SPECIAL NOTE: In order to properly understand Matthew 24 and 25, we need to know the background and the events that had happened beginning in chapter twenty-one. In chapter twenty-one Jesus had made His final entry into the city of Jerusalem. Luke tells us that as He came near the city He wept over it, and predicted its destruction by saying, “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:41-44). Later, in Matthew 21:19, Jesus cursed the barren fig tree which represented the hypocritical Jewish Nation. The destruction of that tree symbolized the destruction that was to come upon Jerusalem because of their unfruitfulness. Again in Matthew 21:33-45 Jesus spoke the parable of the husbandmen. These “wicked husbandmen” represented the leaders of the Jewish Nation. In that parable Jesus taught that those wicked husband would be destroyed and the kingdom given to another nation. In Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus spoke the parable of the marriage feast. In that parable Jesus predicted how the Jews would persecute the servants that God would send unto them, and how God would “send forth his armies, destroy those murderers, and burn up their city.” (v. 7). Again Jesus is referring to to the destruction of Jerusalem. Then, in Matthew 23:1-36, Jesus denounces the Scribes and Pharisees for their sins. Like a skilled attorney He summed up their crimes. Like a strict judge He pronounces the sentence on them and prescribes the punishment. When speaking of these religious leaders the Lord says: They say and do not; they bind heavy burdens, but they won’t carry burdens; they do their works to be seen of men; they love religious titles; they refuse to lay hold on God’s blessings and they keep others from doing so; they are zealous to make proselytes, but the one thus influenced is worse off than before; they have worked out a foolish and hypocritical system of swearing; they major on minors and minor on majors; they are concerned about outward appearances, but not about inward purity; they appear righteous, but are full of hypocrisy and iniquity; they try to cover up their unrighteousness by being considerate of the righteous dead; they would continue to persecute the righteous-those whom the Lord would later send; they would “fill up the measure of their fathers’ guilt;” and they would not escape judgment. Jesus further promised that all those things would come on that “generation” In the closing part of chapter twenty-three the Lord speaks of divine judgment on the Jewish Nation: The reason for it is indicated in verse 32-they were going to “fill up the measure of their fathers’ guilt.” The fact of it is shown in verses 35 & 38 because on them was coming judgment for the “righteous blood shed on the earth” and their “house would be left desolate.” The time of it is stated in verse 36, “all these things shall come upon this generation.” With this background in mind, we now begin a study of chapter twenty-four.
This chapter may be briefly summarized as follows:
1. In Matthew 24:1-34 Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Old Testament Jewish age. 2. In Matthew 24:35-51 Jesus speaks about His second coming and the end of the world.
Matthew 24:1-34: In these verses Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple and the end of Old Testament Israel. The same account is given in Mark 13 and Luke 21. All three accounts must be studied in order to get the whole picture of what Jesus taught concerning the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish system.
1. In verse one, as Jesus departed from the temple, His disciples point out the beautiful buildings of the temple. It is important to keep in mind that the subject that will be discussed is concerning the temple that was standing then and not some “future temple.”
2. In verse three the disciples ask Him privately concerning when temple would be destroyed, and what would be the sign when all these things would be fulfilled. Mark tells us that it was Peter, James, John and Andrew who asked concerning these things (Mk. 13:3). I believe that the questions as given by Matthew, Mark and Luke are identical in meaning. Matthew records that the disciples asked: “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Mark says that the disciples asked the Lord: Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?” (Mk. 13:4). Luke says the disciples ask the Lord: “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” And what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” (Luke 21:7). You’ll observe that Matthew’s “What shall be the sign of Your coming” is equal to Mark’s “What shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” Therefore, it seems to me that the question, as given by all three writers, is identical in meaning. Whether the disciples really understood the question that they asked or not, I don’t know, but it seems to me that Jesus answers their question in the first thirty-four verses of Matthew twenty-four. They had asked, “When shall these things be and what shall be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” In the first thirty-four verses of this chapter Jesus tells them “when these things would be” and “what would be the sign of His coming in judgment on Jerusalem and end of the Jewish age.” It seems to me that the disciples only asked one question (in two parts) and that this is the question Jesus answers in the first thirty-four verses of this chapter. That Jesus surely answered the question about the “end of the age” (the Old Testament Jewish world) in the first thirty-four verses of this chapter is clearly seen from verses 6, 13, and 14. Actually, in answering the disciple’s question, the Lord discussed two comings and two ends of two worlds. In the first thirty-four verses of Matthew twenty-four Jesus discusses His coming in judgment on Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish age (world). He discusses His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (to mark the end of Old Testament the Jewish Nation) and this led Him into a discussion of His coming for the final judgment to mark the end of the world as we know it. Jesus uses their question to discuss two comings and two ends of two worlds. Why did He do that? It is because the destruction of Jerusalem is a type or picture of His final coming to judge the world. Just as the establishment of the Jewish temple was a type or picture of the church and heaven, just so, the destruction of the temple was a type or picture of the end of the world.
SPECIAL NOTE: From Matthew 23:34 through Matthew 24:34, Jesus discusses the destruction of Jerusalem. It seems to me that the reference to “these things” refers to the same things in these verses and definitely relate to the fall of Judiasm. Notice the reference to “these things”:
(1) “All these things shall come upon this generation” (Mt. 23:36). (2) “See ye not all these things? (Mt. 24:2) (3) “Tell us when will these things, be? (Mt. 24:3) (4) “What shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (Mt. 13:4)
(5): “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” (Mt. 24:33) (6) “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Mt. 24:34).
It seems to me that from Matthew 23:34 through Matthew 24:34 Jesus discusses “these things” relating to the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish temple and the Old Testament system.
NOTE: Beginning in verse four Jesus tells of those things that would take place before the fall of Jerusalem. In fact, everything that Jesus talked about in the first thirty-four verses happened during the generation that lived at that time (Mt. 24:34) as the Bible and history reveals. Notice the things Jesus said would happen:
Verse 5: FOR MANY WILL COME IN MY NAME, SAYING, ‘I AM THE CHRIST,’ AND WILL DECEIVE MANY.
(a) The Jews expected a Messiah to rule over an earthly kingdom (not one who would allow Himself to be crucified). Isn’t it reasonable that many would take advantage of the Jewish idea and claim to be the Messiah.
(b) Barnes says, “The Messiah was expected at that time. Many would lay claims to being the Messiah, and, as He was universally expected, multitudes would easily be led to believe in Him…Among those mentioned particularly: Dositheus, the Samaritan, who affirmed that He was Christ; Simoan Magus, who said He appeared among the Jews as the Son of God; and Theudas, who persuaded many to go with Him to the River Jordan, to see the waters divide.” (C. M. pg. 251). (c) McGarvey states, “Nothing is more natural, however, than that the excitement attendant upon the ministry of Jesus should encourage many to attempt to become such a Christ as the people wanted. The gospels show so widespread a desire for a political Christ that the law of demand and supply would be sure to make many such. (Fourfold Gospel)
(d) See also Adam Clarke, Commentary on Matthew., pg. 226; Foy Wallace, God’s Prophetic Word, pg. 249; and J. Marcellus Kik, Eschatology of Victory, pg. 91.
Verses 6 – 7a: AND YOU WILL HEAR OF WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS. SEE THAT YOU ARE NOT TROUBLED; FOR ALL THESE THINGS MUST COME TO PASS, BUT THE END IS NOT YET. 7 FOR NATION WILL RISE AGAINST NATION, AND KINGDOM AGAINST KINGDOM.
(a) Barnes says, “It is recorded in the history of Rome that violent agitations prevailed in the Roman Empire previous to the destruction of Jerusalem. Four Emperors; Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, suffered violent deaths in the short space of 18 months. (C.M., pg. 251) .(c) See also Adam Clarke, C.M., pg. 226; Wallace, pg. 249; Kik, pg. 92-93.
Verse 7b: AND THERE WILL BE FAMINES, PESTILENCES,
(a) Agabus predicted, and there was a famine throughout the world before the fall of Jerusalem. (Acts 11:28) (b) McGarvey states, “All these signs are mentioned by unbelieving writers such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonus, Philostratus, and Seneca, who speak of them because of their importance and not with any reference to the prophecy of Christ.” (Fourfold Gospel, pg. 622).
Verse 7c AND EARTHQUAKES IN VARIOUS PLACES.
(a) Barnes says, “Many of these (earthquakes) are mentioned as preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. Tacitus mentions one in the reign of Claudius at Rome, and says that in the reign of Nero, the cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse were overthrown, and the celebrated Pompeii was overwhelmed and almost destroyed by an earthquake. Others are mentioned as occurring at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, and Samos. (C.M., pg. 252)
(b) See also Wallace, Pg. 250; Kik, pg. 93; Clarke, pg. 227; McGarvey, pg. 622.
Verse 8: ALL THESE ARE THE BEGINNING OF SORROW.
(a) These things described so far did not mark the end, but the beginning of sorrows. Things would get worse.
Verse 9: THEN THEY WILL DELIVER YOU UP TO TRIBULATION AND KILL YOU, AND YOU WILL BE HATED BY ALL NATIONS FOR MY NAME’S SAKE.
(A). Read also Mark 13:9 and Luke 21:12 relating to the same subject. From all three accounts we learn that the disciples would be:
(1) BEATEN (Mark 13:9)
(a) Acts 5:40 – The apostles were beaten. (b) Acts 16:22 – Paul and Silas were beaten. (c) 2 Corinthians 11:24-25: Paul refers to times he was beaten. (d) Matthew 10:17 – Jesus predicted they would be beaten before He came in judgment on Jerusalem (v. 23).
(2) DELIVERED UP TO COUNCIL (Mark.13:9).
(a) Acts 4 – Peter and John are before the council. (b) Acts 23 – Paul is before the council. (c) Matthew 10:17 – Jesus predicted they would be brought before councils, before He came in judgment on Jerusalem (Mt.10:23).
(3) BROUGHT BEFORE KINGS AND RULERS (Mark 13:9).
(a) Acts 24:10 – Paul is before Felix. (b) Acts 25:6 – Paul is before Festus. (c) Acts 26:1 – Paul is before Agrippi. (d) Matthew 10:18 – Jesus predicted they would be brought before governors and kings, before He came in judgment on Jerusalem (Mt. 10:23).
(4) PUT IN PRISON (Luke 21:12).
(a) Acts 5:18 – The apostles were put in prison. (b) Acts 16:23 – Paul and Silas were put in prison. (c) Acts 22:4 – Paul put disciples in prison. (d) Acts 12:4-5 – Peter was put in prison.
(5) PERSECUTED (Luke 21:12).
(a) Acts 26:11 – Paul persecuted Christians. (b) Acts 8:1 – The church is persecuted. (c) Acts 13:50 – Paul & Barnabus are persecuted. (d) Matthew 10:21-23 – Jesus predicted His disciples would be persecuted from city to city before He came in judgment on Jerusalem.
(6) KILLED (Matthew 24:9).
(a) Acts 7 – Stephen was killed. (b) Acts 12:2 – James was killed. (c) Barnes writes, “The persecutions under Nero took place before destruction of Jerusalem, in which were put to death with many others, Peter and Paul. Most of the apostles, it is believed, died by persecution.” (C.M., pg. 253).
(d) Jesus predicted that the Jews would “kill and crucify” those He would send to them during that generation (Mt. 23:34). (e) Peter, Paul, James, and James the less, were all killed before A.D. 70. (Wallace, pg. 250). (f) All of those things predicted in verse nine were fulfilled before Jerusalem fell.
Verse 10: AND THEN MANY WILL BE OFFENDED, WILL BETRAY ONE ANOTHER, AND WILL HATE ONE ANOTHER.
(a) “Offended” means to cause to stumble. (Young, pg. 710). Many would fall away from the faith. (b) The Galatians were “removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” (Gal. 1:6). (c) John speaks of some who “went out from us.” (1 Jn. 2:19). (d) Paul said “all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Tim. 1:15). (e) Demas forsook Paul. (2 Tim. 4:10). (f) The Hebrew writer plainly stated that some were already guilty of “sinning willfully” by “forsaking the assembly” which indicates that they had fallen away for the faith. (Heb. 10:25-31). (g) All of those in Asia had “turned away from Paul” and had “strayed concerning the truth (2 Tim. 3:16-17). (f) Jesus predicted that brother would deliver up brother and the father, the child, etc. before He came in judgment on the Jewish Nation in the first century (Mt. 10:21).
Verse 11: THEN MANY FALSE PROPHETS WILL RISE UP AND DECEIVE MANY.
(a) John said, “….Many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
(b) Paul referred to some in Corinth as “false apostles” deceitful workers” (2 Cor. 11:13). (c) Some false teachers had bewitched the Galatians. (Gal. 3:1ff). (d) Hymenaeus and Philetus had overthrown the faith of some. (2 Tim. 17-18).
(e) There were some who said they were apostles, but were liars (Rev. 2:2).
Verse 12: BECAUSE LAWLESSNESS WILL ABOUND THE LOVE OF MANY GROW COLD.
(a) Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus because they had left their first love. They did not “love” as they once had. Their love had grown cold. (Rev. 2:4).
(b) All of Asia had turned away from Paul (2 Tim. 1:15).
Verse 13: BUT HE WHO ENDURES TO THE END SHALL BE SAVED.
(a) This is a promise that those who remain faithful until the end will be saved. When we are “faithful unto death” we will be saved eternally (Rev. 2:10)
(b) Some believe that this is a promise to those who lived immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, and a promise that they would be delivered when the end came. They believe that the “end” here is only referring to the end of the Jewish age and that the “salvation” here is physical salvation from the destruction of Jerusalem. They point out that Luke says not a hair on their heads would perish (Lk. 21:18). Also in Matthew 24:22 Jesus talks about how “there shall be no flesh saved” which surely refers to physical salvation. The warnings to flee and not take possessions with them (Mt. 24:16) also indicate physical salvation. (c) Camp says, “While the word” ‘saved’ may have a double significance and is symbolic of our final and eternal salvation, its primary meaning is the physical salvation in the destruction of Jerusalem.” (The Work of the Holy Spirit, pg. 64).
Verse 14: AND THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM WILL BE PREACHED IN ALL THE WORLD AS A WITNESS TO ALL NATIONS AND THEN THE END WILL COME.
(a) The “end” here is the end of the “Jewish age.” Jesus states here that the gospel would be preached to all and then the “end” would come. (b) The gospel was preached to “every creature under heaven” before A.D. 70. (Col. 1:23). (c) The whole world had heard of the faith of the Romans. (Rom. 1:8). (d) In Romans 10:18 and Colossians 1:6 the Bible indicates that all heard the word before A.D. 70. (e) Jesus here taught that the “end the age” (Jewish age) would not come until the gospel had been preached to all nations and then the end would come.
(f) The word “world” would of necessity refer to the “world” as they knew it then. In Acts 11:28 the famine predicted by Agabus occurred “throughout all the world.”
(g) In Acts 24:5 the Jews were “Jews throughout the world.”
Verse 15: THEREFORE WHEN YOU SEE THE ‘ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ SPOKEN OF BY DANIEL THE PROPHET, STANDING IN THE HOLY PLACE” (WHOEVER READS, LET HIM UNDERSTAND),
(a) This would be the real sign that the end had come. (b) Luke tells us exactly what this refers to when he says, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).
(c) McGarvey wrote, “We, therefore, conclude that in this place Matthew uses the term “holy place” to designate the holy territory round about the holy city, and that the combined expressions of Matthew and Mark signifies the investiture of the city by the Roman Armies and is equivalent to the plainer statement made by Luke. The Roman Armies were fittingly called the abomination of desolation, because, being heathen armies, they were an abomination to the Jews, and because they brought desolation upon the country.” (Fourfold Gospel, pg. 628). (d) Barnes writes: The abomination of desolation means the Roman Army, and is so explained in Luke 21:20. (C.M., pg. 254).
Verse 16: THEN LET THOSE WHO ARE IN JUDEA FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS
(a) This is what they were to do when the “real sign” of end had come. When the Roman Armies appeared the Christians were to flee. (b) This would do no good if the second coming of Christ is under consideration here. Why should “His” disciples “flee” when He returns.
Verse 17: LET HIM WHO IS ON THE HOUSETOP NOT GO DOWN TO TAKE ANYTHING OUT OF HIS HOUSE.
(a)This indicates the “haste” in which Christians were to leave the city and area. From their flattop houses they could see the armies marching and when they saw them they were to leave immediately. (b) Barnes writes, “These directions were followed. It is said that the Christians, warned by these predictions, fled from Jerusalem to Pella, and other places beyond Jordan; so that there is not evidence that a single Christian perished in Jerusalem. (C.M. pg. 255).
Verse 18: AND LET HIM WHO IS IN THE FIELD NOT GO BACK TO GET HIS CLOTHES.
(a) They were not to try to take extra clothes with them. They were to leave as soon as they saw the army.
Verse 19: WOE TO THOSE WHO ARE PREGNANT AND TO THOSE WITH NURSING BABIES
(a) Those with child and with small children could not flee as far as those who didn’t have them. Children would slow them down. Furthermore, they couldn’t get the nourishment they needed to feed them. (b) In Luke 23:28-30 Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem when He tells the women to “weep for themselves and for their children.” (c) This cannot be the “second coming of Christ” under consideration, because, at His coming, it will not be any harder on pregnant women and those with small children than on others when He comes the second time.
Verse 20: AND PRAY THAT YOUR FLIGHT MAY NOT BE IN WINTER, OR ON THE SABBATH DAY.
(a) In the winter, it would be cold and the days would be shorter so they couldn’t flee as far or as fast. On the Sabbath day the gates of the city would be closed and there would be restricted traveling. The Jews would be enforcing the Sabbath.
(b) If the second coming is under consideration here, why would His disciples pray that He not come in the winter or on Sabbath?
Verse 21: FOR THEN THERE WILL BE GREAT TRIBULATION, SUCH AS HAS NOT BEEN SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD UNTIL THIS TIME, NO, NOR EVER SHALL BE.
(a) This verse is directly connected with the preceding verses and refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. There had never been and neither would there be anything on earth as bad as the destruction of Jerusalem according to Jesus’ own words in reference to the Old Testament Jewish Nation.
(b) Barnes quotes Josephus as saying “All the calamities, which had befallen any nation from the beginning of the world were but small in comparison with those of the Jews.” ….“the whole city, ran with blood, insomuch that many things which were burning were extinguished by the blood.” “In the siege of Jerusalem not fewer than eleven hundred thousand perished.” “In the adjacent provinces no fewer than 250,000 are reckoned to have been slain…many hundreds were first whipped, then tormented with various kinds of tortures, and finally crucified; the Roman soldiers nailing them (out of the wrath and hatred they bore to the Jews) one after one way and another, to crosses, by way of jest, until at length the multitude became so great that room was waiting for crosses, and crosses for the bodies.” (C.M., pg. 256). (c) Barnes further states, “If it be asked how it was possible for so many people to be slain in a single city, it must be remembered that the siege of Jerusalem commenced during the time of the Passover, when all the males of the Jews were required to be there, and when it is estimated that more than three million were usually assembled. (C.M., pg. 256). (c) See also Kik, pg. 114-120.
Verse 22: AND UNLESS THOSE DAYS WERE SHORTENED, NO FLESH WOULD BE SAVED; BUT FOR THE ELECT’S SAKE THOSE DAYS WILL BE SHORTENED.
1. There are two possible views of this verse: (a) “Because of His concern for the faithful, God would shorten the days of war. “If God had not shortened the siege and restrained the Romans, they would have exterminated the Jewish race.” (McGarvey, Fourfold Gospel, pg. 628).
(b) Another view is, “One Roman general began his march on the city and for some unknown reason ceased the attack for a time and this gave the Christians the opportunity to flee.” (Foy Wallace, God’s Prophetic Word”, pg. 252).
Verse 23: IF ANY MAN SAY UNTO YOU LO, HERE IS CHRIST, OR THERE BELIEVE IT NOT.
(a) Even during this time of terrible tribulation there would be false teachers and deceivers.” The disciples were not to believe that the “Messiah” would appear to help the Jews.
Verse 24: FOR FALSE CHRISTS AND FALSE PROPHETS WILL RISE AND SHOW GREAT SIGNS AND WONDERS TO DECEIVE, IF POSSIBLE, EVEN THE ELECT.
(a) In the midst of the terrible persecution many Jews would long for and pray for the coming of the “Messiah” to deliver them. There would be some who would take advantages of this, and claim to be the “Messiah” or a prophet.
(b) Barnes says, “Josephus represents the false christs and prophets that appeared as magicians and sorcerers.” (C.M., pg. 257).
Verse 25: SEE, I HAVE TOLD YOU BEFOREHAND.
(a) Christ had already warned them of false Christ and false prophets in verses 4 & 11, and He continues to warn them so they will know about it before it happens.
Verse 26: THEREFORE IF THEY SAY TO YOU, ‘LOOK, HE IS IN THE DESERT!’ DO NOT GO OUT; OR ‘LOOK, HE IS IN THE INNER ROOMS!’ DO NOT BELIEVE IT.
a. The disciples were not to look for a return of Christ to deliver the Jews from destruction. Some of the Jews may say “The Messiah is in the desert or in some secret place,” but the disciples were to believe it not.
Verse 27: FOR AS THE LIGHTNING COMES FROM THE EAST AND FLASHES TO THE WEST, SO ALSO WILL THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN BE.
(a) There are two views concerning this verse. (1) This means simply that if at that time anybody shall try to make you think that all this means that the Lord has come in the sense of His final coming, don’t believe it! Because when the Lord comes finally everybody will know about it. If they say, “Christ is in the desert!” or “He is in the secret chambers!” Then the disciples were not to believe it, because when the Lord does return personally it will be known to all. (2) The “coming” here may refer to the coming of the Roman armies on Jerusalem. See Wallace, pg. 253; A. Clarke, vol. 5, pg. 231; Barnes, pg. 258. The “For” in the next verse (v. 28) supports this second view.
(3) I personally favor the first one.
Verse 28: FOR WHEREVER THE CARCASS IS, THERE WILL THE EAGLES BE GATHERED TOGETHER.
(a) A carcass is a “dead body”. The Jewish Nation was morally, judicially, and (since the crucifixion) spiritually dead. As a dead body attracts vultures, so Jerusalem would attract those who would devour it. The Jewish Nation was the carcass which the Roman Eagles were sent to devour. (b) The Jewish Nation was a dead carcass. The vultures-the Roman army-under General Titus, would gather for its complete destruction. (c) Barnes writes, “Jerusalem is like a dead and putrid corpse….The Roman armies will find it out, as the vultures do a dead carcass, and will come around and devour it. (C.M., pg.. 258).
Verse 29: IMMEDIATLEY AFTER THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS –
(a) The word “immediately” shows clearly that this cannot refer to the second coming, but to the destruction of Jerusalem. The Lord has referred to the “tribulation” of “those days” immediately preceding the actual destruction of Jerusalem. (Mt. 24:21 & 23). Now He says, “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.”
Verse 29: THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT; AND STARS WILL FALL FORM HEAVEN AND THE POWERS OF THE HEAVENS WILL BE SHAKEN.
A. The statement about the “sun being darkened, and the moon not giving her light” is symbolic language that refers to the “darkness” that would fall over the Jewish Nation. Immediately after the tribulation that immediately preceded the fall of Jerusalem, darkness would fall over the Jewish Nation.
(B) The same language has been used by God on a number of occasions in the Old Testament to refer to the fall of nations and His disciples would have been familiar with it. For example:
(a) In Isaiah 13 with regard to the destruction of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, the record says,
The burden against Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw….3 I have commanded My sanctified ones; I have also called My mighty ones for My anger…The Lord of hosts musters The army for battle.5 They come from a far country, From the end of heaven—The Lord and His weapons of indignation, To destroy the whole land. 6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty…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. 10 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.11 “I will punish the world for its evil…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… And everyone will flee to his own land. 15 Everyone who is found will be thrust through, And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword. 16 Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished.17 “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, …And Babylon…Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
(b) In Isaiah 34:4-5 the Bible speaks about the overthrow of Edom in the following symbolic way:
All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree. 5 “For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; Indeed it shall come down on Edom, And on the people of My curse, for judgment.
(c) Again in Ezekiel 32:2-8 God speaks of the downfall of Egypt in the following fashion:
“Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say to him: …‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will therefore spread My net over you with a company of many people…7 When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, And the moon shall not give her light. 8 All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, And bring darkness upon your land,” Says the Lord God.
(d) Barnes says, “The images here used are not to be taken literally. They are often employed by the sacred writers to denote any great calamities. (C.M., pg. 259).
(e) Luke says in his parallel account, “And there will be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and expectation of those things which are coming on the earth: For the powers of heavens will be shaken (Luke 21:25-26).
(2) In light of Matthew 24:34 this language clearly refers to the fall of the Jewish Nation which was to occur during “this generation” who heard the predictions.
Verse 30a: THEN THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN WILL APPEAR IN HEAVEN,
(a). The destruction of Jerusalem was a “sign” that the Son of Man is “in heaven” and reigning over His kingdom. Christ “coming in judgment” would be the sign that He was in heaven.
(b) Barnes says, “At the destruction of Jerusalem, the “sign” or evidence of His coming was found in the fulfillment of these predictions. (C.M., pg. 259).
Verse 30b AND THEN ALL THE TRIBES OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN,
(a) This refers to the tribes of fleshly Israel mourning over the fall of their nation.
Verse 30c AND THEY WILL SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY
(a) The “coming” here is definitely not the second coming, but His coming in judgment on Jerusalem that Jesus promised would occur during “this generation” of people listening to Him at the time. The Jews would mourn and it would be the “sign” that he the Son of Man was “in heaven” and reigning over His kingdom when they saw Him coming in judgment (by means of the Roman army) on Jerusalem.
(b) This same symbolic language is used in the Old Testament time and again to refer to the Lord’s coming in judgment on nations. For example:
(1) In Isaiah 19:1 concerning the judgment on Egypt, the record says “The burden of Egypt. Behold the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud and shall come into Egypt.
(2) In Isaiah 13 – concerning the destruction of Babylon – the Bible says, “….the Lord of host must the host of the battle….They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord…For the day of the Lord cometh…and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it….I will punish the world for their evil…I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease……I will shake the heavens…I will stir up the Medes against them…
(3) Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem – God, through the prophet Zechariah, said, “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle….” (See also Revelation 17:16-17.)
(4) There are many references in the New Testament which refer to the judgment on Jerusalem as the “coming of the Lord.” See Matthew 10:23; Matthew 26:64; James 5:8; John 21:22; etc.
(5) From Matthew 16:28 – we see that the “coming of the Lord” does not always refer to His second coming.
(6) The New Testament refers to: (a) the Lord’s first coming – to live among men; (b) His coming on Pentecost of Acts two (Mt. 16:28; Mk. 9:1); (c) His coming in human experiences (Rev. 2:16; 3:20); (d) His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (Matthew 24:30; 26:74) (Zechariah 14:1-2) and (e) His final personal coming (Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16). Jerusalem is definitely called a “coming of the Lord.” This coming was spoken of frequently in the Old Testament prophecies. It is this coming which our Lord discusses in Matthew 24:4-34 which was to occur during the “generation” that lived when Jesus was on earth.
Verse 31: AND HE WILL SEND HIS ANGELS WITH A GREAT SOUND OF A TRUMPET
(a) “Angels” are always involved in ministering to those who are heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14) and are used by God in helping get the gospel to the lost (Acts 8:26; 10:3).
(b) An angel sent Phillip to the Eunuch (Acts 8:26ff).
(c) An angel appeared to Cornelius in vision (Acts 10:1-7).
(d) An angel was in charge of each of the seven churches in Asia. (Rev. 2-3).
(e) An angel had the “everlasting gospel” to preach to those on earth which surely suggests their interest and involvement in getting the message out (Rev. 14:6).
(e) The angels would be involved in helping Christians carry the gospel to the entire world unhindered by Judaism. They would help to gather those who would obey it just like they were involved in the book of Acts and just like they are still involved today.
Verse 31: AND THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT FROM THE FOUR WINDS, FROM ONE END OF HEAVEN TO THE OTHER.
(a) The statement here indicates the world-wide success of the gospel after the hindrance of Judaism was taken out of the way. The angels would be involved in helping Christians to spread the gospel. They would help to gather those who would obey it just like they were involved in the book of Acts and just like they are still involved today.
(b) From “one end of heaven to the other” refers to “far countries” and all points (north, south, east and west) in the world. Isaiah referred to the coming of the “Medes” in judgment on Babylon as coming “from a far country from the end of heaven” (Isa. 13:5).
(c) In the parable of the marriage feast in Matthew 22:7-10 Jesus predicted progress of the gospel after the fall of Jerusalem.
(a) The statement “from one end of heaven to the other” but rather to whole world. The meaning is “the messengers would carry the gospel to all the world, unhindered by Judaism, to gather those who would obey it.” (b) This same language was used in the Old Testament to refer to “a far country.” Isaiah 13:5 says, in reference to the fall of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, “they come from a far country, from the end of heaven….” (c) Barnes says the four winds refer to “the four quarters of the globe-East, West, North, and South.” He also says, concerning the statement, “from one end of heaven to another,” the expression denotes that they shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are scattered.” (C.M., pg. 260).
Verse 32: NOW LEARN THE PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE……-
(a) Just as the tender branch and the leaves of the fig tree would indicate the nearness of summer, just so “these things” which have been discussed would indicate that He (marginal reading) is nigh even at the doors.
Verse 34: ASSUREDLY, I SAY TO YOU, THIS GENERATION WILL BY NO MEANS PASS AWAY TILL ALL THESE THINGS TAKE PLACE.
(a) The word “generation” means exactly what it did in Matthew 23:36. Jesus says that the generation who lived at the time he spoke would not pass till all (not just some) of these things be fulfilled. (b) Notice how Jesus used the word “generation” elsewhere in Matthew. For example, in Matthew 12:41, the Lord said, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it…..” In verse 42 he says, “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it….In Matthew 11:16 Jesus said, “But w hereunto shall I liken this generation….”Again in Matthew 23:36 Jesus said, “All these things shall come upon this generation”. (c) We have no trouble understanding the meaning of “generation” in these verses and we should have no trouble understanding it in Matthew 24:34.
(d) Barnes says, “A generation is about thirty or forty years. The destruction of Jerusalem took place about forty years after this was spoken.” (C.M., p. 261).
Verse 35: HEAVEN AND EARTH WILL PASS AWAY, BUT MY WORDS WILL BY NO MEANS PASS AWAY –
(a) There would be no escape and no change of plans. The Lord’s words would be fulfilled.
SPECIAL NOTE: This verse (Mt. 24:35) is the verse that changes the subject from “the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish world” to “the second coming of Christ and the final judgment.” Having mentioned the “passing away of heaven and earth” Jesus then proceeds to discuss His second coming and the final judgment at the end of the material world. In verse 36 he says, “But of that day….” What day is He talking about? It is the day when “heaven and earth shall pass away.”
This will be the subject of the next section that begins in Matthew 24:36 and continues through Matthew 25:46.
That Jesus changes the subject in verse 35 is clearly seen from the following comparisons:
(1) In Matthew 24:19, 22, and 29 He refer to “days” (plural), however, after verse 35, he starts talking about a “day and hour” (Matthew 24:36; 42:44; 25:13). Why this change? Because the subject has changed.
(2) Matthew 24:1-34 – The “sign” (Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem) was given to warn the disciples concerning the destruction of the temple. Jesus also gave the “time” when He said it would occur during “this generation” which was the generation then living. But after verse thirty-five there is “no sign” given and “no time” specified. Jesus didn’t even know when He was going to return (Mk 13:32), and therefore He could not give the sign nor the time. He did make statements concerning the “beginning of sorrows” and the “sign” of the end of Jerusalem in the first thirty-four verses, but none after verse thirty-five, because the subject had changed. In the first thirty-four verses the “sign” was given, but after verse thirty-five, Jesus taught that things would be normal (v. 42-44); and that they would not know when He is coming (v. 50). Why did He know and give the “sign” of His coming in the first part of the chapter (Mt. 24:15), but in the last part He did not know and could not give the sign? The answer is that He discusses two subjects in Matthew twenty-four and not just one. He discusses TWO COMINGS and TWO ENDS of TWO WORLDS (AGES).