Just had an ah-ha moment

Just a quick thought from George Eldon Ladd (and then a couple of my own):

“If Jesus was sure that the end was to occur in the present generation, he was in effect setting a date for the time of the end; for in terms of the centuries of redemptive history, the identification of the particular generation when the end would occur amounts to rather precise knowledge of the time of the end….However, Jesus had just asserted that he did not know when the end would occur; this knowledge the Father had reserved to himself” (The Presence of the Future, pp. 320-321).

This is an interesting point.  Many a preterist have used Mark 13:30 to “prove” that Jesus had His generation in mind when He was describing what would befall the earth just before His return.  However, as Ladd points out, Jesus says in Mark 13:32 that not even He knows the date nor the hour.  So which is it?  Did He know or didn’t He?

In an hour of history when those who disagree with the premillennial outlook love to roast them with the date-setting skewer, it’s surprising to realize that’s exactly the mold into which Jesus is forced when someone holds the preterist position!

(For the uninitiated, premils take “this generation shall by no means pass away” to mean that the generation that is alive at the time of the beginning of the troubles described would remain on the earth through its duration to see it through to the end.)

Any thoughts?

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6 comments
  1. Interesting. I had never thought of it that way…

    Question for you though: What do you think Jesus meant in Matthew 10:22-23 when he said that they would see the Son of Man come before they went through all the towns of Israel preaching the gospel?

    Also, Jesus in Matthew 16:28 says a similar thing, telling the disciples that some of them standing there wouldn’t taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. Do you have thoughts on that?

    I’m still trying to work through both of these verses and figure out what exactly Jesus was saying. I always want to interpret Scripture in the most straight-forward, literal way, but at the same time I’m not convinced that in those verses Jesus meant that the disciples would be alive to witness His coming.

    If one is set on interpreting those verses as such, then I’m interested to understand how what Jesus said in John 8:51 (that those who keep His word will NEVER taste death) is interpreted…

    Thoughts???

  2. However, as Ladd points out, Jesus says in Mark 13:32 that not even He knows the date nor the hour. So which is it? Did He know or didn’t He?

    The two points you’re comparing have nothing to do with one-another. Jesus didn’t know the date nor the hour, no, but He DID know it was happening SOON. Remember that Daniel and much of Judaic prophecy that Jesus finally explained would wrap things up quickly once the Messiah came. If it didn’t, God would be a liar to His People.

    Dispensationalists and Futurists can never explain what Jesus meant when He said that some would still be there. He didn’t mean “Some of my believers in some future generation would still be around.” He was talking to people then and there.

    The proof of Preterist truth is in Scripture, time and time and time again. The silence of God, the closing of canon, none of these things would happen if Jesus’ return was still future. God’s silence to the Jews for hundreds of years was because of Malachi’s prophecy: the Jews were going to be taught a painful lesson. Read Malachi. Read Jude (an author who speaks with a Preterist perspective, mind you). God was going to teach the Jews the lesson of all of history: complete and total annihilation of their esteemed position as His People forever. And God did so, in 70AD, as prophecized, as promised by Jesus, and as fulfilled in His very generation.

    He is Risen, and then He Rose again. To fulfill the promises, and open the book to all.

  3. joshuasiders said:

    Good questions, Steven.

    Concerning Mt. 10:23, there seems at the outset to be five immediate choices (some have identified up to 7):

    1) Jesus was to meet up with them before they are finished with evangelizing the region.
    2) Jesus’ coming via the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
    3) Jesus’ appearing after His resurrection
    4) Jesus’ coming via His judgment in 70 A.D.
    5) Jesus’ second coming at His parousia.

    Our preterist friends would say it’s number 4, of course. I actually don’t have a problem with that, except I don’t think it captures Jesus’ thought in its entirety. In other words, while I chose 5 different categories, I don’t see why Jesus could have more than one thing on His mind when He said this (As He often does–it’s the Prophet in Him. We as the reader hear linearly, while the OT prophets often times, even without knowing it themselves, communicated things in a manifold, telescopic way.)

    What’s interesting is that the statement “You will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” is unique to Matthew. It doesn’t appear in Mark or Luke, meaning that it’s to be read in direct context to this mission of the Twelve being empowered and sent to the nation of Israel (and, perhaps, in a broader way to all of us in our mission to evangelize this fallen world). Craig Blomberg in the NAC mentions that it is better to see v. 23 “as a reference to the perpetually incomplete Jewish mission.”

    Commentators understandably see v. 23 as one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to interpret. I very much appreciate the face-value approach toward interpretation and, for this reason, lean toward a mixture of options 4 & 5.

    What are your thoughts?

  4. joshuasiders said:

    And, concerning Matthew 16:28: I think it’s fair to say that Jesus had the transfiguration in mind when He told them that some of them would not die until they say Him coming in His kingdom. The transfiguration event immediately follows Jesus private instruction here in the timeline of events.

    However, I think it’s equally fair to say that the ultimate fulfillment would be at His parousia, which was mentioned in v. 27 and parallels v. 28. Again, it’s a saying that is apart of that already/not yet dualism that Ladd is so fond of expounding.

  5. joshuasiders said:

    Before I comment, I want to clarify:

    The two points you’re comparing have nothing to do with one-another.

    A.B., I’m not sure that I follow you. What two points? The day vs. the hour? Knowing vs. not knowing the hour?

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