Tuesday, August 28, 2012



Matthew 24:15-28
Mark 13:14-20


It is the midway point of the tribulation that is now the focus of the Olivet Discourse. The event that signals the midpoint is the “abomination of desolation.”  The phrase is made up of two words: First, is the Greek word bdelugma, denoting “a subject of abhorrence,”[1] an abomination that is detestable to God. Second, is the Greek word eremois is used in the sense of making desolate. The abomination of desolation is “a substitute name or byname for a detestable and idolatrous action or image”[2] that desecrates the Temple. Idol worship has always been, and still is, abominable to God (Ezekiel 5:9, 11; 6:9).

The prophet Daniel refers to the abomination of desolation three times (Daniel 9:27; 11:1; 12:11) from which we learn:

·         The event occurs in the middle of the Seventieth Week of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:27).

·         A person is involved (called “the prince of the people”), who will establish and confirm a covenant with the nation Israel, and then break it by this act of abomination (Daniel 7:26-27). A careful student will deduce how things from this verse in relation to its fulfillment: First, the temple must be rebuilt before or during the tribulation period. It is apparent that this act is committed in the temple, therefore, it must be standing. Second, is the exercise of Levitical practice must be reinstated, as evident from the fact of daily sacrifices. This abomination will take place it the sanctuary, and will profane it, making it desolate (Daniel 11:31). All this mades the rebuilding of the Temple necessary before these events occur.
One cannot find fulfillment of this in the events of 70 AD. The prophecy is not ambiguous. It depicts a covenant been Israel and the person involved. No such covenant existed in 70 AD; not with Rome, Titus, or Zealots of the time. The destruction of the temple in 70 AD can not be the fulfillment of this event.
Rumors of the rebuilding of the temple have sufficed from time to time since 1948. It has been told that all the elements to rebuild the temple are in place. But there are three major reasons why the temple has not been rebuilt. (1) The Dome of the Rock is on the grounds now, which is a sacred Islamic shrine. That is a major roadblock to overcome. (2) Modern Reformed Judaism sees no need for the temple. And (3) the belief of Orthodox Jews that the Messiah will come and rebuild the temple. This does not mean there is no movement to rebuild the temple. However, this group is not yet a majority in Israel. However, the temple Institute, an organization dedicated to seeing things are in place to rebuild the temple, is alive and working.

·         The abomination is “set up” in the sanctuary of the temple (Daniel 12:11). These words suggest an image of some type. It will no doubt be the image of the beast referred to in Revelation 13:14. This is the abomination of desolation.

·         The abomination will last 1290 days. The time reference causes some problems that must be dealt with. In this chapter of Daniel we have another time reference of “a time, times, and half a time” It is generally agreed that the time referred to in this phrase is equal to 1260 days, or 42 months, or three and one half years. This is in contrast to the 1290 days in Daniel 12:11. In Daniel 12:12 we are told blessed are tohose who can wait 1335 days, which is 75 days longer than the 1260 days. So we have three figures 1260; 1290 (30 days longer); and 1335 days (75 days longer from the 1260).
How do we make sense of the differences in time? Most Bible students account for the differences after the 1260 days of the great tribulation. Feinberg states this view, saying the extra days: “…may have been included as the time needed by the Lord Jesus Christ to purge ‘out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness’ (Matthew 13:41). The visible coming of the Lord, however, will occur at the end of the 1260 days of the great tribulation (Matthew 24:29-30; Mark 12:14-16).[3]
It is conceivable, however, some of these days extra days could be placed in the middle of the tribulation. The term “middle of the week” in Daniel 9:27 is not specific. In other words, the beginning of the abomination may begin before the exact numerical midway point in the tribulation. This may account for the extra 30 days mentioned, since the text clearly says this time begins “from the time the regular sacrifice is abolished.” This is the “terminus a quo” for the 1290 days. The number suggests the number of days the abomination of desolation is “set up.” It is hard to imagine the image standing for 30 days after the coming of Christ. Because so little information is revealed to us. A dogmatic determination is hard to make.
As for the 1335 days, one will observe that there is no “terminus a quo” mentioned in the passage. It implies 45 days beyond the 1290. If the 30 days beyond the 1260 are before its beginning, the additional 45 days seem to fit well at the end of the period, for it is a reference to waiting. Feinberg suggests they could end in the celebration of the first millennial Feast of Booths mentioned in Zechariah 14:16-21, but “this cannot be proved with certainty.”[4] The only thing that can be said with certainty is our uncertainty about what these extra days stand for, or what take place during these days.


There can be little question that the abomination of desolation for Christ and Daniel is the same event. Some try to find fulfillment of this event in history, but have fallen short. One is hard pressed to find fulfillment of this event in history. Nothing comes near it, not even the destruction of the city and temple in 70 AD. The key to correct interpretation is not seen in the events as much as the person involved. In Daniel 9:7 the “he” is the antecedent of the “prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:26). In Mark 13:14 the masculine participle personifies the abomination into some concrete figure, an actual person. This person will set himself up as god in the temple. Paul calls this person the “man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).


Attempts have been made to identify this person historically. One attempt was Antiochus Epiphanes. It is based on Daniel 11:31, which is a reference to the contamination of the temple. History does record the fact that Antiochus did erect something in the precincts of the temple. Some say it was a pagan altar upon which swine was offered. Others say it was an image of Zeus in the image of Antiochus. Certainly this is a historical picture or foreshadowing of the prince that shall come, but clearly is not a fulfillment of what Christ is teaching in this discourse. There are two main reasons for this: First, the words of the discourse take the prophecy out of the realm of past history and place it into the future. Both Matthew and Mark clearly present this person as coming in the future. The words, “when therefore ye see” (Matthew 24:15) point forward to the event or person, not back to a person in history. Second, the context tells us that “immediately after the tribulation of those days” will be the second coming of Christ. Antiochus in no way comes close to the first coming of Christ, let alone the second. One cannot find fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse in history.


The next candidate presented as fulfilling this prophecy is Titus, the Roman general that destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. At the time the Romans “did offer heathen sacrifices to their ensigns, placed by the eastern gate, when they proclaimed Titus Emperor.”[5] This hardly fulfills prophecy in this discourse for several reasons:

  • There is a question about Titus’s responsibility in the burning of the temple. Gary Cohen tells us:
    “It cannot even be shown that Titus was responsible for the burning of the temple since it was not known whether the timbers of the structure were set on fire by the Romans or by frenzied Jewish zealots who did not want that holy place to fall into Gentile hands.
    “Even, however, if it could be shown that Titus personally set fire to the temple (which, of course, he did not), such destruction would not constitute the abomination of desolation described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 which centers about the blasphemy of a person establishing himself in the Temple to receive worship as God.”[6]
  • The temple sacrifices were not stopped by Titus, but the Jews.
  • No covenant was made with Titus or Vespasian before this time. There was no covenant broken in or around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem.
  • There is not instead flight from Jerusalem in 70 AD. Buswell tells us that “Josephus…describes how Titus had built a wall completely around the city and had it guarded with extreme care…so all hope of escaping was now cut off…”[7]
  • There was no fulfillment of the second coming of Christ in 70 AD. The statement of Colin Brown about the coming refers to an “allusion of Jesus’ ascent to the Father and the accession of authority”[8] simply does not do justice to the context nor the natural understanding of the statement.

The only conclusion, in the light of the evidence, is that the person of Titus and the events of 70 AD may be a foreshadowing of the future tribulation, but not the fulfillment of the prophecy given by Christ upon the Mount of Olives. This prophecy to be fulfilled, four precise conditions must be active at the time: (1) Israel must be in the land as a nation. Since 1948 this has been a reality. (2) Israel must have some degree of control of Jerusalem. This became a reality in 1967. (3) The temple must be rebuilt and the Levitical system must be reinstituted. (4) The church must be raptured. According to Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the restrainer must be taken out of the way. The restrainer the church and the Holy Spirit working in and through the church. Points 3 and 4 are still future. While we may be nearer of this event than ever before, we are not there yet. The fulfillment is still future. When the abomination of desolation occurs, it will inaugurate the time of the great tribulation, one like the world has never seen

[1]  W. FORESTER, “Bdelyssomal, bdelygme, bdelyktos,” TDTNT, 103.
[2]  W.C. Kalser Jr, “Desolating Sacrilege” ISBE, 1:831. 
[3]  Charles Lee Feinberg, DANIEL: THE MAN AND HIS VISIONS, 186-187.
[4]  Ibid, 187.
[5]  J.W. Shepard, THE CHRIST OF THE GOSPELS, 517.
[6]  Gary G. Cohen, “Is the Abomination of Desolation Past?” MOODY MONTHLY, April 1975, 33.
[7]  J. Oliver Buswell, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, 2:403.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sadler on PRAYER

In his commentary of Ephesians, Paul Sadler reminds us:

"As believers in Christ we should be the most graceful people on the face of the earth. The apostle not only instructs us to pray and be thankful for all things, we are also to watch in prayer. "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving" (Col. 4:2). We are to "continue in prayer," that is, cling hard to it, persevered in taking all things to the ghrone of grace. Paul's primary intercession for the saints usually centered around spiritual things. However, he also place a great deal of emphasis upon their physical needs, as seen in his prayers for earthly rulers (1 Tim. 2:1-2); gratitude for daily meals (1 Tim. 4:3-5); deliverance from prison (Phil. 1:19-20); journeys' mercies (Rom. 1:7-10).

Paul Salder, EPHESIANS, 67



Matthew 24:15-28
Mark 13:14-20

Understand this section of the discourse is vital for the understanding of the truth concerning the end of the age. It must be dealt with squarely and honestly. The tendency is to explain away the details of this section. Simply to discount this text as historical, as Albright and Mann do, saying: “this section is composed of sayings which have direct bearing on the impending fate of Jerusalem” that came to pass in 70 AD[1] Such a limited view cannot be justified. First, because it “involves neglect of the particular exegesis of the passage as there is nothing in history that really corresponds to what is here described.” [2]  Second, the context shows that these events bring in the period known as the Great Tribulation. The Biblical concept of the Great Tribulation can in no way describe or be confined to be destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Third, the language of the discourse declares that “immediately” afterward Messiah would come in the clouds. Nothing in 70 AD can come close to fulfillment. The only reasonable conclusion is that this portion of the text refers beyond the historical events of 70 AD, and looks to the future for complete fulfillment.


The first half of the tribulation period is identified by Christ as the “beginning of sorrows.” Now, Christ identifies the second half as the “the great tribulation” (Matt. 24:12). The Greek word for tribulation is thlipsis which means a pressing together; pressure in a physical sense, thus to oppress or afflict. It is modified by the term megas, meaning great in intensity or degree. It is so intense that Christ declares that it is “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” The term could not apply to the events of the first century. History is full of incidents that have been worse than the events that happen in the destruction of the temple. The great tribulation is a specific time period in history that precedes Christ’s return to earth to set up His kingdom. John notes that it is so intense that multitudes will be put to death (cf. Revelation 7:14).


What Christ is revealing is not something new. The chronology of this prophecy is recorded by the prophet Daniel (9:24-27) in the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. Jesus plainly says there things were “spoken by Daniel the prophet” (Matt. 24:15). McClain comments: “In the prediction of the Seventy Weeks, we have the indispensable chronological key to all New Testament prophecy. Our Lord’s great prophetical discourse recorded in Matthew and Mark fixes the time of Israel’s final and greatest trouble definitely within the days of the Seventieth Week of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20).[3] So important is Daniel’s prophecy, that he goes on to say: “…apart from an understanding of the details of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel, all attempts to interpret New Testament prophecy, must fail in large measure.”[4]

Because the Lord calls special attention to Daniel, we must turn our attention to this portion of Scripture. The chronology of the Seventy Weeks has been well established. Daniel’s prophecy begins with the command to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:23). This came about when Artaxerxes decreed that Nehemiah could go and restore the city walls of Jerusalem. From that time until the coming of Messiah would be sixty-nine weeks. Sir Robert Anderson clearly and precisely calculated the time from Artaxerxes decree to the entry of Christ into Jerusalem as sixty-nine weeks of 7 years each.[5]

However, because Israel did not accept the king or the kingdom, the events of the Seventieth Week have been postponed, but not cancelled or fulfilled. In the period of deferral, God has introduced the dispensation of the Mystery or grace (Ephesians 3:1-10). This is also called by Paul as “the fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25). Upon completion of this dispensation, the church will be raptured to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Afterward, God will then activate the Seventieth Week of Daniel. The time of tribulation spoken of by Daniel and Christ in this discourse will take place. This future period will be initiated with the signing of a covenant by the nation Israel with “the prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:27). In the midst of that week, the abomination of desolations will occur. It is this event that inaugurates the time of the great tribulation.

Observe, since the week is seven years long, the middle of the week would be three-and-a-half years. Daniel refers to this as “a time and times and the dividing of time (Daniel 7:25, 10:7). Daniel’s three and one half years corresponds with the book of Revelation. There we find a period of three and one half years, or 1260 days, or 42 months referred to in Revelation 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5. Christ, in this prophecy from the mount, identifies this time as the “great tribulation.”

[1]  W.E. Albright and C.S. Mann, THE ANCHOR BIBLE: MATTHEW, 295.

[2]  John F. Walvoord, “Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, October 1971, 316.
[4]  Ibid, 7
[5]  Sir Robert Anderson, THE COMING PRINCE, 127-128.

Friday, August 17, 2012



Matthew 24:14   Mark 13:10

In the midst of tribulation and persecution will come the greatest time of evangelism in the history of the world. Mark says the gospel of the Kingdom “must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10). Matthew adds, “then the end shall come” (Matthew 24:14). The clear meaning is that before the end can come the Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached to all nations. Bible students disagree on when the gospel is preached to all the world. The main views are:


Many hold to a historical view that this has been fulfilled. The claim is that “the substantial fulfillment of this prediction is found in the missionary labors of the apostles.”[1] A.T. Roberson holds “that Paul in Colossians 1:6, 23 claims that the gospel has spread all over the world.”[2]

Does Colossians 1:6, 23 make a claim for fulfillment of the universal preaching of the gospel? No! Paul’s claim is to the universal appeal and scope of the gospel. That the gospel is bearing fruit in the world; not that the gospel has been preached in all the world. Part of the problem is in translation. The preposition is en, and is commonly translated “in” and not “to” (as in the KJV). It “signifies the location where the preaching takes place.”[3] The word creature would be more accurately translated “creation.” The best translation of the phrase should be “preached in all creation under heaven.” Paul is talking about the sphere of preaching, not that every creature was preached unto. Campbell notes: “To interpret and translate this to every creature is inconsistent with the known historical facts.”[4]


This view holds that the gospel of salvation is now being preached in all the world. The Church is fulfilling this prophecy. We could not agree more that the business of the Christ is to preach the gospel to the entire world. Today the gospel is being spread as never before. We praise God  for it, and pray that it continues. But, we do not hold that the church will fulfill this verse.

We reject this view, not because we believe that the church will not preach the gospel to the entire world, but because of the specific gospel message. The text clearly defines the gospel as the “Gospel of the Kingdom.”

The word gospel is the Greek noun evangelion, which originally “denoted a reward for good tidings; later, the idea of reward dropped, and the word stood for the good news itself.”[5] There are different good tidings or gospels revealed in Scriptures, and they do not always deal with the same thing. For example, the good news in 1 Kings 1:42 has to do with David being made King; it has nothing to do with salvation of the soul. A gospel may include salvation, but possess different ramifications of that salvation dispensationally. Baker points this out saying: “To be sure there is the “gospel of salvation (Ephesians 1:13) which is basic to all the other messages of God’s good news, but not all of God’s good news concerns salvation from sin. Some of the good news concerns what God has saved the sinner to, which might be called good news for the saint. Some of the good news concerns a particular program of God, such as the gospel of the kingdom, which is the good new that God is going to establish His kingdom in the earth.”[6]

Thus, the careful student of the Word must distinguish just what gospel the Lord is speaking about. The Discourse clearly identifies the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) as the subject, a gospel that is identified with the nation Israel, and not the Church.


The “gospel of the kingdom” is a very specific gospel that deals with Israel, their Messiah, and His Messianic kingdom. Its foundation is the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7). In this covenant, God established that from David’s seed one would come to establish His kingdom forever. In Daniel 2:44 we see that this kingdom will be set up on earth with a heavenly king. In fact, the phrases the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven have their origin in this verse. The God of heaven will establish His kingdom on earth. The “gospel of the kingdom” is the good news of the coming Millennial Kingdom where Christ will rule from the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. It was this gospel that Jesus preached and declared “at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17, 23; 9:35; Mark 1:4-5). It contained both a salvation message (repentance) and a prophetic message (the kingdom is at hand). It is this specific gospel that must be proclaimed to all the world before the end of the age.

“The “gospel of the kingdom” is not the gospel for the church the body of Christ. The hope of the Church is not an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom (1 Tim. 4:18; Phil. 3:20). We preach the gospel of Grace for the dispensation of Grace. While both gospels contain the elements of grace and salvation, they are not the same. Baker comments on the distinctions:

“There is grace in the gospel which relates especially to Israel, but God’s dealings with Israel are based upon covenant promises with Israel placed as Head over the gentiles (Deuteronomy 28:13). In the present dispensation, Israel’s covenant dealings have been set aside. Israel has fallen and has been cast away as enemies of the gospel (Romans 11:12, 15, 28). Now God is dealing with an alienated world of both Jews and Gentiles who have absolutely no claim upon God. God’s extension of salvation to such a world is completely upon the basis of grace. For this reason, the gospel of this dispensation is called the gospel of the grace of God, just as the dispensation is called the dispensation of the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2).”[7]

Our hope under the gospel of grace is not the fulfillment of the gospel of the kingdom and the Millennium. Our position and hope is heavenly (Ephesians 1:20), as is our citizenship (Philippians 1:20). The Church is caught up (raptured) into its heavenly kingdom (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17); then the continuation and fulfillment in the reign of Christ on earth in the Millennium. The preaching of the gospel of the kingdom will again be sounded out and find its fulfillment in the reign of Christ on earth in the Millennium.

In the book of Revelation we see some of the process of the gospel being preached to all the world. In Revelation 7 we see that the remnant of 144,000 Jews will be sealed (Revelation 7:4). Afterward, a great multitude is seen from “all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Revelation 9:4, 14:1). This is a technical formula expressing universality. It is believed by many that the multitude is the result of the 144,000, and that they are the evangelists that take the gospel to the whole word. Their ministry will start during the “beginning of sorrows” and continue through the “great tribulation” because of Divine protection. However, at best that is an inference, not a statement of Scripture. We do know that Scripture does say there will be angelic help in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to the word (Revelation 14:6-7). There will also be the ministry of the “two witnesses” (Revelation 11:3). All three groups will be used by God to accomplish the universal preaching of the gospel of the kingdom.

In the universal preaching we see three main elements of promised salvation in the Old Testament fulfilled. There will be the salvation of individual Israelites as seen in the 144,000 and the true remnant of Israel. There also will be individual Gentile salvation as seen by the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 60:15; Zechariah 8:23, 14:16). And there will be a national salvation of Israel at the coming of Christ (Romans 11:26-27). This indicates worldwide revival in the midst of tribulation. The “gospel of the kingdom” will be preached to every nation. “Then the end will come” says Matthew 24:14. In fact, the end will not come before these events take place. The gospel will be preached to all the world is a condition that is necessary before the end of the age. The end here is the end of the whole tribulation period, and the second coming of Christ, to set up His Kingdom on earth. 

[1] Henrich Meyer, THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, 412.
[2]  A.T. Robertson, WORD PICTURES, 1:375.
[3]  Peter T. O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 70.
[7]  Ibid, 328.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Exegesis is the fundament first step of exposition. The word exegesis is from the French meaning to explain or interpret. Webster gives the definition as to explaining or interpreting the text. That is really a simple definition. More precisely exegesis is defining words of the Biblical text in relation to rules of grammar in light, scope and tone of the original language of the text. After getting a feel for the text by reading it to grasp the context and tone of the passage, exegesis consist of certain steps:

The first step is word centered. It begins by understanding the original meaning of all the words contained in the passage. This is more than defining words; since words can have many meanings and various nuances, depending both on context and historical usage. It entails noting the primitive root and its meaning and development of usage to determine in which sense it is used in the context of the text.

The second step is grammar centered. Having knowledge of the meaning of the words, one must relate them to the laws of grammar. This will clarify how the word is used and give a clear nuance of its meaning. This means such things as tense and voice of the word. These laws of grammar give certain nuances that may not be seen in the English translation. For example suppose we read a translated passage that says “Let us do this.” Is this a one time act, or a continual act? If the Greek is in the present sense, it would have the sense of continual action. Thus it would have the idea of “Let us continually do this.” The nuance is not seen in the English translation, although the translation may be a correct word for word translation. When doing exegesis the laws of grammar are essential to grasp the intent of the writer.

The third step is historical background. Historical background is not always going to translate or effect translation of the passage. It may give understanding behind a translation and may supply additional information to assure proper translation of a passage.  Word meaning and grammar may take us only to a technical meaning. History and usage of the word takes us beyond the technical into the actual or historical.  Take for instance, the word paidagogos (Gal 3:24-25). The technical meaning and grammar simply gives us the meaning of child leader or conductor.  It is not until we see the historical usage of the word that gives us a better understanding. A paidagogos was usually a slave to whom boys in a family were committed and whose duty was to exercise watch care over the child in regard to their conduct and safety. They were not teachers precisely, but caregivers who attended to them in their daily lives and conveyed moral and manners to the child.[1] Although history does not give us a precise translation of the word it does give us understanding to how to convey the word into English. Thus, the idea of the word is given, not the precise meaning in English. Thus, it is translated tutor or custodian.

Exegesis must involve these three steps which are essential. Anything less is not exegesis.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


In "Applying the Old Testament Law Today" [Bib-Sac, March 2001], J. Daniel Hayes makes comments that are worth thinking about:

"The Law is tied to the Mosaic Covenant, which is integrally connected to Israel's life in the land and the conditional promises of blessing related to their living obediently in the land. Christians are not related to that land, nor are they related to the conditions for being blessed in the land. Also the Mosaic Covenant is obsolete, having been replaced by the New Covenant. Therefore the Mosaic Law, a critical component of the Old Covenant, is vot valid as law over believers in the church age."

Friday, August 10, 2012


Matthew 24:9-13; Mark 13:9, 11-13

The persecution revealed in Luke was “before” the destruction of the Temple. That persecution foreshadowed the future persecution revealed by Matthew and Mark. The future persecution takes place in the Tribulation period, the time of Jacob’s trouble, the seventieth week of Daniel.

Matthew writes in precise chronological language so that we may know the timing of the events. He does so in two ways. First, in the progression of terms used to show movement of thought. This progression is seen in the term tribulation. Notice that Matthew moves from “tribulation” (24:9, KJV “to be afflicted”), to “great tribulation” (24:21), to “after the tribulation” (24:29). This progression of thought falls naturally into the periods of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. Daniel saw the week as divided into two halves. The division is when the Antichrist breaks the covenant with Israel in the middle of the week. The terminology of the discourse suggests that Jesus was using Daniel’s prophecy as a point of reference for this discourse. Both Daniel and Jesus divide the week with the same event: the abomination of desolation (24:15). Matthew refers to the first half of the week as the “tribulation”; the last half of the week is referred to as the “great tribulation” (24:15-28); and then the events after the week by the phrase “after the tribulation” (24:29-31).

Second, besides chronological progression of thought, Matthew used the time word, “then” throughout the discourse (24:9, 10, 14, 16, 21, 23, 30, 40). The Greek word is toute. Matthew uses this word 90 times in his gospel, more that the rest of the New Testament writers combined. The word is “a demonstrative adverb of time, denoting at that time.”[1] The word then in verse 9 means simultaneously as the events that occur in verses 4-8. Matthew places this persecution with the beginning of sorrows. This presents a problem for those who believe that the Church age separates Matthew 24:8 and 9. They look upon Matthew 24:4-8 as historical, and verse 9 as future. However, the word “then” makes it difficult to hold such a view. The word does not mean after the beginning of sorrows, but at the same time or simultaneously with. Verse 9 cannot be projected into the second half of the tribulation. There is no sequence here, for this persecution will take place during the same time as the beginning of sorrows. And as we have seen, the beginning of sorrows refers to the first half of the tribulation period, and corresponds to the events of Revelation 6.


The believers during the beginning of sorrows will be delivered unto tribulation and persecution. Mark centers his text around the words “delivered up,” using the phrase three times (Mark 13:9, 11, 12). The phrase denotes persecution caused deliberately. This parallels the fifth seal of Revelation 6:9-11. During the first half of the tribulation there will be suffering and martyrdom for those who hold to the truth of God’s Word. It is wrong to think that suffering and martyrdom are limited to the last half of the Tribulation period. In the last half, known as the Great Tribulation, suffering will be greatly intensified (cf. Revelation 11:7-10; 13:7; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24). Suffering will occur in the first 3 ½ years.

This end time persecution is in complete harmony with the Old Testament prophets. Moses in Deuteronomy 4:30 declares that persecution in the latter days is one element that will cause His people to return to God. The expression “latter days” puts Moses and Jesus on the same ground. “The Prophet like unto Moses speaks to the beginnings of the same Tribulation,” points out Armerding.[2]

The cause of this persecution is the hatred of the believers by “all nations” (Matthew 24:9). This attitude will be universal in scope. It will not be limited to the Gentiles but their own brethren (unbelieving Israel) also will share that attitude, a fulfillment of Isaiah 66:5. Notice, this persecution will be religious and theological. The remnant will see persecution “on account of my name” (Matthew 24:9) says Jesus.

This attitude is seen even during this present dispensation. I am reminded of a story of a young Arab who converted to Christ from Islam. He was slain by his own relatives because of that conversion. Even among the Jews today, when a Jew is converted to Christ, his family considers him dead, even to the point they hold a funeral and puts an empty casket in the family plot with the person’s name on the headstone. Those believers will suffer the peril of religious persecution like none in history. There will be a great multitude who will give their lives for Christ (cf. Revelation 7:9, 13-14). Satan will unsuccessfully try to do away with God’s people by any means. Persecution will not destroy them, but strengthen their faithfulness and devotion to the Christ who died for them.


The peril of persecution will be accompanied by the peril of apostasy, for “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceived many” (Matthew 24:11). The term “false prophets” tell us that this is Jewish in nature. The Greek word is pseudoprophetes, and is used several times outside this discourse (Matthew 7:15; Luke 6:26; Acts 13:6; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1; Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). Each reference upholds the idea that the subject is Jewish false prophets. As a rule, Gaebelein is correct when stating: “The Jewish age has false prophets; the Christian age has false teachers.”[3] Commenting on 2 Peter 2:1, Bruce Ware observes: “Here false prophets are distinguished from pseudodidaskalos, “false teachers.” The implication is clear: False prophets were Israel’s trouble; false teachers are the church’s problem. Jesus’ use of the pesudoprophetes then, in the Olivet Discourse calls for a Jewish understanding of the term unless some contrary internal contextual evidence can be advanced to show that the word has taken on some different and rare meaning. Since there is no such evidence contextually, it is best to understand the word to refer to false prophets in Judaism.”[4]

During the tribulation there will be a great religious awakening among Israel. A revival of Jewish religious practices will be reinstituted. The Levitical system will again be activated. The temple will be rebuilt and standing, as evident by the presence of the sacrificial system when the Antichrist will end and set up his image in the Temple (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15). Yet, the revival will be centered in national apostasy, accompanied by false prophets.

As in all dispensations, believers will be vulnerable to deception and apostasy. Many will be deceived (Matthew 24:11). The Greek word is planasousin meaning to actively lead into error and seduce. They will purposely lead astray many with seductive promises and wonders, and tempt even the elect. Many will be seduced, even as today false teachers abound and lead astray.

Apostasy will multiply lawlessness (Matthew 24:12). “Doctrinal defection and laxity automatically entail moral defection and laxity” observes Lenski.[5] The word lawlessness is the Greek word anomia and can be translated iniquity. In the Greek version of the OT, the word is used with great frequency among the prophets (cf. Isaiah 24:20; Zephaniah 1:15). This character breeds cynicism—the waxing cold of love—even among those who profess to believe. When moral defection runs wild, man’s love waxes cold, and cynicism and meaninglessness result. Apathy and conformity will be the characteristics of the day. In that day there will be no great outcry about human rights of those who truly believe and are persecuted. There will be indifference to the plight of believers because of the world’s hatred and coldness. The world couldn’t care less. Out of this atmosphere will come the “man of lawlessness…the son of destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). 


Persecution produces persistence and endurance. Tribulation and lawlessness always produce great resolve and revival among the people of God. This will be true in the end times with the tribulation period. Endurance will be needed as never before and will be exhibited in the faithful. Jesus says of those who go into the tribulation, “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

This is a difficult passage for many. Many Godly men have omitted an exegesis of this verse in their commentaries. Of who do refer to the verse, there is much division among three major views:

  • The Historical View. This view holds that the verse means that those who endure to the end of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.[6] While this is a popular view, we reject it for two reasons: First, because the context is not the destruction of Jerusalem of 70 AD, but the persecution of believers in the end times. Second, because historically one cannot find a fulfillment with the destruction of the city and the Temple. The believers in the first century had abandoned the city long before the actual destruction. They did not endure the destruction, for they were absent from the city.
  • The Spiritual View. This view holds that believers who endure and believe until their death will be saved. Thus, the end is equated with death, and salvation is spiritual salvation. This view is found in two forms: First, removes it from its eschatological context and spiritualizes it to a text concerning our spiritual salvation. This is held mostly by those who do not believer in eternal security. Second, some keep it in context and say that those who endure to the end of their life during the tribulation will be saved. Both views equate endurance with reaching a spiritual salvation. A major difficulty is the view tends to hold that those who do not endure are not saved. It places salvation in the hands of man, and not God.
  • The Survivor View. This view holds that the promise of salvation is that of physical deliverance from the tribulation to enter into the kingdom. Walvoord says that this is a promise to those who “survive the tribulation and are still alive,” and “who will be saved, or delivered by Christ as His second coming.”[7]  The Old Testament commonly equates physical deliverance with salvation (cf. Genesis 11:12; Exodus 1:22, 14:30; Judges 6:14; 1 Samuel 11:13; Ezekiel 13:18). Physical salvation is a part of the Second Coming of Christ. Walvoord notes: “The salvation that is in view here is not salvation from the guilt of sin, but deliverance from persecution and threatened martyrdom. This is brought out for instance in Romans 11:26 where it declares that ‘…all Israel will be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.’ The deliverance is bodily deliverance of the persecuted at the second coming of Christ.”[8]

Those saints that endure the perils of end time persecution, apostasy, and cynicism will be delivered into the Kingdom at the second coming of Christ.

[2]  Carl Armerding, THE OLIVET DISCOURSE, 17.
[3]  Arno C. Gaebelein, MATTHEW, 484.
[4]  Bruce A. Ware, “Is the Church in View in Matthew 24-25?” BIB SAC, April 1981, 189.
[5]  R.C.H. Lenski, MATTHEW, 933.
[7]  John Walvoord, MATTHEW, 184.
[8]  John Walvoord, “Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End,” BIB-SAC, July 1971, 2:13.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thanks to Bible Study Carnival

The July posting of Bible Study Carnival included our series on the OLIVET DISCOURSE. A carnival is a way to give some recognition to people who are doing great work on their blog. Thanks Phil Long and the Carnival for the mention. We are honored. You can find this months Carnival at http://readingacts.wordpress.com/


Luke 21:24

Special attention is required of the phrase: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). In light of the events of the last 50 years, especially the Jewish possession of the city of Jerusalem since 1967, many have rushed to see fulfillment in this passage. However, Walvoord warned: “A superficial study of this passage would seem to indicate this is the case, and that now Israel is moving into a new phase of its long history. Careful students, acquainted with the history of interpretation of this verse, however, sense the danger of reaching too hasty a conclusion.”[1]

Interpretations of this verse have varied from being symbolic of Gentile spiritual prominence over the disbelieving failure of Israel, to the physical possession of the city as essential for the times to be in effect. Many conclude that the times of the Gentiles have ended. But is that the case? The answer centers upon three questions: First, what are the “the times of the Gentiles”? Second, what does “trampled underfoot” mean? Third, what event ends this time of the Gentiles? We will center our thoughts around these questions.


The phrase kairoi ethnon (“times of the Gentiles”) is only found in this passage in Luke. This makes it difficult to understand. When taken in context the phrase indicates the idea of Gentile supremacy and judgment. Tone of the passage indicates it is an allotted time of Gentile domination of the city.

Another phrase that is similar, but not identical, is used by Paul in Romans 11:25—“the fullness of the Gentiles.” Many feel it is related if not identical to the times of the Gentiles. Are the times of the Gentiles and the fullness of the Gentiles related? If so, how? A careful comparison and study shows that the natures of the two periods are different. The times of the Gentiles are political in nature, while the fullness of the Gentiles is spiritual. It is true that these two periods may overlap in time, but they are not identical.

The political domination of Jerusalem began in the days of the Babylonian kingdom when Jerusalem fell into the hands of that great Gentile kingdom. The event is recorded in 2 Kings 24:10-17. On March 15, 597 BC, Nebuchadnezzar marched into Jerusalem and took King Jehoiachin captive. It is at this point that the political overlording by Gentile powers began.

The prophet Daniel portrays the course of the times of the Gentiles in his prophecies. His prophecies especially handle the subject of Gentile domination and the chastisement of Israel. He gives two main prophecies that describe and speak to the course of the times of the Gentiles:

·         Daniel 2.

The figure of the great image speaks of the Gentile powers. It gives the details of who will have great domination over the world and Israel during the times of the Gentiles. Five great Gentile empires and powers are presented by the various elements of the image. It is generally acknowledged the gold represents the Babylonian empire; the silver, the Medo-Persian empire; the brass, the Grecian empire; the iron, the Roman empire; and the mixture of iron and clay as the revived Roman empire. Four of the five empires have already entered and exited the stage of history, although Phillips notes that the “Roman empire has actually lived on down through the centuries in the languages and laws of the West.”[2] The fifth empire is yet to appear. Attempts at revival of the old roman empire have all but failed thus far in history. Someday there will be “ten toes” (nations) that will eventually succeed in this revival. Ten nations will come to form a revival of the great Roman empire. Many look for revival to succeed by means of the European common market.

·         Daniel 7

This second prophecy covers the same kingdoms, only under the images of beasts. The nations are represented differently because of the viewpoints of the two chapters. Daniel 2 looks at the kingdom from a human viewpoint, while chapter 7 presents the divine viewpoint. Harry Bultema communicates this well, writing: “The heathen king saw everything from the human and terrestrial point of view, and for that reason the world was a striking image of mankind. Daniel considered the world in its striking image of mankind. Daniel considered the world in its essence and judged it moral quality and so saw it as wild and savage beasts. The heathen king saw in Christ nothing more than a dislodged rock rolling down the mountainside; Daniel saw him as the Son of Man, coming in majesty and glory.”[3]

In both passages, Daniel gives the times of the Gentiles a very precise beginning and ending. It began with the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar taking Jerusalem and will end with the second Coming of Christ in Glory (Daniel 2:44-45; 7:27). Thus, the time of the Gentiles is the time of Gentile political rule and influence over Jerusalem that will end when “the stone cut out without hands,” destroys that rule and influence.

The “fullness of the Gentiles” on the other hand, refers to the spiritual rule or influence given to the Gentiles by God over and apart from the nation Israel. Israel during this time is spiritually set aside. Before this time of fullness which will be during the time of the Gentiles, blessings will are to be received by and through the Jews (Esther 8:15-17). Even during the ministry of our Lord on earth, he declared that “salvation is of the Jews.” During this time the Gentiles were still strangers from the covenants and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12).

Today that is no longer the case. With the ministry of the Apostle Paul we see a turning of salvation away from the Jews unto the Gentiles (Acts 13:46; 28:28). This marks the beginning of Israel’s spiritual fall. It marks a time when salvation comes to the Gentiles, not by Israel’s rule as predicted in the Old Testament (Isaiah 2:3; 25:7; 60:1-3; Jeremiah 3:17; Zechariah 8:20ff), but by their spiritual fall (Romans 11:11) and partial blindness (Romans 11:25). Dwight Pentecost perceptively notes that, “this blindness is a mystery which shows that it is a kind of blindness hitherto unrevealed. Therefore it must be distinguished from both the spiritual blindness, which was the experience of Israel as children of Adam and therefore under the curse of sin, and from willful blindness, which was Israel’s experience in sinning against revealed light. This is a new form of blindness, not hitherto experienced by men. It was the divine visitation of Israel by God because of the national sin of rejecting the Messiah.”[4]

The nature of this blindness is seen in the Greek word porosis. It means to cover, a callus. It suggests that Israel had a callus over their eyes so they could not and cannot see the truth of the gospel as a nation or people. It is partial, showing that it is not individual, for an individual Jew may still come to understand the gospel and be saved. It does suggest that national repentance and salvation is not possible during this time.

This is part of what Paul identifies as the “dispensation of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9). The apostle defines the characteristics of this mystery as Gentiles being “fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). The fullness of the Gentiles is the unique combination of the political and spiritual downfall of the nation Israel that has produced a fullness of spiritual riches and inheritance to the Gentiles, not through the fullness of Israel, but through the Church. It involves the times of the Gentiles, in that it happens within that period, but in and of itself was a mystery until revealed to and through Paul for this present dispensation. The two phrases do not refer to the same thing.


Because of the 1967 war when Jerusalem for the first time in centuries was again under the control of the nation Israel, some have looked upon that as a partial, if not complete, fulfillment of times of the Gentiles. In the light of those events, one must take a look at these words carefully.

The phrase “trampled under foot” is only one word in the Greek text, a present passive participle of pateo. It is transitive meaning to tread underfoot. Thayer says it denotes “to treat with insult and contempt.”[5] Seesemann says that in the Old Testament when the word is used, it means to disparage, it implies arrogance.[6] In Revelation 19:20 it is used figuratively of God and denotes judgment.

The word therefore does not need to be taken as actual physical occupation, but must at least speak of influence and domination of some type. There can be no question that today Jerusalem continues to be greatly influenced by the West, and dominated by its Gentile contempt and arrogance. If it were not for Gentile support and assistance of the West, the city would not be in the hands of Israel today. It is a divided city nationally, and still experiences the contempt and arrogance of much of the Gentile world.


Inherent in the phrase “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” is that this period will end and be terminated. The facts of political domination of the Gentiles will not only be the time is limited, but it will end with a degree of vindication. The formula in Luke is to immediately travel forward to when this time will be fulfilled—the return of Christ (Luke 21:25-28). Every prophecy related to the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles points to this great cosmic event (cf. Daniel 2:44-45; 7:26-27). The connection cannot be denied. The end of the times of the Gentiles and the second Coming of Christ are woven together in Scripture. In this light, we can say that this time has not yet ended. We are still living in this time frame.

Contemporary events are not to be construed as fulfillment. This does not mean that they are unimportant. The importance must be seen in the light of prophetic Scripture. Before the fulfillment can be complete, Israel must be in the land and possess the city. Prophecy takes that for granted. When the end comes, Israel will be a nation, have control of the city, and the temple will be standing (Revelation 11:1). It is when the temple is standing that the last treading under foot will occur. Revelation 11:2 says it will last 42 months. Contemporary events are setting the stage for the coming final events predicted in the Olivet discourse. Stage setting must not be confused with fulfillment. The play does not start until the stage has completely been set.

In conclusion there are three reasons the times of the Gentiles has not been fulfilled:

·         The times of the Gentiles are not complete for the Lord Jesus Christ has not returned. His coming ends this period.

·         The fullness of the Gentiles is present and has not been completed. The evidence of this is the presence of the Church and the lack of Israel’s conversion to Christ.

·         Prophecy of another treading of the city is predicted in Zechariah 12:3 and Revelation 11:2. Both passages are still to be fulfilled and speak of the future Tribulation period.

[1]  John F. Walvoord, “The Times of the Gentiles” BIBLOTHECA SACRA, January 1968, 3.
[2]  John Phillips, EXPLORING THE FUTURE, 33.
[3]  Harry Bultema, COMMENTARY ON DANIEL, 200.
[4]  J. Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, 302.
[6]  M. Seeseman, “Pateo,” THE DICTIONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, (Abridged), 804.