“But about that day and hour no one knows; not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Bible

“But about that day and hour no one knows.” Many attempts have been made to determine when Jesus will Rapture the Church, then later come to earth, fight the Battle of Armageddon, and set up his Millennial Kingdom. Usually people who try to determine the dates for the events of the End take the phrase “day and hour” in a Western, literal way, and say that we may not know the day and hour, but we can know the year. This misses the simple point of the way the vocabulary was used at the time of Christ and in the Bible. Although they could be used specifically for a 24-hour “day” and a 60-minute “hour,” there is no reason to think “day” or “hour” were used that way here.

In the Bible and in the Greco-Roman world, both “day” and “hour” were often used generally. In fact, the word “day” was sometimes used to describe a quality, such as in the phrase, “children of the day” (1 Thess. 5:5), and “day” was also used to describe a period of time (cp. Eph. 6:16, the evil day). Similarly, although “hour” is sometimes used of just an hour or a short period of time, it is also used of a specifically appointed time, such as the hour of the incense offering (Luke 1:10), or the dinner hour (Luke 14:17). Remember, in this teaching Jesus is trying to tell people what they do not know, and making the point that these future times are unknown; he was not trying to tease people and get them to guess the “year” by saying they did not know the “day” or “hour.” In this context, the phrase seems to best refer to the fact that people do not know the time period (including the duration) or appointed time of the return, and in fact we do not. We do not know how long the Battle of Armageddon will take, for example.

This understanding of the verse is augmented by the way Matthew 24:36 reads. It does not say that only the Father knows the day and hour. It says that only the Father knows “about” or “concerning” (the Greek is the preposition peri; “about” or “concerning”) that day and hour. This is a subtle but important point to understand, because since the Father works with people, it is possible that even He does not know the exact time He will send Jesus back to earth, but will adjust it depending on what people do, just as He did with many other events in history, such as the death of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1-6); the destruction of Ahab (1 Kings 21:20-29).

“nor the Son.” This verse is part of the biblical evidence that shows that Jesus was not God, but only knew what God showed him. Although there are Greek texts that omit the phrase “nor the Son,” textual scholars are quite convinced that the phrase was in the original text of Matthew. Roger Omanson writes, “The best representatives of the Alexandrian and the Western text-types contain the words oude ho huios [“nor the Son”], and the syntax of the sentence suggests that these three words are original. …Copyists omitted these words because of the doctrinal difficulty of saying that the Son did not know when the Son of Man would come” (A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament, German Bible Society, 2006, p. 44). Omanson goes on to say that it is very unlikely that “nor the Son” was not in the original texts but was added by scribes so Matthew would then agree with Mark 13:32, which has “nor the Son.” Even if the words, “nor the Son” were not in the original text of Matthew, the textual evidence is clear that they are in the original text of Mark 13:32.

Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 are problematic for Trinitarians, who are forced to say that Jesus’ human side had limited knowledge and did not know the time of the events of the End, but his God nature had unlimited knowledge and did know the time. But there are huge problems with that assertion. One is that the Bible never says it was only Jesus human nature that did not know but his God nature did know. That it is only assumed because it makes Trinitarian doctrine work. Furthermore, it cannot be explained how Jesus could have had both limited and unlimited knowledge at the same time. Theologians refer to it as communicatio idiomatum, but that is just Latin for “the communication of the properties,” and it does not explain how Jesus’ two natures could co-exist; it just assumes they do.

Trinitarians also assert that the two natures, God and man, existing simultaneously is a mystery, but again, the Bible never even says the two natures exist in Christ, much less that it is a mystery. About mysteries, Roger Olson wrote: “We must point out here the difference between mystery and contradiction; the former is something that cannot be fully explained to or comprehended by the human mind, whereas the latter is just nonsense—two concepts that cancel each other out and together make an absurdity” (Roger Olson, Against Calvinism; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2011, p. 105). Although Olson wrote about the mysteries of Calvinism, his comment about mysteries applies equally to the “mysteries” created by the doctrine of the Trinity. We assert that it is a clear contradiction that Jesus is both 100% God and 100% man.

Jesus got knowledge from God throughout his ministry. For example, John 5:20 says that the Father was showing Jesus what He was doing, and also Jesus said that his teaching was not his own, but came from God (John 7:16-17). Even after His resurrection Jesus still receives knowledge from God. The information in the Book of Revelation was given by God to Jesus Christ: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him” (Rev. 1:1). The simple and straightforward explanation for why Jesus did not know the timing of the events of the End is that he was not “God in the flesh” as the Trinitarian doctrine stated, but “a man approved of God” as Peter so plainly stated (Acts 2:22).

Commentary for: Matthew 24:36