Re: [asa] A theology question (imminent return of Christ)

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Wed Oct 22 2008 - 20:30:46 EDT

Hi Ed,

How can you assert that there was no doubt in Paul's mind that the gospel
had been preached to "the whole world", just after pointing out in 2 Thess
that Paul was praying that the word of the Lord would spread rapidly? And
I'd point out that preaching to the whole world is distinct from the whole
world having been preached to - Romans 10 is particularly concerned with the
results of preaching to and in Israel, and doesn't indicate that the job of
preaching is finished. Only that preaching had certainly taken place in the
area of question. That's worth considering in Romans 16 as well - clearly
Paul is continuing to preach, and others are preaching as well (indeed, it
seems as if preaching has been going on rather uninterrupted for quite
awhile). It puts the issue in some interesting context, especially in light
of your own verses ('constantly bearing fruit and increasing'? Again, that
speaks against the idea that the spread was finished.)

You're insisting that Paul knew that the gospel was already preached to all
the ends of the world.. and that's why they better spread the gospel
rapidly. Huh.

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 8:09 PM, Edward T. Babinski <>wrote:

> Hi Christine,
> You mentioned Romans 8:19-23. But what about other verses in Romans:
> "...The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with
> the glory that is soon [mello] to be revealed to us... The whole creation
> groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now... We... groan
> within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption
> of our body. ...Knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to
> awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed!
> The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand... The God of peace will
> soon crush Satan under your feet."
> -- Rom 8:18,22-23; 13:11-12; 16:20
> Paul [if Paul wrote 2 Thes] also "prayed" that "the word of the Lord would
> spread rapidly," why the hurry?
> Neither was there any doubt in Paul or the author of Revelation's mind that
> the gospel had already been preached to "the whole world," i.e., the Roman
> Empire from Spain to Jerusalem. [That was "the whole world" -- see citations
> from the N.T. as well as Igantius and Augustine that prove that was the view
> and usage of "whole world" back then.] Therefore nothing prevented Jesus
> from returning "shortly":
> Their voice [of first century Christian preachers] has gone out into all
> the earth, and their words to the ends of the world... ...The revelation of
> the is manifested and...According to the commandment of the
> eternal God, has been made known to all the nations. [Rom 10:18; 16:25-26]
> ...The gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is
> constantly bearing fruit and increasing... ...The gospel...which was
> proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a
> minister. [Col 1:5-6,23]
> Back then the Roman Empire was recognized as the "whole world," i.e., Lk
> 2:1, "Caeser took a census of the whole world," and Acts 11:28, "...a great
> famine all over the world...took place in the reign of Claudius." Naturally,
> this conception influenced the belief in how "soon" the Son of Man would
> return, since Jesus predicted: "...this gospel of the kingdom shall be
> preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the
> end shall come." [Mat 24:14]. If the "whole world" according to the New
> Testament itself, referred to the Roman Empire, the "end" must have been
> expected very soon indeed! I wonder why God inspired the authors of the New
> Testament with such an archaic notion of the "whole world?" Even second
> century Christian fathers made the same identification of the Roman Empire
> with the "whole world." Irenaeus (125-202 A.D.), one of the earliest Fathers
> of the Church, wrote in his book, Revolution and Overthrow of False
> Knowledge
> (or Against Heresies), circa 180 A.D.:
> Now the Church, spread throughout all the world even to the ends of the
> earth, received from the apostles and their disciples her belief... [1.10.1]
> ...the Church has carefully preserved it [its kerygma and faith], as though
> dwelling in a single house, even though she has been spread over the entire
> world. [1.10.2]
> Anyone who wishes to see the truth can observe the apostle's traditions
> made manifest in every church throughout the whole world. [3.3.1-2]
> Augustine was another Church Father who was aware of Paul's belief that the
> Gospel "had" already been preached to the "whole world." Paul wrote in
> Romans, "Their line has gone out through all the world, and their words to
> the ends of the earth." Augustine dwelt with great force on the fact that
> St. Paul based one of his most powerful arguments upon this declaration
> regarding the earliest preachers of the gospel (Rom. 10:18), and that, as
> those preachers did not go to the opposite side of the earth to preach the
> gospel, no people must exist there; hence those who believe such things,
> "give the lie direct to King David and to St. Paul, and therefore to the
> Holy Ghost." Thus the great bishop of Hippo taught the whole world for over
> a thousand years that, as there was no preaching of the gospel on the
> opposite side of the earth, there could be no human beings there. [A. D.
> White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom,
> Vol. 1] If I
> may be forgiven for injecting levity there's a quotation by Mark Twain
> that also strikes me as relevant: "The Biblical prophets wrote book after
> book and epistle after epistle, yet never once hinted at the existence of a
> great continent on our side of the water; yet they must have known it was
> there, I should think."
> As for the argument that the apostles must have known that people existed
> beyond the boundaries of the "world" of the Roman Empire, yes, certainly, as
> "heathens" living outside of civilization (and for whom provision was made
> in Paul's letter to the Romans, chapters 1-2), so Rome remained the "whole
> world" to Paul who prayed that "the word" might spread "rapidly," from
> Jerusalem to Spain, before the day of final judgment.
> The mystery of lawlessness is already at work... Pray...that the word of
> the Lord may spread rapidly... [2 Thes 2:7; 3:1]
> The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining...The
> world is passing away ["This world, as it is now, will not last much longer"
> - Today's English Version], and also its lusts...It is the last hour [circa
> 100 A.D.]; and just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now
> many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. [1
> John 2:17,18]

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Received on Wed Oct 22 20:31:09 2008

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