The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Is, like history, that there is no lesson of the fig tree.

The problem is this:

The Lesson of the Fig Tree
(Mark 13:28–31; Luke 21:29–33)

32 Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branches become tender and sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you will know that He is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.

Transliterated from the Greek in to Yoda: Truly I say to you no not will have passed away the generation this until all these things shall have taken place.

That didn’t happen. Unless it did taking Jesus’ hyperbolic, allegorical styles in to account and that the preceding events, Temple Destruction and Other Signs, Witnessing to All Nations, The Abomination of Desolation, The Return of the Son of Man did all happen preteristically in the lifetime of the hearers, locally and regionally centred on Jerusalem, not just the literal destruction of the temple. The Greek Abomination of Desolation of Daniel as metaphor works for Rome sacking the temple. Taking metaphor yet further, or/AND back to literal, did the Christians of Jerusalem experience a parousia? The transfiguration on steroids?

There are claims, by Josephus of course.

It all gets very misty.

There is a contrived argument that by this generation, ‘you’, Jesus meant the generation in which these things happened, which for decades I believed was yet future. Well they started to happen in 70 AD and Jesus didn’t return by 100-150 AD but somehow I waved that away. And who were ‘you’?

The only way to make it work is preteristically from 70 AD with support from Josephus.

There’s a sliding scale of literal to metaphoric fulfilment. And rumours of goings on by that one eye witness. So what definitely didn’t come to pass?

Matthew 24: 26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Did not happen.

Matthew 16: 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Did not happen.

It’s a challenge to make 28:26-31 work preteristically. Particularly if you map 16:27 to 24:27. 16:28 happened six days and the next verse after He said it of course.

Soooooo, how did Jesus get it so wrong? According to Mark 13:26-27? The earliest known source gospel. Written after Matt. 24:1-27 had already happened of course, like Daniel written 4 centuries after what it ‘prophesied’. Written 40 years after Jesus spoke on Olivet.

Preteristically I can make it work, from Jesus’ hyperbolic, oracular style, recalled by only one old man after 40 years. Jesus got so much else wrong after all, He was still right being God incarnate. Where was Jesus right would be a better question.


  • Indeed.

    Matthew 24 does appear relevant to These Days, but so it would have done at various stages of past history.

    Where was Jesus right?
    would make a good thread of its own, I agree.
  • C.S. Lewis suggests that in Mark 13:32 Jesus says that he did not know about the day or the hour, and that the preceding passage just goes to show that he really did not know. Which is quite a radical statement from someone often perceived as theologically conservative.
  • Ugh. You know, a lot of the problem with this mess would go away if we could just admit that Jesus, like other prophets, was capable of talking on multiple levels at once. Like that prophecy of the woman/virgin bearing a child, which was fulfilled once immediately by an ordinary woman, and later, in a greater sense, by Mary.

    Here what we have is several events smashed up together. All of them have a claim to being called judgement day/Judgement Day.
    1) The crucifixion itself. Jesus alludes to this in other places, notably Luke 22 when he speaks of the Passover being fulfilled "in the Kingdom of God" and won't eat it again till afterward.
    2) the fall of Jerusalem and subsequent scattering of the Jews around the world.
    3) what we usually think of as the Last Day, when Jesus returns bodily and winds up history so everything can start anew.

    What you've got going in these chapters is a mash-up of all three, and trying to work out which one (or two, or three) he's intending at any given time is fascinating, but also probably a losing battle. The main point survives however, and that might be all he wanted it to do: "What I say to you, I say to everyone: Be ready."
  • Thank you all. Later.
  • @Bishops Finger. For decades I was consumed by chiliastic eschatology and made everything, starting with Matthew 24 and then Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Uncle Tom Cobley, fit from the late sixties. It fits C1st alone, with progressive allegorization (as @Lamb Chopped implies to me), and C1st-C21st...C31st.

    And you asked for it!

    @TurquoiseTastic, aye I'm aware of Lewis' take.
    “‘Say what you like,’ we shall be told, ‘the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, “this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.” And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.’ It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement ‘But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.’ The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance.”

    From The World’s Last Night

    That it was unknown to the fully human Jesus is only right. His divine nature didn't impart such knowledge. I'm surprised at old Jack, being a literary man, not recognizing apocalyptic when he saw it, misusing the term in fact, a paraphrase of 'Daniel's'. Jack was being a tad literal minded. A bit fundy.

    @Lamb Chopped, a nice mishmash, but where do you see the Crucifixion? The multiple levels we interpolate are part of the problem, like medieval allegory. It's just cognitively biased hindsight. Using whatever ugly sisters' feet we can grab hold of to stuff in to Cinderella's slipper. The only way it can work for me is fully preteristically, truly apocalyptically, in the fall of Jerusalem.
  • @Martin54 - :lol:

    Thanks, BTW, for the C S Lewis reference. Lewis at his best (?)...
  • If you're going to just dismiss me out of hand, why should I do the hard work of showing you how it works with the crucifixion? I have other tasks to do today for people who might actually care about their outcome.
  • If you're going to just dismiss me out of hand, why should I do the hard work of showing you how it works with the crucifixion? I have other tasks to do today for people who might actually care about their outcome.

    I'm sorry? You can see it but I can't? Hmmm. My case rests.
  • And dismissal is in the eye of the dismissee @Lamb Chopped. I was nice about it actually.
  • You were dismissive about it immediately after you asked for clarification. I'm not going to do the hard work of composing a post which likely includes allusions all over the Gospels for a person who immediately writes "It's just cognitively biased hindsight." If that's what you're convinced of, stop asking me to explain "Where do you see the Crucifixion?" You've made up your mind, leave me alone.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited September 29
    Anyone see the crucifixion in the Olivet discourse? What am I missing? And @Lamb Chopped, leave the thread alone.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    edited September 30
    when I was at my bar mitzvah
    my father said to me
    come here and take a lesson from
    the lovely figgy tree

    if crabby saviors happen by
    and no fruit do they see
    you'll feel the blast of angry wrath
    and no more fruit for thee!

    figgy tree, very pretty
    and the figgy fruit is sweet
    but give no figs to lord jesus
    and he'll zap you, wait and see
  • @mousethief, as that is unattributed, I conclude you must have composed it. Er, genius.
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