Unlike the section we’ve been studying, the last part of chapter 24 is not difficult to understand as long as we remember to keep it in its proper context. As we discovered back at the beginning, verse 34 signals transition from the first part of the question that the disciples put to our Lord in verse 3 to the second. Verse 35 then picks up with a new subject: Jesus’ coming and the end of the age.
The Day and Hour Unknown
Jesus makes very clear the fact that nobody knows when He will return. There will be no signs, no check lists, and no way to discover when He will return until it happens. The section from verse 35 through verse 41 uses the days of Noah to show a comparison to His coming; people will be surprised. Notice also that for those who are not prepared to enter into the ark, for those who have not heeded the call to righteousness, this will be a day of doom. Verses 40 and 41 use the picture of two people; one is taken and one is left. This has caused some problems with interpretation, but when taken in the context of the entire passage (35-51) it becomes most likely that Jesus is indicating that one will be taken to judgment, and the other left alone. This seems to be the strongest interpretation in context, even though many commentators liken it to a “rapture” scenario seeking to apply 1Thessalonians 4 here. A case can be made, and you are free to choose your favorite. The most important point is to remember that Jesus will return, and we will all be surprised when He does.
Verses 42 and following repeat and reinforce the fact that Jesus’ return will come at a time when it is not expected, and begins to assert the imperative of readiness on our parts. This will be the entire theme of chapter 25, and goes on to a major covenant priority: our need to keep the terms of the New Covenant to live our lives as Christ would live. If we keep faith with our Covenant, we will be surprised and delighted at His coming. If we do not, then when He comes, we will be surprised and horrified.