Concepts of time are expressed in the New Testament in as wide a variety of ways as in the present day. The unit of time most frequently used in Greek is hora. While it is translated hour, the meaning is dictated by the context.
1. At that instant.
Then Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you. And his servant was healed that same hour. ( And his servant was healed at that moment. NIV.)
But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (literal). You will be given at that moment what you are to say. (NAB).
In the parable of the fig tree, Jesus suggests that there will be clues to the
time and circumstances as to when He will gather the elect, but then He
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but
My Father only. Matthew 24:36.
While day and hour sounds like a redundancy, the expression is understood
from the context, (Mt. 24:32-44.) to mean the exact time and circumstances.
When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But
this is your hour, and the power of darkness. . Luke 22:53.
A reasonable or effective period.
When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Matthew 26:40.
Jesus didn’t say ‘wait here, I’ll be back in one hour’. He said, Remain here and keep watch with me. We don’t know how long Jesus was gone, but a reasonable period of time for them to remain in prayer would have been ‘until He got back’.
An imminent event.
Shortly after His passionate prayers to the Father, Jesus tells His disciples:
Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Matthew 24:45.
A life event, whether desirable or undesirable; sought after or predestined.
In Mark’s account of the passion we find these words from Jesus.
My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, he said to them. Stay here and keep watch. Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. Abba, Father, he said, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. Mark 14:34-36.
Jesus shows how completely He identified with the trials and sufferings of humanity to the point of making a final plea to be spared, while fully submitting to His Father’s Will.
When His mother asks Jesus to rescue an awkward situation He first resists.
And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, They have no wine. Jesus said to her, Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, Whatever He says to you, do. John 2:3-5.
While Jesus insists that it is not yet time (the hour) for public miracles, Mary insists, as is a mother’s prerogative, and so He acts.(see 5th commandment, which Paul describes as the first commandment with promise. Eph. 6:2).
So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come. John 7:30.
He spoke these words while teaching in the treasury in the temple area. But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:20.
Man cannot alter what God has predetermined.
Approximate times of day
Even as we use expressions like lunchtime, dinnertime, tea time..etc..to express times of day, we find the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour…etc..as similar approximations.
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. (noon to three, NIV). Matthew 27:45.
In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, we also see the times of day that the landowner passed through town, and hired more workers. Then we see a statement that comes close to an actual hour of time.
And on receiving their pay they grumbled against the landowner, saying, These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat. Matthew 20:11,12.
And when the hour was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and the (dinner) hour is already far passed (literal); Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. Mark 6:35,36.
Showing a relationship to consecutive statements in a narrative.
In that hour (at that very moment NAB) Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. Luke 10:21.
Jesus rejoicing seems spontaneous, but the narrative wants us to know that it is directly linked to the conversation He just shared with the disciples.
An Immediate Reaction, without hesitation
But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. Galatians 2:5.
The Time has already begun.
Besides this, knowing the season, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first came to trust. Romans 13:11.
An ongoing condition versus a temporary condition.
To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 1 Corinthians 4:11.
And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 1 Co. 15:30.
For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for an hour. 2 Corinthians 2:8.
Prophetic words and fulfillment
Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:21-24.
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also,because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. John 5:25-29.
Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. John 12:23.
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10.