Before reading this brief study, please read the previous article in this series, Increased Lawlessness
Matthew 24:12 — “…the love of many will grow cold.”
A CLEAR CONNECTION
We notice a clear connection between the increase of lawlessness throughout the world in that day and the “loss or the failure of love” on the part of many. The church experienced times of betrayal, abandonment, and a lack of commitment to each other because of the fierce persecution it underwent. Jesus had forewarned his disciples on the Mount of Olives,
Matthew 24:9 – 10 — “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
Mark 13:12 — And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death.
Luke 21:16 — You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.
Newton shows us the relationship between the increase in iniquity or lawlessness and the chilling of love, he writes,
“By reason of these trials and persecutions from without, and these apostasies and false prophets from within, the love of many to Christ and his doctrine, and also their love to one another shall wax cold. Some shall openly desert the faith, (as ver. 10;) others shall corrupt it, (as ver. 11;) and others again, (as here) shall grow indifferent to it.
And (not to mention other instances) who can hear St. Paul complaining at Rome, (2 Timothy iv. 16,) that ‘at his first answer no man stood with him, but all men forsook him’; who can hear the divine author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, exhorting them, (x. 25,) ‘not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is’; and not conclude the event to have sufficiently justified our Saviour’s prediction?” [Newton, vol. 2, p. 255.]
“Through it all the church was not defeated. The church continues to this day while all of its first-century enemies lie in the dust. In our day new enemies are equally intent on destroying the church. Their end is equally sure. Seeing how God fulfilled this extraordinary prophecy should bolster our faith that He will do the same for His church as it nears the twenty-first century. If non-Christian ‘folly [was made] obvious to all’ in the first century (2 Timothy 3:9), can we expect any less in our century?”
“The unavoidable time of tribulation and persecution that must come will have several effects: the commitment of many will grow cold; others will fall away and betray those with whom they formerly stood, and iniquity will abound. It will be a time that calls for great endurance from the faithful.
At the same time, however, the period before the end will be marked by the proclamation of the good news that Jesus has been announcing in his ministry— the good news of the Kingdom. But now that proclamation will go not just to the Jews but to ‘all the nations.” [Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 696]
In His account of false signs, Jesus repeatedly comforted His disciples,
Matthew 24:4 – 8 (NASB) — “See to it that no one mislead you… see that you are not frightened, for these things must take place, but that is not yet the end… all these things are merely the beginnings of birth pangs.”
He concluded this section of the Olivet Discourse with these demanding words,
Matthew 24:13 — “…But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
The apostate nation of Israel did not understand that its time was running out. It had been corrupted by its spiritually bankrupt leaders and their hypocritical religious systems. The disciples of Jesus would live through the move and transition from the old covenant age of Moses to the new covenant age of the Messiah. Some of them would even live to see all this happening right before their eyes.
Jesus warned that they would go through a time of tremendous commotion, transitional change, and ceaseless trials and tribulations. But, the promise that Jesus would build His church was manifested through them as they laid the foundation and established the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, which not only survived through this transitional process but was victorious and began putting Christ’s enemies under His feet.
Jesus had already prepared His disciples not to be discouraged by any false or counterfeit signs and they followed His words to the dot.