More on the Great Tribulation and Sam Frost- #2
In recent (Jan. 2020) postings on Facebook, former preterist Sam Frost made some utterly unprecedented claims about the great tribulation predicted by Jesus in Matthew 24:15, 21. Here are Jesus’ words:
When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet (let the one who reads understand), then let those in Judea flee… for then shall be great tribulation such as has never been from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
Frost wrote the following:
“Ever read something 500 gazillion times, and then on the 500 gizzillionth and 1 time you read it, you say, “Whoa!”?
Well, that happened to me. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (Mt 24.21). Now, in Greek: ἔσται γὰρ τ τε θλ ψις μεγ λη οἵα οὐ γ γονεν ἀπ’ ἀρχ ς κ σμου ἕως το ν ν οὐδ’ οὐ μὴ γ νηται.
Let me translate: for a great tribulation will, great tribulation not as has been from the beginning of the world until now – neither shall great tribulation ever be.
You see, the relative pronoun translated “such as” stands on the place of the noun it is attached to. In this case, great tribulation (feminine singular). The verb in the second clause (gegonen) has as its subject “great tribulation” as well. IN OTHER WORDS, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION OF THE WORLD (SEE MARK’S ADDITION OF “CREATION”) UNTIL JESUS’ DAY (“NOW”) IS REFERRED TO AS “GREAT TRIBULATION”. That is, the whole period of time from creation to Jesus was “great tribulation.” Thousands of years. (My emphasis, DKP).
Noah’s flood, tower of Babel, Egypt’s enslavement, the wilderness, the conquest, up to the Assyrians, the Babylonians, on through the Greeks and Seluecids…right up to Jesus’ day: great tribulation.
The subject of the verb “it will be” is singular, too, and is “great tribulation” for its subject. “Great tribulation will be” – cumulatively compared to great tribulation of Creation to Jesus’ day, such will be, and is promised to “be no more”.
Now….this poses a question: if “great tribulation” characterized thousands of years, why is it now limited to “three and a half years”? Second, what could be worse than Noah’s flood? 70 AD? A drop in the bucket.
What Jesus is saying here is that “great tribulation” will continue as such until it is no more.
“…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
As I pointed out in a previous response to Frost (to which his only response has been to wave his hand and say that there is no substantive argument there), I pointed out that Frost is claiming that the Greek grammar of verse 21 teaches the following:
1. Tribulation began at Creation.
2. The Great Tribulation Jesus was predicting was to be greater than any previous tribulation. Notice that Frost tries to imply that the great tribulation began at Creation, which is utterly opposite of what Jesus said. Jesus did NOT say there had been great tribulation- and certainly not “the great tribulation” since creation.
3. The Great Tribulation Jesus was predicting was to be greater than any tribulation that would occur afterward. Hang onto this critical idea.
4. But, Frost likewise claims that Matthew 24:21 proves that tribulation will continue until the end of time, when tribulation will end. Now, supposedly, Frost believes that the very same, identical language in Matthew 24:21 (“nor ever shall be”) means that Jesus was comparing future tribulations with that which was coming in his “the now” time, but then, those same identical words supposedly mean that tribulation will end at the end of time!
Please take note that his own translation just above proves that Jesus was affirming that the Tribulation that he was predicting was to be unlike anything from creation forward, and unlike anything that would come after it. (An examination of 57 English translations confirms this).
Frost scoffs at the idea that the Jewish War of AD 66-70 climaxing in the destruction of Jerusalem can possibly be The Great Tribulation that Jesus was speaking of, since the Flood was greater, WWII was greater, and other horrific pogroms and conflicts were, in his estimation, far greater than the first century conflict. He says: “what could be worse than Noah’s flood? 70 AD? A drop in the bucket.”
So, as you can see, Frost is imposing a woodenly literalistic hermeneutic on Jesus’ language. The problem for Mr. Frost is that his own words – as usual – fatally entrap him! There are several things to be noted here. Consider the following:
Frost says that Jesus’ words mean that great tribulation had been on-going since creation. Well, in one sense that is true, because Jesus is saying that what he was talking about was to be greater than anything that had ever happened. So, no problem in saying that had been tribulation. But, Jesus did not say that the great tribulation had always been. Jesus also said that what was about to happen, in his generation, something to be witnessed by his own apostles, was literally unparalleled!
Notice the following
Jesus was not speaking of just any tribulation, common, or even uncommon tribulation. He was speaking of, “such tribulation such as has never been since creation.” Be sure to read the first installment where I demonstrate from the Greek grammar that Jesus was emphatic that THERE HAD NEVER BEEN, FROM CREATION ONWARD, A TRIBULATION LIKE HE WAS DESCRIBING. That is, if one takes the language in a literalistic way– which is not appropriate. And again, Frost all but admits this, since he agrees that Jesus was comparing what was about to come with what was had been- or ever would be.
Should Frost respond by saying that the Tribulation that Jesus had in mind was in fact the passing of material heaven and earth, at some unknown time in the future, he flies in the face of the Grammar of the text. He claimed that the Grammar of Matthew 24:21 proves his case. The reality is that it destroys his claims.
Notice again the point I made in the previous article. Jesus is very clear; the Grammar is emphatic and undeniable. The Tribulation that he was describing had never -EVER – occurred at anytime since creation: “For then shall be great tribulation such as has NEVER BEEN SINCE THE BEGINNING OF CREATION.” “Such as has never been” (οἵα (hoia) does not mean “the tribulation has always been.”
Jesus also said “and never shall be.” “Frost claims that Jesus is saying that “great tribulation” will continue as such until it is no more.” No, that is not what Jesus said. Frost cannot find those words anywhere in the text, either explicitly or implicitly.
(As we shall see, Jesus was NOT, as Frost claims, speaking in a woodenly literalistic manner).
And now, pay particular note: Not only did Jesus say that there had never been such a tribulation like he was describing, he said there had never been such as tribulation from the very beginning of creation “until the now” ἕως (heōs) tou νuν (nyn)– and it is literally “The now.”
From creation until the very time in which Jesus was living, there NEVER HAD BEEN SUCH A TRIBULATION UP TO THAT VERY “THE NOW” TIME OF THE FIRST CENTURY. (Once again, keep in mind that I am arguing in regard to Frost’s literalistic interpretation of “none like it.” I am granting that application for argument sake only, and for only a moment). And so, once again, the actual Grammar of the text completely falsifies and destroys Frost’s abuse of the text. But there is more.
Jesus not only said that the Tribulation that was coming was unlike anything that had ever happened since creation until his own “the now” time, he said that from his VERY OWN “the now” time, from his day, (Remember that Frost admitted this), there would never be another tribulation like what was coming! In other words, the actual Greek grammar of the text demands that Jesus’ “the now” is the pivot point– nothing like it from creation until Jesus’ very own “the now,” and nothing like it AFTER Jesus’ very own “THE NOW”! THAT is the force of the grammar of the text. This grammatical argument destroys Frost’s entire narrative on the Olivet Discourse– in fact- his entire eschatology. Here is why:
The Tribulation that Jesus foretold had never been before his own “the now” time.
There would never be another Tribulation like he described AFTER Jesus’ “the now” time; again, keep in mind that Frost admits this.
Thus, the Tribulation that Jesus foretold was restricted to Jesus’ “the now” time. His generation. This is demanded by the grammar of verse 21.
So, with that in mind:
The Tribulation that Jesus foretold was restricted to Jesus’ “the now” time. His generation; Frost admitting.
But, Christ’s coming on the clouds of heaven in power and great glory- which is the time of the resurrection – would occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (24:29).
Therefore, Christ’s coming on the clouds of heaven in power and great glory – which is the time of the resurrection – would occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days” i.e. Jesus’ very own “the now” time.
To reiterate: Jesus’ generation, Jesus’ “the now” time is the crux interpretum in regard to the Great Tribulation. Frost is correct to say that Jesus was COMPARING the Tribulation he predicted with all previous tribulation AND WITH ALL FUTURE TRIBULATION!
In fact, on 1-19-2020 on “Full Preterism: A Thing of the Past,” Frost all but conceded the point I am making. He said: //Thus, Jesus us (sic) comparing the tribulation(s) of the past “from creation til now” (his day) with the tribulation(s) that “will be”.// (My emphasis, DKP).
I could not agree more, but, here is what I wrote in response (1-20-2020):
//Jesus was comparing what was to happen — in your words ” “from creation til now” (his day)”
Jesus’ “the now” time– what you (correctly call “his day” was to be the time of the Tribulation that was unlike what came before or would come afterward!
Thank you for admitting this, because:
The Tribulation that Jesus was predicting was to be in Jesus’ “the now” time.
But, Christ’s parousia on the clouds in power and great glory, was to be “immediately after the tribulation”– the tribulation that would occur in Jesus’ “the now” time– his generation.
Therefore, Christ’s coming on the clouds in power and great glory was to be in Jesus’ “the now” time– in his generation.
I truly appreciate you admitting – fatally so – that the Great Tribulation was to be in Jesus’ own day. There had never been anything like it before Jesus’ “the now” time- as you admit.
There would never be anything like it after Jesus’ “the now” time- (edit- as Frost admits).
Thus, the Great Tribulation– and the parousia– had to be in Jesus’ “the now” time.//
(Insert: The reader should note that Frost actually violates his own claim that Jesus was saying that after the Great Tribulation of his own “the now” time, that tribulation would cease- be no more! Now, just above, he admits that the actual grammar means that Jesus was in fact: “comparing the tribulation(s) of the past “from creation til now” (his day) WITH THE TRIBULATION(S) THAT “WILL BE.”(My emphasis-DKP).
Do you catch that? Frost flip flopped from saying Jesus was comparing the Great Tribulation of his own “the now” time, with future tribulations, to saying that Jesus was actually saying that after the GT (of his own “the now” time”), tribulation would end- at his imaginary end of time! Such is the total inconsistency of Mr. Frost, as he changes his claims on a constant basis.
Note, after several days, Mr. Frost had not responded to the above, so, just today (1-23-20) I re-posted it on “Full Preterism: A Thing of the Past,” making sure the post was at the very top of the page. I will update this article if / when Mr. Frost responds.
Of course, as suggested above, the real question is, are we to understand Jesus’ statements in the woodenly literalistic, Dispensational-like, manner in which Frost and his compatriots on “Full Preterism: A Thing of the Past” are doing? I suggest that their literalistic hermeneutic is a failure to honor Hebraic idiom, and typical Hebraic hyperbole, as Jerald Davis, (A seasoned Greek student of many years) who wrote a brief response to Frost suggested. (Sadly, on 1-18-20, -on that FB page just mentioned, the acerbic and dishonest Lance Conley, joined by William Vincent, denied that there was such as thing as the Hebraic mind-set that was different from the Grecian world view. This is astoundingly, stunningly bad, and is a denial of scholarship).
Anyway, just for fun, let’s consider two different ideas on the language of Matthew 24:21 before delving into what I consider the key to proper interpretation.
In his written debate with Thomas Ice on the Great Tribulation, Kenneth Gentry confronted the identical Dispensational literalism being imposed on Matthew 24:21 by Frost. Gentry examined the language of “such as has never been” and demonstrated that it is common Hebraic hyperbolic language. More on this below. By the way, he cited some Dispensational writers who actually agree. (Kenneth L. Gentry and Thomas Ice, THE GREAT TRIBULATION PAST OR FUTURE?, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 189). Then, in his He Shall Have Dominion book, Gentry made a point worth considering.
Gentry says, “I would argue: first, the covenantal significance of the loss of the temple stands as the most dramatic redemptive-historical outcome of the Jewish War.” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA., Apologetics Group, 2009), 347). So, Gentry is suggesting that in regard to covenantal significance, the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 fits the bill of Jesus’ language. One thing is for certain, the futurist view cannot fit that language. In AD 70 a covenant world came to an end– as always predicted. Nothing like that had ever happened, and by the way, will never happen again!
The New Covenant World of Christ will never pass away! Remember, Frost said that the GT would be greater than any tribulation that might come in the future– the future from his very own “the now” time! Well, wouldn’t the destruction of every single living creature be greater even than the flood? Wouldn’t the end of the Gospel of Grace, the New Covenant age, be far, far greater (worse!!) Than the end of the Old Covenant, which was the ministry of death??
Yet, to re-emphasize, Sam Frost himself said that Jesus was comparing the Tribulation that was to come in his very own “the now” as far greater than any other tribulation that might come after his “the now” time. Thus, Frost actually denies and rejects his own interpretation of Jesus words by positing an end of time, the destruction of the material cosmos, and the end of the Christian age and the Gospel of Grace. In that narrative, the future tribulation would be far, far greater than any tribulation that had ever been, including the Flood, and, it would be greater than anything that might happen in Jesus’ “the now” time.
Since the New Covenant and the New Covenant age never ends, it is literally impossible for a future event to compare covenantally with AD 70. The Old Covenant world was always supposed to end, giving way to eternal, everlasting, unending New Covenant age. If Frost and the futurists are right, then Jesus was wrong, because they posit the future end of the current Christian age, which is an overt denial of Jesus’ own words: “My words shall never pass away.” The Gospel, and thus, the Gospel age, has NO END. That means that there is no unparalleled and unprecedented tribulation from Jesus’ “the now” time until that fairy tale end imagined by Frost.
I will continue this installment of our examination of Frost’s self contradictory claims about the Great Tribulation later. Stay tuned! In the meantime, get a copy of my book, The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2: Fulfilled or Future? It contains a lengthy study of the Great Tribulation and its inseparable connection to the coming of the Lord and the resurrection.