Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:18

Should you run out on the job? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re continuing our look at the Olivet Discourse. In this section, most of what is written does easily lead to a first-century fulfillment. Let’s see if the next verse does. We’re on verse 18 which reads:

” Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.”

In most of the ancient world, a lot of people would be out working in the fields. This would be the way you would get your daily bread. Today, in America at least, about 2% of the population I understand consists of farmers. Despite what certain politicians might think, it’s also a job that requires a vast array of knowledge. Being a farmer is not simplistic or easy work.

Again, we have to ask that if the world is coming to an end, why is it that one would be tempted to go back and get their clothes? Is having a full ensemble going to help somehow with the apocalypse? If we’re describing something more akin to an invasion by Roman armies, we have a situation where running does make more sense.

What Jesus is saying is that when you see this happening, get out of town and get out immediately. Running has to be the main pathway. One would not want to even going back to bother getting extra clothing for the situation. You had to leave immediately. This would mean also even interrupting whatever you were doing, if that meant making food even. Time is of the essence. You have a long journey ahead of you if you’re heading to the mountains and that can be difficult work.

Again, all of this fits better in the first-century. When we get to the parts that seem more cosmic, we’ll have to ask if we can still get a first-century fulfillment. After looking at the discourse, I also plan to look at the idea of maybe there’s a dual fulfillment where there’s one fulfillment in 70 AD and a future in another apocalyptic scenario, maybe even with another temple.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:17

Is there any time to get anything? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last time, we looked at Matthew 24:16 and I made the case that this verse makes more sense in a localized context. All I am trying to show is that the text fits better in the first-century than it does in the 21st or any other century. (And be assured, so many centuries have thought this text described their time.) Today I am going to argue that more of the same is going on with verse 17.

“Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, “

So if this is about the end of the world and a great cataclysm of that sort, then what point would there be in going back to your house? “Oh my! The world is coming to an end! Let me get my lamp from inside!” (In modern times, we might say iPhone or tablet) It does make sense in the ancient world and in the first century.

In that world, the rooftop was practically another room of the house. People would be there and would see the Romans and would also see them withdrawing. Why not wait? Because you don’t know how long they’ll be gone and you gotta get out of town. You didn’t have a car that you could drive in or an airport to fly out of. You had to hoof it or ride some animal.

Not only that, but there would be several people out in the streets. If this is a Roman invasion going on, everyone is going about doing something. Many Jews would be making military plans and in Jerusalem, there would likely always be traffic to and from the temple.

Jesus is telling people to not wait. Go. Go now. This is the hour that you need to escape. If you stay behind and the Romans catch you, it’s not going to go well for you.

Keep in mind that last time we covered this, I did say that many evangelicals will think that the more cosmic verses have to describe a more, well, cosmic event. I get that. I used to hold the same stance. I can’t anymore and I will explain when I get there. If you’re skeptical though, I hope you can at least see that these verses so far in this little section make the most sense with the kind of interpretation I am giving.

We shall continue next time.

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:16

Why should we go to the mountains? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re in the Olivet Discourse and for our next verse, we’re asking if this fits better with a first-century milieu or with a more modern one. Keep in mind, the modern outlook is that this fits the end of the world. I have already said the text says end of the age, but I’m going to be assuming some people still have this mindset. Let’s look at the verse.

“then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. “

Okay. So let’s start with an obvious question. If the world is coming to an end, who cares if you’re in the mountains? Are mountains somehow immune to the end of the world?

Second, why would only those in Judea flee? Does Jesus just not care for the people in Samaria or for those in His home of Galilee? Does He just not care for the rest of the world? Why is this focused on Judea?

Now, if you look at this as if it is a first-century event, then it makes sense. You flee to the mountains not because the world is coming to an end, but because you need to escape the onslaught on Jerusalem and the temple. It also makes sense about why Samaria and Galilee or anywhere else are not mentioned. That’s not where the battle is.

Yet a question arises. If Rome is already here, how can anyone flee? That’s a good question. The answer is that in the middle of the attack, at one point the Romans did withdraw. It’s still not known why they did, but they did. Christians knew what Jesus said and they followed it. They took to the mountains immediately and ran off. In doing so, they escaped. Had any Jewish person done the same, they would have been safe. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

Keep in mind we are asking about which context fits better. At the start of this section, we are seeing that a local context fits much better. I would hope that even my futurist and dispensationalist readers would be able to look at that and say that here at least to them, they can understand why the local interpretation would be compelling. I can grant when we get to later verses why people think a futurist one is more compelling, such as when we talk about cosmic imagery, but I will argue that that cosmic imagery is not what modern Western people think that it is.

But that is for the future. It will be a little bit before we get there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:15

What is the abomination that causes desolation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today we’re going to talk about the abomination of desolation. As per our usual approach, let’s start with the verse.

” So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) “

Obviously, there is some editing here by Matthew as Jesus would not say “Let the reader understand.” Matthew wants you to go to Daniel to understand what’s going on. Before we look at the abomination itself, let’s notice something else in Daniel.

13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
    and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed.

This is from Daniel 7. Notice that this is about the coming of the Son of Man. The Olivet Discourse is also about the coming of the Son of Man. In both cases, where is the Son of Man coming to? He’s approaching the Ancient of Days. He’s not going down. He’s going up. Keep that in mind as most people read coming and assume coming to Earth, as if the disciples had a concept of Jesus even leaving Earth at the time.

As for the abomination, in Luke 21:20, Jesus connects desolation with another event.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.”

There are many different interpretations of what the abomination could be, not notice that in each case Jesus says the disciples will see it happen. By referring to the holy place, He means the temple. This doesn’t mean every disciple had to see it, but it does fit well with that generation seeing it.

It is often thought by dispensationalists that this will refer to a third temple, but there is no basis in the text for the temple being destroyed and a third temple being built and then the third temple being destroyed. After all, this passage began with the destruction of the temple. Thus far then, if we are looking at the destruction of the temple and seeing when all these events took place, which will come again later, we are looking at a first-century context.

What could fit the abomination? It could be an act of sacrilege that is done in the temple such as by John of Gischala or others. It could refer to the shedding of blood in the temple from humans. After all, at this point, the Romans didn’t care and would go in and kill anyone even in the holy place and the most holy place. Either one would render the temple as further unfit for the purpose that it was built.

Keep in mind, our question is to ask if a first-century fulfillment makes sense. Since we know that temple was destroyed in the first-century, so far, we are on a pretty good track. Dispensationalists have to postulate a third temple which really makes no sense since Jesus was talking about the temple that His disciples saw and not a future temple that they would not have understood at all.

On another positive note, the prophecy is starting to get more specific and we are getting into verses that people think don’t fit a first-century context. I hope at the end readers will see that they do fit such a context. One reason I am an Orthodox Preterist is the text drives me to that understanding.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:14

Has the Gospel been preached to the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. So now we’re getting somewhere aren’t we? I mean, the Gospel hasn’t been preached everywhere has it? There are still unreached people groups out there aren’t there? If that’s the case, there’s no way we have a first-century fulfillment is there?

Let’s start with Luke 2. In this passage, a census went out to all the world. Really? They got the census over in China and Australia? The people living here in America had to come and be registered? When we hear about the world in the Gospels, we have to consider the context and many times, it refers to the Roman Empire at the time.

Paul in Colossians 1:23 said that the Gospel had been proclaimed to every creature under Heaven. In Romans 1, he says the whole world has heard about the faith of the Romans. Again, we have to ask if this is something literal or not.

Now some might say that there is a dual fulfillment going on. I plan on getting to that later on. For now, all I have to do is show there is a first-century fulfillment to the text. Let’s also take a little look at what it means of the end shall come.

Again, if we are talking about the end of the world, then it’s quite odd that Jesus still goes on to talk about all these events that will happen after the end of the world. Maybe the end of the world just isn’t that big of a deal. If we’re talking about the coming end of the age, it makes more sense. We will also see as we go through that several predictions do not make sense with an end of the world scenario. They do make sense with a first-century localized scenario.

Some of you will be wondering about how this goes with taking the text literally. That is a concept that is highly misunderstood. Literally does not mean in a wooden sense but rather according to the intent of the author. Jesus is here speaking as if He was an Old Testament prophet. That kind of language was common in the Old Testament prophets.

Next time, we will see what happens in verse 15.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:13

Is the Discourse talking about salvation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the favorite topics evangelicals like to discuss is salvation. It’s a great topic, but just because the Bible uses the word saved, it doesn’t mean it’s talking about salvation. For a case in point, let’s look at today’s verse.

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

One of my favorite examples of this is in Acts 27. When the ship Paul is on is in the sea in the middle of a storm, some sailors decide that they will flee in a lifeboat. Paul has already told them that everyone will be spared, but they’re not believing it. So what does Paul say?

“Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.”

Wow. So Paul was saying salvation was out of reach? Now to be fair, being dead could make it hard to get saved, but Paul is talking about something else. He is talking about surviving the storm at sea.

So when Jesus is talking about this, He is talking about avoiding death. He is not saying that enduring earns one salvation, although one who has salvation ultimately will endure. Now were there plenty of reasons for someone to not endure?

Yes. Apostasy will be a reality for the early church at this point. The book of Hebrews is the prime example of this. This was not persecution to the point of shedding blood as the writer of the piece himself says, but it is persecution that is leading people to be tempted to return to Judaism.

Christianity was a shameful movement at the start and if you are staying in it for salvation, well, Judaism already has that. Why not return to Judaism and avoid the social ostracism that takes place with Christianity? It was a tempting offer and that’s why the author makes repeated warnings to people to not abandon Christ. This letter quite likely has more such warnings than any other letter.

Jesus is describing people in Jerusalem going through a similar time, except it will be far worse, which we will get to later. This will be an event to endure indeed. There are some who place this in a “great tribulation” in the future which could very well return us to a salvation by works. As we go on through the discourse, I hope you will see that such an interpretation is unnecessary. Everything can easily fit into the first century.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:12

Will people be more wicked? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, we continue our look at the Olivet Discourse. We are going to be talking about wickedness. Let’s look at the verse.

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold”

Okay. So maybe some could say that this can apply today, and of course, it could. However, what we are asking is if it applies to the time of Jesus. This is what is known as a necessary but not sufficient condition. Just because it applies to the first century, it is not sufficient to show that it must be the time Jesus has in mind, but it is necessary that that time be included.

So was there an increase in wickedness?

Indeed there was. Look at what Josephus says about the practices going on at the time. When the siege started, everything seemed to be permitted. Murders were frequently taking place. An excellent fictional look at this are the chronicles written by Brian Godawa on the topic.

Nero and Caligula were both crazy emperors. Nero especially was known for wickedness. (One reason I think he’s the Beast in Revelation, but that’s for later) Nero could kill anyone easily, even if that someone was his own mother.

This was going on also in the New Testament. Jude and 2 Peter both have long sections on wicked people. It’s generally thought that one borrowed from the other since they are quite similar, but that would mean at least that both saw the problem. I am aware some skeptics place 2 Peter late, but I am not someone who places it later on.

Consider 2 Timothy 3:1-9

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Note something about this. Timothy is told to avoid these people. These people are already around. Paul is speaking about present realities going on in the life of Timothy. Some will say, “But this speaks of the last days!” Yes. Let’s see what was said in Acts 2.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

When did Peter say the last days would come? When God would pour out His Spirit on all people. We see this going on at Pentecost and it happens throughout Acts with Gentiles getting the Holy Spirit. Some will wonder about the wonders described later on, but we will get to that eventually in the discourse. We already live in the time that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved so both bookends of this passage are fulfilled. Keep in mind that this is similar to the question about the end of the age. The last days are not the last days of the world but of the age the people were living in.

So again, we have a consistent fulfillment.

We shall continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:11

What about false prophets? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue in the Olivet Discourse, we get to another verse that seems generic, but remember, we are looking to see if these passages have a past fulfillment. So what does verse 11 say?

“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.”

So if you look in the church today, you see several false prophets. We can all see videos on YouTube of false prophets. We can see numerous people convinced the rapture is just around the corner. We can remember in our recent history Harold Camping twice giving the date of the rapture. Not only that, we can look at organizations like the Mormon Church and the Watchtower and see numerous false prophets.

Thus, these are nothing new, but what we have to again ask is does this fit the first-century climate? The answer is yes. First off, even in the New Testament. Acts 13:6 talks about the false prophet Bar-Jesus on Paphos. Acts 8 talks about Simon the Sorcerer whom Josephus references as well. 2 Corinthians talks about the false apostles. 1 John 4:1 says many false prophets have gone out into the world. Revelation 2 talks about the false prophetess Jezebel.

There is also Josephus. Book 2 and chapter 13 says

” But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.”

And chapter 5 of Book 6 says

“And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was round about the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward. They also burnt down the treasury chambers, in which was an immense quantity of money, and an immense number of garments, and other precious goods there reposited; and, to speak all in a few words, there it was that the entire riches of the Jews were heaped up together, while the rich people had there built themselves chambers [to contain such furniture]. The soldiers also came to the rest of the cloisters that were in the outer [court of the] temple, whither the women and children, and a great mixed multitude of the people, fled, in number about six thousand. But before Caesar had determined any thing about these people, or given the commanders any orders relating to them, the soldiers were in such a rage, that they set that cloister on fire; by which means it came to pass that some of these were destroyed by throwing themselves down headlong, and some were burnt in the cloisters themselves. Nor did any one of them escape with his life. A false prophet was the occasion of these people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.”

Keep in mind that some of these you could say apply to our own time, which is true, but right now at the start, we need to see if this can apply to the time of Jesus. If I contend that this was happening at the time of Jesus and it wasn’t, then my position is sunk. What I have here is a necessary but not sufficient condition for Orthodox Preterism.

We shall continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:10

Does apostasy show the end is coming? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Verse 10 seems pretty generic.

“And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.”

Okay. That sounds common. Hasn’t that been going on for awhile? Yes it has, and yet what we have to ask is if this was going on in the first century or not? The answer is definitely yes.

If we read the epistles, Paul talks about Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10 who loved the world and went back to it. The book of Hebrews regularly encourages people to stay true to the faith and to not apostasize. There was plenty of incentive to do so!

The book is arguing that Jesus is superior to the Jewish system of redemption with their four great figures of righteousness, namely angels, Moses, the high priest, and Melchizedek, at least in the area of Alexandria. It was tempting for Christians to return to this system. Why? The writer says there blood had not yet been shed.

It was tempting because of social ostracism. If you think that is not a compelling factor, then just consider peer-pressure today and up it greatly. After all, how many of us have done something we look back on and think is foolish but we did it because at the time, we didn’t want to be frowned upon by the peers we were wanting to impress? So it would have been with Christians in the first century.

The book of Revelation warns of those who have fallen from their first love in the church of Ephesus. I realize that not everyone dates this to before 70 A.D. like I do, but we can still see that at least in the first century this was a problem. Can we see the other options as well?

Yes. Hating one another has always been common. There was a period around the time of 70 AD where you had a cycle of Roman emperors as one would get assassinated after another. In Acts, Christians were regularly being persecuted by the Jewish people they were trying to witness to. Even in the Sermon on the Mount, we see that Jews were taught to love their neighbors and hate their enemies.

Remember, I am not claiming this behavior was only going on in the first century. It’s quite easy to see this happening everywhere. I am just aiming to show that it does fit within the first century. Later, we will get to more specific statements.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:8

What are all the earthquakes pointing to? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Giving birth is a painful thing from what I understand. If Allie and I ever have kids, I have thought about what it’s going to be like in the delivery room. It would be hard for all the doctors and nurses in there. There will be the sound of the crying, moaning, groaning, screaming, and yelling.

I’m also sure Allie would be making some noises as well.

Birth pains though are a sign that something else is coming. Something new is happening. For the woman having them, they’re the sign that a new life is coming into the world. Yet Jesus also refers to birth pains. What does He say?

” All these are the beginning of birth pains. “

Okay. That’s short and sweet. What’s he talking about that is the beginning? The famines and earthquakes and rumors of war that came before. That means that so many of our modern rapture brigade people are getting this text wrong. These do not mean the end is upon us. These are precursors instead.

Yet you also know my argument here has been that all of this best fits a first century context. After all, plenty of people have made predictions about the end of the world coming upon us and they have pointed to various disasters going on every time. To this day, they have always been wrong. If anyone does get it right one day, I contend it will not be because they are a brilliant exegete. It will be because they are a lucky guesser.

Our danger today is paying too much attention to things like this and getting into panic mode. Either that, or we go into a mode that we can just coast for the time being because Jesus is coming. To this day, I remember being in a church small group and hearing a lady say, “I’m saved and my children are saved. I’m just going to sit back and wait for Jesus to come.”

What a horrible attitude. What about everyone else’s children? What about the possibility your children could lose faith when they go to college? Nope. It was all about her.

Don’t be like that.

Don’t get so caught up in end times madness that you miss what is going on in the present time. Jesus wouldn’t want you to panic. Don’t do it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters