I’ve been reading David Neville’s book A Peaceable Hope: Contesting Violent Eschatology in New Testament Narratives in order to review it for the Evangelical Quarterly. Neville sets out the problem he means to address in the opening paragraph:
There is a discrepancy at the heart of the New Testament. Briefly stated, the discrepancy is this: although the canonical Gospels present a fairly uniform picture of Jesus as an advocate of peace and practitioner of nonretaliation, certain texts within these same Gospels and in other parts of the New Testament apparently anticipate a future arrival, or parousia, of Jesus in the guise of a violent avenger. The same Jesus who blesses peacemakers, teaches non retaliation, and responds nonviolently to violence directed against himself is nevertheless associated with end-time violence. (1)
The book describes how this tension manifests itself in the Gospels and Acts and in Revelation. I don’t recall a reason being given why the epistles are excluded, though Neville notes that in Paul’s view “rectification by grace does not preclude judgment of human works”—in this respect, he says, “Paul and Matthew were of the same mind” (21).