Most recognize that many Bible commandments, warnings, and predictions are not directed to us today. Instead, these writings were addressed to a limited audience in a very specific historical setting. Given these facts, one might ask why instructions, warnings, and admonitions written by the apostles to churches in the 1st century are generally interpreted as applicable and binding for 21st century Christians.
A careful reading of the New Testament will demonstrate that the early believers, to whom most of the New Testament books were directly addressed, experienced a very unique situation. They were the vanguard in the culmination of all God’s redemptive plan and working. They eagerly, expectantly awaited the final prophetic fulfillment in God’s redemptive process. Their expectations were justified by the teachings of both Christ and all the New Testament writers, who prophesied of an imminent end or completion of all things (Luke 21, I Peter 4 for example).
Much of the N.T. warnings, promises, and predictions related to this imminent coming event which would mark God’s final redemptive act. Consequently, these writings are not relevant as guidance today because that event is in our past, not our future. It was in the future then but in the past now.
Clearly, the fact that the New Testament scriptures says something does not mean those same words are for you and me today. The wholesale projection of the warnings and admonitions of the gospels and epistles into the 21st century erroneously perpetuates a legalism and alarmism that was never intended.
A “Thus saith the Lord” may exist but the relevant question remains: Is He talking to me?