Disclaimer: These comments are exclusively on Matthew 24. Of course, I’ve read Mark 13 and Luke 21, but not very recently, and not with an eye for making comments. I wanted a fresh look at just Matthew 24. So, this is not an exegetical explication by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve also tried to stay away from Daniel and the Apocalypse and some verses of Saint Paul. The next step in investigation will be to do the same for Mark 13, Luke 21, Daniel and Saint Paul and the Apocalypse. And then put them all together in a careful, legit manner. That’s not easy.
Also, note that I’m not looking up things like two true witnesses mentioned in the Apocalypse, nor anyone whose number is 666, nor the whore of Babylon, the antichrist, the first beast, the false prophet, the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, the man of sin, the Dragon, the ancient Serpent, and so on. For instance, there’s this from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 that I’m also not investigating just here:
- “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Sounds like him who is the Abomination of Desolation. But, again, this post is simply about the timeline of Matthew 24 at first glance. You gotta start somewhere. Hold on for the ride:
24:1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” [And rightly so. With the Holy Sacrifice of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world at the Last Supper united with Calvary, the temple sacrifices are vacuous. Moreover, the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies of God’s presence is fulfilled with Immaculate Virgin Mother of God who carried the Son of the Living God in her womb: she is the Ark of the Covenant, the tabernacle of Immanuel, God-with-us. The vicious destruction of Herod’s temple wrought by Titus and the Roman armies was well deserved because of how that temple, symbolizing Mary, was being prostituted for monetary gain by the money-changers.]
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives [from which they were overlooking the entirety of the Temple Mount], the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” [The disciples were conflating the destruction of the Temple with the second coming of Jesus. That was their end-of-the-world standard. We all do this. Jesus patiently makes distinctions for them, and for us.]
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. [And I dare say, much of this deception isn’t based on anything presented by a faker being convincing, but because of political correctness: “My friends say blah blah, so I’ll go along with them and say blah blah.” What we are to look for with the Messiah is the wounds of the Crucifixion, whereby you can put your fingers into the nail prints and your hand into His side, and touch His Heart pierced asunder. Seeing “wonders” is rubbish. Seeing wounds… that’s majestic.]
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. [And if we ourselves were going through such things, we might well say that this is not just beginning of the birth pangs, but we will say that it’s the end of the world, and it may well be for us as we die and go to our judgment, for which we must be ready at all times. It’s when we are not ready that we become nervous and jump to conclusions. The Lord is the Lord of history. Trust Him. And be ready. Go to Confession. These things are just the beginning, that is, in that period of time between the Ascension of Jesus into heaven and and His second coming, before that period of time which is NOT the end of the world, just before a three and a half year period of persecution mentioned in Daniel as cited by our Lord further below in this chapter and cited so very many times in the Apocalypse. After this period of the worst persecution that the world has ever known, since before the foundation of the world and it will never be that horrific again, there will be a time of peace, and then our Lord will return the second time. This “beginning of the birth pains” end with the three and a half year period of persecution which comes before that period of peace. Mind you, the worst persecution is being misled so as to lose the faith and go to hell for eternity. Having no faith brings hatred and violence in it’s wake, so, yes, a persecution attacking the faith will also bring violence with it.]
9 “At that time [within “the beginning of the birth pains” as mentioned above] you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. [People have a right to have the faith witnessed to them, but if all they receive is bullying ambiguity, people have a right to take that witness violently. They will not find martyrs with the cowardly ambiguous, but with those who stand by Jesus in His trials, for whom it is a privilege to render such witness.]
10 And at that time many will be scandalized and will betray one another and hate one another, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. [This is also within “the beginning of the birth pains”] 2 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, [This is the great apostasy to which our Lord refers when He asks if He will find any faith upon earth when He returns.]13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom [ = good news of the kingdom = the perseverance of the saints with Jesus while enduring persecution] will be preached in the whole world as a testimony [μαρτύριον, also in blood] to all nations [This preaching seems to refer to the 1000 years of peace mentioned in the apocalypse after the three and a half year period of persecution], and then the end will come [the second coming of our Lord. Sorry, jumping ahead a bit: (1) Jesus’ ministry of three and a half years; (2) Rebellious reaction to Jesus’ ministry through the centuries as the beginning of the birth pangs. (3) Three and a half years of persecution such as hasn’t been since before the foundation of the world and will never be so terrible again. (4) A period of peace, 1,000 years. (5) Satan unleashed again, but not so terrible as was endured during the three and a half years of persecution. (6) Jesus comes the second time. (7) The final judgment.]
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ [τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως = one can translate this as “The Horrible-Person of Demonic Vacuity, a living person rather than a mere inanimate idol.] spoken of through the prophet Daniel – (let the reader understand) [with this parenthesis in the text of Matthew referring these words of our Lord not to the destruction of Jerusalem but to a time future to that event.] – 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. [Judea is constituted by mountains… so… this refers to the spiritual heights] 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. [The image is that one is to jump down to the ground from the low, one story flat-roofed houses, not bothering to use any interior steps. The immediacy of this is heart-poundingly frightening. There is nothing in your silly house, i.e., from the world, which is going to help you in fleeing to the spiritual heights.] 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. [Again, the immediacy is frightening, whether in city or country. Do it! Do it now! By the way, Jesus says this will come upon the whole world. There is no place, certainly not in any purported refuge, where we are not to run to the spiritual heights.] 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! [Sorry, I’m indulging in “it’s in my day” behavior, but I immediately think of the “vaccines” for the Covid-19 virus, which caused a massive increase in miscarriages, a massive increase in sterility, with “vaccine” repercussions being passed to infants that did survive. I think of the multitude of extractions of organs of fully developed live babies as they are removed from the womb for the purpose of research, development, testing… killing them and putting the mothers face to face with suicide.] 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter [It’s interesting that a sign of the demonic is anomalous freezing temperatures just when an exorcism is taking place, even on a hot Summer’s day] or on the Sabbath [when everyone should be at their place of worship unless it is blockaded]. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again. [Our Lord is here citing Daniel verbatim. Again, the logic of this is that we’re not talking about the end of the world here, just the three and a half year period of persecution that takes place some time between our Lord’s first coming and the second, between the abomination of desolation being set up and, as Daniel says, the taking away of the Daily Sacrifice, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.]
22 “If those days had not been cut short [which our Lord did, from Daniel’s 1,290 days to exactly three and a half years, that is, 1,260 days], no one would
survive be saved, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. [This speaks to the ferocity of the scandal and the power of political correctness as people fall away by whatever pressure of violence.] 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. [These events are detailed in the Apocalypse, chapters 11ff, which continuously mention the three and a half years, also as 42 months, also as 1,260 days. In reading these chapters, say, 11-19, it may be that what you see is not so much consecutive events as overlapping events happening in a relatively short period of time.] 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. 26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. [Our Lord is insisting again and again on this, because we all do this as we get nervous because we are not in control and we want to be in control. But we are stupid in such arrogance, trusting in ourselves and not in Jesus, even though we tell ourselves that we are running around looking for Him and that that’s good. It’s not good.]
28 Wherever there is a corpse, there the vultures will gather. [This statement is, like, set out on its own, so that it is obviously spoken with distress, with a pause before and after, with our Lord in His human nature seeing the vast multitude of corpses everywhere. So many will die that there will not be enough survivors to bury the bodies of the dead. My advice: just let the vultures do their work.]
after accompanying the anguished tribulation of those days: “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 30 “ Then At that time will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven and then all the peoples of the earth will be cut [to the quick] in grief. [It seems to me that all the talk we hear of the “warning”, of the “illumination of conscience” is seen more vividly, of course, in what our Lord Himself says. The sign of the Son of Man in the heavens that everyone will see so clearly everywhere (not just in this or that place!). As I’ve written elsewhere, I think this Sign of the Son of Man is Himself in the womb of His Immaculate Virgin Mother described as The Great Sign in Apocalypse 12:1. Consciences will be enlightened with that cutting to the quick in grief.]
[After this, our Lord begins to speak of His second coming:]
When They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. 32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation [of Adam’s original sin] will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [These words are about the second coming, not the three and a half year period of persecution. Daniel gives us two signs by which to discern, the setting up of the abomination of desolation and the ending of the Daily Sacrifice split by 1,260 days.] 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
4 responses to “Apocalyptic Matthew 24: Timeline distinctions”
you forgot to end with “Go to confession”.
Well, I may be crazy, but I found your comments comforting and real. Maybe not comforting as in soft, but as in a brace. Thank you Father.
Re “4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”
Science, New Age and other forms of monism, plus attempted changes to Catholic theology come instantly to mind: Atheists claiming science replaces God; New Age gurus (especially active late last century) followed as if the Saviour of mankind; the Bahai religion claiming all religions are one, even setting up its World’s Centre (the Shrine of the Bab) on Mt Carmel; and Catholic heretics presenting Our Lord as mercy and love without justice (and hence ok with sin), thus projecting a false Christ.
Father, I would like to draw your attention to the works of a priest who was thinking along the same lines as yourself even though separated in time by three and a half centuries. He was Father Bartholomew Holzhauser (1613-1658).
Your stage 1 and 2 , “the beginning of the birth pangs”, seems a fit with Father H’s 1st to 4th Ages of the Church:
* status seminativus, from Christ and the Apostles to Pope Linus and Emperor Nero;
* status irrigativus, the days of persecution;
* status illuminativus from Pope Sylvester to Leo III;
* and Status pacifitcus from Leo III to Leo X.
Father H’s 5th Age of the Church: “status afflictionis et purgativus from Leo X to a strong ruler and holy pope” – hence from the dawn of our Modern Times (i.e. when in 1513 Leo X began his reign; 1517 Luther began the Protestant Reformation; 1531 the Woman of the Apocalypse / Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared) – matches with the end of your stage 2 as the beginning of the birth pangs draw toward their end, coming to a head and climaxing in your stage 3 with “three and a half years of persecution such as hasn’t been since before the foundation of the world …”.
Next in both yours and Father H’s analyses of scripture comes a period of peace (your stage 4 and his 6th Age of the Church: “status consolationis from that holy pope to the birth of Antichrist”.
You remain in agreement, your stages 5 to 7 (Satan unleashed, the 2nd coming of Christ and final judgement) corresponding with Father H’s 7th Age of the Church: “status desolationis from Antichrist to the end of the world.”
Father H’s Ages of the Church and a bio etc can be found at the following link.
Father H could have been so affected by the sad times in which he was living (early Modern Times) that he erroneously thought them the worst ever or perhaps our Modern Times are indeed the worst and we are on the verge of three and a half years of shocking persecution. In other things he said he seemed to have the gift of prophecy. For example:
He foresaw “the execution of Charles I and the complete ruin of the Church in that kingdom, but also that, after the Holy Sacrifice has ceased for 120 years, England would be converted and do more for religion than it had done after its first conversion. This seems to have been fulfilled, for prohibition of Mass under penalty of capital punishment was enacted in 1658, and partially recalled in 1778” (a quote from The Catholic Encyclopedia at the New Advent link given above).
You are in good company with your analysis, Father Byers, since Father H was a holy priest declared venerable by the Church.
Looking forward to reading the rest of your posts in this series.
The difference is that he was actually holy with the gift of prophesy. I just know some technicalities in the biblical languages. And that helps a lot to know what is litterslly being said.