Posts tagged ‘“gospel age”’

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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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” (Matthew 12:32). Surely the age He distinguished as “this age” had to be the age of the law, under which He was born and was ministering; while the “age to come” was a reference to the 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]