A Few Thoughts in Response to Robert L Kramer– #3
Is Matthew 10:23 A Second Coming Passage?
Don K. Preston
This is the third in a series of what will be seven articles in response to Mr. Robert Kramer. Kramer produces the “Second Thoughts” journal (42 Evans Ave. Sinking Spring, Pa., 19608). Mr. Kramer and I have corresponded in the past, since he sometimes expresses his views against Covenant Eschatology. Kramer seems to be a genuinely good man who loves the Lord, and I have always appreciated his demeanor in our correspondence.
Just recently, a friend sent me some correspondence from Mr. Kramer in which he challenged several tenets of Covenant Eschatology. My friend asked if I would be willing to respond to some of the issues that Kramer raised , and I am happy to do so.
Mr. Kramer claims: “The two verses quoted to support preterism have other valid explanations. Matthew 10:23 is not about Jesus’ 2nd coming at all. He’s simply saying that he shall rejoin the disciples whom he had sent on a preaching mission throughout all the towns of Israel. After telling of his future coming in glory with His angels in Matthew 16:27 He tells of a prior coming which was fulfilled in His post resurrection appearances to His disciples. He received His kingdom upon His ascension into heaven according to Daniel 7:13-14 and the apostles saw Him in the evening of the resurrection Sunday.”
: Mr. Kramer’s attempt to avoid the force of Matthew 10 is futile. If in fact Jesus was simply telling his disciples that he would “see you later in Galilee” then Matthew 10 is the only time that Jesus used the terminology of the coming of the Son of Man for a mundane, non-eschatological event. Now, is it possible that Jesus was using the terminology of the coming of the Son of Man in an exceptional, non-eschatological manner? Of course it is. However, given the fact that every other time Jesus used that terminology, he did so to speak of his eschatological coming, it is not likely, and the burden of proof is on Mr. Kramer to demonstrate definitively that Jesus was deviating from his normal use of the language.
A close look at Matthew 10 belies Mr. Kramer’s interpretation. Jesus was sending his disciples to preach. In verses 16-22 Jesus told them that as they went preaching they would be persecuted and despised. What is so critical to realize is that at this early stage in Jesus ministry, there was no persecution of him or his disciples! Jesus was at the height of his popularity! Resistance to Jesus did not seem to set in until Matthew 12.
Now notice the critical verse 23: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another; for verily I say to you, you shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.”
What is so critical to realize that the disciples going over the cities of Israel is not simply in evangelism, but, more specifically, it is flight from persecution! There are several obstacles to Mr. Kramer’s posit in what Jesus said.
First of all, is Mr. Kramer claiming that the disciples preached into all the cities of Israel in the relatively short time from Matthew 10 until his post resurrection appearance to the disciples? This would demand that they be absent from the Lord from the time of Matthew 10 until after his resurrection! Remember that there are only 12 apostles being given this task. So, are we to believe that they left Jesus and began to evangelize throughout all the cities of Israel, and yet, were still present with Jesus– as Matthew clearly records– during the rest of his ministry, from Matthew 11 onward? Where do we find record of the absence of the disciples for the time necessary to fulfill this missionary task, and, where do we find the record of the persecution as described by Jesus?
More critically, notice that Jesus specifically says that their travel through the cities of Israel would be in flight from persecution! To prove his contention, Mr Kramer would need to show from the scriptures that the disciples left Jesus in Matthew 10, went on their missionary task, and were persecuted until the time that they met up with him after his resurrection! According to the time-line of Matthew 10 the disciples would be absent from Jesus, evangelizing and being persecuted, until they met up with him after his resurrection. So, where is the record of that? There is no record at all. Mr. Kramer’s argument based on Matthew 10 ignores the demands of the text.
Mr. Kramer says that Matthew 16:27 is the prediction of Jesus’ final coming. We concur, but, this claim and admission destroys Mr. Kramer’s futurism. Notice that in verse 27 we have the prediction of Christ’s coming in judgment. Then, in verse 28 we find Jesus’ emphatic words, “Verily I say unto you, there are some standing here that shall not taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Here is a critical grammatical point. When Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you…” he used a little Greek term “amen lego humin.” Jesus used that term almost 100 times in the Gospels. And here is what is so important about that term: It never breaks a subject. It never introduces a new subject. It never serves to change subjects! That little term is used invariably to call the listeners attention to what is about to be said that will emphasize what has been said. In other words, verse 27 is the prediction of Jesus’ coming, and verse 28 emphasizes details and facts about that coming! Verse 28 is not a different topic. It is not a different time. It is not a different coming of the Lord! It is an emphatic declaration about when the events foretold in verse 27 would occur.
Jesus’ use of “amen lego humin” demands that verse 28 is emphasizing what is said in verse 27, and this means, without any doubt whatsoever, that the coming of verse 27 would take place in the lifetime of Jesus’ audience! I have much, much more about Matthew 16:27-28 in my book Can You Believe Jesus Said This?, available from this website. (Incidentally, in that book, I demonstrate beyond any doubt that the Transfiguration was not the fulfillment of Matthew 16:28, as so many people claim).
Mr. Kramer’s attempt to make Matthew 10:23 a statement that Jesus would simply meet his disciples at a later time after his resurrection flies in the face of the text. It places unrealistic and non-historical demands on the text. It asserts matters of history and text that are not recorded and that do not fit the inspired text as we have it. Matthew 10:23 is a prediction of Christ’s “second coming” and it asserts unequivocally that it would be in the lifetime of his disciples.