Is the Idea of the Imminent Return of Jesus Biblical?

I recall the traumatic experience of seeing the movie A Thief in the Night as a teenager. The film was about how Jesus could return at any moment—like a thief in the night, a description borrowed from 1 Thessalonians 5:2. The message: If we weren’t believers, we could be left behind by the Lord. The movie didn’t lead to my decision to put my faith in Christ, but it did accomplish one desired effect—it scared me. Is the idea of the imminent return of Jesus biblical?
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How Many Times Is Jesus Coming Back?

Few things in the Bible attract more attention than prophecies about the end times. Even people with only a passing acquaintance with the Bible know that it foretells a second coming of Jesus. Those who study the Bible know the book of Revelation reveals that the second coming brings an end to the reign of the antichrist (the “beast”; Rev 19:11–21). The risen Christ, the incarnation of God, returns to earth not as a suffering Savior, but as the glorious warrior-king. But does the Bible describe an earlier return of Jesus—one that precedes this triumphant arrival? [Read more…]

Did Abraham Meet Jesus?

Some of the most startling things in the Bible are hidden in plain sight.

Galatians 3:7 is a case in point. Amid the predictable focus on law, grace, and the gospel, Paul blindsides us: “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’” [Read more…]

Charlton Heston Had Company

When we hear “Moses’ Law,” we think of the story we heard in Sunday school or the scene from The Ten Commandments where Charlton Heston (a.k.a. Moses) gets the two tablets from God. But what if I told you Moses and God weren’t alone?

It may come as a surprise, but the New Testament tells us in three places that the Law was delivered by angels, members of God’s divine council. Here are two of those passages: [Read more…]

Are Bible Translators Traitors?

A famous Italian proverb declares “traduttore, traditore,” which means, “translator, traitor.” Those who assume this is true are unaware [of] how difficult it is to produce a translation. Every translator at some point invariably discards the meaning of the original text. [Read more…]

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered—to Satan?

Throughout the New Testament, “family language” is used to describe the relationship of believers to God and Jesus. The Lord’s prayer instructs us to address God as “our Father” (Matt 6:9). Hebrews 2:11–12 reveals that Jesus considers believers his own siblings. Paul says Christians comprise “the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). How is it, then, that Paul tells Christians living in Corinth that believers unrepentantly living in sin should not only be put out of the Church (1 Cor 5:9–13) but also “delivered to Satan” (1 Cor 5:5)? [Read more…]

Did Jesus Have Female Apostles?

Paul’s final greetings to the Roman Church seem typical. We might just skim over the list of names without a second thought. But one name within that list has become the focus of controversy and heated debate:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. (Rom 16:7) [Read more…]

The Gospel, Spain, and the Ends of the Earth

“I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain” says Paul, while imprisoned. His ambitions are repeated a few verses later: “When therefore I have completed this … I will leave for Spain by way of you” (Rom 15:28). It’s certainly ambitious for him to be making travel plans. But Paul wasn’t making casual conversation or planning a vacation. He believed that his life and ministry would not end until he reached Spain. We aren’t sure if Paul made it, but he was passionate about getting there. Why? He saw himself in the prophecy of Isaiah 66. [Read more…]

Should Missing Apostolic Letters Cause Us Concern?

Unless you’ve been on an extended vacation from popular culture, you know there’s been discussion about how we got the New Testament. Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code based its conspiratorial plot in part on the notion that other gospels had been eradicated by spiteful church authorities and an emperor openly partial to orthodoxy. The success of the novel prompted many churchgoers to ask whether or not all the books that should be included in the New Testament actually were. [Read more…]

Behind the Magic: Peter, Simon, and an Episode in Samaria

The book of Acts is a favorite of preachers, so you are likely familiar with the showdown in Acts 8:9–24 between Peter and Simon the Magician. Luke tells us that Simon had practiced his magic in a city in Samaria where he had been hailed as “God’s Great Power.” Simon heard the gospel preached by Philip and believed, but later, after Peter’s arrival, he tried to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter. [Read more…]