Yesterday we learned how Paul established himself in the city of Corinth. During those early months in Corinth the Jews were stirring up trouble against Paul. The Lord appeared to Paul on one occasion and said, "Do not worry. I am not going to let anything happen to you here. I have many people in this city." Paul took courage from that, in spite of having been mistreated - even stoned - in other places, and carried on his ministry there in Corinth for eighteen months.

The city of Corinth was a city with an interesting location and a long history. It was located on the narrow isthmus of land that divided the upper, northern, main portion of Greece known as Attica, from the southern portion of Greece, the Peloponnese. The capital of the northern portion was Athens. Sparta was the capital city in the southern portion. Between, on this narrow isthmus, lay the city of Corinth. It was a city of commerce, a great city for the mixture of races.

Each of these pictures in Matthew 24:36-51 has been alike in stressing the sudden nature of Christ's return. But each has also added its own unique elements. The picture of the flood has reminded us that many persons will be lost. The picture of the two men working in the fields and the two women grinding at the mill points to a radical separation and reminds us that we are not saved by being close to a believer. The picture of the thief reminds us that our souls are valuable and that it is prudent to be ready.

The third of Jesus’ illustrations is of a thief breaking into a house. "But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into" (v. 43).
This parable also teaches the sudden and unpredictable coming of the Lord, and is used this way in four other New Testament passages. Paul wrote, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape" (1 Thess. 5:2-3).

The second picture Jesus paints to describe the nature of things at his return is in verses 40 and 41. "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left." Here the suddenness of Christ’s return introduced in the reference to the days of Noah is carried forward, but there is the additional thought of a sudden separation. Two men working in the field would be coworkers. Two women working with a hand mill would be closely related, most likely a mother and daughter or two servants in the same household. Outwardly they would seem to be in identical situations and even identical in their relationships to Christ. But at his return one will be taken and the other left behind.