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Matthew 24:36

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Revelation 22:12a

Look, I am coming soon!

We know that Christ will return sooner or later. What is the significance of saying that He will come soon while He does not know the date?

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    – agarza
    May 15 at 3:34
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    Since it is unknown when he will return it is always imminent. I come 'quickly' does not mean 'I am coming soon'. That is a poor translation. When he comes it will be rapid and immediate : with quickness.
    – Nigel J
    May 15 at 7:42
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I suggest that the simplest explanation is that Jesus made the statement in Matthew 24:36 during His mortal life, at which time He did know know exactly when His coming would be. But He was fully confident in the fulfillment of His Father's plan, so not knowing the exact date did not in any way limit His confidence in teaching about what was to come.

Between the time of the Matthew 24 sermon and His pronouncement in Revelation, He made this significant statement:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)

After the resurrection, whatever veil there was limiting His knowledge while in mortality, was now gone.

So by the time the apocalyptic vision was given to John, Jesus did know the time of His coming.

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  • Yours is a very good response. +1. I should have addressed the OP more thoughtfully.
    – Xeno
    May 15 at 3:29
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    The Son knows not the time. The Father does. By saying 'the Son' precludes the matter of human manifestation. Even saying 'the Son (of man)' still emphasises the Divine Sonship for he is not the son of any man. Only 'of' or 'by'' man.
    – Nigel J
    May 15 at 7:45
  • @Nigel J can you clarify how your comment relates to my post? May 15 at 14:50
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    You imply some kind of dichotomy within the Person of Christ. Some kind of disfunction between his humanity and his Deity. But He is One Person, not two. With one mind, not two. And one memory, not two.
    – Nigel J
    May 15 at 15:28
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    I respect your comment regarding 'increased in wisdom and stature'. This whole is a sensitive issue as it has bearing on the unique Person of the manifested Son of God. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    May 15 at 16:15
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Comparing one sentence of Jesus while on earth (at the end of Matthew’s gospel) with one sentence of the risen Christ (at the end of the Revelation of Christ to John) requires appreciating the significance of time, location and divine prerogative. I do not intend to delve into all of that. I would simply say that the felt need to reconcile only occurs with us earth-bound mortals who are trying to grasp eternal verities. And I would suggest that the 14th chapter of Revelation reveals something of the matter of when God provides knowledge of the timing of Christ’s ‘coming’, which Jesus referred to both at the end of Matthew’s gospel account and of the Revelation Jesus gave to John.

The preamble to this is that Jesus said in many of his parables that he would go away for a long time (to a far country – heaven) before suddenly returning, like a thief in the night, and “at an hour you do not think”. Matthew’s gospel adds, “And he shall gather his wheat into the garner,” “Gather the wheat into my barn,” and “The harvest is the end of the world” – Matthew 24:44; 3:12; 13:30 & 13:39. Immediately before he appears to start the day of resurrection and judgment, his own (the good wheat) will have been safely harvested by him. Then, in Revelation 14 the risen Christ provides more details about that:

“And I [John] looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple [in heaven], crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” (vss. 14-15)

Then another harvest is detailed by another angel who comes from the altar [in heaven], another sickle being used by an angel to gather the vine of the earth, to cast it into the massive winepress of the wrath of God. Now, here is an expository quote:

“An angel commands the Son to reap, Revelation 14:14. This seems to present a difficulty… ‘And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped’ [vs. 16]. Yes, but who or what was a created angel to command one like unto the Son of man? [Then quotes Hebrews 1:4, 6 & 2:9 to show Christ’s superiority to angels.] “Nevertheless, risen, he is crowned with glory and honour, and the passage in Revelation 14:15 shows him to be head over all. How then shall an angel command him? This is resolved by observing that just as the reference in Hebrews 2:9 was qualified by that in Hebrews 1:6, so the scripture ‘Of that day’ – the same day as ‘the day of reaping’ in Revelation 14:15 – ‘knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father’, Mark 13:32. Hence the Father sent the angel – who was but his messenger – out of his holy temple to convey the Father’s long awaited commandment to one like unto the Son of man: ‘Thrust in thy sickle, and reap’, Revelation 14:15.” [“The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, pp. 405-406, John Metcalfe]

The book then explains how a distinct angel of judgment comes from the altar (in heaven), after ‘the earth was reaped’. The Son of man reaps the firstfruits once God sends an angel to tell him to reap. Yet the second reaping, of the vine of the earth with its ripe grapes, follows instantly, by an angel.

“This implies that the wheat harvest, as opposed to the gathering of the grapes of the vine of the earth, is an entirely separate event: the two representing as different a form in agriculture, as do the sheep and the goats in nature. Therefore the appearance of another angel having a sharp sickle in his hand, cannot possibly be in respect of that harvest of the firstfruits already reaped by one like unto the Son of man, though the gathering of the grapes follows instantly… Revelation 14:19, again, this is an old testament figure. But what does it signify? It is a figure of the resurrection of damnation in the day of judgment.” [Ibid. pp. 407 & 409]

This is where Acts 17:31 completes the picture. God has appointed the day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the one he raised from the dead – Jesus Christ. The Father’s prerogative is to appoint that day of judgment, which is also the day of the resurrection of the dead, but Christ knows (and has always known) that he comes for his own immediately before the grapes of wrath are gathered. Only the saints see the Son when he comes for them. The inhabitants of the earth ‘see’ only the sickle of judgment swiping them up and into the winepress of the wrath of God. They have been caught unawares as with a thief coming in the night. That is why the Revelation depicts God commanding an angel to tell the Son when to gather the firstfuits, for there will be no time lapse between that and the judgment on the ‘weeds’ as opposed to gathering the good wheat. One event will follow on from the other immediately. Hence the imminent aspect of the whole end-time scenario. Jesus knew there would be a long time (humanly speaking) between his return to heaven and coming to gather his own, then to immediately judge the wicked. He told his own to be always ready, in case he should return in their life-time, but from the standpoint of eternity, a couple of thousand years is only a couple of days. He will come soon enough, but not a moment too soon, for it is the Father’s prerogative to state when, exactly, those rapid events will explode.

This does not imply any inferiority on the part of the Son, only total co-operation and harmony. One person in the Godhead never infringes on the responsibilities of the other two persons, but all three work in unity, together, as one. The prerogative of the Father is to give the command as to when a certain event will start, and the Son does it instantly God sends an angel to say “Reap!”.

Unfortunately, sinful human reasoning is that of a pyramid-like hierarchy – and that is why some see a dichotomy where there is none. Further, the correct translation of Revelation 22:12 is that Christ promises to come quickly, not ‘soon’, and scripture shows breath-taking swift and decisive action on that awesome day. The Greek word ‘tachu’ means ‘speedily’ (as shown in Young’s Analytical Concordance p. 790). Anyone checking its N.T. usage will see that it refers to rapid action, not an event soon to happen: Mat. 5:25; 8:7,8; Mk. 16:8; Jn. 11:29; Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:11; 11:14, 22:7, 12, 20. This shows there is nothing to reconcile between those two verses you ask about.

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The Son, standing in the position of the Son of Man (v. 37), does not know the day and hour of His coming back.

Watchman Nee's comments is helpful:

In reading the Bible, the hardest thing for us to do is to differentiate between the divine nature and the human nature of the Lord Jesus. Sometimes we can differentiate between the two; at other times we cannot do it. Sometimes it seems as if we can make a distinction, and at other times it seems as if we cannot do it. Here the Lord Jesus was referring to His humanity; it shows that He Himself was a fully humble servant, who knew nothing except to accept His Master's will. When we read the four Gospels, the most important thing is to remember that the Lord Jesus has both the divine and the human nature. Sometimes they only speak of His human nature, sometimes they only speak of His divine nature, and sometimes they speak of both His divine and human natures. Those who understand this will be saved from many misunderstandings. (The Christian Vol. 7)

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Does not the Son know the future events? How does anybody know future events? Of course by Holy Spirit (John 16:13) who searches and knows even the depths, i.e. the entire fulness, of God (1 Cor. 2:10)! Now, Jesus Christ has this very Spirit completely and infinitely (John 3:34), thus if, in virtue of this, Jesus also fully knows God the Father - as He clearly says (John 10:15) - then it is simply impossible for Jesus Christ not to know His own Second Coming, for nothing can be more stupid and absurd than to say that one knows the entirety of God (which necessarily includes the entirety of God's knowledge also), but does not know this entirety's tiny detail, i.e. the Second Coming's time.

Having established that Jesus Christ knows the time of His Second Coming, we can firmly CONCLUDE: There is not any contradiction whatsoever between the Matthew 26:36 and Rev. 22:12a.

Another question is why does Jesus Christ say that the He, the Son, is ignorant about the Second Coming, when He is of course cognizant of it? And it is an interesting and a legitimate question, but it is another question, as said, and a subject of another inquiry in Christian theology.

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Clarity can be gained by understanding how Jewish weddings are performed. The father knows when the wedding is. When he is ready, he tells the son, who then sends messengers to his bride. The bride and groom are expected to ready and properly dressed at any moment (See the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25). Once the bride and groom announce their intentions to marry, it kicks off a series of events. They may not know when the wedding is, but it will be soon. This is a high level overview of what "soon" can mean. For specifics, examine the rest of Matthew 24. When asked when Jesus is coming back, instead of saying "soon" he gives a series of clues. Examining these clues will help answer your question:

  • Be sure no man deceives you (Matthew 24:5). Compare this to 1st horse (1st seal) Revelation 6:2 - And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. This rider on a white horse cannot be Jesus, for Jesus comes on a white horse in Revelation 19:11-16. Therefore, the rider of the white horse in Revelation 6:2 is The Deceiver, a time of deception. Hence, let no one deceive you. In fact, Jesus repeats this 4 times through Matthew 24, more than all the other clues.

  • You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6). Compare this to the 2nd horse (2nd seal) in Revelation 6:4 - And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

  • Famines, pestilences, earthquakes in various place (Matthew 24:7) Compare this to the 3rd and 4th horse (3rd and 4th seal) of Revelation 6:5 and 6:7.

  • You will be slaughtered for My name's sake. Compare this to the 5th seal in Revelation 6:9 - When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.

  • The 6th seal is described further down in Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken Compare this to Revelation 6:12-14: When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

It at this point that Jesus says that he will announce his arrival. What does this have to do with your question, no man knows the day or the hour? Depending on how you look at it, everything. There are 7 feasts that Jews celebrate. I won't go into detail here, as it is too much - but each feast is not only a remembrance of things past, but a rehearsal of what is to come.) All of them have nicknames of some sort. One of them, Feast of Trumpets is known as "the day and hour of which no man knows" because it is determined by the moon. But as we look as the 6th seal, it says that the sun is blackened and the moon turned to blood. It will not be possible to determine when the feast will start. God the Father, the Creator - will know when that is, but the Son won't. But, we do know a trumpet is used to make an announcement, whether it be an arrival or a warning.

Matthew 24 is basically a Reader's Digest version of what plays out in Revelation. The parables of Matthew 25 is more of the same. (You'll notice that the Groom came with a shout (elsewhere described as a Trumpet in the parable of the 10 virgins). The "end" of the bible is essentially a wedding, so to not know the day or the hour of when we will get married doesn't really make sense. When my wife and I got married, we initially didn't know the day or the hour just yet, only that it was soon. I apologize for the lengthy post, but some foundation had to be laid in order to fully understand what your question really means. Hope that helps!

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Matthew 24:36 says he does not know the exact time but he knows it will be soon in Revelation 22:12. Right now, Dr. Fauci does not know exactly when the US economy will be back to normal but he knows that it will be soon. There is uncertainty in the precise time but there is certainty in its fulfillment.

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