9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
Matthew 24. The mini – apocalypse, the passage that speaks of the end times, judgement, apostacy. Scary stuff, full of dramatic images and threats, with so many opinions on what the Lord was trying to communicate to His followers.
Some who follow this topic of Conditional Security on Considering the Bible may have wondered why this passage has not shown up in the series previously. It seems it is such a slam dunk passage to support the Conditional Security position, and it may well be.
Let’s take a look at it for a few moments.
Jesus is speaking to His disciples at this time, addressing the disciples questions about His coming, and the end of the age. The very first words out of His mouth need to be heeded – “See that no one leads you astray”
He warns His disciples first and foremost of deception in this topic of His future coming into His kingdom, and that they were to be vigilant in understanding the times to come. Just before the verses we are considering today, the Lord warns His disciples that there is only one Christ, and that self proclaimed substitutes would be many. The disciples will hears of many wars and rumors of wars – Don’t be worried. There is still time.
Christians will be persecuted, even hated by other for His names sake. Tribulation will be the believers experience, and this tribulation will result in death for some, with the nations, the heathen, those who are outside the faith, hating believers.
This persecution, or this tribulation the believer experiences will result in the falling away. Because of this hatred (from the nations), many will fall away, they will skandalizō, they will be offended, they will fall away.
Who are these “many” who will fall away? Context demands that the word “many” refer to those who would be delivered up to tribulation, those who follow as disciples.
Persecution will provide opportunity for followers to fall away. Yet does this mean a loss of salvation, the abandonment of the Christian life, the turning away from following Him? It appears that the two descriptors in verse 10 describe the non-Christian, in that the non Christian is allowed to betray one another, and to hate one another. Just the very verse prior, the nations are described as hating others!
The true believer, in following Jesus is faithful to those he knows, and loves those he comes in contact with. Is Jesus describing a believer when he decides to betray instead of exercising faith, to hate instead of to love? Is that the desciption of a believer?
This is a difficult passage to understand, but the warning seems obvious, for even in persecution, to follow Jesus is to be faithful, to be one who exercises sacrificial love to those he comes in contact with.
To those reading this post, don’t wait for persecution to come to your life to decide to love others and to be faithful. Live the Christian life each day, and pray for strength to follow when persecution does arrive, for we know we all must experience some persecution in our lives. Be faithful. Love those around you with a sacrifical love.
In doing so, we may be preparing for times that will provide greater challenge than we expect.
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