February 5, 2023 The One Who Endures to the End Will Be Saved Part Two

The One Who Endures to the End Will Be Saved

Part Two

February 5, 2023


Read 24:13-44.

Chapter 24 of Matthew records what is known as the Olivet Discourse because Jesus spoke to his disciples on the Mount of Olives. There are three views with respect to understanding the time frames involved in the teaching of our Lord here. One is that the entire chapter is still future to us. That is, none (or very few) of the events described by Jesus have happened yet. This is known as the Futurist view and is exemplified by the Left Behind series of books and movies.

Another view is that the entire chapter has already been fulfilled. That is, all of the events described by Jesus have already happened and that in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This is known as the Preterist view.

The correct understanding is found in recognizing that our Lord is answering two questions that the disciples have posed to him. These questions are found in verse 3:

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”[1]

The first question, “When will these things be?” refers to the destruction of the temple that our Lord had described in verse 2. Our Lord answers this question in verses 4 through 35 of this chapter. We began to consider this part of the chapter last week.

The second question, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” he answers beginning at verse 36.[2]

We ended our last study at verse 13:

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. [3]

We saw that the salvation to which our Lord referred was not a physical salvation (from injury or death), but he meant salvation from perdition. He meant spiritual salvation.  This principle was vital to the first disciples and it is vital to us. It is not how we begin our journey of faith that determines our destiny. It is how we end! Many start out strong. They believe in the facts of the gospel. They are assured that, because they have made a profession of faith that they are “saved” (so an evangelist or preacher might tell them). But it is not so! It is not a profession of faith that saves. It is the reality of faith that saves a person. Whether a person’s faith is real or not is not known until the end of their journey.[4]

The disciple today, you and I, must remain vigilant and seek to be faithful to the Lord “unto death.” (Rev. 2:10)

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. [5]

The end is the destruction of the temple or the end of the Jewish age (the Old Covenant), not the end of the world. Was the gospel preached “throughout the whole world” by 70 AD? The word for “world” here is oikoumene, meaning “the inhabited world,” or that world of people controlled by the Roman Empire. It does not mean the planet earth. This is proven by its use in other passages of the NT:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.[6]

Did the people in China need to take the census? Of course not, it was just that part of the world controlled by the Roman government.

And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).[7]

Was there a famine among the American Indians? Unlikely, since the weather conditions (the cause of famine) in the Middle East and Southern Europe would not be the same as weather conditions in the Americas. It was a famine affecting the nations that constituted the Roman Empire.

The gospel was proclaimed throughout the Roman Empire before 70 AD. Already by the mid-50’s, when Paul wrote the letter of Colossians, this had been accomplished:


We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing[8]


“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.[9]


What is the abomination of desolation? Everything the Lord is describing in chapter 24 up to verse 35 are events in the first century prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. He is warning his hearers to flee when they see it. He identifies this abomination as spoken of by Daniel, meaning that it will be like the one Daniel described. It cannot be the same one because Daniel’s abomination (Daniel 8:13; 11:31; 12:11) referred to “the king of the north,” Antiochus Epiphanes, who conquered Jerusalem in 167 BC, prohibited the Jews to sacrifice, and spitefully set up an altar of his own in the temple where his soldiers sacrificed pigs in order to insult and demean the conquered. Daniel’s abomination, future to him, was 200 years in the past when Jesus is speaking. Thus, the abomination that the disciples are to look for would occur in their lifetime and would be a desecration of the temple similar to the one the Jews experienced in 167 BC. The similarity would be in the fact of desecration, not in the form of desecration. “All that the test asserts is that some act of sacrilege will alert Judeans that disaster is about to fall.”[10]


Only two historical events match this description. France describes one: “When the Roman troops eventually broke into the temple, the presence of their (idolatrous) standards in the sacred precincts would inevitably remind Jews of Antiochus; Josephus even mentions Roman soldiers offering sacrifices to their standards in the temple courts (War 6.316).”[11]


However, this happened too late to provide a signal for escape. Once the Romans entered the temple grounds they slaughtered any there. Therefore, although this event satisfies the description of our Lord it cannot be what he intended it to be: an indicator to escape!


The other event is the taking over of the temple by the Zealots in 67/68 AD. These Zealots were led by John of Giscala, a ruthless and bloodthirsty man, who murdered his rivals including the high priest at that time, Ananus ben Ananus. Josephus describes this horror in War 4.150-157 and 196-207. The murders took place in the temple and human blood flowed where animal blood once did. Therefore, the abomination would be the murders that took place in the temple. Once this was known, the followers of Christ did flee to the mountains and were saved from the slaughter by the Romans, which happened shortly thereafter (the siege of Jerusalem lasted 3 ½ years!).


For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.[12]


We see, then, that the “great tribulation” is not something future to us, but describes what has already happened. It may be that there could be more tribulations in our future, but the great tribulation of which Jesus warned was to happen in the lifetime of his hearers (vs. 34). Very interestingly, Josephus, who was present during the siege and an eyewitness, uses the very same words that our Lord used when he says that “none of the disasters since the world began can compare to the fate of Jerusalem.”[13]


“In passing, we should note that ‘nor ever will be again’ confirms that this passage is about a historical event, not about the end of the world! The horror was in fact ‘cut short’ by the Roman capture of the city after five months, bringing physical relief to those who had survived the famine in the city. But even this ‘natural’ process of conquest is attributed to the purpose of God to enable his chosen people to survive.”[14]


It could very well be that there is yet to come in our future, a great tribulation. For example, Ezekiel describes a great war in the Middle East and, historically, there has been no war in that part of the world that matches Ezekiel’s description. So, there may yet be a tribulation to come upon Israel. But, a tribulation future to us cannot be proven from the Olivet discourse. The tribulation described here in chapter 24 is that of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 68-70 AD. This is further proven by comparing Matthew 24 with Mark 13 and Luke, chapters 19 & 21, where some of the same descriptors are used and it is abundantly clear that our Lord is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, not the end of the world.


Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.[15]


Josephus describes these very things in Ant. 18.85; 20.97; 20.168-170; and War 2.259. Namely, the uncovering of Moses’ sacred vessels, the parting of the Jordan river, the collapse of the city walls, and “miraculous signs” unspecified. These were all performed by those claiming the power of God and seeking followers. Like the magicians in Moses’ day, these were all counterfeit miracles. Although it is hard to imagine how the Jordan river could have been parted, when one considers how amazing modern magicians are (even making planes and cars disappear!), there is practically no limit to how far deception can go.


For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.[16]


“The parousia of the Son of Man will need no such claims or proofs: everyone will see and recognize it. He is thus setting the parousia and the end of the age decisively apart from the coming destruction of the temple. The one may be seen coming and prepared for, but the other will carry no prior warning.”[17]


Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. [18]


This contemporary proverb is simpler than many try to make it. Trying to find representations for the vultures (eagles in some versions) and corpses is the wrong approach. It is wrong because no matter how you assign the meaning of vultures and corpse, none make sense of the context. The context is the second coming (from verse 27). This is especially clear in Luke 17:37. All our Lord is saying is that in the same way that you can be sure that there is a corpse on the ground when you see vultures circling above, you will also be sure when the Son of Man comes. It will be obvious, just as lightning is obvious. Just as vultures circling make it obvious that that there is a carcass on the ground.


Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.[19]


The difficulty that people encounter in understanding this verse is due to an ignorance of the Old Testament. Most people read this and assume that the sun will actually become dark, as well as the moon. They think that stars or meteors will fall to the earth. But this is poetic language describing judgment as it appears in the Old Testament upon the enemies of Israel (and even Israel itself!).


“The first two lines are taken from Isaiah 13:10: the words are almost all the same as those of the LXX (Septuagint).”[20] The rest of the verse is cited from Isaiah 34:4. “These two Isaiah texts are the most obvious sources for Jesus’ words here, but there are other examples in the OT prophets of similar imagery drawn from cosmic disorder and darkness; see Ezek. 32:7-8; Amos 8:9; Joel 2:10, 30-31; 3:15….In Isaiah 13:10 the reference is to the coming destruction of Babylon, and in Isaiah 34:4 to a threatened judgment on “all nations,” which is then narrowed down specifically to Edom. Language about cosmic collapse, then, is used by the OT prophets to symbolize God’s acts of judgment within history, with the emphasis on catastrophic political reversals.”[21]


“The use of this prophetic imagery enables the reader to understand that what is to be destroyed is not just a magnificent building, but the center of power comparable to ancient Babylon.”[22]

Then will appear in the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.[23]

The same difficulty attends to this verse. Ignorance of the Old Testament leads some into a woodenly literalistic interpretation. But this saying of our Lord is a clear allusion to Daniel 7:13-14. “We have seen at 10:23 how the imagery of Daniel’s vision requires that these passages be interpreted not of a ‘coming’ to earth at the parousia but of a ‘coming’ to God in heaven to be given the universal dominion declared in Daniel 7:14. These are enthonement texts.”[24]

The word “coming” here is not parousia, Matthew’s apparent term for the Lord’s second coming to the earth, but a more common word that has been used before for either a coming in judgment (upon Jerusalem) or a coming to God in heaven (as per Daniel 7).

The “seeing” in verse 30 is not a seeing of sight but a seeing of understanding. “The time of the temple’s destruction will also be the time when it will become clear that the Son of Man, rejected by the leaders of his people, has been vindicated and enthroned at the right hand of God, and that it is he who is now to exercise the universal kingship which is his destiny. That is how Daniel’s vision is to be fulfilled.”[25]

What is the sign spoken of at the beginning of verse 30? The ESV reverses the order in the original language (Greek). The order of words in Greek is as follows: “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.” This is the same order that the NIV has.[26] When we see the word order we can then ask if the phrase “in heaven” modifies “the sign” or “the Son of Man.” In other words, what is in heaven? The sign or the Son? If it is the sign then the disciples need to be looking for some sign in the sky. If it is the Son then this fits perfectly with what we have already seen implied through Daniel’s vision.

“The tribes (peoples) are to see the vindication and enthronement of the Son of Man in heaven, but how are they to ‘see’ it, that is, to know that it is true? Not perhaps by a celestial phenomenon, but by what is happening on earth as the temple is destroyed and the reign of the ‘Son-of-Man-in-heaven’ begins to take effect in the gathering of his chosen people. In that case the ‘sign’ is not a preliminary warning of an event still to come, but the visible manifestation of a heavenly reality already established, that the Son of Man is in heaven sitting at the right hand of Power (26:64).”[27]

“The disciples had asked for a ‘sign’ of the parousia and the end of the age, but Jesus would give no such sign because the parousia will be sudden and unexpected (vss. 27, 36-44). He has urged them, too, not to interpret current events as signs of the end for Jerusalem (vss. 4-14)…he has warned them that visible ‘signs and wonders’ are rather the province of false prophets (vs. 24).”[28]

And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. [29]


Once Jesus is enthroned the gospel will go forth to every part of the earth. Indeed, this has come to pass! The gospel has gone to the farthest reaches of the earth! The angels could refer to people (the word translated “angel” just means “messenger”), but Matthew always uses it to refer to heavenly beings. “…in this context of the heavenly authority of the Son of Man it probably refers to the spiritual power underlying human evangelization.”[30] So, when we share the gospel, angels are helping us! Praise God!! Thank you, Lord!


From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. [31]


“The appearance of its (the fig tree) new shoots is a clear harbinger of summer, and once they appear the observer may know for sure how long it will be before the fruit is ready. In the same way the occurrence of the preliminary events (the Roman advance and siege) will inform Jesus’ disciples clearly that the process which will end in the temple’s destruction is under way and the end is near.”[32]


Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. [33]


Verse 34 proves that all of the events that our Lord described thus far, already happened. Every time that Matthew uses the phrase “this generation,” he referred to the people to whom Jesus was speaking! It cannot be some future generation. Nor, does it mean a race of people. See 11:16; 12:39, 41-42, 45; 16:4; 17:17, and especially 23:36. Consistency demands that we understand “this generation” as those to whom Jesus was speaking.


What must we take away from your Lord’s words in Matthew 24?


  1. Neither the day nor the hour that our Lord is going to return is known. It will be unexpected! This means that we must be ready at all times for his return! He could come this afternoon! He could come this evening! He could come later this week! Do not be like the unbelievers who have heard that Jesus is coming back but say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”[34] Rather, know that he may come at any time! Make yourself ready! Because, once he returns, it is too late to get ready. If you are not ready then you may find that you will be in outer darkness instead of the wedding feast!
  2. Only those who endure until the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13). Sadly, there are even some who think they belong to the Lord (because they said a prayer or were baptized), but do not endure. These are not even saved at all! Do you manifest the fruit of regeneration? Do you assemble with other Christians for study and worship regularly? Do you hunger for God’s word? Do you share the gospel? These are the fruits of regeneration.
  3. In order to ensure our salvation is real (2 Cor. 13:5) and to get ready for the Lord’s return, we must be done with lesser things. Put Christ first. It is not hard if you possess the Spirit. Instead of wasting time on the news and YouTube videos, stay in his word. Meditate on the word. See where you fall short (we all fall short in some areas, do we not?). Renounce a sin.  Walk with the Lord.


“Lord Jesus, come soon! We love you and long to see you! Come and destroy your enemies. Come and deliver your people into your kingdom! Amen.”




[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:3). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] For proof that this is the best understanding of our Lord’s discourse see R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew. Or, The Olivet Discourse Made Easy by Kenneth Gentry.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The individual can still possess an assurance of faith and even a confidence, but it is more difficult for an outsider to ascertain a person’s right standing with God. This is because man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 2:1). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 11:28). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 1:3–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:15–20). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] France, 912.

[11] Ibid, 913.

[12] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:21–22). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[13] France, 915.

[14] Ibid.

[15] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:23–26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[16] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:27). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[17] France, 918.

[18] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:28). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[19] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:29). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[20] France, 921.

[21] Ibid, 922.

[22] Ibid, 923.

[23] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (NIV). (Mt 24:30).

[24] France, 923.

[25] Ibid, 924.

[26] Also ASV, KJV, RSV, NMB, OJB, and YLT.

[27] France, 926.

[28] Ibid.

[29] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:31). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[30] France, 928.

[31] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:32–33). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[32] France, 929.

[33] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:34–35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[34] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (2 Pe 3:4). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.