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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Answer to a Friend On Eschatological Questions About Mt 10:23 & Mt 26:64

Answer To A Friend On Eschatological Questions About Mt 10.23 & Mt 26.64 
By: Lazarus Conley

Recently a friend I'll write as D.W. asked me an eschatological question. This is the response I felt would be adequate. I hope it assists others as well.

My friend asks how I would respond to full preterist when they try and use Matthew 10:23 and Matthew 26:64.

Jesus told His Apostles in Matthew 10:23, “You will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.” How would you handle that passage of Scripture?

From an honest perspective, Matthew 10:23 I would say can be interpreted a few ways. For example, one could say maybe that it is referring a bit about the destruction of Jerusalem to some extent. If it was then this would not contradict the Patristics as they all say that the destruction of Jerusalem was a type and prefiguring event of what is to come in the future when the Christ in His 2nd Coming comes in a visible, physical bodily event.

Some thoughts though... If “before the Son of Man comes” meant that the Parousia is expected before the disciples even begin the Gentile mission, one can only wonder at the fidelity with which the Church preserved all these sayings attributed to Jesus if they were in such manifest contradiction with the actual course of events. Obviously, the saying was not and has not been understood in that sense as a result; so I think while it could possibly be probable that it could be a reference to the Jewish Roman War of AD66-70 I sort of doubt this to be the case.

When reading though, Christ is trying to share with them that the persecution that they’ll suffer must not cause them to quit but to move forward with their called mission. This passage is very likely much more simpler than we make it out to be thanks to the lens of being a former full preterist. It is highly likely all Jesus is saying is that before the disciples could visit all the cities of Palestine, He would rejoin them, thus ending the hostilities they’d encounter sooner.

“But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another: for verily I say unto you, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man comes” (Matthew 10:23).

We have the writings of Theophylact of Ochrid who says of it that: The fearful things spoken of above, such as "They will hand you over" and "You will be hated," concerned those things which would take place after the Ascension. What is spoken of now concerns that which would take place before the Cross. "You will not be persecuted through all the cities of Israel before I shall come to you." He commands them to flee from their persecutors. For it is of the devil for a man to throw himself into manifest danger and thus become the cause of condemnation to those who would slay him and the detriment of those whom he was about to benefit by his preaching. "Till the Son of Man be come" — do not understand by this the second coming, but rather, His drawing together with them and the comfort that He would give them yet before the Cross. For when they had been sent out and had preached, they again returned to Christ and were together with Him.

Another take on it is St. John Chrysostom who states: But that they should not say, What then if we fly from persecution, and again they cast us out thence whither we have fled? To remove this fear, He says, "Verily, I say unto you, ye shall not have completed” that is, yes hall not have made the circuit of Palestine and return to Me, before I shall take you to Me.

St. John Chrysostom also states: Having spoken of those fearful and horrible things, enough to melt very adamant, which after His cross, and resurrection, and assumption, were to befall them, He directs again His discourse to what was of more tranquil character, allowing those whom He is training to recover breath, and affording them full security. For He did not at all command them, when persecuted, to close with the enemy, but to fly. That is, it being so far but a beginning, and a prelude, He gave His discourse a very condescending turn. For not now of the ensuing persecutions is He speaking, but of those before the cross and the passion. And this He showed by saying, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come. That is, lest they should say, What then, if when persecuted we flee, and there again they overtake us, and drive us out?— to destroy this fear, He says, You shall not have gone round Palestine first, but I will straightway come upon you.

And see how here again He does not away with the terrors, but stands by them in their perils. For He said not, I will snatch you out, and will put an end to the persecutions; but what? You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come. Yea, for it sufficed for their consolation, simply to see Him.

But do thou observe, I pray you, how He does not on every occasion leave all to grace, but requires something also to be contributed on their part. For if you fear, says He, flee, for this He signified by saying, flee ye, and fear not. Matthew 10:26 And He did not command them to flee at first, but when persecuted to withdraw; neither is it a great distance that He allows them, but so much as to go about the cities of Israel.

Then again, He trains them for another branch of self-command; first, casting out all care for their food: secondly, all fear of their perils; and now, that of calumny. Since from that first anxiety He freed them, by saying, The workman is worthy of his hire, Matthew 10:10 and by signifying that many would receive them; and from their distress about their dangers, by saying, Take no thought how or what you shall speak, and, He that endures unto the end, the same shall be saved.

But since withal it was likely that they should also bring upon themselves an evil report, which to many seems harder to bear than all; see whence He comforts them even in this case, deriving the encouragement from Himself, and from all that had been said touching Himself; to which nothing else was equal. For as He said in that other place, You shall be hated of all men, and added, for my name's sake, so also here. And in another way He mitigates it, joining a fresh topic to that former. What kind of one then is it?

This would be my answer to Matthew 10:26. Now on to Matthew 26:64 my friend asks how to tackle this with full preterist because "In Matthew 26:64 Jesus told the High Priest that He would see Jesus coming. 

(Matthew 26:64) Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you,hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

My friend rightfully does point out that Christ specifically talks to the High Priest here and that the High Priest would witness whatever Christ is speaking of here. Is it the 2nd Coming? No.

In that verse Jesus is speaking of the process of His exaltation to the right hand of the Father that in a sense begins with His humiliation and His death. The Jewish leaders would soon “see” in the resurrection reports of the soldiers (28:11-15) and Stephen’s eyewitness testimony of the majesty of the exalter Christ (Acts 7:56) that the One whom they’d killed was the Messiah that He’d claimed to be.

You’ll notice in Matthew 26:64-66 Jesus quotes from Ps 109 and Dan 7:13 (LXX both), where he confesses He’s the Messiah, both fully God and fully man., for only a Divine One could sit at the right hand of the power, sharing authority with the Father and have equality with the Father which if a mere man claims this is punishable by death (Lev 24:16). Obviously Christ is no mere man but also God so this isn’t blasphemy for Jesus to do this but to them who mistake Him for someone else they don’t and this leads to His crucifixion.

St. Ambrose says on this: For as the Father is power, so too, the Son is power, and the Holy Spirit is power. Of the Son you’ve read that Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). We read too that the Father is power as it’s written (quotes Mt 26:64). He certainly named the Father power, at Whose right the Son sits, as you read, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou at my right … [Ps 109:1 LXX). “And the Lord Himself named the Holy Spirit power, when He said, “Ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirt is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). [Of the Holy Spirit. Bk. 2 Ch 1(19) in Nicene 2nd Sermon X:117).

Blessed Theophlyact of Ochrid says also of this: He is speaking to them from the prophecy of Daniel who said, "I saw one coming as the Son of Man upon the clouds" (Daniel 7:13). For since they thought that He was deluded, as He appeared to them in humble form, He said, "You shall see Me then coming in power and seated with the Father." "Power" here means that of the Father, and the Son of Man will be coming not from earth but from heaven.

Theo of Ochrid: Truly these were false witnesses. For Christ had not said, "I am able to destroy," but "You shall destroy." And He had not said, "the temple of God," but "this temple," that is, "My Body." And again, He had not said, "I shall build," but "I shall raise." So they were clearly false witnesses, the Lord having said one thing while they reported that He had said another. Jesus therefore kept silent, knowing that their tribunal was unlawful. For how would a verbal defense persuade those whom signs had not persuaded? The high priest asks the question, wanting to induce Him to blaspheme; so that if He should say, "I am the Son of God," He might be condemned as a blasphemer, but if He should deny it, the High priest would have Him as a witness against Himself. But the Lord caught those sophists in their own cunning, and answers, "Thou hast said," meaning, "Your mouth has confessed that I am the Son of God."

I hope and pray this assists a little bit. These are definitely not easy passages to interpret at all when you are dealing with some phrasologies that are becoming more and more lost to most people today but that is my take on it. I don't see anything about AD70 or the 2nd Coming in the latter verse but if there is anything there about AD70 in Matthew 10:23 it isn’t the 2nd Coming and is just the prefiguring event that took place when Jerusalem was destroyed. There would be too many difficulties and inconsistencies and problems if Christ came back then. 


  1. Great responses.....showing that 70 AD does not have to be "read into" Matthew 10.23. My own understanding, very close to this, is that his "coming" (erchomai in Greek Daniel - LXX) and in Mt 10.23 (erchomai) is his "coming" to the father upon (epi) the clouds of heaven, being thus "with them" by the Spirit - not leaving them as oprhans - but being with them in power as they faced the second leg of their message - needing all the power they could get to face the tribulations. Thus, this same promise is to believers today - he is "with us", and "empowers" our faith while being "in the world" of hostility and rebellious unbelief...until he comes again, raises the dead, restores all things and ushers in New Heavens and New Earth.

    1. yup amen to that! When one kicks AD70 goggles off to the curb the Scriptures light up and become way more interesting! :)

    2. Let’s see.... when one stops exegetical work on the text, because the obvious meaning of Ad 70 then, Fill it in with quotes of the Fathers, you know when I didn’t know what I was taking about I just bulk filled in whole paragraphs of what others thought.

    3. @ Mr. Conley You’re a first semester Bible student correct? Please don’t tell me you’re not. This would be completely embarrassing for both of us.


Gospel of John - Chapters 16-21 Notes

Chapter 16 16:1-4 [Scripture and Tradition go hand in hand and agree with one another saying the same thing] The Church will be persecuted. ...