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Matthew 24:36-44

Be Ready!

24:36 “But as for that day and hour no one knows it – not even the angels in heaven 1  – except the Father alone. 24:37 For just like the days of Noah 2  were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 24:38 For in those days before the flood, people 3  were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. 24:39 And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. 4  It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. 5  24:40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. 6  24:41 There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; 7  one will be taken and one left.

24:42 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day 8  your Lord will come. 24:43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief 9  was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. 24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 10 

1 tc ‡ Some important witnesses, including early Alexandrian and Western mss (א*,2 B D Θ Ë13 pc it vgmss Irlat Hiermss), have the additional words οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός (oude Jo Juios, “nor the son”) here. Although the shorter reading (which lacks this phrase) is suspect in that it seems to soften the prophetic ignorance of Jesus, the final phrase (“except the Father alone”) already implies this. Further, the parallel in Mark 13:32 has οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός, with almost no witnesses lacking the expression. Hence, it is doubtful that the absence of “neither the Son” is due to the scribes. In keeping with Matthew’s general softening of Mark’s harsh statements throughout his Gospel, it is more likely that the absence of “neither the Son” is part of the original text of Matthew, being an intentional change on the part of the author. Further, this shorter reading is supported by the first corrector of א as well as L W Ë1 33 Ï vg sy co Hiermss. Admittedly, the external evidence is not as impressive for the shorter reading, but it best explains the rise of the other reading (in particular, how does one account for virtually no mss excising οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός at Mark 13:32 if such an absence here is due to scribal alteration? Although scribes were hardly consistent, for such a theologically significant issue at least some consistency would be expected on the part of a few scribes). Nevertheless, NA27 includes οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός here.

2 sn Like the days of Noah, the time of the flood in Gen 6:5-8:22, the judgment will come as a surprise as people live their day to day lives.

3 tn Grk “they,” but in an indefinite sense, “people.”

4 sn Like the flood that came and took them all away, the coming judgment associated with the Son of Man will condemn many.

5 tn Grk “So also will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

6 sn There is debate among commentators and scholars over the phrase one will be taken and one left about whether one is taken for judgment or for salvation. If the imagery is patterned after the rescue of Noah from the flood, as some suggest, the ones taken are the saved (as Noah was) andthose left behind are judged. The imagery, however, is not directly tied to theidentification of the two groups. Its primary purposein context is topicture the sudden, surprisingseparation of the righteous and the judged (i.e., condemned) at the return of the Son of Man.

7 tn According to L&N 46.16, this refers to a hand mill normally operated by two women.

8 tc Most later mss (L 0281 Ï lat) have here ὥρᾳ ({wra, “hour”) instead of ἡμέρα (Jemera, “day”). Although the merits of this reading could be argued either way, in light of the overwhelming and diverse early support for ἡμέρᾳ ({א B C D W Δ Θ Ë13 33 892 1424, as well as several versions and fathers}), the more general term is surely correct.

9 sn On Jesus pictured as a returning thief, see 1 Thess 5:2, 4; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15.

10 sn Jesus made clear that his coming could not be timed, and suggested it would take some time – so long, in fact, that some will not be looking for him any longer (at an hour when you do not expect him).

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