I am a Christian of 35 years and am a seriously moderate (like a level 6/10) student of the scriptures which have led to my growing (up) out of the childhood education that was my youthful upbringing in my evangelical community of faith. My spiritual growth has led me to wrestle with and at times change the way I understand and interpret the Bible (even if it goes against my community’s collective voice). For instance, I am no longer a dispensational futurist concerning the kingdom of God in Christ which is what my childhood church community believed.
So, re the NT and its expectation of something great on the horizon (the return of Christ), I have this to say. When the historical milieu of the NT is the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah’s Little Apocalypse (chs 24-27), Hosea, (and all of them, really), it is an act of special pleading to insist that certain passages refer to AD 70 while select others are still future. The judgement of Israel and the surrounding Roman Empire, the oikumene, is the sole foci of the events anticipated in the Olivet Discourse which is a unified pericope. Indeed, in order to understand what follows the Olivet Discourse, one must realize this crucial paradigm: everything after the Olivet Discourse is @ the Olivet Discourse.
Postmillennialism is the kingdom of Christ right here right now, world without end (and not like the amills who only have an ekklesiastic pontif). We long for and look forward to with great finality that great and glorious day of glory in our ascension from the grave.
But this future hope is much different than the imminent expectation of much of Christendom. They have an expectation that will not mature. They have an imminent hope that Jesus will come as he promised in the Olivet Discourse and so they are (in true obedient form) ever ready and watchful for the Master’s return. Alas, they will be waiting til kingdom come.
The eager expectation for the return of Christ is misplaced and pleads special circumstances when certain passages in the NT are relegated as futurist when clearly the NT hope was to happen within a generation. It is special pleading for this reason. When the entire NT motif is the passing away of that which is growing old; when that which can be shaken is about to be so that that which cannot will remain; when the above is also tied to and dependent upon the coming judgement; it is the opinion of this writer that the fallacy of special pleading sneaks its nose under the tent when a wholly foreign “second” second coming of Christ is say’d to be expected; one that is not of the same nature and timing as that which Jesus delineates in the Olivet Discourse.
It is the opinion of this writer that from Matt 24-25 Jesus answers his disciples’ question in Matt 24. And he answers only that question, the question of the end.
For many years bc of my futurist discipleship I parsed out Jesus’ answer to fit a futurist paradigm. Because Jesus gives two answers to the disciples’ question, one of their questions must have been about the second answer. That is, bc Jesus (so-it-is-say’d) changes topics in Matt 24:36 and addresses the final judgement of all men, then that presupposes the disciples’ actually asked such a question. Otherwise, Jesus answers a question they were not asking. He brings up a topic they were in no wise even contemplating. Did the disciples ask Jesus not only about his coming judgement on Jerusalem but also on all mankind in the remote future? Did they not ask him this question but Jesus’ intuited a deeper underlying confusion needing his clarity? ( it is typical that when the Master intuits the thoughts of his audience that the author lets us in on the information. But this clue is not a part of this story. There is no hidden question for Jesus to answer.) It is my opinion that no, Jesus answers one question because the disciples ask him one question.
The disciples asked one question, not three.
1. When will these things be
A. What will be the sign of your coming
B. What will be the sign of the end of the age.
There is absolutely no textual reason to put a division bt the subject of the end of the age and the so-called second coming; they are both preterist. There is one coming expected in the NT, not two. The only reason to insert a wholly other topic in Matt 24:36- ch. 25 is presupposition and special pleading.
So, Jesus answers all three questions and that’s it. Matt 24-25 records Jesus’ answer for when these things will be, what will be the sign of coming and the end of the age. Anyway, the resurrection isn’t even mentioned in the OD. Not that it’s not related but that’s not the focus of the disciples’ question. They might have say’d, ….and the resurrection of the dead; but they didn’t.
The issue of readiness is a strong motif for the “generation” of Jesus’ day, but not for us. There are plenty of other texts to instruct us for “comings” in our daily lives. Think of that scene in Shawshank.
However, I do not think the language of the OD can be applied in that fashion. The accounts of Kings and Chronicles show two sides to the justice of God: one swift and one tempered. I do not think the call to be ready and always in guard of necessity needs to be applied to us. We aren’t the audience of that generation; I’m not on alert for Jesus to accomplish the judgement of Pharisees; I’m not looking for the sign of that coming judgement; nor am I awaiting the end of the old covenant age. ( I am however looking for the consummation but there is no time text for that. )So, PM and preterism are related but PM does not depend on preterism, afaics.
What follows below are some eschatological texts and thoughts about their meaning.
For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. – Matthew 24:37
This is not a different coming. The disciples ask about his coming and this is the same one. I am resolute: there is not textual reason to make it otherwise.
Being on the alert is akin to a time text.
and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. – Matthew 24:51; 25:30
Matt 13 and this text are similar here and then fulfilled here
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. – Revelation 16:10-11
The language of outer darkness is covenantal, being shut out of the kingdom (think the stoning of Stephen).
…and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. – Matthew 13:39-42
The end of the age. This passage precipitates the question the disciples ask and the judgement scene in 25 in the OD.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” – Matthew 25:31-32
Since angels rule the OC and they are the acting harvesters, this is an OC scene which culminates the old age. The scene of judgement is historical, theological, covenantal, not eternal. Paul clearly knew there was about to be judgement on the oikumene as well as the scene below.
And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” – Revelation 11:16-18
…because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the oikumene in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” – Acts 17:31
having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there[ is about to] be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. – Acts 24:15
And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the [abouting to] judgement , Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” – Acts 24:25
Felix feared Paul’s warnings of coming wrath but unlike the jailer at Philippi, he remained in fear.
The story of the NT is a unified whole and one which is concerned about one thing: the end of the story. Think of the Old Testament as a sentence without an end mark Like that Now imagine the New Testament is the “!” to that sentence What today’s hermeneutic does is inserts a ( ) between the sentence and its telos and that, without warrant. What you will find in this blog and podcast are arguments intended to demonstrate this simple fact: what most Christians believe will happen in the future has already taken place. Eschatology is the study, therefore, of past things.