Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Read Chapter 13
Ambrose of Milan
For just as he calls the things that are not as though they were, so he has made things future as though they were. It cannot come to pass that they should not be. Those things that he has directed to be necessarily will be. Therefore he who has made the things that are to be, knows them already in the way in which they are to be. .
Under the example of a tree the Lord gave a pattern of the end, saying, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree, when her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near. So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.”.
This fruit bearing of the fig tree may also be understood to mean the state of the synagogue, which was condemned to everlasting barrenness, because when the Lord came, it had no fruits of righteousness in those who were then unfaithful. But the Apostle has said that when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in , all Israel shall besaved. What means this, but that the tree, which has been long barren, shall then yield the fruit, which it had withheld? When this shall happen, doubt not that a summer of true peace is at hand.
By generation He either means the whole race of mankind, or specially the Jews.
The heaven which shall pass away isnot the ethereal or starry heaven, but the heaven ...
Alive, to transform my words by certain various interpretations, in order to the dissolution of the law; as though I also myself were of such a mind, but did not freely proclaim it, which God forbid! For such a thing were to act in opposition to the law of God which was spoken by Moses, and was borne witness to by our Lord in respect of its eternal continuance; for thus he spoke: "The heavens and the earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law."
Nothing of this world is more durable than the heavens and the earth, and nothing in the order of nature passes away more quickly than speech. Words, as long as they are incomplete, are not yet words. Once completed they cease utterly to be. In fact they cannot be perfected except by their own passing away. Therefore he says: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass.” As if he were openly to say: all that seems to you enduring and unchangeable is not enduring and without change in eternity. And everything of mine that seems to pass away is enduring and without change. My speech, that seems to pass away, utters thoughts (sententiae manentes) which endure forever.
Or else, the leaves which come forth are words now spoken, the summer at hand is the day of Judgment, in which every tree shall show what it had within it, deadness for burning, or greenness to be planted with the tree of life. There follows: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till these things be done.”
It is usual for the Scriptures to call the change of the world from its present dire condition to a better and more glorious one by the idiom of “destruction.” For its earlier form is thereby lost in the change of all things to a state of greater splendor. This is not a contradiction or absurdity. Paul says that it is not the world as such but the “fashion of this world” that passes away. So it is Scripture’s habit to call the passing from worse to better as “destruction.” Think of a child who passes from a childish stage to amore mature stage. We sometimes express this as an undoing of outmoded patterns.
As if He had said, As when the fig tree puts forth its leaves, summer follows at once, so also after the woes of Antichrist, at once, without an interval, shall be the coming of Christ, who will be to the just as summer after winter, but to sinners, winter after summer. Or are we to say, that not all those things which are mentioned above are to be taken in, but only some of them, that is, leaving out these words, “Then shall ye see the Son of Man coming;” for that shall be the end itself, and not its approach only. But Matthew has declared that it is to be received without exception, saying, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” That which is said above must therefore be taken thus; “And He shall send His angels, and gather together the elect from the four winds;” that is, He shall collect His elect from the four winds of heaven, which He does in the whole of the last hour, coming in His members as in clouds.