Jesus warned the Church at Ephesus that He would come and remove their lampstand “unless you repent” (Rev. 2:5). He issued a similar warning to the church at Pergamum: “Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them [i.e., the Nicolaitans] with the sword of My mouth (2:16; see 19:15). Sardis is forewarned using similar judgment language: “If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you” (3:3; see 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 16:15). These are judgment comings that were threatened on a particular church at a particular time similar to Jesus’ promised coming in judgment against apostate Judaism in the first century. The passages that describe the coming of Christ to first-century churches are not descriptive of the “second coming” (consummating coming) of Christ.
Jesus clearly states that He would come in some way before the last apostle died: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matt. 16:27–28). Henry Alford states that this passage refers “to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the full manifestation of the Kingdom of Christ by the annihilation of the Jewish polity….” The question about the “end of the age” was asked against the backdrop of this text. Peter certainly understood that Jesus’ coming was near. He specifically asked whether John would be alive when Jesus came (John 21:21–22). Of course, as we saw earlier, Peter states in his first epistle that he was writing in the “last times” (1 Peter 1:20) and that the “end of all things was at hand” (4:7).
“And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will mislead many’” (Matt. 24:4–5).
By comparing the New Testament with secular histories of the period, we can see that all of what Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse about signs was fulfilled prior to the Roman invasion of Jerusalem and in events leading up to the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. Notice that the warning was addressed to Jesus’ disciples: “See that no one misleads you.”They would be hearing of “wars and rumors of wars.” Jesus said, “See that you are not frightened.” The disciples would be delivered up to tribulation: “They will kill you,” and “you will be hated.” The conclusion is obvious: Jesus’ warning was to the generation of disciples who asked the question about the temple and those who heard His response.
Last Days Madness
In this authoritative book, Gary DeMar clears the haze of "end-times" fever, shedding light on the most difficult and studied prophetic passages in the Bible, including Daniel 7:13-14; 9:24-27; Matt. 16:27-28; 24-25; Thess. 2; 2 Peter 3:3-13, and clearly explaining a host of other controversial topics.Buy Now
2 Thessalonians 2 has been used by nearly every popular prophecy writer to teach who the “man of lawlessness” is and when the rapture will occur. Gary gives a different response on today’s podcast: Read the Bible through the eyes of the original recipients of the New Testament letters and writings. What would it mean to them and how would that change the interpretation of the book?
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