Matthew 24:29
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
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(29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days.—From this point onwards the prophecy takes a wider range, and passes beyond the narrow limits of the destruction of Jerusalem to the final coming of the Son of Man, and the one is represented as following “immediately” on the other. No other meaning could have been found in the words when they were first heard or read. The “days” of this verse are those which were shortened “for the elect’s sake” (Matthew 24:22). The “tribulation” can be none other than that of Matthew 24:21, which was emphatically connected with the flight of men from the beleaguered city. The language of St. Mark, “in those days, after that tribulation,” followed by a description of the second Advent identical in substance with St. Matthew’s, brings the two events, if possible, into yet closer juxtaposition. How are we to explain the fact that already more than eighteen centuries have rolled away, and “the promise of His coming” still tarries? It is a partial answer to the question to say that God’s measurements of time are not as man’s, and that with Him “a thousand years are as one day” (2Peter 3:8); that there is that in God which answers to the modification of a purpose in man, and now postpones, now hastens, the unfolding of His plan. But that which may seem the boldest answer is also (in the judgment of the present writer) that which seems the truest and most reverential. Of that “day and hour” knew no man, “not even the Son” (Mark 13:32), “but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36); and therefore He, as truly man, and as having, therefore, vouchsafed to accept the limitations of knowledge incident to man’s nature, speaks of the two events as poets and prophets speak of the far-off future. As men gazing from a distance see the glittering heights of two snow crowned mountains apparently in close proximity, and take no account of the vast tract, it may be of very many miles, which lies between them; so it was that those whose thoughts must have been mainly moulded on this prediction, the Apostles and their immediate disciples, though they were too conscious of their ignorance Of “the times and the seasons” to fix the day or year, lived and died in the expectation that it was not far off, and that they might, by prayer and acts, hasten its coming (2Peter 3:12). (See Note on Matthew 24:36.)

Shall the sun be darkened.—The words reproduce the imagery in which Isaiah had described the day of the Lord’s judgment upon Babylon (Isaiah 13:10), and may naturally receive the same symbolic interpretation. Our Lord speaks here in language as essentially apocalyptic as that of the Revelation of St. John (Revelation 8:12), and it lies in the very nature of such language that it precludes a literal interpretation. Even the common speech of men describes a time of tribulation as one in which “the skies are dark” and “the sun of a nation’s glory sets in gloom;” and the language of Isaiah, of St. John, and of our Lord, is but the expansion of that familiar parable. Sun, moon, and stars may represent, as many have thought, kingly power, and the spiritual influence of which the Church of Christ is the embodiment, and the illuminating power of those who “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15), but even this interpretation is, it may be, over-precise and technical, and the words are better left in their dim and terrible vagueness.

The powers of the heavens.—These are, it will be noted, distinguished from the “stars,” and may be taken as the apocalyptic expression for the laws or “forces” by which moon and stars are kept in their appointed courses. The phrase is found elsewhere only in the parallel passages in St. Mark and St. Luke.

Matthew 24:29. Immediately after, &c. — We are now come to the last act of this dismal tragedy, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the final dissolution of the Jewish polity in church and state, which our Lord, for several reasons, might not think fit to declare nakedly and plainly, and therefore chose to clothe his discourse in figurative language. Commentators, indeed, have generally understood this, and what follows, of the end of the world, and of Christ’s coming to judgment: but the words, immediately after the tribulation of those days, show evidently that he is not speaking of any distant event, but of something immediately consequent upon the tribulation before mentioned, and that must be the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, and the abolition of the Jewish polity, civil and religious. It is true, his figures are very strong, but not stronger than those used by the ancient prophets upon similar occasions. The Prophet Isaiah speaks in the same manner of the destruction of Babylon, Isaiah 13:10, The stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. The Prophet Ezekiel describes in similar terms the destruction coming on Egypt, Ezekiel 32:7-8. When I shall put thee out I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. The Prophet Daniel also uses similar language, when speaking of the slaughter of the Jews by the little horn, meaning probably Antiochus Epiphanes: And it waxed great even unto the host of heaven; and cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. And lastly, God, by Joel, foretelling this very same destruction of Jerusalem, Joel 2:30-31, says, I will show wonders in heaven and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood. So that great commotions and revolutions upon earth are often represented by commotions and changes in the heavens.

24:29-41 Christ foretells his second coming. It is usual for prophets to speak of things as near and just at hand, to express the greatness and certainty of them. Concerning Christ's second coming, it is foretold that there shall be a great change, in order to the making all things new. Then they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds. At his first coming, he was set for a sign that should be spoken against, but at his second coming, a sign that should be admired. Sooner or later, all sinners will be mourners; but repenting sinners look to Christ, and mourn after a godly sort; and those who sow in those tears shall shortly reap in joy. Impenitent sinners shall see Him whom they have pierced, and, though they laugh now, shall mourn and weep in endless horror and despair. The elect of God are scattered abroad; there are some in all places, and all nations; but when that great gathering day comes, there shall not one of them be missing. Distance of place shall keep none out of heaven. Our Lord declares that the Jews should never cease to be a distinct people, until all things he had been predicting were fulfilled. His prophecy reaches to the day of final judgment; therefore he here, ver. 34, foretells that Judah shall never cease to exist as a distinct people, so long as this world shall endure. Men of the world scheme and plan for generation upon generation here, but they plan not with reference to the overwhelming, approaching, and most certain event of Christ's second coming, which shall do away every human scheme, and set aside for ever all that God forbids. That will be as surprising a day, as the deluge to the old world. Apply this, first, to temporal judgments, particularly that which was then hastening upon the nation and people of the Jews. Secondly, to the eternal judgment. Christ here shows the state of the old world when the deluge came. They were secure and careless; they knew not, until the flood came; and they believed not. Did we know aright that all earthly things must shortly pass away, we should not set our eyes and hearts so much upon them as we do. The evil day is not the further off for men's putting it far from them. What words can more strongly describe the suddenness of our Saviour's coming! Men will be at their respective businesses, and suddenly the Lord of glory will appear. Women will be in their house employments, but in that moment every other work will be laid aside, and every heart will turn inward and say, It is the Lord! Am I prepared to meet him? Can I stand before him? And what, in fact, is the day of judgment to the whole world, but the day of death to every one?Immediately after the tribulation of those days - That is, immediately after these tribulations, events will occur that "may be properly represented" by the darkening of the sun and moon, and by the stars falling from heaven. The word rendered "immediately" - εὐθέως eutheōs - means, properly, "straightway, immediately," Matthew 8:3; Matthew 13:5; Mark 1:31; Acts 12:10; then "shortly," 3 John 1:14. This is the meaning here. Such events would "shortly" or "soon" occur In the fulfillment of the predictions they would be "the next in order," and would occur "before long." The term here requires us to admit that, in order to the fulfillment of the prophecy, it can be shown, or it actually happened, that things "did" soon occur "after the tribulation of those days" which would be "properly represented or described" by the images which the Saviour employs. It is not necessary to show that there could not have been "a more remote" reference to events lying far in the future, in which there would be a more complete fulfillment or "filling up" of the meaning of the words (compare the notes at Matthew 1:22-23); but it is necessary that there should have been events which would be "properly expressed" by the language which the Saviour uses, or which would have been in some proper sense "fulfilled," even if there had not been reference to more remote events. It will be seen in the exposition that this was actually the case, and that therefore there was a propriety in saying that these events would occur "immediately" - that is, "soon, or the next in order." Compare the notes at Revelation 1:1.

Shall the sun be darkened ... - The images used here are not to be taken literally. They are often employed by the sacred writers to denote "any great calamities." As the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars, would be an inexpressible calamity, so any great catastrophe - any overturning of kingdoms or cities, or dethroning of kings and princes is represented by the darkening of the sun and moon, and by some terrible convulsion in the elements. Thus the destruction of Babylon is foretold in similar terms Isaiah 13:10, and of Tyre Isaiah 24:23. The slaughter in Bozrah and Idumea is predicted in the same language, Isaiah 34:4. See also Isaiah 50:3; Isaiah 60:19-20; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 3:15. To the description in Matthew, Luke has added Luke 21:25-26, "And upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; people's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." All these are figures of great and terrible calamities. The roaring of the waves of the sea denotes great tumult and affliction among the people. "Perplexity" means doubt, anxiety; not knowing what to do to escape. "Men's hearts should fail them for fear," or by reason of fear. Their fears would be so great as to take away their courage and strength.


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.

Mark saith, Mark 13:24,25. In those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

Luke saith, Luke 21:25,26 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are combing on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Interpreters are much divided in the sense of these words, whether they should be interpreted,

1. Of Christ’s coming to the last judgment, and the signs of that; or,

2. Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.

Those who interpret it of the destruction of Jerusalem have the context to guide them, as also the reports of historians, of strange prodigies seen in the air and earth, before the taking of it; likewise the word immediately after, & c. But I am more inclinable to interpret them of the last judgment, and to think that our Saviour is now passed to satisfy the disciples about their other question, concerning the end of the world; for although Christ’s coming may sometimes signify that remarkable act of his providence in the destruction of his enemies, yet the next verses speaking of his coming with great power and glory, and of his coming with his angels, and with the sound of a trumpet, and gathering his elect from the four winds, the phrases are so like the phrases by which the Scripture expresses Christ’s coming to the last judgment, 1 Corinthians 15:52 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and Christ speaking to his disciples asking of him as well about that as the destruction of Jerusalem, I should rather interpret this verse with reference to the last judgment, than the destruction of Jerusalem before spoken of, or at least that these signs should be understood common both to the one and the other, as divers of the other signs mentioned in this chapter are. Some think that the darkening of the sun and the moon here, the falling of the stars, and the shaking of the powers of heaven, are to be taken metaphorically, as signifying the great change there should be in the ecclesiastical and civil state of the Jews; and it is true that such kind of expressions do often in Scripture so signify, Isaiah 13:10 24:23 Ezekiel 32:7 Joel 2:31. But without doubt the literal sense is not to be excluded, whether we understand the text of the destruction of Jerusalem, or of his coming to his last judgment; for as historians tell of great prodigies seen before the former, so the apostle confirms us that there will be such things seen before the day of judgment, 2 Peter 3:10,12.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days,.... That is, immediately after the distress the Jews would be in through the siege of Jerusalem, and the calamities attending it; just upon the destruction of that city, and the temple in it, with the whole nation of the Jews, shall the following things come to pass; and therefore cannot be referred to the last judgment, or what should befall the church, or world, a little before that time, or should be accomplished in the whole intermediate time, between the destruction of Jerusalem, and the last judgment: for all that is said to account for such a sense, as that it was usual with the prophets to speak of judgments afar off as near; and that the apostles often speak of the coming of Christ, the last judgment, and the end of the world, as just at hand; and that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, will not answer to the word "immediately", or show that that should be understood of two thousand years after: besides, all the following things were to be fulfilled before that present generation, in which Christ lived, passed away, Matthew 24:34 and therefore must be understood of things that should directly, and immediately take place upon, or at the destruction of the city and temple,

Shall the sun be darkened: not in a literal but in a figurative sense; and is to be understood not of the religion of the Jewish church; nor of the knowledge of the law among them, and the decrease of it; nor of the Gospel being obscured by heretics and false teachers; nor of the temple of Jerusalem, senses which are given into by one or another; but of the Shekinah, or the divine presence in the temple. The glory of God, who is a sun and a shield, filled the tabernacle, when it was reared up; and so it did the temple, when it was built and dedicated; in the most holy place, Jehovah took up his residence; here was the symbol of his presence, the mercy seat, and the two cherubim over it: and though God had for some time departed from this people, and a voice was heard in the temple before its destruction, saying, "let us go hence"; yet the token of the divine presence remained till the utter destruction of it; and then this sun was wholly darkened, and there was not so much as the outward symbol of it:

and the moon shall not give her light; which also is to be explained in a figurative and metaphorical sense; and refers not to the Roman empire, which quickly began to diminish; nor to the city of Jerusalem; nor to the civil polity of the nation; but to the ceremonial law, the moon, the church is said to have under her feet, Revelation 12:1 so called because the observance of new moons was one part of it, and the Jewish festivals were regulated by the moon; and especially, because like the moon, it was variable and changeable. Now, though this, in right, was abolished at the death of Christ, and ceased to give any true light, when he, the substance, was come; yet was kept up by the Jews, as long as their temple was standing; but when that was destroyed, the daily sacrifice, in fact, ceased, and so it has ever since; the Jews esteeming it unlawful to offer sacrifice in a strange land, or upon any other altar than that of Jerusalem; and are to this day without a sacrifice, and without an ephod:

and the stars shall fall from heaven; which phrase, as it elsewhere intends the doctors of the church, and preachers falling off from purity of doctrine and conversation; so here it designs the Jewish Rabbins and doctors, who departed from the word of God, and set up their traditions above it, fell into vain and senseless interpretations of it, and into debates about things contained in their Talmud; the foundation of which began to be laid immediately upon their dispersion into other countries:

and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; meaning all the ordinances of the legal dispensation; which shaking, and even removing of them, were foretold by Haggai 2:6 and explained by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 12:26 whereby room and way were made for Gospel ordinances to take place, and be established; which shall not be shaken, so as to be removed, but remain till the second coming of Christ. The Jews themselves are sensible, and make heavy complaints of the great declensions and alterations among them, since the destruction of the temple; for after having taken notice of the death of several of their doctors, who died a little before, or after that; and that upon their death ceased the honour of the law, the splendour of wisdom, and the glory of the priesthood, they add (g),

"from the time that the temple was destroyed, the wise men, and sons of nobles, were put to shame, and they covered their heads; liberal men were reduced to poverty; and men of violence and calumny prevailed; and there were none that expounded, or inquired, or asked. R. Elezer the great, said, from the time the sanctuary were destroyed, the wise men began to be like Scribes, and the Scribes like to the Chazans, (or sextons that looked after the synagogues,) and the Chazans like to the common people, and the common people grew worse and worse, and there were none that inquired and asked;

that is, of the wise men there were no scholars, or very few that studied in the law,

(g) Misn. Sotah, c. 9. sect. 15.

{6} Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

(6) Everlasting damnation will be the end of the security of the wicked, and everlasting bliss for the miseries of the godly.

Matthew 24:29. Here follows the second portion of the reply of Jesus, in which He intimates what events, following at once on the destruction of Jerusalem, are immediately to precede His second coming (Matthew 24:29-33); mentioning at the same time, that however near and certain this latter may be, yet the day and hour of its occurrence cannot be determined, and that it will break unexpectedly upon the world (Matthew 24:34-41); this should certainly awaken men to watchfulness and preparedness (Matthew 24:42-51), to which end the two parables, Matthew 25:1-30, are intended to contribute. The discourse then concludes with a description of the final judgment over which the coming one is to preside (Matthew 25:31-46).

εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τ. θλίψιν τῶν ἡμερ. ἐκ.] but immediately after the distress of those days, immediately after the last (τὸ τέλος) of the series of Messianic woes described from Matthew 24:15 onwards, and the first of which is to be coincident with the destruction of the temple. For τῶν ἡμερ. ἐκείνων, comp. Matthew 24:19; Matthew 24:22; and for θλίψιν, Matthew 24:21. Ebrard’s explanation of this passage falls to the ground with his erroneous interpretation of Matthew 24:23-24, that explanation being as follows: immediately after the unhappy condition of the church (Matthew 24:23-28), a condition which is to continue after the destruction of Jerusalem,—it being assumed that the εὐθέως involves the meaning: “nullis aliis intercedentibus indiciis.” It may be observed generally, that a whole host of strange and fanciful interpretations have been given here, in consequence of its having been assumed that Jesus could not possibly have intended to say that His second advent was to follow immediately upon the destruction of Jerusalem. This assumption, however, is contrary to all exegetical rule, considering that Jesus repeatedly makes reference elsewhere (see also Matthew 24:34) to His second coming as an event that is near at hand. Among those interpretations may also be classed that of Schott (following such earlier expositors as Hammond and others, who had already taken εὐθέως in the sense of suddenly), who says that Matthew had written פִּתְאֹם, subito, but that the translator (like the Sept. in the case of Job 5:3) had rendered the expression “minus accurate” by εὐθέως. This is certainly a wonderful supposition, for the simple reason that the פתאם itself would be a wonderful expression to use if an interval of a thousand years was to intervene. Bengel has contributed to promote this view by his observation that: “Nondum erat tempus revelandi totam seriem rerum futurarum a vastatione Hieros. usque ad consummationem seculi,” and by his paraphrase of the passage: “De iis, quae post pressuram dierum illorum, delendae urbis Jerusalem, evenient proximum, quod in praesenti pro mea conditione commemorandum et pro vestra capacitate expectandum venit, hoc est, quod sol obscurabitur,” etc. Many others, as Wetstein, for example, have been enabled to dispense with gratuitous assumptions of this sort by understanding Matthew 24:29 ff. to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, which is supposed to be described therein in the language of prophetic imagery (Kuinoel), and they so understand the verse in spite of the destruction already introduced at Matthew 24:15. In this, however, they escape Scylla only to be drawn into Charybdis, and are compelled to have recourse to expedients of a still more hazardous kind in order to explain away the literal advent,[18] which is depicted in language as clear as it is sublime. And yet E. J. Meyer again interprets Matthew 24:29-34 of the destruction of Jerusalem, and in such a way as to make it appear that the prediction regarding the final advent is not introduced till Matthew 24:35. But this view is at once precluded by the fact that in Matthew 24:35 ὁ οὐρανὸς κ. ἡ γῆ παρελεύσεται cannot be regarded as the leading idea, the theme of what follows, but only as a subsidiary thought (v. 18) by way of background for the words οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρέλθ. immediately after (observe, Christ does not say οἱ γὰρ λόγοι, κ.τ.λ., but οἱ δὲ λόγοι, κ.τ.λ.). Hoelemann, Cremer, Auberlen are right in their interpretation of εὐθέως, but wrong in regarding the time of the culmination of the heathen power—an idea imported from Luke 21:24—as antecedent to the period indicated by εὐθέως. Just as there are those who seek to dispose of the historical difficulty connected with εὐθέως by twisting the sense of what precedes, and by an importation from Luke 21:24, so Dorner seeks to dispose of it by twisting the sense of what comes after.

ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθ., κ.τ.λ.] Description of the great catastrophe in the heavens which is to precede the second advent of the Messiah. According to Dorner, our passage is intended as a prophetical delineation of the fall of heathenism, which would follow immediately upon the overthrow of Judaism; and, accordingly, he sees in the mention of the sun, moon, and stars an allusion to the nature-worship of the heathen world, an idea, however, which is refuted at once by Matthew 24:34; see E. J. Meyer, p. 125 ff.; Bleek, p. 356; Hofmann, p. 636; Gess, p. 136. Ewald correctly interprets: “While the whole world is being convulsed (Matthew 24:29, after Joel 3:3 f.; Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 24:21), the heaven-sent Messiah appears in His glory (according to Daniel 7:13) to judge,” etc.

οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται, κ.τ.λ.] Comp. Isaiah 34:4. To be understood literally, but not as illustrative of sad times (Hengstenberg on the Revelation; Gerlach, letzte Dinge, p. 102); and yet not in the sense of falling-stars (Fritzsche, Kuinoel), but as meaning: the whole of the stars together. Similarly in the passage in Isaiah just referred to, in accordance with the ancient idea that heaven was a firmament in which the stars were set for the purpose of giving light to the earth (Genesis 1:14). The falling of the stars (which is not to be diluted, with Bengel, Paulus, Schott, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Cremer, following the Greek Fathers, so as to mean a mere obscuration) to the earth—which, in accordance with the cosmical views of the time, is the plain and natural sense of εἰς τὴν γῆν (see Revelation 6:13)—is, no doubt, impossible as an actual fact, but it need not surprise us to see such an idea introduced into a prophetic picture so grandly poetical as this is,—a picture which it is scarcely fair to measure by the astronomical conceptions of our own day.

αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθ.] is usually explained of the starry hosts (Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 40:26; Psalm 33:6; Deuteronomy 4:19; 2 Kings 17:16, etc.), which, coming as it does after οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται, would introduce a tautological feature into the picture. The words should therefore be taken in a general sense: the powers of the heavens (the powers which uphold the heavens, which stretch them out, and produce the phenomena which take place in them, etc.) will be so shaken as to lose their usual stability. Comp. Job 26:11. The interpretation of Olshausen, who follows Jerome, Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus, in supposing that the trembling in the world of angels is referred to (Luke 2:13), is inconsistent not merely with σαλευθής., but also with the whole connection which refers to the domain of physical things. For the plural τῶν οὐρανῶν, comp. Sir 16:16.

This convulsion in the heavens, previous to the Messiah’s descent therefrom, is not as yet to be regarded as the end of the world, but only as a prelude to it; the earth is not destroyed as yet by the celestial commotion referred to (Matthew 24:30). The poetical character of the picture does not justify us in regarding the thing so vividly depicted as also belonging merely to the domain of poetry,—all the less that, in the present case, it is not political revolutions (Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 34:4; Ezekiel 32:7 f.; Joel 3:3 f.) that are in view, but the new birth of the world, and the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom.

[18] Comp. the Old Testament prophecies respecting the day of the coming of Jehovah, Isaiah 13:9Matthew 24:29-31. The coming of the Son of Man (Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-28).—Thus far the eschatological discourse has been found to bear on the predicted tragic end of Jerusalem. At this point the παρουσία, which, according to the evangelist, was one of the subjects on which the disciples desired information, becomes the theme of discourse. What is said thereon is so perplexing as to tempt a modern expositor to wish it had not been there, or to have recourse to critical expedients to eliminate it from the text. But nothing would be gained by that unless we got rid, at the same time, of other sayings of kindred character ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels. And there seems to be no reason to doubt that some such utterance would form a part of the eschatological discourse, even if the disciples did not ask instruction on the subject. The revelation as to the last days of Israel naturally led up to it, and the best clue to the meaning of the Parusia-logion may be to regard it as a pendant to that revelation.

29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days] i. e. the tribulation which shall precede the second advent of Christ.

shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light] Such figurative language is frequent with the Hebrew prophets; it implies (1) the perplexity and confusion of a sudden revolution, a great change; the very sources of light become darkness. Cp. Isaiah 13:10, “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine;” and (2) the darkness of distress as Ezekiel 32:7-8, “All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God.”

Matthew 24:29. Εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλίψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων, κ.τ.λ., but immediately after the affliction of those days, etc.) There are four things to be observed in this passage. (1) Our Lord speaks of the sun being literally darkened, etc. And this phrase frequently occurs in the prophets, concerning the destruction of a nation, and in such cases has a much more literal force than is generally supposed, for where there is a great destruction of men, the beholders of the sun are reduced to a small number; but much more in the present passage has it a literal force, for the whole of our Lord’s language on this occasion is strictly literal; therefore this verse must be also understood literally. (2) The tribulation indicated will be that of the Jewish people, and that for one generation, (3) It is not said, after that tribulation, nor after those days, but after the tribulation of those days, as in Mark 13:24.—ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις μετὰ τὴν θλίψιν ἐκείνην, in those days, after that tribulation. The term, “those days,” refers to Matthew 24:22; Matthew 24:19; and it is indicated that the tribulation will not be long, but brief in duration; Matthew 24:21-22; Matthew 24:34. (4) The expression, εὐθέως, quickly (cito), implies a very short delay, since οὔπω, not yet (Matthew 24:6) i.e., οὐκ εὐθέως, not quickly (Luke 21:9), is said of the short delay which must precede that tribulation; nay, the passage already cited from St Mark excludes delay altogether. The Engl. Vers. has “immediately.” You will say, it is a great leap from the destruction of Jerusalem to the end of the world, which is represented as coming quickly after it. I reply—A prophecy resembles a landscape painting, which marks distinctly the houses, paths, and bridges in the foreground, but brings together, into a narrow space, the distant valleys and mountains, though they are really far apart. Thus should they who study a prophecy look on the future to which the prophecy refers. And the eyes of the disciples, who had combined in their question the end of the temple and of the world, are left somewhat veiled (for it was not yet the time for knowing; see Matthew 24:36), from which cause, imitating our Lord’s language, they with universal consent declared that the end was near at hand. In their progress, however, both prophecy and contemplation (prospectus)[1051] more and more explain things further distant. In which manner also we ought to interpret what is obscure by what is clear, not what is clear by what is obscure, and to venerate in its dark sayings that Divine wisdom which always sees all things, but does not reveal all things at once. Afterwards it was revealed that Antichrist should come before the end of the world; and again Paul joined these two rather nearly together, until the Apocalypse also placed an interval of a thousand years between them. The advent of our Lord, however, actually took place (as far as its commencement was concerned; see Gnomon on John 21:22) after the destruction of Jerusalem, and presently, too, inasmuch as no intermediate event was to be mentioned in the present passage; cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 3:1. The particle ἑυθεως (quickly or immediately) refers to this advent, not absolutely to the darkening of the sun and moon, for that accords with the extent of our Lord’s meaning; so that the meaning is “soon after the tribulation of those days, it will come to pass that the sun shall be darkened,” etc. A similar connection of an adverb[1052] with a verb occurs in Genesis 2:17; in the day on which thou shalt eat thereof, it will come to pass that thou shalt die the death; see also Gnomon on ch. Matthew 26:64, and Luke 1:48. The expression may also be referred to the mode of speech, so as to mean after that affliction (which the plan of this discourse, and the point of view from which this time is regarded, permit to be subjoined immediately, provided it be indicated that the other things will intervene) the sun shall be darkened, etc. It frequently occurs that adverbs, as in this passage, εὐθεώς, immediately, do not qualify the thing itself, but the language in which it is expressed. Thus, in Mark 7:9, the adverb ΚΑΛῶς, well, and the verb ἀθετεῖτε, ye abolish [Engl. Vers., ye reject], are joined with [a part of] the verb to say [viz. it may be said that], understood: thus, too, in Hebrews 1:6, the adverb πάλιν, again, is joined with the verb ΛΈΓΕΙ, He saith. In fine, St Luke (Luke 21:24-25) separates the signs in the sun, etc. [from that tribulation] by a greater interval. Some explain εὐθέως as denoting, not the shortness of the interval, but the suddenness of the event after long intervening periods. We must, however, keep to our first interpretation, so indeed that the particle εὐθέως be understood to comprehend the whole space between the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the end of the world. On such passages there rests, as St Antony used to term it, a prophetical cloudlet. It was not yet the fit time for revealing the whole series of events from the destruction of Jerusalem down to the end of the world. The following is a paraphrase of our Lord’s words, “Concerning those things which will happen after the tribulation of those days of the destruction of Jerusalem, THE NEAREST EVENT which at present it suits My condition to mention, and your capacity to expect, is this, that the sun will be darkened,” etc. Furthermore, it does not follow from this that the expression, ΜΕΤᾺ ΤΑῦΤΑ, after these things, should be understood loosely in Revelation 4:1. Where quickness is presupposed from Revelation 1:1. Such formulæ are to be understood according to the analogy of the passages where they occur.—ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται, the sun shall be darkened) This must be taken literally, of a calamity different from those which have been described before. In the Old Testament, such expressions are used metaphorically, the figure being derived from that which will literally happen at the end of the world.—Ἡ ΣΕΛΉΝΗ Οὐ ΔΏΣΕΙ ΤῸ ΦΈΓΓΟς ΑὐΤῆς, the moon shall not give her light) sc. as she is wont to do both when filling and waning. According to the course of nature, the sun and moon are eclipsed at different times: then, however, they will both be eclipsed at once.—ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐπανοῦ, from heaven) It is not said upon the earth; cf. in Mark 13:25.—ἐκπίπτοντες, falling out. They shall be as though they were not, sc. without light.—ΔΥΝΆΜΕΙς, powers) sc. those firm interchained and subtle powers of heaven[1053] (distinct from the stars) which are accustomed to influence the earth. They are thus denominated by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.—σαλευθήσονται, shall be shaken) an appropriate metaphor from the waves of the sea.[1054]

[1051] Looking further forward, as in the landscape already alluded to, wherein at first sight all the parts might seem projected into the one plane. But the eye, which has gradually come to discern perspective, and to substitute, by the judgment, causes for the visible effects, learns to look further, and to separate by wide distances the foreground and background of the picture.—ED.

[1052] Sc. בְּיו̇ם on the day that.—(I. B.)

[1053] Proverbs 8:27.—E. B.

[1054] Revelation 6:14.—E. B.

Verse 29. - Immediately (εὐθέως δὲ, but immediately) after the tribulation of those days. The particle must not be disregarded, as it implies a caution with respect to the parousia. The Lord proceeds to announce some details of the final advent. Taking the tribulation to be the single fact of the ruin of Jerusalem, with its accompanying horrors, some have explained the Lord's word "immediately after" by the foreshortening process of prophecy, which makes the distant future seem close to the obtruding present, or by the consideration that in God's view time does not exist: "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). But the truth is, the tribulation (ver. 21) only began with the fall of Jerusalem; that was its first and partial fulfilment; and, am St. Luke implies (Luke 21:23, 24), it has been going on ever since, and is not yet finished. The punishment of the Jews is still proceeding, Jerusalem is still trodden down by the Gentiles, wrath still lies upon the people, they are still dispersed over the world, and have been and are more or leas persecuted in many countries. This state of things is to continue "till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled;" it is, then, "immediately after" this that the signs announced by the Lord shall be seen. He is, as we said above (see on ver. 4), purposely indefinite, that the Church may learn to wait and watch for the return of the Saviour and Judge. This state of expectatation is to be its normal condition. It had its effect on the primitive Church before she Jewish catastrophe. St. Peter (Acts 3:19-21) tells of the times of refreshing, when Jesus shall come, as possibly close at hand; St. Paul more than once speaks in the same strain (1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 1:6, etc.), though he warns his converts not to omit ordinary duties in immediate expectation of the end (2 Thessalonians 2:2); St. James (James 5:9) tells of the Judge standing before the door. And since then often has this belief cropped up at various stages of the world's history, showing that Christ's warning has sunk deep into Christian hearts, and produced the temper of mind which he purposed to raise. Shall the sun be darkened, etc. There is no valid reason why the physical phenomena mentioned in this verso are not to be taken literally, even if we see also in them a spiritual significance. It is only reasonable to expect that the end of this world should be accompanied by stupendous changes in the realm of nature. The sun was miraculously darkened when Jesus hung on the cross. What wonder if similar catastrophes signal his coming to judgment? The apostle's words point to a literal fulfilment (2 Peter 3:10, 12). Our Lord's prediction echoes announcements often found in the Old Testament, which are not always to be considered metaphorical (see Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:30, 31; Joel 3:15, 16; Amos 8:9). Anticipations of some of these terrible latter day signs occurred at Jerusalem, according to Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 6:05.3,4). Darkened... not give light. This is in accordance with Hebrew parallelism. The next clause is constructed in the same way. Fall from heaven. The Lord may be speaking of the apparent effect of these convulsions of nature, in accordance with popular ideas, as we talk of the sun rising and setting; or he may thus term the obscuration or extinction of the light of the stars. The powers of the heavens mean probably the heavenly bodies independent of the solar system, called elsewhere "the host of heaven" (Deuteronomy 4:19. etc.); or the phrase may signify (though the parallelism would not be so perfect) the forces and laws which control these bodies. An interruption in the action of these powers would occasion the most awful catastrophes (see Haggai 3:6, which makes a similar announcement). We must notice the spiritual application of this prediction, as it has obtained a wide acceptance. The words are sometimes taken in a bad sense. The sun is Satan, or Lucifer, who fell as lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18); "the powers of the heavens" are the hosts of the prince of the power of the air, "the spiritual wickednesses in high places;" the stars are all that exalt themselves, who shall be consumed and vanish at the brightness of the cross. But more generally the luminaries are explained in a good sense. The sun is Christ or his truth, which shall be obscured in the last days; the moon is the Church, darkened by heresy and unbelief, and borrowing no light from its sun; the stars are they who once were foremost in the faith, but now shall fall from their steadfastness, or be unable to diffuse light, owing to the gross darkness and mistiness of those evil days. Matthew 24:29
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