PMW 2019-005 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
This is my fourth and final presentation in demonstrating that the disciples’ question to Jesus in Matt. 24:3 shows that they are confused. You might say that this is my “final judgment” on the matter.
When the disciples ask their double question in response to his short prophecy on the destruction of the temple, they bring in concepts that are not related to his prophecy. We have been seeing that they are often confused and how Jesus in the Olivet Discourse is seeking to dispel their confusion.
In the preceding article I noted that Jesus directly interacts with their confusion. In this one I will briefly demonstrate that he will clearly distinguish the events that they have merged. The disciples wrongly believe that the destruction of the temple will coincide with the parousia of Christ, bringing about the Final Judgment. But Jesus separates the two elements in their question. You will need to read the first three articles in order to properly understand this one.
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After dealing directly with the disciples’ confusion regarding the destruction of the temple, Jesus shifts his attention to their second question. This question regards issues they wrongly assume will be associated with the destruction of the temple.
As he begins answering their second question he pointedly notes that no one will know the time of the parousia/final judgment — even though there are both general and specific signs to the approaching destruction of the temple:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:36–39).
Thus, the parousia occurs suddenly and without warning. No particular signs announce its nearness. It will catch men off-guard, engaging in daily business affairs while being wholly unaware of the catastrophe about to overtake them. They will be casually engaging in mundane life affairs: eating and drinking, getting married (v. 28), working in the field (v. 40), and grinding at the mill (v. 41).
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Because of their constant confusion throughout his ministry and their current confusion regarding this prophecy (see previous articles), he emphasizes to them that his parousia will come unexpectedly:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36).
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42).
“For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matt. 24:44).
“The master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know” (Matt. 24:50).
“Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour” (Matt. 25:13).
Thus, it will be important for his disciples to discern the signs regarding the approaching destruction of the temple (Matt. 24:4–34). However, they will have no warning signs for the approaching parousia, for not even Jesus knows when that will be (Matt. 24:36).
Because of this, they must always “be on the alert” (Matt. 24:42), “be ready” (Matt. 24:44), be “doing” (Matt. 24:46), “be prudent” during the whole time of delay (Matt. 25:4–7), “be on the alert” (Matt. 25:13), be “faithful” through the long delay (Matt. 25:19, 21, 23), be engaged in works of mercy and ministry (Matt. 25:34–36).
In this series, I have shown that one prophetic episode has signs and is near (the destruction of the temple). The other prophetic episode has no signs and is distant (the parousia). Jesus sorts out the issues that the disciples merged together. We would do well to listen to Jesus’ patient instruction!