Fw: Mattew 24:5

From: Tom Belt (virginia@destination.com.lb)
Date: Thu Nov 26 1998 - 14:53:30 EST

To those responsible-

I emailed Juan this note separately because I think the question is not
primarily a grammatical one. But since the discussion is continuing I
thought I'd send it in. You can determine whether or not it warrants


-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Belt <virginia@destination.com.lb>
To: heyns <heyns@iafrica.com>
Date: Thursday, November 26, 1998 2:34 AM
Subject: Re: Mattew 24:5


Actually, I have met this understanding of the text before. As you
mentioned, it understands Jesus to be warning of a future day when false
prophets/teachers will claim that he (Jesus) is the Christ while they
themselves are at heart false prophets/teachers. In other words, Jesus says,
"What out for people who are orthodox in their theology (they admit that I
am the Messiah) but who are really false prophets/teachers. They believe the
right things, but in the end they lead you into astray."

It's a novel interpretation, but for several reasons it does not make much
Rather than looking for some grammatical point (which others have written to
you), I suggeset you just think about what Jesus is saying together with
what you know about early church history and the earliest heresies that
plagued the church. Remember, the recognition of Jesus' sole right to the
claim of Messiah, with all that Messiahship meant (the right for Christ to
call us to himself as his disciples), became the "litmus test" for the
earliest Christians. That is, recognizing Jesus for who he really was became
the basis upon which Christians admitted newcomers into fellowship. What a
person believed about Christ determined whether or not he was a genuine

This is what makes it impossible for me to believe that Jesus is here
telling his disciples "...Be careful of people who recognize who I truly
am...." Jesus' warning about false prophets/teachers only makes sense if the
descriptions he gives of them are NOT also characteristic of genuine
followers of Jesus. That is, it makes no sense for Christ to warn his
disciples of false prophets/teachers to come but then describe them
completely in terms of what must be true of every genuine follower of
Jesus--the recognition of who he truly is.

Therefore, if the interpretation you suggests is correct, then Jesus gave
his disciples no other clue by which to determine whether or not a prophet
or teacher is genuine other than the prophet's admission that Jesus truly
was God's Messiah. But this is no help to us at all! On the other hand, if
the singular fault of false prophets is either their failure to accept
Christ for who he truly is or their claim to be Christ, then we have much
for which to thank Christ, for he has given us an indespensible tool by
which to determine the genuiness of prophets/teachers, that is their
Christology,"Tell me what you believe about Christ!"

Hope this helps,
Tom Belt
Evangelical Assemblies of God of Lebanon

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