End of time, or end of Jerusalem? Unlocking a widely misused text: Matthew 24
“ The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here....Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation. ” (Mt. 12:41-42, 45) “This Generation”
4 “Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send unto them prophets and apostles; and some of them they shall kill and persecute; that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zachariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary: yea, I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation.” (Lk. 11:49-51) “This Generation”
“ But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call to their fellows and say, We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn. ” (Mt. 11:16-17; Lk. 7:31-32) “This Generation”
“But first must he suffer many things and be rejected of this generation.” (Lk. 17:25) “Truly, truly I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” (Mt. 23:36) “And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (Acts 2:40)
Compare the texts: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” – Matt. 24:3 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” – Mark 13:4 “Teacher, when therefore will these things be? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” – Luke 21:7
What are “these things”? “These things” in all three texts refers to the destruction of the temple The “sign” Jesus gives is the “abomination of desolation” (v.15), or “Jerusalem surrounded by armies” (Luke 21:20) Warnings about fleeing to the mountains, not returning to one’s house to gather possessions, praying for good weather, etc., make no sense in an end-time context
What are “these things”? “Let the reader understand” (v. 15) tells us Matthew’s readers were to expect these events Therefore, vs.1-28 must be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem
“The End” (Dan. 9:26; Mt. 24:3, 6, 13-14) Samaria in 722 B.C. (Amos 8:1-3, 10) Nineveh in 612 BC (Nah. 1:8-9) Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (Ezek. 7:1-9; Hab. 2:2-3) Babylon in 539 B.C. (Dan. 5:26) Jewish persecution in 165/164 BC (Dan. 8:17, 19) Kings of the North and South (Dan. 11:27, 35, 40; 12:4, 8-9, 13) Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Dan. 9:26; Mt. 24:3, 6, 13-14)
What about v.29-31? This happens “immediately after …” Many times in the Bible similar apocalyptic language refers to the destruction of nations.
Cataclysmic Astronomical Phenomena Judgment on Babylon (Isa. 13:1,10,13,17) Judgment on Edom (Isa. 34:4) Judgment on the Peoples (Isa. 51:6) Judgment on Judah (Jer. 4:23-24, 28) Judgment on Egypt (Ezek. 32:1,7-8) Judgment on Judah (Joel 2:10, 31) Judgment on the Nations (Joel 3:15- 16) Judgment on Israel (Amos 8:9) Judgment on Jerusalem (Mt. 24:29) Judgment of the Sixth Seal (Rev. 6:12- 14)
What about v.29-31? This happens “immediately after …” Many times in the Bible similar apocalyptic language refers to the destruction of nations. The language draws attention to a day of judgment that should be noted and anticipated Luke uses the same words in 21:25-28; they clearly refer only to A.D. 70 (21:20 - “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies”) Therefore, Matt. 24:1-31 must be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem
What about v.32-34? The parable of the fig tree indicates a specific sign they were to watch for “He is near” (v.33) connects to the “coming” of Christ in v.30 All would transpire in the generation that was living then (v.34) Therefore, v.1-34 must be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem v.35 could be a transition point, or it could merely emphasize the reliability of Jesus’ words
What about v.36? True, “no one knows” the day of Jesus’ second coming at the end of time, but no one knew when Jerusalem would be destroyed, either – that’s why Jesus gave them the signs. “That day” likely connects back to Christ’s “coming” in v.33 and 30, which was in judgment on Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Or, “that day” could refer to “heaven and earth” passing away, which would likely make v.35 the transition to a discussion of the final judgment.
What about v.37-41? The “coming” of Christ (connects to v.27) is compared to the flood, which came suddenly after specific signs (Noah’s preaching, the construction of the ark, etc.). Parallel to Luke 17:17-37, which clearly speaks of Jerusalem (see v.37 and Mt. 24:28). Vs.40-41 isn’t “the rapture”; those taken are taken in judgment. Therefore, vs.1-41 seems to be still referring to the destruction of Jerusalem
What about the parables? Jesus tells them to wait alertly (the head of the house), morally (the faithful slaves), thoughtfully (the virgins), and actively (the talents) This alertness certainly has application to the end of time, but these are principles that refer to all of God’s judgments Possibly Matt. 25:1 is a transition point to the final judgment – “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to…”
What about 25:31-46? The Lord’s coming is described differently here: “in His glory, and all the angels with Him” “All the nations” weren’t judged in A.D. 70; no apocalyptic language here Therefore Matthew 25:31-46 must refer to the judgment scene at the end of time
Will You Become A Christian? Hear the Gospel (Rom. 10:17) Believe in Jesus as the Son of God (Mark 16:16) Repent of Your Sins (Acts 17:30) Confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) Be Baptized for Forgiveness of Sins (Acts 2:38) Live Faithfully until You Die (Rev. 2:10)
Your consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website.