Matthew 24
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

FINAL and Fullest Manifestation of Christ as the Prophet; or, Discourses of the Lord concerning the “Last Things” (Eschatological Discourses)

(Matt 24:2–25:31; Mark 13; Luke 21:5–38. Comp, the Apocalypse of John.)

According to the Gospel of Mark, Matthew 13:1 sq., it is to be assumed that Jesus, after His departure from the temple on the evening of His contest with the Pharisees, that is, on the evening of Tuesday in the Passion-week, went out to Bethany. Further, that He paused on the brow of the Mount of Olives, looked back upon the city and the temple, and explained to the three confidential disciples, Peter, James, and John—Andrew being on this occasion added to them—the full significance of His solemn departure from the temple; revealing to them the signs of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem and of the end of the world, as also the signs of His own glorious coming. In harmony with apocalyptical style, He exhibited the judgments of His coming in a series of cycles, each of which depicts the whole futurity, but in such a manner that with every new cycle the scene seems to approximate to, and more closely resemble, the final catastrophe. Thus, the first cycle delineates the whole course of the world down to the end, in its general characteristics (Mattew 24:4–14). The second gives the signs of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, and paints this destruction itself as a sign and a commencement of the judgment of the world, which from that day onward proceeds in silent and suppressed days of judgment down to the last (Mattew 24:15–28). The third describes the sudden end of the world, and the judgment which ensues (Mattew 24:29–44). Then follows a series of parables and similitudes, in which the Lord paints the judgment itself, which unfolds itself in an organic succession of several acts. In the last act Christ reveals his universal judicial majesty. Matthew 24:45–51 exhibits the judgment upon the servants of Christ, or the clergy. Matthew 25:1–13 (the wise and foolish virgins) exhibits the judgment upon the Church, or the people. Then follows the judgment upon individual members of the Church (Mattew 24:14–30). Finally, Matthew 24:31–46 introduce the universal judgment of the world. The relation of all these sections to each other will be shown in the Exegetical Notes. All these eschatological discourses must have been delivered at all events as early as Tuesday evening, and upon the Mount of Olives. Matthew 26:2, “Ye know that after two days will be the Passover,” might seem to imply that this word also was spoken on the Tuesday, and consequently all the parables and discourses of Matthew 24 and 25; although “after two days” might have been said on Wednesday, since the part of the current day was commonly included; and, on the whole, it is more probable that on the day after His withdrawal from the temple and the people, on Wednesday (see Luke 21:37, 38; John 12:37–50), He completed these parables on the last things.




CHAPTER 24:2–44

(Pericopes: 1. Matthew 24:18–28, on the 15th Sunday after Trinity; 2. Matthew 24:37–51, on the 27th Sunday after Trinity,—Parallels: Mark 13:1–87; Luke 21:5–36.)

Occasion of the Discourses. MATTHEW 24:1–3

1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him 2for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus [he answering]1 said unto them, See ye not2 all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3And as he sat upon [on] the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately [κατ̓ ἰδιαν], saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world [the present order of things, αἰῶνος, not: κόσμου]?

Signs, and the Manifestation of the End of the World in general. MATTHEW 24:4–14

4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man [lest any one, μήτις deceive you. 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [the, ] Christ: and shall deceive many. 6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled [beware, be not troubled]:3 for all4 these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 8and there shall be famines, and pestilences,5 and earthquakes, in divers places. All these [But all these, πάντα δὲ ταῦτα] are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of [byὑπο] all nations for my name’s sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity [wickedness, lawlessness, ἀνομία] shall abound, the love of many [the many, the great mass, τῶν πολλῶν] shall wax [become] cold. 13But he that shall endure [endureth, ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας] unto the end, the same shall be saved.14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the [inhabited] world [οἰκουμένῃ] for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Signs of the End of the World in particular.—(a) The Destruction of Jerusalem. MATTHEW 24:15–22

15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation τὸ β δέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως,6 spoken of by Daniel the prophet (9:27), stand [standing, ἑστός]7 in the holy 16place, (whoso readeth, let him understand,) [let the reader think of it!]8 Then let them which be [that are] in Judea flee into [to] the mountains [Peræa]: 17Let him which 18[that] is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:9 Neither19let him which [that] is in the field return back to take his clothes [garment].10 And [But, δέ] woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter [in winter, χειμῶνος], neither [nor] onthe sabbath day [on a sabbath, ἐν σαββάτῳ]: 21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not [has not been] since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever11 22shall be. And except [unless] those days should be [were] shortened, there should no flesh be [no flesh would be] saved: but for the elect’s sake12 those days shall be shortened.

(b) Interval of Partial and Suppressed Judgment. MATTHEW 24:23–28

23Then [i.e., in the time intervening between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world] if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is [the, ] Christ, or there; believe it not 24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall [so as, if possible, to]13 deceive the very elect [even the elect, καὶ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούν]. 25Behold, I have told you before.26Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27For as the lightning cometh out of the east [forth from the east, ἐξέρχεται ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν], and shineth even unto the west; 28so shall also [so shall be]14 the coming of the Son of man be. For15 wheresoever [wherever] the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

The Actual End of the World. MATTHEW 24:29–31

29[But, δἐ] Immediately after the tribulation of those days [the judgment of the New Testament period of salvation] shall the sun [the sun shall] be darkened, and the moon shell not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in Heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn [celebrate the great funeral of the world], and they shall [and shall] see the Son of man coming in [on, ἐπί] the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he shall [will] send his angels with a great sound116 of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Suddenness of the Catastrophe. MATTHEW 24:32–44

32Now learn a parable [the parable, τὴν παραβολήν i.e., of the sadden appearance of the end of the world] of [from] the fig tree; When his [its] branch is yet [is already become, ἤδη—γένηται] tender, and putteth forth leaves,17 ye know that summer is nigh [near, ἐγγύς, as in Matthew 24:33]: 33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass [away], till allthese things be fulfilled [are done, γένηται]. 35Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36But of that day and hour knoweth no man [one], no, not the angels of heaven [nor the Son],18 but my [the]19 Father only. 37But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also [so shall be]20 the coming of the Son of man be. 38For as in the days that were before the flood [as in the days before the flood] they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, 39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also [shall be]21 the coming of the Son of man be. 40Then shall two [men] be in 41the field; the one [one, εῖ̓ς] shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be 42grinding at the mill; the one [one; μία] shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour [day]22 your Lord doth come. 43But know this, that if the goodman [master] of the house [ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης] had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up [through].23 44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.


Literature on the General Subject.DORNER: De Oratione Christi Eschatologica, Stuttgart, 1844. R. HOFFMANN: The Second Coming, and the Sign of the Son of Man in the Heavens, Leipz. 1850. W. HOFFMANN: The Last Things of Man, 2d ed., Berlin, 1856. C.J. MEYER24 The Eschatological Discourses in Matt. 24 and 25, Frankf. a. d. O. 1857. CRAMER: The Eschatol. Disc, of Christ, Matt. 24 and 25, Stuttg. 1860.

Luke has introduced many of these subjects at an earlier point, Matthew 12 and 17 Following in Luther’s track, Schleiermacher, Hase, and Neander made Luke’s the original account; but de Wette and Meyer, and especially also C. J. Meyer in the monograph quoted, have successfully contended against this view. Matthew is undoubtedly the leading authority in all the discourses which have direct reference to theocratic relations; and any one must perceive the exceeding care which he has spent on all the Lord’s words upon this subject. The order which we have given above in the division of the text, is substantially the same as is given in the Latin dissertation of Ebrard on the eschatological passages of the N. T. (Dissertatio adversus erroneam nonnullorum opinionem, qua Christus Christique apostoli existimasse perhibentur, fore ut universum judicium ipsorum œtate superveniret. Erlangen, 1842), and in his Kritik der Evangel. Geschichte, p. 497. On the law of cyclical representation, consult my Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1558. According to Dorner, Matthew 24:4–14 exhibit the development of the gospel; while what follows, from Matthew 24:15, exhibits the historical process of the Christian religion. Meyer regards the section to Matthew 24:5 as a preparatory warning against false Messiahs; then a continuous exhibition of the future down to the destruction of the temple. De Wette also has failed to discern the organic construction of the discourse. Stier distinguishes a second coming of Christ, Matt. 25:31, from the first coming, Matthew 24:29, but without support from the rest of Scripture; although it is equally baseless to regard the coming of Christ to the first resurrection as altogether spiritual. C. J. Meyer understands Matt. 24:29–31 of the judgment upon Jerusalem; a view which has no foundation in the text, and which overturns the cyclical organization of the whole prophecy. According to this view, it is in Matthew 24:35 that the end of the world begins to be referred to.


General Sketch of the Last Things down to the End of the World. MATTHEW 24:1–14

Matthew 24:1. To shew Him the buildings of the temple.—Not merely the temple proper, ίερόν but the collective ίερόν and not only the structure, but the various structures composing the temple. The Herodian consummation of the temple of Zerubbabel (Joseph. Antiq. xv.11; Bell. Jud. 5, 5) was begun in the eighteenth year of Herod’s rule (about 20 B. C). The temple itself was finished (by the priests and Levites) in one year and a half; the outer courts in eight years. “But the successors of Herod went on, at intervals, with the outbuildings, down to the beginning of the Jewish war; and Josephus tells us (Antiq. xx. 9, 7) that the temple was not finished until the time of the last procurator but one, Albinus: comp. John 2:20.” Winer. Josephus described with admiration the magnificence of the buildings, Bell. Jud., 6, 6 [and Antiq. xv, 14].25—And with this wonderful house of the theocracy Jesus would have nothing to do, because the house, forsaken of the Spirit, had become a spiritual ruin. The new temple seemed to promise a new spring of the Jewish theocracy: Jesus spoke of the end of the temple, and city, and all the old economy of things. They pointed His attention to the temple, which they, sons of Galilee, had so often contemplated with amazement as the grandest or the only sanctuary upon earth; referring probably to the declaration of Jesus in Matthew 23:38 (Chrysostom, Wolf, Meyer; contra, de Wette) with deep emotion, almost doubting, or at least interceding for the temple, that Chris might prevent it from falling into ruins.

Matthew 24:2. See ye not all these things?—Casaubon, and many others, startled by this sentence, have proposed to omit the οὺ26 Paulus: Do not look too much at then thing; bat this would require μή instead of οὐ. De Wette, following Chrysostom: Do ye not marvel at all this magnificence? Meyer’s interpretation is still more unfounded and untenable: Do ye not see all this? namely, the vision of Jesus concerning the destruction of the temple, as something present before His eyes.27 But the expression is rhetorical, and introduces what follows: Do ye not really see all these things yet? Soon shall ye see them no more. The judgment will come:—the destruction of the city; the burning of the temple; Hadrian’s statue of Jupiter upon the site; Julian’s rain attempt to rebuild it; the mosque of Omar.

[Verily I say unto you. etc.—A most remarkable prophecy, uttered in a time of profound peace, when nobody dreamed of the possibility of the destruction of such a magnificent work of art and sanctuary of religion as the temple at Jerusalem; a prophecy literally fulfilled forty years after its utterance, fulfilled by Jewish fanatics and Roman soldiers in express violation of the orders of Titus, one of the most humane of the Roman emperors (called deliciœ humani generis), who wished to save it. And Josephus, the greatest Jewish scholar of his age, had to furnish from his personal experience the best commentary on our Saviour’s prophecy, and a powerful argument for His divine mission!—P. S.]

Matthew 24:3. Upon the Mount of Olives.—On the prospect from the Mount of Olives over the city, see the description of travellers.28

The disciples came unto Him privately.—Asking Him confidentially. The κατ̓ἰδιαν refers to no distinction between the Twelve and other men. It indicates indefinitely that distinction among the disciples themselves, which Mark notes more distinctly in Matthew 13:3. The confidential disciples, to whom He disclosed these things, were Peter, James the Elder, and John; to whom Andrew was added, who had a sort of seniority among the disciples.

When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign?—Two distinct questions. The first refers to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem; the other, to the signs of the advent of Christ and the end of the world. They were sure that the coming of Christ would bring in the end of the world; but they did not apprehend that the destruction of Jerusalem would itself be a sign of the coming of Christ. This distinction is important for the interpretation of the whole chapter. The Rabbins spoke of the dolores Messiœ, according to Hos. 13:13, and other places (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 700) as the premonitory signs of the advent of the Messiah.29

Thy coming.—The παρουσία 1 Cor 15:23; 1 John 2:28; Matt 24:37, 39; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8. etc. Before, this had been regarded as in antithesis to the time of Old Testament expectation—in which the first and second coming of Christ coincided; but here it is specifically viewed as the period of His last coming in glory. The παρουοἰα is the ἐπιφάνεια of 2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14, etc., in antithesis to the times of the hidden influence and government of Christ. The παρουσία refers to time; the ἐπιφάνεια to space. The question of the disciples shows that they no longer entertained the notion of the palm-entry being the advent. After the great event of the resurrection, they did indeed venture to hope that that advent was already beginning, Acts 1:6; but after the ascension they expected His coming from heaven, according to the heavenly intimation in Acts 1:11; 3:20.

And of the end of the world.—Meyer: “There is in the gospels no trace whatever of a millennarian apocalyptical view of the last things.” But Meyer overlooks that the συντέλεια is the germ itself of the expectation of the millennarian kingdom which afterward was fully developed (Rev. 20). From the fact that the συντέλεια should come suddenly, it does not at once follow that it should come and end at once. It embraces a period, the stages of which are clearly intimated, not only in 1 Cor. 15 and the Apocalypse, but also in Matt. 25 and John 5—Τοῦ αἰ ὼνος—“The αἰὼν οῦ̓τος which ends with the advent, as the αἰὼν μέλλων then begins. The advent, resurrection, and judgment, fall upon the ἐσχάτη ἡμέρα with which the καιρὸς ἔσχατος (1 Pet. 1:5), the ἔσχαται ἡμέραι (Acts 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1), that is, the stormy and wicked end of the αὶὼν οῦ̔τος (see Gal. 1:4), are not to be confounded.” Meyer [It should be kept in mind that when the “end of the world” is spoken of in the N. T., the term αιών the present dispensation or order of things, is used, and not κόσμος the planetary system, the created universe.—P. S.]

Matthew 24:4. Take heed that no man deceive you.—The practical issue of all discussion of the last things.

Matthew 24:5. For many shall come, etc.—De Wette: “It cannot be shown that there were any false Christs before the destruction of Jerusalem. Bar-Cochba (Euseb. 4:6) appeared after that event (the deceiver Jonathan in Cyrene, Joseph. Bell. Jud. 7, 11, is not described as a false Messiah). The deceivers of whom the Acts of the Apostles and Joscphus speak (Acts 5:36; comp. Joseph. Antiq. xx. 5, 1; 8, 9; 21, 38; Bell. Jud. 2, 13, 5), did not play the part of Christs. Church history generally knows of none who gave himself out as the Christian Messiah.” Here are almost as many errors as words. 1. We have not to do here with the specific signs of the destruction of Jerusalem, but with the general signs of the end of the world. 2. All those are essentially false Messiahs who would assume the place which belongs to Christ in the kingdom of God. It includes, therefore, the enthusiasts who before the destruction of Jerusalem appeared as seducers of the people; e.g., Theudas, Dositheus, Simon Magus, etc. 3. Every one who gave himself out as the Messiah, gave himself out as the Christian Messiah; for Messiah means Christ. That no pseudo-Messiah could announce himself as Jesus of Nazareth, is obvious of itself. Moreoever, every man was a false Christ who pretended to assume the place of Christ; e.g., Manes, Mohammed. For modem false Messiahs among the Jews, see the Serial Dibre Emeth, or Words of Truth. Breslau, 1853–4.

In My name.—Properly, on My name: on the ground of My name.

Matthew 24:6. Ye shall hear.—As it respects the seductive side of these false Messiahs, they were to be on their guard; but as it respects this fearful side, they were not to be afraid.

Of wars, and rumors of Wars.—Meyer: “Wars in the neighborhood, where we hear the uproar and confusion ourselves; and wars in the distance, the rumors of which only are heard.”30 De Wette: “Rumors of wars, i.e., future wars in prospect. …Even wars and calamities they were not to take as signs of His coming. Such wars we cannot find before the destruction of Jerusalem.” Meyer likewise denies the reference to facts preceding the destruction. But this springs from misunderstanding of the construction of the discourse. Here all wars are meant down to the end of the world; and certainly there are enough of them to be found. Wetstein, taking it for granted that wars before the destruction of Jerusalem must be meant, refers us to the wars of the Jews, under Asinæus and Alinæus, with the Parthians in Mesopotamia (Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 9, 1), the wars of the Parthians with the Romans, etc.31

The end is not yet.—The end of the world, as in Matthew 24:13 and 14. So Chrysostom, Ebrard, de Wette. Meyer, on the contrary: the end of the tribulations here spoken of. But this falls with his erroneous construction of the whole discourse.

Matthew 24:7. Nation shall rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom.—Meyer: Wars of races, and wars of kingdoms. But wars were spoken of in the preceding verse. Here, the subject is great political revolutions in the world of nations: migrations of nations, risings, judgments, blendings, and new formations of peoples.

There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes.—De Wette and Meyer: These cannot be pointed out definitely. But they proceed on the fundamental error, that they must be pointed out before the destruction of Jerusalem. With regard to the famines, reference has been made to the dearth under Claudius, Acts 11:28;32 with reference to the earthquakes, to that in Asia Minor (Tacit. Annal. 14:26).33 Certainly these are not enough of themselves; and κατὰ τόπους points to diverse places throughout the world. The passage combines in one view the whole of the various social, physical, and climatic crises of development in the whole New Testament dispensation. Wetstein and Bertholdt give specimens of Jewish expectation in regard to the dolores Messiœ.

Matthew 24:8. These are the beginning of sorrow—The external, lesser, physical woes, as the basis of the greater moral woes to follow. The ὠδῖνες birth-pangs, חֶבְלֵי הַמִּשִׁיחַ. Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. 700. The new world is a birth, as the end of the old world is a death.

Matthew 24:9. Then shall they deliver you up.—Meyer: Then, when what is here spoken of shall have taken place. A wrong division. It does not mean ἔπειτα in the external sense; although the internal procedure from worse to worse is intimated. in that time of external convulsions, will the greater internal woes be experienced. Hence there is no contradiction to Luke 21:12.

And shall kill you.—Not merely persecute to death “some” of you. Decius, Diocletian, the Inquisition, religious wars of modern times. Certainly it is not exclusively the persecution under Nero.—Kill you.—The Apostles are here the representatives of all Christians.

Matthew 24:10. And then shall many be offended.—Then marks again the advancement of the suffering.—And shall betray one another.—Meyer: “The apostate shall betray the faithful man.” But this does not bring out the whole strength of the ἀλλήλους or the progression of the thought. This betraying one another includes the idea of delivering up to an unauthorized tribunal, i.e., to the heathen magistrate or to the political power, which has no control over conscience; and the word, therefore, is appropriate to all political persecutions, which not only apostates have inflicted upon true Christians, but Christians upon Christians, Arians upon Catholics, and Catholics upon Arians, etc. (See this in all Church history, especially the history of all Protestant persecutions.)—And shall hate one another.—The perfect opposite to the vocation of all Christians; to love one another, John 15:17.

Matthew 24:11. Many false prophets.—Not merely “extreme antinomian tendencies” in the stricter sense. The false prophet may be legalistic;34 and that is another and higher form of Antinomianism.

Matthew 24:12. Because iniquity or lawlessness shall abound.’Α νομία is not merely immorality. Apostasy from the internal spiritual laws of Christianity, or mental lawlessness, is iniquity itself. The dying out of true religion must be followed by the dying out of love among the many,—that is, the great majority of Christians. This dying out will be in its very nature gradual—a growing cold. Meyer, in opposition to Dorner, endeavors in vain to explain this of the apostolical age.

Matthew 24:13. But he that shall endure unto the end.—Endure in what, needs no explanation. It is the antithesis to apostasy from the faith—from the light of faith and the law of faith—and from love.

Unto the end.—(1) Krebs, Rosenmüller: Until the destruction of Jerusalem (σωθήσ ετ αι flight to Pella, temporal deliverance). (2) Elsner, Kuinoel: Unto death. (3) Meyer: To the end of the tribulations.—It is obviously the end simply, the last day of the world; which comes preparatorily to every one in the day of his death, the last day of the individual Christian. The same holds good of the advent of Christ. Even as there is an internal advent in connection with the external and universal advent of Christ, so also there is an internal end of all things, earnest and rehearsal of the judgment,—the final testing and confirmation of the Christian’s faith.35

Matthew 24:14. This gospel [good news] of the kingdom.—The one great joyful sign of the approaching end of the world, which contrasts with and outweighs all the preliminary sorrowful signs.

In all the world.’Ε νὁλῃ τῇ οὶκου μένῃ must not be limited to the Roman Empire, as what follows plainly shows.

For a witness unto all nations.—Ancient expositors interpreted this of the conviction of the nations, and condemnation of the heathen. Grotius: In order to make known to them the stiffneckedness of the Jews (pertinacia judœorum). Dorner: Ita ut crisin aut vitœ aut mortis adducat. Right, doubtless. The gospel is not merely to be preached to the nations, but to be preached εἰς μαρτυριον. Testified to them faithfully, even unto martyrdom, it will be a witness unto them; and then it will be a witness concerning them and against them.36

And then shall the end come.—The end of the world proper. Meyer again: “The end of the tribulations preceding the Messiah.”


The Specific Eschatology. Premonitory Signs of the End of the World, (a) The Destruction of Jerusalem; (b) the New Testament Period of Restrained Judgment. Matthew 24:15–22; 23–28.

Matthew 24:15. When therefore ye see.—De Wette and Meyer: The οῦ̓ν signifies—in consequence of the entering in of this τελος. Ebrard: Jesus reverts to the first question, the answer of the second question being premised. Wieseler: Resumption of the thread broken off by the warning of Matthew 24:3–14. Dorner: Transition from the eschatological principles of Matthew 24:4–14 to the historical and prophetical application. The οῦ̓ν certainly signifies a transition to the announcement of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem—introduced now for practical application. But it looks back again to Matthew 24:7–9, where the disciples are taken up into the figure, just as they afterward retire, and we hear no longer ὑμεῖς.

The abomination of desolation (βδέλυγμ αἐρ ημώσεως—Dan. 9:27, שִׁקּיִּצִים מְשׂמֵם; comp. Dan. 11:31; 12:11. On the difficult place in Daniel, compare Hengstenberg, Hävernick, and Stier (Discourses of Jesus, on this passage). Hengstenberg (Christologie des A. T.’s vol. 3. p. 494) translates, “and over the top of abomination comes the destroyer.” The top of abomination is then the summit of the temple desecrated by abomination; and upon this summit comes the desolater. But the desolater would then form an antithesis to the abomination. We venture to translate: “And even to the summit (double sense: to the uttermost, and to the top of the sanctuary, mentioned before) come the abominations, the ravagers (the singular instead of the plural, comp. Prov. 27:9), and until destruction, which is firmly decreed, is poured out upon the wasters.” See many other interpretations in Meyer’s Com. [4th ed. p. 443]. The Sept. is in sense correct: καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ ἱερὸν βδελυγμα τῶν ἐρημώσεων. Comp. 1 Macc. 1:55; 2 Macc. 6:2. This abomination of desolation has been variously interpreted, (1) The Fathers: The statue of Titus [or Hadrian] supposed to have been erected on the site of the desolated temple,—which is questionable. (2) Jerome: The imperial statue, which Pilate caused to be set up (Joseph. Bell. Jud. 2, 9, 2). (3) Elsner, Hug: The raging of the zealots.37 (4) Meyer: The vile and loathsome abominations practised by the conquering Romans on the place where the temple Blood. (5) Grotius, Bengel, de Wette, and others: The Roman eagles, as military ensigns, so hateful to the Jews. This explanation we adhere to, as most consistent with βδέλυγμα. The Roman eagles, rising over the site of the temple, were the sign that the holy place had fallen under the dominion of the idolaters. (Comp. Wieseler in the Göttingen Quarterly for 1846, p. 183 sq.)

Spoken of by Daniel—Wieseler: “Which is an expression of the prophet Daniel.” As Daniel describes it.

In the holy place.—Mark 13:14, ὅπου οὐ δεῖ. Meyer insists that it was the temple ground; Bengel, de Wette, and Baumgarten-Crusius, Palestine generally, but especially the territory round Jerusalem, “because, after the capture of the temple, it would be too late to flee.” This extends the meaning too far, while Meyer confounds the present passage with the text of Daniel. It was to be to the disciples a sign, when the abomination of desolation touched the holy place; and they were not to wait until it reached the temple. This, therefore, signified the beleaguering of the holy city. Jesus gives the longest term for delay; but does not forbid an earlier flight.

Let him that readeth understand.—This is not a word of Jesus, as Chrysostom and, after him, many have thought; which would in that case point to the reading of Daniel,38 It is a word of the Evangelist (de Wette, Meyer), which seems to intimate the near approach of these signs, i.e., the beginning of the Jewish war. The passage is important in its bearing upon the origin of this Gospel and the time: of its composition.39

Matthew 24:16. Flee into the mountains.—This was fulfilled in the flight of the Christians to Pella-Euseb. 3:5. Several Christians received, before the war, according to Eusebius, a divine direction for the congregation, that it should forsake the city and betake itself to Pella, in Peræa.

Matthew 24:17. Let him not come down.—This and the following are concrete descriptions of the most extreme haste in escape, in which they must not be hindered by any motives of selfishness or convenience. The allusion is to the flight of Lot from Sodom, and Lot’s wife, Luke 17:32.—Not come down.—Some think this was a hint that they should flee over the flat roofs (Winer, sub v. Dach); according to Bengel, “ne per scalas interiores, sed exteriores descendat.” The manner of escape, however, was not described beforehand, here or elsewhere. It was said only, that no one must go down into the house again, to carry away with him all kinds of encumbrances.

Matthew 24:20. Nor on the Sabbath.—On the Sabbath the Jew might go a distance of only two thousand ells or cubits [about an English mile], Acts 1:12; Jos. Antiq. xiii. 8, 4. This ordinance was based upon Exod. 16:29. (Lightfoot on Luke 24:50.) According to Wetstein, however, the Rabbins made many casuistical exceptions. De Wette asks: “How does this scrupulous anxiety agree with the Saviour’s liberal view on the Sabbath?” Meyer explains, that many scrupulous Jewish Christians40 would hardly be able to rise above the legal prescription concerning the Sabbath-journey. But both these forget that the Jewish custom with regard to travelling on the Sabbath [the shutting of the gates of cities, etc.] would make the Christians’ journeying on that day infinitely more difficult, even although they themselves might be perfectly free from any scruple. They would, in addition to other embarrassments, expose themselves to the severest persecutions of Jewish fanaticism, and be denounced as apostates and traitors to the religion of their fathers.

Matthew 24:21. For then shall he great tribulation.—A sketch of the history of the destruction of Jerusalem. Comp. Luke 21:20 sqq., and Joseph. Bell. Jud. Heubner: “According to Josephus, not less than eleven hundred thousand Jews perished in this war. The siege took place at the time of the crowded festival. Since the rejection of Christ, the Jewish people has been in a state of slavery, and dispersed over the earth. Immediately after the war, ninety thousand were carried away.” By the greatness of the terror, which the Lord only hints at circuitously, they were to measure the swiftness of their flight.

Matthew 24:22. And except those days should be shortened, ἐκολοβώθησαν—What days? and how shortened? According to our view (Leben Jesu, ii. 3, 1269), the destruction of Jerusalem signified and was the actual beginning of the end of the world, inasmuch as it was the judgment upon the Jewish people, which forma the counterpart of the world’s judgment upon Christ, and because the heathen world was involved in the guilt and in the punishment of the Jewish world. Then those days are the days of the destruction of Jerusalem, as the days of the great preliminary judgment. Those days are, as days of judgment, represented as shortened. Lightfoot (with allusion to rabbinical notions about shortened days, in opposition to Josh. 10:13) and Fritzsche understand the word of the shortened length of the days. Meyer, on the other hand (following de Wette), refers the expression to the diminishing of the number of the days; and deduces from the saying generally the earlier occurrence of the end of the world itself (Matthew 24:29).41 But how should men be saved through their passing all the swifter out of the burning of Jerusalem into the burning of the entire world itself? The verb κολοβόω means to mutilate, to cut off. Thus, then, the days of the New Testament dispensation are, under the judicial point of view, or with reference to the judgment as already begun, modified days of judgment—a season of grace. To this points the conclusion, “no man would be saved.” Shortened—that is, in the divine counsel

The elect (Gen. 18:23) are not merely those who at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem were believers in Christ, but all who, according to the divine decree, should become believers down to the end of the world. Ebrard: There follows an œtas paulo saltem felicior, which Meyer denies, without sufficient reason, because he thinks that the hastening42 of the end of the world will be the means of salvation for many. This is inconsistent with 2 Pet. 3:9.

Matthew 24:23. Then if any man shall say unto you.—Meyer: Tore, then, when the desolation of the temple and the flight shall take place. But this is inconsistent with what follows. The τότε points to the New Testament interval between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world.

Matthew 24:24. False Christs.—The ψευδοχριστος must needs be an ἀντί χριστος and conversely (see my Positive Dogmatik, p. 1267.)—False prophets must be understood only of false Christian teachers. Meyer thinks of false prophets among the Jews, according to Joseph. Bell. Jud. 2, 13, 4; Kuinoel, of such as should give themselves out to be prophets raised up from the dead,—Elias, or others; Grotius, of apostles of the false Messiahs. But compare, in opposition to all these, 2 Thess. 2 and Rev. 16:13, A Christian prophet is the announcer of a new development, or reform, or formation in the doctrine and life of the Church. A false prophet is an ecclesiastical revolutionist; which, however, he may be in a despotic or absolutistic sense, as well as in a democratic or radical. In the domain of doctrine, both characters may combine in one.

Great signs and wonders.—That is, such in appearance. Δώσουσι is not merely promise; nor is it in the real sense give; but somewhat as in a scenic representation,—promised with ostentation, and accomplished in appearance.

Matthew 24:26. In the desert; in the secret chambers.—In both cases, Behold! Not merely “apocalyptic painting,” as Meyer says. Behold indicates sensation and excitement. The general idea is, that Christ is not identified with a particular party or sectional interest. Christ “in the desert,” according to the analogy of John the Baptist in the wilderness, signifies the supposition that Christ would be found certainly in the ascetic and monastic form of life. In opposition to this view stands the declaration that he is ὲν τοις ταμείοις. The ταμεῖν means especially the chamber of treasure and provision; and Christ in the secret chambers points to the secular forms of millennarianism, that Christ is to be found in an external Church, with all its temporalities and glory. (Mormonism and Communism.)

Matthew 24:27. For as the lightning.—The lightning has indeed a place where it appears first; but it is universal in its shining, visible from the eastern to the western horizon. So will Christ at His appearing manifest Himself by an unmistakeable brightness, irradiating the whole earth. It is not here, then, the mere suddenness that is meant, but rather the omnipresent, unmistakeable, and fearful visibility. The majestic glory of the lightning, and its effect in purifying the air, are here silent concomitants.

Matthew 24:28. Where the carcass is.—A universal law of nature, which reflects the higher law of the moral, and especially of the Christian, world. The eagles here are carrion vultures which were numbered by the ancients with the race of eagles. Comp. Job 39:30; Hos. 8:1; Hab. 1:8. [Plin. Hist. Nat. 9:3.] The figure gives a profound and strong expression of the necessity, inevitableness, and universality of judgment. As the carcass everywhere attracts the carrion-eaters, so do moral corruption and ripened guilt everywhere demand the judgment. The bearing of this proverbial word in the text is somewhat more difficult. The following are some interpretations: (1) Christ is the food (the carcass!), believers the eagles: Theophylact, Calvin, Calovius. (Jerome even went so far as to find in the πτῶμα a reference to the death of Christ.)43 (2) The carcass means those who die to themselves; the eagles, the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Grotius. (3) Jerusalem and the Jews are the carcass; attracting the Roman legions with their eagles: Lightfoot, Wolf, de Wette (the last doubtful). (4) Meyer: “The carcass is a figure of the spiritually dead; and συναχθήσονται (that is, at the advent) οἱ ἀετοί represents the same as is described in Matthew 13:41, that is, the angels sent out by Christ.” Doubtless the figure of the eagles will express the necessity and inevitableness of the advent, as the figure of the lightning expresses the unmistakeableness and awful grandeur of its signs. But then the carcass must represent the moral corruption and decay of the world itself; and the eagles the judgment, not only in its personal, but also in its physical, elements and forces.44 The only question is, whether the word merely looks back to Matthew 24:27, or also to Matthew 24:26. Käuffer thinks the latter exclusively: “Believe them not who say that Christ is here or there; they are prœdatores avidi.” If we take the saying in Matthew 24:28 as a conclusive glance back upon the whole section from 15 downward, the choice of the figure is at once explained. In the destruction of Jerusalem, the judgment will begin by the appearance of the great carrion eagles (there is included a manifest allusion to the Roman eagles). From that time it will go on through the whole new period; and find its expression in continuous local judgments throughout the gracious period of the shortened days of judgment: hence ὁπου ἐάν. At last the judgment will extend to the whole morally corrupt and spiritually dead world. Matthew 24:28 then comprehends and sums up the whole series of judgments from Matthew 24:15–27.


The Specific Eschatology. The Appearance of the End of the World itself

Matthew 24:29–44

Matthew 24:29. After the tribulation of those days.—Here begins the representation of the end of the world, or rather the beginning of the end, the παρον̀υσία the advent of Christ. The θλῖψις των ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων is not the same as the θλῖψις μεγάλη (Matthew 24:21), which betokens the destruction of Jerusalem. It is rather a new θλῖψις in which the restrained days of judgment under the Christian dispensation issue (Matthew 24:22), and which are especially characterized by the stronger temptations of pseudo-messianic powers. Thus, when this θλῖψις of temptations has reached its climax (comp. 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 13; Matthew 14), then immediately (εὐθέως) the great catastrophe will come. Meyer, following de Wette and others [A. Clarke, Robinson, Owen], refers the immediately to what is said of the destruction of Jerusalem, and calls the dissenting explanations of Bengel, Ebrard, Düsterdieck, etc., dogmatic. But there is also a dogmatism of the abstract modern exegesis. The grounds of our distinctions in these crises are plain enough in the record: (1) The cyclical nature of the representation, after the analogy of the apocalyptic style; (2) the distinction between the destruction of Jerusalem and the New Testament period of mitigated and restrained woes. The favorite modern hypothesis most unreasonably places all the temptations described in Matthew 24:24–26 in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. But the εὐθέως describes the nature of the final catastrophe, that it will be at once swift, surprisingly sudden, and following upon a development seemingly slow and gradual. Thus, throughout the whole course of history, the swift epochs follow the slow process of the periods. We need not, however translate εὐθέως by suddenly, i.e., unexpectedly, with Hammond and Schott; but still less assume that the destruction of Jerusalem is here again introduced (Kuinoel).45

The sun shall be darkened.—Dorner, figuratively: “Sun, moon, and stars signify the Nature-worship of the heathen; the whole passage, there fore, must mean the fall of heathenism after the fall of Judaism.” But it is manifest that the beginning of the cosmical end of all is the subject here; as in 2 Pet. 3:12; Rev. 20 and 21; comp. Joel 3:3 sqq.; Isa. 34:4; 24:21; Dan. 7:13.46

The stars shall fall from heaven.—Isa. 34:4. 1. The stars shall lose their light: Bengel, Paulus, Olshausen. 2. Allegorically: the downfall of the Jewish commonwealth: Wetstein, etc. 3. Dorner: “The fall of the heathen star-worship.” 4. Augustine: Obscuration of the Church.47 5. Calvin: Phenomenal appearances of falling stars (secundum hominum sensum). 6. Meteors and shooting stars, popularly mistaken for real stars: Fritzsche, Kuinoel, de Wette [Owen]. 7. Meyer thinks that the words are to be understood literally; the stars in general being spoken of according to the notion that they were fixed in the heaven. (Comp. Knobel on Isa. p. 245.) This would ascribe an astronomical error to Christ, or make Him acquiesce in a popular error. 8. They may be limited to the stars which belong to the planetary family, of which this earth is one, and the falling of the stars may be understood of the dissolution of their planetary connection with the sun: that is, the idea is here poetically depicted, that the planetary solar system will be changed into a heavenly constitution, in which the planets will be independent of the sun, and themselves become self-enlightened stars (comp. Rev. 21:23) It is to be observed that the heaven (ἀστέρες ἁπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) and the heavens (αἰ δυνάρεις τῶνὑρανῶν) are distinguished.

And the powers of the heavens (plural).—1. The common acceptation is, the host of stars. (Isa. 34:4; Ps. 33:6; 2 Kings 17:16.) 2. The angel-world: Olshausen, after the Fathers. 3. Revolution in cosmical relations and laws. (Lange’s Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1275.)48

Matthew 24:30. And then shall appear.—A cosmical transformation, which also affects the earth as in a transition state (Pollok’s Course of Time), prepares the way for the sign of Christ; this announces His immediate coming.

The sign of the Son of Man.—1. Chrysostom [Hilary, Jerome, Wordsworth], etc.: The sign of a cross in the heaven. 2. Olshausen: The star of the Messiah (Num. 24:17). 3. Fritzsche, Ewald: The Messiah Himself. [So also Bengel: Ipse erit signum sui. Luc. 2:12.] 4. Schott: No other than what is described in Matthew 24:29. 5. Rud. Hoffmann: “An appearance resembling a man, which was seen in the Holiest during the siege of Jerusalem.” But this is, as Meyer objects, a mere fable related by Ben Gorion. 6. Meyer: “A luminous appearance, the forerunner of the δόξα of the Messiah;” de Wette, “a kind of Shechinah.”49 7. But why not the Shechinah or the of Christ itself? It is the shining glory of the manifestation in general as distinct from the personal manifestation itself; comp. Matthew 12:38; 16:1; 17:2.

And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, etc—The expressions κόψοντα ι, ὄψονται have a striking alliteration, which cannot be imitated in the translation50 The former, κόπτεσθαι does not mean merely a mourning in the common sense of the word, but a ritual, solemn lamentation, as in the penitent beating the breast, and especially the deep mourning over the dead; and ὄπτεσθαι means a significant and spiritually exalted, though real, beholding. Thus we must interpret the two words here. But it is to be especially noted that the tribes of the earth in both cases are so overpowered by the events, that they are involuntarily constrained to form, in the unity of their expressions of feeling, one chorus. Meyer: “Mourn: for, what total change in the state of things, what rending and revolution of all the relations of life, what decisive catastrophes will declare themselves to be at hand in the judgment and changing of the αἰῶνες!” The lamentation of penitence (Dorner) is not excluded. Ewald: “Then will the lamentation over the crucifixion of Christ so long delayed be taken up,”—rather, consummated; for Christendom51 has continued that lamentation from the beginning.—Al the tribes of the earth.—The races and peoples intimating that social and political relations are now dissolved, and that the original national types of nature are now distinctly prominent.

Matthew 24:31. And He shall send His angels,—Meyer: “Out of the clouds of heaven, 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; comp. afterward Matthew 24:33” (?). But the passage 1 Thess. 4:16 shows only that the faithful who at the end of the world will be changed, or have part in the first resurrection, will joyfully go to meet the Lord at His coming in the form of spirit-life. But that the end of the world does not close in one moment, is taught by Paul also in 1 Cor. 15:23, 24: “Christ is the first-fruits. Afterward they that are Christ’s, when He shall come. Afterward the end.” Between the first and the second crisis there intervenes a period; so also probably between the second and the third. This period is intimated in John 5:26; comp. 5:28. But in this present section a series of judicial acts are clearly distinguished. First, the judgment upon the clerical office, Matthew 24:45; then upon the collective Church, Matthew 25:1; then upon its individual members, Matthew 24:14; finally, upon all nations, Matthew 24:31. This series of judgments points to a period of the royal administration of Christ upon earth, which in the fuller eschatological development of Rev. 20 is represented in the symbolical form of a thousand years’ kingdom. Thus, as the great crisis of the destruction of Jerusalem unfolds itself into a period which closes only with the appearance of Christ, so again the crisis of the appearance of Christ is the germ of a period which is consummated in the general judgment and the end of the world. But the millennial kingdom is, in its totality, the great last day of separation and cosmical revolution, out of which the present world will issue in heavenly glorification.—The sending of Christ thus collects together the faithful around the Lord upon earth; although the greeting and reception is to be regarded as conducted in the clouds, that is, at the point of transition between the old and the new spiritual kingdom.

With a great sound of a trumpet.—De Wette: “It is to be construed, either: with a trumpet of loud sound, or, better: with a great sound of a trumpet.” Compare קוֹל שוֹפָר חָזָק Ex. 19:16. Trumpets occur in the Old Testament in connection with the theophany, and in the New Testament in connection with the Christophany (1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:52; and in Rev.); probably, because they had a sacred use among the Israelites (Num. 10:1–10). Olshausen would fain understand the angel and the trumpet allegorically of the proclamation of the gospel by the Apostles. We prefer to place the emphasis here upon the trumpet The Apocalypse distinguishes various trumpets, which follow each other, becoming more and more important, and therefore giving a stronger sound as they proceed. It speaks of seven trumpets (Matthew 8:6; 11:16). And from this section it appears that by these eschatological trumpets are meant cosmical revolutions, as the theocratical trumpets signified social revolutions among nations, and typical victories of God’s people over the heathen. Meyer correctly observes that the individual angels are not here represented as blowing trumpets, but that the trumpet precedes the voice of the angel, as its preparatory cry, 1 Thess. 4:16; that is, the cosmical signs precede the spiritual manifestations.

Matthew 24:31. And they shall gather together His elect.—Here the resurrection of the elect (the first resurrection, primarily) is declared. Properly, gather together into one place, ἐπισυνάξουσι Meyer: “That is, to Him where He is just about to make His appearance on earth.”—His elect.—That is, with the appearance of the Lord, His Church also, hitherto Mattered and concealed among the nations, will be fully united and appear in festal array. The bride of Rev. 21:9. Meyer refutes many spiritualizing and enfeebling interpretations; such as “the preaching of the gospel” (Lightfoot),—“the preservation of Christians at the destruction of Jerusalem” (Kuinoel).

Matthew 24:32. Now from the fig-tree learn the parable, ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν—They were to take from the fig-tree a parable (not merely a similitude), namely, the particular parable which illustrates the sudden appearance of the end of the world. The peculiarity of the fig-tree is this, that the blossom comes before the leaf—the fruit leads on the leaves. Thus, when the leaves are unfolded, the summer or the harvest (θέρος) is nigh. The leaves here are the cosmical revolutions already mentioned; but the summer harvest is the advent of Christ itself. When the great signs appear, the Lord will soon come.

Matthew 24:33. So likewise ye:—who should make a special application of what is a natural observation of all. When ye shall see all these things:—not the signs from Matthew 24:15 to Matthew 24:29 (Meyer), but the cosmical signs of Matthew 24:30, for which the others are preparatory.

That it is near, even at the doors.—(1) Olshausen: The kingdom of God. (2) Ebrard: The judgment. (3) Grotius, de Wette, Meyer: The Messiah. (4) The end, ἡ παρουσία καὶ ἡ συςτέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος. For that was what the disciples were asking about, Matthew 24:3; comp. Matthew 24:14. Especially the former.

Matthew 24:34. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away—1. Jerome: The human race.52 2. Calovius: The Jewish nation,53 3. Maldonatus: The creation. 4. De Wette, Meyer: That present generation. Luther: “All will begin to take place now in this time, while ye live:” that is, ye will survive the beginning of these events. So Starke, Lisco, Gerlach. But Christ here speaks of the end of the world. 5. The body of My disciples, the generation of believers. So Origen, Chrysostom, and others, also Paulus. Meyer raises here his usual protest against doctrinal prejudice involved; but what doctrinal interest could Paulus, the rationalist, have in this interpretation? This generation means the generation of those who know and discern these signs. Since the words of Matthew 24:33, “So likewise ye” etc., could not have their literal fulfilment in the disciples themselves, the Lord extends the ὑμεῖς of Matthew 24:33 by the ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη Matthew 24:34. But that He would have the word so understood, is proved by the declaration of Matthew 24:35, “My words shall not pass away.” The words referred to are here the living words concerning these last things and they do not pass away, only when and because they find in every γενεά of believers those who continuously carry on those words.—Not pass away.—This cannot mean, “not remain unfulfilled” (de Wette). That is self-understood, especially as “heaven and earth” had just been spoken of. The Lord here expresses His assurance that His words will remain eternal words in a perpetual Church—in a Church, also, disposed to look for and hasten unto the fulfilment of His words concerning the “last things.”

[I add the note of Alford: “As this is one of the points on which the rationalizing interpreters (de Wette, etc.) lay most stress to shew that the prophecy has failed, it may be well to shew that γενεά has in Hellenistic Greek the meaning of a race or family of people. See Jer. 8:3 in LXX.; compare Matthew 23:36 with Matthew 24:35, ἐφονεύσατε … but this generation did not slay Zacharias—so that the whole people are addressed: see also Matthew 12:45, in which the meaning absolutely requires this sense (see note there): see also Luke 17:25; Matt. 17:17; Luke 16:8, where γενεά is predicated both of the υἱοὶ τουα αἰῶνος τούτου and the υἱοὶ τοῦ φετός Acts 2:40; Phil. 2:15. In all these places, γενεά=γένος or nearly so; having it is true a more pregnant meaning, implying that the character of one generation stamps itself upon the race, as here in this verse also.—This meaning of γενεά is fully conceded by Dorner; ‘omnes reor concessuros, vocem γ si earn vertas œtas, multas easque plane insuperabiles ciere difficultates, contextum vero et orationis progressum flagitare significationem gentis, nempe Judæorum.’ (Stier, 2:302.) The continued use of παρέρχομα ι in Matthew 24:34, 35, should have saved the commentators from the blunder of imagining that the then living generation was meant, seeing that the prophecy is by the next verse carried on to the end of all things; and that, as matter of fact, the Apostles and ancient Christians did continue to expect the Lord’s coming, after thai generation had passed away. But, as Stier well remarks, ‘there are men foolish enough now to say, heaven and earth will never pass away, but the words of Christ pass away in course of time;—of this, however, we wait the proof.’ ii. 505.”—P. S.]

Matthew 24:34 and 35. Till all these things be fulfilled.—Schott, erroneously: “The destruction of Jerusalem.” Fritzsche: “The signs of the coming.” Better: Both the signs and the coming itself. The Scripture knows nothing, however, of an actual passing away of heaven and earth; only of a dissolution of the old condition of things in the transmutation of heaven and earth, 2 Pet. 3:7, 8.

Matthew 24:36. But of that day.—Surely there is no contradiction here to Matthew 24:34, but only to Meyer’s and de Wette’s exegesis of Matthew 24:34, in which the Evangelist is asserted to have erroneously predicted that the then present generation would survive the end of the world. Meyer, indeed, thinks this the meaning, that, while all would take place during the time of that generation, the more exact statement of the day and hour was not to be given. But we have here rather that distinction between the religious measure of time and the chronological measure of time, which runs through the whole of the apocalyptic part of the New Testament (1 Thess; 2 Thess; 2 Pet 3; Apoc). The key is to be found in 2 Pet 3:8.

Knoweth no one, but the Father only.—Meyer: “This excludes the Son, also.” Mark 13:32; whose not knowing ‘Lange wrongly changes into a holy unwillingness to know, or a self-limitation of knowledge.’ ”54 But Sartorius has rightly understood and adopted my interpretation. The Son would not prematurely reflect upon that point as a chronological point of time, and the Church in that should imitate Him.55

Matthew 24:38. For as … they were.—For, explanatory. The chronological end of the world is concealed by its seeming prosperity in the last days, as in the days of the flood. They ate, etc., emphatically: in the original all are participles, etc. [which can be better rendered in English: they were eating and drinking, etc., than in the German.—P. S.]. They lived as those who were only eating, etc.

Matthew 24:39. And knew not until.—They knew nothing of what was coming; nothing even then when Noah went into the ark before their eyes.

Matthew 24:40. The one shall be taken.—According to Matthew 24:31, to be explained of the being gathered together by the angels. The view of Wetstein and others, that the one is taken captive and the other allowed to flee, is contrary to the connection, and has a false reference to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Matthew 24:41. Two women shall be grinding, ἀλήθουσαι—The employment of female slaves, Exod. 11:5; Isa. 47:2, etc. “As now in the East, women, one or two together, turn the handmills (Rosenmüller: Morgenland; Robinson: Palestine). These slaves sit or kneel, having the upper millstone in their hands, and turning it round on the nether one, which is fixed.

Matthew 24:43. But know this.—How momentous the not knowing the hour is, the instance of the householder shows. As he does not know the hour of the breaking in, he must always provide for the safety of his household. But if he knew the time and the hour, the necessity of constant watchfulness would not exist. The similitude of the thief is further extended, 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15. The tertium comparationis is the perfect surprise; and the figure has its application, not only to the end of the world, but also to the hour of death, and to those tragical catastrophes which occur in the history of nations as well as in the lives of individuals. All these critical periods are connected with the final judgment, and form with it one whole.

Matthew 24:44. Therefore be ye also ready.—Because it is the fundamental law of watchfulness to be always watching; and because the Son of Man will be generally unexpected when He comes,—therein like a thief in the night, that is, at a time when the world will be buried in profound sleep. When they first open their eyes, the great robbery will have been effected; all their old and worldly state, in which they had found a false life, will have been wrested from them forever.


1. See the preceding remarks. On the peculiar difficulties which exegesis finds in this eschatological discourse, compare de Wette and Meyer. In various ways it has been attempted to settle the meaning of the text, by a spiritual interpretation of many individual traits (Dorner), or by referring the whole to the destruction of Jerusalem (Michaelis). According to Credner, we would have here prophecies ex eventu; while Meyer maintains that they were not fulfilled at all in the manner here predicted, because the disciples confounded what Christ said of His ideal coming with what He said of His real or actual coming.56 The school of Baur refer the signs preceding the coming, and the composition of St. Matthew’s Gospel, to the time of Hadrian,—a supposition which was meant to serve the well-known Ebionite hypothesis [i.e., that the Christianity of the original Apostles, as distinct from that of Paul, was essentially Judaizing, and did not rise far above the later heresy of Ebionism.—P. S.]. But, as it regards the uncertainty of exposition in this passage, it can be obviated only by making ourselves familiar with the cyclical method of apocalyptical representation. This is not to be confounded with what Bengel called the perspective view of the prophets, although it has some affinity with it (comp. my Leben Jesu, ii. p. 1259). According to the perspective view of the future, the successive critical events that lie behind each other are brought near, so that the great epochs rise into light like the tops of mountains, while their times of unfolding, the periods, are concealed behind them, or are manifest only in less prominent signs. The cyclical contemplation proceeds according to the process of these epochs; but in such a way that the whole is in each case regarded under its characteristic aspect, and each new starting-point is treated as an object brought forward into the present. The starting-point of the first epoch in this chapter is that Pseudo-Messianism which began even in the apostolic age (Simon Magus). The second is the Jewish war. The third is the first commencement of the cosmical phenomena and changes. The view therefore goes on from the signs in the ecclesiastical world to the signs in the political world, and then on to the cosmical signs. They are the same stages by which Christianity glorifies the world.

2. Distinguishing between the historical and the spiritual coming of Christ, we find the principle of a twofold eschatological παρουσία in the evangelical history. Every victory of Christ in the world is a sign of His actual coming, and a symptom of His future advent. The personal resurrection of Jesus recurs, and is unfolded in the first and second resurrections. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit recurs, and is unfolded in the judgment and the glorification of the world. But these coincide in their historical influence; the manifestation of Christ in its spread goes on from the individual to the people, from the people to mankind, from the Church to the State, from the State to the universe, and so from death to the intermediate state, from this to the resurrection. But the consummate appearance of Christ is, in opposition to the first coming, the judgment; for, as the development of the seed is the harvest, so the development and consummation of redemption is separation and doom.

3. Stier (Reden Jesu, ii. 539) makes the ingenious remark, that St. John was directed to record, in harmony with his esoteric design, the last gracious promises of our Lord’s coming again to comfort; while the Synoptists recorded His prophecies concerning the return for judgment We have only to add, that St. John’s eschatology was to be unfolded into a distinctive apocalypse.

4. The Progress of the Last Events.—The whole representation combines in one view the history of the nations and the history of the Church of Christ; the history of the earth with the history of mankind. From the personal history and glorification of Christ the world moves on in its development toward the end of the world, which will be at the same time the transformation of the world. Each cycle of it lays stress upon one particular stage of the development. Each stage has a Christian and a secular side. The first stage presents a picture of the whole development of the world under the Christological point of view, and in this the movement is more gentle. But more vehement is its progress from the beginning of the judgment, the destruction of Jerusalem, in the second stage. Finally, in the third stage, its swiftness is like the lightning from heaven.

5. The Destruction of Jerusalem.—Gerlach: “This period was rendered more terrible to the Jews than we can imagine, by the fact that with Jerusalem and the temple the ground of all their perverted faith and hope was taken away. The greater and the holier the truth is to which error has attached itself, the more heart-rending is the sorrow when those who are Involved in that error at last open their eyes.”

6. The Doctrine of Antichristianity at the Shadow of Christianity.—(1) The kingdom of evil among men goes on side by side with the kingdom of God, and takes the form of an anticipation and distortion of the fundamental principles of that kingdom. (2) As a false and carnal anticipation it is always one step ahead, as the monkey precedes man. (3) The kingdom of God develops itself in opposition to the kingdom of darkness, and vice versâ, and the one becomes mature in conflict with the other. (4) Pseudo-Christianity and Antichristianity are one in their principle and aim. (5) The last apparent triumph of Antichristianity brings on the last and full manifestation of the victory of Christ, even His parusia.

7. The assertion that the Apostles erred in the expectation of the near advent of Christ, rests on a confusion of the religious hope with an ordinary mathematical calculation, and of the majestic coming of Christ which is going on constantly in the process of history, with the last individual appearance.

8. Christians, waiting in a heavenly frame of mind for their Lord, will find that He is their Friend, their legitimate Lord, their Royal Bridegroom. If they think of His coming with an earthly mind, He appears to them as a thief, who will strangely and unrighteously break in upon their earthly relations and possessions.


Christ the great Prophet, as the prophesier of His advent and of the end of the world: 1. The great prediction accredits the great Prophet; 2 the great Prophet accredits the great prediction.—The fulfilled predictions of Christ are a pledge of the fulfilment of the remainder.—The solemn thought, how we are rushing on toward the final consummation.—The patience and the wrath of God, as seen in Christ’s delineation of the last times: First, one day of time appears to stretch to a thousand years (the slow period); then a thousand years are as one day (the swift epoch, 2 Pet. 3:4; comp. Ps. 90:4).—The intercession of the disciples for the earthly temple, and the Lord’s declaration.—The opposite points of view from which the Lord and the disciples regarded the building of Herod’s temple: 1. To them it appeared just risen up in renewed magnificence; 2. to Him it already appeared fallen a spiritual ruin into the flames.—The Lord’s look back from the Mount of Olives upon the city and the sanctuary of His people; or, the sacred night discourse to the disciples concerning the end of the world.—The Lord corrects the question of His disciples about the last things: They ask first about the when, He answers with the how; they ask about the last signs, He points them to the collective preparatory signs; they ask what will come before the end of the world, He shows them what immediately impends over themselves.—The wisdom of prophecy a concealment and disclosure of the future.—We must, like the disciples, be assured that the Lord cometh for manifestation and decision: 1. That He cometh; 2. that before Him His sign cometh; 3. that with Him and after Him the end cometh.—Christ’s three great pictures of the end of the world: 1. Their similarity; 2. their difference.

FIRST CYCLE (Matthew 24:3–14).—The Lord’s first word concerning the end: Take heed that no man deceive you.—His three words concerning the right preparation for the end: 1. Take heed (Matthew 24:4); 2. see that ye (courageous and wakeful) be not troubled (Matthew 24:6); 3. endure unto the end (in love, Matthew 24:12, 13).—The signs of the coming of Christ and the result: 1. Ecclesiastical woes (false Christs, millennarian deceivers of all kinds); 2. political woes (near and distant wars); 3. national woes (downfall and destruction of peoples and empires); 4. woes of nature (crises in the air and on the land; famines; pestilences; distress of human life; earthquakes); 5. woes of the abyss (persecution and apostasy); 6. all these woes pangs of birth (all must subserve the preaching of the gospel, and the spread of the kingdom of God among the nations. Apoc. 6.: The black horses behind the rider upon the white horse, his equipage and attendants).—The prophecy of the false Messiahs in its comprehensive and solemn meaning: 1. It refers not only to those who present themselves with the title of Christ (Jewish adventurers, Barcochba, etc.), but also to all who assume His place in relation to souls (self-constituted representatives of Christ, lords over conscience, leaders of sects, etc.); 2. it has been fulfilled in the literal and spiritual meaning, and in a fearful manner, for our warning.—See that ye be not troubled; or, he who knows how to read the Bible aright, will rightly read the newspapers as a Christian.—The true and Christian observation of the signs of the times.—All convulsions of the earth must glorify the everlasting word of heaven in its everlasting establishment (Matthew 24:7): 1. They must confirm its prophetic truth; 2. they must subserve its victory; 3. they must announce and bring about the coming of Christ.—The natural signs of the coming of the Lord; or, how we must distinguish between the signs of superstition (comets, meteors, etc.) and the signs of faith (famines, etc.): 1. The former signs are, rightly understood, only signs of the order of things; 2. the latter, on the contrary, are signs of the revolution and derangement of things. They are internally connected, as the birth-pangs of nature (Rom. 8:19), with the birth-pangs of the Church.

Matthew 24:9 : The end of the old world is, that they hate one another; that is, that they are in despair as to all personal life.—Hatred in Christendom, the sign of a world in Christendom fallen under condemnation: 1. Hatred of Christianity; 2. hatred of confessions; 3. party hatred; 4. hatred in opinion.—To the wasted condition of the Church is opposed the prosperous error of the world, under the guise of reform,—that is, 1. erring announcers of the new; 2. new announcers of error.—The fanaticism of false ecclesiastical systems conjures the phantom of Antichristianity into the broad light of day.—Lawlessness is not the most elevated life, but is the consummate death of love.—False prophets proclaim love, and mean unbridled caprice, the death of love.—The consolation of Christ, and the kindness with which He interprets to His disciples famines and pestilences.—The convulsions of the earth signs of its preparation for the last events.—Earthly troubles collectively only the beginning of real woes.—Woes of martyrdom, religious wars, and apostasy, the heaviest woes.—The religious wars of later times in the light of Christ’s prediction.—Every purer development of Christianity must excite the same hatred in the world within Christendom, which Christianity at first excited in the world at large.—The preaching of the gospel, or missionary efforts, the most comforting signs of the coming of Christ—The preaching of the gospel, in its gradual extension over the earth, a confirmation of the gospel itself.—The gospel always opening up new worlds for its work of salvation: 1. The Græco-Roman (ancient Church); the German and Sclavonic (Middle Ages); the new world and all lands (evangelical period).—The preaching of the gospel through out the world throws a consolatory light on the sufferings of the world.—The end of the world will be also the end of all ends.—The great death of the world, in which all the deaths of mortal humanity have their consummation and end.—The word end, in its endlessly rich significance: 1. How instructive; 2. how fearful; 3. how encouraging; 4. how full of promise.

SECOND CYCLE (Matthew 24:15–28).—The abomination of desolation, the signal for Christians to fly to the mountains: 1. At the destruction of Jerusalem; 2. in the midst of Church history; 3. at the end of the world.—True separation from a state of things which is exposed to judgment: 1. Not premature, but in haste;57 2. not partial, but complete; 3. not stern, but gentle: 4. not with self-confidence, but with prayer.—The first congregation of Christ took counsel and warning by Christ’s word, and were saved, for a type to us.—The destruction of Jerusalem in its everlasting significance: 1. A testimony to the truth of Christ; 2. a proof of His sympathy (Matthew 24:19–21; comp. Luke 19:41; 23:28); 3. a demonstration of the severity of God toward His covenant-people, under the New Covenant as well as under the Old.—The great tribulation, such as never had been, and never will be again: 1. The centre of all judgments upon the old world; 2. the beginning and the sign of all final judgments.—In what sense the judgment upon Jerusalem was the end of the world: 1. It was the end of the manifestation of the kingdom of God in this state; 2. the death-struggle between the Jewish and the Gentile world; 3. the sign of that point of transition at which the judgment of the world upon Christ was changed into a judgment of Christ the King upon the world.—The New Testament day of grace in the light of burning Jerusalem: 1. A season of judgment cut short; 2. a fruitful time of grace (in which the vine flourishes beside the stream of lava over the volcano); 3. a time of temptation to apostasy from Christ to false prophets; 4. a time of the most forbearing patience and waiting for the final manifestation.—The Antichristianity of the last days, 2 Thess. 2.—Lying Christianity and Antichristianity one and the same under different aspects: 1. Lying Christianity is antichristian in assuming Christ’s place; 2. Antichristianity exerts its influence through Christian means, which it perverts.—Go not forth to expect the appearing of Christ, but always rather retire within: 1. Not out into the waste wilderness; 2. within, into yourselves, communion with Christ.—Be not moved, not to say seduced, by false prophets and their lying wonders.—No human pomp shall herald Christ, but the lightning of God, which shineth from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof.—Where the carcass is, the eagles are gathered: a law of life,—1. pretypified in nature; 2. fulfilled, and being fulfilled, in the course of history; 3. waiting for its last realization at the end of the world.—This last saying holds good of individuals, as well as of whole nations and conditions.

THIRD CYCLE (Matthew 24:29–44).—The end of the world: 1. In its nature and appearance (Matthew 24:29–31); 2. in its time (Matthew 24:32–36); 3. in its relations to the world (Matthew 24:37–39); 4. in its judicial effect (Matthew 24:40,41); 5. as a great exhortation (Matthew 24:42–44). Or, the end of the world the consummation,—1. of all the signs of heaven; 2. of all the faneral lamentations; 3. of all prophetical visions; 4. of all the revelations and glorifications of Christ; 5. of all the glad announcements of the gospel and assemblies of the saints; 6. of all the surprises of the world at ease; 7. of all judgments and exhortations to watchfulness. Or, 1. As the end and consummation of the ancient judgments; 2. as the beginning and the germ of a new revelation. Or, 1. Viewed comprehensively in its cause, the appearance of the person of Christ; 2. extended in its influence over heaven and earth.—With the maturity of the Church all is mature: 1. Humanity; 2. the earth; 3. the world of stars; 4. the constitution of heaven.—The great testimony to the glory of the Son of Man at the end of the world: 1. The stars of heaven; 2. the families of earth; 3. the angels of God; 4. the elect of Christ.—The sign of the Son of Man; or, the manifestation of Christ in the glory of God (the Shechinah, Titus 2:13).—The great funeral lamentation of the peoples at the death of the old world.—The beginning of sight, brought in by the appearance of Christ: 1. When all men will become seers; 2. and all visions will approve themselves to be tremendous realities.—The meaning of the trumpet in the history of the kingdom of God, Rev. 8:9.—Angels ministers of Christ in judgment as well as in salvation.—The end of the world the great and final redemption (Luke 21:28).—Judgment a result of redemption; separation of shell and kernel, corn and chaff, good and evil.—The leaf of the fig-tree a sign of all turning-points (catastrophes) in the history of the world.—How overwhelming in their surprise the great times of decision are!—The generation of Christians, as a generation of those who wait for Christ, never passes away.—The people of the Lord eternal like His word: 1. Through His word; 2. for His word.—How solemnly has the Lord sealed the secrecy of the last day!—How all days of judgment, from the time of Noah, have been preceded by the feast-days of carnal security.—Two in the field: the fellowship of the new world abolishes all the fellowships of the old.—The sudden effect of judgment: 1. Infinitely amazing and sudden (in the field, and at the mill); 2. rigorous in its separation (all kinds of companions and comrades); 3. embracing all (men, women, owners, slaves); 4. stately and tranquil (not to be received to the feast, means to be rejected).—Watch, the last word concerning the end of the world. The first was an exhortation to prudence, the last an exhortation to watchfulness and readiness.—The figure of the thief in the night; or, the fearful solemnity of the thought, that the Judge of the world may come at any moment: 1. At any moment for the world, seeing He is already on the way; 2. at any moment for thee, as thou knowest least thy last hour.—Readiness for Christ’s advent diffuses somewhat of the brightness of His future glorification over life.—The anxious anticipation of the great feast of epiphany: 1. A joy with fear and trembling; 2. anxiety and trembling in the blessed joy and hope.

On Matthew 24:37–51 (Scripture Lesson for the 28th Sunday after Trinity).—Watchfulness is above all the duty of those who bear the office of watchmen.—The greater the insecurity and danger, the more needful the watchfulness.—Watchfulness the distinguishing characteristic of the true servants of Christ: 1. It is a tribute to the treasure, which is to be guarded; 2. it points to conflict with an enemy; 3. to the danger of the time of night; 4. to fidelity in waiting for the Lord.—The security of the world should arouse and keep effectually awake the servants of Christ. (See for more, below.)

INTRODUCTION.Starke:—Quesnel: Many are very surious to know the time of the end of the world; but few arc busy in preparing themselves for the end of their life.

Heubner:—Desolate, without the Divinity, lifeless and unblessed, is the temple which Christ has forsaken.—What value has the building of stone, if the Spirit of God builds up no spiritual edifice?—The external embellishments of the Old Testament Church pass away; the temple which the Spirit builds, abides.—Only the weak are blinded by vain, external grandeur.—Times of pregnant fate excite all minds, and make them intent upon extraordinary help (ever-Savonarola an example). The desolation of holy places, churches in war, are solemn and humbling remembrances of God,—judgments upon those who have not valued holy things.

FIRST CYCLE.Starke:—Quesnel: The world is full of seducers: every one need be on his guard that he be not seduced, 2 John 7.—Osiander: Dreadful judgment, to be adherents of a false Christ, of false prophets; and thus to depend upon them for salvation, 2 Thess. 2:11.—Quesnel: Bad sign it is, not to know a good shepherd. God often takes such an one away in righteous judgment, suffering a hireling to come in his stead.—The judgments of God begin at His own house, Acts 9:16; 1 Pet. 4:14.—Osiander: To suffer for the sake of the truth is a benefit, 1 Pet. 2:19, 20.—Cramer: the Church of Christ cannot exist without offence, 1 Cor. 11:19.—Quesnel: The mingling of good and bad dangerous, but necessary.—Zeisius: Many who in prosperous times are held good Christians, fall away in the time of persecution, Luke 8:13.—Nothing can stay the spread of the gospel.

Lisco:—The great prosperity of the missionary cause in our days a sign of the times (Matthew 24:14).—Gerlach: Instead of gratifying curiosity, Christ warns and exhorts.—All the predictions of Scripture are warnings and encouragements, exhortations, proceeding from one great central truth, but never mere fore announcements of future events.—All these are the beginnings of woes.—The regeneration of the world Jesus likens to natural birth.—Heubner: Calmness of Christians amidst the convulsions of the world.—External revolutions pave the Lord’s way: the hand of the Lord is in them all.—The time of persecution is a time of test and sifting.—No cross, no crown.

SECOND CYCLE (Matthew 24:15–28, the Gospel for the 25th Sunday after Trinity).—Starke:—Hedinger : When God’s angry judgments are begun, there is no more room for watchfulness or hope.—Pleasant places, and strong defences, are of no use when God’s rebukes are sent: they must be forsaken.—Zeisius: The angry judgments of Heaven, once begun, cannot be hindered but abated.—Out of six troubles He will save thee, Job 5:19.—Shall not God deliver His own elect? Luke 18:7, 8.—Cramer: Christ is nowhere to be found but in the word and sacrament.—He who binds Christ and His kingdom to certain persons, places, times, and hours, is certainly by that token of the guild of the false prophets.—Zeisius: As a physical abomination was a certain sign of the desolation of Israel, so the spiritual abomination of Antichrist within the Church will be a certain sign of the advent of Christ, and of the end of the world, 2 Thess. 2:3.—Canstein: The devil apes our Lord Christ.—Osiander: God keeps a strict and careful eye on His elect.—It is dangerous to trust men things which pertain to salvation.

Gerlach:—The putrifying corpse of the world’s and of the Church’s organization, and finally of all humanity (1) upon earth.—Heubner: The tender and compassionate heart of Jesus thinks of all the scenes of tribulation at the destruction of Jerusalem; especially of the pangs of maternity, of the anguish and helplessness of those with child, and those that give seck: comp. John 16:21. This should draw to Christ all hearts of mothers.—Christ’s directions, and Christians’ duty, in all times of general distress.

Westermeier:—How we must prepare ourselves beforehand for the day of judgment.—Dräseke: The days will be shortened to the elect.—Rambach: The goodness of God in the midst of His judgments.—Reinhard: That Christians must be confident when nothing, fearful when everything, depends upon them.—Bachmann: The department of true Christians in the advancing corruption of the times.

THIRD CYCLE (Matthew 24:37–51, the Gospel for the 28th Sunday after Trinity).—Starke:—Canstein: As often as we look up to the clouds, we should remember the Lord and His coming; and thus keep His fear before our eyes.—Osiander: The pious, driven about in this world, will all be gathered together in the kingdom of heaven; not one of them will be left behind.—The day of death and of judgment concealed.—The more secure, the nearer the Judge.—Cramer: The more daring the blasphemers are in their riot and debauchery, the nearer the Lord.—A wise householder makes his house sure every night.—The uncertain day of his death is to every one his last day.—Fidelity is the most beautiful trait of the servants of God.—Fidelity and prudence go together.—Because hypocrites are of double heart, the decree in their punishment is that they shall be cut asunder.

Lisco:—The coming of the Son of Man will be as sudden and unexpected as the flood was. (Both predicted; both finding an unbelieving, careless generation, sunk in carnal security.)—Blessed results of watchfulness.—The necessity of perpetual readiness, exhibited in the fate of the unfaithful steward.

Heubner:—The earthly-minded fear the last day and the Lord’s coming, as the miser fears the thief; to him the Lord is only a thief, robbing him of all that he has.—The duties and the recompense of the faithful servant.—The guilt and the punishment of the unfaithful servant.

Hossbach:—The true watchfulness and preparation of Christians for the coming of the Lord.—Rambach: On the obligation to prepare for death and judgment.—W. Hoffmann (Maranatha, 1857): The signs of the coming of Christ: 1. The hour of temptation; 2. the sufferings of the Church of Christ; 3. the power of the lie; 4. carnal security; 5. universal preaching of the gospel.


[1]Matthew 24:2.—[The best ancient authorities, Including Cod. Sinait., omit Ιησοῦς, and read: ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς πεν—P. S.]

[2]Matthew 24:2.—The omission of οὐ in Codd. D., E., is an emendation.

[3]Matthew 24:6.— [̔Ορᾶτε, μὴ θροεῖσθε, Meyer: Sehet such vor, erschrecket nicht; Lange: Schauet auf, doch er schrecket nicht, i.e., Look up, but be not frightened; Conant: Take heed, be not troubled. Μή is not to be connected with ὁρᾶτε, since in this case it would require θροῆσθε instead of θροεῖσθε. Hence there must be a Comma after ὁρῦτε as in the best editions. See Conant in loc. and Winer, §56,1st footnote.—P. S.]

[4]Matthew 24:6.—Lachmann, after Codd B,, D., L, etc., omits it πάντα,

[5]Matthew 24:7.—Και λοιμοι is omitted in Codd. B., D., E., by Lachmann, Tischendorf [also by Tregelles and Alford]. The omission may be explained from the s militude of the preceding λιμοί, but the connection requires λιμοί. [Cod. Sinait. reads: σεισμοι και λιμοι, reversing the order and omitting λιμοί. Famines and pestilences are usual companions, hence the proverb: μετὰ λιμὸν λοιμός. The etymological signification of these cognate terms is a pining or wasting away.—P S.]

[6]Matthew 24:15.—[Luther and Lange: Gräuel der Verwüstnng; Ewald: Gräuel des Erstarrens; Meyer: das Scheusal der Verwritung; Vulg.: abominatio desolationis, whence our English Version, of which Conant says: “No substitute can be given for this pregnant form of expression. The Hebraism is as natural and intelligible In English as in the Greek; and any solution of it is comparatively weak and tame in expression.” See Lange’s Exegetical Notes in loc.—P. S.)

[7]Matthew 24:15.—[Fritzsche, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles read: ἑστός, with a number of the best uncial MSS., but Meyer and Alford defend the text. rec.: ἑστός, and regard ἑστός as a grammatical correction in ignorance that ἑστώς is neuter. See Matthiæ, p. 446, and Meyer in loc—P. S.]

[8]Matthew 24:15.—̔Ο ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω, a parenthetic remark of the Evangelist (hence ἀναγινώσκων instead of ἀκούων), and by Lange printed in small type: Der Leser merke auf; Conant: let him that readeth mark; Campbell reader, attend.—P.S.]

[9]Matthew 24:17.—[The critical editions, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, read: τὰ ὲκ τῆς οἰκίς, the things out of the house, instead of τι (anything). But Lange, in his Version, prefers the text. rec. (etwas), which is supported by Cod. D, Irensæus, and many authorities, and preferable as to sense. Cod. Sinait. reads τι—P. S.]

[10]Matthew 24:18.—The singular: τὸ ἱμάτιον, is supported by Lachmann, [Tregelles, and Alford, but not by Tischendorf], according to many ancient authorities, [also Cod. Sinait.], and is more appropriate than the plural, τὰ ίμάτια. He who is already dressed for the field needs only his cloak for the journey.

[11]Matthew 24:21.—[Even is an emphasizing insertion of King James’s revisers, and should be omitted as in the Authorized Version of the parallel passage, Mark 13:19, where the Greek Testament reads as here: οὺ μὴ γένηται—P. S.]

[12]Matthew 24:22.—[Or: for the sake of the chosen (διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς). All the earlier English Versions, from Wiclif’s to that of the Bishops, have chosen for elect, and Conant defends it as preferable. The revisers of King James are inconsistent, rendering the word ἐκλεκτο: chosen in Matt. 20:16; 22:14; Luke 23:35; Rom. 16:13; 1 Pet 2:4, 9; Rev. 17:14. but in nil other passages: elect. If elect be retained, it should be changed: for the sake of the, elect, which Is smoother than for the elect’s sake, before chose—P. S.]

[13]Matthew 24:24.—[Ωστε πλανῆσαι, εἰ δυνατον. See Conant in loc, who also changes the authorized rendering of πλανῆσαι to deceive, into: to lead astray, in this whole chapter.—P. S.]

[14]Matthew 24:27.—Καί after ἔσται is omitted In [Cod. Sinait.], B., D., al., Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Tregelles, Alford].

[15]Matthew 24:28.—Codd. B., D., L., [Sinait.], Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Alford], omit γάρ for

[16]Matthew 24:31.—Φωνῆς is wanting in L., el., Δ al. Other authorities have it before σάλπιγγος or after it with καί (Lance: mit einer Posaune von lautem Schall; Ewald: mit lautem Posaunenschall.]

[17]Matthew 24:32.—̓Ε κφύῃ [̔Ο κλάδος is the subject, as in the E. V.] Fritzsche, Lachmann, al., write ἐκφυῆ (et folia edita fuerint).

[18]Matthew 24:36.—Codd. B., D„ al., add: ού δὲ ὁ υἱός Probably an insertion from Mark 13:32. Contra Origen, Athanasius, Jerome. [Cod. Sinait. has likewise the addition ούδὲὁυἱός after ουρανῶν and Lachmann adopts it in the test. Its omission may be more easily explained from doctrinal prejudice than its insertion from the parallel passage in Mark. Jerome, however says that some Latin MSS. read neque filius. but “in Giæcis et maxime Adamantii et Pierid exemplaribus honnon habetur adscriptum” and according to Athanasius it was alleged at the Council of Nicæa, A. D. 325, that these words were in Mark only.—[P. S.]

[19]Matthew 24:36.—[The critical sources of Lachmann and Tregelles omit μου after ὁ πατήρ. It is missing in Cod. Sinait. as well as in Cod. Vaticanus. But Tischendorf and Alford retain it.—P. S.]

[20]Matthew 24:37.—[Οὕτως ἔσται without which is thrown out in all critical editions, and probably inserted from the parallel passage in Luke 17:26.—P. S.]

[21]Matthew 24:39.—[Οὕτωςἔσται as in Matthew 24:37, without the καί of the text rec. See the critical editions. Dr. Lange, however, retains it in both cases.—P. S.]

[22]Matthew 24:42.—Codd. B., D., [Sinait.], etc., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Rink, Meyer, [Tregelles, Alford], read: ἡμέρᾳ. The received reading: ὥρᾳ is probably taken from Matthew 24:44 as a more exact term.

[23]Matthew 24:43.—[Διορυγῆναι lit.: dug through; but διορύσσειν “was applied to any mode of forcing an entrance into a dwelling or storehouse for plunder.” (Conant.)—P. S.]

[24][Not the Commentator with whom the Edinb. trsl. confounds him, and whose Christian name is Heinrich August Watheim.—P. S.]

[25][The marble, he tells ns, was so white that the building appeared at a distance like a mountain of snow, and the gilding as dazzling as the rays of the sun. Some of the stones were forty-five cubits long, five high, and six broad. Even Tacitus speaks of the extraordinary magniflcence of the Herodian temple.—P. S.]

[26][A similar case of the interrogative use of οὐ is John 6:70: οὐκ ἐγὼ ύμᾶς τοὺς δώδεκα εξελεξάμην, κ.τ.λ.—P. S.]

[27][The Edinb. trsl., overlooking the sc. (scilicet, namely), the noch hultloser. and the melmehr of the original, makes Lange here defend the interpretation of Meyer, which he expressly rejects—P. S.]

[28][The siege of Jerusalem began at the Mount of Olives (lit: the Olives, των λαιων), and at the passover, the place and time Of this prophecy. Joseph. Bell. Jud. 5:2, 3; 6:9, 3.—P. S.]

[29][The late Judge JOËL JONES, of Philadelphia (Notes on Scripture, p. 311, as quoted by Dr. Nast) and Dr. W. NAST (Com. in loc.) refer the inquiry of the apostles to one and the sumo event, concerning which they wished to know the time and the sign, and understand the παρουσία of the personal coming of Christ which would bring about the end of the present world and the establishment of His kingdom. In the view of the disciples at that time these two events coincided, and one and the same sign they imagined would serve for both. Otherwise Nast falls in with Lange’s interpretation of this whole chapter.—P. S.]

[30][Alford refers the ἀκοαί πολ έμων to the three threats of war against the Jews by Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, Joseph. Antiq xix. 1, 2. We doubt very much whether, prophecy is ever so specific—P. S.]

[31] [I Beg leave to quote a passage from my diary during the famous Southern Invasion of Pennsylvania under General R. E. Lee in June and July, 1863, which may throw some light on this passage, in its wider application to different periods of repeated fulfilment:

MERCERSBURG, Pa. June 18,1868. It seems to me that I now understand better than ever before some passages in the prophetic discourses of our Saviour, especially the difference between ‘wars’ and ‘rumors of tears,’ and the force of the command ‘to fire to the mountains’ (Matthew 24:16), which I hear again and again In these days from the mouth of the poor and other fugitives. Rumors of wars, as distinct from wars, are not as usually understood, reports of wars in foreign or distant countries—for these may be read or heard with perfect composure and unconcern—but the conflicting confused, exaggerated, and frightful rumors which precede the approach of war to our own homes and firesides, especially the advance of an invading army, and the consequent panic and commotion of the people, the suspension of business, the confusion of families, the apprehensions of women and children, the preparations for flight, the fear of plunder, capture, and the worst outrages which the unbridled passions of brute soldiers are thought capable of committing upon an unarmed community. Such rumors of wars are actually often worse than war itself, and hence they are mentioned after the wars by way of climax. The present state of things in this community is certainly much worse than the rebel raid of Gen. Stuart’s cavalry in Oct. last, when they suddenly appeared at Mercersburg at noonday, seized a large number of horses, shoes, and storegoods, and twelve innocent citizens as candidates for Libby prison, but did no further harm, and left after a few hours for Chambersburg. But now the whole veteran army of Lee, the military strength and flower of the Southern rebellion, is said to be crossing the Potomac and marching into Pennsylvania; we are cut off from all mail communication and dependent on the flying and contradictory rumors of passengers, straggling soldiers, run-away , and spies. All the schools and stores are closed; goods are being hid or removed to the country, valuables buried in cellars and gardens and other places of concealment; the poor —the innocent cause of the war—are trembling like leaves and flying with their little bundles ‘to the mountains,’ especially the numerous run-away slaves from Virginia, from fear of being re-captured as ‘contrabands’ and sold to the far South; political pas ions run high; confidence is destroyed: innocent persons are seized as spies; the neighbor looks upon his neighbor with suspicion, and even sensible ladies have their imagination excited with pictures of horrors far worse than death. This is an intolerable state of things, and it would be a positive relief of the most painful suspense if the rebel army would march into town.”

Shortly after the above was written various detachments of Lee’s army took and kept possession of Mercersburg till the terrible battles of Gettysburg on the first three days of July, and although public and private houses were ransacked, horses, cows, sheep, and provision stolen day by day without mercy, captured and carried bock into slavery (even such as I know to have been born and raised on free soil), and many other outrages committed by the lawless guerilla bands of Neil, Imboden, Mosby, etc., yet the actual reign of terror, bad as it was, did not after all come up to the previous apprehensions creat d by the “rumors of war,” and the community became more calm and composed, brave and and u[illegible] mindful of danger. After the battles of Gettysburg, about a thousand wounded and mutilated rebel officers and soldiers were captured on their retreat to the Potomac, and left in the Theological Seminary at Mercersburg to be cared for by the very people who had been previously robbed and plundered by their comrades. Thus the peaceful scenes of good will and reconciliation followed the horrors of war, and the bitterness of strife gave way to the kindly sympathies and generous acts of human nature and of Christian charity Unfortunately a year afterward (July, 1864), a band of rebels invaded Southern Pennsylvania again, and, unmindful of these acts of kindness, plundered Mercersburg, and burned the defenceless flourishing town of Chambersburg to ashes,—one of the most cruel acts in this cruel civil war.—P. S.]

[32][Also to the assiduœ sterilitates of which Suetonius (Claud. 18) speaks, and the fames which Tacitus (Annal. xii. 43) mentions about the same time. There was also a pestilence at Rome about 65, which in a single autum carried off 30,000 persons. (Sneton. Nero 39, Tacit. Annal. xvi. 13.) See Greswell, and Alford.—P. S.]

[33][ALFORD in loc., and others who refer the prophecy one-sidedly to the destruction of Jerusalem, mention hers the great earthquake in Crete about 46 and 47, another at Rome in 51, a third and fourth in Phrygia in 53 and 60, fifth in Campania (Tacit. Annal. xv. 22).—P. S.]

[34][Nomistisch is not: legal enough, as the Edinb. trsl. has is, which gives no sense in this connection, but legalistic in a bad sense as opposed to evangelical or truly Christian. Alford refers here to the plentiful crop of heretical teachars which sprung up every where in the apostolic age with the good seed of the gospel. Acts 20:30; Gal. 1:7–9; Col. 2; 1 Tim. 1:6, 7, 20; 2 Tim. 2:18; 3:6–8; 1 John 2; 2 Pet. 2; Jude, etc.—P. S.]

[35][Alford refers the τελος in its primary meaning to the destruction of Jerusalem, but in its ulterior meanings to the day of death or martyrdom for the individual, and to the end of all things for the Church at large.—P. S.]

[36][Dr. NAST, and others, regard Matthew 24:14 as the cheering key note echoing through and above all the doleful sounds of this prophecy. “Though ever so many dazzling pseudo-Mesiahs arise, though bloody wars and wild tumult till the world, though the existing order of things be overturned by the storm of revolutions or by the migrations of whole nations, though the earth be visited by devastating pestilence, or be shaken in its very foundations—notwithstanding all this, the gospel of the kingdom, of that glorious kingdom of God and His Anointed, shall be published to all nations, so that all may have an opportunity to accept it, and that it may be a witness against them if they reject it.” Judge JONES: “The universal promulgation of the gospel is the true sign of the end, both in the [narrow and restricted] sense in which the disciples put the question and in the [wider and universal] sense, which in the Saviour’s mind it really involved.” The preaching of the gospel throughout the Roman world preceded the end of the Jewish State; the promulgation of the gospel throughout the whole world will be the sign of the end of the αιὼν οὑτος. “The gigantic missionary operations of our days,” says O. VON GERLACH, “have brought us considerably nearer to the fulfilment of this word of our Lord.” ALFORD: “The apostary[illegible] of the latter days, and the universal dispersion of missions, are the two great signs of the end drawing near.”—P. S.]

[37][So also Stier, Alford, Wordsworth, and Nast, who refer the words to the internal desecration of the temple by the Jewish zealots under pretence of defending it. See Joseph. Bell. Jud. 4:6, 3. But Word worth in a long note, which “introduces much mystical and irrelevant matter,” gives the prophecy of Daniel a wider application: (1) to the idol statue of Jupiter set up in the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes (Comp. 1 Macc. 1:54, where that idol is expressly called: βδελυγμα έρημώσεως ἐπὶ το θυσιαστήριον: (2) to the desecration of the zealots in the Jewish war; (3) to the setting up of the bishop of Rome on the altar of God, and the abominations of the papacy, “the man of sin sitting in the temple of God” (2 Thess. 2:4)—P. S.]

[38][Probably with reference to the words of the angel to Daniel (9:25): “Know therefore and understand.” So Stier, Nast, Wordsworth.—P. S.]

[39][Alford regards the words as an ecclesiastical note, like the doxology to the Lord’s Prayer, 6:13, for liturgical use. It must be admitted that in the first three Gospels there occur[illegible]s no similar case of a subjective insertion calling attention to any event or discourse. But Alford’s hypothesis is thrown out of the question by the unanimous testimony of the critical authorities in favor of the passage.—P. S.]

[40][Not: Jews and Christians, as the Edinb. trsl. has it. See Meyer, p. 445.—P. S.]

[41][Similarly Greswell and Alford, who refer to the various causes which combined to shorten the siege of Jerusalem: (1) Herod Agrippa had begun to fortify the walls of Jerusalem against any attack, but was stopped by orders from Claudius about 42 or 43. (2) The Jews being divided into factions, had totally neglected any preparations against the siege. (3) The magazines of corn and provision were Just burned before the arrival of Titus (πλὴν ὸλίγου πάντα τὸν σῖτον, says Joseph. Bell. Jud. 5:1, 5). (4) Titus arrived suddenly, and the Jews voluntarily abandoned parts of the fortification, (5) Titus himself confessed that he owed his victory to God, who took the fortifications of the Jews (Bell. Jud. 6:9, 1). “Some such providential shortening of the great days of tribulation, and hastening of God’s glorious kingdom, is here promised for the latter times.”—P. S.]

[42][In German: Beschleunigung, and not delay as the Edinb. trsl. has it, thus perverting the original into the very opposite. Meyer (see his Com. on Matt. p. 395 sq. 3d ed., to which Lange refers, or p. 446 of the 4th ed. which I mostly use) confines the elect to the Christian believers at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and hence thinks that the hastening of the end will facilitate their salvation by shortening the period of trial and probation and diminishing the danger of apostasy. But Lange differs from this view, as appears from the ohne Grund, and the reference to 2 Pet. 2:9, both of which are omitted in the Edinb. trsl.—P. S.]

[43][So also Chrysostom (the congregated eagles are the assembly of saints and martyrs) and Euthymius Zigabenus. Among modern Interpreters Dr. Wordsworth soberly defends this untenable patristic interpretation: “As keen as is the sense of the eagle for the πτωμα, so sharp-sighted will be true Christians to discern, and flock to, the body of Christ.” The reason, he thinks (with Jerome), why Christ calls Himself here πτῶμα is, because He saves us by His death. He, too, quotes Ps. 103:5 and Isa. 40:31 (as Jerome did before), to prove that saints may be compared to eagles who renew their youth and fly up with wings to Christ and will be caught up with Him in the clouds But a reference of πτωμα to the sacred body of the Saviour, which never saw corruption, violates every principle of good taste an propriety.—P. S.]

[44][Similarly ALFORD: The πτῶμα is the whole world, the ἀετοί the angels of vengeance. See Deut. 28:49, which is probably here referred to; also Hosea 8:1; Hab. 2—P. S.]

[45][Alford thinks that all the difficulties connected with εὺθέως have arisen from confounding the partial fulfilment of the prophecy with its ultimate one. Wordsworth quotes from Glassius, Philol. Sacra, p. 447, the following remark on εὺθέως: “Non ad nostrum computum, sed divinum, in quo dies mille sunt unus dies.” Ps. 90:4; 2 Pet 3:8. Hence the whole interval between the first and the second coming of Christ is called the last time, or the last hour, ἐσχάτμ ὤρα, 1 John 2:18: 1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Pet. 4:7; Heb. 1:2, etc. In the Apostles’ Creed, too, we immediately add to the article on the ascension and the sitting at the right hand of God, the words: “from thence He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead.” Dr. Nast, to avoid the difficulties which beset the ante-rnillennarian interpretation of εὺθεως (Stier, Ebrard, Auberlen, Alford), as well as that which refers Matthew 24:29 sqq. to the destraction of Jerusalem (A. Clarke, and others), proposes a figurative interpretation of Matthew 24:29–36, and sees here a picture of a “judicial visitation of nominal Christendom by Christ, in order to destroy all ungodly institutions and principles in Church and State, of which visitation the overthrow of the Jewish polity was but a type, and which itself is, in turn, the full type of the final and total overthrow of all powers of darkness on the great day of judgment.” Consequently tin Lord’s coming, as described in vers, 29–36, would be merely a providential coming, which precedes His final, personal coining. See below.—P. S.]

[46][Owen: A total eclipse of the sun. Whedon understands here visible phenomena of the heavens at the visible appearance of Christ. See Nast.—P. S.]

[47][So also Wordsworth, who gives these words a double sense, a physical and spiritual: “The sun shall be darkened,—i.e., the solar light of Christ’s truth shall be dimmed, the lunar orb of the Church shall be obscured by heresy and unbelief, and some who once shone brightly as stars in the firmament of the Church shall fall from their place.” similarly Alford.—P. S.]

[48][Alford: “δυν. τ. οὐρανῶν, not the stars just mentioned; nor the angels, spoken of Matthew 24:31; but most probably the greater heavenly bodies, distinguished from the άστέρες (Gen. 1:16), typically: the influences which rule human society and make the political weather fair or foul.”—P. S.]

[49][Similarly Alford, who refers to the star of the Wise Men fur illustration, but at the same time inclines to the patristic view that this sign by which all shall know the approach of Christ, will probably be a cross.—P. S.]

[50][Lunge endeavors to render it in his German Version by stehen weinen (im Trauerchor) und sehen erscheinen (im Schauerchor)—rather artificial. The Edinb. trsl. omits the allusion altogether.—P. S.]

[51][In German: Die Christenheit, i.e., the whole body of Christians, but not: Christianity (German: Christenthum) as the Edinb. edition falsely translates here and elsewhere (comp. p. 394, note). So in the preceding sentence, this trsl has repeated for taken, up, mistaking the German nacholen (to fetch up, to make up for past neglect) for wieder holen. In the following sentence we read the ‘origina natural types of nature,” for national types (naticinala Naturtypen),—no doubt a mere printing error.—P. S.]

[52][Jerome is undecided: “Aut omne genus hominum Signincat, aut specialiter Judœorum.—P. S.]

[53][So Doraer, Stier, Nast, Alford, and Wordsworth. The latter, however, assigns to γενεά a double sense, applying it first to the literal Israel, and then to the spiritual Israel, thus combining interpretation 2. with that sub 5.—P. S.]

[54][So I translate the German: ein heiliges Nichtwissen-uollen, instead of the unintelligible Edinb. trsl.: a sacred willing not to know. Meyer objects to Lange’s interpretation as previously given in his Life of Jesus, which he hare reasserts.—P. S.]

[55][Some fathers in the Arian controversy, and so Wordsworth among; recent commentators, explain that Christ knew personally, but did not know officially, i.e., did not make known, the hour of judgment;—but this is excluded by the plain meaning of οί̈δεν, as well as by οὐδείς and οἱ ἄγγελοι, where such a distinction between personal and official knowledge is inadmissible. The older orthodox commentators generally took the ground that Christ knew the hour as God, but did not know it as man; but this rests on an abstract and almost dualistic separation between the divine and human nature in Christ. Alford honestly admits the difficulty, and assumes real ignorance for the time of Christ’s humiliation. “The very important addition,” he says, “to this verse in Mark: ουδὲ ὁ υἱός, is indeed included in εὶ μὴ ὁ πατὴρ μόνος, but could hardly have been inferred from it, had it not been expressly stated, see Matthew 20:23. All attempts to soften or explain away this weighty truth must be resisted; it will not do to say with some commentators, ‘nescit ea NOBIS,’ which a mere evasion:—in the course of humiliation undertaken by the Son in which He increased in wisdom (Luke 2:52). learned obedience (Heb. 5:8). uttered desires in prayer (Luke 6:12, etc.),—this matter was hidden from Him: and this is carefully to be borne in mind in explaining the prophecy before us.” But this is not satisfactory. It seems to me, we must assume here a voluntary self-limitation of knowledge, which is a part of the κένωσις, and which may be illustrated by the passage, 1 Cor. 2:2, viz. the determination of St. Paul not to know any thing among the Corinthians (οὐ γἀρ ἔκρινα τοῦ εἰδέναι τι ἐν ὑμῖν), except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Christ could, of course, not lay aside, in the incarnation, the metaphysical attributes of His Divine nature, such as eternity, but He could, by an act of His will, limit His attributes of power and His knowledge and refrain from their use as far as it was necessary for His humiliation. His voluntarily not knowing or “sacred unwillingness to know,” the day of judgment during the days of His flesh, is a warning against chronological curiosity and mathematical calculation in the exposition of Scripture prophecy. It is not likely that any theologian, however learned, should know more, or ought to know more, on the point before the end than Christ Himself, who will judge the quick and the dead, chose to know in this state of His humiliation.—P. S.]

[56][The Edinb. trsl. misunderstands this whole passage, and confounds the views of Credner and Meyer: “According to Credner and Meyer.” It also omits several important passages in this whole section.—P. S.]

[57][In German; nicht voreilig, aber eilig.—P.S.]

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?


CHAPTER 24:45–51

(Luke 12:35–46—The Gospelfor the 27th Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 24:37–51)

45Who then is a [the, ] faithful and wise servant, whom his58 lord hath made ruler the lord set, κατέστησεν59 over his household60, to give them meat [food, τὴν τροφήν] in 46due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler [set him] over all his goods. 48But and if [But if, ἐὰν δέ] that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49And shall begin to smite [beat] his fellow servants, and to eat and drink [and shall eat and drink]61with the drunken; 50The lord of that servant shall [will] come in a day when he looketh not for him [it], and in an hour that he is not aware of 51[when he is not aware, ἡ οὐ γινὠσκει], And shall [will] cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Matthew 24:45. Who then is?—That is, in conformity with the previous instructions. The Lord shows in a parable that the judgment will begin upon those in office in the Church. He shows the contrast between the faithful and the unfaithful servant, but dwelling finally upon the latter. The τίς is not instead of εί̔ τις. According to Bengel and de Wette, it is encouraging: May every one be such a servant. According to Meyer, there is a change of construction: the characteristics of the servant ought to follow; but in the vivacity of the discourse the commendation and the characteristics go together. But the description of the servant which has gone before—faithful and wise—is in favor of de Wette.

Whom the lord hath made ruler.—This being appointed of the Lord has stress laid upon it in the case of the faithful servant. In the case of κακὸς δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος it is omitted, and the σύνδουλοι are made prominent.—Over his household.—We read θεραπεια, which makes it more definite that the office of rulership has for its end only to provide nourishment for the house. The office is the office of ruler, only so far as it actually imparts spiritual food in the office of teacher. Watching is here indicated in its concrete form, as fidelity to the calling. It is connected with faith, as not watching is connected with unbelief.

Matthew 24:47. Verily I say unto you, ... ruler over all.—The description of the perfect κληρονομία. Comp. Rom. 8:17.

Matthew 24:48. But and if that evil servant shall say.—The ἐκεῖνος is not only δεικτικῶς, but also prophetically significant. The faithful servant was hypothetically mentioned in the form of exhortation; the wicked servant is exhibited as a very definite form in the future, and brought near to present view. The evil conduct of the wicked servant springs from unbelief, which, however, in his official position, he can utter only in his heart. But his unbelief is specifically unbelief in regard to the coming of the Lord and His award.—My lord delayeth.—The expression marks an internal mocking frivolity. But his bad conduct is evidently exhibited in two aspects: first, as a despotic and proud bearing to his fellow- servants, whom he abuses instead of giving them nourishment; and secondly, as laxity of conduct toward the wicked members of the household and the uninvited guests, with whom he commits all kinds of riot and debauchery. Meyer: First, we have his conduct toward his fellow-servants, and then his conduct outside62 the οὶκετεία; and, under the rule of such a steward, the household generally is to some extent given over to wickedness. Such a dissolute hospitality, also, is signified, as makes all drunkards from without welcome. The fellow-servants here must be understood of such as are faithful servants of their absent master.—The great historical contrast between the Inquisition and Indulgences will easily occur to the reader.

Matthew 24:51. And cut him asunder: διχοτομήσει.—The expression is so significant that Meyer properly holds fast the literal rendering, “to cut into two parts,” and rejects all generalizing interpretations, such as scourging (Paulus, de Wette, etc.), mutilation (Michaelis), exclusion from service (Beza), and extreme punishment (Chrysostom). It is emphatically the punishment of the theocracy, cutting in two, sawing asunder,—1 Sam. 15:33; 2 Sam. 12:31 (Heb. 11:37),—which here figuratively expresses a sudden and annihilating destruction, and possibly not without reference to the double-mindedness of the condemned, or even to the duplicity of the Anti-Christianity which will finally bring spiritual despotism to its doom (see Rev. 13:1 and 11).

With the hypocrites.—The further doom of the wicked servant after the judgment of the great day of Christ’s coming. “Even the Rabbins send the hypocrites to Gehenna.” The wicked servant is a hypocrite, not only because he thinks to present himself at last under the guise of fidelity, and must have showed false colors from the beginning (Meyer), but especially because, in his ill-treatment of the fellow-servants, he assumes the semblance of official zeal.


1. The parable of the good and wicked servants applies specially to the disciples, and with them to spiritual officers in the Church, although not without application to Christians generally. It is to be observed, that, according to Luke, Peter gave the Lord occasion to utter it. Yet the whole context shows that it belongs to the general eschatological instruction which we find in Matthew; that is, it naturally connects itself with the discourse concerning the last things, and opens the series of parables and declarations which introduce the judgment of the end of the world, the day that winds up the present age. This connection makes the contrast between the good and wicked servant more than a mere exhortation; it assumes a prophetic aspect, as indeed is seen in the definite expressions which pervade it.

2. In regard to the rulership of the two servants, it is observable that he who humbly serves his fellow servants, faithfully giving them their food (the word and spiritual nourishment generally), is represented as being set over the household by his lord, and that it is promised that he should be set over all his lord’s goods. But the wicked servant, who despotically set himself over the household and house, is not represented as having been appointed; in his supposed official correction of his subordinates, he appears to be a reckless injurer of his equal fellow servants.


The faithful servant and the wicked servant in the Church: 1. Their opposite spirit: the one waits for the coming of the Lord, the other puts no faith in that coming. 2. Their acts: the one takes care of the household’s nourishment, the other makes himself a despotic lord, who abuses the faithful, and wastes the goods of the house in riotous living. 3. Their recompense: blessed and miserable surprise at the advent of the Lord. The one is elevated to the highest dignity, the other is condemned and destroyed on the spot.—The faithful servant waits for his Lord, while he waits upon the Church with the Lord’s word.—The contradiction in the life of the wicked servant: 1. In his spirit: mocking unbelief of the self deception, which supposes that in his lord’s long absence he must take the whole government, instead of the mere provision of food. 2. In his deportment: fearful severity against the better of the household; perfect laxity toward the wicked, and fellowship with their wickedness.—That servant who assumes the highest place in hypocrisy will encounter the sharpest doom.—The divided heart will be punished by a perfect dividing asunder of the life.—The great schism of the Greek and Latin Church, an earn est sign of judgment.—The great schisms in the Occidental, and in the Protestant Church, and their bearing upon the end of ecclesiasticism on earth.—The twofold judgment over perfected unfaithfulness: 1. A sudden surprise; 2. an endless punishment.—The punishment of unfaithfulness in office the punishment of the hypocrite.


[58]Matthew 24:45.—Αὑτοῦ is missing In B., D, L., at, [Cod. Sinait], and thrown out by Lachmann and Tischendorf.

[59]Matthew 24:45.—[Cod. Sinait. reads here: καταστησει, shall set, for κατέστησεν. Anticipated from Matthew 24:47.—P. S.]

[60]Matthew 24:45 —Lachmann and Tischendorf: οἰκετεία, following B., L., al. It likewise means household, the body of servants. But for internal reasons the text, rec: θεραπεία, which has sufficient witnesses, is preferable. [Cod. sinait. reads: οικια.—P.S]

[61] Matthew 24:49.—Codd. B., C.,D [and the critical editions], read: ἐσθίῃ δὲ καὶ πίνῃ [instead of the infinitives ἐσθίειν καὶ πίνειν, depending on ἄρξηται.—P.S.]

[62][The Edinb. trsl. has just the reverse: within. The servants constitute the household, the guests are the outsiders.—P. S.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Matthew 23
Top of Page
Top of Page