WHEN ARE "THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES"?
Michael F. Blume
© 2002 Michael F. Blume
Let me state from the start that the futurist interpretation of the phrase "the times of the Gentiles" is not found anywhere in Scripture. Here is their interpretation. They propose that the "times of the Gentiles" is a period of time since the cross in which Israel is generally blinded from the Gospel due to their rejection of Jesus. They believe that all generations, including the one that crucified the Lord, are held back from salvation, with the exception of a few here and there, just as a few Gentiles in the Old Testament days were involved in God's work with Israel. It is alleged that it's now the Gentiles' turn with God, since the entire Old Testament was exclusively for the Israelites.
They also propose that the times of the Gentiles
can alternatively be called the church age. Pre-tribulation rapturist
proponents believe that when the rapture takes place, the times of the
Gentiles for salvation will expire. A few Gentiles will be able to be
involved again, just as it was during Old Testament times, after the
church is removed from this world.
So, it is taken for granted by the futurists that the "times of the Gentiles" is synonymous with "the Church age". This makes the times of the Gentiles predominantly a period of salvation for Gentiles (a few Jews accepted as well). However, the Bible never states that the times of the Gentiles is a time of salvation for Gentiles only. In fact, it never equates this period with salvation in any sense. The association the Bible gives to the "times of the Gentiles" is one of destruction upon Jerusalem.
Let me explain.
First of all, let us note the reference of who God intends to be involved in the "Church age."
Gentiles and Jews both are baptized into one Body of Christ for the time after the cross until the resurrection. There is no time for exclusive involvement with gentiles. Where did this idea come from that teaches the Gentiles will be exclusively dealt with before the Jews? Surely not the Apostles!
Since the time of the cross, the Jews will not be dealt with exclusively after any period of work with the Gentiles. Yes, the Apostles did indeed mention "the times of the Gentiles" being fulfilled. And somewhere along the line, despite the absence of any such explanation by those apostles, the idea was contrived by futurists that God will primarily work with the Gentiles in saving them, after which the Jews will exclusively be dealt with. It was furthered imagined that this involved the removal of the Gentile "Church", as though it were primarily Gentile, after which the time for dealing with Jews will arrive. Yes, the apostles mentioned the "times of the Gentiles" being fulfilled. But they did not explain anything about that being a time when Gentiles are exclusively saved and Jews are excluded to be dealt with afterwards.
The scriptures that speak of this issue are as follows:
These are the only verses that mention this issue.
Please note that Revelation 11:2 associates the times of the Gentiles with destruction upon the city of Jerusalem. And it says that siege will last 3.5 years. This is precisely how long it took Rome to destroy Jerusalem, which ended in A.D. 70. In Luke 21:24, Jesus also associated the times of the Gentiles with the destruction of Jerusalem. Had nobody read any views of Futurists concerning the "times of the Gentiles," no one would ever guess that such a term in the Bible is synonymous with the period of salvation for the Gentiles exclusively with the exception of a few Jews here and there, like the early disciples. The Apostles said nothing about times of the Gentiles being the Church age!
Luke 21 mentions it in lieu of the Jerusalem destruction, which occurred in A.D. 70. Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trodden down until this period is fulfilled. Jesus said those were the days of vengeance. Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies and that would signal the Church to flee. So when this siege would be over, the times of the Gentiles would be completed. And Revelation 11 says the duration would be 3.5 years. Think about it. The Gentiles would do the treading, and Rome indeed trod down Jerusalem for 3.5 years; Jesus said that would be the end of the times of the Gentiles.
So what is the "times of the Gentiles"? It's the period God used Gentile nations to afflict Jerusalem! This occurred since Old Testament times. Daniel's vision of the four Gentile kingdoms (not five) spoke of the very same thing! Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and finally Rome, all afflicted Jerusalem throughout history. But it would end in A.D. 70. Those years would be fulfilled in A.D. 70. One of the first elements of Kingdom Eschatology that caught my attention, and pointed me in this direction, was the discovery that Rome took precisely 3.5 years to tread down Jerusalem, and it ended in A.D. 70, as Revelation 11:2 noted!
Jesus only cursed that single generation of Jews, though! He did not curse the entire Jewish race past that generation! The Futurist interpretation makes the grand error of claiming God cursed all Jews of all generations up until our day, and that in our future, He will lift the curse and reveal Christ to them again. This is absolute error, and somewhat racist! The only Jews ever cursed to be blinded were the Jews of that generation who crucified Jesus.
Notice that Jesus noted fulfillment in light of the reference to that generation. I propose that this includes the thought of the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles.
You will only discover Jesus cursing that generation of Israel, and since that generation was judged, Jews are no more blinded in general than are Chinese, Indians, or any other race of people! The truth of Jesus is for whosoever will!
To say that God would judge the subsequent generations of a wicked people is to refute scripture itself.
Futurists readily admit that God cursed Israel for their rejection of Christ. However, He cannot curse all generations of the sin of the generation that rejected Him! Futurism glaringly errs in this point.
Notice this point about why salvation came to Gentiles. Keep it in mind as we proceed! The Gentiles were resorted to in the endeavors of the apostles and their Gospel preaching to provoke the Jews to come back to God in jealousy.
Notice that Paul distinctly explained that he was preaching to Gentiles in his day in hopes of provoking the Jews to jealousy. Paul did not look at his present time as one that was simply never going to see Jews saved, and permanently blinded. He believed God blinded the Jews of his day, and that also, in his day, the blinders would be lifted. Paul preached to Gentiles partly for the sake of provoking Jews to jealousy that they might come to Christ. In other words, he believed the blindness would be lifted during his day! If he believed that the blindness would continue on for several centuries longer, he would not have preached to provoke them to jealousy.
The blindness of the Jews would be removed if they
would believe. Unbelief brought on their blindness. In other words,
their faith would cause them to be grafted back onto the tree!
And they would come in through faith by accepting
the preached word of the Gospel!
The words of verse 26, and so all Israel shall be saved..." speak explicitly of the manner Israel would be saved. In what manner? You must read all the previous verses that I have discussed in order to know what that manner of saving the Jews will be. And that manner is the provoking of Jews to jealousy through the preaching to the Gentiles. And that was the very thing Paul was doing, giving us the understanding that Paul's words had nothing to do with a future time when Israel might come into the Church. He was the one who wrote the words of the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled. And he fully believed that would occur in his day.
Jesus had told the disciples that His coming in
wrath against Jerusalem would occur at any moment. They knew not the
day nor hour. He told them to flee Jerusalem when the city would be
encompassed with armies, for then would occur the abomination of
Here we see the reference to the times of the Gentiles in distinct context of the A.D. 70 siege.
Whatever the abomination was, we know from these words that it would occur when Jerusalem was surrounded by armies.
And Paul fully believed the words of the Lord that it could happen at any time. When the Gentiles were finished in destroying the city, the blinders would be lifted. that generation would have been dealt with, and all subsequent generations of Jews would be as free to accept the Gospel as any other nation of people!
Michael F. Blume is a minister with Rightly Dividing the Word. He is assistant pastor Bible Truth Church, El Campo, TX. His website’s address is: www.mikeblume.com
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