The Book of Matthew

Chapter 24

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 12 December 2007; Revised 11 May 2021

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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." Parsing information for Greek words is taken from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. Explanation of grammatical abbreviations and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Book of Matthew" because that is how Matthew introduces his story (Matt 1:1). Please see the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Matthew and his book.

Please see the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Matthew and his book.

Kingdom Prophecy

Date: Nisan 12, A.D. 30 (Tuesday)

Chapter Summary

The lengthy sermon of this chapter is commonly known as the Olivet Discourse, because it took place on the Mount of Olives, perhaps in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Luke 22:39). The discourse is also found in Mark, Chapter Thirteen, and Luke, Chapter Twenty-One. The three apostolic narratives present substantially the same information, but each does have distinctive content. For a parallel presentation of the verses see the chart here. In Matthew the discourse continues into the next chapter, which is not found in Mark or Luke. The structure and unique content in the narratives reflect the editorial decisions of the apostles.

Considerable scholarly debate has arisen concerning the content of the sermon, but there is no good reason not to accept the sermon as the authentic words of Yeshua. Some scholars liken this sermon to Jewish apocalyptic works that flourished for a century before Yeshua. Such Jewish writings have been classified as apocalyptic because they include vivid imagery and symbolism to communicate that there is no hope in this present age, but at some point in the future history will end in a cosmic catastrophe, the wicked will be punished and the persecuted righteous rewarded.

Yeshua's sermon departs from the typical Jewish apocalyptic by avoiding the symbolic language of those works and offers a confident fulfillment of Jewish expectation for the Messiah to reign over the earth. The discourse is presented as Yeshua's response to questions posed by his apostles and serves as a reality check to their expectations for the restoration of Israel's sovereignty and an immediate establishment of Messiah's kingdom (cf. Acts 1:6). Yeshua prophesies the future in a straightforward manner with warnings to his apostles of difficult times for them and proclamation of events beyond their days that will lead to the glorious Second Coming at the end of the age.

The Olivet Discourse offers no support to those who advocate a secret rapture of the saints and assert that Yeshua could come at any time. See my article The Rapture in which I rebut this popular teaching. Yeshua set forth a clear prophetic calendar and anyone who says that fulfillment of prophecy is not necessary or that events won't transpire as presented in this discourse essentially questions the integrity of Yeshua. Yeshua will return to earth when all prophecy has been fulfilled.

Chapter Outline

Prophecy: Destruction of the Temple, 24:1-3

Last Days: Early Birth Pains, 24:4-8

 {Immediate Future, Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19}

Last Days: Active Birth Pains, 24:9-14

 {The Times of the Gentiles, Luke 21:20-24}

Last Days: Transition Birth Pains, 24:15-28

Last Days: Final Birth Pains, 24:29-31

Parable of the Fig Tree, 24:32-36

The Lesson of Noah, 24:37-41

Admonition for Readiness, 24:42-44

Parable of the Slaves, 24:45-51

 

Prophecy: Destruction of the Temple, 24:1-3

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:1; Luke 21:5

1― And Yeshua having come out from the temple, he was going away, and His disciples came to show to Him the buildings of the temple.

Matthew continues his narrative from the previous chapter in which Yeshua was teaching in the temple (21:23). The instruction contained in this chapter and the next occurred on Tuesday of Yeshua's final week (cf. Mark 11:11-12, 19-20, 27). See my article The Final Days of Yeshua.

And: Grk. kai, conj. left untranslated. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221).

The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). In his thirty-some years on earth people called him Yeshua. Gentile believers must never forget that Yeshua was born to a Jewish mother, raised in a Jewish home in a Jewish community situated among the Jewish people in the land God gave to Abraham and his Jewish posterity. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?

having come out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. part., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, here denoting a point of origin; from. the temple: Grk. ho hieron, sanctuary, temple (subst. neut. of the adj. hieros, 'sacred, holy'). When used of the temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire temple complex with all its courts in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary proper where priests offered sacrifices. Herod commenced construction of the new temple c. 20 BC (Josephus, Ant. XV, 11:1) and work on the temple continued during Yeshua's time (John 2:20). The entire temple complex was not completed until the procuratorship of Albinus (AD 62-64) (Ant. XX, 9:7).

For a description of the construction and characteristics of Herod's temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. See an illustration here. he was going away: Grk. poreuomai (from poros, "passageway"), impf. mid., may mean (1) to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX poreuomai renders mainly Heb. halak (SH-1980), to go, come, walk, first occurring in Genesis 3:14 (DNTT 3:946). The verb often has the literal sense of going, journeying or traveling (e.g., Gen 12:4).

and: Grk. kai, conj. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. disciples: Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher; adherent, learner, pupil, disciple. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a student of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term is used for members of the Pharisee party (Matt 22:15-16; John 9:28) and disciples of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; John 3:25), but especially of followers of Yeshua, those who not only believed in Yeshua but sought to obey his instructions (Matt 28:20). See my article Disciples of Yeshua.

came: Grk. proserchomai, aor., 3p-pl., to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. to show: Grk. epideiknumi, aor. inf., may mean (1) exhibit through visual demonstration, show; or (2) provide proof for a conclusion, prove. The first meaning applies here. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. the buildings: pl. of Grk. ho oikodomē, may mean (1) a structured entity, building, structure; or (2) strengthening of a structure, building up. The first meaning applies here. "Buildings" would include quarters for serving priests, storerooms, and a treasury chamber. The noun could have been meant in the more general sense of "structures," which would include the design of the courts, gates and columns.

of the temple: Grk. ho hieron. As any Jew of that time the disciples were clearly awed by the temple construction. Gruber notes the following Talmud quotation (56),

"He who has not seen the Temple of Herod has never seen a beautiful building." … He [Herod] originally intended to cover it with gold, but the Rabbis advised him not to, since it was more beautiful as it was, looking like the waves of the sea." (Baba Bathra 4a)

2― And having answered He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not even a stone here will be left upon a stone, which will not be torn down."

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6

And: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The third usage applies here. having answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. part., to make a response to a specific query or to answer someone, but here is used in imitation of the Hebrew anah (SH-6030), which means to answer in response to something said (Gen 18:27), but also to initiate conversation concerning something that has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer (e.g., Num 11:28; 1Sam 9:17) (Thayer). The aorist tense is retrospective in perspective.

He said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material as here. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, enjoin, order, say, speak, tell, told, refer to, talk about. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Do you not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. see: Grk. blepō, pres., may mean (1) possess the capacity to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) to have inward or mental sight or (4) be looking in a certain direction. The second and fourth meanings seem intended here. Yeshua directs their attention to examine their surroundings more closely.

all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, anyone, everyone. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. Yeshua anticipates their question by asking a rhetorical question that implies the obvious. Truly: Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. 'amen (ah–mayn, SH–543), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The word amēn reflects an Hebraic conviction that God’s words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). For example, "amen" was a congregational response to a public blessing of God (1Chr 16:36; Neh 5:13; Ps 106:48).

However, Yeshua sometimes uses "amen" to introduce a declaration as here (e.g., Matt 8:10; 11:11; 16:28; 17:20; 19:23; 21:21; 25:12, 45; 26:21). Similar usage does occur in the Tanakh (1Kgs 1:36; Jer 28:6). Beginning the sentence with amēn emphasizes the certainty of the prophesied event. I say: Grk. legō, pres. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. not even: Grk. ou mē, lit. "not, not." The double negative is emphatic. a stone: Grk. lithos, stone. The term is used of various types of stone. here: Grk. hōde, adv. of place, here or in this place. will be left: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. pass. subj., to release or let go, with a wide range of meaning. The verb has the sense here of left standing or laying.

upon: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location. a stone: Grk. lithos. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. will not: Grk. ou, adv. be torn down: Grk. kataluō, fut. pass., to tear down, to destroy or to demolish, lit. "loosened down." Only the foundation stones would remain after the destruction. The description reflects the manner of conquest of cities in antiquity. As the disciples were remarking on the wonder of so great an edifice and perhaps fantasizing about when the Temple would be under the Messiah’s control (and theirs), Yeshua bursts their bubble with an ominous and deeply disturbing prophecy.

The prediction would come to pass in all its literal horror in AD 70. Gruber quotes from the first hand description of Josephus (56).

"Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, … it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. (Wars VII, 7:1)

3― Now he was sitting on the Mount of Olives. The disciples came to him in private, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?"

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:3-4; Luke 21:7

Now: Grk. de, conj. He was sitting: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. Sitting was the normal posture for a teacher or rabbi to give instruction (cf. Matt 5:1; Mark 4:1). on: Grk. epi, prep. the Mount: Grk. oros, mountain, hill, or hill-country. The corresponding Heb. word har, (SH-2022), is given in Scripture to a comparatively large ridge, a collection of small hills and to many hogbacks in Israel. Modern science distinguishes hills from mountains by classifying a hill as being less than 1,000 feet above its surroundings, but the distinction may depend upon local interpretation. The Greek and Hebrew words are used to refer to any natural topographical feature that rose above a valley, plain or other surroundings regardless of height.

of Olives: pl. of Grk. Elaia (for Heb. zayith; pl. zêtim; SH-2132), an olive, an olive tree, an olive grove. The Hebrew name for the mountain (also called Mount Olivet) is Har HaZeitim, given for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The Mount of Olives is located across the Kidron Valley, part of the two and a half mile-long mountain ridge that towers over the eastern side of Jerusalem, or more precisely, the middle of the three peaks forming the ridge. The ridge juts out in a north-south direction (like a spur) from the range of mountains running down the center of the region. The Mount of Olives rises 2,676 feet above sea level, but only about 175 feet higher than Jerusalem (NIBD 554, 731).

In the days of the Israelite monarchy it provided a lookout base and signaling point for armies defending Jerusalem. Beginning of Monday of his final week Yeshua spent his evenings on the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:19; Luke 21:37). The disciples: pl. of Grk. ho mathētēs. See verse 1 above. came: Grk. proserchomai, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in: Grk. kata, prep. has the root meaning of "down," and with the accusative case of the adjective following the meaning is lit. "according to" or "by way of" (Thayer). private: Grk. idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own, private, personal.

The phrase means that the twelve disciples had a session with Yeshua without other disciples being present. In Mark's account the asking of the questions that follow was initiated by Peter, Jacob, John and Andrew. Scholars believe that the book of Mark reflects the preaching of Peter, so Peter would be the source of the specific persons who posed the following questions. However, since the narratives of Matthew and Luke are clear that the content of the Olivet Discourse was given to all twelve disciples, then it's reasonable to assume that the rest of the disciples drew near as Yeshua began to answer the questions.

saying: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. See the previous verse. Tell: Grk. epō, aor. imp., to speak or say by word or writing; answer, bid, bring word, command (SECB). us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. No indication is given whether there was any intervening discussion after Yeshua’s startling announcement, but the two questions asked by the disciples might seem remarkably insensitive. Didn't they comprehend that the glory and point of pride of the Jewish people would be utterly obliterated? Where is the incredulous reaction that would be normal in the circumstances?

when: Grk. pote, interrogative adverb, when, at what time. will these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). The two questions are significant and still being asked. First, is the issue of "when." Since the triumphal entry in Matthew 21 Yeshua had told several parables about His mission and the fulfillment of the kingdom, taught on the resurrection and had just prophesied that the temple would be destroyed.

and: Grk. kai, conj. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. is the sign: Grk. ho sēmeion, something that confirms or validates through display of transcendent power, usually an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle," first used in Genesis 1:14 of the stars (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit, such as the plagues on Egypt (Ex 7:3).

of your: Grk. sos, an emphatic, possessive-adjective meaning "your very own" (HELPS). coming: Grk. parousia , making an appearance, with a connotation of reaching a position as condition for being present; advent, arrival, coming, or presence. The special word occurs some 25 times in the Besekh, four of which are in this chapter, but most occur in the writings of Paul. The noun was used as a technical expression for the arrival or visit of the king or the appearance of a god (Rienecker II, 95). In the LXX parousia occurs only in three Apocryphal books (Judith 10:18; 2Macc 8:12; 15:21; 3Macc 3:17) (DNTT 2:898). Josephus used parousia only for the presence of God in the Shekinah (Ant. III, 5:3; 8:5; 14:4; IX, 4:3; XVIII, 8:6).

However, Philo used parousia in an eschatological sense. Citing Numbers 24:7 Philo says, "a man will come forth [parousia], says the word of God, leading a host and warring furiously, who will subdue great and populous nations" (On Rewards and Punishments 16:95). Being a noun the emphasis of parousia is not on the traveling from one place to another, but the arrival, the presence after having come. The principal use of parousia in the Besekh is to describe the personal, visible return from heaven of Yeshua, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the Kingdom of God (Matt 24:27, 37, 39; 1Th 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; Jas 5:8; 1Jn 2:28). Both Paul and Peter link the Parousia and the Day of the Lord (2Th 2:1-2; 2Pet 3:4, 10). For more discussion on all the events associated with the Parousia, see my web article The Rapture.

When the apostles asked about a "sign of his coming," they could not have been thinking of coming in the clouds when Yeshua was still on the ground. Their idea of "coming" had to do with coming into Jerusalem and claiming the throne, which is what they thought he would do when he made the "triumphal entry." However, they expected that Yeshua would perform some special sign that would convince all the Jews that He was the Messiah. The Pharisees had asked a similar question (Matt 16:1). So, when the apostles asked about the "sign" of Yeshua's coming, they were not talking about the coming itself, but the portent or event that would signal the appearance was about to occur. They had probably thought the "triumphal entry" was the sign, but when Yeshua didn't ride to the palace to claim the throne, they began to wonder.

and: Grk. kai, conj. of the end: Grk. sunteleia (from sun, "with" and teleō, "to complete"), culmination or completion, i.e. when the parts come together into a whole, "consummation" (HELPS). The term always has an eschatological meaning in the Besekh. of the age: Grk. ho aiōn, an extended period of time, which may be (1) a long period of time in the past ('ages ago'); (2) in the future of a period with no apparent end; eternity; or (3) a segment of extended time determined by qualifiers as present or future; age. The third meaning is intended here.

In the LXX aiōn translates Heb. ōlam (SH-5769; BDB 761), "long duration, antiquity or futurity," first in Genesis 3:22. Olam is also used adverbially to mean "for ever, for all time," (Gen 9:12), as well as ancient time (Gen 49:26), and indefinite futurity (Deut 15:17). In the Tanakh, ōlam is generally concerned with a concrete idea of time in relation to the whole duration of a man's life (DNTT 3:827). In the Besekh Yeshua and the apostles generally speak of two specific ages – the present age (Heb. olam hazeh; Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Heb. olam haba; Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5).

The "end of the age" would be that point just preceding the age to come. The apostles' questions reflected their own hopes, dreams and expectations of God fulfilling all His promises to the Jewish people. Their expectations could be summarized as: (1) universal peace through the Messiah (Isa 9:6-7; 11:6); (2) judgment on the wicked, namely the Gentile nations (Joel 3:1-2); (3) establishment of Israel as a Kingdom once again (Isa 9:1-7; Dan 2:44; 4:3, 34; 7:14); and (4) the return of dispersed Jews to their homeland (Isa 11:11-12). The one promise they didn't really consider was that of the New Covenant in which God would pour His Spirit on His people to enable them to keep His Torah (Jer 31:31).

Last Days: Early Birth Pains, 24:4-8

4― And having answered Yeshua said to them, "Beware lest anyone deceives you.

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:5; Luke 21:8

And: Grk. kai, conj. having answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. part. See verse 2 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. The combination of the verbs "having answered and said" is a typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 2Sam 1:17). The verb apokrinomai emphasizes that a verbal response was made and the verb legō introduces the quotation. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.

Beware: Grk. blepō, pres. imp., 2p-pl. See verse 2 above. The verb is used here in sense of entreating disciples to beware of danger. Yeshua could have issued the command without this verb but he engages in a play on words. They need to look beyond what can be perceived with the physical eyes. lest: Grk. , adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, , in that is objective, dealing only with facts, while is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). The negative particle when used after verbs of fearing or caution introduces a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring vigilance.

anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone of consequence in contrast to others, or to denote a collective commonality of those in a group, here the former. deceives: Grk. planaō, aor. subj., to cause to go astray, in the sense of leading one from a standard of truth or conduct; deceive, mislead. This term nearly always conveys the sin of roaming into error (HELPS). you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun, no doubt including all twelve disciples, occurs 13 times in this chapter, all in the context of warning. The warning is an important corrective to the many self-proclaimed soothsayers of the end times.

Just because someone holds a significant position in the Body of Messiah or is a published author does not automatically give that person authority in matters concerning the last days. Members of the congregation have the right and duty to judge those that offer prophetical pronouncements (Deut 18:20–22; Acts 17:11; 1Cor 14:29; 1Jn 4:1). For the theoretical issue of whether true disciples can be deceived, see the note on verse 24. The potential deception applies not just to the warning of the next verse, but the entire chronology of events described in this discourse. Judas Iscariot refused to accept Yeshua's prophecy and easily became a pawn of Satan.

5― For many will come on the basis of my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah,' and they will deceive many.

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8

For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has an explanatory function here. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high number. will come: Grk. erchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl., to come, come back, return or appear and in a few instances, to go. When used of persons erchomai often indicates traveling or a journey. on the basis of: Grk. epi, prep, lit. "upon," but used here figuratively of that upon which anything rests as a claim of authority; on the ground of, on the basis of.

my: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. name: Grk. onoma in its central sense is used to identify someone. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. The Semitic saying may refer to possessing a personal connection with Yeshua (e.g., Matt 18:20), acting on his authority to accomplish something (e.g., Matt 18:5; Mark 9:39; John 14:14) or claiming possession of Yeshua's qualities, powers, attributes or reputation.

With this latter usage Yeshua may be alluding to the b'rakhah and Messianic prophecy of Psalm 118:26, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." He had already warned Jerusalem (a figure of all Israel) in Matthew 23:39, "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Yeshua proceeds to explain how the "many" will try to claim fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of a Davidic deliverer.

I: Grk. egō. am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos (from chriō, "anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "anointed, Anointed One," and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Mashiach is used in the Tanakh for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26) and this usage defined the term among Jews in the first century.

The primary identification of Messiah is the King of the Jews, the son of David. Biblical prophecies speak of his rule over Israel from David's throne in Jerusalem. Yeshua recounted these prophecies to his disciples after his resurrection (Luke 24:44-47). Jews eagerly anticipated the coming of the Messiah to deliver them from their enemies and establish His kingdom on the earth (Luke 1:69-75). Thus, "Messiah" has special meaning as the hope of Israel, whereas the word "Christ" has an alien and even negative meaning to Jews (Stern 1-2). For a discussion of Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.

and: Grk. kai, conj. will deceive: Grk. planaō, fut. mid., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. many: pl. of Grk. polus. Yeshua perhaps engages in a play on words. "Many will mislead many." When Yeshua said that many would claim to be the Messiah he was not referring to claims of deity. Many Jewish imposters have indeed claimed the title or been heralded by Jewish groups as the Messiah. There have been more than fifty messianic pretenders in the last 2000 years of Jewish history, starting with Theudas and Judas of Galilee in the first century, Acts 5:36-37, and ending with Joseph Frank in the 18th century who became a Roman Catholic (Stern).

None of them met the criteria laid down in Scripture concerning the identity of the Messiah, whereas Yeshua fulfilled them all. Various lists of Jewish Messianic claimants can be found on the Internet. For more information see the web article Counterfeits! – A Study of Israel’s False Messiahs, Congregation Shema Yisrael.

6― And you will begin to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for it is necessary to take place, but the end is not yet.

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9

And: Grk. de, conj. you will begin: Grk. mellō, fut., 2p-pl., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to, intending. to hear: Grk. akouō, pres. inf., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The third meaning dominates here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173).

of wars: pl. of Grk. polemos, to wage war. While the noun polemos in Greek literature may refer to strife, conflict or quarrels, in Scripture the term refers generally to armed conflict and hostilities between nations or kingdoms. When used of armed conflict, the term may indicate a single battle or a war of some duration consisting of many battles.

Major wars during the lifetime of the apostles would have included the invasion of Britain in AD 43 and the beginning of the war between Rome and the Parthians in AD 58. While mass media did not exist in ancient times, important news events were publicized through Acta Diurna, or government announcement bulletins, made public by authority of Caesar. The bulletins were carved on stone or metal and presented in message boards in public places.

and: Grk. kai, conj. rumors: Grk. akoē, something that is heard, whether a report or rumor or message. of wars: pl. of Grk. polemos. Sharp political tensions abounded in Israel during the first century and with the constant pressure of the zealots the threat of Roman reprisal was ever present. Rumors of wars was not an uncommon occurrence in the times of the prophets (Isa 19:1-4; Jer 4:19; 51:46; Ezek 7:26; Dan 11:44). Gale (44) says that mentions of rumors of wars occur in early Jewish literature (Pss. Sol. 1:2; 8:1; 2Baruch 27:3-5; 4Ezra 13:31-32).

See: Grk. horaō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., to perceive with the physical eyes or to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. The latter meaning is intended here given as an admonition or directive. that you are not: Grk. , adv. alarmed: Grk. throeō, pres. pass., imp., 2p-pl., used of inward disturbance by outward circumstances, be alarmed, terrified or scared. Yeshua had already warned his disciples on various occasions against allowing any situation or person, other than God, to cause fear (Matt 6:25-34; 10:26-31).

for: Grk. gar, conj. it is necessary: Grk. dei, an impersonal verb from deō, pres., to stand in need of. The basic idea is that circumstances, expressed or implied, determine expectations for an outcome or event, thus "it is necessary." to take place: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf., to become, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being by birth or natural process; (2) to be made or performed by a person; or (3) equivalent to come to pass or happen, used of historical events or something happening to someone. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX ginomai translates Heb. hayah (SH-1961; BDB 224), to fall out, come to pass, become, be (first in Gen 1:3). The aorist tense signifies the completed action, thus the prophecy views the action as already accomplished.

but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. the end: Grk. telos, a point in time that marks culmination. The term properly means consummation, the end-goal or purpose, such as closure with all its results (HELPS). In the LXX telos occurs 150 times, and frequently translates the Heb. qēts (SH-7093), end (Jdg 11:39); qatseh (SH-7097), end, extremity; and qetsath (SH-7117), an end (DNTT 2:60). These terms are most often used of time, especially in phrases that speak of the end of a definite time period (e.g., Jdg 11:39; 2Sam 14:26; 15:7; 24:8; 2Kgs 8:3; 18:10; Dan 1:14, 18; 4:34; 11:13).

As an exception the terms qets/telos is used of an enduring characteristic of the Messianic kingdom (Isa 9:7). However, in the LXX telos is not used in an eschatological sense. In the context of the Olivet Discourse the reference of "the end" (also verse 13 and 14 below) is shorthand for the "end of the age" (verse 3 above) or the last day of the present age (cf. Dan 12:13; Matt 13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20). is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. not yet: Grk. oupō, adv., negative particle indicating that an activity, circumstance or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet. This clear statement rebuts any notion that these prophesied events are unnecessary to complete God's plan for the end times.

7― For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes according to regions.

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:8; Luke 21:10-11

For: Grk. gar, conj. The conjunction serves to introduce a reason for the preceding warning (Lane 455). nation: Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group as defined by language and culture; nation, people. In the LXX ethnos renders Heb. goy (SH-1471), nation, people, first in Genesis 10:5, which begins the listing of the 70 people groups that descended from Noah, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1). In the Besekh ethnos in the singular may refer generally to any people distinguished by language and culture, as well as defined boundaries (Acts 2:5; 7:7; 10:35; 17:26; Rev 5:9; 13:7; 14:6). The word does not have a particular religious meaning.

will rise: Grk. egeirō, fut. pass., to rise or raise, is used with a variety of meanings: (1) to arouse from sleep, to awake; (2) to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life; (3) to cause to rise or raise, from a seat or bed; or (4) to raise up, produce, cause to appear, such as appear before the public or a judge, or erect a building. The fourth meaning applies here. against: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 2 above. Here the preposition is used of a hostile aim, so "against" is appropriate (Thayer).

nation: Grk. ethnos. The prophecy of ethnos vs. ethnos could include civil war or strife between ethnic groups, whether within a country or across country boundaries. and: Grk. kai, conj. kingdom: Grk. basileia is used to mean (1) an abstract 'act of ruling' and thus 'kingship, royal power, royal rule, or kingdom; (2) a territory ruled over by a king; kingdom; or (3) the royal reign of God or kingdom of God as a chiefly eschatological concept, appearing in the Hebrew prophets and Jewish apocalyptic literature. The term appears widely in Jewish literature of the time.

against: Grk. epi, prep. kingdom: Grk. basileia. Strife between kingdoms or countries as political entities has existed from the first great kingdom established by Nimrod after the deluge. The strife may range from tensions to all out war. Midrashic literature echoed this prophecy: "When you see the kingdoms terrorizing one another, be on the lookout for the feet [i.e., the coming] of the Messiah" (Midrash Genesis 42:4, cited by Gruber).

and: Grk. kai. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. The futurity is certain, but no timing is given. famines: pl. of Grk. limos, condition of misery caused by lack of food and impacting a large area. The common word in the Tanakh for "famine" is ra'ab (Gen 12:10), but re'abon also occurs (Gen 42:19), and kaphan (Job 5:22), all meaning "hunger," "want of food" and "famine." Throughout Bible times famines were not infrequent. Famine may be caused by lack of adequate rainfall, destructive hail storms (Ex 9:23; 10:12-15), infestation of insects (Ex 10:15) and by enemies (Deut 28:49-51; 2Kgs 6:25).

Famine occurred during the lives of all the patriarchs, as well as in the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1) and during the reigns of David (2Sam 21:1), Ahab (1Kgs 17:1) and Zedekiah (2Kgs 25:3). In the time of Caesar Claudius, A.D. 45, a famine severely affected Israel (Acts 11:28). The apostle Paul collected and delivered financial support to the Jerusalem congregation to relieve their plight (Acts 11:29; Rom 15:26; 1Cor 16:1-3).

The warning of famine is also given in the opening of the third seal in Revelation:

"And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." And I looked, and behold, a black horse; and the one sitting on it having a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine." (Rev 6:5-6 BR)

Agricultural production is primarily dependent on the right weather, whatever the skill of the farmer may be. The mention of "famine" is not to describe drought per se, because famine or shortage of food products can result from a variety of causes as already mentioned. Famine causes food to become more expensive and the poor suffer as a result.

and: Grk. kai. earthquakes: pl. of Grk. seismos, from which we get our English word "seismic," means "to shake." While used once for a strong storm at sea (Matt 8:24), seimos is used mostly for a ground temblor or earthquake (BAG). Seismos occurs 13 times in the Besekh, three of which are in the Olivet Discourse narratives and seven in Revelation (6:12; 8:5; 11:13, 19; 16:18). The other three quakes mentioned occur in special circumstances. Prior to the first century only a few earthquakes are mentioned in relation to Israel (Ex 19:18; 1Sam 14:15; 1Kgs 9:11-12; Amos 1:1), the first one accompanying the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai and the last one occurring in Jerusalem in the days of King Uzziah. Yeshua warned his disciples to expect significant seismic events as well as other adverse environmental catastrophes as portents of the end of the age.

In almost immediate fulfillment an earthquake followed the death of Yeshua and opened tombs (Matt 27:51-54), and a quake opened the tomb from which Yeshua had risen (Matt 28:1). Luke records that a house in Jerusalem "was shaken" (Grk. saleuō, see verse 25 below) after a Spirit-anointed prayer meeting (Acts 4:31). A quake in Philippi severely damaged the prison house in which Paul and Silas were incarcerated and opened the prison doors (Acts 16:26). In the year 60, just ten years before the destruction of Jerusalem, an earthquake destroyed Laodicea and demolished a large part of Pompeii (Tacitus 14:27; 15:22), no doubt adversely impacting the Messianic congregations in those regions.

Earthquakes are common on every continent and have always existed, but only in modern times could they be measured. The Richter scale, developed in 1935, calculates the intensity of earthquakes on a ten-point scale. Detectable earthquakes (2.0 and greater) routinely occur around the world, but most cannot be felt and cause no damage. Quakes measuring 5.0 or greater are considered significant due to the potential for property damage and loss of life. In the parallel account Luke uses the word "great" in describing the earthquakes (Luke 21:11), perhaps denoting killer quakes. Revelation describes a future earthquake that destroys a tenth of a great city and kills 7,000 people (Rev 11:13). Only eleven earthquakes in modern history have exceeded this number of fatalities, some with the number of dead in the hundreds of thousands (Deadly History of Earthquakes," BBC News, UK Edition, 30 March 2004).

Charles Wesley, in his sermon The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes (Sermons on Several Occasions, 1872 ed.) in recounting several catastrophic earthquakes in the 17th and 18th centuries, asserted that earthquakes are truly acts of God, and, whatever the natural cause may be, they are the result of His judgment on sin. Indeed, the very first earthquake in human experience initiated God's judgment of the great deluge in Noah's time, "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open" (Gen 7:11).

Prior to Noah there had apparently never been an earthquake, but ever since then earthquakes are a reminder of God's wrath. Scriptures are replete with prophetic pronouncements attributing earthquakes and climate-related calamities to God acting in judgment (Jdg 5:4-5; 2Sam 22:8; Job 9:5f; Ps 18:7; 46:8; 75:3; 77:18; 82:5; 97:4f; 104:32; 114:7; Isa 2:19, 21; 5:25; 13:11, 13; 24:1, 18-20; 29:6; 54:10; Jer 5:9, 22; 10:10; Ezek 38:19f; Hag 2:6; Zech 14:5).

Luke's version of the Olivet Discourse not only mentions earthquakes, but also powerful storms in the sea and threats from interstellar space (Luke 21:11, 25). These calamities are not outside of God’s control (cf. Heb 1:3), but rather signs of the self-destruct sequence that began with God’s curse on the physical world in the Garden (Gen 3:17), and further accelerated by the global deluge in Noah's time.

The ecological and geological cataclysm of the deluge totally destroyed the world Noah knew and set in motion physical stresses in the earth's structure still being felt to this day. The many promises in Scripture that neither the righteous nor God's kingdom can be shaken (e.g., Prov 10:30; Heb 12:28) point to the reality that earthquakes bring fear and torment because people are not ready to meet their Creator and Judge.

On the basis of the Olivet prophecy a number of Bible teachers have claimed that a pronounced increase in both the frequency and intensity of earthquakes would occur just prior to the Second Coming and that recent decades have witnessed such a trend. However, Yeshua did not say that earthquakes would increase in any manner; only that they would happen. (For a contrary opinion on the statistical frequency of earthquakes see the article, Steven A. Austin and Mark L. Strauss, Earthquakes and the End Times: A Geological and Biblical Perspective, Institute for Creation Research: 1999.)

Whatever the frequency of earthquakes may be, Scripture does speak much of catastrophic earthquakes to come in the final days of the present age (cf. Ps 99:1; Isa 2:19-21; 13:13; 24:18-21; Joel 2:10; 3:16; Hag 2:6; Heb 12:26-27; Rev 11:13, 19). Every time an earthquake happens it is one more reminder that the present age is coming to a close. Indeed, John describes the earth being destroyed by a final cataclysmic earthquake:

"And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found." (Rev 16:18-20)

according to: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but when used with nouns in the accusative case (as here) the preposition normally means "according to." regions: pl. of Grk. topos, a spatial area, which may be an unnamed geographical area or a named locality; place, region or country. Most versions insert the word "various" to qualify the plural noun as referring to unspecified locations. The phrasing "according to regions" hints at some regions being more prone to these calamities than other regions.

The parallel passage in Luke's version of the Olivet Discourse includes the mention of "pestilences" and "terrors and great signs from heaven." See my note on Luke 21:11.

Textual Note

The Textus Receptus and late MSS insert Grk. kai loimoi, pl. of loimos, "and pestilences," before seismos and this text is preserved in several versions (BRG, DARBY, DRA, JUB, KJV, LITV, MACE, MW, NKJV, NMB, RGT, WESLEY, YLT). Metzger says that kai loimoi may have been accidentally omitted because of the similarity of ending of limoi ("famines"), but it is more likely that they were added at various places by scribes who recollected Luke 21:11.

8― But all these things are the beginning of birth pains.

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:8; Luke 21:9

But: Grk. de, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 2 above. The plural pronoun encompasses the destruction of the temple, false Messiahs, wars and rumors of wars, nations and kingdoms competing for supremacy, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, fearful signs in the heavens, and great storms in the seas.

are the beginning: Grk. archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and may mean (1) the point of derivation or originating moment; beginning, start point; (2) one who enjoys preeminence in earthly or supra-terrestrial realm; ruler, authority; or (3) assigned position or sphere of activity, position, domain, jurisdiction. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX archē translates Heb. reshit (SH-7725; "beginning") first in Genesis 1:1; and rosh (SH-7218; "head, ruler") first in Genesis 2:10 (DNTT 1:164f).

of birth pains: pl. of Grk. ōdin, pain associated with giving birth. In the LXX ōdin translates various Hebrew words or constructions that describe giving birth or the pain experienced in giving birth (1Sam 4:19; 2Kgs 19:3; Job 39:1-3; Ps 48:6; Isa 13:8; 21:3; 26:17; 37:3; 66:7; Jer 6:24; 8:21; 13:21; 22:23; 50:43; Hos 9:11; 13:13; Mic 4:9-10). Often in the prophets ōdin occurs in contexts of difficult or traumatic events being likened to birth pains. By the first century "birth pains" was a special term for the period of distress preceding the Messianic Age (cf. cf. 2Baruch 27:1-30:1; Shabbath 118a; Sanhedrin 98a-b) (Stern). Paul echoes this same prophecy,

"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Rom 8:22-23)

The mention of birth pains is a clever way to describe the events that will be prophesied in this discourse. Birth pains become more intense as well as closer together before the moment of birth. Modern medicine has documented that a woman experiences six types of contractions in giving birth: (1) Braxton Hicks; (2) early labor contractions; (3) active labor contractions; (4) transition contractions; (5) pushing contractions; and (6) post-birth contractions. The revelation of the last days could be viewed according to these six types of birth pains.

Since the last days began with the incarnation of the Son (Heb 1:2), his coming into the world could be likened to the "Braxton-Hicks" contracts. Yeshua's presence in the world certainly caused tremors in Jewish society, but the Jewish leaders failed to recognize him (Luke 19:41-44; 1Cor 2:8). Yeshua likened the events depicted in verses 5-8 above as the early labor contractions. He did not mean to imply restricting these events to any particular time period or centuries, and indeed most of history since the first century could be put in that category.

The active labor period includes the events prophesied in verses 9-14. The transition contractions begin with the prophesied events of verses 15-28. The final contractions are depicted in verses 29-31. Post-birth contractions are depicted in the next chapter with the Messiah sitting as judge of the sheep and goats. The point for the apostles was that they would not be alive to witness the prophesied events of the various stages of contractions. The fact that the "beginning of birth pangs" had not even happened yet was a call for patience and faithfulness.

{Immediate Future: Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19}

Last Days: Active Birth Pains, 24:9-14

9― Then they will deliver you into tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations because of my name.

Then: Grk. tote, temporal adverb that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. The adverb occurs nine times in this chapter to move the narrative forward and mark transitions in chronology. they will deliver: Grk. paradidōmi, fut., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to deliver, hand over, or entrust; (2) to deliver a person to a custodial procedure and judicial process; (3) to hand down, pass on, transmit or relate, and used of oral or written tradition (BAG). The first meaning is intended here, but the second meaning could also have application. you: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. All the apostles were included.

into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the previous verb to indicate consequence of being "delivered." tribulation: Grk. thlipsis, which literally means pressure or a pressing. Sometimes the word is translated as affliction. The term properly refers to what constricts or rubs together, and is used of a narrow place that "hems someone in," especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined, restricted, and "without options" (HELPS). Thlipsis refers both to distress brought about by outward circumstances or spiritual or emotional anguish because of the circumstances.

Throughout the apostolic writings tribulation or oppression by virtue of identification with Yeshua is treated as a normal and expected experience for the God's people (Acts 14:22; Rom 5:3; 8:35; 12:12; Eph 3:13; 1Th 1:6; 3:3-4; 2Th 1:4; 2Tim 3:12; Heb 10:33; Rev 1:9). Initially tribulation for Yeshua's disciples would be experienced from persecution by unbelieving Jews (John 15:20; 16:2), but of course the real source of tribulation is Satan (cf. Matt 13:39; Luke 8:12; Acts 10:38; 1Pet 5:8).

and: Grk. kai, conj. they will kill: Grk. apokteinō, fut., 3p-pl., to put an end by force to the existence of someone; kill. you: Grk. humeis. Yeshua prophesied the martyrdom of his disciples, although he will later exclude John (John 21:18-23). Yet, given the nature of the prophecy the plural pronoun likely envisions a much broader scope than just the remaining eleven disciples, since of that number only one was killed by Jewish authorities, Jacob son of Zebedee (Acts 12:1-2). Judas will commit suicide and according to church tradition the rest of the original Twelve were martyred in various lands of the Diaspora in which they engaged in ministry.

Church tradition offers some information. Simon Peter was executed by Caesar Nero, c. 67 A.D. Andrew reportedly was crucified in Achaia. Philip was killed in Hierapolis. As for Matthew there is a legend that he died a martyr in Ethiopia. Traditions for Thomas are varied with his death reported in Parthia, Persia and India. The apostle Matthias, chosen to replace Judas (Acts 1:23-26), was reportedly martyred in Colchis (modern Georgia). No information exists for the deaths of Bartholomew, Jacob son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot. John, the son of Zebedee, of course, did not die a martyr (John 21:20), but of old age, sometime after Trajan became emperor in A.D. 98.

The plural pronoun would likely include apostles who would later join their number, such as the seventy apostles that included Luke (Luke 10:1; see the list of Hippolytus), Jacob ("James") and Judah ("Jude") the Lord's brothers (Acts 1:14), Matthias (Acts 1:23), and Paul. The plural pronoun would also anticipate the great persecution that broke out against the disciples in the aftermath of the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8:1). Saul of Tarsus (later Paul the apostle) was the ringleader of the persecution and according to the record of Luke imprisoned many (Acts 8:3; 26:10) and had some put to death (Acts 9:1; 22:4; 26:10). Many years afterward Jacob, the Lord's brother, was executed by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant. XX, 9:1).

and: Grk. kai. you will be: Grk. eimi, fut. pass., 2p-pl. See verse 3 above. hated: Grk. miseō, means to detest, abhor or reject. In the LXX miseō renders Heb. sane (SH–8130; "saw–nay"), which has the same meaning (first in Gen 26:27). The Hebrew word often indicates an emotional impulse to despise that can result in an action to turn against (e.g., Joseph's brothers, Gen 37:2–8). Hatred in Scripture also refers to the hostility shown by an enemy (Gen 24:60; Ex 1:10; Num 10:35; Deut 30:7; Luke 1:71). Yeshua had previously warned his disciples that they would be hated (Matt 10:22).

by: Grk. hupo, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. the nations: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos. See verse 7 above. because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here. my: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 5 above. It may seem strange that the mention of being hated does not precede being killed. However, Yeshua points out that hostility toward the apostolic message will continue long after they are dead. Indeed in this present time there is no nation where those who choose to proclaim Yeshua as the only Way and live by God's commandments are not hated.

10― And then many will fall away and they will betray one another and will hate one another.

And: Grk. kai, conj. then: Grk. tote, adv. See the previous verse. The adverb marks a transition that occurs because of the hatred of Yeshua's followers by non-believers. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 5 above. will fall away: Grk. skandalizō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., may mean (1) cause to be caught or to fall, i.e., cause to sin, whether in a breach of the moral law, in unbelief or in the acceptance of false teachings; or (2) give offense to, anger, shock (BAG). The first meaning applies here. The imagery of trap-setting or the laying of obstacles in another's way underlie the use of the verb. The falling away depicted here is the abandonment of loyalty to Yeshua.

and: Grk. kai. they will betray: Grk. paradidōmi, fut., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. This betrayal is a natural consequence of falling away and will be instigated even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends (Luke 21:16) who want to curry favor with the government. one another: pl. of Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pronoun, each other, one another. and: Grk. kai. will hate: Grk. miseō, fut., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. one another: pl. of Grk. allēlōn. Yeshua predicts a breakdown of relationships in the community of faith. Times of testing always determine the true disciples of Yeshua from the false.

11― And many false prophets will arise and will deceive many.

And: Grk. kai, conj. many: pl. of Grk. polus. See verse 5 above. false prophets: pl. of Grk. pseudoprophētēs, one who falsely claims to have divine credentials for service as a prophet, with or without the implication of offering incorrect information. The false prophet is in reality a wolf in sheep's clothing (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29-30). In the LXX pseudoprophētēs does not have an exact Hebrew correlation, but occurs ten times to translate Heb. nabi (SH-5030), in which the context indicates false prophets (Jer 6:13; 26:7, 8, 11, 16; 27:9; 28:1; 29:1, 8; Zech 13:2). Jeremiah also employs a construction "prophets [who] prophesy falsely" (Jer 5:31; 23:25; 27:15), or "prophesy a lie" (Jer 27:14, 16).

In order to understand what makes a prophet false, we must consider the ministry of prophets in Scripture. Biblical prophecy (noun, Grk. prophēteia; verb, prophēteuō) means to foretell, tell forth or to prophesy, with three functional meanings: (1) the act of stating or disclosing divine will and purpose; (2) a gift for disclosure of divine will or purpose; (3) or a disclosure made under divine authority or direction. God does desire the ministry of prophesying, but it must be done in accordance with biblical instruction (see my commentary on 1Corinthians 14).

will arise: Grk. egeirō, fut. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 7 above. and: Grk. kai. will deceive: Grk. planaō, fut. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 4 above. The verb describes leading one from a standard of truth or conduct. many: pl. of Grk. polus. Yeshua engages in a play on words since the "many false prophets" are not equal to the "many people mislead." False prophesying has two elements identified in Scripture, although they do not always occur together.

First, the forth-telling of false prophets may (a) counsel abandonment of the God of Israel, (b) counsel disobedience of God's commandments (Deut 13:1-3), (c) advocate false (heretical) teachings (1Tim 4:3; 2Pet 2:1), (d) tell people what they want to hear (2Tim 4:3), (e) and/or (e) seek to financially benefit from their deceptive ministry (1Tim 6:9-10). They often engage in reprehensible conduct themselves, such as immorality or divination (Jer 23:14; Acts 8:9-24; 13:6-12). False prophets play the role of giving credibility to the false messianic figure, much as Rabbi Akiva did for Simon bar Kokhba in the early 2nd century A.D.

Second, the foretelling of false prophets may announce predictions of end-time dates that do not come to pass (Deut 18:22; Mark 13:32), promise peace and prosperity when God has determined calamity (Jer 23:17; Ezek 13:16; 1Th 5:3), or deny predictions that biblical prophets have made (Jer 20:6; 2Chr 18:5; John 7:40-43). False prophets sometimes make their pronouncements based on dreams or visions or the bold declaration that "God told me" (cf. Jer 14:14; 23:25, 32; Lam 2:14; Ezek 13:7, 9, 23; 13:7-9; 21:29; 22:28; 27:15; Zech 10:2; Col 2:18). The second element should be a strong clue to cease giving a prophet credibility when the prediction doesn't come true.

Yeshua warned his disciples of false prophets in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 7:15-16) and the apostles reiterated the threat (cf. 2Pet 2:1; 1Jn 4:1). Paul similarly declared, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2Tim 4:3-4). Paul advised the Corinthian disciples to exercise appropriate and discerning judgment on any prophetic message (1Cor 14:29).

John instructed disciples to "test the spirits" (1Jn 4:1), i.e., evaluate carefully anyone who claims to speak for God. Merely, asserting that one's message is from God does not automatically provide credibility. The message must accord with Scripture to be accepted as divinely inspired.

12― And because of lawlessness having been increased, the love of the many will grow cold.

And: Grk. kai, conj. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. lawlessness: Grk. anomia (from, a, "not," and nomos, "law"), lawlessness, which may refer to (1) a state or condition of opposition to the plans and purposes of God; or (2) an action or product of a lawless mindset. In the LXX anomia translates primarily Heb. avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, or punishment for guilt (Gen 19:15; Ex 34:7). Anomia is more properly Torah-lessness or living contrary to Torah commands. Anomia in this context does not mean abandonment of governmental laws, but a rejection of God’s authority and His commandments as the standard for ethics and morality. Paul will later apply the term "lawlessness" to the anti-messiah (2Th 2:3).

having been increased: Grk. plēthunō, aor. pass. inf., cause to become more in number, increase, multiply. The infinitive expresses result. Even today lawlessness pervades the Body of Messiah since many Christians don't believe the Torah commandments have any authority and tend to pick and choose what commandments they will obey. the love: Grk. ho agapē, a relatively high level of interest in the well-being of another, affection, esteem, love. The noun agapē is one of the four Greek words for "love." In the LXX agapē renders Heb. ahavah (SH-160, BDB 12), which is used of both human and divine love.

The Jewish translators of the LXX apparently coined the noun agapē, since there is no Greek literature earlier than the LXX that uses the word (DNTT 2:539). God's nature and actions are the epitome of agapē (1Jn 4:8) and the preeminent virtue (1Cor 13:1-13). The essential factor in every passage employing agapē is the willingness to sacrifice for an object, which sets it apart from the affection of phileō, the family loyalty of storgē and the passion of eros.

of the many: pl. of Grk. ho polus, adj. See verse 5 above. The descriptor of "the many" often occurs in Scripture and alludes to something held in common by a large group, whether a community or the nation. Here the expression has a pejorative intention similar to Yeshua's contrast of the "few" with the "many" (Matt 7:13-14). will grow cold: Grk. psuchō, fut. pass., used in imagery of fire that changes from flame to a cold state; go out, be extinguished. The two preeminent commands are to love God and love one's neighbor. When people reject God's authority they will also become unwilling to sacrifice for the good of others.

13― But the one having endured to the end, this one will be saved.

But: Grk. de, conj. the one: Grk ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Although Yeshua views his disciples as a collective group throughout the discourse, he also makes the application of truth apply to each individual. having endured: Grk. hupomenō, aor. part., may mean (1) stay in a place when others are leaving; (2) to be steadfast in the face of difficulty; or (3) be persistent in expecting something. The second meaning applies here. The verb occurs 17 times in the Besekh, especially in exhortations or descriptions of perseverance (Matt 10:22; Rom 12:12; 1Cor 13:7; 2Tim 2:10, 12; Heb 10:32; 12:2-3; 12:7; Jas 1:12; 5:11; 1Pet 2:20).

In the LXX hupomenō translates eight different Hebrew verbs (DNTT 2:773), but primarily qavah (SH-6960), to wait or eagerly look for (BDB 876). The verb carries the predominate sense of patiently waiting on ADONAI to respond to a personal petition or provide deliverance (Ps 25:3, 5; 27:14; 37:9, 34; 39:7; 40:1; 52:9; 130:5; Prov 20:22; Isa 25:9; 40:31; 49:23). The willingness to patiently wait is grounded in the covenantal relationship. ADONAI is the "Hope of Israel" (Jer 14:8; 17:13; Acts 28:20). Throughout Scripture and Jewish writings hupomenō carries the sense of being steadfast, holding one's ground, and persevering in distress because God is faithful.

to: Grk. eis, prep. the end: Grk. telos. See verse 6 above. In terms of Yeshua's parabolic description, "the end" is the final set of labor pains that results in birth. The "end" in this passage could also be the an allusion to death, since everyone must die (Heb 9:27), and millions will be executed in the great tribulation (so Rev 7:9, 14). Yeshua exhorted the members of the Smyrna congregation, "Fear nothing what you are about to suffer" and then promised, "Be faithful until death, and I will give to you the crown of life" (Rev 2:10). In this context Yeshua is not talking about enduring the trials of life that come to all human beings. The enduring here has to do with refusing to recant one's devotion to Yeshua when faced with the reality of suffering or even dying because of one's discipleship.

this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. While the pronoun is masculine its application is universal. Yeshua again emphasizes the individual. will be saved: Grk. sōzō, fut. pass., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue. The verb is used in reference to rescue from bodily peril (Luke 8:50) or bodily death (Luke 23:39), as well as rescue from spiritual peril, frequently of an apocalyptic type (Luke 13:23; 19:10). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important is yasha, (SH-34-67), to deliver, liberate and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, (SH-4422), to escape, deliver, or save from divine wrath (Joel 2:32).

In apostolic usage being saved is often equated with the reception of divine mercy for sin and a present experience (Matt 1:21; John 3:17; Acts 2:40, 47; 11:14; 15:11; 16:30-31; Rom 8:24; 10:9; 1Cor 1:18, 21; 2Cor 2:15; Eph 2:5; 1Tim 1:15; Titus 3:5; 1Pet 3:21). However, being saved is also a future experience of being delivered from the penalties of the judgment of the Messiah, which will occur on the last day of the present age (Joel 2:1, 32; Matt 24:13; Mark 13:13; John 5:22-34; 6:40; 12:47-48; Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5; 2Cor 5:10). In the second part of this discourse Yeshua will give a graphic description of what he will do when he exercises judgment upon his return to earth, both blessings and penalties (Matt 25:31-46; cf. Matt 7:21-23; 2Th 1:6-10; 2Tim 4:8).

Yeshua does not promise deliverance from persecution (cf. John 17:15), but he promises that the actions of others cannot affect his judgment of his loyal disciples. The essence of the promise of "the one enduring will be saved" is captured by Paul's dictum, "If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us" (2Tim 2:11-13). Discipleship requires perseverance or continued loyalty to Yeshua to gain the promise of reigning with the Messiah.

14― And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

And: Grk. kai, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. good news: Grk. ho euangelion (from Grk. eu, "good," and angelia, "message, announcement"), originally meant a reward for good news and then simply good news. Christian Bibles translate the term as "gospel," but many Jews regard the word as a distinctively Christian term. In the LXX euangelion renders besorah (SH-1309), which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 22).

of the kingdom: Grk. ho basileia. See verse 7 above. The good news proclaimed by Yeshua and his apostles was that God had fulfilled His promises given to Israel through the prophets and sent His Messiah in Jewish flesh to provide deliverance and atonement and to establish his kingdom on the earth (Matt 1:1, 20-23; Mark 1:1; Luke 1:30-37, 68-75; 24:44; John 1:29; 20:31; Rom 1:1-4, 16). The good news concerns directly the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. The good news does announce the grace of God (cf. Acts 20:24; Gal 1:6; Php 1:7) and salvation (Rom 1:16; Eph 1:13), but most often the good news is of the Messiah himself and the kingdom over which he reigns. (See my note on Mark 1:15.).

Yeshua announced that the kingdom was at hand, meaning that it was present in His person. The King had arrived, so the kingdom had arrived. The Kingdom exists wherever the king reigns. The good news is about the kingdom. In the apostolic narratives the Kingdom is not (1) heaven in the sense that you have to die to enter; (2) a church or denomination; (3) given to human leaders for their custodial care; or (4) imposed by human political action. The good news of the Kingdom:

● is instituted by God alone.

● fulfills all the promises made to Israel under the Old Covenant.

● promises that a descendant of David will sit on the David’s throne.

● promises divine enablement to obey Torah commandments.

● promises salvation for all Israel and grafted-in Gentiles.

● promises divine power that brings healing and reconciliation to the world.

● promises a personal relationship with the Messiah.

will be proclaimed: Grk. kērussō, fut. pass., to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald; proclaim. The verb refers to the proclamation of the content of the good news by an authorized representative of Yeshua. in the whole: Grk. holos, adj. signifying that a person or thing is understood as a complete unit and not necessarily indicative of every individual part; all, whole, entire. inhabited earth: Grk. oikoumenē (from oikeō, to inhabit or dwell), the world as an inhabited area, often with focus on its inhabitants.

In the earliest classical Greek literature the term was used of the world inhabited by Greeks in contrast to those lands inhabited by barbarians, but later literature included the lands of barbarians. In the Roman period the term meant the lands under Roman rule, because whatever lay outside was of no account. In the LXX oikoumenē occurs 40 times, mostly in Psalms and Isaiah, and translates primarily Heb. tebel, 'world,' as an inhabited place (DNTT 1:518).

for: Grk. eis, prep. a testimony: Grk. marturion, that which serves to corroborate or attest, a testimony or witness. to all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope and without statistical emphasis; (1) sometimes with the components viewed as an aggregate, all, whole; or (2) sometimes with the focus on the components of an aggregate, each, every. Here the adj. leaves none out. the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See verse 7 above. From the point of view of Yeshua and his apostles the term "nations" could be viewed as a reference to the seventy people groups of Genesis 10 with their distinctive languages (Gen 11:7). The term is not intended in the restrictive sense of non-Israelites or Gentiles.

and: Grk. kai. then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 9 above. The third use of the adverb marks another transition in chronology. the end: Grk. telos. See verse 6 above. The "end" is the end of the present age. will come: Grk. hēkō, fut., to have come, have arrived, or be present. The affirmation that the good news will be proclaimed to all the nations is an important promise and a hint of the commission Yeshua will give the apostles before his ascension (Matt 28:19; Acts 1:8). However, as a prophecy its fulfillment in relation to the end of the age will be difficult to determine.

Conversely, Yeshua was not prophesying the spread of institutional Christianity ("the Church"), which has historically denied the key provisions of Yeshua's good news of the kingdom and declared itself to have superseded or replaced Israel in God's affections because of supposed Jewish rejection of Yeshua. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century took the first steps to free the good news from its institutional strait-jacket, but it wasn't until the 18th century that Christian ministers and missionaries began proclaiming on every continent the good news of personal salvation by trusting in the atoning work of Yeshua. I recommend Roberts Liardon, God's Generals: The Missionaries (2014), for a definitive and inspiring review of modern pioneers who took the good news to the nations.

{The Times of the Gentiles, Luke 21:20-24}

Last Days: Transition Birth Pains, 24:15-28

Given the prophecies that follow Yeshua seems to speak of the end of the age. Some Christians believe that fulfillment of prophecy is unnecessary for Yeshua to come. There were over 50 prophecies related to the first coming of Yeshua. They were all fulfilled. Does it not make sense that all the prophecies pertaining to the Second Coming of Yeshua would also come true?

15― "Therefore when you should see the abomination of desolation having been spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, the one reading let him understand.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:14.

Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." when: Grk. hotan, temporal marker; when, whenever. you should see: Grk. horaō, aor. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 6 above. The verb is meant to be taken in the literal sense of physical eyesight. The subjunctive mood denotes probability and looks toward what is potential. the abomination: Grk. bdelugma means a detestable thing and refers to anything that must not be brought before God because it arouses his wrath. Rienecker says that bdelugma refers to something that stinks in the nostrils (2:503).

In the LXX bdelugma renders Heb. shiqquts, which means a detested thing, particularly anything associated with idolatrous religion (BDB 1055). (See Deut 29:16; 2Kgs 23:24; Jer 4:1; 16:18; Hos 9:10; Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11.) of desolation: Grk. erēmōsis, a condition of having been made uninhabitable, depopulation, desolation or devastation. having been spoken of: Grk. ereō, aor. pass. part., inform through utterance, here denoting speech completed. through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. The preposition conveys instrumentality in this instance. Daniel: Grk. Daniēl, a transliteration of Heb. Daniyyel, "God is my judge."

Daniel was a young man of nobility taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, after the battle of Carchemish, 605 B.C. and transported from Judah to Babylon. The text does not indicate his precise age. The Babylonians sought to remove all vestiges of Daniel's nationality and religion. For this reason, they sought to change the name of Daniel to Belteshazzar. He was trained in the arts, letters, and wisdom in the Babylonian capital. Eventually, he rose to high rank among the Babylonian men of wisdom.

He was a civil servant throughout the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (604-562 B.C.) and a high governmental official during the reign of Cyrus (539-529 B.C.). He served also during his old age into the reign of Darius I (522-486 B.C.). Daniel would probably have celebrated his one hundredth birthday during the reign of Darius. He demonstrated at an early age propensities of knowledge, wisdom, and leadership. In addition to his wisdom, he was skilled in dream interpretation (Dan 1:17). He was a man of singular piety (Dan 1:8-16; Ezek 14:14, 20), a man of prayer, (Dan 2:17; 6:10; 9:3-21) and courage (Dan 6:18-24).

the prophet: Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. Some prophets left literary works that later became Scripture. Others left no writings. Some gave advice to kings. Some prophesied in worship settings. Some saw visions. Some proclaimed a message in startling symbolic actions. Some were gentle, some were fiery, some were confrontational, some worshipful, some full of joy, others full of sadness. But, they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21).

Yeshua alludes to the book that bears Daniel's name and in so doing identifies him as a prophet. Ironically the Jewish canon did not accord Daniel that honor by including his book in the Neviim ("Prophets") portion of the Tanakh, but because his writing seemed so mysterious his book was placed in the Ketuvim ("Writings"). The prophecy of the abomination of desolation is found in Daniel 9:27; 11:31 and 12:11. (See my commentary on these passages.) However, Yeshua repeated the revelation given to Daniel regarding the Desolator, a man who would make a covenant with "the many" and then commit a detestable act. Daniel’s prophecy states that this abomination occurs in the last week of the seventy-week prophetic timetable.

While the actions of the Greek dictator Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 B.C. (as described in 1Macc 1:54-55; 2Macc 6:1-3) may have paralleled Daniel's prophecy, Yeshua indicated that the fulfillment of the abomination of desolation lay in the future. Messianic Jews might well have thought Yeshua's prophecy was about to happen in AD 40 when Caligula sent an army into Syria with an order to erect a statute of himself in the Jerusalem temple with force of arms if necessary. Josephus tells the dramatic story that after many entreaties to the Roman General by thousands of Jews willing to die to prevent the sacrilege, his support to their cause was gained and a final appeal by King Agrippa succeeded in convincing Caligula to abandon his plan (Ant. XVIII, 8:2-9).

In the first Jewish-Roman War of 66-70 A.D. the Romans had no interest in using the temple for idolatrous worship as Antiochus and Caligula and in AD 70 destroyed the temple. Ironically, Jewish Zealots committed a sacrilege during this war. Josephus records that the Zealots moved into and occupied the temple area and allowed persons who had committed crimes to roam about freely in the Holy of Holies. The Zealots even carried out the farce of casting lots to replace the High Priest and selected one named Phannias who was totally unqualified for the office. The retired High Priest Ananus who witnessed these events lamented, "Certainly it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places, that ought not to be trodden upon at random, filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains" (Wars IV, 3:7-10).

standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position, used of bodily posture; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The first meaning applies here. The perfect tense points to action completed in past time with continuing results to the present without any indication of the period of time. in the holy: Grk. hagios, adj., set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy.

place: Grk. topos is used to mean (1) a spatial area, as a locality or a location for some activity; place; (2) a position with obligation; responsibility; or (3) a circumstance that offers a chance to do something; opportunity. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX topos renders Heb. maqom (SH-4725), a standing place, place, site, used widely of a locality (first in Gen 12:6). The idiom of "holy place" occurs in the Torah for a place of sacrifice (Ex 29:31; Lev 6:30) and a court where priests ate (Lev 6:16, 26) and washed (Lev 6:27).

In the Tanakh "holy place" is used of the inner area of the tabernacle or temple that encompassed the holy of holies and the outer area where the altar of incense and table of shewbread were kept (Ex 26:33). The holy place can be the hill on which the temple stood (Ps 24:3). Ezekiel 48:15 designates a sizable area given to the priests as an allotment as a "holy place." It is generally assumed that the abomination will stand in the Jerusalem temple, largely because of Paul's words to the congregation in Thessalonica,

"Let not anyone deceive you in not one way, because the apostasy comes firstly, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so as for him to take his seat in the sanctuary of God, displaying himself that he is a god." (2Th 2:3-4 BR)

However, this assumption is by no means certain, since Yeshua does not say the abomination of desolation is standing in a temple. The "holy place" would certainly refer to Jerusalem and there is currently another religious structure on that sacred site, which could serve as a place for the abomination of desolation to stand. Some believe that the Israelis will build another temple and it is that temple the anti-messiah desecrates. Such a viewpoint is problematic. See my article Will There be a Rebuilt Temple?

the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. reading: Grk. anaginōskō, pres. part., means to read, to read aloud and referred to a public reader. The verb alludes to the practice in early congregations of reading Scripture in services and meetings, which was adopted from Jewish practice (cf. Luke 4:16; Acts 13:15; 15:21; 2Cor 3:15; Col 4:16; 1Th 5:27). In Judaism any member of the congregation may be called upon to read Scripture, lead in congregational prayer or preach sermons (Wilson 216).

let him understand: Grk. noeō, pres. imp., to grasp with the mind or heart ('understand') or to give thought to ('think about or ponder'). In a Jewish synagogue or Messianic congregation the reader would understand or recognize that the reference to the abomination of desolation. While the entreaty to the reader appears to be Matthew's instruction (reflected by versions putting the phrase in parentheses), there is no reason not to take it as coming from Yeshua in anticipation of his words being repeated. (Parentheses do not appear in the original Bible MSS.)

16― "Then those in Judea must flee into the mountains.

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:14; Luke 21:21.

Then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 9 above. The fourth use of the adverb marks another transition in the chronology. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. The preposition denotes being within the geographical boundaries. Judea: Grk. Ioudaia transliterates the Latin provincial name of Iudaea and corresponds to the Heb. name Y'hudah, which means "praised" or "object of praise" (Gen 29:35; BDB 397). The territorial name of Ioudaia had two uses: (1) the historic Israelite territory that lay between Samaria on the north and Idumea on the south. Judea was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and the east by the Jordan River. (See the map.)

(2) the Roman province of Judaea, which comprised Samaria, Judea and Idumea, with the capital in Caesarea. Yeshua no doubt intended the historic territory of Judea rather than the Roman province. NOTE: Thayer's lexicon and Strong's concordance, being published before the 20th century, defined Ioudaia as "a region of Palestine," since the land had this name at the time of publication of those books. However, this definition is inaccurate because the land was not known as Palestine in the first century. See my article The Land is NOT Palestine.

must flee: Grk. pheugō, pres. imp., 3p-pl., to make a decision movement away to avoid a hazard. The present tense emphasizes to start and continue the action until completed and the imperative mood stresses the urgency of compliance. into: Grk. eis, prep. the mountains: pl. of Grk. oros. See verse 3 above. Except for the coastal plain Judea is mostly hill country. In the parallel version in Luke 21:21 Yeshua directs those in cities to flee and warns against entering cities, which is the point of fleeing to the mountains where hiding places can be found. In Judea people would not have to go far to find mountains.

17― "The one on the housetop must not come down to take things out of his house.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:15.

The one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. on: Grk. epi, prep. the housetop: Grk. ho dōmatos, the roof as a level structure over a house; lit. "the one on the roof." The flat roofs of ancient houses, accessed by means of an outside staircase, served as places for mourning (Isa 15:3) or prayer (Dan 6:10; Acts 10:9). must not: Grk. , adv. come down: Grk. katabainō, aor. imp., to proceed in a direction that is down from the starting point; to come or go down. The prohibition is not directed at vacating the roof in the face of imminent danger, but the destination after leaving the roof as explained in the rest of the verse.

to take: Grk. airō, aor. inf., may mean (1) to cause to move upward; raise up, lift; or (2) move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. The second meaning applies here. The infinitive is used to express purpose. things: pl. of Grk. ho, but used here as a relative pronoun. out of: Grk. ek, prep. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. house: Grk. ho oikos is a structure for habitation. The obvious point of the instruction is that life is more important than possessions. The instruction anticipates the warning of verse 21.

18― "And the one in the field must not return back to take his cloak.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:16.

And: Grk. kai, conj. the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. the field: Grk. ho agros normally refers to a plot of ground used mainly for agriculture (Matt 13:24), i.e., a field, and occasionally as the countryside outside a city or village (Mark 15:21; 16:15; Luke 23:26). must not: Grk. , adv. return back: Grk. epistrephō, aor. imp., to turn about, return. to take: Grk. airō, aor. inf. See the previous verse. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. cloak: Grk. himation, a covering for the body, generally referring to clothing or apparel, but in this context it means an outer garment.

In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT 1:316). The himation was worn over an undergarment, Grk. chitōn (Matt 5:40). In the LXX chitōn renders Heb. kethoneth, "tunic," the principal ordinary garment made of linen and worn next to the skin by both men and women (BDB 509). The scenario envisioned seems to be that of someone laboring in a field, having removed his outer garment for comfort. Yeshua's instruction insists that the crisis and danger, as described in verse 21, is so great that the worker does not even have time to go fetch his cloak.

19― "But woe to those having a baby in the womb and to those nursing babies in those days!

Parallel Passages: Mark 13:17; Luke 21:23.

But: Grk. de, conj. woe: Grk. ouai is normally used in the apostolic writings as an interjection denoting pain or displeasure, "woe" or "alas." Here ouai refers to a pending calamity. In the LXX ouai renders Hebrew words meaning "to howl," which may express grief (Prov 23:29), despair (1Sam 4:7), lamentation (1Kgs 13:30), dissatisfaction (Isa 1:4), pain (Jer 10:19), a threat (Ezek 16:23) or simply to attract attention (Isa 55:11) (DNTT 3:1051). to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. having: Grk. echō, pres. act. part., to have or to possess something. a baby in: Grk en, prep. the womb: Grk. gastēr, the region of the body containing the stomach and the womb.

and: Grk. kai, conj. to those: pl. of Grk. ho. nursing babies: Grk. thēlazō, pl. pres. part., to nurse, to suckle at the breast; lit. "and to the ones giving suck" (Marshall). in: Grk. en, prep. those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The fourth usage applies here. The time of distress is defined in verse 21.

20― "But pray that your flight will not be in winter, nor on a Sabbath.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:18.

But: Grk. de, conj. pray: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. imp., to petition God for a personal desire or to intercede for others. that: Grk. hina, conj. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. flight: Grk. phugē, escape from a painful circumstance, flight. will not: Grk. , adv. be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj., to become or come into being. in winter: Grk. cheimōn, from cheima ('winter weather, storm') means inclement weather conditions or more particularly the rainy season, which would be winter. nor: Grk. mēde, conj., negative particle used in escalation of negation; not, nor.

on a Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton, a transliteration of Heb. shabbath (DNTT 3:405), which is derived from the verb shabath ("cease, desist, rest" BDB 991). Sabbaton occurs 68 times in the Besekh, generally of the seventh day of the week (e.g. Matt 12:5; Mark 2:27; Luke 4:16; John 19:31). Sometimes the noun denotes another day considered a Sabbath, such as a festival day (e.g., Matt 12:2; 24:20; Luke 14:5; Col 2:16). There were twenty other days on the calendar treated as sabbaths regardless of the day of the week they occurred (Lev 23), because laborious work was prohibited on those days. For a list of these sabbaths see my web article God's Appointed Times. For the biblical background and Torah instruction for Sabbath observance see my web article Remember the Sabbath.

The lack of the definite article with the noun here would suggest that this sabbath refers to any day of the calendar considered a Sabbath. The official Sabbath limit was set at two thousand cubits (a thousand yards) from the boundary of any city or town, i.e., the last hut at the extremity of the town (Sotah 5:3; Erubin 15a; 21a, fn 10; 42b; 44b; 55a). This rule would not be broken for private travel even in an emergency. Bethpage, as a suburb of Jerusalem, was considered the outer limit for a Sabbath day's journey (Menachoth 11:2; 78b; Pesachim 63b, 91a; f. Acts 1:12).

The Apocrypha recounts how Apollonius, sent by Antiochus Epiphanes, with an army of twenty-two thousand attacked Jerusalem on a Sabbath (1Macc 1:29-39). The Syrian army killed thousands, plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. It was not unusual for Yeshua to tell his disciples how to pray, but this is the most specific instruction he gave on prayer. Notable is that Yeshua does not enjoin prayer that the tribulation described in the next verse won't happen. There is no point praying against fulfillment of divine prophecy. Rather, disciples should pray as Yeshua instructed.

21― "For then will be great tribulation, such as has not happened from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will happen.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:19.

For: Grk. gar, conj. then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 9 above. The fifth use of the adverb marks another transition point in the chronology. will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. great: Grk. megas, adj., large or great in extent and used (1) of any extension in space in all directions; or (2) fig. of measure, whether of age, quantity, intensity, importance or social position (BAG). The adjective in this context denotes both intensity and global impact. tribulation: Grk. thlipsis. See verse 9 above. The great tribulation is a consequence of the abomination of desolation mentioned in verse 15 above.

The mention of a megas thlipsis occurs three more times in the Besekh: (1) in Acts 7:11 to describe the widespread famine experienced in the time of the patriarchs; (2) in Revelation 2:22 where it is a warning of punishment if the Thyatira overseer does not repent of wickedness; and (3) in Revelation 7:14 which mentions the great tribulation as the reason for the presence of the great multitude of martyrs before the throne of God. In context Yeshua explains four aspects of the great tribulation that set it apart from all other periods of tribulation. Ultimately, of course, Satan is responsible for the great tribulation (Rev 12:11, 13, 17). Yeshua goes on to explain the scope of the great tribulation and then in the next verse its length and target.

such as: Grk. hoios, relative pronoun that introduces a qualifying description or explanation; such as, as. has not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 2 above. happened: Grk. ginomai, perf. See verse 6 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, but here as a point of origin; from. the beginning: Grk. archē. See verse 8 above. of the world: Grk. kosmos, usually translated "world," here means the entire cosmic universe including the earth. The phrase "beginning of the world" alludes to Genesis 1:1. In ancient Greek kosmos denoted order. To Greek philosophers the term meant the sum total of everything in existence here and now, the orderly universe (BAG). Pythagoras (570-495 BC) is credited as the first to use the word in this sense (Thayer).

The LXX of the Tanakh uses kosmos some ten times for words meaning ornaments, jewelry or decorations and five times for Heb. tsaba, of the arrangement of the stars, 'the heavenly hosts,' as the ornament of the heavens (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). The meaning of kosmos as the 'orderly universe' is only found in later Greek writings of the LXX (2Macc. 7:23; 8:18; 4Macc. 5:25; Sir. 6:30; 21:21; Wis. 7:17; 9:3; 11:18). The Bible affirms that the heavens and the earth had a beginning in time. Indeed God spoke the universe into existence in a very short amount of time (Gen 1:1-31; Ex 20:11; Ps 33:6, 9; Heb 11:3). God did not use elements already in existence. Thus, the orderly universe did not create itself.

until: Grk. heōs, adv., a marker of limit, here of time. now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' Yeshua essentially echoes the prophecy given to Daniel:

"At that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has never occurred since the beginning of the nation until then. (Dan 12:1 TLV)

Yeshua acknowledges the fact that there had been afflictions of God's chosen people in the past as recorded in the Tanakh and later Jewish literature. Oppression of the Israelites occurred during the time of the judges and then after being conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Tribulation also occurred in the time of the spread of Hellenism by the successors of Alexander the Great, and then being conquered by the Romans. The disciples could have said, "So what else is new. Our people have always been made to suffer." The exception is that now followers of Yeshua will be specifically targeted.

nor: Grk. oude, conj., a negative marker that links a negative statement as complement to a preceding negative. ever: Grk. ou mē, lit. "not, not." The double negative strengthens the negation of Yeshua's declaration. will happen: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. Yeshua had already warned his disciples to expect persecution in the future. Moreover, persecution and affliction would keep on happening until the end of the age. Followers of Yeshua have suffered and died for their faith because of hostility and opposition in every century.

22― "And if those days had not been shortened, not any life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:20.

And: Grk. kai, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used to introduce a circumstance or assumption considered factual or valid for the sake of argument. those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 19 above. days: pl. of Grk. ho hēmera. See verse 19 above. i.e., the days of the great tribulation. had not: Grk. , adv. See verse 4 above. been shortened: Grk. koloboō, aor. pass., 3p-pl., to curtail in the sense of a reduction in number. Yeshua declares a divine intention to limit the length of tribulation, because of the potential of catastrophic consequences.

not: Grk. ou, adv. any: Grk. pas, adj. life: Grk. sarx, lit. "flesh," has a variety of literal and figurative uses in Scripture. In the LXX sarx stands for Heb. basar (SH-1320), with much the same applications as sarx (DNTT 1:672). The Hebrew word basar, is used to refer to all living beings on earth (Gen 6:17, 19; 7:21; 9:11), animals (Gen 7:15-16; 8:17) or mankind in distinction from animals (Gen 6:12, 18; Num 16:22). The use of sarx here intends human life.

would have been saved: Grk. sōzō, aor. pass. See verse 12 above. The narratives of Revelation 6:9-11, 7:9-17, 15:2-4 and 20:4 depict the horror of the war against Yeshua's followers. Millions will suffer betrayal, economic privation, hunger, thirst, imprisonment, homelessness, grief and death. Without a divine limitation the great tribulation would destroy the world's population even as the global deluge in Noah's time.

but: Grk. de, conj. for the sake of: Grk. dia, prep. the elect: Grk. eklektos, adj. (from eklegō, to pick out for oneself, choose or select), to be favored with select status; chosen, elect. See the Additional Note below. In the LXX eklektos primarily renders two words: Heb. mibchar (SH-4005), choice or best (Gen 23:6) and especially Heb. bachir (SH-972), chosen (2Sam 21:6). The noun bachir indicates that the purpose of the choice is some commission or service, and can only meaningfully retain its validity in its fulfillment (DNTT 1:538). The concept of election began with the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and extended to their blood descendants, the nation of Israel (Deut 4:37; 10:15).

The noun eklektos appears 22 times in the Besekh, mostly with the focus on an object of choice by God. About half of the occurrences of the noun are in the apostolic narratives, particularly in the Olivet Discourse. In Yeshua's eschatological teaching the elect endure the great tribulation (here; Mark 13:20), contend with false messiahs and false prophets (verse 24 below; Mark 13:22) and are gathered by the angels from heaven and earth (verse 31 below; Mark 13:27). The elect are also those who petition God for justice and receive it (Luke 18:7).

those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos. days: pl. of Grk. ho hēmera. will be shortened: Grk. koloboō, fut. pass. Fortunately, by divine decree the great tribulation has a set time limit. If the period were to be allowed to go longer then Satan would destroy all life on the earth. According to Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 the length of the great distress or tribulation, is "a time, times and half a time," presumptively three and a half years since Daniel 12:11 says there will be 1,290 days from the time the abomination of desolation is established until the end. Yeshua says here that the time of the great tribulation would be cut short for the sake of the chosen ones. The great tribulation concludes before the coming of Yeshua in the clouds (verse 29 below).

Additional Note: Identity of the Tribulation Elect

Interpretation of the identity of the elect in this context largely depends on one's view of eschatology. Those who adopt the Dispensationalist or pretribulation viewpoint assume that the word "elect" must refer to Israel or Jews since the Christians have been Raptured before the tribulation. In one respect the interpretation is positive because the term "elect" or "chosen" certainly refers to Israel in Scripture. The Jews are God’s chosen people (Deut 7:6). However, the pretribulation viewpoint lacks convincing evidence. See my article The Rapture.

According to Daniel and Revelation the beast will wage a fierce war against God's people, wearing them down and shattering the power of the holy people (Dan 7:25; 12:7; Rev 11:7; 12:17; 13:7). He will succeed as no previous tyrant in silencing the voice of God’s people. While Yeshua's words do have a particular application to Jews, the global nature of the events described in this discourse and the reality of Revelation 7:9 cannot be ignored. John said that he saw "a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne" and the angelic explanation that all of these peoples came out of the great tribulation (Rev 7:14).

There is absolutely no biblical evidence that God has changed the rules to exempt any of Yeshua's followers, especially Christians, from suffering in the last days, including at the hands of the anti-messiah. Nowhere does Scripture say that the great tribulation will only be directed at Jews. Question to ponder. Why should God do something for the Church at the end of the age that He has never done before? The Rapture may be a purely academic dispute if virtually all the Church is martyred in the great tribulation. The only ones seen being protected during this time are the 144,000 Israelites (Rev 7:3) and the woman (Rev 12:6). (See my commentary on Revelation 7.) The idea that God would ensure that Christians get to party in heaven while Jews are going through hell on earth is totally repugnant.

What does Scripture say about the "elect?" The meaning of "chosen" is relative to the context. Yes, Israel is the chosen people, but individuals were also chosen within Israel, such as the priests and the kings, and outside Israel, such as King Cyrus (Isa 45:1), whom God called Mashiach ("anointed one"). Most significant is that the first time the concept occurs is in reference to Abraham (Gen 18:19). The blessing of Abraham extends to all nations (Gen 12:3; Gal 3:14) and all those of the nations who believe in the God of Israel and His Messiah are the sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7), sons of Jacob (Eph 2:12) and therefore among the chosen (Col 3:12).

In this context the great tribulation is cut short for the sake of those chosen to experience it. As used here "elect" has an historical focus, not an ethnic focus. The length of the great tribulation would make no difference to the elect if they were "raptured" before it even started. In verse 24 (also Mark 13:22), the elect are the objects of deception by false Messiahs and false prophets and in verse 31 the elect will be gathered from the four winds by His angels and a great trumpet. Mark 13:27 further clarifies the gathering as being from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. Yeshua's coming will be a grand reunion of the elect; therefore, the gathering of the elect must be equated with the resurrection.

In apostolic letters the word "elect" includes Gentile believers. The apostle Paul established the important theological truth that the designation of "elect" was not the exclusive property of ethnic Jews, because "they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel" (Rom 9:6). The elect are all whom the Father has called to salvation and who have responded in trusting faithfulness (Rom 9:24-25; 10:11). Thus, Gentiles who had not previously enjoyed the "chosen" status could now attain it by virtue of being grafted into the Jewish root (Rom 11:17). In addition, the apostles used the term "elect" as a standard greeting in letters to the congregations, all of which were mixed congregations of Jews and Gentiles (Rom 8:33; Col 3:12; 2Tim 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1Pet 1:1; 2:9; 2Jn 1:1).

The word "elect" emphasizes that the total Body of Messiah is a corporate unit selected by God to share in an everlasting covenant. The use of the word "elect" in the context of great tribulation passages serves to depict how special are God's people who will be called upon to endure the war of the beast against them.

23― "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Messiah,' or 'Here,' do not believe him.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:21.

then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 9 above. The sixth use of the adverb marks another transition point. if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 4 above. says: Grk. legō, aor. subj. See verse 2 above. to you, Behold: Grk. idou, demonstrative interjection (the aor. mid. imp. of eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek particle, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009) in divine monologues or narratives (e.g., Gen 1:29), serves particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG).

here is: Grk. hōde, adv. of place, here or in this place. the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos, Messiah. See verse 5 above. Yeshua echoes the Torah instruction warning about spiritual seduction:

6 "If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. (Deut 13:6-8 ESV)

or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote an alternative. Here: Grk. hōde, adv. The repetition of the adverb indicates a second false prediction after the failure of the previous prediction. do not: Grk. , adv. See verse 4 above. The use of the negative particle implies employment of intellectual and spiritual analysis to reach the right conclusion. believe it: Grk. pisteuō (from pistis, trust, faithfulness), aor. subj., 2p-pl., to have confidence in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the Besekh the verb often has the sense of a personal trust in God's power and His nearness to help. In the LXX pisteuō renders Heb. aman (SH-539), to be reliable, to stand firm, trust, believe, be faithful, first used in Genesis 15:6 where it describes Abraham's response to God.

The great majority of versions translate the verb as "believe it" as the response to the false message. A few versions translate the verb as "believe him" (CJB, DRA, LEB, NASB, NET) since the verse begins with "if anyone." Yeshua forbids his disciples giving any credence to anyone claiming personal knowledge of someone else being the Messiah. Don't trust in such a claim and don't act on such a claim, because to do so will bring utter ruin.

24― For there will arise false Messiahs and false prophets and they will produce great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:22.

For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 5 above. there will arise: Grk. egeirō, fut. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 7 above. false Messiahs: pl. of Grk. pseudocristos is one who makes false claims to being Israel's Anointed One, a bogus Messiah. Christian writers have nominated many different world leaders for the role of Antichrist, but Yeshua pointed out that some men will identify themselves as a messianic figure or specifically as the Messiah expected by Israel. See the note on verse 5 above. Many Jewish imposters have indeed claimed the title or been heralded by Jewish groups as the Messiah.

There have been more than fifty messianic pretenders in the last 2000 years of Jewish history (Stern 5). None of them met the criteria laid down in Scripture concerning the identity of the Messiah, whereas Yeshua fulfilled them all. False messiahs as consummate politicians hold out the promise of peace and safety (cf. 1Th 5:3) and yet never fulfill expectations. False messiahs typically deny God's expectations in Torah and live as if they're accountable to no one. Eventually, though, their lives come to nothing and pass from the contemporary scene only to face God for their arrogance and presumption.

and: Grk. kai, conj. false prophets: pl. of Grk. pseudoprophētēs (from pseudēs, 'false' and prophētēs, 'prophet') is one who falsely claims to have divine credentials for service as a prophet, with or without the implication of offering incorrect information. In order to understand what makes a prophet false, we must consider the ministry of prophets in Scripture. Biblical prophecy primarily meant to declare a message from God ("forth-telling") and sometimes to offer predictions of the future ("foretelling"). The Hebrew prophets warned of the sins that lead to judgment, announced in advance various disasters and consequences for specific sins, taught the people about how to avoid judgment and turn back to God, and gave hope for the future when Israel and Judah would be restored and revived.

False prophesying has two elements identified in Scripture, although they do not always occur together. First, the forth-telling of false prophets may counsel abandonment of the God of Israel, in particular, or more generally to disobey God's commandments (Deut 13:1-3) or may introduce false (heretical) teachings (2Pet 2:1). They often engage in reprehensible conduct themselves, such as immorality or divination (Jer 23:14; Acts 8:9-24; 13:6-12). In relation to false messiahs and the final antichrist false prophets play the role of giving credibility to the messianic figure, much as Rabbi Akiva did for Simon bar Kokhba in the early 2nd century A.D.

Second, the foretelling of false prophets may announce predictions that do not come to pass (Deut 18:22; Jer 23:25) or deny predictions that biblical prophets have made (Jer 20:6; 2Chr 18:5; John 7:40-43). False prophets sometimes make their pronouncements based on dreams or visions or the bold declaration that "God told me" (cf. Jer 14:14; 23:32; Lam 2:14; Ezek 13:7, 9, 23; 13:7-9; 21:29; 22:28; 27:15; Zech 10:2; Col 2:18). The second element should be a strong clue to cease giving a prophet credibility when the prediction doesn't come true.

Yeshua warned his disciples of false prophets (Matt 7:15-16; 24:11) and the apostles reiterated the threat (cf. 2Pet 2:1). Paul similarly declared, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2Tim 4:3-4). Paul advised the Corinthian disciples to "pass judgment" on anyone who prophesies (1Cor 14:29). John instructed disciples to "test the spirits" (1Jn 4:1), i.e., evaluate carefully anyone who claims to speak for God. Merely, asserting that one's message is from God does not automatically provide credibility. The message must accord with Scripture to be accepted as divinely inspired.

and: Grk. kai. they will produce: Grk. didōmi, fut., 3p-pl., to give, with various literal and figurative senses: (1) to give something to some one, whether a person or God; (2) to cause, or produce, give forth from oneself; (3) to grant or permit something; (4) to commit a thing to one, deliver it into one's power, to set before (Thayer). The second sense fits here. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, SH-5414, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). The force of the verb here is to cause or produce.

great: Grk. megas, adj. See verse 21 above. The adjective indicates something impressive and out of the ordinary. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion, an indirect way, as by a circumstance or deed, of indicating or verifying something at hand or in the future. The noun usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the apostolic narratives sēmeion is normally used in reference to miracles to attest the authority of Yeshua and validate His divinity (Matt 12:38; 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; 23:8; John 2:11, 18).

In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). Various signs were promised by prophets as pledges of certain predicted events or as pledges of divine presence and intervention in the affairs of men (BDB 16). Most of the "signs" in the Tanakh are miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Num 17:25; Deut 4:34; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8; Josh 4:6).

and: Grk. kai. wonders: pl. of Grk. teras, a phenomenon with an astounding effect, and in the Besekh always with "signs" (cf. Isa 8:18). In Greek sources teras denotes terrible appearances which elicit fright and horror and which contradict the orderly unity of nature (DNTT 2:633). In the LXX teras chiefly renders mopheth ("wonder, sign or portent," BDB 68). The Hebrew and Greek words feature in contexts of supra-terrestrial occurrences and divine intervention. Since "signs" and "wonders" appear together they may be considered two sides of the same coin. In other words, "sign" is the event and "wonder" is the impact on those who witness the sign.

The Torah acknowledges that a false prophets can perform "signs and wonders" (Deut 13:1-2). Bible history records miracles by those opposed to God, beginning with the magicians of Egypt (Ex 7:11, 22). In Revelation the false prophet causes fire to come out of the sky and makes an image of the beast come alive and speak (Rev 13:13-15). Exorcising demons can be performed by those who are not faithful disciples of Yeshua (Matt 12:27), as he said,

"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you'" (Matt 7:22-23)

Performing "signs and wonders" is no guarantee of truly speaking for God. Unfortunately, too many modern believers follow after popular preachers because of miracle-working claims and fail to examine both their theology and their lifestyle. so as: Grk. hōste, conj. used here to introduce a dependent clause of an actual result. to deceive: Grk. planaō, aor. inf. See verse 4 above. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 22 above. possible: Grk. dunatos, having power or competence ("competent, able") or capable of being realized ("possible, realizable").

even: Grk. kai. the elect: Grk. ho eklektos. See verse 22 above. Satan will be extremely successful in deceiving the world (2Th 2:9-10), but he will not succeed with the elect, although the potential exists. Disciples are human beings and they could initially be mislead by false signs and wonders. Yet, the Spirit will give insight to the elect to protect them from the schemes of Satan. In the end the elect are synonymous with the overcomers in Revelation who do not abandon their Savior and Messiah in the face of temptations and trials.

25― "Behold, I have foretold it to you.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:23.

Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See verse 23 above. I have foretold it: Grk. prolegō, perf., to tell beforehand or in advance. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; i.e., his disciples hearing this discourse. The instruction must be qualified by what Yeshua said before his ascension, "It is not of yours to know times or seasons which the Father has appointed by His own authority" (Act 1:7 BR). The disciples were informed about all the things they needed to know, but Yeshua never intended to provide a detailed timetable of the future. Many commentators practice "media exegesis," by which they try to fit contemporary events into biblical prophecy, but so many assessments and predictions are pure speculation with little value for discipleship.

26― "Therefore if they should say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.

Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 15 above. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 23 above. they should say: Grk. legō, aor. subj., 3p-pl. See verse 2 above. The subjunctive mood represents a hypothetical situation. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See verse 23 above. He is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the wilderness: Grk. erēmos, unpopulated region, desert or lonely place. do not: Grk. , adv. go out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. subj., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out.

or, Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. in: Grk. en. the inner rooms: pl. of Grk. tameion, an area in a house of a rather private nature; storeroom, inner room. do not: Grk. . believe it: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj. See verse 23 above. Yeshua actually warned his disciples against believing he would return secretly, as if he would sneak back and hide.

27― For just as the lightning comes forth from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Parallel Passage: Luke 17:24.

For: Grk. gar, conj. just as: Grk. hōsper, adv. the lightning: Grk. ho astrapē, a stream of light or lightning. comes forth: Grk. exerchomai, pres. mid. See the previous verse. from: Grk. apo, prep. the east: Grk. anatolē (from anatellō, "to cause to rise"), may mean (1) rising, an astronomical term used of a heavenly body rising above the horizon; or (2) the east as a direction of the sun's rising, i.e., the dawn. In the LXX anatolē translates Heb. qedem (SH-6924), first in Genesis 2:8, which may be used as a noun to mean (1) a location, primarily east as a direction from a specific point; (2) a temporal reference, aforetime, ancient time; or an adverb to mean eastward or toward the east (BDB 869f). Here the direction is viewed as east of Jerusalem. The term is not used in the sense of the Orient.

and: Grk. kai, conj. shines: Grk. phainō, to function in a manner that makes observation possible, with the focus on provision for a lighted condition, thus to shine, to appear or to flash. as far as: Grk. heōs, prep. the west: Grk. dusmē, the direction of the setting of the sun, the west. Yeshua is not saying that lightning only flashes horizontally from east to west. Lightning can flash in any direction. However, in ancient times lightning from the east was usually seen as a good omen. This is reasonable because it is probably the end of a storm. Lightning from the west was ominous, but also meant a storm was probably approaching.

so: Grk. houtōs, adv. will be: Grk eimi, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. the coming: Grk. parousia. See verse 3 above. With this word picture Yeshua gives important information related to the timing, speed and visibility of his coming. The storm would be the great tribulation, the speed would be comparable to the "blink of an eye" (1Cor 15:52) and his coming will be easily seen by anyone on the ground. Son: Grk. ho huios may refer to (1) a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry; or (2) one who is closely associated in terms of relationship or condition apart from physical lineage.

In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity. (2) a distant ancestor; or (3) having the characteristics of. All these meanings have application to Yeshua. of Man: Grk. ho anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam (SH-444), used for a human male or generically for humans as a contrast to animals; (2) ish (SH-376), an adult male or husband and (3) enosh (SH-582), a man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (DNTT 2:564).

The title "Son of Man" is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. Christian interpreters typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his humanity, whereas "Son of God" pertains to his deity. In first century Jewish culture these expressions meant just the opposite. "Son of God" is a Messianic title that refers to the Davidic king who reigns as God's regent on earth (Ps 80:15-2; cf. Ps 2:7, 12; 110:1; John 1:49). The title "Son of Man" alludes to the supra-natural figure from heaven prophesied by Daniel.

"I kept watching the night visions, when I saw, coming with the clouds of heaven, someone like a son of man. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. 14 To him was given rulership, glory and a kingdom, so that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him. His rulership is an eternal rulership that will not pass away; and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. … 27 Then the kingdom, the rulership and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. Their kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey them.'" (Dan 7:13-14, 27 CJB)

Yeshua affirmed his identity as the Son of Man prophesied by Daniel. Moreover, the Son of Man will come in his glory with his angels (Matt 13:41; 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; John 1:51). The point of the saying in this verse is that Yeshua knew that men would propagate a false doctrine of a secret return.

28― "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

Wherever: Grk. hopou ean, "where if." the corpse: Grk. ptōma, that which has fallen, a carcass or corpse. is: Grk. eimi, pres. subj. See verse 3 above. The subjunctive mood would render the verb as "might be." there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. the vultures: pl. of Grk. aetos, a large bird of the family Accipitridae. The term refers to a bird of prey, an eagle or vulture. Some versions have "eagles" (ASV, DRA, KJV, NKJV, RSV). Some commentators interpret the term to refer to Roman military standards, and thus a jeopardy to the first century apostles. However, the chronology of the narrative argues against such an interpretation.

will gather: Grk. sunagō, fut. pass., to bring together in a collective manner; gather. Yeshua may have been quoting a folk proverb. Birds preying on carrion may refer to persons used by demonic spirits to carry out evil purposes; they gather around false messiahs and draw people away from the truth. There is a possibility that the saying is a cryptic allusion to the revelation later given to John of the vultures feeding on the beast's army who are slain when Yeshua returns (Rev 19:17-21). See my commentary on Revelation 19. The final false messiah will be judged by the true Messiah.

Last Days: Final Birth Pains, 24:29-31

29― "Then immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Parallel Passage: Mark 13:24-25; Luke 21:25-26.

Then: Grk. de, conj. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv., 'immediately, forthwith, right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that shifts the scene. after: Grk. meta, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of association or accompaniment; 'amid,' among,' 'with,' or 'in company with'; or (2) a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The second usage applies here. This verse and the next indicate important events in a particular chronological sequence. the tribulation: Grk. thlipsis. See verse 9 and 21 above. Yeshua then conflates the message of Isaiah 13:10, Ezekiel 32:7, Joel 2:10, Amos 5:20 and Zephaniah 1:15.

of those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 19 above. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 19 above. The expression "those days" occurs three times in verses 19 and 22 above and refers to the time initiated by the abomination of desolation and completion of the great tribulation. Yeshua then offers a prophecy drawn from the Hebrew prophets (Isa 13:10; Ezek 32:7; Joel 2:10). the sun: Grk. ho hēlios (Heb. shemesh), the sun, the star that is the central body of the solar system, created on the fourth day to "govern the day" (Gen 1:16-19). Its mean distance from the earth is about 93 million miles, its diameter about 864,000 miles, and its mass about 330,000 times that of the earth.

The surface temperature of the sun is in excess of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and its distance from the earth assures the right balance of heat, light and photosynthesis to sustain all of earth's physical and biological processes. In both the solar system and on the earth "there is nothing hidden from its heat" (Ps 19:6). The sun moves in an orbit through the Milky Way Galaxy (Ps 19:5-6), at a speed that scientists estimate to be 600,000 mph (BBMS 165).

will be darkened: Grk. skotizō, fut. pass. (from skotos, 'absence of light') to undergo darkness as a natural phenomenon. The verb refers to an eclipse, not the extinction of the thermo nuclear furnace of the sun. The Talmud has a saying, "Our Rabbis taught, 'When the sun is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for the whole world.'" (Sukkah 29a; cited by Gruber). and: Grk. kai, conj. the moon: Grk. ho selēnē (Heb. yareach), the earth's natural satellite, orbiting the earth at a mean distance of 238,857 miles and having a diameter of 2160 miles. Like the sun the moon was created on the fourth day to "govern the night" (Gen 1:16).

As a result of the space program and lunar landings, the moon is now known to be completely void of life (just as the Bible indicated all along) but to be composed of similar rocks and minerals to those of earth. At the same time, the structure of the moon, as well as the proportions of the different rocks and minerals, is so vastly different from the corresponding attributes of Earth as to make it certain that the two could not have had a common evolutionary origin (BBMS 164).

will not: Grk. ou, adv. give: Grk. didōmi, fut. See verse 24 above. its: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. light: Grk. pheggos, brightness projected by a light-giving object, light or radiance. The moon, of course, does not generate light as the sun, but governs the night by reflecting the light from the sun. The sun and moon were given to mankind not only as a means to sustain life and aids to navigation, but to function as "signs" (Heb. mo'adim), portents with religious significance (Gen 1:16-18). The sun and moon determined the climatic "seasons," but mo'adim is used in the Torah to refer to sacred seasons or festivals, especially in Leviticus 23 (BDB 417).

The constancy of the sun and moon are reminders of God's covenantal faithfulness as the Psalmist says, "35 Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. 36 His descendants shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful" (Ps 89:35-37). The prophecy reports a condition as seen from the surface of earth, or more precisely from Israel. Yeshua's prophecy does not mean that the light of the two heavenly bodies is extinguished, only that it can't be seen from earth.

The prophecy of Revelation 6:12 add important information about this event. John saw that the sun looked black as sackcloth, which was a rough cloth made from the hair of a black goat and worn in times of mourning. Both Joel and John saw that the moon looked like blood. While blood is bright red on the inside of a body, it begins to darken when exposed to outside air. During a total eclipse of the moon, the lunar disk is not completely dark, but is faintly illuminated with a red light refracted by the earth’s atmosphere, which filters out the blue rays. A lunar eclipse may even result in a range of colors from dark brown and red to bright orange and yellow. If the earth had no atmosphere, then the moon would be completely black during a total eclipse.

The darkening of the sun and moon is the particular sign of the immanence of the Second Coming, which will trigger the human response described in the next verse. Yeshua then describes another event that precedes his coming, which could allude either to Isaiah 34:4 or Daniel 8:10. and: Grk. kai. the stars: pl. of Grk. ho astēr, generally of a luminous heavenly body other than the sun, but in Greek literature had a broad usage including an individual planet such as Venus (Rev 2:28; 22:16), the chief star in a constellation (cf. LXX Gen 37:9; Jdg 5:20; Isa 13:10), a moving body such as a comet, meteor or asteroid (Jude 1:13; Rev 8:10); and a flame, light or fire (LSJ).

In the LXX astēr renders the Heb. kokav (SH-3556), star or heavenly body, first occurring in the creation narrative (Gen 1:16). The noun kokav also conveys "light" and "brightness" (BDB 456), since the command to create the stars was "let there be lights (Heb. maor) in the firmament of the heavens" (Gen 1:14). The command to create the lights in the heavens stated their first purpose was to serve as "signs." Some Bible interpreters suggest the purpose of the "signs" was to convey God's sovereign purpose of redemption of mankind. In modern times Evangelical Christians have theorized the details of this heavenly message, referred to as the "Gospel in the Stars." See my commentary on Romans 10:18 for a detailed explanation.

will fall: Grk. piptō, fut. mid., to drop from a relatively high position to one that is lower, to fall or to collapse, and by extension to experience disaster. In the LXX piptō mainly translates forms of Heb. naphal (SH-5307), which is almost exactly equivalent in meaning, first in Genesis 17:3 (DNTT 1:608). However, in the LXX of Isaiah 34:4 piptō translates Heb. nabel (SH-5034), sink or drop down, languish, wither and fall, or fade. In Daniel 8:10 piptō translates naphal. from: Grk. apo, prep. The preposition denotes being separated from a formerly fixed position. heaven: Grk. ouranos, the area above the earth, heaven. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. word hashamayim ("the heavens") (DNTT 2:191).

The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4): the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God. Many versions translate the singular ouranos here with "sky," which in common English refers to the region of the clouds or the upper atmosphere of the earth. Stars do not exist in earth's atmosphere. The falling to the earth would imply impact of objects from beyond the atmosphere with the earth as suggested by Revelation 6:13. However, The description "stars will fall" cannot be taken literalistically since multiple "stars" (as defined by modern astronomy) falling into the earth would destroy it.

Scripture promises that the earth will be destroyed, but not from stars crashing into it. It is possible that since in Scripture any object in interstellar space can be identified as a "star," the stars falling could refer to a meteor shower. Even so the prophecy of Isaiah 34:4 depicts an event more significant than a meteor shower. The host of heaven are described as fading or falling as dried leaves of a grape vine or fig tree. The agricultural analogy is not meant to describe a trajectory of movement, but a loss of vitality. The falling of the leaves depicts disaster for those plants. Similarly, there will be a catastrophic disaster in the heavens. Big stars can experience gravitational collapse and when they do it produces a supernova, a massive explosion. Scripture speaks of stars losing their light (Isa 13:10; Ezek 32:7-8, Joel 2:10; 3:15).

The quotation could also be taken from Daniel 8:10, which speaks of a small horn, "It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down." In Scripture the term "star" is used fig. of angelic beings (Jdg 5:20; Job 38:7; Isa 14:13; Jude 1:13; Rev 9:1; 12:4). Thus, the announcement of the stars falling is connected to the following clause. and: Grk. kai. the powers: pl. of Grk. dunamis, having ability to perform something, whether it be physical, spiritual, military or political (DNTT 2:601). In the LXX dunamis was used to translate Hebrew words that referred to military forces or the power of a ruler (DNTT 2:602). The word functions here as a personification of powerful evil entities.

of the heavens: pl. of Grk. ouranos. The plural form could include all three locations, but certainly the atmosphere, since Satan is known as the "prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2) and his evil organization operates in the near heavenly realms (Eph 6:12). will be shaken: Grk. saleuō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., cause to waver or totter, shake. The phrase forms a poetic parallelism with the previous phrase and clarifies the meaning of the prophecy. The phrase could refer to a physical catastrophe in outer space. Scripture indicates that the heavens can be worn out (Ps 102:26), torn (Isa 64:1), shaken (Hag 2:6; Isa 13:13; Heb 12:26), burnt up (2Pet 3:12), and rolled up (Isa 34:4; Heb 1:12).

More likely is that the phrase refers to Michael's war against Satan's kingdom and thus connected to the "stars falling." The world lies in the power of evil one (1Jn 5:19), and "powers of the heavens" is a metaphor for Satanic forces (cf. Rom 8:38; Eph 6:12; Col 2:15; 1Pet 3:22). It will take a mighty divine confrontation to shake his evil empire out of existence. The prophecy of Michael's war has relevance here because he is the protector of Israel (Dan 12:1; Rev 12:7-9). Yeshua saw Satan fall from heaven (Luke 10:18) and John saw Michael the archangel defeat Satan and throw him and his angels to earth (Rev 12:7-9).

30― "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

Yeshua proceeds add to the previous prophecies by conflating prophecies in Zechariah 12:10 and Daniel 7:13. Yeshua summarizes three specific events for God's people to anticipate without inserting any reference to the length of time between the events. And then the sign: Grk. sēmeion. See verse 3 above. The apostles had asked Yeshua to describe the "sign" of his coming into royal power. Before doing that he warned them that false messiahs would produce great signs (verse 24), but only God can produce the sign that God's people are anticipating.

of the Son of Man: See verse 27 above. This prophecy of the "sign of the Son of Man" has been understood by most interpreters as a reference to the Second Coming of Yeshua in the clouds as described in the second half of the verse. However, the "sign" cannot be synonymous with the "Son," because the clause would then be a redundancy. Seeing the first event facilitates the middle part of this verse's prophecy and then the last part will happen.

will appear: Grk. phainō, fut. pass., to function in a manner that makes observation possible, with the focus on provision for a lighted condition, thus to shine, to appear or to flash. in the sky: Grk. ouranos. See verse 29 above. The translation of "sky" is misleading, since ouranos is not limited to the atmosphere of the earth, but would extend into interstellar space. The portent prophesied by Joel is a simultaneous solar and lunar eclipse, which is impossible by definition. However, all things are possible with God, and the impossible should be expected in conjunction with the Second Coming. This sign might well be preceded by various planetary conjunctions. Several astronomical signs of this nature occurred prior to the first coming of Yeshua. (See Summary of Conjunctions of Planets Near Time of Christ's Birth.)

Especially relevant to the next event in the end-times chronology is the appearance of Elijah (Mal 4:5). While not specifically mentioned in the Olivet Discourse Yeshua confirmed on another occasion that Elijah must precede the glorious Second Coming (Matt 17:11). Elijah is no doubt one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:3-6, 11-14. Every so often someone appears in Israel claiming to be Elijah, but they can't produce the miracles of Elijah or the two witnesses in Revelation (Stern). When the real Elijah appears Israel will know that the Messiah is not far behind. The seal of Elijah's ministry will be his resurrection and ascension into the sky on a cloud (Rev 11:12), followed by a great earthquake.

all the tribes: Grk. phulē has two basic meanings: (1) a tribe of Israel and (2) a nation or people. In the apostolic writings phulē occurs 8 times in the singular, 23 times in the plural, and is often used to denote one or all the twelve tribes of Israel. In the LXX phulē occurs over 400 times and translates three different Hebrew words, meaning tribe, clan or nation. Basically phulē is a body of people united by blood kinship or habitation. While the Hebrew terms apply predominately to the tribes of Israel, phulē can also apply to the nations of the world, as in the blessing of Abraham (Gen 12:3). (DNTT 3:870-871). The word translated "tribes" occurs frequently in the Tanakh and the apostolic writings, normally indicating the tribes of Israel. In only a small number of instances does the term apply to non-Israelites (Rev 7:9; 11:9; cf. Gen 12:3; 25:16; Isa 19:13; Ezek 20:32).

of the earth: Grk. can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The LXX uses more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates the earth in a cosmological sense, but often occurs in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (TWOT 1:74). The complete phrase "tribes of the earth" has been interpreted three ways: (1) a symbolic reference to unsaved humanity; (2) a reference to the tribes of Israel; and (3) a symbolic reference to spiritual Israel consisting of believing Jews and Gentiles. However, the CJB, Darby, ISV, LITV, Mace (1729), Marshall, MW and TLV translate "earth" as "land" expressing the common usage of the term in the Tanakh to designate the Land of Israel. The phrase "all the tribes of the land" alludes to the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10 and can only refer to those Jews alive in the land of Israel at the Second Coming of their Messiah.

will mourn: Grk. koptō, fut. mid., means to beat one’s chest as an act of mourning. Koptō may be contrasted with lupē that refers to the grief, sorrow or pain of mind or spirit (2Cor 7:10). The Heb. word for mourning is sapad or to make lamentation. Hebrew mourning was always demonstrative and might include cutting oneself, shaving off one’s hair, eating mourning bread, calling in mourning women (Jer 9:16-21), putting on sackcloth (Isa 15:2f), removing one’s beard (Isa 7:20), beating one’s breast (Nah 2:7), but most prominent was wailing (Isa 15:2; Mark 5:38) (DNTT 2:417f). Stern comments that in Hebrew to mourn generally includes both grief over the death itself and sorrow at what one failed to do in relation to the deceased (789).

The prophecy alludes to Zechariah 12:10, and many commentators assume the mourning refers to remorse at having rejected Yeshua as Messiah and Savior and anticipation of divine judgment. There are several reasons why this interpretation does not fit the context:

(a) The verb here for mourning refers to the normal grief felt at the loss of a loved one (cf. Matt 11:17; Luke 23:27). The mourning that may include regret or repentance is the verb pentheō or the noun penthos, not koptō (cf. Matt 5:4; Mark 16:10; Luke 6:25; 2Cor 12:21; Jas 4:9; Rev 18:7f, 15, 19, 21:4).

(b) The context of Zechariah 12:10 from which this prophecy comes is actually judgment on the Gentile nations opposing Israel and deliverance by the Messiah of his beloved people;

(c) The mourning in Zechariah follows the "Spirit of grace and of supplication" received from the Messiah;

(d) The focus of the mourning is Yeshua Himself, not what he does negatively to wicked people.

Therefore, the mourning of this prophecy is not anguish over impending judgment but the anticipation of the day when the Jewish people will open their hearts to their Messiah. Then the Messiah will provide consolation (Isa 66:13). In his comment on Matthew 23:37-39 Stern clarifies that the national confession of Israel must take place before the Lord will return (71). The national confession must precede the appearance of Yeshua based on his explicit words, "Behold your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until [emphasis mine] the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'" (Luke 13:35; cf. Luke 16:30-31).

There has already been a great turning of Jews to their Messiah, as prophesied by Hosea, "Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to his goodness in the last days" (Hos 3:5; cf. Rom 11:25-27). The reader should note that Hosea says "in the last days" not "on the last day." Today Messianic Judaism is growing at an unprecedented rate and Hosea’s prophecy will achieve its complete fulfillment in Israel.

In the Zechariah context the mourning that follows receipt of the Spirit of "grace and supplication" (cf. Eph 2:8) and looking to (i.e. believing in) the Messiah for salvation is not a repentant humbling to prevent judgment, but a deep grief of having rejected the Messiah for so long and a manifestation of an existing attitude of repentance (cf. Jer 6:26; Amos 8:10). Moreover, Zechariah clarified the mourning "as one mourns for an only son," which is not a synonym for the initiation of repentance, but as a result of true confession experiencing the grief of the Father who gave his only son and through Yeshua bore our sins. This grief is so profound that Zechariah compares it to the sorrow of Israel over the death of Josiah (Zech 12:11) and depicts each Jewish family as mourning privately (Zech 12:12-14).

and they will see: The third person verb points back to the tribes of the Land as the ones seeing. the Son of Man: The mention of "son of Man" here alludes to the prophecy of Daniel 7:13. coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part. See verse 5 above. The present tense of "coming" emphasizes the active nature of achieving his purpose. Israelites will see Yeshua first, because Jerusalem is his destination. on: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 7 above. The parallel verses in Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:27 use the preposition en, which means inside or in. The repetition of the prophecy in Revelation 1:7 uses the preposition meta, 'with.'

the clouds: pl. of Grk. nephelē, cloud, referring to the atmospheric phenomenon consisting of a suspended collection of water particles. The plural number may be intended to convey overall mass or a quantity of individual clouds. In Scripture the divine presence, particularly in judgment, is often accomplished in a cloud, accompanied by a cloud or represented by clouds (Ex 13:21; 16:10; Job 22:14; Ps 104:3; Isa 19:1; Jer 4:13; Lam 2:1; Ezek 30:3; Nah 1:3; Matt 17:5). Yeshua declares the blessed hope of every disciple, the point toward which all of history is moving. Later Yeshua would depart the earth hidden by a cloud and the apostles will be informed that Yeshua will return in the same manner (Act 1:9-11). The mention of clouds would have significant meaning related to the disciples.

James Neil offers this interesting first-hand report from his experience in Israel:

"I have observed invariably that in the late spring-time, in summer, and yet more especially in the autumn, white clouds are to be seen in Palestine [sic]. They only occur at the earliest hours of morning, just previous to and at the time of sunrise. It is the total absence of clouds at all other parts of the day, except during the short period of the winter rains, that lends such striking solemnity and force to those descriptions of the Second Advent where our Lord is represented as coming in the clouds. This feature loses all its meaning in lands like ours, in which clouds are of such common occurrence that they are rarely absent from the sky." (Neil 44. James Neil, an Anglican minister, lived in Jerusalem from 1871 to 1874.)

of the sky: Grk. ouranos. with power: Grk. dunamis, See the previous verse. The term is used here of divine omnipotence. and great glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor or radiance in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence in the sense of what catches the eye, (3) fame, renown, honor or approval, and (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties. In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabod, which refers to the luminous manifestation of God’s person, his glorious revelation of Himself. Characteristically, kabod is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of a person or God makes on others. In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). In this context "glory" refers to the radiance of his countenance and the accompaniment of myriads of angels.

31― "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

And He will send forth: Grk. apostellō, fut., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translates Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). His angels: pl. of Grk. angelos, means one sent, a messenger, whether human or heavenly (BAG). In the LXX angelos renders Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel (DNTT 1:101f). The decision to translate malak or angelos as "angel" or "messenger" (of a human) relies primarily on the context. About half of the occurrences in the Tanakh refer to humans, such as to denote a prophet (Eccl 5:6; Isa 42:19; Mal 2:7) and a priest (Hag 1:13; Mal 3:1). In the Besekh angelos occurs 175 times, and is used of men only 13 times (Matt 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24, 27; 9:52; Jas 2:25; Rev 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12; 3:1, 7, 14). In this verse angelos refers to a divine messenger.

with a great trumpet: Grk. salpigx, which may refer to the instrument itself, the sound made by blowing into it or the signal given by the instrument. In the LXX salpigx translates six different Hebrew terms, the most common being shofar and chatsotsrah (DNTT 3:873f). The term shofar referred to originally the curved "ram's horn," then more generally "horn" or "wind instrument," and was used for both military and religious purposes. Chatsotsrah was a long straight "trumpet" made of beaten silver and used mainly for religious purposes (Num 10:1-10). The CJB, MW, OJB and TLV translate salpigx with "shofar."

gather together: Grk. episunagō, fut., to gather together. His elect: Grk. eklektos. See verse 22 above. In this verse and Mark 13:27 the elect are gathered from heaven, not just the earth. It makes no sense to say that Yeshua is only going to gather Jews. In addition to these references Yeshua referred to his followers as elect (Matt 22:14; John 13:18; Rev 17:14). from: Grk. ek, prep. the four: Grk. tessares, the cardinal number four. winds: pl. of Grk. anemos, the natural motion of air moving horizontally at any velocity along the earth's surface. The idiomatic expression "four winds" occurs several times in Scripture (Jer 49:36; Ezek 37:9; Dan 7:2; 8:8; Zech 2:6; Rev 7:1), generally assumed to be a reference to the four points of the compass. Rabbis have called these the cardinal winds, i.e., winds directly controlled by God (Sevener 67).

from: Grk. apo, prep. one end: Grk. akron, extremity, applied to vertical or horizontal things, here the extreme limit. of the sky: pl. of Grk. ouranos, lit. "the heavens." to the other: Grk. akron. The narrative depicts a grand reunion of God's people gathered together from heaven and earth (cf. 1Thess 4:15-17).

Parable of the Fig Tree, 24:32-36

32― "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near,

Now learn: Grk. manthanō, aor. imp., acquire knowledge; learn, understand. the parable: Grk. parabolē, something serving through comparison or analogy to encourage a new perspective; parable, proverb, figure, illustration. In the LXX parabolē renders Heb. mashal (SH-4912), first in Num 23:7. The Hebrew word mashal has a broader usage than parabolē. A mashal could be in story form or in proverb form or even a discourse. Many proverbs are similes (DNTT 2:744). The parable was a primary teaching method of Yeshua (Matt 13:3). While the parable is typically thought of as a pithy story there are three one-verse parables in the apostolic narratives (Matt 9:17; 13:44; Mark 4:21).

of the fig tree: Grk. sukē (for Heb. teenah), a tree that produces figs or the fruit of that tree. The fig tree grows plentifully in Israel as a wild and cultivated tree. The fig tree bears bountiful figs, ripening principally in the month of August. The fig tree was one of the blessings promised to Israel in the Land (Deut 8:8) and thus became important to Israelite agriculture. The wood of the fig tree was the primary source of kindling used for the fire on the Temple altar (Tam. 2:1; Yoma 24b). Figs were eaten fresh (2Kgs 18:31), pressed into cakes (2Sam 25:18), and used as a poultice (Isa 38:21).

The fig tree is used in the Tanakh as symbolic of someone's home (cf. 2Kgs 4:25; 2Kgs 18:31; Isa 36:16; Mic 4:4; Zech 3:10), that in Rabbinic writings the shade of a fig tree was used as a place for prayer, meditation and study (Ber. 16a). Of interest is that Yeshua first saw Nathanael under a fig tree (John 1:48). The sages also had a saying, "If one sees a fig tree in a dream, his learning will be preserved within him, as it says: Whoso keeps the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof" (Prov 27:18; Ber. 57a). In addition, "gathering figs" was an expression in later sources that meant "studying," apparently because rabbinic scholars believed the tree of knowledge in Genesis 3 was a fig tree (Ber. 40a) (JANT 160).

Yeshua is telling a parabolic story, but mentioning the fig tree as symbolic of truth. The fig tree in Matthew 21:19-20 (para. Mark 11:12-14, 20-24) represented the corrupt temple leadership, but such meaning cannot be applied here. The fig tree might represent the Jewish people as an extension of "this generation" in verse 30, but there seems to be a different point here. when its branch: Grk. klados, branch in reference to a tree. In the Besekh the word occurs only in the Synoptic Narratives (Matt 13:32; 21:8; 24:32) and in Romans 11. has already become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See verse 6 above. tender: Grk. hapalos, adj., used of growing things that are not hard or tough, such as young shoots of a fig-tree; tender. The term occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Mark 13:28).

and puts forth: Grk. ekphuō, pres. subj., cause to come into being, used of plants putting forth leaves; sprout. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Mark 13:28). its leaves: Grk. phullon, leaf of a tree, and in the Synoptic Narratives only of a fig tree. you know: Grk. ginōskō, pres., to know, but has a variety of meanings, including (1) to be in receipt of information; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value. The second meaning dominates the thought here. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada (SH-3045, 'yaw-dah'), which has a similar wide range of meaning (e.g. Gen 3:5; 4:1, 9), but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether knowing by experience, as well as learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395).

that summer: Grk. theros, from therō ("make hot"), the season of summer. Israel's summers last from May through late October and are mostly dry and hot. Summer conditions vary from region to region with the coastal plain experiencing humid weather, the hill regions experiencing little or no humidity and the Jordan Valley and Negev regions experiencing hot, dry semi-desert conditions. Rainfall is extremely rare during the summer months. is near: Grk. engus, prep., near or close to, whether in a spatial or temporal sense, here the latter.

The common fig in Israel yields two crops annually, the first one, ripe about June, growing from the midsummer sprouts of the previous year. The second crop is ripe about August that grows on the Spring shoots. The leaves that announce the nearness of summer also presage the coming harvest. By December, fig-trees in the mountainous regions of Israel have shed all their leaves, and they remain bare until about the end of March, when they commence putting forth their tender leaf buds. Just as there are two crops of figs so there are two comings of the Messiah.

Yeshua tactfully chides his disciples for knowing what to expect in the fig tree seasons, but failing to comprehend the seasons of God sovereign plan (cf. Acts 1:7). Yeshua had reproved the Pharisees and Sadducees for a similar lack of insight:

"The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He replied to them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' 3 "And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?" (Matt 16:2-3)

33― so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

So: Grk. houtōs, adv., thus, so, in this manner. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; used of disciples of Yeshua. too: Grk. kai, conj. The opening phrase is intended to emphasize a natural conclusion. when: Grk. hotan, conj.n a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' you see: Grk. horaō, aor. subj. See verse 6 above. all these things: This is a reference to the prophesied events in the preceding verses. Some of those things the apostles will experience and others future generations of disciples will experience. recognize: Grk. ginōskō, pres. See the previous verse. that He is near: Grk. engus, adv. See the previous verse.

"Near" could mean that Yeshua is near to his people in all the vicissitudes of life or it could mean that he is near to completing the prophetic calendar. Yeshua is also near to us in the sense that death is always immanent (cf. Php 4:5). He is on the other side of the veil that separates this life from the next. right at the door: pl. of Grk. thura, a device for opening and closing an entranceway, a door, entrance, doorway, or gateway. The noun is plural, but the NASB translates it as singular. The term is used figuratively, as a parallelism for "He is near," but whether "door" refers to death or the beginning of the age to come is difficult to say. There may be a connection between "door" here and Yeshua's promise that the gates of Hades will not overcome God's people (Matt 16:18).

In any event, Yeshua's declaration intends to interpret the parable of the fig tree in the previous verse and makes plain the meaning of the fig tree in this context. The fig tree summer alludes to prophesied events of the present age, all preparatory to the great harvest in the fall. The second harvest of the fig tree might even symbolize a time for the Second Coming in proximity to the fall feasts (Feast of Trumpets to the Feast of Booths, September to October).

34― "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until anyhow all these things take place.

Truly: Grk. amēn. See verse 2 above. I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. this: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, lit. "the same." generation: Grk. genea can mean (1) persons with common interests or kinship; (2) a family line; (3) people linked as contemporaries; (4) a span of time loosely equal to a generation; or (5) an age or span of generations. In the LXX genea translates Heb. dor (SH-1755), period, generation (Gen 6:9); Heb. toledoth (SH-8435), generations, or account of men and their descendants (Gen 25:13); and Heb. moledeth (SH-4138), family (Gen 31:3).

In the context of the Olivet Discourse this generation could be interpreted in one of three ways. First, "this generation" possibly refers to the present generation of the apostles (Matt 11:16; 12:41, 42, 45; 17:17; 23:36; Mark 9:19; Luke 7:31; 9:41; 11:29-32, 50-51; 17:25; 21:32). However, not all the events prophesied in the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled in the lifetime of the apostles. They did witness the resurrection and ascension, which served as portents of the end of the age, and they did endure much tribulation. Destruction also came upon Jerusalem during their generation, although many of the apostles had been martyred by that time.

Second, "this generation" possibly refers to a future generation, the generation that sees the signs. However, this is not without problems, because it would be pointless to say that this future generation would not pass away. Third, Stern suggests that "this generation" refers to the continuation of the Jewish people. In the Tanakh the concept of generation is always of the nation, the Hebrew people. The whole history of Israel is often included in speaking of a generation (cf. Matt 23:34-36). God made an everlasting promise to Israel:

"Thus says ADONAI, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; ADONAI-Tzva'ot is His name: 36 If these ordinances depart from before Me," declares ADONAI, "Then also the seed of Israel shall cease from being a nation before Me forever." 37 Thus says ADONAI, "If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, I also will cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done," declares ADONAI." (Jer 31:35-37 BR)

The promise of Israel's continuance occurs immediately after the promise of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34). will not: Grk. ou mē, lit., "not, not." The double negative represents the strongest negation possible. pass away: Grk. parerchomai, aor. subj., may mean (1) to move spatially from one position to another or (2) to come to an end and so no longer be on the scene, thus to go away, depart or pass away. The second meaning is in view here. until: Grk. heōs, adv., a marker of limit, here of time. anyhow: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. HELPS says the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions. The particle is often not translated.

all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The natural meaning of "all these things" is all the events prophesied in the Olivet Discourse. This clause qualifies the meaning of genea. With the adverb "until" Yeshua affirms that a time will come when this genea will pass away. He obviously did not mean the Jewish people would pass away. God will be faithful to His covenantal promises. Thus, the term "generation" likely has a dual meaning, present and future.

The generation of the apostles, or the apostolic era, would certainly experience many of the prophecies Yeshua proclaimed, including persecutions, tribulations, famines, earthquakes, rumors of wars, false prophets, spiritual warfare and destruction of Jerusalem. The term "generation" also refers to this present age and a future generation, the generation of the Second Coming. In other words, the age to come or the millennial age of the Messiah's reign cannot begin until this present age concludes with all prophesied events fulfilled. Blessed is the generation of the Second Coming that will endure much and receive the crown of glory in the resurrection.

Additional Note on Generation

Dispensational speculation about a biblical generation being 40 years is no better than a guess and not relevant to Yeshua's teaching about the Second Coming. As a population term a generation means the period of time from the birth of parents to the birth of their offspring. To determine the length of a societal generation requires statistical information. Biblical family genealogies focus mainly on the Messianic family tree and indicate extreme variance in the timing of births. For example, Isaac and Rebecca may have been 35-40 when Jacob and Esau were born, but Abraham and Sarah were 98-100 when Isaac was born. Those were miracle births and atypical of normal youthful marriages in ancient times and childbearing at a very young age.

35― "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

Heaven: Grk. ouranos. See verse 29 above. The first and second heavens would be intended here. and earth: Grk. . See verse 30 above. Here the focus is on the entire earth and emphasizes Yeshua's authority over all governments, regardless of political type. will pass away: Grk. parerchomai, fut. mid. See the previous verse. Peter echoed Yeshua's prophecy when he said,

"But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up." (2Pet 3:7, 10)

The prophecy will be fulfilled as recorded by John, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea was not any longer" (Rev 21:1 BR). The actual passing away will occur immediately before the great white throne judgment takes place (Rev 20:11). Scripture indicates that the heavens can be torn (Isa 64:1), worn out (Ps 102:26), shaken (Hag 2:6; Isa 13:13; Heb 12:26), burnt up (2Pet 3:12), and rolled up (Isa 34:4; Heb 1:12). This means that "interstellar space" is not just an empty nothing, but is a real something (Humphreys 67f).

but My: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person; i.e., Yeshua. words: pl. of Grk. logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In Greek philosophical writings logos took on the meaning of a common universal law or truth and that which gives order in the universe. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). Yeshua refers directly to his words, that is, his message spoken to the disciples, primarily that of the prophecies of this chapter. The expression could by extension refer to the words that he as YHVH had given to the Hebrew prophets to convey to Israel (Deut 8:3; 18:18; Isa 1:20; Jer 1:9; Ezek 2:7; Zech 1:6; Luke 24:44).

will not: Grk. ou mē, lit., "not, not." See the previous verse. pass away: Grk. parerchomai, aor. subj. See the previous verse. The verb combined with the negative particle indicates a condition that simply will not happen. Yeshua's words have been authentically preserved by the apostles, in spite of the efforts of modern liberals to diminish their written record. Yeshua promised during the last supper that the Spirit would "bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26 BR). The words of the divine Logos are eternal. All that Yeshua predicted will happen.

36― "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

But: Grk. de, conj. that generally indicates either a slight contrast or a transition in presentation of subject matter. of that: Grk. ekeinos, personal pronoun, that person or that thing. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 19 above. "That day" is used in Scripture of the particular day of the week connected to the religious calendar. The date of Jewish feasts, though scheduled, fell on a different day of the week each year because of the lunar calendar. Since there were no printed calendars in ancient times the average man couldn’t have known what day a feast fell on in the next year until it was announced ahead by the priests.

Significant for this context is "that day" often occurs in the context of catastrophe or God's judgment, specifically the Day of the Lord (Matt 7:22; 2Th 1:9-10; 2Tim 1:18). By combining Daniel’s prophecy of the Son of Man coming on the clouds and Joel's prophecy of the signs announcing the Day of the Lord, then the Second Coming of Yeshua occurs on the Day of the Lord. Often the concept of God coming (in the Tanakh) and Yeshua coming (in the Besekh) is connected to pouring out judgment in present circumstances (e.g., Ps 96:13; 98:9; Isa 19:1; 26:21; Micah 1:3; Matt 16:28; 24:50; Jas 5:8-9; Rev 2:5, 16; 3:3). and hour: Grk. hōra, a period of time in the day (e.g., hour) and figuratively as a point of time as occasion for action or for an event.

"That hour" does not necessarily mean an exact point in a 24-hour day as "hour" means today. Hōra was used in secular Greek literature for year, season, stage of life, day or moment. A precise division of time into hours and minutes as displayed on modern clocks was not known in ancient times. People only used general designations such as "third hour," etc. (Matt 20:3-6) or portions of the day, such as morning, midday, or evening. If Yeshua was referring to a part of a day then he may have been referring to a watch of the night (cf. Mark 13:35). See verse 35. Yeshua may also have been referring to the season of the year since he had already mentioned summer in verse 28.

no one: Grk. oudeis, used here as a noun to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, not one, nobody, none. The adjective admits no exceptions other than what is stated. knows: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The perfect tense refers to action in the past that is complete with continuing results to the present. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395). Contrary to other events prophesied in the Olivet Discourse, this event cannot be predicted. not even: Grk. oude, adv., negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative; nor.

the angels: pl. of Grk. angelos. See verse 31 above. In this verse angelos refers to a divine messenger. of heaven: Grk. ouranos. See verse 29 above. Being "in heaven" could distinguish these angels from those who serve on earth as guardian angels of individuals or congregations. nor the Son: Grk. huios. The designation of "Son" is probably shorthand for "Son of Man" (verse 27 above), whom Daniel saw coming to bring deliverance to Israel. Why wouldn’t the Son know the date of his own coming to earth? Does that mean it’s not scheduled or Yeshua is not omniscient? He certainly demonstrated divine knowledge while on earth, so this is not a statement about the limits of his knowledge. He obviously knows what will happen before the Second Coming and what will happen on "that day," because he just told his disciples.

However, the event may be scheduled, but the Son will not execute it until he is expressly given the "Go Order" from the Father (cf. Acts 1:6-7). Think of D-Day in World War II. The invasion was scheduled and all the commanders and troops were prepared. They only launched when the order came from General Eisenhower. but the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs about 1180 times, generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Hebrew vernacular Yeshua and the apostles would have used the Heb. word aba, as occurs in (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).

In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9). Yeshua also spoke to his Jewish disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36). Thus, for the Body of Messiah the God of Israel becomes "our Father" (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).

alone: Grk. monos, adj., signifying the exclusion of any other entity; alone, only. The important message of this verse is that that no man knows or can know with any certainty of the specific date or day of the week. The Son will not execute it until he is expressly given the "Go Order" from the Father (cf. Acts 1:6-7). Think of D-Day in World War II. The invasion was scheduled and all the commanders and troops were prepared. They only launched when the order came from General Eisenhower. Therefore vigilance is required on the part of the disciple to not be caught unprepared. Trying to predict the date of the Second Coming is the height of folly and anyone who actually sets a date for the Second Coming (or even the Rapture) is a false prophet.

A 1999 article by George Lyons recounted the following list of "false alarms":

· In 1970, Hal Lindsay's Late Great Planet Earth predicted that the Second Coming would occur within a generation – "forty years or so" – after the founding of the modern state of Israel on May 14, 1948. His particular understanding of the Second Coming as a two-phase event presumed that there would be a secret Rapture of believers in 1981 and the Second Coming proper in 1988. One false alarm did not cure Lindsay of date-setting. He next predicted 2007 as the likely year for the Second Coming--40 years after the 1967 Arab-Israeli "Six-Day War." Thus, he expected the Rapture in 2000.

· In the mid-1970s, Cyril Hutchinson suggested that the so-called "Jupiter Effect"- a rare alignment of the nine planets of our solar system on the same side of the sun expected in 1982 – just might be a good time for the Second Coming.

· In 1988, Edgar C. Whisenant gave the most precise predictions of the Lord's return: actually a three-phase Second Coming – September 1988, March 1992, and September 1995.

· In 1992, "Missions for the Coming Days" published ads in several United States newspapers predicting the Rapture on October 28, 1992.

· In 1994, Harold Camping announced that he was "99 percent sure" that the end of the world would occur on September 6, 1994.

· Also in 1994 Gary L. Cutler suggested a date between 1995 and 1997 as a good possibility for the Second Coming.

· In 1992, Marilyn J. Agee set the date for the Rapture as May 31, 1998.

George Lyons, "False Alarms: The End is Near…Again,” Illustrated Bible Life, (Word Action Publishers: July 25, 1999), p. 32.

Even though no one can predict just when Yeshua will return, anticipation may be increased as prophecy is fulfilled. There is good reason to believe that the last of the last days are upon us. This is another reason to keep on the alert as Yeshua exhorted in verse 33 above.

The Lesson of Noah, 24:37-41

37― "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

For the coming: Grk. parousia. See verse 3 above. of the Son of Man: See verse 27 above. Yeshua refers to his appearing as described in verse 30 above. Often the concept of God coming (in the Tanakh) and Yeshua coming in the Besekh is connected to pouring out judgment in present circumstances (Ps 96:13; 98:9; Isa 19:1; 26:21; Micah 1:3; Matt 16:28; 24:50; Jas 5:8-9; Rev 2:5, 16; 3:3). will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. just like: Grk. hōsper, adv. of manner relating events and conditions, just as. the days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 19 above.

of Noah: Grk. Nōe, which attempts to transliterate the Heb. Noach (from the verb nuach, meaning "to rest"). Noah was the son of Lamech, six generations after Adam in the line of Seth, and he fathered three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth who were born when he was 500 years old (Gen 5:32). Noah is described as a good and righteous man (Gen 6:9) and a proclaimer of righteousness (2Pet 2:5). God warned Noah that He was going to wipe mankind from the face of the earth and gave him specific instructions for building the ark by which Noah and his family would survive the coming deluge (Gen 6:12-17).

Then a week before the flood (Gen 7:4), Noah led his family and all of the animals into the ark just as God directed. Noah and his family were in the ark over a year (7:11; 8:14). Once out of the ark, God made a covenant with Noah and his descendants, promising never again to destroy the earth with water and sealed that covenant with a rainbow. Noah was 600 years old at the time of the deluge and lived another 350 years afterwards (9:28-29). His descendants formed seventy nations or people groups listed in Genesis 10.

Yeshua's analogy draws the reader’s attention to the social conditions of the time in order to drive home his point. Noah was told 120 years before the fact that God would destroy the world and he did his best to warn his neighbors (Gen 6:3; Heb 11:7; 2Pet 2:5). Noah must have appeared to be an eccentric, because for years, he preached about God’s intention to destroy the world with water and worked to build a means of escape, but life was too good to pay serious attention to a crazy preacher.

38― "For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

For as in those days before the flood: Grk. kataklusmos, deluge, used only of Noah's flood (Luke 17:27; 2Pet 2:5). The Hebrew text of Genesis has mabbul, which likewise applies only to Noah’s flood (Gen 7:10; 9:11). The Genesis narrative describes a global cataclysm, not a local flood. The great deluge happened when the "fountains of the deep" and the "floodgates of heaven" opened in one day (Gen 7:11). Then rain poured for 40 days and nights (Gen 7:12). Waters covered all mountains and 15 cubits above the highest mountains (Gen 7:19-20). All with breath (humans and animals) outside the ark died (Gen 6:17; 7:21-23; 8:21). Only Noah and his family were saved (Gen 7:23). The waters receded for two months before peaks were seen (Gen 8:5).

Yeshua does not repeat the indictment recorded in Genesis of antediluvian society being filled with evil, corruption and violence (Gen 6:5, 11-13). What he notes are ordinary activities. they were eating: Grk. trōgō, pres. part., to chew vigorously, to eat. and drinking: Grk. pinō, pres. part., to take in a liquid, and in the physical sense usually water or wine. These two verbs in combination may refer to feasting, whether accompanying religious festivals, family gatherings, or wedding celebrations.

marrying: Grk. gameō, pres., taking a woman as a wife. and giving in marriage: Grk. gamizō, pres. pass., to give a woman in marriage, such as when a father conveys his daughter to the bridegroom, whether for betrothal or consummation. Both verbs are plural, which may indicate either the widespread nature of the activity or the continuation of polygamy that at least began with Lamech (Gen 4:19). The only reference in Genesis that possibly means marriage before the flood is the statement that "the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them" (Gen 6:4). The "sons of God" is probably an idiomatic expression referring to descendants of Shem, since his line remained faithful to God.

until the day: The reference to the activities of that time stresses the preoccupation of people to the things of this world to the neglect of their relationship with God. The antediluvian world was probably a time of prosperity in spite of social chaos. People carried on with their normal activities of married life and feasting and had no inkling life could change. Thus, the people of Noah’s day were spiritually unprepared to meet their Creator.

that Noah entered the ark: Grk. kibōtos, "box or chest." The word refers to a seafaring vessel. Given the dimensions of 300 cubits long (437 ft.), 50 cubits wide (73 ft.) and 30 cubits high (44 ft.) (Gen 6:15), the ark was more like a barge or a floating box with no means of propulsion. That would give a volume of 1,396,000 cubic feet and a gross tonnage of 13,960 tons. Noah followed the building instructions down to every detail. The size of the ark was clearly too large for regional fauna. The volumetric capacity was more than enough to carry two of every known kind of land animal, living or extinct. Noah entered the ark 120 years after being given the commission and the occupants were in the ark for over a year (Gen 7:11; 8:14). Thanks to the ark Noah and his family were saved (Gen 7:23). After 5 months the ark finally rested on the mountains of Ararat, not Mt. Ararat as commonly supposed (Gen 8:4).

39― and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

and they did not understand: Grk. ginōskō, aor. See verse 32 above. The verb is used here for drawing a conclusion. The people had information, because of Noah's preaching, but Noah's warning seemed a scientific impossibility. They just could not understand the mechanics of how the earth could be flooded. And, because they couldn't comprehend the certainty in a rational sense, they refused to believe and repent. until the flood: Grk. kataklusmos. See the previous verse. After Noah and his family disappeared inside the ark and the floodgates" opened from beneath and over the earth, unbelief became a horrifying nightmare.

and took them all: Grk. hapas, adj., refers to a totality, but also of every item or person in an aggregate, i.e., everybody and everything. away: Grk. airō, aor., take away. See verse 17 above. The verb graphically depicts the flooding waters carrying away people, animals and structures. All with breath outside the ark died (Gen 6:17; 7:21-23; 8:21). The death toll from the global deluge may have been as many as 3 billion people. So thoroughly did the roiling waters purge the earth of sinful mankind that no fossils of human beings of Noah's generation have ever been found. On the other hand, thousands of animal fossils have been discovered, all mute testimony of divine judgment.

so will the coming: Grk. parousia. See verse 3 above. of the Son of Man be: See verse 27 above. Yeshua's coming will be an event of terrible destruction and judgment, just as Noah's flood. The obvious fact that has a direct bearing on the Second Coming is that on the same day that everyone else in the world drowned only Noah and his family were left alive (Gen 6:11, 13; Matt 24:38). The reference to the activities of that time is not a prophecy that the same conditions will exist when Yeshua comes to rescue His followers, but to stress the unexpected nature of God’s judgment.

40― "Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

Then: The transitional word "then" extends the thought of verses 36-39, so that what follows is parallel to the point of the Noah analogy. there will be two men in the field: Grk. agros normally refers to a plot of ground used mainly for agriculture (Matt 13:24), i.e., a field, and occasionally as the countryside outside a city or village (Mark 15:21; 16:15; Luke 23:26). The scenario envisioned seems to be that of men laboring in a field engaged in such activities of sowing, weeding and reaping.

one will be taken: Grk. paralambanō, pres. pass., may mean (1) to receive to one's side; take, receive; or (2) to cause to go along; take. It's not immediately clear which meaning is in view, but probably the second. The force of "taken" in verses 40-41 is probably the same as "took them all away" in verse 39. one will be left: Grk. aphiēmi, pres. pass., to release or let go with several applications: (1) to release from one's presence; (2) release from an obligation; (3) let remain behind; (4) leave standing or lying; or (5) permissive sense of let, let go, allow or tolerate. The last meaning probably has application here.

41― "Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

Two women will be grinding: Grk. alēthō, pres. part., to grind grain into flour. at the mill: Grk. mulos, mill or mill-stone, either the small version consisting of two flat stones operated by hand or a larger version typically worked by donkey power. Millstones were flat stones on which grain was placed and crushed as other stones rolled over the grain. The description here is of the hand-operated type. one will be taken: Grk. paralambanō, pres. pass. See the previous verse. and one will be left: Grk. aphiēmi, pres. pass. See the previous verse.

The obvious significance of "left" is its contrast to "taken." There are no clarifying comments describing any of the individuals as anticipating the event, as do the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, nor meeting the anticipated Son or being transformed by resurrection. It may be easier to affirm what Yeshua did not say. Yeshua did not say that half of all the people on the earth will be saved, when He had already said in His sermon on the mount that "few" would be saved (Matt 7:14). Yeshua did not say that the ones "taken" are taken to heaven or that the ones "left" are left to be at the mercy of the Antichrist.

To the hypothetical scenarios of two people Luke adds, "I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left." (Luke 17:34). All three scenarios illustrate that the Day of the Lord will find many people engaged in ordinary activities The fact that the "taking" in Luke's version occurs at night does not conflict with the Second Coming occurring in conjunction with the daytime activities in this passage. See Mark 13:35 which mentions the four watches of the evening hours. For some the event will occur in the daytime and others at night due to the rotation of the earth.

The brief vignette of people being taken and left connected with the story of Noah is remarkably parallel to the harvest or gathering parables found in Matthew 3:12 and 13:24-50. All of the stories start with a group that is then divided, with one part of the group being removed from the rest of the group. It seems reasonable that the pattern established in the harvest parables would hold true in the Olivet Discourse, including the timing of the event. The context of the Olivet Discourse clearly places the "taking" and "leaving" after the great tribulation. If the "taking" refers to rapturing God's people, then it must be a restatement of the gathering described in verse 31 (cf. Mark 13:27).

Admonition for Readiness, 24:42-51

42― "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

Therefore be on the alert: Grk. grēgoreō, pres. imp., be fully awake, to be on he alert, be watchful. In the LXX it renders Heb. amad ("to take one's stand," "stand" BDB 763) in Nehemiah 7:3 and for shaqad ("watch," "wake" BDB 1052) in Jeremiah 5:6 (DNTT 2:136). The Greek word used here simply means to be awake as a sentry who keeps his eyes open while he is on duty. you do not: Grk. ou, particle of strong negation. know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 36 above. "You have not seen enough to know." which: Grk. poios, interrogative pronoun ("of what kind?"), but used here as equivalent of the indefinite pronoun tis; which, what. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 19 above. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person, i.e., the disciples.

Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. Both meanings can apply here. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority to stand in for the name YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title (e.g., Rabbi, Teacher, Master). The frequent use of kurios to address Yeshua in the flesh would not have considered deity.

Unbelieving Jews would have called Yeshua kurios out of respect. For disciples who followed Yeshua kurios would be equivalent of the Heb. Rhabbi, since the Hebrew word means "my Master." Speaking in Hebrew expectant Jews would call Yeshua adōn because the Messiah would rule over Israel. Peter declared on Pentecost, "Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him - this Yeshua whom you had crucified - both Lord and Messiah" (Acts 2:36 TLV). Then at the house of Cornelius the same message was repeated, "You know the message He sent to Bnei-Yisrael [sons of Israel], proclaiming shalom through Messiah Yeshua - He is Lord of all" (Acts 10:36 TLV).

is coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to come or arrive. See verse 5 above. The present tense is used here to indicate an anticipated future event or an action purposed. The verb is used of the appearance of the Messiah, the "first advent" (Mark 10:45; Luke 3:16; John 1:9; 4:25; 6:14; 7:27, 31; 11:27; 16:28). The verb is also used of the return of Yeshua from heaven to earth, the "second advent" (verse 30 above; Matt 10:23; 25:31; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 13:26; 14:62; Luke 9:27; 21:27; Acts 1:11; 1Cor 4:5; 11:26; 2Th 1:10; Rev 1:7; 16:15; 22:7, 20). Thus, in context erchomai is equivalent to parousia in verse 27 above. If Yeshua could come at any moment how can one be alert? However, we should be aware of the signs of the time. Yeshua is saying that the knowledge of the disciples is so limited that they would not be able to answer anyone who might ask, "what day is the Lord coming?"

43― "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

But: Grk. de, conj. used here to introduce a contrast to the preceding verse. be sure: Grk. ginōskō, pres. imp., to know. See verse 32 above. The disciples have the knowledge of what Yeshua has prophesied. of this: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun; that, that one there. Yeshua uses the pronoun to introduce a parabolic saying. that if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 22 above. the head of the house: Grk. oikodespotēs (from oikos, house + despotēs, master), master of a house, whether owner or steward. Here the noun is masculine, and in the Hebrew idiom would mean the head of the household or family. Paul uses the verb form of the word, oikodespoteō, of a wife as mistress of a household (1Tim 5:4.)

had known: Grk. oida, plperf. See verse 36 above. The verb is used here of inside knowledge. at what: Grk. poios. See the previous verse. time of the night: Grk. phulakē may mean (1) a place for detaining a lawbreaker; (2) a sentry station with a contingent of guards; or (3) a period of time for mounting guard. The third meaning is intended here, alluding to the watches of the night at the Temple. The Jews had adopted the Roman system of dividing the night time into four periods. Since clocks didn't exist in ancient times, there's no way to know for certain when the watches began and ended. The watch period ran approximately 6:00 pm to 6:00 am with three hours per watch.

the thief: Grk. kleptēs, thief, one who steals, one who violates the eighth commandment (Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19). In the LXX the noun kleptēs translates the Heb. gannab (SH-1590), which like the Greek word includes the sense of stealth (DNTT 3:377). The word first appears in Exodus 22:2 in the context of instruction on property rights. Stolen items included objects of value, animals, and men. Even when theft was motivated by need or poverty, stealing was still regarded as dishonoring to God (Prov 30:9) and deserving of punishment. The Torah set the penalty for sheep stealing as payment to the owner of four sheep for the one taken (Ex 22:1). Thievery was a pervasive problem in the ancient world (Matt 6:19; 24:43; Luke 12:33; Eph 4:28; 1Pet 4:15).

A thief comes to cause harm, not good (John 10:10; cf. Job 24:14; Hos 7:1). A thief is dreaded, not hoped for and welcomed. A thief comes when least expected. A thief often comes at night, but not exclusively. The text is not talking about a simple cat burglar or a pickpocket, but a criminal that usually had accomplices and would stop at nothing to take what he wanted. Ancient thieves were bandits and murderers. Satan is a thief because he tries to destroy those who serve God (1Pet 5:8). When Yeshua returns he will play the part of thief to destroy ungodliness and all that oppose his reign (2Th 1:6-10; 1Jn 3:8).

The thief metaphor represents both temporal judgment (1Cor 5:5; Rev 3:3) and the Day of the Lord (1Th 5:1-6; 2Pet 3:10-12; Rev 16:15). The Day of the Lord, not the Rapture, comes as a thief in the night. The Day of the Lord will not overtake the righteous as a thief, because we walk in the light and expect the Day of the Lord to come. A thief is not invisible and neither will Yeshua be when he comes. When Yeshua comes he will kill and destroy. He will not steal because he is just taking what belongs to him.

was coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 5 above and the previous verse. he would have been on the alert: Grk. grēgoreō, aor. See the previous verse. and would: Grk. an, disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might. not: Grk. ou, adv. have allowed: Grk. eaō, aor., the basic idea is removal of a real or perceived impediment to a desired action, let something happen or take place; permit, allow. his house: Grk. oikia (from oikeō, engage in housing) is used primarily to mean (1) a habitable structure; house, abode, private residence (Matt 2:11; John 11:31); (2) fig. of a group within a house; household or family (Matt 10:13; John 4:53); or (3) fig. of goods, property or means (Matt 23:13).

In Classical Greek oikia had a more narrow meaning than the related noun oikos (house, dwelling-place). Both words meant a dwelling place and by extension the household of that dwelling. The nouns were distinguished by oikia denoting the actual dwelling space and oikos denoting the whole house, the family property and even the inheritance (DNTT 2:247). to be broken into: Grk. diorussō, aor. pass. inf., to "dig through" in reference to a burglar's activity. The verb alludes to the the sun-dried brick construction of walls. The implication is that the head of the household is inside the house, most likely asleep. So, he would naturally be surprised when thieves dig through the wall of his house to get at his valuable possessions (Matt 6:19).

If the head of household knew in advance when the thief (and his gang) would come then he could be ready and thwart the attempt. Breaking in or digging through indicates that the thief is overcoming resistance. If the thief in the night is supposed to be a secret rapture, then why use the analogy of breaking into a house? While it may be tempting to allegorize this saying by making the head of household Satan  (cf. Matt 12:25-29), Yeshua does not do so. He explains the point of his parabolic saying in the next verse.

44― "For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

For this reason: lit. "because of this." you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person, i.e., the disciples. also must be: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. imp., to become. See verse 6 above. The present tense command emphasizes to start and keep on performing the action. ready: Grk. hetoimos, adj., being prepared; waiting in readiness. We might say "spiritual bags packed." for the Son of Man: See verse 27 above. is coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 5 and 42 above. at an hour: Grk. hōra, a period of time in the day; hour, time. when you do not think He will: Grk. dokeō, pres., the basic idea of receptivity and hence attractiveness to the intellect appears throughout the verb's usage, which may mean to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard. Many interpreters suggest that the "unexpected hour" means that Yeshua may come at any moment, even without regard to unfulfilled prophecies. Such an assumption impugns the integrity of God.

45― "Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?

Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. then is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the faithful: Grk. pistos, adj., characterized by constancy and therefore worthy of trust; faithful, reliable or trustworthy. and sensible: Grk. phronimos, adj., using one's wits effectively; prudent, judicious. slave: Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant. generally used of a male slave, who is viewed as owned property totally and unquestioningly at the behest of the owner. The economies of ancient empires were based on slave labor and slavery typically occurred as a result of being captured in war and then sold. Legally a slave had no rights. In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. ebed, which did include the meaning of doulos but with a much broader application.

In the Tanakh ebed is especially used of household servants (first in Gen 20:14), those who worked for the King and those who served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593). Hebrew culture was different from pagan nations in that slavery was generally a form of indentured servitude. Hebrew slaves were either purchased outright (Ex 12:44; 21:2, 7; Lev 19:20) or acquired as a result of having to pay a debt (Ex 21:7; Lev 25:39, 47; Matt 5:25-26). All slaves were considered property, but Hebrew slaves were treated more as trusted employees (Lev 25:40). The Torah specifically required Israelites to remember how they were treated as slaves in Egypt (Deut 5:15; 15:15) and treat their slaves justly (Deut 5:14; Lev 25:43). Yeshua uses the term "servant" here as an employee with significant stewardship responsibility, as he does elsewhere (Matt 10:24; 13:27; 18:23; 20:27; 21:34; 22:3; 25:14).

whom his master: Grk. kurios. See verse 42 above. put in charge: Grk. kathistēmi, aor., may mean (1) bring down to a location; (2) put into a position of responsibility; or (3) cause to become. The second meaning applies here, to appoint. of his household: Grk. oiketēs, slave belonging to a householder; (house) slave. The description is of a servant being given supervisory responsibility over other servants. to give: Grk. didōmi, aor. inf. See the note on "show" in verse 24 above. them their food: Grk. trophē, that which is needed to nourish or sustain physical life; food, victuals, diet. at the proper time: Grk. kairos may refer to (1) an appropriate or set temporal segment of time; or (2) a period, definite or approximate, in which an event takes place; time, period. In context kairos may refer to predesignated meal times.

46― "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.

Blessed is: Grk. makarios, enjoying special advantage; blessed, privileged, fortunate, happy, in the sense of being in a special condition and thereby realizing happiness. The structure of this verse is similar to the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. that slave: Grk. doulos. See the previous verse. whom his master: Grk. kurios. See verse 42 above. finds: Grk. heuriskō, fut., to come upon by seeking, to find or locate that which has eluded the one seeking. so doing: Grk. poieō, pres. part. See verse 25 above. when he comes: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 5 above.

The duty of the servant mentioned in the previous verse was to serve food, to nourish the household of the Master. When the Lord comes he expects to find his servants to be faithfully engaged in their responsibilities. Peter was given a similar charge to "feed my sheep" (John 21:17 NIV). God expects His faithful servants to show their faithfulness by discharging their duties to others while we await "that day."

47― "Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

Truly: Grk. amēn. See verse 2 above. I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; i.e., the disciples. that he will put him in charge: Grk. kathistēmi, fut. See verse 45 above. of all his possessions: Grk. huparchō, pres. part., may mean (1) be present in a functional manner; or (2) to function or be in a state as determined by circumstance. The use of the participle here denotes property or holdings. The reward of faithfulness is more responsibility, which is graphically illustrated in the parable of the talents in the next chapter.

48― "But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,'

But: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 23 above. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. evil: Grk. kakos, adj., may mean (1) morally or socially reprehensible, something that violates community standards, thus bad, wrong or evil; or (2) causing harm with focus on personal or physical injury, bad, injurious or harmful. In the LXX kakos is used to render Heb. ra, which has the same dual meaning (DNTT 1:562). Kakos here refers to evil as a moral quality. slave: Grk. doulos. a better translation would be "servant." See verse 45 above. In the context of the parable the evil servant is acting in the capacity of a "fiduciary," which in modern law refers to a person holding the character of a trustee charged to act primarily for another's benefit. Typically a fiduciary manages the money or property of another. A breach of that responsibility would be a serious offense.

says: Grk. legō, aor. subj. See verse 2 above. in his heart: Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia renders Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181). My master: Grk. kurios. See verse 42 above. is not coming for a long time: Grk. chronizō, pres., take time longer than expected to do or accomplish something; take time, linger, delay.

This seems almost like a contradiction. Surely no one could call himself a servant of Yeshua unless he were truly born again and living a faithful life. Yet, Judas had all the appearance of a faithful disciple, but was a thief and traitor (Mark 3:19; John 12:6). Ananias and Sapphira lied to the apostles (Acts 5:4). A man in the Corinthian congregation slept with his father's wife (1Cor 5:1). Paul recognized that there could be so-called brothers in the congregation (cf. 1Cor 5:11).

49― and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;

and: Grk. kai, conj. begins: Grk. archō, aor. mid. subj., can mean either to rule or to begin something. The second meaning applies here, but the following actions derives from the first meaning. Yeshua then identifies two breaches of fiduciary responsibility. to beat: Grk. tuptō, pres. inf., can range in meaning from multiple blows as in 'pummel' to a single strike; beat up. his fellow slaves: Grk. sundoulos, a person who along with others is someone's property; fellow slave/servant. The abuse of the head servant in this scenario is contrary to his authority. The fellow servants belong to the master, who is the only one with the authority to discipline.

and: Grk. de, conj. A better translation would be "moreover," due to the rest of the charge. eat: Grk. esthiō, pres. subj., to consume food, whether derived from grain, vegetables, fruits or meat of animals. and drink: Grk. pinō, pres. subj., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine. The phrase "eat and drink" denotes social behavior, probably at a wild party. with drunkards: Grk. methuō, pres. part., imbibing to excess an intoxicating beverage, such as wine or other strong drink. Wine was a regular beverage of ancient Israelites, being considered a blessing of God (Deut 7:13; 11:14; 14:26; Ps 104:14-15).

Scripture identifies definite benefits of wine (Deut 7:13; 14:26; 16:13; Ps 104:15; Prov 3:10; Matt 9:17; Luke 7:33-34; John 2:3-11; 1Tim 5:23). By the same token Scripture contains many warnings against drunkenness because wine as a fermented beverage was quite potent and some people overindulged (Gen 9:21; Prov 20:1; 23:20; Isa 5:22; 28:1, 7). Paul frequently denounced drunkenness (Rom 13:13; 1Cor 5:11; 6:10; 11:20-22; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1Th 5:7-8). It's clear that the Lord will judge those who consort with drunkards.

50― the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know,

the master: Grk. kurios. See verse 42 above. of that slave: Grk. doulos. See verse 45 above. will come: Grk. hēkō, fut. See verse 14 above. on a day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 19 above. when he does not expect him: Grk. prosdokaō, pres., be on the alert for; expect, wait for, look for. and at an hour: Grk. hōra. See verse 36 above. which he does not know: Grk. ginōskō, pres. See verse 32 above. The master does not inform his servants in advance of the day of his return. (Anyone who predicts a date for the rapture or Second Coming is a false prophet.) The bad servant is contrasted with the good servant. The bad servant's lack of expectation has the effect of his not being prepared, that is, he doesn't have time to remedy his unfaithfulness.

51― and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

and will cut him in pieces: Grk. dichotomeō, fut., cut in two, dismember. The verb is idiomatic of extreme punishment. and assign: Grk. tithēmi, fut., may mean (1) to arrange for association with a site; place, put, set out, serve, lay down; or (2) to arrange for creation of role or status, make, appoint. The second meaning applies here. him a place: Grk. meros, a piece or segment of a whole. of: Grk. meta, prep., lit. "with." hypocrites: Grk. hupokritēs, one who claims to be what one is not; play actor, pretender. Mounce adds "a moral or religious counterfeit." Appearing to be a believer is only a role. He has the form of godliness but his life denies the power of God (2Tim 3:5). Rabbis spoke of God’s reward and punishment as being "measure for measure." You get to spend eternity with people like yourself.

in that place: Grk. ekei, adv. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. weeping: Grk. klauthmos, crying. and gnashing: Grk. brugmos, grinding or gnashing. of teeth: pl. of Grk. odous, a tooth. Weeping and gnashing of teeth is a particular characteristic of outer darkness and hell (cf. Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 25:30; Luke 13:28). The idiomatic expression denotes extreme torment. It might indicate remorse and pangs of conscience, because the sinner must now face the truth of his self-deceit and disobedience. This warning makes no sense within the framework of a secret pre-trib rapture. Two elements argue against two second comings seven years apart. First, both servants are engaged in their activities when the Master comes; and second, reward and punishment are both rendered when the Master comes.

In this parable the bad slave wastes the owner's property in riotous living and mistreats fellow slaves. The description of the landowner’s actions upon his return is critical to understanding the meaning of the unexpected hour. When the landowner arrives he does not secretly gather the good slaves and leave for the country where he had been doing business in order to have a party while the bad slaves are left to continue mismanaging his property. What happens? The landowner rewards the good slaves and punishes the bad slaves.

The fact that the landowner is delayed means that the unexpected hour cannot be taken in any literalistic sense or the message would become an absurdity. Yeshua had already given the disciples a chronology of last days events immediately preceding in this chapter, so "any moment" could not have applied to any time before A.D. 70. Yeshua would not mock his disciples by implying he might return any moment when he knew for a fact that it wouldn't occur in their lifetimes. He warned his disciples before the Ascension that there are times and seasons in God's planning that still lay in the future (Acts 1:7), so there was no need to sit around with their eyes on the horizon. However, the disciples needed the message to be ready at all times for accountability, because they (and we) could die at any time. Death is an appointment we shall all keep (Heb 9:27) and based on history a far greater certainty than being alive when he returns. Yeshua never said he might come at any time, only that he will come at a time when he isn't expected (verse 36 above).

Works Cited and Consulted

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.

Carson: D.A. Carson, Matthew, Vol. 8, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.

Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.

Gale: Aaron M. Gale, Annotations on "Matthew," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online. [Baptist Bible scholar]

GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]

Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Translation of the New Testament (M-Text) and annotations by the author.

HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)

Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.

Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.

Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.

LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.

Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.

Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.

Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.

NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.

Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1976.

Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1980, 1992. Online.

SECB: James Strong (1822–1894), Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890). Online.

Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.

TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.

Wilson: Marvin Wilson, Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1989.

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