Posts tagged ‘ascension’

November 12, 2017

On Matthew 16:27-28

Gary DeMar, in his excellent book Last Days Madness, poses this question:

In Matthew 16:27–28, Jesus proclaims, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will ​then recompense every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, ​​there are some of those who are standing here who shall not ​taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” If we maintain that the event Jesus is describing is still in our future, ​then how should we interpret His statement that some of those with whom He was speaking would still be alive when He did in fact “come in​ the glory of His Father with His angels”?1

Answer:

The premise statement that Jesus “did in fact” come in the glory of His Father with His angels is invalidated with the understanding that Jesus described two different ​events in this passage​,​ to wit:

Verse 27 refers to Jesus’ not yet 2nd coming, “in the glory of His Father“, at the end of the Messianic reign, ​cf. 1 Cor. 15:24, the final judgment by Christ, cf. Acts 17:31​, when He will then recompense every man according to his deeds, cf. 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12, at the consummation of all things; when it shall be realized that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11). It is to the glory of God the Father to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord; for it is His will that all men should honor the Son as they honor the Father, cf. John 5:23.

Note the verses preceding verse 27 (verses 24-26): Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?. These verses discuss living for Christ for the benefit of the eternal soul over and against living for the temporal things of the world, with respect to accountability before God hereafter (cf. Heb. 9:27), thereby setting the context which comports with the foregoing futurist interpretation of verse 27.

Then verse 28 (inarguably preterist in interpretation), which was also prophecy at the time Jesus spoke it,​ refers to what was to be the corroboration of His divine sovereignty, when ​He​ would (did in fact) come “in His kingdom“, at the beginning of the Messianic reign, in judgment of the apostate Jews, even those who pierced Him, with the destruction of their city and their sanctuary in AD 70. Some of ​those ​to​ whom Jesus was speaking would still be alive to see the official end of the old covenant ​structures​​ as the outworking of the events of AD 30​; evidencing Him sitting at the right hand of the Powerand coming on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62), and validating the establishment of the new covenant age with a view towards the ultimately victorious mediatorial reign of the Son of Man (cf. Matt. 28:18; Heb. 1:3; Psalm 110:1; Matt. 22:44; etc.).

So according to this view of the passage, the statement in verse 28 that there are some of those who are standing here who shall not ​taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom does not apply to the coming foretold in the previous verse (27), when the Son of Man will come in final judgment of all who ever lived, and to deliver the consummated kingdom to God the Father; but rather it applies to the manifestation of the ascension and enthronement of the Son of Man, cf. Daniel 7:13, by His coming in judgment via the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem and the temple.

Thus Jesus, who is the Alpha and the Omega, declare​d​ the end from the beginning, assuring His original audience, and us, of the final reward of the faithful; encouraging them, and us, to live in obedience to the gospel of the kingdom which was then at hand, soon to be mightily revealed.

Jesus continues to reign now, in this the “millennium”, the gospel age. He has still not yet come in the glory of His Father with His angels as also described in 1 Thess. 4:16-17. An untold multitude continues to be made alive by grace through faith in the crucified, resurrected, ascended, glorified​, reigning​ Lord Jesus Christ, until all the elect of all time have been effectually called. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all2 shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming3. Then4 comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:22-28).

For more on the hermeneutical dynamics of New Testament prophecy, see previous post, Eschatology Between the Extremes.


1 Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness–Obsession of the Modern Church (American Vision, 1999), pdf p. 43.

2 all without distinction, not all without exception

3 the resurrection at the 2nd coming that is

4 ”Then” = “At that time” (author’s translation)

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September 29, 2014

The Last from the Past

Adjective: last [last, lahst]
occurring at or forming an end or termination
 
Adjective: past [past, pahst]
gone by or elapsed in time
 
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Hebrews 1:1)
 
A video presentation by a prominent creationist ministry, which promotes a biblical view of the earth’s age over and against the uniformitarian “millions of years” view, takes in to account the catastrophic effects of the global flood as recorded in the book of Genesis. However, the impact of the otherwise excellent production is weakened as the presenter states that today’s secular scientists whom disregard Scripture’s record of the Genesis flood are examples of the “scoffers” which the apostle Peter wrote would come in “the last days” (cf 2 Peter 3:3-6). The devastating problem with this statement is that the inspired apostle wrote those words in the 1st century when the last days of the old covenant were at hand; so that the last days referred to were then, not now.
 
This is a major interpretive error made by modern-day Christians, which has become well ensconsed in many hearts and minds, especially with the high volume of book sales along with seminary teachings by authors and professors based on the misapplication of the past to our present and near future. It is as if someone was to write in broad, non-specific terms about the last days of the current U.S. federal administration which (thankfully!) are nearing, and someone were to read it two thousand years or so from now assuming the dynamics of the situation described to be directly applicable to them there and then, when in actuality the relevance is to us here and now.
 
When it comes to the Holy Bible which is the word of God, surely there is far-reaching application as well as eternal truth to be gleaned, but the correct interpretation must be gathered based upon the historical context and the understanding of the original audience. The last days from two thousand years ago cannot be the same last days today, or they would not have been the last days then. The realization that the “last days” were in the past, and that much of Bible prophecy (not all!) was fulfilled in the 1st century is key to sound discernment of the Scriptures.
 
Holy writ indeed informs us that the Lord Jesus Christ is reigning now. Peter also quoted Psalm 110:1 and said Jesus is exalted at God’s right hand (position of authority), to rule from the Majesty on High (cf Acts 2:34-36; Hebrews 1:3). Jesus Himself said, just prior to His ascension, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18)Hence, He is now King at God’s right hand, just as the Psalm prophesied. The apostle Paul further expounded that He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). This has not happened yet, and of course we cling to the blessed hope of the resurrection of the body when the end comes and Jesus returns in final judgment and to usher in the eternal state. Until then, the almighty, Triune God we serve is certainly to be victorious in time and history. 
 
So the Messianic kingdom has already been established, i.e. we are in the “millennium” now. The last days of the old covenant, including the great tribulation prophesied in Matthew chapter 24, were the days leading up to and including the destruction of the temple, the city of Jerusalem and apostate Israel when the Son of Man “came” with judgment in A.D. 70. “The last days” are now in the past, and followed from the work that He “finished” in A.D. 30 (cf John 19:30). The once for all sacrifice of the Lamb of God has superceded the old system of animal sacrifices, and now its up to the church, with steadfast faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, to look forward to and work towards the building of the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven… for, also as it is written, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
 
The effectiveness of biblical apologetics as well as the fruitfulness of Christian reconstruction efforts will be greatly increased by our faithful witness to the truth that the last days are in the past. The long haul to triumph will likely extend beyond the relatively short lifetimes of those of us alive today; there’s no time to waste. Let’s get busy using our talents in good and faithful service to our King (cf Matthew 25:23), leaving an example for future generations to follow. Keep the faith. Stand strong in the Truth. The worst is past and the best is yet to come.
 
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).