GIBBS, MATT 24:3 AND THE DISCIPLES

Introduction by Ken Gentry

I have mentioned several times in various postings how much I appreciate the exegetical work on Matthew by Jeffrey A. Gibbs. Gibbs is a professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He earned his Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va. (1995). His three volume commentary on Matthew is one of the best evangelical works on this Gospel. I highly recommend this commentary and the one by R. T. France as the best you can get.

I will be citing several paragraphs from Gibbs’ analysis of Matthew 24:3, which he titles “The Disciples’ Confusion.” This material is drawn from his third volume on Matthew: Matthew 21:1–28:20 (Saint Louis: Concordia, 2018, pp. 1252–54). This will supplement my study on the Disciples’ confusion in several recent PostmillennialWorldview postings. Gibbs is the commentator who put me on this trail!

The following paragraphs are from Gibbs

Jeffrey A. Gibbs, Matthew 21:1–28:20 (pp. 1252–54)

As the royal Son of God was leaving the temple precincts, his disciples approached him with a purpose On one level, Matthew describes that purpose in a neutral way; they approach Jesus ‘to show’ him the structures that were part of the magnificent edifice and courtyard (24:1). On another level, however, a careful reader might easily regard the disciples with some suspicion. Jesus has just predicted that the sanctuary will be left desolate (23:38); what can the disciples now mean by ‘showing’ him the buildings of the temple precincts?


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


Jesus responds to their action of ‘showing’ with a strong ‘telling.’ In 24:2, Jesus clarifies and specifies the meaning of 23:38. What will it mean for ‘your house’ to be left as desolate (23:38)? It will surely mean the destruction of the very buildings they have now shown Jesus.

What do the disciples now make of Jesus’ prophecy in 24:2? Once again, Matthew gives us no inside view of their thinking, and we are left with careful reading of what the evangelist does give us. As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, presumably with the temple precincts in plain view, the disciples again ‘approached him’ (proselthon) and asked a double question, or rather, two questions (24:3). Here is even more reason to regard the disciples’ understanding as faulty. Note three features in and around 24:3.

First, Matthew has repeatedly narrated times when the disciples (or one or another of them) approached Jesus to say something or to ask a question. In one instance (and only one), the disciples are portrayed as neutral and reasonable, if you will: they approach Jesus and ask him, ‘Where are you will for us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?’ (26:17). In every other instance, however, the disciples show themselves to be ignorant or without understanding (13:1`0, 36) or as having little faith (8:25; 17:19) or as deeply flawed in their thinking (14:15; 15:12, 23; 18:1, 21; 20:20). At the very least, Matthew’s broader presentation of the disciples prepares his readers/hearers to wonder whether they know what they’re asking when they approach him and say, ‘Tell, when with these things be, and what [will be] the sign of your parousia and of the consummation of the age?’ (24:3).

Second, the disciples ask two questions, only the first of which connects with what Jesus has been saying to them. Following naturally on Jesus’ emphatic prediction that not one stone will be left upon another in the temple precincts (24:2), the disciples initially ask, ‘When will these things be?’ (24:3). Then, however, they immediately follow with a second question that brings to the fore something about which Jesus has not been speaking at all: ‘What [will be] the sign of your parousia and of the consummation of the age?’ (24:3). The term ‘parousia’ occurs for the first time here in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus has several times, however, already taught them about ‘the consummation of the ate’ (13:39, 40, 49). It is the disciples themselves who somehow have thought that the two questions go together, namely, the destruction of the temple and the consummation of the age. They do not, in fact, go together — at least not in terms of when they will happen. This conclusion is supported by a third observation.

When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyperpreterism


When Shall These Things Be?
(ed. by Keith Mathison)
A Reformed response to the aberrant HyperPreterist theolgy.
Gentry’s chapter critiques HyperPreterism from an historical and creedal perspective.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Third, when Jesus responds, he beings with ‘keep watching, lest someone deceive you,’ (24:4). Jesus responds this way because the disciples have just shown themselves to be deceived. In fact, the first unit in Jesus’ teaching (24:4–14) directs the disciples not to be confused by the regular tumults and convulsions in Judea and the wider world around them. The disciples are not to be deceived into thinking that these troubles mean that the consummation of the age will happen soon.

When examined carefully, the disciples’ approach and two-part question actually anticipates the two-part structure of the Eschatological Discourse and its message. Jesus will now teach the disciples about the events leading up to the destruction of the temple and the city, the about the consummation of the age and about the importance of not confusing the two.


OLIVET IN CONTEXT: A Commentary on Matthew 21–25
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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