Misquote: “Jesus can’t come back until we evangelize the world!” This is based on taking Matthew 24:14 out of context and without consideration of its collaborating text in the Revelation given by the very Jesus that spoke of this topic to His disciples while He was on earth.
I’m intrigued that churches propagating this false doctrine will also tout a contradicting ‘imminent return’ doctrine that claims Jesus can come back at any moment . . . (please see my earlier blog titled, “Jesus can come back at any moment!” for more information). Claiming that Jesus must rely on mankind for the timing of His return (which is actually determined by God the Father!) is certainly contradictory to an ‘imminent return’ position!
Additionally, evangelizing every human on planet earth from the time of Jesus until the end would be quite impossible. I’ve heard many interesting theories about how we can do this today with the Internet or radio as some people try to rationalize a position where we dictate the timing of Jesus’ return to earth; however, our present day is just a bump in the long road from Jesus’ time until the very end. The fact remains that there’s no way every man, woman, and child from Jesus’ time until the end of all time could’ve been, or can be, evangelized.
Whether it could happen is irrelevant anyway. Consider the verse in its context and what you’ll learn is that the preaching of the Gospel to the entire world will be one step in an end-times sequence just before, and leading up to, Jesus’ return and our gathering.
Here’s the abused verse and its context of Matthew 24:3-31 (similar to Mark 13:4-27 and Luke 21:7-28).
Verse 3-8 (from Jesus’ time until just before the end): As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 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. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. [compare to the events revealed by the breaking of seals 1-3 in Revelation Chapter 6]
Verses 9-13 (introduction to the Great Tribulation that will come at the end): “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
Verse 14 (this is the verse taken out of its context): “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” [see Revelation 14:6 for a reiteration of this ‘preaching of the Gospel’ that will happen just before the gathering of Jesus’ followers and the wrath of God on all who are left on earth]
Verses 15-26 (more about the Great Tribulation that will occur just before Jesus returns to gather His own for the marriage supper in heaven): “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place . . . For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. . . . [the persecution and death here are reiterated by Jesus in the events of the 4th and 5th seals of Revelation Chapter 6]
Verses 27-31 (the ending of the Great Tribulation with a complete darkening and the gathering of Jesus’ own): “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. [this darkening at the end of the Great Tribulation and at the time of our gathering is reiterated by Jesus in the event of the breaking of the 6th seal of Revelation Chapter 6]
In summary, the preaching of the Gospel Jesus refers to will be done by heavenly messengers at a very specific point in the last days as the Great Tribulation of the Antichrist is brought to a close and the wrath of God is about to begin. It will be a last chance for repentance.
But . . . remember that Jesus commanded us to tell others about the good news of salvation – God’s grace that offers us a way out of the judgment to come. After all: How will they hear if we don’t tell them?
For a very comprehensive and detailed study of this very important topic, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!