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Quakers : George Fox | Margaret Fell (Fox) | Isaac Penington


Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer
(January 10, 1800 - June 21, 1873)

Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Gospel of Matthew

"The plain teaching of the passage is that before some of those who heard him speak should die the Son of man would come in glory, and his kingdom would be established in power"


Preterist Commentaries By Historicist / Continuists

Dividing Line Between Destruction of Jerusalem and General Judgment - Matthew 24:29

(On the Second Advent)
"With regard to the difficulty arising out of the fact that the second advent did not take place, as Jesus had predicted it would, immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem,—arid as an explanation of which the assumption of a blending of type and antitype (Luther) is arbitrary in itself, and only leads to confusion,—let the following be remarked : (1) Jesus has spoken of His advent in a threefold sense ; for He described as His second coming (a) that outpouring of the Holy Spirit which was shortly to take place, and which was actually fulfilled ; see on John xiv. 18 f., xvi. 16, 20 ff., also on Eph. ii. 17 ; (b) that historical manifestation of His majesty and power which would be seen, immediately after His ascension to the Father, in the triumph of His cause upon the earth, of which Matt. xxvi. 64 furnishes an undoubted example ; (r) His coming, in the strict eschatological sense, to raise the dead, to hold the last judgment, and to set up His kingdom, which is also distinctly intimated in such passages of John as vi. 40, 64, T. 28, xiv. 3, and in connection with which it is to be observed that in John (vi. 30 f., 44, 54) does not imply any such nearness of the thing as is implied when the spiritual advent is in question ; but, on the contrary, presupposes generally that believers will have to undergo death. Again, in the parable contained in Matt. xxii. 1-14, the calling of the Gentiles is represented as coming after the destruction of Jerusalem ; so that (соmр. on xxi. 40 f.) in any case a longer interval is supposed to intervene between this latter event and the second coming than would seem to correspond.. (2) But though Jesus Himself predicted His second coming as an event close at hand, without understanding it, however, in the literal sense of the words (see above, under a and b) ; though, in doing so, He availed Himself to some extent of such prophetical phraseology as had come to be the stereotyped language for describing the future establishment of the literal kingdom of the Messiah (xxvi. 64), and in this way made use of the notions connected with this literal kingdom for the purpose of еmbodying His conceptions of the ideal advent,—it is nevertheless highly conceivable that, in the minds of the disciples, the sign of Christ's special entrance into the world again came to be associated and ultimately identified with the expectation of a literal kingdom. This is all the more conceivable when we consider how difficult it was for them to realize anything so ideal as an invisible return, and how natural it was for them to apprehend literally the figurative language in which Jesus predicted this return, and how apt they were, in consequence, to take everything He said about His second coming, in the threefold sense above mentioned, as having reference to the one great object of eager expectation, viz., the glorious establishment of the Messiah's kingdom. The separating and sifting of the heterogeneous elements that were thus blended together in their imagination, Jesus appears to have left to tho influence of future development, instead of undertaking this task Himself, by directly confuting and correcting the errors to which this confusion gave rise (Acts i. 7, 8), although we must not overlook the fact that any utterances of Jesus in this direction would be apt to be lost sight of—all the more, that they would not be likely to prove generally acceptable. It may likewise be observed, as bearing upon this matter, that the spiritual character of the Gospel of John—in which the idea of (lie advent, though not altogether absent, occupies a very secondary place as compared with the decided prominence given to that of the coming again in a spiritual sense —is a phenomenon which presupposes further teaching on tho part of Jesus, differing materially from that recorded in the synoptic traditions, (3) After the idea of imminence had once got associated in the minds of the disciples with the expectation of the second advent ami the establishment of the literal kingdom, the next step, now that the resurrection of Jesus had taken place, was to connect the hope of fulfilment with the promised baptism with the spirit which was understood to be near at hand (Acts i. G) ; and they further expected that the fulfilment would take place, and tliat they would be witnesses of it before they left Judea,—an idea which is most distinctly reflected in Matt. x. 23. Ex eventua the horizon of this hope came to be gradually enlarged, without its extending, however, beyond the lifetime of the existing generation. It was during this interval that, according to Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was to take place. But if he at the same time saw, and in prophetic symbolism announced, what He could not fail to be aware of, viz., the connection that there would be between this catastrophe and the triumph of His ideal kingdom, then nothing was more natural than to expect that, with Jerusalem still standing (differently in Luke xxi. 24), and the duration of the existing generation drawing to a close, the second advent would take place immediately after tho destruction of the capital,—an expectation which would be strengthened by the well-known descriptions furnished by tho prophets of the triumphal entry of Jehovah and tho disasters that were to precede it (Strauss, II. p. 348), as well as by that form of the doctrine of the dolores Messiae to which the Rabbis had given currency. The form of the expectation involuntarily modified the form of the promise ; the ideal advent and establishment of the kingdom came to be identified with the eschatological, so that in men's minds and in the traditions alike the former gradually disappeared, while the latter alone remained as the object of earnest longing and expectation, surrounded not merely with the gorgeous coloring of prophetic delineation, but also placed in the same relation to the destruction of Jerusalem as that in which the ideal advent, announced in the language of prophetic imagery, had originally stood.

Certain expositors have referred, in this connection, to the sentiment of the modern poet, who says : " the  history is represented the destruction of Jerusalem as the first act in this judgment, which is supposed to bo immediately followed (ver. 29) by a renovation of the world through the medium of Christianity,—a renovation which is to go on until the last revelation from heaven takes place (Kern, Dorner, Olshansen). But this is only to commit the absurdity of importing into the passage a poetical judgment, such as is quite foreign to the real judgment of the New Testament. No less objectionable is Bengel's idea, revived by Hengstenberg and Olshausen (сотр. also Kern, p. 56 ; Lange, П. р. 1258 ; Schmid, В1Ы. Theol. I. p. 354), about the perspective nature of the prophetic vision,—an idea which could only have been vindicated from the reproach of imputing a false vision, i.e., an optical delusion, to Jesus if the latter had failed to specify a definite time by means of a statement so very precise as that contained in the eiiQiuc of ver. 29, or had not added the solemn declaration of ver. 34. Dorner, Wittichen, rightly decide against this view. AH a last shift, Olshausen has recourse to the idea that some condition or other is to be understood : " All those things will happen, unless men avert the anger of God by sincere repentance,"—a reservation which, in a prediction of so extremely definite a character, would most certainly have been expressly mentioned, even although no doubt can be said to exist as to the conditional nature of the Old Testament prophecies (Berthcan in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1859, p. 335 ff.). IE, as Olshansen thinks, it was the wish of the Lord that His second advent should always be looked upon as a possible, nay, as a probable thing,— and if it was/or this reason that He spoke as Matthew represents Him to have done, then it would follow that Ho made nseof false means for the purpose of attaining a moral end,—a thing even more inconceivable in His case than theoretical error, which latter Strauss does not hesitate to impute. According to this view, to which Wittichen also adheres, it is to the ef/iioaiside of the ministry of Jesus that the chief importance is to be attached. But it is precisely this ethical side that, in the case of Him who was the very depository of the intuitive truth of God, would necessarily be compromised by such an error as is here in view,—an error affecting a prediction so intimntely connected with His whole work, and of so much importance in its moral consequences. Сотр. John viii. 46." (p. 431-434)

(On Matthew 24:6-7)
"This end, the laying waste of the temple and the unparalleled desolation of the land that is to accompany it. Ver. 15 ff. This is also substantially equivalent to de Wette's interpretation : "the decisive winding up of the present state of things (and along with it the climax of trouble and affliction)."
Ver. 7. it is not quite the end as yet ; for the situation will become still more turbulent and distressing : nation will rúe against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, etc. "We have here depicted in colors borrowed from ancient prophecy (Isa. xix. 2), not only those risings, becoming more and more frequent, which, after a long ferment, culminated in the closing scene of the Jewish war and led to the destruction of Jerusalem, but also those convulsions in nature, by which they were accompanied. That this prediction was fulfilled in its general aspects is amply confirmed, above all, by the well-known accounts of Josephus ; but we are forbidden by the very nature of genuine prophecy, which cannot and is not meant to be restricted to isolated points, either to assume or try to prove that such and such historical events are special literal fulfilments in concrete of the individual features in the prophetic outlook before us,—although this has been attempted very recently, by Köstlin in particular. As for the Parthian wars and the risings that took place some ten years after in Gaul and Spain, they had no connection whatever with Jerusalem or Judaea. There is as little reason to refer (Wetstein) ver. 6 to the war waged by Asinaeus and Alinaeus against the Parthians, and to the Parthian declaration of war against King Izates of Adiabene, or to explain the latter of the struggles for the imperial throne that had broken out after the death of Nero (Hilgenfeld). Jesus, who sees rising before Him the horrors of war and other calamities connected, ver. 15, with the coming destruction of Jerusalem, présents a picture of them to the view of His hearers. " (Critical and Exegetical, pp. 409-410)

(On Matthew 24:30)
"R. Hofman thinks that the reference is to that apparition in the form of a man which is alleged to have stood over the holy of holies for a whole night while the destruction of the capital was going on." (vol. 1, p. 423)

(On Matthew 24:34)
"That the second advent itself is intended to be included, is likewise evident from v. 36, in which the subject of the day and hour of the advent is introduced."

"The affirmation of v. 34, however, does not exclude the fact that no one knows the day and hour when the second advent, with its accompanying phenomena, is to take place. It is to occur during the life-time of the generation then existing, but no one knows on what day or at what hour within the period thus indicated."

"The plain teaching of the passage is that before some of those who heard him speak should die the Son of man would come in glory, and his kingdom would be established in power" (Quoted from Biblical Apocalyptics, Milton Terry, p. 220).

(On Luke 21:24)
"...till the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, i.e. till the time that the periods which are appointed to the Gentile nations for the completion of the divine judgments (not the period of grace for the Gentiles...) shall have run out. Comp. Rev. xi. 2. Such times of the Gentiles are ended in the case in question by the Parousia (vv. 25 f., 27), which is to occur during the lifetime of the hearers (ver. 28).. hence those.. are in no way to be regarded as of longer duration" (Meyer, pp. 530-531).

(On I Thessalonians 4:17)
"..Paul reckoned himself with those who would survive till the commencement of the advent..." (vol. 8, p. 532).

(On I Peter 4:7)
"That the apostle, without fixing the time or the hour of it, looked upon the advent of Christ and the end of the world,- in its condition hitherto, - therewirth connected, as near at hand, must be singly admitted." (Meyer's Commentary, vol. 10, p. 316).

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