The Three Letter Word Oun (Therefore) in Matthew 24:15 Refutes Pretribulationism

“Therefore (oun) when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),” (Matt 24:15 NASB)

There is a segment of pretribulationists who cast the entire Olivet Discourse (Mt 24-25) into the “Jewish Basket,” thereby claiming that Jesus’ words should not be heeded by the church. However, there are some sober pretribulationists who recognize that in the Great Commission Jesus said he would be with them (the church) up to the end of the age (Mt 28:19–20). Accordingly, these pretribulationists concede that the church will be on earth up to verse 14, which notes the end of the age: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14 ESV)

But here is where their tradition gets the best of them. They ignore that little conjunction in the next verse, “oun” (therefore). What do I mean by this?

In verses 9-14 Jesus spoke of “tribulation,” the persecution of the saints. Then in verse 15 Jesus begins to explain how this persecution will come about. He is not beginning to teach about another subject, nor is he changing his audience. Verses 15-31 is significant because verse 15 introduces one of the most important structural verses in the Olivet Discourse. A surprising number of interpreters gloss over the parenthetical nature of this section, which clarifies and unpacks the previous section. Verses 15–31 do not follow chronologically verses 9–14; instead, it thematically develops the tribulation, persecution, and spiritual action the believer is to take.

We know this to be the case for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, grammatically, verse 15 begins with the conjunction oun, rendered “therefore.” This conjunction functions inferentially as a “deduction, conclusion, or summary to the preceding discussion”(1). Jesus gives the additional detail that those who experience the persecution that is described in verse 9, will do so through the consequences of the abomination of desolation that causes great tribulation.

Second, notice in verse 15, Jesus says, “Therefore when you see.” He has the same audience in view from verse 9. There is absolutely no justification to claim that the “you” in verse 15 is a different “you” in verse 9. By claiming two different groups of people is indicative of a tradition imposed on Jesus’ intention.

The oun (therefore) teaches us that the church will encounter the Antichrist’s great tribulation. Perhaps, we should heed Jesus’ warnings about this, instead of explaining them away.

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1. Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 673.

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