thirdwitless argues that Luke 21:20-24 is one of the bases for the Watchtower Society's "Gentile times" chronology. He claims that verse 24 should be taken out of context and applied to the future. So let's examine some details about this.
Luke 21:24 states (NWT) that "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled." The key phrase in thirdwitless' argument is "will be". In the Greek, this is in the future indicative tense (Gr. estai), and that tense generally signifies something that has yet to occur. However, in certain cases it can refer to an indefinite future time period that may or may not include the present. Context is the only thing that can determine what the writer had in mind. Thus, the passage might be rendered more precisely in two ways:
Jerusalem will at some future time begin to be trampled on by the nations . . .
Jerusalem will continue to be trampled on by the nations . . .
The question is: which one is right? Since grammar is of no help, let's look at the context. I'll point out similar uses of "will be" (estai) in appropriate places in several relevant passages.
Luke 17 and 21 contain two of Jesus' expositions on the "end times". Jesus predicts many wondrous and fearful things for the future. For purposes of this post, the relevant passages follow:
24 For even as the lightning, by its flashing, shines from one part under heaven to another part under heaven, so the Son of man will be [estai].
26 Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be [estai] also in the days of the Son of man:
30 The same way it will be [estai] on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.
31 On that day let the person that is [estai] on the housetop but whose movable things are in the house not come down to pick these up, and the person out in the field, let him likewise not return to the things behind.
Clearly, each of these uses of "will be" (Gr. estai) describes events that are exclusively in the future from the writer's standpoint, not ongoing events that are occurring at the time the writer is penning his words. Continuing:
7 Then they questioned him, saying: "Teacher, when will [estai] these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are destined to occur?"
11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be [estai] fearful sights and from heaven great signs.
23 Woe to the pregnant women and the ones suckling a baby in those days! For there will be [estai] great necessity upon the land and wrath on this people;
24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be [estai] trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.
Again these passages use "will be" (estai) in a way that, in context, clearly indicate events that are exclusively in the future. Even thirdwitless will agree that verses 7, 11 and 23 are not ongoing events from the Bible writer's viewpoint, and that everything from verse 25 onward refers exclusively to future events. Therefore, if thirdwitless claims that verse 24 is an exception, it is up to him to show why the passage ought to be understood differently from all of the other passages shown above.
I've looked at every New Testament passage containing the Greek word for "will be" in the third person singular (estai). In most cases, usage clearly indicates that the thing spoken of is entirely in the future. In a few cases, context clearly shows that the thing spoken of is ongoing.
The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth Wuest translates Luke 21:24 in a manner consistent with the context:
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword and shall be led away captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem shall be under the heel of the conquering Gentiles until the period of Gentile domination has run its course.
Wuest makes explict that verse 24 is entirely in the future, consistent with the preceding passages in Luke 17 and 21.
A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Luke (J. Reiling and J. L. Swellengrebel; United Bible Societies, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1971, p. 671) has a note making the exclusive future nature of verse 24 explicit:
'Jerusalem will be trampled over by Gentiles', not denoting an event but a situation in the future.
Barne's Notes on the New Testament (Albert Barnes, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, reprint of the 1884-85 edition, p. 143) comments on verse 24:
Shall be trodden down by the Gentiles. Shall be in possession of the Gentiles, or be subject to them. The expression also implies that it would be an oppressive subjection . . . Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. . . The meaning of the passage clearly is, 1st. That Jerusalem would be completely destroyed. 2d. That this would be done by Gentiles -- that is, by the Roman armies. 3d. That this desolation would continue as long as God should judge it proper in a fit manner to express his abhorrence of the crimes of the nation -- that is, until the times allotted to them by God for this desolation should be accomplished, without specifying how long that would be, or what would occur to the city after that.
The above references simply make the obvious inference from the context -- that verse 24, like the preceding passages, refers to a future "time of the Gentiles" which would begin when the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem.
Given the above, let's take a look at thirdwitless' arguments. I'll comment on everything he wrote, and note clearly where he makes unwarranted assumptions and jumps to unsupported conclusions.
: Jerusalem Will Be Trampled On by the Nations
: Here are the words at Luke 21. 20 [passage deleted]
: Please take note that these words are different from the words of Matthew and Mark. In Matthew and Mark he does not specifically mention the Roman armies. He refers to the disgusting thing that causes desolation. But here he is without a doubt talking about the Roman armies and what they will do to the literal city of Jerusalem. And he is showing in verse 24 how those Jews in Jerusalem will die by the sword and be led into captivity. Then the statement is made that "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled."
So far so good.
: Remember that Jesus is talking to his disciples who believe that in the very near future Jesus will restore the nation of Israel and reside as king over it. In Acts 1:6 we read, "When, now, they had assembled, they went asking him: 'Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?'" From this question it is clear that they are expecting Jesus to save Jerusalem and become the king. And so when Jesus is telling them exactly what will happen to the literal city of Jerusalem he then makes it clear to them that Jerusalem and its rulership, contrary to what they expect, will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed (seven) times of the nations are fulfilled. Only then will it truly be restored and he become king. Although they could not grasp that at the time, we can.
So far so good.
: Of course it was not to be the literal Jerusalem that was restored but the heavenly one.
Oops. An unwarranted excursion into JW doctrine. No supporting arguments or references here.
: We must not forget that Jesus is answering the question: "what will be the sign of your presence and conclusion of system of things."
I should point out that Luke says nothing about a so-called "presence". This is a reference to Matthew 24. No one besides Jehovah's Witnesses thinks that the Greek word parousia means "presence", but rather, "coming, advent" and the like. But that's a topic for another thread.
: Then in Luke 21 he is telling what the near future holds for the literal city of Jerusalem and its people. But Jesus has not forgotten the big question: When is his presence? So after telling of the literal outcome of Jerusalem, he no doubt knows
Oops. An unsupported assumption.
: that his disciples are logically thinking, 'then Jerusalem will be restored and Christ's presence as king will begin,' just as they had previously ask in Acts 1:6. So he is letting them know that their thinking is Wrong. Jerusalem will not then be immediately restored.
This is partly correct, with this exception: since the disciples had no knowledge at all of any future extended "presence", but only of a rather vague "coming", the speculation on the disciples' thinking should properly be something like, "then Jerusalem will be restored and Christ will come."
: Thus he reminds them that the Daniel prophecy said that 'Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times (or seven times) of the nations are fulfilled.'
Daniel contains nothing of the sort. What are you smoking?
: And only then will his presence and kingship commence.
Huge problem here: After his resurrection, Jesus stated that "All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth." (Matthew 28:18) If we take the Bible at its word, then the word "all" really means all. Therefore there was no authority left for God to give at some future time. This passage alone kills off the Society's 1914 doctrine, which requires that God granted further authority to Jesus in 1914 -- contradicting Matthew 28:18.
: Only then after the appointed seven times of the nations have been fulfilled will Jerusalem be restored. While they did not understand at the time we do understand.
Um, no. The above material proves it.
: And so his words were not just for his disciples living then but also for people living in the last days of this system of things.
Here you've performed an astronomical jump to a conclusion. You jump from the general notion that at some time future to the 1st century the "appointed times of the nations" will be fulfilled, to a specific fulfillment -- without giving any supporting arguments at all. A fulfillment entirely in line with Watchtower doctrine, one in our day, commencing in 1914. This is an extreme logical error on your part.
: Matthew and Mark said the 'disgusting thing' so that definitely had two fulfillments: 1. The roman army and 2. the UN.
Another huge jump to an unwarranted conclusion. The fact that Matthew and Mark mention "disgusting thing" once each says nothing about the number of fulfillments. Again, what are you smoking?
: But Luke 21:20-23 is specifically and directly speaking about the literal events that would happen in the first century. Those events do not have a specific fulfillment in the last days although the parallel is similar.
Translation: A lot of what Jesus predicted for the 1st century did not happen, so we must find ways to extend the failed prophecies at least as far as our day. LOL!
: So after Jesus tells us literally what would happen to Jerusalem and the Jews he then explains to them that Jerusalem will be trampled until appointed times have ended. The Kingdom will not be restored until then.
Now you've introduced the notion of "the Kingdom" into the line of argument. No introduction, no supporting arguments -- nothing. Luke says nothing about "the Kingdom" having a relationship to the "Gentile times". So your sticking this new notion into your argument not only has no scriptural backing, but is unsupported by your own claims in this thread.
: So they would come to recognize after holy spirit was poured out at Pentecost that God's Kingdom would not be established literally in Jerusalem as they had thought but it would be a heavenly kingdom that would come but not until the appointed times of the nations had ended.
Yet another completely unsupported claim.
Then you proceed to give a ridiculous "illustration" that shows only how easy it is to created ridiculous analogies. No further comments on it are necessary.
So what are the arguments that thirdwitless has actually set forth here?
(1) Luke 21:24 should be taken out of context and, in contrast to the surrounding passages, be understood as referring to an ongoing event, rather than one confined to the future.
(2) Literal Jerusalem was not to be restored but a heavenly one was.
(3) Jesus spoke of an unseen "presence" that the disciples knew all about.
(4) The disciples thought that, shortly after Jerusalem's destruction, it would be restored.
(5) Daniel prophesied that "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations".
(6) Jesus' presence began in 1914 and he was given kingship over The Kingdom of God.
(7) The "Gentile times" end in 1914.
(8) Jesus intended his words to have partial fulfillments in the 1st century, and partial fulfillments beginning in 1914.
(9) There were two fulfillments of the prophecy about the "disgusting thing" of Matthew and Mark.
(10) In line with (8), much of what Jesus prophesied for the 1st century failed, so it must have a future fulfillment.
(11) The establishment of "The Kingdom" coincides with the end of the "Gentile times".
(12) "The Kingdom" would not be earthly but heavenly.
(13) A worthless analogy.
I've shown that each point is either unsupported by any arguments or data that thirdwitless gave in his post, or is contradicted by the Bible, or is contradicted by historical fact. Thus, thirdwitless has utterly failed to prove his claim that the mention of a so-called "Gentile times" or "appointed times of the nations" in Luke 21 has anything to do with events that go beyond the 1st century A.D.
Because the notion of the "Gentile times" is another link in the chain of Watchtower chronology, and it is clearly unsupported by facts or logical arguments, and thirdwitless' arguments are a fairly good reflection of those given by the Mother Ship, the Watchtower Society, Mother's chronology falls down flat.