The Expository Files


Take Some Confidence In The Simple
Matthew 24

The 24th chapter of Matthew may have a reputation that is exaggerated. Considered one of the most misunderstood and abused passages in the New Testament, we may be tempted to just skip it. “Too difficult for me, I’ll study it later.” I hope this article gets to you before you take that approach. Let me bring up four simple things that can help you get through the chapter and get the point.

ONE, use the Old Testament as your guide to the figurative (apocalyptic) language. To discover what “the abomination of desolation” is about, consult the book of Daniel. To learn more about verse 29, see Isa. 13:10; Ezek. 32:7; Isa. 34:4-6. Becoming acquainted with the language of divine judgment typically used by the prophets will provide great help in getting through Matthew 24. {It will also form a sound background for the study of Revelation!}

TWO, start by observing these simple facts of context: Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple area in Jerusalem. The disciples called attention to the buildings of the temple. Jesus said these buildings would be destroyed. They wanted to know more. All of this is found by reading verses 1-3. You won’t need a commentary, dictionary, lexicon or concordance. Fix in your mind the scene, the people, the setting, the questions. This is easy.

THREE, read the parallel accounts in Mark and Luke. Luke 21:20-24 specifically identifies Jerusalem as the object of this great judgment. See also Mark 13:1-27.

FOUR, observe the difference between what would happen soon and be accompanied by signs (see verses 4-35), and what would be distant and not accompanied by signs (verses 36-51). The destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) would happen within the lifetime of those listening to Jesus (see verse 34). The end of the world? “…you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” In the earlier section (vss. 4-35), Jesus said “know that it is near,” but in this section (36-51), he gives no signs and says, “you do not know.” That must be a contextual factor you calculate into your conclusions about the chapter.

I’ve not answered all your questions or solved all the problems. My only purpose has been to give the reader some confidence and direction. The destruction of Jerusalem is history (70 AD). But there is another event ahead, in which we will all participate. “Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord id coming,” (Matt. 24:42).

By Warren E Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 13.3;  March 2006