By Randy Dillon
Matthew 24:28 “For wheresoever the carcass Is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” KJV
“Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.” NLT
In the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus is explaining to His disciples about His earlier comment that the temple would be so destroyed that not one stone would be left standing upon another.
He warned of false Messiahs and indicated that He would return in such manner that every eye would see Him and every heart would acknowledge the event.
Jesus then inserts what might be considered an odd statement in verse 28; an adage that was perhaps oriental in nature and probably a common expression of the day. While the King James Version (KJV) used the word “eagle” many more recent translations use “vulture.” The eagle may be symbolic of the Romans, but the eagle is not a carrion bird (one that eats dead animals). More likely the vulture is a better figure. Most interesting is the meaning attached to this verse. While the New Living Translation (NLT) has its faults, the translation of this particular verse is likely more accurate than many others. And it is more understandable in modern English.
The flow of Jesus’ words from verses 26 and 27 do not appear at first hearing to have any connection to this verse. However, a closer examination will reveal a very close proximity of thought in all three verses. Jesus, I believe, is saying to His disciples that His return will not be in a desert place or in a secret chamber (see verse 26), but rather it will be a world-wide event, And just as lightning shines bright against a dark sky (see verse 27) so will Jesus’ return be seen by every living human. Thus, the proverb is simply a common way of referring to the return of Jesus as a public, earth-wide event which no one could possibly miss.
There is a similar allusion to carcasses and vultures in Luke 17:37. After predicting that “one shall be taken, and the other left” of two men in bed, two women grinding, and two men in a field return, as a reference to His return, His disciples asked “Where, Lord?” Jesus replied, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” Again, a better translation would likely be vultures than eagles. The comment in Luke extends the idea presented in Matthew of a world-wide knowledge of Jesus’ return and expands it to include a sense of judgement and punishment in the end times for those who have rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
As such, this verse in Matthew is not out of place, but instead carries in it the idea of each Gospel writer that the Second Coming of Jesus will be seen globally and bring on judgement to those who cannot
claim Jesus as Savior and Lord