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how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

It’s not eschatology, folks, it’s just a story

I spent some time with the staff of a church in south London this week talking about “eschatology”. Which is half the problem. As long as we treat eschatology as a more or less independent sub-section of—or worse, appendix to—our general theology, we have no frame of reference, nowhere to anchor it. So my argument was that eschatology is simply an aspect or part of the story, just as soteriology and ecclesiology and pneumatology are not independent topics but ways of speaking about what is going on in a narrative. Take the arguments and beliefs out of the story and they have no real reason to exist.

To make the point, we went through the “apocalyptic discourse” in Mark 13 looking at how Jesus draws on the scriptures to tell a compelling story about the real and foreseeable future of first century Israel and to explain to his disciples what it will mean for them. Here I will do the same thing with Matthew 24, setting the passage in the context of Jesus’ final week in order to underline the point that this is not free-floating teaching on the end times. It arises directly out of the preceding events.

This is brief—don’t expect too much detail. The links will take the interested reader to more developed discussions.

Jesus’ denunciation of the leaders of Israel

At the beginning of the week, Jesus rides into Jerusalem (21:1-11) on behalf of an oppressed and afflicted minority in Israel, as a prophetic demonstration of his conviction that YHWH would give him—and them—victory over their enemies. The action in the temple is a denunciation of a priestly hierarchy that has made the temple “a den of robbers” and a prophecy of its impending destruction (21:18-19). Jesus curses the fruitless fig tree of Israel to the same effect (21:12-13).

The chief priests and elders of the people are like the son who said he would go to work in the vineyard and then didn’t (21:28-32). They are the wicked tenants who killed the servants and then the son, who will be put to a miserable death (21:33-41). They are the guests who can’t be bothered to come to the wedding, who kill the servants; and the king sends his troops, who “destroyed those murderers and burned their city” (22:1-10). Jesus makes the implicit claim to the Pharisees that he is the Son who will be seated at the right hand of God “until I put your enemies under your feet” (22:41-44). He will later say the same thing to Caiaphas at his trial (26:64).

We then have the long tirade against the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees in chapter 23, who have always persecuted and killed the servants that YHWH sends to them and will continue to do so. Punishment for these sins will come upon “this generation” (23:31-36). Jesus concludes with a lament over Jerusalem, the “city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it”—this is a recurrent motif. Their house will be left desolate (23:37-39). It is a house built on sand that will be washed away when the storm and flood comes (cf. Matt. 7:26-27).

So we can imagine that Matthew’s Jesus is angry and upset when he leaves the temple with his disciples—and no doubt some of Matthew’s anger shows through the telling of the story. This is what’s going on in his head. The disciples make some inane reference to the splendour of the buildings, and Jesus’ response is fierce: “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (24:2).

The war and what it will mean for the disciples

They cross the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, where the disciples as him privately, clearly concerned by his statement: “When will these things happen, and what will be the sign of your parousia and of the close of the age?” The discourse which follows is Jesus’ answer to that question.

1. He warns them not to be led astray in the build up to the war. The language is that of the prophets. Jeremiah, for example, describes the Babylonian invasion in similar terms: “behold, there comes a rumour of a noise and a great earthquake from a northern country, to appoint the cities of Judah for destruction” (Jer. 10:22 LXX; cf. Matt. 24:6-7). When the inhabitants of Jerusalem hear news of the approaching army, anguish takes hold of them, “pains (oidines) as of one giving birth” (Jer. 6:24 LXX; cf. Matt. 24:8).

2. The disciples can expect to be hated and persecuted. Confusion will be sown among them. Many will fall away. But those who endure to the end of this limited period of “tribulation” will be saved. That is, the community of disciples will survive, as a community, if they remain faithful. As Habakkuk says, when the wrath of God comes upon his people bringing terrible destruction, the righteous will survive by trusting in YHWH (Hab. 2:4). But before this end comes, the nations will have heard the “good news” that YHWH has raised his Son from the dead and given him the kingdom, authority to judge and rule. The gospel will be preached throughout the empire (en holē tē oikoumenē) before the end of the age of second temple Judaism—and Jesus will be with his disciples throughout this period (Matt. 28:20).

3. Jesus urges the disciples to flee Judea when the sort of story told in Daniel 11:29-35 begins to play out, culminating in the desolation of the temple by an unclean pagan power. The suffering will be worse than anything that the Jews had experienced before or would experience after (the Holocaust is beyond Jesus’ horizon). Josephus said of the war: “the misfortunes of all nations since the world began fall short of those of the Jews” (Jos. War Proem 4; cf. 6.9.4). But for the sake of the “elect” community of disciples, the period of suffering would be “cut short”. Josephus also tells us of the numerous self-appointed prophets and saviours who promised deliverance for the Jews during the course of the war.

4. There is no let-up in the story here. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days”, Matthew records, the “sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (cf. Joel 2:10, 30-32). This is standard apocalyptic imagery for earth-shattering political events. Then the “sign of the Son of Man” will appear in heaven, answering the disciples’ question, “what will be the sign of your parousia?” The tribes of the land (cf. Zech. 12:12) will “see” the fulfilment or extension of Daniel’s vision; they will see what Daniel “saw”—a figure like a son of man “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”. This is Jesus vindicated and glorified, coming for the sake of his followers. It is symbolic language, as it was for Daniel. He will send out his angels to gather his suffering elect, who have been proclaiming the good news of Israel’s salvation to the nations, from the four winds. This is not the ingathering of diaspora Jews at the restoration of Israel. It simply marks the end to the period of the persecution of the elect. It is their moment of salvation.

5. When will all this take place? At the end of this unfolding story of war, destruction and vindication. Jesus cannot say exactly when—not even he knows the day which the Father has fixed, when the vineyard will be wrested from the unrighteous leaders of his people and given to a people who will give him its fruits (24:36; cf. Acts 1:6-7). But it will be within a generation, within a lifetime. His disciples have to be prepared, or they too will be swept away in the devastation like those who were happily eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, only to be swept away in the flood.

The whole thing is Israel’s story. The prophecy is all about the task of the disciples, the impact that the impending political catastrophe will have upon them, and what will be demanded of them. The central point that Jesus makes—the climax to the narrative—is that if they remain faithful, if they endure to the end, they will be saved and vindicated. The same point is made in the parables and the judgment story of chapter 25. The Son of Man, who suffered and was vindicated, will come with the clouds of heaven (because that is what characterizes him as the figure of Daniel 7:13-14), at the end of the age of second temple Judaism, to rescue his elect, who also will have suffered in the hope of being vindicated.

Comments

Fine for the first part of Matt 24. But you appear to be ignoring the way that Matthew develops and revises Mark here. The single question in Mark 13.4 becomes a double question in Matt 24.3b, and the single account of war and destruction becomes a double account (suggesting Matthew was written after all these things had happened, Matt 24.34.

However, unlike Mark, Matthew then goes on with a whole series of teaching on another topic—not ‘this’ but ‘that’. It is about ‘that’ hour that the Son does not know. Whatever you think Jesus actually taught, Matthew seems clear that he is focussing on eschatology—Jesus’ final return. It’s not just a story, it is eschatology.

I think Dick France reads it just right…

Thanks, Ian. Perhaps I’m missing something, and I don’t have access to France’s commentary at the moment, but I don’t see how this argument works.

1. How significant is the difference between the disciples’ questions?

Mark

…when will these things be,

and what will be the sign

when all these things are about to be accomplished?

Matthew

…when will these things be,

and what will be the sign

of your coming

and of the end of the age?

Matthew makes a distinction between the parousia and the end of the age, but there is no reason to think that this is a temporal distinction. Moreover, Matthew’s “end of the age” (synteleias tou aiōnos) arguably corresponds to Mark’s “all things are about to be accomplished (synteleisthai), which would mean that Matthew has inserted the parousia before Mark’s completion of all things, not after it.

Also, in Mark the distinction between the coming of the Son of Man and the end of the age, which is presumably indicated by the passing away of “this generation” and which is perhaps metaphorically a passing away of heaven and earth (Mk. 13:30-31), is found in Jesus’ teaching, even if it is not in the disciples’ question.

2. I don’t see how Matthew has a double account. The sequence of events/sayings in Mark 13:24-32 and Matthew 24:29-36 is identical. What am I missing?

3. Where is the distinction between “this” and “that”? Both Mark and Matthew have a reference to “those days” (referring to the period of tribulation) and “that hour and day” (referring to the moment when the “flood” comes upon Israel). It seems to me that these are not two temporally remote events but two ways of speaking about the same event.

4. Why is Matthew 24:37-25:46 “teaching on another topic”? It looks to me simply to be an expansion of Mark’s brief parable about a man who goes on a journey, leaving his servants in charge. We have a judgment of the nations, but that is still focused on the fate of the disciples. The period leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem is also the period when the Son of Man is away receiving a kingdom. Immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem the Son of Man “comes” to judge his servants and deliver those who have been faithful from their enemies.

I think some of the following comments have put the case, but in response to yours:

Matthew makes a distinction between the parousia and the end of the age, but there is no reason to think that this is a temporal distinction

No reason? Well, only if you don’t want it to be there! If you read the differences here along with the way that Matthew considerably expands the second part of Mark’s account, into what has now become the second (half of the) question, I think there is every reason.

Moreover, Matthew’s “end of the age” (synteleias tou aiōnos) arguably corresponds to Mark’s “all things are about to be accomplished (synteleisthai), which would mean that Matthew has inserted the parousia before Mark’s completion of all things, not after it.

Well, it might correspond…if it weren’t for the fact that Matthew is here introducing a new phrase. I am really unclear on what exegetical grounds you might collapse this new, eschatological concept back into a quite different phrase in Mark.

I think I would counsel anyone writing on this text, on this subject, not to do so without consulting what must be the foremost evangelical commentator of his generation, and one who has not only written substantial commentatory on it, but was also influential in shaping Tom Wright’s view on the subject.

Can lend you my copy next time you are in Nottingham!

Whooooa. Everything is different. I prefer this lighter colorset.

Reading Mark 13 and Matthew 24 is influenced by the way you read the rest of the story: how things turned out in history. I agree with much that you say (Andrew), but also I think that some aspects of your reading lead into cul de sacs which need more careful investigation.

Mark 13 clearly describes events up to AD 70 in 1-23. It also describes an expectation of the physical reappearance of Jesus - 21-22, which is also part of the story. This would not take place yet, according to Jesus. The “But” of v.24 is the decisive form of the word, emphasizing a strong contrast. Instead of the reappearance of Jesus, there will be upheaval. The apocalyptic imagery of the description in vs 24-25, akin to apocalyptic language describing the end of cities and empires in the OT, does suggest cosmic sigificance. Vs. 26-27 then describe a contrasting development which will take place, which links the present day to these events.

Matthew 24 repeats the general sequence of thought, with v.29 corresponding to v.24 of Mark (instead of Mark’s “But in those days following that distress” there is “Immediately after the distress”). There will be no let-up in the disturbances to come, but we are now in events following on from those days. “At that time” in both Mark (v.26) and Matthew (v.30) has a new referent, slightly moved on from its use in Matthew 24:10 or Mark 13:21. This will be characterised by “the sign of the son of man … in the sky” (Matthew 24:30), and the mourning of “all nations of the earth”, or “all tribes of the land”; it doesn’t matter which way you read it, but a worldwide framework is clearly coming in the rest of the verse, and in the following verse 31 of Matthew, which is echoed in Mark 13:27.

So what is “the sign of the son of man in the sky” in Matthew? Clearly something which has universal significance, as reflected in the corresponding consequences in v.31 of Matthew and v.27 of Mark: the earthly ingathering of all those everywhere who are to be followers of the Messiah, which in the story includes gentiles as well as Jews. These are the “elect”, gathered “from the four winds, from one end of the earth to the other”, throughout time, not simply in the 1st century.

How then do we accommodate v.34 in Matthew and v.30 in Mark (“this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened”)? By “this generation” Jesus is addressing Jews in his own age. They will still be alive when these things happen. To accommodate vs. 29-31 of Matthew (24-27 of Mark), a meaning will have to be supplied which shoehorns everything into the 1st century - presumably up to AD 70. But a reading which takes us beyond the immediacy of the 1st century would look as follows: the success of the worldwide spread of the gospel is emphasized: a universal sign of the son of man in the sky. The effect this has on the nations is their mourning over the downfall of their supposed power and prestige, which could equally apply to tribes of the land, but the context indicates a widening of the frame: the worldwide gathering of the elect through apostolic messengers, “angels” in the language of apocalyptic.

“This generation” would see these things already in progress at the time of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. We are also given a glimpse into the eventual future outcome by the force of the apocalyptic language. Jesus’s “coming” (parousia) in Matthew 30 is prefigured in the worldwide success of the gospel, despite opposition, which would already be “seen” in AD 70. The destruction of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem would be a vindication of Jesus’s prophecy in Mark 13 and Matthew 24, but were part of a much bigger picture which both gospels describe. To limit the significance of the two accounts, particularly at the key verses and following in both, is to my mind the beginning of one of the cul de sacs mentioned above, which eventually distorts the narrative in Andrew’s version of it.

“At that time” in both Mark (v.26) and Matthew (v.30) has a new referent, slightly moved on from its use in Matthew 24:10 or Mark 13:21.

Matthew has “then” (tote) twice in verse 30. So we have: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days (tōn hēmerōn ekeinōn)… then will appear… then all the tribes….” There is no change of referent, simply a sequence of events. Stuff will happen in the heavens… then the sign of the Son of Man will appear… then all the tribes of the land will mourn…. Nothing in the passage points to a different time frame.

Mark likewise has tote. He also has it in verse 27 (Matthew doesn’t). Are you suggesting that Mark thought that the sending out of the angels would also happen at a different time? We are currently in Berlin. If I said yesterday (emphatically) we went to Brandenburg Gate, then we went to the Bundestag, then we visited the Gemäldegalerie, then we had dinner with friends, I do not mean that these all happened at significantly different times. I mean they happened one after another on the same day.

…it doesn’t matter which way you read it, but a worldwide framework is clearly coming in the rest of the verse, and in the following verse 31 of Matthew, which is echoed in Mark 13:27.

There is certainly an “empire-wide” reach to these verses. Jesus has sent his disciples out into the oikoumenē to proclaim the good news about what God is doing in Israel in this coming generation (Matt. 24:14). Therefore, in order to bring their mission and their suffering to an end (“and then will come the end”) he must send out his angels to the four winds, etc. The angels have to go as far as the disciples went.

But a reading which takes us beyond the immediacy of the 1st century would look as follows: the success of the worldwide spread of the gospel is emphasised…

This sounds like a modern assumption about what the “gospel” is. The “gospel” Jesus has in mind is the “political” good news that YHWH is about to judge and restore his people—the coming of the kingdom of God. This needs to be told only to the nations which will witness it and, presumably, be impacted by it. Matthew limits this whole thing to the oikoumenē. The end of second temple Judaism, and the end of the disciples’  suffering, will come only once this has happened.

So I disagree that the “sign” of the Son of Man must be given universal significance in the sense you appear to think. There is nothing in Jesus’ story about the ingathering of Gentiles along with Jews. The reference is consistently to the elect group of disciples which he has sent out. Gentiles are judged and those who have tended to the needs of the suffering disciples will be included in the kingdom (25:31-46). But this is a different argument—it is not hinted at in Matthew 24.

“This generation” would see these things already in progress at the time of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple.

Jesus doesn’t say that this generation will see the beginning of all these things taking place. He says that all these things, including the vindication of the persecuted disciples, will take place within a generation.

It could be argued that the judgment of the sheep and goats refers to the judgment on Rome, or perhaps an aspect of it touching upon the immediate theme of the vindication of the disciples. In the big picture I wouldn’t have a problem with that. But we would then have to suppose that Jesus expected judgment on Rome to follow directly on the events of AD 70, at the coming of the Son of Man, still within a generation.

In Mark and Matthew we are looking at a sequence of events, not things that happened on the same day, as in your comparison with a day in Berlin. I may have over-emphasized this by suggesting “At that time” has a change of referent in its second use, but it doesn’t really change the point at issue. The cosmic disturbance imagery and sign in the sky take place after the temple destruction, just as the list of calamities and coming of false Christs takes place before. I’m not suggesting there is a huge gap, but that these are events which follow, and do not take place at the same time.

I do suggest, however, that sending out of the angels to gather the elect, in conjunction with the Matthew 28:19 commission, does have application beyond the Roman Empire. This was taking place within a time-frame when the gospel was understood to be much more than “the “political” good news that YHWH is about to judge and restore his people—the coming of the kingdom of God” which “needs to be told only to the nations which will witness it and, presumably, be impacted by it”. During this period, until the time of Anselm, the death of Jesus on the cross and the resurrection from the dead were understood to be the victory of Jesus over all kinds of evil in which the human race was held captive. Missionaries went to India, and later China, and as far as Japan. Is this a “modern” reading of the gospel? Where is the notion that they were the bearers only of a political gospel about the downfall of Rome?

It’s very odd to say that Matthew 24:31 (sending out the angels) is “in order to bring their (the disciples’) mission and their suffering to an end”. Suffering continued without respite to the 4th century in Rome, and then switching sides, the imperial church took over the role of Rome in persecuting believers until much more recent times.

I do suggest, however, that sending out of the angels to gather the elect, in conjunction with the Matthew 28:19 commission, does have application beyond the Roman Empire.

I don’t see how you can say this when Jesus makes the sending out of his angels part of the sequence of events that directly follow on the destruction of Jerusalem—see Dick France’s commentary for a clear and commendable statement of this point. The tribes of the land will see the vindicated Son of Man coming with power and great glory to deliver his followers. The narrative carries straight on: “and he will send out his angels….” All of this will take place within a generation. It’s not beyond the Roman Empire. It’s not even part of the judgment on Rome—that is pretty much beyond Jesus’ horizon (Matt. 25:31-46 possibly excepted). It is part of the Jerusalem event—a judgment and redemption of God’s people comparable to the crisis described in Daniel 7:13-27 and 12:1-7. You are overlooking the fact that the mission of the disciples in Matthew 24 (and therefore also in Matthew 28:20) is framed by the narrative of the destruction of Jerusalem. The gospel of the kingdom is preached throughout the oikoumenē, and then the “end” will come. All within a generation.

Yes, the sending out of the angels in Matthew 24 is “part of the sequence of events that directly follow on the destruction of Jerusalem”. I’ve already been saying that. What I have also said is that in this, Jesus is looking beyond an immediate time-frame, which is what most commentators have been saying (Dick Frances perhaps excepted).

Apocalyptic is not quite the same as historical description; it is allusive, suggestive, and provocative. Nevertheless, in the description of the angels being sent to the four winds, ends of the heavens, end of the earth etc (Mark/Matthew), something is emerging which goes beyond the immediate historical story (the gathering of Christians at Pella, or wherever).

You can say: this is just a poetic way of describing these events, which had huge consequences for those immediately involved (but not for most believers across the empire). Or you can say that Jesus is introducing a vision which looks beyond the immediate horizon. I think here, as at other points in the prophecy of Matthew 24, Jesus is doing the latter.

What I have also said is that in this, Jesus is looking beyond an immediate time-frame….

Well, you say that, but there’s no basis for it in the text. Jesus doesn’t say, “And some time later he will send out his angels….” The Son of Man is seen coming on the clouds, etc., and he sends out his angels….

In Matthew 24:29-35 there are two very pronounced temporal markers, one at the beginning and one at the end: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days” and “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”. “All these things” includes the sending out of the angels, and the whole lot is tied to the destruction of temple.

We can’t make an exception for the sending out of the angels just because we would like to salvage some relevance for ourselves from a passage that goes out of its way to restrict matters to the destruction of the temple and its significance for the disciples.

In a previous comment you wrote that the great commission:

was taking place within a time-frame when the gospel was understood to be much more than “the “political” good news that YHWH is about to judge and restore his people—the coming of the kingdom of God”…

But again, that’s mere assertion. Where is the evidence that in this passage Jesus had in mind the preaching of the gospel beyond the destruction of the temple, let alone beyond the defeat of pagan Rome? Everything he says about the future is bounded temporally by the lifetime of his disciples or of the wicked generation that will suffer judgment. Everything. There are no temporal markers that push some event or fulfilment beyond this horizon.

We can’t make an exception … just because we would like to salvage some relevance for ourselves from a passage that goes out of its way to restrict matters to the destruction of the temple and its significance for the disciples.

Andrew… for as much as I’m in kind with much of your thinking this is what I find most perplexing – that you can’t seem to see, and I’d wonder if it was possibly because of the above, that the destruction of Jerusalem and the parousia are both together differing aspects or expressions of the one self-same event, i.e., the end of the old covenant age and the securing of all that was/is new.

Certainly beyond ‘the twelve’ Paul was indelibly linked with the world-wide witness, spread and mission of the gospel [Rom 1:8; 10:18; 16:26; Col 1:6, 23], but the disciples were hardly to have gone through the cities of Israel “before the Son of Man comes” Mt 10:23; which by the way is the same comes ἔλθη found in Mt 25:31, i.e., such is synonymous with the parousia, as I read it.

Just a thought.

I think that from Jesus’ perspective the destruction of Jerusalem and the parousia were aspects of the same “event”. Agreed. But by the same token I think we need to take the expanded horizon of the early church in the pagan world just as seriously. In scripture judgment on Israel is followed by judgment on Israel’s enemies—see Habakkuk, for example. Paul expected wrath against the Greek to follow wrath against the Jew. He expected Jesus to judge and rule over the nations. So it seems to me that when he speaks about the parousia and the rescue and vindication of churches, he associates it with this second, less sharply defined but not less important, horizon of judgment on Rome.

Andrew - I simply think your interpretation of the sending-out of the angels passage is implausible. The safe gathering in of the apostles by the angels and their relief from persecution did not take place at any time, let alone the time-frame you are proposing. Another meaning of the passage must be sought.

Also, I was not saying that there was a break in the narrative flow which might even mean “some time later”. I am simply saying there is a chronological sequence. The disasters which the prophecy describes at the time of the temple destruction lead to a contrasting development, which the angels passage describes, which in my opinion as well as the sense of the words points forward beyond a more limited time-frame.

I do think that in the Matthew passage, the precise meaning of “the end of the age” is not clear, and again I think your interpretation of “gospel” (as in “gospel of the kingdom) turns the meaning of “gospel” on its head. There was no “gospel” in the destruction of the temple. “The gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14) must mean something different from this. If the verse had said “judgment of the kingdom” it would have been a different picture.

Your interpretation of Matthew 24 as well as Mark 13 has a superficial unity of meaning, but I still don’t think it stands up once you start looking at the details.

There was no “gospel” in the destruction of the temple.

Why was it not “good news” that the righteous God of Israel would soon judge wickedness in the midst of his people? Have you not read Habakkuk? It’s not the whole of the good news about the coming sovereign intervention of YHWH, but it was certainly part of it?

It was not “the good news of the kingdom” that Jerusalem and temple were destroyed. Jesus wept over Jerusalem when he foresaw its destruction - Luke 19:41-44. I thought Habakkuk was about judgment on Babylon for its treatment of Israel, and I can’t see any allusion to “the good news of the kingdom” which links it with Matthew 24. This is becoming a ding-dong.

You obviously haven’t read Habakkuk very carefully.

I’m probably just as appalled as Habakkuk that God’s way of judging evil in Israel was by inflicting on Israel a greater evil. Most of Habakkuk is about God’s ensuing judgment of Babylon, of which Habakkuk approves. Jesus was appalled at what was going to happen to Jerusalem, and most of Matthew’s “gospel of the kingdom” is about a very different way in which God came into the world than as the divine judging warrior of Habakkuk. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was the highly undesired fulfilment of prophecy, in which Rome and Israel were on a collision course. You seem to be more an inhabitant of Habakkuk’s world than the world which Jesus came to introduce.

Are you suggesting that the destruction of Jerusalem is not to be understood as an act of divine judgment?

Luke 21:22 - ekdikēsis.

As I understand it… it makes perfect sense to view the “cosmos” as the OC world, period. Biblical eschatology was all about “the time of the endNOTthe end of time” – big difference.

Biblical eschatology was about the end of the OC age/world… the NC has no eschatology, i.e., it has no end.

Further to this the Matthew/Luke link also shows this to be speaking of ONE entire scenario, not two, as demonstrated HERE.

Davo - the comprehensive/radical preterist view is interesting and worth studying, but I personally do not believe it is accurate to say ” the NC has no eschatology”, i.e., it has no end”. But we are going to have to agree to disagree.

As regards Matthew 24 (or Mark 13) being divided into two sections, I do not think there is a break of 2000 years or more; I think Matthew 24:29 leads to a stage “immediately after” the events described, but nevertheless after those events, which brings into view developments which in themselves are a forerunner of more distant events, especially the parousia as second coming of Christ. Your grid makes the break later in the narrative, which I was not doing.

The success of the gospel proclamation was the announcement that Jesus is now King, and all earthly authorities must yield to him. This would take place in the same way as Jesus, through the way of suffering. The sign was in the sky, the universally true reign of Jesus over the earth following the resurrection, alongside God the Father.

Luke’s version of Matthew 24/Mark 13 is split between Luke 17 and 21, and I’m not sure he is doing quite the same with the material as the other synoptics. Nevertheless, the rearrangement of the material is striking. I just don’t come to your conclusions, for the reasons set out in my post.

G’day Peter… thanks for your thoughts.

When I say “the NC has no eschatology”, i.e., it has no end” what I essentially mean is that I understand Jesus’ eschatological warnings to be pertinent and concurrent with his own generations’ 40 year end of the age AD30-70 period; which again as I understand it became the terminus of the old covenant or Mosaic age. This was an age of transition, the overlapping of the ages where one covenant was dimming to demise as the other burgeoning to greater glory. This of course was pre-figured in Israel’s story… 40yrs of trial and tribulation from bondage to land of Promise.

The prophets of old and many of Jesus’ contemporaries longed for the promised ‘consolation of Israel’ – from my perspective that was the resurrection, as in Israel’s resurrection or covenant restoration; something embodied, accomplished and personified in Jesus – “I am the resurrection” etc.

Thus Jesus inaugurated Paul’s “world without end” – hence the new covenant age knows no end (as I see it). Jesus was “new Israel” he was “the new creation” of the coming new age, as were any in him, as per Paul’s “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation” or, if any man be in Christ he is new Israel. And what was Israel’s call… to be the world’s light.

Well said Davo. I fully agree with your comments.

By the way, first time here for me. Enjoying the articles.

Thanks.