Jesus and the End Time | FAQ (Anticipated Questions)
I. General Questions:
Why should readers take this End Time prophecy website seriously?
One reason readers should take this End Time prophecy website seriously is that the writer is not affiliated with any church or religious institution and, consequently, has no preconceived ideas about what the King James Bible (or KJV Bible) does or should say. The writer is therefore in a doctrinally neutral position from which he can present the actual words of KJV Bible texts that (1) quote or describe End Time teachings of Jesus, (2) point out and discuss other Bible texts that seem to shed light on their possible meanings, and (3) in appropriate cases go on to discuss how these words and meanings may affect the relative merits of different interpretations of those teachings. This, in turn, assures that this website not only treats the words of the Bible as more important than any claims or arguments made by the writer, but also allows readers to use the Bible to verify the correctness of any claims or arguments he does make. This approach also helps the writer realize his ultimate goal of making it easier for readers to understand what the Bible has to say about the End Time teachings of Jesus when it is allowed to speak for itself. Thus, one answer to the question of why readers should take this website seriously is that it takes the words of the Bible seriously.
Another reason that readers should take this End Time prophecy website seriously is that it does not provide any financial incentive for the writer to "spin" his presentation in a way that favors some interpretations of End Time prophecies of Jesus over others. This is because neither this website nor this writer is subsidized or supported in any way by any ministry, denomination or other group that engages in religious or political activities. As a result, the writer is able to explore and discuss End Time prophecies of Jesus which are clearly supported by the words of the KJV Bible, but which established religious or political groups may be motivated to gloss over or interpret away. Thus, another answer to the question of why readers should take this website seriously is that it is not subject to the corrupting influence of money or political advantage.
Why should readers take the writer seriously? Is he a recognized authority on the Bible?
Although the writer is not a formally trained Biblical scholar, he believes that there are good reasons for taking seriously the things he says in this writing. One is that he is a well-educated person who earned degrees in both engineering and law at a large state university, and went on to have a long and successful career as an attorney-at-law and patent attorney. During this career, he gained valuable experience preparing and interpreting complex legal documents, and writing and obtaining patents on inventions of all kinds, many which involved ideas as complex and multi-faceted as those included among the End Time teachings of the Bible. Another is that this career provided him with ample opportunities to develop and sharpen his skills at reading and using words carefully, and at drawing fine distinctions between the things and ideas they describe. Still another is the fact that the writer has a deep and abiding interest in the Bible, an interest he cultivated by spending many hours studying the Bible with the same care he spent studying the cases and controversies on which he worked as an attorney. Thus, one answer to the question of why readers should take the writer seriously is that he has had a long and successful career which demonstrates that he is a well informed and serious person.
While the writer does not claim to be an authority on the Bible in the academic, professional sense of that word, he believes himself to be enough of a serious student of it that he is in a good position to present and explain his findings to other serious Bible students. His reasons for believing this are perhaps best understood by thinking about the reading of this writing as analogous to the taking of a guided tour through the Grand Canyon. This is because the kind of person who is best suited to serve as a tour guide depends on the kind of tour his guests are interested in and the amount of time they have to spend. For a guided tour through a place like the Grand Canyon what is required (other than honesty and general trustworthiness) is not necessarily a person who is a highly educated earth scientist or geologist, but rather a person who has read a lot about it and studied it carefully during countless trips through it, who has a lot of experience describing things, and who wants to help his guests see and understand the things they are most likely to be interested in. In any case, it is the latter kind of guide through the End Time teachings of Jesus that the writer tries to be. Thus, another answer to the question of why readers should take the writer seriously is that he has all the knowledge and experience necessary to perform the task he has set for himself.
What does the writer hope to accomplish by creating this End Time prophecy website?
The writer did not create this End Time prophecy website in order to make money. In fact, he has used only his own time, effort and money to create it and, as anyone who has read it knows, nowhere asks for money. He did, however, create it with the hope that it would expand and develop into an online forum on which all persons with a serious interest in the End Time can present their own ideas about this subject. Until now, this expansion has been limited to the addition of a Facebook page on which readers may comment on images and comments posted by the writer, or add postings of their own. Readers may reach this page by clicking on the Facebook link on the Home page. If the level of reader activity on this Facebook page becomes great enough, the writer will create one or more groups which are dedicated to the discussion of aspects of the End Time which are of special interest to readers. Finally, if he finds that there is sufficient academic and financial support to support this step, the writer will create a second End Time prophecy website that includes live social media feeds, and the video resources necessary to show things like lectures by guest speakers, interviews and live online debates. Readers who are interested in helping with efforts of these kinds are invited to make contact with the writer via the 'Call Us' or 'Email Us' buttons included on the Home page of this website.
Whether or not this website is expanded in any of the above-described ways, the writer hopes that it will serve another important purpose. This is to serve as a Bible study resource that people can use to pose, sharpen and discuss important questions that involve the End Time or things closely associated with it. One example of such a question is if and how some still widely accepted interpretations of Jesus' teachings about hell as a place of everlasting punishment by fire for some of the dead can be reconciled with Old Testament's teachings about hell (Sheol in the NRSV Old Testament) as a place where all of the dead continue to exist as rephaim (or shades). This question is important because, if these teachings cannot be reconciled, it is reasonable to think that one or both of them ought to be modified or reinterpreted. While discussions of these possibilities are neither easy nor simple, they could hardly be more consequential. This is because the idea of a place of afterlife punishment by fire that continues without end for all eternity is so terrifying that any groups or individuals who are able to persuade people that there actually is a place of this kind, and that they know how to keep people from going there, have in their hands a power they can use to frighten people into supporting social and political causes they otherwise wouldn't. This, together with the fact that the First Amendment places few limits on the exercise of this power, make it imperative that questions of these kinds be discussed with a care and seriousness that reflects their potential long term impact on the future history of the United States.
If I have the time to read only a few pages of this website carefully, which pages should they be?
If a reader does not have the time to read all of the pages of this website, the writer recommends that he read at least the webpage or Adobe PDF version of the page titled 'Introduction', and the page titled 'Issues'. He recommends that readers start with the Introduction page because this page includes definitions of the key terms that are used throughout this website, and gives examples of the kinds of Biblical words, phrases, and concepts that do and do not fall within these definitions. This page then goes on to describe the scope of this website by discussing which subjects are covered, and which are not, and why. The Introduction page also includes a description of how the documents that make up this website are divided into Main and Auxiliary End Time Files, and how readers may take advantage of this division to quickly find the documents or parts of documents where the End Time teachings of Jesus that they are most interested in may be found. Once these documents or parts of documents have been found, readers can then use the search capabilities and Special Display Features described later on this page to find groups of Bible texts that relate to the same subject, and show them adjacent to one another in ways that make them easier to compare on a line-by-line or word-by-word basis. This ability to show and compare Bible texts in this way is important because it can help a reader more easily and quickly determine how these texts are related, and if and how they may affect each other's meanings.
If a reader is already generally familiar with the End Time and ideas closely associated with it, he may want to only briefly peruse or even skip over the Introduction page and go directly to the Issues page of this website. This is because the Issues page gathers together, in one document, at least the most important ones of the questions raised by the KJV Bible texts that are shown and discussed in all other parts of this website, and discusses them in an order that makes them easier to understand as related parts of a single coherent whole. To this end the writer devotes issues 1 through 6 of the Issues page to a well-documented, step-by-step discussion of the way that the Bible describes the prophecies and other teachings of Jesus about the End Time. He then devotes issues 7 and 8 of the Issues page to a careful discussion of how later historical developments seem to have affected the continued viability of these prophecies and teachings. Finally, in the last issue of the Issues page, issue 9, the writer discusses the conclusions he thinks it is reasonable for people alive today to draw about at least the most important events that are traditionally associated with the End Time, and the things that it may hold in store for them personally. Whether readers agree with all of these conclusions or not, the writer hopes that the issues he raises and discusses will help them deal more reasonably with the hopes and fears that Christian leaders have cultivated about the End Time from the time of Jesus down to the present day.
What does the writer mean when he uses the word "text"?
The word "text" can be used to mean a number of different things. It can, for example, be used to mean a complete book, the words that appear on a printed page that includes both words and pictures, or all or any part any of the Bible. In this writing the writer will use the words "text" and "texts" to mean sets of one or more Biblical passages or verses that this writing quotes in full as topics for discussion. In most cases these texts are made up of one or more complete verses that appear adjacent to one another in the KJV Bible. In those cases in which verses of interest are separated by long sets of intervening verses that are not of interest, however, the writer may omit the intervening verses to save space and make the text easier to understand. In such cases, the writer will mark the omission by showing three asterisks (*) in their place.
Many other English translations of the Bible have been published since the King James Version first appeared. Why does the writer limit himself to showing and discussing texts that appear in that Version?
It is true that the King James Version of the Bible has a number of shortcomings. Since it was first published in 1611, for example, scholars have discovered that its translators did not use what scholars now regard as the best manuscripts or readings of the documents from which they translated it. It also contains words or passages the meanings of which did not become clear until after the discovery of better manuscripts or translations of its books, or of older versions of these books found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In spite of these shortcomings, the King James Version has advantages that justify its continued use. One of these is that it has been around for so long and been so widely distributed that it is readily available to almost everyone in the English speaking world. Another is that King James Version was translated and published at about the same time that William Shakespeare wrote his works, a fact that endows its words with a Shakespearean quality and patina of antiquity that has caused many people to become quite attached to it, the writer among them.
The King James Version of the Bible also has a number of practical advantages. One is that it is foundational in the sense that many later translations of the Bible can reasonably be thought of as improvements to or corrections of it. This, in turn, allows readers of writings like this one to use it to introduce themselves to and orient themselves within those later translations. Another is that readers can use its texts as a text finding tool that helps them find the most nearly similar texts in other translations, in spite of differences in the words used in those translations. Arguably the most important of its advantages, however, is that the words of the KJV Bible are in the public domain and, consequently, can be copied and discussed freely, without violating the legal rights of the owners of the copyrights on more recent translations. This is important because it means that the owners of those copyrights cannot use them to prevent or punish the publication of works that express points of view they do not agree with.
The writer discusses a great many Old Testament texts that he thinks shed light on the End Times teachings of Jesus. Aren't the things that the New Testament says about these teachings enough?
While the things Jesus said about the End Times are of great importance, they are not things he said in a vacuum. On the contrary, he said these things not only in a particular place and time, but also to a people whose religious world view was shaped by the Holy Scriptures as they existed in that place and time. As a result, it would not be reasonable to simply read into things Jesus is described as saying in books of the Bible things that were not written until many decades after his death. A more reasonable approach is to consider the things Jesus said in view of the Scriptural background against which he said them. Since, with the exception of certain second-temple writings which did not make it into the canon of the KJV Bible (the apocrypha), the Scriptural background that existed when Jesus lived consisted of books Christians now call the Old Testament, it makes sense to use those books whenever possible to shed light on the true meanings of Jesus' teachings about the End Time in general and about hell and everlasting punishment in particular.
Based on his own experience, the writer believes that the better a person knows the Old Testament the more he is struck by how often the things Jesus said are taken from or patterned after things said in the Old Testament. Importantly, these things include not only statements that he quotes from a named prophet, but also words that he uses to paraphrase or allude to the words of an unnamed prophet, or of a Psalm or of one of the Books of Moses. These things also include terms like the kingdom of God, the elect, the children of God, and the Judgment which he does not define or explain, apparently because he expected his listeners to understand what he meant by them from their study of Scripture. By citing a large number of texts that identify the parts of the Old Testament that Jesus quotes from, or that he seems to paraphrase or allude to, the writer hopes to enable readers to understand these terms in something like the same way as the people who heard them from the mouth of Jesus himself.
Why does this writing devote so much space to the Biblical context of the texts it discusses?
The context in which a person's words appear is important because it is the thing which prevents his words from being misunderstood or misrepresented. Repeating a person's words without conveying an accurate idea of its context may even be used to make a person seem to have said exactly the opposite of what he actually said. Because this principle is so widely accepted, persons who do this are rightly regarded as guilty of misconduct. In order to avoid even the appearance of such misconduct, the writer has resolved doubts about whether or not to include things as context in favor of including them as context. This is because the writer would much rather be rightly accused of being wordy than be wrongly accused of misrepresenting facts.
Although a distinction can be drawn between the context of a person's words and the physical setting (the time and place) in which he spoke them, the writer will usually treat both as parts of the context of those words. This is because doing this makes it easier to decide which accounts of things Jesus said in different Gospels are accounts of the same event and which are not. This decision may, in turn, be important because it can help a careful reader decide whether he should try to reconcile the two accounts, or whether he should simply regard them as different formulations of a teaching that happens to use the same or similar characters or the same or similar themes. Including verses that describe the time and place at which Jesus said things can also make it easier for a reader to understand how they may affect the overall thrust or interpretation of the passages in which he said them.
End of Part 1
In order to limit the size of the web version of this document the writer ends the web version here, with the end of the first or "General Questions" section thereof. In the full-length version of this document that appears on the Table of Contents page, the latter section is followed by a second section titled "Questions About the Form and Punctuation of Documents Included in This Writing" which explains why the writer structures and punctuates the documents included on this website the way he has. The full-length version of this document then concludes with a third section titled "Questions About the Use of Special Display Features Like Horizontal Tiling" which describes how users may take advantage of the special display features of Adobe PDF readers to show any two or more KJV Bible texts included in this writing in a horizontally tiled relationship that makes them easy to compare on a line-by-line or page-by-page basis. Readers who are interested in reading the full-length version of this document can read or download that version from the Table of Contents page of this website. Clicking on the link shown below will take readers to the Table of Contents page. Once there, they can open this document by clicking on the link titled "Anticipated Questions" that is located at the bottom of left column of that page.
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