For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)As the lightning cometh out of the east.—In this and the three preceding verses we are, as it were, on the dim border-land of the primary and the ultimate fulfilments of the words. The disciples in their questions (Matthew 24:3) had connected the destruction of Jerusalem with the “coming” of their Lord, and the two are connected even in His own words and thoughts. In whatever way He came, whether in the final destruction of the Temple and polity of Israel, or at the end of the world’s great drama, the advent would be sudden and unlooked-for as the lightning-flash. The crises of the world’s history, which are the “springing and germinant accomplishments” of such words as these, are always unexpected by the great mass of mankind, even though the few whose eyes are opened can discern the signs of the times, and know that their “redemption draweth nigh.”Matthew 24:27-28. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, &c. — The coming of the Son of man shall be in a very different manner, and for very different ends from what you are imagining. It shall be like lightning, swift, unexpected, and destructive. His appearance will be as distinguishable from that of every false Christ, as lightning, which shines all round the hemisphere, is from a blaze of straw. What Bishop Pearce observes from Josephus is very memorable, that “the Roman army entered into Judea on the east side of it, and carried on their conquests westward, as if not only the extensiveness of the ruin, but the very route which the army would take, was intended in the comparison of the lightning coming out of the east, and shining even unto the west.” For wheresoever the carcass is, &c. — For though the coming of the Son of man shall be like lightning, swift, spreading, and destructive, yet he will not come personally; his servants only shall come, the Roman armies, who by his command shall destroy this nation as eagles devour their prey. Thus our Lord, after his usual manner, applies a proverbial expression with a particular meaning; and the Romans are very properly compared to eagles, both because eagles are the fiercest birds of prey, and because the Roman ensign was an eagle, to which probably our Lord alluded in this passage.Luke 10:18; Zechariah 9:14.
The coming of the Son of man - It has been doubted whether this refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, or to the coming at the day of judgment. For the solution of this doubt let it be remarked:
1. that those two events are the principal scenes in which our Lord said he would come, either in person or in judgment.
2. that the destruction of Jerusalem is described as his coming, his act.
3. that these events - the judgment of Jerusalem and the final judgment in many respects greatly resemble each other.
4. that they "will bear," therefore, to be described in the same language; and,
5. therefore, that the same words often include both events, as properly described by them.
The words had, doubtless, a primary reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, but they had, at the same time, such an amplitude of meaning as also to express his coming to judgment. See the introduction to Isaiah, section 7, (3).
Mt 24:1-51. Christ's Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Warnings Suggested by It to Prepare for His Second Coming. ( = Mr 13:1-37; Lu 21:5-36).
For the exposition, see on Mr 13:1-37.See Poole on "Matthew 24:28".
and shineth even unto the west; to the western part of it, with great clearness; in a moment; in the twinkling of an eye, filling the whole intermediate space;
so shall also the coming of the son of man be; which must be understood not of his last coming to judgment, though that will be sudden, visible, and universal; he will at once come to, and be seen by all, in the clouds of heaven, and not in deserts and secret chambers: nor of his spiritual coming in the more sudden, and clear, and powerful preaching of the Gospel all over the Gentile world; for this was to be done before the destruction of Jerusalem: but of his coming in his wrath and vengeance to destroy that people, their nation, city, and temple: so that after this to look for the Messiah in a desert, or secret chamber, must argue great stupidity and blindness; when his coming was as sudden, visible, powerful, and general, to the destruction of that nation, as the lightning that comes from the east, and, in a moment, shines to the west.For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 24:27. Reason why they were not to listen to such assertions. The advent of the Messiah will not be of such a nature that you will require to be directed to look here or look there in order to see him; but it will be as the lightning, which, as soon as it appears, suddenly announces its presence everywhere; οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία ἐκείνη, ὁμοῦ πανταχοῦ φαινομένη διὰ τὴν ἔκλαμψιν τῆς δόξης, Chrysostom. Not as though the advent were not to be connected with some locality or other upon earth, or were to be invisible altogether (R. Hofmann); but what is meant is, that when it takes place, it will all of a sudden openly display itself in a glorious fashion over the whole world. Ebrard (comp. Schott) is wrong in supposing that the point of comparison lies only in the circumstance that the event comes suddenly and without any premonition. For certainly this would not tend to show, as Jesus means to do, that the assertion: he is in the wilderness, etc., is an unwarrantable pretence.Matthew 24:27. ὥσπερ γὰρ, etc.: the coming of the true Messiah, identified with the Son of Man, compared to the lightning, to suggest a contrast between Him and the false Christs as to visibility, and enforce the counsel to pay no heed to those who say: He is here, or He is there.27. as the lightning] All-pervading, swift, sudden and of dazzling brightness; such shall be the coming of the Son of man.
shineth] Translate, appeareth. The flash is instantly visible in the remotest quarter.Matthew 24:27. Ἀστραπὴ, lightning) It is not all lightning that is meant, but that which sometimes suddenly fills the whole horizon without previous warning.—ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, from the east) The lightning comes also from the other quarters; but in this passage it is said to come from the east. It may be supposed that Christ’s Advent will take place from the east. The interval which is to elapse between the appearance of the Lord’s Advent (see Gnomon on 2 Thessalonians 2:8) and the Advent itself, enables the actual Advent to be sudden.—τοῦ Υἱοῦʼ Ανθρώπον, of the Son of Man) From this place to Matthew 24:44, especially, He is frequently called The Son of Man; cf. ch. Matthew 25:31.Verse 27. - As the lightning...east...west. That is, shines from one end of heaven to the other. St. Chrysostom's comment explains the similitude: "How, then, shineth the lightning? It needs not one to talk of it, it needs not a herald, but even to them in chambers it shows itself in an instant of time throughout the whole world. So shall that coming be, showing itself at once everywhere by reason of the shining forth of his glory." We are told, "every eye shall see him." His advent shall be sudden, universal, unmistakable; in a moment he shall be present, visible in all his power and glory. From the language of this verse probably has been derived the orientation of churches, and the mode adopted of depositing the bodies of deceased Christians, so that they may at the resurrection face the Lord when he comes from the east.
Rev., better, is seen. The coming of the Lord will be a plain, unmistakable fact, like the lightning which lightens both ends of the heaven at once, and is seen of all. It will not be connected with some particular place, but will manifest itself and be recognized over the whole world. Compare Revelation 1:7 : "Every eye shall see him."
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