24 February 2007

Matthew 24

Sometime ago I published the following study in a theological newsletter. I thought I'd put it on here for a new audience. It's a bit lengthy so I'll put a bit on at a time, probably once a week.

A Study Matthew 24:1-36


Other than the book of Revelation, Matthew 24 is paramount to understanding the eschatology of the Bible. A study like this has been done before; however, this study will incorporate not only my views but also those who have distinguished themselves in the area of eschatology. A great deal of scholarship has been expended in this area and I don't wish to presume upon those great men who have already traveled this path before. I simply wish to bring some of this work together in a simple and understandable format. Please note that there will be observations on the dispensational viewpoint occasionally but this is not a critique of dispensationalism. A full refutation of that system will not be given.

To start out, the key to this study (or any study) is context. Verse 34 is the answer to the question of "when these events shall take place." The recorded events up to vs. 34 will happen to the generation then living. "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." Christ's language is simple and direct. There is no mistaking it. "This generation" represents the people Jesus was personally speaking to.

Sometimes the word "generation" is mistranslated or misinterpreted to mean "race." There is no warrant for this error in interpretation other than to make the verse and passage fit a particular eschatological viewpoint, i.e., dispensational premillennialism which is so prevalent today. Not only does the common definition fit the passage, but there are several other reasons not to interpret "generation" as "race." First, the Greek word translated as "generation," genea, is used several times in the book of Matthew, but never in the sense of Israel as a race or nation.
These passages are 1:17; 11:16; 12:39-45; 16:4; 17:17; and 23:36. Secondly, there are five instances when genea is definitely referring only to the generation then living. Verses such as 11:16; 12:41; 42, 45; and 23:36 make this evident. A generation in Scripture is generally 40 years (Psalm 95:10, Num. 32:13.) [See Ken Gentry, Dispensationalism in Transition, ICE June 1991.]

Most importantly, the passage warrants the the "then living" interpretation of "generation." It will be demonstrated that all the events Jesus was prophesying actually did occur just a few decades later in A.D. 70. (I do propose, however, that in verse 36 changed the subject and began a separate discourse on a different theme. Thus, chapter 24 can be divided into two parts. Verses 4-35 refer to the signs of impending doom and destruction on Israel and verse 36 into chapter 25 describes the second coming.) As we shall see later, correlating Matthew 24:15-20 with the parallel passage in Luke 21:20-24 additionally gives evidence of the first century time frame of the first part of Matthew 24.

to be continued....

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