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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Matthew 24

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. ἐπορεύετο. For the reading see critical notes. He was going on his way across the Valley of Kidron, when his disciples came to Him and stopped Him, and prayed Him to look at the buildings of the Temple where full in view it rose with its colonnades of dazzling white marble, surmounted with golden roof and pinnacles, and founded on a substructure of huge stones. It was in the freshness of recent building, ‘white from the mason’s hand,’ still indeed incomplete, but seeming by its very beauty and solidity to protest against the words of doom just spoken.

Josephus (B. J. Matthew 24:2) gives a full description of the Temple which is well worth reading in the original. He speaks of the brilliant effect of ‘the golden plates of great weight which at the first rising of the sun reflected back a very fiery splendour, causing the spectator to turn away his eyes as he would have done at the sun’s own rays. At a distance the whole Temple looked like a mount of snow fretted with golden pinnacles.’

τὰς οἰκοδομὰς τοῦ ἱεροῦ. ‘The various parts of the Temple-building.’ οἰκοδομή, according to Phrynichus, non-Attic, either [1] ‘a building’ for the more usual and classical οἰκοδόμημα, a form not found in N.T., or [2] ‘act of building,’ for which the classical and older forms οἰκοδομία (or οἰκοδομιά) and οἰκοδόμησις do not occur in the N.T., or [3] ‘edification.’ This beautiful figure for the orderly and continuous growth of religious life in individuals and in a society appears to be a purely Christian thought; it is a frequent one with St Paul, ἄρα οὖν τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης διώκωμεν καὶ τὰ τῆς οἰκοδομῆς τῆς εἰς ἀλλήλους, Romans 14:19; εἰς οἰκοδομὴν καὶ οὐκ εἰς καθαίρεσιν ὑμῶν, 2 Corinthians 10:8. If the image did not actually spring from the Temple, it gained force and frequency from the building, the stately growth of which must have been an ever prominent sight and thought with the existing generation of Jews; the perfect joining of the stones (πᾶσα οἰκοδομὴ συναρμολογουμένη),—which gave the appearance of one compact mass of rock,—and the exceeding beauty of the whole, suggested an inspiring figure for the progress and unity of the Church.


Verses 1-22

Matthew 24:1-22. PREDICTION OF THE FALL OF JERUSALEM

Mark 13:1–end. Luke 21:5-36

This chapter opens with the great discourse of Jesus, which is continued to the end of ch. 25. That discourse contains [1] a prediction of the fall of Jerusalem, [2] a prediction of the end of the world, [3] Parables in relation to these predictions.

It is difficult to determine the limits of the several portions.

[1] Some of the earliest Fathers referred the whole prophecy to the end of the world. [2] Others held that the fall of Jerusalem was alone intended down to the end of Matthew 24:22. (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius.)

In an interesting monograph founded on this view the Rev. W. Sherlock has shown a parallelism between the two divisions:

THE FALL OF JERUSALEM (Matthew 24:5-22).

THE SECOND ADVENT (Matthew 24:23-31).

1. False Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:11).

1. False Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:23-24).

2. Persecution and apostasy (Matthew 24:9-10; Matthew 24:12).

2. Dangers even to the elect (Matthew 24:24).

3. Wars, famine, pestilence (Matthew 24:6-7).

3. Distress of nations (Matthew 24:29).

4. Great tribulation (Matthew 24:21).

4. The sun and moon darkened (Matthew 24:29).

5. The abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15).

5. The sign of the Son of man (Matthew 24:30).

6. The escape of the Christians (Matthew 24:16-18).

6. The salvation of the elect (Matthew 24:31).

[3] Augustine, Jerome, and Beda, followed by Maldonatus, receive this view in a modified form, holding that while the two events were conceived by the Apostles as coincident in point of time, and while our Lord’s words appeared to them to be describing a single great catastrophe, it is now possible in the light of the past history to detect the distinctive references to the first and the second event.

[4] Another arrangement of the prophecy is: (i) A general answer of the question to the end of Matthew 24:14; (ii) a specific reference to the fall of Jerusalem, 15–28; (iii) in Matthew 24:29 a resumption of the subject of (i).


Verse 2

2. οὐ μὴ ἀφεθῇ ὧδε λίθος ἐπὶ λίθον. Compare with the complete ruin of the Temple at Jerusalem, the still magnificent remains of temples at Karnak and Luxor, Baalbec and Athens. The Temple was destroyed by fire, notwithstanding every effort made to save it by Titus. For a vivid description of this last awful scene in the history of the Temple, see Milman, History of the Jews, II. Bk. xvi.


Verse 3

3. οἱ μαθηταί. St Mark names the four, Peter and James and John and Andrew.

τῆς σῆς παρουσίας. ‘Thy presence,’ used with the same special meaning, 1 Thessalonians 2:19. James 5:7. 2 Peter 1:16. 1 John 2:28. The precise word ‘coming,’ or ‘advent,’ which the Church has adopted in reference to the second ‘presence’ of Christ, has no exact equivalent in this prophecy.

συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος. See ch. Matthew 13:39-40.


Verse 5

5. ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ Χριστός. The Christ, the Messiah. The appearance of false Messiahs shall be the first sign. St John bears witness to the fulfilment of this sign: ‘Even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time.’ 1 John 2:18.


Verse 6

6. πολέμους καὶ ἀκοὰς πολέμων. The second sign. Philo and Josephus describe the disturbed state of Judæa from this date to the siege of Jerusalem. Massacres of the Jews were perpetrated at Cæsarea, at Alexandria, in Babylonia and in Syria.—See Milman’s History of the Jews, Bks. xii–xv. Tacitus, characterising the same period, says ‘opus adgredior opimum casibus, atrox præliis, discors seditionibus, ipsa etiam pace sævum.’ Hist. I. 2.

ὁρᾶτε μὴ θροεῖσθε. ‘Look,’ i.e. observe, ‘be not afraid.’ Not as in A.V., see that ye be not troubled.

The classical meaning of θροεῖν is ‘to cry aloud,’ hence ‘to speak,’ ‘declare.’ The later use of θροεῖσθαι is connected either with the womanish shrieks of fear (mid. voice), cp. θρέομαι, or with the thought of terrifying with a shout (passive voice). The word occurs Mark 13:7, the parallel passage to this, and 2 Thessalonians 2:2, where it is also used in relation to the παρουσία, and probably in direct reference to this passage: ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμῶν ἐπισυναγωγῆς ἐπʼ αὐτὸν εἰς τὸ μὴ ταχἑως σαλευθῆναι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ νοός, μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι κ.τ.λ.

δεῖ expresses divine necessity, conformity to God’s plan; cp. ch. Matthew 26:54.


Verse 7

7. λιμοὶ καὶ σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους. The commentators enumerate instances of all these calamities recorded by the contemporary historians.


Verse 8

8. ὠδίνων. Literally, pains of travail, that preceded the birth of a new order of things, a fresh æon, the παλινγενεσία.


Verse 9

9. θλίψιν. Rare in the classics, the figurative sense is late in the noun but appears in the verb, Aristoph. Vespæ 1289 and elsewhere. In Philippians 1:17 the literal ‘pressure’ of the chain is thought of: θλίψιν ἐγείρειν, ‘to make my chain gall me’ (Bp. Lightfoot). θλίψις is preferable to θλίψις, though the latter is the Attic accentuation. The tendency of later Greek was to shorten the penultimate. See Winer, pp. 56, 57 and Dr Moulton’s note.


Verse 10

10. σκανδαλισθήσονται. Shall fall, fail in loyalty, be tempted to forsake the faith.

μισήσουσιν ἀλλήλους. Disappointed hopes will bring about a disruption of Christian unity and love.


Verse 11

11. ψευδοπροφῆται. At the siege of Jerusalem ‘false prophets suborned by the Zealots kept the people in a state of feverish excitement, as though the appointed Deliverer would still appear.’ Milman’s History of the Jews, II. 371. Cp. 1 John 4:1-3.


Verse 12

12. ψυγήσεται ἡ ἀγάπη τῶν πολλῶν. ‘The love of the majority shall grow cold.’ The use by our Lord in this passage of a word which expressed the highest and most enduring (1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 13:13) of Christian graces, and which was the bond of the future Christian society is in itself prophetic. ἀγάπη in this sense occurs here only in the Synoptic gospels (τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ, Luke 11:42, is not an exception). Yet from the fourth gospel we learn that this word or its Aramaic equivalent was very frequently on the Lord’s lips. In the Epistles no word meets us more often, though the occurrence of ἀγάπη in the LXX. seems to imply that it was a vernacular word before it took its place in literature; its absence from classical Greek enabled it to enter Christian thought and literature unstained (ἔρως has no place in the vocabulary of the N.T.). To the Greek, however (though Christianity raised ἀγάπη far above the range of pagan thought), it would recall the purest and highest conceptions of Greek poets—the pure love of brother and sister—the devotion of a child to her father—duty to the living—respect for the dead. The drama of Antigone is the story of ἀγάπη triumphant: οὔτοι συνέχθειν ἀλλὰ συμφιλεῖν ἔφυν (Soph. Ant. 523) breathes the spirit of Christianity. As a Christian word ἀγάπη meant the love of the Christian brotherhood to one another and to God, and the outward symbols of that love in the Eucharist (ἀγάπην ποιεῖν ‘to celebrate the “love-feast’”) in ‘charity’ or ‘alms’ (see note on δικαιοσύνη, ch. Matthew 6:1) in the salutation or holy kiss (see Sophocles’ Lex., sub voc.).


Verse 13

13. ὁ ὑπομείνας. ‘He that endureth.’ The meaning of ὑπομένειν and ὑπομονὴ like ἀγάπη grows with the growth of the Church. As classical words they conveyed noble thoughts of constancy in danger, and heroic endurance: ὑπεμείνατε ὑπὲρ τῶν δικαίων τὸν πρὸς ἐκείνους πόλεμον, Dem. Phil. I. 3. See also Polyb. IV. 51. 1. Josephus uses ὑπομονὴ of the heroic endurance of the Maccabees. There, as in the N.T., it is closely and necessarily connected with immortality, it contains the promise of the life to come: ἐν τῇ ὑπομονῇ ὑμῶν κτήσεσθε τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν, ‘by your constancy ye shall win your souls,’ i.e. your higher lives, Luke 21:19. The noun occurs in Luke alone of the Gospels, in John neither verb nor noun; there the thought of ἀγάπη is predominant. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the Epistle of St James, and in the Apocalypse (ὑπομονή, not ὑπομένειν), these words are frequent; in the Epistles of St Paul, ὑπομονὴ takes its place in the category of the Christian excellencies: εἰδότες ὅτι ἡ θλίψις ὑπομονὴν κατεργάζεται ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ δοκιμήν, ἡ δὲ δοκιμὴ ἐλπίδα, ἡ δὲ ἐλπὶς οὐ καταισχύνει ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκκέχυται ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν κ.τ.λ., Romans 5:4.


Verse 14

14. ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ. The frequent and increasing use of ὅλος for πᾶς must be regarded as a modernism. See Geldart’s Modern Greek, p. 184, 187. Possibly the similarity in sound to Hebr. Col may have had an influence.

ἡ οἰκουμένη (γῆ). ‘The inhabited earth’ originally the Hellenic portion of the world, (Dem. and Æsch.), later the Roman Empire, and the whole world: τὸ τῆς ὅλης οἰκουμένης σχῆμα, Polyb. I. 4. 6; in Hebrews 2:5, of the future age—the world of Christianity: οὐ γὰρ ἀγγέλοις ὑπέταξεν τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν. The adjective οἰκουμενικός, not in N.T., is frequent in later ecclesiastical use.


Verse 15

15. βδέλυγμα. Hellenistic from βδελύσσομαι, ‘feel disgust for,’ ‘detest,’ Aristoph. Ach. 586 and elsewhere in Comedy. The noun is used especially of idols, τὰ βδελύγματα τῶν Ἀιγυπτίων θύσομεν Κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν, Exodus 9:26. ᾠκοδόμησαν βδέλυγμα ἐρημώσεως ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον, 1 Maccabees 1:54, referring to the Statue of Jupiter Olympius.

βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως. i.e. ‘the abomination that maketh desolate,’ ‘the act of sacrilege, which is a sign and a cause of desolation.’ What special act of sacrilege is referred to cannot be determined for certain. The expression may refer [1] to the besieging army; cp. the parallel passage in Luke, ‘When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies.’ Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr., translates Daniel 9:27 in this sense: ‘Until the wing (or army) of abominations shall make desolate.’ [2] The Roman eagles; the A.V. margin, Daniel 9:27, reads: ‘Upon the battlements shall be the idols of the desolator.’ [3] The excesses of the Zealots. See Josephus, B. J. IV. 6. 3, ‘They (the Zealots) caused the fulfilment of the prophecies against their own country; for there was a certain ancient saying that the city would be taken at that time … for sedition would arise, and their own hands would pollute the Temple of God.’

ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ. i.e. within the Temple area.

ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω. These words are almost beyond a doubt an insertion of the Evangelist, and not part of our Lord’s discourse.


Verse 16

16. φευγέτωσαν ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη. Many Christians, warned by this prediction (according to Eusebius, H.E. III. 5, ‘by a certain oracle’), took refuge at Pella in Peræa during the siege of Jerusalem. The mountains would be the natural place of refuge: cp. Thuc. VIII. 41, τήν τε πόλιν ἐκπορθεῖ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐς τὰ ὄρη πεφευγότων. Arrian. in Indic. c. 24, καὶ διέφυγον ἐς τὰ ὄρεα.


Verse 17

17. μὴ καταβάτω κ.τ.λ. i.e. either [1] pass from the roof to the entrance, and thence to the street, without entering any apartments, or [2] escape along the flat roofs from house to house.

ἆραι τὰ ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας, for ἆραι ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας τὰ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ. Cp. Plato, Symp. IV. 31, τὰ ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας πέπραται, and Luke 11:13, ὁ πατὴρ ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δώσει πνεῦμα ἅγιον. See Winer, p. 784.


Verse 18

18. ἆραι τὸ ἱμάτιον αὐτοῦ. τὸ ἱμάτιον, the outer garment, which the field labourer would throw off while at work, wearing the tunic only. Cp. ‘Nudus ara, sere nudus.’ Georg. I. 299.


Verse 20

20. χειμῶνος. When swollen streams, bitter cold and long nights would increase the misery and danger of the fugitives.

σαββάτῳ. When religious scruples might delay the flight. The extent of a Sabbath day’s journey was 2000 cubits. Here, however, the question meets us, how far Jewish observances would affect the Christians. Probably the early Christians observed both the Sabbath and the Lord’s day. But in any case many impediments would arise against flight on the Sabbath day. St Matthew alone records these words of warning.


Verse 21

21. θλῖψις μεγάλη. ‘Jerusalem, a city that had been liable to so many miseries during the siege, that had it enjoyed as much happiness from its first foundation, it would certainly have been the envy of the world.’ Josephus, B. J. VI. 8. 5.

No words can describe the unequalled horrors of this siege. It was the Passover season, and Jews from all parts were crowded within the walls. Three factions, at desperate feud with each other, were posted on the heights of Sion and on the Temple Mount. These only united to fling themselves at intervals upon the Roman entrenchments, and then resumed their hate. The Temple-courts swam with the blood of civil discord, which was literally mingled with the blood of the sacrifices. Jewish prisoners were crucified by hundreds in view of their friends, while within the city the wretched inhabitants were reduced by famine to the most loathsome of food and to deeds of unspeakable cruelty. Jerusalem was taken on the 10th August, A.D. 70. 1,100,000 Jews perished in the siege, 100,000 were sold into slavery. With the fall of Jerusalem, Israel ceased to exist as a nation. It was truly the end of an æon.

οὐδʼ οὐ μὴ γένηται. Note the triple negative. The regular construction would be οὐδὲ μὴ γένηται, οὐ being redundant. The form of the sentence is not strictly logical, but θλίψις μεγάλη is excluded from the predication of οὐ μὴ γένηται. When the last great tribulation does come it will prove to be unparalleled.


Verse 22

22. εἰ μὴ ἐκολοβώθησαν κ.τ.λ. ‘Unless those days had been shortened.’ The event still future, is by the divine prescience looked upon as past. κολοβόω, lit. ‘to cut off,’ ‘mutilate’ (Aristotle and Polyb.), here ‘to abridge.’

Several circumstances concurred to shorten the duration of the siege, such as the scanty supply of provisions, the crowded state of the city, the internal dissensions, and the abandonment of important defences. So strong did the place seem to Titus that he exclaimed, ‘We have certainly had God on our side in this war; and it was God alone who ejected the Jews from these fortifications.’ Josephus VI. 9. 1.

οὐκ ἂν ἐσώθη πᾶσα σάρξ. In this construction οὐ coalesces with the verb, so that οὐκ ἐσώθη = ἀπώλετο: when οὐ is joined to πᾶς the meaning is ‘not every’ as οὐ πᾶς ὁ λέγων Κύριε Κύριε, εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν, ch. Matthew 7:12.


Verse 23

23. τότε. According to Chrysostom, Jerome and others who make the division at Matthew 24:22 τότε marks a transition, and the description which follows is applicable to the end of the world not to the fall of Jerusalem.


Verses 23-31

23–31. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

Mark 13:21-27; Luke 21:24-28


Verse 24

24. ὥστε πλανῆσαι. ὥστε indicates here not only a possible result—the usual classical form of ὥστε with infinitive—but intention, for which use of ὥστε see Goodwin’s Greek Moods and Tenses, § 98. 2. Translate ‘with the view of deceiving if possible (εἰ δυνατόν), i.e. by every possible means, even the elect.’ The A.V. is misleading here, [1] by so connecting εἰ δυνατὸν as to infer the impossibility of πλανῆσαι; [2] by translating πλανῆσαι as a future.

τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς. Cp. Romans 8:33 and Titus 1:1, ἐκλεκτῶν Θεοῦ. The term, like many others, ἅγιοι, ἠγαπημένοι, πιστοί, is transferred from the O.T. to the N.T., from Israel according to the flesh to the true spiritual Israel. The church is heir to the titles as well as to the promises of the old dispensation. ἐκλεκτοὶ and ἐκλογὴ imply election, choice, appointment to a special work or office, as of Jesus to the Messiahship, 1 Peter 2:4-6; of Isaac and Jacob to the fathership of the faithful, Romans 9:11, of Paul to the office of evangelist σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, Acts 9:15—of persons to Church-membership, εἰδότες τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν, 1 Thessalonians 1:4. Thus the thoughts of final salvation and irreversible decree, to say the least, do not necessarily enter into the word. Bp. Lightfoot observes in his note on Colossians 3:12, that κλητοὶ and ἐκλεκτοὶ are distinguished in the gospels as an outer and inner circle (Matthew 22:14), but that in St Paul there is no such distinction. The same persons are ‘called’ to Christ and ‘chosen out’ of the world.


Verse 25

25. ἰδοὺ προείρηκα ὑμῖν. These words solemnly call attention to the warning—the disciples as the Church, the ἐκλεκτοὶ, must take heed, for the signs are calculated and intended to deceive even them.


Verse 26

26. ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ. Cp. Joseph. B. J. II. 13. 4.

ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις. Here probably ‘the lecture rooms’ of the synagogue, so that the meaning of the verse would be, ‘whether the false Christ come like John the Baptist in the desert, or like a great Rabbi in the schools of the synagogue, be not deceived.’


Verse 27

27. φαίνεται, ‘appeareth,’ not ‘shineth,’ A.V. The flash is instantly visible in the opposite quarter of the heaven. Like lightning all-pervading, swift, sudden and of dazzling brightness, shall be the coming of the Son of man.


Verse 28

28. ὅπου ἐὰν ᾖ τὸ πτῶμα. The spiritual perception will discern wherever the Lord comes, by a subtle sense like that by which the vulture is cognisant of his distant prey.

Another interpretation fixes upon the idea of corruption in the body, and reads the sense thus: ‘where the corrupt body of sin lies, wherever there is the corruption of moral death and decay, there the vultures of judgment will gather upon the carrion.’


Verse 29

29. ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται κ.τ.λ. Such figurative language is frequent with the Hebrew prophets; it implies [1] the perplexity and confusion of a sudden revolution, a great change; the very sources of light become darkness. Cp. Isaiah 13:10, ‘For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine;’ and [2] the darkness of distress as Ezekiel 32:7-8, ‘All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God.’ Cp. also Joel 2:28-32 quoted Acts 2:19-20.


Verse 30

30. τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. What this shall be it is vain to conjecture, but when it appears its import will be instantly recognised by the faithful.

ἐπὶ τ. ν. On the clouds, not, as in A.V., in the clouds.


Verse 31

31. μετὰ σάλπιγγος φωνῆς μεγάλης. The image would be suggestive to the Jews, who were called together in the camp by silver trumpets (Numbers 10:2 foll.). Moreover, the great festivals, the commencement of the year, and other celebrations were announced by trumpets. There will be once again a marshalling of the host of Jehovah, of God’s Church.

ἐπισυνάξουσιν. Cp. ch. Matthew 23:37 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1, ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμῶν ἐπισυναγωγῆς ἐπʼ αὐτόν.


Verse 32

32. ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν. Learn from the fig-tree its parable, the lesson that the fig-tree teaches. The parable relates to the siege of Jerusalem and the ruin of the Jewish nationality, illustrating Matthew 24:4-22.

It was spring time, and the fig-tree was putting forth its leaf-buds; no more certainly does that natural sign foretell the coming harvest than the signs of Christ shall foretell the fall of the Holy City. The sequence of historical events is as certain as the sequence of natural events. And the first, at least to some extent, is within the range of the same human intelligence that discerns the promise of summer. Thus Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not discerning the signs of the times as they discerned the face of the sky.

The facts of botany throw fresh light on our Lord’s illustration. The season of spring is described by botanists as one of the greatest stir and vital activity throughout the plant organism, a general but secret internal movement preceding the outburst of vegetation. A true figure of political movement. See Thomé’s Struct. and Phys. Botany (translation), pp. 196–208.

ὅταν ἤδη ὁ κλάδος αὐτῆς γένηται ἀπαλός. ‘As soon as its branch becomes tender,’ i.e. ready to sprout.

γινώσκετε, ‘ye recognise;’ as also in the following verse.

ἐγγὺς τὸ θέρος, ‘that harvest time is nigh,’ i.e. the corn-harvest, not the fig-harvest (Meyer). This is a probable rendering, because the sprouting of the fig-tree would coincide with the barley harvest, rather than with the summer; it gives force to our Lord’s words, when it is remembered that the barley harvest was actually nigh; the omer, or first sheaf, being offered on the day following the Passover. Again, the siege of Jerusalem, prefigured by this ‘parable,’ took place at the time of harvest (see note, Matthew 24:21).


Verses 32-35

32–35. THE PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE

Mark 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33


Verse 33

33. ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν. The harvest-time of God—the end of this œon or period at the fall of Jerusalem.


Verse 34

34. ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη. See note, ch. Matthew 16:28.

36—End of CHAP. 25. PARABLES AND TEACHINGS CONCERNING THE SECOND ADVENT


Verse 36

36. τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης. The Day of Judgment. The discourse turns from the type—the fall of Jerusalem—to the antitype—the Day of Judgment, and continues on this subject to the end of the following chapter.


Verses 36-51

36–51. THE COMING OF CHRIST THE NEED OF WATCHFULNESS

More briefly reported in Mark 13:32-37; Luke 21:34-36


Verse 37

37. ὥσπερ δὲ αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ Νῶε κ.τ.λ. As at other critical times in history—the days before the flood—the eve of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah—so before the parousia of Christ the world will be given up to enjoyment (τρώγοντες καὶ πίνοντες), it will rest its hopes in the present, and plan for the continuance of the existing order (γαμοῦντες καὶ ἐκγαμίζοντες), it will be immersed in business (ἠγόραζον ἐπώλουν ἐφύτευον ᾠκοδόμουν, Luke 17:28), all which things are the perils of the religious life—the cares (μέριμναι), riches (πλοῦτος), pleasures (ἡδοναί), that choke the good seed (Luke 8:14).

For τρώγοντες καὶ πίνοντες, implying luxurious living, cp. ch. Matthew 11:19, ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων and see Matthew 24:49 of this chap. and Luke 12:45. Cp. Eur. Cycl. 335, πιεῖν καὶ φαγεῖν τοὔφʼ ἡμέραν. But the use of τρώγοντες rather than ἐσθίοντες adds force to the picture of a world plunged in animal delights. τρώγειν is said to be formed from the sound; Eustath. Od. VI. 60, cp. ‘Feeding like horses when you hear them feed,’ (Tennyson, Œnid). It is used in Homer of mules and of mice, then in Hdt. and vernacular speech of men ‘to eat vegetables or fruit,’ (cp. τρωγάλια, τρωκτά,) and not till quite late in a general sense. With the exception of this passage τρώγειν occurs in the fourth Gospel only. This use of τρώγειν to the exclusion of ἐσθίειν is one of the interesting specialisms in St John’s Gospel; in ch. John 13:18, ὁ τρώγων is substituted for ὁ ἐσθίων of the LXX., Psalms 41:9, and the completely settled use of the word is shown by its occurrence in the solemn connection ch. John 6:54, ὁ τρώγων μου τὴν σάρκα. Compare generally the use of χορτάζειν.


Verse 40

40. παραλαμβάνεται, ‘is taken or withdrawn.’ For this present for future of certainty see ch. Matthew 27:63.


Verse 40-41

40, 41. Instances like these serve to bring out the reflection that the world’s work will be going on then as now; there is also the thought of a real separation in this life beneath an external sameness.


Verse 41

41. δύο ἀλήθουσαι ἐν τῷ μύλῳ. In southern Palestine, where there are no mill-streams, hand-mills are to be seen and heard in every village. ‘Two women sit at the mill facing each other; both having hold of the handle by which the upper is turned round on the nether mill-stone.’ Land and Book, p. 526.


Verse 43

43. γιγνώσκειν, ‘to observe,’ ‘learn,’ ‘recognise,’ not ‘to know’ (εἰδέναι, ἐπίστασθαι). Here the verb is either [1] imperative, like γρηγορεῖτε and γίνεσθε, or [2] indicative, ‘ye recognise’ while I speak.

οἰκοδεσπότης. A late word (Plut. Epictet.) for the classical οἰκίας δεσπότης. οἰκοδεσπότης, οἰκοδεσποτεῖν came into use as technical terms in astrology: οἶκος is the ‘house’ of the ruling planet. ‘Goodman’ (A.V.) is probably a corruption for gummann or guma A.S., a man (Bible Word Book).

ποίᾳ φυλακῇ. See ch. Matthew 14:25.

ὁ κλέπτης ἔρχεται. Cp. αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἀκριβῶς οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ ἡμέρα Κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης ἐν νυκτὶ οὕτως ἔρχεται, 1 Thessalonians 5:2; see also 2 Peter 3:10.

διορυχθῆναι. See ch. Matthew 6:19-20.


Verses 43-45

43–45. THE LORD COMETH AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

Luke 12:39-40


Verse 45

45. οἰκετείας, for θεραπείας (Luke 12:42) on good authority. The rare word οἰκετείας could not have been inserted as an explanation, whereas this may well have been the case with θεραπείας. א reads οἰκίας.


Verses 45-51

45–51. THE STEWARDS OF GOD

Luke 12:41-48, where this parable is joined on to the preceding one by a question of St Peter, ‘Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?’ Mark 13:37 has ‘what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.’ Here, and throughout the discourse, the disciples are specially addressed.

οἰκετείας, the correct reading, according to the best criticism, is strictly speaking wider than θεραπείας, including not only the θεράποντες, but also the γυνὴ and τέκνα, here however it means the household of slaves, Lat. familia.

The imagery is drawn from a large estate (latifundium) or household, over which an honest and intelligent slave would be appointed as steward (οἰκονόμος, Lat. vilicus or dispensator), part of his duty being to give the daily allowance (τροφήν, or σιτομέτριον, Luke. Lat. diarium, Hor. Ep. I. 14. 41) to the slaves.

From this short parable springs the conception of the stewardship of the Christian ministry expanded in the Epistles and indelibly fixed in religious thought. Cp. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζέσθω ἄνθρωπος, ὡς ὑπηρέτας Χριστοῦ καὶ οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων θεοῦ. ὧδε λοιπὸν ζητεῖται ἐν τοῖς οἰκονόμοις ἵνα πιστός τις εὑρεθῇ κ.τ.λ. Titus 1:7, δεῖ γὰρ τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνέγκλητον εἶναι ὡς θεοῦ οἰκονόμον. 1 Peter 4:10, ὡς καλοὶ οἰκονόμοι ποικίλης χάριτος θεοῦ. And from the Latin Version of this and parallel passages such expressions as ‘the present dispensation,’ ‘the Christian dispensation,’ are derived. It is deeply interesting to trace in a few and simple words of Christ the genesis of such great and fruitful thoughts which are the very life of the Church and of society.


Verse 49

49. ἐσθίῃπίνῃ, for ἐσθίεινπίνειν, on quite decisive evidence.


Verse 51

51. διχοτομήσει. See Daniel 2:5; Daniel 3:29. μένει γὰρ ὁ ἄγγελος τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν ῥομφαίαν ἔχων πρίσαι σε μέσον, (Susanna, 59.) Comp. also ‘Multos honesti ordinis aut ad bestias condemnavit, aut serra dissecuit.’ Sueton. Calig. 17, quoted by Wetstein, who gives other instances.

μετὰ τῶν ὑποκριτῶν. St Luke has μετὰ τῶν ἀπίστων. Such adaptations of the Gentile Evangelist to his readers are always interesting. Hypocrisy was especially a Jewish sin. St Luke adds our Lord’s words on the degrees of punishment, varying with the degrees of responsibility.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Matthew 24:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/matthew-24.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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