Matthew 24 – But of that Day And Hour – The Crux Interpretum
Let me make a few preliminary remarks before discussing the crux interpretum of our Responder’s position, and that is that “no one ever knew the timing of the second advent, whatsoever”; and “but of that day’s (v. 29f) day and hour is completely unknown.”
Our Objector insists that since there are two (or three) questions in Matthew 24:3 that this necessitates that the disciples were asking about a literal, visible, bodily coming of Christ. This is presuppositional to the core, and no support has been given to prove the assumption. This claim totally ignores the metaphoric nature of the language of Matthew 24:29f. See my book The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat, for an in-depth discussion of this language, and a demonstration that it was never intended to be interpreted literally.
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I noted that the disciples linked the parousia and the end of the age to the destruction of the temple, and I asked what age the temple represented. Amazingly, our Responder says that temple did not represent any age, but simply the earth. Again, no proof of any kind was offered, and to be honest (but no disrespect intended at all) this is an amazing claim! The idea that the temple did not symbolize Israel and Torah– the Law of Moses– may well be without precedent.
Our Objector continues to repeat the argument that eutheos allows for a period of time– now extending 2000 years– between AD 70 and the parousia. Once again, this is an unjustified extrapolation, and as I have noted repeatedly, the Objector is basing his claim, not on exegesis, but on drawing conclusions from another text or two totally unrelated to Jesus’ discussion of eschatology. Again, this is improper hermeneutic.
I noted that in Matthew 24 the disciples asked about the “end of the age” and that they undeniably connected the impending destruction of Jerusalem with that coming end of the age. I noted that in Matthew 13 Jesus taught on the end of the age, using the identical distinctive Greek term. He tied the end of the age to the fulfillment of Daniel 12:3 (which our Objector admits). In v. 50f, Jesus then asked the disciples: “Do you understand all of these things?” And the disciples said “Yes.”
Our Responder now argues that while “all these things of v. 51 does include reference to v. 43″, that it is “going well beyond what is written” to claim that the disciples understood the application to AD 70. But how so?
Our Responder argues that there really is not all that much eschatology in the parables. He claims, “To say that, simply because Jesus referenced Daniel, and the disciples understood #1 that the wise would shine and that #2 it was reference to Daniel, is no where near the same as saying that they understood the whole of his eschatology.” He then claims that the disciples’ questions in Matthew 24 proves that they did not understand Jesus’ eschatology. This is false.
Notice that the end of the age in Matthew 13 would occur in fulfillment of Daniel 12, which posited that end at the time “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered” (v. 7). In Matthew 24, Jesus is predicting that very event– the destruction of Israel. The disciples link the end of the age to that judgment. Their questions do not indicate confusion, or error, or misunderstanding of Jesus’ eschatology: the questions simply ask about the time when that would occur and signs of when it would be near! Their questions reflect the understanding that they affirmed in Matthew 13.
But, our Responder claims that the main teaching of Wheat and the Tares is not really eschatology, but “let them grow together.” Well, grow together until when? Until the end of the age! It is clearly wrong, to say the least, to negate and downplay the eschatology of the text.
Finally, the Responder says that Jesus’ question: “Do you understand all of these things” can only apply to the verses before verse 51. But this does not help, for the parable of the Wheat and Tares is eschatological, the dragnet is eschatological (being the “gathering). But, our Responder does the same thing in chapter 13 as he does in Daniel and in Matthew 24: he denies that “all of these things” can be comprehensive. He demands that when Jesus applied the end of the age to the fulfillment of Daniel, that the disciples only understood that the Wheat and Tares would grow together, but they did not understand that they would grow together until the end of the age foretold by Daniel, to be fulfilled when the power of the holy people was shattered!
What proof did the Responder offer? None. What evidence is there that they only understood part of that application? Where is the dichotomy in the text that would justify such a delineation? There is not one word– in the text– to suggest that although Jesus asked if they understood “all of these things” — and they said “Yes”– that in fact, they only understood a little bit of those things. Once again, theological presupposition is at work.
While a great deal more could be said on this, I want now to turn my attention to the crux interpretum – the key- to our Objector’s entire argument. I should note that Matthew 24:36 is actually the key to most futurist views of Matthew 24. And again, that is that, “no one ever knew the timing of the second advent, whatsoever”; and “but of that day’s (v. 29f) day and hour is completely unknown.”
Matthew 24: Of that Day and Hour– A Contrast of Time?
No one disputes whether Jesus affirmed that – at the time he spoke– no one knew the time of his parousia. Only the Father knew that time. However, please take note of the following:
1.) In John 16:7f, Jesus said it was necessary for him to return to the Father, so that the Father could send the Spirit. When the Spirit came, “he shall guide you into all truth, and shew you things to come.”
2.) Jesus returned to the Father, and on Pentecost, the Father sent the Spirit to Jesus’ disciples.
3.) From Pentecost onward, the disciples were speaking and writing by inspiration of the Spirit, sent directly from the Father– who knew the Day and the Hour of Jesus’ coming.
4.) In Luke 21:8 Jesus warned of false Messiahs and false prophets who would come saying “the end has drawn near, do not go after them.” So, Jesus warned against believing– and clearly, against making– premature declarations about the nearness of the end. Catch the power of this in light of what we are about to see!
5.) Those disciples, inspired by the Spirit sent by the Father who knew the time of Jesus’ parousia, wrote the following:
a.) James 5 – “The parousia has drawn near… the judge is standing right at the door.” Now, remember that James heard Jesus warn about making premature declarations of the nearness of the end, and yet, here he was, through the inspiration of the Spirit sent by the Father who knew the time of the parousia– saying the end had drawn near!
Clearly, James was not denying what was true in Matthew 24:36. No, he was now saying what the Father told him to say: “the parousia has drawn near…the judge is standing right at the door.” Where is the evidence that James was speaking of a parousia and judge standing at the door different from what Jesus discussed? There is not a syllable of such evidence.
As I noted in my previous article, James most assuredly believed and said that the parousia was near. I asked our Responder if James was wrong in his affirmation. His response is that we perhaps do not know if James was using parousia in the same context as in Matthew 24. This is really quite an evasive and obfuscatory answer– with no disrespect intended. To claim that James may have had something different in mind is not to prove that he had something different in mind. And the Responder offered not a word of textual support for his claim.
The context of James is the suffering of the saints– just as Jesus predicted in Matthew / Mark. The promise is the promise of imminent relief and vindication. That vindication and relief would be at the parousia. And James uses the very terminology used by Jesus in Matthew 24, when Jesus promised: “When you see all of these things come to pass, then know that it (or he) is near, even at the door.” James said, “The judge is standing right at the door” and yet, per the Responder, we should see no direct correlation!
b.) 1 Peter 4:7, 17 – Peter, who was with Jesus on the Mount, and heard him warn of premature declarations of the end, said “the end of all things has drawn near”… “the (appointed) time for (the) judgment has come.” This is an incredible text.
Like James, Peter was not denying that when Jesus uttered the words of Matthew 24:36 the time was unknown– at that time! But, the Father, who knew the time, and had given the Spirit to the apostles to “shew them things to come” was now inspiring Peter to say “the end of all things has drawn near.”
In 1 Peter, the apostle used almost the identical words that Jesus condemned in Luke 21, when he said false prophets would make premature declarations of the nearness of the end! Now, per our Responder, the “end of all things” has not yet come. That means that Peter– like James– said the very thing that Jesus said the false prophets would say!
Was Peter one of the very false prophets that Jesus warned about? Was Peter so “dense” as to write those words, knowing that Jesus had condemned such premature declarations? Or, is it the case that Peter, inspired by the Father who knew the time of the “end of all things” was now uttering the truth, and “the end of all things” truly was near when he wrote. After all, lets not forget that it was the Father, through the Spirit, leading him to write those words!
So, once again, the questions demand to be asked:
Was Peter wrong?
Did Peter make a premature declaration of the nearness of the parousia?
Did Peter become one of the very false teachers that Jesus warned him about?
Was Peter’s declaration of the nearness of the end in violation of the revelation of the Spirit, sent by the Father who knew the day and the hour?
Matthew 24 – The Day And Hour – The Father – And Revelation
Notice how Revelation begins:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (1:1-3).
Notice that twice, John wrote that fulfillment of the Apocalypse was near, fulfillment was about to take place shortly. But, why did John write that?
The answer is profoundly important. John wrote that the end was near, because the Father, who knew the time of the end, told Jesus to tell John (through the Spirit) that fulfillment was at hand! Note that Jesus, informed by the Father, said “Behold, I come quickly” in 22:10-12!
Remember that like the other disciples, John heard Jesus warn against premature declarations of the nearness of the end. He knew that it was to be condemned to do so! So, why did he say the end was near, when he (supposedly) knew that “no man knows the day or the hour, but the Father only”?
The answer is that John said the end was near, that Jesus was coming quickly, because it was the Father informing Jesus to tell him the end was near! The days of Jesus’ “ignorance” of the time of his coming were now past, because the Father was telling him to inform John and the churches that the time was at hand! The days when “no man knows the day or the hour” was true were now past, because the Father, who knew the time, was undeniably revealing that the time had come for the parousia.
Matthew 24, The Tribulation and the Parousia
There is something very significant here. Remember that our Responder has insisted that the language of Matthew 24:29f demands an interval between the Great Tribulation and the parousia. (There are some issues here that I will not take the time to address). So, let’s examine that in light of Revelation.
Note that in Revelation 1:9 John said he was in the Tribulation (literally, ‘the tribulation”). In chapter 7 and 14 John speaks of the 144,000 (the righteous remnant of Israel), and specifically says that they “come out of the Great Tribulation” 7:14 (literally, “the tribulation, the great”– i.e. “the Great Tribulation). See my book, Blast From the Past: The Truth About Armageddon, for a full treatment of the Great Tribulation, showing definitively that it occurred in the first century.
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Keep in mind that our Responder has agreed repeatedly that the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24 occurred in the first century. This means that the Great Tribulation of Revelation occurred in the first century. Our Responder says the parousia of Christ was– or is– to follow that Tribulation at some interval after the destruction of Jerusalem.
The question is, in what framework does Revelation posit the parousia, in connection to the first century Tribulation? Does Revelation allow for an indeterminate “gap” of so far 2000 years between that Tribulation and the parousia? This is what our Responder is insisting must be true.
In fact, our Responder has based his entire position on the idea that the parousia of Matthew 24:29f was unknown as to timing, and, that it had to be sometime (i.e. 2000 years and counting) “after” the fall of Jerusalem (i.e. the Tribulation). So, take note of the argument:
The parousia would take place “immediately after” the Great Tribulation.
John, who wrote during the Great Tribulation, was told by the Father, who knew the day and the hour of Christ’s coming, that Christ’s coming was near, at hand, and He told Jesus to declare: “Behold, I come quickly.”
Therefore, the coming of Christ– to occur “immediately after” the Tribulation, was truly at hand when John wrote Revelation.
Thus, the Objector’s claim that the parousia has now been 2000 years removed from the Tribulation is falsified, for the Father Himself declared that the coming of Christ was near in the book of Revelation.
There is not, nor was there, a 2000 year gap in eutheos in Matthew 24:29.
This agrees perfectly well with Jesus’ comprehensive statement: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall by no means pass until all of these things are fulfilled.” Our Responder has attempted to divorce the parousia from that generation, based on an unwarranted and unjustified extrapolated definition of eutheos, and misguided application of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:36.
But, the Father, in Revelation, has put those claims away. The Tribulation was a first century event. The parousia was to follow “immediately” upon the Tribulation. Revelation was written in the context of the Great Tribulation, and the Father said that Christ’s parousia was at hand, coming quickly, the time had come!
This falsifies any attempt to define eutheos in such a way as to allow a 2000 year gap.
Jesus was asked for signs of the parousia and end of the age. The signs were the completion of the World Mission (and our Responder admits this was fulfilled in the first century) and the Great Tribulation (which our Responder agrees was in the first century.
Jesus said that when they saw the signs, they would know that the parousia was near, even at the door.
When Jesus spoke those things, he did not know the “day or the hour” of his coming. It must be noted that our Responder is arguing that because Jesus did not know the day and the hour that he could not know the generation of the parousia. This is a logical fallacy. To say that Christ did not know One can most assuredly know the generation of an event without knowing the “day and hour. ” The Responder has extrapolated from the specific to the generic, which is an illogical argument.
John, living in and during The Tribulation, was told by the Father, who knew the day and the hour of Christ coming, that the time had come, that Christ was coming quickly.
Therefore, once again, any attempt to extrapolate 2000 years from the Tribulation– which the Responder agrees was in the first century– to a yet future parousia, flies in the face of what the Father caused John– and Jesus!– to say in Revelation.
Finally, to reiterate and conclude:
While Jesus did not know the day and the hour of his coming in Matthew 24, he said that he would return to the Father, who would send the Spirit to his apostles.
The Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth, and shew them “things to come.”
Jesus warned his apostles against believing or making premature declarations of the nearness of the end.
Those very disciples that Jesus warned against making premature declarations of the nearness of the end, inspired by the Spirit sent from the Father, wrote, repeatedly and emphatically, that “the parousia has drawn near”; “the end of all things has drawn near”; “these things must shortly come to pass…the time is at hand…and Jesus himself, instructed by the Father, said “Behold, I come quickly.” (And of course, in Hebrews 10:37, that same Spirit caused the writer to say: “Now in a very, very little while, the one who is coming will come, and will not tarry!”)
If the parousia and the end was not truly near when the apostles wrote their epistles, then the Spirit, sent by the Father to guide them into all truth and shew them things to come, did not do His job—or the Father Himself did not tell the truth!
So, if those declarations of the apostles about the nearness of the end were not true, then they became some of the very false prophets Jesus warned them about, the Father lied, the Spirit lied, Jesus himself lied.
To suggest that the apostles had some other “the end,” some other “the parousia,” (which was to follow the Tribulation) in mind, different from that in Matthew 24, is without a shred of evidence.
The revelatory work of the Spirit, sent by the Father to guide the apostles into all truth and shew them things to come, and their repeated, emphatic, undeniable declarations that the end was near, is definitive, prima facie proof that the parousia was to be in the first century.