with Jeremy Westcott –
We have seen how, in the passages leading up to Matthew chapter 24, Jesus was talking about covenant. Specifically, He was warning of the judgments of the Old Covenant which would come upon that generation of unbelieving Israel.
Birth pangsWe are taking this verse by verse now, so let’s go on to Matt 24 vv4-8: ‘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. You will be hearing of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
‘See to it that no-one misleads you’: in this whole passage, Jesus was talking to the church, to those who would be living in Jerusalem and in Israel at the time. They were being warned, so that when they recognised what was happening they could escape out of the city. ‘The end’ is not the end of the world; it is the end of Jerusalem and that Old Covenant system. And when Jesus talks about ‘birth pangs’, what is it that is being born? It is the new; it is the birthing of the church – the new ekklesia of God – in persecution, trouble and pain. The difficulty and pain in the birth of the new was caused by the fact that the old was still around to persecute it.
Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name (Matt 24:9). That is exactly what the Jews did in all the cities where the gospel was preached. They stirred up trouble against the church, against Paul and others, wherever they went.
Verses 10-13: At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
There was persecution. Believers did fall away. There were false prophets. Many were misled. Lawlessness increased. People’s love grew cold. All these things took place in that period between AD 30 and AD 70. “But the one who endures to the end…”, that is, who endures until the destruction of that old system, “… will be saved”.
To all the nations
Now comes a verse which has caused a great deal of misunderstanding because, like much of this chapter, it has been taken completely out of its first century context. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt 24:14). Now you are going to tell me that the gospel could not have been preached in the whole world by AD 70, because most of it hadn’t even been discovered yet. My answer to that is: let the Bible interpret itself. Let‘s look at some scriptures and see whether this prophecy was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5). So already, the day the Holy Spirit came to the church at Pentecost, the gospel was preached to people from every nation – and you could quite legitimately say that the end could have come at any time from then on. But God, because He is gracious, left a generation for people to repent. And many priests, and many Pharisees and Sadducees, did indeed repent and become believers.
And there are more scriptures to consider. Look at these:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.” (Rom 10:1-18).
… the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world… (Col 1:5-6) and, the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven (v23).
The Bible says that the gospel was preached all over the world, to all the nations, at that time. That prophecy was fulfilled before AD 70. We are not still waiting for it to happen.
I hope you are catching this. We have been wrongly taught for so long that it can be a stretch for us to lay aside other people’s opinions and actually see what the scriptures say. And next time we will be doing more of the same.
- God’s Covenant Purpose (freedomarc.wordpress.com)
- Salvation and Judgment (freedomarc.wordpress.com)
- And Then The End Will Come (freedomarc.wordpress.com)