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Matthew 24:14-42

Context
24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, 1  and then the end will come.

The Abomination of Desolation

24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation 2  – spoken about by Daniel the prophet – standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 24:16 then those in Judea must flee 3  to the mountains. 24:17 The one on the roof 4  must not come down 5  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 6  to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! 24:20 Pray 7  that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 24:21 For then there will be great suffering 8  unlike anything that has happened 9  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!’ 10  or ‘There he is!’ do not believe him. 24:24 For false messiahs 11  and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 24:25 Remember, 12  I have told you ahead of time. 24:26 So then, if someone 13  says to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ 14  do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe him. 24:27 For just like the lightning 15  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 16  will gather. 17 

The Arrival of the Son of Man

24:29 “Immediately 18  after the suffering 19  of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 20  24:30 Then 21  the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 22  and 23  all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They 24  will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven 25  with power and great glory. 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven 26  to the other.

The Parable of the Fig Tree

24:32 “Learn 27  this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 24:33 So also you, when you see all these things, know 28  that he is near, right at the door. 24:34 I tell you the truth, 29  this generation 30  will not pass away until all these things take place. 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 31 

Be Ready!

24:36 “But as for that day and hour no one knows it – not even the angels in heaven 32  – except the Father alone. 24:37 For just like the days of Noah 33  were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 24:38 For in those days before the flood, people 34  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. 35  It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. 36  24:40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. 37  24:41 There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; 38  one will be taken and one left.

24:42 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day 39  your Lord will come.

1 tn Or “all the Gentiles” (the same Greek word may be translated “nations” or “Gentiles”).

2 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).

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

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

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

8 tn Traditionally, “great tribulation.”

9 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.

10 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.

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

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

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

14 tn Or “in the desert.”

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

16 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.

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

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

19 tn Traditionally, “tribulation.”

20 sn An allusion to Isa 13:10, 34:4 (LXX); Joel 2:10. The heavens were seen as the abode of heavenly forces, so their shaking indicates distress in the spiritual realm. Although some take the powers as a reference to bodies in the heavens (like stars and planets, “the heavenly bodies,” NIV) this is not as likely.

21 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.

22 tn Or “in the sky”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context.

23 tn Here τότε (tote, “then”) has not been translated to avoid redundancy in English.

24 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.

25 sn An allusion to Dan 7:13. Here is Jesus returning with full authority to judge.

26 tn Or “of the sky”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context.

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

28 tn The verb γινώσκετε (ginwskete, “know”) can be parsed as either present indicative or present imperative. In this context the imperative fits better, since the movement is from analogy (trees and seasons) to the future (the signs of the coming of the kingdom) and since the emphasis is on preparation for this event.

29 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

30 sn This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning “race” and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term γενεά (genea) can have this meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean “this type of generation” and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or (3) generation may refer to “the generation that sees the signs of the end” (v. 30), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it happen very quickly, in rapid succession.

31 sn The words that Jesus predicts here will never pass away. They are more stable and lasting than creation itself. For this kind of image, see Isa 40:8; 55:10-11.

32 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.

33 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.

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

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

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

37 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.

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

39 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.



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