Prophecy Digest: Comparison of the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Revelation B -Dr. Ron Bigalke

Comparison of the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Revelation -Dr. Ron Bigalke

"This Generation" and Time Texts

Matthew24:34, 36 (cf. Rev)

Preterists claim to place primary emphasis uponthe demonstrative pronouns in verses 34 and 36 of Matthew 24, but only afuturist interpretation seeks to understand those pronouns within the context.Demonstrative pronouns help locate and identify nouns or other pronouns.Pronouns substitute nouns when the nouns they replace can be understood fromthe context. They also indicate whether they are replacing a singular or pluraltense and identify in what location (near/far) the speaker places himself inrelation to the object.

English Demonstrative Pronouns

Pronoun Tense Location













In Greek, there are two demonstrative pronouns.Frequently, these demonstratives will be used independent of a noun and carrythe intensity of a substantive. The most common use of the demonstrativepronoun is with a noun and carrying the strength of an adjective. In otherwords, the noun will contain the article and the demonstrative pronoun can be foundin the predicate position but never in the attributive position (e.g., oJ uiJoV ou|toV or ou|toV oJ uiJoV).

Greek Demonstrative Pronouns

Pronoun Tense Location













Thepurpose of demonstrative pronouns in both English and Greek grammar is to helpidentify where the speaker places himself in relation to the object. Central topreterist eschatology is a first century fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse.The preterist interpretation of the Olivet Discourse requires Jesus to placeHimself in a relatively near relation to the events of Matthew 24-25.

If thisis the scenario, as the preterists contend, then Jesus would use ou|toV and ou|toi in order to indicate relatively nearevents.

Infour verses, Jesus used the relatively distant demonstrative pronouns: ejkeivnaiV tai'V hJmeraiV (24:19); aiJhJmevrai ejkei'nai (24:22); tw'n hJmerw'n ejkeivnwn (24:29); and, th'V hJmevraV ejkeivnhV (24:36).[19]When speaking of His coming, Jesus used the relatively distant demonstrativepronouns. When Jesus spoke of the events that will occur prior to His coming,He usef the relatively near demonstrative pronouns since this would fit Hisperspective at the time of His coming: tau'ta (24:8) and ou{twV (24:33). In other words, Jesus was speaking ofHis future coming, and then used the near demonstratives to describe theeschatological events that will precede His future coming.

When Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, this [au{th]generation will not pass away until all these [tau'ta] things take place"(24:34), He was referring to the same generation that belong in the distance(eschatologically). By identifying the demonstrative pronouns, it becomes clearthat Jesus was referring to the generation that witnesses the events of theOlivet Discourse with His coming in a future time. If Jesus intended to speakof a first century fulfillment then He would have used the relatively futuredemonstrative, ejkei'nai, for the events that would occur among the generationthat would witness His coming. In other words, Jesus was not using relativelyfar demonstratives to describe what He prophecied of Himself in relatively neardemonstratives, as He stepped into the future from His present earthlylocation. Only the generation witnessing all the events prophesied in theOlivet Discourse will be the generation to witness His return. Commenting onthe parallel passage to Matthew 24 in Luke 21, Lukan scholar Darrell Bockassented:

What Jesus is saying is that the generation that sees the beginning of the end, also sees its end.

When the signs come, theywill proceed quickly; they will not drag on for many generations.

Nonetheless, in the discourse's propheticcontext, the remark comes after making comments about the nearness of the endto certain signs. As such it is the issue of the signs that controls thepassage's force, making this view likely. If this view is correct, Jesus saysthat when the signs of the beginning of the end come, then the end will comerelatively quickly, within a generation.[20]

Preteristsinsist that they are defending the Bible against attacks from liberals such asBertrand Russell[21] by claiminga first century fulfillment of Matthew 24. Because, in their view, the OlivetDiscourse and Revelation refer to the same time period, preterists use thewords shortlyand near in Revelation 1:1, 3 to date the events ofMatthew 24 and Revelation prior to A.D. 70.

Preteristssimply are not exegeting the texts as they claim to be doing. BAGD defines theadverb tacos as follows: "speed, quickness, swiftness, haste."[22]The Apostle John uses the adverb tacus with ercomai ("to come") in Revelation2:16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:7, 12, 20 meaning "quick, swift, speedy."[23]All six uses of tacus in Revelation mean "without delay, quickly, at once."[24]Blass-Debrunner concurred by classifying tacus as "an adverb of manner," not"an adverb of time."[25]Therefore, the text in Matthew 24:34 (and Revelation 1:1, 3) describes themanner in which tribulational events will occur, and not their timing.

AlthoughMatthew 24:34 is the preterist mantra, the reference here to this generation is a difficult passage to correlate with thepreterist system.

Preterists seek to demonstrate that whenever thisgeneration is used in theGospels, it refers to the first century generation. Additionally, Christ wasspeaking to the disciples prior to His crucifixion. In Matthew 23:36,thisgeneration refers to those whowould witness the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.

Dispensationalists shouldagree with the last statements, but disagree with the first statement.

Dispensationalistsgenerally interpret this generation to speak of those who will not only witness all these things of Matthew 24 (Luke 21:32 reads, all things), which includes the literal and physical returnof Jesus Christ. It seems the best way to understand gevnhtai is as aningressive aorist, which means an event has occurred but the emphasis is oninitiation. The destruction of the Temple should be understood from itsinitiation, which would bear the meaning "begin to take place."

The propheticchronology for all these things ofMatthew 24:34 would begin with the first century generation, but not find finalfulfillment until the second coming.

The Judgment of Gentiles (Matthew 24:36-25:46)

TheOne Taken and The Other Left (24:36-41)

In Matthew 24:36, Jesussaid, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,nor the Son, but the Father alone.In 24:36-41, Jesus will provide answers as to what the conditions will be likewhen He does return. "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like thedays of Noah (24:37). In thesame way, unbelievers did not believe judgment would be coming upon them in thedays of Noah, so will the response of the unbelievers be during the tribulationeven though they will experience the wrath of God. One will be taken, andone will be left (24:39b). Theunbelievers do not truly believe judgment is coming.

Inkeeping with the context of tribulational events, the one taken and the other left in Matthew 24:37-41 is a reference to theseparation that will take place when Christ returns to earth. Israel is notincluded here since her judgment is the tribulation. The one taken is in judgment in death at the second coming andthe other left enters intothe millennial kingdom.

The response of Jesus to the disciples' questioning(Luke 17:37; cf. Rev 19:17-18) accurately fits this interpretation alone. Inother words, the disciples question when the restoration of Israel will takeplace and God will judge all her enemies. Jesus has already answered questionsin regards to Israel and is now dealing with the judgment of Gentiles.

TheOlivet Discourse deals with Christ returning to the earth in judgment beforeestablishing the messianic kingdom. The emphasis does not have to do with theunexpectedness of the time of the Rapture; rather the focus is on unexpectedjudgment just like the days of Noah(Matt 24:37).[26]

Thewide-ranging progression of events (times and seasons), leading to the day of the Lord,will comelike a thief for the unbeliever(cf. 2 Pet 3:3-10). In contrast, the day of the Lord does not overtake thechurch. For God has not destined us[the Christian] for wrath[the day of the Lord], but for obtaining salvation [deliverance] through our Lord Jesus Christ,who died for us, that whether we are awake [the watchful Christian] or asleep [the unwatchful Christian], we may livetogether with Him (1 Thess 5:2,9; cf. 1:10).

Thecoming of the Son of man inMatthew 24:3, 27, 30, 37, 39, 42, and 44 refers to Christ's return to executejudgment and establish His kingdom on earth. The messianic title Son of Mannever refers to the church; it is a title for theDavidic King who will reign on earth from Jerusalem (Dan 7:13-14). Emphasisthen lies upon the signs of approximation preceding the coming of the Son ofMan and the parable from thefig tree is given (24:30, 32).When a future generation witnesses all the signs of Matthew 24, then thecoming of the Son of Manisapproaching, right at the door(24:33).

Ifthere is still any doubt that this coming is for judgment, Luke 17:34-37 mustbe read for it answers as to what place one will be taken and the other willbe left. Jesus responds,Wherethe body is, there also will the vultures be gathered. In other words, God takes them in death andfeeds their carcasses to the vultures. Matthew 24:28 indicates the timing ofthis event will be after the coming of the Son of Man (cf. Rev 19:17-19). At the second coming, someunbelievers are taken in judgment and put to death, thereby beginning theprocess that Matthew 25 reveals will be the destiny of all goats before theestablishment of the millennial kingdom.

The Parable of theHouseholder (24:42-51)

The parable of thehouseholder (cf. Luke 12:41-48) contrasts the eternal destinies ofthefaithful and sensible slave andthe evil slave when Christreturns to earth at the end of the tribulation. One position is that "the Greektext makes it plain that only one servant, not two, is in view."[27]In other words, an individual begins as a faithful and sensible slave, but then becomes an unfaithful, evil slave. According to such a view, the remote Greekdemonstrative, ejkei'no", in verse 48 proves the same slave is in view.The slave started well, but did not finish well. Nevertheless, the slave wassaved and is still saved even though he is unfaithful and will lose rewards.

Theproblem with this position (whether the slave is understood as only one servantthat wavers in faith, or two slaves-one faithful and one unfaithful-that aresaved) is that all of the parables in the Olivet Discourse contrast at leasttwo individuals with the same social background.

The use of slaves (24:46, 48, 50; 25:21, 23, 26, 30) is aneffective means of illustrating the sovereignty of God over all humanity. Somewill believe and some will not believe in Messiah, and the parables reveal thedestiny of both.

Theparable does not concern a slave who was faithful and later became unfaithful.The phrase,if that evil slave,does not refer to a hypothetical situation either. The point of the parable isthe faithful and sensible slavewill be rewarded when Messiah returns, in contrast to that evil slave whose Master shall cut him in pieces andassign him a place with the hypocrites(24:51). The evil character of the unbelieving slave is evident in hischaracter which causes him to deceive himself into thinking the Messiah is notreturning or that he will have time before Messiah returns to become ready.

Thelanguage cut him in piecesand weeping . . . and the gnashing of teeth has been interpreted as "Oriental symbolism forprofound regret" and "the former is a metaphor for judgment."[28]BAGD defined bruvcw as "a sign of violent rage"[29]which could indicate suffering and remorse. However, the noun brugmov" alwaysindicates the eternity state of the wicked. Thayer defines bruvcw as "togrind, gnash, with the teeth" but defines brugmov" tw'nojdovntwn in 24:51 as "a phrase denoting the extreme anguish and utter despairof men consigned to eternal condemnation."[30]

Theparable of the householder also deals with the subject of the judgment ofGentiles. Since God saves all Israel before the second coming, and thesejudgments occur at the second coming, they cannot be a reference to Israel.Indeed, Jesus will not return until the nation of Israel repents and acknowledgesHim as Messiah (Lev 26:40-42; Jer 3:16-17; Hos 5:15-6:3; Zech 12-14; Matt23:39). It is only when Israel cries out for the Messiah that He will return.Theywill look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as onemourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him (Zech 12:10).

The judgments of Matthew24:36-25:46 at the second coming would not pertain to Israel. Since the churchhas been raptured before this period, and the Olivet Discourse is dealing withtribulational events, then the judgments must be referring to the response ofGentiles in the tribulation to the Messiah before His return.

The Parable of theTen Virgins (25:1-13)

Matthew25 begins with the parable of the ten virgins. The background of the parable ofthe virgins is the Middle Eastern marriage custom. The marriage contract wouldcome into being while the couple was quite young and unable to make adultdecisions.

Nevertheless, at this time, the couple was considered legallymarried. After an unspecified period passed and the couple had matured, thebridegroom would journey to the house of the bride, and take her to his home.The bride and groom would then proceed to the marriage supper, along with allthe guests (cf. 22:1-14), at the house of the bridegroom. The wise virgins arethose who were longing for the wedding feast at the house of the bridegroom.The marriage supper of the Lamb will take place on earth in the millennialkingdom (Rev 19:7-10).[31]

Themarriage supper imagery is a familiar reference to a Jewish person concerningthe Messianic kingdom and the bride, Israel. The context negates any connectionwith the bhvma or the mystery . . . speaking with reference to Christ andthe church. The Olivet Discoursedoes not even address the church or the issue of the rapture, the parable hereis treating judgment at the second coming.

The five foolish virgins were invited but not worthy (Matt 22:8) and will be sent into the outerdarkness (22:13). One interpretationis to regard the man not dressed in wedding clothes is a saved man and "he was apparently not onlyin the kingdom but actually at the wedding banquet himself."[32]He is merely "outside the relative light of the banquet hall."[33]

Sucha view is based upon interpreting ejxwvtero" (8:12; 22:13; 25:30) as "thedarkness outside."[34]Since the basic meaning of ejxwvtero" is "outside" it can be translated"the darkness outside." However, the question is whether "outside" refers toexclusion from the millennial marriage feast or complete exclusion (due to lackof justification) from the millennial kingdom.

Thesuperlative ejxwvtero" ("outer," "exterior," or "external") is closelyrelated to the adverb e[xw which is often translated "without" or "out ofdoors." The adverb e[xw is used more than a few times (1 Cor 5:12-13; Col 4:5; 1 Thess 4:12; Rev22:15) to describe the eternal destiny of the lost ("those who are without").[35] Itis never used to describe the eternal destiny of the saved. Indeed, Jesus usesit, promising, "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the onewho comes to Me I will certainly not ejkbavlw e[xw (John 6:37).

Somecontend that the man in Matthew 22:13 is saved and therefore allowed into thewedding hall, but excluded from the marriage feast. If this interpretation isaccepted, then consistency must be maintained in 25:10 and the foolish virgins are saved.[36]Matthew, however, saidthe door was shut hence they were not allowed into the wedding hall. Furthermore,Jesusanswered and said, "Truly I say to you, I do not know you" (25:12; cf. 7:21-23). Once the door was shut it was too late to enter, therefore, "Be onthe alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour (25:13).

Those who are outside do not just missan extravagant meal; they are completely outside the kingdom permanently.

Sincethe parable begins with the phrase, oJmoiwqhvsetai hJ basileiva tw'n oujranw'n (25:1),it is not addressing "eternal reward" but "eternal salvation." Matthew used thephrase thirty-two times (3:2; 4:17; 5:3, 10, 19, 20; 7:21; 8:11; 10:9; 11:11,12; 13:11, 24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47, 52; 16:19; 18:1, 3, 4, 23; 19:12, 14, 23;20:1; 22:2; 23:13; 25:1, 14) and when he used it in other parables outside the Olivet Discourse, they are always treating the issue of eternal salvation.

[1]John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come(Chicago: Mood Press, 1974; reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998), 183.

[2]Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries Press, 1983), 440.

[3]James C. Cornell Jr., The Great International Disaster Book (New York: Pocket Books, 1979), 155.

[4]Ibid., 138-84.

[5]Sigve K. Tonstad, Saving God's Reputation: The Theological Function of Pistis Iesou in the Cosmic Narratives ofRevelation (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006),132.

[6]Arno C. Gaebelein, The Gospel of Matthew: An Exposition, 2 vols. (New York City: Our Hope, 1910), 2:182.


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