The Father William Most Collection
Mt. 24: Multiple Fulfillment
[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]
False Messiahs: Acts 5. 36-37 tells of Theudas and Judas of Galilee. Judas seems to belong to 6-7 AD, but his followers were probably active long after that. Josephus (Antiquities 20. 5. 1)-- about 44-46 AD) places Theudas in the 40s. But this may be an earlier Theudas, perhaps part of the disturbances following the death of Herod. Josephus (Ant. 17. 10. 6 and Jewish War. 2. 4. 2) does mention agitators, though without naming Theudas. Some suggest it stands for Theodoros, which might be a translation of the name Matias, which Josephus does give. Further, Josephus is not always accurate-- Luke is more likely to be accurate, unless
Luke may be using Greek genre of speeches. Acts 21. 28 speaks of another such leader from Egypt without giving his name.
Acts 5. 36-37: "For before these days Theudas arose, giving himself out to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered."
Acts 21. 38: (to Paul):"Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?"
Wars etc. There were many wars before 70, esp the great revolt starting in 66. In 69 came the year of the Four Emperors. There were famines in the time of Claudius (41-54). Acts 11. 28 says a prophet Agabus predicted a severe famine.
Pestilences: Tacitus, Annals 16. 13 says of 65: "A year of shame and of so many evil deeds, heaven also marked by storms and pestilence. Campania was devastated by a hurricane, which destroyed everywhere country houses, plantations and crops, and carried its rage to the neighborhood of Rome, where a dreadful plague was sweeping away all classes of human beings... The houses wee filled with lifeless bodies, and the streets with funerals. No age or sex was spared. Slaves and freeborn were cut off alike.... Knights and Senators died indiscriminately."
Earthquakes: "Tacitus, Annals 12. 58 reports one in Asia, frequent shocks in Rome itself in 51 (Annals 12. 43), in Campania especially Pompeii in 62 (Annals 1:5. 22). Seneca and Josephus also report them.
Abomination of desolation. Daniel referred it seems to the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus (167-65). Caligula in 40 ordered a statue to be placed in the Temple. It seems his subordinates had the judgment to ignore the command. But Eusebius, Histories 3. 5, says many Christians in Jerusalem did see something that led them to flee to Pella before the fall of Jerusalem. Did they just see the course of events? Or did they see the eagles of the soldiers in the outer temple area (they were worshipped)?
Signs in the Sun: The language is apaocalyptic, as we see from other instances: Is 13. 9-10, on Babylon: "For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not shed its light." Is 34. 4: (On Edom) "All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree." - Ezek 32. 7-8(On Egypt):When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens, and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and put darkness upon your land."