the "coming" of Christ in ad 70
Were the disciples of Jesus two thousand years out in expecting his imminent coming in their day?
Firstly look at James 5:1:
“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
When would these miseries come upon them? The end of verse three provides the answer: “the last days”. Paul also terms it “the last days” in Hebrews 1:2 when God spoke by His Son.
James continues in verse 7:
“Be patient therefore brethren, unto the coming (parousia) of the Lord. Verse 8 “be ye also patient” (like the husbandman of verse 7). “stablish your hearts, for the coming (parousia) of the Lord draweth nigh” and verse 9: “behold the judge standeth before the door.”
The Greek word for coming: “parousia” is rendered “presence” in 2 Cor. 10:10; & Phil. 2:12, a ‘being near’ specifically of Christ to punish Jerusalem. Peter used this word three times in his second epistle, in chapter 1 vs 16, and chapter 3, 4 &12). Notice verse 7: “but the heavens and the earth which are now”. The Mosaic Heavens and earth, to “pass away” (v. 10), and the “elements” is referred to in verse 12. The elementary, or “rudimentary” things of the law to bring God’s children to Christ (Gal. 3:24—note 4:3 “elements” (the Law of Moses) and verse 9, Col 2:8 & 20.
Returning to Peter’s use of perousia in 2 Peter 1:16, Peter is referring to the presence of Jesus, on the mount with Moses and Elijah and Peter, James and John—Mat. 17:1.
The first time that the word occurs is in Matthew 24:3. The disciples showed the buildings of the Temple, in verse 1. Jesus answered by telling them that it was all going to be destroyed. “See ye” etc and “I say unto you.” “Ye” and “you” is used 17 times in this chapter, as he was speaking privately to his disciples (verse 3) about the signs concerning AD 70, for they asked three questions:
“tell us when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy presence and the end of the age”. See also Mark 16:15-20: “and they went forth and preached everywhere” (see also Rom. 10:18, Col. 1:5-6, 23)
There is a very interesting verse in Matthew chapter 10 in connection with the disciples and preaching. From verse 16, Jesus talks about his sending them forth as sheep in the midst of wolves and the persecution they would receive. The interesting verse is verse 23:
“But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the son of man be come”
– which was AD70. It can have no other meaning.
Another interesting passage in connection with his “coming” in AD70 with the Roman Armies is the parable of the vineyard, as recorded in Matthew 21:
“But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves: this is the heir, let us kill him and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the Lord of the Vineyard cometh, what will he do unto these husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let it out unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.”
So he came in AD 70 and destroyed them.
In chapter 22 of Matthew is the parable of the marriage feast, with the invitation given firstly to the Jews “and they would not come”. But he continued to invite them “my oxen and my fatlings are killed” which points to the sacrifice of Jesus, followed by the persecution of the disciples in verse 6. So we read in verse 7: “But when the king heard thereof, he was wrath, and he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers (cp Acts 7:52) and burned up their city. Jesus was here alluding to Daniel 8:11-12:
“Yea he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered.”
And chapter 9, verse 26:
“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”
Stephen also spoke of Jesus of Nazareth destroying Jerusalem and removing the Law (see Acts 6:14). Also, Paul in Hebrews 10:37, quoting Habakkuk 2:3 (but giving it an immediate application as he tried to encourage them to hold fast during their persecution and to be patient, v 36): “that after he have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise”. You will not have to endure much longer, for “yet a little while” and I like Brother Thomas’ comment upon this verse “a little while” – seven years longer, there was consolation in this for after the coming, the Jews would have no more power to persecute them (Herald 1860, p 274).
This shows again that his coming was immanent, not two thousand years away.
Another interesting verse is John 21:22: “Jesus saith unto him [Peter] If I will that he [John] tarry till I come what is that to thee? Follow thou me.” John was the only disciple to witness the coming of Jesus in AD70.