Postmillennialist: John A. Broadus (Part 3)
It's been a while since I promised to return to the commentary of John Broadus on the Olivet Discourse. I am attempting to write multiple posts to release over the next couple of weeks. These previous posts are available for those needing a refresher in the meantime. Broadus was the founder of Southern Baptist Seminary which was the flagship seminary for the Southern Baptist Convention. I can only in my dreams imagine a Baptist culture permeated with consistent and reflective preterist thought. Oh well. Back to the commentary.
This section of the commentary provides me a little time to interact with Broadus in agreement and disagreement. Good stuff.
When ye therefore shall see. What inference is expressed by ‘therefore’? He has said that the end is coming (v. 14), and that those who endure to the end shall be saved (v. 13); when therefore they see a certain sign, let them promptly flee, in order to save themselves. (v. 16 f.)
V. 13f ... apparently refers both to the destruction of Jerusalem and to the final coming of Christ;
One of the common fallacies associated with the grammatical-historical approach to the Scriptures is the tendency to project meaning on to a text. Here Broadus is assuming "saved" in a cosmic soteriological sense. Surely though he wouldn't take that approach in Jude 1:5. This text does not need to refer to the final coming simply because of the word "saved".
Broadus is in basic agreement on the reference to Daniel in Matthew 24:15 to Daniel. This common understanding and interpretation to often ridiculously mutilated to teach the building of another temple. This concept is particularly political in the current day. The sheer audacity of the Gentile Roman soldiers to stand in the temple fulfills this text.
Luke (Lk 21:20), probably because the phrase was obscure and difficult, paraphrases it by an expression, which suggests to us the interpretation: ‘When ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is near.’ Literally, it is ‘being encircled by armies,’ when you see the process going on, then flee. Notice that Luke retains the term ‘desolation.’ Now we cannot always interpret the phraseology of a passage from that of a parallel passage, but there is always a strong probability that their meaning is substantially the same. It is possible that Luke describes an occurrence without the city, and Matthew, some concurrent desecration of the temple, represented by the abomination of desolation. But it is much more likely that ‘the abomination of desolation, standing in the holy place’ means some object connected with the Roman army under Titus that encircled and captured Jerusalem, which object foretokened speedy desolation.
Against the overly theological concept of "saved" stands the incredibly simplistic historical reaction of the church to the Roman armies. This is an entirely non-Jewish way of responding to judgment. Throughout history the Jewish have fled to Jerusalem while seeking God's deliverance of the "holy city". The command to flee would go against everything in their Jewish mentality.
Flee into the mountains seems to be a general phrase, not denoting any particular mountains. In the Maccabean time the Jews had become familiar with the idea of hiding in ravines and caves of the mountains. Eusebius states ("Hist." III., 5, 2 f.) that at the time of the siege by Titus the apostles had gone to preach the gospel to all the nations, and that the people (laity) of the church in Jerusalem, in accordance with a certain divine communication given by revelation before the war, removed and dwelt in a city of Perea named Pella. Epiphanius has a similar statement.
Without reading commentary, Matthew 24:17-19 are clear indications of the time frame of the text. The dwelling on roofs was a common practice in that day. And the quickest way out of a city was from roof to roof till you get to the wall. The command and application are so simply it is often discarded.
Alongside the requirement to build a temple, the idea of law observance is brought to the front of the text. This makes sense is the Jews are practicing the law. An overly literal understanding of this led many to assume that even after conversion to Christ and the gospel, the Jews would worship in the temple and obey all the laws of Moses.
So the traditional law as to a Sabbath day journey, that it should be not more than two thousand cubits, about ten hundred and fifty yards, would prove overwhelmingly inconvenient, if the flight should occur on the Sabbath day . Some held it lawful to violate this when in peril of life; and such a course our Lord would certainly have approved (comp. on Mt 12:2 ff.); but it would be to any strict Jew a painful and embarrassing necessity. Moreover (Hessey , in "Bible Comm."), "it was no doubt considered wrong to assist the traveller, however urgent his errand, in his movements on the Sabbath day. All possible impediments therefore would be thrown in the way of the fugitives by those who were still zealous for the supposed requirements of the law." Our Lord seems to imply that his Jewish followers will be still scrupulous about the traditional mode of observing the Sabbath up to the destruction of Jerusalem.
It should be quite obvious that to hold to a simple literal fulfillment of these events as still future requires a rebuilding of the temple and a return to the Jewish law for converted Jews.
I'll close with the commentary on the hyperbolic nature of Christ's statements in verse 21. Many seeking to dismantle the preterist opinion will read this verse literally and compare it to the destruction of the world through the flood.
This reason is that the sufferings attendant upon the destruction of Jerusalem, will be without parallel in past or future history. (Comp. on v. 29.) We might regard this also as the hyperbolical language often used in prophecy (comp. Da 12:1 Joe 2:1); yet in this case it may be taken literally, for certainly no recorded distresses have been so vast, so prolonged, so terrible, as those described by Josephus in the "Jewish War." We are not surprised to find him saying (5, 10, 5), "no other city ever endured similar calamities, and no generation ever existed more prolific in crime."
Hyperbolic language is common in prophetic texts. To ignore them is the greatest indication that one is not reading the New Testament Jewish authors through the lens of their own history and teaching.
More from Broadus is coming soon!