Would you please explain the meaning of the word "earthquakes" in Matthew 24:7? Does this word just refer to earthquakes, or is more involved?


In Matthew 24:7, Jesus Christ speaks about end-time events and warns His listeners: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there shall be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”

In Matthew 24:7, and in the parallel Scriptures of Mark 13:8 and Luke 21:11, the Greek word for “earthquakes” is “seismos,” meaning, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, No. 4578, “a commotion, i.e. (of the air) a gale, (of the ground) an earthquake–earthquake, tempest.”

The word “Seismology”–the study of earthquakes — is derived from the Greek, “seismos.” But in the Bible, the Greek word “seismos” applies also to a tempest in the air. For instance, note Matthew 8:24, which reads: “And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that that the boat was covered with the waves. But He [Christ] was asleep.” The Greek word for “tempest” is “seismos”–the same word as used in Matthew 24:7, which is translated there as “earthquakes.” In Matthew 8:24, it was not a small tempest, but “a great tempest,” which arose on the sea.

Let us compare the passage of Matthew 8:24 with the parallel account in Mark 4:37-38: “…And a great windstorm arose; and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the pillow.” Notice also the parallel passage in Luke 8:23: “But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake; and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.”

The Greek word for “windstorm” is “lailaps,” meaning a “whirlwind… storm, tempest” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, No. 2978) or, as Thayer’s Greek Definition of the Bible puts it:

“1) a whirlwind, a tempestuous wind… 2) a violent attack of wind, a squall… never a single gust nor a steady blowing wind, however violent, but a storm breaking forth from black thunder clouds in furious gusts, with floods of rain, and throwing everything topsy-turvy.”

Reading together the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke, we see that there was a great and violent storm on the lake. This whirlwind, “lailaps” in Mark and Luke, was called a “seismos” in Matthew; that is, a tempest in the air. The Greek word “seismos” applies to both an earthquake and a violent storm. When Christ prophesied about “seismos” for the end-time, He did not only prophesy about “earthquakes,” but also about violent tempests in the air; that is, storms, hurricanes and typhoons, i.e., strong whirlwinds.

Christ’s predictions are coming to pass today. We read and hear more and more about hurricanes, typhoons, storms and tempests in diverse places, as well as earthquakes.

In his book, written in 1999, “Apocalypse–A Natural History of Global Disasters”, Bill McGuire, Professor of Geohazards and Director of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre at University College London, says this about hurricanes:

“Wind-storms, particularly hurricanes, constitute one of the most destructive of all geophysical hazards… The Saffir-Simpson Scale classifies hurricanes in terms of categories ranging from 1 to 5, largely based upon the average and peak strengths of the winds” (p.32, “Atmospheric hazards”).

For instance, hurricane Andrew, which struck Miami in August of 1992, was a category 5 hurricane–its winds had an average speed of 250 to 300 kilometers per hour. The costs of the devastation from the hurricane were US $32 billion. Bill McGuire states: “Hurricane Andrew was the second-most expensive disaster in the history of the country.”

He continues: “In recent years, the numbers of hurricanes have been increasing, and there are now some 40 per cent more intense hurricanes than there were 30 years ago. Worryingly, this does not seem to be a blip, but part of a continuing trend caused by global warming… In order for a hurricane to form, the sea-surface temperature in the spawning grounds must be at least 26°c. However, recent scientific research has revealed not only that sea-surface temperatures are rising, but also that, for every 1°c rise, more hurricanes can be expected. In the Eastern Atlantic, for example, sea-surface temperatures of 27°c will generate, on average, one or two hurricanes a year, while a rise to 28°c will result in seven or eight… With the global-warming trend set to continue for at least another 50 years, whatever we do today to reduce ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions, the prospects for hurricane-prone regions look increasingly bleak” (p.34).

Additionally, McGuire makes the following startling statements:

“Where there is wind there is often rain, and where that rain is torrential and persistent it will not be long before floods follow… The intensity of rainfall during a tropical storm can be almost unbelievable. In 1970, on the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, for example, nearly 4cm of rain fell in only 1 minute, while on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean nearly 4m of rain fell in a single 24-hour period in March 1952… Flood disasters are on the increase world-wide… In any single year, floods may affect upwards of 100 million people world-wide, killing up to 20,000…” (p.35, “Hydrological Hazards”).

He states on page 38: “…despite many initiatives designed to better understand geophysical hazards and their effect, natural disasters have not only continued unabated but have actually increased in both number and impact” (“Geophysical hazards and the human race”).

Natural disasters are on the increase worldwide–not only earthquakes, but also hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and other natural and man-made devastations. Science confirms today how accurate Christ’s “Olivet Prophecy” is. In the future we will be witnessing all over the world more and more violent, powerful and destructive earthquakes, as well as tsunamis, terrible storms, heavy rainfalls and landslides.

When these events occur with more and more frequency and powerful devastation, we KNOW that the time of Christ’s return is near. He foretold us in Luke 21:25-28:

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things BEGIN to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption DRAWS NEAR.”

Lead Writer: J. Peeters

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