No One Knows –
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. Jesus is trying to drive that point home. He is not intending the message for us in the future to not know and see what he clearly revealed. His message is to the disciples who do not understand. No disciple has seen what Jesus just explained because it is still in the future. No one has seen or is seeing it. That is Jesus’ intent of saying that sentence. He is saying those events are not happening now, but are still in the future.
But of that day and hour no one has seen, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. – Matthew 24:36
And so what does Jesus say to do next? He continues and tells us to watch. Here εiδω is used again and is “has seen”. Here is Jesus command to watch in Matthew 24:42:
Watch therefore, for you have not seen (or have not known) what hour your Lord is coming.
So the Church begins its life ten days after Jesus ascends to Heaven and still no one had seen of that day or hour. What then is the Church to do? Watch. We watch so that we might know. Is this consistent with other passages of Scripture? Absolutely. They are in harmony. There is no conflict whatsoever. Consider these:
For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. –1 Thessalonians 5:3-
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. –Hebrews 10:24-
Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. –Revelation 3:3
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John. –Revelation 1:1
Jesus has given us Revelation and the Scriptures are clear that we watch to know. There is no excuse. It is not biblically consistent, yet it is a majority understanding that “we cannot know, so watching is really a waste of time”. Really? The Great Sign of the Woman in Revelation 12 forms in the heavens in 4 weeks! What could be more clear? The evidence is overwhelming yet the Church is largely sleeping and lost in the cares of life. Clueless. Unbelievable. However, have we not seen this before when Jesus came 2,000 years ago? People stuck in their traditions and doctrines of men? We are in crunch time and it is truly not the time be confused. God is not that author.
And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch! – Mark 13:37