"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world, the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from the just; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.—Matt.13:47-50.
The "furnace of fire" and "gnashing of teeth" will be fully explained, as also the "end of the world," or age (aion) in subsequent parts of this book. The material universe, this world (kosmos) is never spoken of as ending, but it is always the aion, or age, the end of which is announced. "The field is the world," kosmos, v.38, but "the end of the world," when the harvest comes, v. 39, is aion. The age ends, but not the world.
The kingdom of heaven is Christ's rule among men, his church. It is a net which catches good and bad, and at the end of that age, so often referred to, when severe judgments were to come, the angels, or messengers to execute God's judgments, would separate Christians from others, and the bad were to suffer in the furnace of fire, the burning city, and perish in Gehenna.
Dr. Clark says: "It is very remarkable that not a single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, though there were many there when Cestius Gallus invaded the city; and had he persevered in the siege, he would have rendered himself master of it; but when he, unexpectedly and unaccountably, raised the siege, the Christians took that opportunity to escape."
This language has sole reference to the remarkable trials through which the early Christians were about to pass, when Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Christian religion was fairly established on the ruins of the Jewish church. The "furnace of fire," the "wailing and gnashing of teeth," were when the awful calamities of those fearful days, so fully described in Matt. xxiv, were visited upon the people of Judea. These expressions will be more fully explained hereafter.
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