It may be urged In favour of the universalist exposition of the 25th of Matthew, that the spread of the Gospel among the Gentiles and their induction into the gospel faith, is what is meant by the “blessed coming to inherit the kingdom,” &c. and their coming into life eternal; but this did not take place in any special sense, at the destruction of Jerusalem.
A Defence Containing the Author’s Renunciation of Universalism
Fulfillment of Matthew 25 in AD70 (pp. 266-268)
By Lewis C. Todd
We will now present a passage from 2 Thes. 1 chapters to which we have once referred but with design to bring it forward again in this connexion, as it deserves the particular attention of the reader.
” So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: which is a manifest token of the righteous judgement of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you : And to you who are troubled, rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with (aionion) everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”
On this we remark,
1. Paul was addressing christians, who, notwithstanding all their fidelity to their Lord, were suffering the extremest afflictions and trials. That they so suffered that they might be accounted worthy of the heavenly inheritance which they anticipated. Of course they were not rewarded in this life for their piety, but suffered by it. See verses 4, 5.
2. That a judgement was In reserve for those who persecuted the christians, and that judgement was then future; so that sin itself does not always punish itself, nor does conscience; for they were looking forward to a future time for it.
3. This was not the destruction of Jerusalem; for, as we have repeatedly stated, they had nothing to do with the war which was to rage between the Romans and Jews. Suppose that one of the people at Thessalonica had written a letter to the venerable apostle to know what he meant by the “coming of the Lord Jesus, inflaming fire, who should punish the ungodly with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power”? The apostle should write to him in answer, that he was only indulging in bombast, at that time ; and simply meant nothing more than this: you know the Romans are a powerful people, and the Jews by and by will provoke them to war; which will terminate in the destruction of their own city, the loss of many lives, the end of their government, and the dispersion of their people!!! Comment is unnecessary.
4. We add here that the apostles to the Gentiles have never said any thing about the destruction of Jerusalem, of which Christ spoke to the Jews, because it was matter of no special concern to them; although, as we have seen, they frequently allude to the final coming of Christ to judgement at the resurrection of the dead, which places our Lord’s meaning in the 25th of Matthew beyond all dispute. There, as well as in this passage to the Thessalonians, an awful sentence of condemnation against the wicked is plainly taught.—Nay, that it will be a sentence to everlasting perdition and misery is the express and unequivocal language of Christ and his apostle. There is no evading this truth. If universalists will not have it so, it is because they will not, and the whole debate is evidently between them, and Jesus Christ and the apostles. Yet there are faces so incapable of a blush, as to say before a christian community, that the only reason a man did not quote a single passage of Scripture against universalism, was because he could not; that he would gladly have brought it forward if he could, &c.!
If men are determined not to allow the Scriptures to mean what they unequivocally declare, how can we expect to bring a passage to confute them ? Let the Bible speak for itself in its own unvarnished unsophisticated truth; and it speaks confusion to universalism, and terrour and dismay to many of its votaries. But to suppose the Bible will confute them, after they have frittered away all its solemn declarations, which do not suit them, none has the folly to presume. Let a thousand men be liberally educated in a foreign land, where they should be strangers to the Bible. Then let each of them receive a copy, with a request that they should examine it with the utmost care, and compare it with the original; and then tell whether it teaches a future judgement of mankind, and the endless perdition of the wicked ; or that all men are rewarded in this life justly and fully, and all happy the next moment of conscious existence after death. Let them have no creed to support; no party to please: no interests at stake; no prejudices to warp the judgement; and every one. of the thousand would decide, that it teaches future eternal retribution. Indeed, the doctrine is no where taught as a new doctrine, or as a disputed doctrine: for it was generally believed throughout the world; and none denied it in that day who admitted a future existence. But it was taught generally, distinctly, clearly, and amply throughout the New Testament, as an undeniable truth. Indeed, as plainly as any body has ever taught it since ; making allowance for tiie difference of style between the ancients and modern, we are of opinion that the excess of future misery has been exaggerated by modern writers beyoud what the: Bible intended; but as to its existence there has been n* difference.
5. It may be urged In favour of the universalist exposition of the 25th of Matthew, that the spread of the Gospel among the Gentiles and their induction into the gospel faith, is what is meant by the “blessed coming to inherit the kingdom,” &c. and their coming into life eternal; but this did not take-place in any special sense, at the destruction of Jerusalem. Peter saw the vision of the sheet let down from heaven long before that event; and learned that “in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him.” Long before that event the apostle turned to the Gentiles, saying to the Jews, ” since ye count yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Long before this event, the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon the christians of all countries, on the day of Pentecost; and before this, the Gospel was preached by the faithful apostles in Persia, Greece, Egypt, and the northern parts of Africa, in Rome, and Spain, and throughout the known world. Christians had multiplied every where; and the moral kingdom of our Lord was fully established in the earth, long beforef the Jewish and Roman war, as much as it was at that time.— And there was nothing in that event that could justify the description of the 25th of Matthew.