1

For just a little longer and he who is coming will arrive and not delay. (‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10‬:‭37‬ ‭NET‬‬)

Does this passage suggest that the author of Hebrews saw Christ as coming soon? Given that Jesus in his Olivet Discourse says

When the bridegroom was delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭5‬ ‭NET‬‬)

Should the Parouisa be interpreted in a way that suggests an imminent coming as in the time of the apostles or delayed as in the future?

1

3 Answers 3

3

First, the author of Hebrews, was not the only NT author to believe that Jesus return was "soon" - we observe the following:

  • 1 Peter 4:7 – the end of all things is near
  • James 5:8 – the Lord’s coming is near
  • Heb 10:37 – He who is coming will come and not delay
  • 1 Thess 4:15 – Paul talks about the second coming and “we who are still alive”; thus he believed he would live to see the Lord return
  • 1 Cor 7:29 – time is short
  • Rom 13:11, 12 – salvation is nearer than when we believed.

Further, NT writers believed the time in which they lived were the "last days", or the "final hour". See appendix below. (See also Matt 23:36, 24:24, Mark 13:20, Luke 21:32.)

Yet further, we note several times, the NT writers expected a delay of some kind:

  • Matt 25:5 - When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
  • Luke 12:45 - But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, (see also Matt 24:48)
  • Rev 10:6 - And he swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and everything in it, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it: “There will be no more delay!

BUT - we note other references that say there is no delay:

  • Luke 18:7, 8 - Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He continue to delay their help? I tell you, He will promptly carry out justice on their behalf.
  • Rom 9:28 - for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.”
  • Heb 10:37 - For, “In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.
  • 2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord does not delay the promise, as some esteem slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

So how do we understand the NT writer's mind-set? Let me suggest two ways to understand this summarized in several points:

  • God has a set timetable and that does not change, Mark 13:33, Rom 9:9, 1 Cor 4:5, Matt 8:29 (see also Acts 17:26.)
  • The "delay" is more apparent than real from a human perspective as accurately observed by Peter in 2 Peter 3:9. People enduring difficulties always feel that time is stretched during the difficulties (of a sinful world in this case)
  • God's timetable appears long to us who only live the length of a human life but eternity is long compared to our "threescore and ten years". See Ps 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8.
  • any of us are only one missed heartbeat away from death and meeting our maker.

Thus, God's purposes are sure. Recall that Christ's first coming appeared delayed, but Messiah arrived exactly at "the appointed time" (Rom 5:6, 1 Tim 2:6.) the same is true of Jesus' second coming - it will occur at the "appointed time", 1 Tim 6:15.

APPENDIX - "Last days"

  • Acts 2:17 – Peter calls the day of Pentecost the “last day” in fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel. Compare v29-32.
  • 2 Tim 3:1 – perilous times in the “last day” which Paul discusses as already at his time.
  • Heb 1:2 – “These last days” God is revealed in Jesus.
  • James 5:3 – warning against rampant materialism and worship of money in the “last day”, that is, the time of James himself.
  • 1 Peter 1:5 – Christians reveal God and are miraculously preserved in the “last time”.
  • 1 Peter 1:20 – Jesus revealed in these “last times”.
  • 2 Peter 3:3 – Peter writes about his time as the fulfilment of that spoken by the ancient prophets about the “last days”.
  • 1 John 2:18 – Twice, John calls his time the “last hour”.
  • Jude 18 – Jude describes his time as the fulfilment of ancient prophecies about the “last time”.
  • Rev 2:16, 3:11, 22:7, 12, 20 – Jesus says, “I am coming soon/quickly”.
  • Even in a passage like John 6:39, 40, 54 where Jesus refers to the resurrection at the “last day” (see below) that time began with His death, Matt 27:50-53.
1

Jesus told his disciples why He used parable

13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. (Matthew 13:13 NIV)

Therefore the words being used in a parable do not mean as it appeared. They are used to hide a message that only true Jesus believers will understand. Matthew 25:5 is a single sentence within a parable, and as afore said, words used in a parable should not be used to testify other script.

In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew chapter 24-25), Matthew put three parables of Jesus in consecutive, that emphasized 'Watchfulness'. All three parables describe the main character (represent the Lord) is away and no one knows when he will be back. The setting creates two anticipations; the clever one will always prepare for his coming and the fool did not. Therefore, the delay described in Matthew 25:5 was just a setting of the parable, not a real situation.

Hebrew 10:37 quoted Isaiah 26:20 and Habakkuk 2:3 with slight modification. As no one knows when the Lord will return, the clever one will always prepare as if the Lord will return the next moment, though not this moment. This is its meaning only understandable by the clever;

“In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”

0

There is no contradiction. The answer lies in when the two books were written. The book of Hebrews was written approx. AD 65-66, while Matthew was written approx late 50's to early 60's AD, and recorded what Jesus had told His disciples before His crucifixion about 30 years earlier around 30-31 AD. (1)

The author of Hebrews was speaking directly to his audience in the then current time frame of AD 65-66, and so indicated that the time of Jesus' return was soon, and that Christ would not tarry.

"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Heb. 10:37, KJV)

Christ's statement to His disciples of His return in glory and judgment in Matt. 25 was tied to and still part of the Olivet Discourse for the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. 24). The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was yet some 40 more years from His crucifixion. That was still many years away from the time Christ spoke this prophesy, so it was going to be a long time in man's expectations to wait.

While the book of Hebrews places that "little while" about 4-5 years before the destruction of Jerusalem. The author of the book of Hebrews was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and would only speak the truth. To say otherwise is to call the Holy Spirit a liar or deceiver, and that is blasphemy.

There is no discrepancy between these verses when we put the time the authors spoke into context of those events in the 1st century AD. Christ's second appearance in that generation was His judgment / coming against those wicked, rebellious people in Jerusalem in AD 70.

"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb. 9:28, KJV)

"so also the Christ, once having been offered to bear the sins of many, a second time, apart from a sin-offering, shall appear, to those waiting for him -- to salvation!" (Heb. 9:28, YLT)

His second appearance was to be "apart from sin", or not for the purpose of salvation from sin, but for a different salvation; that is the deliverance from their tribulation under the persecution of the Sanhedrin and from Rome.

The word translated as "salvation" in Heb. 9:28 is Strong's Gr. 4991, soterian. (2) The first definition is deliverance. Christ's death on the cross provided the method for our salvation from sin if we will answer His call to be immersed into His sacrifice. But, His second appearance was for judgment, and to deliver His people from the persecutions of their enemies. And, that deliverance came with the destruction of those tyrants whose power was shattered when that temple in Jerusalem fell.

"6 and he saith to the one clothed in linen, who [is] upon the waters of the flood, `Till when [is] the end of these wonders?'

7 And I hear the one clothed in linen, who [is] upon the waters of the flood, and he doth lift up his right hand and his left unto the heavens, and sweareth by Him who is living to the age, that, `After a time, times, and a half, and at the completion of the scattering of the power of the holy people, finished are all these.'" (Dan. 12:6-7, YLT)

Christ's second appearance / coming was at hand, and imminent when Hebrews and the book of Revelation was written. We are not waiting for Him to destroy that temple any longer. We live now under His everlasting kingdom, in the final Feast of Tabernacles, tabernacling with Him (Rev. 21:3). He reigns now at the right hand of the Father, and has ever since His ascension (Acts. 1:9).

Notes:

  1. Date of Hebrews - DatingTheNewTestament

  2. Date of Matthew - DatingTheNewTestament

  3. Strong's Gr. 4991, soterian - Biblehub

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.