Matthew 24:27
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.
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(27) 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.

24:4-28 The disciples had asked concerning the times, When these things should be? Christ gave them no answer to that; but they had also asked, What shall be the sign? This question he answers fully. The prophecy first respects events near at hand, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish church and state, the calling of the Gentiles, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world; but it also looks to the general judgment; and toward the close, points more particularly to the latter. What Christ here said to his disciples, tended more to promote caution than to satisfy their curiosity; more to prepare them for the events that should happen, than to give a distinct idea of the events. This is that good understanding of the times which all should covet, thence to infer what Israel ought to do. Our Saviour cautions his disciples to stand on their guard against false teachers. And he foretells wars and great commotions among nations. From the time that the Jews rejected Christ, and he left their house desolate, the sword never departed from them. See what comes of refusing the gospel. Those who will not hear the messengers of peace, shall be made to hear the messengers of war. But where the heart is fixed, trusting in God, it is kept in peace, and is not afraid. It is against the mind of Christ, that his people should have troubled hearts, even in troublous times. When we looked forward to the eternity of misery that is before the obstinate refusers of Christ and his gospel, we may truly say, The greatest earthly judgments are but the beginning of sorrows. It is comforting that some shall endure even to the end. Our Lord foretells the preaching of the gospel in all the world. The end of the world shall not be till the gospel has done its work. Christ foretells the ruin coming upon the people of the Jews; and what he said here, would be of use to his disciples, for their conduct and for their comfort. If God opens a door of escape, we ought to make our escape, otherwise we do not trust God, but tempt him. It becomes Christ's disciples, in times of public trouble, to be much in prayer: that is never out of season, but in a special manner seasonable when we are distressed on every side. Though we must take what God sends, yet we may pray against sufferings; and it is very trying to a good man, to be taken by any work of necessity from the solemn service and worship of God on the sabbath day. But here is one word of comfort, that for the elect's sake these days shall be made shorter than their enemies designed, who would have cut all off, if God, who used these foes to serve his own purpose, had not set bounds to their wrath. Christ foretells the rapid spreading of the gospel in the world. It is plainly seen as the lightning. Christ preached his gospel openly. The Romans were like an eagle, and the ensign of their armies was an eagle. When a people, by their sin, make themselves as loathsome carcasses, nothing can be expected but that God should send enemies to destroy them. It is very applicable to the day of judgment, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in that day, 2Th 2:1. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; then may we know that no enemy or deceiver shall ever prevail against us.For as the lightning cometh out of the east ... - This is not designed to denote the quarter from which he would come, but the manner. He does not mean to affirm that the "Son of man" will come from the "east," but that he will come in a rapid and unexpected manner, like the lightning. Many would be looking for him in the desert, many in secret places; but he said it would be useless to be looking in that manner; it was useless to look to any particular part of the heavens to know where the lightning would next flash. In a moment it would blaze in an unexpected part of the heavens, and shine at once to the other part. So rapidly, so unexpectedly, in so unlooked-for a quarter, would be his coming. See 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 [1355]Mr 13:1-37.

See Poole on "Matthew 24:28".

For as the lightning cometh out of the east,.... The eastern part of the horizon,

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.
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. Matthew 24:27Shineth (φαίνεται)

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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