Matthew 24:30
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(30) Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man.—Can we picture to ourselves what this sign shall be? Is it distinct from the coming of the Son of Man which here is so closely united with it? Men have given wildly conjectural answers to these questions, and have dreamt of the cross as appearing in the sky (as if the vision of Constantine were to be reproduced in the last days), or the lightning flash that shall dazzle all men with its brightness, or of some visible manifestation which none can imagine till it shall come. The vision of Daniel 7:13 supplies, it is believed, the true answer. The sign of the Son of Man is none other than the presence of the Son of Man Himself, coming in the clouds of heaven, in the ineffable glory of His majesty. And here, too, we must remember that we are still in the region of apocalyptic symbols. All such imagery falls short of the ultimate reality, and a “sign in heaven” is something more than a visible appearance in the sky.

Then shall all the tribes of the earth.—It lies in the nature of the case, that the “tribes” are those who have done evil, and who therefore dread the coming of the Judge. The words find their best comment in Revelation 1:7, where St. John combines them freely with the prediction of Zechariah 12:10, “They also which pierced Him,” obviously including not only those who were sharers in the actual “piercing” of the crucified body of the Lord Jesus (John 19:37), but all who in any age “crucify the Son of God afresh” (Hebrews 6:6).

Matthew 24:30-31. Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven — Christ proceeds here in the same figurative style, and the plain meaning of his words is, that the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish state, civil and religious, would be such a remarkable instance of divine vengeance, and such a signal manifestation of Christ’s power and glory, that all the Jewish tribes should mourn, and many should be led from thence to acknowledge him for the true Messiah. To explain this further it may be observed, “The sign from heaven, which both the disciples and Pharisees expected, was some visible appearance of the Messiah in the clouds, and some miraculous interposition of his power, by which the Romans, the masters of the world, were to be destroyed, and a universal empire over all nations erected in behalf of the Jews. This sign they were led to expect, because Daniel had said prophetically, of the Son of man, (Daniel 7:13,) that he saw him coming in the clouds of heaven, and that there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, &c. Nevertheless, by the coming of the Son of man in the clouds, Daniel meant his interposing for the destruction of his enemies, particularly the unbelieving Jews; and the erection of his own kingdom over all nations; a spiritual kingdom, a new dispensation of religion, which should comprehend the whole world within its pale. Therefore, to show the disciples that they had mistaken the prophecy, which referred wholly to the destruction of Jerusalem, and to the conversion of the Gentiles, he adopted it into his prediction of these events, and thereby settled its true meaning.” — Macknight. The figurative expression, Coming in the clouds of heaven, in several other passages of Scripture, signifies God’s interposing evidently and irresistibly, to execute vengeance on a wicked generation, and to assert his own government over the world. See 2 Samuel 22:10-12; Psalm 97:2; Isaiah 19:1. He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, &c. — This also is in the style of the prophets, and, stripped of its figures, means only that after the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ by his angels, or ministers, going forth with their powerful preaching, termed here the great sound of a trumpet, should gather to himself a glorious church, out of all the nations under heaven: that the Jews being thrust out, as he expresses it, Luke 13:28, &c., believers should come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and should sit down in the kingdom, of God. Agreeably to this interpretation, we find the name αγγελους, angels, used of common messengers, James 2:25; and of the ministers of the Asian churches, Revelation 2:3.; of prophets, 2 Chronicles 36:16; and of priests, Malachi 2:7. And the preaching of the messengers of God is compared to the sound of a trumpet, Isaiah 58:1; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 33:3-6. No person, versed at all in ecclesiastical history, needs to be told that the Christian religion spread and prevailed mightily after this period; and that hardly any one thing contributed more to this success of the gospel than the destruction of Jerusalem and the ruin of the Jewish nation, falling out in the very manner and with the very circumstances so particularly foretold by our Lord.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?The sign of the Son of man - The "evidence" that he is coming to destroy the city of Jerusalem. It is not to be denied, however, that this description is applicable also to his coming at the day of judgment. The disciples had asked him Matthew 24:3 what should be the sign of his coming, and "of the end of the world." In his answer he has reference to both events, and his language may be regarded as descriptive of both. At the destruction of Jerusalem, the sign or evidence of his coming was found in the fulfillment of these predictions. At the end of the world, the sign of his coming will be his personal approach with the glory of his Father and the holy angels, 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Luke 21:27; Matthew 26:64; Acts 1:11.

All the tribes of the earth mourn - That is, either all the "tribes or people" of the land of Judea shall mourn at the great calamities coming upon them, or all the nations of the world shall wail when he comes to judgment. All the wicked shall mourn at the prospect of their doom, Revelation 1:7. The cause of their wailing at the day of judgment will be chiefly that they have pierced, killed, rejected the Saviour, and that they deserve the condemnation that is coming upon them, John 19:37; Zechariah 12:12.

And they shall see the Son of man - The Lord Jesus coming to judgment. Probably this refers more directly to his coming at the last day, though it may also mean that the "evidence" of his coming to destroy Jerusalem will then be seen.

In the clouds of heaven - He ascended in a cloud, Acts 1:9. He shall return in like manner, Acts 1:11. "The clouds of heaven" denote not the clouds in heaven, but the clouds that appear to shut heaven, or the sky, from our view.

With power - Power, manifest in the destruction of Jerusalem, by the wonders that preceded it, and by the overturning of the temple and city. In the day of judgment, power manifest by consuming the material world 2 Peter 3:7, 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12; by raising the dead John 5:29-30; 1 Corinthians 15:52; by changing those who may be alive when he shall come - that is, making their bodies like those who have died, and who have been raised up 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:52; by bringing the affairs of the world to a close, receiving the righteous to heaven Matthew 25:34; 1 Corinthians 15:57, and sending the wicked, however numerous or however strong, down to hell, Matthew 25:41, Matthew 25:46; John 5:29.

Great glory - The word "glory" here means the visible display of honor and majesty. This glory will be manifested by the manner of his coming Matthew 26:64, by the presence of the angels Matthew 25:31, and by the wonders that shall attend him down the sky.

CHAPTER 24

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 24:31". Not the sound of the great trumpet, mentioned in the following verse; nor the clouds of heaven in this; nor the sign of the cross appearing in the air, as it is said to do in the times of Constantine: not the former; for though to blow a trumpet is sometimes to give a sign, and is an alarm; and the feast which the Jews call the day of blowing the trumpets, Numbers 29:1 is, by the Septuagint, rendered , "the day of signification"; yet this sign is not said to be sounded, but to appear, or to be seen, which does not agree with the sounding of a trumpet: much less can this design the last trumpet at the day of judgment, since of that the text does not speak; and, for the same reason, the clouds cannot be meant in which Christ will come to judgment, nor are clouds in themselves any sign of it: nor the latter, of which there is no hint in the word of God, nor any reason to expect it, nor any foundation for it; nor is any miraculous star intended, such as appeared at Christ's first coming, but the son of man himself: just as circumcision is called the sign of circumcision, Romans 4:11 and Christ is sometimes called a sign, Luke 2:34 as is his resurrection from the dead, Matthew 12:39 and here the glory and majesty in which he shall come: and it may be observed, that the other evangelists make no mention of the sign, only speak of the son of man, Mark 13:26 and he shall appear, not in person, but in the power of his wrath and vengeance, on the Jewish nation which will be a full sign and proof of his being come: for the sense is, that when the above calamities shall be upon the civil state of that people, and there will be such changes in their ecclesiastical state it will be as clear a point, that Christ is come in the flesh, and that he is also come in his vengeance on that nation, for their rejection and crucifixion him, as if they had seen him appear in person in the heavens. They had been always seeking a sign, and were continually asking one of him; and now they will have a sign with a witness; as they had accordingly,

And then shall the tribes of the earth, or land,

mourn; that is, the land of Judea; for other lands, and countries, were not usually divided into tribes, as that was; neither were they affected with the calamities and desolations of it, and the vengeance of the son of man upon it; at least not so as to mourn on that account, but rather were glad and rejoiced:

and they shall see the son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. The Arabic version reads it, "ye shall see", as is expressed by Christ, in Matthew 26:64. Where the high priest, chief priests, Scribes, and elders, and the whole sanhedrim of the Jews are spoken to: and as the same persons, namely, the Jews, are meant here as there; so the same coming of the son of man is intended; not his coming at the last day to judgment; though that will be in the clouds of heaven, and with great power and glory; but his coming to bring on, and give the finishing stroke to the destruction of that people, which was a dark and cloudy dispensation to them: and when they felt the power of his arm, might, if not blind and stupid to the last degree, see the glory of his person, that he was more than a mere man, and no other than the Son of God, whom they had despised, rejected, and crucified; and who came to set up his kingdom and glory in a more visible and peculiar manner, among the Gentiles.

And then shall appear the {n} sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the {o} tribes of the earth {p} mourn, and they shall see the Son of man {q} coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

(n) The exceeding glory and majesty, which will bear witness that Christ the Lord of heaven and earth draws near to judge the world.

(o) All nations, and he alludes to the dispersion which we read of in Ge 10-11, or to the dividing of the people of Israel.

(p) They will be in such sorrow, that they will strike themselves: and it is transferred to the mourning.

(q) Sitting upon the clouds, as he was taken up into heaven.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 24:30. Καὶ τότε] and then, when what is intimated at Matthew 24:29 shall have arrived.

φανήσεται] universally, and so not visible merely to the elect (Cremer), which would not be in keeping with what follows.

τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τ. ἀνθρ.] accordingly the sign inquired about in Matthew 24:3, that phenomenon, namely, which is immediately to precede the coming Messiah, the Son of man of Daniel 7:13, and which is to indicate that His second advent is now on the point of taking place, which is to be the signal of this latter event. As Jesus does not say what this is to be, it should be left quite indefinite; only this much may be inferred from what is predicted at Matthew 24:29 about the darkening of the heavenly bodies, that it must be of the nature of a manifestation of light, the dawning of the Messianic δόξα which is perhaps to go on increasing in brilliancy and splendour until the Messiah Himself steps forth from the midst of it in the fulness of His glory. There is no foundation for supposing, with Cyril, Hilary, Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome, Erasmus, that the allusion is to a cross appearing in the heavens; with Hebart, that it is to the rending of heaven or the appearing of angels; with Fleck and Olshausen, that it is to the star of the Messiah (Numbers 24:17); similarly Bleek, though rather more by way of conjecture. Following the older expositors, Fritzsche, Ewald, Hengstenberg, R. Hofmann understand the coming Messiah Himself: “miraculum, quod Jesus revertens Messias oculis objiciet” (accordingly, taking τοῦ υἱοῦ τ. ἀνθρ. as a genitive of subject; while Wolf, Storr, Weiss, Bibl. Theol. p. 56, ed. 2, assume it to be a genitive of apposition). This view is inconsistent not only with what follows, where the words καὶ ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν, κ.τ.λ. evidently point to something still farther in the future, and which the σημεῖον serves to introduce, but also with the question of the disciples, Matthew 24:3. R. Hofmann thinks that the reference is to that apparition in the form of a man which is alleged to have stood over the holy of holies for a whole night while the destruction of the capital was going on. A legendary story (chronicled by Ben-Gorion); and it may be added that what is said, vv 29–31, certainly does not refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, after which event Hofmann supposes our evangelist to have written. Lastly, some (Schott, Kuinoel) are even of opinion that σημεῖον does not point to any new and special circumstance at all—to anything beyond what is contained in Matthew 24:29; but the introduction of the sequel by τότε is decidedly against this view.

καὶ τότε] a new point brought forward: and then, when this σημεῖον has been displayed.

κόψονται] Comp. Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7; with what a totally different order of things are they now on the point of being confronted, what a breaking up and subversion of all the previous relationships of life, what a separation of elements hitherto mingled together, and what a deciding of the final destinies of men at the judgment of the old and the ushering in of the new αἰῶν! Hence, being seized with terror and anguish, they will mourn (see on Matthew 11:17). The sorrow of repentance (Dorner, Ewald) is not to be regarded as excluded from this mourning. There is no adequate reason to suppose, with Ewald, that, in the collection of our Lord’s sayings (the λογία), ὄψονται probably occurred twice here, and that it was reserved for the last redactor of those sayings to make a play upon the word by substituting κόψονται.

ἐρχόμενον, κ.τ.λ.] as in Daniel 7:13.

μετὰ δυνάμ. κ. δόξ. πολλ.] This great power and majesty will also be displayed in the accompanying angel-hosts, Matthew 24:31. The πᾶσαι αἱ Φυλαὶ τῆς are not: “omnes familiae Judaeorum” (Kuinoel), as those who explain Matthew 24:29 ff. of the destruction of Jerusalem must understand the words, but: all the tribes of the earth. Comp. Genesis 12:3; Genesis 28:14.Matthew 24:30. καὶ τότε. Amid the general crash what longing would arise in Christian hearts for the presence of the Christ! To this longing the announcement introduced by these words “and then” responds.—τὸ σημεῖον τ. υἱ. τ. . The question what is this sign has greatly perplexed commentators, who make becoming confessions of ignorance. “We must not be positive in conjecturing,” Morison. “What this shall be it is vain to conjecture,” Cambridge N. T. Is the reference not to Daniel 7:13, “one like the Son of Man,” and the meaning: the sign which is the Son of Man, τ. υ. τ. . being genitive of appos.? So Weiss after Storr and Wolf.—(“σημεῖον υἱοῦ, similis est illis quibus profani passim utuntur quando dicunt βία Ἡρακλέος,” i.e., “vis Herculis seu ipse Hercules,” Wolf, Curae Phil.) Christ His own sign, like the lightning or the sun, self-evidencing.—καὶ τότε κόψονται, etc.: a clause not in Mk. and obscure in meaning; why mourn? because they recognise in the coming One their Judge? or because they see in Him one who had been despised and rejected of men, and penitently (taking the sin home to themselves) acknowledge His claims? (“believed on in the world,” 1 Timothy 3:16).—ἐρχόμενονπολλῆς, description of the coming, here as in Matthew 16:27, Matthew 26:64, in terms drawn from Daniel 7:13.30. the sign of the Son of man in heaven] What this shall be it is vain to conjecture, but when it appears its import will be instantly recognised by the faithful.

in the clouds] Translate, on the clouds.Matthew 24:30. Τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the sign of the Son of Man[1055]) This is a more special sign; those which are mentioned in Luke 21:25 precede it, and are more general. The very appellation, “the Son of Man,” agrees with these things (cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 16:13): for the mourning of the tribes of the earth is joined in Revelation 1:7, with their seeing Him in person. Our Lord means therefore to say, “Do not seek for any previous sign;” see Matthew 24:27. He Himself will be His own sign, as in Luke 2:12; and so much the more so, because conjointly with His actual appearance, or a little before it mankind will behold a triumphal procession (pompam) in the clouds: unless indeed a thick darkness, a dazzling glory, the form of the cross, or some star, also appear. Cf. ch. Matthew 2:2. Before this He had been a sign which was spoken against (see Luke 2:34): then He will be a sign manifest to all. A Sign denotes something very remarkable and striking to the eyes, whether it contain the signification of something else, or of itself; see Revelation 12:1. The sun, moon, and stars, having been extinguished, that sign will be visible in the brightness of the Lord, and thence in that of a cloud, and of the clouds.[1056] In short, the sign (cf. Mark 13:26; Mark 13:4) is the triumphal train of the Son of man coming in His glory, who is Himself to be beheld presently after, as this passage tells us—αἱ φυλαὶ, the tribes) especially of Israel.—ὄψονται, shall see) Cf. Numbers 24:17.—ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν, on the clouds) St Luke says, ἐν νεφέλῃ, on a cloud) He will be attended by many chariots;[1057] He will be borne on a very magnificent one.

[1055] Herein is contained a reply to the question proposed at Matthew 24:3.—V. g.

[1056] Bengel’s expression, “nubis ac nubium,” “of a cloud and of the clouds,” evidently refers to Luke 21:27, “Then shall they see the Son of Man coming IN A CLOUD, with power and great glory,” and to the words which occur in the present verse, “they shall see the Son of Man coming IN THE CLOUDS of Heaven with power and great glory.”—(I. B.)

[1057] As is usual in a royal procession.—V. g.Verse 30. - And then; i.e. after the great physical changes mentioned in the last verse. The sign of the Son of man. This has been differently interpreted

(1) as the appearance of Christ himself in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64; Daniel 7:13, 14), when the glory and majesty of his advent will prove that he is Saviour and Judge. But this explanation seems to confuse the sign and that which it represents, the token of Messiah and Messiah himself who cometh afterward. And the definite article, "the sign," seems to imply something already well known to denote him, whereas his appearance could not be known beforehand.

(2) A star, which shall herald his second coming, as a star announced his birth. This, which is Olshausen's suggestion, is entirely arbitrary, and has nothing to support it, especially as the meaning of the star would not be directly intelligible to all men.

(3) Meyer and De Wette suppose a bright light, or a kind of Shechinah. This, which doubtless will be manifested, was indeed a token of the presence of God, but could not be recognized at once as the sign of the Son of man.

(4) We come to what has been the almost universal interpretation of the Fathers and early commentators, who saw in the sign the cross of Christ, which is indeed the ensign and standard of the gospel. Nothing, equally with this, can characterize the Son of man, the emblem of his humiliation and his triumph. Then. When they behold this sign in the sky, and know unmistakably that Christ in person is about to appear. Shall all the tribes of the earth mourn (κόψονται, shall beat the breast). Not alone the Jews, looking on him whom they pierced, shall bewail their blindness and impenitence (Zechariah 12:10-14; Isaiah 53), but all the nations, the races and peoples who have rejected him whom they ought to have received. The cross shows that he died for them, though they profited not by his sacrifice (comp. Revelation 1:7; Revelation 6:15-17). They shall see (ὅψονται,, an echo of the preceding κόψονται). The sign is followed by the advent of Christ in person. Coming in the clouds of heaven. Some have taken "clouds" to mean angels, comparing Matthew 16:27; but them is no need for considering the term here to be metaphorical. The accompaniments of the theophanies are always thus announced (see Psalm 18:10-12; Isaiah 19:1; Daniel 7:13, etc.; Matthew 26:64). He thus claims to be the God of whom these words are continually used, and he leaves his hearers to gather that he will come visibly, not spiritually to individual souls or Churches, but manifestly to the whole of mankind, whether quick or risen. With power. In his full omnipotence. Cum virtute multa (Vulgate). The expression must not be taken as denoting the attendant angels; they are named in the next verse. It denotes that he who on earth met with naught but pain and humiliation should be displayed to the same earth with that splendour and majesty which essentially belonged to him. Mourn (κόψονται).

Stronger: beat their breasts in anguish

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