Should Pretribulationists Reconsider the Rapture in Matthew 24:36–44? -- By: John F. Hart
JOTGES 21:41 (Autumn 2008) p. 43
Should Pretribulationists Reconsider the Rapture
in Matthew 24:36–44?
Part 3 of 3
Professor of Bible
Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL
The previous two articles of this series have contended that Matthew presents Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ two questions (Matt 24:3) in a chiastic structure. In vv 4–35, Jesus answered the second question, “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” (v 3b). His answer revealed new prophetic truth about the future seventieth seven (week) of Daniel (vv 4–28). It is only after the Great Tribulation with all its telltale events that Jesus will be manifested to the entire world (vv 29–31). In vv 32–35, Jesus clearly taught that the nearness of His return to earth could be known in the same way that the spring budding of a fig tree is the announcement that summer is near. But the evidential happenings that lead to the Second Coming of Christ in Matt 24:29–31 cannot be harmonized easily with Jesus’ description of His Parousia in Matt 24:36–44. The transitional nature of v 36 has been discovered to be the solution to this dilemma.
Beginning at v 36, the Lord addressed the first question of the disciples (“When will these things happen?” v 3a). Since v 36 is introduced by the specialized Greek phrase, peri de, the verse shifts the perspective slightly. Jesus now declared that the coming of “that day,” the day of the Lord, could not be known. Jesus also paralleled His Parousia with the unexpected, sudden arrival of the flood (vv 37–39). Basing their prophetic understanding on the teachings of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, Paul and Peter declared that the day of the Lord would come suddenly at a time of “peace and safety” (Paul’s wording in
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