Responding to the Critics: What About Matthew 10:22-23?
And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
This text has been problematic for Christianity since the very beginning. For literally centuries critical scholars such as David Strauss, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolph Bultmann and a host of others have essentially lost their faith because of their inability to deal with Jesus’ very clear-cut promise– he was coming in lifetime of his apostles! Each of these men– great linguists– believed as most Christians still do- that the coming of Jesus was to be his descent out of heaven coming, as a 5’5″ Jewish man, riding on a cumulus cloud, descending to earth to put an end to time and human history. Bultmann said:
“The mythical eschatology is untenable for the simple reason that the parousia of Christ never took place as the New Testament expected. History did not come to an end, and as every school boy knows it will continue to run its course” (Rudolph Bultmann, The New Testament and Mythology, in Krygma and Myth, A Theological Debate,ed. Hans Werner Barsch, trans. R. H. Fuller, (London, SPCK, 1953).
The fact is that some of the worlds greatest linguistic scholars whose academic prowess is beyond dispute, recognized that you cannot mitigate the language of imminence found on the lips of Jesus and on the pages of the NT. The problem is that they did not recognize the nature of Hebraic thought and the nature of Hebraic apocalyptic language, as later scholars such as N. T. Wright, Scott McKnight, R. T. France, and a host of other academics have pointed out. In other words, to put it simply, Jesus did not predict the end of time. He did not predict his coming out of heaven in a physical body. He used the well attested prophetic language of the Day of the Lord to communicate the fact that he was going to come “in the glory of the Father” by exercising his sovereignty to use the Romans to judge Old Covenant Israel / Jerusalem and the temple. He was going to come in judgment as King of kings and Lord of lords, not as a Jewish man! See my book, Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, where I demonstrate this with a massive amount of evidence.
Now, futurists have attempted all sorts of explanations for these verses, some of those “explanations” nothing short of mere diversion, obfuscation or overt denial. Just recently, Sam Frost, former preterist and outspoken critic of Covenant Eschatology (Full Preterism), tried to negate the power of this passage. He posted initially in regards to Paul’s emphatic declaration that the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven in Colossians 1:23, denying that Paul was affirming the completion of the world mission.
Remember, in Matthew 10 Jesus very clearly promised his coming, his parousia, in the lifetime of his first century apostles. And in Matthew 24:14 he said that the Gospel would be preached into all the world “then comes the end.” Frost knows that if this applied to Christ’s coming in AD 70 that his futurism falls to the ground. Thus, Frost has devised an “explanation” for Matthew 10:22-23 to avoid and escape the problem presented by the passage.
Frost posted his “explanation” on the FaceBook page Full Preterism: A Thing of the Past I will give the salient citations -again, excluding some for brevity- In addition, I will also include some confirmation on what he wrote on FaceBook with references to his book, The Parousia of the Son of Man, (Vigilante Et Orate Publishing, 2018).
Frost’s post caused a good bit of response from myself and another poster, Robert Statzer, who offered some very good analysis in refuting Frost. Although they are excellent comments, I am not including Statzer’s comments here for brevity sake, since the exchange took place over several days and included many posts. I will confine this article to sharing the exchange between myself and Sam Frost.
So, the context of the discussion was Frost’s denial that Colossians 1:23 affirms the completion of the World Mission of Matthew 24:14. (It is needful for you to know that he delineates between the Gospel of Christ of that text and the “gospel” proclaimed by all natural creation. Thus, for instance, Frost claims:
//Thus, a distinction can be made between the good news of God’s glory and kindness in all creation – through his creation – by his creation shown to all, including “the wicked and the righteous” (Matthew 5.45); and the “hearing” of the actual words of the gospel message and believing it.
” And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” The Gospel will be proclaimed – and it will be a WITNESS” – what does the Gospel WITNESS? “For he has not left himself without WITNESS….” There is no way this statement by Jesus can be “limited” to the gospel mission of the first century til 70 AD.//
What you absolutely must see is that the NT writers make no such distinction! That is a theological invention, created out of whole cloth, to avoid the power of Paul’s words! But, in response to Frost, I noted the following
//It is of more than passing interest that Jesus said: Preach the Gospel to every creature (ktsis- Mark 16:15f) and Paul said the Gospel had been preached to every creature. But, it appears that Mr. Frost wants to delineate between the Gospel that was to be preached into all the world– before the end, by the way, and that which WAS preached into all the world.
Just as Jesus predicted the preaching of the Gospel into all the earth (ge), the world (kosmos), to the nations (ethne), to the world (oikoumene), Paul used those identical words to say that the Gospel had been preached in all the earth, to the whole world, to all the nations, to every creature. I suppose it is merely verbal coincidence that Paul used the very words that Jesus did to say that the Gospel had been preached to the very extent that Jesus said it would. And, it is likewise mere coincidence that Jesus said when the Gospel had been preached into all the world, to all the nations, “then comes the end” and Paul, proclaiming that the Gospel had been preached to all the nations, said the end was near! Yea, purely verbal coincidence. Makes one wonder: If Paul wanted to communicate the idea that what Jesus predicted / commanded had been fulfilled, what other words, terms or phrases MUST he have used, instead of the ones that he used?
Now, Mr. Frost tells us that Matthew 4-14 entails “the entirety of the Christian enterprise” (notice that he assiduously avoids the term “Christian age” because he denies that there is such a thing as the Christian age).
He tell us that “the end” is the end of human history, the end of time. But of course, Frost denies that the message of the fall of Jerusalem was, in any way, shape, form or fashion, “the gospel.” Mr. Frost assumes, without so much as a keystroke of proof, that “the end” is the end of time (for which there is no proof), and that “this gospel” refers to something unrelated to the message of the fall of the city and temple. Of course, that is a presumptive position. The disciples in direct response to Jesus’ prediction of the temple, asked about the end of the age.
Now, ask yourself: What age were they asking about? The end of WHAT age? Well, it was the age that the temple represented – what ever age that might be, but, it most assuredly was not the “Christian enterprise”! Mr. Frost, what age did that temple represent? Will you tell us?
Were the disciples wrong to connect the fall of that temple with the end of the age? If so, please prove it.
If they were right, – and you have admitted previously that they were– then in reality, your entire paradigm is falsified, because the end of the old age is the full arrival of “the age to come.” Thus, if the age – the then present age – ended with the destruction of the temple, guess what, the Gospel was preached into all the world, then the end came, and we are living in the “age to come.”
By the way, Mr. Frost, what age are we living in, right now?
As to the claim: //Thus, a distinction can be made between the good news of God’s glory and kindness in all creation – through his creation – by his creation shown to all, including “the wicked and the righteous” (Matthew 5.45); and the “hearing” of the actual words of the gospel message and believing it.//
We have a right to ask Mr. Frost for the proof that in Colossians 1:5-7 or 1:23, that Paul had “the good news of God’s glory and kindness in all creation – through his creation – by his creation shown to all// and not the message (the Gospel!!) of the impending end of the Old Covenant ministration of death, in mind.
What Gospel did Jesus have in mind in Mark 16:15f– was it the same Gospel that Paul said had been preached into all the world, and to every creature? If those are different Gospels, we need proof.
Now, Mr. Frost can deny that the message of the end of the Old Covenant age of sin and death with the fall of Jerusalem was “good news” but, his denial is not tenable. According to Isaiah 65, and a host of other texts- it would be at the destruction of the Old Israel / Jerusalem, that the New Creation would come into full bloom. That would be- and was–the time of salvation and redemption.
Think about this folks: For Mr. Frost’s post to have any validity, AT ALL, he must prove that every single text, in which Paul affirmed:
That the Gospel had been preached to all the nations, (ethne)
That the Gospel had been preached to all the world, (kosmos)
That the Gospel had been preached into all the earth, (ge)
That the Gospel had been preached to every creature, (ktsis)
That the Gospel had been preached to all the world (oikoumene).
Not one of those texts actually mean anything! They don’t say “fulfilled.” They don’t say “has been preached” (even though the texts do say this)– no, no, they don’t say that!
Couple all of these emphatic declarations with the multitudinous temporal statements that the end was near– when the Gospel had been preached to all the world, and the message is very clear. Mr. Frost has done nothing but adopt a message of denial. He denies the language of fulfillment, and he denies the language of imminence.
As to whether the message of the end of the Old Covenant Temple could be – was – good news, I have addressed this in depth in the book just above: (It is currently a Kindle only book)
On 10-29-19- Frost responded: (You will notice that he did not address the great bulk of my arguments).
//So, if the Gospel had been preached to every nation, creature, creation and person by the TIME PAUL WROTE (59-60 CE), then “the end” should have come. Notice…Paul wrote, according to Don K. Preston’s interpretation, that it HAD ALREADY HAPPENED. Thus, the mission of Paul and the Disciples preaching HAD BEEN FULFILLED before Paul wrote Colossians 1.23!
Let us read Preston’s own words: “Paul used those identical words to say that the Gospel had been preached in all the earth, to the whole world, to all the nations, to every creature.” Again, “If Paul wanted to communicate the idea that what Jesus predicted / commanded had been fulfilled, what other words, terms or phrases MUST he have used, instead of the ones that he used?” THESE ARE PRESTON’S WORDS. Therefore, since what “Jesus predicted” was “had been fulfilled” when Paul “communicated” his words to the Colossians (59-60CE), THEN THE END SHOULD HAVE COME THEN and not 10 YEARS LATER!!!
Such a goof.
BUT, and notice Don never touches this point, IF ALL heard the Gospel by then (60 CE), then they MUST HAVE FINISHED going through the cities of Israel! BUT, Jesus said that they WOULD NOT finsh until he comes!
As you can see, Mr. Frost hung his hat on Matthew 10:22-23 and Jesus’ statement that “they WOULD NOT finsh (sic) until he comes!” (You should know that Mr. Frost believes that the “coming” of Matthew 10:23 was Jesus’ ascension to the Father’s right hand, in Acts 1. We will show that this is completely untenable.)
Well, in the next installment, I will share my responses– which will reveal how misguided, how false, how utterly anachronistic Mr. Frost’s claim is. You will be amazed as we continue Responding to the Critics.