Christ’s Second Coming, Will it be Pre-millennial? | Commentary Critical and Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible | Excerpts from Matthew | Chronological Table of the Parables of Christ | Chronological Table of the Miracles of Christ
That those words point ultimately to the personal advent of Christ and the final judgment, I have not the least doubt. But the first question ought to be, What is the direct and primary sense of the prophecy?
“Those who have not directed their attention to prophetic language will be startled if I answer, The coming of the Lord here announced is his coming in judgment against Jerusalem – to destroy itself and its temple, and with them the peculiar standing and privileges of the Jews as the visible Church of God..”
Dividing Line Between Destruction of Jerusalem and General Judgment – Double-Sense Method Which Sees Primary and Ultimate Meaning in Matthew 24
(On Joel 2:28-32)
“The apostle Peter, quoting the whole of this passage, expressly declares that the first and last parts of it were fulfilled at the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit, and the conversions immediately following it. Evident therefore it is that the ‘great and terrible day of the Lord’ – bound up with these events as part of one and the same great chapter of church history – is no other, according to inspiration itself, than the day of Jerusalem’s judicial destruction’ (p. 438)
(On Date of Composition for Matthew)
“That it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem is equally certain; for, when he reports our Lord’s prophecy of that awful event, on coming to the warning about “the abomination of desolation” which they should “see standing in the holy place,” he interposes (contrary to his invariable practice, which is to relate without remark) a call to his reader to read intelligently — “Whoso readeth, let him understand” (Matt. xxiv. 15) — a call to attend to the divine signal for flight, which could be intended only for those who lived before the event.” (Hug, page 316)” (Gospel According to Matthew, intro)
(On Matthew 23:36)
“36. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation–As it was only in the last generation of them that “the iniquity of the Amorites was full” (Ge 15:16), and then the abominations of ages were at once completely and awfully avenged, so the iniquity of Israel was allowed to accumulate from age to age till in that generation it came to the full, and the whole collected vengeance of heaven broke at once over its devoted head.” (in loc.)
(On Matthew 24:15)
“That the abomination of desolation here alluded to was intended to point to the Roman ensigns, as the symbols of an idolatrous and so unclean Pagan power, may be gathered by comparing what Luke says in the corresponding verse (xxi 20); and the commentators are agreed on it.” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary, vol. 3 p. 192)
(On Matthew 24:30 ; Nature of Christ’s Return)
“… What is the direct and primary sense of the prophecy? Those who have not directed their attention to prophetic language will be startled if I answer, The coming of the Lord here announced is his coming in judgment against Jerusalem – to destroy itself and its temple, and with them the peculiar standing and privileges of the Jews as the visible Church of God, and set up ‘the kingdom of heaven’ (or gospel kingdom) in a manner more palpable and free than could be done while Jerusalem was yet standing. I say this application of the words, as their direct and primary sense, will probably startle those unacquainted with the prophetic style. But all hesitation on the subject will cease if we will but allow the Scripture to be its own interpreter” (p. 434).
(On Matthew 24:34 ; Double Fulfillment Theory)
” ‘Many attempts,’ says Dr. Urwick, ‘have been made to anatomize this prophecy, and exhibit separately the parts which relate to the invasion of Jerusalem by Titus, and the parts which regard the judgment of the world at the last day. I have not met with any thing satisfactory in this way. If any man could have done it well, Bishop Horsley was the man: he had learning, ingenuity, power, and determination enough for it. Yet one cannot read the sermon in which he attempts to separate the prophecy of the ‘coming’ from the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, without feeling that a giant is grappling with a difficulty he cannot master. The statement of our Lord, ‘Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till these things be fulfilled’ puts it, I think, beyond question, that the whole range of the prediction was to have an accomplishment before the then race of human beings should all have died from the face of the earth “(David Brown, p. 441).
(On Matthew 24:34 ; ‘Generation Means Race’ Theory)
“Does not this tell us plainly as words could do it, that the whole prophecy was meant to apply to the destruction of Jerusalem? There is but one way of setting this aside, but how forced it is, must, I think, appear to every unbiased mind. It is by translating, not ‘this generation,’ …but ‘this nation shall not pass away:” in other words, the Jewish nation shall survive all the things here predicted! Nothing but some fancied necessity, arising out of their view of the prophecy, could have led so many sensible men to put this gloss upon our Lord’s words. Only try the effect of it upon the perfectly parallel announcement in the previous chapter: ‘Fill ye up them the measure of your fathers.. Wherefore, behold, I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city… that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation‘ … Matt. xxiii. 32, 34-36). Does not the Lord here mean the then existing generation of the Israelites? Beyond all question he does; and if so, what can be plainer than that this is his meaning in the passage before us? (p. 435)
(On Mark 13:2)
“one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down–Titus ordered the whole city and temple to be demolished [JOSEPHUS, Wars of the Jews, 7.1.1]; Eleazar wished they had all died before seeing that holy city destroyed by enemies’ hands, and before the temple was so profanely dug up [Wars of the Jews, 7.8.7].” (in loc.)
(On Mark 13:8)
“8. These are the beginnings of sorrows–“of travail-pangs,” to which heavy calamities are compared. (See Jer 4:31, &c.). The annals of TACITUS tell us how the Roman world was convulsed, before the destruction of Jerusalem, by rival claimants of the imperial purple.” (in loc.)
(On Mark 13:14)
“(let him that readeth understand)–readeth that prophecy. That “the abomination of desolation” here alluded to was intended to point to the Roman ensigns, as the symbols of an idolatrous, and so unclean pagan power, may be gathered by comparing what Luke says in the corresponding verse (Lu 21:20); and commentators are agreed on it.” (in loc.)
“Then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains–The ecclesiastical historian, EUSEBIUS, early in the fourth century, tells us that the Christians fled to Pella, at the northern extremity of Perea, being “prophetically directed”–perhaps by some prophetic intimation more explicit than this, which would be their chart–and that thus they escaped the predicted calamities by which the nation was overwhelmed. “
(On Mark 13:19)
“19. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be–Such language is not unusual in the Old Testament with reference to tremendous calamities. But it is matter of literal fact that there was crowded into the period of the Jewish war an amount and complication of suffering perhaps unparalleled; as the narrative of JOSEPHUS, examined closely and arranged under different heads, would show.” (in loc.)
(On Mark 13:21)
“21. And then, if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo he is there; believe him not–So Lu 17:23. No one can read JOSEPHUS’ account of what took place before the destruction of Jerusalem without seeing how strikingly this was fulfilled. ” (in loc.)
(On Mark 13:26)
“26. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory–In Mt 24:30, this is given most fully: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man,” &c. That this language finds its highest interpretation in the Second Personal Coming of Christ, is most certain. But the question is, whether that be the primary sense of it as it stands here? Now if the reader will turn to Da 7:13,14, and connect with it the preceding verses, he will find, we think, the true key to our Lord’s meaning here. There the powers that oppressed the Church–symbolized by rapacious wild beasts–are summoned to the bar of the Great God, who as the Ancient of days seats Himself, with His assessors, on a burning Throne: thousand thousands ministering to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before Him. “The judgment is set, and the books are opened.” Who that is guided by the mere words would doubt that this is a description of the Final Judgment? And yet nothing is clearer than that it is not, but a description of a vast temporal judgment, upon organized bodies of men, for their incurable hostility to the kingdom of God upon earth. Well, after the doom of these has been pronounced and executed, and room thus prepared for the unobstructed development of the kingdom of God over the earth, what follows? “I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like THE SON OF MAN came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they [the angelic attendants] brought Him near before Him.” For what purpose? To receive investiture in the kingdom, which, as Messiah, of right belonged to Him. Accordingly, it is added, “And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Comparing this with our Lord’s words, He seems to us, by “the Son of man [on which phrase, see on Joh 1:51] coming in the clouds with great power and glory,” to mean, that when judicial vengeance shall once have been executed upon Jerusalem, and the ground thus cleared for the unobstructed establishment of His own kingdom, His true regal claims and rights would be visibly and gloriously asserted and manifested. See on Lu 9:28 (with its parallels in Mt 17:1 Mr 9:2), in which nearly the same language is employed, and where it can hardly be understood of anything else than the full and free establishment of the kingdom of Christ on the destruction of Jerusalem. But what is that “sign of the Son of man in heaven?” Interpreters are not agreed. But as before Christ came to destroy Jerusalem some appalling portents were seen in the air, so before His Personal appearing it is likely that something analogous will be witnessed, though of what nature it would be vain to conjecture.” (in loc.)
(On Mark 13:27)
27. And then shall he send his angels–“with a great sound of a trumpet” (Mt 24:31).
and shall gather together his elect, &c.–As the tribes of Israel were anciently gathered together by sound of trumpet (Ex 19:13,16,19 Le 23:24 Ps 81:3-5), so any mighty gathering of God’s people, by divine command, is represented as collected by sound of trumpet (Isa 27:13; compare Re 11:15); and the ministry of angels, employed in all the great operations of Providence, is here held forth as the agency by which the present assembling of the elect is to be accomplished. LIGHTFOOT thus explains it: “When Jerusalem shall be reduced to ashes, and that wicked nation cut off and rejected, then shall the Son of man send His ministers with the trumpet of the Gospel, and they shall gather His elect of the several nations, from the four corners of heaven: so that God shall not want a Church, although that ancient people of His be rejected and cast off: but that ancient Jewish Church being destroyed, a new Church shall be called out of the Gentiles.” But though something like this appears to be the primary sense of the verse, in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem, no one can fail to see that the language swells beyond any gathering of a human family into a Church upon earth, and forces the thoughts onward to that gathering of the Church “at the last trump,” to meet the Lord in the air, which is to wind up the present scene. Still, this is not, in our judgment, the direct subject of the prediction; for Mr 13:28 limits the whole prediction to the generation then existing.” (in loc.)
(On Mark 13:30)
30. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass fill all these things be done–or “fulfilled” (Mt 24:34 Lu 21:32). Whether we take this to mean that the whole would be fulfilled within the limits of the generation then current, or, according to a usual way of speaking, that the generation then existing would not pass away without seeing a begun fulfilment of this prediction, the facts entirely correspond. For either the whole was fulfilled in the destruction accomplished by Titus, as many think; or, if we stretch it out, according to others, till the thorough dispersion of the Jews a little later, under Adrian, every requirement of our Lord’s words seems to be met.” (in loc.)
“Christ’s Second Coming, Will It Be Premillennial?”
“What is the direct and primary sense of the prophecy? Those who have not directed their attention to prophetic language will be startled if I answer, The coming of the Lord here announced is his coming in judgment against Jerusalem – to destroy itself and its temple, and with them the peculiar standing and privileges of the Jews as the visible Church of God, and set up ‘the kingdom of heaven’ (or gospel kingdom) in a manner more palpable and free than could be done while Jerusalem was yet standing. I say this application of the words, as their direct and primary sense, will probably startle those unacquainted with the prophetic style. But all hesitation on the subject will cease if we will but allow the Scripture to be its own interpreter. And,
1. Our Lord decides the sense of his own words, when he says of this entire prophecy, almost immediately after the words quoted, “Verily I say unto you, THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS AWAY TILL ALL THESE THINGS BE FULFILLED.”
— (Matt. xxiv. 34.) Does not this tell us plainly as words could do it, that the whole prophecy was meant to apply to the destruction of Jerusalem? There is but one way of setting this aside, but how forced it is, must, I think, appear to every unbiased mind. It is by translating, not “this generation,”, but “this nation shall not pass away;” in other words, the Jewish nation shall survive all the things here predicted! Nothing but some fancied necessity, arising out of their view of the prophecy, could have led so many sensible men to put this gloss upon our Lord’s words. Only try the effect of it upon the perfectly parallel announcement in the previous chapter: ‘Fill ye up them the measure of your fathers.. Wherefore, behold, I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matt. xxiii. 32, 34-36). Does not the Lord here mean the then existing generation of the Israelites? Beyond all question he does; and if so, what can be plainer than that this is his meaning in the passage before us?” In this case, the coming of the Lord here announced is just his figurative coming to “judge” and destroy Jerusalem, with all the judicial consequences of that coming.
2. Language equally strong with that of this prophecy is not only used in a figurative sense, and in a great variety of cases — showing that the figurative sense is a fixed and recognized sense in the prophetic style — but it is expressly applied to this very event of the destruction of Jerusalem, where we have inspired authority for so understanding it.” (p. 434-6)
“I think it must now be allowed, that if it can be shown that our Lord meant nothing else primarily or immediately but the judicial overthrow of Jerusalem, there is nothing in th emere grandeur and strength of his language to prevent us taking that view of it. Now, I have shown, from our Lord’s own solemn declaration, that the generation then existing were to witness the fulfilment of the whole ; and I have only now further to show that in other prophecies, which we have inspired authority for applying to the destruction of Jerusalem, the same prophetic style is employed as in this prophecy.” (p. 437)
“the great and dreadful day of the Lord” can be no other than what Joel described in identical terms — the day of Jerusalem’s judicial destruction. When it is said, “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple — but who may abide the day of his coming?” the prophet refers indeed to Christ’s first coming, but stretches it onwards till after his ascension, and the awful reckoning which he made with the Jewish nation and Church for rejecting him, by the destruction of their whole state through the instrumentality of the Romans.”
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Review of Brown’s Christ’s Second Coming: Will it be Premillennial? “This theory Mr. Brown undertakes to overthrow ï¿½that Christï¿½s second corning will be for the purpose of closing the dispensation of grace by the final judgment; and that this corning will not be till after the triumph of Christianity in the earth by the present economyï¿½the ministration of thie Spirit, the truth, and the church, directed and controlled by Christ on his mediatorial throne.”
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Introduction to 1990 reprint
“It is with great pleasure that I avail myself of the opportunity to write a forward to ….David Brown’s “Christ’s Second Coming: Will It Be Premillennial?”…this work is widely regarded as ‘a classic’….
“Lest it be misunderstood by my endorsement of Brown, I would like to point out on major area of disagreement. This has very little to do with the millennial question, ironic as it may first appear. Brown’s approach to Revelation is along the lines of historicism. That is, he sees the prophecies of Revelation as stretching out over the long ages of history. This, of course, helps explain his latter day view of the millennium mentioned above (in that Revelation 20 occurs after Revelation 6-19). My interpretive approach to Revelation, as is evident in each of my three most recent works is that of Preterism. That is, I believe that the judgment chapters of Revelation (Chs. 6- 19) focus almost exclusively on the events associated with the first imperial persecution of Christianity (AD. 64-68), the Roman Civil Wars (AD 68-69), and the destruction of the Temple and Israel (AD. 67- 70).
“Nevertheless, the differences between Brown’s historicist approach to Revelation and my preteristic approach has absolutely no bearing on the postmillennial question. Either approach to Revelation could be rejected and postmillennialism would still remain. Postmillennialism is not dependent upon the book on Revelation, whereas premillennialism and dispensationalism very much are….
“Clearly Brown’s historicism allows a postmillennial dominion for Christ in earth’s history before His Second Advent. So does my preteristic view. Despite the confusion in the minds of some, the issues just mentioned are in two wholly different arenas of debate. The postmillennial question involves a locus of theology: eschatology; the preteristic verses the historicist approach to Revelation involves an interpretive methodology — to one particular book of the Bible. In other words, I would have desired more access to preterism by Brown that he offers (he does approach a number of prophetic passages as preteristically relevant to the destruction of Jerusalem).”
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- 23 Aug 2003
Did the judgment of the world occur in AD 70? No. The natural judgment of the ancient world that occurred on the day of the universal flood was a type of the spiritual judgment of the post-flood world that occurred on the day of Christ’s parousia. Because the flood occurred on the last day of a 100-year period (the “generation” referred to in Gen. 7:1), Christ’s parousia also occurred on the last day (Mt. 24:36) of a 100-year period (the “generation” referred to in Mt. 24:34). But the only way that the latter, fulfillment 100 years could have ended in autumn of AD 70 would have been if Christ’s birth had occurred in autumn of 31 BC — which, of course, it didn’t. The answer is that the latter 100 years were the complete first century (adjusting for the four-year error in our calendar).