THE Gospel teaching of the Second Advent, as far as the four main points already referred to are concerned, is so familiar that on reading the passages given above from the Old Testament and the Apocalyptic literature which deal with the antecedents of this teaching, passages from the Gospels will have spontaneously suggested themselves; therefore it will not be necessary to give many quotations. Nevertheless, for purposes of illustration a certain number of passages must be cited; this will also serve to show more clearly the identity of thought between the Gospel teaching and that which preceded, on certain fundamental points. We shall take the four main elements in the same order as in chaps. ii. and v.; comparisons can then be very easily made with the corresponding sections in each; the subsidiary points of interest referred to
in previous chapters will also be dealt with here. It should, however, be mentioned in passing that points of similarity with antecedent teaching only constitute one aspect of the Gospel teaching; we shall, in the next chapter, draw attention to another aspect, according to which it presents important points of contrast with the earlier teaching.
The most striking of these are the physical phenomena which are to herald the approach of Christ, thus in Luke xxi. 25, 26, we read: And there shall be signs in sun, moon, and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows; men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (cf. Matt. xxiv. 29; Mark xiii. 24; and see the quotation from Joel ii. 28-32 in Acts ii. 17 ff.). In connection with these physical phenomena it is interesting to recall the words in Rev. vi. 12-17: . . . and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair; and the whole moon became as blood, and the stars of the heaven fell unto the earth . . . and the heaven
was removed as a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places . . . and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. . . . Earthquakes and famine are other signs (see Matt. xxiv. 7; Mark xiii. 8). Further, universal fighting, not only war between nations, but also enmity between relatives and friends, are to be signs of the end--Matt. xxiv. 6, 7: And ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. . . . The conflict between near relations is described, for example, in Matt, x. 21.: And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child; and children shall rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death; so, too, in verses 35, 36, of the same chapter: For I came to set a man at variance against his father; and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. It will be noticed on comparing these words with the parallel ones in the earlier literatures that the
similarity amounts often to verbal identity. Another of the signs of the "last times" is the appearance of false Messiahs, thus in Matt. xxiv. 23, 24, we read: Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Here; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. This feature does not appear to be at all prominent in the earlier literature, but that it existed is probable, as it occurs in the Rabbinical literature, which reflects and reserves so many traditional beliefs (see above, chap. vii. §i).
In Jewish theology it is taught that above the earth there are seven heavens; 1 the highest of these, the seventh, is called Araboth; this is the dwelling-place (or Mechiza) of God. But not only does the Almighty dwell here, the angels who serve Him are there, and also the souls of the righteous (Chagigah 15b; see Weber, op. cit. pp. 162 ff.). But there are, so it is taught, three divisions in this "seventh
heaven"; God Himself dwells in the innermost division, which is hidden from view by a pargôd ("curtain") of clouds; the righteous are in the next division, 1 and the angels in the outermost. Behind the pargôd of clouds, where God dwells, is the heavenly throne together with the "glory" of God. The "glory" of God is said to dwell upon the divine throne, and is often used for the Personality of God Himself, especially in the Targums. 2 A further point of great interest is the fact that in the divine Mechiza, or "dwelling-place," no being may ever enter, with the one exception of Metatron, 3 who is permitted to enter and act as mediator between the Israelites and God by writing down their merits in the Divine Presence. This teaching, which is found in Rabbinical writings belonging to times subsequent to the beginning of Christianity, reflects nevertheless thoughts and beliefs which existed long before the Christian Era; they are, therefore, worth bearing in mind in considering a few Gospel passages relative to the Second Advent of
Christ. In Matt. xxv. 31 we read: But when the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory (cf. Mark xii. 25, 26); again, in Matt. xxiv. 30: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven . . . and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Here one may be permitted to suggest that "the sign of the Son of Man in heaven" refers to the "glory" to which reference was made above. It has been suggested that by this "sign" is meant that Christ would appear with or on the Cross (Bousset on Rev. i. 7), and that "if St Matthew had this in mind, the 'sign of the Son of Man' would mean the crucified Saviour appearing in the air." 1 This idea seems incongruous in view of the words "on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory"; for the Cross would be too suggestive of humiliation. But besides this, it must be remembered that the "glory of God," or the Shekhinah, was always regarded as the sign of the Divine Presence. 2 The words in Rev. i. 7 (Behold, he cometh with the clouds;
and every eye shall see him, and they which pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him), which are cited in support of the view that the "sign" means the crucified Saviour, do not necessarily do so, for the mention of those "which pierced him" may well have been made in order to emphasise the overwhelming difference there is to be between the humiliation of Christ while on earth and His glory when He shall appear again; His persecutors are to be witnesses of this; and when it says, further, "all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over Him," this is parallel to the words in Matt. xxiv. 30: Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, their reason for mourning being that Christ has come to judge them, 1 in contradistinction to the gathering together of the elect, described in the next verse (cf. Luke xxi. 28, where Christ reassures His own followers). The thought of the righteous elect dwelling in the divine Mechiza is illustrated by Matt. xix. 28: Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon
twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Assuming, as one may justly do, that this Jewish belief of the Mechiza and its three divisions, existed in pre-Christian times, the thought of Christ coming with the angels and the saints would naturally suggest itself.
A distinctive feature of the Gospel teaching concerning the Second Advent which requires a brief mention, is the suddenness of the Messiah's coming; in Matt. xxiv. 27, for example, our Lord teaches: For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man. Closely connected with this suddenness of the Advent is its unexpectedness; more than one parable of eschatological content teaches this, and the frequent emphasis laid on the need of watching is, of course, due to this feature. (See, for example, Matt. xxiv. 37-51, xxv. 13, and the parable of the Ten Virgins xxv. 1-12.)
As in the parallel sections in the Old Testament and in the Apocalyptic literature, it is the final punishment of the Wicked that is here referred to. The most instructive and
best known passage regarding this subject is Matt. xxv. 41-46; here, concerning the Wicked, it is said: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . And these shall go away into eternal punishment. Again, Matt. xiii. 41, 42: The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Cf. verses 49, 50; Luke xiii. 28.) The strange idea of the "worm that dieth not," which we referred to in an earlier section (chap. ii. §iii.), occurs in reference to the Wicked in Mark ix. 48, where Gehenna is spoken of as the place where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. The fire of Gehenna, or Hell, is referred to again in Mark ix. 43, and often in the Synoptic Gospels.
As in the preceding section, it will be only necessary to give one or two quotations to
illustrate this subject. In Matt. xxv. 34 we read: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; so, too, in verse 46, . . . But the righteous (shall go) into eternal life. Almost always, though there are one or two exceptions (Matt. viii. 11, Luke 28), the idea of the Israelites being in any way specially privileged is absent in the Gospel teaching; here Universalism has conquered Particularism, and this must have been one of the main reasons for the hatred felt by the Pharisees towards our Lord. The most striking passage, perhaps, in the Gospels illustrative of the Universalist spirit is Matt. xxiv. 31; And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. That the "elect" here are not to be understood as being restricted to those of Jewish race seems clear from the earlier part of this chapter, the whole of which is eschatological, for in verse 14 occur the words: And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come. The blessedness of the
righteous, be they of whatsoever race, is also distinctly taught in the account of the great Judgement (xxv. 31-46) referred to above, for in verse 32 it says that before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats.
As has been pointed out in an earlier chapter (vi. §i.), the Gospel teaching on this point is adumbrated in the Ethiopic Book of Enoch and in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs; from the quotations already given from these two books it will have been seen that the attitude towards the Gentiles in the "last times" taken up is, with the rarest exceptions, Universalistic; they are to be gathered, not in order that they may be destroyed, but that they may be saved. Although here and there in the Gospels a Particularistic tendency may be discerned, it is altogether exceptional when this does occur; the general teaching is that without differentiating between Jew and Gentile, every soul that is fit for the Kingdom shall inherit it;
there are, indeed, some striking passages in which certain of the Jewish race are directly said to be unfit for the Kingdom; these only emphasise the Universalistic character of the Gospel teaching. As illustrative of how widely all men are embraced in the Gospel view of the Kingdom, no words could be more instructive than those in Matt. xxiv. 14: And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come. How entirely without any differentiation the Kingdom is promised to all who shall be found worthy is seen, for example, in Matt. xxv. 32 ff. . . . . And before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats . . . (cf. Luke ii. 31, 32; xiii. 29); many other passages containing similar Universalistic teaching could be given. In one or two instances a special position of privilege seems to be accorded to the Jewish nation, thus in Matt. xix. 28 we read: And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
[paragraph continues] Israel; it must, however, be added, that the words which follow may legitimately be taken in a quite general sense, namely, And every one that hath left houses or brethren . . . shall inherit eternal life. Then, lastly, there are quite a number of instances in which it is said that the Jews will be cast out of the Kingdom on account of their unworthiness, and their places be taken by others; so, for example, Matt. viii. 12: But the sons of the Kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Some of the parables quite clearly teach the same thing; thus in the parable of the householder who planted a vineyard we read at its close (Matt. xxi. 41): He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons; the whole drift of the parable leaves no doubt as to who are intended by "those miserable men," and by the "other husbandmen," even if it were not made doubly clear by the words in verse 43: Therefore I say unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (Cf. further Matt. xxi. 31; Luke xiii. 7-9.)
The ingathering of the dispersed Israelites all over the world is a regular feature in the Eschatology of the Old Testament and of the later literature; but from what has already been said we shall scarcely expect to see it figure prominently in the Gospels. One passage, it is true, which seems to be based on Isa. xxvii. 13, very probably did, in the first instance, refer to the dispersed Israelites, but it is a question whether the words were not deliberately chosen with a view to adapting them to a wider use; the passage is Matt. xxiv. 31: And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. It is more in accordance with the demand of true religion which, as the Gospel teaches, is the condition of entry into the Kingdom that we read in Luke iii. 7 ff. . . . Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore, fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you that God is able of these
stones to raise up children unto Abraham. . . . That the Jewish nation was intended to be the medium whereby salvation was to be brought to all men 1 seems definitely implied in such words as: Salvation is of the Jews (John iv. 22), and: Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . (Matt. xxviii. 19); but this high privilege only emphasised the fact that their ingathering was to be conditioned by their spiritual state. See, further, the words in Matt. xix. 28: Verily I say unto you, that they which have, followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
As an illustration of the spirit of the Gospel teaching, it is instructive to compare the thought of Israel being the medium of proclaiming, and bringing the knowledge of, salvation to all men, with the earlier idea which sometimes finds expression, of the Israelites being the instrument of punishing and destroying the Gentiles. (Cf. above, chap. ii. §iii.)
A feature that should be mentioned in connection with the ingathering of Israel is
the state of the Temple in the time of bliss which is to be the lot of the Righteous; we have here an element concerning which the Gospel teaching and its antecedents are in striking contrast. In the Old Testament one great hope associated with the Messianic Age was that Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt. Such prophecies as Ezek. xl.--xliv., xlvii., Isa. xxiv. 23, liv. 11 ff., lx. 10 ff., lxv. 17-19, which suggest the prospect of a new and glorious city and a restored Temple-worship, strongly fostered such hopes. In Hag. ii. 7-9 the consciousness that the second Temple (before its restoration by Herod) compared unfavourably with the first is already apparent. (Cf. also Tobit xiv. 5.) It was expected that a new and glorious Jerusalem would be built in the Messianic Age, of sapphires, gold, and precious stones, etc. (Cf. Tobit xiii. 15 ff.; xiv. 4; Rev. xxi. 9-21.) This is identical with the "new" or "upper" Jerusalem ("the Jerusalem that is above," which is referred to in Gal. iv. 26, Hebr. xii. 22) which had been seen in vision by Adam, Abraham, and Moses (Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch iv. 26), and which was to be made manifest in all its glory by the Messiah (cf. iv. Esdras vii. 26, Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch xxxii. 4). In later times, after the
complete destruction of both city and Temple, this hope came to even more vivid expression. (See, further, Sibylline Oracles iii. 286-290, 625-658; Book of Jubilees i. 29 ff.; xxiii. 27 ff.) The restoration of the Holy City, and especially of the Temple-worship, long continued to be an object of pious hopes and prayers; according to Lev. rabbah ix. the Messiah will Himself re-erect the Temple. 1 In view of such hopes and expectations, which with the building of Herod's Temple seemed to some extent realised, one can understand what must have been the feelings of those who, on drawing our Lord's attention to the buildings of the Temple, heard, in reply, the words: See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down (Matt. xxiv. 2).
The feature emphasises, again, the spiritual character of the Gospel teaching.
In the earlier literature there is ambiguity as to the time of the Resurrection, as well as uncertainty as to who shall rise, whether it is
to be the good alone, or the evil as well, and whether it is to be restricted to Israelites, or to men in general (see chaps. iii. §iv.; vi. §iii.; vii. §v.). According to the later teaching of the Jews the trumpet-blast which was to be the signal for the ingathering of the dispersed Israelites (cf. Isaiah xxvii. 13) would also rouse the sleeping dead (cf. iv. Esdras iv. 23 ff.; Berachoth 15b); in 1 Cor. xv. 52 we read: For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible . . . (see also 1 Thess. iv. 16). We are not concerned here with the doctrine of the Resurrection, but only with the, fact of its mention in connection with eschatological thought. According to the Gospel teaching, it is only the Righteous who are to share in the Resurrection, for they who rise are "as the angels in heaven" (Luke xx. 35, 36), hence also the words, "the resurrection of the just" in Luke xiv. 14. It is, therefore, only the Righteous who rise, the Wicked are cast down into Gehenna (Matt. x. 28; Mark ix. 43 ff.). It must be in the light of this that we are to understand the words in Matt. xxv. 46: And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal, although direct mention of the Resurrection is not made here. Though it is not specifically stated (but
see Matt. xxv. 32 ff.), yet the whole spirit of the Gospel teaching shows that it knows no such distinction regarding the Resurrection of the Dead, as is implied in the words "Jew" and "Gentile." The passage (Matt. xxvi. 51-53) does not come into consideration here.
It may perhaps strike some as strange that the subject of the general Resurrection receives, comparatively speaking, such small notice in the Gospels. The reason, however, is not far to seek, for this belief was so firmly established among the Jews prior to the Christian Era as not to require specific treatment; it was one of those things which were naturally taken for granted, being an almost universally acknowledged fact; it was only on particular occasions, such as that referred to in Matt. xxii. 23 ff., that the subject was dealt with in detail by Christ.
There are some passages in the Gospels which suggest the idea of the Messianic Banquet, or something corresponding to it; but in each case the teaching is immeasurably more spiritual than what we read of in the earlier literature. One may well believe that the popular conception regarding this
[paragraph continues] Banquet was utilised by Christ and transformed, in order to teach a higher truth. It is possible that the thought of the Messianic Banquet lay behind the parable of the Marriage Feast (Matt. xxii. 1-14), see especially verse 13, where it is said that he who had not on a wedding-garment 1 was to be cast into the outer darkness, where there is the weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Cf. Ascension of Isaiah iv. 16.) More direct reference, however, may be discerned in Matt. viii. 11: And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob . . .; in the original "shall sit down" (literally "recline") is the regular word for reclining at a meal (cf. Luke xiii. 29). Significant, too, in this connection is the passage Luke xiv. 15-24, commencing with the words: And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. But he said, A certain man made a great supper . . .; and the words in Matt. xxvi. 29 should also be
considered: But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom.
In each of these passages the context shows that a new, a spiritual, meaning is being applied to the old traditional conception of the Messianic Banquet.
172:1 Cf. 2 Cor. xii. 2
173:1 Probably, as Weber suggests, this division is equivalent to Paradise, referred to by St Paul in 2 Cor. xii. 4.
173:2 See further on this, Oesterley and Box, op. cit. pp. 191-194.
173:3 Concerning this human-divine being see Oesterley and Box, op. cit. pp. 170-178.
174:1 Allen, St. Matthew, p. 259.
174:2 For references see Oesterley and Box, op. cit. pp. 191 ff.
175:1 Cf. Eth. Enoch lxii. 5. "Pain will seize them when they see that Son of Man sit on the throne of His glory" (see also xlv. 3; lxix. 27.)
183:1 For this thought cf. Sibylline Oracles iii. 194 ff., and see further above, chap. vi. §ii.
185:1 Prayer for the restoration of the Temple-worship is offered in the Synagogue regularly at the present day (see Oesterley and Box, op. cit. p. 223).
188:1 With this thought of the "Wedding-garment" it is interesting to compare the mention of the ‘'Garments of Life" in Eth. Enoch lxii. 16. (See also cviii. 12.)