Matthew 24:22 MEANING

Matthew 24:22
(22) Should no flesh be saved.--The words are of course limited by the context to the scene of the events to which the prophecy refers. The warfare with foes outside the city, and the faction-fights and massacres within, would have caused an utter depopulation of the whole country.

For the elect's sake.--Those who, as believers in Jesus, were the "remnant" of the visible Israel, and therefore the true Israel of God. It was for the sake of the Christians of Judaea, not for that of the rebellious Jews, that the war was not protracted, and that Titus, under the outward influences of Josephus and Bernice, tempered his conquests with compassion (Ant. xii. 3, ? 2; Wars, vi. 9, ? 2). The new prominence which the idea of an election gains in our Lord's later teaching is every way remarkable. (Comp. Matthew 18:7; Matthew 20:6). The "call" had been wide; in those who received and obeyed it He taught men to recognise the "elect" whom God had chosen. Subtle questions as to whether the choice rested on foreknowledge or was absolutely arbitrary lay, if we may reverently so speak, outside the scope of His teaching.

Verse 22. - Except these days should be shortened (ἐκολοβώθησαν, had been shortened). In the midst of wrath God thinks on mercy. He providentially ordained that the days of vengeance should not be indefinitely prolonged; the siege was practically of short duration, the country was not wholly overrun and desolated (comp. 2 Kings 13:23). The natural causes that combined to produce this shortening of the siege have been recounted by commentators. These were - the divided counsels of the Jews themselves, the voluntary surrender of parts of the fortifications, the fierce factions in the city, the destruction of magazines of provisions by calamitous fire, the suddenness of the arrival of Titus, and the fact that the walls had never been strengthened, as Herod Agrippa had intended. There should no flesh be saved; i.e. the whole Jewish nation would have been annihilated. For the elect's sake. At the intercession of the escaped Christians, who offered up unceasing prayer for their brethren and countrymen, God lessened the duration of the calamities. "The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working" (James 5:16). Ten righteous would have saved Sodom; Lot's intercession did preserve Zoar (comp. Isaiah 6:13; Jeremiah 5:1; Acts 27:24). Some, not so suitably, explain "the elect" to be those Jews who should hereafter turn to the Lord; or the elect seed, "beloved for the fathers' sake" (Romans 11:28). We may well believe that the local tribulations, such as are intimated by Daniel and Christ, and their limitation in time, are a picture of what shall happen in the last days, the intermediate fulfilment being the prelude of the final accomplishment.

24:4-28 The disciples had asked concerning the times, When these things should be? Christ gave them no answer to that; but they had also asked, What shall be the sign? This question he answers fully. The prophecy first respects events near at hand, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish church and state, the calling of the Gentiles, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world; but it also looks to the general judgment; and toward the close, points more particularly to the latter. What Christ here said to his disciples, tended more to promote caution than to satisfy their curiosity; more to prepare them for the events that should happen, than to give a distinct idea of the events. This is that good understanding of the times which all should covet, thence to infer what Israel ought to do. Our Saviour cautions his disciples to stand on their guard against false teachers. And he foretells wars and great commotions among nations. From the time that the Jews rejected Christ, and he left their house desolate, the sword never departed from them. See what comes of refusing the gospel. Those who will not hear the messengers of peace, shall be made to hear the messengers of war. But where the heart is fixed, trusting in God, it is kept in peace, and is not afraid. It is against the mind of Christ, that his people should have troubled hearts, even in troublous times. When we looked forward to the eternity of misery that is before the obstinate refusers of Christ and his gospel, we may truly say, The greatest earthly judgments are but the beginning of sorrows. It is comforting that some shall endure even to the end. Our Lord foretells the preaching of the gospel in all the world. The end of the world shall not be till the gospel has done its work. Christ foretells the ruin coming upon the people of the Jews; and what he said here, would be of use to his disciples, for their conduct and for their comfort. If God opens a door of escape, we ought to make our escape, otherwise we do not trust God, but tempt him. It becomes Christ's disciples, in times of public trouble, to be much in prayer: that is never out of season, but in a special manner seasonable when we are distressed on every side. Though we must take what God sends, yet we may pray against sufferings; and it is very trying to a good man, to be taken by any work of necessity from the solemn service and worship of God on the sabbath day. But here is one word of comfort, that for the elect's sake these days shall be made shorter than their enemies designed, who would have cut all off, if God, who used these foes to serve his own purpose, had not set bounds to their wrath. Christ foretells the rapid spreading of the gospel in the world. It is plainly seen as the lightning. Christ preached his gospel openly. The Romans were like an eagle, and the ensign of their armies was an eagle. When a people, by their sin, make themselves as loathsome carcasses, nothing can be expected but that God should send enemies to destroy them. It is very applicable to the day of judgment, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in that day, 2Th 2:1. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; then may we know that no enemy or deceiver shall ever prevail against us.And except those days should be shortened,.... That is, those days of tribulation which commenced at the siege of Jerusalem; and therefore cannot refer to the times before it, and the shortening of them by it, which were very dreadful and deplorable through the murders and robberies of the cut-throats and zealots; but to those after the siege began, which were very distressing to those that were within; and which, if they had not been shortened, or if the siege had been lengthened out further,

there should no flesh be saved; not one Jew in the city of Jerusalem would have been saved; they must everyone have perished by famine, or pestilence, or sword, or by the intestine wars and murders among themselves: nor indeed, if the siege had continued, would it have fared better with the inhabitants of the other parts of the country, among whom also many of the same calamities prevailed and spread themselves; so that, in all likelihood, if these days had been continued a little longer, there had not been a Jew left in all the land.

But for the elect's sake; those who were chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to believe in him, and to be saved by him with an everlasting salvation; both those that were in the city, or, at least, who were to spring from some that were there, as their immediate offspring, or in future ages, and therefore they, and their posterity, must not be cut off; and also those chosen ones, and real believers, who were at Pella, and in the mountains, and other places, for the sake of these, and that they might be delivered from these pressing calamities,

those days shall be shortened: for otherwise, if God had not preserved a seed, a remnant, according to the election of grace, that should be saved, they had been as Sodom and as Gomorrha, not one would have escaped. The shortening of those days is not to be understood literally, as if the natural days, in which this tribulation was, were to be shorter than usual. The Jews indeed often speak of the shortening of days in this sense, as miraculously done by God: so they say (n), that

"five miracles were wrought for our father Jacob, when he went from Beersheba to go to Haran. The first miracle was, that , "the hours of the day were shortened for him", and the sun set before its time, because his word desired to speak with him.''

They also say (o),

"that the day in which Ahaz died, was shortened ten hours, that they might not mourn for him; and which afterwards rose up, and in the day that Hezekiah was healed, ten hours were added to it.''

But the meaning here is, that the siege of Jerusalem, and the calamities attending it, should be sooner ended: not than God had determined, but than the sin of the Jews deserved, and the justice of God might have required in strict severity, and might be reasonably expected, considering the aggravated circumstances of their iniquities. A like manner of speech is used by the Karaite Jews (p), who say,

"if we walk in our law, why is our captivity prolonged, and there is not found balm for our wounds? and why are not , "the days" of the golden and silver kingdom "lessened", for the righteousness of the righteous, which were in their days?''

(n) Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel, & Targum Hieros. in Gem xxviii. 10. (o) R. Sol. Jarchi in Isaiah 38.8. (p) Chilluk M. S. apud Trigland. de sect. Karaeorum, c. 9. p. 147.

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