Nazarene Apocalypse ©2000
#15. This concludes the Nazarene’s answer to his disciples’ question about the “end” of Jerusalem’s Temple and the parousia or Arrival of the King. It has taken a bit of time to read this carefully and perhaps some attention was paid to the footnotes. These footnotes are meant to explain some of the elements of Jesus’ answer, but they can be left to another time for more thorough consideration by serious Bible students.
#16. Now, ask yourself, what was the immediate subject before the disciples and the Nazarene? Was it not the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem? What shocking words did Jesus utter when they were praising the beauty of the Temple buildings? Was it complete destruction? Now, if you were a Jew of this period and you heard your Rabbi or teacher telling you that your most sacred object of religious devotion was to be destroyed or desolated, what would be your reaction? Since the Nazarene had already spoken of his future coming or arrival to judge his professing Household (Matthew16:27; 13:41; Luke 12:35-48; 17:20-37), and then deliver the righteous, what might these Jews suppose by the thought of the Temple’s end or synteleias? Might they think the destruction of the Temple must mean the foretold Return of their King in his Second Presence or parousia?
#17. At this point it is advisable to re-read the disciples’ question in Mark 13:4 and Luke 21:7. As you do, note the words “coming” (or parousia) and “the end” (or synteleias) are missing in these accounts written some decades after Matthew’s Gospel. Is it not true that if we had only Luke to read we would not arrive at this idea of “the end of the world” as the King James Version has it? What has happened here?
#18. Since the disciples spoke Hebrew with some Aramaic loan words it is likely they may have been familiar with the word “arrival” as it is in one of the Jew’s most apocalyptic books, Daniel. Jesus had often alluded to Daniel 7:13158 which contains the Aramaic word attah meaning “arrived” or “arrival.” This same word is used again Daniel 7:22. In this later verse, it is the Most High who “arrives” to rescue the “saints.” (Daniel 7:18-22; 12:1 JPS) The word attah is coded in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by the number 858. You can look this up yourself. The context of Daniel 7:13 would give the meaning of this word as “arrive” or “became present.” Would it be stretching matters to assume the disciples were aware of this most popular verse often used by Jesus and well known by the priests and scribes? Can we assume that Jesus’ disciples might have believed that if their sacred Temple was to be destroyed then it must mean the attah or parousia, the coming of their King? In other words, if the Temple ends, the Messiah must return.
|158||DANIEL 7:13. This verse reads, ‘And, behold someone like a Son of Man came (Aramaic attah; Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #858) with the clouds of the heavens. And he came to the Ancient of Days.’ This word attah is essentially “arrived” and would be appropriately translated into Greek by a form of parousia (presence) or elthon (arrive). The second use of the word “came” (Daniel 7:22) is the Aramaic metah which means “present” or “arrive”. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4291) When the Son of Man left heaven and came to the earth, he was absent from heaven; however, when he ascended back to heaven, the Son became present again with the Father but now absent from his disciples. (John 6:62; 14:1-3; 17:5) The Nazarene promised to “come again” (John 14:2, 3) and this would require another “descent” (John 6:62; Ephesians 4:9, 10; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Acts 3:20, 21) in harmony with the angel’s promise at Ac 1:9-11. It seems likely that the disciples’ question in Matthew included this Hebrew (Aramaic) word attah and Jesus’ later remarks about his “coming” or “arrival” would use similar Hebrew words. (Matthew 24:27, 37, 39)|
#19. Additionally, the copies of the apocalyptic Book of Daniel were most common in the disciples’ day. They may have even known the text of Daniel 9:26 in what was called the Septuagint (70, LXX). This text actually uses the same word of the disciples’ question, synteleia, in its prophecy about the desolation of Jerusalem. Note how it reads, ‘And after the sixty-two weeks, the Christ shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment in him; and he shall destroy the City and the Sanctuary with the prince that is coming: they shall be cut off with a flood (cataclysm), and to the End (telos) of the war which is rapidly completed he shall appoint the City to desolations. ... And at the end of the time (synteleias) (the City and Sanctuary) shall be put to the desolation.’ (LXX, Bagsters edition) So, it makes good sense that these disciples were shocked by Jesus’ words about the destruction of the Temple and thought this synteleia also meant the “end” (telos) of their “world” or Age and, therefore, the attah or parousia of their King, Jesus the Messiah.
#20. How would Jesus the Nazarene answer this emotionally charged question? Would he go on to develop some kind of “sign” made up of different future events or happenings which would portend his Arrival or Parousia in what has been called the Second Coming? Would he, in affect, provide what many headings to these pages in Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21 in numerous Bible versions call “Signs of Christ’s Coming” or “Sign of the Last Days”? Check your version and see what the headings say in these chapters.
#21. Many have been taught that Jesus gave some elaborate combination of events as a composite sign which would outstandingly mark some future generation just prior to his Coming and “the end of the world.” Now is a good time to read Matthew 24:4-22, Mark 13:5-20.159 Read these carefully and take your time.
|159||Matthew 24 & Mark 13: These, along with Luke chapter 21, have been presented earlier in a compound paraphrase of all the related verses.|
#22. Now, having read these verses, what is your basic understanding of Jesus’ answer? What is the first or initial warning to his disciples in Matthew 24:4 and Mark 13:5? Compare these with Luke 21:8, ‘Be alert so you do not err. For many will come claiming my authority, saying: “The appointed time has approached!” Do not follow them!’160 Is it fair to say the Nazarene’s first warning following their question is one of caution regarding false claims and predictions? Now, how could the Nazarene warn about such claims on the part of false prophets and pseudo-anointed, and, then, go on and actually give an answer by which one could say, “the time is at hand”?
|160||APPOINTED TIME NEAR. Some translations render this: “The Time Is At Hand” (RSV, BY); “the time draweth near” (KJV); “the time has come” (TEV, LB); “the time is very near” (PME, NIV); “the time is near at hand” (JB); “the Day is upon us” (NEB) The Greek translated “appointed time” is kairos and is the same word used by the Nazarene at Ac 1:7.|
#23. In these verses you have just read, to whom does Jesus seem to be speaking? Did you notice the many occurrences of the word “you”? In Greek this is plural, meaning those four disciples who have asked the question. Did you notice certain Jewish words like sanhedrin (Mark 13:9), synagogue (Luke 21:12), and sabbath? (Matthew 24:20) Isn’t the Nazarene clearly speaking to Jewish disciples in words which pertain to their world. Taken all together, does Jesus seem to caution his Jewish disciples about false messiahs (anointed ones) and false predictions? Does the Nazarene seem to warn them to be careful about local or world events which some might interpret erroneously and then start proclaiming, “The Time Is At Hand!”?
#24. If you are familiar with the Book of Acts you will remember much of what Jesus here predicted was historically recorded in that account of the Apostles’ life: persecutions, betrayal, false prophets, testimony before kings and courts, hatred, stumbling, lawlessness, and the international preaching of the Gospel. Is Jesus not foretelling what will happen to his disciples in the days before “the end” of Jerusalem and her Temple?
#25. Look as you may, did you find the words “last days” anywhere in Jesus’ answer? Is it somewhat misleading to put the words “last days” at the top of a page indicating a Bible topic and then not find this in the main text? If a teacher conditions or pre-programs the student’s mind to look for something in the Bible when it is not actually there, what do you think of that? For example, if you were asked to read those texts above in Matthew and Mark and look for those “signs” which foretell the “last days”, what might you be looking for? Signs and Last Days. No where in these particular verses are the words “last days.”
#26. Regarding this often used expression “last days” you could take a concordance, or better, a Greek lexicon, and find those places where this phrase occurs in the Christian Bible, the New Testament. In many Bible you will find this term “last days” in less than a half a dozen texts, and never by Jesus. A comparison of those texts normally using the words “last days” are: Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:1; James 5:3; and, 2 Peter 3:3.
#27. If you read these five texts carefully you will note some are obviously dealing with the “last days” of what could be called the Jewish Temple Age. A couple verses are not specific, but a little reasoning can show the context would apply these to those lives of the readers living at that time, before the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE.
#28. For example, 2 Peter 3:3 reads: ‘For you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires.’ (NWT) This may seem obscure until you realize that Jude verse 18 actually quotes it and applies it to those contemporary times just before Jerusalem’s end. Note this: ‘As for you, beloved ones, call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: "In the last time161 there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things."’ (Jude17,18 NWT)
|161||LAST TIME. Or, NEB: final age; TCNT: time draws near the end. The Greek is eschatou chonou and some would see “end-time” here, referring to Jerusalem’s end.|
#29. This seems true of 2 Timothy 3:1 which opens with the Greek “you”162 in the singular directed to Timothy. The context of these often quoted verses (1-5) show it to have an application to Timothy and not so some future “last days.” Read from 2 Timothy 2:20-3:9 and ask yourself if these verses do not apply directly to the missionary Timothy and those “critical times” he lived in?
|162||YOU, TIMOTHY. Note the NWT (KIT) in the literal interlinear.|
#30. Hebrews 1:1 clearly is discussing the “last days” of the Jewish Age. Combine these words with chapter 9, verse 26, and its phrase is identical to the disciples’ question in Matthew 24:3, ‘end of the Ages.’ The disciples in Matthew: synteleias tou aionos and Hebrews 9:26, synteleia ton aionon are virtually the same expression. It seems obvious that the letter to the Hebrews was written before the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple for it would have suited the writer’s argument well to mention such a thing.
#31.You may have noted that, surprisingly, the words “last days” do not occur in the Apocalypse, the very book we are presently interested in. One might have expected the words “last days” or “time of the end”163 in the Revelation.
|163||TIME OF THE END. Or, End-Times. (kairou peras he horasis) These are popular phrases used often by Doomsday preachers at the beginning of the 21st century. It is a phrase found most often in the Book of Daniel. (Daniel 8:17, 19; 11:35, 40; 12:4) A comparison of these reveals that they apply to Jerusalem and are never used in contexts involving the parousia of Christ. (Daniel chs 2, 7)|
#32. Now, how many times did you spot the words “the end” in that reading of yours in Matthew 24:6, 13, 14 and Mark 13:7, 13 and Luke 21:9? What “end” (telos) was immediately before the disciples? To what “end” does Jesus refer? If you need to read these portions in Matthew, Mark, and Luke again, do so now. Note that Jesus never uses the word “end” (telos) after the general description of the “desolation” of Jerusalem. Nor does he use the words “coming,” “arrival,” or “presence” in the context before Jerusalem’s destruction.
#33. Is it fair to say that it seems Jesus’ use of the word “end” has to do with the end of Jerusalem and her Temple? So much is made by some that the predictions about wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilence, is some composite sign or identifying mark of a last generation before the “end of the world.” In all honesty, this seems a bit obscure, does it not? Could not every generation for the last 2,000 years point to such things? Does it seem more directly to the point, that the Nazarene is telling his excited disciples not to see in these tragedies, or anyone’s prediction regarding them, some “sign,” ‘for the End (of the Temple) is not yet.’ (Matthew 24:6) History, in fact, records all of these wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilence, and false messiahs to have occurred in the generation leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.164 Some of them are to be found right in the Book of Acts.165
|164||WARS, ETC. For historical details see Josephus’ Wars of the Jews written in the First Century.|
|165||TWO FULFILLMENTS? Some will interject the idea that there are two fulfillments, called a minor and major, or type and antitype. One dealing with Jerusalem and another dealing with the End-Times. (See the Scofield Reference Edition notes on this subject.) This fanciful idea cannot be found within Jesus’ answer or anywhere else in the Bible. It is an attempt to make the Bible say something it does not. It is not enough to wave a magic wand and sprinkle fairy dust over texts to give them a forced application.|
#33. Regarding this, some will point to Matthew 24:14 as proof of something else. For, was the ‘good news of the Kingdom preached in all nations’ before Jerusalem’s destruction? We have the firm answer from the disciple Luke and the apostle Paul. Read Acts 2:5 and Colossians 1:23 for an answer. See also Romans 10:17, 18. Read Mark 13:10 and ask yourself, is Jesus not saying that before the “end” of Jerusalem’s Temple, ‘the gospel will be preached first.’ Note also that Luke chooses to omit this international preaching in his account. The very Book of Acts is a living testimony to the international hearing of the Gospel, particular in the area of Judea, Greece and Rome before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Nazarene Commentary 2000©
Mark Heber Miller
©2000 All Rights Reserved