Three Key Words

Posted in: 2007
By Tom L. Ballinger
Mar 13, 2008 - 4:33:29 AM

September 11, 2007


An important key to unlocking the Treasure Chest of Dispensational Truth is to be found in the proper understanding of a crucial text found in Matthew 24:3. The key lies in comprehending what is the meaning of three words which are: (1) coming, (2) end, and (3) world. Consider the verse in question.

“And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?’” (Matt. 24:3).

A critical exegesis of this verse is required in order for it to yield the Truth which the Spirit of Truth wants us to know. It demands that we understand the Greek words from which each of three words is derived. Otherwise, our interpretation is faulty, and this one error multiplies into many.

The First word, “coming,” in the text is the translation of the Greek word, “parousia.” Parousia is a very important word, and it occurs twenty-four times in the New Testament. Parousia, literally, means “presence,” and “it denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). It was used as a technical expression for the arrival, or visit of a king, or emperor. It was used, also, of other persons in authority. Ancient coins have been unearthed which were minted in celebration of a visiting king; they were called Parousia Coins.

When it refers to the Parousia of Jesus Christ, it includes His descending from Heaven and the catching-away of a myriad of saints to meet Him in the air. As the coming King of kings, Christ destroys the Anti-Christ and all of those who will have believed the Lie. The multitudes who meet Him in the air return with Him as the conquering King to the Mount of Olives and the environs of Jerusalem. It also refers to His one-thousand-year Parousia on the earth. In plainer words, the Parousia of Christ includes His arrival to the earth from Heaven and His one-thousand year presence on earth.

His Parousia puts an end to the rebellion against the Government of God and the Great Tribulation. The Parousia of Jesus Christ plays absolutely no part in the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

The Second important word in unlocking Dispensational Truth is “end.” It is the translation of the Greek word, “sunteleia.” “Sunteleia” does not designate a termination; if it did, the Greek word would be “telos.” “Telos” means the end, like “The End” of a movie. But, the Spirit used the word, “sunteleia” ─ “it signifies a bringing to completion together (sun with, telo, to complete), marking the consummation of various parts of a scheme. In Matthew 13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20, the rendering, “the end of the world,” is misleading; “the RV margin is correct, the consummation of the age. The word does not denote a termination [of an age] but the heading up of events to the appointed climax” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).

“The Companion Bible,” Appendix 129, II, Page 162, explains that the ages, or the succession of age-times were prepared and arranged by God (see Hebrews 1:2; 11:3). There is a constant distinction in the NT between “this age” and “the coming age.” The conjunction of these ages is spoken of as a sunteleia, marking the end of one age and the beginning of another! Thus, the sunteleia of Matthew 24:3 refers to the end of the Kingdom age and the beginning of the One-Thousand-Year Presence of Jesus Christ on earth. Therefore, “the end (sunteleia) of the world (age)”speaks about the act of bringing to fruition an anticipated result—hence, a consummation.

An example of the consummation of an event would be when a woman is “with child,” and she anticipates the consummation of her pregnancy. The consummation of her pregnancy is when she gives birth to the child.

The definition of “consummation,” from Online WordNet is “The act of bringing to completion or fruition.”

The consummation of the future Kingdom of God is the Parousia of Jesus Christ.

What follows is a “hard saying; ‘Who can receive it?’” The Parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ CONSUMMATES the future Kingdom of God—it does not CONSUMMATE the Dispensation of the Grace of God. This is said in spite of all of the writings of pre-millennial dispensationalists who insist that the present dispensation ends (telos) with the 2nd Coming (the Parousia). This error is one of the most pervasive errors in all of Christendom. It is so beguiling that it has even “charmed” many members of the Church, which is His Body.

The Third word in unlocking an important key to Dispensational Truth is—“world.” Three Greek words are translated as “world.” (1). Kosmos refers to the orderly arrangement of the universe and all that it entails. (2). Oikoumeme refers to the inhabited earth, or the inhabited world. (3). Aion (used in Matthew 24:3) is a word in which we get our two English words, “aeon” and “eon.” They refer to an “age,” not the world. The word, “aion,” in the “Revised Version,” is always translated as “age.” It is rendered “age” in six of the eight translations which we checked.

In Hebrews 9:26, the word, “aion,” is translated as world (A.V.) and is in the plural, and the phrase is “the consummation of the ages.”

It is important to point out that in Strong’s definition of the word, “aion” (No. 165), he has this to say:

“Aion: to the (New Testament) Jews, they thought of aion as being a reference to the Future Messianic Kingdom period.”

“Thayer’s Lexicon,” also, says that “aion” is a word which points to “the consummate establishment of the Divine Kingdom.”

Strong’s and Thayer’s statements are VERY IMPORTANT!!! Important, because all Bible believing Jews understood the “aion” to refer to “The Kingdom” they were looking for. “The Aion” was an idiomatic expression of the Greek speaking Jews during the First Century. Let me explain the essence of an idiom.
The English idiom, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” only makes sense to us because we have been taught to associate the meaning, “It’s raining heavily" with those words. Should a Chinaman, just beginning to learn English, read, “it’s raining cats and dogs,” his natural instinct would be to take the phrase literally. There is no way he could determine the “idiomatic” meaning of that phrase unless someone explained to him that he was reading an idiom and, then, gave him its meaning. An idiom is an expression peculiar to a particular people, or language, the meaning of which is not apparent to those outside that group. Most languages have them. American English is filled with them. “You’re in the groove,” “I’m hip,” “that's cool,” “far-out, man,” “the cat’s got his tongue,” “you dig?” are some examples. (We say “American” English because many idioms of the United States are not idioms of other English-speaking countries.)
Allow me to put in plainer words what the disciples asked the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:3.

“… Lord, tell us when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of Your Parousia, yes, even the consummation (sunteleia) of the [future] Kingdom age (aion).”

These two things are so intimately tied together that they almost appear as one event in this verse.

In fact, it is quite possible that what we have in Matthew 24:3 is a figure of speech, a “Hendiadys,” where “two phrases are mentioned, but one is meant” (see Appendix 6, Page 10 in the Companion Bible).

As the Lord Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24, some of His disciples came to Him and remarked about how beautiful the buildings of the Temple Complex were. He stunned them with His answer:

“And Jesus said unto them, ‘See ye not all these things [i.e., the Temple buildings]? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down [not a reference to 70 A. D.]’” (Matt. 24:2).

The entire context in Matthew 24 will find its fulfillment in the closing days of “The Aion” (i.e., Kingdom of God). The Temple complex which will be built during the pre-millennial Kingdom of God, as perfectly laid out in Ezekiel 40:1-48:35, is the one Christ had reference to when He told of “no stone will be left upon another.”

The revelation to the disciples of the destruction of the future Temple complex prompted their questions in Matthew 24:3:

“And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be [the destruction of the future Temple]? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming [Parousia], and of the end [sunteleia i.e., consummation] of the world [aion, i.e., age]?”

None of the above spoke about the end (telos) of the “Gospel”, or Acts Period. Neither did any of the above speak concerning the Church, which is His Body, or the end (telos) of the Dispensation of the Mystery. The disciples understood, full well, what many, today, “don’t get.” The Parousia, the sunteleia, and the aion all clearly pointed to the concluding days of the future pre-Millennial Messianic Kingdom of God.

Tom L. Ballinger