William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.Matthew Chapter 24
In this prophecy of our Lord on which we are now to enter, we see a confirmation of a great principle of God: that He never opens out the future of judgments on the rebellious, and of deliverance for His own people, till sin has so developed itself as to manifest total ruin. Take the very first instances in the Bible. When was it said that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head? When the woman was beguiled, and man was in transgression through the wiles of the enemy; when sin had entered into the world, and death by sin. Again, the prophecy of Enoch, given us by Jude, was uttered when the term of God's patience with the then world was almost closed, and the flood was about to bear witness of His judgment on man's corruption and violence.
Thus, whether we look at the first prediction of Christ before the expulsion from Eden, or at the testimony of the Lord's coming to judge before the deluge, prophecy comes in when man has wholly broken down. So Noah, when failure in his own family, and in himself too, had come in, we see him led of the Holy Ghost into a prophetic summary of the whole world's history, beginning with the judgment of him who despised his father (even though it were to his own shame), and proceeding with the blessing of Shem and the portion of Japhet. So, later on, with the prophecies of Balaam and of Moses, "yea, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those that follow after;" for Samuel's is the striking epoch which the New Testament singles out as the commencement of the great line of the prophets. And why? It was the day when Israel openly abandoned God as their King, consummating the sin which their heart conceived in the desert, when they sought a captain in order to return into Egypt. It was a proud crisis in Israel, whose blessedness lay in being a people separated from all around by and to Jehovah their God, who would surely have provided them a king of His own choice, had they waited for Him, instead of choosing for themselves, to God's dishonour and their own degradation and sorrow, in order to be like the nations.
The same principle conspicuously applies to the time when the great prophetic books were written - Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest. It was when all present hope had fled, and David's sons wrought no deliverance, but rather through their towering iniquity and profane insults of God, He was at last morally forced to pronounce the nation Lo-ammi" - not My people." Before, and during, and after the captivity, the Spirit of prophecy laid bare the sin of kings, and priests, and prophets (false ones), and people, but pointed to the coming Messiah and the new covenant. And Him we have seen in our Gospel actually come, but growingly and utterly rejected by Israel, and all their own promises and hopes in Him; and now in the near prospect of His own death at their hands, and by it their worst of deaths, the rejected Lord takes up this prophetic strain.
"And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple." For what was it now? A corpse, and no more. "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."* "And His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, 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" (vers. 1, 2). The hearts of the disciples then, as too often now, were occupied with the present appearances, and the great show of grandeur in God's service; the halo of associations was bright before their eyes. But Jesus passes sentence on all that even they admired on earth. In truth, when He left the temple, all was gone which gave it value in the sight of God. Outside Jesus, what is there in this world but vain show or worse? And how does the Lord deliver His own from the power of tradition and every other source of attraction for the heart? He opens out the communications of His own mind, and casts the light of the future on the present. How often worldliness unjudged in a Christian's heart betrays itself by want of relish for God's unfolding of what He is going to do! How can I enjoy the coming of the Lord if it is to throw down much that I am seeking to build up in the world? A man, for instance, may be trying to gain or keep a status by his ability, and hoping that his sons may outstrip himself by the superior advantages they enjoy. On some such idea is founded all human greatness; it is "the world," in fact. Christ's coming again is a truth which demolishes the whole fabric; because, if we really look for His coming as that which may be from day to day - if we realize that we are set like servants at the door with the handle in hand, waiting for Him to knock (we know not how soon), and desiring to open to Him immediately ("Blessed are those servants!") - if such is our attitude, how can we have time or heart for that which occupies the busy Christ-forgetting world? Moreover, we are .not of the world, even as Christ is not; and as for means and agents to carry on its plans, the world will never be in lack of men to do its work. But we have a higher business, and it is beneath us to seek the honours of the world that rejects our Lord. Let our outward position be ever so menial or trying, what so glorious as in it to serve our Lord Christ? And He is coming.
*The Lord of the temple was rejected; the house of Israel was given up; the Glory was returning to heaven. (Compare Ezekiel 10:2-4; Eze 10:18-19, and Ezekiel 11:22-23.) When the judgments upon Israel have turned them back to the Lord, the Glory returns the same way it had departed. Compare Ezekiel 43:1-4, and Zechariah 14:1-9. Ed.
In the cross we see God humbling Himself - the only One of all greatness stooping low to save my soul - the only One who commands all, becoming the Servant of all. A person cannot receive the truth of the Cross without having in measure his walk in accord with the spirit of it. Yet how much saints of God regard the cross, not so much as that by which the world is crucified unto them and they unto the world, but rather as the remedy by which they are set free from fear, to make themselves a comfortable place in the world! The Christian ought to be the happiest of men; but his happiness should consist in what he knows is his portion in and with Christ. Meanwhile, our service and obedience are to be formed according to the spirit of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Man's evil and God's grace thoroughly came out in the cross; all met there: and upon this great truth is founded what is said often in Scripture, "The end of all things is at hand;" because all has been brought out in moral ways and in dispensational dealings between God and man.
The Lord takes up the disciples where they were. They were believing godly Jews. Their associations connected Christ and the temple together. They knew that He was the Messiah of Israel, and they expected Him to judge the Romans and gather all the scattered ones of the seed of Abraham from the four winds of heaven. They looked for all the prophecies about the land and the city to be accomplished. There was no thought in the minds of the disciples at this time of Jesus going to heaven and staying there for a long time, nor of the scattering of Israel, and the Gentiles being brought in to the knowledge of Christ. Consequently this great prophecy on the mount of Olives starts with the disciples and with their condition. Their hearts were too much occupied with the buildings of the temple. But the Lord, now rejected, announces that "there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." This excited greatly the desire of the disciples to understand how such things were to come to pass. They were aware from the prophecies that there was a time of dismal sorrow for Israel, and they did not know how to put this together with their predicted blessing. They ask Him, therefore, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming and the end of the world (age)?" (vers. 2, 3).
"Thy coming" means "the Lord's presence with them on earth;" and "the end of the age" is a totally different word from. that translated "world" elsewhere, it means here the end of the time during which our Lord should be absent from them. They wished to know the sign of His presence with them. They knew there could never be such desolation if their Messiah was reigning over them. They wished to know when the time of sorrow should come, and what should be the sign of His own presence that should close it and bring in unending joy.
"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" (vers. 4, 5). In the Epistles it is never exactly such a thought as warning persons against false Christs, for the Epistles are addressed to Christians; and a Christian could not be deceived by a man's pretensions to be Christ. It is most appropriate here, because the disciples are viewed in this chapter, not as the representatives of us Christians now, but of future godly Jews. We, as Christians, have nothing to do with the destruction of the temple; it does not affect us in any way. These disciples were, as the godly remnant of the nation, looking for the Messiah to bring in glory. The Lord, therefore, warns them that if any should arise among them, saying, I am Christ, they were not to believe them. The time was come when the true Messiah ought to appear. And He had appeared, but Israel had rejected Him, hardening themselves in the lie that our Lord could not be the promised One. But Israel had not given up the hope of the Messiah yet, and this exposes them to the delusion spoken of here (i.e., to persons saying, I am Christ). At any rate, the rejection of the true Christ lays them open to the reception of a false Christ. Our Lord had warned them of this. "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." If a messiah were to come full of self and Satan, the nation should be given up to receive the false, as a just retribution for having rejected the True. The disciples were the representatives of godly Jews, and were warned of what should befall their nation. But take the epistle of John and what have you there? "Beloved, believe not every spirit." Why? Because the great thing that the Church is distinguished by is the presence of the Holy Ghost; and the deceit which we have to watch against is false spirits, not false Christs, though there are many antichrists. The danger of Christians is grieving the Holy Ghost - nay, listening to false spirits. "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world." There are false prophets now, and evil spirits work in them. In these days, faith both in the Holy Ghost and in Satan's power is very much weakened. People only look at the man; whereas Scripture makes a great deal of God and of Satan. What gives Satan power over a professor of the name of Christ is the allowance of sin. Satan has not one atom of power against a child of God who is looking to Jesus; but where self is allowed, it is an opportunity for Satan to come in.
Here it is a question of false Christs, because our Lord was speaking to the disciples about Jewish circumstances and hopes, though he afterwards turns to Christian subjects. The prophecy consists of three great parts. The Jewish remnant have their history thoroughly described; then comes the portion of Christians, and afterwards that of the Gentiles. The prophecy divides itself into these three sections. The Jews are first brought forward, because the disciples were not yet taken out of their Jewish position: only when Christ was crucified was the wall of partition broken down. Our Lord's intention was to take up a Jewish remnant and show that there would be a company in the latter day on the same ground as these disciples - the Christian would come in between. This we have described in the latter part of the chapter, and in the greater part of Matthew 25. Then we have the Gentiles, "all nations," gathered before the Son of Man. Such is the thread of connection between the parts of this great discourse.
"Many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet" (vers. 5, 6). Observe, there are two great moral warnings given by our Lord. First, they were to beware of a true hope falsely applied. False Christs would take advantage of the fact that the Jews ought to be looking for Christ, and they would pretend to be Christ. Secondly, they might be terrified by the enemy who knows how to use such circumstances. Verse 6, therefore, guards them against alarms: "Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars." Clearly this is not for the Christian, for where does the Holy Ghost warn the Christian about trouble from wars and rumours of wars? We find nothing about it in the Epistles, where the Christian Church is properly brought out? Is this denying the importance of the Lord's warning? God forbid!
But the portion we are looking at does not refer to Christians, but to the Jewish disciples as they then were, and as they will be. Our calling takes place after our Lord went to heaven and before He returns in glory, whereas the Jewish remnant will be found in the latter day on similar ground and with hopes like those the disciples had whom our Lord was here addressing. If we want to put things rightly together in the word of God, we must notice what and to whom He speaks. If I, a Gentile, take up the language of a Jew, a great mistake is made; or if a Christian adopt the language of either Jew or Gentile, there is again an equal mistake. Therefore it is that such stress is laid on "rightly dividing the word of truth." We find various ways of God according to His sovereign will about those with whom He is dealing, and we must take care to apply His word aright. The disciples, as the Jewish remnant, having a peculiar calling in a particular land, the land of Judea, if they heard of wars and rumours of wars, they were not to be troubled: "For all these things must come to pass; but the end is not yet." Do we ever find the apostles saying, The end is not yet, for us? On the contrary, it is said of us (1 Cor. 10), "Upon whom the ends of the world are come;" whereas, the Lord in addressing the Jewish remnant, says, "the end is not yet" - because many things must yet be accomplished before the Jews can come into their blessing. But for Christians, all things even now are ours in Christ; the blessing is never put off, though we await the crown at His coming.
Practically, too, the difference is immensely important; for the Christian is not of the world, even as Christ is not, which could not be equally said of the Jewish body to be called in the latter day. For us "wars and rumours of wars" ought not to be a source of trouble, though surely they should be an occasion of holy concern and intercession in the spirit of grace, and this for all engaged. The Jewish remnant, on the contrary, will not be separated after this heavenly manner; and the earthly struggles which will then rage in and around the land cannot but affect them greatly: so that they will need especially to cherish confidence in the Saviour's words, and not be troubled as if the issue were a doubtful one, or themselves forgotten in that dark day. They must wait patiently; "for nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." It is evident that the language is only applicable in its full force to Jews - believing ones, no doubt, but still Jews in the midst of a nation judicially chastised for their apostasy from God and the rejection of their own Messiah.
The Lord therefore prepares the Jewish disciples or remnant for their special trials, partially true after His own departure till Jerusalem's destruction, and to be more fully verified before Jerusalem is again owned, after the destruction of the Antichrist. "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations [or the Gentiles] for My name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another" (vers. 9, 10). There should be false profession and hatred of the true, even among themselves - not only troubles without: "And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold; but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Thus there is a certain defined period of endurance - an end to come as truly as there was a beginning of sorrows. But what trial, and darkness, and suffering, and scandal before that end comes! When our Lord, in the Gospel of John, speaks of the Christian's lot, he never names either a beginning or an end, but rather implies that tribulation should be expected throughout his career: "In the world ye shall have tribulation." And such is the constant language and thought in the Epistles, where beyond question our calling is in view.
Then follows a final sign. "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (ver. 14). The gospel of God's grace is not the same as the gospel of the kingdom. Both should be preached - that God is saving souls of His mere favour now through Christ; and that there is a kingdom which He is going to establish by His power shortly, which is to embrace all the earth. Before the end come, there will therefore be a special testimony of this coming of the Lord, as He here intimates. So in Revelation 14 an angel is seen by John in the prophetic vision, having the everlasting gospel to preach to the dwellers on earth and to every nation, and "saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come; and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Now it cannot be said that the hour of His judgments is come; for it is, on the contrary and expressly, the day of His grace and salvation. Clearly, therefore, the inference is that, just before the close of this age, there will be a remarkable energy of the Spirit in the midst of the Jews; and from that very people who rejected Jesus of old, messengers of the kingdom shall go forth, touched by His grace, to announce the speedy fall of divine judgment and the establishment of the kingdom of the heavens in power and glory. Who, in God's mercy, so suited to proclaim the returning Messiah as some out of the very nation who of old had nailed Him to the cross - to proclaim Him now among all the proud Gentiles whose then representative had inscribed over His cross, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews "? The testimony shall go forth universally, then. How humbling for Christendom! with popery, with Mohammedanism, and paganism too, still prevalent over Asia and Africa - the great bulk of mankind. And yet Christian men close their eyes to the plainest and most solemn facts, and boast of the triumphs of the gospel! No: the Gentiles have been wise in their own conceits, though sovereign grace has wrought, spite of all; but it is reserved for other witnesses, when the "falling away" shall have been complete in Christendom and the man of sin revealed, to proclaim the coming kingdom in all the habitable earth.
In verse 15 the Lord shows us, not general tokens of the approaching end, or what should distinguish the end in general from the earlier throes of Israel, but points to circumstances of the most definite character, which may be applied perhaps partially to what occurred before the fall of Jerusalem under Titus, but which can only be fulfilled in the future of Israel if we duly heed the peculiarity of the scene, the connection of the prophecy, and, above all, the consummation in which all is to terminate.
First, then, our Lord points to a Jewish prophet. "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand,)" etc. The parenthesis warns that the prediction might be misunderstood - at any rate, demanded attention. Two passages of the prophecy (Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11) speak of this abomination; but I have no hesitation in saying that the former was a foreshadowing of the doings of Antiochus Epiphanes centuries before Christ, and that the latter is the one referred to here, and still unaccomplished. Entirely distinct from the epoch of Antiochus, Dan. 12 speaks of another idol which brings desolation in its train, and this expressly "at the time of the end." "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." in this we have another link of connection with our Lord's words - "whoso readeth, let him understand." "And from the time that the daily [sacrifice] shall be taken away and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days." Thus, besides the idolatrous evil imposed by the notorious king of the north, Antiochus, long before the Lord appeared, Daniel looks onward to a similar evil at the close of Israel's sorrows, the destruction of which immediately precedes their final deliverance. "Blessed is he that waiteth." As to this last, our Lord cites the Jewish prophet, and casts further light on the selfsame time and circumstances.
The conclusion is clear and certain: in verse 15 of Matthew 24 our Lord alludes to that part of Daniel which is yet future, not to what was history when He spoke this on the mount of Olives. I am aware that some have confounded the matter with what we read in Dan. 8 and 9. But "the transgression of desolation" is not the same as "the abomination of desolation"; nor can we absolutely identify "the last end of the indignation" with "the time of the end." (Compare Isa. 10.) The distinctions of Scripture are as much to be noted as the points of resemblance and of contact. The last verse of Dan. 9 might seem to have stronger claims. There we have a covenant confirmed for one week; and then, in the midst of the week, sacrifice and oblation are made to cease; after which, because of the protection given to abominations, or idols, there is a desolator "even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (i.e., Jerusalem). I have thus given what I conceive to be the true sense of this important passage, because, when it is stated with precision, the supposed resemblance to "the abomination of desolation" disappears. A desolator who comes because of the wing (i.e., protection) of abominations is very distinct from the abomination that makes desolate, or the idol which is yet to stand in the sanctuary. With the setting up of this abomination the date of one thousand two hundred and ninety days is connected. Even for those who interpret this as so many years, it is impossible to apply the prophecy to the destruction of Jerusalem or its temple by the Romans. Had it been so, the period of blessing must long ere this have arrived for Israel. Has the prophecy then failed? No; but the readers have failed in understanding it. We must correct, not the language of Scripture, but our interpretations: we must go back to God's word again and again, and see whether we have not mistaken our bearings.
The truth is that the understanding of Dan. 12 is of all moment for reaping due profit from Matt. 24. In its first verse we have a plain landmark: "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people." There can be no just doubt that Daniel's people means the Jews, and that a mighty intervention on their behalf is intimated; but, as usual, not without the severest trial of faith. For "there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time." This our Lord has unquestionably in view in verse 21: "Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." There cannot be two tribulations for the same people, each of which is greatest: both statements refer to the same trouble. Now Daniel is positive that "at that time thy people (the Jews) shall be delivered." Who can pretend that Michael stood up for Israel against Titus any more than against Nebuchadnezzar? Does not everybody know that at that time, far from being delivered, they were completely vanquished by the Romans, ,and that those who escaped the sword were sold as slaves and scattered over the world? God was then against, not for, Israel; and, as the King in the parable, He was wroth, sent forth His armies, destroyed those murderers, and fired their city. Here, on the contrary, the unequalled hour of sorrow is just before their deliverance on God's part, not before their captivity.
Carrying this back to our chapter, the sight of the desolating idol in the holy place is the signal for flight. "Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains" (ver. 16). There is no thought of a sign to Christians as such, but to Jewish disciples in the holy land; and this that they may instantly retire from the scene of danger. "Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days!" (vers. 17-19.) It has been tried to find in this the warning on which some fled to Pella in the interval after the Roman lieutenant surrounded the city, and before the final sack under the victorious commander. But this arises from confounding Luke 21:20-24 with Matthew 24:15-21; whereas they are demonstrably distinct, spite of a measure of analogy between them. It perfectly fell within the province given of the Spirit to the great Gentile Evangelist to notice the past Roman siege, as well as the present supremacy of the nations which tread down Jerusalem till their times are fulfilled. Matthew, however, had his own proper task in giving the grand future crisis, at least from verse 15. And it is evident that as the abomination in the holy place differs widely from armies compassing Jerusalem, so there was ample space for the most leisurely departure from the menaced city (yes, for the most impeded and infirm of either sex to go) after Cestius Gallus withdrew. I conclude, therefore, that by Matthew our Lord gives us what bears on the time of the end; by Luke, what refers to the past, and the present too, cursorily, as well as the future. Matthew, for instance, could not speak, like Luke, of Jerusalem being trodden down of the Gentiles, because he is here occupied only with the horrors which immediately precede Israel's blessing and deliverance. Luke has both an earlier and a later time of trouble: Matthew, from verse 15, confines himself to this latter time.
"But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (vers. 20, 21). How considerate the Lord is! And how surely His disciples in that day may count on His care, that their petitions will be answered, so that, urgent as their flight must be, neither the inclement season nor the day of Jewish rest shall hinder! Here again is another proof that not Christians, but His Jewish followers, are here contemplated. Holy as is the Sabbath, I have no hesitation in saying that the Lord's day, with which the Church has to do, is founded on a deeper sanctity. The believer has now to beware, on the one hand of confounding the Sabbath with the Lord's day, and on the other of supposing that, because the Lord's day is not the Sabbath, it may therefore be turned to a selfish or worldly account. The Sabbath is the holy memorial of creation and of the law, as the Lord's day is of grace and of the new creation in the resurrection of the Saviour. As Christians we are neither of the old creation nor under the law, but stand on the totally different ground of Christ dead and risen. The Sabbath was for man and the Jew - the last day of the week, and one simply of rest, to be shared with the ox and the ass. This is not the Christian idea, which begins the week with the Lord, gives the best to Him in worship, and is free to labour for Him to all lengths in the midst of the world's sin and misery.
Thus we have at every step a fresh testimony to the real bearing of the prophecy. For us the holy place is in heaven, not in Jerusalem; for us it is no question of escaping some unexampled tribulation, but of being prepared for suffering with and for Christ, and rejoicing in it always; for us, gathered out of all nations and tongues, the mountains round Judea are no suited hiding-place; nor could the winter or the Sabbath day be a just source of alarm. Every word is for us to ponder and profit by; but the evidence unmistakably points to a converted body of Jews in the latter day, not standing in Church light and privilege, but having Jewish hopes; and while awaiting the Messiah, warned how to escape the deceits and overwhelming trouble of that day. It is a question of flesh being saved (ver. 22), and not of fellowship with Christ's sufferings and conformity to His death, so as, whatever the cost, to have part in the resurrection from among the dead. Hence, too, there is no thought here of Christ's coming to receive us to Himself and to give us mansions where He is in the Father's house, but of His appearing in glory to destroy enemies, to judge what was dead and offensive to God, and to deliver the scattered elect of Israel. For their sake, those days of terror should be shortened. With this agree the warnings in verses 23-28: "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders," etc. (vers. 23, 24.) Could such a delusion be addressed even to the simplest Christian who waits for the Son of God from heaven? Yet it is very intelligible if we think of these future Jewish disciples, who might expect something akin from a prediction such as Zech. 14, where we find that the mount of Olives is the appointed spot on which Jehovah-Messiah is yet to stand. We can well conceive rumours for such saints that Messiah was in the desert or in the secret chambers: they might deceive those who expected to meet the Lord on earth, not those who know that they are to join Him and the risen ones in the air (1 Thess. 4; 2 Thess. 2).
The manner of His presence for delivering the Jews is then made known as the guard against their deceits: "For as the lightning cometh," etc. The figures (vers. 27, 28), which illustrate the presence of the Son of Man, convey the thought of sudden, terrible manifestation, and of rapid, inevitable judgment on what is then but a lifeless body before God, whatever may have been its pretensions. Nothing like this is spoken of, however, when Scripture describes the descent of the Lord to receive His risen saints. And what is the result of thus misapplying these verses? The revolting interpretation that "the carcass" means Christ, and "the eagles" the transfigured saints, or the converse, calls for censure, not comment. Nor is it needful to refute the claim set up for the Roman standards. Applied to Israel, all is simple. The carcass represents the apostate part of that nation; the eagles, or vultures, are the figure of the judgments that fall upon it. It is not only that there will be the lightning-like display of Christ in judgment, but the agents of His wrath shall know where and how to deal with that which is abominable in God's sight. The allusion is to Job 39:30.
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened," etc. (vers. 29-31). I can hardly be asked to notice the old effort to apply these verses to the Roman triumph over Jerusalem. On the face of it, could this be said to be "immediately after the tribulation?" or was it not rather the crowning of Jewish sorrow? - not the glorious reversal of their sufferings by a divine deliverance. Whatever prodigies Josephus reports, were rather during the tribulation he records; whereas the signs spoken of here, literal or figurative, are to follow "the tribulation of those days" (i.e., the future crisis of Jerusalem). No; One greater than Titus is here; and an event is announced in connection with that poor people, which will change the face and condition of all nations. "Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." The elect throughout are the chosen seed of Israel (vers. 22, 24, 31. Compare Isaiah 65.) Other elect there are, no doubt; but we, must ever interpret by the context; and this in the present case seems perfectly evident. The Son of Man in heaven, and seen there, is, I conceive, the sign to those on earth. This fills all the tribes with mourning; and Christ visibly comes to judgment. Other scriptures show that the heavenly saints have been already translated, and are then to accompany their Lord; but here nothing of this appears. It would have been premature. Besides, the object of this portion of the prophecy is to show His coming for the relief and ingathering of His elect out of Israel. Hence, it is as Son of Man (that is, judicially, see John 5:27) that He is present; and hence, too, He sends His angels with loud trumpet-sound. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem" (Isaiah 27:13). It is the proclamation, not alone of the acceptable year of the Lord, but of the day of God's vengeance. "And ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel." The four winds in connection with Israel are no difficulty, but rather the contrary. (See Zechariah 2:6.) As the Lord had scattered and spread them abroad "as the four winds of the heaven," so now are His chosen ones to be gathered in.
The general outline and the special view of the Jewish portion have been given thus far in chapter 24. This is next illustrated, both from nature (vers. 32, 33), and from Scripture (vers. 34, 35), and closed by a suitable application (vers. 42-44).
"From the fig-tree learn the [or, its] parable" (ver. 32). The fig-tree is the well-known symbol of Jewish nationality. We saw it, in Matthew 21, bearing nothing but leaves - that generation given up to the curse of perpetual fruitlessness, whatever grace may do for the generation to come. In Luke 21 the word is, "Behold the fig-tree and all the trees," because the Holy Ghost all through, and notably in that chapter, introduces the Gentiles. Luke takes in a larger scope than Matthew, and expressly treats of Jerusalem's sorrows in connection with "the times of the Gentiles." Hence the difference even in the illustrative figures. Here it is the tree, with renewed signs of life - Jewish nationality revived: "When its branch has now become tender and the leaves are shooting, ye know that summer is nigh; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is nigh by the doors" (i.e., the end of this age, and the beginning of the next under Messiah and the new covenant). But solemnly the Saviour warns that "this generation," this Christ-rejecting race in Israel, shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled!
The notion that all was fulfilled in the past siege of Jerusalem, founded on a narrow and unscriptural sense of this passage, is from not hearing what the Lord says to the disciples. By the term "generation" in a genealogy (as Matt. 1), or where the context requires it (as Luke 1:50), a life-time no doubt is meant: but where is it so used in the prophetic Scriptures - the Psalms, etc.? The meaning herein is moral rather than chronological; as, for instance, in Psalm 12:7, "Thou shalt keep them, O Lord; Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." The words "for ever" prove a prolonged force; and accordingly the passage intimates that Jehovah shall preserve the godly from their lawless oppressors, "from this generation for ever." It is a distinct and conclusive refutation of those who would limit the phrase to the short epoch of a man's lifetime. So, in Deuteronomy 32:5; Deu 32:20, we find generation similarly used, not to convey a period, but to express the moral characteristics of Israel. Again, in the Psalms we have "the generation to come," which is not confined to a mere term of thirty or a hundred years. So also in Proverbs 30:11-14: "There is a generation that curseth their father. . . There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes," etc., where the character of certain classes is considered; even plainer, if possible, is the usage in the synoptic Gospels. Thus, in Matthew 11:16, "Whereunto shall I liken this generation?" means such as then lived, characterized by the moral capriciousness which set them in opposition to God's testimony, whatever it might be, in righteousness or in grace. But evidently, though people then alive are primarily in view, the moral identity of the same features might extend indefinitely, and so from age to age it would still be "this generation." Compare Matthew 12:39; Mat 12:41-42; Mat 12:45, which last verse shows the unity of the "generation" in its final judgment (not yet exhausted) with that which emerged from the Babylonish captivity. Again, note chapter 23: 36, "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation" - a generation which would continue till all the predictions of judgment that Christ uttered shall be fulfilled (chap. 24: 34). As it is plain from what has been already shown, that much remains to be accomplished, "this generation" still subsists, and will, till all is over. And how true it is! Here are the Jews - the wonder of every thoughtful mind - not merely a broken, scattered, and withal perpetuated race; not only distinct, spite of mighty effort from without to blot them out, and from within to amalgamate with others, but with the same unbelief, rejection and scorn of Jesus their Messiah as on the day He pronounced their sentence. All these things - speaking of their earlier and their latest sorrows - should come to pass before that wicked generation shall disappear. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." That which incredulity counts most stable, the scene of its idolatry or )f its self-exaltation, shall vanish; but the words of Christ, let them be about Israel or others, shall abide for ever.
But if all be thus sure and unfailing, the Father alone knows the day and hour (ver. 36). Ample and distinct signs the Saviour had announced already, and the wise shall understand; "but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand." "But as the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not till the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be" (vers. 37-39). Here is another testimony that our Lord in this position speaks of the Jewish disciples of the latter day (represented by those who then surrounded Him), and not of the Church. For His illustration is taken from the preservation of Noah and his house through the waters of the deluge; whereas the Holy Ghost, through Paul, illustrates our hope according to the pattern of Enoch, caught up to heaven, entirely apart from the scenes and circumstances of judgment here below.
Moreover, when the Son of Man thus comes in judgment upon living men here below, it will not be, as when the Romans or others took Jerusalem, indiscriminate slaughter or captivity; but whether in the open country or the duties of home, whether men or women, there will be righteous discernment of individuals. "Then shall two be in the field, the one is taken and the other left; two women grinding at the mill, the one is taken and the other left" (vers. 40, 41). The meaning clearly is that one is taken away judicially, and the other left to enjoy the blessings of Christ's reign, who shall judge God's people with righteousness and His poor with judgment. It is the converse of our change, when the dead in Christ shall rise first, and we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air; for those who are left, in our case, are left to be punished with everlasting destruction from His presence. But the Lord will also have an earthly people. He waits till the heavenly saints are gathered to Him above, and then begins to sow, if I may thus speak, for earthly blessing, in which case His coming as Son of Man will be for the removal of the wicked, leaving the righteous undisturbed in peace. "There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. His name shall endure for ever: His name shall continue as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed. - Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen" (Psalm 72:16-19).
"Watch therefore, for ye know not at what hour (or day*) your Lord is coming." The dealings with Israel, ending with the rescue of the just in their midst, involve the judgment of the self-secure and unconscious world. Accordingly, in these transitional verses (42-44) we have an allusion to a wider sphere than the Jews or their land, in which the godly remnant would be found - protected, but still there. God would know how to deliver the godly out of temptation. There they are, however, surrounded by snares and foes, but preserved: a totally different position from ours, who will previously be taken above, in the sovereign grace and wisdom of our Saviour. "But know this, that if the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in an hour when ye think not the Son of Man is coming." The object is evidently a practical warning to the godly on earth to be ready. They had been comforted in view of trouble and violence; they had been set on their guard against the religious deceits of the old serpent; they had been solemnly assured of the stability of the Lord's words in the very point where Gentile conceit has misled even true believers; they are now exhorted to vigilance and readiness for their coming Lord, that they might not only escape the fowlers, but stand before the Son of Man. For the world, it will be like the unexpected thief, breaking in upon them in their supposed security.
* Ἥμέρα, day (instead of the common reading ὥρα, "hour,") has excellent authority.
From verse 45 to Matthew 25:30, we enter on the parables which pertain to Christendom only, and not to the Jewish remnant. We may regard it as an appendix to the Jewish aspect of which the Lord had been speaking thus far. Hence here we have so distinct a portraiture of profession, true and false. Whenever we touch what is properly " Christian, God deals with the heart and conscience. He is calling out and forming those who are to be the companions of His Son in heavenly glory. Therefore nothing is passed by; all is judged of God in its real light. Hence, too, there is no limit here of either place or people. Christianity is above time, and of and for heaven, though it may be divulged in fact on earth during the gap in the dispensations of God made by the rejection of Israel for a season. Christianity is a revelation of grace flowing from Him who now speaks not from earth but from heaven. It is not, I need hardly insist, that evil is slighted. No mistake can be more profound or fatal than that grace implies levity about sin. On the contrary, grace is the very strongest condemnation of all evil, as it is indeed not the mere claim of what man ought to be toward God, but the revelation of what God is toward man in the judgment of his sin in the cross of Christ. Therefore, it is the fullest display of divine hatred and judgment of evil; but this is in Christ, at the cost of His own beloved Son, so as to save the most guilty who believe. When dealing with His earthly people under the law, many things were allowed, for the hardness of their heart, which never had His sanction. But when the complete display of grace shines, as it does now, evil is not borne with but judged. Such is Christianity in principle and in fact. And hence it is that, for the true Christian, all the time for his earthly sojourn is a season of self-judgment; or if he fail in this, the assembly is bound to judge his ways; and if they fail, the Lord judges him and them, holily, but in grace, that they should not be condemned with the world. He may expose false profession here, and now, if He see fit, but the end of it we see in all these three parables. Grace never winks at evil; and if evil take advantage of grace for its own purposes, the issue is frightful, and it will be manifestly so at the coming of the Lord.
And this leads me to remark that the Lord's coming has a two-fold character. First of all, there is His coming in full grace, entirely apart from all question of our service, and consequently of special rewards in the kingdom in which we are to be manifested along with Christ. But we must bear in mind that this manifestation to the world in the future kingdom is far from being the highest part of His glory or even ours, as it does not elicit the deepest exercise of His grace. In receiving us to Himself, on the other hand, all is purely from Himself. It is His own love who would thus have us with and as Himself. It is thus we find John puts the coming of Christ in His Gospel (Matthew 14); nor am I aware that it is ever treated otherwise there. In the Revelation we find both ways. In the first chapter the testimony is, "Behold, He cometh with the clouds," etc. Plainly there is no trace of the saints caught up there, but "Every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him." The Bride nowhere appears in that scene, but rather what is public and affects the world universally, and especially the blood-guilty Jews; and all are mourning. But the last chapter could not close without letting us know that there is, spite of all evil and woe and judgment, such an one as the Bride awaiting her heavenly Bridegroom. No sooner does He announce Himself the root and offspring of David, the bright and Morning Star, than the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." Here we have the intimate intercourse of heart between the Lord and the Church. It is impossible for any one not born of God to say "Come," though there may be those who are so born and yet ignorant of their full privilege of union with Christ. And for them, I doubt not, gracious provision is made in the word, "Let him that heareth say, Come." But in no case can the world or an unforgiven soul take up such a call; to such it would indeed be the madness of presumption, for to them His coming must be sure and endless destruction. Again, it is not merely saving flesh, or deliverance out of misery and danger by the overthrow of their enemies: the Holy Ghost never puts the aspect of Christ's coming for us in any such light. We shall have rest, and those who trouble us shall have tribulation in the day of His appearing; but we go to meet the Saviour, and to be with Him for ever; and meanwhile, it is our sweet earthly privilege to suffer for His sake now. We are left for a while in a world where everything is against us because against Him, and we belong to Him. But we know that He waits to come for us, and we wait for Him from heaven; and while the waiting lasts, we are to expect, if faithful to the Lord, nothing but suffering from the world; yet happy in it, assured that glory in heaven and the cross on earth go together. The cup of trial, the reproach and scorn of men, maybe less at one time than another. This is for our Father to give as He sees fit. But if we look for aught else as our natural portion here as Christians, we are unfaithful to our calling. Rejection is ours because we are His: "Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not."
As the Bridegroom, then, the Lord has nothing but love in His heart to the Bride. Nor is there a question of any save His own. He has told them He is coming; and the greater the power of the Spirit in the soul, the more ardently does the Bride say, 'Come." In this heavenly meeting of the Lord with the Bride, how incongruous that other eyes should see, or that wailing throngs should intrude into or witness such a meeting! Scripture does not so speak.
The Jew, the world, which refused the true Christ, will receive the Antichrist. This is what men will fall into; and in the midst of their delusion and apparent triumph the Lord will come in judgment. But when He thus comes, it will not be alone. Others, His heavenly saints, appear along with Him in glory. This is what we see in Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, and with detail in Rev. 19. Not angels only, but His saints follow Him out of heaven, clothed in white linen, and on white horses, according to the striking figures of the Apocalypse. The saints had been in heaven before the day of the world's judgment. They must have been removed from earth to heaven before this, in order to follow Him out of heaven and be with Him when that day dawns; and this could only have been through His coming to receive them to Himself. Hence, again, it appears that His coming has a double character, according to the object of each of its steps or stages. He comes to gather to Himself all His saints, dead or living, and shall present them in the Father's house, that where He is, there they may be also. In due time afterwards He brings them with Him, judging the Beast and the false Prophet, the Jews, and the Gentiles, as well as every false professor of His name. This is still His coming, or state of presence: only now it is (what the former act, when He takes us to be with Him, is never called) His "appearing," the "shining forth of His coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:8), His "revelation," and His "day."
With this second act of the Lord's coming, or His "day," is connected the appraisal of our service, and the assigning of reward for work that has been done. For all must be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ, and each must receive the things done in the body, whether good or bad. Some find a difficulty in bowing to both truths; but if subject to the Word, we shall overlook neither the common blessedness of the saints in the full grace of the Saviour at His coming, nor the recognition of individual faithfulness, or the lack of it, in the rewards of the kingdom. When we read of the many mansions, we are not to dream of one being more glorious than another. The truth conveyed is that we are to be as near and dear as sons can be in the Father's presence, through the perfect love and work of the Son. In this point of view I see no difference whatever. All are brought absolutely nigh, all loved with the love wherewith Christ was loved, and having His portion, as far as can be for the creature. But am I therefore to deny that "every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour?" or that in some cases the work will abide, as in others it will be burnt? or that, as the parable teaches, one servant may receive ten cities, and another five?
It will be found accordingly, that there is a close connection in Scripture between Christ's day, or appearing, and present exhortations to fidelity. Thus, Timothy is exhorted to keep the commandment without spot, unrebukable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus. So the apostle, in 2 Timothy 4, speaks of the "crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." The results of faithfulness, or of unfaithfulness, are only manifested then. It is the day of display before the world; and "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:4). Hence it is as awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus that the apostle speaks of the Corinthian saints as coming short in no gift, and at once brings in the thoughts of His day. So Christ's day is the blessed end and solemn test of all, in writing to the Philippians. Of the epistles to the Thessalonians I need say the less, as they present in the clearest way both these truths.
Returning now to the first of the three parables (ver. 45) which refer to the Christian profession, I would make the general remark, from what we have been examining, that while the words "appearing," "day," etc., are special (and never used, I think, except where responsibility is concerned) the word "coming" is general; and though applicable, if the context so require it, to cases of responsibility, it is in itself of wider character and is used therefore to express our Lord's return in nothing but grace. In other words, the appearing, day, or revelation of Christ is still His coming or presence; but His coming does not necessarily mean His appearing, revelation, or day. He may come without appearing, and I believe that there is proof from Scripture that so it is when He receives us to Himself on high; but His "appearing" is that further stage of His coming again, when every eye shall see Him.
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household to give them meat in due season?" It is not a question of evangelizing here, but of care for the household. The principle of trading outside with the Master's gifts will come by and by (Matthew 25:14, et seq.); but here the great thing is that, as the Lord loves His saints ("whose house are we") so He makes much of faithful or faithless service within that sphere. For I need not say that faithfulness to the Lord involves no denial of the ministry He provides. Ministry when real is of God; though the mode in which it is exercised is often wrong and unscriptural. Ministry is not Jewish, but characteristic of Christianity. But it is a thing very apt to lose its true character. Instead of being Christ's servants in His household, many sink into the agents of a particular body. In such a case it always flows from the church or denomination. Real ministry is from Christ and Him alone. Therefore the apostle says he was the servant or bondman of Jesus Christ, never deriving his mission from the Church or being responsible to it for his work. The gospel and the Church were the spheres of his service (Col. 1); but its giver and his Lord was Christ Himself exclusively. It appears to me that this is necessary, in order that ministry should be recognized as divine; and nothing but divine Ministry is owned in Scripture, nor should be by God's people now. This, then, is the first thing our Lord insists on, that the faithful and wise servant whom the Lord makes ruler over His household be found doing His work, caring for what is so near to Christ. It is a most painful proof of the low state of the Church in these days that such service is regarded as "waste" of precious ointment. So completely have even God's children fallen from the thought of true ministry that they think it idleness or proselytism to attend to those that are within. Why not preach to those without, say they, and seek to bring such to the knowledge of Christ? But this is not the first thing our Lord presses. The "faithful and wise servant" had to do with those within: his object was to give them their meat in due season; and the Lord pronounces that servant blessed., "Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing." Others might raise questions as to the servant's title; but He simply says, If I find you "so doing," blessed are you. The great point is to be doing His will. It is not title or position, but doing the work which the Lord wishes to be done.
But now comes the other side of the picture. "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants and to eat and drink with the drunken" (vers. 48, 49). There you have the great danger of the professed servants of Christ in this world. First, wronging the fellow-servants by assuming an arbitrary place. Authority is right where it is exercised under obedience to Christ. No change of circumstances or condition alters the truth that the Lord remains head of the Church, and raises up servants at all times to carry out His wishes with authority. But here it is man's will, where the servant takes the place of the Master, and begins to smite his fellow-servants. Secondly, along with that, there is evil communication with the world. It is not said that he is himself drunken; but there is association with the world. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." Where the thought of the Lord is gone, ministry loses its true character. There will be oppression towards those within, and evil commerce with those without. "The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (vers. 50, 51), It supposes that the servant still pursues the same course, and is found there when the Lord comes - his heart thoroughly with the world. He began by saying in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming. This is far more than wrong thoughts about the coming of the Lord, which some saints might hold without this Scripture applying to them. If there were, on the other hand, persons professing to look for the Lord's coming and acting as if they did not believe it, they are much more like the servant saying in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming. What the Lord judges is not a mere mistake or doctrinal blunder; but it is the state of the heart - content that Christ should stay away. If we are desiring something great and of esteem among men, how can we say, "Come?" His coming would spoil all our schemes. We may talk about the Lord's coming and be learned about prophecy; but the Lord looks at the heart and not at the appearance. Let the profession be ever so loud or high, He see where souls cleave to the world and do not want Him.
And Jesus said unto them, 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.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
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.
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.
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.
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
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.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For 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.
Behold, I have told you before.
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.