Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 24

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Verses 1-28

Mat 24:1-28

Section V.
Destruction of the Temple Predicted, Matthew 24:1-28

J.W. McGarvey

Occasion of the Prediction, Matthew 23:1-3.
Mark 13:1-4; Luke 21:5-7)

1. went out and departed.—Went out of the temple and departed from its vicinity. This was his final departure from the temple, and the preceding discourse denunciatory of the scribes and Pharisees contained the last words which he spoke therein—sad foreshadowing of the doom which impended over the unhappy city.

to show him the buildings.—As he had already departed from the temple when the disciples came to show him the buildings of the temple, the buildings referred to must have been the walls and fortifications surrounding the outer court and constituting the defenses of the temple. They were very massive and well calculated to excite the admiration of the Galilean disciples.

2. one stone upon another.—The reply of Jesus to the admiring expressions of the disciples was as brief as it was astonishing. With the simple statement that "there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down," he dropped the subject until the astonished disciples brought it up again.

3. as he sat upon the mount.—Struck dumb by his announcement, the disciples seem to have said no more until, having climbed the slope of the Mount of Olives, on the way toward Bethany, Jesus took a seat and looked back over the city. Then they come to him "privately" and ask, "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?" Their question is twofold, having reference first to the time, and secondly to the sign by which they might know that the event was near. He had said nothing about his own coming or the end of the world, but they inferred from the strength of the temple walls that the time when all these stones would be thrown down could not be sooner than the end of the world and the second coming of the Son of man. So much of this inference as was incorrect he corrected in the course of his answer: for he makes a very clear distinction, as we will see, between the time of his final coming and that of the destruction of the temple. The question had been propounded by the four fishermen, Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3), and only these four were present to hear the remarkable discourse which begins with the fourth verse of this chapter and ends with chapter twenty-fifth.

Warning Against False Christs, Matthew 24:4; Matthew 5.
Mark 13:5-6; Luke 21:8)

4, 5. many shall come.—They were to come previous to the end (Matthew 24:6), and were to come claiming to be the Christ, thus denying the Christhood of Jesus. We have no history of the appearance of such persons, but this furnishes no evidence against the fulfillment of the prediction; for even Jesus does not appear in secular history until after his Church had become a power in the world; and as the false Christs left no institutions behind them, they naturally escaped the notice of the historians of the time.

Wars and Providential Calamities, Matthew 24:6-8.
Mark 13:7-8; Luke 21:9-11)

6, 7. wars and rumors of Wars.—Not wars in distant nations, but wars particularly affecting the Jews, as appears from the warning, "see that ye be not troubled" (Matthew 24:6), and from the fact that the coming trouble of the Jews was the subject of discourse. The nations and kingdoms which were to rise up against each other were those whose military movements would affect the peace of Judea. History is more satisfactory in reference to this prediction than in reference to the false Christs. Alford, in commenting on this paragraph, takes the pains to enumerate three threats of war made against the Jews by as many Roman emperors; three uprisings of Gentiles against Jews, in which many thousands of the latter perished; an indefinite number of famines referred to by Roman writers; at least one pestilence, during which thirty thousand persons perished in Rome alone; and five earthquakes. These have been gleaned from the writings of Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and other unbelieving writers, and they sufficiently attest the literal fulfillment of the Savior’s prediction. This fulfillment served the double purpose of answering as a sign in reference to the destruction of the temple, and of confirming the faith of the disciples in the foreknowledge of Jesus.

Sufferings and Success of the Disciples, Matthew 24:9-14.
Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19)

9. Then shall they deliver you.—"Then" means, not after the preceding events, but at the time in which they are transpiring. The delivering up to be afflicted commenced with the imprisonment of Peter and John (Acts 4:1-3), and the killing, with the death of Stephen. These persecutions were cotemporary with the events of the preceding paragraph, and preceded "the end" mentioned in Matthew 24:6, Peter, James the elder, James the younger, Paul, and a great many who were not apostles, having been killed before the destruction of the temple.

hated of all nations.—That this part of the prediction was fulfilled, appears not only in the persecutions of the time, but in the statement of the Roman historian Tacitus, that the Christians were "a class of men hated on account of their crimes." (Annals, xv. 44.)

10. many be offended.—Many of the disciples themselves. The mere allusions to passing events which we find in the epistles give sufficient evidence that this prediction was fulfilled. For example, among the sufferings of Paul, were some at the hands of false brethren (2 Corinthians 11:26); the Galatian disciples were taught by false teachers to regard him as an enemy (Galatians 4); and some persons in the church at Corinth denied his authority and sought to bring him into contempt (1 Corinthians 9:1-4; 2 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Corinthians 10:10).

11. many false prophets.—The epistles of Paul show that many false prophets did arise. He speaks of men in the Jerusalem church who were "false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty." (Galatians 2:1-4.) In Corinth there were "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ," and ministers of Satan transformed into ministers of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11:3-15)

The same apostle warns Timothy against similar characters (1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; 2 Timothy 3:8-9), and to Titus he writes, "There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake." (Titus 1:10-11.) The testimony of Peter and Jude is also very explicit on the same point, for they speak in words of terrifying earnestness concerning bad characters infesting the churches, "wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." (Jude, and 2 Peter 2)

12. love of many shall wax cold.—It is the universal experience of the Church, that when iniquity abounds the love of many grows cold; and it is also true that under such circumstances the love of some grows warmer, thus reserving and concentrating a sufficient amount of warmth to produce a reaction by and by, and to save the body from utter destruction.

13. endure to the end.—The end here referred to is not the end of the city and the temple; for endurance to this end was impossible with those who were killed for the truth, and those who died a natural death; nor would endurance to the end of the city insure salvation, unless the salvation promised is salvation from the destruction of life attendant on the siege and sacking of the city; and to say that he who endured to the end of that destruction would be saved from it would be a mere truism. The end, then, is not the end mentioned before in Matthew 24:6, but the end of life; and the promise is, that he who would resist the false prophets, and would not allow his love to be cooled by the abounding iniquity, until the end of his life, would be saved. (See the same promise in Matthew 10:22.)

14. then shall the end come.—Here the nature of the case forbids us to understand "the end" as the end of life, just as, in the preceding verse, it requires this meaning. Here it is used again in the sense of Matthew 24:6, for the destruction of the temple, or, as the apostles had expressed it, "the end of the world" (ἀίων, age), Matthew 24:3. That the gospel was "preached in all the world" before that event, is declared by Paul when he says, "Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven." (Colossians 1:23.) Of course the language of both Jesus and Paul must be understood with reference to the Geography of the earth as then known; and we should doubtless also understand Paul as meaning, not that every creature had actually heard the gospel, but that it had been preached so universally as to be accessible to all. Paul’s declaration was written in the year 63 A. D., about seven years before "the end."

The Signal for Flight, Matthew 24:15-22.
Mark 13:14-20; Luke 21:20-24)

15. the abomination of desolation.—Many conflicting interpretations of this passage have been suggested by the commentators (see Alford for a statement of them); but after considering them all, I am constrained to adopt the one most commonly received. It is derived from a comparison of this verse with the parallel in Luke, where the idea is expressed in unfigurative language: "When you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." (Luke 21:20.) The armies referred to are unquestionably the Roman armies which finally besieged and destroyed the city. They are called the abomination of desolation because, being heathen armies, they were an abomination to the Jews, and because they brought desolation on the country. The "holy place" in which they were to stand is the holy territory round about the holy city. It is a remarkable confirmation of this interpretation, that Josephus attaches the same significance to the words in question. With evident reference to the "abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet" (Daniel 11:31), he says, "Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them." (Antiquities, B. x. ch. xi. § 7.) whoso readeth.—This note of warning, which we also find in Mark’s narrative, must be either a remark of Jesus addressed to the reader of Daniel, or a remark of the two evangelists addressed to their own readers. In favor of the latter supposition is the consideration that a reader of Daniel, unless guided by this speech of Jesus, could not understand the abomination of desolation as the sign which Jesus here makes it, while the reader of the gospel narrative would if he would only accept the words of Jesus. Moreover, Mark, in his report, does not mention the writings or name of Daniel (see Mark 13:14), and this makes it almost certain that this remark does not refer to the reading of Daniel. We conclude, then, that the parenthesis was thrown in by Matthew and Mark to fix the attention of their readers on the passage, so that those Christians who would be in Judea at the time might remember the sign and flee as here directed.

16. flee into the mountains.—This direction is give, not to men in general, but to Christians who would be "in Judea." They were to flee to the mountains, because there they would find the safest retreat from the bodies of armed men who would be desolating the land.

17-20. on the housetop... in the field.—In these verses are four admonitions, all indicating the haste with which the disciples were to flee to the mountains on the appearance of the "abomination of desolation." The man on the housetop was not to "take the things out of his house," because he would be delayed in packing them up, and the attempt to carry them would impede his flight. The man in the field was not even to go home for his extra clothing, for the same reason. Women with child and those with infants at the breast (Matthew 24:19) would be unfortunate, because they could not flee rapidly. They were to pray that the flight should not be in the winter nor on the Sabbath-day, because the former would impede them by its rains, and the latter by the shortness of the Sabbath-day’s journey. It is here noticeable that Jesus expected his Jewish disciples to continue, at least until after the destruction of the temple, to observe the Sabbath, and even the tradition in reference to a Sabbath-day’s journey; and it is a fact that at least the chief part of them did so.

21. such as was not... nor ever shall be.—The statement that there would then be tribulation "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be," is to be understood literally. It is fully confirmed by the narrative of Josephus, who was an eyewitness of the siege of Jerusalem. In order to appreciate the facts, it is necessary to read his very graphic account, and enter into all the details: we quote from him only the following expression of opinion, and call attention to the striking coincidence between it and the words of Jesus: "It appears to me that the misfortunes of all men from the beginning of the world, if they were compared to those of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were." (Preface to Wars, § 4.)

22. no flesh be saved.—As it is Jewish flesh alone whose sufferings are the subject of discourse, this passage means that but for the shortening of those days no Jewish flesh would be saved; and it follows that the elect, for whose sake those days were to be shortened, were the elect Jews, or Jewish Christians. The Romans made no distinction between believing and unbelieving Jews, but slaughtered all alike. The only safety for Christian Jews, then, was in flight, and even this might not have saved them but for the providences by which those days were "shortened."

Another Warning against False Christs
and False Prophets,
Matthew 24:23-28. (Mark 13:21-23)

23, 24. false Christs and false prophets.—The former reference to these pretenders (Matthew 24:5) was indefinite as regards the time of their appearance, but this shows that some of them would appear at the time of flight just preceding the final catastrophe.

signs and wonders.—These may have been either pretended signs and wonders, or real signs and wonders of which these men pretended to give the interpretation. That a great many such signs and wonders and such prophets did appear during the siege of Jerusalem, and for some years previous, is attested by Josephus in the remarkable chapters already referred to under verse 21 above.

deceive the very elect.—The elect are those who would maintain their faith in Christ, and who, however they might be puzzled and distressed by the signs and wonders of the pretenders, could not be deceived into the recognition of false Christs. The believer in Jesus in all ages and countries has this advantage, that no pretenders can present credentials equal to his, nor give us ground for such confidence in them as we have in him.

25, 26. go not forth... believe it not.—The reference is not to the appearance of false Christs, but to reported appearances of the true Christ. (Comp. verse 27 below.) Jesus had said much about coming again, which was but imperfectly understood by his disciples, and it would be quite natural in times of great commotion and tribulation among his disciples for the report to go abroad that he had come.

27. as the lightning.—The comparison here introduced enforces the warning of the previous verse. Men will not need to be told, "Behold, he is in the desert;" or "Behold, he is in the secret chamber;" for his coming will be like lightning, in that it will shine forth instantly from the east to the west, and all men will see him at the same moment.

28. the carcass... the eagles.—There is nothing in the three verses next preceding this which can be represented by a carcass or by carrion birds (ατοι, vultures) flocking to it. The reference is to the false Christs and false prophets of Matthew 24:24. The carcass is the decaying Jewish nation, and the eagles or vultures are the false Christs and false prophets who would flock together and prey upon the sufferings and fears of their countrymen. If the for (γαρ) is correctly omitted by the critics, this removes the appearance of close connection with the preceding verse, and tends to confirm our interpretation.

Argument of Section 5

It is impossible for a candid person to study the history of the Jewish nation from the death of Jesus to the destruction of Jerusalem, and compare it with the predictions contained in the preceding section, without being overwhelmed with the evidences which it furnishes of the divine foreknowledge of Jesus. And if such is the force of the evidence to us, who depend for our knowledge of the events on the fragmentary historical records which have come down to us, what must it have been to those who stood in the midst of the stirring events themselves, with the open pages of Matthew in their hands? As sign after sign appeared, they were able to read it in the book as plainly as they saw it with their eyes. We are not slow, therefore, to believe the statement of Eusebius, that the whole body of the church at Jerusalem removed from the city before the final siege began. (Ec. Hist. B. iii. ch. v.) Nor can we fail to recognize these fleeing Christians among those persons of whom Josephus speaks when he says, that "Many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the city as from a ship when it was going to sink." (B. ii. ch. xx. § 1.) This flight occurred at the very crisis at which Jesus had warned his disciples to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:15-22); that is, after Cestius Gallus, having laid siege to Jerusalem, with every prospect of taking it, suddenly, as Josephus expresses it, "retired from the city without any reason in the world." (Book ii. ch. xix. §§ 6, 7.)

Signs of the End of the Age - Matthew 24:1-35

Open It

1. What is the most beautiful building or structure you’ve ever seen?

2. What is the popular press saying about the immediate and long-range future of planet Earth?

3. Why are people interested in the future?

4. Why do many people consult psychics, palm readers, horoscopes, and other so-called sources of guidance?

Explore It

5. When did the disciples approach Jesus with their question? (Matthew 24:1)

6.What topic of conversation did the disciples raise with Jesus? When? (Matthew 24:1)

7. What prophetic statement did Jesus make in reference to the temple? (Matthew 24:2)

8. As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, what questions did the disciples pose? (Matthew 24:3)

9. What wide-scale calamities did Jesus predict would occur near the end of the world? (Matthew 24:6-8)

10. What various events did Jesus say would happen to believers in the end times? (Matthew 24:9-13)

11. What did Jesus say about the moral state of the world in the end? (Matthew 24:12)

12. To what extent will the gospel be preached in the last days? (Matthew 24:14)

13. According to Jesus, what will the final days on earth be like? (Matthew 24:15-22)

14. What important warning about spiritual deception did Jesus issue? (Matthew 24:23-26)

15. How will true believers recognize Jesus’ return? (Matthew 24:27-30)

16. What heavenly signs and aberrations will accompany the return of Christ? (Matthew 24:29)

17. What part did Jesus say the angels of God would play in His return? (Matthew 24:31)

Get It

18. What are some ways the world tries to desecrate or profane the holy things of God?

19. How does talk of the end times motivate us to live a holy life?

20. In what ways can we become sidetracked by discussion of the end times?

21. How is it helpful that Jesus didn’t give us a specific time or date for His return?

22. What are some current examples of false prophets deceiving people?

23. What signs do you see that we may be close to the beginning of the end?

24. How could you use this passage to talk to a nonbeliever about Jesus Christ?

25. In what specific ways does this passage encourage you to pray?

Apply It

26. For what Christians around the world who are suffering because of their faith can you pray?

27. What step can you take this week to guard yourself from false teaching?

28. What is one thing you can do in the next month to spread the gospel to your part of God’s world?

Verses 1-31

Mat 24:1-31



Matthew 24:1-31

1, 2 And Jesus went out from the temple.—Parallel records of this are found in Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21:5-36. Jesus had just finished his teachings in the temple with the lamentation over Jerusalem as found in last verses of chapter twenty-three; he went out from the temple to go to Bethany, and as he was leaving the temple and on the way to the Mount of Olives, "his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple." Mark mentions particularly that they showed him the "stones" of the temple, which were very large. It seems that only four of his apostles were with him at this time. Mark says that he "sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple," and that "Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately." (Mark 13:3.) We do not know if the other apostles were present; the Mount of Olives was on the way from Jerusalem to Bethany, probably midway between these two points. He occupied a point on this mount that gave a prominent view of Jerusalem. It may be that just as he left the temple his disciples called his attention to the "stones," and how the temple "was adorned with goodly stones and offerings." The Jews had looked upon the temple as being a permanent structure; Josephus mentions some of the stones of its base as being each in length, twenty-five cubits (37.44 feet); in height, eight cubits (12.14 feet); in breadth, about twelve cubits (18.21 feet). Jerusalem in all her magnificence was like "a bride adorned for her husband," "a city of palaces and right royally enthroned as none other." Alone and isolated in its grandeur stood the temple mount; terrace upon terrace its courts rose, till, high above the city, within the enclosure of marble cloisters, cedar-roofed and richly ornamented, the temple itself stood out a mass of snowy marble and of gold, glittering in the sunlight against the half encircling green background of Olivet. In all his wanderings the Jew had not seen a city like his own Jerusalem. It is claimed that the building occupied an area of about nineteen acres. "The temple of Jerusalem was one of the wonders of the world." The Talmud says, "He that never saw the temple of Herod never saw a fine building."

When the disciples called Jesus’ attention to the temple, that gave him an occasion to say that "there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Here Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple. Jesus said, "See ye not all these things?" Attention is called to the seeming permanence and security of the temple with its massive stones and ornaments. Nothing could seem more improbable to them than this prediction; the world was at peace; the Jewish nation was subject to the Roman Empire, and under its protection; thus it was protected by the greatest earthly power. It was astonishing to his disciples when he uttered the prediction that not one stone would be left upon another. Within forty years from the time of this prophecy it was fulfilled. History records that Vespasian and his son Titus besieged Jerusalem for three years, and it was taken and destroyed 70 A.D. The expression used by Jesus means that it would be utterly destroyed; "there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." How completely this prediction has been fulfilled. Not a vestige of the temple remained; even its location is doubtful today. Titus made every effort possible to preserve the temple from destruction, and only when it was found to be impossible did he order the work of destruction to be completed.

3 Tell us, when shall these things be?—As Jesus sat "on the mount of Olives" and predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, in their great astonishment and confusion, his disciples asked two or three questions. Some interpret them as three questions, while others analyze them into two questions. The questions seem to be as follows: "When shall these things be?" And "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Those who see three questions analyze them as follows: "When shall these things be?" "What shall be the sign of thy coming?" and "What shall be the sign of the end of the world?" It seems correct to combine two of these questions into one, and make the inquiry of the sign of his coming and of the end of the world the same. The first question is simple and the second is a compound one. There are three points of inquiry, namely, When shall these things be? What is the sign of thy coming? What is the sign of the end of the world? The three points then are "these things," "thy coming," and "the end of the world." The remainder of chapter twenty-four and chapter twenty-five give Jesus’ answer to these questions. We are now to investigate his answer to the questions: When shall the temple be destroyed? What will be the sign of thy coming in glory and the end of the world? It is well to keep these questions in mind and apply the answer of Jesus to each question in order; otherwise confusion will arise and distorted interpretations be given.

4-8 Take heed that no man lead you astray.—Jesus here gives a solemn warning to call attention to what follows; his disciples should have an intense interest in it; they should lay it to heart, as the first question would be answered during their life; they should know when it is fulfilled that Jesus had predicted so minutely the destruction of the temple. Some think that the disciples thought that when Jerusalem would be destroyed would be the end of the world; yet it seems that they had some doubt about this. Jesus’ first care was to set them right on this point; hence he warns them that no future false Christ should tempt them to believe that his second advent had arrived. "For many shall come in my name" and claim to be the Christ and "lead many astray." Some have reckoned that there have been fifteen false Messiahs among the Jews from the first to the seventeenth century; hence that prediction has been fulfilled.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.—The Roman Empire was composed of many provinces and petty kingdoms; they all composed a discordant government like "iron mixed with miry clay." (Daniel 2:43.) There were wars and rumors of wars all the time; ambitious men seized the imperial throne one after another and in less than two years four had seized the throne—Nero, Otho, Galba, and Vitellius. The whole empire was continually convulsed before the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus predicted these troublous times and then added that "these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet." The end of the city would not come as a result of these distant wars; trouble must come nearer and more fearful punishments must follow; hence, Jesus proceeds to describe these times by saying, "Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." Internal strife in the Roman Empire where province, kingdom, and nation shall rise up against each other and cause unrest and disturbance in all parts of the empire. These are the last days of the stable government of Rome. Not only will these wars harass and disturb civilization, but "there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places." The punishment of God should intervene and the heaven should refuse to rain and the parched earth should not yield its increase. In addition to the wars the multiplied horrors which result from famine should come upon them; four famines are mentioned in history during the reign of Claudius; want, starvation, and pestilence came upon the people and made the nation desperate. There were many earthquakes which occurred in the reigns of Claudius and Nero; these earthquakes affected Judea, but the end is not yet, for "all these things are the beginning of travail." The first pangs which foretell the more fearful troubles are here mentioned. Wars and rumors of wars, nations and kingdoms arrayed against each other, famines and earthquakes, are all "the beginning of travail."

9-13 Then shall they deliver you up.—Jesus frequently warned his disciples about the persecution which they would be called upon to endure; they are now warned of physical sufferings; they would be called upon to suffer in the propagation of the gospel previous to the downfall of the Jewish nation. And then they would be subjected to all sorts of evil punishment; they would be delivered "up unto tribulation" and evn killed. They were to be "hated of all the nations for my name’s sake." The early Christians suffered all of these cruel persecutions. Possibly no people have ever had to suffer more than the Lord’s people have suffered for him; he was persecuted and even crucified; his disciples have been persecuted from city to city and have suffered death for the cause of Christ. Jesus foretold his disciples that they would be called upon to thus suffer for him. The calamities predicted by Jesus fell upon the people and Christians were cruelly treated because they were accused of being responsible for calamities which befell the nations. (Matthew 10:17-19; Acts 3:4; :59; 12:2; 16:23; 18:12; 24:26.) Many would be caused to stumble after they were delivered up for persecution; some would apostatize in order to escape the bitter persecutions that were heaped upon them; even some of the disciples would betray other disciples and deliver them up to the tormentors. In this way they would "hate one another." (2 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 4:16.)

And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray.—There may have been false apostles and teachers. (Acts 8:9-11; 2 Corinthians 11:13; Galatians 1:7; 2 Timothy 2:17-18; 1 John 4:1.) There have always been false teachers and pretenders in the church. Not only were there pretenders to knowledge of the future, but also heretical teachers who would arise and deceive the simple. Apostasies and scandals have ever cursed the church; weak and unfaithful members have proved to be enemies of the church. Possibly the worst enemies of the church today are those within the ranks of professed disciples of Jesus. "And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold." The love of many grows cold when iniquity abounds the church is in the world and feels the deflective force and influence of the world the weak ones will yield and apostatize. The blessing is pronounced upon those "that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." Only those who are faithful to the end will receive the blessings. Christians cannot give up nor become weary in well-doing; they must endure the hardships, suffer the persecutions, and be faithful until death in order to receive the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10.) Those who endure "shall be saved"—not from the destruction of Jerusalem, but from the condemnation at the judgment.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom.---"This gospel," or good tidings of the kingdom, has reference to the kingdom of Daniel 2:44; the spiritual kingdom of God which was to take the place of the Jewish nation. Before the temporal kingdom---"But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand." (Luke 21:20.) The armies referred to are the Roman armies which besieged and destroyed Jerusalem. It is the desolation of which Daniel the prophet predicted. (Dan. 9:26, 27 11:31; 12:11.) Jerusalem was considered holy and the temple sacred; when the disciples of Jesus should see the Roman eagles about to enter the city, they were to leave it. Those who read the prophecy of Daniel should give careful thought to it and understand that the times and events of the future which had been prophesied were about to be fulfilled in the destruction of the city.

16-22 Then let them that are in Judaea flee.—Those who were in Judea and Jerusalem were to flee when the Roman army invaded that country. Jesus instructed his disciples to flee so that they might escape the terrible punishment that would come upon the Jewish nation. They are told to flee to the mountains. The angels told Lot to flee from Sodom. (Genesis 19:17.) Armies at that time avoided a rough mountainous country; in the mountains were also natural hiding places; David found such places in his times of peril. (1 Samuel 13:6; 1 Samuel 22:1; Psalms 11:1.) The disciples warned by Jesus could flee and escape the destruction that would come upon the Jews. "Let him that is on the housetop not go down." He should not go down to "take out the things that are in his house." Those on the housetop should flee quickly, as they who neglected everything, so that they may save their lives. The houses of Palestine were built with flat roofs, and with a staircase running down into the chief entrance, so that they could leave them without passing into any of the rooms. The roofs were often used for prayer, or in the warm months for sleeping. There was to be no lingering when the announcement was made that the Roman army approached. Those who were "in the field" should not "return back to take his cloak." Those who were in the field had left off certain garments when they went out to work; they were not to take time to return to the house and get their extra clothing. The Jews laid aside the upper robe when they engaged in labor; but in journeys they always wore it, girding it around their loins. The disciples of Jesus were not to stop to make preparations for the journey, nor linger to take care of property, but must leave all and flee.

But woe unto them that are with child.—This may include both the Jewish and the Christian women; the Jewish women would find their suffering redoubled in their offspring; Christian women would find it difficult to escape and flee in such condition, and would be overtaken in the flight. Mothers with children would find it difficult to escape; both mother and children would likely fall into the hands of the enemy, hence the woe expressed by Jesus at this time. They were to pray that their "flight be not in the winter, neither on a sabbath." The event was certain, yet the circumstances might be mitigated; nothing would now put off the destruction of the city, for the Jewish nation would not repent; hence Christians should pray that the time might be most favorable for them to escape. The winter months were cold and dangerous to such a party of fugitives, made up in part of weak women, invalids, and children. If the flight should have to be made on the Sabbath, the gates of the city would be closed and would hinder their progress in flight. (Nehemiah 13:19-22.) Even the Jews might hinder the Christians from escaping as they might wish to impose the law with respect to travel on the Sabbath. A Sabbath day’s journey was about five or six furlongs or a little more than half a mile. If this law was enforced, they would not escape the destruction that would be brought upon Jerusalem. Jesus minutely describes the suffering which would come upon the city, "for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be." These words of Jesus were literally true. Nothing in history parallels the description given by historians in describing the fall of Jerusalem. No misery equaled in degree that which was visited upon the Jew. The famine, pestilence, discord, and madness of their leaders, the loss of faith in everything, the despair of help the fighting and bloodshed within the city and without, the iron crushings of the great serpentlike army which contracted its coils in slow but merciless destruction; the superstitious horrors occasioned by mad prophets and terrified priests—all these and many other things form truly "the bloodiest picture in the book of time." Josephus says, "Our city, of all those subjected to the Romans, was raised to the highest felicity, and was thrust down again to the lowest depth of misery; for if the misfortunes of all from the beginning of the world were compared with those of the Jews, they would appear much inferior on comparison." Only two events can be compared with it by the Christian, for only two were acts of divine wrath—the deluge and the overthrow of the cities of the plain. The destruction of Jerusalem was the most dreadful prototype which God has yet laid before the eyes of men of that "certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries" at the last day. (Hebrews 10:27.) Hence, when Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, he blended his description of it with that of his last coming to judge the world.

And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved.—History records that Titus determined to reduce Jerusalem by famine, a long and destructive mode of conquest, and for this purpose he surrounded it with a wall and ditch. After completing his preparation for this attack on the city, he received news from Rome which urged him to hasten to Rome. He changed his plan and pressed the city by assault, that he might return to Rome, where his presence was greatly needed; hence, "those days had been shortened." The overruling providence of God shortened these days "for the elect’s sake." "The elect" has reference to the Christians who were among the Jews at that time. This elect group were to be preserved in order that the gospel might be handed down to future ages.

23-28 Then if any man shall say unto you.—Again the disciples are warned against false teachers. Some expected the end of the world to follow the destruction of the holy city; they would be looking for Christ to come as soon as the city was destroyed. In this state of expectancy they would be easily deceived. It was necessary to give them this caution that they might not be led away by deceivers; again they needed this caution to keep them from confusing the prophecy of the typical and real end of the world. Jesus would have his disciples possess in patience their souls and wait the issue of events. During such trying times some would say, "Lo, here is the Christ, or, Here;believe it not." Jesus warns them that "false Christs, and false prophets" should arise and seek to deceive them by "great signs and wonders." Jesus frequently warned his disciples against impostors, and especially against those who would arise before and during the siege of Jerusalem. These deceivers would promise great things and would base their pretensions upon the very words of Christ and would make a show or pretense of miracles. The false prophets would be known by pretending that Christ was here or there, that is, not openly showing himself, as Jesus had done, but seeking seclusion and darkness. Their pretended miracles would also be done in the dark and they would lead astray "if possible, even the elect." The disciples who were faithful and true to their profession and practice would not be deceived, because the soundness of mind, of a true creed, and a sincere piety, would save them from deception. (1 Timothy 3:9.) Heresy, pride of opinion, and error of practice render people liable to be blown about by every wind of false doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14 .) When the destruction of the temple should come, "false Christs" would appear and claim with great energy that they were the promised Messiahs. Every genuine has its counterfeit. There are false gods, false Christs, false spirits, false apostles, false prophets, false teachers, false doctrines, and false churches; God’s people must be on the alert and not be deceived by any of them.

Jesus points out the arts of deceivers in advance; Josephus tells us "that many impostors and magicians persuaded the people to follow them to the desert, where they promised to show them signs and wonders done of God." These deceivers would pretend that Christ had come, but that he had concealed himself in some place for caution against the Romans until the moment of deliverance come. During the siege of the city a false prophet persuaded the people to the number of six thousand to go the temple and behold signs of deliverance; they all perished. Jesus adds that "as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west so shall be the coming of the Son of man." The lightning needs no one to herald it, but is in an instant of time visible throughout the whole world, even to those who are sitting in their chambers, so the coming of Christ shall be seen everywhere at once, because of the brightness of his glory. The rapidity and destruction of the Roman armies were types of his final coming. As the people would know the presence of the Roman army at the destruction of Jerusalem, so they would know the appearance of Christ when he comes; it will be sudden and momentary, but certain, and those false prophets would be rebuked for their deception. "Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." Probably this is an allusion to Deuteronomy 28:49. Where the body of an animal falls, however secret the spot or desert the place, there were the eagles to be found scenting it from afar. It is claimed that eagles do not feed on dead bodies; this is true, but the Jews and Greeks made no distinction between the word "eagle" which included the entire species of birds of prey, which included vultures. Some think that the griffon vulture is meant which surpasses the eagle in size and power. Aristotle notes how this bird scents its prey from afar, and congregates in the wake of an army. This seems to refer to the false Christs and false prophets, as there is nothing in the three verses next preceding this which can be represented by a carcass or by vultures flocking to it. Some think that the carcass is the decaying Jewish nation, and the eagles or vultures are the false Christs and false prophets who would flock together and prey upon the sufferings and fears of the people.

[Many persons, impostors and self-deceived, aspire to fill the places of persons of honor. Many did come claiming to be Christ. There is still a constant stream of men claiming to be God’s chosen servants leading multitudes into sin and infidelity with pretended claims.]

29-31 But immediately after the tribulation.—Immediately after the terrible events just described as accompanying the destruction of Jerusalem certain things should follow. This verse and those immediately following it have given commentators much trouble. The great questions are (1) whether they can be legitimately applied to the first coming of Jesus in the destruction of Jerusalem, or (2) whether they refer to his second coming and final judgment. The inquiry is simply whether these catastrophes should immediately follow the destruction of Jerusalem or should follow the second coming of Jesus at the end of the Christian dispensation. To prove the first is to disprove the second, at least in the sense of a primary and exclusive reference. The figures and symbols used here are put more strongly by Matthew than by Mark (13 24-27) and Luke (21:25-27). If Matthew and Mark had said only what Luke has and nothing more difficult of reference to the coming of the destruction of Jerusalem, little difficulty would be had in referring the whole passage to the destruction of Jerusalem. However, Luke clearly seems to refer the whole scene to "the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21:27.) This would refer the scene to the final and personal return of Jesus. Obviously then Jesus describes the visible phenomena of the heaven as the visible appearance of Christ at the judgment. These verses form a part of the scene recorded in Matthew 25:31-46. There seem to be at least six particular events embraced here. The visible firmamental convulsions, the sign of Christ’s coming, the visible Judge, the consequent wailing of the tribes of earth, the angels with the trumpet sound, and the gathering of the elect. None of these things took place at the destruction of Jerusalem. In the first class Jesus mentions that the "sun shall be darkened," "the moon shall not give her light," "stars shall fall from heaven," and "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." After these catastrophes "the sign of the Son of man in heaven" shall be seen, and then "the tribes of the earth mourn." The angels will appear "with a great sound of a trumpet" and shall call together "his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." The Old Testament frequently spoke of the sun, moon, and stars being darkened and used them as symbols. (Isaiah 13:10; Joel 2:10.) Peter gives a vivid description of these things. (2 Peter 3:10. See also Hebrews 1:12 and Revelation 20:11.) The disappearance of the visible heavens and earth shall occur so that something entirely different may appear. "The sign of the Son of man" is not the sign of something preceding the coming of Christ, but is the appearing of Christ. In the great harvest at the last day the angels will gather first the saints of God together. (Matthew 13:39; 2 Thessalonians 1:7.) The summons for the saints to come together will be made "with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." (1 Thessalonians 4:16.) It was the custom to assemble the children of Israel by the trumpet sound. (Exodus 19:16; Numbers 10:10.) The beginning of the new year among the Jews was celebrated with a great convocation which was assembled by the sound of the trumpet. (Leviticus 23:24-25.) "From the four winds" means from every quarter of the globe. (Isaiah 43:5-6; Ezekiel 27:9.) This was an ancient mode of describing the entire globe, which was held to consist of four quarters, corresponding to the four points of the compass, from which the four winds were called.

Verses 29-51

Mat 24:29-51

Section VI.
Second Coming of the Son of Man, Matthew 24:19 to Matthew 25:46

J.W. McGarvey

Description of His Coming, Matthew 24:29-31.
Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27)

29. Immediately after.—The events of this paragraph were to take place "after the tribulation of those days;" that is, after the tribulation connected with the siege and sacking of Jerusalem already mentioned in Matthew 24:21. This makes it entirely certain that this coming of the Son of man did not take place during the siege of the city, nor at the time of its destruction. It is equally certain that they have not transpired since that time. It follows, therefore, that the term "immediately" must be understood in a modified sense. The difficulty in the case was anticipated by the apostle Peter when he wrote of the scoffers who would arise in the last days, and say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." The apostle answers, "Be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness." (2 Peter 3:4-9.) This is equivalent to an inspired comment on the term in question, and proves that it is used in an unusual sense. It proves, in other words, that the one group of events was to be immediately after the other, not as it would appear to men, but as it appears to God.

sun be darkened.—Frequently in the Old Testament the darkening of the sun and moon is used as a symbol for the gloom which spreads over the country in a time of war, or pestilence, or other great public calamity. (See, for examples, Isaiah 13:10; Joel 2:10.) But the words of the text correspond so strictly with other descriptions of the second coming as to leave but little probability that they have a figurative meaning. Peter declares that "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise" (2 Peter 3:10); Paul says, "As a vesture thou shalt fold them up, and they shall be changed" (Hebrews 1:12); and John, in his vision of the second coming, saw "a great white throne and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them" (Revelation 20:11). The disappearance of the visible heavens and earth, so that something entirely different will appear in their places, is to occur simultaneously with the final coming of the Son of man.

30. the sign of the Son of man.—The sign is not something preceding his appearing, but the appearing is itself the sign. The term is used in its usual N. T. sense—that of a miraculous sign. Mark and Luke both use the words "they shall see the Son of man." (Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27.).

all the tribes mourn.—To those who are unprepared for it, this will be the most mournful of all days; and that all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, implies that portions, and perhaps large portions, of all tribes of men will be found thus unprepared. The term "all" is not to be construed as including all individuals. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.)

31. send his angels.—The fact that the angels will be employed in gathering together the elect from all parts of the earth, is declared both here and in the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:41); but in what way their ministry will be exercised to this end, we know not.

Parable of the Fig-tree, Matthew 24:32-35.
Mark 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33)

32, 33. So likewise.—The point of comparison in the parable is here clearly stated. As you know that summer is nigh when the fig-tree puts forth leaves, "so likewise" when you see "all these things" you will know that it is nigh. The comparison, however, is still obscure until we determine what things are included in "all these things," and what is meant by the it which was to be near when "all these things" had been seen. The object designated by it is one of the previously mentioned events, and yet it is distinguished from "all these things." The term all, then, is not to be construed as including every single event previously mentioned, seeing that one of them is expressly excluded. Furthermore, the fact that the occurrence of the other events was to be a sign that the excepted one was drawing near, shows that the latter was to be the last of the series. But the last event of the series is the coming of the Son of man, accompanied by the darkening of the heavenly bodies, and the gathering together of the saints. This is the event, then, which was to be near when all the others had been seen.

This conclusion is confirmed when we inquire for the grammatical antecedent of the pronoun it. The pronoun is not expressed in the original, but is understood, and its gender is to be determined by that of its antecedent. The antecedent must be either the word "coming" in the expression, "coming of the Son of man" (Matthew 24:27), or the word "Son" in the expression, "Son of man," in the more immediate context, Matthew 24:30. On either supposition the sense of the passage is the same; for when the Son of man is near, his coming is near; but the former reference requires the neuter pronoun it, as in our English text, while the latter requires the masculine pronoun he. The latter is the more natural and obvious, and is, I think, the correct reference, and the text should be rendered, "So likewise, when ye shall see all these things, know that he is near, even at the door." This rendering is not only required by the syntax of the passage, but it also makes the passage more harmonious within itself. It is persons that come to the door, and are "even at the door," and not events. Such language can be used in reference to events only when the events are personified. The passage, then, taught the disciples that when they should have seen all of the preceding events except the chief one, which was the Son of man coming in the clouds, they might know that he was near. His coming would still be in the future, but it would be near at hand, in that same divine sense in which it was to be "immediately after the tribulation of those days."

34. This generation.—Some very superior scholars understand the word rendered generation (γενεὰ) to mean race and the passage to mean, this Jewish race shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled. (See Alford.) But, as we have just seen, the expression "all these things" designates things to be witnessed and experienced by the Jews, and it would be a mere truism to say that their race would not pass away till all of their own experiences had terminated. The true key to the interpretation of this much disputed passage is found in the expression "all these things," repeated from the preceding verse. It must here have the same meaning as there; for an identical expression repeated in consecutive sentences always has the same meaning, except when something is introduced in the new connection to force upon it a different meaning. There is certainly nothing of the kind here. We therefore conclude, that in the two statements, "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled," and, "When ye see all these things, know that he is near," the expression all these things has the same meaning. But in the latter instance, as we have shown under Matthew 24:33, it means all the events previously mentioned in the speech except the coming of the Son of man. This last event, then, is not included in "all these things; "and it is not one of the things which were to take place before that generation passed away.

35. not pass away.—The declaration contained in this verse is intended to emphasize the absolute certainty of all that Jesus had just predicted. The passing away of prophetic words would be their passing into oblivion through failure to be fulfilled.

Uncertainty of the Day, Matthew 24:36-41.
Mark 13:32-37; Luke 21:34-36)

36. of that day and hour.—The day and hour of the coming of the Son of man. This is clear, both from the fact that this coming is the subject of remark in the two preceding paragraphs (Matthew 24:29-35), and from the fact that after asserting that no man knows the hour, he adds, "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:37.) The object of this remark, and of the entire paragraph, was to prevent a misconception of the previous remarks that his coming would be "immediately after the tribulation of those days," and that when they should have seen all of the signs given, they might "know that he is near, even at the door." It was to prevent the strict construction of those words which has been the mistake of many expositors, both ancient and modern.

37-39. as the days of Noe.—The point of comparison with the days of Noah is not the wickedness of the world at the time of the second coming, for all the practices mentioned, eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, are in themselves innocent. But it is the suddenness with which the event will come to an unexpecting world. As "they knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of man be."

40, 41. one taken, the other left.—One changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52), and then caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17); the other left to be consumed in the conflagration of the earth (2 Peter 3:10), and then called up to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29).

41. two women grinding.—The millstones of the ancients were turned by hand. In the upper millstone and near its edge was inserted a wooden pin which served as a handle. Two persons, seated on opposite sides of the mill, gave this stone the necessary rotation by alternately seizing the handle and each turning it halfway around.

Watchfulness Enjoined, Matthew 24:42-51

42. Watch therefore.—The exhortation to watchfulness is based on the uncertainty of the day as declared in the previous paragraph and here repeated for the sake of emphasis: "for you know not what day your Lord doth come." Unlike the day of the destruction of Jerusalem, there is no sign by which its near approach will be certainly known.

43, 44. he would have watched.—The comparison between the coming of Jesus and that of a thief is the more striking from the dissimilarity between the two characters. There is but one point of comparison—the uncertainty of the time of their coming. As the goodman of the house, had he known what hour the thief would come, would have watched and have prevented his house from being broken into, so we, by watching for the coming of the Son of man, may prevent it from finding us unprepared.

45-47. faithful and wise servant.—The figure is now changed from that of a householder watching against a thief, to that of a servant appointed in his master’s absence to take the oversight of his fellow-servants. This servant represents persons who, like the apostles whom Jesus was addressing, occupy positions of authority in the Church. The words, "he shall make him ruler over all his goods," are descriptive of the literal promotion of the faithful servant, and indicate that a promotion analogous to this will be enjoyed by the faithful officer in the Church. The number of faithful ones who will be found will prevent a literal promotion of each one over all the Master’s goods; hence this point in the parable is not a point of significance in the interpretation.

48-51. that evil servant.—From the reward of the faithful servant the speaker here passes to the fate of the evil servant, still retaining the idea of one in authority. The evil servant, encouraged by the apparent delay of his master’s coming to think that all danger is in the distance, begins to exercise tyranny and to give himself to dissipation. His master comes upon him unexpectedly, and punishes him with the utmost severity. In stating the punishment, Jesus passes from the figure to the reality, and merges the parable in the description: cutting him asunder (Matthew 24:51) terminates the parable which had been itself almost a description, and the description begins with appointing him his portion with the hypocrites, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. At this point it may be well to remind the reader that all the warnings in reference to his second coming, given by Jesus in the preceding as well as in the following divisions of this discourse, are equally applicable to our departure to meet him. Whether he first comes to us, or we first go to him, the result will be the same, for as we are at death we will be at his coming, seeing that it is concerning the deeds done in the body that we will be judged. (2 Corinthians 5:10.)

The Day and Hour Unknown - Matthew 24:36-51

Open It

1. What is the most surprised you’ve ever been in your life?

2. What are some ways people show their unbelief in God?

3. With what mysteries are people intrigued today?

Explore It

4. Who knows when the end times will come? (Matthew 24:36)

5. When did Jesus say these end time events would occur? (Matthew 24:36)

6. Who did Jesus say knows the day and hour of the end? (Matthew 24:36)

7. To what did Jesus compare the end of the world? (Matthew 24:37)

8. How will most people react when the end comes? (Matthew 24:38-41)

9. What illustrations did Jesus use to show the suddenness of His return? (Matthew 24:40-41)

10. What warning did Jesus give His disciples? (Matthew 24:42)

11. To what did Jesus liken His coming? Why? (Matthew 24:43-44)

12. What qualities did Jesus say His servants will need to be ready for His coming? (Matthew 24:45-47)

13. What did Jesus warn would happen to those who doubt His coming? (Matthew 24:48-51)

Get It

14. What would you do if you hired a house sitter/caretaker to watch your home and children, left for a week-long vacation, and then returned a day early only to find that your caretaker had neglected your kids, destroyed your property, and ignored all your other instructions?

15. What does it mean for us to be watchful?

16. How can you tell when you are being watchful?

17. What difference does it make whether we believe in the imminent return of Christ?

18. Even if we claim to believe in Christ, what are some ways we live as though we were atheists?

19. How might a non-Christian look at your life and accuse you of not believing in the imminent return of Jesus Christ?

20. How would you react if you knew a thief would try to burglarize your home or apartment tonight?

21. How can we have a sense of expectation about the return of Christ?

22. How do you know that hell is a horrible place?

Apply It

23. How can you use your time today to honor the Lord’s imminent return?

24. What steps can you take today to be a better steward of the gifts and information God has entrusted to you?

Verses 32-51

Mat 24:32-51



Matthew 24:32-51

32-35 Now from the fig tree learn her parable.—There is an analogy which Jesus teaches from the fig tree; the disciples were to learn a truth from the fig tree which would help them understand his teaching. The fig tree is a native product of Palestine , in a warm climate fruit forms a very large portion of the customary food, and hence the fruit tree is a favorite source of illustrations. Jesus spoke this on the Mount of Olives where fig trees were growing all around him; he was near Bethphage, which means house of figs. They knew that summer was nigh by the putting forth of the leaves of the fig tree, as we say that "robins are the harbingers of spring." "Even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors." As the swelling buds and leaves of the fig tree indicate the near approach of summer, so when Jerusalem is destroyed you may know ’that God’s judgment is sure and swift and will be as certain in the last day. This destruction would come upon Jerusalem during the lifetime of some who were present before that generation passes away. This means that there would be some people living who would see the awful destruction pronounced against Jerusalem; this destruction is a type of the destruction of the final incorrigible wicked. Often prophetic language has a double significance. Jehovah told Adam that he would die in the day that he ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:7); yet Adam lived 930 years. There was a primary fulfillment of this when Adam was separated from the Garden of Eden, and a secondary fulfillment of it in his death (Romans 5:12), Isaiah foretold the birth of Jesus from a virgin, yet added a prophecy which confines it to his own generation. (Isaiah 7:14-17.) The prophet combined type and antitype in the same words. David spoke of the Messiah under the type of Solomon. Words and events, new kingdoms and dynasties, are the prophetic alphabet for spelling out the divine plan; so the destruction of Jerusalem becomes the type of the final judgment and destruction. Sometimes it is difficult to take the language of Jesus and apply it to both the type and antitype. God’s word is sure and those ’things which seem to be changeless and eternal will fail, but not one word of what Jesus told would fail of accomplishment.

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no one.—Mark 13:32 denies the knowledge of that day and hour to any man—to the angels in heaven, and to the Son; he restricts a knowledge of it to the Father. It seems clear that Jesus here speaks of his second coming. Of the exact season and year of this, it is not a part of the divine plan that any man should be informed; certainty as to the date would nullify the whole effect of the prophecy, since the great lesson drawn from it was "watch and pray." If Jesus had told them that forty years from that time on such a day he would come, they would have been inclined to be indolent and unfaithful and unwatchful. The uncertainty of the time leads us to watch and pray. All schemes which attempt to fix the exact date of the coming of Christ are foolish and deceptive. (2 Thessalonians 2:2.) Jesus did not want his disciples to misunderstand him, hence he has stated that no one knows of the time when he will return, hence no one has any right to fix a time for his coming. It is certain that he will return, but no one can go further with respect to his coming than to declare that he will return.

37-41 And as were the days of Noah.—Jesus here gives another caution; the world would go on in all its business, sins, pleasures, even as in the days of Noah. Noah warned the people before the flood, but they continued in all of the commerces of their civilization—socially, morally, and economically; they gave no heed to his warnings they were eating and drinking and marrying up to the very time "that Noah entered into the ark" and the destruction of the flood came upon them "and took them all away" while they were still engaged in the common affairs of their wicked lives. Jesus makes his own comparison; he says "so shall be the coming of the Son of man." The people of Noah’s day ridiculed the idea of a flood; those of Jerusalem ridiculed the idea of the destruction of their holy city; in like manner sinful people will be filled with cares and pleasures of the world at the time that Jesus comes. The archangels’ trump strangely in the revelry of the bridal feast, the crash and conflict of the battle in war, the hum and whir of the factory, the confusing noises of the city life, and the ceaseless roar of the restless seas will sound strange to the unbeliever.

Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left.—Companions in the field and in the affairs of life will be separated; the angels that gather the redeemed will take one and leave the other. Here Jesus emphasizes the unexpected and sudden return to earth; this comparison enforces the one about Noah. Again "two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left." The grinding was done then by hand mills, and was usually done by women as they prepared the food or baked the bread. It is not very laborious to grind the meal and was an indoor work. The mills were made of two circular stones which turn on a fixed center; the lower one is stationary, the upper revolves upon it, crushing the grain between the rough surfaces. Two. women at one mill are very near to each other, and grasp the handle of the millstone together. The closest ties and occupations of two friends walking together, two of a family preparing the daily meal, shall be broken suddenly and forever. Again Jesus emphasizes the suddenness of the destruction of Jerusalem and of his second coming and the judgment.

42-44 Watch therefore.—Here Jesus gives his own conclusion; these words are the moral or practical inference of the entire discourse. The disciple who would be saved, in view of all these facts which must come to pass, must "watch"; Christians must act the part of sentinels in a night guard, or be stewards who get all things ready for the Master’s coming; or must be as the bride who desires not to be be made ashamed at the coming of the bridegroom. Christians must not be like the world in the time of the flood, slumbering and revelling; they must watch, for they know not the hour when Jesus will return. Jesus gives the illustration of the master of the house. "If the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched" and would have been ready for the thief and saved his household affairs. The thief comes without warning, in the dead hours of the night, silently, fearful, and dangerous; the Christ will come in an instant, to wake the soul to the tremendous truths of an eternal world. This figure is used frequently in the New Testament. (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16 15.) Only those who take the same care of their souls, which a master of a family would take for his household goods, will be prepared for the coming of Christ. "In what watch" means in what division of the night; the night was divided into four quarters. Oftentimes thieves would dig through the walls of the house and carry away their loot. Again Jesus draws his own conclusion and makes application to his disciples; they are to be ready when he comes, and since they do not know when he is coming, they are to live in a state of readiness or watchfulness. The comparison between the coming of Christ and that of a thief is the more impressive from the dissimilarity between the two characters.

45-51 Who then is the faithful and wise servant?—Again Jesus uses another illustration or parable. The master of a household and servants are frequently used by Jesus. In this instance Jesus changes the image from a householder watching for a thief to a servant waiting for his master. Servants had specific duties assigned to them; it was the duty of certain servants to provide the food and have it ready at meal-time or "in due season." The servant that is faithful and has all things ready for the master when he comes receives the commendation and blessings of his master. The Bible speaks of a number of faithful servants. There was Eliezer, Abraham’s faithful slave (Genesis 15:2; Genesis 24:2);also Joseph in Potiphar’s house as a slave; Daniel in Babylonian captivity; and Onesimus. The faithful servant is honored and blessed by his master. In like manner he will be rewarded for his faithfulness when the master comes, but the unfaithful and evil servant will be punished. The wicked servant seeks to take advantage of the absence of his master. He not only neglected the tasks assigned to him in the absence of his master, but he abused his fellow servants and lived a riotous drunken life. Such a one deserves the severest punishment of the master. His master will come at a time that he is least expecting him and will know of his wickedness. He will "cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites." "Cut asunder" is a common mode of punishment in that country. (1 Samuel 15:33; 2 Samuel 12:31; Daniel 2:5; Daniel 3:28; Hebrews 11:37.) His portion will be among the hypocrites and there shall be "weeping and the gnashing of teeth." His portion belongs with the hypocrites as he belongs to that class. The entire description throughout these verses applies most fitly to the suddenness and to all the results that follow the destruction of Jerusalem and the coming of Christ. "Weeping and the gnashing of teeth" is a phrase often used to denote the bitterest agony and convulsions of pain and rage;the bitterest sting of the punishment is that he brought it upon himself.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 24". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/matthew-24.html.
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