SECOND ADVENT ACCORDING TO JESUS  


 

THE SECOND ADVENT
OF THE MESSIAH
ACCORDING TO THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS


CHAPTER ONE

Throughout the Old Testament, the coming of the Messiah was viewed from two perspectives. The first presence of the Messiah would be one of humility and service to provide spiritual deliverance for both Israel and the world (Luke 2:29-32), whereas the second presence would be to provide physical deliverance for Israel (His people), judge the unbelieving world, and set up a physical earthly kingdom under the rule of the Messiah. This second coming of the Messiah is described by the term The Day of the Lord, and involves not only the point-of-time arrival of the Messiah, but also a period of time wherein certain events will occur. The ONE COMING of the Messiah in glory and judgment involves first a physical arrival TO the earth in the clouds of the sky, and then later, a physical descent ONTO the earth in the land of Palestine, at which time Israel will be delivered from invading armies, and the unbelievers of the land will be judged.

In the Old Testament passages that refer to the Day of the Lord, sometimes the point-of-time arrival of the Messiah is in view, and other times, certain events that are triggered by His arrival are in view, and still again, some times, both aspects are in view, and again, sometimes the very end of that time period is in view.

The incarnation of The Word, Jesus, the Son of Joseph, the Son of God fulfilled all that the Old Testament prophesied about the first coming of the Messiah, and while He ministered here on the earth, He taught about His second coming. I suggest that Jesus ever had in mind only ONE future coming, and that the teachings were directed to His disciples as those who would carry on the ministry of Light after the resurrection right up until the time that He would physically descend from heaven at the Day of the Lord. As Jesus taught about this momentous event, He usually emphasized the initial point-of-time arrival, but sometimes focused on the deliverance of His people, and sometimes on the judgment to be meted out on the world. At other times He would describe certain things that would happen subsequent to that arrival that would amplify the judgment aspect of His arrival. Furthermore, Jesus introduces us to a new factor that will be associated with His arrival, and that is that the deliverance aspect of His arrival will involve a physical removal from the earth of those who have trusted in Him just prior to pouring out His physical judgments on the world. In all cases, Jesus had only ONE arrival in view; ONE second coming, and in every case, it would be a visible, glorious and spectacular REVELATION of His PRESENCE that would be a source of great hope for believers (His elect) and great fear and judgment for the unbeliever.

The New Testament doctrine of the second coming depends first and foremost on the teachings of Jesus and then the apostles. The apostles did not teach anything new or different than what Jesus taught; they simply provided amplification through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Many claim that because the rapture is MYSTERY doctrine, it could not be known or taught about either in the Old Testament or by Jesus. Because of this, it is claimed, when Jesus was teaching about the second coming, He could not have been referring to His arrival in the clouds to rapture out His believers. However, we know that Jesus did teach about the rapture in the upper room at John 14:1-3. Accordingly, He could just as well have been teaching about the same thing when He mentioned His second coming on previous occasions. In fact, this is exactly what the disciples would understand Jesus to have in mind when He told them that "I will come again and take you to Myself." They would think back just a few days when He taught that "in those days after that tribulation. . . the Son of Man . . . will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end of heaven" (Mark 13:24-27).

There is serious misunderstanding about what the Bible designates as THE MYSTERY, or what is commonly referred to as, mystery doctrine. In the New Testament, God the Holy Spirit uses the word in two ways.

1. In general: as a reference to some bit of information that is simply unknown because it has not been revealed to others.

2. Technical: It is used in reference to the plan of God as it is administered from the incarnation of Messiah all the way through the kingdom with special emphasis on the Church age. The significance is that in the Old Testament times, the specifics of this information were not revealed to God's people and only came to light through the teachings of Jesus and the revelation of God to the New Testament apostles and prophets.

The basic claim is that, the existence and function of the church is something that was totally unknown throughout the Old Testament and only revealed to the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus. Accordingly, since the rapture of the church would be considered mystery doctrine, teaching about it can not be found either in the Old Testament or in the teachings of Jesus. This is not entirely true. Although specific details about the future existence of the church and its function in the world were not taught in the Old Testament, there was provided a general outline of prophetic revelation about the new spiritual nation that would temporarily replace Israel as God's evangelistic agency (Deuteronomy 32:21; Isaiah 28:9-17; 65:1, 13-16; Psalm 118:22-24). In addition, Jesus taught extensively about His second coming and how that coming would relate to the believers alive on the earth at the time; believers who would be members of the new evangelistic agency - the church. At the same time, it is recognized that there are certain aspects of the church which were not known until the apostles taught about it, and these aspects can be considered mystery truth. However, that does not mean, that every time the word mystery is used, it refers to mystery truth. Many times it simply refers to something that is quite unusual and previously unrevealed.

At 1 Corinthians 15:51, we read, "Behold, I tell you a mystery." It is certainly true, that something about the future resurrection of believers is considered a mystery, however, the "mystery" aspect of this is NOT resurrection, nor the time of the resurrection, but the fact that the resurrection will include "living" believers (those who have not died physically). That is, when Jesus returns, not only will He RESURRECT those who have died, but at the same time, He will give resurrection bodies to those believers who are alive at that time. This is the mystery of it. There is nothing about this that makes it dispensational in nature, that is, restricted either to Israel or the church. Furthermore, dispensations applies to the function of God's evangelistic agency during any given time in human history, and does not refer to the status or function of believers throughout eternity. Accordingly, there is nothing in this passage that prevents it from being an amplification of the one and only second coming of Christ which He taught about on several occasions during His ministry.

It is claimed that Israel is promised an earthly kingdom and the church is promised a heavenly kingdom, and that the two cannot be joined at the rapture. This is misunderstood. It is PHYSICAL Israel that is promised an earthly kingdom, that is, those believers of the nation of Israel who are physically alive at the time that Messiah sets up His kingdom, will possess that kingdom as God's special people. All believers of the nation of Israel who have died, inherit a SPIRITUAL kingdom in heaven and live together will believers of all ages in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-14; Hebrews 11:13-16). At the return of Jesus, all these dead believers receive a resurrection body and function then throughout eternity as ONE body of believers known as the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:1-2, 9-14).

(See Article: The Saints in Heaven)

 

ORIENTATION TO THE TEACHING OF JESUS

When Jesus talks about the second coming, he uses the verb, COME and one time, the word revealed.

When the apostles write about it, they use either COMING, APPEARING, REVELATION or PRESENCE, but always it refers to the same event.

Both Jesus and the apostles refer to the second coming in association with an arrival in the clouds, with angels, and in glory. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul places the second coming of Jesus AFTER the time period designated as tribulation (Matthew 24:29-31; 2 Thes. 1:6-10).

The very first time that Jesus mentions His second coming, is when He commissions the disciples to go throughout the cities of Israel and proclaim the gospel (Matthew 10:1-23). He addresses not only the 12 (and/or the 70), but His intent is to give instructions to those believers who will be alive after the resurrection, and in fact, those who will be alive during the persecution from the beast, and witness the return of Jesus.

Jesus chose his disciples not only to assist him in his pre-cross evangelistic ministry, but also to be the foundation builders for the new evangelistic agency, the church. As foundation builders, the disciples were recipients of information pertinent and vital to the church. Jesus did not teach his disciples as members of the nation of Israel, who would remain in the dispensation of Israel, but as those who were to be leaders in the new priestly body.

The information He taught them was pertinent to their lives when it was taught and pertinent to their lives after Jesus ascended and the church began its role as God's official evangelistic agent on the earth. It was indeed information for them and for all those who would believe in Christ through them. It was for the church and for those who would live within the time parameters of the church extending from its inception in 30 AD to "the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20) when Jesus will return and supernaturally gather his elect out from the world.

Everything that Jesus taught, not only to the disciples, but also to the people, was designed to reflect the Divine Value System and how God's people were to live on the earth. Since He was teaching Jews in the context of the national priesthood of Israel (See topic: Dispensations), some of what was said, related to the temple and Mosaic policy, but only what was specifically mentioned as such. Everything else would be standard operating procedure for God's people after Jesus left the earth and He began to build His church upon the foundation of the disciples (Ephesians 2:20). This includes the information in the Sermon on the Mount as well as the Olivet Discourse. Jesus taught in anticipation of the church age; NOT in anticipation of an earthly physical kingdom for Israel.

The term, Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven (which are used interchangeably) refer to the presence and influence of God's authority and viewpoint upon the earth in the realm of the human race. Since God's plan for the ultimate establishment of His authority and viewpoint is progressive in nature, the term can refer to any of several factors that lie within the progressive scope of that plan depending on context. The prayer request, "Let Your kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10), is not a request for the establishment of the Messiah's physical kingdom, but expresses a compliant attitude for the progressive influence of God's truth in the human realm as the divine plan advances. Although the disciples were anticipating an earthly kingdom, Jesus did not encourage this, but instead, emphasized that the kingdom of God was in their midst; that it was initiated by His birth and baptism; and that His death and resurrection would launch a new administration of kingdom viewpoint on the earth through a new priestly agent. The responsibility of the church is to take that KINGDOM OF GOD teaching from Jesus and spread it throughout the world until He comes back (Mat. 21:33-46; 28:18-20; Acts 1:3; Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:6; Eph. 5:5; Col. 4:11; 2 Thes. 1:4-5).

(See Topic: THE KINGDOM OF GOD)

The common view of modern dispensationalism, that views the teachings of Jesus as "still dealing with Israel" and as anticipatory of a future earthly kingdom, is inaccurate and misleading. Dispensations does not involve HOW God deals with any particular group of people, but how God administrates the gospel to the world.

See Topic: Prewrath and Dispensations

THE END OF THE AGE

Jesus often referred to this age, THE age, the age to come, and the end of the age. In the context of His teachings, the term "end of the age," refers to the TRANSITIONAL PERIOD of time between this "earthly" age and the "eternal" age to come.

The PERIOD of time that is "the end of the age" is the SAME thing as THE DAY OF THE LORD. It BEGINS at the second coming of Jesus, when He arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mat. 24:30), and it will END with the creation of the new heavens and earth after the conclusion of the 1000 year millennial kingdom (2Peter 3:10-13).

DURING the time period of "the end of the age" and "the day of the Lord" God will resolve several dispensational factors.
(1) The end of the age of the church - the universal priesthood.
(2) The re-institution of the age of Israel - the national priesthood.
(3) The end of the age of Israel.
(4) The establishment of the age of the kingdom - the Kingdom priesthood.

The word, dispensation, comes from the Greek word, oikonomia, and refers to an ADMINISTRATION of authority or responsibility.
The doctrine of dispensations is a valid biblical truth that simply describes the fact that God has used different agents to communicate His truth to the human race. It does not refer to how he has DEALT with the human race, but how He has ministered gospel truth to the human race. Prior to the arrival of Jesus the Messiah to the earth, the gospel of God was ministered through the nation of Israel as THE NATIONAL PRIESTHOOD. As God used that nation, He made them a unique nation and gave to them a unique system of worship and social life style, designated as the Mosaic law. When Jesus taught here on earth, He was preparing His people for a change from the nation of Israel as that evangelistic agent, to a new evangelistic agent which would be called the church, and would function as THE UNIVERSAL PRIESTHOOD.

The church was to be established after His resurrection, and built UPON Him, The Rock, on the basis of spiritual birth rather than national status (Matthew 16:18-19). Accordingly, His teachings are given with that new evangelistic agent in view, and FOR that agent, and NOT for the nation of Israel, either then or at any time in the future. However, since God still has a future plan for the nation of Israel, Jesus would sometimes mention various factors concerning that plan.

In fact, that plan involves two stages.
Stage one: The re-establishment of the national priesthood so that Israel can complete her mission as the announcer of the Messiah's kingdom.
Stage two: the function of Israel as Messiah's representatives during the KINGDOM priesthood.

The ultimate ministry of the gospel to the human race is to be conducted by the person of Christ Himself during His 1000 year earthly reign. Thus, it is called the age of the kingdom priesthood. The kingdom priesthood is the final age before the eternal age, when all sin and unrighteousness will be once and for all TOTALLY removed, and all the spiritual rebels will be placed in the lake of fire, where they will be judged for all eternity.

This entire period of time from the second coming of Christ to the end of the kingdom priesthood is THE END OF THE AGE. And when that term is used, it can refer to any point of time within that period, depending on the context.

The word, age, translates the Greek, aion, and refers to either time in general (past or future), or to a segment of time, thus age. When Jesus used the term age, other than in an "end of the age" context, it was never in a dispensational context, but He was referring to this present sphere of human existence or the future heavenly existence that follows this one. This will be clear as we look at several passages, such as, Matthew 12:32 where we see, "neither in this age or in the age to come."

THE AGE TO COME refers to the eternal age and THIS AGE refers to the present sphere of human existence, which will be ended when the eternal age begins. Also at Mark 10:30, the present age is characterized by various normal life activities, and the age to come is characterized by eternal life experienced through a new resurrection body. The New Testament only talks about this age and the age to come in reference to spheres of human existence. This is not a dispensational issue, for dispensations are more accurately described by the word, oikonomia, to express a particular administration of God's plan, or time period that falls within the overall "human" age. In fact, the term age should probably not even be considered as ever referring to one of the four dispensations of God for administrating truth to the Human race. It is used as a theological term out from convenience rather than precisely established vocabulary.
See Dispensations

The term, "this age," is used to indicate the sphere of human existence from the time of Adam's fall until the removal of Adam's curse at the end of the Messiah's 1000 year earthly reign. Adam's curse refers not only to the physical curse on the earth, that is described at Romans 8:20-21 as a slavery to corruption, but also to the presence of the sin nature in every human born through procreation. Although much of this "curse" of corruption is removed at the beginning of Messiah's kingdom (The dispensation of the KINGDOM PRIESTHOOD), it is not finalized nor is the sin nature removed from all regenerated humanity, until the creation of a new heavens and earth AFTER the great white throne judgment.

Thus the Scripture shows us several factors concerning the characteristics of this age in contrast to the age to come when humanity will be out from under the curse and out from under Satan's rule.

At 1 Corinthians 2:6-8, we see the term, "the rulers of this age," and are told that they did not understand the purpose and goal of God in allowing the Messiah to be crucified. If they had understood, then they would not have instigated the crucifixion nor carried it out. This refers NOT to human rulers, but the demon rulers under Satan's leadership. If the human rulers, who were involved, had understood, they would have accepted God's plan and allowed the Messiah to be crucified by the spiritual rebels of the nation of Israel. No human who understood would have tried to prevent the crucifixion and subsequent sacrifice of the Savior for the sins of the world (Mat. 16:21-23).

The attack of Satan against the plan of God is indicated at Matthew 16:21-23 when Jesus told the disciples that "He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." Peter protested saying, "God be merciful to you, this shall never happen to you," and Jesus rebuked him saying, "Get behind me Satan, you are not thinking the things of God, but the things of men." Now Satan was not REALLY in Peter, but because Peter was representing the purpose of Satan in attempting to thwart God's plan, Jesus addressed him as such. The issue in the conversation was not the crucifixion itself, for Satan wanted that to happen, but the general idea of going against God's plan. Once God's plan was revealed to Peter, and he resisted it, he was then promoting the viewpoint of Satan and not God.

The fact that Satan and his angels (demons) are viewed as the rulers of this world (or age) is found at Luke 4:6; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; 1 John 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 4:4 (this age). The word, world (kosmos), refers to the realm in which Satan wields his power; it is the realm of the human race. The phrase, this age, refers to the time period that humanity occupies within the scope of eternity past and future.

This age, the age of mankind's existence on the earth, is characterized by the influence of the sin nature which resides in the mentality genes (Romans 7:14-20), and controls the soul of every unbeliever (Romans 6:17a). Accordingly, this HUMAN time period is designated as "this present evil age," at Galatians 1:4, where we find that people can be "spiritually" delivered out from this present evil age because of the saving work of Christ on the cross. This deliverance involves both a spiritual (positional) deliverance from the world system, and a victory over the sinful influence of the sin nature. It is first a positional deliverance that gives every one who trusts in Christ a total forgiveness of all sins and bestows upon them everlasting life; a life of relationship with God for all eternity.

Secondly, the deliverance is an experiential victory over the influence of the sin nature as the believer is enabled through God's word and the Holy Spirit to resist its sinful tendencies and live in righteousness before God during his life here on earth. Accordingly the believer is exhorted at Romans 12:2 to "not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind." And at Titus 2:12, he is exhorted to "live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age."

We also see passages that indicate that the characteristic life and wisdom of this age revolves around human pleasure and reason without a proper emphasis on promoting the righteousness of God. We see the term, "the wisdom of this age" at 1 Corinthians 2:6, and the social logicians (debaters) of this age at 1 Corinthians 1:20.

We see at 1 Corinthians 3:18 that one can be "wise in this age" and not have the wisdom of God; that is, one can have a great deal of human wisdom and not have the divine viewpoint to truly understand and relate to God's character and plan. And at Luke 16:8, Jesus tells us that "the sons of this age are more shrewd (thoughtful)" in the pursuit of riches and pleasure, than are the sons of the light. The use of the word, thoughtful, indicates the use of reason and common sense when it comes to relating to material things. An occupational hazard of the believer (son of light) is to de-emphasize material things to the point of unnecessary physical sacrifice and discomfort. Jesus is not teaching them to be devious and calculating, but to simply use common sense about the reasonable value, acquisition and participation in material things (cf. 1 Timothy 6:17). The use of the term, "this age," again refers to the realm of human existence and not any particular dispensation.

At Ephesians 1:21, we learn that Jesus has been exalted "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in THIS AGE, but also in the ONE TO COME."

This is not comparing the church dispensation with the "next" dispensation, which would be a return to the dispensation of Israel. It is referring to the power structure that exists right now within the age of human history and to the power structure that will exist when the "eternal age" begins, AFTER the millennium.

At Hebrews 6:5, where the believer is said to have tasted of "the powers of the age to come," the reference is to the eternal age, outside the parameters of human history, and to the power source of that age, which revolves around the spiritual nature of resurrection through the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 15:42-44).

At Luke 20:27-36, Jesus clarifies the distinction between "this age" and "that age," which is the age of the resurrection. In "this age," (the age of human history), marriage is a normal life function, that can indeed, be restricted to the parameters of human history. In the next age, the age of the resurrection (the eternal age), there will be no "normal human life activity" and accordingly, no marriage.

This helps us understand the idiom that is translated, "forever," which in the Greek is, "eis ton aiona," which literally reads, unto the age, and occurs 27 times. The significance is that something will last unto and into THE age, which is the age to come, thus on into eternity.

The word is also used throughout the Bible idiomatically to refer to a long period of time either in the past or the future, and context must be observed to determine the significance (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21). Practically all cultures use the idiom, "forever," to refer to "as long as I live here on earth," and not with any eternal focus.

The term, "end of the age" then, refers to the culmination of any EARTHLY (or natural) existence, and the institution of only a HEAVENLY (or spiritual) existence. It is not a single day event, but a progression of events that begins during a time period which can be designated as the "last times" or "last days."

The LAST TIMES begins when God re-starts the national time clock for His chosen nation, Israel, toward the close of the dispensation of the church. This will occur when the 70th week of Daniel begins with the establishment of a 7-year peace covenant, allowing Israel to conduct her cultural worship activity of animal sacrifice.

The establishment of this 7-year covenant and the tribulation that will begin at its midpoint will be the SIGN that the time PERIOD known as the "end of the age" is about to begin. This is what Jesus explained in the Olivet Discourse in answer to the disciples' questions, "what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age" (Mat. 24:3).

This time period is also called The Day of the Lord. And just as with the term, "the day of the Lore, so also the term "end of the age" can refer to any one of several time points within that TIME PERIOD. Context determines whether the focus is on the beginning of the Day of the Lord (the end of the age), or on one of the key events during the Day of the Lord (the end of the age).

With this taken into consideration, the term "end of the age" refers basically, to the end of the age of human history, and only has dispensational application to the end of the church age because the arrival of Jesus at the inception of the day of the Lord is what begins that PERIOD of time known as the end of the age.

For example, at Matthew 28, the term refers to the end of the time period allotted to the church. That is, the time when He will return to this earth and gather out all those who have trusted in Him. It is at this time that God will then return to using Israel as the evangelistic agent to represent the gospel message to the rest of the world. It is also at this time that the TIME PERIOD of "the end of the age" will begin.

To restate, the end of the age is not a day, but a time period that begins at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus "in the clouds of the sky." It extends into and through Christ's physical kingdom on the earth, and concludes with the judgment on the wicked at the end of that 1000 year kingdom. This is established based on the context in Matthew 13:36-50; 24:3; and 28:20, and the content of this discourse.

Examining all contexts will show that the above is true. The END of the age is a period of time that will occur DURING "the end times." The "end times" begins at the inception of the 70th week of Daniel, but the "end of the age" will begin at an unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the 70th week, when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mat. 24:29-31). the END OF THE AGE period will last the remainder of the 70th week + 30 days + 45 days + 1000 years.
It is a transitional period between the previous years of human history and the eternal age.
I suggest that the millennial kingdom is not FULLY the age to come. Again, I use the word TRANSITION.
The rapture begins the age to come ONLY for a few; those who are resurrected. For the non-resurrected types - there will be no "age to come" until the end of the kingdom. 1 Corinthians 15:24,
"THEN comes the end when He (Jesus) delivers up the
kingdom (earthly millennial kingdom) to the Father, when he has abolished all rule and authority."

The age to come is not fully implemented until all the
enemies are destroyed. Verses 15:25-26

The reference to the new heavens and new earth at 2
Peter 3 is also subject to a PARTIAL and a COMPLETE realization.
The rapture is the triggering event for the New Heavens and
Earth, but the Millennial kingdom is only a foretaste of the real thing. During the Millennial kingdom, there is still sin and unrighteousness on the earth. There is still physical death ("death" is not eliminated until AFTER the Millennial kingdom - 1 Corinthians 15:26-28).
It is CHRIST'S righteousness that fills the earth like
the waters cover the sea - not man's.
Only AFTER the Millennial kingdom will there be TOTAL righteousness throughout the universe and PERFECT physical environment.
Thus, the REAL or COMPLETE renovation of the universe does not occur until AFTER the last judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.

It is really simple when one keeps in mind that "the
end of the age" is itself a mini time period and there
is a PROGRESSIVE completion of the former and a progressive institution of the new.

At Daniel 12:13, we read that Daniel is to "go your way to the end (of your life); then you will enter into rest (die) and rise again (resurrection) for your allotted portion at the end of the days." This is often translated as "end of the age," and interpreted to mean the end of the age of Israel, but it probably does not refer to any "end of the age," but rather to the end of the days that have been enumerated in the previous verses, which would then refer to the BEGINNING of Messiah's Kingdom. Furthermore, the phrase "end of the days" probably refers to WHEN Daniel will partake of his portion within the millennial kingdom, and NOT when he will be raised, for he will be raised several months prior to the establishment of the millennial kingdom. Daniel, along with all Old Testament and New Testament saints, will be raised up at the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky at the RAPTURE EVENT.

See Article: The Saints in Heaven

There are two kingdom parables where Jesus uses the term, "the end of the age," to refer to (1) the removal of the unbelievers from the earth, and (2) their placement in the furnace of fire (Mt. 13:39-40, 49). Actually, the separation occurs before the Millennial kingdom and the placement in the lake of fire occurs after the kingdom. The term, "end of the age," then, refers to these two things that will occur DURING the TIME PERIOD known as the end of the age, and not the inception of the time period, which is when Jesus first arrives at His second coming.
When Jesus first arrives at His second coming, believers are removed from the earth and the unbelievers REMAIN behind. They are NOT removed at this time.

The parables teach a summary of what will happen to the wicked of the earth. This COULD refer to a separation of unbeliever from believer AFTER the millennial kingdom, but it seems to me that the focus is on PREPARATION for Messiah's earthly reign. That separation will occur during the 45 days after Armageddon as indicated by Daniel 12:12, "Happy is the one who keeps waiting and attains to the 1335 days." Thus, the separation would occur BEFORE the actual kingdom begins. This corresponds with the separation of the fat sheep from the lean sheep of Ezekiel 34:17-22, which refers to the evaluation of the Jews left alive on the earth after Armageddon. There is also an evaluation of Gentiles who remain alive at that time, to separate the unbelieving from the believing. This is described at Matthew 25:31-46 as separation of the goats from the sheep. In each of these cases, the wicked are removed out from the world (the kingdom) and the righteous remain to go alive into Messiah's earthly kingdom.

So in these parables, the term refers to the TIME PERIOD of "the end of the age" and events that happen WITHIN that time period. Of course, that TIME PERIOD has a beginning point which will be when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mat. 24:30), but the removal of the unbelievers out from the WORLD that is illustrated in these two parables does not occur at that beginning point. That removal of the wicked out from the world will occur after the dust of Armageddon has settled during the 45-day transitional period of Daniel 12:12.

If an interpreter insists on having these two events occur AT THE SAME TIME, that is, (1) the removal of the unbelievers from the earth, and (2) their placement in the furnace of fire, then in that case, the placement of the wicked in the furnace of fire would correspond with their placement in torments in Hades, which happens to every believer at the point of death (Luke 16:22-24). This placement in "flames" would also qualify as a furnace of fire. In that case, it would not have in view the FINAL lake of fire, which will be their inheritance after the millennial kingdom ends (Rev. 20:11-15).
However, in either case, the language still demands that the unbeliever is to be taken OUT OF THE WORLD while the believer remains IN "the world" (Mat. 13:38).

At Matthew 24:3, the disciples ask the question, "what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" They probably have in mind the end of the age (or dispensation) of the nation of Israel, when the promised Messianic kingdom would be established. They could have had in mind the end of the human age as Jesus had taught about when he contrasted "this age" with "the age to come (Mat. 12:32; Luke 18:30," but it is more likely that they were thinking about the establishment of the Davidic kingdom and the Messiah's earthly reign over it.

The second coming and the establishment of the earthly kingdom are directly connected. When Jesus returns, this will begin the purification process to prepare the earth for the kingdom. However, the disciples did not understand when the kingdom was to appear in connection with the Messiah's two advents (Luke 19:11).  Thus, when Jesus answers their questions, He uses the parable of the trees to explain that when the events of the tribulation take place, then they can know that His return is imminent (Mat. 24:33), and that the kingdom of God is imminent (Luke 21:31). But even after the resurrection, the details and the TIME LAG between Christ's arrival in the clouds of the sky and the formal institution of the kingdom was not clearly understood by them until more was taught on it through the revelation from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:6-8).

The Old Testament prophets likewise taught about the coming of the Day of the Lord, during which time period God would bring about the final events in dealing with the human race and with Satan.

This is why Peter indicates that it is BY MEANS OF (preposition EN plus the instrumental case - based on comparison with 2Peter 3:12) the Day of the Lord (Day of God) that God would bring about the renovation of the physical universe. At 2 Peter 3:10-12, we read,

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
by means of which the heavens will pass away with a roar
and the elements will be destroyed by burning,
and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way,
what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!"

Actually, the rendering of the preposition, EN, could be with a locative case, as with most translations. Thus, "in which" (in the sphere of which or during which), the heavens will pass away . . ."
This translation demands that the time period of THE DAY OF THE LORD would extend from the arrival of Jesus to the end of the millennial kingdom.

In either case, the context at 2 Peter 3 indicates that the Day of the Lord extends from the arrival of Jesus "as a thief in the night" and culminates with the renovation of the physical universe.

There is an interesting statement made by Paul at 1 Corinthians 10:11.
In referring to the experiences of the Exodus Generation, and their application to the church, Paul writes, "and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." I suggest that the OUR in this context refers to the church in general as the body of believers that God will use to culminate His plan and bring maximum glory to Himself. It is true that Israel is still God's chosen PHYSICAL nation and that He still has a future plan for them, but of the church it is written at Ephesians 3:21, "To Him (the Father) be THE glory by means of the church and by means of Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever (of the age of the ages)."

Accordingly, the end of the age (ends of the ages) will be initiated in reference to the church and with the church as the launching pad. This is fulfilled, then, at the rapture of the church which occurs at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus which will culminate in the discontinuance of THIS AGE (present earthly age) and the institution of THE AGE TO COME (the eternal spiritual age) after the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.

Because of this, there is a wonderful promise given by Jesus at Matthew 28:20, where He says that He will be with the disciples, (US - the church) "always, even to the end of the age." This means that right up until the time when Jesus returns and raptures all living believers out from the earth (the inception of the end of the age PERIOD OF TIME), He will be with each and every living believer through the indwelling presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 14:6-26; 16:1-7, 12-15). Then after the rapture, the official place of residence for all believers will be the new Jerusalem forever and ever (Revelation 21:1-14).

All of this, then, becomes significant in studying passages such as Matthew 10:5-42, where we find Jesus' first reference to His second coming.

CHAPTER TWO

THE EVANGELISTIC COMMISSION
Matthew 10:1-42

This is one of the key passages for establishing the fact that when Jesus taught His disciples, He was instructing them as ones who would be His representatives throughout the coming age after His resurrection and that those instructions are pertinent to the church right up until the second coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus chose his disciples not only to assist him in his pre-cross evangelistic ministry, but also to be the foundation builders for the new evangelistic agency, the church. As foundation builders, the disciples were recipients of information pertinent and vital to the church. Jesus did not teach his disciples as members of the nation of Israel, who would remain in the dispensation of Israel, but as those who were to be leaders in the new priestly body.

The information He taught them was pertinent to their lives when it was taught and pertinent to their lives many months later, after Jesus ascended and the church began. It was indeed information for them and for all those who would believe in Christ through them. It was for the church and for those who would live within the time parameters of the church extending from its inception in 30 AD to "the end of the age" (Mat. 28:20) when Jesus will return and gather his elect out from the world through resurrection.

Everything that Jesus taught, not only to the disciples, but also to the people, was designed to reflect the Divine Value System and how God's people were to live on the earth. Since He was teaching Jews in the context of the national priesthood of Israel (See topic: Dispensations), some of what was said, related to the temple and Mosaic policy, but only what was specifically mentioned as such. Everything else would be standard operating procedure for God's people after Jesus left the earth and He began to build His church upon the foundation of the disciples.

This includes the information of the Sermon on the Mount as well as the Olivet Discourse. Jesus taught in anticipation of the church age; NOT in anticipation of an earthly physical kingdom.

Matthew 10:1-4

And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits,
to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

Here Jesus organizes His disciples and initiates them into the role of ambassadors for Christ who will represent God's (spiritual) kingdom on the earth. God's kingdom refers to the authority and viewpoint of God. Its promotion is first through salvation (entrance into the kingdom) and then quality of life (Living kingdom viewpoint in every area of life) and finally, service (proclaiming kingdom viewpoint to others).

Matthew 10:5-6,

These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying,
"Do not go in {the} way of {the} Gentiles, and do not enter {any} city of the Samaritans;
but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The initial commission involves a short tour through the cities of Judah (probably only a few weeks) representing the message of the Messiah to the cities and people they visit. Luke 9:1-6 records the same event and at Luke 9:10 (Mark 6:30), they returned from this short tour and told Jesus all that had happened. This special ministry of The Twelve was a one time event only. After this, they remained with Him until the crucifixion. The reason for the restriction clause in this commission is that Jesus' primary concern at this time was to bring Israel back into a right relationship with God (Matthew 23:37) so that a maximum number of Jews would comprise the new priestly body that Jesus was going to build upon Himself, The Rock (Matthew 16:18).

Luke 10:1-20 records the fact that later, probably during the last months before His crucifixion (Luke 9:51), Jesus also commissioned "70 others" to carry out the same ministry to the cities that He intended to visit Himself. This should be viewed as an extension of the initial commission and not really a different ministry. This too, was only a one time ministry as it was preparation for his final announcement to the nation that He was the Messiah.

However, in His instructions we find guidelines that could only apply to those who would be alive after His resurrection, thus, for believers during the church age in general, and specifically to the various kinds and degrees of tribulation (pressure and persecution) that the church will encounter right up until she is removed at Christ's 2nd coming. This is seen at verses 21-23.

Matthew 10:7,

And as you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"

The basic message they are to carry is the gospel.
Matthew records it as proclaiming that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Luke records it as "the kingdom of God." But at Luke 9:6, it is described as "proclaiming the gospel."
Mark 6:12 records it as telling "men that they should repent."

All of this conforms with the message John the baptizer was teaching as well as what Jesus Himself was teaching, that men needed to change their minds about God and believe the gospel (the good news about the kingdom of God) which involved deliverance from sin and possession of everlasting life.

It was not a message that Messiah was going to set up His earthly kingdom. It was an issue of identification with the kingdom of God by faith in the Messiah as the "Lamb of God who lifts up the sin of the world," (Mark 1:15; John 1:29; Acts 19:4).

In addition, there is no difference between the terms kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven (or more accurately, "the heavens"). They are used interchangeably, not only in the gospel narratives, but by Jesus Himself (Matthew 19:23-24).

The message of salvation through faith in the Messiah and then "living" the quality of life which can only be found in Christ, IS the message of the kingdom of God. This is the same message which continued to be proclaimed by the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus as the true message of the church. (Matthew 21:43; Acts 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 28:23, 31; Romans 14:17; Colossians 4:11; 2Thessalonians 1:5)

The message of the kingdom embraces everything from initial entrance through a spiritual birth (John 3:3-5); to the way of life for believers here on earth (Romans 14:17); to the actual presence "in heaven," (Acts 14:22; 1Corinthians 4:20; 1Corinthians 6:9-10; 1Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 5:21); to the manifestation of kingdom fulfillment when Jesus returns (Luke 9:27; Matthew 16:28; Ephesians 1:14; Romans 8:18-25); and then ultimately, the physical kingdom over which Jesus will reign during the millennium (Mark 14:25).

The message is universal to all ages because it focuses on the salvation work of the Messiah, which is either anticipated by those who trust in Him prior to His death, or it is reviewed by those who trust in him after His resurrection.

Matthew 10:8,

"Heal {the} sick, raise {the} dead, cleanse {the} lepers,
cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.

Miracle activity was a sign of the Messianic presence, and the disciples as Messiah's representatives were successful in demonstrating these signs (Luke 9:6; 10:17).

The miracle activity performed by both Jesus and His disciples, constitute the signs of the Messianic presence and the arrival of God's kingdom authority and viewpoint upon the earth in the person of the Messiah. It is not referring to the physical kingdom, but the spiritual kingdom as Jesus explained at Luke 17:20-21.

Jesus explains this at Matthew 11:2-5 when He assures John the baptizer that the miracles are truly indicative of the Messianic presence, just as prophesied by Isaiah at Isaiah 35:5.

Isaiah 35:5 refers to the Messianic presence in His physical kingdom after the defeat of Israel's enemies in connection with the Armageddon campaign (verse 4). However, the same miracle activity that will produce physical healing in the kingdom, is indicative of Messiah's presence at His first coming.

Once the church age begins, this same miracle ministry will be continued by the apostles in order to validate the authority and doctrines that they receive from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:19-20; Hebrews 2:3-4).

Matthew 10:9-15 refers specifically to this "specialized" ministry of the disciples at this time and does NOT refer to a standard operating procedure for the church age.

Verses 9-10,

"Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for {your} journey,
or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.

The principle that "the worker is worthy of his support" is a valid principle that remains intact during the church age as a means of providing material assistance to those who proclaim the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:6-18)

However, this instruction is for this particular campaign upon which the disciples are sent at this time and is not designed to apply to spiritual service in general. Just before His arrest, Jesus gave some general instruction concerning their material needs (Luke 22:35-36.

And He said to them, "When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals,
you did not lack anything, did you?" And they said, "{No,} nothing."
And He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it along,
likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one.

This anticipates an ambassador type function, where the server is seen as a foreign sojourner in a different land than his own. The physical provisions of the ambassador are the responsibility of the ambassador and not the citizenry of the land he is visiting. He certainly must continue to trust in God, but now that trust has a different focus. We are to trust in God to meet our needs as we abide by the economic laws of the land in which we live. And yet, the principle of receiving assistance from the ones who are served remains valid throughout the church age. During both the foundation stage of the church and during its continued presence on the earth, there will be servants of the church who are stationary in their geographical location and will need a more stable financial base than the charity of others. Even Paul, when he was in a particular location for any length of time would provide for his own needs through tent making, and thus have a degree of material security without placing any kind of burden upon others.

See Doctrine of GIVING

 

Jesus also mentioned at Luke 22:36, "Let him who has no sword, sell his robe and buy one." The disciples said that they had two swords, and Jesus told them that it was enough. The swords serve to suggest a criminal association as the reference to the Old Testament indicates at verse 37, "he was numbered with the transgressors." Christ's intent is not that the swords should be used PHYSICALLY for defense, as it clear from Luke 22:49-51, John 18:10-11 and Matthew 26:51-54. The presence of the swords can also be symbolic of the spiritual conflict that moves into an intensified stage once Jesus accomplishes his strategic victory on the cross.

Verse 11,

"And into whatever city or village you enter,
inquire who is worthy in it;
and abide there until you go away.

Upon entering each city, they were to look for a household where the head of the house was a believer (called a son of peace at Luke 10:6).

They were to find this house by inquiring in the city about those who were worthy. The issue of worthiness here is positive volition toward the Messianic promise, which is described by terms such as, "looking for the encouragement of Israel" (Luke 2:25), and "looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38), and "waiting for the kingdom of God" (Mark 15:43). These are those who may or may not have become believers, but are positive to the teachings of the Old Testament that anticipate the arrival of the Messiah as the source of both personal and national salvation for Israel, and their faith in God would be known by many within the city. These would be most receptive to the gospel of the kingdom and serve as a base of operations for reaching others within the city.

Verse 12-13,

"And as you enter the house, give it your greeting.
"And if the house is worthy, let your {greeting of} peace come upon it;
but if it is not worthy, let your {greeting of} peace return to you.

As they learned of a household that was known to be worthy (positive to the Messianic promises), they would extend an invitation of peace to them; a desire that they might experience the peace and comfort of relationship with God, and then proclaim to them the gospel of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah/savior. If the head of the household was indeed worthy and accepted the gospel of the kingdom (called "a son of peace" at Luke 10:6), then the disciples were to stay there and use that household as a base of operations for taking the gospel to the rest of the city (Luke 10:7)

If the household rejected the gospel, then the disciples would verbally retract the desire for them to have peace, since it would be impossible for them to experience that peace if they reject the gospel, and they would then ceremonially reject them by the ritual of shaking off the dust from one's shoes.

Verse 14,

"And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words,
as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet.

There are no recorded examples of this practice in the gospels, but we do see the apostles practicing it at Acts 13:51, and a similar ritual at Acts 18:6 (shaking out the garment).

Verse 15,

"Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for {the} land of Sodom and Gomorrah
in the day of judgment, than for that city.

If the city as a whole rejected the message of the gospel, then the disciples were to leave it in the same manner (shaking off the dust) but also add a formal indictment using the formula of "woe is you," and then compare that city to Sodom and Gomorrah and to Tyre and Sidon (Luke 10:10-15).

The idea of "more tolerable" introduces the theory of degrees of punishment for the unbeliever, suggesting that the unbelievers of Christ's time will be more severely judged than those people of the Old Testament. However, the teaching here is NOT about degrees of punishment in the lake of fire, but of a more severe indictment at the judgment seat of God. The Jews, the chosen people of God, of Christ's time receive a more severe rebuke because they were witnesses of his presence and his works (the Messianic miracles). The verbal comparison, at this juncture in their life, between the Jews and the infamous Gentiles of the past is a harsh rebuke and serves as a final attempt to shock the soul of these people into a reconsideration of what they are doing.

The idea of degrees of punishment is further advocated based on the parable of the stewards at Luke 12:41-48, where one category receives many lashes and the other category receives fewer. However, this refers to the specific time of Christ's return, and not the last judgment. It refers to the quality of shame, depression and sorrow that will be experienced differently based on whether a person had heard the gospel or not, and does not correspond with the ultimate destiny of the unbeliever.

In other words, the person who has heard the gospel and rejected it, will be more frustrated and sorrowful when he finds himself left behind, and the one who did not hear the gospel, will be less frustrated - certainly sorrowful at his predicament, but not equally angry, bitter and frustrated.

The ultimate destiny is represented by the phrase, "assign to them a place with the unbelievers (hypocrites in the parallel passage at Matthew 24:51)," where there is no difference in location or experience.

The term, "cut them in two" (dichotomeo), which is only used in these two passages, does not refer to killing, but to flogging, as is indicated by the two amounts of lashes administered at verse 48. It is symbolic for judgment and does not communicate literally the idea of death.

The purpose of the parable is to tell a story that is compatible with normal life activities and then draw one or two spiritual lessons from the primary focus in the story. So it is with this parable. The unfaithful servant is the unbeliever who fails to follow the design of his master (The Creator and Redeemer) and instead persecutes those who have followed God. The result is experiential judgment, represented by scourging, and subsequent to that, an existence in the place of the unbeliever for all eternity, that is if this person remains an unbeliever during the time period between his "scourging" and the final judgment at Armageddon.

If anything can be made of the two different degrees of lashes received, it is related to the initial punishment only and not to the ultimate disposition to the place of the unbeliever (the lake of fire), where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but no different degrees of punishment.

This image simply communicates that the same sorrow, anger and frustration that the person experienced while on earth, will be perpetuated into eternity as he is placed in the lake of fire. For more details on this see, Commentary: Luke 12.

 

The commission that Jesus gives to the disciples at this time, extends beyond them as the foundation layers of the church, which He will build upon Himself (Matthew 16:18), and reaches to that church as it will exist and function from its inception on the Day of Pentecost until its removal at the 2nd coming of the Son of Man.

The parameters for the instruction that Jesus gives to His people is always from the time of the teaching until Jesus comes back - and He always has in view ONE COMING, at which time he will gather together His elect and begin a judgment upon the world of unbelievers who remain behind.

There are however three distinct periods of time for God's people, when this teaching will be applicable.

1. During the time of Christ's presence on the earth (Matthew 10:5-7; Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-3, 17).

2. After the resurrection and up to the time of the tribulation persecution from the man of lawlessness (the beast of Revelation 13). Luke 21:8-24

3. And during that time of tribulation persecution by the beast up until Christ returns at the Day of the Lord and rescues the living believers from the affliction of that time period (2 Thes. 1:6-10; Matthew 24:9-31).

Accordingly, Jesus gives instructions about the immediate tour on which He sends them; instructions about their ministry after the resurrection which pertains specifically to them; and instructions for that same period of time, which actually goes beyond them and pertains to the generations of the church which will come after them and concludes with that generation that will be alive at the 2nd coming.
We know this because of verse 23 -

"You (the people of the church who minister to Israel during the tribulation)
shall not finish with the cities of Judah until the Son of Man comes."

The present ministry of the disciples obviously did not extend up until the return of Christ. The ministry of the apostles prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was focused on the cities of Israel, and although the events of the end times COULD have taken place in that 70 AD context, they did not. After 70 AD, the focus on Israel was de-emphasized and we see an "unto the uttermost parts of the earth" focus. This will be the case until the 70th week begins, for at that time, even the world focus will be more on Israel than it has been since 70 AD. However, it is important to suggest that the events leading up to the beginning of the 70th week could occur in any generation after 70 AD. Yes, Israel had to be back in the land, but that could have occurred at any time in history. Every generation has viewed itself as a possible context for the return of the Lord, and each generation has claimed that world events were ripe for such a return. But each subsequent generation has added factors so that it can be said that each one progressed ever more closer to the fulfillment of the prophecies. The present generation of this writing (2000 AD) is witness to international, political, military, religious and moral factors that so completely lay the foundation for the commencement of the 70th week of Daniel like no other time in history except the first century, that it is hard to imagine much more of a delay in God's plan, "which He will manifest at His own time," (1 Timothy 6:15, BFT). However, at the same time, let it be acknowledged that delay is still possible, and every believer is exhorted to diligence and patience in anticipation of the Lord's return (James 5:7-8; 2 Peter 3:10-18).

Matthew 10:16

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves;
therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.

1. wise as serpents: basically means "don't be stupid."
The Greek is phronimos and means: sensible, thoughtful, prudent, wise.

It is telling us not to operate from our emotions but use the mind that God gave us to understand and relate to the world around us. It is kind of like - "know your enemy."

It does not mean SNEAKY and deceptive, but it means EFFICIENT in your pursuit of your prey. Our "prey" is the unbeliever - and we need to be EFFICIENT so that we maximize our time and efforts in order to reach them with the gospel.

Like at Colossians 4:6,

Let your speech always be with grace,
seasoned, {as it were,} with salt,
so that you may KNOW how you should respond to each person.

2. harmless as doves: the Greek word is akeraios and it means, unmixed or pure in motive. The idea of unmixed speaks of no infiltration of human viewpoint and evil into ones thought process so that so that his "Christian" motives are not compromised; motives, of course, that are based on Divine love controlling the soul. It thus does no harm to others but actively seeks that which is beneficial to the other person. And in this context, again, we are seeing how we would "pursue" the unbeliever. In the same manner that God loves and want what is best for them, so we should love and seek what is best for them.

In other words, in representing the plan of God in this world, we do not compromise the Divine value system of humility, righteousness and love with the value system of darkness. We do not allow evil to become part of our modus operendi, but ALWAYS operate on love (Romans 13:8-10), and "overcome the evil with the good," (Romans 12:21).

Paul says the same thing at Romans 16:19, "but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil."

Here, the word "wise" is sophos and corresponds with phronimos at Matthew 10:16.
In the Greek, this says wise in reference to THE good. THE good is that which reflects the divine value system and the divine purpose that comes from that value system.

The word innocent is the same word that is at Matthew 10;16, akeraios, which means unmixed.

And UNMIXED in reference to THE evil indicates again, no compromise of the divine value system. In other words, the end NEVER justifies the means. And we do not use "worldly," human viewpoint techniques for either the ambassadorship job we have to do, or for handling any pressures and difficulties in life.

We are in a spiritual conflict and the weapons of our warfare are spiritual rather than physical. It is true that the enemy will incorporate physical factors in his strategies against us, but we must never employ the same devices in either our defense or offense against the forces of this darkness (Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

 

Matt. 10:17

"But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to {the} courts,
and scourge you in their synagogues;

This is a valid concern for the representatives of the Messiah, but it was not an issue prior to the crucifixion, at least there is no mention of such persecution during that time. It did not become a problem until after the resurrection and the beginning of the church age. The reference to synagogues refers to the persecution from Jews which would take place between 30 and 70 AD, and can be summarized by what Saul of Tarsus did as recorded at Acts 22:19, "in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed," and Acts 26:11, "and as I punished them often in all the synagogues."

Matt. 10:18

and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.

This type of persecution also did not occur during Christ's ministry while He was on the earth, but would happen after the resurrection and indeed, throughout the whole church age period until the rapture of the church at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus.

Matt. 10:19-20

"But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak;
for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. "For it is not you who speak,
but {it is} the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

This refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit specifically to the believers of the apostolic church, which provides an "inspiration" type message for those who encounter this persecution. This does not mean that the believer is to neglect his spiritual growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, but what it does mean is that for the trusting believer, there need be no occasion for worry nor preparation of a formal statement of defense. God the Holy Spirit will so work in the believer's soul that the truth he has learned will be brought to the mind and the Holy Spirit will speak through him to meet the needs of the moment.

Luke mentions this teaching from Jesus twice, which indicates that He probably taught it to the disciples on more than one occasion.

At Luke 12:11-12

"And when they bring you before the synagogues
and the rulers and the authorities,
do not become anxious about how or what
you should speak in your defense,
or what you should say;
for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour
what you ought to say."

And at Luke 21:12-15, which is very clearly in a 30 to 70 AD context.

"But BEFORE all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. "It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

It is possible that we find an example of this with Stephen at Acts 6:10 and 7:1-53, who was full of WISDOM before his great teaching sessions (Acts 6:3), and probably did not receive anything NEW from God, but had the ministry of the Spirit correlating his learned wisdom into a message of power and conviction.

Mark records it one time at Mark 13:11

"And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but {it is} the Holy Spirit.

The context at Mark 13, appears to be referring to the time of the tribulation, but I suggest that he is just giving a summary of what Jesus taught and that the true chronological perspective is preserved for us only in Matthew 10, 24 and Luke 21.

Luke 21:12-24 makes it clear that this period of "inspirational" defense through the Holy Spirit will occur between 30 AD and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The clause at verse 12, "but before all these things," refers to what happens before the events of verses 10-11 occur (the national conflicts, earthquakes, famines, and the signs in the heavens). And then at verses 20-24, it is clear that Jesus is referring to a time period before 70 AD, for these verses describe the destruction of the city that occurs at that time.

The point I want to emphasize is that this special help from the Spirit, in the manner that it is described by Jesus, is a temporary provision for the apostolic era and is not continued throughout the church age beyond that era. The Spirit will certainly continue to minister to His people through leading and filling, but the language that Jesus uses in this context speaks of an inspiration from the Spirit, and this does not occur after the apostolic era ends. That is, God will not ZAP someone with the information he needs to either represent the gospel or defend his faith. The standard principle for preparation is the process of spiritual growth as described by Peter at 1 Peter 3:15-16.

"But set apart the Lord Christ (place his viewpoint and character)
in your heart, always prepared with a reply (apologia) to everyone
who asks you a word concerning the confidence that is within you,
but with visible humility (gentleness) and respect; maintaining a
good conscience, so that in the thing in which you are slandered,
those who criticize your good behavior in Christ, may be put to shame," (BFT).

 

Matt. 10:21

"And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father {his} child;
and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death.

This type of persecution will occur all throughout the church age, but in this context, Jesus has in mind that final period of church testimony during the tribulation, just before He comes back for His people.

Once again, I suggest that this kind of persecution did not really occur during the time that Jesus was on the earth, but looks to the life of the church after His resurrection.

Matt. 10:22

1. And you will be hated by all on account of My name:

Again, the focus extends throughout the life of the church into the tribulation and refers to the extreme hatred that will be directed against God's people at that time (Revelation 13:7).

2. but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

This is not referring to endurance in order to preserve one's salvation, but an endurance that results in experiencing physical deliverance when Jesus returns to gather out his people from the midst of the tribulation persecution. On the surface, this passage poses a problem for those who believe in salvation security, but the absolutes of that doctrine are so concrete that the problem is only in finding an alternate understanding of this passage rather than trying to defend salvation security.

See Topic: SALVATION SECURITY

Again, we must observe the time context for this statement. Matthew 24:9-22 gives us the proper context. At verse 9, Jesus said, "then they shall deliver you up to tribulation." This begins the tribulation persecution of the beast's reign. According to verses 15-21, this begins at the midpoint of the week when the beast sets up the abomination of desolation in the temple at Jerusalem. The END that is in view both at verse 13 and 14 compared with verses 22 and 29, is the end of the tribulation, which will be interrupted by the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord. The one who endures the persecution pressures of the tribulation to remain alive when Jesus returns, will be miraculously delivered through rapture as is described at 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10. Paul is writing to the believers of Thessalonica in view of the severe persecutions that they have been enduring (verse 4). He knows that the events that trigger the Day of the Lord return of Jesus might begin any day, and comforts them that they might be physically rescued (called relief) from those persecutions when He does return. The description of this deliverance which is clearly identified as both the rapture of the church and the return of Jesus "with His mighty angels in flaming fire," is seen, not only as a future event, but as an event that could be expected in the lifetime of those believers.

This does not teach a pre-trib type of imminency, but the reality that the man of lawlessness could very well be revealed in their lifetime.

Accordingly, in chapter 2:1-3, Paul assures them that the Day of the Lord, and the rapture (gathering together to Him), which occurs at the same time, has not yet occurred, and that there must first be the revealing of the man of lawlessness, and a period of excessive ungodliness and lawlessness, which is known as the apostasy. This is the same apostasy that Jesus taught about in our Matthew 10 context at verse 21, "and brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them killed." And which is further amplified by Jesus at Matthew 24:10-12,

"and at that time, many will be caused to fall, and will deliver up
one another . . . and because the lawlessness is increased, the love
of the many will grow cold," (BFT).

The ones who are faithful and who manage to survive the death-producing persecution from the beast and all who follow him, will be raptured out from the earth and will appear in the sky with Jesus (Colossians 3:4) when he arrives, and the unbelieving world will observe this (one taken and one left, Matthew 24:40-41), and perhaps the raptured believers will observe as the unbelieving world trembles in fear at what is about to come upon them (Revelation 6:15-17; Luke 21:26).

 

Matthew 10:23

1. But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next:

This does not mean to run away into seclusion, but simply to remove yourself from the direct rejection and persecution of the particular city in view. You then move on to another city and continue to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. This began to be fulfilled about 7 years after the cross, when because of the persecution initiated by Saul of Tarsus, "a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria," (Acts 8:1).

2. for truly I say to you, you shall not finish {going through} the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.

This brings the ministry of the church right up through the tribulation to the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord. Even though the ministry of the church extends beyond Israel to the uttermost parts of the earth, there is never to be a neglect of ministry to Israel. When the man of lawlessness begins his oppressive reign, by setting up the abomination in the temple (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4), and begins to "woo" the Jews into his "fold," there will be the need for a huge campaign to get the Jews of the land as well as throughout the whole world to re-embrace the TRUE Messianic promise and the orthodoxy of their heritage before they commit themselves to the religious system that the false prophet will institute via the mark of the beast. The functional believers of the church will have a specific evangelistic impact to the Jews at this time as stated in this verse.

"Now whenever they persecute in this city, flee to the next;
for truly I say to you, you shall not finish with the cities
of Israel, until the Son of Man comes." (BFT)

In addition, at the time that the man of lawlessness begins his oppressive reign, the two witnesses begin their 1260 day testimony in Jerusalem and they will have a world-wide impact (Revelation 11:3-6).

"And I will grant {authority} to my two witnesses, and they will
prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sack cloth. These are the two
olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the
earth. And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of
their mouth and devours their enemies; and if anyone would desire to
harm them, in this manner he must be killed. These have the power to
shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall during the days of
their prophesying and they have power over the waters to turn them
into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire."

This ministry of warning and pleading with the nation was prophesied by Malachi as being fulfilled in the return of Elijah the prophet. And the purpose is to get them to embrace the heritage of the past which was given to them by God when they were delivered from Egypt, i.e., the Messianic promise.

"Restore the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts
of the children to the fathers - -." (Malachi 4:6)

The Jews as a whole still have a veil over their hearts (2 Corinthians 3:15; John 8:43; 9:39-41) and will continue in their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah (hardness of heart) "until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in" at the Day of the Lord when Jesus will rapture out the church (Romans 11:25). But 144,000 of them will trust in Christ as the Messiah/savior immediately after the rapture of the church, and will then begin to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom in preparation for Messiah's presence on the earth when He will set up His 1000 year kingdom. It is the ministry of certain ones of the church as well as the two witnesses who will plant the seeds of the gospel which will result in this huge conversion.

Malachi 3:1-2

"Behold, I am going to send My messenger,
and he will clear the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple;
and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight,
behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?"

Malachi 4:5-6

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet
before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to {their} children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
lest I come and smite the land with a curse.

It is the purpose of these two witnesses, along with the church, to cultivate the Messianic heritage of the Jews and prepare them to recognize Jesus when He arrives in the clouds of the sky at the Day of the Lord. Thus, God will still have a body of believers on the earth after the day of the LORD arrives and the church is taken out. This body of believers will be from the nation of Israel and will function as the evangelistic agent to the whole world. Those who hold to the Messianic promise will recognize Jesus as the Messiah when He arrives to pour out His wrath on the world. Then they will embrace Him as savior and become representatives of truth for the remainder of the 70th week. These are the 144,000 of Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5, who are probably scattered throughout the world and will be protected from the judgments of God while functioning as His faithful servants.

The prophets of the Old Testament taught that there would be a ministry of warning to the Jews just before the arrival of the Messiah at the Day of the Lord.

"Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the Day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near."

Zephaniah 1:7,

"Be silent before the Lord Yahweh! For the day of Yahweh is near;
for Yahweh has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests."

Zephaniah 2:1-3,

"Gather yourselves together, yes, gather, O nation without shame,
Before the decree takes effect - The day passes like the chaff -
Before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you,
Before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you.
Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth
Who have carried out His ordinances; (religious Israel)
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
PERHAPS you will be hidden In the day of the LORD'S anger."

Those who trust in Jesus as the Messiah BEFORE the Day of the Lord arrives, will be removed from the earth via the rapture. Those who trust in Jesus AFTER His arrival, will indeed be protected from the trumpet and bowl judgments of God that are poured out on the kingdom of the beast, but will continue to face the persecution from the beast.

Amos 5:14-15,

"Seek good and not evil, that you may live;
And thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you,
Just as you have said! Hate evil, love good,
And establish justice in the gate!
Perhaps the LORD God of hosts May be gracious
to the remnant of Joseph."

These are pleas to return to the Messianic heritage as represented in the orthodoxy of the Jewish people via the Old Testament scriptures. For those who re-embrace their heritage and resist the beast and his system of worship, there will be deliverance from the judgments of God poured out on the world. But for those who do not return to orthodoxy, when the Day comes, it will be for them, a time of great darkness and judgment.

Amos 5:16-20,

"Therefore, thus says the LORD God of hosts, the Lord,
There is wailing in all the plazas, And in all the streets they say, Alas! Alas!
They also call the farmer to mourning
And professional mourners to lamentation.
And in all the vineyards {there is} wailing,
Because I shall pass through the midst of you, says the LORD.
Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD,
For what purpose {will} the day of the LORD {be} to you?
It {will be} darkness and not light;
As when a man flees from a lion, And a bear meets him,
Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall,
And a snake bites him.
{Will} not the day of the LORD {be} darkness instead of light,
Even gloom with no brightness in it?"

 

This plea is also made at Isaiah 2:1-22.

In verses 2-4, we see the promise of the Messiah's earthly kingdom and the spiritual and material blessings that will take place. But before there can be the kingdom there must be the judgment on the world at the Day of the LORD'S wrath.

Verses 6-9 describes the condition of the nation in Isaiah's generation but reflects the general attitude of the Israelites during the time of the false covenant with the beast as well.

Verse 5, gives a plea to return to the heritage of the LORD.

"Come House of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD."

Verse 5, is a transition verse from the present crisis in Isaiah's generation to the national crisis in the great tribulation under the oppressive reign of the man of lawlessness. This then, is a plea for recovery before the Day of the LORD comes. If there is no recovery, then when that Day does arrives, the response will be as at verse 10.

"Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD
and from the splendor of His majesty."

This is the same response recorded at Revelation 6:15-17 when the world is confronted with the Day of the LORD return of Jesus.

Verse 11, These will be the recipients of the Day of the LORD judgments.

"The proud look of man will be exposed,
And the loftiness of man will be neutralized,
And the LORD alone will be exalted IN THAT DAY."

Verse 12,

"For to the LORD of hosts, there is a day -
against everyone who is proud and lofty
and against everyone who is lifted up.
That he may be exposed and humiliated."

Verse 21,

". . . before the terror of the LORD
and the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble."

And the plea then, to those who have embraced the beast as the promised Messiah (prior to actually taking the mark) is found at verse 22.

"Cease from THE man! (the definite article has significance here)
Whose breath is in his nostrils; (he is only a creature)
For in what degree and for what purpose
should he be regarded as honorable?" (BFT)

 

Verses 24-42

Jesus continues with general instructions for the disciples concerning the representation of light in the world of darkness. The information is pertinent to them in both the immediate context as well as during their ministry after the resurrection of Jesus. Since the information taught here is not directly pertinent to our primary subject of establishing the application of Christ's teaching to the church I will not develop it at this time.

A most significant thing that can be determined from this first passage, is that, according to Jesus, the ministry of those who trust in Him will extend from His time on the earth at the first advent right up until He comes back, without any interruption. Now the disciples could have interpreted this as meaning that they would be alive when Jesus returns, but regardless of how they may have perceived it, Jesus has in view one CLASSIFICATION of people; those who will be His representatives from the time of the resurrection until the time of the second coming. In this same context (verses 40-42), Jesus talks about reward for service which will be given to believers when He comes back, and that relates significantly to what the apostles taught.

CHAPTER THREE

The next chronological mention of the second coming by Jesus was given around April of 29 AD and is found at Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26. On several occasions, Jesus talked about the day of judgment without directly relating it to His second coming, but we learn from here and from other teachings that it is at, or rather in connection with His second coming that the evaluation of men's works will be conducted.

At Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:34-38 and Luke 9:26, the issue is a salvation identification with Jesus. When this is compared to other passages, it can be seen that Jesus is making an issue of rich-mindedness; the attitude that places greater value on material things than on the issues of relationship with God and eternal life. It is this attitude that is preventing certain ones from trusting in Christ as Savior. The exhortation to deny self and follow Christ is only pertinent to those unbelievers who are being hindered by their material possessions (Compare the instructions given at Luke 8:39). Accordingly, when the Son of Man comes back, he will be ashamed of those unbelievers who reject Him and he will reject them. Another good example of this is seen with the rich young ruler at Luke 18:18-27.

Notice that this second coming of Jesus is WITH His holy angels. This is consistent with all that the New Testament teaches about the second coming, including that written by the apostles. At 2 Thessalonians 1:7, He comes with His MIGHTY angels and at verse 10, He comes to be glorified in (or by) His holy ones. The term, "holy ones," which is often translated saints, does not refer to saints at this passage, because the saints (those who believe in Christ) are mentioned next, "and to be marveled at among all those WHO BELIEVE."

At Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; and Luke 9:27, Jesus tells the disciples that some of them would not die until they "see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. This does not refer to the ACTUAL second coming of Christ, but to a miraculous preview of that coming when Jesus took Peter, James and John up on a mountain and showed them how He would look when he returns.

 

THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS

This event in the ministry of Jesus was a special teaching aid for Peter, James and John and through them to the entire church after His resurrection. It occurred in the final year of His 3 1/2 year ministry, which extended from 26 to 30 AD. This then would be 29 AD and probably after April (Hebrew, Abib). This scenario follows the time scheme of 30 AD as the date of the crucifixion.

Jesus had just finished teaching the multitude about the issue of salvation relationship being a life changing decision that involved an initial dedication to the claim of God upon their life (Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26).

At Matthew 16:27, Jesus says,

"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels,
and will then recompense every man according to his deeds."

This statement, correlated with all that has been taught to God's people up until this time, refers to the Day of the Lord return of the Messiah. It is during this time period known as the Day of the Lord, that He will - -

1. Deliver His elect from their affliction: Matthew 10:21-23;

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Luke 21:27-28

2. Evaluate their deeds. Matthew 16:27

3. Administrate divine justice on those left in the world. Ezekiel 30:3

4. Establish his earthly reign. Daniel 7:14, 22

5. And render the last judgment on unbelieving humanity after His earthly reign. Revelation 20:11-15

Jesus taught about one and only one second coming, and there is nothing explicit or implicit that suggests He ever had anything but one second coming in view.

He then tells the disciples a very strange thing at verse 28.

"There are some standing here who will not taste of (physical) death
until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

The term, "coming in His kingdom," refers to the second advent presence of Jesus in resurrection glory along with His Holy, mighty angels, when He comes to establish His kingdom on the earth. Luke records it as, "see the kingdom of God," and Mark records it as, "see the kingdom of God after it has come with power." These are not contradictions, but all refer to the glorious revelation of Jesus at the Day of the Lord.

This strange prediction is fulfilled six days later when He takes Peter, James and John up onto a mountain and appears to them in the manner He will appear at His second coming. This is recorded at Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:1-13 and Luke 9:27-36. When Luke records this, he says ABOUT eight days after these words instead of six days as with Matthew and Mark. However, Luke is probably viewing the whole period of time, counting the actual day of the message and the day of the event with 6 days in between to equal 8. Furthermore, his intent is certainly not to be chronologically precise as he uses the word "about" (hosei) to indicate approximation.

We know that this fulfills the words of Jesus at Matthew 16:28 because Peter tells us so at 2 Peter 1:16-18.

Verse 16,

"For we did not follow cleverly devised fables
when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we were eyewitnesses of His magnificence."

We learn from Luke, that Jesus went up to the mountain to pray and while doing so, the disciples fell asleep. It was then while the disciples were asleep that Jesus underwent a transformation. He appeared the way He will look in his resurrection glory which is called, "the body of His glory," at Philippians 3:21.

Then Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, "in glory," according to Luke 9:31. "In glory," refers to their radiance in association with Christ's glory. Neither Moses or Elijah have a resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:23), so that is not in view. But they did not appear in their "old" bodies either. There are two possibilities for this phenomenon. It could be that the soul has a visible appearance that resembles the "image" of the physical body that was its "house" while on earth (Luke 16:23; 1 Samuel 28:10-14). Or there is an interim body that the soul resides in while it awaits resurrection (Luke 16:23-24).

When the disciples woke, they saw the trio standing and talking, and hear the content of the conversation (Luke 9:31). How the disciples knew it was Moses and Elijah is not indicated and there is no point in trying to figure it out. Obviously, there was a valid identification made.

The conversation with Jesus was about "His departure which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31)." That departure refers to His physical death on the cross and the subsequent resurrection and exit from the earth via His ascension 40 days after the resurrection. The conversation also probably entailed everything that would result from that death and looked forward to His return at the Day of the Lord which God "will make known at His own time (1 Tim. 6:15)."

Shortly, Moses and Elijah moved away from the Lord. Luke 9:33 reads, "And it came about as they were departing from Him."

This prompted Peter to suggest to Jesus that they stay a little bit longer and in fact build three tents for them and Him. This of course, was a foolish suggestion, but Peter was still half asleep and not mentally focused. The Scripture reads about Peter, "not realizing what he was saying." We also have here perhaps one of the greatest understatements in Scripture when Peter says, "It is good for us to be here."

Jesus did not address this suggestion from Peter, and Moses and Elijah continued moving away and a cloud descended upon them. Luke tells us, "and they were afraid as they entered the cloud." Although there are a variety of opinions about WHAT exactly is going on with WHOM, I suggest that it is easy to determine that only Moses and Elijah go into the cloud, and that the disciples are afraid when they see them enter. Jesus remains outside and the disciples remain outside. After this, the voice of the Father came out of the cloud and addressed the three disciples telling them, "this is My Son, My chosen one, Listen to Him."

The voice is referring to Jesus who is outside the cloud in the sight of the disciples, and it is addressed to the disciples who are outside the cloud.

It seems that this exhortation from the Father serves as a mild rebuke to Peter who was a little bit out of focus concerning what was of spiritual value. He wanted to prolong a physical experience, but the more important issue was the content of Jesus' message and adherence to that content.

This voice from the Father reminds us of the other time that He brought such unique attention to the Son, which was at the baptism of Jesus, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," (Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22).

Based on the appearance of these two men here with Jesus in a foreshadowing of His second coming, we can conclude that Moses is also a herald of that coming. There is no prediction of this for Moses as there is for Elijah, but because of the association presented here, it seems best to conclude that the two of them function together in the capacity spoken of in reference to Elijah at Malachi 4:6, "And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers."

But how can either of these men come back and minister on the earth?
First, it is no trick for God to bring back to life one who has died. Abraham's understanding of this is quoted for us at Hebrews 11:19, "having concluded that God is able to raise up even the dead." And Lazarus is a prime example of this (John 11:17-44). But of course, Lazarus was only four days dead and we are speaking of those who have been dead for many centuries.

Actually, this is no problem if God has preserved and protected the physical bodies of those involved. There would be no problem even if the bodies had been incinerated, but we do have specific information that the body of Moses was protected (Jude 9). It is quite interesting that only three people in the entire history of Mankind went through physical death apart from the normal mechanics; Enoch (Heb. 11:5), Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5-7), and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11-12).

Furthermore we have specific information concerning the protection of the body of Moses after his soul left. Jude verse 9 tells us that Michael the Archangel was given the responsibility to place the body of Moses in a place for safe keeping and preservation to await its role in the last days. The soul of course, went to paradise in hades (Luke 16:22) as did all Old Testament believers at death, including Enoch and Elijah. None of these men received a resurrection body either, nor ascended into heaven.

Jesus is the only one to have received a resurrection body and no one else will until the Day of the Lord return of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). In addition, no one had ascended into heaven prior to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (John 3:13), at which time He took to heaven all Old Testament believers who resided in hades (Eph. 4:8-9).

In view of God's preservation of the body of Moses, it is easy to see the same preservation assigned to Elijah's body. Thus, it is totally possible for these two men to be resuscitated at the end time to fulfill the ministry foreshadowed at the Mount of Transfiguration; the ministry of Elijah prophesied to occur prior to the coming of the Day of the Lord as recorded at Malachi 4:5-6. There is no need for the body of Enoch to be protected and preserved since there is not even a hint of a future role for him. It is suggested that his body was simply "buried" by God to await resurrection at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus.

It is the view of this writer that the two heralds of the second coming are the two witnesses of Revelation 11:1-13. For a more detailed discussion of this, see the article, The Two Witnesses.

After Moses and Elijah leave the scene, the disciples inquire about the Old Testament prophecy that Elijah is to come first.

At Matthew 17:10-11, they ask, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
And Jesus answered, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things."

This answer recognizes the fact that there will yet be a future visit from Elijah just prior to the Day of the Lord return of Jesus, as predicted by Malachi. However, Jesus also says, "Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished."

Matthew 17:13 tells us that the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptizer. We learn elsewhere that John the Baptizer had come "in the spirit and the power of Elijah," which indicates similarity in purpose and in message. The job of them both is to announce the presence of the kingdom of God. John's message would encourage individuals of Israel to escape the judgment on the nation in 70 AD. Elijah's message will encourage individuals to escape the Day of the Lord judgments that will come upon the world immediately after His return.

When Peter writes about this event at 2 Peter 1:16-18 he has in mind the second coming of the Lord which is the hope and expectation of the church. He describes this second coming later in chapter 3:10-14, as the Day of the Lord and the Day of God, AND as an event that the church should be expectantly anticipating and promoting. There is nothing in Peter's letter about the church being removed at some time prior to this visible and glorious return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord. Paul described it as "the blessed hope, EVEN (and) the appearing of the glory of the Great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ," (Titus 2:13).

The apostles always understood the teachings of Jesus as referring to one second coming which would initiate a chain of events culminating in the renovation of the universe and the last judgment.

Luke records some teachings of Jesus that parallel what He taught during the final week before the crucifixion. It might be that Jesus taught the same information on more than one occasion, or that Luke simply records the same information but without any chronological context as does Matthew. One such example is found at Luke 12:42-48, which is also recorded at Matthew 24:45-51. However, within the same context as what is given by the other Synoptics (The Synoptic gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke), Luke often adds additional teachings not included by those others. We see this in the Parable of the Watchful Servants, which is found at Luke 12:35-41. But even though this parable is not recorded by the Matthew or Mark, it directly correlates with the other parables of the second coming found in each of the synoptics.

Luke 12:35

"Be dressed in readiness, and {keep} your lamps alight.

This is addressed to those who will be living between Christ's departure from this earth (ascension) and His second coming. The issue is preparation through salvation relationship with God, which is acquired through trust in Jesus as the Messiah/Savior. Those who are thus prepared will be rescued from the affliction of those who are persecuting them, just as Paul taught at 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

Luke 12:36

And be like men who are waiting for their master
when he returns from the wedding feast,
so that they may immediately open {the door} to him
when he comes and knocks.

The slaves are members of the human race, all of which have creature responsibility to God and to God's Son, the Savior. Those who are waiting for the master are ones who have trusted in Christ as Savior and have a salvation relationship with God. The wedding feast is simply a part of the parable and has no spiritual correlation with the wedding of the church to Christ. Remember that a parable relates a normal situation in life in order to communicate one or two basic spiritual truths, and one should not take every detail of the parable and try to find a spiritual counterpart with some aspect of revealed truth. The return of the master from the wedding feast communicates the second coming of Christ, which is viewed here as being unexpected and without warning. That unexpectedness is explained at verse 40 as having no knowledge of the day, but does not preclude knowing the general season of the Master's return. Matthew records it at verse 24:50, as not knowing either the day OR the hour.

Luke 12:37

Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find
on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you,
that he will gird himself {to serve,} and have them recline
{at the table,} and will come up and wait on them.

Those of humanity who have trusted in Christ will be honored by Him. The language of mutual fellowship suggests the gathering of these believers to Himself when He comes in the clouds of the sky (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1).

Luke 12:38

Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third,
and finds {them} so, blessed are those {slaves.}

Both Matthew (Matthew 14:25) and Mark (Mark 13:35), divide the night hours into four watches, using the Roman system of measurement, and there is no reason to think that Luke would use the Jewish system, which divides those hours into three watches. The second watch thus, refers to the hours of 9 PM to 12 AM, and the third watch, from 12 AM to 3 AM.

However, I don't think that one can determine from this that Jesus will return at night because what is night in one part of the world is day in another part. It is simply used to indicate what has already been stated as unexpectedness.

Luke 12:39

And be sure of this, that if the head of the house
had known at what hour the thief was coming,
he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

This reference to moral responsibility to one's home and household, not only gives divine support for the exercise of self defense in a burglar situation, but further illustrates the benefit of preparation for Christ's return.

Luke 12:40

You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming
at an hour that you do not expect.

Once again, this is addressed to all members of the human race and exhorts preparation for Christ's return. Being ready refers to having a salvation relationship with God through personal trust in Jesus as one's Savior.

Luke 12:41

And Peter said, "Lord, are You addressing this parable to us,
or to everyone {else} as well?

Peter recognizes the general application of Jesus' teaching here, so asks for clarification. Does this exhortation apply to all people or just to the disciples? Jesus answers this by giving another parable (Verses 42-46), in which it is clearly stated that the consequence for not being prepared is total rejection and dismissal to the place of the unfaithful.

Luke 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."

This parable is also mentioned at Matthew 24:45-51, but Luke adds some factors that amplify the spiritual truths illustrated. The ONE spiritual lesson of this parable is that at the return of Jesus, there will be some who are accepted and some who are rejected. Beyond this, it is not wise to find too many other spiritual correlations to the many embellishments in the story.

I have already referenced and discussed the doctrine of salvation security and need only to remind the reader here, that it is impossible for a person who has been saved by God and is being held in God's grasp to ever lose his salvation. The unprepared servant here is clearly one who has not trusted in Jesus as the Messiah/Savior, has no relationship with God, and will be totally rejected at the return of Jesus for His elect.

There are some who think that this parable should be applied to believers only, and that the faithful slave is the believer in fellowship, and the unfaithful slave, the believer out of fellowship. The obvious focus in this parable is rejection of the unfaithful slave when Jesus returns. The believer, no matter whether he is in or out of fellowship with God will be gathered unto the Lord at His return, and the language of total rejection that occurs in this parable, cannot refer to any believer at that time. Part of the total rejection language in this parable is an assignment to the place of the hypocrite (Matthew 24:51) and the unfaithful (Luke 12:46), and the placement of the believer anywhere but "My Father's house (John 14:1-3)," at Christ's return is contrary to Scripture. (See Discussion on the partial rapture theory).

 

Luke 12:42

And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward,
whom his master will put in charge of his servants,
to give them their rations at the proper time?

The illustration pictures mankind in general, all of whom have creature responsibility to the Creator and are accountable to Him for having a right relationship with Him through faith in the Messiah. The servant who is faithful is one who has trusted in Jesus Christ as the Messiah/Savior.

Luke 12:43-44

Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

The language in the parable is symbolic of what happens when Jesus returns. It refers to the blessing of being with Christ, and should not be taken as some kind of literal assignment of responsibility. When Jesus returns, all who have trusted in Him will be gathered out of the earth, taken to heaven, and enter into eternal peace.

Luke 12:45

But if that slave says in his heart,
"My master will be a long time in coming,"
and begins to beat the slaves, {both} men and women,
and to eat and drink and get drunk;

This refers to a person, who in creature arrogance, ignores the Creator's call upon his life and chooses not to trust in Christ as the Savior. But instead, lives in the self-centeredness of his sin nature, indulging his pleasure lusts and oppressing others. The "long time in coming" phrase reminds us of what Peter writes at 2 Peter 3:3-4.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come
with {their} mocking, following after their own lusts,
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."

Luke 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.

When Jesus comes back to this earth at the Day of the Lord, He will come as a thief in the night (1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15), unexpectedly (suddenly) and without warning to the unbelieving world (1 Thes. 5:3; Luke 21:34). For that matter, it is even possible for believers to be unprepared through carnality and be caught of guard (1 Thes. 5:4-11; Luke 21:34-36). However, all believers will be taken out, and only the unbelievers will remain to undergo the Day of the Lord judgments, and ultimately end up in the lake of fire unless they change their mind and believe in Christ during the period between the rapture and Armageddon. Paul mentions both aspects of judgment at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. At verse 6, "repay with affliction" refers to the Day of the Lord judgments (the wrath of God) administered to the unbelievers on the earth. At verse 9, "the penalty of eternal ruin," refers to the last judgment which assigns the unbelievers to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). When Jesus returns the unbeliever will be rejected by Him and remain on the earth. This rejection is communicated in the parable by the phrase, cut him in pieces.

This is a difficult statement. The Greek MEANS to cut something into two parts, however, based on context here, it seems to be idiomatic for scourging. Cut into two pieces would imply physical death, and if that were the case, then for this slave (in this normal human context), the fact that he would then be assigned to the place of the unbeliever (hypocrite at Matthew 24:51), would be quite meaningless. In addition, in the Luke passage, the fact that we have this category of disobedient slave divided into two types, who each receive different lashes from the whip, would indicate that the idea of "cut him in pieces" refers to a scourging rather than physical death. We do not have 3 different categories of faithless humanity here. We have only two and both will be "cut in pieces" when the master returns. However, if upon or after being cut in pieces, they are then assigned LASHES based on their respective awareness of God's demands upon them, then the idea of death associated with "cut in pieces," is not valid. Thus, it seems more reasonable that the term refers to the idea of scourging that really CUTS into the skin and peels it away from the body.

The immediate problem with this is that we have no other place where the term is used in our literature (except at Exodus 29:17 in the LXX), and it is used quite consistently in secular literature for the practice of using sword or saw to cut someone in half. But I think that the context is stronger and I will interpret the phrase, "cut him in pieces," as the idea of a serious scourging.

After being rejected by Jesus at His return, the unbeliever is assigned to the place of the unfaithful hypocrite, (Matthew). He does not go immediately to that place, but is simply assigned to it. The final placement in the lake of fire will not occur until the last judgment, and although he will be rejected at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus, he will still have occasion to trust in Christ up until the battle of Armageddon. After that, all unbelievers will be removed from the earth and placed in Hades.

Then, sometime after the experience of flogging, the unbeliever will be assigned to the place of the unfaithful hypocrite, and at that place there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth."

This image simply communicates the extreme sorrow, anger and frustration with what the person is experiencing in this place of judgment.

The phrase, "weeping and gnashing of teeth," only occurs 7 times in the Bible and always in connection with the final disposition of the wicked when he has been cast into the gehenna of fire (Matthew 8:12; 13:42; 13:50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28).

In verses 47-48, we have an amplification of the punishment of being "cut in pieces" (scourging) based on personal knowledge of one's responsibility to God. This passage has been used to teach that there are degrees of punishment in hell, and on the surface, this seems to suggest that. However, the key is to recognize that the PRIMARY theme or lesson of this parable is that of acceptance or rejection by the Messiah at the Day of the Lord, and that eternal destiny is not even in view.

At the same time, it is difficult to determine the significance of these two very clear distinctions in punishment, that cannot be dismissed from the parable as an insignificant embellishment.

There will be two types of unbeliever left behind at the day of the Lord return of Jesus. (1) The one who was fully aware of what God expected of him, and (2) the one who did not know what God expected of him.

Luke 12:47

"And that slave who knew his master's will
and did not get ready or act in accord with his will,
shall receive many lashes,

This clearly indicates the administration of a more severe punishment upon the one who is blatantly rebellious against God. It seems that these different degrees of punishment take place at the return of the Lord rather than at some time subsequent to that return.

The puzzle is, that one cannot advance much upon being left behind at the rapture. What then would be the significance of more lashes vs. fewer lashes?

The reason for this difference is stated at verse 48b as the principle of greater accountability. That is, the person who knows more of God's will for their life, is more accountable to God for failure, than is the one who knows less. I suggest that in this parable, the principle revolves around the gospel message. The doctrine of evangelism teaches that God reveals himself through the physical creation so that people can become aware of His existence; His eternal power and divinity (Romans 1:19-20).

The one who accepts this NATURAL revelation about God and begins to seek for Him will be given the specific gospel information about the Messiah's salvation provision. This person will be held accountable for accepting or rejecting the specific gospel message of "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31). However, if at the point of God consciousness, a person rejects the NATURAL revelation about God as seen in the physical universe, then God will have no obligation to give to that person the specifics of the gospel message. This person will be held accountable for his rejection (without excuse, Romans 1:20), and still be judged as an unbeliever, but the divine indictment will be less severe in that he did not PERSONALLY reject Jesus as the Christ. This is taught by Jesus at Matthew 11:20-24.

Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles
were done, because they did not repent.
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.
Nevertheless I say to you,
it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in {the} day of judgment, than for you.
And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you?
You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred
in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.
Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for
the land of Sodom in {the} day of judgment, than for you.

The performance of MIRACLES mentioned in this discourse refers to the visible manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah and indicates that greater revelation was given to Christ's generation than to the former generations mentioned. The unbelievers of both generations will be held accountable for their unbelief and both will be assigned to the lake of fire, but the former will receive a less severe indictment at the last judgment. The question is, does this "more tolerable" idea refer simply to the initial rebuke at the great white throne, or to the actual degree of eternal ruin (2 Thes. 1:9) in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15)?

Where is the PUNCH? What is the significance of this warning by Jesus to the people of His generation, IF they simply receive a more severe verbal rebuke at the last judgment, BUT, share equally the torment in the lake of fire (Rev. 14:10-11; 20:10, 15)? It is very possible that the "punch" is the fact that the soul of the unbeliever is going to be more sad and miserable in view of HAVING KNOWN what was expected of him. Whereas, the unbeliever who did not know will be less disturbed at the Day of the Lord. HOWEVER, It might be more reasonable to think that the ignorant unbeliever would be MORE frustrated, angry and miserable, since the suffering he is in for was UNEXPECTED. The unbeliever who did know will also realize that the suffering he is going through was well proclaimed to him during is life on earth.

Luke 12:48a

but the one who did not know {it,}
and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.

Again, we can clearly see that a less severe punishment is administered upon the one who is rebellious against God, but who does so ignorantly, that is, without a full understanding of his obligation to the Creator.

This is the one who has become aware of God via God Consciousness type revelation, but has not expressed interest in the Creator enough to elicit from God the proclamation of the gospel to that person.

Luke 12:48b

And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required;
and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

This refers to the one who has been taught the gospel and has rejected it. He is held more accountable and will receive a more severe indictment such as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 11:20-24.

Another occasion is found at Luke 17:20-37, where the Pharisees inquire about the coming of the kingdom of God.

CHAPTER FOUR

At Luke 17:20-37, Jesus first teaches that the kingdom of God is actually among them right now, which of course, refers to his own personal presence on the earth, for He is the embodiment of the kingdom of God, the presence and influence of God's authority and viewpoint. Then he communicates specific information to the disciples although it is possible that the Pharisees and others were present and listening. At verse 22, Jesus says, "the days will comes when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it." The days of the Son of Man refers to the presence of Messiah on the earth. At this time, it is Jesus' presence at His first advent, but there will come a time when, after He has ascended to the Father, the disciples will long for his presence (one of the days of the Son of Man). This refers to His second coming, but they will not see it. Could this be a subtle statement that the disciples would not be witness to the second coming of Christ; that it would not occur in their lifetime?

Apparently, during their lifetime, there will be many who will say to them, "look here, look there," but Jesus teaches that His second coming will be both visible and spectacular. It will be visible just as lightning when it flashes across the sky, and whether in the lifetime of the disciples or in some future generation, no believer should be deceived into following these seductive claims. This visibility factor of His second coming is amplified during the Olivet Discourse as recorded at Matthew 24:29-30. It is clear that the second coming of Jesus, which was the expectation of the disciples and of the organized church after them would be attended by unusual and spectacular cosmic signs.

"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,
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" (Matthew 24:29-30, NASB).

So, just as lightning is visible and spectacular, "so shall the Son of Man be in His day (Luke 17:24)." Furthermore, in the "days of the Son of Man" (Luke 17:26), which must refer to the general time period surrounding His visible return, people will be living in peace and security, and not be expectant or prepared for His arrival. Jesus describes this as just like it was in the days of Noah before the flood, and in the days of Lot before the destruction of Sodom.

SUMMARY OF LUKE 17:20-37

The Messianic presence involves 2 parts.

Part one is the first advent and part two is the arrival of Jesus at the Day of the Lord, which will initiate the final events prior to the establishment of the 1000 year Messianic kingdom on the earth.

Luke 17:20-21

For the Pharisees, indeed, for the entire nation of Israel, the kingdom of God did not have physical signs that pointed to Jesus and said - this is the kingdom of God. Jesus told them that the kingdom was among them right now. It was His personal presence on the earth as the promised Messiah, but they did "not recognize the time of your visitation," (Luke 19:44). The only visible signs that were given to them were the miracles of his healing ministry (Matthew 11:2-5) and the resurrection after His death (Matthew 12:38-40).

Luke 17:22-24

For the disciples, who already know that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the issue is kingdom living during their lifetime, and anticipation of His future return which He promised to them on several occasions. For them and all who are of the church, remaining on the earth up until the time of the end, they are not to listen to the false teachers saying that He is here or there, but they should know that His presence will be visibly and spectacularly seen as lightening streaking across the sky. In fact, at verse 30, Luke uses the word apokalupto (revealed) to describe this arrival "as lightening," and neither this verb nor its noun (apokalupsis) is used elsewhere in the gospels. However, the noun is used 2 times by Paul and 3 times by Peter to refer specifically to the coming of Jesus for His church (1 Cor. 1:7; 2 Thes. 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 4:13).

That is why Paul calls His coming "the blessed hope and (even) the appearing of the GLORY of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ," (Titus 2:13).

Luke 17:26-30

The condition of Noah's generation and the city of Sodom just prior to their respective judgments, portrays the condition of the world just prior to the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord. In the same way that normal life activities were going on until the judgment actually came, so also, such activity will be occurring prior to the signs and the arrival of Jesus at the Day of the Lord. And in the same way that the people of those two previous generations, were lulled to spiritual sleep and apathy through their occupation with the pleasures and possessions of this life, so also, will the generation of Christ's second coming be indifferent and unprepared for His return. These will be left behind when Jesus delivers those who have trusted in Him, and they will encounter the Day of the Lord judgments; the wrath of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 6:16-17).

Luke's account of these days as given in chapter 17, is in summary form and should not be held to a rigid chronological progression, although, it is possible that Luke has recorded an earlier teaching of Jesus on the same subject. But in either case, Jesus has in view the general time period leading up to the Day of the Lord, when He will return as lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24 gives the chronological details of that time period and Luke 17 needs to be inserted into the framework that Matthew provides.

At Matthew 24:9, Jesus taught that there would come a time when the church (the YOU, which refers to the Messiah believers who will be alive at that time, whether it is the specific group of disciples who received this teaching or the believers alive in some future generation), would be delivered up to tribulation (pressure or affliction - but NOT, "to be afflicted, as with the KJV). This begins the oppressive reign of the man of lawlessness at the mid-point of the 7-year period known as the 70th week of Daniel. At verse 9-14, Jesus gives some of the details about what would happen during that tribulation. At verse 13, "the one who endures to the end (of it) will be (physically) delivered (from it). Just as Paul writes at 2 Thes. 1:6-8.

"For after all it is {only} just for God to repay with affliction
those who afflict you, and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted
and to us as well at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven
with His mighty angels in flaming fire,
dealing out retribution to those who do not know God
and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus."

Accordingly, when the events of the tribulation are triggered by the revealing of the man of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:3-10) as he sets up his image in the Jerusalem temple (the abomination of desolation), it is only reasonable that anyone who is in the city - indeed, the whole region of Judea, would want to get out. This would be of special urgency since the beast will be focused on killing Christians and those of Israel who will not take the mark (Rev. 12:13-17). Now this is not instruction to "run away and hide," for the believer is never taught to do that, but it is simply telling them to get off the tracks when the train starts coming. And since the urgency of the situation will be so great, they are exhorted not to be concerned about their material possessions, but to simply get out of Jerusalem. The one who cherishes these personal possessions (his life; psuche in the Greek) will take valuable time to try and collect them and will likely be vulnerable to the rapid advance of the beast. The one who recognizes the urgency of the situation and does not cherish his personal possessions, will flee more quickly and likely be preserved from the beast's initial aggressions.

Furthermore, anything that would hinder their speedy departure would be undesirable, such as inclement weather (winter) or sabbath day restrictions (certainly an issue in Jerusalem). By the way, the sabbath day is an issue because of the restrictions imposed by Jewish society, and not because of any sabbath observance by the Christians who are leaving. In addition, "Woe to those who are pregnant or nursing," for this will greatly impede one's speedy escape. The reason for the urgency is because the presence of the abomination of desolation in the temple will begin the great tribulation of oppression by the man of lawlessness, and anyone who resists his religious mandates will be hunted down and killed.

This is instruction ONLY for those who are in the region of Judea. This is where the oppression begins. And as these believers in Palestine flee from one city to the next, they are to continue to proclaim the gospel until Jesus arrives to take them all out through rapture at the Day of the Lord. This, as we previously noted, is what Jesus taught at Matthew 10:21-23, "But whenever they persecute in this city, flee to the other; for truly I say to you, you will not finish with the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes." This persecution is seen at Revelation 12:17, "And the dragon . . . went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."

At this point it needs to be observed, that there would be another occasion where the people would be told to flee. But this applied only to Jerusalem, and is in reference to the siege of the city by the Roman army, which would occur in just 38 years from the end of Christ's ministry. The two events need to be kept separate for a proper understanding of both. In addition, it further needs to be pointed out that this instruction to flee, either in the 70 AD context or in the tribulation context, is different from the unbelievers of the land who run into the mountains to hide from Jesus when He first appears at the Day of the Lord (Revelation 6:15-16; Isaiah 2:19-21).

During this time of persecution in the tribulation, many will be telling the believers, "here is the Messiah, or there is the Messiah," but they should not listen, knowing that Jesus will appear as lightning flashing across the sky, and it will be obvious when his arrival is at hand. Furthermore, when the tribulation events begin, it is then that the church will know that Jesus is about to return, because it is that very return that will end, in fact, cut short the time of tribulation. When the tribulation begins at the midpoint of the seven year period known as Daniel's 70th week, there will still be about 3 1/2 years left before Jesus cleanses the earth and sets up His 1000 year kingdom. It had always been understood that this reign and oppression of the man of lawlessness (the beast), would last for that 3 1/2 years. However, Jesus will return prior to the end of the beast's reign and interrupt his oppression, and begin to judge the earth. Thus, the tribulation will not last the expected 3 1/2 years, but actually be shortened by as much as 18 months.

Jesus tells us that the reason for this is "unless those days are cut short, no flesh would be delivered; but for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short," (Matthew 24:22). The believers during this time, "when these things begin to take place, (are to) straighten up and lift up your heads, because your (physical) redemption is drawing near," (Luke 21:28). This physical deliverance refers to the rapture of the church which is when Jesus supernaturally removes those living believers from the earth; gives them a new supernatural body; and joins them with Himself as well as all the believers who have died throughout the history of God's redemption program (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Matthew 24:31).

In Luke 21:29-32 and Matthew 24:34-35, Jesus taught the parable of the trees, where we see that in the same way that the budding of leaves on the trees announces the arrival of summer, so also, the events of the tribulation, announce the arrival of Jesus.

"So you too, when you see all these things (tribulation events),
recognize that He is near; right at the door," (Mat. 24:33).

At Matthew 24:36-39, Jesus taught that society would be living in relative "peace and security," as in the days of Noah, and would be caught totally off guard when the judgment arrives through the Day of the Lord return of Jesus. This "at ease" lifestyle results from worshiping the beast and benefiting from his economic policies (Rev. 13:17). It is this attitude of "peace and security" that Paul writes about at 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3,

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord
will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying,
"Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly
like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

Although this information is taught TO the disciples on the Mount of Olives, it is given to them so that they can in turn communicate it to the church and to the world. Accordingly, Jesus gives general warnings about preparation for His return, "therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming," (Mat. 24:42; 25:13). This and the parables that follow are to be taught to the unbeliever so that the urgency of trusting in Christ can be emphasized before He comes back and it be too late. Because when He comes back, then "one will be taken and the other will be left" (Mat. 24:40-41) and the one who is left will go through the Day of the Lord judgments and encounter even greater pressure to reject Jesus.

At Luke 17:26-30, Luke records the same illustration of "peace and security" to show that DURING this time period BEFORE Christ's return, the world will be occupied with its own pleasure-oriented lifestyle and be unprepared for the actual return of Jesus.

At Luke 17:31, "in that day," does not refer to the actual day that Jesus returns, but it refers to "during" the time period that is initiated by the abomination of desolation, as is recorded by Matthew; the time period of "all these things" mentioned at Matthew 24:33. Here, Luke simply records one of the factors that Jesus taught concerning this time period, without placing things in a rigid chronological order. Accordingly, the warning to "get out of town" without looking back is in reference to when these believers "see the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place," (Matthew 24:15).

At Luke 17:33, Jesus exhorts that anyone who has greater concern for his physical possessions, than his physical life, will put his physical life in jeopardy. Likewise, the one who recognizes the urgency of the situation, and seeks to get out of town quickly, without concern for the possessions he is leaving behind, will likely escape the immediate danger from the beast's takeover.

In addition, there will be many unbelieving Jews in the land of Judah who will flee the presence and authority of the beast. These are represented by "the woman" at Revelation 12, and God has a special plan of protection for them because they are still His chosen nation and will be functional not only during the Day of the Lord judgments, but also be the core of those who enter into Messiah's physical earthly kingdom.

At Luke 17:34-36, Luke records another factor related to the Day of the Lord return of Jesus, and that is what will occur at the actual event of gathering His elect out from the world. That is, there will be people throughout the world who will be "side-by-side" in various situations, and the believer will be taken out while the unbeliever will remain behind. Matthew records this at verses 24:40-42, where the context relates this directly to verse 31 and the gathering (episunago) of the elect out from the world. Jesus is the one who initiates the event, but he uses the angels to do the actual gathering. At verse 24:31, it says that the angels will gather the elect, but at Mark 13:27, it says that HE will gather the elect. This gathering of the elect is described as a gathering together (episunagoge) at 2 Thessalonians 2:1, and as a meeting with the Lord in the air at 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

At both Luke 17:34 and Matthew 24:40, the word for "taken" is paralambano and means to take or "receive" to the side of someone. This is the same word that Jesus used LATER, on the night before His crucifixion, when he tells the disciples that "I will come again and RECEIVE (take) you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also," (John 14:3). It is reasonable that Jesus had the same event in view on both occasions, and that Paul wrote about the same event at 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.

Some teach that this separation of people is the removal of unbelievers from the earth when Jesus descends to the earth at the battle of Armageddon. But there is no indication anywhere in scripture that such a phenomenon as Jesus describes occurs at that time.

There are THREE occasions where there will be a separation of one category of people from another.

1. The rapture
2. The separation of the Gentile nations AFTER Armageddon
3. The separation of the Jews AFTER Armageddon.

We cannot let the "separation parables" in Matthew 24 and 25 flavor our understanding of MECHANICS.
The parables are not designed to present mechanics, but principles.
The mechanics are represented in non-parable passages. Although the two separation parables at Matthew 13:36-43 and 47-50 indicate the actual mechanics by showing us a GATHERING together of the people into one location, from where they will then be separated.

Matthew 24:37-44 is not a parable. Verses 45-51 is parable.
Matthew 25:31-46 is not a parable. Verses 1-30 is parable.

The specific "separations" must be understood from the two non-parable passages mentioned above.
Mat. 25:31ff is the judgment of Gentile nations after armageddon.
The bible tells us of NO separation of UNBELIEVER from believer as in "one taken in judgment."
Their judgment is accomplished by gathering ALL of them into one place and then evaluating them.

The rapture on the other hand, is the only separation where one group would be snatched away from others.
Thus, Mat. 24:37ff is the rapture.

Even if someone demands that everything in Matthew 24:29ff is SECOND ADVENT- as in coming to the earth, they still CANNOT make verses 37ff refer to that time of judgment, for there is no such separation that takes place. They are instead, all gathered together.

The next thing that Luke records is at verse 37. The disciples ask, "Where?" and Jesus answers, "Where the body (corpse) is, there also will the vultures be gathered." Remember that Luke is just listing a variety of things that Jesus taught. This question and answer does not belong here RIGHT AFTER Jesus teaches that some will be taken and some left, as if to suggest that the disciples are asking where they will be taken. Matthew records this statement in connection with the coming of the Son of Man like lightning flashing across the sky, but not in connection with the gathering of the elect (Mat. 24:27-28).

For just as the lightning comes from the east,
and flashes even to the west,
so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

So when the disciples ask this question, "Where," they are asking where will be the ARRIVAL of Jesus when He first appears? The answer Jesus gives focuses on Palestine as the center of activity at this time; the headquarters of the beast. The specific answer reflects a common image not only from Jewish culture as can be seen from the Old Testament (Job 39:30; Prov. 30:17), but from the laws of nature as well. What we need to determine is the significance of this image as Jesus relates it to His arrival at the Day of the Lord. It should be clear that those who are taken in the rapture, are not taken to a place where the vultures are eating a corpse. It is also clear that when Jesus arrives, as lightning that flashes across the sky (Matthew 24:27-28), there will be the gathering of His elect when "one will taken and one will be left," (Luke 17:37). We also know that this event takes place immediately after the tribulation, which through that event, is cut short from its expected 3 1/2-year duration.

It is at this time that the wrath of God and of the Lamb will begin to judge the beast and his kingdom. Those who are spiritually dead will be subject to horrendous physical judgments which will culminate in the battle of Armageddon where the corpses of the fallen soldiers will be food for the scavengers of the sky (Revelation 19:17-18). At Matthew 24, when the elect are gathered out INTO THE SKY, the non-elect remain on the earth to go through "the things which are coming upon the world," as Luke 21:26 indicates (parallel to Mat. 24). These Day of the Lord judgments begin and culminate in the land of Palestine, and it is perhaps this that Jesus has in mind when he answers the disciples' question of "where," with "Wherever the corpse (body) is, there will the vultures be gathered." The corpse is the dying body of the beast and his kingdom which is centered in Jerusalem, and his destruction will become final 30 days after the end of the 70th week at the battle of Armageddon.

CHAPTER FIVE

Luke next records information about the second coming when he relates an occasion when Jesus was teaching about prayer (Luke 18:1-8). In this session, Jesus teaches that God is faithful to bring about justice for His elect. His elect are His people who have entered into a relationship with Him based on personal trust in the Messiah. This principle of God's faithfulness is extended beyond the present audience and reaches to those believers who will be alive at the time that Jesus comes back.

Verse 8 reads, "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find THE faith on the earth?" Faith refers to the function of faith within believers who are relaxed and confident through trusting in the character and plan of God, and adhering to the standards of THE faith (the established body of Christian doctrine). The issue is not the PRESENCE of believers on the earth, but the presence of believers functioning "in fellowship" with God ("abiding in Him," 1 John 2:28). This rhetorical question recognizes the very real possibility that there will be a minimum number of faithful, functional believers alive on the earth at that time. There will be, according to Jesus (Matthew 24:10-12) and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3, the apostasy), a time of great spiritual apathy and apostasy, that is, a falling away from the faith (both the belief system itself, and the function of faith in life) during the time of the beast's oppressive reign. The point seems to be that, although God normally comes to the rescue of His people SPEEDILY when they call upon Him, during the time of the tribulation, there will be few who call out to Him, and thus the delay of many months until He returns and cuts the tribulation short, and rescues the elect of the church out from the earth (1 Thessalonians 1:7).

There is only ONE second coming. The coming of the Son of Man here is exactly the same event that Paul has in mind at 2 Thessalonians 1:7, "And to give relief to YOU who are afflicted (under pressure, in tribulation) and to us as well, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire."

The next recorded mention of the second coming by Jesus was during the week before His crucifixion. In fact, during this week, He taught about it quite often, and we have parallel accounts in the synoptic gospels that need to be correlated. But at the beginning of that week, when he came riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey to fulfill prophecy, the people proclaimed Him as their king and expressed an expectation that He was going to set up David's kingdom at that time (Mark 11:10). This opinion expressed by the people might have been misguided, or they might have been expressing their anticipation of the establishment of the physical kingdom at sometime subsequent to Messiah's victory on the cross. However, for this to occur, there would need to be the rise and reign of the (Gentile) prince who is to come of Daniel 9:27. To clarify the proper time scheme for His disciples and the new priestly body (the church) that will function after His resurrection until He returns, Jesus will explain that Jerusalem will be destroyed and the Jewish people be scattered until God's allotted time for Gentile rule is fulfilled (Luke 21:24; Mat. 23:38).

Information about what Jesus taught during this week was not recorded chronologically by Luke, as he had been so good at doing previously, but he simply recorded a variety of passover week teachings that pertain to God's plan for Israel and the second coming. Accordingly, I will correlate the three synoptic gospels based on the parallel content and not be concerned with any chronological compatibility between the three.

The most detailed information was taught during what has come to be known as The Olivet Discourse, but just before that, Jesus mentioned His second coming in the context of Israel's future repentance. This is recorded at Matthew 23:29-39.

 

MATTHEW 23:29-39

The Temporary Displacement of Israel as the Evangelistic Agent of God

On one of the days during the week before the crucifixion, Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees in what can be labeled the Woe Discourse. The last of the SEVEN woes pronounced by Jesus (Verse 14 is not in the earliest manuscripts) is a final indictment on the nation, rebuking it for its past rebellion and violence against the kingdom of God.

Matthew 23:37

"O 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.

God's constant pleading with the nation to be faithful to Him and to her evangelistic commission consistently fell on deaf ears. How He longed to bless them and comfort them in His love and grace, but they were unwilling. The final expression of their rebellion was when they rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah, and as a result, God chose to temporarily turn away from them and give the evangelistic commission to someone else.

 

Matt. 23:38

"Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

This refers to the rejection of Israel as the national evangelistic agent and her representation of that commission through her temple and her worship system. The temple, around which the nation's worship and service revolved, will be abandoned by God and destroyed by Rome in 70 AD (Luke 21:24). Jesus, as the Messiah, will leave and return to His place in heaven, and not come back until the nation as a whole acknowledges their sin of rejection and seeks restoration with Him (Hosea 5:14-15).

Matt. 23:39

"For I say to you, you shall not see Me from now until you say,
'PRAISED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"

The final expression of this national rebellion will be when they reject Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah. As a result, God will turn away from them as the official evangelistic agent and give to a different group the responsibility and privilege of representing the message of the kingdom of God on the earth (Luke 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9-10). The overt sign of this discipline on the nation will be the desolation of the temple as stated at verse 38, "your house is being left to you abandoned." This takes place in 70 AD, 40 years from the time it was spoken, but the functional displacement of Israel begins at the feast of Pentecost in 30 AD when God gives the Holy Spirit to the church.

The nation of Israel will be out under this severe discipline until, collectively, as a nation, she recognizes that she rejected her Messiah and seeks to reconcile to God. This will take place during the great tribulation and as a result, Jesus will return and they will embrace Him and proclaim of Him, "Praised be the one who comes in the name of the Lord (verse 39)."

Hosea 5:14-6:2 (NASB)

For I {will be} like a lion to Ephraim,
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.

This refers to the judgment on Jerusalem in 70 AD. The tearing to pieces is the ruin of the nation at that time. the carrying away is the worldwide dispersion of the Jews, and the going away refers to the fact that Jesus will be off the earth until the nation recognizes her iniquity and seeks God.

I will go away {and} return to My place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.

Their affliction is the great tribulation, when because of the great persecution mounted against them by the beast, they will acknowledge their national failure and return to the values of the Messianic promise.

This is indeed, the ministry of the two witnesses as Malachi teaches.

"Behold I am going to send to you Elijah the prophet
Before the great and terrible Day of the LORD.
And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children
And the hearts of their children to their fathers,
Lest I come and smite the land with a curse" (Mal. 4:5-6).

There will be a plea of the nation's faithful exhorting the citizenry of Israel to return to the Lord.

"Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn {us,}
but He will heal us; He has wounded {us,}
but He will bandage us.
"He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day
That we may live before Him.

The three days could possibly refer to the last half of the 70th week of Daniel. In that case, the two days would refer to the time of persecution which functions as national discipline from God and sees TWO YEARS from the inception of the beast's reign and deliverance through the Day of the Lord return of Jesus in the THIRD YEAR. This is, of course, nothing to be dogmatic about, however, there seems to be little meaning for the idea of literal days, and this passage is most certainly dealing with the end times generation, and it thus corresponds with the time scheme involved with the 70th week of Daniel. Furthermore, the use of days to refer to a specific number of years is not uncommon in Scripture. It is probable that the 4 days of observing the passover lamb refers to the 3 1/2 year ministry of Jesus (Exodus 12:1-6). Ezekiel was told to lie on his side for a number of days corresponding to the years of Israel's unfaithfulness (Ezekiel 4:4-6).

After the return of the Messiah, which is probably sometime during the third year of the beast's reign, God will raise up the nation of Israel through the conversion of the 144,000 Jews who will begin to function as God's servants to evangelize the rest of the nation and perhaps the rest of the world as well.

Thus, Israel will not again see Jesus (the Messiah) until the time of His appearance, after they seek the face of God in the midst of the great tribulation, which could be as late as the third year of the beast's reign. Then right after the Day of the Lord return of Jesus, when after all the believers are raptured off the earth, 144,000 Jews trust in Christ as their Savior (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-4). At this time, God will restore the evangelistic commission to Israel, and as servants of God, the 144,000 will be instrumental in bringing a multitude of people to God (Revelation 14:6-7), and then be the core of Jewish believers who will begin life in the Messiah's earthly kingdom.

And of course, this mention of the return of Jesus, as well as at Hosea, refers to only the ONE second coming, which will occur at the day of the Lord.

The next passage is the Olivet Discourse itself, but as I said earlier, the 3 Synoptic Gospels need to be harmonized and viewed together.

Matt. 24:4

And answering, Jesus said to them,
See to it that no one deceives you.

Mankind has always been preoccupied with the future, and of course, the disciples of Jesus were no exception. During the week prior to the crucifixion in 30 AD, Jesus frequented the temple in Jerusalem every day. And it was on one of these days, the 12th of the month Nisan, that it appears as though He actually baited the curiosity of the disciples by speaking of a future destruction of the temple with very strong language.

The occasion, according to Mt. 24:1 and Luke 21:5, was the disciple's enamorment with the temple structure. The "bait" then, appears to be recorded at Mt.24:2 and Luke 21:6.

Mt 24:2,

Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you,
there shall surely not be left one stone upon
another, which will not be torn down.

This of course, elicited from them the obvious question of - When? But in actuality, they asked Him four specific questions.

1. When will these things be? Mt. 24:3; Mk. 13:4; Lk. 21:7
2. What will be the sign of these things? Lk. 21:7; Mk. 13:4
3. What will be the sign of your coming? Mt. 24:3
4. And the sign of the end of the age? Mt. 24:3

The answers of Jesus, recorded for us in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, give us an outline for the history of the church up until the gathering of the elect (church age believers) out from this world at the arrival of the Day of the LORD (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) which is the event that triggers the end of the age.

The possibility of deception requires specific information so that the church might be oriented to the progress of history and not be distracted from her evangelistic purpose.

If the church, or more specifically, individual believers, get too distracted and discouraged at the progress of evil in the world, they will lose sight of the true objective for their continued sojourn here on the earth (1 Peter 2:9).

At 1 Peter 4:12, we are told that we should not be "surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing, as though A STRANGE THING were happening to you." Thus, we have the Olivet Discourse, wherein Jesus orients us to the historical trends that will occur during the church age, leading up to His return at the Day of the LORD.

As this is studied, we need to keep in mind that Jesus was speaking to the disciples as the firstfruits of the church, and that the information given to them is applicable to the church throughout its history.

Jesus chose the disciples as representatives of His message, and as His representatives, He taught them concerning the issues of ambassadorship for their benefit and for the benefit of those who would believe in Him through them. Although upon occasion Jesus taught directly to the Jews of the nation of Israel, as ones who were expected to accept Him as the Messiah, most of the time He was teaching His disciples the information they and the church would need for spiritual life fulfillment after His departure. Since the disciples were the foundation blocks of the church, the information they received is just as applicable to all the church as it is to them. In the passage before us, Jesus is not talking to the Jewish nation, but to the disciples as the first leaders of the church, and He is giving them information that is and will be pertinent to the church throughout its history on the earth.

We also need to recognize the need to properly harmonize the three accounts that we have in the synoptic gospels. And as they unfold it will be clear that the progress is viewed from 30 AD, as an uninterrupted history of the church, until Matthew 24:29-31, when Jesus returns in association with the Day of the LORD signs and gathers His elect from the world.

It is at this time that we are first introduced to the word, parousia, to refer to the second coming of Jesus. Matthew uses it four times and it is used 13 additional times in the epistles - consistently for the ONE and only second coming of Jesus, which will be visible, physical and in GLORY. The word means a "being" beside (para). Thus, the idea of both arrival and presence with greater emphasis on the idea of ARRIVAL, thus the translation, COMING.

The disciples ask, "What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?"

The answer is prefaced with warning not to be misled because there will be many who come with deceiving words of false claims either about WHO the Messiah is, or about His return. The context of Matthew 24 indicates that "the end of the age" refers to a PERIOD of time rather than a single day event. However, that end-of-the-age time period will be initiated by the COMING of Jesus. Accordingly, the second coming is identified as the end of the age, so when Jesus says at verse 6, "this is not yet the end," He means it is not yet the time for the second coming (the parousia). And at verse 14, the gospel will first be proclaimed throughout the world of that "tribulation" generation, and "then shall the end (parousia) come."

However, we need to be careful concerning verse 13, "whoever endures until the end will be delivered," because here, the word "end" refers to the end of the specific events just outlined in verses 9-12; the events of the tribulation.

At Matthew 24:5-6, Jesus explains that there will be several things that occur throughout history, as normal or matter-of-course historical trends. These things should not elicit any special concerns from the disciples CONCERNING the end, because the end will be prefaced by the specific time of tribulation, which will be evidenced by the presence of the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place. Jesus mentions these GENERAL historical trends in order to keep the disciples, and the believers of the church after them, oriented and aware so that they might not be deceived and misled.

At Matthew 24:5-6, Jesus breaks down the historical trends into three periods.

1. Those before 70 AD.
2. Those between 70 AD and the great tribulation.
3. And those during the great tribulation.

CHURCH AGE TRENDS - General trends both before and after 70 AD:

Matthew 24:5,

For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ,
(Lk. 21:8, I am He, and, The time is at hand) and will
deceive many. (do not go after them. LK)
(For the mystery of lawlessness is already working - 2 Th.2:7)

Verse 6

And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars;
see that you are not disturbed, for it must happen,
but it is not yet the end.
(Lk. 21:9 And when you hear of wars and disturbances,
do not be alarmed; for these things must happen first,
but the end is not immediate.)

These "wars and rumors" have been occurring since 30 AD, and are to be viewed as general trends without placing any specific significance upon them. In fact, Jesus calls them "the beginning of birth pains at verse 8. "Beginning birth pains" are those intermittent pushes and shoves which indicate that a pregnancy is moving toward its "end." However, before that "end" can occur, there must be the final birth pains which are the body's actions to bring that baby into the world and "end" the pregnancy.

The "pregnancy" is God's plan to establish the Messiah's reign on the earth via His return at the Day of the Lord.
The beginning birth pains are those historical trends which progress from Messiah's first advent until the revelation of the beast, the man of lawlessness at the midpoint of Daniel's 70th week.
The final birth pains take place during the oppressive reign of the beast which is called the tribulation, the great one.
The end of the "pregnancy" is when Jesus returns at the Day of the Lord and administrates divine wrath upon the world in preparation for establishing His 1000 year earthly kingdom.

At verse 6, Jesus said, "the end is not yet." This clarifies that when the "wars and rumors" occur, the oriented Christian should not be deceived into thinking that it portends the end of the age. Jesus' explanation of why it is not yet the end, is amplified at Matthew 24:7 and Luke 21:10-11. Here, He describes trends that take place on a much larger scale than the ones just mentioned - -

For nation shall rise against nation
and kingdom against kingdom - - .

There are two things in this passage which tell us that these "larger scale" trends are those which will occur after AD 70.

1. The idea of "kingdom against kingdom" conflicts does not describe the conflicts that took place within the Roman Empire prior to 70 AD.

2. At Luke 21:12, the phrase, "but before all these things."
Here Jesus backs up in His discourse in order to describe the events leading up to and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

By saying, "before all these things," Jesus is placing the following information before the "larger scale" trends just described. And so, chronologically, these events should be viewed first.

As we approach this study, a very important point needs to be recognized in order to properly correlate the language Jesus uses as He tells of the events that will take place. Jesus taught about two different times of persecution and two different times of crisis for Jerusalem. He uses similarity of language to describe both, and we must be careful to make the separation between the two situations or else we will miss the true intent of His teaching.

When Jesus talks about the persecution between 30-70 AD, he uses language that is very similar to what He uses to describe the persecution of the great tribulation. But by careful analysis, the distinction between the two periods can be preserved. The same principle applies to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the oppression by the beast in the great tribulation.

Matthew 24:7-8,

for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,
and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes,
(and plagues, and great signs from heaven; Luke 21:11)
Now all these things are the beginning of birth pangs.

 

All this continues from 70 AD as the beginning of birth pangs.
Birth pangs for what? For the end that is identified here in Matthew, as the return of Jesus (verses 32-35) and elsewhere as the Day of the LORD.

To recap: The rumors of war are not a sign of the end BECAUSE (for) there will be massive world-wide conflicts (kingdom against kingdom, etc.) along with famines, plagues, earthquakes and atmospheric disturbances. But all these things are just birth pangs leading up to the end but are not the end. And since we are dealing with a symbolic "pregnancy" instead of a literal nine month pregnancy, there is no way to determine the length of time allotted to this time of "beginning birth pangs." In other words, the beginning birth pangs should not be viewed as "signs of the season," for they are not. The signs of the season begin with the final birth pangs; birth pangs, which generally point to the end occurring within a matter of hours. This season is when the church comes under the oppressive reign of the beast at the midpoint of Daniel's 70th week. These are the signs that Jesus has in mind at Matthew 24:33, "you too when you see all these things." The context indicates that the "all these things" refers back to a specific time period in the context (the tribulation) which begins with a specific historical event, identified as the rise of the beast who sets up the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place.

The final or advanced stage of birth pangs begins with Matthew 24:9, the events of the great tribulation. It is during this time frame (verses 9-28) that the gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world, "and then shall the end come (verse 14)." The result of that gospel proclamation will be additions to the church which will be raptured at the Day of the LORD, and at least the 144,000 Jewish converts after the rapture.

In the meantime, the normal historical trends of a world under a physical and spiritual curse, will increase until we arrive at a time when alleviation from much of the pain will be administered by a world ruler seeking to establish THE peace on the earth.

1. The wars and rumors continue via nation and kingdom conflicts.

2. Famines occur as a result of warfare and man's mismanagement of the environment.

3. Plagues occur for the same reasons as well as from mankind's general moral decline.

4. Earthquakes occur because of the curse on the earth.

5. Celestial phenomena from meteors and comets to UFO's will surprise and deceive mankind.

All occur, bringing us naturally closer to the "season" of final birth pangs but are not signs in and of themselves.

Thus, the natural flow of Matthew 24 is to record the progress of the church from AD 70 into and to the end of the great tribulation. The message of Jesus bypasses any "direct" mention of the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel and simply picks up at the mid-point of the week when the man of lawlessness begins his oppressive reign as the beast out of the sea. In fact, everywhere in scripture, the emphasis is not on the 1st half of the week, but always on the 2nd half. There is a conspicuous absence of information about the 1st half, but an abundance of information about the middle of the week, the oppressive reign of the beast and all that follows.

The probable reason is because the 1st half is a time of peace for most, if not all, the world, as a result of the covenant that is established by the world ruler and the peoples of Palestine. Revelation 6:3 records the taking of THE (Greek) peace from the earth, which is what happens when the beast breaks his false covenant. If the general historical trend from 30 AD is "wars and rumors," then there will be no "official" peace that can be taken from the earth except one that has been established.

The history of the church, then, progresses without interruption up into that first half of the 70th week and into the great tribulation from which she shall be delivered, as that tribulation is cut short (Matthew 24:22), by the visible return of Jesus at the Day of the LORD. Paul taught this very idea at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.

For after all it is {only} just for God to repay with affliction
those who afflict you, and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted
and to us as well at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven
with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to
those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of
our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal
destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory
of His power, He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day,
and to be marveled at among all who have believed -for our testimony
to you was believed.

This corresponds with the deliverance that Jesus taught about at Matthew 24:13, 21-22, 29-31

"But the one who (physically) endures to the end shall be delivered.
For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred
since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.
And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.

"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, 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. "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.

Both refer to the one and same second coming of Jesus. And at verses 27, 37, and 39, the word parousia is used to describe it.

Matt. 24:27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

Matt. 24:37 "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

Matt. 24:39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

The PAROUSIA of Jesus will be sudden, it will visible, and it will initiate judgment upon the world. But it will also be a time of deliverance for believers (Matthew 24:40-44). Accordingly, when the times comes for Christ's arrival and it is "announced" by the signs in the sun, moon and stars, there will be negative response by the unbelievers of the world as they mourn and tremble in fear (Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:26; Rev. 6:15-16). The believers, on the other hand, will be excited and expectant of immediate deliverance as they look up in anticipation of the return of Jesus. Luke 21:28

"But when these things begin to take place,
straighten up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near."

The redemption in view here probably refers to the physical deliverance from the persecution of the beast during the tribulation, but it could also have reference to the "redemption of the body," (Romans 8:23) which anticipates receiving a resurrection body.

This exhortation that Jesus gives to the disciples, once again, perfectly correlates with Paul's words of encouragement at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.

It is argued that this understanding is not valid because dispensational distinctions prevent God from DEALING with Israel and the church at the same time. However, whom God DEALS with is no issue in dispensational distinctions. Furthermore, during the first 40 years of the church, there was time allotted for God to formally displace Israel through the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:33-45; 23:29-39). This time between dispensations is called transition and allows God to administer a smooth transfer of evangelistic authority from the previous agency to the next one. The same thing will occur during the 70th week of Daniel. God restarts Israel's time clock, giving her the rest of the promised 490 years (483 years were fulfilled until the crucifixion of Jesus, and God turned away from Israel with 7 years left for the fulfillment of her evangelistic commission). The purpose of this last 7 years is to bring Israel back into a right relationship with God, and it is the evangelistic activity of the church which contributes to this. By the end of the 7 year period, Israel will once again be restored to relationship and fellowship with God, be functioning as the evangelistic agency, and be the foundation for the nation's role in the millennial kingdom of Jesus. For review and amplification, see the article: Prewrath and Dispensations.

CHAPTER SIX

Also during the Olivet Discourse, Jesus related several parables that teach about His second coming. Some of these have already been discussed, but for completion, the others need to be understood as well.

The first one is designated as the parable of the fig tree. The focus of this teaching is that the child of God can know the general season or time frame for Christ's return, but can not know the specific hour or even day.

First of all it is important to realize that, according to Luke 21:29, the image in the parable is a group of trees, and not one particular tree type. Thus, the common idea that the fig tree serves as a symbol for the nation of Israel, and teaches that the generation that sees the fig tree (Israel) in bloom (Ie, back in the land), will be the generation that sees the return of Christ, is a misrepresentation of the parable and is not accurate.

At Luke 21:29-32, we find:

And He told them a parable: "Behold the fig tree and all the trees;
as soon as they put forth {leaves,} you see it and know for
yourselves that summer is now near. "Even so you, too, when you see
these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.
"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place."

Notice, the fig tree AND ALL THE TREES!

The parable is not intended to refer to Israel as represented by a fig tree. The purpose of the parable is to teach about the signs of summer pointing to the return of Jesus.

What then are the "signs" of summer? They are the events which begin at Matthew 24:9; the events of the tribulation which begin when the beast sets up his image and takes his stand in the temple. It is the generation that sees this "great tribulation" (and of course the beginning of the week as well) that will see the return of Christ.

Any "symbol" must FIRST be understood literally and THEN find the association. The "image" that Jesus gives us at Matthew 24 and Luke 21 is a "natural" and "common" and yes, "literal" image that requires no associations beyond that "natural" image. Jesus said that JUST LIKE when you see leaves on the fig tree, indeed all the trees, you know that the season is about to change. THAT IS ALL THERE IS. Don't look at Israel, don't look for anything other than the very "simple" and "natural" image that Jesus is placing before our eyes. There is no contextual reason to go beyond that. If we do, then we bring up something that He does not have in mind.

What DOES He have in mind?

He has in mind the "events" of the tribulation that He just described in verses 9-28. He does NOT have in mind when Israel is back in the land. If for no other reason, than the fact that Israel IS right then IN THE LAND. He said, when you see all these things (I just mentioned).

His intent is NOT to make the fig tree "represent" something.

It it just to give us something to associate with "progress."

1. leaves = summer near
2. all these things = His coming is near.

However, even though we may know, indeed, will know, the general time frame of Christ's return, there is still the unknown factor of the day and the hour. Thus, the often repeated exhortation to be ready. Such exhortation is addressed to both the church and the unbelievers. For unbelievers the issue of preparation will be trust in Jesus as the Messiah/Savior. For the believers, the exhortation is concerned about shame and sorrow in His presence (1 John 2:28).

During the general time frame of the tribulation period, most unbelievers will be occupied with the peace and safety provided for them through worshiping the beast. In fact, so secure will be their thinking, that Jesus describes the basic daily activity of these "beast worshipers" to be as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39).

"For the coming of the Son of Man
will be just like the days of Noah."

The point of comparison is the unexpectedness that resulted in an indifferent occupation with the normal activities of life.

"For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."

It should be further noted that the point of comparison here is not the idea that people (unbelievers) are taken "all away," but that judgment comes when people are occupied with material things. It is indeed, an over concentration on the idea of "took them all away" that has led many to think that Jesus does not have in view His return to gather the church (the rapture) but instead the gathering out of the wicked just before Jesus sets up His kingdom. However, the subject of the entire context is the gathering of His "elect" in a supernatural manner, and there is only one time when that happens - at the beginning of the Day of the Lord via the rapture of the church.

Paul refers to this judgment as "sudden destruction" at 1 Thessalonians 5, and has in mind the Day of the Lord judgments which will be poured out on the world very shortly after Jesus removes His people from the earth through the rapture.

The bible speaks of two types of preparation for this arrival of the Day of the Lord.

SALVATION PREPARATION: This refers to those who have trusted in Christ as savior and thus are secure in the family of God. Paul refers to them at 1Thes. 5:4,

"But you brethren are not IN darkness,
that the day should overtake you like a thief."

In other words, because of their "positional" union with Christ, they are IN THE LIGHT (Ephesians 5:8) and are called at verse 5, "sons of light and of day." Accordingly, when the "day" arrives, it will not be "sudden destruction" for those who are believers in Jesus.

However, if the believer is not "walking in the light" then he will be "caught off guard" when Jesus returns and will experience initial "shame" and remorse before Him at His presence (1 John 2:28). Thus, the need for - EXPERIENTIAL PREPARATION:

This refers to being "in fellowship" with God; Being a believer who is actively pursuing the things of God; who is "walking in the light" as a growing and productive believer and has no sin in his life. This is called "abiding in Him" by John. Thus we have the warning given at 1 John 2:24-29.

1John 2:28,

"And now, little children, abide in Him,
so that when He appears, we may have confidence
and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming."

This does not mean that the "out-of-fellowship" believer will be left behind at the rapture but simply that his initial reaction will be great shame and remorse. Later, at the justice seat of Christ where all his works as a Christian will be evaluated, he will suffer loss of reward for his times of unfaithfulness on earth. But he himself will be saved. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

We have a similar warning given by Jesus at Luke 21:34-36,

"Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with carousing and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Strength to escape, refers to endurance during the specific time of tribulation which will begin at the mid-point of the 70th week. There will be intense pressure facing every Christian during this time, when the beast will be attempting to enforce his economic policies all over the world. Revelation 13:7, 17 describes the extent and nature of the beast's oppression of Christians.

And "to stand before the Son of Man" refers to "not shrinking away from Him in shame at His appearing," as we saw at 1 John 2:28. The emphasis, in view of the amplification in the New Testament, is that the believer can stand before the Son either -

IN FELLOWSHIP with God (abiding in Him) and have initial great joy (Jude v. 24).

OR The believer can stand before the Son -

OUT OF FELLOWSHIP with God and experience great shame and remorse.

See Topic: Fellowship with God

Accordingly, Paul repeats the same exhortation to believers at 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11.

So then let us (believers) not sleep as others (unbelievers) do,
but let us be alert and under control.
For those who sleep (believer or unbeliever) do their sleeping at night,
and those who get drunk get drunk at night.
But since we are of day (Ie, sons of light and of day),
let us be under control,
having put on the breastplate of faith and love,
and as a helmet, the confidence of salvation.
For God has not destined us for wrath
(the experiential wrath of the day of the Lord judgments),
but the possession of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
(Salvation not only promises eternal deliverance from the penalty
of sin, but also from the temporal wrath that is to come when Jesus
returns, 1 Thessalonians 1:10) who died for us, that whether we are awake (physically alive) or asleep (physically dead), we may live together with Him. (eternal destiny is secure) Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

In Matthew 24:40-41, the uniqueness of the rapture is described as,

Then there shall be two men in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women {will be} grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.

There is another point of confusion about WHO is taken, which results from a failure to understand that the word TAKEN at verse 39 is different from the word TAKEN at verse 40, and refers to two different ideas.

At verse 39, the Greek word for taken, is airo and means to carry away, remove or to lift up. The idea is clearly one of judgment as is indicated at Luke 17:27, where the word DESTROYED is used instead of taken.

However, at verse 40, the word taken, is paralambano, and means to receive or take to the side of someone, This is the word used at John 14:1-3, where the promise of being gathered to Jesus is given to the disciples. When they hear Him teach in the upper room about His coming to take them to Himself, they should be reminded of what He taught just a few days before about "one taken and one left." At Matthew 24:40, the ones who are taken are the believers, the elect, who are said to be gathered at verse 31. The ones who are left behind are the unbelievers who must face the sudden destruction of the Day of the Lord judgments that come from The wrath of God and of the Lamb (1 Thes. 5:3; 2 Thes. 1:6-8; Rev. 6:16-17).

Jesus then gives two illustrations of preparedness to encourage the hearers to be ready. The first one is a simple point of moral logic.

At Matthew 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."

How can a member of the human race be ready for the arrival of Jesus?
It is by trusting in Him as the Savior so that when He returns, that believer will be taken out (Matthew 24:40), gathered together (Matthew 24:31), and meet with Jesus in the air (1 Thes. 4:17).

The next parable has already been discussed in connection with Luke 12:42-46.

The next mention of the second coming is found at Matthew 25:31, where we find a much misunderstood statement.

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory,
and all the angels with Him,
then He will sit on His glorious throne.

Many believe that this refers to the arrival of Jesus onto the earth at Armageddon. However, it actually refers to the ONE and ONLY second coming which occurs at the inception of the day of the Lord, when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with His angels and gathers out of the earth all his people through the rapture. THEN, after the trumpet and seal judgments, Jesus will take His seat upon His throne and begin the cleansing process that will initiate His thousand year reign.

This statement is not saying that immediately after He arrives He will administer this judgment, but simply that in connection with the same second coming that Jesus has taught much about and will yet teach about, the judgment of the nations will occur before the millennial reign begins.

In this judgment, it is not nations that are accepted or rejected - but the individuals within those nations. Nations don't get saved, only people get saved. And there is only one way to get saved. Notice that they are called RIGHTEOUS, and that they go into eternal life - there is only one way to have eternal life; he who has the Son has the life, he who does not have the Son does not have the life (1 John 5:12). It seems that the CONDITION for acceptance (the treatment of My brethren) serves as EVIDENCE that these people had trusted in Jesus and that is why they aided "My brethren." At first glance, this looks problematic, because if they had believed in Jesus, then they would be considered "My brethren" instead of members of the nations. However, if "My brethren" are viewed as the SPECIAL 144,000 Jews who trust in Jesus right after the rapture, then there is no problem. It seems that the 144,000 have a world wide ministry as servants of God (Rev. 7:3) and would need assistance in the nations where they are serving God.

BRIEF OUTLINE

Verse 31

1. At 2nd coming

2. Sit on His throne: ie, AFTER armageddon. Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:31-33

Verse 32

1. All nations gathered before Him: This is the evaluation of people who are still alive after armageddon (which takes place in Palestine).

2. These are the Gentiles from all over the world - they are gathered together and Jesus will separate one from the other.

3. Those "saved" will enter the 1000 year kingdom

4. Those "unsaved" will go to "torments" in hades to await the final judgment which takes place after the 1000 years.

5. no basis for rationalizing this language: all peoples are gathered - probably through the use of angels - just like at the rapture.

6. Those who are believers will then be returned to their respective nations from where they will serve God. Zechariah 14:16

Verses 33-40 - the righteous

1. These are recognized for aid given to the servants of Jesus during the Day of the Lord judgments (after the rapture).

2. The "My brethren" are probably the 144,000 of Revelation 7:1-8

3. This "aid given" is NOT the basis for salvation but EVIDENCE of their salvation.

4. The fact that they help the "brethren" indicates that they have accepted their message.

5. They are called "righteous" because of salvation - NOT because of good deeds.

6. If you did it to them - you did it to me: John 15:18-21

Verses 41-46 - the unrighteous

1. recognized for their failure to aid the "servants"

2. This failure is indication that they rejected the gospel message.

3. They are condemned - NOT - for not helping, but for not believing.

4. But in the intensely hostile environment of the times, helping is a "sign" that they have indeed themselves trusted in the message of the gospel. Revelation 14:7.

Verse 41 depart into the perpetual fire

1. This refers to the immediate indictment on them - NOT the ultimate destiny.

2. Torments in hades comes first (Luke 16:23-24, 28)

3. Then comes the lake of fire after the last judgment: Revelation 20:12-15

4. Prepared for the devil and his angels: indicates the fact that this is Satan's destiny and does not HAVE TO BE man's destiny.

Christ died for all. Anyone can believe.
If you trust in Christ as savior - you share HIS destiny as a "joint-heir" with Him.
If you reject Christ as savior - you share Satan's destiny.
Satan cannot escape his destiny - but man can.

Verse 46 - compares the 2 destinies that man can share.

John 5:28-29; 3:36

The next mention of Christ's second coming is given during the upper room discourse recorded at John 14:1-4.

"Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so,
I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
"And 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.
"And you know the way where I am going."

This is a specific promise that Jesus will return and gather His people to Himself where they will live forever and ever with Him. This promise is given to the disciples, but it is not FOR the disciples. It is for those whom the disciples represent. As has been observed in other passages, the disciples are taught by Jesus as those who are the foundation layers of the church and as such represent the church in its entirety. This promise extends beyond the disciples and applies to that generation that will be alive when Jesus returns in the clouds of the sky to gather His elect, just as Paul amplifies later at 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. It was not impossible for this to be experienced by the disciples, for Jesus Himself suggests the John could remain physically alive until the second coming if Jesus so willed it (John 21:22).

However, using hindsight as a valid interpretive device, it is quite obvious that the disciples did not experience this promise. And it might very well be that this is exactly what Jesus taught to them, for He said that during the days that follow the resurrection, the disciples would long for the presence of Jesus (Luke 17:22) in expectation of His promised return, but "you will not see it."

The only reasonable conclusion, then, is that the promise was given TO the disciples but FOR those believers who would be alive when the time for the promise's fulfillment arrived.

There are two points of contact between this passage and the other times when Jesus taught about His second coming.

1. The same word erchomai is used without any contextual hint that Jesus is referring to anything other than what He has previously taught.

2. The word paralambano is used to indicate the idea of taking to His side. The same word is used in Matthew 24:40, as mentioned earlier, and should communicate to the hearers and the readers later, that Jesus is talking about the very same event on both occasions.

The next mention of the second coming is at Matthew 26:64, where Jesus tells the nation of Israel, as represented by her religious leaders, that He will not again be seen by them, OFFICIALLY as a nation, until He comes on the clouds of heaven.

Nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN
SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER,
and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."

This refers to the very same coming that is described at Matthew 24:29-31; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:7; 1 Thes. 4:14-17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; and Revelation 1:7. There is no contextual or theological hint that there is a separate event in view in any of them.

This passage parallels Matthew 23:39, where Jesus tells the nation that it will not see Him again until they acknowledge as a national body, that He is indeed the Messiah, by proclaiming, "praised is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

And finally, there is a subtle reference to His coming at Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus promises that He will be WITH the church until the consummation of the age, that is, until He returns to bring to completion the age of human history through the events of the Day of the Lord.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been
given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore - make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

These promises of His presence and His return in the future are restated by the angels on the day that Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 1:9-11).

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? 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."

This is a visible arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky, and just as is promised to the church at Revelation 1:7, "every eye shall see Him."

There are many who claim that this is not a visible manifestation of Jesus, but rather a secret, invisible arrival, evidenced only by the disappearance of the believers from the earth. Nowhere in the Bible is this taught, but rather, it is an assumption promoted by those who believe in the pre-trib rapture theory. Quite to the contrary, Paul taught the Thessalonians that THEY (if it were to happen in their lifetime) would be delivered from affliction (tribulation) when the Lord Jesus would be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire (2 Thess.1:6-10)."

This then is the promise for the church, that if at anytime in its future, it finds itself living in that time that Jesus called tribulation (Matthew 24:9, 21), and that Paul called tribulation (2 Thes. 1:6-7), then the believers of that generation could expect to be delivered out from its oppression by the visible, physical return of Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Matthew 24:29-31).

This is a wonderful promise of deliverance for the church during the time when the oppression of the man of lawlessness will sorely afflict her. The scope of the promise is that even in the midst of such severe persecution, God will not allow the church to be totally destroyed from the earth but will gather all believers unto Jesus, giving them relief and delivering them from those who afflict them (2 Thes. 1:6-7). That is why Paul calls it "the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13).

In a future dissertation article I will develop in detail what the New Testament epistles teach about the second coming of the Messiah.

 
     

 

 

İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.

 

Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary

 

Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us