Eschatology Questions in Luke 21

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Justified

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm reading through Luke 21, and I have a couple questions I hoped you guys could answer. The first is in verses 12-19: for it appears to be talking about persecution, however, is this the Great Tribulation? This persecution appears to be talking about Christians, which brings up another question: what is the significance of the foretelling of the Abomination of Desolation (destruction of the temple in AD 70)? This affects Jews no doubt, but how does this relate to the Christians of that day? It just seems strange to me. Right now I lean toward amillennialism, although I am definitely open toward postmillennialism-- if you answer, please let me know what perspective you are answering with.

Additional question: Are some postmillennialists partial-preterists? Do they believe that the tribulation happened in AD 70 or that it has yet to come?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
You have to compare this passage in Luke with the parallel passages in the other Gospels to get the full sense. Together they are the inspired record to us of "the Olivet Discourse".

Both some amillennialists and some postmillennialists see some of the Olivet Discourse as referring to the Destruction of Jerusalem and also to the Eschaton when Christ will return.

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KGP

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm reading through Luke 21, and I have a couple questions I hoped you guys could answer. The first is in verses 12-19: for it appears to be talking about persecution, however, is this the Great Tribulation? This persecution appears to be talking about Christians, which brings up another question: what is the significance of the foretelling of the Abomination of Desolation (destruction of the temple in AD 70)? This affects Jews no doubt, but how does this relate to the Christians of that day? It just seems strange to me. Right now I lean toward amillennialism, although I am definitely open toward postmillennialism-- if you answer, please let me know what perspective you are answering with.

Additional question: Are some postmillennialists partial-preterists? Do they believe that the tribulation happened in AD 70 or that it has yet to come?

I just preached on Matt 24 1-35 today, and I made the argument that all those verses refer to events the within the disciples lives, with the exception of 35, referring to the ongoing ministry of the gospel that is continuing on even today. The Abomination of Desolation (in Lukes account: "the armies surrounding Jerusalem") was foretold as the sign for Jesus followers to flee the city.

Despite all the other distressing events of those days (false messiahs, earthquakes, famines, wars, rumors of wars, etc.), they were not to be alarmed like the rest of the people would inevitably would be, nor were they to follow or listen to the false prophets, who often lead their followers into conflict with roman troops and thus to their death. Instead they were to consider all those things to be merely the beginning of birth pangs.

History records that Cestius, in 66, had destroyed the suburbs of Jerusalem and his troops were almost through the wall to the upper city, when he inexplicably retreated "for no reason in the whole world", as one historian says. The city had been surrounded, but the retreat left time for the believers to flee, which they did in late 66, under the direction of Jesus' cousin Symeon.

Not too long ago I would have preached a futurist sermon on this, but spending time on this board and also just looking at the text of Matthew 24 have really led me to a different stance. I just don't think a futurist interpretation fits the texts in Matt 24.


As for my position, I am not sure where I will end up yet, as I am wading into new waters here. I am in the early stages of leaving my dispensational eschatology behind and am willing to yield to the texts on this issue. I haven't yet arrived at an full fledged alternative, but the message I preached today was Amil, as I believe the proper treatment of Matt 24 will take you to there. I'll keep sticking to the texts and we'll see where I end up :)

Although I read some Sam Dawson full-preterist writings not long ago, and I wouldn't touch full preterism with a 10 foot pole. Straight heresy.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
In explicitly saying that His Second Advent will be visible like lightning from one end of the heaven to the other (v.27), our Lord Himself denies "Hyper-Preterism" in this very passage. He indicates in this verse and the preceeding verses that He is not returning to Earth in A.D.70, but this must await a later time.

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Galilean

Puritan Board Freshman
To answer your question; Postmillennialists are usually orthodox (partial) preterists. The Great Tribulation spoken of in the Olivet Discourse is also mentioned by St. John in Revelation and is stated to be taking place at the time of his writing the apocalypse. "I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 1:9).
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Yes.

I think traditionally postmils, while recognising the references to the destruction of Jerusalem in the Oliver Discourse and Revelation have generally been of a more historicist bent. See e.g. Patrick Fairbairn's, "The Interpretation of Prophecy" or James Madison MacDonald's "A Key to the Book of Revelation" (highly recommended by Charles Hodge in his "Systematic Theology" )

The Reconstructionists have in recent decades been popularising postmillennialism, and most have taken a much more strongly preterist line, which is possibly the wrong direction in which to go, although Rushdoony was historicist AFAIAA.

Chilton was very preterist. Bahnsen saw Babylon as referring to pagan Rome, and thus almost everything up until Revelation 19 as referring to the period up to the fifth century. Gentry goes further in his preterism and sees Babylon as old Jerusalem, thus virtually everything up to chapter 19 is fulfilled in the first century!

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Justified

Puritan Board Sophomore
So do you guys think that the Great Tribulation referred to Christians in or around Jerusalem?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Evan,

I speak from a classic Amillennial point of view.

Many commentators have pointed out that in the Olivet Discourse there is a seamless transition from the horrors of Jerusalem’s fall to the horrors of a final tribulation for the saints at the very end of time, though not all commentators agree (a new Amil book, Kingdom Come, by Sam Storms, does not think the end of the age tribulation is specifically spoken of by Jesus here, though he does say, “the events of A.D. 33-70 are a microcosmic foreshadowing of what happens on a macrocosmic scale throughout the present age” p. 222). And Storms does envision a final battle (Armageddon) where the unregenerate of the world, wickedly impassioned by Satan, mount a final assault on the world-wide “camp of the saints”, in the midst of which the Lord returns in fury to avenge His beloved.

Commenting (in New Testament Commentary, ISBN 978-0801026065) on Matt 24:21,22 William Hendriksen says (wrapping up his thoughts on verses 19 and 20),

From what immediately follows it is evident once again that for Jesus the transition from the second to the third application of Daniel’s prediction was as easy as that from the first (the tribulation experienced by God’s people during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes) to the second (the distress in connection with the fall of Jerusalem): 21, 22 . . . for then there shall be great tribulation, such as there has never been since the beginning of the world until now, and as there shall never be again. And if those days were not cut short no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.

As to the “great tribulation” to which Jesus here refers, care should be exercised. Rev. 7:14 also speaks about a “great tribulation.” Are these two the same? The answer is: they are not. As the context in Rev. 7 indicates, the word is used there in a far more general sense. Because of his faith every genuine child of God experiences tribulation during his life on earth. See John 16:33; cf. Rom. 8:18; II Cor. 4:17; II Tim 3:12. But Jesus is here speaking about a tribulation that will characterize “those days,” a tribulation such that has never been and never again shall be, a very brief period of dire distress that shall occur immediately before his return (see verses 29-31). It is the period mentioned also in Rev. 11:7-9; 20:3b, 7-9a. For the sake of God’s chosen ones—see N.T.C. on Eph. 1:4—in order that all might not have to die a violent death, the days of this final tribulation shall be cut short. Herein, too, the love of God is made manifest. It should hardly be necessary to add that justice is not done to the concept of this tribulation, which immediately precedes “the end” of the world’s history and which surpasses any other distress in its intensity, if it is referred solely to the sorrows experienced during the fall of Jerusalem. (pp. 859, 860)​

For more of my thoughts on this see this collection of posts / threads on the general topic of Eschatology.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
So do you guys think that the Great Tribulation referred to Christians in or around Jerusalem?

I believe it primarily refers to the tribulation experienced by the Jewish nation in A.D. 66-70 because of their apostasy, which Christian people, particularly those at Jerusalem were caught up in. Many Christians escaped from death in the Roman conquest and destruction of Jerusalem, because of Christ's warnings in the Olivet Discourse - "let the reader understand".

Since the passage is also about the Second Advent of Christ, and since as postmillennialists see a falling away at the end of the age in line with what we are told in Revelation 20 about the little season of Satan, there will no doubt be tribulation for God's people then, which this passage may anticipate.

I also agree with Steve, of course, that Christians experience tribulation (trouble) , some more, some less, in this age, and that many of the passages speaking of tribulation or "great tribulation" are not necessarily referring to a specific event.

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Justified

Puritan Board Sophomore
Wow. Thanks again for all it posts. It is very interesting- and edifying as well- to hear all of your guys' opinions about the end times. I'll definitely mull it over. Currently I'm torn between post and amil. I see a clear case for each, although, it is sometimes hard to wrap your mind around them with all the different variants of each.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
"End times", like "church age" is a sort of Dispensational jargon, that can be innocently used but maybe is a bit misleading.

We have been in the last days since the first century and may be in the last days for another 2,000 years or more or less.

The talk of being in the end times in Dispensational circles is usually associated with the idea that God's eschatalogical clock has started ticking, maybe because some of the Jews have returned to the land of Israel, and a completely futuristic fulfilment of the Book of Revelation is underway.

Some of these guys seem to be on tenterhooks regarding every news bulletin and headline regarding international affairs, particarly things to do with Israel, the Middle East and Russia.


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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
It's important to keep in mind that prophecy can have both a proximate fulfillment and a longer-term fulfillment. Believers were, no doubt, warned about the destruction of Jerusalem as well as the persecution at the hand of the Romans in other places. At the same time, the prophecy refers to the tribulation the church experiences throughout these last days. I found Sinclair Ferguson's series on Revelation helpful in seeing tribulation as a difficulty that the church will encounter throughout the ages coupled to the promise that God will look after his people. I moved from a post-millennial position over to a amillennial position during the past five years or so.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The Old Testament background to this Discourse indicates that the kingdom of God would be established when God intervened to save Israel from the nations which surrounded her. Luke's account of the discourse especially picks up on this point. The days of vengeance were necessary to fulfil "all things which are written," Luke 21:22. The kingdom drawing nigh is explicitly brought out in Luke 21:31. The key to its interpretation lies in the broader theme that the kingdom of God has come in the person of Jesus, Luke 17:21, and that all thing which are written are fulfilled in and by Him, Luke 24:44. He is the Saviour of Israel who has borne the vengeance of God to redeem Israel. The chapters following the Discourse of chapter 21 provide a narrative description of these things.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It's important to keep in mind that prophecy can have both a proximate fulfillment and a longer-term fulfillment. Believers were, no doubt, warned about the destruction of Jerusalem as well as the persecution at the hand of the Romans in other places. At the same time, the prophecy refers to the tribulation the church experiences throughout these last days. I found Sinclair Ferguson's series on Revelation helpful in seeing tribulation as a difficulty that the church will encounter throughout the ages coupled to the promise that God will look after his people. I moved from a post-millennial position over to a amillennial position during the past five years or so.

The postmil position is perfectly compatible with the idea of the interadventual age being one of tribulation for God's people unless you insist that Christians must all experience the specific kind of tribulation of statist persecution and war as part of their tribulation.

Since many true Christians have not had this as part of their experience, I do not see why it is held to be essential to the tribulation of this age that it must continue unabated throughout the interadventual period.

Postmillennialists do not deny that even if the whole earth was converted to Christ, there would still be tribulation for the Christian, including sin and its consequences, including chastisement, ill health and death.

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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I mentioned my eschatology at the request of the OP who I believe was trying to see if our perspective might have an effect upon how we interpret the Luke text. It did not appear that anyone else had brought in the multiple perspectives (not interpretation, but vantage point) that any given prophecy may have.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
No. That's OK, Jean. I just wanted to point out in connection with what you said latterly, how postmils don't see a problem with ongoing tribulation throughout this era, although sometimes e.g. statist persecution and war are not forms of trouble that afflict the believer.

We will never be free of tribulation in this life even if the Church grows, flourishes and fills the whole Earth and displaces Christ's enemies under Him.

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