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.
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.
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.