In Matthew chapter 24 Christ spoke of two separate tribulations. It’s clear if you if can see it, but confusing if you don’t realize it because of the close proximity of his two references to the word “tribulation.” I know many folks believe he was speaking of the same tribulation there. They believe he combined those verses into one statement. Then many of them believe that statement has two fulfillments.
That’s called a “type” and “anti-type” fulfillment. It means the whole context of those verses is lumped together into one statement, but there are two different fulfillments of that one prophecy. Thus a “type,” and an “anti-type” fulfillment.
That’s incorrect. Christ gave two prophecies there. How do I know? Because in both references to tribulation Christ spoke of his return. In one he said he would return “at that time,” and in the other said he would not return “at that time.” In referencing the first tribulation in Matthew chapter 24 Christ told Christians not to look for his return, “at that time,” in verse 23. Then, when referencing tribulation the second time Christ claimed he will come immediately after it, “at that time” in verses 29 & 30.
Immediate is a time span. That didn’t happen in 70 AD. Therefore, the whole context of Matthew 24:19-30 couldn’t apply to Jerusalem’s temple stones getting knocked down at all, or even the whole city’s destruction. With no arrival of Christ, there was no fulfillment of that tribulation he spoke of in Matthew 24:29-30. Neither does the whole context of Matthew 24:19-31 apply to the great tribulation in Revelation. The tribulation in Matthew chapter 24 that corresponds to the tribulation in Revelation is the one Christ spoke to at Matthew 24: 27- 30. Let’s read about them both here:
The Bible Text
Matthew 24:19 “How miserable those days will be for pregnant and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not occur in the winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short. (23) At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they tell you, ‘There He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days: ‘The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’ 30 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory 31 And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Again, Christ spoke of one tribulation first through verse 23. The major point he made in verse 23 was that he wouldn’t return after that tribulation, which is not the point Christian teachers usually focus on. They usually focus on the false Christs he mentions right after that; but that was not the essential point he made in vs 23. The essential point of vs 23 is that he was not returning after that tribulation.
Contrast that to what he said in verses 29 and 30. In those verses he speaks of his return “at that time,” which shows he described different events, not a type and anti-type (combing both sections of scripture into one statement). His shift in focus appears to come in verse 27, “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” And in his mention of this tribulation in vss 29 & 30 he spoke of his return right after that. Verse 28 is likely a metaphorical allusion to verse 31, the gathering of the elect.