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Matthew 24:36-44 – The Necessity of Watchfulness


The disciple community is cautioned about useless speculation about the signs or the timing of the coming of the Son of Man. Rather they are to be awake and ready at all times as they await his coming, for the coming will be at an unexpected hour that only the Father in heaven knows.


Jesus cautions the disciple community about useless speculation about the timing of "that day" when the Son of Man will come. "No one knows" the timing of that event except the Father. The point is underscored by the use of two illustrations. The day will come as a total surprise, just as the flood was for Noah and his family. The second illustration with its reference to one person "taken" in the field or one woman "taken" while grinding meal (the word is often translated as "rapture") has been the occasion for much speculative literature and Christian imagination about the end times. But we need not to miss their simple point: the surprising timing of the coming, which "no one knows," and Jesus' call for wakeful readiness for a coming that will be as surprising as the coming of a thief in the night.

Matthew 24:36-44

The Necessity for Watchfulness

36 ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,* but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day* your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

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