The widely accepted view that the whole early church believed in an imminent advent of Christ is based on a superficial reading of the evidence. The advent was imminent only in the sense that it might happen at any time, not because it must happen within a given period. The decisive act of God had already happened in the death and resurrection of Christ, and from then on men must live their lives under the shadow of the end. But the end would come when God’s purposes were complete, and this was something only he could decide (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7). Caird, Paul’s Letters from Prison, pg. 107
I find it fascinating that this perspective does not seem to have taken root in scholarship. How often do I read perceptions that still think the early Christians thought the world would end within their life time.