Matthew 24:1-51 - Outline of Matthew (MENU page)
   The Olivet Discourse, ch. 24 and 25
24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:
and his disciples came to [him] for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things?
verily I say unto you,
There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Jesus went out, and departed...-
The religious leaders have rejected the King.
He has denounced them and pronounced judgment upon them (23:36) and their 'house' (23:38).
Now, He abandons them to that judgment. cp. Jer 6:8
his disciples... - saw things differently. cp. Mark 13:1-2; Luk 21:5,6
The eye of flesh is impressed with earthly glories and wonders.
there shall not be left here one stone upon another...- cp. 1Kin 9:7-9; Mic 3:9-12; Luk 19:43,44
For all of their impressiveness, the accomplishments and monuments of mankind will crumble.
As believers, we should not be too attached to these things. cp. 2Pet 3:10,11
24:3 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
{GK=aion, age}?
The disciples asked three distinct questions. Jesus will answer each of them.
For proper understanding, His answers must be considered from...
  1. the perspective of the questioners. The disciples were...
    1. Jews,
    2. expecting the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom,
    3. aware of OT prophecies regarding the Time of Jacob's Trouble. (eg., Deu 4:27-31; Jer 30:7)
  2. the perspective of those whom Jesus had been addressing (cp. Mat 23:37-39),
    ie., the Jewish people and nation.
It is clear that Israel (not the Church) is the subject of this discourse. There are many lessons that the Church believer can apply in ch. 24. But the events described relate specifically to Israel.
Three questions:
Jesus answered in chronological order of fulfillment, rather than in the order in which they were asked.
  1. When shall these things be? - (ie., the time when one stone will not be left upon another)
    The answer to this question, is found in Luke's account of the Olivet Discourse, which foretells the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (see Luk 21:20-24). Matthew is the Gospel of the King and the coming Kingdom. Therefore, the text before us looks beyond that destruction (which was soon to come), to the future return of the King.
  2. What shall be the sign of the end of the age? - answered in three parts -
    1. Characteristics of the Age, prior to the time of its end (v.4-8).
    2. Characteristics of the End of the Age, the Tribulation period (v.9-14).
      This seven year period begins with the re-establishment of a peace treaty involving Israel (after the Rapture of the Church, an event which Mat ch. 24 does not mention), and ends at the second coming of Christ to earth. (See discussion of v.15-31 below.)
    3. The Sign of the End of the Age,
      and the characteristics of the ''Great Tribulation'' period (v.15-25),
      (the last half of the 7 year Tribulation, a time of unprecedented trouble on the earth).
  3. What shall be the sign of thy coming? - answered in v.26-31
 
Time line showing relative timing of answers to Questions # 1, 2 and 3 -
                                               The Church in heaven    Christ's
The Jerusalem The Mystery Age ^ return
Cross destroyed (see ch. 13) | to earth
_|_ 70 AD ('the age', v.3) |Q.#2b Q.#2c Q.#3
_______________|___|____________________________|___________|__________|____
| | - - - - - v.4-8 - - - - - | | v.15-25 |
Jesus gives the Q.#1 Q.#2a | v.9-14 |v.26-31
Olivet Discourse |-the Beginnings of Sorrows- |-- Jacob's Trouble -- |
24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them,
Take heed that no man deceive you.
24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled:
for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers
{ie., various} places.
24:8 All these [are] the beginning of sorrows.
the beginning of sorrows- These are not signs of the end of the age,
but rather these troubles characterize the age, increasing throughout the period and reaching their fullest intensity during the 'Time of Jacob's Trouble.' Since this age is also the age of Christendom, it is evident that Christianity does not bring peace on earth. cp. Mark 13:5-8; Luk 21:8-11
These troubles may be grouped as Spiritual, Political, and Natural:
Note that Luke's account briefly looks forward to this troubled age, and then turns back to events that would occur before these things, focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and the related persecution of believers (Luk 21:11,12). Matthew and Mark look forward to this age, and then look beyond to the end of the age: ''... the beginnings of sorrows. Then...'' (v.8,9)
24:9 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.
24:10 And then shall many be offended,
and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached
in all the world
{GK=oikoumene, inhabited earth} for a witness unto all nations;
and then shall the end come.
Then... - ie., as 'the beginnings of sorrows' are drawing to a close.
v.9-14 apply primarily to the Tribulation period (especially the first half).
Characteristics of the End of the Age-
  • you {3x}... shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake...- cp. Rev 12:13
    Remember, Jesus is speaking to the Jewish nation.
    These afflictions inflicted by other nations describe intensifying antisemitism, against Israel.
  • many offended... hate one another...- cp. Mat 10:21-36
    There will be divisions within Israel, especially concerning the identity of the Messiah.
  • false prophets... deceive many...- cp. Mat 7:15; Rev 13:11-14; 19:20
    As false teachers characterize the Christian era; false prophets characterize the Jewish era.
  • iniquity abounds... love of many grows cold- cp. Jam 4:4; 5:1-5; Rev 3:15,16
  • the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached... to all nations- cp. Rev 11:15; 12:17; 14:6,7
    This message, preached by John the Baptist (Mat 3:2) and by Jesus during His early ministry (4:17), was set aside when Israel rejected the King. During the Tribulation period, it will be preached again, because the second coming of the King will be near.
    [During the present age, we proclaim the Gospel of the Grace of God in Christ Jesus (Acts 20:24,25), which enables entrance into His spiritual kingdom (Col 1:5,6,12-14). The Gospel of the Kingdom relates specifically to imminent return of the King to establish His earthly Kingdom.]
he that endures unto the end... shall be saved (v.13)-
Men cannot earn salvation by enduring troubles (not even the intense sufferings of the Tribulation).
However, in every age, true believers persevere in the Faith, by God's power to keep them.
cp. v.24; Joh 10:27-29; Rom 8:29,30; 1Cor 1:8; Php 1:6; 2The 3:3,4; 1Pet 1:5; 1Joh 2:19
This verse (v.13) may also be a promise of physical deliverance: ie., those believers who survive the Tribulation period will live to enjoy the restoration of the earth in the Kingdom of the Messiah.
then shall the end come- cp. Dan 9:24; 1Pet 4:7
ie., the end of the age, the end of Gentile world dominion,
the end of God's prophetic plan for sinful man...
24:15 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:)
24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
24:17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
24:18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
24:19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
24:21 For then shall be great tribulation
{lit., tribulation, the great one},
such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved:
but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
when ye shall see the abomination of desolation... stand in the Holy Place...- (v.15; cp. Mark 13:14-20)
This is the sign of the end of the age, and of the beginning of 'the Great Tribulation' (v.21), which is the latter half of the seven year Tribulation period.
...(whoso readeth let him understand)...-
Jesus knew what He was talking about. But apparently, the meaning was unclear to Matthew and Mark.
Because the Lord told us that 'the abomination of desolation was spoken of by Daniel the prophet,' He intends for believers to understand.
In the notes below, we will examine the relevant passage in Daniel. (May the Holy Spirit teach us.)
[For a more detailed look at this prophetic passage, see the Book Notes on Daniel ch. 9.]
The elements of this prophecy specifically relate to Israel (not to the Church).-
  • the Holy Place (v.15)- is the Temple in Jerusalem. The Church has no earthly Temple.
    Note: Since the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, another Temple must be built in Jerusalem, before this prophecy can be fulfilled.
  • those who are in Judea (v.16)- refers to Jewish people living in the land of Israel, at that future time.
    Note: For about 1900 years during the present age, Israel was dispersed from her land. Only recently has there been a substantial (but partial) restoration of the people to the land. This prerequisite for prophetic fulfillment is now in place.
  • the sabbath (v.20)- restricts Jewish travelers, but would have no such effect on the Church.
    Although many Jews currently living in Israel are not observant, a substantial portion of the population keeps the Sabbath, including travel limitations.
Daniel the prophet - was given the key to understanding this sign, in
The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27) -
  1. ''Seventy weeks {ie., 'sevens'} are determined upon thy people (ie., Israel)...''
        The Babylonian captivity and destruction of Jerusalem, in 586 BC, marked the beginning of the ''Times of the Gentiles,'' which will continue until Christ returns to reign over the world from Jerusalem [cp. Jer 39:1-3 (re: the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon); Luk 21:24 (re: the fall of Jerusalem to Rome in 70AD, and beyond)]. Daniel's ''70 weeks'' trace the path to Israel's final restoration, and the fulfillment of God's prophetic purposes, at the return of Christ (Dan 9:24).
        Daniel was among the first captives taken to Babylon. He spent most of his life as a eunuch in the service of the Babylonian Empire. When he was an old man, he asked the LORD to enable him to understand the meaning of Jeremiah's prophecy which foretold that Israel would be in servitude to Babylon for a period of 70 years (Dan 9:1-3; Jer 25:11,12).
        The prophecy which he received outlines Seventy periods of seven years each (70 'weeks' of years, for a total of 490 years) beginning with the decree ''to restore and to build Jerusalem'' following the Babylonian captivity of Israel (Dan 9:25a). This decree, which was issued by a gentile king, enabled a Jewish exiles to return and rebuild Jerusalem (as recorded in the book of Nehemiah). (The book of Ezra describes a somewhat earlier return, by decree of another gentile king, for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple, but not the city.)
  2. Jerusalem would be re-established during the first 7 weeks (49 years). Dan 9:25a
    The book of Nehemiah records those ''troublous times.''
  3. At the end of an additional 62 weeks Messiah would ''be cut off, but not for Himself.'' Dan 9:25,26a
    (Because, He would be crucified, for the sins of the world.)
    When would this occur? The time is calculated from the figures in the prophecy:
    • 7 weeks + 62 weeks {threescore and two} = 69 weeks.
    • 7 years per 'week' x 69 weeks = 483 years after the decree ''in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes'' (Neh 2) which secular history places at about 445 BC.
    • Therefore, Messiah would be cut off at approximately 35 AD.
      This simplified overview of the calculations, does not take into consideration differences between the Hebrew (lunar) and Gregorian (solar) calendars. Much greater accuracy is possible, but it is not necessary for the present discussion.
  4. Following Messiah's death, Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed. Dan 9:26b
    This was fulfilled by the Romans in 70 AD, as Jesus foretold in v.2 and Luk 21:20-24.
  5. Following that destruction of Jerusalem, a troubled age would pass.
    Dan 9:26c is literally: ''unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined.'' cp. v.4-8
    [Because the King of the Jews was rejected, and the Kingdom was postponed, the time determined upon Israel was frozen (at the end of the 69 weeks) until the end of the ''mystery period'' (ie., the present dispensation, the Age of Grace), which is described in the parables concerning 'the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven,' in ch.13.]
  6. Israel's "seventieth week" will begin when 'the prince that shall come' (ie., the antichrist, Dan 9:26b)
    confirms {ie., guarantees} a covenant {a peace treaty, an alliance} with Israel and other nations, ''for one week'' (ie., for a period lasting seven years, Dan 9:27a). Apparently, the Temple will be rebuilt in a divided Jerusalem as a condition of this covenant (Rev 11:1,2). Jesus describes the first half of this seven year period in v.9-14.
  7. At the middle of this seven year period, the antichrist will stop the Jewish Temple sacrifices,
    to establish himself in the Temple as the one to be worshipped.
    This is the Abomination of Desolation. cp. Dan 9:27b; 12:11; 2The 2:3-4; Rev 13:4-8
The warning to flee is directed to the believing remnant of Israel,
because the antichrist will seek to destroy them. cp. v.15,16; Zech 14:2; Rev 12:13-17
except those days should be shortened... no flesh {would be} saved.-
  • This is emphatic of the severity of the Great Tribulation. In three and a half years, the population of the world will come very near self-extermination.
  • should be shortened - This is stated in the past tense in Mark 13:20:
    ''except the Lord had shortened those days...'' - implying that the time is fixed and limited at a specific length (ie., a period of 'three and half years,' '42 months,' or '1260 days,' eg. Rev 11:1-3; 12:6,14 ). These limits were established in Dan 9:24, 'seventy weeks are determined...'.
for the elect's sake...- The 'elect' (in v.22,24) should not be misread as the Church.
In the OT, Israel was God's 'elect' (or, 'chosen'). cp. Deu 7:6-8
The 'elect' here are the believing remnant of Israel. cp. Rom 11:5,7,28; Rev 12:17
24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not.
24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets,
and shall shew great signs and wonders;
insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
24:25 Behold, I have told you before.
24:26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth:
behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not.
24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
24:29 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:
24:30 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.
24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet,
and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
In answer to the question: 'What shall be the sign of thy coming?' (v.3)
1. Jesus warns of deceptive false signs leading to false christs. v.23-26; cp. Mark 13:21-23
then {ie., during the Great Tribulation}... shall arise...
  1. false christs, and false prophets - notably the two 'beasts' of Rev 13,
    the antichrist (Rev 13:1-10), and the false prophet (Rev 13:11-18).
  2. great signs and wonders cp. 2The 2:8-11; cp. Deu 13:1-3; Joh 5:43
2. Jesus describes His return. v.27-31; cp. Mark 13:24-27
  1. Where?
    1. as the lightning...- v.26,27
      His coming will neither be isolated geographically, nor hidden.
    2. where the carcass is...- v.28; cp. Job 39:27-30
      He will come to judge moral corruption wherever it is found.
  2. When?
  3. How?
    1. then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man- ie., His 'power and great glory',
      cp. v.30; Mat 16:27; 26:63,64; Acts 1:9-11
      sign- GK=semeion, a sign, mark, token, that by which a person is distinguished from others and known [OLB]
    2. all the tribes of the earth {ie., the land} shall mourn... shall see... - v.30
      The word for 'earth' is GK=ge, land, country. cp. 'land' in Mat 2:6,20,21
      This describes the response of the twelve tribes of Israel to His coming in glory.
      cp. Zech 12:10-14; Rev 1:7
    3. He shall send His angels... they shall gather... His elect...- v.31
      • Note that this is not the Rapture of the Church.
        At the Rapture, ''The Lord Himself'' (not the angels) will catch the Church away at the sound of His voice (a voice like that of an archangel, and like that of a trumpet). cp. 1The 4:16,17; Rev 1:10; 4:1
      • This is the gathering of the remnant of Israel into His earthly Kingdom.
24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; {cp. Mark 13:28-32; Luk 21:29-33}
When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer [is] nigh:
24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things,
know that it is near, [even] at the doors.
24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven,
but my Father only.
the fig tree- represents Israel...
- - which was cursed and withered due to their rejection of their King. Mat 21:18,19; Hos 9:10
- - which will be restored. cp. Jer 24:1-6
when it is tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near.-
  • With the 'greening' of Israel (ie., the re-establishment of the nation in the land, in 1948 AD) we know that the season approaches. Just as, following the Babylonian captivities, Israel had to be restored to her land before Messiah's first advent, so, she must be in her land prior to His second coming to His Temple.
  • But the sign is not the greening of Israel, but ''when you shall see all these things'' (v.33; cp. NIV trans. of Mark 13:29 and Luk 21:31: ''when you see all these things happening'') ie., the things described in v.9-25 concerning the end of the age.
know that it {or, 'He'} is near, even at the doors.-
ie., the coming of the long awaited Person, and His promised Kingdom, as in v.30,31.
this generation shall not pass...-
generation- GK=genea; people of a certain lineage, race, or time period, a lifespan.
Possible suggested meanings -
  1. The generation contemporary to the twelve disciples.
    This view is flawed since they saw only the destruction of Jerusalem, not the end of the age.
  2. The generation contemporary to the re-establishment of Israel in the land.
    As usually taught, this view assumed a biblical generation to be about 40 years in length, and began counting from Israel's re-establishment in 1948. This view is flawed -
    • as demonstrated by the passage of more than 50 years.
    • in its assumption of a 40 year generational length
      (a biblical lifespan would appear to be 70 - 80 years, Psa 90:10).
    • in its potential conflict with v.36.
      While not predictive of 'day or hour', it attempts to bracket a time period.
    • in its counting from Israel's 'setting forth of leaves,'
      rather than from 'when ye shall see all these things.'
  3. When the events of the Tribulation period ('all these things') become evident, an average lifespan will not pass before the Lord's return.
    • This view is accurate, but seems superfluous, since once the Tribulation begins, its duration is set at seven years.
    • However, if the signs are recognizably present for awhile prior to the Tribulation, then there is merit to the view. By this test, we are already in such a period, as these notes are being written.
  4. The nation or race of Israel will not be annihilated despite the events of the Tribulation.
    This view presents a supernatural promise to Israel, at a time when her survival will seem doubtful. The preservation of Israel is as secure as God's Word. cp. v. 35; Jer 31:35-37
  5. The nation or race of Israel will continue in a state of unbelief until Christ's coming.
    Note that throughout Matthew, the word 'generation' is used frequently in the context of Israel's unbelief
    (eg., Mat 3:7; 12:39,41,42,45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:33).
    That generation (ie., Israel in unbelief) will pass when ''all these things are fulfilled'' (ie., at Christ's return). cp. Zech 12:10; 13:1; Ezek 39:7,22,29; Rom 11:26
(Points c., d., e. above are not mutually exclusive. The editor considers each of these to be valid.)
24:37 But as the days of Noe {Noah} [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
the days of Noah... before the flood...-
were characterized by gross immorality and apathy toward God. Gen 6:5-8,11-14; cp. Rom 1:28-32
eating and drinking... marrying and giving in marriage-
These practices are not necessarily sinful. The people were living 'life as usual,'
giving little thought to God's Word concerning coming judgment.
and knew not until the flood came...- They were willfully ignorant.
The judgment took them by surprise. cp. 2Pet 3:3-10
24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
24:41 Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Remember that Matthew is written to Israel, with emphasis on the King and His earthly Kingdom.
This passage does not refer to the Rapture of the Church,
but rather to the King's return to establish His Kingdom (v.30,31)
  1. the one 'taken'- is taken away in judgment. Consider - -
    • v.39, 'the flood... took them all away'
    • 13:40-43, 'the angels gather the tares to be burned'
    • 13:49-50, 'the angels separate the wicked... to the fire'
    • Luk 17:34-37, 'taken... Where, Lord? Wherever the body is, the vultures gather.'
  2. the other {shall be} left- ie., to enter into the earthly Kingdom of the Messiah. cp. v.13
Those who see the Rapture in this passage argue that
  1. the word for 'taken' in v.40,41 {GK=paralambano, to take alongside}
    suggests tender protective care (cp. Mat 2:13,14,20,21).
    However, this word is not always used in a pleasant context.
    The question is 'taken alongside of whom?' Examples of unpleasant uses of 'paralambano' -
  2. the word for 'took' in v.39 is a different word {GK=airo, to carry away}.
    However, the word choice is determined by the mechanism.
    In v.39, an impersonal force, the flood, 'carries them away.'
    In v.40,41 the angels 'gather them.' But in either case the destination is judgment.
The need for Watchfulness, or preparedness is
a major theme of the parables that close ch. 24 and fill ch. 25. cp. Mark 13:32-37; Luk 21:34-36
  • The Lord's return to earth in behalf of His people, Israel, will be sudden. cp. Mal 3:1,2
    The believing remnant will be aware of the many signs.
  • But there are lessons here also for believers of the Church age. The Lord's return in the air for His Bride is imminent (ie., it could happen at any moment). There are no prophetic events which precede it. However, since the Rapture precedes the Tribulation, those who are watching will be aware that the time is near.
24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
24:43 But know this,
that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come,
he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
24:44 Therefore be ye also ready:
for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
{cp. Luk 12:35-40}
Will He come to you unexpectedly, as a thief?
cp. 1The 5:2-6; 2Pet 3:10,11; Rev 3:3
24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant,
whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
24:46 Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
24:47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
24:48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
{2Pet 3:4}
24:49 And shall begin to smite [his] fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
24:50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him],
and in an hour that he is not aware of,
24:51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint [him] his portion with the hypocrites:
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
{cp. Luk 12:42-48}
Are you faithful? cp. Acts 20:28-31; 1Cor 4:1,2; 2Tim 2:2; 1Pet 4:10,11; 5:2-4; Rev 22:12

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