The Old Testament
The law / Old Testament "the school-master to Christ," had carnal ordinances of worship -food and drink and various ceremonial washings- imposed until the time of reformation, and was ordered and given by angels to the twelve-tribe nation of Israel, but they did not keep it. (Acts 7:53, Heb. 9:10)
The testator of the Old Testament was “God, the Master of everything,” who entered into a treaty with the fleshly children of Abraham, Israel:
“I swore to you, and entered into a covenant with you, said the Lord GOD, and you became mine.” (Ez. 16:8b)
But where there is a testament, there is also a need for death of the one who made the testament, that's why God inaugurated it with the blood of calves and goats by saying:
“Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God has enjoined to you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” (Heb. 9:20-23)
This testament made the twelve-tribe nation liable to the testator. If they showed obedience, God would make them a chosen people among all nations as well as a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. He would be an enemy of the enemies of the people of Israel and against those who would be against Israel. On the other hand, any disobedience would bring the wrath of the testator, he would turn against the people of Israel, and he would scatter them to all nations. (Heb. 9:18, Lev. Chap. 26)
“Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Ex. 19:5-6)
A warped and crooked generation
The Testator of the Old Testament calls the fleshly Israel “a stiff-necked people” and “a warped and crooked generation,” and Moses, the faithful servant of God, testifies and says:
“Furthermore the LORD spoke to me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people:” (Deu. 9:13)
“Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then you rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and you believed him not, nor listened to his voice. You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.” (Deu. 9:23-24)
They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deu. 32:5)
Israel's apostasy and defiance led them to worship foreign gods, such as Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, Molek the god of the Ammonites, and others, until, during Solomon's reign, God divided the kingdom of Israel into two houses, the kingdom of Israel with ten tribes and the city of Samaria as its capital, and the kingdom of Judah with two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) and the city of Jerusalem as its capital. (I Kings chap. 11 and 12)
The two houses are led to captivity because of their defiance
“Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn you from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets ……. And they rejected his statutes …… and they followed vanity, and became vain ……. And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal ……. and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger ……. Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. …….. Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria to this day.” (II Kings 17:3-23)
“The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king, Have you seen that which backsliding Israel has done? she is gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there has played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn you to me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to me with her whole heart, but feignedly, said the LORD.” (Jer. 3:6-10)
Jerusalem the harlot
God, in addressing Jerusalem (the house of Judah) through Ezekiel, says to it:
“Why, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD: Thus said the Lord GOD; Because your filthiness was poured out, and your nakedness discovered through your prostitutions with your lovers, and with all the idols of your abominations, and by the blood of your children, which you did give to them; Behold, therefore I will gather all your lovers, with whom you have taken pleasure, and all them that you have loved, with all them that you have hated; I will even gather them round about against you, and will discover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness. And I will judge you, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give you blood in fury and jealousy.” (Ez. 16:35-38)
Likewise, through prophet Isaiah, he says:
“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.” (Is. 1:21)
And the Lord said: “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.” (II Kings 23:27)
“And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, to Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire.” (II King 25:8-9)
And Judah too was relocated from his land to Babylon (587 BC). The relocation was completed in four phases.
The consequences of the disobedience of the people of Israel are described by God through Jeremiah as follows:
“Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria has devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones.” (Jer. 50:17)
With the rebuilding of the Temple, which was done with the support of the Persian kings, a continuation was given to the theocratic schismatic Israel until the final destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. (See Ezra, Nehemiah)
“And the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” (Ezra 6:14)
The Temple legitimized Judaism as a religion and the strictly biological descendants of Abraham as a nation. The final destruction of the Temple by the Roman Emperor Titus delegitimized both of them. The worshipping habits of the Hebrews, which were derived from the Mosaic Law and served “unto an example and shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5), were discontinued and replaced by the "in spirit and truth" worship of the true worshippers “in Christ,” within the true heavenly Temple of Jesus' body. (John 4:23)
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” (Heb. 9:11-12)
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God …….. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:10-23)
So why was the law given to the twelve-tribe nation?
“It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” (Gal. 3:19-20)
“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” (Gal. 3:16)
The law had age-related character with birth, adulthood and old age
“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot cancel, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Gal. 3:17-18)
“And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he said, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. 8:11-13)
The law testified / reflected the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Rom. 3:21-22)
The law was the schoolmaster to Christ not the philosophers
“But, before the faith came, we were kept guarded under law, being shut up to the faith about to be revealed. So that the law has become our tutor [to lead us] to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But the faith having come, we are no longer under a tutor; for ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as were immersed into Christ, did put on Christ. There exists neither Jew nor Greek, there exists neither bond nor free, there exists neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And, if ye are Christ's, ye are, consequently, Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise.” (Gal. 3:23-29 Worrel)
After the Babylonian captivity the law was given an extension of time until the coming of Christ who was Jesus
“For he (Paul) mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” (Acts 18:28)
The rebuilding of the temple and the return of the descendants of Abraham to Jerusalem was a time extension for the fleshly Israel (as the people of God) and for Jerusalem below (as the Holy City), attributes derived from the law, “till the seed that is Christ should come.” This time extension was appointed by God until his promises would be fulfilled, as Daniel, who received mercy from God, informs us:
“Seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your holy city, (a) to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, (b) and to make reconciliation for iniquity, (c) and to bring in everlasting righteousness, (d) and to seal up the vision and prophecy, (e) and to anoint the most Holy.” (Dan. 9:24)
The fulfillment of the five points of Daniel's prophecy in the New Testament
(a) To finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins
“For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.” (Acts 13:27-28)
“But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted to you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:14-15)
The crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of the first church, which was his body, by the Jewish deniers, were the culmination of the offense and sin of the rulers and those who lived in Jerusalem.
“For you, brothers, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for you also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, (Acts chap. 17) even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come on them to the uttermost.” (I Thes. 2:14-16)
(b) And to make reconciliation for iniquity
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 8:12)
“Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God …….” (Rom. 3:25)
“Why in all things it behooved him to be made like to his brothers, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Heb.2:17)
(c) And to bring in everlasting righteousness
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe: for there is no difference;” (Rom. 3:21)
“But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (I Cor. 1:30)
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.” (Rom, 10:4)
“For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14)
“As he said also in another place, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5:6)
(d) And to seal up the vision and prophecy
“And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (Mat. 3:15)
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Mat. 5:17)
“But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled.” (Acts 3:18)
“For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” (Luk. 22:37)
“For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.” (Acts 13:27)
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.” (Luk. 21:20-22)
(e) And to anoint the most Holy
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised ….” (Luk. 4:18)
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
“For of a truth against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together ……” (Acts 4:27)
The New Testament is the end of the Mosaic Law
End = the fulfillment||completion of everything||its consummation||the result||not its termination or its ending||to be complete or perfect||perfection||perfect age||the man’s completion||the man’s perfect age||the man’s age. (Dictionary: Liddell- Scott)
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.” (Rom. 10:4)
“But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he said, Behold, the days come, said the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, said the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” (Heb. 8:6-10, 9:8-10)
God, however, is not only of the Hebrews but also of the Nations
“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8)
The promise of blessing stipulated the participation in it of both Israel (the sheep) and the nations (the beasts).
“And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.” (Hosea 2:18)
This understanding led the Apostle Peter to go to Cornelius, thus inaugurating the preaching of the gospel of life to the gentiles:
“And he saw heaven opened, and there descended to him a certain vessel, as a great sheet with chains at the four corners, and resting upon the earth: in which were all the quadrupeds of the earth, and wild beasts, and reptiles, and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; slay and eat.” (Acts 10:11-13, Haweis)
“In that he said, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. 8:13)
The New Testament is complete, perfect and eternal / endless
God the Testator will never change his New Testament or modify / correct it (Heb. 9:10) as he did with the Old Testament. He will neither add to it nor subtract from it. He will neither cancel it nor terminate it. Because he sealed it with his own blood, and it is eternal as he is eternal.
Testament = Disposal of property in accordance with the will of the deceased holder. (Stamatakos’ Dictionary)
“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator lives.” (Heb. 9:16-17)
“Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
“For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14)
“They have trusted with confidence for ever, the great, the eternal God;” (Is. 26:4, LXXE)
“For how sayest thou, I am righteous, yet he has not hearkened to me? for he that is above mortals is eternal.” (Job 33:12, LXXE)
The resurrected Jesus is the Eternal Testament and its guarantor
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant …..” (Heb. 13:20)
“And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.” (Acts 13:34)
“Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” (Is. 55:3)
“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” (Heb. 7:22)
Jesus is an eternal high priest, with no ending
“For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said to him, The Lord swore and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:” (Heb. 7:21)
“But this man, because he continues ever, has an unchangeable priesthood.
Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:24-25)
The “new” and the “old”
“For there is truly a cancellation of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw near to God.” (Heb. 7:18-19)
The “New” replaced the “Old.” But, in order for the “old” to pass away, the written terms of the Old Covenant of God with Israel had to be executed for the violators of the law (see Lev. chap. 26). These terms of the law were executed with his wrath upon the disobedient Jews and the destruction of the constructed temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans. The temple was built according to the pattern of the worldly tabernacle, which was a type of the heavenly one and was replaced with the true tabernacle that came. (Heb. 9:11 WH)
Jesus’ body is the true heavenly temple
“Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days? But he spoke of the temple of his body.” (John 2:20-21)
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent ( not made with hands, that is, not of this creation).” (Heb. 9:11)
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:22)
The Jews always resisted the Holy Spirit
As did the fathers of the children of Israel who “rejected the decrees of God and His covenant,” they too rejected the “New Testament” and “did not consider themselves worthy of eternal life.” (II Kings 17:15, Acts 13:46)
And Stephen said: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53)
Jesus cried for the coming sufferings in Jerusalem
“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.” (Is. 1:21)
“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come on you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side,
And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone on another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.” (Luk. 19:41-44)
The woes of the Lord were fulfilled in the twelve-tribe nation in the generation of the apostles
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth (of Israel) mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Mat. 24:30)
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Mat. 3:7)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Why you be witnesses to yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill you up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?
Why, behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you whip in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth,(0f Israel) from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, All these things shall come on this generation.” (Mat. 23:29-36)
The disobedient Jews were the receivers of God’s wrath
The provisions of the Old Testament promised judgment to the impious and lawless ones, the violators of the Mosaic Law. But God's forbearance always gave time for repentance and return.
“And refused to obey, neither were mindful of your wonders that you did among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but you are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsook them not.” (Nehemiah 9:17)
But now the sons of those who killed the prophets completed what their fathers started by killing the “Author of life” and many of the ones sent to them by Jesus, hindering the dissemination of the message of the gospel of life. Thus their house was left desolate, and the anger of God's wrath came upon them to the end.
Note: The Jews who denied Jesus did not kill Christ with their own hands, but with political deceit "Whoever makes himself a king opposes Caesar" received His death sentence from the Roman governor of Judea Pontius Pilate which then executed by the Romans soldiers.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, You shall not see me from now on, till you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.” (Mat. 23:37-39)
The blessed ones were the ones sent by the Lord Jesus Christ and “turned the world upside down” with the message of eternal life. Whoever accepted the Lord's blessed ones also accepted life, which was Jesus, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” (John 11:25) –Ed.
“He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives him that sent me.” (Mat. 10:40)
Paul to the Thessalonians
“For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus, because you suffered the same things from your fellow countrymen, just as they [did] from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and [are] hostile to all men, forbidding us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved, so as always to fill up [the measure of] their sins; but the wrath [of God] has come upon them to the uttermost.” (I Thes. 2:14-16, EMTV)
A brief reference to Thessaloniki
“The city of Thessaloniki, at the time of Paul's arrival there, was not a Roman military colony such as Corinth and Philippi, but enjoyed the rights of a free city, governed by seven city officials (Acts 17:6-8) who were elected by the citizens and were accountable to the Roman proconsul (Acts 17:7-8). Most of its inhabitants were Greeks, as well as several Romans and numerous Jews, who had a congregation and exercised considerable influence on the population and proselytism among the Gentiles. Along with the mixed population, Thessaloniki was also distinguished for the diversity of religions. Archaeologists assert cults of the Roman pantheon and the emperor as well as other deities of the East such as Cabirus, Isis, Serapis and Osiris. Thessalonian coins with Julius Caesar's head as a god were also found.” (Introduction to the New Testament, Christos Sp. Voulgaris, Vol. A, pp. 575-7)
The birth of the church of Thessaloniki by Paul and Silas is mentioned by Luke in Acts in chapter 17:
“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.” (Acts 17:1-4)
So Luke says that some of the Jews were persuaded, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. So the church of Christ in Thessaloniki was multi-ethnic and became a model "to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia." (I Thessalonians 1:7)
Who troubled the Thessalonian believers
“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;” (II Thes. 1:6)
The fellow citizens / compatriots who troubled them were the Thessalonian Jews with a Rome-friendly attitude, and they prevented Paul and Silas from speaking to the Gentiles to save themselves.
“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took to them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brothers to the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come here also; Whom Jason has received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.” (Acts 17:5-7)
The same Thessalonian Jews took hostile action against Paul and Silas in Veria.
“But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.” (Acts 17:13)
So Paul rightly and truthfully said: “Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come on them to the uttermost.” (I Thes. 2:16)
Jesus targets the tenants of the vineyard as the recipients of his wrath
“The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for you have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.” (Is. 3:14)
The parable of the vineyard and the tenants
“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dig a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to farmers, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the farmers, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the farmers took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did to them likewise. But last of all he sent to them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” (Mat. 21” 33-39)
“WHEN THE LORD therefore of the vineyard COMES, what will he do to those farmers?
They say to him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other farmers, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” (Mat. 21:40-41)
“And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.” (Mat. 21:45-46)
And indeed the Lord came and destroyed the bad tenants of his vineyard, the murderers, and the transgressors of the law, and the deniers of his love, and he demolished their temple, completing the century of the Mosaic Law with the executed written judgments.
“But Jesus turning to them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luk. 23:28-31)
“And woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Mat. 24:19-21)
“And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 16-17)
What the Jewish high priests knew about the clouds
“Jesus said to him (Caiaphas), “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mat. 26:64)
“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth (the twelve tribes of Israel) will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” (Rev. 1:7)
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up (on a cloud), behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner (on the clouds) as you have seen him go into heaven .” (Acts. 1:9-11)
The “shall ye see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven” was of particular importance to the Jews to whom Jesus was addressing because they knew the Hebrew scriptures that God brought his judgment to the impious ones “on the clouds.” The fact that they would see him coming on the clouds of heaven meant that the wrath of God would come upon them.
Biblical references to the clouds
“The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the middle of it.” (Is. 19:1)
“Also can any understand the spreading of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?
Behold, he spreads his light on it, and covers the bottom of the sea. For by them judges he the people; he gives meat in abundance.” (Job 36:29-31)
Jesus, speaking to the Hebrews, said:
“For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself; And has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” ( John 5:26-27)
The Hebrews always killed the prophets of God
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Why you be witnesses to yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill you up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Mat. 23:29-33)
The Hebrews killed the author of Life
“But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a man who was a murderer be released to you. You killed the Originator of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this fact we are witnesses!” (Acts 3:14 NET)
The Hebrews killed the ones sent by Jesus and persecuted the first church drawing the wrath of God
“And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like to a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatted calves are killed, and all things are ready: come to the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.” (Mat. 22:1-6)
“But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, (the Romans) and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” (Mat. 22:7)
All prophets spoke of the wrath of God upon the impious violators of the Mosaic Law
“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Is. 33:14)
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment on all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude to Hebrews 1:14-15)
“And thou, son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may cease from their sins; and [shew] its aspect and the arrangement of it. And they shall bear their punishment for all the things that they have done: and thou shalt describe the house, and its entrances, and the plan thereof, and all its ordinances, and thou shalt make known to them all the regulations of it, and describe [them] before them: and they shall keep all my commandments, and all my ordinances, and do them.” (Ez. 43:10-11 LXXE)
“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Also, you son of man, thus said the Lord GOD to the land of Israel; An end, the end is come on the four corners of the land. Now is the end come on you, and I will send my anger on you, and will judge you according to your ways, and will recompense on you all your abominations. And my eye shall not spare you, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense your ways on you, and your abominations shall be in the middle of you: and you shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ez. 7:1-4)
“Woe to them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude to Hebrews 1:11)
“Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Mat. 3:12)
Jesus foretold when the end of the Temple of Jerusalem would come, which was a “copy” of the heavenly temple and a pillar of the theocratic Israel
“AND Jesus departing was going his way from the temple: and his disciples came to him, to point out to his observation the buildings of the temple. But Jesus said unto them, Do you not see all these things? I tell you of a certainty, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be utterly thrown down. Then as he was sitting upon the mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall there things be? and what is the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the age?” (Mat. 24:1-3 Haweis)
Note: According to the Greek text “the consummation of the age” is the correct translation for Matthew (24:3b). (Grk txt: συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος; = consummation of the age). Τhe AKJV says “the end of the world” that is wrong.
To the disciples' questions, Jesus always answered clearly and in an explanatory way.
(Ι) When will these things happen?
The great commandment had to be fulfilled first
“And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luk. 24:44-47)
And He said to them, "Going into all the world, preach the Gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Mat. 24:14)
The great commandment was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in the generation of the apostles
“And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:20)
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes truly, their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” (Rom. 10:17-18)
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come to you, as it is in all the world; and brings forth fruit, as it does also in you, since the day you heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:” (Col. 1:3-6)
“If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” (Col. 1:23)
“Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.” (Rom. 16:25-27)
(ΙΙ) And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end/consummation of the age?
The disciples didn’t ask when the end of the world would come. Jesus never spoke to them about the end of the world. Jesus acted in Judea, among the Hebrews, and both his teaching and his conversations with them always concerned issues of their turbulent history and the Mosaic Law, which was to be set aside because of its uselessness and to be replaced by the eternal gospel of God's grace. Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise of God that gives life and “that life in abundance” to the repentant. Jesus didn’t come to destroy the world; he was the one who “takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
“The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
The disciples' discussion with Jesus concerned the demolition of the constructed Temple, which was the largest institution of Judaism and its ritual, which was inconceivable for the Hebrews to happen. The Temple legitimized Judaism as a religion, and the Jews as a nation; its collapse would lead to the discontinuation of both.
The use of the singular in the disciples' question makes the “presence” and “the end of the age” interrelated and interdependent events. The end of the age of the Mosaic Law of the allegories and types, was not going to happen without the Presence of the Son of Man on the clouds, in his Father's glory with his holy angels, the one who would “execute judgment” and would “take vengeance” on the violators of the law. (Mat. 16:27, 24:30)
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Mat. 16:27)
“And to you who are troubled (“through the plots of the Jews”) rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God (“ they know not him that sent me”) and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” (II Thes. 1:7-9)
The sign of the presence and vengeance of the Lord Jesus
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies (the Romans), then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth (of Israel) and wrath against this people (the Jewish people).” (Luk. 21:20-24)
The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by the hand of Malachi
“For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the LORD who rules over all. “It will not leave even a root or branch. But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication will rise with healing wings, and you will skip about like calves released from the stall.” (Mal. 4:1-2 NET)
It shall leave them neither root nor branch
“For the evil man shall have no posterity: and the light of the wicked shall be put out.” (Pro. 24:20 LXXE)
The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by the hand of John the Baptist
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Mat. 3:11-12)
Jesus’ warnings and the apostles’ advice to the persecuted church by the Jews
“Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do to you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.” (John 15:20-21)
“Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not ………. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord. Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:14-21)
“For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, said the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:30-31)
The first church believed in the words of the Lord Jesus and the apostles, and waited for the presence / coming of the son of man and the end of the age of the Mosaic Law in its own generation, something that was done
“When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Mat. 10:23)
“Truly I say to you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Mat. 16:28)
Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:22-23)
The disciple to whom this word was spoken was biologically alive, as well as other disciples of the first church, when the Lord Jesus came to destroy the bad tenants and to redeem those who expected him. –Ed.
“But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then said he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.” (Mat. 22:7)
“And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is near.” (Luk. 21:20)
“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Mat. 24:27-28)
The corpse was Jerusalem, and the gathering of the vultures was the multinational Roman army. The event wouldn't go unnoticed, just like lightning can't go unnoticed.
In Job, it says about the impious one: “And he has been appointed to be food for vultures; and he knows within himself that he is doomed to be a carcass: and a dark day shall carry him away as with a whirlwind.” (Job 15:23 LXXE)
The carrion birds
“I will gather evils upon them, and will fight with my weapons against them. [They shall be] consumed with hunger and the devouring of birds, and there shall be irremediable destruction: I will send forth against them the teeth of wild beasts, with the rage of [serpents] creeping on the ground.” (Deu. 32:23-24 LXXE)
“And I will punish them with four kinds [of death], saith the Lord, the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the wild beasts of the earth, and the birds of the sky to devour and destroy.” (Jer. 15:3 LXXE)
“And, you son of man, thus said the Lord GOD; Speak to every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh, and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatted calves of Bashan.” (Ez. 39:17-18, see also Rev. 19:17-18)
“But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” (Mat. 22:7)
The end of the age (not the end of the world)
Age = span||period of time||the duration of somebody’s life||era||generation.
The disciples knew the teaching of the Lord. They knew that the promise of life had been fulfilled. The old law of sin and death gave its place to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:2)
“Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” (II Cor. 3:6)
The age of the ministry of the Mosaic Law and its ritual is over.
“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (I Cor. 10:11)
“Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:25-26)
The kingdom of God was removed from the fleshly Israel and was given to the spiritual Israel.
“Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Mat. 21:43)
The end of the age, the Mosaic Law and the state of Israel, was completed with the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, which was the greatest symbol of Judaism. The evidence of the rituals of the Mosaic Law was burnt, "the elements will be destroyed by fire" (2 Peter 3:10), the Jewish priests stopped ministering, the priestly outfits, the animal sacrifices, the offerings, the incenses, the glorious feasts, the voices of guitarists and musicians, the light of the seven-branched candelabra, everything stopped.
The first Christians knew that the presence of the Lord was imminent, and that all this would happen in Jerusalem and the Jewish nation, and they lived “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.” (II Peter to Hebrews 3:12)
“But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch to prayer.” (I Peter to Hebrews 4:7)
Jesus Christ the faithful and true martyr fulfilled what God had promised through his prophets
“Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove on the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.”(Dan. 7:2-3)
The book of Daniel interprets that the four great beasts that came out from the sea are four kingdoms -Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman- that ruled the land of Israel and over the house of Jacob.
“ [As for] me Daniel, my spirit in my body trembled, and the visions of my head troubled me. And I drew near to one of them that stood by, and I sought to learn of him the truth of all these things: and he told me the truth, and made known to me the interpretation of the things. These four beasts are four kingdoms [that] shall rise up on the earth: which shall be taken away; and the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess it for ever and ever.” (Dan. 7:15-18 LXXE)
The angel said to Mary: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luk. 1:32-33)
“But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come to you.” (Mat. 12:28)
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan. 2:44)
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5-6)
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