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What is the Eleventh Hour?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated: May 23, 2024

The eleventh hour is the last possible moment at which something can be done before problems or solutions might arise. The phrase, “at the eleventh” hour became popular in the 19th century, but was in use much earlier. It alludes specifically to the book of Matthew in the New Testament (20:2-16).

This account in Matthew is a parable regarding workers who arrive at the eleventh hour of the workday and are still paid a full day’s wage. Biblical scholars have suggested that the parable can mean that even people who come to Christianity late in life will still earn the full benefits of the joys of eternal life.

Some scholars have even placed this hour as specifically the hour between 5 and 6 pm, since the typical workday would have been from sunup to sunset, or between 6am and 6 pm. This very literal meaning seldom applies to eleventh hour as it is used commonly. Instead, it simply means “at the last possible time.”

Some relate “at the eleventh hour” to procrastination, and view the phrase in a negative sense. For example, Constantine’s deathbed conversion to Christianity seems unfair to some Christians, as it happened at the very last moment. A student who waits until the night before it's due to write a paper or finish an assignment has certainly procrastinated, and may turn in work that is not carefully thought out or well-prepared.

In other circumstances, a last minute solution is viewed positively. For example in the sentence, “At the eleventh hour, the Teachers’ Union and the School Board were able to negotiate a contract,” the phrase is used positively. If the contract hadn’t been negotiated, then the Teachers’ Union might have had to go on strike. In other words, sometimes solution that arrives just in the nick of time saves the day.

At other times, a problem may present itself at the eleventh hour, which delays something being accomplished. A family who has been packing all day for a trip might have their trip delayed at the last moment by the baby suddenly running a fever. Such problems are generally unwelcome occurrences.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon946332 — On Apr 18, 2014

When I began seeing the 11's, I thought it was just me. It began somewhere between the last few months of 2010 to the first few months of 2011. I googled it on the internet and was shocked at the number of people who had the same thing happening to them as well as the different interpretations of the meanings folks had. It has been more than just coincidence and happens multiple times a day, every day. I can't make it happen and don't usually expect it when it does. I was going to try and track it by writing it down each time it happens, but it is often in a place I can't get to pen and paper, or just not convenient.

I believe God is telling me we are in the 11th hour, but I am not sure what I am supposed to do with the information. It is amazing how many folks are involved in this.

By anon339765 — On Jun 26, 2013

The eleventh hour represents our last change to atone for things before Judgment. People are seeing it because we are not paying attention to the fruits we are creating in the world and these are yielding plagues. As it says in Revelation, despite the plagues, man would not repent the work of his hands, and he would not stop worshiping idols that can't see or hear or walk.

I see it as a call, one where we can wake up and truly serve the whole or continue to focus only on the self as the rest of Revelation seems to indicate. Man falls prey to self-deception, greed, harlotry (selling of self for money), workaholic (and the smoke of his torment rises forever --pollution-- for he that worships the beast).

It's about choosing whether you serve materialism and the flesh/beast, or God and the whole (and the protection of his creation = nature, seeing it as holy and sacred). Remember, almost everyone is deceived near the eleventh hour. Even the prophets and church are deceiving others into worshiping the beast/flesh/other men/governments. I like the book of Galatians. Like another poster, I saw the phenomenon spike for myself before the twin towers attack on 9/11. I was also seeing 9:11 on my clock a lot. As much as we are being called, we are being warned as well.

Also remember that you will know the true prophet of God from the fruits of any philosophy he recommends (saying it comes from God). If it's causing us to create plagues (materialism and conformity to big business, greed, corrupt governments etc.). then it is bearing poor fruit, not good fruit. Remember, Jesus showed us the way, and was wiling to die and would not compromise himself with authorities who were not God.

If you see 11:11, it is time to become a good shepherd and to begin to ask what we are really manifesting through the 'work of our hands' upon the environment and greater world.

In the end, all men will be judged by their works, bringing an element of karma for having participated in the destruction of God's creation, one another and ourselves. Unless we start attuning to nature and going "off grid" with "power" (metaphorically and literally), we could one day have a very nuclear future to contend with. What would Jesus do? Start to care.

By anon319990 — On Feb 15, 2013

Wow. I don't know who posted about 11:11, but I've been having the same thing happen with 9:11, 7:11, etc. since 2009 as a warning not to do something. I ignored it and it cost me 40k.

Now in the year 2013, I've been getting it heavy with 11:11 9:11 for the past three weeks. I asked God to reveal what it is since i didn't listen last time. I heard 11th hour so I looked it up, and yes, I believe we are in the last days before midnight or the end – the rapture if you believe that, or judgment. In any event, it's a warning!

Personally, it brought to my memory a dream my daughter had of being in heaven and neither I nor my youngest two kids were there. She asked why and her dad said she'll be here but she will be late. She said I came late but was beheaded. She asked God why and He said it was my mouth that kept me from the rapture, but my faith that brought me to Heaven. Unfortunately, this made sense to me and I wish it didn't. My mouth is not good although I have faith in God. So I was going to have to go through the tribulation and be beheaded for my faith. Well that doesn't make me feel very good, and the fact my youngest two kids weren't there in heaven either shoots down my theory that you will go to heaven with the rest just because you believe. No, I was left here.

This also goes along with a vision I had way back in 2008. In my vision, the earth had sustained some major damage looking like the pictures we saw of the 911 New York incident. Everything was gray dust and piles of rubble and fire. I was in a hummer type vehicle and riding over the piles like I was on a mission to get somewhere safe. I was very much aware that I was here on earth but my family was not here. I eventually arrived at a safe place and I woke up. I asked God what this vision was and He said it was the apocalypse. I looked it up and it means the end of all things.

Well, I'm awake now and I don't want to be here and go through that, so I'm going to heed the warning and clean up my mouth and pray for my youngest two kids to wake up. Isn't this interesting? We are and I am in the eleventh hour. God bless us all.

By anon285546 — On Aug 16, 2012

Just a thought: even the "eleventh hour" can bring delays, but can be life saving. And those who come to Christ at the "eleventh hour" will earn the benefits of eternal life.

By anon269367 — On May 17, 2012

I am an educated professional, not given easily to superstition. But I have been seeing 11:11 beyond random chance on digital wall clocks for years now! I have known now for a while it is a warning that mankind has entered into the eleventh hour. Time is running out to repent and get right with God.

"The first shall be last and last shall be first". This generation is the last before the coming of the antichrist and his defeat by the the Lamb Who was slain: The Lion of Judah!

By sneakers41 — On May 27, 2011

@Hyrax53- You are right. I tell my husband this every time there is an eleventh hour delay in his flight. Many times this happens due to weather conditions or some type of mechanical dysfunction.

I always tell him that it is better that the flight remains safe and there is a delay because the alternative is not an option. I think that when you put things in perspective like this you understand that eleventh hour delays can be life saving.

How many people have died in airplane crashes because they flew in inclement weather? Unfortunately in these cases you don’t get a do over, so a little patience does go a long way.

By hyrax53 — On Jan 07, 2011

While things that happen in the eleventh hour can often be bad, there are also sayings about things being saved in the eleventh hour as well, or things suddenly being just right "in the eleventh hour". While they can often be chaotic, things in the "eleventh hour" theme are not always bad.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor,...
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