My Experience With Intelligent Design & An Overview Of The Movement

I was first exposed to the concept of Intelligent Design [ID], as well as Creationism, during my Junior year of High School. It was at this point that I was taking Biology class, which was beginning to cover the Theory of Evolution. We as a class were shown a video, that I thought might be a propaganda hit piece, which was geared to paint Intelligent Design as “repackaged creationism.” The overall aim in the video was to push the agenda that Intelligent Design doesn’t belong in our schools, and therefore should not be taught in the Science classroom. I recall a statement made by my High School Biology teacher suggesting that Creationism specifically had come about during the 1970’s, and had been refuted. Unless my memory is failing me, I seem to remember my Biology teacher making the connection between Creationism and Intelligent Design.

In spite of the fact that the commentary was entirely negative, I still found the concept of Intelligent Design compelling, and wasn’t entirely swayed by the conclusions of the video. I wanted to know more, and did in fact engage in some limited research. I agreed with the conclusion that life was far too complex to have arisen by what I would later term “naturalistic processes”, and was immediately skeptical of Neo-Darwinian Evolution from the start. Yet in some ways I didn’t fully grasp how to dig into the matter thoroughly, and therefore I did not hear about the concept of “Irreducible Complexity” until after my conversion to Christianity.

During those days of my Junior year, I adopted a position of “Agnosticism.” My brief classification of myself under those beliefs was based largely due to an imperfect understanding of what an Agnostic actually is, derived from a series of conversations between a few perhaps misinformed teenagers during lunch and in-between classes. I was told by a friend that an Agnostic is some one who believes there might be a higher power, but that you are not able to really identify who or what that higher power is. This might be a fairly close definition, but I think still somewhat off. Without really understanding all of the issues involved, I adopted the title merely because I liked the way it sounded in view of the direction the Intelligent Design concept was causing me to swing.

I was slightly discouraged from the concept however when I ran into criticism of ID, particularly using a repackaged variant of the “problem of evil” argument. Nevertheless an awareness of the idea was in the back of my mind, and it opened the door for later research. Fast forward to five years or so after my conversion. A concern about encounters with Atheists has recently motivated me to dig into Apologetics. Somewhere in the midst of all my reading, I stumbled across Intelligent Design again.

I learned that my High School Biology teacher either lied to us or was deceived herself. It was clear that Creationists often criticize Intelligent Design because it doesn’t necessarily land you on the God of the Bible. By contrast, Creationism is geared as a defense of the Bible whereas Intelligent Design takes no stance on the issue. Key Creationist beliefs, such as a 6,000 year old Earth, belief in a Global-Flood, or a literal 24-hour creation week are totally left out of the discussion. In fact, not all of the proponents of Intelligent Design are Christians. Some of them are Agnostics! Some “FAQ” sections of their websites have even stated that you don’t necessarily have to make the deduction that simply because something is intelligently designed, therefore it was supernaturally created.

The Intelligent Design Movement or “IDM” is obviously steering clear from religious questions, focusing instead on scientific investigation. As I devoured scores of Creationist and Intelligent Design Articles, the differences between the two became clear to my mind and I quickly discerned that there was something wrong with what I had been taught in High School. In fact, before I had thought of the possibility that our teacher was deceived herself the thought that they were lying to us crossed my mind. These obvious differences between the two movements were conveniently left out, and we as High School students were indoctrinated to believe that one is a repackaged version of the other. We were spoon-fed what is tantamount to a conspiracy theory that Intelligent Design is a backdoor to get Creationism into Science classrooms, yet my research into the history of the movement showed that it developed independently of Creation Science and well before some of the court rulings banning it from being taught.

I thought that the video shown might be a propaganda hit piece, but I never thought that I would find confirmation! I feel violated, and I even wonder what else in that class was nothing more then an attempt at indoctrination! A friend of mine from Church remarked that the education system is designed to indoctrinate you into naturalism. While I don’t claim to be able to be able to prove such a statement, it certainly makes sense in the light of my own personal experience and the fact that almost all of my friends swung towards Atheism or similar beliefs. I can hardly describe how horrified I actually am!

Yet it’s obvious that their attempts at indoctrination had the exact opposite of the desired effect, because at the time it only triggered me to look into it. Today I know why such a hit piece would be produced. Intelligent Design is powerful and very compelling, and it has convinced me to drop doubts about God’s existence that I at times have struggled with. While it doesn’t necessarily prove the Bible to be true, it certainly falsifies Atheism. In spite of statements by the IDM that you don’t necessarily have to bring in the supernatural, it is something that I personally found very encouraging.

It would seem that the mere fact that I found it encouraging is something which would be used by Intelligent Design’s opponents to make the ridiculous assertion that it is religion and not science. But such an objection would merely be spewed forth on philosophical grounds and not as an evaluation of the actual empirical evidence. In my research thus far, I’ve learned that the “repackaged creationism” label and the “not science” claim are common Darwinian rhetorical strategies and tactics, aimed at maintaining control over the public.

The question then remains, if it doesn’t bring in the supernatural why is it encouraging? How useful is Intelligent Design for the Christian? The work of the ID Movement actually ends up lending Scientific support for one of the classical Apologetics arguments for God’s existence, that being the “Teleological argument” [argument from design.] Thus, it’s research and findings are certainly useful out to a certain point. The fact that it doesn’t bring in the supernatural necessarily or land a person on the God of the Bible definitively means that from here you have more work to do so far as providing evidences in support of Christianity’s truthfulness.

In addition, the IDM has no problem with vast amounts of time for the earth’s age. It’s lack of support for a literal six-day creation week and a global flood means that if you rely on the IDM alone to build your case in support of your beliefs you could end up having more than a few weak spots. This goes back to a previous analogy I gave when addressing Apologetics websites regarding a toolbox. Ultimately this is just one more tool, like a wrench or hammer, to put in your Apologetics toolkit. But it isn’t the sole argument, and it should be remembered that ID Scientists never intended the concept of Intelligent Design to be used as an Apologetic for Christianity.

It should also be noted that thus far Intelligent Design seems to posses the capability of withstanding criticism. In researching some of the arguments raised against it such as the concept of evil design, the panda’s thumb [“sub-optimal” design objection], “who designed the designer” argument, and pre-adaptation/Type-III secretory system arguments I’ve not found them particularly compelling. For instance, “evil design” is a purely theological objection. Somebody merely makes citation of something like viruses or something in nature which appears designed to kill and all of the sudden this simply must refute design.

I find it strange that critics feel as though they must combat Intelligent Design, a strictly empirical approach, with repackaged versions of classical Atheist arguments. Evil design and “who designed the designer” are just dressed-up versions of the “problem of evil” argument and the old schoolyard charge of “who made God”, both of which have been demolished by Christian Apologetics. If such arguments couldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of the Apologetics community, what makes the critics of ID think such strictly theological charges would stand up in this case?

Apparently evil design is only an argument against the goodness of the designer, and therefore doesn’t stand as a convincing case that the life form is not designed. It should also be noted that unless one understands the complete picture of the purpose behind the design, how can one within reason term something “evil”? Spiders for instance are fairly complex creatures, but they also trap and kill insects and are often poisonous. This might seem like evil design on the surface, yet without it perhaps the insect population would explode out of control and become a pretty serious problem. Thus you have something engineered as a population control mechanism, which in this case is not inherently evil. It would more testify to wise planning on the part of the designer rather than wickedness.

Not understanding the full reason of why something was designed can certainly lend to a case of the appearance of evil, but a more complete understanding might perhaps alleviate some of the issues in question. Although not applicable in all cases of apparently evil design, such an argument would theoretically account for some of the problem without bringing theological responses to the table. But even so, there are seemingly evil designs produced by human beings, weapons of warfare [and even mass destruction] being one example. Although designed to kill, they were still designed. Hence “evil” doesn’t really refute the fact that something is the product of design.

It seems more like somebody attempted to throw this charge out in the vain hope that it would present problems for Christians potentially encouraged by Intelligent Design, but in actual fact Christianity is fully-capable of accounting for such things through the fall of man and sin’s impact on the overall creation. Thus a Christian wouldn’t be too discouraged by rehashed Atheist attacks.

Since I linked back to responses to some of the other arguments, I won’t dwell at length on some of the other issues in question. As I personally haven’t found the criticisms compelling, Intelligent Design is therefore something which might be a useful tool in your kit. But it should always be used alongside other arguments and with plenty of research for support. As an article from bethinking notes, you shouldn’t engage in discussions on these issues with those outside the faith armed only with a surface understanding of the issues in question.

Earlier in this article, I noted that my Biology teacher suggested that Creationism came about in the 1970’s and has been refuted. I feel compelled to write about my exploration of creationist articles as well, and so some of the science and reasoning will be addressed in a forthcoming article. But suffice it say I’m not buying into the claims of my Biology teacher in this area either. Making vague references to something being refuted without giving citations or real evidence for support isn’t as convincing of a case as it sounds on the surface.

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A Review Of Apologetics Websites

I’ve never been one to flee from deep research. Regarding Conditional Immortality, I once built a document containing up to 63-64 pages worth of content in E-sword notes. I have a tendency to thoroughly investigate material when a subject captures my attention, and I’ve always found joy in reading. Lately, in my research I’ve begun turning my attention to Apologetics based materials, especially websites with apparently endless amounts of articles, videos, podcasts, and recordings. Perhaps there is more content related to this subject than I could reasonably study in a lifetime’s worth of investigation.

Therefore my probe into the subject has yielded a wealth of data. Much of it will impact future posts on this blog, but for the time being I felt I might share with you some of the websites from which I have been reading. However, I do not do so without leaving you with a disclaimer. I do not endorse everything that these websites teach. As an example, surrounding the creation vs evolution debate you will find that some of these websites promote old earth creation/theistic evolution-based positions. I personally do not agree with this. Some of them also attempt to support the concept of eternal conscious torment through logic. While the arguments are certainly interesting, I do not agree with or endorse these positions either. In fact, some of this material will be countered on my blog at a future time.

But in all reality, as I recently wrote, you should be thinking these issues through for yourself. Apply discernment and critical thinking skills to any information which comes in, and allow no man, no matter how good his arguments appear, to be brains for you. If something does not harmonize with Scripture, reject it. Some may ask, “why link back to the websites at all, if you know they teach error or messages you don’t agree with?” Those with whom I am personally acquainted may especially feel compelled to ask such questions. The facts are however that these websites are featured because they contain information which is useful for defending Christianity as a whole. They cover a wide variety of topics related to these issues, and thus their overall value should not be denied so far as a useful tool in a defense of the faith.

There are multiple tools for different jobs. Some good examples are a wrench, screwdriver, hammer, drill, and so on. You wouldn’t use a wrench or a screwdriver to nail boards together. These websites are similar. Some of them have information and arguments that others do not. Others seem to be geared towards specific topics [such as the Creation vs Evolution debate]. If something is focused on a particular topic, you would not want to search it for answers refuting the way skeptics use the so-called “lost-books”, neither would you find much in the way of information actually training you to do Apologetics yourself. Think of the websites as tools for your “Apologetics toolkit” to be applied to the needs of differing situations and questions.

That said, the first website on the list is “Answers In Genesis” [AiG for short.] AiG is a fantastic website. I’ve made it my “go-to” website for issues surrounding creation vs evolution, although I’m aware of several others which cover this topic that I’ve yet to thoroughly explore. There are dozens of articles on their website covering this topic, and also some which are a decent introduction to Apologetics as a whole. They even wrote a superb article about giants in the Bible, which is a question few Apologetics websites will touch. In fact, AiG is the only one that I’ve seen actually address this issue. Although much of the information is technical, they also have a scholarly research journal which can be useful for keeping yourself up to date on some of those issues.

The next one on the list is “Apologetics Press” [AP for short.] Like AiG, AP has a wealth of articles on the creation vs Evolution debate. It also has quite a few articles going over “alleged discrepancies” in the Bible and God’s existence among a treasure trove of other articles. In addition, there are several books which the website owners have produced and made available for free download in PDF file format. I’ve yet to read them all the way through for myself, so I won’t recommend them right off the bat, but they may have their uses.

The third website is known as “Reasonable Faith.” Reasonable Faith is run by a man named William Lane Craig, who I would classify as a very good Apologist. At the same time, he swings more towards the theistic evolution side of the question within Christianity. Nevertheless, he offers interesting logical arguments for God’s existence with scholarly papers written explaining and defending them for perusal on his website. You will also find articles defending the existence/historicity of Jesus and his resurrection, which is a powerful argument in favor of Christianity. There are many other podcasts, videos, recorded lectures, and so on available on his website as well. Although I’ve yet to view any of them, as watching media hasn’t been something that I’ve typically classed as fitting my learning style. In spite of his bent towards Theistic Evolution, I’ve found high-quality materials covering other topics on his website.

There is also “Cold Case Christianity” run by a man named J. Werner Wallace. He is a former Atheist and “cold case detective” who applied his investigative skills to Christianity and the Bible to determine if there was enough evidence to reasonably hold religious beliefs. I suspect this was an attempt to discredit the Bible, which ultimately wound up with him becoming a Christian Apologist. I’ve found a wealth of information on this website dealing with the question of Biblical manuscripts, the historicity of the Bible, and other topics. Many articles can be downloaded in PDF format, which makes it easy to save the information for later use.

Logically Fallacious” is another website I’ve found uses for. You will find that this website is not particularly geared towards defending Christianity per-se, but it has it’s uses in this direction. This is because as the name suggests, it covers the subject of Logical Fallacies. Logical fallacies, or mistakes in reasoning, are often made by those who oppose Christianity. They thus have their uses in responding to criticisms leveled at the Bible or Christian belief by Atheists or other skeptics. Logically Fallacious is actually an in-depth database of logical fallacies. So, it is fantastic website for educating yourself in this direction or for use as an online encyclopedia of logical fallacies.

Cross Examined” is another website which I’ve found to be invaluable. I’ve been especially blessed by the “blog” section of the website, which includes many well-written articles on a variety of topics including the “Problem of Evil”, God’s existence, Manuscript/Lost Books-related issues, Faith vs Science issues, and many other helpful topics. Some other websites I’ve found and used came from the “Resources” section of this website, which has a “links” page opening the door for you to explore the content of other Apologetics based websites. Cross examined also has a smartphone app, which is very powerful for times when you need fast answers and good for when you have some time to kill.

Finally, of the four websites where I started my research [one being AiG], I’ve decided to feature the last two to close things out. One is known as “Bethinking.” Bethinking is excellent because it allows you to compare other religions with Christianity, engage with the debate on varying issues, and explore a wide variety of topics. It includes articles, audio recordings, and videos thus hitting various preferences. Those who don’t like reading could find the website equally as helpful as those who do in view of these facts. The last is RZIM, which is the website of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry. While there are articles on this website, I’ve found the better content in audio or video format, which has often caused me to spend more time with other websites as I prefer to read rather than watch or listen. There however is also a forums set up where people ask the RZIM team Apologetics related questions. This is very helpful if you’re seeking answers to specific issues, or want direct feedback about a question.

These websites are just a small taste of what I’ve been reading. When you actually take the time to sit down and look, the sheer amount of blogs and websites that are out there covering Apologetics related materials is almost overwhelming. I have found myself “swimming” in information, unfortunately perhaps more than I actually have the time to read through. I hope that you might be as blessed by these websites as I have been, and that you can see the truthfulness of Christian belief through them.

Thinking For Yourself

In the post titled “A Radical Suggestion“, I’ve outlined an approach to dealing with concepts such as the pre-tribulation rapture, the debate about the rapture’s sequence [pre-trib, post-trib, or mid-trib], and other issues related to end times teaching. I want to develop these suggestions further, and expand this concept well beyond the rapture. It should be noted that teachings with regards to final events are not the only doctrinal positions for which there is massive debate within Christian circles.

Some other examples come down to issues such as the three major schools of thought on final punishments. The traditional view of eternal conscious torment, Conditional Immortality, and Universalism form these three schools. With regards to Prophecy, some of the major schools of thought include Historicism, Futurism, and Preterism. Not to mention those who follow “Progressive Christianity” type thinking have thrown out prophecy entirely, claiming that it is not predictive in it’s character. There is even a debate between those who hold to Calvinistic type beliefs and the Arminian school of thought, with others leaning towards Molinism.

Variation doesn’t just exist surrounding prophetic interpretation, but perhaps virtually every doctrine within Christianity. It would seem there are beliefs within the faith that are as numerous as there are denominations. On the one hand, this may not be as confusing as the variation regarding prophetic interpretation. Most choose to listen to their pastor rather than conducting their own research, or they study with a sort of spiritual “Confirmation Bias.”

The challenge really comes down to deeply entrenched beliefs. Regardless of whether or not the Bible discredits them, people will read them into the Bible. Even to the point of ripping passages out of context, interpreting the text with Esiegesis, and focusing in only on texts that support their thinking while ignoring everything else. I would even dare say that such beliefs lead to accusing the opposing side of doing those very things, whether they actually are or not. People have a tendency to build justifications for practices and beliefs which they may know are wrong, but which they have no desire to abandon.

In view of such a deep entrenchment within people’s thinking, I don’t imagine that those who hold to particular beliefs such as: the pre-tribulation rapture, Calvinism, Preterism, Eternal Conscious Torment, Universalism, or “Progressive Christianity” will be willing to accept my challenges and radical suggestions. I can expect within reason that they would either be offended, or take it on but because of a “spiritual confirmation bias” come back with evidence that supports their thinking every single time. No doubt, such persons are not confused about the variation of beliefs within Christianity. They’re so convinced of their deeply held beliefs that the word “entrenched” couldn’t describe the situation better, as this definitely implies a deliberate effort to fortify those beliefs against any attempts at discrediting them from the Bible.

My attention is more on the seeker after truth. I define this as a person with an open mind and heart. We’re talking about somebody who is seeking to know what the Bible teaches, without bias from any particular church dogma. That seeker after truth is a person not only willing to do the research and think for themself, but to surrender ideas they hold to which may not have a foundation in the Scriptures, and to lay aside practices which may not be inherently right. This person might also be willing to start literally from square one.

I want to issue something of a rallying cry to Christians everywhere. That cry is simply to think for yourself. Do not allow anyone, whether it be a pastor, elder, blogger, or some prominent teacher to interpret Scripture for you. Understand that during the days just before the Protestant Reformation, the Church taught that only the priests were competant to explain and interpret the Scriptures. Remember that such a teaching gives the church power over the lay people. It also creates a situation where in effect, you may end up following the clergy over the Bible.

We should not follow the opinions of the “learned” within Christianity as though they’re absolute truth. Neither should our pastors be placed in a similar position, where they’re given a level of trust that should be attributed to God alone. Instead all teachers, whether pastors or theologians, should be thoroughly fact-checked by the Scriptures. Their sermons and teachings should be subjected to a high level of scrutiny to determine whether or not there is truth in it, lest one be in danger of accepting doctrines and ideas potentially threatening to one’s salvation. Although lies may not be around every corner, every precaution should be exercised and discernment should be practiced rather than adopting the position of a “doctrinal sponge” where everything is accepted blindly without critical thought.

Some have at times gone to the opposite extreme. Instead of total reliance on the minister, they’ve generated theories which are not in God’s word. Speculation and theorizing have been indulged in by many, who perhaps might be seeking something to gratify the imagination over Scriptural truth. Much of this is borderline Esiegesis, but it should be noted that this is more likely what Scripture targeted when it spoke negatively of “private interpretations.” God is the source of the true interpretation of the Bible, and hence we must always come to him in prayer in order for the Holy Spirit in order to properly interpret the word of God.

But thinking for yourself when it comes to the interpretation of Scripture is important. You should not allow others to investigate, pray, research, and think for you. Satan may work in this way to control the minds of the people, locking Christians into false beliefs and deceptions through the use of some prominent Theologian whose teachings are accepted as authority over the Bible. No doubt, Christians should faithfully study the Scriptures to discern if things they hear at Church are true, practicing discernment. But also doctrines that are spread wide throughout Christianity should pass the Bible test.

To test a doctrine, you must study it carefully and prayerfully. The Bible should be approached without a “spiritual confirmation bias” where you’re ready to gather up evidence to support your pre-existing beliefs. In fact, every preconceived idea about a subject should be laid at the door of investigation. Then and only then can you arrive at accurate conclusions when researching any subject from the Bible. As originally suggested, lay aside all Bible commentaries. Even reference works should be set aside if you have the slightest suspicion that they may color your interpretation of the Bible. Any other books, sermons, or articles which speak on the subject should be set aside as well.

Begin with the key verses used to support a particular belief or doctrinal view. Lay aside all interpretations that have been read into the passage and research the context, pay close attention to the exact words to see if a text as been read Esiegetically, and carry out a comparison with other texts found elsewhere in the Scriptures. Use the lexicons which your concordance or Bible software may come equipped with to see if there is anything behind the Greek or Hebrew which helps to address the way the text has been perverted. You might also write out a list of key words or terms which are along the same subject matter and carefully research every Bible passage you can find which speaks about the subject. In this manner, through careful self-study, you will have a better grounding for your beliefs.

 

A Radical Suggestion

Lately I’ve come to rely on the WordPress.com Reader, which has left me sifting through large amounts of blog posts daily as I try to engage in conversation with other bloggers. Having a special interest in Bible Prophecy as can be seen by what I’ve been posting on my own blog lately, I’ve found myself upon occasion searching up terms like “End Times”, “Matthew 24”, or “Second Coming.” A vast sea of ideas and beliefs about these subjects can be found on Word Press alone.

The concept of the Rapture, the seven years of tribulation, and the debate as to when the Rapture will take place have stuck out prominently to me as I’ve searched through the various posts on Word Press. Reading some of this material, at times it feels as if my heart sinks. I have a burden for my Christian brethren who hold to these beliefs about the final events of this earth’s history. In fact, this is why I’ve put as much emphasis on it as I have in my commentary on Matthew 24.

There is a very real danger to these ideas, especially the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture, which is not sensed by those who hold them. It is based on the idea that they will be extracted from this earth by God, and therefore will not have to endure the persecutions and deceptions of the last days. This would leave them unprepared to engage in conflict with these things, which would hit them in such a manner that it would be as if these things had never been revealed in Scripture. Some have been burdened, worried that they might be “left behind” when the Lord returns, while others would be raptured away to heaven.

The debate as to whether or not the Rapture will occur prior to the tribulation, in the middle of the tribulation, or after the tribulation at times has caused much confusion to honest Bible Students seeking to understand Prophecy for themselves. Combined with the cryptic nature of some of these Prophecies found in the books of Daniel & Revelation, as well as the gospels and other books of the Scriptures, the task of attempting to understand final events can often seem daunting.

I want to propose some radical suggestions. If the Rapture of the faithful prior to the tribulation, and this concept of seven years of tribulation are apart of your belief system than you might be upset by what I’m about to say. Unfortunately sometimes toes need to be stepped on when the truth is spoken. This would be therefore your official disclaimer. Otherwise you might be blessed by my suggestions, especially if you’ve been confused about these issues.

For those that are confused, I would first counsel you to abandon the Rapture entirely. Lay aside all of your preconceived ideas about it, and anything you may have heard from the pulpit with regards to this subject. Just the same, I would suggest that you set aside any ideas about a seven-year period of tribulation, a future one-man hitler antichrist, a rebuilt Jewish temple, and the entire chronology of events you’ve always heard about. [Whether or not it will be pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post tribulation.] Ask yourself some questions, “is any of this really true? Is this what the Bible really teaches about the end of the world?” My counsel to you essentially boils right down to the request that you stop approaching the Bible with the assumption these things are taught in Scripture.

Afterwards, I want you to lay aside all Bible commentaries and books you may have purchased about last day events. This includes novels, especially the left behind series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins. But any novels or movies about the end of time need to be set aside. Your next task from here will be to set aside all sermons on this topic, YouTube videos, audio recordings, and even presentations you have attended in person at your own church. You do not want to study your Bible through the eyes of your Pastor, Theologians, or ‘teachers’ that you may have heard. Otherwise you will end up simply accepting their views as ‘truth’ whether it is or is not, and may not be able to see things in Scripture as they actually are.

From there your task is to sit down with your Bible and a Concordance. The search engine E-sword comes equipped with is also a good option. Begin with earnest prayer for light on the matter and commence a deep dive into your Bible. Use the Concordance or Bible search engine to find everything you possibly can in the Scriptures that has any bearing on the subject of last day events or the second coming of Christ. Then I want you to line up every single passage before you form your conclusions, and watch how each text adds details to and complements the other. Research everything you can possibly find in the Bible on the matter. Especially view proof-texts which are used in Support of these teachings with a degree of skepticism. Ask yourself, “is this really what the verse is saying?” Check to see if such passages have been studied in context, read with Eisegesis [reading something into a text which isn’t there], or studied in view of other passages.

Once you finish, ask yourself the same questions as you did at the beginning. “Is any of this really true? Is this what the Bible really teaches about the end of the world?” When you come to the Lord in prayer over the matter ask him repeatedly and persistently if these views are true and found in the Scriptures. These prayers should be combined with your in-depth Biblical research project on the matter.

If you struggle to understand prophecy because of its cryptic nature, than focus on the plain passages of the Bible first. Not every prophetic text in the Scriptures is highly symbolic. A good place to start would be the gospels, going over Christ’s teachings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John regarding the second coming and the end of time. When you come across a passage of Scripture which seems to support these views, compare it with other passages to see if an alternative explanation can be found. This would not be to get around it’ but instead to determine if the text has been interpreted properly.

It all boils down to this. If you’re confused about it, stop being so reliant on teachers in your church or particular denomination and research it for yourself. Do your own thinking, and stop reading the Bible through the lens of what others say about it. For those that have held a strong belief in this school of prophetic interpretation my only suggestion for you is take a look at the evidences which will be posted on this blog countering those viewpoints and study them prayerfully.

This has been addressed already through these two pages, and this article. In addition, my commentary on Matthew 24 presents some limited evidence against this thinking in parts 1 and 2. If this is your traditional thinking about Prophecy, if you’ve long-held this belief and look at it as gospel truth, than I only ask that you take a candid look at the evidence which I do and will present on this blog, and reconsider your position.

Matthew 24 – Part 3

“Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” – Matthew 24:15-18

“Then let them which be in Judaea” the word ‘Judaea’ in this sense is key. It helps to pinpoint the original context of the instruction that follows, that being the statements regarding the housetop and clothes. The word ‘Judaea’ according to Strong’s concordance Greek Lexicon, as shown below, is in reference to a region of Palestine. Christ was suggesting that once the recognized sign was seen, that being the armies which were to surround Jerusalem as shown in the previous post, then his followers were to flee.

It is interesting to note that Jerusalem was attacked and sieged twice in the years after Christ’s death on the cross. The first was conducted by a Roman general named Cestius, who attacked and surrounded the city. When everything was favorable for him to take it, he and his armies retreated without explanation. The Christians who were living in the areas surrounding Jerusalem and inside the city itself at this time recognized this as the sign Jesus warned about [Luke 21:20-21, Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14] and fled the region into the mountains just as Christ had given instruction. Flavius Josephus, in his book “Wars of Jews” writes of this occurrence regarding Cestius’ retreat. The translators of his book, who are apparently Christian, seemed to also recognize a fulfilment of this particular prophecy in question when it comes to Josephus’ descriptions of the event.

In addition, Josephus also describes soldiers led by Titus planting their ensigns and worshipping them outside of the temple gate. Roman ensigns were known to have an eagle on them, which had some connection to idolatrous worship. The translators of Josephus’ book evidently also recognized in this a fulfilment of the words of Christ found in Matthew 24:15. It is important to keep these historical fulfilments of prophecy in mind, as they help to add context to the phrase “Judaea” found in verse 15.

G2449
Ἰουδαία
Ioudaia
ee-oo-dah’-yah
Feminine of G2453 (with G1093 implied); the Judaean land (that is, judaea), a region of Palestine: – Juda.

“7. It then happened that Cestius was not conscious either how the besieged despaired of success, nor how courageous the people were for him; and so he recalled his soldiers from the place, and by despairing of any expectation of taking it, without having received any disgrace, he retired from the city, without any reason in the world. But when the robbers perceived this unexpected retreat of his, they resumed their courage, and ran after the hinder parts of his army, and destroyed a considerable number of both their horsemen and footmen; and now Cestius lay all night at the camp which was at Scopus; and as he went off farther next day, he thereby invited the enemy to follow him, who still fell upon the hindmost, and destroyed them; they also fell upon the flank on each side of the army, and threw darts upon them obliquely, nor durst those that were hindmost turn back upon those who wounded them behind, as imagining that the multitude of those that pursued them was immense; nor did they venture to drive away those that pressed upon them on each side, because they were heavy with their arms, and were afraid of breaking their ranks to pieces, and because they saw the Jews were light, and ready for making incursions upon them. And this was the reason why the Romans suffered greatly, without being able to revenge themselves upon their enemies; so they were galled all the way, and their ranks were put into disorder, and those that were thus put out of their ranks were slain; among whom were Priscus, the commander of the sixth legion, and Longinus, the tribune, and Emilius Secundus, the commander of a troop of horsemen. So it was not without difficulty that they got to Gabao, their former camp, and that not without the loss of a great part of their baggage. There it was that Cestius staid two days, and was in great distress to know what he should do in these circumstances; but when on the third day he saw a still much greater number of enemies, and all the parts round about him full of Jews, he understood that his delay was to his own detriment, and that if he staid any longer there, he should have still more enemies upon him.

End notes

(30) There may another very important, and very providential, reason be here assigned for this strange and foolish retreat of Cestius; which, if Josephus had been now a Christian, he might probably have taken notice of also; and that is, the affording the Jewish Christians in the city an opportunity of calling to mind the prediction and caution given them by Christ about thirty-three years and a half before, that “when they should see the abomination of desolation” [the idolatrous Roman armies, with the images of their idols in their ensigns, ready to lay Jerusalem desolate] “stand where it ought not;” or, “in the holy place;” or, “when they should see Jerusalem any one instance of a more unpolitic, but more providential, compassed with armies;” they should then “flee to the mound conduct than this retreat of Cestius visible during this whole rains.” By complying with which those Jewish Christians fled I siege of Jerusalem; which yet was providentially such a “great to the mountains of Perea, and escaped this destruction. See tribulation, as had not been from the beginning of the world to that time; no, Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 69, 70. Nor was there, perhaps, nor ever should be.”–Ibid. p. 70, 71.” – Flavius Josephus, Wars of The Jews, book 2, Ch 19 [with translator’s note] 

“1. AND now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple (24) and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator (25) with the greatest acclamations of joy. And now all the soldiers had such vast quantities of the spoils which they had gotten by plunder, that in Syria a pound weight of gold was sold for half its former value. But as for those priests that kept themselves still upon the wall of the holy house, (26) there was a boy that, out of the thirst he was in, desired some of the Roman guards to give him their right hands as a security for his life, and confessed he was very thirsty. These guards commiserated his age, and the distress he was in, and gave him their right hands accordingly. So he came down himself, and drank some water, and filled the vessel he had with him when he came to them with water, and then went off, and fled away to his own friends; nor could any of those guards overtake him; but still they reproached him for his perfidiousness. To which he made this answer: “I have not broken the agreement; for the security I had given me was not in order to my staying with you, but only in order to my coming down safely, and taking up some water; both which things I have performed, and thereupon think myself to have been faithful to my engagement.” Hereupon those whom the child had imposed upon admired at his cunning, and that on account of his age. On the fifth day afterward, the priests that were pined with the famine came down, and when they were brought to Titus by the guards, they begged for their lives; but he replied, that the time of pardon was over as to them, and that this very holy house, on whose account only they could justly hope to be preserved, was destroyed; and that it was agreeable to their office that priests should perish with the house itself to which they belonged. So he ordered them to be put to death.” – Flavius Josephus, Wars Of The Jews, Book 6, Ch 6

The instruction to flee to the mountains, much like the abomination of desolation, has been recognized by some as having a duel application. The 1st being as noted, where Christ’s followers were to flee to the mountains before the destruction of Jerusalem. The second being for us today, that as we see the garbage of the last days occurring we’re to flee into the mountains. This is a possible conclusion, given the overall context of Matthew 24 surrounding the original question of the disciples. It would especially be applicable as one observes the future fulfilment of the abomination of desolation taking place. At that point, it may be time for God’s people as well to flee into the mountains.

The word “Judaea” however places the instruction of Jesus found in Matthew 24 under a more direct context of the destruction of Jerusalem. This was shown from its Greek meaning to be a region of Palestine, which is certainly not a place that most of us live [unless you happen to be reading this blog post from modern-day Israel/Palestine.] Therefore the instructions with regards to clothing and not taking anything out of your house would logically have this context as well. Note especially that you can draw this point by a comparison with similar instructions found in Luke 21:21-22.

It is interesting to note that the word translated as “clothes” in the King James Version has been translated as “coat” in the ISV, “cloak” in the ASV, and “cloke” again in the RV. All three texts in question have been produced below, along with the Greek meaning of the word which offers some explanation of this. The reality is that the word “Clothes” as found in Matthew 24:17 was referring to perhaps specific articles of clothing, in this sense taking time to secure these items rather than fleeing when time was of the essence. Especially the words “return back” stick out, as the suggestion carried by these words is that the Christian was not to return to acquire anything, but to flee immediately.

“Anyone who’s on the housetop must not come down to get what is in his house, and anyone who’s in the field must not turn back to get his coat.” – Matthew 24:17-18 ISV

“let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house: and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak.” – Matthew 24:17-18 ASV

“let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house: and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloke.” – Matthew 24:17-18 RV

G2440
ἱμάτιον
himation
him-at’-ee-on
Neuter of a presumed derivative of ἕννυμι hennumi (to put on); a dress (inner or outer): – apparel, cloke, clothes, garment, raiment, robe, vesture.

The calamity originally foretold, that being the destruction of Jerusalem, was apparently such a situation that time should not have been spent in attempting to acquire things. But instead their flight was to occur immediately. It is probable that as we approach the final events of this earth’s history, Christians may not have time to gather their things together, but instead should simply flee without delay.

It should be noted that similar instructions appear in Luke 17:31-32. Only aspects involving the retrieval of articles of clothing are missing, with instead a warning to “Remember Lot’s Wife.” In Genesis 19:17-26, there is a brief account of this particular story. Lot and his family were told specifically to not look back at Sodom and Gomorrah, neither were they to remain in the plain, but they were to escape for their lives. Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. It is likely that she was still attached to the city, and looked back with the thought or hope of returning. This attachment logically caused this episode with being turned into a pillar of salt.

It should especially be noted that verses 28-30 of Luke 17 add context stating, “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the son of man is revealed.” Verse 30 especially places these Scriptures into an end times/second coming context. These words of Jesus in verses 31-32, and the statements in Matthew 24:15-18 are both essentially saying “do not turn back for anything when you make your flight.” This would perhaps be the best way to summarize the overall point of the instruction.

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” – Matthew 24:19-22

Verse 19 targets those who are pregnant or who are nursing children, hence “them that are with child, and to them that give suck.” A “woe” is pronounced on them that are in this state during the destruction of Jerusalem. Given verse 15, which references “Judaea” [a region of Palestine] the destruction of Jerusalem would be the overall context of this woe or warning.

The statement with regards to the Sabbath which follows is especially interesting. The Christians living in Jerusalem were to pray that their flight was neither in winter, nor on the Sabbath day. The majority of Christians today believe that the Sabbath [that being the 7th Day or Saturday] was nailed to the cross. There is of course no harmony whatsoever with this thinking, and the fact that Jesus instructed his followers to pray that their flight from the destruction of Jerusalem was not to take place on the Sabbath. Such instruction clearly implies an assumption on the part of Christ that it would be kept at this time, and therefore the Christians should pray that they would not have to flee on the Sabbath.

The word “For” in verse 21 suggests that the reason for the previous two passages worth of instruction was that there would be “great tribulation.” It should be noted that the wording of this statement from Christ shares some similarities to a passage in the book of Daniel, which references a “time of trouble.” I’ve underlined both texts below in order to make the striking similarities between these verses stick out.

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” – Matthew 24:21

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” – Daniel 12:1

In view of the overall context of Matthew 24 from the disciples’ original question, there are two ways in which I would apply verse 21.

  1. To the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
  2. To the time of trouble foretold in Daniel 12:1.

These applications harmonize with the original context of Matthew 24 found in verses 1-3, and the immediate context found in verses 15-16. The logical deduction also is that when the words “Immediately after the tribulation” are used in Matthew 24:29 later on, Jesus had the same period in view. At this point, it should be noted that some Scholars and Bible students have connected this tribulation foretold in Matthew 24 to the 1260 day prophecy which makes an appearance at various locations across the Scriptures. One of which is of course Daniel 7:25. [Stay tuned, posts on this are forthcoming.]

I have no quarrel with those who hold to these beliefs. If you personally hold to this thinking, and can produce sufficient and convincing Scriptural evidence to make your case, it perhaps can be added to the numbered list above of applications for verse 21. If you connect the 1260 days to the tribulation foretold in Matthew I’m open to you making your case in the comments section of this post. But points 1 & 2 in my mind are quite solid and will probably remain. The shared wording between Daniel 12:1 & Matthew 24:15 coupled with the overall context gives too much support for such a position to be reversed at this point in time.

The point arrived at next is the shortening of the days, which appears in verse 22. It is noted that the time of trouble, or “great tribulation” is predicted to be “shortened.” This is done strictly for the salvation of the elect. Evidently the time of trouble is so bad that if it were allowed to continue going on nobody would have salvation because of the intensity of the ordeal. With salvation obviously in view from the phrase “there should no flesh be saved” [unless this statement is targeting the literal preservation of one’s life] the statement in regards to the shortening of days is not a literal shortening [a day going from 24 hours to 6 hours], but instead a statement targeting the overall length of the ordeal.

“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, behold he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” – Matthew 24:23-26

Verse 23 clearly mirrors earlier instruction given near the beginning of the chapter, with regards to those who would claim to be Jesus. [Matthew 24:4-5.] In this sense it seems to be applied to those who would claim to have seen him here or there. Christ here tells us not to believe anyone claiming that Christ is to be found at specified locations here on earth, as though he has already come. In the verses that follow, he goes so far as to target some very specific things, such as the desert or secret chambers.

Evidently this wording implies attempts by the powers of darkness to counterfeit the second coming. Their efforts take on the appearance of showing up here or there, and having been seen at this or that location. But in reality this does not come close to matching the direct manner of the second coming. It should be observed that in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we’re told that he shall “descend from heaven with a shout” with the “voice of the archangel” and the “dead in Christ shall rise first.” 

The event which follows is that “then we which are alive and remain are caught up together with them [being the dead in christ] in the clouds.” Therefore it is logical to conclude that Christ will not touch the ground, that we will not have to go out of our way to some place where he has come secretly [hence “secret chambers”], and that there will not have to be a major effort on our part to go find him. The book of Revelation even goes so far as to suggest that “every eye will see him” [Revelation 1:7.]

The statement which follows in Matthew 24 suggests that false Christs and false prophets shall arise, both of which were warned about in previous passages. They’re described as showing “great signs and wonders”. Then the words which follow are, “insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The word “great” is an obvious statement of size and intensity, indicating the seriousness of the signs and wonders produced by the false Christs and Prophets. The miraculous phenomenon produced by these persons will be so great that the very elect, if not grounded in Scripture, could be endangered by it.

In the book of Deuteronomy, we’re essentially told that miracles alone are no test as to whether or not some one is a true or false prophet. Matthew 7 provides the test of the fruits, and Isaiah 8:20 admonishes us to test everything by our Bibles. We should not accept the messages of anyone professing to be a prophet unless we’re certain that they pass Scriptural tests of the prophetic office. [Deuteronomy 13:1-4.]

Zero back in on the phrase “great signs and wonders” and “the very elect.” For a moment, contemplate these statements. Most Christians regard some one such as Joseph Smith with a high degree of suspicion. In fact, very few ‘modern prophets’ last long before receiving the title of “false prophet.” Their messages tend to not survive debunking by believers. Yet these prophets foretold by Christ are such a threat at the end of time that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The implication is that something much more sinister than old Joe Smith is around the corner, something which Christians of long-standing who’re normally suspicious of anyone professing to be a prophet may be deceived by.

Than it is of the utmost importance that we practice discernment. It starts with us testing those who preach from the pulpit and by us gaining a thorough knowledge of the word. Then when some one comes and tells us something different from the Bible, we may instantly know where they’re in error, when they’ve read a text with Esiegesis, and when something has been taken out of context to support error. Unfortunately, in a previous post I’ve detailed how we as Christians are in trouble in this area.

“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” – Matthew 24:26-28

The flash of lightning is bright, visible, and powerful. It comes with the roar of rolling thunder, making it equally audible. During some thunder storms, I personally have witnessed a bright blue flash penetrate the curtains and windows of my home at night as it lights up the sky. This representation of lightning is obviously meant to convey the idea that the second coming is not a secret, it is not some hidden thing in which Jesus will show up in some guy’s secret chambers, or show up here or there.

It will be loud, visible, audible, and so powerful that everyone will see it. [Revelation 1:7.] Lightning is probably one of the most powerful object lessons from nature Christ could have drawn to paint a proper picture of his second coming. The people who every once in a while appear on the scene claiming to be Christ do not in any way come close to the sheer power of the event, which according to other Scriptures as we will see will rock this earth and strike terror into the hearts of those who do not obey the gospel.

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The next statement of Christ seems cryptic, and not easily understood. What did he mean when he said, “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together”? The term “eagles” bears some similarities to descriptions found in the book of Revelation, particularly around chapter 19, which is also speaking about the second coming of Christ.

In verses 17-18 specifically, we find statements which help unravel the meaning of Christ’s apparent cryptic language. “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.” – Revelation 19:17-18. 

In these texts the “fowls” [which are birds] are invited to feast on the flesh of kings, captains, mighty men, and horses. The language employed here yet again paints a picture of birds feasting on carrion. This is even verified as you scroll down to verse 21 in which you find the statement, “And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” – Revelation 19:21

While a sword in the symbolic language of the Scriptures often represents the word of God [Hebrews 4:12], it is clear from other texts of Scripture that the wicked will be slain during the second coming. In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, Jesus is described as taking vengeance in “flaming fire” on “them that know not God and obey not the gospel.” This mirrors the way that the man of sin is slain by the “brightness of his coming.” [2 Thessalonians 2:8-9]. The reason behind the ‘super of the birds’ in Revelation 19 and Christ’s illustration of birds feasting upon carrion in Matthew 24 is simple. It is because the wicked will be destroyed at this point, slain and then reserved for their final punishment at a later time.

These texts of Scripture make it clear that there is no universal salvation. The entire world will not be converted before the coming of Christ, as some have taught in times past. But instead those who persistently refuse the gift of salvation offered by Jesus and his death on the cross will eventually be slain at the climax of this earth’s history. The choice that we have is one road or the other.


Part 4 will pick up from verse 29.

Matthew 24 – Part 2

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” – Matthew 24:14-16

These statements of Christ have been the subject of much speculation and confusion within Christendom. They’ve been interpreted to reference Antiochus IV Epiphanes who apparently sacrificed a pig in the temple and caused some problems for the Jews during the time period of the seleucid empire. Others believe this statement of Jesus refers to a future antichirst. It seems speculation and confusion abound when cryptic statements and symbolism are used in the Bible. This is most unfortunate as it often makes the task of the Bible Student difficult, especially as people fight tooth and nail for cherished theories and belief systems.

Proper deductions about what Jesus may be speaking about can first be gathered from the original context of Matthew 24, found in his statements about the temple in verses 1-2 and the question asked by the disciples in verse 3. Referring to the temple you may recall that Jesus said, “there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down” which prompted the disciples to ask “when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” 

Based on this original context, it stands to reason thus that whatever the abomination is it automatically can be read as 1. A specific sign of the coming of Christ and 2. Something which relates to the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The text which immediately follows directly references “Judaea”, which Strong’s helps us make the deduction of as being “a region of palestine.” The instructions Christ was giving with regards to the abomination of desolation had direct application for Christians who were occupying this area at one particular point in time.

G2449
Ἰουδαία
Ioudaia
ee-oo-dah’-yah
Feminine of G2453 (with G1093 implied); the Judaean land (that is, judaea), a region of Palestine: – Juda.

It should be noted that Antiochus IV Epiphanes as a fulfilment of this text is eliminated for several reasons. First, this is outside of the original context of Matthew 24, which as shown relates to both the end of time and the future destruction of the Jewish temple. Antiochus has nothing to do with either event. At most, he historically sacrificed a pig inside of the temple and stirred up a hornet’s nest among the Jews [in the form of the Maccabees], but his actions would have no significance for Christians living in the time period after Christ, and thus could have no influence on their need to flee. Verse 16 therefore constitutes the second reason why this interpretation doesn’t fit the specifications of the text.

The third reason may be found in the timing of these events. Antiochus IV Epiphanes commited his actions well before Christ was ever on the scene. This can be demonstrated from the fact that some basic research on the man demonstrates that he was a king of the Seleucid Empire. The territory he would’ve been active in during his time was controlled by the Romans during the time of Christ. [Luke 2:1, Luke 3:1.] Since one existed well before the other, and Christ was obviously referring to something which in context had an application for those listening and us today, Antiochus IV Epiphanes has to be ruled out. He should be eliminated also on the grounds that it makes about zero sense that Scripture would put so much emphasis on an event which has of little consequence for us today.

The question of whether or not the abomination of desolation relates to a future antichrist at this point remains to be seen. Perhaps this may also be eliminated by the phrase “Judaea” in the passage which follows, although this statement given the original context of Matthew 24 cannot apply to that area and time period alone. In order to understand the meaning of this phrase, Christ gives us a clue as to where we may find answers. He states, “spoken of by Daniel the prophet.” The book of Daniel therefore logically holds the keys to understanding this symbol. In addition, the synoptic gospels may also hold keys which help unlock these mysterious statements of Christ.

Christians are not to be discouraged by this cryptic statement spoken by our Lord and savior. Christ plainly states in the passage “whoso readeth let him understand.” This implies strongly that we as Christians were meant to have an understanding of this passage. It is almost identical to the blessing pronounced on those who attempt to understand and read the book of Revelation. [Revelation 1:3.] Therefore in spite of it’s cryptic nature it can in fact be understood.

Other versions of this passage from the synoptic gospels do in fact provide more information. Notice especially that Luke 21 uses the same language of “desolation” but connects this terminology directly to armies that surround Jerusalem. A comparison of all three versions of this text shows that they all contain similar instruction, that once the predetermined sign was seen than those who were in Judaea should flee into the mountains.

The connections between Luke 21 and Matthew 24 are quite clear. Beyond the word “desolation” the setting of Jerusalem is mentioned, right before similar instruction is given immediately after Jerusalem is described as being compassed with armies. Other than being one of the synoptic gospels, Luke 21:20-21 is obviously connected to Matthew 24:15. The logical deduction to be drawn from here is that these texts actually help explain the meaning of this confusing passage from Matthew, showing that it would logically relate to the destruction of Jerusalem and ultimately the temple.

This interpretation would fit with the original context found in verses 1-3. But the second question asked by the disciples with regards to the signs of the end should also be considered. By default this would give the abomination of desolation a duel application relating 1. To the destruction of Jerusalem and 2. To the end of the world. Therefore we can expect that there is a past and future fulfilment with regards to this prediction of Christ.

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains; and let them which be in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.” – Luke 21:20-21

“But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand), then let them that be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” – Mark 13:14

It should also be acknowledged that Luke 21 alone is not the sole key to understanding these cryptic statements. Jesus plainly pointed directly at the book of Daniel, and stamped on his statement “whoso readeth let him understand.” Therefore this is the second direction in which we may turn our heads to understand this passage. A concordance search reveals that there are several times in the book of Daniel in which the words “abomination” and “desolate” are used. As you can see from all of these texts below, they’re as equally cryptic as the first text.

“And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the Daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” – Daniel 11:31

“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” – Daniel 12:13

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” – Daniel 9:27

All three of these passages come from the book of Daniel, which Christ plainly pointed to as having the key to unlocking his meaning. Given the obvious wording, the logical deduction is that at least one or all of these texts would have some bearing on Christ’s intended meaning. This would be the case since he plainly pointed at the book of Daniel without giving a full explaination as to which passage he was referring. Therefore an understanding of each text would theoretically help unlock these words of Jesus.

The third passage, that being the 27th verse of Daniel 9, is a part of a series of texts known as “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks.” This Prophecy from the book of Daniel is misunderstood by many. One school of prophetic interpretation which is popular in this day and age interprets these texts as referring to a future Antichrist, who will restart the temple services and then cause them to cease. A seven year period of tribulation is also pulled out of these passages, particularly from the statement “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” 

Daniel 9 seems to be a major diversion from Matthew 24, but it’s obvious relation to Christ’s statements gives verse 27 and the surrounding texts [with context considered] bearing on this subject. We will therefore divert from Matthew 24 to examine Daniel 9. Our attention in particular will now be turned to Daniel 9:24-27. The issue of the confusing seven years of tribulation, based largely in part on these texts will be examined, in addition to whether or not the passage references a one man antichrist power who is to come in the future. But especially our focus is on the meaning of the phrases “overspreading of abominations” and “maketh desolate.”


“Seventy Weeks are determined upon thy People and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconcilation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” – Daniel 9:24

Reading from Daniel 9:1-23, there is enough background information evidently present to make the deduction that “thy people” is meant to address Daniel’s people. In this sense, that would obviously be the Jews or the people of Israel. By default, this would make “thy holy city” a reference to Jerusalem. It should be noted however that the book of Nehemiah directly refers to Jerusalem by the title “holy city”, eliminating any chance at speculation.

“And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of the ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.” – Nehemiah 11:1. 

Seventy Weeks are “determined upon thy people.” A time period encompassing seventy weeks in total is targeted at the Jews, and thus the entire timespan given [seventy weeks] relates to them alone. The rest of the chapter, as can be demonstrated from verses 25-27, divides this time period up into parts, attaching various events which are to take place during the divisions to them. Nevertheless the entire time period of seventy weeks clearly relates to the Jews in context, and has no other application.

Just exactly how long is seventy weeks? There are seven days in a week. Seven times seventy is 490, therefore there are 490 days in the entire seventy week timespan. According to Ezekiel and the book of Numbers, a day in prophetic symbolic language represents a year. Without this understanding, this prophecy cannot be properly understood. Therefore 490 days translates into 490 years, and the prophecy of seventy weeks stretches to that length. We can then see that a timespan of 490 years is “determined” upon the Jews.

“And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for year.” – Ezekiel 4:6

“After the number of days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know the breach of promise.” – Numbers 14:34

The entire purpose of this seventy week or 490 year timespan is stated in the same verse. It is given to “finish the transgression”, to “make an end of sins”, “to make reconcilation for iniquity”, and to “bring in everlasting righteousness”, to “seal up the vision and prophecy”, and to “anoint the most holy.” Right away it should be pretty clear from this language that none of this really has anything to do with a future antichrist, or seven years of tribulation. In fact, much of the language actually points to Christ’s mission and sacrifice. As we scroll through the rest of the verses, this will become much more apparent.

Pay close attention however to these facts. The word “iniquity” as noted in part 1 is typically in reference to sin, lawlesssness, law-breaking, or general wickedness. The Greek word where it was used in Matthew 24 reflected this general meaning in it’s definition, and the same is true of the Hebrew word used in Daniel 9:24. As shown below it means “perversity, that is (moral) evil.” The seventy week prophecy has to do with “reconcilation for iniquity.” Where else in Scripture are we told of a similar concept?

H5771
עָווֹן    עָוֹן
‛âvôn    ‛âvôn
aw-vone’, aw-vone’
From H5753; perversity, that is, (moral) evil: – fault, iniquity, mischief, punishment (of iniquity), sin.

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:10

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given unto us the ministry of reconcilation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their tresspasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconcilation.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Terms like “reconcilation”, “reconciled”, and “reconcile” are words in Scripture which are generally connected to the concept of justification. As shown above, this is generally received through the death of Christ. Romans 5:10 demonstrates this fact rather clearly. It is therefore logical to conclude that the seventy week prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27 has something to do with the death of Christ. This would be the only reconcilation for iniquity which in this particular case would be worth a prophecy about. Otherwise the system to which Daniel was familiar [that being the ceremonial/sacrificial system of the Jews] normally used sacrifices which pointed to a redeemer to come for this end, and thus no need would exist for there to be a predicted timespan of 490 years in order to bring such a thing in.

In addition, words such as “everlasting righteousness” and “to make an end of sins” point in a similar direction. The mere sound of the phrase “Everlasting righteousness” in and of itself seems to have a gospel flare to it, as does “reconcilation for iniquity”, and the statement “to make an end of sins” paints the same picture. In actual fact, “end of sins” carries a similar thought to a statement which John the Baptist made concerning Christ and his mission. “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29. 

The Seventy week prophecy therefore appears to relate to the mission of Christ. And as noted it is especially targeting Jerusalem, the Jews, and relates to the mission of the coming Messiah [hence “reconcilation for iniquity”, “bring in everlasting righteousness.”] Given the overall context of the 490 year or seventy week prophecy, forcing an interpretation of an antichrist to come into Daniel 9:24-27 is starting to appear much more far-fetched.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” – Daniel 9:25

“The going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” is a statement which theoretically would provide the starting date for the overall 490 year prophecy. The primary decree which fits these descriptions, that being the restoration and construction of Jerusalem, is found preserved in Ezra 7:11-28. In this command from Artaxerxes, there are descriptions given of treasure to beautify the house of God, civil power restored [through magistrates, judges, the ability to execute death-based punishments, the power to make laws], and an unlimited amount of people intent on going up to Jerusalem with Ezra. This decree would best fit the specifications given in the prophecy.

The timespans given from here are seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks. Verse 25 has now begun the breakdown of the overall seventy week prophecy. It should be noted for easier understanding that the word “threescore” is an old english word for “sixty”, and thus the time divided in this text is “62 weeks.” Seven plus sixty-two is sixty-nine, giving us around 483 years, when you apply the day for a year principle. 483 years stretches from the time of the construction and restoration of Jerusalem “unto Messiah the prince.”

The phrase “Messiah the prince” is another connecting link which points the finger straight at Jesus Christ. You could not find a clearer declaration of precisely who this prophecy is ultimately about. This ties in with the language given in verse 24 [“bring in everlasting righteousness” and “reconcilation for iniquity.”] Obviously Daniel 9:24-27 is a Messianic prophecy, which should be clear enough from the word “Messiah.” However, the words “the prince” are another connecting link to Christ. The title of “prince” is attached to Jesus in many locations across the Scriptures. Some might be somewhat surprised, and even think this interpretation of things incorrect, given that he is also referred to as “king of kings, and lord of lords” in 1 Timothy 6:14-16.

In spite of holding that title, he was referred to as a prince in the book of Acts. Isaiah also calls Jesus the “prince of peace”. The book of Revelation calls Jesus the “prince of the kings of the earth.” Jesus was also clearly identified as the Messiah in the new testament [John 1:41], and the word “Christ” even holds the definition of Messiah in Greek according to Strong’s Concordance. Since verses 24-25 unquestionably point to Jesus and his mission, we’re well on our way to putting away ideas of a future antichrist so far as these prophecies are concerned.

“The God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” – Acts 5:30-31

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the Government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” – Isaiah 9:6

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” – Revelation 1:5

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” – Daniel 9:26

After the passing of sixty-two weeks, “shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himsef.” 62 times 7 is 434. There is a stretch of about 49 years or so which has been left out of verse 26 [that being the original seven weeks], which theoretically between verses 25-26 have passed, leaving 434 years. After the 434 year stretch, “shall Messiah be cut off.” The phrase “cut off” suggests that an individual, in this case the Messiah, is to be killed. In the book of Exodus, there are two passages in which God stated he would “cut off” the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Then these very nations are described as being destroyed in the book of Deuteronomy. The term “cut off” thus means to kill or destroy.

Other examples can be produced from multiple locations across the Scriptures in which the phrase “cut off” is used in the same sentence or passage as destroy, slay, or fall by the sword. This appears in the books of Amos, Micah, and Ezekiel. All of the relevant passages on this mysterious phrase “cut off” have been produced below. We can see thus that the Messiah was to be killed “but not for himself” implying that it was on the behalf of others. It is a well-known fact that Christ died so that “whosoever beleiveth in him” shall not perish but have everlasting life [John 3:16.] The death of Jesus on the cross was on behalf of others and in no way “for himself”, just as the prophecy specifies.

“But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.” – Exodus 22:22-23

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.” – Ezekiel 25:12-14

“But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:” – Deuteronomy 20:17

“And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:” – Micah 5:7-10

“But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof: And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.” – Amos 1:7-8

After the time elements, Daniel 9:26 describes the “people of the prince” who were to come and to destroy the “city and the sanctuary.” What city and sanctuary are here being referred to? The context of Daniel 9:24-27 clearly references Daniel’s people and Jerusalem, and thus by default Jerusalem is the target which verse 26 has in mind. The “people of the prince” were to come and destroy both the city and the sanctuary. You may recall that in Matthew 24:2, Jesus stated clearly that concerning the temple there was not one stone upon another which was not going to be thrown down.

In view of these facts, already Daniel 9:24-27 is starting to connect with Matthew 24. All of the links so far are:

  1. Context. Jerusalem is mentioned in verse 25. When you scroll down to verse 26 you then have a vague reference to the destruction of a city and sanctuary. Context is about the only way that you can make a proper deduction as to what the target is, that being Jerusalem.
  2. The word “Sanctuary” paints an obvious picture of the temple. The sanctuary is here in verse 26 being destroyed by the “people of the prince”, and Jesus stated plainly in Matthew 24:2 that the temple would be completely destroyed.
  3. Since Jerusalem is in fact referenced in the context, it should be noted that Matthew 24:15 is explained by Luke 21:20-21 via the word “desolation”, defining the whole thing as being about the armies which were to compass Jerusalem. Verse 26, especially with it’s context, is describing the same event. [Hence “people of the prince” shall “destroy the city and the sanctuary” implies an army seeking to demolish them.]
  4. Jesus directly pointed to the book of Daniel in and of itself, which as we’ve seen contains at least three references to an abomination of desolation, or places where those two words “abomination” and “desolation/desolate” are used in one form or another. These words appear in verse 27 of Daniel 9, for which verse 26 forms the context, and thus the content of the two texts are connected.

Our attention next turns to the mysterious phrase “people of the prince.” On the surface, it would seem strange that the people of Christ would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary. This would be assuming that the “people of the prince” are indeed interpreted to be Christians, due to the obvious fact that “Messiah the Prince” is in reference to Christ. In a general sense Christians are a non-violent bunch of whom it would seem odd and even an evidence of apostasy that they would in fact attack Jerusalem and burn both it and the Jewish temple to the ground. But this is obviously not the case, especially in view of the fact that Luke 21:20-21 cited armies surrounding Jerusalem as a sign in which God’s people were to flee. They’re obviously not the ones conducting the siege if the siege itself is a sign that they should run for the hills.

In spite of the fact that “Messiah the Prince” is a clear reference to Jesus Christ, the term “people of the prince” is not in any way a reference to Christians. There is a series of passages in the book of Deuteronomy which actually help to unravel the meaning of this statement. In the midst of a series of blessings and curses pronounced on Israel if they would obey or otherwise, there is a statement which says “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth.” 

The “people of the prince” is a reference back to this curse, in which the Lord would use another nation to bring about a scourge ontop of Israel if they were not obedient. It is a statement of ownership over a tool which is being used as punishment. You might observe that these statements from Deuteronomy hold some links back to Daniel 9 and Luke 21:20-21. This is beacuase both clearly reference armies laying siege to Jerusalem, encompassing it, or coming to destroy the city and the sanctuary. Near the end of verse 52 of Deuteronomy 28, it states that “and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates.” It is logical to conclude either that these statements from Deuteronomy prophetically reference the destruction of Jerusalem foretold in Matthew as well, or that the same curse was carried over into New Testament times and fulfilled when the temple was destroyed.

“The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young: And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.” – Deuteronomy 28:49-52

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” – Daniel 9:27

The confirmation of the covenant was to take place for one week. “He” in context is a clear reference back to “Messiah the Prince”, which as we saw is a statement talking about Jesus Christ. Therefore Jesus was to confirm the covenant with many for one week, which is aproximately a seven year stretch of time when the day/year principle is applied. In the middle of this week or seven year period, he was to cause the “sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” The Hebrew word for “midst” is defined as “the half or middle” by Strong’s. 7 divided by 2 is 3.5. Therefore after about a 3.5 period of time, the Messiah would cause the “sacrifice and the oblation” to cease.

H2677
חֵצִי
chêtsı̂y
khay-tsee’
From H2673; the half or middle: – half, middle, mid [-night], midst, part, two parts.

H4503
מִנְחָה
minchâh
min-khaw’
From an unused root meaning to apportion, that is, bestow; a donation; euphemistically tribute; specifically a sacrificial offering (usually bloodless and voluntary): – gift, oblation, (meat) offering, present, sacrifice.

It should be noted that after the death of Christ, the sacrificial system lost it’s significance and reached it’s end. Colossians 2:14-17 specifically speaks of the end of the sacrifical rites and how Christians no longer need to practice them due to the fact that they were nailed to the cross. In addition, during Christ’s death the veil of the temple was rent in half, signifying the end of the ceremonial system. [Matthew 27:51]. It would be logical thus to conclude that the sacrifice and the oblation ceasing and the Messiah cut off but not for himself are referencing the same event, that being the death of Christ on the cross.

Perhaps at this point it should be clear what the phrase “And he shall confirm the covenant” means, in view of the overall context and the surrounding statements. It would logically fall on the confirmation of the new covenant, which according to Scripture was confirmed via the ministry of Jesus. Note the passages below which help to clarify this fact by their use and answer of the same phrase found in Daniel, or of statements which hold a similar meaning.

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” – Matthew 26:28

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” – Romans 15:8

“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” – Galatians 3:17

Usually it is from the statement “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” that some scholars derive the popular concept of the seven years of tribulation. This is done through inserting a gap of several thousand years inbetween the 69th and the 70th week, the application of the day for a year principle, and ripping the statement “And He” away from it’s original context and applying the words to a future antichrist. Obviously, in context the phrase “and he” is in reference to Messiah the prince, which I’ve conclusively proven is a statement referencing Jesus Christ. Thus the application of these statements to a future antichrist is far-fetched and not Biblical.

It should be noted that the statement “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” doesn’t even remotely sound like a period of tribulation in the slightest. An actual period of persecution foretold in Scripture, around Daniel 7:25, predicts that the little horn power was to “wear out the saints”. This is a statement which on it’s direct surface sounds like tribulation, persecution, and affliction. But to verify all you would have to do is go back to the Hebrew meaning of the word “wear” and see that it in fact references affliction. I’ve produced Strong’s definition of this word below for your perusal. In fact, I would go so far as to say that reading tribulation into “confirm the covenant” is nothing short of Eisegesis, at a level which is worse than taking the bear of Daniel 7 and claiming that it is Russia without scriptural evidence.

In addition, between verses 26-27 there is no indication that the 70th week is to be thrown thousands of years into the future. The non-existant gap is simply not there, and cannot be located even when you use a fine-toothed comb to pick apart the words of all four passages, and allow the Scriptures to explain themselves. Popular interpretations involving a secret rapture, a seven year period of tribulation, or a future Antichrist are not as Biblical as they might seem. To be clear, there is an Antichrist. You will find it plainly revealed in the book of Daniel that there is a little horn power, and two beasts in Revelation 13 whose actions have direct bearing on last day events. But popular notions of the Antichrist being a one-man hitler to come in the future are not as Scriptural as they may seem. Stick with me and you will see precisely how.

We now turn to the phrase “and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate.” The words “abominations” and “desolate” are clear links back to Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20-21. As we saw from verse 26 and 25, these prophecies are under the clear context of the destruction of Jerusalem. “Desolations” is a word which is even used in verse 26, the same text which references the people of the prince destroying the city and the sanctuary. Luke 21, Daniel 9, and Matthew 24:15 therefore all-together reference the people of the prince who were to come and to destroy Jerusalem via a siege, as foretold by the curse in Deuteronomy 28.


If the past application of the abomination of desolation has to do with the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem, what is the future fulfilment? It is evident that there is in fact one, based on the overall context of Matthew 24. This is clear from the question asked by the disciples, “when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” There are still two passages remaning in the book of Daniel which hold the potential keys to understanding this topic. However, the question remains, how does the abomination of desolation apply to God’s people in the future?

So far as Daniel 9 is concerned, if you’re interested in more information regarding these texts of the Scriptures, click here. The video below also will expand your understanding of Daniel 9, if you prefer to watch rather than read.

That said, part 3 will pick up our examination of Matthew 24.

Matthew 24 – Part 1

Having fixed my mind upon the second coming of Christ, I have found myself drawn to the study of the prophecies. Especially has my attention been absorbed by those which relate to this great event. In view of the fact that many have struggled to understand the cryptic language used in Bible Prophecy, I have felt it my duty to relate to you my findings in the study of this subject. It is my hope that all posts I write along these lines will encourage you in your own study of the Scriptures, as well as help you to come to a better understanding of God’s word.

This post on Matthew 24 is therefore meant as an introduction to a series of posts I am intent on writing, which will be written as my own personal “Bible Commentary” for your perusal on the Prophecies of the Scriptures. They will especially target books and passages which relate to the final events of this earth’s history and the books of Daniel & Revelation. However, there are some things I want you to understand about these commentary posts.

  1. Even though they’re based upon countless hours and even years of Biblical research and study, you cannot within reason rely solely upon them for all of the answers. You must study and research things for yourself.
  2. In order to encourage you to further research and study, I will not always give you all of the answers for a prophecy’s particular meaning and fulfilment in these articles. I will only give the full explanation where I deem it absolutely necessary that you have all of the information available on a topic relating to Bible Prophecy.
  3. I am a very detail oriented person and I have an analytical mind, which means you can expect my commentary posts to reflect those qualities. In other words, this could get very deep and complex at times. Try very hard to stick with me.
  4. It should be known that there have been revisions to my notes as I have grown in my understanding of the prophecies and the rest of the Scriptures. I am not a “know-it-all”, and I am not infallible in my interpretations of the Scriptures. These articles are subject to revision as I continue to grow and learn, just as my notes have been.
  5. Not everything which will appear in these posts is based on the exact content of my notes. Some of it will be studied as I write the post, other portions are strictly from memory.
  6. This is your official disclaimer. I am in writing this post assuming some familiarity with the Bible, and how to properly study it. If you do not know how to study your Bible, than you should read part one and two of my series on this subject. But this post is not necessarily designed for babes in Christ. For those just beginning their Christian walk, I would recommend studying a variety of other subjects before taking on anything to do with final events.

That being said, it is my hope that my commentary on the prophecies based on my notes will be of great benefit to you. Therefore from this point forward I ask that you crack open your Bibles and engage in prayer to the Lord for guidance, as we embark on a study of God’s word.


“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” – Matthew 24:1-2

Some helpful background information for understanding these passages can be drawn from the preceding chapters of the book of Matthew. Around the 21st chapter is recorded an event known as the “triumphal entry”, in which Jesus is depicted as entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The entire account can be read in Matthew 21:1-11. It should be noted that in verses 12-17, Christ entered the temple and from there onto this point had yet to leave. Everything which follows in chapters 22-23 is simply a record of Christ’s teachings and parables while in the temple, and his denunciations of the Pharisees. You then arrive at verse 1 of Matthew 24 and he exits the temple.

Under that context, it should be clear that the temple mentioned in verse 1 of Matthew 24 is the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. This would make Christ’s statement in the second verse a statement of its total destruction. Jesus is here depicted as giving a prophecy indicating that the temple was to be destroyed. These two passages of Matthew 24, as will be shown, actually form the context of a question the disciples were to ask Christ, and events described further into the chapter.

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” – Matthew 24:3-5

Jesus exits the temple in Matthew 24:1, predicts its destruction, and then sits on the mount of olives. Afterwards his disciples come to him asking, “when shall these things be?” The phrase “these things” is under the clear context of the previously examined texts. The disciples were after information regarding the timing of the destruction of the temple. But their question seemed to embrace more than this subject alone. It encompassed “the end of the world” and “the sign of thy coming.”

Christ had already come the first time. He stood directly before them as they asked him this question. Thus they obviously had some future time in mind. In view of this fact, it is logical to conclude that their question is targeting the signs of the second advent and the end of the world. It also clearly targets the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. As Christ answers their questions, he makes no clear distinction between the events. The most logical deduction is that he has mingled descriptions of both events together. This will become clearer as we examine the rest of the passages of Matthew 24.

Jesus opens his answer to their questions by saying, “take heed that no man deceive you.” He then immediately follows by saying, “for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” The obvious reason for his warning with regards to deception can be derived from his statement that people will come, claiming to be Christ. In recent times, there have been more than a few people who’ve arrived on the scene claiming that they were in fact Jesus. It has been said that some have even gone on talk shows with the claim. Others have apparently gained large followings in times past.

Yet when the comparison is made with other passages, one cannot help but feel that something deeper is targeted here. Perhaps the occasional insane blasphemous narcissist trying to get his fifteen minutes of fame is not all that Christ had in mind when he gave this warning. While these passages undeniably hold equal force and weight when it comes to such persons, simply just the statement “take heed that no man deceive you” should be enough to cause the followers of Christ to pause and contemplate that warning carefully.

What do other Bible passages teach about deception in connection with the final events of Bible Prophecy? This would undeniably relate to the subject in question, as the disciples have clearly asked about the signs of the coming of Christ and the end of the world. Thus other texts which speak of the deceptions of the last days automatically relate to this warning to “take heed that no man deceive you.”

“And then shall that wicked be revealed, Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” – 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God almighty.” – Revelation 16:13-14

Notice the descriptions given in 2 Thessalonians by Paul the apostle. The context of chapter 2 [verses 2-6] indicate that the phrase “that wicked” is in reference to the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, and the son of perdition. A separate study would be required to identify this “son of perdition”, but it is noted that as we scroll down to verses 8-9 again this power is to be destroyed by the “brightness of his coming”, that being the second coming of Christ. The word “his” in verse 8 is, by context obviously referencing the statement “whom the Lord shall consume”. Thus as you come to verse 9, “even him” is still in reference to our Lord Jesus.

The passage then states “whose coming is after the working of Satan.” Verse 9 is positioning the second advent chronologically after the working of the devil with signs, power, and ‘lying wonders.’ It should be noted that terms like “signs” and “wonders” are often connected to miraculous phenomenon in Scripture. In Mark 16:17, Jesus said “these signs shall follow them that believe” before listing phenomenon such as casting out devils and the ability to speak with “new tongues”. [The second of which appears in the book of acts, where the holy spirit essentially acted as a universal translator. See Acts 2:4-11]. Thus the word “sign” where it is appropriate with the context can be applied to a miracle. In the book of Acts and Hebrews, the word “wonders” is listed in the same sentence as “miracle” or “miracles.” [Acts 15:12, Hebrews 2:4].

The working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying wonders is in reference to the miracle-working power of the devil. The sequence of the coming of Christ is said to be directly after this deceptive working of Satan. The positioning of these events, which is to take place before the second coming, should be sufficient to add some illumination to Christ’s warning about deception. Before Christ comes back the second time, deceptive miracles will be performed. Are we as Christians at a point in which we’re ready to ignore everything our senses are telling us in order that we may place faith in and follow the word of God alone?

This text from 2 Thessalonians is not the only non-gospel new testament warning about deception. While the new testament abounds with numerous warnings about false teachers and prophets, in Revelation 16 there is a very specific prophetic prediction relating to deceptions of the last days. As shown above, verses 13-14 of Revelation 16 depict three ‘unclean spirits’ coming out of the mouth of the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet. It is beyond the scope of this article to identify all three of these symbols, but suffice it to say that at least one of them can be unraveled by Revelation 12:9, which identifies the dragon as Satan. Daniel 7:23 seems to suggest that a beast is to be defined as a kingdom in Bible Prophecy, and thus we have some incomplete identification of at least two of these symbols.

Verse 14 automatically associates these “unclean spirits” with devils, in fact it directly identifies them as such. Demons are poured out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of Satan at the end of time, as well as out of the mouth of the false prophet. The very next event is that they go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, gathering them together for the last battle of that great day of God almighty. The kings of the earth are obviously earth’s leadership or rather the rulers of countries, as can be deduced from the plain language employed in the text.

The wording of “and of the whole world” is slightly confusing, and on its surface appears like a redundancy. In actual fact, the whole world and the kings of the earth are two separate things. The devils not only go forth to the rulers of earth, but to the general populace as well. They’re described as “working miracles” and having the purpose of as noted gathering them “to the battle of the great day of God almighty.” Miracles are worked by devils in order to gather the rulers of earth and its general populace into a battle. Precisely what battle might this text be in reference to?

Investigating the key phrases of this text may help us find the answer to this question. The first key is found in the phrase “day of God”, which appears also in 2 Peter 3:12. Another can be derived from the fact that the kings are here clearly gathered together for a battle. Is there another place in Scripture where the kings of the earth are gathered for a battle in which the Lord is involved?

2 Peter 3:12 states, “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be disolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” Two verses above, 2 Peter 3:10 gives descriptions of the “day of the Lord” which the passages state is to come as a “thief in the night.” The text then goes on to use similar descriptions as those found in verse 12, that being especially of the elements melting with fervent heat, the heavens passing away with a great noise, and the earth being burned up. The expressions “day of the Lord” and “day of God” are thus obviously connected with the end of the world. The obvious reference to fire is also a link back to the second coming of Christ, in which Jesus is described as taking vengeance on those who obey not the gospel “in flaming fire” [2 Thessalonians 1:7-9].

Another time in which the kings of the earth are gathered to make war against God is found in Revelation 19. In verse 19, they are described as being gathered together to make war “against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.” Verses 11-16 provide the context, giving the much-needed background information. Much of the key words in these texts help us to see that the events described in this chapter relate to the second coming of Christ, that the one who sits on the white horse is Jesus, and that the kings of the earth are gathered for war against him. The way in which they’re gathered together for battle against God mirrors the way in which the demons gather them for battle in Revelation 16. Based on this evidence, the logical deduction is that the phrase “the battle of that great day of God almighty” is the final battle of this earth’s history, with its climax at the second coming.

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called the word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, king of kings, and Lord of Lords.” – Revelation 19:11-16 [See 1 Timothy 6:14-16, Revelation 3:14, Revelation 1:12-17, John 1:1-2 for the proofs that this is in reference to Jesus Christ.]

Miracle working power is used as a means of gathering the world and the kings of the earth for this battle. This strongly implies a deception taking place at the end of time which uses miraculous phenomenon as its primary vehicle. These texts from Revelation 16, 2 Thessalonians, and Matthew 24 all line up with each other. Although Christ mentioned people claiming to be him as the reason for his warning with regards to deception, it is clear from other texts of Scripture that the statement “take heed that no man deceive you” may hold greater significance than perhaps we give it credit for. According to Scripture, the deceptions coming are nothing short of really bad. There is a definite need to be grounded in the word in order to be prepared to stand up to what is coming.

But according to 2 Thessalonians, there is actually more to it than a deep understanding of the word. According to verses 10-12, we need a love of the truth. “And with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

You may understand the reasons of your faith and be well-grounded. But if you do not love the truth, you might willfully accept something you would otherwise have known to be wrong. Some while unacquainted with the evidences pointing to truth, would still rather choose deception, for the truth interferes with the sinful practices that the carnal heart loves. Beyond having a thorough grounding in the word, it all comes down to the motives of the human heart. If you want to do and believe something which you know to be wrong, than Satan is happy to supply deceptions with even miraculous phenomenon to support them. If we love the truth over deception however, than we can be in a position similar to what Christ described: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” – John 7:17. 

At the same time, these facts do not lessen the importance of a thorough understanding of your Bible. Without being well conversant with the Scriptures, you may still be swept up by the powerful delusions of the last days, even if you want to do what is right. You should not only know the reasons of your faith, but be well enough acquainted with Scripture to where you can detect when something is quoted out of context, read esiegetically, or twisted outside of its original meaning.

Another point is the danger of reliance on miraculous phenomenon. Isaiah 8:20 presents a test by which we can be sure that something is true or false, and it is “to the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Emotional religion relies on experiences. There is a tendency in Christendom to put too much stock in impressions, dreams, miracles, the supposed hearing of voices, and other apparent signs or wonders. Reliance on these things as a test of what is true or false, as well as in substituting them in the place of Bible study [as has been the case with impressions and the supposed hearing of voices] is dangerous. The warnings about Satan’s miraculous working at the end of time should be sufficient to give the Christian pause about blind acceptance of miracles as a test, and drive them to Bible Study to be sure of the exact source of such phenomenon. I would even be very guarded in how one makes reference to such things, lest you open a door for the devil to ensnare you.

“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” – Matthew 24:5

“And he said, take heed that ye be not deceived, for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near, go ye not therefore after them.” – Luke 21:8

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are typically referred to as the synoptic gospels. This is because they go over the same stories and information, but often at times include an expansion of details. Especially as you go over Matthew 24, studying them all together can greatly expand your understanding of the same passages. In this case the chapters of interest are Mark 13 and Luke 21, both closely following the content of Matthew 24, but expanding on the details given. In verse 8 of Luke 21, an identical warning of people claiming to be Christ may be found. It adds the statements, “and the time draweth near” and “go ye not therefore after them.”

The only time of significance related to this subject matter is that of Christ’s second coming. As we begin to see people coming onto the scene claiming to be Jesus, according to Luke 21 this is a sign that the time is drawing near. But perhaps terms like “many” indicate that there will not only be an abundance of people making this claim, but that there will be just as many who will be deceived by their claims. The majority of Christians in this day and age are able to see through attempts at deception, for this reason I would suspect that Christ had something much worse in mind than the occasional weirdo claiming to be him. In view of his command to not go after them, I would suspect that it doesn’t matter whether or not it is the occasional insane blasphemous narcissist or something much more deceptive, we’re not to follow after them.

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” – Matthew 24:6-8

We have now transitioned from predictions with regards to deception and people claiming to be Jesus into what is often believed to be the vaguest prophecies in all of the Bible. Everything else is usually very specific, but these passages are very vague and general. Theoretically, because of their vagueness, you could apply them to almost any war, famine, earthquake, or pestilence that arises upon the earth and make the claim that Jesus is soon to return. The question then arises, why so vague? Did Christ have something much more specific in mind?

It is important to note that close attention should be given to the succession of this list. War, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes have been given one after another. All of them are in the plural, indicating that there is to be more than one which will occur. You might observe that in the book of Job, there was a time period in which Satan was given a green light to do his thing by God. In Job 1 and verses 6-22 you can read of this story. Especially it should be noted that the abuse Satan was allowed to heap upon Job occurred in rapid fire succession. Is there any reason to believe that as we approach the final events of this earth’s history the signs thus described by Christ will not occur in the same manner? When Satan is no longer barred from causing mass destruction, perhaps we can be sure of the fact that such movements will be in rapid fire.

Almost everyone who is confronted with these events as signs of the times will state that these things have always been around. I would say that such is a truthful statement, for even the Bible itself acknowledges this. Many Scriptural examples of wars fought may be gathered from the historical books of the Bible, from Genesis on. The same may be said of Famines. A couple of specific examples may be read in Genesis 14, and Genesis 41:48-50. I would suspect that not just any war, famine, or earthquake is targeted by these predictions but instead a rapid fire succession of events. This would add some illumination to Christ’s statement not to be troubled, as I would suspect things might get rather crazy and hair-raising when it comes to these particular problems as we approach the end.

Wars and rumors of wars is a statement which stretches to include not only the conflict itself, but also the rumor of it. There may be many stories of war floating around as we approach the end of time. We may even hear of conflict abroad. As noted previously, both are in the plural implying that there is to be many of these things. Jesus then clearly states that “all these things must come to pass” and “the end is not yet.” The language employed implies that conflict must take place, and though this may be occurring we have yet to hit the climax of things.

He also includes a statement that we’re not to be troubled by these things. By itself, perhaps war is something which can bring great disturbance to the anxious troubled heart. Christ’s words are meant as an encouragement for those who might be distressed as they observe the warfare taking place on this planet at the end of time. No doubt, the extreme nature of the events thus listed as signs would cause any man to be afraid as they are observed. Than it is clear that Jesus here meant to encourage his people by telling them not to be troubled when see these things happening. This also implies that the events described are of such an extreme nature as to cause distress in the first place, otherwise Jesus would have no need of making such a statement.

“But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.” – Luke 21:9

Luke 21 expands on some of the details used in Matthew 24, stating that these things “must first come to pass.” It also adds “commotions” in the place of the rumors of wars. The word “commotions” is vague enough to apply to almost any troublous phenomenon taking place, and is perhaps how Christ meant it to be taken. But paying close attention, the words “these things must first come to pass” would lead one to believe that these events are to occur first before the end comes.

Afterwards Jesus goes on to describe nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom in Matthew 24:7. On the surface this statement bears the appearance of a redundancy. But it should be acknowledged that the term “nation” as used in Scripture does not necessarily reference a country in the sense that we today would picture it doing so. According to the Greek, the term is “a race, that is, a tribe, specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one.” The logical deduction is that one nation rising against another is race or tribal based conflict, whereas kingdom vs kingdom refers to typical conflict between countries. Theoretically “nation against nation” might be applied to ethnic-based warfare, or fighting similar to the tribe of Judah fighting against Manassah, which would be sort of like a civil war in a way.

G1484
ἔθνος
ethnos
eth’-nos
Probably from G1486; a race (as of the same habit), that is, a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan): – Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

Famine and pestilence are the next signs on the list alongside earthquakes in diverse places. Pestilence is obviously disease, whereas famine is a scarcity of food typically coupled with starvation. An earthquake of course needs no explanation. Though it is interesting to note that at the end of earthquakes we find the phrase “in diverse places”, implying that they’re to be widespread across many locations rather than just in one place. Luke 21:10-11 provides a greater expansion of details. Verse 10 adds “great earthquakes” into the equation, implying that we’re not dealing with your typical everyday 1.0 that is barely felt, but that we can probably expect larger earthquakes that cause a great deal of damage and suffering. These also are in ‘diverse places’, again implying that we’ll see very destructive earthquakes widespread across the globe. One can only speculate as to the amount of destruction this would cause.

Luke 21:11 adds several signs to the list, taking things beyond simply just wars, earthquakes, pestilences, and famines. “Fearful sights” and “great signs” from heaven make their way onto the list. This bears the suggestion of fearful miraculous phenomenon, possibly to the level of essentially being crazy, hair-raising, and striking extreme levels of fear into people’s hearts. [Hence “fearful sights.”] Mark 13:8 also adds the word “troubles” alongside famines, which is as equally vague as “commotions.” These terms could be applied to almost any trouble or problems which may appear to be coming down the pike, and so the Christian should be careful not to chase after headlines or speculate and instead attempt to discern whether or not Christ had something specific in mind when he made these statements.

The words for “troubles” and “commotions” have reference to instability and tumult. I would suspect that when Christ used these words, he had something such as what one would normally consider civil unrest in mind. This may be gathered as one pays close attention to the Greek definitions for these two words, as shown below. Although I would caution one not to read our modern definitions of civil unrest into the Bible, the meanings of these words definitely paints a picture of rioting and general chaos. This is pictured alongside war, famine, earthquakes, and other disasters.

G181
ἀκαταστασία
akatastasia
ak-at-as-tah-see’-ah
From G182; instability, that is, disorder: – commotion, confusion, tumult.

G5016
ταραχή
tarachē
tar-akh-ay’
Feminine from G5015; disturbance, that is, (of water) roiling, or (of a mob) sedition: – trouble (-ing).

In both Matthew and Mark, these things are termed “the beginning of sorrows.” The events portrayed up to this point, as disturbing as the picture may seem by itself, is only the beginning. There are perhaps more “sorrows” to come in addition to the picture here painted, but our hearts are still not to be troubled or terrified according to the word of Christ.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” – Matthew 24:9-11

The term “afflicted” is an archaic old english word, which many today probably are not familiar with. For a better unraveling of its meaning, one should note that Isaiah 53, which is a prophecy that relates to Jesus, uses the term in connection with what would happen to him. Around verse 4 of Isaiah 53 it states, “yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Most Christians are familiar with the crucifixion of Christ, in which he was ‘scourged’ before being nailed to the cross. [Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15.] The term “afflicted” or “affliction” is also used by Paul in connection with persecution at least twice [2 Corinthians 4:7-17, Philippians 1:12-16.]

This would logically imply that God’s people [that being “you”] are being delivered up to be beaten or scourged in some way. The phrase “deliver you up” means you are being given over to and brought forth for the purposes listed, that being to be afflicted and killed. Torture and execution are pictures painted in my mind by these words. “And shall kill you” definitely implies the presence of martyrdom as we approach the end of time. Stephen, who was stoned in the book of Acts [Acts 7:58-60], is an example of martyrdom taking place well before these events described by Jesus. Thus by default not every case of martyrdom and persecution that occurs in the world is a direct sign of the end, theoretically these things have always been present in the world.

The statement “and shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” perhaps sheds some light on the issue. All nations is a phrase which implies all tribes or races of the earth will hate God’s people. In theory, this could be the reason for delivering Christ’s followers up to be afflicted and killed, because they hold a strong hatred for the people of the Lord. This phrase might also point to persecution on a world-wide or perhaps global scale, if it may indeed be looked at as the motivation for the persecution thus described.

It should be noted however that although Martyrdom is a possibility which Christ’s followers will face as they approach the end, not everyone will be martyred. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 plainly describes those of us who are “alive and remain” at the coming of Christ, implying that there will be some of the followers of Jesus who will survive the persecutions of the last days, and will go through until the very second coming of Jesus.

Verse 10 of Matthew 24 follows by saying that “many shall be offended.” Again this is another confusing old english word. To take offense at something in our modern vocabulary is to be insulted. This is not what Christ had in mind when he said “many shall be offended.” Matthew 26 actually explains this confusing and mysterious phrase for us, and illuminates this text of Matthew 24.

“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” – Matthew 26:31-34

“But this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.” – Matthew 26:56. 

The term “offended” as used in Matthew 24 appears, as shown above, in Matthew 26. There it is used in the context of a prediction of something Christ’s followers were to do that night. Jesus’ quotation of the smitten shepherd whose flock is scattered abroad is a clue as to what he had in mind, given that Jesus referred to himself as the “good shepherd”. [John 10:11] But as you scroll into the dialog between Peter and Christ, things become much more clear. Peter claims that he would “never be offended” to which Jesus replied that he would deny him three times that night. The reply of Christ is obviously aimed at answering Peter’s statement, which by default connects the word “offended” to a denial of Christ. Later in the chapter, the disciples are described as forsaking Christ and fleeing. Thus to be offended is to deny Jesus and to forsake him in time of persecution.

Matthew 24:10 predicts that “many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” This prediction is implying that a large degree of the followers of Christ are to be offended and to forsake him as time of persecution arises. Those who have not acquired an experience that would enable them to stand in Christ alone during such a time are likely to apostatize as events unfold, for when they’re confronted with martyrdom or possibly torture they may shrink.

It should also be noted that the passage references those who will betray one another. Mark 13:12 and Luke 21:16 expand on this predicted betrayal. In Mark the brother is predicted to betray the brother, the father betrays the son, and the children rise up against the parents and cause them to be put to death. Luke 21 simply states that you’ll be betrayed by brethren, parents, kinsfolk, and friends. The implication is that you cannot trust anyone because parents, friends, and family will betray you in the end. The mutual hatred and betrayal across the board encountered perhaps by both secular people and Christ’s followers [neither are really specified in any of these passages] indicates not only a breakdown of society, but also the possibility that you cannot even trust those with whom you attend Church. You must be prepared to stand in Christ alone, putting your trust in him and letting loose of all reliance on other people.

Scrolling to Matthew 24:11, it should be noted that Christ warned about false prophets twice in the entire chapter. The second warning appears in Matthew 24:24, where Jesus states that they will show “great signs and wonders.” As stated before, miraculous phenomenon is no test as to whether or not something is true or false. Specifically addressing the issue of whether or not some one is a genuine or false prophet, Deuteronomy 13 presents the scenario of such a person arising. They come forward with a sign or wonder, which appears to “come to pass”, and then make the heretical statement “Let us go after other Gods.” Deuteronomy 13 then warns not to follow them. [Deuteronomy 13:1-4.]

Isaiah 8:20 as well as Matthew 7:15-20 present tests by which you can be enabled to see through those claiming to be Prophets. But much like with the deception discussed at the beginning of the chapter, you must be well grounded in your Bible in order to properly apply the tests. If you do not have a thorough understanding of your Bible, you may inadvertently believe that something is true when it is actually false.

Yet again, in the case of Matthew 24:11 it should be noted that the word “many” is used twice. An abundance of false prophets are to arise as we approach the end, who are to deceive many. The 24th verse adds not only the great signs and wonders, but the possibility that they could “if it were possible, deceive the very elect.” Huge amounts of people will be deceived by these false prophets, whose work will be marked with deceptive miracle-working power, and whose deceptions are clearly aimed at God’s people.

It should be acknowledged that the phrase “if it were possible” in Matthew 24:24 should not be read as though it is impossible for God’s people to be deceived. This attitude would bear similarities to a ‘once saved, always saved’ view of salvation, which as will be shown in a later article is not in harmony with Scripture. Instead the phrase should be compared with Romans 12:18, which states “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” This text from Paul’s writings is not meant to convey the idea that it is impossible to live peaceably with all men, instead it is suggesting that every effort should be forth for this end. Thus “if it possible” as used in Matthew 24 is more suggesting that every effort is going to be put forth by these false prophets to deceive the very elect, rather than it being impossible for the elect to be deceived by their signs and wonders.

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all of the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” – Matthew 24:12-14

Iniquity is a generic term in the Bible for sin, lawlessness, or general wickedness. This can be demonstrated from the Greek, as shown below. This is to abound or increase as we approach the end of time, leading to a “love of many” waxing “cold.” The Greek word for Love as shown below in this case is “Agape” which more references benevolence than anything else. Temperatures, as depicted in the Bible by terms like “cold” or “hot”, are sometimes used to signify the intensity of zeal or love that a person has, or to give a description of their spiritual state. One example of this is found in Revelation 3:15-16, in which the Lukewarm state is attributed to Laodicea. With Love said to grow cold as a result of abounding iniquity, this prediction is suggesting that people will start to love and care about each other less and less because of an increasing wickedness and moral depravity in the world.

G458
ἀνομία
anomia
an-om-ee’-ah
From G459; illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness: – iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.

G26
ἀγάπη
agapē
ag-ah’-pay
From G25; love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast: – (feast of) charity ([-ably]), dear, love.

The next passage that follows states that “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” As we’ve shown in other articles on this blog, we’re expected to endure the trials of the last days. We as Christians will not receive extraction from this earth until after these events foretold in Matthew have transpired. The promise is that if you stand through the trial, you will have salvation. Not that you will receive rescue to pull you out of the mess. This would fit with Biblical pictures seen elsewhere in Scripture, showing that God doesn’t always necessarily extract his people when the going gets rough. See Noah and his family hiding in the ark in the midst of the storm, and observe Daniel’s three companions tossed in the fiery furnace and preserved from harm while inside the flame. [Genesis 7:1-24, Daniel 3:8-30]

Verse 14 then states that “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all of the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” This statement plainly declares that once the gospel is preached throughout the world, then the end will come. It should be observed that back in verse 6 it was clearly stated that “the end is not yet.” This was after it was declared that there would be wars and rumors of wars. Everything afterwards is also plainly stated to be the “beginning of sorrows” until you arrive at descriptions of the persecutions. The implication is that these things may be going on, yet the end has not yet arrived. Additionally, the gospel is said to be preached in the entire world and “then” shall the end come. This implies that the disastrous events mentioned earlier in Matthew 24 are not necessarily held back by the gospel not having been preached in all of the world yet. Therefore wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in diverse places, famines, pestilences, commotions, and troubles may all be going on and yet the gospel has yet to reach every corner of the globe.


You might observe this post is titled “part 1”. This is because I made the accurate deduction that writing a commentary on Matthew 24 would have to be a series of posts due to the length of the posts themselves. Many commentary posts will likely take on this format, as there is no doubt in my mind that they will be quite long. Splitting them up into a multi-part series is the best way to attempt to keep the posts at a decent size, although this one turned out long. My commentary on Matthew 24 will be continued in part 2.