The Structure and Sequence of Matthew 24:1-41: Interaction with Evangelical Treatments -- By: David L. Turner
GTJ 10:1 (Spr 89) p. 3
The Structure and Sequence of Matthew 24:1-41:
Interaction with Evangelical Treatments
Evangelical studies of Matthew 24 tend to emphasize either the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem (preterist view), the eschatological return of Christ (futurist view), or some combination of the two (preterist-futurist views). This study evaluates evangelical approaches, stressing recent treatments. It is concluded that a substantial portion of the chapter describes the present age. The A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the eschatological tribulation are theologically linked, with the former event serving as a token or earnest which anticipates the latter. “This generation” (24:34 ) describes Jesus’ contemporaries who lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem. “All these things” (24:34 ) is limited by the contextual fig tree analogy to the events marking the course of the age, particularly the events of A.D. 70.
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“When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matt 24:3 (NIV) thus states the disciples’ question occasioned by Jesus’ solemn words that their beloved temple would be torn down (24:2). His answer to their question has come to be known as the Olivet or Eschatological discourse. The interpretation of this discourse revolves around the two events spoken of by the disciples, the destruction of the temple (A.D. 70) and the coming of Christ at the end of the age. The degree of emphasis given to either of these events determines one’s interpretation of the discourse, since neither Matthew nor the other synoptists supply an explicit outline of Jesus’ answer with the two events neatly divided. Rather, both events are evidently so intricately interwoven that no consensus has been reached in the attempt to sort them out from each other.
This study of evangelical treatments of the structure and sequence of Matt 24:1–42 has isolated four basic views of the passage. The first
GTJ 10:1 (Spr 89) p. 4
view, which will be called the futurist view, stresses the age-ending return of Christ and finds little if anything in these verses which addresses the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 or the current age.1 Another view, which will be called the preterist view, is to a great extent the opposite of the first view. It sees relatively little ...
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