PMW 2020-020 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
The Issue before Us
This is the third installment in a series highlighting the Disciples’ confusion regarding Jesus’ prophecy of the temple’s destruction. As proud first-century Jews and slow-learning Disciples, they assume that the temple’s destruction would signal the end of the world, that is, that it would occur at the parousia at “the end of the age” (Matt. 24:3).
My previous two articles were spent setting-up this study on the Disciples’ confusion. I am now ready to directly demonstrate what many evangelical Narrative Critics and orthodox preterists have argued regarding the Disciples as presented in Matthew’s Gospel: Though they spent three years of intensive instruction under Jesus’ ministry, they were too often mistaken in their defective perception of Jesus’ message.
This problem has eschatological significance in that it directly impacts their question in Matthew 24:3 — and our proper understanding of Jesus’ answer in Matt. 24:4–25:46. Most Christians are wholly confused regarding Jesus’ instruction in the Olivet Discourse, more technically known as the Eschatological Discourse. This is because far too many American Christians are caught up in Dispensationalism. But even many who have either avoided or finally escaped the Dispensational system are also confused about the structure of the full Olivet Discourse. They confuse the theological relationship between AD 70 and the Final Judgment by misunderstanding the historical disjunction between the two events.
Matthew 24 Debate: Past or Future?
(DVD by Ken Gentry and Thomas Ice)
Two hour public debate between Ken Gentry and Thomas Ice on the Olivet Discourse.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
The Disciples are major characters in the Gospel’s historical narrative. It is important that we watch them and then listen to Jesus’ response to them. We want to share their love of Christ but avoid their misunderstanding of his teaching. We need to learn from their experience. For though they receive Christ’s revelation, they falter in their understanding of it, causing them often both to fail him and to misunderstand his teaching.
We need to understand that there is a reason why Jesus does not call on them to “teach” people during his ministry. Notice the conspicuous absence of teaching from his original commission (Matt. 10:1). They were to proclaim the presence of the kingdom, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons (10:1, 7–8). But they are never told to teach; Jesus has reserved teaching to himself for the time being. It is not until he has finished his ministry with them that he finally gives them the commission to “teach” (Matt. 28:18–20). For they were not ready to do so earlier — due to their constant misunderstanding.
The Issue’s Evidence
So new let us begin a brief survey of some evidence of this problem.
In Matt. 8:23–25 the Disciples become terrified when a storm tosses their ship on the sea. Jesus rebukes them, saying: “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith” (v. 26a). Then he arises and stops the storm (v. 26b). At this the Disciples are “amazed” and exclaim: “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (v. 27).
Their problem is that they do not understand the extent of Jesus’ authority and power. They do not understand his authority over all things — despite having just witnessed remarkable miracles in the healing of a leper (Matt. 8:2–3), a centurion’s paralyzed servant (vv. 5-13), the fever of the first Pope’s mother-in-law (vv. 14–15), and many who were demon-possessed and ill (v. 16). Thus, Jesus declares they are men of “little faith” (Matt. 8:26) — for not understanding the extent of his authority and power.
In Matt. 14:25–31 Jesus walks on the water (v. 25) and bid Peter to do so (vv. 28–29). But after Peter walks toward Jesus on the water, he begins to sink (vv. 29–30). Jesus reaches out to rescue him and says to him: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v. 31; cp. 16:8). Here Peter does not understand the extent of Jesus’ authority and power. And this problem will arise again and again, despite their recent declaration to Christ: “You are certainly God’s Son” (Matt. 14:33).
In Matt. 15:15–20, Peter speaks for the Disciples after a brief parable given by Christ (v. 11). He expresses confusion, which elicits an annoyed response from Jesus: “Peter said to Him, ‘Explain the parable to us.’ Jesus said, ‘Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?’” Again we see Jesus rebuking the Disciples for a “lacking in understanding.”
In Matt. 15:32–39, the Disciples express dismay that 4000 people have come to hear Jesus speak, since they do not have enough food to give them (v. 33). And they say this despite his earlier miraculous feeding of the 5000 (Matt. 14:13–21)! They do not understand Jesus’ authority and power to feed the masses, even though they saw him do so once before.
Prophecy Studies (4 downloadable mp3s)
by Ken Gentry
Dispensationalism dominates the evangelical market regarding eschatological discussions. But dispensationalism is radically mistaken regarding the eschatology of Scripture. In this series not only is dispensationalism analyzed, but also the postmillennial eschatology of the Psalms, and a preterist analysis of Revelation.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
In Matt. 16:6 Jesus warns them: “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” But then we read of their radical misunderstanding of his statement and Jesus’ rebuke of them:
“They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, ‘He said that because we did not bring any bread.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees’” (Matt. 16:7–11).
After this rebuke they finally understand him: “Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt. 16:12).
In Matt. 16:16 Peter makes a bold and dramatic declaration of faith in response to a question from Jesus. “He said to them,’Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” But after this marvelous declaration of faith, we read the following just five verses later In Matt. 16:21 Jesus began “to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” But what was their response?
They did not understand it! For immediately we read: “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You’” (v. 22). Then we read Jesus’ reply: “He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (v. 23). Talk about a misunderstanding on the Disciples’ part!
To this we shall return next time! See you then!
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!