Matthew 24:27 YLT


for as the lightning doth come forth from the east, and doth appear unto the west, so shall be also the presence of the Son of Man;


Two things to note:

  1. The Greek word for lightning here is ἀστραπή (astrape or something like that). I see what I think is the root astro there which makes me think this is more about stars than electrical discharges in the earth's atmosphere.

  2. Lightning does not go east to west. The sunrise does however.

Also Luke 17:22, 24


And he said unto his disciples, 'Days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not behold it;

and they shall say to you, Lo, here; or lo, there; ye may not go away, nor follow;

for as the lightning that is lightening out of the one part under heaven, to the other part under heaven doth shine, so shall be also the Son of Man in his day


Again, lightning does not always do this, but the sunrise does.

It is like Jesus is saying when his day comes you will know it. You can't hide it anymore than you can hide the dawn. It fills the whole sky, and it is very bright, and it stays.

Would it be more accurate to render lightning in these places as sunrise or illumination?

If we makes this substitution in other places where this Greek word is used, it seems to work.

  • Luke 10:18
  • Luke 17:24
  • Matthew 24:27
  • Matthew 28:3
  • Revelation 4:5
  • Revelation 8:5
  • Revelation 11:19
  • Revelation 16:18

None of these instances look like they have to be talking about thunderstorm lightning as we understand the word in English - just bright light.

I am asking this question here because Greek is not my forte.

  • 1
    ἀστραπὴ Strong 796 occurs nine times in scripture, relating to light in the sky, light associated with noise (presumably thunder) light from a candle, and the appearance of an angel (Mathhew 28:3). The word is never associated (in scripture) that I can find, with the sun. It is necessary to examine all nine places in context to determine the overall meaning. But this is interesting, so +1.
    – Nigel J
    May 8, 2019 at 19:45
  • The slight conundrum in the question is its professed association with both the Greek word for 'star', and the 'sun'. Either it is like the sun or a star, but not both in the same verse, at least biblically. Or is the OP saying the sun is a 'star', according to a scientific perspective? Either way, the context seems to be one of darkness; otherwise how would the shining in the west necessarily be seen?
    – user21676
    May 8, 2019 at 23:31
  • Jesus probably just means that as lightening can/does appear (this is often the meaning of this tense of word) from two opposite ends of the sky, 'at once' (instantly, i.e. like lightening), that is, He will appear to all, no matter where they are, at once. Because lightening is known to light up opposite ends of the sky in an instant (readingchronicle.co.uk/resources/images/13796020.jpg). Aug 7, 2022 at 13:29
  • @colboynik astrape is ligtning. perhaps "from east to west" simply means from one end of the visible sky to another end. once i traveled by bus in Turkey and saw such a long zigzag of lightning, that was more horizontal than vertical, by my own eyes. Aug 7, 2022 at 17:24

3 Answers 3


First, the word translated lightening Matt 24:27 is ἀστραπή (astrapé). According to BDAG this means either:

  1. "Lightening" as per Rev 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18, and is used as proverbially of brilliance in Luke 17:24, Matt 28:3 and great speed Luke 10:18.
  2. "Light" as of a lamp in Luke 11:36.

Its cognate relative, ἀστράπτω (astraptó) is used in Luke 11:36, 24:4 to mean flash, gleam, or dazzle.

If the Bible writers had wanted to say "sunrise" (as they did in other places such as Luke 1:78) they might have used a word like ἀνατολὴ (anatolē), or even ἥλιος (hélios) as in Matt 5:45, 13:6, Mark 4:6, 16:2, etc.

The sense of ἀστραπή (astrapé) in Matt 24:27 is one of brilliant visibility across the whole sky - thus will be the coming of the Son of Man. The same is true in Luke 17:24.

The Pulpit commentary offers these remarks on Matt 24:27.

As the lightning...east...west. That is, shines from one end of heaven to the other. St. Chrysostom's comment explains the similitude: "How, then, shineth the lightning? It needs not one to talk of it, it needs not a herald, but even to them in chambers it shows itself in an instant of time throughout the whole world. So shall that coming be, showing itself at once everywhere by reason of the shining forth of his glory." We are told, "every eye shall see him." His advent shall be sudden, universal, unmistakable; in a moment he shall be present, visible in all his power and glory. From the language of this verse probably has been derived the orientation of churches, and the mode adopted of depositing the bodies of deceased Christians, so that they may at the resurrection face the Lord when he comes from the east.

  • True - but metaphors are rarely complete. Lightening here is one of brilliance and visibility. Persistence is not the point being made here.
    – user25930
    May 8, 2019 at 22:39
  • "Lasts all day" is an extrapolation. The day of the coming of the Lord is common idiom for the time of the coming. But that is another question. Even if your assertion was literally true, it does not detract from the force of the metaphor of lightening.
    – user25930
    May 8, 2019 at 23:35
  • Good point that there is separate, better word for sunrise. What about just "light" (that is what thjs word means strictly, right?) and daylight is inferred? The east to west thing just seems to demand "daylight" instead of "lightning". Plus in Matthew 24:26 Jesus is warning the disciples not to believe anyone who said Jesus was secretly somewhere. His point was when He returned it would be obvious to everyone - "clear as day" as we say in English. Also daylight is more brilliantly visible across the whole sky than lightning.
    – colboynik
    May 9, 2019 at 4:10
  • 1
    You cannot impose a meaning that is not there. The fundamental meaning of ἀστραπή (astrapé) is bright dazzling light - NOT from the sun because the Greek has other good words for that - photos, or hemeras, or augazo (2 Cor 4:4), or, diaugazo (2 Peter 1:19), or epiphosko (Matt 28:1), etc. Besides, daylight is NOT always dazzling, especially on a cloudy day.
    – user25930
    May 9, 2019 at 5:54
  • I upvoted your comment.
    – colboynik
    Oct 14, 2019 at 0:29


Yes, it could be the sunrise….and more specifically speaks of the effects of the early morning sunrise as the initial beams of light shoot forth across the darkened environment at the break of dawn.

The presence of the Son of man has the effect upon the heart where His light shines out of the darkness as God commanded the light to shine out of darkness…shining within our hearts.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 KJV (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Jesus said that He is that “bright and morning star” and this Light is within our hearts and is the sign of the presence of the Son of man as opposed to false prophets who rely on outward signs that they perform in order to deceive us. False prophets do not have this effect of the light shining within our very own hearts.

Revelation 22:16 KJV (16) I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Literally speaking, the “bright and morning star” is our arising sun in the morning at the start of the day. Our sun is a star in the universe.

Spiritually speaking, it is the “sun of righteousness” that arises…irradiates/shoots forth beams of light….within the hearts of those who fear His authority (as they are found doing His commands) at the hearing of His voice (at His presence).

Malachi 4:2 KJV (2) But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

It is within us and not exterior as Jesus stated. An evil generation looks for outward signs.

Luke 17:20-24 KJV (20) And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

False prophets do not have this inward sign of the Son of man that comes at the presence of the Son of man. Instead, they rely upon showing us outward signs of supposed inward realities. All they have is outward signs that they show and perform in order to fascinate and deceive us. Those who “desire” to literally see with their literal eyes are fascinated by them.

(21) Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

It is not seen outwardly with the literal eye but comes within our hearts and is the sign of the presence of the Son of man.

(22) And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. (23) And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.

The light shines….beams…in the break of the Day of the Son of man and it will be very evident within the heart that this is the real deal....the true Son whom we are to listen to.

(24) For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. (25) But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

The light shall shine in a dark/obscure place….within the heart…as we hear His voice as He will open up the Scriptures to our minds.

The day will “dawn”….rays of light shall break forth in the darkness….and the “day star’….the morning star….shall arise within our hearts. We shall know then within our own hearts that this is His Son whom we are to hear as His Day becomes brighter and brighter within as we take heed on how we hear.

2 Peter 1:19-21 KJV (19) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Lord shall gather out of His kingdom all of those things that cause us to trip(the handwritings of church dogmas that are against us and contrary to us….the teachings and commandments of men that the scribes have written for us to keep and serve) as He shall give us understanding.

Then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.

Matthew 13:43 KJV (43) Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The light comes out of the “east” (the dawn, the arising of light, the dayspring) and shines (appears, lightens) unto the “west” ….the sun set…where the darkness is as the sun had gone down previously.

The beams of light shoot through the darkness of the heart at His “coming”….that is, His presence (parousia)….and we know that this is truly Him speaking as compared to false prophets who do not have this effect upon our hearts when they speak deceitful words ….handling the Word of God deceitfully for money’s sake.

Matthew 24:27 KJV (27) For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

  • Peace. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful picture of Venus...the morning "star" and also the evening "star" as it can be seen also after the sun goes down. The planet Venus does not shine on its own as a star does but reflects the light of our sun towards us. I love to get up early before the sunrise and unexpectedly seeing it.
    – MSW
    May 10, 2019 at 22:38

Perhaps the "lightning" of Matt.24:27 would be better translated as "brightness" to illustrate the coming of the Son of man. Vs.30: "and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory". This may be the greatest understatement in the bible; the glory here will be infinitely greater than that experienced by the shepherds at Jesus' birth. This event could be for an extended period of time so that the tribes of earth will mourn. Here at last will we "see all these things" (vs.33) and know that it is near, even at the doors. Only now can "imminence" begin.

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