No One will Know When Jesus will Return?

In Matthew 24:36 we have the famous statement that no one will know when He will come back (Second Coming). But is that what it actually says?

In Jesus’ statement “no one knows,” the verb “knows” was in the perfect tense, which is literally “no one has seen” (or discovered). He did not say no one can know. The force of the perfect tense is that up to that point in time no one had discovered this, not even Jesus. The parable which follows in vss. Matthew 24:42-44 portrays not knowing as a bad thing and knowing as a good and necessary things so that His followers can actually be “watching” during the right time. Below is my translation of Matthew 24:36,42-44 which corrects some of the sloppy translations we have today.

Matthew 24:36, 42-44 (LGV) 

36 “Yet about that day and the hour no one has seen,[1] not the messengers of the heavens, except My Father only.” …

42 “Watch then, because you have not seen[2] which hour your Master is coming. 

43 Yet, learn this: that if the home owner had seen[3] which watch the thief is coming, he would have watched and would not have permitted his house to be plundered.

44 Through this[4] you also become ready,[5] because you do not know which hour the Son of Man is coming.”

[1] οἶδεν is the Greek verb for “see” in the perfect tense. The perfect tense in Greek indicates a past completed action with results that continue to the present.

[2] Same as previous note

[3] Here the same verb is in the pluperfect tense, a hypothetical.

[4] Διὰ τοῦτο literally, “through this” or “by this”

[5] γίνεσθε – Strong’s #1096, refers to something coming into being. The noun “genesis” comes from this root verb. The verbs for “generate” and “beget” are also closely related. Here it is in the imperative mood – a command.

The Greek word translated “be” (in the clause “be ready”) is γίνεσθε which does not mean “be” (as in remain in a static state of readiness) but rather “BECOME” ready (as in you are not yet ready but you must become ready). So Jesus’ repeatedly saying that you do not know the day or hour was NOT a statement about the impossibility of knowing, but was pointing out that believers were not ready and that they need to get ready. In the above parable, “become ready” points back to the parable of the master of the house who was not ready BECAUSE he did not know the hour in which the thief was coming. The message of the parable is unless you BECOME ready, the same fate will befall you if Jesus comes during your lifetime.

It is not wrong to seek to discover the time of Jesus’ return.

Daniel did in chapter 12, but he was told that it was “sealed up” until the time of the end, but then “the wise shall understand.”

According to Peter, all of the prophets sought to understand the TIME of both Christ’s first and second coming (1 Peter 1:10-11). Seeking to discover the time is simply obeying Jesus’ command in Matthew 24:44 to “become ready” so that you can “watch” appropriately, unlike the man in Jesus’ parable who did not know, thus did not watch, and consequently bad things happened to him.

By Tim Warner

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