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The Destruction of the Temple Foretold

24

As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

Signs of the End of the Age

3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

Persecutions Foretold

9 “Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

The Desolating Sacrilege

15 “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), 16then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; 18the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 19Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 20Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. 21For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’—do not believe it. 24For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25Take note, I have told you beforehand. 26So, if they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “Immediately after the suffering of those days

the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will not give its light;

the stars will fall from heaven,

and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The Necessity for Watchfulness

36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

The Faithful or the Unfaithful Slave

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 47Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 48But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. 51He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


26. Lo, he is in the desert. Luke connects this discourse with another reply of Christ; for, having been interrogated by the Pharisees about the coming of the kingdom of God, he replied, that it would not come with observation; and then follows in Luke’s narrative that, turning to his disciples, he informed them that the days would come when they would no longer see a day of the Son of man. By these words he intended to charge them

to walls in the light before the darkness of the night overtook them, (John 12:35;)

for this ought to have been a very powerful excitement to endeavor to make progress, so long as they enjoyed the presence of Christ, when they 1earned that very serious disturbances were at hand. Whether or not Christ admonished his disciples twice on this subject is uncertain; but I think it. probable that Luke, while he was speaking of the coming of the kingdom of God introduced sentences taken from a different occasion, which he frequently does, as we have seen in other instances.

But as this passage has been, through ignorance, tortured in various ways, that the reader may ascertain the true meaning, he must attend to the contrast between a state of concealment and that extension of the kingdom of Christ far and wide, and which would be sudden and unexpected, as the lightning dashes from the east to the west. For we know that the false Christs—in accordance with the gross and foolish hope of that nation—drew along with them as large bodies of men as they could collect into the recesses of the desert, or into caverns, or other places of retirement, in order to throw off the yoke of the Roman government by force and by arms. The meaning therefore is, that every one who collects his forces into a secret place, in order to regain the freedom of the nation by arms, falsely pretends to be the Christ; for the Redeemer is sent to diffuse his grace suddenly and unexpectedly through every quarter of the world. But these two things are quite contrary, to shut up redemption within some corner, and to spread it through the whole world. The disciples were thus reminded that they must no longer seek a Redeemer within the small enclosure of Judea, because he will suddenly extend the limits of his kingdom to the uttermost ends of the world. And, indeed, this astonishing rapidity, with which the gospel flew through every part of the world, was a manifest testimony of divine power. For it could not be the result of human industry, that the light of the gospel, as soon as it appear, darted from one side of the world to the opposite side like lightning; and therefore it is not without reason that Christ introduces this circumstance for demonstrating and magnifying his heavenly glory. Besides, by holding out this vast extent of his kingdom, he intended to show that the desolation of Judea would not hinder him from reigning.

28 Wheresoever the carcass is. The meaning is, that by whatever methods Satan endeavors to scatter the children of God in various directions, still in Christ himself is the sacred bond of union, by which they must be kept united. For whence comes the dispersion, but that many depart from Christ, in whom alone our strength lies? Here then is a method laid down for promoting a holy union, that the separations produced by errors may not tear in pieces the body of the Church; and that method is, when we remain united to Christ. This ought to be carefully observed; for Christ does not restrict us either to the primacy of the Roman See, or to any other foolery, but employs this method alone for binding his Church together, that all in every quarter should look to him as the only head. Hence it follows, that those who are united to him by pure faith are beyond the risk of schism. Let the adherents of Rome now go, and exclaim that all are schismatics who do not allow themselves to be separated from Christ, that they may transfer their allegiance to a robber.

There also will the eagles be gathered together. When the Papists interpret the word carcass to denote the company of those who profess the same faith, and allegorically explain the eagles to represent acute and sagacious men, 149149     “Les gens subtils et de jugement, à scavoir les docteurs;” — “men of acuteness and judgment, namely, the doctors.” it is excessively absurd, 150150     “Il n’y a ne rime ne raison en cela;” — “there is neither rhyme nor reason in it.” for Christ had manifestly no other design than to call to himself, and to retain in union to him, the children of God, wherever they were scattered. Nor does Christ simply employ the word body, but (πτῶμα) carcass; 151151     “Aussi le mot Grec duquel use l’Evangeliste, ne signifie pas simplement un corps, mais un corps mort.” — “The Greek word, too, which the Evangelist employs, does not denote simply a body, but a dead body. and he ascribes nothing to eagles but what we might apply to crows or vultures, according to the nature of the country which we inhabit. I attach as little value to the ingenuity of other commentators, who say that the death of Christ had a sweet savor, to draw the elect to God; for, in my opinion, Christ intended to argue from the less to the greater, that if birds have so great sagacity as to flock in great numbers from distant places to a single carcass, it would be disgraceful in believers not to assemble to the Author of life, from whom alone they derive their actual nourishment.

Matthew 24:29. And immediately after the tribulation of those days. Christ comes now to speak of the full manifestation of his kingdom, about which he was at first interrogated by the disciples, and promises that, after they have been tried by so many distressing events, the redemption will arrive in due time. The principal object of his reply was, to confirm his disciples in good hope, that they might not be dismayed on account of the troubles and confusion that would arise. For this reason, he does not speak of his coming in simple terms, but employs those modes of expression which were common among the prophets, by which, the more attentively they were considered, so much the more severe would be the contest of temptation experienced by the reader, in consequence of the opposite character of the event. For what could be more strange than to see the kingdom of Christ not only despised, but oppressed by the cross, loaded with many reproaches, and overwhelmed by every kind of tribulation, that kingdom which the prophets had frequently described in such magnificent language? Might it not be asked, where was that majesty which would darken the sun, and moon, and stars, shake the whole frame of the world, and change the ordinary course of nature? Our Lord now meets these temptations, declaring that, though these predictions are not immediately fulfilled, they will at length be fully justified by the event. The meaning therefore is, that the predictions which had been formerly made about the miraculous shaking of heaven and earth, ought not to be restricted to the commencement of redemption, because the prophets had embraced the whole course of it, till it should arrive at perfection.

Having now ascertained Christ’s intention, we shall have no difficulty in perceiving the meaning of the words to be, that heaven will not be darkened immediately, but after that the Church shall have passed through the whole course of its tribulations. Not that the glory and majesty of the kingdom of Christ will not appear till his last coming, but because till that time is delayed the accomplishment of those things which began to take place after his resurrection, and of which God gave to his people nothing more than a taste, that he might lead them farther on in the path of hope and patience. According to this argument, Christ keeps the minds of believers in a state of suspense till the last day, that they may not imagine those declarations which the prophets made, about the future restoration, to have failed of their accomplishment, because they lie buried for a long period under the thick darkness of tribulations.

The tribulation of those days is improperly interpreted by some commentators to mean the destruction of Jerusalem; for, on the contrary, it is a general recapitulation (ἀνακεφαλαίωσις) of all the evils of which Christ had previously spoken. To encourage his followers to patience, he employs this argument, that the tribulations will at length have a happy and joyful result. As if he had said, “So long as the Church shall continue its pilgrimage in the world, there will be dark and cloudy weather; but as soon as an end shall have been put to those distresses, a day will arrive when the majesty of the Church shall be illustriously displayed.” In what manner the sun will be darkened we cannot now conjecture, but the event will show. He does not indeed mean that the stars will actually fall, but according to the apprehension of men; and accordingly Luke only predicts that there will be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars. The meaning therefore is, that there will be such a violent commotion of the firmament of heaven, that the stars themselves will be supposed to fall. Luke also adds that there will be a dreadful commotion of the sea, the sea and the waves roaring, so that men will faint through fear and alarm. In a word, all the creatures above and below will be, as it were, heralds to summon men to that tribunal, which they will continue to treat with ungodly and wanton contempt till the last day.

30. Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man. By this term Christ points out more clearly the difference between the present condition of his kingdom and its future glory; for it is a sort of admission that, amidst the darkness of tribulations, the majesty of Christ will not fully appear, and men will not perceive the redemption which he has brought. The confused mixture of things which we now perceive does certainly, on the one hand, darken our minds, and, on the other hand, bury the grace of Christ, and make it almost vanish from our sight, so that the salvation obtained by him, so far as relates to the perception of the flesh, is not comprehended. And therefore he declares that he will appear openly at his last coming and, surrounded by the heavenly power, which will be a sign erected on an elevated spot, he will turn the eyes of the whole world upon himself. 153153     “La puissance celeste, de laquelle il sera environné, servira comme d’une enseigne desployee pour contreindre tout le monde à le regarder;” — “the heavenly power, by which he shall be surrounded, will serve as a standard displayed to compel the whole world to look at him.”

Perceiving that the greater part of men would despise his doctrine and oppose his reign, he threatens also against all nations mourning and lamentation; because it is proper, that by his presence he should crush and destroy the rebels, who, while he was absent, despised his authority. He says this, partly to bring the haughty and refractory to repentance, by striking them with terror; and partly to confirm the minds of his followers amidst so great obstinacy existing in the world. For it is no slight ground of offense to see the ungodly living without concern, because they think that their mockery of God will remain unpunished; and again, there is nothing to which we are more prone than to be captivated by the allurements of the prosperity which they enjoy, so as to lose the fear of God. That the joy by which they are intoxicated may not excite the envy of believers, Christ declares that it will at length be turned into mourning and gnashing of teeth.

He alludes, I think, to Zechariah 12:11-14, where God, informing them that a striking display of his judgment will soon be made, declares that there will be lamentation in every family, such as is not usually seen at the funeral of a first-born son. There is no reason, therefore, why any person should expect the conversion of the world, for at length—when it will be too late, and will yield them no advantage—

they shall look on him whom they pierced,
(Zechariah 12:10.)

Next follows the explanation of that sin, that they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds, who at that time was living on earth in the garb of a despised servant. And thus he warns them that the glory of his kingdom will be heavenly, and not earthly, as the disciples had falsely imagined.

And he shall send his angels. He describes the effect of his power, that he will send his angels to gather his elect from the most distant parts of the world; for by the extremity of heaven is meant the most distant region. But Christ speaks hyperbolically, in order to show that the elect, even though they were carried away from the earth and scattered in the air, will again be gathered, so to be united in the enjoyment of eternal life under Him as their head, and enjoy the expected inheritance; for Christ intended to console his disciples, that they might not be altogether discouraged by the lamentable dispersion of the Church. Whenever, therefore, we perceive the Church scattered by the wiles of Satan, or torn in pieces by the cruelty of the ungodly, or disturbed by false doctrines, or tossed about by storms, let us learn to turn our eyes to this gathering of the elect. And if it appear to us a thing difficult to be believed, let us call to remembrance the power of the angels, which Christ holds out to us for the express purpose of raising our views above human means. For, though the Church be now tormented by the malice of men, or even broken by the violence of the billows, and miserably torn in pieces, so as to have no stability in the world, yet we ought always to cherish confident hope, because it will not be by human means, but by heavenly power, which will be far superior to every obstacle, that the Lord will gather his Church.

Matthew 24:32. Now learn a similitude from the fig-tree. I do not suppose the meaning of this to be merely that, during the state of confusion which has been mentioned, there will be as evident a sign that the coming of Christ is nigh, as that by which we know with certainty that the summer is at hand, when the trees begin to grow green; but, in my opinion, Christ expresses something else. For as in winter the trees, contracted by the severity of the cold, show greater vigor, but in spring lose their toughness, and appear more feeble, and are even cleft asunder to open up passage for fresh twigs, so the afflictions by which, according to the perception of the flesh, the Church is softened, do not in any way impair its vigor. As the inward sap diffused through the whole tree, after having produced this softness, collects strength to throw itself out for renovating what was dead, so the Lord draws from the corruption of the outward man the perfect restoration of his people. The general instruction conveyed is, that the weak and frail condition of the Church ought not to lead us to conclude that it is dying, but rather to expect the immortal glory for which the Lord prepares his people by the cross and by afflictions; for what Paul maintains in reference to each of the members must be fulfilled in the whole body, that

if the outward man is decayed the inward man is renewed day by day, (2 Corinthians 4:16.)

What Matthew and Mark had stated more obscurely, know you that it is nigh at the door, is more fully explained by Luke, know you that the kingdom of God is at hand; and in this passage the kingdom of God is not represented—as in many other passages—at its commencement, but at its perfection, and that according to the views of those whom Christ was teaching. For they did not view the kingdom of God in the Gospel as consisting in the peace and joy of faith and in spiritual righteousness, (Romans 14:17,) but sought that blessed rest and glory which is concealed under hope till the last day.

34. This generation shall not pass away. Though Christ employs a general expression, yet he does not extend the discourses to all the miseries which would befall the Church, but merely informs them, that before a single generation shall have been completed, they will learn by experience the truth of what he has said. For within fifty years the city was destroyed and the temple was razed, the whole country was reduced to a hideous desert, and the obstinacy of the world rose up against God. Nay more, their rage was inflamed to exterminate the doctrine of salvation, false teachers arose to corrupt the pure gospel by their impostures, religion sustained amazing shocks, and the whole company of the godly was miserably distressed. Now though the same evils were perpetrated in uninterrupted succession for many ages afterwards, yet what Christ said was true, that, before the close of a single generation, believers would feel in reality, and by undoubted experience, the truth of his prediction; for the apostles endured the same things which we see in the present day. 155155     “Que nous voyons aujourdhui advenir aux fideles;” — “which we see in the present day happen to believers.” And yet it was not the design of Christ to promise to his followers that their calamities would be terminated within a short time, (for then he would have contradicted himself, having previously warned them that the end was not yet;) but, in order to encourage them to perseverance, he expressly foretold that those things related to their own age. The meaning therefore is: “This prophecy does not relate to evils that are distant, and which posterity will see after the lapse of many centuries, but which are now hanging over you, and ready to fall in one mass, so that there is no part of it which the present generation will not experience.” So then, while our Lord heaps upon a, single generation every kind of calamities, he does not by any means exempt future ages from the same kind of sufferings, but only enjoins the disciples to be prepared for enduring them all with firmness.

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away. In order to secure greater confidence in his statements, he illustrates their certainty by this comparison, that it is more firm and stable than the entire structure of the world. 156156     “Que tout l’ordre de nature qui se voit au ciel et à la terre;” — “than the whole order of nature which is seen in heaven and in earth.” But this form of expression is explained by commentators in a variety of ways. Some refer it as the passing away of heaven and earth at the last day, by which their frail constitution will be brought to an end; while others explain it to mean, that sooner shall the entire structure of the world perish than the prophecy which we have just heard shall fail to be accomplished. But as there can be no doubt that Christ expressly intended to raise the minds of his followers above the contemplation of the world, I think that he refers to the continual changes which we see in the world, and affirms, that we ought not to judge of his sayings by the changeful character of the world, which resembles the billows of the sea; for we know how easily our minds are carried away by the affairs of the world, when it is undergoing incessant change. For this reason, Christ enjoins his disciples not to allow their attention to be occupied by the world, but to look down, from what may be called the lofty watch-tower of divine providence, on all that he foretold would happen. Yet from this passage we draw a useful doctrine, that our salvation, because it is founded on the promises of Christ, does not fluctuate according to the various agitations of the world, but remains unshaken, provided only that our faith rises above heaven and earth, and ascends to Christ himself.

36. But of that day and hour. By this sentence, Christ intended to hold the minds of believers in suspense that they might not, by a false imagination, fix any time for the final redemption. We know how fickle our minds are, and how much we are tickled by a vain curiosity to know more than is proper. Christ likewise perceived that the disciples were pushing forward with excessive haste to enjoy a triumph. He therefore wishes the day of his coming to be the object of such expectation and desire, that none shall dare to inquire when it will happen. In short, he wishes his disciples so to walk in the light of faith, that while they are uncertain as to the time, they may patiently wait for the revelation of him. We ought therefore to be on our guard, lest our anxiety about the time be carried farther than the Lord allows; for the chief part of our wisdom lies in confining ourselves soberly within the limits of God’s word. That men may not feel uneasy at not knowing that day, Christ represents angels as their associates in this matter; for it would be a proof of excessive pride and wicked covetousness, to desire that we who creep on the earth should know more than is permitted to the angels in heaven. 157157     “Aux anges de Paradis;” — “to the angels in Paradise.”

Mark adds, nor the Son himself. And surely that man must be singularly mad, who would hesitate to submit to the ignorance which even the Son of God himself did not hesitate to endure on our account. But many persons, thinking that this was unworthy of Christ, have endeavored to mitigate the harshness of this opinion by a contrivance of their own; and perhaps they were driven to employ a subterfuge by the malice of the Arians, who attempted to prove from it that Christ is not the true and only God. So then, according to those men, Christ did not know the last day, because he did not choose to reveal it to men. But since it is manifest that the same kind of ignorance is ascribed to Christ as is ascribed to the angels, we must endeavor to find some other meaning which is more suitable. Before stating it, however, I shall briefly dispose of the objections of those who think that it is an insult offered to the Son of God, if it be said that any kind of ignorance can properly apply to him.

As to the first objection, that nothing is unknown to God, the answer is easy. For we know that in Christ the two natures were united into one person in such a manner that each retained its own properties; and more especially the Divine nature was in a state of repose, and did not at all exert itself, 158158     “La Divinité s’est tenue comme cachee; c’est à dire, n’a point demonstré sa vertu;” — “the Divine nature was kept, as it were, concealed; that is, did not display `its power.” whenever it was necessary that the human nature should act separately, according to what was peculiar to itself, in discharging the office of Mediator. There would be no impropriety, therefor in saying that Christ, who knew all things, (John 21:17) was ignorant of something in respect of his perception as a man; for otherwise he could not have been liable to grief and anxiety, and could not have been like us, (Hebrews 2:17.) Again, the objection urged by some—that ignorance cannot apply to Christ, because it is the punishment of sin — is beyond measure ridiculous. For, first, it is prodigious folly to assert that the ignorance which is ascribed to angels proceeds from sin; but they discover themselves to be equally foolish on another ground, by not perceiving that Christ clothed himself with our flesh, for the purpose of enduring the punishment due to our sins. And if Christ, as man, did not know the last day, that does not any more derogate from his Divine nature than to have been mortal.

I have no doubt that he refers to the office appointed to him by the Father as in a former instance, when he said that it did not belong to him to place this or that person at his right or left hand, (Matthew 20:23; Mark 5:40.) For (as I explained under that passage 159159     Harmony, vol. 2, p. 421 ) he did not absolutely say that this was not in his power, but the meaning was, that he had not been sent by the Father with this commission, so long as he lived among mortals. So now I understand that, so far as he had come down to us to be Mediator, until he had fully discharged his office that information was not given to him which he received after his resurrection; for then he expressly declared that power over all things had been given to him, (Matthew 28:18.)

Matthew 24:37. But as the days of Noah were. Although Christ lately expressed his desire to keep the minds of his followers in suspense, that they might not inquire too anxiously about the last day; yet, lest the indifference arising out of the enjoyments of the world should lull them to sleep, he now exhorts them to solicitude. He wished them to be uncertain as to his coming, but yet to be prepared to expect him every day, or rather every moment. 163163     “De jour en jour, ou plustost d’heure en heure;” — “from day to day, or rather from hour to hour.” To shake off their sloth, and to excite them more powerfully to be on their guard, he foretells that the end will come, while the world is sunk in brutal indifference; just as in the days of Noah all the nations were swallowed up by the deluge, when they had no expectation of it, but rioted in gluttony and voluptuousness, and shortly afterwards, the inhabitants of Sodom, while they were abandoning themselves without fear to sensuality, were consumed by fire from heaven. Since indifference of this sort will exist about the time of the last day, believers ought not to indulge themselves after the example of the multitude.

We have now ascertained the design of Christ, which was, to inform believers that, in order to prevent themselves from being suddenly overtaken, they ought always to keep watch, because the day of the last judgment will come when it is not expected. Luke alone mentions Sodom, and that in the seventeenth chapter, where he takes occasion, without attending to the order of time, to relate this discourse of Christ. But it would not have been improper that the two Evangelists should have satisfied themselves with a single example, though Christ mentioned two, more especially when those examples perfectly agreed with each other in this respect, that at one time the whole human race, in the midst of unbroken indolence and pleasure, was suddenly swallowed up, 164164     “Avoit esté soudainement destruit par les eaux;” — “was suddenly destroyed by the waters.” with the exception of a few individuals. When he says that men were giving their whole attention to eating, drinking, marriage, and other worldly employments, at the time when God destroyed the whole world by a deluge, and Sodom by thunder; these words mean that they were as fully occupied with the conveniences and enjoyments of the present life, as if there had been no reason to dread any change. And though we shall immediately find him commanding the disciples to guard against surfeiting and earthly cares, yet in this passage he does not directly condemn the intemperance, but rather the obstinacy, of those times, in consequence of which, they despised the threatenings of God, and awaited with indifference their awful destruction. Promising to themselves that the condition in which they then were would remain unchanged, they did not scruple to follow without concern their ordinary pursuits. And in itself it would not have been improper, or worthy of condemnation, to make provision for their wants, if they had not with gross stupidity opposed the judgment of God, and rushed, with closed eyes, to unbridled iniquity, as if there had been no Judge in heaven. So now Christ declares that the last age of the world will be in a state of stupid indifference, so that men will think of nothing but the present life, and will extend their cares to a long period, pursuing their ordinary course of life, as if the world were always to remain in the same condition. The comparisons are highly appropriate; for if we consider what then happened, we shall no longer be deceived by the belief that the uniform order of events which we see in the world will always continue. For within three days of the time, when every man was conducting his affairs in the utmost tranquillity, the world was swallowed up by a deluge, and five cities were consumed by fire.

39. And knew not until the deluge came. The source and cause of their ignorance was, that unbelief had blinded their minds; as, on the other hand, we are informed by the Apostle, that Noah beheld at a distance, by the eyes of faith, the vengeance of God which was still concealed, so as to entertain an early dread of it, (Hebrews 11:7.) And here Christ compares Noah with the rest of the world, and Lot with the inhabitants of Sodom, that believers may learn to withdraw, lest they wander and be cut off along with others. But it must be observed that the reprobate, at that time, were hardened in their wickedness, because the Lord did not show his grace to any but his servants, by giving them a salutary warning to beware in proper time. Not that information of the future deluge was altogether withheld from the inhabitants of the world—before whose eyes Noah, in building the ark for more than a hundred years, presented a warning of the approaching calamity—but because one man was specially warned, by divine revelation, of the future destruction of the whole world, and raised up to cherish the hope of salvation. Though the report of the last judgment is now widely circulated, and though there are a few persons who have been taught by God to perceive that Christ will come as a Judge in due time, yet it is proper that those persons should be aroused by this extraordinary kindness of God, and that their senses should be sharpened, lest they give themselves up to the indifference which so generally prevails. For Peter compares the ark of Noah with our baptism on this ground, that a small company of men, separated from the multitude, is saved amidst the waters, (1 Peter 3:20, 21.) To this small number, therefore, our minds must be directed, if we desire to escape in safety.


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