Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:31

What role will angels play? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Once again, we have a verse that many futurists assume is about something in the future. After all, look at angels going out and this gathering together and the sounds of a trumpet. A trumpet sounds at the resurrection. Right? Surely that’s what’s going on here! Let’s look at the verse.

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

This would be an incredibly vague reference to a resurrection and trumpets have many more uses in Scripture and in the Roman Empire at the time. They could be used for war and they could also be used as a royal proclamation. I would go for a mixture of both of these. The Kingdom of God wages war on the kingdoms of man and the proclamation is the gospel going forth.

What about angels though? Angels are heavenly messengers aren’t they? Are they not the ones that are around the throne of God? If they’re going out, then surely that must mean something future is going on. Right?

No. The Greek word is aggelos and it can refer to a member of the heavenly entourage, but it can also refer to a messenger. John the Baptists is referred to as an aggelos. The word describes more function than anything else.

By the way, it’s worth noting the high Christology here. These are not the messengers of God, though they are that indeed, but in the text, they are the messengers of the Son. It’s one of those casual references easily missed.

The gathering of the elect refers to those who are Christians. At this point, there is zero interest in whether this is meant in a Calvinistic, Arminian, or some other sense. I really avoid that debate as much as I can.

And what about to the ends of the Earth? For the first-century Jews, this would not mean going all the way to North America or something, contrary to Mormon claims. This would mean going throughout the Roman Empire. By the end of the book of Acts, we see that this has been done. Not a shock to a Preterist that shortly after that, the temple gets destroyed.

We’re nearing the end of the first part. We will continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:22

Do the days being cut short point to a worldwide calamity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue, I must remind you all again that we are asking if the text fits with a first-century fulfillment or not. Last time, I pointed out that there is a lot of hyperbole in the description. If you take it as literal, then Jesus is not the wisest king of all and the writers of Scripture forgot Hezekiah when they got to Josiah. So what is today’s verse?

“And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”

Wow. This sounds like the end of the world. No human being will be saved. What do you make of that?

Well, if you think this describes Revelation, when we get to the end of the book and we see the battle of Armageddon, maybe it’s just me, but it looks like if there’s a war going on, there must be a lot of people to fight it. Could it be that maybe this is more hyperbolic language?

Not only that, if this is the case, why flee to the mountains once again? Are the mountains going to somehow be this safe place that human beings can survive at when the world comes to an end? Now if you read this as local, there aren’t any difficulties. It refers to Jerusalem and Judea. God will see to it that not everyone is killed.

And who are the elect? It could be some Jews who did not head to the hills and were part of the covenant anyway. The elect generally refers to those who are in the covenant. It’s not a word that Arminians and others need to shy away from.

So again, this fits in with a first-century fulfillment. Going through so far, we have come to no major problem verses. I hope that you will see the same follows as we continue.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Chosen People

What do I think of Chadwick Thornhill’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As an IVP reviewer who has a passion for the NT and thinks that our modern individualism so often misreads the text, I took notice when I saw a book come out about election in Second Temple Judaism. I try to avoid the Calvinism/Arminianism debate with everything I have and have surprised a lot of friends by not jumping onto the middle ground of molinism. Thornhill’s book then sounded like something right up my alley.

Thornhill writes to help us see what election would mean for Paul and what would it mean to be a Jew and how would you be included within the spectrum of Judaism. It’s often been said that it was not Judaism that existed at the time of Paul but rather Judaisms. We could compare it to many Christian denominations today. There are some who will have an incredibly wide umbrella and accept most anyone in. There are some who will make incredibly small. I’ve heard the joke many times about Saint Peter welcoming someone to heaven and having them go by a room where they’re told to be quiet and when asked why is told “Those are the (Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc.) and they’re somber because they think they’re the only ones here.

This is why Thornhill goes to the Jewish writings of the time to look and see how the Jews identified themselves. What were negotiables? What were non-negotiables? What did it mean to be elect and how did one maintain one’s role in the covenant with YHWH? Many times we have in the past thought that the law was this system put on Jews that they slaved under and struggled to follow and were just hoping that they were in the grace of God, but this really isn’t the case. Jews had quite different views and while no one would really say being born a Jew was a free pass, most were not trying to find a new way of salvation. Paul himself definitely wasn’t. After all, in Philippians, he writes that with regards to the Law, he was blameless.

Thornhill’s main thesis in all of this is that election is not about individuals but about rather a group and whether one is in the group or not. Today, we could say that there is only one who is truly elect in Christianity and that is Jesus and those who are elect are those who are in Jesus. For the Jews, it would have been recognizing who is truly in Israel and who isn’t. Our debates on free will and soteriology might in fact be a surprise to Jews if they were here today. Could it be that many of them would say “God is sovereign and man has free will and we just don’t know how that works out but that’s for God to do.”?

Thornhill does not speak on the Calvinism/Arminianism issue directly, but he does give food for thought. Could it be that perhaps we will move past this debate by realizing that our focus on individualism is something that we are reading into the text itself and try to approach it more the way the ancient reader would have read it, or dare I say it, more the way the apostle Paul would have been thinking when he wrote it?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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