eschatology, Olivet Discourse

The Olivet Discourse – Fulfillment When?|A Response to a Poster – Part 1

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olivet discourse

A recent visitor to this site has posted an objection to my correlation between the Olivet Discourse, specifically Matthew 24:29f and Zechariah 14. We appreciate the interest, and, even though the poster disagrees, we do appreciate the thoughtful objection. I want to take note of the objection and offer some thoughts in response.

The Olivet Discourse: Do Verse 29-31 Apply to AD 70?

In my comments on the Olivet Discourse and Zechariah 14, I noted that both texts speak of the judgment of Jerusalem at the parousia. The objector seeks to deny this. An initial observation is that Zechariah 14 emphatically posits the coming of the Lord at that judgment ((14:1-5). There is no “gap” between the Day of the Lord in Zechariah and the destruction of Jerusalem.

Our “objector” has offered the following comments, however, seeking to divide the Olivet Discourse into a discussion of the fall of Jerusalem and a yet future parousia. Here are his comments:

<<Actually, as I see it, the argument still fails, on another caveat. Mt24:29 “eutheos de meta” should properly be translated “next but after”, not “immediately after…” The word comes from straight and implies a gap, as in Mt6:21, the boat ride was not ‘immediately’ reaching shore, but comparing the parallel accounts, they rowed. Also, 3 John 1:14 uses ‘eutheos’ and certainly does not mean ‘immediately’, nor is it translated that way. The word implies a gap. Second, v36 specifically excludes the vv29-31 events from the v34 genea. “These things will happen within a generation … but that day’s day and hour are unknown”. (v34&amp;36). “that day” can only refer to the vv29-31 events, since the rest of the events are not single day-and-hour things, but general conditions leading up to the fall. So, while v36 certainly does refer to the same day and hour being unknown that Zech 14 does, it does not, therefore, follow that the olivet cannot be divided, because it can and should be.”

The Olivet Discourse and “Immediately After The Tribulation.”

The poster is guilty of making some seriously faulty linguistic claims. The word translated as “immediately” in verse 29 is eutheos. It is used 82 times in the NT. Contrary to what the objector says, it simply does not– let me repeat– it does not imply, suggest, or demand, a gap of any kind. 

I have consulted as many translations as I can find, both in my library, and on the Internet. I cannot find one that does not render verse 29 as “Immediately.” Not one of them- not one– renders it as “next but after” or “sometime later” or anything comparable to that rendering. Not one of them translates eutheos in such as way as to indicate a temporal gap of any kind.

Of course, it is to be noted that the word eutheos does tell us when, that is, when afterward of something else, that an event took, or was to take place. So, you have the Tribulation, and then, “Immediately afterward” the parousia.  The key thing, linguistically, is that eutheos is not a word that suggests, implies, or demands a gap of time. It is not a generic word to indicate, “at some point afterward, who knows when.” This is the word that is used most often of the healing activity of Jesus. He would speak the word of healing and “immediately” the sick would be healed! The idea of an indeterminate “gap” between Jesus speaking the healing word, and the healing is simply not to be found, and is unjustified. This suggests that the objector is guilty of eisegesis— reading something into the text that is not there.

Furthermore, I have been unable to find a Lexicon to support the claim that eutheos “implies a gap.” Arndt and Gingrich does not support this claim. Thayer does not support this claim. The new Analytical Lexicon of the New Testament Greek (2012) does not support this claim. Simply stated, there is no lexical support for the claim that eutheos implies or suggests a gap or delay.

Do translators sometimes get it wrong? Certainly! However, when the universal consensus of all Lexicons agrees on a definition, one must certainly have very, very powerful evidence to negate that Lexical evidence. When one must deny all lexical definitions and add something to them that not one of them suggests, this is tenuous at best. Preconceived theological ideas are not the proper basis on which to define words.

There is no linguistic justification for the “gap” view of eutheos, offered by the objector. This means that the parousia of Matthew 24:29f was to follow, well, “immediately” after the Great Tribulation. It would be organically linked to the Tribulation. In our next installment, we will look closer at the claims of the objector, so stay tuned!

See my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings, for a careful analysis of the Olivet Discourse.

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The Wedding of the King of Kings

7 thoughts on “The Olivet Discourse – Fulfillment When?|A Response to a Poster – Part 1

  1. You are absolutely correct, Don. Eutheos also has a synonym in euthus. Both are used extensively in Scripture, and mean, unequivocally, “immediately, straightaway, at once, forthwith,” etc. Everywhere in the Bible, these terms are understood and mean exactly that. There is no gap or time period delay of any duration.

    I have a book on fulfilled prophecy that has three chapters on the Olivet Discourse. It can be accessed at http://www.lastdaysleftbehind.com

    God bless

  2. The problem with futurist, is they’re use to speaking to people who are not good stewards of the Word, too lazy to check behind what others say, or gullible enough to think that just because one who may seem to be more learned than them, that they are automatically correct.

    One thing I’ve always liked about Preterists is that if you’re going to come at them, you’d better come correct. If they’re not already knowledgeable about a certain topic, you can bet that they’ll study it out.

    Granted there are always exceptions, but for the most part I have found this to be true.

  3. Clarification appears to be in order. Perhaps to say “implies a gap” is too strong of a statement. Eutheos comes from the Greek word meaning ‘straight’. It would seem that intention of the Greek here is more interested in sequence than it is in timing, although they can both be in view, to a degree.

    But, consider John 6:21, the boat they were rowing “immediately” reached the other shore. In all of John’s miracles, God is the subject of the verb, but here, the boat is. Additionally, the parallel passages to this, Mt13:34 & Mk6:53 both indicate they ‘crossed over’, not indicating any ‘immediate’ transport of the vessel. While a miracle here is certainly possible, the word here, ‘eutheos’, is used to describe the logical sequence of events, and apparently not timing. Another example is found in Mark 1:21, using a variant of the word “eutheos”. Here, it says Jesus ‘immediately’ began to preach on the Sabbath in Capernum. But, that could actually have been a few days away. Furthermore, Jesus wouldn’t have immediately begun teaching on Friday night at sundown, because it would have been the next day, when they met, when he taught. Many translations actually catch this, and interpret ‘eutheos’ here to mean ‘the next sabbath’.

    Other examples abound… In 3 John 1:14, the NIV reads, “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.”, where ‘soon’ is, again, ‘eutheos’. However, ‘immediately’ cannot fit here at all. Perhaps a better English equivalent of this word would be ‘straightway’, but, this is not in common usage today. It conveys, however, the nuance of ‘in a straight direction from here to there’, but not implicitly the direct concept of ‘without immediate duration’ as the English translation in Mt24:29 does.

    Mark 4:5 also implies the ‘straightway’ approach, in abrogation to the ‘immediately’ translation. The verse reads, “And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:” But, by ‘immediately’, certainly it does not mean no intermediate time has elapsed. That is not what is in view here. No, the normal course of events happened to the seed, and, after a due period of time, in a straightway manner, the seed sprouted.

    This is the word that Matthew 24:29 uses here. The ‘but after’ comes from ‘de meta’, hence, the rough translation of ‘eutheos de meta’ into ‘Next, but after…’ I am not, as it were, a linguist, but the original form of the argument was found in an article by Ted Noel, author of “A Primer on the Book of Revelation”, whose original copy is now defunct. A copy of that article is reproduced with permission here:
    http://www.beyondrevelation.com/book/appendix/#eutheos
    Ted probably does a better job conveying the linguistic elements contained herein, but, the general gist of the argument can be demonstrated above.

    But, ultimately, you also raise a very interesting corollary to this argument. When it says someone ‘immediately’ recovered from an illness, is it required within 2 milliseconds of the prayer? If the above arguments are correct, it is not. This, then, actually would fit with the testimony of some who have moved in healing, at least in modern history. When ‘immediately’ is rendered instead ‘immediately’, there is quite the possibility that, perhaps, five minutes may have elapsed between the prayer and the recovery. The result is no less miraculous, but, it does raise the possibility that the expectation of certain renderings of the New Testament text leave us with a different understanding than the text actually specified.

    I’ll quote Ted’s comments, from towards the end of the article:
    Modern interpreters have been presented with a false dilemma as a result of using a word in English that does not convey the nuance of the Greek eutheos. Modern translators have either been unaware of this error, or have not corrected it because of traditional readings.

  4. Also from Ted’s work, speaking of “euthus”, which is comparable to “eutheos”:

    Louw-Nida goes on to say that either word describes, “a point of time immediately subsequent to the previous point of time (the actual interval of time differs appreciably, depending on the nature of the events and the manner in which the sequence is interpreted by the writer).” In other words, “next in sequence,” not “right away.”

  5. I will be responding specifically to the linguistic argument being made here in subsequent articles. I believe there is a serious logical fallacy at work that cannot be sustained. In the meantime, take a look at the article # 2 that I just posted this morning, about the presupposition that traditionally color our view of the Olivet Discourse.

  6. I understand you will be addressing the topic in a future post, but here’s some other thoughts for consideration…

    I found this quote on the preteristarchive.com site… It relates similar claims as yours, but notice that it does not take into account the correlating influence of Matthew 24:34,36.. In his presentation, he ratifies his statement of eutheos being unable to support the claim of any substantial delay with the notion that v34 forces vv29-31 into the same time-frame as the rest, hence, that generation. However, this ignores the purposeful exclusion by v36. I believe, by and large, the ‘that day’ of v36 should rightly be interpreted as the v29-31. As Ted Noel points out, the rules of grammar point to the ‘nearest antecedent’, being the time that “heaven and earth shall pass away”. If you can establish that “that day” of v36 does indicate the v29-31 portion, which it seems the most logical reading, then the oft overlooked exclusion of these three verses from the ‘these things’ of v34 is apparent, which invalidates the entire second paragraph as follows. This brings the argument back to the sole question of whether ‘eutheos’ can support the ‘semantic range’ beyond ‘immediately’. Certainly, since ‘eutheos’ comes from ‘straight’, and ‘immediate’ comes from ‘without middle’, it would seem that, especially in cases such as 3 John 14, ‘soon’ could also be translated ‘directly’. It might, of course, have taken John 3 to 6 months, or any amount of time before he could have made the visit, but ‘immediately’, as it is taken in Matthew 24:29 is senseless in this instance, and the translation reflects this.

    Not that I use the site much, but below is the quote from
    http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/r/robinson-edward.html
    Apparently quoted from “The Berean” By John Humphrey Noyes.
    ——————————————————–

    In his examination of the language of the passage, preliminary to a presentation of his own views, Dr. Robinson says : ”

    The word culhcos means literally straightway, and implies a suceession more or less direct and immediate ; so that there can be no doubt, as De Wette justly remarks, that the coming of the Messiah, as here described by Matthew, was straightway to follow the destruction of Jerusalem. Indeed no meaning can possibly be assigned to eutheos, which will admit of any great delay ; much less of an interval so enormous as that between the destruction of the Holy City and the end of the world as understood by us. From this it is manifest, that ‘ the coming’ of Christ here spoken of, as occurring after the downfall of Jerusalem, could not be meant to refer solely to that event.

    Our Lord himself limits the interval within which Jerusalem shall be destroyed and his ‘ coming’ take place, to that same generation : Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. The language is here plain, definite, and express ; it cannot be misunderstood, nor perverted. It follows, in all the evangelists, the annunciation of our Lord’s ‘ coming,’ and applies to it in them all, just as much as it applies to the antecedent declarations respecting Jerusalem ; and more directly, indeed, inasmuch as it stands here in a closer connexion.” p. 540.

  7. This is sufficient to discount the denial of the imminence of the coming of the Lord. While our Responder is seeking to discount the imminence of the coming in v. 29f, the very sources that he cites deny this assertion. Notice this comment from Robinson:
    “Our Lord himself limits the interval within which Jerusalem shall be destroyed and his ‘ coming’ take place, to that same generation : Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. The language is here plain, definite, and express ; it cannot be misunderstood, nor perverted.”

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