Gary answers a listener question about the audience change between Matthew 23 and 24.

Jesus warned His disciples to beware of false messiahs. Thomas Ice argues that “there is scholarly consensus that there were not false Christs or Messiahs until around A.D. 130.” To support his claim, he cites the following from a commentary published in 1878:

We possess no historical record of any false Messiahs having appeared previous to the destruction of Jerusalem (Barcochba [Simon bar Kokhba] did not make his appearance till the time of Hadrian); for Simon Magus (Acts viii. 9), Theudas (Acts v. 36), the Egyptian (Acts xxi. 38), Menander, Dositheus, who have been referred to as cases in point (Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Grotius, Calovinus, Bengel), did not pretend to be the Messiah. Comp. Joseph Antt. Xx. 5. 1; 8. 6; Bell. Ii. 13. 5.22

Is it true that there is no “scholarly consensus” that there were no false Messiahs/Christs until around AD 130? F. F. Bruce writes that “there was an increase in militant messianism in the period following A.D. 44.” Josephus confirms this when he “records that while Fadus was procurator of Judea a certain Theudas, who claimed to be a prophet, led a large number of people out into the desert,” one of the false signs about which Jesus warned the disciples (Matt. 24:26) and that the Roman commander inquired of Paul if he was “the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness” (Acts 21:38). Theudas “told them that by his command the Jordan river would part and they would walk across in safety. But Fadus dispatched a troop of cavalry that killed or captured most of them and rode back to Jerusalem bearing the severed head of Theudas.”

During the reign of Nero, Josephus writes that “imposters and deceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness and pretended that they would exhibit wonders and signs. One prophet “advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives” imitating the prophecy made by Jesus that “the walls of Jerusalem would fall down” but that they could enter “into the city through those walls, when they were fallen down.”

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Jesus predicted that He would return within the time period of that generation alone. Unfortunately, too many Christians are giving the wrong answer when skeptics claim Jesus was mistaken. Everything Jesus said would happen before that generation passed away did happen.

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Gary answers a listener question about the audience change between Matthew 23 and 24. Audience relevance is a major aspect of the Olivet Discourse and the events leading up to Jesus’ prophecies about the destruction of the temple. Is Matthew 23 and Matthew 24 and following addressed to a different people and speaking of different events and times?

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