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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 24)

24:1 {Went out from the temple} (\exelthōn apo tou hierou\). All
the discourses since Mt 21:23 have been in the temple courts
(\hieron\, the sacred enclosure). But now Jesus leaves it for
good after the powerful denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees
in chapter 23. His public teaching is over. It was a tragic
moment. As he was going out (\eporeueto\, descriptive imperfect)
the disciples, as if to relieve the thought of the Master came to
him (\prosēlthon\) to show (\epideixai\, ingressive aorist
the buildings of the temple (\tas oikodomas tou
. They were familiar to Jesus and the disciples, but
beautiful like a snow mountain (Josephus, _Wars_ V,5,6), the
monument that Herod the Great had begun and that was not yet
complete (Joh 2:20). Great stones were there of polished

24:2 {One stone upon another} (\lithos epi lithon\). Stone upon
stone. A startling prediction showing that the gloomy current of
the thoughts of Jesus were not changed by their words of
admiration for the temple.

24:3 {As he sat} (\kathēmenou\). Genitive absolute. Picture of
Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives looking down on Jerusalem
and the temple which he had just left. After the climb up the
mountain four of the disciples (Peter, James, John, Andrew) come
to Jesus with the problem raised by his solemn words. They ask
these questions about the destruction of Jerusalem and the
temple, his own second coming (\parousia\, presence, common in
the papyri for the visit of the emperor)
, and the end of the
world. Did they think that they were all to take place
simultaneously? There is no way to answer. At any rate Jesus
treats all three in this great eschatological discourse, the most
difficult problem in the Synoptic Gospels. Many theories are
advanced that impugn the knowledge of Jesus or of the writers or
of both. It is sufficient for our purpose to think of Jesus as
using the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem which did
happen in that generation in A.D. 70, as also a symbol of his own
second coming and of the end of the world (\sunteleias tou
or consummation of the age. In a painting the artist by
skilful perspective may give on the same surface the inside of a
room, the fields outside the window, and the sky far beyond.
Certainly in this discourse Jesus blends in apocalyptic language
the background of his death on the cross, the coming destruction
of Jerusalem, his own second coming and the end of the world. He
now touches one, now the other. It is not easy for us to separate
clearly the various items. It is enough if we get the picture as
a whole as it is here drawn with its lessons of warning to be
ready for his coming and the end. The destruction of Jerusalem
came as he foretold. There are some who would date the Synoptic
Gospels after A.D. 70 in order to avoid the predictive element
involved in the earlier date. But that is to limit the
fore-knowledge of Jesus to a merely human basis. The word
\parousia\ occurs in this chapter alone (3,27,37,39) in the
Gospels, but often in the Epistles, either of presence as opposed
to absence (Php 2:12) or the second coming of Christ (2Th

24:4 {Lead you astray} (\h–mās planēsēi\). This warning runs all
through the discourse. It is amazing how successful deceivers
have been through the ages with their eschatological programs.
The word in the passive appears in 18:12 when the one sheep
wanders astray. Here it is the active voice with the causative
sense to lead astray. Our word planet comes from this root.

24:5 {In my name} (\epi tōi onomati mou\). They will arrogate to
themselves false claims of Messiahship in (on the basis of) the
name of Christ himself. Josephus (_Wars_ VI, 54) gives there
false Christs as one of the reasons for the explosion against
Rome that led to the city's destruction. Each new hero was
welcomed by the masses including Barcochba. "I am the Messiah,"
each would say. Forty odd years ago two men in Illinois claimed
to be Messiah, each with followers (Schlatter, Schweinfurth). In
more recent years Mrs. Annie Besant has introduced a theosophical
Messiah and Mrs. Eddy made claims about herself on a par with
those of Jesus.

24:6 {See that ye be not troubled} (\horate mē throeisthe\).
Asyndeton here with these two imperatives as Mr 8:15 \orate
blepete\ (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 949). Look out for the wars
and rumours of wars, but do not be scared out of your wits by
them. \Throeō\ means to cry aloud, to scream, and in the passive
to be terrified by an outcry. Paul uses this very verb (\mēde
in 2Th 2:2 as a warning against excitement over
false reports that he had predicted the immediate second coming
of Christ. {But the end is not yet} (\all' oupō estin to telos\).
It is curious how people overlook these words of Jesus and
proceed to set dates for the immediate end. That happened during
the Great War and it has happened since.

24:8 {The beginning of travail} (\archē odinōn\). The word means
birth-pangs and the Jews used the very phrase for the sufferings
of the Messiah which were to come before the coming of the
Messiah (Book of Jubilees, 23:18; Apoc. of Baruch 27-29). But the
word occurs with no idea of birth as the pains of death (Ps
18:5; Ac 2:24)
. These woes, says Jesus, are not a proof of the
end, but of the beginning.

24:9 {Ye shall be hated} (\esesthe misoumenoi\). Periphrastic
future passive to emphasize the continuous process of the linear
action. For tribulation (\thlipsin\ see 13:21), a word common
in the Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypse for the oppression
(pressure) that the Christians received. {For my name's sake}
(\dia to onoma mou\). The most glorious name in the world today,
but soon to be a byword of shame (Ac 5:41). The disciples would
count it an honour to be dishonoured for the Name's sake.

24:11 {False prophets} (\pseudoprophētai\). Jesus had warned
against them in the Sermon on the Mount (7:15). They are still

24:12 {Shall wax cold} (\psugēsetai\). Second future passive
indicative from \psuchō\. To breathe cool by blowing, to grow
cold, "spiritual energy blighted or chilled by a malign or
poisonous wind" (Vincent). {The love of many} (\hē agapē tōn
. Love of the brotherhood gives way to mutual hatred and

24:14 {Shall be preached} (\keruchthēsetai\). Heralded in all the
inhabited world. \En holēi tēi oikoumenēi\ supply \gēi\. It is
not here said that all will be saved nor must this language be
given too literal and detailed an application to every

24:15 {The abomination of desolation} (\to bdelugma tēs
. An allusion to Da 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. Antiochus
Epiphanes erected an altar to Zeus on the altar of Jehovah
(1Macc. 1:54,59; 6:7; 2Macc. 6:1-5). The desolation in the mind
of Jesus is apparently the Roman army (Lu 21:20) in the temple,
an application of the words of Daniel to this dread event. The
verb \bdelussomai\ is to feel nausea because of stench, to abhor,
to detest. Idolatry was a stench to God (Lu 16:15; Re 17:4).
Josephus tells us that the Romans burned the temple and offered
sacrifices to their ensigns placed by the eastern gate when they
proclaimed Titus as Emperor.

{Let him that readeth understand} (\ho anaginoskōn noeitō\). This
parenthesis occurs also in Mr 13:14. It is not to be supposed
that Jesus used these words. They were inserted by Mark as he
wrote his book and he was followed by Matthew.

24:16 {Flee unto the mountains} (\pheugetōsan eis ta orē\). The
mountains east of the Jordan. Eusebius (_H.E._ iii,5,3) says that
the Christians actually fled to Pella at the foot of the
mountains about seventeen miles south of the Sea of Galilee. They
remembered the warning of Jesus and fled for safety.

24:17 {On the housetop} (\epi tou dōmatos\). They could escape
from roof to roof and so escape, "the road of the roofs," as the
rabbis called it. There was need for haste.

24:18 {In the field} (\en tōi agrōi\). The peasant worked in his
time and left his mantle at home then as now.

24:20 {In winter nor on a sabbath} (\cheimōnos\, genitive of
time, \mēde sabbatōi\, locative of time)
. In winter because of
the rough weather. On a sabbath because some would hesitate to
make such a journey on the sabbath. Josephus in his _Wars_ gives
the best illustration of the horrors foretold by Jesus in verse

24:22 {Had been shortened} (\ekolobōthēsan\). From \kolobos\,
lopped, mutilated, as the hands, the feet. It is a second-class
condition, determined as unfulfilled. It is a prophetic figure,
the future regarded as past. {For the elect's sake} (\dia tous
. See Mt 22:14 for another use of this phrase by
Jesus and also 24:31. The siege was shortened by various
historical events like the stopping of the strengthening of the
walls by Herod Agrippa by orders from the Emperor, the sudden
arrival of Titus, the neglect of the Jews to prepare for a long
siege. "Titus himself confessed that God was against the Jews,
since otherwise neither his armies nor his engines would have
availed against their defences" (Vincent).

24:23 {Lo, here is the Christ, or here} (\idou hōde ho Christos ē
. The false prophets (24:11) create the trouble and now
false Christs (\pseudo-Christoi\, verse 24) offer a way out of
these troubles. The deluded victims raise the cries of "Lo,
here," when these false Messiahs arise with their panaceas for
public ills (political, religious, moral, and spiritual).

24:24 {Great signs and wonders} (\sēmeia megala kai terata\). Two
of the three words so often used in the N.T. about the works
(\erga\) of Jesus, the other being \dunameis\ (powers). They
often occur together of the same work (Joh 4:48; Ac 2:22; 4:30;
2Co 12:12; Heb 2:4)
. \Teras\ is a wonder or prodigy, \dunamis\,
a mighty work or power, \sēmeion\, a sign of God's purpose.
Miracle (\miraculum\) presents only the notion of wonder or
portent. The same deed can be looked at from these different
angles. But the point to note here is that mere "signs and
wonders" do not of themselves prove the power of God. These
charlatans will be so skilful that they will, {if possible} (\ei
, lead astray the very elect. The implication is that it
is not possible. People become excited and are misled and are
unable to judge of results. Often it is _post hoc, sed non
propter hoc_. Patent-medicine men make full use of the credulity
of people along this line as do spiritualistic mediums.
Sleight-of-hand men can deceive the unwary.

24:26 {In the wilderness} (\en tēi erēmōi\). Like Simon son of
Gioras (Josephus, _War_, IV,9,5,&7). {In the inner chambers} (\en
tois tameiois\)
. Like John of Giscala (Josephus, _War_, V,6,1).
False Messiahs act the role of the Great Unseen and Unknown.

24:27 {As seen} (\phainetai\). Visible in contrast to the
invisibility of the false Messiahs. Cf. Re 1:7. Like a flash of

24:28 {Carcase} (\ptōma\). As in 14:12, the corpse. Originally
a fallen body from \piptō\, to fall, like Latin _cadaver_ from
_cado_, to fall. The proverb here as in Lu 17:37, is like that
in Job 39:30; Pr 30:17. {Eagles} (\aetoi\). Perhaps the griffon
vulture, larger than the eagle, which (Aristotle) was often seen
in the wake of an army and followed Napoleon's retreat from

24:29 {Immediately} (\eutheōs\). This word, common in Mark's
Gospel as \euthus\, gives trouble if one stresses the time
element. The problem is how much time intervenes between "the
tribulation of those days" and the vivid symbolism of verse 29.
The use of \en tachei\ in Re 1:1 should make one pause before
he decides. Here we have a prophetic panorama like that with
foreshortened perspective. The apocalyptic pictures in verse 29
also call for sobriety of judgment. One may compare Joel's
prophecy as interpreted by Peter in Ac 21:16-22. Literalism is
not appropriate in this apocalyptic eschatology.

24:30 {The sign of the Son of Man in heaven} (\to sēmeion tou
huiou tou anthrōpou en ouranōi\)
. Many theories have been
suggested like the cross in the sky, etc. Bruce sees a reference
to Da 7:13 "one like the Son of man" and holds that Christ
himself is the sign in question (the genitive of apposition).
This is certainly possible. It is confirmed by the rest of the
verse: "They shall see the Son of man coming." See Mt 16:27;
26:64. The Jews had repeatedly asked for such a sign (Broadus)
as in Mt 12:38; 16:1; Joh 2:18.

24:31 {With a great sound of a trumpet} (\meta salpiggos phōnēs
. Some MSS. omit (\phōnēs\) "sound." The trumpet was the
signal employed to call the hosts of Israel to march as to war
and is common in prophetic imagery (Isa 27:13). Cf. the seventh
angel (Re 11:15). Clearly "the coming of the son of man is not
to be identified with the judgment of Jerusalem but rather forms
its preternatural background" (Bruce).

24:32 {Putteth forth its leaves} (\ta phulla ekphuēi\). Present
active subjunctive according to Westcott and Hort. If accented
\ekphuēi\ (last syllable), it is second aorist passive
subjunctive (Erasmus).

24:34 {This generation} (\hē genea hautē\). The problem is
whether Jesus is here referring to the destruction of Jerusalem
or to the second coming and end of the world. If to the
destruction of Jerusalem, there was a literal fulfilment. In the
Old Testament a generation was reckoned as forty years. This is
the natural way to take verse 34 as of 33 (Bruce), "all
things" meaning the same in both verses.

24:36 {Not even the Son} (\oude ho huios\). Probably genuine,
though absent in some ancient MSS. The idea is really involved in
the words "but the Father only" (\ei mē ho patēr monos\). It is
equally clear that in this verse Jesus has in mind the time of
his second coming. He had plainly stated in verse 34 that those
events (destruction of Jerusalem) would take place in that
generation. He now as pointedly states that no one but the Father
knows the day or the hour when these things (the second coming
and the end of the world)
will come to pass. One may, of course,
accuse Jesus of hopeless confusion or extend his confession of
ignorance of the date of the second coming to the whole chain of
events. So McNeile: "It is impossible to escape the conclusion
that Jesus as Man, expected the End, within the lifetime of his
contemporaries." And that after his explicit denial that he knew
anything of the kind! It is just as easy to attribute ignorance
to modern scholars with their various theories as to Jesus who
admits his ignorance of the date, but not of the character of the

24:37 {The days of Noah} (\hai hēmerai tou Nōe\). Jesus had used
this same imagery before to the Pharisees (Lu 17:26-30). In
Noah's day there was plenty of warning, but utter unpreparedness.
Most people are either indifferent about the second coming or
have fanciful schemes or programs about it. Few are really eager
and expectant and leave to God the time and the plans.

24:38 {Were eating} (\ēsan trōgontes\). Periphrastic imperfect.
The verb means to chew raw vegetables or fruits like nuts or

24:41 {At the mill} (\en tōi mulōi\). So Westcott and Hort and
not \mulōni\ (millhouse) Textus Receptus. The millstone and then
hand-mill which was turned by two women (\alēthousai\) as in Ex
11:5. This verb is a late form for \aleō\. There was a handle
near the edge of the upper stone.

24:42 {Watch therefore} (\grēgōreite oun\). A late present
imperative from the second perfect \egrēgora\ from \egeirō\. Keep
awake, be on the watch "therefore" because of the uncertainty of
the time of the second coming. Jesus gives a half dozen parables
to enforce the point of this exhortation (the Porter, the Master
of the House, the Faithful Servant and the Evil Servants, the Ten
Virgins, the Talents, the Sheep and the Goats)
. Matthew does not
give the Parable of the Porter (Mr 13:35-37).

24:43 {In what watch} (\poiāi phulakēi\). As in 14:25 (four
watches of the night)
. {Broken through} (\dioruchthēnai\). Digged
through the tile roof or under the floor (dirt in the poorer

24:44 {That ye think not} (\hēi ou dokeite hōrāi\). It is useless
to set the day and hour for Christ's coming. It is folly to
neglect it. This figure of the thief will be used also by Paul
concerning the unexpectedness of Christ's second coming (1Th
. See also Mt 24:50 for the unexpectedness of the coming
with punishment for the evil servant.

24:48 {My lord tarrieth} (\chronizei mou ho kurios\). That is the
temptation and to give way to indulge in fleshly appetites or to
pride of superior intellect. Within a generation scoffers will be
asking where is the promise of the coming of Christ (2Pe 3:4).
They will forget that God's clock is not like our clock and that
a day with the Lord may be a thousand years or a thousand years
as one day (2Pe 3:8).

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 24)