Re: Matthew 24:30

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Feb 16 1996 - 09:26:23 EST

On 2/15/96, Russ Reeves wrote:

> Bruce Terry wrote in response to my question on Matthew 24:30:
> > I agree! The sign of the parousia in verse 3 is finally explained in
>verse 30
> > as being the Son of man in heaven. (snip) To us it seems so
> > commonplace, since we've heard it so many times before; to them it was
> > Jesus was finally telling them that when they see him coming in the
>sky, it is
> > time for the parousia.
> In light of some of the answers I have received (and thank you for
> the feedback), maybe I should clarify the way I am interpreting this
> passage to make sure it is grammatically feasible. (I'm aware that
> this isn't a theology forum and am not trying to launch a theology
> debate). First, I think this passage refers to the 70 AD destruction
> of the Temple. Second, I think that the sign is that the Son of Man
> is enthroned in heaven (as in Acts 2:33-36). I think this is a fair
> way to approach the text, but since my greek ability is limited I
> wanted some feedback.

We had quite a discussion of this back in the spring or early summer (if
you want to check the archives at

you'll find the thread labeled something like SHMEION TOU hUIOU TOU ANQRWPOU.
At any rate, the position you advocate here was being argued at that time,
with the additional assertion that ALL the gospel references to an event to
occur within the lifetime of listeners were referring to events of the year
70. The reason why I don't think this is an adequate interpretation of the
INTENT of the original passage is found at the end of the verse in question
Mt 24:30 and in the verse that follows it. When the sign appears (beginning
of vs. 30) ALL THE NATIONS ON EARTH will beat their breasts--and they will
see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven WITH POWER AND MUCH
GLORY. Then in vs. 31 there is the gathering of the "elect" from all the
earth. Surely this sequence has to refer as a whole to the eschatological
consummation, not merely to what happened in the year 70.

There is ongoing debate as to whether these eschatological prophecies of an
imminent end of history were really part of the message of Jesus, but there
seems little doubt that they were part of the first-generation church's
proclamation. I don't want to get into a debate on authenticity of
dominical sayings here or theology either, but I don't really see how Mt
24:30 in its whole context can refer solely to the events of the year 70.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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