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

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Wed Oct 22 2008 - 22:37:02 EDT

Hi Ed,

The problem is that 'pray it spreads rapidly' means 'the preaching is not
finished'. There's no way around that, and it was far from the only problem
mentioned in your stance here - and these, with verses you provided to back
up the claim. And again, there is a difference between 'we are preaching
throughout the whole world' and 'the whole world has been preached to', and
the distinction is key. The former indicates the undergoing of a process -
the latter indicates the cessation of that process. Your bringing up of
Augustine only adds some confusion for what you're claiming - you may want
to ponder what Augustine meant when he regarded Paul's time as the last
days, and how that relates to 'how much moreso now'.

Further, what your 'main point' now is still doesn't wash. You honestly
can't imagine any other reason than parousia for why Paul and other
christians would hope for a rapid spread of the gospel? More justifiably, it
was because they thought the gospel was itself important to spread in and of
itself - and considering that the importance of preaching and spreading the
gospel has continued from that time to this day with regards to christians,
I think that much is secure. What you seem to be missing - and I admit it's
subtle - is a distinction between preaching to the world, and the entire
world having been preached to. They simply are not the same thing, any more
than having churches throughout the 'whole world' nowadays means 'the whole
world has been preached to'. What's more, apparently Paul himself thought
this - hence that continued preaching, apparently until he was no longer

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 10:15 PM, Edward T. Babinski <>wrote:

> ED: Hi Schwarzwald (sorry, don't know your first name),
> To answer your question, the verse about "pray it spreads rapidly," is in 2
> Thess, whose authorship is contested. If that letter was written early (1
> Thess. is judged to be Paul's earliest genuine letter, but 2 Thess. might
> not even be by Paul) then perhaps the "rapidity of the spread" was what was
> most important early on, especially if they believed a final judgment was
> coming soon. By the time Romans was written and a congregation had formed in
> the heart of the Roman Empire to which all roads lead, Paul may have gained
> the confidence and hutzpa to announce that the word had already been
> preached to, citing a psalm by the way, "Their line has gone out into all
> the world." He says something just as explicit in some verses in Colossians.
> Ignatius says chuches were spread throughout the "whole world" (meaning the
> Roman Empire) Augustine checked out that same psalm about "their line has
> gone out unto all the world," and cited Paul as well to the effect that
> people could not live on the other side of the world because per the holy
> scriptures the Gospel had already been preached to the whole world, and that
> didn't include sending ships to the world's opposite side. So there simply
> weren't any people there. Paul also wrote, "These late times = last days,"
> and Augustine wrote "Those were the last days then, how much moreso now?"
> But the main point about the verse is, why pray for a message to spread
> "rapidly" unless time was deemed of the essence, and then you have to ask
> why was it deemed of the essence? Other verses explain that, for instance,
> like Paul's prediction, "We shall not all sleep," in response to Christians
> who had seen people in their church passing away, and still no parousia.
> Paul was keeping parousia fever alive.
> From: Schwarzwald <> 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? 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.)

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Received on Wed Oct 22 22:37:39 2008

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