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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Matthew 24

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Matthew 24:1. καὶ ἐξελθὼν ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, ἐπορεύετο, and Jesus having come forth from the temple, went His way) Such is the reading of the Colinæan editions, and of the following MSS., viz.: Bunkleanus, Cantabrigiensis, Paris, 5, 6, Stephanus η or more; also of Chrysostom, and the Æthiopic,(1028) Arabic, Latin, Persian, and Syriac versions: according to which ἐπορεύετο (went His way) has greater force, being contrasted with, and in antithesis to, καθημένου δὲ αὐτοῦ, and as He was sitting.(1029) Modern transcribers have, as though it mattered nothing, written ἐπορεύτο ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, He went His way from the temple.(1030) A discourse, which embraced even the end of the world, was appropriately held in the open air.— οἱ μαθηταὶ, the disciples) one especially, as we learn from Mark 13:1.— ἐπιδεῖξαι, to show) It is possible that Jesus had never looked at the outside of the temple, for He was not curious; cf. Gnomon on Mark 12:15. He had looked, and that deservedly, at the inside of the temple; Ibid. Matthew 11:11.— τὰς οἱκοδομὰς, the buildings) The separate parts were in themselves great buildings: even at that time the building was being carried on, which is mentioned in John 2:20. And perhaps it was being the more zealously done, on account of the proximity of the Passover.— τοῦ ἱεροῦ, of the temple) which was doomed to destruction: see ch. Matthew 23:38; and in that very age, too, only a few years after its completion.

BDabc Vulg. place the ἐπορεύετο last: and so Hil. 728. Rec. Text puts ἐπορεύετο, without good authority.—ED.

He had now been in the temple for the last time.—V. g.


Verse 2

Matthew 24:2. πάντα ταῦτα, all these things) as they are standing.— οὐ μὴ ἀφεθῆ, κ. τ. λ., there shall not be left, etc.) Jesus makes the curious thoughts of His disciples give place to more serious considerations.— λίθος, κ. τ. λ., a stone, etc.) A proverbial expression implying the utmost devastation. Even the very soil on which it stood was ploughed up.


Verse 3

Matthew 24:3. ἐπὶ τοῦ ὄρους, on the mountain) Whence the temple could be seen, and where the siege operations were destined to commence.— τὸ σημεῖον, the sign) Signs have frequently been added to predictions of important events; hence arose the question of the disciples regarding the sign of that time.— τῆς σῆς παρουσίας, of thy coming) The disciples appear to refer to ch. Matthew 23:39.


Verse 4

Matthew 24:4. καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, κ. τ. λ., and Jesus answered and said, unto them, etc.) The disciples had asked without distinguishing their questions—(1) Concerning the time of the destruction of the temple; (2) Concerning the sign of the coming of the Lord and the end of the world, as if both events would occur simultaneously, and consequently have a common time and a common sign. Our Lord answers them distinctly [and separately]—(1) Concerning the destruction of the temple and the city, and the signs of this event, in Matthew 24:4-5; Matthew 24:15-16; (2) Concerning His coming and the end of the world, and the signs of that event, in Matthew 24:29-31; (3) Concerning the time when the temple was to be destroyed, in Matthew 24:32-33; (4) Concerning the time of the end of the world, in Matthew 24:36. Thus is it also in St Mark, and St Luke, who in ch. Matthew 21:11; Matthew 21:25, distinguishes the signs of each event.— βλέπετε, see) i.e. take heed. We ought to inquire concerning future events, especially those of the last days, not for the sake of gratifying our curiosity, but from a desire to fortify ourselves. All things in this discourse must be referred to firmness in acknowledging and confessing Jesus Christ; for the drift and object of the prophecy is to enforce this duty: other matters, which we might make use of for mere knowledge, are mentioned abruptly and obscurely. A thesis on the perspicuity and perfection of Scripture might be suitably illustrated from this discourse of our Lord.— ὑμᾶς, you) This is said not so much to the apostles, who were shortly to receive the Holy Ghost, as to the whole flock of believers whom they then represented, lest they should be seduced by the greater perils to which they would be exposed. The beginning is Prudence; the end, Patience.


Verse 5

Matthew 24:5. πολλοὶ γὰρ, κ. τ. λ., for many, etc.) In the beginning will come false Christs; in the middle, false prophets, Matthew 24:11; in the end, both (22, 24). A twofold climax.(1031)ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί ΄ου, in My name) They will not only say that they have been sent by Me, but that they are He who I am.— λέγοντες, ἐγώ εἰμι χριστός, saying, I am Christ) Joachim Camerarius says, “Theophylact has recorded that a certain Samaritan, Dositheus by name, gave out that he was the prophet foretold by Moses; that Simon the Samaritan also (mentioned in the apostolic history of St Luke) called himself the Great Power of God, i.e. δύναμις ΄εγαλή: the prediction seems also applicable to Theudas,(1032) and “the certain Egyptian,”(1033) and another pretender mentioned by Josephus (who records those matters in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, and the second of his Conquest of Judea), all claiming the character of prophet, though being in reality seditious impostors. And, in later times, Manes even dared to call himself Christ, and, in imitation of Him, appoint twelve apostles.


Verse 6

Matthew 24:6. ΄ελλήσετε δὲ ἀκούειν, but ye shall be about to hear) A compound future. The writings of the Evangelists having been published before the fulfilment of this prediction, were greatly confirmed when it took place. About to hear: Christians rather hear of than wage wars.— πολέμους, wars) sc. close at hand.— ἀκοὰς πολέμων, rumours of wars) sc. at a distance.— μὴ θροεῖσθε, be ye not troubled) A case of metonymy of the antecedent; i.e. do not immediately take to flight. The verb θροέομαι (to be troubled) is peculiarly appropriate in this place, for θρόος(1034) is from θρέω,(1035) which signifies σὺν θορύβῳ βοῶ λαλῶ, i.e. to cry, or speak with tumult.— δεῖ γὰρ πάντα γένεσθαι, for all these things must come to pass) This is the ground of the believer’s tranquility.— οὔπω, not yet) The godly are always prone to think that evils have reached their utmost limit: therefore they are warned.— τὸ τέλος, the end) mentioned in Matthew 24:2; Matthew 24:14, is not yet; nor is it yet time to fly; see Matthew 24:15; Matthew 24:18; Luke 21:20-21. The beginning is only mentioned in Matthew 24:8.


Verse 7

Matthew 24:7. ἐγερθήσεται, shall be roused) sc. after a period of greater peace.— ἔθνος, κ. τ. λ., nation, etc.) even beyond the limits of Judea.— λιμαὶ, καὶ λοιμοὶ, καὶ σεισμοὶ, famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes) Almost all matters treated of in the Novellæ, may be referred to one or the other of these classes, though historians frequently regard such things less than the deeds of men.— κατὰ τόπος, in divers places) There always have been pestilences, etc., but not of such frequent occurrence.


Verse 8

Matthew 24:8. ἀρχὴ, the beginning) sc. with regard to the Jews; contrasted with the end spoken of in Matthew 24:6; Matthew 24:14.— ὠδίνων, of pangs) which precede the regeneration [or new birth of the world]: see ch. Matthew 19:28, and Romans 8:22. A metaphor taken from childbirth.


Verse 9

Matthew 24:9. ἀποκτενοῦσιν ὑμᾶς, they shall kill you) sc. some of you; see Luke 21:16. The Lord does not point these out, in order that all may watch. Before the destruction of Jerusalem, James the Greater was slain by Herod, as St Luke mentions; Peter, by Nero, as ecclesiastical history hands down. You: as if you were in fault, and were the authors of the misery of the human race. This is the last consolation of the world. “Judgment begins with the house of God.”— μισούμενοι, hated) The Christian religion has something peculiar, hateful to the corrupt world, which tolerates all other denominations.


Verse 10

Matthew 24:10. σκανδαλισθήσονται, shall be offended) sc. shall make shipwreck of their faith.(1036)ἀλλήλους, one another) This is the saddest of all.


Verses 11-13

Matthew 24:11-13. καὶ πολλοὶ, κ. τ. λ., and many, etc.) Faith, love, and hope must be anxiously preserved.


Verse 12

Matthew 24:12. τήν ἀνομίαν, unrighteousness) Unrighteousness and love are opposites; for love is the fulfilling of the law. Unrighteousness involves compulsion, love, as it were, something natural.— ψυγήσεται, shall wax cold) It is the character of love to burn.— ἀγάπη, love) sc. towards God, mankind, our neighbour, and ourself; of a spiritual and also natural kind; love, which is the sum of the law.— στοργὴ (natural affection) makes parents rejoice in the birth of their offspring: when iniquity has made times hard, they rejoice in losing their offspring or having none. Love is the ornament and very life of Christians, and of their whole condition and conduct, Philippians 1:9; 2 Peter 1:7; Revelation 2:4. It is also the foundation of that ὑπομονὴ, patience or endurance, mentioned in the next verse.— τῶν πολλῶν, of the many) i.e. of the majority, sc. of those who do not excel in love. Unrighteousness is especially practised by those who are exceedingly powerful or excessively poor: whence also the love of the rest waxes cold.(1037) That justice which is called particular, being violated, that which is called universal, languishes.(1038)


Verse 13

Matthew 24:13. δὲ ὑπομείνας, but he that endureth) By constancy, we preserve faith, love, and hope.— εἰς τέλος, unto the end) sc. of the temptation.— οὗτος, this man) i.e., he, I say, being as it were exempted from the general lot; see Matthew 24:22.— σωθήσεται, shall be saved) When the city was destroyed, the Christians were saved; see Luke 21:28; Luke 21:31.


Verse 14

Matthew 24:14.(1039) τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας, THIS Gospel of the Kingdom) sc. which Jesus preached.— ἥξει, shall come) The verb ἥκειν does not signify merely to approach, but to arrive, nay, actually to be present.(1040)τὸ τέλος, the end) spoken of in the following verses, on which account we find οὖν, therefore, in the next verse. Before that end, Peter, Paul, and others alluded to in Matthew 24:9, had concluded their apostolate.


Verse 15

Matthew 24:15. τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως, the abomination of desolation) The abomination of profanation was followed by the abomination of desolation. Such was the name given by the Jews to the Roman army, composed of all nations, the standards of which they held in abomination as idols, since the Romans attributed divinity to them. See Spizelii Collatio de vaticin. ang., p. 135.— δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου, Daniel the prophet) Cf. Hebrews 11:32-34(1041) with reference to Daniel’s being a prophet, although by many of the Jews he was not considered as one of the prophets. A slight cause may frequently produce an important error. In the Latin Bibles, the apocryphal writings were long ago mixed with the canonical books according to the connection of their subjects, and were distinguished from them in the index of books by certain marks, as one may see in MSS.; in process of time, this caution, feeble at best, having been neglected, they came to be considered canonical. On the other hand, since they who first collected the books of the Old Testament into one volume, did not possess the book of Daniel, that book, which was written both at a later period and also out of Palestine, was added to the Hagiographa; not inappropriately indeed, since the weeks predicted by Daniel began to be fulfilled in Ezra 4:24; yet from this circumstance, some persons thought that Daniel was not a prophet at all, as he was not placed with the prophets, and as they furthermore disliked the occupation of examining his prophetical periods. The Great Prophet, however, confirms his claim to the prophetical character.— ἑστὼς, standing) It should be written thus (not ἐστὸς),(1042) even in the neuter: for ἑστὼς is contracted from ἑσταὸς, whence also we find ἑστῶτα in Luke 5:2ἐνεστῶτα in Romans 8:38, etc. It must be referred to βδέλυγ΄α, the abomination—already firmly standing, and destined long to stand. An instance of Prosopopœia.— ἐν τόπῳ ἁγιῳ, on (or in) (1043) (or the) holy place) In Daniel 9:27, the LXX. have ἐπὶ τὸ ἱερόν, on the holy place (or the temple). The time of flight is joined in Luke 21:20 with the actual moment of the approach of the army; and Eusebius mentions (H. E. iii. 5), that at that very time the Divine warning to fly had been repeated. The holy place, therefore, does not here signify the temple, or the holy of holies, for it would have been too late to flee after that had been profaned, but a definite place without and near the Holy City; in short, that very place which our Lord (as He had often done) regarded as made holy by His presence, whilst He was uttering these words: cf. Acts 7:33. We learn certainly from Josephus, that the principal strength of the besieging army was upon the Mount of Olives: “They were commanded,” says he, “to encamp on the mount which is called the Mount of Olives, which lies over against the city on the east.”—Wars of the Jews. vi. 3. And that mount was considered holy also by the Jews, because the neighbouring temple could be looked into therefrom; and they had also a tradition that the Shechinah had stood there for three years and a half. They called it also הר המשיחה, the Mount of Unction. Very pertinent to this is Zechariah 14:4, where the very mention of the eastern quarter (plaga) appears to denote holiness. And therefore that place which St Matthew designates as “holy,” is described by St Mark as “where it ought not.” Both of which passages refer to that in Daniel 9:27 ; where the region of that mount is said to be כנף שקיצים,(1044) a quarter (plaga) otherwise holy, but then, on account of the idolatrous besiegers, abominable: because there the שקוץ שמם, the abomination that maketh desolate, Daniel 12:11 ; Daniel 11:31, was to stand. For כנף signifies also a quarter of the world, even without mention of the wind, as in Isaiah 11-12. Punishment generally begins in the more holy places, and thence spreads to other parts.— ἀναγιώσκων νοείτω, let him that readeth understand) St Mark has the same parenthesis in ch. Matthew 13:14, although in many copies that clause from Daniel is not to be found there. Both Evangelists, writing before the siege of the city, warned their readers to observe the accurate advice of the Lord concerning the place and the rapidity of flight. In Daniel 12:10, the LXX. have οἱ νοή΄ονες συνήσουσι, the wise will understand: and the Hebrew has המשכלים יבינו, the wise will understand.— ἀναγινώσκων, he that readeth) does not mean the public reader of Daniel (for at the commencement of the siege, the public lessons in the Law were taken from Leviticus, and none from Daniel were associated with them or with any others), but any reader either of Daniel or of the Evangelist, especially when the siege was approaching. All ought to understand: and, since they were commanded to pray that their flight might not take place on the Sabbath day, why should the Sabbath reader be warned more than others?


Verse 16

Matthew 24:16. τότε, then) This answers to πότε, when, in Matthew 24:3. The word “then” often occurs in this discourse.— οἱ ἐν τῇ ἰουδαίᾳ, those that are in Judea) not all the Jews, nor Christians dwelling elsewhere; but those who, believing the word of Jesus, should be in Judea.— φευγέτωσαν, let them flee) without hope that the siege might be raised.— ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη, into the mountains) Safety was here promised in the mountains: and it was afterwards found there at Pella. See Eusebius H. E. iii. 5. Jesus warns His followers not to think that they would be safe within the city, in opposition to the persuasion pertinaciously maintained during the actual siege by the carnal prudence of the Jews.


Verse 17

Matthew 24:17. ΄ὴ καταβαινέτω, let him not come down) sc. let him come down, not by the inner, but by the outer stairs.(1045)ἆραί τι, to take anything) e.g. victuals; corresponding with garments in the next verse.


Verse 18

Matthew 24:18. ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ, in the field) Husbandmen go lightly clad into the field.


Verse 19

Matthew 24:19. οὐαὶ, woe!) This is not put by way of imprecation, but of indication. Neither is it an interdiction against the generating of children, but only a prediction of misery.— ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις, κ. τ. λ., to them that are with child, etc.) Because they will not be able to flee quickly. Godly women will share the common calamity; see Luke 23:29.


Verse 20

Matthew 24:20. προσεύχεσθε, pray ye) Many things are rendered less grievous in answer to the prayers of the righteous. They did pray, and their flight did not take place in the winter.— χειμῶνος, winter, or cold and tempestuous weather) Not merely the time of the year, but the state of the weather, seems to be intended by this word; see ch. Matthew 16:3.(1046) The event certainly occurred in spring; cf. Matthew 24:18 concerning the field.— σαββάτῳ, on the Sabbath day) Not because it would have been unlawful to flee or carry burdens on the Sabbath day, especially for Christians, but because it is peculiarly miserable on that day, which is given to joy, to break off the rites of religious worship and flee, and because, being less prepared for flight, each hinders the other in attempting it by crowding the doors of synagogues or the gates of cities much more than when they are in the country or in private houses. Ptolemy Lagus, according to Josephus, took Jerusalem by surprise on the Sabbath day: Ant. xii. 1. In fine, punishments which happened to the Jews on the Sabbath day were more grievous than others: see Hainlin Chronol. Explan. fol. 19, 20. Their enemies also were more truculent on that day than on any other, from hatred of the Sabbath. At the time when sin is at its height, punishment arrives; cf. Hosea 4:7. The observance of the Sabbath did not wholly expire before the destruction of the temple.

The Portuguese word inverno has the same double force.—(I. B.)


Verse 21

Matthew 24:21. ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κόσμου, from the beginning of the world) in the time of the Deluge, etc.


Verse 22

Matthew 24:22. οὐκ ἄν ἐσώθη, would not be saved) They would be excluded by premature death from the salvation of the soul which is ascribed to the elect. They who have already attained salvation will utter the words which resound in Revelation 7:10.— πᾶσα σάρξ, all flesh(1047)) in itself weak.— τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς, the elect) The elect, whether already converted or hereafter to become so, or as yet unborn, are mingled with the rest of mankind. Where the force of temptations exceeds the ordinary strength of the faithful, election is mentioned—see Matthew 24:24; Matthew 24:31, and Luke 18:7—and the faithfulness and power of God; see 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 1:5; Revelation 13:8.— κολοβωθήσονται, shall be shortened) An appropriate verb, since that which is shortened loses the entireness of its parts, yet so that it may nevertheless be considered as the whole.


Verse 23

Matthew 24:23. τοτέ, then) sc. at the time of the fall of Jerusalem.— μὴ πιστεύσητε, do not believe) For from that time forth the Son of Man will not be seen until His Advent. His coming to judgment, therefore, is mentioned incidentally in Matthew 24:27, and professedly in Matthew 24:29,(1048) 30.— ὧδε, here) sc. where any one is who calls himself the Messiah.


Verse 24

Matthew 24:24. σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα, signs and prodigies) Signs affect the intellect; prodigies, one class of which is fearful sights (see Luke 21:11, and cf. Acts 2:19), trouble the mind.— εἰ δυνατὸν, if [it were] possible) This clause denotes the utmost endeavour, yet made in vain; cf. Acts 27:39.(1049)


Verse 26

Matthew 24:26. ἐν τῆ ἐρήμῳ, in the desert) This might be said speciously (cf. ch. Matthew 3:3), and is applicable to those who drew crowds and bands tumultuously after them; see Acts 21:38. Therefore our Lord adds, “Go not forth.”— ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις, in the secret chambers) This applies to those who pretended to possess hidden treasures, therefore our Lord adds, “Believe it not.”


Verse 27

Matthew 24:27. ἀστραπὴ, lightning) It is not all lightning that is meant, but that which sometimes suddenly fills the whole horizon without previous warning.— ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, from the east) The lightning comes also from the other quarters; but in this passage it is said to come from the east. It may be supposed that Christ’s Advent will take place from the east. The interval which is to elapse between the appearance of the Lord’s Advent (see Gnomon on 2 Thessalonians 2:8) and the Advent itself, enables the actual Advent to be sudden.— τοῦ υἱοῦʼ ανθρώπον, of the Son of Man) From this place to Matthew 24:44, especially, He is frequently called The Son of Man; cf. ch. Matthew 25:31.


Verse 28

Matthew 24:28. ὅπου γὰρ κ. τ. λ., for where, etc.) This adage is combined here with the mention of the false teachers which occurs in Matthew 24:23; but in Luke 17:37; Luke 17:31-32, with that of sufferings caused by war. The carcase, therefore, must be carnal Judaism, devoid of that life by which the body of Christ is sustained, and yet boasting some appearance of a body, upon which, as upon a carcase left to them, the eagles will pounce greedily and in great numbers.—( συναχθήσονται, will be gathered together—the future tense.) Christ, however, who comes as the lightning, is not to be sought for at that carcase; Matthew 24:23; Matthew 24:27. All kinds of eagles are not carnivorous, but only some species;(1050) cf. Job 39:30. These eagles are partly the false Christs and false prophets, partly the Roman forces. The Romans bore an eagle on their standards, and were not the first nation who did so; and some are of opinion that the eagle in this passage, and the boar in Psalms 80:14 (13) allude to their military standards; cf. Hosea 8:1.


Verse 29

Matthew 24:29. εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλίψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων, κ. τ. λ., but immediately after the affliction of those days, etc.) There are four things to be observed in this passage. (1) Our Lord speaks of the sun being literally darkened, etc. And this phrase frequently occurs in the prophets, concerning the destruction of a nation, and in such cases has a much more literal force than is generally supposed, for where there is a great destruction of men, the beholders of the sun are reduced to a small number; but much more in the present passage has it a literal force, for the whole of our Lord’s language on this occasion is strictly literal; therefore this verse must be also understood literally. (2) The tribulation indicated will be that of the Jewish people, and that for one generation, (3) It is not said, after that tribulation, nor after those days, but after the tribulation of those days, as in Mark 13:24.— ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις μετὰ τὴν θλίψιν ἐκείνην, in those days, after that tribulation. The term, “those days,” refers to Matthew 24:22; Matthew 24:19; and it is indicated that the tribulation will not be long, but brief in duration; Matthew 24:21-22; Matthew 24:34. (4) The expression, εὐθέως, quickly (cito), implies a very short delay, since οὔπω, not yet (Matthew 24:6) i.e., οὐκ εὐθέως, not quickly (Luke 21:9), is said of the short delay which must precede that tribulation; nay, the passage already cited from St Mark excludes delay altogether. The Engl. Vers. has “immediately.” You will say, it is a great leap from the destruction of Jerusalem to the end of the world, which is represented as coming quickly after it. I reply—A prophecy resembles a landscape painting, which marks distinctly the houses, paths, and bridges in the foreground, but brings together, into a narrow space, the distant valleys and mountains, though they are really far apart. Thus should they who study a prophecy look on the future to which the prophecy refers. And the eyes of the disciples, who had combined in their question the end of the temple and of the world, are left somewhat veiled (for it was not yet the time for knowing; see Matthew 24:36), from which cause, imitating our Lord’s language, they with universal consent declared that the end was near at hand. In their progress, however, both prophecy and contemplation (prospectus)(1051) more and more explain things further distant. In which manner also we ought to interpret what is obscure by what is clear, not what is clear by what is obscure, and to venerate in its dark sayings that Divine wisdom which always sees all things, but does not reveal all things at once. Afterwards it was revealed that Antichrist should come before the end of the world; and again Paul joined these two rather nearly together, until the Apocalypse also placed an interval of a thousand years between them. The advent of our Lord, however, actually took place (as far as its commencement was concerned; see Gnomon on John 21:22) after the destruction of Jerusalem, and presently, too, inasmuch as no intermediate event was to be mentioned in the present passage; cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 3:1. The particle ἑυθεως (quickly or immediately) refers to this advent, not absolutely to the darkening of the sun and moon, for that accords with the extent of our Lord’s meaning; so that the meaning is “soon after the tribulation of those days, it will come to pass that the sun shall be darkened,” etc. A similar connection of an adverb(1052) with a verb occurs in Genesis 2:17; in the day on which thou shalt eat thereof, it will come to pass that thou shalt die the death; see also Gnomon on ch. Matthew 26:64, and Luke 1:48. The expression may also be referred to the mode of speech, so as to mean after that affliction (which the plan of this discourse, and the point of view from which this time is regarded, permit to be subjoined immediately, provided it be indicated that the other things will intervene) the sun shall be darkened, etc. It frequently occurs that adverbs, as in this passage, εὐθεώς, immediately, do not qualify the thing itself, but the language in which it is expressed. Thus, in Mark 7:9, the adverb καλῶς, well, and the verb ἀθετεῖτε, ye abolish [Engl. Vers., ye reject], are joined with [a part of] the verb to say [viz. it may be said that], understood: thus, too, in Hebrews 1:6, the adverb πάλιν, again, is joined with the verb λέγει, He saith. In fine, St Luke (Luke 21:24-25) separates the signs in the sun, etc. [from that tribulation] by a greater interval. Some explain εὐθέως as denoting, not the shortness of the interval, but the suddenness of the event after long intervening periods. We must, however, keep to our first interpretation, so indeed that the particle εὐθέως be understood to comprehend the whole space between the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the end of the world. On such passages there rests, as St Antony used to term it, a prophetical cloudlet. It was not yet the fit time for revealing the whole series of events from the destruction of Jerusalem down to the end of the world. The following is a paraphrase of our Lord’s words, “Concerning those things which will happen after the tribulation of those days of the destruction of Jerusalem, THE NEAREST EVENT which at present it suits My condition to mention, and your capacity to expect, is this, that the sun will be darkened,” etc. Furthermore, it does not follow from this that the expression, ΄ετὰ ταῦτα, after these things, should be understood loosely in Revelation 4:1. Where quickness is presupposed from Revelation 1:1. Such formulæ are to be understood according to the analogy of the passages where they occur.— ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται, the sun shall be darkened) This must be taken literally, of a calamity different from those which have been described before. In the Old Testament, such expressions are used metaphorically, the figure being derived from that which will literally happen at the end of the world.— σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς, the moon shall not give her light) sc. as she is wont to do both when filling and waning. According to the course of nature, the sun and moon are eclipsed at different times: then, however, they will both be eclipsed at once.— ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐπανοῦ, from heaven) It is not said upon the earth; cf. in Mark 13:25.— ἐκπίπτοντες, falling out. They shall be as though they were not, sc. without light.— δυνά΄εις, powers) sc. those firm interchained and subtle powers of heaven(1053) (distinct from the stars) which are accustomed to influence the earth. They are thus denominated by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.— σαλευθήσονται, shall be shaken) an appropriate metaphor from the waves of the sea.(1054)


Verse 30

Matthew 24:30. τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the sign of the Son of Man(1055)) This is a more special sign; those which are mentioned in Luke 21:25 precede it, and are more general. The very appellation, “the Son of Man,” agrees with these things (cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 16:13): for the mourning of the tribes of the earth is joined in Revelation 1:7, with their seeing Him in person. Our Lord means therefore to say, “Do not seek for any previous sign;” see Matthew 24:27. He Himself will be His own sign, as in Luke 2:12; and so much the more so, because conjointly with His actual appearance, or a little before it mankind will behold a triumphal procession (pompam) in the clouds: unless indeed a thick darkness, a dazzling glory, the form of the cross, or some star, also appear. Cf. ch. Matthew 2:2. Before this He had been a sign which was spoken against (see Luke 2:34): then He will be a sign manifest to all. A Sign denotes something very remarkable and striking to the eyes, whether it contain the signification of something else, or of itself; see Revelation 12:1. The sun, moon, and stars, having been extinguished, that sign will be visible in the brightness of the Lord, and thence in that of a cloud, and of the clouds.(1056) In short, the sign (cf. Mark 13:26; Mark 13:4) is the triumphal train of the Son of man coming in His glory, who is Himself to be beheld presently after, as this passage tells us— αἱ φυλαὶ, the tribes) especially of Israel.— ὄψονται, shall see) Cf. Numbers 24:17.— ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν, on the clouds) St Luke says, ἐν νεφέλῃ, on a cloud) He will be attended by many chariots;(1057) He will be borne on a very magnificent one.


Verse 31

Matthew 24:31. τοῦς ἀγγελους αὐτοῦ, His angels) It is likely enough that a certain number of angels may be called peculiarly the angels of Christ, although all are subject to Him.— σάλπιγγος, of a trumpet) Trumpets are employed to call multitudes together; that trumpet will have a loud voice [Eng. Vers, great sound].— ἐπισυνάξουσι, they shall gather together) Cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1.— ἀπʼ ἄκρων οὐρανῶν, from the extremities of the heavens) In Mark 13:27, We have ἀπʼ ἄκρου γῆς from the uttermost part of the earth.— ἄκρον signifies any extremity. Where the earth ends, there the heaven begms: whence it happens, that the mountains and the heavens also sometimes represent each other in parallel passages. Cf. 2 Samuel 22:8 with Psalms 18:8 (7). It corresponds with the Hebrew (extremity). In Deuteronomy 30:4, the LXX. have ἀπʼ ἄκρου τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἕως ἄκρου τοὐ οὐρανοῦ,” from [the one] extremity of the heaven to [the other] extremity of the heaven;” and thus also in Deuteronomy 4:32.


Verse 32

Matthew 24:32. ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς, but from the fig-tree) An obvious matter.— τὴν, the) sc. following.— παραβολὴν, parable) a most beautiful one.


Verse 33

Matthew 24:33. ταῦτα πάντα, these things all) The order of words ought not to be always overlooked: the emphasis, and, in speaking, the accent, frequently falls upon the first of two words. The present is the first passage which has required this to be demonstrated; we will therefore do so [by the following examples]:—(1.) Luke 11:36, εἰ οὖν τὸ σῶμά σου ὁλον φωτεινὸν, μὴ ἔχον τὶ ΄εροσ σκοτεινὸν, ἔσται φωτεινον ὅλον, ὡς ὅταν λύχνος τῇ ἀστραπῇ φωτιζη σέ, if then thy body [be] ALL light, not having any PART dark, it shall be LIGHT all over, as when the candle by its shining LIGHTETH thee. In this passage ὁλον (all, the whole, Lat. totum, Fr. tout) is emphatic before φωτεινὸν (light, Lat. lucidum), in opposition to μέρος (part): and φωτεινὸν is emphatic before ὅλον, its emphasis being declared by the verb φωτὶζῃ (lighteth, Lat. illuminet. (2.) John 14:2-3, πορεύομαι ἑτοιμάσαι τοπον ὑμῖν. καῖ ἐὰν πορευθῶ καὶ ἑτοιμάσω ὑ΄ιν τόπον, κ. τ. λ. I go to prepare A PLACE for you, and if I go and prepare FOR YOU a place, etc. Here the apparent contradiction is removed by the order of the words, “A PLACE is not to be prepared for you, since it is already prepared,”(1058) is the negative proposition. “FOR YOU is to be prepared a place, i.e. the entrance into that place is to be rendered sure,” is the affirmative proposition. Both are equally true. (3.) Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5, ὑ΄ασ ὄντας νεκροὺςὀντασ ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς, YOU being dead—BEING us dead [Fr. VOUS etant morts, ETANT nous morts]. Here ὑμᾶς (you) is put antithetically to ἡμᾶς (us), in Ephesians 1:19 : and then ὄντας (being), denotes the past state of death, opposed to vivification. (4.) James 2:18, δεῖξόν μοι τὴν πιστιν σου ἐκ (others read χωρὶς(1059)) τῶν ἔργων σου, κἀγὼ δείξω σοι ἐκ τῶν ἐργων μου τὴν πίστιν μου, Show me thy FAITH by (others read without) thy WORKS, and I will show thee by my WORKS my faith. Here the first πίστιν (faith) refers to the words σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις (thou hast faith), and the second, ἔργων (works), to the words κἀγὼ ἔργα ἔχω (and I have works). These instances, extracted from four different writers of the New Testament, will suffice for the present. Now let us return to St Matthew. As the best MSS. have ταυτα πάντα, THESE things all, in Matthew 24:33, and παντα ταυτα, ALL these things, in Matthew 24:34 (although others confound the two modes of expression);(1060) the first ταῦτα placed before πάντα is emphatic, so as to express things about to happen next (for which reason in the parallel passage, Mark 13:29; the πάντα is omitted); and this emphasis being granted, the second πάντα expresses all, including these, things which were to come to pass next, in that generation. The pronoun ταῦτα (these) does not refer to the whole preceding discourse (for the previous signs, and the events which were to follow them indicated by the signs, are distinct from each other), but to the beginnings, which are compared with the fig-tree, in contradistinction to the summer itself, i.e. the approaching kingdom of God. Those things having been fulfilled which are described from Matthew 24:4 to Matthew 24:28, room was made for the kingdom of God, which would grow stronger and stronger, in one continuous progress. The beginnings, after all hindrances had been removed, were equivalent to the whole.(1061) Furthermore, in St Matthew and St Mark, ταῦτα (these) is in each case contrasted with ἐκείνης (that) in Matthew 24:36, with the following sense: THESE all which concern Jerusalem shall come to pass before this generation passes away; but of THAT (remoter and last) day (of judgment) knoweth no one, etc. This observation facilitates the interpretation of the whole of this discourse. St Luke also contrasts with each other ταῦτα, these, and ἐκείνη, that. See Gnomon on Luke 21:36.— γινώσκετε, ye know, Indicative): Cf. Matthew 24:32, or know ye, Imperative.— ἐγγὺς, near) sc. the thing itself is.— ἐπὶ θύραις, at the doors) i.e. extremely near.


Verse 34

Matthew 24:34. γενεὰ, generation) sc. an age of men. This notion, which agrees with the event, corresponds most properly with the question, when? etc., proposed in ver, 3; cf. Matthew 24:15; Matthew 24:20, ch. Matthew 23:36; Luke 23:38. From the date of this prediction to the destruction of Jerusalem was a space of forty years, and from the true year of our Lord’s nativity to that event was a space of about seventy-five years. The Jews, however (as, for example, in Seder Olam), reckon seventy-five years as one generation, and the words, οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ, “shall not pass away,” intimate that the greater part of that generation, but not the whole of it, should have passed away before all the events indicated should have come to pass. The prediction is true with respect to either the forty or the seventy-five years.(1062) So accurately did the Evangelist describe it many years before the event took place.


Verse 35

Matthew 24:35. οὐρανὸς, heaven) The motion of which is otherwise regulated by the most unerring laws.— γῆ, the earth) which is otherwise most firmly founded.— λόγοι ΄ου, My words) The plural number is employed; cf. πάντα, all, Matthew 24:34, which is likewise plural.— οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσι, shall not pass away) q.d. My words shall correspond exactly with the event; although it does not appear so to men immediately. Heaven and earth will give place to the new heaven and new earth, which are described by My words. The firmness of the law is illustrated in a similar manner in ch. Matthew 5:18.


Verse 36

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.


Verse 38

Matthew 24:38. τρώγοντες, eating) This includes the arts of cookery, confectionary, and other matters connected with luxury. They were employed in this, and in nothing else.


Verse 39

Matthew 24:39. οὐκ ἔγνωσαν, knew not) Their ignorance was voluntary.


Verse 40-41

Matthew 24:40,(1065) 41. παραλαμβάνεται, is taken(1066)) sc. into safety, under protection; see Matthew 24:31.— ἀφίεται, is left) sc. in the midst of the dangers, whatever may occur.(1067) The present tense is used with reference to the time of the τότε, then; and the matter was already present to the Saviour’s eyes.


Verse 41

Matthew 24:41. ἀλήθουσαι, grinding) Grinding was an occupation of women.


Verse 42

Matthew 24:42. γρηγορεῖτε, watch(1068)) This was the reason, no doubt, that the names Gregory and Vigilantius were so common in the ancient Church. You may ask why those who were so far distant from the last day were exhorted to watchfulness on that ground? I answer—(1.) The remoteness of the event had not been indicated to them. (2.) Those who are alive at any particular time represent those who will be alive at the end of the world; see Gnomon on 1 Thessalonians 4:15. (3.) The principle of the Divine judgments, and of the uncertainty of the hour of death, resembles in every age that of the last day; and the hour of death is equivalent to the hour of resurrection and judgment, as though no time had been interposed. (4.) The feeling of the godly, which stretches forward to meet the Lord, is the same, whether with the longest or the shortest expectation. (5.) If every one had had to watch, from the time of the Apostles to the Lord’s coming, it would have been well worth the trouble of so doing.— κύριος ὑμῶν, your Lord) called in Matthew 24:44 the Son of Man.


Verse 43

Matthew 24:43.(1069) γινώσκετε, ye know.(1070)εἰ ᾔδει, if he had known) He would have watched; and that care on his part would not have been much to be wondered at.— ποίᾳ φυλακῇ, in what (Lat. quali) watch) It is supposed that the goodman of the house has been warned of the coming of the thief. In carnal concerns we are vigilant, even though we know not in what portion of the night our goods will be endangered, if we know only that the danger will occur either on this, or on one of the next few nights.— φυλακῇ, watch) although a watch is longer than an hour.— κλέπτης, the thief) The last temptation, arising from the concealment of that hour, accompanied by other circumstances of difficulty, is the most severe. For the nearer that the actual accomplishment of anything approaches, so much the more keen become both hope and fear; and, generally speaking, so much the more impatient of any, even the least, delay. And thus will it be with those who live during the last small portion of time, when the other events which precede it in Revelation 20 shall have come to pass.— οὐκ ἂν εἴασε, κ. τ. λ., he would not have allowed, etc.) by yielding to sleepiness.— διορυγῆναι, to be dug through(1071)) which would take some time to accomplish.


Verse 44

Matthew 24:44. ἔρχεται, cometh) The present tense.


Verse 45

Matthew 24:45. τίς ἄρα ἐστὶν, κ. τ. λ., who then is, etc.) Who is there who would wish to be such? The ἄρα (then) in Luke 12:42, refers to the question in the preceding verse; but here it expresses the magnitude and rarity of the matter.— πιστὸς καὶ φρόνιμος, faithful and prudent) Two cardinal virtues of a good servant, of which faithfulness (fides) is more frequently praised, because it is seated in the will, and has as its associate, prudence,(1072) given from above.— δοῦλος, servant) i.e. pastor. The article(1073) is emphatic.— θεραπείας,(1074) household) i.e. flock.— τοῦ διδόναι, to give) This refers to the epithet faithful.(1075) The opposite is exhibited in Matthew 24:49.— τὴν τροφὴν, their food) in just quality and measure; corresponding with the expression τὸ σιτομέτριον (their portion of meat) in Luke 12:42.— ἐν καιρῷ, in due season) This refers to the epithet prudent.


Verse 46

Matthew 24:46. εὑρήσει, shall find) Therefore we are not under compulsion.


Verse 48

Matthew 24:48. κακὸς δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος, THAT evil servant) whom the Lord knoweth.— χρονίζει, delayeth) See Matthew 25:5 [cf. Ecclesiastes 8:11].


Verse 49

Matthew 24:49. συνδούλους, fellow-servants) They are called fellow-servants, to bring out in strong relief the injurious character of that evil servant’s conduct towards them: they were, however, subject to him, though he with them was subject to their common Lord.— δὲ, but) His injurious conduct towards his fellow-servants, and his own self-indulgence, are put in strong contrast with each other.— μετὰ τῶν μεθυόντων, with the drunken) There will, therefore, at that time be many whose whole condition and character will consist in vicious self-indulgence. See 1 Thessalonians 5:7. A similar mode of speaking occurs in Genesis 13:5., where the LXX. have ἦλθον δὲ οἱ υἱοὶ ἰσραὴλ μετὰ τῶν ἐρχομένων, i.e. But the sons of Israel came with them that came.


Verse 50

Matthew 24:50. ἐν ἡμέρᾳ οὐ προσδοκᾷ, on a day on which he doth not expect) sc. Him to come. Cf. Matthew 24:44.


Verse 51

Matthew 24:51. διχοτομήσει, shall cut him in twain(1076)) A punishment frequent in ancient times, and an appropriate one for those who were διψύχοι, i.e. double-minded. The Hebrew נתח [to divide or cut in pieces] is thus rendered by the LXX. The hypocrite divides his soul and body in the worship of God; wherefore his soul and body shall be divided in eternal perdition. Eternal perdition is called death: all death, however, has this characteristic, that it deprives the body of its soul. Then neither the soul shall rejoice in the companionship of the body, nor the body in that of the soul, but it shall rather increase its death. Then will each of the damned be able to say with truth, “I am torn asunder” (disrumpor): cf. Hebrews 4:12, as to the force of the word with reference to the wicked. The twofold punishment corresponds to the twofold offence; viz., the cutting in twain to his smiting the men-servants and maid-servants, the portion with the hypocrites to his gluttony and drunkenness.— ὑποκριτῶν, hypocrites) Hypocrisy is a moral evil: the punishment of hypocrites is a specimen of punishment. In the parallel passage, Luke 12:46, we find ἀπίστων, unbelievers or faithless, i.e. those who are not faithful; cf. Matthew 24:45.— θήσει, shall appoint) by a judgment, just, severe, and irreversible.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 24:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/matthew-24.html. 1897.

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