This Generation Shall not Pass

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

Recently I have come to appreciate Jesus’ saying as recorded by Saint Matthew, who is one of the “foundations” of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21.14; Ephesians 2.20 – and, yes, I defend the thesis that Matthew, Jesus’ disciple and Apostle, wrote this gospel).  Jesus said, “Think not that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets.  I have not come to destroy them, but fulfill them.  Truly I say to you that until heaven and earth pass not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law until all is accomplished” (5.17-18).  After Matthew has set the stage in the first four “chapters” (there are no chapters in the Scriptures, we put those in there), he launches the mission of Jesus in chapter 5, known popularly as ‘the sermon on the mound.’  It frames the whole mission of Jesus.  He came to fulfill every single jot and tittle of the Scriptures, and not one jot or tittle shall pass away until every single jot and tittle is accomplished.  We know that many jots and tittles have indeed been fulfilled, never to be repeated.  But, even these will not pass away until every single one is fulfilled.  Then they will pass away.

But, that was in another blog-article I wrote, so I won’t cover that here.  What I want to cover here is the fact that Jesus said that “heaven and earth” will pass away, too, along with the jots and tittles of Scripture (that is, in the new heavens and new earth, we won’t be comparing translations or Bible versions, or noting if P46 should be read over the Alexandrian Text. The word of God will, in its fullness, be written in us – I won’t need a “Bible” in heaven).  This statement lead me to another one recorded by the blessed Apostle, Matthew found in 24.34-36.

There, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”  The grammatical structure here is almost exactly like that of 5.17-18.  I have to delve a little into the Greek, so forgive me.

“Truly, I say to you” is the same in both passages.  The word “pass away” (parerchomai) is the same in both texts.  The subjunctive phrase, starting with “until” (eos an) is the same.  And, of course, “heaven and earth” is given the same rendering ( ho ouranos kai he ge), where ‘heaven’ is singular.  Thus,

Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας· οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαιἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται (Matthew’s text, 5.17-18)

ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ἕως ἂν πάντα ταῦτα γένηται. ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσεται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσιν.  Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης καὶ ὥρας οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι τῶν οὐρανῶν οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός, εἰ μὴ ὁ πατὴρ μόνος (Matthew’s text, 24.34-36).

I have placed in bold the similarities in syntax.  The similarities are certainly remarkable as well as the subject matter.  The translation, or my translation, of 24.34-36 is, “Truly I say to you that this generation shall by no means pass away until all these things be accomplished.  The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but by no means will my words pass away.  Now, concerning that day (when the heaven and the earth pass away) and hour no one knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the son, except the father only.”  No one knows this day except the Father.  Not even the son of man, Jesus (the human being).

Now, first and foremost, it is a virtually settled matter that a great deal of, if not most, of what Jesus said in the previous verses (24.1-34) occurred in the generation of the first followers of him.  There is no shortage of materials showing that from the earliest post-first generation of the Church to today that Jesus is pointing to the razing of Jerusalem, the exile of Israel from here land, and the calamities that surrounded those years (up until 66-73, even until 135 A.D. with the Simon Bar-Kokhba Revolt.  That Jewish revolt left reportedly 580,000 Jews dead after a three and a half years siege by the Romans under Emperor Hadrian.  Jerusalem had been renamed Aelia Capitolina, named after Hadrian’s family line and the god, Jupiter.  Hadrian, after the Kokhba Revolt renamed Israel, Syria Palaestina (you may have heard the name, Palestine in the newspapers)).

The disciples had originally asked Jesus, which was in the air at his time, when the end of the world would be (24.1-3).  Jesus answers them in so many words that there will be coming catastrophes against Israel so great that if God didn’t cut them short, the extermination would be unreal.  This is typical Bible-speak for “the days ahead don’t look good”.  And, provided with historical accounts of that period, they weren’t good at all for Jews, Christians, and Jewish Christians.  After Caesar Vespasian sent his son, Titus (who would later become Caesar Emperor) to destroy Jerusalem, the situation for the Jewish people was grim.  After Hadrian, it was almost complete annihilation.  Christians also suffered great persecution beginning with Nero Caesar (65 A.D.) and ending with Maximinus II in 311 A.D.  Amazingly, Christianity not only survived, but thrived in numbers during those centuries following that first “generation”.

Somehow, I got stuck on history!  Back to the topic!  The question the disciples asked concerned the end of the word, or age, in their theology at that time.  We have all wanted to know when it will all end.  Virtually every religion has some sort of “end” to it, and even the atheistic community has an eventual burnout of the solar system.  The Bible is not lost on this basic, fundamental question.  And, Jesus answers them, first with telling them what will happen to them in their generation (and, with what would happen in every succeeding generation of Christians who bear the testimony of Jesus – famines, persecutions, wars, rumors of wars, calamity, uprisings, tumult, and the like).  But, keeping that generation specifically in mind, Jesus lets them know that the days ahead are not paved with gold, but with blood.

In the verses preceding verse 34, Jesus also lets them know that He, the Son of Manis in charge.  He will “send his angels” (the son of man has angels at his command?  A man has the power to send angels?).  He will come with the clouds of the heavens (which is descriptive only of God!).  The son of man will judge and protect and gather together his people, whom he has foreknown from eternity, gathering them together as a mother hen gathers her chicks.  In other words, all hell is coming after the Church, but the Church will prevail because Jesus is their Defender.  This message has comforted millions of persecuted souls over the span of history and has given them the hope that in spite of mutilations for Christ, Christ is King!

But, Jesus does eventually get to the passing away of heaven and earth.  And, interestingly, the words “that day and hour” refers to this.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but that day and hour no one knows.”  He doesn’t tell them.  And we don’t know, either.  It will happen, as surely as the jots and tittles are all accomplished, “heaven and earth will pass away” along with the jots and tittles.

The fact that Matthew has so structured the saying in 5.17-18 with 24.34,35 provides us with a remarkable deduction from these two texts.  1. Whatever one wants to have “fulfilled” in the Destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, it was not the accomplishment of every jot and tittle (else they, too, would have passed away).  2.  It was not the passing away of heaven and earth (for, if that were the case, then every jot and tittle would equally pass away, which they have not).  What is of interest here is that that generation did “pass away”, which is the same word used.  Therefore, we know what “pass away” means when Matthew used it here and there.  That generation is no longer here.  They have passed away.  And, if we applied this meaning to “jots and tittles” then they would not be here, either!  That’s what “pass away” means.  “This generation shall not disappear until all things are fulfilled.”  The “all things” concerns only those things spoken of that were to happen to them, but, clearly, the jots and tittles of the Hebrew Scriptures (the law and the prophets) are still here with us!  Therefore, also, heaven and earth in both passages are speaking of the normal, everyday understanding (and biblical understanding) of what ‘heaven and earth’ means; the things you see “up there”, and the dirt you walk on “down here.”  Jesus is specifically telling them that great tribulations were going to come upon his generation, and that his generation would, indeed, pass away.  Heaven and earth will also pass away, but not until every jot and tittle of the Scriptures are accomplished.  This is Matthew’s way of telling the readers, don’t confuse this, with that, because this is not that.  Concerning that day and hour, no one knows except God the Father.

In conclusion, then, Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets, the Hebrew Scriptures, down to every jot and tittle.  Not one jot or tittle, after he finishes doing what he is doing, will pass away (be removed) until he has fulfilled every single one of them.  That means, that every jot and tittle will remain until every single one of them are accomplished.  Then, and only then, will they be removed, along with the heaven and the earth (which, too, will pass away).  That generation of the first believers and disciples of Christ has “passed away.”  They are gone.  Their bodies have long been decomposed.  This tells us what “passed away” or “disappears” means in the Matthaen lingua.  So, have the written “yods” (jots) and keraiai (strokes of a pen) passed away?  No.  Then, neither has “heaven and earth.”  They will.  When?  When the Son of Man accomplishes everything written.  When is that?  Only the Father knows.

 

Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Samuel M. Frost has gained the recognition of his family, peers, colleagues, church members, and local community as a teacher and leader.  Samuel was raised in the Foursquare Gospel tradition and continued in the rising Charismatic Movement of the early 1980’s.  While serving in local congregations he was admitted to Liberty Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where he lived on campus for four years earning his Bachelor’s of Theology degree.  It was there under the tutelage of Dr. Dow Robinson (Summer Institutes of Linguistics), and Dr. Frank Longino (Dallas Theological Seminary) that he was motivated to pursue a career in Theology.  Dr. Robinson wrote two books on Linguistics, Workbook on Phonological Analysis (SIL, 1970) and Manuel for Bilingual Dictionaries: Textbook (SIL, 1969).  It was under these teachers’ guidance that Frost entered into his Master’s studies, being granted a scholarship for Greek I and II at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, accredited, in Cleveland, Tennessee (adjunct of Lee University).  Frost completed his study under Dr. French Arrington, who used the text of J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners. Frost studied Hebrew for two years under Dr. Mark Futato (author, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Eisenbrauns, 2003) and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke (author, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, 1990) at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. With combined credits from PTS and RTS, Samuel completed his Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Religion from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida under the direct tutelage of Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, co-author of the well reviewed work, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Whitefield Media, 2005) with Dr. Gary Crampton (and Foreword by the late, Dr. D. James Kennedy).  Dr. Talbot also oversaw Samuel’s Dissertation, From the First Adam to the Second and Last Adam (2012) earning him the Magister Theologiae (Th.M.) degree.  He also helped put together A Student’s Hebrew Primer for WTS and graded exams in Hebrew. Samuel’s studies lead him into an issue in the field of Eschatology where his scholarship and unique approach in Hermeneutics garnered him recognition.  Because of the controversial nature of some of his conclusions, scholars were sharp in their disagreement with him.  Frost’s initial work, Misplaced Hope: The Origins of First and Second Century Eschatology (2002, Second Edition, 2006 Bi-Millennial Publishing), sold over four thousand units.  While arguing for the Reformation understanding of sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Frost’s book launched a heavily footnoted argument for a total reassessment of the doctrine known as the Second Coming of Christ.  The conclusion was that the events of the war of the Jewish nation against their Roman overlords in 66-70 C.E. formed the New Testament authors’ eschatological outlook, and went no further than their own first century generation; a view otherwise known as “full” or "hyper" Preterism.  Internationally recognized Evangelical author and speaker Steve Wohlberg remarked, ‘On the “preterist” side today…we have such influential leaders as Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., David Chilton, R.C. Sproul, Max King, James Stuart Russell, Samuel M. Frost, and John Noe.  To these scholars…the beast is not on the horizon, he’s dead” (Italics, his)” (End Time Delusions, Destiny Image Publishers, 2004, page 133).  It should be noted that only Noe, King and Frost supported the “full” Preterist position. Thomas Ice and co-author of the best selling Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, quote Frost’s work, Misplaced Hope, as well in their book, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Harvest House Publishers, 2003, page 40).  Dr. Jay E. Adams, who single handedly launched “a revolution” in Christian Counseling with his work, Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, (1970, Zondervan), also wrote an analysis of Frost’s work in Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Ministry Monographs for Modern Times, INS Publishing, 2004).  Dr. Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, wrote of Misplaced Hope that Frost, “attacks the problem of the early church in a much more thoroughgoing way than I have seen” (When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper Preterism, Ed. Keith Mathison, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2003, ‘Eschatology in the Wake of Jerusalem’s Fall’ p. 110-ff.).  There were several other works as well that took the scholarship of Frost seriously, like Ergun Caner in The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective, Eds., Steve W. Lemke and David L. Allen (B&H Publishing, 2011). Because of the controversial nature of Frost’s conclusions on these matters, it was difficult to find a denomination within the Church-at-Large to work in terms of pastoral ministry.  That situation changed when Samuel was called by a Bible study group in Saint Petersburg, Florida to found a congregation.  Christ Covenant Church was established in 2002 operating under the principles outlined by Presbyterian historian James Bannerman’s work, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, original, 1869).  By-Laws and a Constitution were drawn up in the strictest manner for what was considered an “Independent” establishment of a Presbyterian Church, granted that a “call” was received and recognized by Presiding Elders duly ordained from existing and recognized denominations.  Two Elders, one ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Mike Delores), and another ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America (Dr. Kelly N. Birks, now deceased) tested and reviewed the call, ordaining Samuel on October 20th, 2002, the Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity.  Proper forms were submitted to Tallahassee, Florida with the stamp of a Notary Public Witness.  Christ Covenant Church (CCC) functioned as a local church for five years with a congregation as large as 30 members.  Frost was gaining recognition after Misplaced Hope had been published in January of that year, and conferences were hosted that included debates with another prominent "full" Preterist educator, Don K. Preston.  CCC hosted best-selling authors, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock from Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. James B. Jordan (Westminster Theological Seminary), well-known author/pastor in Reformed theological circles.  Frost was invited for the next several years to speak at over 25 conferences nation-wide, was featured in articles and an appearance on local news in Tampa for one of CCC’s conferences.  The Evangelical Theological Society also invited Samuel to speak at the Philadelphia conference (Frost is currently a Member of ETS as well as Society of Biblical Literature). During this time Samuel had submitted one more book, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (TruthVoice, 2008; repr. JaDon Publishing, 2010); and co-wrote, House Divided: A Reformed Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Vision International, 2010).  Frost also wrote several Forewords for up and coming authors who were influenced by his teaching materials, as well as cited many times in books, lectures and academic papers.  However, because of certain aspects of Hermeneutics and Frost’s undaunted commitment to scholarship (with always a strong emphasis on the personal nature of devotional living to Christ), several challenges to the "hyper" Preterist view he espoused finally gave way, largely due to the unwavering commitment to Samuel by the Dean of Whitefield Theological Seminary, Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, who continually challenged him.  In what shocked the "hyper" Preterist world, Samuel announced after the Summer of 2010 that he was in serious error, and departed the movement as a whole, along with Jason Bradfield, Assistant Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida .  Christ Covenant Church had dissolved after 2007 while Samuel continued as a public speaker and writer, largely due to reasons that would unravel Frost’s commitment to "hyper" Preterism as a whole. The documentation of Frost’s departure was published by American Vision’s Founder, Gary DeMar, with a Foreword by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry.  Why I Left Full Preterism (AV Publishing, 2012) quickly sold out its first run.  The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019).  Dr. Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, endorsed the book as well.  Samuel has gone on to write, Daniel: Unplugged (Kindle/Amazon, 2019); The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019); God: As Bill Wilson Understood Him, A Theological Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous (Lulu Publishing, 2017).  He is also active as a certified Chaplain with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana, and enrolled with ICAADA (Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse) working directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc.  Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon.  He also is working with Redemption Life Bible Church with Pastor Tyler Jackson in New Castle, Indiana.  Samuel, with his wife, Kimberly, helped to establish Heaven’s Bread Basket food pantry that donates food items to local families in need once a month – a ministry of the Session of First Presbyterian Church. Samuel has four children, one step-son, ages sixteen to twenty-eight and has worked part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for over five years.  He has a solid reputation in the community, and has performed marriages and funerals.  He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle.

7 thoughts on “This Generation Shall not Pass”

  1. So, in other words, everyone and everything would be gone, and there wouldn’t even be a record of having existed at all. So in heaven, no memory of a prior existence. Do I understand correctly?
    Revelation 21:4-5

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  2. I gather that the full preterist believes that heaven and earth have passed because Jesus said all these things will take place in that generation? Strange. To keep everything straight, it has been helpful to me to look for first and second-level fulfillments of promises made. For example, the prophets predicted the church, the second-level fulfillment of the temple. James is clear about this in Acts 15. In this case, we have the first level fulfillment and the second-level and therefore we know we are not to expect more to come. Contrary to the dispensationalist teaching, there will not be another temple. What has passed is no longer needed. But when it comes to the new earth, we are still lacking second-level fulfillment. The prophets predicted the first-level promise–this being the new covenant. There are lots of prophecies that predicted this (e.g. Is. 65) but indicate that this new covenant age will be short of full consummation (death, etc.). I suppose I don’t know enough about full preterism (enough to steer clear), but, I wonder why they would expect the resurrection and new earth as being the only promises never to reach the second-level fulfillment. Would this be a good angle from which to interact with a full preterist?

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  3. The disciples did not ask when the end of the world would be. It’s hard to know where to start. You know what you’re ignoring. It’s a conscious decision to unsay what the scriptures say.

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  4. Travis, no, no conspiracy theories or deliberate lies on my part. They asked when the end of the age was coming (to them, the new heavens and new earth). Jesus answers them, “here’s what going to happen to you in your time, but of THAT time, when heaven and earth pass away, no one knows.” It’s so simple. Only a FP could screw it up.

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  5. Sam, many Christians use this verse to teach that because not everything is fulfilled we are to o bey the law until Jesus comes, can you respond to that please,Thank you brother, God bless…

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