Matthew, chapters 24-25 deal with the Lord’s physical return to the earth and the occurrences surrounding that wondrous event.  Let’s first look at Matthew 24:3, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”  The desire of the Lord’s disciples was to know what would occur just prior to His return to the earth and at the end of the world as we know it.

The Lord begins to warn His disciples that there would be false Christs, wars, famines, etc.  He tells them that “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Verse 8).  He then goes on to explain details concerning what we know as the Tribulation Period.  He tells them in verse 15 of the “abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet…”  We read in Daniel 12:11-12, “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.”  The dating of this event shows that the “abomination that maketh desolate” occurs in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation Period.  The fulfillment of this warning is found in Revelation 13:4-5, “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.”

In Matthew 24:21 the Lord speaks specifically of the Tribulation Period when He says, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”  Then, in verse 29 He declares, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.  The remainder of Matthew chapter 24 and chapter 25 address the Lord’s return to the earth and the judgment that takes place “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31-32).  Here, the faithful ones (sheep) will be ushered into the Lord’s Millennial kingdom on the earth while the unfaithful one (goats) shall “go away into everlasting punishment…” (Verse 46).

Now let’s compare this to what we read in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  While the disciples asked the Lord about “the end of the world”, the portion before us is speaking of “the last days.”  What is the difference? 

Most credible commentators agree that this portion in 2 Timothy is speaking of the last days of the church.  We do not read of the church in the Gospel accounts except for two times when the Lord spoke accordingly in preparation of the existence of the church (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17).  Paul speaks of the ‘mystery’ of the church in Ephesians 5:32, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”  The church began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and will end with the return of the Lord to rapture out His church.  In fact, the ‘last days’ of the church began when the church began.  The return of the Lord has been imminent since the church began. 

As we read of the characteristics of those living in the last days, we might think that these conditions have always existed.  Indeed, they have.  “The thing that distinguishes the last days from all that have preceded them is, that with the indulgence of every evil lust, men “lovers of their own selves, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,” there is still a “form of piety,” but which denies the power of it. This is what we find in days like the present.” (FWG).

So, while Matthew 24 is concerned with events that will occur in the “end of the world”, 2 Timothy is addressing characteristics that are existing in the “last days” of the church age.  (428.4)