Every single time there is an earthquake, rumor of a war, the rising of a political party one doesn’t like, the prophecies about Matthew 24 start flying.
Matthew 24 has to be the most quoted chapter of the Bible when it comes to end times prophecies. In the original text there are no divisions in regards to chapters, titles and verses. They came into existence around the mid 1200s.
The one thing that causes the most confusion in the Bible is the man made topical titles the publishers add to the Bible to help the reader understand a bit better. These were not a part of the original manuscripts of the Bible.
The reason they are an issue is what if they are wrong? They could (and did) mislead an entire generation. Things we believe are scripture…are not. None of them have been worse than Matthew 24. I’ve done an exhaustive study on this chapter and am excited to share with you my findings.
This may be a long read, but it will be a helpful one. We are going to break down each verse of this chapter to explain what it means and how it was fulfilled. If you need help reading the Bible, be sure to read our training on understanding the scripture in context. Let’s get started.
Here we have a picture painted to us of Jesus and the Apostles leaving the Temple. They get to the Mount of Olives and take a seat. The Apostles are marveling at the Temple. They are in awe of how beautiful it is.
Jesus then goes on to tell them that the Temple building they are looking it will be destroyed. In fact, it will be so bad, not one stone will be left upon another.
The Apostles ask a question that I believe any single one of us would ask.
When you read it at face value it is very simple. The Apostles are asking when the Temple is falling, Jesus then gives them a plain answer on what will lead up to the fall. It doesn’t have to be so complicated but of course, Christians have made it so by trying to project these events into the future. There is no way anyone reading this chapter would think these events that are listed are not for the original audience Jesus is speaking to. The ONLY way anyone would believe different is if they were told to believe different… and that is where the problem comes in.
To further this point just look at the structure of the question itself. They ask Jesus, “When will the buildings fall AND when will be the sign of Your coming AND when will be the end of the world (age)”.
The word “and” is the Greek word Kai. Kai is a conjunction that means: “and, also, even, indeed, but”
The fact that is a conjunction is also incredible. Let’s define conjunction exactly how Webster defines it.
A conjunction is the action or an instance of two or more events or things occurring at the same point in time or space.
That’s right the action of two or more events that must happen at the exact same point in time. So what Jesus is saying here is that the fall of the temple buildings, the coming of the Lord and the end of the world (age) will all happen at the exact same point in time.
When did the Temple buildings they were looking at fall?
Answer- 70 AD
Before we dive into this verse I want to cross reference this verse with the two other times this exact verse is mentioned in the Gospels. Remember, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are four accounts of the exact same thing. Naturally, some will have more or less to say about something based on different things they’ve heard and seen. This is also what makes the Bible so remarkable that they were able to do this without any inconsistencies.
Mark 13:5-6- 5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.
Luke 21:8- 8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.
The reason why I added the two other accounts of the exact same thing is because I wanted to highlight one addition Luke adds to this story. Not only do these people that are trying to mislead people say, “I am the Christ” but Luke highlights the phrase, “the time is near.”
So the ones who are misleading people are also the ones falsely proclaiming “the time is near.”
That leads us to ask a very important question. Who is saying the time is near? If what these men said (the time was near) actually happened then it would prove them to be legit prophets but if these men said these statements and the time wasn’t near it would prove them to be false prophets as stated above in the Scripture.
The answer is all in the timing. The events of Matthew 24 have not happened at the time of the writing so anyone saying the time is near would be incorrect because as Jesus said, all of the things following must happen and then the time will be near.
But as these events are unfolding and even towards the end of them, then the time would be near as Jesus stated.
Luke 21:28-“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
So now Jesus is confirming that these events are unfolding right before their eyes and that the time is now! Straighten up, raise your head, YOUR (the first century generation) redemption is getting closer.
The timing is also extremely important because if these events did not happen yet, then anyone who proclaimed that the time was near, would be a false prophet and a false teacher.
Well let’s see who made these statements:
Romans 13:11-12- Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Philippians 4:5- Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
Hebrews 10:37- For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
James 5:8- You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
1 Peter 4:7- The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
1 John 2:18- Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
Were Paul, James and John the false prophets that were leading people astray? I think not! They understood that the signs that Jesus had mentioned in Matthew 24 are unfolding right before their eyes. It’s exactly what Jesus told them to watch for which is why they were so confident that the “Lord is near.”
Acts 13:6- When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus,
When in our lifetime has there not been wars and rumors of wars? From the beginning of time there have been threats of wars but during the first century there is overwhelming evidence of the amount of wars, famines and earthquakes taking place to the exact audience Jesus was speaking too.
In fact during the reign of Emperor Claudius, who took over for Emperor Nero after his suicide on June 9th, 68 AD, a MAJOR famine hit the Roman world unlike anything they have ever seen.
In fact James Stuart Russell writes, “In the fourth year of his [Claudius] reign, the famine in Judea was so severe, that the price of food became enormous and great numbers perished.”
The book of Leviticus even prophecies similar events during “the end.” Check this out:
Leviticus 26:27-30- ‘Yet if in spite of this you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me, 28 then I will act with wrathful hostility against you, and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins. 29 Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat. 30 I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and heap your remains on the remains of your idols, for My soul shall abhor you.
Pretty wild huh? To even further show how specific this was, look at what the historian Josephus records in his book Wars 7.4.2:
When Nero committed suicide in June 68 AD, even the Roman Empire nearly collapsed in on itself due to jostling for power and what Josephus called “civil wars of horrible ferocity and dramatic proportions.” Rome went through four emperors within one year, and Josephus remarked that “every part of the habitable earth under them [the Romans] was in an unsettled and tottering condition”
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.
Who is the “you” in these verses? If this is still a future event and Matthew 24 was written to all of us, wouldn’t this imply that every Christian would be put to death? It clearly says that, “they will deliver YOU up to tribulation and put YOU to death.”
Since we know that every Christian does not get murdered, we need to ask who is the “you” in this verse. The answer is simple. It’s the Apostles who He is talking to on the Mount of Olives.
Were they all delivered into tribulation and eventually put to death…YES!
How did the Apostles die?
Matthew | Impaled By Spears In Ethiopia
James | Thrown Off a Wall and Then Clubbed to Death
Jude | Crucified By The Magi In Persia
John | Died By Execution In Ephesus
Matthias | Stoned and Beheaded
Philip | Hung By Iron Hooks Upside Down
Peter | Crucified Upside Down By Emperor Nero
Thomas | Stabbed With a Spear In India
James | Beheaded In Palestine
Simon | Crucified In Persia
Andrew | Crucified On An X-Shaped Cross In Greece
Bartholomew | Flayed To Death By A Whip In Asia Minor
10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
So people will stop believing, and hate each other. People leading people down the wrong path and love will begin to fade. Is this something one generation has had over another? The kicker is the final line. Why would Jesus be telling them about enduring to the end if they wouldn’t even have the opportunity to endure to the end?
Josephus in Wars of The Jews V 11 states the following about the first century:
“A false prophet was the occasion of these people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get up upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants [zealot leaders] to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God: and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes”
Josephus actually goes on to say that the Jewish leaders of the Jewish rebellion bribed and coerced a bunch of people to pretend to be Prophets. They all were proven false which in turn led many people to doubt everything and fall away from the promises they were expecting from God.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Now this Scripture gets brought up a lot to me. People say, “Johnny, but the Gospel hasn’t been preached to the entire world yet.”
I say, “Are you sure?” 🙂
The word world in this verse is the Greek work “Oikoumene” which means:
-The known inhabited land
- the portion of the earth inhabited by the Greeks, in distinction from the lands of the barbarians
- the Roman empire, all the subjects of the empire
This word does NOT mean the entire planet. The Gospel was to be preached to the entire land controlled by the Roman government…which was the known land that was being occupied by people. Not only is this feasible, the Bible actually declares this already being fulfilled during the first century. Check out the following verses
Romans 1:8- I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
Colossians 1:6- All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.
Colossians 1:23- This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Not only does the Bible proclaim that it has already been preached through the entire world (Oikoumene), but it’s also bearing fruit and growing.
The further drive this point home, here are some other uses of the word “Oikoumene” in scripture that proves it does not mean the entire planet.
Acts 17:6- These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here
Acts 24:5- We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world
How can “these men” cause trouble all over the literal planet? Or how can they stir up riots all over planet Earth? They can’t! This is a great example of how a word we would define as planet does not mean planet. We have to study a bit and understand the context of what is being said to get the real honest picture of what is being expressed by God.
So yes, the Gospel has already been preached throughout the whole Oikoumene.
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
There is a lot to break down here but lets start with looking at Luke’s version of the same scripture.
Luke 21:20-21- “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are inside the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city;
In Matthew the writer describes this event as “the abomination that causes desolation.” What is that? Well, Luke tells us actually what this is. When armies surround Jerusalem, that is the abomination of desolation.These armies will cause this desolation (which means a complete state of emptiness and/or destruction).
If this is a future event, how are you going to see Jerusalem surrounded by armies? Do you know when this exactly happened…70 AD. The Romans left the city of Jerusalem in complete ruin. The people who lived inside of the city fled the the mountains to hide for their life. It’s amazing how accurately the Bible predicted exactly what would happen to them.
According to the law of Moses, graven images of any kind were “abominations.” You were not allowed to worship anything but the one, true, real God. The Roman armies not only worshipped these different “dieties”, they carried them on flags, fixtures, statues etc as they marched in an army.
So this perfectly describes the abomination that causes desolation, it makes perfect sense to re word this as the Roman Armies will cause complete destruction and chaos. Check out below some of the signs, ensigns, and other false gods they carried with them.
Antiochus Epiphanies in the second century BC, erected a idol to the Greek god Zues inside of the Jewish Temple and then sacrificed a pig to it. This exact event, in Daniel 11:31, is called “the abomination that causes desolation.” So this was the original abomination that causes desolation.
Daniel 11:31- Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.
If we break this down to the simplest form, the abomination of worshipping and going after false gods will cause your desolation. Won’t that preach!
In AD 70, Caesar Titus did the exact same thing. When the temple was on fire and the Roman armies were burning the town to the ground, Josephus states that the Romans were bringing in their ensigns (idols) inside of the Temple and making sacrifices of worship to them (Wars 6.6.1).
The fact that the Romans worshipped and sacrificed to their idols just like the Greeks did in the original abomination that causes desolation is even further proof of exactly what this is.
Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, and never will be.
One of the main problems with projecting scriptures like the above into the future is that do you believe that God doesn’t want women to get pregnant? Or, that your trial would not be in the winter time because of the cold, or on the Sabbath (because they wouldn’t be able to do anything?)
We today, are not subjected to the Sabbath because we are no longer under the law. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law (Matt 5:17) and now we are in the freedom of the New Covenant. This fact alone sows how this verse was meant to the original audience Jesus was speaking with.
He didn’t want them pregnant during the slaughter and during the time when they had to “flee to the mountains of Judea.” Doing that during the winter would be troublesome and why would any loving Father want their children to experience that?
And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
This portion of text is a direct warning for the people who were living during this time. Surely we won’t be tempted to run into the wilderness or “inner rooms.” They were around the wilderness and the inner rooms of the temple.
Also, we do see a lot of “miracles” deceiving God’s people in the first century (this is also happening today to. People are very easily drawn to the Supernatural but not everything Supernatural is used to glorify God).
We see scriptural evidences of evil or witches/sorcerers performing supernatural feats. People were entertained and easily swayed by them. Jesus was trying to get that generation to not be swayed by signs and wonders but by the truth in His word (which in return, is the Fathers word).
“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.
Verse 29 paints a picture that immediately after the tribulation, “the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven.”
It’s pretty safe to say that since if one star fell from the sky onto the Earth, it would destroy everything, there is a lot of apocalyptic language being used here to describe an event.
Let us fast forward a bit. Jesus was crucified and resurrected. He commissions the Apostles to go and spread the Word of God and this takes us to the book of Acts. Chapter two is all about the day of Pentecost. We see the winds start to blow and the Holy Spirit fall onto God’s people and they begin to speak in a Jewish dialect.
The Jewish people of this day see them and think they are drunk. They are confused that uneducated and untrained men could speak in Hebrew (Acts 2:7).
Peter jumps up and tells them that they are not drunk, but this is what was prophesied about through the Prophet Joel. Peter, is literally telling them that they are watching the prophecies unfold right before their eyes
14 But Peter, taking his stand with the other eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this, and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you assume, since it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
And your young men will see visions,
And your old men will have dreams;
18 And even on My male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days,
And they will prophesy.
19 And I will display wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, fire, and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.
21 And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
In verse 20 Peter identifies that generation as “seeing the sun go dark and the moon to blood, or not give its light.”
In the book of Revelation, John also writes down that he is a “partaker of the Tribulation”, on “the day of the Lord.” (Rev 1:9-10)
Yet, our biggest flaw today is that we are trying to project these events to the future with a literal darkening of the sun and the moon not working. We stand with our heads in the sky looking for these “signs.”
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
So the tribes (12 tribes) of the Earth will actually see the son of man “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
This is important because the coming of the Lord is always tied to His power and His glory (the kingdom). If His coming did not happen, then we don’t have any of it…we would still be waiting.
I did a whole study session on the phrase “coming on the clouds,” and how it is used all throughout the Bible.
32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
I know I keep focusing on the timing here but it is so important. If we can nail down the time frame, then at least we have a parameter of when these events took place. Once we have that, we can try to discern what these events are and in verse 34…it is plain and simple.
This generation, the generation that is being spoken to while this book was being written, will not die until everything previously written in this book will happen. So to break this down to a fine powder, everything we have just read will happen in the lifetimes of the Apostles.
It’s that simple.
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,b]”>[b] but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Why would God tell the original audience to “stay awake” if this message was not for them to experience? I mean, Daniel is told at the end of his prophecies that these were not for him. Daniel was told that he would go his way and sleep (or die), because it is far off (Daniel 12:13).
But in this verse the audience is being told to stay awake because you do not know the hour, He is coming “soon.” The day and hour wasn’t known, but the season surely was. Similar to when a pregnant woman is set to give birth. If the due date was May 5th and the baby came May 6th, no big deal. But if the due date was May 5th and the baby came October 14th….that would be shocking because when the doctor says the baby will be due 9 months from conception, it is not meant to give you an exact day and hour,…but a round about time. If the baby came 18 months later, something is terribly wrong.
The audience (and the Apostles) fully expected Jesus to come during their lifetime and experience the End of the Jewish age and the birth of the new covenant in the new heaven and earth.
Matthew 24 is the most mis represented portion of scripture…ever. It has led to a doctrine of fear and worry. We have all become what Apostle John Eckhardt calls, “newspaper theologians”. Simply put, every earthquake and rainstorm becomes a part of the Biblical narrative when it is not.
The Bible is a book that gives life, hope and love to everyone! It is up to them to embrace it or reject it. How we came into this amazing New Covenant with Jesus is an incredible story that the Bible is describing to us in many different ways.
God is real, God is Alive and God is just getting started with your life. You do not have to reject facts to make your faith fit in.Just seek after truth, and watch God have His way.
Johnny Ova, on a conference call with Biblical leaders and teachers, goes into an in depth study on the purpose for an end, the coming of the Lord and the Kingdom of God.