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Matthew 24:36-44 (ESV):

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Noah's flood was a literal, worldwide cataclysmic event that wiped out pretty much all life on earth, except what was kept safe within the ark. By comparing it to Noah's flood, was Jesus implying that his second coming would also involve an extraordinary worldwide event that everyone would notice?

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  • Do you take Noah's flood as a “literal, worldwide cataclysmic event”? Jun 28 at 10:32
  • @MigueldeServet - at least that's the impression I get from reading the Genesis account. Do you think I shouldn't? Jun 28 at 14:16
  • Instead of answering your question, let me ask you a different question: does your expectation of the future second coming depend on the truth of Noah's flood as a “literal, worldwide cataclysmic event”? Jun 28 at 14:32
  • @MigueldeServet - partially, yes. It also depends on what Jesus truly meant by his analogy. His second coming will be comparable to Noah's flood, but comparable in what sense? Jun 28 at 15:19
  • His second coming will be comparable to Noah's flood, but comparable in what sense? That's easy: the Flood is presented as a judgment on all humanity, except for 8 people! Jun 28 at 15:28
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The description of Jesus' second coming in Matt 24 is both grand, big and dramatics, eg,

  • V27 - visible from east to west
  • V29 - sun and moon darkened and stars shaken
  • V30 - all the peoples of the earth will morn as they will all see the coming of the Son of man with power and great glory
  • V31 - accompanied by a loud trumpet call of God to gather all the elect from every nation
  • V36-41 - an event comparable with Noah's flood - big and worldwide

This is consistent with the rest of NT teaching about coming of the Jesus in places like Heb 9:28, “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Here we learn several important matters:

  • That Jesus will definitely appear a second time
  • That the function of Jesus’ first coming was to take away sin (that is provide the atonement for sin)
  • The second coming is to provide salvation – specifically “Glorification”.

Note also -

  • It will be glorious, visible and unmissable because of great events in the heavens and earth (Matt 24:27, 29-31, 16:27).
  • The Second coming will also be very loud and audible as described by the trumpet call of God (Matt 24:30, 1 Thess 4:16, 17).
  • It will be preceded by a time of “tribulation” (Dan 12:1, Matt 24:9, 10, 21, 22, 29, 30, Mark 13:19). See also 2 Tim 3:1-5.
  • The time of tribulation will be associated with the coming of the “Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet” (Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14, see Dan 9:27, 11:31, 12:11). See also 2 Thess 2:4-10. In both of these references the great “man of lawlessness” (2 Thess 2:3) will stand in the “holy place” or “in the temple of God” (2 Thess 2:4) and further, the process of corruption and deception was already at work in Paul’s time. It also appears that the time of trouble/tribulation will be somehow precipitated by this “man of sin”. Dan 11:40 – 12:3.
  • Jesus’ second coming will be preceded by the Gospel going to the whole world (Matt 24:14, Mark 13:10).
  • The second coming will also be preceded by a rash of false claims about the coming of Messiah and false prophets (Matt 24:5, 11, 24).
  • Jesus will return personally and visibly just as He left (Acts 1:11). Indeed, Rev 1:7 says that every eye will see Him.
  • The second coming is associated with the great final judgement (Acts 17:31) for which the righteous eagerly await and are delighted to see (Isa 25:9) but the wicked rue and ask for destruction (Rev 6:15-17, 18:8, 2 Thess 2:8, Ps 68:2)
  • The second coming will involve the resurrection of the saints and their translation to heaven (1 Cor 15:52-55, 1 Thess 4:16, 17).
  • Jesus’ end-time prophecies also contain a prediction that many Jews will become Christian near the end of time (Matt 23:37, 38, Rom 11:25, 26). However, these do not necessarily involve a Jewish state.
  • There is nothing secret about the return of Jesus except the date, 2 Peter 3:10, 1 Thess 5:2, Matt 24:32-41, 42-51, Acts 1:7. The actual event will be seen by all.
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  • (1 )Jesus’ second coming will be preceded by the Gospel going to the whole world (2) The second coming will also be preceded by a rash of false claims about the coming of Messiah and false prophets Do you consider (1 ) as substantially happened? Jun 28 at 10:38
  • @MigueldeServet - almost - there are a number of countries where the Gospel has not been preached yet such as Iran and Saudi Arabia where it is illegal.
    – Dottard
    Jun 28 at 10:41
  • @Dottard, it might be illegal, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen (as with alcohol). And for the last hundred years there have been many evangelical radio broadcasts, receivable everywhere. Jun 28 at 14:50
  • @RayButterworth - that is clearly true. But even in modern western secular "free" countries such as USA, England and Australia, there are many people, devout atheists who have never heard the Gospel - they know Christians but have a highly distorted view of what it is all about and will not even listen
    – Dottard
    Jun 28 at 21:33
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This is one of the most commonly misunderstood passages in the Bible.

First, Matthew 24:36 is not addressing Jesus' second coming. Jesus' sentence doesn't really end there, but continues, explaining the meaning with the flood example for context. And what happened in Noah's time?

Jesus' listeners knew the story well. Jews of that time made it a practice to memorize the Torah (books of Moses) by the age of 12, and this story was only 6 or 7 chapters into Genesis--among the first they would have learned.

On the day that Noah and his family entered the ark, God shut the door (Genesis 7:13,16). But the flood didn't come that day, nor the next, nor the next. Noah waited seven days before the rain began to fall (Genesis 7:4). During those seven days, none of the people knew that their fate had already been sealed. They continued eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away. What, we might ask, did they not know during this time?

Jesus is equating the day of his coming with the day of Noah's entry into the ark. But Noah didn't enter the ark the same day that the flood came, so this "day" cannot refer to the flood. The significant event of that day was, instead, the close of probation for those left outside the ark. But they didn't know that their probation had already closed until the flood actually came seven days later.

Jesus' coming will be like that: People's probation will have closed before Jesus comes--but they will go on about their business unaware of the fact. There is no particular sin in eating, getting married, etc. These activities simply are indicative of the fact that the people were carrying on in a state of normality, not knowing that God had come to them in judgment already, and that their cases had been decided, their probation closed.

The coming of the flood of Noah, seven days after the more important event which determined each one's fate, parallels Christ's second coming. But the "day" that no one will know is not actually that day of His coming. It is the day when the "door" shuts.

There are two "comings" addressed in the New Testament: Jesus' coming in judgment, and His coming in glory. The former is as a thief in the night; it creeps up upon each individual without any announcement or warning. The latter is clearly not as a thief, for no thief makes sure that every eye will see him, nor does he sound a trumpet at his coming!

The coming as a thief and the coming in glory are two separate events.

Yes, the Second Coming will be grand, glorious, and world-wide. Jesus will come with clouds of angels, and every eye will see him (Revelation 1:7).

But the "day and hour" of which no one will know, the one which comes as a thief in the night, is the day of judgment when the destinies of all are decided in the courts above.

The message is to be ready now; do not procrastinate. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) while you still have opportunity.

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Is Jesus implying that his 2nd coming will be a literal worldwide event as in the days of Noah? Matthew 24:36-44

Answer: Absolutely.

My post on this subject may not be the popular one. It is definitely not easy to understand; I suspect most who read it will walk away scratching their heads because it will require some amount of reflection on the distinction between time and timelessness.

[Note: If one has a superficial understanding of General Relativity, it might be helpful, but it is certainly not required. Nonetheless, the spirit has no mass — just something to think about.]

First, the OP is absolutely correct to ask the question in terms of Matthew 24:36-44 because it is here that Christ answers the last of 3 questions:

Matthew 24:3: "[Christ's] disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, (1) when will these things [Temple stones be "thrown down"] happen, and (2) what will be the sign of Your coming, and of (3) the end of the age?”

Here is that question, paraphrased, along with Christ's response: "Tell us when the end of the age [will come]". This is the one in view by the OP. It is a question regarding Christ's answer to when the end of time will occur. This is the question that Christ answers throughout Matthew 24:36-44. Recall how He responds:

Matthew 24:36-41: “But of that day and hour [Christ's return] no one knows [there will be no warnings], not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be."

What is He telling everyone who reads this? 1) That Christ's return will be unanticipated! No one will expect a thing; there are to be no signs:

Matthew 24:44: “[You] must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will"

And, 2) there is a very specific "day and hour" that it will occur. It will not be something that occurs over the course of a week! And, precisely what will happen in that "day and hour"?

2 Peter 3:10: "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up."

We should understand that words have meaning. And, everyone who has read these passages for the past 2,000 years has expected Christ's return. So, why didn't they see it? Why has this apparently never occurred to billions of people who have anxiously waited for the Lord?

In fact, the Lord's return is the greatest promise of the New Testament (other than eternal life for the saints). Here are some of the verses I have compiled regarding Christ's reappearance:

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With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves a question: What event in the life of every human being comes to them as a "thief in the night"? What is the single unexpected occurrence that every person must face at some point — without exception?

I suggest there is really only one answer: physical death — the moment we transcend our lives in the flesh to meet God. For the purposes of illustration, suppose we consider an aged, devout saint named Tom. He has been in the hospital for weeks with a terminal illness. Finally, the "last day" arrives and he expires from his affliction. Has Tom not just departed this finite, material world of time to enter God's realm of timelessness?

And, because it is timeless, no time elapses from Tom's perspective: everything occurs at once because time as we now recognize it ceases to exist for him. While Tom may, or may not realize this, he is making his journey to the end of time (though this takes mere seconds as far as Tom is concerned). While he does so, dozens or hundreds of years of history are elapsing on earth.

Here, suppose we reflect on another passage by Christ:

John 6:40: “[Everyone] who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (emphasis added).

From Tom's perspective, is not this "last day" his last day, just as it is with all of us?

Many will immediately claim that Tom "waits" in the grave" for 5 years, or 5 centuries — before he is awakened from death by Christ. But this concept is fundamentally contrary to Christ's explicit declaration:

John 8:51; 11:26: 51“Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” 11:26[Everyone] who lives and believes in Me will never die" (emphasis added).

What?! How can these statements be true? Isn't Tom dead in that grave? Yes, Tom's dead body is certainly in that grave. But where is Tom's spirit — his consciousness, his being? Well, from Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians, we know that:

2 Corinthians 4:16: "[Though] our outer man is decaying [and will die], yet our inner man [our spirit] is being renewed day by day."

From this passage, we should understand that, spiritually, our "inner man/woman" is becoming stronger by the day. The spirit does not die and it does not sleep. That is why there is no "night" in heaven but only a single, eternal day! No one will sleep in the paradise of God. Only the physical body sleeps, or dies. Tom's spirit is perfectly alive, traversing the threshold between finite time and eternity.

And, that is the point that Christ is making. The only way His words make any sense is that saints never consciously experience death. (I do not believe this is true for the lost, but that is another discussion.)

Christ repeatedly tells us that He will never set foot again on earth — rather, He will return with the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64, Mk. 14:62, Acts 1:11, 1 Thess. 4:17, Rev. 1:7, etc.). Here is just one of the passages that emphatically attests to this fact:

Mark 14:62: “'I am [the Christ],' said Jesus. 'And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

As I have done before (despite the cost), I will again embed 5 figures below that depict this series of events:

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

Let us examine a few passages that describe this moment explicitly:

1 Thessalonians 4:17: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

How does the illustration above not depict this very occurrence? The verse is telling us that all saints will be caught up together to meet Christ in the air. The words simply could not be clearer. Those faithful who have perished are already making their journey out of time to meet the Lord in the air ("clouds of heaven").

So, did Christ never return to any of the people dating back to the first century, just as He promised?

John 14:3: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

Christ's "return" is the moment we transcend this world to instantly join Him in paradise.

Everyone who is saved will meet the Lord in the air at the same time exactly as we're told. What this means is that Christ doesn't return to us; we step into His eternal Presence with the Father! It would be very easy to quote dozens of passages (many that I've embedded above) that speak to this fact.

Note this too: everyone will both see and hear the trumpet of God, and they will do so the moment they are transformed from this finite world of sin and death. Since we will have entered a timeless realm, there is NO waiting. Everything happens in the twinkling of an eye:

1 Corinthians 15:51-53: "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality." (emphasis added).

Here is something very significant. During the days of Joshua, after Israel had crossed the Jordan — the river of death — they were soon to conquer Jericho. As they did this, they were to shout and blow their trumpets on the 7th day. Upon the last trumpet God had given them the city.

This is symbolic of our physical death (crossing Jordan), and being given the new city: the New Jerusalem of heaven! We, therefore, might think of the last trumpet as the our last breath of life as we enter Christ in paradise! (Yes, there will undoubtedly be a loud trumpet at that same time.)

Every eye will see it, that is, all the faithful throughout history. Naturally, for we who remain on Earth, time continues to forge ahead. However, for the faithful, like Tom, who have departed this world, there is no longer any passage of time — an irresistible consequence of timelessness. Again, although these conditions represent a future event to us, no saved soul will exist as a disembodied spirit without physical form. One might conceptualize the proposed circumstances this way: our individual death and Christ’s return are essentially synonymous.

In response to the OP, Christ is definitely telling us His 2nd coming will be a literal event, exactly as described in Matthew 24:36-44.

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This is not an easy question, and I will give my answer only because it does not require a particular (denominational) POV.

It is too long to explain here why I have come to this conclusion, but I consider Genesis, Chapters 1-11 not literally true, but only "true in some sense", which, I must admit, sometimes entirely escapes me.

This being premised, I don't know whether the narration of Noah's Flood (Genesis 6-8) contains some memory of some real events, but even if it is in the Book of Scripture, it goes against all we know from the Book of Nature.

Did Jesus believe in the literality of Noah's Flood? I don't know.

If Jesus was not referring to a literal Noah's Flood, why did he use that image to speak of the "coming of the Son of Man"?

I believe that Jesus was resorting to a very well known page of the Scripture, and using the image of suddenness of Noah's Flood as an invitation to his disciples to be constantly ready for Judgment.

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