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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
From G182; instability, that is, disorder: – commotion, confusion, tumult.
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.
From G459; illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness: – iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.
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.