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18 January 2019
The Olivet Discourse
(verse by verse)
Table of Contents
Thesis & Literary Analysis — pp. 3-6
The Disobedience of Israel — pp. 7-11
Excursus I: The Vindication of the Martyrs — pp. 9-11
The Destruction of Jerusalem — p. 12
The Signs of the End of the Age — pp. 13-20
Excursus II: The Role of Paul in the Great Commission — pp. 16-18
Excursus III: Tribulation, then Resurrection — pp. 18-20
The Parousia of the Son of Man — pp. 21-23
Excursus IV: The Nature of the Eschaton — pp. 22-23
The Terminal Generation — pp. 24-26
Excursus V: The Nearness of the Eschaton — pp. 25-26
The Days of Noah — pp. 27-28
Excursus VI: Noah as a Type of Jesus — p. 28
The Parable of the Servant — p. 29
The Parable of the Ten Virgins — pp. 30-34
Excursus VII: The Rapture — pp. 31-32
Excursus VIII: The Role of Paul in the Remarriage of Israel —
The Parable of the Talents — pp. 35-37
The Parable of the Sheep and Goats — pp. 38-40
Conclusion — pp. 41-42
Excursus IX: New Jerusalem — pp. 41-42
Bibliography — pp. 43-44
According to Pew Research Center, about forty-one percent of Americans believe that
Jesus will return in their generation.1 That belief would not be so prevalent if the church were
to accept Jesus’ teaching on eschatology in his Olivet discourse. The Olivet discourse defines
one’s view of New Testament eschatology, as the discourse is rooted in Old Testament forms
of expression (metaphor, inclusio,2 chiasm,3 etc.), and ancient Jewish expectations of how the
last days would play out. Thus, this discourse sheds light on the doctrines of the parousia,4 the
resurrection of the dead, and the new heavens and earth, specifically whether one should see
these as fulfilled or unfulfilled realities. That they were fulfilled in A.D. 70 at the fall of
Jerusalem is proven by the the literary structure of the discourse and the ten motifs which Jesus
discusses therein. These are: the disobedience of Israel, the destruction of Jerusalem, the signs
of the end of the age, the parousia of the Son of Man, the terminal generation, the days of
Noah, the servant, the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and goats.
The Olivet discourse is Jesus’ longest teaching on the subject of eschatology, so it must
be paid attention by any serious student of Scripture. Concerning the Olivet discourse, J.J.
Scholtz says, “[It] is complex and difficult to interpret, but crucial to any preaching about
eschatology.”5 The discourse is in the three synoptic gospels, but the most developed account
of the three is Matthew’s, since it contains a prelude (Matthew 23), and three parables not seen
in the other two synoptics (Matthew 25). The body of the discourse itself is Matthew 24.
“Jesus Christ’s Return to Earth.” Pew Research Center.
A pattern wherein a concept appears at the beginning, and end of a passage, forming parentheses around the text.
A pattern wherein at least two concepts represented by A and B follow the pattern A B ~B ~A.
Gk. word meaning, “coming” or “presence.” It is used 18 times in the N.T. to refer to the second coming of
Scholtz, J.J. “Behold the glory of the King: The chiastic structures of Matthew 21−25.”
Before examining any biblical text, one must analyze the basic structure of said text.
There is an inclusio that brackets Matthew 23 and 25. There is also a chiastic pattern in the
discourse, which Scholtz acknowledges: “[...]this present article explores whether 21:1−25:46
could be a major literary unit containing two chiastic structures that mirror each other, namely
21:1−23:39 and 24:1−25:46.”6 These two literary patterns illustrate the unity of the discourse,
contrary to the claims of those who teach that the body of the discourse predicts the fall of
Jerusalem in vv. 1-34 and then the end of the world in vv. 35-51 on through chapter 25.
The inclusio begins in Matthew 23:1-3 and ends in Matthew 25:31-46, which forms
parentheses around the whole discourse. In Matthew 23, Jesus condemns the Pharisees and
legal experts of his generation, but not without first recognizing their God-given authority.7 He
says that they set themselves in the seat of Moses, which gives them the authority to teach from
the law of Moses. However, as a result of their greed, lust for power, and hypocritical
judgment of the oppressed of society, they are to face the Son of Man who comes and sets
himself on his glorious throne described in Matthew 25. The Jews who are the objects of Jesus’
rebuke are the same ones who are to bear the weight of the final judgment.8
In Matthew 24, the body of the discourse, there are three notable chiasms. The first two
follow the pattern A B C D E ~D ~C ~B ~A. By themselves, these first two do not demonstrate
the unity of the Olivet discourse since they appear before verse 34, which is the point in the
text where it is often claimed that Jesus ended his discussion on the fall of Jerusalem and began
predicting the “end of the world.” The third chiasm follows the more complex pattern A B C
The Pharisees and Sadducees were the tenants of the vineyard (Israel), and were supposed to bear fruit (works of
righteousness) for the master of the vineyard (God the Father).
While the judgment would affect all nations (Mt. 25:32), the theater of the judgment was to be the land of Israel
~B ~A = A B C ~B ~A, and it connects vv. 1-34 with vv. 35-51, thus demonstrating that there
is but one subject in the discourse.
First (A), Jesus tells his disciples not to be deceived or led astray by false christs who
speak of wars and rumors of wars, because those are not even signs of the end (vv. 4-6). He
proceeds (B) to predict strife among the nations (v. 7). Then (C), he says that those things are
the merely the beginning of the horrid tribulation that will unfold (v. 8). He then (D) warns
them of coming persecution and how many will seek to kill the members of Jesus’ nascent
church (vv. 9-10). In the center of the chiasm (E), Christ warns of false prophets (v. 11).
Because of wickedness (~D), many will stop loving altogether (v. 12). But (~C), there is no
need to be concerned, for the one who makes his way to the end of that horrid tribulation will
be saved (v. 13). Then (~B) the gospel will be proclaimed among all nations, after which (~A)
the end will finally arrive (v. 14).
In the second chiasm (A), Jesus commands those who are in the region of Judea when
Jerusalem is surrounded by armies to flee to the hills (vv. 15-20). The reason (B) for their flight
is that there is about to be an unprecedented tribulation (v. 21), one so bad that (C) if God
were to not intervene, no flesh would be saved (v. 22). In the midst of this time of distress (D),
there will be false christs (vv. 23-24). He then (E) tells them that they have no excuse to be
ignorant now, because the Lord has told them what is to occur (v. 25). He then (~D) reiterates
his prediction of coming false christs (vv. 26-27). He goes on (~C) to compare those who will
stand guilty before the Judge to a dead body (v. 28). After (~B) the tribulation, the order of
the cosmos will be shaken (v. 29), and (~A) on the clouds of the sky will come the Son of Man
to gather his fleeing saints (vv. 30-31).
In the chiasm connecting the first half of Matthew 24 with the second half (A), Jesus
tells his followers that they will know his parousia is near when they see the signs he has
given (vv. 32-33). Next (B) he says that “this generation” will not pass away until his parousia
occurs (v. 34). While (C) heaven and earth will pass away (v. 35a), the (~B) words of Christ
will never pass away (v. 35b). And while (~A=A) the signs that Jesus gave to his disciples are
to signal the nearness of the end of the age, no one knows the exact day or hour of that event
(v. 36). This is because (B) the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah (v.
37), in that (C) no one knew that the flood was coming until the flood came and washed the
wicked from the face of the land (vv. 38-39a). The (~B) coming of the Son of Man will
happen in just the same way (v. 39b), because (~A) he will come at an hour no one knows or
expects (vv. 40-42).
This last chiasm shows that the coming of the Son of Man that was to occur in the
generation of the apostles, which so-called partial preterists9 agree happened in A.D. 70, is the
same coming of the Son of Man that is like the flood in the days of Noah. The flood was a
catastrophic event carrying great significance, and Jesus’ coming against Jerusalem was to be
even more significant than that.10 The flood of Noah’s day, significant as it was, was but a
shadow of the end of Israel’s world.
A variation in the preterist view. They believe that most prophecies (the Antichrist, tribulation, etc.) are fulfilled,
and that the millennium is in progress, but that Jesus must return physically in the future and perform a physical
resurrection and reign in a physical kingdom upon Earth.
While the flood certainly affected a greater geographical area than the events of A.D. 70, it must be noted that
the physical size of an event does not determine its significance. Less people were affected by the birth of Jesus
than were affected by the flood, but that does not mean Jesus’ birth is less significant than the flood.
The Disobedience of Israel
In the prelude of the Olivet discourse, there are eight woes of condemnation that Jesus
delivers to the Pharisees and lawyers of his day. While all of them are important and show that
Israel had become the eschatological enemy of God, the eighth is the most crucial to interpret.
“‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the
prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, “If we had been living in the days
of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the
prophets”’” (Matthew 23:29-30 NASB). The Jews hypocritically venerated the prophets and
legendary martyrs of Israel’s past, repressing the fact that it was their own ancestors who were
the ones who murdered them. The New Testament speaks elsewhere of the fact that no prophet
can die outside of Jerusalem (Luke 13:33, Acts 7:52, Romans 11:3, 1 Thessalonians 2:15).
“‘So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the
prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of
vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?’” (Matthew 23:31-33). The Pharisees were
being told to finish what their ancestors had started. The Greek word for “fill up,” pléroó,
literally means to fulfill, complete, or finish. Jesus’ question to them is therefore rhetorical;
they will not escape the sentence due to them.
“‘Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of
them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and
persecute from city to city’” (Matthew 23:34). They will not escape the sentence of hell
because, just as their fathers had killed the prophets of old, so too will they murder the
apostles, prophets, wise men, and scribes of Jesus, persecuting and killing them in cities all
over the world.
“‘so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the
blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered
between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this
generation’” (Matthew 23:35-36). As a result of their mistreatment of God’s servants, the guilt
of all the blood of all righteous people from Abel, history’s first murder victim, to Zechariah,
one of the last Old Testament prophets, will fall upon the people of Israel. The universal nature
of this judgment is seen in that even Abel, disconnected by thousands of years from the first
Israelite, will be avenged in Israel’s punishment.11 And her punishment is to occur in “this
generation,” which to the Jewish mind connoted a period of roughly thirty to fifty years
“‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!
How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under
her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say
to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name
of the Lord!”’” (Matthew 23:37-39). The murderous past of Jerusalem is once again alluded to
as Jesus weeps over Jerusalem’s fate. His statement that Jerusalem would not see him again
until they would sing a song of praise to God indicates that this judgment is to occur on one of
the seven feast days (Psalms 118:26), not that Jerusalem will eventually accept Jesus with open
arms, contra dispensationalism.
This is important to realize because the nation of Israel was not even in existence when Abel was killed. Some
may question God’s justice in punishing a nation for the sins of someone else, but he is just to everyone and his
ways are perfect regardless of what one conceives to be morally right (Psa. 18:30).
Excursus I: The Vindication of the Martyrs
One of the most important motifs in the biblical study of the last days is that of martyr
vindication. In Genesis 4:10, the blood of Abel cries out for vindication, and that scriptural
thread can be traced all the way to Revelation 6:10, where the martyrs of Jesus cry out to God
for vengeance against their murderers. That vengeance is ultimately brought to bear in the
destruction of the harlot city Babylon: “‘Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and
apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her’”
(Revelation 18:20). The city that is to be destroyed in the Olivet discourse is the same city to
be destroyed in Revelation. David Chilton notes, “While all readily admit that the Little
Apocalypse (the Olivet discourse) is a prophecy against Israel, few seem to make the obvious
connection: the Big Apocalypse ( Revelation) is a prophecy against Israel as well” (parentheses
Mystery Babylon killed the prophets, Jesus, and his apostles (Revelation 11:8, 18:20).
The only city that fits these criteria is old covenant Jerusalem, who was responsible for the
death of all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah (Matthew 23:35-36), who murdered Jesus
(Acts 7:52), and who persecuted Jesus’ followers (Matthew 23:34). Paul the apostle
corroborates these details, and says that the Jews were responsible for persecuting Christians in
Thessalonica: “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that
are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen,
even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us
out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the
Chilton, David. Days of Vengeance.
Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their
sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost13” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). The Greek
word for “fill up” here is anapléroó, and is a synonym of pléroó, the only difference being the
prefix ana-, denoting “up.”
Jesus said that Jerusalem killed the Old Testament prophets and would kill him and his
apostles, and that judgment would fall in that generation (Matthew 23:29-36). Dr. Don Preston
notes, “In no uncertain terms, Jesus said that all of the martyrs of God would be vindicated in
his generation, in the judgment of Jerusalem.”14 Paul said the exact same thing about
Jerusalem, except at his time (the early A.D. 50’s), the death of Jesus was already past and the
persecution of his apostles had begun (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). John the apostle said
concerning Babylon that she had killed the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles of Jesus
(Revelation 11:8, 18:20), and that judgment was coming upon her “soon” (Revelation 1:1, 3,
2:16, 3:11, 6:11, 10:6, 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20). Babylon was Jerusalem.15 Consider the following
chart showing the comparison between Jerusalem and Babylon.
Guilty of all righteous blood (Mt. 23:35)
Guilty of all righteous blood (Rev. 18:24)
Murdered Jesus (Acts 7:52)
Crucified the Lord (Rev. 11:8)
Killed Jesus’ disciples (Mt. 23:34)
Killed Jesus’ apostles (Rev. 18:20)
Would be judged in “this generation” (Mt.
Would be judged soon (Rev. 1:1, 3, 22:6-7,
To denote imminence, Paul is speaking of the wrath as if it has already come; in a sense, it had come, for the
wrath of God abided on everyone who rejected his Son (Jhn. 3:36).
Preston, Don. Who is this Babylon?
Modern Jewry is not, and cannot be Babylon. Any anti-Jewish sentiment is inexcusable, especially for
Christians who have been called to love all mankind.
The vindication of the blood of the martyrs is the time when the Lord comes down from
heaven in judgment. “For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place To punish the
inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed And will no
longer cover her slain” (Isaiah 26:21). Since the uncovering of the blood of the martyrs
occurred in A.D. 70 at the fall of Jerusalem, and the Lord was to come at the time of the
uncovering of the blood, it follows that the Lord came in A.D. 70.
The motif of the disobedience of Israel, especially as it relates to their mistreatment of
the saints in history, shows that the Lord’s coming to vindicate his people was in the fall of
Jerusalem/Babylon in A.D. 70. Preston is right in saying, “The identity of Babylon is the key to
biblical eschatology. The defeat of death, the judgment and the new creation all come as a
result of her fall.”16 Daniel Rogers agrees, “[...]at the judgement of Babylon, man has access to
Preston, Don. Babylon.
Rogers, Daniel. Pauls Letters to the Thessalonians.
The Destruction of Jerusalem
“Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to
point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things?
Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down’”
(Matthew 24:1-2). In the parallel passage in Luke 21:5, it says the disciples pointed out to
Jesus the beautiful gems and rare stones that adorned the temple. This corroborates what has
been seen as it pertains to the identity of Babylon as Jerusalem, because Revelation 17:4 says
that the harlot is adorned with precious stones and pearls. Jesus’ response to their excitement is
gloomy: he predicts the destruction of the temple.
“As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying,
‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the
end of the age?’” (Matthew 24:3). As Jesus sits on the Mount of Olives, the disciples ask two
questions: when will “these things” (the destruction of the temple) occur? and what will be the
sign of the parousia and of the end of the age? To imagine that these two questions are about
two distinct topics, one the fall of Jerusalem and the other the end of the world, is misguided.
In the parallel passage in Mark’s account, the two questions merge into one: when will “these
things” happen (Mark 13:4)? Luke’s account is even more revealing: the disciples ask when
“these things” will happen, and what the sign of “these things” will be (Luke 21:7). In
Matthew, the disciple’s question about signs pertains specifically to the second coming and end
of the age; in Luke, the question about signs is shortened and pertains to “these things,” thus
showing that “these things” are synchronous to the parousia and end of the age. There is no
dichotomy between the fall of the temple and the parousia (the end of the age).
The Signs of the End of the Age
“And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you. For many
will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will mislead many.’” (Matthew 24:4-5).
In response to their questions, Jesus tells the disciples that they should not allow anyone to
mislead or deceive them, because many false christs will come.
“‘You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for
those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all
these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs’” (Matthew 24:6-8). Wars and
international strife will also occur, but those are not signs of the end. Today, self-proclaimed
experts of prophecy claim that the never-ending wars in the middle east are proof that the last
days are present. Jesus directly contradicted that belief. Notice also that the subject has not
changed from the destruction of the temple to a global catastrophe. Universal strife is to signal
a local judgment against Jerusalem, dispelling the notion that the dissolution of the temple
system is insignificant to people living outside of the land of Palestine.
“‘Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by
all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another
and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because
lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the
end, he will be saved’” (Matthew 24:9-13). Jesus proceeds to warn his disciples that they will
be put to death by their enemies; they will be hated by all the nations. In Mark’s account, it
says that the disciples would be scourged and persecuted in the synagogues (13:9), indicating
the predominantly Jewish nature of the persecution.
“‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all
the nations, and then the end will come’” (Matthew 24:14). Jesus gives the completion of the
great commission as a sign of the immediate end. Once the gospel reaches all nations, the end
will truly be on the point of happening. It is therefore important to recognize the fact that the
apostles repeatedly said that the great commission had been completed, and it had been
completed before A.D. 70 (Romans 1:8, 10:18, 16:26, Colossians 1:23).
“‘Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through
Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in
Judea must flee to the mountains. Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the
things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak’”
(Matthew 24:15-18). The establishment of the abomination which causes desolation would be a
signal to Christians in Judea to flee to the hills. The church historian Eusebius records that
Christians living in Jerusalem fled to a city called Pella when the Jewish-Roman war began:
“But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed
to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea
“‘Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his
house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are
pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!’” (Matthew 24:17-19). The siege
Schaff, Philip. “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series II, Volume 1.”
of Jerusalem is to be so swift that no time can be wasted on the part of the saints in Judea; do
not even bother going back to gather personal possessions, Jesus commanded them. Pregnant
women and the mothers of infants would not gain respite from judgment either. While Jesus
does not explicitly state here what will befall pregnant women and those nursing infants, it can
only be imagined that he is referring to the law of blessings and cursings in the Torah. There,
God promised the Israelites that if they obeyed him, he would bless them and their land
(Leviticus 26:1-13). However, if they would disobey his laws, he would send horrible curses
on them, one of the most ghastly being that he would make them eat their own children:
“Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat”
(Leviticus 26:29). Chrysostom records that this actually happened in the siege of Jerusalem:
“[...]those terrors surpassed all tragedy, and[...]no such had ever overtaken the nation. For so
great was the famine, that the very mothers fought about the devouring of their children, and
that there were wars about this.”19
“‘But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath’” (Matthew 24:20).
Jesus did not know the season in which Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies; he did not
even know the day of the week it would occur. Thus, it can be said that he did not know the
day or the hour in which Jerusalem would be judged. Yet, he knew it would occur in his
generation (Matthew 24:34).
“‘For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning
of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have
been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short’” (Matthew 24:21-22). The
Schaff, Philip. “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series I, Volume 10.”
armies besieging Jerusalem would inflict a tribulation the likes of which had been unseen
theretofore in human history. If God were to not intervene in this horrible catastrophe, not a
single life would be saved. But, for the sake of his people, the war would be brought to an end.
“‘Then if anyone says to you, “Behold, here is the Christ,” or ‘There He is, ’ do not
believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and
wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if
they say to you, “Behold, He is in the wilderness,” do not go out, or, “Behold, He is in the
inner rooms,” do not believe them’ ” (Matthew 24:23-26). There are to be many false christs
and false prophets performing great miracles and wonder. It is nearly impossible for the story
of Simon the Sorcerer not to come into mind. Simon was a false prophet who performed magic
and deceived many people during the ministry of Philip the evangelist (Acts 8:9-25).
“‘For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the
coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather’”
(Matthew 24:27-28). The parousia of the Son of Man will be so significant that everyone will
know what is happening. The objects of the Judge’s wrath are compared to a dead body. There
will be no escape.
Excursus II: The Role of Paul in the Great Commission
The function of Paul’s ministry cannot be ignored in any discussion of eschatology.
Jesus declared that this bigoted Pharisee was his own special instrument to carry the gospel to
the nations (Acts 9:15). Decades after being committed with that task, Paul proclaimed that he
had completed the course given to him by the Lord: “I have fought the good fight, I have
finished the course, I have kept the faith” (1 Timothy 4:7). See the comparative chart below.
The gospel will be preached in all nations,
Gk. word ethnos (Mt. 24:14)
The gospel had gone to all nations, Gk. word
ethnos (Rom. 1:5, 16:26)
The gospel will be preached in all the earth,
Gk. word gé ( Acts 1:8)
The gospel had reached the entire earth, Gk.
word gé ( Rom. 10:18)
The gospel will be preached in all the world,
Gk. word kosmos (Mk. 16:15a)
The gospel had been taken to all the world,
Gk. word kosmos ( Col. 1:6)
The gospel will be preached to all creation,
Gk. word ktisis (Mk. 16:15b)
The gospel had been declared in all creation,
Gk. word ktisis (Col. 1:23)
The Greek words that Jesus used to predict the gospel reaching all nations, the entire
earth, the whole world, and every creature, are the same words which Paul used to declare that
the mission was finished.20 St. Chrysostom acknowledged this: “[...]that before the taking of
Jerusalem the gospel was preached [everywhere], hear what Paul saith, ‘Their sound went into
all the earth;’ and again, ‘The gospel which was preached to every creature which is under
Heaven.’ And seest thou him running from Jerusalem unto Spain? And if one took so large a
portion, consider what the rest also wrought. For writing to others also, Paul again saith
concerning the gospel, that ‘it is bringing forth fruit, and growing up in every creature which is
And Jesus said that the completion of this mission would immediately precede the end
of the age, his parousia (Matthew 24:14). If the end has not yet come, then there has been a
gap of so far two millennia between the completion of the great commission and the end of the
Obviously, the gospel had not reached the entire globe, but that was not the purpose of the great commission; it
only needed to reach the known world for the judgment of God to come.
Schaff, Philip. “Fathers Series I, Volume 10.”
age, meanwhile Jesus said the end would come immediately after the gospel had reached all
the nations of the world.
It is interesting that Jesus predicted the gospel would reach all peoples before the fall of
Jerusalem in his generation, because John envisioned an identical scene. According to John’s
prophecy, the everlasting gospel would reach all nations of the world, after which Babylon the
Great would be judged by God. “And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an
eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue
and people; and he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of
His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs
of waters.’ And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the
great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality’”
(Revelation 14:6-8). Jerusalem would fall after worldwide evangelism; Babylon would also fall
after worldwide evangelism. Babylon was Jerusalem.
Paul’s ministry is therefore vital in interpreting the Olivet discourse. The mission which
he completed was necessary for God to bring judgment on the world. That is why Paul’s
eschatological message was, “[...]He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in
righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by
raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
Excursus III: Tribulation, then Resurrection
One cannot dichotomize between the great tribulation and the resurrection; the
resurrection of the dead was always, in Jewish belief,22 the reward of the righteous who had
Just because the Jews were wrong about many things, it does not mean they were wrong about everything. One
must not forget that the Pharisees held in common with Jesus the belief that there is but one God, that there is a
resurrection, and that there is an afterlife.
suffered during the tribulation. Scripture is clear on this: “Now at that time, Michael, the great
prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of
distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your
people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Many of those who sleep
in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and
everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:1-2). Preston says, “Simply stated, in Jewish expectation,
based on the OT prophecies, t he resurrection of the dead was to come immediately after[...]the
Great Tribulation” (emphasis his).23 Catholic scholar Brant Pitre concurs, “Strikingly, this
description of the resurrection is preceded by the Great Tribulation.”24 Therefore, to prove that
the great tribulation occurred in the first-century is to prove that the resurrection of the dead
was in the first-century.
Paul said he rejoiced in tribulation and suffering (Romans 5:3-5). He also said that the
Thessalonians were being troubled by the Jews (2 Thessalonians 1:6). He claimed to be the
suffering servant whom God was using to fill up that which was lacking in Christ’s suffering
(Colossians 1:24). Peter the apostle said that the diaspora25 s aints were enduring fiery trials (1
Peter 4:12). And John said in explicit terms that he and the seven Asian churches were in the
midst of “the tribulation” (Revelation 1:9). This all makes sense since Jesus predicted that the
tribulation would be in his generation (Matthew 24:20-34). Thus Dr. Kenneth Gentry is
justified in saying, “Copious, clear and compelling evidence demonstrates that the great
Preston, Don. The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2: Fulfilled or Future?
Pitre, Brant. Jesus, The Tribulation and the End of Exile.
Gk. word meaning, “dispersed,” or “scattered.” It is used in the N.T. to refer to the ten northern tribes of Israel
that were exiled abroad by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. They were primarily concentrated in Judea, Syria, Asia
Minor, Greece, Illyria, and Italy. It is no surprise, then, that these are the regions Paul visited on his missionary
tribulation occurs in the first century.”26 Chrysostom also believed that the tribulation which
Jesus predicted pertained to the events of the Jewish-Roman war: “Seest thou that His
discourse is addressed to the Jews, and that He is speaking of the ills that should overtake
them?”27 Unfortunately, he did not make the obvious connection that the resurrection of the
dead must have also been at that time.
Thus, it can be said with all confidence that the resurrection of the dead, regardless of
whether it is spiritual or physical, occurred in relation to the collapse of the Jewish economy in
A.D. 70. To deny this is to deny that the tribulation was in the first-century, and to deny that
the tribulation was in the first-century is to deny Scripture and the antiquitous testimony of the
Gentry, Kenneth. He Shall Have Dominion.
Schaff, Philip. “Fathers Series I, Volume 10.”
The Parousia of the Son of Man
“‘But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the
moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens
will be shaken’” (Matthew 24:29). Immediately after the tribulation, the order of the cosmos
will be reversed. Heaven and earth will be destroyed. Just as with the resurrection of the dead,
to prove that the tribulation occurred in the first-century is to prove inexorably that the
destruction of “heaven and earth” (whatever that may refer to) also happened in the
“‘And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of
the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with
power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will
gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other’” (Matthew
24:30-31). The title “Son of Man” finds its origin in a prophecy from the book of Daniel. After
witnessing a vision of four ungodly beasts wreaking havoc on God’s people, Daniel sees a
divine figure coming to judge the fourth, most terrible beast: “I kept looking in the night
visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He
came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him” (Daniel 7:13). A more likely
rendition which comes from the Septuagint of this text is, “[...]and he came up as the Ancient
of Days,” meaning that the Son of Man is the Ancient of Days who is coming down from
heaven to judge the beast.28 In Matthew 23, Jesus expressed his desire to gather Jerusalem
“Aquinas Study Bible.” Patristic Bible Commentary.
Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.
together like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but they refused. In the
destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus still does not fail to gather his elect to himself. Paul says this is
the time when they will forever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Excursus IV: The Nature of the Eschaton
The Olivet discourse is important because of its Old Testament background and usage
of metaphors and idioms found therein. When one compares the terminology Jesus uses to that
of the prophets, it becomes clear that Jesus was using metaphoric and hyperbolic language in
It was not at all uncommon for the prophets to depict the Father as descending from
heaven upon a cloud. It was hebraic apocalyptic language used to speak of the judgment of
nations, cities, and kings.
See for example Micah 1, which is a prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586
B.C.: “For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on
the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split,
Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. All this is for the rebellion of
Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria?
What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?” (vv. 3-5).
In another prophecy of the judgment of Judah in 586 B.C. at the hands of the
Babylonians, Zephaniah says, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of
the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests” (Zephaniah
1:7 KJV). God’s presence was made known in Judah’s judgment.
Isaiah 19 is very similar. It is a prophecy of the judgment of Egypt: “The oracle
concerning Egypt. Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt;
The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt
within them” (v. 1). In the Septuagint version of this passage, the Greek word for “presence”
used is prosópon, which literally means “face.” Egypt was humbled at the face of Yahweh.
Also common was the practice of describing the destruction of a nation as the very
destruction of heaven and earth itself.
Speaking of the judgment of Judah in 586 B.C., Jeremiah the prophet said, “I looked on
the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; And to the heavens, and they had no light. I
looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, And all the hills moved to and fro. I
looked, and behold, there was no man, And all the birds of the heavens had fled. I looked, and
behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness, And all its cities were pulled down Before the Lord,
before His fierce anger” (Jeremiah 4:23-26 NASB).
The restoration of Zion back to God is depicted as the creation of the universe: “I have
put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish
the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people’” (Isaiah 51:16).
The judgment of Israel for breaking the covenant is seen by the people as the removal
of the earth: “Behold, the Lord lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface and
scatters its inhabitants” (Isaiah 24:1). The metaphoric nature of these verses cannot be missed.
The Terminal Generation
“‘Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender
and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these
things, recognize that He is near, right at the door’” (Matthew 24:32-33). The fulfillment of all
these signs points to the fact that Christ’s parousia is very near, so near that one could say it
was knocking at the door. It must not be ignored, then, that James the brother of Jesus said
exactly that: Christ’s coming was near, and he was standing at the door. “You too be patient;
strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against
one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at
the door” (James 5:8-9).
“‘Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take
place’” (Matthew 24:34). To leave no room for doubt, Jesus said that his coming would occur
within his generation. Jesus also said that his generation was the time when the writings of all
the prophets would be fulfilled (Luke 21:22). John Bray, commenting on Luke, says “Notice
that he said THESE were the days when all things which were written were to be fulfilled. Not
some other days hundreds of years later” (emphasis his).29
“‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day
and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone’”
(Matthew 24:35-36). While “heaven and earth,” which is a reference to Jerusalem, will pass
away, the words of Jesus will not pass away. The old covenant said, “If you commit sin, you
will die.” The new covenant says, “If you die to sin, you will live forever.” One law passed
Bray, John. Matthew 24 Fulfilled.
away, the other is eternal and abides until today. Concerning the exact timing of the passing of
heaven and earth, however, even Jesus did not know. That does not, however, mean that he did
not believe it would happen in his generation. One must remember that Jesus did not even
know the day on which Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies, yet most agree he said it
would happen in his generation. The destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of those armies was
the passing of the heavens and earth contemplated by Jesus in this text.
Excursus V: The Nearness of the Eschaton
Jesus and his apostles were unwavering in their proclamation that the end of the age,
the eschaton, was coming very soon; it would be in their lifetime. Four times, Jesus said that
his parousia would be in his generation (Matthew 10:23, 16:28, 24:34, Mark 8:38). He said
that it would occur in relation to the fall of the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-3). Peter
said that Christ was ready to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5). He also said that the
end of all things had drawn near (1 Peter 4:7), and that the time for the judgment had arrived (1
Peter 4:17). James said that the last days were present in his own day (James 5:3). He also said
that Christ’s coming had drawn near (James 5:8), and that Jesus was right at the door (James
5:9). The book of Hebrews says that Jesus was going to come in a very, very little while, and
that he would not delay in doing so (Hebrews 10:37).
The book of Revelation contains more than twenty affirmations that the end of the age
had arrived and that Christ was soon to come (some of which are Revelation 1:1, 3, 2:16, 3:11,
6:11, 10:6, 11:14, 14:7, 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20). In fact, John knew it was so near that he
commanded Christians to let wicked people remain wicked (Revelation 22:10-12). While
Daniel the prophet knew that the fulfillment of his prophecy was far off from his own
generation, and thus had to seal the words of his book (Daniel 8:26, 12:4), John was told that
his predictions would come to pass soon, and thus was commanded not to seal the words of his
book (Revelation 22:9-12). To ignore this mountain of evidence concerning the timing of the
end of the age displays a blatant lack of concern for the explicit teaching of Scripture. Rogers
states, “[...]the conclusion that Paul expected a soon-to-come parousia is unavoidable.”30
Rogers, Daniel. Thessalonians.
The Days of Noah
“‘For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those
days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the
day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them
all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be’” (Matthew 24:37-39). The parousia will be
like the flood in the days of Noah according to Jesus. Just as the flood came unexpectedly, so
too will the Son of Man come when no one is expecting it. Another similarity is that the flood
came within the generation which Noah started building his ark,31 and the parousia likewise
would happen in the generation of Jesus’ apostles (v. 34).
“‘Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two
women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left’” (Matthew
24:40-41). Just as the flood took away the wicked in the days of Noah, the wicked will be
taken away by the Son of Man when he comes. This is not a prediction of a rapture.
“‘Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But
be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was
coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken
into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you
do not think He will’” (Matthew 24:42-44). The Son of Man will come like a thief in the night.
Compare to Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:2) and particularly Peter’s statement that the destruction of
heaven and earth would be like a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10). Jesus’ parousia like a thief in
Hodge, Bodie. “How Long Did It Take for Noah to Build the Ark?” Answers in Genesis. 1 Jun. 2010.
https://answersingenesis.org/bible-timeline/how-long-did-it-take-for-noah-to-build-the-ark/. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.
the night would be in the first-century. Jesus’ parousia w
ould be at the time of the destruction
of heaven and earth. Therefore, heaven and earth would be destroyed in the first-century.
Excursus VI: Noah as a Type of Jesus
There are a few notable similarities between Noah and Jesus/Jesus’ apostles. Noah’s
name means “rest” in Hebrew (Genesis 5:29); Jesus is the sabbath rest of the believer
(Hebrews 4). Noah called every creature under heaven into his ark so they could be saved
(Genesis 7:2-3); Paul preached the gospel to every creature under heaven (Colossians 1:23).
The flood came in Noah’s generation; The last judgment came in Jesus’ generation (Matthew
The Parable of the Servant
“‘Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his
household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master
finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his
possessions’” (Matthew 24:45-47). The slave is most likely the apostle Peter. He is the one
who was committed with the task of feeding the flock of God in the absence of Jesus (John
21:17). Broadly speaking, all ministers of the church were committed with feeding the saints at
the proper time (Acts 20:28).
“‘But if that evil slave says in his heart, “My master is not coming for a long time,” and
begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will
come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will
cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 24:48-51). A few decades after Jesus ascended into
heaven, there were Jews in the church beginning to grumble and complain that the Lord had
not yet come. They began to mock the prospect of Christ’s soon return and said that nothing
was going to change (2 Peter 3:3-4). They were not ready for Christ’s coming.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
“‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps
and went out to meet the bridegroom’” (Matthew 25:1). Jesus’ use of the motif of marriage is
not coincidental. The Old Testament foresaw a time when God would remarry Israel and
integrate the gentiles into his people (Hosea 2:19-23). The bridegroom in this parable is none
other than God himself. Bailey notes that the motif of the wedding banquet was to align with
the appearance of Messiah. He says, “This banquet theme was developed in the
intertestamental period, and understood to be related to the coming of the Messiah[...]”32
“‘Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their
lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.
Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep’” (Matthew
25:2-5). The bridegroom delayed. God apparently does use language pertaining to time
consistently. When he says that something was delayed, it was delayed. When he says there
will no longer be delay, there will no longer be delay (Hebrews 10:37, Revelation 10:6).
“‘But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. ”
Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, “Give us
some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the prudent answered, “No, there will not
be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves”’”
(Matthew 25:6-9). The Greek word for “meet” here is apantésis. This word is used in ancient
contexts of a royal dignitary. Crag Keener notes, “When paired with a royal ‘coming’[...]the
word for ‘meeting’ in the air normally referred to emissaries from a city going out to meet the
Bailey, Kenneth. Through Peasant Eyes.
dignitary and escort him on his way to their city.”33 This has significant implications for the
doctrine of the rapture. Once the virgins met the bridegroom they escorted him to the wedding
“‘And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and
those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the
other virgins also came, saying, “Lord, lord, open up for us.” But he answered, “Truly I say to
you, I do not know you.” Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour’”
(Matthew 25:10-13). When the foolish virgins were attending to other activities, the
bridegroom came unexpectedly and took the wise virgins into the wedding hall.
Excursus VII: The Rapture
It is popularly believed, mostly in American churches, that at Jesus’ coming, he will
transport the saints of all the ages into the atmosphere and take them back to heaven. This is
the exact opposite of what the “rapture passage” of 1 Thessalonians 4 teaches. The plan of God
in eschatology is to reunite heaven and earth, not to remove man from earth: “with a view to an
administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in
Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth[...]” (Ephesians 1:10).
When Paul said that the saints would be caught together34 with Christ in the air, he was
saying that the saints would be gathered into one place in the spiritual realm. “Air,” from the
Greek word aér, does not refer to the atmosphere in this context. It is often used to speak of the
spiritual realm inhabited by demons (Ephesians 2:2). At his parousia, Christ would conquer the
Keener, Crag. IVP Biblical Background Commentary: New Testament.
The preposition “up” is not in the Gk. There is no direction indicated.
demonic realm and make it the home of the faithful. He would demonstrate himself to be the
only wise potentate (1 Timothy 1:17) in doing so.
Christians, whether dead or alive (1 Thessalonians 5:10), now have access to the
spiritual realm of God, and enjoy eternal fellowship and life with him in the new creation.
There is no wonder Jesus called the message of Jerusalem’s imminent destruction “good news”
for the believer (Matthew 24:14). With the fall of the old Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem was
fully established. Preston argues, “Revelation is a contrast between two cities, Babylon, and the
new Jerusalem. We suggest that the emphasis on the new J erusalem demands that Babylon is
the old Jerusalem” (emphasis his).35
Excursus VIII: The Role of Paul in the Remarriage of Israel
Just as Paul’s role in worldwide evangelism shows that biblical eschatology pertains to
first-century events surrounding Israel, so too does his role in the renewal of Israel, Zion,
drastically affect what someone believes about eschatology. While the external form of Israel
was predetermined to be destroyed by God, there was a remnant according to grace who would
be saved, and that remnant was in existence in Paul’s generation: “In the same way then, there
has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice”
(Romans 11:5). Paul himself claimed to be a member of that remnant party (Romans 11:1ff).36
This remnant of old covenant Israel, combined with a harvest from the gentiles, formed the
body of Christ in the first-century, and is the renewed Israel. Ethnic Israel of the old covenant
was being born again into new life in the Messiah (John 3), in whom there are no ethnic or
class structure divisions (Colossians 3:11). Peter preached to Israelites from every nation under
Preston, Don. Babylon.
From this it can be deduced that the other apostles and their Jewish converts were also members of the remnant,
since they were faithful Israelites who had accepted the Messiah at the right time just like Paul.
heaven (Acts 2:5), and they accepted Christ and were baptized (Acts 2:38-41). In an e-mail
correspondence with Dr. William Bell, he commented on those who were present at Pentecost
by saying, “[...]all twelve tribes were included in those gathered at Pentecost.”37
The 144,000 Israelites from Revelation comprise the faithful remnant. Not just Jews,
these Hebrews were selected from all twelve tribes of Israel, even the ones which had been
scattered abroad for centuries. James wrote to the twelve dispersed tribes and said that they
were the firstfruits harvested from the earth (James 1:18), which corresponds to Revelation
14:4 where the 144,000 are called the firstfruits of men redeemed by the Lamb. Also similar is
the fact that James’ Hebrew Christian audience was enduring tribulation (James 1:2), and the
144,000 came out of the tribulation (Revelation 7:14). The fact that the remnant of Israel was
in existence in the first-century thus proves that the tribulation was in the first-century. And as
seen in Excursus III, since the tribulation was in the first-century, the resurrection of the dead
also must have occurred at that time. The message of the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, Peter,
James, Paul, and John is a united message; it was good news for Israel and the gentiles, and to
postpone it by thousands upon thousands of years is to do a great disservice to the gospel of
Christ. The good news is that Israel was about to inherit her long-awaited kingdom. Kenneth
Bailey notes, “[...]Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom[...]was being realized in and through his
ministry.”38 Jesus came to establish the kingdom, and he did not fail (see Isaiah 42:4).
To return to the subject of Israel being present at Pentecost, it must be noted that the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit at that time was the sign that Zion’s redemption had begun.
Centuries earlier, the prophet Joel predicted that in the last days, God would restore Israel by
Bell, William. “Re: Paul’s epistles/diaspora.”
Bailey, Kenneth. Poet & Peasant.
giving her his Spirit: “‘It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all
mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your
young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28). Peter said that Joel’s prediction was fulfilled (Acts
2:17). Ezekiel envisioned the same thing when he was in exile in Babylon: “‘Then you will
know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of
your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will
place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,’
declares the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:13-14). The presence of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit was
God’s guarantee that he was in fact fulfilling his ancient promises (Ephesians 1:14). Preston
comments on the importance of Paul’s mission, “[...]Paul is the central player in the mystery.
He tells us, emphatically, that it was his office to bring the mystery to its consummation”
(emphasis his).39 Johannes Munck assigns to Paul a role supreme among the apostles: “Paul
regards himself as the one on whom the arrival of the Messianic age depends.”40 To ignore the
eschatological function of Paul’s office is to miss all of biblical eschatology.
Preston, Don. Babylon.
Munck, Johannes. Paul and the Salvation of Mankind.
The Parable of the Talents
This is a difficult parable to understand and interpret. Bailey serves wonderfully here,
as he was a renowned parable scholar who lived much of his life among middle eastern
peasants. This parable has been twisted by many modern interpreters to be a support of
capitalism, which Bailey dispels.41
“‘For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and
entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another,
one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who
had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the
same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received
the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.’”
(Matthew 25:14-18). The man, presumably Jesus, has to go on a journey and gives money to
his slaves so that they can serve him faithfully in his absence. Bailey observes, “Herod the
Great made a trip to Rome in 40 B.C. seeking a Roman appointment as king, and his son,
Archelaus, made a similar journey in 4 B.C. to argue his case against his half-brother, Antipas.
Thus, Jesus uses a political scene familiar to his audience as a background for this parable.”42
Jesus is juxtaposing himself with the supposed lords of the Roman empire. He is the true king,
and the rest are frauds. He is going to come back as a Roman ruler would, presumably with his
own armies. This is a strong allusion to the surrounding of Jerusalem by the Roman armies
depicted in Luke 21:20. Rather than advocating for capitalism, Jesus is here encouraging his
Bailey, Kenneth. “Capitalism and the Parable of the Talents.”
disciples to be faithful even when they are being persecuted. If the master were truly concerned
with his financial income, he would not have given his money to his slaves; he would have
given it to the bank so that he could have eventually recollected it with interest (Matthew
25:27). He wants to see if his slaves will engage in financial transactions while he is gone,
because, if they do, then it is proof that they are loyal to him. They risked being put to death by
demonstrating their faithfulness in their master. Thus, the slave who hid one of his talents in
the ground was not condemned for wasting the master’s finances, but for being afraid to serve
“‘Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with
them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying,
“Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.” His master said
to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you
in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Also the one who had received the
two talents came up and said, “Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two
more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful
with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master”’”
(Matthew 25:19-23). Notice that the master, upon his return, is not at all concerned with the
state of his money. He simply wishes to see how faithful his servants have been.
“‘And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, “Master, I knew
you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no
seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is
yours.” But his master answered and said to him, “You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I
reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my
money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For to
everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who
does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into
the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”’” (Matthew
25:24-30). The master loses no money from the wicked slave. This makes it clear that he is not
at all worried about his finances. He only has patience for loyal subjects who will serve him
unto death, not cowards who fall short in a small task. The wicked slave is said to experience
“weeping and gnashing of teeth,” which calls to mind what Jesus said to the Jews about their
impending doom: “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see
Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being
thrown out” (Luke 13:28). Abraham and all the righteous saints of the Old Testament would
populate the kingdom of God at the time of the casting out of the Jews, which, by common
consent, was in A.D. 70. Therefore, the resurrection of the saints into the kingdom was in A.D.
70. Of necessity, it must also be true that the coming of Jesus illustrated in this parable was
also in A.D. 70.
The Parable of the Sheep and Goats
“‘But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He
will sit on His glorious throne’” (Matthew 25:31). Just as the Pharisees sat themselves in the
seat of Moses, the Son of Man will sit upon his glorious throne in judgment of those
“‘All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one
another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His
right, and the goats on the left’” (Matthew 25:32-33). The judgment of the nations will also
happen at this time. While the whole world is to be judged, the theater as it were will be the
land of Israel. “I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
Then I will enter into judgment with them there On behalf of My people and My inheritance,
Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land” (Joel
“‘Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”’” (Matthew
25:34). The kingdom was not literally been prepared since the beginning of time; rather, God
predetermined that he would create a kingdom for man. Jesus is the Lamb slain from the
foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) in that his sacrifice was foreordained since the
beginning of time, not that he died on the cross at that time.
“‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something t o eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me
something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was
sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me’” (Matthew 25:35-36). These
nations are being judged upon the basis of their treatment of Jesus. The righteous are
commended for taking care of Jesus in his time of need.
“‘Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed
You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and
invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to
You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it
to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me”’” (Matthew
25:37-40). They did not literally take care of Jesus; they took care of his followers, specifically
his apostles. No one else in all the gospels is ever called Jesus’ brother in the spiritual sense
than his twelve apostles (Luke 8:21). This is proof that the final judgment was to occur in the
first-century. The nations are to be judged upon the basis of how they treated the apostles of
Jesus, but they have been dead for thousands of years.
“‘Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the
eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you
gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and
you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not
visit Me.” Then they themselves also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or
thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” Then He
will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of
these, you did not do it to Me.” These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous
into eternal life’” (Matthew 25:41-46). The fire of gehenna43 is prepared for the people who
Gk. word for “hell.” Used to refer to a place of destruction and darkness.
have spited and killed the apostles of Jesus. Those who stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:59)
would be judged; those who nearly killed Paul by stoning (Acts 14:19) would be condemned.
They treated the apostles as strangers in a foreign land.
These ten scriptural motifs could be expounded even more, but it has already been
proven that the coming of the Lord, the resurrection, and the new creation were fulfilled in the
first-century events leading up to the fall of the temple in A.D. 70. More could be said of Paul
and his prophetic significance, the rapture, and the resurrection of the dead, but suffice it to say
that these in and of themselves demonstrate the truth of Covenant Eschatology. There is no
excuse other than fable and tradition for believing in a yet future coming of the Lord Jesus,
because he is already here in his body, the church.
Excursus IX: New Jerusalem
In John’s vision of the new heaven and earth, he saw the new Jerusalem, which is the
new tabernacle of God (Revelation 21:1-3a). The destruction of the old Jerusalem means that
everlasting life in the new Jerusalem has been made accessible. This Jerusalem is home to
waters of life, as well as a tree of life, to which believers in God’s Son, the Shepherd, have
been granted access (Revelation 7:17). In him, no one hungers, thirsts, mourns, or dies
anymore (John 6:35, 11:26, Revelation 7:15-16). Christ is the tabernacle of God (John 2:21,
Ephesians 2:22, Colossians 2:9).
If Christ did not fulfill his word at the time he said he would do so, then he is not Deity.
He would either be a failure, a liar, or a misguided, albeit zealous, end-time prophet. Jesus
himself said that his identity is grounded squarely upon whether he carries out the works of his
Father: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me” (John 10:37). If Christ has
not come as he said he would, none of his divine claims about himself are true, including his
claim that he would be raised from the dead three days after his execution; if Christ was not
raised from the dead, then the faith of every Christian for the past two-thousand years has been
empty and useless (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). The fulfillment of biblical prophecy is extremely
important to the validity of Christianity.
Peter calls this new creation the place where righteousness makes its home (2 Peter
3:13). Inhabitants of a righteous kingdom ought to perform works of righteousness and not be
corrupted by the power of sin (Ephesians 4:22). It is because of Jesus that we can be counted as
sinless (1 John 3:6-9), since he bore the sin of man on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).44 And since the
penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23), Christians are unable to taste death. Through Christ,
victory over sin and death has been accomplished (1 Corinthians 15:56-57). Because of Jesus’
sacrificial death, anyone, regardless of race, gender, and social status, can have a place in
God’s eternal kingdom right now (Galatians 3:28). That is good news.
This is not to say that Christians do not sin. However, they are seen as sinless in the eyes of God because of
Christ’s righteousness. The words of the prophets ring true: “‘[...]And this is His name by which He will be called,
“The Lord our righteousness”’” (Jer. 23:6).
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