Birth pangs of new beginnings
Birth pangs and labor pains signal destruction in sight with new beginnings promised from the ruins of that destruction. According to the War Scroll the final age was to be preceded by a period of tribulation or "birth pangs [of the Messiah]" (1QH 3:7-10), which "shall be a time of salvation for the People of God ..." (1QM 1)(B.C.E.). This 1st statement is best illustrated by two verses from the fourth chapter of Micah where the Prophet states:
9: Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pangs have seized you like a woman in travail?
10: Writhe and groan, O daughter of
11: Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, “Let her be profaned, and let our eyes gaze upon
With respect to verses 9-10 in Micah, Stephen L. Cook, The Social Roots of Biblical Yahwism, writes: “New life will come for the people only after they have suffered the fall of
Beginning in the mid-first century, we see the first reference to birth pangs in one of Paul’s earliest letters. In 1 Th. 5:3 we read: “When people say, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape.” The emergence of false prophets appear to reflect the circumstances from the mid-fifties CE to the end of the Jewish War as described by Josephus. Both Matthew and Mark include “all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.” The calamities existing at the close of the present age and the beginning of the new age are said to present the birth-pangs of the new age.
The Greek word ἀρχὴ occupies the same role in Matthew and Mark as does the three instances of “now” in Micah. Cook writes: “Each passage begins with the word “now” followed by a vivid description of
Luke does not include the birth-pangs because he is writing early and has not experienced the banditry, false messiahs and the abomination of desolation.