Knowing Signs and Seasons

Did Jesus command his followers to know end-times chronologies, the “times and seasons”? Must they decipher key “signs” and use them to calculate the time of his return so they may be ready for that day's arrival? Did Jesus and his apostles leave us with a comprehensive list of signs whereby we can know the timing of the end?

In his Olivet Discourse, Jesus warns his disciples that many deceivers will come and “deceive many,” false prophets who will show “signs and wonders” used to deceive even the “elect.”

These charlatans will propagate false information about the “coming of the Son of Man,” including erroneous claims concerning its timing and the “signs” of it imminence - (Matthew 24:4-6, 24:23-27).


Since his time, the church has heard of many “wars and rumors of wars,” along with earthquakes, famines, and many other disasters and tragedies, both natural and manmade.

But Jesus declared that such things will come to pass, but “the end is not yet.” At most, they are harbingers of the eventual destruction of the existing world order, clear evidence that it will end sooner or later. However, they are not “signs” by which anyone can calculate that day’s timing.

The stress in his warning is on what his followers will “hear” from deceivers, the rumors, and claims that they will propagate to raise false expectations.

What Jesus did say about the timing of his return is crystal clear - “No one, not the angels of heaven or the Son knows the day or the hour of the coming of the Son of Man, except the Father alone.”

Only God knows that day’s timing. Alas, ever since Christ said those words, deceivers have worked tirelessly to find loopholes in them so they may claim to know the “signs and seasons,” and thereby calculate the proximity of the end.


Repeatedly, Jesus warned that no one knows the timing of that day. For example, the lesson he drew from his analogy of the “days of Noah” is that the men of that day “knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall be the coming of the Son of man… Watch, therefore, for you know not on what day your Lord is coming.” If a homeowner knew when the “thief” would strike, he would be prepared to catch him in the act.

He stated explicitly that no one knows or can know the “day or hour” of his “coming.” The only exception to this rule is God, period. And nowhere did he stay that we can ascertain the general “season” of the end by observing “signs.”

And he reiterated this warning just prior to his ascension when the disciples asked about the timing of the kingdom’s restoration:

  • (Acts 1:6-8) – “They, therefore, when they came together, asked him, saying, Lord, do you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said to them: IT IS NOT FOR YOU TO KNOW TIMES OR SEASONS, which the Father has set within his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you: and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.

Instead of providing chronologies and “signs,” he commanded the disciples to wait until they received the gift of the Spirit, then they were to take the gospel from Jerusalem to the “uttermost parts of the earth.”

And in his ‘Olivet Discourse,’ he pointed to the completion of that mission as the one event that will trigger the “end” and the “coming of the Son of Man.” The task of the church is not to decipher signs and calculate dates, but to preach the gospel “to all nations” - (Matthew 24:14).

The point of his repeated warning is that we must ALWAYS be prepared for his sudden arrival precisely BECAUSE we do not and cannot know its timing.  Its appearance will be sudden and unexpected, and on that day, it will be too late to prepare for his arrival, and any prophetic knowledge of “signs” will be superfluous.

In the meantime, his followers are commissioned to take the good news about the kingdom of God to every nation.


Suffering Servant

The Living Word