Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Forum on Matthew 24 — not such a big deal after all?

A friendly tussle broke out on yesterday's four-word post. The discussion was about Matthew 24, whether or not Jesus was just making a big deal out of nothing.

Of course, that isn't how it's phrased. The "preterist" position thinks itself very sophisticated and nuanced, as a rule. Its starting-point is the same one Albert Schweizer and scores of others have used to say that Jesus was a false prophet, namely Matthew 24:34 — "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." In fact, my father alluded to that as a reason not to believe the Bible.

Preterists (like Schweizer) insist that there is only one possible narrow interpretation of that verse. Jesus had to be saying that everything He foretold would happen within his hearers' lifetime. However, the way preterists (unlike Schweizer) continue to say Jesus is credible is by saying that nothing He said meant what it seemed to mean.

It wasn't going to be that big a deal.

Really, that's their position. Well, they labor hard to redefine everything. The bottom line was that nothing like what Jesus said was going to happen was really going to happen, but that's okay, He didn't really mean that all that would happen, and besides, it really did happen, but it just wasn't anything like what He said would happen. So it's really all okay.

Got it?

Of course, that has a withering effect on trying to take much of the rest of prophecy with any seriousness. That huge yacht you were told would come to pick you up? It isn't really a yacht, it isn't really coming, and it wasn't for you. But hey! Here's a picture of an island! Happy?

Here's why I'm in no way sanguine about this view.

Was a time in my life when I and all my fellows regularly said, about every Bible verse that was uncongenial to us, "Oh, it doesn't mean that. You're taking it too literally. There's a deeper meaning. Besides, look at this and this."

That was before I was a Christian. I was in a cult. I tell the story of my conversion from that to Christ at some length, starting here.

But in those days:
  1. Hell? Oh, come on; surely not literal flames and the absence of God. How can God be absent? He's everywhere! You have to understand: it's a metaphor, a figure of speech. What it really means is the illusion of feeling separated from God. It's entirely in this life. You just have to affirm that you can never be separated from God, and your Hell ends.
  2. Jesus the unique son of God? Oh come on. Didn't Jesus say, "Our Father, who art in heaven"? That means everybody is a son of God, just like Jesus. You're just not putting Scriptures together right.
  3. "I am the way and the truth and the life"? Oh, come on. How can one man be the only way? Isn't God everywhere? Isn't He in all of us? What it really means is that the I AM within each of us is our own way to God.
And so on.

But God saved me from that, as I detail in the other post. As I explain there, what the Lord used in part to save me was grammatico-historical exegesis. It was dealing with the plain sense of the words of Scripture.

I explain and example that more fully in this article. Therein, I offer a brief, "golden rule" for interpretation:
When the plain sense of Scripture makes good sense, seek no other sense. Therefore, take every word in its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and fundamental and axiomatic truths, clearly indicate otherwise.

Fast-forward. Imagine my dismay and my chagrin when I found that there were otherwise soundly orthodox Christians who were doing exactly what the folks in my cult did. They would find a verse that didn't fit their system and insist the words could not mean what they said. It wasn't that "related passages and fundamental and axiomatic truths clearly indicate otherwise." It was that their system demanded that it be otherwise.

So, Israel? Not Israel. Signs in the heavens? Not signs in the heavens. Global tribulation unrivaled in all history? Not so much. Jesus coming and establishing His kingdom on earth? Not exactly. God comes off as less of a great communicator, more like someone running a big shell game.

And on and on. It was (and remains) a sickening feeling of deja vu. I have both been there, and done that, and have no desire to go back.

Grace keeps these brothers — who (I mean with absolute sincerity) are my instructors and models in countless other areas — from "comparing Scripture to Scripture" as my cult did. When it comes to Romans 3-5, they're the very dictionary-definition of "solid." But prophecy? Bizarro-world. Not quite reformed; still one foot in Rome.

That's what this is about.

There, then, is my opening blast.

Something came up about Matthew 24. Al wanted to pursue Fred on it. Fred promised to see it through to the duration. Here's their meta, with me as the genial host.

68 comments:

Fred Butler said...

To begin,
I just want to say how honored I am to have my name mentioned in the body of a post.

I have to step back a moment and take a deep breath.

I'll be back around here in just a bit.
Fred

Barbara said...

I don't get what's so hard to get about the whole now/not-yet thing. The temple had to fall in order to put an end to the sacrifices that Christ fulfilled, right? And even the judgment inherent in that fall is a foreshadowing of the judgment that is to come. We must work while it is still day, for night is coming, when no one can work, and all the shadows will pass away for the Light has come.

Just as Jesus came to the synagogue and read Isaiah 61 through "...to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" and then sat down, not finishing out the rest of the passage because the rest of the passage is not fulfilled in His first coming, but will be in His second. Right? This is one of the most beautiful things I've had the privilege to learn about my Lord, this who He came to earth as, and who He will return as, and how all that rolls up into who our Lord is - the Lion who appears on the throne as a slain lamb. Amazing stuff, awesome God.

Okay, not my meta nor argument, I'm bowing out here, but just wanted to throw that in to say that it seems that people get so hung up in various tree branches that they forget that there's an absolutely gorgeous forest all around them, and in this case, it's filled with a feast from heaven.

DJP said...

Yeah, let me clarify:

Others can comment too.

It's just that Al and Fred will.

(BTW, there's a analogy there for OT prophecies about Israel, and how the Gentiles get in, if you look for it.)

Barbara said...

Grafted in, no?

Al said...

I have started this about five times now and hit the backspace each time. My goodness if we look at cults and their misuse of Scripture/isolated interpretation/faulty exegesis and use that as a starting point on why we might reject an understanding of Scripture posited by “otherwise orthodox” brothers, where will it all end? (Somewhere in Waco, Texas I imagine)

Fred, just to let you know, if you use Albert Schweitzer as a foil in this discussion I reserve the right to bring up the any of the following: William Miller, John Hagee, or C. I. Schofield. :-)

May I refer you to my last comment on the previous thread? In it I really would like to know how you view "this generation" of Matthew 23 and if you consider that exchange with the Pharisees as "setting the table" for Jesus' call for all of Jerusalem to repent, the pronouncement that the Temple would be destroyed and the subsequent answer to the Disciples’ question of timing.

Thanks for taking the time Fred and thank you Dan for the digital space. I should get my own blog...

al sends

Joey Phillips said...

Ha! I like the analogy. Dan said there would be a meta for Al and Fred. Then "Surprise!" he announces that others can join in.

Fred should argue that the meta is no longer for him and Al, but for the others, who have replaced them, and him and Al may or may not join in. Because Dan didn't really mean the meta was for Fred and Al.

DJP said...

No, Al should argue that it isn't for him and Fred, because I've opened it up to others.

(c;

Al said...

Well, it appears that since Fred posted first in the last meta and I was drawn (in the John 6 sense) into this discussion later that he is Israel and I am the Church. Only one of us will be left in the end.

For those who join now, "there is neither Jew, nor Greek, Slave nor Free..."

Of course I see deeper meaning in most analogies than most do.

al sends

DJP said...

Or male or female.

Brad Williams said...

So, Israel? Not Israel.

Dan,

What are you talking about here? I don't want to mess up Al and Fred's time in the theological cage match, but this is where I get that eyes glazed over look. So, if you want I can email discuss it.

It seems that you believe that physical descendants of Israel are Israel in the saving sense. Or at least, that they still have some sort of "leg-up" on the Gentiles with God. (Again, please read that devoid of sarcasm and in the spirit of me trying to get what you are saying.)

Maybe I should ask what it is you think the difference is between a believing Jew and Gentile as far as the promises of God are concerned?

And again, if this is not something you want to get into in this meta, I'm am perfectly good with that.

Stefan said...

I just wanted to reply to Rachael from yesterday's thread:

"Brad, I'd never even heard of that chili-whatsis term before today. I'm with you brother. Sounds like nothing I'd like, especially this time of year."

Just for the sake of a little bit of church history, "chiliasm" was the predominant eschatology in the early church—it was premillennial (expecting a literal future millennial Kingdom) and posttribulational (the Church would go through the great tribulation). It derives from the Greek word "chiliasmos," meaning a thousand years (or in Revelation 20:2, "chilia ete," "thousand years").

It fell out of fashion around the time that Christianity became the state religion in Rome. Some of the radical Anabaptists revived a millennial view and took it to an extreme (the Muenster uprising), which provoked an anti-millennial reaction among the magisterial Reformers...and premillennialism remained outside the pale for several centuries longer—as indeed, any form of premillennialism is still considered not even to be taken seriously in some quarters today.

Premillennialism of any kind (pretrib, midtrib, posttrib, or otherwise) did not really gain any kind of widespread adherence again until in the mid to late 19th century, after the Evangelical revival, when the posttribulational kind went through a brief resurgence, and then Dispensationalism went on to become one of the main eschatologies of the 20th century.

Al said...

male or female

I am also a recovering patriarchy movement guy...

al sends

(word verification: taxes)

James Kime said...

Brad, you are closer to posttrib/premill than historic premill.

For those who think Chiliast is a bad word maybe, it just means you believe in a literal 1000 year reign.

Al, you cannot look at your bible and see that in Chapter 23 of Matthew Jesus says one thing and then uses the same phrase in Chapter 24 and say that they must mean the same thing.

For the Olivet Discourse, Jesus changes location, audience, and topic of discussion.

The book of Revelation was not describing the destruction of the Old Covenant. In the OT, God never promised the cataclysmic events as judgment on the OC, but on the world. Besides, the end of the OC would bring in the beginning of the New Covenant. This is the best thing that could have possibly happened to the Jews. So when Jesus says that it would be the worst time in human history, that fails to see that the introduction of the NC was the best thing in human history.

Brad Williams said...

James,

Brad, you are closer to posttrib/premill than historic premill.

What makes you say that? You may be right. But I'm curious as to why you would say that.

Al said...

James: Al, you cannot look at your bible and see that in Chapter 23 of Matthew Jesus says one thing and then uses the same phrase in Chapter 24 and say that they must mean the same thing.

For the Olivet Discourse, Jesus changes location, audience, and topic of discussion.


Me: James, there is a connection of thought from one verse to another. Chapter 23 ends with Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem, call her house desolate while standing in the temple; Jesus “left the temple” and the disciples point out the greatness of the temple (24:1); Jesus says that not one stone will be left on top of another; they then come to him on the Mount of Olives to ask him about “these things.”

This would be a problem rampant in some circles… the proclivity to strip away context when it does not meet a systematic smell test. Chapter breaks are not inspired.

al sends

witness said...

Brad, just so you don't think you are alone, I believe the same thing you do.

I see it clearly in Scripture and wonder why others tend to add to, or take away from what is clearly and plainly there.

Joey Phillips said...

Got Al and Fred backwards apparently. Oops.

I am very interested in this meta. There is a meeting at my church coming up where postmil, amil, and premil are going to be debated by three guys...should be pretty fun. I am going to use this meta to arm myself with vast knowledge heading into that meeting.

Stefan said...

James, Brad:

There may be a mix-up of terms here. Like James, I also understood Brad to be describing an eschatology that sounds like posttribulationalism.

But "historic premillennialism" (as is "chiliasm") is another name for the same thing. (And I take it there is also a "posttribulational dispensationalism," at which point I confess that I have honestly no idea what the difference is between that and "posttribulational premillennialism").

James, perhaps you're referring to "historicism," a form of amillennialism in which the events of Revelation are interpreted in terms of the last 2000 years of Church history?

Fred Butler said...

I hope this little exchange is encouraging to others. I did a bit of reading yesterday evening after the kids were in bed, and I brought some of my material to work in case I need to use the nuclear option with Al. But laying all of that aside, maybe it is better to just begin by responding a bit to his comment from the previous post yesterday:

Al writes,
I really don’t get Don Greens “real” exegesis of this particular passage in Matthew 23. Here is what he said, “The individuals addressed by “this generation” in Matthew 23:34-36 did not kill Abel nor Zechariah, yet Jesus attributes the murder to them. Nelson writes: “The contemporaries of Christ did not murder Zechariah son of Berechiah (23:35-36), and thus “this generation” in 23:36 extends beyond Jesus’ contemporaries to include murderers back to the time of Abel and forward to those who would kill and crucify and persecute disciples until Jesus returns.” Do you agree with Green and Nelson here? That “this generation… extends beyond Jesus contemporaries?”(page 30)

(Fred) You will note that on pg. 27 of Don's article, he mentions that there have been historically at least 8 major views offered throughout the course of Church history attempting to explain the identification of "this generation." Don cites Nelson's article, which is regrettably unavailable on the web, but is located in a JETS issue I had Don copy for me from his collection of research. What Nelson is arguing, and what Don is agreeing with is that "this generation" can be understood as a "kind of generation." Meaning, a wicked or evil generation. It would extend beyond Jesus's contemporaries, because there will always be "generations" of individuals opposed to Christ and His people, most specifically those opposed to God's people before the coming of the son of man.

Now, I linked to Horner's article, because he has an important discussion on other grammatical issues within 24:34 on the phrase translated in the NKJV as "till these things take place." His conviction, and he has a good exegetical study on the phrase, genetai that is translated as "take place" in the NKJV. Horner's research suggests this word as an aorist subjunctive is to be understood as "when these things begin" or "begin to take place" or "take their beginning." The idea being that the generation Christ is talking to will begin to see something take place that will commence in the destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of the land.

Continued below

Stefan said...

Okay, I can speculate uninformedly as to one difference between posttrib (non-disp) premill and posttrib dispensationalism: whether or not Temple sacrifices are restored in the future.

I do have faith in a literal fulfilment of as-yet-unfulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament, but the restoration of the Mosaic sacrificial system is something I have theological difficulty with, because of:

* The finality of the tearing of the veil in the Temple on the day of Christ's crucifixion (see Hebrews 10:19-22);

* The fact that God in His sovereignty has orchestrated historical circumstances such that it has not been possible to rebuild the Temple in the last 2000 years (but who knows, this could be an event yet to come at the establishment of the millennial Kingdom); and

* A story found in the Talmud, which claims that for the last 40 years until the Temple's destruction, the Day of Atonement sacrifices were no longer accepted by God, and that events happened every night to suggest that His Glory had left the Temple (source here). Since the Temple was destroyed in AD 70, this implies that something changed around AD 30—and the story is presented un-self-consciously, without any attempt to draw any theological implications from it, suggesting that it was not some kind of Christian interpolotion (unlike disputed passages in Josephus referring to Jesus Christ).

* And while Paul writes about a future revival in Israel (Romans 11, and in line with prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel), the implied context is always in a New Covenant relationship with God.

Fred Butler said...

continued from before

BTW as an aside, does anyone else hate blogger's character limitation? Good when you need to shut up trolls, but irritating in maintaining a train of thought.

any ways, moving on,

For me personally, I see the "this generation" being those whom Christ was speaking to who will be judged, so I would agree with Al to a point. However, I don't see the judgment between 70 AD and 135/136 AD (preterists tend to overlook the desolation that happened after the Bar Kohkaba rebellion) as a complete fulfillment of the Revelation, but as the starting point fulfilling Daniel's prophecy of "desolations being determined" (Dan. 9:26). Desolation is seen in both the Torah and the prophets of Israel being expelled from their land. According to Daniel 9:24 that desolation was determined for the reason of finishing the transgression, making an end for sins, making a reconciliation for iniquity, bringing in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up visions and prophecy (what I take to mean to bring to completion all revelation concerning the Messiah). The Lord himself, through the mouth piece of the angel Gabriel, tells Daniel in the next chapter that these events (what is recorded prophetically in chapter 11 thru 12) will happen "to your people (the Jews) in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come" (10:14). What are those days yet to come? I believe the last 2,000 years between the first coming of Christ and His second coming. For that is, as Luke's record tells us in 21:20-24 the times of the gentiles. At this point, God is gathering for Himself a people beyond just Israel to be a part of His coming Kingdom. A people, as John tells us in Revelation 5:9, 10 called from every nation and tribe.

Al writes,
Clearly, when Jesus was crucified at the lawless hands of this generation of Jews they killed the last Prophet who would come to Israel. They killed the Son of God and every prophet’s death up to that point had been a shadow of what was to come. In response to this Prophet’s death “this generation” would be full of their Father’s sins. How anyone could read that another way is beyond me…

This is the main difficulty I have with preterism. Look at what the apostles originally asked Jesus in Matthew 24:3, "what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" As James Kline noted in the other comment thread, what exactly are we talking about here? What coming? The second coming? The question seems to be quite clear to me, Christ's coming in relationship to the end of the age, meaning the end of the world. What would be his eschatological 2nd coming. So how do we explain this coming in relation to preterism and 70 AD? We just make it "coming in judgment" against Israel? Against the temple? That is the main rub between the so-called hyper preterists and the garden variety preterism I guess Al is representing here and I think is the one area needing to be explained textual within the chapter of the Olivet Discourse.

Andy Dollahite said...

James: "Besides, the end of the OC would bring in the beginning of the New Covenant. This is the best thing that could have possibly happened to the Jews."

While for gospel believing Jews this would be absolutely true, it seems to me that Stephen's persecutors didn't think so (Act 6:11-14). In other words, for those who failed to believe Heb. 8:13, only catastrophe remained.

Stefan said...

Fred:

I guess my last comment was a parenthesis in your stream of thought....

Sir Aaron said...

Aaron...

The destruction of Jerusalem was the end of the Old Covenant. It was as devastating as Revelation portends.

The kingdom moving from glory to glory is painful if you are hanging on to a past glory.


AL,

Just as I said, God is a gross over-exaggerator. According to the preterist, Martyrdom, earthquakes, darkening of the sun, red color of the moon, stars falling from the sky, terror of the earth from the coming Son of Man in judgment are all seen leading up to the destruction of the temple in AD 70 (or for some preterists all the way up to the Bar Kohkaba rebellion). It's a good thing we have Josephus and Tacitus, otherwise we'd have completely missed it!

When Jesus said "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. . ., He doesn't mean global warfare and chaos but rather local tumults within the Roman empire ending with the destruction of Jerusalem. Really? I'm sure the destruction of Jerusalem was terrible for the Jews living there. But even the talmud seems to indicate that Bar Kohkaba was far worse than AD70, putting the death toll in the millions.

Sir Aaron said...

As I said in the previous meta, I do believe a great many people make the mistake of interpreting Matthew 24 by itself without reviewing parallel passages in Mark and Luke. Because if you look at the parallel passages you understand there is a break between Matthew 24:2 and Matthew 24:3, in that they were looking at the temple, Jesus says what he does in 24:2, then Peter, James, John and Andrew approach Jesus privately on the Mount of Olives. that's just one of the common mistakes.

James Kime said...

Al, you fail to factor in a change of audience and location. In Matt 23, Jesus did not say anything about the destruction of the temple. He said that "this generation", the pharisees particularly, would be judged severely.

After resting, singing, and fellowshiping with the disciples, he then addresses his return.

Here is my point: you take one possible meaning of "this generation" in Matthew 24 literally, and then forcefeed Josephus down Matthew's throat to explain all the events in some bizarre, allegorical manner.

When did the lost jewish propagandist become the official arbiter of truth for you?

Stefan said...

Dan:

Thanks for your ongoing (if occasional) treatment of subjects eschatological, with your consistent approach of reasoning from Scripture to doctrine (and not the other way around), even if we still arrive at different conclusions.

It's mainly because of you [since Phil and Frank are circumspect enough to steer clear of this ;) ] that I have been challenged over the course of the last three years to really try to work through these matters in a logical way, while always keeping one's eye on the greatest promise of all: the return of our Lord and Saviour in power and glory.

James Kime said...

Brad, I said that because historic premill tends to be supersessionist. Posttrib may or may not be supersessionist. The identification of historic premill though typically is.

Al said...

Thanks Fred,
Glad you have chosen proportional response thus far, but keep the nukes on stand-by, you may need them :-) (I am guessing the nuke is verse 39 of chapter 23 or the Ireneaus quote, but I am not moving to the shelter just yet.)

Fred: You will note that on pg. 27 of Don's article, he mentions that there have been historically at least 8 major views offered throughout the course of Church history attempting to explain the identification of "this generation." Don cites Nelson's article, which is regrettably unavailable on the web, but is located in a JETS issue I had Don copy for me from his collection of research. What Nelson is arguing, and what Don is agreeing with is that "this generation" can be understood as a "kind of generation." Meaning, a wicked or evil generation. It would extend beyond Jesus's contemporaries, because there will always be "generations" of individuals opposed to Christ and His people, most specifically those opposed to God's people before the coming of the son of man.

me: Historically there may be eight different ways to take the Matthew 24 passage (p 27 of Green’s Critique of Preterism), but please let’s deal with Matthew 23:35-36 (the passage Green hopes to clarify by quoting Nelson). I think if we get this passage down, Matthew 24 becomes clearer.

Reading Matthew 23, is there a point in that section of Scripture where Jesus leaves his current audience and begins talking about a future generation or an unspecified “wicked generation?” I think the only way someone can come to that conclusion is to jump ahead to Matthew 24, read the history of AD 70 and come to the conclusion that Jesus could not have meant what he literally said about "this generation."

Kind of a reverse Van Impe approach to exegesis. Is going on there. It is almost as if Aaron were accusing God of exagerating his "woes" against the Scribes and Phraisees. Again, I am open to hear something else, but I have yet to read that from you or Green.

There is a direct connection, I contend, to the phrase “this generation” in chapter 23 and the same phrase in chapter 24, but it flows chronologically.

After this I want to move on to the real exegesis of Jesus claim to destroy the temple. And the accompanying signs listed in Matthew 24.

al sends

witness said...

I just don't understand those who want to ascribe what Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 24 is for the Jews only and not the church.

Al said...

James : In Matt 23, Jesus did not say anything about the destruction of the temple. He said that "this generation", the Pharisees particularly, would be judged severely.

me: James, you are wrong. Also, could you please tell me what hymns Jesus and the disciples were singing when they took their fellowship break?

Aaron, can you please point me to the clear break between Jesus talking about the destruction of temple and then talking to his Disciples about it in Luke 21 and Mark 13? They are even more compressed there than in this passage. Maybe I am missing it.

al sends

Fred Butler said...

After this I want to move on to the real exegesis of Jesus claim to destroy the temple. And the accompanying signs listed in Matthew 24.

Al,
Well let's move to that. Like I said before, I happen to agree with you about "this generation" though I am happy to consider the challenge of other view points from fellow premillennialists. There is really no need for you to try to convince me of a connection between chapters 23 and 24.

However, the identity of "this generation" I believe is surpassed by identifying what the apostles meant when they asked Jesus about His coming. My question to you would be what coming were they referring to? His second, eschatological coming or is it re-interpreted only along the lines of judgment upon the religious leaders and the temple?

Phil said...

Dan, what do you make of Acts 2:16,17?
Without telling me the last days stared then and go onto this day what are your thoughts on this passage?

Fred Butler said...

*Link troll alert on*

I recently wrote about the latter days at my blog

*Link troll alert off*

In sum: for me, I believe the citation of Joel was an initiation of the latter days. I think the mistake is to assume the "latter days" only entails one brief moment right before Christ returns, where as what I can see from the textual data, it is a term that can encompass a good amount of time that culminates in the Return of Christ.

Fred Butler said...

Sorry, the link troll failed:

Try THIS

Link trolls can be so lame.

Al said...

We are moving on since Fred and I are in agreement that “this generation” in Matthew 23 and 24 are the present generation of Jesus day (up to a point anyway)…

I plan on showing Jesus referenced the destruction of the Temple while standing in its midst (Matthew 23:37-38) and the question the Disciples asked in 24 had to do with this prophecy of Jesus…

I hope this answers Fred’s question: ” My question to you would be what coming were they referring to? His second, eschatological coming or is it re-interpreted only along the lines of judgment upon the religious leaders and the temple?”

If you have an ESV (and who doesn’t, right?) Matthew 23:37-39 has this for a heading: Lament Over Jerusalem an excellent heading as we shall soon see… Here is the passage 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
This is the climax of the Savior’s woes against this generation’s Pharisees and it is a prophecy of the destruction of the Temple itself. The key to understanding this prophecy is verse 38. Your house is left to you desolate. Jesus is the greater Jeremiah here, announcing the destruction of the Temple. Here is what Jeremiah said back in the day, Chapter 26:1-6 “1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: 2 “Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. 3 It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. 4 You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, 5 and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, 6 then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.’” (bolds all mine)

The priests and prophets get ticked, knowing exactly what he meant…

“7 The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. 8 And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die! 9 Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.

They change Jeremiah’s words just slightly, but Jesus now turns their own words against them and quoting from the Septuigent tells them: “This house shall be left to you desolate. “

Now, it is possible that Jesus is not talking about the Temple here, but I doubt it since Matthew, by the Spirit, picks right back up on the theme. (more)

Al said...

Jesus leaves the temple (Matthew 24:1) and the Disciples point out the buildings that made up the temple complex. Remember that Jesus had just said the house shall be left desolate. The disciples (I think) wondered how that could be when this wonder stood before them (The Luke quote below gives a bit more detail). Jesus tells them what the desolation will actually be. Not a ceremonial defilement as in the days of Antiochus Epiphanies, but the actual destruction of the temple. Not one stone left upon another.

So, when Jesus stops atop the Mount of Olives his disciples ask him specifically about this prophecy (Luke 21 puts the question to Jesus this way, without reference to a fellowship break on Olivet: 5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

Now, Matthew records an additional question with two clauses: “…what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Jesus answers that they should not be deceived by false Christs who claim to be him, but are not, rather they are to wait until they see the abomination of desolation mentioned in Daniel. The noun, desolation, in verse 15 of chapter 24 has the same root as the adjective “desolate” in chapter 23. Not iron clad, but I think it helps to see what Jesus intended.

So, the sign of his coming is the destruction of the temple and the accompanying terrors of tribulation start for the inhabitants of Judea. I will have to get some help on exactly what each of those tribulation signs means, but it is just me by myself right now and I did not bring any nuclear material :-). It is enough to say that all of these would come to pass before this generation passes away.

The close of the age is tied to the destruction of the temple. As I said in an earlier post on the other thread, the destruction of the temple heralded the end of the Old Covenant. That age is over, we are living in the age to come, which as yet to reach its fullness.


al sends
(this may be my last post for the day since I have some family stuff to do, but perhaps not - DV)

Stefan said...

Matthew, Mark, Luke, Daniel, Revelation, Thessalonians, Romans, Jeremiah....

I wish I could go back and read all the relevant texts that have been (or could be) brought up here, but due to extraneous circumstances, I have three and a half days left to read through most of Samuel, and all of Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther for my Bible school course.

I am probably going to have to swallow my pride (which, granted, is always a good Biblical lesson!) and forego the marks from getting all the required reading done, and instead focus on the written assignments.

Help, Lord!

Stefan said...

(Of course, I've read through all those books before, but they must be reread for the course.)

zostay said...

Thanks Dan for the post and the others for the discussion. This is a bit out of my league, so I'll be quiet, but I want to learn. Thank you for not descending into name calling (and Dan for moderating out that garbage).

James Kime said...

I said:
In Matt 23, Jesus did not say anything about the destruction of the temple. He said that "this generation", the Pharisees particularly, would be judged severely.

Al said:
James, you are wrong.

Al, can you show me where I was wrong? Where in Matthew 23 did Jesus say something about the destruction of the Temple or Jerusalem. Don't refer me to the white parts inbetween verses either.

The part about the hymn was Matthew 26, I got that event out of order. It was verse 30. Scrap that part. You still have a different audience, a different location, a different theme to deal with, none of which you have.

When did the Old Covenant end? Better yet, when did God say the Old Covenant ended? The Old Covenant ended when the veil was ripped in half and God's presense was no longer centralized in Jerusalem.

The prophets foretold a time of global devastation. The vast majority of the world in that day was not jewish or concerned about jewish life. An end of their system was inconsequential to the rest of the world. Yet again, the end of the Old Covenant was the best thing that was going to happen to the jews, whether they knew it or not. So Jesus' description of it being the worst thing in human history was a flat lie if your view is taken seriously.

Al said...

James where in FL do you live (I am in P-cola),

Read my last two posts to get my explanation of why you are wrong...

As far as the OC ending when the Temple veil tore, OK I guess you could say that, but the temple was still standing there were still washings and such going on and Christians even participated in them. So while the shadows were fulfilled in Christ, those shadows continued for a time at least in practice.

So, while it ended at the crucifixion, it further ended at the Resurrection, it continued to end at Pentecost and it came crashing down with the walls of the temple.

al sends

Sir Aaron said...

Al:

Matthew 24:1-3 indicates that Jesus was making His way from the temple to the Mt. of Olives. "Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. Matt 24:1 leaves us with the implication that the disciples were talking to Jesus about how beautiful the Temple was and possibly about how Herod was still in the process of remodeling. I think this is also seen in Mark 13:1-2 and Luke 21:5-6. Of course, we know Jesus' shocking reply in Matt 24:2, And He said to them, "And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down."

Obviously some time passes between 24:2 and 24:3 as we see that in That is the clear break, I mentioned. "As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately." Mark 13:3 tells us that the disciples who came to Him privately were Peter, James, John and Andrew, and that they were sitting on the Mount of Olives looking at the Temple. Mark implies that they were questioning him quite a bit but we only get a few of the questions.

"Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?"

Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?

when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place

It was likely that the Disciples lumped the destruction of Jerusalem with the return of the Messiah . It was Jewish understanding that the destruction of the temple would mark the coming of the King to reign. Even though the disciples merged these events, Jesus did not In fact, Matthew and Mark do not deal with the destruction of Jerusalem in their accounts of the Olivet Discourse.

Al said...

Aaron,

No matter the time it took to get to the mountain, God the Holy Spirit connects this discourse with what happened at the Temple.

I really don't get this line of argument, the disciples ask Jesus to explain to them something he said to others? This is something frequently done in the Gospels.

al sends

Fred Butler said...

I have sort of woven together Al's last three comments into one (or two depending upon blogger limitations)

Al writes,
Historically there may be eight different ways to take the Matthew 24 passage (p 27 of Green’s Critique of Preterism), but please let’s deal with Matthew 23:35-36 (the passage Green hopes to clarify by quoting Nelson). I think if we get this passage down, Matthew 24 becomes clearer.

(Fred) let's be a bit fair. It wasn't like Don stated that "this generation" means "a wicked generation" without any reason. Neither did Nelson, who wrote a 10 page article on the subject. For example, throughout Matthew's gospel, Jesus uses the term "generation" to speak to the ethics of the people he was addressing, rather than the chronology of their existence. See Matthew 11:16-19; 12:39-41, 45; 16:4; and 17:17. So rather than dismissing their argumentation, it is much more persuasive to explain why it is wrong.

But laying that aside, as I noted yesterday, I happen to agree with you, but not because my system demands it, but from other factors informing the text. For instance the record of the Olivet Discourse in the other two synoptic, particularly Luke 21, OT prophecy like Daniel 9:24 ff., and the exegetical factors noted by Barry Horner in his article.

Let me shuffle your comments up a bit,
Al wrote,
The close of the age is tied to the destruction of the temple. As I said in an earlier post on the other thread, the destruction of the temple heralded the end of the Old Covenant. That age is over, we are living in the age to come, which as yet to reach its fullness.

Where I think we disagree is that you see a complete fulfillment of much of the eschatological passages in scripture, because preterists (at least Al) believe the "end of the age" is the end of the old covenant that supposedly ended at 70 AD. So for the preterist, the "end of the age" has come and gone and we now exist in the new age. (not eastern mysticism, by the way, for those wondering).

The problem I have with the new age having come upon us - or better, "the age to come" - and the old age having been done away with, is that the Bible is often unclear when it distinguishes the ages, and that in turn produces some difficulties.

For example, in Matthew 28:19, 20 Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples. He promises to be with them "even to the end of the age?" Which age is this? If it is the old age, that ended in 70 AD according to your position, are we then no longer required to evangelize, send missionaries, or disciple believers? If it is the "age to come," what we are living in currently but has yet to reach its fullness as you say, where does Jesus make that distinction between ages clear?

According to your position, in Hebrews 6:5, what exactly is the "power of the age to come"? What age is in view here?

Lastly, Paul writes in Galatians 1:4, "... who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." Was Paul discussing the age he then lived in as "this present evil age?" Does this then mean the age we live in now, post 70 AD, the "age to come" is no longer evil? If so, please explain Islamic persecution of Christians in Muslim lands and the presence of poodles?

Let me post another comment interacting a bit with the citations from Jeremiah.

DJP said...

Goodness, what a nightmarish position. My mind also went right to the closing words of Matthew's Gospel. Christ was only with disciples until 70 AD? Yikes.

Sir Aaron said...

AL:

My point is that the Holy Spirit doesn't lump it all together. There is a clear break. Scripture tells us that the context of what Jesus was saying changed a bit. It wasn't a mere continuation of what Jesus was teaching at the moment he said MAtt 24:2. Now it's true, the Disciples lump 24:2 with the end of the age. Eschatologically speaking, the Disciples probably were taught to expect the end of the age and the return of the Messiah at the time of the destruction of the temple (so I've read in commentaries). However, Christ doesn't lump them together and doesn't speak of the temple's destruction after that in Matt and Mark 13.

I can't believe you see zero significance in the fact that Jesus was no longer at the temple but approached privately on the Mount of Olives. If it wasn't important, why does Scripture provide us that little tidbit?

Fred Butler said...

Al cites from Jeremiah 26:1-6 in order to demonstrate that the Jewish leaders during Christ's day understood his condemnation of them in Matthew 23. He then ties that to Christ's discussion of God's judgment in Matthew 24. As I stated in an earlier comment, I think Al is partly right. The destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the full desolation of the land in 135 AD marked the beginning of the latter days that will culminate in the final week of Daniel being fulfilled with an Anti-Christ bringing tribulation upon the earth among all the nations and subsequently the Return of Jesus Christ who will establish His earthly Kingdom for a 1,000 years.

Moving back to Jeremiah 26:1-6, Al states that this passage is an illustration of Christ's words stating Israel's house will be left to them desolate. The point being is that the temple will be destroyed, which in turn means God's visible presence is no longer with Israel. Now, most amillers and postmillers take the destruction of the temple in 70 AD as the final blow against Israel and it illustrates that God has replaced a theocratic nation of people with a spiritual body of people. Of course, there are certainly many like Sam Waldron and the Here I blog guys who complain bitterly their position is not "replacement theology" but such is just an historical reality. Facts are facts.

Certainly the OT prophets spoke of judgment upon Israel, and for Jeremiah, it was in the context of the Babylonian captivity. And though those prophecies also have a long term application to the nation of Israel during the time of the Messiah, those same prophets also spoke of their restoration to their house and to their land. So just like Israel was promised to be restored to their land after the Babylonian captivity, so too will they be restored to their land after their dispersion in 70 AD. That is what Jesus will accomplish at his return.

Note Jeremiah's words to Israel concerning the New Covenant in Jer. 31:31-40 where he speaks of a new covenant being made with the house of Israel and Judah. His words in 33:11-16 where a promise is made to the house of Israel and Judah that a BRANCH of righteousness will forever sit on the throne of David. Consider Micah's words in 4:1 ff., that the House of the Lord will be established above all the mountains. Are we to spiritualize this "house" here in Micah, where as the house in Matthew 23 and 24 is a real, physical temple in Israel?

Now some will point to Peter's words in his first epistle that speak of a spiritual house, and though I agree that Christ's church is a "spiritual house" and we are a holy nation and so forth, that doesn't cancel previous OT prophecy as well as other NT prophecy promising a restoration of the Jews in a kingdom. The disciples, for example, asked Jesus in Acts 1:6 if he was going to restore Israel's kingdom to them. This is after Luke tells us that Jesus had spent a whole lot of time explaining to them about the Kingdom of God, Acts 1:3. How could the disciples had been so screwed up in their thinking if the "kingdom" was only meant to be spiritual? Jesus didn't even rebuke them for their wrong thinking, but merely stated it wasn't for them to know at that moment, Acts 1:7. Their duty was to take the gospel into the world.

All of that to say that I don't see Matthew 24 as being a total and complete fulfillment of all OT prophecy concerning the coming Kingdom of Christ. Nor do I see Revelation as a sort of commentary on Jesus's Olivet Discourse. A portion of what Christ spoke in Matthew 24 was accomplished in 70-135 AD, but much of it is remains in the future for us.

Andy Dollahite said...

Aaron,

I'm sure Al can say it better than I, but doesn't Matt. 13:36 provide a case study in how Jesus and his disciples might "flesh out" his teaching somewhere other than the immediate location his spoke? There seems to be in the gospels quite a few times Jesus taught and then had to explain his teaching later in a different place, yet without changing subject.

Al said...

Aaron, we are now talking past one another...

al sends

Al said...

Fred: The problem I have with the new age having come upon us - or better, "the age to come" - and the old age having been done away with, is that the Bible is often unclear when it distinguishes the ages, and that in turn produces some difficulties.

For example, in Matthew 28:19, 20 Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples. He promises to be with them "even to the end of the age?" Which age is this? If it is the old age, that ended in 70 AD according to your position, are we then no longer required to evangelize, send missionaries, or disciple believers? If it is the "age to come," what we are living in currently but has yet to reach its fullness as you say, where does Jesus make that distinction between ages clear?


Great questions Fred… I think this is where my weakness will show through (no snide comments about me being three posts late in that prediction please), but I will do my best to answer this (waiting for all of Dan’s postmil friends to show up and help me :-) ). First of all, I think we may agree that our modern time keeping may color our understanding of how God ends things, what with our ability to parse time down to picoseconds and all. As I commented to others the OC ends in stages, dying out slowly, so that there seems to be overlap in the present age and the age to come.

To deal specifically with Great Commission we look at Jesus’ words with an eye toward proper grammatical-historical exegesis (systematics has its place after all) and I think you have Jesus giving this commission primarily to the immediate audience of Disciples who are to be persecuted in this evil age. These are words of comfort to a generation who would be scattered after persecution, some of whom may have seen the end of the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem. A time they may be tempted to doubt His promises to them, what with being hauled before councils, thrown in prison, beaten etc…

So yes, Jesus promised not to abandon them even to the end of THAT age. But, as the church was persecuted by the Jews, the end of the age and the accompanying destruction for that first generation of disciples was a sign that Jesus had not left them. He did what He had promised.

In the “this present age” the Jews were still killing prophets, Stephen being the first, and they persecuted the Church with zeal (Phil 3). The destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem would have been a sign to them that Jesus was with them in the that age and afterword I think it is a confirmation that He is with them the new age.

So, that does not in anyway indicate that he would not be there in the age to come, nor that persecutions would stop completely, nor that the mission of the Church would change at the destruction of the Temple, but circumstances have changed. The disciples were not able to go into “all the world” for example. Their spiritual children continued and are doing so though.

Dan thinks this nightmarish, but lets go to a fuller commissioning and ask if Jesus we apply the same understanding to these promises of Jesus: (more)

Al said...

Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.


Now, I have cousins in the hills of Alabama and Tennessee and there may even be a few snake handlers in my family tree, but most Christian commentaries that I have read see the bit about poison and snakes to be particular to that first generation; miraculous signs for that first generation of Christians.

Now, the whole of creation has not heard (babies are being born every day and creation keeps expanding) let alone believed, so the go and make disciples commands are still valid and the promise of Jesus’ presence is even confirmed for us in the destruction of the Temple.
Fred: According to your position, in Hebrews 6:5, what exactly is the "power of the age to come"? What age is in view here?

me: I think this is a view of Heavenly powers, particularly the power of the resurrection. The age to come is consummated in the raising of the dead. The Resurrection is our hope and the final vindication of Jesus’ work in us. Again, I think we see overlap in some of this. (more)

Fred: Lastly, Paul writes in Galatians 1:4, "... who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." Was Paul discussing the age he then lived in as "this present evil age?" Does this then mean the age we live in now, post 70 AD, the "age to come" is no longer evil? If so, please explain Islamic persecution of Christians in Muslim lands and the presence of poodles? (more)

me: This is interesting… Paul here clearly identifies “this present evil age” with a time of Jewish persecution of the church (he lists himself among the persecutors). Galatians is a book written to those who are in danger of being seduced back to a Judiazing legalism, which is another attack on the gospel, the Galatians being bewitched. That is what makes this present age evil in Paul’s eyes… So, no the age we live in now is not “the evil age” Paul is warning the Galatians about. It is instructive that you instead of pointing out a current Jewish persecution of the Church you have instead directed us to a Muslim persecution. This age has its evil, but Paul was not concerned with a tribal moon god nor of poodles or worse the golden doodle for that matter...

al sends

Al said...

I will check back in tonight to answer some of Freds problems with my understanding of Jer., but I have a tee time... I mean ministry appointment to get to.

al sends

Fred Butler said...

The Mark passage is a bit tenuous, seeing that it is a major textual variant, but leave that for the moment.

While you are teeing, maybe you can explain to us which age is meant by Paul when he describes "this age:"

1 Cor. 1:20, 2:6-8, 3:18, 2 Cor. 4:4, Eph. 1:21, 6:12?

With Eph. 6:12, if we are in the "age to come" (Ephesians being written before 70 AD), is our wrestling with the powers of darkness no longer a necessity?

Fred Butler said...

By the way: Is the new heavens and new earth part of this age, or is there yet a third age we are anticipating? Eternal state?

rwt said...

I saw this passage recently in my daily Bible reading and it contains an important truth.

"In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.

For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter, for there was none left, bond or free, and there was none to help Israel. But the LORD had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash." II Kings 14:23-27

Here we see God's pity for Israel manifested toward them through the hand of a wicked king. God here affirms that He has not said that He would blot out Israel from under heaven. That was true then and it is true now.

The Preterists assert that God finally judged Israel in AD 70/135. However, it is obvious today to anyone paying attention that God's alleged final judgment wasn't so final because He has given them back their nation and the city of Jerusalem. He will soon allow them to rebuild their temple, albeit in unbelief.

He will then through the prophesied period of tribulation bring them to repentance. He will pour out on them the spirit of grace and supplication and bring them into the bond of the covenant.

He will do this because of His own choice and sovereign will, Preterists notwithstanding.

Word verification: Ameni

Stefan said...

What is amazing and convicting is that, despite the probably millions of sermons, books, articles, papers, and commentaries that have been preached or written on eschatology—despite all that, in terms of personal application, it all comes down to a command and a promise:

"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." (Matthew 24:42)

DJP said...

RWT, amen.

Lynda O said...

"Brad, I said that because historic premill tends to be supersessionist. Posttrib may or may not be supersessionist. The identification of historic premill though typically is."

Depends on your definition of historic premill. Only George Ladd is historic premill and supersessionist. I've observed that most who use the term historic premill -- such as Barry Horner in his recent conference series -- apply that term to premillennialists other than Ladd; by this more common definition, historic premill refers to several 19th century premillennialists -- Horatius Bonar, J.C. Ryle, and Spurgeon -- who were not at all supersessionist.

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

Hey! I get to have J.C. Ryle and Spurgeon on my team? Sweet!

Stefan said...

Brad:

Yes, you (we) do!

[Link troll]
Spurgeon and Eschatology (from Phil's website).
[/Link troll]

And Spurgeon was indeed not supercessionist, but saw a future Romans 11-style revival among the people of Israel within God's redemptive plan.

Sir Aaron said...

Andy,my point simply is that Matthew 24 is not a single monologue. This is crucial to understanding the meaning of "this generation" and is a point made by most disoensationalist. The reason being is that the the disciples were bragging about the temple and Jesus rocked them with the prophecy about it's destruction. Then some time passes and four of the disciples were concerned about it. They wanted to "flesh it out" as you say. So they asked two questions. When will these things happen and when will you return and the end of the age (note:I've been told the last part is is actually grammatically a single question, but I don't read Greek so I can't personally confirm)? The disciples believed the destruction of the temple would coincide with the return of the King and the restoration of Israel. But Jesus explained differently. The timing of the statements is important because while the disciples thought 24:2 related to the end, that is not the case. The break is there so we can undersand that Jesus wasn't making a long monologue about the same event.

Al said...

Fred: By the way: Is the new heavens and new earth part of this age, or is there yet a third age we are anticipating? Eternal state?


There is yet the restoration of all things… (Acts 3:11-26) As someone mentioned earlier the already/not yet distinction is palpable in Scripture. For example, Paul talks of Christ coming in the fullness of time, uniting Heaven and Earth (Eph. 1:1-14). Calling us to live as heirs with an inheritance, the promise of which is so sure so as to prompt us to live as though we already posses it. Yet Jesus also taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Christ is on the Earth and Heaven is united with Creation, yet it is still to come in all its fullness.

To answer your question directly, we look forward to the Resurrection of the dead in Christ. That is the end of history and the hope we have in Christ, sealed by his own bodily resurrection.

One more comment about the present evil age being tied to the Jewish persecution of the Church…

In 1 Peter, the Apostle writes to Jewish Christians who are scattered because of the persecution of the Old Covenant Jews. This was not something the Christians sought. They liked living in Jerusalem. There is indication that they even continued to participate in Temple life, preaching in the temple and even participating in the ceremonies (again, the Old Covenant grows less as the New spreads like leaven). Peter comforts them during this time and urges them to be strong in the face of trials at the hands of the Jews (verses 1:3-6; 13-25 and many others).

He gets to Chapter 2 and proclaims the glorious truth that they are being fitted together into a New Temple, a living Temple fit for new sacrifices. Why is that hopeful for this group? Because they had been kicked out of Jerusalem and the Old Temple was no longer available to them. It appeared that the Jews were victorious in their purge, and perhaps many were beginning to doubt.

In light of this, I think it is instructive that Peter tells these Jewish Christians that the end of all things is at hand (1 Peter 4:7). Here is one place where all does not mean all, but rather I think he points to end of their persecution by the Jews. Their enemies would be defeated, the Temple that their enemies pointed to as proof that God was with them, would be destroyed and the New Temple would be edified in seeing God vindicate them. That is comfort.

May I summarize my position, which I think I have defended thus far?
First… Those present with Jesus at the Temple in Matthew 23 and looking down at the Temple in Matthew 24 helped to make up “this generation” which shall not pass away until all of Jesus predictions come to pass.

Second… The present age” was the Old Covenant dispensation (heh!), symbolized most prominently in the Temple, which was destroyed in AD 70. This destruction gave hope to the followers of Christ for whom the end of the present age became an evil time of persecution; it sealed both the end of the Old Covenant and the inauguration of the Age to Come.

Lastly, to keep myself from fires of a heresy trial, Christ will come again to put an end to all rebellion at the end of the current age, the dead will be raised bodily, the Church (with a glorious contingent of ethnic decedents of Abraham, now made one with Christ) will rejoice and kingdom wine will be served at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. What a day of rejoicing that will be.

Al sends

Al said...

By the way Fred, look at chapter 3 of 2 Corinthians and then come back and tell me who is veiled in chapter 4? What is the outcome of the god of this world (age) blinding these people? Could it be persecution?

Again, there are not many "this age" passages you can point to that God does not have the OC Jewish people there in the mix.

(similar argument for the 1 Cor. passages. The Eph. chapter is not as clear, but even here "we do not fight against flesh and blood" may reference back to the "you are called the un circumcision by what is called the circumcision.)

al sends

al sends

Lynda O said...

Al says: "In 1 Peter, the Apostle writes to Jewish Christians who are scattered because of the persecution of the Old Covenant Jews. This was not something the Christians sought. They liked living in Jerusalem. There is indication that they even continued to participate in Temple life, preaching in the temple and even participating in the ceremonies (again, the Old Covenant grows less as the New spreads like leaven). Peter comforts them during this time and urges them to be strong in the face of trials at the hands of the Jews (verses 1:3-6; 13-25 and many others)."

Where do you get all that from 1 Peter 1:1? The more obvious meaning is a reference to the diaspora, those Jews who had been scattered amongst the Gentile nations since the time of the Babylonian captivity several hundred years before. Yes, there were some Jewish Christians who were scattered as a result of the persecution in connection with Stephen (Acts 8), but we don't have enough evidence from the text to say that Peter was specifically addressing those individuals.

Peter may not even have been addressing the Jews living among the Gentiles (though I've always understood it that way). John MacArthur in his sermon on the topic says that because Peter doesn't use the definite article "the diaspora" that he may not even have the Jews in mind particularly -- and that the emphasis is on "Christians who are aliens in the earth. You are true aliens and strangers and pilgrims."

Al said...

Linda,

I may have overstated my case just a bit... I was trying to bang that out before I had to leave for something and I said too much… Thanks for keeping me honest.

Neither here nor there though. I think they were Jews who were no longer in Judea. The question still remains, who are their persecutors? The Roman state at this time was not singling out Christians en masse. They considered them a Jewish sect.

The trials that these Jewish Christians faced had more to do with the teachers of the synagogue than with anything else. The persecution was Jewish in nature and I believe that Peter wants them to know that hope is coming. They are made into the new Temple and the Old is passing away.

al sends

Fred Butler said...

Al,
We have a lot here to chew on that just may be too much for commenting purposes. Maybe I can back up a bit and explore this notion of yours that we are currently living in what the NT calls "the age to come."

From what I understand of your position, you are saying the previous age meant to signify the age of the OC. The "age to come" took place, or I guess you would say broke onto the earth at the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. We are now living in that "age to come." Am I representing your concept correctly here?

To be honest with you, I find such a view to be utterly baffling. Most significantly because of the havoc it wrecks upon the exegesis of the various texts that talk about this present age and the age to come. I see it more as a presupposition that has to be proven by a unique and foreign exegesis of those texts that produces insurmountable problems.

Staying in the context of Matthew for a moment, backing up to the parables of the kingdom in chapter 13, specifically 13:24-30, 37-43, 47-50. Here we have the parables of the wheat and tares and the drag net. Why I point them out is because when explaining the wheat and the tares, Jesus places the harvest of separating the wheat and tares at the end of the age (vs. 39). He identifies the tares as being from the wicked one and the wheat as being the righteous. So. if I take your position, this end of the age happened at 70 AD. Right? If this is the end of the age post-70 AD, where does Christ clearly identify that he is speaking about things post 70 AD?

Moreover, note that the angels are identified as the harvesters. They are separating the wicked from the righteous. We see later in Matthew 24 that they are said to "gather the elect." This happens at the "coming of the son of man" which I reckon you take as happening in 70 AD. Right or wrong? But when the angels call forth the elect they do so by calling them to Resurrection. Note other passages like 1 Thess. 4:13-18, 1 Cor. 15:52, where angels and a trumpet are identified with the moment of Resurrection. Additionally, 2 Thess. 1:5-10 places this angelic activity at the moment of Jesus Christ being revealed from heaven with his angels and they bring flaming vengeance upon the wicked who are punished eternally. Resurrection and eternal punishment are eschatological themes that happen at Christ's 2nd coming not at 70 AD. Unless of course you believe Christ's second coming happened.

Then, in response to the question about who is veiled in 2 Cor. 4. I believe it is quite a leap to say those veiled are only Jews persecuting Christians. The context presents a contrast to the law which could not save because it was only temporary and dealt with external behavior, where as the Spirit is permanent and changes hearts. The god of this age is the devil and the system he has set up to keep men's hearts veiled to the gospel. In spite of this veiling, the gospel is more powerful to lift that veil so as to save men. This blinding activity of the devil continues even to this day, which makes it clear to me that we are still anticipating "the age to come."

Certainly I agree with you that the OC has been rendered void and has passed away. The Messiah has come to gather in His people to His coming kingdom and we live in anticipation of that, but the activities of Satan continue until he will be bound and forced to cease those blinding activities.

Al said...

My appologies Fred...

Preaching duties this weekend...

<a href="http://www.wordmp3.com/details.aspx?id=10628> LINK TROLL </a>

a Church History class and family visits have keept me wrapped up. I hope to get back to this soon.

Blessings,

al sends