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Matthew 24:24

"For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect."

My question is: the false messiahs and prophets will deceive even the elect, with respect to what exactly?

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Deceived from the Way of God

The meaning of being deceived or led astray means to deviate from the straight path or the Way of God. The characteristics of a deceiver or any false believer is described as lacking the fruits of righteousness. Since, God's way only pertains to the way of righteousness, the ungodly are proven to be the workers of disobedience or lawlessness. Thus, false prophets and Messiahs deceive believers on the identity of the true Messiah, as well as the commands of God just as the serpent. Peter's and Jude's epistles are especially written to warn and describe the traits of the deceivers. (Cf. Matt 7:23, Luke 13:27, Ps 5:6; Ps 6:8; Ps 28:3; Ps 101:8; Ps 125:5; Hos 9:12; Matt 25:41; Rom 6:16)

  • Ps 119:115 ​Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.
  • Ps 119:176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
  • Prov 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
  • Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
  • Jude 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Matt 7:15-20 ESV

15​“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19​Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

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Matthew 24:24 cannot be read alone, it is part of a context

21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.

24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:21-24 NIV)

It prophesizes that there will be a time the world in great turmoil, so great that every individual on earth will be shaken in profound upheaval. During this period, false messiahs and false prophets will appear to deceive people. They succeed to gather a large crowd, but not the elect who are faithful to God. However, if the time of the turmoil were to extend indefinitely, even the elect could find their conviction wavering (no one would survive vv23). To safeguard the elect from failing, those days will be shortened, and it ends before the elect could possibly be led astray.

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