Matthew Chapters 24 and 25, Part 3
by Karl Kemp
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We continue with this verse-by-verse study of Matthew chapters 24 and 25 here in Part 3, starting with Matt. 24:30, another very important verse.
(30) and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky [[On "the sign [of Christ's coming]," see under the second half of Matt. 24:3 in Part 1 of this paper. The great glory of His appearing will apparently be all the more spectacular in contrast with the existing darkness.], and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn [[They will mourn because judgment day has come. Cf. Rev. 1:7; 6:15-17; Matt. 16:27; and 2 Thess. 1:6-9. All is not negative, however, for those left on the earth after the rapture (as you would assume from verses like Matt. 24:37-41). As discussed under Matt. 24:9-14, many will be converted to Christ after the rapture and become part of God's true Israel; and, beyond that, it seems that God will leave a multitude to enter the millennial kingdom (probably a billion people, or more) who are not part of (and never will be part of) true Israel, called "the nations" in Rev. 15:3, 4; 20:3. (They can be called the remnant of the nations.)
Although there will be some rebelling on the part of some of these people from the nations, or at least on the part of some of their offspring (especially see Rev. 20:7-10; cf. Isa. 65:20; Zech. 14:16-19); those who don't rebel will end up in God's eternal kingdom (see Revelation chapters 21, 22). ((For more on the salvation of the remnant of the nations, see on Dan. 7:12 [pages 74, 75 of "The Mid-Week Rapture"]; on Dan. 7:26, 27 [page 86]; on Zech. 9:10 [page 196]; on Zech. 14:16-21 [pages 233-236]; on Rev. 13:7b, 8 [pages 332-334]; on Rev. 15:4 [pages 244-246]; and see Note 3 [especially the last paragraph] on pages 338-341. Revelation 15:3, 4 are discussed in my paper on Rev. 14:6-19:21, and Rev. 20:3; 21:1-4; 21:24-22:2 are discussed in my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22; both papers are available on this Christian article site. We'll also discuss the salvation of the nations under Matt. 25:31-46 in this paper, and see my paper titled, "More Regarding God's Salvation Plans for the Nations" on my internet site [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching].))]], and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory [[For a start, see number 12 on page 16 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." (He will come with the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, and the rapture will take place at that time.) These words derive from Dan. 7:13, 14, which are discussed in some detail on pages 75-83 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." The adjective "great" could be taken with both "power" and "glory." Note Mark 13:26: "And then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory."
Some other verses that speak of Christ's coming with (great) power are Psalm 110:3; Luke 21:27; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:43; Phil. 3:20, 21; 2 Thess. 1:9 (here Paul mentions "the glory of His power"); 2 Pet. 1:16; Rev. 11:17; and 12:10. Some other verses that speak of His coming with (great) glory are Matt. 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 21:27; and 2 Thess. 1:9.]] (31) And He will send forth His angels [Some other verses that speak of Christ coming with the angels are Matt. 13:30, 39, 41, 49; 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; 13:27; Luke 9:26; 1 Thess. 4:16 (This verse just mentions "the voice of the archangel"; cf. Jude 1:9; Rev. 12:7); 2 Thess. 1:7; Jude 1:14 (see the NIV); and Rev. 12:7.] with A GREAT TRUMPET AND THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. [[The first order of business for Christ, after He has returned and cast down the devil and his angels, will be the gathering to Himself in the sky (the rapture) those who have been waiting for, and loving, His appearing (cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 1:9, 10; 2 Tim. 4:8). (Apparently the casting down of Satan and his angels and the rapture will be essentially simultaneous.)
It is important to see that this is the same trumpet we see in 1 Cor. 15:52 (which speaks of the resurrection and glorification of the believers who will have died before the Lord Jesus returns and the glorification of the believers who are still alive on the earth when He returns at the sounding of the last trumpet); in 1 Thess. 4:16, 17 (which speaks of the resurrection and rapture at the sounding of the trumpet of God); and in Rev. 11:15 (which speaks of God/Christ beginning to reign [the reign includes the salvation of His elect and the judgment of His enemies] at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation). See numbers 11-15 on pages 15-17 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." For a discussion on this resurrection (including the question regarding who will be resurrected at this time), see under Dan. 12:2 on pages 159-161 of my book. On 1 Cor. 15:50-52 see my paper on 1 Corinthians chapter 15 on this Christian article site. On 1 Thess. 4:16-18 see "The Mid-Week Rapture #9" on this Christian article site. On Rev. 11:15 see "The Mid-Week Rapture #7" on this Christian article site.
Second Thess. 2:1 is an important cross-reference, "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our GATHERING TOGETHER [my emphasis] to Him." The Greek noun ("episunagoge") translated "gathering together," which is only used twice in the New Testament, was derived from the verb used in Matt. 24:31 ("episunago"), which is translated "they will GATHER TOGETHER [my emphasis]." The Greek noun ("parousia") translated "coming" in 2 Thess. 2:1 is also used in Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, and 39 (and in quite a few other verses of the New Testament). Second Thess. 2:1-12 are discussed in the last chapter of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." These verses are extremely important on the end times. Second Thess. 2:1-5 are discussed in "Mid-Week Rapture #3" and 2 Thess. 2:9-12 in "Mid-Week Rapture #13," both available on this Christian article site.
The last words of Matt. 24:31, "from the four winds [which is like saying "from the north, south, east, and west"], from one end of the sky to the other [that is, from every place on the earth under the sky]" mean worldwide. See Mark 13:27.
Gathering the Elect End-Time Remnant of Israel. In most of the verses that speak of the end-time gathering (saving) of Israel, the remnant of the nation Israel are spoken of, but it seems clear that many Gentiles will also be converted to Christ after the rapture and become part of God's true Israel, even as we Gentiles who become Christians in the days before the rapture are grafted into God's true Israel (cf. Rom. 11:17-24). (See under "Further discussion to help show that the Christian church is part of God's true Israel and part of the seed [offspring] of God's true Israel" on pages 315, 316 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," and see under Rev. 12:17b on pages 323, 324.)
I believe the great trumpet of Isa. 27:12, 13 is also in view here in Matt. 24:31. God will begin to gather (save) the end-time elect remnant of the nation Israel on the earth at the time of Christ's mid-week return. See number 14 on page 17 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"; see on Mic. 5:3-6 (pages 251-254); on Zech. 9:11-10:12 [The trumpet of Zech. 9:14 probably refers to this same mid-week trumpet pictured in Matt. 24:31] (pages 196-202); on Zech. 12:1-14:5 (pages 221-231); on Rev. 11:13 (pages 288, 289); on Rev. 11:19 (page 304); on Rev. 12:6 (page 317); and on Rev. 12:12-17 (pages 321-324). The discussion of Rev. 7:1-8 (pages 176-179) is also quite relevant, and many other verses also deal with the end-time salvation and gathering of the end-time remnant of Israel, including Deut. 30:1-10, espec. verse 4; Isa. 11:11-16; Jer. 23:1-8; 30:1-11, 18-22; 31:1-40; 32:36-44; 33:1-26; Ezek. 20:33-44; 34:1-31; 36:1-38; 37:1-28; Hos. 2:14-23; Joel 2:32-3:21 (Joel 2:32-3:2 are discussed on pages 156-158 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture."); Mic. 2:12, 13; 7:14-20; and Rom. 9:27-29; 11:25-32. Many of these passages are also discussed in my "Twenty-Four Articles on the Mid-Week Rapture" series that is available on this Christian article site. (To see the passages that are discussed in that paper see the primary content section at the beginning of that paper on my internet site.) Also see the papers that discuss selected eschatological passages on the books of Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah on my internet site. Verse-by-verse discussions of Isaiah chapters 11 and 27 are included in the paper on Isaiah, for example. Excerpts from the paper on Jeremiah are included on this Christian article site.
Christ will also ultimately gather the nations into God's eternal kingdom, as discussed briefly under the mourning of Matt. 24:30 (cf., e.g., Rev. 21:1-22:3). They are part of God's elect; as Rev. 21:27 shows, their names are in the Lamb's book of life (they are saved through His atoning death), but apparently they will always be distinct from God's true Israel.]] (32) Now learn the parable from the fig tree [Luke 21:29 has, "Behold the fig tree and all the trees"; this reading in Luke helps show that the fig tree doesn't represent Israel here in Matt. 24:32.]: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; (33) even so you too, when you see all these things [[Mark 13:29 and Luke 21:31 don't have the word "all" with "these things." Quite a few events/signs are mentioned in the preceding verses, very much including the abomination of desolation, the short great tribulation, and the sun and moon being darkened. The fact that Israel became a nation in 1948 and that they conquered old Jerusalem and the temple mount in 1967 were very important; those things had to happen before the Lord Jesus could return, but they hardly served to demonstrate that His coming is "right at the door." So too for the increase in wars, earthquakes, famines, etc. in our day. The seven-year treaty/covenant of Dan. 9:27, once we are sure that that treaty/covenant has been ratified, and the rebuilding of the temple, however, will serve as definite end-time signs, but not quite that He is "right at the door."
Once we see a definite sign like the abomination of desolation (confirmed by other things like the ministry of the two prophets throughout the first half of Daniel's 70th week and the sounding of the first six trumpets in sequence), we will know that Christ's coming is very near. When we see definite things happen like the short great tribulation being followed by the darkness of the sun and moon and the killing of the two prophets of Revelation chapter 11, we will know that the Lord Jesus is "right at the door." When the seventh trumpet sounds and the two prophets of Revelation chapter 11 come back to life and are caught up in the air THE DOOR WE ARE WAITING FOR WILL BE OPEN.]], recognize that He [speaking of Christ, at His mid-week return] is near, right at the door. (34) Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (35) Heaven and earth will pass away [Cf., e.g., Isa. 51:6; 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:10-13; and Rev. 20:11; 21:1.], but My words shall not pass away. [[Those who heard the words of Matt. 24:34 in the years between AD 30 and 70, or so, undoubtedly assumed that they applied to their generation (cf. Matt. 23:36), and that their generation would live to see the return of Christ. However, it didn't take long after the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem (in AD 70) to discern that the end hadn't come. (There was no Antichrist, abomination of desolation followed by the short great tribulation, the darkened sun and moon, and the coming of Christ in glory, etc., as required by these words of Christ in the Olivet discourse, and the prophecies of Daniel and others.) From our perspective, these words of Matt. 24:34 apparently mean that the generation that begins to see the definite end-time signs will see the return of Christ.]] (36) But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. [[Cf. Acts 1:6, 7. The dominant idea here is, since no one but the Father knows the time of Christ's return, it is of critical importance for each Christian of each generation to get ready, and to stay ready, for His return. (See Matt. 24:42 with 24:43-51; and 25:13 with 25:1-30.) The truth emphasized here must be held in tension with, and be used to balance out, the teaching of Matt. 24:9-35 that there will be events/signs signaling the nearness of Christ's coming (see 24:32-34). Signs, or no signs, it is mandatory for all Christians of all generations to always be faithful and ready for His coming.
We certainly cannot wait for definite end-time signs to get ready for the return of Christ. From our perspective, we can see that many generations of Christians have lived out their lives, and died, before the definite end-time signs appeared. What if they had waited to see definite end-time signs before they got serious with God to get ready for Christ's coming? For one thing, we don't know for sure when we're going to die - we can't afford to put off getting ready for Christ's return. Also, to the extent Christians aren't walking close to God, the more they can be deceived and fail to properly respond even when the definite signs do appear. Furthermore, as we'll discuss in the paragraph after next, if Christians are willfully living in sin, they may well find Christ coming for them in judgment, like a thief in the night, before the time of His mid-week return.
It seems clear that at the time of the Olivet discourse (Matthew chapters 24, 25) Christ didn't know the time of His return. He said He didn't in this verse. He clearly had some limitations after His great condescension (in the will of God the Father) to become a man (cf., e.g., Phil. 2:6-8; Luke 2:52; Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15; and 5:8), though He didn't become just a man - He became the God-man; He didn't cease being deity, God the Son. It seems that even after His resurrection, Jesus didn't immediately know all the details regarding the end of the age (cf. Rev. 1:1), but I wouldn't want to be dogmatic on that point.
Jesus didn't tell us here in Matt. 24:36 (or in Acts 1:6, 7) that Christians will continue in ignorance regarding the time of His coming until the end - we won't. It seems that we are being given more light all the time. Our being given the book of Revelation (some sixty-five years after the Olivet discourse was given, and some twenty-five to forty years after the Gospel of Matthew was written, assuming that Matthew was written in the late fifties, or in the sixties) was quite significant, and it seems that God is giving us more understanding of the book of Revelation (and of other prophetic passages) in these last days.
Once we see the abomination of desolation, we should know the time of His coming, at least within a few days. I don't believe there is much difference between knowing the exact date of Christ's return and knowing the date within a few days. I don't believe it would be detrimental for Christians truly living for God in the last few years before Christ returns to know the exact date of His coming. (I'm not saying that we necessarily will know the exact date, even after the abomination of desolation is manifested. Sometimes the Bible uses round [approximate] numbers. See the "Discussion on the Time of the Death of the Two Prophets and the Time of Their Resurrection and Rapture" on pages 287, 288 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.") Such Christians wouldn't abuse this information as an opportunity to live in sin for a while, before repenting and getting ready for the day of Christ's return. Surely no true Christian could be that sinfully stupid.
A dominant message that permeates Matt. 24:42-51 (which we'll discuss below) is that if any Christian of any generation starts thinking that he has enough time to go off into sin for a while, since Christ isn't coming for a while, he is making a big mistake. Such a Christian may find Christ coming for him in judgment as a thief in the night. See 1 Thess. 5:2. It is important to note that the apostle Paul doesn't say in this verse that Christ is coming like a thief in the night for those who are ready for His coming (as many wrongly teach); see 1 Thess. 5:3, 4. (1 Thess 5:1-11 are discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture" on pages 37-40; and 2 Thess. 5:1-6 are discussed in article #s 1 and 2 of the "The Mid-Week Rapture" series on this Christian article site.)
Christ couldn't come as a thief in the night for those watching for His coming, which includes being faithful to Him and living in His truth (by His grace), nor would He have any reason to come against them in judgment, like a thief in the night. Also see Rev. 3:3; 16:15; and Matt. 24:43, 44, 48-51.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR US TO SEE THAT THE EXHORTATIONS AND WARNINGS OF MATT. 24:36-25:30 ARE ESPECIALLY NEEDED BY, AND AIMED AT, THOSE WHO LIVE ON THE EARTH IN THE DAYS BEFORE THE DEFINITE END-TIME SIGNS APPEAR. For further discussion on Matt. 24:32-36, see under "Will We Know the Date of His Return" on pages 49-52 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.")]] (37) For [The KJV and NKJV have "But," based on a different reading ("de") in the Greek. This same Greek word (de) is often translated "and," or, "now," and it is often left untranslated. I prefer the translation "and," "now," or just leaving this word untranslated, with the NIV, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man."] the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. (38) For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, (39) and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. [[The judgment of the flood of Noah's day prefigures the flood of judgment that will flow when Christ returns to judge the world. There is nothing wrong with eating and drinking, or marrying and giving in marriage, but the problem is that multitudes will keep on doing such things until Christ returns, all the while being indifferent, or even antagonistic, to their need to repent and to submit to Christ in humble, obedient, faith and get ready for the day of judgment. It is important to observe that these words don't apply to all people, just those not fully living for Christ as we approach the day of judgment.
Noah and his family were ready for the judgment of the flood, and they entered the ark at the appropriate time, even as those ready for the return of Christ will be taken in the rapture when He returns. Noah and his family didn't know exactly when the flood was coming, but they undoubtedly knew that the ark must be finished before the flood came, and they certainly weren't taken by surprise when the flood did come. EVENTUALLY NOAH EVEN KNEW (by revelation from God) when it was time to enter the ark, and THAT THE RAIN WOULD BEGIN IN SEVEN DAYS - THAT IS RATHER SPECIFIC, ISN'T IT? (See Gen. 7:1-5.) In like manner, all Christians can, and should, and must, be fully prepared for Christ's return - those who are prepared, and waiting, and watching, certainly won't be surprised at all by the time of His coming.]] (40) Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. (41) Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. [[The ones taken will be taken in the rapture, like Noah and his family were taken in the ark, thereby escaping the flood of judgment that will fall on the earth; the ones left will face the judgment of God. The Greek verb translated "will be taken" in verses 40, 41 is "paralambano," the same verb used in John 14:3: "And if go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive ["paralambano"] you to Myself; that where I am you may be also." A different Greek verb ("airo") is used in Matt. 24:39 of being taken away in judgment, "and took them all away."]] (42) Therefore [[This word refers back to Matt. 24:36-41. Since we don't know when the Lord will come (speaking, at least for the most part) for those Christians who will live on the earth in the days before the definite end-time signs appear), we need to be exhorted to "be on the alert" all the time. Note that this verse goes on to say, "be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming." Those Christians who live to see the abomination of desolation, for example, shouldn't need to be exhorted to be on the alert. They (essentially all true Christians) will be on the alert!]] be on the alert [[This Greek verb can be translated other ways: The NIV has, "Therefore keep watch"; and the KJV and NKJV have, "Watch therefore"; the Greek verb includes the idea of keeping awake; we must continually be awake (alert, watchful) in a spiritual sense, never asleep (cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 5:6; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 3:2, 3; 16:15). I'll quote part of what J. A. Bengel said on this verse ("New Testament Word Studies," Vol. 1 [Kregel Publications, 1971]; originally written in Latin in 1742): "Watch, Greek 'Gregoreite,' Latin 'Vigilate'; - This was the reason, no doubt, that the name 'Gregory' and 'Vigilantius' were so common in the ancient Church."]], for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. [[Mark 13:33 has, "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed (this word is in italics in the NASB) time is." As I mentioned, the dominant thought here is that since we don't know the time of Christ's coming, it is mandatory for each Christian of each generation to always be alert and ready for His return. Also, as I mentioned, these words are aimed (at least for the most part) at those Christians (many generations) who live on the earth in the days before the definite end-time signs are manifested.]] (43) But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. [[This verse (and the following verses) illustrates the need for all Christians to always be awake, alert, watching, ready, prepared; then the thief won't be able to steal from those in the house. Since we don't know when the thief is coming, we must always be ready/prepared. And since we don't know when the Lord will return, we must always be ready/prepared for His return.]] (44) For this reason [since we don't know the time of His coming] you be ready [at all times] too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. [[(Cf. Luke 12:40.) In the first place, it should be noted that there never will be an hour when we do not think the Lord is coming for those who heed Jesus' admonition contained in Matt. 24:36-51. Since He has commanded us to always be ready for His return, not knowing the time of His return, we'll never think of an hour/time that we don't think He is coming. The idea here - as Matt. 24:48-51 confirm - is of a Christian thinking he has time to live in sin for a while, and then repent, before Christ returns. Such thinking is always faulty (not to mention quite sinful), and very dangerous. Even if Christ doesn't return in glory (which could happen while that "Christian" is asleep in sin and totally unprepared for His return), He may well come in judgment against that Christian in judgment (as we discussed under Matt. 24:36), or that Christian may just die in sin before the Lord returns.
Anyway, as I mentioned in "The Mid-Week Rapture," I believe there is a better way to translate the Greek here (and in Luke 12:40), a way that communicates the idea Jesus intended: "FOR THE HOUR THAT YOU DO NOT THINK HE COMES [and you are not alert and watching and ready for His coming, as you have been commanded to do], THE SON OF MAN COMES." And again, the point is that there must never be such an hour/time when we think we have time to live in sin (not living in the center of His will) before repenting to get ready for His coming. In Matt. 24:48-51 Jesus goes on to speak of a Christian, even a person in leadership, who "says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time' " and proceeds to live in sin, until he gets a rude awakening when his master comes and assigns "him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Jesus called him an "evil slave/servant."]] (45) Who then is the faithful and sensible slave [The KJV, NKJV, and the NIV have "servant."] whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? (46) Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. [In other words, that Christian (in this case a leader in the Body of Christ) stays alert and faithful to his Master to the end.] (47) Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. [Cf., e.g., Matt. 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17, 19.] (48) But if that evil slave says in his heart, "My master is not coming for a long time [In other words, this is an hour/time that he doesn't think that his master will return, and that he has some time for some "fun" with good old sin before getting ready for his master's return.]," (49) and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; (50) the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know [As I mentioned, the point is that there must never be such an hour/time for a Christian, and there never will be such a time for those who remain alert and faithful to the Master and His instructions.], (51) and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites [which he certainly proved himself to be; Luke 12:46 speaks of assigning him a place with the unbelievers]; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.' " [[It doesn't really make much difference whether the Lord Jesus comes after this slave/servant in judgment at the end of this age, or at an earlier time, or whether the slave/Christian just dies in sin - the end result will be the same. It seems that this slave truly was a Christian at the beginning (he is represented a Christian in this parable); he was even put in a position of substantial leadership over the other slaves (Christians); this fact makes his sin all the more serious. See Luke 12:35-48. Matt. 24:42-51 are discussed on pages 43-45 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture" and in "The Mid-Week Rapture #5" on this Christian article site.]]
We are finished with the verse-by-verse study of Matthew chapter 24. We will start with Matt. 25:1 in Part 4 of this paper.
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