THE DISCIPLES’ CONFUSION AT OLIVET (3)

PMW 2019-004 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the third installment in a four-part series on the disciples’ two questions to Jesus in Matt. 24:3: 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?'”

I have been showing that throughout his ministry the disciples display confusion regarding his teaching. I believe this explains why they are confused with his short prophecy in Matt. 24:2.

You need to read the two prior articles before reading this one. I will wait a few minutes to give you the time. . . . . There, that should do it.

My previous articles

In the two previous articles I point out:

First, regarding the whole Gospel record: we learn that the disciples have a history of confusion regarding Jesus’ teaching and action. Their confusion is such that they even rebuke Jesus! What is worse, they miss the central point of his First Coming (his incarnation): his redemptive purpose in coming, which requires his death, burial, and resurrection. Sadly, they resist his teaching on the subject. No small mistake!

Second, regarding the Olivet Discourse setting: we see that they import their own thoughts into their questions to Jesus (Matt. 24:3). And their thoughts are not linked to anything he has just stated. Their question brings up his parousia and “the end of the age.” Yet he mentions neither of these in his preceding lengthy denunciation of the Pharisees (Matt. 23), which leads up to the Discourse. Nor do these issues appear in Jesus’ prophecy of the temple’s destruction itself (Matt. 24:2), which sparks their inquiry.


Dispensational Distortions
Three Lectures by Kenneth Gentry. Reformed introduction to classic dispensationalism, with analysis of leading flaws regarding the Church, kingdom, redemptive history, and Christ. Helpful for demonstrating errors to dispensationalists.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


In this article we will see how the Discourse which follows deals with their confusion.

Jesus dispels confusion

As the Discourse begins, the Lord’s opening comment in his response to their question is to warn them against being misled. This is vitally important since they are so prone to confusion: “see to it that no one misleads you” (Matt. 24:4). He warns them of coming deception that they must not fall for: false christs who will “mislead” many (Matt. 24:5), wars that do not signal the end (Matt. 24:6), and false prophets who will arise and mislead so many (Matt. 24:11). In fact, he is so concerned for his disciples in light of their frequent confusion that he comes back around to warning them once again of false christs (Matt. 24:23–24), though he has already done that in vv. 4–5.

Significantly, he teaches that the danger at the parousia will not be false christs who will deceive and confuse. Rather, the danger regarding the parousia will be that they have not lived in a state of daily, long-term readiness through obedient service. The danger is not that they will be confused about this universal, instantaneous event. Let me explain.

Jesus underscores his warnings regarding the danger of their potential confusion prior to the temple’s destruction. He does this by stating that his parousia will be impossible to miss: “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” (Matt. 24:27). Lightning bolts are not subtle and easily overlooked!

Consequently, the warnings of deception (Matt. 24:4, 5, 11, 24) and statements regarding “when you see” (Matt. 24:15, 33) occur only while answering their first question (that is, these occur before Matt. 24:36). The second section (after Matt. 24:36) will require their long-term, constant, daily readiness because Christ will return without any signs of forewarning (Matt. 24:42, 43; 25:13). “Readiness” translates the Greek gregoreo, which does not mean “to look and see,” but “to be awake, alert and thus prepared.”


An Eschatology of Victory
by J. Marcellus Kik
This book presents a strong, succinct case for both optimistic postmillennialism and for orthodox preterism. An early proponent in the late Twentieth-century revival of postmillennialism. One of the better non-technical studies of Matt. 24. It even includes a strong argument for a division between AD 70 and the Second Advent beginning at Matt. 24:36.

For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com


So then, he gives the disciples signs to watch for in answering their first question regarding “when these things” (that he has just prophesied, Matt. 24:2) will happen. Two of the signs are quite distinct and greatly emphasized: (1) “When you see the abomination of desolation … standing in the holy place” (Matt. 24:15) and (2) “then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven” (Matt. 24:30).

Upon mentioning these two key signs, he answers their question as to “when” these things will happen: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt. 24:32–34 KJV).

Conclusion

Thus, we have further evidence that the disciples are confused about Jesus’ prophecy in Matt. 24:2. And their confusion is shared by many Christians still today. Jesus answers both of their questions in a way that shows they involve distinct periods of time. I will conclude this series in my next article.


JESUS, MATTHEW, AND OLIVET
I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.

If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!


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