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Matthew 24:35-51 Notes

Matt. 23 & 24:1-35 Summaries:

Matthew 23:1-39 - Jesus Denounces the Scribes and Pharisees

Summary:  In a series of denunciations, each beginning with the formulaic "woe to you," Jesus chastises the leaders who fail to follow the teaching of the Messiah-that greatness means to be a servant and that it is those who humble themselves who will be exalted.

Analysis:  In this lengthy series we hear Jesus' criticism of leaders who in their actions fail to live up to what they teach. As such, the "woes" pronounced are negative mirror images of the "blessings" of the Sermon on the Mount and the actions described are a failure to exhibit the congruency of "hearing" and "doing" for which it calls.  The harsh criticisms of the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees have often led readers to unfortunate stereotyping of these Jewish leaders. But Jesus clearly switches in 23:8-12 to address Matthew's contemporary hearers about what it means to follow the Messiah. The double reversals of greatness and being a servant, of exaltation and humility, recall important themes of the call to discipleship in the kingdom. The conclusion of the chapter with Jesus' lament over Jerusalem, his expression of compassion for God's children, and his longing for those who will see his coming as a sign of God's blessing certainly recall John's earlier question and the issue of response to Jesus as one of blessing or offense: "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" (11:2-6).

Matthew 24:1-35 - The Signs of the End of the Age

Summary:  In regard to concerns about the "end times" Jesus cautions the disciple community not to be mislead by false promises about the Messiah, but rather to be encouraged by the promise that there will be clear signs when the Son of Man comes to gather his chosen ones.

Analysis:  The disciples' notice of the temple buildings calls for Jesus to remark on their future destruction (a remark that many readers see as a clue to the dating of Matthew as post destruction of the temple). The disciples immediately turn this to reflection on Jesus' coming and ask "when" it will be and "what sign" will accompany it. Jesus warns that there will be catastrophic events and persecution because of his name, but cautions them not to be led astray by false messianic claims about the end. Instead they are to focus on the need for endurance and the promise that the good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed to all nations before the end (24:13-14; see also 28:18-20). There will be suffering, but they are not to be misled by false promises about the Messiah (24:15-28). Instead they should be encouraged by the promise that when the Son of Man comes he will gather his chosen ones (24:29-31), that the signs will be so clear as not to be missed (24:32-33), and that Gods' words will abide firm and will never pass away (24:35).


Study Guide for Matthew 24 - Jesus' Olivet Discourse

D. More on His coming, but from a different approach.

1. (Matt. 24:36) Jesus says that the day and hour of His return is unknowable by men, and even unknowable by angels.

36 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,  but the Father only.

a. Of that day and hour no one knows: Here, Jesus refers back to the original question of Matthew 24:3 (what will be the sign of Your coming?). His answer is somewhat unexpected - saying of that day and hour no one knows.

i. To give this idea the strongest emphasis, Jesus claimed that this knowledge was reserved for His Father only. If Jesus Himself - at least during His earthly ministry - did not know this day and hour, it emphasizes the foolishness of any later person making certain predictions regarding the prophetic timetable.

b. No one knows: Based on what He had told us about the abomination of desolation, we might have expected that the exact day and hour could be known. After all, Daniel set the day of Jesus' return as being exactly 1,290 days after the abomination of desolation (Daniel 12:11).

i. In this, there is a dilemma. How can the day of Jesus' coming be both completely unknown, and at the same time be known to the day according to Daniel 12:11?

2. (Matt. 24:37-39) Jesus says that His coming will be when the world is as it was in the days of Noah.

37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 

a. As the days of Noah were: Jesus explained what He meant by the days of Noah. It means life centered round the normal things: eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. In other words, life will be business as usual; reprobate perhaps, but usual.

i. Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage: Bruce notes that "Some charge these with sinister meaning: [eating], hinting at gluttony because often used of beasts, though also, in the sense of eating, of men ... [marrying and giving in marriage], euphemistically pointing at sexual licences on both sides." Yet he comes to the conclusion, "The idea rather seems to be that all things went on as usual, as if nothing were going to happen."

ii. We should also remember that the days of Noah were also marked by violence and demonic oppression (Genesis 6:1-5).

b. And did not know until the flood came and took them all away: Though the people in the days of Noah were warned, judgment eventually came. To those who had ignored the warnings, it came suddenly and unexpectedly.

i. "That the coming of the Son of Man takes place at an unknown time can only be true if in fact life seems to be going on pretty much as usual - just as in the days before the Flood." (Carson)

ii. In this, there is a dilemma. How can Jesus come to a "business as usual" world, and a world experiencing the worst calamities ever seen on earth?

3. (Matt. 24:40-44) Jesus cautions His disciples to be ready for an unexpected coming.

40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master 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. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

a. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left: Jesus here pointed to curious disappearances; to a catching away of some at the coming of the Son of Man (as also described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

i. "Taken is the same verb used, e.g., in 1:20; 17:1; 18:16; 20:17; it implies to take someone to be with you, and therefore here points to the salvation rather than the destruction of the one 'taken'." (France)

b. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming: Since the day and hour of this coming are unknowable, Jesus' followers must be on constant guard for His coming.

i. Here again is the Second Coming dilemma.

- Is it at an unexpected hour or is it positively predicted?

- Is it business as usual or worldwide cataclysm?

- Is it meeting Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) or is He coming with the saints (Zechariah 14:5)?

ii. William Barclay describes one aspect of the difficulty here: "It is in two sections and they seem to contradict each other. The first (verses 32-35) seem to indicate that, as a man can tell by the signs of nature when summer is on the way, so he can tell by the signs of the world when the Second Coming is on the way. . . . The second section (verses 36-41) says quite definitely that no one knows the time of the Second Coming, not the angels, not even Jesus himself, but only God; and that it will come upon men with the suddenness of a rainstorm out of a blue sky."

iii. The dilemma is resolved by seeing that there are actually "two" second comings. One is in the air, for the church - commonly known as the rapture. The other is to the world, coming with the church, commonly known as the Second Coming of Jesus. The "contradictions" in Matthew 24 (and the much of the rest of prophecy) are often solved by seeing there are really references to "two" returns of Jesus.

c. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect: We must not escape the emphasis. We must be ready, because His coming for us is without warning. Jesus follows with a few parables to drive home this point.

i. "Suetonius tells us that it was a piece of Julius Caesar's policy never to fore-acquaint his soldiers of any set time of removal or onset, that he might ever have them in readiness to draw forth whithersoever he would." (Trapp)

E. Parable of the two servants.

1. (Matt. 24:45-47) The faithful servant.

45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant,[b] whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.

a. Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing: Jesus told us that we must carry on with diligence while the Lord is gone. We must be that faithful and wise servant who takes care of his master's business while the master is away.

b. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods: Jesus also promised that we will be rewarded for our diligence. The servants serve the master, but the master knows how to take care of and reward the servants.

2. (Matt. 24:48-51) The evil servant.

48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants[c] and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

a. If that evil servant says in his heart, "My master is delaying his coming": Jesus warns us of the attitude which says, "my master is delaying his coming." We must live in constant anticipation of Jesus' return, and that means being about our business for Him now.

i. The most dangerous lie is not "There is no God", not "there is no hell"; but the most dangerous lie of Satan is "there is no hurry." It is not small thing to say "Jesus is not coming today, or for several years" because your system of prophecy demands it. We need to be ready for the immanent return of Jesus Christ.

b. Begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards: The evil servant, who was not ready for the master's return, sinned in at least three ways.

- He was not about the business that the master left for him.

- He fought with and mistreated his fellow servants.

- He gave himself to the pleasures of the world instead of serving his master.

i. This emphasis on constant readiness is a challenge for the Christian today. Is can be said that many Christians are not ready in the same three ways. Each reader should be greatly impressed by the urgency of Jesus' appeal.

c. Cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: The faithful and wise servant was rewarded, but so was the evil servant. He was rewarded for His wickedness, and he would have the portion with the hypocrites he deserved.

i. Cut him in two: "The probable meaning is: will cut him in two (so to speak) with a whip = thrash him, the base slave, unmercifully. It is a strong word, selected to sympathy with the master's rage." (Bruce)

Matt. 24:35-51 Lesson - Second Baptist Church

Introduction:  Many people feel a great deal of fear and trepidation when talking about the end of the world. Many Christians have all kinds of baggage after seeing charts and predictions about the end of the world and what it will look like. We certainly don't have all the answers about the end of the world, but this passage gives us an example of Jesus speaking with clarity about a very critical facet of the Christian doctrine of the end times. What is this important thing that we much remember? It's simple: we don't know when Jesus is going to return, so we must be ready at all times. Our passage is from Matthew 24. Our main points:

1) Jesus' Return will be a real, historical event

2) Jesus expects us to be ready for His return

3) Upon Jesus' return, we will be rewarded if we are found ready.

1) Jesus' return will be a real, historical event

36 "But as for that day and hour no one knows it-not even the angels in heaven-except the Father alone. 37 For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. 39 And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; one will be taken and one left.

Jesus picks up in verse 36 in the middle of a conversation about His return. This conversation would have been strange to the disciples, because they still did not understand that Jesus would soon be leaving them. After hinting about the coming of the 'End of the Age,' the disciples question Jesus about what will happen at this time. Jesus tells them that many will be misled by those claiming to be the Christ (verse 5), wars will break out between nations, famines and earthquakes will come (verse 7), and eventually 'They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory' (verse 30). Verses 36-41 go even further to hammer home the fact that Jesus makes the reality of his real, physical return extremely clear. It is easy to overlook this as we settle into the normal routines of our lives, but the scriptures make it very clear that the return of Jesus will happen, and we must act accordingly. Jesus used the example of the days of Noah - people were enjoying the usual ebb and flow of life with no thought of imminent judgment. However, the flood took them all away, except for Noah and his family. The Apostle Peter referred to the flood in 2 Peter 3:3-6. Noah preached, calling people to repentance but he was ignored. Peter also mentioned skeptics who doubt the Second Coming.

They say that all will continue just as it has from creation. In the same way, people question the flood in Noah's day. Skeptics today do not believe that God will intervene in history in the form of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

In verses 40-41, Jesus says that when He returns, people will be going about their daily activities such as work. Those "taken" in Noah's day were taken away in judgment by the flood. Those "left," like Noah and his family, were left safely on the earth on the ark. It will be the same at the Second Coming of Christ. The wicked will be judged and removed. The righteous believers in Jesus will be left on earth to become His subjects in the Kingdom.

2) Jesus expects us to be ready for his return

42 "Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

In these verses, we begin to get a glimpse of why Jesus tells his disciples so much about his return in this section of Matthew. He does not bring these things up just to give the disciples some details about the end of time. Instead, He has a clear purpose in mind: He wants to stress the importance of being ready for his return. Jesus gives the illustration of a thief to make this point clear. If the owner of a house knows the date and time that a thief will come to steal things, then the owner will take precautions on that exact day so that the thief cannot get in. Unfortunately for homeowners, thieves usually do not advertise the time of their arrival, so homeowners must put locks and security systems in their homes at all times to prevent the coming of a thief. Jesus says that we should have this same kind of constant awareness and readiness for His own return.

APPLICATION: He wants us to live every day as though He is returning on the next day. The applications for this point are easy to come up with by asking yourself a simple question: If I knew that Jesus was returning today, would I still be doing the things that I am doing right now? If I knew that Jesus was returning today, would I be spending my time in the same way? Would I use those harsh words to my husband or wife? Would I watch the same TV shows I am watching now? Would I keep participating in the same habits? Jesus makes it clear that it will not be good to be caught off guard upon His return, so we must be ready at all times.

3) Upon Jesus' return, we will be rewarded based upon our readiness

45 "Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes. 47 I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave should say to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' 49 and he begins to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards, 50 then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, 51 and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus gives the illustration of a slave who is left in charge over his master's household. He does not know when his master returns, so the question is: how will he behave in the mean time? If master returns after some time seeing that the servant has been faithfully and responsibly fulfilling his duties, then the master will praise the servant and put him in charge of even more things. However, if he returns finding that the servant has been beating his fellow slaves, getting drunk, and generally behaving badly and irresponsibly, then the master will remove responsibility from that slave and punish him harshly. No doubt, the evil slave thought that the master would not be returning at all.

In the same way, Jesus is gone for an unknown period of time and left each one of us with a responsibility to faithfully use the gifts, talents, time, energy, and influence that we have to build His kingdom. We do not know the day or hour that He will return, but we do know that He will surely return. So, we must behave as if we actually believe He is coming back! This means to act in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord, and we will be rewarded greatly. However, there is nothing worse than being caught at an unexpected time mishandling our responsibilities.

Closing Illustration:

I (Reagan) had a horrible and hilarious experience during my freshman year of college that you are welcome to use in your lesson if you so choose.

During my freshman year of college I took an anthropology class. I went to the first couple of days of class, but I got sick around the third meeting of the class. I ended up missing 2 classes because I was sick, and then I missed the next 2 classes as well because I slept in and was lazy (it was an 8 a.m. class). I was clearly being irresponsible and doing a horrible job of keeping up with the class, but because it was so early in the semester, I thought I wasn't missing anything particularly important. By the time I showed up to class again, I was hoping to catch up on everything that I had missed and get ready for the major assignments of the semester. To my dismay, when I showed up in class on that day (after missing 4 straight classes), the teacher was handing out a syllabus to each student in the class. WE HAD A TEST AND I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON! Even though it was 10 years ago, I can still vividly remember the pit in my stomach as I was caught completely off guard. I had neglected my duties as a student, and my day of reckoning came when I did not expect it. Needless to say, I did not do very well on the test.

POINT: Believe and behave each moment as if Jesus is coming back, because...HE IS!