Matthew 24:37
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) As the days of Noe were.—Here again we note an interesting coincidence with the Epistles of St. Peter, both of which teem, more than any other portions of the New Testament, with references to the history to which the mind of the writer had been directed by his Master’s teaching, 1Peter 3:20; 2Peter 2:5; 2Peter 3:6. This is, perhaps, all the more noticeable from the fact that the report of the discourse in St. Mark does not give the reference, neither indeed does that in St. Luke, but substitutes for it a general warning-call to watchfulness and prayer. Possibly (though all such conjectures are more or less arbitrary) the two Evangelists who were writing for the Gentile Christians were led to omit the allusion to a history which was not so familiar to those whom they had in view as it was to the Hebrew readers of St. Matthew’s Gospel.

Matthew 24:37-41. But as the days of Noe were, &c. — As then they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, till they were surprised by the flood, notwithstanding the frequent warnings and admonitions of that preacher of righteousness: so now, they shall be engaged in the business and pleasures of the world, little expecting, little thinking of this universal ruin, till it come upon them, notwithstanding the express predictions and declarations of Christ and his apostles. Then shall two be in the field, &c. — That is, Providence will then make a distinction between such as are not at all distinguished now. Some shall be rescued from the destruction of Jerusalem, like Lot out of the burning of Sodom; while others, nowise different in outward circumstances, shall be left to perish in it. Two women shall be grinding at the mill — A passage in Dr. E. Daniel Clarke’s Travels in Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land, published in 1812, (p. 428,) may fitly be quoted here. “Scarcely had we reached the apartment prepared for our reception,” (namely, in Nazareth,) “when, looking from the window into the court-yard belonging to the house, we beheld two women grinding at the mill in a manner most forcibly illustrating a saying of our Saviour’s. In the centre of the upper stone was a cavity for pouring in the corn, and by the side of this an upright wooden handle for moving the stone. As the operation began, one of the women, with her right hand, pushed this handle to the woman opposite, who again sent it to her companion; thus communicating a rotatory and very rapid motion to the upper stone, their left hands being all the while employed in supplying fresh corn, as fast as the bran and flour escaped from the sides of the machine.”

Hitherto we have explained the contents of this chapter as relating to the destruction of Jerusalem; of which, without doubt, it is primarily to be understood. But though it is to be understood of this primarily, yet not of this only; for there is no question that our Lord had a further view in it. It is usual with the prophets to frame and express their prophecies so as that they shall comprehend more than one event, and have their several periods of completion. This every one must have observed who has been ever so little conversant in the writings of the ancient prophets, and this doubtless is the case here; and the destruction of Jerusalem is to be considered as typical of the end of the world, of which the destruction of a great city is a lively type and image. And we may observe that our Saviour no sooner begins to speak of the destruction of Jerusalem, than his figures are raised, his language swelled, (The sun shall be darkened, &c.,) and he expresses himself in such terms as, in a lower and figurative sense indeed, are applicable to that destruction; but in their higher and literal sense, can be meant only of the end of the world. The same may be said of that text, Of that day and season knoweth no man, &c: the consistence and connection of the discourse oblige us to understand it as spoken of the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, but in a higher sense it may be true also of the time of the end of the world, and of the general judgment. All the subsequent discourse too, we may observe, does not relate so properly to the destruction of Jerusalem as to the end of the world and the general judgment. Our Lord loses sight, as it were, of his former subject, and adapts his discourse more to the latter. And, indeed, the end of the Jewish state was, in a manner, the end of the world to many of the Jews.

It appears next to impossible that any man should duly consider these prophecies, and the exact completion of them, and, if he is a believer, not be confirmed in the faith; or, if he is an infidel, not be converted. Can any stronger proof be given of a divine revelation than the spirit of prophecy; or of the spirit of prophecy, than the examples now before us, in which so many contingencies, and we may say, improbabilities, which human wisdom or prudence could never have foreseen, are so particularly foretold, and so punctually accomplished! At the time when Christ pronounced these prophecies, the Roman governor resided at Jerusalem, and had a force sufficient to keep the people in obedience; and could human prudence foresee that the city, as well as the country, would revolt and rebel against the Romans? Could it foresee pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in divers places? Could it foresee the speedy propagation of the gospel, so contrary to all human probability? Could human prudence foresee such an utter destruction of Jerusalem, with all the circumstances preceding and following it? It was never the custom of the Romans absolutely to ruin any of their provinces. It was improbable, therefore, that such a thing should happen at all, and still more improbable that it should happen under the humane and generous Titus who was indeed, as he was called, the love and delight of mankind. Yet, however improbable this was it has happened, and it was foreseen and foretold by Christ; but how was it possible for him to foresee it, unless his foresight was divine, and his prediction the infallible oracle of God? Eusebius observes well upon this place, that, “Whoever shall compare the words of our Saviour with the history which Josephus has written of the war, cannot but admire the wisdom of Christ, and acknowledge his prediction to be divine.”24:29-41 Christ foretells his second coming. It is usual for prophets to speak of things as near and just at hand, to express the greatness and certainty of them. Concerning Christ's second coming, it is foretold that there shall be a great change, in order to the making all things new. Then they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds. At his first coming, he was set for a sign that should be spoken against, but at his second coming, a sign that should be admired. Sooner or later, all sinners will be mourners; but repenting sinners look to Christ, and mourn after a godly sort; and those who sow in those tears shall shortly reap in joy. Impenitent sinners shall see Him whom they have pierced, and, though they laugh now, shall mourn and weep in endless horror and despair. The elect of God are scattered abroad; there are some in all places, and all nations; but when that great gathering day comes, there shall not one of them be missing. Distance of place shall keep none out of heaven. Our Lord declares that the Jews should never cease to be a distinct people, until all things he had been predicting were fulfilled. His prophecy reaches to the day of final judgment; therefore he here, ver. 34, foretells that Judah shall never cease to exist as a distinct people, so long as this world shall endure. Men of the world scheme and plan for generation upon generation here, but they plan not with reference to the overwhelming, approaching, and most certain event of Christ's second coming, which shall do away every human scheme, and set aside for ever all that God forbids. That will be as surprising a day, as the deluge to the old world. Apply this, first, to temporal judgments, particularly that which was then hastening upon the nation and people of the Jews. Secondly, to the eternal judgment. Christ here shows the state of the old world when the deluge came. They were secure and careless; they knew not, until the flood came; and they believed not. Did we know aright that all earthly things must shortly pass away, we should not set our eyes and hearts so much upon them as we do. The evil day is not the further off for men's putting it far from them. What words can more strongly describe the suddenness of our Saviour's coming! Men will be at their respective businesses, and suddenly the Lord of glory will appear. Women will be in their house employments, but in that moment every other work will be laid aside, and every heart will turn inward and say, It is the Lord! Am I prepared to meet him? Can I stand before him? And what, in fact, is the day of judgment to the whole world, but the day of death to every one?Noe - The Greek way of writing "Noah." See Genesis 6-9. The coming of the Son of man would be as it was in the days of Noah:

1. In its being sudden and unexpected, the "precise time" not being made known, though the "general" indications had been given.

2. The world would be found as it was then.

CHAPTER 24

Mt 24:1-51. Christ's Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Warnings Suggested by It to Prepare for His Second Coming. ( = Mr 13:1-37; Lu 21:5-36).

For the exposition, see on [1355]Mr 13:1-37.

See Poole on "Matthew 24:39". But as the days of Noe were,.... So Noah is usually called Noe by the Septuagint: the sense is, as were the practices of the men of that generation, in which Noah lived, so will be the practices of the men of that age, in which the son of man comes; or as the flood, which happened in the days of Noah, was sudden and unexpected; it came upon men thoughtless about it, though they had warning of it; and was universal, swept them all away, excepting a few that were saved in the ark:

so shall also the coming of the son of man be; to take vengeance on the Jews, on a sudden, at an unawares, when they would be unthoughtful about it; though they were forewarned of it by Christ and his apostles, and their destruction be as universal; all would be involved in it, excepting a few, that were directed a little before, to go out of the city of Jerusalem to Pella; where they were saved, as Noah and his family were in the ark.

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 24:37-39. But (δέ, introducing an analogous case from an early period in sacred history) as regards the ignorance as to the precise moment of its occurrence, it will be with the second coming as it was with the flood.

ἦσαντρώγοντες] not for the imperfect, but to make the predicate more strongly prominent. Comp. on Matthew 7:29. τρώγειν means simply to eat (John 6:54-58; John 13:18), not devouring like a beast (Beza, Grotius, Cremer), inasmuch as such an unfavourable construction is not warranted by any of the matters afterwards mentioned.

γαμοῦντες κ. ἐκγαμ.] uxores in matrimonium ducentes et filias collocantes, descriptive of a mode of life without concern, and without any foreboding of an impending catastrophe.

καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν] The “it” (see Nägelsbach, Iliad, p. 120, ed. 3) to be understood after ἔγνωσαν is the flood that is so near at hand. Fritzsche’s interpretation: “quod debebant intelligere” (namely, from seeing Noah build the ark), is arbitrary. The time within which it may be affirmed with certainty that the second advent will suddenly burst upon the world, cannot be supposed to refer to that which intervenes between the destruction of Jerusalem and the advent, a view precluded by the εὐθέως of Matthew 24:29. That period of worldly unconcern comes in just before the final consummation, Matthew 24:15 ff., whereupon the advent is immediately to follow (Matthew 24:29-32). This last and most distressing time of all, coupled with the advent immediately following it, forms the terminus ante quem, and corresponds to the πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ of the Old Testament analogy.

ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ᾗ] without repeating the preposition before (John 4:54). Comp. Xen. Anab. v. 7. 17, and Kühner on the passage; Winer, p. 393 [E. T. 524 f.]; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Apol. p. 27 D. Comp. Matthew 24:50.Matthew 24:37-42. Watch therefore (cf. Luke 17:26-30; Luke 17:34-36).37. Noe] This, the Greek form of the name, appears in E. V., Luke 17:26; “Noah” is read in the other passages where the name occurs, 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 11:7.

The Last Day will surprise men occupied in their pleasures and their business, as the Flood or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:27-29) surprised all except those who “watched.” All such great and critical events are typical of the End of the World.

coming] See Matthew 24:3.Verse 37. - As the days of Noe were. In citing this example, the Lord has special reference to the fact that the warning then given was not heeded (Genesis 6:3). If, as seems probable, the antediluvians had more than a century's warning of the coming flood, it can hardly be only the suddenness of the calamity to which Christ would point (1 Peter 3:20). He has used the illustration elsewhere (Luke 17:26, 27), where also the destruction of Sodom is adduced as a type of the last day. So shall also The parousia of Christ shall fall on a world incredulous and heedless.
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