The Great Tribulation – #2 -More on Sam Frost and the Great Tribulation
In recent (Jan. 2020) postings on Facebook, former preterist Sam Frost made some utterly incredible 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. The Great Tribulation began at Creation.
2. The Great Tribulation will continue until the end of time, when tribulation will end.
3. Jesus is comparing The Great Tribulation that was coming to all other tribulations, both before his time and afterward. ( I should note that Frost’s claim that Jesus said tribulation would be “no more” after the Great Tribulation is a violation of his own claims. He says Jesus was comparing the Great Tribulation with other Tribulations that had occurred previously. Ok, fine, but, here is the kicker: Jesus was also comparing the coming tribulation with any other tribulation that might come! But, Frost switches gears mid-grammar, claiming that Jesus stopped making a comparison between tribulations and just affirmed that there would be no future tribulation after the Great Tribulation. That is simply specious).
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 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 (Dispensational) 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, that is true, because Jesus is saying that what he was talking about was to be greater than anything that had ever happened. Jesus said that what was about to happen, in his generation, something to be witnessed by his own apostles, was unparalleled! Two quick points:
First, please catch the power of this. Jesus did NOT say, “there WAS, or had been (past tense) the great tribulation ever since creation.” He was speaking of something very specific, and he used THE FUTURE TENSE, to say, “for then (tote) shall be (estai gar tote) great tribulation such as has not been since creation. Frost so much as admits this when he admits that Jesus was making a comparison between what had come before, i.e. the Flood, and what was about to happen.
Second, 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. 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 “tribulation has always been,” as Frost claims. “What Jesus is saying here is that “great tribulation” will continue as such until it is no more.” No, that is not what Jesus said.
(As we shall see, Jesus was NOT, as Frost claims, speaking in a woodenly literalistic manner).
Jesus said that there had never been such a tribulation like he was describing from the very beginning of creation “until now” ἕως (heōs) νuν (nyn)– and it is literally “Until the now.” From creation until the very time in which Jesus was living, there had NEVER BEEN such a tribulation as was coming. NEVER HAD BEEN 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 own “the now” time, from his day, there would never be another tribulation like what was coming! Jesus’ “until the now,” that is, until his “the now” and AFTER Jesus’ “the now” time, there never would be a tribulation like he was describing. 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’ “the now,” and nothing like it AFTER Jesus’ “THE NOW”! He did not say that tribulation would cease, but rather that what was coming in his “the now” time was greater than anything that would ever come. THAT is the force of the grammar of the text. Frost can claim this is not a substantive argument all he wants, but, this grammatical argument destroys his entire narrative on the Olivet Discourse. Here is why:
There had never been a Tribulation like the tribulation that Jesus foretold, before his own “the now” time.
There would never be another Tribulation like he described AFTER Jesus’ “the now” time.
Thus, the Tribulation that Jesus foretold is / was restricted to Jesus’ “the now” time. His generation.
This is absolutely demanded by the grammar of verse 21.
So, with that in mind:
The Tribulation that Jesus foretold is / was restricted to Jesus’ “the now” time. His generation.
But, Christ’s coming on the clouds of heaven in power and great glory 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 would occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days” the tribulation that would be in Jesus’ “the now” time, his generation.
To reiterate: Jesus’ generation, Jesus’ “until the now” is the crux interpretum in regard to the Great Tribulation. To put the tribulation Jesus was describing prior to his “the now” time violates the grammar. To put the Tribulation he was describing AFTER his own “the now” time violates the grammar. Frost violates the grammar in every way imaginable. And 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- “is”-DKP) comparing the tribulation(s) of the past “from creation til now” (his day) with the tribulation(s) that “will be”.//
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– as you admit!
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”) there would be no more tribulation! Evidently, Mr. Frost cannot remember from day to day what he has said. He radically changed his claim within just a Such is the total inconsistency of Mr. Frost, as he changes his claims on a constant basis.
Of course, as suggested above, the real question is, are we to understand Jesus’ statements in the woodenly Dispensational literalistic 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 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 Dispenstional 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. Thomas Ice, Great Tribulation Debate, (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. But the New Covenant World of Christ will never pass away! Thus, 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, and thus, there will be no future unparalleled and unprecedented tribulation until that fairy tale end imagined by Frost.
But again, just for fun, let’s look at what Josephus had to say about the AD 70 destruction:
Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world. (Josephus Wars, Bk 6: chapter 9).
So, there you have it! The Jewish first century witness to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem said it was the worst thing that God had ever brought on the world! It is almost as if he had read Matthew 24:21!
Frost tries to negate the force of Josephus’ citation by claiming that he was talking about the AD 70 destruction, but Jesus compared the coming tribulation by going all the way back to creation. But, as usual, Frost distorts the evidence. Notice what Josephus actually said: “Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or GOD EVER BROUGHT UPON THE WORLD.” (My emphasis).
So, Josephus actually said that the loss of life in the holocaust of AD 70 was worse than anything God had ever brought UPON THE WORLD. He did not say it was just the worst thing that had ever happened to Jerusalem, as Frost falsely claims. Just another example of Frost’s distortion of the evidence.
The reality, however, is that as a Hebrew, Josephus was using language in the way that the Biblical writers did, to describe some “world changing” event that was about to happen or that had happened. And, if you think about it, even today we even use hyperbolic language: “Wow! That is the most beautiful baby in the world! That is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen!” Truth is, we have probably said that about several babies!
Let’s take a look at the language of Matthew 24:21 in light of how the language is used elsewhere in the Bible.
Exodus 10:14 – (ESV) – The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again.
Comment: The reality is that we have no way today to measure the true magnitude of that locust plague. However, it is difficult to image that it could have been worse than the 1870s plague that hit the American midwest plains in the 1870s when “TRILLIONS” of locusts came! (https://timeline.com/in-the-1870s-12-trillion-locusts-devastated-the-great-plains-and-then-they-went-extinct-6f7c51a15d90).
Exodus 11:6 – ESV – There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.
Comment: If we apply Frost’s Dispensational literalism to this passage, the suffering experienced by the Egyptians during the plagues caused the worst suffering and cries of lament that will ever be! In fact, according to the words, there had NEVER been such a cry of distress and suffering and there would NEVER BE an equal cry of suffering! Well, that would contradict Jesus’ words – if taken literally.
Jeremiah 30:7 – ESV – Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it.
Comment: I am convinced that this is a Messianic prophecy. However, it may well be that Jeremiah had a contemporary application of the Chaldean invasion and destruction of Jerusalem in mind as well. Daniel certainly used the language of unparalleled destruction to describe that event:
And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem (Daniel 9:12).
So, here is Daniel speaking of the BC 586 destruction of Jerusalem and he said NOTHING LIKE IT HAD EVER BEEN DONE! This matches the language of Daniel’s contemporary prophet, Ezekiel, as he foretold that impending destruction:
And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations (Ezekiel 5:9).
So, according to Ezekiel and Daniel, the BC 586 destruction of Jerusalem was the worst thing that had ever been or that ever will be! Now, Frost would respond by saying that Ezekiel and Daniel was speaking of what was happening to Jerusalem whereas Jesus was not talking about Jerusalem, but something world wide. No, the Great Tribulation Jesus describes was centered in Judea: “When you see the Abomination of Desolation, let those in JUDEA flee… for then shall be great tribulation such as has been.” This is undeniably focused on Judea and Jerusalem, precisely as Ezekiel and Daniel.
The Lord said He said he would never do to Jerusalem what he was about to do– in BC 586! Uh, oh! Once again, taken in the woodenly literalistic manner of Sam Frost, this presents a direct inescapable contradiction! According to Josephus, AD 70 was worse than BC 586! Not only that, BC 586 was the destruction of Jerusalem. And then, in AD 70 Jerusalem was destroyed – historically, AD 70 was far worse than BC 586. But, look at the language again. Ezekiel (YHVH through him) said that in BC 586 He was going to destroy Jerusalem AND HE WOULD NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! Yet, undeniably, the Lord did destroy Jerusalem in AD 70 and He did it on a greater scale than in BC 586!
“Houston, we have a problem,” no, better stated, “Mr. Frost, you have a problem!”
Ezekiel and Daniel cannot be interpreted literally without contradicting Matthew 24:21.
Matthew 24:21 cannot be applied literally without contradicting Ezekiel and Daniel.
Daniel 12:1 ESV – “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.
Comment: You need to understand that Frost applies Daniel 12:1 to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. He says the Great Tribulation such as never has been since there was a nation till that time, refers to the second century BC. But if that is true, then Jesus was wrong to predict a future to him Great Tribulation such as has never been “since creation until now, or ever shall be.” After all, in Frost’s construct, the time of Antiochus was the unparalleled and unprecedented Great Tribulation – the greatest tribulation EVER!
So, if we take Frost’s application of Daniel 12:1 to the time of Antiochus and apply that language literally, then of necessity, Jesus was either ignorant of that application, or, he rejected Frost’s application, or, he, just like Daniel, was using the language metaphorically, hyperbolically. Both Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21 cannot be literally true of two totally different events separated by 200 years.
Joel 2:2 – ESV – A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.
Comment: Well, here is the interesting thing about this passage. It foretold a locust plague (1:4, 2:25) under the imagery of an army. How bad was that locust plague? The prophet said there had never been anything like it and would never be anything like it ever, in all generations! Was the prophet wrong? Was he not aware of Exodus 10-11? How could he say that the locust plague that hit Israel was the worst locust plage that had ever been or ever would be? Given Sam Frost’s literalistic hermeneutic, we have an outright contradiction between Exodus and Joel.
Note: Some scholars (e.g. The New American Commentary, Hosea, Joel, in loc, Logos Bible program) claim that Joel is describing a human army under the imagery of a locust plague. It really does not matter for our purposes. If Joel refers to a locust plague, then the problem of Exodus 10-11 applies. If he is speaking of any army, then it would contradict Matthew 24:21 if applied literally since Joel, like Jesus was speaking of what was coming on Judea and Jerusalem. So, either way, any kind of literalistic application of the language of, “none like it before or ever shall be” simply cannot be applied literally.
I think the reader can easily see that the language of Matthew 24:21 was typical Hebraic hyperbole. As just suggested, you cannot take the language literally without creating insurmountable contradictions in scripture.
A final thought here in closing. In his discussions claiming that Jesus said the great tribulation had always been and would always be until Frost’s imaginary end of time, he ever so conveniently ignored Matthew 24:22:
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Do you catch the power of what Jesus said? He is talking about the Great Tribulation that was going to happen in his own “the now” time; it had NOT been since creation and would not be after his own “the now” time. And he said “unless those days be shortened, no flesh would be saved.” Wait! Those days of the Great Tribulation SHORTENED? Well, the days of the tribulation before Jesus and his “the now” time could not be shortened– they had already rolled on and on.
Since Jesus excluded the Great Tribulation from being before his own “the now” time, and since he excluded the Great Tribulation from the days AFTER his own “the now” time, then of grammatical necessity, it was the days of Jesus’ own “the now” time that had to be shortened! Jesus was not speaking of time, indeterminate time, being shortened. He was talking about the days of his own “the now” time– his generation in which the Great Tribulation would occur. And this completely negates Sam Frost’s claims on the Great Tribulation. He is simply wrong. Irrefutably wrong.
A final note here: William Vincent, an acolyte of Frost, stated on FaceBook, in response to my comments: “Also, Don has never to my knowledge, given the reason that the tribulation continues past 70AD?”
I responded on 1-19-20: William Vincent show where I have ever said that the Great Tribulation extends beyond AD 70. Total misrepresentation– as usual.
My analysis proves that Jesus said that the tribulation he was talking about had NEVER BEEN, since creation, up to his very own “the now”– and would NEVER BE.
That means- grammatically– that the Great Tribulation is confined to Jesus’ “the now” time– his generation. It would not and did not extend beyond Jesus own “the now” time. And since the Great Tribulation is temporally delimited to Jesus’ own “the now” time (his generation) that means that his coming in v. 29f is likewise delimited to that generation– “Immediately after the tribulation of those days” (i.e. the Great Tribulation of Jesus’ “the now” time).
Funny how Mr. Frost conveniently ignored this grammatical argument– which effectively refutes virtually everything he wrote! LOL!
You see, you must catch this: On the one hand, Frost argues that the grammar of Matthew 24:21 demands that Jesus was comparing what was coming with previous tribulation. Ok, fine, no problem there. But then, he claims that the tribulation he is describing ends at the so-called end of time. So, Frost is contending that tribulation– suffering of any kind had always been and always will be until the end of time. But, what Jesus was predicting was to be greater than any of that “generic” tribulation. That is simply NOT what the grammar of the text demands or suggests.
The actual grammar of the text demands that Tribulation Jesus was describing would be limited to his “the now” time– his generation. But, acknowledging the fact that Jesus was speaking “comparatively” i.e. the Great Tribulation in comparison with what had been and what was coming, Jesus was NOT saying that tribulation would cease with the coming of the Great Tribulation. He was saying that what was to happen in his “the now” time was greater than anything that would ever be AFTER HIS “THE NOW” TIME. In other words, tribulation would continue after Jesus’ “the now” time, but, nothing– not WWII, not ANYTHING– would compare with what was going to happen in his “the now” time, his generation.
Thus, Frost’s focus on the “comparative” nature of Jesus’ words destroys his narrative. Jesus did not say tribulation would cease with the Great Tribulation. He did not say Tribulation continues until the end of time. He never mentions the end of time. Imposing Frost’s Dispensational literalism on the text means that Jesus said that nothing that would ever come, AFTER HIS OWN “THE NOW” TIME, could compare with what was to happen in his “the now” time.
The reader must keep in mind that the Great Tribulation that Jesus was predicting was to be the direct result of the Abomination of Desolation foretold by Daniel (Matthew 24:15). That Abomination was to be set up in Judea. It was to be seen by Jesus’ apostles / disciples, i.e. that generation, which was Jesus’ “the now” time. Frost says nothing of these things.
Frost says not one thing- not a keystroke – about the Judea Centric nature of the Abomination. He says not a word about the fact that Jesus’ apostles (that generation) was to witness it, or that those in Judea were to flee from it. Frost not only conveniently ignores these issues but totally failed (refused) to comment on the significance of the grammatical power of Jesus’ “the now” time. That is poor scholarship to say the least.
For a great study of the Great Tribulation be sure to get a copy of my book: The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2: Fulfilled or Future? It contains an in-depth study of the relationship between the Great Tribulation and the Resurrection.