But, but, but...

Didn't Jesus say that no one will know the day or hour?

That's a fair question.  Weren't most of us taught this as absolute truth?

Matthew records that He did say this - and Mark recounts the same event.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Matthew 24:36

But of the day and the hour no one knows, not even the angels which are in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father.
Mark 13:32

And He repeats the concept shortly after but within the passage of Matthew chapters 24 and 25.

The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in a hour that he is not aware of...
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.
Matthew 24:50, 25:13

Well, there it is.  Flat out positive proof that no one can know the day or hour.

And while we're at it, let's make another absolute doctrinal statement.

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate [Miseo - HATE!] his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters,  yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:26

There you have it!  If you love your family then you can't be a Christian!

Hold it!  Let's pause for a moment.  Yes, I'm playing with you to make a point.

Luke 14:26, the 'hated' verse, seems to contradict everything else Jesus said - but do we stand on that one verse and ignore the rest?  No.  Nor should we ignore the problem verse.  There is an explanation for this verse that is a 'hole nuther' Bible study, but the point is we need to look at the whole word of God to find answers to difficult scripture.

Let me state some real absolutes that we must agree on or we can't proceed:

If we think there is a contradiction in the Bible, the problem is ours.  There are several possibilities to consider:

We ALL have a tendency to add commentary in our heads as we read.  When reading a familiar scripture we will say to ourselves, 'I remember this verse and it agrees with my understanding of the whole' but when reading a potentially contradicting verse we may concentrate on another concept within the verse or say to ourselves that this must mean something else because it doesn't agree with my base understandings.

Be honest - how many of you have been guilty of rushing over familiar verses that are problematic, or even skipping whole chapters or books that contain difficult or uncomfortable verses?  I'm holding up my hand!

Okay - so what do we do with Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32?

First, let's get on the same page.  What event is the 'day or hour' referring to?  There are a lot of events covered there!

Let's look at our three best contenders; the Rapture, the start of eternity, and the Second Coming.

The Rapture - Consider these verses from chapter 24.

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took [Airo - to remove, take from among the living] them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken [Paralambano - to join one's self to a companion] and the other left [Aphiemi - to leave, disregard, abandon].  Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken [Paralambano] and the other left [Aphiemi].  Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Matthew 24:37-44

So, the 'day and hour' phrase was repeated in verses 42, 43, and 44!  Not!  In these instances he said 'hour' but did not include 'day' - is this significant?  I think so because God is meticulous.

This section, and verses 40 and 41 in particular, sound a whole lot like the Rapture!  The 'as the days of Noah' condition infers everything is reasonably normal - not during the Antichrist's wars or God's wrath.  The word for 'taken' used here is Paralambano which means 'to take a companion to join to one's self' and is often used in reference to a wedding.  Could these 'hour only' verses be referring to the RaptureI'm absolutely convinced they are.

Therefore, I must conclude that our 'day and hour' verses at the top are not referring to the Rapture event.

Start of Eternity - I'll show you why eternity is a strong event contender.

In verse 35, He states, 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.'  Eternity is when Heaven and Earth pass away after the Millennium.

Then in the next sentence, in the next paragraph... wait, there are no paragraphs in the original Biblical texts!  Nor chapters and verses.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Matthew 24:35-36

So, our problem verse is the very next sentence!  Could it be that it applies to the start of eternity?  Folks, here are two sentences, back to back, separated only by a period and a conjunction!  It is the same situation in Mark.

If this singular piece of evidence was all we had I would say case closed.  But - the phrase is repeated in Matthew 25:13, and in this case it is inextricably tied to when 'the Son of Man is coming'.  Hmmm...

The Second Coming - This is probably the event that Jesus was referring to.

For many contextual and comparative reasons, the physical Second Coming of Christ to Earth is the most likely event He was referring to.  So why did I lead you through all this detective work?  For two reasons:

  1. We should always examine the context carefully and compare to the rest of scripture.
  2. Many folks apply these verses to the Rapture when the evidence is against it.

We have established the event.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Matthew 24:36

I will present three possibilities for balancing this statement with the rest of scripture and let you ponder.

1) Maybe the statement is absolutely true.

We know by prophecy that Yahshua will stand on the Mount of Olives in victory on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) but maybe the actual arrival day when he comes to defeat Satan's army (Revelation 19) will be on a still unknown day.

Jesus will be coming back to do battle.  The element of surprise is a great advantage in war.  Could this be a reason?

2) The statement is a Hebraic reference to the Feast of Trumpets.

One of the several names and phrases attributed to Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets, is the very phrase "the day that no one knows the day or the hour"!  The reason for this is that this feast is the only one that falls on a new moon and until the new moon is sighted in Jerusalem they don't which day it will be.  This adds more weight to our finding.

3) The statement was true then, but not always.

It does not say no man will ever know.  'No one knows' is stated in the perfect present tense.

From Wikipedia:

The present perfect tense is a perfect tense used to express action that has been completed with respect to the present.

Some have asked how it would be possible for the Father to know and not Jesus.  Yes, Jesus was fully God, but He voluntarily gave up a lot for his time on Earth.  He didn't know everything while in His earthly body.  If He knew everything, He would not have had to pray - and He would have known the 'day and hour.'  God gave Him only a portion of 'all knowledge' when He needed it.

In Mark's version He specifically said 'nor the Son' and I think Matthew's version implies it (and some texts include it).  Do you think now that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father that He does not know now?

I believe that He knew the day before He dwelt with us in human form and that His omniscience was restored when He was resurrected and returned to the Father!  This would mean that the statement was not meant to mean always.

My best assertion is that this statement in Matthew 24:36 was to put the disciples at rest that 'they' could not know the day and was not intended to be taken as doctrine across the ages.  There are many who feel that Jesus will fulfill the Fall feasts just as He fulfilled the Spring feasts exactly on those days - I am one of them.

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