What Is the Beginning of Sorrows?

The beginning of sorrows is a period of time characterized by specific signs that indicate Jesus Christ’s return is near. These signs also cause an increase in pain and sorrow that the Bible likens to a woman as she goes through her pregnancy and is about to give birth.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these [are] the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:4-8)

And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign [will there be] when these things shall come to pass? And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am [Christ]; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end [is] not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:7-11)

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any [man] deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [Christ]; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for [such things] must needs be; but the end [shall] not [be] yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows. (Mark 13:5-8)

The analogy of a pregnant woman to the end times is drawn from Old Testament passages like this one that describe the Day of the Lord.

Howl ye; for the day of the LORD [is] at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces [shall be as] flames. (Isaiah 13:6-8)

Prior to a woman giving birth, she experiences painful contractions. The culmination of the sorrows or birth pangs comes at delivery when the pain is most intense. After that, there is joy because of the child that is born!

As with a woman about to give birth, the time from the beginning of sorrows until Jesus returns and establishes His eternal kingdom will be characterized by increasing pain and sorrow culminating with utter destruction when God judges the nations and in doing so destroys the beast’s (Antichrist’s) kingdom.

Specific signs that Jesus told us to look for

First, wars and commotions, specifically nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom, but the end is not yet (Luke 21:9-10, Matthew 24:6-7)

Famines (Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:11)

Pestilences (Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:11)

Great earthquakes in various places (Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:11)

Take heed that no one deceive you for many shall come in My Name (Matthew 24:4-5)

Other Indicators

Besides the specific signs that Jesus mentioned, the Bible mentions other indicators to look for:

Israel becomes a nation

A Time of Trouble for Israel

Persecution of the church increasing

Antichrist’s kingdom begins to form

Many Shall Run To and Fro and Knowledge Shall be Increased

The evidence shows that these things came to pass in the 20th century which would lead us to conclude that we are living in the beginning of sorrows timeframe.

An analysis of other current events related to the end times can also be found on my other website Understanding the Times and What To Do.


It is interesting to note that while the world population experienced very little growth for centuries. It was during the 20th century when the population quadrupled from about 1.5 billion people in 1900 to about 6.0 billion in 2000 and reached 8.0 billion in 2022. More people means more potential for increased pain and sorrow.