Three Repeated Warnings

Three warnings were repeated by Jesus in his discourse on the Mount of Olives, information necessary to avoid deception

Cyclone - Photo by Espen Bierud on Unsplash
The final block of teaching by Jesus is commonly called the ‘Olivet Discourse,’ a series of instructions given to the twelve disciples on the Mount of Olives shortly before his arrest, trial, and execution. In it, three specific warnings are repeated that disciples of Jesus must heed to avoid deceit and disaster, warnings about deceivers, the timing of his return, and the need for constant vigilance - [
Photo by Espen Bierud on Unsplash].

Deceivers - The ‘Discourse’ begins with a warning for disciples to “beware lest anyone deceive you.” This was given to his disciples, not to unregenerate sinners, and those deceivers would “deceive many.” Likewise, “many false prophets” would come, not just a few. The victims targeted for deception would be the very “elect” of God - (Matthew 24:4-11, 24:23-24, 24:26).

The content of the deception would include false information about the return of Jesus. For example, deceivers would claim that he “is here” or “there”, that he is “in the wilderness” or “in the secret chambers.” Some would claim, falsely, that “the season had drawn near” - (Matthew 24:23-26, Luke 21:8).

His prediction that disciples would “hear of wars and reports of wars” referred to what the deceivers would claim, that is, the “signs” to which they would point as harbingers of the “end.” Jesus did not deny that wars, earthquakes, and the like would come; however, they are not “signs” of the “end,” for “the end is not yet!” - (Matthew 24:4-6).

Dates and Chronologies - Jesus warned that “no one knows that day and hour, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, except the Father alone.” For emphasis, he ended the declaration with the term “alone,” which is emphatic in the Greek sentence. The Father is the ONLY exception to the rule, period.

This warning was repeated by him at least four times. Additionally, he stated that believers do not know “on what kind of day” he would come - “At an hour you do not expect.” The version in Mark adds, “for you do not know when the season is” - (Matthew 24:42-44, 24:50, 25:13, Mark 13:32-35).

Jesus made his most complete warning about the timing of that day just prior to his ascension. The disciples asked him when he would restore the kingdom:
  • (Acts 1:7-8) - “It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father has set within His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you will be my witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.”
Vigilance - Rather than calculate chronologies, disciples must concern themselves with disseminating the gospel to all nations. In the interim between his ascension and return, they must remain always prepared for his sudden and unexpected arrival. He will come “at an hour YOU THINK NOT” - (Matthew 24:14, 24:42-44, 25:13, Mark 13:32-36).

The ‘Olivet Discourse’ is NOT a detailed outline of future events that must occur during history’s final few years, nor does it provide a timetable by which astute believers can ascertain the time of the “end” and the “arrival of the Son of Man.” But it certainly provides clear and emphatic warnings about deceivers who will plague the church with deceptions and false expectations about the future, a condition that will endure for the entire period between his resurrection and return.

The conclusion Jesus drew is that disciples must be prepared at every moment for his sudden and unexpected arrival, above all because they do not and cannot know the “day or hour.”

In the end, what matters is not knowing the timing of that day, but whether one is prepared and found busy about his business when the “Son of Man arrives in power.”


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