Sometimes it is said that Jesus predicted the end of the world during the lifetime of His generation and was clearly wrong. Is it so?
In the Gospel of Matthew, there are the words: "For the Son of man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will reward everyone according to his works. Truly I say to you: there are some of those standing here who will not taste death, as they will see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom "(Mt 16: 27,28).
It turns out that they did not come true - all these people died, passed about 2000 years, the second coming was never there?
Here we need to understand the meaning of the expressions "Son of Man" and "Kingdom."
We are used to the fact that "Son of Man" is just another name for Jesus. But for His contemporaries it was not so. "Son of Man" was a mysterious royal figure, which in the prophecy of Daniel says, "And power, glory and a kingdom are given to him, that all nations, tribes and languages serve Him; His dominion is everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed "(Dan 7: 14). Yes, people were waiting for His coming, but for contemporaries it was not obvious that the Son of Man is Jesus. He gradually reveals this truth to them. Even the Apostles needed someone to make sure of it. Therefore, the promise that some will "see the Son of Man" refers not to the end of the world and the last judgment, but to the moment when some of the apostles see and make sure that Jesus is the royal Son of Man.
How this happened is said literally in the following verses, at the beginning of the 17 chapter from Matthew: "After six days, Jesus took Peter, James and John, his brother, and led them to a high mountain alone, and was transfigured before them: and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as the light. And, behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter said to Jesus: Lord! it is good for us to be here; if you wish, we will make here three tabernacles: One for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. When he still spoke, behold, a cloud of light dawned upon them; And behold a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; Listen to it "(Mf 17: 1-5).
"The Kingdom of God" in the Bible has the meaning of "the dominion of God" - this is a reality that has several dimensions. First, the Kingdom is already present reality of the dominion of God for those who believe in Him. For example, the Lord speaks of the Kingdom that was already present in the life of the Old Testament Israel: "Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to the people that bear its fruit" (Mt 21: 43).
This kingdom is invisible to the outside, but is already really present in the world among believers in Jesus: "When asked by the Pharisees, when the Kingdom of God comes, he answered them: The kingdom of God will not come in an observable way, and they will not say: here it is, or: , there. For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you "(Lk 17: 20,21).
The kingdom is gradually ripening in the world, like the leaven (MF 13: 33), harvested in the field (Mf 13: 24), to a tree that grows unnoticeably from the grain (Mt 13: 31). The development of the Kingdom is a long process, during which everyone is able to "doze and fall asleep", see the parable of the foolish virgins (Mt 25: 5).
Thus, the Kingdom of God, already established by Jesus, is present in the world as the Church.
And the process of the final gathering of this Kingdom ends at the end of the story with its sheer triumph, which is often described in the Gospel as a wedding feast (for example, Mt 22: 2).
The last judgment is completed. Those who, during their earthly life, wanted to enter the Kingdom, are permanently settled in it, those who refused - forever remain outside.
Thus, already the generation of the apostles met the Son of Man - that is, Jesus - and joined His Kingdom - that is, the Church.
But in the 13 chapter of the Gospel of Mark - and in parallel places - Jesus predicts the end of the world in the lifetime of the generation of his hearers - "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, as all these things shall be" (Mk. 13: 30). How to understand these words?
These words refer not to the end of the world, but to another event that has already occurred, and it is during the life of the generation of Jesus. Let us return to the context of the Gospel narrative: "And when he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him: Teacher! Look, what stones and what buildings! Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you see these great buildings?" all this will be destroyed, so that there will not remain a stone on the stone. And when He was sitting on the Mount of Olives against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately: tell us when this will be, and what is the sign when all this is to be accomplished? "(Mk 13: 1-4) .
That is, Jesus answers a specific question - when the "magnificent buildings" of Jerusalem will be destroyed. This destruction occurred in 70 AD, when, after the unsuccessful uprising of the Jews against Rome, Jerusalem was besieged and then destroyed. The magnificent temple, in which the sacrifices were performed until the last moment, perished in the fire, and all that remained of it is the famous "weeping wall" in Jerusalem. The Lord uses a bright, imaginative language, characteristic of the Old Testament prophets, to describe the future destruction of the city.
For example, the prophet Isaiah, speaking of the destruction of Babylon, uses similar images: "Behold, the day of the Lord comes fierce, with anger and flaming rage, to make the earth a wilderness and to destroy her from her sinners. The stars of heaven and the stars do not give light from themselves; the sun fades at its rising, and the moon does not shine with its light "(Is 13: 9,10).
That is, it is not about the end of the world, but only about the destruction of Jerusalem?
No, not only - for the language of the Bible is characterized by the use of prototypes, this or that image in Scripture can have more than one meaning. For example, "the morning, the son of the morning" (Is 14: 12) in the literal sense - the king of Babylon. But the image of a haughty pagan tyrant who rebelled against God and is doomed to perish, also denotes the ancestor of pride, the devil. The destruction of Jerusalem - a catastrophe, whose horror we can not now imagine - meant the end of the existence of the old, Old Testament world, and, in this respect, is a prototype of the end of the world as a whole.
What do we know about the time of the end of the world?
In the Gospel of Matthew, we can read the following words of Christ in response to this question:
"No one knows the day and the hour, not the angels of heaven, but only my Father" (Mt 24: 36).