"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words
shall not pass away. But of that
day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the
- Matthew 24:35- 36
Jesus said in
verse 34 that " this generation will not pass away until all these things take
place." Now, in verse 35, He tells
us about one thing that will pass away and another thing that will not pass
away. The passing away in verse 34
would not happen until " all
these things take place." In verse
35 Christ does not mention until
but issues a pronouncement concerning a couple of items- " heaven and earth," and
" My words."
Heaven and Earth will
Verse 35 begins
with the word pair " heavens and earth."
There can be no doubt that this phrase refers back to Genesis 1:1, which
says, " In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Allen Ross explains:
What God created
is here called " the heavens and the earth," a poetic expression (merism)
signifying the whole universe.
Other examples of this poetic device are " day and night" (meaning all
the time) and " man and beast" (meaning all created physical beings). " Heaven and earth" thus indicates not
only the heaven and the earth but everything in them. Genesis 2:4 also uses this expression in a restatement of
the work of creation throughout the six days." 
The Greek word
for " pass away" is parerchomai
and has the general meaning of " come up to;" " pass by," " pass away."  In this context it clearly has the
connotation of " pass away." What
does this mean? Ed Glasscock tells
the unveiling of this " great tribulation" (v. 21) begins, that generation will
not pass away until everything is brought to completion. To add weight to what He had just said,
the Lord added the proclamation that His words were more lasting than even the
universe itself. The heaven and
the earth will be taken away, but what He has proclaimed will last eternally.
verb " pass away" and the double negative ou me both occur in 24:34 and carry the same force in
spite of such a clear statement by our Lord, many full preterists
teach that heaven and earth will not pass away. Rarely does a radio program go by where full preterist John
Anderson does not say something like, " the world will last forever, it will
never be destroyed."  So what do they do with passages like
Matthew 24:35? Full preterist Don
When he spoke of
his coming on the clouds with power and great glory, Jesus was not using
literal language. He was, in the
established manner of Israel' s prophets, using hyperbole to describe the coming
judgment on Israel. And in light
of the consistent figurative application of the passing of heaven and earth to
the destruction of a nation, we can better understand that when Jesus said
" heaven and earth will pass" Mat. 24:35, he was responding to the disciples'
questions about the destruction of Jerusalem, Mat. 24:2. The focus was on the world of Israel, not on material creation.
Even if it can be
established that (in general), Old Testament prophets used language as Preston
claims, which is debatable, there is no basis for using it as he says in the
specific instance of Matthew 24:35.
In fact, I don' t think it can be demonstrated lexically that there is a
single instance where " heaven and earth" is ever used in a hyperbolic,
non-literal way, as claimed by Preston.
Preston' s conclusion is the product of mere assertion and not
exegesis. The only motive for
taking such a view is not a consequence of the study of the biblical text but
is driven by his preterist assumption.
When one examines
the 36 uses of " heaven and earth" in the entire Bible, there is not even one
possible instance of it occurring as a " figurative application of the passing
of heaven and earth to the destruction of a nation." Every use of " heaven and earth" refers to God' s physical
creation as in Genesis 1:1,
with four exceptions (Deut. 4:26; 30:19; 31:28; Jer. 51:48). These other four instances use " heaven
and earth" as angelic and human witnesses. For example, " I call heaven and earth to witness against you
today, . . ." as in Deuteronomy 30:19.
This is clearly nothing like the allegorical understanding that Preston
Since the basis
for saying that " heaven and earth" do not have a physical understanding in
Matthew 24:35 has no lexical basis, nor support from the context, the full
preterist view should be rejected as erroneous, in fact, in serious error. The preterist interpretation not only
nullifies the actual meaning of this passage, but would also distort parallel
passages (Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33), but also similar passages like Matthew 5:18
and Luke 16:17. If the preterist
misunderstanding of this passage were true, Luke 16:17 would read as follows:
" But it is easier for the world of Israel to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to
fail." This is such an absurd view
that it is clear that the preterist mythology cannot stand in light of an
actual exegesis of the text itself.
Christ' s Words Will
NOT Pass Away
clearly states that, " heaven and earth will pass away" one day, but in contrast to that
Christ' s words " shall not pass away."
In order to strengthen the emphasis upon the absolute impossibility of
His words passing away, Christ uses not one, but two Greek words that mean
" not," (grouped together), to say that something will not happen. " The double negative ou me with the subjunctive is the usual form for the
emphatic negation," notes Randolph Yeager. Lenski agrees and says that ou me is
used " all-inclusively" and calls it " the strongest negation." 
speaks in such an authoritative way, He identifies Himself with Old Testament
prophets such as Isaiah (40:8) and Zechariah (1:1- 6). Christ' s statement of the certainty of the fulfillment of
His prophetic word can only mean that He has the stamp of God' s approval on His
ministry. Arno Gaebelein
elucidates as follows:
heaven and earth may pass away but His Words will not pass away. How solemn this is!
Here we read still the same great and mighty Words, which were hated by
thousands of God' s enemies in the past; words which have been attacked and
denied. And still the old enemy of
the written Word is at it, and through his chosen instruments (alas! many of
them in the midst of the professing church) attacks and belittles these
Words. They stand! They are as eternal and divine, as
infallible and true, as He, the eternal Son of God, is from whose lips they
The Day and The Hour
At least six
passages (eight if parallel passages are included) specifically warn believes
against date setting in relation to the second coming and the rapture. First of all, it is clearly impossible
to date-set the time of the rapture since it is a signless, yet imminent
event. How can anyone even come up
with a scheme for date-setting the rapture since we are told to always be
waiting for Christ any-moment return in the air? This explains why rapture date-setters have never used
rapture passages as a basis for their date-setting schemes, since there is
zero-basis in actual rapture passages to attempt what is forbidden. These speculators invariably go to
passages related to Israel (rather than the church), or passages that confuse
the second coming with the rapture.
is enough for something to be stated only once in the Bible for it to be true,
but when God says something many times the emphasis should make such assertions
even clearer. I am listing the specific
passages below so that we can readily see these important biblical admonitions:
24:36 " But of
that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but
the Father alone. Mark 13:32 is an exact parallel.
24:42 " Therefore
be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
24:44 " For this
reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do
not think He will.
25:13 " Be on the
alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Mark 13:33-37 is a parallel passage.
1:7 He said to
them, " It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by
His own authority;
Thessalonians 5:1-2 Now
as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be
written to you. For you yourselves
know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
are absolute prohibitions against date setting. They do not teach that it was impossible to know the date in
the early church, but in the last days some would come to know it. They do not say that no one knows the
day or the hour, except those who are able to figure it out through some scheme. No! The date of Christ' s coming is a matter of God' s revelation
and He has chosen not to reveal it even to Christ in His humanity during His
first advent (Mt. 24:36).
The Bible teaches
that God' s Word is sufficient for everything needed to live a life pleasing
unto Christ (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). This means that if something is not revealed for us in the
Bible then it is not needed to accomplish God' s plan for our lives. The date of Christ' s return is not
stated in the Bible, therefore, in spite of what some may say, knowing it is
not important for living a godly life.
The Lord told Israel " The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but
the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe
all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29).
The date of Christ' s coming has not been revealed, thus it is a secret
belonging only to God.
At least two
things always occur when one mishandles a biblical text: First, the passage at
hand is distorted and one does not learn the lesson intended by the
author. Second, a wrong
understanding produces a false teaching that would not surface, but for the
incorrect handling of a given passage.
This we know from this passage: that heaven and earth will one day pass
away, or as a friend of mine used to say, " its all going to burn." We also equally know that God' s Word is
inerrant, infallible and trustworthy.
It will most certainly come to pass. This is the basis upon which prophecy is built and for that
all Bible-believing Christians can be grateful. Maranatha!
(To Be Continued
. . .)