Eschatological Notes on Matthew 24-25
This Sunday I will finish preaching through Matthew 24-25. Although, I’ve studied this passage many times; working through it again has really “firmed” up some conclusions for me. Below are some notes on what I’ve learned.
- The entire context has to be taken into consideration. Jesus is passing out judgment on the nation for their disbelief. He continues that judgment in Matthew 24.
- The disciples ask two questions in 24:3 (it looks like 3, but the Greek reveals it to be 2). Jesus answers these questions. No more, no less. When will the temple be destroyed and what will be the sign of your coming?
- The disciples seem to think that both events (the destruction of the temple and the close of the age) will happen at the same time.
- In Matthew 24:4-14, Jesus explains to his disciples that global and political upheaval will characterize the time until the destruction of the temple. When we read about the 1st c. world we see these things happen.
- These “signs” of 24:4-14 are not meant to determine the return of Christ, but to prepare his disciples not to be alarmed or deceived because the end is still not yet.
- The word to the church is the same: do not be alarmed or deceived because all these things will characterize the last days (the time since Christ’s resurrection and ascension).
- In Matthew 24:15-28, Jesus speaks directly to the destruction of the temple, which came to fulfillment in 70AD.
- I believe 24:15-28 has as double-fulfillment; a time in which the church will face intense persecution. But again, we must not assume that persecution is not happening now because persecution has always existed against God’s people. Rather, the church must not be deceived, the end is still not yet. The power of deception is such that even the church could be led astray if possible.
- Jesus speaks directly of his return in Matthew 24:29-35. The only discernible sign of his return is the return itself (24:30). Therefore, speculation and obsession about the “end-times” should not characterize the people of God.
- The language of 24:29-31 is the language of the OT. His return will be undeniable. His return is singular, powerful, and visible.
- The events surrounding 24:4-28 did come to fulfillment in the generation of the disciples (24:34). The people of God can take comfort in the fact that Jesus’ words will not pass away.
- The primary message of Jesus is do not be deceived because the end is not yet. He has told us beforehand.
- While Jesus spends the first part of the discourse on the theology of the end; the last part (which is significantly more) is spent on how to live in light of his return. David Turner is correct to say that, “Eschatological correctness is ultimately a matter of ethics, not speculation.”
- Jesus has told us what we are to know (don’t be deceived); but now he tells us what we don’t know (when he will return). As Jesus rests in the Father’s sovereign plan, so should we (24:36).
- As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man (24:37-42). In Noah’s day judgment came suddenly. In Noah’s day, the righteous were left and the wicked were taken away. When Jesus comes he will do so suddenly and in judgment. At the end of the age the righteous will be left to inherit a new heavens and earth, while the wicked will be removed.
- Jesus uses five consecutive parables to explain his return. The first admonishes his people that since they know he will return to stay awake and not busy themselves with other things (24:43-44). The second warns against worldliness while the Master is away (24:45-51).
- The third parable of the 10 virgins warns against being unprepared for his return and against laziness (25:1-13). Each person is responsible to prepare to meet the Lord. Unpreparedness will result in being excluded from the marriage feast (cf., Matt 22:1-14).
- The final two parables explain what believers are to do until Christ comes again. First, believers are to use the resources and gifts God has given to them (25:14-30). Failure to use these resource is a direct failure to know the Master. The final parable explains how love and care for Jesus’ people is a direct reflection on whether we know him or not (25:31-46). Our actions toward his people carry eternal significance. Kevin DeYoung rightly states, “if we are too embarrassed, too lazy, or too cowardly to support fellow Christians at our doorstep who depend on our assistance and are suffering for the sake of the gospel, we will go to hell.”
It continues to amaze me how much uproar there is when eschatology is discussed among believers. And yet, if we really listen to the Bible, it’s quite simple. Don’t be alarmed, don’t be frightened, and don’t be deceived; but be awake, sober-minded, and persevere in holiness.
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 2:28-3:3