Matthew 24J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
24 1-2 Then Jesus went out of the Temple, and was walking away when his disciples came up and drew his attention to its buildings. “You see all these?” replied Jesus. “I tell you every stone will be thrown down till there is not a single one left standing upon another.”
3 And as he was sitting on the slope of the Mount of Olives his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will this happen? What will be the signal for your coming and the end of this world?”
4-14 “Be careful that no one misleads you,” returned Jesus, “for many men will come in my name saying ‘I am christ’, and they will mislead many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars—but don’t be alarmed. Such things must indeed happen, but that is not the end. For one nation will rise in arms against another, and one kingdom against another, and there will be famines and earthquakes in different parts of the world. But all that is only the beginning of the birth-pangs. For then comes the time when men will hand you over to persecution, and kill you. And all nations will hate you because you bear my name. Then comes the time when many will lose their faith, and will betray and hate each other. Yes, and many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many people. Because of the spread of wickedness the love of most men will grow cold, though the man who holds out to the end will be saved. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed to men all over the world as a witness to all the nations, and the end will come.
Jesus prophesies a future of suffering
15-22 “When the time comes, then, that you see the ‘abomination of desolation’ prophesied by Daniel ‘standing in the sacred place’—the reader should note this—then is the time for those in Judea to escape to the hills. A man on his house-top must not waste time going into his house to collect anything; a man at work in the fields must not go back home to fetch his clothes. Alas for the pregnant, alas for those with tiny babies at that time! Pray God that you may not have to make your escape in the winter or on the Sabbath day, for then there will be great misery, such as has never happened from the beginning of the world until now, and will never happen again! Yes, if those days had not been cut short no human being would survive. But for the sake of God’s people those days are to be shortened.
23-28 “If anyone says to you then, ‘Look, here is Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ don’t believe it. False christs and false prophets are going to appear and will produce great signs and wonders to mislead, if it were possible, even God’s own people. Listen, I am warning you. So that if people say to you, ‘There he is, in the desert!’ you are not to go out there. If they say, ‘Here he is, in this inner room!’ don’t believe it. For as lightning flashes across from east to west so will the Son of Man’s coming be. ‘Wherever there is a dead body, there the vultures will flock.’
At the end of time the Son of Man will return
29-31 “Immediately after the misery of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, the moon will fail to give her light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of heaven will be shaken’. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will wring their hands as they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky in power and great splendour. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet-call and they will gather his chosen from the four winds—from one end of the heavens to the other.
32-41 “Learn what the fig-tree can teach you. As soon as its branches grow full of sap and produce leaves you know that summer is near. So when you see all these things happening you may know that he is near, at your very door! Believe me, this generation will not disappear till all this has taken place. Earth and sky will pass away, but my words will never pass away! But about that actual day and time no one knows—not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, only the Father. For just as life went on in the days of Noah so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood people were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage until the very day that Noah went into the ark, and knew nothing about the flood until it came and destroyed them all. So will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left behind. Two women will be grinding at the hand-mill; one is taken and one is left behind.
42-44 “You must be on the alert then, for you do not know when your master is coming. You can be sure of this, however, that if the householder had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been ready for him and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. That is why you must always be ready, for you do not know what time the Son of Man will arrive.”
Vigilance is essential
45-51 “Who then is the faithful and sensible servant whom his master put in charge of his household to give others their food at the proper time? Well, he is fortunate if his master finds him doing that duty on his return! Believe me, he will promote him to look after all his property. But if he should be a bad servant who says to himself, ‘My master takes his time about returning’, and should begin to beat his fellow-servants and eat and drink with drunkards, that servant’s master will return suddenly and unexpectedly, and will punish him severely and send him off to share the penalty of the unfaithful—to his bitter sorrow and regret!