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What are the Two Ages in Matthew?

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Gary answers a listener question about the difference between how the word “age” is understood in Matthew 13 and Matthew 24.

Typically, the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13 is often understood as describing the full course of redemptive history leading to the end of our world. It seems, however, that everything in Matthew’s Gospel — from fleeing the wrath that was “about [μελλούσης] to come” (Matt. 3:7; also 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:14–16) to the judgment on that generation (Matt. 23:36; 24:34) — refered specifically to the Jews of Jesus’ day. Of course, this does not mean that the principles associated with the fulfillment of these time indicators do not have application for us today since all Scripture is for “training in righteous that the man of God may be equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). We are called on to learn from Israel’s history, both OT and NT.

Let’s look at Matthew 13:40:

And the enemy who sowed them [the tares] is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. Therefore, just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age (13:40).

It’s important to note that some Greek manuscripts read “this age” and not simply “age.” For example:

  • “Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age” (NKJV), that is, the age to whom Jesus was speaking.
  • “As therefore the … weeds are gathered up and burned with fire; so will it be at the end of this age” (World English Bible), that is, their age.
  • “As, then, the [result of the growth of the tares] is gathered up, and is burned with fire, so shall it be in the full end of this age” (Young’s Literal Translation)
  • “[S]o shall it be in the end of this world [αἰῶνος] (Pulpit Commentary)

This translation matches what we find in Matthew 12:32: “either in this age [the age in which Jesus was addressing His audience], or the age about [μέλλοντι] to come,” that is the New Covenant Age in which we are living.

Jesus v Jerusalem

Most people don’t realize that many if not most of Jesus’ parables were intended not as general morality tales, but as particular pronouncements of coming judgment and change. Jesus was warning Jerusalem to repent and to accept its new King or else fall under ultimate condemnation of God. In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels pertains primarily to that pre-AD 70 crowd, and without reading it in this light, we misunderstand it. And when we misunderstand it, we misapply it.

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Gary answers a listener question about the difference between how the word “age” is understood in Matthew 13 and Matthew 24. Is there a difference between what Jesus was teaching in the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13, and between the destruction of the city and the temple in Matthew 24?

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See Gary’s two-part article on this topic here

American Vision’s mission is to Restore America to its Biblical Foundation—from Genesis to Revelation. American Vision (AV) has been at the heart of worldview study since 1978, providing resources to exhort Christian families and individuals to live by a Biblically based worldview. Visit for more information, content and resources


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