But of That Day And Hour Knows No Man– But the Father Only
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Mark 13:32).
Perhaps no other passage is appealed to more for a division in the Olivet Discourse, and thus, as a proof of a yet future coming of the Lord, than this verse. Kenneth Gentry, in a four part series of articles seeking to prove that Jesus’ apostles were confused – even liars – in regard to their understanding of the end of the age and their questions in Matthew 24:3, gives this verse as proof positive of the change of subject in the Discourse. He offers this:
After dealing directly with the disciples’ confusion regarding the destruction of the temple, Jesus shifts his attention to their second question. This question regards issues they wrongly assume will be associated with the destruction of the temple.
As he (Jesus, DKP) begins answering their second question he pointedly notes that no one will know the time of the parousia/final judgment — even though there are both general and specific signs to the approaching destruction of the temple:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:36–39). (https://postmillennialworldview.com/2019/01/15/the-disciples-confusion-at-olivet-4/).
(Note: In an upcoming book on whether the apostles were confused in Matthew 24:3, I will be addressing Gentry’s claims. To say that he is guilty of bad logic, poor exegesis and hermeneutical abuse is an understatement.)
In my youth, I often heard prominent ministers say that Matthew 24:36 serves as the “continental divide” of the Olivet Discourse. I held to that view myself until I began to study scripture for myself. I soon discovered that my church tradition was abusing the text. I will not document here the widespread view that this verse begins a discussion of the “final” coming of the Lord at the imaginary “end of time” since I do not believe that this can in any way be challenged. But for just one example, see Marcellus Kik, (Matthew XXIV (Philadelphia, Presbyterian and Reformed Press, 1948), 100).
I want to focus on a couple of key texts- and issues – that totally refute the idea that the day and the our of Christ’s coming remained a total mystery in the NT epistles. I will show that any and all appeals to that verse to counter the multitudinous time statements of imminence therein is an anachronistic, specious and false argument.
An Initial Consideration– The Revelatory Spirit
Those who appeal to Mark 13:32 to deny the objective imminence of the later time statements are guilty of making an anachronistic argument. For instance, Wayne Jackson, outspoken critic of Covenant Eschatology, commented on James 5 and the language of imminence found there:
James, “could not have been predicting the literally imminent return of the Savior, for such knowledge was not made available to the Lord’s penmen. Not even the Lord himself knew the time of his return to earth (Matthew 24:36).” (Jackson’s article, “The Menace of Radical Preterism” is on his website www.christiancourier.com)
In other words, because Jesus could not circle a day on the calendar, while on earth, this is taken to mean that he could not know the generation of his appearing. This supposedly means that even though the apostles and inspired writers of the epistles said the Lord’s coming was near, because Jesus, while on earth did not know the day and hour of his coming, the disciples writings cannot be taken at face value. What Jesus did not know then, could not be known later, even after the outpouring of the Spirit, according to Jackson’s argument. But, consider the issue of the revelatory Spirit.
When Jesus said no man knows the day or hour, was there to be further revelation after that? Yes or No? If there wasn’t additional revelation after Jesus spoke those words in Matthew 24:36 then none of the NT books were inspired by God!
The question is, are / were Jesus’ words, “But of That Day and Hour Knows No Man- (Matthew 24:36)– Eternally True Statements?
Does “Unknown When Spoken” Mean “It will Always Be Unknown”?
That Is a false Hermeneutic and Totally Ignores the Work of the Revelatory Spirit.
When Did Jesus Speak This? – Before the Sending of the Spirit!
“When the Spirit Is Come, He Will Show You Things to Come!” (John 16:7); “He Will Speak of Judgment…”
The Father – Who Knew the Time – Sent the Spirit and Caused the Inspired Authors to Say:
“The End of All Things Has Drawn Near!” (1 Peter 4:7).
“The Time Has Come for the Judgment!” (1 Peter 4:17).
“In a Very, Very Little While He Who Is Coming Will Come and Will Not Tarry” (Hebrews 10:37)
The coming of he Lord has drawn near- (James 5:6-8).
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Which God Gave to Him, to Show to His Servants the Things That must Shortly Come to Pass” (Rev. 1:1-3).
All of these statements– and many more – were written by men inspired by the Spirit sent by the Father who knew the time of the parousia. Now, it is totally anachronistic to apply Jesus’ words spoken while on earth during his time when the Father had not revealed the time, to the epistles where the Father, who knew the time, was revealing to the apostles– through the Spirit– that the time was near.
In All of the NT Time Statements It was Thus, the Father Who Told Them What Time it Was!
Did the Father inspire the wrong message to be written?
What was true in Matthew 24:36 was no longer true in the epistles!
Take note of 1 Peter 1:10 where the apostle affirmed that through the Spirit, the Father was revealing the time and the nature of the salvation foretold by the OT prophets (who did not understand the time and nature). That salvation was to come at the revelation of Christ- the parousia. Yes, Peter was receiving, at that time, further revelation. It was later revelation from that in Matthew 24:36. It was revelation from the Father, who knew the Day and the Hour!
Likewise, pay particular note of Revelation 1:1-3–More on this later.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ- which the Father gave to him.
So, the Father, who knew the Day and Hour, was revealing to His Son. What was He revealing?
“To show to his servants the things which must shortly come to pass… for the time is at hand.”
So, once again, we have the Father, who knew the Day and the Hour of Christ’s coming, revealing to the Son, that the time had arrived. Thus, when Jesus- to whom the Father had revealed the time– said in Revelation 22: that the time had come, that he was coming shortly, quickly and soon, he was not speaking a “hope so” or a “maybe” or anything like it. He was speaking what the Father had revealed to him, and that means that the time for his coming was near, coming shortly– 2000 years ago.
So, we have in 1 Peter, revelation from the Father, who knew the time of the revelation of Christ to bring eternal salvation. And peter tells us that the Spirit was revealing the time and the nature of these events! Of course, for futurists, that just can’t be true. They must deny or ignore what Peter says.
What did Peter, inspired by the Spirit sent from the Father who knew the Day and the Hour, say about the end, the time of the eternal inheritance? Well, let’s see:
1 Peter 4:5– Christ was “ready to judge the living and the dead.” “Ready” is from hetoimos and means not only morally qualified and ready, but, temporally ready as well. J. Ramsey Michaels, for instance renders 1 Peter 1:5 as the “salvation about to be revealed” (Word Biblical Commentary, 1 Peter, Vol. 49, (Waco: Word Publishers, 1988), 282). Likewise, The Expositors Greek Testament on 1 Peter 4:5; (in loc, p. 71), commenting on hetoimos, says that the, “Greek readers would understand the imminent judge.” They state on 1 Peter 4:7 that it would be very speedily (1 Pe 4:7; 2 Pe 3:10).
1 Peter 4:7 – The end of all things has drawn near. (Not simply “at hand” but, “has drawn near.”
1 Peter 4:17 – The time has come – Literally the Appointed Time (Kairos); the divinely appointed time.
For the Judgment– Not a Judgment, but the judgment to begin!
In verse 17, Peter Uses the “Anaphoric Article.” That Is the Most Common Use of the Definite Article. (See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the N.T., 218).
The anaphoric article was when a speaker or writer introduces a subject. He later refers back to that subject by the use of the definite article. This means that “the judgment” of verse 17 refers back to peter’s earlier discussion of the judgment.
The only previously mentioned judgment in the context is verse 5 – the judgment of the living and the dead! This means, undeniably, that it was the Father, who knew the Day and the Hour that inspired Peter to say that the end of all things had drawn near and that the divinely appointed time for the judgment of the living and dead had arrived.
To deny this is to say that the Father misled Peter.
To deny this is to say that the Father, through the Spirit, lied to Peter.
Peter’s Discourse in 1 Peter and his use of the anaphoric article is a total refutation of the facile and anachronistic application of Matthew 24:36 to all of the NT texts written after the sending of the revelatory Spirit by the Father.
So, when we examine the attempts to negate time statements of imminence found in the epistles, by an appeal to Matthew 24:36 / Mark 13:32, it is easily seen that this is, to repeat, an anachronistic argument. It completely ignores the work of the Spirit, sent by the Father, to reveal “things to come” and essentially means that those making the argument are accusing the Father of revealing untruths to the apostles. This is a horrible concept and idea!
But this is not all. In our next installment, we will look closely at the NT writers who specifically speak of the coming consummative hour and they say in unambiguously that the hour had arrived. Stay tuned. In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of my book, We Shall Meet Him In the Air, the Wedding of the King of kings, for even more on Jesus’ words, and the unity of the Olivet Discourse.