Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:21

Is this the worst possible thing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For the past five verses, I think some dispensationalist readers could even look and see that it makes sense in an Orthodox Preterist viewpoint, but now there’s a shift. When we get to verse 21, it looks like we’re entering something of epic proportions. Let’s look and see what the verse says at the start.

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”

Okay. So I think the passage here is about the destruction of Jerusalem and that’s supposed to be the greatest disaster of all? That can hold a candle to 6 million Jews dying in the Holocaust? Doesn’t this just seal the deal against a first-century interpretation?

Not quite, because if you have that view throughout Scripture, you run into problems. This normally happens with a modern literalistic hermeneutic that doesn’t take into account Jewish idioms. What kinds of things am I talking about? Let’s look. We’ll start with 2 Kings looking at Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:5.

“He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.”

You go, Hezekiah! Awesome! No one like you!

But what about this Jesus guy? Wasn’t He a king who trusted in God more?

Now some might think that’s not the most valid way to look, but if you’re one of those, we don’t need to go to Jesus. We can just go to the same book in the Old Testament. Let’s look at Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25

“Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.”

Wow. So either the author of Kings totally forgot about Hezekiah in a few chapters, or else we’re looking at a Jewish way of speaking. Is this the only instance of this? Hardly. Look at Exodus 11:6

” There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.”

People of Egypt can rejoice. Nothing will ever be worse than the Hebrew Exodus. Of course, this will be odd for my dispensationalist friends who think the whole Earth is going to go through something far worse. Who knows? Maybe Egypt will be the exception that’s spared! How about Daniel 9:12?

“He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem.”

But Babylon was laying siege to several cities and starving them out and destroying them. What makes Jerusalem the one exception? You could say their temple was destroyed, but that’s not too unusual in a siege. Let’s also return to 1 Kings 3 and look at verse 12.

“I will do what you have asked. I will give you more wisdom and understanding than anyone has ever had before or will ever have again.”

But Jesus said that one greater than Solomon is here. Was He wrong? Was Solomon wiser than Jesus? If you use my hermeneutic to just picture this as a way of describing something intense, you don’t have a problem. Go with a literalist one and you do.

Not only that, if you look at the parallel in Luke 21:24, what do you see?

“Some will be killed by the sword, and others will be taken as prisoners to all countries; and the heathen will trample over Jerusalem until their time is up.”

Luke centralizes all of this to Jerusalem. So again, this fits with a first-century paradigm.

Now if someone doesn’t think what happened to Jerusalem in 70 A.D. counts as great suffering, just go read about it. See what you think then. If it does count, then my hermeneutic is entirely consistent and I would contend more consistent than a dispensationalist one.

We shall continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:20

Why does it matter when the end comes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re looking at the Olivet Discourse and seeing what timeframe it best fits into. This time, we’re going to be looking at verse 20. I have been contending that this whole passage fits best into a first-century format. The next verse after this will have some people thinking back to a futurist mindset, but we will get to that next time. For now, let’s look at verse 20.

“Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.”

Note that this is talking about a flight. It’s an escape. It doesn’t make sense to say “Pray that the rapture doesn’t take place in a winter or a Sabbath.” Why would that be? Would winter be by because if Jesus zaps you off and your clothes are Left Behind, per the movie, then you will be freezing in the weather?

Yet if we look at this in the first-century and think it describes an escape to the mountains, once again, it’s a great fit. Winter travel is harder period. Not only is the cold painful, but it is also harder to find food to eat as animals can be hibernating and plants are rare. You didn’t exactly have suitcases and thermoses and other ways you could carry food long term and keep it from spoiling.

What about the Sabbath? What difference does it make if you are traveling to the mountains if it’s the Sabbath? Note that this is talking about one time in particular when you are to run. In Jerusalem, and this is specific for Jerusalem, the gates would be closed on a Sabbath day as in Nehemiah. Business was not to be done on those days. While that could still be going on today, it would be much easier to escape Jerusalem today than it would be back then.

In the first century, if you needed to escape, you would not be able to get through the gates. It would be that much more difficult to get out and survive. One would have to work around and find other means and if time is of the essence such that you can’t even get into your house and Roman soldiers could be coming around at any moment as well as Jewish agitators who might attack you, then you’re in trouble.

Now as I said, these recent verses do easily fit, but next time, we’re going to have a very extreme statement from Jesus that convinces many readers we are talking about a futuristic scenario. I will be showing from the case of Scripture why I do not think Jesus’s words are to be understood that way.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:19

What are the struggles of a mother when the world comes to an end? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yes. That opening statement is a bit tongue in cheek. I do not think that this passage is at all about the end of the world, but some do. Today, we are looking at verse 19 and the focus is entirely on women. (Though keep in mind, Jesus is supposedly a misogynist so many times and never cares about women so this verse must be an anomaly or something.)

So what does verse 19 say?

“And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!”

Pregnancy today is much easier than it was back then. If a woman gets pregnant today, she assumes generally all things being equal that she’s going to give birth and have a normal pregnancy. I do realize some women have miscarriages today and tragedies like that happen, but very few times is a woman scared that when she goes to the delivery room, she won’t come out alive.

Instead, a woman typically has a plethora of doctors around here. Even if she can’t make it to the hospital, there’s usually good care and good medication available that she can use. Pregnancy is still difficult and can still be very painful, but it is nowhere near the health risk it used to be.

Same with raising infants today. Mothers have every good in the world. They have cars to drive and car seats for babies. They have strollers and now even things you can use to carry your baby on your chest with you so your hands are free. There are bottles of formula and everything else a baby needs.

Not so in the ancient world.

In that world, you could die quite often in childbirth. It was a risk. You didn’t have the special items we have today for taking care of a child once they were born. You would have to nurse them the old-fashioned way every time.

So now imagine a woman having to flee Jerusalem who is pregnant. She has no pain killers like we have today and has to go and walk several miles a day, maybe ride an animal if she’s lucky which will have its own hurdles for her.

Imagine going on a trip like this then either pregnant or dealing with an infant who will be crying and waking you up in the middle of the night every time you try to stop and sleep. Will that help you on your journey or hinder you? I am not at all saying that a mother shouldn’t love her children that way, but love can be hard sometimes even for children. The mother will not leave her child behind, but the child will be hard to have on the trip.

Again, all of this makes sense in the first century. Today, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Back in that day, it would be extremely difficult. Again, we have to ask which scenario makes the most sense of this? If you read this in a futuristic way, it’s hard to make sense of it. Read it as if it’s happening in the ancient world and it fits perfectly.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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