What is the sign of the Parousia? (Mt 24:3-24:3)

“When Jesus was sitting

On the Mount of Olives,

The disciples

Came to him privately.

They said.

‘Tell us!

When will this be?

What will be the sign

Of your coming?

What will be the sign

Of the end of the age?’”

 

Καθημένου δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ ὄρους τῶν Ἐλαιῶν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ κατ’ ἰδίαν λέγοντες Εἰπὲ ἡμῖν, πότε ταῦτα ἔσται, καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον τῆς σῆς παρουσίας καὶ συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος;

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:3-4, but it was the named big four apostles, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, who were speaking privately with Jesus, not some disciples.  In Luke, chapter 21:7, there is only the vague “they” speaking with Jesus.  Only Matthew, here brought up the question of the Parousia (παρουσία) or second coming of Jesus.  Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives (Καθημένου δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ ὄρους τῶν Ἐλαιῶν), just east of Jerusalem where he could see the Jerusalem Temple.  Here, these unnamed disciples came to Jesus privately (προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ κατ’ ἰδίαν).  They wanted to know when would these things, like the Temple being destroyed, take place (λέγοντες Εἰπὲ ἡμῖν, πότε ταῦτα ἔσται)?  What would be the sign that Jesus was coming again in the Parousia (καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον τῆς σῆς παρουσίας).  On top of that, they wanted to know about the end of the world or the completion of the ages (καὶ συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος).  Matthew combined the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the Second coming of Jesus, and the end of the world together.

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The spiritual sense of Bible reading

Most Christians read the Bible in a spiritual sense, trying to find its deeper spiritual meaning.  What can the Bible do to help my spiritual life?  What is the deeper significance of a particular text?  What is it telling me about God and Jesus?  How do the Old and New Testament fit together?  How were the prophecies fulfilled?  Are there any allusions to Christ in the Old Testament?  Can I find an allegorical sense to various stories?

They will be my people (Zech 8:7-8:8)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will save my people

From the east country,

As well as from the west country.

I will bring them

To live

In Jerusalem.

They shall be my people.

I will be their God,

In faithfulness,

In righteousness.’”

Yahweh of hosts, via Zechariah, said that he would save his people not only from Babylon in the east, but also those scattered in the western countries.  He wanted to bring them all together to live in Jerusalem, the holy city.  They would be his people.  He would be their God, faithfully and righteously.

Assemble everyone (Joel 2:15-2:16)

“Blow the trumpet

In Zion!

Sanctify a fast!

Call a solemn assembly!

Gather the people!

Sanctify the congregation!

Assemble the aged!

Gather the children!

Gather even nursing infants!

Let the bridegroom leave

His room!

Let the bride leave

Her chamber.”

In order to get out of their bad situation, Joel wanted everyone to come together for a solemn assembly. They were to sound the trumpet on Zion for a holy fast. Let everyone know what was going on. They had to gather the people into a sanctified congregation. This also meant the aged and the children, even the nursing children. The newlywed brides and grooms were not exempt either. This was serious business.

The testimony of the elders (Dan 13:36-13:41)

“The elders said.

‘While we were walking

In the garden alone,

This woman came in

With two maids.

She shut

The garden doors.

She dismissed

The maids.

Then a young man,

Who was hiding there,

Came to her.

He lay with her.

We were in a corner

Of the garden.

When we saw

This wickedness,

We ran to them.

Although we saw them

Embracing,

We could not hold the man.

He was stronger than we.

He opened the doors.

He got away.

We did,

However,

Seize this woman.

We asked her

Who the young man was.

But she would not tell us.

These things we testify.’”

The two old judges testified about their story. They were simply walking in the garden together alone. Then, this young woman with two maids came into the garden. Next, she locked the garden doors and sent the two maids away. Suddenly, a young man who had been hiding in the garden appeared. The two of them, Susanna and this young man, got together and had sex with each other. The two old judges were in a corner of the garden. They then ran over to them as they were still embracing. However, they were not strong enough to hold the young man. Instead, they were able to grab the woman, Susanna. They asked her who the young man was, but she would not tell them. Thus, the two judges finished their testimony.

Blessing God and his name (Dan 3:29-3:31)

“Blessed are you!

O Lord!

God of our ancestors!

You are to be praised!

You are highly exalted forever!

Blessed is

Your glorious,

Holy name!

It is to be highly praised!

It is to be highly exalted forever!

Blessed are you

In the temple

Of your holy glory!

You are to be extolled!

You are to be

Highly glorified forever!”

The 3 men together in the furnace now broke into a prayer or hymn of praise to God. First, they blessed God, the God of their ancestors, who is not called Yahweh. He was to be praised and exalted forever. Next, they blessed his glorious holy name that should also be praised and exalted forever. Finally, they blessed the temple of his glory. God was to be highly glorified forever.

The divided mixed kingdom (Dan 2:41-2:43)

“As you saw

The feet

With the toes,

Partly of potter’s clay,

Partly of iron,

It shall be a divided kingdom.

Some of the strength

Of iron

Shall be in it,

Just as you saw

The iron mixed

With the clay.

As the toes

Of the feet were

Partly iron,

Partly clay,

Thus,

The kingdom shall be

Partly strong,

Partly brittle.

As you saw the iron

Mixed with clay,

Thus,

They will mix

With one another

In marriage.

But they will not

Hold together,

Just as iron

Does not mix

With clay.”

This appears to be a veiled reference to the future Greek iron kingdom with its problems between the different ruling parties of the Seleucids (312-63 BCE) and the Ptolemies (305-30 BCE). They each inherited parts of the Greek empire of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). They tried to join together through marriage, but that failed. Daniel here used the example of the feet made of iron and clay, the strength of the iron mixed with the weak clay. However, as the toes and feet became weak, so too this kingdom would be partly strong and partly brittle. Even a marriage could not hold it together, because iron and clay simply do not mix.