Luke’s gospel successfully addresses the delay of the Parousia. Discuss (35)

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  • Parousia means the second coming and is used in reference to the Jewish apocalyptic and eschatological expectation about the Kingdom of God at the time of Jesus.
  • It is seemingly evident that the kingdom of god did not arrive and the earth was not transformed however Luke’s gospel addresses this delay in a particular way whether or not it is successful in doing so.
  • There has been a long standing tradition that identifies Luke as a physician. Luke was therefore probably a gentile Christian who sided with the Pauline wing of the church.
  • Scholars have little idea as to where Luke was bases as his geography is imprecise but it is suggested that he was outside of Palestine.
  • Luke is also thought to be dated after 70CE, as the Kingdom of God had not arrived after the destruction of the temple as many expected, a similar date to Matthew being proposed by most.
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  • It seems that Luke is writing an orderly account of Jesus’ life however he does appear to be concerned about the delay of the Parousia.
  • Due to the fact that it had been around forty years since Jesus’ death this began to cause problems in the community. Luke therefore shifts the focus of salvation from the future to the present. This is known as inaugurated eschatology however this could simply be Luke attempting to alleviate the implications of Jesus’ confused message.
  • Hanz Conzelmann believes that Luke has a problem with salvation in that he historicises it making it unavailable for those reading today.
  •  Luke thought that there were three stages in salvation history: the time of Israel, the time of Jesus and the time of the church.
  • It was believed that the church will endure until the Parousia arrives but in the meantime Luke struggled with the function of the church. 
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  • Many disagree with Conzelmann and believe that Luke discerns two periods of history; a time of promise and a time of fulfilment for Jesus and the church.
  • Jesus is thought to be enthroned in heaven and thereby continues to bring salvation but on the other hand Luke’s addressing of the Parousia may simply be to cover up a failed prophet whose kingdom did not come.
  • Luke did, however, see Jesus’ death as necessary to put gods plan into action so suggests he did still expect the Parousia.
  • It can be argued further that the delay of the Parousia is simply because Jesus and the early Christians were mistaken, which could account for Luke’s attempts to resolve this.
  • Scholars such as Kummel however like to extend the intermediate period in that we will have to wait for the Parousia. 
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  • Gerd Theissen believes that Jesus’ views should be treasured as he calls for a recognition of all within the kingdom of god.
  • However Luke is aware of this and addresses it at some point but not to the extent of Conzelmann who believed that Luke replaced beliefs about the Parousia with beliefs about the church.
  • At times Luke does affirm that the end is near but at others he suggests a delay. With this he causes ambiguity to whether he successfully addresses the delay.
  • This appears at the parable of the wedding banquet where an unknown person will arrive at an unknown time. Luke therefore seems to discourage putting a time limit on the Parousia.
  • Luke definitely does not replace this ambiguity with a realised eschatology.
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  • The Holy Spirit plays a large role within Luke therefore it can be argued that possibly Luke is trying to use it as a substitute for the delay of the Parousia.
  • Furthermore Luke gives no indication of when the kingdom of god is coming which could either be seen to link with him not wanted to place a time limit which follows more Kummel type thinking whereas it could also be to suggest that Luke simply doesn’t know and is trying to alleviate the issues facing the community for a while longer.
  • The delay of the Parousia was more a concern for the early church and concerning Luke to a lesser extent so what might appear to be confused teaching in the gospel could be explained as the product of those attempting to impose a time scale on Jesus sayings.
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  • Overall, I feel that Luke addresses the delay of Parousia but by simply stating that is follows a more inaugurated eschatology.
  • Seems to only alleviate the issues surrounding the community for a limited time as Luke doesn’t fully address the delay.
  • However perhaps Luke did not want to impose a time scale as no one truly knew only when it actually happened would it be known.
  • Therefore I would conclude that Luke does not successfully address the delay of the Parousia to a satisfactory level and only seems to be attempting address it for the community at the time.
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