Understanding Matthew 24:13 – “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Matthew 24:13 is often quoted to refute those Christian’s who believe in eternal security or “once saved – always saved” (OSAS).  Both sides of this hotly debated issue are popular, as there seems to be a 50/50 split among those who believe it has merit versus those who don’t.  One side believes our salvation is eternally secure once we accept and receive Christ as our Lord and savior, but it seems that just as many believe that we can lose our salvation.  To the contrary, I believe this scripture is most often misunderstood, misapplied and taken out of context.  So in this post I hope to shed more light on this subject and share a completely different perspective, so let’s jump right into the scripture in context.

Matthew 24:9-14“Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 Then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will rise and will deceive many. 12 Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Where I differ greatly from most is that many people assume that Jesus was talking about our salvation and/or whether or not we can lose it.  However, I do not believe He was referring to our eternal salvation. Sometimes words have several different meanings.  And in this case, there is an entirely different meaning for the word “saved.”  For instance, if we go into a burning house and save the occupants inside from death, this save is a rescue and has nothing to do with spiritual salvation.  Could this meaning possibly be what Jesus meant?  Why, yes, I believe it is exactly what He meant and now I’ll tell you why I believe this.  We’ve got to read the entire text.  And when I read the text in its entirety, I discovered that Matt. 24:13 is not the only time in this chapter that He mentions the word “saved.”  When we continue reading further, we come to the second time Jesus used this word.

Matthew 24:21-22For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

In my view, this second mention of the word makes it much clearer.  Jesus tells them about a future time of great tribulation, that will be unequaled in the history of the world.  It will be so distressing that if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved.  Many would assume that no flesh being saved would mean the extinction of all mankind on the earth if those days were not shortened, but I don’t see it that way.  Rather, I believe Jesus was alluding to all living Christians would be killed if those days weren’t shortened.  He said it was for the sake of His elect that those days would be shortened, not for the sake of mankind.  Jesus warned of a coming persecution where Christians will be hated by all nations (global government) and killed for His namesake.  Revelation 13 tells us about the beast overcoming the saints. 

I believe the shortening of those days is alluding to the gathering together of His elect, when the sign of the Son of man appears and rescues those who are ready.  I don’t believe all Christian’s will be ready, however, as there will be just as many martyrs that will be overcome by the beast in those days.  Christ warned that two would be in the field in those days, one will be taken and the other left (lukewarm).  Two women will be grinding in the mill, one shall be taken and the other left.  It appears there will be a 50/50 split when the thief comes to break up the house, cutting it asunder (in two).  He also told us about the ten virgins, five were wise and five were foolish. 

The gathering together of His elect (rapture) in Matt. 24:29-31 corresponds with what Paul said in 1 Thes. 4:16-17.  Many pastors and teachers talk about the rapture of the entire church, as if we will all be ready, but I cannot find any scripture that supports the entire church being raptured.  If that were so, then why did Jesus warn us all to keep watch and be ready and to not let anyone deceive you?  Why did He give all of the warnings and promises to those who overcome in the letters to the seven churches in Rev. 2 and 3?  This is why I believe it’s dangerous to assume we will all be ready.  Jesus left us with several clues in His parables, as to what He’ll be looking for in His elect.  Here’s one that is often overlooked.

Matt. 24:45-46Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”

There are two mighty powerful clues in that short passage above that usually go unnoticed or get overlooked.  First, He promises “meat in due season,” which is a clue about the wedding supper for those who are ready; and second, He tells us that He’ll be looking for doers when He comes, not just hearers only.  Many believers assume they are ready, but Jesus is actually spelling it out for us in His parables, what it means to be ready and what He’ll be looking for when He returns to gather His elect.

Many teach that the church will be raptured, but that is not what He said.  He said that some will fall away, the elect will be gathered, and some will be left.  The letters to the seven churches were written to believers, so lets not assume those who get left are the unbelievers.  It’s important to keep in mind that Matt. 24 & 25 was given as an answer to His disciple’s question about the sign of His coming and the end of the age (Matt. 24:3).  Christ will be the judge when He returns, and He was the only one that mentioned the cold, hot and lukewarm believers. What most people do not realize is that He also told us about all three of them in His answer to His disciples question about the sign of His coming and the end of the age in Matthew 24 & 25.  Let’s take a look at the cold first.

Matthew 24:10-13“Then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will rise and will deceive many. 12 Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

It appears to this writer that those who fall away or depart the faith will lose their positions in His kingdom, but I believe they will still be saved, as in keep their eternal salvation that Christ purchased with His blood.  Remember, salvation is a free gift, God’s unmerited favor, and we are not saved by our works, nor do we have to work to stay saved. We will, however, be judged according to our works, and we’ll be rewarded accordingly when He returns (2 Cor. 5:10, Matt. 16:27 & Rev. 22:12).  If one falls away after receiving Christ, God will not take His free gift back, but they will suffer loss of reward.
1 Cor. 3:15 reveals that some will be saved, yet only like one escaping through the flames.  Additionally, in Luke 12:46-48 Christ warned that there will also be punishments for some of His servants.  Why is it that no one ever teaches about this?

Luke 12:35-48 – “Let your waist be girded and your lights be burning, 36 and you be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door immediately for him when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master will find watching when he comes. Truly I say to you, he will dress himself and have them sit down to dine, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or comes in the third watch, and finds them so, blessed are those servants. 39 But know this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched and not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

41 Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

42 The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his house servants, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will appoint him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master delays his coming,’ and begins to beat the house servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not look for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him to pieces and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

47 That servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.48 But he who unknowingly committed acts worthy of punishment shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whom much is given, of him much shall be required. And from him to whom much was entrusted, much will be asked.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

I believe that in the end the cold will fall away before the Lord even appears, so they obviously will not be among those who endure to the end or will be ready when the sign of the Son of man appears.  And since the cold have removed themselves, I believe they will forfeit their reward, miss the wedding supper and will no longer be saints that will rule and reign with Christ when He returns to earth for the second coming with His saints.  The cold will choose to exit His kingdom before the judgment seat of Christ, so they will be judged later, with the sheep & goats or the judgment of the nations instead (second coming), which will determine which mortals (sheep) will get to enter His millennial kingdom. So after the cold fall away, only the hot and lukewarm that will remain for the judgment seat of Christ when the Son of Man suddenly appears.

Revelation 3:15-16“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

Most of the parables in Matt. 24 & 25 deal with the judgment between His hot and lukewarm servants.  We know this because the sign of the Son of man appearing comes (after) the many falling away, so the cold believers will no longer be in the picture.  I believe the hot are His faithful servants that will endure to the end, and they are His elect who will keep their lamps burning with oil.  They will be ready for the rapture, but this is also the moment the lukewarm will get spit out of His mouth.  Few seem to realize that when the thief comes, He won’t be coming to steal.  Instead, the thief in this parable is coming to break up the house, cutting it asunder (in two).  What house?  Judgment begins at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17-18).

Matthew 24:40-41“Two will be in the field; one will be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and the other left.”

Matthew24:45-51“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Now we see the same judgments continue into chapter 25 with the ten virgins, five were wise and five were foolish. We see it again in the parable of talents. The servants that were given 5 and 2 talents were rewarded and entered into the joy of the Lord (rapture), but the lazy servant that hid his talent in the ground was cast into outer darkness (left in the dark world).  This is why I believe the Readiness Rapture theory should not be overlooked, even though it will probably never be as popular as those theories that tickle our ears.  We need to be diligent when we study God’s Word, as God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

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