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Matthew 24

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Destruction of the Temple Foretold Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple Destruction of the Temple Foretold Jesus Speaks of the Destruction of the Temple Introduction
24:1-2 24:1-2 24:1-2 24:1-2 24:1-3
The Beginning of Woes The Signs of the Times On the End of the Age Troubles and Persecutions The Beginning of Sorrows
24:3-14 24:3-14 24:3-8 24:3  
      24:4-8 24:4-8
    24:9-14 24:9-14 24:9-13
        24:14
The Great Tribulation The Great Tribulation   The Awful Horror The Great Tribulation of Jerusalem
24:15-28 24:15-28 24:15-28 24:15-22 24:15-22
      24:23-25 24:23-25
        The Coming of the Son of Man
      24:26-27 24:26-28
      24:28  
The Coming of the Son of Man The Coming of the Son of Man   The Coming of the Son of Man The Universal Significance of This Coming
24:29-31 24:29-31 24:29-31 24:29-31 24:29-31
The Lesson of the Fig Tree The Parable of the Fig Tree   The Lesson of the Fig Tree The Time of This Coming
24:32-35 24:32-35 24:32-35 24:32-35 24:32-36
The Unknown Day and Hour No One Knows the Day or the Hour   No One Knows the Day or Hour Be On the Alert
24:36-44 24:36-44 24:36-44 24:36-44  
        24:37-41
        24:42-44
The Faithful or the Unfaithful Servant The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant   The Faithful or the Unfaithful Servant Parable of the Conscientious Servant
24:45-51 24:45-51 24:45-51 24:45-51 24:45-51

 

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

 

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS FOR 24:1-36 (parallel to Mark 13:1-37)

A. My exegetical notes on Mark 13 are more complete in my commentary on Mark and I & 2 Peter. You can see all of my commentaries at www.freebiblecommentary.org.

 

B. Matt. 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are so difficult to interpret because they deal with several questions simultaneously (cf. Matt. 24:3).

1. When will the Temple be destroyed?

2. What will be the sign of the Messiah's return?

3. When will this age end?

 

C. The genre of New Testament eschatological passages is usually a combination of apocalyptic (see Special Topic below) and prophetic language which is purposely ambiguous and highly symbolic.

 

D. Several passages in the NT (cf. Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21, 1 and 2 Thess. and Rev.) deal with the Second Coming. These passages emphasize

1. the exact time of the event is unknown but the event is certain

2. we can know the general time but not specific time of the events

3. it will occur suddenly and unexpectedly

4. we must be prayerful, ready, and faithful to assigned tasks

 

E. There is a theological paradoxical tension between (1) the any moment return (cf. Matt. 24:27,44) versus (2) the fact that some events in history must occur.

 

F. The NT states that some events will occur before the Second Coming:

1. The Gospel preached to the whole world (cf. Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10)

2. The great apostasy (cf. Matt. 24:10-13, 21; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1ff.; 2 Thess. 2:3)

3. The revelation of the "man of sin" (cf. Dan. 7:23-26; 9:24-27; 2 Thess. 2:3)

4. Removal of that/who restrains (cf. 2 Thess. 2:6-7)

5. Jewish revival (cf. Zech. 12:10; Rom. 11)

 

G. Verses 37-44 are not paralleled in Mark. They do have a partial Synoptic parallel in Luke 17:26-37.

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:1-2
 1Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down."

24:1 "the temple" This was the Greek word for the whole temple area (hieron, cf. Mark 13:1). Jesus had been teaching there since Matt. 21:23. This building itself (naos, cf. Mark 15:38) had become the great Jewish hope (cf. Jeremiah 7), a symbol of God's exclusive love for the Jews.

▣ "buildings" They were white polished limestone with gold trim. This building project took Herod the Great more than 46 years to complete (cf. John. 2:20). This project was meant to placate the Jews, who were upset because an Idumean (Edom) was ruling over them.

24:2 "stone" Josephus tells us that Herod the Great used polished limestones or mezzeh, which were native to this area. These foundation stones and wall stones were huge, 25x8x12 cubits ( a cubit was 18-21 inches; thus, the total volume of one of these stones would have been approximately 3600 cubic feet).

▣ "not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down" This is the strong grammatical structure of two double negatives. This speaks of total destruction. This must have dumbfounded the disciples! Josephus tells us that in a.d. 70 the Roman army destroyed this site so completely that one could plow the ground on Mount Moriah (cf. Mic. 3:12; Jer. 26:18) where the temple stood.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:3
 3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"

24:3 "sitting on the Mount of Olives" This ridge to the east overlooked Jerusalem and the temple area. Mark's Gospel identified the disciples who asked Jesus these questions-Peter, James, John, and Andrew. Matthew reads "the disciples came up. . .to Him" (cf. Matt. 24:1 and 3).

▣ "when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming" Mark 13:4 and Luke 21:7 have only one question, but Matt. 24:3 shows the expanded questions. There were several events the disciples wanted to know about: (1) destruction of the temple, (2) Second Coming and (3) end of this age. The disciples probably thought all three would happen at one time. See Special Topic following.

The term used here translated "coming" (cf. Matt. 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1,8; James 5:7,8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28) is parousia. See the second Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ANSWERS TO THE DISCIPLES'TWO QUESTIONS OF MATTHEW 24:3

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SECOND COMING

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:4-8
 4And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. 5For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,'and will mislead many. 6You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

24:4 "See to it that no one misleads you" This is a present active imperative with the negative particle which meant stop an act in process. There were and continue to be many false signs or "precursor signs." This statement was repeated often (cf. Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 33). There is great theological confusion in this area. The church has never had a consensus in eschatology.

Every generation of Christians has tried to force their contemporary history into biblical prophecy. To date they have all been wrong. Part of the problem is that believers are to live in a moment by moment expectation of the Second Coming yet the prophecies are all written for one end time generation of persecuted followers. Rejoice that you do not know!

24:5 "many will come in My name" This referred to false messiahs (cf. Matt. 24:11, 23-24; Mark 13:6). It could also be an allusion to the end-time (1) antichrist of 1 John 2:18; (2) "Man of Sin" of 2 Thessalonians 2; or (3) the Sea Beast of Rev. 13:1-10.

▣ "I am the Christ" "Christ" is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew term messiah, which meant "an anointed one." This shows that many messianic pretenders would come (cf. Matt. 24:11, 24; 1 John. 2:18).

▣ "and will mislead many" This shows the persuasive power of the false messiahs and the spiritual vacuum of fallen mankind (cf. Matt. 24:11,23-26). It also shows the naivete of new believers and/or carnal Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1-3; Col. 2:16-23; Heb. 5:11-14).

24:6 "that you are not frightened" This is present passive imperative with the negative particle, which usually means stop an act in process.

▣ "for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end" Wars (Matt. 24:6, 7), famines (Matt. 24:7), earthquakes (Matt. 24:7), and false messiahs (Matt. 24:5) are not signs of the end, but precursor signs of every age (cf. Matt. 24:8). The presence of these kinds of events are not a sign of the end, but of a fallen world.

24:8

NASB, NRSV"of birth pangs"
NKJV"of sorrows"
TEV"the first pains of childbirth"
NJB"the birthpangs"

This referred to the "birth pangs" of the new age (cf. Isa. 13:8; 26:17; 66:7; Mic. 4:9-10; Mark 13:8). This reflected the Jewish belief in the intensification of evil before the new age of righteousness. The Jews believed in two ages (see Special Topic at Matt. 12:31); the current evil age, characterized by sin and rebellion against God, and the "age to come." The New Age would be inaugurated by the coming of the Messiah. It would be a time of righteousness and fidelity to God. Although the Jewish view was true to a point, it did not take into account the two comings of the Messiah. We live in the over-lapping of these two ages. The "already" and "not yet" of the kingdom of God!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:9-14
 9"Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

24:9 "Then" This term is used several times in Jesus' end-time discussion (cf. Matt. 24:9,10,14,16,21,23,30,40; 25:1,7,31,34,37, 41,44,45). The question is

1. Is it simply a transition marker?

2. Does it designate a temporal sequence?

3. Does it designate a context sequence (like the waw consecutive in Hebrew)?

 

Mark 13:9 is much more specific at this point. " Courts and synagogues," a phrase not found in Matt. 24:9, shows both governmental and religious persecution of Christians (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-16). " Beaten" or literally "skinned," Jews whipped offenders thirty-nine times-thirteen times on the front and twenty-six times on the back (cf. Deut. 25:1-3; 2 Cor. 11:24).

▣ "you will be hated by all nations" Jesus prepared His disciples for the world's hatred (cf. Matt. 10:22; 21:35-36; 23:37; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17; John 15:18,19; 1 John 3:13). The level of opposition to the gospel is surprising (cf. Eph. 6:10-18). The implication of this phrase is that Christianity has spread into all the world (cf. Matt. 24:14) which means Jesus is referring to a future time.

▣ "because My name" Not for their own wickedness or civil crimes will believers be persecuted, but because they are Christians (cf. Matt. 5:10-16; Mark13:9; 1 Pet. 4:12-16).

24:10 "many will fall away" Under persecution and spiritual delusion many followers of Jesus will "fall away" (lit. "be caused to stumble," cf. Matt. 11:6). These are the ones spoken of in the parable of the soils in Matt. 13:21 (cf. Mark 4:17; 8:13). They are the ones who "do not abide" in John 15:6. They are the ones who leave the fellowship in 1 John 2:18-19. They are the ones described in Hebrews and 2 Pet. 2:20-22. See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at Matt. 7:21.

24:10-11 This implies organized opposition (cf. Mark13:12). Families will be split over Christ (cf. Matt. 10:35-37). Those who should have been changed by the gospel act like the unsaved (cf. Titus 3:2-3).

24:11 "many false prophets" This is a frightful thought. These people are wolves in sheep's clothing (cf. Matt. 7:15-23). Believers must have a grasp of the gospel, a yieldedness to the Spirit, and a godly lifestyle to protect themselves from these pretenders (cf. 2 Peter 2; 1 John. 2:18-19; Revelation 13).

24:12 Persecution will reveal the true spiritual nature of the pretenders (cf. Matt. 13:20-22) or the weak (cf. 1 Tim. 6:9-10).

24:13 "but whoever endures to the end, he will be saved" This is an aorist active participle (endure) followed by a future passive indicative (saved cf. Matt. 10:22. See Special Topic: the Need to Persevere at Matt. 10:22). This is the doctrine of perseverance (Rev. 2:2, 11, 12, 26; 3:5, 12, 21) and it must be held in a dialectical tension with the doctrine of the security of the believer. Both are true! Both are gifts of God. The term "saved" can be understood in its OT sense of physical deliverance and its NT sense of spiritual eternal deliverance.

Endurance is an evidence of a life changing encounter with Jesus (be sure to read the Special Topic on perseverance at Matt. 10:22). It does not imply sinlessness, but it does contrast the actions of Matt. 24:10-12!

24:14 "this gospel of the kingdom" This was mentioned earlier in Matt. 4:23; 9:35. It is synonymous with "the gospel." It referred to the content of Jesus' preaching.

▣ "shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations" This is the goal of Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8! It marks a major shift away from the "Israel only" policy. This is one of the things that must occur before the Second Coming. It is impossible to know how specific to interpret this phrase. Does it mean every single tribe or people in racial groupings or possibly everyone in the Roman world of Paul's day? This second option is possible because the phrase "the whole world" is literally "the inhabited earth."

SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:15-28
 15"Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things that are in his house. 18Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,'or 'There He is,'do not believe him. 24For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25Behold, I have told you in advance. 26So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,'do not got out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,'do not believe them. 27For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather."

24:15

NASB, NKJV"the abomination of desolation"
NRSV"the desolating sacrilege"
TEV"the Awful Horror"
NJB"the appalling abomination"

The word "desolation" meant sacrilege. This was used in Dan. 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11. It seems originally to refer to Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 b.c. (cf. Dan. 8:9-14; I Mac. 1:54). Also in Dan. 7:7-8 it related to the Antichrist of the end time (cf. 2 Thess. 2:4). Luke 21:20 helps us interpret this as possibly the coming of Titus'army in a.d. 70. It cannot refer to the siege of Jerusalem itself because it would be too late for believers to escape.

This is an example of a phrase being used in several different but related senses. This is called multiple fulfillment prophecy. Often it is difficult to interpret until after the events occur. Then looking back, the typology is obvious. For more detailed notes on Daniel see my commentary at www.freebiblecommentary.org.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"standing in the holy place"
TEV"it will be standing in the holy place"
NJB"set up in the holy place"

The Greek participle "standing" is neuter, not masculine. It should be translated " it," which backs up the interpretation of "it" being the Roman army under Titus in a.d. 70. "Holy Place" referred to the first part of the central shrine of the Temple. Titus set up Roman standards representing their pagan gods in this area of the temple.

NASB, NRSV,
NJB"(let the reader understand)"
NKJV"(whoever reads, let him understand)"
TEV"(Note to the reader: understand what this means)"

This was a comment by Matthew to his Christian readers. Everyone read aloud in the ancient Mediterranean world. A regular attender at synagogue should know God's word. It may relate to the specific phrase "the abomination of desolation" in Dan. 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11.

24:16 "then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains" Eusebius, an early church historian (4th century a.d.), informs us that the Christian community fled to the city of Pella in Perea when the Roman army appeared and began to surround Jerusalem.

24:17 "Whoever is on the housetop" The houses had flat roofs. They were used as the place of social gathering in the hot months. It has been said that one could walk across Jerusalem on the roofs of houses. Apparently some houses were built next to the city's wall. When the army was seen, immediate flight was necessary.

24:18 "must not turn back to get his cloak" This referred to one's outer cloak which was used as sleeping gear. They were to flee immediately and not go back even for what was perceived as necessities of life.

24:19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies" See Mark13:17. This referred to the destruction of Jerusalem only! These disciples'questions to Jesus related to three separate issues: the destruction of Jerusalem, His Second Coming, and the end of the age. The problem is that these questions were dealt with at the same time. There is no easy verse division by topic.

24:20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter" This phrase was related to the difficulties of pregnant women fleeing quickly. This is not a warning to today's women not to be pregnant at the Second Coming. Matthew, written to Jews, adds the phrase "or on the Sabbath" which is left out of Mark 13:18. Jewish believers would be reluctant to flee on a Sabbath.

I am struck by two things related to this verse.

1. Jesus did not know the exact date of the destruction of Jerusalem.

2. Believers'prayers could affect the exact date of the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

24:21 "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will" This is a Hebrew idiomatic phrase similar to many in the OT (cf. Exod. 10:14; 11:6; Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Joel 2:2).

24:22 If all the Christians fled as Eusebius tells us they did, then this might be a reference to the Jewish people, the OT elect (God still has a purpose for national Israel cf. Rom. 9-11). However because of the use of the term "elect" in Matt. 24:24 and 31, it seems to refer to believing Jews. For "elect" see Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Election/Predestination and the Need for a Theological Balance

SPECIAL TOPIC: FORTY-TWO MONTHS

24:23,26 The true Messiah's coming will not be secret or hidden. It will not be to a select group but visible to all (Matt. 24:27). Biblically there is no "secret rapture." See note at Matt. 24:40-41.

24:23,26 "if" These are two third class conditional sentences which denote potential action.

24:24 "they will show great signs and wonders" These false christs will perform miracles (cf. Matt. 7:21-23). Be careful of always identifying the miraculous with God (cf. Exod. 7:11-12,22; Deut. 13:1-3; 2 Thess. 2:9-12; Rev. 13:13; 16:14; 20:20).

24:27 "just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be" See Luke 17:24. Mark 13 does not have this phrase. This implies a visible coming. The NT does not teach a secret rapture of believers (cf. Matt. 24:40-41). But it does reveal that believers dead and alive will meet the Lord in the air at His Second Coming (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18). The air was considered the realm of the demonic or Satan (cf. Eph. 2:2). Believers will meet Jesus in the midst of Satan's kingdom to show its total overthrow!

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ANY-MOMENT RETURN OF JESUS VERSUS THE NOT YET (NT PARADOX)

24:28 "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather" This does not appear in Mark 13 but it does appear in Luke 17:37. It was a proverbial statement possibly from Job 39:30. If it was a cryptic reference to the end time battle of Psalm 2, then maybe the source is Ezek. 39:17-20. It may be a metaphor for endtime persecution and death.

NASB TEXT: 24:29-31
 29But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

24:29 "but" This is a strong adversative showing a break in context. Notice all the English translations mark a paragraph division at this point.

▣ "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light" This was OT apocalyptic language of the end time (cf. Isa. 13:10; 34:4; Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 2:10,31; 3:15; Amos 8:9). There will be upheavals in nature at the coming of the Day of the Lord (cf. 2 Pet. 3:7,10,11,12; Rev. 6:12-14).

▣ "the powers of the heavens will be shaken" This could simply be the continuation of the OT apocalyptic language, and thereby a reference to the convulsions of nature at the Lord's coming or a reference to angelic powers that influence history (cf. Dan. 10; Eph. 6:12; Col. 2:15; Rev. 12:4).

24:30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky" It is possible that this is a connection to Isa. 60:1-3. The " sign" would be the light of the Shekinah cloud of glory. Earthly lights fail, but God's light (cf. Gen. 1:3), the true morning star, shines forth!

Jesus' humanity (Ps. 8:4; Ezek. 2:1) and deity (Dan. 7:13) are emphasized by the term "Son of Man." Clouds were seen as the means for transportation of deity in the OT. Jesus used them in Acts 1:9 and 1 Thess. 4:17 which implied His deity. This sign will be Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven as the eastern sky " opens."

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SON OF MAN (from notes on Daniel 7:13)

▣ "and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn" This referred to the visible return of Jesus. It will be seen by the entire world. Unbelievers will suddenly recognize the consequences of their unbelief.

▣ "on the clouds" See Special Topic following.

SPECIAL TOPIC: COMING ON THE CLOUDS

▣ "with power and great glory" This shows the drastic contrast between His first coming and the Second Coming. This is the way the Jews expect the Messiah's coming. See note on "Glory" at Matt. 16:27.

24:31 "His angels" See Mark13:27, 8:38, and 2 Thess. 1:7. God's angels are called Jesus' angels here. This implied His deity.

▣ "with a great trumpet" This probably referred to the Shophar, the left ram's horn, which was used to signal Jewish Sabbaths and feast days. In Isa. 27:13 there is a trumpet blast related to the last days (cf. 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16).

SPECIAL TOPIC: HORNS USED BY ISRAEL

▣ "gather together His elect" This is OT imagery of restoration from exile (i.e., Deut. 30:4), here turned into an eschatological gathering (cf. Matt. 13:40-43,47-49). The exact order of these specific end-time events is uncertain. Paul taught that at death the believer is already with Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:6,8). 1 Thess. 4:13ff. teaches that apparently something of our physical bodies, which were left here, will be united with our spirits at the Lord's coming. This implies a disembodied state between death and resurrection day. There is so much about the end-time events and afterlife that are not recorded in the Bible.

▣ "from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other" This implied a world-wide following of Jesus! It also implied a long period of time for the gospel to spread.

The numerical four is symbolic of the world. It referred to the four corners of the world (Isa. 11:12; Rev. 7:1), the four winds of heaven (Dan. 7:2; Zech. 2:6), and the four ends of heaven (Jer. 49:36). See Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers In Scripture at Matt. 4:2.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:32-35
 32Now learn the parable of the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 34Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

24:32 "the fig tree" This parable is paralleled in Mark 13:28-32 and Luke 21:29-33. The fig tree in this proverbial passage was apparently not a symbol of Israel as in Matt. 21:18-20 and Mark 11:12-14, but a way of assuring believers that although they cannot know the specific eschatological times, they can know the general time. The fig tree put out its leaves early and everyone knew spring was close.

24:32-33 "you know" When the last generation comes, the Bible's prophetic passages will fit exactly the history of that day. This knowledge will strengthen the believers'trust in God amidst end time persecution. The problem with every generation of believers is that they force the Bible into the history of their own day! All attempts have so far have been wrong!

24:33 "He" This masculine pronoun is not in the Greek text. It should be "it" (cf. Matt. 24:14).

▣ "when you see all these things" This could refer to (1) the destruction of Jerusalem; (2) the transfiguration (cf. Mark 9:1; Matt. 16:27); or (3) one of these specific signs of the Second Coming.

24:34 This verse referred to the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 by the Roman legion under Titus. Jesus was merging the questions of Matt. 24:3: (1) the destruction of the temple, (2) the sign of His return at the end of the age, and (3) the end of the age.

It is also possible to link Matt. 10:23; 16:28 and 24:34 and conclude that Jesus expected to return quickly, but Matthew, writing decades later, realized the " delayed return" theme in Jesus' teachings.

24:25 What a strong statement of Jesus' self understanding. It surely relates to Matt. 5:17-19 or Isa. 40:8; 55:11. Jesus is the full revelation of the invisible God (i.e., Col. 1:15).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:36-41
 36But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

24:36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" For "hour" see Special Topic below. This is a strong verse to deter Christians from setting specific dates for the Second Coming.

The phrase "nor the Son" is not included in Matt. 24:36 in some ancient Greek uncial manuscripts אa, K, L, W. It is included in most translations because it does occur in manuscripts א, B and D, the Diatesseron, and the Greek texts known to Irenaeus, Origen, Chrysostom, and the old Latin manuscript used by Jerome. This may have been one of the texts modified by orthodox scribes to accentuate the deity of Christ against false teachers (See The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Bart D. Ehrman, pp. 91-92, published by Oxford University Press, 1993).

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HOUR

24:37 "Coming" See Special Topic at Matt. 24:3.

▣ "will be just like the days of Noah" This is an idiom which meant that normal life was continuing just as in the past (cf. Matt. 24:38).

24:39 This is the judgment of God on the unbelieving both temporally and eschatologically.

24:40-41 "there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left" Many try to relate this to a secret rapture. However, the context implies blessing on some and judgment on others in the unexpected day the Lord returns. It is uncertain which group is blessed. Does "taken" or "left" refer to Noah and his family who were left alive after the Flood, or are those who meet the Lord in the air (Matt. 24:31)? An OT example of some people being blessed and some people being judged is Noah's flood (cf. Matt. 24:39). In Luke the OT example of Sodom was used (cf. Luke 17:29). As a matter of fact, Matt. 24:27 implied one physical, visible coming of the Lord! The only reason some want a secret rapture of believers first is to try to explain the dialectical tension in the NT documents between (1) the any moment return of the Lord and (2) the fact that some things must happen first.

Jesus gives several examples to denote the suddenness and unexpectedness of His return.

1. Noah's flood, Matt. 24:37-38

2. thief in the night, Matt. 24:43

3. the master's return, Matt. 24:45-46

4. delayed bridegroom, 25:5-6

5. possibly "lightning" in Matt. 24:27

Believers'only option is to be ready at all times (cf. Matt. 24:44; 25:10,13)!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:42-44
 42Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

24:42 "be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming" This parable is paralleled in Luke 12:39-40. The emphasis on being ready (cf. Matt. 24:43, 44) and the uncertainty of the time (cf. Matt. 24:39,47,49,50; 25:5,13) are recurrent themes in the chapter. The uncertainty of the time provides motivation for the continued readiness of each generation of believers.

24:43 "if" This is a second class conditional sentence, which is called "contrary to fact." A statement is made that is false so the conclusion drawn from it is also false.

24:44 "you also must be ready" This phrase is present (deponent) imperative (cf. Mark 13:5,9,23). This is the key for believers, not speculation and dogmatism about the when and how!

The fact that so many expect His coming soon may be an evidence that this is not the last generation!

▣ "an hour" See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HOUR at Matt. 24:36.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 24:45-51
 45Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,'49and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with the drunkards; 50the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51and will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

24:45 "put in charge of his household" Some see this as relating this parable to Christian leaders (cf. Luke 12-40-48). In this context it related to Jesus' continuing confrontation with the Jewish leaders of His day.

24:46 Believers must remain active, ready, and faithful (cf. Luke 12:37-38; James 1:12; Rev. 16:15). The when and how of the Second Coming is not the issue!

24:47 "he will put him in charge of all his possessions" See Matt. 13:12, 25:29, and Luke 19:17.

24:48 "if" This is a third class conditional sentence, which meant potential future action.

"heart" See Special Topic at Matt. 5:8.

▣ "My master is not coming for a long time" This represents the concept of a delay in the Second Coming (cf. Matt. 25:5; 2 Thess. 2; 2 Pet. 3:4).

24:50 "the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know" See Matt. 24:27,44; 25:6, 13. This reflects the "any moment" return of the Lord.

24:51 "will cut him to pieces" There is uncertainty as to whether this is metaphorical or literal (cf. 2 Sam. 12:31; Heb. 11:37). It is surely a description of OT judgment.

▣ "with the hypocrites" The parallel in Luke 12:46 has "unbelievers." Matthew calls the Pharisees "hypocrites" several times. See Special Topic at Matt. 6:2.

▣ "weeping" These last two items are judgment metaphors. Weeping was a sign of great sadness (cf. Matt. 25:30).

▣ "gnashing of teeth" This represents anger or pain (cf. Matt. 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 25:30).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the basic purpose of this chapter?

2. Do verses 4-7 describe the end time?

3. How does Daniel's prophecy (7:23-28; 9:24-27; 11:26-29) relate to this chapter?

4. Why does Jesus use language like verse 24?

5. Can we know when the Lord will come again?

6. Is the time of Second Coming imminent, delayed, or time uncertain?

7. How could Jesus not know the time (Matt. 24:36)?

8. What is the major emphasis of this section (Matt. 24:45-51)?

9. Do you expect Jesus' return in your lifetime? Why?

 

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