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The Sign of the End of the Age

What Jesus Taught About the Future in Matthew 24

This spirituality book seeks to bring a deeper understanding of the end-times period, vital in a world that shows every sign that this time is near.


Reviews


The Sign of the End of the Age: What Jesus Taught about the Future in Matthew 24

Paul Kalbach
West Bow (Dec 13, 2016)
Softcover $34.95 (492pp)
978-1-5127-0258-3

The Sign of the End of the Age offers a well-grounded take on what Jesus may have meant when he offered his prophetic words.

Paul Kalbach’s The Sign of the End of the Age offers methodical biblical scholarship about a little-agreed upon piece of apocalyptic literature.

This is a detailed exploration of Matthew 24, Jesus’s teaching about the end-time, providing commentary on each verse of the chapter. The work drills down to the Greek beneath translations to clarify the meaning of the text, tackling many individual words in context. In the process, the book covers topics such as the second coming, the rapture, and the time of tribulation, all issues that resonate strongly with more conservative strains of Christian thinking.

Kalbach argues that people can’t know the hour when Jesus will bring about the great tribulation, but people can expect that the end-time will be coming. Further, he suggests that those who are in positions of power in the church have a special duty to help people be born again. Lastly, the book suggests that most people will not be ready and will face Jesus’s wrath, although some will be elected and raptured to safety.

The work is comprehensive in scope, looking not just at Matthew but also at related texts from the letters of Paul and the Hebrew prophets, which will satisfy those who are looking to more fully dive into some of the complicated theological and biblical challenges behind notions of the rapture.

Kalbach’s insights are more textual than theological. This is a work concerned with how to best understand the text, placing it in context of other parts of the Bible, and seeking to describe a coherent narrative as a result. This exegetical work is well done, although more specific sourcing of the material could aid biblical scholars.

The book takes it as a given that the best way to read the Bible is through a literal interpretation, what it describes as a “plain reading,” asserting that much can be gained from such approaches. This might not be everyone’s method, but for those for whom it resonates, the work can be received as a great resource for understanding a complicated passage. Its line by line deconstructions are useful and help to highlight current streams of biblical thinking and Christian belief.

The book’s insistence on such a close reading allows a number of related issues to rise to the fore, including the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. These digressions and explorations help raise Sign up from being just a standard commentary.

The Sign of the End of the Age offers a well-grounded take on what Jesus may have meant when he offered his prophetic words.

JEREMIAH ROOD

 

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 


THE SIGN OF THE END OF THE AGE

Paul Kalbach
Westbow Press (492 pp.)
$34.95 paperback
ISBN: 978-1-5127-0258-3; December 13, 2016

 

BOOK REVIEW

A debut book offers an examination of a key passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew.

In Chapter 24 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is walking with his disciples when they ask him what could be considered fairly elemental questions: what will be the signs of the end of times? How will they be able to tell that Jesus is returning to the world? And Jesus answers them at length, warning them against false messiahs and revealing the various disasters—“great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall”—that would presage the Apocalypse. “It is critically important that we approach these passages—and all the Word of God—in as straightforward a way as possible,” writes Kalbach in his scholarly and well-presented work, “putting a premium on context, comparing Scripture with Scripture, and using other tools for the literal interpretation of Scripture.” Since he characterizes Jesus as the omniscient Son of God who knows the future, the author refers to Matthew 24 as “the gold standard against which we should measure all other prophetic passages.” That “gold standard” forms the core of Kalbach’s extended work of eschatology, in which he scrutinizes every verse of that Matthew passage, every line, every word, often in compellingly intense detail. When reading this chunk of Matthew, which the author asserts cannot be seen as anything other than one of the most important teaching segments in all of Scripture, Kalbach stresses that “God’s Word to us is intended to be understood by us in its normative sense.” But as in all eschatology, the “normative” approach doesn’t work: vast amounts of extrapolation are necessary to turn Jesus’ generalities (“there shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places,” etc.) into a highly specific timetable of the end days. Yet the author’s thorough account is so energetic that his conjectures are uniformly engrossing.

A searching, rigorous, and comprehensive study of how Jesus described the end of the world.

 


The Sign of the End of the Age

Paul Kalbach
WestBow Press, 470 pages, (paperback) $34.95, 978-1-5127-0258-3
(Reviewed April 2017)

Eschatology is the branch of theology dealing with the final events of human history: in other words, the end of the world. Here, Paul Kalbach presents a line-by-line examination of a single chapter in the Gospel Matthew that the author maintains is chockfull of details about what is often called the End Times.

Inspired in many ways by Marvin Rosenthal’s The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church (published in 1990), Kalbach looks to illuminate the Olivet Discourse, a prophetic passage found in different gospels that describes a time of great suffering for God’s chosen people. He argues against many theories, including the pre-tribulation reading of scripture which maintains that the Rapture—a prophesized moment when devout followers of Jesus, both living and dead, will be taken into the sky and united with Christ—will occur before Jesus’s Second Coming. Kalbach respectfully contends that this position is wrong, arguing instead that the Rapture will occur “right after the great tribulation [a period of intense suffering], right at the Lord’s glorious return (Matt. 24:30), and just before the wrath of God is poured out in the day-of-the-Lord judgment.”

If this sounds difficult to follow, that’s because End Times theology is often confusing and seemingly steeped in minutiae to the uninitiated. Yet, Kalbach is devoted to his subject and offers readers background, etymologies, and historical context to illuminate the timeline of Christ’s Second Coming.

Still, much is expected of readers here: a firm grasp of the Old and New Testaments, an astute understanding of eschatological vocabulary, biblical history and much patience (Matt. 24 is less than 1,200 words; Kalbach’s exegesis on that chapter is over 144,000 words). This doesn’t mean the author hasn’t presented his material with competence: His prose is clear and his arguments, while lengthy, seem logical.

While not written for general readers, Kalbach’s prodigious commentary may appeal to some evangelical Christians interested in learning more about premillennial views of the eschaton.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.