Why Open Theism Is Wrong

I wish to preface this critique of Open Theism by stating I have no hostility toward any open theist brethren. I have gained much from the friendship and ministry of some particular brethren who hold to Open Theism. Though we share a love for the Lord Jesus Christ and for holiness, this critique will undoubtedly provoke howls of disagreement from them and others, and likely a slew of rebuttals, including some that I have anticipated and provided preemptive responses to.
The main purpose of this critique is to present a layman’s view against Open Theism and for the orthodox, historical view of God having exhaustive foreknowledge. Of course, detractors will try to marginalize my view because I am a layman, but I would just ask that anyone looking at my position do so on the basis of its own merits, the evidence from the scriptures that I present. I would also ask that before someone comments, that they read my entire presentation.
After researching Open Theism more, I have come to the conclusion that Open Theism needs to be debunked…and it is easy to do so. And the orthodox, historical view needs to be affirmed, and it is easy to do so. I have an interest in history, prophecy and interpreting the bible from multiple interpretive lenses. I immediately recognized that Open Theism is an assault on the historical tenet of God’s immutability and exhaustive foreknowledge that the ecclesia has historically held to. I am hoping that my position will inspire discussion and careful consideration of both sides of this issue.
Defining Open Theism
Open Theism is an attempt to reconcile God’s sovereignty with our free will. It is an extreme position that, if it were true, has serious implications for the Christian faith, who God is, His attributes and how He relates to us and we to Him. It also has significant implications for how we communicate who God is to others. Open theists claim that God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge and that the future is ‘open’, not fixed. The implications of this are very serious. God’s will might be accomplished, or it might not. It just depends on what man chooses to do. God stays in the background, hoping that we choose to do what’s right and occasionally, interacting with His creation to ‘tweak’ things His way.
Open theists claim God knows everything that can be known, but this does not include a certain future. Thus, the future is ‘open’ in that it could be realized in any number of possible scenarios, based on our free will made choices. The open theist believes that based on what God knows of the present, He just guesses about the future. Some of His guesses are accurate, some are not. Sometimes He discovers things to happen as they happen. Open theists claim God changes prophecy when needed too. Open theists claim biblical support for their position by citing scriptures that purport to show God changing His mind (Exodus 32:14), being surprised (Isaiah 5:3–7), and testing people to see what they will do (Genesis 22:12). They are ready to cite many scriptures and then declare that those scriptures are teaching or demonstrating Open Theism.
 
Tactics By Open Theists
In an effort to win people over to Open Theism, some open theists may try to ‘flood’ a person with an abundance of scripture citations. Since most people are unprepared or unable to adequately research a multitude of scripture citations, the open theist will feel vindicated and that his position is untouchable when no refutation of open theism comes forth. When someone comes along who is critical of Open Theism, open theists may claim that such detractors are “not knowledgeable about Open Theism”, that they “just don’t understand” and they “should read this book or that book by such and such open theist author”. This seems more like a symptom of cultish brainwashing than a reasoned, scriptural defense of Open Theism.
Muslims often (and mistakenly) claim that the Quran is the perfect word of Allah. So, all one has to do is show one error, and their claim is shown to be false. Like with Muslims, all I need to do is show at least one instance that God has exhaustive foreknowledge to prove Open Theism is false and the orthodox position of God having exhaustive foreknowledge is true. In this presentation, I will present many. I believe that by the time you finish reading this critique, barring any philosophical bias or a priori commitment to Open Theism, you will be convinced that Open Theism does not have the support from the scriptures that open theists believe it does and is in fact, false.
Appeal To History (argumentum ad antiquatum)
Open theists will claim that their view is anchored in ancient history, but so is Gnosticism, Docetism, Arianism, Marcionism, Platonism, Epicureanism, and other ancient heresies and philosophies. Greg Boyd, a popularizer of Open Theism, admits….
““Until the time of the Socinians, the belief that God’s omniscience included all future events was not generally questioned.”
Source: Gregory A. Boyd, Trinity and Process: A Critical Evaluation and Reconstruction of Hartshorne’s Di-Polar Theism Towards a Trinitarian Metaphysics (New York: Peter Long Publishing, Inc. 1992), 296-297
Socicianism was a 16th century heresy started by Fausto Socinus. Among other things, Socicianism denied the trinity, the deity of Christ and the substitutionary atonement. Socinus’ heresy eventually became what is known today as Unitarianism….not the best source for commentary on biblical truth. Regarding God’s omniscience, Socinus said…
“Since, then, there is not reason, no passage of Scripture, from which it can be clearly gathered that God knew all things which happened before they happened, we must conclude that we are by no means to assent such a foreknowledge of God….”
Source: Praelectionis Theologicae 11 (1627); 38, as quoted by Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (reprint; Phillipsburg, NJ.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992)
Such a view is eerily similar to that of Open Theism, which postulates that God can be influenced by what He learns about the choices men make and therefore has no knowledge of a certain future. Though open theists claim the concept of God’s foreknowledge in Christian thought is based on Greek philosophy, Open Theism itself is no less philosophically-based for the sole reason that it is not taught anywhere in the bible as a doctrine.
Along with Greg Boyd’s published works, a major portion of his internet web site, Christus Victor Ministries, is dedicated to the philosophical support of Open Theism. This is not to say that open theists do not postulate biblical support for Open Theism, which they do, but those passages depend on strictly surface readings of the text. This will be demonstrated later in this presentation. When the claims and tactics of Open Theism are peeled back and exposed, it is clearly promoted by a few surface readings of selected scriptures, and then a mountain of philosophical interpretation and conjecture.
On the accusation of the orthodox view having its source in Greek philosophy, Carl Henry wrote….
“The fact is, however, that the Hebrew-Christian belief in God’s immutability arose independently of Greek philosophy; it stemmed from revelational sources rather than from speculative conjecture.”
Source: Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority V.1 (Waco: Word Books, 1982), 286.
For the historical, orthodox understanding that God has exhaustive foreknowledge (that the future is certain and that God knows the future), one only needs to look to the Old Testament to discover that over a thousand years before Fausto Socinus, and hundreds of years before Greek philosophy, exhaustive foreknowledge was assumed in ancient Judaism. For example,
(Isa 40:13) Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him?
(Isa 40:14) With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?
These rhetorical questions raised by Isaiah clearly show that nobody can teach God something He doesn’t already know. In other words, and contrary to Open Theism, God has never learned anything from anyone. God knows all things, from the beginning to the end….
(Isaiah 46:9) “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”
Not only does God know the end from the beginning, but He is certain that His purposes will be established and His will accomplished. Open Theists will of course object, and claim that Isaiah 46:9 is describing God’s omnipotence, and it is, in its latter portion. But it is describing what God knows in the former portion, that being….’the end from the beginning’.
God already knows what man would do in all possible futures, including what He will do in the actual future. This is a form of ‘middle knowledge’, a Molinist concept. This knowledge in no way causes anyone to do what they choose to do, for it just says what they would freely do, not what they must do. God knows all that could happen in all circumstances, so nothing is a surprise to Him. Man is therefore the cause of his own actions, and man’s choices affirm what God has known to be true for all eternity.
 
Molinism affirms that God has knowledge of what would be if other possible contingencies were realized. For example, God knew that the city of Keilah would betray David to King Saul if David remained in that vicinity (1 Samuel 23:4-12). God demonstrates ‘middle knowledge’ of a possible future in…
(1Sa 23:12) Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.”
David then departed Keilah before this would happen, and went to the wilderness of Ziph. David actualized a different future than the one what God warned him about.
 
Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus knew that the cities of Tyre and Sidon would have repented and been spared if they had seen the miracles that He did elsewhere. This is another example of God having ‘middle knowledge’.
Jesus knew the judgment against the places that had seen His miracles would be more severe than for the places that had not. Demonstrating ‘middle knowledge’ in describing Chorazin and Bethsaida’s possible futures, Jesus says in Matthew 11:21-23 …
(Mat 11:21-23) Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For IF the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
And demonstrating His exhaustive foreknowledge (knowledge of the actual future), Jesus said….
(Mat 11:22) “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.
Exhaustive foreknowledge again in….
(Mat 11:23) “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades;
…. For if (middle knowledge, possible future) the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day..
In this example, we see Jesus demonstrating both ‘middle knowledge’ (knowledge of possible future outcomes) and exhaustive foreknowledge (knowledge of what is the actual future outcome).
Another example of ‘middle knowledge’…. In the exchange between the rich man in Hades and Abraham, the rich man makes a prediction that Abraham corrects with middle knowledge.
(Luk 16:30) “But he [the rich man] said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’
The rich man claims that if someone (Lazarus?) goes to the rich man’s family and warns them, that they will repent and thus, be spared the torment the rich man was experiencing. Jesus narrates Abraham’s answer with a statement affirming ‘middle knowledge’ when he replies…
(Luk 16:31) “But he [Abraham] said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Jesse Morrell in an online article on his ‘OpenAirOutreach’ website said in his comments after his 2016 debate with Calvinist Matt Slick…
“…God expresses great brokenness of heart over the abundance of man’s sin, as if things could have been differently”
I would have to agree with Jesse on this point. God definitely knew things could be different. If there wasn’t some other possible future to know, then God would not have known that men could have made different choices. So we see from at least four examples that God knows more than just the past and present. He also knows the future, and other, possible futures.
Is God culpable for evil?
Open theists seem motivated by a goal of coming to God’s rescue, or ‘getting God off the hook’ as it were, for all the evil He could have prevented. This may be in part a response to hyper-Calvinism’s sovereign view of God, which implicates God as being the author of evil. But one doesn’t have to be a Calvinist to see that Open Theism is just as philosophically unsatisfactory as Calvinism. Nor does one have to resort to the extreme of Open Theism to know that God is not culpable for man’s choice to do evil. For it is easily shown that the open theist’s rationale for defending God is unfounded in both the scriptures and logic.
It is logically inconsistent to consider that God could be culpable of evil. God is by definition, good, so what He does is good. If a good God allows evil to occur, it is because He has a morally sufficient reason to allow it to occur. The accusation of culpability is thus a betrayal of the word of God and a departure from logic, for we know from the scriptures that God is good.
(Psa 136:1) Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
and that everything God created is good
(1Ti 4:4) For everything created by God is good……”
and that man is created good…
(Ecc 7:29 ESV) See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.
apostle Paul teaches that man is…
(1Co 11:7 KJV) ….the image and glory of God…..
Since God is good, it follows that what a good God allows sinful men to freely choose is morally justifiable and thus, does not make Him culpable for the evil that may result from man’s freely made choices. A good God will always have morally sufficiently reasons for allowing certain evil to exist, especially if it is in a world that He knows His purposes will be accomplished. We don’t need to know, nor is God obligated to tell us what those purposes are.
(Isa 55:9) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
The open theist will try to make a God with exhaustive foreknowledge culpable, but this fails when the argument is turned back on the open theist. For example, open theists will try to implicate the God with exhaustive foreknowledge for allowing Hitler to murder 6 million innocent men, women and children (forgetting that a good God cannot do evil, so it’s impossible for God to be culpable, but we’ll look past this for now).
But the open theist God would be equally culpable. He would have had thousands of years of background knowledge (observations of human interaction) and sufficient insight into the human character to recognize Adolf Hitler as a potential murderous dictator and intervene before he came to power. Obviously, the open theist God did not intervene, and history has recorded Hitler’s regime being responsible for the murder of over six million innocent Jewish men, women and children. Using the open theists own reasoning, the open theist God would be just as culpable for not preventing Hitler from coming to power as the God with exhaustive foreknowledge.
The argument for culpability is in my opinion, little more than an appeal to emotion at this point. It does not comport with God’s a priori quality of being necessarily good and thus, unable to be culpable for evil. If it’s not Hitler, then open theists will use other emotionally charged examples (like abortions, war, rapes etc etc). Let’s not stop there! Would a God who has exhaustive foreknowledge be responsible for the starvation of children in Africa too? The 270 million who have died untimely deaths at the hands of Muslims? How about the fish that die from ‘red tide’ bacteria? Is the God with exhaustive foreknowledge responsible for the pain and suffering experienced by the ant that the open theist may have stepped on?
The claim of God being culpable of evil in any theodicy outside of Open Theism would be a very serious charge, since only an evil god could be culpable of evil. But the bible clearly shows that God is good and has exhaustive foreknowledge. So, it follows that the open theist who resorts to this type of reasoning is calling a good God evil. That should be a cause for concern for anyone who is considering adopting Open Theism. Rather than adopt an unorthodox and blasphemous philosophy that makes God out to be evil, bumbling, ignorant and indecisive, the more reasonable view is to consider that out of all possible worlds, God realized a world where His greater purposes would be actualized through the freely made choices of His creations who often do evil. Instead of trying to judge God by man’s finite standards and form a philosophy that “gets Him off the hook” (as if He is guilty of wrongdoing), it’s better to accept God as He is, a good God who for His own morally sufficient reasons, allows evil to occur.
 
An Examination Of Some Texts Open Theists Use
The scriptures have been explained for over a thousand years. We simply do not need a new, unorthodox philosophy of man to declare the rather arrogant presumption of how little God knows. But for purposes of exposing the poor exegesis and faulty reasoning open theists employ to defend their position, we will examine some of their key texts.
Two of the primary texts open theists use to suggest God doesn’t know the future and learns about it from His creations is Gen 22:12 (God discovering Abraham really does fear Him) and Deuteronomy 8:2 (God testing Israel).
(Gen 22:12) He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for NOW I KNOW that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
Open theists readily admit that God knows all things that can be known, which (to them) are all logical and truth propositions that are in the past and present. But the bible says….
(1Ch 28:9 ESV) “….for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. ….”
Since Open Theism says that God knows all things about the present, then God would have known the intention, plan and thoughts of Abraham, that Abraham would follow through with killing Isaac even before he raised the knife to do it. Indeed, God would have known that Abraham believed God would resurrect Isaac from the dead and both would ‘return’ to Abraham’s young men (caps mine for emphasis).
(Gen 22:5) Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship AND RETURN TO YOU.”
God would have known that Abraham believed he would return to his young men, so it would not have been a surprise that Abraham obeyed God and demonstrated His fear of and obedience to God. Since we know that God knew what Abraham would do, the claim of “….now I know….” was not said to illustrate that God did not know that Abraham feared Him. It was idiom, for Abraham’s benefit. It was meant to convey acknowledgement of Abraham’s act of faith and that his obedience would be rewarded. With this understanding, Open Theism is thus defeated by one of its primary proof texts, which end up showing that God didn’t really learn something He did not already know.
Open theists will often read open theism into a text. Open theists believe that Deut 8:2 shows God testing the Israelites because He didn’t know if they would obey Him or not.
(Deu 8:2) “You shall REMEMBER all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
But the next verse explains more about the purpose of the testing.
(Deu 8:3) “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which YOU DID NOT KNOW, nor did your fathers know, that He might MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
Upon further examination of the surrounding context, it’s clear that the testing wasn’t to reveal to God whether the Israelites would obey or not. It was for the Israelites to know and remember that they can and should depend on God.
Two of the primary texts open theists use to suggest that God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge is Gen 6:7 (God’s regret for making mankind), and 1 Sam 15:11, 15 (God’s regret for appointing Saul). Beginning with Genesis…
(Gen 6:7) The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”
Was this new information for God, as open theists claim? No. God knew from ‘before the foundation of the world’ that many would not have their name written in the book of life (Rev 13:8), which prefigures a future need for a Savior and the reason why the names of some would be in the book of life but not others.
“And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (Revelation 13:8)
God is therefore not discovering for the first time that mankind needs a plan of redemption and a Savior. This cannot get any clearer than from the book of Hebrews…
(Heb 4:3) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
God knew the works of Jesus, including His redemptive work ‘from the foundation of the world’, from before time began. God also knew who His Son would be.
(1Pe 1:20) For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
Also…
(Rev 14:6) And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
Rev 14:6 clearly shows that there is an ‘eternal gospel’ that includes the need to fear God. The ‘eternal gospel’ is the gospel that is known from eternity past, which means God utilized exhaustive foreknowledge of a future that had not happened yet, to know man’s moral and spiritual state would be so fallen that it would require a plan of salvation and that a gospel would be provided.
Additionally, God is free to regret the outcome of His actions, even if He foreknows them. The assumption that God should not have any regrets in a world He creates is tantamount to believing that God should not have made a world where both good and evil co-exist. But without a world where good and evil co-exist, man is not free to choose. So we should expect a holy God to have a broken heart every time somebody sins against Him, even if He knew in advance it would happen.
On a positive note, God knew from ‘before the foundation of the world’ that mankind would need a Savior. He also knew that on account of His making man, and man’s subsequent choice to sin, that others will end up repenting, and knowing Him in a conditional relationship that in some cases would endure forever
Another example open theists try to use to suggest that since God was unaware of future actions on account of expressing regret, is from 1 Samuel.
(1 Sa 15:11) “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not carried out My commands.”
(1 Sa 15:35) Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
Was God’s regretting the appointment of Saul an evidence that He was unaware Saul would be a disaster? Was God unaware of the evil Saul would commit? Of course not. God knew Saul would be an evil leader long before He chose Him. Back in Deuteronomy 17:14, God foreknew that a rebellious people would later demand a king.
(Deu 17:14) “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’
Now eight chapters into 1 Samuel, the people are seen rejecting God and demanding a leader (1 Sam 8:7).
God warns them their choice will be the appointment of a king who would later prove to be very troubled. God even listed some of his abuses of power (1 Sam 8:11-17). For example, taking people for servants and workers, taking lands that previously belonged to the people while living a life of indulgence and comfort, taking a tithe from privately owned vineyards, a tithe of privately owned animals and that the people would become his servants. Though normal for kings of that time and culture, these royal privileges would be burdensome to a people unaccustomed to them. God then tells them what their response to this king will be, once he was appointed.
(1Sa 8:18) “Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
God had exhaustive foreknowledge of the people rejecting Him and seeking a man to be their king. He also foreknew many of Saul’s abuses and even the people’s response to Saul, clearly showing that God can foreknow something He would do and also regret. Incidentally, this is the same chapter that clearly, unambiguously, declares that God does NOT change His mind.
(1Sam 15:29) And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind
Why would God foreknow something that would come to pass, but show regret about it? For a greater good. Here, God foreknew that His plan of salvation would later be actualized in part through an evil man (Saul) and his relationship with David, who would go on to write the Psalms, which includes prophecies about Jesus, the future Savior. Jesus being part of God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge is clearly stated in…
(Act 2:23) this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
…a salvation that was known from all eternity…
(2Tim 1:9) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity
Evidently, open theists are content to read open theism into selected verses, and after a mere surface reading of the text, conclude that God doesn’t have exhaustive foreknowledge. However, if we widen the context a bit and take into consideration other scriptures, it is clearly seen that scriptures open theists often use to promote Open Theism actually point to God having exhaustive foreknowledge.
Three primary texts open theists use to suggest God ‘repents’ or ‘changes His mind’ are Jonah 3:9-10 (God’s repentance occasioned by Nineveh’s repentance), Isaiah 38:1-8 (God’s adding fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life) and Exodus 32:14 (God repents, or changes His mind about the harm He will do to His people). Let’s begin with Jonah 3:9-10.
(Jon 3:9) Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
(Jon 3:10) When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
Open Theism critic Bruce Ware comments….
“God’s secret intention was to show mercy to Nineveh (which Jonah suspected) and God accomplished this intention exactly as he had purposed, but he accomplished it through Jonah’s warning of the Ninevites and the repentance that the warning elicited”
Source: Ware, Lesser Glory, p. 94.
In other words, God knew that a simple warning (through Jonah) would be sufficient to cause the Nineveh to repent. From the people’s perspective, God was ‘changing His mind’. From God’s perspective, He knew all along they would repent. His purposes were achieved through a perceived ‘threat’. The idea of God ‘repenting’ is simply a figure of speech, an anthropomorphism, whereby God comes to us and condescends to speak in our language. It is in the same way we read of God’s hands, His nostrils, or even His feathers. God does not have these physical characteristics. Neither does He repent. Likewise, Jesus is not a real Lamb, a real door or a real piece of bread. He also does not really repent, or change His mind.
 
Another example that open theists use that ends up backfiring on Open Theism is from Isaiah 38 (and 2 Kings 20:1-6), we read….
(Isa 38:1) In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’”
(Isa 38:5) “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.
Open theists will claim that God ‘changed His mind’ or ‘reversed the prophecy’ as evidence that we do not have a fixed, certain future. Hezekiah would have understood this to mean that he would die relatively soon, which explains his sorrowful prayer to God in Isaiah 38:3 (and 2 Kings 20:3). But this whole story is simply an example of God’s foreknowledge, since God was very specific about the number of years He would grant Hezekiah (fifteen). This is of course, consistent with what other scriptures have to say about God’s foreknowledge of the lifespans of men and where they would live.
(Act 17:26) and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,
 
In this scenario, God was using the prospect of Hezekiah dying soon as a way to elicit a stronger, more fervent prayer out of him. This was for Hezekiah’s sake, so that he would know God is faithful and answers prayers. God then demonstrated it immediately for Hezekiah, by causing the shadow on the stairway of Ahaz to go backwards seven steps (2 Kings 20:11). God knew what Hezekiah would pray, because He knows all of our prayers before we even pray them.
(Mat 6:8) “…… for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Open Theism critic Bruce Ware comments…
“Is it not entirely conceivable that God’s purpose behind these words was in fact to elicit from him such earnest, heartfelt dependence on God in prayer? … God granted to Hezekiah fifteen years of extended life – not two, not twenty, and certainly not, “we’ll both see how long you live,” but fifteen years exactly. Does it not seem a bit odd that this favorite text of open theists, which purportedly demonstrates that God does not know the future and so changes his mind when Hezekiah prays, also shows that God knows precisely and exactly how much longer Hezekiah will live? On openness grounds, how could God know this? Over a fifteen-year time span, the contingencies are staggering! The number of future freewill choices, made by Hezekiah and innumerable others, that relate directly to Hezekiah’s life and well being, none of which God knows (in the openness view) is enormous.”
Source: Ware, Lesser Glory, pp. 95-96
Another example that open theists may use…..
(Exo 32:14 KJV) And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
This was not God actually ‘changing His mind’ (or planning evil), for we know that….
(Num 23:19)….God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Rather, God can have certain intentions and issue decrees in the form of threats in order to cause human beings to, from their perspective, freely choose the right course of action that achieves His foreknown purposes. These decrees are to show intention for man’s benefit. From the perspective of an ancient Israelite, it is as if God is ‘changing His mind’, but from God’s perspective, His eternal will and foreknown purposes are being achieved through the freely made decisions of men.
Additionally, scriptures that open theists use to suggest that God ‘changes His mind’ are easily debunked by scriptures that explicitly say that God does NOT change His mind. For example….
(Jer 4:28 NASB) “For this the earth shall mourn And the heavens above be dark, Because I have spoken, I have purposed, And I will not change My mind, nor will I turn from it.”
And…
(Eze 24:14 KJV) I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD.
 
We could, I suppose, continue debunking each and every verse that open theists read Open Theism into, but this writer believes these few are sufficient to demonstrate that Open Theism is the result of simplistic, surface readings of the text. We will now turn to some good examples proving God’s exhaustive foreknowledge, that there is a certain future and that God knows what that future is.
Examples of God’s Exhaustive Foreknowledge
Open Theism only grants that there are propositions in the future, but not that they are true. The examples that follow from the scriptures clearly prove that there are true propositions in the future that are known by God before they happen, which is evidence that God does have exhaustive foreknowledge, proving Open Theism to be false.
For example, God knows what the Psalmist will say even before he says it.
(Psalm 139:4) “Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, oh Lord thou knowest it altogether.”
Verse 16 shows that the Psalmist’s entire life is known even before he is born.
(Psa 139:16) Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
Open theists will play down this verse’s application toward exhaustive foreknowledge, claiming that it is ‘just metaphorical’ or other such excuses, but truths about God can be extrapolated from metaphorical descriptions of His character or abilities.
Other Old Testament passages affirm God’s exhaustive foreknowledge of the future…. such as Isaiah 5:1-7; 1 Chronicles 5:26; 2 Chronicles 21:16-17; Proverbs 21:1; Isaiah 44:23; Daniel 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. Notably, if God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge, then how could Jesus have described in detail the events leading up to and surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later? (Mat 24:3-28) How could He have predicted His resurrection (Luke 18:32) and events pertaining to His future return from heaven (Mat 24:29-31)?
(Joh 14:3) “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
 
Jesus demonstrated exhaustive foreknowledge when He told Peter that he would deny Him exactly three times and that even a rooster would crow. On the open theist view, Jesus was guessing, even that a rooster would crow.
(Joh 13:38) Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.
Jesus demonstrated exhaustive foreknowledge when He made known His awareness of Judas’ soon betrayal, and it happened as both He and the Old Testament predicted.
(Joh 13:18) “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’
(Joh 13:19) “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.
(Joh 6:64) “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew FROM THE BEGINNING who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.
(Joh 6:70) Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”
Judas’ betrayal was actually prophesied in the Old Testament, and fulfilled to the letter.
(Psa 41:9) Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.
Open theists would play down the significance of the prophesy, and limit it to the category of ‘parallel prophecy’ as a way to lessen its application as exhaustive foreknowledge. Instead, Psalm 41:9 is an example of ‘dual predictive prophecy’, a prophecy that has applications in two future time periods or contexts.
Other notable dual predictive prophecies are…Joel 2:28 having its secondary fulfillment in Acts 2:14-21. Miraculous manifestations of God’s power through the Holy Spirit did indeed occur then (verses 1-13). But these were only the first fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. The ultimate fulfillment will come at the time of the end and will involve, among other things, the gathering of the nations in judgement.
There is also John 19:37, which is a partial fulfillment (where Jews were not repentant), and Zechariah 12:10, which has an future fulfillment (when they will be repentant). John 19:37 only quotes half of Zechariah 12:10. The other half is what was missing when they pierced Him. Their sorrow and repentance to belief.
(Zec 12:10) …..and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
Jews did not do this then. According to Zec 12:10, they will when Jesus returns. Rev 1:7 confirms that this will be literally fulfilled in the future, clearly showing exhaustive foreknowledge in dual predictive prophecy.
(Rev 1:7) BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
The list of dual predictive prophecies continues… Messianic prophecies in the Psalms, which applied to David’s life as well as foretold of the Messiah. Isaiah 28:11 speaks of the Babylonian Conquest of the Holy Land, yet Paul uses it to describe Pentecost with the same type of judgment from the Romans (1 Corinthians 14:21). Psalm 2:7 speaks of David, yet at the same time looks forward to future fulfillment in the Son of God, Jesus.
In Acts 2:23, the apostle Peter attributes the death of Christ to the “predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.”
(Act 2:23) this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Peter even describes the human agency employed to commit the act by saying, “you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”. In other words, God knew that godless men would nail Jesus to a cross long before it actually happened.
The implications of this passage do severe damage to the proposals of open theists. According to the apostle Peter, God not only knew the future, but He brought about His predestined plan using the so-called freewill actions of men.
The same can be said for Acts 4:27-28 which says…
“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur”.
This passage clearly implies that God placed in Jerusalem those whom He wanted there so that they could play a part in the execution of His Son. This was what God’s “hand and purpose had predestined to occur.” One must conclude from this passage that God knew about it prior to it actually happening. One can only begin to imagine how many freewill choices were involved in the unfolding of this occasion, choices that God was aware of and planned for, both occurring at the same time.
In Acts 17:22-31, the apostle Paul clearly states that God “determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitations,” for the express purpose that men would “seek Him.”
Additionally, in this passage, Paul indicates that God has “fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, through a man whom He has appointed.”
In other words, God determined the appointed times of men, the boundaries of their habitations, and He has predetermined and knows exactly the day in which He will judge the world through Christ, His appointed Man. There can be no doubt from these passages that God not only knows the future, but has predetermined its outcomes through the freely made choices He knew men would make.
Five verses that clearly demonstrate God’s exhaustive foreknowledge and that have particular relevance to the gospel and salvation.
(1Pe 1:20) For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
Jesus was known ‘before the foundation of the world’. In other words, God knew the man Jesus would appear at a particular time.
(Eph 1:4) just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
God chose those who in His exhaustive foreknowledge, He knew would freely choose Him and that they would live holy and blameless lives, in love. God knew from His perspective. At some point in our lives, we chose Him from our perspective and lived holy and blameless before Him, in love.
(2Ti 1:8) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
(2Ti 1:9) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,
Open theists would have us believe that God didn’t have any redemptive purpose, that things just unfolded and He learned about them and created a narrative to explain it after-the-fact. But the bible text clearly shows that God’s redemptive purpose was planned ‘from all eternity’, clearly debunking the open theist philosophy.
 
(Rev 13:8) All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
This verse is also very problematic for open theists. From it, we can see that God knows who will worship the ‘beast’ and those who have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life. Those names were written in the book ‘from the foundation of the world’, meaning, before time in our dimensional realm began. God must have exhaustive foreknowledge if He knows which names will remain in the book of life.
The scriptures above demonstrate that the redemptive death of Christ as atonement for sin was known and incorporated in the plan of God before time began. No textual or grammatical ambiguities mitigate this conclusion. The very least that can be said of these passages is that provision for salvation from sin was taken into account, as settled fact, before the foundation of the world, and that this provision centered in Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God.
As if it could not get any clearer, the bible plainly describes the redemptive plan of God as a result of His foreknowledge (caps mine for emphasis).
(Act 2:23) this Man, delivered over by the PREDETERMINED PLAN AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
With Open Theism, these foundational passages would take on new meaning. No longer would God’s redemptive plan be planned from before time began, but would have been a last minute decision based on His observations of the freely made decisions of man. In other words, God got lucky and the crucifixion was accomplished solely by man’s free will choices.
Open Theism is especially vulnerable, given that it requires that God not foreknow the morally free acts of his creatures, especially the fall of man. The passages we have examined, however, make clear that before he created the first humans, God both knew about our sins and knew his Son as our Redeemer by virtue of his death on the cross, clearly demonstrating exhaustive foreknowledge.
But if God’s redemptive plan was known from before the foundation of the world and Open Theism is correct, then this has serious implications for our understanding of salvation. For example; The open theist Jesus did not know for whom He was dying or for what sins He was suffering for. The God of Open Theism did not even know two thousand years ago who would exist since our existence depends on a multitude of free will choices of which a God who has no definite foreknowledge must be ignorant.
The open theist’s God, because He does not know propositions of the future that are true, would not have known that any of us would even be born. He would not have known the sins we would commit. He would also not know whom He would know. So, when the open theist Jesus says something like, “I know my sheep” (John 10:14), he must be referring to the disciples of his time, not us today.
The implications of this for the church, evangelism and salvation are staggering. Open theist critic Bruce Ware says…
Not only would it be impossible for [the open theist] God to know whether and who would come to exist in the future (so that he could not actually substitute for them in his death), in addition, God would also be clueless regarding what sin(s) would be committed in the future. Therefore, there could be no actual imputation of our sin to Christ … In fact, Christ would have had reason to wonder, as he hung on that cross, whether for any, or for how many, and for what sins, he was now giving his life. The sin paid for could only be sin in principle, and not sin by imputation, and the people died for was a blurry, impersonal, faceless, nameless, and numberless potential grouping.
SOURCE: Ware, Beyond the Bounds, p. 333
Despite the claims of open theists with a few scriptures read on a surface level, it seems clear from the scriptures that God’s foreknowledge extends to the future and that it is exhaustive in its scope, that it is consistent with logic and the more reasonable philosophical view that answers more questions instead of creating more problems. Indeed, the bible affirms that God knows every word before it is spoken (Psalm 139:4), the ordained number of days we have to live (Psalm 139:16), and the rise and fall of nations, governments, and alliances (Dan 2:1-49). He even foreknows people by name a century and a half before they are born (Cyrus).
(Isa 44:28) “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”
Approximately 150 years later, a man named Cyrus became king of Persia and decreed the rebuilding of the temple (Ezr 1:1-2, 6:3).
There is simply too much scriptural evidence showing God’s exhaustive foreknowledge to entertain the unreasonable interpretations of the scriptures that would at first glance appear to support Open Theism. Based on demonstrably poor exegesis, Open Theism is simplistic and irresponsible. Some may go farther and consider a God that ‘changes his mind’ to be heretical and representing a different god. For the bible says…
(Num 23:19)….God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
So, what could an open theist tell someone about his god? He could tell others that the open theist God is indecisive. He changes prophecy as needed. He changes His mind as new information from within His creation becomes evident (as if he is locked into our temporal realm). He doesn’t know the future. He’s surprised by what we do and that He learns from His human creations. That’s not a very impressive God. In fact, that is a God with very human limitations.
Open theists will plaintively plead…. “But, you just don’t understand Open Theism” or “You have improperly defined terms” or “You haven’t read a single book by Greg Boyd”…the excuses are numerous ad nauseum. Others can intelligently describe Open Theism, along with arguments against it. One does not need to become a Greg Boyd groupie, or an open theist to understand what Open Theism is and why it’s wrong.
Judging from the poor responses I have seen, the fallacious types of reasoning being employed to defend Open Theism and the constant quoting from Greg Boyd instead of the scriptures, Open Theism just looks like a warmed over heresy. I am very disappointed in the current trend of many who have readily adopted this unorthodox philosophy, one that is so easily debunked by both the scriptures and logic.
Finally, the God of the bible uses foreknowledge as a criterion for establishing authentic diety. From Isaiah 41, we see God challenging the nations to bring forth their idols and demonstrate foreknowledge as a test (caps mine for emphasis)…
(Isa 41:21) “Present your case,” the LORD says. “Bring forward your strong arguments,” The King of Jacob says.
(Isa 41:22) Let them bring forth and declare to us WHAT IS GOING TO TAKE PLACE. As for THE FORMER EVENTS, declare what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce to us WHAT IS COMING;
(Isa 41:23) Declare the things that are GOING TO COME AFTERWARD, That we may know that you are gods; Indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together.
God possesses foreknowledge and the idols do not. God has a very serious warning for anyone who choose any idol (or god) that that does not have foreknowledge.
(Isa 41:24) Behold, you are of no account, And your work amounts to nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.
God calls anyone who chooses a [false] god that does not know the future an abomination. This should be a sobering message to open theists, who eagerly promote the idea that God does not know the future.
Molinism: The Reasonable Alternative
The Molinist is comfortably situated between Calvinism and Arminianism, in that God calls, elects and predestines from His perspective, while we choose, repent and believe from our perspective. Molinism is also useful in explaining the formation of the canon of scripture…God breathed yet man selected. Molinism provides a satisfactory theodicy. Christian philosopher William Lane Craig says…
“Under it, God retains a measure of divine providence without hindering humanity’s freedom. Because God has middle knowledge, He knows what an agent would freely do in a particular situation. So, agent A, if placed in circumstance C, would freely choose option X over option Y. Thus, if God wanted to accomplish X, all God would do is, using his middle knowledge, actualize the world in which A was placed in C, and A would freely choose X. God retains an element of providence without nullifying A’s choice and God’s purpose (the actualization of X) is fulfilled.”
Unlike Open Theism, Molinism doesn’t make God out to be a bumbling, indecisive, ignorant Creator of the universe who learns from His creations. Unlike Open Theism, which damages the understanding of the purposes of God toward our salvation, Molinism preserves these essential truths just as the bible describes them.
The open theist God doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the future, seems indecisive and changes His mind as new information from within His creation becomes evident. Aside from seeming characteristically human, this suggests that the open theist god is locked into our temporal world. How can the Creator of the universe be limited by His creation?
A God with foreknowledge exists from an extra-dimensional perspective that is independent of our time (which He created for us) and from His perspective, can see all of our past, the present and all of our future. He can know all of our thoughts (Rev 2:23), how many hairs are on our head (Mat 10:30) and He can inspire predictive prophecy in the word. He can be separated from us on account of sin, but closer to us than our own breath at the same time. He can be invisible to us, but can also see inside our heart (1 Sam 16:7). The orthodox view explains many other circumstances where God’s extra-dimensionality and timelessness is required to have exhaustive foreknowledge, including knowing what we need even before we pray.
(Mat 6:8) “…… for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
It explains how God can know in advance that on Judgement Day….
(Mat 7:22) “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
(Mat 7:23) “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
 
For more information, I would recommend watching the debate between John Sanders (Open Theism) and James White (Exhaustive Foreknowledge). It is available on YouTube.
Also, the booklet “What Does God Know?”, by Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, published by Ravi Zacharias Ministries and available at the Biola online bookstore.
Also, William Lane Craig has a book out that I will be reviewing after I finish reading it, entitled “The Only Wise God: The Compatibility Of Divine Foreknowledge And Human Freedom”, available at Amazon.com.
Also, the book “God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism”, by Open Theism critic Bruce Ware.
And lastly but not least, research the claims of fellow believers thoroughly by the word of the bible as your single standard of absolute truth.
(1Th 5:21) But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
(1Th 5:22) abstain from every form of evil.

Revelation Chapter 20 – And Why There Is No Thousand Year Reign

Chapter 20 is another retelling of the end time narrative beginning with Satan’s temporary binding by Jesus. Satan was bound, or rather, rendered powerless to overcome Jesus and the spread of the gospel through the apostle’s ministry and the early church period. A rough outline follows:

Satan was bound (vss 1-3) and non-Jewish ‘nations’ with pagan religions are able to receive the gospel.

Believers of all ages are enthroned with Christ, including those beheaded in the end time (vss 4-6).

Satan is released (vs 7).

Satan deceives the nations (vs 8)

Jesus returns with fire (vs 9), and destroys both Judaism.

The judgment and doom of Satan takes place (vs 10).

The general judgment (vss 11-15).

This repeats a theme we have seen before, of the Revelation containing multiple ‘micronarratives’ within the text, consisting of

  1. Persecution of the people of God.
  2.  Deliverance/salvation/rescue
  3.  Judgment of the oppressors

Chapter 6 is the first version of the end times narrative, ending in Jesus’ return and judgment.

Chapter 11 has several micronarratives embedded into the text of persecution of the church, redemption and endings with a retelling of Jesus’ return in judgment.

Chapters 12-19 are various re-tellings of the same events. Each re-telling includes a micronarrative of persecution of the church, the doom of those who war against Christ and of destruction of Judaism and finally, judgment.

Chapter 12 itself is an independent retelling of Satan’s hatred and persecution of the church, having the same micronarratives of persecution violence, salvation followed by judgment.

Here in chapter 20, we see this same micronarrative repeated in the text.

  1. Violence (vs 4) and spiritual deception (vss 8-9)
  2. Salvation in Jesus’ return (vs 9)
  3. Judgment of Satan and the general judgment of all (vs 10-15)

Notably, Jesus does not return at the beginning of the chapter (before the thousand-year reign (Rev 20:1-3) but toward the end of the chapter, after the thousand years (Rev 20:9-11) at which time the ‘books were opened’ (Rev 20:12) and the judgment takes place. This suggests that the so-called “thousand years” is not a literal length of time but another way of describing a general time period, an overview of the apostolic age with more specific details pertaining to its conclusion the destruction of Jerusalem, Judaism and unrepentant Jewish nation and the transfer of the kingdom to those who would bear fruit from it, the church.

(Rev 20:1)  Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

This is very consistent with other scriptures that show Jesus’ return to earth, holding keys (or authority over the spiritual realm).

(Rev 1:18)  and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

“…the key of the abyss…”

Authority over the lower parts of the world, or of hell, the place in Hades for the wicked dead.

“…a great chain…

Not a literal chain (what would a spiritual creature need metal chains for?), but symbolic chain, illustrating Satan’s limited ability to deceive the nations.

Compare to….

(Rev 9:1)  Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.

This writer takes the view that the ‘star’ of Rev 9:1 is the fallen angel, Satan, who is granted temporary authority to open the bottomless pit and later relinquishes that authority back to Jesus. Jesus returns with the same ‘key’ or authority in Rev 20:1 to bind Satan and later, consistent with the principle of reaping what one sows, Satan will be thrown into the same pit.

(Rev 20:2)  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

“…bound him…”

Jesus foretells the final, utter doom of Satan in…

(Joh 12:31)  “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

Satan was already bound at the time Jesus affirmed His authority to cast out demons being of the Spirit of God when He said…

(Mat 12:29)  “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

Jesus said this approximately 60 years before the time Rev 20:2 was penned. This suggests that Revelation 20 is not part of a sequential narrative that follows chapter 19. It is a stand-alone, retelling of the end time narrative that begins with Jesus binding Satan and ends with the church being victorious over Satan and the finality of the judgment.

Luke’s parallel passage describes it as….

(Luk 11:21 NASB)  “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.

(Luk 11:22 NASB)  “But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.

Paul describes this as….

(Col 2:15 NASB)  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

Long after Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter affirms that….

(1Pe 3:18)  For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

(1Pe 3:19)  in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,

The binding of Satan was not to put him away forever (that happens when he’s thrown into the lake of fire), but was a way to limit his power and influence over the ‘nations’ (Gentile peoples) that he had previously had influence over in the form of pagan religions. Satan still had influence over individuals, made evident in examples like…

Before the crucifixion…

(Luk 22:3)  And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.

And after the crucifixion…

(1Pe 5:8)  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Hardly a picture of Satan being in a literal cage or prison. Even if it was a literal ‘prison’ and they were literal ‘chains’, it still does nothing to stop Satan’s mouth, which is how he communicates false teachings, ‘doctrines of demons’ and ‘damnable heresies’.  Since 1 Peter 5:8 clearly shows that Satan was not in a literal ‘prison’, then it follows that the ‘thousand years’ should be interpreted symbolically.

In response to Satan being ‘bound’, the disciples were sent to the ‘nations’ with the gospel. This explains the meteoric rate of growth of the early church in spite of persecution violence and limited spiritual deception it faced.

Jesus’ victory over Satan is also seen at the crucifixion….

(Heb 2:14)  Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

“…for a thousand years.”

In the Old Testament, there are many times that “thousand”, “thousand years” or “thousand-fold” are referring to a symbolic quantity. For example…

(Exo 20:6)  but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

What about to those who love God and keep His commandments if or when they number more than thousands? Doesn’t God show lovingkindness to them too? The ‘thousands’ here are just referring to all who love God and keep His commandments.

(Deu 1:11)  ‘May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand-fold more than you are and bless you, just as He has promised you!

Does this mean that after the thousand-fold increase, that any additional increase would not be a blessing? Of course not. The ‘thousand-fold’ increase is symbolic, not literal. Similarly, …

(Deu 7:9)  “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Does God keep His covenant with one thousand generations but not those after it? Of course not. The ‘thousandth generation’ is just a Hebrew way of describing a large number. The emphasis is not about how many, but about the faithfulness of God. Again….

(Psa 50:10)  “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.

What about the cattle on the other hills? Are they someone else’s? Here, as before, the term ‘thousand’ is just used to describe an incalculably high number.

Another example…

(Psa 84:10)  For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

What about a thousand and one? Isn’t one day in His courts better than ten thousand outside? How about twenty thousand? Of course, we should understand the ‘thousand’ here symbolically as referring to just an incalculable number.

Time designations are used symbolically in other portions of the Revelation. For example (caps mine for emphasis)….

(Rev 2:10)  ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for TEN DAYS. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

(Rev 17:12)  “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for ONE HOUR.

Here, we see verse describing the same event as occurring in both ‘one hour’ and ‘one day’.

(Rev 18:8)  “For this reason in ONE DAY her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.

(Rev 18:10)  standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in ONE HOUR your judgment has come.’

We also see other instances where time designations are used symbolically. The time period of 3.5 years is repeatedly used to symbolically describe a time of violence.

(Rev 11:3)  “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for TWELVE HUNDRED AND SIXYT DAYS, clothed in sackcloth.”

(Rev 11:9)  Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for THREE AND A HALF DAYS, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.

(Rev 12:14)  But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a TIME AND TIMES AND HALF A TIME, from the presence of the serpent.

(Rev 12:6)  Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY DAYS.

Why should we assume the ‘thousand years’ of Rev 20:2 are literal when other time designations are not?

And lastly, the scriptures clearly show that a ‘thousand years’ are not literally a thousand years, but are a matter of perspective, describing a very long time to us but relatively brief for God.

(Psa 90:4)  For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.

This psalm is in part describing how relatively brief our life is compared to the infiniteness of God.  To God, a thousand years is like “yesterday” (a past event) or a ‘watch in the night’ (four hours). From our perspective, they cannot be both at the same time. From God’s perspective of being independent of time, they can both happen at the same time while for us, it may be a very long time.

(2Pe 3:8)  But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

Here, Peter probably got the idea from Psalm 90:4 but words it differently. Here, the ‘day’ is symbolic for a thousand years, and a ‘thousand years’ are symbolic for a day.

In summary then, there are several good lines of evidence to support the “thousand years” being symbolic, not literal

  1. There numerous examples of the ‘thousand’ being used symbolically in the Old Testament.
  2. There are over five hundred Old Testament references in the Revelation, all of which use symbolic language and imagery.
  3. The Revelation itself is clearly infused from beginning to end with symbolic language.
  4. The surrounding context is symbolic. To arbitrarily interpret the ‘thousand years’ as literal while interpreting the rest of the verse as symbolic is not just poor exegesis, it’s irresponsible handing of the text.
  5. Other scriptures in the Revelation use time designations symbolically.
  6. Other scriptures specifically define a ‘thousand years’ as a symbolic time period.

But there’s an additional reason not to depart from a symbolic interpretive paradigm when it comes to Revelation chapter 20 and the ‘thousand years’. None of the gospels or epistles teach a literal thousand-year reign of Christ.

According to Jesus’ eschaton, He returns to judge the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:32).” All nations” are judged. There is eternal life in the kingdom for the righteous or eternal fire for the wicked. There is no mention of a thousand-year reign. Since the judgment happened at 70AD, it follows that the ‘thousand years’ is referring to the apostolic age.

Jesus says…

(Joh 5:28)  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

(Joh 5:29)  And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Here again, there is no expectation of a literal thousand-year reign in Jesus’ eschaton. It’s just not there. Similarly, apostle Peter’s eschaton has no expectation of a millennial reign.

Peter says…

(2Pe 3:10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Notably, 2 Peter 3:10 uses the same terminology and is in the same end time context of judgment as….

(Rev 16:15)  (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)

How can there be a literal thousand-year reign from a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem in a universe without literal elements on a burned up planet without an atmosphere?

And Paul’s eschaton…

(2Th 1:8)  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Again, there is no mention of a millennial reign for believers. Similarly, there is no mention of a millennial reign in any of the previous retellings of Jesus’ return in other portions of the Revelation. Rather, Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians that Jesus was already reigning.

(1Co 15:25)  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

(1Co 15:26)  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

And that doesn’t happen until the judgment, at the end.

(Rev 20:14)  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Even from Daniel’s prophecy of Jesus’ return, the end time kingdom is eternal, not limited to one thousand years. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Dan 7:14)  “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an EVERLASTING dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

(Dan 7:18)  ‘But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom FOREVER, for all ages to come.’

There is no literal one thousand years in view here either but rather, an everlasting kingdom that lasts forever. Jesus inaugurated this kingdom, and it exists to this day, everlasting, just as the bible says.

It is this writer’s view that the ‘thousand years’ began with Jesus’ defeat of Satan in the wilderness, includes the work of the cross and ended with the significant increase in violence and spiritual deception occurring at the end of the age of Judaism, just prior to His return

(Rev 20:3)  and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

“…the abyss…” (“bottomless pit” KJV)

The same place the demons begged Jesus to not send them too in…

(Luk 8:31)  They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.

(2Pe 2:4)  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

‘hell’ in 2 Peter 2:4 is GK ‘tartaros’, not ‘Gehenna’. Like ‘Gehenna’, ‘tartaros’ is a temporary holding place for the unrighteous dead. The permanent place for Satan, demons and later, unrepentant souls is the eternal lake of fire.

(Mat 25:41)  “… into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

In Luke 8:31 and 2 Peter 2:4 the ‘abyss’ or ‘bottomless pit’ is a literal place of temporary imprisonment. Here in Rev 20:3, it is used figuratively.

“…so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed….”

This is the ‘thousand years’ (see commentary entry for Rev 20:2), beginning in the first century and continuing through a time of increasing spiritual deception and persecution violence just prior to Jesus’ return.

During this time, Satan was unable to deceive the ‘nations’ on the scale of success that he enjoyed before, but this does not mean he was unable to deceive individuals, evidenced by scriptures such as Acts 5:3, 1 Cor 5:5, 1 Cor 7:5, 2 Cor 2:11,  2 Cor 11:14, 2 Cor 12:7 and 1Tim 1:20 and….

(1 Pet 5:8) “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Obviously, the ‘binding’ of Satan was not a literal imprisonment but rather, a state of limited ability to deceive the nations.

“…after these things he must be released for a short time.”

See also….(caps mine for emphasis)

(Rev 12:12)  “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a SHORT TIME.”

If a ‘thousand years’ is not a literal thousand years but still a long time from our perspective, then it follows that a ‘short time’ also has no exact length but is relatively brief. This release of Satan happened after a long time, but just prior to Jesus’ return. So if Satan has already been released, which is this writer’s view, then this (along with other evidences from the scriptures and current events) points to Jesus’ return being relatively near. The best hyothesis is that the release of Satan happened after Jesus’ ascension and before His return.

(Rev 20:4)  Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

“…I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them…”

This is mentioned also in Daniel’s end time prophecy pertaining to Jesus’ return. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Dan 7:9)  “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His SEAT; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

Those who sit on the thrones are Jesus, the apostles and all genuine believers.

(Mat 19:28)  And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will SIT on His glorious throne, you also shall SIT upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

(Luk 22:30)  that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and YOU WILL SIT ON THRONES judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

But also, all genuine believers who have died in Christ…

(Rev 3:21)  ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to SIT DOWN WITH ME on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

(Eph 2:6)  and raised us up with Him, and SEATED US WITH HIM in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

“…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded…”

John sees the souls of two groups of people. Those who had been beheaded for their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had been beheaded for not worshiping the beast or his image and who had not received the mark of the ‘beast’.

Notable first century Roman beheadings include John the Baptist, and also the Apostle Paul. Though beheadings (with an axe) occurred in the first century, it was not as common as crucifixion, being run through with a sword, being thrown to animals or burned alive. These beheadings began at the beginning of the ‘thousand years’, the apostolic age.

“…and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand…”

The beheadings of the second group in Rev 20:4 are contextually linked to those who die refusing to worship the beast or his image and who had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand. In this writer’s view, the “mark of the beast” was apostasy to Roman emperor worship.

Notably, John sees the ‘souls’ of those who had been beheaded, not their resurrected bodies. This is another line of evidence showing that Rev 20:4 takes place before the end time resurrection and thus, before Jesus’ return, a strong argument against the premillennial position. If the amillenial view for Revelation chapter 20 is correct, then verse 4 would seem to suggest that the entire chapter is a retelling of end times events, not events that follow the previous chapter in a sequential order.

“…and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

There is no consensus on how this verse should be understood, since the phrase “came to life” can be interpreted two ways. If in the constantive aorist sense (continuing action), then all who die as martyrs continue in life or have ‘increased life’. If in the ingressive aorist sense (new life) then all who die as martyrs come back to life.

Since the ‘thousand years’ has already been shown to be symbolic of the apostolic period, not a literal thousand years (see commentary entry for Rev 20:2), this writer takes the constantive aorist interpretation, and understands this verse to mean that ‘all those who are born again (the first resurrection) from the time of Christ until His return continue in life and are ‘not hurt by the second death’ (Rev 2:11). This is also consistent with Jesus’ own teaching.

(Joh 11:25)  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

(Joh 11:26)  and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

(Rev 20:5)  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.

There is a first and a second resurrection and there is a first and second death. The first death is physical death. The second death is an eternity in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14). The first resurrection is to be spiritually born again. The second resurrection is the resurrection of the body.

Those who hear His voice and resurrect from a spiritually dead state are those who are born again.

(Joh 5:25)  “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

(Joh 6:39)  “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

“The rest of the dead….”  Those who have died without being spiritually born again.

“….did not come to life…”

Same dilemma as in Rev 20:4, with either the ingressive aorist or constantive aorist sense of the phrase. This writer takes the ingressive aorist view in this case, which suggests that Rev 20:4 and Rev 20:5 are playing off of each other. One is referring to continued life for the righteous who are martyred while the other refers to the unrighteous not being resurrected until the ‘last day’, the ‘day’ or time period of Jesus’ return, which will also be the day of resurrection of judgment for all.

(Joh 5:28)  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

(Joh 5:29)  and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Likewise,….

(Mat 25:31)  “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

(Mat 25:32)  “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

(Rev 20:6)  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Anyone who is born again (those who are blessed and holy) are those who ‘take part in the first resurrection’, the resurrection from being spiritually dead to being raised up with Christ. The ‘second death’ is the lake of fire (Rev 20:14), the eternal judgment for the unrepentant.

First century believers began to reign with Christ from the time they got born again, and this reign extends even beyond the time of Satan’s binding, which is the ‘thousand years’ (See commentary entry for Rev 20:2, the ‘thousand years actually ending in our modern era). After they physically die, they still live spiritually, as Jesus taught in…

(Joh 11:25)  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

(Joh 11:26)  and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

After the judgment, if they are found worthy, they will reign ‘forever’.

(Rev 22:5)  And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

Again, there is no literal one-thousand-year long reign in view, but rather, reigning in an eternal kingdom.

Christ was already reigning when Paul wrote…

(1Co 15:25)  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

Genuine believers will reign with Christ because they are themselves, a kingdom of priests.

(Rev 5:10)  “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Those whose faith endures persecution and spiritual deception will reign with Christ.

(2Ti 2:12)  If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

(Rev 20:7)  When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,

This is not to say that Satan will be released from a literal prison, but that his power to deceive the nations will be restored. By this time, the gospel would have already gone forth to all the earth, in obedience to Christ’s commission to the apostles and the early church.

In this writer’s view, Satan has already been released, sometime in the modern era. He’s been attacking the church through persecution violence and spiritual deception.

(Rev 12:17)  Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

This violence appears in human history at the same time as the spiritual deception in and from the ‘church’….which is the beast and whore appearing together (Rev 17:3).

(Rev 17:3)  And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.

Satan is going after the church, because he knows born again believers are the only ones who can overcome him.

(Rev 12:11)  “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Satan knows he only has a limited time to do as much damage as he can.

(Rev 12:12)  “….the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

From 2 Thessalonians…

(2Th 2:7)  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

The ‘man of lawlessness’ is apostasy to Roman emperor worship. ‘He who restrains’ is the truth of an uncompromised gospel which is being ‘taken away’ as the church becomes more corrupt, more hostile to holiness. Satan’s renewed deception of all nations is made possible through the removal of truth from the church. Since the apostate church was in all known nations, Satan used the church to deceive all known nations.

(Rev 20:8)  and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.

If we go with the standard premillennial view, this deception would take place during the supposed ‘thousand-year reign’. Jesus would have already thrown the beast and false prophet into the lake of fire. This scenario invites more questions than it answers. For example, what would be the point of allowing yet another deception in a kingdom where righteousness is supposed to be reigning? What purpose would it be for Jesus to return in Revelation chapter 19, only to begin a thousand-year reign where Satan deceives the nations yet again?

“…deceive the nations…”

Satan is released to ‘deceive the nations’, all of the nations. Gog was a leader in Magog, located in what is today, Turkey.  ‘Gog and Magog’ are used here to understate ‘four corners of the earth’, which is to say its entirety. Prior to Jesus’ first advent, the ‘nations’ (Gentile nations) were deceived. All they had were pagan religions. Only Israel had the light of hope in that they had the truth of the scriptures, even if the Jews did not see Christ in them.

Notably, Chapter 19 has only the beast and false prophet being thrown into the lake of fire. Chapter 20 is a separate retelling of the same time period, this time to include Satan being thrown into the lake of fire too.

“…gather them together for the war…”  Spiritual warfare, not physical warfare.

(Rev 20:9)  And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

“….they…”  The ‘nations’ per Rev 20:8. The entire world will be hostile to the ‘camp of the saints’.

“…the camp of the saints…”   Genuine believers in Jesus. An alternative view is according to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ‘camp of the saints’ is a remnant community of Jews.

See also….

(Deu 23:14)  “Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore YOUR CAMP MUST BE HOLY; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.

Also…

“…beloved city…”  This writer’s view is that the ‘beloved city’ is Jerusalem. This would seem to follow both history and the model in Rev 12:17 of Satan attacking the Jews first.

“…fire came down from heaven…”

The fire of judgment and war that happened at Jesus’ return, the time of the end of Judaism, not the beginning of a literal thousand years. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Psa 11:6)  Upon the wicked He will rain snares; FIRE AND BRIMSTONE and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.

(Eze 38:22)  “With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE.

(Rev 19:12)  His eyes are A FLAME OF FIRE, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.

(2Th 1:6)  For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you

(2Th 1:7)  and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels IN FLAMING FIRE,

(2Th 1:8)  dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

(Rev 1:14)  His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a FLAME OF FIRE.

(Rev 10:1)  I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of FIRE;

Revelation 20:9 is another micro-narrative describing the destruction of the world of Judaism, the salvation of the innocent and the final judgment, which happened at the return of Jesus. There is no ‘thousand years’ mentioned from this point on, so Satan being bound for a ‘thousand-years’ (Rev 20:2-3) must happen before Jesus’ return, not after.

(Rev 20:10)  And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Satan is thrown into a lake of fire, where the previous chapter showed the beast (Rome, or possibly Zealot-led Israel) and false prophet are too. This writer’s view is that these events happen at the same time, but are merely described separately to add emphasis. Notably, once he is thrown into the lake of fire, there is no coming out. His release from being ‘bound’ for a ‘thousand years’ happens before this event, not after.

“…the devil who deceived them….”

Deceived who?   Recall that in Revelation chapter 16, the beast and false prophet convince others to war against Jesus. This would be significant of both Rome and Jews conspiring to persecute Christians, which had departed Jerusalem long before hostilities got out of control.

(Rev 16:13)  And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs;

(Rev 16:14)  for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.

“…where the beast and false prophet are…” (Rev 19:20).

Jesus destroyed Judaism and its false prophet, Zealot-led Israel when He returned in 70AD.

(Rev 14:11)  “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

This is the same place other wicked, God-hating souls will go…

(Mat 25:41)  “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

(Mat 25:46)  “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

“…tormented day and night forever and ever…”

There is no ‘day and night’ in an eternal realm, so this is just common language describing an unending time. Human souls will be joining the beast and false prophet, and all whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life will be tormented day and night (forever and ever) See also Rev 20:15. No mention of being ‘released’ here. Again, this is good evidence that Satan being bound for a ‘thousand years’ happens before Jesus’ return, not after.

(Rev 20:11)  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

The judgment of the nations, per Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:31-46…

(Mat 25:31)  “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

(Mat 25:32)  “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

And…

(Mat 16:27)  “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

This is also the judgment referred to in…

(2Co 5:10)  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

(Rom 14:10)  ….For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

To accommodate a non-existent ‘millennial reign’ of Christ, there are some who divide the scriptures to create multiple judgments….a judgment of the wicked for damnation, and the judgment of the righteous for rewards. One judgment before Jesus’ so-called ‘millennial reign’, and one after the ‘millennial reign’. However, there is only one judgment of all. 2 Cor 5:10 and Rom 14:10 are referring to the same judgment seat. One calls it the judgment seat of Christ, the other, the judgment seat of God. There is only one damnation and one reward.

Also, it is a myth that God will give out ‘rewards’ (plural) for our good works. There are no plural ‘rewards’ anywhere in the Revelation, nor is it implied elsewhere. Every instance in the KJV bible of the plural form ‘rewards’ is associated with what a sinner seeks or is tempting the righteous with.

Eternal life is both knowing Jesus (John 17:3, 1 John 5:20) and in its farthest reaching application, unending life in the presence of the one, true holy God for the righteous, a reward that will last forever (John 3:15). Genuine believers have already passed from death into life (John 5:24), not based on their profession of faith, but evidenced by what they do.

(Rom 2:7)  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

(Revelation 22:14-15) Blessed are those who DO His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life.

This is also the time of the resurrection.

(Joh 5:28)  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

(Joh 5:29)  and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Everyone was judged by their works (John 5:29, Rev 2:23, 20:12, Rev 18:6), their words (Matt 12:36), their secrets (Eccl 12:14, Rom 2:16, Heb 4:13) and whether their names are written in the book of life (Rev 20:15). Angels were also judged (Jude 1:6).

“…great white throne…”

White, for purity, holiness and justice. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Rev 1:14)  His head and His hair were WHITE LIKE WHITE WOOL, LIKE SNOW; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.

Also in Daniel’s vision…

(Dan 7:9)  “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like WHITE SNOW And the hair of His head like PURE WOOL. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

Recall that Jesus returns on a ‘white horse’ (Rev 19:11) followed by armies dressed in clean linen ‘white and clean’ (Rev 19:14). The throne of God is surrounded by elders dressed in ‘white robes’ (Rev 4:4). Martyred saints are dressed in ‘white garments’ (Rev 6:11). And those who come out of the ‘great tribulation’ are dressed in ‘white robes’ (Rev 7:14). The ‘seven angels’ coming out of the temple (Rev 15:6) are dressed in ‘white linen’ and Jesus sits in authority over a ‘white cloud’ (Rev 14:14), figuratively describing the saints. Here in Rev 20:11, even the throne itself is white.

“…Him who sat upon it….”

God is sitting on the throne, Jesus Christ. This was established long ago in the prophecy of Daniel….

(Dan 7:9)  “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

And Jesus Himself said…

(Joh 5:22)  “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,

And Paul uses the term ‘judgment seat of Christ’ interchangeably with ‘judgment seat of God’.

(2Co 5:10)  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

(Rom 14:10)  ….For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

“…., from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, , and no place was found for them.…”

Also…

(Rev 16:20)  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

Compare to Jesus’ prediction of…

(Mat 24:35)  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

And in Peter’s eschaton…

(2Pe 3:10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

When God inserted Himself into our dimension the second time through Christ’s return, all gave way, mountains, the sky…even the elements (3 Peter 3:12). Nothing can remain in its present state, because all must conform to His presence. But this is not literal mountains and sky, but Judaism and it’s Old Covenant religious rituals.

 

This concept is seen in the Old Testament as well in passages like…

(Psa 97:5)  The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

(Zec 14:4)  In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

Taking a literalist view for purposes of illustration, if by this point the heavens and earth have fled away (been destroyed), what earth is there for Satan to be released on? There is no mention of Satan having any part of the “new heavens and new earth” of Revelation chapter 21, because he’s still in the lake of fire, never to come out. Again, this shows that the so-called ‘thousand years’ time period is not literal, but symbolic and occurs just prior to Jesus’ return.

This imagery of ‘heaven and earth’ likely came from Isaiah 66:22.

(Isa 66:22)  “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.

In its New Testament usage, some think it is referring to the New Covenant. Others think it is just a colloquial way of describing a ‘new beginning’.

The term ‘heaven and earth’ were also used by Hebrews to describe the inner and outer portion of the temple. And first century Jewish historian Josephus reports that Jews referred to the temple at Jerusalem as “heaven and earth.”

Source: Josephus, Antiquities (William Whiston trans., Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1987) BK. 3, chap. 6:4-7; chapt. 7:7, pp 86+

Jesus Himself, right after describing the destruction of the temple in Matt 24:3-28, said…

(Matthew 24:35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

meaning, the physical temple, or possibly Judaism itself will pass away, but His words will not. This has been proven true even until today.

If ‘heaven and earth’ was the Old Covenant temple according to Jesus, then a ‘new heaven and earth’ from scripture penned by Hebrew believers like John in Revelation 21:2 and Peter in 2 Peter 3:13 would be the ‘new temple’, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the church.

Jesus also said…

(Mat 5:18)  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Here, Old Covenant Judaism or possibly the temple itself is pictured as ‘heaven and earth’. This verse also implies that all prophecy would be complete when ‘heaven and earth’ pass away. Thus, the destruction of Jerusalem, Judaism and the temple would bring all prophecy to fulfillment.

 

This would also be consistent with how Hebrew believers like the apostle Paul and John used objects (like a ‘city’) to describe Old Covenant Israel (Hagar) contrasted to the “Jerusalem above” (Gal 4:26), the New Covenant kingdom.

Also, the  ‘great city” and “Babylon the great” contrasted with the “new Jerusalem” (Rev 21:2) and “holy city” (Rev 21:10), contrast the Old Covenant Judaism that would soon be destroyed to the New Covenant kingdom that was at that time making Old Covenant Judaism obsolete.

 

The writer of the Revelation, John, says…

Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

This may be describing the general judgment of all that took place when Jesus returned in between 66-70AD. That judgement resulted in the destruction of Old Covenant Judaism and its temple, which were obstacles to those coming to salvation in Christ. Thus, the old temple, being obsolete, needed to be destroyed on account of the new temple, the church. As destruction came to the temple and Judaism itself, those in the city of Jerusalem tried to escape but could not find a place to hide from the destruction of the spiritual city of the ‘great city’ of Judaism.

 

So we see multiple lines of evidence that support the idea that the ‘new heaven and earth’ is not a literal, new sky and ball of dirt, but rather, the new covenant temple, the church.

(Rev 20:12)  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

“…the dead…”

Jesus returned to judge both the living and the dead….

(2Ti 4:1)  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

…but only the dead are mentioned in Rev 20:12. The living are those who have already taken part in the first resurrection, those who are born again. The ‘dead’ in this context are those who were unrepentant Old Covenant Jews and other, unsaved, not born again, not spiritually regenerate souls, all the wicked dead from the time after the ‘thousand years’, the time of Satan’s binding. (See commentary entry for Rev 20:5).

“…the great and the small…”

The unsaved from all stations in life, rich and poor, popular or unknown, lost or found…all will be judged.

“…the books…”

Apparently, there is more than one ‘book’. The ‘dead’ are judged from the book that pertains to them, while those who have taken part in the first resurrection and born again are judged from the ‘book of life’. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Dan 7:10)  “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And THE BOOKS were opened.

“…another book was opened…the book of life…”

This is the ‘Lamb’s book of life’, also referred to as the ‘book of life’ in Rev 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:15 and 21:27. Apparently, the ‘book of life’ is a list of names (not deeds) of the eternally saved, while the other ‘books’ are deeds of those who are spiritually dead (who never got born again, never repented from sin and followed Jesus) and are awaiting judgement in Hades.

It may be mistakenly assumed that because the phrase “another book was opened, the book of life…” is neatly sandwiched between two references to the other ‘books’, that all will be judged from the ‘book of life’, but this is not so. Those who are judged from the ‘book of life’ are those who have taken part in the first resurrection of being born again. Those who are not born again will be judged from the other ‘books’ (pl).

That only one book is required to judge the righteous and more than one book is required to judge the dead may suggest that there are more evil deeds of the condemned to record than good deeds of the saved. It’s simply unclear exactly how many books there are. Only one particular book is mentioned by name (the book of life). It may be that there is the book of life, and several books for deeds of all, including the righteous. The text isn’t clear on this point.

Perhaps the one book for the righteous and other ‘books’ for the deeds of the unrighteous is simply indicating that there are more condemned souls than saved. This would be consistent with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:13-14, showing that ‘few’ will find eternal life (caps emphasis mine).

(Mat 7:13)  “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are MANY who enter through it.

(Mat 7:14)  “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are FEW who find it.

Those judged from the ‘book of life’ are those whose names are in the ‘book’. Their deeds will still be judged too, but it is not stated from what book. What deeds? Right after Jesus preached the very popular John 3:16, He then says…

(Joh 3:21)  “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Those who profess faith are judged by whether or not they ‘practice the truth’ after they first believe, not on their profession of faith at the time they first believe. They will be judged on whether or not they kept Jesus’ commandments.

(Rev 14:12)  Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

To see if their deeds were appropriate to repentance.

(Act 26:20)  ….and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Jesus died on the cross to ‘redeem us from every lawless deed’ so that we will do good deeds, not evil. Sadly, much of the ‘church’ teaches that God’s grace permits a fruitless, deedless salvation.

(Tit 2:14)  who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Our deeds, choices, actions, speech and thoughts will all be examined thoroughly to see if they were ‘good’ and not ‘lawless’. This explains Jesus’ interest in the deeds of the churches…

To the church of Ephesus…(Rev 2:2)  ‘I know your deeds ….’

To the church of Thyatira…(Rev 2:19)  ‘I know your deeds…that your deeds of late are greater than at first.’

To the church of Sardis…(Rev 3:1)  “… I know your deeds…”

To the church of Philadelphia…(Rev 3:8)  ‘I know your deeds…”

To the church of Laodicea…(Rev 3:15)  ‘I know your deeds…”

These are the works God prepared beforehand for us to accomplish.

(Eph 2:10)  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Anyone who subscribes to the false doctrine of “God did it all” needs to reassess their soteriology. Doing good instead of evil, meaning to walk in righteousness daily, not sin daily is essential for receiving the reward of eternal life. Being rich in good works, being generous and sharing are what stores up the ‘treasure’ of a good foundation of the future, so that a soul can ‘take hold’ of the reward of eternal life.

(1Ti 6:18)  Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,

(1Ti 6:19)  storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

“…and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

What deeds? Evil deeds. Kingdom prohibiting deeds mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Rom 2:5,8-9, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3-5, Rev 21:8 and all those who die in a state of lawless, sinful rebellion against God

(Mat 7:23)  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Everyone at the time of Jesus’ return was judged by their works (Jn 5:28-29), their words (Matt 12:36), their thoughts (Luke 8:17) their secrets (Eccl 12:14, Rom 2:16, Heb 4:13) and whether their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 20:15). Angels were also judged (Jude 1:6). The righteous were judged (Rom 2:7, 10, Rev 2:23, 14:13, 22:14-15) and the wicked, (Roman 2:8 among others) and here in Rev 20:12.

(Rev 20:13)  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

“..And the sea,…”

(Isa 57:20)  But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet, And its waters toss up refuse and mud.

This may be describing a violent culture of chaos, lawlessness and turbulence.

In Jude, “wild waves of the sea” are used to describe antinomian false teachers, false converts who both live and teach others to live in sin.

(Jud 1:13)  wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

Literally, “sea” refers to either the Mediterranean or Red Sea. Graphically, the “sea” is what the second beast comes up from in Rev 13:1.

(Rev 17:1)  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,

(Rev 17:15)  And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.

The sea may be used here to mean ‘the realm of all that is evil’, including ‘Leviathan’.

(Isa 27:1)  In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.

“…gave up the dead which were in it.”

The word ‘dead’ is GK ‘nekros’, meaning ‘dead body, corpse’. The sea gives up its dead bodies. The word for ‘death’ later in the verse is GK ‘thannatos’, meaning ‘risk of dying’. Thus, the sea (whether literal or symbolic) gives up its corpses and death is finished. There is no longer any risk of physical death.

“…and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them…”

Physical death is no longer relevant. Similarly, Hades (HEB ‘Sheol’), the ‘realm of the dead’, thought to be in a ‘pit’ of the underworld is no longer needed as a place of temporary holding for souls. All regions where souls reside give up their occupants to face judgment.

“…and they were judged…..according to their deeds.”

Earlier, Paul taught…

(2Co 5:10)  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

(Rom 2:6)  Who will render to every man according to his deeds

And Jesus, speaking to the church of Ephesus…

(Rev 2:5)  ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.

Jesus, speaking to the church of Thyatira, to those engaged in spiritual fornication and apostasy…

(Rev 2:23)  ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

(Rev 2:26)  ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;

(Joh 5:28)  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

(Joh 5:29)  and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

 

(Rev 20:14)  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

The ‘second death’ is the death spoken of by Paul in…

(Rom 6:23)  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is the ‘second death’ spoken of earlier in Rev 20:6. Caps mine for emphasis.

(Rev 20:6)  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the SECOND DEATH has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Also….

(Rev 21:8)  “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the SECOND DEATH.”

(Isa 25:8)  He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.

(1Co 15:54)  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.

(1Co 15:26)  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

(Rev 21:4)  “… and there will no longer be any death……”

The ‘first death’, bodily, physical death was temporary. The ‘second death’ is eternal. The ‘first death’ happens in time. The ‘second death’ happens  over a timeless period, a continual, unending state of tormented destruction and fire (Matt 25:41) ‘where the worm never dies’ (Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:44). The judgement separates the wicked from the righteous from their temporary holding places in Hades (HEB ‘Sheol’),a Hebrew concept. The wicked, death and Hades itself are cast into the lake of fire. They will remain there forever, while the righteous remain with Jesus in heaven forever.

(Rev 20:15)  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

“…book of life…”

The book of life is that which records the names of all who have believed on the Son of God, Jesus Christ in an enduring, obedient faith characterized by holiness. Caps mine for emphasis.

Endurance:

(Joh 15:6)  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

Obedience:

(Heb 5:9)  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who OBEY Him the source of eternal salvation

Holiness:

(Heb 12:14 ESV)  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD.

Martyrs are also found worthy of eternal life because they are “faithful unto death” and received the “crown of life” (Rev 2:10) and because “…they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11). And  because they had been killed for their testimony…

“….beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God….” (Rev 20:4)

The reward of eternal life is given to those who DO things that prove their faith. It’s for those who did good (and not evil) as evidence of an obedient faith. Deeds worthy of repentance showing evidence of a changed, regenerate life must be present for a soul to be judged worthy of eternal life. Paul quotes from Psalm 62:12 and says….

(Rom 2:6)  He will render to each one according to his works:

(Rom 2:7)  to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, HE WILL GIVE ETERNAL LIFE;

This pretty much rules out the false doctrine of “God did it all. Nothing is required from believers” that is so widespread today.

“…lake of fire….”

No mention of ‘soul sleep’, purgatory or annihilation here. The lake of fire is a place of ‘eternal’, never-ending tormented punishment.

(Dan 12:2 NASB)  “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and EVERLASTING contempt.

Mutliple Gospels In The Bible, Only One For Today

There are well-meaning Christians, even preachers, who in an attempt to reach the lost with what they believe is ‘the gospel’ are actually preaching the wrong gospel or mixing them together. For example, they will quote Mark 1:15, which is Jesus declaring….

(Mar 1:15 NASB)  …. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

They believe they’re sharing ‘the gospel’, when in fact, Mark 1:15 is referring to the ‘gospel of the kingdom’, which was directed exclusively to Jews for a limited time.

It’s important that we first understand what gospel was being preached at the time of the events of the synoptic gospels and what gospel came later, after Jesus’ crucifixion death and resurrection.

 

During the time of Abraham, there was the gospel that all nations would be blessed by having salvation made available by faith.

 

(Gal 3:8)  The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”

(Gal 3:9)  So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

 

Of course, this gospel has lasted throughout the centuries and is still relevant today, since we are saved [from the kingdom of darkness] by the grace of God, through faith.

 

During the rest of the Old Testament time, the gospel shared to the saints was also shared to the Jews in the apostolic era, that rest was available in a future Messiah.
(Heb 4:2) For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

 

During the time of Jesus, there was the gospel of the kingdom, proclaiming the arrival of God’s heavenly rule on earth in the person of the Messiah, Jesus and later, all who believe on Him (Rev 1:6). This gospel was preached exclusively to Jews by Jesus, the disciples He sent out (the twelve and the seventy-two), and by the apostles for a limited time.

 

(Mat 4:23 NASB)  Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

 

During the apostolic era, there was both the gospel of the kingdom (preached exclusively to Jews for a limited time), and the gospel of grace, preached by Paul to both Jews and non-Jews.

 

 

(Act 20:24)  “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

 

(Also, Acts 9:15, 13:46, 28:17-28)

 

 

So far, we see there are at least four different gospels recorded in the bible. To determine which gospel should be preached today, we will turn to the last two now.

 

 

The Gospel Of The Kingdom

 

John the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles all preached the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ to the Jews. The gospel of the kingdom was that God’s kingdom rule was beginning on earth, personified in the person of the Messiah and later, in and through all believers (Rev 1:6).

 

The purpose of the gospel of the kingdom:

 

John the Baptist taught that his ministry was for the benefit of Jesus’ revealing the gospel of the kingdom to Israel, not non-Jews.

 

John the Baptist says…. (Jn.1:31 ESV) “I myself did not recognize him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel”

 

The author of the gospel of Matthew says… (Mt.3:1-2 KJV).”In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”

 

Jesus also preached….” (Mar 1:15)  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

This is referring to the heavenly rule, the Messiah being ‘at hand’, among God’s chosen people, the Jews.

 

 

What was the gospel of the kingdom?

 

(Luk 4:15-21 NASB)  And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

When John the Baptist, in prison, inquired about the identity of Jesus, Jesus replied….

 

(Luk 7:22 NASB) …. “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.

 

What was the “gospel to the poor”? The fulfilment of Isaiah 61:1-2 in Jesus Christ. This is what He preached when He went “…in the synagogue….as was His custom.”

 

Scriptural evidence showing that Jesus was preaching about His identity supports the above.

 

(Joh 10:24 NASB)  The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

 

(Joh 10:25 NASB)  Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.

 

Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom, identifying Him as the long-awaited Messiah and that the kingdom of God was in Him was a saving gospel for Jews who repented and believed it. Jesus said…

(Joh 8:24 NASB)  “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

 

After Jesus’ resurrection, the gospel of the kingdom (identifying Jesus as the promised Messiah) was still being preached by the apostles and others, including Peter….

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36)

 

And Philip….

(Act 8:37 NASB)  [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”]

 

and Paul….

 

(Act 17:2 NASB)  And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

 

(Act 17:3 NASB)  explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

 

And Apollos….

 

(Acts18:28 NASB) “For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus is Christ”

 

This was obviously a very different gospel than what Paul preached, by which genuine believers today are being saved.

 

 

Later in Acts, Paul describes what the good news was.

 

(Act 26:22 NASB)  “So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place;

(Act 26:23 NASB)  that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

 

Paul also reminds the Corinthians of what the gospel is…

 

(1Co 15:1-4 NASB)  Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

 

It can be readily seen from the scriptures that the gospel Paul preached was entirely different from the gospel that Jesus preached. Both affirmed the Old Testament as a source of prophecy, looking forward to Jesus as the Messiah. Both utilized the power of God in salvation and was authenticated by supernatural miracles. Only one was exclusively directed to Jews. The gospel of the kingdom. The other was directed to primarily Gentiles (non-Jews) but included Jews. The gospel of grace.

 

 

Where was the gospel of the kingdom preached and to whom?

 

Jesus, the disciples and others preached the gospel of the kingdom to Jews, in Jewish cities and in Jewish synagogues.

 

(Luk 4:43 NASB)  But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”

(Luk 4:44 NASB)  So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

 

 

As Jesus sent the twelve disciples off to evangelize ahead of Him, He gave them explicit instructions to avoid non-Jewish cities. Jesus’ ministry was directed to Jews, and so was the disciple’s ministry.

 

(Mat 10:5 NASB)  These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;

(Mat 10:6 NASB)  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

 

Speaking to Jewish believers, Acts 1:3 teaches that Jesus expounded on the kingdom of God even after His resurrection.

(Act 1:3)  To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

 

 

Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom to Jews only. The disciples, including the twelve and the seventy-two preached the gospel to Jews only. Long after Jesus’ resurrection, and even after Paul’s conversion, the gospel of the kingdom was still being preached to Jews only.

(Acts 11:19) “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

 

 

The power of salvation was present in the gospel of the kingdom, just as it would be in Paul’s gospel of grace. Jesus told His disciples, before sending them out ahead of Him….

 

(Mat 10:7 NASB)  “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

(Mat 10:8 NASB)  “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.

 

This of course was the model for the ministry of the apostles, as they also did miracles that authenticated the gospel to the Jews. The power of God for salvation was authenticated publicly through a ministry of healing and miracles. But after 70AD, when the gospel of the kingdom stopped being preached, these signs and miracles ceased.

This explains why during the ministry of Jesus, the twelve who were sent out, the seventy-two that were sent out and the ministry of the post-resurrection disciples, healing and other miracles were a prominent part of the presentation of the gospel to Jews (Acts 2:4, 43, 3:6, 5:12-16, 6:8, 8:6-7, 9:40,10:46, 14:3). However, nearing 70AD, even Jewish apostles and faithful believers remained sick at times, having to take medicine for frequent ailments (2 Cor 12:5-10, Col 4:14, 1 Tim 5:23, 2 Tim 4:20).

Even the gift of tongues was a sign gift to “unbelievers” (1 Cor 14:21-22), which were in that context, Jews. Paul affirms this when he quotes from Isaiah 28:11 “this people”, which is referring to Jews who were soon to be under judgment from God. The same was about to happen to the Jewish nation, when in 70AD, the Jewish temple was levelled, completely destroyed, bringing to a close the end of the Jewish age and its religion with man-made temples. The gospel of the kingdom gradually diminished with the passing of the apostles and what remained was the gospel of grace, which eventually was extended to Jews.

 

 

 

How long was the gospel of the kingdom preached?

 

(Mar 1:14)  Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Mark 1:14 is immediately after Jesus’ baptism by John and the forty days of temptation in the wilderness. Jesus returned to Galilee and began preaching the gospel of the kingdom to Jews from the beginning of His earthly ministry to its end, even beginning His ministry with the declaration of…

(Mar 1:15 NASB)  …. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

 

 

In Matthew 24:1-28, Jesus is describing what the disciples can expect to see and experience just prior to and immediately after the destruction of the Jewish temple and the end of the Jewish nation. It is in this context that Jesus says…

(Mat 24:14 NASB)  “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

And…

(Mar 13:10 NASB)  “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

 

This was accomplished by the disciples who were commissioned to preach the gospel of the kingdom to Jews in all of  the known world, the nations known to the apostles outside of Jerusalem.

 

(Mat 28:19 NASB)  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

(Mat 28:20 NASB)  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

In fulfilment of Jesus’ command, the gospel of the kingdom, supplemented with news of Jesus’ crucifixion death and resurrection was preached to Jews all over the known world, beginning in Jerusalem with Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost. Mark established the church in Alexandria, Egypt. Peter preached the gospel in Syria, Israel and Italy, and possibly Egypt. Andrew went to what is today western Russia, preaching the gospel in Greece and also Syria. Matthew (and also Simon the Zealot) went to Persia (today’s Iran) and also Ethiopia, where he was martyred.

Philip preached the gospel in northern Africa and much of what is known today as Turkey (Asia Minor). Bartholomew also went to Armenia and Asia Minor. Thomas is said to have preached the gospel in Syria and as far as eastern India. John the Revelator was banished to the Isle of Patmos, from which the Revelation was penned. And then the end came, the end of the Jewish temple and religion.

Since Jesus was the final sacrifice for sin, the destruction of the temple meant that God’s acceptance of animal sacrifices would also end. Thus, the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom ended with the end of the temple made by hands, because a new temple was being built, the temple built by and consisting of individual believers and the corporate body of Christ (1 Cor 3:16, 2 Cor 6:16, Eph 2:22, 1 Pet 2:5).

 

 

 

Gospel Of Grace

 

While Peter continued preaching the gospel of the kingdom to Jews supplemented by the recent event of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Paul preached the gospel of the kingdom to Jews (Acts 2:25) and the ‘gospel of the grace of God’ to non-Jews (Acts 20:24).

 

(Act 20:24 NASB)  “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

(Act 20:25 NASB)  “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.

 

Notice that he once had went about preaching the kingdom, but in context, was now preaching the gospel of grace.

 

 

The gospel of the kingdom was expected in fulfilment of Old Testament but Paul’s gospel came from direct revelation from God.

Speaking to Jews, John the Baptist said….

(Mat 3:3 NASB)  For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'”

 

Speaking to Jews, Jesus said….

(Joh 5:39 NASB)  “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;

 

(Luk 24:44 NASB) Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

 

 

In contrast, Paul’s gospel was received directly from God. Speaking to non-Jews, Paul said.…

 

(Gal 1:11 NASB)  For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

(Gal 1:12 NASB)  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Paul also calls this the ‘grace of Christ’ (Gal 1:6) and alternatively, “my gospel” (Rom 2:16, 16:25 2 Tim 2:8), the ‘gospel of God’ (Rom 1:1, 15:16), the ‘gospel of His Son (Rom 1:9), the ‘gospel of Christ’ (Rom 1:16, 15:29).

The gospel of grace included the death (for sins), burial and resurrection of Jesus. Unlike the gospel of the kingdom, which had no crucifixion and resurrection components, Paul declares that he preaches

(1Co 1:23 NASB) but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

(1Co 2:2 NASB) For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

 

And Paul specifies a resurrection component in his gospel in 2 Timothy 2:8.

(2Ti 2:8 NASB) Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,

 

Obviously, this is not the gospel Jesus was preaching. Thus far, we can see from the scriptures that there was a gospel of the kingdom directed exclusively to Jews, and there is the gospel of grace, based on Jesus’ crucifixion death for sins and subsequent resurrection directed to the entire world.

 

 

Notice that Paul reminds the Corinthians that the gospel he preached to them should be held fast to in order to bring about salvation.

(1Co 15:1 NASB) Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,

(1Co 15:2 NASB) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

 

There is no kingdom gospel being preached in 1 Cor 15:1-4.  There is no mention of Jesus as Messiah inaugurating the kingdom of God in Himself and in those who follow Him.  Paul is speaking to Corinthians who were non-Jews. This gospel had everything to do with Jesus’ crucifixion for sins and resurrection.

The good news of the kingdom was preached to Jews first by John the Baptist, Jesus and later, the apostles up to their deaths, all (with the exception of John on Patmos) dying in martyrdom before 70AD. The good news was preached to non-Jews by Paul, the gospel of Jesus’ death for sins, burial and resurrection. Both are the ‘gospel’ (good news) to each respective group of people.

 

 

 

Rejoinders:

 

Romans 1:16

 

Those who deny a dual-gospel understanding in the New Testament will often quote Romans 1:16 as evidence of there being only one gospel. Let’s take a closer look at it.

 

(Rom 1:16)  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

 

The word ‘gospel’ literally means ‘good news’, so the ‘good news’ to Jews prior to 70AD was the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel to both Jews and non-Jews after 70AD was the gospel of grace, that Jesus died for their sins and rose from the dead, evidence of being the living hope of forgiveness for all who repent and believe on Him.

 

That the gospel is defined as the ‘power of God for salvation for everyone who believes’ is not defining a single gospel message being the power of God, but rather, the good news of the kingdom as well as the good news of the grace of God.

 

 

Galatians 1:6-8

 

Other verses commonly used to defend a ‘one gospel’ view are….

 

(Gal 1:6-8)  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

 

Those who appeal to Galatians 1:6-8 to support a ‘one gospel’ view simply haven’t exegeted the surrounded text to see what is being talked about. Those who were troubling the Galatians were Judaizers attempting to infiltrate the church and bring Christians under the heavy legalistic yoke of Judaism. Pertaining to this, Paul says…

 

(Gal 2:4 NASB)  But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.

 

The threat of Judaist infiltration was so great that in response to the early church being plagued with forged epistles authored by Judaizers, Paul reminds some of the churches he writes to that his epistle bears the mark of his own hand.

 

(2Th 3:17 NASB)  I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.

Also…

(Gal 6:11 NASB)  See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.

 

Even the emphasis of the ‘first day of every week’ (which today we call ‘Sunday’) may have been used to cement his identity to the text, thereby differentiating between the Judaizer’s texts and authentic, Pauline texts. Forged or otherwise fraudulent Judiast texts would likely have not made references to a resurrection.

 

(1Co 16:2 NASB)  On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

 

In Galatians 1:6-8, Paul is warning the Galatians about the ‘different gospel’ that he equates with actually not being a gospel at all when he says “….to a different gospel– not that there is another one…”

 

Paul is not making a blanket statement that there has never been and is no other gospel, but is referring to a specific problem the Galatians were facing with Judaist infiltrators. Paul knew there were multiple gospels being preached in the first century. We know this because he himself distinguished between preaching the kingdom to Jews (Acts 20:25) and the gospel of grace to non-Jews (Acts 20:24). We see another differentiation between the two gospels in….

 

(Gal 2:7 KJV)  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

 

Two gospels. One of the uncircumcision (non-Jews) and one gospel ‘of the circumcision’ (Jews).

 

Paul says in Galatians 2:2….

 

(Gal 2:2 NASB)  It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

 

If there was only one gospel for both Jews and non-Jews, why would Paul need to specify the gospel he preaches ‘among the Gentiles’ ?

 

As we have seen from multiple scriptures within their proper context, there was a gospel to the Jews before and for a limited time, after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, and there is today a gospel to both Jews and non-Jews that has endured past 70AD. Today, it is this gospel, Paul’s gospel that should be preached far and wide.

 

 

Notable differences between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace.

 

The gospel of the kingdom did not include the crucifixion death (for sins) and resurrection of Jesus when Jesus and the disciples preached it since Jesus had not been crucified and resurrected yet. Peter includes it though in his preaching on the day of Pentecost, the first time during this transitional period that it would be preached to Jews as way to verify Jesus’ identity as Messiah.

The earliest Jewish Christian converts were saved by repentance of unbelief in Jesus as Messiah and baptism (like John the Baptist’s ministry). The later, Gentile (non-Jewish) converts were saved by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus based on His crucifixion death and resurrection.

 

The gospel of the kingdom was the identification of the Messiah (Jesus) with the kingdom of God in Him.

The gospel of grace is defined primarily by the crucifixion death (for sins) and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is what Paul preached to non-Jews.

 

The gospel of the kingdom was proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus, the Twelve and the Seventy-Two.

The gospel of grace was proclaimed by Paul.

 

The gospel of the kingdom was preached only to Jews.

The gospel of grace was preached primarily to non-Jews though Jews were included later.

 

Early Jewish believers who believed the gospel of the kingdom retained zealous torah keeping (Acts 21:20).

Early Gentile believers who believed the gospel of grace had a limited set of torah requirements (Acts 15:20,29).

 

The gospel of the kingdom brought forgiveness through repentance, faith, baptism and good works (John the Baptist’s ministry).

The gospel of grace brings forgiveness through repentance from sin (including unbelief) and faith with obedience being evidence thereof.

 

 

 

Amazing Parallels from the Gospel of John and The Revelation

What follows are a selection of parallels between the gospel of John and the Revelation. Besides the sheer volume of them, what makes them so spectacular is that they correspond to the respective place in both texts (first chapter of John, first chapter of the Revelation…etc etc).
Chapter and verse designations were not part of first century biblical texts and yet both texts flow seamlessly and independently while sharing these remarkable parallelisms. Sometimes they correspond with an exactness that defies human explanation, as in the case of John 6:15 and Rev 6:15.
At the very least, this phenomenon clearly supports the author of the gospel of John as the author of the Revelation, John the apostle. It also suggests that John penned the Revelation around his gospel narrative, supplementing it with the abundant (over 500) references to Old Testament verses and imagery.
John 1:5 Jesus is “the Light (that) shines in darkness”
Rev 1:16 The face of Jesus “shines like the sun”
John 1:14 “We beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father”
Rev 1:5-6 “Jesus Christ…the firstborn from the dead…to Him be glory“
In John 1:23 John the Baptist introduces the earthly Jesus just before going to prison, saying “I am the voice of one crying, ‘In the wilderness’”
In Rev 1:10, John the Apostle is on the prison island of Patmos, introducing the heavenly Jesus as one who he…. “heard … a loud voice, as of a trumpet,”
In John 1:42 Jesus gives Peter a new name: “Cephas, which is translated, ‘a stone’ or “rock”. In Rev 2:17, Jesus gives genuine believers a stone and a new name.
“To him who overcomes…I will give a white stone, and on the stone a new name”
(‘Stone’ in John 1:42 is ‘cephas’ which means ‘rock’. ‘Stone’ in Rev 2:17 is ‘psephos’, which is a small, rounded pebble used for legal decisions in a court of law, a black ‘psephos’ for guilty, a white ‘psephos’ for innocent.)
In John 2:17 Jesus purges the temple: “Zeal for Your house will consume Me”
In Rev 3:19 Jesus purifies His church: “Be zealous therefore, and repent”
John begins with Jesus’ correcting some in the temple. (John 2:14-17).
The Revelation begins with Jesus correcting some of the churches (Rev 2-3)
John reports that Jesus knew all men and all that is in them. In the Revelation, Jesus says to the churches that He searches the minds and hearts (all that is in men). Note the near exactness of the verse numbers.
John 2:24-25 “Jesus…knew all men…for He Himself knew what was in man“
Rev 2:23 “all the churches shall know that I (Jesus) am He who searches the minds and hearts“
In John, men who do evil hate Jesus and are corrected. In the Revelation, Jesus loves those whom He corrects. Again, a nearly exact verse match.
John 3:20 “he who does evil hates the light…lest his deeds be reproved“
Rev 3:19 “as many as I love I reprove”
In John, the friend of the bridegroom stands and hears him (the bridegroom). In the Revelation, Jesus (the bridegroom) is standing and those who hear His voice dine with Him.
John 3:29 “the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice “
Rev 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door…if anyone hears My voice…I will come in to him and dine with him”
From John…
John 4:23 “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”
In the Revelation…
Rev 4:9-10 “Whenever the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne…the twenty-four elders fall down…and worship Him”
From John “the hour is coming, and now is”
In the Revelation “Whenever…”
From John “…true worshipers…”
In the Revelation “…the four living creatures…. the twenty-four elders”.
From John “…will worship the Father in spirit and truth”.
In the Revelation “…give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne.”
A contrast. From John, Jesus has no honor among His own. In the Revelation, He receives blessing and honor forever.
John 4:44 “For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country”
Rev 4:11; 5:12-13 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive…honor…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive…honor…Blessing and honor…to the Lamb forever and ever”
Another contrast. From John 5:23, all should honor the Son. In the Revelation, the Son is honored by all.
John 5:23 “the Father has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father“
Rev 5:13 “And every creature…I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb“
From John, John the Baptist was a burning lamp, while in the Revelation, the Holy Spirit is described as seven lamps.
John 5:35 John the Baptist “was a burning…lamp“
Rev 4:5 “seven lamps of fire burning…the seven spirits of God”
In John 6:7-9, Jesus provides for those who follow Him, while in the Revelation, the third horseman of the apocalypse provides famine. Jesus uses an abundance of food to symbolize spiritual provision, while the third horseman uses material items to symbolize a lack of spiritual provision. Nearly an exact correspondence between the two texts.
John 6:7-9 “Two hundred denarii worth of bread…five barley loaves”
Rev 6:6 “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius”
Jesus goes to a mountain to avoid the crowd who wanted Him to be king, while in the Revelation, those who are hostile to the King hide under a mountain. Note the exact verse correspondence of the verse numbers.
John 6:15 “when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew to the mountain by Himself“
Rev 6:15 “the kings…the great men…rich men… commanders…mighty men…hid themselves in the mountains”
From John, the sea is stirred and God sets His seal on His Son. In the Revelation, judgment in the form of a mighty storm does not come to the earth until the church has been sealed.
John 6:18, 27 “And the sea was stirred…a great wind was blowing…for this one has God the Father sealed“
Rev 7: 1-3 “so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea…until we have sealed the servants of God”
From John, those who come to Jesus will never hunger or thirst. In the Revelation, those in heaven never hunger or thirst.
John 6:35 “He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst “
Rev 7:16 “they shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore”
From John, those who believe will as a result, have living water flowing from them, figurative of the Holy Spirit. In the Revelation, those who believe will be led to springs of the water of eternal life (God Himself, Jer 2:13) and thirst no more.
John 7:38 “…. rivers of living water will flow from him….”
Rev 7:17 He “will lead them to springs of the water of life”
From John, the repentant see but the wicked (Pharisees) do not hear. In the Revelation, the wicked do not repent from idols which neither see nor hear.
John 9:25, 27 “Though I was blind, now I see…I told you (the Pharisees)…and you did not hear“
Rev 9:20 The wicked did not repent from their idols “which can neither see nor hear”
From John, Jesus speaks to those whom He knows and who follow Him. In the Revelation, a voice speaks to John.
John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”
Rev 10:4, 8, 9 “I heard a voice from heaven…Then the voice which I heard…spoke…and said, ‘Go…’ So I went…
From John, religious leaders were concerned about the ministry of Jesus taking away their place. In the Revelation, no place was found in heaven for those who follow satan.
John 11:48 “if all men believe in Him…they will take away our place “
Rev 12:8 “and no place was found for them in heaven”
From John, the cost of following Jesus is to not love one’s life. In the Revelation, those who have followed Jesus did not love their life and lost it.
John 12:25 “He who loves his life will lose it… “
Rev 12:11 “…they did not love their lives to death “
From John, a thunderous voice from heaven is heard and satan will be cast out of heaven. In the Revelation, satan is cast out of heaven and a voice accompanied by thunder is heard.
John 12:28-31 “then a voice came from heaven…the people who heard…said it thundered. Others said an angel spoke… ‘Now the ruler of this world (satan) will be cast out.’”
Rev 12:9-10 “and Satan, who deceives the whole world…was cast to the earth, and his angels…and I heard a loud voice in heaven… ‘Now has come salvation.’” “there were…thunderings” (11:19)
From John, Jesus is lifted up on the cross while in the Revelation, He is lifted up to heaven at His ascension.
John 12:32 Jesus says: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself”
Rev 12:5 “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne”
From John, Judas controlled the purse, should “buy those things that we need” Judas challenges: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold…?” (12:5) while in the Revelation, satan controls who buys and sells.
(Joh 13:29) ….because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor.
(Rev 13:17) and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
From John, Jesus teaches that those who love Him will also keep His commandments. In the Revelation, saints keep His commandments.
John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments “
Rev 14:12 “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments “
John 15:1-6 “I am the Vine, you are the branches…If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown out as a branch and is dried up, and they gather them and throw them into the fire“
Rev 14: 15, 18-19 “the harvest of the earth was dried up…and another angel who had authority over fire… called… ‘gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ And the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine…and threw it into the winepress”
Corresponding one verse apart, Jesus teaches that the Holy Spirit will….
John 16:8 “…. judge of sin, righteousness, and judgment “
From the Revelation, the altar in heaven says of God…
Rev 16:7 “true and righteous are Your judgments “
From John, Jesus overcomes the world. In the Revelation, Jesus overcomes those who are hostile to Him.
John 16:33 “I (Jesus) have overcome the world….”
In the Revelation…
Rev 17:14 “….the Lamb will overcome them”
Corresponding only one verse apart, Jesus calls Judas the ‘son of perdition’ in John 17:12. In Revelation 17:11, the beast goes “to perdition”.
(John 17:12 KJV) While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
(Rev 17:11 KJV) And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
From John, Jesus refers to those whom the Father has given to Him from the ‘foundation of the world’. In the Revelation, there are also those whose names have not been written in the book of life ‘from the foundation of the world’.
John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me…from the foundation of the world“
Rev 17:8 “And those whose name had not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world“
From John, Jesus has a cup symbolizing His death for sin. In the Revelation, the harlot has a cup filled with evil.
John 18:11 “….the cup which My Father has given…..”
Rev 18:6 (Rev 18:6) “….the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her.”
Also 17:4 (Rev 17:4) ….a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality”
From John, Pilate asks “What is truth”. In the Revelation, Jesus is called “Faithful and True”.
John 18:38 “Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’”
Rev 19:11 “and He…was called ‘Faithful and True‘
From John, Roman guards clothe Jesus in a purple robe before His crucifixion, mocking His royalty. In the Revelation, the harlot dresses herself in purple, usurping royalty reserved for God.
John 19:2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him;
Rev 18:16 saying, “…. who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet…”
From John, Jesus is wearing a crown of thorns and dressed in royal attire. In the Revelation, Jesus is wearing ‘many diadems’ (an adornment signifying royalty) and His attire is a robe dipped in blood.
John 19:5 “Jesus therefore came out wearing the crown of thorns and a purple robe…Behold, the Man!”
Rev 19:11 “behold…He who was called Faithful and True…and on His head were many diadems, and His robe was dipped in blood”
From John, Pilate sits on a judgment seat and judges Jesus. In the Revelation, Jesus sits on the throne and judges all.
John 19:13 Pilate “sat upon the judgment seat” to “judge” (18:31)
Rev 20:11-13 “I saw a great white throne, and He who sat upon it…judged every man”
From John, Jesus’ is entitled “king of the Jews” in mockery. In the Revelation, Jesus is entitled “King of kings and Lord of lords” in majesty.
John 19:19 “Pilate wrote a title…it was written, ‘JESUS OF NAZARETH. THE KING OF THE JEWS.’”
Rev 19:16 “On His outer garment…a name was written, ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’”
From John, Jesus’ outer garments were removed at His crucifixion. In the Revelation, Jesus’ title of “King of kings’ is written on His outer garments.
John 19:23 “when they crucified Jesus, they took His outer garments“
Rev 19:16 “On his outer garment…a name was written, ‘KING OF KINGS’”
From John…
John 20:15 “Jesus said… ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’”
In the Revelation…
Rev 21:4 “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes”
A contrast. From John, Jesus ascends to heaven. In the Revelation, Jesus descends from heaven.
John 20:17 “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold to me yet, for I have not yet ascended to My Father…to My God and your God.’”
Rev 21: 2 “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…”
From John, Jesus encouraging belief. In the Revelation, Jesus punishing the fearful and unbelieving.
John 20:27 “Be not unbelieving but believing”
Rev 21:8 “But the fearful and unbelieving….“
From John, Jesus tells Peter to…
John 21:15″Feed my lambs“
In the Revelation, Jesus is at….
Rev 19:9 “the wedding supper of the Lamb”
John attests to the truth of his writing. In the Revelation, Jesus attests to the truth of His words.
John 21:24 “this is the disciple who…wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true“
Rev 21:5 “And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true”
A few additional examples corresponding by topic, not by verse number.
(Joh 6:35) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst
(Rev 7:16) “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore…..”
(Joh 1:14) And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(Rev 19:13) He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
(Joh 4:14) “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
(Rev 21:6) “….I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”

Matthew Chapter 24: A Commentary

All material henceforth may be copied and reproduced or otherwise shared with others in portions no greater than 500 words.

Introduction:

There is a vacuum of knowledge of history in the modern church. For a large segment of the modern church, this vacuum has been filled with an end-time narrative….a narrative that is motivated by fear, popularized by hype, divides the body like a sword and clung to with desperation.

Many people appeal to Matthew chapter 24 as if it is describing those times just prior to Jesus’ return. In spite of futurist assumptions that are often read into its text, the text itself explicitly shows that Matt 24:1-28 was intended for Jesus’ audience, those…

(Mat 24:16)  ….who are in Judea must flee to the mountains

It is an historical fact that prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and religion, Christians fled Jerusalem and many settled in Pella, located in a mountainous region to the north-northeast of Jerusalem. Early Christian historian Eusebius reported that…

“The members of the Jerusalem church by means of an oracle, given by revelation to acceptable persons there were ordered to leave the city before the war began and settle in a town in Perea called Pella.”  Eusibius, History Of The Church, 5:3-4

The text shows that the events described in Matt 24:1-28 take place during a time Pharisaic Judaism is observed…

(Mat 24:20)  “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

During that time, and consistent with the Pharisees observing the prohibition of travel on the Sabbath per Exodus 16:29, the gates to the city would have been closed. This would have made travel difficult in any season. However, there was a “Sabbath day’s journey” (Acts 1:12), approved travel which was limited to 2,000 cubits (about 7.5 furlongs, or a little over half a mile). When Jesus was answering the disciple’s two questions of Matt 24:3, He was on the Mount of Olives, which is 5 furlongs from the temple, well within a “Sabbath day’s journey”, the lawful distance one could travel on the Sabbath.

Since Titus had built a barricade around Jerusalem, this relatively short distance would not have helped Jerusalem’s residents escape the Roman legions that surrounded the city, which explains Jesus’ warning the disciples in advance.  Luke adds Jesus’ prediction of….

(Luk 19:43)  “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,

And later, to the disciples…

(Luk 21:20)  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

This actually happened in 70AD, just as Jesus predicted. See Josephus, War, book v. chap. 22. sec. 1, 2, 3.

The text shows that the events would be seen by the disciples….

(Mat 24:33 KJV) So likewise ye, when YE SHALL SEE all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (caps mine for emphasis)

Jesus said those things were to happen “here”. Where was “here”?
(Mat 24:1)  Jesus came out from THE TEMPLE and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. (caps mine for emphasis)

Jesus had just left the temple but was likely not out of the immediate temple area. “Here” would have been the entire temple compound where He said…

(Mat 24:2)  ….. “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.” (caps mine for emphasis)
And the text shows that it was the disciple’s generation that would see “these” things…

(Mat 24:34)  “Truly I say to you, THIS GENERATION will not pass away until all THESE THINGS take place.

The text itself clearly indicates what, where and when the events Jesus was talking about were to happen and who they would directly affect; the temple at Jerusalem, and signs predicting its destruction made evident to first century disciples.

Some people have gone to great lengths to try to show that “all these things” have not occurred yet. Surely there has never been…

(Mat 24:21)  “….a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.”

The person who makes this type of appeal is reading a twenty-first century western worldview into a first century Jewish text. To a modern reader, the worst tribulation we can imagine may be the stuff of disaster movies….A huge asteroid impacting earth; a massive earthquake that levels every structure worldwide and causes mile high ocean waves. There are many who would claim that any imagined disaster could be greater than what happened to Jerusalem in 70AD. From the perspective of our modern, western worldview, they would be correct.

What about from a first century Jewish perspective? To a first century Jew, the greatest tribulation that could ever be experienced by a Jew at that time would have been the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and their religion resulting in world-wide persecution that would last at least 1,970 years. From a first century Jewish perspective, no greater catastrophe could happen.

It is notable that nowhere in eschatological scriptures does Jesus weep for those who are unrepentant, those who are judged and who will suffer in a fiery hellish torment. Neither does He weep for the prophesied end of the world known to the apostles (Mic 1:4, 2 Pet 3:7, 10-12). However, the scriptures do show that Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) and only for Jerusalem, knowing that it would soon be destroyed.

(Luk 19:41)  When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,

While looking at Jerusalem, Jesus said…

(Luk 19:44)  and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Some may appeal to the remarkable similarity in events described in Matthew chapter 24 and the Seven Seals in the Revelation which suggests a future fulfillment. However, this commentary will take a closer look at the text and at history to show that Matt 24:1-28 and Matt 24:29-31 (the return of the Lord Jesus Christ) has already happened and Revelation chapter 6 is describing those same events.

The view put forth here is full preterism. It is a-millennial yet it incorporates an historical, preterist interpretation of selected scriptures (Dan 9:26-27 & Matt 24:1-31) that have long been considered futurist but now are being examined in their proper historical context.

Matt 24:1-28 and the Parable of the Fig Tree were the answer to the disciple’s first question in Matt 24:3 of “When will these things happen?” pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem, including the Jewish temple.

In answer to the disciple’s second question of “What will be the sign of Your coming?” Jesus answered with Matt 24:29-31 which pertains to His return. He then understated His answer to their second question with the following several parables and analogies about His return being unexpected and that it should be prepared for.

The Master of the House (Matt 24:43),

The Faithful Slave and the Evil Slave (Matt 24:45-51),

The Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1-13),

The Talents (Matt 25:14-30),

The Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:32-46)

…and the Porter. Not found in Matthew, the parable of the Porter is found in (Mar 13:34-37).

Contributing to the chaos of modern day pop-eschatology is a popular misinterpretation of Dan 9:24-27 upon which the belief of an unfulfilled 70 weeks (490 years) prophecy and a supposed ‘seven year tribulation’ is based. However, there is no ‘seven year tribulation’ mentioned in all of Dan 9:24-27. There is no ‘antichrist’ in Dan 9:27. There is also no ‘seven year peace treaty’ between the supposed antichrist and Israel (an alleged treaty that an alleged antichrist supposedly breaks). And finally, there is no ‘rebuilt Jewish temple’ mentioned in the text.

As we will see, such concepts amount to little more than ‘Christian mythology’ and fear-mongering. Additional concepts that fit into this same category are the much feared micro-chip implants (being the mark of the beast), the Illuminati conspiracy, the Bilderberger and Rothschild conspiracies,  the Jade Helm exercise, a sinister one-world government out to get everybody (led by a rogue US government), jet contrails being chemicals dumped on unsuspecting masses, a revived Roman Empire, a Papal antichrist, a European antichrist and among various other notions, the very recent (1830) concept of a pre-tribulation rapture where God beams Christians off the face of the earth at the first sign of persecution and more recently, the “blood moons” and “Shemitah”.

Adding to the hysteria that modern legacy dispensationalist Christians participate in are those who sound the alarm at the first sign of an epidemic, a comet or asteroid that passes earth relatively near, a massive storm, earthquake, fish die-off, wars, rumors of wars or an increase in false prophets. They will turn to Matthew chapter 24, declare that Jesus is surely coming soon and invoke prayers to be removed from the earth in a ‘pre-tribulation rapture’. Such modern day Christian mythologizing keeps the church entertained, and in a state fear, in spite of Jesus’ command to…

(Mat 24:6)  “…..See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

A closer look at Dan 9:24-27 better supports the view that the 70 weeks prophecy is looking forward not to the antichrist, but to the Messiah and the judgment on the Jewish nation. Dan 9:24-27 is referring to the death of the Messiah (vs 26) and subsequent destruction of Jerusalem (vs 27) and the ‘desolation’ of the Jewish city, religion and people (vs 27), an event Jesus told the disciples to recognize in…

(Luk 21:20)  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

In Matthew chapter 24, the deceptions, wars, famines, diseases, death and persecution of genuine believers all took place just as Jesus predicted. Jesus’ answer to the disciple’s questions is describing to them what to watch for and what to do when they see it, not as warning signs of His return, but warning to get out of Jerusalem so that they could survive to preach the gospel to the world they knew.

Why would Jesus tell first century Jews to look for something that twenty-first century Christians believe is in the future? The answer to this question is that Jesus was not telling them about far-future events in Luke 21:20 and Matt 24:1-31, but of near future events that would occur within their generation.  What follows is some of the evidence that supports this view.

 

Matt 24:1-2

(Mat 24:1)  Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.

(Mat 24:2)  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.”

“…all these things…”   Jesus is referring to the Jewish temple buildings.

Matt 24:3
(Mat 24:3)  As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
While speaking to the disciples on the Mount of Olives in Matt 24:2, Jesus warned the disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem and answered their question pertaining to His return. Matt 24:4-28 was His answer to their first question of…

…. “Tell us, when will these things happen? (Matt 24:3)….while Matt 24:29-31 was His answer to their second question of “…..and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

After warning the disciples of what was soon to happen, and briefly about His return, Jesus then taught with parables and analogies that understated both of His answers. Matt 24:32-35 confirmed the predicted destruction of the city and temple which happened 70AD happening at the time period of His return in judgement, while Matt 24:29-51 confirmed the details of His return.

Matt 24:4-5

(Mat 24:4)  And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.

(Mat 24:5)  “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

One particular deception Jesus referred to in verse five was the expectation of divine deliverance, a political-military Messiah that would rescue the Jewish nation from Roman occupation.

(Mat 24:26)  “So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the desert,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.

From the Jewish historian Josephus, we learn that there were many who pretended to be divinely inspired. Deceiving the people, they led many of them into the desert and ultimately, to their deaths.

Josephus says “The land was overrun with magicians, seducers, and impostors, who drew people after them in multitudes into deserts to see the signs and miracles which they promised to show by the power of God”.

Among these are mentioned Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses; Simon Magus, pretended to be the great power of God (Acts 8:9-10); and Theudas, who persuaded many to go with him to the river Jordan, to see the waters divided. The Lord, therefore, took great pains that His own disciples should not share this deception.

Jesus continued this sort of warning down to the end of verse fourteen, cautioning them also that they were not to take such things as wars, rumors of wars, famines, diseases, and earthquakes as signs of His coming.

Jesus provided many signs of certain judgment to come upon Jerusalem, the temple and the Jewish people, like those described in Matt 24:1-28. Except for the days being like “the days of Noah” (verse 37) and “of Lot” (Luke 17:28-30), Jesus gave no specific signs and no time frame for His return. Rather, pertaining to His return, He said…

(Mat 24:36)  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

Those who interpret Matthew chapter 24:1-28 as signs of end time disasters occurring just prior to the Lord’s return are being misled (verse 4) and are disobeying Jesus (by being fearful vs 6).

Matt 24:6

(Mat 24:6)  “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.

“…wars and rumors of wars.”

Those things did take place. During the time leading up to 70AD, there were numerous rumors spreading throughout the region…One of which involved Roman emperor Caligula raising a huge army in order to enforce requirements imposed on Jewish farmers.

Skirmishes going on between Jews and Romans, Jews and Syrians and others were numerous and well known throughout the region.  Jews and those of other nations who dwelled in the same cities together with them slaughtered one another. At Caesarea the Jews and Syrians fought over the right to the city, which ended in the total expulsion of the Jews and more than 20,000 killed.

At Scythopolis, Syrians murdered upwards of 13,000. At Ascalon they killed 2,500. At Ptolemais they killed 2,000 and made many prisoners. The Tyrians also put many Jews to death, and imprisoned more. The people of Gadara did likewise, and all the other cities of Syria in proportion, as they hated or feared the Jews.

At Alexandria the Jews and heathens fought, and 50,000 of the Jews were killed. The people of Damascus conspired against the Jews of that city, and assaulting them unarmed, killed 10,000. (Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible).

“…See to it that you are not frightened…..”

Jesus is reassuring them that they (the disciples) should not be frightened of such rumors. They would not die on account of these wars. Set in the same context, Luke adds.…

(Luke 21:18)  “Yet not a hair of your head will perish.

Jesus also said, “but that is not yet the end” (vs 6)….Not the end of the world, but the end of the Jewish religion.

The eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the temple would not immediately follow those wars and rumors of wars, so they should not use those events as signs of the end or of His return.  Other signs would warn them when it is time to get out and flee the city and from Judea. Around 40 years would come to pass before the end would come. Until that time, the Jewish nation itself would disintegrate from within, beginning with the animosity between Jewish moderates and the Zealots.

Zealots were obstinate, vicious and prideful Jews, savage in their attempts to extricate the Jewish people from the iron grasp of the Roman Empire.

During this time the Zealots responded viciously to all, including other Jews, who did not join their cause and without regard for civility and law. They were the Jewish jihadists of their day. Their lawlessness led to warring against each other, robbing and murdering any who opposed them, thereby harming their own mission of unifying the Jewish state and freeing itself from Roman rule. Theirs was a cause steeped in futility, charged by nationalism, united in religion…and doomed to fail.

Disputes began in people’s homes about which Jewish party to support. These disputes soon divided families and communities and later entire cities were in an uproar, its Jewish residents committing violence upon each other for the cause of the Zealots or that of the moderates.

It was a time of utter lawlessness and chaos. Murders, thefts and all manner of immorality going on, perpetrated mostly by the Zealots, those who were the most active in warring against Rome.

Matt 24:7

(Mat 24:7)  “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

The Jewish nation burned and plundered the neighboring cities and villages of the Syrians, killing a great number of the people. The Syrians, in return, destroyed not a less number of the Jews.

Four years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, a war broke out between Herod and Aretas, king of Arabia. This was the beginning of “kingdom against kingdom” and “nation against nation”. Examples abound.

Many Jews left Babylon on account of a great pestilence (disease), and went to Selucia, whereupon the Greeks and Syrians killed 50,000 of them, one of the greatest slaughters in Jewish history.

Five years later, another conflict resulting in a massacre of the Jews occurred between the Jews at Perea and the Philadelphians. Later, 10,000 Jews died in a mass stampede when a Roman army approached.

In Cesarea, 20,000 Jews were massacred in battles against the Cesareans, 2,000 more in Ptolamais.  In Damascus, 10,000 were slaughtered in a single hour. In Scythopolis, 13,000 overnight.  At Alexandria, 20,000 Jews were killed by Roman soldiers, 8,000 in Joppa. Many more were slaughtered all over Syria, Greece and anywhere the Jews tried to settle. Repeatedly they tried to re-establish their hostility toward Roman occupation, and they were massacred repeatedly.

“…famines and earthquakes…”

There was a famine foretold by Agabus (Acts 11:28), which is mentioned by the historians Tacitus, Suetonius, and Eusebius; which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar, and was so severe in Jerusalem, Josephus says, that many people perished for lack of food. Four times in the reign of Claudius famine prevailed in Rome, Palestine, and Greece (from Barnes Notes on the Bible).

There were several earthquakes in those times. One at Crete in the reign of Claudius, one at Smyrna, Miletus and at Chios. There was an earthquake at Rome, one at Laodicea in the reign of Nero, in which the city was overthrown, as were Hierapolis and Colosse. Another at Rome in the reign of Galba, and a dreadful one in Judea mentioned by Josephus accompanied by a dreadful tempest, violent winds, violent showers, and continual lightning and thunders; which led many to believe that these things signaled some uncommon calamity (from Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible).

Those who turn to Matthew chapter 24 as if it is predicting natural disasters to occur just prior to Jesus’ return are in fact imposing a western, twentieth century interpretation on a Jewish, first century text.

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg.10, says, pertaining to the famines, earthquakes and pestilences….

“Both Tacitus and Suetonius have given an account that similar calamities prevailed, about this time in various parts of the Roman Empire. After Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of Titus, pestilential diseases soon made their appearance in the city, to aggravate the miseries and increase the horrors of the siege, which were partly occasioned by the immense multitudes which were crowded together in the city and by the putrid effluvia which arose from the unburied dead and from the prevalence of famine. History bears testimony, that earthquakes, famines and pestilence had never been more frequent, nor more remarkable than they were in those times.”

Luke adds “…and great signs from heaven…”

(Luk 21:11)  and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

There was a comet that left a trail in the shape of a sword which was visible in the sky above Jerusalem for about a year.  There were also reports of armies fighting in the clouds along with the sound of a great multitude in the clouds. This account is affirmed by the first century Roman historian Tacitus, who reported that there were armies fighting in the clouds with weapons glimmering like lightning and the temple doors had opened of their own accord and the sound of a thunderous, great voice came forth from the temple. Incidentally, this event had happened on the Day of Pentecost.

About this time, there was a prophet named Jesus (Jesus was not an uncommon name at that time) who for four years before the war began (62AD), went about the city crying out “Woe! Woe! to Jerusalem!” and “Woe! Woe to the city!, the temple and the people!” for a time of seven years and five months. It is reported that his last prophecy against Jerusalem ended with “And woe to me!” just before a huge rock from a Roman catapult hit him.

God had sent His Son Jesus with the good news of salvation and peace. But in response to the Jews’ incorrigible rejection of Him, God had sent a prophet of woes named Jesus. There was simply nothing else for a prophet to say to the Jews but to warn them about their destruction.

Matt 24:8

(Mat 24:8)  “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Birth pangs transition into painful labor which leads inexorably to the birth finale. Only this time, the birth pangs were of these events described thus far. More severe calamities were yet to come before God’s judgment on Jerusalem and the Jewish religion would be birthed.

Matt 24:9

(Mat 24:9)  “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

The Lord Jesus Christ made things very clear to the disciples many of them (or perhaps many Christians) would escape the judgment of Jews, the destruction of their temple and of Jerusalem, but they would not escape persecution violence. First century believers were saved by remaining steadfast in their faith in Jesus, even when faced with death. Pertaining to these, Jesus said…

(Mat 24:13)  “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Contrary to the popular, modern day belief that God will remove the church in a rapture so as to save it from end time persecution violence, the New Testament model for believers is to endure persecution violence, not escape from it. Once the church’s chief persecutor, the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians believers…

1Co 4:11  To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;

1Co 4:12  and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;

1Co 4:13  when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

And to the Thessalonians (who believed they were in the end times)

(2Th 1:4)  therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.

And to a young pastor named Timothy…

(2Ti 2:12)  If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

A similar admonition of remaining faithful unto death is described in the letter to the church at Smyrna…

(Rev 2:10)  ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

“…you will be hated by all nations because of My name.”

The disciples were hated by all nations because they preached the gospel everywhere they went. Mark established the church in Alexandria, Egypt. Paul established churches all over the Mediterranean coast and also visited Arabia. Peter preached the gospel in Syria, Israel and Italy, and possibly Egypt. Andrew went to what is today western Russia, preaching the gospel in Greece and also Syria. Matthew (and also Simon the Zealot) went to Persia (today’s Iran) and also Ethiopia, where he was martyred.

Philip preached the gospel in northern Africa and much of what is known today as Turkey (Asia Minor). Bartholomew also went to Armenia and Asia Minor. Thomas is said to have preached the gospel in Syria and as far as eastern India. John the Revelator was not martyred, but he did suffer torture and was banished to the Isle of Patmos, from which the Revelation was penned. All the other apostles were martyred for their faith in Christ…just as Jesus predicted in Matt 24:9.

A related passage, Mat 23:34 has Jesus warning the disciples…

“Therefore, behold, I am sending you [Jerusalem, Jews] prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, [brackets mine]

This actually happened. The disciples and other early Christians were those prophets and wise men and scribes, many of whom were crucified and killed. They were persecuted by Jews up to and after 70AD, in synagogues, courts and stadiums.

Peter and John were imprisoned (Acts 4:3), Paul and Silas were imprisoned (Acts 16:24), and also beaten (Acts 16:23).

Jesus had already assured the disciples of affliction, persecution and death on the way to a spiritual, eternal kingdom. This actually happened, just as Jesus told them

(Matt 10:17)  “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.

“…they shall deliver you to the courts…”

The Sanhedrin courts. This was fulfilled when Peter and John were brought before the council (Acts 4:5-7). And Paul was brought before Gallia (Acts 18:12), before Felix (Acts 24:24), Festes, and before Agrippa (Acts 25:23).

Jesus is reported in Luke to add…

(Luk 21:13)  “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.

(Luk 21:14)  “So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves;

(Luk 21:15)  for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

This is consistent with Jesus’ teaching in…

(Mat 10:19)  “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.

“…to be punished and to kill you…”

Stephen was stoned (Acts 7:59); James was killed by Herod (Acts 12:2), and in addition, the persecution under Nero took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, in which were put to death, with thousands of others, Peter and Paul. It is said that Peter was crucified upside down and Paul was beheaded. James the son of Alpheus was clubbed and stoned to death. Simon the Zealot was crucified.

Andrew was crucified. It is said that Thomas was run through with spears and Matthew is said to have been stabbed to death in Ethiopia. Matthias (who replaced Judas Iscariot) died by immolation (burning). John the Revelator is said to have survived being put into a boiling vat of oil, then banished to the Isle of Patmos.

Tertullian, one of the early church leaders, called it a “war against the very name”. So true were the Lord’s words, that they would be hated for his name sake.

(Matt 10:22) “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

Jesus warns them again in (Matt 24:13) “He who endures to the end will be saved”

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Matt 24:10

(Mat 24:10)  “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

“….many will fall away….”

Even late in the first century there was considerable defection in several Christian churches (Gal 3:1-4, 2 Thess. 3:1, 2 Tim. 1:15) in Asia, which is today’s Turkey (where the seven churches of Revelation were located). This apostasy was undoubtedly due to false doctrines, indifference and threat of persecution violence.

If the recent transfiguration of the UK, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France and other countries into pan-Islamic states is any indication of what is to come, then those in other rapidly secularizing, politically correct, spiritually indifferent Christian nations (like the USA, Canada and Australia) can expect the same, preparing the way for an end time apostasy on a world-wide scale.

(2Th 2:3)  Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

“…and will betray one another and hate one another.”

A parallel passage in Mark reads…

(Mark 13:12) “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.

During the time leading up to 70AD and thereafter, Christianity was turning the world upside down, becoming a threat to the Roman Empire’s cult of idolatry (emperor worship) and loyalties even within families were strained between obedience to Rome or to Christ. It was not uncommon for Christians to have been betrayed to Roman authorities or Jewish persecutors.

Matt 24:11

(Mat 24:11)  “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

This is speaking of apostasy on account of false prophets. Christians have been warned for ages about false prophets. Pertaining to the generation living at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, a time of great persecution, spiritual deception and apostasy, the Lord Jesus Christ warned the disciples about those false prophets to come.

These “false prophets” were declaring that, in the midst of persecution violence, help would come from heaven. No such help ever came. Some openly deserted the faith, as (Matt 24:10) indicates; others corrupted it, as Matt 24:11 shows, while still others grew indifferent about it, per Matt 24:12.

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg.9, says, pertaining to first century false prophets….

“Never did there appear so many false prophets, as the times that succeeded the death of our Savior, especially during the Jewish war, and under the reign of Nero.”

Some false prophets are named in the New Testament were Simon Magus, Theudas, Hymeneus, Philetus and Alexander.

This readiness to follow false prophets affirms Jesus’ statement in…

(Joh 5:43)  “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

Jesus is thus warning them not to believe the false prophets, but to expect persecution violence and to look to other events that would herald the destruction of Jerusalem, an event He alluded to in the parable of the fig tree in (Matt 24:32-34).

Matt 24:12

(Mat 24:12)  “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

By reason of these trials and persecutions from without, and those apostasies and false prophets from within, the love of many to Christ and his doctrine, and to one another, shall grow cold. Some openly deserting the faith, as Mat 24:10; others corrupting it, as Mat_24:11; and others growing indifferent about it, Mat 24:12 (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary On The Bible).

Jesus warned the disciples earlier of such times…

(Mat 10:34)  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

(Mat 10:35)  “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW;

(Mat 10:36)  and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.

In the course of the spread of the gospel, which was hostile to both the Jewish religion and the idolatry of the Roman Empire, hostility and even betrayal into the hands of Roman authorities would come from within a man’s own home.

Matt 24:13

(Mat 24:13)  “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Enduring refers to persevering in the faith even when faced with persecution. The disciples would have been familiar with this teaching, since Jesus had told this to them earlier, before sending them out to preach the kingdom of God (Matt 10:22).

This ‘endure to the end’ type of faith in the face of persecution and death is also expressed in passages like…

(Mat 10:28)  “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Rev 2:10)  ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. BE FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH, and I will give you the crown of life.

Those who endured in their faith to the end, surviving the temptation to desert from the faith, to corrupt it or become indifferent about it, were saved.

Matt 24:14

(Mat 24:14)  “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached…”

This was the gospel that Jesus preached, directed primarily to Jews. It was the gospel that the kingdom of God was identified in Jesus Christ Himself as the Son of God and Messiah. It is not the post-resurrection ‘gospel of the grace of God’ of Acts 20:24, the gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 that Paul preached.

“….the whole world….”

The term “world” in Matt 24:14 is not meaning the entire creation (kosmos) but οἰκουμένη, (oikoumenē) a regional area. The ‘whole world’” to the disciples was Southern Europe, Asia Minor (Turkey), coastal Mediterranean, Britain, Northern Africa, parts of India and the Middle East.

Paul declares that the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven (Col 1:6, 1:23); this is synecdoche, a form of speech that refers to a lesser part by emphasizing a greater part.  Paul also affirmed that the faith of the Roman believers was spoken of throughout the whole world (Romans 1:8), another instance of synecdoche; and that he preached in Arabia (Galatians 1:17), and at Jerusalem, and round about Illyricum(Romans 15:19).

Paul also traveled through Asia Minor, Greece, and Crete and was in Italy, and probably in Spain and Gaul (Romans 15:24-28). At the same time, the other apostles were not idle; and there is full proof that within thirty years after this prophecy was spoken, churches were established in all these regions “for a testimony unto all nations”.

Up to this point the blessing of revelation had been confined to the Jews during the time before Jerusalem’s destruction in 70AD. Jews were the special people of God. Initially, His message had been sent only to them. When, therefore, God sent the gospel to all other people, it was proof, or “a testimony unto them,” that the exclusively Jewish relationship with God was at an end and a new relationship with all who would believe on Him would begin.

(Joh 10:16)  “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

On the Day of Pentecost, God also warned the Jews about the coming judgment against them through the sign gift of tongues. This was prophesied in (Isaiah 28:11). Its immediate fulfillment pertained to a future Assyrian occupation where those with “stammering lips” and a “foreign tongue” (Is 28:11) would give commands to the Jews who were drunk and not listening to God’s appointed prophet.

This prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost where tongues were used as a sign gift (1 Cor. 14:22) to crowds of Jews from a multitude of nations who were gathered, listening to Peter’s first sermon.
(1Co 14:22)  So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.

The “them” are the unbelievers, the Jews. The “this people” referred to in Isaiah 28:11 were Jews.  Peter delivered the first open-air preaching sermon to thousands of Jews from all over the world. Though 3,000 Jews were saved that day, many more did not accept God’s appointed Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
After the Day of Pentecost, subsequent use of tongues was always with a Jewish person present and always for the benefit of some Jewish person or group of Jews to repent and come to faith in Jesus Christ. Tongues are not mentioned in later New Testament texts, consistent with Paul’s prediction that tongues would cease in (1 Cor 13:8). While other spiritual gifts remained, tongues ceased from the historical record after 70AD.

It is somewhat ironic that the gift of tongues, first spoken on the day of Pentecost to a diverse multitude of Jews, was met accusations of the disciples being drunk. This was exactly the condition the Jewish leaders were in when God warned them about the judgment in Isaiah 28:11, one that resulted in an Assyrian invasion.

(Isa 28:11)  Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue,

God also spoke judgment to the Jews of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost through the disciples speaking with stammering lips and foreign tongues. And Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and religion was destroyed relatively soon thereafter.

“…then the end will come”…

Not the end of the world, but the end of the Jewish nation; the destruction of the temple and the city, which Jesus had grieved over, knowing that its last hour was near.

(Mat 23:37-39)  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'”

Beginning with Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost, Peter and other disciples were sent to the Jews, while Paul, a Pharisee himself, eventually became the apostle to the Gentiles.

Jesus’ saying “your house is being left to you desolate” is referring to the house of faith, Judaism, which would become desolate in 70AD.

‘’BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ is looking forward to Jesus’ return, at which time Jews will repent and believe on the Messiah they once rejected (Zech 12:10, 13:6). Since Jesus is speaking to Jerusalem, which is the capital of national Israel, this suggests that the Lord Jesus Christ won’t return until there is a national repentance in Jerusalem or perhaps the entire Jewish state, at which time…

(Rom 11:26)  and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”

‘…all Israel…’ would be national Israel and the church, which has always been the Israel of God having its foundations in both the apostles and the prophets (Eph 2:20). Another passage about Jesus’ mourning over Jerusalem’s soon destruction, this time from Luke…

(Luke 19:41-44)  When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

This actually happened. Roman forces laying siege against Jerusalem built a barricade around Jerusalem measuring 39 furlongs (5 miles) in circumference (See Josephus, War, book v. c. 12). This was to prevent Jews from escaping alive and with their gold, jewels or other valuable belongings. Jerusalem was levelled in 70AD and a multitude of Jews were massacred, mostly by Syrians and Arabs who were incorporated into the Roman army as “provincials”.

Provincials were soldiers pressed into military service for Rome from provinces in the Roman Empire that were too far away to be effectively manned by soldiers of Roman descent. This began toward the beginning of the first century, due to reforms made by Emperor Augustus in AD15. After AD15, the only dedicated Roman units left were the Praetorian Guard, those elite soldiers whose primary duty was to protect the Emperor and generals.

Abundant historical sources affirm that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple, though the Roman army, was caused by mostly provincials, Syrians, Arabs and Persians.

First century senator and historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus wrote…

“Titus Caesar…found in Judea three legions, the fifth, the tenth, and the fifteenth…To these he added the twelfth from Syria, and some men belonging to the eighteenth and third, whom he had withdrawn from Alexandria (Egypt). This force was accompanied by a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews with the usual hatred of neighbors”

SOURCE: Tacitus, “The History”, New Ed ed., bk 5.1 Moses Hadas trans. Alfred Church and William Brodribb (New York Modern Library 2003)

Early Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus concurs with…

“So Vespasian sent his son Titus, who came by land into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings of that neighborhood”

SOURCE:  Flavius Josephus, “The Complete Works Of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem” bk 3, chapt 1, par.3

Josephus elaborates further with…

“Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers; so that the entire army, including the auxiliaries sent by the [Arabian] kings, as well as horsemen and footmen, when all were united together amounted to sixty thousand.”

SOURCE:  Flavius Josephus, “The Complete Works Of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem” bk 3, chapt 4, par.2

Modern historian Sara Elise Phang says…

“Increasingly, they [provincials] began identifying their interests with those of the provinces in which they were stationed. By AD69 [the legion known as] Gallica III, like other legions long stationed in the east, contained a very high proportion of men born in the eastern provinces.”

SOURCE:  Sara Elise Phang, “Roman Military Service: Ideologies of Discipline in the Late Republic and early Principate” (Cambridge University Press, 2008, pg 19, 57-58)

Gallica III was the name of one of the legions participating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Thus, when Dan 9:26 says…

(Dan 9:26)  “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

…the “people of the prince to come” are those who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary of the Jewish temple. They were of Arab, Syrian and Persian descent. The “prince” then, is of Arab, Persian or Syrian descent. This points firmly toward an Arab/Muslim antichrist…not a European, secular or papal antichrist.

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Matt 24:15-16

(Mat 24:15)  “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

(Mat 24:16)  then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

Jesus is reported to say in the same context, but in Luke….

(Luk 21:20)  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

The “abomination that causes desolation spoken of through Daniel the prophet” is Daniel 9:27. It says “the people of a prince yet to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary”. It was to happen sometime after Messiah was “cut off”. The abomination that caused desolation means the Roman army, as Luke explains in Luke 21:20.

(Luke 21:20) “However, when you see Jerusalem surrounded with armies, then you are to understand that she is about to be destroyed”.

He goes on to say…

(Luk 21:22)  because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.

Jesus already made clear that He was referring to Daniel chapter 9. So the “all things which are written” to be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem was all that Daniel had written.

(Luk 21:23)  “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;

The “this people” were speaking of those in Jerusalem…Jews.

(Luk 21:24)  and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Many Jews fell by the edge of a sword, thousands and thousands of them were massacred. Those who were not killed managed to make it outside of Palestine and to the surrounding regions, eventually to “all nations”. The “times of the Gentiles” began in 70AD, and continue today. Jerusalem is not exclusively Jewish but partitioned into sections. Jews cannot even pray on the temple mount (which is presently occupied by the abominable “Dome Of The Rock”) and Israel itself has been invaded by Arab Muslims, mostly in Gaza and the West Bank.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary On The Bible says…

“This abomination of desolation, St. Luke, (Luk_21:20, Luk_21:21), refers to the Roman army; and this abomination standing in the holy place is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem; this, our Lord says, is what was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in the ninth and eleventh chapters of his prophecy; and so let every one who reads these prophecies understand them; and in reference to this very event they are understood by the rabbins. The Roman army is called an abomination, for its ensigns and images, which were so to the Jews. Josephus says, (War, b. vi. chap. 6), the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over against the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there. The Roman army is therefore fitly called the abomination, and the abomination which maketh desolate, as it was to desolate and lay waste Jerusalem; and this army besieging Jerusalem is called by St. Mark, Mar_13:14, standing where it ought not, that is, as in the text here, the holy place; as not only the city, but a considerable compass of ground about it, was deemed holy, and consequently no profane persons should stand on it.”

Since Titus’ armies camped outside of Jerusalem and they would have been the first to be seen, the term “holy place” in Matt 24:15 must be referring to Jerusalem, including the area surrounding it.

Jesus is warning them about what and who is to come, the Roman army and the violence that will occur, so that they will survive to spread the gospel to the entire world. The entire world was for the disciples, what we call the Middle East, coastal Mediterranean, Northern Africa, India and Southern Europe, Britain and Asia Minor (Turkey).

From Jesus’ perspective, the greatest calamity of Israel’s history was about to happen. In around 40 years, the Jewish nation and its religion would come to an abrupt, violent end. Jesus’ death on the cross would mean the end of Old Testament system of sacrifices from God’s perspective. The destruction of Jerusalem, their temple, subsequent massacre and dispersion would mean the end of the Jewish religion from man’s perspective. All of it was about to be destroyed.

“…then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains…”

It is an historical fact that just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, Christians departed Jerusalem en-masse for the mountainous area outside of Jerusalem called Perea, to a community called Pella.

Early Christian historian Eusebius reported that…

“The members of the Jerusalem church by means of an oracle, given by revelation to acceptable persons there were ordered to leave the city before the war began and settle in a town in Perea called Pella.”  Eusibius, History Of The Church, 5:3-4

This saved them from God’s judgment on Jerusalem, but did not prevent their persecution deaths. Thus, when Luke adds  Jesus as saying, in the same context…

(Luk 21:18)  “Yet not a hair of your head will perish.

(Luk 21:19)  “By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Jesus is reassuring the disciples that the destruction that is soon to come upon Jerusalem and the Jewish religion would not be the cause of their deaths. He is not telling the disciples that they will survive the persecution that for them was yet to come but that by enduring persecution violence unto death, they would gain eternal life.

(Act 14:22)  … “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Matt 24:17

(Mat 24:17)  “Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.

The roofs of first century houses in the Middle East, Greece and Italy were flat on top, with stairs leading up to the roof from the side of the house. The roofs were usually so close together that they formed a nearly uniform structure where one could step from one roof to another. Thus, the most efficacious way of escape out of the city would be to simply leave one’s belongings in the lower part of the house and run from roof to roof towards the gate of the city.

Though some believe this portion of the text pertains to escaping a nuclear holocaust in the USA, they often fail to see that the events are centered around the “holy place” (Matt 24:15) the temple, or Jerusalem (Luke 21:20).

“Again, such instruction would scarcely make sense if the Savior had been speaking of a modern nuclear assault. But it made perfect sense in view of the fact that the houses of old Jerusalem were flat-roofed and adjacent to one another. Accordingly, Christians might proceed, via “the road of roofs,” to the edge of the city and escape” (cf. Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, p. 93)

A parallel passage to this is in Luke 17:31, though misplaced.

(Luk 17:31)  “On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back.

Luke 17:31-33 is not talking about us today, but to Jews of “that day” (vs 31). The “that day” is referring to the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and Jewish religion. It is this writer’s view that Luke 17:22-37 should have been placed in Luke chapter 21.

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Matt 24:18

(Mat 24:18)  “Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.

Another exhortation to get away from the surrounding area of Jerusalem (where a Roman army would soon encamp) and not even go back to the city to get clothing. Those who were prepared would have had sufficient clothing to insulate against the winter cold. This served to preface Jesus subsequent warning of…

(Mat 24:20)  “But pray that your flight will not be IN THE WINTER, or on a Sabbath. (Caps mine for emphasis)

Again, this is paralleled in Luke 17:31-33

(Luk 17:32)  “Remember Lot’s wife.

Remember to not turn back as Lot turned back. If they turn back to get more things, they will surely perish.

Luke adds….

(Luk 17:33) “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

This admonition is contextually linked to what is directly before it, not to turn around to try to get your things, that judgment is coming and it is as inevitable as Jesus’ return. Luke adds…

(Luk 17:33) “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

This is another admonition for the believers to not turn around and try to get their worldly belongings. Jesus spoke a very similar phrase in the context of the disciples following Jesus and evangelism in Matthew 10:36. Though misused by Christian pacifists, Luke 17:33 is not suggesting that we should allow murderous savages to take our lives without resistance.

In Matthew’s parallel account, it was referring to encouraging Christians to escape the city as soon as possible. If they turn around to get their things (Luke 17:31-33 Matt 24;18), they would lose their lives.

Matt 24:19

(Mat 24:19)  “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!

This is likely referring to the famine that the trapped occupants of Jerusalem suffered during the siege against it. Opposing Jewish rebel leaders, John of Giscala, Simon Bar Giora and Eleazer of the radical Zealots were fighting each other for control of the city, destroying the grain and other food reserves that were in the city’s storehouses.

By the time Titus arrived at Passover 70AD, Jerusalem was already a shambles on account of the Jews fighting each other and the food stores had burned up. The people trapped within the walls of Jerusalem would begin to suffer famine and violence unlike any time in Jewish history.

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg. 63, says…

“The famine now raged in a terrible manner in the city. It had for some time been silently approaching, and many of the peaceable and poor had perished for want of necessities…..John of Gischala and Simon Bar Gioras and their factions had in their ungovernable fury, wasted and destroyed such vast quantities of provision as might have supplied the city for many years and as Josephus says “they were reduced to a famine of their own making…”

“The faction’s soldiers preyed upon the common people with the most unheard of cruelty. They forced their houses, and if they found any food in them, they butchered the inhabitants for not apprising them of it. And if they found nothing, which was almost everywhere the case, they put them to the most severe tortures under pretense that they had some provisions concealed.

Women forced from their husbands, and children from their fathers, and even mothers from their infants, the little they had, and while sucking children were wasting away in their arms, they took the vital drops that sustained them. So justly did our Lord pronounce a woe on “them who should give suck in those days”

(Mat 24:19 KJV)  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

The famine and depravity got to be so bad that even children were being eaten by their mothers. Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History continues…

“The famine raged in such a dreadful manner that an unhappy mother (a Jewess) was reduced to the extremity of butchering and eating her own child. This lady, whose name was Miriam, or Mary, had taken refuge with a vast number of others in this accursed city from the beginning of the war. As famine increased, the faction Zealots lived almost altogether upon the plunder of the helpless, had often forced into her house and carried off such provisions as she was able to procure.  She had often tried either by prayers to prevail on them or by curses to provoke them to put an end to her miserable life. Those monsters (Zealots) still thought it too great a mercy to be granted to her. Filled at length with fury, the intolerable cravings of hunger and despair, she snatches her suckling child from her bosom, cut its throat and broiled him and having satisfied her present hunger, she hid the rest.

The smell of it soon drew those carrions, the Zealots to her house; they threatened to put her to the most excruciating tortures, if she did not reveal her provisions to them; whereupon she went and brought the sad relics of her mangled infant son, set it before them and bid them to eat heartily, and not be squeamish, since she, the once tender mother of it, had butchered, dressed it and made a meal of it.”

How tragically eloquent our Lord speaks pertaining this time of utter despair and depravity…

(Luk 23:28)  But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

(Luk 23:29)  “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’

Matt 24:20

(Mat 24:20)  “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

Jesus is obviously addressing an audience of a time when the strict Pharasaical rules concerning the distance that might be traveled on the Sabbath day would be still in force. This fixes the context of chapter 24 with certainty as prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, not future.

A complimentary verse in Luke again affirms that the events described are those leading up to and within the time period of the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. Luke reports Jesus as saying…
(Luk 21:23)  “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;

It was extremely difficult for Jews to survive in the city or vicinity of Jerusalem, especially for those who were pregnant nursing babies. But who is the “this people”? Those in Jerusalem.

(Luk 21:20)  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

(Luk 21:21)  “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city;

Those who left Judea, the city and even the surrounding countryside were early followers of Jesus who were aware of Jesus’ prophecy about Jerusalem’s prophesied destruction. Christians departed Jerusalem en-masse, many of them going to Pella, a mountainous community to the north-northeast of Jerusalem. History does not record a single Christian dying on account of the destruction of Jerusalem, in fulfillment of Jesus’ telling the disciples…

(Luk 21:18)  “Yet not a hair of your head will perish.

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Matt 24:21

(Mat 24:21)  “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

Many, not knowing about the history of the Jews during this time period, are quick to claim that there have been much worse disasters than a city being destroyed. They will refer to the Holocaust, or the volcano at Pompei, or any number of other events they consider extraordinarily destructive….But it was only for Jerusalem that Jesus wept over… because He knew what was coming.

After the events described in Matt 24:15 and after Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, the greatest tribulation for the Jews that has ever occurred would occur. This tribulation was the most awful in Jewish history, unmatched by anything the Jewish nation ever went through before, not only in the depravity and cruelty of both Jews and those who were hostile to them, but because this tribulation did not end with the city’s destruction. It is ongoing today. For more on this, see entry for Matt 24:29.

Incidentally, Titus encamped his army outside of Jerusalem at the beginning of the Jewish Passover, the time when there would have been the maximum number of Jews inside Jerusalem’s walls. These Jews would have travelled to Jerusalem from a multitude of nations (Acts 2:5-12). According to early Christian historian Eusebius, who is referring to claims made by the earlier, Jewish historian Josephus, Joseph estimates that Jerusalem was filled with up to three million Jews.

Eusebius-The Church History: A New Translation with Commentary, Paul L. Maier, Kegel Publications, 1999, pg 97

The tragic irony probably escapes Jews today, that by rejecting their Messiah (who was their Passover had they accepted Him) their city, temple and religion would instead be destroyed at the time of the Passover…an event celebrating the ancient Israelites salvation from death during the plague of the death of Egypt’s first-born.

Similarly, on the Day of Pentecost, the sign gift of tongues, which were a warning of judgment to Jews (Isaiah 28:11) about a foreign army, was spoken to a multitude of Jews from many nations.

Matt 24:22

(Mat 24:22)  “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

This literally happened. The siege of Jerusalem went on for some time but ended abruptly and in a most unexpected way. Though they had a superior defensible position, Jewish rebels were inexplicably stricken with fear. Instead of fleeing into the towers of Hippocos, Phasael or Mariam-ne, which were yet untaken, and so strong that nothing but famine could have subdued them, they ran like madmen towards Shiloah, trying to escape out of the city through the Fountain Gate. They didn’t succeed but were all found and killed (about 2,000).

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg. 56 says…

“Before Titus left Jerusalem to return to Rome, he took a survey of the miserable city, and its fortifications; and, while contemplating their impregnable strength, could not help ascribing his success to the peculiar interposition of the Almighty, “had not God,” he exclaimed, aided our operations, and driven the Jews from their fortresses, it would have been absolutely impossible to have taken them; for what could men, and the force of engines, have done against such towers as these.”

Rather than continue to fight Titus’ besieging army from superior positions, the Jewish defenders departed the strongest part of their fortresses inexplicably and abruptly, thus, cutting short the number of those who could have been otherwise killed.

By the time the city had been destroyed, untold numbers had been killed in factional battles within the city and over 115,188 dead had been carried out of the city walls as a result of Titus’ siege. Those who managed to escape the carnage inside the city’s walls and seek mercy from Titus were met with an unexpected, vicious cruelty.

The story is retold by the ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. During the attack, there were many Jews who had decided to surrender as non-combatants. As they exited the city, they were met with a gruesome fate.  A report had been circulated among the Arabs and Syrian ‘provincials’ that Jews exiting the city had swallowed their gold and jewels. Josephus recounts…

“The multitude of Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected.”

(Flavius Josephus, “The Complete Works Of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem” bk 5, chapt 13)

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg. 65 says…

“Impelled by avarice, and with unexampled cruelty they ripped open the bellies of two thousand deserters in one night to come at the supposed treasure…….and in very few did they find what they sought after”

The cruelty did not end there. Back in the city, groups of thousands were holed up inside the temple, following after some false prophet who had led them to a gallery compartment. About 6,000 of them were all waiting for a miracle claimed by the false prophet. Roman soldiers happened upon them, trapped them inside and set the gallery on fire, roasting all six thousand Jews inside to death.

On another occasion, 11,000 non-combatants approached Titus’ forces inside the city, desiring mercy. They were starved to death.

These are just some of the many cruelties and battles that were reported concerning the Jews during the time leading up to and during the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. During the siege itself, over a hundred thousand people perished.

Josephus estimates that the losses of the Jewish combatants from all of their battles against each other, Syrians, Arabians, and Roman armies and the total including Titus’ siege against Jerusalem resulted in over 1,237,000 gruesome deaths.

According to Josephus, 1.1 million non-combatants died in Jerusalem, mainly as a result of the violence and famine.

Source: Josephus: PACE: BJ, 6.9.3 (Whiston), Perseus Project BJ6.9.3

Truly….(Mat 24:22)  “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple ended, but the cruelty and depraved violence against Jews did not end. It continued long after, and continues today, the longest standing war against a people in all of human history.

(Mat 24:21)  “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

(Luk 21:24)  They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The times of the Gentiles are still ongoing. Jerusalem is still not under full Israeli control; the West Bank and Gaza are concessions to enemies of Israel and of God and Jews are still unable to worship at what is left of their temple. The temple mount is under Jordanian (Muslim) administration and the abomination of the Dome of the Rock is still standing in the place that it should not be.

“….the elect…”

The elect are in the context of Matt 24:22 and 24 are unbelieving Jews.  The ‘elect’ is used again in Matt 24:31 to refer to Jews who are gathered to Jerusalem from all over the world to repent before the Messiah they have rejected (Zech 12:10, 13:6).

An alternative view is that the ‘elect’ in Matt 24:31 is all genuine believers, the church, including Jewish and non-Jewish believers raptured to be with the Lord at His return.

Matt 24:24
(Mat 24:24)  “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

According to Jesus, it will not be possible to deceive the elect. Though the ‘elect’ are identified later in the New Testament as both Jewish and Gentile genuine believers (Tit 1:1, Col 3:12, 1 Pet 1:1-2, 1 Pet 2:9), genuine believers of all ages would presumably be able to discern the true from the false signs and wonders.

In this writer’s view, Matt 24:24 is stating that during and after the destruction of Jerusalem, the elect will not be deceived by false prophets and those purporting to be a Messiah figure, a Christ. These were charlatans and misguided individuals who capitalized on the Jews’ hope for a Messiah to rescue them from Roman rule and the distress of persecution and wars wherever they went.

Today, false Christs exist with no less of a tempting message for those who believe and follow after them.

There is Apollo Quiboloy (Philippines), Vissarion (Russia) the new age/theosophical deceiver Maitreya and Sun Myung Moon (Korea), who openly declares that he is the Messiah come to earth to complete the mission that Jesus failed to accomplish: the establishment of the “perfect family”. There is also Inri, the false Christ from Brazil and false Christ Alan John Miller in Australia.

Even today there are signs and false wonders. Statues of Mary weeping blood… Maitreya allegedly appearing and disappearing into thin air, the name of allah or Muhammad written in the clouds, on a fish and an infant reported to have been born clutching a Quran. These are all false wonders.

People who believe such false wonders are under a deluding influence. They don’t love truth, so God gives them over to what they want, a lie. Widespread throughout the charismatic and Pentecostal part of the church, there are likewise many false and therefore satanic manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit, including fabricated healings by false healers and televangelists and false tongues, nothing but babbling gibberish.

Note that in Matt 24:11, which is a time period prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, there is only a warning against ‘false prophets’, while Matt 24:24 is a warning against both false prophets and false Christs.

(Mat 24:11)  “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

Matt 24:11 pertains to the disciples who were preaching Christ crucified and risen again. They wouldn’t be in much danger of falling for some false Christ because they had personally experienced the real Christ. But they would be in competition with false prophets, of which there were many.

(Mat 24:24)  “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

Matt 24:24 pertains to the time during and after the destruction of Jerusalem. The ‘false Christs’ of Matt 24:24 were those who capitalized on the distress of the Jews during this time period who were suffering by their own hands, at the hands of Romans and nearly everyone else wherever they went. It would have been very tempting to believe in some false Christ, some false Messiah figure especially if there were compelling signs and wonders.

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Matt 24:26

(Mat 24:26)  “So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.

“…Behold, He is in the wilderness…”

The word for ‘wilderness’ can also be translated as ‘desert’.  Jewish historian Josephus informs us that there were many who pretended to be divinely inspired, who deceived the people, leading many of them into the desert, to hopeless deaths. Josephus recorded…

“The land was overrun with magicians, seducers, and impostors, who drew people after them in multitudes into deserts to see the signs and miracles which they promised to show by the power of God” (Josephus, Antiquities. b. 20. c. 7)

Among these are mentioned Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses; Simon Magus, pretended to be the great power of God (Acts 8:9-10); and Theudas, who persuaded many to go with him to the river Jordan, to see the waters divided. An Egyptian false prophet, mentioned by Josephus, (Ant. b. 20. c. 7), and in Acts 21:38., and in the (lexander. ets are named…a surpriseersecution violence and those who d. Here, Paul is using Jesus’n

(Act 21:38)  “Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?”

Another promised salvation to the people, if they would follow him to the desert, and he was destroyed by Festus (Josephus, Antiquities. b. 20. c. 7).

Also, one Jonathan, a weaver, persuaded a number to follow him to the desert, but he was taken and burnt alive by Vespasian (Josephus’ War, b. 7. c. 11)

“….Behold, He is in the inner rooms…”

Similarly, inside the city were false Messiah figures who would have conducted their teachings or led others to secret rooms or subterranean passages beneath the city.  Adam Clarke’s Commentary On The Bible says for this verse…

“Josephus mentions a false prophet, War, b. vi. c. 5, who declared to the people in the city, that God commanded them to go up into the temple, and there they should receive the signs of deliverance. A multitude of men, women, and children, went up accordingly; but, instead of deliverance, the place was set on fire by the Romans, and 6,000 perished miserably in the flames, or in attempting to escape them.”

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Matt 24:27

(Mat 24:27)  “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Jesus is not tying the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple to His return, but merely making a comparison. Many would wonder after false Christs and false signs and wonders, but Jesus’ return will be with authentic signs and wonders that will make His return as evident as lightning is to those who behold it.

What kind of signs and wonders? The type that false prophets and false Christs cannot produce….such as….

(Zec 14:4)  In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

And…

(Luk 21:25)  “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,

 

Matt 24:28

(Mat 24:28 KJV)  For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

The eagle was also part of the motif of Roman legions, with banners and statues of eagles (called an aquila) placed on a pole, one for each legion and carried by an aquilifer. Jews considered these eagle displays to be idolatrous. To a first century Jew, the presence of the Roman army in the vicinity and later inside Jerusalem and the temple itself would have been considered the desecration of a holy place.

Similar to Matt 24:15, Jesus warned in (Mar 13:14)…

“But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

The ‘abomination of desolation’ is as far back as Dan 9:27 referring to the Roman army encamped outside of Jerusalem before the siege, complete with its eagle standards that the Jews considered idols. During and after the siege, idols of eagles and of Tiberius Caesar were placed at the entrance to the actual temple.

The presence of the Roman idols was considered a desecration, but to make something ‘desolate’ means to make it wasted and empty. The Roman destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and persecution of Jews after 70AD was so complete that the Jewish nation itself ceased to exist.

Here in Matt 24:28, the Jewish nation was dead. Only a carcass of what it once was would remain.  The eagles were the Roman armies surrounding it, destroying it and consuming it. It was an outrage. Earlier in the history of the ancient Israelites, Goliath had threatened David with being eaten by birds as an attempt to humiliate him when he said…

(1Sam 17:44) …. Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the birds of the heavens, and to the beasts of the field.

The humiliation of being eaten by birds is reserved only for the most wicked, the most despised in God’s sight, those destined for damnation.

(Rev 19:21)  And the remnant was slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

For Jesus to have just finished describing the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple and then conclude with such a stinging declaration would have been deeply offensive to the Jews.

Matt 24:29

(Mat 24:29)  “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

“….immediately after the tribulation of those days…”

From (Expositor’s Bible Commentary entry for Matt 24:29)

The word “immediately” has given rise to much difficulty, on account of the hasty conclusion to which some have come that ‘immediately after the tribulation of those days’ must mean immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem; according to which all this must have taken place long ago.

It is, indeed, sufficiently obvious that the tribulation of those days began with the destruction, or rather with the besieging, of Jerusalem. But when did it end? As soon as the city was destroyed? Nay. If we wish to get some idea of the duration of those days of tribulation, let us turn to the same place in the same prophecy as given by St. Luke, (Luk_21:23-24) where it clearly appears that it embraces the whole period of the Jewish dispersion and of the standing of the Gentile Church.

(Luk 21:23) “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;

(Luk 21:24) and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

(Expositor’s Bible Commentary entry for Matt 24:29)

[The times of the gentiles are still ongoing. Jerusalem is still not under full Israeli control; the West Bank and Gaza are concessions to enemies of Israel and of God and Jews are still unable to worship at what is left of their temple. The temple mount is under (Jordanian) Muslim administration and the abomination of the Dome of the Rock is still standing in the place that it should not be..]

 

“…THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken”

In addition to the physical necessity of the sun and the moon, God also made them for signs and seasons.

(Gen 1:14)  Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;

These signs, seasons, days and years are integral in the Jewish calendar and for purposes of tracking the times for Jewish feasts.

(Lev 23:4)  These are the appointed festivals of Yahweh, the holy convocations, which you shall designate in their appropriate time.

The moon in particular is used for this purpose.

(Ps 104:19) He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows when to set.

The new moon is accompanied by Rosh Chodesh, a Jewish festival celebrating renewal. Rosh Hashanah, the new year and festival of the rebirth of the world.  The end of Chanukah, which is a time of increasing light, is also at the time of the new moon.

Yom Kippur falls on the dark part of the cycle of the moon and emphasizes deep reflection and longing for light. Even New Testament followers of Jesus (many of them Jewish) retained the keeping of Jewish festivals, evidenced by Apostle Paul’s admonition of…

(Col 2:16)  Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—

And after Jesus’ return, these festivals, based on the cycle of the moon will be restored for all genuine believers to properly honor and worship God.

(Zech 14:16)  Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

The Feast of Booths is also called the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot (Lev 23:33-43). Held during the time of the year when grapes and olives would be harvested, each Jewish family would construct a lightweight structure and the entire family would stay in it. The purpose of Sukkot is to remember the ancient Israelites journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land and that it was God who led them and provided for them.

(Isa 66:23)  “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from Sabbath to Sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD.

There is also the Passover celebration, commemorating the Israelites salvation from Egypt (and death). And among others, there is Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the commandments on Mt. Sinai. All of these Jewish festivals are governed by the cycle of the moon.

The moon is also used as part a picture of God’s judgment. The theme of sun darkening and the moon not giving its light (such as in Matt 24:29) during times of judgment is reminiscent of the ninth plague on Egypt.

(Exo 10:22)  So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.

There are numerous scriptures that use the imagery of the sun darkening and the moon not giving light to herald the “Day of the Lord” in the eschatological sense.

(Isa 13:9)  Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it.

(Isa 13:10)  For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light.

And from Joel…

(Joe 2:31)  “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

Though one would expect part of the sky to be obscured by clouds of smoke from a fiery destruction of Jerusalem, such things did not happen to the magnitude that Matt 24:29 and the Revelation describe.

“…and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

Though there were reports of armies fighting in the clouds (see entry for Matt 24:7), that commotion doesn’t seem to be directly caused by God, who is the only one who has control over meteorological events. While Matt 24:1-28 pertained to the events leading up to and immediately after 70AD, now we see where verse 29 begins the transition to events pertaining to Jesus’ return…events in Matthew 24:29-31 that have a parallel in the Revelation.

(Rev 6:12)  I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;

(Rev 6:13)  and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.

(Rev 6:14)  The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

The sixth seal begins during a period of massive persecution against believers and just prior to Jesus’ return. It culminates in a judgment of those who are hostile to God, a judgment that involves meteorological events and disasters involving earthquakes, radical changes to the atmosphere, the sun darkening and the moon not giving light. This is a good picture of the “heavens being shaken”. It can only happen at the time of Jesus’ return. Therefore, this writer believes Matt 24:29-31 is a continuation of Jesus’ answer to the disciple’s second question about the time of His return.

Luke has a parallel verse to this, adding destructive and chaotic events in the seas and men’s response to what they believe is approaching doom.

(Luk 21:25)  “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,

(Luk 21:26) men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

“…perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves..”

In keeping with the principle of “scripture interpreting scripture”, let us now turn to another scripture for clues as to what “roaring of the sea and waves” could be, if not literal sea and waves.

Jude is exposing men who crept into the assembly of believers but who were in reality hell-bound, unregenerate, ungodly deniers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were antinomians, turning the grace of God as a license for unbridled lust. These men defiled their flesh through immoral activities, rejected all authority and mocked angelic beings and all that they did not understand. They were so devoid of reasoning and understanding that Jude compared them to ‘unreasoning animals’. Jude refers to them as…

(Jud 1:13)  wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

And From Isaiah…

(Isa 57:20)  But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet, And its waters toss up refuse and mud.

(Isa 57:21)  “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Though Isaiah 57:20-21 and Jude 1-25 pertain to other people in other contexts, if one considers the bestial immorality and remarkable lack of reasoning of devout sharia law abiding killers like those from groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, HAMAS and others, “roaring seas and waves” of Matt 24:30 could very well be describing Muslims.

Their reaction in Luke 21:26 is fear, obviously; fear of the Lord Jesus Christ being revealed in judgment and war on “the world” (Luke 21:26). This is not the entire world (kosmos) but the οἰκουμένη, a local or regional location on earth……where they are. Since the bible shows that Jesus will destroy the nations that surround Israel, and those are all Muslim majority nations, the “world” of (Luke 21:26/Matt 24:30) is likely a Middle Eastern region.

They will try to hide in caves or under mountains, but there is nowhere to go to escape the just wrath of a holy God. The Revelation indicates that they do not repent.

(Rev 9:21)  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

Justice is coming and doom is all they have to look forward to.

Matt 24:30

(Mat 24:30)  “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

“…then the sign…”

Jesus is the sign because it is Jesus who will be seen coming in judgment and war.

“…the Son of Man…”

Jews, who were Jesus’ audience in this context, would have recognized the term “Son of Man” as referring to the Old Testament Messiah figure spoken of by the prophet Daniel in….

(Dan 7:13)  “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.

(Dan 7:14)  “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

Jesus’ return fulfills numerous prophecies including that of Dan 7:13-14 above, but also…

(Psa 2:6)  “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

(Psa 2:7)  “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.

(Psa 2:8)  ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.

The judgment and dominion over the nations is also fulfilled in the end time narrative ending with the seventh trumpet at Rev 11:15-19.

(Rev 11:15)  Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

And fulfills Jesus’ example of prayer for those who follow Him…

(Mat 6:10)  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

“All the tribes” will include Jewish tribes.

(Zec 12:10)  “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

This was spoken of earlier in the Revelation…

(Rev 1:7)  BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

The Jews will mourn in repentance (Zech 12:10), while Muslims and those hostile to the God of the bible will mourn fearfully and try to hide in shame (Rev 6:15-17). The rest of the earth will mourn out of regret and fear of judgment (Matt 25:32).

“….COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY…”

Some scriptures affirming that Jesus’ return will be associated with clouds are, from the Old Testament…

(Dan 7:13)  “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.

And from the New Testament…

(Act 1:11)  “….This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

(Rev 1:7)  BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

An alternative explanation for the ‘clouds’ is that they are angels or both saints and angels. Jesus is prophesied to return with angels (Matt 24:31, 25:31, Mark 8:38, 2 Thess 1:7) and also the saints (1 Thess 3:13). Clouds have referred to Old Testament saints in…

(Heb 12:1)  Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

And the Lord Jesus Christ is pictured as sitting on a white cloud in Isaiah 19, where Jesus is pictured as returning to (among other places) Egypt.

(Isa 19:1)  The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a SWIFT CLOUD and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. (Caps mine for emphasis)

And in the Revelation…

(Rev 14:14)  Then I looked, and behold, A WHITE CLOUD, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.(Caps mine for emphasis)

Though being seated can be an expression of spiritual authority (Eph 2:6), here it should be taken both figuratively and literally. Since other scriptures indicate that Jesus will return just as He left, in a cloud (Acts 1:11), and other scriptures suggest a figurative cloud being a group of saints and/or angels, we should accept both.

Jesus is returning in magnificent, awesome authority, power, judgment, majesty, grandeur and war (Rev 19:11). He will return on a literal cloud amid a figurative ‘cloud’ or large number of saints.

(Jud 1:14)  …Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,

Matt 24:31

(Mat 24:31)  “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Matt 24:31 is during the period of satan’s wrath on Christians and God’s judgement on Jews at Jesus’ return. This period is referred to as ‘times, time and half a time’, three and a half years and 1,260 days in the Revelation. It is not a literal three and a half year time period, but merely a general time period signifying a time characterized by persecution violence. It is what many call the ‘tribulation’.

“…four winds…”

The Revelation parallels this in…

(Rev 7:1-4) “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God … Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel”

The gathering together of His elect from all over the world (perhaps a way of indicating God’s recognizing of His elect) is for purposes of sealing them, to supernaturally protect them during the time of His wrath on Islam and others that war against Jesus and those who follow Him.

“…A GREAT TRUMPET…”

This has another parallel in another retelling of the end-time narrative in(Rev 11:15).

(Rev 11:15)  Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

(Mat 6:10)  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Another reference to a trumpet associated with Christ’s return is found in Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians, reassuring them that they are not in the time of Jesus’ return, but that at His return….…

(1Th 4:16)  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Another parallel verse from the Old Testament…

(Isaiah 27:13)  It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.

Today, many who are perishing (at the hand of Muslim persecutors) in the land of Assyria (Syria) and Egypt are Christians.

Matt 24:31 also fulfills Jesus’ prophecy in…

(Luk 13:29)  “And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.

Since the scriptures indicate that the ‘elect’ are Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Jesus, this verse should be understood to mean believing Israel, those who have been made one in Christ, both Jewish believers and Christian believers.

Some Scriptures that show this to be true are…

Non-Jewsish believers

(Titus 1:1), “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect (eklektos) and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness …”

(Col 3:12), “Therefore, as the elect (eklektos) of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering …”

Jewish believers

(1 Pet 1:1-2), “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect (eklektos G1588) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

Another interesting New Testament confirmation of the church being Israel is found by comparing Exodus 19:6 and 1 Peter 2:9. Directed to Jews…

(Exo 19:6) and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

Directed to Christians…

(1Pet 2:9) But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

As believers in Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile, we are called the ‘elect’. And in Christ, we will not be deceived, as is stated plainly in…

(Mat 24:24) “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

People who do not question or who are otherwise misled by the antichrist are not a threat to the antichrist/false prophet, who this writer sees as being a charismatic Muslim ‘caliph”. The ‘elect’ cannot be misled by the deception of the antichrist and will not worship him or his religion…And that’s highly threatening to the antichrist. Persecution violence is how he responds to those who threaten his failed kingdom.

We know the elect are those who believe on Christ and have died for their faith on Him. This is verified by other scriptures…

(Rev 12:17)  So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Further support for this is from Dan 7:25.

(Dan 7:25)  ‘He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

And…

(Rev 20:4)  Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

What hostile ideology has always taught and presently teaches its adherents to behead Christians just because they are followers of Jesus? Islam.

So far, in Matt 24:1-28 we saw historical fulfillment in the challenges and persecutions expected by the apostles as they shared the gospel around the known world leading up to and including the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and Jewish religion.

Here in Matt 24:29-31 we see a mini end times narrative that parallels that which is in the Revelation chapters 6-11, the mini-narratives embedded in chapter 11 and the more detailed end times narrative in chapters 12-22. Jesus’ glorious return in war against those who war against Him, those who have persecuted His elect, and in judgment of the church and all unrepentant sinners commences at this point.

(Rev 19:11)  And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

(Rev 19:12)  His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.

(Rev 19:13)  He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

(Rev 19:14)  And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.

(Rev 19:15)  From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

(Rev 19:16)  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Matt 24:32

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree follows His first, brief description of His end time return in Matthew chapter 24.  It is the first parable He responded with and coincides with the disciple’s first question of “when will these things happen?” in Matt 24: 3.  Now in verse 32, He will elaborate on His answer to their first question…

(Mat 24:32)  “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near;

“…fig tree…”

In the Old Testament, the fig tree was symbolic of the Jewish nation (Hos 9:10, Nah 3:12, Zech 3:10).  The disciples would have (or should have) recognized this as a parable describing the Jewish nation, especially since Jesus had just warned them about a future destruction of Jerusalem.

Earlier, Jesus had cursed and destroyed a fig plant that had leaves but was not producing fruit.  Its outside appearance was not matching its real barren condition.

(Mat 21:19)  Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

Since Jesus was talking to Jews of ‘this generation’ (Matt 24:34), it was the Jewish nation soon to be destroyed that would not bear the good fruit of repentance and like the withered fig tree, would be cursed with judgment. This judgment began with the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and religion and continues to this day, until the times of the Gentiles will be completed (Luke 21:24). This writer considers Matt 21:19 to be yet another verse, along with Matt 24:20, that pins Matt 24:1-28 firmly to the first century.

Another parable in Luke illustrates the fig tree as being Israel and what will happen to it if it does not produce fruit.

(Luk 13:6)  And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any.

(Luk 13:7)  “And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’

(Luk 13:8)  “And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer;

(Luk 13:9)  and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'”

Symbolically, the ‘man’ would be God. The ‘fig tree’ would be the Jewish nation. The vineyard would be Judea, or possibly Jerusalem. The fruit would be repentance (Matt 3:8) leading to faith in the Messiah (Jesus, for His three year ministry among them).

Saying to the vine-dresser “let it alone…and if it bears fruit next year, fine, but if not, cut it down.”…illustrates God’s patience, His willingness to extend time for the Jews to repent, which they did not and have not yet done. The vine-dresser is symbolic for Jesus, who would use Rome to ‘cut down’, to destroy the entire vine…pointing to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and the Jewish religion.

“…when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.”

Just as a fig tree’s branches starting to produce leaves indicates that summer is near, the signs Jesus had given them were just as reliable an indicator that the destruction of Jerusalem was near.

Matt 24:33

(Mat 24:33 KJV)  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

The “it” is the relatively soon destruction of the Jewish nation. What were the “all these things”? All that Jesus had described in Matt 4:1-28 and emphasized by the parable of the fig tree indicating a change in season being very near.

“many coming in My name” (Matt 24:5)

“wars and rumors of wars” (Matt 24:6)

“nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” (Matt 24:7)

“great signs from heaven…” (Luke 21:11)

“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name” (Matt 24:9)

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mat 24:14)

Just as Jesus predicted, all of those things took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and religion and the gospel was preached to the known world.

Matt 24:34

(Mat 24:34)  “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

From a futurist perspective, one has to strain to try to imagine what the “these things” could actually be and then look for them to happen in the future. This of course helps fuel the imaginations of book authors, movie producers, conspiracy theorists and fear-mongering pre-tribulation rapture adherents. Such people raise the alarm whenever there is news of dead fish washing ashore, earthquakes, big storms, comet fly-bys or when pet dogs get tagged with micro-chips.

Indeed, the pre-trib view and the paranoia it generates would be more amusing if it didn’t also reflect with crystal clarity the poor intellectual and spiritual condition of much of the modern day western church.  Even if the pre-trib view was accurate, their fear of such end time calamities isn’t consistent with even a casual reading of the scriptures. For Jesus said…

(Mat 24:6)  “…. See that you are NOT frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. (Caps mine for emphasis)

 

From an historical perspective, consistent with a rabbinical Jewish practice in which Jesus is referring to Matt 24:20, the generation of the disciples saw all those things take place. And not one of the disciples believed God would zap them off the face of the earth at the first sign of trouble.

The destruction of Jerusalem also fulfilled other prophecies of Jesus. For example…

(Mat 21:43)  “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

(Mat 21:44)  “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

Those who produce fruit are those who repent. The nation of Israel did not repent and so refused their Messiah. The kingdom of God was taken away from them as a nation and given to people of both Jewish and non-Jewish descent who do repent. In other words, the criteria changed from national identity to identifying those who repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the stone that one falls on, coming to God in brokenness and humility. However, the one on whom Jesus falls on in judgment will be scattered like dust….another picture of what happened to the unrepentant Jewish nation. The Pharisees realized this.

(Mat 21:45)  When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.

Sadly, there are rumored plans being voiced (mostly by US evangelicals, so-called Christian Zionists and radical orthodox so-called Jews in Israel), to build a third temple either in place of or next to the Dome of the Rock. Even if the Muslims would allow this, it would be an abominable, large scale public rejection of Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God and an apostasy for any Christians who participated in such sacrifices and rituals. The bible says…

(Heb 9:11)  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;

(Heb 9:12)  and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

(Heb 10:14) For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

The epistle to the Hebrews has in large part to do with reassuring Jewish believers that temple sacrifices are obsolete due to Christ’s sacrifice of Himself. If such a temple was to be built, and both Jews and Christians worshiped and made sacrifices there for sin, it would be a shameful act of apostasy on a scale that Christendom has never known.  The epistle to the Hebrew warns about such a defection…

(Heb 6:4)  For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,

(Heb 6:5)  and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,

(Heb 6:6)  and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

 

And later in the epistle to the Hebrews…

(Heb 10:26)  For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

(Heb 10:27)  but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.

(Heb 10:28)  Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

(Heb 10:29)  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

(Heb 10:30)  For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”

(Heb 10:31)  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

Building another temple made with hands would also contradict the identity of the true believer, who is the temple of God both individually…

(1Co 3:16)  Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

(2Co 6:16)  Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

 

…and collectively…

(Eph 2:21)  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,

(Eph 2:22)  in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

(1 Pet 2:5 NLT) And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.

 

As such, some other temple that is not of the Spirit with renewed burnt offerings would be an abomination that would only invite the wrath of God comparable to the devastation and severity of 70AD. And it may happen.

 

Rather than build a temple made with hands and encourage Christ-rejecting so-called Jews to make sacrifices that are not efficacious toward spiritual regeneration or eternal life, it would be a much better witness for Jews if we continue to walk in the victory Christ has won for us on the cross, holding firmly to the public preaching of the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony of Jesus and to not love our lives, even when faced with a persecution death (Rev 12:13).

 

National Israel, the country, should be supported. It is a beacon of democracy, freedom of speech and religion and the only nation in the region where Christians practice their faith in relative safety. Like their ancient Israelite predecessors of the Old Testament, today’s Israel is the most civil, just, humane and ethically advanced nation in the region. Israel is also remarkably economically advanced for such a young nation and is presently the only military bulwark against a complete Islamization of the Middle East.

However, today’s so-called Jews, just Talmudists really, even a nation of them, have no special, privileged status in matters of faith. God has judged the Jewish nation and that judgment is final. By the biblical criteria for what makes a person ‘antichrist’, every unrepentant so-called Jews is an antichrist and on the way to a hellish torment unless they repent and believe on the true God, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The bible says…

(2Pe 3:9)  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Not all will come to repentance and live, but the bible shows in Zech 10:12 that just prior to the Lord’s return, there would be a great repentance among the Jewish people. At that time, they accepted the Savior they had up to that point rejected. This was the good fruit of the apostolic ministry.

(Zec 12:10)  “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

(Zec 13:6)  “And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’

Matt 24:35

(Mat 24:35)  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

This verse should be understood as a continuation of the previous verse, where Jesus affirms that “…this generation will not pass away until all of these things take place…”. Jesus is thus contrasting His word with the Jewish nation. One will exist forever. The other will exist only for a short time.

“Heaven and earth will pass away….”

This is mirrored in…

(2Pe 3:10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

(2Pe 3:11)  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness

On the ‘new heaven and earth’, opinions vary on this. This imagery of ‘heaven and earth’ likely came from Isaiah 66:22.

(Isa 66:22)  “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.

 

In its New Testament usage, some think it is referring to the New Covenant. Others think it is just a colloquial way of describing a ‘new beginning’.

The term ‘heaven and earth’ were also used by Hebrews to describe the inner and outer portion of the temple. And first century Jewish historian Josephus reports that Jews referred to the temple at Jerusalem as “heaven and earth.”

Source: Josephus, Antiquities (William Whiston trans., Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1987) BK. 3, chap. 6:4-7; chapt. 7:7, pp 86+

Jesus Himself, right after describing the destruction of the temple in Matt 24:3-28, said…

(Matthew 24:35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

meaning, the physical temple, or possibly Judaism itself will pass away, but His words will not. This has been proven true even until today.

 

If ‘heaven and earth’ was the Old Covenant temple according to Jesus, then a ‘new heaven and earth’ from scripture penned by Hebrew believers like John in Revelation 21:2 and Peter in 2 Peter 3:13 would be the ‘new temple’, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the church.

Jesus also said…

(Mat 5:18)  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Here, Old Covenant Judaism or possibly the temple itself is pictured as ‘heaven and earth’. This verse also implies that all prophecy would be complete when ‘heaven and earth’ pass away. Thus, the destruction of Jerusalem, Judaism and the temple would bring all prophecy to fulfillment.

 

This would also be consistent with how Hebrew believers like the apostle Paul and John used objects (like a ‘city’) to describe Old Covenant Israel (Hagar) contrasted to the “Jerusalem above” (Gal 4:26), the New Covenant kingdom.

Also, the  ‘great city” and “Babylon the great” contrasted with the “new Jerusalem” (Rev 21:2) and “holy city” (Rev 21:10), contrast the Old Covenant Judaism that would soon be destroyed to the New Covenant kingdom that was at that time making Old Covenant Judaism obsolete.

 

The writer of the Revelation, John, says…

Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

This may be describing the general judgment of all that took place when Jesus returned in between 66-70AD. That judgement resulted in the destruction of Old Covenant Judaism and its temple, which were obstacles to those coming to salvation in Christ. Thus, the old temple, being obsolete, needed to be destroyed on account of the new temple, the church. As destruction came to the temple and Judaism itself, those in the city of Jerusalem tried to escape but could not find a place to hide from the destruction of the spiritual city of the ‘great city’ of Judaism.

 

So we see multiple lines of evidence that support the idea that the ‘new heaven and earth’ is not a literal, new sky and ball of dirt, but rather, the new covenant temple, the church.

Matt 24:36

(Mat 24:36)  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

“….that day and hour…”

Not a literal ‘day and hour’, but rather, a period of time, a season. The ‘Day of the Lord’.  Though the term ‘day of the Lord’ has been used in Old Testament contexts to warn of judgment against the Jewish nation by Babylonian invasion or hordes of locusts, this time it is used in a much broader context–the entire world.

“…that day and hour no one knows…”

Jesus knew about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, for He had just finished giving the disciples abundant information about ‘that day’, and that it was soon. Thus, the ‘day’ in this context is referring to the general time period of His return.

Matt 24:37

(Mat 24:37)  “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

A continuation from the previous verse, Jesus is associating ‘the coming of the Son of Man’ with ‘that day’ (of the Lord) of Matt 24:36.  That time period will be…

“…just like the days of Noah”.

The days of Noah were characterized by all manner of wickedness, including murder, demonic oppression and sexual immorality. The bible says about that time…

(Gen 6:5)……the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

(Gen 6:11)  Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was FILLED WITH VIOLENCE.” (Emphasis mine)

(Gen 6:12)  God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for ALL FLESH HAD CORRUPTED THEIR WAY upon the earth. (Caps emphasis mine)

Except for ‘violence’ and all flesh being ‘corrupted’, specific examples of evil in the days of Noah are not mentioned. In the next verse, Jesus provides a different set of characteristics.

Matt 24:38

(Mat 24:38)  “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

Here, Jesus is describing a culture that is so far removed from the righteousness of God that it is unable or unwilling to differentiate between good and evil. Lamech’s boasting about his murders is a good example of that.

(Gen 4:23)  Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, Listen to my voice, You wives of Lamech, Give heed to my speech, For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me;

The word for “killed” (הרג, hârag) in this passage is also used in Gen 4:8, pertaining to Cain’s murder of Abel. Lamech is a picture of pride, violence and immorality within a spiritually apathetic culture. As it was in Noah’s time, people’s conscience will be so numbed by evil that rebellion against God will be as mundane as eating, drinking and marrying. They will boast of their evil, thinking that it is good.  They won’t know judgment is coming until it is too late.

Rejection of God leads people down dark roads and opens the door to demonic influence and a wide range of sinful behaviors. The more someone sins without genuine repentance, the less their conscience can protect them. Soon they even deny the existence of God outright and will thus become capable of doing all sorts of vile, evil acts. This opens the door for demonic influence and destruction of self and others as well as a perversion of all that God intended to be good, including marriage.

The mention of marriage is important here in Matt 24:38. One interpretation of Genesis chapter six suggests that satan attempted to interfere with the blood line from Adam and later, Isaac that led to a sinless Savior and preserved God’s instituted requirement for blood atonement.

(Gen 6:2)  that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

The term ‘sons of God’ is also used to describe angels per Job 1:6. Though Jesus said in Matt 22:6 that angels in heaven do not marry, these are wicked angels who have left their proper abode of a holy heaven and have corrupted themselves further through fornication with human females. It is these angels being referred to in the New Testament epistle of Jude…

(Jud 1:6)  And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,

According to Gen 6:1-8, these unholy unions produced a genetically short-lived species of unusually large and wicked human beings, described in more detail in other scriptures.

(Num 13:32)  So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land THAT DEVOURS ITS INHABITANTS; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. (Caps mine for emphasis)

(Num 13:33)  There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Evidently, the Nephilim were unusually large, powerful and cannibalistic. They are descendants of the “sons of God” (fallen angelic beings) of Gen 6:1-8.

Another group related to descendants of these demonic hybrids, was the Rephaim, who occupied the land prior to the Canaanites but were eventually defeated to extinction. Like the Nephilim, they were of unusually large size.

(Deuteronomy 3:11) For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.

Nine cubits was 13 feet (or 4 meters). Goliath, of “David and Goliath” fame was a descendant of these creatures.

(1 Samuel 17:4-7)A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

God saved a righteous remnant (Noah and his family) who were untainted by demonic unions. Satan then tried to introduce corrupt, pagan cultures into the blood line of the Israelites through interbreeding with Egyptians, Canaanites and Babylonians…each with its own morally corrupt anti-Yahweh culture.

Homosexual marriage is a corruption of a marriage union that God intended to be holy and pure. Those who rejoice in the wickedness of homosexual marriage or who are indifferent to it are demonstrating how close we are to the time of the Lord’s return.

Sadly, like those of the days of Noah and even those Jews who rejected their Messiah…they are so corrupted by unbelief that they mock those who warn them about the wrath to come.

(2Pe 3:3)  Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,

(2Pe 3:4)  and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

They believed life would continue as it was. They didn’t know that everything would change. They had no expectation of God’s judgment upon them.

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Matt 24:39

(Mat 24:39)  and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Some have considered that this verse shows a rapture of the church, but this hypothesis doesn’t seem to work. Those who are taken away are those in judgment, not those who are being saved. The church does not get raptured in judgment, but it endures persecution violence through the so-called ‘tribulation’ period (not necessarily 7 years), then meets the Lord in the air at His return, following Him dressed in white robes (1 Thess 4:17, Rev 19:14), which may be describing holiness and purity, not necessarily literal white robes.

Noah was a ‘preacher of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2:5), an ancient version of the modern day open air preacher. Even though this righteous man was building a 450’ long ship in a desert, the people didn’t have the spiritual discernment to recognize that judgment was approaching…until it was too late.

Just as it was in the days of Noah, people today resist the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Even many so-called ‘Christian’ churches are in darkness, plagued with false doctrine, worldliness and compromise…rendering them powerless and ineffective. They provide what worldly, carnal people want because these churches themselves are worldly, carnal and ineffective. Many in the first century who were similarly worldy, carnal and false converts were the first to be judged.

(1Pe 4:17)  For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

And the Lord Jesus Christ said…

(Mat 7:21)  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

(Mat 7:22)  “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’

(Mat 7:23)  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Only professing Christians say or do things in Jesus’ name. According to the Revelation, the church was purified (Rev 19:7)….by persecution violence.

When the Lord Jesus returned in judgment, those who heard and responded to the message of repentance and forgiveness of sin and who endured in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in the face of persecution violence were saved. For those who resisted the apostolic message of the gospel of the kingdom and Paul’s message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, like those of the day of Noah, and for those who apostatized….it was too late. They only understood what they had rejected when the fires of a hellish torment first licked their wretched souls.

Matt 24:40

(Mat 24:40)  “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

Again, this is not a reference to a rapture. The ones who were taken in Noah’s time were unrepentant sinners….taken in judgment. Following this line of thought, the one who is ‘taken’ here is also taken in judgment. Those who are ‘left’ (or who remain) are those who enter the kingdom of God.

That the saved and the unsaved are in the same field may suggest that the field of opportunity to repent and believe on Jesus was open for all, for both Jews and Gentiles.

Matt 24:41

(Mat 24:41)  “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

In first century Jerusalem, women were the ones who ground grain at the mill, requiring two of them to operate the mill. It was not unusual for one of the women to be a pious Jew while the other was an unbeliever. Here, one is taken into judgment, while the other is saved for the kingdom of God.

Matt 24:42

(Mat 24:42)  “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

Jesus wanted to impart a sense of imminence to His return, especially since none could know of when that would be, even Himself.

(Mat 24:36)  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

Jesus illustrated the call to be ‘alert’ in a parable in the gospel of Mark:

(Mar 13:34 KJV)  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.

(Mar 13:35 KJV)  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:

(Mar 13:36 KJV)  Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

(Mar 13:37 KJV)  And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

If the church is to be raptured before Jesus’ return, why is He admonishing ‘all’ to watch for His return? This is just another line of evidence that shows the exegetical bankruptcy of the ‘pre-tribulation rapture’ view.

The word ‘watch’ is GK ‘γρηγορεύω’, grēgoreuō which means to be alert, stay awake. The theme of spiritual watchfulness and remaining awake and alert is also seen in Peter’s epistle…

(1Pe 5:8)  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

And Paul admonishes the Thessalonians (who erroneously believed they were living in the time of the end) to…

(1Th 5:6)  so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

Being watchful, alert and otherwise ready for His return is so important to Jesus that he repeats this theme in several parables and analogies; the Master of the House (Matt 24:43), the Faithful Slave and the Evil Slave (Matt 24:45-51), the Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1-13), the Talents (Matt 25:14-30), the Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:32-46) and the Porter. Not found in Matthew, the parable of the Porter is found in Mar 13:34-37.

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Matt 24:43

(Mat 24:43)  “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

Obviously, the head of the house has much to lose if he does not take precautions against his home being broken into by a thief. In this context, Jesus would be the thief who could appear at any time at night and the head of the house would be symbolic of the professing believer. That Jesus returns at ‘night’ is also significant. Nighttime is typically dark, and darkness is the realm of evil, but the genuine believer is of the kingdom of light.

(Col 1:12)  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

(Col 1:13)  For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

(Col 1:14)  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We will temporarily divert to additional texts to understate what Jesus is teaching in Matt 24:43. Paul contrasts darkness and light throughout his epistles….

(Eph 5:8)  for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light

Though nobody knows the day or the hour, several texts show that His return will be

  1. when people are not expecting it and
  2. when the world is dark with evil.

Another warning about the imminence of His return in the generation of those Paul was speaking to, the apostle also reminds the Thessalonians…

(1Th 5:2)  For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just LIKE A THIEF in the night. (Caps mine for emphasis)

(1Th 5:4)  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you LIKE A THIEF; (caps mine for emphasis)

Apostle Paul has in mind that Jesus’ return ‘like a thief’ will only be for those in the kingdom of darkness, while genuine believers (who have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light) will still experience Jesus’ return, but would have prepared for it.

The letters to the churches of the Revelation were penned during a time of persecution violence, spiritual deception and temptation to apostatize. Though there were some exceptions, most of the church of Sardis was a church that at one time was not alert and had soiled itself with sin.

To the church of Sardis, Jesus again uses the same theme of imminence He uses in Matt 24:44, by referring to His return being ‘like a thief’. This is part of a rebuke, a call to repentance. Jesus warns…

(Rev 3:3)  ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it (GK τηρέω, guard), and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come LIKE A THIEF, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. (Caps mine for emphasis)

Nobody sins while sincerely expecting the Lord to return in judgment of them. If those who are sinning do not ‘wake up’ (which is linked to repentance), Jesus will appear in judgment as a thief would appear…at some unexpected time. The Lord Jesus also says….

(Rev 16:15)  “Behold, I am coming LIKE A THIEF. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps (GK τηρέω, guard) his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.” (Caps mine for emphasis)

Those who ‘stay awake’ (alert) are those who ‘keep their clothes’…which means to ‘guard’ their salvation by remaining in the clothes He has provided (Rev 3:18, Matt 22:11-15). These ‘keep’ (GK τηρέω, guard) thier (white) garments clean, unsoiled by the world. Jesus also admonishes those who ‘wash their robes’, which means to remain faithful even while enduring persecution violence.

(Rev 7:14)  I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

(Rev 22:14)  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

This is easily contrasted with Jesus’ earlier warning..

(Rev 3:5)  ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

In case someone believes Jesus’ return is taking longer than expected or may not happen at all, there is Jesus’ Parable of the Virgins (Matt 25:1-13).

It was normal in first century Palestine for Jewish weddings to take place in the evening….requiring lamps. The groom would pick up the bride at her family’s house, and they would, accompanied by an entourage of guests, proceed to his house where the feast and celebration would be. The bridesmaids (virgins) would meet the congregation of celebrants and join in as it passed by.

In this parable, ten virgins were invited to join the procession; five foolish were with oil in their lamps to help with lighting the evening’s celebration and five wise virgins had with extra oil with them. The groom and his entourage were taking a longer than expected to arrive and the virgins fell asleep. They woke up when they heard a shout, announcing the groom’s arrival (Matt 25:6).

It is significant that Christ’s return is also heralded by a shout, per 1 Thess 4:16.

All the virgins trimmed (turned down) their lamps but the five foolish noticed that their lamps were going out and they didn’t have enough to complete the procession. The other virgin’s lamps were also going out, but they had extra oil to keep them lit.

After the virgins with the extra oil refused to give their extra oil away to the foolish virgins, the virgins with the extra oil joined in the procession, while the foolish virgins went (out into the darkness of night) to try to find someone to sell them oil. The virgins who accompanied the groom to the house followed the others inside and the door to the house was shut.

The foolish virgins arrived later (the text does not say whether they had oil or not), asking to be let in. Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and only those indwelt by the Spirit have access to heaven. Presumably, the virgins had not found oil and had returned to gain entrance some other way. The groom answered the door and said “Truly I say to you, I do not know you” …very similar to the words He says to those who are unrepentant in Matt 7:21.

(Mat 7:23)  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

It is significant that the door was not opened to the unprepared virgins when they returned. Like the foolish virgins who so carelessly spurned their opportunity to gain entrance to the festivities, we only have one opportunity to be ready for eternity, one life to gain salvation which is in Christ alone.

Jesus concludes the Parable of the Virgins by stating…

(Mat 25:13)  “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Matt 24:44

Jesus concludes the parable of the Head of the House with…

(Mat 24:44)  “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

In summary then, Matt 24:43-44 is Jesus’ warning to be ready, to be alert, which is to get into and remain in the kingdom of light, not darkness. What does being alert and being ready entail?

  1. To be in the kingdom of light, not darkness. (1 Thess 5:4)
  2. To be watching for His return. (Matt 24:42,44, Mark 13:37)
  3. To be clothed in garments of salvation, which can only be obtained from Jesus (Matt 22:1-15, Rev 3:18)
  4. To ‘keep’ (GK τηρέω, guard) one’s garments, or rather to guard one’s salvation so that one is not found naked, meaning without garments of salvation, unsaved. (Rev 16:15)
  5. To be faithful (obedient) even during times of persecution violence and spiritual deception (Rev 3:5, 7:14, 22:14).

Pertaining to Jesus’ parable of the Head of the House and the thief, Luke’s account has Peter following up with the question…

(Luk 12:41)  Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?”

Matt 24:45

Jesus answers with another parable.

(Mat 24:45)  “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?

Some translations have it as ‘servant’, but the word is actually (GK δοῦλος ‘doulos’), which means ‘slave’.  Slaves were actually like indentured servants at that time, fulfilling a contracted time.

There are two different types of slaves in this parable; the faithful and sensible slave and the evil slave. They are both members of the same household. Jesus is, of course the Master and the He asks “who then is the faithful and sensible slave?”  The text does not answer the exact identity of which this represents, but Jesus provides a description of each for Peter to reflect on.

If the sensible slave represents the disciples the evil slave would represent the Jewish nation that rejected their Messiah at His first advent. In spite of the judgment in 70AD, Jews continue to reject their King and will continue to reject Him until the time of His return, at which point they will repent (Zech 12:10).

Of note, the ‘Great Sanhedrin’ in Jerusalem was eliminated at the judgment of 70AD. Lesser Sanhedrins still existed in limited numbers in declining Jewish communities until finally disappearing from existence by 425AD. If the Sanhedrin is a picture of the evil slave and suffered the greater punishment, the rest of the household of the Jewish nation has suffered on account of their unbelief.

(Luk 18:8)  “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

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Matt 24:46

(Mat 24:46)  “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.

Sadly, many professing Christians do not believe God wants them to ‘do’ anything. They are content to dress in their Sunday best, warm a church pew once a week, raise their hands a few times and then go home and watch a football game. Is this what Jesus and the apostles taught? The Revelation shows that Jesus was very interested in the deeds of the first century church, and He is interested in our deeds today as well.

To the church at Ephesus (Rev 2:2) “…I know your deeds…”

(Rev 2:5)  ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.

(Rev 2:19) To the church at Thyatira “…I know your deeds…”

To the church at Sardis (Rev 3:1) “….I know your deeds….”

To the church at Sardis (Rev 3:2) “…I have not found your deeds complete….”

To the Philadelphian church (Rev 3:8) “…I know your deeds…”

To the Laodicean church (Rev 3:15) “…I know your deeds…”

 

Earlier, in the gospels Jesus taught that in order to inherit eternal life, one must ‘do’ things…to follow Him (Luke 18:22), love God and other people (Luke 10:27-28), repent (Luke 13:3), strive to enter through the narrow door, which is Jesus (Luke 13:24), deny one’s self and again, follow Jesus (Luke 9:23) be converted and be like little children (with a humble, dependent faith, Matt 18:3), to confess Jesus publicly (Matt 10:32) and to ‘keep the commandments’ (Matt 19:17), meaning, to continue doing the commandments (also in 1 Cor 7:19, Rev 12:17, 14:12, 22:14).

 

When the apostle Peter was asked “….What shall we do”? His answer was…

(Act 2:38)…… “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Repenting from sin (including unbelief) and being baptized is something we do, not God.

 

The apostle Paul was also asked “What must I do to be saved?” His answer was…

(Act 16:31)  …..”Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Salvation by God’s grace is the gift of God (Eph 2:8), but believing is something we do. And it’s not all that we are to do. Belief is evidenced by obedience, demonstrated through action.

God also desires that we live a holy life (Heb 12:14). We must die to self (Col 3:3) and not love the world (1 John 2:15). We must be willing to suffer with Christ (Phil 1:29), endure hardship for Christ (2 Tim 2:3) and work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) and through many tribulations (Acts 14:22).  We must show evidence of a genuine salvation by being obedient (Heb 5:9).

 

The first century church knew this and obeyed it. When Jesus returned between 66-70AD, they were found doing what the Master had commanded.

Contrary to the ‘easy believism’ being preached in much of the so-called ‘church’ today (including the “one, two, three say a prayer after me” nonsense), Jesus’ and the apostle’s own statements show that it is actually difficult to be saved and that God has much for us to do.

Jesus did the work of salvation for us on the cross, and it is by the grace of God, through faith that anyone is saved (Eph 2:8-9). Indeed, His work on the cross is the work that we cannot boast about as if it was our own. But even the apostle Peter declared that the “righteous” are “scarcely saved”.

(1 PETER 4:18) IF THE RIGHTEOUS ARE SCARCELY SAVED, WHERE SHALL THE SINNER AND THE UNGODLY APPEAR?

Perhaps due to the difficulty of being saved, the final outcome of our faith is that only few will find eternal life, not many. For Jesus said…

(Mat 7:14)  “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

 

Jesus (the Master) has given His disciples authority and power to establish a New Testament era assembly of believers. In contrast to the Jewish leaders who rejected their King, part of the church’s duty was to provide spiritual food for others, the gospel, beginning at the ‘proper time’ (the day of Pentecost) and thereafter to administrate the church under the authority of Christ.

Matt 24:47

(Mat 24:47)  “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

The church and all who are in it are Christ’s possessions. When Christ returns, genuine believers will rule with Him.

(2Ti 2:12)  If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

And in the Revelation, speaking of matyrs  who have been beheaded for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ….

(Rev 20:4)  ….and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

And pertaining to all other genuine believers…

(Rev 5:10)  “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

(Rev 20:6)  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Matt 24:48

(Mat 24:48)  ”But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’

Obviously this ‘evil’ slave is the one who believes the Master could not return soon. Through the inspired word through Apostle Peter and pertaining to unbelievers in the time just prior to Jesus’ return, the Lord says…

(2Pe 3:3)  Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,

(2Pe 3:4)  and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

It was people such as this, mockers, unbelievers and otherwise unrepentant sinners who, thinking Jesus would not return soon engaged in activities consistent with their moral condition; violence and sexual immorality.

Matt 24:49

(Mat 24:49)  and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;

Unbelief manifests itself in other forms of sin, including persecution violence against those who believe and trust God and even cannibalism. Unbelievers, in spite of their depraved state, still refuse to believe in God.

(Psa 14:4)  Do all the workers of wickedness not know, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call upon the Lord?

“…beat his fellow slaves…”

The text does not say if the beating leads to death or not. However, the context suggests that it is an unjust, criminal offense. Violence toward believers and rejoicing in sin without regard for a future judgment characterized the time period just prior to Jesus’ return.

 

 

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Matt 24:50

(Mat 24:50)  the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know,

As the days of Noah became more evident and Christ’s return hastened nearer, what was a Christian to do?  Jesus says…

(Luk 21:34)  “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;

(Luk 21:35)  for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.

His return came upon all, all of Judaism. It come with the swiftness of a trap for those who Jews who were unprepared, unrepentant sinners and worldly, professing Christians. Similarly, here in Matt 24:50, the Master returned when the wicked slave did not expect it. Judgment came with the return of the Master, in 70AD.

Matt 24:51

(Mat 24:51)  and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Luke’s parallel account has it as…

(Luk 12:46)  the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

“…cut him in pieces…”

To be ‘cut in pieces’ (in the KJV ‘cut asunder’) was a form of punishment practiced by the Persians, among other kingdoms. Dan 2:5, 3:29 indicate that dismemberment was a normative practice while 2 Sam 12:31 and 1 Chron 20:3 indicate that people were sometimes sawn in two.

“…with the hypocrites….”

This would have resonated with the disciples, being Jews. The disciples knew that Jesus had called the Pharisees ‘hypocrites’ on numerous occasions.  It would have been an insult to suggest that Jews could be placed in the same place of punishment as unbelievers.

Luke’s account in Luke 12:46 has ‘hypocrites’ being equivalent to ‘unbelievers’, a stinging indictment to those Jews who for several years had had the full revelation of their Messiah King presented to them in the form of Old Testament prophecies and the personal revelation of Jesus’ Himself.  Still, the Jewish leaders remained in unbelief of Jesus being their Messiah King.

“…weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Gnashing of teeth describes what a person does when in intense, torturous, unending pain. It can also describe somebody who curses continually. Both could go on forever in the lake of fire, since the Revelation indicates that when a person dies, they remain in that same spiritual condition forever.

(Rev 22:11)  “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”

Thus, those who curse will continue to curse. In so doing, they will perpetuate the just wrath of God upon themselves in a hellish torment forever. Jesus uses the picture of the furnace of fire to describe the place of where the souls of the wicked will endure this ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ forever.

(Matt 13:42)  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This place of weeping and gnashing of teeth is also called the ‘outer darkness’ (Matt 8:12, 22:13 and 25:30).

(Mat 25:30)  “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(2Pe 2:17)  ‘…the black darkness..”

(Mat 22:13)  “….outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

(2Pe 2:4) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

Luke’s account of this same parable adds the following:

(Luk 12:47)  “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes,

The slave who had sufficient revelation of the Master’s will yet willfully did not act on that revelation (did not prepare for the Master’s return) will be accountable for it and punished severely.

(Luk 12:48)  but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

The slave who received little revelation of the Master’s will, but who did not prepare for the Master’s return due to ignorance yet still did deeds worthy of punishment will receive a comparatively lesser punishment.

There are different degrees of punishment in the afterlife, as scriptures clearly indicate (Matt 10:15, Heb 10:29). God punishes sinners commensurate with the degree of willful disregard for His revelation of Himself to them, be it through nature or through the gospel.

Those who have been given much revelation of Him are expected to respond in greater measure than those who have been given little. If they do not, they have no excuse and God is obligated to punish them accordingly. Referring to pagans, the apostle Paul said…

(Rom 1:18)  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

(Rom 1:19)  because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

(Rom 1:20)  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Today, God’s abundant revelation of Himself is not limited to just nature, but includes philosophy, the existence of objective moral values, the historical evidence supporting Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, personal testimonies from Christians, revelation the bible and the good news of Jesus Christ from those who preach the gospel. Nobody will be able to plead ignorance on the Day of Judgment.