Matthew 24:26– But of that Day and Hour – A Few More Thoughts
We have been interacting with a visitor to this site, who lodged some objections to our articles on Zechariah 14. Our Responder has been very cordial and respectful, and we appreciate that. This is the proper way to discuss scriptural differences. In our last installment, we examined the foundational argument of the Responder and that is that in Matthew 24:36 when Jesus said that he did not know the day or the hour of his coming, but that the Father did, this this precludes any objective application of temporal imminence of the parousia in the epistles.
By way of response, I made the following observations (edited for brevity):
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.
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!
John heard Jesus say that he did not know the day or the hour, several years previous to his writing of the Apocalypse.
But 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 James and Peter, 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.
Our Responder rejoins to all of this– admitting that it is a solid argument at least on appearance– by making the following claims:
1.) Jesus was inspired by the Spirit (and without measure) in Matthew 24 but still did not know the day and the hour, and therefore, this could still be true in the epistles, where the apostles had the Spirit.
Response: The problem here is that Jesus emphatically said that the Father was to give the Spirit to the apostles to reveal to them things to come. Our Responder must be able to prove– not assume, that the Spirit did not actually reveal all truth to them about “things to come.” Yet, that is precisely what Jesus said the Spirit would do– reveal all truth and shew them things to come. Our Responder– to reiterate– must be able to definitively prove that the Spirit withheld some truth about things to come from the disciples.
2.) Our Responder says that when we read of the imminence of the parousia in James, Peter and John, that we do not know if it is the same coming as in Matthew 24:36. I would suggest again that this is merely evasive, and has no merit. Certainly no real evidence was offered. A few points in response:
A.) Again, this assumes two totally different parousias, different in time and nature. No contextual, and certainly no lexical, support has been given. Merely assertions. Where is the proof from James, Peter or Revelation that these writers had something different in mind, when in fact, the identical patterns and motifs as found in Matthew 24 are found in these texts?
B.) It is built on the assumption– with no proof– that because there are two questions in Matthew 24:3 that there must of necessity be two different events. This is an unproven– and I think false- assumption. The questions were simply “When” and “what are the signs” i.e. of the “when” question. There are not two totally different subjects in the text. There is simply a question about “when” and the signs of the “when.”
C.) What proof did our Responder offer to suggest that James, Peter and John had something different in mind, from Matthew 24:36. Really, with no disrespect at all, not one word was given to actually prove that they had an imminent event in mind, all the while knowing that there was another future event in the distant future. This is pure assumption.
Matthew 24, The Tribulation and Immediately
The Responder has argued repeatedly that in Matthew 24:29 the “immediately” (from eutheos) refers to the ultimate Second Coming of Christ at the climax of human history. He has admitted that this “final coming” was to be “immediately” after the Tribulation. But of course, he says that “immediately” has now spanned 2000 years. Notice again Revelation. In response to my arguments above, he asks me how long of a “gap” do I posit in eutheos, between the Tribulation and the parousia. My answer to that is:
#1– There is no justification for a 2000 year gap! I have asked repeatedly for the linguistic evidence that allows for such a huge temporal gap, an no evidence has been forthcoming. Our Responder has pointed us to some totally unrelated texts, in which one might see a “gap” of a very short period of time, and extrapolated from those extremely brief “lapses” to a 2000 year gap! I have asked repeatedly for the logic that justifies such a leap of logic and linguistics, but all we have received in response has been the same presuppositional claims that essentially say that if eutheos can have a gap of a few days, that this means it can have a gap of 2000 years. This is far from logical or convincing.
2.) Whatever “gap” that one might allow, since Revelation posits the Tribulation and the parousia– precisely like Matthew 24 does– as inextricably connected, and says that the parousia that is tied to that Tribulation as imminent, that this agrees perfectly well with Jesus saying that the Tribulation would occur, immediately afterward would be the parousia, and that “all of these things” would occur in his generation. John undeniably posits the parousia– the coming tied to the Tribulation– as coming soon. This demands that the parousia of Matthew 24 therefore, was in fact fulfilled in Jesus’ generation. That is, unless of course, the Responder could offer contextual proof that there were two parousias inextricably tied to the Tribulation. One of those comings would be, well truly, well, “immediately after” the first century Tribulation, but then, another one, not truly immediately after that Tribulation!
John says he was in “The Tribulation” and posits the Great Tribulation as a first century reality. Our Responder agrees. John likewise posits the parousia of Christ as at hand, coming quickly. Our Responder agrees that in chapters 1-10, and even in chapter 22 where we find such strong language of imminence, that this does in fact refer to the AD 70 parousia. But look what this means.
It means that just as Matthew 24 posits the Tribulation and the parousia (i.e. the final coming, per the Responder) “immediately after” the Tribulation, John likewise posits the Tribulation and the parousia, which our Responder posits in AD 70, but then, he claims that the final parousia is not the imminent (immediately after) the Tribulation after all! It is yet to come!
So, both Matthew 24 and Revelation posit the parousia in direct connection to the Tribulation. In Matthew 24 our responder says that the “immediately after” parousia is still unfulfilled 2000 years after the tribulation, but, the parousia after the Tribulation in Revelation did occur imminently! This is pure presupposition and once again, demands proof, not assertion. Since the Responder claims such a dichotomization between these two parousias– both directly tied to the Tribulation– the burden of proof clearly lies on him to provide that proof, but it is not there.
The Responder has posited that Revelation speaks of two parousias: one imminent, the other not imminent. But again, this has no merit in the text! There is no near and not near language. That must be read into the text, based on a presupposition about the millennium. But, there is very, very strong evidence to support the idea of a 40 year millennium. See Joseph Vincent’s book: The Millennium: Past, Present or Future? for an excellent study of this issue.
Matthew 24 And The Age to Come
Our Responder has claimed that Luke 18:30 is, to him, a definitive rejection of the idea that the temple represented the Old Covenant age. I stated that to deny that the temple represented Torah is simply unhistorical and un-biblical. But, does Matthew 24 posit the end of history as the end of “this age” and the coming of another age I.e. the age to come, after the end of human history. Of course, I once believed this view, but came to realize that it is not warranted.
For brevity, here are just a few comments from my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings, in regard to “this age” and “the age to come.”:
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First, The Jews only believed in two ages, and Jesus and the New Testament writers concurred in that belief and doctrine. The Jews believed in “this age” and “the age to come.”
Second, Their “this age” was the age of Moses and the Law, and the “age to come” was the age of Messiah and the New Covenant.
Third, The age of Moses and the Law was to end, while the age of Messiah and the New Covenant was to be eternal (see Matthew 24:35).
It is important to note that the Jews viewed the world through the eyes of covenant, of Torah. And the Temple was the very epitome, the very focus of that covenant, and that covenant age. The Jews were not looking at “this age” as simply the time-space continuum that serves as the definition of the Responder’s view of Matthew 24:3. The Jews looked at “this age” as the age of Torah, the Law of Moses, and the “age to come” as the New Covenant world of Messiah.
According to Luke 18:30 eternal life would constitute the reality of “the age to come.” Well, Jesus said that those who serve him– NOW– in his kingdom, “will never die” (John 8:51). And, we today, in Christ, are living in the age that followed the age in which Jesus lived on earth, the age represented by the temple. We are living in “the age to come!”
While there is clearly much, much more that could be said, we will allow this to suffice for the time being. Perhaps more later.
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