Who is Jesus talking about?
By Craig C. White
Question: Michelle Marsh
Wanted to know what you thought about Matthew 24? I used to be a pre-trib rapture believer until I read what Jesus said when he was specifically asked. He did not mention anything about not worrying because he was going to zap us out before the real trouble begins. But specifically verse 9 troubles me because it says they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you….what is your take on this chapter?
Answer: High Time to Awake
The gospels are very important since they record Jesus Christ’s genealogy, standards of righteousness, forgiveness of sin, miracles, fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and Christ’s death as payment for the worlds’ sin. The message of the four gospels is to be understood by church age believers. We should also understand that most of Jesus’ teaching, parables, and prophecy are specifically directed to the nation of Israel. Jesus was sent especially to seek and to save the lost sheep of Israel.
Mat 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Mat 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
It is sometimes difficult to know who is being addressed in the New Testament. Is Jesus talking to the nation of Israel or is he talking to the church? A rule of thumb is that Jesus was sent to the Jews first and primarily. The gospel of the coming kingdom of God was preached first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Jesus primarily taught the nation of Israel. The four gospels were written about Jesus’ life and ministry. They primarily address the nation of Israel. Of course, there is plenty of teaching to be absorbed by church age believers. The disciples taught the Jews first and then the other nations. The epistles to the churches were written specifically to church age believers!
Act 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Let’s take a quick look at Matthew 24. I know that preachers and prophecy buffs like to identify false teachers and natural disasters as signs of Jesus’ return for his church, but I think that these signs were written about the nation of Israel during the Great Tribulation. They are signs of Jesus’ second coming to defeat Israel’s enemies and set his throne in Jerusalem forever.
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Jesus is talking to and about the nation of Israel here. The word for “nations” in verse 9 below is the Greek word “ethnos”. It is often translated as “gentile”. Ethnos refers to non-Jewish nations. It doesn’t refer to all countries in the world. It refers to all families or people groups. In practical terms it refers to old world nations that came from specific families; like the Greeks, Turks, Egyptians, Syrians, Iranians, Saudis, Jordanians, and many more. So in verse 9 Jesus isn’t saying that church members will be hated, but that the entire nation of Israel will be hated by all surrounding countries.
Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
In the verses below Jesus isn’t addressing the church, but he is warning Jews during the 7 year Tribulation period. Many Jews will disregard God and his promises to Israel. Many Jews will be killed. But those who trust God to the end will be saved. Please read my commentary titled “The last Jews in Jerusalem”.
Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
In Matthew 24:14 below the gospel is preached in all the world. This happens during the Tribulation period as described in Revelation. So Jesus is addressing people during the Tribulation.
Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
The following verses are obviously addressed to Jews living around Jerusalem. The inhabitants of Judea are called by name in verse 16.
Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
That was a quick look at Matthew 24, just so we can determine who Jesus was talking to and about. Today the church is suffering at the hands of the nations, but the nation of Israel is scheduled to suffer 7 years of Tribulation.
Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
I hope that helps.