Good Question...

On...was Jesus mistaken about this 2nd Coming?

On Sun Oct 20 10:17:24 1996 XXX wrote:
 Hi, Glenn!
And greetings from Finland. We have got summer at latest. I've tought many times how do You explane that conduct of Jesus what is depicted in St. Matthew 15:22 - 28 and how do You under- stand the words of eg. in St. Luke 9:27, St. Mark 9:1 and 13:3o or St Matthew 10:23, 16:28, 23:36 and 24:34? Let's remember that every single word spoken by Jesus was absolutely troe.

I visited Your fine home page but couldn't leave any feedback then of. You can ( if You are willig of course ) answer via my e-mail or air mail. My replys are ready already.

Have a sunny late summer.

Nice that You exist, Glenn!

Greetings from Ohio and California in the USA!

Thanks for the questions...

You list 8 verses, which fall into a couple of groupings.

 First, the verses Luke 9.27, Mark 9.1, and Mt 16.28 are all about the same event--Jesus' announcement of the Transfiguration.

Second, verses Mark 13.30 and Mt 24.34 seem to relate to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Third, a statement about the culmination of guilt in the generation of Jesus' day (Mt 23.36)

Fourth, a statement about the rapidity of end-time events (once they start)-Mt 10.23.

Fifth, the dialogue with the Canaanite woman (Mt 15.22-28)-- [Answered elsewhere]


Let me deal with these in turn.

First, the verses Luke 9.27, Mark 9.1, and Mt 16.28:

I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." (Lk)

And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power." (Mark)

28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." (Matthew)

Now, some have seen these to be a mistake by Jesus--that He honestly believed that He would return before the death of all His disciples, but the data is decidedly against this understanding of His words.

These verses are generally understood to refer to the Transfiguration event which IMMEDIATELY follows them in EACH gospel narrative. (Remember, the chapter and verse divisions are NOT in the original text--they were added for referencing centuries and centuries later.) In this event, Jesus takes three of his disciples ("some standing here") up a mountainside, where he is transfigured before them into His exalted form (similar in appearance to that of Rev 1), talks with Moses and Elijah about the coming Crucifixion(!), and is spoken about to the three by God the Father in the Shekinah Glory (i.e. the cloud that accompanied the Israelites in the post-exodus journey).

It may be important to note :

  1. the Kingdom of God is EQUATED with the kingdom of the "Son of Man";
  2. Moses (the original covenant administrator) and Elijah (the forerunner of the Messiah) are definitely figures associated closely with the Messianic kingdom;
  3. Jesus is called 'the Chosen' in the Lucan account (a definite messianic title);
  4. in Peter's remembrance/retelling of this in 2 Peter 2.16ff,:
  5. So, William Lane (NICNT: in.loc.):
  6. "The transfiguration was a momentary, but real (and witnessed) manifestation of Jesus' sovereign power which pointed beyond itself to the parousia, when he will come 'with power and glory' (Ch 13.26)."
So, the evidence seems to support the notion that Jesus was referring to the Transfiguration event, which was a fore-shadowing of His return in glory and power later.

Second, verses Mark 13.30 and Mt 24.34 seem to relate to the destruction of Jerusalem.

30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. (Mark)

34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew)

(Although the e-writer does not mention it, Luke also has the passage in 21.32ff)
32 "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 34 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
These passages form the various endings to a teaching session by Jesus known as the Olivet Discourse or Judgment Discourse. As Jesus is leaving the Temple, his disciples draw his attention to the grandeur of the building complex. Jesus prophesies of the coming destruction of the Temple (and the city) and then, later, this teaching session begins with questions (in various forms) from the disciples (three in Matthew, two in Mark and Luke.):
  1. "when will these things be?" (Mt)
  2. "what will be the sign of your coming?" (Mt)
  3. "what will be the sign of the closing/end of the age?" (Mt)
  4. "when will these things be?" (Mr)
  5. "what will be the sign when these things are all about to be completed?" (Mr)
  6. "when will these things be?" (Lk)
  7. "what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?" (Lk)

  8. It should be noticed almost immediately that this is more than three questions! What we have here is a summary of probably many questions, and the ones we do have recorded are multifaceted. Notice, for example, that in Mark the 2nd question is when 'all these things are to be COMPLETED" whereas in Luke it is when do "these things ALMOST START". The questions are interwoven about the destruction of the Temple, the return of Christ, and the end of the Age. In the disciples' minds (as in the wide spectrum of Jewish eschatology of the day-see Messianic Expectation in the Times of Jesus), there were probably no clear distinctions between these events (they were having trouble understanding the messianic prophecies of death/resurrection, remember?).

    What we seem to have in the response of Jesus are answers to all of the above (for example, the 'when to start' question seems to find its point in Mt vs 8--"the beginning of birth pangs" while the 'when to end' question can be seen in Mt vs. 14--"and then shall the end come"), "mixed together" as in the OT prophets. It was common in the OT prophets to (1) group things thematically--not chronologically [e.g. prophecies of nations were often arranged together] ; and (2) to collapse multiple events into one [For example, Isaiah typically collapses the 1st and 2nd Comings into single passages, whereas when Jesus uses these passages for 'identification purposes' to John the Baptist's disciples in Luke 7.22, He only cites the 'healing' verses and NOT the 'vengeance/judgment' verses--those are later, at the 2nd coming]

    Even though the initial verses seem to focus on the destruction of the Temple, there are indications in the passage that the two items of questioning--destruction of the Temple and the Return of the King--are kept distinct from one another, addressed individually, and NOT assumed to be identical (albeit closely related theologically).

    What this means for our study is simply that we need to find out WHICH "question" is MOST LIKELY to be under discussion in Jesus' words in his closing statement about "this generation." If it is the destruction of the Temple, which DID occur in that generation, then the 'problem' disappears. If it is the 2nd Advent, then the 'problem' will require further work (yet, in all honestly, even this 'problem' can be satisfactorily addressed without resorting to exegetical or theological subterfuge.)

    So, let's make some observations from the text.

    Finally, when we notice the structure of the ending in Matthew and Mark, we see how some of the items lay out.

    The ending has four points:

    1. The lesson of the fig tree (Mt 24.32-33; Mk 13.28-29; Lk 21.29-31) [e.g. "Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door."]
    2. The "this generation" saying (Mt 24.34; Mk 13.30; Lk 21.32)
    3. The "heaven and earth will pass away" saying (Mt 24.35; Mk 13.31; Lk 21.33)
    4. The "no one knows the hour" saying (Mt 24.36; Mk 13.31; not in Luke)
    Now, the Lesson of the fig tree (Point 1) can only be a reference to the destruction of the Temple/City. It draws a distinction between "all these things" and "it is near"--all these things cannot logically then contain the 2nd Advent [which is the "it" in "it is near"-cf. D.A.Carson, EBC, in. loc.; and William Lane in NICNT (Mark):478: "They (all these things) cannot refer to the celestial upheavals described in verses 24-25 which are inseparable from the parousia (verse 26) and the gathering of the elect (verse 27). These events represent the end and cannot constitute a preliminary sign of something else."]

    With this "end" of the end-time continuum being identified in Point 1 (as the "these things" question of the disciples), Jesus then solemnly announces WHEN this 'beginning of the end-times' will occur--within that generation (Point 2). With this, He has answered the initial question of the 'these things'--the immediate historical context of the question of the destruction of the temple.

    He then turns (in point 3 above) to describe the "other end" of the end-times continuum--the destruction of the universe (cf. 2 Peter 2.10: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.). Here Jesus is pointing back to those descriptions of the very end, as in Mt 24.29: "Immediately after the distress of those days "`the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' and Lk 21.25f: On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. He points out that the Great End will be certain, as the continuance of His word is certain (yes!).

    And then we have Point 4--the comment that no one but the Father knows the time of the Very-End. [The subsequent parables by Matt in 24.42ff and Luke in 12.39ff, which use the 'thief' image, connect this piece--via the 2 Peter quote above--with the Great-End, and NOT with the destruction of the Temple.]

    So we have a reasonable structure for the ending sequence-(Point 1) pay attention to the beginning of signs; (Point 2) some of you will definitely see these beginnings; (Point 3) the Big-End pointed to by these signs will surely come; and (Point 4) but none of you can know when (with the implications that are immediately drawn in several of the texts to watchfulness, faithfulness, and industry.)

    Thus, Bruce summarizes the same conclusion reached here, in HSOJ:229-230:

    Jesus, as in Mark, foretells how not one stone of the temple will be left standing on another, and the disciples say, 'Tell us, (a) when will these things be, and (b) what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?' (Matt. 24:3). Then, at the end of the following discourse, Jesus answers their twofold question by saying that (a) 'this generation will not pass away till all these things take place (Mtt 24.34) while, (b) with regard to his coming and 'the close of the age', he tells them that 'of that day and hour no one knows...'
    This would yield a very nice Hebraic parallelism:
     (A) Pay attention to my words--they come before (pre-announce) these things--the beginning of the end-times (destruction of Temple)
    (B) When will it occur?--You know when, within your generation
    (A') Pay attention to my words--they outlast that day--the ending of the end-times
    (B') When will it occur?--No one knows when (except the Father)

Third, a statement about the culmination of guilt in the generation of Jesus' day (Mt 23.36)

Let me first quote it in its larger context:

    "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, `If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

    33 "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.

    37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

It is unclear exactly WHAT the question my friend from Finland has about this verse, but I know of at least two 'good' ones hiding in there! One, the historical reference to Zech b.Berekiah "seems wrong"--the biblical records we have might would indicate this individual to be Zech b.Jehoiada. Second, theologically, why would 'all the guilt' fall on that generation?

Let's deal with the historical question first.

The background of this question is interesting in itself. The Hebrew bible is laid out in a different order than the "Christian Old Testament." The Christian OT ends with the book of Malachi; the Hebrew bible ended with Chronicles. In the Hebrew bible, the first martyr-victim of pre-meditated violence was Abel (Gen 4.8); the last was Zechariah ben Jehoiada (2 Chrn 24:20-22). "Genesis to Chronicles" was to the Jew of Jesus' time what "Genesis to Revelation" would be to a Christian of today--a statement of completeness. In one phrase "Jesus was summing up the history of martyrdom in the OT. " (NIV Study Bible, notes, in.loc.)

The 'problem' with Jesus' reference here is that the Zech killed in Chronicles in called the 'son of Jehoiada', whereas the Zech b. Berekiah refers to a much later prophet in Israel's history (Zech 1.1)--one of the very last, one of the most messianic, and one of whom we have no biblical data about the manner of his death.

In this case, we have several good options--and so the challenge is picking the BEST one [any standard , semi-evangelical commentary will survey the 10 or so possible answers].

The most probable one (IMO) is also the one that makes the most sense as a 'summary of OT martyrdom'-that Zech. b.Berekiah was ALSO killed the same way as Zech. b.Jehoiada. This actually makes the 'time span' of Jesus' statement even broader (and therefore more in keeping with the sweeping character of His statement and the thematic context of the statement.)

This is a clean 'solution' if this can be made into a plausible suggestion, but is there any evidence to suggest this possibility?


We know from the genealogical records in the Synoptic gospels, that the writers of the NT (and the participants in the narratives of the gospels) had access to extra-biblical information that we do NOT have access to. For example, there is genealogical information preserved, that spans the gap between the close of the OT writing and the beginning of the NT era, in Jesus' family tree. Those family/legal records were not included in the NT, but only those relevant to the appearing of Jesus and, to a limited extent, to John the Baptist.

If Jesus, then, refers to some of this extra-biblical material in his discussions with other 1st century Jews, we are not confined to finding it in the OT text--it would be perfectly natural to find such material.

In the case of Jesus' assertion that Z.b.B was killed in the same way as Z.b.J, we actually have several strands of extra-biblical material that suggest/support this.

David H. Stern (JNTC:in. loc.) mentions two: "Josephus speaks of Zechariah the son of Barach as having been killed in the temple, and Targum Yonatan assigns the same kind of death to Zechariah the prophet."

Blomberg (BLOM:194) gives two other external data points and points out that the similarities would not be that surprising:

    The fact that some rabbinic traditions (e.g. the Targum to La. 2:20 and the Midrash Rabbah on Ec. 3:16) also refer to Zechariah the prophet as being killed in the temple make the suggestion very attractive that Jesus is following extra-biblical tradition here. The coincidence of having two Zechariahs killed in a similar way leads many Jewish commentators to reject their traditions as also confused with error, but the coincidence is certainly not that impossible. After all, there are thirty Zechariahs in the Old Testament, prophets and priests were not infrequently murdered by their rivals, and it is not clear that the locations within the temple complex referred to by Matthew and Chronicles were identical.
I also find it quite probable that the force of Jesus' argument ("you have killed all the prophets up to now") would have the greatest "punch" if the last martyrdom would have been the most recent and most explicit witness to Him--and Zech b.Berekiah is certainly that! [Cf. The "30 pieces of silver", the "your king comes on a donkey" and "the pierced YHWH" passages!] What this would mean this that the increased clarity of the revelation provokes an increased clarity in their rejection of God's will for themselves (cf. Lk 7.30: But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves). And since Zech. was a 'rebuking' prophet (!) with priestly ties, there is no particularly strong reason to doubt that he could very easily have been killed on 'holy ground,' (as his earlier namesake had been.)

Now, the theological question is not a 'problem', but simply a interpretive difficulty.

We are 'tipped off' as to the meaning in verse 36 by the expressions used in verse 32--"fill up the measure of the sin of your forefathers".

D.A. Carson (EBC: in.loc.) summarizes:

    "The idea behind "the measure of the sin" is that God can only tolerate so much sin; and then, when the measure is "full," he must respond in wrath (cf. Gen 15.16; 1 Thess 2.14-16). The idea is common in the inter-testamental literature (e.g. Jub 14:16; 1 Enoch 50:2; 2 Esd 4:36-37; 4Q185 2:9-10), but never before was the concept applied to Israel."
Let's look at some of the various interpretive factors involved here:

Factor One: This principle (and related ones)--that God generally does not intervene in international politics broadly without a sufficient 'warrant' for judgment--appears in a number of places in the bible:

  1. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." (Gen 15.16)
  2. Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, "Look up and see what this is that is appearing." 6 I asked, "What is it?" He replied, "It is a measuring basket." And he added, "This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land." (Zech 5.5)
  3. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. (I Thess 2.16)
  4. Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. (Gen 18.20--we see a related concept.)

Notice how this was theoretically applied to Israel in Lev 18.26ff: But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.. Just as the 'sins of the Amorites' caused their expulsion from the Land, so too Israel was threatened with that historical consequent of 'defiling the Land'.

Factor Two: Kings were often compared to the 'evil level' of other kings in the biblical history:

  1. I kgs 15.16: He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, walking in the ways of his father and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit.
  2. 2 kgs 3.2: He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.
  3. 2 kgs 21.20: He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.

Factor Three: National evil was cumulative--judgment built up, but righteous reigns of kings/people could 'postpone' getting the needle into the red. So in 2 Chronicles 21, God judges Manassah as doing more evil that the displaced nations of Canaan (vss. 10-16), but the godly reign of Josiah (chapter 22) put the judgment off for a while:

    She said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 `This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.' 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, `This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.'"
Factor Four: Generations of guilt would finally climax in the guiltiest generation, upon which the entire historical judgment (not actually all of the 'legal guilt') would fall (Keener, BBC:111). So, Jeremiah 16.10-13:
     "When you tell these people all this and they ask you, `Why has the LORD decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the LORD our God?' 11 then say to them, `It is because your fathers forsook me,' declares the LORD, `and followed other gods and served and worshipped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. 12 But you have behaved more wickedly than your fathers. See how each of you is following the stubbornness of his evil heart instead of obeying me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.'
Factor Five: These killings of YHWH's messengers were preceded by explicit warnings by God! Even in the first case Jesus mentions--that of Cain and Abel--God had admonished Cain "earnestly and even tenderly" (Hendriksen, loc. Mtt 23.36). Each of the 'rebuking prophets' carried the message of YHWH's reluctant judgment (cf. Ezek 18.32 and Lam 3.33).

Factor Six: These killings of YHWH's messengers were not only CUMULATIVE, but they were PROGRESSIVE as well. Each new generation of prophets carried greater and greater detail in its messages of the kingdom and its requirements for covenant loyalty and personal ethical purity. In the parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mt 21.33-46; Mk 12.1-12; Lk 20.9-19) there is a discernible progression from 'some slaves' to 'some slaves--more than the first' to 'my beloved son'. So, too, the rejection of the King's Son out-did the previous 'high water mark' of evil of previous generations, and prompted the 'triggering' of the judgment in history upon 'that generation.'

And, as horrible as the cumulative crimes of violence against the stream of messengers from God was, yet God's distaste for judgment and His love and compassion for His people are so obvious from the lament passage that follows Jesus' words of judgment. The "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" passage is a touching passage that illustrates that judgment is God's "strange work" (cf. Is 28.21)

So, the theological issue in the passage is relatively straightforward. According to the context before and after the verse 36, the cumulative and progressive rejection of God's reasonable demands upon His special, covenant people, will finally convince God that He has been patient long enough--it is now time for judgment upon the nation. Just as He judged the pagan nations before Israel (Gen 15.16), and Israel herself at the time of the Exile (Jer 16.10-13), once again Israel had failed to take advantage of the gracious patience of the Lord, to pursue righteousness.

Fourth, a statement about the rapidity of end-time events (once they start)-Mt 10.23: When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

This verse falls in the "coming persecutions" section--Mt 10.17-25, which comes immediately after the event known as the Sending of the Twelve (Mt 10.1-16; Mark 6.7ff; 9.1-9) in Matthew's narrative. On first glance, the sequence (without major breaks in it) might suggest that Jesus was promising to Return BEFORE the Twelve Apostles finished the short missionary trip He was sending them on. However, most of the textual data supports a conclusion that the "immediate", short-term Mission of the Twelve (10.1-16) is NOT under discussion in the following "coming persecutions" passage. In other words, the subject of the 10:17-25 passage is some FUTURE missionary work.

Let's make a few observations first:

  1. This passage of the "coming persecutions" is NOT recorded in the other instances of the Sending of the Twelve. [It may have been added to it in Matthew for his own topical arrangement reasons. That is, the Sending of the 12 passage ends on a note of POSSIBLE rejection ("if it is not worthy:"--vs. 13; "if they won't listen"--vs. 14), triggers a related teaching about the end-times (repeated later again by Jesus in Mt 23-24) involving CERTAIN rejection (10.17ff), which forms a perfect context for the extended discourse on the importance of "Jesus first"!]
  2. The Return of the Twelve is recorded in the other two Synoptic Gospels (Lk 9.10 and Mk 6.30). In these concluding accounts, the 12 return--and NO ONE asks "Hey, Lord, I thought You were supposed to be coming in power now!" or "Hey, I thought we weren't supposed to FINISH this trip?". They apparently did not understand His words in 10.17-25 to be applying to their immediate trip.
  3. There are enough contrasting differences between the two sections to tip us off that Jesus is talking about separate time periods:
    1. The first section describes POSSIBLE rejection; the second, ACTUAL rejection.
    2. The first section describes REJECTION but no PERSECUTION; the second focuses on PERSECUTION.
    3. The first section is obviously focused on a local, Israel-only ministry (10.5-6); the latter includes international dimensions (e.g. "kings", "Gentiles", "governors"--none of which would they have been likely to encounter in a local, Israel-towns-only ministry.
    4. The first section implies that they will find some supporters and listeners (vs. 11-13); the second specifically describes a MUCH bleaker picture--"you will be hated by all" (v.22)
    5. The first section occurs very early in the ministry of Jesus--in what is called the 'period of popularity'. The second section reflects an intense --'period of opposition'-- national, social, and legal.
    6. The first section occurs when the message of Jesus is just beginning; the second section suggests that the message of Jesus has somehow penetrated many, many families and households (v. 21).
  4. We also have a strong contextual support for identifying the second section with the end-time period, instead of that very local mission trip. The comment in verse 21 ("Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.) seems obviously linked to the latter verses in vs 34-36 ("Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn "`a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -- 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'). This passage quotes from a VERY end-time oriented passage in Micah 7.1-5).

  5. This supports the general argument that Matthew has used the Sending of the Twelve passage to 'springboard into' the early-warning of Jesus to the disciples that the future work will not be as easy as the mission trip they are ABOUT TO experience!

What this leads up to should be obvious by now. The "until the Son of Man comes" statement in vs. 23 is NOT related to the local, Israelite-only mission of the twelve. Since it points to the end-days, it is simply describing the fact that the harried and violently-persecuted missionary work of the pre-2nd-Advent period will NOT be completed before Jesus returns. In other words, Jesus did not intend (and his disciples did not understand) His words in vs.23 to be a promise of His second Advent during their mission trip.

[Curiously enough, this could almost be seen as a promise of the 'unless the days had been shortened, no flesh would have survived' type. Since the disciples are told to 'flee' to the next city when they are persecuted (vs. 23), the promise of the return COULD be understood as "before you run out of places to escape to, I will return for you". Thus it would be an assurance of rescue. This would certainly make sense here.]

Fifth, the dialogue with the Canaanite woman (Mt 15.22-28)

[This is more related to how Jesus treated people, than to questions about His return, so I have answered it in a different place.]

The passages above are often used by skeptics to argue that Jesus made mistakes (and therefore could NOT have been God--so Betrand Russel in Why I am not a Christian), but a close examination of the passages shows that this view is simply shallow exegesis, and without substance. Jesus admitted to not knowing something (in only one case that we know of), but He never claimed to know something in which we found Him to be wrong! (And for those of us who have been 'testing' His words for decades--a la Luke 6.48-49--most of us have to be honest and say He seems to know what He's talking about--whatEVER He says!)...fortunately for us...


glenn miller, 10/22/96

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