Jesus Was Mistaken ?
Proposition: “Jesus’ prophecies went unfulfilled, therefore He was wrong”
If we do attribute such an error to Jesus in a matter that was related to the major theme of His ministry (the kingdom of God), how can we then listen to Him with confidence when He tells us of His unique divine Sonship
See Also : Regressive Preterism : “If Preterism is not true, then Jesus is a Liar.”
The position is commonly stated as follows, “Christ was not God’s Son, because He publicly declared, ‘You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come’, and then He did not return, before they did.” Others seize upon the numerous other eschatological passages of Christ, to support this assertion.
Following are examples of this and related raillery, and the particular reason being given for this rejection of Christ and Christianity.
“Jesus did not come back “quickly,” as promised, to judge mankind. The time has long past that one can claim Jesus will come back “quickly.” Thus, what we have in Revelation 22:20 is a false prophecy.”
“The expectation of Paul and the other New Testament authors was for the speedy arrival of the second coming in their generation. The use of “for yet a little while,” “shortly,” “the time is near,” and “I am coming quickly” point to the utter failure of the predictions that Jesus was coming a second time to do what he did not accomplish the first time.”
“There was to be fulfillment within the lifetimes of certain individuals alive at the time Jesus made the promise and following upon certain cataclysmic events which were to be witnessed by that generation. These events never occurred and the time for their occurrence has long since passed.”
“The second epistle of Peter is a late attempt to explain away the obvious fact that the second coming did not arrive at its appointed time.”
Jesus’ own statement shows that the culmination of the “tribulation period” was to see the parousia, the second coming of Jesus (Mark 13:26; Matthew 24:3, 30), which certainly did not occur during the (Roman-Jewish) war nor subsequently.”
Max I. Dimont (1971)
“Like the Christians, who continually had to postpone Judgment Day because Jesus failed to keep his appointment for a second coming, so the Jews, from century to century, had to postpone the arrival date of their messiah by new calculation.” (The Indestructible Jews, p. 174)
Pinches Stolper (1973)
“Since Jesus did not fulfill the most important Messianic prophecies, they expected him to return to complete this task in a “second coming.” At first, Christians expected that this “second coming” would come very shortly.. in their lifetime. When their prayer was not answered, they began to hope that it would come a thousand years after Jesus’ death. This was the millennium or “thousand year kingdom.” Finally, after a thousand years passed and Jesus still had not returned, they postponed his “second coming” to an indefinite time. We therefore see that the early Christians were forced to radically alter the Jewish concept of the Messiah in order to explain Jesus’ failure. This, compounded with the pagan influence in the early church, gave birth to a Messianic concept totally alien to Judaism.” (Pinches Stolper, ed. The Real Messiah. Reprinted from Jewish Youth, June 1973. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations. New York: 1973. p.15)
Samuel Levine (1980)
“You will discover that whenever any really strong question [such as why Jesus hasn’t fulfilled all Messianic prophecies].. is asked [of the Christians], the standard answer is that is refers to the second coming. It therefore becomes extremely important to ascertain the validity of this claim. The success of the Christian claim or its failure rests to a very large extent on the theory of the second coming. ..It is clearly an answer born of desperation.” (Samuel Levine. You Take Jesus, I’ll Take God. 1980, p.15)
“..most of the early Christians thought.. that Jesus would return within their own lifetime. ..However, after many went by, and the generation that lived in Jesus’ generation had all died, it became rather apparent that Jesus would not reappear in the near future. The doctrine was therefore changed so that his reappearing was not necessarily going to be in the near future.” (Levine, p. 16)
Rachel Zurer (1985)
“to spend almost two millennia trying to justify a pagan mythology, a mistaken messiah belief, and a mistaken eschatology stupefies the rational mind.” (Rachel Zurer, A Jew Examines Christianity. 1985, p.162)
AGNOSTIC / HUMANIST SOURCES
“Jesus failed at prophecy when he told his disciples that some would not taste death until they saw the Son of man coming in his kingdom Mt 16:27-28. If Jesus prophesied truthfully, some of Jesus’ disciples would still be alive today since we’re still waiting for his return. ” The Fundamentalist Christian mindset and the problem it presents for America)
W. R. Greg (1876)
“If, therefore, Jesus did not say these things, the gospels must be strangely inaccurate. If He did, His prophetic faculty cannot have been what Mr. Hutton conceives it to have been. That His disciples all confidently entertained this erroneous expectation, and entertained it on the supposed authority of their Master, there can he no doubt whatever. (See 1 Cor. x. 11, xv. 51 ; Phil. iv. 5 ; I Thess. iv. 15 ; James v. 8 ; I Peter iv. 7; 1 John ii. 18 ; Rev. i. 13, xxii. 7, 10, 12.) Indeed, Mr. Hutton recognises this at least as frankly and fully as we have stated it.”- (Contemporary Review, Nov. 1876.)
Bertrand Russell (1927)
“I am concerned with Christ as He appears in the Gospels, taking the gospel narrative as it stands, and there one does find some things that do not seem to be very wise. For one thing, He certainly thought that His second coming would occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at that time. There are a great many texts that prove that. He says, for instance, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.” Then He says, “There are some standing here which shall not taste death till the Son of Man comes into His kingdom”; and there are a lot of places where it is quite clear that He believed that His second coming would happen during the lifetime of many then living. That was the belief of His earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good deal of His moral teaching.. In that respect, clearly He was not so wise as some other people have been, and He was certainly not superlatively wise.” (Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian, 1927, p.3)
George Eldon Ladd (1972)
“These events are “soon” to “take place.” ..These words have troubled the commentators. The simplest solution is to take the preterist view and to say that John, like the entire Christian community, thought that the coming of the Lord was near, when in fact they were wrong. Our Lord himself seems to share this error in perspective in the saying: “This generation will not pass away before all these things take place (Mark 13:30).” (A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans; p. 22)
“To be candid, I find this treatment of the question somewhat disturbing. Ladd grants that “the simplest solution” is the preterist view, but he believes this drives us to the conclusion that the entire early Christian community, including the Apostle John and our Lord Himself was wrong. Of course this is not the preterist view. The preterist argues, not only that the entire early church believed the Lord’s coming was near (at least with respect to his coming in judgment to Israel), but also that this belief proved to be true.” (The Last Days According to Jesus, p. 134)
Rudolph Bultmann (1961)
“Jesus’ expectation of the near end of the world turned out to be an illusion.” (Theology in the New Testament, Vol. 1. p. 22)
C.S. Lewis (1960)
“Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”
It is certainly the most embarassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side….
The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so. To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be. For a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance. The answer of theologians is that the God-Man was omniscient as God, and ignorant as Man. This, no doubt, is true, though it cannot be imagined.” (Essay “The World’s Last Night” (1960), found in The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385)
W. G. Kummel (1957)
“Jesus does not only proclaim in quite general terms the future coming of the Kingdom of God, but also its imminence. What is more: on the one hand he emphasized this so concretely that he limited it to the lifetime of his hearers’ generation; yet on the other hand he only expected a part of them to live to experience this eschatological event; so he did not wish to limit its proximity too closely. It is perfectly clear that this prediction of Jesus was not realized and it is therefore impossible to assert that Jesus was not mistaken about this.” (Promise and Fulfillment, p. 148, 149)
On the Positive Side:
Marcellus Kik (1971)
“Sufficient has been quoted to evidence an utter confusion among scholars as to the interpretation of the teachings of the New Testament. There seems to be a unanimity that Christ was mistaken as were the apostles; no thought is allowed that the exegesis of the scholars may be at fault.” (p. 55)
“Perhaps there is a fine line between saying, on the one hand, that Jesus expected the parousia to occur shortly, without necessarily teaching that it definately would occur in finality within His generation, and on the other hand, saying that Jesus in fact taught that the parousia would occur in His generation, and in so doing was mistaken, since it did not occur. However, if we do attribute such an error to Jesus in a matter that was related to the major theme of His ministry (the kingdom of God), how can we then listen to Him with confidence when He tells us of His unique divine Sonship (e.g. Mt. 11:27)?” (pp. 30-31).
Robert Lightener (1971)
“According to his view, all eschatology – the doctrine of future things – was fulfilled at the Incarnation of Christ. Dodd arrives at this view by a process of wholesale discrediting of Scripture. With apparent ease he calls much of the Bible fraudulent. What is not fraudulent, he either explains away or distorts to fit his presuppositions and even goes so far as to say that Christ was simply mistaken in some of His prophecies. In other words the Lord Jesus Christ was wrong. (The Last Days Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Different views of Prophecy, p. 55)
R.E. Nixon (1970)
“Many scholars refer it to the parousia, and state that Jesus was mistaken about its date,” (“Matthew” in the New Bible Commentary, rev. ed.; D. Guthrie & J.A. Moyter; Eerdmans, p. 838.)
James Stuart Russell
“To those who maintain that our Lord predicted the end of the world before the passing away of that generation, the objections of the sceptic present a formidable difficulty –insurmountable, indeed, without resorting to forced and unnatural evasions, or admissions fatal to the authority and inspiration of the evangelical narratives. We, on the contrary, fully recognise the common-sense construction put upon the Language of Jesus, and the no less obvious acceptance of that meaning by the apostles. But we draw a conclusion directly contrary to that of the critic, and appeal to the prophecy on the Mount of Olives as a signal example and demonstration of our Lord’s supernatural foresight.” (The Parousia)
What do YOU think ?
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23 Sep 2003
I do not think that Jesus is God either. He is the son of the living God. The promised Messiah. I find no biblical evidence of a triune god.
28 Sep 2003
I mean what has this planet of unholy if the largest achievment of existing is itself how can you question the interest of the source of it to be that that he is together with it? The what´s divine apart of it as a thorough complete and unique whole one being that perveils and contains what gives it´s space at the same moment it´s substance.I´m back and better save as many as you may,the rest will be in your account.
18 Oct 2003
I think that if you can’t understand something in scripture you best move on until the Lord gives you light on the matter.(jn3:11)their are a lot of things the carnal mind cannot KNOW.(1cor2:15)an example of this is found in (jn6:66)from that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him. When the Lord’s words conflict with their understanding they were out of their as so many are today. Also see (lk24:25)then he said unto them O fools, and slow of heart to believe ALL that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?Because they cannot reconcile the two classes of scriptures they believe the one and reject the other. They could not understand how Jesus could be their messiah and also die,carnal reason in action. Examples of this today are (how can God be one and yet be three? their must be three God’s(they say)another (Jesus died how can God die? he must not be God (they say) another (how can God pray? (they say) and Jesus says (O FOOLS) slow to believe ALL. Jim
02 Dec 2003
I think that I should know myself before knowing if Jesus was God… Trying to understand this mystery in being a slave to my carnal perceptions is vain…The answer is in me!
23 Feb 2004
Somehow the rejoicing for the destruction of humanity for the sake of an “I told you so” sounds wrong somehow. Doesn’t it?
18 Mar 2004
Growing up in church I was always told not to question or have doubts about God, but in the back of my mind there are so many things I am curious about, the trinity being one of them I have had it explained to me in many ways by many people but it just doesn’t make sense the most recent explanation that I got on this subject was that the father son and holy spirit were all on the same level of “greatness” I guess so they are to all be worshipped but this still doesn’t explain why God and Jesus is the same. I do believe that God is a Holy Spirit but I don’t know if I believe that Jesus was God in the form of a living person when he walked the earth I just don’t get it!!
16 Jun 2004
All I can say is that the first literal interpreter of the Bible is Satan. God said to Adam and Eve: of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will not eat, for on the day you will eat of it you will die – Gen 2:17 The devil said to Eve: “you will not die, but God knows that the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Literalists and carnal persons would naturally conclude God is lying and satan is telling the truth, because obviously, Eve did not die (physically) on that day. That’s what these pathetic people have been doing with the Bible. Interpreting it according to their base “wisdom”, forgetting 2 Pet 1:20 and 1 Cor 2:13-14, comparing spiritual things with spiritual truths. If we only let the Bible explain itself and not rely on our own wisdom, then we wouldn’t be making fools of ourselves. The devil said
21 Jun 2004
To believe that christ has returned already leaves us in this time with a dire situation– meaning the end has come and gone the antichrist has come then also and we are left in the cold in this day and time with no hope of salvation or to be with him. Those who believe it has already happened are not leaning on GOD’S understanding but their own carnal understanding. Which only proves that Christ is who he revealed himself to be and that the church generation is still being completed today . simply put it’s not on our timetable but God’s.Even Christ himself said as much.
02 Jul 2004
If Jesus were mistaken as some wish to believe… Why were all the prophecies concerning Him and His first coming fulfilled? Would it not be easy to miss the valley between two hills as the Prophets of the OT did because of the lack of understanding concerning the perfect ways of the LORD? How long did the Jews wait… And they KNEW when He was to come yet STILL did not believe. Mortality cannot put on Immortality, His ways are most definitely not our ways and, this is good because I wouldn’t have saved a one of us in the flood… Then what questions would there be?
16 Dec 2004
Some will not believe. In the last days will come scoffers. Saying where is the promise of His coming. For you see everything is as it was before the fathers fell asleep. Jesus is returning some day. When we cannot know for sure but, we can discern the signs of the times. Europe is ripe for a strong mans picking. America stand ready and almost begging for judgment. He time is at hand, even at the door. JESUS IS COMING AGAIN!!!! Believe it!!! PRAISE HIS NAME!!!!! Dennis Swanner
28 Jan 2005
For christians: I believe that no matter your beliefs are, we should love esch other in Christ, because we are brothers and sisters in spirit. No matter if you’re a preterist or not, you must love your neighbor, if God is in you. Only when we love each other to the point of giving our own lives for Jesus, then we can teach truth about schatoloy. So if you refuse those chiristians who believe different, you should teach nothing at all. We should first love, then teach. write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 05 Apr 2005
How about the fact that Jesus raised the dead and God raised Jesus?
Date: 14 Nov 2005
Christ’s soul has always been here. In different men and times. Adolf Hitler followed Christ’s orders while he was on the cross. Hitler was abraham Lincoln’s soul in another body, Lincoln was George Washinton’s soul in another body. Can I document this. Yes Adolf Hitler commited suicide on the date of George Washinton’s innauguration. I could tell you more if interested you call me and I’ll tell you the truth about Christ on the cross.
I’m dumb and a disgrace to our Lord. I am the King of Scotland where the Stone of Scone is. Any question?
Date: 21 May 2006
I beleive in every word and dot of the Holy Bible. It is the Word of the true and only God.
I pray for all of you lost souls who dare question my God’s Handbook for life. May He have mercy on all Jew and gentile alike who do not believe in Him. You have failed to see the light and you live in complete darkness, the liar of satan, the devil. As it is written in John 5:41 “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me becasue I know you don’t have God’s love within you.”