Guests: and

Relevant Biblical Passages: Matthew 24

Signs and Surprises. Typically Adventists have interpreted Matthew 24 as the chapter which gives us the clearest picture of the “signs” of the end. When it is read in conjunction with Matthew 25, however, certain questions need to be addressed:

1. Soon? Is there any indication in these chapters as to how near the end might be? Is there any indication of delay? How much delay? How do the signs relate to delay?

2. Possible first-century fulfillment? Some of my students, quite on their own, have raised the possibility that Matthew 24 may indicate the conviction that when Matthew was written Christians believed Jesus could have come in conjunction with the destruction of Jerusalem. In other words, instead of separating the destruction of Jerusalem from the second coming, the original “plan” was for the two events to be linked. What is there in the text that might suggest such a conclusion?

3. Cataclysmic end or life as usual? How does this section of Scripture depict the condition of the world when Jesus comes? Would this chapter be a corrective to those who suggest that the whole world will be in turmoil when the end comes? What do the stories in Matthew 25 contribute toward answering this question?

Comment: Thomas Merton was asked how the Shakers could produce such marvelous furniture when they believed the world would end at any moment. He commented: “If you expect the world to end at any moment, you know there is no need to hurry. You take your time; you do your work well.”

4. Fear? Who should be afraid, according to these chapters? Good words from the Apostle Paul should be quoted in this connection:

1 Thess. 5:1-3: “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!”

A Futurist perspective. Matthew 24 is important in futurist (dispensationalist) interpretation. In this chapter, they find evidence for a secret coming separate from the public coming of Jesus (separated by the 70th week of Daniel 9). What is there in these chapters that could potentially support such a view? What is there in the chapter itself that might refute it?

Further Reading: Alden Thompson,”Living in the End-time,” Signs of the Times, June 1984, 8-10. On the Web at:

Comments are closed.