Articles wheat_Tares

Published on January 21st, 2011 | by Dr. Joel McDurmon


Wheat, Tares, Mustard, Leaven

Most people don’t realize that many if not most of Jesus’ parables were intended not as general morality tales, but as particular pronouncements of coming judgment and change. Jesus was warning Jerusalem to repent and to accept its new King (Jesus) or else fall under ultimate condemnation of God. In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels pertains primarily to that pre-AD 70 crowd, and without reading it in this light, we misunderstand it. And when we misunderstand it, we misapply it.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Weeds)

For many (perhaps even most) Christians, the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43) tells the story of the final judgment. This view is especially understandable when based on the old King James translation. It says:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

After a couple of other related parables, Jesus leaves the multitude and goes into a house. His disciples, having not understood the parable but wishing to avoid the embarrassment of saying so publicly, come to him in private and ask that he explain it. He obliges:

He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.  (My emphases.)

Two things primarily have lent this parable to being understood: 1) It has so often been taught as an end-of-the-world parable about final judgment, and 2) the popular KJV clearly says that this gathering, separating, and burning judgment shall occur “in the end of this world” (vv. 39, 40).

This reading clearly makes the verse connect with verse 38: “The field is the world.” It makes it pretty clear that the “world” in which the two strains grow shall be the same “world” that comes to an end. Thus the harvest and separation and judgment take place at the end of the world.

But this translation is simply inaccurate. Verse 38 is correct to say “world,” for the Greek word is kosmos—a common Greek word translated “world.” It refers to the entire system of this planet and the order of things. But the word is entirely different in the following verses. In 39 and 40, the Greek word is aion, from which we get our word “eon.” It refers to a long period of time, and is properly translated “age.” Most modern translations get this correct (ESV, NAS, etc.), and even modern printings of the King James include footnotes with the proper reading. Why the old KJV translated it as “world” is another mystery.

A correct translation here is indispensible for properly understanding this parable and its explanation. It more correctly reads:

The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age (ESV).

This is not a perfect translation, but it gets the important point for this discussion. The thing coming to an end in this teaching is not the world itself, but a particular long period of time. Jesus is not concerned with the end of the world, but the end of the age. And the judgment that is described here, therefore, pertains to the end of that period of time.

The question arises then, what particular period of time is this speaking of? It is possible (and perhaps tempting to many) to make this age synonymous with the end of all time, and thus an end of the world. But is this what Jesus has in mind here?

“This Age”

I don’t think Jesus has the ultimate end of time in view here. Rather, he had in mind the end of a particular age that would be followed by another. This is clear from teaching He had given just earlier that same day (see Matt. 13:1). He had warned the people and the Pharisees against the unpardonable sin: “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).

Here Jesus speaks about this age and the age to come, in both of which the same rules for belief and profession of faith stand. This shows that he had His current age in mind—“this age” was His age that would obviously give way to another age yet to come (for His listeners anyway).

In fact, many of the Greek manuscripts for Matthew 13:40 also include the word “this” and read “The harvest is the close of this age.” While the word is missing from the oldest manuscripts we have, its attestation in a large portion of texts should not be ignored totally.

This understanding of two ages occurs in Paul’s teaching as well. For example, Jesus is the ascended reigning King, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age (aion) but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:21). He then applies these two ages to the rescuing of believers from the spirit of the age:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course [aion, “age”] of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. . . . But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:1–7).

Paul very clearly saw the same two ages Jesus did: one age that was currently operating when he wrote, and another age that would dominate the future. The question then is, when does the switch between these ages occur?

Paul very clearly indicates that a switch was occurring as he wrote, and indeed the old age (which we might call the Old Testament age) was coming to an end as he wrote. In Ephesians 3:8–11, he notes the cause of the change. He says he was given grace to preach the gospel unto the Gentiles,

to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Noting the cause of the change also dates it. God has kept the gospel revelation hidden for ages, the apostle says, but now (as he wrote) He has brought it to light. In other words, the coming of Christ and the work of Christ has effected the beginning of a change in the ages.

Paul repeats this same teaching in Colossians 1. He explains his ministry as delivering the Word of God, “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints” (Col. 1:26). It is clear, then, that a vital change in God’s providence over the ages has taken place with the coming of Christ.

But was Paul’s and Jesus’ “this age” actually coming to an end when Paul wrote, or will it yet be in our future? Paul makes this clear as well, in 1 Corinthians 10. After recounting several stories from Exodus, Paul teaches: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our [his and his audience’s] instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). It is clear from this that Paul saw himself at the end of an age—an age typified by judgment upon disobedient people.

The author of Hebrews uses a very similar expression in relation to the work of Christ: “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” (Heb. 9:26). It is clear here that the end of that old time period arrived in conjunction with the crucifixion of Christ.

So, from the teaching of Jesus, Paul, and the author of Hebrews, we get a very clear picture of two primary ages: one that endured up until the time of Christ, and another than began around that same period. I believe these two periods, being hinged upon the coming and work of Christ, pertain obviously to the Old and New Covenant administrations. Indeed, this is what the author of Hebrews himself relates. He says the New Covenant makes the Old obsolete: “And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). Notice, the New had in fact made the Old obsolete definitively. But as he wrote, in his time, the Old was becoming obsolete and was ready to vanish away. It had not yet been completely wiped out, but it was certainly in its dying moments.

It died in AD 70, when the symbol and ceremonies of that Old system—the Temple and sacrifices—were completely destroyed by the Roman armies. This was the definitive moment when the “this age” of Jesus and Paul ended and completely gave way to their “age to come.” This, of course, is exactly why Jesus had tied “the end of the age” to His prophecy of the destruction of the Temple:

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

The apostles clearly understood Jesus now. Remember, earlier in Matthew 13 they had to ask him to explain the parable of the wheat and tares. He expounded then about the end of the age and judgment upon the children of the enemy. He had clearly and often identified the Pharisees as children of the enemy, and them and their disciples and children of hell (gehenna—see Matt. 23:15). The disciples this time immediately connected the dots with Jesus’ pronouncement upon the Temple (Matt. 24:2): it must be linked with the “end of the age” Jesus taught about earlier. So they asked him now to explain the “close of the age.”

Indeed, it was linked. Jesus went on to expound all of the judgments that would come upon Jerusalem and the unbelieving children of the enemy (24:4–25:45).

The Judgment of the Age

A clear understanding of the parable of the wheat and tares emerges only after the proper translation of aion (age) and the biblical teaching concerning the two ages. It is clear that Jesus did not have in mind the end of the world, nor did He mean the final judgment. Rather, Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43 describe the judgment that would come upon unbelieving Jerusalem. During this time, the angels would “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (13:41) and these would be judged with fire. Many of them literally were burned in fire during the destruction of Jerusalem. During this same time, however, the elect of Christ—“the children of the kingdom” (v. 38)—will be harvested. While the explanation of the parable does not tell us their final end, the parable itself has the householder instructing the harvesters to “gather the wheat into my barn.” In other words, they are protected and saved by God.

This, of course, is exactly what happened to the Christians. Not only were they saved in soul, but they mostly fled Jerusalem before the Roman siege. This was consequent to Jesus’ advice to flee and not look back once the signs arose (Matt. 24:16–22); indeed this would correspond with the angels’ work of harvesting the elect (24:30). Indeed, Christians in Jerusalem sold their houses and land during this time before Rome marched in (Acts 4:32–37); they used the proceeds to help each other. They have no intention of staying in Jerusalem; they knew better based on divine forewarning.

The separation of wheat and tares, then, pertained to the destruction of Jerusalem and the separation of God’s true fruit-bearing people from the weeds, the unbelieving Jews of that time. Ironically, this interpretation gets to the heart of the picture in the parable. A “tare” was not simply any old weed, but a particular weed called a “darnel” or zizania in Greek. It looked almost exactly like wheat in early stages of growth and required close examination to tell the difference. In later stages, the difference grows clear, but then it is too late to remove the darnel without damaging the wheat (as the parable says). Worse yet, the darnel kernels are poisonous, causing dizziness, sickness, and possibly even death when eaten. In short, they could look like the real thing, but they were poison; and after a while, their true colors showed. This was exactly the story with the rebellious Jews. They looked like God’s people, but they were really the children of the enemy—they even killed God’s prophets (Matt. 23:30–39). And the longer history went on, the more their true nature as the children of wrath was revealed.

Thus the parable describes the then-soon-coming end of that old age and the destruction of its children, and the beginning of the gathering in of the true children of God’s kingdom. It should not be understood as teaching anything beyond this.

Mustard Seeds and Leaven

Immediately consequent to the parable of the wheat and tares, Jesus told the parables of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31–32) and of the leaven (Matt. 13:33).

There is much to say about these that I will not have the space to say today. Here is the basic thrust:

Following His teaching that there was a coming separation between the children of the enemy and the children of the kingdom, Jesus immediately describes the nature of the growth of the kingdom. The parable of the mustard seed:

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

And the leaven:

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

In both cases, we have something small growing into something large. Both grow slowly; both grow imperceptibly. This all relates to the New Testament age. A tiny group of disciples was saved from the destruction of Jerusalem. Over time they have grown to fill the world. This did not occur overnight, but gradually. There is still much work to be done, much growth to be had. This, too, will occur gradually and slowly.

The unique emphasis in the mustard seed parable is proportion. A tiny seed grows to house and support the fowls of the air. This is a nothing short of miraculous—certainly beyond the normal expectations of a small group starting a movement. That which is at first seemingly insignificant becomes that on which life rests and depends.

The unique emphasis in the leaven parable is pervasiveness. Not only does something small grow to become large, but it spreads and permeates the whole. In this we learn that the kingdom will eventually Christianize the whole world. Its influence will permeate all people, places, things everywhere. Yet, again, this will happen slowly and imperceptibly over time.

Jesus tied the separation and judgment of the wheat and tares to the change in the “age,” or covenantal administration. From this, we must understand the beginning of the gradual growth of the kingdom as beginning with the gathering of those children of the kingdom. It is for this reason that the two brief growth parables are sandwiched in the text between the parable of wheat and tares (vv. 24–30) and its private explanation (vv. 36–43). They all go together.


It should be clear from this much that Jesus did not predict the end of the world in the parable of the wheat and the tares. Instead, He indicates the end and destruction of the old covenant age, and announces the salvation of the children of the kingdom. This true kingdom will then grow and spread gradually throughout the age to come—the age in which we now live—until it spreads through the whole world. These parables, therefore, go together to illustrate more fully Jesus’ message of the then-coming kingdom of heaven.

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About the Author

Dr. Joel McDurmon

Joel McDurmon, Ph.D. in Theology from Pretoria University, is the Director of Research for American Vision. He has authored seven books and also serves as a lecturer and regular contributor to the American Vision website. He joined American Vision's staff in the June of 2008. Joel and his wife and four sons live in Dallas, Georgia.

50 Responses to Wheat, Tares, Mustard, Leaven

  1. ethan says:

    Full preterism can’t deal with the millennium in any straightforward manner.

    Partial preterism should be called “contextual preterism” simply because that is it’s main hermeneutic: it looks at the context. In Matthew 24-25, the context was Jerusalem’s destruction. But in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff, it was the resurrection. “The coming of the Lord” is not a technical term meaning “A.D. 70.” It is best to equate the term “coming of the Lord” with the term “day of the Lord.” It can be used to mean different events, defined by context.

    FP’s constantly refuse to use the definitive/progressive/final hermeneutic used by contextual preterists. This principle is illustrated in the parable of the mustard seed.

    It is also interesting that the Great Tribulation and the resurrection are never explicitly tied together.

    And finally, remember that we are only in the first stages of the resurrection: no bodies have been raised, except for Christ’s. But souls continue to be resurrected (regenerated) by the Spirit of God. And that will eventually lead to the resurrection of society…thus the slow lifting of the curse. Jesus is concerned about this world: He died to save it (John 3:16). We are not being saved out of it, we are being saved to take dominion over it.

  2. Jason Bradfield says:

    Mikey, I never said I believed in a one “coming”, and even if I had, it would not in and of itself be confusing just because you think it is. Sorry, you’re not the standard.

    There is nothing for me to respond to. You habitually misrepresent people.

    I have a life. Try it on someone else.

    And you should be thanking AV. If they didn’t allow you to rant on here, no one would know of you.

  3. “I have said in the past that the PP admission that there is only ONE coming of Christ in both Matthew 24-25 and that it took place in AD 70 “gives the farm away to FP” ”

    i don’t know what kind of Bible you have, but mine has close to 1250 more pages, besides the 2 containing Mt 24-25.

    Mike, send me your address and i’ll mail you the rest of the Bible.

  4. Gary, Joel, and others…don’t bother with Mike. I’ve already handled it:

  5. Micah Martin says:


    I can sympathize with your frustration. I would just ask that we be very careful and avoid crossing the line into “personal” territory. Gary, Joel, Sam and many others (including FP) have put a lot on the line for their views. Let’s not stop pointing out what we see as inconsistencies, let’s just do it in a more conducive manner.

    I am so tired of being labeled a heretic, “warned about”, and otherwise slandered by those who used to consider me a brother in Christ. I don’t want any part of that nastiness to infect me. If full-preterism has taught me anything, it has taught me the importance of patience, charity and grace towards our fellow man and brothers in Christ.

    Please don’t take this as a rebuke but just a thought.


  6. Micah says, “Even if you stick to that model, you have a Spiritual Resurrection for the First Fruits and then a huge gap between the first fruits and the harvest. When I get the first fruits of my garden the harvest is right on it’s heels, not 2000 years and counting.”

    I’m no farmer, but I don’t think they wait 40 years either! So, are you going to truly stick to your analogy and argue for a millennium that lasts less than 12 months?

    I didn’t think so. Try again. ( ;

    • Micah Martin says:


      I know you are familiar with the Full-Preterist arguments concerning a Corporate Body view of 1 Cor. 15. You can respond how you want and try to nit-pick but I am not going to take the time to try to defend or explain something that I know you are already completely and intimately familiar with. (That goes for the millennium issue also.)


  7. Dave Green says:

    “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of the wheat and tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church” –Gary North

  8. JD Brown says:

    I see.

  9. JD Brown says:

    you still miss the point, but I’ll stop shaking now.

  10. JD Brown says:

    My final thought on this as I don’t want to wear it out. To Kerry, I am not sure if I understood you, but I don’t live in fear of judgement, I’m just saying if I was FP I would be a bit nervous, but since I am not FP, I am very comfortable with my PP as I find it to be as scriptural a system as I have found. I know that I have been saved by the grace of God and by Christ’s work on the cross. Therefore, as Jed Clampett once said, “I’m happier than a pig in a mud waller.”

    As to being in the minority, I think that effects both FP & PP, as DISP does rule the day. I compare this to the media as it relates to politics, as preterists, were like the Fox News & Rush Limbaugh of Christianity. But DISP is the ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NY Times, MSNBC,et al of Christianity. Unless you sift through the wheat, your gonna be be dominated by DISP christian views.

    • Kerry says:

      Good, don’t wear it out. Even if you don’t understand me, I clearly heard and understood you. So, straight up, don’t imply someone who disagrees with your view of eschatology should be nervous or fear the Judgment seat of Christ.

  11. JD Brown says:

    Micah & Samuel:

    Thanks for the replies. As a young Christian I was a dispensationalist by default (weren’t we all?) and worked in cult ministries, JW’s, Mormons, etc. In trying to get them to see the truth and examine the scriptures, I felt I had to do the same, but over the course of time I hated to admit to myself that I, too, was in error, and that dispensationalism was wrong. I have been a partial preterist for the last 12 years. I won’t go so far as to say that full preterism is heresy, but to me (I admit just an opinion at least on this point) I find it uncomfortably close to heresy. To deny a physical and literal future bodily resurrection would make me feel like Rodney Dangerfield tugging at my neck collar and ringing my hands, if I were standing in the judgement line wondering if I didn’t go just a bit to far with this FP thing? Now coming full circle on the cult thing, so many of them deny the physical resurrection of Christ which is the crowning act that allows us to be saved. Thus, it seems there is a correlation between His body that was raised and our own to be raised on the last day. Afterall, Christ is called the firstborn of creation (no JW, that term does not mean what you think it does!) and is to have first place in all things (Colossians 1). If we are not to be raised in the same way as Christ, then what is He the first born of? It seems He is more like the only-born. Even in death and resurrection, He was the first to experience this as He is first in all things. I worry that if we deny our own future resurrection, it is predictable that eventually the resurrection of Christ Himself will be challenged and now this heresy is within the church, instead of outside the church.

    Sam, I hope that you are doing well and be treated well by those with whom you now disagree. Micah, I hope the best for you.


    • Micah Martin says:


      Thanks for your thoughts and I appreciate your willingness to leave the “heretic” name calling out for now. I can’t speak for every full-preterist but I know in my own life it has been a very rewarding yet difficult journey. I too started in the dispensationalist world and made the long winding journey all the way through the Amill, Postmill,Partial Preterist and now to the Full Preterist positions. When I openly stated my beliefs there were some in former churchs that cried heresy and it was difficult to see those relationships sour. I can’t hold it against them, they are doing what their conscience convicts them to do. I respect their wishes and pray against my own bitterness I so easily hold in my heart towards them. I think FP taught me more about grace than anything else. When you suddenly become the minority, you think differently about people who disagree. Especially when you were formerly the victorious majority.

      You bring up a lot of good observations and concerns about the full-preterist positions. Answers are out there. Some are satisfying, some may not be, and of course, different people will have different takes on things, just like in any theological paradigm. Keep studying and you will sure up your position or move on. Either way growth will happen.

      I would highly recommend Sam Frost’s work on 1 Corinthians for the Resurrection issue. I would be happy to send you a link to the audio. In the meantime, God bless, and this has been a great thread and very enjoyable. Thanks for the civil discourse.


    • Kerry says:

      Perfect love casts out all fear, my friend. I don’t think that any eschatology is going to trump God’s gift. Then again, if someone is living in fear of judgment, then I suspect their eschatological view is not the problem.


  12. JD Brown says:


    Your tone is a bit condescending and smarmy, if I were Joel, I would not reply based simply on your attitude alone, aside from the points you brought up. However, you do reflect the general stereotype of superiority in the full preterist cicrles. In your view, is there a physical resurrection of believers at anytime in the future?

    • Micah Martin says:


      I am just asking questions. I agree 100% with Joel on his interpretation of the wheat and the tares parable. I am just asking him to follow through with his own hermeneutic. He castigates the Dispy’s for inserting gaps in prophetic texts but then he turns around and does the same thing in Matt. 13. He doesn’t offer any textual evidence of a 2000 plus year gap between the parables. Using his hermeneutic I could come along and say that the leaven is a completely different age than the mustard seed “age”, so we really are talking about at least 3 different ages before the final “eternal state”.

      I don’t think you have to worry about AV responding to my posts. I don’t care if they do or not (so far they haven’t except once when Gary told me he won’t debate a full-preterist because “there are only about 100 of them”). I’m just going to fuel the fire when a partial preterist sells the farm like Joel just did. Read the comments. The average person understands that this is just another step closer to full-preterism. I say keep writing!!! Joel just took away a major “end of time” proof text from Gentry, North and other FP heretic hunters. That is not an issue between me and Joel, that is an issue between the partial preterist camp. I am just here to say… another one bites the dust! The readers can decide if I am more consistent or not.

      As far as the condescending attitude, I am sorry if it comes across that way. Needless to say I was very excited to read the article and see the inconsistencies that could easily be corrected using the FP paradigm and a consistent hermeneutic. These types of forums don’t convey the body language of the writer very well. I was more “giddy” than anything and it may have come across as pride. I didn’t mean it that way. (The opening line was an inside joke with Gary regarding his response to me that I just explained. I probably could have gone without that.)

      Part of my “giddiness” was also the fact that I know AV is about open dialogue. I truly respect them for that. They have no problem putting out something like this and allowing someone like me to come along and ask tough questions or present alternatives. They also won’t try to hide arguments like some other groups do. I know my comments won’t be deleted here and that others will get to read them! This is a welcome change to groups that disallow FP (or Covenant Creationist) like me from presenting an alternative. So to read something like this on a forum like this is a great thrill for Joe-blow Christian like me. I really respect AV for this.

      I would also ask you to consider if you would think the same thing if it was someone responding and asking questions to a dispy or if it is just because I am a full-preterist asking tough questions to AV? I don’t think I would accuse AV of being condescending for asking a Dispy the same types of tough questions even if they added a bit of bad comedy and some sarcasm. But I might, I don’t really know.

      As for your question regarding a future “biological resurrection” and a “biological coming”, no I don’t believe that because I don’t believe the Bible teaches any such thing. I believe in the “bodily” resurrection. The Corporate Body of Adam died and was raised as the Corporate Body of Christ, in the first century, exactly as Daniel and Hosea and Paul teach. I would be happy to recommend resources so you can study this view on your own if you want.

      In the meantime, I do hope that my apology comes across as genuine, it is. I will be the first to admit that there sometimes is an “air” of superiority among some FP. I have been guilty of it also. It is a constant battle and I will try to be more aware and careful in the future. I will also try to foster a more humble atmosphere among the FP that I know. I appreciate you taking the time to express your feelings. Most wouldn’t extend the courtesy.

      Micah Martin

    • Samuel Frost says:


      Micah Martin, brother of Tim Martin, of the Full Preterist “Covenant Creationists” crowd (which is about as all over the place exegetically as one movement can get – which is funny because he is asking Joel to be “consistent”) does exemplify the attitude I had when I was a Full Preterist leader. Micah has read my works and heard some of my lectures as well. But, the attitude is smarmy. My attitude was one that asked (demanded) people like Joel for “exegesis” when my exegesis was already made up and iron clad – and I was ready to let my bait fall into the trap before I pounced on it. The sad fact is, Full Preterism is hardly in any place to tell one about “consistency”. I ought to know. I was a leader in the movement for almost 16 years. I know them all. The movement is so fractured at the moment that one cannot even define what “full” preterism means. Take Joel’s paper here, for example. Some Full Preterists would “agree” with this, seeing the Mustard Seed as speaking about the “spread” of the Gospel in the age to come. Dave Curtis does (a Full Preterist pastor), Ed Stevens does (p.33 of his book,, What Happened in AD 70?), the late David Chilton did (whose “full” preterism is under question through some investigative papers I wrote – I don’t think David Chilton was “full” Preterist ever), and several others. Now, others, have these Parables has being “fulfilled” by the time of AD 70. Which one is “right”? Which one provides “exegesis”? Maybe they can figure that one out for acting so cocksure about their own demands for exegesis. This is just one example of a myriad that can be produced.

      • Micah Martin says:


        I appreciate you joining the discussion. I did apologize for coming across as “smarmy” (a good way to put it). Please accept it. I respect you immensely and have enjoyed your work. Your books are amazing and have really helped me in my journey. I don’t mind you following your conscience back into Partial Preterism. We all should follow our convictions and I know from your conversations on that it is out of a genuine search for truth. I certainly don’t mind that you are the most outspoken opponent of the Covenant Creation model. You are a great antagonist and have made me stop and think through things again, more than once.

        As far as consistency, I don’t think anyone would say any theological paradigm is anywhere near consistent across the board. I see this as a good thing. It means there is vigorous, lively and healthy study of the subject by the average Joe.. Yes, I agree 100% that FP is “all over the place” right now. It is because many new people are coming into it and bringing all of their baggage from their former paradigms. That baggage influences (for better or worse) their FP paradigm. Some let go of the baggage some work it into their new paradigm. This is nothing new.

        You could say the same thing for Partial Preterism. You showed in your book “Misplaced Hope” that the Postmill position wasn’t even around until the 300′s or so. That position has been around for almost 1700 years now and you still can’t get very many post-mill / partial preterist to agree on much. Joel’s article is a great example. Being “all over the place” is nothing new for theology and certainly can’t be used to discredit a certain position.

        I also didn’t demand exegesis. I just asked simple questions. Some of my questions would definitely be asked by other Partial Preterist as well. I am sure Gentry would like to know where Joel gets his exegetical grounds for dividing up those parables. I was listening to an OPC pastor today, and he cited the “wheat and the tares” parable as the final judgment. I am sure he would want Joel to explain himself.

        IMO, Joel is selling the Partial Preterist farm in the article. I am not sad about this, I am happy as a lark. It is one less thing I can be called a heretic for believing and one less thing I need to defend as a “FP”. If someone uses this passage against my FP position, all I have to do is show them Joel’s take and say it is not only the FP position but also accepted in the PP world. Now they can quit bugging me and take it up with AV.

        I don’t have any problems with Curtis or Stevens. I agree with some of their stuff, I disagree with some of their stuff. I am going to let David Chilton rest in peace. I never knew him personally, but I consider him a very courages and brilliant man. Whether or not he died a FP or a PP, is inconsequential. I have his writings and they are very dear to me. One thing is for sure though, he is probably looking down from heaven and laughing at us right now. I am sure he knows where he stands now, and that thought brings a smile to my face.

        I appreciate your honesty and willingness to discuss these issues. I would be really interested to know how your Corporate Body view of 1 Cor. 15 is received in the PP world. In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy the blessings of the Kingdom.

        Micah Martin

  13. Micah Martin says:

    Congratulations Mr. McDurmon, you just sold the Partial Preterist farm! Pretty soon Gary will have to debate a full-preterist because by the time you get done, there will be more than a hundred of us.

    Just a few friendly observations and questions for you.

    What textual evidence do you use to separate the wheat and the tares parable from the mustard seed and leaven parables?

    I don’t know if you cook bread, but leaven doesn’t take as long to work as it takes wheat to grow. Why would Jesus use the example of wheat and tares to explain one age that was shorter than the “age” that is supposedly longer but exemplified by leaven?

    Also, check out what kind of mustard seed was grown in Palestine at the time. It was a Garden plant. It grew very quickly in the gardening season. The force of that parable is not only starting small but also growing fast. Just like Gary talks about when he has one of the Great Commissions fulfilled in the first century.

    Neither the mustard seed nor the leaven parable talks about “the end” The mustard tree is not cut down and the bread is not eaten. So it is assumption on your part that “the end of time” comes after these parables, if you separate them out from the wheat and the tares parable. The disciples were simply asking about the wheat and the tares because that parable contained what would happen at the end of all three. (How can you separate bad bread from good bread in the same loaf or bad mustard and good mustard from the same tree anyway? These are three parables of the same thing using different angels of view.)

    The mustard seed is also parallel to the OT imagery of Kingdoms. Birds of the air are nations that find their rest and protection. (See the story of King Neb.) This is very similar to Revelation 21 & 22, but that would mean the New Heavens and Earth are our present reality.

    Then there is the problem of Jesus alluding directly to Daniel.

    Matt. 13:43 “Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”
    Daniel 12:2-3 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

    So is Jesus just lifting this Resurrection language out of context and applying it to AD 70 with this parable or is he saying the Resurrection would happen at the end of the age (the harvest time of the parable? Or do you believe Daniel 12 is fulfilled?

    Speaking of the Resurrection. Check out Luke 20:27-38. Jesus talks about the son’s of “this age marrying and given in marriage” (Livarite Marriage). But, those who attain to “THAT AGE, AND THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, neither marry nor are given in marriage.” Jesus only speaks of two ages. The age now (in his time) and “that” age to come (Resurrection). Did Jesus just forget to mention the unknown number of ages between the age of livarite marriage and the age of Resurrection? Or could it be that when the Old Covenant age passed away (Destruction of Jerusalem) the age of Resurrection would be Consummated? (Daniel 12) I would also point out that those who attain to the Resurrection age in this passage are “the sons of God”. This further complicates your “extra ages” argument when you look at Romans 8. The creation was “eagerly awaiting” the revealing of the son’s of God (Resurrection age). Was the creation eagerly awaiting the close of one age and then had to wait through an unknown number of “intermediate” ages before we get to the Resurrection Age of Luke 20?

    Now I am confused! What in the world does “world” mean? Matt: 13:38. If the field is the “world” but it is talking about OC Israel, doesn’t that mean the world (kosmos) may mean “Covenant World”? Now, let me tell you from experience, if you go that direction, you better put on some armor because you’ll have many of the YEC people stringing their bows and grabbing arrows! They won’t let you tip their sacred cow that easily. If “world” means Covenant World in Matt. 13:38 as you just argued, you have also just sold the YEC farm also.

    Of special interest would be applying your definition of “world” from Matt. 13:38 to… let’s say… Romans 1:20, or better yet how about 2 Peter 2:5 or 2 Peter 3:6. Good by global flood, hello local Covenant Judgment… Noah/AD 70! Makes a lot of sense to me.

    I won’t bother to take the time to ask you what you do with the Creeds. I am sure you are well aware that the Creeds only talk about two ages. This age and “the age to come”, but that is neither here nor there (and apparently a few places in between).

    Keep up the good work and feel free to follow your theology and join the Full-Preterist movement. The water is warm, come on in!


  14. matt hatcher says:

    joel interesting post. this parable is often cited as the end of the world in defense of the postmil position, such as by ken gentry and gary north. doesnt your interpretation undercut this view or could it be a possible near/far fulfillment type of parable? thanks!

  15. Joel,
    I agree with your assessment, here is some of my take on this issue.

    The gathering of God’s people at the AD 70 destruction of the Jewish nation is shown in Revelation 14 in the form of the gathering of the harvest:

    Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.
    Revelation 14:14-20

    Revelation 14 shows (by way of symbols) Jesus gathering his people (the harvest of the Land; vv. 14-16; cf. Matt. 24:29-34). Immediately after this, the vine of the Land (the grapes of wrath) is gathered and destroyed in the winepress of God’s wrath (vv. 18-19; cf. Is. 63:1-6; Matt. 3:7-12).[1] This gathering happens at the time the Antichrist (the beast) destroys unfaithful Israel (harlot Babylon; Rev. 14:8-11). This was the time of the destruction of the unfaithful stewards of God’s vineyard (Matt. 21:33-43; cf. Is. 5:1-7). The destruction of the vine of the Land is a most appropriate symbol for the destruction Israel (cf. Ps. 80:8-9; Jer. 6:6-9; Hos. 10:1). The image of Israel as the vine can be seen in the golden grape vines (with grape-clusters as large as a man!) that hung above the gate of the Temple (Josephus, The Jewish War 5, 5, 4).

    My interpretation that the gathering of Revelation 14:14-20 happened at the AD 70 judgment of Israel is confirmed by the area that the resultant bloodbath covers. In Revelation 14:19, the angel gathers the vine of the Land and casts it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. The result (in v. 20) is not grape juice but blood, the inundation of which spreads out over an area of “one thousand six hundred furlongs,” which was the north-to-south length of the Holy Land.[2] As Ladd notes, this “is a distance of about a hundred and eighty-four miles—the entire length of Palestine. The entire land is pictured as being inundated in blood to a depth of about four feet.”[3]

    By the way, the mention of blood reaching to the “horses’ bridles” here (v. 20) is more than just apocalyptic hyperbole. The only place in the OT that speaks of the bridles of horses is found in Zechariah 14.68 Not coincidentally, this reference occurs in the context of the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles/Ingathering. The Septuagint version of Zechariah 14:20 says that at the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Ingathering, even something as commonplace as the horses’ bridles would be holy in Israel: “In that day there shall be upon the bridle of every horse Holiness to the Lord Almighty; and the caldrons in the house of the Lord shall be as bowls before the altar. And every pot in Jerusalem and in Judea shall be holy to the Lord Almighty . . .” (Zech. 14:20-21 LXX). In an ironic reversal of this, Revelation 14 shows the defilement of Israel reaching even to the horses’ bridles at AD 70.

    The interpretation of the AD 70 end of the age spiritual gathering of God’s people is further strengthened by the parable of the wheat and the tares, in which Jesus likened the end of the old covenant age to the harvest:

    He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
    Matthew 13:37-43

    As with Revelation 14, there are two gatherings here: one to destruction, being cast out of the kingdom of God, the other into the glory of God’s kingdom (cf. Luke 2:34). Again, this refers to the end of the old covenant age. This was the time when God’s unfaithful old covenant people were destroyed and his new covenant people fully inherited the kingdom of God (see Matt. 21:33-45; cf. Luke 19:11-27). As I mentioned earlier, there is an allusion found in Matthew 13 to the end of the age as discussed in Daniel 11:36-12:13. The righteous shining “forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father” in Matthew 13:43 corresponds to the wise shining as “the brightness of the firmament” in Daniel 12:3. John the Baptist similarly used harvest images of gathering in warning Israel of the soon-coming wrath at the end of the age:

    But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? . . . His [Jesus’] winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
    Matthew 3:7, 12

    Again, God’s people would be spiritually gathered into the fullness of the new covenant/kingdom at the time that Israel suffered God’s wrath:

    And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    Matthew 8:11-12

    1. See Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, for more symbolic representations of this AD 70 end of the age gathering.
    2. Mounce gives the following reference on this: “In the Itinerarium of Antonius, Palestine was said to be 1664 stadia from Tyre to El-Arish (on the borders of Egypt).” Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, rev. ed., 281 footnote.
    3. George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, 202.
    4. G. B. Caird, The Revelation of Saint John, Black’s New Testament Commentary, ed. Henry Chadwick (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1966), 195. I disagree with the rest of Caird’s analysis of Revelation 14. He argues that both gatherings in the chapter are of the elect (pp. 191-193).

    Duncan McKenzie, The Antichrist and the Second Coming: A Preterist Examination, 380-383

    • Oops! got a typo. See below.

      By the way, the mention of blood reaching to the “horses’ bridles” here (v. 20) is more than just apocalyptic hyperbole. The only place in the OT that speaks of the bridles of horses is found in Zechariah 14.68

      There is of course no Zechariah 14:68. The number 68 is a footnote in my book that I did not convert for my comment. It should read Zechariah 14. [4], connecting it with footnote 4 and C.B. Caird.

  16. Samuel Frost says:

    Mr. McDurmon,

    Thanks for the article. My name is Samuel Frost, President of Reign of Christ Ministries, which used to function as a Full Preterist website. I have since left that movement basically on the outline of the Parables you gave here. This is what I carried into Full Preterism from David Chilton, and it remained with me while I lectured and taught the Full Preterist view. To be to the point, I came in as a Postmillennialist, and in the last couple of years emphasized the “growth” aspect of the Prophets in the “age to come”. I saw the parallels between John’s vision in Rev 21-22 and Isaiah’s latter prophecies, and noted the scholarship on this as well (Beale, Carson, Wright, Gentry, et al). Since I kept the hermeneutical schema intact, it may have been very well one of the causes to move me out of Full Preterism. When I discussed this with other Full Preterists, they were adamant that “all” (every single one) of prophecy was “fulfilled” by AD 70. I never believed this, and in fact, can be heard at a lecture I delivered at one conference saying that “we don’t believe all prophecy was fulfilled, but that there are ongoing age-to-come prophecies which we have been fulfilling for 2000 years. This, coupled with the absurd notion of an “infinite elect” (since history never ends in Full Preterism), forced me to reconsider some things and moved me back into what I guess you would call a more “orthodox” position. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the Parables of Growth being “fulfilled” by AD 70. When the Full Preterist is asked “what is God doing today” he/she has no real, clear answer and the movement is currently struggling to find an answer that merits consensus among the rapidly sectarian aspects of the movement as a whole. One thing, though, I believe, that my eyes have been open to is that if Full Preterism is consistent, then, yes, all (every single one) was fulfilled by AD 70, which effectively cuts us off from any vision (a vision rooted in prophecy as towards the telos, or goal of the church at large). Thanks for confirming for me that I was not losing my mind! Blessings.

    • Brant says:

      Mr. Frost,

      Micah stated that you promote a corporate body view of the ressurection of the dead at AD70, I was under the impression that you had abandoned full preterism. Are you still advancing ideas of a past ressurection and do not adhere to a future ressurection of the body and now are claiming to be a partial Preterist?

  17. Charles Murphree says:

    Thank you for the article, Joel. I’ll have to think more on this. What is you take on Revelations 20:11-15, is it also limited to Jerusalem or is it the judgement of all?

    I have been stuck for most of my life in the ditch of dispensationalism and just recently (a little over a year now) I have been pulled out of that ditch and onto the road sound reasoning (at least it seem to be sound for now) but I am driving cautiously to avoid sliding into the ditch on the other side whatever that ditch maybe.

    Look forward to more of your thinking,


    • Joel McDurmon Joel McDurmon says:

      It is better to take the clear passages for what they say, and to say “I don’t know” on a few here and there, than to be a dispensationalist.

  18. john d. brown ii says:


    I am glad your a Christian, but you seem a bit wound, just because Joel has a different take from does not mean he is doing evil, could you just leave at as Christian brothers you will agree to disagree and (pardon the pun) fan the flames?

    Also, you have no argument from Joel on verse 38, he agrees with you that kosmos is world as he says this in his article. Not sure what your point is on that one?

    Okay, Joel, I defended you, so now your obligated to answer my question from my earlier post!!!!

  19. Ethan Delaney says:

    Jesus didn’t judge the world at A.D. 70. He judged Israel.

    Mr. McDurmon, if you consistently apply the preteristic hermeneutic, you’ll end up saying that 1 Corinthians 15′s use of “the end” (15:24) refers to A.D. 70 (and thus the resurrection is past).

    Not only that, but Matthew 24:14 has a striking similarity to Matthew 28:18-20.

    Why does “the end of the age” have to refer to A.D. 70?

    Matthew 24:3′s use of “the end of the age” is a reference to the second coming. The age doesn’t end until the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:24). The “gathering of the elect” at the coming of the Lord in Matthew 24:31 has a striking similarity to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

    Matthew 24:34 seems to be the root of your hermeneutic. Why does it have to apply to all of Matthew 24:4-31? Why not just “these things” in Matthew 24:3 (as well as Matthew 24:15-22)?

    • Joel McDurmon Joel McDurmon says:


      Good questions all. More than I have time to deal with now, sorry. Suffice it to say I disagree with most of your assertions. As for the alleged root of my hermeneutic, I didn’t even make a single reference to Matthew 24:34. I hope to address the rest in a future post.

      • ethan says:

        I know you didn’t mention Matthew 24:34; I used to be a preterist and I know that it is the root of the preterist interpretation of “the end of the age”:

        Matthew 24:3 with Matthew 24:34 is the only evidence for a past “end of the age.” Other than that, there is none. That is why I said it was the root of preterism.

    • Mike Bull says:

      Hi Ethan
      There are two corporate resurrections. I believe the 1 Cor 15 passage is actually three events:

      Christ (King)
      THEN those at His Coming (Wise Men – OT saints & NT martyrs/firstfruits church)
      THEN comes the end (government – second resurrection and final judgment)

      So technically, the “coming” and the final judgment have been conflated.

      • ethan says:

        That’s preterism in a “pre-millennial” form. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 explicitly teaches that the second coming and the final judgment are one and the same event.

      • Micah Martin says:


        Even if you stick to that model, you have a Spiritual Resurrection for the First Fruits and then a huge gap between the first fruits and the harvest. When I get the first fruits of my garden the harvest is right on it’s heels, not 2000 years and counting.

        Have you ever looked into the Corporate Body view of Sam Frost?

        FYI, I am a full preterist so I see 1 Cor. 15 as fulfilled. The corporate body of Adam was the seed planted, then died, and was raised as the corporate Body of Christ. (Check out Hosea, where Paul gets his teaching from.)


        • ethan says:

          And by the way…there seems to be a misunderstanding about just what exactly “this age” and “the age to come” are:

          Luke 20:34-36says, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection of the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.’”

          There are two choices:
          (1) We are in “that age” (to come), and thus marriage has ceased.
          (2) We are in “this age” (the same as Jesus) and thus marriage continues, and thus Matthew 13:36-43 is not fulfilled (as well as most of Matthew 24-25 and Matthew 28:18-20).

          I think the one that makes the most sense, given the context (Luke 20:27-32), is the second option.


        • Micah Martin says:


          Have you tried to apply a Covenantal framework to your question?

          Is “giving in marriage” just plain old marriage or is it the Levirate marriage mandated in the OT?

          It seems to me that the first century audience would know that they were in the “age to come” when they were shown to be “Son’s of God”.

          This was something that was being “eagerly awaited” by all creation. (Rom. 8:19) Now, mind you, this was being eagerly awaited almost 2000 years ago. The “pangs of childbirth” had been groaning right up to that present time. (8:22)

          Both Paul and John make this a big point in their writings. The revealing who God’s true children are.

          So, yes, marriage has ceased because the OC way of making children of promise (levirate marriage) has ceased. We, living in “the age to come”, are born directly of the Spirit. We don’t have to prove our blood lineage to OT Israel.

          The only other option is that we still have not had the revealing of who the Son’s of God are. (We are still living in Jesus’s age.) If that is true, then we can’t rightly consider ANYONE, including the Apostles, as true children of God because it hasn’t been revealed yet.

          This also applies neatly when considering the controversy with the “circumcision” groups. Who would be vindicated as the true Children of God? Was it the Judaizers who wanted to put new wine (NC) into the old wineskin (OC) or was it the Christians who understood that the old was fading and soon to pass away, giving way to the full manifestation of the new? I think AD 70 answered that question once and for all.

          Just a thought.


        • Brant says:


          Does Mr. Frost still teach a corporte ressurection of the Dead from 1 Cor 15 at AD70? My understanding was that he left full Preterism. Isn’t that a full preterist Position?

          I’ve never heard of anyone except a full preterist expound on and take that point, are you sure Mr. Frost promotes that view. Do you have any quotes? If he does then he is not a partial Preterist IMO.

        • Micah Martin says:


          I have not heard, one way or the other, if Mr. Frost has given up his corporate body view of 1 Cor. 15. I am very interested to see how he works through that issue and how he is received back into the PP world if he sticks with the CB view.

          You are right in stating that that is exclusively FP territory. I would only point out that anytime you hear a PP talk about the “end of the OC age” like DeMar, Gentry and McDurmon, you need to ask yourself if God kept all of his promises to OC Israel.

          Here is the logical argument.

          Paul preached nothing but the “hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20) and nothing but what “Moses and the Prophets said would come to pass” (Acts 26:22).

          Partial Preterist say that the “end of that age” came at AD 70 and that we are living in the age to come. (Doug Wilson makes this very quote in his roundtable with Piper) Some PP even say that the entire OT is fulfilled.

          How can the OC age end without all of it’s promises being fulfilled?

          God made the “resurrection” promises to OC Israel, no matter how you define resurrection, according to Paul. So did OC Israel receive the promises made to them or did God lie?

          I would also point out that PP has it’s own “Corporate Resurrection” view. Dan. 12. J. Jordan, Gary DeMar, and many others take this “unorthodox” view of Dan. 12.

          The question to ask yourself is: Do you base your hope (casket resurrection) on the promises made to OC Israel? Paul did.


    • E Harris says:

      Ethan, the more I study scripture, the more I am beginning to see both its precision and its poetic-ness. Words carry poetic meaning, which means there are layers of truth. Think of it as if you were talking to a wise old man. He knows much more than the 7 year old child. He shares things that are true…but he has to do so on a level that people (present and future, young and old) can relate to, live-out, and believe with.

      The end of an age, is the end of an age. The next era or age comes… and the next. God is Lord of all the ages to come. Time goes on for as long as He wants it to. But, within time, there are most definately changes that can utterly shatter and demolish your feelings, opinions, and relationships. This could adequately be described as the end of an age for any living person. And we are all living people.

      The fundamentals of physical existence do not have to change, for there to be an “end of the age”. For judgment begins at the House of God. And when God begins to reveal his judgments… then time for debate is gone. And circumstances must move on.

      So it was with the Jews, when Jesus came. Jesus gave them time to think it over. But He warned them that He now resides with men, not in a temple made of stone. For them, in their experiential lives, it was the end of an age.

      Now, God holds us in His hands, and we are more valuable to Him than the raw materials of the earth. We are more valueable to him than all of the lower life-forms as well. We are what He did this all for, so that we could embrace His Son, and be saved. What I am trying to say is this: prophecy is not a description of political or “literal” events, as we think of “literal.”

      Prophecy is a description aimed at the heart and understanding of men (and women). Primarily men, since we need more help to understand. We are not as quick to trust. We need to figure things out with our minds. God understands this. (And He prizes us, and holds us as the crown jewel of creation, though His Son.)

      So prophecy will be aimed toward the hearts and minds of common people. Not people who are overly obsessed with materialism, control, politics, etc. Those people consistently miss the boat on just about everything. While REAL things happen right under their noses, and they don’t perceive it, unless they think it will affect their luxury and control in one way or another. Does that make any sense? In other words, as I read revelation, I do so almost devotionally. I see in it meanings that are relavent to real people, and I SEE descriptions of what is going on in the minds and hearts of man, and in the mind and heart of GOD. That is the story.

      Hope that helps.

  20. Frank says:

    P.S. “World” is correctly translated in verse 38:

  21. Frank says:

    Joel, you are so wrong on your articles. Unless one is a follower of the false teachings of someone like Benny Hinn, whenever Christ or one the apostles spoke of fire in the Bible, it speaks of final judgment in hell. Read the words of John the Baptist. In Luke 3:16 he said, “he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Believers are baptized with the Holy Ghost, non-believers are baptized with fire.

    You are doing a very wicked thing changing the words of the Bible into a lie. True Christian charity is loving someone enough to tell them that there is a heaven to be gained, and a hell to be avoided.

    • Frank,

      If anyone is teaching heresy it is you. Did you even attempt to look at the greek word for Aion. It means Age. You took one small facet of the Article and even blundered that part. Is vs. 38 the only verse Joel dealt with in his article. Why not deal with the entire passage and show Joel where he is wrong if he is wrong? That’s just malacious selectivism on your part. Shame on you.

      Here is the text at Hand in the New Kings James…(you sound like a KJV Onlyer but I hope that’s not the case):

      37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

      Lets see you take a stab at it and come up with a better exegesis in how to understand the World/Age rendering of the text.

      Grace and Peace,

  22. john d. brown ii says:

    very good article. But a question, you say the Lord returns when the message goes to all the world. Yet, Gary says this applies to 70AD and he supports this with Colossians and Romans where Paul says the gospel HAS gone out into the world to fullfil Matthew 24- then what is the biblical basis for it going out into the whole world (the entire world this time) before the Lord comes? Couldn’t the Lord return whenever He wants, even before the message goes to all corners of the earth since He does not appear to be limited by Matthew 24 since that was fulfilled?

    • Joel McDurmon Joel McDurmon says:

      The message has indeed gone out into the whole world (oikoumene) as Gary teaches. Those verses clearly applied to AD 70. For today, we are fulfilling the mustard and leaven parables. We spread the message today as part of the continuing spread of the kingdom until we leaven the whole.

      • Patty Keyes says:

        Our job after Christ ascended was to love one another so that people would know that God is real, and to be Christ’s Holy Spirit directed body to reach and preach the Gospel to all nations and tribes. All nations have probably been technically reached at this point, but not all tribes. There are less than 2000 tribal groups now that have not yet had the scriptures translated into their language. This could be done very quickly now with computers and willing missionaries/linguists. But to say that “the whole world,” the nations of men, got the Gospel in 70 AD is just silly. That painfully obvious error relieves the FP and the PP from evangelism. And that ain’t right.

  23. Well Done Joel. Your article helped a fantastic Truth DAWN ON ME in the book of Acts. That’s why they sold their property was b/c they knew the coming Judgement in Jerusalem was coming. DUH!!! Bro that is GOOD STUFF!!! We will certainly be reading this at the Dinner Table tonight….

    Grace and Peace,

    • Patty Keyes says:

      To all: I affirm your willingness to handle concepts and principles of scripture at almost certain risk of criticism, dangling them upside-down by their pinkie toes in an effort to feel that you are truly understanding God’s mind. I hope that you will allow an “amateur” to suggest some concepts that you appear not to have considered. I don’t see them in your article or your comments. God is known in the volume of the Book. He uses the same patterns over and over again. Right is always right, wrong is always wrong. God is consistent within himself. All of it has to be considered, not just a couple of passages.

      As we see prophesy about the return of Israel to their land, and the rise of the Anti-Christ (rapidly being revealed as the muslim Mahdi) in literal Babylon, Iraq, we should also recognize the times and sell all our stuff in preparation for rapture, as the first few verses of Rev. 4 describe. I can’t believe that Jesus said those things only about the Destruction of the Temple. Otherwise, his words would have no more meaning for us in this time, 2000 years later. We would look at that part of scripture as dead, meaningless. This can’t be. The age of the Gentiles has to pass. Until I see Him face-to-face, His Word has to have imminent meaning, something for me to be anticipating and staying on my own toes about.

      Wrath/Tribulation is about to fall on the Gentiles, and in the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, the Great Wrath (foreshadowed in the Destruction of the Temple) will fall on the Jews until they all weep and turn to their Messiah. It isn’t the letter of Moses Law, it isn’t the bloodlines, and it isn’t the national culture of Israel that saves. God saves. And then, as it DIDN’T HAPPEN in 70 AD, the land of Israel will actually be 4 feet deep in the blood of the armies of the Alexandrian nations, China, Russia, Europe and the muslims of the Middle East at Megiddo. I would not be surprised that, like the Old Testament scriptures, the New Testament scriptures have immediate and future prophetic purpose. I would like to encourage you to consider that the second fulfillments of those passages are happening now.

      Very few seminaries apparently have any study of Israel in scripture. This might clear up some things for you. God chose Israel to demonstrate his power over matter, space, and time. In regards to prophecies involving Israel, they are clear, and have historical fulfillment. Only a Being outside of this time/space/matter “bubble” could possibly predict the future perfectly. All other “gods” are created beings or imaginary friends and cannot control anything. You can pin a date and time and place to whatever God predicts for the Jews. He says that the “Age (time) of the Jews” is 2520 years. And the Gentiles are given the same amount of years. Well, God ended the time of the Jews in the Jewish Diaspora to Babylon. But, wait! They had only been a nation on their land for about 1500 years! Where’s the other 1000 years??? It will be the 1000 year reign of Christ literally and physically on the throne in Jerusalem. That clearly hasn’t happened yet. Rulers of this world know this is coming and that it is true. Napoleon was going to reinstall the Jews in their land a hundred and fifty years ago, but his advisors dissuaded him, because it would start the clock of Christ’s return!

      The Church age, which Jesus started with the gift of the Holy Spirit, is about the Bride of Christ, but the church, the family of God, is both Old Testament Jewish believers, and New Testament faith believers (Jews and Gentiles). Jesus is excited to unite Jews and Gentiles into ONE BODY. It appears to me that there are about 37 years where, from the arrival of the Holy Spirit until the destruction of the Temple, The Old and New Covenants overlap. I would guess that God was not real pleased with ANY sacrifices in Jerusalem after Jesus was raised. So what do you do with this overlap? You allow them to be separate issues for separate groups that God was dealing with. And the same will happen with the issue of how the judgement happens twice. There’s a judgement in scripture immediately after the Triumphant 2nd Coming of Christ physically in which the Anti-Christ and the false prophet go directly to the Lake of Fires (satan does not), and after the 1000 year reign the Great White Throne judgement (final judgement of all, angels, satan, humans, to eternity in either Heaven/New Earth or the Lake of Fires Rev.20).

      The Time of the Gentiles ends with the rapture (Rev 4:1-2). At a time known only to God, all of the Gentiles who will turn to Christ will turn, and then that age is over, and the Church is removed, because the Church/Body/Bride is not subject to God’s wrath (for instance, Ruth is not present at the threshing floor during the threshing (the separating of the wheat from the chaff). Jesus returns for his bride in the air.

      And then there’s another overlap. The Church has left this old material life in the old earthly flesh of the New Covenant, and entered eternity, while God still deals with the people who survive the Tribulation here on earth. After the 7 years of Tribulation that begin with a real literal treaty between the Anti-christ and Israel, and end with the Battle of Armageddon (why don’t we call it a rout?), He judges the living people of the unrepentant nations, including the Jews, according to their works, and they continue to live on a healed earth. During this time, the lion will lie down with the lamb. For those who have already died in Christ or been raptured/translated into eternity there will be a judgement for rewards. Then the fully redeemed believers, radiant, will rule and reign with Christ on earth during the last 1000 years of the Times of the Jews.

      Prophesy is pattern. The salvation of the elect is seen from the beginning of Genesis, as God courting and marrying the complete (Jew and Gentile) body of believers. The original ancient marriage rite, father choosing his son’s bride, the groom separating for a time to prepare a home in his father’s house, and returning with his relatives to bring the bride home in glory and honor (whether she deserves it or not) is how God works. He brings her home veiled, consummates, eats and drinks a 7 day feast with her and their families still veiled, and the veil comes off after the feast. To me, this also insinuates that the marriage feast of the Lamb will be celebrated in heaven while the 7 years of tribulation occur on earth. Then the bride unveiled appears with him when he descends visibly and bodily to rescue Israel. He LOVES the happy ending! Preterism to me is really not a happy ending. It’s weird. We might as well be in Catholic purgatory or something right now. [sorry, just my opinion. no condemnation intended.]

      We are not fully “saved” until our spirit is set free of this corrupt physical body, in the presence of God and by His loving hands, installed in a new perfect and eternal body. At that time, we will no longer need to marry. Marriage was a foreshadowing of how God loves people. When we are finally face-to-face with Him, that human relationship isn’t necessary anymore. We won’t have to submit to our spouses or look for new ones, because we have our eternal spouse, Jesus. So, the raptured church, in their new eternal bodies will be on earth alongside the still mortal humans that survive the Tribulation. I also imagine that we will be able to move in and out of eternity at His command, and may not necessarily be earth bound.

      The spiritual need for humans still alive after the Tribulation, and those children born from them over the 100o year reign, will still need to, at some point in their lives, surrender their hearts and minds to the rule of Christ, not just their bodies to his external government. This is born out by the release of satan at the end of the 1000 year reign, when once again people will be deceived and deliberately chose to revolt against God and attack Jerusalem. THEN the final judgement happens, the Great White Throne in which all whose names are in the Book of Life will enter eternity, and those who refuse their Savior go to the end they willingly chose. In the passing of all AGES, He proves His willingness to love and forgive. Whether we humans have one or a number of tools to know him (free conscience, human government, the Law of Moses, prophets, written scriptures, Jesus Himself in human form submitting to the same laws he asks of us, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or the Triumphant Lion of Judah on the literal, visible, and physical throne of the nation of Israel ruling before us with power) we will all have to chose to love him, or reject him. We are all the same. We are all creatures, not creators. We are all fallen and need him to save us. And he will display his grace COMPLETELY so that man is without excuse.

      As to defining “world,” God is principally irritated with not being recognized as Creator in Romans 1 & 2. The world, or creation, groans under the consequences of our sin. Animals, plants, and the environment are all suffering. None of those things are under any covenants. People are. The planet and its flora and fauna are collateral damage, and God likes what he made and wants it put right.

      As for leaven and birds, both have always been to me symbols of evil powers and principalities. I would look at those verses as Jesus warning and predicting that as the church grew, there would be hypocrites and demonic influences nesting in the church, but not a part of it. The same as believing and unbelieving Jews being separated/harvested in 70 AD.

      I would take this as both an encouragement and a bit of reality. Until we see God face-to-face, evil will grow right alongside good. There are plenty of pew-warmers who just don’t ever seriously judge their own actions and grow into more loving people more deeply dependent on God. They may memorize some scriptures, but they never extend themselves in exciting, risky, and painful love for their brothers. We should consider this and not get too disappointed when our fellow church members don’t always do the right thing, or when they cling to church rules rather than heart relationship with God and self-abasing humility and honesty when they naturally fall short of consistent godly example. And we shouldn’t be surprised that when we create man-made organizational structures, instead of simply assembling together as believers to share our testimonies of God’s hand in our daily lives and to worship, we create structures that become self-supporting rather than God-directed spontaneous movements of the Spirit. Our hard outer cellulose walls become hard enough for the birds to nest in. And crap on. Whenever rules and structure are more important than person-to-person relationship, the devil causes oppression of the individual and division in the body. To love each other is much more important than judging each other. We should judge ourselves so the Lord doesn’t have to, and love our neighbors.

      Sorry I took so long to write this. Hope you can forgive me.

  24. Kerry says:


    It is interesting to note that the word “gathering” would be the same as “synagogue”. These words were definitely spoken to the “elect”, pre 70AD. Jesus also said concerning Jerusalem that he wanted to “gather” or synagogue them as a hen would, but they refused. Daniel prophesies of the gathering also.

    It is very clear that Jesus only revealed the meaning behind His parables to His closest disciples. It was to them He gave the “keys” to the kingdom. It was only after the Upper Room event that the disciples really began to understand the “Revelation” of what they had been taught. The teachings on the Mount of Olives concerning the “end” were only given to those same disciples, and it was in detail, and not just parable. This is very important, because when the time grew SHORT, those same disciples wrote and warned of what Jesus had told them was to happen.

    Have you ever wondered why the same teaching about the “end” (Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21) is not in John’s Gospel? Could it be that the “Revelation” is John’s version, and the fulfillment of the teaching? I believe so.

  25. Mike Bull says:

    Well done, Joel.

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