Eschatology: Interpretation of Matthew chapter 24 (pt 1)

The tribulation is divided into two parts: the first part for our generation (21st century), and the second part for the distant future (25th century). Here is my interpretation of the eschatological discourse of Jesus in Matthew chapter 24:

[Matthew 24]
{24:1} And Jesus departed from the temple and went away. And his disciples approached him, so as to show him the buildings of the temple.
{24:2} But he said to them in response: “Do you see all these things? Amen I say to you, there shall not remain here stone upon stone, which is not torn down.”
{24:3} Then, when he was seated at the Mount of Olives, the disciples drew near to him privately, saying: “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your advent and of the consummation of the age?”

The Divine Ministry of Jesus was completed with his Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. He “departed from the temple” of his body at his death, returned at his resurrection, and then he “went away” at his Ascension. Thereafter, his disciples governed the Church and preached the Gospel. And the Church developed into a worldwide institution, with buildings and houses of worship (temples). But these externals of the Church will eventually be taken away from Her, every one of them, during the tribulation. Yes, every single church, chapel, and other holy place belonging to Christianity will be taken away during the second part of the tribulation. (During the first part of the tribulation, these holy places will be taken away only in the vast territory occupied by the extremists.)

The temple of Jerusalem was torn down in the first century A.D., except for the wailing wall. A new temple of Jerusalem will be built during the first part of the tribulation (beginning within a few years) by the Jews. And after the first part of the tribulation, the Church will build a new Basilica at Jerusalem.

{24:4} And answering, Jesus said to them: “Pay attention, lest someone lead you astray.
{24:5} For many will come in my name saying, ‘I am the Christ.’ And they will lead many astray.

Already, there are hundreds of false claims of private revelation in the world: persons who falsely claim to have received visions, messages, locutions, etc. And they are leading many astray. These visionaries do not say that they are the Christ; what they say is that a vision claimed to be from Christ. This is how the verse applies to the first part of the tribulation. In the second part of the tribulation, the situation will be worse, with persons actually claiming to be Jesus Christ.

{24:6} For you will hear of battles and rumors of battles. Take care not to be disturbed. For these things must be, but the end is not so soon.

Jesus tells us not to trust the news media. Sometimes they report truth, and other times false rumors. Even great events, like battles, can be false reports. So therefore, other great events will also be falsified by the media.

Our Lord tells us that “the end is not so soon” because the tribulation extends from the first part of the tribulation in the 21st century to the second part of the tribulation hundreds of years later. During the sufferings of the tribulation people will think that the world will soon end. But after the first part, there is a time of peace, and then a long inter-tribulation period. And after the second part of the tribulation, there is a long period of peace. Jesus says that the end is not so soon to indicate that the general Resurrection does NOT follow immediately after the end of either part of the tribulation.

{24:7} For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places.
{24:8} But all these things are just the beginning of the sorrows.

One nation after another must rise and fall. There will be great wars and long-standing conflicts. Diseases, famines, and earthquakes, as well as many other natural disasters, will plague humanity for a long time — because of our continued sinfulness. But all these things are just the beginning. The last of the sufferings are NOT natural disasters, but supernatural afflictions. So when you see severe natural disasters, know that these are followed by worse afflictions more directly sent by God.

{24:9} Then they will hand you over to tribulation, and they will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for the sake of my name.

Already, Christians are hated by every culture, by every secularized nation. And it is going to get a lot worse. Christianity will be greatly persecuted during the first part of the tribulation. Afterward, there will be a time of success in preaching the Gospel. But as the inter-tribulation period progresses, the nations of the world will increasingly reject Christianity, until all nations hate our holy religion.

{24:10} And then many will be led into sin, and will betray one another, and will have hatred for one another.
{24:11} And many false prophets will arise, and they will lead many astray.
{24:12} And because iniquity has abounded, the charity of many will grow cold.

But as Christianity is persecuted, one of the unfortunate effects is that many fall away. Their faith is tested and it fails. They fall into grave sin, having been influenced by the sinful world. They betray their fellow Christians in various ways: by teaching error, by mistreating the faithful, by helping authorities persecute them, etc.

The false prophets of verse 11 are different from those of verse 5. The former ones are falsely claiming to present the Gospel. These later ones are non-Christian prophets, trying to lead the faithful into false religions. And they may also include secular “prophets” who propose false ideas as if preaching a Gospel, but it is a Gospel without a religion or God. The sinfulness of the world, and the many false teachers and false preachers leads many away from true charity.

{24:13} But whoever will have persevered until the end, the same shall be saved.
{24:14} And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached throughout the entire world, as a testimony to all nations. And then the consummation will occur.

Now in verses 13 and 14, we see the end of the first part of the tribulation. For the eschatological discourse of Jesus continues for many more verses, from 24:15 to 24:51. The phrase “persevered until the end” marks the end of the sufferings of the first part of the tribulation. Then the rest of that verse and the next represents the brief time of peace afterward.

During that time of peace, after the Three Days of Darkness (which is the last event of the first part of the tribulation), there will be one Catholic Christian Church, which will very quickly gain an immense number of new converts. Then Judaism and moderate peaceful Islam will have some adherents. But all other religions will pass away at that time.

After the brief time of peace, lasting about 25 years (we were told at La Salette), the inter-tribulation period stretches over a few hundred years. The world gradually becomes more and more sinful. Then the consummation, the second part of the tribulation, occurs. That second part includes the reign of the Antichrist and the first Return of Jesus the true Christ.

More in a later post.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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7 Responses to Eschatology: Interpretation of Matthew chapter 24 (pt 1)

  1. King Robert the Bruce says:

    Ron where will the Jews build the second temple will it be where the muslims have theyre mosque the dome of the rock or will it be elsewhere

    • Ron Conte says:

      Well, I think they will build it where the dome of the rock mosque is, so that mosque will be torn down. This occurs during the war between the extremist Muslims and Europe, so that mosque will be closed at that time.

  2. MG says:

    Do you think Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays will be largely banned in the World or only in occupied Europe?

    Will visiting the permanent miracleous sign (3rd secret of Medjugore) help someone overcome backsliding to sin during the tribulations?

    I read once, can’t remember who stated it, that the sun will be somewhat darkened during the entire tribulation. It will appear eerie and a person will feel a sort of dread.

    I still hold the belief that tribulation events will begin on April 2, 2021. 40 years Medjugorje 1981-2021. Just my opinion.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Only in occupied Europe. Elsewhere, those holidays have been secularized, so they are accepted.
      Perhaps a devout visit would have that effect; visits can also obtain miraculous healings.
      The sun will not be darkened the entire time: only for the end of the first part of the tribulation, and for either half or all of the Antichrist’s reign in the second part of the tribulation.

  3. MG says:

    Let’s say hypothetically that someone read these verses and they are living in the 16th century when the Protestant reformation was well underway. Could someone then speculated that the first tribulation would unfold soon at that time? The Protestant Reformation was religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval and the Catholic Church lost many members to protestant sects. Here we are 400 years later. Without relying on prophecies of Saints and messages of La Salette, where in these Bible verses can one draw the conclusion that the first tribulation will occur in the first half of the 21st century?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t know if one could draw that conclusion without the sources of Saints and private revelations like Fatima, La Salette, etc.

    • I recall reading a Private Revelation to a Canonized Saint in theMiddle Ages who saw the sun, planets and stars circling the Earth (I do not recall which one, but I have a BS in Astronomy so that stuck in my mind).
      The Church does not require belief in Private Revelations.

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