The Great Commission is not complete: Part 2

In the last post in this series, we mentioned an article that was given to us that stated that the Great Commission had already been completed and broke down the highlights of the article. I hope you’ve had an opportunity to read both the first post in this series and the original article itself. As we look closely at the GCIC article, I think there are two questions we have to ask: First, has the Great Commission already be fulfilled and how would we know it? And in order to answer the first question, we have to ask, given the prevalence of the GCIC author’s insistence on writing in his article about the end of the age, ‘What does Jesus mean by ‘the end of the age.’’ It’s an important question because in the GCIC article, the author mentions that since the end of the age was when the temple was destroyed in AD70, this signals that the end of the age has come already and therefore the Great Commission is already complete.

As we do a little Bible Study about what the end of the age looks like, there are two places in Scripture that give us an idea of what ‘the end of the age’ looks like. For those wanting to do some additional study, read Matthew 13 and Mark 13 for more context. In summary, here is what is going to happen at ‘the end of the age:’

As we approach ‘the end of the age,’ we’ll see:

  • Many will come in the name of Jesus, and will lead many astray (Mark 13:6)
  • We will see wars and rumors of wars (Mark 13:7)
  • Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom (Mark 13:8)
  • Christians will be delivered over to councils, and will be beaten in synagogues
  • We will stand before governors and kings for His sake and bear witness before them.

We will then see the final signs of ‘the end of the age:’

  • The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all lawbreakers and throw them into the fiery furnace.  (Matthew 13:41-42)
  • We will see weeping and gnashing of teeth. In the midst of all of this, the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
  • In the midst of this, the end of the age will not be complete until ‘the gospel must first be proclaimed to πᾶς ἔθνος.’ (Mark 13:10)

We read about this as well in our favorite passages of Matthew 24. In the GCIC, the author references that Jesus mentions the end of the age will be seen when the Temple is destroyed, which happens in AD70, which according to the author signifies the end of the age. But if you read Matthew 24 carefully, we see a different narrative. The disciples point out the temple to Jesus at the beginning of Matthew 24. Jesus’ reply is “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2) Jesus does indeed prophesy about the destruction of the Temple, which does happen at the hands of the Romans in AD70. But then we get to the key part of this chapter…. Watch this carefully, verse 3: ‘As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”’ Did you catch it? In verse 2, they are leaving the temple area and Jesus makes His comment. We pick back up in verse 3, and Jesus is sitting on the Mount of Olives. For those who have never been to Jerusalem, that’s a 1.8 mile walk (3km) between the two places, which means the comments He makes about the temple, and what happens next happens at a different time, after they’ve walked 3km and they pick back up with the conversation. In the GCIC article, the author states that as an answer to the disciples about their comments about the temple, his answer is ‘the temple will be destroyed and that will tell you the end of the age has come,’ but no that’s not what happens at all. Verses 1 and 2, a conversation about the temple. Verse 3 forward, some time later, a question about what signs will we see at the end of the age and then Jesus answer, after they’ve walked two miles and Jesus is sitting on the Mount of Olives.

Conclusion? It is irresponsible of the author of the GCIC article to indicate that ‘So what “age” ends when the Temple that Jesus and his disciples were looking at gets torn down? Put simply, the Old Covenant age. The era marked by the Tabernacle and the Temple comes to a close.’ (From the GCIC article) When Jesus talks about ‘the end of the age’ we see Scripturally both what will come before this end, and what happens at the end of the age. One of the key things we’ll see is when all ethnic groups (pas ethnos, or πᾶς ἔθνος in Greek) have gotten the Gospel to them.

In the final post, we’ll put together both the conclusions here and talk about that pesky Colossians 1:23 passage where Paul proclaims that the Gospel ‘has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven.’

mike

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