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I've heard people use Matthew 10:16-25 as a prophecy regarding the end times.

Matthew 10:16-25 NET

“I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of people, because they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues. And you will be brought before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them and the Gentiles. Whenever they hand you over for trial, do not worry about how to speak or what to say, for what you should say will be given to you at that time. For it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Whenever they persecute you in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

“A disciple is not greater than his teacher, nor a slave greater than his master. It is enough for the disciple to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house ‘Beelzebul,’ how much more will they defame the members of his household!

However, the context here is the sending out of the disciples for a period of ministry. So doesn't "before the Son of Man comes" - and the corresponding prophetic view of persecution - refer to the end of this time of ministry and not His future return?

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2 Answers

This is a good example of a doctrine guiding the exegesis.

The plain text says "Whenever they persecute you in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

If we presume that Son of Man did not come yet (a doctrine) we push this out as a reference to the end times.

Instead, if we let the text speak we ask "In what way did Christ come before they finished going from town to town? The answer is that he came for them at the moments of their deaths. He returned as a thief in the night from the perspective of time.

In order to reconcile this with rapture scenarios, the rapture must also occur at the moment of death, but it must happen for everyone together. The solution is that the rapture is a perspective of the same deaths but from the viewpoint of timeless eternity. We depart separately but arrive simultaneously where time does not exist.

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Although there are similarities between these passages and some end of times passages, these particular verses are talking about the ministry of Jesus' 12 disciples. Since they wouldn't live long enough to see His return, Jesus might have well said "before [your time] comes".

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