This is the last installment of our six-part series. The last reason why verses 36–44 refer to the immediate context of the coming in verses 30–31 is found in a helpful parallel passage in the gospel of Luke. The passage in Luke 17:22–37 parallels Matthew 24:23–41. Luke reads:
(22) Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. (23) Then people will say to you, ‘Look, there he is!’ or ‘Look, here he is!’ Do not go out or chase after them. (24) For just like the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. (25) But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. (26) Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. (27) People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage—right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. (28) Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; (29) but on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. (30) It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed. (31) On that day, anyone who is on the roof, with his goods in the house, must not come down to take them away, and likewise the person in the field must not turn back. (32) Remember Lot’s wife! (33) Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. (34) I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. (35) There will be two women grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” (37) Then the disciples said to him, “Where, Lord?” He replied to them, “Where the dead body is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:22–37)
Notice Jesus uses the illustrations in verses 26–37 (cf. Matt 24:37–41) to apply to the coming in verses 22–24 (cf. Matt 24:21–27). This is shown especially in the two sets of parallel expressions in Luke:
the days of the Son of Man (v. 22).
the days of the Son of Man (v. 26).
For just like the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day (v. 24).
It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed (v. 30).
This coherency in Luke’s account undermines Hart’s bifurcation of Matthew’s parallel passage. In addition, Matthew places the following proverb in the immediate context of the parousia event, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Matt 24:28), while Luke places the proverb at the conclusion of the illustrations. This indicates for both Matthew and Luke the proverb serves to encompass the single coherent coming of our Lord.
The foregoing reasons have demonstrated that verses 36–44 naturally relate back to verses 4–35, specifically verses 30–31. There is only one coming of Jesus in view, not two. By disconnecting these two passages from each other undermines Jesus’ intended teaching for his church. Thus his urgency is for his people to take heed when Antichrist’s great tribulation occurs.[i]
[i] Incidentally, pretribulationists who disrupt the coherence of the two passages in the Olivet Discourse would never disconnect, as premillennialists, the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:1–3 from the aftermath of the battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19:11–21 by retrojecting the binding of Satan all the way back at the first coming of Christ. Instead, they would rightly connect the binding of Satan to the aftermath of Armageddon. Yet disruption of the coherence of the text is exactly what they are doing with their interpretation of the Olivet Discourse, whether they are aware of it or not.