Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Wait they) i.e. the people of Mecca, (indeed, for nothing less than that the angels should come unto them) to take their souls away at the moment of death, (or thy Lord should come) on the Day of Judgement, and His coming is without modality, (or there should come one of the portents from thy Lord) i.e. the rising of the sun from the West? (In the day when one of the portents from they Lord cometh) before the rising of the sun from the West, (its belief availeth naught a soul which theretofore) before the rising of the sun from the West (believed not, nor in its belief earned good) nor was it sincere in its belief, nor doing any good works before the rising of the sun from the West. This is because no faith, works or repentance are accepted from an unbeliever who embraces Islam upon seeing the sun rise from the West, unless that person is young at that time or is born after. In such a case, if he leaves Islam after the sun rises from the West and then returns to Islam, his repentance is accepted. Likewise, the repentance of a sinning believer who repents of his sins after the sun rises from the West is accepted. (Say) O Muhammad to the people of Mecca: (Wait you) the Day of Judgement! (Lo! We (too) are waiting) for your punishment on the Day of Judgement or before the Day of Judgement; it is also said that this means: Say, O Muhammad, wait for my destruction, I am also waiting for yours.
Are they waiting — the deniers are indeed waiting — for nothing less than that the angels should come to them (read ta’tīyahum or ya’tīyahum), to seize their souls, or that your Lord, that is, His command, meaning His chastisement, should come, or that one of your Lord’s signs should come?, that is, those portents of His that indicate [the arrival of] the Hour? On the day that one of your Lord’s signs comes — and this is the rising of the sun from the west, as reported in the hadīth of the two Sahīhs [of Bukhārī and Muslim] — it shall not benefit a soul to believe if it had not believed theretofore (lam takun āmanat min qabl is an adjectival qualification of nafs, ‘a soul’) or, a soul which had not [until then], earned in its belief some good, some [act of] obedience, that is to say, its repentance shall be of no benefit to it, as [stated] in the hadīth [corpus]. Say: ‘Wait, for one of these things, We too are waiting’, for it.
Are they waiting for nothing less than that the angels should come to them, to receive their spirits in death, or that your Lord should come, by His self-disclosure in all of the attributes, as has already been alluded to in terms of the transmutation of form at the Resurrection such that none but the perfected affirmers of Oneness know Him, whereas the people of the creeds and [other] differing religions only know Him in the form of their belief [regarding Him]; or that one of your Lord's signs should comeḍ, His self-disclosure in an attribute which they never knew of Him. On the day that one of your Lord's signs comes, a self-disclosure of His with which they were never intimate, or which they never knew, it shall not benefit a soul to believe if it had not believed theretofore, for people are either veiled absolutely or otherwise, and they are either believers by their knowledge of some attributes or all of them. Those who believe in Him and know Him in all of these [attributes] are either lovers of the Essence or lovers of [His] attributes. So when the Truth discloses Himself in one of the attributes, the faith of those who are veiled absolutely is of no avail, nor the faith of those believers who did not know Him in that attribute prior to that self-disclosure, since faith is only beneficial when it has become a fixed and firmly rooted conviction embodied in the heart and one by which the soul is illumined and by which the spirit witnesses, and not that [faith] which comes about suddenly out of some urgent necessity; or earned in its faith some good, such as the faith of the knowers and lovers of the attributes, for these, even if they should believe in Him and have come to know of His self-disclosures in all of the attributes, because they have not acquired the Essential love and the absolute perfection and have loved Him through one of the attributes, such as the Gracious, for example, or the Gentle or the Merciful, when He discloses Himself in the attribute of the Vengeful or the Vanquisher or the Tester, their faith in Him shall not benefit them then, since they will not have been obedient to Him before that description and will not have been disciplined by that self-disclosure of His and loved the Essence to experience the pleasure of witnessing Him in whatever attribute it may be.
(or that some of the signs of your Lord should come! The day that some of the signs of your Lord do come no good will it do to a person to believe then.) Before the commencement of the Day of Resurrection, there will come signs and portents of the Last Hour that will be witnessed by the people living at that time. In a section explaining this Ayah, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Three, if they appear, then a soul will not benefit from its faith, if it had not believed before or earned good in its faith: when the sun rises from the west, Ad-Dajjal and the Beast of the earth.) Ahmad also recorded this Hadith, and in his narration, the Prophet mentioned the Smoke. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Amr bin Jarir said, "Three Muslim men sat with Marwan in Al-Madinah and they heard him talking about the signs (of the Last Hour). He said that the first sign will be the appearance of Ad-Dajjal. So these men went to `Abdullah bin `Amr and told him what they heard from Marwan about the signs. Ibn `Amr said, Marwan said nothing. I remember that I heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
(The first of the signs to appear are the sun rising from the west and the Beast that appears in the early morning. Whichever comes before the other, then the second sign will appear soon after it.'') Then `Abdullah said - and he used to read the Scriptures - "And I think the first of them is the sun rising from the west. That is because when it sets it comes under the Throne, prostrates and seeks permission to return. So it is permitted to return until Allah wants it to rise from the west. So it does as it normally would, it comes beneath the Throne, it prostrates and seeks permission to return. But it will get no response. Then it will seek permission to return again, but it will get no response, until what Allah wills of the night to pass goes by, and it realizes that if it is permitted to return it would not be able to reach the east. It says; `My Lord! The east is so far, what good would I be to the people' Until the horizons appear as a lightless ring, it seeks permission to return and is told; `Rise from your place,' so it rises upon the people from where it set.'' Then he recited,
(no good will it do to a person to believe then, if he believed not before,) means, when the disbeliever believes then, it will not be accepted from him. As for those who were believers before, if they earned righteous deeds, they will have earned a great deal of good. If they had not done good nor repented before then, it will not be accepted from them, according to the Hadiths that we mentioned. This is also the meaning of Allah's statement,
أَوْ كَسَبَتْ فِى إِيمَـنِهَا خَيْرًا
(...nor earned good through his faith. ) meaning, one's good deeds will not be accepted from him unless he performed good deeds before. Allah said next,
قُلِ انتَظِرُواْ إِنَّا مُنتَظِرُونَ
(Say: "Wait you! We (too) are waiting.") This is a stern threat to the disbelievers and a sure promise for those who delay embracing the faith and repenting until a time when faith or repentance shall not avail. This will occur when the sun rises from the west because the Last Hour will then be imminent and its major signs will have begun to appear. Allah said in other Ayat,
(Do they then await (anything) other than the Hour, that it should come upon them suddenly But some of its portents have already come; and when it is upon them, how can they benefit then by their reminder) 47:18, and,
(So when they saw Our punishment, they said: "We believe in Allah alone and reject (all) that we used to associate with Him as partners." Then their faith could not avail them when they saw Our punishment.) 40:84-85
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, to the Jews and the Christians.
Here "Ayat" are Allah's Revelations presented in the Holy Qur'an as well as His Messenger's noble character and the pure lives of the Believers which clearly distinguished them from the unbelievers, and also those wonderful phenomena of Nature which the Qur'an was putting forward as proofs of the truth of its Message.
"Manifest Signs" are the signs of the Day of Resurrection or some imminent scourge or some other Sign that tray unveil the Reality in such a way as to leave no doubt about it and after which no more chance for test and trial might be left.
That is, if after seeing these "Manifest Signs" a disbeliever repents of his disbelief and professes faith, such a conversion shall be meaningless; likewise the one who professes to believe but adopts the way of disobedience, shall be deemed to have no faith at all, because Faith and Obedience can have any value only up to the time that the reality remains hidden behind the curtain, and the prospect of a long life is ahead and the world with all its allurements is deluding one into believing that there is no Allah and no Hereafter; therefore, one should "Eat, drink and be merry."