Below are notes made in preparation for a Bible study on Matthew 24. These notes were originally created in theWord Bible software - free software I highly recommend. For the purpose of my study group all Bible references will be from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) unless otherwise indicated. Rather than an essay, the below is organized in a study Bible format.
IF there were a subhead to this article, it would be
"The Supposed Future Gets Interesting When You Have a History Book."
Matthew 24:1, 3Matthew 24:1, 3 (CSB)
As Jesus left and was going out of the temple, his disciples came up and called his attention to its buildings... While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? ” : The path Jesus has taken after leaving Jerusalem desolate (Matthew 23:38Matthew 23:38 (CSB)
See, your house is left to you desolate. ) is similar to the path taken in the vision in Ezekiel 11:22-23Ezekiel 11:22-23 (CSB)
Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, lifted their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. The glory of the Lord rose up from within the city and stopped on the mountain east of the city. when the glory of God departs the temple. Just as the glory went to the Mount of Olives, so too does Jesus after leaving the temple.
Matthew 24:2Matthew 24:2 (CSB)
He replied to them, “Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down.” : See Luke 19:42-44Luke 19:42-44 (CSB)
saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you when your enemies will build a barricade around you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you and your children among you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in your midst, because you did not recognize the time when God visited you.” where Jesus also talks about not one stone being left on another (here, Jesus adds conversation about being hemmed in). See Historical Quote 1 below.
Matthew 24:3Matthew 24:3 (CSB)
While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? ” : What did the disciples mean when they asked about "the end of the age"? (G165) An "age" can be either eternity or a period of time. We can consider the world to have three ages - the age before the Church age (the time of old, before Jesus, or the age of the law), the Church age (from the time of the resurrection until Jesus' return), and the coming age of eternity. Some commentators will say the disciples meant the end of the age of the law while others will say they meant the end of the world. In Matthew 5:17Matthew 5:17 (CSB)
“Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. , Jesus had said he came to to fulfill the law, so it is possible the disciples were thinking the age of the law. We must remember that in the disciples' minds, Jesus was not going to die and they were expecting that he, as Messiah, would at that time set up his kingdom and overthrow Rome.
Matthew 24:4-5Matthew 24:4-5 (CSB)
Jesus replied to them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. : See Ephesians 5:6Ephesians 5:6 (CSB)
Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. , 1 John 2:18-221 John 2:18-22 (CSB)
Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. By this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. and Jeremiah 29:8Jeremiah 29:8 (CSB)
For this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Don’t let your prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you, and don’t listen to the dreams you elicit from them, . Also note this idea is not new, as noted in Acts 5:36-37Acts 5:36-37 (CSB)
Some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his followers were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following. He also perished, and all his followers were scattered. .
Matthew 24:6Matthew 24:6 (CSB)
You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. : See Historical Quote 2 below.
Matthew 24:7Matthew 24:7 (CSB)
For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. : See Historical Quote 3 below regarding famine and Historical Quote 4 below regarding earthquakes.
Matthew 24:8Matthew 24:8 (CSB)
All these events are the beginning of labor pains. Consider Romans 8:22Romans 8:22 (CSB)
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. . God's timing is not our own. While we may think of "labor pains" as the last few moments, it is evident that labor pains have been apparent in the created order since the time of the fall.
Matthew 24:9Matthew 24:9 (CSB)
“Then they will hand you over to be persecuted, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. : See Acts 11:19Acts 11:19 (CSB)
Now those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. ; 2 Corinthians 11:262 Corinthians 11:26 (CSB)
On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; (and the many cross references there). Also see Historical Quote 5 below.
Matthew 24:11Matthew 24:11 (CSB)
Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. : See Acts 13:6Acts 13:6 (CSB)
When they had traveled the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. , 20:29-30Acts 20:29-30 (CSB)
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them. ; 2 Corinthians 11:11-152 Corinthians 11:11-15 (CSB)
Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows I do! But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny an opportunity to those who want to be regarded as our equals in what they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no great surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will be according to their works. ; 2 Peter 2:1-32 Peter 2:1-3 (CSB)
There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with made-up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep. ; 1 John 4:11 John 4:1 (CSB)
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. . Also see Historical Quote 7 below.
Matthew 24:11-12Matthew 24:11-12 (CSB)
Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. : See Matthew 12:39Matthew 12:39 (CSB)
He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. ; 2 Peter 2:1-3+2 Peter 2:1-3 (CSB)
There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with made-up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep. ; Hebrews 6:4-6Hebrews 6:4-6 (CSB)
For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, who shared in the Holy Spirit, who tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away. This is because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding him up to contempt. ; 1 John 2:191 John 2:19 (CSB)
They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. . Also see Historical Quote 8 below.
Matthew 24:13Matthew 24:13 (CSB)
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. : The end of what he is talking about, not the end of time itself. Death would also suffice "the end" for an individual if they are martyred or die in the faith.
Matthew 24:14Matthew 24:14 (CSB)
This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. : For the Greek word translated "world" (G3625), some translations insert the word "Roman" in front of the word "World" to make unsticky certain texts. Keep this in mind when researching how the NT authors used the this Greek word for "world" in their writings (note there are three Greek words translated "world"):
G3625 (from Thayer):
1) the inhabited earth (this generality agrees with most lexicons)
1a) the portion of the earth inhabited by the Greeks, in distinction from the lands of the barbarians (in Greek writings)
1b) the Roman empire, all the subjects of the empire
1c) the whole inhabited earth, the world
1d) the inhabitants of the earth, men
2) the universe, the world
G2889 - BY FAR the most common word used for "world" in the New Testament (from Strongs):
1) orderly arrangement, i.e. decoration.
2) (by implication) the world including its inhabitants.
G165 - In certain translations this word is sometimes translated "world," but the word can mean "age" more than "world"
Matthew 24:14Matthew 24:14 (CSB)
This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. uses G3625, which may well mean the Roman world. However, it is convenient for some views to separate out the "Roman" aspect of this view to say that the gospel must be preached to every tribe and tongue on earth before Jesus' return, rather than possibly saying that the gospel was to be preached before the whole Roman world before Rome sacked Jerusalem.
Examples of G3625 where "Roman" is sometimes specified/added by the translation: Luke 2:1 (NIV, AMP, NLT vs. CSB vs. NKJV)Luke 2:1
NIV 2011: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
AMP 2015: Now in those days a decree went out from [the emperor] Caesar Augustus, that all the inhabited world (the Roman Empire) should be registered [in a census].
NLT 2015: At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.
CSB 2017: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered.
NKJV: And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
; Luke 4:5 (Not specified)Luke 4:5
NIV 2011: The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
AMP 2015: The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
NLT 2015: Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
CSB 2017: And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
NKJV: The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. ; Acts 11:28 (NIV, NLT, CSB vs. AMP, NKVJActs 11:28
NIV 2011: One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)
NLT 2015: One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.)
CSB 2017: One of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the reign of Claudius.
AMP 2015: One of them named Agabus stood up and prophesied through the [Holy] Spirit that a severe famine would come on the entire world. And this did happen during the reign of Claudius.
NKJV: Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. ; Acts 24:5 (CSB vs. NIV, NLT, AMP, NKJVActs 24:5
CSB 2017: For we have found this man to be a plague, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the Roman world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
NIV 2011: We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.
NLT 2015: We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes.
AMP: For we have found this man to be a public menace and one who instigates dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the [heretical] sect of the Nazarenes.
NKVJ: For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. . As can be seen, if one didn't realize that the translators added "Roman" they might think this specification was in the original Greek text when it was not.
G3625 is only used in a few locations:
Used as "world" - sometimes meaning empire - Matthew 24:14Matthew 24:14 (CSB)
This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. , Luke 2:1, 4:5, 21:26Luke 2:1, 4:5, 21:26 (CSB)
2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered.
4:5 So he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
21:26 People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world, because the powers of the heavens will be shaken. ; Acts 11:28, 17:6, 17:31, 19:27, 24:5Acts 11:28, 17:6, 17:31, 19:27, 24:5 (CSB)
11:28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the reign of Claudius.
17:6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too,
17:31 because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.
19:27 Not only do we run a risk that our business may be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be despised and her magnificence come to the verge of ruin — the very one all of Asia and the world worship.
24:5 For we have found this man to be a plague, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the Roman world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. ; Romans 10:18Romans 10:18 (CSB)
But I ask, “Did they not hear? ” Yes, they did: Their voice has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world. ; Hebrews 1:6, 2:5Hebrews 1:6, 2:5 (CSB)
1:6 Again, when he brings his firstborn into the world, he says, And let all God’s angels worship him.
2:5 For he has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about. ; Revelation 3:10, 12:9, 16:14Revelation 3:10, 12:9, 16:14 (CSB)
3:10 Because you have kept my command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
12:9 So the great dragon was thrown out — the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him.
16:14 For they are demonic spirits performing signs, who travel to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for the battle on the great day of God, the Almighty. .
As you go through the list above, knowing how G3625 often refers to what the disciples would know of as the world, it makes texts such as Romans 10:18Romans 10:18 (CSB)
But I ask, “Did they not hear? ” Yes, they did: Their voice has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world. easier. Also, in Acts 17:6Acts 17:6 (CSB)
When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, , it makes sense that at that time it wasn't the entire Earth that had been turned upside down. This may also change the message to the Church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10Revelation 3:10 (CSB)
Because you have kept my command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. more specific to a past event than a future, as well.
In looking at the old testament, and how those writers considered the entirety of the world, consider Deuteronomy 2:25Deuteronomy 2:25 (CSB)
Today I will begin to put the fear and dread of you on the peoples everywhere under heaven. They will hear the report about you, tremble, and be in anguish because of you.’ ; 1 Chronicles 14:171 Chronicles 14:17 (CSB)
Then David’s fame spread throughout the lands, and the Lord caused all the nations to be terrified of him. ; Psalms 118:10Psalms 118:10 (CSB)
All the nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I destroyed them. ; Jeremiah 27:7Jeremiah 27:7 (CSB)
All nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until the time for his own land comes, and then many nations and great kings will enslave him. ; Daniel 2:38Daniel 2:38 (CSB)
Wherever people live — or wild animals, or birds of the sky — he has handed them over to you and made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold. (in Daniel's interpretation to the king regarding Babylon).
Additionally, see Colossians 1:6Colossians 1:6 (CSB)
that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and came to truly appreciate God’s grace. , Colossians 1:23Colossians 1:23 (CSB)
if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it. and Romans 16:26Romans 16:26 (CSB)
but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles — . Paul clearly took that the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven. His understanding of Jesus' words in Matthew 24:14Matthew 24:14 (CSB)
This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. would have been that Jesus was referring to the Roman world - the world that knew of the Jews - the world the Jews were familiar with. Finally, see Acts 2:5Acts 2:5 (CSB)
Now there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, devout people from every nation under heaven. .
Admittedly, some texts are still difficult, especially for those with a future view of the verses from Revelation.
Matthew 24:15Matthew 24:15 (CSB)
“So when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” (let the reader understand), should be considered with the parallel in Luke 21:20-22Luke 21:20-22 (CSB)
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those inside the city must leave it, and those who are in the country must not enter it, because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written. , as each passage gives detail of what happens when those in Judea must flee to the mountains. It is possible that Luke is defining the abomination of desolation by instead saying "see Jerusalem surrounded by armies." Despite the modern connotations attached to the phrase "abomination of desolation," we should be careful to take the phrase at face value. An abomination is simply something that is offensive to God. Desolation is just that - desolation. Here, we seem to have an abomination that is combined with desolation; when this is seen, desolation should be the expected end. Such an end did occur in 70 AD.
In addition to the destruction noted, Josephus records abominable activity on the temple grounds and people other than the high priest entering into the The Most Holy Place. See Historical Quotes 9 and Historical Quote 10 below.
Matthew 24:16-20Matthew 24:16-20 (CSB)
“then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. A man on the housetop must not come down to get things out of his house, and a man in the field must not go back to get his coat. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days! Pray that your escape may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. : The specifics of what to do when the above is seen is very particular to the area of Jerusalem. If this were some great end-time event, then much of the world would be able to breathe a sigh of relief and say "Thank goodness I don't live in Judea!"
As it is, we know from History that there was an initial confrontation in the year 66 with Procurator Gessius Florus where 3600 were killed (See Josephus The Wars of the Jews 2.14.9). Later in 66 during the Feast of Tabernacles there was another confrontation when Cestius. There was clear warning of the upcoming siege and time for most Christians to get out. After Cestius left, but before the complete invasion in 70, Jerusalem was known as a city of great violence and turmoil - had the Christians left, they would have been safe from this mayhem.
While not studied here, it is worth noting that the Jewish war is typically considered a 7 year war, with the midpoint being the destruction of Jerusalem in 70, which is also the point at which the temple sacrifices stopped.
Matthew 24:19Matthew 24:19 (CSB)
Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days! : Josephus does tell the story of a woman named Mary who ate her nursing child due to the severity of the famine brought on by the siege (see Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.3.4.). Jesus, in the midst of being crucified, lamented for mothers and their children due to the coming days (see Luke 23:28-30Luke 23:28-30 (CSB)
But turning to them, Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children. Look, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the women without children, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed! ’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us! ’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us! ’ and Jeremiah 19:6-9Jeremiah 19:6-9 (CSB)
“ ‘Therefore, look, the days are coming — this is the LORD’s declaration — when this place will no longer be called Topheth and Ben Hinnom Valley, but Slaughter Valley. I will spoil the plans of Judah and Jerusalem in this place. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, by the hand of those who intend to take their life. I will provide their corpses as food for the birds of the sky and for the wild animals of the land. I will make this city desolate, an object of scorn. Everyone who passes by it will be appalled and scoff because of all its wounds. I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and they will eat each other’s flesh in the distressing siege inflicted on them by their enemies who intend to take their life.’ ).
Matthew 24:21Matthew 24:21 (CSB)
For at that time there will be great distress, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again. : See Acts 8:1-3Acts 8:1-3 (CSB)
Saul agreed with putting him to death. On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply over him. Saul, however, was ravaging the church. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison. regarding tribulation from the Jews to the church. These days would also bring great tribulation from the Romans, as seen throughout Josephus' writings. Regarding the phrase "from the beginning of the world until now, and never will be" we must consider Biblical language. Such hyperbolic language has been used by Jesus and Old Testament writers:
Consider the comparisons between the swarm of locust in Exodus 10:14Exodus 10:14 (CSB)
The locusts went up over the entire land of Egypt and settled on the whole territory of Egypt. Never before had there been such a large number of locusts, and there never will be again. and the swarm described in Joel 2:2-11Joel 2:2-11 (CSB)
a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and total darkness, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people appears, such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come. A fire devours in front of them, and behind them a flame blazes. The land in front of them is like the garden of Eden, but behind them, it is like a desert wasteland; there is no escape from them. Their appearance is like that of horses, and they gallop like war horses. They bound on the tops of the mountains. Their sound is like the sound of chariots, like the sound of fiery flames consuming stubble, like a mighty army deployed for war. Nations writhe in horror before them; all faces turn pale. They attack as warriors attack; they scale walls as men of war do. Each goes on his own path, and they do not change their course. They do not push each other; each proceeds on his own path. They dodge the arrows, never stopping. They storm the city; they run on the wall; they climb into the houses; they enter through the windows like thieves. The earth quakes before them; the sky shakes. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars cease their shining. The LORD makes his voice heard in the presence of his army. His camp is very large; those who carry out his command are powerful. Indeed, the day of the LORD is terrible and dreadful — who can endure it? (especially verse 2Joel 2:2 (CSB)
a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and total darkness, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people appears, such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come. ).
Consider the wording of Ezekiel 5:9Ezekiel 5:9 (CSB)
Because of all your detestable practices, I will do to you what I have never done before and what I will never do again. or Daniel 9:12Daniel 9:12 (CSB)
He has carried out his words that he spoke against us and against our rulers by bringing on us a disaster that is so great that nothing like what has been done to Jerusalem has ever been done under all of heaven. regarding Jerusalem being destroyed.
Compare Scripture's words regarding Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:52 Kings 18:5 (CSB)
Hezekiah relied on the LORD God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. and then Josiah in 2 Kings 23:252 Kings 23:25 (CSB)
Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him. .
1 Kings 3:121 Kings 3:12 (CSB)
I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. says that Solomon had a wise and discerning mind and that none like him should arise after him, but Jesus said in Matthew 12:42Matthew 12:42 (CSB)
The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look — something greater than Solomon is here. that something greater than Solomon was here.
Also consider the words of Jesus in Luke 14:26Luke 14:26 (CSB)
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, and even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. .
The disciples understood how language was used in scripture and how Jesus had used language himself. They likely knew from Jesus' words that the destruction was going to happen in their lifetimes (this generation) and was to be bad. And indeed, it happened in their lifetimes, and it was beyond any terror they could have imagined.
Matthew 24:22Matthew 24:22 (CSB)
Unless those days were cut short, no one would be saved. But those days will be cut short because of the elect. : It was so terrible, that if the days had not been cut short, no one would have been saved. To this point, it could be that "cut short" meant "stopped," as in "stop the killing." The parallel in Mark 13:20Mark 13:20 (CSB)
If the Lord had not cut those days short, no one would be saved. But he cut those days short for the sake of the elect, whom he chose. supports this view. History does tell us that at least one million Jews were killed during the war, but the killing was stopped, and 100 thousand were lead away captive and allowed to live. This scattered a remnant of Jews away from Jerusalem.
Also, if these words spoke only of a still future great cataclysmic horror beyond anything we can imagine, would having those in Judah flee to the mountains really be the saving solution?
Matthew 24:23-26Matthew 24:23-26 (CSB)
“If anyone tells you then, ‘See, here is the Messiah! ’ or, ‘Over here! ’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note: I have told you in advance. So if they tell you, ‘See, he’s in the wilderness! ’ don’t go out; or, ‘See, he’s in the storerooms! ’ do not believe it. : (see Matthew 24:4-5Matthew 24:4-5 (CSB)
Jesus replied to them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. above). Also consider 2 John 1:72 John 1:7 (CSB)
Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. and 2 Peter 2:12 Peter 2:1 (CSB)
There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.
For Matthew 24:24Matthew 24:24 (CSB)
For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. , see Acts 8:9-11Acts 8:9-11 (CSB)
A man named Simon had previously practiced sorcery in that city and amazed the Samaritan people, while claiming to be somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least of them to the greatest, and they said, “This man is called the Great Power of God.” They were attentive to him because he had amazed them with his sorceries for a long time. . For the history of paid false prophets who used lies to herd the Jews into the temple so that they could be destroyed by Rome, see Historical Quote 11, below. Sadly, the Jews who rejected the true Prophet, Priest and King fell for the paid lies of Rome's false prophets who help lead the Jews to their own entrapment.
History also records that Vespasian was thought to be the Messiah by many of the Jews during the Jewish war. See Historical Quote 12, below.
Matthew 24:27Matthew 24:27 (CSB)
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. : Here, Jesus describes exactly what his true coming will look like - lightening. Everything else falls short. He is not hiding. Someone doing signs and wonders isn't what you need to look for - even if leaders in high position (those who may appear to be the elect) confirm the signs are true. No one group will have seen it while other groups have not (so if your cult leader says he knows Jesus has come back and is invisibly hidden, not yet revealed, this verse proves him wrong). Regarding going out to the wilderness, history tells us that those who fell for the lies were often taken or killed by the Romans, as the Romans worked to put down anyone who they saw as usurping their authority. See Historical Quote 13, below.
Matthew 24:28Matthew 24:28 (CSB)
Wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will gather. : Having made this aside*, Jesus continues in Matthew 24:28Matthew 24:28 (CSB)
Wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will gather. . Jesus has left Jerusalem desolate. The Spirit of God is no longer in their temple, for the veil was torn and the Spirit now rests in the Church. Just like vultures will gather at a corpse, the Roman army sees that they can conquer Jerusalem, or any other uprising of false prophets. The Romans had eagles on their ensigns, and in the Greek, both "vulture" and "eagle" are the same word, determined by context (Strong's G105). It could also be that literal vultures had ripe pickings, due to the number of dead in Jerusalem. Additionally, history tells us that Jerusalem was filled with dead bodies. See Historical Quote 14, Below.
*Preterists would say that Jesus was not making an aside in Matthew 24:27Matthew 24:27 (CSB)
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. , and point to historical events described by Tacitus, Josephus and others regarding lightening hitting the temple and other supernatural phenomenon. For one example, see Josephus The War of the Jews 6.5.3. This view of Matthew 24:27Matthew 24:27 (CSB)
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. is not addressed in these notes. However, it is possible that there is some illusion to God coming in judgment, similar to what is described in Psalms 118:7-15Psalms 118:7-15 (CSB)
The Lord is my helper; therefore, I will look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humanity. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in nobles. All the nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I destroyed them. They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I destroyed them. They surrounded me like bees; they were extinguished like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord I destroyed them. They pushed me hard to make me fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. There are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly! , which will be discussed with verse 30, below.
Matthew 24:29Matthew 24:29 (CSB)
“Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. : Here we have the cosmological signs that futurists would say have never been seen, and will not be seen until the final day. This may be, but if we consider the language of the Bible, such cosmological language has been used in multiple instances for events that are known to have happened in the past. Consider the following similar uses of figurative language in scripture:
Isaiah 13:4-5, 10, 12-13Isaiah 13:4-5, 10, 12-13 (CSB)
13:4-5: Listen, a commotion on the mountains, like that of a mighty people! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations being gathered together! The Lord of Armies is mobilizing an army for war. They are coming from a distant land, from the farthest horizon — the Lord and the weapons of his wrath — to destroy the whole country.
13:10: Indeed, the stars of the sky and its constellations will not give their light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shine.
13:12-13: I will punish the world for its evil, and wicked people for their iniquities. I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant and humiliate the insolence of tyrants. I will make a human more scarce than fine gold, and mankind more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will shake from its foundations at the wrath of the Lord of Armies, on the day of his burning anger. , all speaking of the destruction of Babylon.
Isaiah 34:4Isaiah 34:4 (CSB)
All the stars in the sky will dissolve. The sky will roll up like a scroll, and its stars will all wither as leaves wither on the vine, and foliage on the fig tree. , speaking to the destruction of Edom.
Jeremiah 4:23-26Jeremiah 4:23-26 (CSB)
I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty. I looked to the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills shook. I looked, and there was no human being, and all the birds of the sky had fled. I looked, and the fertile field was a wilderness. All its cities were torn down because of the Lord and his burning anger. speaking of the fall of Judah.
Ezekiel 32:6-8Ezekiel 32:6-8 (CSB)
I will drench the land with the flow of your blood, even to the mountains; the ravines will be filled with your gore. When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars. I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. I will darken all the shining lights in the heavens over you, and will bring darkness on your land. This is the declaration of the Lord God. , speaking of the destruction of Pharaoh.
Also consider the texts of Joel 2:10, 3:15-16Joel 2:10, 3:15-16 (CSB)
2:10: The earth quakes before them; the sky shakes. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars cease their shining.
3:15-16: The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will cease their shining. The Lord will roar from Zion and make his voice heard from Jerusalem; heaven and earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the Israelites. ; Isaiah 24:23Isaiah 24:23 (CSB)
The moon will be put to shame and the sun disgraced, because the Lord of Armies will reign as king on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, and he will display his glory in the presence of his elders. ; and Amos 8:9Amos 8:9 (CSB)
And in that day — this is the declaration of the Lord God — I will make the sun go down at noon; I will darken the land in the daytime. .
At Pentecost, Peter said what was spoken of by the prophet Joel (Joel 2:30-31Joel 2:30-31 (CSB)
I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. ) was being fulfilled. After speaking about prophesying, seeing visions, dreaming dreams, Joel says in Acts 2:19-20, "And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood." This, Peter said, was fulfilled at Pentecost.
If we understand that figurative language is figurative for some passages, we should not try to make it literal in others. It is reasonable to think that this language speaks to the resulting horror that will be visible to all who see the ruins of Jerusalem.
Matthew 24:30Matthew 24:30 (CSB)
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. : No matter your eschatology, verses 29-31Matthew 24:29-31 (CSB)
“Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. may be difficult. Since these verses are included under the umbrella that the generation Jesus was speaking to would not pass away before what was said took place, I believe it is best to look for interpretation that allows the Word of God to be true in this regard, especially when one considers how "generation" is used throughout scripture. As we noted above, when Jesus said "this generation" he likely meant "this generation" - not all generations in the church age or some future generation that he called "this generation" without any clarification and regardless of the confusion the term would cause.
Considerations from the text: Note many translations say "tribes of the land" rather than "tribes of the earth" or "people of the earth." One of the definitions of "earth" is tract of land/territory/region, rather than the whole world (Strong's G1093). For tribes/people, the Greek is Strong's G5443, which typically refers to the tribes of Israel. There is no requirement that this verse hold to a worldwide understanding.
The word for "coming" in verse 30Matthew 24:30 (CSB)
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (emphasis mine) is not the word "parousia" (Strong's G3952), but is instead the word "erchomai" (Strong's G2064). Parousia, when used in reference to Jesus, is typically associated with Jesus' final return. The term erchomai is more open and can apply to any "coming" in general. While this does not negate the idea that Jesus could be speaking about his final, end-times coming, it does not support it either. Jesus has been very careful with his language, and if he wanted his listeners to be certain he was talking about the final return, he would likely have used the term "parousia" in this sentence, much the way he did when specifying what his coming would look like verse 27Matthew 24:27 (CSB)
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man. and will again in verses 37 and 39Matthew 24:37, 39 (CSB)
As the days of Noah were, so the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man will be... They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. This is the way the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man will be. .
This verse aludes to Zechariah 12:10-14Zechariah 12:10-14 (CSB)
“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David and the residents of Jerusalem, and they will look at me whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for him as one weeps for a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, every family by itself: the family of David’s house by itself and their women by themselves; the family of Nathan’s house by itself and their women by themselves; the family of Levi’s house by itself and their women by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself and their women by themselves; all the remaining families, every family by itself, and their women by themselves. . Here, it is specifically the House of David and the residents of Jerusalem who are referenced, not the entirety of the world.
As noted above, in Psalms 18:7-15Psalms 18:7-15 (CSB)
Then the earth shook and quaked; the foundations of the mountains trembled; they shook because he burned with anger. Smoke rose from his nostrils, and consuming fire came from his mouth; coals were set ablaze by it. He bent the heavens and came down, total darkness beneath his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his hiding place, dark storm clouds his canopy around him. From the radiance of his presence, his clouds swept onward with hail and blazing coals. The Lord thundered from heaven; the Most High made his voice heard. He shot his arrows and scattered them; he hurled lightning bolts and routed them. The depths of the sea became visible, the foundations of the world were exposed, at your rebuke, Lord, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. David describes God's coming in judgment on the day that the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies and the hand of Saul. The language could well describe "the sign of the Son of Man (that) will appear in the sky." With this view, the darkening of the sun and moon in verse 29Matthew 24:29 (CSB)
“Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. could be a reference to the coming judgment, or the aftermath of that judgment. Ezekiel 32:7Ezekiel 32:7 (CSB)
“ ‘When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars. I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. says specifically, referring to the judgment of Pharaoh that when (God) "suff(s) you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud And the moon will not give its light."
Whether Matthew 24:30Matthew 24:30 (CSB)
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. represents literal or figurative signs, with the judgment of Jerusalem, clearly the tribes of Israel would have mourned, realizing their immanent demise. Many may have realized the destruction was due to what they had done to their Messiah. Regarding the signs, historians do give accounts of cosmological signs around the time of the Jewish war with Rome. See Historical Note 15, below. These signs began to appear after Florus entered Jerusalem in 66 AD and killed 3000 Jews. This does create questions of timing, though, as "and then" would suggest the signs occur after the destruction - but maybe this is after the initial 3000 are killed. If figurative, it could be that the destruction of Jerusalem is the sign that the "Son of Man in heaven" (KJV wording) has been enthroned and is now in power. While some translations use "sky" in this verse, others use "heaven." Both are appropriate definitions of Strong's G3772. Regardless of our exact view here, it is unlikely this is speaking to any sign regarding the end of the age, as for that day, there will be no sign given. The parousia will be sudden and unexpected, as discussed below beginning with verse 36Matthew 24:36 (CSB)
“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows — neither the angels of heaven nor the Son — except the Father alone. .
It might also be wise to consider the language of Daniel 7:13-14Daniel 7:13-14 (CSB)
I continued watching in the night visions, and suddenly one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. He was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed. . Here, the "coming" of the one like a son of man was not a coming to earth, but rather a coming into his kingdom in approaching the Ancient of Days. Just because some modern traditions make some think of the Parousia when considering this verse does not mean that the Jews of the first century, aware of the Old Testament scriptures and this type of language, would have thought the same. In the Old Testament, this type of language was associated with the collapse of political powers, such as Babylon, Edom and Juda, noted above. With the destruction of the temple, a new power needs to take its place and Jesus' enthronement represents that new power (also see Matthew 26:64Matthew 26:64 (CSB)
“You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” ). With this view, Matthew 24:31Matthew 24:31 (CSB)
He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. should then be interpreted as being about the present day gathering of new converts from the four corners of the earth. I believe this is the appropriate interpretation of these scriptures but there are other views as well.
Matthew 24:31Matthew 24:31 (CSB)
He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. : Some Preterists see this verse, as well as 1 Thessalonians 4:16-171 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (CSB)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. and 1 Corinthians 15:521 Corinthians 15:52 (CSB)
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. as a past event and point to supposed historical facts to support this point. I am not convinced of this interpretation.
The pre-tribulation rapture view would see this (along with all of 29-31Matthew 24:29-31 (CSB)
“Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. ) as an end-time event - the rapture of the Church. If this is the case (and it may well be), then we would have to see the introduction "Immediately after the tribulation of those days" as an introductory to an aside about the end times given immediately after telling of Jerusalem's soon coming troubles. But this carries its own problems. First, even though with God a thousand years is as one day, the use of the word "immediately" is problematic. Also, putting this aside very shortly before saying "So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates." (Matthew 24:33Matthew 24:33 (CSB)
In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that he is near — at the door. ) brings confusion regarding the fact that "concerning that day and hour, no one knows." I prefer to keep things chronological, where it seems most logical to do so, so because of that, as noted above, I believe verse 31Matthew 24:31 (CSB)
He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. may speak to what happens regarding the mission of the church - they will gather the elect from the four corners of the earth. While most translations say "angel" here, the Greek verb can also mean (human) "messengers" (as exampled in Matthew 11:10Matthew 11:10 (CSB)
This is the one about whom it is written: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. , Mark 1:2Mark 1:2 (CSB)
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. and Luke 7:27Luke 7:27 (CSB)
This is the one about whom it is written: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. , referencing John the Baptist, and as also exampled in Luke 7:25, 9:52Luke 7:24 & 9:52 (CSB)
7:24: After John’s messengers left, he began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind?
9:52: He sent messengers ahead of himself, and on the way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make preparations for him. and James 2:25James 2:25 (CSB)
In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route? ). It is possible that many translators' end-times eschatology is the reason for the word "angels." It could also be that "angels" refers to angelic assistance in human evangelism. It could be that Jesus knows the word can be translated either way, and as he intends the meaning, he is happy with the vagueness of the word. In Greek, only context would determine which English word is meant.
To me, squaring the text with "this generation" is important. Those who don't, who say these are future events, have to square this text with the immediately following text, "but about that day and hour, no one knows" (verse 36Matthew 24:36 (CSB)
“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows — neither the angels of heaven nor the Son — except the Father alone. ), and the parables Jesus gives to support the idea that regarding the day of his return, no one knows or even expects. Because of this dichotomy, everything before "this generation" and everything after must be about two different events. Even if not understood fully, this separation of knowledge (for the one, watch for these signs, for the other, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son...) sets a wall around how far our interpretations may wander, and in today's world, some have wandered quite far.
Matthew 24:32-35Matthew 24:32-35 (CSB)
“Learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that he is near — at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. : Jesus again mentions the fig tree, which has been used as a metaphor for judgment throughout Matthew's gospel. Here, he again refers to the fig tree to point to the fact that his disciples can know when the previously mentioned events will take place. In fact, the promise is given - it will happen in their very generation. He affirms this by stressing that his words are eternal, no matter what happens to the heavens and the earth.
--Enter a division of an unknown number of years--
The rest of the chapter answers the second part of the disciples question (And what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?). In the following discourse and parables, Jesus explains that while the signs regarding the destruction of Jerusalem will be obvious, there will be no such signs regarding his final return - we are simply to be ready.
Matthew 24:36Matthew 24:36 (CSB)
“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows — neither the angels of heaven nor the Son — except the Father alone. : See Acts 1:7Acts 1:7 (CSB)
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. : Even the seasons/periods are not to be known regarding when the kingdom will be restored to Israel (which we know is perfected in Jesus - the TRUE Israel). Under his earthly veil, before his resurrection, even Jesus didn't know the day or hour.
Matthew 24:37-41Matthew 24:37-41 (CSB)
As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. This is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding grain with a hand mill; one will be taken and one left. : All of my life I've heard that this represents the rapture of the "Left Behind" view of the end times. However, in the rapture scenario, the Godly are taken, but in the days of Noah, the ungodly were swept away and the Godly were saved alive. If the rapture scenario were the point here, Jesus might have better said, "Whereas in the days of Noah the ungodly were swept away, at the coming of the Son of Man, the ungodly will be saved alive, but those who are mine will be swept away to meet me in the sky" (or something similar). Jesus may instead be saying that as in the days of Noah, they did not know until they were swept away in judgment, so to will be with the coming of the Son of Man, and men will not know until they are swept away in judgment. Two will be standing, and one will be taken and one will be left. With this explanation, just as in the days of Noah, it is the sinner who will be taken and the righteous who will be left - the opposite of the rapture scenario.
Matthew 24:42-44Matthew 24:42-44 (CSB)
Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. : Some try to say that only the sinners won't know, and his followers will know, but Jesus has precluded that view in the previous discourse. Speaking directly to (and only to) his disciples, Jesus has said "Now concerning that day and hour no one knows." (Matthew 24:36Matthew 24:36 (CSB)
“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows — neither the angels of heaven nor the Son — except the Father alone. ). Immediately after this he again stresses "Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming" (Matthew 24:42Matthew 24:42 (CSB)
Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. ), and then again a moment after that (Matthew 24:44Matthew 24:44 (CSB)
This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. )! At the resurrection he will later confirm, "It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority." (Acts 1:7Acts 1:7 (CSB)
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. ). I believe the main point here is that we need to be ready and alert at all times, for he could come at any time, and it will definitely be at a time when we don't expect. If we think we have reason to believe that he may come at a particular time (as opposed to any other particular time), then we should be wary of our thinking. Also see 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Thessalonians 5:2 (CSB)
For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. , 2 Peter 3:102 Peter 3:10 (CSB)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. , Revelation 3:3 & 16:15Revelation 3:3 & 16:15 (CSB)
3:3: Remember, then, what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come upon you.
16:15: "Look, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame.".
Make note here - Jesus is not saying "Just like if the man had known at what hour his house would have been broken into, he could have been ready, you can know what hour I am coming so you can be ready." It feels foolish to even write that sentence, but I have heard this preached. The point of the thief is that the we can't know - thieves do not advertise the time, or even the approximate time of arrival. Thieves do not give notice, and neither will Jesus. If anything, Jesus has gone further in the opposite direction. Jesus said to his disciples that he will come at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:44Matthew 24:44 (CSB)
This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. ). If we expect a specific season, day, or time, we should be wary of our expectations.
Matthew 24:45-51Matthew 24:45-51 (CSB)
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom the master finds doing his job when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delayed,’ and starts to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with drunkards, that servant’s master will come on a day he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. : The Jehovah's Witnesses' governing body claims this passage exclusively as their own. They are, so they say, "the faithful and wise servant." Their congregants expect that only the governing body will have the needed answers when the end times come. They are taught not to listen to anyone else. Tuck this knowledge away, for maybe someday the correct exegesis of these verses, as they relate in context to the full of Jesus' discourse, will benefit should a JW come to your door.
So who is the faithful and wise servant? First, we must notice something about this parable. It is not pointing out a specific individual or group. It does not tell us who the good servant is. It tells us what the good servant will be doing when the master comes. The servant who the master finds doing a good job will be rewarded by being put in charge of all and the servant who has said in his heart "My master is delayed" and behaves badly will be assigned a place with the hypocrites. This isn't a passage pointing us to a specific group (such as the governing body of the Jehovah's Witnesses), but this is a parable telling us that those who do good, keeping at the master's work will be considered the faithful and wise servant. Those who do not... even if they claim to be the master's servants... will be punished. This fits right in with the previous passages telling us we will not know when the Lord is going to return and the upcoming parables in chapter 25 pointing out that we must always be ready, doing the work of the master.
Historic Information Regarding Events Around the Destruction of Jerusalem.
NOW as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury, (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done,) Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison, as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 7.1.1. (Return to Study)
But then it must be observed, that the multitude that came out of the country were at discord before the Jerusalem sedition began; for Titus went from Gischala to Cesates, and Vespasian from Cesarea to Jamnia and Azotus, and took them both; and when he had put garrisons into them, he came back with a great number of the people, who were come over to him, upon his giving them his right hand for their preservation. There were besides disorders and civil wars in every city; and all those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their hands one against another. There was also a bitter contest between those that were fond of war, and those that were desirous for peace. At the first this quarrelsome temper caught hold of private families, who could not agree among themselves; after which those people that were the dearest to one another brake through all restraints with regard to each other, and every one associated with those of his own opinion, and began already to stand in opposition one to another; so that seditions arose every where, while those that were for innovations, and were desirous of war, by their youth and boldness, were too hard for the aged and prudent men. And, in the first place, all the people of every place betook themselves to rapine (plunder a city/rape); after which they got together in bodies, in order to rob the people of the country, insomuch that for barbarity and iniquity those of the same nation did no way differ from the Romans; nay, it seemed to be a much lighter thing to be ruined by the Romans than by themselves. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 4.3.2. (Return to Study)
During the reign of Claudius Caesar, the emperor immediately preceding Nero, a colossal famine struck the Roman world. Concerning this famine, James Stuart Russell writes, “In the fourth year of his [Claudius] reign, the famine in Judea was so severe, that the price of food became enormous and great numbers perished.” - James Stuart Russell, The Parousia: The New Testament Doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming, (Bradford, PA: International Preterist Association, Inc., 2003), 70. (Return to Study)
One example of the earthquakes mentioned in v. 7 is the earthquake that struck Laodicea sometime between A.D. 60 and A.D. 64 during the reign of Nero (Nero reigned from 54 to 68). Prior to A.D. 70 there were also earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Hierapolis, Colossae, Campania, Rome and Judea. (The two sources cited for the above are: Tacitus Annals14:27, cited in Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1998), 319. AND Edward E. Stevens, Final Decade Before the End, (Bradford, PA: International Preterist Association, Inc., 2015), 122-123.) (Return to Study)
First they (the Jews) stoned Stephen to death; then James the son of Zebedee and the brother of John was beheaded; and finally James, the first after our Saviour’s Ascension to be raised to the bishop’s throne there, lost his life in the way described, while the remaining apostles, in constant danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judaea. - Eusebius The History of the Church 3.5. (Return to Study)
Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. - Tacitus Annals 15.44. (Return to Study)
A false prophet1 was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.
Translator's Note 1: Reland here takes notice, that these Jews, who had despised the true Prophet, were deservedly abused and deluded by these false ones. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.2. (Return to Study)
Jerusalem, a city that had been liable to so many miseries during this siege, that, had it always enjoyed as much happiness from its first foundation, it would certainly have been the envy of the world. Nor did it on any other account so much deserve these sore misfortunes, as by producing such a generation of men as were the occasions of this its overthrow. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.8.5. (Return to Study)
The Roman army carried with it ensigns, but unlike the flags of today, these ensigns received worship, and contained images contrary to the law of Moses. It is known that the Jews felt this way, for in 37 AD the Jews asked Vitellius, who was on a military campaign, not to march through Jerusalem due to their ensigns.
But as he was marching very busily, and leading his army through Judea, the principal men met him, and desired that he would not thus march through their land; for that the laws of their country would not permit them to overlook those images which were brought into it, of which there were a great many in their ensigns; - Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.3.
A similar incident happened with Pilate. Here, the Jews were so adamant that the ensigns be removed, that they were willing to be sacrificed over having the Law of God violated.
BUT now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Cesarea to Jerusalem, to take their winter quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws. So he introduced Caesar's effigies, which were upon the ensigns, and brought them into the city; whereas our law forbids us the very making of images; on which account the former procurators were wont to make their entry into the city with such ensigns as had not those ornaments. Pilate was the first who brought those images to Jerusalem, and set them up there; which was done without the knowledge of the people, because it was done in the night time; but as soon as they knew it, they came in multitudes to Cesarea, and interceded with Pilate many days that he would remove the images; and when he would not grant their requests, because it would tend to the injury of Caesar, while yet they persevered in their request, on the sixth day he ordered his soldiers to have their weapons privately, while he came and sat upon his judgment-seat, which seat was so prepared in the open place of the city, that it concealed the army that lay ready to oppress them; and when the Jews petitioned him again, he gave a signal to the soldiers to encompass them routed, and threatened that their punishment should be no less than immediate death, unless they would leave off disturbing him, and go their ways home. But they threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their death very willingly, rather than the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed; upon which Pilate was deeply affected with their firm resolution to keep their laws inviolable, and presently commanded the images to be carried back from Jerusalem to Cesarea. - Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.1.
From the above, we know it is clear that to the Jews, the ensigns were a blasphemous offense to God - an abomination. We also know that these ensigns were brought into the temple grounds for worship:
AND now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple1 and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator2 with the greatest acclamations of joy.
Translator's Note 1: Take Havercamp's note here: "This (says he) is a remarkable place; and Tertullian truly says in his Apologetic, ch. 16. p. 162, that the entire religion of the Roman camp almost consisted in worshipping the ensigns, in swearing by the ensigns, and in preferring the ensigns before all the [other] gods." See what Havercamp says upon that place of Tertullian.
Translator's Note 2: This declaring Titus imperator by the soldiers, upon such signal success, and the slaughter of such a vast number of enemies, was according to the usual practice of the Romans in like cases, as Reland assures us on this place. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.6.1. (Return to Study)
This happened during the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, too late for most people to flee. However, there is an argument to be made that for Matthew 24:15Matthew 24:15 (CSB)
“So when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” (let the reader understand), , the entire phrase "spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)" is parenthetical, and purposed to let the reader know that this coming desolation that they see (surrounding Jerusalem) is the one Daniel spoke about (the one that will stand in the Holy place). This interpretation would bring the passage into full alignment with the parallel in Luke 21:20-21Luke 21:20-21 (CSB)
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those inside the city must leave it, and those who are in the country must not enter it, .
And now, since Caesar was no way able to restrain the enthusiastic fury of the soldiers, and the fire proceeded on more and more, he went into the holy place of the temple, with his commanders, and saw it, with what was in it, which he found to be far superior to what the relations of foreigners contained, and not inferior to what we ourselves boasted of and believed about it. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.4.7. (Return to Study)
A false prophet was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.2. (Return to Study)
Now if any one consider these things, he will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves; for the Jews, by demolishing the tower of Antonia, had made their temple four-square, while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles, "That then should their city be taken, as well as their holy house, when once their temple should become four-square." But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how," about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth." The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure, and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.4.
These works, that were done by the robbers, filled the city with all sorts of impiety. And now these impostors and deceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs, that should be performed by the providence of God. And many that were prevailed on by them suffered the punishments of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and then punished them. Moreover, there came out of Egypt1 about this time to Jerusalem one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five furlongs. He said further, that he would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls, when they were fallen down. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He also slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive.
Translator's Note 1: Of these Jewish impostors and false prophets, with many other circumstances and miseries of the Jews, till their utter destruction, foretold by our Savior, see Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 58-75. Of this Egyptian impostor, and the number of his followers, in Josephus, see Acts 21:38. - Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.6. (Return to Study)
Nor was there any place in the city that had no dead bodies in it, but what was entirely covered with those that were killed either by the famine or the rebellion; and all was full of the dead bodies of such as had perished, either by that sedition or by that famine. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.7.2. (Return to Study)
15: Regarding cosmological type signs at the time of the Jewish war with Rome (note even Josephus acknowledges that what he says is difficult to believe, but he includes it due to the witnesses testimony):
Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident (the signs mentioned in Historical Note 11, above), and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star1 resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus,2 [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner3 [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence."
Translator's note 1: Whether Josephus means that this star was different from that comet which lasted a whole year, I cannot certainly determine. His words most favor their being different one from another.
Translator's note 2: Since Josephus still uses the Syro-Macedonian month Xanthicus for the Jewish month Nisan, this eighth, or, as Nicephorus reads it, this ninth of Xanthicus or Nisan was almost a week before the passover, on the fourteenth; about which time we learn from St. John that many used to go "out of the country to Jerusalem to purify themselves," John 11:55, with 12:1; in agreement with Josephus also, B. V. ch. 3. sect. 1. And it might well be, that in the sight of these this extraordinary light might appear.
Translator's note 3: This here seems to be the court of the priests. - Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
Sepher Yosippon (A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel), in his work in chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple” notes that at the start of the Jewish revolt in 66:
Now it happened after this that there was seen from above over the Holy of Holies for the whole night the outline of a man’s face, the like of whose beauty had never been seen in all the land, and his appearance was quite awesome.