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Jesus often spoke in parables that revealed previously unknown aspects of the Kingdom of God. Yet he confirmed the prophecies at other points. He did not deny that it would come with a cataclysmic event that would end this present evil age and usher in God’s judgment, and the resurrection of the faithful. He did not deny that the evil systems of this world would be overthrown and that he would rule the world from the throne of God in Jerusalem. However, he revealed that before that time there would be a preparatory period during which the news of the Kingdom was to be preached and the power of the kingdom could be tasted.

The parable of the sower and the seed (in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8) described the seed being sown on four types of ground: the wayside, the stony ground, the thorny ground, and the good ground. When the seed is sown on good ground, it brings forth fruit. When the disciples ask Jesus about the parable’s meaning, he explains it to them.

Luke 8:
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

In this parable, we are hearing not of the kingdom coming, but of the gospel of the Kingdom being sown as seed. Here in Luke, it says the seed is “the word of God,” while in Mark 4:14 it just says “the Word.” But this Word is not just a synonym for the Bible, nor is it the gospel of Jesus’ suffering and death. Matthew 13:19 specifically identifies it as “the Word of the Kingdom.” The preaching of that Word is likened to sowing seed. This parable is the foundation of all the others, for Jesus said, “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mark 4:13). The next parable in Matthew 13 also uses an agricultural illustration to describe the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 13:
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Later on, the disciples ask him about the meaning of this parable.

Matthew 13:
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Once again, Jesus is not describing the Kingdom having “come” but rather the fact that, after the Word is sown, the children of the Kingdom would live side by side with the children of the enemy’s kingdom until the time of the harvest. But it is clear that the kingdom will be at the end of this age, and “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

The parable of the net describes still another aspect of that interim period.

Matthew 13:
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

In this parable the focus is more narrow than the field in which the wheat and tares grow, which represented the world. Those who are drawn in by the gospel will consist of both good fish and bad, and they will be separated by the angels at the end of the age. This explains how there could be evil members even in the Church, as seen in the Book of Acts, and at other times in Church history. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

That there would be an interim period before the establishment of the Kingdom was also indicated in other places, as we have seen. Here in these parables we learn about the nature of that period of time. The Kingdom is not inaugurated, but the people of the Kingdom live in this present age, side by side with other people to whom the gospel is preached. Some of them reject the gospel outright, some accept it for a time but don’t bear fruit (as with the thorny and stony ground).

Another of the mysteries of the kingdom was the fact that it would be offered to the whole world, not just Israel. The promises were originally made to Israel, and it was foretold that Gentiles would be blessed through them. But Jesus expanded the preaching of the Gospel to include the whole world. Paul wrote in Ephesians that the Gentiles would now be “fellow heirs and of the same body” as Israel, and partake of the promises made to Israel (Ephesians 3:6). God’s promises to Abraham are now extended to all mankind (Galatians 3:14,29).

These promises of the Kingdom are now being offered to the world. They have been made possible because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). Rather than set up the Kingdom immediately, Jesus, like the nobleman in his parable, has gone to a far country and will return to set up the Kingdom. In the meantime we have a foretaste, as we shall see.

Next: The New Covenant (What was foretold about it, and what do we have now?)

27 Responses to “Mysteries of the Kingdom, Part 2”

  1. on 09 Oct 2009 at 7:54 amWolfgang

    Hi,

    you write above concerning Jesus:

    He did not deny that it would come with a cataclysmic event that would end this present evil age …

    Once again, you are seemingly not reading from the writer’s perspective but from today’s reader’s perspective …

    Is “THIS PRESENT AGE” the age which was then present? or is it the age which is now present? In which covenant age did Jesus and his disciples live? In which covenant age do we live? Which age was to come to an end? Which cataclysmic event did Jesus predict in his discourse concerning the end of the world [age]?

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  2. on 09 Oct 2009 at 9:07 amMark C.

    Wolfgang,

    I have shown the Biblical designations of “This present evil age” and “The Age to Come.” This is how the word aion or ‘age’ is used in the Bible. It is NEVER used referring to the Old and New Covenants. Rather than ask questions, can you provide any Scriptural evidence for your view?

  3. on 09 Oct 2009 at 9:20 amJohnE

    Once again, Jesus is not describing the Kingdom having “come” but rather the fact that, after the Word is sown, the children of the Kingdom would live side by side with the children of the enemy’s kingdom until the time of the harvest.

    Yes, of course Jesus is not describing the Kingdom as having “come”. But he doesn’t stop at the sowing, he also mentions the final act, the harvest – the coming of the kingdom of course. Yes, the parable also touches on the kingdom’s coming. And everybody knew that there is a reasonably short time (the “interim period”) between the act of sowing and the event of harvesting. It’s not like the father of the family was sowing, and then he expected his grand-grand-grand-grand-grand-children to harvest. It was all happening in the course of his own lifetime. That is the point Barthman is making, as Xavier showed in part I.

    Another of the mysteries of the kingdom was the fact that it would be offered to the whole world, not just Israel. The promises were originally made to Israel, and it was foretold that Gentiles would be blessed through them. But Jesus expanded the preaching of the Gospel to include the whole world.

    If this is supposed to be in support of a 2000 years interim period, let’s not forget that the author of Colossians wrote (1:5-6, 23):

    “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing

    “and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.”

    Hmm…

  4. on 09 Oct 2009 at 9:57 amMark C.

    Yes, of course Jesus is not describing the Kingdom as having “come”. But he doesn’t stop at the sowing, he also mentions the final act, the harvest – the coming of the kingdom of course. Yes, the parable also touches on the kingdom’s coming. And everybody knew that there is a reasonably short time (the “interim period”) between the act of sowing and the event of harvesting.

    They were not talking about it being a “reasonably short time.” He specifically says, “The harvest is the end of the world (age).” And his audience knew what the end of this age and age to come were about, as it had been spoken of for hundreds of years, particularly in the Prophets.

    If this is supposed to be in support of a 2000 years interim period, let’s not forget that the author of Colossians wrote (1:5-6, 23):

    It wasn’t presented as support of a 2000 year interim period. It was one of the other mysteries of the Kingdom which the disciples did not understand at first. I’m not sure of your point in quoting those verses from Colossians, though. Anyway, I don’t claim anything supports a 2000 year interim, or any other duration, since the Bible says that nobody knows how long it would be.

  5. on 09 Oct 2009 at 10:54 amWolfgang

    Mark C.,

    I have shown the Biblical designations of “This present evil age” and “The Age to Come.” This is how the word aion or ‘age’ is used in the Bible.

    you have shown your understanding and interpretation of the term “age / world” …

    It is NEVER used referring to the Old and New Covenants.

    Yes, there are no verses which sort of say “covenant” = “age”. Now, do you think that the age during which a covenant applied continues on after that covenant has been fulfilled or completed and a new covenant is in effect? or does the Bible not rather clearly teach that there is a change in “ages / worlds” once such covenant change takes place?

    What do you think is biblically speaking “the age to come”? Is it just some “age (a period of time) not further defined by any particular aspect, such as “a new covenant” or “a different reign” other than the ones in effect before?

    Jesus speaks of imminent / soon coming “end of the age”? Which “age” was he speaking about? To what age was he referring in connection with the prophesied “end of THE AGE” … was it not the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, thus making a total end of the old covenant age with its worship system (cp Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21)? Was that age then present? Obviously, or was Jesus speaking about an age which had not even started when he was talking about its end? Was there another “age” present at that same time (in other words, were there two ages existent at the same time)? Did not that then “present age” come to its end when Jesus’ prophecies were fulfilled in the events that happened approx 40 years later?

    Seeing that the then present age came to its end as prophesied, what age do you think followed upon that age? Would it not have been what is termed “the age to come”, since that was the one mentioned in the scriptures as then having been future while the old convenant time was still in effect? Or was there another age (not mentioned in the Scripture) which did come into effect and which will have to come to an end before “the age to come” can start?

    Rather than ask questions, can you provide any Scriptural evidence for your view?

    I love asking questions …. not just of others, but also of myself, because that way the mind is usually triggered into more careful action as a person endeavours to search for an answer. As for verses, I think you pretty much know exactly to which sections of Scripture I am making reference.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  6. on 09 Oct 2009 at 1:07 pmrobert

    A little different take on 70AD

    http://antipreterist.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/why-christ-didnt-return-in-ad-70/

    Although Preterists universally hold that Jesus Christ’s parousia happened in A.D. 70, it is my position that the case is otherwise. Evidence for an A.D. 70 coming of Christ is lackluster, at best. In fact, there is no evidence in Scripture that Christ returned in A.D. 70 at all. Before I get attacked, however, I do affirm that Christ’s coming was imminent in the first century. This matter is beyond dispute.

    Yet that which draws near may also draw away — especially when you’re dealing with a Dispensation based on conditional promises, and in which fallen man forms one of the contracting parties. The fact is, the second coming of Christ and related blessings are tied to the Abrahamic covenant — not to the Mosaic covenant.

    Under the Mosaic covenant these blessings are held out, but only on conditional of obedience. The trouble is, the law brings knowledge of sin, but it gives no strength to meet its demands.

    Preterists rightly acknowledge the parousia as an unconditional promise. However, they fail to see that its fulfillment under the Mosaic charter is entirely conditional.

    The unconditional promises were never made under the Mosaic Covenant. They were made under the Abrahamic covenant. This was demonstrated when God, in ratifying the promised blessings, Himself passed through the pieces of the sacrifice (Genesis 15: 17-18), showing that the covenant would be secured by one contracting party alone.

    Whereas in confirmation of the Mosaic covenant, “the princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land” (Jeremiah 34: 18-19) had to pass between the parts of the calf — showing that there were two contracting parties. This makes the difference.

    In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul records that the Abrahamic covenant was made without a mediator (Gal. 3: 15-17). That means that God was the only contracting party. Therefore, the promises under that covenant are unconditional, and cannot be abrogated.

    On the other hand, the Mosaic covenant was made through a mediator (Gal. 3: 19; cf. Acts 7: 53). This renders blessings under that covenant conditional in nature.

    As Charles H. Welch observes: “Where there is a mediator, there are two parties, and when one of those contracting parties is fallen man, failure and instability is a certainty” (Dispensational Truth, 2008 edition, pg. 124).

    Now, it is clear that if the Mosaic covenant was in effect during the 40-year period when the New Testament writings declared Christ’s coming as “near,” then the parousia was conditional on the stipulations contained in that covenant.

    Wherefore we are not surprised to hear Christ Himself say: “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord“ This brings us back to Leviticus 26: 11, where Jehovah promised to place His tabernacle among the people of Israel — if only they would keep His statutes and commandments.

    Peter confirmed the essential condition of national repentance in Acts 3: 19-21. Therefore, Christ’s coming in the first century was subservient to this stipulation. Christ would come, if only His people would repent and accept Him as Messiah.

    This truth is illustrated in Acts 7: 55-56, which records Stephen the martyr’s vision of Christ standing at the right hand of the Father, as if in expectation that the leaders of the people would repent. If they had repented, He would have returned. But because they didn’t, His second advent did not materialize.

    The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 merely ended the period of probation given for Israel to attain the promised blessings according to the terms of the Mosaic charter. Because they failed, their city was destroyed, and the second coming relegated to a future time.

    A further illustration of the contingent nature of the parousia is given in Malachi 4: 5-6, where the prophet writes: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of that great and dreadful Day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I smite the earth with a curse.”

    Now, it is obvious that the land was smitten with a curse in A.D. 70 (see Deut. 28: 15 ff.). And since the hearts of the fathers were never turned to the children, and vice versa, it is clear that Elijah’s ministry was never fulfilled in the first century. Therefore, the destruction of Jerusalem did not constitute the Day of the Lord.

    True, John the Baptist would have fulfilled that role. However, the condition was national acceptance of his ministry. Christ said: “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come” (Matt 11: 15). Did the nation ever receive John the Baptist as Elijah? According to Christ, they did not!

    (Matt. 16: 11-12) “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.”

    This failure of Israel to acknowledge John’s mission explains why his baptism was still being administered twenty-six years after the ascension of Christ (Acts 19: 3). Because Israel had not received John, his baptism was still valid.

    Now, if the nation failed to acknowledge John Baptist as the “Elijah” of Malachi’s prophecy, then it is absurd to claim that his mission was accomplished in the first century. Malachi tells us that if the ministry was not fulfilled, the land would be smitten with a curse. That is exactly what Preterists say happened in A.D. 70. Therefore, they cannot claim that John the Baptist fulfilled the role of Elijah without contradicting themselves.

    Although these examples may be superficially perceived as a subversion of the doctrines of grace, they are really an attestation of the fact that the Mosaic covenant was in effect during the first century; and that the blessings connected with the parousia could only be obtained by way of the New Covenant, and not according to the terms of the Mosaic charter.

    This great object lesson was taught by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It marked Israel’s failure under law, but is not connected with fulfillment of the unconditional blessings.

    Preterists must concede that a “casting away” has nothing to do with grace, but presupposes legal transgression. It was precisely that which brought about the national dispersion of Israel. Therefore, it is no token of grace, or of the fulfillment of New Covenant promises.

    Actually, the New Covenant is about regathering and restoration, which will be obtained at the parousia of Christ. Only when we “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 3: 15) will the parousia be seen for what it really is.

    The burden of proof is not on orthodox Christians who claim that the second advent is yet future, but on Preterists who posit an unscriptural A.D. 70 parousia, which disregards the testimony that God has been pleased to record for our instruction. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

  7. on 09 Oct 2009 at 2:22 pmKen

    It is interesting to me (upon reading all of these interchanges about God’s reign) that as Bible students with strong ideas and beliefs, we all tend to accept as evidence that which we already believe. (Of course I include myself in this category, although I have had the experience [a few years back] of changing my point of view in a major way when confronted with compelling Biblical evidence.) I try to read and consider all perspectives without being gullible (on one hand) and without being obstinately contentious/defensive, etc. (on the other hand.) I just wonder if anyone participating in these dialogues has received any motivation to seriously consider the need to change his/her paradigm about the hope. It would be interesting to know if these discussions have had that effect on anyone at all.
    I pray a prayer from the heart for all of us (a prayer I once dismissed [theologically and practically] as not being relevant to us nowadays.) In my heart I now know it is relevant to pray in essence that God’s will be implemented perfectly “on earth” as it is now accomplished in “the heavenly realm” – in which Jesus (as seated on God’s right hand) and the loyal angels who serve God are lovingly in subjection to YHWH. I long for that day on earth that Jesus talked about so much! I deeply yearn for that coming time (which was muddled in my previous theological thinking.) It seems that if one “drifts away” from that hope, the only real Biblical hope (Colossians 1:23), a great deal of simplicity in reverence for God & the Scriptures is lost. I state this respectfully, having read the ideas of those who probably do not pray as I do.

  8. on 09 Oct 2009 at 2:38 pmKen

    In order to clarify the above reference (comment #7) to the Lord’s prayer:
    I know now to pray daily that God’s name be sanctified and revered in a world in which honoring God is severely neglected!
    I know to pray for “daily bread” needs for myself and for all who as believers depend on God’s provision.
    I know that is is extremely important to pray for forgiveness with a conscientious commitment to forgive others. There are sins/ errors to confess frequently.
    I know that prayer for deliverance from temptation and evil is vitally relevant.
    Similarly, I know that God’s will is not being carried out with perfect obedience on earth at the present time; why would I neglect to pray for such a coming promised reality?

  9. on 09 Oct 2009 at 4:58 pmMark C.

    you have shown your understanding and interpretation of the term “age / world”

    I provided Scriptural evidence. If you have another way of viewing those Scriptures which I cited, then demonstrate it.

    Yes, there are no verses which sort of say “covenant” = “age”. Now, do you think that the age during which a covenant applied continues on after that covenant has been fulfilled or completed and a new covenant is in effect? or does the Bible not rather clearly teach that there is a change in “ages / worlds” once such covenant change takes place?

    No, I don’t believe that the Bible rather clearly teaches that. If you think it does, then provide evidence.

    What do you think is biblically speaking “the age to come”? Is it just some “age (a period of time) not further defined by any particular aspect, such as “a new covenant” or “a different reign” other than the ones in effect before?

    I’ve answered that question, but you say it’s “just my understanding.” Again, show it from the Scriptures.

    Jesus speaks of imminent / soon coming “end of the age”?

    But does he? He said the Kingdom was “near” and there are a few references to aspects of the Kingdom being present now in a sense. But there is nowhere that he said the end of the age was “imminent.”

    Which “age” was he speaking about? To what age was he referring in connection with the prophesied “end of THE AGE” …

    I’ve already answered that.

    …was it not the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, thus making a total end of the old covenant age with its worship system (cp Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21)?

    Short answer: No.

    The Old Covenant ended with the death and resurrection of Jesus, not with the destruction of the Temple. And once again, the end of the Old Covenant is NOWHERE called the “end of the age” in the Bible.

    Was that age then present? Obviously, or was Jesus speaking about an age which had not even started when he was talking about its end? Was there another “age” present at that same time (in other words, were there two ages existent at the same time)? Did not that then “present age” come to its end when Jesus’ prophecies were fulfilled in the events that happened approx 40 years later?
    Seeing that the then present age came to its end as prophesied, what age do you think followed upon that age? Would it not have been what is termed “the age to come”, since that was the one mentioned in the scriptures as then having been future while the old convenant time was still in effect? Or was there another age (not mentioned in the Scripture) which did come into effect and which will have to come to an end before “the age to come” can start?

    These questions make me wonder if you’ve actually read the article and looked at the Scriptures presented. It is simple. The Bible divides all of man’s existence into two ages: This present evil age, and the Age to Come which will begin when Christ returns.

    I love asking questions …. not just of others, but also of myself, because that way the mind is usually triggered into more careful action as a person endeavours to search for an answer. As for verses, I think you pretty much know exactly to which sections of Scripture I am making reference.

    But if all you do is question one viewpoint without offering another, it doesn’t make for a very enlightening exchange. Especially when some of the questions I’ve already answered, and some bring up points that nobody has made (like the “two ages” thing above). And no, I don’t know what verses you’re referring to.

  10. on 10 Oct 2009 at 5:09 amWolfgang

    Hi Ken,

    you mentioned above

    I just wonder if anyone participating in these dialogues has received any motivation to seriously consider the need to change his/her paradigm about the hope. It would be interesting to know if these discussions have had that effect on anyone at all.

    Exactly such discussions several years ago caused me to very seriously consider my previous concepts about the hope, the kingdom of God, coming of the Lord, last days, biblical ages, etc. and to make changes in my paradigm about the hope.

    Before, I was sort of like the child living in November and hoping and needing to wait for the things promised to become reality at Christmas. Now, I realize that I am living after Christmas and the things needing to be hoped for in November are now reality and what has been promised was indeed fulfilled. It seems to me that many Christians are living after Christmas but somehow have been convinced that they still are living (sort of permanently it seems) in November hoping for Christmas to come and thus regard what is already reality as yet unfulfilled.

    Btw, this same situation of seeing oneself at the wrong place in time is found when reviewing the majority of the Jews’ perspective on the Scriptures … they (still, even now) are convinced that they live in the days prior to the birth of the Messiah. In their understanding and within what they have been taught, Jesus of Nazareth was not the promised Messiah because he did not “match” the expectations which the Jews had and thus they conclude that the Messiah cannot possibly already have been born.

    What happened to me after seriously considering points raised in those discussions about topics such as as we are discussing here (and, believe me, the folks in those discussion groups were not quite as nice and considerate as is the case here on this blog) was similar to what happened to me more than 3 decades ago when I was a firm believer in what I had been taught in my Roman Catholic upbringing concerning God being a Holy Trinity and when some folks were first introducing me to the idea that my trinity concept of God was not really what the Scriptures had to say about God and Jesus and holy spirit.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  11. on 10 Oct 2009 at 6:02 amMark C.

    Wolfgang,

    If the things you once thought were hoped for are now reality, what do you now hope for?

    To build on your analogy, if what was promised has now been received, it would be like having expected a new car for Christmas and gotten a Matchbox toy car. To say that the OT prophecies have been fulfilled but not in the way they were expected is to so twist those prophecies as to make language almost meaningless, and the promises of God impossible to take seriously.

    I pray that you haven’t closed your mind to any further paradigm shift in your understanding, and give serious consideration to what we are discussing here.

  12. on 10 Oct 2009 at 10:49 amBrian

    Wolfgang,

    As I have surveyed the discussion going on here, I had considered the same point you just made:

    textBtw, this same situation of seeing oneself at the wrong place in time is found when reviewing the majority of the Jews’ perspective on the Scriptures

    This is a valid point. However the fact the the Jews did not see Jesus as their Messiah had little to do with the point you make in that that they saw themselves in the wrong place of Biblical history. Anytime anything in the Scriptues is foretold, one needs to ask, “Has this happened yet?” The fact that I live 2,000 years after the things foretold in the New Testament does not mean they have or have not happened.

    At this point, the main point of contention seems to be the meaning of “at hand.” To me there just seems to be to much other Scriptural evidence to accept your position.

    PS If Xmas already has come, I must have not been a very good boy.

  13. on 10 Oct 2009 at 2:25 pmWolfgang

    Brian,

    perhaps you have been a very good boy, and you are just looking in the wrong direction for the wrong things, because of what you were told would happen and be given?

    Sort of like when someone was promised to be given a vehicle …. and he/she interpreted it as a brand new Cadillac limousine … and for which they continue to wait because there hasn’t been any Cadillac limousine even after several years with a Christmas each having passed in the meantime. There had been an aircraft delivered that first Christmas, but he/she was sure that this had nothing to do with the promised vehicle. So there seemed only one option …. the promise had not been fulfilled, but since the Giver was known and believed to be faithful to His promises, surely the promise would be fulfilled perhaps the next Christmas or the one after that or the one after that or the one after that ….. after that … .after that …

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  14. on 10 Oct 2009 at 5:45 pmMark C.

    To again build on Wolfgang’s analogy, if the promises specified a Cadillac Limo, and even described its size, color, interior, and the events that would accompany its delivery, then an aircraft would not be the fulfillment of that promise. And the only way it could be a replacement is if I was told that I’m getting an aircraft instead of the Limo. And as we’ve said before (to leave the analogy) there was no such announcement that a spiritual Kingdom has replaced the literal Kingdom that was promised and described.

    The thinking “surely the promise would be fulfilled perhaps the next Christmas or the one after that or the one after that” is not the only option.  In this analogy, it would be comparable to getting a Christmas present that included the title deed to the Caddy, with an instruction manual and special limo-driving lessons to prepare me for the car which I would receive when I was old enough.

  15. on 10 Oct 2009 at 7:12 pmRay

    Sometimes we get what we hoped for but when it arrives it appears to us differently than we had imagined. Sometimes our
    paradigms do change.

    I was raised to accept the trinity doctrine even though we can’t understand it, then I was told “Jesus isn’t God”, but now I’ve found
    that if people can be salt, then Jesus can be God.

  16. on 11 Oct 2009 at 1:13 amWolfgang

    Brian,

    However the fact the the Jews did not see Jesus as their Messiah had little to do with the point you make in that that they saw themselves in the wrong place of Biblical history.

    Indeed … I did not say that they saw themselves in the wrong place of Biblical history and therefore did not see Jesus as their Messiah … I am saying that they did not see Jesus as their Messiah and therefore have seen themselves since in the wrong place in Biblical history … or have they stopped altogether anticipating the birth of the Messiah? If they are still anticipating the birth of the Messiah, then they obviously are seeing themselves as living prior to the birth of the Messiah, yes?

    Anytime anything in the Scriptues is foretold, one needs to ask, “Has this happened yet?” The fact that I live 2,000 years after the things foretold in the New Testament does not mean they have or have not happened.

    Indeed … now, what might serve as proof that what has been foretold has already happened?
    Is proof only that we personally must have seen it come to pass? Is proof that others must have seen it come to pass and we must read about it in the Scriptures (such as in books of the Bible which were written at a time after the fulfillment)? Is proof that the credibility of the prophet in connection with the time of fulfillment and events accompanying fulfillment given in the prophecy is sufficient (even of no record from a later book in the Bible or other book or personal experience is available)?

    At this point, the main point of contention seems to be the meaning of “at hand.”

    This term “at hand”, together with other expressions used to describe the same short / imminent time frame for the fulfillment of the prophecies relating to the coming of the Lord and the coming of God’s reign, describes clearly the time as to when what was prophesied was to be fulfilled.
    IF the prophecies did NOT come to pass as prophesied, then according to Biblical testimony, we are to regard such “prophet” as a false prophet who spoke of himself.

    To me there just seems to be to much other Scriptural evidence to accept your position.

    That is what it seemed to me for 2 decades as well …. because of what I was taught. Even though, I do admit that throughout that time I did have the nagging question(s) about the dilemma between being taught (and teaching it myself to others as well) that (a) John the baptist, Christ and his apostles taught that the Lord’s coming, and the coming of God’s reign was imminent and expected within the time frame of their generation and their lifetime, and (b) that it supposedly did not come to pass as prophesied and we — 2 milleniums later — were still waiting for it to come to pass; and all that WITHOUT any scriptural indication or explanation as to why what was prophesied did not come to pass.
    Finally, it dawned on me that all the various explanations for the supposed delay were in fact “inventions”, “assumptions”, “perhaps nice ideas”, but did NOT have any basis in the Scriptures.

    There are examples in the Scriptures where something was prophesied, and where the situation changed and where subsequently then also the revelation changed and what had been originally prophesied was revised or totally changed (cp. what God had told Israel via Moses regarding entering the promised land, and how things developed because Israel refused to obey the initial prophecy and instructions)

    BUT, as regards the prophecies about the imminent coming of the Lord and coming of God’s reign with a rather emphasized “imminent” time frame and rather clearly stated events involving the city of Jerusalem and the temple, there are NO scriptures which show that those prophecies were changed or that the fulfillment of those prophecies was postponed or cancelled.

    All claims of those who teach that these prophecies did not come to pass are basically all relying on their own understanding that the prophesied “kingdom” must be an OT type “kingdom” (that is, a political national kingdom on earth, as the nation of Israel had been), and since their ideas have not come to pass as they imagined, the claims are made that the fulfillement of those prophecies must have somehow be delayed. The clear emphasis of the time frame involved in the prophecies is then “explained away”, “moved back futher and further (it could be now, it could be now soon, it is always to be soon)” because those folks don’t have the guts to voice the real and only biblical conclusion for the dilemma they produce with their assumptions => namely, (1) Christ and his apostles were false prophets (because what they prophesied was not really “at hand” and “did not come to pass” , or (2) their imagination and failure to recognize the “physical type spiritual reality” (of the earthly OT nation of Israel the NT reign of God) is just as at fault as the Jews’ ideas 2000 years ago already were vain as they were anticipating a restoration of “national Israel” by a “political king” …

    To say it short: The supposed “too much scriptural evidence” you mention above is in fact non-existing, and should be more correctly called “too much earth minded interpretation of many scriptures”.

    Cheers
    Wolfgang

  17. on 11 Oct 2009 at 6:51 amMark C.

    IF the prophecies did NOT come to pass as prophesied, then according to Biblical testimony, we are to regard such “prophet” as a false prophet who spoke of himself.

    That instruction (in Deut. 18:22) was obviously referring to when someone who claimed to be a prophet proclaims something that has elements which are falsifiable. It can’t be referring to prophecies such as those about the coming Messiah. Even those foretelling his first coming were hundreds of years before he came. How long were they supposed to wait before they decided it hadn’t happened?

    As for the dilemma you wrestled with, what you describe is not uncommon among various groups that haven’t studied it thoroughly, and I feel for you, having to wrestle with that. But there are a couple of misconceptions in the very assumptions you started with.

    (a) John the baptist, Christ and his apostles taught that the Lord’s coming, and the coming of God’s reign was imminent and expected within the time frame of their generation and their lifetime…

    This has been repeated quite a lot recently on this blog, and I must point out that it was not presented as “imminent” as much as you might think. Only a very few verses even use such language, and then it is in relative terms. But Jesus told his disciples he didn’t know when his return would be, and taught them about what to do until he returned. They may have assumed that it would be in their lifetimes, but they did not change what he taught about the current Church period and how it prepares for the coming Kingdom in the new age.

    (b) that it supposedly did not come to pass as prophesied and we — 2 milleniums later — were still waiting for it to come to pass; and all that WITHOUT any scriptural indication or explanation as to why what was prophesied did not come to pass.

    You speak as if there is complete silence in the Scriptures about the current period of the Church, and its relation to the coming age and the restoration of all things when Christ returns. But quite the contrary, there is a wealth of Scriptural indication that:
    (1)The delay is of an unknown duration.
    (2)The Church has a particular function while we await the coming Kingdom.
    (3)We have the earnest of the Holy Spirit, as a foretaste of our future inheritance.
    (4)If we die before Christ returns we will be raised first, and meet the believers alive at that time in the air.

    BUT, as regards the prophecies about the imminent coming of the Lord and coming of God’s reign with a rather emphasized “imminent” time frame and rather clearly stated events involving the city of Jerusalem and the temple, there are NO scriptures which show that those prophecies were changed or that the fulfillment of those prophecies was postponed or cancelled.

    There are no Scriptures that show that those prophecies were changed, because the specific prophecies which Jesus spoke of did not come to pass. I posted the following in the other thread (Mysteries of the Kingdom, Part 1):

    …the statement that “the prophesied events and judgment began to take place…” is not true. The only thing that happened was the destruction of the Temple. None of the other prophecies took place. There was no Abomination of Desolation followed by the Great Tribulation followed immediately by signs in the heavens, the general resurrection, and the return of the Son of Man from heaven to judge the world. Jesus spoke of this specific progression of events preceding the end. Furthermore, no New Age of peace and perfect judgment by Messiah has come to pass, no end to war, no binding of the devil so he can’t deceive the world. All of these things are specifically prophesied, and have not yet come to pass. The Temple destruction could perhaps be seen as a foreshadowing of God’s ultimate judgment (like Antiochus Epiphanes at the time of the Maccabees), but since none of the other prophecies came to pass, it could not have been the fulfillment. This is why it’s imperative to understand how the Scriptures define the Kingdom of God first, and then base our observation of whether it has come to pass on that.

    Wolfgang wrote:

    All claims of those who teach that these prophecies did not come to pass are basically all relying on their own understanding that the prophesied “kingdom” must be an OT type “kingdom” (that is, a political national kingdom on earth, as the nation of Israel had been), and since their ideas have not come to pass as they imagined, the claims are made that the fulfillement of those prophecies must have somehow be delayed.

    You keep calling it “our own understanding,” but can you demonstrate from Scripture why what the OT clearly prophesies, and Jesus clearly endorses, is NOT the proper understanding?

    The mere fact that it didn’t come to pass does not prove it by itself, as that fact can be explained by understanding the preparation and announcement phase, much better than it can by changing the meaning of the Kingdom of God. There are many Scriptures which give the former explanation, while there are none which give the latter.

    To say it short: The supposed “too much scriptural evidence” you mention above is in fact non-existing, and should be more correctly called “too much earth minded interpretation of many scriptures”.

    Have you in fact read the Scriptures I cited in these articles, and those in the Old Testament Foundation section of my web site?  Far from being “non-existant” or “earth-minded interpretations,” they are in plain, unequivocal language and describe the things I’ve been talking about.  I repeat my question: can you demonstrate from Scripture why what the OT clearly prophesies, and Jesus clearly endorses, is NOT the proper understanding?

  18. on 11 Oct 2009 at 12:08 pmrobert

    Luke 21
    24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    As we see by this verse the city and the temple have both fell but there is still things which must come to pass before the beginning of the KOG.

    “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”

    this part suggest something that first must happen before something could come.

    Mark 13
    10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

    Matthew 24
    14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    the last 2 verses explain this was more of a beginning then an end and clearly defines this wasnt a total fullness of the Blessing promised to Abraham because this can not be claimed to have came to pass since the destruction.
    these verses dont claim that Luke 21,Mark 13 and Matthew 24
    would come before the destruction, it claims it would happen after it.

  19. on 11 Oct 2009 at 1:19 pmWolfgang

    Robert,

    you mention above

    Mark 13
    10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

    Matthew 24
    14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come

    I think someone else already mentioned 2 scriptures from Colossians which tell us what the apostle Paul had to say about this toward the end of his life (emphasis mine):

    Col 1,5-6
    5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
    6 Which is come unto you, as [it is] in all the world
    ; and bringeth forth fruit, as [it doth] also in you, since the day ye heard [of it], and knew the grace of God in truth:

    Col 1:23
    23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

    As you see, here we read that what Jesus had mentioned in Mk 13 and Mt 24 had been fulfilled by the time Paul wrote Colossians.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  20. on 11 Oct 2009 at 3:11 pmrobert

    “As you see, here we read that what Jesus had mentioned in Mk 13 and Mt 24 had been fulfilled by the time Paul wrote Colossians.”

    Wolfgang
    are you trying to say Colossians was wrote after the destruction mentioned in Luke because “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” speaks of the (blessing)gospel being preached to the ALL THE WORLD of the gentiles.

    neither verse clearly state what you are claiming that it was preached to ALL THE WORLD at time Paul wrote col
    Luke provides the context for both Mk and Mt not Col which doesnt apply to what being spoken by Jesus

  21. on 11 Oct 2009 at 6:10 pmMark C.

    Robert,

    I agree with you! 🙂

    Luke 21
    24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    As we see by this verse the city and the temple have both fell but there is still things which must come to pass before the beginning of the KOG.

    “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”

    Another possible understanding of Luke 21:24 is that Jerusalem will be trodden underfoot again in the future. Revelation 11:2 links the holy city being trodden underfoot by the Gentiles with the Great Tribulation, and with the period of “forty-two months” (also referred to in Revelation 13:5). There are other cases of a type or foreshadow previewing the ultimate fulfillment of a prophecy. Just as Antiochus Epiphanes fulfilled some of the criteria for the Little Horn (aka Antichrist) he did not fulfill all of them and is seen as a foreshadow or type of the Antichrist that will come. (Jesus still referred to the Abomination of Desolation as future in his day, despite what Antiochus had done.)

    In any case those verses from Colossians do not, as you say, prove that the Gospel had been preached in all the world. Verses 5 & 6 simply say that the Gospel was bearing fruit in the world, and v. 23, “which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven,” is not in the past tense but the aorist tense, which is defined as follows:

    The aorist tense is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar action; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future time. There is no direct or clear English equivalent for this tense, though it is generally rendered as a simple past tense in most translations.

    The simple summary of this is, since it is not the past tense it does not prove unequivocally that the Gospel had been preached in all the world as prerequisite to the return of Christ.

    Wolfgang wrote:

    As you see, here we read that what Jesus had mentioned in Mk 13 and Mt 24 had been fulfilled by the time Paul wrote Colossians.

    No it had not. I don’t know why you keep glossing over this point and seemingly ignore what I’ve said about it. But even if those verses in Colossians did prove that the Gospel had been preached in all the world, the other events that Jesus foretold did not happen then, and still have not happened. I refer you again to Comment #17 in which I quoted from a comment on the other thread.

    Jesus spoke about a very specific order of events. The Abomination of Desolation (whatever that turned out to be) would begin the period of the Great Tribulation, and immediately after those days there would be signs in the heavens, the general resurrection, and the return of the Son of Man from heaven to judge the world. At that time he would begin his reign and there would be no more war, and the devil would be bound for a time so he could not deceive the nations. There is no way these things have happened yet.

  22. on 11 Oct 2009 at 8:17 pmrobert

    thank you Mark
    i am 100% behind you on this because there is so much that is too clear.

    Matthew 24
    2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down

    you will also find that this was never fulfilled if you research. there are still original stones that are still in place one on top of eachother that were a part of the temple structure.
    why did this fall short in 70AD?
    yes there was a judgement that was carried out in 70AD but it wasnt at the end of days.
    there was worst that happened to Judah and worst things that happened to Israel before that in earlier judgements.

  23. on 11 Oct 2009 at 11:18 pmrobert

    Mark
    your doing a great job on this subject, dont forget it isnt just Wolfgang your are bringing the truth too, its all that read it.

  24. on 12 Oct 2009 at 2:15 pmKen

    Wolfgang,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I believe this will be the last time I comment about the “preterist” insistence I continue to observe at this site.
    I have read (and reread) the points that you continue to repeat; I see that you perceive it as a neat “package” of theological understanding. I think I can see how it could be an appealing theory on certain intellectual levels – IF certain presuppositions go unquestioned. I believe it is obvious that you have no interest in considering the possibility that you have “bought into” some questionable assumptions (at least “quetionable” according to perspectives you disagree with), and I respect your right NOT to consider other possibilities than the ones you have decided to believe. I do not want to debate these points with you, as I notice how easily you dismiss some plausible explanations that are posted here ( for example, good points made about the handful of “imminent” return verses – at least I see them as good points.) As I’ve said earlier, I do not believe God would be honored by my involvement in a”tit for tat” exchange over this issue. I guess it would be a different situation if you were to acknowledge that there are some highly doubtful premises at play in assuming that Jesus returned in 70 A.D., ( and the ensuing supposition that the bulk of Biblically future “kingdom of God” explanations are to be neatly dismissed as “figurative language” – which in essence makes volumes of clear passages [that can be understood literally] in the Scriptures … MEANINGLESS.)(Of course I express this from my perspective.)
    I suppose I am baffled in all this about why (in your strong certainty about preterism) you insist in acting with unrelenting zeal to try to convince others that it is wrong to hope for a literal fulfillment of so many Scriptural promises. It seems that you urgently NEED to tell others NOT to expect Christ’s return. It appears that you NEED to keep telling this to the same audience over and over and over again. (It seems that you are not “content” to allow others to retain a different point -of -view based on their understanding of Scriptures.) Why is that? Why not leave others to express views about Scriptural understanding without turning EVERY blog entry into a preterist/futurist debate? Does this approach make any sense? I don’t “get” your motivation because I believe you already expressed yourself at this site many, many months ago. Why keep insisting here about the same issue on this site? I am not in favor of “censorship”, but why not be polite enough NOT to “go on and on” after the point was made and discussed long ago? You may take these questions and the following questions as rhetorical, not an invitation to rehash this controversy; I believe I have “seen it all” in regard to this subject. I believe others have seen quite a bit, too.
    I know my observations would not convince you of anything, and from what I’ve seen, no one else’s points make any impact on your chosen theology; I respect your right not to consider the points made by others.
    Nevertheless, these rhetorical questions might help others: how can one be so sure that Christ really returned? What evidence is there that he came back? How could he have returned in power without leaving a trace of evidence? Where is Christian “humility” in asserting that an event happened without a trace of evidence? How can one be so sure that volumes of prophecy (which are not clearly indicated as “figurative” in the Bible) will not be fulfilled literally? How can one be sure that it is good and right to dissuade Christians from hoping for Christ’s return? If in fact he has NOT returned (which would make preterism a false paradigm,) wouldn’t that make adamant persuasions against hoping for the coming kingdom an anti-biblical endeavor? As I pray for the body of Christ, I perceive a real spiritual danger involved in”moving people away” from the hope (Col. 1:23,) – and it is possible that my perception not be merely “my opinion.”(Of course, if it is just “my opinion”, it does not really affect anything.) Nevertheless, does anyone considering himself/herself to be a Christian really want to be a faith- destroyer?
    I simply pray, Wolfgang, as a brother, that your insistence on a set of ideas not induce you to work against God (by causing others to be removed from the Biblical hope.) If in your sincere zeal you turn people away from awaiting that which has not occured, would that not be a faith-destroying effort? Why would you not use restraint in case the 70A.D. idea is wrong (since there is no real evidence to support it?)Why would you not be content to allow others to keep hoping according to Biblical hope (even if you disagree with their perspective?) I appeal to you not to try to “push” your ideas repeatedly where they have already been read/ debated/ etc. I pray that you “get the point” of my concern; I know I will not persuade you of anything with quotes and verses. That is why I respectfully refrain from trying to persuade you to rethink other possibilities about the hope. God bless you. Ken

  25. on 13 Oct 2009 at 12:39 amWolfgang

    Ken,

    I appreciate your long note …

    I do have a non-rhetorical question concerning what you stated toward the end, which seems to be “the point” of your concern.

    Why would my understanding / opinion be dangerous and possibly a faith-destroying effort” whereas what you propose if it were only your understanding / opinion would not be so bad because “”it does not really affect anything” ?

    Is the truth not rather that any position, if it were non-biblical position and only “one’s opinion”, would be possibly destroying the faith?

    I shall indeed now refrain from any further comments on this blog … trinitarians can believe what they want just as unitarians will believe what they want … futurists can adhere to whatever it is they want to hope for, those who believe that prophecy has been fulfilled at the time prophesied by the Lord will believe what they want to believe …

    I am all in favor of people having the liberty to express what they believe … and of learning from one another, while having the responsibility to evaluate and hold on to that which is good.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  26. on 13 Oct 2009 at 11:31 amKen

    Dear Wolfgang,
    God bless you.
    Thanks for your patience to read my lengthy note. Thanks also for your question. If I think of a better way to express my concerns, I will do so at a later time.
    with agape, Ken

  27. on 20 Aug 2010 at 11:29 pmDoubting Thomas

    Mark C
    I found another great article written by you on Oct. 9th. 2009. I agree with everything you are saying in it…

    Robert
    I also like the quote you gave in Msg. #6 above from the anti Preterist site…

  

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