Matthew 24:36 Update American Standard Version (UASV)

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

While none of us can know the precise time of Jesus’ return, we do know that we are to be busy in the work that he has given us. Regardless of the time left, how will we use it?  Here is how we should use our time before Christ’s return. We should live as though it is tomorrow, but plan as though it is 50-years away. What do we mean by this? We live as though Christ is returning tomorrow, by walking with God, having a righteous standing before him. We plan as though it is 50-years away by living a life that makes strategies for a long-term evangelism that fulfills our end of the Great Commission. – Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20; Acts 1:8.

Evangelism Excursion

Evangelism is the work of a Christian evangelist, of which all true Christians are obligated to partake to some extent, which seeks to persuade other people to become Christian, especially by sharing the basics of the Gospel, but also the deeper message of biblical truths. Today the Gospel is almost an unknown, so what does the Christian evangelist do? Preevangelism is laying a foundation for those who have no knowledge of the Gospel, giving them background information, so that they are able to grasp what they are hearing. The Christian evangelist is preparing their mind and heart so that they will be receptive to the biblical truths. In many ways, this is known as apologetics.

Christian apologetics [Greek: apologia, “verbal defense, speech in defense”] is a field of Christian theology that endeavors to offer a reasonable and sensible basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections. It is reasoning from the Scriptures, explaining and proving, as one instructs in sound doctrine, many times having to overturn false reasoning before he can plant the seeds of truth. It can also be earnestly contending for the faith and saving one from losing their faith, as they have begun to doubt. Moreover, it can involve rebuking those who contradict the truth. It is being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks the Christian evangelist for a reason for the hope that is in him or her. – Jude 1.3, 21-23; 1 Peter 3.15; Acts 17:2-3; Titus 1:9.

What do we mean by obligated and what we mean by evangelism are at the heart of the matter and are indeed related to each other.

EVANGELISM: An evangelist is a proclaimer of the gospel or good news, as well as all biblical truths. There are levels of evangelism, which is pictured in first-century Christianity. All Christians evangelized in the first century, but a select few fit the role of a full-time evangelist (Eph. 4:8, 11-12), such as Philip and Timothy.

Both Philip and Timothy are specifically mentioned as evangelizers. (Ac 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5) Philip was a full-time evangelist after Pentecost, who was sent to the city of Samaria, having had great success. An angel even directed Philip to an Ethiopian Eunuch, to share the good news about Christ with him. Because of the Eunuch’s already having knowledge of God by way of the Old Testament, Philip was able to help him understand that the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Christ as the long-awaited Messiah. In the end, Philip baptized the Eunuch. After that, the Spirit again sent Philip on a mission, this time to Azotus and all the cities on the way to Caesarea. (Ac 8:5, 12, 14, 26-40) Paul evangelized in many lands, setting up one congregation after another. (2 Cor. 10:13-16) Timothy was an evangelizer or missionary, and Paul placed special importance on evangelizing when he gave his parting encouragement to Timothy. – 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Timothy 1:3.

The office of apostle and evangelist seem to overlap in some areas, but could be distinguished in that apostles traveled and set up congregations, which took evangelizing skills, but also developed the congregations after they were established. The evangelists were more of a missionary, being stationed in certain areas to grow and develop congregations. In addition, if we look at all of the apostles and the evangelists, plus Paul’s more than one hundred traveling companions, it seems very unlikely that they could have had Christianity at over one million by the 125 C.E. This was accomplished because all Christians were obligated to carry out some level of evangelism.

OBLIGATED: In the broadest sense of the term for evangelizer, all Christians are obligated to play some role as an evangelist.

  • Basic Evangelism is planting seeds of truth and watering any seeds that have been planted. [In the basic sense of this word (euaggelistes), this would involve all Christians.] In some cases, it may be that one Christian planted the seed, which were initially rejected, so he was left in a good way because the planter did not try to force the truth down his throat. However, later he faces something in life that moves him to reconsider those seeds and another Christian waters what had already been planted by the first Christian. This evangelism can be carried out in all of the methods that are available: informal, house-to-house, street, phone, internet, and the like. What amount of time is invested in the evangelism work is up to each Christian to decide for themselves by way of their Christian conscience, as well as their love of God and neighbor.
  • Making Disciples is having any role in the process of getting an unbeliever from his unbelief state to the point of accepting Christ as his Savior and being baptized. Once the unbeliever has become a believer, he is still developed until he has become strong. Any Christian could potentially carry this one person through all of the developmental stages. On the other hand, it may be that several have some part. It is like a person that specializes in a certain aspect of a job, but all are aware of the other aspects, in case they are called on to carry out that phase. Again, each Christian must decide for themselves what role they are to have, and how much of a role, but should be prepared to fill any role if needed.
  • Part-Time or Full-Time Evangelist is one who sees this as their calling and chooses to be very involved as an evangelist in their local church and community. They may have a part-time job to supplement their work as an evangelist. They may be married with children, but they realize their gift is in the field of evangelism. If it were the wife, the husband would work toward supporting her efforts as an evangelist and vice-versa. If it were a single person, he or she would supplement their evangelist efforts by being employed part-time, but also, the church would help as well. This person is well trained in every aspect of bringing one to Christ.
  • Congregation Evangelists should be very involved in evangelizing their communities and helping the church members play their role at the basic levels of evangelism. There is nothing to say that one church could not have many within, who take on part-time or full-time evangelism within the congregation, which would and should be cultivated.[1]

End of Excursion

Now, let us return to Matthew 24:36, which reads, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Our sinful nature would not do well if we knew the exact day and hour. We do badly enough when we simply think Christ’s return is close. We have had religions that have set dates for Christ’s return, or are constantly saying, ‘the end is near!’ The ones who set actual dates for Christ’s return: quit their jobs, sell their homes, take all their money out of the bank, and take their kids out of school. They do this either (1) to have a good time before the end or (2) to spend the last couple years yelling from the rooftops that “the end is coming!”

Jesus disciples asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus’ said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Ac 1:7) The apostle Paul wrote the Thessalonians, who had been inclined to worry excessively about the second coming of Christ. He said, “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.

Avoid Going Beyond the Scriptures

Those who are constantly saying, ‘the end is near,’ are similar, in that they do not take job promotions because it would cut into their evangelism, they do not allow their children to have university educations or plan careers because they believe that the end is near. Nevertheless, these groups are at least concerned about their evangelism, but fail to realize, we do not know when the end is coming.

We need to find a way in the time that remains, be it five years, fifty years, or five hundred years, to encourage and foster “sincere brotherly love,” and to display “obedience to the truth.” What do we need to be obedient to? (1) We need to clean up the household of Christianity. (2) We need to then, carry out the great commission that Jesus assigned, to proclaim the Gospel, to teach biblical truths,[2] and to make disciples! (Matt 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8)[3] It is our assignment, in the time remaining, to assist God in helping those with a receptive heart, to accept the good news of the kingdom. Yes, we are offering those of the world, the hope of getting on the path to salvation, an opportunity at eternal life. Just because we do not know the day or the hour, does not mean that we should be less urgent about this assignment. Remember Jesus’ illustration,

Matthew 24:43-44 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

43 But know this, that if the master 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. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Stuart K. Weber offers us some very sobering words in these verses, a wake-up call we might say,

Verse 43 is a brief parable illustrating the importance of readiness at all times. Jesus emphasized its importance with the introductory But understand this. Each of us is like an owner of the house who is about to be robbed. Not only is he unaware of the time of the robber’s coming, but he does not even know he is a target. If the ignorance persists, it represents the ignorance of a person who fails to heed Jesus’ warning about the future.

Now the head of the house, if he is informed, will be aware of the likelihood of being robbed, just as we know that Jesus is returning and that judgment will accompany his coming. But he does not know the time a robber might come, just as we do not know the time of Christ’s return. So you also must be ready (24:44). Not only is the Son of Man coming at an unknown hour, but even at a time that would seem least likely to us (when you do not expect him). If we are taken by surprise, it is not because God is out to trick us but because of our own apathetic self-deception or negligence. (Weber 2000, 408)

Who Will Survive the End?

Moreover, remember Jesus’ question,

Luke 18:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find the faith[4] on earth?”

Tent C. Butler in his Holman New Testament Commentary, gets open and honest with us. When one uses the second person pronoun “you” in their academic writing, they are trying to make a point, by looking you in the eye, and asking tough questions, or being very direct in their statements. Mature Christians can hand such writing, so let us pay attention,

18:8b. The problem is not with God. He will answer when you need it. You can count on that. The problem is with us. When Christ returns, will there be anyone here who calls out in faith day and night? Will we become so lackadaisical in our faith that we allow people of persistent prayer to become extinct? Will the second coming of Jesus find us persisting in prayer that his kingdom will come? Or will it find us trapped on the housetop trying desperately to get back into the house to find the possessions that we rely on more than we do on God? Persistent prayer, the work of the person of faith, continues on, no matter what the answer. When Christ returns, the person of persistent prayer will still be praying. Will you? (Butler 2000, 297)

Jesus asked an important question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find the faith on earth?” Most translation word it “will He find faith on the earth?” (ASV, ESV, NASB, and LEB) The actual words of “the faith” help the reader to see that Jesus was not talking about faith in a general sense. He was speaking to the kind of faith evidenced in the parable he had just told, namely, The Parable of the Persistent Widow. D. A. Carson covers this in his The New Bible Commentary,

This parable is really the closing part of the teaching about the future in 17:20–37. Like the very similar parable in 11:5–8, it makes its point not by comparing God to the unjust judge but by drawing the contrast. Probably the woman was bringing a financial case to the judge and he refused to listen because he was waiting for a bribe; she was too poor to pay, and persistence was her only weapon. If even a judge who does not honour the laws of God and man can be induced to act by the incessant appeals of a widow, how much more will God act to uphold his people when they cry to him.

In v 7 God’s chosen ones are the people who have heard his call and have responded to it. Here they are in a situation of persecution and long for God to show that they are in the right. They pray: ‘May your kingdom come.’ Will he keep putting them off? suggests that God may appear to be intractable and not answering their prayers, but in fact he will certainly answer their prayers without the need to be pressed. He will uphold his people quickly. The really vital question is not whether God will respond to prayer, but whether there will be faithful people who have persisted in prayer and not lost hope when the Son of Man comes. The parable is essentially an encouragement to continue in prayer without losing heart right through the difficult times of waiting before the Son of Man comes. (Carson 1994, 1009)

We may have noticed that Jesus did not answer his own question. It was meant, so that the disciples would ponder their own faith. Was their faith tiring out, so that they look back at the former things of Judaism? Did they have the faith of this persistent widow? We need to ponder two questions: (1) on a personal note, ‘do I have the kind of faith that the Son of Man expects to be found upon his return?’ (2) ‘Does Christianity evidence the type of faith that the Son of Man expects to find upon his return?’

Why should we be worried about the Christian faith as a whole? We want a true conservative, united evangelical, form of Christianity around the earth, who evidence their faith by their prayers, patience, perseverance, and paying attention, as well as being busy in the evangelism assignment that they were given by Christ, the one looking for “the faith.”

What Comes After the End?

This question will likely become a book in the series, WHAT IS THE MILLENNIUM? Thus, we will answer the question, enough to be satisfied, but save the deeper details for later.

As we learned above, not all Christians are going to heaven. Some will have the earth as their paradise home for eternity while others will go to heaven to rule with Christ for a thousand years. We have already discussed God’s original plan for the earth, to have a paradise earth wide, with a planet of billions of perfect humans lovingly worshiping him. If righteous ones, or those who were ignorant of the biblical hope, die before the end comes, they have the hope of a future resurrection.

Jesus Will Rule God’s Kingdom with His Co-rulers

Daniel 7:13-14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Son of Man Presented

13 “I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
14 “And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.

Luke 1:31-32 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;

John 3:13-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 And no one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone believing in him will have eternal life.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone trusting[5] in him will not be destroyed but have eternal life.

The Greek word rendered “world” (kosmos) does not mean “the earth.” It can have that meaning but here the context gives the reader the sense humanity as a whole and within that whole, only the redeemable of humankind. God’s love is so great that he has offered his precious Son for all who are receptive to God’s Word, which affords them the opportunity of moving over from death to life. – John 5:24; 1 John 3:14; Romans 8:38-39.

Life on Earth under God’s Kingdom

Isaiah 65:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree will the days of my people be,
and the work of their hands my chosen ones will enjoy to the full.
23 They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they are the seed[6] made up of those blessed by Jehovah,,
and their descendants with them.

On this, the Holman Old Testament Commentary says, “The injustices of life would disappear. Long life would be the rule for God’s people, death at a hundred being like an infant’s death that could only be explained as the death of a sinner. All of God’s people would live to a ripe old age and enjoy the fruits of their life. The age of Messiah would clearly have dawned (cp. 11:6–9). No longer would people lose their property and crops to foreign invaders. Each of God’s faithful people would enjoy the works of their hands. Labor would be rewarded in the field and in the birth place. Every newborn would escape the “horror of sudden disaster” (author’s translation; NIV, misfortune). Curses would disappear. Every generation would be blessed by God.”[7]

Revelation 21:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell[8] among them, and they shall be his people,[9] and God himself will be among them,[10] and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things, have passed away.”

“[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (21:4) These are not tears of joy but rather tears that were the result of pain, suffering, old age, the loss of loved ones, and death. The Father will not only wipe away these tears of sorrow from our eyes but, he will remove them permanently forever, as he will have removed all that would ever lead to such tears, i.e., the removal of the causes.

“Death shall be no more.” (21:4) Certainly, the enemy death has brought about more unwanted tears than anything else. After the thousand year reign of Christ, Satan will be released from the abyss for a while, succeeding to mislead many more. After that, those who have remained faithful will have the grip of death removed forever. The Father will remove the real cause of death; that is, the inherited sin from Adam. (Rom. 5:12) “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” (1 Cor. 15:26) Those who were faithful through the Great Tribulation, Armageddon, the Millennium, and the release of Satan for a little while will live for an eternity in a paradise earth, in human perfection, just as God had originally intended.

“Neither shall there be … pain anymore.” (21:4) The type of pain that is spoken of being removed here is the physical, mental, and emotional, which was brought on by the sin of Adam and the inherited imperfection that resulted after that. It will be no more.

This new life without tears, pain, mourning, crying, and death will certainly be a reality for those with a heavenly hope as they rule with Christ in heaven but also for those with an earthly hope, which is who is being spoken of here specifically. Notice that all of this was introduced with the words “the tabernacle of God is among men.” (21:3) We know that men live here on earth. Moreover, the context is describing the renewed earth where “death shall be no more.” This is referring the world where death had existed but will now be no more. Death has never existed in the spiritual heavens where the Faher, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as well as the angels,  live. However, for over six thousand years, death has existed here on the earth. Thus, the promises of Revelation 21:3-4 are meant specifically for those here on earth, which will be a restored or renewed earth.

The restored or renewed earth will be filled with people who fear God and sincerely love their neighbor. (Heb. 2:5; Lu 10:25-28.) The changes that take place as a result of God’s heavenly Kingdom, namely, Jesus and his co-rulers, will be so weighty that the Bible speaks of “a new earth,” i.e., a new faithful human society.

How is it that God “will dwell among them,” that is among humankind after Armageddon? God would turn his attention to his people in the forthcoming renewed or restored earth, setting them free from sin and death. Then God will turn his attention to Satan the Devil, the god of this wicked world. The God of peace will abyss Satan for a thousand years, and then he will crush Satan by throwing him into the lake of fire. (2 Cor. 4:4; Rom. 16:20; Rev. 20:10, 14) After all of this, Jesus will hand the kingdom back over to the Father. (1 Cor. 15:28) After that, we do not know. However, we do know that more books will be opened during the millennium, where we will likely learn more.

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[1] CONVERSATIONAL EVANGELISM Defending the Faith, Reasoning from the Scriptures, Explaining and Proving, Instructing in Sound Doctrine, and Overturning False Reasoning

[2] THE EVANGELISM STUDY TOOL Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

[3] THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK: How All Christians Can Effectively Share God’s Word in Their Community

[4] “This kind of faith.” Lit., “the faith.”

[5] The grammatical construction of pisteuo “believe” followed by eis “into” plus the accusative causing a different shade of meaning, having faith into Jesus.

[6] I.e., offspring

[7] Anders, Max; Butler, Trent (2002-04-01). Holman Old Testament Commentary – Isaiah (p. 374). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[8] Lit he will tabernacle

[9] Some mss peoples

[10] One early ms and be their God