Olivet Discourse: Matthew Chapter 24
The Gospel according to Matthew presented the Lord Jesus Christ as the King that fulfilled the promises given to King David, 1Chronicles 17:9-14. At the first advent of the Lord, the nation of Israel did not recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah, and rejected Him. They saw the word of God through the prophets, law and the Psalms, but they did not understand, Isaiah 6:9-13. The Lord will return as King of kings and Lord of lords, and will fulfill all of the promises given to David and all the covenants He made with Israel. All will be completed during the restoration of the world following the seven years of tribulation. As with Mark 13:1-37, the setting of this event also begins with the disciples commenting on the temple's construction. Recall Daniel 9:26, when considering the discussion of the temple and its future condition relative to the time of Christ when He had this discourse. His response is looking forward in time. These questions by the disciples were just after the events recorded in Matthew 23:1-39, when He pronounced the seven woes upon the scribes and Pharisees: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! …” and His lament over Jerusalem, Matthew 23:37-39.
There is a tremendous amount of similarity between the Lord's discourse with His disciples while He sat on the Mount of Olives that is provided by Mark with that written by Matthew. Rather than just focusing on the what the gospel according to Matthew covers that is not captured in Mark's book, the following will be the recapture of Mark with minor edits, and cite the verses in Matthew along with Mark's in each section. The only additional subject to the book of Mark that Matthew provides is the sign of the judgment in Noah's day. To see the correlation among the three gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, refer to the web page "The Comparative View of the Olivet Discourse" on this web site.
In Matthew 24:1-3 and Mark 13:1-2, as the Lord and His disciples were leaving the temple on their way to the Mount of Olives, the disciples remarked on the physical structure and construction of the temple. The Lord's response was very stark, and prophesied its destruction, as well as the totality of the destruction. This was consistent with the words that Daniel recorded concerning the destruction of the temple, Daniel 9:26, and were literally fulfilled! Examine pictures of the temple mount today and you will only see the retaining walls, not one stone from the temple in Jesus's day was left on top of the temple mount. Only the Mosque of Omar (or the Dome of the Rock) exists, which was built between 687 and 691 A.D. This was after the destruction of Jerusalem and its sanctuary by Titus in 70 A.D.
Mark 13:3-4 is the beginning of the Olivet Discourse. Only Peter, James, John, and Andrew are identified to ask the questions of Jesus privately. Mark only records two questions:
- When shall these things be
- What shall be the signs when these things shall be fulfilled
Matthew records three questions, with the second question being broadened into two questions that are nearly the same question, but can be separated out to describe two events. The second and third questions in Matthew are:
- What will be the sign of the return of Jesus Matthew 24:3
- (What will be the sign of ...) and the end of the age, Matthew 24:3
In Matthew 24:4-8 and Mark 13:5-8, the Lord provides an outline of events that lead up to the beginning of the seven years of tribulation. There are two parts to the beginning of His discourse on the end times while he sat on the Mount of Olives; the first is the warning concerning deception of false Christ's, and the second was on wars and the rumors of wars.
Matthew 24:4-5 and Mark 13:5-6 provides the warning by the Lord about the deception of false Christ's. One can easily wander through the pages of newspapers or periodicals, or search through the Internet and discover who or what would constitute the basis of what Jesus is warning us about. The threat against the church through apostate teachings, or blatant affronts to the basic tenets of Christianity are already evident and unfortunately prevalent. Too many men and women in leadership positions across the world put their own interests and reasoning ahead of the simple truth revealed in the Bible. This is not new, for these warnings are also found in the epistles by Paul, Peter, John, and Jude against those who would teach false doctrine and lead many astray. The difference from then to now are the wrapping of these errors in teaching and proclamations of deity into the great marketing schemes available today, and then communicating these lies across the mass media outlets hitting every niche in the world. A person not versed in the Bible, or having ever been born again as the Lord instructed Nicodemus in John 3:1-21, will not be able to discern the truth concerning these matters, 1Corinthians 2:14-16, and may follow after false doctrines that lead only to suffering and death, 2Timothy 4:1-4.
In Matthew 24:6-8 and Mark 13:7-8, the Lord adds more to the list, but He tells the believer in Christ not to be troubled. These other events are:
- Hear of wars and rumors of wars
- Nation rising against nation
- Kingdom against kingdom
- Earthquakes in various places
- Famines and troubles (or pestilences in Matthew)
All of these things were not unknown during the days of the Lord's first ministry, nor in the history prior to that time. The world has never known an extended time of peace, and never will until the Prince of Peace appears and establishes His millennial rule, Isaiah 9:6-7. What would differentiate all past occurrences to those leading up to the seven years of tribulation is the frequency, intensity and the geographic extent of these horrible events. The climax of all these things will be during the seven years of tribulation, with the peak in the latter half of the seven years of tribulation. These events and temporal extent that lead up to the tribulation can be viewed in the timelines for Mark chapter 13 on this web site.
To aid the reader on the relevance of this information for today, consider how the terms used in these passages can be easily attributable to what our world is experiencing. The word "nations" in the Greek can be rendered as ethnic groups. It would not take much to link this with what we are now experiencing on a worldwide scale with Islamic radicals rising against Israel and the U.S. today. These are not nations per-se, such as Islamic countries taking direct arms against the United States and its allies, but Islamic radicals who know no geo-political boundaries. Contrariwise, kingdoms can be rendered as countries where people identified with a leader or ruler within geo-political boundaries who do rise against another of a similar nature upon the direction of that leader or ruler.
An excellent study tool when reading the Bible is the website, blueletterbible.org. There the reader can look up individual passages in the Bible and search for the usage and meanings for Greek and Hebrew words found in the Bible. Since almost every site is refreshed from time to time, and their internal links are not necessarily preserved, the reader is pointed to the site to conduct their own investigations and study, rather than providing a direct link. However, the links that are provided do work at the time of this writing.
There are three words to focus on from the blueletterbible.org.org site to better understand the meaning in the Greek word, than to simply overlay today's usage of the word or term. These three words in Mark 13:8 are "nations", "kingdoms", and "sorrows". The Greek word in this verse, which has been interpreted as nations, is ethnos. There are several meaning applied to this word used in this verse that the blueletterbible.org site provides: 1) a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together a) a company, troop, swarm 2) a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus a) the human family 3) a tribe, nation, people group 4) in the OT, foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans, Gentiles 5) Paul uses the term for Gentile Christians (Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for ethnos (Strong's 1484)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2008).
The Greek word in this verse that was interpreted as kingdoms, is basileia. The meaning applied to this verse that the blueletterbible.org site provides are: 1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah's kingdom 2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king 3) used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah (Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for basileia (Strong's 932)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2008).
The third Greek word being highlighted by this site in Mark 13:8 is sorrows, which in the Greek is odin. The meanings to this word found in the blueletterbible.org site are: 1) the pain of childbirth, travail pain, birth pangs 2) intolerable anguish, in reference to the dire calamities precede the advent of the Messiah Blue Letter Bible (Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for odin (Strong's 5604)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2008).
Simple graphics to illustrate the buildup of these events to the tribulation are provided on the timelines for Mark 13.
Matthew 24:9 and Mark 13:9 are probably the dividing verses from those events leading up to the seven years of the tribulation, and the actual events and characterization of the times during the tribulation. Matthew 24:9 indicates that this great level of affliction or persecution suffered by the tribulation saints will be experienced throughout the world. Their suffering will be due to their belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and persecution for the their testimony of the Lord. It is by the strength received from the Lord that Christians can endure through troubling times, Colossians 1:9-11.
When the Lord had the letter written to the church at Smyrna, He fully encompassed all the experiences of the church at Smyrna with all that He is and suffered, Hebrews 13:5-6. Through this identification with the church, the Lord is assuring them that He is in control, and that He has not abandoned them in their time of great suffering and tribulation. He will see them through this terrible time and give them the strength to hold firm in their faith. This same Jesus who came back from the dead is giving them that same assurance, John 11:25-26, Revelation 2.
This is the same comfort for the tribulation saints. The Lord is not protecting them from the persecution during the seven years of tribulation, but He is preserving and strengthening their faith. The result is seen at the end of the tribulation period, when the tribulation saints are observed by John singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb unto the Lord. The tribulation saints will be victorious over the beast, his image, and the number of his name. The manner of their victory is that it is eternal, and they will now have their vengeance as voiced in the opening of the sixth seal, Revelation 6:9-11. They will be horribly tormented in order to entice them to deny Christ during the last half of the tribulation; Revelation 13:15-18, Revelation 14:12-13. However, they exhibited patience in keeping the commandments of God and faith in Jesus Christ. The song of Moses is a responsive celebration of the magnificent and awesome delivery from Pharaoh's chariots at the Red Sea, Exodus 15:1-19. For the tribulation saints, they are celebrating the promises fulfilled by the Lord in the eternal life that they are enjoying; a life of fullness and perfect. The tribulation saints also sing the song of the Lamb. This is a song describing the victory won by the saints through Christ, and in response to the glory they now witness in His presence, Revelation 15.
In Mark 13:9-11, the Lord refers to this time for His saints as great suffering, and the tribulation saints will be brought before kings. Their suffering, as is experienced by many Christians in a great number of regions in the world today, will be similar to what the Apostle Paul experienced in Acts 9:15-16. This suffering was spoken of in Daniel 12:10, and in Revelation 6:9-11, Revelation 12:13-17, and Revelation 17:3-6. More information is provided on this web site concerning the tribulation and the impacts during that time on the tribulation saints. As desperate as those times will be, the tribulation saints will be preserved by the Lord. They are not to plan ahead on what they will say when brought before those in governmental positions, but they are to rely on the Holy Spirit who will fill them and inspire them with what they are to say.
In Matthew 24:10-14, the Lord warns believers in that day of betrayal and hatred between each other. This will not only be in the form of turning in people for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but also from the threat of false prophets who will deceive many. After the rapture of the church, who will be left behind? It will be those who chose not to believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and to follow after Him. Immediately after the rapture, the gravity of the situation will become known to those who so casually rejected the calls to salvation in the age of grace, for they will perceive that the day of God's judgment upon the world is now dawning on them. Those who callously refused to follow the Lord, will be like those whom the Apostle Paul wrote of in 2Thessalonians 2:7-12. This passage in 2Thessalonians 2 shows the rapture, with the revealing of THE Antichrist, 2Thessalonians 2:7. Paul also describes Satan as the source of the Antichrist's power and abilities to perform signs and lying wonders, 2Thessalonians 2:9-10. For those who stubbornly refused the Lord's call to salvation and to life, will be the ones who will believe the lie, 2Thessalonians 2:10-12. Now is the hour to believe and worship the Father in spirit and truth, John 4:23-24. Do not neglect the privilege of time that you have to turn to the Lord. If you do not know and have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, now is the time to make that decision. Follow this link to read about the road of salvation. Despite being left behind after the rapture of the church, the opportunity to become a Christian will still be available. For the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world. This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ that is preached in this age of grace today, but the coming of the Lord as King of kings and Lord of lords who will establish His millennial reign and restore all things, Revelation 20. Those who turn to believe in the name of the Lord and maintain their testimony, are the ones whom the Lord said will be saved, or see His returning glory if they endure through to the end of the seven years of tribulation, Matthew 24:13-14. This can also be viewed in the timelines in Mark 13.
In Mark 13:12-13, the Lord indicates that there is a complete breakdown of the family. Also the saints will be hated by all men because of their belief in Christ, and the maintenance of their testimony that they hold, Revelation 6:9. The essence of the family will be destroyed, and family member will betray another member’s faith in Christ. For those who endure to the end of the tribulation period, there will be great blessing for them, as shown in Daniel 12:12 and Revelation 20:4.
In Matthew 24:15-20 and Mark 13:14-18, the Lord describes the singular event that marks the midpoint of the seven years of tribulation; the erection of the image of the Antichrist in the holy place of the tribulation temple. This is the temple that will be fully functional for the sacrificial worship to God according to the law given to Moses, and is described in Revelation 11:1-2, and on this site for a discussion on these verses, Revelation 11, and the timelines for Revelation 11. Much as been described as well in the sections in the web site on Daniel 7, Daniel 9 and Daniel 9 timelines, and Daniel 11 through Daniel 12, with emphasis on the Daniel 12 timelines. This will be a pivotal time in man's history on this earth, when satanic evil will run rampant throughout the world, resulting in catastrophic death and destruction. It is only because of the Lord's judgments that there will be an end to that madness, and all things will be restored during the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For the Jews living in Jerusalem and in Israel, upon seeing or hearing of this desecration, they will finally understand what the Lord is referring to in these passages. They will accept that Daniel was indeed a prophet, and based on the prophecies in his book and among the other prophets in the Old Testament, they will turn completely toward the Lord and seek Him for their salvation. After this desecration, will come the desolation of the temple that will remain for the remainder of the tribulation period, until the final judgment of the Lord with the pouring out of the seventh and final bowl judgment, Revelation 16:17-21.
The warning to all the Jews living in the land upon the initiation of this event is to flee immediately to the mountains. More is written about this in this site on Revelation 12 where the gathering point for all the evacuees is speculated to be the ancient city of Petra. The warning of the Lord is adamant. The people are to flee from the point they are when they learn of the desecration of the temple. They are not to return to their homes to get anything, but to flee to the mountains. There are three woes that the Lord addresses for those people at that time, for those women who are pregnant, the women who are nursing, and for all the people that it would not be winter when those days fall upon them. In Matthew 24:20, there is the additional concern that the flight would not also be on the Sabbath day. Nothing can compare in that day to any other time in man's history concerning the onslaught of terror and evil that will fall upon any of those who remain behind, and for those who continue to remain faithful to the Lord. This will be the time of great tribulation. See the accompanying timelines on the associated page on Mark 13 timelines.
Continuing from the previous verses, Matthew 24:21-30 and Mark 13:19-20 is the time described by the Lord as the great tribulation, which is the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation. Those days are described by the Lord as being the worst time that the world will have ever known. This characterization of those days is the same as the prophecy given in Daniel 12:1. The shortened days are not shorter than given in Daniel 12:7, Daniel 12:11-12, nor in Revelation. The judgment of the world deserved much worse, but for the elects' sake, God shortened the judgment period to the 1,260 days, or times, time and half a time.
In Matthew 24:23-26 and Mark 13:21-23, the Lord repeats the warning, but this time to those living in those perilous times. The first warning was directed to those in Jesus's day and was repeated by the apostles to the church. In these passages, the repeated warning is directed to the tribulation saint concerning false Christ's, false teachings, and apostasies. The time will be so grave, with the subtle deceptions of Satan, the Antichrist and the false prophet who will perform many signs and wonders, that the temptation will be great to fall from the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, Revelation 13:11-18. The comfort to the saints is that Jesus tells us to take heed, as He has foretold us all the things that we need to know to be prepared.
In Matthew 24:27-28 the Lord provides the sign of His return, answering one of the four questions by the Apostles, which is characterized by lightening. From east to west, all peoples will know when the Lord returns to this world as King of kings and Lord of lords. His return, though hoped for by all the saints still alive in this world, is associated with judgment against those how are His enemies, Isaiah 61:1-7.
Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24-25 covers the end of the seven years of the tribulation, and the severe condition of the earth at that time as a result of man's rebellion and sin. The depressed physical conditions of the earth following the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16:17-21, Hebrews 12:25-29, consists of:
- The sun being darkened
- The moon will not be visible on earth
- Meteors and other objects from space will collide with earth
- Even the orbits and natural laws of gravity and motion will be disturbed
The whole of creation will be adversely affected by all that Satan has inflicted upon mankind and earth. Only the Lord can set things right upon His return. To see the potential impact just on the worlds' population, see the page on this site on the compressed view on the tribulation.
In Matthew 24:30-31 and Mark 13:26-27, the time of the Lord's return in all His glory is described. This is the time when several events occur nearly simultaneously, the pouring of the last bowl judgment, Revelation 16:17-21, the return of Christ, Revelation 19:11-16, the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 19:17-19, the Antichrist and false prophet being thrown into the lake of fire, Revelation 19:20, Satan being bound and thrown into the bottomless pit, Revelation 20:1-3, and the utter destruction of all the Antichrist's military forces, Revelation 19:21. In these two verses in Mark 13:26-27, the Lord reveals that He will return to the earth in the clouds just as He will do when He raptures the church unto Himself in the clouds. However, on this occasion of the Lord's return, He will place His feet on earth, on the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:3-4, and His presence will be witnessed by the entire globe, Revelation 19, 2Thessalonians 2:8. The Lord will then gather His entire elect on earth and heaven to share in His kingdom, Daniel 7:27, Revelation 20:1-15.
In Matthew 24:32-33 and Mark 13:28-29, the Lord provides a parable to help the disciples and all of the saints during the church age, to understand the season when these things will happen, and to encourage us to watch. The fig tree is the object used by the Lord in this parable to represent Israel, and has a compound representation. Within the context of the previous verses, the fig tree represents the time when the things concerning the great tribulation Jesus just expounded upon will begin. An important reference for the reader to understand is that the portion of the verse that talks about knowing that summer is near, when one sees the tender branches and the shooting of leaves. This is indicative of the rebirth of Israel, as shown in Ezekiel 37:1-28, see the webpage on this site on Ezekiel 37 for more information. A similar allegory is used in Revelation 6:12-17 with the opening of the sixth seal, and the description of the end of the great tribulation being related to the time that the late figs fall with the blowing of a strong wind. Again the subject is Israel, and the condition of the tree and its fruit is indicative of the time relative to the tribulation. The former is before the tribulation, and the regathering and establishment of Israel, and the latter reference is indicative of the end of the tribulation, see the Mark 13 timeline for more information.
There are several references in scripture to support having the fig tree represent the nation of Israel, though there is not complete agreement with making this association. In Jeremiah 24:1-10, two baskets are used to represent Israel, the good figs represented the Jews who were carried off to Babylon for their 70 year exile, but the poor figs represented the survivors of Israel who either remained in the land or fled to Egypt. Then there is the curse of the fig tree in Mark 11:12-14, which occurred the day after the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. This occurred as the Lord left Bethany on His way to Jerusalem, though it was not the season for the figs. It is then recorded in Mark 11:15-19 that Jesus cleansed the temple the second time. Then in Mark 11:20-27, upon returning to Jerusalem on the third day, Peter observed the condition of the fig tree and remarked to the Lord that it had dried up. The Lord's response to Peter was to have faith in God. He then expounded further on what that faith in God could accomplish, if they only believe. This is not a cart blanche for asking and receiving, but having faith in God to accomplish the things of God and His will. This tree that was cursed then represents the spiritual state of Israel that the Lord found to exist. Then as now, it is important that those who are in the Lord are prepared in season and out of season to correct, rebuke and encourage with patience and careful instruction, 2Timothy 4:1-5. It was also indicative that while in this state, they would soon reject their Lord and King, and they were unfruitful. There is a strong correlation between these events in Christ's day during His first advent, and the physical and spiritual progress in the condition of Israel as revealed in Ezekiel 37:1-28, see the webpage on this site on Ezekiel 37 for more information. Finally, in Mark 11:28-33, the chief priests and teachers of the law, and elders challenged Jesus concerning His authority to cleanse the temple the day before. That authority was demonstrated to his disciples via the fig tree.
Matthew 24:34-36 and Mark 13:30-32 provides the fulfillment of the Lord’s words. In Mark 13:30, the Lord makes the connection between the physical condition of Israel with the beginning of the tribulation and the generation that sees Israel reform, and witness these events unfold. Then in Mark 13:31, the Lord assures His disciples and us that His words will not pass away unfulfilled, and is a matter of surety. It is not whether these things will come to pass, but whether they are being interpreted properly. Finally, in Mark 13:32, the Lord warns that no man knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return, and neither does the Lord or the angels know, only the Father in heaven who has set the times and the seasons, reference Geneses 1:14-19, Daniel 2:20-23, Daniel 7:9-10, Daniel 7:13-14, 1Thessalonians 5:1-3, and Acts 1:6-7.
In Matthew 24:37-42, the Lord references the time of judgment in Noah's day. The days prior to the judgment by the flood will parallel the days preceding the Lord’s return. The Lord characterized those days with people eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage. It is notable that what the Lord did not list violence in the comparison between the events, Genesis 6:12. Nevertheless, the Lord had set a time of 120 years before the flood of judgment would come upon the world, Genesis 6:3, while seven years of tribulation are given before the Lord's return and judgment, Daniel 9:27. In either case, the people before the flood or before the Lord's return and judgment were not aware or accepted the warning of the pending judgment until it arrived. Only those who knew the Lord and had faith in Him, knew and understood the coming judgment, and they sounded the warning to others.
In Matthew 24:40-42, the Lord provides examples of what will happen upon His return. Twice, He mentions that there will be two people, and one will be taken and the other remain. The settings are different, one set of two is in the field, and the other set of two are grinding in the mill. There has been much debate interpreting this passage. Some believe those taken away in this example were taken in judgment, while others believe that it was to be in the presence of the Lord. One way to interpret this passage is to refer again to Matthew 24:30-31, where upon His return, the Lord will send His angels to gather to Himself His elect, or tribulation saints from all over the world. These are the ones that the Lord earlier referred to as being saved, or to be kept safe, having endured to the end of the tribulation, Matthew 24:13. They will be the ones gathered at the end of the tribulation to witness the glory of the Lord passing through the eastern gate and filling His millennial temple, Ezekiel 43:1-5.
To further assist in developing this thought with respect to what happens to those taken verses those left behind, the reader is encouraged to view the Greek meanings of the words used for each. For the word "taken," the Greek word is paralambano. The meanings to this word found in the blueletterbible.org site are: 1) to take to, to take with one's self, to join to one's self (Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for paralambano (Strong's 3880)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2008). In other words, those taken are to be joined with the Lord for a blessing, not judgment.
The second word "left," in the Greek is aphiemi, which means to send away, to bid going away or departing, like a husband divorcing his wife. The meanings to this word can be found in the blueletterbible.org. "Dictionary and Word Search for aphiemi (Strong's 863)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2008). In other words, the person left in the field or mill is the one judged. That is the person who is left to continue working as they had been. They will not be taken to enjoy the return of Christ, to be in His presence, nor to rest from their labors, or sufferings from the previous seven years. This is also the time for the separation of the nations that is revealed in Matthew 25:31-46 (more on this discussion on this site on Matthew 25), when there will be a separation among the world's population, between those who have followed after Christ, and those who did not. Nations will also be judged and either be part of the sheep who enjoy God’s blessings, or be judged and suffer as they made others suffer during the seven years of tribulation. Surviving individuals from the tribulation who are left behind will continue to work and live in this world until their death, and they will be in Hades awaiting the second resurrection for their appearance before God at the Great White Throne judgment, (see also 1Corinthians 15 timelines and Revelation 20 on this website for more information). Because of this judgment, those who choose to rebel against the Lord will not enjoy the fruits and blessing of the Lord's millennial reign, such as longevity of life, but will die early in life in comparison to the righteous in this world, Isaiah 65:20. If you happen to have been left behind after the rapture, and survived the tribulation period, then either accepted the mark of the beast, worshiped him, or regarded the number of the name of the Antichrist, Revelation 15:1-2, you will be separated from the righteous, and be forever marked as an enemy of Christ until your death. After 1,000 years you will then appear before God at the Great White Throne judgment to be given an eternal judgment of eternal separation and thrown into the lake fire for eternity, Revelation 20:11-15. Now is the time to accept Christ, and not put it off any longer. Follow this link to learn more about salvation, and what you need to do to be saved.
Finally, in Matthew 24:42, the Lord again warns His people to watch, as seen in the Mark 13 timeline. In Mark 13:30, the Lord gives authority to His church during the period of time between His first and second advents, and charges us, His church made up of both Jews and Gentiles, to watch. This forms a basis of the teaching of the Lord's eminent return to call His church unto Himself. In Matthew 24:44, the Lord instructs all that the time of His return is not known. We may know the season based on the parable of the fig tree, but we will not know the hour of that time. In fact, it will occur at a time that no one would anticipate. The purpose for not knowing the exact time is demonstrated through the story of the man leaving his house for a time, and giving his servants authority and work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. As with the fig tree, this also has duel applications. First, to His church and the waiting for the Lord’s glorious appearing before the tribulation period Titus 2:11-15, and second to the tribulation saints who are waiting on the second advent of Christ Revelation 16:15.
In Matthew 24:45-47, the Lord asks the question, "Who is a faithful and wise servant". The answer is provided by the Lord in the following verse, it is the servant who the Lord returns to find the servant faithfully ruling over His household, giving meat in its due season. That is the person to whom the Lord will reward by making him ruler over all of the Lord's goods. For the saints who went through the tribulation, as well as to those in the church, the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished, 2Peter 2:4-9.
In contrast, the remaining verses, Matthew 24:48-51 speak of the evil servant who is not obedient to the Lord's command and attempts to anticipate the Lord's return. The characteristics of this type of person is similar to those in Noah's day, who lacked the understanding of impending judgment, but instead they were caught up in the everyday world activities: eating and getting drunk, Matthew 24:38. The Lord’s arrival will be a surprise to that evil servant, and he will be unprepared for the Lord’s return. That evil servant will loose all and will be assigned with the hypocrites. The result is terrible regret for the evil servants with weeping and gnashing of teeth. This also demonstrates the Lord's rule during His millennial reign, when every morning He will judge all the wicked in the land, and cut off every evil doer from the city of the Lord, Psalm 101:7-8.
So what distinguishes between the good and faithful servant from the evil servant? Even though both believed in the authority of the master, or in this case they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 10:5-13, belief is not sufficient for salvation. James points out that even demons believe and tremble, James 2:19. What separates the two servants is obedience, the willingness to follow the commandments of the Lord, and love fellow believers, 1John 5:1-4. Earlier in the same epistle, the Apostle John wrote that who ever says that he knows the Lord and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But, who ever loves the Lord keeps His word, and the love of God is perfected in that person, 1John 2:1-11. The Christian is marked from the wicked servant by abiding in Christ and doing His will. As Paul wrote to the Colossians, whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and give thanks to God the Father through Him, Colossians 3:1-17.