Like a Thief in the Night: Jesus’ Metaphor as Imminent Eschatological Judgment

This paper will explore the use of Jesus’ metaphor of a “thief in the night” in Matthew 24:42-51. Over and against figurative interpretations or even the tendency to demythologize this reference, the argument will be advanced that the referent of Jesus’ metaphor is nothing less than imminent eschatological judgment. It will be shown that this interpretation not only fits the literary and historical context of Matthew’s Gospel, but also matches what we currently know of metaphorical linguistic theory.

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