Matthew 24 Summary and Key Verses

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

Matthew 24 is undoubtedly one of the most encouraging, yet often misunderstood, chapters in the New Testament. In this chapter, we have Jesus Himself giving very explicit details about events leading up to and during the time that He returns to earth. Although this chapter alone can be a very extensive study, a quick look at a summary and key verses of Matthew 24 can serve as a springboard into deeper study.

What is the context of Matthew 24?

It is important to always look at the context of any verse or passage of Scripture so that a fuller understanding of what it teaches can be gained. In Matthew 23, Jesus had just reproved the Pharisees at the temple for their hypocrisy and the burdens that they placed on the people. He concluded His reproof by warning them that the blood of the righteous that was shed throughout the Hebrew Old Testament was upon them and their house, the temple, would be left desolate (Matthew 23:34-39).

Of particular note was that Jesus said to the Pharisees that they would not see Him again until they said, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). This sets the time of reference to a time in the future when Jesus would come again. We know this because, Jesus had just ridden into Jerusalem on an ass just prior to this and was received by the people with these very words (Matthew 21:1-11). This also tells us that what He said in Matthew 24 was right before He was crucified and Jesus was referring to what the Jews would proclaim when He came to rescue them from destruction at His second coming. Therefore, the context of Matthew 24, is a time right before the crucifixion when Jesus condemned the Jewish religious leaders and their house of worship because of their rejection of Him. In consideration of the context of Matthew 24, we must also view the events that Jesus described as applying to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.

Matthew 24 Summary and Key Verses

After this, Jesus left the temple, but not before telling the disciples that the buildings of the temple would be completely destroyed (Matthew 24:1-2). They went to the Mount of Olives and the disciples asked Him when the temple would be destroyed and what was the sign of His coming (Matthew 24:3)? Jesus replied by telling them to take heed so that no man would deceive them (Matthew 24:4). He then described the events that were going to happen as follows:

Jesus gave the 12 signs of His second coming (Matthew 24:5-12)

Jesus described 12 signs that would occur before He came again. The first five were described as the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:8). The next four describe a generalize turning of humanity against each other. The last three describe the cultural result of the turning of humanity against each other. These 12 signs are as follows:

  • There would be false Christs (Matthew 24:5)
  • There would be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-7)
  • There would be famines (Matthew 24:7)
  • There would be pestilences or widespread diseases (Matthew 24:7)
  • There would be earthquakes in new or different locations (Matthew 24:7)
  • There would be persecution, killings, and hatred of the Jewish people (Matthew 24:9)
  • There would be many people who are easily offended (Matthew 24:10)
  • There would be widespread betrayal of one another (Matthew 24:10)
  • There would be widespread hatred of people against other people (Matthew 24:10)
  • There would be many false prophets that will deceive the masses (Matthew 24:11)
  • There would be widespread injustice, immoral behavior, crime, and unholiness (Matthew 24:12)
  • There would be a coldness or indifference to others instead of love (Matthew 24:12)

Jesus told what will happen when all 12 of these signs are seen (Matthew 24:13-41)

Jesus told how those who are alive and survive through the times when all 12 of these signs take place worldwide and immediately after will be saved, or rescued. Some people erroneously believe that this is teaching that people who do good works until Jesus comes will be saved as in saved from going to hell. However, we know this is not what it is saying because the chapter proceeds by describing specific events that will take place, culminating with the return of Jesus to rescue them. The events described are as follows:

  • The gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all the world by the church (Matthew 24:14)
  • The abomination of desolation, spoken about by Daniel will conquer Israel and stand in the holy place in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15)
  • The Jewish people will flee (Matthew 24:16-20)
  • A time of great tribulation like never before in human history will take place (Matthew 24:21-29)
  • After the tribulation, Christ will return to earth as described in Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 19 (Matthew 24:30-36)
  • The remnant of Jews waiting for the Messiah will be rescued and the rest will be carried away like those who perished in the flood (Matthew 24:37-41)

Jesus gave direction and a warning to believers in the future (Matthew 24:42-51)

Jesus concluded this prophecy by directing the believers to watch and be ready for His coming. He also charged the believers to remain faithful in their work for the Lord. Finally, He warned that there will be people (unbelievers) who deny the coming of their lord (lower case) because they do not acknowledge the coming of the Lord (upper case). These people will not be rescued, but will be destroyed at the coming of Christ, like those in the flood.

Conclusion

Matthew 24 is undoubtedly one of the most encouraging, yet often misunderstood, chapters in the New Testament. The context of Matthew 24, is a time right before the crucifixion when Jesus condemned the Jewish religious leaders and their house of worship because of their rejection of Him. Jesus gave the 12 signs of His second coming. He also told what will happen when all 12 of these signs are seen. Finally, He gave direction and a warning to believers in the future. In consideration that all 12 of the signs that Jesus mentioned are beginning to be seen on a worldwide basis today, believers can know that it will not be long before the final events take place and our work has never been so important as it has today.

Something else that might interest you: Bible Verses About End Times

Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. Williams, Michael, (2013). Bible Doctrines. Albuquerque, NM: Selah Mountain Bible Institute.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John Davis May 2, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Sorry but I have to disagree here. Jesus was plainly speaking to the disciples and made it very clear that these things were going to happen in their lifetime. He was only speaking to them, there was no one else around. Jesus was clearly speaking about the early persecution of the church and finally in Matthew 24:15, Jesus says that when they saw the “abomination that causes desolation” all in Judea were to flee to the mountains. This happened when the Roman Emperor desecrated the temple and ended animal sacrifice in the late 60’s AD. Jesus told them specifically how not to be fooled and then told them of very specific things like the sun being darkened, the moon not showing light, the stars falling from the sky. Then finally Jesus said that He Himself would appear coming on the clouds of heaven. This is exactly what He told Caiaphas at His trial and said they would be witness to this, in other words ALL of the men who condemned Him to death would see His return. This is all leading up to the destruction of the temple in AD 70. Furthermore, Jesus plainly states in Matthew 24:33-34 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree. As soon as it’s branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near at the door! I assure you this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place” So it is rather impossible for Jesus to have been speaking about events some 2000 years in the future and would have been incredibly wrong and irresponsible for Him to tell His disciples of events that would take place that they would not even be alive to witness when He clearly says they would not pass away before all of those things took place. I am sorry but just by reading Jesus words in Matthew 24:34 you are wrong to believe and teach that these “12 signs” are just NOW beginning to happen.

I no doubt believe that you are a very strong Christian who loves the Lord Jesus as much as I do, and I hope that you will take my criticism of your article here as one brother to another.

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Dr. Michael L Williams May 3, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Thanks for your comment John. Considering the space limitations of this article you do bring up interesting points. However, with your interpretation there are many things that did not happen as Jesus said, the greatest of which was His return. I understand that preterist or replacement theology advocates also claim that this was all fulfilled in 70 AD with the destruction of the Temple, but the reference to “this generation” as suggesting it would occur in their lifetime leave major holes in this prophecy. Even in Acts 1, when the disciples saw Jesus after the resurrection, they thought that Matthew 24 was being fulfilled (Acts 1:6). They had no clue that there would be a church age that would fulfill the “fullness of the gentiles” taking place before He would return in the clouds. It was obvious to them at His ascension that it was not the time. The destruction of the temple in AD 70 was just the beginning and pointed out as clearly taught in Hebrews 10 that there remained no more sacrifice for sin in the Old Testament practices at the temple. This is why Hebrews 6:1-6 says it was impossible to renew them to repentance, because as believers, they were returning back to the temple to offer sacrifices for sin under the Law that pointed to their need for a Savior. They were not confessing their sins, they were offering a sacrifice that pointed to the need for a Savior. Their sacrifice was tantamount to crucifying Him Christ afresh because it denied that He was the lamb that ended that system and the need for a temple. Likewise, “this generation” as mentioned in the context of this passage refers to the generation that is alive when these things occur, not the generation that was alive at the time Jesus told them this. If this is not so, then we have already seen the tribulation period, the great tribulation and the return of Christ to establish His millennial Kingdom. Those things simply have yet to happen, despite people since the days of the apostles claiming it had occurred, predicting when it would occur, or it would never occur. In addition, it is very clear that if you put Matthew 24 along side Revelation a large portion of the verses in Matthew 24 are specifically referenced in Revelation as coming in the future. John completed the book of Revelation about 96 AD, so it is obvious that those things had not yet occurred or he would have specifically mentioned it as would any other Apostle that may have been alive in AD 70 (some Apostles died before this). Likewise, 1 Thessalonians would also have to be redefined as having already occurring, which includes the revealing of the anti-Christ and the resurrection of the church before God poured out His wrath on the entire earth. The same goes where 2 Peter 3:10 describes the heavens passing away and even the elements melting, which is describing the coming apart of the very atoms that make up all physical matter and is tantamount to nuclear meltdown of cataclysmic proportion. Historically Preterists and Replacement theologians have gotten around this fact by claiming that the book of Revelation was not inspired by God and should never have been included in the Bible along with any other writings after 70 AD. The apologist view would also support that even in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, something as significant as the return of Christ as the fulfillment of Matthew 24 to establish His Kingdom on earth and the resurrection is nowhere to be found. I appreciate your comments and respect your willingness to discuss this. Blessings

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