Matthew 24:15-21 Commentary



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Matthew 24:15-21 Commentary


Jim Bomkamp
Alan Carr
John Calvin
A C Gaebelein
John Lightfoot
Brian Bell
Rich Cathers
Thomas Constable
W A Criswell
Ron Daniel
Joe Guglielmo
Dave Guzik
S Lewis Johnson
J Vernon McGee
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
Ray Pritchard
Don Robinson
Don Robinson
Ray Stedman
Ray Stedman
John Walvoord
John Walvoord
Steve Zeisler
Precept Study

Matthew 24:15-27 Notes
Matthew 24:1-31 The Time Of Jacob's Trouble
Matthew 24:15-28 Commentary
Matthew 24 Commentary (scroll down)
Matthew 24 Commentary
Matthew 24:15-31 Notes
Matthew 24 Notes

Matthew Commentary
Matthew 24:15-21 The Pre-, Mid-, Post-tribulationist
Matthew 24:9-27 Notes
Matthew 24 Notes
Matthew 24 Commentary
Matthew 24:15-28 The Great Tribulation
Matthew. 24:14  Matthew. 24:15-22 Mp3's
Matthew 24:15: The Signs of Christ's Coming 4
Matthew 24:15: Abomination of Desolation - Study Guide

Matthew 24:15: Abomination of Desolation
Matthew 24:16-28: The Signs of Christ's Coming 5
Matthew 24:16-28: Warnings of Coming Peril - Study Guide

Matthew 24:16-28: Warnings of Coming Peril
Matthew 24:29-31: The Signs of Christ's Coming 6
Matthew 24:29-31: The Sign of the Son of Man - Study Guide
Matthew 24:29-31: The Sign of the Son of Man

Matthew 24:15-28 The Warning of Peril, Part 1

Matthew 24:15-28 The Warning of Peril, Part 2
Matthew 24:15-28 Showdown in Jerusalem: Rise & Fall of the Antichrist
Matthew 24:3-15; 21-31 The Signs of His Coming
Matthew 24:21 Countdown to the Millennium: The Tribulation
Matthew 24:15-22 The Worship of Man
Matthew 24:21-22 When the Dam Breaks
Matthew 24 The Signs of the End of the Age
Matthew 24:15-31 Signs of the End of the Age

Matthew 24:15-44 The Last Days
Matthew - Part 1 Matthew - Part 2

Ray Stedman...

This is followed by a section in chapters 24 and 25, where we have instructions to individuals again. This is what we call the Olivet discourse -- instructions to the believing remnant on what to do until he comes again. It reveals how world history is going to shape up; what will happen in the intervening years; what forces will be loosed upon the earth; how the forces of darkness are going to take God's own people and test them, try them, and shake their foundations. He declares that they can only stand as they learn to reckon upon the inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit. (The Message of Matthew BEHOLD YOUR KING!)


Brian Bell...

This section is definitely speaking to the Jews: [Listen for key words like Judea; people on the house tops(Definitely cultural); their concerned w/breaking the Sab. - Also, in the Prophecy concerning it(vs.15) “your people, your Holy City”]

Jesus speaks here of a “Triple Decker” Prophecy - [1] Historic/Antiochus Epiphanes [2] Near Future/Titus [3] Still Future/Anti-Christ.
Historic - Dan.11:31
In 198 bc Judea was conquered by Antiochus III the Great, & was annexed to Syria. The land was divided into 5 provinces that are familiar to N.T. readers (Galilee, Samaria, Judea, Trachonitas, & Perea)
The Jews were able to regulate there lives under a High Priest
Then Antiochus IV(Syrian king) took over. - He was enraged by the Jews because he found out they weren’t Worshiping him as God(he thought he was Zeus incarnate)! - He ordered the Dest. of Jer.
On a single day 100,000 Jewish men were slaughtered, their women raped, & their city looted.
In 168 bc Antiochus entered the Temple himself, butchered a pig on the altar, forced the Priests to drink its blood & eat the raw pork, then smeared the remainder of the blood on the temple walls. {It was Abominable & it left the people Desolate!}
Near Future - Lk.21:20-24 “The Dest. of Jer. is foretold”.
Titus in 70 A.D. - Read Josephus (Titus hatred for the Jews)
Read details in 1st Mac.(good historical record/not Canonical)
Still Future - Dan.9:27; 12:11
Anti-Christ in the middle of the Trib.

A C Gaebelein...

We have learned then that the events predicted by our Lord up to the fourteenth verse fall into the beginning of the ending of the Jewish age, the seven prophetic years; with the fifteenth verse we reach the middle of this period, three years and a half are passed and the second half with its mighty events culminating in the personal and visible manifestation of the Son of Man out of heaven is now described. With the second half of these seven years, the last 1,260 days, the great tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble, is fully developed. We shall find as we advance that not alone the interpretation we have laid down for this chapter is the right one, but that no other one is possible; all expositions, which claim a fulfilment of these words of our Lord in the past, or which apply these events to the church period, must be rejected as incorrect. Let us read the words of our Lord beginning at the fifteenth verse.

Our Lord gives us a most important hint on what He means by these words, by mentioning the Prophet Daniel. Then furthermore, the Holy Spirit adds through Matthew a word of exhortation, which calls special attention to the Lord's reference to Daniel, the prophet. The Holy Spirit saith, "He that reads let him understand"; or, as it might be put, "Consider so as to understand." It will, therefore, not do for us to hurry over this word of our Lord, to which the Holy Spirit calls our special attention, which He the great interpreter of the Word of God wants us to consider and to understand fully.

We must, therefore, turn first of all to the Prophet Daniel. Does he mention anything in his great prophecies about a future abomination and where do we find these passages? He does in three places.

"And he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and because of the protection of the abominations there shall be a desolator, even until that the consumption and what is determined shall be poured out upon the desolate" (Daniel 9:27).

"And forces shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, the fortress, and shall take away the continual sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate" (11:31).

"And from the time that the continual sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days" (12:11).

There can be no doubt that the Lord refers to these three passages in Daniel, and it is of that abomination mentioned in these passages of which He speaks. These three verses in Daniel refer all to the same period of time; this period is three years and a half. The same space of time is mentioned in Daniel 7:25. "And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws, and they shall be given into his hands, until a time and times and the dividing of time" (which makes three and a half). Then in Daniel 10:7 we have it mentioned again.... "It shall be for a time, times and a half, and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." When later in the course of this exposition we come to the book of Revelation we shall discover the same period of time there.

It is not our purpose to enter fully into Daniel's great prophecies. To do this would lead us too far and prolong our exposition. The most important passage of the three we have quoted, is the one from the ninth chapter; as the others treat of the same period, we shall not consider these (Dan. 11:31 and 12:11) at all. The ninth chapter in that prophetic book contains the prayer of Daniel and the wonderful answer he received. He was meditating on the Word of the Lord as it came to Jeremiah the prophet, when he turned to the Lord in prayer. This seems to us is the true and perfect way of turning to God in prayer. First communion with God through the written Word, His revelation, and then to seek His face. He was occupied in his prayer with the years of captivity. The man Gabriel appears, he came flying swiftly to assure him that he was greatly beloved and to give him the answer to his prayer. The answer is a revelation relating to seventy-year weeks, that is seven times seventy; a period of time which was to come.

We take it for granted that our readers are delivered from the old, superficial and erroneous interpretation, which looks upon Daniel 9:24-27 as having been completely fulfilled with the death of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus. It is strange that the clear division of these seventy weeks has been so much ignored. (To our readers who are unsettled on the interpretation of this most important prophecy, or who desire a real good work on Daniel 9, we recommend Sir R. Anderson's most excellent work, "The Coming Prince." It is most helpful, clearly written and sound. See also "The Great Parenthesis" by Ironside.)

The 24th verse in Daniel 9 is the prophecy stated in a general way. "Seventy weeks are apportioned out upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to close the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make expiation for iniquity, and to bring in the righteousness of ages, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Holy of Holies." Seventy sevens, as it is in the Hebrew, make 490. This space of time is, so Gabriel declared, apportioned out, for the people of Israel and Jerusalem, and at the close of it the full blessing of Israel will come to pass; the righteousness of ages, undoubtedly refers to the kingdom age, the millennium. So in a general way the whole prophecy of seventy-year weeks is given and what shall be accomplished in them and at the close of them for the people Israel and for Jerusalem. But now as we read on we find a division of these seventy weeks. First: Seven weeks; secondly: Sixty-two weeks; thirdly: One week. What does this division mean? We are not left to speculation, for the Word makes it plain. "Know, therefore, and understand: From the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince, are seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. The street and the moat shall be built again, even in troublesome times. And after sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with an overflow, and unto the end war, the desolation determined (verses 25-26)." The first seven weeks, that is 49 years, is the period of time which elapsed from the giving of the command to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls till this was accomplished. The commission to restore and build Jerusalem was given to Nehemiah by Artaxerxes in his twentieth year. The sixty-two weeks is the period of time from the complete restoration of the city and the walls till Messiah is cut off, that is the death of Christ, and there is nothing for Him. His own people reject Him and then in consequence of that rejection, the city and the sanctuary is to be destroyed by the people of the prince, that shall come. Wars and desolations, persecutions and troubles, bloodshed and sufferings, was to be the lot of the Jewish people after the rejection of the Messiah, a prophecy stated not only here but throughout the prophetic Word and so solemnly come true for well nigh two thousand years. The people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary were Romans. But now we have one week left. Of this last week we read in the last verse of Daniel 9, the verse in which the abomination is mentioned, to which our Lord and the Holy Spirit calls attention. This week, or seven years, is the end. It is a week, a period of time still future. With the 69th week Messiah was cut off, He had nothing; His people had rejected Him and the offered kingdom; an indefinite period follows, during which the Jews are outcasts, scattered into the corners of the earth, Jerusalem trodden down by the Gentiles. It is the present age in which we live, in which God's gracious offer of free and full salvation for the gathering out of a people for His Name (the church) is preached. How soon this may end no one knows. It will end at some time and then Jewish history from a prophetic standpoint will be resumed, the Jewish age will close to be followed by the kingdom or millennial age, when the righteousness of the ages will come in.

And what then is to take place in that last week, in the coming seven years, that very time which was indicated in the question of the disciples when they asked about "the end of the age" and which the Lord describes in this part of His discourse? We say again it seems strange that so many learned men should be so superficial in expounding the Word of God. How true it is, many of these things are hid from the wise and the prudent; and they are revealed unto babes. Thus many have not alone made no distinction of the division of the weeks as given in the text, but they have not distinguished between the two princes mentioned in these verses. The one Prince is Messiah, the other prince is a counterfeit, the false prince. It is claimed by this incorrect interpretation that the prince who confirms the covenant with the many for one week is Christ. But the one of whom the 27th verse speaks is not Messiah the Prince, but "the prince who shall come." It is that wicked head of the Roman empire in its last revived form of whom we read in different parts in prophecy. The Roman power had come upon the land and destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple. This was prophetically stated in verse 26; but it does not say that "the prince shall come to destroy the city," but the people of the prince "that shall come," in other words, the Roman power destroyed the city and from that power a prince is to emanate in the future. Up to now this prince has not yet appeared; when he comes he will be the leader of the confederacy of the nations, who inhabit the territory of the Roman empire, a mighty man who is under the control and inspiration of Satan. Perhaps Napoleon I is the nearest photograph the world has.seen of that prince who shall come. It would be most interesting to follow all this in detail, but we are not writing on Daniel or the false king and the antichrist, but on Matthew 24, and so we can only give the most simple facts so as to make the chapter as clear as possible. Now when this prince, the head of the revived Roman empire, appears, he will make a covenant with the Jews. His covenant will be for one week, that is for seven years. It is interesting to notice that the covenant will be made with "the many," not with all, for the believing Jewish remnant will know the true personality of the wicked prince and refuse to enter into that covenant. What this covenant will be we do not follow now. Suffice it to say that it will be undoubtedly of a political nature and connected with the resettlement of the Jews in Palestine, the rebuilding of the temple and the institution of their worship by sacrifices. Zionism, the great restoration movement of the Jews in unbelief, sheds a flood of light on these coming events. If Zionists were ready to herald the Sultan as their deliverer, should he allow them the practical carrying out of their program, how much more will they be willing to accept an agreement with that mighty prince, who is to come. This covenant will be effected in the beginning of the week (seven years) and all will run smoothly for a while. But in the middle of the week he will unmask himself and in conjunction with that other wicked one, the man of sin, the son of perdition, the personal antichrist, he will break the covenant and cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. In its place he will set up the abomination (Dan. 11:31). What then is this abomination? It will be idolatrous worship. The 13th chapter in the book of Revelation gives us more light on this abomination of the last three years and a half of the Jewish age ending. We shall turn to this chapter at once. However, before we do so we wish to say that to our mind the argument is complete. The seventy weeks have to do exclusively with the Jewish people. The first seven weeks, the sixty-two weeks and the last, the seventieth. It is impossible to find a place for the church in this prophecy. Her place is in the unreckoned period between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week. She does not belong, nor a part of the church, into the last week.

John Calvin mistakenly (in my opinion) interprets the abomination of desolation as the "destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, together with the overthrow of the whole Jewish government" (Commentary on Matthew) Calvin makes the mistake that so many of the "older" commentaries make, that is to replace ethnic and national Israel with the church, writing for example that "The calamity of the Church shall last through a time, times, and half a time, (Da 7:25.)".  To place the "church" in the Old Testament is a serious hermeneutical mistake that leads to complete misinterpretation of the literal meaning of the great prophecies in Daniel 7.

Three Critical Exegetical Issues In Matthew 24: A Dispensational Interpretation -- Neil D. Nelson Jr., Ph.D.  (Journal of Dispensational Theology - Volume 11:33 Aug 2007)

Jesus prophesied what the future would involve and prepared His disciples and those who would follow in their example to understand and to face future events and difficulties forewarned and forearmed. He prepared them for ongoing faithfulness to Christ, His people, and His commission while they awaited His return. The disciples with their heads clouded by ambitions of immediate glory (e.g., Mt 18:1; 20:20-28; cf. Lk 19:11; Acts 1:6) desired a definitive pronouncement which would give them the signs and times for which they were looking (Mt 24:3). Jesus did not give them an apocalypse that would enable them to see where they were on the end-time timetable and how close they were to the end of history. He gave them what they needed to know to face a future fraught with adversity and to accomplish a successful mission to the nations. He united predictions of the future with exhortations concerning the conduct required of faithful and wise followers.

The importance of the Olivet Discourse as his Farewell Sermon and great prophetic teaching makes sound interpretation of the discourse imperative. However, as Wilkins wrote: “Jesus’ predictions in this discourse have produced an almost dizzying array of interpretations.”5

The Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24—25 contains the fullest record of the Lord’s prophetic teaching during His earthly ministry. Each of the five great discourses (or sermons) by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (chs. 5—7, 10, 13, 18, 24—25) are of utmost significance to His followers, but the Olivet Discourse is given a unique importance since Matthew added the word “all” to the formula at its conclusion by which he ends each discourse.1 The end of the discourse reads: “When Jesus had finished all these sayings.. . .” (Matt 26:1 ESV). 2 In other words, it is the culmination of the great blocks of teaching in Matthew. Indeed, it is Jesus’ Farewell Discourse or Testament in Matthew’s Gospel.3

Jesus, like biblical leaders before Him, such as Jacob (Gen 47:29-49:33), Moses (Deut 31:1—34:38), Joshua (Josh 23:1-24:30), Samuel (1 Sam 12:1–25), and David (1 Chron 28—29), near to the occasion of His death prepared His followers to face the future without His physical presence. Farewell discourses usually contain warnings concerning false teachers (Matt 24:4, 5, 11, 23–26; cf. Acts 20:17–18; 2 Tim 2:16–18; 3:1–8; 2 Pet 2:1–22; 3:16–17),4 appeals to remain faithful and to exercise loving behavior toward one another (Matt 24:4–14, 36–51; 25:1–30; cf. 2 Tim 1:13–14; 3:14–17; 2 Pet 1:5–12; 3:14–15), predictions of woes and tribulations (Matt 24:4–13, 15–28), warnings of judgment against those who persecute his followers or who do not carry out his commands (Matt 24:38–51; 25:11–13, 24–30, 41–46), and blessings to come to faithful followers (Matt 24:31, 33; 25:10, 20–23, 34–40, 46b).

Jesus prophesied what the future would involve and prepared His disciples and those who would follow in their example to understand and to face future events and difficulties forewarned and forearmed. He prepared them for ongoing faithfulness to Christ, His people, and His commission while they awaited His return. The disciples with their heads clouded by ambitions of immediate glory (e.g., Matt 18:1; 20:20–28; cf. Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6) desired a definitive pronouncement which would give them the signs and times for which they were looking (Matt 24:3). Jesus did not give them an apocalypse that would enable them to see where they were on the end-time timetable and how close they were to the end of history. He gave them what they needed to know to face a future fraught with adversity and to accomplish a successful mission to the nations. He united predictions of the future with exhortations concerning the conduct required of faithful and wise followers.

The importance of the Olivet Discourse as his Farewell Sermon and great prophetic teaching makes sound interpretation of the discourse imperative. However, as Wilkins wrote: “Jesus’ predictions in this discourse have produced an almost dizzying array of interpretations.”5 This study will deal with three crucial interpretive issues in Matthew 24, showing the strength of a futuristic dispensational interpretation in comparison with other schools and varieties of interpretation.6 The interpretive issues which will be covered are: 1) The identification and timing of the events in Matthew 24:15–31; 2) The referent of “this generation” in Matthew 24:34; and, 3) Whether “one is taken, one is left” in Matthew 24:40–41 refers to the rapture or to the second coming.

Are The Abomination That Causes Desolation, The Greatest Tribulation, And The Coming Of The Son Of Man Past Or Future Events?

Turner helpfully divided approaches of evangelical interpreters into four classifications based on how much of the discourse they assign to the AD 70 fall of Jerusalem and the Temple, and how much they assign to the end of the age.7 Preterist or historical interpreters believe Matthew 24:1–35 was fulfilled in the first century, especially in the judgment of God upon Jerusalem. While moderate preterists tend to believe that Matthew 24:36–25:46 discusses the end of the age and the second coming,8 full or extreme preterists believe that all the events in the discourse were fulfilled at the fall of Jerusalem and even the second coming, resurrection, and final judgment are all past events. Futurist interpreters, while differing as to whether Matthew 24:4–14 refers to the interadvent age, or wholly or partly to a future “great tribulation” period immediately before the end,9 assign all of 24:15–41 to the future. There are two types of mediating positions, the traditional and the revised preterist-futurist positions. The traditional preterist-futurist position understands 24:15–26 as a “double reference” prophecy referring in a perspective common to biblical prophecy in the near view to the events of AD 70 and in the far view to the end of the age.10 The revised preterist-futurist view of Carson sees AD 70 as the subject of 24:15–21 and the church age being addressed in 24:22–28.11

Preterists And The Parousia

There are significant problems with the preterist and preterist-futurist views of Matt 24:15–31. For example, the view of preterists like France, Garland, and Sproul is that “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 must refer to Jesus’ contemporaries who experienced “all these things” (24:33–34) including “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (24:30b). To protect the veracity of the Lord and the authority of Scripture to a coming in judgment on Jerusalem in AD 70.12 However, in the context of the discourse this then mandates that Matthew 24:27–31 refers not to the second coming, but rather words like παρουσία (“coming,” 24:27), ἐρχόμενον (“coming,” 24:30), and δόξης (“glory,” 24:30) likely refer to the second coming of Christ. Παρουσία is used in Matthew 24:37, 39 (“the coming of the Son of man”),13 which are verses these moderate preterist interpreters take to refer to the future return of Christ.14 To see παρουσία in Matthew 24:27 as a symbolic or spiritual coming of the Lord would be to use the word in a way unprecedented in Matthew and in the entire New Testament.15 Forms of the verb ἔρχομαι (“come”) which is used in Matthew 24:27, are used throughout the rest of the discourse in passages that clearly speak of the second coming (24:42, “your Lord is coming”; 24:44, “the Son of Man is coming”; 24:46, “when he comes”; 25:10, “the bridegroom came”; 25:19, “the master of those servants came”; 25:27, “at my coming”; and, 25:31, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory”). In Matthew 25:31, the word “glory” is used twice (δόξῃ, δόξης) of the Lord’s glorious presence at His second coming.

The coming of the Son of Man with His angels to divide humanity at the future judgment accompanying the second coming is emphasized previously in the kingdom parable in Matthew 13:41 (cf. 13:49) and later in Matthew 25:31 (cf. 24:44; 26:64).16 The reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked at the second coming, in fact, is a major theme throughout the rest of the Olivet Discourse (cf. 24:40–44, 45–51; 25:1–13, 1430, 31–46). That is the same event spoken of in Matthew 24:27–31.

The event described in Matthew 24:27–31 is also both universal and unmistakably visible to all on earth, which was not the case in the local judgment which befell Jerusalem in the first century. There is a very strong emphasis here on the universal visibility of the coming of the Son of Man (24:27, “for as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”; 24:30, “then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”) in contrast with repeated warnings concerning deceptive reports of a secret coming (24:23–26). This coming judgment causes all the tribes of the earth to mourn since Jesus’ return means judgment.17 It also means that the elect throughout the globe in 24:31 (who are dispersed so widely because they have been obedient to the Lord’s commission cf. 24:14; 28:19–20) will be gathered by the Lord’s angels to enter into the kingdom, eternal life, and the joy of the master (cf. 25:21, 23, 34, 46).18 Only a physical return of the Lord in total judgment satisfies the language in 24:27–31. The use of Daniel 7:13–14 in Matthew 24:30, where one like a son of man comes with the clouds of heaven and receives authority over all the nations from the ancient of Days, also signals that Matthew 24:29–31 is speaking of the future return of Christ. In Daniel 7, God passed judgment on the four kingdoms that dominate the earth and gives all authority to one like a son of man (Dan 7:13–14). His kingdom will be over all the earth and He will reign forever.

The Abomination And The Great(Est) Tribulation

There are several events or references in Matthew 24:15–28 which do not fit an AD 70 fulfillment. Matthew declares that the abomination comes first, followed by the great tribulation and flight. The abomination causes desolation.19 However, in the siege of Titus in AD 70, the tribulation preceded the abomination. In Daniel, the abomination is always linked to the Temple. The abomination of desolation takes place “in the holy place”; that is, in the Temple. However, when the Romans entered the Temple with their standards, it was too late to escape and for flight into the mountains.20

The phrase “abomination that causes desolation” comes from the book of Daniel (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; cf. 8:13). Abomination (βδέλυγμα) refers to “what defiles a sacred place and causes it to be left desolate.”21 While originally it referred to the act of Antiochus Epiphanes IV (who in 167 BC outlawed Jewish religious practices, slaughtered swine on a temple altar devoted to Olympian Zeus, and then destroyed much of the Temple precincts and the city of Jerusalem, Dan 8:13; 11:31; 1 Macc 1:54, 59; 4:38; 6:7; 2 Macc 8:17), Jesus by His words in Matthew 24:15 (“when you see. . .”) foresaw a yet future fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy shortly before the end of the age. The Danielic reference in Matthew 24:15, points the reader to Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 which look at the consummation and the end of the age.22 Daniel 12:2–3, 11, 13 speaks of the time of the end and the resurrection of the righteous. Daniel 9:27 speaks of Daniel’s seventieth week and a future figure who will establish himself as God in the Temple in the middle of the seven years which precede Christ’s Second Advent.23

Further, AD 70 was not “great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be (24:21).” Though Josephus reported terrible atrocities, the tribulation Jesus was predicting here must be greater than the devastation caused by the universal flood in Noah’s day to which Jesus in context directly compared the events of the end (24:37–39).24 Matthew 24:22 says, “if those days had not been shortened, no human being (flesh) would be saved.” Πᾶσα σάρξ (“all flesh”) is a technical term referring to all humanity nine times in the New Testament (Matt 24:22; Mark 13:20; Luke 3:6; John 17:2; Acts 2:17; Rom 3:20; 1 Cor 1:29; Gal 2:2–6; 1 Pet 1:24).25 “All flesh” here is not limited to Jews who died in Judea in the first century; rather it implies that all humanity would be extinguished in the future “great tribulation” as happened at the flood (except for Noah and his family), if not for God’s intervention for the sake of His elect. Jesus here was speaking of an event much worse than AD 70.

A final proof that Matthew 24:15–28 speaks of the great tribulation of the future, rather than of a first century event is in Matthew’s use of the words “cut short” in Matthew 24:22 and “immediately” in 24:29.26 Carson, because of the word “immediately” understood Matthew 24:22–28 to refer to the entire interadvent period of the tribulation now stretching almost 2, 000 years. But then “immediately,” seems to have lost all meaning and effect and it is hard to see how God has “cut short” or limited the days (24:22). Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened. .. then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven” (24:29–30). This means that immediately after the great and unparalleled tribulation described in Matthew 24:21–26, the second coming will occur. The words εὐθύς or εὐθέως (“immediately”) in all 18 occurrences in Matthew mean “immediately,” “at once,” “without delay,” or “instantaneously.” The word means the same thing here in this context.27 Futurists have no difficulty in seeing the parousia immediately after the future abomination that causes desolation and the great tribulation. This unparalleled tribulation will last about three and a half years according to Daniel 9:27; 12:7, 11; Revelation 11:3; 12:6, 14. God “cut short” the days by limiting them to 1,260 days (Rev 11:3). Preterists who use Matthew’s “immediately” in 24:29 to tie the siege of Jerusalem to a symbolic “parousia” of Christ in a temporal judgment on Jerusalem err because “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (24:29) refers back to “those days” (24:22) of the future great tribulation. Preterist-futurists who stretch the tribulation to include the whole interadvent age rob the words “immediately” and “cut short” of their plain meaning in Matthew.28

The futurist interpretation of Matthew 24:15–28, the view of most dispensational interpreters, best explains this important section of Jesus’ sermon. The combination of the temporal and inferential conjunctions “therefore when” which begin Matthew 24:15–28 signal a shift29 to the important topic of a major event prophesied in Daniel 9:27 and 12:1–12, the still future event when Antichrist erects his image in the Temple to be worshipped, which in turn commences the never to be equaled “great tribulation,” which lasts three and one half years. God cuts this tribulation short for the sake of His elect. The tribulation then ends immediately as Christ comes in His full glory to judge the nations and to gather His elect, that is tribulation saints, into His kingdom.30

The Identity Of “This Generation” In Matthew 24:34: What Kind Of People Do Not Pass Away Until All These Things Take Place?

View #1: Contemporaries Of Jesus Witness The Second Coming

Perhaps the most difficult phrase to interpret in the entire Olivet Discourse is “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34).31 Some interpreters have concluded Jesus taught (erroneously it ends) that His contemporaries would be alive at His Second Advent.32 The most decided criticism of this interpretation is that it makes Jesus a false prophet and the church perpetuated this error when it continued to pass on these words after the disciples had died.33 However, Jesus (in Matthew’s Gospel) is portrayed as one who is absolutely true and who teaches the way of God truthfully (Matt 22:16). In Matthew 24:35, the verse immediately following, Jesus pledged His truthfulness on this prediction and everything else in the discourse when He said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Jesus’ prophecies, including that of 24:34 are more dependable than the universe itself. Further, in Matthew 24:36 Jesus strongly affirmed: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” How could Jesus on the one hand assert that His own contemporary generation would see the fulfillment of all His prophecy and then assert just two verses later that no human, not even He, could know the time of fulfillment?34

View #2: Contemporaries Of Jesus Witness The Coming Of Jesus In AD 70

The preterist interpretation of this phrase and Matthew 24 in general is a reaction to the interpretation of the first view. Their view is that Jesus’ contemporaries will not pass away until they see all the things of Matthew 24:4–31, but “all these things” must therefore be restricted to the events of AD 70.35 However, “all these things” in Matthew 24:34, as previously demonstrated, include the future abomination that causes desolation, the future great tribulation, and the second coming itself.36

View #3: Contemporaries Of Jesus Witness The Beginning Of End Time Events

Another view takes the verb “take place” in 24:34 (γένηται) as an ingressive aorist, which would produce the meaning “this generation will not pass away until all these things begin to take place.”37 This view is unlikely for several reasons. First it ignores the comprehensive nature of the word “all.” To impose a limitation on the words “before all these things take place” really makes Jesus say: “before some of these things take place.”38 “All” has a naturally comprehensive force throughout the discourse (24:2, 8, 9, 14, 22, 30, 33, 34, 47; 25:5, 7, 29, 31, 32). Also, not all these things begin to happen by AD 70. The future abomination (24:15), great tribulation (24:21–22), and the second coming (24:27–31) do not begin to take place during the lifetime of Jesus’ contemporaries. Moreover, the aorist subjunctive γένηται is much more likely a consummative aorist in light of the prophetic nature of Jesus’ statement.39 In Matthew 5:18, a verse with a very similar phraseology, γένηται is certainly a consummative aorist. The verb γίνομαι is used of consummated events in 24:6, 20, 21 [2x], and 32.40

View #4: This Generation Is Israel As A Race

An old view abandoned today by many dispensational interpreters is that “this generation” in Matt 24:34 refers to Israel as a race.41 However, while 24:34 implies that “this generation” will pass away after the events of 24:4–28 occur, Matthew envisioned a mission to Israel until the parousia (10:23), a conversion of Israel before the second coming (23:39; cf. Rom 9—11; Isa 66:22; Zech 8, 13–14), and the presence of Israel in the kingdom (Matt 19:28).42 In other words, Israel in contrast will not pass away when “all these things take place.” The word “until” (ἕως) means “up to the point at which and no farther” here, implying “this generation” (unlike Israel) will “pass away” in judgment at the second coming of Christ.43 Also the fig tree in the parable of Matthew 24:32–35 is not a type of Israel. Jesus instead used it to make a straightforward analogy.44 Just as the budding fig tree inevitably results in a harvest of figs, so the events of 24:4–25 will inevitably usher in the judgment of the Son of Man at His coming. “This generation” will pass away in judgment when Christ returns, but Matthew extends the promise that Israel will be preserved and will enter into the kingdom.

View #5: This Generation Is An Evil Kind Of People Who Oppose Christ And His Messengers
A fifth view, which is an old dispensational view and at the same time relatively new in current dispensational circles takes seriously both the Old Testament background of the word γενεά (“generation,” דור in the Hebrew OT) and how “this generation” (ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη) is characterized throughout Matthew and the rest of the New Testament ῾Η γενεὰ αὕτη in Matthew 24:34 describes unbelieving, rejecting humanity, unresponsive to God’s messengers, and headed toward eschatological judgment.45 John Nelson Darby, the acknowledged father and developer of dispensational premillennialism, made the point over a century and a half ago that ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη in Matthew 24:34 refers to an evil type of people. He wrote:

The difficulty as to “this generation shall not pass away” is a prejudice flowing from the English use of the word “generation.” It is quite as much used for a moral class in scripture, as for the period marked by human life; and if Deuteronomy 32:5, 20 (where this very subject is treated of) be referred to, the sense is plain.46

Again Darby commented:

As to the generation not passing away, a reference to Deuteronomy 32:5, 20, will give the plain and sure sense of it, and that in reference to this very subject [the Lord’s coming]. The mere common use of the word is a class of persons, as, the generation of the wicked, not the period of a man’s life.47

The primary Old Testament background for Jesus’ reference to ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη here is in the Old Testament descriptions of the rebellious Israelites during their wanderings in the wilderness (cf. Numb 32:13; Deut 2:14; Ps 12:7; 78:8; 95:10).48 Adjectives such as “evil,” “perverse,” “adulterous” and “faithless” used by Jesus to characterize “this generation” (Matt 12:39, 45; 16:4; 17:17) come from the Song of Moses (Deut 32:5, 20). Culver noted that the Hebrew word דור (“generation”) “is used widely to indicate a class of men distinguished by a certain moral or spiritual character,” such as in the phrase “generation of the righteous” or “generation of the wicked.” He said this metaphorical (non-chronological) use of the word is theologically the most significant use of דור in the Old Testament and becomes the basis of Jesus’ use of γενεα. (“generation”) in the Gospels.49

Psalm 12:7 (11:8 LXX) uses the exact phrase ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη and says: “You, O Lord, will keep them [LXX “us”]; You will preserve him [i.e., the godly man] from ‘this generation’ forever.” “This generation” is described in this context as lying, boastful, proud, violent, and wicked. The godly do not belong to this generation, though they live among these evil people of their age (cf. Acts 2:40; Phil 2:15). Matthew seems to have juxtaposed the phrase “this generation” in 24:34 with his account of the days of Noah (24:37–39), an explicit type of the coming of the Son of Man. This seems to be a purposeful echo of Genesis 7:1 where Noah is described as the sole righteous man in “this generation” (τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ), which is described as wicked, violent, corrupt, and self-absorbed in Genesis 6:5–11. Noah, like the godly man in Psalm 12, lived among, but did not belong to “this generation.”

A study of the use of ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη (Matt 11:16; 12:41, 42, 45; 23:36; 24:34) and γενεά with other descriptive adjectives (12:39, 45; 16:4; 17:17) used in the same sense, reveals that the kind of people identified with the words “this generation” are characterized as those who reject Jesus and His messengers and the salvific message they preach, who remain unbelieving and unrepentant, who actively test and persecute Jesus and His messengers, and who will face eschatological judgment. The pejorative adjectives given to “this generation” (evil, adulterous, faithless, perverse) throughout the Gospel are qualities that distinguish between those who are subjects of the kingdom and those who are not.

The use of “this generation” in Matthew 23:36 directly before the Olivet Discourse is particularly instructive. There Jesus’ prophetic condemnation falls on “this generation” both for murdering the righteous men of the Old Testament (23:29–31, 35) from the beginning of the Hebrew canon (Abel) until the end (Zechariah in the last book of the Hebrew Bible, 2 Chronicles; note Jesus says: “whom you murdered”) and for scourging, and killing, and crucifying “prophets, and wise men, and scribes” (i.e., His disciples; cf. Matt 5:12; 7:24; 10:41; 13:52) all the way until the second coming. The contemporaries of Jesus did not murder Zechariah (23:35–36), nor will they murder Jesus’ disciples until the end of the age. Therefore the phrase “this generation” here and in 24:34 extends beyond Jesus’ contemporaries to also include the murderers of God’s servants in the Old Testament and forward to those who will persecute disciples until Jesus’ return (23:39). Since the persecution extends until the Son of Man comes (10:23; 23:34; 24:9–14, 15–26), the judgment also does not fall until that time.

The reader of Matthew 24:34 should therefore interpret ἡ γενεὰ αὕ τη (“this generation”) in the same way it has been consistently used throughout Matthew, as a kind of people who reject Jesus, who remain hostile to Jesus’ disciples, who are blind to the signs of His coming, and who remain opponents of the Gospel and its messengers until the end. Then finally they “will pass away” at the judgment when Christ returns.50 In the context of Matthew’s Gospel, the disciple is not above his teacher, nor is the servant above his master (10:24–25). The obedience of Christ in the midst of “an evil and perverse generation” as He endured its hostility and obstinate unbelief, becomes then the pattern for his disciples.51 The Lord’s teaching in Matthew 24:32–35 is that the followers of Christ will continue to endure the persecution and opposition of “this generation.” This sinful class of opponents of Christ and his messengers will continue to be present directly until the coming of the Son of Man. However, saints have the sure hope, based on Christ’s word (24:35) that Jesus as Son of Man will come and gather them into His kingdom and vindicate them by judging “this generation.” Just as Christ suffered, so will disciples in this age. Just as Christ was subsequently glorified, so they will “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (25:34).

View #6: This Generation Is All The People Alive At The End

A final view, held by several dispensationalists is that “this generation” refers to all the people who are alive when Jesus returns.52 This view says that the end-time generation will see the completion of the end-time signs. It seems somewhat tautologous to say that the last generation will not pass away until the end-time events conclude. Jesus hardly needed to state this sort of truism. However, the emphasis in this interpretation is that when the end comes, it comes quickly. The generation that experiences the great tribulation will also witness the end.53

The major problem with this view is that it ignores the negative force of ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη (“this generation”) throughout the New Testament and Matthew in particular and the moral use of the phrase in the Old Testament. The negative connotation of the phrase as referring to ungodly people united in their opposition to God’s messengers is found in all previous uses of ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη (Matt 11:16; 12:39, 41, 42, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36). The reader of the Gospel would naturally understand the phrase to have the same connotation in Matthew 24:34.

This view also ignores the implication that “this generation” will “pass away” at the second coming. Only the wicked belong to this type of people. This evil generation will be “swept away” in judgment and put into hell (24:39, 51). The righteous in contrast will inherit the kingdom and enter into eternal life in the presence of the Son (25:20–23, 34, 36). Therefore, “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 refers to an evil and faithless people guilty of resisting the messengers and the message of Christ. This view best aligns with the use of the phrase throughout Matthew and the purpose of Jesus in the discourse and the Gospel to prepare the disciples to endure the rejection of unresponsive humanity as they obediently serve Christ and others and thus ready themselves for the Lord’s glorious return.

One Taken, One Left: Does This Refer To The Rapture Or To The Second Coming?

The language “one is taken and one is left” in Matthew 24:40, 41 suggests to some that the Rapture of the church is being addressed.54 However, the only future coming of the Son of Man described in the discourse is the glorious and universally visible return of Christ (24:3, 27–31; cf. 24:14, 33, 50–51; 25:1–13, 14–30, 31–46). The language of 24:27–41 does not suggest that a different event is now addressed.55 Matthew 24:40–41 occurs in the context of judgment. The future time of judgment at the second coming is compared with the day when Noah entered the ark and “the flood came and swept them all away” (24:39). The day of judgment, concerning which no one but the Father knows the timing, parallels the sudden judgment and loss of life of the unresponsive in Noah’s time. As the wicked were “swept away” in that day, so the world will “pass away” (24:34) at the future arrival of the Son of Man. This universal judgment is that of the second coming, not a pretribulational rapture. The parallel passage in Luke 17:26–37 makes it especially clear that the reference is to the judgment at the second coming. That passage after mentioning the destruction brought by the flood and the fire and sulphur raining upon Sodom, mentions that “one will be taken, and the other left” (Luke 17:35). When the disciples ask Jesus, “Where, Lord?” He responds with a grisly image of the gathering of vultures (17:37).56

The synonyms ἦρεν (“taken away” or “swept away,” 24:39 from αἴρω) and παραλαμβάνεται (“taken,” 24:40–41 from παραλαμβάνω) seem here to stand for analogous concepts. Just as the entire generation of the flood was “taken away” in the cataclysm of Genesis, so “this generation” in its entirety will be “taken” in the judgment of the parousia. The thoughts are parallel, not contrastive. The difference in verbs may be due to precision of description (“swept away” ESV is an apt translation of ἦρεν in relation to the flood) or to stylistic variation. If “taken” in 24:40–41 means being taken in judgment, this eliminates reference here to the rapture, that is, being caught to meet the Lord in the air. However, granting that the reference in 24:36–44 is to the second coming, the point then becomes virtually moot as to whether “taken” in 24:40–41 means gathered to meet the Lord (cf. 24:31) or taken in judgment (cf. 24:39). The essential point is that a permanent separation of humanity occurs at the second coming with the righteous being taken into the kingdom and the unrighteous being taken in judgment.57

This study has presented a futuristic, dispensational view of three important exegetical issues in Matthew 24. The evidence derived from a careful study of the Olivet Discourse in the context of Matthew’s Gospel suggests that both the preterist and the preterist-futurist views of Jesus’ teaching about the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation of Matthew 25:15–26 are incorrect; neither event occurred in AD 70. The abomination that causes desolation is a yet future event near the end of the age in which the image of the Antichrist is erected in the Temple and Antichrist himself is worshipped as God. This is the meaning of Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 (also indicated in 2 Thess 2:1–12; Mark 13:14; Rev 13:1–18). The great tribulation is also a yet future event which is of such severity that it exceeds the devastation of the universal flood in the days of Noah. All humanity would perish in this tribulation except for the intervention of God on behalf of tribulation saints. This greatest of all tribulations occurs “immediately” before the second coming of Christ.

The preterist view that equates “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (24:30) with his symbolic coming in the judgment of AD 70 is also in error; rather this is the literal, visible coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in His full glory and power. The use of the vocabulary to describe His coming elsewhere in Matthew and in the Olivet Discourse itself, and the stress on the universal visibility of the parousia should assure believers of the validity of Jesus’ own precious and great description of his Second coming.

A study of “this generation” as used in Matthew and in its Old Testament background shows that it speaks of a wicked kind of people through the ages who are steadfastly opposed to the messengers of God and who are described as faithless, evil, perverse, and adulterous. Jesus did not promise His saints a future mission free from difficulties. Indeed, the Olivet Discourse is full of predictions of tribulation and opposition. In the Parable of the Fig Tree (Matt 24:32–35) Jesus affirmed that his followers will experience the difficulties mentioned in Matthew 24, but that as they see Jesus’ predictions come to past they may be assured “that he is near, at the very gates” (24:33). They will face opposition from the same sort of evil people who opposed the prophets and Jesus before them, but when all these things take place, “this generation” which is evil, will “pass away.” Then the faithful servants of Jesus (24:45–47) will be vindicated and they will enter into the kingdom and the joy of their master.

Finally, Matthew 24:40–41 does not speak of a pre tribulation Rapture. The rapture is not the subject of the Olivet Discourse, but the second coming is. The second coming is certain, yet its timing is unknown. Therefore Jesus called in the strongest terms for His saints to be faithful, prepared, and ready for His return. If this is the case in relation to the second coming, “how much more important is it for people to be prepared for the unannounced and ‘sign-less’ resurrection and rapture of the church.”58


1 Jeffrey A. Gibbs, Jerusalem and Parousia: Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse in Matthew’s Gospel (St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press, 2000), 13.

2 At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:28 (ESV) reads: “And when Jesus finished these sayings.. . .” This is the typical formula used at the end of the first four discourses.

3 Many scholars since the time of Friedrich Busch, Zum Verständnis der synoptischen Eschatologie: Markus 13 neu untersucht, Neutestamentliche Forschungen (Gütersloh: C. Bertelsmann, 1938), 4:44, have viewed the discourse as being a Farewell Discourse rather than an apocalypse in terms of its genre. See, for example, W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1997), 3:326. Several elements separate the discourse from Jewish apocalypses. Apocalypses are invariably pseudonymous (being falsely attributed to an authoritative figure from the past), and are replete with bizarre images, heavenly secrets, esoteric symbols, ex eventu prophecy (prophecy of an event after it actually occurred), and timetables; its revelations come via a heavenly mediator. None of these are true about Jesus’ discourse. The teachings in the discourse come from Jesus himself who discourages sign seeking and end-times calculations. The discourse discourages premature apocalyptic fervor and contains more parenetic (exhortations and commands) and parabolic material, than that which merely unfolds the future. G. R. Beasley-Murray, A Commentary on Mark 13 (London: Macmillan, 1957), 18, wrote of the Eschatological Discourse: “There is no other apocalyptic writing known to me which contains so high a proportion of admonitions and in which instruction and exhortation are so completely interwoven.” For further information on the Olivet Discourse as a farewell discourse see Neil D. Nelson Jr., “‘Be Ready for the Hour Is Unknown’: A Literary Critical Exegesis of Matthew 24” (Ph.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 2000), 253–57.

4 Both 2 Timothy and 2 Peter may be considered farewell speeches of Paul and Peter respectively (see 2 Tim 4:6 and 2 Pet 1:12–15).

5 Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew, NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 789. See D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, 12 vols., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:488–95, for a sample of the many issues with which an interpreter must interact in regards to the interpretation of the discourse. Matthew 24 is often considered the most difficult chapter to interpret in the Gospel of Matthew.

6 The author of this article does not mean to imply that dispensational interpretations of the discourse are monolithic. There is some variation in dispensational interpretation of these issues. Indeed, concerning the difficult problem of the meaning of Matthew 24:34 (”Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”), several dispensationalists have changed their views after continued study. Few dispensational writers on an academic level today continue to hold that “this generation” refers to Israel as a nation. However, such an interpretation had been a popular view decades ago.

7 David L. Turner, “The Structure and Sequence of Matthew 24:1–41: Interaction with Evangelical Treatments,” Grace Theological Journal 10 (Spring 1989): 3-27.

8 Examples of moderate or partial preterists include David E. Garland, Reading Matthew (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2001), 240–41, 244–49; Gibbs, Jerusalem and Parousia, 183–208; and R. T. France, Matthew, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 333. R. C. Sproul, The Last Days according to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 66, 158, regards himself a partial preterist, but believes that all of Jesus’ prophecies in the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled in the period between the discourse itself and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. He still believes in a literal second coming, future resurrection, and final judgment based on other New Testament texts. He admitted to being “still unsettled on some crucial matters” (158). His purpose in that book was not to exegete Matthew 24—25, but to evaluate the claims of partial and full preterism.

9 John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974; reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998), 183, understood Matthew 24:4–14 as a unit, describing the general characteristics of the age leading to the end. He wrote: “In general, these signs have been at least partly fulfilled in the present age and have characterized the period between the first and the second coming of Christ. They should be understood as general signs rather than specific signs that the end is near” (183–84). He did believe these general inter-advent difficulties will be “fulfilled in an intensified form as the age moves on to its conclusion.” Walvoord is probably “the greatest defender of the pretribulation rapture in [the twentieth] century” (from the dedication in Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, gen. eds., When the Trumpet Sounds [Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1995], 3). Other dispensationalist writers who hold this view include Wilkins, Matthew, 772–77; David K. Lowery, “A Theology of Matthew,” in A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, ed. Roy Zuck (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 60; Joel F. Williams, “Mark,” in The Bible Knowledge Key Word Study: The Gospels (Colorado Springs: Cook, 2002), 158 [concerning the Markan parallel to these verses]; Ed Glasscock, Matthew (Chicago: Moody Press, 1997), 461–97; and Nelson, “Exegesis of Matthew 24, ” 191–94. C. I. Scofield, Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1909), 1033, held that 24:4–14 applies to the church age and to the end of the age. Louis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 vols. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947), 5:120–21, believed that 24:4–8 describes events of the present church age and 24:9–26 describes the tribulation period. Dispensationalists who place the events of Matthew 24:4–14 exclusively in an end times tribulation period yet future include: J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Findlay, OH: Dunham Books, 1958), 277; Paul P. Enns, “Olivet Discourse,” in Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, gen. ed. Mal Couch (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), 287; and, Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 317–20.

10 Adherents of this view include George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 309–11; and Leon Morris, Matthew, Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 593–608. Thomas Ice, “Back to the Future,” in When the Trumpet Sounds, 13, argued that to be a pretribulationist, one must be a futurist. However, several dispensational interpreters hold to a traditional preterist-futurist view including Turner, “Matthew 24”; Wilkins, Matthew, 778–91; Glasscock, Matthew, 468; and John D. Grassmick, “Mark,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament Edition, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1983), 169–70. C. Marvin Pate, “A Progressive Dispensationalist View of Revelation,” in Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 135, saw the hermeneutical key for progressive dispensational interpretation of New Testament prophecy to be an “already/not yet” eschatological tension. For Pate, both Revelation 6—18 and parallel events in the Olivet Discourse were partially fulfilled in AD 70 yet have their ultimate fulfillment in the future. Darrell L. Bock, Luke 9:51–24:53, Baker Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 1675–77, carefully differentiated between the account in Luke 21:20–24 which describes Jerusalem’s fall and the account in Matthew 24:15–22 which looks at the end-time and speaks of consummation. He took a futurist view on this section in Matthew.

11 Carson, “Matthew,” 499–504.

12 France, Matthew, 333–47; Garland, Reading Matthew, 235–39; Sproul, Last Days, 41–65.

13 Παρουσία also refers to the Second Coming in Matthew 24:3.

14 Stanley D. Toussaint, “A Critique of the Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse,” Bibliotheca Sacra 161 (October-December 2004), noted that παρουσία is always used of the actual presence of a person and that in 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8; James 5:7–8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; and 1 John 2:28 it refers to the Lord’s presence at the Second Coming.

15 Blomberg, Matthew, 363.

16 See Eugene W. Pond, “The Background and Timing of the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats,” Bibliotheca Sacra 159 (April-June 2002): 201-20, for evidence that the judgment of Matthew 25:31–46 occurs on the earth immediately following Christ’s return to reign.

17 Gustav Stählin, “κοπετός, κόπτω,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, eds. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, 10 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964–76), said that the word “mourn” in Matthew 24:30par. is “the world’s mourning for itself in its final, hopeless distress.” The world has come to the realization that it is too late and each one grieves concerning their personal fate at the “immediately impending judgment of God.” The mourning of those soon to be judged contrasts with the gathering of the elect into the kingdom by the Lord’s angels. The consistent pattern throughout the rest of the discourse of dividing humanity into two groups begins here. When the sign of the Son of Man (the sign is the Son, a genitive of apposition) appears it is too late to repent (cf. Rev 1:7). An alternate interpretation is taken by Toussaint, “Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse,” 477–79. He said that the mourning is the repentance of the tribes of Israel when Jesus returns in fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10. If so this would be further proof of the future salvation of Israel in line with Matthew 23:39.

18 There is no rapture found in the Olivet Discourse. Blomberg, Matthew, 363, no pretribulationist himself, correctly affirmed this.

19 Preterists are quite divided as to the specific event in the first century which Matthew called the abomination of desolation. See Toussaint, “Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse,” 479–80, for four possibilities. France, Matthew, 340–41, a preterist himself, identified problems with various preterist views as to the exact identity of the event and came to no conclusion other than that it had to occur in AD 66–70.

20 Toussaint, “Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse,” 480.

21 William F. Bauer, William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed., rev. F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 137–38.

22 Matthew 24:15 with its formula “spoken of through the prophet Daniel” is different than the other “fulfillment” quotations in Matthew in that although it has other essential elements of a fulfillment formula, it is the only one that lacks an explicit reference to any fulfillment of the prophet’s words, in this case, the text of Daniel. Matthew therefore intentionally did not want this text to be understood as fulfilled. See Fred W. Burnett, The Testament of Jesus-Sophia: A Redaction-Critical Study of the Eschatological Discourse in Matthew (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1981), 306–07. Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 481, indicated that the very command that the reader “understand” alludes to Daniel 12:9–10 immediately before Daniel’s final mention of the abomination of desolation. These words speak of the end-time.

23 Other revelation in the New Testament identifies the future abomination as a person (Mark 13:14 where the masculine participle “standing” refers to a person standing where he should not), who proclaims himself to be God and is called “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess 2:1–9) and “the beast” whom earth dwellers are made to worship (Rev 13:1–18).

24 Lowery, “Theology of Matthew,” 190. Josephus, Jewish War 5–7, reported the death of 1.1 million Jews, but most scholars believe that the population of Jerusalem during the feast time was closer to 150,000. In any case the world (and the Jewish people) have experienced greater tribulations than this in the past century.

25 In 1 Corinthians 15:39 Paul used the phrase in the sense of all human and animal life, an even wider usage. See Toussaint, “Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse,” 481.

26 For more on this see Nelson, “Exegesis of Matthew 24, ” 185–88.

27 Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon, 320–21. Redaction critics see εὐθέως as a deliberate redactional addition to his Markan source in order to deliberately connect the tribulation to the parousia.

28 Carson, “Matthew,” 594–95 differentiated between the time of the “great distress” of AD 70 in Matthew 25:15–21 and the general interadvent age in 24:22–28. Therefore Jesus did not affirm that his second coming would be immediately after AD 70. A better solution is to see that 25:15–28 is one unit. The word καί (“and”) in verse 22 ties 24:15–21 to 24:22–28. Therefore the event, which is “immediately” before the second coming, is the great tribulation, which commences with the great abomination.

29 Wilkins, Matthew, 777.

30 The disciples addressed by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse represent Jewish tribulation saints in Matthew 24:15–31. They also represent both the church and Jewish tribulation saints in Matthew 24:4–14, which covers the entire interadvent age (church age plus the tribulation). The parables in Matthew 24:32—25:46 apply in one way or another to both groups. All believers of both eras need to be faithful and ready for the Lord’s return. The Olivet Discourse was therefore specifically relevant to the first disciples and it remains relevant to all saints until the end of the age.

31 For a fuller study of “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 see Neil D. Nelson Jr., “‘This Generation’ in Matt 24:34: A Literary Critical Perspective,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 38 (September 1996): 369-85; and, Nelson, “Exegesis of Matthew 24, ” 159–221.

32 For example, Davies and Allison, Matthew, 3:367–68, affirmed that Matthew 24:34 teaches all the events of verses 4–31 (including His return in glory) would occur before all his contemporaries had died. Since some of Jesus’ contemporaries were probably alive when Matthew wrote, “he did not have the problem we do.” They say that most modern commentators take this view.

33 Bock, Luke 9:51–24:53, 1689.

34 This is an absolute prohibition of any knowledge of the time. The expression “day and hour” is a formula using synonymous parallelism which refers to time in general, with the word “day” being used frequently in Matthew for the time he will come in eschatological judgment (Matt 7:22; 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36). In the following context in the discourse “day,” “part (watch) of the night,” and “hour” are used interchangeably of the unexpected time of the coming of the Son of Man (Matt 24:42–44). Matthew 24:50 and 25:13 again use “day” and “hour” in parallelism. See Blomberg, Matthew, 365.

35 Preterist-futurist interpreters, such as Blomberg, Matthew, 363–64; Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14–28, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1995), 715; and, Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 588–90, have a similar interpretation, but they restricted the reference of “all these things” in Matthew 24:34 to the events of Matthew 24:4–26 or 24:15–26 which they said were fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem in the first century.

36 In Matthew, since the immediately following pericope (24:36–44) and the immediately preceding context (24:29–31) both speak of the parousia, this suggests that “all these things” in 24:34 include the end as well as the preliminary events which announce the certainty of its arrival. The words of Matthew 24:35 also refer to the consummation of all things. When Jesus spoke of “all these things” in verse 34, He was surveying all the events He had just announced.

37 D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” 507; Toussaint, “Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse,” 485–86.

38 Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 116.

39 See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 558–61. It could also be a constative aorist, which is the most frequent use of the aorist tense.

40 John Francis Hart, “A Chronology of Matthew 24:1–44” (Th.D. diss., Grace Theological Seminary, 1986), 217.

41 For example, this was the former view of Pentecost, Things to Come, 281, which he abandoned in The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 405.

42 Toussaint, “Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse,” 484, said, “this would imply that Israel would cease to exist as a nation after the Lord’s return.” See also John F. Walvoord, The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook (Wheaton: Victor, 1990), 391; I. H. Marshall, Commentary on Luke, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 780. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1943), 953; and, Eduard Schweizer, The Good News According to St. Matthew (Atlanta: John Knox, 1975), 458, said it means that Israel will remain wicked until the parousia, at which time she will be judged.

43 For a full discussion see Nelson, “Exegesis of Matthew 24, ” 204–09. This “exclusive” use of ἕ ως predominates in eschatological contexts in Matthew (e.g., 13:30; 23:39). The verb “pass away” means to come to an end or to perish. See Johannes Schneider, “παρέρχομαι,” in Theological Dictionary, 2:681–82.

44 This is evident in the Lukan parallel where Jesus said: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.” Any deciduous fruit tree would make the same point.

45 Modern dispensationalists who take this view include: Lowery, “Theology of Matthew,” 100; Williams, “Mark,” 139, 161; and Nelson, “Exegesis of Matthew 24, ” 159–221; idem., “This Generation,” 369–85. Darrell Bock, Bible Knowledge Key Word Study, 247–48 said this negative ethical view or the idea that once the end starts it will be completed in a generation are the most likely views.

46 John Nelson Darby, The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, ed. William Kelly, 34 vols. (London: G. Morrish, n.d.; reprint, Sunbury, PA: Believer’s Bookshelf, 1972), 9:277.

47 Ibid., 11:372.

48 Williams, “Mark,” 139.

49 R. D. Culver, “dōr,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, eds. Robert L. Harris, Bruce K. Waltke, and Gleason L. Archer, 2 vols. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 1:187.

50 The discourse says that this evil type of people (“this generation”) will be “swept away” (24:39), “taken” in judgment (24:40–41), dichotomized and put into hell (24:51), “shut out” of the marriage feast (25:11–12), “cast into outer darkness” (25:30), and they will go into the eternal punishment prepared for the devil and his angels (25:41, 46).

51 In Matthew 17:17, Jesus was exasperated with a “faithless and perverse generation” ensnared in the grip of Satan. He exclaimed: “How long am I to be with you?” But to his disciples at the end of the Gospel he proclaimed: “And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age” (28:20).

52 For example, Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King: A Study of Matthew (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980), 279–80; Glasscock, Matthew, 475; Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy, 319; Pentecost, Words and Works, 405; Bock, Luke 9:51–24:53, 1688–92.

53 Bock, Luke 9:51–24:53, 1691–92.

54 Hart, “Chronology of Matthew 24, ” 242–44, is an example of a dispensationalist who takes this to speak of the pretribulation rapture.

55 Blomberg, Matthew, 366. Contra Hart, “Chronology of Matthew,” 242–44, elsewhere in Matthew the phrase περὶ δε. (24:36) is used to continue discussion of the same subject or to continue the movement of the narrative (20:6; 22:31; 27:46).

56 Bock, Bible Knowledge Key Word Study, 236, said: “The fact that the stress is on judgment means there is no rapture here.”

57 Carson, “Matthew,” 509. Lowery, “Matthew,” 100, said that παραλαμβάνω (“taken” in 24:40, 41) is often a positive term in the Gospel (e.g., 1:20, 24; 2:13, 14, 20, 21; 17:1; 26:37). However, it is used in a bad sense significantly in 27:27 (cf. 4:5, 8). ᾿Αφίημι (ἀφίεται, “left”) in 24:40–41 can carry a negative connotation in Matthew (4:20, 22; 8:22; 19:29; 23:38; 26:56), but it also has positive connotations in 4:11, 20, 24; 6:12.

58 Mark Bailey and Tom Constable, The New Testament Explorer (Dallas: Word, 1999), 51.


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