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Monday, December 03, 2007

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I'd not picked up on this before but I warm to the idea. I suspect however, that as well as the 1 Thess reference, our reading of Matt 24:40-41 is also coloured by our reading of 24:30-31 where the Son of Man appears to gather the elect, so when we read on to v40-41 we also read them in the context of the Son of Man gathering. While such a move may be unfounded; particularly if v37ff is Matthew adding pericopes that illuminate v36, it is understandable: though undermined by the fact that v47 also sees the faithful ones put in charge of all the possesions and the unfaithful ones removed.

Ugh, my blood turns cold at the mention of that "Thief in the Night" film. My RE teacher had a habit of showing it to all his third form (now year 9 I guess) classes and clearly believed it 100%.

I think he was a well intentioned, if somewhat misguided guy, and I was always glad that his death (untimely, but painless) meant he never got to see Europe grow beyond 10 nations or Germany get re-unified. It would have broken his heart to be proved wrong.

Oh, and at the back of drawer somewhere I have a casette tape with Cliff Richard singing that lovely song!!

Thanks to those who have left comments. Glad to know that others have spotted the same things (James, Alex, Michael - thanks for the links to your posts on this Michael).

Fernando: yes, our preacher alluded to this text in the sermon, so maybe it does have some bearing.

Anonymous: thanks for the references. My own background for this is less the Left Behind series and more my own experiences of watching 'Thief in the Night' which the Billy Graham Association used to peddle round churvch youth groups in the mid-80's. In that film, the wicked are definitely left on the earth (with 666 in binary code tatooed on their foreheads - I can still remember the chill of fear that went through me when I decoded it as a 13 year old who had been doing binary code in Maths). That plus singing Larry Norman ...all together now "I wish we'd all been ready'. My understanding is, however, that 1 Thess 4 shapes interpretation of Matt 24 in most cases - to the distortion, I am arguing, of the latter.

Nb. I am also not a fan of anonymous comments - that goes for whoever thinks that repentance is somehow relevant to this post.

Would Matthew 5.5 -'Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth?'- have any relevance here?

Sean,
I did a 4 part series on this. If you do a search on my site (Pisteuomen) and type in "left behind" you'll get the series. Check it out.

At first blush this seems to confirm the idea of Jesus as apocalyptic prophet -- those who were left behind would inherit the earthly kingdom that he anticipated was going to be ushered in by God.

Hey Sean,

I noticed the same thing too a few years ago and pointed it out in a doctrine class. This reading... er, fact about what the text actually says is completely overlooked far too often.

Not sure about the Greek for Pschadenfreude, but a Greek word does come to mind, metanoia :)

Please sir, what's the Greek for schadenfreude?

Sean,

Thank you for the post. Although you do not spell out specifically who you mean by “a whole section of the contemporary church scene,” I suspect you are referencing Dispensationalism. If so, I wonder if you have really done your homework on how Dispensational interpreters have often understood Matthew 24:40. Many Dispensationalist interpreters understand those taken away as those who are taken away to judgment, and this is not anything new. For example, see Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, p. 162, published almost fifty years ago (1958). John Walvoord’s (former president of Dallas Theological Seminary) Thy Kingdom Come, pp. 193–194. This commentary was published over thirty years ago (1974). See also Stanley Toussaint’s Behold the King, p. 281, published in 1980, or Louis Barbieri’s comments in the section on “Matthew” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 79, published in 1983. More recently, see Paul Enn’s article on the “Olivet Discourse” in Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, p. 288, published in 1996. By the way, although I have not read any of the Left Behind series, I suspect that their take is similar to the interpreters above. Did you bother to check?

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