The general apocalyptic context of the parables section of 1 Enoch may provide context for the reading of the New Testament, especially the Gospels. When John the Baptist and Jesus appear preaching the Kingdom of God as “at hand,” the original audience would have been quite familiar with the phrase and all that it represented. For the Jew of the first century, the idea of “kingdom” was clear – it was to be the time when God reestablished Israel in the Land. 1 Enoch shares many of these ideas, especially the Book of Parables. It is difficult to know the extent to which the language and themes of the Parables influenced popular thinking in first century Palestine, especially since this section is the only part of 1 Enoch missing from the Qumran literature. With these caveats in mind, the following themes seem to be present in both the Parables and the Gospels.
First, this section anticipates a time of suffering and testing for the elect. The righteous have suffered and shed blood (47:1-2, 4). In 56:5-8 the Parthians and Medes will invade and trample the holy city. The righteous are downcast (62:15) and are being afflicted by the wicked (50:1). The suffering of the elect is not as detailed as the eventual suffering of the wicked, although it is implied in the descriptions of the wicked. The suffering of the wicked is described as birth-pains (62:4). In the Olivet Discourse Jesus used similar language to describe the period just prior to the Parousia. The Similitudes do not have anything like the suffering described in Revelation or the Olivet Discourse, but there is an implication throughout that the righteous are “innocent victims” of the evil schemes of the fallen angels and the kings of this world.
Second, this time of suffering will come to an end when “that Son of Man” is placed on his glorious throne and judges the oppressors. When the Elect One comes the day of salvation has come for the righteous (39:6-7, 50:1-2, 51:2, 62:12-13) and the whole earth will rejoice at the coming of the Elect One (51:4-5). The coming of the Elect One will result in rest from oppression for the righteous (53:6-7). The Elect One will sit on a “throne of glory” to establish justice (45:3-5, 62:3) The righteous will become like the light of the sun and the days of their life will be unending (58:1-3, 61:5-6). Heaven and earth will be transformed into a blessing (44:5-6) and there will be a period of peace. In fact, it was the fallen angels who taught man to make war and weapons of war. The Elect One will restore man to his peaceful state. (52:8-9).
Third, the judgment of the wicked and sinners is quite detailed in 1 Enoch. When the Righteous One appears, the sinners “will be driven from the face of the earth” (38:1) and melt like wax, powerless (52:6). The Elect One will judge Azaz’el and “all the hosts in the name of the Lord of Spirits” (55:4). Kings and rulers will perish (38:5) and the sinner will not be allowed to ascend into heaven (45:2). The Elect One will sit on the seat of glory to make a selection based on the deeds (45:3, 61:8) and there will be no time for repentance for the wicked (62:1-4). Angelic beings are set aside for punishing the kings of this world (53:3-5). The wicked will be punished in a deep valley of burning fire and molten metal where they will be in chains with rough stones on their jaws (54:1-6, 67:6). They will be scourged by “angels of punishment” in this abyss-like valley (56:1-4, 67:1-8) The judgments which will fall on the sinners are called “punishments” (41:2, 53:3, 54:7, 56:1, 60:6) and “wrath” (55:3, 60:12). In later apocalyptic the punishment of the wicked is described in increasingly gory detail (100:3, cf. Ezek. 39:17; Rev 14:20, SibOr. 3:796-808).
In the teaching of Jesus there are a number of parables which make the same sort of statements about the coming messianic age. At that time there will be a harvest and the good wheat will be separated from the bad weeds (Mt 13:24-30) or clean fish from the unclean (13:47-50). In each of these two examples, the “bad” element is placed in a place of fire (a furnace, to be burned up) but the “good” element is placed where it ought to go (the barn, for example.) The Olivet Discourse contains five parables which run along the same lines. There is an unproductive or unprepared character (a lazy servant, foolish virgin, the “goat”) who faces judgment at the surprise return of the delayed central character (the master, the bridegroom, the king). The productive and prepared characters are rewarded by the central character when he unexpectedly returns.
Fourth, the last of these parables is the most eschatological, the so-called Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Jesus constantly refers to himself as the Son of Man in the gospels, a title that is probably derived from Daniel 7:13-14, where someone who is “like a son of man” comes before the ancient of Days to receive the authority to rule (see Mt 19:28, Rev. 1:13). There is little doubt that his disciples could miss his point that this is the “second coming” that they asked about at the beginning of chapter 24. There is a combination of several metaphors in this passage. Jesus is the Son of Man, the King of Glory, and the Great Shepherd all at the same time. This glorious arrival of the Son of Man is accompanied by “all his angels” (Zech. 14:5). When the Son of Man returns as king, he will sit upon a glorious throne and judge the nations, assigning them to their eternal destiny. This general outline is quite compatible with the general apocalyptic outline of the Similitudes.
Fifth, one of the more striking parallels to Elect One / Lord of Spirits is Luke 4:18. Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2, “the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me,” and applies this text to himself. In Matthew 25:31 the King returns and is seated in his “glorious throne” and gathers the nations to judge them, an apocalyptic influenced parable-like saying in which Jesus makes clear he is the returning king. The frequent self-description of Jesus as the “Son of Man” is also critical in this context. When Jesus used this phrase, along with many of the other apocalyptic images used in the Similitudes, did his original listeners hear them in the context of texts like 1 Enoch 61 and 62? When he cited Isaiah 61:1-2 as fulfilled that day, his hearers certainly understood Jesus was claiming something extraordinary although we cannot be sure exactly what it was they were reacting to in Jesus’ claim.
Sixth, those who possess salvation are often described in terms of pure clean garments in the New Testament (62:15, 71:1). Paul describes salvation as a “heavenly dwelling” and garment in 2 Cor. 5:2-4. Revelation makes use of this image several times: 3:5-6 describes the righteous in Sardis as not having “soiled their clothes” while the unrighteous of Laodicea were still shamefully naked. Several times in Revelation those who worship the throne of God are described as “dressed in white” (4:4, 6:11, 7:9, 13, 14, 19:14).
Conclusion. Although there is no New Testament text that can be described as a quote or a direct allusion to the Book of Parables in 1 Enoch, some of the writers if the New Testament have the same apocalyptic spirit. This is no surprise since they both are products of Second Temple period Judaism.