The following is section six from a series on emphatic elements in the Greek New Testament, written by biblical language expert Justin Alfred. Previous blog entries in this series:
Section VII – Matthew 24:36-41
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 “For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. 41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. (Matthew 24:36-41)
…of that day and hour no one knows
In the above passage, Jesus certainly presents what appears to support the view of the rapture of believers in verses 40-41: “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.” On the other hand, Jesus is making it abundantly clear that “of that day and hour NO ONE KNOWS (my emphasis),” and there are NO EXCEPTIONS with regard to anyone having either a partial or full grasp of remotely knowing when Jesus is returning. On the other hand, in just my lifetime and the almost 47 years I have been a Christian, I have witnessed Christians, evangelical pastors, teachers, writers, and theologians who seem to think that Jesus should have made a qualifying statement such as, “of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone, as well as certain and very well-informed Christians, evangelical pastors, teachers, writers, and theologians in the 20th and early 21st centuries AD.”
After Jesus’ resurrection, and just before His ascension into heaven, His disciples were once again anxious about knowing about the “end times,” just as they were in Matthew 24:3. They approached Him with the same question:
And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” 9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; 11 and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:6-11)
Jesus’ words are clear
Verse 7 cannot be more clear. Yet, just in my brief lifetime, I have continually witnessed Christian, evangelical pastors, teachers, writers, and theologians who appear to have TOTALLY DISREGARDED this verse, as well as Matthew 24:36, and they believe they are the exception to these two all important verses. Let’s look at these two essential and important verses, Matthew 24:36 and Acts 1:7, and see how they fit in with all that Jesus is saying concerning His return.
Getting into the Greek
Here is the first thing to note in Matthew 24:36: the Greek word used to translate the English words, “no one,” is οὐδείς (oudeis); it is made up of two Greek words: οὐ (ou), which means “no or not”; and εἷς (eis), which means “one.” The δ (d) is added simply as a consonantal connective for what is called a more euphonic reading and articulation. In other words, it’s just easier to say!
Thus, Jesus is saying is that “NO ONE,” which means, “NO ONE, NOT ANY, NOT ONE knows the day or hour” of His return. Now believe it or not, over the years I have heard Christiasn, evangelical pastors, teachers, and writers, but only a few theologians, say, “but He didn’t say anything about not knowing the week, month, year, decade, or century in which He will return.” If such a statement like this was not so tragically ludicrous, it would be funny. But, unfortunately, it is utterly and tragically ludicrous. The term that Jesus uses—“day and hour”— is merely an idiom of the time in which He lived, and it meant, “NO ONE KNOWS THE TIME AT ALL!”:
Beyond human determination
In very strong contrast to the emphasis in v. 33 concerning what can be known—namely, the experienced signs of the interim up to the point of the nearness of the parousia of the Son of Man—the present verse clearly indicates the impossibility of knowing the time of the Son of Man’s coming and the end of the age in advance of their actual occurrence . . . . This stress on our ignorance of the actual time of the parousia continues through the next several periscopes . . . . τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης καὶ ὥρας, “of that day and hour,” refers to the event—the climactic return of the Son of Man—by which this formula (for “day and hour,” see v. 50; 25:13; “day and hour” are split in vv 42, 44) is said to be beyond human determination altogether, and not just partially, e.g., so that, say, the month or year could be known (rightly Meinertz, Lövestam, Carson, Blomberg).
Perfect active verbs
Thus, what Hagner is saying, and Meinertz, Lövestam, Carson, and Blomberg agree with him, is that “day and hour” is an all inclusive term, meaning that “NO ONE AT ALL HAS ANY IDEA AS TO THE NEAR OR EXACT TIME” when He will return. To emphasize this even more so, Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 24:36 that “not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” knows when His return will be! The other important aspect of Matthew 24:36 is the Greek verb “knows,” οἶδεν (oiden), which is technically a perfect active verb, meaning it speaks of a completed act with an ongoing result. In this particular instance, therefore, this “perfect” goes by several names (e.g., perfect with a present force; intensive present perfect; or perfect of existing state), all of which are emphasizing a present state of being. Now what is important in understanding of just how this present state came into being is explained by Wallace:
The reason why such perfects have the same semantics as presents is frequently that there is very little distinction between the act and its results. They are stative verbs. The result of knowing is knowing. When one comes to stand he/she still stands. The result of persuading someone is that he/she is still persuaded. Thus this usage occurs especially with verbs where the act slides over into the results. They are resultative perfects to the point that the act itself has virtually died; the results have become the act.
What all of this means is that one’s past actions have become so enmeshed into the present result, that the present result is the ultimate reality and the unalterable, state of being of repeated, past actions. Consequently, because of God’s sovereign purpose and plan, even “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:3-6), His ultimate actions and purposes are at times far beyond our seriously flawed, human ability to comprehend, grasp, and understand, which UNEQUIVOCALLY INCLUDES THE RETURN OF CHRIST! Therefore, all such repeated, human efforts to make such a determination are doomed to failure, misdirection, confusion, and at times, serious deception, which will ALWAYS END IN A STATE OF BEING OF NOT KNOWING when Christ’s Return will be!
In Acts 1:7, Jesus once again responds quite emphatically to the disciples’ question about the ‘end times’
In this verse, He says, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority, except for certain spiritually and intellectually gifted Christian, evangelical pastors, teachers, writers, and theologians in the 20th and early 21st centuries (my addition).” Obviously, we do not see ANY INCLUSION such as I added in this verse, let alone even intimated at. The Greek word translated in English for “to know” is γνῶναι (gnōnai), and it is an aorist infinitive, and the aorist focuses on action that is viewed in individual instances, as well as actions over a period of time that are viewed as one unit.
Thus, for our purposes, Jesus is saying that individual attempts to determine when He is returning based on specific, world events at specific times is utterly misdirected, as well as a long period of analysis of world events, culminating in some type of projected determination of Jesus’ return date is equally misdirected and misleading. In addition, the two words, “times and epochs,” in the Greek are respectively, χρόνος (chronos) and καιρός (kairos), with χρόνος (chronos) meaning “an indefinite period of time during which some activity or event takes place, or a point of time consisting of an occasion for some event or activity,” and καιρός (kairos) meaning “a point of time or period of time; a defined period for an event, such as a definite, fixed time; and a period characterized by some aspect of special crisis or time.” In addition to all of this, Jesus said that the “Father has fixed by his own authority” the time and circumstances related to His return, with the word in Greek for “fixed” being ἔθετο (etheto), which is an aorist verb, coming from the root verb τίθημι (tithēmi), and it means “to put, place, assign, arrange, establish, and appoint in a particular location.” Thus, with the aorist tense being used with ἔθετο (etheto), what Jesus is saying that at an instance “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:3-6), God determined when Jesus will return, as well as all of the circumstances surrounding His return, and as we read Acts 1:6-11, we can see quite clearly that Jesus is saying NO ONE IS GOING TO BE GIVEN THIS SPECIAL INSIGHT AND KNOWLEDGE as to when His return will be!
However, what we are unequivocally told to be engaged in is found in Acts 1:8: “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Now indeed, being a “witness” for Jesus in all aspects of our lives is not nearly as titillating to our carnal and emotional sensitivities as is going to a prophecy conference and hearing the latest and greatest ideas being propagated about when we can expect Jesus’ return, but without question the former is where the ‘eternal blessing’ is going to come from, and the latter is where valuable energy, effort, and time will be wasted on useless and meaningless speculations, bringing no lasting fruit in one’s life. What was communicated to Jesus’ disciples at His ascension by the two angels concerning His return, which is the same message for us in the 21st century, was and is, “Men of Galilee (and 21st century believers throughout the world – my note), why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
 Donald A. Hagner, World Biblical Commentary: Matthew 14-28, Vol. 33B (Dallas: Word Incorporated, 2002), 716.
 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 579-580.
 Frederick William Danker, ed., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (BDAG) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), # 7991.
 Ibid., # 3857.
 Ibid., # 7362.