Nazarene Principles ©2000

WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

#120. MESSIAH’S GOVERNMENT. The Bible is very much a book about government. The word groups “king’ and “kingdom” occur over 3,600 times. God’s first promise regarding a kingdom is to His people Israel before Mount Sinai at the giving of the Law Covenant through Moses. Exodus 19:6 reads, ‘If you (Israelites) listen to my voice and obey my covenant then you will become my special property among all the peoples of the earth. And you will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’116 Thus the promise was put to Israel to become a real theocracy in which God truly ruled. A real government with kings chosen out of all earth’s inhabitants. Israel, offspring of Abraham, would produce the foretold Messianic Seed in the form of a New Israel of God comprising a true government. Isaiah 9:6, 7 foretold, ‘For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. And authority has settled on his shoulders. He has been named “The Mighty God is planning Grace; The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler.” In token of abundant authority and of peace without limit upon David’s throne and kingdom that it may be firmly established in justice and in equity now and evermore.’ (JPS)
116 A HOLY NATION. Peter alludes to this verse at 1 Peter 2:9, 10 as an application to the Christian Church.

#121. Peter quotes those expressions above and gives an application to the Christian Elect, ‘You elect sojourners of the Diaspora are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a People for God’s possession, you who were once not a people but are now People of God.’ (1 Peter 1:1; 2:9, 10) The Kingdom of God is highly associated with Israel and just as the Messiah was a Jew, the Kingdom is composed of many Jews. There are also innumerable Gentiles invited to be among The Elect. (Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6, 7; 11:1-36; Galatians 6:16; Revelation 7:9-17; Isaiah 49:9, 10)

#122. THE KINGDOM IN DANIEL. No book has been more influential on the Christian Bible than the book by the prophet Daniel. It is the Book of Daniel which gives rich definition to this subject of the Kingdom and this explains the Kingdom preached by the Nazarene. The Kingdom is a real government in Daniel, comparable to other historical “kingdoms.” Daniel chapters two and seven particularly deal with this subject. Both chapters approach the Kingdom from two different perspectives: the march of world powers related to Bible history and the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God. Both come in the form of dreams or visions. They established the timing of the coming into power of the Kingdom and that moment in history when the Messiah is joined with associates, marking a milestone in the Kingdom’s rule. Let us examine these two visions.

#123. NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM. Chapter two117 relates the details regarding a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It describes an immense image like a colossal man, composed of four primary parts: a golden head, silver arms and chest, bronze belly and thighs, and finally, legs of iron with feet mixed iron and clay. All of these segments, in lowering strata of inferior but harder elements, symbolized real kingdoms or imperial governments to rule earth beginning with Babylon 600 years before Christ. The parallel description and interpretation in chapter seven makes it clear, ‘These four beasts are four kingdoms that shall rise up on earth but the Saints of the Most High shall take the Kingdom and possess it for ever and ever.’ (Daniel 7:17, 18 LXX) These four kingdoms118 in Daniel chapters two and seven119 are identified by most scholars120 as: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.
117 CHAPTER TWO. Please take your time and read Daniel chapter 2.
118 KINGDOMS. For more details on the key elements of Daniel and Revelation see the work Nazarene Apocalypse© in Nazarene Commentary© CD-ROM.
119 CHAPTER 7. Please take your time and read Daniel chapter 7.
120 SCHOLARS. Compare for example The Bible Commentary, F. C. Cook editor (1896)

#124. The finale comes in Daniel 2:44, ‘And in the days of those (four) kings the God of heaven shall set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed and His Kingdom will not be left to another people, but it shall beat to pieces and grind to power all these (four) kingdoms and God’s Kingdom will stand forever.’ (LXX) God’s Kingdom by Messiah begins to reign during the contemporary life times of all four of these kingdoms, obviously during the last or fourth, the kingdom of iron. This was to prove to be Rome.

#125. Comparing the two chapters with other elements in the Book of Daniel, it seems clear these four kingdoms are: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. It would be “in the days” of all four contemporary kingdoms that God’s Kingdom would begin to rule. Messiah would take up power during the reign of the final fourth kingdom of iron, the Roman world power. But, who compose the Kingdom of God? When does the King begin to rule?

#126. WHEN THE KING BEGINS TO RULE. The answer is confirmed in the details of chapter seven of Daniel. Here the same subject is discussed but in Daniel’s own vision of successive beasts: first, a lion (the same as the golden head of Babylon); second, a bear (the same as the chest and arms of silver, Persia); a leopard (the same as the belly and thighs of bronze, Greece); and, fourth, a beast of iron (the same as the legs of iron, Rome). This vision complements chapter two and adds elements and details left out in the general overview of chapter two. Much more information is given regarding the fourth kingdom and the Kingdom of God with its King. In Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, the Kingdom of God is also an important element with the following main factors highlighted.

#127. A HUMAN WILL ASCEND TO HEAVEN. The Kingdom rulership is given to “a Son of man,” or some one who has the appearance of a human being. This title, “Son of Man,” is one Jesus the Nazarene applied to himself. He used it nearly 80 times in the Gospels. Daniel report’s his nocturnal vision in these words: ‘I beheld in the night vision, and lo, one coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man, and he came121 on to the Ancient of Days,122 and was brought near to Him. And to the Son of Man was given dominion, and the honour, and the Kingdom; and all nations, tribes and languages shall serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his Kingdom shall not be destroyed.’ Is it fair to state that this description123 pictures a human124 ascending to God’s own Presence to receive a Kingdom?
121 CAME. This Aramaic word (Strongs # 858) may also be rendered “arrived”.
122 ANCIENT OF DAYS. A unique designation for the same Most High in Daniel 7:22, 27.
123 DESCRIPTION. Compare Revelation chs 4, 5.
124 HUMAN-LIKE. Daniel 7:13. The Latin Vulgate describes this as a hominid. The Greek uses anthropou.

#128. It is good to keep Daniel’s perspective in mind. Where is he in this visionary setting? In verse 16 Daniel records, ‘And I drew near to one of them that stood by.’ He has earlier reported them in verse 10, ‘Thousands upon thousands served Him; myriads upon myriads attended Him.’125 (JPS) If Daniel approaches one such, that is one of the millions of Celestial Beings attending before God, his position must be in heaven in the visions of his head. When the prophet sees some Human126 like a Son of man, “coming127 with the clouds” he must describe someone ascending from earth to heaven to attain the Throne-Room of God Almighty. Jesus himself mentions this ascension at John 6:63, ‘Therefore, what if you ever behold the Son of Man ascending to where he was formerly?’
125 MYRIADS ATTENDED HIM. Compare Revelation 5:11.
126 HUMAN. The Latin Vulgate uses hominis (hominid).
127 COMING. The Aramaic word translated “coming” in Daniel 7:13 is attah (Strongs # 858) may also mean “arrive.” It occurs again at Daniel 7:22. This is likely the word which the disciples used in Matthew 24:3 Hebrew original. For details on this see Nazarene Apocalypse. The LXX uses erkhomenos . The Latin Vulgate has it cum.

#129. There is only one time when this ascent in clouds occurred and it was recorded at Acts 1:9-11: ‘And having said these things, Jesus was lifted up and a cloud took him from underneath before the eyes of the disciples. And as they were gazing into the heaven as Jesus was going his way, look! two (angelic) men dressed in white stood alongside the disciples, saying: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the heaven? This Jesus, the one being received128 up from you into the heavens, will thus come in the manner which you viewed him going his way into the heaven.”’ From Daniel’s prophetic visionary perspective this would be an ascent to his own position before God’s throne and that mass of Celestial Beings attending the Most High, or Ancient of Days. This event truly occurred in the year 33129 AD shortly before the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Thus, Daniel the prophet actually foretold the ascent of Christ to heaven. (Luke 24:51)
128 RECEIVED. Peter understood this, for he tells the Jews a few days later, ‘The LORD should send forth the Christ appointed beforehand for you. It is a necessity that heaven receive Christ until the times of restoration of all things spoken through the prophets’ (Acts 3:20, 21) The Nazarene promised Peter and the other apostles, ‘I am coming back to take you home with me.’ (John 14:3) Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
129 33 AD. Shortly before his martyr’s death, Stephen beholds a vision of the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13) standing at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1) showing Daniel 7:13, 14 had its fulfillment earlier. (Acts 7:55, 56)

#130. That Daniel 7:13, 14 is fulfilled in the year 33 AD with the ascension of Jesus Christ is proven by comparing the Second Psalm and two inspired applications of it. Peter quotes in prayer Psalm 2:1, 2 and applies it to the events in 33 AD: ‘By the mouth of our forefather David your servant, the holy spirit said, “Why are the nations making noise and the peoples meditating upon emptiness? The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers were gathered as one against the LORD and His Christ.” In truth Herod and Pontius Pilate with Gentiles and peoples of Israel, gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus.’ (Acts 4:25-27)

#131. Paul also quotes the Second Psalm, verse 7, as recorded in Acts 13:33, ‘God has fulfilled this promise to the children of the Israelite forefathers by resurrecting Jesus as also it is written in the second Psalm: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.”’ So, Paul has the fulfillment of the Second Psalm upon the resurrection130 and ascension of Jesus in the year 33 AD.
130 RESURRECTION. Compare Romans 1:4; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5.

#132. Therefore, Psalm 2:5, 6 must have also been fulfilled with the ascension of Jesus Christ the Nazarene: ‘Then (Yehowah)131 speaks to (these kings and Gentiles) in anger, terrifying them in His rage, But I have installed My king (the Messiah) on Zion, My holy mountain.”’ (JPS) It is in the year 33 AD when Jesus is fully enthroned in his Messianic Kingdom in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13.
131 YEHOWAH. This is one location in the Hebrew Text where the Jewish Sopherim changed YHWH to Adhonnai.

#133. How much authority and power does the Christ receive on this occasion? Paul states with great conviction the extent of Messiah’s authority in Ephesians 1:20-23: ‘When (the God of our Lord) raised the Christ and seated him at His right hand132 in the Celestial Realms, exalted above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this Age but also in the New Age. God subjected133 everything under Christ’s feet and made him head134 over everything to the Church, which is his Body.’ This degree of power was in complete agreement with what the Glorified Christ himself said: All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given me.’ (Matthew 28:18)
132 RIGHT HAND. This phrase is from Psalm 110:1. The Nazarene himself quotes or paraphrase this verse several times. (Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42; Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69)
133 SUBJECTED. This phrase is from Psalm 8:6.
134 HEAD. Compare Colossians 2:0; Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 2:9.

#134. It is now with his ascension that Christ takes up rulership at God’s right hand in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Paul quotes this verse in the Psalms several times, including 1 Corinthians 15:25, ‘For it is a necessity that Christ reign until God puts all enemies under his feet. The last enemy, Death, is to be made completely ineffective’135; and, in Hebrews 10:12, 13: ‘But this (Priest), offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down at the right hand of The God, and then began waiting until his enemies became his footstool.’ Between these two verses Paul makes it clear that Christ does not wait to rule but ‘reigns waiting,’ otherwise he could not begin to rule until all his enemies were subjected first. Thus, Christ ascends to heaven, returning on clouds, in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13 and is established in power as Psalm 2:6 foretold. Then he must wait while reigning alone before all his enemies are finally made subject to him as Psalm 110:1 predicted.
135 INEFFECTIVE. See the NWT, Kingdom Interlinear (KIT). Various renderings are: NEB: abolished; WMS: stopped; ABUV: done away with.

#135. It is the Nazarene himself who makes a series of compound paraphrases or conflates of the two prophetic texts Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13. When before the Jewish high priests, Jesus assures them that they will still be alive when they see the fulfillment136 of these two texts: ‘I am telling you (priests) you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and returning upon the clouds of heaven.’ Jesus also does something similar in an idiomatic form when he tells his disciples they will live to see the fulfillment of Daniel 7:13. (Matthew 10:23; 16:28) This they did as recorded at Acts 1:9-11. All of this helps us appreciate when Daniel 7:13 is fulfilled. But there is another important feature of Daniel’s prophecy: does Messiah continue to rule alone or does he come to have associates?
136 FULFILLMENT. The Nazarene’s words to the judicial priests seems to say that they will live to see this fulfillment of Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13. Interestingly, note who is present when, shortly before Stephen is stoned, they hear the martyr’s testimony. It is recorded in Acts 7:54-57: ‘They (including the Jewish priests; Acts 4:6; 5:17, 22; 6:12) were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him. But, Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand [Psalm 110:1]. “Look! I can see heaven thrown open,” he said, “and the Son of Man [Daniel 7:13] standing at the right hand of God.” All the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they made a concerted rush at him.’ (NJB) So, in a very real way these priests, before whom Christ had testified, saw the fulfillment of his words.

#136. WHO RULES WITH CHRIST? Daniel continues to introduce a certain body of people called “the Saints of the Most High” in chapter seven. This body of Saints are a unique group who are alive on earth shortly before the Return of Christ and who endure a particularly violent time of Great Oppression at the hands of a new element of the Fourth Beast, Rome. Daniel is told this by the apocalyptic angel: ‘I beheld, and that Horn made war137 with the Saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days arrived, and He gave judgment (in favor of) the Saints of the Most High; and the time came on, and the Saints possessed the Kingdom.138 And the Horn shall speak words against the Most High, and shall oppress139 the Saints of the Most High and the Saints shall be given into his hand for three and one half years.140 The Kingdom and the Power and the greatness of the kings that are under the whole heaven were given to the Saints of the Most High; and their Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom and all powers shall serve and obey them.141 (Daniel 7:21 22, 25, 27)
137 WAR WITH SAINTS. The details on this subject of a Great Oppression (see Daniel 12:1, 7) lasting three and a half years shortly before the Return of Christ is left to a discussion of Revelation 11:2 and 13:5-7. See Nazarene Apocalypse.
138 SAINTS POSSESS (INHERIT) THE KINGDOM. Compare Matthew 5:3, 10; 25:34; 1 Corinthians 15:50,
139 OPPRESS. The Aramic word bela in Daniel 7:25 translated “oppress” by J. R. Kohlenberger III.
140 THREE AND A HALF YEARS. In Hebrew and Greek this is “time, times, and half a time” and equals 3½ years, or 42 months, 1,260 days. (Compare Revelation 11:2; 12:6, 14; 13:5)
141 THEM. “Them” according to the Hebrew text.

#137. Is it clear from this Christ does not always rule alone but is finally joined by associate kings called the “Saints of the Most High.” This term “saints” is one taken up by Paul at 1 Corinthians 6:2, ‘Have you not known that the Saints142 will judge the world?’ He echoes the promises made by the Nazarene, ‘In the New Genesis143, when the Son of Man sits down144 (as judge) upon the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel… (Matthew 19:28) Fear not, Little Flock (of my apostles),145 because the Father thought well of you to give you the Kingdom… (Luke 12:32) You who have remained throughout with me in my trails I am covenanting with you as my Father covenanted with me for a kingdom in order that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ (Luke 22:28-30)
142 SAINTS. Paul uses the word hagioi 40 times in his letters.
143 NEW GENESIS. The Greek is palin-genesia. Various renderings are: KJ: regeneration; RSV: the new world; KNX: the new birth; RIEU: when the world is born anew; MON: in the New Creation; WMS: in the new world order of life; BER: in the new age. The Greek word may be drawn from Job’s own according to the LXX, palin genomai. (Job 14:14, 15)
144 SON OF MAN SITS DOWN. This is not when the Son of Man ascends to the Throne at Daniel 7:13 but with the “return” of the King to judge his Household. (Luke 12:35-48; 19:10-27; Matthew 24:42-51; 25:1-46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:5, 17; 1 John 2:28; 4:17; Revelation 11:18)
145 APOSTLES. See the context from Luke 12:1.

#138. So, those disciples who chose to follow the Nazarene had opened up to them the opportunity to become associates with Christ in his heavenly reign. But, these were not the only ones. In Jesus’ Passover prayer he petitions his Father: I am making a request, not for these (eleven Apostles) only but also for those believing in me through the word146 (of these apostles)… I wish that where I am these also may be with me in order that they may behold my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the founding of the world.’ (John 17:20, 24) Thus, many hundreds of thousands, if not millions147 of other Christians, would one day behold the heavenly glory of the Nazarene. This would occur at that moment Daniel 7:22 foretells, ‘The time had come, and the Saints took possession of the Kingdom.’ When and how would this occur?
146 THEIR WORD. In other words, those future disciples. The Nazarene includes those future believers who learn of Jesus by means of the “words,” written or oral, of the apostles.
147 MILLIONS. The Book of Acts alone accounts for many thousands. (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 6:7; 8:12; 9:42; 11:21, 24, 29; 12:24; 13:48; 14:1, 21; 16:5)

#139. RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT. In order to behold the heavenly glory of Jesus the Nazarene the Saints must undergo a “change.”148 This requires for the dead Saints what Jesus calls a “resurrection.”149 When and how does all of this take place?
148 CHANGE. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Philippians 3:11, 20, 21.
149 RESURRECTION. The Greek for this is anastasis and literally means standing + again. A form of the word occurs in the OT (LXX) at Job 14:12, anaste; Isaiah 26:19, anastesontai; Daniel 12:2, anastese. Compare Matthew 22:28, 30, 31; Mark 12:23; Luke 14:14; 20:27, 33, 35, 36; John 5:29; 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24, 25.

#140. THE RETURN OF CHRIST. First, it is best to discuss the promise of the Nazarene at John 14:2, 3: ‘In the House of my Father are many abodes. If this were not so I would have told you, because I am going to prepare a place for you and if I should go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and I shall gather you150 to me, that where I am, you also may be.’ Near the end of Jesus’ life on earth he begins to discuss at length his future Arrival or Return in what has been called the Second Coming.151
150 GATHER YOU. The Greek is paralempsomai and variously rendered: KJ: receive you unto myself; ABUV: take you to be with me; BECK: take you home; KIT: receive you home to myself. This word is related to paralemphthesetai at Luke 17:34, 35, “taken along.”
151 COMING. Compare Matthew 24:27, 30, 42-44, 50; Mark 13:26, 35; Luke 21:26, 27. For details on the Greek words parousia and erkhomenon see the work Nazarene Apocalypse© in Nazarene Commentary© CD-ROM.

#141. Jesus gave several parables on this subject and they teach that first he must ascend to heaven ‘to receive his Kingdom’ and then ‘after a long time to Return’152 and pass judgment on his own Household.153 This individual judgment of each Christian is based on their words and actions in their life in the flesh according to Jesus, Paul, Peter, John and Jude. Here are their teachings on this subject of judgment: ‘The one who speaks or blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this Present Age or that New Age to come.’ (Matthew 12:32) ‘I say to you, in the Day of Judgment men will have to answer for every unprofitable saying which they speak. For out of your own mouth you will be declared not guilty and out of your own mouth you will be condemned.’ (Matthew 12:36, 37) ‘For when the Son of man arrives (for judgment) in the glory of his Father with all his angels then the Messiah will repay each person according to their own practices.’ (Matthew 16:27) ‘This will be in the Day when The God is judging the hidden things of men.’ (Romans 2:16) ‘For all shall stand in front of the Judgment Seat of The God.’ (Romans 14:10) ‘Therefore, you should not judge before the appointed time, until the Lord arrives. He will bring to light those hidden things of the darkness and he will make manifest the counsels of men’s hearts.’ (1 Corinthians 4:5) ‘For it is a necessity that all of us Saints must appear in front of the Judgment Seat of Christ in order that each one of us may be awarded or repaid for those things performed while in the flesh, whether good or vile.154 (2 Corinthians 5:10) ‘Since human beings die only once, after which comes judgment.’ (Hebrews 9:27 NJB) ‘They shall give account to Him, who is ready to judge the living and the dead.155 (1 Peter 4:5 NAS) ‘Because the appointed time begins the Judgment from the House of God and if we Saints are the first to be judged what will be the end of those disobedient to the Gospel?’ (1 Peter 4:17) ‘So, when the Son of God appears we Saints can be outspoken (in the Day of Judgment) and not put to shame at his Arrival.’ (1 John 2:28; 4:17) ‘Angels are being reserved for the great Day of Judgment but you Saints keep yourselves in the love of God while patiently awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ bringing you everlasting life.’ (Jude 6, 21, 24)
152 RETURN. Compare Luke 19:12; Matthew 25:19.
153 HOUSEHOLD. Matthew 24:42-25.46; Luke 12:35-48.
154 GOOD OR VILE. Compare John 5:29 with Daniel 12:2.
155 LIVING AND THE DEAD. Compare 2 Peter 2:9; 3:7; 2 Timothy 4:1.

#142. WHERE ARE THE DEAD SAINTS? It would be most timely at this point to answer this question and related questions about the condition of the dead. Many have been raised to believe, or taught to believe, that each human being possesses a “soul” which escapes the body at death and goes to live in an after-life. They believed, therefore, that all good Christians were in heaven. Had the resurrection begun in Paul’s own day? He is severely critical of two heretics in his time with the words, ‘Their word will spread like gangrene… and they have deviated from the Truth saying the resurrection has already occurred and they are subverting the faith of some.’ (2 Timothy 2:17, 18 NWT)

#143. In the introductory portion of Nazarene Principles, we had suggested the use of a concordance to research certain words. Here is a good place to use one. Those words for “soul,” the Hebrew nephesh (Strongs # 5315) and the Greek psyche (Strongs # 5590), can be researched at your leisure, along with other words, such as: death, grave, hell (Sheol, Hades), or resurrection. What will such a study reveal? Some commentaries make these observations:

#144. "There is no dichotomy of body and soul in the OT. The Israelite saw things concretely, in their totality, and thus they considered men as persons and not as composites. The term ne'phesh, though translated by our word soul, never means soul as distinct from the body or the individual person… The term psy·khe' is the NT word corresponding with ne'phesh. It can mean the principle of life, life itself, or the living being." (New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Vol. XIII, pp. 449, 450.)

#145. "The Hebrew term for 'soul' (nefesh, that which breathes) was used by Moses… signifying an 'animated being' and applicable equally to nonhuman beings… New Testament usage of psyche ('soul') was comparable to nefesh." (The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1976), Macropædia, Vol. 15, p. 152.)

#146. "The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture." (The Jewish Encyclopedia (1910), Vol. VI, p. 564.)

#147. The Dictionary of New Testament Theology makes the following observations: (Vol 1, page 433, 435) “In OT thought death means the final end of man’s existence… The NT view of death is in direct continuity with the old Jewish view… (Vol 3, page 679) Plato provides us with the idea that the soul can be deprived of its body, that it does not come fully into its own until it has been separated from the body, and that it is immortal.” Did the Bible teach this? [For details on this subject see the online publication, Where Are the Dead? According to the Bible]

#148. In the Jewish Greek Septuagint the word normally translated “soul”, psyche, occurs 900 times. A comparison of these occurrences will reveal over 100 which demonstrate the “soul” to be mortal156 and destructible. Not once is “soul” connected with immortality. The word “immortality”157 is used only by Paul and is an attribute of the glorified Christ and the resurrected Saints. (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54; 1 Timothy 6:16) This “immortality” may be attained only upon the resurrection at the Return of Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-53)
156 THE SOUL IS MORTAL. Compare Ezekiel 18:4, 20.
157 IMMORTALITY. The Greek is athanasian and is literally un + death, or non-dying.

#149. In the entire Bible the condition of the dead is one of sleep and unconsciousness. A comparison of a concordance on the words “death” and “sleep” will establish the truth of Psalm 146:3, 5158; Ecclesiastes 3:19-21159; 9:5, 10160; Daniel 12:2161; John 11:11-14, 25, 26162. At this time it would be good to also compare the words often translated “hell” or “grave.” In Hebrew this is Sheol and in Greek Hades. This study will show Jesus only used the word Hades, three times (once in a parable) and Paul never, despite what he says in Acts 20:20. Peter uses it in Acts 2:27, 31 to show Christ went there when he died and then returned to life. The word occurs in Revelation 20:13, 14 where it shows all the dead come out of Hades and then are judged after which Hades and Death are thrown into “Second Death.” (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:24-27)
158 PSALM 146:3, 4. What happens to the thoughts when a person dies?
159 ECCLESIASTES 3:19-21. Where do both man and animals go at death?
160 ECCLESIASTES 9:5, 10. How much do the dead know?
161 DANIEL 12:2. The condition of the dead is likened to what?
162 JOHN11:11-14, 25, 26. What is the only hope for the dead?

#150. WHEN IS THE RESURRECTION? Paul has said above that the resurrection had not occurred in his day. That meant all persons, including the Christian dead, rested in an unconscious sleep. (1 Corinthians 7:39; 15:6, 18, 20, 51) With regard to the time and sequence of this rising from unconscious sleep in a resurrection, Paul taught: ‘Since death is by a man, the resurrection of the dead is by a man. For as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.’ (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22) ‘According to which The God has established a Day in which He will judge righteously all the earth by a Man He appointed and this is something all men can trust because The God resurrected this Man out of the dead.’ (Acts 17:31) ‘But, each individual in his own order or rank: a) Christ, a firstfruits of those who sleep in death; b) thereafter, those of the Christ at his Arrival163; c) and, finally, The End… when the last enemy Death is rendered ineffective.’164 (1 Corinthians 15:23-26) It seems fair to conclude that there are two major groupings among this “all”: Christians and everyone else. Christians would be raised at the Return of Christ. When would the “rest of the dead” be raised? Paul indicates this will be at what he calls “the end.” But, can we get to know more precisely when this general or last resurrection occurs?
163 AT HIS ARRIVAL. The Greek is en te parousia autou and is literally, “in his Presence.” (1 John 2:28; 1 Thessalonians 2:19) That is, at his Return as King. Dead Christians must wait in unconscious sleep until the Return of Christ. An ancient Christian grave marker read: “Sleep, a temporary rest is granted you.” Since this sleep is in a state of total unconsciousness there is no sensation of a lapse of time and upon the resurrection it would feel instantaneous.
164 RENDERED INEFFECTIVE. See KIT. Various renderings are: NWT: brought to nothing; KJ: destroyed; NEB: abolished; WMS: stopped; ABUV: done away with. Note “death” is not destroyed or brought to nothing until what Paul calls “The End.”

#151. The only other Biblical text which covers a similar sequence is Revelation 20:4-7, 12, 13. These verses answer our question very directly in an abbreviated paraphrase: ‘I saw those victorious (Christian Saints),165 they lived166 and they reigned167 with the Messiah a Thousand Years… This is the First Resurrection168… The rest of the dead169 lived not170 until The End171 of the Thousand Years. When the Thousand Years end172… the dead stood before a great white Throne173 (of the Messiah) and small books174 were opened and the dead were judged out of the things written in these small books and each one of the dead were judged175 by their own works.’ Is it fair to suggest that this agrees with Paul (1 Corinthians 15:23, 24) and that there will be two resurrections and two judgments: a) the first upon the Christian Church, the Household of Faith at the Return of Christ; and, b) the rest of mankind, all of Adam’s children, are raised at the end of the Thousand Years, and there receive their judgment, either to everlasting life on earth, or extinction. But, who are alive on earth during the Thousand Years?
165 CHRISTIAN SAINTS. This is inferred by the description in verse 4. Note two things: a) the martyrs who cry out in Revelation 6:9-11 end their “rest” and see justice executed; and, b) those Saints alive at the time of the Great Oppression who endure the Wild Beast’s three and a half years of persecution.
166 THEY LIVED. Or, “came to life.” The Greek is ezesan and according to verse 6 it equals “they were resurrected.” (Compare ezesan at Romans 14:9; Revelation 2:8)
167 THEY REIGNED. Compare Daniel 7:22, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 5:9, 10. Part of the duty of a king is to “judge” which this phrase shows the Saints doing during the Thousand Years.
168 FIRST RESURRECTION. If there is a “first” (as 1 Corinthians 15:23, 24 infers) there must be a second or last.
169 THE REST OF THE DEAD. Compare the “all” at 1Corinthians 15:22.
170 LIVED NOT. This is the same Greek word of verse 4, ezesan, but in the negative. If ezesan of verse 4 means a resurrection (see verse 6) then would not this phrase “not lived” or “did not come to life” mean they are not resurrected until the end of the Thousand Years? (Compare ezesan = resurrection at Romans 14:9 and Revelation 2:8)
171 THE END. Or, “until the Thousand Years should end.” The Greek is telesthe and is very much related to Paul’s phrase to telos at 1 Corinthians 15:24.
172 END. The Greek is telesthe again (see vs 5) and is related to Paul’s to telos. (1 Corinthians 15:24) Note the Nazarene’s use of the phrase “the last day” with reference to the resurrection and judgment. (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48; compare Daniel 12:13)
173 A GREAT WHITE THRONE. This is not the Throne elsewhere in the Apocalypse. Note what the Nazarene teaches in John 5:22. Note Messiah as judge in Isaiah 11:3, 4.
174 SMALL BOOKS. Likely the record or log of accounts regarding the “all” of 1 Corinthians 15:22. Note how the Nazarene puts this at Matthew 12:36, 37 and John 12:48. Compare Hebrews 9:26, 27.
175 JUDGED. Consider this word-group “judge” in a concordance.

#152. If none are resurrected during the Thousand Years, who are alive to be “judged” by the glorified Saints? For verse 4 states, ‘I saw thrones and they that sat down upon them. Judgment was given to them.’176 This may also be rendered: KNX: those to whom judgment was committed; GDSP: who were empowered to act as judges. So, who do the Saints judge? Paul had argued with the Corinthians, ‘Do you not know the Saints will judge the world?’ (1 Corinthians 6:2) The answer lies in Revelation 20:3, ‘…that Satan the Devil may no longer cause the nations to err until the Thousand Years end.’ Imagine? A “world” (1 Corinthians 6:2) without the influence of the Devil? What kind of “world” would this be?
176 JUDGMENT WAS GIVEN TO THEM. This phrase in Greek, kai krima edothe autois, is very similar to Daniel 7:22, kai to krima edoken hagiois. On this basis some would apply this phrase to that judgment in favor of the Saints. (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29)

#153. It must be admitted there are only a very few texts upon which to determine these matters in any detail. However, let us present some picture which will illustrate Messiah’s Millennial Reign. Read as we may in the entire Book of Revelation, or the Apocalypse, and no where do we find that the “world” comes to an end177 with Armageddon. Read those chapters which specifically deal with this period in prophetic events: 6:12-17; 7:1, 2; 9:15; 11:18; 14:19, 20; 16:14, 16; 17:11; 18:1-24; 19:11-21. In all of this one or two points stand out. Revelation 9:15 makes a clear statement: ‘And the Four Angels were released, those prepared for the hour, day, month and year, to kill one-third of mankind.’ Judging from this does it seem fair to conclude that the Four Angels of Revelation 7:1-3 will “kill” one-third of mankind, leaving two-thirds? Another point to note is that in all of these verses above, other than 9.15, the only thing described as destroyed by the King are abstractions: Babylon the Great, the Wild Beast, the False Prophet.178 In Revelation19:20 only two are hurled into the Lake of Fire, the Second Death. (Revelation 20:6, 10, 14) “The rest were killed” says verse 21 of chapter nineteen without indicating these entered Second Death. All things considered, a majority of earth’s inhabitants, made up of hundreds of “nations,” will survive to live into the beginning of Messiah’s Thousand Year reign no longer to be mislead by the Devil. (Revelation 20:3)
177 END. No where in the Nazarene’s answer to his disciples’ question in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21, does he ever use the word “end” in relation to the world of mankind. For details on these chapters see Nazarene Apocalypse and the article Did Jesus Predict the End of the World?
178 FALSE PROPHET. For details on these matters in Revelation see the work Nazarene Apocalypse.

#154. There is another prophet who also indicates “the nations” will survive Armageddon. Zechariah 14:5, 8, 11, 16, 17 in part reads: ‘And the Lord my God shall come and all the Saints with Him.179… And in that day living water shall come forth out of Jerusalem.180… And there shall be no more any curse (on Jerusalem).181… And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall be left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem182 shall even come up every year to worship the King.183… And it shall come to pass that whosoever of all the families of the earth184 shall not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty,185 even these shall be added to the others.’186 (LXX)
179 SAINTS. This phrase is nearly identical in Greek to 1 Thessalonians 3:13.
180 LIVING WATER. This phrase is the same as that of Revelation 22:1 indicating the prophetic context of the Thousand Years.
181 CURSE ON JERUSALEM. This phrase is identical to that of Revelation 22:3 and evidently refers to that oppressing war against the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 11:2.
182 AGAINST JERUSALEM. This phraseology is nearly identical to Revelation 11:2.
183 WORSHIP THE KING. Compare Isaiah 66:22-24.
184 ALL THE FAMILIES. This phrase is straight out of Genesis 12:3; 28:14. On the word “families” read Genesis chapter 10.
185 THE LORD ALMIGHTY. Or, “the King, Yehowah of armies.’
186 THE OTHERS. Likely the same as the “one-third” of Revelation 9:15.

#155. Does the prophet Zechariah not agree with the apostle John by indicating there will be “survivors” (NIV; NJB) of Armageddon from among those “nations” who actually “came against Jerusalem”? (Compare the “nations” at Revelation 11:2) There are enough phrases here in Zechariah which are alluded to in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 to prove that nothing is being lifted out of the prophetic context. (see footnotes) Thus, there are two prophets which indicate many, if not a majority, will survive Armageddon.

#156. There is one other text which gives some indication as to what will happen during the Thousand Year reign of the Messiah. Isaiah chapter 65 is generally understood to apply during the Thousand Years. Thus, we note verses 17, 19, 20: ‘For look, I am going to create new heavens and a new earth, and the past will not be remembered.… No more will the sound of weeping be heard there, nor the sound of a shriek; never again will there be an infant there who lives only a few days, nor an old man who does not run his full course; for the youngest will die at a hundred, and at a hundred the sinner will be accursed.’ (Isaiah 65:17-20) Is this language clear enough to establish that there will be ‘death’ during the Thousand Years; and, there will be “sinners” who have ‘evil called down upon them.’ This last phrase helps us to understand what Revelation 20:6 said about those Saints raised in the First Resurrection: ‘over these the Second Death has no authority.’ If that is the case, then Second Death does have authority over others during the Thousand Years. What kind of world would this be?

#157. Imagine a world without the Devil? Without the Wild Beast? Without Babylon the Great? Without the False Prophet? Visions of what Eden would have been like had Adam not failed in his faith fire our imaginations. Mankind under the rule of Jesus the Nazarene, without Satanic influence, without religious deception, without political tyranny ought to make for conditions which would funnel mankind’s creativity to the healing of the environment in a miraculous way! It would be a world considerably more healthy than anything under the rule of “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) in pre-Armageddon centuries. Despite the coming and going of successive generations throughout the Thousand Years the rule of Messiah will truly be peaceful and healthy. (Isaiah chs 11, 32, 35, 65)

#158. The Devil was given six millenniums to prove his accusation against God in Genesis chapter 3 and Job chapters 1 and 2. Satan had thousands of years and the world today represents his best efforts. The God of Heaven has allocated a single millennium to demonstrate His grace by means of Christ to all mankind. Ephesians 2:7 explains the reason God has invited the Saints to enjoy a heavenly reward, ‘That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace.’ (KJV) Under Messianic rule and judgment it is a time to educate the earth in the “knowledge of Yehowah”: ‘For earth will be filled with the knowledge of Yehowah as the waters cover the seas… For when the earth experiences Thy judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness… Those who are dead will stand up again; those in the memorial tombs will be resurrected --- joyfully rising like fresh dew from the earth with healing for themselves.’ (Isaiah 11:9; 26:9, 19; NAS; LXX) It is beyond the imagination what all this will mean for mankind during the Thousand Years.

#159. SUMMARY: THE KINGDOM. All those who have ever lived and died187 on this planet, save One, are in unconscious sleep188 awaiting the resurrection189 and the judgment.190 Christ was the first191 to be raised. All claiming to be Christian believers or Saints will be raised upon the Return192 of Christ. This has not yet occurred and, therefore, none of mankind has been raised. None have gone to heaven or continue living elsewhere. However, they do “live to God”193 because He “remembers”194 them and they sense no passage of time as in a very deep sleep. The dead will awake in God’s time and it will seem instantaneous to them from the moment they died. Upon the Arrival195 of Christ in his foretold Presence, the Christian dead will be raised into the parousia-Judgment upon the Household of God.196 The “called and chosen and faithful”197 will join Christ as kings, priests and judges198 during the Thousand Years.199 Following the Thousand Years all the dead among mankind in general, numbering into billions from all periods of historical time, will be resurrected for the Last Judgment.200 They will all be judged according to their words and works201 during their previous life on earth. The righteous will enter eternal life on earth. The wicked will be turned into the Second Death202 from which there is no recovery.
187 DIED. See 1 Corinthians 15:20, 21; John 5:28, 29.
188 UNCONSCIOUS SLEEP. See Psalm 146:3, 4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Daniel 12:2; John 11:11-14; 1 Corinthians 15:20.
189RESURRECTION. See Acts 17:31; 24:15.
190 JUDGMENT. See Hebrews 9:27.
191 CHRIST FIRST. See 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5; 2:8.
192 RETURN. See 1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. Compare the judgment of the Saints in the parable of the Sheep and Goats. (Matthew 25:31-46)
193 LIVE TO GOD. Or, “alive from God’s standpoint.” See Luke 20:38.
194 REMEMBER. See Job 14:13, 14.
195 ARRIVAL. See John 14:3; Matthew 24:30, 31, 42-51; 25:1-30.
196 HOUSEHOLD JUDGED. See 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:5, 17.
197 FAITHFUL. See Revelation 17:14.
198 KINGS, PRIESTS, JUDGES. See 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:5, 7, 12-14.
199 THOUSAND YEARS. For details see the work Nazarene Apocalypse.
200 LAST JUDGMENT. See Hebrews 6:2; 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 20:5, 7, 12-14.
201 JUDGED BY WORDS AND WORKS. Matthew 12:32, 36, 37; 16:27, 28; John 3:19-21; 12:47, 48; Romans 2:5, 6, 15, 16; Revelation 20:12-14.
202 SECOND DEATH. See Revelation 20:14, 15.

#160. A SPIRITUAL MYSTERY! There is an exception to the above discussion on the resurrection. There is another facet to this subject of the heirs of the Kingdom and how, indeed, “the Kingdom comes.” This is in reference to those Friends of the Nazarene, or Christian believers, alive on earth at the very moment when Christ returns or arrives in his promised Parousia. This special group of faithful and awake Saints receive particular attention in the teachings of the Nazarene. This unique body of disciples is a special focus in the Third Nazarene Principle. Once the Nazarene asked a frightening question: ‘When the Son of Man arrives will he find The Faith on earth?’ (Luke 18:8)

#161. Happily we can answer a resounding “Yes!” to this rhetorical question and do so with great confidence. Paul assures us based on two sources: a) a mystery revelation; and, b) the teachings of the Nazarene. First, the “mystery”. We find this primarily in three texts: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 2 Thessaonians 2:1, and 1 Corinthians 15:23, 51, 52. Presented as a conflate203 here in a compound paraphrase, these would read in part: ‘Now concerning the Arrival (or, Presence) of Christ and our Gathering204 to him: (2 Thessalonians 2:1) …In complete command, the Lord Jesus, will come down from heaven205 with an Archangel’s voice206 and with the Trumpet of God207 and those dead in Christ208 will be resurrected first. Thereafter, we the living,209 who remain to the Arrival of the Lord,210 will be snatched211 in clouds at the same time212 and together with the (dead Saints) will meet the Lord in the air… Look! I tell you this mystery: We (Saints) will not all die!213 But, we (living Saints) will be changed214 in the thinnest slice of time,215 in the blink of an eye, at the Last Trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead (Saints) will be raised and we living (Saints) will all be changed.’ Do these verses show that one group of Friends of the Nazarene, those alive when Christ commands in the voice216 of the Archangel (Michael) and sounds the Trump of God, are “snatched” or “caught away” just after the dead Saints are resurrected? Did Jesus the Nazarene teach the same?
203 CONFLATE. This means a compound paraphrase, drawing two or more verses or phrases together into one unified thought. The Nazarene does this at John 5:28, 29 ( = Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2) and John 11:25, 26. (Daniel 12:1, 2) These verses from the Thessalonian and Corinthian letters are fused together to give a clear picture of the overall event.
204 GATHERING. Compare Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27; Luke 21:28.
205 COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN. Jesus Christ must leave heaven (Acts 3:20, 21) and descend to the earth’s atmosphere. (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7)
206 ARCHANGEL’S VOICE. The Messiah is identified as Michael the Archangel. (Daniel 12:1; Jude 9) The LXX calls the Messiah, ‘Angel of Great Counsel.’ (Isaiah 9:6)
207 THE TRUMPET OF GOD. Likely this is the “signal” or “sign” (LXX) of Isaiah 11:12. Compare Revelation 11:18.
208 THOSE DEAD IN CHRIST. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:23.
209 WE THE LIVING. Compare Matthew 24:44, 45; 25.1-30; Luke 12:35-48.
210 ARRIVAL OF THE LORD. Or, literally, ‘into the Presence of.’
211 SNATCHED. Many render this “caught away” or “caught up.” The Greek is harpagesometha and means to “snatch quickly.” (Note Jude 23) A form of the word occurs at Revelation 12:5 and 2 Corinthians 12:2. It is inferred in the case of the Nazarene at Acts 1:9-11. If the Greek were translated by a Latin biased word it would be “rapture” for the Latin rapere (from which comes “rape, rapacious, rapture”) is nearly identical to harpagesometha. The Fourth Century Latin Vulgate uses rapiemur. From this comes the teaching of the Rapture. Note the apocalyptic rapture at Revelation 11:12.
Compare the Dictionary of New Testament Theology (DNTT), Vol 3, page 602-3: “In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Paul deals with the final rapture into the fellowship of the redeemed at the last day. It was not the sufferings of the church that caused Paul to make the statement, but the concern of some of its members about the fate of Christians who had already died. This concern is removed by the certainty of resurrection. Those Christians who were still alive would not die but would be taken up directly into the fellowship of those who had already been raised, ‘as they leave the gates of the world to meet in the air the Christ acclaimed as Lord.’”
212 AT THE SAME TIME. The Greek here is hama syn and generally most translators omit the word hama. This is unfortunate for the two words together emphasize the simultaneous nature of the event. “All” are “changed” or raptured instantly, all together, at the same time, not over some extended period. The brevity of the time period is demonstrated by the Nazarene’s own words and warnings at Matthew 24:39-42 (“day”); Mark 13:35 (from afternoon to dawn, a twelve hour period); Luke 17:31-36 (during “day,” when two might be working; or, “night” during sleep). When the Lord returns it will be day or night depending on the side of the globe where some are working and some are still sleeping.
213 NOT DIE. Or, literally, “not sleep.” Judging from Paul’s use of “sleep” in this chapter (1 Corinthians 15) alone (6, 18, 20), sleep equates with death. Thus some render this “shall not die.” (MOF, GDSP)
214 CHANGED. TCNT: transformed. Compare Paul’s use of meta-skhematisei at Philippians 3:21 with regard to the resurrection. In other words a change of the “schematic.” Some would apply the “change” to all the Saints, living and dead, however, it seems to us to be an editorial “we” applying to the subject at hand: those who do not die.
215 THINNEST SLICE OF TIME. Often rendered “moment” this is the Greek atomos from which the English “atom” is drawn. It originally was used of the thinnest slice of bread and later became the shortest possible moment of time. Paul’s metaphor is the speed of an eye blinking which is now known to be 1/250 or 1/500th of a second. The “change” is from the mortal, physical (soul-like) existence on earth to that of the immortal spirit-like in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:42-50)
216 VOICE. Note the “voice” in John 5:28 with the Nazarene’s call to Lazarus. (John 11:43) Likely the call at Revelation 18:4, “Come out, my People!”

#162. In 1 Thessalonians 4:15 Paul wrote, ‘We say this by the word of the Lord.’ What may this mean? If the “Lord” be here the Nazarene -- Paul’s use of “Lord” in the surrounding context would argue so (verses 1, 15, 16, 17) -- then there is something in Jesus’ teaching which made Paul say this. The New Jerusalem Bible renders this phrase, ‘We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching.’ If this be correct, from where would Paul draw these conclusions in the sayings of the Nazarene? Where did Jesus teach about a group of dead believers who would be resurrected and a group of living believers who would never die?

#163. The answer is at John 11:25, 26, ‘If the one believing in me should die, he will live again; and everyone living and believing in me will never die.’ Are there be two groups here? A believing group which dies and comes to life, or is resurrected; and, a living group of believers who will never die? Could this be the source for Paul’s words?

#164. From what source does the Nazarene draw his own teaching? Jesus’ comforting words to Martha are too much like Daniel 12:1, 2 to be coincidental: ‘Michael will appear217 at a time of trouble218 and then your People219 will be rescued220 and many221 of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence.’222 This connection places the resurrection and the rapture of the Friends of the Nazarene precisely in the prophetic context of the Great Oppression.
217 MICHAEL WILL APPEAR. The JPS renders this correctly as “appear.” On this appearance, note Matthew 24:30; Revelation 12:.7, 10.
218 TIME OF TROUBLE. In another place, the Nazarene alludes to this verse in Daniel and is shown using the word thlipsis, the same word used in the LXX at Daniel 12:1. This is the source of the megale thlipsis, or great tribulation. (Great Oppression) (Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 7:14) In the Nazarene’s teachings in Matthew chapter 24 the gathering of the Saints occurs after the Great Oppression. (Matthew 24:20, 21, 29, 31)
219 YOUR PEOPLE. The Nazarene calls them “the Elect” at Matthew 24:21, 22. The Apocalypse identifies these as a “large crowd.” (Revelation 7:9, 14)
220 RESCUED. Some render this “escape” or “delivered.” The “come out” of Revelation 7:14 is this same rescue.
221 MANY. Note “many,” not the “all” of 1 Corinthians 15:22, for the context deals with Israel and the Saints. “All” will finally rise from their slumber in death at the end of the Thousand Years.
222 SOME. This final phrase is alluded to by the Nazarene in John 5:29 proving that the resurrection is the subject in Daniel 12:2. There is an echo of Daniel 12:2 in 2 Corinthians 5:10. The beloved John almost borrows the word aiskhynen at 1 John 2:28 where he uses aiskhynthomen in the context of Judgment Day. (1 John 4:17)

#165. THE GREAT OPPRESSION. It is not possible to discuss the subject of the Kingdom and the Third Nazarene Principle without incorporating the subject of a foretold period of Great Oppression. This subject occurs in John’s vision in the Apocalypse or Revelation where he sees a Large Crowd223 standing in the sight of God’s Throne, dressed in white robes, and serving God in His Celestial Temple. The heavenly presbyter in the vision asks a question, ‘Who are these?’ He then proceeds to answer his own inquiry, ‘These come out of the Great Oppression.’ (Revelation 7:9-17)
223 LARGE CROWD. For details on this subject see the work Nazarene Apocalypse. The Large Crowd is symbolized by the number 144,000. This view is similar to that expressed by the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Colin Brown editor), Vol 2, page 695: “ . . . 12 x 12,000 = 144,000 who are sealed ... from the tribes of Israel; cf. also 14:3. Thus the number 144,000 does not denote a numerical limitation of those who are sealed; it symbolizes the final perfection of the people of God (cf. also 7.9). In this respect when John sees them, as opposed to hearing the number of the sealed, they are ‘a great multitude which no man can number . . . (cf. Rev. 7:9 with 7:4).”

#166. The exact phrase tes thlipseos tes megales used by the presbyter is virtually identical to that used by the Nazarene at Matthew 24:21, thlipsis megale. Can there be any question the Nazarene (and the heavenly presbyter) draws this from the Septuagint at Daniel 12:1, where thlipseos is used in language nearly identical to that of Jesus? Thus “these” in white robes in Revelation 7:14, 15 are the same as the Elect who are “saved” in the words of Jesus at Matthew 24:22; and, therefore, the same as “your people written in the Book” who are “rescued” at Daniel 12:1.

#167. A few verses after Daniel 12:1, 2 the prophet inquires as to the length of time until this “oppression” (thlipsis) ends, and as in John’s own case, a celestial being answers the question: ‘For (three and a half years). And when the breaking of the power of the Holy People comes to an end, then shall all these things be fulfilled.’ (Daniel12:7) This would seem to fix the period of the Great Oppression at three and a half years.

#168. This period of time is first mentioned earlier in Daniel 7:21-27: ‘I beheld, and that Horn made war with the Saints, and prevailed against them (and he shall oppress the Saints of the Most High for three and a half years) until the Ancient of Days arrived. He gave judgment to the Saints of the Most High and the time came and the Saints took possession of the Kingdom.’ (Based on LXX) These verses are the source for the words at Revelation 13:5-7, ‘And authority for forty-two months was given to the Wild Beast and it was given to make war with the Saints and to conquer them.’ This confirms the length of the “time, times,224 and half a time” to be three and a half years. It is the same length of time given in Daniel 12:7.
224 TIMES. The JPS renders this phrase, “a year, two years, and a half year,” that is, three and a half years. Compare Revelation 11:2; 12:6, 14; 13:5-7; Luke 4:25; James 5:17.

#169. In Revelation 11:2, 7, 12 the Rapture is foretold to occur at the end of this period of Great Oppression: ‘It was granted to the nations and they will trample on the Holy City (the New Jerusalem) for forty-two months… The Wild Beast will make war with (the Saints) and will conquer them and kill them… And spirit of life from God entered (the Saints) and they stood upon their feet225 and they heard a great voice226 out of heaven saying to them: “Come up here!”227 And (the Saints) ascended into heaven in the cloud228 and their enemies watched229 them.’ Would this not confirm the Rapture occurs after the Great Oppression just as suspected from the Nazarene? (Matthew 24:29, 31)
225 FEET. Compare Ezekiel 37:1-14.
226 A GREAT VOICE. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and John 5:28.
227 COME ON UP HERE! Is this the call of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Revelation 18:4?
228 ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN. It is too similar to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 to be considered anything but the Rapture. (Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 12:5)
229 WATCHED. Or, “beheld.” Evidently the Rapture is visible to those left behind.

#170. The Nazarene’s own use of the term “great oppression” is in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple. It is noteworthy that this period of great distress and affliction occurred between the years 66 to 70 AD, which is a period of three and a half years. In discussing this “distress,” Luke 21:20-24230 paraphrases Matthew’s and Mark’s account about the Great Oppression with these words: ‘When you see Jerusalem being encircled by encamped armies then you know that her desolation has drawn near. These are days of vengeance that all the things written (in Daniel) are to be fulfilled. For there will be great necessity upon the earth and wrath on this people. They will fall by the sword and be led captive into all the nations and Jerusalem will be trampled by the nations until the appointed times of the nations should be fulfilled.’ It is no coincidence that this great Roman oppression occurred during the three and a half years between 66 and 70 AD.231 It was during this time that Paul and Peter both sealed their confession of Christ by martyrdom.
230 LUKE 21:20-24. For details on the Nazarene’s prophecy see the work Nazarene Apocalypse.
231 70 AD. It is extremely noteworthy than the whole period of the Jewish wars with Rome, commemorated by coins for five years, ran from the Fall of 66 to the capture of Masada in the spring of 73 AD. This is so close to 2,300 days so as not to be coincidental. (Compare Daniel 8:13, 14 and Josephus’ Wars of the Jews.)

#171. It seems clear that Revelation 11:2 is a very strong allusion or paraphrase of Luke 21:24 thus showing that this “appointed times of the nations” is three and a half years in length. When the Apocalypse was written Jerusalem lay desolate in fulfillment of the Nazarene’s prophecy for almost three decades. Revelation 11:2 has another city in mind, the Holy City of New Jerusalem mentioned elsewhere in the Bible’s last book. Further, the prophecy in Daniel 12:1, 2 has the resurrection occurring after the Great Oppression. There are two historical periods of Great Oppression against the People of God. One upon the Jewish Elect232 in the First Century and one to come upon the Christian Elect of New Israel233 before the Arrival of the King in his Parousia.
232 JEWISH ELECT. The Jewish nation was considered God’s Elect or Chosen Ones. (Psalm 105:6, 43; 106:5; Isaiah 65:15, 22) In the days of Christ this included Jesus’ own disciples, like Paul and Peter. Rome saw little difference between the Jews and the Christians. The Christians were just another Jewish sect and they all came under the wrath of Rome during Nero’s bloody oppression.
233 ISRAEL. See Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6, 7; Revelation 7:4.

#172. SUMMARY. Shortly before the Return of Christ, that is the Arrival of the King in his Second Coming, there will be a Great Oppression lasting three and a half years. Immediately after this Great Oppression, because God brings an end to it by rescuing the Elect, Jesus Christ returns to resurrect the sleeping Saints and to snatch quickly out of harm’s way those living Saints. Following these events, Christ and the victorious Saints, and all the Chosen Angels, come to render judgment upon the earth, culminating in the war of Armageddon. But, this raises some questions related to the coming Kingdom of God taught by the Nazarene in the Third Principle. How does Christ return? Can the time of Christ’s Return be known? Are we in the so-called “last days”?

#173. THE OBJECT AND MANNER OF THE LORD’S COMING. The Nazarene taught he had come from God. He made it clear he was returning to God to receive his Kingdom power.234 He also taught he would return in glory to gather home his Saints. This is the primary object or purpose of his Return.235
234 KINGDOM POWER. See John 6:64; 14:1-3; 17:11, 13; Luke 19:12.
235 GATHER SAINTS. John 14:2, 3; 17:24; Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27; Luke 17:30, 34-37; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 3:10; 4:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:1.

#174. The Nazarene taught this sudden and unexpected Return would be visible. Jesus said, ‘As lightning flashes from under the heaven and shines to another part of heaven, so the Son of Man will be on the Day in which the Son of Man is revealed. The Sign of the Son of man will then appear in heaven and all the tribes of the earth will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven.’ This will be exactly as the angel predicted at Acts 1:9-11, ‘This Jesus you saw received up from you into heaven (lifted up as you were watching, a cloud carrying him up before your very eyes) will thus come in the manner you viewed him going his way into heaven.’ It would be difficult not to see in all of this a visible return.

#175. Despite this, however, some hold to an invisible return of Christ. What else would the Nazarene have to say to make it plain his Arrival or Parousia was visible, something that could be viewed by a healthy human eye? That it is visible is shown by the reaction of “all the tribes of the earth.” This phrase would include the entire planet where all of these “tribes” live. The angel of the ascension in Acts 1:9-11 makes it clear the disciples “saw” the ascension and assured the marveling Galileans this “same Jesus” will return in this same manner: visibly.236 However, the way the inhabitants of earth see the returning Lord may be different from the way “we the living” see him.
236 VISIBLY. There is a word often associated with the Return of Christ, epiphania or phanerothe and is usually translated manifest, appear or revealed. It is a word which is rooted in “lamp,” something which lights up subjects so all can see it. (Note Matthew 5:15) That the Arrival of Christ is visible is seen from Hebrews 9:28, ‘The second time Christ will be made visible to those earnestly waiting for their salvation.’ 1 John 2:28 and 3:2 reads: ‘When the Son is made to appear we Saints will not be put to shame in his Presence. . . Beloved, now we are Children of God and whenever the Son appears we shall see him as he really is.’ The word “see” in this last verse is opsometha (meaning “to gaze with eyes wide open in amazement” (Strongs # 3700) and related to the word used in Matthew 24:30, opsontai, when earth’s tribes behold the appearing Christ. This word opsontai (Strongs # 3700) is used later in Matthew when the disciples “see” the Risen Christ. (Matthew 28:7, 10; compare Acts 10:40) In Matthew 24:30 if the Nazarene had meant to “perceive” something mentally, the Greek vooumen like that of Ephesians 3:20 could have been used, “mentally see.”

#176. Paul says boldly, ‘Have I not seen the Lord?’ However, in the three accounts of his experience on the road to Damascus, it was a blinding light he saw. He heard a voice speaking Hebrew. (Acts 9:3-7; 22:6-11; 26:12-16) To Paul this was as good as ‘seeing’ the Lord; and the Glorified Lord states that he was ‘made visible’ to Paul. While the Saints will actually see the Christ “as he really is,” (1 John 3:2) in his spirit form (1 Corinthians 15:44, 48, 50; 1 Peter 3:18), those alive on earth at that time, as part of “all the tribes of the earth, will observe literally some visual display which will be as “a Sign” anyone can comprehend. (Matthew 24:30) All will know who it is and what is happening. (Revelation 6:15-17) It will have a profound affect on earth’s inhabitants.

#177. It is not impossible to think that God is capable of projecting some holographic image upon earth’s atmosphere, like the northern lights, so the entire globe will see the same thing at the same time: the Arrival of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. The three Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke record this prophetic event which follows the three and a half years of Great Oppression: But immediately after the oppression of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon237 will not gives it light. The stars will fall from the heaven, for the celestial dynamics will be shaken.238 The Sign239 of the Son of Man240 will then appear in the sky.241 All the tribes of the earth will give way to great lamentation.242… And on the earth anguish of nations in perplexity like the noise of the sea in its agitation, men fainting from fear243 and expectation of the things coming244 upon the inhabited earth. And they will see245 the Son of Man coming in glorious power246 on the clouds of the sky.’ Is it fair to summarize this as: great oppression, celestial darkness, atmospheric sign, international lamentation, global anguish, and the visible Return of Christ?
237 SUN AND MOON. The sun, moon and stars demonstrates a global affair occurring in the space of a day.
238 SHAKEN. See Isaiah 13:13; Revelation 6:12-14.
239 SIGN. Compare semeion at Isaiah 11:12. (LXX) No where is this “sign” described, however, some believe it will be that vision of the golden cubic city, the New Jerusalem, approaching earth like an extra-terrestrial visitor. (Revelation 3:12; 21:2, 10)
240 SON OF MAN. See Daniel 7:13.
241 SKY. Or, “heaven.” The context determines which “heaven” is involved. Compare Genesis 1:8; Revelation 14:6.
242 LAMENTATION. See Revelation 6:15-17.
243 FEAR. See Revelation 6:15-17.
244 THINGS COMING. Compare Revelation 6:15-17; 16:1-11.
245 SEE. Greek is opstonai as at Matthew 28:7, 10.
246 COMING IN POWER. Compare Matthew 25:31-46.

#178. Following this Great Oppression, celestial display, and the Sign of the Son of Man’s appearance, the Nazarene went on to describe the apocalyptic events: ‘And the Son of Man will send off his angels with a great trumpet247 and they will gather248 together the Elect from the four winds,249 from one extreme of the heavens to their other extreme.’ (Matthew 24:31) The one thing clearly stated, regarding the object or purpose of the Lord’s Return, is to “gather” his disciples, the Friends of the Nazarene. This action is the primary part of “gathering Celestial things.” (Ephesians 1:10) Later, during the Thousand Years and after this Messianic Reign, “the Terrestrial things will be gathered.”
247 TRUMPET. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 with Revelation 11:15.
248 GATHER. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1 and Revelation 14:14-16 with Matthew 13:39-43.
249 FOUR WINDS. Compare Revelation 7:1-4.

#179. This thought of “gathering the Elect” is not new or original with the Nazarene. The prophetic idea was over seven centuries old when Jesus walked the beaches of Galilee. This apocalyptic vision the Lord drew from Isaiah, the Jewish prophet of the Seventh Century BC. Parts of this portent read: ‘The light of the constellation Orion will no longer twinkle. For the stars of heaven and all the cosmos of the celestialum shall not give their light. It shall be dark at sunrise and the moon shall not give her light… The heavens will shake and the earth will be tremorous… (Messiah) will appear.250… He will raise a Sign251 for the nations and he shall gather the lost ones of Israel from the four corners of the earth.’ (Isaiah 13:10, 13; 11:6, 12. Compare LXX) The similarities cannot be ignored. Such a celestial event will rock earth to its knees in great fear and lamentation. Much is made in these days approaching the year 2,000 regarding extra-terrestrials. But… what if this first “contact” was from a source entirely unexpected?
250 APPEAR. Compare Daniel 12:1 JPS.
251 SIGN. The Greek is semeion. Compare Matthew 24:3, 30.

#180. CAN THE “APPOINTED TIME” BE KNOWN? From the first disciples of the Nazarene, Christians have been keenly interested in the timing of Christ’s Return. Today there is excitable interest in this subject as the year 2,000 approaches. Many are the “prophets” who predict the nearness of this event, just as they did as the year 1,000 AD approached, leading to the Crusades. Others have preached the imminent return of Christ and the “end of the world” for over 150 years.

#181. Did Jesus give a “sign” marking the “last days” of our generation? Or, our children’s generation? Is there any Biblical time-chronology upon which one could base a date for the Return of Christ with all its attendant universal and terrestrial phenomenon? We check the teachings of the Nazarene with great excitement and expectation.

#182. In view of the glorious Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, four of the Nazarene’s apostles asked him this question: ‘What will the sign of your Coming and the End of the World?’ (Matthew 24:3 KJV) This reading of the Authorized Version has led to much misunderstanding. What were the disciples asking about and what was the Nazarene’s answer? A reading of Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21 helps clear up generations of misconception about so-called “last days.” Jesus never uses such a term in all the Gospels and whenever the phrase “last days”252 does occur it is always with reference to the end of the Jewish Temple Age which had its fulfillment with the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in 70 AD.
252 LAST DAYS. See the occurrences of “last days” at Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:1; James 5:3; 2 Peter 3:3. Note Jude 18’s allusion to 2 Peter 3:3 for an application. For details on this subject see the work Nazarene Apocalypse. The phrase “last days” also occurs in the KJV at Isaiah 2:2; Daniel 8:19; Micah 4:1 and likely also refers to the period before the destruction of Jerusalem.

#183. As a study assignment, read the context in all three Gospels and the introductory words leading up to the question of the Nazarene’s disciples. Were they not asking about the “end” of Jerusalem and her Temple? These disciples may have assumed such a devastating prediction by the Nazarene about the “end” of the Temple meant the Return of Christ and “the conclusion of the Age.”253 The use of the Greek word translated “the end” is synteleias. This same word is used at Hebrews 9:26 to refer to the conclusion of the Jewish Temple Age. Synteleias is likely borrowed from the Jewish Greek Septuagint (LXX) at Daniel 9:27 to refer to the foretold desolation of the Temple as Jesus also predicted. “The end of the world” meant the end of their Jewish world centered around their Temple with the destruction of Jerusalem, not the end of the world or all life on the earth. [For more details see the publication Nazarene Apocalypse© [or read the web site article, Did Jesus Predict the End of the World?] in the Nazarene Commentary© CD-ROM.
253 AGE. The word translated “world” by the KJV is aionos and is understood to be more like “Age” or the English eon (æon). (See Hebrews 9:27; 1 Corinthians 10:11)

#184. THE NAZARENE ANSWER. Consider the three Gospels again for Jesus’ answer. His very first words are a warning, evidently in response to an attitude of the disciples, taking into consideration their concern over the timing of matters. He cautions them: ‘Look out that you do not make a mistake, for many will come in my name, saying, “THE APPOINTED TIME HAS APPROACHED.”254 You should not follow them!’ Right from the start the Nazarene warns them. Any future disciples are not to be misled by men claiming Christ’s authority, as if he were speaking only through them as a channel: false prophets and pseudo-anointed (Matthew 24:11, 24) who have worked out some time-chronology or prophetic method for foretelling the generation who will see the Return of Christ. “Do not follow them!” is the Nazarene’s clear warning.
254 TIME HAS APPROACHED! Others render this: WEY: the time is close at hand; NEB: the Day is upon us; BY: the time is at hand!

#185. There are two reasons for this: a) Jesus himself does not know “the day and hour” of his Return, Arrival, or Parousia. He admits, ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, not the angels of heaven or the Son, but only the Father.’ (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32) And, b) no disciple of Christ, no servant of Jehovah, no matter how Scripturally knowledgeable, can claim to have calculated such a date: ‘Because you do not know on what kind of day255 your Lord is coming256; whether in late afternoon, midnight, cock-crowing, or dawn. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know when the appointed time257 is when the Lord of the House is coming.’ (Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:33, 35) This ignorance is in harmony with the Nazarene’s later warning to his apostles following their question, It does not belong to you to know times or appointed time258 which the Father put in his own authority.’ (Acts 1:6, 7) Any such claims must be false prophecies and represent that “presumptuous” character identified by Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) The warning is precise and direct: Friends of the Nazarene should not be misled by such false prophecies. ‘DO NOT FOLLOW THEM!’ the Nazarene directs. (Or, “do not join them.” NJB)
255 DAY. Note this is no generational period lasting 80 years or more. Judging from those watches of the Jewish day, 6 PM, midnight, 5 AM, or 6 AM, a twelve hour period is suggested. Compare Matthew 24:40, 41 and Luke 17:34, 35 where both day and night are included because it will be one or the other depending on which side of the planet.
256 COMING. The Greek is erkhetai, elthon (Matthew 24:46), or erkhomenon (Mark 13:26, 35, 36).
257 APPOINTED TIME. Or, “time.” (Compare KJV, RIEU) The Nazarene did not expect the “end” or the parousia immediately. He tells his own disciles they will long for the parousia but will not see it. The parousia would not occur until some unknown time in the future. Compare Luke 17:20-22; 19:11, 12.
258 TIMES OR APPOINTED TIME. See KIT. This statement about the Father’s authority occurs about the same time as Matthew 28:18, 19 where the Nazarene states his own authority.

#186. FALSE PREDCTIONS. It is unfortunate that many Christian teachers have been so “presumptuous” to assume Christ must return while they are alive, as if they were the all-important reason for his Coming. Sadly, there have been a multitude of attempts to make calculations regarding the Parousia of Christ and the so-called “end of the world.” This has been done in two ways: a) time chronologies; and, b) a compilation of “signs” into one “composite sign” marking the so-called “last days.” Let us consider these.

#187. TIME-CHRONOLOGIES. There are several types but one of the most well-known is at least more than two centuries old.259 One has been the effort to apply Daniel chapter 4 to a prophetic “Seven Gentile Times” and tie these in with Luke 21:24. As already demonstrated in previous pages these “times” in Luke 21:24 are three and a half years based on Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 11:2. Nothing proves this more than the actual fulfillment between the years 66 to 70 AD. A careful reading of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as given by Daniel will turn up the word “interpretation”260 8 times. The explanation to this King of Babylon’s dream is given by Daniel, the angel of the vision, and the actual fulfillment261 recorded in the chapter. Is it fair to state that the “interpretation” is right there in front of anyone who wishes to read Daniel chapter 4?
259 TWO CENTURIES OLD. Compare Matthew Henry’s Commentaries on Daniel chapter 4 where.
260 INTERPRETATION. See Daniel 4:6, 7, 9, 18, 24.
261 FULFILLMENT. Compare Daniel 4:28, 33.

#188. Additionally, Daniel chapter 4 is never quoted, paraphrased or alluded to in later inspired writers, unlike chapters 2, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12. The Revelation or Apocalypse makes over four dozen allusions to the book of Daniel, but never chapter 4. Daniel chapter 4 is like chapters 3, 5, and 6: lessons without any specific prophetic significance.

#189. SIGNS OF THE LAST DAYS? Many Bibles carry a topic heading atop the pages in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Some of these read: “Sign of last days,” or, “Sign of Christ’s presence.” However, search as we may we are unable to find such a phrase as “last days” in these chapters. As mentioned above, the expression “last days” is never used by the Nazarene and is absent from the one book where we might expect it, Revelation. The term “last days” only occurs at Acts 2:17, 2 Timothy 3:1, Hebrews 1:1, James 5:3, and 2 Peter 3:3. These all are most likely talking about the “last days” upon Jerusalem. For example, Acts 2:17 and Hebrews 1:1 clearly are; 2 Timothy 3:1 has a contextual application to Timothy; James 5:3 may well be speaking of the end of the Jewish Temple Age; and, 2 Peter 3:3, the most obscure, until we discover it is actually quoted by Jude in verse 18 and applied to those contemporary times.

#190. Is Jesus giving a list of events in the three Gospels which would identify some generation before his Arrival, or Parousia? Many read this into it. But, noting the opening warning in the answer to the disciples’ question, it may just as well be a lesson that they are not to be misled by local or world happenings into which something like a sign could be read. Those who insist the Nazarene’s mention of wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes and international preaching go to great lengths to list the horrors of the Twentieth Century. Since these can be nebulous, because such things have happened throughout the last nearly two thousand years, the same “prophets” go to great lengths to establish the identity of the final generation. In the last 150 years numerous dates have been put forward with great conviction, and the accompanying large donations: 1844, 1874, 1888, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, 1974, 1975, 1985, and 2,000.

#191. JESUS GIVES TWO SIGNS. This does not mean the Nazarene did not foretell a specific Sign or signs: one to appear before the destruction of Jerusalem and the second to occur before the Return of Messiah. Regarding this first “sign,” and with the context of the Temple and the approaching desolation of Jerusalem in mind, note Matthew 24:15 as a preeminent sign indicating the approach of the holy city’s “end”. The Lamsa translation from the Aramaic (related to the language the Nazarene spoke) actually has the word “sign” here in verse 15. So, that is the first real “sign” Jesus mentions in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple.

#192. This warning Jesus actually borrows from Daniel 8:9-11, 13 and 11:15. Jesus had already used words similar to Daniel in Luke 19:43, 44: ‘Because the days will arrive upon you when your enemies throw up a palisade. They will encircle you and they will distress you from every side. They will dash you and your children to the ground and they will not let a stone upon a stone within you.’ Our faith is stimulated to great heights by the knowledge both Daniel and Jesus Christ foretold the “end” of Jerusalem’s Temple.

#193. So, Jesus’ answer from Matthew 24:4-22 deals first precisely with the city of Jerusalem and his prediction of her Temple’s destruction. But, using this Great Oppression on Jerusalem as a prophetic pivot or overlay, the Nazarene telescopes262 through time (remember he does not know the “day and hour”) to the next important event in relation to the disciples’ question: the Parousia, or Return of the KIng. First, he warns about private or isolated appearances in Matthew 24:3-28, explaining that the Arrival of the Son of Man will be as discernible as lightning shining from east to west. Something no one can miss. Anyone who claims Jesus appears in the bed-chamber, or out in the desert, is no different than those who claim, “The Time Is At Hand!” or, “The Christ is here!” Whether that be visible or invisible.
262 TELESCOPES. Something like Paul at 1 Corinthians 15:23, 24.

#194. THE SIGN OF THE KING’S ARRIVAL. Now, for the first time, the Nazarene foretells the second or final Sign in Matthew 24:29-31. This Sign follows after the Great Oppression of three and a half years. First, the heavens and the atmosphere are prepared: solar, lunar, and stellar darkness give an awe-inspiring back-drop to the apocalyptic vision about to occur. “The Sign of the Son of Man” appears in heaven. What shape this sign will take is unknown but no one on earth will miss its point, for “they will see the Son of Man returning on clouds.” While nations tremble in fear and wail in lamentation, the Son of Man sends out his angels to gather the Elect, both the dead Saints by resurrection, and the living Saints by rapture. This later event will evidently be visible to their “enemies.” (Revelation 11:12)

#195. The only way the last “generation” of Friends of the Nazarene will know they are living in the “last days” is when they see this Great Oppression followed by the celestial phenomenon and the appearance of the Son of Man in the atmospheric heavens. It is to this moment the Gospel of Luke is referring when Jesus says, ‘But when these things (celestial darkness and the visible Arrival of the Son of man) start to occur, rise and look up because your deliverance is drawing near… So, whenever you see these things occurring (celestial darkness and the visible Return of Christ) know the Kingdom of God is near.’ (Luke 21:28, 31) Then, and only then, could any Christian proclaim, ‘The end has come!’ (Revelation 16.17 PME) Then, and only then, could the final “generation” before the Return of Christ be identified.

#196. Those Friends of the Nazarene of the Elect, that is, “we the living,” as Paul describes them, who have come out of the Great Oppression, are given specific counsel by Jesus, to: a) keep awake in expectation of Christ’s Return, for it will come at an hour ones does not expect; and, b) avoid those things which dull the senses. The Nazarene taught, ‘But pay attention to yourselves so you never become burdened in your hearts by overeating, drunkenness, and anxieties of life and that Day arise with a surprising quickness like a snare. For that Day (of the King’s Arrival) will come upon all living on the entire globe. Keep awake and pray in every season so that you might be strong enough to escape all the things destined to occur and to hold your place before the Son of man.’ (Luke 21:34-36)

#197. The Nazarene taught, then, that he would return to heaven and thereupon receive the Kingdom throne.263 He reigns alone264 until that future time when he returns to gather his disciples265 by resurrection and rapture.266 This marks a milestone when he is now associated with his fellow members in the Kingdom. In this way the ‘Kingdom comes.’267 At this future unknown date, during the Last Trumpet, it may be said, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah and he will reign into the Ages of the Ages. “We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, because you have taken your great power and begun to reign.”’268 (Revelation 11:15) Is this all there is to the Third Principle and the subject of the Kingdom? What else did the Nazarene teach on this subject? What about his many parables which say “the kingdom of the heavens is like”?
263 RECEIVE THE KINGDOM. See Luke 19:12.
264 RULES ALONE. See 1 Corinthians 15:23, 25.
265 GATHER HIS DISCIPLES. See Matthew 24:31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1.
266 RESURRECTION AND RAPTURE. See 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
267 KINGDOM COMES. See Daniel 7:22, 27.
268 BEGUN TO REIGN. God has always been “King of Eternity” (1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 15:3) but there are those special moments when his rulership is praised, his power manifest, marking a new phrase in his rule. (Psalm 93:1; 97:1; 99:1) Note this is repeated at Revelation 19:6 after the destruction of Babylon the Great.

#198. THE KINGDOM OF THE SON. There is another feature or aspect to this subject of the Kingdom. When speaking over 100 times about the Kingdom, the Nazarene nearly always presents the Kingdom as something contemporary and operating as an opportunity during the life of Christ. There are really two kingdoms in the Nazarene’s teachings: the Kingdom of the Son and the Kingdom of the Father. Note this in Matthew 13:41, 43: ‘The Son of Man will send forth his angels and collect out from his Kingdom all stumblingblocks and the lawless. Then the righteous269 will shine as the sun270 in the Kingdom of their Father.’ Note that in the Kingdom of the Father are only the “righteous,” while in the Kingdom of the Son there are those “stumblingblocks” and the “lawless.” Clearly, there is a difference between the two kingdoms.
269 RIGHTEOUS. See Matthew 25:37.
270 SHINE AS THE SUN. See Daniel 12:3, the source for this phrase.

#199. Paul refers to the Kingdom of the Son when he writes, ‘God delivered us out of the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son.’ (Colossians 1:13) Christ had begun to rule, established on his throne271 in fulfillment of Psalm 2:6272 upon his resurrection and ascension to heaven. His power is complete and includes his Church273 or Congregation. Really, this Kingdom is the realm or domain of Messiah’s kingly rule and his territory contains all those who agree to submit to his royal sovereignty. It has been called the ‘Realm of Profession’ and all those in it are those who claim to be Christians and disciples of the Nazarene. In order to truly qualify they must confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Romans 10:9, 10) This confession is normally followed by baptism in total immersion in the name of Jesus Christ.
271 HIS THRONE. Note Revelation 3:21.
272 PSALM 2.6. Note Peter quotes Psalm 2:1, 2 at Acts 4:24-27 and Paul quotes Psalm 2:7 at Acts 13:33 and apply the Second Psalm to the year 33 AD.
273 CHURCH. The Greek is ecclesia. Compare Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 2:10.

#200. When Jesus walked the earth the opportunity was first opened274 to gain this membership into the Kingdom of the Son by the course of discipleship.275 Also, the King was present and walking among the Jews. Thus the Nazarene could say, ‘The Kingdom has drawn near… The Kingdom is in your midst.276… You are not far from the Kingdom of God… From John the Baptist the Kingdom of God is declared as good news and everyone has been crowding into it.’ (Mark 1:15; Luke 17:21; Mark 13:34; Luke 16:16 GDSP)
274 FIRST OPENED. Compare Ephesians 3:5, 6; 2 Timothy 1:10.
275 DISCIPLESHIP. Matthew 16:24-26.
276 IN YOUR MIDST. There is a tradition to translate Luke 17:21 as “the Kingdom is within you” to make it just the rule of Christ in the heart rather than a real government. However, note who Jesus said this to.

#201. It is several parables of the Nazarene which reveal certain truths or mysteries about this “kingdom.” An understanding of these will help you to know just where you are today in relation to the Kingdom of the Son. It is in these chapters that many elements or features of the Kingdom are found. In these the Kingdom is that ‘Realm of Profession,’ or that opportunity of membership within the Nazarene community of Christian Saints, or the Church of Christ. Note some of these truths as part of the Third Principle.

#202. THE KINGDOM’S VALUE. Compare Matthew 13:44-46 and note the Nazarene’s parable illustrating the value of entering the Kingdom. What are you willing to give up or surrender to enter the Realm of Kingdom Profession? What are you willing to “sell” in order to obtain this privilege?

#203. KINGDOM EVANGELISM. Matthew 13:47-50 compares the Kingdom to a “dragnet” which was lowered into earth’s “waters” with the coming of Messiah and has been fishing these seas by envangelism for almost two millennia. Not all the “fish”277 caught are suitable and some are offensive stumbling-blocks who practice lawlessness despite any professions278 to the contrary. The Son will gather out or separate these and put the “good” into vessels. Likely this will be done at the parousia-Judgment279 on the Household of God when the Messiah returns. All Christians will be raised and then judged. Those “unsuitable” will be cast out and in this way the Son ‘gathers out of his Kingdom’ the lawless. A study of the Seven Apocalyptic Letters in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 will reveal some different types of Christians who have been collected in the Gospel Dragnet. How do you feel you will be represented at the parousia-Judgment? (1 John 2:28; 4:17)
277 FISH. Compare Matthew 4:19.
278 PROFESSIONS. Compare Matthew 7:22; 25:44.
279 PAROUSIA-JUDGMENT. Compare Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:5, 17.

#204. A KINGDOM IN FERMENT. The Nazarene foretold a most interesting matter in his parable of the leaven at Matthew 13:33. (Luke 13:21) Leaven generally has a bad connotation280 and the Nazarene warns about the teaching “leaven” of the Pharisees (the conservatives), the Sadduccees (the liberals), and the Herodians (the political). For 19 centuries now “leaven” has been permitted in the “whole” of the Realm of Christian Profession. It has become completely fermented. It is no longer pure, despite heated protestations by militant sects. Nor can any claims to be the restored form of “true Christianity” be accurate.
280 LEAVEN. Compare Matthew 16:6, 11, 12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Galatians 5:9.

#205. The record in the Book of Acts demonstrates many of the early fermenting problems in the Church. By the time of the writing of the epistles to the Corinthians Paul can assert, ‘The Christ is divided,’ and, ‘Schisms must exist among you to reveal the approved.’ (1 Corinthians 1:13; 11:19) By the end of the First Century, John can warn, ‘It is the Last Hour and many antichrists have appeared.’ (1 John 2:18, 26) By the end of the Second Century there were more than a hundred “sects,” and today there are thousands, with more than a few insisting they are the only channel to God. No matter where one goes in the Christian world, there is ferment.

#206. EXTRAORDINARY KINGDOM GROWTH. The Nazarene foretells phenomenal growth of the Kingdom, or Christian Church. The Nazarene’s work began very small, tiny as a mustard grain. But, the Realm of Christian profession is like a great tree and birds come home to roost. Whereas, in the very beginning the Kingdom was persecuted, it grew and grew until it became the official religion of the Roman empire. What would have been Pilate’s, or the Jew’s, reaction if Jesus had told them that within three hundred years the emperor would be Christian and that soon thereafter a “form” of Christianity became the official state religion? Or, that one day nearly two billion people, one-third of earth’s inhabitants, would profess some belief in Jesus Christ the Nazarene? Today, the so-called Christian world is the most powerful on earth having triumphed over Communism.

#207. A REALM FILLED WITH WEEDS. The Nazarene’s parable at Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 is perhaps the most enlightening, and at the same time, alarming. The illustration foretells the outcome to the foundation Christ laid in building his own “congregation.”281 In this parable, the Nazarene foretells how he begins to sow his wheat seed but while his original apostles are asleep in death, the Devil sows imitation “tares” or “darnel”282 which have the same appearance as wheat in their early stages. The Christian field, the Kingdom, becomes saturated with the corrupt weed, like the leaven of the earlier parable. These are identified as the “sons of the wicked one.” The wheat are the “sons of the Kingdom.” At The End (or, synteleia,283 meaning consummation or ending together) there will be a harvest284 in which the counterfeit are collected and finally burned.285 The wheat-like “sons of the Kingdom” are gathered by the angels286 into the Father’s Kingdom “barn” at the Synteleia, there to shine like the sun. (Daniel 12:3)
281 CONGREGATION. Compare Matthew 16:18.
282 DARNEL. The “tares” is from the Greek zizania. They have all the appearance of “wheat” but when grown the wheat turns golden with bowed heads and the zizania turn black with erect stalks.
283 SYNTELEIA. The Greek word means “with” + “end.” It means completion, consummation, conclusion. It is a more heightened form of telos but means roughly the same thing. The word occurs in relation to the end of the Jewish Temple Age at Matthew 24:3 and Hebrews 9:26. The word occurs in a different prophetic context at Daniel 9:27 and 12:13. (LXX) Compare telos at 1 Corinthians 15:24.
284 HARVEST. Compare Revelation 14:14, 15.
285 BURNED. Compare Matthew 25:46.
286 GATHERED BY ANGELS. Compare Matthew 24:30, 31. Note the “weeds” are burned before the angelic gathering of the “wheat” into the Father’s barns.

#208. The Biblical and historical evidence paints a vivid picture of this slow corruption and fermentation covering three centuries with gangrenous affects throughout the ages. (2 Timothy 2:16-3:9) By means of these several parables the Nazarene predicts what will happen to his initial efforts in his first manifestation. Jesus is foretelling the final condition just before the angelic harvest at the Return or Parousia of Christ. A field sown with weeds and fermented by corruption, with scattered individual wheat here or there, almost unidentifiable from the zizania. They grow “together,” not separated from the weeds until by angelic miracle under the direction of the returning King. Happily, this seal remains, ’The Lord knows those who belong to him.’ ( 2 Timothy 2:19)

#209. This apostate corruption was also foretold by several of the Nazarene’s disciples, no doubt following the lead of the parables. Paul evidently draws from these parables, for he also warns, ‘After my departure big wolves will enter among you, not sparing the flock. And out of you will rise men speaking twisted things, drawing off the disciples who follow them… The (prophetic) spirit says in later seasons some will apostasize from the faith, minding errant spirits and the teachings of demons… These men will take their stand against the truth, men corrupted of mind and disapproved regarding the faith… For there will be a season when they will not hold onto healthy teaching but according to their own desires they will pile up their own teachers to have their ears tickled.’ (Acts 20:29, 30;1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:8; 4:3)

#210. Peter agrees with this for he predicts, ‘But there occurred false prophets among the people (Israel) and so also there will be false teachers among you, bringing in destructive heresies.’ (2 Peter 2:1) The disciple Jude is to write, ‘I had to write and encourage you to strain every nerve in agony for the faith once and for all given to the Saints. For some men have sneaked in, Irreverential men long ago condemned to judgment.’ (Jude 3, 4) Jude goes on to devote most of his letter to identifying these types.

#211. And, finally, near the end of the First Century, the last apostle, beloved John, writes: ‘Little boys, it is the Last Hour and as you have heard antichrist are coming, already many antichrists exist. They left us because they were just not our kind… Beloved, do not believe every “inspired” saying. But, test them to see if they are really from The God, for many false prophets287 have gone forth into the world.’ (1 John 2:18, 19; 4:1)
287 FALSE PROPHETS. Recall the Nazarene’s warning at Matthew 24:11 and Luke 21:8. These may be identified by their “prophecies” which often pinpoint dates for the Return of Christ.

#212. WHERE ARE WE NOW? Nearly two thousand years have passed with the new millennium and the year 2,000 pressing down on us. Centuries of missionary work have spread the Nazarene Gospel into every nation on earth. Satellites high above the earth beam evangelical messages to a world. Zealous preachers stand on street corners, go from door to door, and preach from television pulpits. Others, hundreds of thousands, quietly go about their lives while carrying Christ with them into their daily lives.

#213. Christ has not returned and any claims that ‘he is here!’ are false, the product of pseudo-prophets. Christ’s Kingdom has spread abroad as Christendom (the Kingdom of Christ) and all churches and sects (orthodox or unorthodox), denominational and non-denomination, are all part of this field of the Lord infested with weeds and corrupted by the ferment of doctrinal and procedural “leaven.” Among all of these are to be found those “sons of the Kingdom,” the class of true wheat, whom only the Lord knows. Perhaps some are associated with established religions and sects. Others are alone or in small groups of just “two or three,” and these may draw courage from the Nazarene’s words, ‘Where two or three are met in my name, I am in their midst.’ (Matthew 18:20) Happily, upon the Return of Christ all of these will be gathered and join their resurrected brethren to ascend toward their Lord in glory.

#214. “DO NOT FOLLOW THEM!” The Nazarene had warned of those who proclaim, “The Time Is At Hand!” There is a certain danger in this multitude of sects. Unfortunately, hidden agendas are part and parcel with most, if not all religious movements. These agendas are motivated by greed, power, or that arrogant belief that they are the only “channel” to God. When Yahweh gave His Law to Moses there were about 600 commandments. Two and a half millenniums later this had become 100,000. In the Nazarene’s teachings as recorded by Matthew there are about 60 injunctions or principles, most presented in the positive.

#215. There is this tendency on the part of religious hierarchies to control the flock by imposing more and more “burdens.”288 The religion of the Nazarene breathes of freedom,289 refreshment, truth, and spirituality. The Nazarene lives an austere and simple, if not ascetic, life. Where religion wishes to control, one may look at those at the top of the hierarchy and note how they live. Does the bottom of the pyramid support the top pinnacle so that they live in a style better than the flock in general? It is true Jesus taught, ‘The worker is worthy of his wages,’290 however, the Nazarene set the role model for modern church leaders in his own lifestyle. Paul followed in these footsteps.291 Remember the Nazarene’s own teaching, ‘Watch out for false prophets coming to you appearing as sheep while inside is a ravenous wolf. From their fruitage you will recognize them.’ (Matthew 7:15, 16)
288 BURDENS. Compare Acts 15:19, 28; Revelation 2:24. Note “burden” at 2 Corinthians 11:9; 12.13, 14, 16; 1 Thessalonians 2:6, 9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8.
289 FREEDOM. Compare John 4:23, 24; 8:32; Matthew 11:29, 30; Galatians 5:1.
290 WAGES. Compare Matthew 8:20; 1 Corinthians 9:6, 7, 9-11, 13, 14; Galatians 6:6.
291 FOOTSTEPS. Compare 1 Corinthians 4:11; 11:1.

#216. SUMMARY. Therefore, keep in expectation of your King as you wait in faith. Imitate your Lord by loving one another.292 In this love be free of that judgmental293 and critical disposition Jesus despised.294 Treat all those professing Christ as your brother or sister and strive not to be guilty of that goat-like sin of omission. Greet strangers, clothe the cold, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, care for the sick, and visit those Saints in prison. Only by these kind actions will you prove yourselves “sheep” worthy of inheriting the heavenly Kingdom of the Father.295
292 LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Compare 1 John 3:23.
293 JUDGMENTAL. Compare Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 14:1-23.
294 JESUS DESPISED. Compare Matthew 25:31-46.
295 INHERITING THE KINGDOM. See 1 Corinthians 15:50.

#217. There is no way to pinpoint the timing of the Lord’s Return, or the coming of the Kingdom. No matter when we expect it to be that will not be the time. (Matthew 24:50) There are elements in Daniel and Revelation which would indicate that world events move closer to the moment foretold. Other than this we may view ourselves still in the so-called “Dark Ages.” The wheat still grow together with the zizania. The wheat can only continue steadfast, keeping their hearts fixed on an expectation of the Lord’s Return. Their faith will compel them to speak (2 Corinthias 4.13) about the “magnificence of God.” (Acts 2:11 PME) The Friends of the Nazarene will be characterized by this conviction as well as their “love for one another.” (1 John 3:23)

Nazarene Commentary 2000©

Mark Heber Miller

©2000 All Rights Reserved