"If the owner of the house had known at what time ..." (Matthew 24:43-44)

"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. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:43-44)

What is this parable of the house owner about?

This is an analogy regarding the time of death. The analogy follows Jesus' warning about a coming mass slaughter by the Romans of Judeans during the coming years (the Jewish-Roman wars):
"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. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24:40-42)
Many have incorrectly interpreted this to mean that the world will end and Jesus will come riding through the sky to save those who join their church, while killing off everyone else ("unbelievers").

This is fiction, intended to recruit followers by scaring people.

Some institutions go to the extent of teaching that there is a list of those who will be saved, and getting on the list means joining their sect.

There are several holes in this fictitious interpretation of the world ending, initially put forth to scare people into attending the early Roman Catholic church, and eventually being utilized over the centuries by those sects wishing to gain or keep followers.

If Jesus was discussing the end of the world why did Jesus say during this discussion:
"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." (Matthew 24:34)
Since the "generation" Jesus was referring to passed away some 2,000 years ago and the end of the world didn't come, how could he be referring to the end of the world?

If the world was going to end then why did Jesus say:
"Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left." (Matthew 24:40)
Where would the one who is "left" go if the world was ending? The word "left" means they would stay.

And what happens to those who followed Jesus but their bodies died before this supposed end of the world scenario? They'd have to wait around somewhere - some for thousands of years - for Jesus to come riding through the sky at the end of the world? Where would they wait, and wouldn't their bodies have long decomposed by them?

Thus, the inventive doctrine of purgatory is problematic. This doesn't explain how they will be waiting around when their physical bodies have decomposed and turned to ashes and soil.

These problems and others pervade this 'end of the world' teaching continually put forth by some teachers. Despite all the predictions of the past that were wrong, they still make new predictions and we are supposed to believe them?

Is there a history of this false prediction?

Many sectarian teachers have predicted this end of the world scenario for the past 1,700 years in this attempt to scare people into joining their institutions. Just consider some of the more famous yet still false doomsday predictions made through the centuries:

Hilary of Poitiers: 365 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Martin of Tours: 375 to 400 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Hydatius (Bishop of Aquae) 482 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Sextus Julius Africanus: 500 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Hippolytus of Rome: 500 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Beatus of Leibana: 793 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Gregory of Tours: 799 to 800 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Thiota: 847 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Pope Sylvester II: 1000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Gerard of Poehlde: 1147 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John of Toledo: 1179 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joachim of Fiore: 1205 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Pope Innocent III: 1284 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joachimites: 1290 and 1335 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Jean de Roquetaillade: 1368 and 1370 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Amaldus de Villa Nova: 1378 (predicted doomsday date)
Thomas Muntzer: 1525 AD  (predicted doomsday date)
Johannes Stoffler: 1524 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Hans Hut (Anabaptist): 1528 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Melchior Hoffman (Anabaptist): 1533 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Jan Matthys (Anabaptist): 1534 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Martin Luther (Augustinian monk): 1600 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Christopher Columbus: 1658 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joseph Mede: 1660 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Sabbatai Zevi: 1648 and 1666 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Fifth Monarchists: 1666 and 1673 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Benjamin Keach (Baptist): 1689 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Pierre Jurieu: 1689 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John Mason (Anglican): 1694 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Johan Heinrich Alsted (Calvinist): 1694 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Cotton Mather (Puritan): 1697, 1716 and 1736 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Henry Archer (Fifth Monarchist): 1700 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa: 1700 to 1734 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Camisards: 1705 and 1708 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
William Whitson: 1736 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Emanuel Swedenborg (Lutheran): 1757 AD (predicted doomsday date)
The Shakers (Ann Lee): 1792 and 1794 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly: 1789 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Charles Wesley (Methodist): 1794 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Christopher Love (Presbyterian): 1805 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Margaret McDonald: 1830 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joseph Smith (Mormon): 1832 and 1891 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Johann Albrecht Bengel (Lutheran): 1846 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John Wesley (Methodist founder): 1836 AD (predicted doomsday date)
William Miller (Millerites founder): 1843 and 1844 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
George Rapp (Harmony Society founder): 1847 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Harriet Livermore: 1847 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Ellen White (Seven Day Adventists): 1850, 1856 and "early 1900s" AD (predicted doomsday dates)
John Cumming: 1862 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joseph Morris (Mormon): 1862 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John Wroe (Christian Israelite Church): 1863 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Jonas Wendell and other Adventist preachers: 1863, 1874, 1870 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Mother Shipton: 1881 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Wovoka (Ghost Dance): 1890 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Catholic Apostolic Church: 1901 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses): 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994 and others more recent. (predicted doomsday dates)
Margaret Rowen (Seventh-Day Adventist): 1920 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Spencer Perceval (Catholic Apostolic Church): 1926 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Wilbur Glenn Voliva: 1935 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Herbert Armstrong (Worldwide Church of God founder): 1936 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Florence Houteff (Branch Davidians): 1959 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Johann Bischoff (New Apostolic Church): 1951 and 1960 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Jim Jones (People's Temple cult): 1967 AD (predicted doomsday date)
George Williams (Church of the Firstborn): 1969 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Herbert Armstrong (Worldwide Church of God): 1972 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John Wroe (Christian Israelite Church): 1977 AD (predicted doomsday date)
William Branham (evangelist): 1977 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel): 1981 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Pat Robertson (evangelist): 1982 and 2007 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Lester Sumrall (Pentecostal): 1985 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Edgar Whisenant: 1988 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Elizabeth Clare (Summit Lighthouse): 1990 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Rollen Stewart: 1992 AD (predicted doomsday date)
David Berg (The Family): 1993 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Harold Camping: 1994, 1995, 2011 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Ronald Weinland (Church of God): 2011 and 2012 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Aggai: 1997 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Marshall Applewhite (Heavens Gate cult): 1997 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Archbishop James Ussher: 1997 AD (predicted doomsday date)
James Gordon Lindsay (Christ for the Nations): 1999 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Jerry Falwell (evangelist): 2000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Ed Dobson: 2000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Lester Sumrall: 2000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Jonathan Edwards (Congr. Protestant): 2000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
David Meade: 2017 and 2018 AD (predicted doomsday dates)

Should we continue to believe these prophecies by those who want to scare us into believing? Should we trust their interpretation of Jesus' 'second coming' when they have been wrong about their predictions over the centuries?

What happened during the Jewish-Roman wars?

Jesus is referring to the mass slaughter of millions of Judeans at the hands of the Romans in the Jewish-Roman wars. This began at about 60 A.D. with the burning of Jerusalem and the sacking of the Jerusalem temple.

This was a horrible holocaust, in which the Judean people were decimated by Roman armies. The Judeans had knives and rocks, while the Roman army had horses, swords, bows and arrows and fire. It was no contest.

What few were spared were either enslaved by the Romans or ran off into the desert to eke out an existence hidden in caves. And even many of these remote camps - including Qumran - were also eventually ransacked by the Romans.

The Jewish-Roman wars lasted nearly a century. It is one of the longest wars ever recorded, and more people were slaughtered than in previous Middle Eastern history - or since, in a single war.

So Jesus, in this private conversation with his disciples, was trying to prepare them for their coming death, made inevitable by the brutal war to come.

What is the parable symbolism?

The actual meaning of Jesus' parable above is actually quite simple:

"The owner of the house"
symbolizes the living spirit - the person - who resides within the physical body. The "house" symbolizes the physical body. The "thief" represents death, which can come at any time.

If the person within the body is prepared for the death of their body, then they will be prepared for it by directing their focus upon God. If they are focused upon God as death approaches, then they will be prepared for Jesus' "appearance" (ἔρχομαι is better translated to "appear" in this context, rather than "come") at the time of death.

Such a follower of Jesus will, in other words, be much more likely be "taken" as opposed to being "left" (Matt. 24:40).

"Taken", in Matt. 24:40 refers to being taken back to the spiritual world. Being "left" means to continue our hellish existence within the physical world - away from God.

So "the Son of Man will come" refers to Jesus' influence at the time of death for each of his followers. As their spiritual teacher, Jesus pledged that those who obeyed his teachings and directed their lives towards learning to love and serve God would be led back to the spiritual world.

This has been confirmed by clinical death research, in which those who have been followers of Jesus found themselves facing Jesus after they left their bodies.

Note that the Greek phrase υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου translated to "Son of Man" is better translated to the Servant of Humanity.

Jesus is placing himself as a servant of all of humanity.
"The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:11-12)