The Fourfold Gospel
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton (1914)

aMATT. XXIV. 29-51; bMARK XIII. 24-37; cLUKE XXI. 25-36.

      b24 But in those days, aimmediately after the {bthat} atribulation of those days. [Since the coming of Christ did not follow close upon the destruction of Jerusalem, the word "immediately" used by Matthew is somewhat puzzling. There are, however, three ways in which it may be explained: 1. That Jesus reckons the time after his own divine, and not after our human, fashion. Viewing the word in this light, the passage at II. Pet. iii. 4-9 may almost be regarded as an inspired comment with reference to this passage. 2. The terrible judgment upon Jerusalem and the corresponding terror of the judgment day have between them no intervening season of judgment in any way worthy to be compared to either of them. The two periods, therefore, stand with regard to each other in immediate connection. 3. The tribulation which came upon the Jewish people merely began with the destruction of Jerusalem, other woes followed at once, and, coming down through all the centuries of wandering and dispersion, they were yet unfulfilled and incomplete. See Deut. xxviii. 58-68] the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall {bshall be falling} from heaven, aand the powers of [629] {bthat are in} the heavens shall be shaken. [The language is that of the ancient prophets. See Amos viii. 9; Joel ii. 30, 31; Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8. Compare also Rev. vi. 12-14. Some regard the language as metaphorical, indicating the eclipse of nations and the downfall of rulers, but there are many similar passages of Scripture which constrain us to regard the language here as literal rather than figurative. See II. Pet. iii. 10; Heb. i. 12; Rev. xx. 11.]   c25 And there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows [We can conceive of nothing which would produce greater mental distress or perplexity than changes in the position or condition of the heavenly bodies. Such changes will be followed by corresponding commotions on our planet, as, for instance, great tidal waves and vast agitation in the ocean];  26 men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.   a30 and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven [The coming and the sign are the same thing. The word "sign" is used in connection with the coming of Christ to indicate that the nature of the coming (that is, the manner of its manifestations) will be fully commensurate with the importance of the event. His first coming in the manger was not so]: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn [The coming will occasion universal mourning in the unprepared, and apparently the majority of people will be in that condition. The term "all" is not, however, to be construed as including all individuals--I. Thess. iv. 15-17],  b26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in {aon the} clouds {cin a cloud} aof heaven bwith great power aand great glory.   b27 And then shall he send forth the {ahis} angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one of heaven to the other. bfrom the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. [To the Jews the trumpet would naturally be [630] associated with the assembling of the people, for silver trumpets were used to call Israel together (Num. x. 1-4; Ex. xix. 13, 16, 19; Ps. lxxxi. 3-5). We are not told why angels are used on this occasion, but they appear to be employed in all the great operations of Providence (Matt. xiii. 41). The phrases "four winds," etc., indicate that the angelic search shall extend over the entire globe. The language is that which was then used when one desired to indicate the whole earth. It is based upon the idea which then prevailed that the earth is flat, and that it extends outward in one vast plain until it meets and is circumscribed by the overarching heavens.]   c28 But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh. [The preliminary death-throes of this present physical universe, which will strike terror to the souls of those who have limited themselves to material hopes, will be to the Christian a reassuring sign, since he looks for a new heaven and a new earth.]   29 And he spake to them a parable:   a32 Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh; cBehold the fig tree, and all the trees:   30 when they now shoot forth, ye see it and know of your own selves that the summer is now nigh.   31 Even so ye also, when ye see aall cthese things coming to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh. aknow ye that he is nigh, even at the doors. [As the change of the season in the natural world has its preliminary signs, so the change of conditions in the spiritual realm has its premonitory symptoms. When men see the symptoms which Jesus has described, they will recognize that changes are coming as to the nature of which they can only guess. But the Christian is informed that these changes indicate the coming of the Son of God--a change from a worse to a better season.]   34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, buntil all things be accomplished. [Commentators differ widely as to the import of these words. Godet is so perplexed by them that he thinks [631] they refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, and have been misplaced by the Evangelist. Cook straddles the difficulty by giving a dual significance to all that our Lord has said concerning his coming, so that our Lord in one narrative speaks figuratively of a coming in the power of his kingdom before, during, and right after the destruction of Jerusalem, and literally of his final coming at the end of the world. But this perplexing expression under this theory refers exclusively to the figurative and not to the literal sense of the passage. The simplest solution of the matter is to take the word "generation" to mean the Jewish family or race--and the word does mean race or family--Luke xvi. 8. Thus interpreted, the passage becomes a prophecy that the Jewish people shall be preserved as such until the coming of Christ. The marvelous and almost miraculous preservation of the racial individuality of the Jews, though dispersed among all nations, might well become the subject of prophecy, especially when Jesus had just spoken of an event which threatened their very extermination.]   31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. [The disciples had regarded the temple as so permanent that they found it hard to conceive that Christ's words could be fulfilled with regard to it; but he assures them that his predictions and prophecies are the stable and imperishable things. That even the more permanent structure of the heavens is not so abiding as his utterances.]   a36 But of that day and {bor that} hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in {aof} heaven, neither the Son, bbut the Father. aonly. [These words indicate the profound secrecy in which God has concealed the hour of judgment. It is concealed from all people, that each generation may live in expectation of its fulfillment, and we are to watch for the signs, though we may not fully know the times. They also indicate that either by reason of his assumption of our human nature, or by a voluntary act on his part, the knowledge of Jesus became in some respects circumscribed. They also suggest that it is not only idle, but also presumptuous, for men to strive to find out by mathematical calculation and expositions of [632] prophecy that which the Son of God did not know.]   37 And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man.   38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,   39 and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. [See p. 532.]   40 Then shall two man be in the field; one is taken, and one is left:   41 two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left. [See p. 533.]   42 Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.   43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through.   44 Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh. [See p. 322.]   c34 But take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare:   35 for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth. [The image of a snare is that of a net which suddenly encloses a covey of birds as they feed in seeming safety. The warnings here given are applicable to our appearing before Christ whether he comes to meet us, or we depart from this life to meet him. The result is the same, whether he comes and finds us unprepared or whether we go hence without preparation.  a45 Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath set over his household, to give them their food in due season?   46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.   47 Verily I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath.   48 But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord tarrieth;   49 and shall begin to beat his fellow-servants, and shall eat and drink with the drunken; [633]   50 the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not,   51 and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. [See p. 323.]   c36 But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. [The revealed presence of God is represented as such an overpowering event that sinners are crushed to the earth by it. Only the godly are able to stand in his presence--Ps. i. 5; Mal. iii. 2.]   b33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.   34 It is as when a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch. [Under the figure of the householder and the thief, Jesus appealed to the sense of danger. Under the figure of the servant he appealed to the sense of duty, and under this figure of the porter he appealed to the sense of loyalty. The porter's desire to honor his lord was to make him so vigilant that he would open the door at once upon his lord's appearing.]   35 Watch therefore: for ye know not when the lord of the house cometh, whether at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning [The night was then divided into four watches. See p. 322. Jesus may here refer either to the duration of the world or to the life of the individual. He divides either period into four sections, in accordance with the night watches which were so fully associated with watchfulness];  36; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.   37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. [This warning message was not for the apostles alone, but for all disciples.]

[FFG 629-634]

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