Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Olivet Discourse Part 1

I recommend you read Matthew 23 and 24 for yourself before reading this blog. I think you'll get the best out if you do.

Talk to a preterist about the eschaton and they will invariably take you to the olivet discourse. Talk to a pre-millenailist about preterism and they will go on and on about the words 'generation' and 'world.' The fact is that the olivet discourse is an important text, since Jesus himself is making a prophetic utterance. In addition, the disciples as a very important question.

We begin where Jesus has just left the temple proclaiming seven (or 8) "woes" upon the Pharasees. He has issued them with some harsh judgement and left them with these words: "See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

1Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down."
[Matthew 25]

This happened in CE 70. There is no question in history or in anyone's mind that Jesus is predicting something that happened within a generation (40 years) of here. Take note of a few things:
  1. He is looking down on Jerusalem
  2. He is talking directly to the disciples

No one scholar dares to try and make symbols out of these words. They happened in such a manner that it was fulfilled directly and precisely. It turns out that when Titus sacked Jerusalem in CE 70 the flames roared so fiercely that it melted the gold on the temple. The gold then ran through the cracks of the bricks and when the Roman soldiers came to plunder, had to render each brick separate from another [REF].

3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the [world]?"
[Matthew 24:3]

Huh? What kind of a question is that? I can understand the first part, to ask when these things will be (Matthew 23-here), but to ask when the end of the world will be? Who mentioned the end of the world? The honest answer is no one did. This is where pre-millennialism starts, and it makes me sick. [Tyrell] makes a good point when we look at how an author uses a word, but what is shocking is that most translations do not even translate this word properly.

You notice the square brackets in my quote of the text - academically that is saying I altered the original. I use an English Standard Translation, which actually uses the word "age" for world. Why is that so? Well, the Greek word, 'ahee-ohn' literally means:

"properly an age; by extension perpetuity (also past); by implication the world; specifically (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future): - age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end)"
[Strongs Hebrew and Greek Dictionary]

Well, the definition, in this text, seems to be weighted towards 'age,' but we have to look at how the author uses this word. It's amazing to see that "The devil showed him all the kingdoms of the WORLD" and "you are the light of the WORLD" BOTH use the Greek word kos'-mos, which mean world far more than the current word. However, we have to keep in mind that the other uses of this word in Matthew tend towards 'world' as well.

"And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." [Matthew 12:32]
"and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels." [Matthew 13:39]
"So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous" Matthew 13:49

Every single verse is chock-full of apocalyptic language. It seems that we cannot escape the fact that Matthew has a lot to do with the end. But praise the Lord for cross references. We must be convinced from all scripture.

"Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?" [Mark 13:4]
And they asked him, "Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?"[Luke 21:7]

This is where things get interesting. The gospels of Mark and Luke do not ask when the end of the world / age will be at all. Just when the destruction will take place and the sign of it's accomplishment for Mark, or the sign of the beginnings (Luke). Mark asks "when will it start and HOW will it [the destruction] end?" Luke asks "when will it start and what will that look like?" The disciples are asking here when is it going to start, and how will we know when it is finished. The questions have nothing to do with the age or the world.

So lets compare the prophecies found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Please click on [THIS LINK] to view the table of comparison I constructed.

Notice that they are all very similar, but one things stands out that MUST shout to the believer: Jesus seals EVERY prophecy with the words: "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." So we need to find out what "THIS GENERATION" means and then we have solved the TIMING issue. Then it's a matter or research to discover what the rest means.

I would like to add to this long post that these three texts are equally valid as the next. Where two agree they trump a possible re-definition of the third, where the third is vague. For example, you cannot support a pre-tribulational rapture from comparing these texts. The tribulation clearly comes before any 'rapture' texts. (I'm not sure I agree with rapture theology, today I'm feeling opposed...)


Anonymous said...

Pretrib Rapture - Hidden Facts

How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He is now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. Since Jesus must personally participate in the rapture, and since He can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends, the rapture therefore cannot take place before the end of the trib! Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) (which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening - Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who would be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54)! (Will death be ended before or during the trib?) If anyone wonders how long pretrib rapturism has been taught, he or she can Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards.” Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 it was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen - the height of desperation!). Other Google articles throwing light on long-covered-up facts about the 178-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Revisers of Pretrib Rapture History,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Desperados” and “Deceiving and Being Deceived” - all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” which is available at Armageddon Books online. Just my two cents’ worth.

Quintin said...

Thanks Todd, that's very interesting. At the moment I am questioning all types of stuff, for example the existence of 'the anitchrist.' I wonder if perhaps I have let myself be to easily guided by others in terms of the interpretation of passages, especially Revelation. Thankfully my church is preterist, which means they have a different view to the one I grew up with, so they can at least balance an argument presented by popular Christian culture. But I am not sure I am fully on either side just yet.

God Bless!