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What Were “All These Things” in The Olivet Discourse?- #2

An extensive discussion of the Olivet Discourse
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Yesterday 12-3-19 I posted part one of Dr. Dallas Burdette’s response to Sam Frost’s contrived claims on Matthew 24:2-3. Frost argues that when Jesus said, “do you not see all of these things” in direct response to the disciples pointing out the size, the beauty and the glory of the Temple stones and the Temple complex, that Jesus was NOT discussing the stones of the Temple or or the Temple complex. Per Frost, Jesus was looking at the far western horizon out past Jerusalem, as far as the eye can see and the blue sky. According to Frost, that was the “these things” that Jesus was predicting would be destroyed.

I posted the first installment of Dr. Burdette’s response on several FaceBook pages. I am copying here  Frost’s response which he placed on Preterist Perspectives: Discussion and Debate, as well as the response that I wrote just this morning (12-4-19):

// Sam Frost – Don K. Preston the liar….can you please quote me in your sloppy article where I refer to “planet earth”?

Sam Frost – Now, let’s not ask a ton of questions, Don….just quote me where I said, ‘planet earth’…

Sam Frost “He claimed that when Jesus said “do you not see all of these things” he was not referring to the stones and the buildings of the Temple complex, but rather, to the wider vista of material creation.” Please, Don….just one quote where “planet earth” is mentioned…

I responded to Frost with the following (12-4-19) :
Don K. Preston- Did everyone notice that Sam Frost said not one word– literally not one word– in response to Dr. Burdette’s analysis of Frost’s article? Sorta kinda revealing, don’t you think? Instead, he falsely calls me a liar. Well, I did not lie, and Dr. Burdette did not lie. That is a slanderous and false charge being made to cover up the reality that Frost cannot answer what Burdette– or I– have said.

So, here you go again, Sam Frost, demanding that I produce given specific words such as “planet earth.” Where are you getting your hermeneutic, Sam Frost?

Tell us, Sam Frost what was your reference to “all these things”? Was it not the view that was larger than Jerusalem, larger than the temple complex? Was it not reference to the material creation, the physical creation? I will help you out on that below.

You are playing games in your desperation, because you know that what I posted in our exchange destroys your claims, and that what Dr. Dallas Burdette has said destroys them. Grasping at straws, trying to build a straw man. Any honest person can see right through it.

So, to cut to the chase– What precisely did Jesus refer to when he said “do you see all of these things”
Was it the Temple? You deny this.
Was it the Temple complex? You deny this.
Was it Jerusalem? You deny this.
Was it the horizon and blue skies as far as the eye could see? Ah! if so, then it was referent to “planet earth”– right??? If not, why not?

Let me help you out here. This is what you said:
“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.” Silence. They leave the temple mount, eastward, and cross the Kidron Valley, then up the slope of the Mount of Olives. There, over looking the city, as far as the eye could see in the background of the western horizon and blue skies, Jesus says, “Do you see all of this?” Not just the temple, nor its buildings. “Do you not see all of these things?” It would have been a breathtaking view, as it is today. “Not one stone will be left on another stone. All these things will be leveled.”  (My emphasis, DKP).

So, don’t try to dodge, evade, obfuscate and build a straw man. You said that “all these things” referred to “the background of the western horizon and blue skies, Jesus says, “Do you see all of these things?” Not just the temple, nor its buildings.”

So, Sam Frost, did the western horizon, and the blue skies comprise “all these things” after all? If you stand by your own words, then it matters not if you used the actual words “planet
earth” — because that is what is conveyed by your own words.

If in fact the “western horizon and the blue skies” were what Jesus was referring to, then all of your arm flailing will not deliver you from the fact that you were were claiming that Jesus was predicting the destruction of “planet earth.”//

I should note also that I repeated my questions to Frost for him to very specifically define what he meant by “all these things” and to clarify whether or not they included the Temple, the temple complex, and the city. Keep in mind that he had emphatically stated that “all these things did NOT refer to just the temple and the temple buildings, but when I pressed him, he just once again called me a liar.

With this information, let me offer now the second installment of Dr. Burdettes’ response to Frost’s claims about the Olivet Discourse:

This study is not written to condemn Sam Frost, but it is written to interpret the Scriptures in light of its own context. In my response, it is necessary to examine the context to see if the author follows the basic rules of interpretation. Unfortunately, Sam Frost fails to apply sound hermeneutical principles as he approaches this particular text. One’s interpretation is often flavored by one’s agenda as he or she approaches the text. Scholars are human beings; they are subject to the same temptations that all Christians in general are confronted with as they seek to understand God’s Word based upon the context. It is not uncommon for Christians, as a whole, to interpret the Scriptures based on their denominational background or from a failure to interpret the Scriptures in light of the original author’s context. Osborne understood that the demonstrative pronoun used in 24:2 and 24:3 pointed to Israel destruction.

This is also true with R. C. H. Lenski’s[1] commentary on these three verses. Even though he was an excellent scholar, he still did not fully understand that Jesus was not addressing the end of Planet Earth at some point in the future. Yet, he correctly applied the demonstrative pronoun to what Jesus alluded to in both verses, though spoken at different times. He pens the following words about this demonstrative pronoun in 24:3: “By ταῦτα [tauta, “these things”] they refer to the destruction of the Temple (v. 2).[2] Lenski points out that the demonstrative pronoun in 24:3 is a reference back to 24:2, which had been addressed earlier as Jesus and His disciples left the Temple complex. It appears that Leon Morris,[3] too, understood a time-differentiation between 24:1-2 and 24:3. He sums up the matter very well:

  1. Evidently nothing more was said at the temple, and the little band went on their way to the Mount of Olives. Both Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus was seated on that mountain, the posture of a teacher, and Mark adds that they were opposite the temple. Doubtless the view helped them remember the strange words that Jesus had said, and the disciples pursued the matter (Mark particularizes with Peter, James, John, and Andrew; we are probably not being unfair to the other eight if we say that the subject was taken up by the leading disciples). Both Evangelists indicate that this was done privately; this was not a subject for public teaching. Had Jesus taught such things publicly there might well have been a furor, but for the disciples it was important in later years to remember that Jesus had prophesied the destruction of the temple forty years or so before it occurred. They asked specifically for two pieces of information: the time when all this would happen, and what the sign of your coming10 and of the consummation of the age11 would be. It would seem that the disciples thought that the two were to be closely connected.12 The form of their question indicates that Jesus had spoken more about eschatology than is recorded. There is nothing to be surprised at in this, for it was an age when all sorts of speculations about the Last Things were in vogue and throughout his ministry Jesus said things that indicated an interest in the topic. He knew that he would not be with the disciples much longer; therefore he told them plainly about some significant eschatological happenings.[4] (Emphasis mine—bold and underlining)

Craig L. Blomberg,[5] too, justly differs from Sam Frost who does not distinguish time differences between 24:1-2 and 24:3. The first use of the “near” demonstrative pronoun had reference to the temple with its stones and buildings. Yet, in 24:3, the “near” demonstrative pronoun, once more, calls attention to what the disciples could see from the Mount of Olives the Temple, stones, and buildings, which would soon be destroyed (within thirty-seven years).  Blomberg pens the following comments:

24:1–3 As they leave the temple, Jesus’ followers continue to marvel at its grandeur (cf. Luke 21:5). Jesus immediately redirects their attention to its transience. He predicts what may have seemed inconceivable at the time—the greatest architectural wonder in the Middle East will one day be entirely razed. They continue east across the Kidron Valley and climb the slopes of the Mount of Olives, a site already resonant with apocalyptic overtones as the place of the Messiah’s coming to judge his enemies (Zech 14:4). Resting on the hillside, and probably looking down on the temple below, the disciples naturally question when such a catastrophe could occur. They ask a second question as well, about the sign that would herald the end of the age and Christ’s return, a question likely triggered by 23:39. Jesus will make clear that the destruction of the temple and the end of the age are two separate events, but probably the disciples do not yet recognize this (thus Mark 13:4), scarcely imagining that one could occur without the other. Hence for them the two questions are one and the same.37    [6]  (Emphasis mine—bold)

CONCLUSION

 Regrettably, Sam Frost has allowed his presuppositions about eschatology to run wild in his imagination. When he asserts that the “near” demonstrative pronoun in 24:2 and 24:3 do not refer to the stones and the buildings, but rather, to the destruction of the physical creation, he has miserably failed to read the context. From a host of biblical scholars, cited in this short review of Frost, I have illustrated that his interpretation of the demonstrative pronoun is erroneous. In conclusion, I cite another scholar, Stuart Weber,[7] who correctly observes the meaning of the demonstrative pronoun “these things”:

Just as the disciples had drawn Jesus’ attention to the temple buildings, so Jesus also drew their attention to them: Do you see all these things? It was as though he was saying, “Take one last good look, because you will not have much longer to see it.” As he had so many times before, Jesus alerted the disciples; to what he was about to say (I tell you the truth). Jesus’ wording emphasized the destruction of the temple. This emphasis is very obvious in the Greek text, which uses the strong negative ou me, and the strengthened verb kataluo, “to destroy.” That destruction by the Romans (a.d. 70) was so thorough that the precise location of the sanctuary is still unknown today in spite of exhaustive archaeological attempts to locate it.[8] (Emphasis mine—bold)

[1] R. C. H. Lenski (1864-1936): He was an excellent Greek student, and he interpreted the books of the New Testament with meticulous exegetical research while providing an original, literal translation of the text. With his conservative Lutheran perspective, he is unwavering in his high view of Scriptural authority, probing deeply and passionately arguing his conclusions masterfully. He was also a German-born, American-naturalized Lutheran pastor, scholar, and author who published a series of Lutheran New Testament Commentaries (12 volumes).

[2] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961), 928.

[3] Leon Morris (1914–2006) was a leading evangelical New Testament scholar. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in England. He was principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia, retiring in 1979. He then served as visiting professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

10 παρουσία [parousia] is found 4 times in Matthew (again in vv. 27, 37, and 39) and nowhere else in the Gospels. It signifies a “being present” and thus “coming.” It is used for the visit of an important person like a king (it is cited, e.g., from a papyrus that mentions a visit of King Mithridates, New Documents, 4, pp. 167–68), and it becomes the usual word in the Epistles for the “coming” of Jesus at the end of the age [AD 70]. The other Gospels have the question as to when “these things will be,” but only Matthew refers to Jesus’ coming. The brackets [] are mine—Burdette)

11 “The consummation of the age” is found 5 times in Matthew (see on 13:39).

12 In the best text there is one article to govern both your coming and the consummation of the age; they are parts of a connected whole.

[4] Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 596–597. The numbers 10, 11, and 12 are footnotes within the citation from Morris.

[5]Craig L. Bloomberg is distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, where he has been teaching since 1986. Blomberg earned degrees from Augustana College, Trinity Divinity School, and Aberdeen University in Scotland. He previously taught at Palm Beach Atlantic College and spent one year in Cambridge as a research fellow with Tyndale House. He has been on translation committees for the New Living Translation, English Standard Version, and the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Bloomberg is the author, coauthor, or co-editor of numerous books and more than 80 articles in journals or multi-author works. A recurring topic of interest in his writings is the historical reliability of the Scriptures, and he has also covered such diverse issues as wealth and poverty, hermeneutics, and women in ministry. His books include Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, 2nd ed., Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: James, A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis, Making Sense of the New Testament, Preaching the Parables, and The NIV Application Commentary: 1 Corinthians.

37 Contra J. F. Walvoord (Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come [Chicago: Moody, 1974], 182), there are not three questions here. “The sign of your coming and of the end of the age” in Greek reads, more literally, the sign of your coming and end of the age. By not repeating the definite article (“the”) before “end of the age,” Matthew’s rendering of Jesus’ words is most likely linking the coming of Christ and the end of the age together as one event (Granville Sharp’s rule).

[6] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 352–353. (Footnote number 37 is a footnote within this citation). See pages 1-2, in this essay, for a description of the Mount of Olives.

[7] Stuart K. Weber is senior pastor of Good Shepherd Community Church near Gresham, Oregon. Dr. Weber attended Wheaton College (B.A.) and Western Conservative Baptist Seminary (M.Div.; D.D.), where he served as assistant to the president. He is a much-in-demand international speaker and the author of Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart, Tender Warrior, and Along the Road to Manhood.

[8] Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 395.

For an in-depth exegesis of the Olivet Discourse, be sure to get a copy of my We Shall Meet Him In The Air: The Wedding of the King of kings..

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