Imagine a convex lens, a “burning glass” as some call it. On the left of this glass draw a set of parallel lines, depicting rays of light entering the lens. As these rays travel through the lens, they are refracted to come to a focus, the “burning point.” The rays on the right hand side look somewhat like a sharpened pencil, with the focus like the tip of the pencil lead. This “pencil of rays” is what we must now “focus” on.
In the “Olivet Discourse”, the final word the Lord gave the disciples about the future, found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, the word SUNTELEIA occurs in the Greek. The Lord had spoken about the destruction of the Temple, and His disciples, who were seated around Him on the Mount of Olives, asked, saying, “When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming? And of the end of the age?” The underlined word is SUNTELEIA. What a shame the translators have not given us the distinction between this word and TELOS, the true word for “end.” Of course, SUNTELEIA contains the word TELOS. But the prefix SUN ( = together) makes all the difference. Let me explain.
When an author writes a detective novel, he introduces a number of people and situations, all of which interact with each other, to produce the story. But in the final chapter, everything “comes together” and we use the word denouement to describe the unravelling of the plot, the issue, the exposure of the guilty party. The Greek word SUNTELEIA aptly describes all the characters and situations which lead up to the final “end”, the denouement, which is TELOS. In terms of our lens picture, the SUNTELEIA is the pencil of rays that passed through the lens, and the TELOS is the lead tip of the pencil, the “focus.”
In the first number of this series, I drew attention to twelve interesting world-events that pervaded the 20th century scene, all of which seemed to restore the world chess-board of the first century A.D. It was as though the Lord was intent on returning the conditions of the world of the early church, so that His latter day plans might be fulfilled according to the prophetic scene presented in the Bible. The disciples were asking the Lord, not only about the sign of His return, but of the collection of world events that would betoken His near return. They used the word SUNTELEIA advisedly. Perhaps they remembered the Lord using the word when He gave the parable of the wheat and tares. He concluded by saying, “The enemy that sowed the tares is the Devil; the harvest is the SUNTELEIA of the age; and the reapers are the angels.”(Matt.13:39
After His resurrection the Lord commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples from all the nations. His promise was, “behold, I am with you always, until the SUNTELEIA of the age.”
Throughout the Olivet discourse the Lord never used the word SUNTELEIA, but three times He used the word TELOS.
“You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. Be not troubled. the END is not yet.” (verse 6)
“He who endures to the END shall be saved [i.e. preserved] (verse 13
“This gospel of the Kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the END will come.” (verse 14)
What therefore will be found within the period of time before the END comes? The best judge of this may be found in that parable of the wheat and tares. See how the Lord ended His word, “As the tares are collected and burned with fire,so shall it be in the SUNTELEIA of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will collect out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and those whopractise lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt.13:40-42)
As a final conclusion to this study, it must therefore be said that the period of time before the END, will be full of divine activity. There will be a season in which the Lord will begin to cleanse the earth of all that He finds offensive. This indicates a state of affairs that is seldom mentioned in eschatological literature.
When does the SUNTELEIA start? How do we know that it hasn’t already started? Didn’t the Lord speak about the beginning of His Kingdom being so small as to be likened to a grain of mustard seed? (Mat.13:31-32) Wouldn’t that indicate certain initial tiny signs that might be missed, or misinterpreted, by the many?
When it begins in earnest, would that be the signal for some people to want to run away and hide in the“rocks of the mountains”? (Rev.6:15)
Is this the time when “men’s hearts shall faint for fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth”? (Luke 21:26)
Is this the time Isaiah referred to when he said, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together”? (Isa. 40:5)
And could this be why the Lord said to His own people, “when you see these things begin to happen, lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near”? (Luke 21:28)
Will this be the time when the eyes of the House of Israel will suddenly be opened, causing them to wail?
Will this be the period of time when resurrections begin to occur, leading finally to the manifestation of the Son of Man at the END?
If we need to “endure until the END”, then I suppose the SUNTELEIA will be a difficult time? A Tribulation?A sorting out process?
If God is about to expose things that He finds offensive, doesn’t this suggest a degree of divine intervention? Surely it cannot happen apart from that?
Are those who “practise lawlessness” governed by the “man of lawlessness” of 2 Thess.2? If so, is this the time when he is finally manifested for what he really is, as Paul suggests in this passage?
Are these the people spoken of in Proverbs 28:9? “He who turns his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
If people are thrown into a literal furnace, how can they wail and gnash their teeth? Wouldn’t they be dead within seconds? Furthermore, does this sound like a compassionate God, who said “It never entered my mind” when referring to the hideous practice of passing their children “through the fire to Molech”?(Jer.32:35) Doesn’t this indicate a figure of speech? Isn’t it a symbol of sudden exposure of doctrinal and practical error, causing them deep internal frustration, whereby the fires of indignation boil up inside them?
Does the “proclamation of the Kingdom Gospel” mean the same as preaching salvation through the shed blood of Jesus? Isn’t it rather a preaching of the coming of Jesus as King over the whole earth? Surelythat is “good news”?
Could this “proclamation” be the same as that of the angel “flying in the middle heaven” of Rev. 14:6 who has “the aeonian-gospel to preach to all those sitting upon the earth, and to every nation, tribe, tongue and people, saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him, because the hour of His judgment is come, and worship Him who made heaven, earth, sea, and fountains of water.’?
Doesn’t that proclamation signal the exposure of the universal error of evolution?
We shall say no more, because the purpose of these studies has been to expose a number of weak areas of exposition, thereby requiring us all to go back to the Bible and study the subject again in this new light. None of us have all the answers. I believe that once the Lord starts His end-time work we shall all be surprised.
What then can we say to all this? Shall we not obey our Lord’s words, when He said, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may be able to escape all these things that will take place, and stand before the Son of Man”? (Luke 21:34-36)
Or as Peter said, “Seeing all this is to happen, what sort of persons ought you to be in all holiness and godliness of life, waiting for and hastening the coming of the Day of God”? (2 Peter 3:11-12) Yes, even to hasten the Coming, because the Lord spoke about those days being “shortened” for the sake of the Elect.
That, brethren, concludes this series of studies. We should like to take this opportunity of thanking those of you who have kindly written in to give us assistance, and sometimes to correct, during this series. The fellowship that comes from such interaction is always a blessing to us. Maranatha!