Messianic Expectation

Similar to the expectation modern Christians have of Jesus returning to Earth to fulfill the promises He made, there was a longing of first century Jews for the coming of a savior or “messiah.” This longing or hope was known as messianic expectation. The expectation was that this God-sent person would establish a kingdom or world here on Earth that is similar to the one in heaven.

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When it comes to messianic expectations of the first century, the most popular messianic hope was for the Davidic Messiah (Strauss, 139). It was thought that this savior would come from David’s lineage and that this person would help defeat the enemies Israel was facing which would allow it to once again gain back it’s independence. Numerous references to the Davidic Messiah can be found in various books of the Bible such as Luke and also in some Old Testament books like 2 Samuel and Isaiah.

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Although the thought of the Davidic Messiah was the most common, there were other groups of first century Jews who had differing thoughts about who this coming messiah would be. For example, the Sadducees were perfectly fine with the authority being held by the priests (Strauss, 140). Other groups of Jews at the time expected this savior to come as a person similar to Moses (Samaritans) or they expected two messiahs, one from David’s lineage and one from Aaron’s lineage (Qumran sectarians). Along with these differences, there were also differing thoughts regarding what the messianic figure would be like. Some groups thought that it would be a person a little more powerful than a typical king and others expected this figure to be more like a superhero. All in all, it was evident that there were multiple beliefs and opinions regarding messianic expectation that depended on the certain sect or group of first century Jews being examined.

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Apocalypticism

Definition: Jewish movement beginning in the second century BC which looked to God’s imminent intervention in history to judge the wicked and reward the righteous.

Origin: Greek word for apokalypsis, meaning “revelation”

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The apocalypse or the book of Revelation was written to encourage God’s people to preserve in the face of extreme adversity. In some apocalyptic works God alone appears as the deliver and in others agents of God intervenes (angles or Messiah). Imagery found comes from the Old Testament prophetic eschatology of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah and Daniel. (Strauss, pg.138)

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Apocalypticism contains symbolic, bizarre imagery describing the times and leading up to the end. Olivet Discourse (Mark 13, par.) and the book of Revelation have apocalyptic imagery. Christian apocalypticism is achieved in the past, worked out in the present and completed in the future (different than Jewish apcolypticism). (Strauss, pg.139)