Why do PreTribbers always take Matthew 24:36 out of context? It happens so frequently. You can count on it. A PreTribber will be giving their arguments for the imminency of the return of Jesus Christ and inevitably they will quote Matthew 24:36 out of context to try to prove the point. Here is the verse:
36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
The reason why the verse is being taken out of context is that the PreTribber has a preconceived definition of imminency that is not Biblical. The PreTribber has to divide Christ’s second coming into two separate comings, sort of like a second and third coming. The first second coming is supposedly when the rapture will occur while the second second coming is when everything else will occur.
Since Christ’s second coming is consistently portrayed in scripture as occurring after certain signs (i.e. after the great tribulation, after the abomination of desolation, after the man of sin), the PreTribber needs a scripture to show that there are some scriptures which portray Christ’s second coming as a signless event that could occur at any moment. So the PreTribber turns to Matthew 24:36 and takes it out of context.
The context of Matthew 24:36 is the Olivet Discourse proper, Matthew 24:4-31. Jesus has just explained to His disciples that His coming will be preceded by certain signs. Further, when expounding upon this with a parable, Jesus continues that His coming will be like summer which is preceded by the signs that normally precede summer. When a fig tree branch is tender in the springtime and begins growing leaves, it is obvious that summer is on the way, in fact, quite close. Jesus states that His coming will be the exact same way. When you see the signs that I just told you about, then you know that my coming is quite close.
32 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near–at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
On the heels of this timeline of the second coming, Jesus clarifies that no man knows the exact day or hour, only the Father in heaven. He continues that it will take the world at large by surprise just like the flood took everyone by surprise in the days of Noah. Except of course, Noah was not taken by surprise. This tells us that Jesus was teaching that His disciples would not be taken by surprise at His coming. So how could anyone reading this passage in its proper context come away with the idea that the second coming of Jesus as described in the Olivet Discourse could occur at any moment? That’s why the verse is taken out of context. The PreTribber will NEVER give the entire background when quoting that verse since it will undermine his unbiblical definition of imminency.
The Biblical definition of imminency is that the church is to live in expectation of Christ’s second coming as if it may occur in their lifetime. It certainly will be preceded by the very signs that are uniformly given throughout scripture, but the believer is to remain faithful throughout deception, false christs, apostasy, and even the great tribulation.
So again, why do PreTribbers always take Matthew 24:36 out of context? Answer: They have to. They have no other support for an any-moment coming of Christ.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman