J. C. Ryle served as an Anglican minister in a working class parish during the 19th Century. He commanded the respect of many contemporary pastor-scholars in his day such as Charles Spurgeon, B. W. Newton, S. P. Tregelles, and many many more. Ryle’s works have been reprinted by the publisher Banner of Truth. Many of this Anglican minister’s works are available online as they are in the public domain. His expositions on the four gospels are among the best works of its kind from his era or any era. Below is an excerpt from his exposition on the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, verses thirty-six to fifty-one. Ryle’s words are every bit as relevant today as they were in 1873.
“There are verses in this passage which are often much misapplied. ‘The coming of the Son of man’ is often spoken of as being the same thing as death. The texts which describe the uncertainty of His coming are often used in epitaphs, and thought suitable to the tomb. But there is really no solid ground for such an application of this passage. Death is one thing, and the coming of the Son of man is quite another. The subject of these verses is not death, but the second advent of Jesus Christ. Let us remember this. It is a serious thing to wrest Scripture out of its true meaning.
The first thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the dreadful account that they give of the state of the world when the Lord Jesus comes again.
The world will not be converted when Christ returns. It will be found in the same condition that it was in the day of the flood. When the flood came, men were found “eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage,” absorbed in their worldly pursuits, and utterly regardless of Noah’s repeated warnings. They saw no likelihood of a flood. They would not believe there was any danger. But at last the flood came suddenly and “took them all away.” All that were not with Noah in the ark were drowned. They were all swept away to their last account, unpardoned, unconverted, and unprepared to meet God. And our Lord says, “so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
Let us mark this text, and store it up in our minds. There are many strange opinions current on this subject, even among good men. Let us not flatter ourselves that the heathen will all be converted, and the earth filled with the knowledge of God, before the Lord comes. Let us not dream that the end of all things cannot be at hand, because there is yet much wickedness both in the Church and in the world. Such views receive a flat contradiction in the passage now before us. The days of Noah are the true type of the days when Christ shall return. Millions of professing Christians will be found thoughtless, unbelieving, godless, Christless, worldly, and unfit to meet their Judge. Let us take heed that we are not found among them.”
(J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, Chpt. 24, 36-51, 1873)