The Olivet Discourse – Matthew 24:3 in the Cross Hairs – #7
Be sure to read the previous installments in this series, beginning here: #1The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24:3 In the Cross Hairs – #1
After laying some important groundwork and context for our examination of Matthew 13 it is now time to turn our attention there. In Matthew 13 Jesus told the parable of the sower and the harvest. The harvest when the Son of Man would send forth the angels to gather the harvest, would occur at the end of the age (Matthew 13:39-40). Notice what Jesus said in verses 39-43. He would send forth his angels to gather the elect and judge the wicked. When this was done, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). This is a direct echo of Daniel 12:3!
Let me reiterate an earlier argument:
The coming of the Lord at the harvest / resurrection at the end of the age in Matthew 13:39-43 is the end of the age resurrection foretold by Daniel 12:2-3. (The distinctive Greek term rendered “end of the age” sunteleia aionos in Matthew 13:40 is the same term the disciples used when they inquired of the end of the age in Matthew 24:3. See my Into All the World Then Comes The End for a full discussion of this distinctive term).
But, the end of the age resurrection foretold by Daniel 12:2-3 would take place: “When the power of the holy people is completely shattered” (Daniel 12:7).
Therefore, the coming of the Lord at the harvest / resurrection at the end of the age in Matthew 13:39-43 would take place, “When the power of the holy people is completely shattered.”
So, what we have is that Jesus told a parable about the kingdom, the judgment, the end of the age. His parable is based squarely on Daniel 12 which foretold the fulfillment of these things when Israel would be completely shattered.
Notice now, and keep in mind, that in Matthew 13:16f:
Jesus had already told his disciples that they were witnessing the things foretold by the prophets.
He said they were living in the time foretold by the prophets.
And, he told them that he told the parables so that they would understand the mystery of the kingdom!
So, after instructing the apostles in this way, Jesus continued to discuss the end of the age with them. He then posed an important question to them, a question that is virtually ignored in the discussions of Matthew 24:3 and whether the disciples were confused in their questions. In Matthew 13:51, Jesus asked his disciples: “Have you understood all of these things?”
Do you grasp how significant this question and this context is? This is a critical question for it has a direct bearing on our understanding of the eschatology of Jesus, the supposed confusion, or ignorance of the apostles, and particularly Matthew 24.
Remember, Matthew 13 and Matthew 24 are about the end of the age. The identical distinctive Greek term is used in both texts. Both passages speak of the gathering (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 24:31). Both passages are dealing with God’s promises to Israel and the fate of Israel. Daniel 12 emphatically and irrefutably posits the kingdom, the gathering, the resurrection / harvest at the time of Israel’s destruction. Jesus directly alludes (some say he is loosely quoting Daniel 12:3, and in the normal custom of citations in the first century, this is true). Jesus then asked the disciples if they understood what he had said, and they affirmed that they did!
Now, did the disciples know that Daniel 12 foretold the end of the age? Who can deny that?
Did they understand that Daniel foretold the resurrection? It can hardly be missed.
Did they comprehend that there was a direct connection between the end of the age, the kingdom, the resurrection, and the destruction of Israel, as Daniel so clearly states? Well, they said they understood what Jesus was saying! And Jesus was citing Daniel’s prophecy of the end, the resurrection and the destruction of Israel.
If the end of the age in Matthew 13 is the end of the age in Daniel 12, then the end of the age in Matthew 13 would be when Israel was shattered.
If the end of the age in Matthew 13 is the end of the age in the Olivet Discourse, then the end of the age of Matthew 24 would be when Israel was shattered– just as Matthew 24:2-3 indicates.
The disciples said they understood what Jesus said about the end of the age in Matthew 13.
But Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 13 is drawn from Daniel 12 which predicted the resurrection at the end of the age when Israel was shattered. At the risk of redundancy, let me point out again that in Matthew 13:
✦ Jesus had already told his disciples that they were witnessing the things foretold by the prophets.
✦ He said they were living in the time foretold by the prophets.
✦And, he told them that he told the parables so that they would understand the mystery of the kingdom!
It is surely untenable to deny these facts and claim that in spite of the apostles’ assertions that they understood, nonetheless to claim that they did not understand, and that they were confused. What basis is there to deny these facts and to deny the apostles’ own words?
Therefore, unless the disciples lied about understanding Jesus’ discourse about the end of the age in Matthew 13 – and its undeniable connection to Daniel 12– then they were not confused or ignorant or wrong in Matthew 24.
Unless it can be definitively proven that they did in fact not understand what Jesus said in Matthew 13, (in spite of their own claim to the contrary) it is prima facie evident that the disciples were not confused to connect the destruction of the Temple with the end of the age. And if they were not confused, if they were not simply wrong, then it is the modern commentators who are confused and wrong. The end of the age and Christ’s coming are, in fact and indeed, inseparably linked to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Did the disciples lie in Matthew 13 when they said they understood Jesus’ appeal to Daniel about the end of the age? Where is the slightest hint of this?
Did the disciples forget what Jesus had said in Matthew 13 when they asked their questions in Matthew 24? Where does Matthew 24 suggest such a thing? Even if they had somehow forgotten it, that does not invalidate the actual connection between the end of the age and the destruction of Israel found in Daniel / Matthew 13!
Did the disciples misapply Jesus’ own application of Daniel, in Matthew 13? What is the proof of that? Daniel and Matthew 13 are predictive of the end of Israel’s age at the time of her destruction. The end of that age at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is what prompted the disciples’ questions in Matthew 24. So, where would the misapplication and misunderstanding be?
Did the disciples not understand what Jesus said in Matthew 10:23, or 16:27-28, or chapter 21, or chapter 22, or chapter 23– the passages we have examined, (see article #6) all of which undeniably pointed to AD 70? Was the disciples’ understanding of Jesus’ teaching worse than that of the Pharisees in Matthew 21, so much so that although the Pharisees understood that Jesus was speaking of their impending judgment at the coming of the Lord, and yet, the disciples still just did not get it? Did the disciples not comprehend Jesus’ emphatic declaration of the coming judgment of the city that had killed the prophets? Just how dense were Jesus’ disciples, if the modern day assumptions are correct?
It seems more than apparent, based on the actual texts and contexts, the actual statements of Jesus’ apostles that they understood his teaching on the end of the age and its connection with Daniel, that it is the much later commentators who are confused, not Jesus’ apostles.
We have more to come! In the meantime, get a copy of my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air: The Wedding of the King of kings, for a great, in-depth discussion of the Olivet Discourse and whether or not the apostles were confused.