- Prediction of the Destruction of the Temple (24:1-2)
- The Coming of Christ in Relation to Israel (24:3-44)
- The Coming of Christ in Relation to the Christian World (24:45 – 25:30)
- The Coming of Christ in Relation to the Gentiles (25:31-46)
Prediction of the Destruction of the Temple (24:1-2)
At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it.1
Moreover, the hope of plunder induced many to go on, as having this opinion, that all the places within were full of money, and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold.2
The Coming of Christ in Relation to Israel (24:3-44)
- “When shall these things be?” This refers to the destruction of the temple. When Luke reports the Olivet Discourse, he includes a significant section of our Lord’s answer that addresses this question (Luke 21:12-24). But in Matthew, the Lord passes over this question completely. Surely, the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. was disastrous for the nation of Israel, but it is nothing compared to the end of the age.
- “What is the sign of thy coming?” This refers to the appearing. This question is taken up by the Lord in His discourse, in the third group of signs; vv.29-44. He takes up His coming with respect to Israel first, then Christendom, then the Gentiles.
- “What is the sign of the end of the age?” This refers to the fulfillment of all prophecy from the beginning of “this age”, which Bible students sometimes call the “Mosaic” age. The completion of the age includes the seventieth week of Daniel, and the event surrounding the return of Christ, up until the establishment of the Millennial kingdom, which is “the age to come” (read more…). The Lord answers this question in the first two groups of “signs”, vv.4-28.
Another thing we can take from this verse is that prophecy is best learned in the spirit of inquiry.
Signs Pertaining to the Beginning of Sorrows (vv.4-14)
The Disciples as the Remnant. The Lord addresses the disciples in this section as faithful Jews. He speaks of future events, but there was no thought in their minds that a great span of time would pass before the events would be accomplished. The disciples occupy the place of the Jewish remnant, and the Lord’s words to them are really to the remnant of a latter day. One of the things we will notice as we go through this first section (vv.3-44) is the Jewish character of the teaching. There are many things that indicate this is not referring to Christians in the church period; one example is v.20 where a reference is made to keeping the Sabbath.
The Danger of Being Misled by False Christs (vv.4-5)
The Danger of Being Overwhelmed by the Judgments (vv.6-8)
The Danger of Being Overcome by Persecution (vv.9-13)
The Gospel of the Kingdom (v.14)
Signs Pertaining to the Great Tribulation (vv.15-28)
The Abomination of Desolation Set Up (v.15)
Physical Persecution (vv.16-22)
Spiritual Seduction (vv.23-26)
The Unmistakable Manner of the Coming of Christ (vv.27-28)
Signs Pertaining to the Appearing of Christ (vv.29-44)
Moral and Spiritual Darkness (v.29)
Public Manifestation of the Son of Man (v.30)
The Restoration of the Nation of Israel (v.31)
Added Detail: The Sureness of these Things (vv.34-35)
Added Detail: The Specific Time of the Appearing Unknown (vv.36-39)
Added Detail: The Harvest Judgment (vv.40-41)
The Importance of Watching for His Coming (vv.42-44)
The Coming of Christ in Relation to the Christian World (24:45 – 25:30)
- The Parable of the Two Stewards (24:45-51) emphasizes the need for Faithfulness
- The Parable of the Ten Virgins (25:1-13) emphasizes the need for Watchfulness
- The Parable of the Talents (25:14-30) emphasizes the need for Usefulness
1st Stage: Travelling – The Position of the Early Kingdom (vv.1-4)
2nd Stage: Slumbering – The Kingdom in the Dark Ages (v.5)
3rd Stage: Awakening – The Recovery of the Truth (vv.6-9)
4th Stage: Testing – The Coming of Christ (vv.10-13)
Application to the Disciples of the Kingdom (v.13)
- The Sons of the bridechamber (Matt. 9:15, Mark 2:19-20, Luke 5:34-35). In this case Christ is the bridegroom of Israel, and the sons of the bridechamber are the faithful remnant.
- The Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1-10). In this case Christ is the bridegroom of the Church, but the bride isn’t mentioned. Instead, the ten virgins are a picture of the Christian testimony through the ages. See also Matt. 22:1-14.
- The marriage of Cana (John 2:9). This is a Millennial picture, and Christ is the bridegroom of restored Israel. The bride isn’t even mentioned.
- The friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29). Christ is the bridegroom of Israel, and the faithful remnant is the bride.
The Christian’s Responsibility in Christ’s Absence (vv.14-15)
The Difference between Usefulness and Wastefulness (vv.16-18)
The Day of Review and Reward (vv.19-30)
The Coming of Christ in Relation to the Gentiles (25:31-46)
Sessional Judgment for the Gentiles. During the 7-year tribulation, the gospel of the Kingdom will be carried to “all the nations” (Matt. 24:14; Isa. 66:19). Some will accept this gospel, others will reject it. Those who reject it will ignore the desperate need of the Jewish preachers, but the faithful will shelter and feed them. At this sessional judgment, the Gentiles will be separated into two groups, the sheep and the goats.
The Lord will reveal to all that their personal faith or unbelief was demonstrated by their treatment of the faithful Jewish remnant, whom he calls “My brethren”. The criteria by which the Gentiles will be separated is according to their treatment of the remnant. A great many will receive the gospel of the kingdom. We read of them in Rev. 7:9 as "A great multitude which no man could number." They are the sheep. Others will reject the gospel and persecute the remnant. They are the goats. The sheep will enter the Kingdom, the goats will go to the lake of fire.
This is the sessional judgment "of the quick" — the living Gentiles at the beginning of the Millennium. There is another sessional judgment "of the dead" that will occur at the end of the Millennium, called the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11). See judgment of the quick and the dead. Down through the centuries these two events have been frequently confused. The believers who receive the gospel of the grace of God today will never stand before the sessional judgment of Christ; "there is then now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). There will be a judgment seat of Christ for the believer, but it has nothing to do with eternal salvation.Read more…
The Sheep and the Goats: The Sessional Judgment (25:31-46)
Some have mocked the feasibility of the Lord bringing every living Gentile to the land of Palestine to stand before His throne for judgment. However, this is what the Word of God says, and we must believe it by faith. Also, remember that the population of the earth will be vastly reduced by this time.Perhaps “the angels” are mentioned because they will be employed to gather the living Gentiles, just as they were employed earlier to gather the tares out of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 13:41), and then gather the elect of Israel back into the land (Matt. 24:31).
It is striking that the blessing of the earthly saints is "from the foundation of the world” (Matt.25:34). But the Christian's blessing is "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). This is because the Church and her union with Christ is the deepest secret in the heart of God (1 Cor. 2:7, 10)... we were there in God's eternal counsels! But Israel's blessing is connected with creation and time. God has purposed to put the creation under the feet of a glorified man (Psa. 8:6; 1 Cor. 15:25-28). But when that purpose with respect to this creation is accomplished, there will be a new heavens and earth, and no more Jew and Gentile (Rev. 21:1-8). Yet for all eternity, the Church will remain distinct (Eph. 3:21), and Christians will never relinquish their status as sons of God!