MATTHEW 24-25: THE OLIVET DISCOURSE, DIVIDED OR UNITED? #1
Matthew 24 is truly a “crux interpretum,” a critical text, for the study of eschatology. To the Premillennialist it constitutes a program for the ages. To the Amillennialist and Postmillennialist it is a divided discourse speaking of the fall of Jerusalem and then the so-called “end of time.”
We propose to undertake a series of articles focusing on the Amillennial and Postmillennial view of a divided discourse. Our intent is to demonstrate very clearly that the Olivet Discourse cannot be divided at verse 29, at verse 32, at verse, 34, at verse 35, at verse 36, at verse 42 or any other verse! The Olivet Discourse, continuing all the way through Matthew 25, is a united discourse discussing one subject, Christ’s coming at the end of the Old Covenant Age in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Those who divide the chapter into two subjects, AD 70 and the “end of the world” claim that there are several contextual contrasts between the two discussions. The list of supposed contrasts we will examine are proposed by the leading Postmillennialists and Amillennialists of the day. We have drawn these contrasts from our former days as an Amillennialist and a host of other sources, too numerous to list here.
Upon completion of this series, it will be evident that the proposal of a divided Olivet Discourse is the result of preconceived ideas, theological bias and exegetical folly.
The Olivet Discourse- False Contrast #1
Fleeing versus No Fleeing!
One thing that impresses me, negatively, as I examine the literature is that so often contrasts are simply imagined, claimed without exegetical or actual textual support. False contrasts are created out of thin air. Here is how it is done.
First of all, there is the underlying, but essential assumption– false though it is– that the disciples asked about the end of the material world. So, Jesus set out to answer two questions, one about the impending end of Jerusalem and the temple, and then, the question about the end of the world. See my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings, for an extensive examination of these false presuppositions, and a demonstration of the unity of the Olivet Discourse.
Those who divide the chapter then go to Matthew 24:15f where Jesus told his disciples that when they saw the Abomination of Desolation they were to flee to the mountains. However, they then notice that later in the chapter, there is no mention of fleeing, therefore, behold!, we must have two comings in view. This is truly an illogical bit of thinking, but it is the basis for one of the key “contrasts” in the Olivet Discourse. Why did Jesus have to mention fleeing again, after discussing it earlier? Is it not possible that he had said all he needed to on the subject? Furthermore, it may well be argued that Jesus did– albeit implicitly– talk of fleeing later in the chapter.
Remember that Jesus told his disciples to be on the watch for the Abomination of Desolation. He told them that when it appeared, they were to flee. Well, later in the chapter, Jesus repeatedly told his disciples to “Watch!” What were they to watch for, if there was nothing to watch for, i.e. the Abomination and signs of the end that would signal them to flee?
I suggest that the “flight versus no flight” argument is merely a pontifical approach to Bible study and should be viewed with caution by any who seek the truth. Mere assertions prove nothing.
So, let’s take a look a closer look at this fleeing versus no fleeing idea. For more on this, see my book He Came As A Thief.
THE ARK, THE COMING, THE FLEEING
The relationship between the story of Noah and the fleeing must not be overlooked. Bell has noted this well : “Jesus places the fleeing event–the fall of Jerusalem, DKP–in the same time period as that to which he applies the warning concerning Noah’s day.” (William Bell, “A Boat Divided Against Itself Cannot Float!,” Living Presence, Vol 2, No. 12, July 1992, p. 9).
In Luke 17:26-30 Jesus told the identical story of Noah as in Matthew 24. He even drew the same point: “as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be when the Son of Man is revealed.” But he also said when the Son of Man is revealed, “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away, and likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.” (my emp. DKP) They were to flee in the days when the Son of Man was revealed!
Bell presents this argument: Jesus says the parable concerning Noah’s day is applicable to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Likewise “Jesus places the `fleeing event’ in the day when the Son of Man is revealed, vs. 30. But the fleeing event is A.D. 70 (Mat. 24:15-20). If the fleeing event is A.D. 70, and if the fleeing event is in the day when the Son of Man is revealed, then it follows that the day when the Son of Man is revealed is A.D. 70.”
He summarizes by saying, “Wherever the boat goes, the fleeing must go with it. Jesus unequivocally places the fleeing event with the fall of Jerusalem.” Logically stated the argument is this:
The day when the Son of Man would be revealed would be as the days of Noah and the flood (Mat. 24:36-43; Luke 17:26-30).
But the day when the Son of Man would be revealed would be a time of flight ( Luke 17:26-30).
Therefore the day when the Son of Man would be revealed would be a time of flight.
Jesus linked the story of Noah and the time of flight. Since the time of flight is irrefutably the time of Jesus’ coming in the fall of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:16f) this inextricably links Matthew 24 together as a unified whole discussing but one subject: the coming of the Lord in the fall of Jerusalem. Follow the progression of scriptures closely.
Jesus said his coming would be as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:36f/Luke 17). His coming, as in the days of Noah, would be a time of flight (Luke 17:26-30). But Jesus identified the time of his coming and the time of flight as the fall of Jerusalem (Mat. 24:16-31). Since Jesus linked the days of his coming as in the days of Noah (Mat. 24:36f) and the time of flight, Mat. 24:16f/Luke 17, then the coming of Matthew 24:36f cannot be a different coming than that in Matthew 24:16-31.
Matthew 24:36f and the discussion of the story of Noah and Jesus’ coming cannot be divided from Matthew 24:16f. This demonstrates the unity of Matthew 24 and proves that the so called contrast between fleeing and not fleeing in the Olivet Discourse is a false contrast.
More to come!