The synoptic Gospels all speak of the Jesus foretelling of the Destruction of the Temple which leads into the Apostles asking about when these things would take place and asking about the end times described in Luke 21, Mark 13, and the most frequently referred to Matthew 24.
Imagine being among the disciples following Jesus as the passed by the temple. Since the temple was one of the great architectural wonders of the Middle East, it must have been inconceivable to them that this would be entirely razed. It is further likely that to them the destruction of the Temple would refer to the end times. However, Christ sees to it that they do not confuse the two events.
The destruction of the temple and the end of the age are two separate events.
Verses 24:1-35 yield numerous interpretations and present all kinds of exegetical conundrums - rabbit trails as Pastor Bob likes to call them, although I don’t see why. Let’s take a close look at this as Jesus is telling of what will happen as we near the End of the Age. The first 14 verses of Matthew 24 tell us about what it will be like before that time of Tribulation.
Let’s begin by looking at the first two accounts found in Luke 21 and Mark 13.
“And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”” (Luke 21:5–6, ESV)
“And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”” (Mark 13:1–2, ESV)
Let’s look at Matthew 24, which is commonly referred to as the Olivet Discourse. We will stay in that book for most of this discussion. Let’s look at how Matthew addresses the same thing.
“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”” (Matthew 24:1–2, ESV)
Matthew 24:1-2 sets the stage as the either one of the Apostles, or all the Apostles, while others were marveling at the temple and its noble stones and offerings.
The differences between one or all, or simply the others, does not really matter. It is likely that a crowd was with Jesus and His disciples. However, it is apparent that they paid attention to Jesus as all three versions say the same thing, “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
24:1 left the temple. This apparently tells us that they went to the Temple to Worship. They mentioned the beauty of the Temple on the way out. They then traveled the road from Jerusalem to Bethany, where Jesus and his disciples stayed each evening. I am sure those that have visited this area, takes one alongside the Mount of Olives, which affords a spectacular view of the temple in the distance. I’ve only seen pictures of this view.
24:2 Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple was fulfilled in a.d. 70 when the Roman army under Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Not … one stone upon another may be intended as a metaphor for total destruction, or it may be understood as something that was literally fulfilled in the destruction of the temple building itself (but not the entire Temple Mount, some of which remains to this day).
In verse 3 it is the disciples that question Jesus as to when these things would occur. So again, since the words disciples is used here, do we know if it was the Apostles, or other followers? The Greek word for disciples is Transliterated: mathetes; Pronounced: math-ay-tes’ a learner, pupil, disciple. Jesus often had more than the Apostles with Him. If only the Apostles, Matthew would have used the word Transliterated: apostolos; Pronounced: ap-os’-tol-os.
a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders
a. specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ
b. in a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers
1. of Barnabas
2. of Timothy and Silvanus
3. Of course Paul
Now that we have gone through all of that explanation, let's look at what the underlined word means – privately. As was their custom when Jesus spoke in parables that they did not understand, they would go to him privately for an explanation and Jesus would give them one. The Greek word for privately is Transliterated: idios; Pronounced: id’-ee-os. It means pertaining to oneself, one’s own, belonging to oneself or simply privately as we know it to mean in English.
What things were they questioning? We know from the opening verses of this chapter that they do question Jesus about when the temple stones will fall. Again, the disciples thought this would be the end of time. As they continued their travels to the Mount of Olives, surely, they had much to discuss along the way before they reached the spot where they sat down. We can see from the question in verse 3, “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age,” they must have been discussing the end times.
“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”” (Matthew 24:3, ESV)
“And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.” (Matthew 24:4, ESV) Verse 4 is not a suggestion. It is a command.
“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:5, ESV) Verse 5 tells us what we already know if we have listened to the various so-called preachers, especially the ones on TV and Internet.
Jesus goes on to say, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:6–7, ESV)
Look at the various wars and rumors that surround us today. However, the most important part of this statement from Jesus is what I emphasized, by underlining; “but the end is not yet.” His next verse confirms this: “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Matthew 24:8, ESV)
Some of this is further predicted as far back as the Old Testiment in 2 Chronicles 15:6 (ESV) They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress.
Jesus continues to explain. In speaking of the Nations, Kingdoms, etc.: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
(Matthew 24:9–14, ESV)
This is still not the Great Tribulation of Revelation. How do I know this? Good question. The Bible tells me so. Look at the two previous verses of 6 & 8 and then notice verse 14. These things are all happening today. Who is the “you” in verse 9? The Christians.
Pastor Ted spoke about the Dangers of Apostacy when he covered Hebrews, a great sermon. These verses describe exactly what is taking place today. They hate us (Christians). All the nations have infiltrated the United States and have all but torn down all the Christian values this once great Country was founded on. Hatred surrounds us. Many have and continue to fall away and when they do, they betray one another to a point of hating each other. False prophets and teachers surround us. Lawlessness is increasing daily. Just look at the LGBTQ movements and the pro-abortion movements and so much more filth.
Matthew 10:21 (ESV)
Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,
Yet there is good news. Verse 13. “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Paul tells us in Colossians 1:23 (ESV) if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Better yet, speaking to the Church of Smyrna, Jesus tells us in Revelation 2, which I would like to go over briefly. To the Church in Smyrna 8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.”
9 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
Verse 14 is a proclamation that our great commission is to be fulfilled.
Matthew 28:19 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (side note – Trinity)
“Then the end will come.”
Jesus only then turns to when the tribulation will begin in verse 15 and following (no - not the date and time).
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),” (Matthew 24:15, ESV)
Note the change. Verse 15 does not start with So then, but So when. But that’s for another blog. Stay tuned but stay alert! “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7, ESV)
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:7, ESV)
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12, ESV)
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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