16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.
18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;
20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.
22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
testimony to (v.18) — their arrests would give them opportunities to proclaim the kingdom before governors, kings and Gentiles
children will rise up (v.21) — Micah 7:6 — Verse 21 refers to the viciousness of the persecution toward those who proclaim the Messiah.
Son of Man comes (v.23) — the second coming at the end of the Tribulation
The coming of the Son of Man which is mentioned is His second coming. The giving of the testimony by Jewish disciples concerning the Kingdom of the heavens is according to the words of our Lord to continue till He comes again. How are we to understand this? The testimony which was begun by the apostles up to the time when Israel rejected once more the offers of mercy from the risen Lord, when He was still waiting for their repentance as a nation, is an unfinished testimony. After that offer was again rejected [after Pentecost] the great parenthesis, the church age, began, and during this age (which is not reckoned in the Old Testament) there is no more Jewish testimony of the kingdom of the heavens. Israel nationally is set aside, blindness in part is theirs till the fullness of the Gentiles is come in. When the church is complete and the rapture of the saints has taken place, then the Lord begins to deal with His people Israel again. There is the seventieth week of Daniel 9 yet to come … In this coming last week of seven years the church testimony is finished and Jewish believers will take up the unfinished testimony to the nation and proclaim once more “The Kingdom of the heavens is at hand.” The 24th chapter in this Gospel is a continuation of the 10th chapter, inasmuch as Matthew 24 shows us the unfinished testimony of the 10th chapter, finished and completed. (Matthew 24:5-32). In Matthew 24 we read of the great tribulation, so likewise here in the tenth chapter. In Micah 7 we read of a dark picture and there the Spirit of Christ reveals a tribulation, which His lips on the earth proclaim to His disciples. Then during the tribulation (never now) it will mean enduring to the end and salvation will come then by the visible return of the Son of Man from heaven. What our Lord said in verses 17 -18 about persecutions from Jews and Gentiles for these witnesses will find its final great fulfillment in that great tribulation, when not alone the unbelieving nation will persecute the believing and witnessing Jewish remnant, but nations as well. — Gaebelein, pages 209-210.
Most of my other commentaries say that this coming of the Son of Man referred to here by the Lord in verse 23 is a reference to judgment on Israel for disbelief and that it was fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
This didn’t make much sense to me because the Lord’s comment in verse 22 that “he who endures to the end will be saved,” can only refer to the Tribulation so the next verse must also. But I was a little confused by the phrase “you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes,” so I emailed Ricky Kurth and asked him. Here’s his reply:
You are right and the commentaries are wrong. The context is all Tribulation, which the Jews the Lord was speaking to would have lived to see if the dispensation of grace hadn’t interrupted the prophetic program.I think these words may have been the Lord’s way of letting them know that the kingdom would not be ushered in by their efforts. That is, that the kingdom wouldn’t be established because the little flock will be successful in converting the entire nation of Israel. Rather, it will be established by the power of the Second Coming of Christ.
Psalm 110:1 says,
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool”
We know that happened after Christ ascended into heaven. Verse 2 then says,
“The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies”
That’s a description of the Second Coming and of how the Lord will rule in the kingdom. But the next verse says,
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power …”
In other words, it will take the Second Coming of Christ to make the people of Israel willing to obey. That will mean that the kingdom won’t be established by the little flock converting the nation.
The little flock Ricky refers to is the small group of Jews who did believe and accept Christ as Messiah during His ministry and in the early chapter of Acts before the offer of the Kingdom was withdrawn for a time.