literature that has come down to us from the periord after AD70, at the fact that Jesus himself had still not returned.  Clement looks forward to the return of Jesus himself without any comment on timing.  Ignatius is worried about many things but not that.  Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century is as emphatic as anyone that the event will happen." (New Testament and People of God, pg. 463)


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Ambrose, Pseudo
Baruch, Pseudo
Chrysostom, Pseudo
Clement, Alexandria
Clement, Rome
Clement, Pseudo
King Jesus
Apostle John
Justin Martyr
Apostle Paul
Apostle Peter
Maurus Rabanus
St. Symeon

(Minor Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Joseph Addison
Oswald T. Allis
Thomas Aquinas
Karl Auberlen
Albert Barnes
Karl Barth
G.K. Beale
John Bengel
Wilhelm Bousset
John A. Broadus

David Brown
"Haddington Brown"
F.F. Bruce

Augustin Calmut
John Calvin
B.H. Carroll
Johannes Cocceius
Vern Crisler
Thomas Dekker
Wilhelm De Wette
Philip Doddridge
Isaak Dorner
Dutch Annotators
Alfred Edersheim
Jonathan Edwards

E.B. Elliott
Heinrich Ewald
Patrick Fairbairn
Js. Farquharson
A.R. Fausset
Robert Fleming
Hermann Gebhardt
Geneva Bible
Charles Homer Giblin
John Gill
William Gilpin
W.B. Godbey
Ezra Gould
Hank Hanegraaff
Matthew Henry
G.A. Henty
George Holford
Johann von Hug
William Hurte
J, F, and Brown
B.W. Johnson
John Jortin
Benjamin Keach
K.F. Keil
Henry Kett
Richard Knatchbull
Johann Lange

Cornelius Lapide
Nathaniel Lardner
Jean Le Clerc
Peter Leithart
Jack P. Lewis
Abiel Livermore
John Locke
Martin Luther

James MacDonald
James MacKnight
Dave MacPherson
Keith Mathison
Philip Mauro
Thomas Manton
Heinrich Meyer
J.D. Michaelis
Johann Neander
Sir Isaac Newton
Thomas Newton
Stafford North
Dr. John Owen
 Blaise Pascal
William W. Patton
Arthur Pink

Thomas Pyle
Maurus Rabanus
St. Remigius

Anne Rice
Kim Riddlebarger
J.C. Robertson
Edward Robinson
Andrew Sandlin
Johann Schabalie
Philip Schaff
Thomas Scott
C.J. Seraiah
Daniel Smith
Dr. John Smith
C.H. Spurgeon

Rudolph E. Stier
A.H. Strong
St. Symeon
Friedrich Tholuck
George Townsend
James Ussher
Wm. Warburton
Benjamin Warfield

Noah Webster
John Wesley
B.F. Westcott
William Whiston
Herman Witsius
N.T. Wright

John Wycliffe
Richard Wynne
C.F.J. Zullig

(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Firmin Abauzit
Jay Adams
Luis Alcazar
Greg Bahnsen
Beausobre, L'Enfant
Jacques Bousset
John L. Bray
David Brewster
Dr. John Brown
Thomas Brown
Newcombe Cappe
David Chilton
Adam Clarke

Henry Cowles
Ephraim Currier
R.W. Dale
Gary DeMar
P.S. Desprez
Johann Eichhorn
Heneage Elsley
F.W. Farrar
Samuel Frost
Kenneth Gentry
Steve Gregg
Hugo Grotius
Francis X. Gumerlock
Henry Hammond
Friedrich Hartwig
Adolph Hausrath
Thomas Hayne
J.G. Herder
Timothy Kenrick
J. Marcellus Kik
Samuel Lee
Peter Leithart
John Lightfoot
Benjamin Marshall
F.D. Maurice
Marion Morris
Ovid Need, Jr
Wm. Newcombe
N.A. Nisbett
Gary North
Randall Otto
Zachary Pearce
Andrew Perriman
Beilby Porteus
Ernst Renan
Gregory Sharpe
Fr. Spadafora
R.C. Sproul
Moses Stuart
Milton S. Terry
Herbert Thorndike
C. Vanderwaal
Foy Wallace
Israel P. Warren
Chas Wellbeloved
J.J. Wetstein
Richard Weymouth
Daniel Whitby
George Wilkins
E.P. Woodward

(Virtually No Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 & Revelation in 1st C. - Types Only ; Also Included are "Higher Critics" Not Associated With Any Particular Eschatology)

Henry Alford
G.C. Berkower
Alan Patrick Boyd
John Bradford
Wm. Burkitt
George Caird
Conybeare/ Howson
John Crossan
John N. Darby
C.H. Dodd
E.B. Elliott
G.S. Faber
Jerry Falwell
Charles G. Finney
J.P. Green Sr.
Murray Harris
Thomas Ice

Benjamin Jowett
John N.D. Kelly

Hal Lindsey
John MacArthur
William Miller
Robert Mounce

Eduard Reuss

J.A.T. Robinson
George Rosenmuller
D.S. Russell
George Sandison
C.I. Scofield
Dr. John Smith

Norman Snaith
Thomas Torrance
Jack/Rex VanImpe
John Walvoord

Quakers : George Fox | Margaret Fell (Fox) | Isaac Penington


N.T. "Tom" Wright

Canon of Westminster Abbey, London | Teacher of New Testament Studies at Oxford, Cambridge, and McGill Universities | The Dean of Lichfield, one of England's oldest cathedrals.

The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology (1991); The New Testament and the People of God (1992); and Jesus and the Victory of God (1996). Popular studies include: Who Was Jesus? (1993); The Crown and the Fire (1992); Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship (1995); The Lord and His Prayer (1996); The Original Jesus: The Life and Vision of a Revolutionary (1996);  and What St. Paul Really Said (1997).

“When Jerusalem is destroyed, and Jesus’ people escape from the ruin just in time, that will be YHWH becoming king, bringing about the liberation of his true covenant people, the true return from exile, the beginning of the new world order” (JVG, 364)

Enemy to the Reformed Faith | New Book Defends Gospel Account of Resurrection Story

  • 1994: Jerusalem in the New Testament (PDF) "Paul here reflects the early Christian tradition, going back to Jesus himself, according to which Jerusalem was to be destroyed, and according to which that destruction was to be interpreted as the wrath of God against his sinful people. In the same Thessalonian correspondence, Paul asserted that the wrath of God had indeed come upon them ‘to the uttermost’ (1 Thess.2:16.) It is this awareness of an imminent end to the way the Jewish world had looked for so long, rather than an imminent end to the space-time universe, that drove Paul on his mission with such urgency. From his own point of view he lived in an odd interim period: judgment had been passed on Jerusalem, but not yet executed. There was a breathing space, a ‘little time’ in which people could repent, and in which the message of Jesus could spread to Gentiles as well as Jews (though it always remained, for Paul, ‘to the Jew first’). When Jerusalem fell, Jews on the one hand would undoubtedly blame those who had reneged on their Jewish responsibilities, including those Jewish Christians who, like Paul, had been enjoying fellowship with pagans and regarding it as the Kingdom of God and the true expression of the covenant God made with Abraham." (JERUSALEM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT; Originally published in Jerusalem Past and Present in the Purposes of God. P. W. L. Walker, ed., pp. 53–77. (2nd edn. 1994.) Carlisle: Paternoster. Grand Rapids: Baker, p 11)

  • 9/5/12: NT Wright: Surprised by Hope - "Nor will it do to say, as do some who grasp that part of the point but have not worked it through, that the events of A.D. 70 were themselves the second coming of Jesus so that ever signce then we have been living in God's new age and there is no further coming to wait. This may seem to many readers, as indeed it seems to me, a bizarre position to hold, but there are some who not only hold it but also eagerly propagate it and use some of my arguments to support it."

  • 5/8/12: Wright and the mission of the early church | P.OST "Thirdly, in my view the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost is also an eschatologically determined event: it is, in the first place, the empowering of the disciples to preach the same message of judgment and renewal as the Jewish War loomed ever larger on the horizon."

J. Ligon Duncan
President, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Attractions of the New Perspective(s) on Paul  "I find that Wright's overly realized eschatology is attractive to students today. Preterism is all the rage in some conservative Reformed circles these days. The "already and not yet" is out, and the "been there, done that" is in. NT eschatology, for the preterist, is retrospective and realized. Well, along comes Wright, with his very this worldly eschatology, and provides a high-powered academic justification for the low-rent forms of preterism circulating in some places today. And they love it. So I have found some students who have gotten into Wright via his eschatological approach to New Testament theology. "

" ... supporting the present regime in Israel in some kind of christian ground is laughably and dangerously simplistic and non-sense... "

 ' ... for the heavens and the earth will listen to his Messiah ... For he will... (be) freeing prisoners, giving sight to the blind, straightening out the twisted ... and the Lord will perform marvellous acts ... for He will heal the badly wounded and will make the dead live, he will proclaim good news to the meek, give lavishly to the needy, lead the exiled and enrich the hungry;"   Qumran Scrolls  4Q521  (From 'Jesus and the Victory of God' N T Wright)

Jesus' "Broad Strokes" By N.T. Wright:

"1) Jesus was a first-century Jewish prophet announcing God's kingdom (33).

2) He believed that the kingdom was breaking in to Israel's history in and through his own presence and work (37) ...

3) and summoning other Jews to abandon alternative kingdom visions and join him in his (40) ...

4) and warning of dire consequences for the nation, for Jerusalem, and for the temple, if his summons was ignored (42).

5) His agendas led him into a symbolic clash with those who embraced other ones, and this, together with the positive symbols of his own kingdom agenda, point to the way in which he saw his inaugurated kingdom moving toward accomplishment (47).

6) [Jesus indicated] in symbolic actions, and in cryptic and coded sayings, that he believed he was Israel's messiah, the one through whom the true God would accomplish his decisive purpose (50)." ("The Mission and Message of Jesus" chapter 3)


(On Mark 13; the Significance of AD70)
"When the gospel is announced, says Paul, God's righteousness is unveiled."  (Paul's Gospel and Ceasar's Empire)

"One of the main reasons, I suppose, why the obvious way of reading the chapter has been ignored for so long must be the fact that in a good deal of Christian theology the fall of Jerusalem has had no theological significance. This has meant not only that Mark 13 is found puzzling, but also that all the references to the same event elsewhere in the gospels -- even where it stares one in the face, as in Luke 13:1-5 -- have been read as general warnings of hellfire in an afterlife, rather than the literal and physical divine-judgment-through-Roman-judgment that we have seen to be characteristic of Jesus' story." (Jesus and Victory of God, pp. 343-344) 

"the word "gospel" carries two sets of resonances for Paul. On the one hand, the gospel Paul preached was the fulfilment of the message of Isaiah 40 and 52, the message of comfort for Israel and of hope for the whole world, because YHWH, the god of Israel, was returning to Zion to judge and redeem. On the other hand, in the context into which Paul was speaking, "gospel" would mean the celebration of the accession, or birth, of a king or emperor. Though no doubt petty kingdoms might use the word for themselves, in Paul's world the main "gospel" was the news of, or the celebration of, Caesar." (Paul's Gospel and Ceasar's Empire)

(On the "
Israel of God")
"We can be virtually certain that Jesus, like other leadership prophets of the first century, thought of his followers as the true people of Israel, who would survive the coming moment of crisis and form the renewed people of the covenant God." (JVG, p.321)

Parousia/Second Coming)
"The word 'parousia' is itself misleading, anyway, since it merely means 'presence'; Paul can use it of his being present with a church, and nobody supposes that he imagined he would make his appearance flying downward on a cloud..  The church expected certain events to happen within a generation and happen they did, though there must have been moments between AD30 and 70 when some wondered if they would and in consequence took up the Jewish language of delay.  Jerusalem fell; the good news of Jesus, and the kingdom of Israel's God, was announced in Rome, as well as in Jerusalem and Athens." (The New Testament and the People of God, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, p. 463).

(On the "End of the World")
"Within the mainline Jewish writings of this period, covering a wide range of styles, genres, political persuasions and theological perspectives, there is virtually no evidence that Jews were expecting the end of the space-time universe.  There is abundant evidence that they knew a good metaphor when they saw one, and used cosmic imagery to bring out the full theological significance of cataclysmic socio-political events.   There is almost nothing to suggest that they followed the Stoics into the belief that the world itself would come to an end; and there is almost everything to suggest that they did not." (NTPG 333)

"To the list of sources there in favour of the position advanced should be added Horslet 1987, 138f., 337; and (cited by Horsley) Wilder 1959.  Among many passages which could be cited, the three which Allison 1985, 89 quotes, against the drift of his own argument (on which see above, 209 n. 38, and the next note, below), will do for a start: Ps. - Philo 11.3-5; 4 Ezra 3.18-19; and bZeb. 116a." (Jesus and the Victory of God, p. 321f.)

"If Jesus and the early church used the relevant language in the same way as their contemporiries, it is highly unlikely that they would have been referring to the actual end of the world, and highly likely that they would have been referring to events within space-time history which they interpreted as the coming of the kingdom.  It will not do to dismiss this reading of 'apocalyptic' language as 'merely metaphorical'.   Metaphors have teeth; the complex metaphors available to first-century Jews had particularly sharp ones."  (Jesus and the Victory of God, p. 321)

"The days of Jerusalem's destruction would be looked upon as days of cosmic catastrophe.  The known world would go into convulsions: power struggles and coups d'etat would be the order of the day; the pax Romana, the presupposition of 'civilized' life throughout the then Mediterranean world, would collapse into chaos.  In the midst of that chaos Jerusalem would fall."  (JVG, p. 362)

the Resurrection)
"The early Christian hope for bodily resurrection is clearly Jewish in origin, there being no possible pagan antecedent. Here, however, there is no spectrum of opinion: Earliest Christianity simply believed in resurrection, that is, the overcoming of death by the justice-bringing power of the creator God. " (The Resurrection of Resurrection)

(On King Jesus/Caesar Cult Controversy)
"What is the immediate significance of this Jesus-and-Caesar contrast? It was of course a challenge to an alternative loyalty. Jesus is the reality, Caesar the parody."

"The most exciting developments today in the study of St Paul and his thought are not, I think, the recent works on what is usually called Paul's Theology. I would highlight, rather, the study of the interface and conflict between Paul's gospel, the message about the crucified Jesus, and the world in which his entire ministry was conducted, the world in which Caesar not only held sway but exercised power through his divine claim. What happens when we line up Paul's gospel with Caesar's empire?"

"The evidence now available, including that from epigraphy and archaeology, shows that the cult of Caesar was not simply one new religion among many in the Roman world. Already by Paul's time it had become the dominant cult in a large part of the Empire, certainly in the parts where Paul was active, and was the means whereby the Romans managed to control and govern such huge areas as came under their sway. Who needs armies when they have worship?" 

"Theologically, it belongs completely with Isaiah's ringing monotheistic affirmations that YHWH and YHWH alone is the true god, the only creator, the only sovereign of the world, and that the gods of the nations are contemptible idols whose devotees are deceived, at best wasting their time and at worst under the sway of demons. Politically, it cannot but have been heard as a summons to allegiance to "another king", which is of course precisely what Luke says Paul was accused of saying (Acts 17.7). Practically, this means that Paul, in announcing the gospel, was more like a royal herald than a religious preacher or theological teacher." 

"What the older history-of-religions argument failed to reckon with was the Jewish understanding that, precisely because of Israel's status within the purposes of the creator god, Israel's king was always supposed to be the world's true king. "His dominion shall be from one sea to the other; from the River to the ends of the earth" (Ps. 72.8). "The root of Jesse shall rise to rule the nations; in him shall the nations hope" (Isa. 11.10, cited Rom. 15.12). Paul endorsed this train of thought, and he believed it to have been fulfilled in Jesus." (Paul's Gospel and Ceasar's Empire)

Jesus and the Victory of God" (Fortress Press, 1996). Referring to the 13th chapter of Mark and the parallel Gospel accounts in Matthew and Luke, where Jesus prophesies the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, Wright observes (pp. 343-344): "One of the main reasons, I suppose, why the obvious way of reading the chapter has been ignored for so long must be the fact that in a good deal of Christian theology the fall of Jerusalem has had no theological significance. This has meant not only that Mark 13 is found puzzling, but also that all the references to the same event elsewhere in the gospels -- even where it stares one in the face, as in Luke 13:1-5 -- have been read as general warnings of hellfire in an afterlife, rather than the literal and physical divine-judgment-through-Roman-judgment that we have seen to be characteristic of Jesus' story."

Wright goes on to note that today's scholars, preachers, and laymen tend to read Jesus' apocalyptic discourse on the Mount of Olives, where he makes his fall-of-Jerusalem prophecy (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21) as an account of the end of the space-time universe and of Jesus' downward travel to earth in a cloud. But Wright rejects this view as anachronistic -- that is, as totally out of sync with the time and place of Jesus' 1st-century ministry. Wright points out (pp. 345-346): "We must...stress again: as far as the disciples, good first-century Jews as they were, were concerned, there was no reason whatever for them to be thinking about the end of the space-time universe. There was no reason, either in their own background or in a single thing that Jesus had said up to them at that point, for it even to occur to them that the true story of the world, or of Israel, or of Jesus himself, might include either the end of the space-time universe, or Jesus or anyone else floating down to earth on a cloud."

"The disciples WERE, however, very interested in a story which ended with Jesus' coming to Jerusalem to reign as king. They WERE looking for the fulfillment of Israel's hopes, for the story told so often in Israel's scriptures to reach its appointed climax. And the 'close of the age' for which they longed was not the end of the space-time order, but the end of the present evil age...." Jesus' apocalyptic discourse on the Mount of Olives therefore has to do with his "'coming' or 'arrival' in the sense of his actual enthronement as king, consequent upon the dethronement of the present powers that were occupying the holy city."

"The present age was a time when the creator god seemed to be hiding his face; the age to come would see the renewal of the created world. The present age was the time of Israel's misery; in the age to come she would be restored. In the present age wicked men seemed to be flourishing; in the age to come they would receive their just reward. In the present age even Israel was not really keeping the Torah perfectly, was not really being YHWH's true humanity; in the age to come all Israel would keep Torah from the heart." (New Testament and the People of God, 299-300)



Stein, Robert H.
"First, as with any overarching theological system, when Biblical texts get in the way, they tend to be squeezed to fit the system. Wright’s “system” is no different, but Wright time and time again forces various texts to fit his system, and this weakens his argument. Some examples are:

  • Jesus’ teaching that when struck on the right check one should turn the left also refers primarily to his followers not becoming part of the resistance movement against Rome (291).

  • Making friends with one’s accuser before going to court is understood not as advice for individual believers but advice that Israel should make peace with Rome lest she be handed over to the judgment and destruction of ad 70.

  • Jesus’ warning about building one’s house on rock and not sand refers to the coming destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and its replacement by Jesus as thetrue temple (334).

  • The warning concerning the danger of possessions refers to the Jewish people’s love for the land of Israel. Jesus’ sayings concerning selling one’s possession involves the need of the Jewish people to renounce their nationalistic and idolatrous (331) hopes concerning the land of Israel (403–4).

  • The saying about having faith enough to cast a mountain into the sea refers to the Temple (422).

  • The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is interpreted primarily as a call to Israel to repent of their revolutionary zeal and violent nationalism (246–58).

  • The parable of the soils “tells the story of Israel, particularly the return from exile, with a paradoxical conclusion, and it tells the story of Jesus’ ministry, as the fulfil[l]ment of that larger story, with a paradoxical outcome” (230; Wright’s italics).

  • The seed is interpreted as the “true Israel, who will be vindicated when her god finally acts . . . ” (232).

  • The parable of the prodigal son is the story of Israel’s exile and restoration. This is the main theme. Babylon had taken the people into captivity; Babylon fell, and the people returned. But in Jesus’ day many, if not most, Jews regarded the exile as still continuing. The people had returned in a geographical sense, but the great prophecies of restoration had not yet come true.

  • The saying about fearing not those who kill the body but the one who can cast a person into Gehenna refers not to God but to Satan. The one who can kill the body is Rome, but the real enemy to be feared is Satan (454–55)

  • In the cleansing of the Temple Jesus says that God’s house had become a den of robbers. Wright interprets this as meaning that the Temple had become a den of revolutionary zealots and brigands. "

I would like to finish my brief critique of Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God with two concluding questions. The first is the question, “How does the fall of Jerusalem in ad 70 vindicate Jesus?” Wright’s reply is that “[Jesus], and his people, would be vindicated when Jerusalem, having rejected his message of peace, chose war and suffered the consequences” (324)
[i.e. when Jerusalem was destroyed]. “So closely do [Jesus’ Messiahship and his prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem] belong together . . . that the destruction of the Temple . . . is bound up with Jesus’ own vindication, as prophet and also as Messiah” (511). “When [Jesus’] prophecy of its destruction comes true, that event will demonstrate that he was indeed the Messiah who had the authority over it” (511). The destruction of Jerusalem for Wright serves as a vindication of Jesus’ message, since he spoke of its destruction. Like the OT prophets, Jesus’ verification as a true prophet would come through the fulfillment of his prophetic message. “As a prophet, Jesus
staked his reputation on his prediction of the Temple’s fall within a generation; if and when it fell, he would thereby be vindicated” (362). Yet exactly how this would vindicate him as not just a prophet but as the Messiah is not altogether clear, since the prophecies of all true prophets were fulfilled."

The NT does not place the vindication of Jesus in ad 70. Rather, it sees this as taking place in his resurrection. Paul states that Jesus was “designated Son of God in power . . . by his resurrection from the dead” (1:4). It is because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, not the fall of Jerusalem in ad 70, that Peter says, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Nothing is said here concerning ad 70. Jesus, himself, when asked to give a sign to vindicate his claims said, “No sign shall be given to [this sinful and adulterous generation] except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:39–40). It is clearly the resurrection of Jesus that is the vindication of his message and claims. The followers of Jesus were not waiting in some sort of limbo for forty years until the fall of Jerusalem in order to discover if God would vindicate Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. The almost complete absence of any mention of ad 70 in Acts, Paul, and the rest of the NT, together with the church’s central teaching that, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9), indicates that the church saw Jesus’ vindication in the resurrection, not the fall of Jerusalem." (N. T. Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God: A Review Article,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44.2 (June 2001) 207-218.)


"Hahn then built a whole theology around this concept, using Protestant N.T. Wright as his mentor - the very scholar who is still fostering the Reformation concept of forensic imputation as the means of justification." (Art Sippo and the Demise of Catholic Apologetics - Catholic Apologetics International

"Sippo: Scott is very well read in the Patristic literature and is on the cutting edge of modern biblical scholarship. Anyone who has tried to keep up with the field knows that the movement for "biblical theology" is a new and exciting area of study that crosses confessional lines and participates in the New Pauline Perspective which has been systematically dismantling the classical Protestant interpretation of Scripture in favor of a view of soteriology that is more favorable to the traditional Catholic position. R. Sungenis: Thanks for proving my point. In case you didn't catch it, Sippo has admitted by the statement "crosses confessional lines and participates in the New Pauline Perspective," that he and Hahn have received their newfound ideas on soteriology from Protestants. Need I say more?" )

We have just learned (from Bishop Wright himself) that Bishop N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham in the apostate Anglican Church and leading spokesman for the New Perspective on Paul and new Quest for the Historical Jesus  movements, will be a featured speaker at the Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference in Louisiana in January 2005.                      
    Helen Straughan, the Bishop's Administrative Assistant, also referred us to Jeffrey Steel of the John Knox Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Ruston, Louisiana, for details. (Steel is a supporter and colleague of Steve Wilkins in the Louisiana Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. You can view Steel in his clerical costumes at                     
    The Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference is the annual conference sponsored by the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church of Monroe, Louisiana.  The Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.  Both the denomination and that particular church profess to believe the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Auburn Avenue Church has also adopted a "Summary Statement" that contradicts the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith).                 
    At the Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference next month, January 2004, the AAPC, in addition to its own clergymen, Steve Wilkins and Rich Lusk,  will feature speakers John Frame (they seem to have given Mr. Frame an unearned doctorate at their church website) of the Formerly Reformed Theological Seminary; the perennial conference favorite Douglas Wilson (the AAPC has not yet awarded him a doctorate) from Moscow, Idaho; and Dr. John Armstrong, a Baptist who heads the misleadingly named "Reformation and Revival Ministries."  (Apparently Steve Wilkins and the session of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church have no objections to a Baptist teaching in their church, so long as the Baptist denies the merits of Christ, repudiates the Gospel, and preaches covenantal legalism.)    
    The appearance of Bishop N. T. Wright in January 2005 will be the culmination of years of efforts by the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church to replace the Gospel of justification by faith alone with another message in the PCA. The AAPC has published and promoted N. T. Wright's new "gospel" in their nationally distributed church newsletter, and now they are planning to host Wright himself at their 2005 conference.     
    Meanwhile, neither the Louisiana Presbytery nor the Presbyterian Church in America as a whole has taken any effective action  to stop the growing apostasy in their midst.    
John Robbins
The Trinity Foundation
December 15, 2003

Farewell to the Rapture
(N.T. Wright, Bible Review, August 2001.  Reproduced by permission of the author)

Little did Paul know how his colorful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later.

The American obsession with the second coming of Jesus — especially with distorted interpretations of it — continues unabated.  Seen from my side of the Atlantic, the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre[1].  Few in the U.K. hold the belief on which the popular series of novels is based: that there will be a literal “rapture” in which believers will be snatched up to heaven, leaving empty cars crashing on freeways and kids coming home from school only to find that their parents have been taken to be with Jesus while they have been “left behind.”  This pseudo-theological version of Home Alone has reportedly frightened many children into some kind of (distorted) faith.

This dramatic end-time scenario is based (wrongly, as we shall see) on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

What on earth (or in heaven) did Paul mean?

It is Paul who should be credited with creating this scenario.  Jesus himself, as I have argued in various books, never predicted such an event[2].  The gospel passages about “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Mark 13:26, 14:62, for example) are about Jesus’ vindication, his “coming” to heaven from earth.  The parables about a returning king or master (for example, Luke 19:11-27) were originally about God returning to Jerusalem, not about Jesus returning to earth.  This, Jesus seemed to believe, was an event within space-time history, not one that would end it forever.

The Ascension of Jesus and the Second Coming are nevertheless vital Christian doctrines[3], and I don’t deny that I believe some future event will result in the personal presence of Jesus within God’s new creation.  This is taught throughout the New Testament outside the Gospels.  But this event won’t in any way resemble the Left Behind account.  Understanding what will happen requires a far more sophisticated cosmology than the one in which “heaven” is somewhere up there in our universe, rather than in a different dimension, a different space-time, altogether.

The New Testament, building on ancient biblical prophecy, envisages that the creator God will remake heaven and earth entirely, affirming the goodness of the old Creation but overcoming its mortality and corruptibility (e.g., Romans 8:18-27; Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17, 66:22).  When that happens, Jesus will appear within the resulting new world (e.g., Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2).

Paul’s description of Jesus’ reappearance in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a brightly colored version of what he says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21: At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing,” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless.  This is all that Paul intends to say in Thessalonians, but here he borrows imagery—from biblical and political sources—to enhance his message.  Little did he know how his rich metaphors would be misunderstood two millennia later.

First, Paul echoes the story of Moses coming down the mountain with the Torah.  The trumpet sounds, a loud voice is heard, and after a long wait Moses comes to see what’s been going on in his absence.

Second, he echoes Daniel 7, in which “the people of the saints of the Most High” (that is, the “one like a son of man”) are vindicated over their pagan enemy by being raised up to sit with God in glory.  This metaphor, applied to Jesus in the Gospels, is now applied to Christians who are suffering persecution.

Third, Paul conjures up images of an emperor visiting a colony or province.  The citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city.  Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world.

Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere.

Paul’s misunderstood metaphors present a challenge for us: How can we reuse biblical imagery, including Paul’s, so as to clarify the truth, not distort it?  And how can we do so, as he did, in such a way as to subvert the political imagery of the dominant and dehumanizing empires of our world?  We might begin by asking, What view of the world is sustained, even legitimized, by the Left Behind ideology?  How might it be confronted and subverted by genuinely biblical thinking?  For a start, is not the Left Behind mentality in thrall to a dualistic view of reality that allows people to pollute God’s world on the grounds that it’s all going to be destroyed soon?  Wouldn’t this be overturned if we recaptured Paul’s wholistic vision of God’s whole creation?

[1] Tim F. Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind (Cambridge, UK: Tyndale House Publishing, 1996).  Eight other titles have followed, all runaway bestsellers.

[2] See my Jesus and the Victory of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1996); the discussions in Jesus and the Restoration of Israel: A Critical Assessment of N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, ed. Carey C. Newman (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999); and Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), chapters 13 and 14.

[3] Douglas Farrow, Ascension and Ecclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).

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29 Sep 2003


Son of Man

 Let us walk safely away from the never-ending speculation about future would-be "apocalyptic" figures, such as the supposed 'heavenly son of man' who would 'come' - i.e. 'return', downwards to earth, on a literal cloud. This monstrosity, much beloved (though for different reasons) by both fundamentalists and would-be 'critical' scholars, can be left behind, appropriately enough, in the center of his mythological maze where it will no doubt continue to lure unwary travelers to a doom consisting of endless footnotes and ever-increasing epicycles of hypothetical and unprovable traditions.

The truly 'apocalyptic' 'son of man' has nothing to do with such a figure.  Within the historical world of the first century, Daniel was read as a revolutionary kingdom-of-god text, in which Israel's true representative(s) would be vindicated after their trial and suffering at the hands of the pagans. Jesus, as part of his prophetic work of announcing the kingdom, aligned himself with the 'people of the saints of the most high', that is, with the 'one like a son of man'. In other words, he regarded himself as the one who summed up Israel's vocation and destiny in himself. He was the one in and through whom the real 'return from exile' would come about, indeed, was already coming about.

He was the Messiah.

29 Sep 2003


" Let us walk safely away from the never-ending speculation about future would-be "apocalyptic" figures, such as the supposed 'heavenly son of man' who would 'come' - i.e. 'return', downwards to earth, on a literal cloud. This monstrosity, much beloved (though for different reasons) by both fundamentalists and would-be 'critical' scholars, can be left behind, appropriately enough, in the center of his mythological maze, where it will no doubt continue to lure unwary travelers to a doom consisting of endless footnotes and ever-increasing epicycles of hypothetical and unprovable traditions. The truly 'apocalyptic' 'son of man' has nothing to do with such a figure. Within the historical world of the first century, Daniel was read as a revolutionary kingdom-of-god text, in which Israel's true representative(s) would be vindicated after their trial and suffering at the hands of the pagans. Jesus, as part of his prophetic work of announcing the kingdom, aligned himself with the 'people of the saints of the most high', that is, with the 'one like a son of man'. In other words, he regarded himself as the one who summed up Israel's vocation and destiny in himself. He was the one in and through whom the real 'return from exile' would come about, indeed, was already coming about. He was the Messiah." N.T. Wright.

30 Sep 2003


Arguments probably will rage endlessly about Wright's views but at least, unlike the typical preterist, he has recognized 1) the importance of the satanic cult of emperor worship in the first-century world and 2) in opposition to the imperial claims of worldwide sovereignty, the prophetic expectation that Israel's King would become the King of the world - see the above excerpts from his Paul's Gospel and Caesar's Empire. There's no evidence, however, that he has recognized the critically important role of those facts in Bible typology.

10 Feb 2004


I have received communications like the one above from The Trinity Foundation for a while now and have heard numerous complaints regarding Bp. Wright such as the slanderous screed above. Such attacks have recalled to my mind the classic, "liar, lunatic, lord?" options that I first gleaned from C.S. Lewis with regard to the person of Jesus. Applied here, these three options could be recast in the following way: 1) The editor has thoroughly read and digested the writings of N.T. Wright and has deliberately persisted in bearing false witness. 2) The editor has read little or none of the Wright's works and has founded his accusations on rumor and/or his own truncated comprehension. 3) The editor is a lunatic and an anti-Catholic bigot who cares nothing of Wright or the fate of the Church universal and simply writes to arouse controversy and attract a perverse kind of attention. Wright could not be farther from a Pelagian or a Medieval Roman Catholic. Even his briefest treatments of justification are carefully formulated to maintain consistency with Reformed presentations of the faith. Having met him on a couple of occasions, I can testify that he is thoroughly orthodox, a serious and devout Christian, and a self-consious servant of our Lord's church. Wright has been patient and sensitive toward those who have misunderstood his writings and has suffered fools admirably. With regard to the specifics of his understanding of salvation, I will merely quote at length from his monograph, What St. Paul Really Said: "If we grasp the gospel and the doctrine of justification in the way that I have outlined, there can be no danger, in theory or practice, of a clash between ?justification by faith? and the Christian obligation to holiness. For centuries now devout Christians, aware of the ever-present danger of Pelagianism, of pride in one?s own moral self-worth, have found it difficult to articulate how and why Christians ought to be moral, ought to be holy in thought, word, and deed. Sometimes in their eagerness not to slacken the moral demand, they have in fact slid back into Pelagianism. At other times, perhaps not least at the moment, a half-understood and half-grasped doctrine of justification by faith has been used to shore up an anti-moralism which, even though it occurs within the church, has roots instead in secular culture, not least within post-modernism." "But this is a travesty. Paul's doctrine of justification is completely dependent on his gospel, which as we have seen is the proclamation of Jesus as Lord. Allegiance to this Jesus must be total. One of Paul's key phrases is 'the obedience of faith'. Faith and obedience are not antithetical. They belong exactly together. Indeed, very often the word 'faith' itself could properly be translated 'faithfulness', which makes the point just as well. Nor, of course, does this then compromise the gospel or justification, smuggling in 'works' by a back door. That would only be the case if the realignment I have been arguing for throughout were not grasped. Faith, even in this active sense, is never and in no way a qualification, provided from the human side, either for getting into God?s family or for staying there once in. It is the God-given badge of membership, neither more nor less. Holiness is the appropriate human condition for those who, by grace alone, find themselves as believing members of the family of God." (p. 160) Now this brief quote does not represent the final word with regard to Wright's understanding of justification by faith. It does, however, oblige any critic to accept his self-description as a reformed theologian at face value. Only then should we point out possible inconsistencies in a careful and thoughtful manner. With regard to the other, ecclesial smears such as labeling the Anglican communion "apostate," I would only respond by asking if the anathemas of a schismatic can be accepted as holding any water? The Church of Jesus Christ has been around longer than neo-puritan Calvinism and has produced saints who have nobily defended orthodoxy and transformed the face of the earth with their martyr's blood. Until his narrow, white, ethnocentric, and male spin on the gospel is able to sustain and nurture genuine faith in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, I would invite him in all sobriety to remain silent. In any case, absent anything like a careful, thoughtful critique of Wright from the Trinity Foundation in the four years that I have received the newsletter, I find myself left with the following options: liar, fool, or sociopath? Rev. Michael J. Pahls Mt. Prospect, Illinois

Date: 07 Jun 2006
Time: 14:38:19


To R.Stein
You said that in Acts ch 2 we find no mention of 70 AD. Yet Peter has a sense of urgency when he encourages the Jews to be saved from this generation. Why the urgency? For the Day of the Lord is coming! The whole point of Acts 2 is that the Disciples were fulfilling the prophecy of Joel...which said that the prophecy would be fulfilled before the Great and terrible Day of the LORD. I believe by comparing scripture with scripture we must conclude that the day of the lord was fufilled in the war between the Jews and the Romans.

Date: 15 Feb 2007
Time: 06:47:49


we have to live and let live. "the secret things belong to God but what has been revealed belongs to us and our children forever." being overly certain about things not fully revealed is problematic.

Date: 30 Jul 2009
Time: 20:53:30

Your Comments:

I want to thank you for pointing out that the true vindication of Jesus as Messiah was accomplished in His resurrection. Those who hold to Wright's thesis are difficult to correct or counter. Knowing WHY something is errant and where that can be found is crucial to combatting heresy - no matter who promotes it.


Date: 22 Dec 2010
Time: 14:27:42

Your Comments:

if you read more of Wright's work than just these brief quotes and spend a little time reading scripture you will better understand a lot of what Wright is saying. i too have spent several hours with Tom Wright. Wright is as "evangelical" as they come but he is not a fundamentalist in the American forms of Christianity. Wright's whole point about Jesus' discussion concerning the son of man coming in the clouds is based on his understanding of 1st century Judiasm. Wright understands the imagery as one of victory. Jesus riding on the clouds is a symbol of victory. victory over his enemies. Wright believes that Jesus' Olivet discourse is about Jesus being declared victorious over the powers that exist in Jerusalem. That the fall of Jerusalem is God's judgment upon the nation for its wickedness (i.e. rejection of Jesus among other things). by vindication, Wright does not mean that Jesus is proven to be the Messiah necessarily, but that Jerusalem has been judged and Judiasm has run its course and that the sacrifical system is no longer needed. Jesus was vindicated. Jesus was right by saying that the temple was going to be destroyed and never rebuilt is true. Jesus and his followers were vindicated or proven to be the true nation of Israel, the true descendents of Abraham. everything that Jesus had said came to pass. Jesus' message and his movement were vindicated or proven to be correct or proven to be even more correct by the destruction of Jerusalem. the resurrection only proved that Jesus was the messiah, the destruction of Jerusalem proved that Jesus and his people were the true continuation of Israel and of God's people. therefore Jesus was vindicated in a sense with Jerusalem falling.

if Jesus did see the destruction of Jerusalem as his vindication then what is wrong with that? can't Paul "interpret" something slightly different than Jesus and they both be right? i mean the meaning of the cross has several different interpretations. Jesus saw it a ransom, Paul saw it as victory. this is not contradictory, but different understandings of the same event. two people can have differing opinions or interpretations and both be right, especially when the object or event has theological significants.

blessings in the name of the one who is, who was and who is to come...
mason booth..

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