The Day of the Lord
The Apostolic Expectation
It is obvious from what we just read from Hebrews, the expectation was that the Day of the Lord was near for Judea.
James, chapter 5
James, the (half)brother of our Lord, begins his teaching on the last days, with a warning for the rich.
1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
In his denunciation of the rich, he says they have, "heaped treasure together for the last days," thinking that their heaped treasure will deliver them from the coming judgement. However, that which they are trusting in, has corrupted and turned to rust. These rich men obviously thought that they were going into the last days, else why would they need to stockpile their wealth.
In verses 4-6, James continues his indictments against the rich and powerful. They had refused to pay the laborers who reaped their fields. However, the cries of those who have been defrauded, have come into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth, or the Lord of armies. While they defrauded those who reaped their fields, they pampered themselves in a life of plenty and luxury. They have made themselves fat for the coming slaughter. They were responsible for the death of the just ones of God, who did not resist them. In the destruction of Jerusalem, AD 70, many of the wealthy attempted to hide their wealth, by swallowing their gold and silver coins, or jewels. However, this did them no good. Many of them, if they were able to bribe their way out of the city, wound up with their bellies cut open. For their enemies had become wise to this trick of hiding their wealth.
In verses 7-8, James turns his attention to those who had been the victims of the treacherous rich men. James encourages them,
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
The word that James uses here, translated as coming, is Parousia, in both verses. If you have not read the study here on Parousia, I would encourage you to do so. In essence, this Greek word, means presence, specifically, it points to the Messianic Kingdom presence of Jesus Christ. It points to His presence as it is seen in His Kingly Authority. Here, in verse 8, James tells his brethren, to strengthen your hearts, because the parousia of the Lord is drawing near. He was encouraging his brethren to remain firm in their faith, for the Kingly Presence of Christ was at hand. This Parousia was two-fold; it was deliverence for the saints, and coming judgement for their enemies.
We can see these two concepts folded into one, in Peter's second letter.
2 Peter, chapter 3
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Peter opens with the commonly stated idea, that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. A thief comes in a time of darkness, and when no one is expecting him. He then states that the result of the coming of the day of the Lord, will be the heavens will pass away with a great sound, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. The earth, or the land, and its works shall be burned up. This is a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. We don't have time to flesh this out here, however, in another study we shall address this.
Where Peter says, "Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God." This is our key phrase. The words, "Looking for and hastening," can also be translated as, "expecting and earnestly desiring." Peter exhorts these believers to expect and earnestly desire, the parousia of the day of God. The word here, "coming," is the Greek word, parousia. Peter links the parousia of Christ, with the day of God, or the Lord. With this in mind, this can be understood as the day of Christ, as Paul terms it [2 Cor. 1:14; 1 Thess. 5:2].
Notice also, that Peter states that the heavens and the earth will pass away with fire, while he encourages the believers to expectantly look for and anticipate a new heaven and new earth. In other words, the Old Sinai economy was going to pass away (dissolve and melt) in a ball of fire, while the new heaven and new earth of the New Covenant and the Kingdom of Christ would be established in righteousness.
"Hereafter, you shall see"
It is clear that the Apostles of the Lord, and all New Testament writers, expected the Day of the Lord, spoken of by Jesus, to happen within their lifetime. That this time frame is true, is seen not only because of what Jesus taught them on the Mount of Olives, concerning the coming destruction of the temple, but also because of what He said to the high priest, when they interrogated Him.
On the morning of His crucifixion, the high priest asked Jesus, "Are you the Christ?" Jesus responded, "I am" He then said to the high priest and the members of the council that had gathered together,
"Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God." Matthew's account reads, "From this time," or "From now on."
Jesus informs the Great Council that from the time that He is standing before them, into the near future, they would see Him assuming the Power of the Kingdom of God, and coming in judgement, or the "clouds of heaven." Concerning this, Terry remarks,
We maintain that this language cannot be naturally interpreted as a reference to an event belonging to a far distant period of time. It is something that is to take place from this time onward, and something which the high priests and his associates are to see.
Many mistakenly think Jesus is speaking to them of His Second Coming. However, this cannot be for at least two reasons. The first reason is, He is speaking to them in tones of something that they themselves would live to see. Secondly, it is a grave misunderstanding to think of the Coming of the Son of man, as being equal to the Second Coming. The reasons this cannot be the case, is stated in Coming of the Son of man. This has been the cause of many misunderstandings among both Christian and non-Christian readers alike. By equating the two as the same, we confuse the words of Jesus, making Him out to be a false prophet. A matter His enemies are quick to pickup on. Jesus told His disciples that the coming of the Son of man would be within their lifetimes. This is the point of confusion. Many think Jesus was prophecying that His Second Coming would be within the apostles' lifetime. This is not what He said. The phrase, coming of the Son of man, has a very specific meaning, and is not related to His Second Appearing.
If you are willing to go further in this study, I strongly suggest you read my offering on the Coming of the Son of man.