What was John saying to the early Church concerning the future, and was he speaking only to the Church in his day? I ask this question because it was once believed John was speaking concerning the return of Christ in his generation and that the people of his generation were sure in their hearts Jesus would return in their lifetime.
However, A closer look will reveal, John was not only speaking with the early Church, and the people of his generation were not expecting Jesus to return in their generation. And as a matter of fact, they understood more than we thought because they for one had met Jesus more than thirty times after his resurrection.
Paul wrote to Theophilus a governor over the people, Acts 1:1-3, “The former discourse have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Therefore, having that close of a relationship with Jesus, so that they saw him some forty times after his resurrection, we are then sure, John was not only speaking to his generation concerning the establishment of God’s coming kingdom, he was also speaking with the generations to come concerning the day of the Lord.
But how do we know that, and why was he speaking to us concerning the day of the Lord? As far as we know, the Church will be raptured out of the earth before the tribulation begins. Well, that is what we were told until we understand why John not only wrote to the early Church but also to the generations that will follow leading up to the return or establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote that Jesus was seen by his disciples some forty times after his resurrection and had spoken to them concerning the kingdom of God, and if he had indeed spoken to his disciples concerning the kingdom, why did he not at that moment explain the day of his coming? But instead of speaking of his return in their generation, Jesus sent his disciples out on a mission to build up the kingdom, and when he was asked by his disciples if he will at that moment, now that he has been raised up from the dead established the kingdom back into the hands of Israel, Jesus in response to their question replied:
Acts 1:7 “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.” In other words, Jesus told his disciples to go their way and complete the mission to which he had appointed them and to leave the decision up to God to chose when the time of the end will be and the reestablishment of the kingdom of David and his Christ. And it was when the Holy Spirit was received by the disciples of Jesus Christ did, they truly understand the mission and purpose of their calling.
But instead of understanding our mission and the words of the apostles, we look at these things spoken by Jesus to say we will not know the day, nor the hour of Christ’s return without understanding Jesus by saying “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” was in no denying his disciples the opportunity to know the day and hour of his return.
Jesus knew at that moment, his disciples did not understand their role and the mission on which they were sent, the disciples had forgotten the words of Jesus Christ who had told them beforehand that he would reveal the secret of his father to his people because they are his friends and because they believed and will follow him even in death.
Therefore, in writing to the early Church, John was not writing to reveal who Jesus was, nor did the early Church believed Christ would have returned in their generation because Jesus had spoken to them about the kingdom after his resurrection and could at that time establish his kingdom on earth.
But because he had not told them he was now about to establish the kingdom on earth, they were looking forward to his return and the resurrection when God will have completed his mission in the future of their children and the latter generations to come.
Psalms 145:3-4 “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another and shall declare thy mighty acts.”