therefore they say to you, ' Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go forth,
or, ' Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from
the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man
- Matthew 24:26- 27
has been warning the Jewish remnant during the second half of the seven-year
tribulation to watch out for spiritual deception. Jesus referenced " the elect" (verse 24) for the second of
three times in which that term is used in this passage, which refers to the
Jewish remnant who will come to Christ during the tribulation. Jesus continues His instruction and
warnings to " the elect" in verses 26- 28.
Watch Where You Look
(verses 26- 28) from Christ' s Olivet Discourse is pretty much only found in
Matthew' s account. Jesus is
continuing His warning to the elect about how to not be misled. In essence He is saying that if someone
comes to you during the tribulation and says that the Messiah is hide away
privately somewhere then do not believe anyone' s account of this. Why? The reason for scepticism is because when the Messiah does
return it will be of such a public nature that there will not be any doubt that
He has arrived. It will be the
false Christs and false prophets who will attempt clandestine, backroom
appearances for the purpose of deceiving.
Nevertheless, if the passage says anything, it shouts that the return to
which Jesus speaks will be a bodily, physical and public advent.
It is interesting
that the preterist view of how Christ comes in this passage is closer to the
kind to which Jesus warns the elect to beware. If you want to see an example of obfuscation and sophistry
at work note these two examples.
Preterist, Dr. Kenneth Gentry, says the following about this passage:
emphatically the Lord warns his disciples he will not come in a visible, bodily
manner in those days. He twice
states that any report of his physical presence would be erroneous: . . . Clearly these statements discourage
their expecting any visible return in that day; he expressly declares that any
command to look for Him in some limited particular location would be a mistake.
there will be a " coming" of Christ in that day: . . . This, however, is a spiritual judgment-coming, rather than a
Gary DeMar, also adopts an anti-bodily coming view of Jesus' predicted coming
in this passage when he says the following:
would come " just as the lightning comes from the east," that is, quickly and
without warning. . . . What the
people saw was the manifestation of the Lord' s coming even though they did not actually
see Him. . . . Was God physically
present? He was not. Did He come? Most certainly! . . .
24:27 reveals that Jesus is somehow participating in Jerusalem' s
destruction. This is exactly the
point. . . .
came " like lightning" to set Jerusalem " aflame all around." If you recall, it was Titus, as God' s
representative agent, who set the temple on fire and leveled the edifice. . . .
a.d. 70 Rome was sent by God to
fulfill a similar task. " Our Lord
forewarns His disciples that His coming to that judgment-scene would be
conspicuous and sudden as the lightning-flash which reveals itself and seems to
be everywhere at the same moment." 
The statements of
these two preterists are examples of the kind of propaganda that Jesus is warning
the elect to avoid during the tribulation. Matthew 24:2731 clearly is a reference to a still
future second advent. I will now
look at reasons why verse 27 does indeed reference Christ second coming.
A Future Event
Both Gentry and
DeMar attempt to spin this passage as if it were not teaching a bodily,
physical return of Christ. This
preterist view is one that only about 1% of interpreters (if that many) have
taken on this passage down through church history. That Jesus speaks here of his bodily return is supported by
the context. In contrast to
Christ' s coming in verse 27 are the false Christs and false prophets of verses
23- 24, who are clearly individuals that can be physically seen. Christ' s return is juxtaposed to
them. Christ will not return and
hide out in some back room in which an undercover agent will lead people to
meet. No Christ' s return will be
public and obvious to all. This
cannot fit some " judgment-coming" through the Roman army. Regardless of what other biblical
passages may teach in other contexts, the context of Matthew 24 only supports a
bodily coming by Jesus, which has to be the future second coming.
specifically compares His coming in verse 27 to a lightning strike. I agree with DeMar that included in
Christ' s imagery is the idea of suddeness. However, because the force of the context (verse 26) is
whether He will appear privately (i.e. " inner rooms" ) or publicly (i.e. like a
" lightning" flash) it clearly argues for an emphasis upon appearance. Further, the Greek word for " flashes"
has the core meaning of " to appear, to make visible, or to reveal."  Thus, when speaking of lightening that
appears, it would be translated idiomatically as " flashes." When referring to people it is always
rendered " appear." This is how it
is used in verse 30: " then the
sign of the Son of Man will appear."
In fact, " Wycliffe renders it appeareth" 
in verse 27. When this detail is
combined with the fact that in both verse 27 and 30 the one appearing is called
" the Son of Man," which always emphasizes the human aspect of Christ, the clear
conclusion is that Jesus is communicating His bodily return. Even preterists agree that He did not
return bodily in a.d. 70. If the text intended to speak of an
invisible return through the Roman army then Christ' s Deity would have been
emphasized, not His humanity. Meyer
says the following:
The advent of the Messiah will not be of such a nature that you
will require to be directed to look here or look there in order to see him; but
it will be as the lightning, which as soon as it appears, suddenly announces
its presence everywhere; . . . what is meant is, that when it takes
place, it will all of a sudden openly display itself in a glorious fashion over
the whole world. Ebrard (comp. Schott) is wrong in supposing that the point
of comparison lies only in the circumstance that the event comes suddenly
and without any premonition. For certainly this would not tend to
show, as Jesus means to do, that the assertion: he is in the wilderness, etc.
is an unwarrantable pretence.
In all his effort
to say why " the coming of the Son of Man" in Matthew 24:27 was not a literal
coming of Christ, Gentry fails to tell his readers that the Greek word parousia is used in this verse. Three of the four times that parousia is used in Matthew 24, Gentry admits that it
refers to the yet future second coming. The Greek Lexicon, BAG says that parousia means " presence;" " coming, advent," and " of
Christ, and nearly always of his Messianic Advent in glory to judge the world
at the end of this age."  BAG cites all four uses of parousia in Matthew 24 as a reference to Christ second
advent. In fact, BAG does not even
recognize Gentry or DeMar' s stated meaning as a possible category. It appears that the preterist mother is
the necessity of invention in this instance. The mother of all Greek word study tools, Kittle' s
Dictionary, in concert with BAG, tells us that the core idea of the word means
" to be present," " denotes esp. active presence," " appearing."  Kittle' s describes parousia as a technical term " for the ' coming' of Christ
in Messianic glory."  Thus, parousia carries the idea of a " presence coming," contra
the preterist notion of a " non-presence coming," an invisible coming. Our Lord' s use of parousia demands His physical, bodily presence.
provides further reasoning for the futurist understanding of parousia in this passage:
. . . " What will be the sign of your coming?" (Matt.
24:3). What does " coming" (parousia) mean?
That term is filled with significance. This noun occurs four times in the Olivet discourse (the
only times Matthew uses parousia
and the only occurrence in the Gospels).
The first occurrence is in the question asked by the disciples. Very interestingly, the remaining three
are in identical clauses, " thus, shall be the coming of the Son of Man" . . .
(Matthew 24:27, 37, 39).
. . . The problem with this interpretation is the meaning of
parousia before verse 36 and after.
If the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:37, 39 is the Second
Advent, one would expect the identical clause in 24:27 to refer to the same event. The word would also have the same meaning in 24:3. It must be the Second Advent in each
the word parousia as found in the New Testament is always
used of an actual presence. It may
be employed of the presence of persons as in 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians
7:6-7; 10:10; Philippians 1:26; 2:12 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9. In each of these above cases the person
is bodily present. In all the other cases parousia is used of the Lord's presence at His second coming,
cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2
Thessalonians 2:1, 8; James 5:7, 9; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28. The only occurrences in the Gospel of parousia are in Matthew 24. It would seem that they, too, refer to a yet future coming
to say that the " lightning" description in Matthew 24:27 " reflects the Roman
armies marching toward Jerusalem from an easterly direction."  It is hard to imagine that the time
consuming march of the Roman armies is the true interpretation of this
passage. Once again, I follow
Toussaint' s explanation of the text.
What then is Matthew 24:27 saying? It is simply saying people should not be misled by false
teachers or counterfeit messiahs who make their deceptive claims in some
wilderness or inner sanctum (24:26).
They may even fortify their pretensions by fantastic miracles
(24:24). The reason the Lord's
followers should not be drawn aside is because the coming of the Lord Jesus
will be so spectacular no one will miss seeing it. It will be like a bolt of lightning that streaks from one
horizon to the other. This is why
the Lord used the correlatives hosper. . . . houtos; He is simply using an analogy or comparison. His Second Advent will be as obvious as
a brilliant sky-spanning bolt of lightning. So will be the unmistakable and actual presence of the Lord
Jesus Christ in His second coming to earth.
Continued . . .)