A Response to Ray Comfort’s “The End of the Age?”: Part 1

From: http://www.americanvision.org/garyblog/?p=26

A Response to Ray Comfort’s “The End of the Age?”: Part 1

By Gary DeMar

Ray Comfort has put himself on the front lines defending the Christian faith by confronting the spirit of the age and those who promote it. So Ray, if you ever read this, don’t take it as an attack on you or your ministry. It’s just my attempt to get you to take a fresh look at prophecy. After reading your short article, it seems to me that you have repeated the arguments of others without actually studying the issue for yourself. If I’m wrong about this, I apologize in advance. Either way, it’s my firm conviction that your views on Bible prophecy cannot be supported by a careful reading of the Bible. (Comfort’scomments from his article “The End of the Age?“ are in bold and appeared on the website of Christian Worldview Network on May 14, 2008.)

Don’t let doomsday prophets fool you. Just because there’s been another big earthquake, it doesn’t signal the end of the world. It does, however, bring us closer to what the Bible calls “the end of the age.” Do you want evidence that the Bible is the Word of God? Of course you don’t, but here it is anyway: Look at the signs the Bible speaks of (combined from Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 Timothy 4; and 2 Timothy 3), and relate that to contemporary life on earth.

I was hopeful when you began your article with “Don’t let doomsday prophets fool you” and your admonition that another big earthquake does not “signal the end of the world.” Then you had to throw in “however” and appeal to the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). The Olivet Discourse is describing what will take place before “this generation” passes away” (Matt. 24:34). The events of Matthew 24 take place before “this generation” passes away (v. 34). Jesus always uses “this generation” to refer to His contemporaries (Matt. 11:16; 12:41, 42; 23:36; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 17:25; 21:32). He never uses “this generation” to refer to a future generation.

For those who claim that “generation” (genea) really means “race,” there are two problems. First, the Greek word genea cannot be made to mean “race,” as in the “Jewish race.” Genea means “generation” (e.g., Matt. 1:17; Luke 1:48; 9:41; Acts 14:16; 15:21; Eph. 3:5; Col. 1:26). The Greek word for “race” is genos. If Jesus had wanted to identify the Jewish race, He could have used genos. He didn’t. Second, there is the logic of the verse. If genea is translated as “race,” as in the “Jewish race,” then Matthew 24:34 would read, “This Jewish race will not pass away until all these things take place.” So when “all these things take place,” the Jewish race will pass away. One additional argument needs to be dealt with.

A popular way to interpret Matthew 24:34 is to have it read like this: “The generation that sees these signs will not pass away until all these things take place.” I can get a verse to say almost anything if I get to add words to it. Also, notice how “the” is substituted for “this.” We are told by Jesus which generation will see “all these things”: “so, YOU too, when YOU see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matt. 24:33). The “you” is a reference to Jesus’ audience. Follow the use of “you” throughout the chapter and notice that the second person plural refers to Jesus’ present audience (Matt. 24:2, 4, 6, 9, 15, etc.). If Jesus had a future generation in mind, He would have said “when that generation passes away.” Jesus uses the near demonstrate “this” to indicate the generation that was present with Him. One last point needs to be considered. Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that Jesus was referring to a future generation. What words would He have used if He had wanted to specify that it was His first-century audience that would see all these things? He couldn’t have used “you” or “this generation” since futurists claim these words refer to a future time and audience. To be continued. . .