Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End Part IV: How Near Is The Lord’s Return? -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 129:513 (Jan 1972)
Article: Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End Part IV: How Near Is The Lord’s Return?
Author: John F. Walvoord

Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End
Part IV:
How Near Is The Lord’s Return?

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President, Dallas Theological Seminary, Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra.]

In the opening portion of Matthew 24, our Lord answered the questions which had been raised by His disciples concerning the end of the age and His own coming into His kingdom. In Matthew 24:4–14 He dealt first of all with general signs which would characterize the age as a whole. Then in Matthew 24:15–28 revelation was given of the particular signs of the great tribulation which would begin three and one-half years before His second coming. The great tribulation was to be climaxed by the second coming of Christ, the glorious event when the heavens would break forth with the glory of God and Jesus Christ would return in power and glory to the earth.

Problems of Interpretation

Having completed the answers to the questions, and having expounded the doctrine concerning the end of the age, Christ proceeds to illustration and application. It would seem at first glance that illustration and application would not present too many problems of interpretation, and yet in this passage, rather strangely, commentators who are quite similar in their points of view in prophecy, have differed considerably in their exposition of this last portion of Matthew 24. Some special problems of interpretation must be taken into consideration in the study of this chapter .

In brief, the problem is whether these illustrations are interpretations of the preceding prophecies or whether they are applications. In a word, do they expound the subject of the second coming or is

this application to us who live in the present age? Students of the Bible agree that any passage in addition to its primary interpretation has other applications. The Old Testament, for instance, has application to our generation even though its primary revelation was to those who first received it.

This problem is illustrated in the parable of the fig tree opening the section. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matt 24:32–33). The most popular interpretation of this passage considers the fig tree as a type or illustration of Israel. With this in view, they poi...

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