Matthew 24:36
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
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(36) No, not the angels of heaven.—St. Mark’s addition (Mark 13:32), “neither the Son”—or better, not even the Son—is every way remarkable. Assuming, what is well-nigh certain (see Introduction to St. Mark), the close connection of that Gospel with St. Peter, it is as if the Apostle who heard the discourse desired, for some special reason, to place on record the ipsissima verba of his Master. And that reason may be found in his own teaching. The over-eager expectations of some, and the inevitable reaction of doubt and scorn in others, both rested on their assumption that the Son of Man had definitely fixed the time of His appearing, and on their consequent forgetfulness of the “long-suffering” which might extend a day into a thousand years (2Peter 3:3-8). It is obviously doing violence to the plain meaning of the words to dilute them into the statement that the Son of Man did, not communicate the knowledge which He possessed as the Son of God. If we are perplexed at the mystery of this confession in One in whom we recosniise the presence of “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9), we may find that which may help us at least to wait patiently for the full understanding of the mystery in St. Paul’s teaching, that the eternal Word in becoming flesh, “emptied Himself” (see Note on Philippians 2:7) of the infinity which belongs to the divine attributes, and took upon Him the limitations necessarily incidental to man’s nature, even when untainted by evil and in fullest fellowship, through the Eternal Spirit, with the Father.

Matthew 24:36. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, &c. — I consider ωρα, hour, here, says Grotius, as denoting, not a part of a day, but a larger portion of time. So also Bishop Newton, who observes, “It would seem improper to say, Of that day and hour knoweth no man; for if the day was not known, certainly the hour was not, and it was superfluous to make such an addition. I conceive, therefore, that the passage should be rendered, Of that day and season knoweth no man, as the word is frequently used in the best authors, both sacred and profane. It is true, our Saviour declares, ‘All these things shall be fulfilled in this generation;’ it is true also, the Prophet Daniel hath given some intimation of the time in his famous prophecy of the 70 weeks; but though this great revolution was to happen toward the conclusion of 70 weeks, or 490 years, to be computed from a certain date that is not easy to be fixed; yet the particular day, the particular season in which it was to happen, might still remain a secret to men and angels: and our Lord had before, (Matthew 24:20,) advised his disciples to pray, that their flight might not be in the winter, nor on the sabbath day; the day not being known, they were to pray that their flight might not be on the sabbath day; the season not being known, they were to pray that it might not be in the winter.”

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?But of that day and hour - Of the precise time of the fulfillment. The "general signs" of its approach have been given, as the budding of the fig-tree is a certain indication that summer is near; but "the precise time" is not indicated by these things. One part of their inquiry was Matthew 24:3 when those things should be. He now replies to them by saying that the precise time would not be foretold. Compare the notes at Acts 1:7.

Knoweth no man, no, not the angels - See the notes at Mark 13:32.


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 addeth, Mark 13:32, neither the Son, but the Father. Of that day and hour, that is, the particular time when the heavens and the earth shall pass away, as he had before said, or when the end of the world shall be, which was one of the questions propounded to him by his disciples, Matthew 24:3.

Knoweth no man, no mere man, nor have men any reason to be troubled at it; for it is a piece of knowledge which the Father hath reserved in his own power, and his own pleasure, from the angels, who continually behold his face. Nay, I myself, as man, know it not. Nor is it more absurd, or derogating from the perfection of Christ, than for to say, that Christ, as man, was not omnipotent, or omniscient, &c. By the way, this gives a great check to the curiosity of men’s inquiries after the particular time or year when the world shall have an end, or the day of judgment begin, or be.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man,.... Which is to be understood, not of the second coming of Christ, the end of the world, and the last judgment; but of the coming of the son of man, to take vengeance on the Jews, and of their destruction; for the words manifestly regard the date of the several things going before, which only can be applied to that catastrophe, and dreadful desolation: now, though the destruction itself was spoken of by Moses and the prophets, was foretold by Christ, and the believing Jews had some discerning of its near approach; see Hebrews 10:25 yet the exact and precise time was not known: it might have been: calculated to a year by Daniel's weeks, but not to the day and hour; and therefore our Lord does not say of the year, but of the day and hour no man knows; though the one week, or seven years, being separated from the rest, throws that account into some perplexity; and which perhaps is on purpose done, to conceal the precise time of Jerusalem's destruction: nor need it be wondered at, notwithstanding all the hints given, that the fatal day should not be exactly known beforehand; when those who have lived since, and were eyewitnesses of it, are not agreed on what day of the month it was; for, as Dr. Lightfoot (i) observes, Josephus (k) says,

"that the temple perished the "tenth" day of "Lous", a day fatal to the temple, as having been on that day consumed in flames, by the king of Babylon.

And yet Rabbi Jochanan ben Zaccai, who was also at the destruction of it, as well as Josephus, with all the Jewish writers, say it was on the "ninth of Ab"; for of this day they (l) say, five things happened upon it:

"On the "ninth of Ab" it was decreed concerning our fathers, that they should not enter into the land (of Canaan), the first and second temple were destroyed, Bither was taken, and the city ploughed up.

Though the words of R. Jochanan, cited by the doctor, refer to the first, and not to the second temple, and should have been rendered thus:

"If I had been in the generation (which fixed the fast for the destruction of the first temple), I would not have fixed it but on the tenth (of Ab); for, adds he, the greatest part of the temple was burnt on that day; but the Rabbins rather regarded the beginning of the punishment (m).

And so the fasting of Rabbi, and R. Joshua ben Levi, on the "ninth" and "tenth" days, were on account of the first temple; for they were under the same difficulty about the one, as the other:

no, not the angels of heaven; who dwell there, always behold the face of God, stand in his presence ready to do his will, and are made acquainted with many of his designs, and are employed in the executing of them, and yet know not the time of God's vengeance on the Jews; to this agrees the sense that is given of the day of vengeance in Isaiah 63:4 it is asked (n),

"what is the meaning of these words, "the day of vengeance is in my heart?" Says R. Jochanan, to my heart I have revealed it, to the members I have not revealed it: says R. Simeon ben Lakish, to my heart I have revealed it, , "to the ministering angels I have not revealed it".

The Ethiopic version adds here, "nor the son", and so the Cambridge copy of Beza's; which seems to be transcribed from Mark 13:32 where that phrase stands; and must be understood of Christ as the son of man, and not as the Son of God; for as such, he lay in the bosom of the Father, and knew all his purposes and designs; for these were purposed in him: he knew from the beginning who would betray him, and who would believe in him; he knew what would befall the rejecters of him, and when that would come to pass; as he must know also the day of the last judgment, since it is appointed by God, and he is ordained to execute it: but the sense is, that as he, as man and mediator, came not to destroy, but to save; so it was not any part of his work, as such, to know, nor had he it in commission to make known the time of Jerusalem's ruin:

but my Father only; to the exclusion of all creatures, angels and men; but not to the exclusion of Christ as God, who, as such, is omniscient; nor of the Holy Spirit, who is acquainted with the deep things of God, the secrets of his heart, and this among others,

(i) In Mark 13.32. (k) De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 26. (l) Misu. Taanith, c. 4. sect. 7. T. Hieros. Taanioth, fol. 68. 3. & Maimon. Hilch. Taanioth, c. 5. sect. 2.((m) T. Bab, Taanith, fol. 29. 1.((n) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.

{9} But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

(9) It is sufficient for us to know that God has appointed a latter day for the restoring of all things; but when it will be is hidden from us all for our sake, so that we may be all the more watchful, so that we are not taken as those were taken in the flood years ago.

Matthew 24:36. The affirmation of Matthew 24:34, however, does not exclude the fact that no one knows the day and hour when the second advent, with its accompanying phenomena, is to take place. It is to occur during the lifetime of the generation then existing, but no one knows on what day or at what hours within the period thus indicated. Accordingly it is impossible to tell you anything more precise in regard to this than what is stated at Matthew 24:34.

εἰ μὴ ὁ πατ. μου μόνος] This reservation on the part of the Father excludes even the incarnate Son (Mark 13:32). The limitation implied in our passage as regards the human side of our Lord’s nature is to be viewed in the same light as that implied in Matthew 20:23. See, besides, on Mark 13:32.

Matthew 24:36. περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης καὶ τῆς ὥρας, of that day and hour. The reference is to the coming of the Son of Man, the expression throughout the N. T. having the value of an “indisputable fixed terminus technicus,” Weiffenbach, Wiederkunftsgedanke, p. 157.—οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, no one knows, a statement made more emphatic by application to the angels of heaven, and even to the Son (οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός). The meaning is not that Jesus disclaims even for Himself knowledge of the precise day, month, or year of what in Matthew 24:34 He has declared will happen within the present generation; whether, e.g., the crisis of the war would be in 69 or 70 A.D. That is too trivial a matter to be the subject of so solemn a declaration. It is an intimation that all statements as to the time of the παρουσία must be taken in a qualified sense as referring to a subject on which certain knowledge is not attainable or even desirable. It looks like Jesus correcting Himself, or using two ways of speaking, one for comfort (it will be soon), and one for caution (it may not be so soon as even I think or you expect). His whole manner of speaking concerning the second advent seems to have two faces; providing on the one hand for the possibility of a Christian era, and on the other for an accelerated Parusia.

36–End of Ch. 25. Parables and Teachings concerning the Second Advent

36–51. The Coming of Christ; the Need of Watchfulness

More briefly reported in Mark 13:32-37; Luke 21:34-36.

36. But of that day and hour] the Day of Judgment. The discourse turns from the type—the fall of Jerusalem—to the antitype—the Day of Judgment, and continues on this subject to the end of the following chapter.

Matthew 24:36. Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης, but of that day) The Lord shows the time of the temple and the city in Matthew 24:32-34; He denies in this verse that the day and hour of the world are known. The particle δὲ, but, implies a contrast: the pronouns ταῦτα, these, αὕτη, this, refer to events close at hand; the pronoun ἐκείνης, that, to that which is distant. If, however, the former time is defined with some latitude, THAT DAY and hour is much less definitely indicated here: and yet He does not speak of the day and hour without cause. A day is a whole; an hour is a part. The day is not necessarily unknown because the hour is: the time taken with somewhat greater latitude is not necessarily unknown because the day is. And that which was unknown when this discourse was delivered, might be revealed after the Ascension of the Lord and the Apocalypse given to St John; and as the sand by degrees glides away in the hour-glass of time,[1063] it may be known more nearly. Otherwise, the last day and the last hour would not even then be known when it actually arrives. Our Lord goes on to speak of the day in Matthew 24:37-38, of the hour in Matthew 24:42-43, and of both in Matthew 24:50.—ἄγγελοι, angels) whose knowledge is otherwise great.—τῶν οὐρανῶν, of the heavens) The plural number.

[1063] In the original, “clepsydra sensim elabente.” The ancients measured time in the hour-glass, not by sand, but by water. I have given the corresponding idiom.—(I. B.)

Verse 36. - The apostles had asked (ver. 3), "When shall these things be?" Christ does not now expressly answer this question; he puts forth strongly the uncertainty in the knowledge of these great events, and how this ignorance is disciplinary. Of that day (de die illa, Vulgate) and hour, viz. when Christ shall appear in judgment, The expression plainly, implies that a definite day and moment are fixed for this great appearing, but known only to God. Knoweth no man, no, not (οὐδὲ, not even) the angels of heaven. A kind of climax. Man is naturally excluded from the knowledge; but even to the angels it has not been revealed. A further climax is added in St. Mark, and from that Gospel has been introduced by some very good manuscripts into this place, neither the Son (the Revised Version admits the clause). The words have given occasion to some erroneous statements. It is said by Arians and semi-Arians, and modern disputants who have followed in their steps, that the Son cannot be equal to the Father, if he knows not what the Father knows. Alford says boldly, "This matter was hidden from him." But when we consider such passages as "I and my Father are one;" "I am in the Father, and the Father in me" (John 10:30; John 14:11, etc.), we cannot believe that the time of the great consummation was unknown to him. What is meant, then, by this assertion? How is it true? Doubtless it is to be explained (if capable of explanation) by the hypostatic union of two natures in the Person of Christ, whereby the properties of the two natures are interchangeably predicated. From danger of error on this mysterious subject we are preserved by the precise terms of the Athanasian Creed, according to which we affirm that Christ is "equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood ... one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of Person," etc. If, then, Christ asserts that he is ignorant of anything, it must be that in his human nature he hath, willed not to know that which in his Divine nature he was cognizant cf. This is a part of that voluntary self-surrender and self-limitation of which the apostle speaks when he says that Christ "emptied himself" (Philippians 2:7). He condescended to assume all the conditions of humanity, even willing to share the imperfection of our knowledge in some particulars. How the two natures thus interworked we know not, and need not conjecture; nor can we always divine why prominence at one time is given to the Divine, at another to the human. It is enough for us to know that, for reasons which seemed good unto him, he imposed restriction on his omniscience in this matter, and, to enhance the mysteriousness and awfulness of the great day, announced to his disciples his ignorance of the precise moment of its occurrence. This is a safer exposition than to say, with some, that Christ knew not the day so as to reveal it to us, that it was no part of his mission from the Father to divulge it to men, and therefore that he could truly say he knew it not. This seems rather an evasion than an explanation of the difficulty. But my Father only. The best manuscripts have "the Father." "But" is εἰ μὴ, except. So Christ said to his inquiring apostles, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts 1:7). These words do not exclude the Son's participation in the knowledge, though he willed that it should not extend to his human nature. With this and such-like texts in view, how futile, presumptuous, and indeed profane, it is to attempt to settle the exact date and hour when the present age shall end!" Matthew 24:36
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