Matthew 24: Two Keys to Understanding

Matthew 24: Two Keys to Understanding

“Matthew 24 is knocking at the door.” This expression was made popular by Billy Graham during the 1950s and 60s. So well received was this saying that Johnny Cash released a song by that same title in 1973.

Matthew 24 is one of the most wrongly interpreted chapters in the Bible. The signs of Matthew 24 point to the destruction of Jerusalem and not to the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world. In fact, the entirety of Matthew 24:1-35 speaks to Jerusalem’s destruction.

There are two keys to a proper understanding of Matthew 24, and both are found within the text itself.

The first is found in verse 14 which reads, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” “The end” here is not the end of the world or the age before a physical millennial reign of Jesus on earth. The end here is the destruction of Jerusalem.

The second key is found in Jesus’ statement that all of the signs and events would be seen by that present generation: “Assuredly I say to you; this generation shall not pass away until all these things take place” (v 34). I am unsure how so many miss this statement.

Paul made it clear in Colossians 1:6, 23 and in Romans 10:16-18 that the gospel had been preached to the whole world in his lifetime. Thus accomplished, “the end” would surely come as Jesus promised, and in that generation as He indicated.

Another point of interest may be seen in John’s failure to mention anything about these events in his gospel account. The three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) all spend considerable time and detail in the signs and events detailed in today’s reading. Why did John make no mention of it at all? Because John’s was the only gospel account written after Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70.

The works of Flavius Josephus also confirm the horrors surrounding Jerusalem’s destruction in keeping with the word of Jesus. Matthew 24 is not knocking at the door. It kicked in the door of Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago.

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