Investigating the Bible: Did Jesus get timing wrong?


On October 22, 1844, thousands of followers of Baptist minister William Miller waited on rooftops and hilltops for the rapture he had predicted. They were called Millerites and wore white robes; many sold all their possessions. The day came and no one was lifted to heaven. In recent times, radio minister Harold Camping had five different dates for the second coming, starting on September 6, 1994. When each date came and uneventfully passed, he’d choose another.

Near the end of Jesus’ earthly life, his disciples asked him for signs of his return and the end of the world. He described many calamities and then said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matthew 24:34 English Standard Version used throughout.) Was Jesus wrong on the time of his second coming? The verses before and after his statement give the answer.

Jesus said there would be natural disasters, persecutions of believers, wars and rumors of wars, and the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem before the Son of Man returns in the clouds to “…gather his elect.” (Matthew 24:31.) Many of the events Jesus predicted did occur during the first century. Cities were destroyed by earthquakes throughout the middle east. Persecutions and cruel death came when Emperor Nero falsely blamed Christians for setting ablaze much of Rome in A.D. 64. There were wars in many parts of the known world. The ancient historian Josephus wrote that in the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70, over one million Jews were killed. The temple was plundered, its massive stone columns toppled, and the debris burned beyond recognition. Jesus stated these things would occur before his second coming.

On the time of his return, Jesus said no one knows, not even him. “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36.) To illustrate this he told the story of Noah: “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man…they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark.” (Matthew 24:36-37.) Noah’s contemporaries mocked him. When the rains came and never stopped, they were caught unprepared.

Jesus also compared the unpredictability of his return to a nighttime thief. “…[I]f the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:43-44.)

Early believers hoped for the soon return of Jesus. At his last resurrection appearance with his disciples, they asked when he would restore the kingdom of Israel. He said, “…It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7.) The apostle Paul thought he might live to see Jesus return. He wrote, “…we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” (I Thessalonians 4:15.) Time passed, Jesus did not return, and the apostle Peter offered encouragement: “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief and then the heavens will pass away with a roar…according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (II Peter 3:8-10,13.)

David Carlson Pastor (yes, that is his last name, not his profession) is a Polk County resident and graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary in Minnesota (M.Div.)



Nero could not have blamed Christians for the fire in 64 CE because Christianity was not invented yet. The first book, Mark, was written approximately in 75 CE, after the Jewish war of 70 CE. Piso was writing from the future looking back to make predictions appear to be true. Actually, he was writing past history.

The ark story is interesting. There are 3 ark stories, and the one about Noah is the most recent. Each time God spoke to a man and told him He was going to destroy everyone except him, and then He gave directions to build the ark. The HISTORY and FACT is that that part of the world is insecure for flooding.

Josephus was Piso. It was common practice then to use false names, mainly to avoid execution by the emperor, losing one’s status, etc.

All the second coming stuff is about the Romans returning if the Jews didn’t behave. Ever wonder why a ‘prince of peace’ replaced Eleazer, the leader of the Jewish rebellion; presented as Lazarus in the Bible, which has to do with the ‘root’, ‘branch’, ‘cutting off the branch’ - Eleazer, and ‘grafting on a new branch to the root’ - Jesus? Ever wonder why Paul wound up in Rome? Ever wonder why Christianity was stared in Rome?

Popes were descendants of Roman emperors. One day a pope stood up and declared that he was God because he was emperor of Rome! The word of God …. That’s where it comes from; the senate appoints emperors as gods. History.

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