11Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. 12The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let’s rid ourselves of the deeds of darkness …
11And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us …
Many have charged that Paul gradually changed his view on when he thought the Lord would return. Is this the case? Critics use this to demonstrate that Scripture is not divinely inspired, using passages they think supposedly contradict each other. In this sermon on Romans 13:11–14 titled “Christ’s Return,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones guides the listener through this crucial contention, clearly showing that this is a false charge. He begins by demonstrating Jesus’s own view— that a gap of time would exist between His life and His second coming. What about Paul? He in fact warned people not to listen to those who said that the coming of the Lord was right around the corner. Elsewhere, he preaches that there are still things that need to happen before Christ would return. Additionally, he wrote about his own coming death. All of these points taken together demonstrate that Paul saw Christ’s return as something far off. But what is the solution to the problem? As Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains, Paul was writing in a style called “prophetic time,” a mode of writing that takes the future and shortens it down. Ultimately for the Christian, the day of the Lord is right around the corner because everything here is so brief and temporary. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps the reader work through this issue.
- The apostle Paul's teaching in Romans 13:11-14 is the ultimate argument for living the Christian life.
- Christians know certain things that allow them to understand Paul's argument: the time they are living in, the nature of life in this sinful world, the future, and the change that has occurred in themselves.
- Paul tells Christians to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. This only applies to Christians, not the world.
- Before moving on to the practical application, Paul's view of the nearness of Christ's return must be addressed. Some say Paul expected Christ to return imminently early on but changed his view later.
- However, Romans 13 seems to indicate Paul still believed in the imminence of Christ's return, contradicting the view that his opinion changed. This must be reconciled.
- Jesus' parables suggest an extended absence and delay of the master's return. Matthew 24:14 says the gospel will be preached to all nations before the end comes, indicating a delay.
- John 21:20-23 clarifies that Jesus did not say John would live until His return, only that it was possible. This was written late, showing Jesus and the early church did not expect an imminent return.
- 2 Thessalonians 2 directly contradicts the view that Paul expected an imminent return of Christ. Paul says certain events must happen first. He had taught them this from the beginning.
- Romans 11 shows Paul expected a future mass conversion of Jews, contradicting the view he expected an imminent return.
- Paul viewed his own potential death as departure to be with Christ, not anticipating the imminent return of Christ. Peter expresses a similar view of his own death.
- The New Testament calls for constant readiness for Christ's return, though certain events were still to come. The Christian view of time sees all of life as a mere moment compared to eternity.
- Though centuries have passed, Christ's return is still near for Christians with an eternal perspective. There was no change in apostolic teaching on this matter.
- Christians can view affliction as light and momentary by comparing it to the glory to come. This gives an eternal perspective.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.