The Faith of the Son of ManVolume 3, Number 19
Created Date: July 25, 2009
Posted Date: July 25, 2009
Faith in the Synoptic Gospels as taught by the Greek word “pistis” - Part 5:
We continue our study of the Greek word “pistis” translated with the English noun “faith” found 24 times in Matthew, Mark and Luke. (It is not found in the book of John.) Jesus uttered it 23 times, His disciples once. Part 1 of this series (Vol 3, No 15) described 8 incidents in which Jesus alluded to the faith of 13 people as the key to their healing and/or forgiveness from sins. In Part 2 (Vol 3, No 16) we studied 4 incidents in which Jesus told His disciples all they could accomplish if they had even a tiny amount of faith and the one occasion when the apostles asked Him to increase their faith. Part 3 (Vol 3, No 17) examined the word used once regarding the Apostle Peter's faith being tried. In our last study (Part 4, Vol 3, No 18) we saw the word used to teach that the Law given to Moses had to be kept through faith in God and not in one's own self. The 14 incidents studied to date account for 23 of the 24 occurrences of “pistis” in the Gospels. Today we examine the 15th incident (24th occurrence.) This is in b when Jesus asked His disciples the question: “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
Dominion of the Son of Man/The Kingdom of God on earth: Before we look at what faith means here we need to consider the title “the Son of man,” which occurs 88 times in the New Testament, 84 of which are in the Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John where Jesus refers to Himself all 84 times. (This title also occurs once in Acts; once in Hebrews and twice in Revelation.) When used of Christ it always includes the article “the.” The title, “the Son of man” has to do with His relationship in dominion on earth. To understand this we have to go back to the first Adam who was originally given dominion over the works of the Creator,. However, this was forfeited by the fall, Genesis 3, lost to mankind and has been in abeyance since then. Satan has unsuccessfully attempted to gain this dominance on earth from time to time through various world leaders but he has not and will not succeed until he raises up the Antichrist, who will have this power for a short time. After that, the last Adam, ( ) “the Son of man” to whom all dominion in earth has been given by God, will take His great power and reign over the Kingdom of God on earth. (See Appendix 98 of the Companion Bible.)
The context of our study today starts atand culminates in Luke 18:8, where Jesus asked whether the Son of man will find faith when He returns to earth. In the chapters leading up to Luke 17:20 Jesus was talking to, alternatively: publicans and sinners; His own disciples; and unbelieving Pharisees and Scribes, teaching about various aspects of the Kingdom of God. Then the Pharisees demanded He tell them when the Kingdom of God would come and He answers that it would not come merely because they wanted it to, Luke 17:20. Jesus points out that some will attempt to mislead by saying the Kingdom of God is here or there when actually it will be right among them, . Then He turns from the Pharisees: “And He said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.” . His title, “the Son of man,” is used a total of 5 times in the context, i.e., 17:22, 24, 26, 30 & 18:8 and makes clear that the Kingdom of God on earth will not come to fruition until the Son of man takes his place therein.
In 17:23 & 24 Jesus warns His disciples that false prophets will claim the Kingdom of God is here or there but they should ignore them because it will be obvious to everyone when it comes because it will be like lightning striking from one part of heaven and across the sky.
During Jesus' ministry His disciples were looking for His Kingdom, i.e., the Kingdom of God, to be established on earth and they asked Him a number of times when it would happen and even discussed which of them would be the greatest therein,. His disciples were not aware He had to suffer and die even though Jesus alluded to this a number of times. So it is here that Jesus told His disciples that He, who will someday take dominion over the earth as the Son of man, must first suffer and be rejected by that generation, . He then pointes ahead to the future day of tribulation that will preceed the days of the Son of Man (the Kingdom of God), using as examples the days of Noah, 17:26 & 27 and what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Lot, 17:28 & 29. He said the Son of Man will come suddenly and sure judgment will come to this sinful world when He does, 17:30 - 37. (We note here that it has been almost 2000 years since His suffering and death, Luke 17:25, but the tribulation, followed by His coming as described in has as yet still not occurred.)
After describing the times of the Kingdom of God when He will take dominion as the Son of man Jesus gives the parable of an unjust judge into inform His disciples what their attitude should be in waiting for His Kingdom. Unlike most parables, this one gives the explanation first: “And he spake a parable unto them [to this end], that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” Luke 18:1. He is teaching that during the Great Tribulation God's people should continue in prayer and not give up, i.e., they must have faith that God will answer their prayers. Then He gives an example of a self-righteous all powerful earthly judge who really doesn't have to be concerned about anything but his own personal agenda, . A woman comes before him with a grievance against someone who is abusing her in some way and asks for his help verse 3. She is a poor widow, which in those days meant she had no authority or power on her own.
Although this judge doesn't give a twit about her and her problem, her persistence makes him weary so he grants her wish just to get rid of her nuisance, verses 4 & 5. Jesus then asks rhetorically, if this unjust, ungodly judge would give in and grant redress to a helpless woman, it is only logical that God will avenge His own elect, i.e., those who belong to him, who cry day and night to Him. Luke :18:6 - 8a.
Jesus then asks, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”b. The answer to this rhetorical question is: He will not find faith on earth, per se, but only in those who continue in prayer to Him and faint not, as stated in Luke 18:1. We learn from this parable among other things that Prayer is the resource or asset of faith. A person who doesn't have faith that God is and that He will provide what He has said, does not pray. However, on the other hand, those who believe God's Word and His promises do pray to God for His will to be done. The Jewish disciples of Jesus living at the time He spoke these words subsequently died, but they kept the faith. They offered up prayers to God until the end and they will be raised up into the Kingdom of God when the Son of man returns. However, these words spoken by Jesus almost 2000 years ago are also addressed to and will encourage and comfort a true believing remnant of Jews living in the future at the time of the Great Tribulation who will be looking for the Son of man to return. They will read these words then and continue in prayer until He comes for them. They will have the entire Word of God, as revealed to the Apostles Paul, John, etc., and will understand that the man Jesus who humbled Himself unto death, , will rule over the Kingdom of God on earth as the Son of man, & 14:14.
Jesus' message in our text today is directed to Jewish believers during the Great Tribulation period, which has not yet occurred.
But, His title “the Son of man” is not found in the Pauline epistles because Paul's writings contain God's promises to believers living today in this age of Grace. We will not go through the Tribulation, which will lead to the Kingdom of God on earth. His promises to us today are not earthly but heavenly in nature and calling,; 2:6; ; 3:1 - 4; . However, we find the role of prayer for us is similar to what Jesus taught His disciples. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul to write to we who are living in this age of Grace today: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” . And even if we don't know what is best for us we have assurance that God does: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to [the will of] God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.” . See also ; ; .
For us today the “bottom line” so to speak, as revealed through the Apostle Paul is basically the same as what Jesus told His disciples when it comes to prayer.
Paul, by inspiration of God, tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”. The difference between the Jewish remnant who will be living during the Tribulation period and us today is that they will be looking for the Son of man to return to earth to rule over the Kingdom of God on earth while we are looking for the rapture, when we will be caught up by the Lord Jesus Christ to heaven, ; 4:13 - 17, etc., which occurs before the Tribulation Period.