It is the task of Systematic Theology to gather the doctrinal teaching of the entire Bible and organize it into a comprehensive whole. And to complete our work we must scour every last corner of Scripture to make sure we have rightly accounted for all that God has spoken to each given subject. And yet in that task, happily, we are often guided by certain passages that expound a given doctrine at greater length and depth. These “normative” passages, as they are sometimes described, shed their light on more obscure passages and those by-the-way kind of remarks that may well offer added detail but by themselves offer little of structural significance.
For the study of biblical eschatology, Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24-25, Mk. 13, Lk. 21) is one such passage. Here our Lord presents an overview of the course of this age through to the eschaton. There are other such passages that are essential to eschatology, such as Romans 9-11, but on any accounting, the Olivet Discourse offers a programmatic summary that is essential to a right understanding of the end times.
Köstenberger, Stewart, and Makara offer a most valuable service in this careful theological-exegetical analysis of the Discourse. Its value is just that: it meticulously works through the passage with an eye to the larger structure it establishes and with care not to step beyond the text to ungrounded conclusions. If you think Jesus’ point of reference is AD 70, this work will challenge you to think bigger. Or if you think AD 70 is not in view, this work will challenge you to look more closely also. The authors are careful to let the text speak and to allow each statement its full weight, and they challenge the reader to see what conclusions may or may not be warranted at each step.
The latter half of the book then sheds this light on those scattered eschatological statements found elsewhere in Jesus’ teaching, thus providing a holistic analysis of Jesus’ teaching on the end times.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Jesus’ Major Discourse about the Future: The Olivet Discourse
Introduction to Part 1
Chapter 1: Jesus’ Prophecy and the Disciples’ Questions
Chapter 2: Possible Signs, the Abomination of Desolation, and the Destruction of the City
Chapter 3: Cosmic Upheaval and the Coming of the Son of Man
Chapter 4: Concluding the Olivet Discourse
Conclusion of Part 1
Part 2: Other Teachings of Jesus about the Future in the Gospels
Introduction to Part 2
Chapter 5: Persecution
Chapter 6: Growing Conflict, Rejection, and the Judgment of Jerusalem
Chapter 7: A Call to Patient Waiting for the Coming of the Son of Man
Chapter 8: Future Resurrection, Judgment, Reward, and Punishment
Chapter 9: Jesus and the Future in John’s Gospel
Conclusion of Part 2
Appendix 1: Cosmic Upheaval in the Old Testament
Appendix 2: The Future at a Glance
Jesus and the Future is a genuine contribution to the study of eschatology and a reliable guide to this important passage. It will certainly find a prominent place in eschatological study. Enthusiastically recommended!
Here’s my endorsement:
Jesus’ “Olivet Discourse” is crucial to a biblical understanding of the end times, and it provides an authoritative framework for his teachings about the future scattered throughout the Gospels. This book examines and distills all this for us, patiently yet plainly guiding us through the biblical text—with care not to step beyond it. Jesus and the Future is marked by careful exegesis, theological awareness, simplicity, and clarity—this is eschatology as it ought to be done. It will doubtless prove to be required reading for any study of Jesus’ great sermon on the end times.
Fred G. Zaspel
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Jesus and the Future: What He Taught about the End Times