4 ¶ And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.
5 "For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
6 "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Since I think I have already proven the case from the context that Matthew 24 will be dealing with the judgment that would come upon the Jewish people, I think the best route is to simply document it and show how some will look to a “literal” interpretation of certain aspects of Matthew 24 and take it to mean that it couldn’t have happened. I will attempt to demonstrate the biblical hermeneutic in interpreting apocalyptic language. We will also take a look at just how these verses parallel the Book of Revelation, which I don’t think is a problem for too many people, even the dispensationalists.
First thing is first. We must honestly affirm that the disciples’ questions seem to be clear and concise: When are these things (destruction of the temple) going to take place? All three gospels tend to confirm this. Many have written, including one blogger who showed up at the end of our discussions concerning some preliminary thoughts on the millennium, who argued the view of Dr. Thomas Ice concerning a difference between Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Now Dr. Ice is clearly a dispensationalist, so it would definitely fit his framework to distinguish between Luke 21 and Matthew 24. However, I think an honest assessment of the texts bear out that in both accounts it is the same conversation with the same Lord Jesus, the same disciples, and the same subject matter. Indeed Mark 13 is also a parallel to this discussion.
The only gospel writer to not address the issue in his gospel is John. This could be the very reason that he documents the details in the Book of the Revelation. I am already seeing this in regards to my previous study through Daniel and our current study of the gospel of Matthew, which as our able teacher Pastor Davis is taking us through. Actually it is pretty much a synoptic gospel study with Matthew being the focusJ Some of this Revelation parallel will come out in the comments of this post.
Although the question is clear and concise, we must allow for Jesus to answer in any way He sees fit. However, given that Christ has, in fact, set the stage for this discussion with his pronounced judgments against the Pharisees and scribes and immediately left the temple, declaring it to be desolate, and spoke directly to the disciples concerning its destruction, then I think it a fair evaluation to see that Jesus is directly answering the obvious question which would result from all of this.
Let us begin with the first thing that Christ warns of: false Christs. Jesus starts of with the words “Take heed that no one deceives you”. We will note that there were many during the time after the resurrection until the time of the judgment upon
Interestingly enough we find that John warns, in his first epistle, of antichrists. He says that many antichrists have come (1 Jn. 2:18). He speaks primarily of the spirit of antichrist and the doctrine of antichrist (1 Jn. 4:3). This was prevailing during the time up until the destruction of
Also, the biblical accounts start the ball rolling in the documentation of such things coming to pass. First we will note the first century Pharisee Gamaliel as he addressed the council in Acts 5.
35 And he said to them: "Men of
36 "For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.
37 "After this man, Judas of
We also read the account of Simon in Acts 8.
9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,
10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God."
11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.
Let us note some of the comments of the Jewish historian Josephus.
Moreover, impostors and deceivers called upon the mob to follow them into the desert. For they said that they would show them unmistakable marvels and signs that would be wrought in harmony with God’s design.[ii]
Deceivers and impostors, under the pretense of divine inspiration fostering revolutionary changes, they persuaded the multitude to act like madmen, and led them out into the desert under the belief that God would there give them tokens of deliverance.[iii]
It seems very apparent from Scripture and from the historical account of Josephus that Christ’s words did in fact come to pass just as He foretold concerning false Christs.
Second we will note that Jesus spoke of wars and rumors of wars. I will not take on all of the dispensationalists claims of increased “stuff”, including wars and rumors of wars as signs of the end. The reason for that is clear from verse 6: See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Wars are often seen throughout Scripture as God’s judgment upon the nations (Deut. 28:15, 25; Isa. 13:9; 14:30; 19:2; Jer. 4:27; Mic. 3:8-12). Yet Jesus specifically informs the disciples that these things are not to concern them. They should not be troubled by them. Rather they should expect them as part of the time that they live in.
Let’s recount the fact that when Christ came on the scene that the ruling Caesar was Augustus. He took the throne following Julius and was the one who instituted the Pax Romana (peace of
Interestingly enough, we are told, “in the
3 ¶ Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
This “falling away” is the apostasia. Interestingly the term means, “a falling away, defection, apostasy” and can even refer to a political revolt or simply a rebellion (Note: Many translations render this word in English as “rebellion”. Surely, this applies to a departure from the truth. This was true in Jesus’ day. The Jews had departed from Moses and they were evidencing it by departing from the Truth Himself: Christ. But there is much more to go on as we look back in history, for the departure from the truth leads to a departure against authority.
There is not only a religious apostasy, but there arose a political one as well. We will recall that by the time of Christ tensions were high between
So we seem to have a good picture here. There will be false christs who deceive many and lead them astray. A departure from the truth will give way to a departure from authority. Obviously, this will bring with it wars, which I will save some of the details for some notes from Revelation in the futureJ These wars will then bring on the next things that Jesus prophecies.
[i] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities, 20:5:5
[ii] Ibid, 20:5:6
[iii] Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2:13:4
[iv] G. W. Bowersock, Fiction as History: Nero to Julian, pg. 29
[v] Bo Reicke, The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible from 500 BC to 100 AD, pg. 110
[vi] Falvius Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus, 4