I recently outlined what I see as the apocalyptic Christology of Acts and suggested that most of what is said about the post-Easter Jesus in the New Testament needs to be interpreted within this narrative framework: Jesus was unjustly killed by the rulers of Israel and the Gentiles; he was raised from the dead and given authority to rule as king at the right hand of YHWH; and the historical outworking of this would be judgment first against the Jews, who had rejected the prophets and finally the Son, then judgment against the idolatrous Greek-Roman oikoumenē, the pagan world.
Part of this story is the belief that Jesus is the one “appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (cf. Acts 10:42; 1 Pet. 4:5). We would normally understand this as a reference to a final judgment at the end of the world as we know it, but it seems to me that the language of judgment in the New Testament is too closely tied up with the vindication of the early persecuted churches and the overthrow of Rome for us to think that it can be indefinitely deferred. In the 1 Peter passage he writes that the “end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7). There is a clear and consistent expectation that this day of judgment was coming soon.
Since the idea that Jesus was “destined to judge the living and the dead” is also found in The Epistle of Barnabas, The Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians, and 2 Clement, I thought I’d have a go at reconstructing the apocalyptic Christologies—and the surrounding narrative—of these texts. They probably date from around AD 100-110. They are not the only texts in the Apostolic Fathers that speak of a future judgment, though they may be the most important. If you’re not interested in the details, you can skip to the end for a quick summary.