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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Advent 1 - Mt 24:36-44 – Key Questions

How does v36 'no one knows...nor the Son' align with Jesus in the 24:34-35 saying that 'this generation will not pass away'?
The stark contrast in these two statements and the apparent contradiction difficult to understand. The fact that v36 has Jesus saying 'nor the Son' would seem to indicate that His statements in v34-35 are not to be contradictory - except for a footnote that I caught in the NIV which said that some transcripts do not have that phrase. That begs the question, whether it was added later, or taken out later. Speculation without further information (maybe someone does...) will probably be pointless.
What is absolutely without question clear, is the statement of verse 36 regarding humankind, and angelkind not knowing when Jesus return will be. This is reemphasized the New Testament, in verses like Acts 1:7.
Spiros Zodhiates in his word study dictionary (in his definition of parousia), seems to place 24:32-35 in context with verses 15-22, which would most likely be refering to the fall of Jerusalem. If someone can justify that linkage, then our answer is here, but I am not clear on how you can avoid the verses in between - 26-31.
I would be interested to explore this more sometime, especially since the verses 34 and 35 have a strong literal link in the phrase 'pass away'. What is meant by that?
To my initial question I cannot offer any significant answer to my question above, sorry! I have not had enough time to really give it proper due. - Anyone else want to take a shot?

What significance is there to the two greek words (parousia and erchomai) used in this passage, which in english are translated 'coming'? How are these words different in meaning? In intent on behalf of the author?
The greek word parousia seems to be used in the New Testament as a early church theological term. In today's terms, it would equate closely with the word 'advent' - funny that!. It's usage in the NT is quite consistent throughout, and it is used infrequently (in comparison) in other senses. The word erchomai, is used far more generally, and would equate closely to how we would use the come.
I also pulled out my handy word study dictionary, which said there are several types of parousia referred to in the NT. The coming after his death to confirm the disciples faith, the coming to enter into a closer spiritual relationship with His disciples (through the Holy Spirit), the coming to remove disciples from the toils and struggles to take them to the place prepared in the Father's house, the coming to at the end of the seven year tribulation period (which I assume is a reference to the fall of Jerusalem).
From my assessment parousia is a technical term used to discuss Christ's coming into our lives and eventually at the end of days. Erchomai on the other hand is used to designate coming (and going) and dependant on adjunct words can take a number of meanings far less technical than parousia.

What does Jesus mean by 'be ready' (v44)?
The verses following this passage put this phrase into context. Jesus uses three illustrations/parables to describe readiness. He puts a rhetorical question forward in verse 45 - "Who then is the wise and faithful servant?" This follows on immediately from the v44. The 'then' in this passage is indicating that this verse applies as an explanation of what He has just said. One could quite safely assert that 'being ready' involves being wise and faithful. The illustration Jesus gives clarifies this further. The wise and faithful are those who accept their responsibility, and are acting on these responsibilities when He returns. The wicked servant in contrast is one who becomes complacent (because Jesus' return is taking so long), and begins to abuse his responsibilities. When Jesus does return, the wicked servant will be caught out.
The second illustration is the parable of the ten virgins, five wise and five foolish. The wise bring extra oil (for their lamps) for the wait, the others do not. When the groom is delayed in coming, the five foolish have run out of oil, and need to restock, and thus being locked out of the party. The point here seems to be the need for endurance and preparedness, despite the waiting period. The five wise were prepared from the outset to wait a long time, the foolish were not in for the long haul.
The third parable is the parable of the talents. Where a different number of talents is given to three servants. When the master returns after being away, to receive a report of how the servants invested the resources, the first two are congratulated, and the third is condemned because they failed to exercise any investment, with what he had been given. The point in this illustration being, that the faithful are to live out their faith, and not simply sit back and wait for Jesus return.
So to answer the initial question "what is meant by being ready?" Being ready involves acceptance of the responsibilty of faith. We are to endure in our faith, expecting that the wait will be long. We are to live Godly lives, and not abuse the freedom that we have as Christians.

1. Structural Diagram
2. Surrounding Context
3. Key Cross References
4. Key Questions
5. Thoughts and Meditation

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