OUTLINE STUDY: MATTHEW CHAPTER 24
To me this is the finest and fairest outline of Matthew chapter 24 I have ever seen. Christ is answering the questions of (4 of) His disciples (Mark 13:3) regarding the timing of events. This outline pays attention to TIME WORDS used by the Lord Jesus.
The rapture is NOT predicted in this chapter. The churches being made up of Jews and Gentiles was hidden to the disciples at the time Jesus spoke these words. (At the time Jesus spoke to the disciples the church was totally Jewish). Paul spoke of this mystery: “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel,” (Ephesians 3:4-6). Also the disciples were ignorant of the rapture for Paul said that the knowledge of this was revealed to him and was previously a “mystery” - a thing not previously revealed: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound,” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Again: a mystery is not something hard to understand – it is something that had not hitherto been revealed but was then revealed. Jesus is explaining future events to men who had no knowledge of a rapture. Their questions reveal this as do the words of the Lord Himself.
(This is not my outline). Matthew chapter 24 as it relates to both the rapture and to Israel
Part One: Matthew 24:1-8
Part One: Matthew 24:1-8
INTRODUCTION: Our approach to Matthew chapter twenty-four is important as it is to all Scripture. To some folk this is a very difficult passage to understand. Sometimes we make Bible passages difficult by approaching them with preconceived ideas and try to force our ideas upon the text. In this outline study we hope to let the Book say what it says!
The outline presented here is the most natural one I have ever seen. Its divisions – and this is most important - are those same divisions that the Lord indicated by His use of time words. We shall point out those time words as we come to them. Christ's words were spoken in answer to the questions of at least four of His disciples. While our text simply says that His disciples asked the Lord these questions, Mark 13:3 says “Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately.”
These disciples asked the Lord Jesus at least two questions, perhaps three. Matthew records: “...when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (v. 3). Question number one is, “when shall these things be?” Some make question number two to be “what shall be the sign of thy coming?” and say there is a third question: i.e. what shall be the sign of “the end of the world?” It seems to me that the disciples understood that Christ's “coming” would bring “the end of the world” and so it seems there are only two questions. Whether two or three matters little as shall be shown.
As to the word translated “world” here. There are a number of Greek words translated “world” in our King James Bibles. “Chronos” is one and has reference to time. We get our word chronological and other words related to time from this Greek word. Another word often translated “world” in the New Testament is “cosmos” which can be defined as an orderly arrangement. But the Greek word used by Matthew in verse 3 is “aion.” We get our word aeon from it. One dictionary definition for aeon is “an indefinitely long period of time.” Since the Record says that the disciples asked about the end of the “aion” or aeon they are not asking about the end of creation, but about the end of this present age. (The Bible never speaks of “time” in the sense of “time versus eternity” as we sometimes do. In Revelation 10:6 the word “time” has the sense of “delay.”) And it seems clear that the disciples understood that at Christ's return this present age would end and would be replaced with a glorious one.
The other important thing to note is that the Lord Jesus ignored the first question put to Him by the disciples: “...when shall these things be?” He did not tell them in fifty years or in seventy years or in two-thousand years. He did not mention a specific time at all. But He did answer their second question which was twofold: “and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” His answer dealt with signs: visible, observable signs in nature and having to do with governments and men.
Another thing to be noted is this: this chapter and its signs have nothing to do with the Lord's churches and His coming for them. The rapture of the bride and her wedding party can be placed in this chapter, but the coming spoken of here is not that event. This chapter is not about signs that precede the rapture. There are no signs given in the Bible that must occur before the rapture! The Lord's churches do exist during part of the time spoken of by the Lord, but they are not central to His words. Christ was a Jew, was in Jerusalem with His Jewish disciples speaking of the temple buildings and the things that would take place there and around the world in relation to the nation Israel. The disciples and the Lord were seated across the valley from the temple and were viewing the buildings of the temple (v. 1). Jesus had just announced that the temple at Jerusalem is now desolate saying, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,” (Matthew 23:38-39). He never returned to that temple! And so He had set the stage, as it were, for the questions put to Him by His disciples. From the Mount of Olives (v. 3) the Lord and the disciples could look westward across the Kidron Valley to the temple mount and see the glorious white stones of the temple in the evening sun. Despite the impressive size and beauty of the temple and the stones of which it was constructed, the Lord Jesus said, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,” (v. 2). Immediately after this in verse three we are told that the disciples asked Him the questions to which the Lord responded in this chapter.
Let it be remembered, then, that the rapture is NOT predicted in this chapter. There were many things not yet revealed to the Lord's disciples. The Lord Jesus told them, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come,” (John 16:12-13). The revelation that the churches would be made up of both Jews and Gentiles was hidden to the disciples at the time Jesus spoke these words. (At the time Jesus spoke to the disciples the one church that existed was totally Jewish). Paul spoke of this mystery: “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel,” (Ephesians 3:4-6). There is no evidence that it had ever entered into the minds of the disciples that Jews and Gentiles would be worshiping together! But there is evidence this was a totally foreign idea to them.
Also the disciples were ignorant of the rapture for Paul said that the knowledge of this was revealed to him and was previously a “mystery” - a thing not previously revealed: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound,” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Paul had not yet written what was revealed to him in 1 Thessalonians 4:13- 17 which says: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Again: a mystery is not something hard to understand – it is something that had not been revealed before but was then revealed. Jesus is explaining future events to men who had no knowledge of a rapture. Their questions reveal this as do the words of the Lord Himself.
OUTLINE, PART ONE: The Lord Himself gives us the title for this period of time. He called it The Beginning of Sorrows in Matthew 24:8. This division of the chapter is made up of the first eight verses of the chapter. The signs given by the Lord here are (1) general signs, and (2) they are signs that have been present on earth for about two-thousand years now. The signs are: (a) preachers who are deceivers, (b) wars and rumors of wars, (c) ethnic groups rising against ethnic groups (for the word for “nation” is “ethnos” from whence our word ethnic having to do with a racial group), (d) kingdoms (governments) rising against kingdoms, (e) famines, (f) plagues (diseases), and (g) earthquakes in different places.
We can truthfully say that these signs are now present and have been present in the world for about two-thousand years only if we understand verse five differently from the usual interpretation. Verse five says: “many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” The common interpretation of verse five is that many false Christs shall arise and shall deceive many people. That has not happened in the past two-thousand years and is not happening now. While there have been from time to time some who have claimed to be the Messiah, their number hardly can be said to be “many.” And while they generally have generated a following the numbers of their followers cannot be said to be “many.” That is one argument against the usual interpretation and a compelling one. If the usual meaning given to verse five is correct, we cannot with honesty say that we are in the period of time designated by the Lord Jesus as “the beginning of sorrows,” (v. 8). The false Christ's are just not here.
This verse states that whomever these people are, they shall come in Jesus' name: that is, they shall claim to be acting for Him, with His authority and sent by Him. This is not true of false Christs. Such statements would be counter productive to their schemes. They say instead that they are Christ! They claim to be the Messiah! But the people spoken of in verse five are not claiming to be Christ. They are claiming to be sent by Him and they say that Jesus is the Christ. They claim to be His spokesmen and acting with His authority. They are the same sort of people as Jesus spoke about in Matthew 7:22-23. There He said: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Verse five speaks of false preachers, false prophets, false teachers, miracle workers and those who practice exorcism – the casting out of demons. Not only did Jesus prophesy of those folk in Matthew chapter seven as just quoted, but He prophesied of them in John 5:42-43 saying: “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” The false Christs come in their own name – but the people mentioned in verse five come in Jesus' name. The people in verse five are not false Christs: they are, instead, false teachers.
Another argument against the common interpretation of the words, “many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” is this: in verse 24 we are told, “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” If verse five refers to men claiming to be Christ and so also does verse twenty-four, we have the same sign for two different periods of time. That would be confusing. Since we do not have any other duplication of signs given by the Lord, we conclude that we do not have one here for this reason as well. We conclude that verse five does not refer to false Christs.
To get the Lord's complete thought we must read both verses four and five. Jesus was warning of the possibility of His disciples being deceived. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” This was and continues to be a practical warning to His disciples today. While we do not believe that the Lord's disciples will follow a false Christ, it is possible for them – at least for a time – to be sitting under false teaching. The Lord Jesus spoke of His sheep in relation to false Christs saying, “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers,” (John 10:5). Witness the disciples in Galatia to whom Paul wrote his Galatian letter. They were so much caught up in Judaism that he wrote “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain,” (Galatians 4:11). We conclude that false Christs are not the danger in verse five, but false teacher are. Later on in chapter twenty-four false Christs are a danger, but the Lord's churches have been taken out and the hindering Holy Spirit has been “taken out of the way,” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
Let us go aside for a moment to remind the reader that there have been a number of things added to the original texts of the Bible. Names have been given to books – many of which are actually epistles or letters. Nobody gives a title to a letter! Chapter divisions and sometimes chapter headings have been added. The Bible has been divided into verses. Certain words have been capitalized and punctuation has been added since neither occurs in the Greek. (Except that in the “uncials” every Greek letter was a capital letter.) So then, all these things: titles, chapter divisions, chapter headings, verse divisions, capitalization and punctuation have been added by translators. All these things, then, are matters of interpretation or translation and not matters of inspiration. The original texts (called autographs) were inspired and they were without all these added things as were the copies. And it is a matter of fact: the punctuation has been modernized in today's editions of the King James Bibles from the original King James Bibles. This can be demonstrated by anyone willing to do a bit of comparison of the two.
All this brings us to this point: if we remove one comma in Matthew 24:5 we change the meaning completely. Take out the comma that follows the word “saying.” Then we have “For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Whereas the common understanding is that many shall come claiming to be Christ, with the comma removed, the verse says that many shall come in Christ's name saying that He is Christ – and yet shall deceive many. And this we have in our present day and have had for about two-thousand years now. Multitudes of preachers have arisen from the first century until now who have claimed to be preaching with Christ's authority (in His name, for that is the meaning) and they have said that He is Christ – yet they have deceived multitudes. That this kind of thing has been going on for about two-thousand years is illustrated by the following three passages: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us,” (1 John 2:18-19); and Paul in Acts 20:29-30: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them;” and finally Peter in 2 Peter 2:1-2: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. Peter said “many shall follow” the false teachers that he predicted would arise “among” the Lord's churches to whom he expressed this great concern. Peter's, Paul's and John's words all began to be fulfilled during and shortly after their lifetimes. And they have continued to be fulfilled for about two-thousand years now. Many “false Christs” have not arisen, but many claiming to be preaching in His name have come on the scene and deceived multitudes!
Consider this word “many” in verse five; “many shall come” and “shall deceive many.” The Greek word is a common one being used three-hundred-thirty-one times in the New Testament. In twenty-six of those times it is used to emphasize the word “multitude” or “multitudes” meaning, of course, a great or large crowd. Two-hundred-twenty times the word is translated “many” in our King James Bibles. This word will not allow for ten or twenty or some such number. It means “many.”
The interpretation that verse five refers not to false Christs, but rather to false teachers (1) is consistent with the text, (2) is consistent with the context, (3) is consistent with the events of the past two-thousand years, and (4) is consistent with the events of our own time. Every priest, preacher, Bible-teacher, and “evangelist” - every TV “ministry” claims to be operating with Christ's authority, but most are deceivers: free-willers, Judaizers, works-mongers, baptismal regenerationists, infant baptizers, decisional regenerationists, etc., etc. These are the dangerous folk today: not men claiming to be Christ!
So it is that it seems clear that the Lord's churches find themselves living in this first period prophesied by the Lord Jesus Himself: “the beginning of sorrows,” (v. 8). He said also, “...for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet,” (v. 6). And so we close the first part of our outline study. “The end is not yet.” The time of “Jacob's trouble” is yet future. (see Jeremiah 30:7). The period of time in which we find ourselves is a mere setting up of the scenery and furniture on the world's stage, if you will, for the coming of Christ and the end of this age.
Part Two Matthew 24:9-14
INTRODUCTION TO PART TWO: Having in Part One provided a lengthy introduction to this chapter, we proceed to introduce Part Two. Looking back at the first eight verses of Matthew chapter fourteen we remind ourselves that the Lord Jesus plainly stated that the period of time He had firsts spoken about was titled by Him as “the beginning of sorrows,” (v. 8). The signs given by the Lord Jesus to His disciples are general in nature and have been present in the earth for about two-thousand years. They are general in that the signs mentioned have been and as of the time of this writing are worldwide in nature. No specific location or nation is mentioned as being the scene of the events mentioned.
OUTLINE, PART TWO: This period of time begins with the word “then.” This word can have two meanings. It can mean 'at that time' or it can mean 'following next in order' as in the statement: 'he walked to the door and then turned.' It seems that here it means the latter; that is: after the period of time mentioned previously (called “the beginning of sorrows”) these next things shall take place. What is prophesied is a change from physical and natural events such as wars and earthquakes to specific persecution of Christians and a large departure involving professing Christians.
It seems that these are specific signs that take place after the rapture: probably during the tribulation period unless there is a brief intervening period between the two. Notice that this division of the passage begins with the time word “then” and also ends with the time word “then” in the phrase, “then shall the end come,” (v. 14). Our outline attempts to take into consideration these “time words” as used by the Lord Jesus. Thus many people place the rapture of Christ's church and the wedding party between this period of time and the first one. In other words, the churches will go through (and obviously are going through) “the beginning of sorrows” - that period of time previous to this one.
This second period of time seems to this preacher to definitely take place during the tribulation period – during the seven years that follows the catching away. The Lord begins His much more specific and personal remarks in verse nine speaking of arrests, murders, (martyrdom) and intense hatred toward His followers from all nationalities of people. This begs the question as to whether anyone will be saved during the tribulation period. We must note that God has always had His preachers and His remnant. In every time period throughout Bible history there have always been saved folk
Matthew 24:9-14 – SPECIFIC SIGNS AFTER THE RAPTURE AND PROBABLY DURING THE TRIBULATION. Note that this division begins with the time word “Then” and ends with another time word in the phrase “then shall the end come” in v. 14.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
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