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By:  Michael J. Sullivan 

Copyright 2008 

1)  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Gk. egos)!” (Mt. 3:2):

2)  “…You snakes—who told you that you could escape from the punishment God is about to (Gk. mello) send?” (Mt. 3:7 GNT)

3)  “And even now (Gk. ede) the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His 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.  (Mt.3:10-12)   

Mathison has sought to make the Old Testament prophetic texts “vague” and “non-specific” so as to claim it is possible that the eschatology of the New Testament also follows this confussing pattern.  He claims, “Another nonspecific time frame is found in Malachi 4:5.  The prophet says that God will send Elijah “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.”  In other words, according to this prophecy, something specific must happen (Elijah must come) before the coming of this “day of the Lord,” but we are not told exactly when the coming of Elijah will be—only that it must happen first.” (WSTTB?, p164-165, emphasis added).  But then contradicting the above statement, Mathison says of John the Baptist and Jesus’ teaching that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” in (Mt.3:2; Mt.4:17), “…what they [John the Baptist and Jesus MJS] are saying to the people, in effect, is:  “Get ready, because the long-awaited promises of the restoration of Israel are about to be fulfilled” (WSTTB?, p.169, emphasis added).   I guess Mathison meant to say was “only some of Israel’s restoration promises were about to be fulfilled” and the promise and fulfillment of Mal.3-4 were not included?  Mathison nor any of his co-authors attempt to deal with John teaching an imminent judgment, wrath, and harvest / gathering / resurrection.  Mathison doesn’t even attempt any exegesis of the surrounding verses of Mt.3:7-12 that are contextually connected to the kingdom being “at hand”!  This is because there are very “specific time frame” references found in these texts indicating the “great and dreadful day of the LORD” in (Mal.3-4) was “at hand” and “about to” come!   

The closest to Mathison’s eschatological views would be that of his co-author Kenneth Gentry who writes of our passage,  “The wrath about which John speaks “came down upon Jews of Palestine in an unparalleled manner in A.D. 70,” when the Romans furiously destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and untold thousands of Jews.  (Mt.3:10) – “Here John draws his imagery from God’s judgment against Assyria (Isa. 10:33-34):  that sort of judgment soon will break out upon Israel.  Indeed, “his winnowing fork is in his hand” already (Matt. 3:12).”[1] Notice how Gentry does not address the “gathering” of the wheat and that the chaff will be thrown into “unquenchable fire” which are clear references elsewhere in the new testament to be referring to the consummation of the harvest motif which includes the judgment and resurrection at the end of their old covenant “this age” in Mt.13:39-43.  Gentry does mention that God’s winnowing fork or fan is already in His hand communicating imminence, but doesn’t explain that this is a tool used at harvest time which would further link this passage to the harvest / resurrection of Matthew 13.  Nor does Gentry want to draw too much attention to the Greek word “mello” in verse 7 which should be translated “the wrath which is about to come,” because he knows how this Greek word is used elsewhere in the new testament to be communicating an imminent resurrection and judgment.  This is why Mathison doesn’t touch the text with a ten foot pole.  John Gill correctly makes the observation that the “threshing floor” is the land of Israel and thus a harvest and judgment associated with A.D. 70 should not be ignored:



Christ was just ready to publish; by which he would effectually call his chosen people among the Jews, and so distinguish and separate them from others, as well as purify and cleanse them, or rather the awful judgment of God, which Christ was ready to execute, and in a short time would execute on the unbelieving and impenitent Jews: hence it is said to be “in his hand”; being put there by his Father, who “hath committed all judgment to the Son”. That this is the meaning of the “Baptist,” seems evident, since “fanning” is always, when figuratively taken, used for judgments, #Isa 41:16 Jer 15:7 51:2.  By “his floor,” is meant the land of Israel, where he was born, brought up, and lived; of which the Lord says, “O my threshing, and the corn of my floor!” #Isa 21:10.”[2]   

Jesus and the gospel writers taught that John the Baptist was the Elijah about to come predicted by Malachi and Isaiah to turn the hearts of the people to repentance so that they could be ready for the coming of the kingdom manifested in salvation for the remnant and judgment for the wicked.  This salvation and judgment would be realized in the event of “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Isa.40/Mt.3:3; Mal.3-4/Lk.1:17; Mt.11:14; Mt.17:11-12).  Traditional futurism understands John to have come to prepare the way for Christ’s first coming only.  However, the clear exegetical truth of the matter is that John’s ministry was designed to prepare the way of judgment associated with the second coming of Christ in Israel’s “last days”–“the great and notable or dreadful day of the Lord.”   In ancient times when someone was leveling mountains and making smooth roads into your city it was because they were making a path to bring in their armies and military equipment to conqure your city.  The King would send pioneers and archetics to build a path to the nation.  He would also send ambassadors to give the stipulations of the covenant he was going to make with them.  They would agree to the terms of the covenant or suffer the consequences.  John the Baptist is that messenger preparing a  smooth “highway” and it isn’t just a “happy” picture of Christ offering a peaceful salvation in the hearts of people during His personal ministry, but included an imminent judgment and time of rewards associated with His second coming.  John was the Elijah to come who came to prepare Israel for the “great and dreadful day of the Lord.”  All Mathison has attempted to do is deal with Mt.3:2 and try and isolate the kingdom in an Amillennial or Postimillennial sense as an “in the heart” partial “already” fulfillment separated from the “not yet” of an “about to come wrath,” harvest judgment which is contextually tied to verse 2!   This is further exegetically demonstrated “Scripture interprets Scripture” in how these words are used elsewhere in the gospels and the rest of the new testament.  I will now address major eschatological texts chronologically through Matthew and at the same time trace these imminent time texts throughout the new testament to prove its united message of one imminent return of Christ in A.D. 70.      

4)  “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.  Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.  And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:  “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:  The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (egos) (Mt.4:1-2, 12-17).   

Jesus is announcing Israel’s time of a new exodus and gathering both houses of Israel and the gentiles had begun (Isa.11).  Unlike Israel as God’s son and corporate Adam whom failed his testing period of 40 days spying out and taking possession of the land, Jesus does not fail and upon coming out of the wilderness begins driving out unclean spirits and taking possession of His people/land.  In the old testament, the testing of the spies and Israel for these 40 days is followed by a 40 year period before entrance and inheritance can take place.  So too would Jesus test and try the nation for 40 years giving the remnant gladness and the wicked judgment during this predicted “second time” or “second exodus” Isa.11; Ps.90:15-17.  I will develop this 40 year (AD 30 – AD 70) “second exodus” more when we get into the “this generation” of Mt.24:34/Deut.32:5, 20. 

5)  “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt.5:17-19).

Our time texts here are the words “until” or “till” “heaven and earth pass away” or until all the prophecies of the Law and the Prophets have been fulfilled.  If we can identify what the “heaven and earth” is in our text we can determine when all prophecy will be fulfilled.  Of course Mathison and all the authors of WSTTB? know this is a very important text and this is why it is not addressed anywhere in their book!  Reformed theologian John Brown took the same interpretation of “heavens and earth” in his exegesis of Mt. 5:18 that “Hyper-Preterists” or Exegetical Preterists do, “But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens”[3]

A futurists evangelical theologian agrees and concedes that this text is not discussing the de-creation of planet earth.  Here are some selected quotes taken from Fletcher’s chapter that correspond to our view, 

“…the principal reference of ‘heaven and earth’ is the temple centered cosmology of second-temple Judaism which included the belief that the temple is heaven and earth in microcosm.  Mark 13 and Matthew 5:18 refer, then to the destruction of  the temple as a passing away of an old cosmology and also, in the latter case, to the establishment during Jesus’ ministry and at His death and resurrection of a new temple cosmology – a new heaven and earth.”

“If, however, we insist that the passing away of heaven and earth has to refer to the cessation of the space-time universe then this clause would be almost unique to Mathew’s gospel, indeed for the whole of the New Testament, in referring to a period after the cessation of history which it will be possible, nevertheless, to discuss meaningfully which parts of the Torah are retained and which allowed to fall away.”[4] 

Somewhat more impressive is the way Fletcher develops the overall context of the Sermon on the Mount of which our text is apart.  Matthew 7:24-27 forms an inclusio beginning in Mt.5:13-16.  Jesus’ teaching of His followers being “salt,” “light” and a “City on a hill” echoed many old testament passages which portrayed the temple and Jerusalem  as bringing healing to the gentile nations Lev.2:13; Ezk.43:24; Isa.2:2-4; 42:6; 49:6; Mi.4:1-3. 

“Furthermore, the imagery of the city set on a hill in 5:14 now chimes in with the last passage in the Sermon on the Mount at 7:24-27.  There, there is no explicit mention of a hill; rather a house built on a rock is set over against a house built on sand.  However, given the set of mythological images which surround the view of the temple as cosmos, there is in this passage a clear evocation of a similar Zion theology.  N.T. Wright has now, rightly I believe, pointed out that a parable about a house built on a rock evokes the temple, which is widely described simply as a (or God’s) ‘house’ The warning that a house built on sand will fall under the tempest of the elements herefore looks forward to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70 which is the principal focus of Matthew 24.”

“Read in this way, Matthew 7:24-27 creates a neat inclusio with 5:13-16 around the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. (The beatitudes (blessings) of Mt. 5:3-12 are coupled with the curses of Mt.23:13-26).  These two scenes evoke two of the most fundamental components of the temple mythos; the creation of the primal light and the construction of the cosmic mountain. They thus provide the hermeneutical lens through which the whole of the Sermon is to be read:  this halakah is that of the new creation – its adherents belong to a new temple constitution, a new heaven and a new earth.  Follow Jesus’ words and the prerogatives of Jerusalem and the temple are yours.  Ignore them and you will go the same way that Ezekiel’s opponents went in 587 BC. (Fletcher-Louis, ibid., pp.167-169). 

It amazes me how I never really took the time to study this very important passage of Scripture and how so many today simply assume that all of Israel’s old covenant law passed away at the cross when Jesus here explicitly states that the ENTIRETY of the old- covenant law would not pass TILL HEAVEN AND EARTH PASSES AWAY and thus until ALL of it was FULFILLED.  Here are the points and arguments formulated by us on (Mt.5:17-19) that no futuristic eschatological school has sought to refute or successfully refute:

a)      Jesus did not come to destroy the law and prophets but to “fulfill them.”

b)      Not one “jot or tittle” of the law would pass until it all was fulfilled.  All the OC law being fulfilled is = to “heaven and earth passing away.”

c)      The “end of the age” of the old covenant or Mosaic Law and prophets foretold the following:

1.       The sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Ps.22; Ps.16:10; Ps.132:11; Isa.53; Dan.9:26;…

2.      Pentecost Joel 2; Isa.44.

3.       The Great Commission – The GC associated with a specific  “last days” generation would see it’s fulfillment and was foretold in the law Deut.32:20-21/Rms.10:19-11.  The prophets also spoke of the GC Isa. 11:9, Isa. 49:6, Isa. 60:1-5; Isa.65:1-2/Rms.10:20-21; Hab.2:14; Zec.14:9 as did the Psalms Ps.22:27-31, Ps.98:2-3.  See especially Lk.24:44-48).

4.      The second coming of Christ at which time salvation and the forgiveness of sins would be completed and thus inheritance and entrance into the kingdom would be granted Gen.49:10; Dan.7:13/22; Dan.9:24-27; Ps.14:7/Isa.59:19-21/Isa.27:9/Rms.11:26-27; Zech.14:5-7; Joel 2:31; Isa.40:10/Isa.62:11/Mt.16:27-28/Rev.22:12;

5.       The resurrection (Isa.25:6-9/Hos.13:14/1Cor.15:54-55; Dan.9:24-27/Dan.12:1-7; Ezk.37:12- completely fulfilled 14.

6.        The judgment Joel 2/Acts 2; Isa.66; cf. “d” texts for second coming.

d)      NONE of the OC Mosaic Law would pass until ALL a, b, c, d, e, and f above would be COMPLETELY FULFILLED.   

The Church in Jerusalem upheld Jesus’ teaching and made it clear that the teachings of the “jots and tittles” of the law Mt.5:17-19 did apply to the Jews but not for the Gentiles Acts 15.  The Judaizers obviously opposed the Apostles inspired ruling in the matter.  Just because the Gentiles did not have to keep all the “jots and tittles” of the law, the Jews did and continued to be circumcised and participated in the laws of the land which included worship and vows practiced in the temple.[5]  Paul was falsely accused of teaching the Jews needed to forsake the law of Moses, so the church at Jerusalem had him take a vow with four men which involved purification rites in the temple to demonstrate Paul’s upholding of Jesus’ words in Mt.5:17-19 à Acts 21:21f..  Since so many think that the entire law passed at the cross, some commentators have been so bold as to accuse Paul and thus the entire church at Jerusalem for being in sin for advising Paul to do this and him following through with it.  But again the adhering to the jots and tittles of the law “until heaven and earth passed” for the Jew (even Christian Jews) was critical in the early Churches understanding and in Paul’s theology as well.  Paul would have never been guilty of what his critics were accusing him of, “They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.” (Acts 21:21).  Why?  Was it because he wanted to get along and “be all things to all men” or was it because Paul was being faithful to Jesus’ words, Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.5:19)? 

Futuristic paradigms of eschatology have the old-covenant law of Moses passing at “a” the cross, or God fulfilling all of Israel’s old-covenant promises by “b” Pentecost and thus it is said God is only dealing with the “last days” of the Church age from here on out.  However, Jesus clearly says that none of the law would pass until it was ALL FULFILLED – not some or most of it!  If the passing of “heaven and earth” is addressing the dirt, rocks, oceans, and trees, then we – according to Jesus, are still under “every jot and tittle” of the old-covenant law and it has not been completely fulfilled.  All futurists don’t address these issues and fail to explain that all the law had not passed at the cross but was rather in the process of being fulfilled and was “ready” or “soon to disappear” (2Cor. 3:10-11; Heb.8:13).  None of the authors of WSTTB? address these passages on the passing of the Mosaic law!  Therefore, I would like Mr. Mathison and his fellow co-authors to answer this question:  “At which event has (or will) the old covenant law of Israel been (or will be) fulfilled and passed (or will pass) away:  a). the cross, b). A.D. 70, or c) a yet future event?  And if their interpretations of the “heaven and earth” in Mt.5:17-19 are literal, are they likewise reconstruction theonomists and obeying the mixing of clothing and dietary laws such as Rushdoony?  If ALL the jots and titles of the old covenant remain in force, is modern national Israel the apple of God’s eye and the focus of Biblical eschatology and politics?  If so we should applaud Dispenstationslism for being much more consistent in the handling of modern Israel than reformed theology.    

6)  “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Mt.10:22-23) 

Our time texts here centers around the “at hand” kingdom reference in verse 7 which is connected to the judgment of verse 15 and the contemporary “you” of the first century disciples whom were promised they would not finish running out of cities to flee too (in their evangelism of the cities of Israel) before the Lord returned.  This is one of the “few isolated verses” allegedly forming the “backbone” of our view (WSTTB?, pp.157, 174).  Oddly, Mathison’s main source of authority for the variety of futurist interpretations on this is D.A. Carson whom takes a preterist interpretation of the passage (WSTTB?, p.175)!   Within the immediate context, Jesus uses the same Greek word John the Baptist and Jesus used earlier in teaching that the Kingdom of Heaven was “at hand” associated with an imminent harvest Mt.3:2-12; 4:17; 10:7.  Mathison does not make the connection with the kingdom being “at hand” with the judgment in verse 15 associated with the preaching, persecution, death, salvation, end, and coming of the Son of Man in verses 17-23.   Herman Ridderbos is partially correct when he tries to say that it is not the mission of the disciples that is the issue, but the persecution in this passage.[6] 

But the truth of the matter is that both go hand in hand.  The old testament echo and background here is the “city of refuge” in which individuals unjustly convicted of crimes could flee for safety Ex. 21; 13; Num. 35:6, 11, 14; Deut. 21:2, 9; Josh. 20:1-9.  With this being the background and context Ed Stevens gives a more plausible translation, “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish fleeing to all the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.”  These cities being evangelized would obviously fall under the umbrella of the gospel having been preached to “every creature under heaven” and in “all the world/earth” and to “all nations” Cols.1:5-6, 23; Rms.10:18; Rms.16:25-26 prior to A.D.70.  Not all the cities would have persecuted them during their missionary journeys but when they were, they were promised to have a city to flee to for safety.  We also know from history that the Christians fled to Pella when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies as predicted and directed by our Lord Lk.21:20ff.[7]           

Most reformed theologians try and say this coming of the Son of Man was fulfilled in the resurrection or ascension events as Mathison has attempted to interpret all of the comings of the Son of Man to mean in Matthew Mt.10:222-23, 16:27-28, 24:30-31, 26:64.  Yet the text is inseparably linked to the preaching and persecutions that precede it.  Where is it EVER recorded that the disciples were: 1) “delivered up to councils” in verse 17, 2) “scourged in the synagogues” in verse 17, and 3) given the Holy Spirit to be “brought before governors and kings as a testimony to them and the Gentiles” vs. 19-20 prior to some ascension “coming/going” that Mathison has invented?  All of these events are recorded for us in the book of Acts and took place AFTER the ascension and not before it. All of these events occurred before Christ came on the clouds to make an “end” of the Jewish or old-covenant age in A.D. 70 and “save” His people.  The persecution and fleeing passages are inseparably linked to the time of the “end.”  The chapter ends with those among Israel whom will receive a “prophet’s reward” Mt.10:40-42.  These “prophets” in the context, are the disciples (cf.Mt.23:34-36) whom some of which were promised to be alive to witness the Son of Man coming to reward every man  (Mt.16:27-28/Rev.22:12).  Contextually, one cannot separate the coming “at hand” kingdom from its attended judgment, rewards, and the coming of the Son of Man within the lifetimes of these first century disciples.   


7)  “The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age/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 age/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.”  Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.” (Mt.13:39-43, 51). 

Our time text here centers around Jesus’ phrase “this age.”  All Mathison has to say of this text is, “The kingdom, therefore, is sometimes described in terms that picture gradual progress and growth until a point of consummation is reached…”(WSTTB?, p.188).  He conveniently does no exegesis of the passage to identify the “point of consummation.”  The only kind of discussion of the parables of the sower, the leaven, and the wheat and the tares within reformed eschatology is if the kingdom outlook is going to be “optimistic” or “pessimistic” with massive conversions before Christ returns someday, or very few conversions due to the apostasy.  Mathison offers no historical work on the text – admitting that the Jews before Christ and during the times of His ministry considered “this age” as the old-covenant age of Moses or the age of the Law and the Prophets, while “the age to come” was the new-covenant age of Messiah.  Likewise there is no work on:  1) other parallel texts that speak of “this age” and the “age to come,” 2) the imminence associated with the coming age, and 3)  no admission that Mathison’s postmillennial colleagues such as Gentry, DeMar, and James Jordan understand the end of the age in (Mt.24:1-3) as the end of the old-covenant age.  Jordan in his oral debate with Don Preston admitted that the end of the age in (Mt.13:40) was most likely referring to the old-covenant age ending in A.D.70.        

Postmillennial partial preterists such as Gary DeMar in his debate with Thomas Ice and in his books ask repeatedly such questions about the “you” and “this generation” of (Mt.24).  It is challenged, “If Jesus meant a different generation than that of the first century’s then why didn’t He say “those” in “that generation” instead of “you” in “this generation?” (my paraphrase).[8]  The same argument applies here in the “you” of “this age” Mt.13:39-51.  The best way to identify what “this age” means is to look at how Jesus uses it elsewhere in the gospels.  In Mt.12:32 Jesus says that blaspheming the Holy Spirit in “this age” and in the “age to come” is a possibility of being performed within both ages and will not be forgiven.  If “this age” means the new-covenant or church age, and the “age to come” means heaven and the afterlife, will there be Christians performing this sin in heaven?  No!  But since the gospel was being preached to Jesus’ old-covenant “this age” audience and it is continuing to be preached in the new-covenant “age to come” then it was and is possible for those who hear the gospel under both covenants to blaspheme the Holy Spirit in response to the everlasting gospel.  Then there is the issue of imminence concerning the coming of this new age, “But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the one about to come.” (Mt.12:32 WUESTNT).     

One must also address Luke 20:34.  What “this age” was the Leverite marriage law of Deut.25:5-6 being practiced and debated in among the Pharisees, Sadducees, and then Jesus is being challenged in?  Wasn’t this practice maintained under the old-covenant law in order to raise up seed for land inheritances of the nation of Israel?  The Jews understood that there were some ages (plural – such as the ages of Abraham & David for example) underneath the umbrella of the old-covenant “this age,” but it was also very clear that “this age” was the age of the law and the prophets while the “age to come” referred to the Messianic or new-covenant age.   Since most of the Pharisees understood the resurrection the way Mathison does (a raising up of literal corpses) and that the old-covenant Torah would continue into the resurrection age, then the “lawful” and “legal” question/trap begging to be answered by the Pharisees from the Sadducees was in effect, “How is polyandry[9] (the unlawful practice of a woman having more than one husband) and child birth going to be taking place in this literal resurrection of the new heavens and earth of Isa.65:20?”  Jesus’ answer in a nut shell silenced both groups.  The Pharisees did not understand that the old-covenant Torah and its literal geographical land inheritance rights would pass when the new creation came in. They had no concept of the spiritual Kingdom Jesus was unfolding as the fulfillment of the old-testament Scripture.  The Sadducees denied the “power of God” because they didn’t believe in an afterlife or resurrection of any kind – period.  Jesus’ answer addressed both sides of the debate–for those biologically dead, souls would not be performing reproduction in the consummation / resurrection, and for those living, there would be no marrying and giving in marriage for the legal rights to a literal land because old-covenant Torah would not be applicable in the new creation.  They would be receiving “eternal life” and families, houses, and fellowship in the new-covenant age in abundance Lk.18:30.  Therefore, selling their land knowing that an imminent consummation of the ages and their new-covenant inheritance was in the heavenly realm was an act of faith and worship Acts 4-5/17:31/23:15/24:24 WEY & YLT; Heb.9-12; 1Pet.1:4-12, 4:7.  Even the dejected Ethiopian Eunuch feeling alienated and unclean under the old covenant in his journey to Jerusalem, now had hope and joy in Jesus and from the Jerusalem from above because he could now produce seed through the gospel as being apart of this new-covenant temple as even His Lord and Messiah had (cf. Acts 8/Isa.53-56).   

Mr. Mathison please tell me if you believe we are in the “age to come” (Postmillennialism, pp.86-88) and if the child bearing in Isa.65:20 is to be taken literally or not?  If not, then is seeing God’s face, no more tears and death to be taken literally as well in Isa.65-66/Rev.21-22?  I look forward to your answer.     Since practically any Bible will cross reference Mt.13:43 with Dan.12:2-3, we know that Jesus is clearly teaching that not “a” minor resurrection is in view here, but THE resurrection is the topic which will occur at the end of Jesus’ old-covenant “this age.”  In Dan.9:24-27 the seventy weeks prophecy is “finished” comes to an “end” or is consummated with the event of the abomination that makes desolate Dan.9:24, 26, 27.  Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy is recapitulated in Dan.12:1-7.  Jesus in Mt.24:15/Lk.21:22 clearly states Daniel’s prophecy regarding the abomination of desolation is the climactic event which encapsulates and consummates all old testament  prophecy concerning the tribulation, judgment, and resurrection.  These three events are inseparably tied to the judgment that was to come upon Jerusalem and the desolation of her temple – “when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered” (Dan.12:1-7 – “all these things (vss.2-3) shall be finished”).   Mathison affirms that the Great Commission of Mt.24:14 was fulfilled by A.D. 70.  Gentry, DeMar, and Jordan combined see a fulfillment of the “end of the age” as referring to A.D. 70.  There is nothing in the teachings of Jesus (or Matthew as a narrator) that indicates that the “end of the age” in Matthew 13 or Matthew 24 are different!  The Great Commission, coming of the Son of Man, and the gathering / resurrection would occur at the end of the old-covenant age and in their “this generation”:   

Matthew 13  Matthew 24
end of the age, vs. 39[suntelias ton aionion] end of the age, vs. 39 [suntelias ton aionion]
Preaching of the gospel into all the world before the end Preaching of the gospel into all the world before the end
The coming of the Son of Man, vs. 39-41 The coming of the Son of Man, vs. 29-31
The sending of the angels to gather, vs. 41 The sending of the angels to gather, vs. 31
The time for separation The time for separation
Harvest is at the end of “this age” vs.40 This generation shall not pass till all be fulfilled, vs.34


Before leaving Mt.13:40-43, It is important to note here at verse 51 the disciples understood that Jesus was teaching the harvest / resurrection was to occur at the end of their “this age” as John the Baptist and Jesus had been teaching earlier.  Therefore, once we get into Mt.24:1-3 there is no “confusion” on the part of the disciples in their questions which link the destruction of the temple with the end of their old-covenant age!  Clearly, the “this age” of the new testament is the old-covenant age which was in the process of passing away with the new-covenant “age about to come” when the old would “soon disappear.”  

8)  “For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his words.  “Assuredly, I say to you there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. (Mt.16:27-28)

Along with Mt.10:22-23, Mathison offers no exegesis of this passage and throws it to the wind of the various speculative futuristic interpretations he postulates.  I will lay forth several exegetical arguments proving that Mt. 16:27-28 cannot be divided into speaking of two different events which is the typical futurist approach.  In other words most commentators teach verse 27 is speaking of the second coming and that in verse 28 Jesus decides to no longer address the second coming but that some of the disciples would live to witness one of three events:  1)  The transfiguration, 2)  The ascension of Christ, or 3)  Pentecost.  We shall examine the Scriptures from an exegetical perspective and not through mere speculation such is Mathison’s rabbit trail approach.  Before digging into a vigor exegesis of the passage, I shall quote Westminster “divine” John Lightfoot on our text and then build upon some of his foundational comments, 

“[The kingdom of God coming in power.] In Matthew, it is the Son of man coming in his kingdom. The coming of Christ in his vengeance and power to destroy the unbelieving and most wicked nation of the Jews is expressed under these forms of speech. Hence the day of judgment and vengeance: I. It is called “the great and terrible day of the Lord,” Acts 2:20; 2 Thess 2:2,3. II. It is described as “the end of the world,” Jeremiah 4:27; Matthew 24:29, &c. III. In that phrase, “in the last times,” Isaiah 2:2; Acts 2:17; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Peter 3:3; that is, in the last times of that city and dispensation. IV. Thence, the beginning of the “new world,” Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13. V. The vengeance of Christ upon that nation is described as his “coming,” John 21:22; Hebrews 10:37: his “coming in the clouds,” Revelation 1:7: “in glory with the angels,” Matthew 24:30, &c. VI. It is described as the ‘enthroning of Christ, and his twelve apostles judging the twelve tribes of Israel,’ Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30. Hence this is the sense of the present place: Our Saviour had said in the last verse of the former chapter, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels,” to take punishment of that adulterous and sinful generation. And he suggests, with good reason, that that his coming in glory should be in the lifetime of some that stood there.”[11]

a).  “For The Son of Man Is About To Come…” 

The YLT, DARBY, WUESTNT, and WEY translations correctly translate Jesus’ return here as “about to come” or “soon to come.”  These translations are accurate since this is the consistent usage of the Greek word mello in Matthew’s gospel let alone its predominate usage in the rest of the new testament.  Let’s briefly see how mello is used in Mathew’s gospel in texts we have not already addressed:     

1)  In (Mt. 2:13 WEY) Herod is “about to” seek to kill Jesus, and therefore Joseph and Mary need to “escape”. Mello here is communicating a near imminent danger not just a general danger to be aware of. 

2)  In (Mt. 17:12b WEY) Jesus’ point is not that He is going to suffer, but that His suffering is rapidly approaching or is “about to” take place.  

3)  In (In Mt.17:10-13) mello is used twice.  The first occurrence refers to Elijah’s “about to” appearing in the future fulfilled sense.  In other words, Elijah was the one the entire nation understood to be “about to come” and the text tells us that he had come in the person of John the Baptist.  John is the fulfillment of the nation’s expectancy of Elijah’s “about to” or “soon to come” presence — preparing the way for His “about to come” “great and dreadful day” of Mal.4:5-6 as previously discussed.  Therefore, this is but one more piece of exegetical evidence that is in harmony with what Jesus and John the Baptist had been teaching previously Mt. 3:2-12; 4:17; 10:7, 15-23, 16:27-28.  His return would be in some of their lifetimes or “The Son of Man is about to come…  Why?  Well, since Elijah who was expected to come “soon,” had come in the person of John, Jesus’ second coming could be expected soon, for Elijah must first come, “before the great and dreadful day of the Lord” comes Mal. 4:5-6.  The second occurrence of mello in this passage is not referring to the general fact that Jesus is going to suffer, but that He was “about to” suffer and be mistreated as John the Baptist was. 

4)  Here in (Mt. 17:22; 20:22 WEY) as in point #2 above, Jesus’ emphasis is not the mere fact that he is going to suffer, but that His suffering is rapidly approaching. 

5)  In (Mt. 24:6 WEY) “Before long” is consistent with Jesus promising that “all these things” (including the signs) would occur in the twelve’s contemporary “this generation” (Mt. 24:34). To conclude this point, Christ’s “about to” coming in verse 27 is consistent with Christ’s coming in the lifetime of “some” of the crowd listening to him in verse 28. After thousands of years of the world and Israel awaiting the Seed of the woman or the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom, the span of some of the crowd’s lifetime was a short time for them to have to wait and was thus “about to” happen.

b).  “Verily I say unto you…”

Jesus’ phrase “verily,” “truly,” or “most assuredly I say unto you,” is used 99 times[12] in the gospels and gives the meaning of “Absolutely,” “really,” “may it be fulfilled,” as a phrase of emphasis to drive home a point that has gone before it.  It is NEVER used to introduce a new subject.[13]  Another Editor of a multi-authored book seeking to refute our position states of our text, “…verse twenty-seven looks at the establishment of the kingdom in the future, while a promise of seeing the Messiah in His glory is the thought of verse twenty-eight.  They are two separate predictions separated by the words ‘truly I say to you’”[14]  But Mr. Ice does not produce one passage where Jesus’ phrase “Truly I say unto you” is ever used to separate the subject matter previously discussed!  Since he cannot produce any evidence for this statement, his point at the very least is unscholarly and at worst, irresponsible and deceptive.    

c).  “Some standing here shall not taste of death” and “the kingdom of God.”

As we study Christ’s teachings elsewhere in the Gospels and other related passages in the old and new testaments concerning:  1) The physical death of some of the 12 and their first century contemporaries along with 2) The Son of Man coming and the arrival of the kingdom of God in power, we discover Christ is addressing a very specific and prophetic persecution coming in the Apostolic generation than just alluding to some of them dying off of mere old age before experiencing His return. The only event in the teachings of Jesus that associates the death of some of the Apostles with the Kingdom of God is the persecution preceding his second coming Mt.10:16-23; Lk.21:16-32; Mt.23:31-36; Jn.21:19-22; Rev.6:10-11, 17; 16:6, 15; 18:5, 20.  The only exception to this is the death of Judas.  Here we see in the Gospels and the book of Revelation, that the persecution and the deaths of some of the apostles are always linked to their inheriting the Kingdom at His return in their generation Lk. 21:16-32.  All we need to do to confirm the teaching of Jesus here is turn to other new testament books such as James, 1& 2 Peter, Hebrews, 1&2 Thessalonians, etc. which ties the persecutions and deaths of some of the first century Christians to a genuinely near second coming of the Lord.  At this time God would give them “relief” and judge their persecutors.         

Daniel’s prophecy confirms Jesus’ teaching.  Daniel in (Dan.2, 7, 9, 12) taught:  1)  the kingdom would come and be established during the time of the Roman Empire. 2)  There would be a time of persecution and death for believers during this period.  The “little” horn would wage “war with the saints” and “prevail against them (thus some of them would be martyred) “Until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and (at this time) the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”   The prevailing in war with the saints from the little horn answers to the persecution and “death” of some of the Apostles and their contemporaries.  Jesus made it clear that Daniel’s prophecy would be fulfilled in His generation (Mt.24:15, 34; Lk.21:20-22). 

Some of our opponents have made some real crucial mistakes in trying to refute us on this text.  Thomas Ice makes another blunder, “A further problem with the preterist view is that our Lord said “some of those standing here…” It is clear that the term “some” would have to include at least two or more individuals…”  “…Peter notes that “John only survived among the 12 disciples till the destruction of Jerusalem” (Ice, Controversy, p.88).  In other words Ice is claiming that the twelve were the only audience Jesus was addressing in this text and therefore if only John was alive till the destruction of Jerusalem, then that does not meet the definition of “some” because “some” necessitates more than one.  However, Mark’s account clearly states, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said:…” (Mk. 8:34 – 9:1). 

When we study Christ’s teaching on the “death” of some of His first century disciples in the Gospels it is always in the context of some of them living (while others would not) to witness His Second Coming and inheriting the Kingdom.  Jesus’ teaching on the death of some of His disciples and some of them living to witness a specific event is NEVER addressed to the transfiguration event, the ascension of Christ, or Pentecost.  It is always referring to His Second Coming and to that the old and new testaments bear witness.              

d).  “…in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he cometh…”  (Mk. 8:38). 

Those, whom Christ would be ashamed of at His coming, would be “this adulterous and sinful generation” of A.D. 30 – A.D. 70.  Under the old covenant God was married to Israel Ex. 19.  This marriage was both pictured as a monogamous marriage (God married to a Mother/Israel) and then after the splitting of the northern kingdom and the southern kingdoms, a polygamous marriage.  The picture then becomes God taking two daughters (sisters) as His wives:  1) Israel (Aholah / Samaria capital of Israel) and 2) Judah (Aholibah / Jerusalem capital of Judah) Jer.31:31-32; Ezk. 1:1-4; 1Kings 11:9-13. These two sisters were notorious for their adultery and playing the prostitute (cf. Ezk. 1:3; Jer. 3).  God would end up divorcing the northern kingdom (Israel) by putting her out of His house (or outside the land) through the Assyrian invasion and captivity.  They would end up being swallowed up into the Gentile Nations (Hos.8).  

Although God divorced Israel, He remained married to His other harlot wife Judah from which Jesus would come.  Judah/Jerusalem was judged by the Babylonian captivity but never divorced Ezk. 23:22-45.  Under the old covenant a wife caught in adultery would be stoned and the wife of a priest would be burned.  In Revelation the harlot wife of old- covenant Jerusalem was both stoned and burned!  Mathison admits that Jerusalem is Babylon in Revelation.  Therefore, Mt.16:27/Mrk.8:38 is describing the judgment of the “adulterous generation/wife” in an “about to be” A.D. 70 time frame.  Concerning the phrase “be ashamed of” – The old covenant wife would be left without a wedding garment naked and ashamed while the His new covenant wife would be clothed in Christ’s righteousness as His new creation “house from above” unashamed and “further clothed” Mt.22:1-14; Rev.3:18; 19:8/2Cor.5:1-21.

e).  “…There, are, certain of those here standing, who shall in nowise taste of death, until they see the kingdom of God, already come in power.” (Mrk.9:1 Rotherham Translation).

 In Mark’s parallel account, some of the disciples live to see Christ’s return and kingdom coming when he uses the perfect participle while Matthew uses the future tense.  In other words Mark is saying that some of the disciples would live to be able to look back on this event knowing that the coming of the Lord and His kingdom had already come in power.  Kenneth Gentry concedes this point citing J.A Alexander: “Here “come” is “not, as the English words may seem to mean, in the act of coming (till they see it come), but actually or already come, the only sense that can be put upon the perfect participle here employed.”[12]  Thus, His disciples were to expect its exhibition in power.  It was not powerfully to evidence itself immediately, for many of His disciples would die before it acted in power.  Yet it was to be within the lifetimes of others, for “some” standing there would witness it.  This seems clearly to refer to the A.D. 70 destruction of the temple and removal of the Old Testament means of worship (cf. Heb. 12:25-28; Rev.1:1, 3, 9).  This occurred as a direct result of Jesus’ prophecies (John 4:21-23; Matt.21:33ff.; 23:31-34:34).” (Gentry, ibid., Dominion, p.215-216, emphasis added).    


According to church history the Apostle John was seen alive after the fall of Jerusalem and Christians fled to Pella for safety.  The issue really is not what the early church fathers taught, but rather what Jesus and the INSPIRED early Church Father’s taught!  Mathison and others want to have early church documentation for the belief that these Christians understood that Christ had returned in A.D. 70.  There is early church silence on a lot of theological positions the church holds today!  And when the documentation does come in, they will only say, “Well, apparently the heretical view of Hyper-Preterism was being taught a lot earlier than what we first thought



Do we believe Jesus said that some of the first century Christians would be able to look back upon the destruction of Jerusalem and know that His coming and kingdom had arrived or don’t we?  I experientially know and can see from reading my Lord’s words and the testimony of the Scriptures themselves that the historical destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 proves without a shadow of doubt He has established His Kingdom “within” me and the rest of His Body.  Jesus tells the disciples that some of them would live to “see” His coming and that the Kingdom would have already come in power to bear witness to His return.  The Greek word here for “see” is eido.  Strong’s Concordance defines eido as to “know how” and “perceive” as well as physical sight.  Through observing with the physical senses the destruction of the outer shell of the oldcovenant kingdom’s temple and City in A.D.70, “some” of Jesus’ contemporary audience would be able to “perceive” and “know how” Christ’s spiritual Kingdom had come “within” them Lk.17:20-37; Cols.1:27; Jn.14:2-3, 23.  This text is one of many that refutes a literal so called “rapture” or literal resurrection off the earth for the living and remaining at Christ’s return!    


f).  The “reward” of Isa.40 & 62, Mt.16:27-28, & the Rev. 1-3; 20-22:12 Connection.  

The “about to” coming of the Son of Man to reward the righteous and the wicked mentioned in Mt.16:27-28 is taken from the “last days” prophecy of the coming Day of the Lord in (Isa.2-3:10-11; Isa.40:10; Isa.62:11).  Since everyone agrees that Jesus quoting Isa.3:19 in Lk.23:30 refer to the A.D. 70 judgment, there is no need to question that He is using the Isaiah text to be referring to a different judgment in Rev.6:15 – especially when the time references are taken at face value.  Remember, John the Baptist was “preparing the way” for a judgment and salvation as predicted by Isaiah 40!  John was the voice “crying” out all right, but it concerned a judgment day in which Messiah was coming in “power” to reward the wicked and the righteous.  John’s “wrath about to come” in (Mt.3:7) and Jesus’ “The Son of Man is about to come…” “…to reward everyman…” are refering to the SAME A.D. 70 event!  Mathison fails at every level in either ignoring mello throughout the new testament, or in allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.  Who’s really doing the “shallow exegesis” here reader?   




·        “The Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels,

·        “Behold I am coming soon

·        “then He shall reward every man according to his works

·        “and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be”


When Mt.16:27-28 is taken together with the book of Revelation from beginning to end, both form an inescapable A.D.70 time of fulfillment harmony.  Mathison agrees with us that the audience and subject matter of the book of Revelation was written to seven historical churches in Asia (Rev.1:4) who were told that they would experience the coming of the Lord, judgment, and receive rewards in an “at hand,” “about to be,” “shortly,” time frame Rev.1:1, 3, 7, 19-mello;” Rev.2:5, 7, 10-11, 16, 17, 25-29; Rev.3:4-5, 10-12, 18, 21; 22:6-7, 10-12, 20.  But once we get in the book of Revelation, is the “coming” of Christ associated with judging and rewarding “every man” including  “the dead,” the ascension event or His second coming?  When we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, it becomes clearer that Mt.16:27-28 is not just “a” coming/going of Christ at the ascension.  Any unbiased reader of both sides of the reformed house divided can see:  1)  the time statements point to an A.D. 70 time of fulfillment, and 2) the coming of Christ in the book of Revelation refers to the second coming to render judgment and rewards to the living and the dead as Jesus teaches here Mt.16:27-28! 

 g).  Mt. 16:27-28 and the Olivet Discourse connection.  

Jesus in the Olivet discourse ties the same subject matter in with both Mt. 16:27 & 28.  Not only is the same subject matter taken as one unit in the Olivet Discourse, but the same time frame for the second coming is reiterated by Christ,This generation”: 


1) Christ comes in glory

Luke 9:26

1) Christ comes in glory

Matthew 24:30

2) Christ comes with angels

Matthew 16:27

2) Christ comes with angels

Matthew 24:31

3) Christ comes in judgment

Matthew 16:27

3) Christ comes in judgment

Matthew 24:28-31; 25:31-34

4) Christ and the kingdom come in power

Mark 8:38

4) Christ and the kingdom come in power

Luke 21:27-32

5) Some of the disciples would live

Matthew 16:28

5) Some of the disciples would live

Luke 21:16-18

6) Some of the disciples would die

Matthew 16:28

6) Some of the disciples would die

Luke 21:16

7) Christ would be ashamed of the disciples  generation Mark 8:38

7) All of this would occur in the disciples  generation Matthew 24:34

Mathison’s problem is that he says the coming of Christ in Mt.16:27-28; Mt.24:30-31 is fulfilled at the ascension when Christ goes “up” and then comes again and again and again.  However, none of the disciples were persecuted to the point of death before the event of the ascension and Christ did not come in power in judgment upon His enemies at this time either.  This language is re-iterated as Christ’s second coming in Mt.25:31-34 where again Christ comes in glory, with angels, the kingdom is inherited, and the righteous rewarded and the wicked judged.  This is a very specific historical event and is not addressing several comings of Christ at: 1)  the ascension, 2) Pentecost, 3)  A.D. 70, and 4) a future coming to end history.  This is pure eisegesis on Mathison’s part and those who blindly regurgitate these kind of vain traditions and want to pawn them off as valid interpretations.”            

Fulfilled in the Transfiguration? 

Mathison states, “It has also been suggested that the “coming” of the Son of Man in 16:28 refers to the Transfiguration (cf. Matt. 17:1-8). (WSTTB?, p.176).  Indeed many conjecture that (Mt. 16:27-28) is fulfilled with the transfiguration event following verse 28 and then make a connection to (1Pet. 1:16-21).  It is somehow reasoned that since Christ was transfigured before them, that He came “in glory” and “in His kingdom” at this time.  However, based upon the exegetical arguments I have provided above that tie verses 27-28 together as one unit, futurists reformed or otherwise, who hold this position need to demonstrate how the transfiguration event fulfills both verses together.  So how does the transfiguration event fulfill this passage when:  1)  the text says there were no angels present, 2) the text mentions nothing of a judgment and rewards given to all men at this event, 3)  the text mentions nothing of Christ coming in His kingdom at this time, and 4)  None of the disciples tasted of death during this 6 – 8 day period making Jesus’ words nonsense.          

In Luke’s account I think the initial theological connection is made clearer.  There it says Moses and Elijah came to talk with Jesus about His “exodus” (Lk.9:31NLT & WUESTNT).  This is a better translation than Jesus’ “departure” because it is communicating Jesus is the one the law and the prophets foretold would bring about Israel’s new covenant “new exodus” redemption and salvation.[15]  This will be stressed later in the gospels when Jesus takes His disciples to the upper room on the Passover, clearly teaching them that in Him is the new exodus realized because He is the Passover Lamb of God. 


In the vision Moses and Elijah appear to bear witness that Jesus is about to perform the new exodus.  When Peter wants Moses and Elijah to remain and abide with the other disciples and Jesus, God causes the glory of Moses and Elijah to disappear.   The theology and point of the vision was the disappearing of the old covenant order pictured in the glory of Moses and Elijah (the law and the prophets), and the emphasis on the eternal abiding glory of the new covenant words of Christ – “here Him” (Mt. 17:5-8; cf. Mt.24:35).  To seek the abiding nature of the old covenant (Moses and Elijah) along with the new (Christ) was the error of the Judaizers and mockers of Peter’s day!  The essence and nut shell of the vision was to give a visual unfolding of the “mystery” of the kingdom that would serve as an apologetic against the Judaizers and false prophets in the years to come.  


There are only two other places in the new testament where this Greek word transfigured or transformed metamorphoo is used (Rms.12:2 & 2Cor. 3:18).  Paul’s “therefore” of Rms.12:1 is linking it with his teaching of the unsearchable riches of the new-covenant “mystery” (Jew/Gentile) or salvation that he has been developing throughout and reaches its peak here in (11:15, 25-36; cf. 1Cor.2).  In chapters 7-8 the issue with the old covenant law of sin and death and the new covenant law of the spirit, is realized within the “mind” and fleshing that out so to speak, through a spiritual walking in the newness of that new-covenant life.  In chapters 12 and on, are the practical applications of living out this new-covenant salvation and life which was imminently coming at Christ’s return 13:11-12.  They were not to be conformed to the old-covenant world, but be “transformed” through the new – “by the renewing of” their minds”!  This was and continues to be a “spiritual act of worship” in the new-covenant age (cf. verse 1; Jn.4:24).  Paul shows how this new-covenant life is to be worked out individually within the corporate Body of Christ in verses 3-16.  He then closes with words that refer to Christ’s new-covenant law (the true riches and meaning that were always there within the old) given on the Mount in verses 17-21/cf. Matthew 5.   


The only other new testament passage in which metamorphoo is used is in 2Cor.3:18.  This is likewise a very clear covenantal contrasting section within Paul’s writings.  The Church was in the process of “being transformed” into the likeness of Christ which was connected with the old-covenant veil being lifted from the eyes of their minds and hearts.  This was obviously not a literal or biological transformation process but a spiritual and covenantal one!  The old-covenant glory was “passing away” (2Cor.3:7-11) just as the glory of Moses and Elijah had disappeared in the vision given on the mount!   


The (1Pet. 1:16-19) text is easy to understand.  Peter is now under attack by the Judaizers whom are claiming that he and the other disciples have been teaching Christians “cleverly devised stories” about the second coming (2Pet.1:16a).  Peter’s apologetic against this charge is that he has two other Apostolic witnesses that will bear witness that they got their teaching about the second coming from direct revelation from the Father and the Son on the Mount of Transfiguration–verses 16b-18.  Although Peter does not use the Greek word metamorphoo, he describes the Church going through a similar process, if they pay attention to what he, Jesus, and the Prophets are teaching.  In taking  heed to this instruction, in verse 19a he says it is “…a light shining in a dark place, until the Day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts.  The “day” singular is none other than the “last day” of John’s gospel and the “in that day” (singular) of Lk.17/Mt.24-25. 


Most understand the transfiguration event to be a foreshadowing or prefiguring of the parousia.  I agree!  But the transfiguration event doesn’t have anything to do with: 


  • The passing and burning of the planet earth.
  • Christ floating down on a literal cloud someday.
  • Corpses flying out of their caskets at the end of time to be united with their spirits. 


The essence of the transfiguration is the passing of the Law and the Prophets and the abiding everlasting words of the new covenant found in Jesus – “here Him.”  The vision of the parousia in the transfiguration event gives us a theological picture/description of what the parousia was going to be all about – the passing and fulfilling of the old covenant promises and the brining in and establishing of the new by A.D. 70.  When reformed theologians pay closer attention to men like John Owen and John Lightfoot in their teaching that it was the “elements” of the old covenant law that was dissolved at the coming of the Lord in A.D. 70 (2Pet.3) and not the planet earth, this further harmonizes the time frame and function of what the second coming would be all about as taught in (Mt.16:27-17:10/2Pet.1).   

 9)  “Now when vintage–time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit.”  “Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.” (Mt.21-22)   

Mathison admits that the judgment in the parable of the Vineyard Mt.21:33-45 is referring to A.D. 70 and yet it is the “time” or “season” when “vintage time” drew near.  “Vintage time” is just another metaphor describing the consummation.  There is no reason to disassociate this “vintage time” from John the Baptist describing the kingdom being “at hand” with the metaphor of the “harvest.”  As we have seen John’s harvest is the same as Jesus’ harvest time that would occur at the end of their old-covenant “this age” (Mt.13:40-43).  The Pharisees understood that Jesus’ parable here referred to the kingdom being taken from them in their lifetimes and given to the followers of Jesus described as a nation bearing the fruits thereof (cf.1Pet.2:9).    Because Israel after the flesh did not “bear fruit,” she would be judged at harvest or vintage time.  This same theme is found in the previous context in regard to Israel being likened to a fig tree that did not “bear fruit” (Mt.21:18-21).  Here Jesus teaches the disciples the importance of imprecatory prayers and instructs them that they too will be apart of cursing apostate Israel by being able to throw this mountain into the sea.  In the old testament, Israel was God’s “Holy Mountain” or “Mount Zion.”  But because of her rejection of Christ and Her apostasy she had become like Babylon – a “destroying mountain” in persecuting the righteous Jer.51.  The fulfillment of the disciples and their contemporaries of casting this mountain of apostate Israel into the sea is clearly seen in Revelation whereby the imprecatory prayers of the martyrs are answered “in a little while” and the mountain burning with fire is cast into the sea Rev.6 & 8.[16]  God had made the Church the new Mount Zion, a “threshing sledge” with “sharp teeth” to reduce the apostate old-covenant mountain to “chaff” (Isa.41:15-16; Heb.12).  There is no end to the new-covenant age and Mount Zion cannot be shaken as the old covenant one was in A.D. 70 (Ephs.3:20-21; Heb.12:18-28).           

10) “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” (Mt.22:7)    

“Those murderers” in the context of Jesus’ teaching on the judgment in His parables and the preceding chapter, are those that have killed the “Son” and the new testament  “prophets” He would shortly send to them in Mt.21:37-39, 23:30-36.  Every commentary I consulted sees this passage as being fulfilled with God sending the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem in A.D.70.  The problem with admission from futurists and Mathison in particular, is that in a Jewish wedding, the banquet/feast occurred AFTER the wedding.  Reformed Study Bibles are correct to note that the wedding banquet is “a symbol for the consummation.”[17]  Eschatologically speaking, there can be no wedding feast without the wedding having taken place, and there can be no wedding feast without it being time for the resurrection and judgment to have been fulfilled!  Jesus’ parable of the wedding banquet with the wearing of the righteous / resurrection robes with its attended judgment has as its old testament foundation – the fulfillment of (Isa.25:6-8; 61:10; 62:4-5; Jer.3; Hos.2:19-20).  Jesus clearly tells us that the Messianic feast/wedding/resurrection would occur when Jerusalem was “burned” by the “armies” He would send verse 7.  Inconsistently, most commentaries parallel this judgment, garments being given, and the wedding taking place to be paralleled in subject matter with (Rev.19-22)!  Jesus tells His first century Jewish audience that their old testament promised wedding banquet/feast and resurrection promise of Isa.25:6-8; 26-27 will only come after Israel rejects and kills the messengers He will send to her – the “servants” in the parable, that will be furthered defined in the martyrdom / vindication of the “this generation” of chapter 23.  


Mr. Mathison, how many new testament eschatological consummations can there be associated with the wedding/resurrection feast to occur at the destruction of Jerusalem?  Do you not concede that the feast always followed the wedding and that “the feast is a symbol of the consummation?”  In your view, are we still in the betrothal period awaiting the consummation or has the wedding taken place without the resurrection and judgment?  And since you see the Dispensational teachings of Dwight Pentecost to be a viable option in (Mt.24-25) over the united and exegetical one of our position, do you Wrongly Divide the People of God in creating two different consummative Messianic weddings, judgments, and comings of Christ as Dispensational teaching does?[18] Is the Messianic wedding feast, the judgment, and resurrection of Mt.22, Mt.24-25, & Rev.19-22 different eschatological events spanning thousands of years?  Please explain yourself here.  According to Mathison and Gentry, “Babylon” the “Great” and “Harlot” “City” in Revelation is old-covenant Jerusalem that was burned and judged by the Roman armies God sent in A.D. 70.[19]  There seems to be some creedal reluctance on Mathison’s part in acknowledging that when the second sister of the old-covenant kingdom  (Jerusalem/Harlot/Wife) is judged in A.D. 70, is when the wedding and thus the consummation of the new-covenant Wife/Church takes place.[20]      

The wedding scene with its attended A.D. 70 judgment and resurrection in (Mt.22-25) is teaching the consummation of Israel’s promises not an “inaugurated” period of different wedding promises for the church awaiting another consummation at the end of time!  Through eisegetical slight of hand Mathison invents another “inaugurated” “already” period awaiting another consummative “not yet” eschatology by ignoring that the judgment and resurrection occurs when the wedding/feast is fulfilled and consummated in A.D.70.  Dispensationalism is not the only system WRONGLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH when it comes to teaching two second comings and consummative wedding feasts for the people of God!            

Let’s briefly note the context of Mt.21-22 and Jesus’ reference to Ps.110.  Mathison claims that since there are still “enemies” to the gospel today along with there being evil in the world the prophecies concerning the second coming of Christ could not have been fulfilled by A.D. 70.  And yet even the Pharisees understood in the parables of Jesus that He was not only claiming to be God, but that He was identifying them as the “enemies” of Ps.110 that would experience THE imminent judgment that John the Baptist and Jesus had been teaching all along Mt.3, 13, 21:45, 22:41-45.                  

11)  That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” (Mt.23:35-36)  


Mathison admits, along with dispensational editor Thomas Ice (Controversy, p.152), that there can be no confusion on the phrase “this generation” in (Mt.23:31-36) as being the time when all the martyrs reaching as far back to Abel in Genesis would be vindicated in the judgment of A.D. 70 (WSTTB?, 171).  Of course the question begging that Mathison and none of his reformed or dispensational colleagues NEVER answer, is “HOW were they, along with Daniel lets say (Dan.12:1-13) vindicated in the A.D. 70 judgment without being resurrected at this time?”  How many times do the martyrs experience a harvest/resurrection at the end of an age when the abomination of desolation takes place in A.D. 70, and then somehow experience another harvest/resurrection at the end of the new-covenant age according to the teachings of Gentry, DeMar, Jordan, and other creedal preterists?  Jesus in His teachings throughout the gospels and in the book of Revelation knows of only ONE period in which all the martyrs would be vindicated and raised to life and that would be in the “in a little while” “this generation” time frame Mt.23, Rev.6, 12, 20-22: 


Mt. 23-24




Martyrdom and  sufferings in the past (31)

Martyrdom and  sufferings in the past (v.9)

Martyrdom and  sufferings in the past (vss.5-6)

Martyrdom and  sufferings in the past (20:4)

Satan bound (Mt.12:28) GC being successfully fulfilled – Satan not being permitted to deceive the nations of Israel & Roman world Cols.1:5-6, 23; 2Cor.3-4

White robes given – symbol of victory (vs.10)

War, Kingdom has come, and Satan cast out (vss.7-11)

Satan bound for 1,000 yrs.  GC being successfully fulfilled – So that the nations of Israel & the Roman world would not be deceived 20:2-3

More sufferings to come 23:34; 24:9

More suffering to come (v.11)

More suffering to come (v.12)

More suffering to come (vss.3, 9-10)

Matthew 23 closes with Jesus predicting that their house/temple would be left desolate citing Ps.118:26 whereby He is predicting their judgment will be during one of the feast days in which they sang the Song of Ascent to the coming pilgrims arriving at  Jerusalem, “Blessed in he who comes in the name of the Lord”—verses 38-39.  Josephus confirms for us that the siege of Jerusalem occurred during the feast days in the month Zanthicus in which the Jews would have had to sing this song.[21]  In an act of irony, they would be forced to welcome the Roman Armies coming to destroy Jerusalem and their house!  In one way or another “every knee” did bow and every tongue confessed that Jesus was Lord.  Out of mockery or not, during the siege when the giant white stones were flying over the walls of Jerusalem from the Roman catapults they proclaimed, “The Son is coming.”[22] 

[1] Kenneth Genry, Thomas Ice, The Great Tribulation Past or Future?, p.18, Kregel pub., 1999. Bold emphasis MJS.


[2] John Gill, John Gill’s Espositor, Online Bible Software, Version 2.10.06, 2007 Bible Foundation., emphasis added


[3] John Brown, 3Vols., Banner of Truth Publications, see Vol. 1 pp. 170-174, [1852] 1967.


[4] H.T. Fletcher-Louis, ibid., pp.145, 152.


[5] Michael Green, THIRTY YEARS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, P. 172, Eerdmans pub., 2002.


[6] Herman Ridderbos, The COMING of the KINGDOM, p. 508-509, P&R pub.,1962.


[7] Ed Stevens, email, March 20, 2003.  I disagree very strongly with Ed’s view of a literal rapture occurring before the fall of Jerusalem.  Oddly, his reference for the Christians fleeing to Pella instead of being “raptured” proves his position false as many other arguments do.  But I do thank him his time and thoughts on this text – I think they are excellent. 


[8] Gary DeMar in his books and in his oral debate with Thomas Ice, ibid., asks these kind of questions.


[9] Samuel M. Frost, Exegetical Essays On The Resurrection of the Dead, pp.102-104, Truth Voice Pub., 2004.  Sam comes close to understanding the trap and the O.T. passages in (Deut. 25:5-6; Isa.65) that are under discussion but should have substituted polyandry (a woman having more than one husband) for “polygamy.”  Polygamy (a man having more than one wife) under the OC age was very lawful.  


[10]  Don K. Preston,  Into All The World Then Comes The End, p.33, JaDon ProductionsLLC , 1996. 


[11] John Lightfoot, COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT FROM THE TALMUD AND HEBRAIC A, Vol. 2, p.422, Hendrickson pub. 1979.  See also online version,


[12] ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament


[13] Don Preston states in his tract, Can You Believe Jesus Said This?!?, p. 11-12, “Unless “verily” is being used as an introduction and not for emphasis in Matthew 16:28/Mark 9:1 there is only one place in all the New Testament where the word is used to introduce a new subject [John 10:1].  In all other occurrences,…THE WORD IS ALWAYS USED TO EMPHASIZE A STATEMENT ABOUT A SUBJECT THAT IS ALREADY UNDER CONSIDERATION!  Don was mistaken on (Jn.10:1).  See my comments on (Jn.10:1) and how it applies to the previous context.  Pink says, “The Pharisees’ ‘casting out’ of the poor beggar was, in reality, the Shepherd leading him out from the barren wilderness of Judaism to the green pastures of Christianity.”  Christ in this text is contrasting the false shepherds of the Pharisees just mentioned to Himself.  “Verily” is expanding the teaching of the miracle and bringing forth a deeper meaning to what had just happened.  Arthur W. Pink, EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL of JOHN, 1Vol. unabridged version, p. 511, Zondervan pub., 1975, emphasis added.  James Boice concurs, “What is the context?  Well, obviously, the context is to be found in the preceding chapter in the story of the man born blind and in his mistreatment by those who were the leaders of the people.  I say this is obvious because of the absence of any transitional words at the beginning of chapter 10When John indicates a transition either geographically or in time he usually says something like ‘after these things,’ ‘after this,’ “on the next day,’ or ‘as Jesus passed by.’  Here the words of Jesus flow on immediately after his comments about the Pharisees at the end of chapter 9 and therefore are related to them.”  As soon as we recognize this, we recognize that the thieves and robbers must refer to the false shepherds of Israel (the Pharisees) and that the sheepfold represents Judaism.  The ones who hear Christ’s voice and respond to His call are those of His own who are within Israel, of whom the man born blind is an example.”  James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John An Expositional Commentary Five Volumes In one, Zondervan pub.[emphasis MJS], 629-630, emphasis added.  


[14] Ice, Controversy, ibid., p.87, emphasis added.


[15] Tom Holland, ibid., pp.28, 151, 225. 


[16] Chilton, ibid., pp.238-239. 


[17] Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, p.1583, Zondervan pub., 2003. 


[18] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, pp.206-207, 226-228, Dunham pub., 1958. 


[19] Mathison, ibid., Postmillennialism An Eschatology of Hope, pp.152-153. 


[20] Chapter 19.  Revelation 19:1-6 is a glorious vision of rejoicing in heaven over the judgment of God upon Jerusalem.  In verses 7-9, John reveals that even as the harlot is being judged, the bride of Christ is preparing herself for the wedding feast.  With the destruction of the old temple comes the establishment of the new temple (cf. 1Cor.3:16; 2Cor.6:16; Eph. 2:21).  The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was the final redemptive act in the entire complex of events which inaugurated the present age.” Mathison, Postmillennialism, p.154, ibid.   


[21] I appreciate Don K. Preston sharing this with me via email, 8/27/07. 


[22] Chilton, ibid., p.417-418. 

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Mike Sullivan