If the Holy Spirit is God, why didn't He know the time of Christ's return?

Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32

  1. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone," (Matt. 24:36).
  2. "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone," (Mark 13:32).

There are two possible answers here. First, Jesus is both God and man (John 1:1, 14; 20:28; Col. 2:9), and during His ministry in Jerusalem, He was cooperating with the limitations of being a man.  As a man, Jesus walked and talked.  As God He was worshipped (Matt. 14:33; 28:9; Heb. 1:6), prayed to (Zech. 13:9; 1 Cor. 1:2), etc.  This is called the Hypostatic Union.

Since he was operating as a man, under the law (Gal. 4:4), it might very well be that Jesus was referencing the Father as the proper sovereign as only as a good Jew would have done.

Second, cultural context is very important. This passage is about Jesus' return which included getting the bride, the church and then the wedding feast would occur.

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready,8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 And he *said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb," (Rev. 19:7-9).

If we were to look at the cultural context, we can get a much better understanding of what was Jesus may have been alluding to when he said that only the Father knows.

In that historical and cultural context when a man was going to marry a woman, it was usually prearranged.  The bridegroom would be living with his family and he would begin to build an addition onto his father's house where he and his future wife would live. It was the custom for the father of the home to be the one who designated when the addition was finished. This meant that only the father knew when the son would be told to go get the bride.  But, does this mean that the son would not know when he had to go to get the bride? Not necessarily, and this is why.

A wedding was a community affair where many many people would be invited.  This required advance notice so that people could allot the necessary time to attend the wedding and wedding feast. This means that some would have to put their animals away for the day, not work in the field that day, not have business dealings that day, et cetera.   In a culture where there is no Internet, phone, or radio, things were done well in advance so that people could plan ahead.

Furthermore, a wedding feast also meant that large amounts of food would have to be prepared in order for all the guests to have something to eat. These kinds of arrangements were not done on the spur of the moment. The arrangements were done weeks, sometimes months in advance. Therefore, to alleviate anyone missing the wedding feast due to a spontaneous invitation that they could not attend, arrangements were made well in advance.

But, in order to maintain the respect and dignity of the father's place in the home, it would naturally be said "that only the father knows" when it would be time for the son to go get the bride.  This did not necessitate that the son did not know because the community would have to know within a reasonable degree of accuracy when the wedding would occur.  Therefore, Jesus may have been alluding to the phraseology housed in the wedding and wedding feast culture that did not necessarily mean he did not know or the Holy Spirit did not know the time of his return.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.