Matthew 24 Commentary

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Matthew 24:1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him: Kai exelthon (AAPMSN) o Iesous apo tou hierou eporeueto (3SIMI) kai proselthon oi mathetai autou epideixai (AAN) auto tas oikodomas tou hierou:

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  • came out of: Mt 23:39 Jer 6:8 Eze 8:6, 10:17-19, 11:22,23 Ho 9:12
  • point out: Mk 13:1-2 Lu 21:5-6 Jn 2:20
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Matthew 23:38-39 (TWO PROPHECIES) “Behold, your house (TEMPLE OF THE JEWS) is being left to you desolate! 39 “For (TERM OF EXPLANATION) I say to you, from now on you will not see Me UNTIL (UP TO THIS POINT, THEN YOU WILL SEE ME AGAIN) you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”

Mark 13:1-2+ (PREDICTION OF TEMPLE DESTRUCTION IN 70 A.D.) As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” 

Luke 21:5-6+  (PREDICTION OF TEMPLE DESTRUCTION IN 70 A.D.) And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, 6 “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” 

THE OLIVET DISCOURSE:
THE TEMPLE'S BEAUTY ADMIRED

Warren Wiersbe sets the stage for Matthew 24 commenting that "The Olivet Discourse grew out of some questions the disciples asked when Jesus told them that the temple would one day be destroyed. First, they wanted to know when. This answer is not recorded in Matthew but is given in Luke 21:20-24. Second, they asked about the sign of Christ's return. This is answered in Matthew 24:29-44. In their final question, they asked about the sign of the end of the age. Christ's reply is in Matthew 24:4-28. (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Gotquestions - It is important to recognize that Jesus' teaching in this discourse is in reference to Israel and not the Church. Christ was speaking of God's future program for Israel. Other passages to consider when studying the Olivet Discourse are Daniel 9:24-27 and Revelation 6:1 - 19:21, which refer to the future seven-year period called the tribulation. God's program for the Church concludes with the rapture, which is not taught in the Olivet Discourse. The rapture of the Church is found in John 14:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. In Matthew 23:1-37, 38-39, Jesus had spoken to the Pharisees concerning judgment. This can be seen in the "woe" statements in that chapter. (What is the Olivet Discourse?)

On what day of "Holy Week" did this discourse take place? Tuesday Evening (cp Mk 11:19, See note on "Holy Tuesday", cf Passion Week or Holy Week)

John Phillips observes that "The King had passed final judgment on the nation of Israel (cf Matthew 23:38-39). All that remained was the cross. But first, in an astonishing prophetic discourse, the King gave His disciples a sketch of the general tenor of the new church age that was about to be inserted into time, and then went on to speak of the end-time events that would herald His coming again. This important prophetic statement gathers together the main threads of Old Testament end-time prophecy and the threads of New Testament prophecy, weaves them into an imposing fabric of eschatology, and embroiders the fabric with flashes of insight from the Lord's omniscient foreknowledge." (Exploring the Gospel of Matthew)

David Platt - Jesus' prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and His second coming are a call for His disciples to trust in His authority, persevere in His power, and long for His return. (BORROW Exalting Jesus in Matthew)

THE GLORY DEPARTS
THE TEMPLE!

Jesus (iesous) came out from the Temple (hieron) - Keep the context in mind. First, note that "All the discourses since Mt 21:23 have been in the Temple courts." (A T Robertson). Second, note that in Matthew 23:1-35, 36 Jesus has just denounced the Pharisees as hypocrites, then lamented over Jerusalem (Mt 23:38) and ended with prophecies of the destruction of the Temple (Mt 23:38) and His return (Mt 23:39). This final departure of Jesus from the Temple marked the end of His public ministry! Mark 13:1 has a similar phrase "He was going out" (present tense) picturing Him in the act of leaving.

The statement about Jesus' leaving the Temple is not found in Luke 21:1-6 which at least raises the possibility that the latter discourse was delivered in the Temple complex. However most commentators consider Luke 21 as part of Jesus' classic Olivet Discourse.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum points out that "Actually, at that time, the Temple buildings were not yet completed. The Temple Compound was begun by Herod the Great in 20 B.C., but it was not finished until A.D. 64, only six years before its destruction. The words of the Olivet Discourse were spoken in the year A.D. 30, and so the building of the Temple Compound had been going on for fifty years. They would continue the building for another 34 years. The stones, which so impressed the disciples were indeed magnificent, and some of them are still visible in the walls of the Temple Compound to this day. These “Herodian Stones” are huge, each measuring ten to twelve feet in length and weighing several tons. Nevertheless, Yeshua reiterated the fact that this Temple was doomed for destruction; the Temple itself would not have one stone left upon another. This prophecy of the Messiah was literally fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed the City of Jerusalem and the Temple was set on fire. Because there was so much gold in the building, a great amount of it melted and seeped into the crevices between the stones of the Temple. When the ruins cooled down, the Romans systematically removed everything, stone-by-stone, in order to get to the gold that had solidified inside the crevices. However, this prophecy of the Messiah left the disciples perplexed." (The Olivet Discourse - online)

Was going away - The imperfect tense (continuous action) gives us a vivid description of Jesus. One can picture Him as He keeps on walking away from the Temple for the last time. What a sad scene, the glory was departing from the Temple even as in Ezekiel's day. Having just summarily denounced the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:1-37) and predicting the desolation of the Temple (Mt 23:38-39), His going away is a picture of divine abandonment much like when "the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city." (Ezek 11:23+) It is no accident that the glorious One Who has just departed the city will now give this prophecy of destruction from the same mountain east of the city, the Mount of Olives (thus called the "Olivet Discourse")! 

So here we see Jesus the One Who alone possessed "glory as of the only begotten from the Father" (Jn 1:14+-Eastern Gate (See  Eastern Gate. Just as did the Shekinah glory - Ezek 10:19-see description) which was also the likely route of His "Triumphant Entrance" into Jerusalem (cf Lk 19:28-48+) two days earlier ("Palm Sunday"). However, the glory of the Lord will one day return, because the Glorious One will return! Indeed, Ezekiel prophesies that "the (Shekinah) glory of Jehovah (cf Jesus - Jn 1:14+) would one day in the future come into the Millennial Temple "by the way of the gate facing toward the East." (Ezekiel 43:4-see Golden Gate; See related note on "The Gate to Prophecy")

Tony Garland notes the "parallel with Jesus, the Glory of the Lord, departing the Temple to the Mount of Olives and the Shekinah Glory which departed in the same manner in Ezekiel's day (Ezek 11:22-23+ cf. Mt. 23:38). In both cases, some time thereafter the Temple was destroyed." (See depiction of the The Stepwise Departure of The Glory of the LORD from Solomon's Temple as described in Ezekiel 8:1-11:25)

His disciples (mathetes) came up to point out (epideiknumi) the Temple (hieron) buildings to Him - Point out means to cause something to be seen and thus to call attention to. Temple (hieron) describes the entire Temple complex in contrast to Naos which describes the Temple itself and the Holy Place. They are responding to Jesus' prophecy of the Temple's destruction and asking in a sense it is really true such a glorious structure is going to be entirely destroyed? The disciples focused on the magnificent exterior of the Temple. Jesus focusing on the real meaning of the Temple, which was supposed to symbolize the presence of God. And of course Jesus knew that not only was much (most) of the religious activity associated with the Temple a sham, He also knew that the religious leaders would soon reject Him as the God that the Temple symbolized!

Mark says "one of His disciples" (Mk 13:1+) apparently acted as spokesman for the group and directed Jesus' attention to the magnificent structures. The Synoptic Gospels do not state specifically why they did this. However keeping the context in mind, they may have been motivated by the fact that Jesus had just stated "Behold, your house (the Temple) is being left to you desolate!" (Mt 23:38 - discussed more fully in comments below on Mt 24:3) Luke says "some were talking about the Temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts." (Lk 21:5+)

THOUGHT -  Aren't we all like the disciples, awe struck by the beauty of man made edifices, but too often minimizing the super-human Beautiful One Himself! This reminds us of the principle not to judge by externals, for "God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1Sa 16:7+)

The Temple buildings - Construction of the Temple had begun nearly 50 years earlier under the direction of Herod the Great and would still be ongoing 40 years later when it was utterly destroyed! (cf Eccl 1:2-3!) The summit of Mount Zion had been dug away to leave a plateau of 1,000 feet square. At the far end of it was the Temple itself (naos). It was built of white marble plated with gold, and it shone in the sun so that a man could scarcely bear to look at it. Between the Lower City and the Temple Mount lay the Tyropoeon Valley, and across this valley stretched a colossal bridge. Its arches had a span of 41 1/2 feet, and its spring stones were 24 feet long by 6 inches thick. The Temple area was surrounded by great porches, Solomon's Porticos and the Royal Porch (Acts 3:11-12+). These porches were upheld by pillars, cut out of solid blocks of marble in one piece. They were 37 1/2 feet high, and of such a thickness that three men linked together could scarcely put their arms round them. At the corners of the Temple angle stones have been found which measure from 20 to 40 feet in length, and which weigh more than 100 tons. How they were ever cut and placed in position is one of the mysteries of ancient engineering. Little wonder that these Galilean fishermen looked and directed Jesus' attention to them. Others like Herod focused on the trappings of "religion" at the expense of a relationship with the Righteous One!.

Hiebert - According to Josephus, part of it was built of strong, white stones each measuring twenty-five cubits long, eight high, and about twelve in breadth (37 1/2′— 12′— 18′). Some of these massive stones weighed more than one hundred tons. The plural buildings denotes the Temple proper as well as the various courts with their chambers and magnificent colonnades, all of which rested on the platform which Herod the Great had constructed for the enlarged Temple area. Luke mentioned also the costly votive offerings with which the temple was decorated (Luke 21:5). The Herodian Temple was recognized as one of the architectural wonders of the Roman world. (Ibid)

Related resources:


Jesus (2424)(Iesous) is transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew name Jehoshua (Yehoshua) or Jeshua (Yeshua) which mean Jehovah is help or Jehovah is salvation. Stated another way the Greek Iesous corresponds to the OT Jehoshua (Yehoshua) which is contracted as Jeshua (Yeshua). NET Note on Jesus - The Greek form of the name Iēsous, which was translated into Latin as Jesus, is the same as the Hebrew Yeshua (Joshua), which means "Yahweh saves" (Yahweh is typically rendered as "LORD" in the OT).

Temple (2411)(hieron) referred to a building which was set apart and dedicated to the worship and service of the gods. In the NT hieron was used to designate the entire complex, the entire sacred enclosure, with its porticos, courts, and other subordinate buildings. The Greek word Naos referred to the Temple proper, including the inner sanctuary, composed of the outer room, the Holy of Holies and the innermost Holy Place. When our Lord taught in the Temple, He taught in the hieron, in one of the temple porches. He expelled the money-changers from the hieron, the court of the Gentiles. When the veil of the Temple was rent at the time of the death of our Lord (Mt 27:52, cp Heb 10:19-22+), it was the veil of the naos, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. When Zacharias entered the Temple to burn incense (Lk 1:9), he entered the naos, the Holy Place where the altar of incense stood while the multitude were in prayer outside in the hieron the temple complex (Lk 1:10).

Matthew 24:2 And 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: o de apokritheis (APPMSN) eipen (3SAAI) autois ou blepete (2PPAI) tauta panta? Amen lego (1SPAI) humin ou me aphethe (3SAPS) ode lithos epi lithon os ou kataluthesetai (3SFPI):

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  • 1Ki 9:7-8 Jer 26:18 Eze 7:20-22 Da 9:26,27 Mic 3:12 Lu 19:44 2Pe 3:11
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE OLIVET PROPHECY:
TEMPLE'S DESTRUCTION DECREED

Related passages:

Luke 19:44+ and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

Mark 13:2+ And Jesus said to him ("one of His disciples" - Mk 13:1), "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down."

Luke 21:6+ "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down."

The picture above is of stones from the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (Jerusalem) thrown onto the street by Roman soldiers on the Ninth of Av, 70 AD. 

And He said to them - Jesus said it and that settles it. So all of the things Jesus describes in Mt 24:2-14 (and following) will take place. 

"Do you not see all these things? - Rhetorical of course referring to the Temple buildings. In Mark 13:2+ Jesus asked "Do you see these great buildings" (cf "it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts" - Lk 21:50+) thus acknowledging the magnificence of the Temple complex.

Hiebert says the disciples were "justified in viewing it with admiration. The words ("Do you not see...") may be viewed either as a question or an assertion. If they are a question, Jesus asked the disciple(s), "Is your attention centered on the grand material structure?" If they are an assertion, Jesus acknowledged that the disciple(s) was occupied with the grandeur before Him. To view the reply as a question seems preferable. In either case, His words fixed attention on the material temple itself in preparation for His astonishing announcement." (Ibid)

Truly (amen) I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down (kataluo) - In opening with Truly (amen)  (He was the only one Who did this) Jesus is stress the truth and validity of His prophecy of total destruction of the Temple. The idea is "I solemnly assure you." Up to this time during the day (it was probably toward Tuesday evening now - cf Mk 11:19) Jesus had been teaching (cf Mk 11:20-12:44), acting as a "forth teller" (aka Teacher), but now He switches to "foreteller" uttering a dramatic prophecy that would come to pass in 70 AD. Early in His ministry, Jesus had foretold of the destruction of the "Temple" of His body (Jn 2:19+, Mk 14:58+, Acts 6:14+), but now He spoke of a literal destruction of the holy Temple. Although some of the stones which were set in place in building the Temple complex are still visible on the southeast corner of the Temple Mount, that does not invalidate the literal fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy, because He was referring to the stones of the actual Temple of which not a stone remains left upon another.

Not one stone...upon another (Literally = "stone upon stone") - In Matthew's version Jesus uses a strong double negative (ou me) signifying absolutely not one stone of the Temple would remain intact. His negative emphasis is even stronger in Mark 13:2 for He uses the double negative twice - "Absolutely not even one stone will be left upon another which will absolutely not be torn down." His prediction was stated about as dogmatically as it could be stated in the original Greek!

John MacArthur adds that Jesus' words that not one stone here will be left upon another "would be fulfilled literally in A.D. 70, when the Romans, the human means of divine wrath (ED: Notice this point! cf "Nebuchadnezzar...My servant" = Jer 25:9, 27:6), erected scaffolds around the walls of the temple and its buildings, filled them with wood and other flammable material, and set them on fire. The intense heat from the fires caused the stones to crumble. After it was further dismantled and sifted to find all the melted gold, the rubble was thrown down into the Kidron Valley. Only the huge foundation stones remained largely intact. Those stones, however, were not part of the Temple itself, but supports for the retaining wall." (See Luke Commentary)

Hiebert - The Temple was actually destroyed by fire, contrary to the order of Titus, who had hoped to spare the edifice; but later, he gave orders to demolish the entire city and Temple. (Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews 6.1-6.92; Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews 7.1.1) (Ibid)

THOUGHT - Leon Morris has a point of application regarding the destruction of the beautiful Temple - Jesus is making clear that, while the temple was undoubtedly a wonderful building, the disciples should not be beguiled by its beauty. What matters is that God's people should live godly lives. When they do not, disaster in some form is inevitable. (BORROW The Gospel According to Matthew)

SOME CONTEXT ON THE
DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE & JERUSALEM

In the Old Testament, Jehovah, through the prophet Jeremiah, had given a clear warning to Israel concerning the impending destruction of the Temple

"Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," declares the LORD. But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things," declares the LORD, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer, therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. (Jer 7:11-14, cf Ps 78:60-61)

Prophecy is like a jigsaw puzzle and just as one is enabled to solve the puzzle by first finding the most obvious pieces (the corners), so too one is enabled to unravel a controversial chapter like Matthew 24 by finding the obvious pieces. And so we need to keep the context in mind and compare Scriptures that relate to the context. What was the context? What had Jesus just declared in Matthew 23:37-39?

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! (PROPHECY #1 - DESTRUCTION OF TEMPLE) "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" (PROPHECY #2 MESSIAH'S RETURN) (Mt 23:37-39)

Comment: To what house does He refer? This is clearly a reference to their beloved Temple (and city of Jerusalem). In the Old Testament Daniel 9:26 (see commentary) had prophesied "after the sixty-two weeks (plus the 7 weeks = 69 weeks = 483 years) the Messiah would be cut off (the Crucifixion of Jesus - Hebrew word = karath = speaks of a violent death) and have nothing, and the people (Romans) of the prince who is to come (Antichrist) will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its (Jerusalem's) end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined." As discussed above it may have been because Jesus pronounced this judgment on Jerusalem and the Temple that the astonished disciples immediately drew His attention to its beauty and magnificence.

Ray Stedman: All of this (Ed: Referring to the Olivet Discourse) comes at the close of the most blistering sermon He ever delivered. It was addressed to the Scribes and the Pharisees, and consisted of a series of "woes" pronounced upon the hypocrisy of these religious leaders (Mt 23:2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29). They were supposed to be the teachers of the people but were actually hindering them from knowing the truth of God. Jesus began His ministry with a series of eight blessings (the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12), and He ended it with a series of eight woes. Nothing arouses more vehement anger in the heart of God than religious hypocrisy. Throughout the Scriptures, God's most scorching terms are reserved for those who profess to know Him but who behave quite contrary to their profession- especially for the self-righteous. (The Long Look Ahead - Matthew 24:1-3)

We need to remember that almost 500 years earlier Daniel had foretold the Crucifixion of the Messiah and the desolation of Jerusalem by the Romans. But in the midst of wrath ("your house...left to you desolate") God remembers mercy, for He is a merciful (mercy filled) God! And so in Mt 23:39 Jesus gives a prophetic promise which begins with the word "until" which marks the time when Israel will bless the Messiah Who returns in the Name of the LORD at the end of this age. Why will they call Him "blessed" in the future and not at the time He walked among them? Most Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah in His first advent (Jn 1:11+), but when He returns, the Spirit of grace and supplication will be poured out on the Jews (Zech 12:10+) and one-third will be saved (the "all Israel" of Ro 11:26-27+, Zech 13:8-9+). It is those saved Jewish people who will shout out Psalm 118:26+ (where Mt 23:39 changes "one" to "He" and Lk 19:38+ changes "one" to "the King" for at that time He will indeed be "King of kings and Lord of lords!" Amen! [Rev 19:16+]).

In summary even in Matthew 23:38-39, Jesus prophesied of the coming destruction of the House of God, the Temple, which occurred in 70 AD. But He also prophesied about His future return as King of kings at the end of this age (a prophetic Time Gap)! Now as we read Mt 24:3 we can better understand why the disciples ask Him not only about the timing of the destruction of the Temple but also about His return at the end of the age.

Compare other Scriptures related to the destruction of Jerusalem. In Luke Jesus gives a parallel prophecy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem...

And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For (term of explanation) the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because (term of explanation) you did not recognize the time of your visitation (see episkope)." (Luke 19:42-44+)

Comment: In Luke 19:42 the phrase "this day" might be better translated "the day" because the definitive article ("te" = the) precedes "day" (hemera) and marks it as a very specific, unique day. In context, "this day" is further described by Jesus as "the time of your visitation." What is unique about "this day" and "the time of your visitation." It was the very unique day when Jesus presented Himself to the Jews as their Messiah and King entering Jerusalem riding on a colt (Lk 19:35-38+; cp Mt 21:7-9 "the donkey and the colt") as the Jews cried "Hosanna [Save Now] in the highest!" (Mt 21:9) They were crying for salvation (from Rome) but not for salvation (from sin) and so they missed their long promised Messiah.

Jesus' is very clear that they should have "known in this day" that it was "the time of visitation." But is Jesus being unfair? How could they have known this specific day? Is there any place in the Old Testament Scriptures where God had foretold of this unique day? Since we know God is never unjust or unfair, we know that there was clearly a prophecy that foretold of "this day." That prophecy is found in the Seventy Weeks which were specifically "decreed for your people (Israel) and your holy city (Jerusalem)" (Da 9:24-27+). That incredible prophecy foretold to the day when the Messiah would come into Jerusalem, but also foretold that He would be crucified and that Jerusalem would be left desolate, just as Jesus had predicted.

For a more detailed explanation of what is probably one of the greatest prophecies in all of the Bible see the commentary notes on each of the specific verses - Daniel 9:24; Daniel 9:25; Daniel 9:26; Daniel 9:27.

Matthew 24:3 As 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?": Kathemenou (PMPMSG) de autou epi tou Horous ton Elaion proselthon (3PAAI) auto oi mathetai kat idian legontes (PAPMPN) Eipe (2SAAM) hemin pote tauta estai (3SFMI) kai ti to semeion tes ses parousias kai sunteleias tou aionos:

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Amplified While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age?

Darby And as he was sitting upon the mount of Olives the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be, and what is the sign of thy coming and the completion of the age?

KJV And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

NET As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

ESV As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?"

NIV As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

NLT Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, "Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world? "

YLT And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, 'Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?'

  • Was sitting: Mt 21:1 Mk 13:3,4
  • the disciples: Mt 13:10,11,36 15:12 17:19
  • Tell: Da 12:6-8 Lu 21:7 Jn 21:21,22 Ac 1:7 1Th 5:1-11
  • the sign: Mt 24:32,33,43
  • the end: Mt 13:39,40,49 28:20 Heb 9:26
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel passages (Remember that to best understand Matthew 24-25, it is important to study the related passages in Mark and Luke).

Mark 13:3-4+  As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

Luke 21:7+  They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”


Flevit Super Illam (He Wept Over It), by Enrique Simonet

Ray Stedman - Having said this He left the Temple, and the disciples went with Him. Silently, they walked down through the valley of Kidron and up the other side to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus took His seat, upon one of the rocks that overlooked the city and the Temple area (ED: The higher elevation enabled them to look down on a panoramic view of the city).. The disciples were troubled and confused. They could not understand His actions or His words concerning the Temple. The Temple was the center of the nation's life and they regarded it with holy awe as the very dwelling place of God among His people. Its beauty was famous throughout the earth and they could not believe that God would allow any harm to come to it. So they began to point out to Jesus the strength and beauty of the Temple. (The Long Look Ahead - Matthew 24:1-3)

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives - Sitting was the traditional posture of a teacher (cf other references to Jesus seated - Mt 5:1; 13:1; 15:29; 19:28; 22:44; 23:2; 25:31) "The final teaching section (Mt 24:3-26:1) begins like the first with Jesus sitting on a mountain (Mt 5:1) and concludes with a similar ending (Mt 7:28; Mt 26:1)." (Lowery - Bible Knowledge Key Word Study) Mark adds the small detail that Jesus "was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple." (Mk 13:3+) The Mount of Olives is about 150 feet higher (SEE DIAGRAM BELOW) and due west of Temple Mount, separated by the Kidron Valley, giving one a panoramic view of the holy Temple and the holy city. The fact that the disciples came to Him suggests that He had already walked ahead of them possibly "in silent meditation." (Hiebert)


LINES OF VISION FROM MOUNT OF OLIVES

The Mount of Olives - How apropos that Jesus' delivered this message giving details of the His glorious return (Mt 24:27-30). The disciples may have known (but not fully understood) the prophecy of His return in Zechariah 14:4+ - "And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south."

Not only would Jesus return to the Mount of Olives but He would soon ascend back to the Father from the Mount of Olives (Read Acts 1:9-11, 12+).

Certainly all Scripture is for the church, but not all is about the church. 
-- John Heading

Warren Wiersbe reminds us as we read the Olivet Discourse it is vital that we "We must keep in mind that the "atmosphere" of this discourse is Jewish. Jesus talked about Judea (Mt. 24:16), the Sabbath (Mt. 24:20) (Ed: And in Mark's version mentioned synagogues - Mk 13:9), and the prophecies of Daniel concerning the Jewish people (Mt. 24:15)...Though there are definite applications to God's people today, the emphasis is on Jerusalem, the Jews, and the temple. Our Lord was not discussing His coming for the church (The Rapture), for that can occur at any time and no signs need precede it (1Cor 15:51-58; 1Thes. 4:13-18). "For the Jews require a sign" (1Cor 1:22); the church looks for a Saviour (Phil 3:20-21)." (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

The disciples (mathetes) came to Him privately (cf Mt 17:19) - The Olivet Discourse was not a public teaching, but was given only for the ears of believers. Mark gives us the names of the four disciples who came to Jesus - "Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately." (Mark 13:3+) These were the first four disciples Jesus had called at the outset of His ministry and they comprised His innermost circle. Then the four disciples asked three questions.

John Heading - The Lord is now no longer going to teach in public; Matt 24–25 and John 13–16 were for the disciples’ ears only.  The people will see Him in public display no longer until they shall say, “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Ps 118:26). They had said this in Matt 21:9 when He entered Jerusalem in triumph, but never will do so again until His future public manifestation in glory as the Son of man and King of kings. Only then will His weeping over Jerusalem give place to joy, “so shall thy God rejoice over thee” (Isa 62:5); “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps 30:5). (What the Bible Teaches Matthew)

THE DISCIPLES'
QUESTIONS

When will these things happen, and what will be the sign (semeion) of Your coming (parousia) and of the end (sunteleia - consummation, full end) of the age (aion)? - This is two questions with the second question having two components (some interpret it three questions - Walvoord, Fruchtenbaum - see below).  (1) When will these things happen? (2a) What will be the sign of Your coming? (2b) What will be the sign of the End of the Age? The disciples apparently thought that all three items, destruction of the Temple, the sign of Christ’s coming, and the end of the age would occur at the same time, but they were mistaken. 

Thomas Ice explains that "It was a common thing for Jesus to correct the misunderstandings of the disciples that usually represent popular belief of their day. See the following passages for examples of Christ correcting the disciples beliefs: Matthew 5-7; Mat 9:1-8; Mat 12:1-8, 46-50; Mat 13:10-23; Mat 15:1-20; Mat 16:13-26; Mat 17:1-9; Mat 18:1-6, 21-35; Mat 19:3-12, 13-15, 27-30; Mat 20:20-28; Mat 21:33-46." 

Dwight Pentecost explains that their "questions showed that they had arrived at certain conclusions…To these men Christ’s words concerning the destruction of Jerusalem was the destruction predicted by Zechariah that would precede the advent of the Messiah. In Jewish eschatology two ages were recognized: the first was this present age, the age in which Israel was waiting for the coming of the Messiah; the second was the age to come, the age in which all of Israel’s covenants would be fulfilled and Israel would enter into her promised blessings as a result of Messiah’s coming." (BORROW The Words and Works of Jesus Christ: A Study of the Life of Christ)

Thomas Ice  Matthew and Mark do not deal with the destruction of Jerusalem in their accounts of the Olivet Discourse. Their focus is upon the future days of tribulation leading up to Christ’s return. Only in Luke’s account does Christ deal with the issue (Luke 21:20-24+). But Luke also deals with future days of tribulation and Christ’s return as well (Luke 21:25-36+).

Fruchtenbaum comments that "Altogether, three questions were asked which, at the same time, included requests for three signs." (Ibid) He explains that in the Luke passage the disciples asked not only when (just as in Matthew) but what is the sign that will identify that these things are about to take place. Matthew asks only when but do not mention a sign." (Online Olivet Discourse)

Constable comments that "The disciples asked Jesus two questions. The first was, "When will these things be?" The second question had two parts as is clear from the Greek construction of the sentence. It linked two nouns, "coming" (parousia) and "end" (sunteleia), with a single article, "the" (Gr. to), and the conjunction "and" (Gr. kai). What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" (Commentary)

Blomberg agrees with 2 questions explaining that "By not repeating the definite article ("the") before "end of the age," Matthew's rendering of Jesus' words is most likely linking the coming of Christ and the end of the age together as one event (Granville Sharp's rule)." (BORROW - NAC - Matthew)

What is the significance of the fact that there is only one article governing the coming and the consummation (end)? This suggests that the disciples viewed the coming and the consummation as two events which were distinct, but closely connected. This will be discussed more fully below.

FIRST QUESTION:
WHEN?

Tell us, when will these things happen - What are these things? Jesus had just asked "Do you not see all these things? which is a clear reference to the Temple. It follows that their request regarding these things refers to the destruction of the Temple, which He had also foretold in Mt 23:38 declaring "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" It is interesting that the disciples did not ask "why" but "when?" One thought is that they understood that judgment had to come on Israel, but we cannot be dogmatic.

Matthew 24 and Mark 13 do not record when the Temple would be destroyed, although they do record signs regarding when it would be made desolate (Mt 24:15+, Mk 13:14+). The answer to when the Temple would be destroyed is recorded in Luke 21:20+ where Jesus foretold that "when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand." This clear sign would signal the beginning of the end of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple, a prophecy that was literally fulfilled in 70 AD, confirming Jesus as a true prophet, Whose coming had been foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him (SADLY THEY DID NOT LISTEN TO HIM!)." (Dt 18:15, 18+, cf tests of a true prophet - Dt 18:20-22+)

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D Edmond Hiebert has an interesting analysis of these things - These things again relates to the Temple, but the question (of the disciples) assumes that the destruction will be part of the complex events culminating in the consummation of the age and the inauguration of the messianic kingdom. His prophecy of the destruction of the temple naturally led them to think of Zechariah 14+ and its eschatological portrayal. This implication is more clearly indicated in Matthew's formulation of the question. "When shall these things be, and what is the sign of thy coming and [the] completion of the age?" (Darby). Completion of the age (sunteleia) is the noun form of the verb in Mark, rendered "shall be fulfilled," (sunteleo) denoting that the things mentioned will be brought to their close, or final fulfillment. All (panta) (ED: This refers to the parallel passage in Mk 13:4) stands emphatically at the end of the sentence to stress the total consummation of these crisis events ("to semeion hotan mello tauta sunteleisthai panta"). They were eager to know what sign or visible portent would enable them to recognize the inauguration of these cataclysmic events. Clearly, they did not foresee the long interval between the two events (ED: Some would say "three" events) . The local event (ED: destruction of the Temple) became blended into the eschatological (ED: His parousia and end of the age). This use of the local event in the foreground as the type of eschatological event is seen in the Old Testament in Joel's presentation of the Day of the Lord (ED: E.g., Joel 1:4 describing the local locust plague and the Day of the LORD in Joel 1:15). This prophetic use of the local crisis as a type of the end time teaches us that each age has its own judgment pointing to the certainty of the final judgment. (Ibid) (Bolding added for emphasis)

Indeed, if the disciples knew their OT prophecies, Jesus' prophecy regarding the Temple and His subsequent establishment of the Messianic Kingdom would have naturally led them to think of Zechariah 14:1-21+, for Zechariah 14:2+ describes a battle against Jerusalem, Zechariah 14:3,5 describes Messiah's victorious return (cp parousia - arrival and presence) and Zechariah 14:8-21 describes the conditions of the subsequent Messianic Kingdom.

A few thoughts to ponder - Remember that in 2023 we read Jesus' prophecies almost 2000 years later and we know that the Temple has been destroyed in 70AD and we know that Jesus has not physically returned to bring this present age to its consummation and inaugurate His Messianic Kingdom. But if we place ourselves in the sandals of these four disciples on the mountain with Jesus, when they asked about the Temple destruction, they did not see a gap of 2000 years between the fulfillment of these prophecies (Temple destroyed, Jesus' arrival, end of this age). In their mind they clearly associated Jesus parousia (presence - see discussion below) and the consummation of the age (and beginning of the next, the Messianic Age). Indeed, from Acts 1:6 their question indicates that they thought the end of this age and the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom was to come soon, probably in their lifetime. After all they were on the same Mount of Olives as they were in Mt 24:3 when Jesus had first disclosed His prophecy. The difference was that now Jesus had been crucified and resurrected, returned to life from the dead. And they understood that truth now. And so here they were on the Mount and Jesus had indeed in one sense returned or "come" to them again (recalling that parousia means an arrival and a presence), this coming of course being from the grave not from clouds. And so one could easily see how they might interpret this as His parousia (arrival and presence) as fulfilled. No, the Temple had not yet been destroyed, but His coming back to life and coming to them would signal that this was the end of the age and soon the Messianic Kingdom would begin. Just a few thoughts to ponder!

John MacArthur's sermon on The Signs of Christ's Coming, Part 1 gives a summary of first century Jewish eschatological expectations which helps us "get inside the disciples' heads" and better understand why they were asking Jesus what they asked. In other words, one might think that the mention of the Temple's destruction would generate a question related only to that topic. However they also asked about the coming of Messiah and the consummation of the age. It is clear that in their minds all three were related, but as alluded to above, they had no concept of the gap of time that would separate the Temple's destruction from the coming and consummation.

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Ray Stedman - In Luke 21:20, we have other details of this predicted overthrow of the city and the Temple. There Jesus adds, "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near." Forty years later, the Roman armies under Titus came in and fulfilled the prediction to the very letter. With Titus was a Jewish historian named Josephus who recorded the terrible story in minute detail. It was one of the most ghastly sieges in all history. When the Romans came the city was divided among three warring factions of Jews, who were so at each others' throats that they paid no heed to the approach of the Romans. Thus, Titus came up and surrounded the city while it was distracted by its own internecine warfare. The Romans assaulted the walls again and again, and gave every opportunity to the Jews to surrender and save their capital destruction. During the long siege a terrible famine raged in the city and the bodies of the inhabitants of the city were literally stacked like cordwood in the streets. Mothers ate their own children to preserve their own strength. The toll of Jewish suffering was horrible but they would not surrender the city. Again and again they attempted to trick the Romans through guile and perfidy. When at last the walls were breached Titus tried to preserve the Temple by giving orders to his soldiers not to destroy or burn it. But the anger of the soldiers against the Jews was so intense that, maddened by the resistance they encountered, they disobeyed the order of their general and set fire to the temple. There were great quantities of gold and silver which had been placed in the Temple for safekeeping. This melted and ran down between the rocks and into the cracks of the stones that formed the Temple and the wall around it. When the Roman soldiers finally took the city, in their greed to obtain this gold and silver they took long bars and pried apart these massive stones. Thus, quite literally, not one stone was left standing upon another. The Temple itself was totally destroyed though the wall supporting the area upon which the Temple was built was left partially intact and a portion of it remains to this day, called the Western Wall. In this remarkable fulfillment, confirmed so strongly by secular history, is convincing proof that God will fulfill every other part of this amazing message fully and literally. As Jesus himself said in the discourse, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (The Long Look Ahead - Matthew 24:1-3)

In fairness, a number of commentaries feel that in Matthew 24 Jesus did answer the first question about when the destruction of the Temple would occur. These commentaries interpret Matthew 24:15-22 as a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem which was fulfilled in 70 AD. The commentary you are reading however interprets the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15ff literally and in light of Daniel 9:27+ as a prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction which is yet future. Matthew 24 and Mark 13 do not describe the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, although some who interpret it as yet future, also see either a past fulfillment ("double fulfillment") or a "type" or a foreshadowing of the yet future destruction. Luke 21:20-24+ presents a clear and distinctive sign (the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem) of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, which in fact did occur in 70 AD. It follows that both Matthew 24 and Mark 13 focus primarily on disciples' second and third questions regarding the timing of the Second Coming and the end of the age.

THE SIGN
OF HIS COMING

What will be the sign (semeion) of Your coming (parousia) and of the end (sunteleia) of the age (aion)? - As alluded to above the Greek construction (cf Granville Sharp's rule) clearly links these two events together. While the phrase Your coming naturally suggest Jesus Second Coming to most modern day readers. As discussed below the noun for coming (parousia) can have more than one meaning, so which meaning was intended by the disciples?

Why did they ask Jesus about His coming? Had He just mentioned His coming? In fact He did in Mt 23:39 "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until (THE KEY TIME PHRASE - UP TO THE POINT THAT SOMETHING ELSE HAPPENS) you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" And so He said that the Jews would not see Him again UNTIL they said "Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord." And the END OF THE AGE refers to this current age that is going to be terminated by the corning of Jesus Christ.

Fruchtenbaum explains that "This question did not concern the Rapture of the Church because the Rapture is imminent and can happen at any moment, having no warning sign preceding it. However, the Second Coming will be preceded by a sign, and the disciples asked what the sign would be." (Online Olivet Discourse)

Comment: I realize that not every reader will agree with Fruchtenbaum's analysis especially if you are post-tribulation or mid-tribulation rapture. (See related study on the verb harpazo in 1Th 4:17 which describes the church's seizing or "rapture.")

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Coming (3952)(parousia) means presence, arrival, coming, an appearance, or a presence after having been gone. Parousia was used as a near technical term in secular Greek for the visit of a king or emperor or for the appearance of a god.

According to the Greek Lexicon BDAG (BORROW) parousia had 2 basic meanings: (1) the state of being present at a place - presence (e.g., 2Cor 10:10 = speaks of Paul's "personal presence") (2) the arrival as the first state in presence - coming, advent. (a) Of human beings = Phil 1:26. (b) In a special technical sense referring to coming of Christ (1Cor 1:8, 2Th 2:8) and once to the coming of the Antichrist (2Th 2:9).

It is notable that the only use of parousia in the Gospels in in Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39. Mt 24:30 describes the "Son of Man coming on the clouds" but the Greek verb for coming is erchomai not parousia. It is interesting (and appropriate) that parousia in the secular Greek writings often referred to the visit of an emperor! (cp Second Coming Rev 19:11-13 and Rev 19:16)

Think about the disciples' request about His coming. What does that imply? Clearly it implies He would depart. Why would they think He was going to depart? If we examine the context, we note that Jesus did allude to His departure in Mt 23:39 stating "from now on you shall not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" In other words, He predicts there is a time when Israel will not see Him. While the disciples may not have fully understood what He meant, the language clearly implies He would not be seen for a time and then He would be seen again ("until you say..."). Another passage the disciples may have had in mind was the Parable in Luke 19:11-15 where we see a "nobleman (~Jesus, Who) went to a distant country" and later "returned after receiving the kingdom." (Lk 19:15) This parable discusses the faithfulness of the nobleman's servants while he was absent. And finally as discussed above the disciples may have recalled Zechariah 14:1-21 which describes Messiah's return to rescue embattled Jerusalem (cp Zech 14:2-3, 4, 6).

So the disciples were requesting a sign of His arrival/presence after departure or a sign of His future Second Coming, depending on which way they were using parousia. Most commentaries feel the disciples were referring to His future coming (but see Stedman and MacArthur below). Regardless of which way one interprets the disciples' question about His parousia, clearly Jesus used parousia to describe His future coming.

PAROUSIA INTERPRETED
AS CHRIST'S ARRIVAL/PRESENCE

Here are two examples of interpretation of parousia in Mt 24:3 as meaning presence rather than Second Coming:

(1) Ray Stedman writes that the disciples did not understand that Jesus must die, be resurrected from the dead, ascend to heaven and come again from heaven. Therefore Stedman feels that when the disciples asked for a sign of His coming, their emphasis was on "His presence in the nation as its King. But, as we shall see in our Lord's answer, He treats it as a legitimate inquiry concerning his Second Advent." (Read Stedman's reasoning in his sermon - The Long Look Ahead - Matthew 24:1-3)

(2) John MacArthur - Coming translates parousia, which has the basic meaning of presence and secondarily carries the idea of arrival. The disciples' question might therefore be paraphrased, "What will be the sign of Your manifesting Yourself in Your full, permanent presence as Messiah and King?" They did not use parousia in the specific and more technical sense that Jesus used it later in this chapter (Mt 24:27, 37, 39) and as it is often used elsewhere in the New Testament in referring to His second coming (see, e.g., 1Th 3:13; 2Th 2:8: 1Jn 2:28). They were not thinking of Jesus' returning, because they had no idea of His leaving, but were thinking rather of His perfected Messianic presence, which they expected Him to manifest presently. (See Matthew Commentary see also his sermons)

THE SIGN OF THE END
OF THE AGE

The end (sunteleia) of the age (aion) - KJV has "end of the world" but that actually is not an accurate translation for Matthew uses aion which is better translated as age, while kosmos is the more common word for world. Vincent adds age (aion) is more correctly a reference to "the existing, current age," not to "the end of all time." So Jesus is not referring to the end of the world but the end of the age. The definite article is present signifying the specific age they were living in at the time. It is the same age we are living in today. The next age is the Messianic Age which of course identifies me as one who takes Scripture literally and believes in a coming time when Messiah rules and reigns on earth. The Messianic age will be followed by the next "age" of the New Heaven and New Earth.

The end (sunteleia) refers not so much to the chronological end (which would occur) but of the consummation or completion of this present age we are living in. It means the bringing together of an intended purpose or accomplishment of its purposes. In other words, when this age ends, it will have come to fulfillment of its purpose so to speak. Heading adds the end is "the word is sunteleia, in which several things coincide so as to reach their climax during the same period."

John MacArthur commenting on end explains that sunteleia is "a compound word that refers to completion, as in the final culmination of a planned series of events. In the disciples' minds the end (sunteleia) of the age (aion) would accompany Jesus' full manifestation of His Messianic power and glory, bringing to a close the era of man's sin and rebellion against God and ushering in the divine kingdom of righteousness and justice (ED: The Millennium 2; The Millennium 3). Jesus used the phrase the end (sunteleia) of the age (aion) in the parable of the wheat and tares and the parable of the dragnet, where in both cases it represented the gathering of the wicked by God's angels in preparation for judgment (Mt. 13:39, 49+). He also used the phrase at the conclusion of the Great Commission, assuring the disciples, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end (sunteleia) of the age (aion)" (Mt. 28:20). The disciples' question was about the ultimate end of the age, not simply the end of an era or epoch of history, but the final end to the present world system of darkness and sin-an end they expected soon." (See Matthew Commentary)

Fruchtenbaum explains that the disciples asked "What will be the sign that the end of this age has begun?" In rabbinic theology of that day, the rabbis spoke of two ages: this age, in which we now live; and the age to come, the Messianic Age. The question is: "What is the sign that the last days of this age have begun and that will lead to the Messianic Age? All together, then, there were three questions in which the disciples asked for three signs to watch for (Ed: See Table below). Jesus answered these questions, but not in the same order as they were asked. He answered the third question first, the first question second, and the second question third. Nor are all three answers found in all three accounts. While Matthew and Mark recorded the answers to the second and third questions, they ignored the answer to the first question. It is Luke who recorded the Messiah's answer to the first question." (Online - Olivet Discourse)

Thomas Constable agrees that "By asking the question this way clearly the disciples believed that Jesus' coming (prophesied in Mt 23:39) would end the present age and introduce the Messianic Age." (Matthew 24 Commentary)

SCRIPTURES ASSOCIATING
SECOND COMING WITH MESSIANIC AGE

The Jewish people failed to recognize Jesus' mission to die as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29), and instead held fast to the hope that He would soon bring in an earthly Messianic Kingdom. While He did not come the first time to bring in the Messianic Kingdom (He would have if Israel had not rejected Him), His return would usher in His glorious kingdom. We see this truth echoed in other passages including ones from Matthew, Luke, Acts and even the OT prophet Daniel.

(1) Matthew - In Matthew 19 Jesus had promised His disciples a place with Him in His future earthly kingdom. They just failed to grasp how far in the future this would be fulfilled!

Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging (present tense) the twelve tribes of Israel. (Mt 19:28+, cf Luke 22:28-30+; cf "Kingdom of God" in Luke 22:16-18+ and similar promises to all believers = Rev 3:21+, Rev 20:4-6+)

MacArthur explains that regeneration here "does not carry its normal theological meaning of personal regeneration (cf. Titus 3:5). Instead, Jesus was speaking of "the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time" (Acts 3:21+). This is a reference to the earthly kingdom described in Rev 20:1-15, when believers will sit with Christ on His throne (Rev 3:21+). (MacArthur Study Bible)

Mt 19:28+ appears to be a reference to a literal, earthly kingdom, for in heaven there will be no need for the disciples (apostles) to sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. This passage is also evidence that God is not "finished with Israel" as is taught in Replacement Theology (Supersessionism) unless one interprets "Israel" in this passage as the Church! Even D A Carson says the most likely interpretation is that "the twelve apostles exercise judgment over the twelve tribes of Israel physically and racially conceived." (Expositor's Bible Commentary-Matthew)

(2) Luke - Luke 19+ records another passage that supports the premise that the Jews (including the disciples) were eagerly looking for the imminent appearing Messianic King and Kingdom.

And while they (Jewish crowd including the disciples) were listening to these things (What things? Lk 19:10+), He went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they (which would include the disciples) supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. (Lk 19:11+)

John MacArthur: Their anticipation was growing with each passing mile and is even suggested by the Greek verb translated appear, which is a nautical term for something becoming visible on the horizon (cf. Acts 21:3). But that earthly kingdom would be delayed, and Jesus would first be rejected by His people (John 1:11), killed, and raised from the dead to provide the sacrifice for salvation. At His return He will establish His earthly millennial rule (cf. Rev. 20:4-6). (See Luke Commentary)

Thomas Constable: The connection between Jesus being almost at Jerusalem and the kingdom appearing immediately implies that the believers in the crowd expected Jesus to begin the kingdom when He arrived there. Jesus had just told Zaccheus that salvation had come to his house that day (Lk 19:9), but salvation would not come to Israel for some time. Even though the Son of Man had come to seek and to save the lost (Lk 19:10), the national deliverance of Israel would have to wait. What follows (Lk 19:12-27) is another of the many passages in Luke that records Jesus' teaching about the future. (Ed: Quoting Tannehill who adds) "In Luke 19:11 the disciples are pictured as expecting something that should have been and could have been apart from the rejection of Jesus. But because of this rejection, the Messianic Kingdom for Israel does not come immediately, as the disciples mistakenly hoped. We see that in Luke-Acts the problem of eschatological delay is intertwined with the problem of Jewish rejection." (Luke 19 Commentary)

Walter L Liefeld - Obviously this parable teaches that Jesus predicted an interval of time between His ascension and return. For the time when the kingdom will be restored to Israel, see the beginning of Luke's second volume (Acts 1:6-7). (Expositor's Bible Commentary, 1984)

(3) Acts - It is notable that the very last question the disciples ask Jesus before His ascension was about the timing of the Messianic Kingdom.

And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:6-8-see commentary on Acts 1:8)

Comment: Notice that Jesus did not correct their belief but explained they the timing of "times or epochs" were in the hands of His Father. He did teach them that they had another mission which was to carry the Gospel to ends of the world. There is little doubt that some 40+ days earlier the disciples' question in Matthew 24:3 reflected their belief that Jesus was about to set up His earthly Messianic Kingdom.

ESV Study Bible: The place of the disciples' assembly was the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12), at the foot of which lay Bethany (Luke 24:50). The disciples asked Jesus when He would restore the kingdom to Israel because they concluded from His resurrection and the promise of the Spirit that the Messianic era had dawned and the final salvation of Israel was imminent. However, they were probably still expecting the restoration of a military and political kingdom that would drive out the Roman armies and restore national sovereignty to Israel, as had happened numerous times in the OT. Jesus corrected them, not by rejecting the question, but by telling them (Acts 1:8) that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit, not in order to triumph over Roman armies but to spread the good news of the gospel throughout the world. In other words, the return is in God's timing; in the meantime, there are other key things believers are to do. (ESV Study Bible BORROW)

Thomas Constable adds: The Old Testament associated Spirit baptism (Ed: Just promised by Jesus in Acts 1:5) with the beginning of the Messianic (millennial) kingdom (Isaiah 32:15-20; Isaiah 44:3-5; Ezekiel 39:28-29; Joel 2:28-32, 3:1; Zechariah 12:8-10). It was natural therefore that the disciples would ask if that kingdom was about to begin in view of Jesus' promise that the Spirit would baptize them in a few days (cf Lk 24:49). "This time" refers to "not many days from now" (Acts 1:5). In the Septuagint, the term "restoration" (Greek apokathistemi) technically refers to God's political restoration of Israel (Psalm 16:5; Jer 15:19; Jer 16:15; Jer 23:8; Ezek 16:55; Ezek 17:23; Hos 11:11). [Note: J. Carroll, Response to the End of History - borrow, p. 146, footnote 124.] The Gentiles had taken the Jews' kingdom from them dating from Nebuchadnezzar's conquest in 586 B.C. Clearly the messianic kingdom is in view here. [Note: See Darrell L. Bock, "Evidence from Acts," in A Case for Premillennialism: A New Consensus, pp. 187-88 - borrow; and Ladd, p. 1125.] "In the book of Acts, both Israel and the church exist simultaneously. The term Israel is used twenty times and ekklesia (church) nineteen times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct." (Acts 1 Commentary)

Richard Longenecker - The question the disciples asked reflects the embers of a once blazing hope for a political theocracy in which they would be leaders (cf. Mark 9:33-34; 10:35-41; Luke 22:24). Now the embers are fanned by Jesus' talk of the coming Holy Spirit. In Jewish expectations, the restoration of Israel's fortunes would be marked by the revived activity of God's Spirit, which had been withheld since the last of the prophets. But though his words about the Spirit's coming rekindled in the disciples their old nationalistic hopes, Jesus had something else in mind. (Expositor's Bible Commentary, 1984)

(4) Daniel - It is possible the disciples were familiar with Daniel's prophecies, including the prophecy in Daniel 2 which clearly linked Jesus' Second Coming (symbolized by the Stone) with the end of this age (The Stone will crush the statue representative of Gentile powers and Gentile dominion will come to an end when the Stone comes!) and the establishment of His Messianic Kingdom.

"You continued looking until a Stone was cut out without hands (the supernatural Stone = Jesus - Ps 118:22, 1Pe 2:4-8), and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them. 35"Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain (symbolizes a "kingdom" - cp Da 2:44) and filled the whole earth. (Da 2:34-35-Commentary)

"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. 45 "Inasmuch as you saw that a Stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy." (Da 2:44-45-Commentary)

Comment: The Stone symbolizes Christ Who at His return will put an end to Gentile dominion (symbolized by the crushing of the statute), thus bringing an end to this age, at which time God will set up His Kingdom which will fill the whole earth. We see the same truth taught in Daniel 7:13-14+ where the Son of Man is given a Kingdom. (Quoted by Jesus as the "sign" of His coming in Mt 24:30; cf the same pattern of the end of the age and of Gentile rule and the beginning of the next age, the Messianic Kingdom in Da 7:26-27+)

The sign (semeion) - Earlier Jesus has referred to the scribes and Pharisees who had asked for "a sign" as "an evil and adulterous generation." (Mt 12:38-39, cp Mt 16:1-4). He did not rebuke the disciples' request for a sign, for their request was not a manifestation of unbelief but of belief. They believed He was coming again and His coming would be associated with the end of the age. They wanted a warning sign regarding the coming events which they clearly believed would soon come to pass.

The parallel passage in Mark 13:4 reads "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?

THREE SURE SIGNS

Below are the three questions (or two questions with the second having two parts) and the signs that signify they are about to take place. Notice that Matthew and Mark do not record the disciples asking Jesus for a sign regarding the destruction of the Temple. However, Luke 21:6-7 records

"As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down." And they questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, when therefore will these things be? And what will be the sign when these things (What things? Lk 21:6 in context = utter destruction of the Temple) are about to take place?""

Note that the sign in Luke 21:20 is not the same as the sign in Mt 24:15. They are clearly distinctly different signs and to attempt to say they are identical signs is an example of not letting the plain sense of the Scriptures say what they say. The result of course will be an incorrect interpretation. To reiterate, Matthew 24 is indeed a difficult prophecy but the three signs are not difficult to identify unless one comes to the text with a preconceived bias or a desire to make Jesus' words fit one's particular system of theological interpretation. And if one fails to read the text literally, a difficult prophecy becomes even more difficult to accurately interpret!

THREE SIGNIFICANT QUESTIONS**
THREE SURE SIGNS

The
Prophetic Event
The
Sign
The
Timing
The Scripture

(1)
Desolation of Jerusalem
Destruction of Temple

WHEN YOU SEE...
Jerusalem
Surrounded
by Armies
Fulfilled
70 AD
Luke 21:20+

(2)
The End of
the Age

WHEN YOU SEE...
Abomination of Desolation
Standing in the Holy Place
Yet
Future
Matthew 24:15

(3)
The Second
Coming

THE SIGN...
The Son of Man
Coming in the clouds
Yet
Future
Matthew 24:30
** Events (2) and (3) are linked because the Second Coming marks the "end of the age" thus many writers say the disciples asked only two questions, the second having two components.

Sign (4592)(semeion akin to semaino = to give a sign; sema = a sign) is a distinguishing mark by which something is known, an object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. Semeion has a basic meaning of something that serves as a pointer to aid perception or insight. A sign directs attention away from its unusual nature to the meaning and the significance it points to.  In Scripture when semeion used of God's miraculous works (that which is contrary to the usual course of nature) it points to spiritual truth. It speaks of outward compelling proof of divine authority. Early in its use this word meant a visible sign which someone saw. For instance, when Constantine was embroiled in battle he saw the sign of a cross and the words, "In this sign conquer." This turned him to Christianity, and he granted toleration to the Christians in 313. Hiebert says signs "are finger posts to a higher reality." Semeion can be a sign, a mark, a token, or a miracle with a spiritual end purpose. In other words a sign can be either natural or supernatural. A sign is an object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. Swindoll writes that "Ancient peoples often viewed "signs" in the sky, such as lightning or eclipses, as omens of terrible things to come (Matt. 16:3). The term sēmeion could also refer to miraculous feats that pointed to a person's supernatural origin or authority (Mt 12:38). In Revelation the term is used to indicate amazing symbolic visions that point to epochal events (Rev. 12:1, 3), but it also refers to false wonders and miracles used by Satan to turn people away from God (Rev 13:13-14)." (See Insights on Revelation)

Semeion in Matthew - Matt. 12:38; Matt. 12:39; Matt. 16:1; Matt. 16:3; Matt. 16:4; Matt. 24:3; Matt. 24:24; Matt. 24:30; Matt. 26:48

The End (Consummation) (4930)(sunteleia from sun = together or an intensifier + teleo = to finish) describes the bringing of something to a successful finish. In a word the noun sunteleia means completion, conclusion, close, end, consummation. It is used 5 times by Jesus Himself in the phrase the "end of the age." (Mt 13:39, 40, 49, 24:3, 28:20). The only other NT use is by the writer of Hebrews who describes "the consummation of the ages." (Heb 9:26). Sunteleia describes the time when several things coincide so as to reach their climax during the same period.

The end - This phrase occurs 9x/9v in Matthew's Gospel and 4 of the uses are in Matthew 24 (Mt 24:3, 6, 13, 14). Five times Matthew uses the specific phrase "the end of the age" and every time the noun for "end" is sunteleia. In the other 4 occurrences of "the end" the noun for "end" is telos.

Here are all the uses of the end in Matthew...note not all are sunteleia...

Matthew 10:22+ "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end (telos) who will be saved (SPIRITUAL SALVATION).

Matthew 13:39+ and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end (sunteleia) of the age (aion) ; and the reapers are angels.

Matthew 13:40+ "So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end (sunteleia) of the age (aion).

Matthew 13:49+ "So it will be at the end (sunteleia) of the age (aion); the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,

ESV Study Bible (BORROW): The judgment that will follow the Son of Man's return at the close of the age to establish His kingdom in its fully realized form. (Bolding added for emphasis).

COMMENT - Notice how this note rightly connects Christ's coming with the consummation of this age and commencement of His Kingdom.

Matthew 24:3 As 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 (sunteleia) of the age (aion)?"

Matthew 24:6 "You 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 (telos).

Matthew 24:13 "But the one who endures to the end (telos), he will be saved. (SPIRITUAL SALVATION)

Matthew 24:14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end (telos) will come.

Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end (sunteleia) of the age (aion)."

Of the Age (165)(aion) usually refers to some aspect of time past, present or future depending on the context: (1) as a segment of contemporary time = lifetime (1Ti 6:17), present age (Lk 16.8, 20:34 = "sons of this age", 1Cor 3:18, 1Cor 1:20, Titus 2:12 = "live....godly in this present age;" Mt 12:32, Mt 13:22 = "cares of this present age" = also in Mk 4:19; 2Ti 4:8 and Ro 12:2 = "this world" = this present age and its ungodly thoughts and actions; 2Cor 4:4 = "god of this world" = of this present age; The end of this period = Mt 13:39-40, 49, Mt 24:3, 28:20); (2) of time gone by past, earliest times (Lk 1.70); (3) of prolonged and unlimited time = eternity (1Ti 1.17); (4) of time to come eternity = age to come (Lk 20.35, BDAG says "the age to come" corresponds to "the Messianic period"); idiomatically (with preposition eis = into) literally into the age = forever, eternally (JN 6.51); In another idiom aion means literally into the ages of the ages = forever and ever, forevermore (Heb 1.8); (5) plural, as a spatial concept, of the creation as having a beginning and moving forward through long but limited time = universe, world (Heb 1.2; 9.26; 11.3)

Aion - uses in Matthew - Matt. 6:13; Matt. 12:32; Matt. 13:22; Matt. 13:39; Matt. 13:40; Matt. 13:49; Matt. 21:19; Matt. 24:3; Matt. 28:20

Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you: kai apokritheis (APPMSN) o Iesous eipen (3SAAI) autois blepete (2PPAM) me tis humas planese (3SAAS):

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

  • Jer 29:8 Mk 13:5,6,22 Lu 21:8 2Co 11:13-15 Eph 4:14 Eph 5:6 Col 2:8,18 2Th 2:3 2Pe 2:1-3 1Jn 4:1
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Jeremiah 29:8  “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream.

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

Ephesians 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

 

JESUS BEGINS TO ANSWER
THE DISCIPLES' QUESTIONS

This passage marks the beginning of Jesus' formal Olivet Discourse, a teaching which is also found in Mark 13 and Luke 21. The Discourse is longest in Matthew (Mt 24:1-25:46). Note that Jesus does not answer their question about the destruction of the Temple in Matthew 24 or Mark 13 but He does answer it in Luke 21:20-24+.

As Hiebert says "Instead of giving them the sign they had requested, Jesus began by alerting them to false signs." 

John MacArthur "The answer Jesus gave is the longest answer (ED: 97 verses in Mt 24-25) given to any question asked in the New Testament, and its truths are absolutely essential for understanding His return and the amazing events associated with it. It is the revelation of our Lord, directly from His own lips, about His return to earth in glory and power (Mt 24:30)." (See Matthew Commentary)

Jesus' first words are a warning which in turn echo a warning from the first sermon (Mt 7:15-23+; cf. Mt 18:12-14).

And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it (blepo) that no one misleads (planao) you - Other versions have "Watch out," "Take heed," Be careful." While the verb see (blepo) means to have sight or look at, it also conveys the sense of to look so as to discern or discriminate and thus it can describe a more intentional seeing as reflected by several NAS renderings in other passages as beware (5x), take care (5x), take heed (5x), and guard (1x). Clearly this is the latter sense is that Jesus intends in this context. Note that the disciples had asked when and what but Jesus does not directly answer their questions but gives them a command in the present imperative which means we are to make this our habitual practice, something possible only as one depends on the Holy Spirit (Who they would have indwelling them a little more than 40 days from now). Jesus is warning that so that they are not deceived and led into error regarding these eschatological events. Louw-Nida adds that planao means to cause someone to hold a wrong view and thus be mistaken. Note that misleads (planao) is a Keyword in Matthew 24 - Mt 24:4, 5, 11, 24. 

As A T Robertson says commenting on misleads (lead you astray) "This warning runs all through the discourse. It is amazing how successful deceivers have been through the ages with their eschatological programs. The word in the passive appears in Matthew 18:12 when the one sheep wanders astray. Here it is the active voice with the causative sense to lead astray. Our word planet comes from this root." (EDplanao is in the subjunctive mood, the mood of possibility, implying that we might be misled!)

H A Ironside reminds us "Satan works by imitation. He seeks to ensnare by counterfeiting everything that is of God. Hence the necessity to be on guard constantly against his deceptions. We need to test everything by the Holy Scripture."

Leon Morris on misleads - When we survey the history of the church, we are reminded that eschatology is certainly a subject on which it is easy to err. Throughout the centuries people have held with the utmost tenacity to a wide range of views on this subject. In our own day there are doughty exponents of pre-, post-, and a-millenarianism to remind us that all the mysteries have not yet been solved and that differing views are still strongly held. Perhaps we should notice Jesus’ care for the future conduct of his followers. We should not think of this passage as simply a demonstration of Jesus’ power to forecast the future; it was a series of prophecies designed to help believers. (BORROW The Gospel according to Matthew

THOUGHT - As will be discussed below, the most crucial sign of the end of this age is found in Matthew 24:15-21 and commentaries that misinterpret the time of fulfilling of this sign (some say it has been fulfilled, others that it is yet to be fulfilled) would in effect be misleading the reader of their commentary. Every reader should avoid reading commentaries (including this one) and instead first choose to observe the words of Jesus and interpret them as one would normal, plain spoken language, not looking for hidden meanings, but for Spirit revealed truth. Indeed, if you are reading these notes, you might take a break from your reading and ask the Father to guide you by His Spirit of truth into all the truth of Jesus' words and to use this truth to edify and equip your heart and mind so that you might stand firm and grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ray Stedman says Jesus "Big Point" is "Don't Be Fooled! - In our understandable haste to come to the great events He predicts for the future, let us not miss the heavy emphasis He makes in this opening word. It is the dominant note of this whole discourse. The age will be a time of great uncertainty as to the meaning of events.

Ed comment: Case in point - one of the finest expositors of our day Dr John MacArthur fell prey to this temptation to read the signs of the times -- He was preaching on Is the Doom of the World Near? in 1972 when the 7 member European Union was planning on adding 3 more members to give it a total of 10. This rightly reminded him of Daniel's prophecy of a coming 10 nation confederacy (cf Da 7:24) and prompted this comment -

From The Los Angeles Examiner, are you ready for this shock? Los Angeles Examiner, October 29th, the last - 1971, listen. "The British decision to join the common market has brought Western Europe to the threshold of its strongest union since the nations involved were tied together as part of the Roman Empire 15 centuries ago." God said the Roman Empire would be revived in the end days. You are seeing it happen. (Ref)

Don't take this wrong - I love Dr MacArthur's verse by verse expository teaching. My point is that if someone as competent as Dr MacArthur is vulnerable to potentially misinterpret the signs of the times, then ALL of us are potentially in danger of misreading the signs of the times. I know because I have been guilty of doing so! As someone once wisely cautioned me, don't obtain your eschatology from the newspaper!

Stedman continues "It will be frightfully easy to misinterpret and therefore be misled. The phrase "lead astray" forms the structure around which the whole message is built. He used it again in Mt 24:5...again in Mt 24:11...Once again in Mt 24:24...Because of this continuing possibility, the Lord's exhortation throughout the message is, "Watch!", i.e., keep your eyes open. Evaluate! Test! Try the spirits! Bring everything to test that you might understand the true character of movements and pressures, for the predominant note of the age will be one of deceit and confusion. Then he proceeds to show to these men that they are already confused in their thinking that the end of the age lies immediately ahead. From Mt 24:5 through Mt 24:14 he clearly indicates that there would be a rather long, indeterminate period before the end of the age would begin (Ed: Note that there is considerable variation in interpreting Mt 24:4-14 - see below). These men knew from the prophet Daniel that the end of the age would not be a single spectacular event but a series of events, covering several years (Ed: I presume Pastor Stedman is referring here to Daniel's Seventieth Week). The Lord begins carefully to trace the age which they could not see, the parenthesis of time in which we now live. If we note carefully the time phrases He employs to lead up to the answer to the disciples' question we shall have no difficulty with this section (Ed: I agree and would add, read it in a literal manner!). He is most emphatically not giving so-called "signs of the times" here. To the contrary, He repeatedly indicates that He is tracing the age. For instance, he says in Mt 24:6, "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet." (The Age of Confusion - Matthew 24:4-14)

All three synoptic Gospels begin with the warning to not be misled (Mt 24:4, Mk 13:5, Luke 21:8) so clearly Jesus' top priority is to avoid deception. But by what would they be misled? Luke's version has Lk 21:8 "See to it that you be not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time is at hand'; do not go after them." So they are not only claiming they are Messiah but also claiming they know the time is at hand. A desire to know or predict the future is an inherent curiosity of most people and presumably it is to this curiosity that these false Messiah's make their appeal.

So the question arises as to how these individuals will be able to lead others astray. It is their claim that they are the Messiah and this claim gives authority and authenticity to whatever they say. And what do they say that misleads others? Matthew and Mark do not directly state what it is these false Messiahs say. Luke however does give us a clue for he records that they claim "The time is at hand." (Lk 21:8+) Does this refer to the time of the Temple destruction or the time of the end? It is hard to say for sure. The point is that they mislead others with their claims of knowledge of future events.

JEWISH BELIEFS REGARDING
THE TIME OF THE END

"Our Rabbis taught: In the seven-year cycle at the end of which the son of David will come . . . at the conclusion of the septennate the son of David will come."

"The idea became entrenched that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by greatly increased suffering . . . This will last seven years. And then, unexpectedly, the Messiah will come."

"A prominent feature of Jewish eschatology, as represented especially by the rabbinic literature, was the time of trouble preceding Messiah's coming. It was called 'the birth pangs of the Messiah,' sometimes more briefly translated as 'the Messianic woes.'"

"Our Rabbis taught: In the seven-year cycle at the end of which the son of David will come . . . at the conclusion of the septennate the son of David will come."

"The idea became entrenched that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by greatly increased suffering . . . This will last seven years. And then, unexpectedly, the Messiah will come."

"A prominent feature of Jewish eschatology, as represented especially by the rabbinic literature, was the time of trouble preceding Messiah's coming. It was called 'the birth pangs of the Messiah,' sometimes more briefly translated as 'the Messianic woes.'"


See to it (look, beware, take care, take heed) (991)(blepo) basically means to have sight, to see, to look at, then to observe, to discern, to perceive with the eye, and frequently implies special contemplation (e.g., often in the sense of "keep your eyes open," or "beware".) Vine adds that blepo expresses "a more intentional, earnest contemplation. In Lk 6:41 = of beholding the mote in a brother's eye; Lk 24:12 = of beholding the linen clothes in the empty tomb. Acts 1:9 = of the gaze of the disciples when the Lord ascended." Louw-Nida adds that "This verb means to be ready to learn about future dangers or needs, with the implication of preparedness to respond appropriately."

Blepo in Matthew - Matt. 5:28; Matt. 6:4; Matt. 6:6; Matt. 6:18; Matt. 7:3; Matt. 11:4; Matt. 12:22; Matt. 13:13; Matt. 13:14; Matt. 13:16; Matt. 13:17; Matt. 14:30; Matt. 15:31; Matt. 22:16; Matt. 24:2; Matt. 24:4

Misleads (deceives) (4105)(planao from plane which describes "a wandering" and gives us our English word planet) means to cause one to wander (cf first use in NT of "straying" sheep = Mt 18:12-13) or to go astray from a specific way. The idea is that outside influence causes the deception that leads one down the wrong path. To cause someone to hold a wrong view and thus be mistaken. To delude or cause one to wander from the Truth of God's Word. In Mt 22:29 Jesus used planao to refute the false belief of His detractors declaring "You are mistaken (NIV = in error; NET = deceived; ESV = wrong), not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God."  In spiritual terms, planao means to be made to err from the right way, the highway of truth and holiness. Straying in the spiritual sense occurs when one does not adhere to the truth (James 5:19+) and/or forsakes the right way (see 2 Peter 2:15+)

Planao - 39x/37v - deceive(3), deceived(9), deceives(3), deceiving(2), go astray(1), gone astray(3), leads...astray(2), led astray(1), misguided(1), mislead(4), misleads(2), misled(1), mistaken(3), straying(2), strays(1), wandering(1). Matt. 18:12; Matt. 18:13; Matt. 22:29; Matt. 24:4; Matt. 24:5; Matt. 24:11; Matt. 24:24; Mk. 12:24; Mk. 12:27; Mk. 13:5; Mk. 13:6; Lk. 21:8; Jn. 7:12; Jn. 7:47; 1 Co. 6:9; 1 Co. 15:33; Gal. 6:7; 2 Tim. 3:13; Tit. 3:3; Heb. 3:10; Heb. 5:2; Heb. 11:38; Jas. 1:16; Jas. 5:19; 1 Pet. 2:25; 2 Pet. 2:15; 1 Jn. 1:8; 1 Jn. 2:26; 1 Jn. 3:7; Rev. 2:20; Rev. 12:9; Rev. 13:14; Rev. 18:23; Rev. 19:20; Rev. 20:3; Rev. 20:8; Rev. 20:10

VARIOUS INTERPRETATIONS
OF MATTHEW 24:4-14

There is clearly not a consensus on how to interpret Mt 24:4-14 even among those who are conservative and interpret the Scripture literally. Here is a brief survey of the various scenarios

(1) Interpretation of Mt 24:4-14 as a description of the general events of the Church Age from Jesus' day leading up to the last seven year period (aka Daniel's Seventieth Week) referred to as the Tribulation.

John Walvoord feels that Mt 24:4-14 are "describing the general characteristics of the age leading up to the end, while at the same time recognizing that the prediction of difficulties, which will characterize the entire period between the first and second coming of Christ, are fulfilled in an intensified form as the age moves on to its conclusion.” (BORROW Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come)

James Montgomery Boice - The first part of Jesus’ answer has to do with bad things that will happen but which are not in themselves signs of the end. He lists these in verses 4–14, then gives a particularly terrible example of such a bad thing in verses 15–22. The signs that are not signs are: (1) false messiahs, (2) wars and rumors of wars, (3) famines and earthquakes, (4) persecutions, (5) apostasy, and (6) false prophets. It is easy to give many examples of these from the early years of church history. But that is not the point. The point is that false teachers, natural disasters, persecutions, forsaking of the faith by many, and false teachers will characterize history. We will always have these things. They are painful, and Jesus likens them to “the beginning of birth pains” (v. 8), but they are not signs that the end of the world is near. These things existed in the disciples’ days, and they have existed in every age of church history up to and including our own. Indeed, some of them have taken a great deal of time to develop—nation rising against nation and the gospel being preached throughout the whole world, for instance. But the followers of Christ are not to be deceived by false teaching on this subject: “The end is still to come” (v. 6). (The Gospel of Matthew)

David Turner (Cornerstone Bible Commentary) Matthew 24:4–14 should be viewed as a summation of the difficulties the church will face in its early days before AD 70—and indeed throughout its existence until Jesus returns (Blomberg 1992:356–357; Hagner 1995:693–694). 

(2) Interpretation of Mt 24:4-8 as general events of the Church Age and Mt 24:9-14 as particular signs of the end of the age.

H A Ironside In verses 4-8 Matthew deals particularly with the characteristics of the entire present age until Christ returns. Then in verses 9-14 he emphasizes the signs of the last days. Verse 15 brings in the beginning of the Great Tribulation, as predicted also in Daniel 12:11. Verses 16-28 give details of that time of trouble. Verses 29-31 bring us to the end of the age and the coming of the Son of man. The rest of the chapter gives illustrations and admonitions, all based on what has gone before.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum - Before the Messiah began to answer any of the three questions, He first provided some general characteristics of the Church Age in Matthew 24:4-6; Mark 13:6-7; and Luke 21:8-9.

Tony Garland on Mt 24:4-8 - Jesus also warned against deception: Don't interpret the general characteristics of the interadvent age (wars, rumors of wars, false Messiahs, famines, pestilences, earthquakes) as an indication that the end has come. These are just the "beginning of sorrows" or birth pangs - the much more intense time of "delivery" is yet to come. Don't be "Christian Littles" running around crying "the sky is falling!" Matthew 24:9-14 - Do these verses pertain to the beginning of sorrows, the interadvent age within which we presently find ourselves? Or do they pertain to the time of the end (after the second sure sign)? I believe verses 9-14 pertain primarily to the time of the end. The grammar of the passage implies the passage concerns the time of the end: The word then (tote) which introduces verses 9, 10, and 11, indicates sequence. The things Jesus describes in these verses most naturally follow upon the “beginning of sorrows” in verse 8. A final then in verse 14 closes the sequence, “then the end will come.” The characteristics described in verses 9-14 are sandwiched between the “beginning of sorrows” and “the end” of the age. The following section (Mt 24:15-22) is linked to this section by the word therefore. It is because of the dangerous characteristics of the end of the age that Jesus then moves on to give explicit instructions concerning the safety of those living in Judea when the end of the age is unambiguously signified by the “abomination of desolation” -- the “second sure sign.” (Characteristics of the End of the Age - Matthew 24:9-14)

Kay Arthur - When He describes THE END Jesus says THEN they are going to deliver you up to persecution (Mt 24:9). The Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place (Mt 24:15) parallels the end time event when Jews will be delivered up to tribulation. So when the Abomination of Desolation stands in the Holy Place, the Jews are to flee to the mountains (Mt 24:16ff) because they are going to be delivered up (Mt 24:9)....So Jesus is saying to the Jews to run away. The following two verses seem to describe parallel events: Mt 24:9: "Then they will deliver you to tribulation." Mt 24:15 "When you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION .. standing in the holy place" So Jesus is showing the Jews what is leading up to HIS COMING and what is leading up to THE END. (Revelation Part 3 - Lecture 5)

(3) Interpretation of all of the events in Mt 24:4-14 as occurring in the seven year tribulation. It is interesting to note that the Seal judgments described in Revelation 6 do show several parallels with the events described by Jesus (see list below).

John MacArthur - "the signs in Matthew 24:4-14 will occur immediately before His coming, not during the church age." (from Signs of Christ's Return, Part 2 - August 30, 2016)

Warren Wiersbe - Matthew 24:1-44 indicates that our Lord was discussing events that will take place on earth during the time of Tribulation. (See Matt. 24:8, where "birth-pangs" are a symbol of the Tribulation; and see also Mt 24:21, 29). After the church has been suddenly taken out of the world, there will be a period of "peace and safety" (1Th 5:1-4) followed by a time of terrible suffering. Many Bible scholars believe this period will last seven years (Da 9:24-27). It is this period of "Tribulation" that Jesus described in the Olivet Discourse. At the end of that period, Jesus will return to the earth, defeat His foes, and establish the promised kingdom....(Mt. 24:4-14) The events described in this section are "the beginning of birth-pangs" (Mt 24:8). The image of a woman in travail is a picture of the Tribulation period (Isa. 13:6-11; 1 Thes. 5:5). (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Warren Wiersbe - The events described in Matt. 24:4-31 will take place during the seven years of tribulation following the rapture of the church. This is the 70th week of Daniel, described in Daniel 9:20-27. This same period of time is described in Rev. 6-19. It is the time when God will pour out His wrath on a rebellious world. . The beginning of sorrows (vv. 4-8).These are the signs that tell the world that judgment is beginning. Note how they parallel the events described in Rev. 6 (see outline). We see these signs in the world today, indicating that the end is near. However, we must admit that many of these signs have always been here, but as we see them getting more intense, we know the coming of the Lord is near. (BORROW Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament)

Thomas Ice - The tribulation is divided in half by the abomination of desolation, mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:15. Thus, Matthew 24:4-14 refers to the first half of the tribulation and are parallel to the first five seal judgments found in Revelation 6.... Matthew 24:4-14 refers to the first half of the tribulation. (ED: See chart of parallels)

John Heading - The breaking of the seals in Rev 6 and their consequences appear to answer to these calamities mentioned by the Lord. Seal 1 shows a conquering religious leader with a crown, answering to the anti-Christ (Rev 6:2; Matt 24:5). Seal 2 shows a leader taking peace from the earth, answering to the wars and rumours of wars (Rev 6:4; Matt 24:6–7). Seal 3 and seal 4 deal with the price of food and with death due to hunger, answering to famines (Rev 6:6, 8; Matt 24:7). Seal 5 shows the souls of those that are slain, answering to “they … shall kill you” (Rev 6:9; Matt 24:9). Seal 6 shows a great earthquake, answering to the earthquakes mentioned by the Lord (Rev 6:12; Matt 24:7).

Thomas Constable - The Jews believed that a seven-year period of time will immediately precede Messiah's coming to rule the world.

Dwight Pentecost interprets Mt 24:4-8 as correlating with the Seal judgments in the Revelation (See his chapter "Israel in the Tribulation" on page 274 in Things to Come - BORROW).

Wycliffe Bible Commentary (written by Homer Kent) - Daniel's seventieth week has two clearly marked halves (Dan 9:27). There is an amazing correspondence between the order of the seals in Rev 6 and the order of events in Mt 24:4-14. Thus these verses must be placed in the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation, after the Church has been raptured. 5. Saying, I am Christ (cf. Rev 6:1, 2; first seal: Anti-christ). Though such tendencies may develop during the church age (1 Jn 4:3), the specific reference is to the final Antichrist and his associates. There is no record of any person's claiming to be Christ between A.D. 30 and 70. 6. Wars and rumors of wars (cf. Rev 6:3, 4; second seal: warfare). 7. Famines (cf. Rev 6:5, 6 third seal: famine). Pestilences and earthquakes ( Cf. Rev 6:7, 8; fourth seal: death for one-fourth of the earth). 8. Beginning of sorrows. Literally, of birthpains, suggesting the travail shortly to be followed by a happier day. 9. Shall kill you (cf. Rev 6:9-11; fifth seal: martyrs). 11. Many false prophets . . . shall deceive many. Cf. 2 Thess 2:8-12. 12. The love of many shall wax cold. The severity of these calamities will cause the majority of Israel to abandon any pretense of piety. 13. But the distinguishing mark of the saved Jewish remnant will be their enduring in faith to the end. 14. Gospel of the kingdom. The good news of salvation in the Messiah, with the emphasis that the Messianic kingdom is about to be established. This message will go into all the world during the Tribulation through the efforts of the two witnesses (Rev 11:3-12) and the sealed remnant of Israel (Rev 7).

(4) Interpret the events in Mt 24:4-14 and Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in the past. This is the classic preterist interpretation.  They interpret the phrase "the end" as a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

Example - R. T. France (The Gospel of Matthew - NICNT) - "(Comment on Mt 24:6) The period from the 30s to the 60s (Ed: Speaking of 30-60 AD) was relatively peaceful in the Roman empire as a whole, but in the east there were wars with Parthia in and after AD 36, and a more local war between Antipas and the Nabatean king Aretas in which the Romans became involved in AD 36-37...the disciples must not get things out of perspective, or be panicked into imagining that "the end" is imminent (Ed: For France "the end" is the destruction of the Temple)....The question which Jesus is here answering was about when the temple would be destroyed, and that is the "end" most naturally understood here....(Comment on Mt 24:7) Such historical records as we have for the first century mention earthquakes in Asia Minor in AD 61and in Italy in AD 62, in Jerusalem in AD 67, and another serious earthquake at an unspecified earlier date in Palestine. A widespread famine around AD 46 is mentioned in Acts 11:28.....(Comment on Mt 24:8) In later rabbinic literature the phrase "the labor pain (always singular) of the Messiah" comes to be used almost as a technical term for the period of suffering preceding the Messiah's coming...It gains its sense from the context, and the context here is of the suffering of Jerusalem which will be more fully described in Mt 24:15-22....(Comment on Mt 24:13) whoever stands firm throughout the historical process which will culminate in the destruction of the Temple will be saved. in the destruction of the temple will be saved. But it is not easy to see what sort of "salvation" fits that scenario. (Ed: Could it be that it is difficult to see because the interpretation is incorrect?).....(Comment on Mt 24:14) This saying ("The gospel...preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations") comes unexpectedly here, not only because it provides a note of hope and triumph in an otherwise threatening context, but also because, like Mt 26:13, it already envisages a world-wide proclamation of the good news. (Ed: France is forced to jettison for a moment his historical past fulfillment stance writing)...the implication seems to be that the "end" will not come until the proclamation has already reached "all over the world." (ED: INTERESTING!) (Bolding added)

Albert Barnes - It is recorded in the history of Rome that violent agitations prevailed in the Roman empire previous to the destruction of Jerusalem.

PARALLELS BETWEEN MATTHEW 24
AND THE SEALS IN REVELATION 6

From the chart below you can see that at least some component of the predictions Jesus made in the Olivet Discourse are found in descriptions of the first 6 Seal judgments, suggesting that the Seals may be fulfillments of several of the predictions in Mt 24:4-14. This would explain why some writers favor all predictions in Mt 24:4-14 as part of the first half of the Seven Year tribulation. I personally cannot be dogmatic but it is certainly interesting to see the parallels. Come to you own conclusion! 

Mt. 24:5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.
Mt 24:11 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. (cf Mk 13:6, Lk 21:8)

FIRST SEAL
Rev 6:2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (ED: Interpreting the rider as the antichrist)

Mt 24:6-7 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars (cf Mk 13:7, Lk 21:9)

SECOND SEAL
Rev 6:4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another (see also Rev 6:8)

Mt 24:7 in various places there will be famines (Mk 13:8, Lk 21:11)

THIRD AND FOURTH SEALS
Rev 6:6-8 to kill...with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Mt 24:9 Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

FIFTH SEAL
Rev 6:9-11 ...avenging our blood...their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been...

Mt 24:7 in various places there will...earthquakes. (Mk 13:8, Lk 21:11)

SIXTH SEAL
Rev 6:12 there was a great earthquake

Matthew 24:5 "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many: polloi gar eleusontai (3PFMI) epi to onomati mou legontes (PAPMPN) ego eimi (1SPAI) o Christos kai pollous planesousin (3PFAI):

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

Amplified For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray.

ESV For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray.

NIV For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

NLT for many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah.' They will deceive many.

  • Mt 24:11,24 Jer 14:14 23:21,25 John 5:43 Ac 5:36,37 8:9,10 Rev 13:8
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passage:

Revelation 13:8+ (FULFILLMENT OF JESUS' PROPHECY OF FALSE CHRISTS) All (NOTE "MANY" IN THE LAST 3.5 YEARS WILL BE "ALL") who dwell on the earth will worship him (THE ANTICHRIST - THE FINAL, CONSUMMATE "FALSE MESSIAH!"), everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain (NOTE THAT THOSE DECEIVED IN THE LAST 3.5 YEARS ARE ALL WHO ARE NOT BELIEVERS).

John 5:43+   “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him (MANY JEWS WILL RECEIVE THE ANTI-CHRIST).

THE COMING OF MANY
FALSE MESSIAHS

For - This is a term of explanation which should always beg the question what is being explained and this will almost always force your to review the preceding context (re-reading is always a worthwhile practice!) And so from the preceding passage, it is clear that Jesus is explaining how the disciples might be misled into believing error(s) especially as related to future world events (eschatology).

As Jesus goes on to explain, false Messiahs, wars and rumors of wars are not "signs of the times" and do not signal the end of this age. These things occurred in Jesus' day and are still operative 2000 years later which is a further indication that they do not herald the end. As Jesus later makes very clear that of "that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (Mt 24:36) He will give some signs that will signal the end of the age is near, but Mt 24:4-7 are not specific (e.g., as I write in Nov, 2023 there are two significant wars in the Ukraine and in Israel, with "rumors" that the latter could become much worse!). However, as summarized above in "Various Interpretations," there is a considerable difference of opinion regarding the interpretation of all of the signs in Mt 24:4-14 and of course the most specific sign in Mt 24:15. 

FALSE MESSIAHS

For (gar) is a term of explanation, which begs the question "What is Jesus explaining?" He has just commanded them to not be misled or led astray and now He explains who it is that will come on the scene to potentially mislead them. 

Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am (ego eimi) the Christ,' and will mislead many - This is a prophecy ("will come.") Note not just one or two but manyIn my Name is more literally upon or on My Name, "that is, on the strength of; resting their claims on the Name Messiah." (Vincent) In effect these imposters will claim to be the long expected Jewish Messiah. I am is the well known ego eimi, the Name Jehovah used of Himself in the Septuagint of Ex 3:14+ and which Jesus used several times in John (Jn 8:58+, et al) thus saying He was Yahweh!, which is exactly what these imposters will declare.

Warren Wiersbe - The Jews have often been led astray by false prophets and false christs. The rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:1-2+ is the Antichrist, that final world dictator who will lead the nations astray (ED: WHILE NOT EVERYONE WOULD AGREE, I THINK WIERSBE IS PROBABLY CORRECT BECAUSE HE COMES WITH A BOW AND NO ARROW, THUS OSTENSIBLY IN PEACE, WHICH IS TAKEN AWAY IN Rev 6:3-4+!) He will begin his career as a peacemaker, signing a covenant with Israel to protect her from her enemies (Dan. 9:27+). Israel will welcome this man as their great benefactor (John 5:43). (ED: AND I BELIEVE THIS IS HOW THEY WILL BE ABLE TO BUILD THE TEMPLE THAT IS DESCRIBED IN Rev 11:1-2+). (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Hiebert - The first person after the time of Jesus Christ definitely known to have claimed to be the Messiah was Barcochba, the leader of the last great Jewish revolt in A.D. 132.

I am the Christ - Matthew alone has the phrase "I am the Christ" ("I am the Messiah" as it is rendered in some versions), whereas Mark and Luke have the phrase "I Am" (ego eimi) which also speaks of the Christ or the Messiah.

Tony Garland - Non-Jewish claimants (in complete contradiction to Scripture) Wikipedia lists 27 people who have claimed to stand in the role of Jesus within the 19th and 20th centuries alone.6 Some are names we recognize from the news headlines: (1) Sun Myung Moon: considered within the Unification Church as the Messiah and the second coming of Christ. (2) Jim Jones: claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus, Buddha, Vladimir Lenin, and Father Divine prior to leading a mass suicide of his followers. (3) Marshall Applewhite: claimed to be Jesus and the Son of God prior to leading his Heaven's Gate cult mass suicide to rendezvous with a space ship hiding behind the comet Hale-Bopp. (4) David Koresh: leader of the Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas. Claimed to be "the Son of God, the Lamb."

Tony Garland - Jewish claimants. Wikipedia lists no less than 27 significant Jewish claimants to date. (1) Simon Bar Kokhba was acclaimed Messiah by Rabbi Akiva following the Jewish revolt against Rome of A.D. 115-117. (Bar Kokhba's name, son of a star, is a reference to the Messianic prophecy of Num. 24:17.) (2) In the 5th century, a pseudo-messiah called Moses appeared in Crete. (3) In the 8th century, three pseudo-messiah's appeared (4) Abu Issa Al-Isfahani in Persia (5) Severus or Serene in Syria (6) Yudghan in Hamadan in Persia - "In 1096, it was believed in Salonica that the deliverance had already begun; and in 1121, a Karaite claimant was reported in Palestine. In 1147, the spectacular David Alroy appeared in Mesopotamia and similar figures are recorded in Yemen, Fez, Persia, Spain, and France in the 11th and 12th centuries. Abraham Abulafia was active in Sicily in the 13th century and was followed in Spain by his disciples, Samuel and Abraham. . . . The Spanish persecution of 1391 produced Moses Botarel; the expulsion (1492) was followed by a number of such figures -- Asher Lamlein (1503), Solomon Molcho (c. 1500 - 1532), and others." (7) Shabbetai Tzevi (1621 - 1676) of Smyrna - "The masses were won over by his emotional sermons and fresh doctrines. . . . In [1662 after marrying a young Jewess in Egypt] he returned to Palestine and in 1665, was hailed as king-messiah by Nathan of Gaza but excommunicated by the rabbis of Jerusalem. Returning to Turkey, Shabbetai was joyfully received by the masses and heaped with honors. The fervor spread throughout the Jewish world and rumors were current of a Jewish army which would advance from the Arabian desert to conquer Palestine. In 1666, he went to Constantinople to 'depose the Sultan' but was arrested and confined in the fortress of Gallipoli. Here he held court and received thousands of followers. . . . Messianic expectations ran high throughout Europe and the rabbinate was sharply divided on the issue. However, Shabbetai's behavior evoked the wrath of the Turkish authorities and to save himself from death, he accepted the Islamic faith. Jewry was shaken by his conversion. . . . Nevertheless, he kept in touch with his admirers until his death, which they held would precede his return as Messiah and Redeemer." (8) Jacob Frank (1726 - 1791) - "Declared himself the Messiah and the successor of Shabbetai Tzevi. . . . His mystical activities were alleged to be accompanied by sexual orgies, the function of which was to bring redemption through impurity." (9) Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902 - 1994) - A prominent Hasidic rabbi who was the seventh and last Hasidic leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Although he himself did not explicitly proclaim to be the Messiah--but only working to bring the Messiah through good works--some of his later statements implied that he thought that he was.15 During his lifetime many of his followers had considered him to be the Jewish Messiah, and even after his death, some continue to await his return as the Messiah." Garland notes that the "antidote" to the false Messiahs is a visible, global sign (Mt 24:30).

Related Resources:

Because eschatology is like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments, it is particularly easy for deceivers to deceive with their contrived, perverted eschatological programs (cp 2Ti 3:13). Thus it behooves every pastor who seeks to preach the "whole purpose" of God's Word (Acts 20:27) to not shy away from prophecy either because of its difficulty or its controversial nature, for otherwise the body is left to the mercy of those who Jesus warns will mislead many.

Hiebert adds that "catching people in the snare of their enthusiasm, such pretenders always gain a following, of sorts. Their success makes them dangerous."

Many - Why? Because they are good imposters and will convince many that they are the Messiah. Notice also that the adjective many will come signifies that this will not be a rare event!

Notice also that clearly the danger of being misled is a key thought in Jesus' answer as the verb planao is used 4 times in the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24:4, 5, 11, 24). The imposters in Mt 24:24 are allowed to carry out "great signs and wonders" which adds to their ability to deceive many. Whether the imposters in Mt 24:4-5 have the same "miracle" producing powers is not clear from the context, but it is certainly possible. These false Christs strictly speaking have the spirit of Antichrist, a word which means instead of Christ and/or against Christ.


Am (1510)(eimi) is a verb which basically expresses being and so means "to be," "to exist," "to happen" or "to be present."  Strictly speaking eimi is the first person singular present tense, indicative mood. Jesus Himself used ego eimi to express His eternal self-existence (without beginning, without end) in Jn 8:58

Ego eimi - Jesus Himself used ego eimi to express His eternal self-existence (without beginning, without end) in Jn 8:58 = ""Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." He was saying He was Yahweh (I Am the One Who Is). Jesus is clearly claiming that He is God! The Jehovah's Witness New World Translation (2013) translates Jn 8:58 incorrectly as "I have been" which Greek scholars say is absolutely incorrect! Compare other "I Am" statements by Jesus = Jn 4:26, 8:24, 28, 13:19, 18:5, 6 ["they drew back and fell to the ground!" = His Name "I Am" literally knocked an entire band of from 300-600 soldiers backward abruptly and hard onto the ground! His Name is indeed powerful!], Jn 18:8. see similar use in Ex 3:14 above). In Ge 17:1 God addresses Abram declaring "I am (ego eimi) God" (cp similar uses in Ge 26:24, 31:13, 46:3, Ex 3:6, 7:5, 8:18, 14:4, 18, 20:2, 29:46, etc). Note that there are about 174 uses of "ego eimi" in the Septuagint and 48 uses in the NT, but not all uses refer to God (e.g., Mt 14:27). There are 24 uses of ego eimi in John's Gospel and most do refer to the Messiah. E.g., in the first occurrence, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman "I Am" (ego eimi) (Jn 4:26) when she made a reference to the Messiah (Jn 4:25). In fact ego eimi introduces His great "I am" statements in John = "I am"..."the bread of life" (Jn 6:35, 41, 48, 51), "the Light of the world," (Jn 8:12), "the door" (Jn 10:7, 9), "the good shepherd" (Jn 10:11, 14), "the resurrection and the life," (Jn 11:25), "the Way and the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14:6); "the true Vine" (Jn 15:1, 5). At Paul's conversion on the Damascus Road Jesus told him "I am (ego eimi) Jesus Whom you are persecuting." (Acts 9:5). In the final use of ego eimi in Scripture Jesus affirms "I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." (Rev 22:16)

Matthew 24:6 "You 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: mellesete (2PFAI) de akouein (PAN) polemous kai akoas polemon horate (2PPAM) me throeisthe (2PPPM) dei (3SPAI) gar genesthai (AAN) all oupo estin (3SPAI) to telos:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

KJV And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

NET You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come.

ESV And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.

NIV You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

NLT And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don't panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won't follow immediately.

YLT and ye shall begin to hear of wars, and reports of wars; see, be not troubled, for it behoveth all these to come to pass, but the end is not yet.

ASV And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet.

  • hearing: Jer 4:19-22 6:22-24 8:15,16 47:6 Eze 7:24-26 14:17-21 Eze 21:9-15,28 Da 11:1-45 Mk 13:7,8 Lu 21:9
  • see: Ps 27:1-3 46:1-3 112:7 Isa 8:12-14 12:2 26:3,4,20,21 Hab 3:16-18 Lu 21:19 Jn 14:1,27 2Th 2:2 1Pe 3:14,15
  • must: Mt 26:54 Lu 22:37 Ac 27:24-26
  • but: Mt 24:14 Da 9:24-27
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages:

Luke 21:9+ “When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.”

Mark 13:7+ “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.

WARS AND RUMORS
NON-SIGNS

You will be hearing - Continually hearing. Wars and rumors are clearly not specific of the end. While the first source of deception was external (false Messiahs), this source is "internal" as it were since it is based on their own misinterpretation of the events of history.

Wars and rumors of wars - This is the second false basis (first is false Messiahs) for believing the end is at hand. Wars and rumors of wars have been going on throughout the centuries, so they are not a markers of the end. Jesus Himself makes it clear that these things "must take place, but this is not yet the end."

See (horao) that you are not frightened - Wars and rumors of wars are frightening to be sure (I AM WRITING FALL, 2023 AND WAR IS RAGING IN ISRAEL AS THEY SEEK TO ANNIHILATE HAMAS AFTER A BRUTAL ATTACK ON ISRAEL - THE POSSIBLE SCENARIOS ARE INDEED FRIGHTENING IF IRAN WERE TO ENTER THE WAR AS NUCLEAR WEAPONS MIGHT COME INTO PLAY!) but Jesus issues two commands (verbs in bold red) to counter the natural human reaction of fear.

Both commands are in the present imperative which calls for this to be one's lifestyle, one's habitual practice. "Not frightened" is preceded by a negative (Gk = "me") which can be translated one of two ways - (1) Stop being frightened, implying this emotion has set in and/or (2) Don't let this (fright) begin. And remember that whatever God (Jesus) commands, He enables us to obey. How? By daily, moment by moment yielding to and depending on the Holy Spirit Who is continually at work in us, continually energizing our wills to obey and giving us the desire and the power to obey. Paul says it this way in the letter to the Philippians...

Work out (present imperative) your salvation with fear and trembling for (term of explanation = explains how we can even obey the command of Phil 2:12!) it is God Who (Who? The Spirit of Christ forever indwells us) is at work (energeo in present tense = continually "energizing") in you, both to (present tense = continually) will and to (present tense = continually) work for His good pleasure. (Phil 2:12b+, Phil 2:13+)

The New Living Translation is a helpful paraphrase - "For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him." (Phil 2:13NLT)

For those things must (deitake place, but that is not yet the end - He is explaining why they would hear of wars and rumors of wars. Hiebert adds that "These national convulsions have not been preordained by divine decree but arise as the inevitable consequences of human depravity. They are the natural results of human nature separated from God and ruled by self-interest. They are divinely permitted as part of God's eschatological program for this world, which includes judgment as well as salvation." 

Lowery on those things must (deitake place - The world is a chaotic place. It is the (necessary) consequence of living in a fallen world. Disciples should not think that human or natural disasters, however tragic, signal the end. These are but the prelude (Mt 24:8) to a truly catastrophic finale (Mt 24:21). Disciples must keep their balance and stay faithful. (Ibid)

But that is not yet the end (telos) - Some (especially the "false Messiahs") may interpret the events in Mt 24:4-6 as signaling the end, but it is not. Stated another way, Jesus is saying that these events are not "signs of the times" that signal the end is near. They simply reflect the course one would expect a sinful world to pursue.

Notice also that (contrary to what a number of writers suggest) Jesus is not speaking of the "end" of the Temple nor of the end of the world, but of the end of the age. Hiebert adds that "The end is the eschatological goal of history, the final establishment of God's kingdom on earth."

The end - Jesus will give a clear, unmistakable visual event in Mt 24:15 that will mark the beginning of the end of the age. He does not want His disciples to be misled or frightened by these tumultuous events. It reminds me of folks who during WWII said that Hitler was the Antichrist. While he certain manifested the spirit of antichrist in slaughtering millions of Jews, he was not the Antichrist because the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15 (2Th 2:2-4+) had not yet occurred. In fact there was no Temple (holy place) in Jerusalem in which one could have even stood in World War II.


See (3708)(horao) is not merely the act of seeing, but also the actual perception of the object. The idea is to take special notice of something and discerning clearly.

Frightened (2360) (throeo from threomai = the cry or wail; Thayer says throeo is derived from thros = clamor, tumult) means to cry aloud or scream and in the passive sense means to be inwardly aroused, to be disturbed, to be frightened, to be startled. Throeo speaks of the alarm occasioned by a sudden cry or of mental uneasiness in general. The present tense points to a continued state of agitation following reception of a definite shock and thus describes a state of jumpiness. Jesus does not want this to be the emotional state of His disciples when they hear of wars, etc. Throeo is used only 3x (Mt 24:6; Mk 13:7; 2Th 2:2) all three uses in the context of eschatological events. Throeo is used once in Septuagint in Song 5:4 to described the woman's "feelings aroused (stirred, thrilled within) for him." Throeo in Liddell-Scott-Jones (primarily refers to secular Greek uses) - (1a). cry aloud, (1b). c. acc., tell out, utter aloud, (2) causal, scare, terrify — Pass., to be stirred. moved, of joy. Thayer on throeo - in Greek writings to cry aloud, make a noise by outcry; in the NT to trouble, frighten; passive present = to be troubled in mind, to be frightened, alarmed.

Mark 13:7 "And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.

2 Thessalonians 2:2 that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

Must (1163)(dei from deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison and also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but needful (binding) out of intrinsic necessity or inevitability. Why are these things a "must?" One interpretation is that they must occur because that is what the sovereign God has decreed and all of "history" is in His hands. Yes, He allows personal choices, but mysteriously and powerfully He will bring all of the events of History to His desired end. As someone has said "History" is His Story!

End (5056)(telos) means a completion, consummation, goal achieved or result attained. It does not speak of annihilation. John Heading adds that telos "means in Matt 24 the final completion of the end period just described—the final crash. It appears in the phrases “but the end is not yet” (Mt 24:6); “he that shall endure unto the end” (Mt 24:13): “then shall the end come” (Mt 24:14). Dan 7:13–14, when the Son of man comes with the clouds, deals with this event." 

Matthew 24:7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes: egerthesetai (3SFPI) gar ethnos epi ethnos kai basileia epi basileian kai esontai (3PFMI) limoi kai seismoi kata topous:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

KJV For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

NET For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

  • nation: 2Chr 15:6 Isa 9:19-21 Isa 19:2 Eze 21:27 Hag 2:21,22 Zec 14:2,3,13 Heb 12:27
  • famines: Isa 24:19-23 Eze 14:21 Joe 2:30,31 Zec 14:4 Lu 21:11,25,26 Ac 2:19 11:28
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Synoptic Parallels:

Luke 21:10+ Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (NOTEWords in bold only found in Luke's version). 

Mark 13:8+ “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (NOTE: Words in bold are in Mt 24:8)

Great Earthquakes (1900-2017)
Click to Enlarge

A WHOLE LOTTA SHAKING
GOING ON

 

For (gar - in Mt 24:5, 6, 7, 21, 24, 27, 37, 38)  term of explanation - What is Jesus explaining? He is explaining those things which must (will) take place before the end of this present age (cf phrase "must...take place" in Rev 1:1+, Rev 4:1+, Rev 22:6+), before He returns to put an end to lawlessness and bring in His 1000 year reign of righteousness, that "divine idyllic utopia" that the world has been desperately, futilely seeking since the Garden of Eden!

Nation (ethnoswill rise (egeiro) against nation (ethnos), and kingdom (basileia) against kingdom (basileia) - This is confirmation of the preceding statement about wars and rumors of wars.

We see a similar prophecy in Isaiah - Isaiah 19:2 “So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; And they will each fight against his brother, and each against his neighbor, City against city, and kingdom against kingdom."

While I do not necessarily agree with Arnold Fruchtenbaum's interpretation of nation...against nation, it is interesting and is presented for completeness. Fruchtenbaum writes "To understand what the idiom "nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" means, it is necessary to return to the Jewish origin of these statements....This expression is a Hebrew idiom for a world war. Jesus' statement here is that when a world war occurs, rather than merely a local war, that world war would signal that the end of the age had begun....The sign that the end of the age has begun is the worldwide conflict fulfilled by World War I and World War II. (ED: THIS IS THE STATEMENT WHICH AM NOT CERTAIN CAN BE SUBSTANTIATED FROM SCRIPTURE)" (See his full commentary on The Olivet Discourse)

Famines and earthquakes - Note that neither Matthew 24:7 nor Mark 13:8+ mentions plagues nor that there will be terrors and great signs from heaven as does Luke's version (See Lk 21:10 commentary). There is nothing intrinsically specific about famines and earthquakes.  Both of these events have been going on since Jesus spoke these words and they will continue to the end. Indeed, these catastrophic events will reach a climax in the time of the very end of the age, which most conservative commentators equate with the horrible events John describes in Revelation 6-19...

FAMINES IN THE REVELATION

Revelation 6:5-6+ When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Revelation 6:8+ (CORRESPONDS TO TIME OF THE SEAL JUDGMENTS)  I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Revelation 18:8+ (CONTEXT = REVELATION 17-18 ARE AN AMPLIFICATION OF GOD'S 7TH BOWL JUDGMENT SUMMARIZED IN Rev 16:19b+ "Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.")  “For this reason in one day her (BABYLON THE GREAT - Rev 18:2+plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.

Comment: The word "plague" is used 71 times in the Old and New Testaments and 13 uses are found in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, ALL occurring during the times of the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments - Rev. 9:18Rev. 9:20Rev. 11:6Rev. 15:1Rev. 15:6Rev. 15:8Rev. 16:9Rev. 16:21Rev. 18:4Rev. 18:8Rev. 21:9Rev. 22:18

EARTHQUAKES IN THE REVELATION

Revelation 6:12-16+ (NOTE THE RAPID CONVERGENCE OF NATURAL/SUPERNATURAL EVENTS THAT WILL MARK THE 6th SEAL. IT WILL BE VERY OBVIOUS TO ANYONE WHO HAS A COPY OF THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THEY WILL KNOW THAT GOD IS IN CHARGE AND IS SHAKING THE WORLD!) I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;

Revelation 8:5+  Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake

Revelation 11:13+  (NOTE THE SPECIFIC "MARKERS" ASSOCIATED WITH THIS EARTHQUAKE - THIS PIVOTAL EVENT CORRESPONDS TO THE END OF THE 2nd WOE [6th TRUMPET] AND THE BLOWING OF THE 7th TRUMPET WHICH  APPEARS TO MARK THE BEGINNING OF THE LAST 3.5 YEARS) And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 

Revelation 11:19+  And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

Revelation 16:18+  (And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.

Stu Weber - Famine was foretold in the Pentateuch as a sign of God’s judgment for covenant disobedience (Lev. 26:18+, Lev 20:26–27+; Deut. 28:23–24, 38–42, 47–48, 53–57+). (SEE Holman New Testament Commentary - Matthew)

J Vernon McGee on famine -  Right now the population explosion has the world frightened and rightly so (ED: THIS WAS WRITTEN IN THE 1980'S). People are starving to death by the thousands and the millions. And this situation is going to increase. The old black horse of famine (see Rev. 6:5–6) hasn’t appeared yet, but at the end of the age the black horse and its rider will come forth. What we see today is just the beginning of sorrows. (BORROW Matthew - Matthew 14-28)

Warren Wiersbe writes "I have a friend who has been keeping track of the earthquakes that have occurred in recent years. Another prophetic student has a list of all the wars and attempted invasions. Both have overlooked the fact that Jesus said that wars, earthquakes, pestilences, and famines by themselves are not signs of His soon return. These things have been going on throughout the history of the world." (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Comment: While I agree with Dr Wiersbe, Jesus does call these things "Birth pangs" (Mt 24:8, Mk 13:8) which suggest they will increase in intensity and number as the end of the age draws near (As a physician I had the privilege of participating in the birth of a number of babies and would carefully monitor the frequency and intensity of the mother's contractions [aka "birth pangs"], which would increase to their peak at delivery). However, these events should never be used to "set dates," for no one knows the hour or day of Jesus' return which heralds the end of this present age! Mt 24:36+, cf Acts 1:7+

Hendriksen - throughout the centuries there have been violent earthquakes. For example: On Nov. 1, 1755, 60,000 people perished at Lisbon, Portugal; in 1783 the great Calabrian earthquake occurred with the death of an estimated 30,000; in 1857 the Neapolitan earthquake took more than 12,000 lives. There was also the Charleston earthquake in 1886; the Assam in 1897; the one in California in 1906, which destroyed a considerable section of San Francisco; the one in Messina in 1908; in Avezzano, Italy in 1915; several in Turkey, from 1939 until very recently; the one that shook Kansu Province, China, in 1920; the one that hit Japan, in 1923, wrecking parts of Tokyo and Yokohama; those in Chile, in 1939, 1960, and even more recently; the devastating earthquake in Peru, 1970; etc. Ancient historians and philosophers—such as Thucydides, Aristotle, Strabo, Seneca, Livy, and Pliny—describe similar seismic phenomena in their days. And as early as the year 1668 Robert Hooke wrote his work bearing the title, Discourse on Earthquakes (see page 278). A certain author counted no less than seven hundred disturbances of this nature, great and small, which had occurred in the nineteenth century! (ED: See Earthquake map - you will be surprised at how many earthquakes occurred yesterday!) (BORROW Exposition of the gospel according to Matthew)

As an aside several years ago a church we attended had a mission's conference and asked for booths from each Sunday School class (yes, they did exist at one time in the past! What a tragedy they are now considered archaic! They were not perfect, but they did provide a place where one could efficiently dig a little deeper into the Scriptures -- instead of having to plan and orchestrate another "small group" meeting, which is logistically difficult for young families and which may or may not have an individual with the gift of teaching. They were also conducive to close fellowships! Sorry but I had to get on my "soapbox!") Our class (really it was my wife Marty's idea) proposed we would use a world map and then simply document the locations of the earthquakes over the recent past. What we discovered to our utter shock was that there was a very real concentration of severe earthquakes over the so-called "10/40 Window," which of course has the most unreached people groups in the world. Given that calamities often cause people to cry out "O God," or "Help God," one cannot help but wonder if God had brought about these earthquakes in order that the peoples might cry out for the Gospel and be saved (See Earthquake Map above). 

Related Resources:


Nation (Gentile) (1484)(ethnos gives us our word "ethnic") in general refers to a multitude (especially persons) associated with one another, living together, united in kinship, culture or traditions and summed up by the words nation, Gentiles (especially when ethnos is plural), people (much like "people groups" in our modern missionary vernacular). In somewhat of a negative sense ethnos conveys the meaning of godless (generally idol worshiping) pagans (heathens, cp Eph 4:17, Mt 6:32), foreign nations not worshipping the true God (Mt 4:15). Often ethnos stands in clear contradistinction to Jew (Ioudaios) (Gal 2:14+ - "Gentiles...Jews" twice). With the definite article "ta ethne" the meaning is Gentiles (non-Jews) as contrasted with Jews (Mt 6:32; 10:18; Acts 11:1, 18; 14:5; Ro 3:29). 

Ethnos in the Gospels - Matt. 4:15; Matt. 6:32; Matt. 10:5; Matt. 10:18; Matt. 12:18; Matt. 12:21; Matt. 20:19; Matt. 20:25; Matt. 21:43; Matt. 24:7; Matt. 24:9; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 25:32; Matt. 28:19; Mk. 10:33; Mk. 10:42; Mk. 11:17; Mk. 13:8; Mk. 13:10; Lk. 2:32; Lk. 7:5; Lk. 12:30; Lk. 18:32; Lk. 21:10; Lk. 21:24; Lk. 21:25; Lk. 22:25; Lk. 23:2; Lk. 24:47; Jn. 11:48; Jn. 11:50; Jn. 11:51; Jn. 11:52; Jn. 18:35

Famines (3042)(limos from leipo = to fall short, be destitute or be in need) can refer to a literal hunger or famine, and in a metaphoric sense one’s mind might be said to be “hungry, starved.” Famines will be part of the end times scenario according to Jesus (Mt 24:7, Mk 13:8, Lk 21:11). Famine forced Jacob to take his family to Egypt where he met his lost son Joseph (Acts 7:11, cf Ge 50:20). In Romans 8 Paul assures believers that nothing, including famine "can separate us from the love of Christ." (Ro 8:35+). John writes about the famine in the end times stating that "Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth." (Rev 6:8+). In the last NT use of limos, John describes the destruction of Babylon, writing "For this reason (see Rev 18:7) in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong." (Rev 18:8+)

Limos - 12x/12v - famine(7), famines(3), hunger(2). Matt. 24:7; Mk. 13:8; Lk. 4:25; Lk. 15:14; Lk. 15:17; Lk. 21:11; Acts 7:11; Acts 11:28; Rom. 8:35; 2 Co. 11:27; Rev. 6:8; Rev. 18:8

Earthquakes (4578)(seismos from = to shake) means an agitation or shaking as a series of violent movements, usually of the earth, but once of a storm or tempest at sea (Mt  8:24). One can picture the height of the huge waves in this supernatural seismos! No wonder the disciples thought they were perishing (Mt 8:25)!

William Mounce - Earthquakes are known throughout the Mediterranean region and particularly in eastern Palestine. Geologically, this is because of the movements of the African and Arabian tectonic plates against the Eurasian plates. Earthquakes in the Bible are often seen as divine acts with theological significance. A violent seismos shakes the foundation of the prison holding Paul and Silas; the doors fly open, enabling all the prisoners to escape (though no one does; Acts 16:26). A seismos also occurs in connection with significant events such as the death of Jesus (Mt 27:54) and his resurrection (Mt 28:2). In Revelation, an earthquake announces the opening of sixth seal by Jesus (Rev 6:12) and the opening of God’s heavenly sanctuary (Rev 11:19). Earthquakes are among the cataclysmic events that will occur in the days of judgment accompanying the last days (Mt 24:7; Mk 13:8; Lk 21:11; Rev 8:5; 11:13; 16:18). (SEE Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary)

Seismos - 14x/12v - earthquake(10), earthquakes(3), storm(1). Matt. 8:24; Matt. 24:7; Matt. 27:54; Matt. 28:2; Mk. 13:8; Lk. 21:11; Acts 16:26; Rev. 6:12; Rev. 8:5; Rev. 11:13; Rev. 11:19; Rev. 16:18

Seismos - 15x in 15v in the Septuagint Est. 1:1; Job 41:29; Isa. 15:5; Isa. 29:6; Jer. 10:22; Jer. 23:19; Jer. 47:3; Ezek. 3:12; Ezek. 3:13; Ezek. 37:7; Ezek. 38:19; Amos 1:1; Nah. 3:2; Zech. 14:5 - Below are some examples...

Ezekiel 38:19+  “In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day (ED: "on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel" - Ezek 38:18) there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.

Amos 1:1  The words of Amos, who was among the sheepherders from Tekoa, which he envisioned in visions concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake

Zechariah 14:5+  You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! 

Matthew 24:8 "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs: panta de tauta arche odinon:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

Amplified All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish].

KJV All these are the beginning of sorrows.

ESV All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

NLT But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

YLT and all these are the beginning of sorrows;

ASV But all these things are the beginning of travail.

  • Lev 26:18-29 Dt 28:59 Isa 9:12,17,21 10:4 1Th 5:3 1Pe 4:17,18
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

1 Thes 5:3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.

Jeremiah 30:6-7+ (NOTE DESCRIPTION AKIN TO BIRTH PANGS) Ask now, and see If a male can give birth. Why do I see every man With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale?  7  ‘Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it. 

NOT SIGNS OF THE END BUT
OF THE BEGINNING

But - This is a term of contrast. What is Jesus contrasting? It would seem to be all of the tumultuous events described in Mt 24:6 (and possibly Mt 24:5). Birth pangs is a vivid, easily understood figure of speech that indicates a birth is coming soon. In context the "birth" of greatest note is the return of the Righteous One, our Redeemer and King Who will crush the Gentile powers (Da 2:34-35+, Da 2:44-45+) and bring in (birth if you will) His glorious earthly kingdom.

All these things - To what does all these things refer? Many coming in the Name of Jesus and misleading many (Mt 24:5), wars, rumors of wars (Mt 24:6), nations and kingdoms rising against one another, famines and earthquakes (Mt 24:7).

The beginning of birth pangs (odin) - When birth pangs (odin) begin, birth generally soon follows. Having delivered a number of babies, it has been my experience that as one gets closer to the actual delivery of the baby, the birth pangs increase in quality and quantity. It would appear that Jesus' figure of speech at least implies that birth pangs (wars, earthquakes, etc) will increase in number and intensity as the end draws near.

Birth pangs (odin)  speak of hope for the pain will pass and give way to a "new birth" and in this case it will be a "new age," the Messianic Age which will follow the end of the age and a New Heaven and New Earth.

Renald Showers has an entire chapter on The Birth Pangs of the Messiah in his excellent book Maranatha Our Lord Come (BORROW). I would highly recommend checking it out from archive.org (free) and reading this interesting chapter

MacArthur - The figure of birth pains was commonly used by ancient Jewish writers, especially in regard to the end times (ED: SEE BELOW). The great modern Jewish scholar Alfred Edersheim wrote, "Jewish writings speak very frequently of the labor pains of Messiah." Labor pains do not occur at conception or throughout pregnancy but just before birth. The figure of birth pains therefore would not have been appropriate to represent either the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred very near the beginning of the church age, or the church age as a whole....Labor pains do not begin until shortly before delivery time, and they occur with increasing frequency until the baby is born. In the same way, the events connected with the Lord's return will not begin until just before His return, and they will occur with increasing rapidity, building up to an explosion of catastrophic events. The same epoch is pictured in the book of Revelation, as the seal judgments unfold over a period of perhaps years (see Rev 6:1-8:6), the trumpet judgments over a much shorter period of time, perhaps weeks (see Rev 8:7-9:21; Rev 11:15-19), and the bowl judgments over the period of perhaps a few days or even hours (see Rev 16:1-21) (ED: AND THERE IS ALSO AN INCREASING SEVERITY IN THE JUDGMENTS AS ONE PROGRESSES FROM THE SEALS TO THE TRUMPETS AND TO THE BOWLS). (SEE Matthew 24-28 MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Renald Showers documents that birth pangs were a well-known teaching in ancient Judaism...

The Babylonian Talmud states, “Our Rabbis taught: In the seven-year cycle at the end of which the son of David will come… at the conclusion of the septennate the son of David will come. (Sanhedrin 97a, in The Babylonian Talmud)

Raphael Patai, writing on the Messianic texts, said, “The idea became entrenched that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by greatly increased suffering… This will last seven years. And then, unexpectedly, the Messiah will come.” (Raphael Patai, The Messianic Texts)

Millar Burrows pointed this out in his book on the Scrolls: “A prominent feature of Jewish eschatology, as represented especially by the rabbinic literature, was the time of trouble preceding Messiah’s coming. It was called ‘the birth pangs of the Messiah,’ sometimes more briefly translated as ‘the Messianic woes.’” (Shabbath, 118a, in The Babylonian Talmud )

In light of Judaism’s teaching concerning the severity of the birth pangs to precede the Messiah’s coming, some rabbis have expressed the wish not to be alive when the Messiah comes. One said, “Let him come, but let me not see him.” (Sanhedrin 98b, in The Babylonian Talmud )

Raphael Patai wrote, “The teaching which gained general acceptance was that by occupying oneself with Tora study and deeds of charity, one can escape the Messianic sufferings.” Thus, ancient Judaism had the hope of escaping the birth pangs of the Messiah of the last seven years prior to His coming to rule the world. (BORROW Maranatha Our Lord Come - See page 20)

Note that there is not a consensus on when the events in Matthew 24 occur, so be a Berean as you read the following notes! 

Louis A. Barbieri, Jr. writes "Jesus began to describe the events leading up to His return in glory and to indicate signs of that return. In this section (Matt. 24:4–8) He described the first half of the seven-year period preceding His second coming. That period is called the Seventieth Week of Daniel (Dan. 9:27). (However, some pre-millenarians hold that Christ in Matt. 24:4–8 spoke of general signs in the present Church Age and that the time of trouble begins at Mt 24:9. Others hold that Christ spoke of general signs in  Mt 24:4–14, with the Tribulation beginning at Mt 24:15.) The events described in Mt 24:4–8 correspond somewhat to the seven seals in Revelation 6 (ED: SEE LIST BELOW)." (See Bible Knowledge Commentary page 76).

Messianic Jewish commentator Arnold Fruchtenbaum and well known Bible teacher Kay Arthur favor Mt 24:9 as marking the last 3.5 years of the Seven Year Tribulation. The logic is that when one compares Mt 24:9-14 with the events of Revelation 13 (WHEN ANTICHRIST ASSUMES WORLD POWER FOR 3.5 YEARS WHERE "BEAST" = ANTICHRIST), all humanity will be forced to take the mark of the Beast (666) and worship him or be killed  (Rev 13:15-18). At that time the hatred of the Antichrist will be such that all who refuse to worship him, instead choosing to follow Christ, will be betrayed, hated, hunted, persecuted and martyred (cf Rev 7:9, 14).

On the other hand John MacArthur interprets the timing of the events in Mt 24:4-14 as occurring in the first part of the seven year tribulation, during the first 3.5 years, preceding the beginning of the Great Tribulation which will occur in the second 3.5 years.

While it is difficult to dogmatic regarding the when the first of the 7 seals of Revelation is broken by Jesus, the most logical conclusion is that the seals are broken in the first half of the Seven Year period commonly referred to as the Tribulation. In the following tabulation note that 6 of the events described by Jesus in Matthew 24:4-14 are similar to events described in the breaking of the first 6 Seals. This observation would lend some support to the interpretation of the events in Mt 24:4-14 as occurring in the first part of the seven year tribulation.

There are several parallels between the events Jesus describes as beginning of birth pangs in Matthew 24 and the first 6 seal judgments in Revelation 6:1-14. This would explain why some interpret Mt 24:4-9 as occurring in the time of the last 7 year tribulation (See list above e.g., John MacArthur, Dwight Pentecost-see above, Homer Kent in the Wycliffe Bible Commentary-see above)

1. False Messiahs (Mt. 24:5, 11; Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8; Rev. 6:2).

2. Wars (Mt. 24:6-7; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9; Rev. 6:4).

3. Famines (Mt. 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:10; Rev. 6:5-6,8).

4. Pestilences (Luke 21:11; Rev. 6:8).

5. Persecution (Mt. 24:9; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-17; Rev. 6:9-11).

6. Earthquakes (Mt. 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11; Rev. 6:12).

7. Cosmic Phenomena (Mt. 24:29; Mark 13:24-25; Luke 21:11; Rev. 6:12-14).


Birth pangs (5604) odin from odune = sorrow, torment, grief, pain, distress of body or mind) is found in the secular Greek writings from Homer (Iliad 11,271) down and primarily refers to the the pain of childbirth and so is rendered labor pain or birth-pang. In secular Greek usage, metaphorically, odin referred to any travail or anguish. Jesus used the picture of the intense agonizing pains of childbirth as a metaphorical description of the intense anguish men will experience because of the dramatic calamities which will precede His Second Coming. (Mt 24:8, Mk 13:8) Luke uses odin to describe the agonies that Jesus experienced associated with His death (Acts 2:24). In the present passage, Paul uses odin to describe the Day of the Lord (1Th 5:2), emphasizing that even as labor pains often have a sudden onset, the destruction associated with the Day of the Lord will unexpectedly overtake those who live in self-security. Bauman says the birth pangs are "recurring spasms of pain which are not subject to conscious control, curing which the woman in labor writhes—a process that can be accompanied by a sense of fear or anxiety, screams, and groans.” (BORROW Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament ) In the OT a similar phrase is a "woman in labor" (Lxx = odin in Isa. 21:3; Isa. 26:17)

Showers writes that "The Scriptures describe the physical effects of being seized by birth pangs—the loins are filled with pain, the heart faints, the knees tremble, the face flushes with anxiety (Isa. 13:7–8; Nah 2:10), the hands become helpless (Jer. 6:24), and the voice groans and cries (Isa. 26:17; Jer. 4:31; Mic. 4:9). Thus, birth pangs involve a state of “involuntary and uncontrolled spasmodic movement, to which the body is surrendered, accompanied by a sense of weakness and heat.” (Ibid)

Odin - 4v - agony(1), birth pangs(2), labor pains(1). Matt. 24:8; Mk. 13:8; Acts 2:24; 1 Thess. 5:3

Odin in the Septuagint - Exod. 15:14; Deut. 2:25; 1 Sam. 4:19; 2 Sam. 22:6; 2 Ki. 19:3; Job 2:9; Job 21:17; Job 39:1; Job 39:2; Ps. 18:4; Ps. 18:5; Ps. 48:6; Ps. 116:3; Isa. 13:8; Isa. 21:3; Isa. 26:17; Isa. 37:3; Isa. 66:7; Jer. 6:24; Jer. 8:21; Jer. 13:21; Jer. 22:23; Jer. 50:43; Ezek. 7:7; Hos. 9:11; Hos. 13:13; Mic. 4:9; Nah. 2:10

Matthew 24:9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.: tote paradosousin (3PFAI) humas eis thlipsin kai apoktenousin (3PFAI) humas kai esesthe (2PFMI) misoumenoi (2PPPMPN) hupo panton ton ethnon dia to onoma mou:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

KJV Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.

NET "Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name.

ESV "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake.

NLT "Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.

YLT then they shall deliver you up to tribulation, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated by all the nations because of my name;

  • Mt 10:17-22 Mt 22:6 Mt 23:34 Mk 13:9-13 Luke 11:49 Luke 21:12,16,17 Jn 15:19 Jn 15:20 Jn 16:2 Acts 4:2,3 Acts 5:40,41 Acts 7:59 Acts 12:1,2-5 Acts 21:31,32 Acts 22:19-22 Acts 28:22 1Th 2:14-16 1Pe 4:16 Rev 2:10,13 Rev 6:9-11 Rev 7:14
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages: 

Matthew 10:28+ “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

TRIBULATION, DEATH, HATRED
BECAUSE OF JESUS' NAME!

Mark's version is similar but adds a warning...

But be on your guard (present imperative = calls for continual alertness); for (term of explanation - explains why they need to be on guard!) they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. (Mark 13:9+)

Then (5119)(tote) is an adverb that functions as an expression of time. Tote means at that time or a point of time subsequent to another point of time. Note that this adverb is found in Mt 24:9, Mt 24:10 and Mt 24:14 and generally indicates sequence (a successive order of two or more things).

They will deliver (paradidomi) you to tribulation (thlipsis), and will kill (apokteino ) you - Who is they? There is no specific identification, but clearly they are godless, Christ hating individuals which will seek to punish and eradicate those who believe in Christ. Of course, this is going on today as Christians are martyred in many parts of the world, but it will accelerate in the future (See a few of the stories of persecution and martyrdom from Voice of the Martyrs). 

And you will be hated (miseo) by all nations because of My Name - Note that this is a global (ALL) hatred of the Jews. Nations is ethnos which describes  "Gentiles." As noted below, they are hated because of the Name of Jesus. Jesus' Name stands for all that He is (His attributes, etc).

Who is YOU who will be hated? While this in some sense surely applies to all believers in Christ for we will be hated (and many of you reading this note have experienced this hatred, sometimes even from family and former friends!) because of His Name, we must remember that Jesus is speaking to Jews and if we let context rule our interpretation, He is warning believing Jews to "be on your guard" (Mk 13:9+). Indeed, since He is addressing Jewish believers that are seated on the Mount of Olives with Him, it is likely that He reasonable to conclude that this prophecy will be fulfilled against Jewish believers in the future who will be hated because the Name of Jesus. In addition, we also know from other passages that just being Jewish will invoke the wrath of the Antichrist, as he will persecute Israel and seek to annihilate her in the greatest Anti-Semitic movement the world has ever seen. (cp Mt 24:16-20). And in the last 3.5 years of this present evil age, Satan will persecute the Jews and attempt to annihilate them as described by John in Rev 12:6+ (1260 days = 3.5 years) and Rev 12:14+ (3.5 years = "a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent [Satan]"). 

The church father Origen observed, "when the things foretold by Christ shall have come to pass, then there shall be persecutions, not as before in places, but everywhere against the people of God."

POSB on persecution of believers writes that "there are at least three reasons why the world often tries to silence and stamp out the believer.

  1. The world opposed the believer's standard of true godliness. The believer sets before the world a different standard. Neither the world nor its standard are godly. Therefore, any man who lives for the world and does not wish to change his behavior opposes believers. He opposes believers by his very nature (1 John 2:14-15).
  2. The world opposes the believer's life of purity and justice. The genuine believer lives such a life. He controls his mind, dresses modestly, converses respectfully, and behaves justly. The world lives to fulfill the lust of the flesh and to have what one wishes. Thus, the believer is opposed by any person who does not wish to live a pure and just life (Galatians 5:19-21).
  3. The world opposes the believer's message of repentance and self-denial. The genuine believer proclaims the message of Christ which is repentance and self-denial. Few men are willing to change (repent) to the degree that self is totally denied. Most, even the religious, oppose the idea of giving all one is and has, even if it does mean saving a starving and dying world. (BORROW The Preacher's outline & sermon Bible)

In the following section Matthew 24:9-14, we will simply observe the plain sense of the text, paying close attention to the three occurrences of the adverb of sequence, then (tote), the three occurrences of the copulative conjunction, and (kai), and the one occurrence of the conjunction of contrast, but (de). By using these simple observation techniques, let's see if this helps us discern what Jesus is describing and whether these events are related. Notice that the characteristics described in Mt 24:9-14 are surrounded by the bookends of "the beginning of birth pangs" (Mt 24:8) and "the end" of the age (Mt 24:14).

The next section (Mt 24:15-22) is linked to Mt 24:8-14 by the word term of conclusion, therefore. As Tony Garland explains "It is because of the dangerous characteristics of the end of the age that Jesus then moves on to give explicit instructions concerning the safety of those living in Judea when the end of the age is unambiguously signified by the "abomination of desolation" -- the "second sure sign.""

(1) What has Jesus just stated?

All these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Mt 24:8)

What are "all these things?" Those things described in Mt 24:4-7, false Messiahs, wars, earthquakes, famines. All of these "signs" are really "non-signs" because they are very general and have occurred throughout the centuries since Jesus uttered these words. Some suggest that as we see these things increase in number and intensity (e.g., earthquakes), that suggest we are getting closer to the "end" of the end times. However, it seems that this is one of the things Jesus actually warns us about so that we are not misled.

(2) What does Jesus describe as the next event?

They will deliver you to tribulation, kill you, hate you (Mt 24:9)

"You" refers to Jews and the phrase "because of My Name" identifies them as believers.

Notice the phrase "you will be hated by all nations" - Global hatred clearly was not true in the first century and helps us identify these events as occurring in the time of the tribulation.

(3) What does Jesus next say will happen "at that time" (or "then")?

At that time (tote = then) many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. (Mt 24:10)

Who are many? Jews.

Why would the Jews fall away? because of tribulation, etc. Because it will "cost" to follow Jesus (cf Mk 8:34-38)

Many Jews will deliver up others and will hate one another. Global hatred in Mt 24:9 becomes more personalized hatred in Mt 24:10.

(4) What will be associated with this time of falling away, etc?

Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. (Mt 24:11)

Notice that in Greek Mt 24:11 begins with and (kai) (NAS does not translate) which associates verse 11 with Mt 24:10.

If follows that associated with the Jews being delivered up, many falling away, there will also be a rise in false prophets who will mislead many Jews.

(5) What else will be associated with this time of falling away, rise in false prophets, etc?

 (And) Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. (Mt 24:12)

Notice once again that in Greek Mt 24:12 begins with and (kai) (NAS does not translate) and because (dia) which again associates the description in this verse with the previous passages (Mt 24:10-11).

(6) What does Jesus teach about this difficult time of tribulation, betrayal, etc?

But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Notice that Mt 24:13 begins with but (de) which introduces a contrast.

So Jesus is saying that conditions will be very bad, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.

What does Jesus mean? Clearly one's efforts do not save them. God enables endurance in tribulation times. So clearly the one who endures to the end demonstrates they are genuinely saved.

(7) What else does Jesus teach about this difficult time of tribulation, betrayal, etc?

(And) This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations (Gentiles), and then the end will come. (Mt 24:14)

Notice that Mt 24:14 begins with an and (kai) in the Greek (NAS does not translate) which is a conjunction that serves to connect what follows with what preceded.

Notice the then which marks sequence which leads to the end. As discussed in more detail in the notes on Mt 24:14, John states that the Gospel will be preached to the entire world in Rev 14:6. Everyone will be able to hear the angelic messenger's presentation. When that event occurs what does Jesus say is next is the eschatological sequence? The end of the age will come. If one reads Revelation chronologically this message is given either at the midpoint of the last seven years or possibly during the last 3.5 years. The events in Revelation 14 follow the 7th Trumpet (Rev 11:15), which is at or very near the midpoint of the 7 year period. The Bowls are not poured out until Revelation 16. And so when the world sees that "sign" in the sky, they will know that the return of Jesus and the end of this age are very near.

The question is when is THEN? There is not a clear consensus of conservative commentators as alluded to in the comments on Mt 24:4.

That said, if one compares Mt 24:9, Mt 24:15 and Mt 24:21, there does appear to be an association, because Mt 24:21 describes the Great Tribulation (the last 3.5 years of this age) which begins with the sign described in Mt 24:15 which in turn is followed by Jesus' warning to Jews that they need to flee (Mt 24:16-20) because of the coming Great Tribulation.

We know that the visual event of Mt 24:15 will begin the "final countdown" to the end, which is punctuated by the return of the King in glory (Mt 24:30). So in Mt 24:9 is Jesus here referring to the last 3.5 years which He calls the "great tribulation" (Mt 24:21)? In this scenario the "THEN" would parallel the events of Mt 24:15-21. The rest of the events described in Mt 24:10-14 could then be seen as occurring in this time of great Jewish persecution.

Tribulation - Does this tribulation refer to a general tribulation or to a specific time period? It does not say 'the tribulation' or the 'great tribulation'. However we know that after they are delivered to tribulation, lawlessness increases, they are hated, the gospel is preached, and then the end comes.

When does THE END come? This terminus seems fairly certain as the time when Jesus Christ returns to earth at THE END OF THE AGE. It follows that the events just described in the preceding section (Mt 24:9-13) are in some way associated with the end of this age.

Matthew 24:10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.: kai tote skandalisthesontai (3FPI)polloi kai allelous paradosousin (3PFAI) kai misesousin(3PFAI) allelous:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

Amplified And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.

KJV And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

NET Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another.

ESV And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.

NIV At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,

  • many: Mt 11:6 13:21,57 26:31-34 Mk 4:17 John 6:60,61,66,67 2Ti 1:15 2Ti 4:10,16
  • betray: Mt 10:21,35,36 26:21-24 Mic 7:5,6 Mk 13:12 Lu 21:16
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

A GREAT "FALLING AWAY"
BETRAYAL AND HATRED

At that time (then) (5119)(tote) begs the question "At what time?" In context, the answer is it will be at the time of intense persecution on the Jews, especially Jewish believers. It will be when they are delivered up to tribulation, killed and hated.

Many will fall away (skandalizo) - Remember that the future tense identifies this as a prophetic prediction which will be fulfilled at that time. Who is "many?" Jesus is addressing Jews and so one answer would be many Jews will fall away from orthodox beliefs. However Jesus likely also means Gentiles who will be deceived into worshipping the Antichrist rather than the true Christ. And those who worship the Antichrist (the Beast) will deliver up those who worship the real Christ.

Scripture predicts an apostasy at the time of the end which is both specific and intense.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy (apostasia) comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (2Th. 2:3-4+).

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.  (2Th. 2:8-12+).

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith (AKA, FALSE BELIEVERS), paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (1Ti. 4:1+)

Sadly one of the highest rated commentaries on Matthew (NICNT) by R T France writes "This saying (many will fall away) is one of those where it seems to have its most serious sense, of a fall which is not just a temporary setback but involves the abandonment of God's way and the loss of salvation." This is at best a very questionable teaching, because a genuine believer is one who has been "born again" and CANNOT be "unborn!" (cf Jn 10:27-30+) Those who fall away may have been Christ professors, but they were never Christ possessors (so to speak)! (See Can a Christian lose salvation?)

And will betray (paradidomi) one another and hate (miseo) one another - Who is the one who betrays? In context, they are those who fall away, professing believers now persecuting "possessing" believers! It is notable that the Gospels use this same verb (paradidomi) to describe the betrayal of Jesus to the Romans and ultimately the Cross. Those who follow Him will experience a similar fate in the end times (e.g. see Rev 13:15+)


Fall away (stumble; take offense) (4624)(skandalizo from skandalon= a trap = put a snare or stumbling block in way; English = scandalize = to offend the moral sense of) means to put a snare (in the way), hence to cause to stumble, to give offense. Thayer adds it means "to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away," and in the passive (as it is in Mt 24:10), to fall away." Jesus used skandalizo 13 times in Matthew in several different contexts. In a context similar to Mt 24:10 Jesus taught "And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away." (Matthew 13:20-21) Jesus warned His own disciples that even they would fall away temporarily, a prophecy Peter protested, but which proved true (Mt 26:31, 33, Mk 14:27, 29). Jesus knowing that some would fall away encouraged His disciples (then and now) "These things (The Upper Room Discourse - Jn 13:1-16:33) I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. (John 16:1)

Will betray (hand over) (3860)(paradidomi from para = alongside, beside, to the side of, over to + didomi = to give) means to give or hand over into the hands of another, especially to give them over into the power of another. Matthew has 31 of the 119 NT uses of paradidomi, the first use describing John the Baptist being taken into custody (Mt 4:12). Matthew identifies "Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him." (Mt 10:4, cf Mt 26:15, 16, 21, 23, 24, 25, 45, 48, 27:2, 4) Jesus had warned His disciples "beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues" (Mt 10:17) and "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death." (Mt 10:21)

Matthew 24:11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many: kai polloi pseudoprophetai egerthesontai (3PFPI) kai planesousin (3PFAI) pollous:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

Amplified And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error.

KJV And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

NET And many false prophets will appear and deceive many,

ESV And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

NLT And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.

YLT 'And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray;

  • Mt 24:5,24 7:15 Mk 13:22 Ac 20:30 1Ti 4:1 2Pe 2:1 1Jn 2:18,26 4:1 Jude 1:4 Rev 19:20
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Matthew 24:5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

Matthew 24:24 “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

Many false prophets (pseudopropheteswill arise and will mislead (planao) many - Many come and many are misled indicating they are very good at deception.

Warren Wiersbe - This is a warning to Jews, for true believers would not follow a false Christ. We are to watch out for false teachers and false spirits (1 John 4:1-3; 2 Peter 2:1ff). (BORROW Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament)

Matthew 24:12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.: kai dia to plethunthenai (APN) ten anomian psugesetai (3PFPI) e agape ton pollon:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

Amplified And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity,

KJV And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

NET and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold.

ESV And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

NIV Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,

YLT and because of the abounding of the lawlessness, the love of the many shall become cold;

RSV And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold.

ASV And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold.

BBE And because wrongdoing will be increased, the love of most people will become cold.

  • because: Jas 4:1-4 5:1-6
  • love: Rev 2:4,5,10 3:15
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

1 John 3:4  Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

LAWLESSNESS LEADS TO
COLD LOVE

Because - (dia) is a term of explanation, in this case explaining the following effect of diminishing love of people for one another. Self-love will replace self-less love in the last days. Men will be looking out for number one, like never before! One is reminded of Paul's warning in 2Ti 3:1-2 to "realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come, for men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy." This will be a time of spiritual "global cooling"! 

Lawlessness (anomia) is increased (plethuno), most people's love (agape) will grow cold - Sin is lawlessness, so Jesus is saying sin will multiply greatly! The pinnacle of lawlessness is described in Revelation 6-19, especially the last 3.5 years which are led by the man of lawlessness taking his seat in the Temple and declaring himself to be the "Christ!" (2Th 2:3-4) Cold is the Greek verb psucho which originally meant to breathe and then to make cold, become extinguished, and figuratively to lose spiritual devotedness. 

Garland on lawlessness...love...cold - Love grown cold due to a marked global increase in lawlessness. This is not a continual trend throughout church history, but a specific characteristic of the end.

Lowery on lawlessness - Jesus previously summarized the law as love of God and love of neighbor (Mt 22:34-40). It follows that lawlessness is essentially behavior without regard for God or concern for neighbor. It is behavior that basically focuses on serving oneself. (Ibid)


Lawlessness (458) (anomia from a = negates what follows + nomos = law) literally describes that which is without the law and signifies, not merely the abstract idea, but disregard for, or actual breach of, the law of God. Anomia means "no law," and emphasizes an attitude of disregard for the statutes of God. It means living as if there were no law. A person who rejects God's authority doesn't care what God thinks about his habits. Lawlessness is living as though your own ideas are superior to God's. Lawlessness says, "God may demand it but I don't prefer it." Lawlessness says, "God may promise it but I don't want it." Lawlessness replaces God's law with my contrary desires. I become a law to myself. Lawlessness is rebellion against the right of God to make laws and govern His creatures. Lawlessness signifies everything that is contrary to the will and law of God and is more intentional and flagrant sin. It is direct and open rebellion against God and His ways.

Matthew 24:13 "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.: ho de hupomeinas (AAPMSN) eis telos outos sothesetai (3PFPI):

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

  • Mt 24:6 Mt 10:22 Mk 13:13 Lu 8:15 Ro 2:7 1Co 1:8 Heb 3:6,14 10:39 Rev 2:10
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Matthew 10:22+   “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. 

Mark 13:13+ “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 

Luke 8:15+  “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

Romans 2:7+ to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

Hebrews 3:6; 14+ but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house–whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end...14+ For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,

THE MOST GLORIOUS 
PROPHETIC PROMISE!

But (de) is a term of contrast which in this context injects hope that despite the accelerating depravity of man (Mt 24:9-12), it will still be possible to endure. Of course, ultimately the only way a person can accomplish such perseverance is by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. The fact that one can hold on indicates that they possess the Holy Spirit and thus are true believers. 

The one who endures (hupomeno) - This statement at first reading seems to describe the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, however as discussed below not everyone agrees with this interpretation.

So on one hand if we interpret this as referring to spiritual salvation, we know that genuine disciples will endure to the end of their life or the end of this age not by their own efforts but because the indwelling Spirit enables them to endure to the end. Endurance does not save anyone but it demonstrates that one is truly saved! Stated another way, it is not one's endurance (self effort or works) that saves them but that one is able to endure because of the fact that they are saved (and possess the indwelling power of the Spirit). Jesus was not espousing salvation by works, but was simply saying that genuine faith will prove itself to be genuine by holding on in spite of trials and tribulations of the end times. In fairness, it should be noted there is a difference of opinion in whether will be saved speaks of spiritual salvation or physical deliverance.

To the end (telos) - When is the end? It could be the end of one's life or the end of the 7 year tribulation. Some Preterists feel that this is the end of The Temple and the nation of Israel in 70 A.D. However in context, the disciples had asked about the end of the age (Mt 24:3). So Jesus was talking about the end of the age. The last 3.5 years of this age will be horrible for true believers. It will not be a time when people profess Christ as they do in our day where there is no significant cost for associating with the Christ. In this future day profession of Christ may indeed cost you your life!

Will be saved (sozo) - Jesus gives a prophetic promise! Like the old song says "Hold on I'm coming!" Does this refer to physical or spiritual salvation? There is clearly a difference of opinion among the commentators. I favor that this refers primarily to spiritual salvation, mainly because many believers will be not be physically delivered, but will be martyred in the time of the tribulation, especially in the latter 3.5 years when the antichrist is in control. (Mt 24:9, Rev 6:10+, Rev 13:15+ = "As many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed."). 

POSB - the eighth sign is that of some enduring (upomeinas) and being saved. It must be remembered Christ is talking to His disciples. His promise, "Being saved," is bound to mean the soul's salvation in the last days. It could not mean the safety of human life. He had already said some shall be killed (Matthew 24:9). Thus, the believer who stands firm through persecution and hatred, betrayal and division, false teaching and deception, lawlessness and immorality, and keeps fervent love shall be saved. (BORROW The Preacher's outline & sermon Bible

NET NOTE - Jesus was not claiming here that salvation is by works. He was simply arguing that genuine faith evidences itself in persistence through even the worst of trials.

Henry Morris - Those who endure whatever suffering and persecution the Lord allows to come their way, without giving up their professed faith and denying the Lord, are those who are truly saved. As 2 Timothy 3:12 says "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (New Defender's Study Bible)

The ESV Study Bible says "Not from physical death (cf. Mt 24:21-22), but from divine wrath and human persecution, to experience the full blessing and peace of salvation when Jesus returns. (BORROW ESV Study Bible

William MacDonald on endures...will be saved -  This obviously does not mean that men's souls will be saved at that time by their enduring; salvation is always presented in the Bible as a gift of God's grace, received by faith in Christ's substitutionary death and resurrection. Neither can it mean that all who endure will escape physical harm; we have already learned that many believers will be martyred (v. 9). It is a general statement that those who stand fast, enduring persecution without apostatizing, will be delivered at Christ's Second Advent. No one should imagine that apostasy will be a means of escape or safety. Only those who have true faith shall be saved. Although saving faith may have lapses, it always has the quality of permanence. (BORROW Believer's Bible Commentary)

MacArthur favors spiritual salvation writing "is not that a person’s endurance will produce salvation but that his endurance will be a Spirit-empowered product and proof of the reality that he is saved....Endurance is always a mark of salvation."And in his Study Bible MacArthur writes "The ones who persevere are the same ones who are saved—not the ones whose love grows cold (v. 12). This does not suggest that our perseverance secures our salvation. Scripture everywhere teaches precisely the opposite: God, as part of His saving work, secures our perseverance." 

John Heading writes "we suggest that the word "saved" here refers, not to salvation of the soul, but to remaining alive until the Lord's return, thus to enter into the blessings of the earthly kingdom to be established at His advent.

Thomas Ice writes "this section is referring to the Jewish remnant, who, if they endure to the end, will be physically rescued by Christ at His second advent and they will go into the millennial kingdom in their mortal bodies (Matthew 25:21, 34)." 

Louis A. Barbieri  - Those who remain faithful to the Lord until the end of that period of time will be saved, that is, delivered (Matt. 24:13). This does not refer to a personal self-effort at endurance that results in one's eternal salvation, but to physical deliverance of those who trust in the Savior during the Tribulation. They will enter the kingdom in physical bodies. (See Bible Knowledge Commentary)


Endures (perseveres) (5278)(hupomeno from hupo = under, as in under the rule of someone + méno = to abide or remain) means literally to remain under not simply with resignation, but with a vibrant hope (not hope so, but hope sure!) To stand fast, continue despite resistance and opposition, hold one's ground, not be moved, persevering under affliction, trouble, opposition or trial one and holding fast to belief in Christ (Mt 10:22, 24:13, Mark 13:13, James 5:11, et al). 

saved (4982)(sozo) has the basic meaning of rescuing one from great peril. Additional nuances include to protect, keep alive, preserve life, deliver, heal, be made whole. Sozo is sometimes used of physical deliverance from danger of perishing (Mt 8:25; Mt 14:30; Lk 23:35; Acts 27:20, 27:31), physical healing from sickness (Mt 9:21, 22; Mk 5:23, Acts 4:9), and deliverance from demonic possession (Lk 8:36). More often sozo refers to salvation in a spiritual sense (Mt 1:21).

Related Resources:

Matthew 24:14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come: kai keruchthesetai (3SPFPI) touto to euaggelion tes basileias en hole te oikoumene eis marturion pasin tois ethnesin kai tote echei (3SFAI) to telos:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

  • This gospel: Mt 4:23 9:35 10:7 Ac 20:25
  • Shall be preached: Mt 18:19 Mk 16:15,16 Lu 24:47 Acts 1:2 Ro 10:18 15:18-21 16:25,26 Col 1:6,23 Rev 14:6-7
  • Then: Mt 24:3,6 Eze 7:5-7,10
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

GLOBAL GOSPEL
SIGNALS THE END

This gospel (euaggelionof the kingdom (basileia) shall be preached (kerusso) in the whole (holos) world (oikoumeneas a testimony (marturion) to all the nations (ethnos) - There is no doubt about this proclamation's consummation! Jesus sounds a note of certainty using this future tense verb. Yes, the Gospel will encounter great opposition and resistance, but Christ's good news will go forth to all the nations. 

Jon Courson writes - Sometimes I hear preachers say that, on the basis of this verse, we must evangelize the world so Jesus can come back. I personally don't believe that is a correct understanding of this Scripture. Jesus will come back at a time already appointed by the Father. Surely the gospel is to be preached, and surely we are to participate in the process. But the second coming is not dependent upon us, for the greatest explosion of evangelism this world has ever seen will not take place until after we're gone. Revelation 7:3-8, 9, 14 tells us that after the Rapture, 144,000 Jewish evangelists will be anointed. Moses and perhaps Elijah will come back on the scene, working miracles and calling down fire from Heaven (Rev 11:3ff - Ed: Note that the identity of the two witnesses is not clear! See Chart on Identity of Witnesses). (Application Commentary)

Warren Wiersbe adds that " Revelation 7:1-8 teaches that God will choose and seal 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will carry the kingdom message to the ends of the earth (cf the "harvest" in Rev 7:9, 14). This verse does not teach that the Gospel of God's grace must be spread to every nation today before Jesus can return for His church. It is the Lord's return at the end of the age that is in view here." (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

This passage is frequently used in missionary conferences to exhort the attendees to take the Gospel to the ends of the world in order to fulfill Jesus' Great Commission to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations." (Mt 28:19) I wholehearted agree with the exhortation in those conferences to GO to the lost. The question that arises is will our taking the Gospel to "all the nations" bring about "the end" of this age? To answer that question, we need to look at another way Jesus' words in Mt 24:14 might be interpreted. To do so let's first look at John's incredible vision in Revelation 14:

And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an Eternal Gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; 7 and he said with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters." (Rev 14:6-7-commentary)

COMMENT - If one reads John's words literally, it is clear that this angel (aggelos/angelos = messenger) will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in the whole world. And if one observes Revelation carefully, it is very clear that there is chronological progression in many of the chapters. And Revelation 14 is inserted at a time which would correspond to the mid-point of the last Seven Year period preceding the horrible time of the 3.5 year Great Tribulation. But even if one did not agree with that timing, anyone who interprets Revelation literally would agree that this worldwide proclamation of the Gospel is very near the end of this age, which is brought about when Jesus returns in Revelation 19:11-16. Therefore I would submit that Rev 14:6-7 could be the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy in Mt 24:14. Please do not misunderstand - Jesus was quite clear in Acts 1:8+ declaring that "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." And so every believer should be involved in some way (going, sending, praying, giving all in the power of the Holy Spirit) so that the Gospel penetrates even to the remotest part of the earth! John explains that one day it will reach every part of the world. As an aside, unfortunately C I Scofield wrote this on the gospel in Revelation 14:6 writing "It is neither the Gospel of the kingdom, nor of grace." He is wrong. 

And then (tote) the end (telos) will come - When is then (tote)? In Revelation 14 John's vision of an angel in midheaven clearly links the worldwide proclamation of the Gospel with the end of the age. Recall that the end that the disciples asked about in Mt 24:3 was the end of the age. While the global proclamation of the Gospel is not called a sign, it certainly will be seen by everyone on earth and is like a final warning to repent and believe (turn or burn)!

If we compare the passages in Revelation, there is good evidence that final gospel call was heeded by many. Revelation 7:9 says "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands." And then Revelation 7:14 says “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." In other words there will be one of the greatest harvests of souls in this horrible last 3.5 years of the great tribulation. And it is reasonable to conclude that the global proclamation of the Gospel was instrumental in this great harvest. 

Note the repetition of the phrase the end as it is a very important expression of time in Matthew 24, where it occurs 4 times - Mt 24:3, Mt 24:6, Mt 24:13, Mt 24:14.

THE SIGN OF THE GLOBAL GOSPEL
AND THE END OF THE AGE

THE SIGN THE END

This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world

THEN
the end will come

An angel will preach the eternal Gospel to those who live on the earth
Revelation 14:6-7+

The King of kings returns
bringing this age to an end
Rev 19:11-16+


Gospel (2098)(euaggelion from eu = good + aggéllo = proclaim, tell) is literally good news or glad tidings. In the NT euaggelion is used only of God's message of salvation in three senses (1) act of proclamation (preaching the gospel) (1Cor 4:15), (2) the work of evangelization (spread of the gospel) (Phil 4:3), (3) the content of the message as an offer of salvation (good news) (Ro 1:16) (Adapted from Friberg - Analytical Lexicon). In secular Greek it originally referred to a reward for good news and later became the good news itself. The word euaggelion was commonly used in the first century as our words "good news" today. The idea then and now is something like this - "Have you any good news (euaggelion) for me today?" This was a common question in the ancient world. In ancient secular Greek euaggelion described good news of any kind and prior to the writing of the New Testament, had no definite religious connotation in the ancient world until it was taken over by the "Cult of Caesar" which was the state religion and in which the emperor was worshipped as a god (see more discussion of this use below).

Euaggelion in Matthew - Matt. 4:23; Matt. 9:35; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 26:13;

Whole (3650)(holos) means all, complete in extent, amount, time or degree = all, altogether, every whit, throughout, whole. Jesus used holos in His piercing question "What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?" (Mt 16:26, cp Mk 8:34-38, Lk 9:25) In Matthew 26:13 (Mk 14:9) Jesus declared "I assure you: Wherever this Gospel is proclaimed in the whole (holos) world (kosmos), what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her." This exact phrase "whole world" (holos oikoumene) is used by John - "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." (Rev 12:9)

World (3635)(oikoumene is the feminine participle present passive of oikeo = to dwell or abide) describes the inhabited portion of the earth, exclusive of the heavens above and hell below. The Romans used oikoumene in their secular writings to refer to the Roman Empire, for to them their empire equated with the whole world. Finally, in some NT contexts oikoumene was used to refer to the inhabitants of the world (see below Acts 17:31, 19:27, Re 12:9-note) Although John uses a different word, the truth is that "The whole world (kosmos) lies (keimai) in the power of (under the sway of) the evil (poneros = wicked) one." (1Jn 5:19+)

End (5056)(telos) means an end, term, a termination, a completion, a consummation, a goal achieved, a result attained, or a realization. Telos never used in NT as a chronological end, as if something simply stops. Instead, telos refers to a consummation, a goal achieved, a result attained, or a realization. It refers to a result of an event or process with special focus upon the final state or condition. Note 3 times in Matthew 24 - Matt. 24:6; Matt. 24:13; Matt. 24:14. The end in Mt 24:3 is sunteleia. 

Telos - 40v - continually*(1), custom(2), customs(1), end(24), ends(2), finished(1), fulfillment(1), goal(1), outcome(6), sum(1), utmost(1).  Matt. 10:22; Matt. 17:25; Matt. 24:6; Matt. 24:13; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 26:58; Mk. 3:26; Mk. 13:7; Mk. 13:13; Lk. 1:33; Lk. 18:5; Lk. 21:9; Lk. 22:37; Jn. 13:1; Rom. 6:21; Rom. 6:22; Rom. 10:4; Rom. 13:7; 1 Co. 1:8; 1 Co. 10:11; 1 Co. 15:24; 2 Co. 1:13; 2 Co. 3:13; 2 Co. 11:15; Phil. 3:19; 1 Thess. 2:16; 1 Tim. 1:5; Heb. 3:6; Heb. 3:14; Heb. 6:8; Heb. 6:11; Heb. 7:3; Jas. 5:11; 1 Pet. 1:9; 1 Pet. 3:8; 1 Pet. 4:7; 1 Pet. 4:17; Rev. 2:26; Rev. 21:6; Rev. 22:13

CRITIQUE OF A PRETERIST
INTERPRETATION OF Matthew 24:14

R T France in one of the "highest rated" commentaries (cf Challies and Ligonier) interprets the events in Mt 24:4-22 as primarily past history, and it therefore not surprising that he encounters considerable difficulty explaining Mt 24:14 as an event fulfilled in the past writing that

"This saying comes unexpectedly here, not only because it provides a note of hope and triumph in an otherwise threatening context, but also because, like Mt 26:13, it already envisages a world-wide proclamation of the good news....In particular, this passage does not speak of worldwide evangelization as the cause of the "end," but as a necessary preliminary. And we have argued at Mt 24:6 that the "end" (telos) in view here is not the "end (sunteleia) of the age" but the destruction of the temple, which happened long ago. In what sense, then, would the good news of God's kingdom be heard "all over the world" before that event occurred?" (Bolding added)

France then twists the literal meaning of Jesus' words in fact going so far as to

"suggest caution in interpreting it too literally...The point is that the gospel will go far outside Judea, as indeed it certainly did in the decades following Jesus' resurrection.....Unless one insists on a woodenly literal meaning for the phrase, the good news of God's kingdom was indeed being proclaimed "all over the world" before the temple was destroyed." (BORROW Matthew Commentary - NICNT - page 906)

France defends his assertion with reference to Col 1:6, Ro 16:26, Ro 10:18, 15:18-24. So France goes to considerable length to avoid a literal interpretation of "to the whole world." Notice France also adds to Jesus' words. Jesus did not state the Gospel would "go far outside Judea!" A normal reading of the text is clear -- Jesus meant the whole world and then the end would come, the end of the age, not the end of the Temple. This critique of France's analysis is presented as an example of what happens when one adheres to a preterist interpretation, and is forced to "massage" the literal meaning in a vain attempt to try and make it fit with one's preconceived notions and/or misconceptions.

As as aside if one compares France's interpretation in NICNT published in 2007 with his earlier 1985 commentary on Matthew Tyndale NT Commentary (page 338 - BORROW), it seems that he has changed his view writing

"In one sense Paul could claim long before AD 70 to have 'fully preached the Gospel' in a large area of Asia and Europe (Ro 15:19), and at many times since then similar claims could have been made with reference to an area far wider than the oikoumene known in Jesus' time. But Jesus' words allow no such calculation. (Ed: Not if one reads them literally which it looks like France in fact did in 1985!) The end cannot come until the Gospel has reached far outside the Jewish world, but that gives us no warrant for deciding when it must come."

I agree with France's 1985 comments! Notice that in 1985 when France interpreted Mt 24:14 literally, he did not equate "the end" with the destruction of the Temple as he did in 2007 when he choose to interpret Jesus' words non-literally! So here is the point of this critique: While France's highly rated 2007 NICNT commentary on Matthew has some good material, one needs to keep a Berean mindset (Acts 17:11+) and be very careful when reading his comments on eschatological passages! And better yet, refer to his Matthew commentary from 1985! 

Preterist Albert Barnes commented (in the 1880's) on "Then shall the end come" explaining that this refers to "The end of the Jewish economy; the destruction of the temple and city." Not only does he take Mt 24:14 out of the context of the original question about the "end of the age" (Mt 24:3), but he incorrectly states this is the "end of the Jewish economy." I wonder how he would explain the rebirth of the "Jewish economy" in May, 1948 when Israel became a nation after almost 2000 years and began to have a thriving economy in the decades thereafter! Barnes would have done well to Keep Context King.

Related Resources:


QUESTION - What is the preterist view of the end times?  (see also related discussion)

ANSWER - According to preterism, all prophecy in the Bible is really history. The preterist interpretation of Scripture regards the book of Revelation as a symbolic picture of first-century conflicts, not a description of what will occur in the end times. The term preterism comes from the Latin praeter, meaning “past.” Thus, preterism is the view that the biblical prophecies concerning the “end times” have already been fulfilled—in the past. Preterism is directly opposed to futurism, which sees the end-times prophecies as having a still-future fulfillment.

Preterism is divided into two types: full (or consistent) preterism and partial preterism. This article will confine the discussion to full preterism (or hyper-preterism, as some call it).

Preterism denies the future prophetic quality of the book of Revelation. The preterist movement essentially teaches that all the end-times prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in AD 70 when the Romans attacked and destroyed Jerusalem. Preterism teaches that every event normally associated with the end times—Christ’s second coming, the tribulation, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment—has already happened. (In the case of the final judgment, it still is in the process of being fulfilled.) Jesus’ return to earth was a “spiritual” return, not a physical one.

Preterism teaches that the Law was fulfilled in AD 70 and God’s covenant with Israel was ended. The “new heavens and new earth” spoken of in Revelation 21:1 is, to the preterist, a description of the world under the New Covenant. Just as a Christian is made a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), so the world under the New Covenant is a “new earth.” This aspect of preterism can easily lead to a belief in replacement theology.

Preterists usually point to a passage in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse to bolster their argument. After Jesus describes some of the end-times happenings, He says, “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matthew 24:34). The preterist takes this to mean that everything Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24 had to have occurred within one generation of His speaking—the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was therefore “Judgment Day.”

The problems with preterism are many.

  • For one thing, God’s covenant with Israel is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:33–36), and there will be a future restoration of Israel (Isaiah 11:12).
  • The apostle Paul warned against those who, like Hymenaeus and Philetus, teach falsely “that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:17–18).
  • And Jesus’ mention of “this generation” should be taken to mean the generation that is alive to see the beginning of the events described in Matthew 24.

Eschatology is a complex subject, and the Bible’s use of apocalyptic imagery to relate many prophecies has led to a variety of interpretations of end-time events. There is room for some disagreement within Christianity regarding these things. However, full preterism has some serious flaws in that it denies the physical reality of Christ’s second coming and downplays the dreadful nature of the tribulation by restricting that event to the fall of Jerusalem. GotQuestions.org


Tony Garland - Damaging God’s Word - 5 important points - if you are a preterist, please prayerfully ponder these points! 

There are so many problems and dangers associated with preterism, it is difficult to know how to enumerate them. Here we will touch on our main concerns regarding this system of interpretation and the damage it does to God’s Word:

  1. A Denial of Predictive Prophecy - Preterism removes the capstone of God’s written revelation. The last book of the Bible no longer includes information covering the entire sway of history through the physical Second Coming of Christ, but has largely spent its significance as a historical document concerning events over 1900 years ago involving Rome and Israel. All that remains is a hazy notion that somehow the eternal state must be what we are experiencing on earth now.40
  2. A Denial of Global Judgment - Preterism localizes the book of Revelation making it nearly impossible to see how God could have described events truly global and future if that had been His intent.41
  3. A Denial of Reality - If we are in the new heavens and new earth of Revelation 21+-22+ as preterists would have us believe, then Scripture means nothing. Either that, or we need to begin embracing a dualistic view of reality which denies our common senses, similar to that of Christian Science. The transition set forth in the creation of a new heavens and a new earth and a complete removal of the curse of Genesis is simply not evident to any objective observer. If this is the new heavens, Jesus was a charlatan.42 Moreover, it would be news to most people in the world that the decisive victory of Satan portrayed in the book of Revelation has already been accomplished.43
  4. A Blurring of Canonical Boundaries - Preterism majors on searching first-century non-canonical writings for “fulfillments” to predictive prophecy. The results are predictable. Teaching and writing by preterists invariably draws almost as heavily from non-canonical writings (the “fulfillments”) as Scripture (the predictions). We have witnessed the effects of this blurring of the boundary of the canon firsthand, especially on new untaught believers. The result is the elevation of faulty historic writings and the denigration of inerrant Scripture. There is also the danger of pointing inexperienced believers to errant and uninspired apocryphal and historical writings as the main diet in the place of God’s Holy Word.44
  5. A Denial of the Imminent Second Coming - As more and more passages dealing with Christ’s return are interpreted as first-century “cloud comings,” the imminent expectation of His Second Coming, so central to the expectation of the New Testament, fades. Commenting on the writing of commentaries, preterist Chilton observes, “Indeed, if my eschatology is correct, the Church has many more years left to write many more words!” [emphasis added]45 So much for an expectation of the imminent return of our Lord!

Related Discussion by Dr Tony Garland as it relates to Interpretation of the Revelation but in principle applicable to the Olivet Discourse

  1. Preterist Interpretation
  2. Types of Preterism
  3. The Motivations of Preterism
  4. The Beginning of Preterism
  5. Hermeneutics of Preterism

Matthew 24:15 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):

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

Greek - hotan oun idete (2PAAS) to bdelugma tes eremoseos to rethen (APP) dia Daniel tou prophetou estos (RAP) en topo hagio, ho anaginoskon (MSNPAP) noeito (2SPAM)

Amplified - So when you see the appalling sacrilege [the abomination that astonishes and makes desolate], spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the Holy Place—let the reader take notice and ponder and consider and heed [this]—

KJV When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

NET "So when you see the abomination of desolation- spoken about by Daniel the prophet- standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

ESV "So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

NIV "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel-- let the reader understand--

NLT "The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about-- the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place." (Reader, pay attention!)

YLT 'Whenever, therefore, ye may see the abomination of the desolation, that was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever is reading let him observe)

NRSV "So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand),

  • you: Mk 13:14 Lu 19:43 21:20 
  • by Daniel: Da 9:27 12:11 
  • let the reader understand: Eze 40:4 Da 9:23,25 10:12-14 Heb 2:1 Rev 1:3 3:22 
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE BEGINNING OF
THE END

CAVEAT EMPTOR (Latin = "let the buyer [cf "reader"] beware"): Read the Scriptures before you read the commentaries or study Bible notes, so that you can read the text without bias. In other words, as much as possible, try to read the text you are studying as if you have never seen it before, never heard a related sermon, or never read a commentary on it. Humbly seek the attitude of the noble-minded Bereans (Acts 17:11+) and in dependence on the filling and teaching ministry of your resident Teacher the Holy Spirit (cf Ep 5:18+, 1Jn 2:27-+), prayerfully and carefully read and observe (See topic: Inductive Bible study) the three versions of Jesus' Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 so that you will then be able to read the commentaries (and these notes!) on Matthew 24:15 with wisdom and discernment (cp Heb 5:14+). It is my intent to interpret the text as literally as possible, and to try to alert you when a comment may be speculative. (See topic: Interpretation)

Many if not most commentators appeal to Lk 21:20-24+ to help explain the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15. While Luke's description is very similar to Matthew's description, there are significant irreconcilable differences which are discussed in detail in the Luke 21:20-24 Commentary. See simple chart comparing Matthew and in Luke -- see Chart Summary. Suffice it to say that careful observation and comparison of these two sections leaves little doubt that Jesus is describing different events. I emphasize this point because most, if not all, commentators who interpret Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD make a strong appeal to Luke 21:20-24 in an attempt to substantiate their interpretation of the identity of the abomination of desolation.

Highly respected expositor D Edmond Hiebert (not a dispensationalist to the best of my knowledge) makes an interesting comment on the Luke 21 passage to which many writers make an appeal to defend their 70 AD interpretation of Mt 24:15 -

Because of the close parallels between the two events (Ed: Hiebert is referring to the 70AD events and future events related to Jerusalem), interpreters have always found it difficult to distinguish the two (Ed: Fulfilled in past or yet to be fulfilled) in Jesus' answer. The sign given in Luke 21:20 relates to the historical fall of Jerusalem. But Luke's sign, Jerusalem surrounded by armies, is not the same as that given in the other Synoptics, namely, the abomination of desolation in the temple. Luke 21:20-24 records a part of the Olivet Discourse which has not exact parallel in the other two Gospels. It vividly pictures the capture of the city and the resultant condition reaching to the end of the age. The similarity of Luke's picture to that of the other Synoptics had generally led to the assumption that they refer to the same event. While the two events have much in common, there are features in Mark's (Ed: And Matthew's) account which clearly look beyond the fall of Jerusalem and relate to the eschatological end. This is evident from the close connection which the paragraph has with the Second Coming described in the following verses (Lk 21:24-27). Second Thessalonians 2:3-10 (note) supports the view that the abomination of desolation refers to the eschatological Antichrist. The tribulation connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, standing in the foreground of the Olivet Discourse, foreshadows and contains the essential features of the Great Tribulation of the end time. (The Gospel of Mark- An Expositional Commentary- D. Edmond Hiebert) (Bolding added)

So now let us carefully observe the text and the context of Matthew 24:15, seeking to glean the plain sense of the text, while assiduously avoiding looking for hidden meanings (allegorical, mystical, idealistic, spiritualized). As you read the text, keep the following simple axiom in mind:

If the plain sense makes good sense in context,
seek to make no other sense or it may be nonsense!

Note that this rule should also be applied when one reads text that is clearly figurative language, as when Jesus says "I am the door." (Jn 10:9). Clearly He is not a literal door, and yet the figure conveys a literal meaning. In other words when a text must be read figuratively, it is important to remember that the Spirit still intends for the figure of speech to signify a literal meaning. Figurative language does not give the reader "carte blanche" to let the imagination "run wild" in an attempt to make the text confirm to one's preconceived notions of what the text means.

John Walvoord wrote "This portion of the Olivet discourse is crucial to understanding what Christ reveals about the end of the age. The tendency to explain away this section or ignore it constitutes the major difficulty in the interpretation of the Olivet discourse. In the background is the tendency of liberals to discount prophecy and the practice of some conservatives of not interpreting prophecy literally. If this prediction means what it says, it is referring to a specific time of great trouble which immediately precedes the second coming of Christ. As such, the prediction of the great tribulation is "the sign" of the second coming, and those who see the sign will be living in the generation which will see the second coming itself." (The Signs of the End of the Age)

To amplify Dr Walvoord's comments, to misinterpret Jesus' specific sign in Matthew 24:15 is analogous to driving to some desirable destination but to fail to correctly interpret one very crucial, strategically placed sign (how many of us haven't done that!) with the result being that one ends up lost and/or at the wrong destination! Just as it is best to read road signs "literally," so too it is best to read Jesus' sign in Mt 24:15 literally (and in context) lest one ends up "dazed and confused" in Matthew 24!

Stuart Weber observes that "Of course, the fact that Israel has reestablished itself as a national political entity and occupied the holy temple site again has many scholars anticipating the end times very soon. No other nation has experienced two thousand years of cultural dispersion and retained their national integrity. God is not yet finished with the Jewish people. (ED: CONTRA THE WIDESPREAD TEACHING OF replacement theology / supersessionism EVEN IN EVANGELICAL CHURCHES) And the Great Tribulation to come in the seventieth and final of the "seventy weeks" (periods of seven years) predicted for Israel by the prophet Daniel (Da 9:24-27) will see the nation purged and prepared for the return of its Messiah-King." (Holman New Testament Commentary)

THEREFORE

Therefore - This is a term of conclusion which should always prompt the question "What's the therefore there for?" What has Jesus just clearly stated? "The end will come." (Note that Luke does not have a verse that parallels Mt 24:14 while Mk 13:13 does refer to "the end.") From the context, it is clear that therefore connects "the end" with the event being introduced in Mt 24:15. But this begs the question "the end" of what? Careful attention to the context gives us the answer. Recall that Jesus is addressing the disciples' question about "the end of the age" (Mt 24:3). In Mt 24:15 Jesus gives a visible sign which marks the beginning of the end of this present age which will be consummated by the Second Coming of Christ described in Mt 24:27-31.

Alan H McNeile says "oun (therefore) connects the section with the preceding "to telos" (the end - Mt 24:14)." (The Gospel according to St. Matthew - 1915)

McNeile also observes that whereas Matthew begins Mt 24:15 with "Therefore when," Mark's version (Mk 13:14) begins with "But when" "which introduces a new stage in the progress of events."

Robert Gundry on therefore - "Therefore" indicates that because the preceding paragraph detailed events that will characterize the church age but not signal the nearness of the end, the present paragraph is going to detail events that will signal its nearness. (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation)

Broadus on therefore - What inference is expressed by 'therefore'? He has said that the end is coming (Mt 24:14), and that those who endure to the end shall be saved (Mt 24:13); when therefore they see a certain sign, let them promptly flee, in order to save themselves. (Matthew 24:16f.) (John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew)

Leon Morris - Therefore connects with the preceding statement and leads into what follows. It is because the end will certainly come that the disciples are to be on their guard. (Pillar NT Commentary-Matthew)

Thomas Constable - "Therefore" or "So" (Gr. oun) ties pericope very closely to the preceding one. (Matthew 24 Commentary - Expository Notes)

Hiebert comments - "Jesus describes the end-time crisis, the sign that the disciples had asked for (Mt 24:3). They were ardently hoping that their Master would speedily establish His earthly kingdom (Ed: see their question in Acts 1:6, cf Lk 19:11). Their views of the future were still essentially Jewish, and they conceived of the anticipated Messianic Kingdom in relation to the people of Israel. As yet, they had no clear concept of the coming church. If Jesus had spoken to them of the rapture in the future, He would only have added confusion to the limited understanding they had of what He had already said." (Ed: As an aside, most commentators agree that there is no mention of the Rapture in Matthew 24-25.) (The Gospel of Mark- An Expositional Commentary- D. Edmond Hiebert)

SUMMARY INTERPRETATION
OF MATTHEW 24:15

Here is my summary interpretation of Mt 24:15 which will be explained in more detail in the remainder of the comments and compared with other interpretations. This summary is based primarily on simple observation of the Scripture, reading the text for the plain sense (literally), not looking for hidden meanings and comparing the text with related or parallel Scriptures to help understand Jesus' intended meaning. This summary is not based on a specific system of interpretation. Even though some might say the summary sounds like a dispensational interpretation, I am not a dispensationalist. That said, without further qualification, here is the summary of Matthew 24:15 (Note: the "+" identifies a link to notes related to the passage):

Jesus has just ended Mt 24:14-note with the words "the end" (the very last Greek word in Mt 24:14) and now responds to the disciples' initial request for a sign (Mt 24:3+) by giving them a very unique sign which will mark the beginning of the end of this age (Mt 24:3+). And so Jesus describes a specific sign, one which has not occurred in the past (but which had been foreshadowed-see Da 8:13, Da 11:31), and which will literally be fulfilled in the future. Recall that a sign is something that one can see which points to something else. In Mt 24:15 Jesus says "when you see" indicating that this is a visible sign. He explains that the sign is the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. He also explains that study of the book of Daniel will help the reader understand the sign. The Temple was destroyed in 70AD, but Jesus says the sign is of some one or some thing standing in the Temple (holy place). Of course the problem with Jesus' prophecy is that there is currently no Temple. It follows that the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem (see note). If God can cause the nation of Israel to be reborn in May, 1948 against all odds, then a rebuilt Temple will not be too difficult for Him (Jer 32:17+, Jer 32:27+). Does this take faith to accept? Of course it does, but the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (a rebuilt Temple, Heb 11:1+) are based not on an active imagination but on our faithful God (Lam 3:23) and His faith producing Word (Ro 10:17+, cf John's description of the temple in Rev 11:2+, compare Paul's mention of Antichrist taking his seat in the Temple in 2Th 2:3-+, 2Th 2:4+, see note on Tribulation Temple). Daniel 9:27+ describes a prince who is to come (Da 9:26+) who will make a 7 year covenant ("one week" - see Daniel's Seventieth Week) with the "many," the "many" clearly being the Jews in context ("your [Daniel a Jewish man's] people" Da 9:24+). This "prince" is the Antichrist (name used only in 1Jn 2:18+) who Daniel identifies as the "Little Horn" and who rises to power out of a 10 nation confederacy (Daniel 7:8+, cp Da 2:44-45+ where "the days of those kings" = "10 toe stage" [Da 2:42+] = 10 horns = 10 kings - cp Da 7:24+). The first 3.5 years, his devilish character is not obvious (see note on Rev 6:2), but in the middle of the 7 year "peace" covenant, he breaks the covenant with Israel and puts a stop to sacrifices and offerings in the rebuilt Temple (Da 9:27+) fulfilling Jesus' prophecy in Mt 24:15. Daniel says he also (as the "Little Horn") will overpower 3 of the original 10 members of the confederacy (Da 7:8+, Da 7:20+). Paul adds that the Antichrist (aka "man of lawlessness...son of perdition") will go into the "holy place," the rebuilt Temple, and take "his seat in the Temple of God, displaying himself as being God." (" 2Th 2:3+, 2Th 2:4+, cp Da 11:36 2Th 2:3- 2Th 2:3- 2Th 2:3-+) In so doing he will commit the abomination that makes the Temple desolate. Note that this sign is not the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem in the past (70AD - cp Lk 21:20+), but a real person who will commit a real act of defilement (abomination) of the Jewish Temple in the future. At this same time, in the midpoint of the 7 year covenant, the Antichrist (aka "The Beast") is empowered by the dragon (the devil) for 42 months or the last 3.5 years of the 7 year period (Rev 13:4-5+) However, since it is unlikely the Antichrist will personally remain standing in the holy place, it is more likely that it is his image which the false prophet creates and commands the world to worship, which will remain standing in the holy place (cp Rev 13:14-15+, Rev 14:9, 11+, Rev 16:2+, Rev 19:20+, contrast Rev 20:4+)

During this last 3.5 years, the Antichrist will begin to pursue and persecute the Jews, which is the impetus for Jesus taking five verses to command and convince the Jews to flee when they see the sign of the abomination of desolation! During his last 3.5 years of the Seventieth Week, the Antichrist "will speak out against the Most High (beginning in Mt 24:15, 2Th 2:4 2Th 2:4, blaspheming God - Rev 13:6+, cp his great, boasts - Da 7:8+, Da 7:11+, Da 7:20+) and wear down the saints of the Highest One, with the intent to make alterations in times and in law (cp Da 9:27+ "stop to sacrifice and grain offering"); and they (the Jews) will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." (Da 7:25+ = Da 7:21+ = the Little Horn who "was waging war with the [Jewish] saints and overpowering them") In other words, after the Antichrist breaks his covenant with the Jews, they will be given into his hand for "time, times and half a time" (3.5 years, John says 1260 days in Rev 12:6+, which he repeats in Rev 12:14+ = "time, times, and half a time" = 42 months). John records "it was given to him (the Antichrist) to make war with the saints (the Jews first, but then to all who refuse to worship his image - Rev 13:15+) and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him." (Rev 13:7+) For how long? Three and one-half years beginning with the unmistakably clear sign in Mt 24:15 which inaugurates the time Jesus calls the "Great Tribulation" (Mt 24:21+ = Mk 13:19 = the "time of Jacob's distress" = Jer 30:7+) a time "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall," a time which Daniel describes as "a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time" (Da 12:1+) but a time which "shall be cut short" (Mt 24:22) after "a time, times, and half a time" (Da 12:7+), during which "many (Jews) will be purged, purified and refined." (Da 12:10+, cf Zech 13:8, 9, Zech 12:10, Ro 11:26-27+) God will allow the Antichrist 1260 days (42 months) to do his worst, but not one day longer, because the true Christ will return and bring that Lawless One "to an end by the appearance of His coming" (2Thes 2:7-8, 9-10). Then the true Christ will fulfill many OT prophecies (Amos 9:11,12, Jer 30:9+, Jer 31:28+, Jer 32:42, 43+, Jer 33:14, 15, 16+, Ezek 37:22, 23, 24, 25+, Zech 14:11, 16, 17), and set up His 1000 year Kingdom on earth (cp Acts 1:6, 15:13-14, 15-18, Lk 19:11 Rev 20:4-5+), demonstrating God's best after 3.5 years of Satan's worst! Indeed, "Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him." (Da 7:27+)

Ray Stedman comments - "Then shall the end come!" (Mt 24:14) With these dramatic words, Jesus begins to answer the question of the disciples, "What will be the sign of...the close of the age?"...Now He focuses upon the (to the disciples) far-distant period, which He calls "the end of the age." Without further delay He describes, in Matthew 24:15-22, the sign of the close of the age....The Lord's language here is the most somber He could employ. He is speaking of a time of trouble that is coming, the like of which has never been seen before in all human history. It will be a time of superlative distress, of unprecedented peril to human life, a time of shattering, staggering suffering, such as has never been seen before. There have been many black moments in history, but never one like this (Mt 24:21). For those who will be living in Judea (in and around Jerusalem), it will be a time to act promptly and quickly to get out of the city. It will be a time for emergency action. There will be no time left for the usual occupations of life." (The Worship of Man - Matthew 24:15-22)

SOME THOUGHTS ON
THE END OF THE AGE

John Phillips writes "The Lord's reference to telos and "enduring to the end" (Mt 24:13, 14) forms a natural bridge from the first topic (the nations of the world) to the second topic (the nation of Israel). By far the most dramatic and terrible end-time events for Israel will be the coming of the antichrist, the great tribulation, and the battle of Armageddon. These national disasters will prune the fig tree of all its bad fruit and prepare the remnant for the return of Christ." (Exploring the Gospel of Matthew)

In the preceding context Jesus links the "sign" of the abomination of desolation with the worldwide preaching of the Gospel predicting...

And this GOSPEL of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end (telos) shall come. (Mt 24:14-note)

First, notice that the immediate context of Jesus' "sign" in Mt 24:15 is "the end shall come." The end of what is the question? Some writers ignore the immediate context and say this is "a sign of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem." But the second question of the disciples in Mt 24:3 was for Jesus to give them a sign of the end of the age, not the end of the Temple. If you ask the wrong question, you will very likely arrive at the wrong interpretation as does Smith's Bible Dictionary.

Second, Jesus prophecy of the Gospel Going Global begs the question as to whether there are any other Scriptures that make a similar declaration? In Revelation the apostle John declares...

And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an ETERNAL GOSPEL (Ed: cp "the eternal covenant" Heb 13:20-note) to preach (Ed: More literally "gospelled the gospel") to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people (Ed: compare Jesus' phrase "the whole world" in Mt 24:14); and he said with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters." (Rev 14:6-7-note)

Comment: Notice that an angelically proclaimed global Gospel will be a clear sign to all of the world that the end is near! It won't be a man in Times Square wearing a sandwich sign that proclaims "The end is near"! No it will be God's messenger, an angel in midheaven! And no one will miss this sign! Of course if they don't have eyes to see or ears to hear (spiritually), they won't fully understand the implications of "the hour of His Judgment." So what is the "hour of His judgment" that "has come?" At this time in the progressive sequence of the divine judgments, the world has already experienced the 7 Seal and 7 Trumpet judgments (the Seventh Trumpet sounding in Rev 11:15) and in Revelation 14 the world is on the verge of the final outpouring of God's righteous wrath from the "seven angels who had seven plagues (referring to the Seven "Bowl" or "Vial" judgments - Rev 15:7-note, Rev 16:1-note), which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished." (Rev 15:1-note) While space precludes a detailed chronological review of the events in the Revelation, upon careful observation it is very probable that this Eternal Gospel will be proclaimed at the mid-point of the last Seven years of this age (aka Daniel's Seventieth Week). And as summarized above, the Global Gospel proclamation is contemporaneous with the unveiling of the abominable sign in Matthew 24:15! And so the world will see the convergence (if you will) of the greatest outpouring of divine wrath (3.5 years = the Great Tribulation) and the the greatest proclamation of the Gospel (Global for ALL to hear!) In the midst of wrath God remembers mercy and as Jesus prophesied "then the end shall come." (Mt 24:14)

John MacArthur commenting on Rev 14:6-7 adds that "God will graciously offer sinners another opportunity to repent before unleashing the terrifying bowl judgments (Rev 16:1ff.)....Jesus declared that before the end comes the whole world will hear the Gospel of the kingdom (Mt. 24:14). The preaching of this angel will reach any who still have not heard the Gospel message. As earth's darkest hour approaches, the angel will proclaim the Good News that it is not too late. There is still time to repent before God's judgment" is consummated. (Revelation 12-22 Commentary)

WHEN YOU SEE
A VISIBLE SIGN

When (hotan) - Hotan is a "temporal particle, with a conditional sense, usually of things expected to occur in an indefinite future." (Abbott-Smith) Stated another way, the Greek particle hotan is an expression of time which should stimulate the question "To what time does when refer?" In this context Jesus is clearly referring to the time when the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place of the Temple.

Leon Morris - When has the force of "whenever"; Jesus is giving no indication of the exact time when what He speaks of will take place. It will surely happen, but it is the occurrence and not the precise timing that occupies His interest. (Pillar NT Commentary-Matthew)

Hiebert adds that when you see "looks forward to a definite, observable future event, but the time is left indefinite, "whenever ye may see." (Ibid)

Spiros Zodhiates on when - The when is eclipsed by a "what", that is, some physical object called an "abomination of desolation" is given in place of a date. There will be a day and hour when (the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place)." (Exegetical Commentary - Matthew)

You see (3708)(horao) means literally to see with one's eyes. Jesus describes an event which would be visible to the sight. It would not be subtle or difficult to discern. As His next words suggest, if one misses this sign, there will be disastrous consequences, including potentially the loss of one's life. Don't miss this sign! And the sad thing is that those who will be living in Jerusalem (and in the world in general) when this event takes place may not have spiritual eyes to see the sign because they have been misled (compare Jesus' repeated warning = Mt 24:4, 11) into believing that the sign was fulfilled in 70AD! Lenski says the abomination "is something unmistakable and easy to see."

Ray Stedman - "When you see," said Jesus, "the man who fulfills the qualifications described in the Book of Daniel, sitting in the temple and claiming to be God, then you will know that the end of the age has arrived." It will be a literal event to occur in a specific spot on earth at a definite moment in time. The prophecy of the seventy weeks in Daniel, already referred to, clearly indicates that there yet remains a seven-year period to be inaugurated before the prophecy is fulfilled. It also declares that it is in the middle of these seven years that the Antichrist will desecrate the Jewish Temple by his claim to be God. It is evident, therefore, that it is only the last three and one half years of this seven year period which can be properly called "the end of the age." This is also designated in other places as lasting for forty-two months (Revelation 13); a time, two times, and half a time, (Daniel 7); and one thousand two hundred and sixty days, (Revelation 12). These all add up to three and one half years. Daniel also calls this the "time of the end." (The Worship of Man - Matthew 24:15-22)

Zodhiates notes that see is "the aorist active subjunctive of eídon from horao, to see and perceive with emphasis on perception. Believers will see or perceive this disgusting thing at the completion of the age (Mt 24:3). Furthermore, they will need to "mind" what was written in the book of Daniel to perceive accurately how this event fits into the general scheme.

Tony Garland addresses the timing of "when you see":

Jesus warns believers of the time of the end, especially those in Judea, to watch for this event. The event marks the near and definite approach of the end of the age. My view is that this event occurs at the midpoint of the final seven year period prior to Jesus' return.

I. Daniel 9:27 seems to indicate it takes place at the mid-point of the final of Daniel's seventy sevens, 3.5 years after the final seven is initiated by the signing of a covenant, apparently which includes permission for establish Jewish sacrifices within their temple.

II. Daniel 7:25 indicates the authority of the little horn, the Antichrist, extends over the saints for a period of 42 months, or 3.5 years.

III. Revelation 13:5 indicates the beast from the sea, the Antichrist, is granted authority for 42 months, or 3.5 years. Since his authority ends with the Second Coming of Christ, his stranglehold on power commences with this act of desecration.

IV. Revelation 12:6 and Revelation 12:14 indicate that the Jewish remnant which flees from the persecution of the Antichrist is protected and nourished by God for 1260 days or a time and times and half a time: a period of 3.5 360-day years. This protection is needed until the arrival of Jesus at the Second Coming (Matthew 24 Commentary Notes)

THE DEFINITE SIGN OF THE END:
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION

The abomination of desolation (to bdelugma tes eremoseos) - this phrase which is also found in the book of Daniel (see discussion below) may be translated, "the abomination which makes desolate or lays waste." Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary adds that "Daniel prophesied that the Temple would be used for an abominable purpose at some time in the future. As a result, God's faithful people would no longer worship there—so great would be their moral revulsion, contempt, and abhorrence at the sacrilege—and the Temple would become desolate."

Hiebert - The abomination denotes an object of disgust, something loathsome and detestable, while the genitive of desolation describes the effect produced, causing something to be deserted and left desolate....The expression thus denotes that which, as a symbol of heathenism, is detestable to God and His people. It portrays not the destruction of the temple but rather its profanation." (Ibid) Note Hiebert's distinction between destruction and profanation -- Luke 21:20-24 does not use the word abomination, because there Jesus describes not it's profanation but its destruction!

John Broadus on abomination of desolation - The Greek construction makes it the abomination characterized by desolation, which might be as a token or as a cause of desolation. (Ref)

John MacArthur on abomination of desolation - In other words, the abomination causes the desolation. (Matthew: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Thomas Constable - The abomination of desolation "describes something that because of its abominable character causes the godly to desert the temple on its account."

D A Carson says the abomination of desolation "means "the abomination characterized by desolation," leaving it unclear whether the abomination "causes" desolation (NIV; cf. McNeile, "the abominable thing that layeth waste"; RSV, "the desolating sacrilege") or is simply a token of it. The former is more likely. The expression occurs four times in Daniel (Da 8:13; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). (Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Bolding added)

R C H Lenski on abomination of desolation - "Abomination" is the main term, something that is utterly abominable in God's sight, and this will occur right in the Temple that is consecrated to God. The genitive "of desolation" characterizes the abomination according to the effect it must produce, namely desolate the desecrated Temple, leave it empty of worshippers. The moment the believers see this (and it is something unmistakable and easy to see) they are to flee the country posthaste. (The Interpretation of St Matthew's Gospel)

Note that Lenski (who interprets Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70AD) reads "holy place" literally recognizing the abomination as something that "will occur right in the Temple" and also acknowledges that the abomination will be a clear, visible warning, one which allows those who see it time to flee the fury that follows!

So what is the sign? What is the abomination of desolation that makes desolate and serves as a signal to those who see it to flee?

While there are many interpretations of the identity of the abomination of desolation (including Pilate, Caligula, Hadrian, etc) there really only 3 main interpretations, and remember only one can be the correct interpretation.

(1) The Future Antichrist - This is only futuristic interpretation and it refers either to the Antichrist himself and/or his blasphemous image.

(2) The Roman Army - This is by far the most popular interpretation, but as will be shown below is also the most improbable interpretation! Most commentators base this interpretation on Luke's similar (but note carefully -- not identical) description in Luke 21:20-24. See Chart comparing and contrasting the descriptions by Luke and Matthew. Most Bible Dictionaries favor this interpretation (Easton, Smith, but the Morrish Dictionary is an exception)

(3) The Jewish Zealots - "Shortly before A.D. 70 the Zealots were in the temple precincts during the war with Rome, and their presence could have been considered a desecration." (Reformation Study Bible - preterist interpretation) Henry Alford holds this view (Ref). Why would the Zealots be offered as a candidate for the abomination? It is because these commentators recognize the problem of identifying the Roman Army as the abomination and understand it could not possibly be the Roman Army because it would have been too late to flee the city once the Army had broken into the city.

All of the most "highly acclaimed" commentaries on Matthew interpret the abomination in light of Luke 21:20-24 and thus usually interpret the abomination as the Roman Army. A survey of Matthew commentaries written prior to 1900 as show that almost all of these commentaries also identify the abomination of desolation as the Roman Army and very few even mention the possibility that this might be related to the Antichrist (Trapp is an exception).

The paucity of older (and even newer) commentaries that mention the possibility that the Antichrist is the abomination of desolation is surprising in light of the fact that "the earliest and best supported identification equates this desecration with the Antichrist. As early as Hippolytus (170-235AD; click for eschatology of Hippolytus) and Irenaeus, (130-202AD) 2Th 2:3-note, 2Th 2:4-note had been associated with Mk 13:14. This adversary (1) exalts himself and opposes everything connected with God, (2) sits in the sanctuary of God, and (3) proclaims that he is God. Since Mark had used a masculine participle, hestēkóta, where the antecedent would normally have demanded a neuter, this connection seems secure." (ISBE, revised edition) (Related resource: References to the Antichrist in the Early Church)

Some like Albert Barnes (published in the 1880's) flat out stated "The abomination of desolation means the Roman army, and is so explained by Luke 21:20."

One modern writer, Larry Chouinard, has an interesting comment on the identification of the abomination writing - Some have speculated that the presence of Roman soldiers and the planting of their shields in the temple precincts might be the detestable act that will signal the necessity of flight. However, once the Romans had entered the city and planted their shields on holy ground it would have been too late to safely flee the city (see Josephus, J.W. 6.6.1, 316). Other attempts to identify some specific event that might be understood as the "desolating sacrilege" can at best be viewed only as guesswork. The most that can be said is that the disciples were to flee when events associated with the Jewish wars (A.D. 66-70) so compromised the sanctity of the temple that its destruction was inevitable. (Matthew, College Press, 1997) Can you see the basic flaw in his logic? Jesus is describing a clearly visible sign ("When you see..."), but if it is something that can be "viewed only as guesswork," then it is hardly a reliable sign! A sign points to something, but you have to be able to read and understand (just as Jesus' commanded in Mt 24:15 "let the reader understand") the sign in order to recognize the thing to which it points. So this issue is more than a matter of intellectual debate, for in the future when the abomination stands in the holy place, it is Jesus' clear signal to flee for you life!

Adam Clarke also dogmatically states that the "abomination of desolation, St. Luke, (Luke 21:20, 21:21), refers to the Roman army; and this abomination standing in the holy place is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem....The Roman army is called an abomination, for its ensigns and images, which were so to the Jews. Josephus says, (War, b. vi. chap. 6 - see this quote in my comment below), the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over against the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there. The Roman army is therefore fitly called the abomination, and the abomination which maketh desolate, as it was to desolate and lay waste Jerusalem; and this army besieging Jerusalem is called by St. Mark, Mark 13:14, standing where it ought not, that is, as in the text here, the holy place; as not only the city (Ed: Mt 24:15 makes NO mention of "the city!"), but a considerable compass of ground about it, was deemed holy, and consequently no profane persons should stand on it." (Ref)

Comment on Adam Clarke's interpretation - First let's read the quote from Josephus to which Clarke alludes =

"And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns (See Kitto's diagrams) to the temple, (18) and set them over-against its eastern gate. And there (Ed: Where? At the Eastern Gate!) did they offer sacrifices to them: and there did they make Titus Imperator (19) with the greatest acclamations of joy." (Josephus- Of the War, Book VI. Chapter 6.1)

What do you observe about the sequence of events? Note that the "holy house itself and all of the buildings round about" was burned. You may be asking "So what?" Well, the point is that Jesus clearly stated the abomination would stand in the holy place, but that is a problem, because there was no holy place in which the ensigns could be standing! Jesus' words literally interpreted are thus not fulfilled by the placement of the ensigns "over-against its eastern gate." You may say that is simply semantics but the simple fact is that these sacrifices, as abominable as they were, were NOT performed in the holy place because the holy place had been burned! Words mean something and the point is that Jesus' words are not fulfilled by the Roman Army according to Josephus' description (see following discussion).

WHY THE ABOMINATION IS
NOT THE ROMAN ARMY

It is surprising that so many writers interpret the Roman army as the entity which Jesus predicted would be "standing in the holy place," the Jewish Temple (Mt 24:15)! Below is a summary of the reasons that illustrate why such an interpretation is very unlikely.

(1) If one reads Jesus' words literally, the interpretation of the Roman Army as the abomination is not even logical. Why? Because it is not even a physical possibility--there would not be enough room for the Roman army to stand IN the Temple! Of course commentators are forced to "interpolate" Jesus' words and say He did not mean the Temple proper but the Temple grounds, or something to this effect.

(2) Jesus clearly stated the abomination will be standing in the holy place. He did not say it would be encircling or surrounding the city. Standing (Mt 24:15) and surrounded (Lk 21:20) are distinct, different verbs indicating different actions.

(3) Jesus did not generalize and say the abomination would occur in the city of Jerusalem. but clearly stated that the abomination would take place in the holy place, the Jewish Temple.

(4) Compare the parallel passage in Mark: "the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be." (Mk 13:14ESV)

Comment: Notice that the ESV does have have "standing where it" but "standing where he" which is an accurate translation of the Greek verb standing which is masculine gender and singular. It would be difficult to say this "he" of Mk 13:14ESV is the Roman Army! It follows that Mark's use of the masculine singular to describe the abomination is much more compatible with an individual rather than an army!

Indeed, the well respected ESV Study Bible note on Mark 13:14ESV reads "The abomination of desolation (cf. Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) points to the Antichrist's ultimate desecration of God's temple." (Bolding added for emphasis)  (ESV Study Bible BORROW)

(5) Jesus refers the reader to Daniel, explaining that Daniel spoke about the abomination. In light of Jesus' recommendation, it is notable that Daniel spoke extensively about the Antichrist in chapters 7, 9 and 11 (the "Little Horn", "the Beast," "the King"). So this begs the question, did Daniel speak about the Roman army?

While the King James Version has a translation note on Da 9:27 that says "with the abominable armies," the Hebrew word this marginal NOTE (not the actual translation) translates as "armies" is kanaph which is better translated wing. In fact not one of the 85 uses of kanaph in the Old Testament is translated as army in either the NAS [bird*(1), corner(1), corners(4), covering(1), each other(1), edge(5), edges(1), ends(3), fold(2), garment(1), kind(3), skirt(3), skirts(1), sorts(1), wing(14), winged(5), wings(58), wings were each other(1), wingspan(1).] or the KJV (wing 74, skirt 14, borders 2, corners 2, ends 2, feathered 2, sort 2, winged 2, misc 8)! In sum, to appeal to the lone KJV translation NOTE which is not found in any other version is tenuous, especially if one seeks to use this point as a major argument that Mt 24:15 is a description of the Roman army.

(6) By the time the Roman Army was "standing" in the holy place, it would have been too late to flee. (See also point #7)

Many of the commentaries which favor a 70AD interpretation of Mt 24:15 are forced to admit that this fact creates a serious problem with their interpretation. For example, the Pulpit Commentary writes

"If the Temple itself is meant (referring to the phrase "holy place"), it is plain that it would be too late to fly from that doomed city when the Roman eagles were already in the hallowed courts."

The respected theologian D A Carson (discussed more below) states

"The obvious occasion (Ed: of the occurrence of the abomination of desolation), in general terms, is AD 70, though certain difficulties must be faced."

Carson explains one serious difficulty with a 70AD interpretation writing that

"by the time the Romans had actually desecrated the Temple in AD 70, it was too late for anyone in the city to flee."

John Broadus recognizing problem #6, writes

"Holy place cannot well mean distinctively the temple in this case, for when the Roman standards stood in the temple it was too late for fleeing to the mountain." (Ref)

Broadus makes at least two errors. (1) As discussed in #7 the Roman standards were never placed in the actual Temple. (2) Broadus is so committed to the 70AD interpretation that he is willing to say holy place does not really mean holy place, the Temple!

Beloved, Jesus was very clear about where the abomination of desolation would stand, unless one seeks to attribute to Mt 24:15 an interpretation which Jesus never intended!

(7) Josephus writes that when the city walls were finally scaled, the Temple itself was actually burned. Therefore it would not have been possible for the Roman Army to place their idolatrous ensigns in the holy place. In fact Josephus says that they placed them against the gate on the East. The gate on the East is NOT the holy place. (See Josephus- Of the War, Book 6. Chapter 6. Paragraph 1 )

(8) Josephus records that Titus had a "retaining wall" constructed around Jerusalem prior to entering the city which would have removed all hope of escape for Jews still in the city. (See Josephus' record)

Notice that this retaining wall was built before the Roman Army even broke through the walls of Jerusalem, before the Roman Army could even have stood in the holy place!

Another historical fact recorded by Thoralf Gilbrant is that "the Romans cut down every tree within a mile of Jerusalem, so there would be no cover to help people escape or to allow food or supplies to be brought in. Thus the conditions mentioned in this verse fit the later time of tribulation foretold in the Book of Revelation and in Daniel 9 (Daniel's 70th Week), rather than 70 AD." (The Complete Biblical Library: The New Testament Study Bible - Matthew).

(9) Another reason that the Roman Army is unlikely the abomination in Mt 24:15 is that as Jesus presents the sign, the sign seems to happen rather abruptly, which implies that it will take the spectators by surprise. And yet clearly there was no surprise when the Romans advanced and began to lay siege to the city for seven months before its fall in September, AD 70. Admittedly this argument is somewhat "softer," but still has merit.

David Guzik - Through the centuries, the most common interpretive approach to the predictions Jesus made in this chapter is to see them all or mostly all fulfilled in the great destruction that came upon Jerusalem and Judea in a.d. 70. This approach is attractive in some ways, especially in that it makes the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:34 easy to understand. Yet the approach that sees this chapter as all or mostly all fulfilled in a.d. 70 is completely inadequate in its supposed fulfillment of the abomination of desolation. In this approach, the abomination of desolation is almost always understood to be the Roman armies or the ensigns they carried.

Yet when we understand the importance and what is said about this event - the abomination of desolation - we must give priority to this event, even more than the easiest interpretation of Matthew 24:34 .

  • It is the critical sign mentioned in Matthew 24.
  • It is the warning to flee mentioned in Matthew 24.
  • It is the sign of the consummation of all things in Daniel 9:27 .
  • It is the sign foreshadowed by Antiochus Epiphanies in Daniel 11:31 .
  • It is the precise marker of days to the end in Daniel 12:11 .
  • It is the revelation of the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 .
  • It is the image of the beast in Revelation 13:14-15 .

Taking these passages in their most plain meaning, the abomination of desolation cannot be the Roman armies or the ensigns they marched under; it cannot be totalitarian governments or any other conjecture. The abomination of desolation must be some kind of image of the Antichrist set in an actual temple, and is the decisive sign for the end. (Enduring Word Bible Commentary Matthew Chapter 24)

MATTHEW AND LUKE GIVE
DIFFERENT "SIGNS"

Most of the writers who favor Mt 24:15 as historically fulfilled in 70AD appeal to Luke 21:20-24 (see commentary) to support their interpretation, as this passage clearly describes the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. These writers seem to automatically default to the assumption that Luke 21 is describing the same event as Matthew. However, if one carefully observes the parallel passages in Luke and Matthew, there are a number of differences (See Chart Comparison). In fact, if one reads Mt 24:15-22 and Lk 21:20-24 literally, it seems clear that Jesus is describing two distinctly different events, one that is yet to occur in the future (Mt 24:15) and one that has occurred in the past (Lk 21:20)!

Hiebert comments on the differences in the signs in Mark 13:14 (and Mt 24:15) and Luke 21:20 -

The sign given in Luke 21:20 relates to the historical fall of Jerusalem. But Luke's sign, Jerusalem surrounded by armies, is not the same as that given in the other Synoptics, namely, the abomination of desolation in the temple. Luke 21:20-24 records a part of the Olivet Discourse which has no exact parallel in the other two Gospels. It (Ed: Mk 13:14) vividly pictures the capture of the city and the resultant condition reaching to the end of the age. The similarity of Luke's picture to that of the other Synoptics had generally led to the assumption that they refer to the same event. While the two events have much in common, there are features in Mark's (Ed: and Matthew's) account which clearly look beyond the fall of Jerusalem and relate to the eschatological end."

ABOMINATION
OF DESOLATION

Abomination (946)(bdelugma) is derived from the verb bdelusso which means to emit a foul odor or to turn away on account of a stench. Figuratively bdelusso speaks of that which causes loathing or disgust. An "abomination" is something detestable or loathsome and in Mt 24:15 the genitive of desolation describes the effect produced, causing something to be deserted and left desolate.

In short, bdelugma describes something detestable, especially that which is detestable to God and thus that which He rejects (such as pagan gods or things associated with idolatry). As discussed below, the abomination that Jesus describes appears to refer to an idol (an image to be worshipped) which is set up in the Temple (cp Rev 13:14-15-note).In the Old Testament, the term abomination denoted idolatry or sacrilege (Dt. 29:16-17; 1Kings 11:6-7; 2Kings 16:3; 23:13; Ezek 8:9-17). In 1Maccabees 1:54NRSV "an abomination of desolation" is used to describe the altar of Zeus.

Vincent has a note on bdelugma - The cognate (related) verb, bdelussomai, means to feel a nausea or loathing for food: hence used of disgust generally. In a moral sense it denotes an object of moral or religious repugnance. See 2Chr 15:8; Jer. 13:27; Ezek. 11:21; Da. 9:27; 11:31. It is used as equivalent to idol in 1Ki 11:17; Dt. 7:26; 2Ki 23:13. It denotes anything in which estrangement from God manifests itself; as the eating of unclean beasts, Lev 11:11; Dt. 14:3; and, generally, all forms of heathenism. This moral sense must be emphasized in the New Testament use of the word. Compare Lk 16:15; Rev 17:4, 5; 21:27. It does not denote mere physical or esthetic disgust."

Comment: Unfortunately Vincent then proceeds to speculate that "The reference here is probably to the occupation of the temple precincts by the idolatrous Romans under Titus, with their standards and ensigns." Josephus says that, after the burning of the temple the Romans brought their ensigns and set them over against the eastern gate, and there they offered sacrifices to them, and declared Titus, with acclamations, to be emperor."

Think about what Vincent has just stated -- He reasoned that offering sacrifices at the eastern gate is the equivalent of the abomination standing in the holy place, the Temple! In fact as Vincent acknowledges, the Temple had already been burned to the ground by the time the soldiers offered their sacrifices. Jesus' prophecy was therefore not literally fulfilled by sacrifices at the eastern gate! If Jesus had meant the eastern gate (a very specific location), would He not have stated it clearly? After all, recognition of this sign was to be followed by fleeing for one's life. Jesus would hardly have been ambiguous! Furthermore, any Jews who could have witnessed this pagan sacrifice would hardly have been able to flee to safety given that the city had already been taken and the Temple sacked! This is a major difficulty with the speculation that the Roman Army is the abomination of desolation! Furthermore, Jesus' call to flee upon seeing the sign would have been superfluous! The point is that words mean something and the words of warning from Jesus mean something and they will be especially meaningful in the future when the Jews read the Gospel of Matthew and actually see the abomination of desolation in the Temple! A 70AD fulfillment simply makes no sense if one allows the text (and Jesus) to say what it (He) says!

A T Robertson says the cognate verb ( bdelussomai) means "to feel nausea because of stench, to abhor, to detest. Idolatry was a stench to God (Lk 16:15; Rev 17:4)." Then Robertson like most commentaries speculates that "the desolation in the mind of Jesus is apparently the Roman army (Lk 21:20-see note) in the Temple, an application of the words of Daniel to this dread event. Josephus tells us that the Romans burned the temple and offered sacrifices to their ensigns placed by the eastern gate when they proclaimed Titus as Emperor." As noted above a burned temple simply would not allow Jesus' prophecy to be literally fulfilled!

Robert Gundry - "Of desolation" describes the sacrilege as causing worshipers of the one true God to desert the temple, to abandon it, because it has been profaned. "Desolation" can hardly refer to destruction; for then the abomination wouldn't be standing there, and it would be too late to flee. So Jesus is still ignoring the disciples' question about the time of the temple's destruction. (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation)

Desolation (2050)(eremosis from eremoo = to desolate, lay waste) means a state of being made uninhabitable = devastation, destruction, depopulation. Luke 21:20 refers to the city of Jerusalem. Matthew 24:15 refers to the holy place (the Temple). Mark 13:14 clearly parallels Mt 24:15 but instead of "standing in the holy place" Mark has "standing where it should not be."

Eremosis - 3v - Mt 24:15, Mark 13:14, Luke 21:20

Lk 21:20-note "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her (Jerusalem's) desolation is at hand."

The related adjective eremos was used by Jesus when He prophesied to the Jews "Behold, your house (Temple) is being left to you desolate!" (Mt 23:38). In Mt 24:26 eremos is translated wilderness, which is the most frequent way it is translated in the NT.

Eremosis - 26x in 23v in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Lev 26:34-35; 2Chr 30:7; 36:21; Ps 73:19; Jer 4:7 ("To make your land a waste"); Jer 7:34 ("the land will become a ruin"); Jer 22:5; 25:18; 44:6, 22; Dan 8:13; 9:2, 18, 25, 27; 11:31; 12:11. See discussion of Daniel passages in discussion of abomination of desolation below.

Leviticus 26:34-35 'Then the land will enjoy its Sabbaths all the days of the desolation (Hebrew = shamen/samen; Lxx = eremosis) while you are in your enemies' land; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 'All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your Sabbaths, while you were living on it.

2Chronicles 36:21 - (verse 20 for context) And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days of its desolation (Hebrew = shamen/samen; Lxx = eremosis) it kept Sabbath until seventy years were complete.

Jeremiah 7:34 "Then I will make to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land will become a ruin. (Hebrew = chorbah = waste, desolation; Lxx = eremosis)

Jeremiah 22:5 "But if you will not obey these words, I swear by Myself," declares the LORD, "that this house will become a desolation (Hebrew = chorbah = waste, desolation; Lxx = eremosis)."'

Daniel 9:2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations (Hebrew = chorbah = waste, desolation; Lxx = eremosis) of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

DANIEL THE PROPHET SPOKE ABOUT
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION

Which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet - Jesus in essence calls for us to examine the book of Daniel to help determine the meaning of the sign, the abomination of desolation. The words of God spoken through His prophet Daniel are to be studied in order to gain insight into the identification of the strategic sign. Now pause for a moment and think about the implication of this statement. Many see the abomination of desolation as the Roman army in 70AD, but is there any passage in the book of Daniel that describes the Roman army? As we discussed above any mention that might be interpreted as the Roman Army is tenuous at best. So just by reasoning from Daniel (as Jesus exhorted us to do), it follows that the popular interpretation of the Roman Army as the abomination is highly unlikely to be the correct interpretation. As the brilliant scientist Albert Einstein once quipped "What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right."

One would think that since Jesus instructs us to consult Daniel for insights into the meaning of abomination, then Daniel should give us clear insight, which is not the case if we try to interpret abomination as an army. The fact that Daniel does not substantiate the Roman Army as the abomination is clearly a major difficulty with the interpretation that the Roman army was the abomination in 70AD. (See summary of points against a historical fulfillment).

Stedman commenting on our Lord's words "spoken of through Daniel the prophet" explains that "No book of the Old Testament has been so unfavorably dealt with by the critics as the Book of Daniel. The validity of its authorship by Daniel has been scorned and it has been ascribed to some unknown writer who lived no more than a 100 to 160 years before Christ; its prophetic content has been flatly denied; and in many ways it has been more violently attacked than any other book in the Bible (See Defense of Daniel by Tony Garland). Yet it is sheer presumptive arrogance for any alleged disciple of Jesus Christ to take a view of Scripture that contradicts the view of the Master! The Lord Jesus here (Mt 24:15) clearly regards the Book of Daniel as a valid prophecy, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and accurate in detail." (The Worship of Man - Matthew 24:15-22)

FOUR PROSPECTIVE
PASSAGES IN DANIEL

There are primarily 4 prospective passages in Daniel to which Jesus could have been referring in Mt 24:15: (1) Daniel 8:13, (2) Daniel 9:27, (3) Daniel 11:31, (4) Daniel 12:11. All are discussed in more detail below. Suffice it to say here that Daniel 8:13 and Daniel 11:31 are unlikely as even prior to Jesus' prophecy both of these prophecies had been fulfilled by the Antiochus IV Epiphanes circa 167BC. Of course although both of these passages have been fulfilled, they still serve to foreshadow the event Jesus described in Matthew 24:15.

As an aside notice that Daniel 9:26 clearly predicted the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD

Then after the sixty-two weeks (plus 7 weeks = 69 weeks) the Messiah will be cut off (crucifixion) and have nothing, and the people (the Romans) of the prince who is to come (the Antichrist) will destroy the city (of Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Holy Place = the Temple). And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. (Da 9:26-note)

And so we are left with Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11 as the two passages that are most helpful in giving one insight into the identity of the abomination of desolation. In a careful study of the book of Daniel both of these passages are clearly positioned in the end times and refer to events which have not yet been fulfilled. This statement of course is based upon a literal interpretation of Daniel's prophecies and not an approach which spiritualizes the text looking of hidden meanings. My approach is to read the plain text in its normal sense paying close attention to the context. In short, if the plain sense makes good sense in context, I seek to make no other sense (contrived, spiritualized, imagined, etc), or it is very likely to be nonsense!

D A Carson agrees writing "Jesus, then, is identifying Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 with certain events about to take place." (Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Notice that while Daniel 12:11 has the identical phrase (abomination of desolation) which Jesus used in Mt 24:15, Daniel 9:27 also uses both abomination (Hebrew = shiqquts; Lxx = bdelugma) and desolation (Hebrew = shamen/samen; Lxx = eremosis).

Notice also that Jesus did not quote a specific Scripture reference in Daniel, and therefore He left open the entire prophecy of Daniel as potentially useful to help understand the identity of the abomination of desolation. In fact, if one views the abomination of desolation as the Antichrist (either he himself or his image), it is clear that Daniel speaks about this man, referring to him by three names including "little horn," (Da 7:8-note), "the beast" (Da 7:11-note, cp Rev 13:2-3, 4-5) and "the king" (Da 11:36-45-note).

Let's look at these four passages in obedience to Jesus' command to "let the reader understand." May God's Spirit grant us His understanding in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For background note that the Hebrew word for abomination (08251) is shiqquts which is found in all passages except Daniel 8:13. Shiqquts is a very strong word referring to that which is filthy, detestable, abhorrent, or disgusting. In the OT shiqquts was always used in connection with idolatrous practices, either referring to the idols themselves as being abhorrent and detestable in God's sight, or to something associated with the idolatrous ritual (Jer 16:18, 2Ki 23:13, 24, Ezek 5:11, 7:20, 11:18,21). In the Septuagint, shiqquts is translated with bdelugma in Da 11:31-note, Da 12:11 and Da 9:27.

Note also (although it is a bit technical) the Greek phrase used by Jesus in Mt 24:15 is "bdelugma tes eremoseos" which is very similar to 3 "candidate" passages in Daniel. The Greek phrase in the Septuagint (Lxx) (Greek translation of the Hebrew text) of Daniel 9:27 = "bdelugma ton eremoseon," and of Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11 = "bdelugma eremoseos." Daniel 9:27 comes closest to the Greek phrase in Matthew as both use the definite Greek article (tes, ton).

(1) THIS PROPHECY FULFILLED - Daniel 8:13-commentary Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, "How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror ("the transgression that makes desolate"), so as to allow both the holy place (Temple) and the host (the Jews) to be trampled?"

This prophecy was fulfilled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the "Antichrist of the Old Testament" as some have called him, when he caused an altar to be set up in the Temple and placed an idolatrous image of Zeus on the altar (see 2Macc 6:2NRSV below). In addition, he turned the priest's chambers into brothels, creating an "abomination that causes desolation". In other words, the Temple was desolate to pious Jews because of the desecration of the holy altar. The Jews had no desire to worship in such a polluted environment and thus the Temple was deprived of (made "desolate" of) Jewish worshippers.

In a similar way the future Antichrist will set up an abomination in the sanctuary, which is counterfeit worship (Da 9:27-note; Da 12:11-note). Even more blatantly defiant of God, the Antichrist will command worship of himself and his image! (2Th 2:3-note, 2Th 2:4-note, Rev 13:14-note, Rev 13:15-note) God will allow this gross evil because He is using this devilish man to fulfill His purging and purifying purpose in the nation of Israel (cp Da 12:10-note). While the infinitely good and holy God does not cause evil, in His infinite wisdom and omnipotence is able to bring good out of what others mean for evil. (cf Ge 50:20, Ro 8:28-note)

The Apocrypha records the desecration of the holy place by Antiochus IV Epiphanes when he commanded that an abomination be carried out in the Temple in approximately 168-167BC:

1 Maccabees 1:54NRSV (Context = 1Mac 1:41-64NRSV) "Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege (bdelugma eremoseos, cp the Greek in Mt 24:15 = to bdelugma tes eremoseos) on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah"

1 Maccabees 1:46-50NRSV = "[The king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, gave written orders = 1Maccabees 1:44NRSV] to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable (Verb = bdelusso) by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added, "And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die."

2 Maccabees 6:2NRSV also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and to call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus-the-Friend-of-Strangers, as did the people who lived in that place.

(2) THIS PROPHECY NOT YET FULFILLED - Daniel 9:27-commentary "And he (the prince in Da 9:26-commentary) will make a firm covenant with the many (the Jews) for one week (7 years = Daniel's Seventieth Week), but in the middle of the week (3.5 years) he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."

The NIV translation of Da 9:27 says he "will set up an abomination that causes desolation until the end that is decreed is poured out on him" (Da 9:27NIV)

Comment: Notice that both Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11 refer to the abolition of sacrifices and association with abomination that makes desolate. The question arises as to who is "he" in Daniel 9:27? Without going into a detailed discussion, this individual has all the attributes of the future "Antichrist." (See also Da 11:36-note where he is referred to as "the king" who "will do as he pleases.") For an in depth discussion of "one week" and the identity of "he" as the future Antichrist see the commentary on Daniel 9:27.

See also: Time Phrases - 3.5 years, "Time, times, half a time", 42 mo, 1260 days - The chances that the Spirit inspired these identical time phrases as simply coincidence is highly unlikely. Any intelligent observer must be struck by the fact that they are (1) identical times and (2) used in a similar, sometimes identical eschatological context. To interpret these time phrases as figures of speech is as absurd as interpreting Jesus' promise to rise from the in 3 days! Just as Jesus literally meant what He said, so too these time phrases are to be interpreted literally. To not do so is to not be intellectually honest (in my opinion)!

(3) THIS PROPHECY FULFILLED - Daniel 11:31-commentary - "And forces from him (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation."

Comment: In the context of Daniel 11:1-45, this prophetic passage was fulfilled in 167 BC when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (the "Rather Small Horn" of Da 8:9-commentary) placed an idol in the Temple to honor the pagan god Zeus. Antiochus' soldiers even profaned the Temple by spreading sow's broth on the altar and banning daily sacrifices (see comments on Da 8:14). This passage would not fulfill Matthew 24:15 because it was past history at the time Jesus spoke His words of warning. Remember that the context is Jesus giving His disciples a sign of sign of His "coming, and of the end of the age" (Mt 24:3). As noted earlier the abomination committed by Antiochus in 167 BC clearly foreshadowed the future abomination.

John MacArthur - He took to himself the title Theos Epiphanes, which means "manifest god," but his enemies nicknamed him Epimanes, which means "madman" or "the insane one." Ironically, when he died in 163, he was totally insane, outraged to the point of madness because of his military defeats by the Jewish rebel Judas Maccabaeus. The text of Daniel 11:21-35 perfectly describes the rule of Antiochus, who gained his throne "by intrigue" (Da 11:21), made numerous excursions into Egypt (Da 11:24-27), broke his covenant with Israel (Da 11:28), and desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem (Da 11:31). The apocryphal books of 1 and 2 Maccabees vividly portray the time of Antiochus and the Jews' zealous resistance to his brutal and sacrilegious tyranny. He slaughtered countless thousands of Jewish men, sold many of their wives and children into slavery, and tried to completely obliterate the Jewish religion. He desecrated the Temple by sacrificing a pig, the most ceremonially unclean of all animals, on the altar and forcing the priests to eat its flesh. He then set up in the Temple an idol of Zeus, the pagan deity he fancied himself as manifesting. That horrible defilement by Antiochus was a preview of the even greater abomination of desolation to be committed by the Antichrist in the end time. (MacArthur NT Commentary - Matthew)

(4) THIS PROPHECY NOT YET FULFILLED - Daniel 12:11-commentary "And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.

Comment: In the context of Daniel 12:1-13 (end times), this could be the passage to which Jesus referred in Mt 24:15. If one compares Scripture to Scripture, the seminal event (abolition of regular sacrifice and setting up the abomination of desolation) is similar to Daniel's description of the sacrifices in Daniel 9:27.

John MacArthur on the 1290 days - From the time the daily sacrifice is canceled and the abomination of desolation begins, 1290 days will pass until the end, 30 more days than three and one half years. Yet according to Revelation 12:6, the Great Tribulation will last 1260 days. It seems that the best explanation for those additional days is that they will cover the time when the Messiah descends to the Mount of Olives, creates the great valley in which the nations of the world will be judged, and executes that judgment (see Zech. 14:4-5; Matt. 25:31-46).

So who or what is the abomination of desolation? As alluded to in the discussion of Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11 it seems relatively clear (if one reads the text literally = "let the reader understand") that the abomination has some association with that future figure known as the Antichrist. The abomination could either be the presence of the Antichrist himself standing in the holy place or the placing of his image in the holy place. The following Scriptures from Paul and John help shed light on the identity of the abomination.

PAUL'S "MAN OF LAWLESSNESS"
IN SECOND THESSALONIANS

In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul describes the Antichrist, the end times man of lawlessness admonishing the saints...

Let no one in any way deceive you, for (term of explanation) it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed (apokalupto = to reveal by "removing the cover" exposing to full view) , the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that (term of purpose) he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? (2Th 2:3-note, 2Th 2:4-note 2Th 2:5) (See similar description in Da 11:36, where the "king" is the Antichrist)

Paul warned the believers at Thessalonica about the man of lawlessness and gave a description that would enable one to clearly recognize him = he "takes his seat in the Temple (cp "holy place" of Mt 24:15) of God, displaying himself as being God." Clearly, any man who went into the Temple and claimed deity would blaspheme God, which would be an abomination to the Jews and they would abhor the defiled area (it would become a "desolation"). Comparing Paul's description with the descriptions of Jesus (Mt 24:15, Mk 13:14) and Daniel (Daniel 9:27, Daniel 12:11), there is little doubt that they all refer to the same man, the Antichrist (see Antichrist). Remember that Antichrist (a title used only once for a specific individual = 1Jn 2:18) can mean one who opposes Christ. But the prefix "anti-" also means in place of, so this last Antichrist will be a supplanter and will seek to replace the true Messiah. Notice also that just as Jesus links the abomination of desolation with His Second Coming (Mt 24:30), Paul links the abominable event of 2Thes 2:3-4 with the Second Coming writing "that lawless one (Antichrist - 2Th 2:3) will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming." (2Thes 2:8-9) This further substantiates the premise that Jesus and Paul are referring to the same man, the Antichrist, and the same sign the abomination that makes the holy place desolate!

JOHN'S "BEAST"
IN REVELATION 13

In the Revelation 13 John writes..

And he (False Prophet) deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast (Antichrist), telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15 And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (Rev 13:14-15-note)

Tony Garland summarizes how the descriptions by Paul and John help us understand the nature of the abomination of desolation:

While Scripture does not say, it would appear that one purpose of the icon (image) is to occupy the place of worship in the "holy place" (Mt. 24:15) on an ongoing basis as the focal point of worship. The image serves as the center of worship allowing the Beast to go about his other affairs of state. This probably occurs after the initial declaration of deity made in the person of the Beast himself (2Th. 2:4).

The term abomination refers to an image or an idol. This event is also mentioned in Matthew 24:15-16: . . . The only clue given is that it will be something standing (like an image or idol) in the Holy Place. . . . the Abomination of Desolation must include something more than merely the Antichrist's self-proclamation of deity. Furthermore, the Daniel and Matthew passages implied an image or idol that would be erected in the Temple. (Arnold Fruchtenbaum)

The fact that nothing like what is recorded in our text happened in the first century represents no problem for Preterists who find fulfillment in the time of Nero. The details are simply swept aside. Typical of preterism's refusal to interpret the text at face value is the example found in Gregg:

The making of an image to the beast (Rev 13:14), or an image of the beast (Rev 13:15), the giving breath to the image, and the requirement that all men worship it are difficult features to correlate with any action known to have occurred in Israel in the first century. This need not be taken literally, however, and can simply refer to the Jew's general homage to Rome's authority. [emphasis added] (Steve Gregg - Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary)

Here we see a excellent example of the exegetical gearshift we mentioned related to the Preterist Interpretation of this book. Their technique is to search first century documents for an approximate "fulfillment" of the literal text. When the documents cannot produce even an approximate connection, then the gear shifts to non-literal interpretation in order to move over the "speed bump." With such a fluid means of interpretation, the authority of Scripture to specify what constitutes fulfillment is subverted. (Revelation 13 Commentary)

TAKING A STAND

Standing in the holy place - As discussed below, this place is the holy place, the Temple and NOT the holy city of Jerusalem, which is never called the "holy place" but "the holy city" (Mt 4:5, 27:53, Rev 11:2). An abomination that stands in this place would cause desolation of the holy place because it would defile that which was supposed to be kept holy.

Many commentaries refuse to take Jesus' words holy place literally because to do so makes it virtually impossible to say the Roman Army was the abomination. For example, Matthew Poole (ref) writes "When, saith our Lord, you shall see the abominable armies stand in the holy place, that is, upon the holy ground, (as all Judea was)...." Notice how Poole gives his "amplified" definition of holy place to include not only "holy ground" but even "all Judea!" This is simply not good hermeneutics, but is a good example of what occurs when one jettisons the plain sense meaning of a word or phrase.

Standing (2476)(histemi) means to stand or appear before some one or some thing and thus to be situated in a particular place or position. Matthew uses the perfect tense which speaks of an action that takes place at a specific point in time and manifests continuing results or effects. In other words it conveys the sense that the abomination of desolation will take a stand at some time in the future and will remain standing in the holy place. While my view sees this abomination as the person of the Antichrist or his image (see summary), the verb histemi here in Mt 24:15 is not masculine but neuter and so some appeal to this as a finding which excludes the Antichrist. However, Mark's version (Mk 13:14ESV) uses the same verb (histemi) also in the perfect tense, but changes the gender to masculine, which counters those who attempt to use Matthew's neuter gender to exclude the Antichrist.

THE ABOMINATION:
AN "IT" OR A "HE"?

This point was mentioned above, but is so important it is discussed in more detail. While most of the versions translate Mk 13:14 as an "it" rather than a "he," the ESV translation is more accurate in emphasizing the masculine gender -

Mark 13:14ESV = "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where HE ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."

Comment: The masculine, singular translated HE in Mk 13:14ESV counters the neuter singular IT in Mt 24:15. Why is this important? Because some commentators like Lenski categorically exclude an individual from being the abomination based primarily on the neuter gender in Mt 24:15. Clearly Mark's version leaves open the possibility of a man, which parallels nicely with Paul's description of the "man of lawlessness" committing an abominable act in the Temple (the Holy Place) in 2Thes 2:3-4+!

In fact there is a very logical way to resolve the use of both the masculine and the neuter -- The Antichrist (a "he") goes into the holy place and declares himself to be "God" which would clearly be an abomination to orthodox Jews. But because he has wars to fight and peoples to suppress (cf Da 11:39-45+) he cannot continue to remain standing in the holy place. His right hand man, the false prophet, commissions an image (an "it") of the Antichrist (the Beast) and places it in the holy place (cp Rev 13:14-15+) where it remains standing (Greek = perfect tense in both Mt 24:15 and Mk 13:14) for the earth dwellers to worship. You might be saying that I am making too much of the details but as someone has well said especially in eschatological passages (but applicable to all of God's Word) "the divine is in the details!"

See Related: The Image of the Beast

R T France the used of the neuter by Matthew "is apparently a deliberate change from Mark's masculine, and so denotes an object or occurrence rather than a person." (NICNT)

McNeile (1915) adds that "In Mark the reference (to the location of the abomination) is vague and cryptic, the masculine estekota (perfect tense of histemi = standing) implying a person or personification, who will stand....the mysterious vagueness of Mark's masculine estekota, with no reference to city or Temple, is probably an allusion to the dread figure of Antichrist, analogous to the 'Man of Lawlessness' in 2Th 2:4, whose appearance is preceded by a 'revolt' from God (Ed: cf apostasy - 2Th 2:3-note)...This cryptic language is unlike anything attributed to Jesus elsewhere. The author of the passage shared the widespread Jewish expectation of the coming of Antichrist." (The Gospel according to St. Matthew)

D Edmond Hiebert commenting on abomination of desolation in Mk 13:14 explains that "Mark's expression laid stress on the violation involved. Standing is a masculine participle, although the noun abomination is neuter. The fact that Mark deliberately, though ungrammatically, used the masculine points to the fact that he regarded the abomination as personal ("he" rather than "it"). It seems clear that Mark was thinking of the personal Antichrist (2Th. 2:3-10; Rev. 13:1-10, 14-15). In time, the scene relates to the prophecy of Daniel's seventieth week (Da 9:24-27), when the prince that shall come "shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease" (Da 9:27). This interpretation of the words of Jesus presupposes the end-time reestablishment of the Jewish temple and worship (Ed: As does Paul's description in 2Th 2:4-note and John's description in Rev 11:1-2-note)." (Ibid) (Bolding added)

THE LOCATION OF THE STAND
THE HOLY PLACE

Holy place - This phrase refers to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and not the holy city of Jerusalem. Holy place is used 10 times in the NT and never once refers to the city of Jerusalem but always to the Holy Temple - Mt 24:15; Acts 6:13; 21:28; Heb 9:2, 8, 12, 24-25; 10:19; 13:11. Notice that Jesus specifically says "holy place," not "holy city," not "holy mountain," not "holy land," etc. A simple interpretation of Jesus' plain words is very clear - the location is the holy Jewish Temple! No other location fits so well with Jesus' description. Several commentaries (see below) are forced to say the holy place is something besides the holy place, because they have difficulty in interpreting the Roman Army standing in the holy place.

John Wesley (ref) simply does not take Jesus literally when He said the "holy place." Thus Wesley wrote

Not only the temple and the mountain on which it stood, but the whole city of Jerusalem, and several furlongs of land round about it, were accounted holy; particularly the mount on which our Lord now sat, and on which the Romans afterward planted their ensigns.

Beloved, do you see what happens when you ignore the plain sense of the text? It begins to be nonsense! Why not go ahead and call the entire nation of Israel the "holy place", for after all they were originally referred to as "holy to the LORD?" This example is not meant to denigrate Wesley, but simply to demonstrate the genre of loose interpretation that begins to flow when one does not read the text literally.

The respected writer Philip Schaff (1819-1893) (reference) gives us another example of misinterpretation because of refusal to read Jesus' plain words literally. Schaff writes

Jerusalem was 'the holy city' (Mt 4:5). The near approach of the Roman army is probably meant (Ed: He is referring to the phrase "standing in the holy place" and sees the approach of the Roman army as fulfilling that statement) The Roman eagles, rising on the heights over against the temple, were the sign of the fall of the city. In fact they stood on the Mount of Olives, 'the holy place,' in a higher Christian sense, where our Lord was now teaching and whence He ascended."

Notice how Schaff speculates, equating the city of Jerusalem with the holy place. He then compounds his error by referring to the Mount of Olives as the "holy place!" There is absolutely no Scriptural support for such an interpretation! In short, Schaff gives us an example of failing to allow the Scripture to help interpret the Scripture and what happens when one fails to interpret literally and begins to speculate on the text rather than accurately observe the text!

Peter Pett (ref) who interprets Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70AD provides another example of a non-literal interpretation of holy place. Pett is forced to do this because if he interprets the holy place as the Temple, it creates a significant problem in his interpretation of Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70 AD. And so Pett reasons

In Scripture Jerusalem was regularly called 'the holy city' (Nehemiah 11:1; 11:18; Isa 48:2; 52:1) and it is especially to be noted that it is so-called in Da 9:24 which is in the context of Daniel's prophecy concerning the destruction of the city and the sanctuary (Daniel 9:26) (Ed Comment: Notice that Pett conveniently ignores the fact that Da 9:24 also mentions the holy place! Pett continues...). This would support the idea that 'the holy place', when quoted in the context of Daniel's prophecy ('spoken of by Daniel the prophet'), is to be seen as indicating Jerusalem and its environs, 'the holy city'. And this view is supported by Luke 21:20 where Luke's Gospel interprets 'standing -- in the holy place' as signifying 'when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies."

Comment: Do you see the problems with Pett's comments? First notice that he says standing nit the holy place is the same sign as when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies! Beloved, in plain English they are clearly DIFFERENT signs! (See chart comparing Matthew and Luke) Second, notice how Pett attempts to show that Jesus' plain statement of "holy place" does not really mean "holy place" (the Temple) but really means "the holy city!" I would submit that Jesus said holy place and that is what He meant! To say that is not what He meant is to distort or twist His words! A more useful maneuver would be to search the Scriptures for every place the phrase holy place is found. Indeed, the phrase holy place is found 60 times in 60 verses in the entire Bible (NASB) and always refers to either the Tabernacle (OT) or Temple (on earth, twice in heaven = Heb 9:12, 24; God's presence = Heb 10:19) and never refers to the holy city of Jerusalem, the surrounding environs of Jerusalem, or the Mount of Olives.

Johann Bengel also does not accept the simple, plain sense of Jesus words "holy place" because to do so would make his interpretation (of the abomination as the Roman army) absolutely impossible! And so he writes

The holy place, therefore, does not here signify the temple, or the holy of holies, for it would have been too late to flee after that had been profaned, but a definite place without and near the Holy City; in short, that very place which our Lord (as He had often done) regarded as made holy by His presence, whilst He was uttering these words (Ed: i.e., on the Mount of Olives). (Ref)

Dear reader, do you see what commentators are forced to do if they do not accept Jesus' prophecy literally? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I would posit that the interpretation of the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70AD is at best a "weak" interpretation, because of a number of "weak links." (cf The Problems of the Roman Army as the Abomination)

Well respected Lutheran commentator R C H Lenski (who favors a 70AD fulfillment) concludes that "Those are excluded which make "the holy place" the Jewish land, or which think that the abomination occurred during or after the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans. The latter views are shut out by the fact that it would then be impossible to flee the land." (The Interpretation of St Matthew's Gospel)

J Vernon McGee makes the point "that the Holy Place was given only to the nation pf Israel. It was a special place in the Temple on earth. The church has no Holy Place." (Thru the Bible)

The problem of course if one interprets Matthew 24:15 as referring to a yet future event is that there is currently no "holy place" (no Temple) in Jerusalem in which the abomination of desolation could stand. Clearly a futuristic interpretation requires that the Jewish Temple be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Other prophetic passages by Paul (2Th 2:3-4-note) and John (Rev 11:2-note) (if interpreted literally) would also call for a future rebuilt Temple. If God can cause the entire nation of Israel to be reborn "in a day" (May, 1948), He can easily enable the Temple to be rebuilt. In fact, the The Temple Mount Faithful - Working to Rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount is a group of orthodox Jews in Jerusalem who have been preparing for many years to rebuild the Temple on a moment's notice!

Ray Stedman addresses the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem - Perhaps you are asking, "If the Temple was destroyed by Titus in A.D. 70, what is this 'holy place' in which the Antichrist will appear?" The obvious answer is, the Temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem. The Lord is clearly indicating that there will come a time when the Jews will repossess the temple area. In view of that expectation perhaps the most important event since the first century was the capture of Old Jerusalem by the Jew in the Six-Day War of 1967. For the first time in 1897 years (since A.D. 70) Jews were once again in possession of the Temple site (Temple Mount). It is now occupied by the Moslem mosque called the Dome of the Rock and the existence of that shrine raises a tremendous obstacle to the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple. But there is no other place it can be built, for God decreed in the Old Testament that Jewish sacrifices can be offered there and nowhere else on earth. No one knows whether the present possession of Jerusalem by the Jews can be maintained. And how they will surmount the problem of rebuilding a Temple on the place now occupied by an Arab holy place is anyone's guess. But rebuild it they shall, for as Jesus said in another connection the "scripture cannot be broken." (cf Jer 32:17, 27-note) (Sermon)

Holy (40)(hagios) refers to that which is set apart (sanctified) for a special purpose.

Place (5117)(topos) any space marked off as if it were marked off from a surrounding space.

UNDERSTANDING
COMMANDED!

Let the reader understand - The implication of this command is that the reader can understand this prophecy, but the understanding will require careful observation and analysis. A second implication is that this parenthetical statement by Jesus broadens the audience of this discourse to more than just the first century disciples. The point is that in whatever century this warning is read, it must be understood, so that appropriate action can be taken by the reader (i.e., Flee! - Mt 24:16-20), if he or she sees the abomination of desolation! This of course is assuming that this is a yet to be fulfilled prophecy.

David Guzik on let him understand: Here Jesus (assuming that He said these words, and that they were not added by Matthew) directed us again to the central place of understanding, the abomination of desolation. It was almost as if Jesus said, "Don't miss this. If you don't understand this, you won't understand many other things." And this is exactly the error of many who, with good intentions, misunderstand the plain meaning of the abomination of desolation. Let him understand! (Enduring Word Bible Commentary Matthew Chapter 24)

Ray Stedman on Let the reader understand - These words are so fantastically suggestive that we must not hurry over them. In the words appearing in parentheses, "let the reader understand," the apostle Matthew is warning us that there are things hidden here which are not apparent on the surface. He is urging us to think, investigate, examine, and thus understand all that may be involved. We must be careful, then, to relate these words to other Scriptures (Ed: See Compare Scripture with Scripture), and especially to those in the Book of Daniel (Ed: See my verse by verse Daniel Commentary) which Jesus specifically mentions. (The Worship of Man - Matthew 24:15-22)

Hiebert on Let the reader understand - The parenthetical command, found also in Matthew, may be regarded as spoken by Jesus Himself or as an addition by the Gospel writers. Under the former view, Jesus is calling attention to the prophecy of Daniel, bidding the reader to understand its fuller significance; under the latter, the Gospel writer calls attention to the importance of what is written. Since the true text in Mark contains no reference to Daniel, the latter view may be preferred. (Ibid)

Reader is the verb anaginosko which is from ana (again) and ginosko (know by experience) which conveys the idea that each individual should read these Scriptures over and over again until he or she understands what is meant and what they should do when the abomination of desolation comes on the scene of world history in the future. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear (spiritually speaking) will clearly recognize this as the signal that sets off the time of the horrible three and a half year great tribulation ("then" = Mt 24:21-note), which is the same time the Antichrist breaks his seven year covenant with Israel at the midpoint (3.5 years) (see Da 9:27-note). See Daniel's Seventieth Week chart followed by a summary of the events.

Reader (314)(anaginosko from aná = emphatic, again + ginosko = know by experience) literally means to know again or to recognize again. It came to mean to distinguish between, to know accurately and then to read.

Fenton says let the reader understand "means, Look more deeply into this, because what is said is less than what is meant". (The Gospel of Saint Matthew)

Let...understand (3539)(noeo from nous = mind, the seat of moral reflection) has the basic meaning of directing one's mind to something which clearly calls for more than just a glance! Jesus uses the present imperative which is a command for the reader to keep pondering this prophecy (weighing it in one's mind, thinking quietly, soberly and deeply). Jesus is calling on the reader to carefully think and reflect upon the prophecy in order to grasp His meaning. Notice Jesus did not advise the reading of many commentaries, many of which do not interpret His words literally! He uses the active voice which calls for the reader to carry out serious personal reflection with the implication that one is not simply to read what other men have written. Unless the reader himself or herself carries out their own inductive study on these important declarations by Jesus, how can they "comment on the commentaries?" (including the one you are currently reading!) In other words, how can one be confident that what the commentaries have written is an accurate interpretation? As an aside, in order to obey Jesus' command, the only way possible is by continual reliance on the Holy Spirit's filling and empowering (Eph 5:18-note, 1Jn 2:27-note)!

MacArthur agrees writing "The exhortation let the reader understand reinforces the fact that Jesus was not giving the warnings in the Olivet discourse to the disciples themselves or to their generation but to believers in the end time, who will read those truths in Scripture and thereby be enabled to understand the trials they are enduring."

While I basically agree with MacArthur, he does extrapolate more than the phrase allows. In other words, focusing only on the plain sense of the text, it seems a bit of a stretch to say this phrase is not giving warnings to other Jews of the same generation as the disciples. There is nothing in that phraseology which justifies the statement that it refers only "to believers in the end time." While I agree with MacArthur's statement that this applies to readers in the end time, that conclusion can only be reached by interpreting the phrase in its entire context. So even those of us who believe in a future fulfillment of Mt 24:15 need to be careful to let the text speak for itself!

J Vernon McGee ends his comment on Mt 24:15 writing "Now we are given another time word. When the abomination of desolation appears, "Then"." McGee is referring of course to Mt 24:16, when the people living in Israel in that future day see the abomination of desolation, THEN it is time to FLEE!

Here is an example from the usually excellent HCSB Study Bible which demonstrates the "corner one paints ones self into" when interpreting Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70AD -

"These verses probably (Ed Comment: Probably clearly expresses uncertainty. If this is a life and death sign [which it is!], it is very unlikely Jesus would make it an ambiguous sign!) describe events related to the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in A.D. 70. However, Mt 24:29 closely associates this tribulation period with the Second Coming of Jesus. This implies that these events closely parallel things that will occur immediately before Jesus' return (2Th 2:3-4) (Ed comment: Can you see the difficulty? They have just stated 70AD. But now they state "these events closely parallel" events preceding the Second Coming! That does not make good sense! But then they ascribe a meaning to the "great tribulation" that is more nonsensical writing...). The entire period ranging from the destruction of the temple to the events preceding Christ's return may be described as a period of great tribulation for Christ's followers. The abomination that causes desolation is an idolatrous object that will desecrate the Jerusalem temple as foretold in Dan 9:27 (Ed comment: I agree with them). Though Josephus identified it as the shedding of priestly blood in the sanctuary several years before the destruction of the temple ( War 4.147-201; 4.343; 5.17-18; cp. Mt 23:29-36), Jesus' description of the abomination as standing in the temple implies that it is an object, not an event. (Ed comment: And so they leave the reader "hanging" so to speak! They don't venture a comment on the identity of the abomination. To reiterate, Jesus wanted those who saw the abomination to know that is what it was so that they might respond appropriately = Flee! The only interpretation that makes sense is that the abomination is the future Antichrist and/or his image standing in the rebuilt holy place!)" (Bold Italics Mine for emphasis) (HCSB Study Bible)

CRITIQUE OF INTERPRETATION OF Mt 24:15
AS FULFILLED IN 70AD

While much of the following discussion is somewhat redundant, the purpose is to provide actual examples of interpretation found in Matthew commentaries which are highly recommended.

Did Jesus refer to the coming destruction of the Temple in 70AD or did He refer to a future event which has yet to take place? Or did He refer to both the past and the future. As will be explained, a plain, literal reading of Jesus' words and comparison to the prophecies of Daniel, especially Daniel 9:27 leaves little doubt that Jesus is referring to the same yet future event described by Daniel and not to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. This latter view is the prevalent interpretation in the highest ranked commentaries on Matthew, but if one adheres to this interpretation it is difficult to rationalize several key facts in Jesus' discourse, especially if those facts are taken at face value.

A few commentaries give a "double fulfillment" interpreting Mt 24:15 as a yet future event, and also see a fulfillment in the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70AD. The respected ESV Study Bible, page 1872 (BORROW) is an example which writes...

Daniel 9:27 tells of the abomination of desolation. Several times in Jewish history it was thought that this prophecy was being fulfilled—most notably during the days of the Maccabees when Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king, ordered that an altar to the Greek god Zeus be constructed in the temple (167 B.C.). He also decreed that swine and other unclean animals were to be sacrificed there, that the Sabbath was to be profaned, and that circumcision was to be abolished. But Jesus clarifies that the complete fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy will be found in (1) the Roman destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 and (2) the image of the Antichrist being set up in the last days (cf. 2Th 2:4; Rev. 13:14).

Ed comment: Notice that the ESV makes an excellent start in interpreting Mt 24:15 in referring to Daniel 9:27+, but unfortunately sees the yet future prophecy of the Seventieth Week of Daniel as having already been fulfilled in the past (A.D. 70 - Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans). Simply put, that is not the correct interpretation. Clearly, the destruction did NOT set off an unprecedented great tribulation, of which there can be only one GREAT TRIBULATION since Jesus' description makes it a unique, once in a lifetime period of distress, never to be repeated (Mt 24:21-note, cp Mk 13:19 and Daniel 12:1-note). There can be no "double fulfillment" for an event that Jesus clearly states will transpire only one time in the history of the world! To say 70AD was also the "great tribulation" is to spiritualize the plain meaning of Jesus' words in Mt 24:21+ and misinterpret Mt 24:21! In regard to Daniel 9:27+, there is nothing in Scripture or in the historical records from the first century that describes a seven year covenant with Israel that was broken after 3.5 years (as described in Da 9:27+). Attempts have been made to suggest secular events that "came close" to being a Seven Year treaty, but these efforts have proved futile, which is the result one would expect if Da 9:27 speaks of a yet future event.

And so if one allows the Scripture say what it says and does not add to it or take away from it because of a particular system of theology or preconceived ideas, it is very clear that Daniel 9:27+ (1) correlates very nicely with Jesus' description in Mt 24:15 and (2) will be fulfilled only one time and that is in the future when the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) is revealed (apokalupto) and takes his seat in the holy place (the rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem) and proclaims that he is God! (2Th 2:3-4+, cf John's prophecy Rev 13:14-15+).

David L. Turner (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary) also postulates what is essentially a "double fulfillment" interpretation. First in his NOTE on Mt 24:21-22  (preceding his actual COMMENTARY) Turner writes "It is difficult to accept the preterist view that this language was totally fulfilled by the events of AD 70 (ED: EXCELLENT OBSERVATION!). Hagner (1995:702–703) is probably correct in viewing the language as a hyperbolic reference to the catastrophe of AD 70 that will be literally true of the eschatological horrors." (See page 312 The Gospel of Matthew)

Turner then goes on to state the following in his actual COMMENTARY - Matthew 24:15–29 is a warning of intense, unparalleled persecution and false prophecy that will arise in connection with the desecration of the Jerusalem Temple (24:15). This warning involves instructions for flight (24:16–20), a promise that God will shorten those days for the sake of his elect (24:21–22), and a renewed warning against false messiahs and false prophets (24:23–28). In the view taken here, this warning primarily relates to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, but there is good reason (esp. Mt 24:21–22) to see it as ultimately intended for God’s people in the end times who will face the ultimate Antichrist." (See bottom of page 312  The Gospel of Matthew)

Ed comment: There is a difference between foreshadow and fulfill. While it could be reasonably suggested that the destruction in 70AD foreshadowed the end time abomination of desolation, there are many problems with saying Mt 24:15 was fulfilled in 70AD. It seems the interpretation of Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70AD is so "ingrained" in the literature (past and present), that few writers are willing to abandon that interpretation. In his note Turner acknowledges that Mt 24:21 makes a 70AD fulfillment "difficult" (his words) and yet it seems he still chooses to favor a "preterist" interpretation writing "this warning primarily relates to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70". And yet Turner does admit that "It is difficult to accept the preterist view that this language was totally fulfilled by the events of AD 70." And of course the reason is because it was not fulfilled in 70AD, but at best was only a foreshadowing of horrors to come in Israel in the end times! Beloved, we need to come to the Scriptures each time we read them as if we have never read them before, so that we might be as open as possible to what the Spirit of Truth would teach us! A particular mode of interpretation once learned is like a habit -- very difficult to break as Turner's merging of preterist and futurists views illustrates!

R C Sproul is clearly a preterist and makes this comment on the pivotal passage Mt 24:15 mentioning several possible explanations "New Testament scholars have put forward a number of ideas about this. Some point to the year AD 40, when the Roman Emperor Gaius commanded that a statue of himself be built and placed inside the temple. This was a huge provocation to the people of Israel, but by the goodness of God, Gaius died before that profanation took place. (ED: THIS IS A STRETCH AS IT IS NOT EVEN CHRONOLOGICALLY CLOSE TO 70 AD DESTRUCTION) Another possible fulfillment of this prophecy occurred in AD 69 (NOTE THAT HE IS CLEARLY SPECULATING). In 66, the Jews rebelled against the Romans, prompting a Roman military response led by General Vespasian and his son Titus. They began invading the country from the north in 67, working toward Jerusalem. In late 68, Emperor Nero committed suicide, and the empire was embroiled in civil war to decide the succession. Vespasian became involved in the political infighting and was distracted from the Judean campaign; he eventually prevailed and became emperor in 69. During that lull in the fighting in Judea, the Jewish Zealots made their way by force into the temple. They expelled the priests and turned the temple into a military camp, where they committed all kinds of atrocities. The Jewish historian Josephus is extremely passionate in his denunciation of the horrible desecration the Zealots committed in the sacred place. It is possible that Jesus had this event in mind. Still another possible fulfillment involved the conquest of Jerusalem under the leadership of Titus. When the Roman legions marched, they carried banners with eagle figurines on the ends of the poles. In AD 70, when the Romans finally conquered Jerusalem, they entered the temple with these banners. The Jews saw the figurines as idols, so they viewed this incursion as another desecration. (ED: WHERE IS THIS RECORDED?) In the end, we cannot be sure precisely what event Jesus was pointing toward, but it seems likely it was associated with the destruction of the temple in 70. We need not see this passage as referring to events in the distant future. (ED: THE REASON SPROUL "CANNOT BE SURE PRECISELY WHAT EVENT JESUS WAS POINTING TOWARD," BECAUSE HE DOES NOT HONESTLY CONSIDER THAT THIS COULD BE THE FUTURE ANTICHRIST. HE MAKES A PERFUNCTORY STATEMENT BUT DOES NOT EVEN ATTEMPT TO UNPACK IT WRITING "Some believe this and other passages point to the future appearance of the Antichrist (see 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:14). However, it need not be so radically separated from the context of the Olivet Discourse to this point." IN SHORT, HE SIMPLY DISCOUNTS THE POSSIBILITY OF A LITERAL MAN OF LAWLESSNESS TAKING HIS SEAT IN THE TEMPLE DISPLAYING HIMSELF AS GOD! NOW THAT IS A RADICAL ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION!) Sproul goes on to write "I believe that those who want to see these words of Jesus as a prophecy of a great tribulation that is still yet to come must grant that there was at least an initial fulfillment in AD 70."

Sproul does not even address Jesus' critical point that "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will." He spends more time talking about "those who are pregnant" (Mt 24:19) and "pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath" (Mt 24:20), actually taking 5 sentences of the latter passage but not one sentence on the crucial time phrase! I submit Sproul avoided it because he could not explain it with his preterist interpretation. 

Grant Osborne seems to favor a future fulfillment, commenting on Jesus' warning to flee in Mt 24:17-18 writing "These two cases (Mt 24:17-18) apply both to the historical arrival of the Romans in AD 66-70 (ED: SOME JEWS DID IN FACT FLEE JERUSALEM) and to the imminent Second Coming of Christ (Mt 24:27).....it also goes beyond AD 70 to the events of Rev 13. As Nolland says, "it is hard to avoid the suspicion that even in Matthew and Mark the urgency is being given an ultimacy that has more to do with being in place for an eschatological denouement than with a realistic response to a particular political and military development." (ED: NOLLAND'S COMMENT IS SOMEWHAT OBTUSE). (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

EVIDENCE FOR/AGAINST A 70 AD
FULFILLMENT OF MATTHEW 24:15

What is the evidence for or against the interpretation that Mt 24:15 was historically fulfilled in 70AD when the Roman general Titus destroyed the Holy Temple and the Holy City? We will seek to address this question by examining the plain reading of the text and the context (with the introduction of some extra-biblical historical material). Below are several reasons which would support the interpretation that Matthew 24:15ff was NOT fulfilled in 70AD.

GREAT TRIBULATION
UNPRECEDENTED

(1) Let's begin by examining the context. Jesus clearly stated that this time of Great Tribulation would be unprecedented in world history and would never occur again. At the outset note that this clear statement is the major stumbling block for every interpretation that says 70AD was the "Great Tribulation"!

for (term of explanation - What is Jesus explaining? He is explaining why He has just spent FIVE verses trying to convince the Jews to get out of Jerusalem FAST! Mt 24:16-20) then (tote) (This begs the question - "What does then follow?" Answer - Checking the context, "then" is when the abomination of desolation is standing in the holy place of the Temple." Mt 24:15) there will be a Great Tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. (Mt 24:21-Matthew 24:21 Commentary)

The United Bible Service Handbook writes that "No, and never will be may be translated "and nothing as terrible as this will ever happen again." I like that rendering as it makes it very clear that this Great Tribulation is unique in the history of the world.

While Jerusalem's destruction in 70AD was horrible with reports of many Jews dying (Josephus says as many as 1.1 million but others feel the number may have been exaggerated), the 70AD "holocaust" does not come close to fulfilling Jesus' description in Mt 24:21. How can we be so sure? Because there was a greater "tribulation" then 70AD in World War II when over 6 million Jews were killed by Hitler's Nazi henchmen! Jesus' words are very clear predicting that "then (When? In context = when you see the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15!) there will be a Great Tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall." So Jesus plainly states that the future "Great Tribulation" will be even greater than the 1.1 million Jews who died at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD and even greater than the 6 million Jews who died at the hands of Hitler in World War II! Woe! There is simply NO WAY Jesus' words can be twisted to make them mean anything else! Oh, I suppose one could postulate Jesus was speaking with hyperbole, and that He was really exaggerating the severity of the Great Tribulation. But to do so is to refuse to take His words as He plainly spoke them. And the failure to take Jesus' words at face value opens one to misinterpretation of Matthew 24:15!

Even resources that interpret Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70AD are forced to acknowledge the difficulty of their proposed interpretation. Thus A L Williams in the Pulpit Commentary on Matthew favors the identity of the abomination as the Roman army and as with most similar commentaries, appeals to Jesus' description of the "sign" in Lk 21:20+ (cf Lk 21:6-7) to support his interpretation of Mt 24:15. And yet Williams admits that

the presence of the Latin forces would be no new sign to the Jewish people, as they had been familiar with such a sight for many years. If the Temple itself is meant (referring to the phrase "holy place"), it is plain that it would be too late to fly from that doomed city when the Roman eagles were already in the hallowed courts.

I agree with Williams on this point. It would be TOO LATE TO FLEE! In addition Williams records that Josephus states that Titus had a wall constructed which encompassed the entire city of Jerusalem

to guard against the Jews' coming out....So all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city

Here is Josephus' record of the Roman General Titus building a "retaining" wall around Jerusalem to remove all hope of escape...

That therefore his opinion was, that if they aimed at quickness, joined with security, they must build a wall round about the whole city. Which was, he thought, the only way to prevent the Jews from coming out any way. And that then they would either entirely despair of saving the city, and so would surrender it up to him; or be still the more easily conquered when the famine had farther weakened them. For that besides this wall, he would not lie entirely at rest afterward; but would take care then to have banks raised again, when those that would oppose them were become weaker. But that if any one should think such a work to be too great, and not to be finished without much difficulty, he ought to consider, that it is not fit for Romans to undertake any small work: and that none but God himself could with ease accomplish any great thing whatsoever.....When Titus had therefore encompassed the city with this wall, and put garrisons into proper places, be went round the wall, at the first watch of the night, and observed how the guard was kept...3. So all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city. Then did the famine widen its progress, and devoured the people by whole houses and families. The upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine: and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged. The children also, and the young men wandered about the market places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead, wheresoever their misery seized them. [Read Josephus's description of the wall in Book 5, Chapter 12, Verses 1-3].

Notice that this retaining wall was built BEFORE the Roman Army even broke through the walls of Jerusalem, BEFORE the Roman Army could even possibly stand in the holy place! Do you see the problem one encounters by identifying the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15 as the Roman Army surrounding Jerusalem, the sign for the Jews to flee the city? (Mt 24:16) In short, this historical record by Josephus makes it virtually impossible that the Roman Army could be the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15! In other words, if the Roman army is the abomination and it must stand in the holy place and that would be the warning to the Jews to flee, then the warning sign was (as they say) "too little, too late!" So from both historical and Biblical perspectives, the interpretation which identifies the abomination as the Roman army is nigh to impossible IF one interprets the Scriptures Literally!

Williams goes on to propose the idea that the Zealots were the abomination but then admits

"I must confess that neither of these explanations satisfies me. The primal (first) fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy is found in the erection of the statue of Jupiter in the temple by the order of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the pollution of the altar by the sacrifice of swine thereon. Our Lord would seem to refer to something analogous which should give the Christians a signal for escape before the complete investiture of the city. (Ed comment: Which indeed He does when He sends us to Daniel to glean understanding of the nature of the abomination! When the "he" of Da 9:27 breaks a covenant in the middle of 7 years and puts a stop to sacrifice and grain offering that is clearly the sign to flee the city. And Paul helps understand this event in 2Th 2:3-4 if one reads the text literally. Of course that means that a Jewish Temple has to be rebuilt, but that will occur when God's plan begins to take shape in the future! Williams continues...) The deeds of Zealots and assassins, however atrocious, could not with any propriety be described as "abomination that maketh desolate standing in the holy place." The term, according to scriptural analogy, must refer to some sacrilege and pollution connected with idolatry, of which certainly the Zealots were not guilty." (Ed comment: And Daniel 9:27 helps us discern the identity of the abomination. And there is no passage in Daniel which makes mention of either the Roman Army or Jewish Zealots as the abomination of desolation.) (Matthew 24 Commentary)

NET Note - Some refer this event (Mt 24:21-note) to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. While the events of A.D. 70 may reflect somewhat the comments Jesus makes here (ED: "FORESHADOW"), the reference to the scope and severity of this judgment strongly suggest that much more is in view. Most likely (ED: NOT JUST "MOST LIKELY" BUT "HIGHLY LIKELY"!) Jesus is referring to the great end-time judgment on Jerusalem in the Great Tribulation.

John MacArthur commenting on Mt 24:21 writes that "No time or event in the history of Israel fits the description of the holocaust Jesus is here speaking of. The horrifying time is further described in some detail in Revelation 6:1-16:21, where the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl judgments exhibit the escalating intensity of God's wrath upon sinful, rebellious mankind. Both the books of Revelation and of Daniel make clear that the Antichrist will tyrannize the world for "a time, times, and half a time" (Da 7:25+; Da 12:7+; Rev 12:14+)(ED: And the time phrase in Rev 12:14+ is clearly explained in the parallel passage Rev 12:6-note!), that is, a year, two years, and a half year, or three and one half years (Rev. 11:2+; Rev 11:3+, Rev 13:5+). Clearly, the events described by our Lord, by Daniel, and by John must refer to the same great holocaust at the end time, just before the millennial kingdom is established on earth. (Bolding added) (See page 44 Matthew Commentary)

J Vernon McGee - "For then shall be great tribulation"—in Revelation 7:14+ the literal translation is "the tribulation the great one," placing the article before both the noun and the adjective for emphasis. In other words, this tribulation is unique; there has been nothing like it in the history of the world, and there will never again be anything like it. And notice that our Lord is the One Who labels the end of the age as the Great Tribulation. (If you want to find fault with it, talk to Him, not to me.) "Such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." Since that is true, believe me, people will know it when it gets here! I hear people today talking about the church going through the Tribulation, and they don't seem to realize how severe it will be. In fact, some folk say that we are in the Great Tribulation at the present time! Well, things are bad in our day, I'll grant that, but this period can be matched with many other periods in history. When the Great Tribulation gets here, there will be nothing to match it in the past or in the future. (BORROW Thru the Bible - Revelation, page 138)

Wycliffe Bible Commentary on Mt 24:21 - The additional description, not since the beginning of the world, makes Christ's reference to Da 12:1 unmistakable. The further notice, nor ever shall be, prevents our identification of this with anything less than the final tribulation under Antichrist.

Here are the Wycliffe Bible Commentary notes (see page 86) on Mt 24:15-21 - 

Mt 24:15. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel the prophet. The abomination of desolation reproduces the LXX (Septuagint) rendering of Dan 9:27; 12:11; 11:31 (ED: GREEK =  bdelugma ton eremoseon =THE EXACT PHRASE IN GREEK TEXT OF Mt 24:15! IS THIS SIMPLY A "COINCIDENCE?"), of which the first two are certainly eschatological, while the last (Da 11:31+) predicts the profanation of worship by Antiochus, whose act foreshadowed the final abomination. This event occurs in the middle of the seventieth week (Dan 9:27), and its length is variously described as “42 months” (Rev 11:2; Rev 13:5), “1,260 days” (Rev 12:6), or “time, times, and half a time” (Da 7:25; Da 12:7; Rev 12:14). The holy place. The Temple, to be restored (ED: cf Rev 11:1-2+). This enigmatic abomination is connected with worship, and other passages would suggest it to be the idolatrous homage that the Antichrist will demand for himself. See Rev 13:5-8+; 2 Thess 2:1-4+. It was clearly future in Jesus’ day, thus canceling those views of Daniel that find all the fulfillments in the days of Antiochus. Nor can the reference be limited to the catastrophe of A.D. 70, for Mt 24:21 limits the reference to the greatest of all tribulations (cf. Da 12:1).

Mt 24:16-20. Then. The use of this temporal particle (ED: Greek = tote) here and in Mt 24:21 and Mt 24:23 (ED: "THEN" [tote] ALSO IN Mt 24:30, 40) puts all the events of this section within the framework of the final three and one-half years. The terrors of persecution under Antichrist will make immediate flight (ED: FOR THE JEWS) necessary (Rev 12:6, 14+). No time will be available for preparation. Inevitable hardships are foretold. Neither on the sabbath day. A reference to the difficulty of travel (securing lodging, meals, services) on the Sabbath in an area where Jews will be observing such restrictions (ED: A SABBATH DAY'S JOURNEY WHICH WAS ALLOWED WAS ABOUT 1.2 KM). This does not necessarily imply that Christian Jews will observe Sabbath worship. Jesus was employing concepts familiar to his hearers, none of whom as yet could know of the change to Sunday.

Mt 24:21. Then (ED: Greek = toteshall be great tribulation. The additional description, not since the beginning of the world, makes Christ’s reference to Dan 12:1+ unmistakable. (ED: "UNMISTAKABLE" UNLESS YOU REFUSE TO READ THE SCRIPTURES LITERALLY!) The further notice, nor ever shall be, prevents our identification of this with anything less than the final tribulation under Antichrist just prior to the resurrection (Dan 12:2+). (ED: IT IS SAD AND AMAZING TO SEE HOW SUCH CLEAR WORDS IN PARALLEL PASSAGES FROM THE OLD AND THE NEW TESTAMENTS CAN BE SO MISINTERPRETED BY SO MANY!)

Below are some attempts to disregard Jesus' clear description of the Great Tribulation as an event without precedent or successor in the history of the world:

R T France commenting on the nature of the abomination of desolation acknowledges that "the context requires that it be of such a nature and at such a time as to allow those who see it to escape before it is too late." However as I have commented earlier, if the Roman army is interpreted as the abomination and the army stands in the holy place, it is clearly too late to flee as Jesus warns in Mt 24:16-20! France then says "In passing, we should note that "nor ever will be again" confirms that this passage is about a historical event, not about the end of the world!" (BORROW NICNT - The Gospel of Matthew, page 912).

Comment: You might want to read France's interpretation of "nor ever will again" AGAIN! France in making this last "dogmatic statement" fails to consider the context. He fails to consider the millions of Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust where far more Jews were killed than in the sacking of Jerusalem in 70AD! Also note that the disciples did not ask about the end of the world (see France's comment above) (kosmos - cf 2Pe 3:6, 10 where "world" = kosmos) but about "the end of the age (aion)" (Mt 24:3)! (Note: In fairness, it must be stated that the word aion can refer to the created world [Heb 11:3] but in the context of Matthew 24 it refers to an "age.") The disciples were not referring to the end of the world. In Acts 1:6+ the disciples ask the resurrected Jesus "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (cf Lk 19:11+) And notice that while He did not specifically answer their question in Acts, neither did He refute them or correct them. The disciples knew Jewish eschatology which told of a better coming age and so they clearly were not looking for the end of the world but the beginning of the next age, the kingdom age of the Messiah!

R C H Lenski, Lutheran commentator (1864-1936) writing on Mt 24:21 says "who can object when the destruction of Jerusalem, like the Flood and like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, is made a type of the end of the world?...The word of Jesus about the "great tribulation," thlipsis, Bedraengnis, that will then ensue, the like of which has not been witnessed since the world's beginning and will never again occur, is literally true—read the detailed account of Josephus in his Wars. No nation had ever piled up a guilt such as that of the Jews who were chosen of God, infinitely blessed, and yet crucified God's Son and trampled upon all his further grace (ED comment: I think Lenski is a bit harsh - every person who ever sinned holds some responsibility for the Crucifixion of Christ - had no one ever sinned, there would have been no need to crucify Jesus!) No judgment had ever and can ever be so severe. In the history of the world no judgment can be compared with this that wiped out the Jews as a nation." (ED: RE-READ LENSKI'S CONCLUSION REGARDING THE NATION OF ISRAEL, THEN READ THE NOTE BELOW). 

Comment - Lenski commenting on Mt 24:31 makes the rather dogmatic statement that "no judgment can be compared with this that wiped out the Jews as a nation." Notice that Lenski actually died in 1936 prior to (1) the massive genocide of Jews by Hitler and the Nazis and also prior to (2) Israel's miraculous re-birth as a nation (which negates his dogmatic statement that the Romans in 70AD "wiped out the Jews as a nation!"). Similarly, there is nothing in Matthew 24 that supports his statement that "the destruction of Jerusalem, like the Flood and like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, is made a type of the end of the world." That is total fabrication but one is otherwise a careful and generally excellent expositor! As we caution elsewhere on this website, one needs to be very careful in invoking typology (See Typology-Study of Types), and in this case Lenski is clearly not warranted in calling Jerusalem's destruction in 70AD a type of the end of the world

JESUS' REPEATED
WARNINGS TO FLEE

(2) In the immediate context, Jesus strongly emphasized the need for the inhabitants of Jerusalem to flee the city when they see the abomination of desolation being set up in the holy place.

Then (tote) (This time sensitive word means subsequently - WHEN you see Mt 24:15 fulfilled, flee!) let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; 17 let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; 18 and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. 19 "But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! 20 "But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath (Mt 24:16-20-note)

Clearly Jesus wanted to make sure His warning to flee was heard and thus He spoke about fleeing for FIVE VERSES! This is a very important fact. Jesus had clearly stated the words "when you see" so this was an event that the Jews in the city of Jerusalem would have been able to see. Jesus wanted them to be sure to see it, so they would be sure to flee! That association is crystal clear from a plain reading of Jesus' words.

Now if one holds to a 70AD fulfillment of this prophecy, Jesus words of warning would have been superfluous! Why? Because as has been stated previously by the time the Romans had set up an abomination of desolation in the holy place (something that the Jews could have seen), the city walls would have already been broken through and the Roman soldiers would have been slaughtering the inhabitants (not to mention that Josephus records that Titus had built an enclosure around the city to trap any Jews who attempted to escape!) It does not take much imagination to realize that it would have been too late to flee, which was the very thing Jesus spent FIVE verses emphasizing! Beloved, words mean something, especially if they are the words of Jesus!

Constable remarks on those who hold that this prophecy was fulfilled "when the Romans brought their standards bearing the image of Caesar into the temple and offered sacrifices to their gods they set up the abomination that Daniel predicted. The main problem with this view is that Jesus told the Jews living in Jerusalem and Judea to flee when the abomination appeared in the temple (Mt 24:16-20). However when the Romans finally desecrated the temple in 70 A.D. most of the Jews had already left Jerusalem and Judea." (Emphasis added) (Matthew 24 Commentary)

Ron Bigalke notes that "Titus did not enter the city of Jerusalem until after the construction of his wall and the famine consumed the Jews. Therefore, it would be impossible to heed the commands of Jesus to flee the city because of witnessing the abomination of desolation spoken in Matthew 24:15 (Ed comment: Bigalke is saying the preterist interpretation that the Roman army is the abomination in Mt 24:15 does not allow the inhabitants to flee!). It should be mentioned again that any sacrilege on the part of the Romans was after the city and Temple were destroyed." (Preterism And Antiquity- Was Preterism a View of the Early Church)

(3) This point is somewhat similar to the previous one but has slightly different emphasis. It is notable that not once did Josephus (The Wars of the Jews) record an "abomination of desolation" in the holy place PRIOR to the Temple's destruction (as a literal reading of Mt 24:15 would demand). In fact AFTER the Temple was destroyed Josephus wrote

"And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple, and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator, with the greatest acclamations of joy [Josephus- Of the War, Book 6. Chapter 6. Paragraph 1]."

In other words the holy place was no longer intact when the Romans offered sacrifices to their pagan gods. It is also worth noting that the Christian historian Phillip Schaff alluded to the preceding quote by Josephus in his multi-volume History of the Christian Church writing "Thus was fulfilled the prophecy concerning the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place." Notice that either Schaff misquoted Josephus or he offered his own conclusion in an attempt to validate his belief that the "abomination of desolation" Jesus description in Mt 24:15 was committed by the Romans in 70AD. But Josephus never made that statement! Not only does a non-literal approach necessitate twisting of the inspired Scriptures, but also frequently involves distortion of secular historical records!

(4) If the elect are Christians who escaped to Pella in the Transjordan as described in extra-biblical literature, what need would there have been for shortening of those days (Mt 24:22)? In other words, those who had heeded Jesus' warning in Luke 21:20-note (which I believe does indeed refer to the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem - see explanation) had already fled and thus preserved their lives.

(5) Mt 24:29-30 states that Jesus returns immediately after the Great Tribulation. If Mt 24:15-28 was fulfilled in 70 AD, one would have to totally spiritualize Jesus' words and say that He came spiritually but not visibly, which is what preterist interpretations are forced to do. R C Sproul (see note below) for example writes "The great tribulation refers to the siege of Jerusalem." (He is referring to 70AD).

But a normal reading of the text does not leave room for spiritualization of Jesus' Second Coming! Notice Jesus' words in Mt 24:27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." What is He saying? Is He describing something that is not normally visible to all who have eyes to see? Of course He is. He is saying very plainly that the coming of the Son of Man will be a visible event, like lightning when it lights up the entire sky! And in Mt 24:30 He describes "the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory." That sounds like an event which is visible. The plain reading indicates a literal, visible return, just as the angel had promised in Acts 1:11 and as John attested to in Revelation writing that at the return of Jesus "every eye will see Him" (Rev 1:7-note). Beloved, He did not return immediately after the events described in Mt 24:15-28!

Related Resource: See Tony Garland's refutation of R C Sproul's unusual teachings on the last days

(6) Mt 24:14-note speaks of the end of this age ("then the end shall come") which is connected to the following section (Mt 24:15-28) with a "therefore ("So when" - ESV, NET, NIV)" It follows that Jesus' description in Mt 24:14-28 is also related to the end of this age. If one holds that Matthew 24 was fulfilled in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70AD, it would be very difficult to explain Mt 24:15-28.

(7) In Matthew the abomination comes first (Mt 24:15), and then is followed by the Tribulation (Mt 24:21). In 70AD the siege of Titus which many interpret as the abomination was contemporaneous with the great distress (Lk 21:23).

THE FOLLOWING WRITERS FAVOR
MATTHEW 24:15-26 AS A FUTURE EVENT

Thomas Constable - There are several reasons why the abomination of desolation must be a future event in God's eschatological program. First, verse 15 is in a context of verses that describes events that have not yet happened (vv. 14-21; cf. v. 29). Second, Daniel's seventieth week with its unique tribulation has not yet happened. Third, Mark described Jesus saying that the abomination of desolation would stand (masculine participle estekota) as a person who set himself up as God in the temple (Mark 13:14). This has never happened since Jesus made this prophecy. Fourth, other later revelation points to the future Antichrist as the abomination of desolation (2Thes 2:3-4; Rev. 13:11-18). (Matthew 24 Commentary)

Ray Stedman writes that in Matthew 24 and 25 "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!)

J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) actually favors a double fulfillment - But we must not suppose that this part of our Lord's prophecy (Mt 24:15-28) is exhausted by the first taking of Jerusalem (Referring to 70AD). It is more than probable that our Lord's words have a further and deeper application still. It is more than probable that they apply to a second siege of Jerusalem, which is yet to take place, when Israel has returned to their own land (Ed: Note Ryle wrote this before Israel's rebirth in May, 1948) --and to a second tribulation on the inhabitants thereof, which shall only be stopped by the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such a view of this passage may sound startling to some. But those who doubt its correctness would do well to study the last chapter of the prophet Zechariah, and the last chapter of Daniel. These two chapters contain solemn things. They throw great light on the verses we are now reading, and their connection with the verses which immediately follow. (Matthew 24 Commentary)


Kent Hughes commentary on Mark 13:14 "Abomination of Desolation" - Perhaps Jesus motioned toward the Temple radiating in the late afternoon sun as he said, “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak” (vv. 14–16).
The inner circle knew exactly what Jesus meant by “the abomination that causes desolation.” This term originated in the prophetic section of Daniel (in 9:27, and then in 11:31), which described a coming figure who would desecrate the Temple and abolish daily sacrifice there. It meant “an abomination so detestable it would cause the Temple to be abandoned by the people of God and provokes desolation.” This had happened 150 years earlier when the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes conquered Jerusalem and attempted to Hellenize the people, forbidding them to circumcise their children (1 Maccabees 1:60) or offer Levitical sacrifices (1 Maccabees 1:45), and forcing them to sacrifice swine (1 Maccabees 1:47). In the words of the writer of Maccabees, “on the fifteenth day of Chislev [December we think] in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering” (1:54). It was a statue of Zeus and probably an image of Antiochus himself! Antiochus also set up a brothel in the Temple chambers (2 Maccabees 6:4). This abomination caused the Jews to abandon the Temple until their successful revolt. 
Obviously, as terrible as Antiochus had been, he did not completely fulfill the prophecies in Daniel, for Jesus said another abomination was coming, and then the Temple would be destroyed. This was almost fulfilled in A.D. 40 when the insane Emperor Caligula, thinking he was a god, almost succeeded in having an image of himself installed in the Temple. Ironically, partial fulfillment of this came from among the Jews themselves (Zealots who amidst the turmoil occupied the Temple in the winter and spring of A.D. 67 and 68). They permitted criminals to enter the Holy of Holies and committed murders in the Temple themselves. Finally, they crowned their sacrilege with a circus-like investiture of one Phanni, who according to Josephus “was such a clown that he scarcely knew what the priesthood meant.”
I personally believe that “the abomination that causes desolation” will find its ultimate fulfillment in the future and that the destruction of Jerusalem is a paradigm which contains the essential elements of the Great Tribulation at the end of time. The already multiple fulfillment of the term argues for this. Also, “the man of lawlessness” referred to by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3–10 supports the view that “the abomination that causes desolation” refers to the ultimate Antichrist who will also fulfill Daniel’s prophecies. The destruction of Jerusalem and the advent of a God-usurping personage will signify the approach of the end of the age. (PTW-Mark)

THE FOLLOWING WRITERS FAVOR
MATTHEW 24:15-26 AS A PAST EVENT

As a general statement, note that the majority of older commentaries (pre-1900) interpret Mt 24:15ff as a prophecy fulfilled in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD (See Preterism).

John Calvin 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) But is that really what Mt 24:15 plainly states or is Calvin deriving some hidden meaning from the text? Calvin makes the mistake that so many of the "older" commentaries make, which is to replace ethnic and national Israel with the church, for example writing that "The calamity of the Church shall last through a time, times, and half a time, (Da 7:25)". To place the "church" in a the book of Daniel which was written by a Jew to a Jewish audience in exile, is a critical hermeneutical error which invariably will lead one to significant misinterpretation of the normal reading of the text as it would have been understood by the Jewish readers, not only in exile but post-exile.

R T France (Preterist) - Whatever the precise fulfilment of Jesus' warning, it seems clear from what follows that it is in the events of the Jewish War of AD 66-70 that he sees the reappearance of Daniel's desolating sacrilege. (Tyndale NT Commentary- Matthew; also author of top rated commentary - NICNT)

Hagner - If Matthew means by the "abomination that desolates" something to be accomplished by the Romans in A.D. 70, that does not prevent the elastic symbol from also being applied to something lying in the future. But that possibility is not in the evangelist's mind. (Word Biblical Commentary) Comment: Notice the incongruity of this statement - on one hand Hagner seems to leave open a future eschatological fulfillment of Mt 24:15 but on the other hand he discards it because he is able to read Matthew's mind!

Albert Barnes - The abomination of desolation means the Roman army, and is so explained by Lu. 21:20. The Roman army is farther called the abomination on account of the images of the emperor, and the eagles, carried in front of the legions, and regarded by the Romans with divine honours.

Adam Clarke like Barnes interprets the abomination as the Roman Army - This abomination of desolation, St. Luke, ( Luke 21:20, Luke 21:21;), refers to the Roman army; and this abomination standing in the holy place is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem." Comment: Clearly Clarke spiritualizes the phrase "holy place" for there is no way the Roman army could be standing in the Temple which is clearly the plain sense of the phrase "holy place."

Other commentators who interpret the abomination of desolation as the Roman Army - John Trapp, Joseph Benson, Phillip Schaff, William Burkitt, John Wesley, Daniel Whedon, Rhoderick Ice, Thomas Coke, Marvin Vincent, A T Robertson, Expositor's Greek Testament.

Johann Bengel - The time of flight is joined in Luke 21:20 with the actual moment of the approach of the army; and Eusebius mentions (H. E. iii. 5), that at that very time the Divine warning to fly had been repeated. The holy place, therefore, does not here signify the temple, or the holy of holies, for it would have been too late to flee after that had been profaned, but a definite place without and near the Holy City; in short, that very place which our Lord (as He had often done) regarded as made holy by His presence, whilst He was uttering these words: cf. Acts 7:33. Comment: Notice what Bengel does -- he recognizes that there is a problem having the Roman army standing in the holy place, so what does he do? He simply changes the plain meaning of holy place! I hope you see why I am including writers who favor a past historical fulfillment of Mt 24:15. Since they refuse to let the text speak for itself, they are forced to invent a host of rationalizations.

Reformation Study Bible (R C Sproul) on the abomination of desolation - The phrase is from Daniel. In Da. 9:27; 11:31 it refers to the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes (Ed comment: Da 11:31 is clearly a prophecy of Antiochus, but Da 9:27 is not for it occurs in the 70th week of Daniel). In 168 B.C. Antiochus erected a pagan altar in the temple. According to Josephus, he also sacrificed swine there. Shortly before A.D. 70 the Zealots were in the temple precincts during the war with Rome, and their presence could have been considered a desecration (Ed: Dear reader, can you see how one is compelled to come up with relatively far fetched speculations when one refuses to accept a simple, plain reading of the text!). (Comment - The notes in the Reformation Study Bible do not attempt to explain Mt 24:21 but simply skip over "the Great Tribulation!")

John Gill interprets the abomination of desolation as "the Roman army...the Roman armies were desolating ones to the Jews, and to whom they were an abomination." Matthew Poole and the Concordia Study Bible also interpret the abomination as the Roman armies! Jesus plainly states that the abomination stands in the Holy Place. Clearly the abomination cannot be the Roman army, as there would hardly be room in the Temple! The only way such an interpretation works is to disregard (or spiritualize) the clear words of Jesus! Do you see how absurd such an interpretation is when one refuses to let Jesus' words say what they say?

Andrews Study Bible on the abomination of desolation - The clear context of the next five verses (Mt 24:16-20) is the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in A.D. 70. Therefore, this prophecy of Daniel (Da 9:26-27) points to, among other events, the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. Mt 24:21-22 After the fall of Jerusalem and before the Second Coming of Christ the church was to go through oppression and persecution, as predicted in Da 7:21-26 Jesus promised that God in His sovereignty and love would limit the duration of that experience. (Comment - Notice how this note does not even interpret a Jewish prophet's writing to a Jewish audience in Babylonian captivity in a Jewish context, but as written to the church! This is an excellent example of the absurd interpretations that are imagined when one chooses to presumptuously jettison a literal interpretation of the Scriptures.)

BRIEF CRITIQUE OF SEVERAL MORE RECENT
TOP RATED COMMENTARIES ON MATTHEW

From the previous analysis, it seems relatively clear that if (and this is a critical "IF") one reads Matthew 24:15-21 seeking the plain, normal sense from Jesus' words, these passages have never been perfectly fulfilled in the history of the world! On the other hand if one feels Jesus' words have been fulfilled in 70AD, there are significant problems as alluded to above. To further illustrate the problems one encounters when the passage is interpreted as fulfilled in 70AD, we will present analyses of several of the top rated commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, because NOT ONE of these commentaries interpret Matthew 24:15 as a yet to be fulfilled future event. One wonders if there is a non-futuristic bias in these lists of "best commentaries". In fact, one of the best evangelical expository commentaries available on Matthew (John MacArthur's Matthew Commentary) does not even attain honorable mention status on the following two lists of "best commentaries" on Matthew (Use these lists with a healthy Acts 17:11-note mindset):

Now we will take a look at the Matthew commentaries to which Challies and Ligonier give the highest rank.

(1) Expositor's Bible Commentary - Matthew - D A Carson. Carson's work is singled out for scrutiny because it is Tim Challies' highest rated commentary on Matthew and Dr Carson is highly respected (and rightly so!) So let's see how he interprets Matthew 24:15.

In explaining Mt 24:15 Carson first asks the question "to what event does Jesus make this text (Ed: Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11) from Daniel refer?" Carson then makes a relatively dogmatic statement that...

The obvious occasion, in general terms, is AD 70, though certain difficulties must be faced. Although topos ("place," GK 5536) can refer to the city of Jerusalem (cf. BDAG, 1011), the normal meaning of topos hagios ("holy place") is the Temple complex (cf. BDAG; see Isa 60:13; 2Macc 1:29; 2:18; Acts6:13; 21:28). But by the time the Romans had actually desecrated the Temple in AD 70, it was too late for anyone in the city to flee." (Expositor's Bible Commentary, 2010).

Could it be that AD 70 in fact is not "the obvious" answer and that this is the reason there are "certain difficulties?" It is always difficult to force a square plug in a round hole! It is much better to let the text speak for itself and to compare Scripture with Scripture. The first difficulty Carson alludes to is the identity of the holy place. However if one examines the 60 NT uses of holy place, it is clear that they all refer to the Temple and none refer to the city. The second difficulty Carson alludes is more problematic and even Carson acknowledges that by the time the Romans had actually desecrated the Temple in AD 70, it was too late for anyone in the city to flee. Recall that the disciples had asked Jesus for a sign and Jesus gave them a clear sign, one that would be visible, one that could be seen (cf "When you see...") = the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. So if it would have been too late to flee, why would Jesus have given such a specific sign? There would have been no need to give a sign! And it follows that if the sign was of no value, then Jesus' subsequent extended warning to flee the city in Mt 24:16-20 would have been superfluous. But we know that everything Jesus says has purpose, so there must be another answer. Carson goes on in an attempt to explain this significant difficulty writing that...

Mark's language is less explicit—standing where it does not belong (Mk 13:14) instead of standing in the holy place. Luke resolves the matter: "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near" (Lk 21:20-24-note) (Ed: See commentary on these Lucan passages)—but now there is no explicit mention of "the abomination of desolation." Possibly Jesus said something ambiguous, such as Mark reports (Ed comment: Why would Jesus be ambiguous and then immediately give five verses emphasizing that the reader must flee Jerusalem immediately? That simply makes no sense if the sign was ambiguous!). Luke, writing for a Gentile audience less concerned with Daniel, emphasizes the aspect of warning (Ed comment: But as explained in my commentary on Lk 21:20-24 Luke gives an entirely different "sign". Luke's "sign" is outside the city, while Matthew's sign is in the city, specifically in the Temple!) Matthew, believing the allusions to Daniel important for his Jewish audience because Jesus drew attention to them, makes explicit reference to "the abomination of desolation" and to "the holy place," since the setting up of the abomination in the holy place is the inevitable result of the pagan attack."

Notice that because of the difficulty in trying to make Mt 24:15 "fit" an AD 70 fulfillment, Carson compares the CLEAR UNMISTAKABLE SIGN in Matthew 24:15 with a distinctly different "sign" in Luke 21:20, a sign pointing to the subsequent desolation of the city of Jerusalem in 70AD. In explaining why Luke 21:20-24 has no mention of an abomination of desolation, Carson hypothesizes that "Possibly Jesus said something ambiguous." Considering the fact that Jesus was giving a "sign" followed by a warning to flee, it is highly unlikely that Jesus was ambiguous! He does not mention the other possibility that the signs given by Jesus in Matthew and Luke are different because these are signs of different events, one past and the other yet to be fulfilled.

Carson makes an interesting statement (with which I agree) that "there is reasonably good tradition that Christians abandoned the city, perhaps in A.D. 68, about halfway through the siege." But think about that for a moment. What was the "sign" that even made this possible? The city had to have a siege, an encircling Roman army, as described in Luke 21:20, but there would have to be a lull in the siege to allow Jews to escape. And historically that seems to be what happened as Fruchtenbaum explains. If that is true, then why would Jesus even need to give a second and different sign? I think the answer is clear -- the second sign points to a different event, one that has not yet occurred in history. While there are similarities between the discourses in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, there are significant differences as highlighted by a chart depicting similarities and differences.

(2) Craig Blomberg - BORROW - NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY - Matthew (Ranked number four in Tim Challies' top 5, and in the "Runners Up" after the top five in the Ligonier's list) -

Although Blomberg ends up favoring a 70AD fulfillment, he does seem to entertain the possibility that Jesus' warning in Mt 24:15-20 refers to a yet future event writing

"The imagery of sacrilegious desolation and the temple's destruction (Mt 24:15) calls to mind Second Thessalonians and particularly the appearance of the "man of lawlessness" in God's temple (2Th 2:3-4). Given the repeated patterns of God's activity in history, these parallels should not surprise us. (Ed comment: Notice Blomberg really does not address clear resemblance of the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15 and the abomination committed by the "man of lawlessness" in God's Temple, but instead simply says "these parallels should not surprise us." Perhaps not, but what about the fact that the best "commentary" on Scripture is Scripture - see Compare Scripture with Scripture. Blomberg basically chooses not to talk about the parallel between Mt 24:15 and 2Thes 2:3-4, this latter prophecy clearly awaiting a future fulfillment and thus lending credence to a similar futuristic interpretation of Mt 24:15ff!)

Undoubtedly, much that surrounded the destruction of the temple and the Jewish war in A.D. 70 will be repeated, probably on a larger scale, just prior to Christ's return (Ed comment: This begs the question what does Blomberg think "will be repeated?" Does he think an abomination standing in the holy place will be repeated? He does not elaborate).

But given the thoroughly Jewish nature of all of the details of Mt 24:15-20, their close correspondence to the actual events of the mid-first century, and the more explicit wording of Luke 21:20-24 (Ed comment: As noted elsewhere in these notes all commentaries that interpret Mt 24:15ff as fulfilled in 70AD reference this passage in Luke, but as discussed elsewhere this passage not only has a different "sign" but also has multiple other differences compared to the similar passage in Matthew 24! See Simple Chart Comparing Luke 21 and Matthew 24), there is no reason to take any of Matthew's text here as looking beyond the events that culminated in the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. (Ed comment: I strongly disagree with his dogmatic statement! There is one reason and it is the fact that the "abomination of desolation" Daniel described in Daniel 9:27+ has not taken place! But if one interprets Daniel 9:27 as fulfilled in Antiochus IV Epiphanes, then that problem text is removed, except that there is no historical evidence that Antiochus ever made a seven year covenant with the Jews and broke it after three and one-half years, 1260 days, 42 months or time, times and half a time! See the "coincidentally" similar eschatological time phrases = 3.5 years, "Time, times, half a time", 42 mo, 1260 days)

Blomberg also encounters difficulty when he tries to explain the Great Tribulation of Mt 24:21 - He writes...

Another "then" (tote) appears. It does not seem to mean later but at that time or beginning immediately (Ed comment: Which begs the question "At what time?" If we examine the context Jesus clearly tells us the "time" - "When [an expression of time] you see the abomination of desolation...". Blomberg continues...) —the NIV does not even break for a paragraph. But the concept of a period of unparalleled distress (based on Da 12:1-note) causes problems (Ed comment: Why does it cause problems? In simple terms, it causes problems because a 70AD fulfillment simply cannot explain Mt 24:21!). If these two verses simply depict the horrors surrounding the war of A.D. 70, it is hard to see how Mt 24:21 could be true (Ed comment: I am thankful for his honest comment that it is difficult to explain Mt 24:21 if one adheres to a 70AD destruction!). If they point to some end-time sacrilege, just before the Parousia, then it is hard to see how Matthew allows for a gap of at least two thousand years between Mt 24:20-21 (Ed comment: To reiterate, it is NOT "hard" at all to see, if one simply takes at face value the flow of Jesus' clear, visible starting signal in Mt 24:15, followed by His words of warning in Mt 24:16-20 and then by His crystal clear explanation of why it so imperative that the Jews flee in Mt 24:21. Blomberg continues...) It is probably best, therefore, to understand this period of great distress, or "the great tribulation," as it is more commonly known, as the entire period beginning with the devastation of A.D. 70 and continuing on until Christ's return (cf. "immediately" in Mt 24:29) (Ed comment: It is interesting that Blomberg calls attention to the time phrase "immediately" because if one reads Mt 24:15-21 literally the Great Tribulation is in fact followed "immediately" by His return and that in fact is how "those days shall be cut short!" Mt 24:22! Oh, the "tinkering" that one must invoke if one refuses to read Jesus' words literally!)

Rosscup adds Blomberg "appears to hold a post-tribulation rapture of the church (370), but with some lack of clarity as to how that would be consistent with other aspects of his views."

(3) Leon Morris. The Gospel According to Matthew (Pillar Commentary). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992. - (Ranked second in Tim Challies' top 5, and ranked fourth in the Ligonier list)

Morris explains Mt 24:15 writing that "There has been a good deal of dispute about the precise meaning of the expression (the abomination of desolation) in this context, but there can be no doubt that Jesus was referring to some "abominable" thing, that is, something that brought or would bring defilement to the Temple. It would stand in the holy place, that is, the temple (Ed comment: So far, so good. Morris is thankfully interpreting the text literally to this point.) At the siege of Jerusalem many horrific things took place as zealous Jews fought over the Temple and defilement of some sort certainly took place. The reference seems to be to something of this sort rather than to what the Romans did when they captured it, for by that time it would be too late to flee; there were opportunities earlier. (Note: My bolding, italics and color added for emphasis)

Ed Comment: Notice Morris uses the phrase "seems to be something of this sort" which "SEEMS" (PUN INTENDED) to express a degree of uncertainty. However recall that Jesus is answering the disciples' request for signs in Mt 24:3 and it makes very little sense that He would give them a sign with a high degree of uncertainty! Thankfully Morris astutely recognizes that if one interprets the Roman army as the abomination as do so many of the non-literalistic interpreters, there is a significant problem! Unfortunately, Morris does not even make mention of the possibility of the Antichrist nor does he quote the clear parallel passage by Paul where "he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." (2Th 2:3-4)! One has to wonder who Morris thinks Paul is referring to in that passage?

(Morris) Let the reader understand....encourages the reader to think hard about the words: "it means, Look more deeply into this, because what is said is less than what is meant" (Fenton).

Ed comment: I absolutely agree - this prophecy requires one to spend significant time studying the prophecies of Daniel and not just try to make the abomination fit with past historical events, which is sadly the most common approach to interpretation of Matthew 24:15!

(Morris) But clearly He is saying that there will be some sacrilegious happening that will pollute and empty the holy place and that his followers should take notice of it when it occurs."

Ed comment: To Morris' credit whether he meant to do it or not, he leaves open the door that this prophecy could await a fulfillment at some time in the future. 

Morris has an interesting note on Mt 24:21 - "This is underlined with the information that it will be of a magnitude unparalleled in the entire history of the world; such trouble has never been, nor will it be equaled thereafter. (There is an unusual piling up of negatives—oud ou me—that makes for a very emphatic negation.)"

Ed comment: Another astute observation! Indeed by using three negatives Jesus is making it very clear that the great tribulation He is predicting will never, absolutely ever occur again in the history of the world! This fact alone would be strong support against the commonly held view that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was the "great tribulation." Notice Morris' statement that this trouble will not be equaled thereafter. As discussed in these notes, the Jews have experienced far worse tribulation under Adolph Hitler than they did under the Roman general Titus! This fact alone should make anyone who adheres to Mt 24:15-21 as a historically fulfilled event pause and make an honest, non-biased reappraisal of their interpretation!

Rosscup adds this critique on Morris' commentary - "One of the world's best-known evangelical, amillennial NT scholars provides a thorough, clear, well-studied and mature tool based on the Greek but highly readable even for those who do not know Greek. Morris usually surges quickly to the crux, and gives main views, reasons for his choices, word meaning, contextual factors, background, and customs. His work here is right up with the No. 1 commentaries in all-around contribution. In prophetical passages such as Matthew 24-25, one will see an amillennial perspective near its best."

(4) Craig Keener. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary - (Ranked fifth in Tim Challies' top 5, and ranked third in the Ligonier list) The following critique of Keener's writing style is somewhat more complicated because Keener's writing style and comments are very difficult to follow compared to most of the other Matthew commentaries. (Here is a link to his IVP Commentary on Matthew)

Introductory Comment: It is interesting that Challies writes "Keener's work receives high recommendations and (emphasis is Challis') significant warnings about the limits of its usefulness." Unfortunately, Challies fails to elaborate on his "significant warnings." While I do not know the nature of Challies' warnings, in reading Keener's comments on Matthew 24:15ff there was one sentence that caused me great alarm --"Even in the New Testament the language may be mythological at points." Really? I admit that I do not possess a theological doctorate (I am a medical doctor) but I steadfastly refute that statement by Keener. In fact, this one statement by Keener ought to serve notice that his comments no matter how erudite (and they are probably the MOST erudite of the top 5 commentaries on Matthew), should be read with great caution and a healthy Acts 17:11 Berean mindset, lest one be misled from the plain meaning of the inerrant, plenary inspired (verbal plenary inerrancy) Words of Jesus in Matthew 24. Below are selected excerpts from Keener's commentary most of which are followed by my comments.

KEENER'S EXPLANATION
OF THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION

Keener explains the abomination of desolation writing "the language of Jesus' reference to a desolating sacrilege in the sanctuary (Mt 24:15) suggests a more specific Biblical allusion. Daniel's language stands behind that of Maccabees and Josephus. When Daniel spoke of the "abomination that would result in desolation," one text referred to the events surrounding Antiochus Epiphanes, who claimed to be deity and oppressed Israel (Da 8:13; 11:31, 36-39); another text, however, associates the same phenomenon with the cutting off of an anointed ruler, close to the time of Jesus (Da 9:26-note [NOTE: All "note" additions after the Scripture are links to my commentary on Daniel] = "Then after the sixty-two weeks the [anointed one] will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined."). Further, the end had not come after Antiochus' desecration of the temple (Da 11:31-note; cf. "then" in Da 12:1-note - "there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time"), allowing the possibility that another desolation would come (Da 12:11-12-note). The image of this final tribulation period was reapplied....Jewish speculation concerning the end time regularly reapplied Daniel's figures in various manners. Revelation seems to reapply Daniel's tribulation period to the period between Jesus' first and second comings (Rev 12:1-6, 10) (Ed: see Revelation 12 Commentary); some scholars have understood Matthew 24 similarly....

Keener continues to explain the abomination of desolation - "Jewish people recognized that shedding innocent blood in the sanctuary would profane it (1Mac 1:37NRSV; Jos. Ant. 9.152; so also Mt 23:35), and some even saw this defilement as a desolation (1Mac 1:39NRSV; 1Mac 2:12NRSV). Josephus indicated that the shedding of priestly blood in the sanctuary was the desecration, or "abomination," that invited the ultimate desolation of A.D. 70. (Ed comment: I must question Josephus' credentials as a trusted interpreter of Scripture! I am not even aware that he was born again.) Very close to three and a half years after the abomination (cf. War 6.93), the temple was destroyed and violated even more terribly.

Ed comment: Keener seems to accept that that Daniel 9:27-note is 7 years as he says "very close to three and a half years after the abomination the temple was destroyed." The problem with that statement is that Daniel clearly dates the abomination in Daniel's Seventieth week whereas the destruction of the Temple described by Daniel was in the sixty-ninth week - see Da 9:26-note! Not only that, but interpretation of eschatology is not like horse shoes, so "close" does not count! Daniel 9:27-note dogmatically states the covenant is broken at the midpoint of the 7 which would be 3.5 years, which in turn fits beautifully with 6 other similar time phrases! See similar eschatological time phrases = 3.5 years, "Time, times, half a time", 42 mo, 1260 days. In short, Keener's interpretation of the "abomination" would not even remotely correlate with Daniel's specific chronology!)

(Keener) - After the temple burned, the Romans erected on the site of the temple their standards, which bore the emperors' images and were housed with idols in the army camps, then offered sacrifice to them.

Ed comment: Do you see the problem one encounters when you compare Jesus' words in Mt 24:15 with what transpired historically? Recall that Jesus says the abomination [whatever it is] stands in the holy place, the Temple. So if one postulates that the Roman idolatrous sacrifices are the abomination, according to history they occurred AFTER the Temple was burned. For Jesus' prediction to be fulfilled, one would have to have an intact holy place!

(Keener) - Jerusalemites had once preferred death to permitting these standards to enter the city....But Jesus' warning must apply to the earlier rather than the final desecration, because shortly after the Romans surrounded Jerusalem escape became increasingly difficult (e.g., Jos. War 5.420-23, 449).

Ed comment: Here is the problem that all those who see a historical fulfillment if they interpret the abomination as the Roman army. Once the Roman army had surrounded Jerusalem, it would have been too late to escape.

(Keener) - In Matthew, the tribulation seems to begin with the sanctuary's desecration in A.D. 66 and concludes with Jesus' return (Mt 24:29). If, as I think most likely, Matthew writes some years after 70, this allows several interpretive options:

In Matthew 24 Jesus (each of the enumerated comments is from Keener)...

(1) skips from this tribulation to the next eschatologically significant event, His return (Fuller 1966; cf. Lk 21:24; especially compare Mt 24:21, "nor ever shall," with Da 12:1; cf. Jos. War pref. 1);

Ed comment: This comment by Keener demonstrates the problem that the Preterist view presents. Clearly Jesus did not return in the first century [unless one invokes view #5 below!] and yet in context His return is linked with the sign of the beginning of the end - see Mt 24:14 [the end shall come] which in turn (in context) links to Mt 24:15! Recall the question the disciples asked Jesus in Mt 24:3 was what is "the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" He will return at the end of the age and the abomination of desolation is a visible sign of the beginning of the end, a sign that warns the Jews to flee and a sign that His return will soon follow as Jesus clearly states = "immediately after the tribulation of those days [Which tribulation? The great tribulation He had just described in Mt 24:21, clearly linking the beginning of this great tribulation with the appearance of the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place in Mt 24:15] "and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky" (Mt 24:29-30)

(2) regards the whole interim between the Temple's demise and his return as an extended tribulation period ("immediately"—Mt 24:29; e.g., Carson 1984b: 507);

Ed comment: Jesus said there would never again be anything like it. To make all history from 70AD to >2016 AD the "great tribulation" is defies common sense!

(3) prophetically blends the tribulation of 66-70 with the final one, which it prefigures (see Bock 1994: 332-33);

Ed comment: This option seems to suggest a past and a future fulfillment and as noted below even Keener admits to favoring "elements of (3)! This is how a partial preterist might interpret Mt 24:15, as fulfilled historically in 70AD and yet prefiguring a final future fulfillment at the end of the age.

(4) begins the tribulation in 66 but postpones the rest of it until the end time;

Ed comment: Is he saying the "tribulation" has a gap? It sounds like that is what #4 is postulating.

(5) intends His "return" in Mt 24:29-31 symbolically for the fall of Jerusalem.

Ed comment: To interpret Mt 24:30 as symbolic is patently absurd!

(Keener concludes) I currently favor options (1) or (2) with elements of (3).

(Keener then adds) (Against the view of a "spiritual" coming are the many emphatic statements about a personal, visible coming in the context—Mt 24:27; Gundry 1982: 491.)

Ed comment: Here is Keener's comment from his earlier IVP commentary on Matthew - "Although many scholars (including a number of conservative scholars) prefer option 5, the many emphatic statements about a personal, visible coming in the context probably rule out a symbolic coming the way they would a "spiritual" one." I agree wholeheartedly with this comment. Jesus is coming back visibly, bodily, and in a cloud, exactly like He ascended (Acts 1:9-11, Rev 1:7-note)

(Keener) The third option may in fact deserve more attention than my current inclination has given it: certainly the prophetic perspective naturally viewed nearer historical events as precursors of the final events (Ed: This suggests Keener sees some merit in a future fulfillment!).

(Keener continues) In any case, the view (circulated mainly in current popular circles) that Matthew 24 addresses only a tribulation that even readers after 70 assumed to be wholly future is not tenable; Matthew understands that "all these things" (probably referring to the question about the temple's demise—Mt 24:2; Mk 13:4) will happen within a generation (Mt 24:34), language that throughout Jesus' teachings in Matthew refers to the generation then living (e.g., Mt 11:16; 12:39, 45; 16:4; 23:36; cf. Mt 27:25).

Ed comment: Mt 24:34 is a difficult verse to interpret. Some like Keener say it refers to the generation living at the time Jesus spoke these words which would refute a future interpretation of Matthew 24:15-22. While I admit that this passage is difficult to "fit" with futuristic interpretation, to base one's entire interpretation on a problematic passage is also very tenuous. That is especially true when there are so many problems (as discussed above) with the interpretation of Matthew 24:15-22 as prophecy fulfilled in 70AD. See the Matthew 24:34 Commentary for a discussion of the multiple ways Mt 24:34 has been interpreted. Keener's comment that Matthew uses "language that throughout Jesus' teachings in Matthew refers to the generation then living" is not completely accurate. In fact Keener only lists 5 Matthew references to generation (e.g., Mt 11:16; 12:39, 45; 16:4; 23:36; cf. Mt 27:25), but there are actually 13 occurrences of generation in 10 verses and several lend themselves to an interpretation that is compatible with a future interpretation of Mt 24:15. (see Matthew 24:34 Commentary).

(Finally Keener concludes) Further, Luke dispenses with much of the symbolism and lays the emphasis almost entirely on the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, in which Judean slaves were carried among the nations. For Luke, the "abomination" that brings about desolation becomes simply the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem, promising desolation (Lk 21:20-note).

Ed comment: As has been stated in Luke 21:20-24 Jesus gives a different sign [encircling army] and has no mention of an unprecedented time of distress. There are also a number of other differences between Matthew 24 and Luke 21-see Chart comparing Matthew and Luke.

(5) Davies and Allison (Matthew 19-28- International Critical Commentary- Not ranked in Challies' top 5, and fifth in Ligonier's list) This commentary seems to offer a hybrid preterist and futurist interpretation of Mt 24:15ff. This commentary is the only one of the highly ranked commentaries that even considers the possibility that Mt 24:15 might be the future Antichrist.

Luke seems to refer it to the destruction of the temple in AD 70 (Lk 21:20), and many commentators think this also the reference in Matthew. That is possible. But it is no less likely that our evangelist had in mind some future, eschatological defilement and destruction, and perhaps even activities of an anti-Christ for 2Th 2:3-4 shows the early existence of such a tradition within Christianity."

Let me summarize the significance of accurate interpretation of the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15 by quoting from Jewish believer Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum:

Concerning the events of the second half of the Tribulation, all together, the Messiah said eight things.

First: the Messiah dealt with the specific event that will mark the beginning of the second half of the Tribulation: the Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place (v. 15). The Abomination of Desolation will involve two stages. The first stage will be when the Antichrist will take over the Jewish Temple, sit down in the Holy of Holies, and declare himself to be god (2 Thes. 2:3-10). The second stage of the Abomination of Desolation will be when the False Prophet will make an image of the Antichrist and stand it up in the Holy of Holies (Rev. 13:11-15; Dan. 12:11). This act of the Abomination of Desolation will signal that the second and worse half of the Tribulation has begun.

Second: the Abomination of Desolation will be the signal for the Jews to flee out of the Land (vv. 16-20); this flight is also recorded in Revelation 12:13-17. This passage reflects a sense of urgency in Israel's flight. In fact, the whole emphasis is on speed and quickness. This emphasis is especially evident in the Messiah's listing of the three difficulties that may be encountered in this flight. The first difficulty is for women who are pregnant or have infants. In both cases, this makes quick flight difficult as any woman in that condition can certainly verify. The second difficulty is in relation to the winter, when weather conditions can also limit a speedy escape especially through wadis such as the one leading to Petra. The third difficulty is in relation to the Sabbath, a day when all public transportation closes down. For these two reasons, they are advised to pray that this Abomination of Desolation, which will indeed come to pass, will not come on the Sabbath day or during the winter months, during the rainy season.

Third: the reason for this flight (v. 21) is because at this time worldwide anti-Semitism will break out in all its fierceness. Satan's attempt to annihilate the Jews once and for all will have begun in earnest.

Fourth: Israel will survive this terrible period, though greatly reduced in number (v. 22).

Fifth: the second half of the Tribulation will be characterized by a false messiah, as typified in the counterfeit son, the Antichrist (v. 23).

Sixth: the latter half of the Tribulation will be characterized by many false signs, miracles and wonders, for the purpose of worldwide deception. These false signs will be performed by both the Antichrist (2 Thes. 2:8-10) and by the False Prophet (Rev. 13:11-15).

Seventh: the Messiah warned that there will be people saying that the Messiah has returned here or that the Messiah has returned there, and that the Second Coming has secretly occurred (vv. 25-27). The Messiah warned the Jews of that day not to believe any such rumor or statement and come out of hiding because, unlike His First Coming, the Second Coming will not be in secret. When the Messiah returns the second time, all men will see it, for it will be like a flash of lightning surrounding the world.

Eighth: the Messiah gave a hint as to the place of His Second Coming in verse 28. He said that where the body is, there will the eagles (better translated as "vultures") be gathered together. The "body" refers to Israel, while the "vultures" refer to the Gentile nations coming against the body of Israel. The place of the Second Coming of the Messiah will be in that place where the body of Israel is located, and where the Gentile nations are gathered together. The exact place is known as Bozrah (in Hebrew) or Petra (in Greek). That is where the "body" will be (Mic. 2:12-13); that is where the "vultures" will be gathered to come against them (Is. 34:1-7; 63:1-6); and that will be the place of the Second Coming (Hab. 3:3).

To summarize, in this passage, the Messiah presented the events of the second half of the Tribulation, showing it to be an especially difficult period for Israel which will culminate in the Second Coming of the Messiah. But He has not yet answered the second question that concerned the sign that will signal the Messiah's Second Coming. (Footsteps of the Messiah - Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum- Recommended Read)

THE IMAGE
OF THE BEAST

Tony Garland has the following discussion on the image of the beast...

Scripture indicates that the Beast who attains worldwide worship (Rev. 13:8) "opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2Th. 2:4). But there is a catch—the Beast is not God. In particular, he lacks God's unique attribute of omnipresence. So as long as he himself remains sitting in the Temple, he is unable to venture forth on the various campaigns which are associated with his activities at the time of the end. This seems to be the motivation behind the instructions by the False Prophet that the earth dwellers should "make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived" (Rev. 13:14). Having established the image, the False Prophet is "granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed" (Rev. 13:15 cf. Rev 14:9). This is perhaps one of the most remarkable statements in all of Scripture as it appears that the False Prophet is allowed, by the sovereignty of God's permissive control of evil, to give the image life.

Although we can't be sure, it seems reasonable to think that one purpose of the image is to continue to occupy the holy place within the Temple allowing the Beast to venture forth to attend to his many responsibilities—leaving an icon (image) present as the focal point of worship. Notice that both the Beast and his image are the objects of worship (Rev. 13:15; Rev 19:20). Those who refuse to worship the image are killed!

Although the man of sin himself first sits in the Temple (2Th. 2:3-4), Jesus infers that something inanimate is set up in the holy place: "Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place. . ." (Mt. 24:15). The abomination in this verse is not a person (masculine or feminine) but a thing (neuter). Perhaps it is the image of the Beast. It is impossible to know for certain. Yet, this would help explain one purpose of the image of the Beast.

Following the judgments of the sixth trumpet "the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols . . ." (Rev. 9:20). Interestingly, the image of the Beast is the ultimate work of their hands since the False Prophet "deceives those who dwell on the earth . . . to make an image to the beast" (Rev. 13:14). Thus, they themselves make the ultimate idol (icon) of their own worship!

The image of the Beast is typified by Nebuchadnezzar's gold image which his subjects were required to worship on penalty of death:

Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true,...that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?...if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" (Da 3:14-15-note)

In the same way that Nebuchadnezzar's image received worship on his behalf, so will the image of the beast receive worship together with the Beast himself. (A Testimony of Jesus Christ - Image of the Beast)

THE TRIBULATION
TEMPLE

Tony Garland

Several passages of Scripture indicate that the activities of the Antichrist involve a future Jewish Temple:

Daniel 9:27-note - The prince who is to come confirms a covenant for the duration of the Seventieth Week of Daniel. In the middle of the week, "he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering." This implies an preexisting Temple within which sacrifice and offering had been taking place.

Daniel 12:11-note - The daily sacrifice will be taken away and the Abomination of Desolation is set up. The context indicates that this occurs during "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a [Jewish] nation" (Da 12:1). A Temple must have been standing in which the daily sacrifices were being offered.

Matthew 24:15 - Jesus predicted that the Abomination of Desolation would stand "in the holy place." This refers to a location within the Temple.

2 Thessalonians 2:4 - Paul indicated that one of the acts of the man of sin would be to exalt himself "above all that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

Revelation 11:1-note - John is told to measure "the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there." The context is during the Tribulation, prior to the return of Christ.

It is beyond all doubt that a Temple exists at the time of Antichrist. The only question which remains is which Temple? As we have already mentioned, most preterist interpreters take Nero to be The Beast and understand the fulfillment of his overthrow by Christ (Rev. 19:20) to be his suicide in A.D. 68. They see John's mention of a Temple in Revelation 11:1-2 as internal evidence for an early date for the writing of Revelation.

If this were an acceptable explanation and interpretation, then the Tribulation Temple would be none other than the Second Temple prior to its destruction by Rome in A.D. 70. However, attempts to find fulfillment of the book of Revelation, not to mention all the other related prophetic themes, in the events of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 require an enormous amount of creative and imprecise interpretation, not to mention outright reversal of textual meaning.75 Although preterists maintain that since John is told to measure the Temple (Rev. 11:1-note) it must therefore have been standing in John's day, this is not necessarily so:

Regarding Preterist assertion that this is Herod's temple, to be destroyed in 70 A.D., there are at least two problems with this view. Firstly, most scholars date the book of Revelation after that destruction and secondly, It does not matter at all whether the temple is thought to still be standing in Jerusalem at the time that John sees the vision, since that would not necessarily have any bearing upon a vision. John is told by the angel accompanying him during the vision to 'measure the temple' (Rev. 11:1-note). Measure what temple? The temple in the vision. In fact, Ezekiel, during a similar vision of a temple (Eze. 40-48) was told to measure that temple. [Preterists] would agree, that when Ezekiel saw and was told to measure a temple, that there was not one standing in Jerusalem.76

There is an additional problem with the preterist view that the Tribulation Temple is the Second Temple: no one in the early church—the saints who lived closest to the times of both Nero and John—understood the preterist scheme. They did not see Nero as the Antichrist and the destruction of Jerusalem as the fulfillment of the book of Revelation. Some of the earliest interpreters, like futurist interpreters of today, expected the Temple to be a rebuilt Temple future to John's day:

Therefore, when he [the antichrist] receives the kingdom, he orders the temple of God to be rebuilt for himself, which is in Jerusalem; who after coming into it, he shall sit as God.—Ephraim the Syrian, A.D. 373. (Thomas Ice and Timothy J. Demy, When the Trumpet Sounds)

But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that "many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. I )

As we discuss elsewhere, the Date of the writing of the book of Revelation is most likely in A.D. 95 or 96 at the end of Domitian's reign. At that time, no Temple stood in Jerusalem. Therefore, the passages mentioned above which have not yet been fulfilled require the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple. It would appear that this Tribulation Temple must be in place no later than the midpoint of The 70th Week of Daniel in order for the man of sin to sit in the Holy Place and for the Abomination of Desolation to be set up. The Temple may actually be built well in advance of that event, especially since it appears that the breaking of the covenant between the Antichrist and "many" in Israel contravenes the resumption of sacrifice and offering which would previously have been taking place at the site of the Temple (Da 9:27-note). Either the Tribulation Temple will be complete by the time the sacrifice is resumed or, as in the days of the rebuilding of the Second Temple, the sacrifices will be resumed while the construction of the Temple is in progress.

As we discussed in relation to the Temple of the Believer, there is nothing which precludes the existence of a Jewish Temple side-by-side with believers who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This was the situation for almost four decades after the Day of Pentecost until the destruction of the Second Temple:

The early Jewish church—before the destruction of the Temple—was indwelt, sealed, and filled with the Spirit and yet continued to worship in the Temple! This would imply that the Third Temple could be built during the church age and even sacrifices commenced without there being a necessary conflict with "spiritual worship." (Thomas Ice and Timothy J. Demy, When the Trumpet Sounds)

Moreover, a rebuilt Jewish Temple would most likely be the product of orthodox Judaism which rejects the Christian reality of the Temple of the Believer. So views concerning the compatibility of a physical Temple while a spiritual Temple already exists within each believer may be irrelevant. There is also the possibility that the Church will be taken in the Rapture prior to the construction of the Tribulation Temple. Finally, we note that during the Millennial Kingdom, a physical Temple will exist alongside believers in Jesus.

As to the practicality of rebuilding the Temple, there is much controversy. Considerable debate attends the identification of the precise location of Solomon's Temple upon the Temple Mount and whether the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque preclude any possibility of a future Jewish Temple on the Mount.

There is also disagreement concerning whether a Jewish Temple could be built upon the Temple Mount while the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque continue to stand. Some investigators claim that the Second Temple stood at a slightly different location than that occupied by the Dome of the Rock. Others say this is a moot point because Muslims would never allow the Jews to build anything anywhere upon the Temple Mount so long as Islam controls the location. Similarly, orthodox Judaism considers all Islamic presence on the Mount to be a defilement of their historical holy location. It is beyond the scope of our treatment here to consider the issues related to the precise location and ability to rebuild. See Temple-Related Websites.

See also:

Clearly, there is not a single event that occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem which can be said to fulfill Daniel's description and Christ's reference of Daniel in Matthew 24:15.

Eusebius wrote, "when finally, the abomination of desolation, according to the prophetic declaration, stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, but which now was approaching its total downfal [sic] and final destruction by fire; all this, I say, any one that wishes may see accurately stated in the history written by Josephus" [Book III, Chapter V].

Schaff quoted Eusebius for his information and Eusebius based his history upon the accounts of Josephus' The Wars of the Jews. In The Wars of the Jews 6.4.1—5.4, not once did Josephus record any abomination of desolation in the Jewish Temple prior to it being destroyed. After the Temple was destroyed, Josephus recorded,

And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple, and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator, with the greatest acclamations of joy [6.6.1].

(ED COMMENT: Notice Josephus records the "holy house" was burned, then the Romans bought their idolatrous ensigns and set them against the Eastern Gate -- the ensigns standing at the Eastern Gate does not fulfill Jesus' prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place." It is close, but this is not a game of "horseshoes" but the serious words of warning from the Omniscient One Who makes no mistakes in the details. Every jot and tittle will be fulfilled exactly as Jesus predicted!)

Schaff also documented the preceding quote from Josephus. Within a quotation, he wrote,

"Thus was fulfilled the prophecy concerning the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place."

A casual reading of Schaff's History of the Christian Church would seem to indicate that Josephus wrote the preceding sentence, but since the sentence cannot be found in Josephus' section on the destruction of Jerusalem, it is obvious that the sentence is the conclusion of Schaff. He referenced "Daniel 9:27; Matt. 24:15; comp. Luke 21:20" as being fulfilled in the destruction.

Eusebius was correct in referencing Luke 19:42-44 and Lk 21:23-24 (Book 3, Chapter 7) and Schaff was correct in referencing Luke 21:20 as fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. However, Eusebius was incorrect when referencing Matthew 24:19-21 and Schaff also when referencing Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15. The reason why both historians are wrong in quoting the Daniel and Matthean passages is that Josephus recorded the Roman sacrifices (desolation) as occurring after the fire destroyed the city and the Temple.

Furthermore, as Buswell mentioned, there was no opportunity for the Jews to escape the city as Jesus commanded in Matthew 24:15-21. Josephus recorded that Titus had a wall constructed which encompassed the entire city of Jerusalem "to guard against the Jews' coming out....So all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city" (5.12.1, 3). It was due to the wall encompassing the city, preventing any escape, which constituted a famine that consumed the Jews (5.12.1-4). (Referencing Josephus, Eusebius Book 3, Chapter 6 also mentioned the famine that consumed the Jews because of the inability to escape from the midst of the city. [Ed: Here is a direct quote from Eusebius - "To this account Josephus, after relating other things, adds the following: The possibility of going out of the city being brought to an end, all hope of safety for the Jews was cut off. And the famine increased and devoured the people by houses and families. And the rooms were filled with dead women and children, the lanes of the city with the corpses of old men."]) Titus did not enter the city of Jerusalem until after the construction of his wall and the famine consumed the Jews. Therefore, it would be impossible to heed the commands of Jesus to flee the city because of witnessing the abomination of desolation spoken in Matthew 24:15. It should be mentioned again that any sacrilege on the part of the Romans was after the city and Temple were destroyed.

Buswell provided the reasons why much of the events of Matthew 24 do not correlate with a date of AD 70.

First, "There was no possibility that anybody could flee from Jerusalem."

Second, "Titus does not in any way resemble what Daniel said of the Prince of the Covenant."

Third, "There was no covenant with Titus or Vespatian or anybody else remotely resembling the covenant of Daniel 9:27.

Fourth, "The event which Schaff calls the abomination of desolation did not occur in the midst of any recognizable seven year period. There was nothing three and one half years before or after which in any way corresponds to Daniel's prediction."

Fifth, "There was no resurrection of the dead (Daniel 12:2). The Son of Man did not appear in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 24:30) nor gather His elect with the sound of a trumpet (Matthew 24:31)."

Sixth, "The sacrifices were not stopped by Titus but by the Jews themselves."

Schaff demonstrated that the ceasing of the sacrifices was not the result of Titus. He wrote,

"The daily sacrifices ceased July 17th, because the hands were all needed for defence" but the Temple "was burned on the tenth of August, A.D. 70, the same day of the year on which . . . the first temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar." ( Schaff, History, 397-98)

Matthew 24:16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains tote oi en te Ioudaia pheugetsan (3PPAM) eis ta ore:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

CJB "that will be the time for those in Y'hudah to escape to the hills.

PHILLIPS then is the time for those in Judea to escape to the hills.

YLT then those in Judea -- let them flee to the mounts

  • Ge 19:15-17 Ex 9:20,21 Pr 22:3 Jer 6:1 37:11,12 Lu 21:21,22 Heb 11:7
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

TIME FOR THE GREAT ESCAPE
FROM THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Then (5119) (tote) is a time sensitive adverb (see expressions of time) which means subsequently, after that; next; afterward, at that time; at the time in question. PHILLIPS paraphrase of Mt 25:15 explains the "then" - “When the time comes, then, that you see the ‘abomination of desolation’ prophesied by Daniel ‘standing in the sacred place’—the reader should note this.'

Then should always prompt the question "When is then?" which will usually "force" you to re-read the preceding context. In this context, the "then" is when you see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place which will precipitate the Great Tribulation. Jesus' words in Mt 24:15 remind me of the starter at an Olympic 100 meter dash. The gun sounds and the racers are launched from their starting blocks. When the gun "goes off" in Mt 24:15-note, it's time for the Jews to leave their "starting blocks!"

Those who are in Judea - Note that Jesus mentions the land of Judea not the whole earth. This part of the prophecy is distinctly directly to the Jews who will be living in Palestine when the abomination of desolation is revealed in Jerusalem. The Jews who are nearest to the Temple (who are in Judea) are the ones who are in greatest danger.

McNeile - "The hills of Judea abounded in caves and safe hiding-places; cf 1 Maccabees 2:28NRSV, Ex 7:16. In Luke the flight is from the besieging armies, in Matthew, Mark from the persecutions to be waged by Antichrist. It cannot be an ex eventu reference to the flight of Christians to Pella (Ed: See Eusebius' description here) for Pella was not in the mountains, but at the foot of the eastern range, in the Jordan Valley, about 17 miles south of the Lake of Galilee, and would be reached by traveling up the valley." (The Gospel according to St. Matthew - 1915)

Some such as Craig Blomberg (BORROW Matthew - New American Commentary) see the preceding call to flee the city as related to the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70AD. But Blomberg encounters a problem in Mt 24:21, admitting that "the concept of a period of unparalleled distress (based on Da 12:1-note) causes problems. If these two verses (Ed: Referring to Mt 24:21-22) simply depict the horrors surrounding the war of A.D. 70, it is hard to see how Mt 24:21 could be true. (Bolding added for emphasis) (See critique of D A Carson [holds a 70AD interpretation of Mt 24:15] explanation of Matthew 24:21)

Blomberg goes on to posit that "If they (Ed: Mt 24:15-20) point to some end-time sacrilege, just before the Parousia, then it is hard to see how Matthew allows for a gap of at least two thousand years between Mt 24:20-21." It is probably best, therefore, to understand this period of great distress, or the great tribulation, as it is more commonly known, as the entire period beginning with the devastation of A.D. 70 and continuing on until Christ's return (cf. "immediately" in Mt 24:29)." (Bolding mine)

Do you see what Blomberg is doing? He is so set on Mt 24:15-20 being fulfilled in 70AD, that he is forced to speculate that there is a time gap between the destruction in 70AD and the end times great tribulation!

John Phillips - Many think the ultimate place of hiding and security for these refugees will be the ancient rock city of Petra. (Exploring the Gospel of Matthew)

NET Note on flee to the mountains - Fleeing to the mountains is a key OT image: Ge 19:17; Jdg 6:2; Isa 15:5; Jer 16:16; Zech 14:5.

Mt 24:16 describes fleeing at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (the "time of Jacob's distress" - Jer 30:7-note).

Zechariah describes another "fleeing" from Jerusalem by the Jews but it is apparently toward last part of the 3.5 years of the Great Tribulation (because it is associated with the Lord's return Zech 14:3-4. John MacArthur calls the Zech 14 passage "the climax of the time of Jacob's distress." - Jer 30:5-7) -

"And you will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come (cp Mt 24:29-30), and all the holy ones with Him!" (Zechariah 14:5)

John MacArthur - Since God first called and made His eternal covenant with Abraham, Satan has sought to destroy God's chosen people, the Jews, and their God-ordained nation of Israel. To have destroyed the Jews would have been to destroy God's redemptive plan for mankind, because "salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22). To have eliminated the Jews before Jesus was born would have broken the line of promise and thwarted the birth and therefore the redemptive ministry of the Messiah, who had to be a descendant of Abraham and of David. Having failed at that, however, Satan still seeks to destroy individual Jews in order to prevent Christ's ultimate redemption of them and to destroy Israel as a nation in order to prevent its restoration under His divine rule. It must be added that God has allowed Satan some success in his attacks on Jews. Because of their covenant violation, unbelief, and apostasy, Satan has sometimes actually acted as God's executioner to punish them. Because they will refuse to worship him and especially because they belong to God, the Antichrist will also unleash exceptional fury against those who come to believe in Jesus during the last days. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

J Vernon McGee - You and I are not expecting to flee to the mountains of Judea. I live very near the San Gabriel Mountains, and my neighbor tells me that if an atom bomb is dropped in Southern California, he is going to head for a certain canyon up there (and I may follow him!), but that will not fulfill this prophecy. In fact, it has nothing whatever to do with it. Rather, it has to do with people who are in Judea. Our Lord is giving that prophecy to those people, not to us. (Thru the Bible Commentary)

It is interesting to note that while the Jews are charged to make the choice to flee (flee is in the active voice = calls for exertion of personal volition) supernatural assistance will be provided for "the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman (Israel), in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place (God has already provided a personal refuge)." (Rev. 12:14+)

Warren Wiersbe - The readers of this prophecy in the latter days will know what to do: Get out of Judea! These instructions are similar to those given in Luke 21:20ff, but they refer to a different time period. Luke's instructions apply to the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and the "sign" was the gathering of the armies around the city. Matthew's instructions apply to Jewish believers in the middle of the Tribulation, and the "sign" is the desecration of the temple by the image of the Antichrist. Those who have confused those two "sign events" have ended up believing that Jesus Christ returned in A.D. 70! (The Bible Exposition Commentary) (Bolding added)

Related Resource:

Must flee (escape) (5343)(pheugo) means to flee away in the sense of to take to flight in order to seek safety. To flee in the sense of to escape something, being made safe from danger by eluding or avoiding it (He 11:34, Mt 3:7, Acts 27:30). Flee is in the form of a present imperative command - keep on fleeing. The urgency of the warning bespeaks of the severity of the holocaust to come! Run for your life because the Antichrist will abruptly (at the midpoint of 7 years) turn from Israel's friend who cuts a covenant (Da 9:27) to Israel's foe seeking to persecute and exterminate the Jews! (Da 7:21, 25, Rev 12:6, Rev 12:14, Rev 13:5).

The apostle John described this treacherous time when Israel must flee writing that

the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days ( = "The Great Tribulation" of Mt 24:21-note)… And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman (Israel), in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. (Rev 12:6-note, Rev 12:14-note).

Jeremiah described this future Great Tribulation:

(Context: Babylon about to destroy Jerusalem in 586BC = dark days coming soon, but in this passage Jehovah promises better days will follow in the future!) For, behold, days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel (Israel had been taken into captivity in Assyria in 722BC over 100 years prior, but clearly they are not "quot;lost" to God) and Judah.' The LORD says, 'I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and they shall possess it (Note he is speaking of a future promise to Israel not the Church!).'" 4 Now these are the words which the LORD spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah, 5 "For thus says the LORD, 'I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread, and there is no peace. 6 'Ask now, and see, If a male can give birth. Why do I see every man With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? (Clearly this time will bring horrible persecution to the Jews) 7'Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it (cp same description in Mt 24:21-note and Daniel 12:1-note); And it is the time of Jacob's distress, But he will be saved from it. (Jer 30:3-7-note)

Daniel also described this future Great Tribulation:

"Now at that time (What time? Check context of Da 11:36-45-note = the time of the Antichrist) Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress (Lxx = thlipsis) such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued (How? When the Deliverer returns in Ro 11:26-27-note). (Daniel 12:1-note)

Tony Garland - At the midpoint of the final seven years, he rises from the abyss (Rev. 11:7-note), undoubtedly Satanically empowered, and all the world marvels at his supernatural recovery (Rev. 13:3-note). Revelation 12 indicates that it is Satan who intensely persecutes Israel during this period. It seems very likely that it is primarily through possession of this man, no doubt in association with his miraculous his rise from the abyss, that Satan works his intense persecution of the Jews. This is no ordinary persecution, it involves Satan himself acting through this individual. (Matthew 24 Commentary Notes)

The command to flee applies primarily to the Jews who will experience the unbridled vitriol of anti-Semitism at the hands of the Antichrist who is demonically empowered by the ultimate anti-Semite, Satan (Rev 13:4-5-note), who himself is cast out of heaven at the midpoint of Daniel's Seventieth week and has great wrath that drives him to persecute the "Woman" (Israel) seeking to carry out the "final solution" of total annihilation of the Jews! (Rev 12:9, 12-13-note). Satan knows that he has only a short time (Rev 12:12-note), specifically 1260 days or time, times and half a time (Rev 12:6, 14-note). Zechariah says that 2/3's of the Jews will be killed (probably more than 10 million killed) but 1/3 will be saved by the return of the Deliverer (Zech 13:8-9, Ro 11:26-27-note), this latter group representing the remnant who look upon Christ in grace enabled repentance and trust at His return (cf. Zech 12:10-13:1).


AN ORDINARY DAY - While exploring a museum exhibit titled "A Day in Pompeii," a writer was struck by the repeated theme that August 24, 79 AD began as an ordinary day. People were going about their daily business in homes, markets, and at the port of this prosperous Roman town of 20,000 people. At 8 a.m., a series of small emissions were seen coming from nearby Mount Vesuvius, followed by a violent eruption in the afternoon. In less than 24 hours, Pompeii and many of its people lay buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash. Unexpected. When you see the "small emissions" in the form of the abomination of desolation, you can know that "day" for this world is short, and life as we know it will turned into a "hell on earth" for 3.5 years as the full fury of Satan is allowed by God to erupt and cover the entire earth. When you see the "small emissions" Jesus described it is time to flee!

Matthew 24:17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house: o epi tou domatos me katabato (3SAAM) arai ta ek tes oikias autou:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

  • Whoever: Mt 6:25 Job 2:4 Pr 6:4,5 Mk 13:15,16 Lu 17:31-33
  • housetop: Mt 10:27 Dt 22:8 
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

SAVE YOUR PERSON NOT
YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTY

Jesus commands those who are alive in the day of the abomination to save their life, not their property! No material possession is worth a human life.

I have often thought if I were awoken suddenly by a fire raging in my house, what would I try to rescue? Jesus says save your life for a "fire" will soon be raging, stoked by the anger of Satan who is thrown out of heaven and knows his time is short - Rev 12:9, 12-note! How short? 3.5 years, time, times and half a time or 1260 days! That's how long he persecutes (pursues) the woman, Israel. (Rev 12:6-note, Rev 12:13-14-note).

Hiebert on Whoever is on the housetop noting that Jesus describes "by means of concrete pictures the extreme haste that will then be essential." (Ibid) - "The housetop, the flat roof of the Oriental house, was generally reached by an outside stairway (cf. Mk 2:2-4). It was used for various purposes: sleeping (1Sa. 9:25-26), keeping a watch (Isa. 22:1), worship (Zeph. 1:5; Acts 10:9), proclaiming tidings (Matt. 10:27), and the like. If a man happened to be up there when the crisis broke, he must rush down and flee without even stopping to remove." (The Gospel of Mark- An Expositional Commentary)

Robert Gundry - The disciple lounging on the flat roof of his house (compare Acts 10:9) would be tempted to come down an outside staircase, enter the house, and take household articles unnecessary but dear to a person of leisure and means. (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation)

Housetop (1430)(doma akin to demo - to build) denotes the top of a house which was usually flat "and guarded by a low parapet wall (see Dt 22:8). It was much frequented and used for various purposes, e.g., for proclamations, Matthew 10:27; Luke 12:3; for prayer, Acts 10:9 . The house was often built round a court, across the top of which cords were fixed from the parapet walls for supporting a covering from the heat. The housetop could be reached by stairs outside the building; the paralytic in Luke 5:19 could be let down into the court or area by rolling back the covering. External flight from the housetop in time or danger is enjoined in Matthew 24:17; Mark 13:15; Luke 17:31." (Housetop - Vine's Expository Dictionary)

Doma was where Rahab the harlot hid the Israeli spies in Jericho (Joshua 2:6; 8). In Jdg 16:27 doma describes "3,000 men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was amusing them." The psalmist writes "I lie awake, I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop." (Ps 102:7) Pr 25:24 says "It is better to live in a corner of the roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman." Sometimes grass was apparently grown on the housetops (Isa 37:27, 2Ki 19:26) Doma was the site of one of the saddest stories in the OT - "Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance." (2Sa 11:2). Since it was on the roof David sowed lust which led to the sins of adultery and murder, it was fitting that it would be on the roof he would reap what he had sown as his son Absalom had a tent pitched that he might go "in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel." (2Sa 16:22, cp Gal 6:7,8!) This could have been prevented if David had used the roof for prayer like Peter (Acts 10:9)! The Jews in Judah also should have emulated Peter but instead they "offered incense to Baal on their roofs and poured out libations to other gods to provoke" God to anger (Jer 32:29, cp site of pagan altars - 2Kgs 23:12, 2Chr 28:1 = King Ahaz)! Housetops were a site where lamentation and mourning were carried out (Jer 48:38, )

Thayer - . The house-tops of the Orientals were (and still are) level, and were frequented not only for walking but also for meditation and prayer: Acts 10:3; hence, on the house-tops, i.e. in public: Matthew 10:27; Lk 12:3; 2Sa 16:22.

Liddell-Scott-Jones - (I) 1. house: also, chief room, hall: hence, pl. for a single house, 2. of the gods, "immortal Olympia rooms having", of Poseidon, the nether world, Od. 12.21; of a temple, 3. housetop, LXX Dt. 22.8, Matthew 24:17, (II) household, family

Doma NAS Usage: housetop(4), housetops(2), roof(1).

Doma - 7x in 7v - Matt 10:27; 24:17; Mark 13:15; Luke 5:19; 12:3; 17:31; Acts 10:9

Doma 24v in the Lxx -

Deut 22:8; Josh 2:6, 8; Jdg 9:51; 16:27; 1Sam 9:25, 26; 2Sa 11:2; 16:22; 18:24; 2Kgs 19:26; 23:12; 2Chr 28:4; Neh 8:16; Ps 102:7; 129:6; Prov 25:24; Isa 15:3; 22:1; 37:27; Jer 19:13; 32:29; 48:38; Zeph 1:5;

ISBE says that "The roof ("housetop ," gagh ; doma) was an important part of every house and was subjected to many uses. It was used for worship (2Ki 23:12; Jer 19:13; Jer 32:29; Zeph 1:5; Acts 10:9). Absalom spread his tent on the "top of the house" (2Sa 16:22). In the Feast of the Tabernacles temporary booths (ṣukkāh) were erected on the housetops. The people, as is their habit today, gathered together on the roof as a common meeting-place on high days and holidays (Jdg 16:27). The wild wranglings which can be heard in any modern native village, resulting in vile accusations and exposure of family secrets hurled from the housetops of the conflicting parties, illustrate the passage, "And what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops" (Luke 12:3). (House - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

McNeile says "They must be ready to meet the Son of Man bereft of everything." (The Gospel according to St. Matthew)

Must not go down (2597)(katabaino from kata = down + baíno = go or come) means to come or go down, descend from a higher to a lower place. Jesus uses the aorist imperative which is a command that conveys to the one who witnesses the abomination to act now (not go down)! Don't delay!

Matthew 24:18 Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak: kai o en to agro me epistrepsato (3PAAM) opis arai to himation autou:

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NET The one on the roof must not come down to take anything out of his house,

ESV Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house,

NIV Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house.

NLT A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack.

Parallel passage

Mark 13:16+ and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. (No parallel in Luke 21:20-24).

NO TURNING BACK 
EVEN FOR ESSENTIALS

Whoever is in the field - If one went to work in the field, he would take off his outer cloak and lay it at the side of the field. Jesus is saying that the charge to flee to the mountains is so urgent, that the worker should not even return to the edge of the field to retrieve his cloak, but should flee the field in order to save his life! That is how near and great is the danger!

Gundry - As hasty a getaway as possible is needed, even if it means leaping from roof to roof to avoid clogged streets, even if it means leaving a supposed necessity such as a cloak. (Ibid)

This warning reminds me of Jesus' words "Remember Lot's wife." (Lk 17:32) In that day to be strongly attached to material things will cost one their life. So just as Lot's wife could not resist turning around to see what was happening to her home, and lost everything (Ge 19:26), so too it will be with Jews who refuse to heed Jesus' warning to flee. A cloak would be nice to have on a cold night, but it would better to retain one's life. Jesus is saying in essence "Chose life!"

Must not turn back (1994)(epistrepho from epí = motion toward + strepho = twist, turn quite around or reverse) means to revert, to turn about, to turn around, to turn toward, to return and figuratively to convert. Jesus uses the aorist imperative which is a command that conveys a sense of urgency. Do this now! Don't delay! Just do it! Yes, cloaks are valuable, even essential to some degree for normal life, and yet as valuable as the cloak was, it was to be forsaken in lieu of flight for one's life!

Cloak (2440)(himation) describes a garment of any sort, but especially an outer garment and in the plural (ta himatia) for clothes in general. In contrast the Greek word chitin refers to the garment worn under the outer cloak. The himation was something thrown over the inner tunic (chitin) and in secular Greek was sometimes used for the Roman toga. The outer garments were often laid aside (Mt. 21:7, 8; Acts 7:58; 22:20; Ex. 22:26, 27: 1Sa 21:9; Is. 3:6, 7). The smell of garments deceived Isaac into believing it was Esau rather than Jacob (the deceiver) (Ge 27:27) Himation is used figuratively of the "clothing" of the created heavens (Ps 102:26, Heb 1:11-12). Joseph's loose outer garment saved him from the clutches of Potiphar's wife (Ge 39:12-13) but ironically were the evidence to substantiate her false accusation (Ge 39:18). The prophet Joel says "rend your heart and not your garments." Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, And relenting of evil." (Joel 2:13)

Jesus used himation figuratively to describe the minority of believers at "Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy." (Rev 3:4,5, cp Rev 3:18) which resulted in their future state of being "clothed in white garments." (Rev 3:5). See Sketches of Jewish Social Life by Edersheim (go to paragraph "eighteen garments.") Jesus clothing "clothing became white and gleaming." (Lk 9:29) Jesus used himation to illustrate the inferior aspect of the righteousness offered by the law compared to the righteousness He would make available - "no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results." (Mt 9:16, 17, Mk 2:21, 22, Lk 5:36, 37). The woman was healed from her 12 years of hemorrhage when she (by faith) simply "touched the fringe of His (Jesus') cloak." (Mt 9:20, 21, cp Mt 14:36, Mk 5:27-30, 6:56, cp Lk 8:44) When Jesus was transfigured "His garments became as white as light." (Mt 17:2, Mk 9:3) On "Palm Sunday" as Jesus made his last entrance into Jerusalem riding on a coat covered with coats (Mt 21:7, Lk 19:35) "the crowd spread their coats in the road." (Mt 21:7, Mk 11:8, Lk 19:36). The high priest "tore his robes" as he accused Jesus of blasphemy! (Mt 26:65, cp Acts 14:14, 16:22) "when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots." (Mt 27:35, Mk 15:24, Jn 19:24)

Paul used himation in a figure of speech "when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." (Acts 18:6) The final uses of himation in Scripture describe our Redeemer "clothed with a robe dipped in blood' "And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev 19:13, 16).

Zodhiates adds that "The himation seems to have been a large piece of woolen cloth nearly square, which was wrapped around the body or fastened about the shoulders, and served also to wrap oneself in at night (Ex 22:26, 27); hence it might not be taken by a creditor, though the tunic could be (cf. Mt 5:40; Lu 6:29 [see Matt. 9:20, 21, 14:36; John 19:2; Acts 12:8])." (Word Study NT)

Himation Usage in NAS: cloak(8), cloaks(1), clothes(1), clothing(2), coat(4), coats(8), dresses(1), garment(8), garments(18), outer garments(2), robe(4), robes(4).

Himation - 60x in 58v -

Matt 5:40; 9:16, 20f; 14:36; 17:2; 21:7f; 24:18; 26:65; 27:31, 35; Mark 2:21; 5:27f, 30; 6:56; 9:3; 10:50; 11:7f; 13:16; 15:20, 24; Luke 5:36; 6:29; 7:25; 8:27, 44; 19:35f; 22:36; 23:34; John 13:4, 12; 19:2, 5, 23f; Acts 7:58; 9:39; 12:8; 14:14; 16:22; 18:6; 22:20, 23; Heb 1:11-12; Jas 5:2; 1 Pet 3:3; Rev 3:4f, 18; 4:4; 16:15; 19:13, 16

Himation is used about 285 times in the Septuagint -

Gen 9:23; 27:27; 28:20; 37:29, 34; 38:14, 19; 39:12f, 15f, 18; 44:13; Ex 12:34; 19:10, 14; 22:9, 26f; Lev 6:27; 10:6; 11:25, 28, 32, 40; 13:6, 34, 45, 47, 49, 51ff, 55ff; 14:8f, 47, 55; 15:5ff, 10f, 13, 17, 21f, 27; 16:4, 26, 28; 17:15f; 19:19; 21:10; Num 4:6ff, 11ff; 8:7, 21; 14:6; 15:38; 19:7f, 10, 19, 21; 20:28; 31:24; Deut 8:4; 10:18; 21:13; 22:3, 17; 24:13, 17; 29:5; Josh 7:6; 9:5, 13; Jdg 8:25f; 11:35; 14:12f, 19; 17:10; 1 Sam 4:12; 19:13, 24; 21:9; 28:8; 2 Sam 1:2, 11; 3:31; 12:20; 13:31; 14:2, 30; 19:24; 20:12; 1 Kgs 1:1; 11:29f; 12:24; 21:16; 2 Kgs 2:12; 4:39; 5:7f, 26; 6:30; 7:15; 9:13; 11:14; 18:37; 19:1; 22:11, 19; 25:29; 2 Chr 34:19, 27; Ezra 9:3, 5; Neh 4:23; 9:21; Esther 4:1, 17; 5:1; Job 1:20; 13:28; 24:7; Ps 22:18; 45:8; 102:26; 104:2, 6; 109:18f; Prov 6:27; 25:20; 27:13; 30:4; Eccl 9:8; Song 4:10f; Isa 3:6f; 4:1; 9:5; 14:19; 33:1; 37:1; 50:9; 51:6, 8; 59:6, 17; 61:10; 63:1f; Jer 36:24; 41:5; 43:12; 49:29; Ezek 16:16; 42:14; Hos 2:5, 9; Joel 2:13; Amos 2:8; Hag 2:12; Zech 3:3, 4, 5

Matthew 24:19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days: ouai de tais en gastri echousais (PAPFDP) kai tais thelazousais (PAPFPD) en ekeinais tais hemerais:

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  • Dt 28:53-56 2Sa 4:4 2Ki 15:16 La 4:3,4,10 Ho 13:16 Mk 13:17,18 Lk 21:23 Lk 23:29,30
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

WOE TO MOTHERS:
PREGNANT OR NURSING

Just as it was difficult for pregnant and nursing mothers to flee in the days of the sign of the Roman Armies surrounding the Holy City in 70 AD (see Lk 21:20-note, Lk 21:23-note, cp Lk 23:29), so too it will be difficult to flee when they see the distinctive sign of the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Temple in the future.

While this will be a time when one should not have children, it is not as if they can anticipate when this the abomination can occur. But is that really true? Can one know that the time of the abomination of desolation is about to take place? If one interprets the "eschatological numbers" (see below) literally, then it is possible that one could have insight that the revelation of the Antichrist committing the abomination of desolation would soon occur. How can one say that? What "eschatological numbers" would help? Daniel 9:27 says the Antichrist "will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (7 years), but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering." So clearly when the Antichrist makes a seven year covenant with the nation of Israel, one can begin a countdown of 3.5 years (42 months, 1260 days) until the time when he breaks the covenant and his true devilish character and agenda are fully revealed to the Jews and to the world. Notice that putting a "stop to sacrifice and grain offering" in the (rebuilt) Temple definitely parallels with the abomination of desolation in the holy place (the rebuilt Temple). If the holy place is defiled and made desolate it is very unlikely that sacrifice and grain offering will continue in the Temple. In fact Jesus says when that day comes, it is time to flee!

Woe (alas) (3759)(ouai pronounced "oo-ah'ee," an eerie, ominous foreboding sound some say is like the cry of an eagle) is an onomatopoeic word (an imitation of the sound) which serves as an interjection expressing a cry of intense distress, displeasure or horror. It may convey a warning of impending disaster to the hearers. Most NT uses of ouai are in the context of warning about inevitable, impending judgment. Jesus used "Woe" frequently in the Gospels often in an eschatological context (Mt 24:19; Mk 13:17).

Why "woe" to them? Clearly it will be more difficult for pregnant women and nursing mothers to flee the coming wrath of the Antichrist (Rev 12:6-note) energized by the great wrath of Satan who is thrown down (Rev 12:9, 12, 14-note) at the midpoint of Daniel's Seventieth Week, which is also the beginning of the Great Tribulation, that last terrible 3.5 years which is "inaugurated" by the Antichrist (and/or his image - Rev 13:15-note) committing the abomination that makes the holy place (the rebuilt Jewish Temple) desolate (Mt 24:15-note, 2Th 2:4-note).

J Vernon McGee who I respect as an expositor makes a statement that is not as Scripturally sound as most of his comments - "It is believed that there will be a great population explosion at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. The fact that this earth is becoming overweighted with people in our day may be another evidence that we are approaching the end of the age." His statement in bold is not supported by Scripture and is somewhat speculative.

Matthew 24:20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath: proseuchesthe (2PPMM) de hina me genetai (3SAMS) e phuge humin cheimnos mede sabbat:

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NET Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.

ESV Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.

NIV Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.

NLT And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath.

PRAYERFULLY NOT IN 
WINTER OR A SABBATH

But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath - Jesus is calling for continual prayer that the time of the abomination would not restrict quick exit from Jerusalem. 

Hiebert - If the flight would come in the winter, during the rainy season, the rains and swollen streams would definitely add to the danger, and they would be unable to glean food from the countryside as they fled. Plummer comments, "Here prayer for temporal advantages is clearly sanctioned." (The Gospel of Mark- An Expositional Commentary)

Pray (4336)(proseuchomai from pros = toward, facing, before [emphasizing the direct approach of the one who prays in seeking God's face] + euchomai = originally to speak out, utter aloud, express a wish, then to pray or to vow. Greek technical term for invoking a deity) in the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one's prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim.

Why not winter? Robert Gundry says that is "when heavy rains in Judea would make flight into the mountains difficult or impossible because of flooded roads and ravines." (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation, Hendrickson Publishers)

That (hina) is used to introduce clauses that show a purpose or goal. So the idea is pray "in order that" or "so that" your flight will not be in the winter…

On a Sabbath - Clearly the mention of this Jewish day of worship indicates Jesus is addressing primarily Jews and not Gentiles in the Olivet Discourse. And specifically Jesus is alluding to the original command by Moses in Ex 16:29 - "See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."

Wiersbe observes that "This entire paragraph relates only to Jews, for no Christian believer would worry about breaking a Sabbath law. This event ushers in "the Great Tribulation." (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Gundry says "not on… a Sabbath" for"that is when services to travelers would be suspended and traveling when others aren't traveling would expose you to capture (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation, Hendrickson Publishers)

Acts 1:12 describes "a Sabbath day's journey" - The Mount of Olives was about one half mile from the city of Jerusalem, located just east and separated by the Kidron Valley. According to rabbinic limitation, a Sabbath day's journey was one thousand larger paces, equal to about 7.5 furlongs ~ 1,650 yards which was "about 2,000 cubits ~ a little more than 0.5 mile (almost one km). This was the "legal distance" the rabbis allowed Jews to journey on the Sabbath. This limitation was apparently arrived at on the basis of Ex 16:29 interpreted by Nu 35:5." (Ryrie Study Bible)

Jesus' knew that Orthodox Jews were legalistic and thus limited in how far they could travel on a Sabbath day. If the abomination occurred on a Sabbath, they might be loathe to leave (flee)! They might be more inclined to keep the law rather then to save their life! Thus Jesus calls them to pray in essence that the abomination of desolation would not occur on a Sabbath.

H Porter describes Sabbath day's Journey - (sabbatou hodos): Used only in Acts 1:12, where it designates the distance from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, to which Jesus led His disciples on the day of His ascension. The expression comes from rabbinical usage to indicate the distance a Jew might travel on the Sabbath without transgressing the Law, the command against working on that day being interpreted as including travel (see Exodus 16:27-30). The limit set by the rabbis to the Sabbath day's journey was 2,000 cubits from one's house or domicile, which was derived from the statement found in Joshua 3:4 that this was the distance between the ark and the people on their march, this being assumed to be the distance between the tents of the people and the tabernacle during the sojourn in the wilderness. Hence, it must have been allowable to travel thus far to attend the worship of the tabernacle. We do not know when this assumption in regard to the Sabbath day's journey was made, but it seems to have been in force in the time of Christ. The distance of the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem is stated in Josephus (Ant., XX, viii, 6) to have been five stadia or furlongs and in BJ, V, ii, 3, six stadia, the discrepancy being explained by supposing a different point of departure. This would make the distance of the Sabbath day's journey from 1,000 to 1,200 yards, the first agreeing very closely with the 2,000 cubits. The rabbis, however, invented a way of increasing this distance without technically infringing the Law, by depositing some food at the 2,000-cubit limit, before the Sabbath, and declaring that spot a temporary domicile. They might then proceed 2,000 cubits from this point without transgressing the Law.

And in some cases even this intricacy of preparation was unnecessary. If, for instance, the approach of the Sabbath found one on his journey, the traveler might select some tree or some stone wall at a distance of 2,000 paces and mentally declare this to be his residence for the Sabbath, in which case he was permitted to go the 2,000 paces to the selected tree or wall and also 2,000 paces beyond, but in such a case he must do the work thoroughly and must say: "Let my Sabbath residence be at the trunk of that tree," for if he merely said: "Let my Sabbath residence be under that tree," this would not be sufficient, because the, expression would be too general and indefinite (Tractate `Erubhin 4:7).

Other schemes for extending the distance have been devised, such as regarding the quarter of the town in which one dwells, or the whole town itself, as the domicile, thus allowing one to proceed from any part of the town to a point 2,000 cubits beyond its utmost limits. This was most probably the case with walled towns, at least, and boundary stones have been found in the vicinity of Gaza with inscriptions supposed to mark these limits. The 2,000-cubit limits around the Levitical cities (Numbers 35:5) may have suggested the limit of the Sabbath day's journey also. The term came to be used as a designation of distance which must have been more or less definite. (ISBE Sabbath Day's Journey) (See also Sabbath Days Journey - Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature)

Matthew 24:21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. (NAS 95): estai (3SFMI) gar tote thlipsis megale oia ou gegonen (3SRAI) ap arche kosmou eos tou nun oud ou me genetai (3SAMS):

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KJV For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

NET For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen.

ESV For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

NIV For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-- and never to be equaled again.

NLT For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again.

YLT for there shall be then great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world till now, no, nor may be.

ASV for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be.

  • Ps 69:22-28 Isa 65:12-16 Isa 66:15,16 Da 9:26 Da 12:1 Joel 1:2 2:2 Zec 11:8,9 14:2,3 Mal 4:1 Mk 13:9 Luke 19:43,44 Lk 21:24 1Th 2:16 Heb 10:26-29
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE GREAT TRIBULATION:
WITHOUT PARALLEL IN HUMAN HISTORY!

For (gar) is a term of explanation which begs the question, what is Jesus explaining? He has just instructed the reader who understands the sign of the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place to flee, and even to pray this would not have to be in winter or on a Sabbath. So now He explains why this call to flee carries such a sense of extreme urgency. The tribulation that is coming will be great and there will be loss of life (Mt 24:22).

For then - At that time.

Then (5119)(tote) is an adverb that functions as an expression of time. Tote means at that time or a point of time subsequent to another point of time. In prophetic passages, then often describes the sequence of events. So what occurs next? Or to ask it another way, to what time does Jesus refer? What will be the event that precedes inception of the great tribulation? Clearly in context the event the reader (cp "let the reader understand" - Mt 24:15) is to be alert for is the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place (Mt 24:15). Then begins the great tribulation, the time of the greatest suffering and affliction the world has ever experienced.

Will be (estai) is first in the Greek sentence for emphasis.

Great tribulation - This exact phrase occurs only 3x - Mt 24:21, Rev 2:22, and Rev 7:14. In Rev 7:14 the Greek literally reads "the tribulation, the great one." As an aside, many commentators refer to the entire 7 year period (of Daniel's Seventieth Week) as the "Tribulation." However, strictly speaking there is no passage in the Bible that ever specifically refers to this Seven Year period as the Tribulation. However this term is so "ingrained" in the literature that we will use it to refer to the seven year period, realizing that it is more accurately designated as Daniel's Seventieth Week.

The last 3.5 years of this present age will be days of great (megas) thlipsis or "dire pressure and continuing distress, caused by outward circumstances." (Hiebert)

Tribulation (2347)(thlipsis from thlibo = to crush, press together, squash, hem in, compress, squeeze in turn derived from thláo = to break) originally expressed sheer, physical pressure on someone. Thlipsis is a strong term which does not refer to minor inconveniences, but to real hardships. Medically thlipsis was used of the pulse (pressure). Thlipsis describes a pressing together as when grapes are crushed beneath a weight. According to the ancient law of England, those who willfully refused to plead guilty, had heavy weights placed on their breasts, and were pressed and crushed to death, a gruesome picture of a literal thlipsis.

Thlipsis thus refers to great difficulty and Jesus adds the adjective megale meaning great to emphasize the greatness of the tribulation.

Many commentators attempt to explain Mt 24:21 as fulfilled in 70AD by appealing to Luke 21:23-note which says "there will be great distress upon the land." Luke's passage (Lk 21:20-24) clearly was fulfilled in 70AD with the destruction of Jerusalem. However, not only is Jesus' word for distress in Luke 21:23 different (anagke) than the Greek word in Mt 24:21, but Jesus' description of the distress is different than the description in Matthew and Mark. Both Mt 24:21 and Mk 13:19 use the Greek word (tribulation = thlipsis) and both describe a time of tribulation which will be unique and unprecedented, explaining that there has never been anything like it before and there will never be anything like it afterward. As reasoned elsewhere, the Holocaust makes 70AD pale in comparison, which in turn makes the thought of the yet to come great tribulation even more horrific! It follows that Jesus' description of tribulation in Mt 24:21 and Mk 13:19 is clearly a major stumbling block for writers who interpret the abomination of desolation (Mt 24:15, Mk 13:14) as the Roman Army and the great tribulation as a unique and unprecedented time of distress.

In addition, it is notable that in the Septuagint, the Greek word anagke (Lk 21:23-note) is used to describe the Day of the LORD (cf Zeph 1:15), but is never used to describe a unique, unprecedented time of distress in Israel. Of course one might argue that the "Day of the LORD" would include the time of the great tribulation, and I would agree. The point is that in the Septuagint the Greek word thlipsis is used in Da 12:1-note in a description very similar to Jesus' description in Mk 13:19 and Mt 24:21. And so the prophet Daniel describes "a time of distress (Lxx = thlipsis) such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time." In sum, thlipsis is clearly used in both the Old and New Testaments to describe a unique, unprecedented time of tribulation in the nation of Israel.

Henry Morris - Although the entire seven year period will be a time of immense suffering on the earth, the great tribulation will be the final 3.5 years, initiated by the placing of the "abomination of desolation" (Matthew 24:15). This is all described in detail in the book of Revelation, especially Revelation 11:1-19:21.

THE WORST IS
YET TO COME!

Such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world - To what does beginning of the world refer? God's creation of the heaven and earth not a "big bang!" (cp Heb 11:3-note, Heb 1:2-note, Col 1:16-note = "by Him" = Jesus). What would tribulation such has never occurred include? It would include such cataclysmic events as the world wide flood in Noah's day and the total destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and brimstone! Jesus says the coming tribulation is so great, that it would surpass even those dramatic divine judgments. Indeed, the great tribulation will be a manifestation of God's righteous wrath.

John MacArthur writes that "the massacres of Jews by the Romans in A.D. 70 and by the Nazis during the World War II will pale by comparison. Two out of every three Jews in the Holy Land will die under the fury of Satan as he enacts the judgment of God on the rebels of the Jewish nation. Many Christians will also be slaughtered, not as an act of God's judgment but in acts of ungodly persecution." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Not - Jesus uses the negative particle (ou) which is the strongest way of expressing negation.

Occurred - The verb occurred is in the perfect tense which speaks of the abiding nature of this time of the great tribulation. It will occur for 3.5 years, 1260 days, 42 months or time, times and half a time and no longer because of Mt 24:22.

Zodhiates - The contrast that follows is between this and every other tribulation. This will be the severest. (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew- Dr. Spiros Zodhiates - 2006)

Hiebert adds "The perfect tense (of has not occurred) pictures its unparalleled intensity as an abiding fact. Neither shall be emphatically assures that there never will be another like it. Those who restrict the reference to A.D. 70 must confine this tribulation to that siege, but Taylor well observes, "This assertion is much too emphatic for a siege; it is clear that the thought of Mk 13:19 (Ed: And Mt 25:21) is eschatological." (The Gospel of Mark- An Expositional Commentary)

Weber says "So the disciples might not underestimate the horror of this Great Tribulation, Jesus explained that it would be the worst suffering in all of history—unequaled from the beginning of the world until now (Mt 24:21). He added further emphasis, saying that this Tribulation would have the potential of destroying all life, leading some modern students to think of nuclear war. But whatever the means necessary to bring about such unparalleled destruction, it is evident that such a Great Tribulation is still future to us. So there is much more in mind here than the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. As bad as it was, that destruction has been multiplied in intensity on a number of occasions in the twentieth century alone.....The world has yet to see the great distress which will never be observed again." (Holman New Testament Commentary)

John MacArthur - God's message for Israel is that things are going to get immeasurably worse before they become better. That nation and its people will suffer treachery, desecration of the rebuilt Temple, indescribable persecution, and brutal slaughter that will be totally unparalleled in history. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Ray Stedman - Many have found these words hard to believe. They clearly refer to an hour unlike anything else in history. Till recent times it had been thought incredible that humanity could ever sink to such an ebb as to bring on a judgment of this character. But we must always remember that political leaders only express ideas which have been lying half hidden in human hearts, waiting only for the precise moment to emerge. Hitler did not teach the Nazis to hate the Jews; he only dared express in voluble terms the hatred and smoldering resentment of thousands of Germans who were scarcely aware of the terrible passions hidden in their own hearts. When this man of lawlessness takes his position in the temple of God he will only be expressing what long has lain dormant in human hearts. (When the Dam Breaks - Matthew 24:21-22)

The popular preacher David Platt (Exalting Jesus in Matthew) interprets Matthew 24:15-22 as fulfilled in 70AD and sees this as the "great tribulation" but such teaching fails to adhere strictly to the plain reading of Jesus' words that clearly depict a unique and unprecedented time of distress for the Jews in the great tribulation. Platt does correctly state that Daniel 12:1-note refers to a time like that described by Jesus in Mt 24:21, but he fails to interpret the prophecy in Daniel in context (of the events in Da 11:36-45-note which describe the rise and rule of the Antichrist in the last 3.5 years, the Great Tribulation), for reading the context leaves no doubt whatsoever that Daniel 12:1 ("a time of distress [Lxx uses thlipsis, the same word Jesus used for "tribulation" in Mt 24:21!] such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time") refers to the fate of the Jews in the end times, the last 3.5 years (cf the "Woman's" [aka Israel's] fate during the very specific time of 1260 days [corresponding to the "time, times, and half a time" in which the Little Horn {aka The Antichrist} wears down the saints [the Jews] as discussed in Da 7:25-note] of the Great Tribulation in Rev 12:6-note, Rev 12:14-note). And similarly the "great tribulation" is a yet future time of distress. Platt makes the mistake that most "preteristic" interpreters make of failing to take Jesus' words at face value (i.e., literally!). If one does so, it is clear that, as horrible as the events of 70AD were, they simply cannot compare to the future time of the great tribulation which is coming on the nation of Israel when 2/3's of the worlds Jews will be slaughtered (cp 1/3 of world's Jewish population were slaughtered by Hitler! See prophetic description of this great slaughter of Jews that will occur during the Great Tribulation = Zech 13:8-9)

William Hendricksen who interprets Mt 24:15 as having a double fulfillment, both historically in 70AD and in the end times, writes that the Roman destruction and desolation in 70AD "foreshadowed the great and final violation by the Antichrist of all that is sacred." That is all Hendricksen says. He makes no mention whatsoever of Daniel 9:27 but instead mentions Da 12:11. On Matthew 24:21 Hendricksen gives an honest appraisal writing that "It should hardly be necessary to add that justice is not done to the concept of this tribulation, which immediately precedes "the end" of the world's history and which surpasses any other distress in its intensity, if it is referred solely to the sorrows experienced during the fall of Jerusalem." (Bolding mine) While I so not agree with his "double fulfillment" interpretation, at least he interprets Matthew 24:21 honestly and without distorting the plain meaning of Jesus' words, unlike all five of the top rated commentaries on Matthew (see below for Commenting on some of the Matthew Commentaries)

ESV Study Bible on the great tribulation - "The time of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was horrible, but the vision Jesus paints will have an even more horrific fulfillment in the future." (Bolding added)   (ESV Study Bible BORROW)

Notice that Jesus' description makes it crystal clear that there can be ONLY ONE great tribulation, because there is nothing worse before it or after it! Daniel 12:1-note gave a similar description of "a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time." Daniel's description could not be a description of 70AD for the Jewish Holocaust in WWII surpassed the Jewish massacre in 70AD. While in fairness one could say the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD was a foreshadowing or harbinger of a more horrible future event, it was definitely not the great tribulation according to Jesus' "definition."

Beginning (746)(arche) refers to the commencement of something as an action, process, or state of being. Here arche refers to first in relation to time (priority in time, the beginning of anything, the origin and by far the most common use in the NT)

World (2889)(kosmos related to the verb kosmeo = to adorn, to put in order) means something that is well-arranged, that which has order or something arranged harmoniously. Kosmos refers to an ordered system or a system where order prevails. In this passage Jesus is referring to planet earth.

Nor ever will - This is the world's worst suffering and nothing after it will be worse. This qualifying statement of the degree of tribulation is the truth that presents one of the greatest stumbling blocks for those who try to ascribe all of Mt 24:15-22 to a past, historical fulfillment in 70AD. Notice that if one reads the words of Jesus in a normal manner and does not try to "read anything into" them, it is clear that this great tribulation in no way can be explained by the events of 70AD in which upwards to 1.1 million Jews were killed by the Roman soldiers. That horrible event was a tragic foreshadowing of the fact that the worst is yet to come!

Recall that Jesus had commanded the reader to consult the prophecy of Daniel to help understand His prophecy in Mt 24:15. In the obedience to His command, let's take a look at Daniel 12, where we find a statement that clearly parallels Jesus' warning in Mt 24:21 about the unprecedented nature of the coming great tribulation. Daniel records

Now at that time (What time? time in Da 11:36-45-note) Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress (Hebrew = tsarah; Lxx = thlipsis same noun as Mt 24:21!) such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people (the Jews), everyone (the believing Jewish remnant) who is found written in the book (probably the Book of Life), will be rescued (Lxx = sozo the same verb Paul uses in Ro 11:26-note to describe the end times salvation of believing Jews at Messiah's Second Coming)." (Da 12:1-note)

Comment: The parallel between Daniel 12:1-note and Matthew 24:21 is clear. Daniel and Jesus are describing the same horrible end time event of unprecedented distress and tribulation which will befall the nation of Israel! This time will make the holocaust seem "small" by comparison! Notice also that in the following passage Mt 24:22 Jesus says that this horrible time will be cut short "for the sake of the elect." Who are the elect? In the context of Matthew 24 which was addressed to His Jewish disciples, Jesus probably has the Jewish elect in mind. However, there is no question that He also includes Gentile elect for we know from Revelation that there will be too many to count "from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues" (Rev 7:9-note), who are those that "come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Rev 7:14-note).

Not occurred...nor ever (Literal = "not from the beginning of the world till now, no, nor may be) is a very unusual phrase with three negatives (oude ou me)! Jesus is making it very clear that the great tribulation He is predicting will never, absolutely ever occur again in the history of the world! This fact alone would be strong support against the commonly held view that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was the "great tribulation." The Jews have experienced far worse tribulation under Adolph Hitler than they did under the Roman general Titus! This fact alone should make anyone who adheres to Mt 24:15-21 as a historically fulfilled event pause and take an honest, non-biased reappraisal of their interpretation!

John Phillips on great tribulation - God's people have always been persecuted in this sin-cursed world, but we must not confuse ordinary persecutions with the great tribulation. It will be a special period of three and a half years (1,260 days) during which Satan will be allowed to do his worst against God's people in particular and mankind in general. It will be a time when God will pour out His wrath on this planet, and the Jewish people will finally be brought to the end of their Christ-rejecting self-reliance and pride.

Walvoord - The great tribulation, accordingly, is a specific period of time beginning with the abomination of desolation and closing with the second coming of Christ, in the light of Daniel's prophecies and confirmed by reference to forty-two months. In Revelation 11:2 and Rev 13:5, the great tribulation is a specific three-and-a-half-year period leading up to the second coming and should not be confused with a general time of trouble, such as was predicted earlier in Matthew 24:4-14. (Matthew 24 The Signs of the End of the Age)

Spiros Zodhiates writes - Though dreadful and unique, the Tribulation will be under God's full control. Satan and his demons are sometimes called world rulers (from kosmokrator; see Eph 6:12), but God is the ruler of all, the pantokrator (the almighty, the ruler of all heaven and earth, the universe (2Cor. 6:18; Rev. 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22). Because Satan's time will be short (Rev 12:7-14), he will no doubt command his malevolent ranks to carry out their evil plans efficiently. But Revelation 17:14 assures us who will be victorious: "These [the forces of evil including the Antichrist] shall make war with the Lamb [arnion a living lamb], and the Lamb shall overcome (nikao) them" (see also Rev. 5:6, 8, 12, 13; 6:1, 16; 7:9, 10, 14, 17; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1, 4, 10; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7, 9; 21:9, 14, 22, 23, 27; 22:1, 3). (Ibid)

ESV Study Bible correctly states "that the reference is not to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, since the unprecedented destruction described in Matt. 24:21 did not take place in 70."  (ESV Study Bible BORROW)

Tony Garland on the Great Tribulation -

  • Unique time in history
  • This time is said by Jesus to involve greater tribulation and danger than any other period in history past -- or yet to come!
  • He states that if the time had not had a determined end -- if it were to be allowed to run its natural course, then perhaps there would be nobody left alive.
  • Although this could be speaking in terms of a Jewish perspective (which is a theme in the OT), it seems to broaden here to include all living persons.
  • Includes A Time of Jewish Tribulation

Numerous passages in the OT indicate there is coming a time of intense tribulation for the Jewish nation.....this is the means by which God will chastise Israel for the rejection of her Messiah and her continued unwillingness to recognize Jesus in His rightful role. (The following passages describe this same time period of Great Tribulation - Jeremiah 30:6-9, Daniel 12:1, Ezekiel 20:33-38, Zechariah 13:7-9) A theme of great judgment resulting in eventual delivery. (This is not what happened in 70 A.D.!) This is the means by which God will bring unbelieving Israel to faith in Messiah Jesus. Romans 11:25-27 (Matthew 24 Commentary Notes)

J C Ryle (1816-1900) holds that the primary fulfillment of Mt 24:15 was in 70AD, but sees a yet future fulfillment - "But we must not suppose that this part of our Lord's prophecy is exhausted by the first taking of Jerusalem. It is more than probable that our Lord's words have a further and deeper application still. It is more than probable that they apply to a second siege of Jerusalem, which is yet to take place, when Israel has returned to their own land (Ed: Note that Ryle died 48 years before this prediction became reality in May, 1948)--and to a second tribulation on the inhabitants thereof, which shall only be stopped by the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such a view of this passage may sound startling to some. But those who doubt its correctness would do well to study the last chapter of the prophet Zechariah (Zech 14:1-21), and the last chapter of Daniel (Da 12:1-13). These two chapters contain solemn things. They throw great light on the verses we are now reading, and their connection with the verses which immediately follow." (Ref) Comment: While I appreciate Ryle's vision to see a future regathering of the nation of Israel to their land and also his interpretation of a yet to come great tribulation, Ryle is technically incorrect in saying 70AD constituted a first great tribulation. By Jesus' definition there can be only one, unique, unprecedented great tribulation.)

Adam Clarke (who is typical of most pre-1900 commentaries) interpreted the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD as the greatest of the tribulation Israel would ever experience writing "These were the days in which all the calamities predicted by Moses, Joel, Daniel, and other prophets, as well as those predicted by our Savior, met in one common center, and were fulfilled in the most terrible manner on that generation." Clarke alludes to Daniel who described the coming great tribulation this way "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued." (Da 12:1) As alluded to above, those writers who interpret the great tribulation of Mt 24:21 as fulfilled in 70AD did not live to witness the horrible Holocaust of World War II in which more than 6 million Jews were brutally tortured and kill by the Nazi war criminals!

R C H Lenski (1943) wrote of the great tribulation - "No judgment had ever and can ever be so severe. In the history of the world no judgment can be compared with this that wiped out the Jews as a nation." One wonders if he would have written this sentence had he known of the horrors of the holocaust that had not yet come to light when he published his commentary?

Related Resource:

COMMENTING ON SOME
OF THE MATTHEW COMMENTARIES AND 
THE ONCE IN A LIFETIME GREAT TRIBULATION

Clearly the fact that the unique, unprecedented time of the Great Tribulation begins the appearance of the sign of the abomination of desolation creates a major problem for anyone who says Mt 24:15 was fulfilled in 70AD. They will be forced to somehow explain or rationalize Jesus' words regarding the unique "one time" nature of this period of tribulation. That said, below are some excerpts of the "highest rated" commentaries on Matthew reviewing how they handle this problem.

(1) D A Carson - Author of the Matthew section in Expositor's Bible Commentary is Tim Challies' first choice of Commentaries on Matthew, the second choice of Ligonier [R C Sproul's] Ministry and the only Matthew commentary recommended by Desiring God, John Piper's website.

Let's look at how Dr Carson explains Mt 24:21 as a description of the Roman slaughter of Jews in 70AD. Dr Carson writes that

"The savagery, slaughter, disease, and famine (mothers eating their own children) were monstrous (cf. Jos. War V, 424-38), "unequaled from the beginning of the world until now," and, according to Jesus, "never to be equaled again."

Comment: The italics are Dr. Carson's quotes from Josephus #443, but Josephus was not an eyewitness to the savagery, slaughter, disease and famine of Auschwitz and other Jewish concentration camps during World War II! Would Josephus really say the atrocities of 70 AD were "never to be equaled again" if he had seen the piles of naked dead Jewish bodies in the Nazi death camps? This question of course is conjectural on my part, but let the reader at least consider Josephus' reaction had he been able to see the horrors of the Holocaust!

Dr Carson goes on to acknowledge that

"There have been greater numbers of deaths—six million in the Nazi death camps, mostly Jews, and an estimated twenty million under Stalin—but never so high a percentage of a great city's population so thoroughly and painfully exterminated and enslaved as during the Fall of Jerusalem."

Comment: I beg to differ with Dr Carson's last statement, having read books on the horrors of WWII and watched many documentaries on the Jewish Holocaust at the hands of the demonically inspired Nazis. First, Jesus made an absolute and absolutely dogmatic statement in Matthew 24:21 (e.g., refer to His unusual use of three negatives discussed above). If one simply reads what Jesus said, not adding to or taking away from the text (cf warning in Pr 30:6), it is clear that He definitely did not specify a percentage of Jews exterminated. Second, I would propose that the percentage of Jewish deaths not to mention the horrible torture and starvation in "death camps" like Auschwitz far surpassed that of the Jewish deaths in Jerusalem (remember many writers feel that Josephus' 1.1 million is an over exaggeration)! How can anyone say that Jerusalem in 70AD was more "thoroughly and painfully exterminated" than the Jews at Auschwitz (if you believe this statement, you might click to refresh your memory concerning the horrors of the death camps!) And while Josephus was a witness to the events in 70AD, you might want to hear the testimony of a U S Infantryman who witnessed two Nazi death camps and tells his gripping story - Auschwitz - World War II. Consider also the Wikipedia note that in 1945 when "the Red Army arrived at the camp on January 27 they found around 7,500 prisoners and about 600 corpses had been left behind. Among the items found by the Soviet soldiers were 370,000 men's suits, 837,000 women's garments {Ed: That percentage, which of course is an approximation, calculates to about 99.4% exterminated! I think you can see the point!}, and 7.7 tonnes (8.5 short tons) of human hair!" (Wikipedia) Beloved, as horrible as were the horrors in World War II, Jesus says in so many words that the worst is yet to come!

(2) Leon Morris (Pillar New Testament Commentary- also a top rated commentary by Challies and Ligonier) also interprets Mt 24:15-21 as fulfilled in 70 AD. However, at least Dr Morris agrees that Mt 24:21

"is underlined with the information that it will be of a magnitude unparalleled in the entire history of the world; such trouble has never been, nor will it be equaled thereafter. (There is an unusual piling up of negatives—oud ou me—that makes for a very emphatic negation.)" (Bolding added for emphasis)

Ed Comment: Notice that while Dr Morris acknowledges the problem Jesus' description presents in Matthew 24:21, at least he makes no attempt to explain it away.

(3) Craig Keener (The Gospel of Matthew- A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary - fifth in Challies' top 5, and third in Ligonier's list) who interprets Mt 24:15-22 as fulfilled in 70AD explains Mt 24:21-22 this way -  (Here is a link to his IVP Commentary on Matthew)

"Daniel spoke of the end-time tribulation greater than any that had preceded it (Da 12:1-note); other Jewish writers also spoke of eschatological tribulations (1QM 15.1; 2 Bar 25:3-4). By indicating that no tribulation before or after this one would rival it, Mark may allow and Matthew may suggest (Ed comment: Notice that Keener is clearly speculating) that the tribulation on which they focus is a tribulation within history, not necessarily the final one (cf. Jos. War 1.12, making the same claim for A.D. 66-73), although the language may simply follow an emphatic formula (Ed comment: Notice Keener's verbal gymnastics in an attempt to get around Jesus' plain statement of a unique time of unprecedented tribulation). The memory of Jerusalem's destruction in A.D. 70 seared itself indelibly in early Judaism's memory as the most horrible of times (cf., e.g., Sib. Or. 5.397-413; Pesiq. R. 1:5; 28:1), although the revolt in Egypt of 115-17 (cf. CPJ 2:225-60, §§435-50)—followed by the virtual obliteration of Egyptian Jewry—and the revolt under Hadrian in 132-35 ultimately proved no less devastating (see above). (Ed comment: So what is Keener's point? It is interesting he makes no mention of the Holocaust!) Archaeology has provided some samples of the final moments of horror endured by those within Jerusalem during its fall (especially the burnt house; see Avigad 1980: 120-39; idem 1983a) (Ed comment: The horrid photographs of naked Jewish bodies piled up by the Nazis like garbage far surpasses any archaeological artifact!)

Ed Comment: Keener has a lengthy discussion, but does not really explain how 70AD could be considered the greatest tribulation of all time.

(4) R T France (The Gospel of Matthew-NICNT - third in Challies' top 5, and third in Ligonier's list) ) who interprets Mt 24:15-22 as fulfilled in 70AD weakly tries to skirt the plain meaning of Jesus' words in Mt 24:21 with this comment -

"Josephus' lurid description of the horrors of the siege (War 5.424-438, 512-518, 567-572; 6.193-213) shows that, while v. 21 uses the hyperbolic language of apocalyptic (cf. Dan 12:1; Joel 2:2; 1QM 1:11-12; Test. Mos. 8:1; Rev 16:18), it is an assessment which would have been agreed by those involved in the events."

Ed comment: Jesus' declaration was plain and not hyperbole. He literally meant what he said! Furthermore, France alludes to Daniel 12:1-note which is not "hyperbolic language" but a clear prophecy of a horrible time of testing coming to the nation of Israel! To deny or ignore that is twisting what the text clearly states! And recall that to accurately interpret Daniel 12:1, the reader needs to go back to Daniel 10 where this particular vision began, for this same vision is continued in Daniel 11 and finally comes to its consummation in Daniel 12.

(5) Craig Blomberg (BORROW Matthew - New American Commentary - Ranked number four in Tim Challies' top 5, and in the "Runners Up" after the top five in the Ligonier's list) favors a 70AD fulfillment, but thankfully he does seem to at least entertain the possibility that Jesus' warning in Mt 24:15-20 refers to a yet future event:

"Undoubtedly, much that surrounded the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish war in A.D. 70 will be repeated, probably on a larger scale, just prior to Christ's return (Ed comment: This begs the question what does Blomberg think "will be repeated?" Does he think an abomination of desolation standing in the holy place will be repeated? He does not elaborate). But given the thoroughly Jewish nature of all of the details of Mt 24:15-20, their close correspondence to the actual events of the mid-first century, and the more explicit wording of Luke 21:20-24 (Ed comment: As noted in the Luke 21:20-24 Commentary all commentaries that interpret Mt 24:15ff as fulfilled in 70AD reference Luke's passage, but I would submit Luke describes a different sign and has multiple other differences compared to Matthew 24!), there is no reason to take any of Matthew's text here as looking beyond the events that culminated in the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. (Ed comment: I strongly disagree. There is one reason and that is that the abomination of desolation that Daniel described in Daniel 9:27 has not taken place!)

Blomberg also encounters difficulty when he tries to explain the Great Tribulation of Mt 24:21 - He writes -

"Another "then" (tote) appears. It does not seem to mean later but at that time or beginning immediately (Ed comment: Which begs the question "At what time?" If we examine the context Jesus clearly tells us the "time" - "When [a time word] you see the abomination of desolation..." = that's the beginning of the end!) —the NIV does not even break for a paragraph. But the concept of a period of unparalleled distress (based on Da 12:1) causes problems (Ed comment: Why does it cause problems? It causes problems because a 70AD fulfillment simply cannot explain Mt 24:21, nor does it explain Daniel 12:1!). If these two verses simply depict the horrors surrounding the war of A.D. 70, it is hard to see how Mt 24:21 could be true (Ed comment: I am thankful for this honest comment. Indeed it is "hard to see" because the events of 70AD simply do not fulfill the description of Jesus in Mt 24:21!) If they point to some end-time sacrilege, just before the Parousia, then it is hard to see how Matthew allows for a gap of at least two thousand years between Mt 24:20-21 (Ed comment: To reiterate, it is NOT "hard" at all to see, if one simply takes at face value the flow of Jesus' visible starting signal in Mt 24:15 to His words of warning in Mt 24:16-20 and His clear explanation of why it so imperative that the Jews flee in Mt 24:21.) It is probably best, therefore, to understand this period of great distress, or "the great tribulation," as it is more commonly known, as the entire period beginning with the devastation of A.D. 70 and continuing on until Christ's return (cf. "immediately" in Mt 24:29)

Ed comment: Blomberg is saying the last 2000 years have been a great tribulation and nothing was like it before and nothing will ever again be like it. This simply makes no sense but it does demonstrate the lengths to which non-literal interpreters must go to try to make the "pieces fit!" It is also interesting that Blomberg calls attention to the time phrase "immediately" because if one reads Mt 24:15-21 literally the Great Tribulation is in fact followed "immediately" by Jesus' return and that in fact is how "those days shall be cut short!" Mt 24:22).

(6) Philip Schaff (1819-1893) (Matthew 24 Commentary - Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament) - Schaff interprets Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70AD but recognizes the problem with this genre of interpretation in Mt 24:21-22 writing

"This seems to indicate that nothing analogous will occur again. But Matthew 24:22 is so closely connected with this verse, that a double reference is probable even in Matthew 24:15-21, which were most strikingly fulfilled in the first century. The final application would be to a sudden catastrophe before the coming of our Lord, which His people will be enabled to avoid, by recognizing the appearance of the signs He has given. Still these verses, of themselves, shed little light as yet on the subject of the last days."

Comment: Do you see Schaff's dilemma? While he believes in the historical fulfillment of Mt 24:15-22, he is forced by a plain reading of the text to invoke the possibility of a future fulfillment! While I certainly have questions about the interpretation of some of the passages in Matthew 24:4-14, there is very little doubt regarding the sign Jesus gives in Matthew 24:15-22! (See comments on Mt 24:15) In fact Schaff admits that "The final application would be to a sudden catastrophe before the coming of our Lord, which His people will be enabled to avoid, by recognizing the appearance of the signs He has given." This is an amazing statement! Schaff's comments on one hand see only a past historical fulfillment and yet here he implies that Jesus has indeed given signs that will be useful to His people in the future! However, the only way they will be useful is if one interprets them literally and accurately!

(7) Grant Osborne on "the great tribulation" -

As Hagner (Word Biblical Commentary) notes, this must be either (1) hyperbolic language for the fall of Jerusalem (see Josephus, J.W. 5.10.1; 5.11.3-4; 5.12.3 for the terrible suffering in that siege); (2) prediction of the events at the end of the age; or (3) the destruction of Jerusalem as a foreshadowing of the final events of history. As we have argued throughout this section, the third is the most likely. Nolland also admits that the language here, while befitting the horrible nature of the Roman slaughter of the Jewish people, has a "heightening" that portrays an "eschatological horizon" that goes beyond the Jewish War. (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament).

Comment: Osborne recognizes the problem in attempting to explain the "great tribulation" as having been fulfilled at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and so he says it is a foreshadowing and a fulfillment. While there is some truth in that interpretation, let's be perfectly clear -- The events of 70AD were NOT the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy. There is a difference between fulfillment and foreshadowing. Fulfillment means the completion of something, whereas foreshadowing is a warning of what is to come in the future. So yes, in that sense the loss of the lives of 1 million Jews in 70AD might be considered a foreshadowing of the great tribulation that will occur at the end of this age, but the same could be said of the World War II holocaust in which 6 million Jews lost their lives. And just as the Nazi holocaust in the 1940's was not a fulfillment of Mt 24:15-21, neither was the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. In sum, the great tribulation predicts a future time of distress that will far surpass both of these horrible historical events. Zechariah 13:8-9 prophesies that in this future time of tribulation 2/3's of Jews will die and 1/3 will survive. As of 2016 the Jewish population of the world is 16 million. Therefore, if the "great tribulation" were to occur in our day over 10 million Jews would lose their lives! Jesus' words warn of the worst time to come!

SYNONYMS FOR
GREAT TRIBULATION

There are several terms that describe a time that is very compatible with that seen in the Great Tribulation. Based on a literal reading of Daniel 9:27-note, the abomination of desolation will appear in the midpoint of a seven year covenant. The "he" of Da 9:27 is the Antichrist who will take his place in the Temple, declaring himself as being God (2Th 2:3-note, 2Th 2:4-note). In addition the False Prophet of Revelation 13:14-15-note will make an Image of the Beast (The Beast = the Antichrist) and while it is never clearly stated, it is highly likely that this image will be standing the holy place, the Temple (Mt 24:15-note). These dramatic events will be visible to the entire world and for those who have spiritual eyes to see (cf Jn 12:40, Lk 8:10, read especially 2Th 2:8, 9-10, 11-12) and spiritual ears to hear (Rev 2:7, 11, 3:6, 13, 22), they will recognize that his is Jesus' sign inaugurating the Great Tribulation, the unspeakably horrible last half of Daniel's Seventieth Week. The Great Tribulation will lasts 3.5 years (see Parallel time phrases - 3.5 years, "Time, times, half a time", 42 mo, 1260 days). Although the time is not that long, the divine judgment is that great and so the time of the Great Tribulation is so important in God's prophetic timetable that it is described in multiple passages under several synonyms.

SYNONYMS FOR
GREAT TRIBULATION
SCRIPTURE DESCRIPTION
Matthew 24:21 Great Tribulation
Deuteronomy 4:29, 30+ When you are in distress
(ESV = tribulation)
Daniel 11:36+ Indignation
Daniel 12:1+ Time of great distress
(ESV = time of trouble)
Isaiah 26:20 Indignation
(ESV = fury)
Jeremiah 30:7+ The Time of Jacob's distress
Revelation 7:14+ The Great Tribulation

QUESTION - What is the Great Tribulation?

ANSWER - The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan: 1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2) He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 - 18). The length of the Tribulation is seven years. This is determined by an understanding of the seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27; also see the article on the Tribulation). The Great Tribulation is the last half of the Tribulation period, three and one-half years in length. It is distinguished from the Tribulation period because the Beast, or Antichrist, will be revealed, and the wrath of God will greatly intensify during this time. Thus, it is important at this point to emphasize that the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are not synonymous terms. Within eschatology (the study of future things), the Tribulation refers to the full seven-year period while the “Great Tribulation” refers to the second half of the Tribulation.

It is Christ Himself who used the phrase "Great Tribulation" with reference to the last half of the Tribulation. In Matthew 24:21, Jesus says, "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall." In this verse Jesus is referring to the event of Matthew 24:15, which describes the revealing of the abomination of desolation, the man also known as the Antichrist. Also, Jesus in Matthew 24:29-30 states, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . 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." In this passage, Jesus defines the Great Tribulation (v.21) as beginning with the revealing of the abomination of desolation (v.15) and ending with Christ’s second coming (v.30).

Other passages that refer to the Great Tribulation are Daniel 12:1b, which says, "And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time." It seems that Jesus was quoting this verse when He spoke the words recorded in Matthew 24:21. Also referring to the Great Tribulation is Jeremiah 30:7, "Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it." The phrase “Jacob’s distress” refers to the nation of Israel, which will experience persecution and natural disasters such as have never before been seen.

Considering the information Christ gave us in Matthew 24:15-30, it is easy to conclude that the beginning of the Great Tribulation has much to do with the abomination of desolation, an action of the Antichrist. In Daniel 9:26-27, we find that this man will make a "covenant" (a peace pact) with the world for seven years (one “week”; again, see the article on the Tribulation). Halfway through the seven-year period—"in the middle of the week"—we are told this man will break the covenant he made, stopping sacrifice and grain offering, which specifically refers to his actions in the rebuilt temple of the future. Revelation 13:1-10 gives even more detail concerning the Beast’s actions, and just as important, it also verifies the length of time he will be in power. Revelation 13:5 says he will be in power for 42 months, which is three and one-half years, the length of the Great Tribulation.

Revelation offers us the most information about the Great Tribulation. From Revelation 13 when the Beast is revealed until Christ returns in Revelation 19, we are given a picture of God’s wrath on the earth because of unbelief and rebellion (Revelation 16-18). It is also a picture of how God disciplines and at the same time protects His people Israel (Revelation 14:1-5) until He keeps His promise to Israel by establishing an earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6). GotQuestions.org

Related Resource:

Matthew 24:22 "Unless 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: kai ei me ekolobothesan (3PAPI) ai hemerai ekeinai ouk an esothe (3SAPI) pasa sarx dia de tous eklektous kolobothesontai (3PFPI) ai` hemerai ekeinai:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

NET And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

ESV And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

NIV If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

NLT In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God's chosen ones.

  • Unless: Mk 13:20
  • for the sake of: Isa 6:13 65:8,9 Zec 13:8, 14:2 Ro 9:11 11:25-31 2Ti 2:10
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

DAYS OF UNPARALLELED
AND ALL CONSUMING FEROCITY

Those days - What days? From the immediate context (Mt 24:21, cf also same phrase "those days" in Mt 24:19) the answer clearly is the days of the time of the Great Tribulation, the last 3.5 years (1260 days = 42 months = time, times, half a time) preceding the end of this present age which will be brought to an end ("cut short") by the Second Coming ushering in the Messianic Age, the age of righteousness (aka, the Millennium). Those days will be days of three and one-half years of unprecedented oppression on Israel (as well as all believers alive at that time) as described in multiple passages in both testaments (see Da 7:21, 25 [saints in context = Jews]; Rev. 11:2, Rev 12:6, 14; Rev 13:5, Rev 13:15)

Greek expert Dr Spiros Zodhiates writes "The contextual referent of "those days" is the Great Tribulation." (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew- Dr. Spiros Zodhiates - 2006)

R T France attempts to explain Jesus' statement as compatible with a 70AD fulfillment writing "The horror was in fact "cut short" by the Roman capture of the city after five months, bringing physical relief to those who had survived the famine in the city." (NICNT) As an aside it seems that most "preteristic" interpreters are forced to appeal to non-inspired, secular historical writings to buttress their interpretations rather than relying the fully inspired Scriptures to comment on Scripture. (See related resource: Compare Scripture with Scripture)

However even the ESV Study Bible observes that "It is evident that the reference is not to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, since the unprecedented destruction described in Mt 24:21 did not take place in 70." (Bolding mine)  (ESV Study Bible BORROW)

ARE "THOSE DAYS" REALLY
"THOSE DAYS" OF MATTHEW 24:15-21?

As has been discussed in Mt 24:15-note, those who hold to a 70AD fulfillment of Mt 24:15-22 have a number of "problematic passages" to deal with, whereas a futuristic interpretation encounters far fewer problems. Some "preteristic" commentators (like D A Carson) recognize there are significant problems with their historical interpretation and thus try to say that "those days" in Mt 24:22 does not really refer to "those days" Jesus had just described in the immediate context! Beloved, if you begin to jettison the golden rule that "Context Is King" in interpretation, rest assured that your interpretation will likely be askew if not even absurd! What is fascinating is that Carson does recognize that no life in Mt 24:22 "normally refers to all mankind and is more sweeping than "no one in Jerusalem." I totally agree, and indeed that truth actually supports a "sweeping" end times, eschatological tribulation and not a fulfillment in 70AD! In addition note that the literal Greek of Mt 24:22 begins with "kai" (English = "and") which the NAS does not translate, but the ESV and NET versions do. The point is that "and" is a copulative which clearly links the narrative in Mt 24:22 with Jesus' words in Mt 24:21. These two verses are clearly related (coupled) despite what some "preteristic" commentators contend! Notice also that in context Jesus has just used the same phrase "those days" in Mt 24:19 which serves to link "those days" in Mt 24:22 with the days of the Great Tribulation. Finally, keep the overall context of this section in mind -- Jesus has just described days of unprecedented tribulation, but in Mt 24:22 comforts and encourages those who will find themselves in those days with the mercy filled truth that "those days" will be "cut short." Any other interpretation clearly distorts and twists the text out of its proper context! (See related resource: Keep Context King if you want rightly Interpret the Word of Truth - 2Ti 2:15-note).

Unless those days had been cut short - On one hand this description serves to emphasis the unparalleled, unprecedented "consuming ferocity" of the Great Tribulation! On the other hand this description emphasizes the sovereign control of Jehovah God over ALL the affairs of this world. In His great mercy, He has decreed the Great Tribulation will last only 3.5 years (1260 days) and not one day more! There is no "if" about the shortening of these days; they shall be shortened.

"Cut short" does not mean the Great Tribulation will be less than 3.5 years, but only that it will be abruptly terminated by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul describes the cutting short of those days of the horrible 42 month rule of the Antichrist (Rev 13:5)

And then that lawless one (Antichrist) will be revealed (apokalupto = When? Answer = Mt 24:15 and 2Thes 2:3, 4) whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end (cp "cut short") by the appearance (epiphaneia) of His Coming (parousia) (2Thes 2:8)

Zodhiates on those days...cut short - The time would be longer if God were not merciful, but since He is, He will shorten the period in which the Antichrist expends his fury. (Ibid)

Hiebert comments that this "strong figurative statement (Ed: referring to the fact that koloboo can mean "amputated") indicates that God has forcefully acted not to permit them to be extended to the full length that human passions would have carried them." (The Gospel of Mark- An Expositional Commentary)

Cut short ("amputated," "mutilated") (2856)(koloboo from from kolobós = maimed, cut off) means strictly speaking to cause something not to be full length and so to cut short, to curtail, to abridge, to mutilate, to amputate (Lxx - 2Sa 4:12 "cut off their hands and feet"). Figuratively as used in all 4 NT passages koloboo refers to a reducing in number or extent. Our English word halt, in the sense of lame, is related to it, since it refers to a person whose walking ability has been cut short or curtailed.

Notice Jesus' use of the aorist tense which here speaks of a future event as it were a past completed action (Proleptic). In other words, God has decreed in the past that the yet future Great Tribulation will be cut short.

The adjective kolobos meaning maimed or mutilated is used in secular Greek in the description of a donkey (Moulton-Milligan).

Moulton and Milligan also record an unusual use of koloboo - "The epithet ho kolobodaktulos; the stump-fingered,"; (which was) applied to Mark (writer of Gospel) (Hippolytus Philos. vii. 30), has been traced to a desire on the part of the philosophers to ridicule the shortness of his Gospel, but is more probably due to some natural defect of the evangelist himself."

Marvin Vincent on koloboo - A very picturesque word. The verb is, literally, to dock, to cut off, leaving a stump, as a limb. Wycliffe, abridged. As a fact, various causes did combine to shorten the siege. Herod Agrippa was stopped in his work of strengthening the walls by orders from the emperor; the Jews, absorbed in their party strifes, had totally neglected preparations to stand a siege; the magazines of corn and provisions were burnt before the arrival of Titus. Titus arrived suddenly, and the Jews voluntarily abandoned parts of the fortification. Titus himself confessed that God was against the Jews, since otherwise neither his armies nor his engines would have availed against their defences.

TDNT on use of koloboo in Mark - God has cut short the time of affliction, i.e., made it less than the oppressors purpose, so that the elect may be preserved from physical destruction (as indicated by the "all flesh" of Mk. 13:20, the physical nature of the sufferings, and the presence of the elect at the parousia, Mk. 13:27).

Other than Mt 24:22 the only use is twice in Mark 13:20 "And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days."

ESV Study Bible (BORROW) - Some suggest this means that, if God's wrath were to continue unchecked against the wickedness of humanity, no one would survive the eventual destruction. Others see in this a reference to a cutting short of either the seventieth "seven" (week) of Da 9:27 or the 42 months of Rev. 11:2. (Ed comment: The 42 months of Rev 11:2-note are the last 3.5 years, the time of the great tribulation, corresponding to the Antichrist breaking the seven year covenant with Israel in the middle of the seven years as described in of Da 9:27-see notes) It is evident that the reference is not to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, since the unprecedented destruction described in Mt 24:21 did not take place in 70.

Hendriksen likewise recognizes the problem of interpreting 70AD as the time of fulfillment of the great tribulation - It should hardly be necessary to add that justice is not done to the concept of this tribulation, which immediately precedes "the end" of the world's history and which surpasses any other distress in its intensity, if it is referred solely to the sorrows experienced during the fall of Jerusalem.

PHYSICAL PRESERVATION
PREDICTED FOR THE ELECT

No life - The Greek word for "no" means absolutely none! Life is the Greek word sarx which can be translated "flesh" here speaking not of the "fallen flesh" (sin nature inherent in every human), but of the physical flesh of our body.

Weber - Jesus said as much when he indicated that those days would necessarily be cut short, implying divine intervention (24:22). Christ will intervene to prevent complete genocide and the wholesale destruction of the human race. But even in judgment, the Lord will display mercy, particularly for the sake of the elect (plural of eklektos, "select, chosen ones"). These are those who have placed faith in him and followed him as his disciples. (Holman New Testament Commentary)

Would be saved (4982)(sozo) has the basic meaning of rescuing one from great peril and that is the sense in this context. Jesus is not speaking so much of spiritual salvation as He is of physical preservation of one's life. Mt 24:13-note refers to spiritual salvation.

But (de) is a term of contrast which always calls for the reader to ask "What is being contrasted?" Most of the time the answer is easy as it is in this case. This simple exercise will give force you to slow down, to examine the context and ultimately to allow the Spirit a chance to speak to your innermost being. Too often we are trying to just "get through" our morning reading to satisfy our "quota" for the day. God is not nearly as interested in us "speed reading" His Word out of a sense of obligation as He is in us being still and acknowledging that He is God and He is good. (cp Ps 46:10).

Those days will be cut short - This is a promise the believers in the Great Tribulation will find to be very precious and comforting. They will know that "this too will pass!"

For the sake of - Is this not a manifestation of the great love and mercy of God that not all might have to die! All of mankind deserves hell, but in His kindness God bestows the gift of heaven to those who believe in His Son.

John Phillips has an interesting note on for the sake of the elect - This is another of those statements in Scripture that show how much the careless and unbelieving world owes to the presence of God's people in its midst. (Exploring the Gospel of Matthew)

The elect speaks of believers and in context specifically speaks of Jewish believers. Of course, this passage is clearly applicable to Gentile believers who come to faith in the Great Tribulation. The fact that there will be Jewish and Gentile believers alive when Jesus this time is "cut short" provides a population on earth who will then enter into the Millennium. If all the elect were killed, there would be no elect to populate the Messianic Kingdom. Jesus expands on this idea in Mt 25:31-45 where the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats determines which of those who are alive after the Great Tribulation will enter into His Kingdom, which will initially be populated only of true believers.

Zechariah speaks of the Jewish elect who will be saved out of the Great Tribulation -

“In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. ....8"And it will come about in all the land," Declares the LORD, "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. "And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" (This is the language of the New Covenant into which 1/3 of the Jews will enter by grace through faith = Jer 31:31-34-note) (Zechariah 13:1-note; Zechariah 13:8-9-note)

Comment: The Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD with killing of up to a million or more Jews was a foreshadowing (BUT NOT A FULFILLMENT) of the refining fires of Zechariah 13:8-9 (cf Da 12:10 “Many [JEWS = the 1/3] will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked [JEWS - the 2/3's] will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand [DO YOU HAVE INSIGHT TO UNDERSTAND OR HAVE YOU BOUGHT INTO THE LIE OF replacement theology aka supersessionism?]."), but there is absolutely no record that 1/3 of the Jews were born again at that time! In the holocaust of WWII there was a foreshadowing (BUT NOT A FULFILLMENT) of this final, ultimate "holocaust" (Great Tribulation) for at that time one-third of the Jews in the world were killed (6 million). In the final time of testing on the Jews two-thirds of the world's population of Jews will be killed. At that time one-third will be saved, the remnant that Paul referred to when he said "All Israel will be saved." (Ro 11:26-27-note). Clearly, Paul is referring to "all" of the one-third described by Zechariah 13:8-9.

Elect (chosen) (1588)(eklektos from verb eklego which in middle voice [eklegomai] means select or pick out for one's self which is derived from ek =out + lego =call) means literally the "called out ones" or "chosen out ones". The idea of eklektos is the ones who have been chosen for one's self, selected out of a larger number. In regard to election as related to salvation, Wuest comments that "This election does not imply the rejection of the rest (those not chosen out), but is the outcome of the love of God lavished upon those chosen-out." (Wuest)

If you wrestle with election and free will notice the juxtaposition of these two doctrines in Paul's last letter...

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel (NOTICE NOW HOW PAUL DESCRIBES THE "WORKING OUT" OF HIS GOSPEL), 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God (~"THE GOSPEL") is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason (SINCE THE GOSPEL IS THE POWER OF SALVATION Ro 1:16) I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen (PAUL'S ENDURANCE FOR THE ELECT SHOWS , so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.  (2 Timothy 2:8-10)

Henry Morris writes that "The Scriptures, in a very natural way, combine the doctrines of divine election and human responsibility, apparently not concerned with the problem this would later seem to pose to generations of theologians. Paul was willing to suffer countless difficulties and persecutions so that the elect might hear, believe and receive the salvation for which they already had been chosen by God before the world began. The apparent paradox is only resolved in terms of the infinite mind and ability of the Creator. We may not be able to understand how both can be true, just as we cannot see both sides of a coin at the same time. However, both sides are real and both doctrines are true. We can believe and rejoice in both truths, even though we don't yet comprehend how each supports the other."

The doctrine of election is mysterious and we will never fully comprehend it on this side of glory (cp 1Cor 13:11-12). However, Paul shows us how we are to live in the face of this doctrine (and not let it be divisive!) - "For this reason (referring to the "Gospel unchained" in 2Ti 2:9) I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen (the elect), that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory." (2Ti 2:10-note) Paul did not know who the elect were, but he nevertheless endured for their sake and so too must we. We see a similar pattern in First Thessalonians where Paul reminds the believers at Thessalonica of God's "choice (ekloge) of you." (1Thes 1:4-note) Then he explains how their election was effected, explaining "our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (1Thes 1:5-note)

As W A Criswell says "The word "for" introduces a clause that explains the way in which election works. However one understands this mysterious doctrine, the text makes clear its intimate relationship to the Gospel of Christ, the preached word, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit." (Believer's Study Bible Notes)

Related Resources:

Matthew 24:23 "Then if anyone says to you, ' Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him: tote ean tis humin eipe (3SAAS) Idou (2PSAMM) ode o Christos e ode me pisteusete (2PPAAS - functions as an aorist imperative) :

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

Holman - For there will appear false Messiahs and false prophets performing great miracles- amazing things!- so as to fool even the chosen, if possible.

  • Dt 13:1-3 Mk 13:21 Lu 17:23,24 21:8 John 5:43
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

JESUS WARNS OF DECEIVERS
IN THE LAST DAYS

Then (5119)(tote) is an adverb that functions as an expression of time. Tote means at that time or a point of time subsequent to another point of time. Tote is used with when (hote) and translated "when...then." (Mt 9:15, 13:26, 21:1, Mt 25:31, Lk 5:35, 14:10, 21:20, John 7:10, 8:28, 11:6, 12:15 Acts 13:12 [inverted order], Acts 28:1, 1Cor 15:28, 54, 2Cor 12:10, Col 3:4). Tote also functions as a marker = "at that time." (Mt 2:17) Finally, tote is used in narration to introduce what follows in time (Mt 2:7). Matthew has 89/158 NT uses (about 57%) of tote with the next most frequent book being Acts with 21 uses.

In sum, the idea of tote as signifying "at that time" begs the question "What time?" Let's go to the context for the answer. Jesus is continuing chronologically from the previous section (Mt 24:21-note and Mt 24:22-note) and so strictly speaking these warnings apply most directly to the time of the Great Tribulation (the last 3.5 years of Daniel's Seventieth Week). This is a time when one would naturally look for relief which might draw some to the false messiahs. The Messiah is indeed coming but not until the end (Mt 24:30-note, Rev 19:11-16-note). In sum, these warnings are directly applicable to those who are alive at the time the Antichrist desolates the rebuilt Jewish Temple and inaugurates the last 3.5 year Great Tribulation.

Zodhiates - The terror caused by the Antichrist during the second half of Daniel's seventieth week will be so great that the only hope will be Christ's direct intervention. The word "then" here, as we find in Matthew 24:9, 10, 16, 21, does not refer to an instant of time but to a period. Here the antecedent is "those days" (Mt 24:22) which in turn points back to "great tribulation" (Mt 24:21). (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew- Dr. Spiros Zodhiates - 2006)

Hiebert says "then links this warning with the scene of extreme suffering just depicted. If any man, whosoever it may be, states the situation conditionally but implies that its fulfillment can be expected. To you marks that these messages will be directly aimed at the believers in Christ." (The Gospel of Mark- An Expositional Commentary)

If anyone - The pronoun anyone (tis) which Greek expert Zodhiates says is "the masculine or feminine enclitic indefinite pronoun, anyone-false prophet of either sex."

Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou calls attention to the extraordinary (cp Mt 3:16). Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" Idou is used by the Biblical writers to (1) prompt or arouse the reader's attention (introducing something new or unusual), (2) to mark a strong emphasis ("Indeed!" Lk 13:16) and (3) to call the reader to pay close attention (very similar to #1) so that one will listen, remember or consider

Zodhiates adds that idou is a "demonstrative particle. "Lo and behold!", serving to call attention to something external or exterior to oneself; usually used at the beginning of a clause or only with kai (and), before it, but sometimes in the mid. of a clause before words which are to be particularly noted (Mt 23:34; Lk 13:16; Acts 2:7). (The Complete Word Study Dictionary- New Testament)

The Christ - Note the used of the definitive particle "the" (ho) which indicates they are making the claim that they are the one and only true Messiah, the one who has been anointed. (See Messiah and also the Messiah - the Anointed One).

Stuart Weber on those who claim to be Christ in the time of the Great Tribulation - People will be desperate for a Savior while in the midst of the greatest tribulation earth will ever know. Jesus now gave his disciples some guidelines for discerning when he was likely to return. Just as Jesus' disciples must have trembled at the fearful images of the Great Tribulation, so their hearts thrilled as he described the glory of his coming. (Holman New Testament Commentary)

Christ (5547)(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) means one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task. The majority of the NT uses refer to Jesus (exceptions = "false Christs" - Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22). Christos is translated in the NAS 1995 edition as Christ (516x), Christ's (11x) and Messiah (4x - Mt 1:1, 16, 17, 2:4). The NIV and ESV never translate Christos as Messiah, but always as Christ. The Holman Christian Standard Bible has an interesting approach and translates Christos as Messiah many times depending on the context (see explanatory note) The NLT paraphrase translates Christos as Messiah over 80 times. The NET translates Christos as Messiah in Jn 4:29, Acts 3:20, Eph 2:12.

Do not believe - Although this is in the aorist subjunctive, in context it functions as an imperative or command. Most of the time believers are commanded to believe but here is one of the exceptions where they are told not to believe! Indeed believers are to reject all claims of Messiahs said to be hidden here or there, for as Jesus explains in Mt 24:27 the coming of the true Messiah will be like lightning -- unmistakable!

Believe (4100)(pisteuo from pistis; pistos; see related studies the faith and the obedience of faith) means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one's trust, accepting it as genuine or real. Notice the next verse begins with "for" (gar) which explains why Jesus issues the warning to not believe their claims to Messiahship -- they will perform great signs and wonders, which one might think could only be performed by the Messiah. In the Gospel of John Jesus tells us how we might be enabled to discern truth from error - "If any man is willing to do (present tense - as one's lifestyle) His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself." (Jn 7:17) In this coming day of deception, believers walking by the Spirit of Truth will be enabled by Him to discern truth from error. (cf Gal 5:16-note, 1Jn 2:20-note, 1Jn 2:27-note).

Zodhiates points out that "The entire paragraph warns believers against single events of deception: first, by the use of the indefinite pronoun tis, anyone, and secondly by the presence of three verbs in the aorist tense: "says... behold... believe." (Ibid)

Matthew 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect: egerthesontai (3PPFPI) gar pseudo christoi kai pseudoprophetai kai dosousin (3PPFPI) semeia megala kai terata hoste planesai (AAN) eis dunaton kai tous eklektous:

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  • False Christs - Mt 24:5,11 2Pe 2:1-3 3:17
  • Will: Dt 13:1 2Th 2:9-11 Rev 13:13,14 19:20
  • so as: John 6:37,39 10:28-30 Ro 8:28-39 2Ti 2:19 1Pe 1:5 1Jn 5:18 Rev 12:9-11 13:7,8,14
  • If possible - Mk 13:22 Ac 20:16 Ro 12:18 Ga 4:15
  • Matthew 24 Resources

FALSE CHRISTS AND
FALSE PROPHETS

Jesus has already warned of similar impostors throughout the age that precedes His return and they will unfortunately be very effective for they will mislead not a few but many!

(Mt 24:5+) "For many will come in My name (Ed: But not in His authority or power), saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many.

(Mt 24:11+) "And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.

For (gar) - Terms of explanation should always prompt a question to the good inductive Bible student. In this case - What is Jesus explaining? He is explaining why He is issuing the warning to pay attention and not believe "Christ sightings!" Alertness will be necessary because these imposters will buttress their claims with evidences that they possess supernatural power.

And keep in mind the context -- these pretenders are arising in a time of the global Great Tribulation, a time when men's hearts would be fainting from fear and unanswered questions ("What in the world is happening?" cp Lk 21:25-26) There is a natural tendency in such fearful times to seek answers from pretenders who seem so spiritually in touch with the supernatural world. But these men are not to be followed or believed (see also Mt 24:25-26).

False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect - These men "would provide great signs (semeion) and miracles that people will take as validation of their authenticity as God's Christ or prophet (cf. the Jewish leaders' demand of a sign from Jesus in Mt 12:38; 16:1; see also Jesus' description of miracle-working imposters in Mt 7:21-23)." (Stuart Weber - Holman New Testament Commentary)

False Christs (5580) (pseudochristos from pseudes = false, untrue, pretentious, lying + Christos from chrio = to anoint = one who has been anointed, appointed to a task) are those ho falsely claim to be the Messiah or as BDAG says a "bogus Messiah."(Only 2 uses - Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22)

John warned that "every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." (1Jn 4:3-4+)

Warren Wiersbe - World conditions will be so terrible that men will wonder if any relief will come, and this will give false christs opportunities to deceive many. Satan is capable of performing "lying wonders" (2 Thes. 2:9-12; Rev. 13:13-14). The fact that a religious leader performs miracles is no assurance that he has come from God. Many Jews will be deceived, for "the Jews require a sign" (1 Cor. 1:22). Jesus performed true signs in His Father's name, and the nation rejected Him (John 12:37ff). Satan's miracles they will accept. (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

ESV Study Bible note on false prophets - False prophets are people who claim to speak for God but are actually speaking by demonic influence (1Jn 4:3-4). In today's age of "tolerance," discriminating discernment can be viewed as being judgmental (cf. "Judge not," Mt 7:1-note). Yet Jesus also taught, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24)....(In note on Mt 7:15-20-note) Maintaining the earlier balance of not judging (Mt 7:1-5+) yet not being naively accepting (Mt 7:6), Jesus teaches his disciples that they must be wisely discerning when professed prophets come into their midst. The life of the prophet and the results of his influence on others are the fruits that will indicate whether or not his message is consistent with the kingdom life of righteousness. ( ESV Study Bible BORROW) (Bolding, italics and notes added)

John Walvoord - While false Christs and false prophets have always been in evidence, they will be especially prominent at the end of the age in Satan's final attempt to turn people from faith in Christ (Ed: Cf "Knowing that he has only a short time." = Rev 12:12-note = Last 3.5 years = Rev 12:6-note and Rev 12:14+). (Matthew 24 The Signs of the End of the Age)

False prophets (note plural speaks of more than one - like a den of vipers) will offer the lie that they speak as a spokesman of God with a message from Him.

False prophets (5578)(pseudoprophetes from pseudes = false, untrue, pretentious, lying + prophetes = prophet from pro = before or ahead of time + phemi = to speak, affirm) who teach any other way than that our Lord has clearly marked out. These men (1) claim to be prophets from God and (2) utter falsehoods under the name of divine prophecies.

Moses defined a prophet -

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Dt 13:1-3)

False prophets are not just wrong but are very dangerous (cf "savage wolves" Acts 20:28, 29, 30-note), and one should not expose their minds (Remember: The battle is not as much physical as it is mental, so the battlefield is our mind and the great divine weapon is His Word and Sword of Truth, Ep 6:17-note, [2Co 6:7, Col 1:5-note, 2Ti 2:15-note, Jas 1:18-note]) to their false message because they inevitably pervert (Acts 20:30-note where "perverse" = to turn or twist the truth throughout and) distort their listener's thinking and poison their souls. False prophets are more deadly than physical wolves and other predators, because they can kill not just the body but the soul.

In the last of the "last days," the end times (Rev 20:10-note). Below is a description of the ultimate False Prophet in the Revelation (from Tony Garland's highly recommended literal interpretation of the Revelation = A Testimony of Jesus Christ)

The False Prophet is the second beast which John sees which comes up out of the earth having two horns like a lamb and who spoke like a dragon (Rev. 13:11-note). His appearance is benign, like that of a lamb, but his prophecies and commands have their source in the devil. This is why Scripture refers to him as the "False Prophet" (Rev. 19:20-note; Rev 20:10-note).

The False Prophet performs great signs and miracles which are used to witness to the Beast from which he derives his power. "He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast" (Rev. 13:12-note). He causes those on the earth to worship the Beast and to make an image to the beast (Rev. 13:14-note). He is even granted power "to give breath to the image of the beast" (Rev. 13:15-note). It appears that the miracles he performs are genuine, but what they attest to is false. It is the False Prophet who causes all men to receive a mark in order to be able to buy or sell (Rev. 13:16-17-note).

Along with the dragon and the Beast, he forms an anti-trinity wherein the dragon occupies a position like that of the Father, the Beast like that of the Son, and the False Prophet like that of the Holy Spirit, but testifies to the false son . All three are the source of demons which gather the kings of the earth to battle (Rev 16:13,14-note). (See Campaign of Armageddon) Both the False Prophet and the Beast are taken at the Second Coming of Christ and cast into the Lake of Fire as its first populace (Rev. 19:20-note). They are still there one thousand years later when joined by the devil (Rev. 20:10-note).

No doubt the False Prophet plays a key role in the deception which Paul described in his letter to the church at Thessalonica:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Th. 2:9-12).

He is an instrument of both the dragon and the Beast, but ultimately of God. See Symbols of Kingdoms See commentary on Revelation 13:11. (A Testimony of Jesus Christ - False Prophet)

Related Resources:

Great signs (semeion) and wonders - Notice that these are not routine signs and wonders (as if that would not be enough to mislead!) but "mega" (Greek = megas) signs and wonders! How great? They are so convincing that they could even mislead believers (if that were possible). Supernatural signs suggest a supernatural source, and in this case the source will be Satan not God. In a number of NT contexts semeion takes on the sense of a miracle because of its unusual nature, especially as that which is contrary to the usual course of nature (e.g., Jn 2:23, Acts 4:16, 22 - And the KJV translates semeion as miracle 23x in John).

Paul describes the deceptive days of the Great Tribulation which will last 3.5 years:

The one (2Th 2:8 - Antichrist) whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan (Satan energizes the Antichrist), with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved (Note the only antidote for Satan's deception is God's truth!). 11 And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, 12 in order that (term of purpose) they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness (Notice they made a choice to reject truth, so in essence God rejects them). (2Thes 2:9-12)

These great signs and wonders are astonishing performances that are striking and have a dramatic effect on those who witness them. Have you ever seen a phenomenal magic trick that is so incredible that the first reaction of the audience is a gasp of utter astonishment and only after the gasp do they applaud?

Wonders (5059)(teras) are similar to signs but appeal to the senses, being recognized as a phenomenon that needs to be explained. Hiebert adds that "Wonders views these signs with reference to the astonishment that they produce; they are startling, amazement-evoking portents." (Ibid)

Teras is derived from the verb tereo which means to keep, watch and thus conveys the idea of something which due to its extraordinary character is apt to be observed and kept in the memory. It is a miracle regarded as startling, imposing or amazing. Teras refers to "something strange", a phenomena which compels one's attention and causes one to "look again" or causes the beholder to marvel. Teras is always in the plural and always translated "wonders."

Wonders (teras) accompanied Moses (Acts 7:36; Sept.: Ex. 7:3; Deut. 6:22; 7:19; Jer. 32:20); Christ (John 4:48); and the apostles and teachers (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 14:3; 15:12; Rom. 15:19; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4).

BDAG says teras is "something that astounds because of transcendent association -- prodigy, portent, omen, wonder in our literature only plural and combined with semeion."

Friberg adds that teras refers to a "wonder, marvel, portent, something so unusual it arouses close observation."

John gives good advice to those who see these amazing signs and wonders - "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1Jn 4:1-note)

The ESV Study Bible note adds "Christian faith is not spiritual gullibility. test the spirits. The unseen spiritual influences that guide people's speech and actions can be "tested" by observing their doctrine and conduct as well as by the gift of spiritual discernment (cf. 1Cor 12:10 = "and to another [is given by the Spirit] the distinguishing of spirits"; 1Cor 14:29 = "let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment."). (Bolding added) ( ESV Study Bible BORROW) 

PURPOSE OF SIGNS AND WONDERS:
TO LEAD ASTRAY

So as to mislead (planao), if possible - This description makes the point that these signs and wonders will have potentially great persuasive power. The "if" is an "if" of supposition, not of reality. In other words "if possible" implies these pretenders will not be able to mislead the elect.

Even the elect - As noted in the other uses of elect in Jesus' Olivet Discourse (Mt 24:22), this term refers first of all to Jewish believers. Clearly however this term (and the warning) is applicable to any Gentile believers during these last 3.5 years (e.g., see Mt 24:31). While a believer might be temporarily misled, it is impossible to continually mislead them to the end of their life. (Cp enduring to the end - Mt 24:13-not).

If possible - It is not possible to continually mislead one who is chosen by God for salvation. In a sense, the converse truth is that those who endure to the end will be saved. (Mt 24:13-note). And remember they are not saved because of their own power or ability to endure, but because the omnipotent Holy Spirit in them continually enables them to endure! Stated another way, those who endure will demonstrate by their endurance that they are genuinely saved.

John Phillips - "The Lord warned His people not to be deceived, not to be lured out of hiding, for His return would be very evident." (Exploring the Gospel of Matthew)

Gundry - If possible, even the selected ones" puts emphasis on the extremity of this danger of deception. (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation)

Possible(1415)(dunatos from dunamai = referring to power one has by virtue of inherent ability and resources; see study of dunamis) means powerful, able, strong. Able describes that which has sufficient or necessary power, means, skill, or resources to accomplish an objective. Praise our Shield and Defender Who ensures that even great signs and wonders will not be able to mislead us!

Elect (1588)(eklektos from verb eklego which in middle voice [eklegomai] means select or pick out for one's self which is derived from ek =out + lego =call) means literally the "called out ones" or "chosen out ones". The idea of eklektos is the ones who have been chosen for one's self, selected out of a larger number. Kenneth Wuest explains that "election does not imply the rejection of the rest (those not chosen out), but is the outcome of the love of God lavished upon those chosen-out." (Word Studies) Webster's Dictionary definition of elect is not bad -- "to pick out; to select from among two or more, that which is preferred...in theology, to designate, choose or select as an object of (divine) mercy or favor".

In the context of Jesus replying to the questions of His Jewish disciples (Mt 24:3-note, Mk 13:3 = "Peter and James and John and Andrew"), many would interpret this a reference primarily to the elect from Israel (aka the believing Jewish remnant), those Jews who have been born again by grace through faith in Yeshua. Of course, this truth would still apply to any and all elect who are alive at this time.

J Vernon McGee on the elect - In the Scriptures there are two elect groups: the elect of the nation Israel and the elect of the church. We have to use common sense to determine which group is meant. Who has our Lord been talking about up to this point? Israel. All right, Israel is the elect in this verse, also. Jesus is not talking about the church. (Thru the Bible commentary)


Day Unknown - To many Londoners, 1666 looked like the year when Jesus would return. Prophecy enthusiasts had added 1,000 years since Christ's birth to 666, the number of Antichrist, to arrive at the date 1666. The world did seem to be on the verge of destruction when in 1665 a plague claimed the lives of 100,000 people in London. Then in September 1666, a London fire destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Some wondered, Didn't the Bible predict catastrophes at the end of the world? (see Mt. 24:1-8). Yet the year 1666 passed, and life went on seemingly as it had before. Even in our own day, there are those who have predicted the end of the world. A date is predicted, the media covers the frenzy, and then that day passes uneventfully.

Matthew 24:25 " Behold, I have told you in advance: idou proeireka (1SRAI) humin:

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  • Isa 44:7,8 46:10,11, 48:5,6 Lu 21:13 Jn 16:1
  • See similar sayings in John 13:19; 14:29; 16:4
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

FOREWARNED SO THAT
YOU ARE FOREARMED

Ryrie - This is a warning as well as a prediction.

MacArthur - The (Jewish) fugitives will have access to Jesus' words recorded here.

Gundy - To be forewarned of the danger is to be forearmed against it. "Behold" emphasizes the forewarning. (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation)

During the dark deceptive days of the coming Great Tribulation the Bible will truly be an essential "survival guide" for the Jews who have eyes to see spiritually. (cp Ps 119:105)

The parallel passage in Mark adds the command "Take heed" and the qualification "everything" (all things) - "But take heed (blepo in the present imperative = command calling for a Spirit enable lifestyle, continually staying spiritually alert); behold, I have told you everything in advance." (Mark 13:23) Hiebert commenting on Mark's passage writes that "all things means all things necessary to keep them from being misled. What He has here said will given them needed guidance. His message will stand as an abiding prophetic reminder."

Regardless of what others say or do during this last 3.5 years of great deception, believers are to obey their Master, always a good "antidote" for the subtle deception of pretenders.

Behold calls on us to pay attention to this forewarning!

Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" Idou is used by the Biblical writers to (1) prompt or arouse the reader's attention (introducing something new or unusual), (2) to mark a strong emphasis ("Indeed!" Lk 13:16) and (3) to call the reader to pay close attention (very similar to #1) so that one will listen, remember or consider

Zodhiates adds that idou is a "demonstrative particle. "Lo and behold!", serving to call attention to something external or exterior to oneself; usually used at the beginning of a clause or only with kai (and), before it, but sometimes in the mid. of a clause before words which are to be particularly noted (Mt 23:34; Lk 13:16; Acts 2:7). (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG)

Hendriksen comments - Lovingly the Master provides for his disciples. When the fiery trial (cp 1Pe 4:12) arrives they must never be able to say, "How strange and unexpected! Why did not the Lord prepare us for this? Why did He not warn us?" Having been forewarned, the disciples (Ed comment: In the first century and until the end of time) will not be unduly disturbed when the prediction is fulfilled. In fact, their faith in Jesus will even be confirmed.

Told in advance (4280)(proereo from pró = before + eréo = to say, declare) means literally to say beforehand, so to speak in advance. Some uses convey a "prophetic" sense of declaring or telling before an event (foretell - Acts 1:16, Ro 9:29, 2Co 13:2). Here we see Jesus' warnings in the context of the Olivet Discourse conveys the sense a foretelling of things to come. The perfect tense speaks of the enduring effect or impact of His words (i.e., the idea is "I told you and this warning stands!")

Matthew 24:26 "So if they say to you, ' Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or,' Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them: ean oun eiposin (3PAAS) humin Idou (AMM) en te eremo estin (3SPAI) me exelthete (2PAAS - functions as an aorist imperative) Idou (AMM) en tois tameiois me pisteusete (2PAAS - functions as an aorist imperative):

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  • desert: Mt 3:1 Isa 40:3 Lu 3:2,3 Ac 21:38
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN
NOT HIDDEN OR SECRETIVE

So (therefore, so then) (oun) is a term of conclusion. What is Jesus concluding? He has just given them a charge to pay attention to the forewarning.

Behold...Behold (2400)(idou) - see Mt 24:25.

He is in the wilderness - compare Mt 11:7-9 where the people went out into the wilderness to see John the Baptist, a true prophet who pointed to the true Messiah.

Wilderness (2048)(eremos) describes a solitary, lonely, desolate (Lxx of streets of Jerusalem = Jer 33:10), uninhabited, abandoned place. Literally of a desert, a deserted place, a lonely region. Of an uncultivated region fit for pasture (Lk 15:4 = open pasture). Eremos describes the place where John the Baptist lived (Lk 1:80) and heard "the word of God" (Lk 3:2) and preached (Mt 3:1), and cried out "in the wilderness" (Mt 3:3, Mk 1:3, Lk 3:4, Jn 1:23). Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt 4:1, Mk 1:12, Lk 4:1 = where He "was led about by the Spirit") Of the lonely place Jesus withdrew early in the morning (Mt 14:14, Lk 4:42, Mk 1:35 - Do you have a "lonely place" to which you retire early in the morning? If Jesus needed one, so do we! Mk 6:31 Do you have a "wilderness" in which to pray? = Lk 5:16, cp Lxx use in Ps 63:1). Jesus speaking to faithless Israel declared "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" (Mt 23:38) Because of popularity Jesus had to stay "out in unpopulated areas." (Mk 1:45, cp Jn 11:54) Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (Jn 3:14), the same place Israel ate manna (Jn 6:31, 49). Jehovah appeared to Moses in wilderness on Sinai (Acts 7:30, 38, cp Lxx uses Ex 3:1, 18, 4:27) and he led Israel 40 years in the wilderness (Acts 7:36; cp Lxx Ps 68:7, 78:52, Hos 13:5, Amos 2:10) where they offered sacrifices for 40 years (Acts 7:42, cp Acts 13:18 = where God "put up with" Israel, cp Lxx of Amos 5:25) and where they first had the tabernacle of testimony (Acts 7:44) and where God laid low most of Israel because He was not pleased with them (1Cor 10:5, Heb 3:17) for they provoked Him there (Heb 3:8, cp Lxx - Ps 95:8; 106:14, Ps 78:40). The wilderness is where the woman (Israel) will flee in the future and be nourished by God, protected from the devil for 3.5 years (time, times, and half a time = 1260 days - Rev 12:6, 14, cp Da 7:21, 25, Da 12:7).

In Lxx of Hag 1:9 Jehovah laments "of My house which lies desolate." God "will make Nineveh a desolation, Parched like the wilderness (Lxx - eremos)." (Zeph 2:13) God says of Judah "The whole land shall be a desolation." (Jer 4:27, cp Jer 9:12 "like a desert"; Jer 12:10 = "a desolate wilderness") God speaks of Israel's future restoration when He will purge the rebels and bring others into the bond of the covenant (Ezek 20:37,38) - "As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you," declares the Lord GOD." (Ezek 20:36) Note that Ezekiel 20:33-44 speaks of His regathering Israel to their land in the future time of Christ's Second Advent.

Figuratively eremos is used of individuals who are abandoned, forsaken (Gal 4:27, Acts 1:20 = desolate, cp Lxx of Hos 2:3) God says "Have I been a wilderness to Israel" (Jer 2:31)

NAS translates eremos - desert(2), deserts(1), desolate(6), open pasture(1), secluded(5), unpopulated(1), wilderness(32).

Eremos - 48x in 48v -

Matt 3:1, 3; 4:1; 11:7; 14:13, 15; 23:38; 24:26; Mark 1:3f, 12f, 35, 45; 6:31f, 35; Luke 1:80; 3:2, 4; 4:1, 42; 5:16; 7:24; 8:29; 9:12; 15:4; John 1:23; 3:14; 6:31, 49; 11:54; Acts 1:20; 7:30, 36, 38, 42, 44; 8:26; 13:18; 21:38; 1 Cor 10:5; Gal 4:27; Heb 3:8, 17; Rev 12:6, 14; 17:3

Liddell-Scott-Jones - I desolate, lonely, solitary, 1 of places, the desert parts. 2. of persons or animals, ( I weep in solitude) 3. of conditions, II c. gen., 1. reft of, void or destitute of, 2. of persons, bereft of, a house without heirs, Isa 7.31. 3. with no bad sense, wanting, without; free from III 1. an undefended action, in which one party does not appear, and judgement goes against him by default,

Eremos - 319v in the Septuagint -

Ge 12:9; 13:1, 3; 14:6; 16:7; 21:14, 20f; 24:62; 36:24; 37:22; Ex 3:1, 18; 4:27; 5:1, 3; 7:16; 8:20, 27f; 13:18, 20; 14:3, 11f; 15:22; 16:1, 3, 10, 14, 32; 17:1; 18:5; 19:1f; 23:29, 31; Lev 7:38; 16:10, 21f; 26:31, 33; Nu 1:1, 19; 3:4, 14; 9:1, 5; 10:12, 31; 12:16; 13:3, 17, 21f, 26; 14:2, 16, 22, 25, 29, 32f, 35; 15:32; 16:13; 20:1, 4; 21:1, 5, 11, 13, 20, 23; 23:28; 24:1; 26:61, 64f; 27:3, 14; 32:13, 15; 33:6, 8, 11f, 15f, 36; 34:3; Deut 1:1, 19, 31, 40; 2:1, 7f, 26; 4:43, 45; 6:4; 7:22; 8:2, 15f; 9:7, 28; 11:5, 24; 29:5; 32:10, 51; 34:3; Josh 1:4; 5:6; 12:8; 14:10; 15:1, 21; 16:1; 20:8; 21:36, 42; 24:7; Jdg 1:16; 8:7, 16; 11:16, 18, 22; 20:42, 45, 47; 1Sam 4:8; 23:14, 24f; 24:1; 25:1, 4, 7, 14, 21; 26:2f; 2 Sam 2:24; 15:18, 23, 28; 16:2; 17:16, 29; 1Kgs 2:34; 4:20; 19:4, 15; 2Kgs 2:8; 3:8; 1Chr 5:9; 6:78; 12:8; 21:29; 2Chr 1:3; 8:4; 20:16, 20, 24; 24:9; 26:10; Ezra 9:9; Neh 2:17; 9:19, 21; Esther 8:12; Job 1:19; 15:28; 38:26; 39:6; Ps 29:8; 55:7; 63:1; Ps 65:12; 68:7; 75:6; 78:15, 19, 40, 52; Ps 95:8; 106:9, 14, 26; Ps 107:4, 33, 35; 136:16; Pr 9:12; 21:19; Song 3:6; Isa 1:7; 5:9, 17; 6:11; 13:9; 14:17, 23; 15:6; 16:1, 8; 17:9; 21:1; 24:12; 30:6; 32:15f; 34:11; 35:1f, 6; 40:3; 41:18; 42:11; 43:19f; 44:26; 48:21; 49:8, 19; 50:2; 51:3; 52:9; 54:1; 58:12; 61:4; 62:4; 63:13; 64:10; Jer 2:6, 15, 24, 31; 4:11, 26f; 9:2, 10, 12, 26; 12:10, 12; 13:24; 17:6; 22:6; 23:10; 25:24; 31:2; 33:10, 12; 34:22; 44:2; 48:6; 49:13; 50:12; Lam 4:3, 19; 5:9; Ezek 5:14; 6:14; 13:4; 14:8; 19:13; 20:10, 13, 15, 17f, 21, 23, 35f; 23:42; 25:13; 26:20; 29:9f; 30:12; 33:28f; 34:25; 35:3f, 7, 12, 14f; 36:2, 33, 35, 38; 38:8; Dan 4:25; 9:17; Hos 2:3, 14; 9:10; 13:5, 15; Joel 1:19-20; 2:22; Amos 2:10; 5:25; Zeph 2:13; Hag 1:9; Zech 14:10; Mal 1:3-4;

Hendriksen - Some, with reflection on John the Baptist (Mt 3:1), may point to the wilderness as the place where the Messiah is to be found. Others, to the inner rooms, as if the Christ were only for a few initiates, the Head of a private fraternity, revealing himself to no one else. In fact, the very opposite is the truth. It will not be necessary in that day to go in search of the Christ, as if he were to be found in some arid waste or some dark corner.

Behold, He is in the inner rooms - Jesus' point is that when the real Messiah returns, it will not be for just a few to see.

Gundry writes that "For their own emphasis, false prophets will also use "Behold!" Jews often thought that messianic salvation would begin in the wilderness (compare Israel's exodus from Egypt into the wilderness as deliverance from slavery, and Israel's entrance into Canaan out of the wilderness as the gaining of a homeland). "Storerooms" contrasts hideouts in the city with the wilderness. False teaching in the church is seldom brazen. It's usually offered with theological justification, such as a claim to have had direct and recent contact with the Christ, so that attention supposedly needs to be paid to a new communication that outdates his traditional teaching. Jesus warns, then, against contacts said to have taken place in the isolation of the wilderness and in the secrecy of urban hideouts, where public authentication that the Christ has returned and communicated with these false prophets is lacking. But people in the church can be easily taken in by false prophets who enhance their proclamations with claims to private contacts with the Christ and new communications from him. So Jesus will now play up the publicness of his return." (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation)

Inner rooms ("secret chambers" - KJV) (5009)(tameion = later form of tamieion = treasury and it is this latter form used in the Septuagint) can describe a storeroom or storage chamber, a secret room or an inner chamber. Tameion speaks of the interior rooms of a house reserved for privacy.

Uses of the form tamieion in the Septuagint - When he saw his long lost brothers Joseph "entered his chamber and wept there." (Ge 43:30 = tamieion) Delilah had men "lying in wait in an inner room" to bind Samson (Jdg 16:12, 9 = tamieion). Tamieion was the place Amnon violated Tamar (2Sa 13:10 = "the bedroom", cp 1Ki 1:15, 2Ki 6:12) Tamieion was the place Beh-hadad hid in the city ("into an inner chamber" 1Ki 20:30). Micaiah described tamieion as "an inner room" where one could hide (1Ki 22:25). Tamieion was the place Joash (the last male heir in the Davidic line as the others were put to death) was hidden with his nurse by Jehosheba and thereby preserved the line of the Messiah (2Ki 11:2 - "But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him from among the king's sons who were being put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom, actually either the palace storeroom where servants kept the bedding or a room in the living quarters of the temple priests. So they hid him from Athaliah, and he was not put to death." Note 2Ki 11:3 says Joash was hidden for 6 years in the Temple)! Tamieion describes "barns" that are "filled with plenty" (Pr 3:10)

Liddell-Scott-Jones on tameion = treasury; of the Roman Aerarium; the Imperial Fiscus, 2. magazine, storehouse; store-room; reservoir, 3. chamber, closet,

Tameion - 4x in 4v -

Matthew 6:6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Matthew 24:26 "So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them.

Luke 12:3 "Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.

Luke 12:24 "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!

Tameion is not found but the earlier form, tamieion is found 34 times in the Septuagint:

Ge 43:30; Exod 8:3; Deut 28:8; 32:25; Judg 3:24; 15:1; 16:9, 12; 2 Sam 13:10; 1 Kgs 1:15; 20:30; 22:25; 2 Kgs 6:12; 9:2; 11:2; 2 Chr 18:24; 22:11; Job 9:9; 37:9; Ps 105:30; 144:13; Prov 3:10; 7:27; 20:27, 30; 24:4; 26:22; Eccl 10:20; Song 1:4; 3:4; 8:2; Isa 26:20; 42:22; Ezek 28:16

ESV Study Bible - The Messiah will not come secretly to a select group and stay hidden from public view. Rather, he will appear like a flash of lightning—sudden and visible to all. ( ESV Study Bible BORROW) 

Tony Garland - At the Second Coming, Jesus will not be out in some wilderness hide-away where only a choice few or dedicated zealots know to find Him. Nor will he be squirreled away in the inner sanctum of a secret fortress or compound accessible only to the initiated. One wonders how many false Christ's even to our own time could have been rejected simply on the grounds of this verse?

Do not believe - Although this is in the aorist subjunctive, in context it functions as an imperative or a command.

Believe (4100)(pisteuo from pistis; pistos; see related studies the faith and the obedience of faith) means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one's trust, accepting it as genuine or real. Notice the next verse begins with "for" (gar) which explains why Jesus issues the warning to not believe their claims to Messiahship -- they will perform great signs and wonders, which one might think could only be performed by the Messiah. In the Gospel of John Jesus tells us how we might be enabled to discern truth from error - "If any man is willing to do (present tense - as one's lifestyle) His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself." (Jn 7:17) In this coming day of deception, believers walking by the Spirit of Truth will be enabled by Him to discern truth from error. (cf Gal 5:16-note, 1Jn 2:20-note, 1Jn 2:27-note).

Thomas Ice - Previously, Jesus has been warning the Jewish remnant during the second half of the seven-year tribulation to watch out for spiritual deception. Jesus referenced "the elect" (verse 24) for the second of three times in which that term is used in this passage, which refers to the Jewish remnant who will come to Christ during the tribulation. Jesus continues His instruction and warnings to "the elect" in Mt 24:26-28.

Notice how the preterist interpret this passage, saying that it is saying that when Jesus returns it won't be just like when He ascended (like the angel said it would be!) in Acts 1:9-11 -

Quite emphatically the Lord warns His disciples He will not come in a visible, bodily manner in those days (Ed: Then why would Jesus contradict Himself in Mt 24:30 and why does John reiterate that every eye see Him in Rev 1:7? The answer is patently obvious -- because every eye will SEE Him!). He twice states that any report of His physical presence would be erroneous (Ed: The context is critical -- this is during the last 3.5 years, not at the end of the Great Tribulation! Cp His phrase "immediately after the tribulation of those days" in Mt 24:29).: Clearly these statements discourage their expecting any visible return in that day; He expressly declares that any command to look for Him in some limited particular location would be a mistake. Yet there will be a "coming" of Christ in that day:…This, however, is a spiritual judgment-coming, rather than a bodily coming." (Ed: This is utter nonsense and clearly counters the plain reading of Rev 1:7 and Mt 24:30!) (Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil Texarkana, AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999, p. 71) As Ice says fortunately this misinterpretation of Jesus' return as a "spiritual return" of Jesus is one that only a small percent of commentaries espouse.

Matthew 24:27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be: hosper gar e astrape exerchetai (3SPMI) apo anatolon kai phainetai (3SPMI) eos dusmon outos estai e parousia tou huiou tou anthropou:

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  • as: Job 37:3 38:35 Isa 30:30 Zec 9:14 Lu 17:24-37
  • the coming: Mt 16:28 Mal 3:2 4:5 Jas 5:8 2Pe 3:4
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE COMING OF THE SON
LIKE A FLASH OF LIGHTNING

For (gar) - Terms of explanation should always prompt a question to the good inductive Bible student. In this case - What is Jesus explaining? He is explaining why they are not to believe the deceivers regarding Messiah's presence in places like the wilderness or inner rooms. His appearance will not be in desolate regions or darkened rooms visible to only a few, but will be brilliantly evident to all, like lightning flashing from east to west! In short, His sudden return will not be local but global!

Gundry - "For" makes the wide visibility of the Son of Man's coming the reason not to go out into the wilderness or squeeze into urban storerooms to see him. (Ibid)

Stuart Weber explains that for "tells us why we should not believe the Messiah will be seen in a single location on earth. When he comes, the whole world will know! Unlike his first advent—through natural birth into a human body and thirty-four years of life as a man—the coming of the Son of Man here Jesus used the title with its full messianic impact) will be like lightning, which comes from the east and is visible even in the west. The picture is that of a bolt of lightning, flashing all the way across the sky, from horizon to horizon, in an instant. Jesus was about to tell us more about his coming (24:29-31), but this alone distinguished him from all the imposters at the end of the age. They would be mere men, lingering about in one place or another, while he would come suddenly and visibly, and he would not be limited to a single location. (Holman New Testament Commentary)

This is Jesus' first specific answer to the question concerning the sign of His return (cf Mt 24:3-note).

Be very careful reading the commentaries! E.g., one preterist (DeMar) makes the nonsensical statement that "Jesus came "like lightning" to set Jerusalem "aflame all around." Is that really what a plain reading of Mt 24:27 says?

Just as the lightning comes (see discussion of term of comparison) - The point is you cannot miss it! Why? Because it travels at the "Speed of light!" When lightning strikes, it is visible for just a moment. A lightning strike is sudden, often catching the observer by surprise!

Just as (hosper) means wholly as, just as, exactly like and is used in NT only in comparisons.

Some commentaries feel that Jesus' will be seen as the world revolves, but this comparison implies all the world will see Him at once. Why? Because unlike North and South, there is no point where East stops and West starts.

MacArthur has an excellent note - Jesus assures them (the disciples). His coming will not be stretched over a long period of time but will be quick, sudden, public (Ed: Public in contrast to the "inner rooms" of Mt 24:26 implying a secretive appearance!), visible, universal, and unimaginably glorious.....Christ's appearance not only will be unmistakable to those in hiding on that day but to every human being on earth, including His most implacable enemies. For those who belong to Him, Christ's coming will be marvelous deliverance, but for those who have resisted and opposed Him it will be the ultimate day of tragedy.....Until the Lord appears in that predicted and unquestionable way, those who are hiding should remain where they are. After the true Christ appears, however, His people and His enemies will exchange places, as it were. Those who had been hiding in the mountains and caves will be released to freedom and blessing, and their would-be captors and murderers will themselves seek refuge, as the righteous wrath of God replaces and punishes the evil wrath of man and of Satan. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Hendriksen - The sense of the comparison, then, is this, that just as a lightning flash is so brilliant that from one end of heaven to the other it is clearly visible, so Christ's coming shall be such that "every eye shall see him" (Rev. 1:7-note).

Heinrich Meyer - The advent of the Messiah will not be of such a nature that you will require to be directed to look here or look there in order to see him; but it will be as the lightning, which as soon as it appears, suddenly announces its presence everywhere;…what is meant is, that when it takes place, it will all of a sudden openly display itself in a glorious fashion over the whole world. Ebrard (comp. Schott) is wrong in supposing that the point of comparison lies only in the circumstance that the event comes suddenly and without any premonition. For certainly this would not tend to show, as Jesus means to do, that the assertion: He is in the wilderness, etc. is an unwarrantable pretence. (Critical and exegetical handbook to the Gospel)

Flashes (5316)(phaino) means to bring to light, to cause to appear. To shed light upon (Rev 8:12). Phaino refers to "something which is visible, something which appears." Phaino is used again in Mt 24:30 = "the sign of the Son of Man will appear".

Paul uses the related noun (derived from phaino) epiphaneia which literally means a "shining forth" or "shining upon," a visible revelation which includes the idea of something sudden and unexpected! (cp Mt 24:36).

And then that lawless one (Antichrist) will be revealed (when he commits the abomination of desolation - Mt 24:15, cp 2Thes 2:3-4) whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance (epiphaneia) of His coming." (2Thes 2:8, cp epiphaneia also used in context of the Second Coming in 1Ti 6:14).

Coming (3952)(parousia is a combination of two Greek words para = with, alongside + ousia = being -- ousia is the participial form of the verb eimi = to be) which together literally mean to be alongside. Parousia conveys the thought of an arrival (advent or coming) of a person to a place plus the idea of their presence at that place until a certain event transpires. The word parousia has no English equivalent and therefore is often transliterated in writings.

John MacArthur - Parousia refers to more than just coming; it includes the idea of presence. Perhaps the best English translation would be "arrival." The church's great hope is the arrival of Jesus Christ when He comes to bless His people with His presence. That glorious truth appears in more than 500 verses throughout the Bible (Ed: In fact 1 in 20-25 of every NT verses alludes to the Second Coming!). (Macarthur J. Commentary on James.) (Bolding added)

Son of Man - Emphasizes His humanity. Fully God and Fully man. Found 88x in 84v - Matt 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40; 13:37, 41; 16:13, 27f; 17:9, 12, 22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18, 28; 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44; 25:31; 26:2, 24, 45, 64; Mark 2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33, 45; 13:26; 14:21, 41, 62; Luke 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8, 31; 19:10; 21:27, 36; 22:22, 48, 69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13f; 5:27; 6:27, 53, 62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23, 34; 13:31; Acts 7:56; Heb 2:6; Rev 1:13; 14:14

Light in the Eastern Sky

Light in the eastern sky, Jesus returning!
Light in the western sky, Jesus is near!
Soon shall the nations, His advent discerning,
Hail Him with gladness, or see Him with fear.

Refrain
Lord, by Thy hands that were nail pierced and torn:
Lord by the crown that they wove of the thorns:
Lord, by Thy passion in Gethsemane:
Christ of all tenderness, plead Thou for me!

Bright be our lamps as we watch for the dawning,
Girded our loins, that our strength may not fail;
So as He shines through the mists of the morning,
We may be ready to cry Him, All hail!
Refrain

Not as at Nazareth—lowly they found Him;
He as the Judge cometh back from the sky;
Borne on the whirlwind, with angels around Him,
Veiling their face from His glory so nigh.
Refrain

Judge of the earth, who in mercy unfailing
Offered Thyself as atonement for sin,
In that great day, by Thy love all prevailing,
Grant us the rest of Thy heaven to win!
Refrain

Matthew 24:28 "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather : hopou ean e to ptoma ekei sunachthesontai (3PFPI) oi aetoi:

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  • Dt 28:49 Job 39:27-30 Jer 16:16 Amos 9:1-4 Lk 17:37
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Vincent - Carcass (ptoma). From pipto, to fall. Originally a fall, and thence a fallen body; a corpse. Compare Lat. cadaver, from cado, to fall. See Mark 6:29; Rev 11:8. On the saying itself, compare Job 39:30.

Vincent on vulture - The griffon vulture is meant, which surpasses the eagle in size and power. Aristotle notes how this bird scents its prey from afar, and congregates in the wake of an army. In the Russian war vast numbers were collected in the Crimea, and remained until the end of the campaign in the neighborhood of the camp, although previously scarcely known in the country.

ESV Study Bible has some excellent thoughts on this unusual saying - It seems best not to "over-interpret" this striking proverbial expression. It probably means simply that, just as people from far away can see vultures circling high in the air, Christ's return in judgment will be visible....A similar view is that the vultures suggest the widespread death that will accompany the return of Christ to judge those who have rejected his kingdom. In either case, it will be impossible for people not to see and recognize the return of Christ. ( ESV Study Bible BORROW) 

John Walvoord on vultures will gather - the glorious coming of Christ is the natural sequence to blasphemy and unbelief, which characterizes the preceding period. Just as when an animal dies, the vultures gather, so when there is moral corruption, there must be divine judgment.

Hendriksen has an interesting comment on this difficult to interpret passage - Vultures swoop down upon a carcass. When morally and spiritually the world has degenerated to such an extent that it resembles carrion, in other words when the Lord judges that the world's cup of iniquity is full (cf. Ge 15:16; Rev. 14:18), then, and not until then, Christ shall come to condemn that world. Then his coming is a divine necessity.

Matthew 24:29 "But 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:

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Greek: Eutheos de meta ten thlipsin ton hemeron ekeinon ho helios skotisthesetai (3SFAI) kai he selene ou dosei (3SFAI) to. pheggos autes kai hoi asteres pesountai (3PFMI) apo tou ouranou kai. ai dunameis ton ourann saleuthesontai (3PFAI):

KJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

NET "Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

NLT "Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

CJB "But immediately following the trouble of those times, the sun will grow dark, the moon will stop shining, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in heaven will be shaken.

CSB "Immediately after the tribulation of those days: The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the celestial powers will be shaken.

  • Immediately after the tribulation of those days: Mt 24:8 Da 7:11,12 Mk 13:24,25
  • THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky: Isa 13:10 24:23 Jer 4:23-28 Eze 32:7,8 Joe 2:10,30,31 3:15 Am 5:20 8:9 Zep 1:14,15 Lu 21:25,26 Ac 2:19,20 Rev 6:12-17
  • The powers of the heavens will be shaken: 2Pe 3:10
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

COSMIC SIGNS SIGNAL
SECOND COMING

The parallel passage in Mark 13:24-27 (there is no true parallel passage in Luke 21) has

"But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT." AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. "And then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. "And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end of heaven.

E Donald Hiebert commenting on the Mark version of the Olivet Discourse writes "Bruce remarks that it sets a contrast between "the false Christs who are not to be believed in" and "the coming of the true Christ." The double statement, "in those days, after that tribulation," suggests a close connection with Mk 13:14-23. The implied close connection is explicitly affirmed by Matthew's "immediately" (Mt 24:29). The demonstrative pronouns, those and that, view the unparalleled tribulation just described as still remote at the time of speaking." (The Gospel of Mark- An Expositional Commentary)

Allison and Davies comment that "Having, in Mt 24:28, moved the mind's eye from earth to sky, the text now directs our gaze even higher. This imaginative raising of vision leaves distress behind and prepares for envisaging the good help that comes from heaven (Mt 24:30)." (A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew)

Thomas Ice - One of the original questions that the disciples ask Jesus at the beginning of this discourse was "what will be the sign of your coming?" He has been answering the question since Matthew 24:23. Having spoken of His coming in Matthew 24:27, Jesus now builds upon His previous point that He will not arrive clandestinely, but His return will be a clear, public event that will take place suddenly. Just such a glorious appearing is exactly what is described in Matthew 24:29-30. (Matthew 24:29 The Sun, Moon, and Stars)

David L McKenna - When the sign of His coming is given (Ed: He is referring here especially to the cosmic cataclysms), it will defy scientists and pseudoscientists, astronomers and astrologers, but there will be no way to misread its purpose." (The Communicator's Commentary)

Jesus is quoting in part from Isaiah 13 (but see the numerous passages at end of this note that have similar descriptions of this time) which in context describes the coming Day of the LORD

Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light." (Isaiah 13:9-10)

The great Day of the LORD, near and coming very quickly. Listen, the Day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. 15 A Day of wrath is that Day, A Day of trouble and distress, A Day of destruction and desolation, A Day of darkness and gloom, A Day of clouds and thick darkness, (Zep 1:14,15)

But (de) - This is a term of contrast which should always prompt the question of "What is the author contrasting?" Notice that in this context most of the translations leave the Greek word "de" (but) untranslated.

David Turner - This is the period of ultimate, unparalleled anguish (lit. "tribulation") described in 24:15ff (cf. Dan 12:1). (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark)

John Phillips - The signs of the Lord's return will not be lying signs such as those produced by the beast and his wizard prophet. There will be awesome signs, shaking heaven above and earth beneath, (Exploring the Gospel of Matthew)

Stuart Weber - The Messiah's coming will be accompanied by supernatural manipulations of celestial bodies—or at least manipulations of their appearance, or their ability to give light. These signs in the sky will be such that all people of earth can see them and realize that the Messiah is coming, If only one of these, signs were given, it might be explained away as an eclipse or a meteor shower. But all of them together can be caused only by the hand of God. The second coming of Christ to establish his kingdom on earth will be a majestic event that will extend over many hours. The earth and its occupants will be forced to watch, amazed, as the armies of the hosts of heaven descend to the earth in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). (Holman New Testament Commentary)

WITHOUT FURTHER
ADO!

In Mt 24:29 Jesus jumps to the very end of Daniel's Seventieth Week. And in plain English, immediately means at once, instantly, without any intervening time. Forthwith. Straightaway. Right away. Here and now. Without delay. Let the text say what it says -- "immediately after the tribulation" means exactly what you think it means (regardless of the fact that a number of erudite expositors try to twist Jesus' words saying they don't really mean what they appear to mean).

In the entertainment world the phrase "without further ado" signifies that it is time for the featured performer, of the headliner if you will, the appearance of the one everyone is eager to see. And so without further ado the Father will send His precious Son, the true star, the Bright Morning Star, Who will appear to a dark world reeling from the final pouring out of God's righteous wrath, bringing that terrible time of tribulation to an abrupt termination! (cf "cut short" Mt 24:22). What tribulation? Well, if English words mean anything and context is king in interpretation, Jesus is clearly referring to the "great tribulation" He has just described in Mt 24:21. A simple reading of His words could not be plainer. To try to make any other sense out of His words is nonsense! The problem with many of the commentaries is that they have a certain theological persuasion which in essence causes them to eschew (deliberately avoid) and/or ignore a plain reading of the text because to do so would disturb their particular systematic theological and eschatological interpretation. So as you read Matthew 24, seek first the teaching of the Spirit of truth before you seek the thoughts of men (including the thoughts you are reading in my comments!) He alone inspired Matthew to pen these words and He alone can lead you into all the truth!

McNeile (1915) commenting on Mt 24:29 and the word immediately (eutheos) says "This is true sequel of Mt 24:15f., 19-22; the thlipsis is that of Mt 24:21, the climax of the "Pangs" being followed immediately by the End. In Mark 13:24-27 ("but in those days, after that tribulation") both the tribulation and the Parousia are in "those days," i.e. they are successive events in the same period and alla ("but" - Strong's 235) adds a note of encouragement: the tribulation will be terrible (Mt 24:14-20), but the Parousia will follow at once. Convulsions of the heavenly bodies, normally so unerring in obedience to God's laws, were a standing feature of Hebrew eschatology (Isa 13:10, 24:21, 23, 34:4, Jer 4:23, Ezek 32:7ff, Joel 2:10, 30ff, Amos 5:20, Zeph 1:15, Hag 2:6, 21, cf 2Pe 3:12, Rev 6:12ff). (The Gospel according to St. Matthew)

Robert Gundry on immediately - "Immediately" denies a temporal gap between "the affliction of those days" and the celestial disasters that will accompany the Son of Man's publicly visible coming. The two occurrences of "and then" put those disasters and that coming in the same time frame. They'll take place concurrently. The celestial disasters provide a dark backdrop against which the glory of the Son of Man's coming will shine all the brighter. These disasters will feature a darkening of our primary luminaries, the sun and the moon. Jesus doesn't say what will darken them, so that the point lies solely in the contrast between their darkening and the glory of the Son of Man's coming, a glory emphasized with "much." (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation, Hendrickson Publishers, 2010)

David Turner on immediately - This is the period of ultimate, unparalleled anguish (lit. "tribulation") described in 24:15ff (cf. Dan 12:1). (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark)

Thomas Ice on immediately - Moulton and Milligan, in examples from the Greek papyri, emphasize that the use of this word means "at once." Since "an adverb usually modifies the verb closest to it," immediately relates directly to the verb "to darken." Thus, the events of Matthew 24:29 will follow the tribulation immediately, at once, without any other events intervening, or without a time delay. This would mean within the expanded chronology of the events of the tribulation found in Revelation 4-19, that Matthew 24:29-31 will follow immediately the final bowl judgment found in Revelation 16:17-21. This explains the parenthetical warning in the next-to-the-last bowl judgment which reads as follows: "Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame" (Revelation 16:15). It won't be long from the time in which the sixth bowl judgment takes place, until Christ returns. Revelation 17-18 is an overview of the judgment upon Babylon, which surveys items that will take place throughout the tribulation and second coming. Thus, from a chronological aspect in Revelation, Revelation 16 is followed in time by Revelation 19. (Matthew 24:28-29 Corpses and Vultures)

James Morison - This word immediately has been a perfect rack of torture to such expositors as have lost their way in the interpretation of the chapter.…The whole difficulty arises from assuming that the tribulation of those days has reference to the tribulation that was to be experienced in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem. (See Matthew 24:16-21.) There is not however the slightest necessity for making such an assumption. There is every reason indeed for rejecting it, …This great mistake is founded on an unwarrantably narrow view of the Saviour's aim in His discourse in general, and on an inappropriately microscopic way of peering toward telescopic objects. (A Practical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew)

C H Spurgeon on Mt 24:29-30 - These verses must apply to the Coming of the King at the last great day, we must regard Christ's words here as prophetic of the final manifestation of the "Son of Man coming in the clouds."

Immediately" (2112)(eutheos from euthus = straight, immediate) is an adverb which generally means at once, right away, forthwith, straightaway, without an interval of time or a point of time subsequent to a previous point of time. Note that the actual interval of time depends on the nature of the events and the manner in which the sequence is interpreted by the writer. Eutheos is a "time sensitive" word (see expression of time) and should prompt questions like "To what time does it refer?" or "What happens in this time?"

Eutheos - 36x in 36v all but one use (shortly) translated "immediately" - Matt 4:20, 22; 8:3; 13:5; 14:22, 31; 20:34; 21:2; 24:29; 25:15; 26:49, 74; 27:48; Mark 7:35; Luke 5:13; 12:36, 54; 14:5; 17:7; 21:9; John 5:9; 6:21; 18:27; Acts 9:18, 20, 34; 12:10; 16:10; 17:10, 14; 21:30; 22:29; Gal 1:16; Jas 1:24; 3 John 1:14; Rev 4:2

Note: Be aware of the fact that the King James Version is translated from the Textus Receptus, which has over 80 uses of eutheos in the NT including 40 in the Gospel of Mark. However, most of the more modern translations (NAS, ESV) use the Nestle-Aland (Novum Testamentum Graece) as their Greek source which has only 36 uses of eutheos including only one in Mark (Mark 7:35). NAS has 40 uses of the word "immediately" in Mark's Gospel but all (except Mk 7:35) are a translation of the Greek word euthus. Ralph Earle comments that "This reflects the main characteristic of Mark's Gospel—rapid action. Whereas John gives us in his Gospel a studied portrait of Jesus, the lines of which were drawn with loving care after a long lifetime of meditating on his Lord, and Matthew and Luke give us a series of colored slides, Mark presents a moving picture of Jesus' life. Most verses of the first chapter begin with "and," plus the fact that euthus occurs no less than 11 times here. We see Jesus moving rapidly from one scene of action to another." (Word Meanings in the New Testament)

Here are the parallel descriptions in Mark and Luke describing this tumultuous time...

But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. (Mark 13:24-26)

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. (Luke 21:25-27)

The tribulation - The definitive article ("the") is present in the Greek text and serves to mark this as a reference not to tribulation, distress or affliction in general but to the specific tribulation. In context Jesus has just described the coming unprecedented time of the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:21-note) which is "set in motion" when the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place (Mt 24:15-note).

This time of tribulation clearly parallels Daniel 9:27 when the Antichrist

will make a firm covenant with the many (nation of Israel) for one week (Seven Years = Daniel's Seventieth Week), but in the middle of the week (3.5 years = 1260 days = 42 months = Time, times, half a time) he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate." (See commentary)

Paul's description of the Antichrist in the Temple clearly parallels "the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place" (Mt 24:15-note)

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the Day of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God (cf "the holy place" = Mt 24:15-note), displaying himself as being God.(2Thes 2:3-4-note)

Tribulation (2347)(thlipsis from thlibo = to crush, press together, squash, hem in, compress, squeeze in turn derived from thláo = to break) originally expressed sheer, physical pressure on someone. Thlipsis is a strong term which does not refer to minor inconveniences, but to real hardships. Medically thlipsis was used of the pulse (pressure of the blood against the vessel wall). Thlipsis describes a pressing together as grapes as when they are crushed beneath a heavy weight. According to the ancient law of England, those who willfully refused to plead guilty, had heavy weights placed on their breasts, and were pressed and crushed to death, a gruesome picture of a literal thlipsis.

When will these events take place? If one compares the OT passages and passages in the Revelation, it is clear that Jesus is describing the events in the book of the Revelation where John begins his description of this time, a time which is known as the Day of the LORD. These awesome, fearful cosmic disturbances are like a great "divine drum roll" preparing the world for the parousia of the King of kings which the King Himself describes in Mt 24:30-note and His bondservant John describes in Revelation 19:11-16-note.

Michael Wilkins - The phrase "immediately after the distress of those days" (Mt 24:29) introduces a temporal sequence: The Son of Man will come after that time of tribulation. Here "distress" (thlipsis) connects with Mt 24:21 to point to a specific period of great tribulation. The adverbial expression "immediately after" emphasizes that the celestial signs and the coming of Jesus will occur after the time of "great distress" just described in Mt 24:15-28.....those who see these events occurring at the end suggest that one must "wildly spiritualize" (Toussaint, Behold the King : a study of Matthew - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - BORROW, page 266) these events in order to see them as occurring at the fall of Jerusalem (Ed: 70AD). Once again, the mixture of prophecy referring to both the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the age should be acknowledged. Although the judgment that will be brought on Israel in A.D. 70 with the fall of Jerusalem does seem to be in Jesus' mind (cf. Mt 23:37-39; Luke 21:20-24), the primary emphasis rests on the end of the age when He will come as the Son of Man in great universal power. (The NIV Application Commentary) 

Hendriksen comments that "The picture is very vivid. While the earth is drenched with the blood of the saints in the most terrible tribulation of all time, all at once the sun becomes darkened. Naturally the moon now also ceases to give her light. The stars deviate from their orbits and race to their doom; they "fall from heaven." The powers of the heaven are shaken. Terrifying sounds are heard. There is "the roaring of the sea and the billows," causing perplexity among men. People faint with fear and with foreboding of what is beginning to happen to the world (Luke 21:25, 26). In connection with this apocalyptic picture strict literalness must be avoided. Until this prophetic panorama becomes history we shall probably not know how much of this description must be taken literally and how much figuratively." (Baker NT Commentary)

THE "FORMIDABLE, UNCOMFORTABLE" PROBLEM
INTERPRETING MATTHEW 24:15ff AS FULFILLED IN 70AD

IF one interprets the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place (Mt 24:15-note) as the future Antichrist standing in the Temple (cp 2Thes 2:3-4-note) and initiating the Great Tribulation, THEN Mt 24:29 makes perfect chronological sense. The Antichrist has only 42 months (3.5 years - Rev 13:5-note) to exercise world domination. Immediately (Mt 24:29) after this tribulation the Lord will return and "cut short" this horrible time (Mt 24:22-note). Those commentators who hold that Mt 24:15-20 was fulfilled in 70AD have difficulty in making Mt 24:29 fit with their interpretation.

R T France explains the problem Mt 24:29 for those who like himself espouse a 70AD fulfillment for the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15-note:

It is with Mt 24:29 that the traditional interpretation (Ed: Mt 24:15 = 70AD fulfillment) becomes most uncomfortable. If it is agreed that Mt 24:15-28 relate to the siege of Jerusalem (apart from the aside about its difference from the parousia in Mt 24:27) and if it is assumed that Mt 24:29-31 describe the "parousia and the end of the age" (even though they use none of those terms), the opening phrase "But immediately after the distress of those days" constitutes a formidable problem unless one is prepared to argue that Jesus (and Matthew) really did expect the parousia to take place in the late first century AD, and that He was mistaken (Ed: Which of course would make Jesus a false prophet!). As a result many interpreters resort to imprecise talk about "prophetic perspective" which merges far distant events into a single time-frame, while others argue that either "immediately after" or "those days" do not mean what they appear to mean. (The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT, Eerdmans Publication, 2007) (Bolding and italics mine for emphasis)

Comment: The most incredible statement by France is that immediately after or those days may not mean what the appear to mean! Beloved, IF we have to read the Scriptures trying to discern when words or phrases might NOT mean what they appear to mean, we would encounter tremendous problems in reaching a consensus on ANY PASSAGE! The point is that Jesus said it plainly and that plainly settles it! He spoke in easily understandable words which can be taken at "face value" and which can therefore be accurately interpreted! If the plain sense of Jesus' words in context makes good sense, then the reader is wise not to try to come up with an unnatural ("imprecise") sense or it may end up precisely as nonsense. Surely Jesus did not intend that only those with theological doctorates would be able to understand His words. After all He was addressing "uneducated and untrained men!" (Acts 4:13) So let us seek the plain literal sense and make sure we do so in context (see Carson's example of taking a text out of its context below).

Here is Craig Keener's interpretation of "immediately" in Mt 24:29:

"Immediately" ties the tribulation of "those days" to the unidentified final tribulation, a tribulation that may follow it by only a few years (as some of Matthew's audience could still have held) or, on a more modern reading, can only be identified as the final one by the fact that the parousia concludes it. (The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary)

Comment: Keener who interprets Mt 24:15 as fulfilled in 70AD is to be commended for keeping the door open to the possibility that Mt 24:29 could be referring to a future event.

Grant Osborne summarizes the interpretations of "immediately after the tribulation of those days"...

(1) Some (France) believe this is a reference entirely to the destruction of Jerusalem, so that the return of Christ here is not His Second Coming but His vindication in the events of AD 66-70.

(2) Others (Carson, Blomberg, Morris) believe this goes back to the "tribulation" of Mt 24:9, 22 and not the "abomination" of Mt 24:15-21 (i.e., the destruction of Jerusalem) (Ed comment: Note the inconsistency of this view -- Mt 24:21 is the nearest previous mention of "tribulation!" and yet these writers basically ignore it or "skip over it" because a literal rendering in context would mean Christ returns immediately after the Great Tribulation, which is "cut short" [Mt 24:22] by His parousia!), and "immediately after" means that the parousia follows the period of "tribulation" during the church age. (Ed comment: To equate the church age with the "great tribulation" is patently absurd! If that were what Jesus meant, why did He use five verses [Mt 24:16-20] to give an urgent call to Jews [not the church - cf use of Jewish words "Judea," "Sabbath"!] to flee?)

(3) Still others (Hagner) believe this is stated from Matthew's perspective as "immediately" following the destruction, but with "immediately" meaning "it is to be expected after" rather than "very soon after" because of the constant aspect of delay in chs. 24-25. (Ed comment: Notice how one is forced to read into the plain sense of the word "immediately" some other meaning in order to justify a "preteristic" interpretation of Matthew 24. The word immediately means just that - immediately! cp the next use by Matthew - Mt 26:49. If Jesus had mean "it is to be expected after" He could have said "after that" or "then" but instead He used "immediately!")

(4) However, to link this just with the destruction of AD 66-70 or with the suffering of the entire church age is to miss the whole context of vv. 4-28. The best understanding is to take "the tribulation of those days" as recapitulating "those days" of Mt 24:19, 22 and thus refers both to "those days" of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the final conflagration of the "great tribulation" (Mt 24:21; Rev 7:14) period. Here with eutheos (retaining its force as "immediately," unlike Mark) it especially refers to the final events of history, those "immediately" preceding the return of Christ (so McNeile, Grundmann, Hill, Gundry, Bruner, Wilkins, Witherington, Turner). (Ed comment: If one ) (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTEXT
IN INTERPRETATION OF "THOSE DAYS"

D A Carson says that

Matthew 24:29 begins the new stage with "Immediately after the distress [thlipsis] of those days," a clear reference back to the thlipsis of Mt 24:9, 22, not to the "great distress" of Mt 24:15-21. Thus the celestial signs and the coming of the Son of Man do not immediately follow "the abomination that causes desolation" but "the distress of those days"—i.e., of the entire interadvent period of thlipsis." (Ref)

Comment: Notice that Carson basically ignores the plain meaning of the word immediately and does not interpret "immediately after the tribulation (thlipsis)" as referring to immediately after "the great tribulation (thlipsis)" which Jesus had just mentioned in context. Instead Carson skips the near reference to tribulation in Mt 24:21 and goes back to tribulation (thlipsis) in Mt 24:9 in an attempt to buttress his interpretation!

Why does he avoid the critically important hermeneutical rule of interpreting the text in its context? I cannot read his mind, but one thing is clear. If Jesus' words in Mt 24:29 are interpreted as a description of the cosmic signs which immediately follow the "great tribulation (thlipsis)", then Carson's interpretation of "the abomination that causes desolation" would be incorrect because these cosmic signs of Mt 24:29 clearly did not occur after the Roman Army destroyed and desolated Jerusalem in 70 AD! Clearly a literal, contextually sensitive reading of Mt 24:29 creates a significant problem for the popular "preteristic" interpretation of Mt 24:15ff as fulfilled in 70AD!

So without explanation, Carson somewhat dogmatically draws the conclusion that Jesus' statement about tribulation is "a clear reference back to the thlipsis of Mt 24:9,22, not to the great distress of Mt 24:15-21." (Emphasis mine) Notice that he references Mt 24:22, which begs the question "What is the context of Mt 24:22?" Note that in the original Greek text Mt 24:22 is linked with Mt 24:21 by use of the copulative conjunction (joins words and sentences) kai ("and"), which is the first word in the Mt 24:22. It is therefore very clear that Jesus intends for Mt 24:21 and Mt 24:22ESV to be understood as related to or "coupled with" one another. It also logically follows that "those days" in Mt 24:22 is clearly linked to the period of the great tribulation Jesus had just described in Mt 24:15-21 (See Jesus' three uses of "those days" below)!

In sum, the phrase "immediately after the tribulation of those days" in Mt 24:29 clearly refers to the days Jesus had just designated as the great tribulation. To make "those days" refer all the way back to Mt 24:9 is tantamount to "yanking" Jesus' words out of context

Allison and Davies rightly recognize that "The attempt of Carson, pp. 504-5, to refer Mt 24:29a to Mt 24:9 and Mt 24:22 but not Mt 24:15-21, does not persuade, in part because he must unnaturally separate Mt 24:22 (with its use of 'those days') from Mt 24:21. (Ed: In other words Allison and Davies agree that Dr Carson's handling of the context is a bit strained or hermeneutically awkward.) (Ibid)

Beloved, it is critically important to emphasize that context is "King" if one seeks to interpret the Scripture accurately. So let's look again at the context of the important time phrase "those days" which is found only 3 times in Mt 24:1-34. Read the following passages and see if it is not very clear as to what time period Jesus is referring when He uses "those days." You will notice that the two previous uses of those days both refer to the time period Jesus called the great tribulation. And so to reiterate, it clearly follows that the phrase immediately after the tribulation of those days means exactly that -- immediately after the time of the horrific great tribulation all the world will see unmistakable cosmic signs pointing to the immediate return of the Messiah!

Mt 24:19 "But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days!  

What days? Clearly this refers to the days of the great tribulation which begins when the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place (Mt 24:15-note).

Mt 24:22 "And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short. 

To what days does Jesus refer? If one allows context to rule in the interpretation, it is clear that those days refers to those days of the great tribulation He had just described.   

Mt 24:29 "But 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  

To what days does Jesus refer? He has just mentioned "those days" twice and both of those uses are in the context of the great tribulation. As stated earlier, if one allows context to rule in interpretation, those days of Mt 24:29 refer to those days of the great tribulation. Regardless of how one interprets Mt 24:15, any other interpretation would require one to take the text out of its normal, plain context!

Craig Blomberg in Matthew - New American Commentary (BORROW) associates those days of Mt 24:29 with the Great Tribulation. However in order to explain the phrase "immediately after the tribulation of those days" he says that the Great Tribulation lasts from Jesus' first advent to His second advent. This interpretation of the entire church age as a period of unprecedented tribulation simply does not make good sense! Blomberg's interpretation of the "great tribulation" as lasting almost 2000 years ignores the fact that Jesus was describing a unique, unprecedented, never to be repeated specific time of testing which in fact would be "cut short"! (Mt 24:22-note) Does Jesus' description of a time that would be cut short sound like an unprecedented "Great Tribulation" that has lasted for almost 2000 years? Furthermore, Jeremiah and Daniel both had similar descriptions of a time of unparalleled distress that would come upon Israel in the last days. In Jeremiah 30:7-note the distress that will come upon the nation of Israel future is described as "there is none like it." The time of distress in Daniel 12:1-note clearly does not extend from Jesus' first to second coming but in the context of Da 11:36-45-note will be the time when the Antichrist wages war with the Jews for 3.5 years (cp Da 7:25-note, Rev 13:5-8-note). Notice how Daniel like Jesus specifies a time of unparalleled tribulation describing this as "a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time". Furthermore, in the context which follows Daniel's description of the time of distress the prophet records that this horrible time of Israel's purging, purifying and refining (Da 12:10-note) will last not for thousands of years but for "time, times and half a time" (3.5 years) (Da 12:7-note). Given the clear similarity of the descriptions of the times of distress by Jesus (Mt 24:21-note) and Daniel (Da 12:1-note), it follows that the length of time of the Great Tribulation is also 3.5 years and not an extended period of 2000 years as posited by Blomberg (and others who hold to a 70AD position)! In sum, Blomberg is forced to interpret the Great Tribulation as occurring over an extended period of time in order to make his 70AD interpretation of Mt 24:15-22-note compatible with the Mt 24:29 description "immediately after the tribulation," a time which clearly precedes the future second coming (Mt 24:30-note).

Leon Morris in the top rated Pillar NT Commentary on Matthew does not even attempt to explain the phrase "immediately after the tribulation of those days" writing that "Jesus has spoken of troubled times that will precede the end of all things, and he now goes on to speak of what will follow the distress he has earlier mentioned (Mt 24:9 and Mt 24:21). He speaks of significant celestial phenomena in language reminiscent of Old Testament passages but without specifically quoting them (e.g., Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:10)." (The Gospel according to Matthew)

Randolph Yeager has a comment on the "preteristic" commentaries (of which the preceding are just a sampling) - The attempt to show that Jesus' prophecy had its fulfillment between A.D. 33 and A.D. 70, disregards Matthew 24:29-31. None of these events took place ("immediately after") the troublous times connected with Titus' invasion and sack of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.…These drastic disturbances in the heavens will highlight the second coming of Christ.…How frantic the efforts of many commentators in dealing with this passage because they are prejudiced against a futurist view. ( The Renaissance New Testament, 18 vols. (Bowling Green, KY: Renaissance Press, 1978, vol. 3. p. 312) (Bolding added for emphasis)

UNMISTAKABLE COSMIC SIGNS HERALD
HIS COMING AND THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE

The moon...the stars...powers of the heavens - To what or whom does this refer? There is some debate as to whether Jesus' words are to be interpreted literally or figuratively. It is surprising that "The terminology has generally been regarded as figurative, simply denoting political and international upheavals. But modern scientific developments have shown that the possibility the language may be a sober description of grim reality cannot be ruled out." (Hiebert) However in light of the description in Mt 24:7 of "famines and earthquakes" the effects of the moon and stars could be interpreted literally. As one writer says "When the sign of His coming is given, it will defy scientists and pseudoscientists, astronomers and astrologers, but there will be no way to misread its purpose." The powers of the heavens could be literal (meteor shower, etc) or figurative as some "suggestively hold that here, in contrast to the preceding three statements dealing with inanimate objects, the reference is to personal powers or hosts in the heavens. Then the most likely reference is to the mighty shaking effect that these events will have on the kingdom of Satan and his hosts." (Hiebert)

Thomas Ice - Matthew 24:29 is not a new revelation by our Lord. Old Testament passages like Isaiah 13:9-10 and Joel 2:31; 3:15 also reference this "black out" and light show that will occur "immediately after the tribulation," in preparation for Christ's second coming as noted in Matthew 24:30. These Old Testament passages refer to the same future events that Christ describes in Matthew 24:29. In conjunction with the return of Jesus, Israel will be rescued from her tribulation by the Lord Himself (Matthew 24:31). We see the theme of rescue associated with the Lord's return reinforced from the contexts of these Old Testament passages, especially Joel 2; and Joel 3, especially Joel 2:31 and Joel 3:1-2. It is clear that our Lord has quoted part of His declaration about the sun and moon in Matthew 24:29, "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,…" from Joel 2:31. Both are speaking of the same time and events—the time immediately following the tribulation and in conjunction with Christ's return. Thus, it is interesting to take note of Joel 3:1-2, which provides a "time text" saying that the "black out" (Joel 2:31) will occur "in those day and at that time" (Joel 3:1). In conjunction with this is described a time when the Lord will "restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem" (Joel 3:1). Not judgment, but deliverance, as in Matthew 24. This event is said to be a time when the Lord "will gather all the nations" (Joel 3:1) in the valley of Jehoshaphat just north of Jerusalem. Further, it will be a time in which Israel will have been regathered from among the nations (Joel 3:2). This will be the time in which the sun and moon will be darkened. (Matthew 24:29 The Sun, Moon, and Stars)

In his study notes Dr MacArthur comments on Joel 2:30, 31 -- Unmistakable heavenly phenomena will signal the imminent arrival of God's wrath in the Day of the Lord (cf. Joel 2:10+ - commenting on Day of Lord in Joel 1:15+ he adds "the Day of the Lord (the occasion when God pours out His wrath on man) results in blessing and exoneration for God's people and judgment toward Gentiles [Is 13:6+; Eze 30:3], but here Joel directs the warning toward his own people.) (The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible)

The Gospel of Luke also describes the tumultuous time preceding the Lord's return:

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear (terror) and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Lk 21:25-26+)

John MacArthur commenting on Luke's description observes that "The events will be so calamitous that men will faint from absolute terror. The Greek term behind "faint" means to expire or stop breathing, indicating that people will literally die of fright. No hurricane, tornado, tidal wave, earthquake, volcanic eruption, or combination of those natural disasters in history will have approached the extreme disruption of those end-time days." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Sun will be darkened - This sign surely describes a time of literal darkness which presages (is a sign that something will happen) the parousia of the Deliverer. Recall that Paul teaches that when Jesus returns immediately after the Great Tribulation (cf Mt 24:30) He will accomplish a miraculous deliverance for Israel...

all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." AND THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." (Ro 11:26-27-note)

Let's keep that future deliverance of Israel in mind as we look at the sign in Mt 24:30 that the sun will be darkened. Recall that there was another time in the past in which Jehovah brought about a great deliverance for the nation of Israel, a deliverance which was also associated with darkness:

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings. (Ex. 10:21-23+, cp "delivered" in Ex 18:8, 9, 10+)

Similarly when redemption (payment of the price for our deliverance from bondage to sin and Satan) was accomplished for mankind by Jesus on the Cross there was a period of darkness

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. (Mt. 27:45)

NET Note say "The heavens were seen as the abode of heavenly forces, so their shaking indicates distress in the spiritual realm. Although some take the powers as a reference to bodies in the heavens (like stars and planets, "the heavenly bodies," NIV) this is not as likely."

Shall be darkened (4654)(skotizo from skia = shadow) means literally to be or become dark or to be unable to give light (Mt 24:29, Mk 13:24, Eccl 12:2).

John Walvoord - The frightening display of divine disruption of the heavens, which precedes the Second Coming described graphically in Revelation 6:12-14 and in many other of the judgments of God described in the book of Revelation, will be climaxed by the glorious appearing of Christ in heaven (cf. Rev 19:11-16-note). This will be a coming of the Lord to judge and subdue the earth and to bring in His earthly kingdom.

And the moon will not give its light - Moon is pheggos which "refers to the light of the sun reflected by the moon, which is analogous to the church's reflection of the glory of Christ. This culminating darkness will end when He who is the "bright and morning star" dispels it once and for all (Rev 22:16-note)." (Zodhiates - Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)

Isaiah had prophesied of this future frightful Day of the Lord when God will punish the world for its intractable godlessness and wanton evil...

Behold, the Day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it. For (term of explanation - explaining how this Day will be characterized) the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity. I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger. (Isaiah 13:9-13)

And the stars will fall from the sky - The future tense could be rendered "shall be falling" and stresses the duration, star after star falling depicting a mighty disorganization in the heavenlies! Specifically this description could refer to "Comets" (Greek words for "star" is aster - gives us English Asteroid, cp Meteorites) striking the earth in that fateful, future day.

John saw that future day which will occur during Daniel's Seventieth Week

"I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind." (Rev 6:12-13-note), see other "shaking" in Revelation - Rev 8:12-note, Rev 11:13-note, Rev 16:18-19-note)

Comment: When do the Seal Judgments occur. While it is best to not be dogmatic, my view is that the Seals and Trumpets occur in the first 3.5 years of Daniel's Seventieth Week with the 7th Trumpet corresponding to the midpoint of the Seven Years of "Tribulation" marking the beginning of the 3.5 years Jesus designated as the Great Tribulation.

Tony Garland on "the sun became black as sackcloth" Jesus said that cosmic signs would be associated with the time of the end (Mt. 24:29-note; Mark 13:24-25; Luke 21:11). From other considerations, we understand that the signs associated with this sixth seal are not the only cosmic signs of this time period. (Fruchtenbaum recognizes "five cosmic disturbances: one before the seven years, three during, and one after."—Fruchtenbaum, A Review of the Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church)

The Isaiah 13:9-10 and Joel 3:14-15 passages [concerning cosmic disturbances] clearly take place within the Day of the Lord, . . . Joel 2:30-31 describes cosmic disturbances before the Day of the Lord. In the prophetic scheme of things, there are several cosmic disturbances. (Ibid)

There are reasons for concluding that the cosmic disturbances related to the beginning of the Joel 3 Day of the Lord and the Second Coming of Christ immediately after the Great Tribulation are not the same as those of the sixth seal. First, the cosmic disturbances of Joel 3:1-21 will occur when the armies of the nations have gathered for war in Israel. Those armies will not begin to gather for war until the sixth bowl has been poured out (Rev. 16:12-16), long after the sixth seal—one seal, seven trumpets, and five bowls after the cosmic disturbances of the sixth seal. . . . other cosmic disturbances will occur after those of the sixth seal. A third of the sun, moon, and stars will be darkened by the fourth trumpet (Rev. 8:12); the sun will be darkened by smoke from the abyss at the fifth trumpet (Rev. 9:1-2); the sun will scorch people on the earth with fire and fierce heat when the fourth bowl is poured out (Rev 16:8-9). . . . when the cosmic disturbances of the sixth seal take place, kings, military men, and all other classes of people will run to the caves and rocks of the mountains to hide. . . . By contrast, when the cosmic disturbances immediately before the Joel 3 Day of the Lord occur after the sixth bowl, the kings and military men will not run and hide. Rather, they will remain assembled together in battle array to boldly attempt war against God, His Messiah, and the holy angels (Ps 2:1-3; Joel 3:9-16; Zec. 12:2-9; 14:1-6, 12-14).(Showers, Maranatha, Our Lord Come, 66-69)

The sun and moon were created for "signs" (Gen. 1:14). (Passages describing astronomical signs: Isa. 5:30; 13:10; 24:23; 30:26; 50:3; Jer. 4:23-28; Eze. 32:7; Joel 2:10; 2:31; 3:15; Amos 8:9; Mat. 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25; 23:45; Acts 2:20; Rev. 6:12; 8:12; 9:2.) They now provide indication that the events associated with this seal cannot be explained by natural phenomena—but result from the One Who controls the universe!

The darkening of the sun may be from the perspective of viewers on the earth—due to material ejected into the upper atmosphere by the earthquake or the impact of asteroids in the next verse. Although the sun is darkened, the moon continues to reflect light (as if the path light follows between the sun and moon is only minimally affected). In the fifth trumpet judgment, it is smoke which darkens the sun (Rev. 9:2).

Eventually, like the earth, the sun and moon are judged to show those who dwell on the earth Who the true source of light is—the Lord Himself. If the trend in our own day is any indication, worship of the heavenly bodies will still be prevalent at that time and so God interferes with that which man has idolized (Zep. 1:5). (Concerning the worship of heavenly bodies: Ge 11:4; Dt 4:19; 17:3; 2K. 17:16; 23:5, 11; 2Chr. 33:3; Job 31:26-28; Isa. 47:13; Jer. 8:2; 10:2; 19:13; Acts 7:42; Ro 1:25; Rev. 8:12) As always, the message is to turn from dead idols to serve the living God (cp 1Th 1:9):

The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. (Isa. 60:19-20)

Garland comments on the stars of the sky fell to the earth - Stars is asteres from which we get the word asteroid. The word is also used of the supernatural manifestation which led the magi to the babe (Mat. 2:2), Christ who is the "morning star" (Rev. 2:27; 22:16), angels (Rev. 1:16; 2:1; 3:1; 9:1), and astronomical objects (Mt. 24:29; Mk 13:25; 1Cor. 15:41; Rev. 6:3; Rev. 8:10). Here and in Revelation 8:10 stars are said to fall to the earth. It seems best to understand these as asteroids or meteors for even the smallest sun would consume the entire planet should it ever fall to earth. (Some believe these stars could refer to fallen angels. "The sixth seal marks the end of the first half of the tribulation, so these stars could be the expulsion of Satan's host from Heaven Rev. 12:7-12 with 12:3-4."—Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John, Rev. 6:13.)

The stars proper are certainly still found in their places after the fulfilment of this vision. (See Rev. 8:12.) And remembering that the Scriptures often speak in the common language of men, without reference to the distinctions of science, and that even science itself still popularly speaks of "falling stars," when it means simply meteoric phenomena, it appears but reasonable that we should understand the apostle to be speaking of something of the same sort. (Joseph Seiss)

The most likely identification of these particular falling stars is that of a great swarm of asteroids that pummel the earth. Such an event has never occurred in historic times, but scientists have long speculated about the probability of either past or future earth catastrophes caused by encountering a swarm of asteroids. (Henry Morris, The Revelation Record. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983, Rev. 6:13.)

"The sixth seal presents a disturbance of nature so vast that we naturally seek to explain it as hyperbole," but this is not merely hyperbolic language. (See Garland's explanatory note below) (See Interpreting Symbols) These are the very signs that Jesus predicted would attend the period preceding His return:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and 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. (Mt. 24:29-30-note cf. Mk 13:24-25; Luke 23:44-45; Rev 1:7) [emphasis added]

Isaiah had been shown this fearsome time:

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger. (Isa. 13:9-13) [emphasis added]

In these judgments, God is shattering the puny pillars of support which men trust in when they turn away from Him.

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (Heb. 12:25-28-note) [emphasis added]

The increasingly severe judgments which fall during this period are specifically designed to remove hope in all else but God so that all creatures recognize their utter dependence upon the Creator. Hope placed anywhere else is idolatry. God now begins a systematic destruction of the natural order (sun, moon, stars, earth) which men have often deferred to in place of the Creator.95 In its failure to recognize the Creator, environmentalism eventually fails in its effort to preserve the creation.

Explanatory Note from Tony Garland - As we forewarned the reader in our discussion concerning The Genre of the book of Revelation, many interpreters part ways here from the Golden Rule of Interpretation in favor of subjective "apocalypticism." (Thus Mounce postulates that) "The details of this dramatic description of a universe in turmoil are drawn from the common stock of current apocalypticism. They are not to be taken with complete literalness. Those who first read John's description would not have bothered to debate whether or not the details were to be taken literally. They were part of a well-established tradition that went back through contemporary apocalyptic literature to the early prophetic portrayals of the day of the Lord."—Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 161. We might ask who decides what "complete literalness" means? Which parts are literal and which parts are not? Are the men literal? But not the stars? "The suggestion of combining symbolic and literal (Mounce) is fraught with hermeneutical difficulty."—Thomas, Revelation 1-7, Rev. 6:12. Also: how would God convey these events if they were literal? The Anti-supernatural Bias of these interpreters makes it nearly impossible for God to tell us of catastrophic events because they always get recast as "apocalyptic" and therefore not literal. (A Testimony of Jesus Christ - Revelation 6)

Luke makes clear that these cataclysmic events are not mere literary hyperbole, but real physical events which include not just heavenly bodies, but the earth and sea: "upon the earth [there will be] dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for [because] the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:26).

The powers of the heavens will be shaken - This passage is more difficult to interpret as some see powers as that which holds the heavens in place whereas others see powers as referring to angelic hosts who are powerful.

Hiebert on the powers of the heavens shall be shaken— "a further statement of vast convulsions in the heavenly world. In Acts 16:26, the verb shaken is used of the effect of an earthquake, so that the convulsion here might be described as an earthquake in the heavens. Some understand the powers to mean the impersonal physical forces of nature which control the movements of the heavenly bodies. But others suggestively hold that here, in contrast to the preceding three statements dealing with inanimate objects, the reference is to personal powers or hosts in the heavens. Then the most likely reference is to the mighty shaking effect that these events will have on the kingdom of Satan and his hosts. (The Gospel of Mark: An Expositional Commentary)

MacArthur - During that time the powers of the heavens will be shaken by Jesus Christ, the One who "upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3-note), Just as He created everything, He also sustains everything (Ed: cp Col 1:17-note "in Him all things hold together."), and without His full sustaining power, gravity will weaken and the orbits of the stars and planets will fluctuate. Astronomers can predict coming stellar events centuries in advance only because of the absolute consistency of the divinely ordered and uniform laws that control the operation of the stars and planets. But when the Lord withdraws the least of His power from the universe, nothing in it will function normally, and every aspect of the physical world will be disrupted beyond imagination. All the forces of energy, here called powers of the heavens, which hold everything in space constant, will be in dysfunction. The heavenly bodies will careen helter-skelter through space, and all navigation, whether stellar, solar, magnetic, or gyroscopic, will be futile because all stable reference points and uniform natural forces will have ceased to exist or else become unreliable. The earth is held together by the power of God, and when that power is diminished, the resulting chaos will be inconceivable. Speculations such as the one just cited, no matter how scientifically derived, can only remotely approximate what the actual situation will be like. But just as the withdrawal of a small part of God's sustaining power will cause such pervasive chaos and destruction, so will His supernatural control of that disintegration prevent the total destruction of the earth. His sovereign power will preserve and restore it and its people for the establishing of His Millennial Kingdom. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Shall be shaken (agitated) (4531)(saleuo from salos = wave) means to cause to move to and fro, cause to waver or totter, make to rock. Saleuo refers to unexpected and disastrous shaking of those things that men generally consider to be stable (e.g. earth or sky).

Tony Garland answers "Why such cataclysmic judgment? (1) A judgment of God on a par with the flood. Wrath commensurate with another eruption of sin. (2) Judging idolatry: responding to the worship of creation over the Creator. (3) Validating the prophetic predictions of His Word. (4) Answering the scoffers of the end: "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2Peter 3:4-note).

SUMMARY OF SIMILAR COSMIC SIGNS
IN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS

Sun will be darkened:

  • Isa. 13:10 = The sun will be dark when it rises
  • Isa 24:23 = Then...the sun ashamed
  • Jer 4:23-28 = the heavens above be dark
  • Joel 2:10 = The sun and the moon grow dark
  • Joel 3:15 = The sun and moon grow dark,
  • Amos 5:20 = Will not the day of the LORD be darkness
  • Amos 8:9 = the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight
  • Rev. 6:12 = the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair

Moon will not give its light:

  • Isa. 13:10 = And the moon will not shed its light.
  • Isa 24:23 = Then the moon will be abashed
  • Ezek. 32:7 = moon shall not give its light
  • Joel 2:10 = The sun and the moon grow dark
  • Joel 2:30-31 = the moon into blood, before the great and awesome Day of the LORD comes
  • Joel 3:15 = The sun and moon grow dark
  • Rev. 6:12 = And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;

The stars:

  • Isa 34:4 = all the host of heaven will wear away...All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine, or as one withers from the fig tree.
  • Joel 3:15 = and the stars lose their brightness
  • Rev. 6:13 = and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind

Powers of the heavens:

  • Joel 2:10 = The heavens tremble
  • Hag. 2:6, 21 = I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land...I am going to shake the heavens and the earth.
  • Luke 21:26 = the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
  • Rev. 6:13 = the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.

Matthew 24:36-44 An Ordinary Day - Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. —Matthew 24:42

While exploring a museum exhibit titled "A Day in Pompeii," I was struck by the repeated theme that August 24, 79 AD began as an ordinary day. People were going about their daily business in homes, markets, and at the port of this prosperous Roman town of 20,000 people. At 8 a.m., a series of small emissions were seen coming from nearby Mount Vesuvius, followed by a violent eruption in the afternoon. In less than 24 hours, Pompeii and many of its people lay buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash. Unexpected.

Jesus told His followers that He would return on a day when people were going about their business, sharing meals, and having weddings, with no idea of what was about to happen. "As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. 24:37).

The Lord's purpose was to urge the disciples to be watchful and prepared: "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Mt 24:44). - David McCasland (Copyright Our Daily Bread - All rights reserved)

What surprising joy it would be to welcome our Savior on this ordinary day! 

Perhaps today!

Matthew 24:30 And 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: kai tote phanesetai (3SFPI) to semeion tou huiou tou anthropou en ourano kai tote kopsontai (3PFMI) pasai ai phulai tes ges kai opsontai (3PFMI) ton huion tou anthropou erchomenon (PMPMSA) epi ton nephelon tou ouranou meta dunameos kai doxes polles:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

KJV And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

NET Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

ESV Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and 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.

NIV "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

NLT And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

YLT and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in the heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth smite the breast, and they shall see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of the heaven, with power and much glory;

Parallel passages

Mark 13:26 “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory

Lk 21:27 “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory.

THE ULTIMATE SIGN:
THE KING IN HIS GREAT GLORY!

 

And then - Jesus is linking His return to the cataclysmic cosmic signs just described in Mt 24:29. Notice that the use of then marks progression. First the cosmic signs, then the coming Son! At His first coming it was John the Baptist who heralded His arrival. At His second coming, cosmic signs will herald the arrival of the ultimate Sign, the Savior Himself!

Then (5119) (tote) is an expression of time which means "At that time." When is Then? After the celestial signs just mentioned in Mt 24:39, then they see the sign of all signs! This sign cannot be missed or mistaken by anyone on planet earth! Note the second use of then marks the time of mourning. First the sign and then the mourning.

When used as an adverb THEN is always worth pausing to ponder and query asking questions like "What time is it? What happens next? Why does this happen now?, etc". When then is used (as determined by the context) to be an expression of time or "time phrase", it usually indicates sequence and thus marks that which is next in order of time, soon after that, following next after in order of position, narration or enumeration, being next in a series (See English definitions or here). Observing then can be very useful in following the course of events in a chapter or paragraph, especially in eschatological (prophetic) passages - e.g., in Nebuchadnezzar's dream there are several occurrences of "then" (in the NAS) - Da 2:35, Da 2:39, Da 2:40, Da 2:46, Da 2:48-commentary. Compare the uses of then in the Olivet Discourse - Mt 24:9, Mt 24:14, 16, 21, 23, 30 (2 uses!), etc-see commentary.

The sign - There is debate over the specific identification of the sign, but if one takes Jesus' words at face value the answer is obvious. The sign is the Son of Man Himself coming on the clouds with power and great glory! Compare Mt 16:27 and Mt 26:64.

John MacArthur comments that "the sign of signs will be the Son of Man Himself, Who will appear in the sky. Many of the early church Fathers, such as Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Origen, imagined that this sign would be an enormous blazing cross, visible to the entire world, that would pierce the total darkness then shrouding the world. Other interpreters have suggested it will be the Shekinah glory of the Lord's presence returning to earth. It is likely that the Shekinah glory will be involved, as the unveiled Christ Jesus makes His appearance. But the sign is not just His glory; it is Christ Himself, the Son of Man, Who will appear in the sky. The sign of should be translated as a Greek subjective genitive, indicating that the sign will not simply relate to or point to the Son of Man (as with an objective genitive) but will indeed be the Son of Man. In other words, Jesus Himself will be the supreme and final sign of His coming. In the midst of the world's unrelieved blackness-physical, emotional, and spiritual-Jesus Christ will manifest Himself in His infinite and undiminished glory and righteousness. Just as the destructive catastrophes of the Great Tribulation will be utterly unparalleled (v. 21), so will be this manifestation of the glory and power of Christ. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Zodhiates agrees noting that "It is most natural, then, to take the genitival expression, "of the Son of man...in the sky," appositionally = "of" meaning "which is," that is, the sign which is the physical appearance of Christ in the sky. Corroborative evidence for this is that Jesus cited Zechariah's prophecy, "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him" (Zech. 12:10), a clear prediction of the conversion of Jews who personally witness Christ's physical return. "BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen." (Rev. 1:7; cf. Rom. 11:26). This sign is similar to the sign Jesus gave during His first coming to that "generation" (Mk 8:12). When the Pharisees demanded proof of His authority, Jesus characterized their generation-and every generation that seeks signs-as wicked and adulterous, adding that no sign would be given other than His resurrection typified by Jonah's supernatural rescue from the body of the great fish (Mt. 12:39, 40; see Jonah 1:17) after three days. (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)

Recall that in Mt 24:3-note the disciples asked "what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Jesus now answered their question and gave them the sign - Himself!

Sign (4592)(semeion akin to semaino = to give a sign; sema = a sign) is a distinguishing mark or symbol that carries a special meaning.

Will appear (will shine) (5316)(phaino from phos = light) means to give light, to illuminate, to shine and to appear. Figuratively phaino speaks of the Word of God as shining in a dark place (2Pe 1:19-note). John used phaino to describe the glorified Jesus' face (Rev 1:16-note). Here in Mt 24:30 phaino obviously refers to the Second Coming of Christ.

In the sky ("in heaven" - KJV, ESV) (3772)(ouranos) See Heaven, Heavenly - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words

When Messiah returns everything changes, even as it did when He came into each of our hearts the moment we believed in Him! Israel will mourn over Him (Zech 12:10, cf Mt 24:30-note, Rev 1:7-note). When He comes unrepentant Israel (two thirds!) will be destroyed (Zech 13:8). Repentant Israel, the believing remnant, will believe in Him Whom they have pierced and ALL will be saved (Ro 11:26, 27-note = "All" of the third that come through the "refining fires" [Zech 13:9, Da 12:10-note] of the time of Jacob's distress - Jer 30:7-note, the time of distress such as has never occurred - Da 12:1-note, the Great Tribulation that begins when the Jews in Jerusalem see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place -Mt 24:15-note, Mt 24:21-note). They will be saved because Messiah "will sprinkle clean water on" them and they "will be clean." He "will cleanse (them) from all (their) filthiness and from all (their idols)." (Ezek 36:25-note, cp fulfillment of Da 9:24-note) and "give (them) a new heart and put a new spirit within (them) and...will remove the heart of stone from (their) flesh and give (them) a heart of flesh. And (He) will put (His) Spirit within (them) and cause (them) to walk in (His) statutes, and (they) will be careful to observe (His) ordinances (because now they have the law written in their heart - Jer 31:31, 32, 33,34-note) and (they) will live in the land (of Israel - in the Millennium) that (He) gave to (their) forefathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), so (they) will be (His) people and (He) will be (their) God." (Ezek 36:26, 27,28-note).

Glorious Day
One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Chorus:
Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me
Chorus

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He's ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again
Chorus

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine
Chorus

Glorious day, Oh, Glorious day

THE SON OF MAN
COMING IN THE CLOUDS

They will see (horao) means to see with the eyes and to perceive what one sees. Thus they will understand the significance of the sign of the Son and of what is transpiring and this will result in mourning. There will be no double vision or blurring in this day. The vision of the King will be clear. No one will be texting! All eyes will be on the King! And every sinner will be exposed to the Light of the world (Jn 8:12) and they will mourn as they begin to fully grasp that their eternal destiny will be hell. (See John MacArthur's thoughts below on two groups of mourners).

Son of Man coming in the clouds - Jesus is quoting from the book of Daniel (see below), the same book to which Jesus directed the reader in Mt 24:15-note.

Jesus used the title Son of Man throughout His ministry, so the disciples who first heard this discourse would have little doubt regarding about whom Jesus was speaking -- Himself!

Son of Man - 88x in 84v (note predominant use in Gospels) -

Matt 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40; 13:37, 41; 16:13, 27f; 17:9, 12, 22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18, 28; 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44; 25:31; 26:2, 24, 45, 64; Mark 2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33, 45; 13:26; 14:21, 41, 62; Luke 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8, 31; 19:10; 21:27, 36; 22:22, 48, 69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13f; 5:27; 6:27, 53, 62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23, 34; 13:31; Acts 7:56; Heb 2:6; Rev 1:13; 14:14

Matthew has two other descriptions of the Son of Man returning...

Mt 16:27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

Mt 26:64 Jesus *said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."

ESV Study Bible - The return of Christ is a literal event, in which Christ "will come in the same way" that the disciples "saw him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). ( ESV Study Bible BORROW) 

Coming (erchomai) is in the present tense picturing His coming as a process. In fact the present participle of érchomai is frequently used to describe Jesus' return to earth (Mt 16:28, 24:30, 26:64, Mk 11:9; 13:26; 14:62, Lk 21:27; Jn 1:9, 15, 27; 3:31; 6:14; 11:27; 12:13, cp Spirit of God "coming to rest on Him" Mt 3:16).

DANIEL DESCRIBES THE COMING
OF THE SON OF MAN

Daniel 7 records the Son of Man coming after first describing the sequential rise and fall of the great Gentile kingdoms represented by four beasts, the fourth being a dreadful and terrifying beast (the Roman Empire). This last beast at some point in time in the future will be revived and consist of 10 horns (all existing at the same time and not sequential) which are 10 kings (kingdoms - Da 7:24) out of which will arise an eleventh horn, which is described as as Little Horn (aka "the Beast" in Da 7:11, Rev 13:4-5, the Antichrist, in 1Jn 2:18, the man of lawlessness in 2Th 2:3-4, etc). So let's review the great prophecy in Daniel 7:

After this (Da 7:1-6 - After the vision of the first 3 beasts) I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast (note), dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet (Which is exactly what the Roman Empire did); and it was different from all the beasts that were before it (Now we encounter a gap in time from the historical Roman Empire to a future "Revived Roman Empire"), and it had ten horns (Da 7:24-note = 10 kings ~ kingdoms = Da 2:44-note = "10 toes" Da 2:42-note). 8 "While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one (the "little horn" = the Antichrist), came up among them (Note this crucial detail! "Among them" NOT "after them" = clearly they all were in existence when the Little Horn arose), and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it (the Little Horn); and behold (Call to pay close attention!), this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth uttering great boasts (The Little Horn clearly is an individual, a man). 9 "I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days (God the Father) took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. 10 "A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him. The court sat, and the books were opened. 11 "Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking (the Antichrist); I kept looking until the beast (The name of the Antichrist in Rev 13:4ff-note) was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. (Described in Rev 19:20-note) 12 "As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time (That is, they would exert influence in the form of their culture, science, language, etc until the end of the age terminated by Messiah's return). 13 (note) "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14 "And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom (The Messianic or Millennial Kingdom), that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.. (Da 7:7-14-note)

In Daniel 7 we find another "summary" of the eventual destruction of the Antichrist...

And he ("Little Horn" - Antichrist - see note) will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints (Jewish believers - see Rev 12:6-note and Rev 12:14-note) of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law (cp Daniel 9:27-note = "he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering"); and they (the saints - in context refers primarily to the Jews/Israel) will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time (3.5 years = which begins when he stands in the Holy Place - Mt 24:15-note; see Identical time Phrases = 3.5 years, "Time, times, half a time", 42 mo, 1260 days). But the court will sit for judgment, and his (the Antichrist's) dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever (cf Da 7:11). (Daniel 7:25-26-note)

A TIME OF MOURNING
FOR THE WORLD

Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn - When will they mourn? When they see the sign of the Son of Man! Notice that they will have no trouble recognizing the sign, because it is the Son! Unbelievers will clearly mourn because of they now know for certain Jesus is not a myth, but a Man Who will be their Judge! Paul expounds on this aspect of His return writing...

For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those (unbelievers) who afflict you (believers), and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (unbelievers). (2Thes 1:6-8)

All the tribes - This refers not just to the members of the 12 tribes of Israel but to the entire world (Jews and Gentiles) (cp Rev 7:9-note)

Tribes (5443)(phule) refers to "a company of people united by kinship or habitation, a clan, tribe," is used (a) of the peoples of the earth, Mt 24:30; in the following the RV has "tribe(-s)" for AV, "kindred(-s)," Revelation 1:7; 5:9; 7:9; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6 (b) of the "tribes" of Israel, Matthew 19:28; Luke 2:36; 22:30; Acts 13:21; Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5; Hebrews 7:13,14; James 1:1; Revelation 5:5; 7:4-8; 21:12." ( Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

Phule - 31x in 23v Usage: tribe (23), tribes (8) - Matt 19:28; 24:30; Luke 2:36; 22:30; Acts 13:21; Rom 11:1; Phil 3:5; Heb 7:13f; Jas 1:1; Rev 1:7; 5:5, 9; 7:4ff; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 21:12

Phule 322v in the Septuagint (Lxx) -

Gen 10:5, 18, 20, 31f; 12:3; 24:4, 38, 40f; 28:14; 36:40; 49:16; Exod 2:1; 24:4; 28:21; 31:2, 6; 35:30, 34; 38:22f; 39:14; Lev 24:11; 25:49; Num 1:4, 16, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43f, 47, 49; 2:5, 7, 12, 14, 20, 22, 27, 29; 3:6; 4:18; 7:2, 12, 18; 10:15f, 19f, 23f, 26f; 13:2, 4ff; 17:3; 18:2; 24:2; 25:5; 26:55; 27:11; 30:1; 31:4ff; 32:28, 33; 33:54; 34:13ff, 18ff; 36:1, 3ff, 7ff, 12; Deut 1:13, 23; 3:13; 5:23; 10:8; 12:5, 14; 16:18; 18:1, 5; 29:8, 18; 33:5; Josh 1:12; 3:12; 4:2, 4f, 12; 7:1, 14, 16; 11:23; 12:6f; 13:7f, 14f, 29; 14:1f, 4; 15:1, 20f; 16:8; 17:1; 18:2, 4, 7, 11; 19:8f, 16, 23, 31, 39, 47, 51; 20:8; 21:1, 4ff, 9, 16f, 20, 23, 25, 27f, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40; 22:1, 7, 9ff, 13ff, 21, 30ff; 23:4; 24:1; Judg 18:1, 19, 30; 20:2, 10, 12; 21:3, 5f, 8, 15, 17, 24; Ruth 3:11; 4:10; 1 Sam 9:21; 10:19, 21; 15:17; 20:6, 29; 2 Sam 5:1; 7:7; 15:2, 10; 19:9; 20:14; 24:2; 1 Kgs 7:14; 11:32; 12:24; 14:21; 18:31; 2 Kgs 17:18; 21:7; 1 Chr 5:18, 23, 26; 6:60ff, 65f, 70ff, 74, 76ff, 80; 12:31, 37; 17:6; 23:14; 26:32; 27:16, 20ff; 2 Chr 5:2; 6:5; 11:16; 12:13; 33:7; Ezra 6:17; Esth 1:1; 2:5; 3:13; 4:17; Ps 72:17; 78:55, 67f; 105:37; 122:4; Prov 14:34; Isa 19:13; 49:6; 63:17; Ezek 19:11, 14; 20:32; 21:13; 37:19; 45:8; 47:13, 21ff; 48:1, 19, 23, 29, 31; Dan 3:2, 4, 7, 29; 4:1; 5:19; 6:25; 7:14; Hos 5:9; Amos 1:5, 8; 3:1f, 12; Mic 2:3; 5:1; 6:9; Nah 3:4; Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 21; Zech 9:1; 12:12ff; 14:17f;

Garland comments on tribes in the parallel passage (Rev 1:7-note) - In many places, tribes ([phylai]) specifically denotes the Jewish tribes (e.g., Mt. 19:28; Luke 2:36; 22:30; Acts 13:21; Ro 11:1; Heb. 7:13; Php. 3:5; Jas. 1:1; Rev. 5:5-note; Rev 7:4-9-note; Rev 21:12-note). Elsewhere, especially when appearing in the phrase all the tribes, it has a more global meaning (e.g., Mt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7-note) over against the twelve [Jewish] tribes (Mt. 19:28; Luke 22:30; Acts 26:7; Jas. 1:1; Rev. 21:12-note). Tribes is differentiated from nation, people, and tongue in Rev. 7:9-note Rev 11:9-note; Rev 13:7-note. (A Testimony of Jesus Christ)

Will mourn (beat their breasts in anguish)(2875) (kopto - see note below) is in the middle voice which pictures a person beating their breast as a strong expression of personal grief or remorse. (See Kitto's sketch of mourners).

In the context of the end times during the Great Tribulation in which Satan will attempt to finally and fully annihilate the Jewish race, the Zechariah gives a prophecy in which many Jews will mourn when they see Him Whom they have pierced:

(The LORD of hosts is speaking - Zech 13:2) "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. "In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. "The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. "In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. (cp Ro 11:26-27) (Zechariah 12:10-14, 13:1)

WHY WILL THEY MOURN?

Tony Garland on will mourn - "The Jews will mourn because of the awful realization of the truth of the crucifixion of their own Messiah and the subsequent record of history triggered by this most colossal mistake of all history: "Israel must, indeed, be dumb if one asks them today: Tell me, pray: How can it be that the Eternal sent the fathers out of their land into captivity in Babylon for only seventy years, on account of all the abominations and idolatry by which they for centuries defiled the Holy Land:—and now Israel has been dispersed among all peoples for over eighteen hundred years, and Jerusalem, the city of the great King, is trodden down by the nations until this day? What, then, is the great and terrible blood-guiltiness which perpetually prevents you from dwelling in peace in the land of your fathers?—But Israel is not willing to know! And yet it is precisely its sin against its Messiah that is indeed the root of Israel's misery." (Erich Sauer, The Dawn of World Redemption, p 118-119.) The Gentiles too will mourn as they realize the truth of Christianity which they have steadfastly rejected, and the inescapable fact of their impending judgment. John records the astonishing hardness of heart of the "earth dwellers" at the time of the end. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence of God's existence, sovereignty, and power, they will not repent (Rev. 16:9, 11, 21-note). It is our belief that this is one reason Paul says, "now is the day of salvation" (2Cor. 6:2). For every day, every hour, every minute that a person continues to reject the knowledge of God makes it more likely they will never turn to accept the free offer of salvation. Having personally sat with those in their dying days who continue to reject God's free and gracious offer of salvation when they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, we have gained a genuine appreciation regarding the fearful consequences of the continual rejection of the gospel offer. (A Testimony of Jesus Christ - 3.1 - Revelation 1)

John MacArthur has some interesting thoughts on two reactions that will be seen in all the tribes of the earth (who) will mourn - The sight of Him in blazing glory will be so unbearably fearful that rebellious mankind will cry out for the mountains and rocks to fall on them to hide them "from the presence of Him who sits on the throne" (Rev. 6:16-note). But instead of being driven to the Lord in reverent repentance, they will flee from Him in continued rejection, cursing and blaspheming His name (Rev 16:9-note). Some people, however, will be brought to their knees in brokenness, acknowledging their need of God's forgiveness and redemption. When they see the Son of Man in His glory and righteousness, they will finally confess their own wickedness and unrighteousness. There will be some from all the tribes of the earth who will mourn over their rebellion against God and their rejection of His Son. Having heard the gospel proclaimed (Mt 24:14-note; Rev 14:6-note), those people will turn from and mourn over their sin and receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Among the repentant will be many Jews. Through Zechariah the Lord promised His people: "And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born. In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem" (Zech 12:10-11). Having realized that they have rejected their Messiah, they will turn to Him in faith, casting themselves on His mercy. At that time the "fulness of the Gentiles [will have] come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, 'The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob' " (Ro 11:25-26-note; cf. Isa 59:20). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Christ Is Coming

Christ is coming, and all nations shall behold Him;
Every knee shall bow and call Him Lord and king;
Every tongue shall then confess
Of His love and righteousness;
He is coming, all His ransomed home to bring.

Refrain
Christ is coming, Christ is coming,
And His righteousness and glory we shall see;
Christ is coming, Christ is coming,
He is coming soon to welcome you and me.

Christ is coming, not as once—a man of sorrow—
But as king of earth and Heaven He shall reign;
War and strife and greed shall cease,
Over all the earth be peace,
He is coming, Christ the Lamb for sinners slain.
Refrain

Christ is coming, oh, what rapture to behold Him!
Robed in splendor and in glory He shall be;
Darkest night shall flee apace
At the brightness of His face,
Hallelujah! He is coming soon for me.
Refrain

Christ is coming, oh, my people, are you ready?
Can you meet the Lord if He should come tonight?
Will you hear the words, Well done,
Or the awful word, Begone!
He is coming in His glory and His might.
Refrain

COMING ON
THE CLOUDS

They will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY- As described above Matthew is quoting from Daniel 7:13. Note that in the NAS phrases that are in all caps signify a direct quotation from the Old Testament. Unfortunately, the popular ESV does not have this helpful feature.

Jesus had described the sign of the beginning of the Great Tribulation with the sign of the Antichrist (Mt 24:15) and here describes the termination of that terrible time with the sign of the true Christ!

Coming (erchomai) in the present tense depicts Jesus in the process of coming. One pictures Him as regally, majestically in the process of descending, almost as one might picture a king in a coronation ceremony. Indeed, He is the King of kings!

Hiebert on coming - The present tense coming vividly portrays Him in the act of returning.

As an aside it is notable that the return of the King, the Second Coming, is mentioned either directly or indirectly once in every 20-25 NT passages. Clearly the Spirit desires for the Bride to be focused on the Imminent return of Her Bridegroom. Indeed, this truth yields the pragmatic principle of what (Who) you are looking for will (should) determine what (Who) you are living for!

Ray Pritchard - When we think about the Second Coming, we ought to adopt the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Jesus is coming. No one knows the day or the hour so be ready, be prepared, live as if it might be today and you'll be glad to see him when he arrives. We face two dangers whenever we talk about the Second Coming: A. Becoming more concerned about the date and the signs than about his return. B. Ignoring the truth of the Second Coming and living as though he will never return. Frankly, I don't know which is worse. (Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? Why Christ May Come at Any Moment)

Should He come in the dawn of morning,
At noon or at twilight dim,
I only pray that every day
I'll be waiting and watching for Him.
—Bearden

No doctrine is more closely linked to practical daily living
than that of the Lord's return.

Related Resources on Second Coming:

On the clouds - In the OT the Angel of the LORD, the preincarnate Jesus, was associated with clouds (Ex 13:21-22; 14:19, 24). Clouds were associated with God's glory (Ex 40:34-35). Clouds were associated with God's giving of the Law on Mt Sinai and His speaking (Ex 19:9, 16, 24:15, 16).

Passages associating God's presence with clouds include Ex. 16:10; 19:9; 19:16; 24:15-16; 34:5; 40:34; Le 16:2; De 5:22; 33:26; 1Ki 8:10-12; 2Ch 6:1; Job 22:14; Ps 18:11; 68:34; 97:2; 99:7; 104:3; Isa 19:1; Da 7:13; Mt. 17:5; 24:30; 26:64; Mk 9:2; 13:26; 14:62; Lu 9:34; Ac 1:9; 1Th 4:17. See additional note on clouds below

Clouds (3507)(nephele) is a visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the ground (Lxx = Ps 147:8). In the synoptic Gospels 9/10 uses are associated with Jesus, either His transfiguration or His Second Coming. (Mt 17:5; 24:30; 26:64; Mk 9:7; 13:26; 14:62; Lk 9:34, 35; 12:54; 21:27) and in Acts 1:9 with His ascension. In 1Th 4:17 clouds are associated with Jesus and the Rapture. In Jude 1:12 "clouds without water" is a metaphor used to describe the "certain men" who had creep in and who "turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." In 1Cor 10:1-2 "under (in) the cloud" refers to God's presence as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex 13:21, 22).

Zodhiates observes that "Two Greek words are translated "cloud." One is néphos (3509) , a cloudy, shapeless mass covering the sky, used metaphorically for a crowd or throng (Heb 12:1). The other is nephele, a feminine diminutive, meaning a small, formed cloud, such as the pillar that guided the Israelites in the desert during the day (1Cor. 10:1, 2). This latter word is used in connection with the transfiguration of Christ (Mt. 17:5; Lk 9:34, 35); His ascension (Acts 1:9); and His coming again (Mt. 24:30; 26:64; Mk 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; 1Th. 4:17; Rev. 1:7; 14:14-16). (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)

Nephele uses in the Septuagint (Lxx) - The first use in the Septuagint associates the clouds with God's covenant with Noah to never destroy the earth again by flood (Ge 9:13-14, 16). Cloud is associated with glory in Ex 40:34-35 (cp Lev 16:2, See Shekinah Glory). God led Israel in a "pillar of cloud by day." (Ex 13:21, 22, 14:19, 24, Ps 99:7, Ps 105:39) In Ex 16:10 "the Glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud." (33:9) And it came about, whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses. In Ex 33:9 the LORD would speak to Moses from "the pillar of cloud...at the entrance of the tent." In Ex 33:10 &quoquot;When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent." They were not worshiping an inanimate cloud but a manifestation of the Living God. "Clouds are the dust beneath His feet." (Nah 1:3) Clouds are associated with the Day of the Lord ("A day of clouds and thick darkness" - Joel 2:2, Zeph 1:15) Clouds describe the abode of God = "Clouds and thick darkness surround Him" (Ps 97:2, Ps 18:11) Metaphorically describes the extent and greatness of God's truth = "Thy truth to the clouds" (Ps 57:10)

Vine writes nephele is "a definitely shaped cloud, or masses of clouds possessing definite form," is used, besides the physical element, (a) of the "cloud" on the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:5; (b) of the "cloud" which covered Israel in the Red Sea, 1Corinthians 10:1,2; (c), of "clouds" seen in the Apocalyptic visions, Revelation 1:7; 10:1; 11:12; 14:14-16; (d) metaphorically in 2Pe 2:17 , of the evil workers there mentioned; but RV, &ququot;and mists" (homichle), according to the most authentic mss. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 , the "clouds" referred to in connection with the rapture of the saints are probably the natural ones, as also in the case of those in connection with Christ's Second Advent to the earth. See Matthew 24:30; 26:64 , and parallel passages. So at the Ascension, Acts 1:9." (Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

Nephele - 25x in 21v - Mt 17:5; 24:30; 26:64; Mk 9:7; 13:26; 14:62; Lk 9:34, 35; 12:54; 21:27; Acts 1:9; 1Cor 10:1-2; 1Th 4:17; Jude 1:12; Rev 1:7; 10:1; 11:12; 14:14, 15, 16

Nephele - 107v in the Septuagint (Lxx) -

Ge 9:13-14, 16; Ex 13:21-22; 14:19, 24; 16:10; Ex 19:9, 13, 16; Ex 24:15, 16, 18; 33:9, 10; 34:5; 40:34, 35, 36; Lev 16:2; Nu 9:15, 16, 17; 10:11f, 34; 11:25; 12:5, 10; 14:10, 14; 16:42; Deut 1:33; 31:15; Josh 24:7; Jdg 5:4; 2Sa 22:12; 1Ki 8:10f; 18:44f; 2Chr 5:13f; Neh 9:12, 19; Job 26:8; 36:27, 29; 37:11; Ps 18:11-12; 36:5; 57:10; Ps 68:34; 77:17; Ps 78:14, 23; 89:6; 97:2; 99:7; 105:39; Ps 108:4; 135:7; 147:8; Eccl 11:4; Isa 4:5; 5:6; 14:14; 18:4; 19:1; 44:22; 45:8; 60:8; Jer 4:13; 10:13; 51:16; Lam 3:44; Ezek 1:4, 20, 28; 10:3f; 30:18; 31:3, 10, 14; 32:7; 34:12; 38:9, 16; Dan 4:11, 22; 7:13; Hos 6:4; 13:3; Joel 2:2; Nah 1:3; Zeph 1:15; Zech 2:13;

Related Resource on Clouds:

COMING WITH POWER
AND GREAT GLORY

With power and great glory - The ultimate manifestation of His inherent power is the defeat of the Antichrist and all the godless hordes arrayed against Him when He returns. In short, His power is emphasizes that He is capable of fulfilling His role of defeating God's enemies (cf Rev 19:19-21-note). Note that it not just glory but great glory! He will be resplendent when He returns.

John describes Christ's power and great glory in His triumphant return:

And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself (cf "great glory!"). And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies (includes saints - Rev 17:14 and angels - Mt 16:27) which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty (cf "power"). 16And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev 19:11-16-note)

Power (1411)(dunamis from dunamai = to be able, to have power) refers to the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way (power, might, strength, ability, capability), the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. When Jesus returns, His inherent power will be obvious to all.

John MacArthur - In His great power the Lord will conquer and destroy all His enemies, including ungodly men who followed and worshiped the beast, by casting them into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). He will also "make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness" (Dan. 9:24). In the restored and purified earth the destructive nature and instincts of wild animals will be radically reversed to make them docile and harmless. No animal will attack or molest another animal or any human being, and the carnivorous will become vegetarian (Isa 11:6-9). By His power Christ will eliminate drought, floods, crop failures, and starvation. "And it will come about in that day," declared Zechariah, "that living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter" (Zech. 14:8). (Ibid)

Glory (1391)(doxa from dokeo = to think or to recognize) speaks of renown, fame, prestige, splendor, grandeur, majesty. In simple terms it describes that which gives a proper opinion or estimate of something. Thus the glory of the Son of Man expresses all that He is in His majestic Being and in His nature, character, power and acts. There will be NO difficulty in recognizing (having a proper opinion of) Him! "Christ will be properly recognized as the One who was eternally with the Father (Jn 1:1, 2; 17:5; 1Jn 1:1, 2) and became flesh (Jn 1:14), without sin (Heb. 4:15), so that He might be the sacrificial lamb (amnos; Jn 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1Pe 1:19, in contrast to arnion, a living lamb)." (Zodhiates)

To be where God is will be glory. To be what God intended will be glory. To do what God purposed will be glory. The Son of Man will be greatly glorified when He is allowed to be seen by all the world, believers and unbelievers (cf Php 2:11), as He really is! At that time there will be no more excuses or arguments against His existence and His right to rule the world!

MacArthur comments that " no human being has yet seen the full unveiled glory of God in Christ, and no one will ever see it until Jesus appears at His second coming and all mankind sees Him at once. At that time no one will have to ask who He is, for He will be perfectly recognized by every human being on earth. There will be no mistaking His identity then as there was when He came in His incarnation." (Ibid)

Tony Garland on Christ's coming (from his commentary on Revelation 1:7) -

The OT Scriptures predicted a "coming one" (Dt. 18:15-18; Ps. 2; 22; 118:26; Isa. 9:6; 48:16; 53; 61:1; Jer. 23:5-8; Dan. 9:25; Mic. 5:2; Zec. 2:8-11; 6:12-15; etc.). This was the expectation of those among whom Jesus ministered (John 1:21; 1:45; 6:14; 7:40). John the Baptist knew of these predictions and sent his disciples to Jesus inquiring, " 'Are You the Coming One (erchomenos] ), or do we look for another?' " [emphasis added] (Mat. 11:3; Luke 7:19). Peter and Stephen explained it was Jesus who fulfilled these predictions (Acts 3:22; 7:37).

Yet this Coming One represented a Scriptural enigma. At times, He was said to be victorious king who would reign forever (Nu 24:17; Isa. 9:6-7). But He was also forsaken, despised, rejected, and crushed (Ps. 22; Isa. 53). How could these seeming contradictions be reconciled? Some chose to apply these passages to two different individuals, a "suffering Messiah" (Messiah ben-Joseph) and a "victorious Messiah" (Messiah ben-David). 76 Others held that the fulfillments were mutually exclusive and which would eventuate depended upon the obedience of Israel. 77

The key which unlocks this mystery is the resurrection of Messiah (Ps. 16:10; Isa. 53:10). He would come once, die for the sins of the world, be resurrected back to life, and come a second time in judgment. His First Coming, death, and resurrection are now past. All that remains is His reappearance as described to John here and elsewhere in the NT. "It has been estimated that one out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament refers to the Second Coming."78

Jesus came the first time in humiliation; He will return in exaltation. He came the first time to be killed; He will return to kill His enemies. He came the first time to serve; He will return to be served. He came the first time as the suffering servant; He will return as the conquering king. The challenge the book of Revelation makes to every person is to be ready for His return.79

He is coming (present tense) and every eye will see Him (future tense). The grammar places the event on the edge between the present and the future—the futuristic present. It is 'about to occur.' It is imminent:

The verb form [erchetai] is an example of the futuristic use of the present tense, the future connotation being provided by the word's meaning. The idea is that Christ is already on His way, i.e., He is in the process of coming and hence will arrive. This use of the present tense enhances emphasis on the imminence of that coming (cf. [erchomai] , John 14:3).80

This same verb is used directly or indirectly eleven more times in this book in reference to the return of Christ (cf. Rev. 1:4,8; Rev 2:5, Rev 2:16; Rev 3:11; Rev 4:8; Rev 16:15; Rev 22:7, 12, 20 [twice]), seven coming from the lips of Christ Himself (Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:11; 16:15; 22:7, 12, 20). The current verse (Rev 1:7) obviously is the theme verse for the whole book (of Revelation). 81 (A Testimony of Jesus Christ - 3.1 - Revelation 1)

Bibliography:

76 "The first messiah, 'Messiah son of Joseph,' who suffered in Egypt would come to suffer and die to fulfill the servant passages [Isa. 49:1-26; 53]. The second messiah, 'Messiah son of David,' would then come and raise the first Messiah back to life. He would then establish His Kingdom to rule and to reign."—Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998), 57.

77 "As described in Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a): 'Rabbi Joseph the son of Levi objects that it is written in one place "Behold one like the son of man comes with the clouds of heaven," but in another place it is written "lowly and riding upon an ass." The solution is, if they be righteous he shall come with the clouds of heaven, but if they not be righteous he shall come lowly riding upon an ass.' ' "—Ibid., 66.

78 MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 1:7.

79 Ibid.

80 Robertson, Robertson's Word Pictures in Six Volumes, s.v. "The verb form ."

81 Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 76.

Garland comments on with the clouds in the Rev 1:7-

Clouds are often associated with the glory of the Lord. Clouds were often one aspect of the visible manifestation of the Lord's presence (Ex. 16:10; 19:9, 16; 24:15-16; 34:5; 40:34; Dt 5:22). Clouds indicated His presence over the mercy seat where He dwelt between the cherubim (Lev. 16:2). During Solomon's prayer dedicating the Temple, he recognized God's habitation as the dark cloud (2Chr. 6:1). In response, the glory of the Lord filled the Temple (2Chr. 7:1), no doubt including a manifestation of clouds. The psalmist understood dark clouds to be God's canopy (Ps. 18:11; Ps. 97:2).

The manifestation of God by clouds indicates His localized presence on the earth, among men:

the Shekinah Glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God. It is the majestic presence or manifestation of God in which He descends to dwell among men. Whenever the invisible God becomes visible, and whenever the omnipresence of God is localized, this is the Shechinah Glory. The usual title found in Scriptures for the Shechinah Glory is the glory of Jehovah, or the glory of the Lord. The Hebrew form is Kabod Adonai, which means "the glory of Jehovah" and describes what the Shechinah Glory is. The Greek title, Doxa Kurion, is translated as "the glory of the Lord." Doxa means "brightness," "brilliance," or "splendor," and it depicts how the Shechinah Glory appears. Other titles give it the sense of "dwelling," which portrays what the Shechinah Glory does. The Hebrew word Shechinah, from the root shachan, means "to dwell." The Greek word skeinei, which is similar in sound as the Hebrew Shechinah (Greek has no "sh" sound), means "to tabernacle" . . . In the Old Testament, most of these visible manifestations took the form of light, fire, or cloud, or a combination of these. A new form appears in the New Testament: the Incarnate Word. 82

The visible manifestation of God indicating the place where he dwelt has been called the "Shekinah" glory from the Hebrew verb Å¡akan meaning "dwell, live among, inhabit, abide, stay, remain, camp, i.e., to live or reside in a place, usually for a relatively long amount of time (Ge. 9:27)."83 See The Abiding Presence of God.

The cloud is probably not to be interpreted as a vapor cloud or as a storm cloud, but as a cloud of glory betokening the presence of God. . . . The "cloud," then, may be the cloud of the Shekinah, which led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the desert, and which overshadowed the Tabernacle and the Temple (Ex. 13:21-22; 40:34; Num. 9:15-16; 2Chr. 7:2-3).84

When Jesus revealed His glory to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, the voice of the Father spoke from within a bright cloud saying, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" (Mat. 17:5). Jesus explained His appearance with the clouds to be the sign of His coming (Mat. 24:30) and His mention of "coming on the clouds of heaven" (Mat. 26:64) was understood by the high priest as a blasphemous claim (Mat. 26:64-65). He tore his garments in response, a clear indication of his understanding of what Jesus was claiming (Da 7:13).

John's mention here of Jesus coming with clouds is an allusion from the book of Daniel which records the presentation of the Son to the Father: "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him." (Da 7:13). This presentation of the Son is to receive His kingdom (Da 7:14) and does not take place until all of His enemies are made His footstool (Ps. 110:1). This includes His future enemy, Daniel's "little horn" (Da 7:8, 20-21). At present, He is seated at the right hand of the Father awaiting that day. The Son began the period of sitting at the right hand and waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool at His ascension (Acts 2:32-35; Heb. 10:11-13). His earthly kingdom did not come at the time of His ascension, but occurs when He rises from His seat beside the Father and descends to take up His Davidic throne on earth (Mat. 25:31; Luke 1:32-33).85

At other times, the Lord is said to ride "on a swift cloud" (Isa. 19:1). It is such a passage which provides the basis for the preterist interpretation which holds that this verse is describing a "cloud coming" in judgment upon a nation. Such a judgment in the OT was not attended by a literally visible manifestation of God. Yet here, we are explicitly told that every eye will see Him. Not just the "clouds of judgment," but Him! This return of Jesus will be with clouds, bodily, and visible as the angels informed His disciples at the time of His ascension (Acts 1:9-11). His return is the subject of the latter portion of Revelation 19. If this were a "judgment coming" of Christ in A.D. 70 upon the Jews of Jerusalem as the preterists claim, what relevance would that have to the seven churches of Asia who were hundreds of miles away and virtually unaffected by the event?86

As our discussion regarding the Date the Revelation was written shows, the best evidence supports a late date near the end of Domitian's reign when John had the vision (A.D. 95-96). That being the case, the "coming" described here cannot refer to the "cloud coming in judgment" to destroy Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as the Preterist Interpretation holds.

Bibliography:

82 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 500.

83 James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), Rev. 1:7.

84 Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, 121.

85 See Revelation 3:11 which clarifies the distinction between the throne of the Father versus the throne of the Son.

86 Even preterists admit that some cloud coming passages relate to the Second Coming. "Preterists such as Gentry do see some passages that have 'cloud language' as referring to the Second Coming (Acts 1:9-11; 1Th 4:13-17)"—Thomas Ice, "Hermeneutics and Bible Prophecy," in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 79.

"Another hermeneutical shortcoming of preterism relates to the limiting of the promised coming of Christ in Rev. 1:7 to Judea [the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD]. What does a localized judgment hundreds of miles away have to do with the seven churches of Asia? John uses two long chapters in addressing those churches regarding the implications of the coming of Christ for them. For instance, the promise to shield the Philadelphian church from judgment (Rev. 3:10-11-note) is meaningless if that judgment occurs far beyond the borders of that city."—Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 225.

Will mourn (2875) (kopto) means literally (in the active voice) to cut off (as when Messiah entered Jerusalem to begin His final week on earth = Mt 21:8 = "cutting branches from the trees," Mk 11:8 = "leafy branches which they had cut from the fields"; this same sense in Lxx = Nu 13:24; Jdg 9:48). The more common usage is figurative = In the middle voice kopto means to beat one's body with the hands (especially one's breast) as an act of mourning or lamentation (Mt 24:30, Mt 11:17, Lk 23:27; Lxx - 1Ki 13:28, 2Ki 1:12, 11:26, Zech 7:5, Ge 23:2, 1Ki 25:1).

Liddell-Scott-Jones on secular uses of kopto - (I) cut, strike - (1) smite (as "smote him on the cheek"), (2) smite with weapons (as in Lxx of Josh 10:20, (3) smite, slaughter an animal with an ax or mallet, (4) cut off, chop off - cut down or fell trees; pass, of ships to be shattered, disabled by the enemy; being suddenly stopped, arrested, (5) strike, beat a horse, to make him go faster, (6) hammer, forge; later, stamp metal, i.e. coin money, — Med., coin oneself money, order to be coined, — Pass., of money, to be stamped or coined (7) knock or rap at (as at a door); (8) pound in a mortar, i.e., pure oil. (9). knock, dash about, (10) of birds, peck, peck at; of fish, gnaw; of a snake, strike, — Passive = of wood or seeds, to be worm-eaten,

TDNT on kopto especially on its use in sense of mourning -

A. The General Custom of Mourning.

1. In Greek, as in many other tongues, "to beat" takes on the specific sense "to mourn." Women especially beat their breasts in mourning (men beat themselves in remorse or pain). The idea is probably to give bodily expression to grief, though there may be an underlying cultic (even sacrificial) concept.

2. Lamentation for the dead takes other external forms, e.g., outcries punctuating individual laments (often by paid mourners supplementing women relatives).

3. The common posture of mourning is sitting on the ground. We also read of a death dance in which women may beat their cheeks to the wail of tambourines.

4. The reasons for noisy lamentation are varied, e.g., frightening off demons, cultic honoring of the dead, and the kindling of sympathy.

B. Mourning in the Greek and Roman World.

I. Popular Mourning.

1. Beating the body and loud crying are customary in Greece from early days. They probably come to Greece from the Near East.

2. Solon legislates against extreme violence and extravagance at funerals, as does Roman law, but the customs continue at the showing of the corpse and the interment, and in Rome burial societies are formed to meet the high costs. Philosophy expresses abhorrence of exaggerated mourning.

3. As a chief part of mourning, beating the body (kopetos) comes to be used for mourning itself. The verb, originally used with the part of the body beaten, is thus found in the absolute or with the accusative of the person lamented.

4. In the Near East women are the main mourners (either relatives or paid professionals). Their purpose is to express grief, to honor the dead, to stir up sympathy, and to ease the grief of relatives with consoling thoughts. Women are the mourners in Greece too. Solon tries to restrict them to relatives, but we find paid mourners in Athens. These may include both sexes in both Greece and the Near East, and sometimes we find men as well as women beating their breasts, rumpling their hair, and scratching their cheeks in mourning.

Resources on Mourning or Grieving:

Moulton-Milligan give examples of secular uses of kopto - in its original sense of ";cut"; may be illustrated by ";those who have cut down wood on their own property"; "machinery of the wheel for cutting"; "have two beams cut at once for oil-presses", "the acacia-wood which has been cut "; "he wishes to cut down some trees, so that those which are to be cut down may be cut. skillfully"

Kopto - 8x - Usage: cut(1), cutting(1), lament(1), lamenting(1), mourn(3), mourning(1).

Matthew 11:17 and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'

Matthew 21:8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.

Matthew 24:30 "And 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.

Mark 11:8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.

Luke 8:52 Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, "Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep."

Luke 23:27 And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting (threneo as did wailers at a funeral dirge) Him.

Revelation 1:7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

Revelation 18:9 And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning,

Kopto - 77 uses in the Septuagint (Lxx)- Gen 23:2; 50:10; Ex 27:20; 29:40; Lev 24:2; Num 13:23f; Deut 19:5; 25:18; Josh 10:20; 11:8; Jdg 1:4-5 (defeated - Lxx = "smote"), Jdg 1:17; 9:48f; 1Sa 25:1; 28:3; 2Sa 1:12; 3:31; 5:20, 24; 11:26; 1Kgs 5:6, 11; 11:15; 12:24; 13:30f; 2Kgs 19:23; 2Chr 2:8, 10, 16; 34:4, 7; Esther 5:14; Eccl 3:4; 12:5; Isa 10:15; 14:8; 15:3; 32:12; 37:24; 44:14; Jer 4:8; 8:2; 16:4ff; 22:18; 23:29; 25:34; 34:5; 41:5; 46:5, 13, 22; 47:5; 48:2, 37; 49:3; Ezek 6:9; 9:5, 7f; 20:43; 24:16, 23; 39:10; Joel 1:13; Mic 1:8, 11; Hag 1:8; Zech 7:5; 12:10, 12; 14:12

Here are some representative OT passages that use kopto:

Jeremiah 23:29 "Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters (Heb = patsats = to break; Lxx = kopto = cuts) a rock?

Zechariah 12:10-note (describes the Second Coming just as here in Mt 24:30) "And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they (the Jews) will mourn (Lxx = kopto) for Him (Ed: for their long awaited Messiah, mourning because they "missed Him" in His first advent), as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.

Zechariah 12:12-note "And the land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves;

Ezekiel 6:9-note "Then those of you who escape (Ezek 6:8 - see remnant) will remember Me among the nations to which they will be carried captive (Ed: they were only in Babylon and Assyria now -- this implies a future worldwide dispersion of Israel and the remnant will "remember" the Messiah and believe in Him - see Zech 12:10 above, cp Ro 11:26-27-note), how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts (Ed: Our sin "hurts" God!!!) which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which played the harlot after their idols; and they will loathe themselves (feel intense disgust) (Heb = qut; Lxx = kopto = mourn - see the fulfillment of this prophecy in Zech 12:10!) in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations.

Ezekiel 20:43 (Context - Ezek 20:40-42 - the end times when "all Israel will be saved") "There you will remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves (feel intense disgust) (Heb = qut; Lxx = kopto = mourn - see the fulfillment of this prophecy in Zech 12:10!) in your own sight for all the evil things that you have done. (Ed: I cannot read this without personalizing it -- how many times I have presumptively transgressed God's good will and His goodness later to confess and repent and be overwhelmed with a sense of disgust or loathing! Perhaps some of you reading this can identify with what I am saying.)

Then (5119)(tote) is an adverb that functions as an expression of time. Tote means at that time or a point of time subsequent to another point of time. Tote is used with when (hote) and translated "when...then." (Mt 9:15, 13:26, 21:1, Mt 25:31, Lk 5:35, 14:10, 21:20, John 7:10, 8:28, 11:6, 12:15 Acts 13:12 [inverted order], Acts 28:1, 1Cor 15:28, 54, 2Cor 12:10, Col 3:4). Tote also functions as a marker = "at that time." (Mt 2:17) Finally, tote is used in narration to introduce what follows in time (Mt 2:7). Matthew has 89/158 NT uses (about 57%) of tote with the next most frequent book being Acts with 21 uses.

Here is the analysis of tote by Dr Spiros Zodhiates -

(I) In general prepositions marking succession, e.g., after proton (4412), first (Matt. 5:24; 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 6:42; John 2:10). With hótan (3752), when, (Luke 11:26; 21:20; John 2:10; 2 Cor. 12:10).

(II) Of time past, e.g., with a notation of time preceding, with hóte (3753), when (Matt. 13:26; 21:1; John 12:16); with hōs (5613), as (John 7:10; 11:6); with metá (3326), after, with the acc. (John 13:27). After a word denoting time (Acts 27:21; 28:1). As the opposite to nún (3568), now (Rom. 6:21; Gal. 4:8, 9, 29; Heb. 12:26); euthéōs (2112), immediately, straight away, followed by tóte, then, at that time (Acts 17:14). Where the notation of time lies in the context and is often equivalent to thereupon, after that (Matt. 2:7, 17; 3:5, 13, meaning after this, 3:15; 4:1; 26:3; John 19:1, 16; Acts 1:12; 10:46, 48; Heb. 10:7, 9; Sept.: Gen. 13:7; Ezra 4:23, 24). Apó tóte (apó [575], from), from then, from that time (Matt. 4:17; 16:21; 26:16; Luke 16:16; Sept.: Eccl. 8:12). With the art. as adj., ho tóte kósmos (2889), world, "the then world" (a.t. [2 Pet. 3:6]).

(III) Of a time future, e.g., with hótan (3752), at the time when (Matt. 25:31; Mark 13:14; Luke 5:35; 14:10; 21:20; John 8:28; 1 Cor. 13:10; 16:2; 1Th 5:3). Meaning then or when (Luke 13:26; 21:27; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2Th. 2:8; Sept.: Ex. 12:44, 48). (Complete Word Study Dictionary- New Testament - highly recommended).

Tote - 160x in 158v the NT - NAS Usage: then (146), at that time (7), that time (3). (Translated "when" in 1Cor 16:2)

Matthew 2:7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.

16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

Matthew 3:5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan;

13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.

15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"

11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 5:24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Matthew 7:5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

Matthew 8:26 He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.

Matthew 9:6 "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins "-- then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home."

14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?"

15 And Jesus said to them, "The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, "It shall be done to you according to your faith."

37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Matthew 11:20 Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.

Matthew 12:13 Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand!" He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.

22 Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw.

29 "Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You."

44 "Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.

45 "Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."

Matthew 13:26 "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."

43 "Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 15:1Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,

12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?"

28 Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once.

Matthew 16:12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

Matthew 17:13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?"

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"

32 "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.

Matthew 19:13 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them.

27 Then Peter said to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?"

Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.

Matthew 21:1 When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

Matthew 22:8 "Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.

13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.

21 They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."

Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,

Matthew 24:9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him.

30 "And 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.

40 "Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

Matthew 25:1"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

7 "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.

31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

44 "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'

45 "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

Matthew 26:3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas;

14 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests

16 From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.

31 Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.'

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."

38 Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."

45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

50 And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.

52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

56 "But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets." Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy;

67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him,

74 Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a rooster crowed.

Matthew 27:3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

9 Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel;

13 Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?"

16 At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.

26 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him.

38 At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.

58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.

Matthew 28:10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me."

Mark 2:20 "But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

Mark 3:27 "But no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

Mark 13:14 "But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

21 "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him;

26 "Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.

27 "And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

Luke 5:35 "But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days."

Luke 6:42 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.

Luke 11:24 "When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any [then], it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.'

26 "Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."

Luke 13:26 "Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets';

Luke 14:9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this man,' and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.

10 "But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.

21 "And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.'

Luke 16:16 "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.

Luke 21:10 Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom,

20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

21 "Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city;

27 "Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory.

Luke 23:30 "Then they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, 'FALL ON US,' AND TO THE HILLS, 'COVER US.'

Luke 24:45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,

John 7:10 But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret.

John 8:28 So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.

John 10:22 At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem;

John 11:6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.

14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead,

John 12:16 These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.

John 13:27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly."

John 19:1 Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him.

16 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

John 20:8 So (then) the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed.

Acts 1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people,

Acts 5:26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).

Acts 6:11 Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God."

Acts 7:4 "Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living.

Acts 8:17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,

48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Acts 13:3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.

Acts 15:22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas-- Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,

Acts 17:14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there.

Acts 21:13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.

33 Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done.

Acts 23:3 Then Paul said to him, "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?"

Acts 25:12 Then when Festus had conferred with his council, he answered, "You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go."

Acts 26:1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense:

Acts 27:21 When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, "Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss.

32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship's boat and let it fall away.

Acts 28:1 When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta.

Romans 6:21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

1 Corinthians 15:28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.

1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when (tote) I come.

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Galatians 4:8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.

29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.

Galatians 6:4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.

2 Thessalonians 2:8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

Hebrews 10:7 "THEN I SAID, 'BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.'"

9 then He said, "BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL." He takes away the first in order to establish the second.

Hebrews 12:26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN."

2 Peter 3:6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.

Tote - 286v in the Septuagint -

Gen 12:6; 13:7; 24:41; 49:4; Ex 12:44, 48; 15:1, 15; 21:6; 33:23; Lev 22:7; 26:34, 41, 43; Num 21:17; Deut 4:41; 28:13, 29; 29:20; Josh 1:8; 6:10; 8:30; 10:12, 33; 22:1; Judg 5:8, 11, 13, 19, 22; 8:3; 13:21; 1Sa 6:3; 25:34; 2Sa 2:27; 5:24; 15:34; 19:6; 21:17f; 23:14f; 1 Kgs 2:35; 3:1, 16; 8:1, 12; 9:9, 11; 11:7; 16:21, 28; 2Kgs 5:3; 8:22; 12:17; 13:19; 14:8; 15:16; 16:5; 1 Chr 11:16; 14:15; 15:2; 16:7, 33; 20:4; 22:13; 2 Chr 5:2; 6:1; 8:12, 17; 21:10; 24:17; 36:4; Ezra 4:23f; 5:2, 4f, 9, 16; 6:1, 13; Neh 2:16; Esth 2:13; 4:16; 7:10; 9:31; Job 1:12; 2:2; 11:6; 13:20; 19:29; 20:7; 28:27; 33:16, 27; 38:21; Ps 2:5; 19:13; 40:7; 51:19; 69:4; 76:7; 89:19; 93:2; 96:12; 119:6, 92; 126:2; Prov 2:5, 9; 3:8; 23:33; Eccl 2:15; 8:10, 12; Isa 8:16; 20:2; 28:25; 30:15, 23; 35:5f; 41:1; 44:8; 45:21; 58:8ff; 60:5; 65:25; Jer 11:18; 19:1; 22:22; 31:13; Ezek 32:14; Dan 2:12, 14f, 17, 19, 25, 35, 46, 48; 3:8, 13, 18f, 21, 24, 26, 30; 4:19; 5:6f, 9f, 13, 17, 29; 6:3f, 6, 9, 11ff, 18ff, 23ff; 7:1, 11, 19; 11:45; Hos 2:7; Hab 1:11; Zeph 3:9, 11

Then is frequently used in the Lxx of prophecy of Daniel...

(Da 2:14) Then (When? Da 2:13) Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king's bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon;

(Da 2:17) Then (When? Da 2:16) Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter,

(Da 2:19) Then (When? Da 2:18) the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven;

(Da 2:25) Then (When? Da 2:24) Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king's presence and spoke to him as follows: "I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!"

(Da 2:35) "Then (When? Da 2:34) the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

(Da 2:46) Then (When? 2:45) King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense.

(Da 2:48) Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.

(Da 3:8) For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews.

(Da 3:13) Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king.

(Da 3:18) "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."

(Da 3:21) Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire.

(Da 3:24) Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he responded and said to his high officials, "Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "Certainly, O king."

(Da 3:26) Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!" Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire.

(Da 3:30) Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.

(Da 4:19) "Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, 'Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.' Belteshazzar answered and said, 'My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries!

(Da 5:6) Then the king's face grew pale, and his thoughts alarmed him; and his hip joints went slack, and his knees began knocking together.

(Da 5:9) Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, his face grew even paler, and his nobles were perplexed.

(Da 5:13) Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, "Are you that Daniel who is one of the exiles from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?

(Da 5:17) Then Daniel answered and said before the king, "Keep your gifts for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him.

(Da 5:29) Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom.

(Da 6:3) Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.

(Da 6:6) Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: "King Darius, live forever!

(Da 6:9) Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.

(Da 6:11) Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God.

(Da 6:18) Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.

(Da 6:23) Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

(Da 7:1) In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it.

(Da 7:11) "Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.

(Da 7:19) "Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet,

Matthew 24:31 "And 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: kai apostelei (3SFAI) tous aggelous autou meta salpiggos megales kai episunachousin (3PFAI) tous eklektous autou ek ton tessaron anemon avp akron ouranon eos ton akron auton:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

  • He: Mt 28:18 Mk 16:15,16 Lu 24:47 Ac 26:19,20
  • angels: Mt 13:41 25:31 Rev 1:20 2:1 14:6-9
  • with: Nu 10:1-10 Ps 81:3 Isa 27:13 1Co 15:52 1Th 4:16)
  • gather: Isa 11:12 49:18 60:4 Zec 14:5 Mk 13:27 John 11:52 Eph 1:10 2Th 2:1
  • from: Ps 22:27 Ps 67:7 Isa 13:5 Isa 42:10 Isa 43:6 Isa 45:22 Zec 9:10 Ro 10:18
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel passage:

Mark 13:27 “And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. 

A T Robertson - The Greek is very brief, “from the tip of earth to the tip of heaven.” This precise phrase occurs nowhere else.

Luke - no parallel description

ANGELS CALLED FORTH
BY A GREAT TRUMPET

 

He will send forth (649)(apostello from apo = from, away from + stello = to withdraw from, avoid) means to send off, to send forth, to send out. To send out; to commission as a representative, an ambassador, an envoy. The idea is to send forth from one place to another. But the meaning of apostello is more than just to send because it means "to send off on a commission to do something as one's personal representative, with credentials furnished" (Wuest) Three things are true of one sent from God: (1) He belongs to God, Who has sent him out. (2) He is commissioned to be sent out. (3) He possesses all the authority and power of God, Who has sent him out. (Practical Word Studies)

His angels - The King exercises His authority over all creation in sending His angels (cp Da 7:10). Their loyalty and allegiance are to Jesus. The King of kings (Rev 19:16-note) will send forth the angels, His ministering spirits (Heb 1:14-note).

Weber notes that "This section (Matt. 24:15-31) was intended to answer the disciples question about the sign of the end of the age and Jesus' second coming." (Holman New Testament Commentary)

Angels (32)(aggelos/angelos) literally means a messenger (one who bears a message - Lk 1:11, 2:9, etc or does an errand). Most of the NT uses refer to heavenly angels (messengers) who are supernatural, transcendent beings with power to carry out various tasks. All uses of aggelos that refer to angels are masculine gender (the feminine form of aggelos does not occur.)

A Great Trumpet - ("loud trumpet blast" = NET; "loud trumpet call" = ESV) - KJV has "great trumpet sound" which reflects the Greek word for sound ("phone") found in the Textus Receptus but not in the more modern Greek manuscripts (used by NAS, NET, ESV).

Glorious Day

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine
Glorious day,
Oh, Glorious day

Trumpet (4536)(salpigx/salpinx from salos = vibration, billow or salpizo = to sound a trumpet) is a wind instrument like a bugle that was often used for signaling, especially in connection with war.

There are two other significant trumpets mentioned in the New Testament both associated with the appearance of the Messiah. However the great trumpet of Mt 24:31 is not synonymous with the trumpets mentioned in 1Cor 15 and 1Thes 4, because both of these are associated with the Rapture. On the other hand, if one holds to a post-tribulation rapture, then these three mentions (Mt 24:31, 1Cor 15, 1Th 4) of "trumpet" would be seen as the same trumpet. (See The Timing of the Rapture - Pre-, Mid- or Post-Tribulation)

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

John MacArthur comments - This change will occur at the "last trumpet." I do not think that this trumpet necessarily will be the last heavenly trumpet ever to be sounded. It will, however, be the last as far as living Christians are concerned, for it will sound the end of the church age, when all believers will be removed from the earth. (1Th. 4:16-17). By that trumpet God will summon all of His people to Himself (cf. Ex. 19:16; Isa. 27:13). During the Civil War a group of soldiers had to spend a winter night without tents in an open field. During the night it snowed several inches, and at dawn the chaplain reported a strange sight. The snow-covered soldiers looked like the mounds of new graves, and when the bugle sounded reveille a man immediately rose from each mound of snow, dramatically reminding the chaplain of this passage from 1 Corinthians. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

1 Thessalonians 4:16-note For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.

Robert L. Thomas explains why the "Great Trumpet" in Mt 24:31 is not synonymous with the trumpet associated with the Rapture - Similarities between this passage in 1 Thessalonians and the Gospel accounts include a trumpet (Mt. 24:31), a resurrection (Jn 11:25, 26), and a gathering of the elect (Mt. 24:31)….Yet dissimilarities between it and the canonical sayings of Christ far outweigh the resemblances….Some of the differences between Mt 24:30, 31 and 1Th 4:15-17 are as follows: (1) In Matthew the Son of Man is coming on the clouds… in 1 Thessalonians ascending believers are in them. (2) In the former the angels gather, in the latter the Son does so personally. (3) In the former nothing is said about resurrection, while in the latter this is the main theme. (4) Matthew records nothing about the order of ascent, which is the principal lesson in Thessalonians. (The Expositor's Bible Commentary- Ephesians through Philemon- 1979 Edition, Pages 276-277)

Salpinx - 11x - Mt 24:31; 1Cor 14:8; 15:52; 1Th 4:16; Heb 12:19; Rev 1:10; 4:1; 8:2, 6, 13; 9:14

In the Morning of Joy
When the trumpet shall sound,
And the dead shall arise,
And the splendors immortal
Shall envelop the skies;
When the Angel of Death
Shall no longer destroy,
And the dead shall awaken
In the morning of joy:

Refrain
In the morning of joy,
In the morning of joy,
We'll be gathered to glory,
In the morning of joy;
In the morning of joy,
In the morning of joy,
We'll be gathered to glory,
In the morning of joy.

When the King shall appear
In His beauty on high,
And shall summon His children
To the courts of the sky;

Shall the cause of the Lord
Have been all your employ,
That your soul may be spotless
In the morning of joy?

Refrain

O the bliss of that morn,
When our loved ones we meet!
With the songs of the ransomed
We each other shall greet,
Singing praise to the Lamb,
Thro' eternity's years,
With the past all forgotten
With its sorrows and tears.

Refrain

AN "CHOICE"
GATHERING

THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds - The angels of the King will gather the King's subjects, both Jewish and Gentile believers, from throughout the earth. What a glorious meeting this will be! After three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation, imagine how the elect will feel when they see their King and are gathered to Him by His angels. The writer of Hebrews describes His angels by asking a rhetorical question - "Are they (His angels) not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?" (Heb 1:14-note) It is interesting to recall that the angels were also closely associated with Messiah's first coming bringing "good news of great joy which will be for all the people." (Lk 2:10).

Hiebert on gather together - The double compound verb gather together conveys the thought that they will be gathered at a central rallying point, namely, around Himself. The precise identity of these elect will depend upon one's eschatological views. Some would interpret the scene here to include believers of all ages, implying the resurrection of the dead; but there is no reference made to a resurrection here, and the further designation "from the four winds," the four cardinal points from which the winds blow, rather suggests people alive in all parts of the world. More consistent is the view that the reference is to the believers who have come through the Great Tribulation." (Bolding added)

Jesus elsewhere explains that His angels will not only gather believers for salvation but unbelievers for judgment and punishment -

And the enemy who sowed them (Ed: "Them" = Unbelievers in Mt 13:38 = "the tares are the sons of the evil one" - the tares will coexist with the wheat, the believers, until the King sends His angels to gather them out from the presence of the believers) is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age (Ed: This is at the end of the Great Tribulation, the consummation of this present age); and the reapers are angels. "Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness (Ed: all unbelievers), and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father (Ed: The believers who are left on earth at the end of the Great Tribulation will enter into the Millennial Kingdom). He who has ears, let him hear. (Mt 13:39-43)

Zodhiates explains the distinction between these two groups - These two, the wheat and the tares, will coexist on earth until the Lord sends His angels to make a final separation at the time of harvest. In reality, the wheat will be gathered in two stages. First, believers of the church age will be gathered at the rapture. Only unbelievers will remain on the earth after the rapture, but the Holy Spirit will immediately begin sowing seed, which produces believers again (Ed: In other words, assuming a pre-tribulation rapture, there will be many who will be born again during the seven years of tribulation). Then will come the complete gathering of both, but this time, the wheat will be left alive for the Millennium after the judgments described in Matthew 25. The tares will be placed in hell until the second resurrection and the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. These events constitute the consummation of the age. (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)

So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mt 13:49-50)

"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. (Mt 16:27)

"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. "And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the (Millennial) kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Ed: These are the Gentile believers left on earth who have been gathered together by the angels who will populate the Millennium). 35 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in (Ed: In other words their actions toward the Jews in this horrible time are evidence that they are believers).; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 38 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 'And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' 41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; (Mt 25:31-41)

Gather together (1996)(episunago from epi = on, upon, near + sunago = to lead or bring together; related = episunagoge = a gathering together - 2Th 2:1, Heb 10:25, cf sunagoge) means to lead or bring together upon a place. In passive sense to gather or come together (Mk 1:33). Twice Jesus used this verb in description of birds - of a hen gathering her chicks (Mt 23:37) and of vultures gathering over a dead body (Lk 17:37). To gather together people in a place - to assemble, to convene (Mk 13:27).

In the Septuagint (Lxx) episunago describes the future end times gathering of the Gentile nations against Jerusalem (Zech 12:3, 14:2). In Psalm 106:47 the psalmist prays "Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations," this request expressing an understanding that Jehovah would scatter the Jews throughout the world because of their continued rebellion (Dt 28:64-65). He will answer this prayer and bring them back to their land in the future in the same general time that the Stone (Messiah) returns (Da 2:34-35, 44, 45) to set up His Millennial kingdom (see Ezek 34:13, 16, 36:24, 25, 26)

Episunagoo - 8x in 7v - gather… together(2), gather together(2), gathered(2), gathered together(1), gathers(1).

Matthew 23:37 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

Matthew 24:31 "And 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.

Mark 1:33 And the whole city had gathered at the door.

Mark 13:27 "And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

Luke 12:1 Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Luke 13:34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!

Luke 17:37 And answering they said to Him, "Where, Lord?" And He said to them, "Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered."

Thayer - 1. to gather together besides, to bring together to others already assembled (Polybius). 2. to gather together against (Micah 4:11; Zechariah 12:3; 1Maccabees 3:58NRSV, etc.). 3. to gather together in one place: Mt 23:37; 24:31; Mk 13:27; Lk 13:34; passive: Mk 1:33; Lk 12:1; 17:37

Liddell-Scott-Jones - I. collect and bring to a place; gather together, Passive - to be combined, accumulated interest, counted up II 1. bring in, in a discussion

Episunagoo - 19v in the Septuagint - Gen 6:16; 38:29; 1Kgs 18:20 ("brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel''); 2Chr 5:6; 20:26; Esther 10:3; Ps 31:13; 106:47; 147:2; Isa 9:5; 52:12; Jer 12:6; Ezek 40:12; Dan 3:2; 11:34; Mic 4:11; Hab 2:5; Zech 12:3; 14:2;

Here are some representative uses from the Septuagint:

Psalm 106:47 Save us, O LORD our God, And gather us from among the nations, To give thanks to Your holy name And glory in Your praise. (A prayer Jehovah will answer at the end of the Great Tribulation when He saves a believing Jewish remnant, cf Ro 11:26-27-note).

Psalm 147:2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel.

Micah 4:11 "And now many nations have been assembled against you Who say, 'Let her be polluted, And let our eyes gloat over Zion.'

Zechariah 12:3 (Future prophecy) "It will come about in that day (What day? This will take place in the last 3.5 years, the Great Tribulation) that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations (Gentiles) of the earth will be gathered against it. (cp Lk 21:20-24-note which describes the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, which foreshadowed Zechariah's prophecy of a future fate of Jerusalem - see also Zec 14:2 below)

Zechariah 14:2 (Future prophecy) For I will gather all the nations (Gentiles) against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.

His Elect - His Chosen ones gathered together by His angels at His return. O glorious day! While Jesus is clearly addressing the Jews (and the Jewish elect) in Mt 24, this passage surely applies to both Jewish and Gentile elect who are alive at the end of the Great Tribulation. We know that many will already have been martyred during the Great Tribulation (see Rev 7:9, Rev 7:14). The elect are mentioned 3 times in Matthew 24 (Mt 24:22, 24, 31).

His elect "asserts His choice and ownership of them; He will act to establish His claim on them." (Hiebert)

Kent Hughes comments "His angels are dispersed, not as grim reapers, but as joyous reapers to the harvest as he gathers his Church from every nook and cranny of the world." Notice that Hughes clearly believes the Church is still present and will experience the horrific times described in Revelation 6:1-19:21. Clearly Hughes does not believe in either a pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation rapture. Putting aside the timing of the rapture, it should be noted that careful observation of the book of the Revelation reveals a clear description of the Church with seven distinct "churches" addressed by the Lord of the Church in Revelation 2:1-3:16-note. Notice the next phrase after Jesus' final words to a definitive church in Laodicea - The Greek reads "meta tauta" which means "after these things." What things? A very comprehensive depiction of seven churches. The phrase "after this" indicates sequence, signifying after these seven churches are addressed. You may be saying "I agree with that, but what is your point?" The point is that there is not one specific mention of another church in Revelation 6-19. Why not? Ask the Spirit of God to enable you to meditate on these indisputable observations. What is fascinating is that Hughes then quotes Wesley's wonderful words...

Lo, He comes with clouds descending
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign.
-Charles Wesley

The question is how to "thousand thousand saints" "swell the triumph of His train?" How did they get there, so that they might follow Him back to earth in His triumph over all enemies (cf Rev 19:11-16-note)? Ponder that question. And notice the phrase "God appears on earth to reign," a wonderful description of Jesus reigning in His Kingdom in the Messianic Age.

Elect (chosen) (1588)(eklektos from verb eklego which in middle voice [eklegomai] means select or pick out for one's self which is derived from ek =out + lego =call) means literally the "called out ones" or "chosen out ones". The idea of eklektos is the ones who have been chosen for one's self, selected out of a larger number. In regard to election as related to salvation, Wuest comments that "This election does not imply the rejection of the rest (those not chosen out), but is the outcome of the love of God lavished upon those chosen-out." (Wuest)

The doctrine of election is mysterious and we will never fully comprehend it on this side of glory (cp 1Cor 13:11-12). However, Paul shows us how we are to live in the face of this doctrine (and not let it be divisive!) - "For this reason (referring to the "Gospel unchained" in 2Ti 2:9) I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen (the elect), that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory." (2Ti 2:10-note) Paul did not know who the elect were, but he nevertheless endured for their sake and so too must we. We see a similar pattern in First Thessalonians where Paul reminds the believers at Thessalonica of God's "choice (ekloge) of you." (1Thes 1:4-note) Then he explains how their election was effected, explaining "our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (1Thes 1:5-note) As W A Criswell says "The word "for" introduces a clause that explains the way in which election works. However one understands this mysterious doctrine, the text makes clear its intimate relationship to the Gospel of Christ, the preached word, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit." (Believer's Study Bible Notes)

Related Resources:

Spurgeon on Election - Andrew Fuller remarks, in a letter to two relatives:: ' I used to think that the doctrine of election was a reason why we need not pray, and I fear there are many who split upon this rock, who think it is to no purpose to pray, as things will be as they will be. But I now see that the doctrine of election is the greatest encouragement instead of a discouragement to prayer. He that decreed that any one should be finally saved, decreed that it should be in the way of prayer; as much as he that has decreed what we shall possess of the things of this life, has decreed that it shall be in the way of industry; and as we never think of being idle in common business, because God has decreed what we shall possess of this world's good, so neither should we be slothful in the business of our souls, because our final state is decreed.'

From the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other - These phrases speak of a global gathering of the elect who are scattered to the "four corners" of the world (from the four points of the compass). Mark writes that "then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end of heaven." (Mk 13:27)

The four winds are related to heaven in Jer 49:36, Daniel 7:2, Daniel 8:8 and Zechariah 2:6. Specifically in Zechariah Jehovah spoke of the dispersion of the Jews to the four winds of the heavens

"Ho there! Flee from the land of the north," declares the LORD, "for I have dispersed you as the four winds of the heavens," declares the LORD.

In Deuteronomy Moses prophesied of the future salvation of the elect of Israel…

So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you (Ed: cf dispersed), and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. (Ed: From context, this gathering is not up to heaven, but back to the land promised to Israel in Genesis). "If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. "And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. "Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live (Ed: This is the essence of the radical heart change wrought by the New Covenant). "And the LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. (Ed: The final fulfillment of this prophecy will occur at the end of the Great Tribulation when Messiah will utterly defeat all the Gentile nations gathered against Israel - cf Zech 12:3, 14:2). "And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. "Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground (Ed: Note that this implies redeemed Israel during the Millennium will finally, fully inhabit the literal land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Joseph), for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers. (Deuteronomy 30:1-9)

When Messiah returns everything changes, even as it did when He came into each of our hearts the moment we believed in Him! Israel will mourn over Him (Zech 12:10, cf Mt 24:30-note, Rev 1:7-note). Unrepentant Israel (two thirds!) will be destroyed (Zech 13:8). Repentant Israel, the believing remnant, will believe in Him Whom they have pierced and ALL will be saved (Ro 11:26, 27-note = "All" of the third that come through the "refining fires" [Zech 13:9, Da 12:10-note] of the time of Jacob's distress - Jer 30:7-note, the time of distress such as has never occurred - Da 12:1-note, the Great Tribulation that begins when the Jews in Jerusalem see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place -Mt 24:15-note, Mt 24:21-note). They will be saved because Messiah "will sprinkle clean water on" them and they "will be clean." He "will cleanse (them) from all (their) filthiness and from all (their idols)." (Ezek 36:25-note, cp fulfillment of Da 9:24-note) and "give (them) a new heart and put a new spirit within (them) and… will remove the heart of stone from (their) flesh and give (them) a heart of flesh. And (He) will put (His) Spirit within (them) and cause (them) to walk in (His) statutes, and (they) will be careful to observe (His) ordinances (because now they have the law written in their heart - Jer 31:31, 32, 33,34-note) and (they) will live in the land (of Israel - in the Millennium) that (He) gave to (their) forefathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), so (they) will be (His) people and (He) will be (their) God." (Ezek 36:26, 27,28-note).

John Walvoord - The entire passage from Matthew 24:15-31 is the specific answer to the disciples of the sign of His coming and of the end of the age, with the climactic sign being the second coming and the glory that attends it, and will fulfill the prophecy of Acts 1:11 that Christ will return as He went up into heaven, that is, His return will be physical, gradual, visible, and with clouds. Matthew 24:31 brings to a close the first doctrinal section of the Olivet discourse, and what follows is a series of applications and illustrations.

Matthew 24:32 "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near: Apo de. tes sukes mathete (2PAAM) ten parabolen hotan ede o klados auts genetai (3SAMS) apalos kai ta phulla ekphue (3SPAS) ginoskete (2PPAI) hoti eggus to theros.:

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE

KJV Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

NET "Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.

ESV "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.

NIV "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.

NLT "Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.

YLT 'And from the fig-tree learn ye the simile: When already its branch may have become tender, and the leaves it may put forth, ye know that summer is nigh,

ASV Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh

Parallel passages:

Mk 13:28Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 

Lk 21:29-30-note Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 

PARABLE OF
THE FIG TREE

 

Now (de) - At the present time or moment. Now is used especially in conversation to draw attention to a particular statement or point in a narrative. Hiebert remarks that "now is transitional, marking the turn to the concluding hortatory section."

Jesus the Creator now presents a picture that portrays His coming. One can envision Him pointing to one of the fig trees on the Mount of Olives, for it was spring when plants He created bloom, including the fig tree. 

Wiersbe reminds us of the value of prophecy - The purpose of prophecy is not to entertain the curious, but to encourage the consecrated. (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Learn (3129)(manthano is related to the noun mathetes = disciple, literally a learner! The shut mind is the end of discipleship!) has the basic meaning of directing one's mind to something and producing an external effect. Zuck writes that according to manthano "learning is a matter of a pupil acquiring knowledge of content through a teacher to the extent that such knowledge is experienced in the life." Jesus uses the aorist imperative which is a command that conveys a sense of urgency. "Do this now" is the idea. Don't delay! It is very important to ponder this parable and fully grasp its meaning.

MacArthur says manthano "refers to teaching, learning, instructing, and discipling. Paul is referring here to his personal instruction and discipling of the Philippians… Manthano means to genuinely understand and accept a teaching, to accept it as true and to apply it in one's life. It was sometimes used of acquiring a life-long habit. Paul declared that he had "learned [manthanō] to be content in whatever circumstances" he was in (Phil 4:11). That sort of learning is much more than mere head knowledge; it involves genuine acceptance of a truth and determination to live a life consistent with it. Jesus wanted the disciples to learn in their inmost beings what He was teaching, to understand and receive it with regard to its great importance." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

MacArthur - Parables had a two-fold purpose in Jesus' ministry. When unexplained, they concealed truth; when explained, they revealed truth. When Jesus gave a parable to the multitudes or to the unbelieving religious leaders without also giving an explanation, it was a riddle to them. When He gave a parable to His disciples and explained it, it was a vivid illustration that made a truth clear and understandable. (See Mt 13:10-11, 13, 16-23)… In light of the fact that Jesus' parables were given for the sake of helping the disciples understand His teaching, it is evident that He told the parable from the fig tree to give them further light about His second coming. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Parable (symbol) (3850)(parabole from para = beside, near + ballo = throw, cast; English "parable") is literally a throwing beside or placing of one thing by the side of another (juxtaposition as of ships in battle in classic Greek). The metaphorical meaning is to place or lay something besides something else for the purpose of comparison. (Mt 24:32, Mk 13:28, Mk 3:23, Lk 14:7). An illustration (Mt 13:3). In Hebrews 9:9 the idea is of something (OT Tabernacle) that serves as a model or example pointing beyond itself for later realization and thus a type or a figure.

Wuest notes parable "is an illustration thrown in alongside of a truth to make the latter easier to understand… The Greek word means "that which is thrown alongside of something else" to explain it. Thus, (Ed: referring to Heb 9:8-9) the tabernacle was an object lesson used to explain spiritual truth. As long as it remained an object lesson, thus a recognized institution, it was clear that the actual tabernacle to which it pointed was not yet in use. The tabernacle in Israel, and later, the temple, remained that object lesson during the history of Israel, until the veil of the temple was rent." (Hebrews by Wuest - excellent) Even so the blooming of the fig tree is a clear object lesson.

Hiebert explains that "The fig tree was a recognized symbol of Israel (cf. Mk 11:14), but there is no indication that the reference here has an intended symbolic meaning. The reference seems to be to the literal tree; that Luke so understood the reference seems clear from his added "and all the trees" (Lk 21:29). The olive and the fig were common trees in Palestine, but since the olive is an evergreen, only the fig tree could be used to teach the intended lesson."

Neil D. Nelson notes that the fig tree "is not a type of Israel (Ed: Some say the budding symbolizes Israel becoming a nation in 1948 but such an interpretation is completely unfounded!). Jesus instead used it to make a straightforward analogy. (This is evident in the Luke parallel where Jesus said: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees." Any deciduous fruit tree would make the same point.) Just as the budding fig tree inevitably results in a harvest of figs, so the events of Mt 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. (Journal of Dispensational Theology - Volume 11:33 Aug 2007)

Figs in Israel - The fig tree sheds its leaves in winter, at the end of which, even before the tree is covered with leaves, the paggim ("green figs," Song 2:13) begin to develop in the form of small fruits, which are really tiny flowers covered with a soft skin, and which continue to grow during the summer months. Hosea (9:10) compared the young nation of Israel in the heyday of its glory to bakkurot ("first-ripe figs"), which are delicious and eagerly sought after (Isa. 28:4; Jer, 24:2). Not all the paggim reach the ripened stage, some falling off or withering (Isa. 34:4). Figs that ripen at the end of summer have an inferior taste (Micah 7:1), as do those that burst when overripe (Jer. 29:17). Figs were dried in the sun and were either left whole or cut up and pressed (develah, 1Sa, 25:18; 1Chr 12:40). The word kayiz (2Sa 16:1-2; Jer., 40:10, 12), which may refer to summer fruits as a whole, signifies primarily dried figs (cf. Isa. 16:9; Tosef., Ned. 4:1-2). (Fig - Jewish Virtual Library)

MacArthur - Jews were used to the fig tree's functioning as an illustration. Jotham used it in his story shouted to the inhabitants of Shechem from the top of Mount Gerizim (Jdg. 9:10-11); Jeremiah saw two baskets of figs in his vision after Nebuchadnezzar took captives from Judah to Babylon (Jer. 24:1-10); Hosea used it as a figure in his prophecy about Israel (Hos. 9:10); and Joel used a splintered fig tree to illustrate the devastation of Judah by a plague of locusts (Joel 1:4-7). Few figures would have been better known to the disciples than that of the fig tree, which Jesus Himself had used on numerous other occasions as a teaching aid (see Mt. 7:16; 21:19; Luke 13:6-9)… Even children knew that a budding fig tree meant it was spring and that summer would soon follow, when the ripened figs would be harvested. Throughout the gospel of Matthew, the figure of harvest represents judgment, the time of separating unbelievers from believers and of condemning the unbelievers to judgment (Mt 3:12, 10, 9:37, 38, 13:30)… In all of those instances, the harvest symbolizes a time of rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked. In this present parable of the fig tree Jesus was simply illustrating to the disciples that, when the signs He had just been describing begin to transpire, the time of His return will be very near. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

When its branch has already become tender - When is an expression of time and that (the timing of these events in Mt 24:15-29) is the major message of Jesus' parable. When (or whenever) in this context refers to the point in time which will be determined by the condition of the tree, that condition being "When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near." (NLT) The young shoot becomes tender and succulent because of flowing sap which is followed by sprouting of the leaves.

Tender (527)(hapalos) literally means yielding to pressure and in the NT is used of sprouting branches, those that are soft and tender. Hapalos was used in secular Greek of "fresh" fruit, of "tender" meat, of soft to the touch (speaking of the body) and figuratively of something that was soft or gentle (as a gentle laugh) or something that was soft or delicate. The only two uses are Mt 24:32 and Mark 13:28.

Liddell-Scott-Jones - I soft to the touch, tender: in Homer mostly of the human body, i.e. the life of young animals; of persons, delicate; of flowers; of raw fruit; of tender meat; soft-boiled, of eggs, of a gentle fire. Metaphorically - soft, gentle, delicate, In bad sense, soft, weak

Hapalos - 8x in Septuagint - Ge 18:7 ("tender"); Ge 27:9 ("young goats"); Ge 33:13 ("frail"); Dt 28:54 ("refined"), Dt 28:56 ("refined"); 1Chr 22:5; ("inexperienced"); 1Chr 29:1 ("inexperienced"); Isa 47:1 ("tender")

Puts forth (1631)(ekphuo) literally means to cause to grow out and so to generate or cause to grow. "To give rise to something by a physical process" (BDAG), to generate. The only 2 uses are Mt 24:32 and Mk 13:28 with no uses in the Septuagint. Ekphuo is in the which pictures the fig tree in the process of budding and sprouting leaves.

Liddell-Scott-Jones - 1. generate: mostly of the male, beget, 2. rarely of the female, bear, 3. generally, produce., of seed, germinate, D. 24.154. Passive with plural and aorist, to be engendered, born from, a born tattler. Grow, of hair; spring, take rise, of muscles.

You know that summer is near - Figs ripened in the summer. This is the message conveyed by the budding fig tree, an early sign that summer was nigh.

Know (1097)(ginosko) means they would know by experience. Most of Israel was an agriculturally oriented society, and they understood the signs of summer in plants.  In this case, it was common knowledge that the budding fig tree signaled the nearness of summer.

Lift Up Your Heads, Rejoice
Lift up your heads, rejoice,
Redemption draweth nigh;
Now breathes a softer air,
Now shines a milder sky;

The early trees put forth
Their new and tender leaf;
Hushed is the moaning wind
That told of winter's grief.

Lift up your heads, rejoice,
Redemption draweth nigh;
Now mount the laden clouds,
Now flames the darkening sky;

The early scattered drops
Descend with heavy fall,
And to the waiting earth
The hidden thunders call.

Lift up your heads, rejoice,
Redemption draweth nigh;
O note the varying signs
Of earth, and air, and sky;

The God of glory comes
In gentleness and might,
To comfort and alarm,
To succor and to smite.

He comes, the wide world's king,
He comes, the true heart's friend,
New gladness to begin,
And ancient wrong to end;

He comes, to fill with light
The weary waiting eye;
Lift up your heads, rejoice,
Redemption draweth nigh.

Matthew 24:33 even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door: houtos kai humeis hotan idete (2PAAS) panta tauta ginoskete (2PPAM) hoti eggus estin epi thurais.

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE 

KJV So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

NET So also you, when you see all these things, know that He is near, right at the door.

ESV So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates.

NIV Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.

NLT In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know His return is very near, right at the door.

YLT so also ye, when ye may see all these, ye know that it is nigh -- at the doors.

ASV even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that He is nigh, even at the doors.

BBE Even so, when you see all these things, you may be certain that He is near, even at the doors.

CJB In the same way, when you see all these things, you are to know that the time is near, right at the door.

CSB In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near-- at the door!

  • When - Mt 24:3
  • Recognize - Eze 7:2-14 Heb 10:37 Jas 5:9 1Pe 4:7
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel passages:

Mk 13:29  “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

Lk 21:31-note “So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

JESUS IS "KNOCKING"
AT THE DOOR

 

Even so (houto) means in this way, in this manner just described. In context Jesus is clearly referring to the preceding parable. The idea is "in the way described (in the parable of the fig tree)."

You too - This does not take a doctorate in theology to grasp. As discussed below, when the events described, especially the dramatic visual event in Mt 24:15 occurs, this will begin the final countdown of the last 3.5 years of this present age. At that time it will be clear to everyone who has spiritual eyes to see and is alive on earth that the coming of the King (with His Kingdom) is about to occur.

When - expression of time - When is when? Recall Matthew's earlier words "And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Mt 24:3)

When you see - Notice that these will be things that are visible to the eye! I do not think it is an accident that the last time Jesus used the phrase "When you see" is found in Mt 24:15. In fact these two verses are the only uses of this phrase in Matthew. They are perfectly paralleled in Mark 13:14 and Mark 13:29. As discussed below, this would support that one of the things they would see would be the sign in Matthew 24:15. Luke 21:31 also has the phrase "Even so you, too, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near."

All these things - What things? What has Jesus just described? All these things could take one all the way back to Matthew 24:4 and include everything in between. However most of those things described are not specific "timing" signs, which is what the parable of the fig tree becoming tender and sprouting leaves calls for (i.e., a clear sign that "summer is near."). And so as we read back through Matthew 24, clearly the most specific visible sign is found in Mt 24:15 ("When you see… "). So one of the "these things" would be the revelation of the abomination of desolation which marks the "beginning of the end," the beginning of the unprecedented, never to be repeated Great Tribulation (Mt 24:21). He goes on to warn that false Christs and false prophets will abound. Finally He says that immediately after the Tribulation, the cosmos will experience chaos, which indicates a clear sign that His coming and the end of the age are very near. And remember if you are holding to a 70AD fulfillment of Mt 24:15-22, it is very clear that the cosmic signs of Mt 24:29 have not yet occurred.

John MacArthur on all these things - When the context is studied carefully, Jesus' application of the parable is as unmistakable as its analogy is uncomplicated. All these things can only refer to what He has been talking about-the birth pains (Mt 24:4-14), the abomination of desolation (Mt 24:15), the need to flee because of the impending perils (Mt 24:16-28), and the catastrophic upheaval of the universe (Mt 24:29). Those things will indicate that He is near, just as the budding fig tree indicates that summer, the harvest time, is near. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Kent Hughes makes an interesting comment that "All they had to do was watch Jerusalem for the details he described and they would know." The problem with that statement is that it disregards the other very clear, earth and heaven shaking signs of the times (Mt 24:29-note, Mk 13:24-25, Lk 21:25 calls them signs). God is not a God of confusion so when He says they are signs, they are guideposts showing that His return is nigh. These signs did not occur when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. 

He is near (literally "it is near")- There is no specific subject of the verb "is". The translations are divided between the subject being "it" or "He," the former referring to an event, the latter to a person. In the parallel account of the parable of the fig tree in Luke 21:31 it reads "Even so you, too, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near." This of course creates no problem with interpreting Matthew 24:33 as a "He" because a kingdom must have a King and His Name is Jesus. Notice that the translations above are divided between "it" and "He" but most favor the latter translation. On the other hand even "it" would be fine, because compared with Luke's passage, it signifies the Kingdom, which in turn signifies a King!

Near (1451)(eggus - see below) means near in space or near in time. In context the emphasis is primarily on near in time.

Recognize (1097)(ginosko) means to know by experience. When you experience all of these things, they are like the sound of someone "knocking at the door!" Either HE is near or IT is near (the end of the age, the timing of which corresponds to His return).

NET Note - The verb ginoskete, "know" can be parsed as either present indicative or present imperative. In this context the imperative fits better, since the movement is from analogy (trees and seasons) to the future (the signs of the coming of the kingdom) and since the emphasis is on preparation for this event. Jesus is urging the the reader to realize what is happening.

Right at the door (cp Mk 13:29) - Right is added by NAS. The common figure of speech at the door expresses nearness. It does not tell us how near. In fact James used the phrase to describe "the Judge is standing right at the door." (James 5:9) In that context the idea would be that the return of Jesus is always imminent, but it does not tell us how close it is.

Hiebert notes that more literally the Greek reads "upon the doors (plural)" where "upon" "pictures the subject so near as in fact already located on the doorstep."

Weber - An observer could watch a fig tree begin to produce leaves (and green fruit) in late spring as a sign that summer is near. In the same way, an observer of history who knows the preceding teachings of Jesus was now equipped to know when the Messiah's coming is near, right at the door. This implies immediacy, but still not a specific time. (Holman New Testament Commentary)

 Near (1451)(eggus) means near in space - either at or to a short distance away (Lk 19:11, Ge 19:20; 45:10) or near in time - a short time away in the future, imminent (Mt 24:32-33, 26:18, Jn 2:13). Comparative = egguteron = nearer (Ro 13.11); superlative = eggista = nearest, closest.

Eggus is used metaphorically - "peace to those who were near" referring to Jews. (Eph 2:17) Of Gentiles who have been saved having "been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Eph 2:13). "The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." (Ps 145:18)

Liddell-Scott-Jones - (I) of Place, near, nigh, at hand: freq. in Hom., c. gen., hard by, near to; nearer to grief, (II) of Time, nigh at hand, (III) of Numbers, etc., nearly: generally, nearly, almost, not nearly, i. e. not by a great deal, nothing like it. not so.. nor yet nearly so; mostly. of Qualities, coming near, very near death. of Relationship, akin to.

Thayer has the following...

1. of place and position;

a. properly: absolutely, John 19:42, Luke 19:11; John 3:23; John 6:19,23; John 11:18,54; John 19:20; Acts 1:12; Acts 9:38; Acts 27:8.

b. tropically; those who are near of access to God, i.e. Jews, and those who are alien from the true God and the blessings of the theocracy, i.e. Gentiles: Eph 2:17 (cf. Isa 57:19); to be brought near, namely, to the blessings of the kingdom of God, Eph 2:13 (so with the rabbis not infrequently to make nigh is equivalent to make a proselyte) near thee, i.e. at hand, already, as it were, in thy mind, Ro 10:8 from Dt 30:14

2. of Time; concerning things imminent and soon to come to pass: Mt 24:32; 26:18; Mk 13:28; Lk 21:30,31; Jn 2:13; 6:4; 7:2; 11:55; Rev 1:3; 22:10; of the near advent of persons: of Christ's return from heaven, Php 4:5 (in another sense, of God in Ps 145:18; near, at the door, Mt 24:33; Mk 13:29; , near to being cursed, Heb 6:8; soon to vanish, Heb 8:13.

Eggus - 31x in 31v - NAS Usage: close(1), near(27), nearby(1), nearer(1), ready(1).

Matthew 24:32 "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

Matthew 26:18 And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples."'"

Mark 13:28 "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 "Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

Luke 19:11 While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.

Luke 21:30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 "So you also, when you see these things (Lk 21:25-29) happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

John 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

John 3:23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized--

John 6:4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.

19 Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.

23 There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks.

John 7:2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near.

John 11:18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off;

54 Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves.

John 19:20 Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek.

42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Acts 1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away.

Acts 9:38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, "Do not delay in coming to us."

Acts 27:8 and with difficulty sailing past it we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

Romans 10:8-note But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART "-- that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,

Romans 13:11-note Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.

Ephesians 2:13-note But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:17-note AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;

Philippians 4:5-note Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

Hebrews 6:8-note but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

Hebrews 8:13-note When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

Revelation 1:3-note Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Revelation 22:10-note And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.

Eggus - 48v in the Septuagint -

Ge 19:20; 45:10; Ex 13:17; 32:27; Lev 21:2; 25:25; Num 27:11; Deut 2:19; 4:46; 30:14; 32:35; 34:6; Jdg 3:20; Ruth 3:12; 1Kgs 8:46; 2Chr 6:36; Esther 1:14; 9:20; Job 6:15; 13:18; 17:12; 19:14; Ps 15:3; 22:11; 34:18; 38:11; 85:9; 119:151; Ps 145:18; Prov 27:10; Eccl 5:1; Isa 13:6; 57:19; Jer 12:2; 25:26; 35:4; 48:16, 24; Ezek 6:12; 23:12; 30:3; Dan 9:7; Joel 1:15; 2:1; 3:14; Obad 1:15; Zeph 1:7, 14;

Matthew 24:34 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place: amen lego (1SPAI) humin hoti ou me. parelethe (3SAAS) genea. aute eos an panta tauta genetai (3SAMS):

CLICK FOR >60 ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THIS VERSE 

KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

NET I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

ESV Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

NIV I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

Comment: The NIV adds a notation after generation {34 Or race} but this as discussed below (see note) this is probably not the best meaning of the word "generation."

NLT I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.

YLT Verily I say to you, this generation may not pass away till all these may come to pass.

ASV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished.

BBE Truly I say to you, This generation will not come to an end till all these things are complete.

CJB Yes! I tell you that this people will certainly not pass away before all these things happen.

CSB I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.

  • This - Mt 12:45 Mt 16:28 Mt 23:36 Mk 13:30,31 Luke 11:50 Lk 21:32,33
  • Matthew 24 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE GENERATION
THAT WILL PASS AWAY

Truly (281)(amen is a transliteration of the Hebrew noun amen [= (0543) amen] and then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. Amen has been called the best-known word in human speech. Amen is a response to something that has just been said, except in Jesus' teachings. Jesus, Who is Himself the ultimate "Amen" (Rev 3:14-note), is the supreme authority and so it is clearly apropos that His teachings be introduced by amen. John's Gospel has 25 uses of "amen" and every use is a double amen (or double "truly" in the NAS - 25 times). None of the other 3 Gospels use a "double amen." It is also notable that in the four Gospels, amen is used only by our Lord Jesus Christ, almost always "to introduce new revelations of the mind of God." (Vine) Every use of "amen" or "truly" by Jesus serves to affirm what follows and by extension to cause us to pay close attention to the teaching. The Pauline uses of amen occur primarily at the close of his prayers or doxologies, and as such serve to confirm them as "it is firm" (or "so let it be").

Lenski comments that Jesus use of truly expresses "profound solemnity, using His well-known seal for verity and authority." (The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel)

Truly I say - As alluded to above, truly emphasizes that what follows is important. The Greek verb is lego and is in the present tense, implying this is something Jesus is continually saying.

"THIS GENERATION"
TO WHICH GENERATION DOES JESUS REFER?

This generation will not pass away - To which generation is Jesus referring? This is discussed in more detail below because one of the possible meanings of this generation is used by preterists to justify interpretation Mt 24:15-22 (and Mt 24:23-29) as past history!

If one interprets Mt 24:15-29 literally, it is clear that all of these events are yet future. The abomination of desolation which marks the beginning of the one of a kind great tribulation did not occur in 70AD (see Mt 24:15 Commentary), so it is clear that Jesus was not referring to the generation who was alive at the time He spoke the Olivet Discourse. Preterists use "this generation" to support their premise that we have already experienced the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place and the world has already experienced a unique, never to be repeated time of tribulation (see Mt 24:21 Commentary). And thus they are forced to say that "this generation" cannot refer to a future generation. They are in effect "reasoning backwards" and using their interpretation of "this generation" to support their misinterpretation of Mt 24:15ff. Given that "this generation" is clearly not the generation alive when Jesus spoke, then what is the interpretation? While many interpretations have been proposed (see below), the two most reasonable interpretations of "this generation" are:

(1) "The simple and most reasonable interpretation that the leaves of the fig tree represent the birth pains and the other signs of His coming Jesus has mentioned in this chapter and that this generation refers to the people living at the end time who will view those signs." (John MacArthur)

Richard Mayhue - The temporal view understands "generation" to be the group of contemporaries who are alive at the time of Christ's parousia, extending from the birth pangs of Mt 24:8 through the coming of the Son of Man (Mt 24:44). (See more detailed discussion)

Neil D Nelson argues "The major problem with this view is that it ignores the negative force of e genea aute ("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 e genea aute (Mt 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 (Mt 24:39, 51). The righteous in contrast will inherit the kingdom and enter into eternal life in the presence of the Son (Mt 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.

(2) Jesus was using the word generation as a qualitative term (as He had done numerous times in Matthew) and not as a quantitative term.

Richard Mayhue - The pejorative view understands "generation" in the sense of referring to the category of rebellious, sinful people who have rejected God's truth and righteousness (cf. Mt 12:45; 23:35-36); this has an OT precedent in Dt 32:5, 20 and Pr 30:11-14. (See more detailed discussion)

John MacArthur agrees that this interpretation is "linguistically possible" but he feels that "it does not fit the context and also would have been superfluous and pointless, because no Jew doubted that many unbelieving, ungodly people would be alive to be judged when the Messiah came. In the minds of most Jews, the essential work of the Messiah would be to deliver Israel from its ungodly oppressors. He could hardly judge the nations and put His enemies under His feet if they had already been eradicated." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

As noted below, even highly respected commentators such as William Hendriksen and R C H Lenski (both of whom favor a 70AD fulfillment of Mt 24:15ff), agree that this generation is a qualitative term, not a quantitative (chronological) term referring to a kind of generation, not a time of a given generation. In other words, they both agree that "this generation" is highly unlikely to refer to the generation that was alive at the time Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse the only interpretation that supports a preterist interpretation of Mt 24:15ff.

The NET Note offers three possibilities for this generation - (1) Some take (generation) as meaning "race" and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term genea can have this meaning… (2) Generation might mean "this type of generation" and refer to the generation of wicked humanity… (3) generation may refer to "the generation that sees the signs of the end" (Mt 24:30), who will also see the end itself.

While I agree the meaning of generation is controversial, my view is that the weight of Scriptural evidence most strongly supports the interpretation that Jesus was referring to the "type of generation" (see note of explanation below) that will witness the events beginning in Mt 24:15-note with the "revelation" of the Antichrist and ending with the "revelation" of the Christ in Mt 24:30+ (cp the two revelations - 2Th 2:8). Obviously, I believe the abomination of desolation in Mt 24:15+ is yet to stand in the holy place, the Temple. I am not a dispensationalist nor a preterist, but a literalist and a literal interpretation of Daniel 9:27+ calls for a 7 year treaty that is broken after 3.5 years, a specific event which has no past historical fulfillment in the first century. While the Hebrew of Daniel 9:27+ is difficult, this first portion of the verse is not difficult (i.e., the making and breaking of a covenant at the midpoint of seven years) and thus it gives the reader some very important truths to aid the understanding of Mt 24:15+. Jesus clearly commanded the reader of Matthew 24:15 to direct his attention to Daniel. No, He did not specify Daniel 9:27+ but that passage and Daniel 12:11+ (which from context of Da 12:1+ describes the same event as Da 9:27+), are the writings in Daniel that most clearly relate to the abomination of desolation of Mt 24:15+. And if one reads 2Thes 2:3-4+, seeking a literal meaning, it is clear that Paul describes the revelation of a man who carries out an "abomination" in the holy place by taking his seat there and exalting himself over "every so-called god!" Even the ESV Study Bible note agrees that Paul is referring to the Antichrist (ESV Study Bible BORROW)  There is no Biblical or historical record that fulfills Paul's description in 2Th 2:3-4, so clearly it refers to a future event, an event which correlates perfectly with Jesus' warning of an abomination of desolation in the holy place in Mt 24:15+! Note that this assessment is based on no one's system of theological interpretation! It is based on a literal reading of the text. It is only when one goes to the commentaries that one encounters considerable confusion. In fact, it is notable that none of the top five Matthew commentaries listed by Tim Challies or Ligonier ministries interpret Jesus' words in Mt 24:15-22+ as descriptive of a future event. Do you think there might be some bias in their lists? It follows that if you consult those commentaries before you go to the Scripture, you will likely read Jesus' words in the Olivet Discourse with an inherent bias against a literalistic and futuristic interpretation. As I have attempted to demonstrate in the commentary notes on Matthew 24:15-34+, any interpretation other than a literal interpretation encounters significant problems in trying to make a non-literal interpretation "fit." And so while I admit "this generation" in Mt 24:34 is a controversial phrase, it is patently (and intellectually) unfair to use one's interpretation of this phrase as a reason for jettisoning a literal reading of Matthew 24:15-22+! "This generation" (with up to 6 possible interpretations!) should not be allowed to "trump" (be a decisive overriding factor) a literal reading of the "abomination of desolation" (Mt 24:15+) a clear sign that will mark the starting point of the yet to occur, unprecedented time of the great tribulation (Mt 24:21+). In fact the clear temporal association of the abomination of desolation with the unique great tribulation (When in Mt 24:15+, Then in Mt 24:21+ Daniel 12:11-note), strongly supports a futuristic interpretation because the distress in 70 AD was not UNIQUE and falls well short of the Jewish distress in World War II. While one might say 70 AD foreshadowed the ultimate great tribulation, one cannot in all fairness interpret the great tribulation as fulfilled in 70 AD, unless one spiritualizes or twists the plain meaning of Jesus' words!

In sum, this generation could refer to the evil type of generation that will exist until Jesus returned.

Alternatively, John MacArthur interprets it as the generation which would be alive at His Second Coming.

Hiebert seems to combine these two interpretations of this generation writing that "It seems best to preserve the natural meaning of generation as denoting the people alive at a given time and accept the view that the reference is to that future, turbulent, wicked generation that will see the actual beginning of those eschatological events."

The view that this generation refers to the one that was alive when Jesus spoke these words is untenable!

It is notable that the nearest preceding use of generation (genea) (thus in context) does not speak of time but of king (i.e., is not quantitative but qualitative).

Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 "Truly I say to you, all these things (Ed: Note this is the same phrase as Mt 24:34) shall come upon this generation. (Mt 23:34-36)

Notice that in Mt 23:34-36 Jesus refers to sins that those to whom He is speaking did not directly commit and yet with which they are identified because they like those who had shed blood were also an evil, wicked kind of generation! Jesus use of generation in the preceding chapter would support the interpretation that here in Mt 24:34 He is referring to a kind of generation, an evil generation and not to what would occur within the lifespan generally attributed to one generation (from 30 to 100 years).

Generation (1074)(genea gives us our English genealogy) literally refers to those descended from a common ancestor, but click for more complete discussion below. See also Bob DeWaay's excellent analysis of genea in the New Testament which deals specifically with its use by Jesus in Mt 24:34. DeWaay writes that…

Our range of meaning study has concluded that genea is used more often in the New Testament as a qualitative term than a chronologically quantitative one. Our study in particular of the Gospel of Matthew shows that Matthew uses it in that way. We have also shown that taking the usage in Matthew 24:34 to be within that same range of meaning makes perfect sense in that context and fits with what we know about Bible prophecy from other passages. Therefore, the typical preterist interpretation is contrived and fails to consider the preponderance of evidence in the New Testament for the meaning of genea in such contexts. (Ref)

WHO WILL PASS AWAY?

Will not pass away - As explained in the following discussion of until, the idea is that when all these things have taken place, then the (evil) generation will pass away (cp Mt 24:36-38, 39 = "took them all away", Mt 24:40, 41 = "one will be taken [evil], and one [regenerate, redeemed] will be left," Mt 13:41 = "will gather out of His Kingdom all stumbling blocks and those who commit [present tense = habitually] lawlessness"). In sum, the perverse, evil, unbelieving, adulterous Christ rejecting generation, will pass away into hell and everlasting torment! But God will deliver a remnant of believing Jews (Ro 11:26,27-note) and believing Gentiles (Mt 25:31-41) who will not pass away but in fact will "pass into" the Messiah's Kingdom.

Until - Means up to the point in time. In context Jesus refers to "all these things." Nelson adds that "The word until 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." Here are two uses of until in other eschatological passages…

Mt 13:30 'Allow both to grow together UNTIL the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

Comment: John the Baptize described that woeful day when the harvest would be complete - ""His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Mt 3:12) But UNTIL that day, it is still the day of salvation for all who would believe! Dear skeptical reader, do not delay, for you know not what tomorrow holds. Throw yourself on Jesus Who holds all of your tomorrows and will hold you until tomorrow is no more! Thank you Lord God.

Mt 23:39 "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me UNTIL you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"

Comment: When will Israel make this declaration of love and loyalty? Not UNTIL the Messiah returns and "all Israel" (all that believe in Messiah, 1/3 according to Zech 13:8 = the believing ) is saved. Then the redeemed will cry out to their Redeemer the glorious words of Psalm 118:25! May that day hasten quickly Lord Jesus. Amen

ALL THESE THINGS

All these things take place - What things? Some say all these things up to but not including His return (described in Mt 24 because of Mt 24:33 where Jesus says "when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.") And what would that still include? They would include the cosmic signs of Mt 24:29 that lead up to His return and yet it is clear that they have not occurred. This creates an insurmountable problem for every commentary that says all of these events took place in 70 AD.

CRITIQUE OF THE TOP RATED COMMENTARIES ON
"ALL THESE THINGS" & "THIS GENERATION"

Below are comments on some of the "top five" commentaries on Matthew as determined by Challies and Ligonier. As has been noted elsewhere (See critique of their interpretation of Mt 24:15), all of these commentaries hold to a "preteristic" interpretation of Matthew 24 and see the Roman Army in 70AD as the fulfillment of the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15. It is worthy noting that none of these "acclaimed" commentaries even mention the possibility that the abomination of desolation could be the Antichrist taking his seat in the Temple as described by Paul in 2Thessalonians 2:3-4!

Craig Keener makes a fairly dogmatic statement that "the view (circulated mainly in current popular circles) that Matthew 24 addresses only a tribulation that even readers after 70 assumed to be wholly future is not tenable; Matthew understands that "all these things" (probably referring to the question about the temple's demise—Mt 24:2; Mk 13:4) will happen within a generation (Mt 24:34), language that throughout Jesus' teachings in Matthew refers to the generation then living (e.g., Mt 11:16; 12:39, 45; 16:4; 23:36; cf. Mt 27:25).

Editorial comment: Keener is not correct in making the statement that generation always refers to "generation then living." Notice that Keener conveniently ignores Jesus' uses of "generation" that are used as an adjective to describe the quality or kind of generation (Mt 12:39 = "evil and adulterous generation," Mt 12:45 = "this evil generation," and Mt 16:4 = " evil and adulterous generation") Notice also that Keener does not reference Jesus' pithy pronunciation against the "unbelieving and perverted generation" in (Mt 17:17). In summary, Keener's argument that gener