“Many Shall Be Offended”

“Many Shall Be Offended” December 14, 2022

Advent is the time to meditate on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  This does not have to involve attending to the End Times prophecies of dispensational preachers on TV or the internet.  But one of them said something–though wrong–that intrigued me greatly.

On a YouTube video entitled The Collapse of Everything, End Times preacher Tom Hughes cites how people are always claiming to be “offended” all the time as a sign that Christ is coming soon.  The video, which has racked up over 88,000 views, has attracted the attention of a bemused press.  But hear him out.

He comes to this conclusion on the basis of Matthew 24:10, in which, among other signs of His coming and of the end of the age, Jesus says this:  “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24:10; KJV).

That’s the wording in the King James Version.  But the ESV renders the passage “And then many will fall away” (ESV).  The NIV has “At that time many will turn away from the faith” (NIV).  The American Standard Version comes closer to the metaphor that is in the original:  “And then shall many stumble”  (American Standard Version).  And the Catholic Douay-Rheims Version transliterates that metaphor, which has become a word of its own in the English language:  “And then shall many be scandalized.”

The Greek word is σκανδαλισθήσονται, the passive participle for the verb derived from (to use Roman letters) skandalon, meaning “stumbling block.”  As in 1 Corinthians 1: 23: “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (ESV).

So to preserve the figure of speech, we might say that many will be tripped up.  Which means that many will come upon something that they cannot accept, that they find scandalous, and, yes, offensive.

The Jews might have accepted a Christ, the long-sought Messiah, but “Christ crucified” is a stumbling block.  The Messiah they expected would be a victorious king, not a crucified criminal.  That would be a humiliation, a failure, at best a martyrdom.  As for this claim that this crucifixion is a sacrifice that atones for our failure to keep the Law, that is just unacceptable.  A crucified Messiah would be scandalous.  That people are making such claims is offensive.

Today many people are fine with Christianity up to a point, but the Christian sexual ethic is for them a stumbling block, something they find offensive.  So they reject Christianity as a whole.

And, as of old, Christ crucified remains a stumbling block, and not just for Jews.  Many people are happy to consider Jesus Christ a great moral teacher and an example to us all, but the cross?  Atonement?  Redemption?  They won’t go that far.

Some people don’t believe in Jesus and what he has done for us because they don’t believe in God, or miracles, or a spiritual realm, or because they think it’s unfair that God would punish His Son for what other people have done.  These are the Greeks.  They think Christ crucified, along with the rest of Christianity, is “foolish.”

But others are tripped up by one point–be it the atonement or a moral teaching or because a Christian has hurt them in the past– for which they reject Christianity completely.

I would contend that this is the main reason people reject Christianity in these End Times.

(More on End Times prophecies tomorrow.)


Illustration:  Tripping by Luis Prado from Noun Project, CC




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