The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.
Shifting gears for a few posts, we will look at Paul’s and Jesus’ warnings in view of imminent expectation of the end of the age. So, in considering this we will look at Jesus’ warning concerning the leaven of the Pharisees, Paul’s warning about the pollution of the flock to the elders of Ephesus in Acts twenty and, the prophecy of the strong delusion in 2Thessalonians chapter two.
There is a record of Jesus’ warning about the leaven of the Pharisees in all three synoptic gospels (Mat 16:6-11; Mark 8:5; Luke 12:1). In the Matthew account he identified the leaven of the Pharisees as their teaching or doctrine and in Luke he warned that the leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy.
We can find places in the New Testament where the Pharisee believers questioned the inclusion of the Gentiles via the gospel. Acts fifteen and, Paul’s letter to the Galatians sheds light on the leaven of the Pharisees. It was a teaching that promoted Law righteousness which was explained as self righteousness in Romans 10:1-4. Paul went so far as to say that in establishing their own righteousness by the Law, the Jews did not submit to the righteousness of God.
It is important to emphasize that in the book of Acts, Paul who was expecting an imminent fulfillment of the end of the ages warned the Ephesians that after he left, wolves would come in not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29). Paul also warns Timothy that in the last days, the imminent first century last days I might add, that some will depart from the faith because of the doctrines of demons.
Finally, in 2 Thessalonians chapter two, Paul talks about an apostasy from the faith that would happen before the parousia, the coming of the Lord in judgment (2Thess 2:11-12). When one looks at the imminent expectation of the New Testament scriptures it is apparent that this strong delusion will influence the believers and that because they did not love the truth, God turned them over to a strong delusion so that they would actually believe what is false.
Two historical figures could possibly be seen as a fulfillment of this prophecy. The beast could well be Nero and, the false prophet could be John of Giscala, a false messianic figure that took refuge in the temple, killed the high priest and put another in his place. The high priest that John installed was not from the proper lineage to be a high priest. There are many historians and theologians that see 666 as Aramaic code for Nero. Certainly, Nero demanded that he be worshipped as lord and savior of the Roman Empire and its subjects.