The following is section two from a series on emphatic elements in the Greek New Testament, written by biblical language expert Justin Alfred. For section one, click here.
Section II – Matthew 24:4-8
When the disciples ask Jesus when the end is coming, He then begins to tell them what to expect until He returns, which leads us into Section II:
And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 “And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Matthew 24:4-8)
As you read the above, if you were a second or third century believer, you might tend to think that His return and “the end” was right around the corner because at that time there were already “false Christs” coming on the scene, as well as up through the 21st century today:
Among the number of these was one Montanus, who taught in the rude districts of Phrygia, in the latter part of the second century, and of whom we read in the words of an anonymous author quoted by Eusebius (H.E. 5, 17; P.G. 20, 464), that he uttered strange sayings beyond the Tradition handed down from old times. Some of his followers, including two women, spoke as though carried away by the Holy Spirit and full of the gift of prophecy. Manes, the founder of that Manichean heresy which has been so deadly a foe to the Church, called himself the Paraclete, and professed to know all things from all eternity. (St. Epiph. Hær. 66, n. 19; P.G. 42, 57.) The year 250 may be assigned as his date; and, to pass over many centuries, the pretended prophecies of the Abbot Joachim, who died in 1202, remained in credit for many years, in spite of the condemnation by the Fourth Council of Lateran in 1215 of the doctrine on the Blessed Trinity taught by their author; and new revelations were among the extravagances of the Fraticelli condemned by the Council at Vienne in 1311.
Among the sects that sprang from the Reformation of the sixteenth century, similar delusions have been plentiful; it may suffice to mention Swedenborg, whose death occurred in 1772, who claimed to have direct illumination from God, not through Angel or Spirit; . . . and Smith, the American, who pretended that the Bible of the Western Continent was discovered to him in 1823, and who was murdered in 1844.
Therefore, what Jesus was talking about in this section will continue until He returns, which includes not only false teachers and teachings (e.g. the Jehovah’s Witnesses as well), but also a continuation of wars, famines, earthquakes, plagues, etc.