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Matthew 24:15-28

Context
The Abomination of Desolation

24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation 1  – spoken about by Daniel the prophet – standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 24:16 then those in Judea must flee 2  to the mountains. 24:17 The one on the roof 3  must not come down 4  to take anything out of his house, 24:18 and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 24:19 Woe 5  to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! 24:20 Pray 6  that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 24:21 For then there will be great suffering 7  unlike anything that has happened 8  from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. 24:22 And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 24:23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ 9  or ‘There he is!’ do not believe him. 24:24 For false messiahs 10  and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 24:25 Remember, 11  I have told you ahead of time. 24:26 So then, if someone 12  says to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ 13  do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe him. 24:27 For just like the lightning 14  comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 24:28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures 15  will gather. 16 

1 sn The reference to the abomination of desolation is an allusion to Dan 9:27. Though some have seen the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in the actions of Antiochus IV (or a representative of his) in 167 b.c., the words of Jesus seem to indicate that Antiochus was not the final fulfillment, but that there was (from Jesus’ perspective) still another fulfillment yet to come. Some argue that this was realized in a.d. 70, while others claim that it refers specifically to Antichrist and will not be fully realized until the period of the great tribulation at the end of the age (cf. Mark 13:14, 19, 24; Rev 3:10).

2 sn Fleeing to the mountains is a key OT image: Gen 19:17; Judg 6:2; Isa 15:5; Jer 16:16; Zech 14:5.

3 sn On the roof. Most of the roofs in the NT were flat roofs made of pounded dirt, sometimes mixed with lime or stones, supported by heavy wooden beams. They generally had an easy means of access, either a sturdy wooden ladder or stone stairway, sometimes on the outside of the house.

4 sn The swiftness and devastation of the judgment will require a swift escape. There will be no time to come down from the roof and pick up anything from inside one’s home.

5 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

6 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

7 tn Traditionally, “great tribulation.”

8 sn Suffering unlike anything that has happened. Some refer this event to the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. While the events of a.d. 70 may reflect somewhat the comments Jesus makes here, the reference to the scope and severity of this judgment strongly suggest that much more is in view. Most likely Jesus is referring to the great end-time judgment on Jerusalem in the great tribulation.

9 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

sn See the note on Christ in 1:16.

10 tn Or “false christs”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

11 tn Or “Pay attention!” Grk “Behold.”

12 tn Grk “they say.” The third person plural is used here as an indefinite and translated “someone” (ExSyn 402).

13 tn Or “in the desert.”

14 sn The Son of Man’s coming in power will be sudden and obvious like lightning. No one will need to point it out.

15 tn The same Greek term can refer to “eagles” or “vultures” (L&N 4.42; BDAG 22 s.v. ἀετός), but in this context it must mean vultures because the gruesome image is one of dead bodies being consumed by scavengers.

sn Jesus’ answer is that when the judgment comes, the scenes of death will be obvious and so will the location of the judgment. See also Luke 17:37.

16 tn Grk “will be gathered.” The passive construction has been translated as an active one in English.



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