“No One Knows the Day or the Hour…”
When Jesus explains the time of the end in Matthew 24 to the disciples, we have all failed to understand the intent of the passage at the time it was given. Clearly Jesus details signs that must occur at the end of the age for when he will set up his kingdom. We must remember this comes just days after Jesus presented himself as the king in the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday. A number of Jews were hoping Jesus would establish his kingdom right then and there. We know that did not happen, but they were still confused and did not grasp what was coming in a couple of days to fulfill Passover.
Consider this famous passage of Peter who did not understand what the Christ must first do in Mark 8:31-
And He (Jesus) began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
Why did Peter not like this teaching? It was because Peter did not understand the two advents of Christ. Peter wanted the kingdom now, but that was not what was going to happen.
Consider this passage from Acts 1:6:
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Even before Jesus ascended to heaven it was hoped that Jesus would establish his kingdom. We must remember that the disciples were struggling to grasp the whirlwind of events of those weeks. Of course Jesus knew this.
So then, let us go back between Palm Sunday and the Crucifixion in the Passion Week when Jesus takes the disciples aside as recorded in the Olivet Discourse and presents them many signs that will occur. Jesus explains all of what must happen, but then he says:
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. – Matthew 24:36
This is the verse everyone seems “to know” by saying “no one can know” when anyone discusses the nearness of Jesus’ return, but that is entirely wrong. The Greek word used for “knows” is εiδω and it is in the perfect active indicative. It should be rendered as “has seen” as in completed action up to that point.
Jesus is communicating the time of the end to disciples who do not truly understand the outflow of events that are coming. Jesus is yet to be crucified, buried, raised, and ascended. Jesus explains that no one has seen the time of the end, because it is not occurring at that time. Jesus is not restoring the kingdom as they are hoping will be done.