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I enjoyed your Beliefnet column on apocalyptic literature. Are you saying that parts of Revelation are a blueprint for the End Times and parts are not? Was it because the early Christians were convinced the Parousia was imminent?
This is a long and complicated question. The short answer is that the earliest Christians believed they already lived in the End Times, ever since Jesus had been raised from the dead. The book of Revelation does not skip from their day to the end of time, but sees all future events as part of the End Times, including events in their own day.
I would urge you to read my little book Jesus, Paul, and the End of the World to help you sort this one out. I do not believe that the earliest Christians thought Jesus would definitely return in their lifetimes, as Jesus himself told them no one knows the timing of the second coming, not even Jesus in his own day (Mark 13.32). It’s presumptuous for any of us to think we know better than Jesus did when he said no one knows the time of that event.
Ben Witherington III

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