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he was studying the prophecies of Daniel
and Enoch, and believing that the Jews
would gladly welcome in him the Messiah.
He did not admit a nearer proximity
of the kingdom now than formerly. The
usual preparation which he had undertaken
was still needed, — a longer or shorter
work of reformation in the hearts of men,
which he still did not despair of accom-
plishing; but if his people themselves
refused to be converted they were lost,
they would perish at the coming of the
great day. This great day was near at
hand, but not imminent; it was the day of
his own return, the return of the Son of

His entire way of looking upon this
grave subject is summed up in a few
words, in an utterance of his not recorded
in the Gospels, but cited textually by St.
Paul in one of his Epistles, written long
before the Gospels. ^

1 1 Thess. iv. 15 £f.


In A. D. 52 or 53, Paul, writing to the
Thessalonians, quoted to them a "saying
of the Lord." It is this: "We which
are alive and remain unto the coming of
the Lord shall not precede them which
are asleep; for the Lord himself shall
descend from heaven at a given signal, the
voice of the archangel and the trump of
God; and the dead in Christ shall rise
first. Then we which are alive, the rem-
nant, shall be caught up at the same time
with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord
in the air, and thus we shall be forever
with the Lord."^ This assertion of Paul
is fully confirmed by the sayings of Jesus
himself, as the Evangelists have preserved
them. Jesus also spoke of angels sounding
the trumpet, and of his own descent as
Son of man, coming in the clouds of
heaven. All the parables of the close of
his ministry, all his sayings, all his ex-
tended discourses, show that this is pre-

1 It is evident that St. Paul slightly modified the
expression for the convenience of his readers, and that
placing it upon the lips of Jesus we must read thus :
"You who may be alive, having been reserved to see
my appearing," or " the appearing of the Son of man,"
etc. For that matter, St. Paul speaks according to a say-
ing of Jesus, and does not cite it word for word.


cisely his thought, in these days of intense
thought on the subject of the last things,
and that his views never varied.

Intense thought, we say, for in the
latter part of his life Jesus was certainly
much absorbed in these high and grave
questions: the end of the world, his re-
turn, the coming of the kingdom, pre-
ceded by a catastrophe which would
overwhelm his people. That these were
unceasingly in his thoughts is proved by
the parables of this period, every one of
which treats of this same subject (the Ten
Virgins, the Talents, the Marriage Supper,
the Vinedressers, the Last Judgment,
etc.). And as Jesus liked to utter the
last perfected form of his thought in the
form of parables, as it was in parables
that he finally left it, we must seek for
his final thought in the figures that he

This is what we find in them: the
kingdom is always to come ; in the parable
of the Ten Virgins ^ it is represented by
the festal hall which men will enter
whenever the bridegroom shall appear.
The same is the case in the parable of the
1 Matt. XXV. 1 ff.


Minse or the Talents;^ the kingdom will
he given, will he inaugurated; it is there-
fore not yet come. In the words to the
Pharisees of Jerusalem, which date from
this epoch, Jesus says the same: "The
publicans and harlots will enter hefore you
into the kingdom of heaven. "^ Ye shut
up the kingdom of heaven ;2 that is, you
hinder others from making ready to enter,
"and you shall not enter th-erein."

When he ate the Passover with his dis-
ciples, on the night before his death, he
said that one day he would drink the new
wine in the kingdom.* Jesus' first notion
about the kingdom is therefore precisely
the same as his last. The kingdom is not
a spiritual or moral state, realized by him
in the present life, and working itself out
invisibly in the consciousness of his dis-
ciples. There is one only kingdom of
heaven, — that which shall be set up when
the Son of man appears at the end of the
present age ^ or in the age to come.^

As to the great eschatological discourse,

1 Matt. XXV. 14 ff. 2 Matt. xxi. 31.

8 Matt, xxiii. 13.

4 Luke xxii. 16-18 ; Mark xiv. 25 ; Matt. xxvi. 29.

B Matt. xiii. 40, 41. ^ Matt. xix. 28.


SO embarrassing to certain prejudging
critics that they prefer either to deny its
authenticity or to give it an allegorical
explanation, though without having the
shadow of a reason for such an allegoriza-
tion, it is admirably comprehensible from
the historic point of view.^ Jesus was re-
peating what was said in the apocalypses
of his own days, and as he never said that
he was allegorizing, or that his words must
be taken spiritually, no one has any right
to do so. Moreover, these ideas had for a
long time been the property both of him-
self and of the whole people.

1 The authenticity of this discourse has been con-
tested, is contested still in all the various camps of criti-
cism, the most conservative as well as the most radical.
It is certain that parts of it have been worked over. A
simple comparison of the three texts shows that Luke's
account was worked over post eventum ; but its authen-
ticity as a whole appears to me beyond dispute. Who,
indeed, could have invented Mark's account 1 Such
assertions have been disproved by facts ! Modern exe-
getes tell us that Jesus could not have said this or that,
always deciding what he must have said ! We believe
that it is more respectful toward his thought not to per-
mit ourselves to pass judgment on his words, but to set
them forth impartially, just as they have been trans-
mitted to us by disinterested hearers, who more often
than not did not understand him. As to allegorizing
all these words, we leave this to those who find symbols
where Jesus never said that he put any.


It is true that never hitherto had he
spoken so clearly. If he did so now at
last, it was because his violent death was
imminent, and because the kingdom would
come only after his death. This being so,
it was necessary that the apostles should
know and remember it, that when he was
no longer with them, their faith in the
coming of his kingdom should not in the
least be shaken. All that the prophets had
said should be accomplished. He said to
himself, "I shall return! I shall return!"
This certainly sustained him; and before
Caiaphas, when he was condemning him
to death, he exclaimed, " From henceforth
you shall see the Son of man sitting on
the right hand of Power, and coming in
the clouds of heaven,"^ thus showing that

1 Matt. xxvi. 64; Mark xiv. 62; Luke xxii. 69.
There have at times been those who have found in the
words " From this time forward," or " henceforth," the
proof that the words that follow are allegorical. Ac-
cording to this view the return in the clouds is a perma-
nent and spiritual return. Nothing, absolutely nothing,
authorizes such an interpretation, entirely due to the
imagination of these allegorizers. The words "from
this time forth " have a perfectly simple and clear sense,
to which we shall return when we speak of the appear-
ance of Jesus before the Sanhedrin on the occasion of
his trial.


men should daily look forward to the
coming of the kingdom.

The following are indeed the apocalyptic
ideas of Jesus, in their final and complete
form : —

The present order is to come to an end
by a tremendous revolution, a "tribula-
tion " which shall be a time of travail, fol-
lowed by a birth or a new birth, a
"palingenesis."^ This new birth was to
be accompanied by phenomena which
would be only the result of these child-
birth pangs.''*

It is beyond question that certain feat-
ures of this discourse are due to the narra-
tives themselves, since the dates at which
the several accounts were committed to
writing are indicated by the varying
degrees of precision with which the siege
of Jerusalem is described. But Jesus
must have predicted very terrible events.
The passages in which he does so cannot
be unauthentic; they are too closely in
accordance with the ideas of his times.
That terrible events would precede the
Messiah's advent was universally foretold

1 Matt. xix. 28.

2 Matt. xxiv. 3 ff. ; Mark xiii. 4 fE. ; Luke xvii. 22 ff.


and everywhere believed.^ At a given
moment, "the sign of the Son of man"
would appear in the heavens ; this would
be the great day. The sign was to consist
of a luminous vision, a lightning flash, a
flame of Are darting across the sky. Then
the Messiah, that is to say, Christ himself,
would appear in the clouds, coming down
from heaven; the angels would sound the
trump of God. They would surround the
Son of man, whose glory and majesty
would exceed anything that could be
imagined. The twelve apostles should be
seated upon twelve thrones, at his side.
The dead should rise in their own bodies,
and the Messiah should judge the world. ^

This judgment would be shared by men
in two categories according to their works,
good and bad. The sentences would be
executed by angels.^ The elect would be
received into a delightful abode, prepared
for them from the foundation of the

1 Enoch 99, 100, 102, 103; Sibylline Leaves, iii. 336
ff., 633 f., iv. 168 f., V. 511 f . ; Daniel vii. 25 ff,, viii.
23 ff., ix. 26, 27, xii. 1.

2 Matt. xvi. 27, xix. 28, xx. 21, xxiv. 30 f., xxv.
31 ff., xxvi. 64; Mark xiv. 62; Luke xxii. 30; 1 Cor.
XV. 52 ; 2 Cor. v. 10 ; 1 Thess. iv. 15 f.

3 Matt. xiii. 36 f., 49, 50, xxv. 31.


world. ^ There they would sit at table with
Abraham, the patriarchs and the prophets. ^
These would be the minority. ^ The others
would go to Gehenna, a dark valley filled
with fire. There they would be gnawed
by worms, in company with Satan and the
rebel angels. The fall of the angels, as
related by Enoch, was at that time uni-
versally admitted.* There would be weep-
ing and gnashing of teeth. ^ The abode of
the blessed would be like a closed hall,
luminous inside, in the midst of a world of
darkness and torment.^ The new order of
things would be eternal. Happiness and
misery would be endless.

We shall shortly show that Jesus appears
to have held to the destruction of the
wicked, — their annihilation ; but whether
suffering or annihilation, their future state
would be irrevocable, and, in consequence,

1 Matt. XXV. 34.

"^ Matt. viii. 11, xiii. 43, xxvi, 29; Luke xiii. 28, xvi.
22, xxii. 30.

3 Luke xiii. 23 f.

4 Jude 6 ; 2 Pet. ii. 4, 11 ; Rev. xii. 9 ; John viii. 44.

5 Matt. V. 22, viii. 12, x. 28, xiii. 42, .50, xviii. 8, xxiv.
51, XXV. 30 ; Mark ix. 43.

^ Matt. viii. 12, xxii. 13, xxv. 30; Jos. D. B. J. 3,


eternal. An abj-ss lay between the abode
of the blessed and that of the damned.^
The Son of man, forever seated on the
right hand of God, would be the final
judge of men. 2

Jesus had been so clear, so explicit,
that all the first Christian generations
believed that the end of the world was
very near.^ ^'The time is at hand," they
were continually saying ; ^ the Apocalypse
declares it to be in three and a half years. ^

At the same time we must observe that
Jesus never set a time ; he even declared
that he knew not the exact time, the day
and hour were unknown to him.^ It was
to be a surprise." Men must be ready to
depart, must have their loins girded and
their lamps kindled. They were to be

1 Luke xvi. 26.

2 Luke xxii. 69 ; Acts vii. 55.

3 Acts ii. 17, iii. 19 f., v. 23 ; 2 Thess. ii. 8 ; 1 Tim.
vi. 14 ; 2 Tim. iv. 1 ; Titus ii. 13 ; James v. 3, 8; Jude
18; 2 Peter iii.; Rev. i, 1, ii, 5, 16, iii. 11, xi. 14, xxii.
6, 7, 12, 20. Cf. 2 Esdras iv. 26.

4 Rev. i. 3, xxii. 10; Maran-atha, 1 Cor. xvi. 22.
& Rev. xi. 2, 3, xii. 14. Cf. Daniel vii. 25, xii. 7.

6 Mark xiii. 32.

7 Luke xvii. 20. Cf. Babyl. Talm. Sanh. 97a ; Matt,
xxiv. 36 ff. ; Mark xiii. 32 ff. ; Luke xii. 35 f. ; 2 Pet.
iii. 10.


taken unawares as by a thief, or by a
lightning flash. ^

Yet the proximity of the day was immi-
nent. There is no possible equivocation
as to this proximity as affirmed by Jesus. ''^
"This generation shall not pass away
until all be accomplished." "There be
those among you who shall not taste of
death before the kingdom of God have
come."^ The signs of the times were
clear.* The Church believed that John,
whose life was very long, would see the
day before his death. ^

We have already seen that Jesus ad-

1 Luke xvii. 24.

2 Matt. X. 23, chaps, xxiv. and xxv., and especially
xxiv. 34 ; Mark xiii. 30 ; Luke xiii. 35, xxi. 28 ff.

3 Matt. xvi. 28, xxiii. 36, 39, xxiv. 34 ; Mark ix. 1 ;
Luke ix. 27, xxi. 32.

4 Matt. xvi. 2-4 ; Luke xii. 51-56.

5 John xxi. 22, 23. It is hard to understand how the
most perspicacious interpreters, during so many centu-
ries and even to-day, have been unable to perceive what
is said in these Gospels. They are blinded by an a pri-
ori, and allegorize because the event did not take place.
It is incredible how the critical faculty can obliterate
itself to this point. Men see not that which is, that
which stares them in the face, because they cannot see
it. I do not say, because they will not ; no, they are
sincere ; but truly this involuntary blindness is very



mitted the resurrection of the dead. It
was a somewhat new doctrine, unknown
to some, rejected by others. ^ Among the
Pharisees it was a matter of faith. ^

The nature of the resurrection life was a
subject of inquiry. Some said, " They will
eat, Avill drink, will marry." Jesus ex-
cluded marriage.^ He admitted a table, a
feast, a new Passover.*

As to the wicked, he had two doctrines :
sometimes he looked for their annihila-
tion; they should wholly die. This was
to be their punishment, and the righteous
alone were to rise again. ^ At other times
Jesus thought that the wicked would rise
again, to be eternally punished.^

With regard to these points of detail
he introduced no innovations. All these
apocalyptic doctrines were in Daniel,'' in

1 Mark ix. 9 ; Luke xx. 27 f.

2 Daniel xii. 2 f. ; 2 Mace, vii., xii. 45, 46; Acts
xxiii. 6, 8 ; Jos. Ant. Jud. xviii. 1, 3; D. B. J. 2, 8, 14,
and 3, 8, 5.

2 See chap. i. pp. 16 f. Jesus replying to the Sad-

^ Matt. xxvi. 29 ; Luke xxii. 30.

6 Luke xiv. 14, xxi. 35, 36. Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 23 f.;
1 Thess. iv. 13 f. ; 4 Esdras ix. 22.

6 Matt. XXV. 32 ff.

"^ Chaps, ii., vi.-viii., and x.-xiii.


Enoch, ^ in the Sibylline Oracles, ^ and
Jesus accepted these contemporary beliefs
without discussion.

They have been proved false by the
event, for the imminent renewal of all
things did not take place, and the second
Christian generation was tempted to say
that Jesus was mistaken. The apocryphal
Epistle of Peter has preserved for us the
echo of the agonies of conscience suffered
by the disciples of that time.^

How was it, then, that Christians re-
mained Christians after their Master had
been, as it seemed, convicted of error?
Because they found in his teachings other
passages to which they could give an inter-
pretation which calmed their fears. Jesus
had said that the gospel must be " preached
to all nations " before the end should
come.* The end, then, was not imminent.
In the parable of the Mustard Seed, in the
figure of the leaven which acts little by
little, he had predicted a slow work,
which would doubtless go on for a very
long time. And then, thej^ would add,

1 Chap, i., xlv.-lH., Ixii., xciii. ff.

2 iii. 573 ff., 652 ff., 766 ff., 795 ff.

8 2 Peter iii. 3 ff. * Matt. xxiv. 14.


above all, he predicted a Palingenesis, a
renewal of all things; and has this re-
newal not taken place? The kingdom of
God is the Church, a kingdom of the
spirit in which all are kings and priests.
Jesus had also spoken of the uplifting of
the lowly, the insignificant, and the poor,
of the rehabilitation of the humble; this
was the true kingdom.

Now Jesus had said of this uplifting
that it is simply the preparation for the
kingdom, and in his mind the slow action
of leaven and the slow development of the
mustard seed did not signify several cen-
turies, but simply a delay of a few years. ^

The Church has said: Jesus founded
the kingdom, and this kingdom is the
Church. In thus speaking she is both
right and wrong: wrong, for evidently
Jesus did not conceive of the kingdom

1 See *' Jesus Christ During his Ministry," pp. 106 ff.
There remains the remark about the whole world which
was to hear the preaching of the gospel before the com-
ing of the kingdom ; but the authenticity of this saying
is cogently attacked by the most disinterested critics.
If Jesus really said this, we should point out that from
his point of view the earth was very small, and might
be entirely gone over in a few years. And furthermore
we repeat what has already been said : It is impossible to
disprove a whole body of teaching by a single utterance.


under several different forms and in divers
successive manners. No; like all his con-
temporaries, he called the kingdom of
God the state of things described by the
apocalypses of his people. But the
Church was also right, for Jesus — it can-
not be too often repeated — never indulged
in speculation, and never kept strictly to
any defined theory of the kingdom of
God, to any inflexible theological construc-
tion in which nothing could ever be
changed. In this sense he was not a Jew,
and he never pictured to himself the king-
dom of God as a wholly exterior and
miraculous advent of some enormous,
indescribable mechanism descending from
heaven. The Christian Church has made
no mistake in looking upon Jesus, not as
the hero of senseless apocalyptic dreams,
but as the hero of freedom, of conscience,
and the establishment of a new idea of
worship. It has made no mistake in say-
ing that with Jesus the kingdom of God
is the kingdom of souls that belong to
God; for he established the worship that
is in spirit and in truth, a purer wor-
ship than that of Moses. The idea of a
temporal revolution never occurred to


him ; he never accepted it, not even for a
second. The social side of his work was
only a result of its religious side, and was
to be realized only in the future.^ If
Jesus had said nothing more than this,
"The world is coming to an end, you
must detach yourself from your present
life and renounce everything," he would
never have surpassed John the Baptist.
The kingdom was to be the reign of
righteousness, and when he created a
church destined to prepare for the coming
of the kingdom, and which, until the
time when his kingdom should come, was
to pray to God, " Thy kingdom come ! "
he showed an admirable sureness of vision.
No doubt he did not abolish a single one
of the apocalyptic notions of his people,
but he fulfilled, transformed, renew^ed
them. After his death, the apostles — St.
Paul first of all — rejected the Jewish shell
which enclosed the living germ which
Jesus had scattered broadcast by his
preaching, and showed that he had ful-
filled, that is, developed out of the dreams
of his people, all of eternal truth that
they contained.

1 Luke xii. 13, 14.




'V^T'E have spoken of the elation of the
disciples and their expectation of
the imminent appearance of the kingdom.
They entered rival claims for the more im-
portant places in it, which for that matter
was what the Pharisees were doing every

On the way to Jerusalem, on one of
those days when Jesus was walking alone
before the others, absorbed in thought,
Salome asked of him the two highest
places for her two sons.i Jesus, who
also was expecting the kingdom, did not
discountenance this hope ; he did not con-
test the notion that Salome's two sons
might receive their reward in this present
life, and shortly be seated on thrones judg-

1 Matt. XX. 20 f. ; Mark x. 35 f. See " Jesus Christ
Before his Ministry," p. 143.


ing the tribes of Israel ; he simply declared
that it was not he, but the Father, who
would award these places; and then he
related to the disciples a parable^ in
which he made allusion to a recent politi-
cal event, the deposition of Archelaus, a son
of Herod. He had gone to Rome to receive
the investiture ; but the Jews, who detested
him, had sent a deputation to say to the
emperor, " We will not have this man to
reign over us," and had gained their cause.
Finally Jesus addressed the apostles,
speaking with the express purpose of tell-
ing them that he should very soon be put
to death. The apostles did not under-
stand, and full of faith they awaited the
great signal, looking up to the clouds.
Were they not soon to open? Would not
the trumpet soon be heard? Would not
the angels soon appear, heralds of the
descent of the kingdom and of that change
in all things of which Jesus had recently
spoken? But Jesus did not share these
ideas: he believed the coming of the
kingdom to be at a later date than his
disciples supposed. In most of the para-
bles of this period he pictured the lord

1 Luke xix. 12-27.


who "delayed his coming," the father who
"went a long journey," the bridegroom
who "tarried."

There is here no difference between the
early preaching by the lake side and that
of the closing period of his life. In both
the kingdom is at hand, but its coming is
not immediate; his people were so little
prepared, his Galilean work had so com-
pletely fallen below his expectations, that
the coming of the kingdom was by so
much retarded; and besides, must not his
death come first? This was what he was
asking himself, and he believed it to be
the case.

And yet he would make one last attempt;
instead of entering the city quietly like
any pilgrim from abroad, as he had always
done hitherto, he would try a peaceful
manifestation which might, he hoped,
arouse a popular movement in his favor.
He felt indeed that the time was becoming
more and more decisive ; he must be ready
for any event.

How the times had changed ! Formerly
he used to check the apostles, used to say
to them, "Be ye wise as serpents; "^ he
1 Matt. X. 16.


had shunned publicity, and had hidden
himself when the people desired to pro-
claim him king ; now he was about to try
to assume this title, to ask men to give it
to him. He resolved to enter the city in
a solemn procession. Zechariah had pre-
dicted that the Messiah would enter Jeru-
salem riding on an ass ; ^ Jesus knew this
passage, which in his mind was a prophetic
description of the coming of the national
king, entering the Holy City riding on
an animal that was the symbol of peace.
In fact the ass was the animal ridden by
kings in time of peace ; and Jesus decided
to fulfil this prophecy. His intention to
meet and realize it is certain. He there-
fore made preparation for this scene.

Precisely at what time did this mani-
festation occur ? Only five days before the
beginning of the Passover; that is, only
four or five days before his death, for he
was crucified on the first day of the feast,
if not indeed on the day before it.

It has been asked if it is not necessary
to place the triumphal entrance into Jeru-
salem at an earlier date ; if the traditional
date of Palm Sunday is not too late.

1 Zech. ix. 9.


Must we really date it on the first day of
the week in which Jesus was put to death ?
We think so. No doubt we have said that
it is impossible to represent to ourselves
all the acts which the Synoptics relate or
presuppose as having been accumulated in
the first days of the week which then
began; we have pointed out with what
facility at some distance of time memories
are crowded together, and a whole series
of events which in fact occurred much
earlier, and which ought to be distributed
over a long space of time, crowded into
the last days, or even the last hours, of a
man's life. Acts seen from a distance
are massed, foreshortened ; ^ but still we
believe that the entry into Jerusalem is
properly placed on the first day of the
week of Jesus' death. The statements of
the Fourth Gospel on this point are very

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