Posts tagged ‘“gospel age”’

July 22, 2018

On Mark 8:38-9:1

Mark 8:38 “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Mark 9:1 And He said to them, “Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

A comment on this passage1 states: Mark pin-points the people that he referred to in this statement, “there be some of them that stand here” from “this generation” which shall not taste of death. This quote eliminates any doubt that Christ addressed any other than those of His generation in His day, when He spoke of the nearness of His return.

While it is irrefutably true that in this passage Christ addressed those of His generation in the days of His humiliation, it wasn’t “when He spoke of the nearness of His return”; rather the text (9:1) plainly refers the nearness to them seeing “the kingdom of God come with power” as it did in their lifetimes, and devastatingly so against apostate Jerusalem with its old covenant temple and economy in 70 AD, ushering in “the new Jerusalem”, the new covenant of the gospel age. The Lord’s preceding statement (8:38) about “when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” reasonably refers to His (2nd) coming in the distant future, at the consummation of the kingdom which did indeed come in its power in the then present age.

There is no exegetical nor hermeneutical reason why these two verses must have the same referent just because they appear in succession in the text. As in the parallel passage in Matthew 16:27-28, our Lord exhorts His disciples (and us) to self-denial through persecutions, to receive the reward of eternal life hereafter for standing firmly in the faith in this life till the end. Then He immediately assures His original hearers that the kingdom of His Messianic reign would be manifest before some of them “tasted of death”.

Whosoever shall be ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His words, the Son of man will likewise be ashamed of in final judgment. No one would dispute that the words Jesus spoke in that adulterous and sinful generation, as recorded in Mark 8:38, are applicable as well to subsequent generations. Indeed, in some parts of the world today, Christians are suffering persecutions and staying faithful to the Lord even unto death.

Note the text leading up to 8:38. The Lord had just rebuked Peter in v.33, saying “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”  Then verses 34-37 record: 34When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whosever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Whosoever shall refuse to acknowledge and serve Christ here, shall be excluded from His kingdom hereafter. The cross of Christ, that amazing revelation of God’s power and wisdom, is to this day a stumbling block to some, and foolishness to others; and the consequences of faith in the Lord of the gospel or lack thereof are eternal and irrevocable, pronounced on the final day of judgement at His 2nd coming, which will indeed be a personal, bodily return, cf. Acts 1:6-11. Then 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 (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).

It follows from the context of Mark’s account that v. 8:38 is referring to that final coming of Christ, “in the glory of His Father”, to deliver the consummated kingdom to Him, and judge everyone who ever lived according to their deeds, coincident with the general resurrection of all the dead. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10).

In the next verse (9:1), for encouragement, Jesus assured them that though He must suffer many things, and though His kingdom was then obscure and despised, it would come to be established in great power, as indeed it was, with His resurrection, ascension to the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and the vindication of His divine Lordship via the revelation of His “coming on the clouds” in 70 AD, in vengeance against apostate old covenant Israel, ending the Mosaic sacrificial economy forever, having given Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice — the Lamb of God!

Jesus’ teaching is to count the cost of faithfully serving Him under the tribulations of the world, in light of the eternal judgment awaiting all men. He also (“And He said to them”) taught that His millennial reign was indeed at hand.

Presumptuously absorbing verse 8:38 in with the temporal reference of verse 9:1, while ignoring the context set by verses 8:34-37, is problematical for receiving the correct counsel and enduring application of the passage.

While Mark 9:1 undeniably refers to the kingdom of God coming with power, i.e. the outworking of its 1st century inauguration, within the lifetimes of some of them that stood there then; there is no need of referring the preceding verse (8:38) to the same near-term prophecy. Moreover the preceding context sets the reference to the consummation of the kingdom at the end of time. Thus the Lord Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, imparted to His original hearers prophecy for both the end time (not yet; still in our future) as well as for the then present generation (already fulfilled in our past).

Having covered Matthew 16:27-28 in a previous post, and Mark 8:38-9:1 in this post, for the parallel passage in Luke’s gospel (Luke 9:26-27), herewith is an excerpt from Matthew Henry’s commentary:

“We must… never be ashamed of Christ and His gospel, nor of any disgrace or reproach that we may undergo for our faithful adherence to Him and it, Luke_9:26. For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, and justly. When the service and honour of Christ called for his testimony and agency, he denied them, because the interest of Christ was a despised interest, and everywhere spoken against; and therefore he can expect no other than that in the great day, when his case calls for Christ’s appearance on his behalf, Christ will be ashamed to own such a cowardly, worldly, sneaking spirit, and will say, “He is none of mine; he belongs not to Me.” As Christ had a state of humiliation and of exaltation, so likewise has His cause. They, and they only, that are willing to suffer with it when it suffers, shall reign with it when it reigns; but those that cannot find in their hearts to share with it in its disgrace, …shall certainly have no share with it in its triumphs.

Observe here, How Christ, to support Himself and His followers under present disgraces, speaks magnificently of the lustre of His second coming, in prospect of which He endured the cross, despising the shame.

(1.) He shall come in His own glory. This was not mentioned in Matthew and Mark. He shall come in the glory of the Mediator, all the glory which the Father restored to him, which He had with God before the worlds were, which He had deposited and put in pledge, as it were, for the accomplishing of His undertaking, and demanded again when He had gone through it. Now, O Father, glorify thou Me, John_17:4, 5. He shall come in all that glory which the Father conferred upon Him when He set Him at His own right hand, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church; in all the glory that is due to Him as the assertor of the glory of God, and the author of the glory of all the saints. This is His own glory.

(2.) He shall come in His Father’s glory. The Father will judge the world by Him, having committed all judgment to Him; and therefore will publicly own Him in the judgment as the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.

(3.) He shall come in the glory of the holy angels. They shall all attend Him, and minister to Him, and add every thing they can to the lustre of His appearance. What a figure will the blessed Jesus make in that day! Did we believe it, we should never be ashamed of Him or His words now.

Lastly, to encourage them in suffering for Him, He assures them that the kingdom of God would now shortly be set up, notwithstanding the great opposition that was made to it, Luke_9:27. “Though the second coming of the Son of man is at a great distance, the kingdom of God shall come in its power in the present age, while some here present are alive.” They saw the kingdom of God when the Spirit was poured out, when the gospel was preached to all the world and nations were brought to Christ by it; they saw the kingdom of God triumph over the Gentile nations in their conversion, and over the Jewish nation in its destruction.2

1source: preteristarchive.com

2Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Pub. 1708-1714; public domain.

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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)

December 20, 2014

The End of the Last Days of the Former Ages

NounEnd [​end]
-the point in time at which something ends;
-the concluding parts of an event or occurrence​;
​-the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates
 behavior intended to achieve it​
 
In Acts 2:17ff the apostle Peter declares the fulfilment of what was uttered by the prophet Joel​: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares…”. The events foretold happened in those “last days.” The spectacular fire baptism by the Holy Spirit, daughters prophesying, etc. along with all the cosmic judgment language depicting the then at hand destruction of old covenant Israel all happened then, and is now over and done with. Your daughters are not prophesying any more, for example. As those last days ended and are in our past, I believe that we are not now still living in the last days.
 
Amillennialists such as James White maintain a concept of “this age, and the age to come”, that this age we are living in now is a continuation of the “last days” spoken of by the apostles, and the age to come is the hereafter, i.e. final glory. Surprisingly, postmillennialist Ken Gentry agrees that the last days, which began in the first century, continue through now and on into the future, which understanding requires that the “last days” have now lasted for approximately 2 millennia, so far. One wonders if Dr. Gentry, who anticipates a long period of Christian prosperity before the second coming, assumes that the “last days” will be in effect all that time until then. That there will be a triumph of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ manifesting in time and history should be the Christian’s faithful hope, according to His word; but it is a result of His first coming which ended the last days of the old covenant. “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13).  
 
The patriarchal age was from Adam to Moses, the old covenant age was until Christ. Christ brought in the new creation, such that Dr. White’s “this age” was actually the old covenant age, which was passing away when the New Testament was written; and his “age to come” is actually the here & now of the new covenant, the Messianic reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, the millennium of Revelation 20, the new Jerusalem, the new heaven & earth (in an already/not yet sense). Final glory is not an age in time & history, rather it comes after the end of the ages for us. The end of the ages for the New Testament writers was then.

​The Greek word aion is commonly translated as world, as in Hebrews 11:3 which the NKJV renders: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” The Greek word there translated as worlds is aionas (plural of aion). This passage describes our faith in the providence of God in the works of creation. However aion can also mean “age”, and application of the wrong connotation can be the cause of considerable misunderstanding.

The apostle Paul, in referring to the old covenant, wrote “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). While Jesus’ first advent marked the beginning of the new covenant age, the old covenant age was finally swept away in AD 70. There was a transitional period of about 40 years (a generation) from AD 30 to AD 70 in which the two ages co-existed. Those were the “last days”. It was towards the end of this period when the apostle Peter wrote “The end of all things is at hand…” (1 Peter 4:7).
 
The writer of Hebrews confirmed this in contrasting the types & shadows of the old covenant with redemption through the blood of Christ: “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:24-26).
 
​Jesus Himself mentioned the ages when he said “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:32). Surely the age He distinguished as “this age” had to be the old covenant age, under which He was born and was ministering; while the “age to come” was a reference to the new covenant gospel age which He came to bring in. The “age to come” as a reference to the final state makes no sense because at that point everyone’s state is fixed and it is too late for repentance and forgiveness for any sin.
 
Here’s Matthew Henry’s commentary on the unpardonable sin passage: What the sentence is that is passed upon it; It shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. As in the then present state of the Jewish church, there was no sacrifice of expiation for the soul that sinned presumptuously; so neither under the dispensation of gospel grace, which is often in scripture called the world to come, shall there be any pardon to such as tread underfoot the blood of the covenant, and do despite to the Spirit of grace: there is no cure for a sin so directly against the remedy. 

Even so, in Luke 20:34-36 Jesus says “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” The KJV properly renders aion as “world” in each instance where it appears in this passage, which is obviously preferred over “age” as in modern translations (see NKJV).

We must let context determine the correct connotation of words for sound interpretation of God’s infallible word. The sooner Christians embrace by faith that we are living under the better blessings of the new covenant age as distinct from the last days of the old covenant, which have ended, the sooner we will put off the expectation of defeat; and, walking by faith and not by sight, will trust, obey, pray, think and act accordingly towards advancing the kingdom of our reigning King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, towards that end. Amen.

[See Overview and Pilgrimage tabs above for graphical representations of the two-age model, with commentary beneath each]