This was originally a series of articles. I have compiled them here for ease of reference...by request.
Here we cover the discussion on the book of Revelation from the perspective of Jesus's own commentary on the event when he spoke to the disciples on the mount of Olives. I do not know what some of the folks reading may view these passages as, but I do know from personal observation, that most of the churches of Christ I have had experience with consider Matt. 24:3-35 to be about the destruction of Jerusalem and Matt. 24:36-25:46 to be about the end of the world. Most of the rest of the world, as far as I know, consider the entire passage to be about the end of the world.
What I'd like to do is offer information here that shows conclusively that Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem all the way through the whole discourse and why, Biblically, this is what Revelation must be about. A good preparatory exercise would be for you to stop reading this, go read the book of Acts, and note who the number one oppressors of the Christians are. You will note that generally only the Jews persecute Christians and that the Romans are either neutral or sometimes favorably disposed towards Christians (and against Jews).
The Question Edit
Matt. 24:1 - And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
Mark 13:1 - And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
Luke 21:5 - And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
During the "Passion" week, Jesus taught in the temple daily up until the night he was betrayed. Tuesday night (he instituted the Lord's Supper the next evening on Wednesday), at dusk, the disciples and he were leaving the temple. The disciples remarked on the magnificence of the temple.
Matt. 24:2 - And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Mark 13:2 - And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Luke 21:6 - As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Jesus' response to the disciples' wonder was to state in no uncertain terms that the very temple they beheld would be destroyed, and not just destroyed, but so utterly destroyed that not one single stone would be left on another. This statement sets the foundation for the questions the disciples would ask next and the answer Jesus would give, namely the destruction of the temple which happened when Jerusalem was destroyed as recorded in history in 70 AD.
Matt. 24:3 - And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Mark 13:3-4 - And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
Luke 21:7 - And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
Traditionally Matt. 24:3 has been split into three questions. The last two are generally interrelated.
1. When would be the sign of the destruction of the temple?
2. What would be the signs of Christ's second literal coming?
3. What would be the signs of the end of the world? ["world" is assumed to mean planet or universe in this interpretation]
But note the way that Mark and Luke record the question(s). There is no mention of the end of the "world", yet reading through the accounts you will notice many of the same points traditionally assigned to the supposed second question about the end of the world. What this indicates potentially is that the disciples were only asking about one event, the destruction of the temple. Below I will provide further building blocks for this idea.
The word the disciples use in Matthew 24 when asking about the "end of the world" is the word aion. This word is a reference to a period of time and is better translated as "age". Aion is contrasted with oikoumene [inhabited realm - translated as "world" in Matt. 24:14] , ge [the earth, planet, or dirt] and kosmos [universe, all of creation - translated as "world" in Matt. 24:21].
An example of this is found in Heb. 9:26 - For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world [kosmos]: but now once in the end of the world [aion] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Who would argue that Jesus will return at the end of the universe and sacrifice himself again to put away sin? Yet if we use the word aion to mean age and refer it to the end of the Jewish age, then it fits just fine with the timing of his sacrifice.
In truth, we begin with just one question asked by the disciples. What was going to be the sign of the time of the end of the [Jewish/OT/Mosaical] age when Jesus would return in triumph with his holy angels to destroy the temple as he had spoken of numerous times before?
The end of the Israelite nation was promised and prophesied all throughout the Old Testament since the inception of the nation of Israel. Israel's end included the end of the religion of Judaism since Israel was a theocracy. It was the end of all the things these disciples had been raised to hold as important that was of concern to them, not the end of the universe, a concept rarely spoken of in scripture. It was a time of the establishment of the kingdom of Christ, the church, not the end of the kosmos.
Beaten in the Synagogues Edit
For the next section of the discussion with reference to proof of the proposition that Matt. 24-25, the parallels, and Revelation are about the destruction of Jerusalem, I want to briefly talk about Matt. 24:9; Mark 13:9; and Luke 21:12.
Take a look at the very specific statements that Jesus makes concerning the synagogues and persecution of Christians. The word synagogue is a very specifically Jewish term referring to very specifically Jewish activities. Here Christ warns that Christians would be persecuted in the synagogues (among other, more nationally generic places). This we see throughout the book of Acts and referred to throughout all the NT writings. Yet after the end of Judaism in AD 70, where is the persecution of Christians by Jews (and thus "in the synagogues")?
Judaism was only a shadow, a type of the reality, the antitype that is NT faith in God (Heb. 8:5; 10:1). All that remained after 70 AD was a shadow of that shadow. It had and still has no real power except in the minds of those who cling to that dead religion. It has not been a Bible based (OT based) religion since God destroyed the temple in AD 70 through the Roman army.
This particular warning by Christ then, is another point in favor of the proposition that these passages refer to the destruction of Jerusalem rather than the end of the universe (kosmos).
Lightning from the East Edit
Our next passage of discussion is Matt. 24:27-28 and the parallel verses in Luke 17:24 and 37.
Matt. 24:27-28 - For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
Luke 17:24 - For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
Luke 17:37 - And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
Here we need to look back at some Old Testament to get the idea of what Jesus is talking about. What is this about lightning and coming from the East. Why does he speak of eagles and carcasses?
Lightning is a reference to speed such as in Nahum 2:4. In that verse the speed refers to chariots in an army.
Next we have to look at the coming of the Son of man. The first question I have is does the concept of "coming" necessarily mean the end of time (as in 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thess. 4:13-17). I propose that it doesn't and in fact that this is not the most common interpretation of "coming" [of God]. In Isaiah 19:1, for example, the Lord said he was coming in the clouds and the context is judgment against the nation of Israel, which is being spiritually called Egypt. This concept is used again in Jeremiah 4:13 and Ezekiel 38:9,16 in reference to God bringing judgment against Judah. The judgment is brought in these contexts as a Gentile army which is likened to a cloud.
In Matt. 26:64 and Mark 14:62 Jesus tells the high priest Caiaphas that he, Caiaphas, would see the Son of man coming in the clouds. Caiaphas is dead now so Jesus could not have been talking about the end of the kosmos. Whatever Jesus was referencing had to take place in Caiaphas' life time. We must conclude that the coming of the Son of man is not a literal coming, but very much like the coming referenced in the OT, a coming judgment.
So, given that the coming of the Son of man is a reference to judgment against Israel using a Gentile army we can put Matt. 24:27 together to mean that Christ was going to bring judgment against Israel (to destroy the temple -- remember the disciples' question in vs. 3), that the army would come swiftly (like lightning) and it would attack from the east.
Now we come to the eagles and the carcasses. Interpreting this also requires the OT. Eagles are unclean animals (Lev. 11:13; Deut. 14:12). In Deut. 28:15-68 God pronounces the punishment for disobedience by the children of Israel. In verse 49 of that chapter, God states that he will bring nations against them as swift as the eagle flies. In verse 26 the "carcass" of the nation of Israel would be given to all the fowls of the air and beasts of the field. Again in Jer. 4:13 a foreign calvary is compared to the eagles. This image is repeated in Lam. 4:19; Hos. 8:1 and Hab. 1:8.
When we put all these things together we see the image that Jesus is creating for his disciples. In the context of answering the question of the destruction of the Temple and the end of the aion, he paints a picture of himself coming in the form of a Gentile army, a swift and powerful army likened to lightning and eagles. That army would come from the east and would destroy Jerusalem, the capital of the nation of Judah and the place of the Temple. Judaism would die and the army would "feast on its carcass".
[Historical Corroboration] It is, I believe, acceptable but not necessary to note at this point that history backs this interpretation. Titus brought the Roman army in from the east across the Euphrates (specifically his good friend and second in command - Tiberius Alexander) to take up the siege against Jerusalem.[End H.C.]
Good News Preached to all the World Edit
The next point I'd like to make concerns Matt. 24:14 and Mark 13:10. The statements Jesus makes is that the good news of the kingdom would be preached in all the world (oikoumene - the inhabited realm or empire, specifically the Roman empire) and then the end would come.
Several important points to note here...
1. The first is the word "end". This end refers back to the question asked by the disciples. It is the end of the aion, the end of the age, the fulfillment of all these things, the end of the temple of the Jews that first brought about the questions.
2. Next is the statement that the good news (gospel) of the kingdom would be preached in all the world. The word translated "world" here is oikoumene, the smallest version of the word "world" we have. It simply means inhabited land or kingdom. Jesus promises that the end of the aion (age) would come only when the gospel had been preached to all the inhabited kingdom, specifically the Roman empire (the only "world" empire that the Bible concerns itself with at the time Jesus is speaking - see Daniel 2).
Now, many use this passage to say that these teachings of Jesus must refer to the end of time because the gospel has not been preached to every human who lives today. However, that is beside the point. Paul makes the claim in three different ways that this point is fulfilled.
Romans 10:18 - "But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth [Grk. ge - place where people live, the planet Earth], and their words unto the ends of the world [Grk. oikoumene - inhabited land or kingdom, the Roman Empire]."
So at the writing of Romans the gospel had been preached to the entire oikoumene, the same word used in Matt. 24:14 by Jesus. Prophecy fulfilled.
Col. 1:5-6 - "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world [Grk. kosmos - the universe, all of creation] ; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:"
Here Paul states that the gospel had been preached well beyond the simple oikoumene of Jesus' prophecy and indeed to the entire kosmos. Prophecy fulfilled and then some and more.
Col. 1:23 - If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Could Paul be any more complete and specific in his statement? Could Jesus prophecy be any more fulfilled than this? I think not.
Let it be known to all that the condition stated in Matt. 24:14 has been well and fully met according to scripture and let them who would deny it, deny scripture. (Jehovah's Witnesses especially take note!)
3. Lastly we come to the event to follow the condition to be met. Jesus said that when the gospel was preached to the world [oikoumene] that then the end [of the age] would come. That word for "then" is tote which means "at that time". So not only was it a precondition for the end of the age that the gospel would be preached to every nation in the Empire, but when it was preached to that extent, the end would come "at that time". This point coincides exactly with phrases in Revelation which speak of "things which must shortly come to pass", "the time is at hand", and "quickly".
We see the support begin to mount of the proposition that the enitre Olivet discourse is about the destruction of Jerusalem. I will continue to work through the first half of Matt. 24 (till verse 35) then move to show that beyond the traditional break between 35 and 36 there should in reality be no break, that the whole of the discourse is about the destruction of Jerusalem.
Order to Flee Jerusalem Edit
This next section is actually pretty short even though it covers a few verses in each parallel passage.
Matt. 24:16-20 - Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
Mark 13:14-18 - ... then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
Luke 21:21-23 - Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter there into. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
For our friends in the Jehovah's Witnesses and millennialists that believe that this passage is about the end of time, I have to ask:
- What good is fleeing into the mountains going to do you at the end of time?
- What does it matter if you are on your rooftop and where your clothes are at the end of time?
- What does it matter if you are out in the field, in the city, or even on vacation on the planet Mars for that matter at the end of time?
- At the end of time, will it matter that a person is pregnant, or nursing?
- Does it matter when Christ returns at the end of time whether it is winter, spring, summer, or autumn?
- And really, really why would the sabbath day have any bearing on the return of Christ at the end of the universe?
Now, some of these I can see the relation if we are talking about the fall of Rome or some other event besides the destruction of Jerusalem, but I don't understand the correlation between anything else and the sabbath day.
If Matt. 24 and its parallels are about the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the Mosaical Age, then all of these things make sense...especially the sabbath day.
Historical corroboration - From time to time I will provide uninspired historical corroboration, more for trivia than anything. They will be accordingly marked. These sections are not being offered as supporting evidence for my case.
[Historical Corroboration:]The city of Jerusalem kept its gates open all day every day...except the sabbath day. If a threat closed, they had spotters and messengers able to give warning. The messengers would give the warning to the guards at the gate who would then send a messenger to gather the Sanhedrin Council, who would then convene and determine if the gates needed to be closed. Then a messenger would be sent to the gates to have them closed if the threat was determined big enough to warrant it.
Christians caught in the city of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day when the warning came that Titus' army was approaching would have been trapped in the city. On other days, if they took time to go into their houses and pack, or returned to the city to get their things, when the warning came, they would be trapped in the city.
But if the warning came and the Christians, who were watching for the signs of the coming destruction, immediately fled into the mountains as instructed, then they would survive the destruction of Jerusalem.
There is no record of any single Christian dying during the fall of Jerusalem.
They were watching for the signs, they were prepared, and they did exactly as Matthew, Mark, and Luke recorded Jesus as commanding them to do.[End H.C.]
So far, Jesus discourse must concern the destruction of Jerusalem. Nothing else fits so perfectly.
Also, this section is more for those outside of the church who happen to read this since I know of no congregation of Christ's church, no member, who believes that Matt. 24:3-33 is about anything other than the fall of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Compassed with Armies Edit
Just a brief note in relationship to the last post. Within the context of fleeing into the mountains, of praying its not in winter or on the sabbath or you are pregnant...
Luke in chapter 21 writes:
Luke 21:20-24 - And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter there into. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
I believe it is fairly obvious that Jesus through Luke, and by implication, Matthew and Mark is speaking of some destruction of Jerusalem.
Some will look at this as a future destruction, but remember that Jesus is answering the question of the disciples asked before his discourse began. They had shown Jesus the wonder of that particular temple and Jesus responds by discussing that particular temple and saying that not one stone would be left upon another.
So what does Jesus mean by "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled"? The word there is kairos which means "due measure" or "a fixed and definite time; the time when things are brought to crisis; the decisive epoch waited for; opportune or seasonable time". In essence, the times of the Gentiles is a reference to a prophesied and waited for event. We have but to start in Exodus and read through the OT to find that God promised destruction to Israel, specifically to Jerusalem and the "sanctuary" if the nation of Israel disobeyed Him. Time and again they defied God yet He left them intact as a nation to fulfill other promises, especially concerning the coming Messiah. After the arrival of the Christ, the final promise of destruction could be carried out.
This destruction was done at the time it was done to clear the way for the church. A read through of Acts will show that the biggest opponent of Christianity was not the Romans, but Judaism. It had to be removed.
The Sun, Moon, and Stars Fail Edit
To introduce this next section I want to point out that in the churches of Christ, most folks tend to believe that there is a break after verse 35. They teach that everything Jesus says before verse 36, that is to say verses 4-35, are about the destruction of Jerusalem and that everything from verse 36 through the end of chapter 25 is about the end of the kosmos.
We will explore whether this break is called for and what the things in verse 36 and beyond deal with in a later post. The point I need to make now is that the things we are looking at in this post concern things before that traditional break. What this means is that in the teachings of the churches of Christ, these verses are considered within the traditional "fall of Jerusalem" section of the discourse. For those reading this who are not members of the church of Christ, this will be a meaningless point to you anyway, but for those who are, it is important for them to note.
Having said that, let's take a look at what these passages mean.
Matt. 24:29-30 - Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mark 13:24-26 - But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened,and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Luke 21:25-27 - And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars;and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
First I'd like to tend to the denominational doctrines. The literalists first.
Some people take the tribulation to be the end of the kosmos itself. That cannot be because these passages say "after the tribulation". If the tribulation is the end of time, there is no after.
Now,for those who believe these few verses describe literal events, I have to ask: What would happen if a real star "fell" to the earth? (Remember, stars are big balls of gas burning billions of miles away.) What would happen if the sun stopped shining? (We'd have about 8 minutes left). Just remember that again, in relation to the stars falling and the sun ceasing to shine we still have "after". Someone please tell me how the Earth can have an after a literal star hits the planet (or more accurately we fall into the star). :D
Some might say "well, the stars falling are meteorites and the sun darkening is an eclipse." I would then reply "well that's not a literal interpretation so by what standard are you making this interpretation?" In other words, where in the Bible does it explain that "stars falling from heaven" are really meteorites?
What really needs to happen is that folks need to let the Bible interpret itself. That is what I will do to show the meaning of these verses.
Sun, Moon, and Stars in Prophecy Edit
Our very first indication of what sun, moon, and stars might be symbolically is found in the dreams of Joseph. In Genesis 37:9-10 the sun, moon, and stars of Joseph's vision are his father (the ruler of the household), his mother (the ruler's chief adviser), and his brothers (other people of note). Keep this template in mind.
Isaiah's Prophecies Against Nations Edit
In Isaiah 1:2 the prophet writes: "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth...". Here he is pronouncing judgment against the unfaithful nation of Israel. In verse 10, referring to the same thing in a parallel passage: "Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah." We see here the first comparison of the things in the heavens (sun, moon, and stars) to the rulers and the things in the earth to the people being ruled over. [Heavens are above the earth.] It is also important to note that in this passage, the nation of Israel is compared to Sodom in a spiritual sense, just as it is compared to Egypt in Isa. 19. This point will be important later, too.
Again in Isaiah 13-14 we see what appears to be on the surface a judgment against the nation of Babylon. We'll get into what it really is talking about later in a more thorough study of Isaiah. In Isaiah 13:10 we read of the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars in"the day of the Lord"(vs. 9) - [a very important [phrase that we will come back to]. Verse13 refers to the shaking of the heavens and the moving of the earth out of her place. Folks, these events described in Isaiah took place along time ago. Yet the sun, moon, and stars still shine in the sky. But look further. In Isaiah 14 with regard to the "proverb against the king of Babylon" (vs. 4), Isaiah writes of the fall of the daystar "Lucifer" from heaven. Lucifer is the Latin form of the Greek Eosphorus, the dawn star, brother of Hesperus, the Evening Star, which we know to be the planet Venus. This morning star is, like all the stars of apocalyptic literature a king. According to vs. 4, it is the king of Babylon. It is NOT Satan.
Our next look is at Joel 2, that part quoted in Acts 2:16-21 by Peter. He associates the miracles (young and old, men and women, dreaming dreams and seeing visions, wonders, signs, etc.) with "this is that which was prophesied by Joel" (vs. 16-21). Joel also prophesied that "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:" Again this had to have taken place during the time of miracles, which has since ended (1 Cor. 13) so whatever took place is already over.
First Summary Edit
This brings us to the passages we looked at first. I believe the correct interpretation of them is this:
- The sun falling from heaven is the king of the Jews (the highest leader of the nation) being taken out of power.
- The moon not giving light is the high priest (second highest leader of the nation) falling from power.
- The stars falling from heaven are the Sanhedrin Council (other Jewish leaders) falling from power.
- The powers of heaven being shaken is the "shake up" of the government in the area of Palestine.
- The tribes of the earth mourning are the tribes of the Israelite nation. I know of no reference to the word "tribe" that is not a reference to the tribes of Israel in the entire Bible.
- The earth is the place where people dwell under the rule of the figurative heaven as stated above, namely the borders of Palestine.
The Coming of the Son in Clouds of Power Edit
I have written before of the concept of "the coming of God in clouds" and referenced Isa. 19:1 as an example of where this is a phrase meaning judgment. I also referenced "the day of the Lord" as an important phrase. If you read through all the books of prophecy in the OT, you will see this phrase used again and again to refer to some judgment against a nation, usually Israel.
In Matt. 26:64 and Mark 14:62 (which we have referenced in previous posts) Jesus tells the high priest that he, the high priest, would see Jesus come in the clouds of heaven. In passages like Mark 8:38-9:1 Jesus says that there were people standing there in his hearing who would not die until Jesus came with his angels to establish his kingdom with power. Now, unless there are some really old people walking around...
Final Summary Edit
Tie all this together in with the fact that this is before the break in the traditional church of Christ teaching, that is, it is still within the traditional section which refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, and you get that this is a symbolic reference to judgment against the Jews, the final judgment in fact. These symbols have nothing to do with the end of time, the end of the kosmos. I see no reason to interpret them that way and every scriptural reason to interpret them the way I have.
I know this was one of the more...controversial...sections in this discourse. I hope I was able to clearly explain my position.
Sending His Angels with the Sound of the Trumpet Edit
Matt 24:31 - And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Mark 13:27 - And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
Luke 21:28 - And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Luke 21:28's place in the discourse puts it parallel to the other two verses at the first of this post. We see that the gathering of the elect is equated to their redemption, not from sin (for they would already be saved through immersion into Christ) but the cause of Christ, the church would be saved out of the persecutions of the Jews. Remaining consistent with our symbols, the gathering would take place out of the earth (Palestine) and out of heaven (those faithful members of the ruling class like Nicodemus).
What Christ is saying here is that if the Christians are watching for the right signs and heed them, then they will know too and be allowed to flee Jerusalem and the area before Christ destroys Jerusalem, thus ending the persecution of the church by the Jews.
That they could see their redemption draw nigh (near) explains surely that this cannot be about the end of the kosmos because that end will not have any warnings. No one will see it coming. No signs are given for the end of the universe. It will just happen.
This sending of the angels (which is part and parcel of "the coming of the Son of Man") is within the context of the pre-verse-36 destruction of Jerusalem that is the traditional interpretation. This is not to say that I am basing my interpretation solely on tradition. I am merely pointing out this fact to build on what most of you already know and accept to make it easier to understand what I am saying. Those traditions are rightly built on the previous reasons I have given in my posts on this topic so far.
This Generation Shall Not Pass Edit
Matt. 24:34 - Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mark 13:30 - Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
Luke 21:32 - Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
Luke 17:25 - But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
Often those who believe that these passages refer to the end of the world will attempt to say that the word "this" refers to "this generation when all these things will be fulfilled". However, this makes the statement by Christ meaningless in the context. It also makes it a circular argument when trying to prove the point they try to prove.
The word "this" (Grk - houtos) is a pronoun used to indicate a person, thing, idea, etc., as present, near, just mentioned or pointed out. It is contrasted with "that" which indicates things farther off. If Jesus was referring to a generation down the road in which these events would take place, he would have used the word "that" (Grk - ekeinos) as in Heb. 3:10.
Furthermore, Jesus had a lot to say about the generation then living which he often called "this generation". There is no reason for us to apply a completely different meaning given the following verses:
It is very easy to see from these passages and others that Jesus referred to the generation of people living while he spoke rather than some far of generation. Luke 17:25 claims that he, Jesus, must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Now, he suffered many things at the hands of those who were then living. But it is very much a stretch to say that he suffered anything at the hands of following generations while he sat enthroned in heaven...unless one wants to claim that suffering can exist in heaven.
Lastly it must be pointed out that ALL of the things he spoke of, the tribulation, the falling of the stars, the coming of the Son of Man, everything he had said from Matt. 24:4 to Matt. 24:33 would "be fulfilled" would "be done" within the generation he spoke of. So we must conclude that the "coming of the Son of Man" of Matt. 24:30 has already taken place.
Now, we know that the end of the universe has not taken place, because we are still here in it. So this "coming of the Son of Man" must reference some other type of coming that what we traditionally think, that is to say something other than the end of the universe. This point needs to be strongly, strongly established so if you don't understand it, please ask so we can further develop the point.
However, I do not want folks to think I don't believe in the end of the universe and the return of Jesus to take the faithful to heaven at the end of time. I am no Transmillenialist or follower of Max King. I firmly believe it and believe that 1 Thess. 4:13-17 and 1 Cor. 15 are chapters that explicitly concern that event. The only point I am trying to make is that not every time the Bible mentions a "coming" of God or Christ is it a reference to the end of the kosmos. In truth, most of them don't.
I believe the point about the things spoken between Matt. 24:4-35 taking place within the generation of those alive at the time of the Olivet Discourse has been firmly established.
Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Edit
This is the last verse in the traditional first portion of the Olivet discourse. After this, the church teaches (traditionally) that everything else pertains to the end of the universe. After this, what I believe and teach will be different than what most of you have ever heard or considered.
Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33 - Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Taken by itself, this verse seems rather straight forward. The universe will end but Christ's teachings will endure even beyond that.
However, within the context of that already covered this discussion, this interpretation is not correct. As we have discussed, the word heaven in apocalyptic context is the sphere of government influence (sun darkening, stars falling = leaders falling from power) and earth is the people being ruled over (heaven is over the earth). In this particular context, that is to say the context of the fall of Jerusalem, heaven (with sun, moon, and stars) is the king of the Jews, the high priest, and the Sanhedrin Council, and earth represents the Jewish people. Ultimately Jesus is saying here that Judaism was going to end but his teachings, Christianity, would never end.
This same thought is seen in Hebrews 8:13 where the inspired writer of that book writes, "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." The Old Testament was passing away to give way to the new. This is the main message of the book of Hebrews.
More specifically this thought is seen in Matt. 5:18: For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
The law here is the law of Moses. It is the only "the law" in existence when Jesus is speaking his sermon on the mount. So if Jesus is correct, heaven and earth would pass before the Old Testament was no longer in effect. This presents three possibilities:
1. The "heaven and earth" are literal and "the law" (of Moses) is still in effect and it's authority (specifically its prophecies to be fulfilled) will not end until the end of the universe.
2. Jesus was wrong.
3. The "heaven and earth" represent something else which passed away before the total end of the Mosaical law (mainly its prophecies to be fulfilled).
Now, we just read in Hebrews that the Old Testament was ready to pass away (there in the first century). The last prophecies of the Old Testament were those of the end of the Jews for their unfaithfulness to God. When they were destroyed in AD 70 and Judaism was brought to an end, there was no more purpose to the Old Testament (other than for our learning - Romans 15:4); it's authority as a spiritual law was done.
Since this is the case, heaven and earth must have passed away before the last prophecy of the OT was fulfilled. Since we are still here, then it follows that heaven and earth in this passage cannot be literal. If we apply the standard apocalyptic interpretations to the passage, then this statement is Jesus presenting a warning early in his ministry to the Jews of the end of their way of life. Those who read and knew the prophecies of the OT would understand and convert. Those who did not, would have a harder time of it.
That Matt. 24:35 and its parallels teach the passing of the Jewish leaders and Judaism to make way for Christianity I think is not a hard thing to understand in light of the whole picture of scripture.
Some objections get raised about Col. 2:14 and Eph. 2:15 and the nailing of the OT to the cross. I firmly believe that the spiritual authority of the OT ended at the cross. What I am pointing out here is that the physical nation of Judaism which used the OT as a national law still remained. It had no spiritual favor. It's only spiritual import was the last few OT prophecies left unfulfilled (complete revelation of the NT, Judaism destroyed) and its usefulness according to Romans 15:4 and similar passages. At the cross, Christ's teachings became the new spiritual law.
Of That Day and Hour Edit
As I said in my last post on this topic, this is the traditional break in traditional teaching for the churches of Christ, though I do not believe it was the original nor correct teaching. Everything prior to Matt. 24:36 is said to be about the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and everything after and including Matt. 25 and its parallels are about the end of the world. I do know that there are some variances in this, but as far as I know, this covers a majority of the congregations who have not gone off into denominationalism.
Matt. 24:36 - But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Mark 13:32 - But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
First off, we must point out that whatever time these verses are speaking of, no one, not the messengers from heaven, nor even Jesus himself knew when it would be. I believe that the reason that Jesus did not know is because at the time he was speaking, he was still fully human (not yet glorified - John 7:39; 20:17) having made himself "of no reputation" (KJV) or "emptied himself" (ASV) as Paul writes in Phil. 2:7. He had given up a huge portion of his glory and power by coming to earth which is implied by his prayer in John 17:5. Here on this planet, Jesus was not omnipresent, omniscient, nor omnipotent, though he retained his connection and identity as being part of that which is Deity/God.
But this is not the main thrust of this discussion. I believe that this point is not a break in context. "That day" is a phrase that refers back to some specific "day" within the context. What "day" then is mentioned in the context? The previous mention of a time period is the end of the age (Matt. 24:3), the days where they were to pray it was not in winter, or the women pregnant or breast feeding (Matt. 24:19), the days that should be shortened for the elects' sake (Matt. 24:22), and the days when the sun and moon darkened and the stars fall from heaven. The word "day" here is singular, rather than plural as in the rest of the passage because it is speaking of a specific event at that time, just like in verse 38. "Days" (plural) refers to all the time leading up to the specific event, then "day" (singular) refers to the time when the event itself takes place. In this case the fleeing, the tribulation, the rumors, the false prophets all happen during the time (days) leading up to the fall of Jerusalem, then the fall of Jerusalem finally comes (that day).
I mentioned vs. 38 above because we see this same parallel in Noah's time. There were events taking place in the days (plural) leading up to the event, the Flood, then there was the day (the event itself, the Flood) where all the wicked were destroyed.
In short, Jesus is telling his disciples that no one, not the angels, not even He, the Son of God, knew the exact timing of the fulfillment of God's promise to destroy wicked Jerusalem and Judaism. Only God the Father knew.
But contextually, there is no good reason to change from AD 70 to the end of time. Nothing. It is only because we have a prior interpretation given to us and we do not question it that we read that interpretation into this verse, this supposed break in the context.
For the rest of this series on the Olivet Discourse, I plan to show evidence that Jesus has NOT in fact changed subjects.
As the Days of Noah Edit
This will be the first of the major proofs that the second portion of Jesus Olivet Discourse is not about the end of time, but the end of the Jewish Age and the fall of Jerusalem.
Matthew 24:37-41 - But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Luke 17:26-35 - And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
These comments will be broken down into several points because there is a LOT of information here.
1. The coming of the Son of Man is referred to in these passages. Contextually there is no reason to distinguish it from the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:3, 27, & 30; Luke 17:24 which all traditionally refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. Additional verses to refer to (which we may have already gone over so bear with me):
Matt. 16:28; 26:64; Mark 8:38-9:1.
2. The coming of the Son of Man is compared with the days of Noah and the days of Lot. This is a short, and obvious point, but it is one that must be made nonetheless. People who argue for the "end of the universe" position, will eventually end up affirming that the coming of the Son of Man is NOT comparable to the days of Noah and Lot and in fact, just the opposite.
3. In the Days of Noah, the people of the Earth (other than Noah and his family) were eating, drinking, marrying and did not know until the Flood came. This is a reiteration of Matt. 24:36.
But who is ignorant in Noah's day? Was Noah and his family ignorant of the coming destruction in the Flood? No. They were building an ark. They knew very well it was coming.
Who was ignorant in Lot's day? Was Lot ignorant of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gamorrah? No. He was fleeing the city with his wife and daughters when the cities were destroyed.
Who would be ignorant in the day of the coming of the Son of Man? Will the righteous be ignorant of the coming destruction? No. Those righteous in Judea will be fleeing into the mountains (Matt. 24:16-20).
4. Now look at the parallels here where I have bold/underlined in the verses at the first of this post. Matthew writes that WHO was taken away by the Flood in the days of Noah, the wicked or the righteous? I believe it is the wicked who were taken away while the righteous were left behind. The reason for this is because Luke's parallel doesn't use the phrase "taken away". Luke writes that the Flood came and destroyed them all.
This is the most critical point for understanding this passage and the most powerful for properly understanding the whole discourse, which is why it is in a bigger and different font. Because Jesus goes on to talk about people during the days of the coming of the Son of Man. During these days two will be in the field, two others will be in a bed, two women will be grinding at the mill...one shall be taken and the other left. If we are to believe that the "days of the coming of the Son of Man" will be like the "days of Noah" and the "days of Lot" then who is taken and who is left? Or more clearly, who will be destroyed and who will be left? I believe the wicked will be taken/destroyed and the righteous left...just like in Noah's day.
5. And if that is not enough to convince, let us look again at the comparison between Matthew and Luke's accounts. For Matthew, the idea of coming down off the house top or back in from the field to go into your house and grab your things was in the first part, the traditional destruction of Jerusalem. No problem there. But Luke sticks that thought right smack dab in the middle of comparing Noah's and Lot's days to the days of the coming of the Son of Man AND the two being in the bed and two women at the mill. Contextually, there can only be one conclusion. Putting Matthew and Luke together we see that these statements are all within the same context, that of the fall of Jerusalem.
6. Finally, the point must be made that the wicked being taken and the righteous left is directly opposite of what will happen at the end of time. According to 1 Thess. 4:13-17 and 1 Cor 15, both explicitly descriptions about the resurrection and the end of time, the righteous will be taken from the Earth and get to live forever with God in heaven. The wicked will be those "left behind" at that moment just before God sends them into everlasting punishment. Then the Universe will simply cease to exist. This is obviously not the events being described in Matt. 24 and Luke 17...in fact, just the opposite.
So in conclusion to this section, it is clearly not the case that Matt. 24:37-41 and its parallels are about the end of time, but, in context, must be about the destruction of Jerusalem and the events surrounding AD 70.
Watch Therefore Edit
Matt. 24:42-51 - Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mark 13:33-37 - Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Luke 21:34-36 - And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
With that one word the context is set. In the "end of time" interpretation of these passages, the end of time is said to have no signs. I agree that there will be no signs, nor warnings of any kind that the end of time is coming. But there is a contradiction with that interpretation of these passages. In each of these passages, Christ warns his disciples to WATCH.
If there are not signs, what are they watching for...? I understand the idea of "be ready always" for Jesus can return at any time. But "watch"?
Secondly, what is the "all these things" they are to pray that they are worthy to escape? Sounds like many things, not just one. At the end of time, the wicked have one and only one thing to concern themselves with. That is eternal destruction. But if we are to keep this in context, the "all these things" refers back to the calamity earlier in Matthew 24 with the "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be", the fall of stars and the cessation of the sun, the eagles gathering at the carcass, the passing of heaven and earth...all things representing the horrors that Jerusalem would and did face in AD 70.
It is my belief that the command to watch was to watch for signs of these coming events so that no Christian would have to endure the horrible atrocities visited upon the Jews during the siege of Jerusalem. Jesus did not give them the exact time, the day and the hour, but he did give them signs to know of it. What would have happened if Jesus had said "In March of AD 70" (or the equivalent date used at the time) "Jerusalem will be besieged by the Roman army and Judaism will fall in September of AD 70"?
No, the truth is, Jesus presented all manner of signs and warnings and if the faithful Christians were watching for those warning signs, they would have enough time to flee Jerusalem and Judea and completely avoid "all these things". Until then, they could continue to preach the gospel in that land and hope to convert as many of their Jewish kinsmen as they could before that time.
Additionally, the reference to the word earth is a reference to Judea as it has always been in Apocalyptic scripture. If the end of time were a snare (a trap) to all who dwell on planet earth, then that means the God is going to trap both the good and the wicked at the end of time. God certainly is not cruel. He will not "snare" His faithful. Yet, if this is a reference to Judea symbolically represented as "the earth" as I have said, then Judea (the earth) would be a trap for all who live there who did not know of or who did not heed the warnings and flee that land when the Romans came.
It just makes much more sense this way, in this context, that some generic "be faithful always" tacked on at the end of his discourse and repeated over and over again different ways. There is no reason for a chapter and a half concerning "be faithful always" and only half a chapter before that concerning "here are all the signs of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and how horrible it's going to be".
Now, this is not to say that we are not to remain faithful always prepared. But these verses do not teach that point directly. It is a general principle we can draw from this passage and from a host of others. The specific, in-context, message of these verses is "watch for these signs so you know when the siege is about to happen so you can flee into the mountains and avoid all these things."
Parable of the 10 Virgins Edit
Matt. 25:1-13 - Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Here is the parable of the ten virgins, familiar to any in the church. It is usually interpreted to refer to the end of time, but there are some key words in here that I think make that not a correct interpretation just taking this short passage by itself. When thrown in with the other evidence in the surrounding context, it becomes impossible that this parable has anything to do with the end of time other than in very general principle.
It is important to understand that in Biblical times and even up through the dark ages on into the Renaissance era that the way the most weddings worked was that there was the wedding, then the wedding feast (what we call a reception today), then the bridegroom (or simply groom) would take his new wife up to the bed chamber while everyone cheered them on and there he would close the door and "the two would then become one flesh".
In this text, the word "marriage" is the Greek word gamos which is more accurately translated as "wedding feast". In fact if we looked at all the contexts for gamos in scripture, it is always some kind of dinner or feast that is being referred to. The related Greek word ekgamizo is what was used previously in Matt. 24 when talking about the wicked people of Noah's day.
There are two points that make this important in relation to the premise I am writing to support. One is that this "marriage" (gamos) took place at midnight, a strange time to have a wedding (which were usually out doors then), but not so strange for a feast or certainly not the consummation to follow it. The second is that of the warning cry given "behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him!" This is a direct reference to the signs of the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of power to destroy Jerusalem (see previous posts). The wise virgins were given time to "trim their lamps" which I believe is a reference to them seeing the signs and getting out of the city and Judea.
At the end of time, there will be no cry of warning, no sign, no indication whatsoever that Christ is coming. He will simply not be here one moment and here the next. The admonition to watch, here again, is spurious if we are talking about the end of time for there will be nothing to see until it is too late. There will be no time for proverbial virgins to trim their lamps.
Parable of the Talents Edit
Matt. 25:14-30 - For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mark 13:34 - For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
Luke 19:12-27 - He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
These passages tell the story of a man going into a far country to prepare his kingdom. Yet the country he went into was not the kingdom he was to prepare. The kingdom being prepared was the one he left in the hands of his servants!
The story is familiar and there is little need to speak of the talents and the rewards in and of themselves, but there are few things of significance to note in regard to the premise of this argument.
1. The man leaving to a far country is Christ. He is leaving in order to establish a kingdom. At his return, that kingdom would finally be established and he could reign over it. This is the opposite of the end of time where Christ will give up the kingdom to the father (1 Cor. 15:24).
2. The talents/pounds were monetary units. They represented responsibilities in the setting up of the kingdom. Some servants given these responsibilities did much to help establish the kingdom. Some servants did nothing. Some of the citizens of this kingdom being established did not want the ruler to return and rule over them.
3. In Matt 25:19-23 & Luke 19:15-19 the man (Christ) returns to reign over his kingdom and sees the work his servants have done. Those who are faithful he gives rewards to...in form of more responsibilities! In heaven, we will have no such responsibilities, no authority or work to do. Heaven will be rest for us. This cannot be about the end of time.
4. Matt 25:24-30 & Luke 19:20-25 Those who did nothing to help in the establishment of the kingdom, they are removed from the kingdom when the ruler returns to reign. Here, Christ is positioned as judge, but in the end of time, God the Father will be the final Judge and Christ will be the advocate standing before in in defense of faithful Christians. This, again, is a sharp distinction between this passage and the end of time.
5. In Luke 19:27 Christ speaks of his enemies, those citizens who did not want him to reign over them. Who are these, first of all? They are the Jews. They rejected Christ and his kingdom and in AD 70, Christ destroyed them. This would be a moot point at the end of time because Christ will be giving up the kingdom to God. But at the end of the Jewish age (see Heb. 8:13), Christ returned in power and glory to finalize the establishment of His church/kingdom and put down the main enemy of the church, the Jews. This is in keeping with the context of the first half of Matt. 24.
Christ Judges the Nations Edit
Matt. 25:31-46 - When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 6Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
This is the final analysis of the Olivet Discourse. Here, verse 31, we see Christ coming, not to deliver the kingdom to heaven to God as He will at the end of time (1 Cor. 15:24) but to sit and reign! He comes with his angels as we have seen in Matt. 24:31; Mark 8:38-9:1.
Christ will sit in judgment over those who helped establish the kingdom after the Jews, his mortal enemies, have been destroyed. Yet at the end of time, God the Father will be Judge and Christ the advocate. A sharp distinction.
Also please note who is being judged here. It is nations, not individuals! This is a very important point. These nations (them) will be divided, the nations (them) will be judged, the nations (them) will punished or rewarded. The reward is inheriting a kingdom, a new heaven and new earth, which represents a change from the Jewish order of things to a Christian order of things. All the nations of the world could enter a church that was no longer in danger of death and annihilation by persecution from the Jews. After AD 70, Christianity grew rapidly over the whole of the Roman world...i.e., the nations of the world were brought into the kingdom.
It is also important to note that the kingdom is a thing prepared. Things eternal do not change. They cannot be "prepared" because they are already perfect and do not change. One has to argue that heaven, the very presence of God, was changed. If heaven was already perfect, changing it made it other than perfect. If heaven was not perfect, and change was required to make it perfect, what then was wrong with it before the foundation of the kosmos?
Also, one must demand that the kingdom is not the church, which is a contradiction of scripture. The kingdom of Christ is the church. It is a group of people under the rule of our King. These people live on Earth, rest in Hades, and includes the angels in Heaven. Location of this kingdom is irrelevant. But inheriting it happens here on Earth for humans. It is not something we are still waiting to do. I'm in the kingdom of Christ NOW. Christ reigns as my King NOW. We labor, have these responsibilities, and shine forth to the whole universe NOW. At the end of time, we rest, lay down our yokes, and no longer concern ourselves about a universe that no longer exists. (See Matt. 5:5. More on this in a later post.)
These nations that are being judged faithful provided for and protected the church in her time of need. They are rewarded by continued existence in the new order of spiritual things and unrestricted entrance into the church (by this I mean unrestricted based on nationality).
Those nations that are being judged unfaithful are those who did not provide for a protect the church. They are destroyed by fire, a judgment against nations throughout the entirety of scripture. Fire is never used in reference to the end of time and is always used against nations (like the Jewish nation). These nations are destroyed and therefore they are denied entrance into the church (again, refer to the Jewish nation).
This is the end of my by-scripture analysis of the Olivet Discourse. Please feel free to comment on portions you see fit to.
In Truth and Love.