Vv 1-3: "And now he and his disciples had departed from the
temple. Once more they lingered in sweet retirement on the mount of Olives. The
purple light on the mountains of Moab was fast fading out. Across the city the
sinking sun cast a rich glow over the pillared cloisters of the temple, and over
the silent courts as they rose terrace upon terrace. From where they stood they
could see over the closed Beautiful Gate, and right to the entrance of the holy
place, which now glittered with gold; while the eastern hills and the deep
valley below were thrown into a solemn shadow, creeping, as the orb sunk lower,
further and further towards the summit of Olivet, irradiated with one parting
gleam of roseate light, after all below was sunk in obscurity. Then it was and
there that the disciples, looking down upon the temple, pointed out to the
Master: 'What manner of stones and what buildings are here!' The view from that
site must have rendered belief in the Master's prediction even more difficult
and more sad. A few years more and it was all literally fulfilled" (Temple
JESUS LEFT THE TEMPLE: The Glory of God departs from
the city via the mountain on the east: Eze 11:23 (cp Acts 1:11: his final
TO CALL HIS ATTENTION TO ITS BUILDINGS: Both (a) how
massive were the stones (Mar 13:1) and (b) and how beautiful (Luk 21:5).
According to Josephus, huge stones, 70 ft long, 10 ft wide, 8 ft tall, in walls.
40-ft high white marble pillars -- "whited sepulchres". Titus, etc, caused "Zion
to be plowed as a field" (Mic 3:12).
Cp Mat 21:21: "Mt removed and cast into sea".
NOT ONE STONE HERE WILL BE LEFT ON ANOTHER: Certain
stones were even pried apart in order to collect the gold leaf that melted from
the roof when the temple burned. Excavations in 1968 discovered many such stones
thrown down into the valley.
True of temple building itself, but not true (as yet?) of the
great foundation stones of the Temple mount.
AS JESUS WAS SITTING ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES: Instances
of Jesus withdrawing into a mountain, apart -- sometimes for privacy and prayer,
and sometimes to instruct his followers: Mat 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3;
28:16; Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 13:3; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 22:39; John 6:3,15;
THE DISCIPLES: Peter, James, John, Andrew (Mar
WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN...?: The disciples, of course,
expected that Christ would "come" as King, with a royal presence, and to remove
the Romans and thrown down the corrupt temple, all at the same time and
COMING: Gr "parousia": a literal, visible coming -- not
some invisible or spiritual aura: see sw, 1Co 16:17; 2Co 7:6; 10:10; Phi 1:26;
2:12. See Lesson, "Parousia".
Vv 4-22: "The view usually held of the Olivet prophecy is that
it requires to be considered in two sections: vv 4-22 foretelling the troubles
connected with the fall of Jerusalem; v 29 onwards concerning the return of
Christ. This is broadly true, but there is more to it than that.
"There is good reason for believing that the first section of
Mat 24:4-22 will also find further fulfilment in the day of the Lord's
1. 'Let him that is on the housetop not
come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the
field return back to take his clothes' (Mat 24:17,18). Jesus used almost
identical words concerning 'the days of the Son of man' (Luk
2. 'For then shall be great
tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no,
nor ever shall be' (Mat 24:21). Yet OT prophets had already made the same
portentous declaration regarding the Last Days: 'a time of trouble such as never
was' (Dan 12:1; Joel 2:2; Jer 30:7). This evidence almost seems to require the
conclusion that the real fulfilment of Mat 24:21 has not happened
3. 'He that shall endure to the end,
the same shall be saved' (Mat 24:13) has been interpreted in more than one way:
(a) he who keeps the faith till the temple is destroyed? (b) he who keeps the
faith to the end of his life? (but this is a truism valid for every disciple in
every age); (c) he who clings to the faith in the Last Days in spite of extreme
discouragement? This presents least
4. 'Immediately after the
tribulation of those days...' (Mat 24:29) ceases to be a problem if the
preceding section also has an application to the end of the present
5. 'Then let them which be in Judaea
flee to the mountains (Mat 24:16). In Luke 17:28,29,32 Jesus pointed to an
emphatic parallel between the Last Days and the deliverance of Lot. These words
also echo Lot's experience (Gen 19:17).
'And the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness
to all the nations; and then shall the end come' (Mat 24:14). These words seem
to require a further, more complete, fulfilment beyond that already suggested
with reference to the First Century.
Daniel 'the abomination of desolation' is apparently given reference to the Last
Days as well as to the overthrow of Jerusalem (Dan 9:27; 8:13; 12:11). Jer 25:18
reinforces this view.
8. The warning
against false Christs and false prophets (Mat 24:23-26) comes also in Luke
17:20-22 with reference to the coming of the
9. 'Jerusalem trodden down of the
Gentiles' (Luke 21:24) is quoted from Zec 12:3 LXX, a Scripture that has every
appearance of 'Last Day' application.
There is a remarkable set of similarities between the first part of the Olivet
prophecy and Zec 14: (a) Jerusalem compassed with armies. All nations against
Jerusalem to battle. (b) The desolation thereof. The city taken. (c) Flee to the
mountains. Ye shall! flee to the valley of the mountains. (d) Great distress in
the land. Houses rifled, women ravished. (e) Led away captive into all nations.
Half the city go forth into captivity. (f) The Son of man coming in a cloud. His
feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives"
False Messiahs: "(1) Josephus says (War, b.ii.c.13) that there
were many who, pretending to Divine inspiration, deceived the people, leading
out numbers of them to the desert, pretending that God would there show them the
signs of liberty, meaning redemption from the Roman power: and that an Egyptian
false prophet led 30,000 men into the desert, who were almost all cut off by
Felix. See Acts 21:38. It was a just judgment for God to deliver up that people
into the hands of false Christs who had rejected the true one. Soon after our
Lord's crucifixion, Simon Magus appeared, and persuaded the people of Samaria
that he was the great power of God, Acts 8:9,10; and boasted among the Jews that
he was the son of God. (2) Of the same stamp and character was also Dositheus,
the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses. (3) About
twelve years after the death of our Lord, when Cuspius Fadus was procurator of
Judea, arose an impostor of the name of Theudas, who said he was a prophet, and
persuaded a great multitude to follow him with their best effects to the river
Jordan, which he promised to divide for their passage; and saying these things,
says Josephus, he deceived many: almost the very words of our Lord. (4) A few
years afterwards, under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea,
impostors of this stamp were so frequent that some were taken and killed almost
every day: Jos Ant b.xx.c.4,7" (Clarke).
EARTHQUAKES: The May 1984 National Geographic shows
through color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped
out the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79. The explosion of Mount
Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: men
and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil.
They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gases. Even family pets suffered the
same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of
that terrible day. The saddest part is that these people did not have to die.
Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record -- weeks
of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume
of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only
they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius' warning!
There are similar "rumblings" in our world: warfare,
earthquakes, the nuclear threat, economic woes, breakdown of the family and
moral standards. While not exactly new, these things do point to a coming Day of
Judgment. People need not be caught unprepared. God warns and provides an escape
to those who will heed the rumblings.
Act 4:1-22: Apostles at Jerusalem.
Act 5:17-42: Apostles at Jerusalem.
Act 6:11 -- 7:60: Stephen at Jerusalem.
Act 12:11: James and Peter before Herod Agrippa.
Act 16:19-40: Paul and Silas at Philippi.
Act 17:5-9: Jason and others at Thessalonica.
Act 18:12-17: Paul before Gallio at Corinth.
Act 19:29-41: Gaius and Aristarchus at Ephesus.
Act 21:27--23:11: Paul in Jerusalem.
Act 24:1-21: Paul before Felix in Caesarea.
Act 25:6-12: Paul before Festus.
Act 26:1-32: Paul before Agrippa.
Death of the apostles:
Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain
with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia.
Mark expired at Alexandria, after being
cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in
John was put in a caldron of
boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward
banished to Patmos.
Peter was crucified
at Rome with his head downward.
the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty
pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller's club.
Bartholomew was flayed alive.
Andrew was bound to a cross, whence he
preached to his persecutors until he died.
Thomas was run through the body with a
lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
Jude was shot to death with arrows.
Matthias was first stoned and then
Barnabas was stoned to death at
Paul, after various tortures
and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor
The Jewish plot: to wreck the developing ecclesias from
within: 2Pe 2:1; 1Jo 4:1; 2Co 11:26.
THE LOVE OF MOST WILL GROW COLD: "It is much easier to
sell looseness and downhillness and let's-blur-the-edges-ness and
compromise-ness, than it is to sell steadfastness and holiness and firmness of
purpose and faithfulness to exclusive Truth. It's easy to become both popular
and powerful and draw the crowds, if that is our stock in trade. But let us not
be discouraged if what we have to sell does not have the common appeal of the
broadly popular goods. The Truth of God is a narrow, exclusive,
flesh-crucifying, demanding, high-standard thing. It is not designed for the
masses, and it has never appealed to the masses, or the shallowly unthinking. It
appeals only to the thoughtful, and the wholly dedicated, and those whom the
masses call 'extremists.' The Truth is indeed a total, all-consuming,
all-demanding 'extreme' thing" (GVG).
Cp Rev 2:10; Heb 10:36,39.
TO THE WHOLE WORLD: Now, for the first time in the
world's history, there is the possibility -- due to technical advancements of
communication, travel, etc -- of the gospel truly being taken to all the
WORLD: Gr "oikoumene" = the habitable. Perhaps in the
first century, this would have been restricted to the Roman empire: the known,
or civilized world of the Middle East.
THE ABOMINATION THAT CAUSES DESOLATION: The // passage
in Luk 21:20 has: "Jerusalem being surrounded by armies"! Based on the
desecration of the temple by Antiochus Ephiphanes: see Dan 11:31, notes.
LET THOSE WHO ARE IN JUDEA FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS: To
Pella (Tes 48:25,26). Cp days of Lot (Gen 19:17). The situation in Jerusalem at
the time of Jesus is being likened to the state in Sodom. Rather like the way in
which Isaiah (Isa 1:10) speaks of the leaders in Jerusalem in his day.
"To advise anyone to flee from a city already encircled by a
besieging army sounds the height of absurdity; nevertheless this was the
instruction, which the saints of those days received from their Lord. Nor was
there any absurdity, for throughout the siege Titus, the Roman general, seems to
have been actuated by an earnest desire to keep destruction of both life and
property to a minimum -- so much so that, according to Josephus, in the early
days of the siege there were several opportunities for flight. At one time, for
example, the siege of Jerusalem was as good as raised for a period of four days,
so casual was the watch maintained by the Roman army. In another place Josephus
writes (2.20.1): After the first attack upon the city many of the most
considerable of the Jewish folk forsook it as men do a sinking ship. Eusebius,
the Christian historian, has this similar narrative: 'The whole body of the
church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine Revelation given to men
of approved piety there, before the war removed from the city, and dwelt in a
certain town beyond Jordan, called Pella; there those that believed in Christ
having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal
city itself, and the whole land of Judaea, the divine justice for their crimes
against Christ and his Apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the
whole generation of those evil-doers from the earth' (Eccl Hist 3.5)"
Do not worry about material things.
LET NO ONE ON THE ROOF... GO DOWN TO TAKE ANYTHING OUT OF
THE HOUSE: But rather descend stairs on outside of house -- ie in extreme
haste (LB 43).
IN WINTER: When the wadis would be swollen with
ON THE SABBATH: When the city gates were closed (Neh
13:17), and Jewish prejudice would be aroused.
DISTRESS, UNEQUALED FROM THE BEGINNING: "A time of
trouble such as never was" (Dan 12:1; cp Joe 2:2; Jer 30:7; Amo 8:8; Zech 14:4;
At the end of the 19th century two French writers went to
visit the well-known French scientist, Pierre Berthelot. Berthelot was a kind of
scientific prophet. He forecast some of the weapons of mass destruction which
would appear in the next century. He said to the writers, "We have only begun to
list the alphabet of destruction."
Silence fell over the meeting. Then the elder of the two
writers said quietly, "I think before that time comes, God will come like a
great gatekeeper with his keys dangling at his waist and say, 'Gentlemen, it's
closing time.' "
IF THOSE DAYS HAD NOT BEEN CUT SHORT: The civil wars of
Jewish factions inside the city shortened considerably its siege and suffering.
The city fell in only 5 months.
THE DESERT: (1) Abode of John the Baptist; (2)
Asceticism; (3) Mohammed, and Islam: the desert religion.
INNER ROOMS: "Secret chambers" (AV): (1) the Holy Place
of the Temple; (2) the "mystery" religions and cults of the first century; (3)
Roman Catholicism: the "mystery" system; (4) the "invisible presence" of the
// Mat 16:17; 2Th 1:7,8.
FROM THE EAST... IN THE WEST: That is, from Mt Olivet
to Jerusalem (Eze 43:2-4; Zech 14:4).
CARCASS: Destroyed Jerusalem, as well as a warning of
rejection at the return of Christ.
VULTURES: Roman legions.
SUN... MOON... STARS: Sym Israel in Jer 31:35,36. Or
more literal: 2Pe 3:7,10; Isa 24:18. Also see Gen 37:9,10; 15:5; 22:17; Amo
8:8-10; Mic 3:6; Song 6:10; Isa 24:23; Jer 33:20-26; Joe 2:10,30-32; Act 2:20;
Rev 6:12; 8:12; 12:1.
THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN WILL APPEAR IN THE SKY: Cp
the first sign of Christ, appearing in the heavens: the "star" or Shekinah-Glory
that led the wise men to where he lay (Mat 2:9).
Perhaps, in future, a strange day of miraculous darkness and
light: Zech 14:4,6,7; Joel 2:2; Zeph 1:14,15.
AND ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN: Or "all
the tribes of the Land": national repentance of Israel: Zech 12:10,12; Rev
THE CLOUDS: The Divine glory revealed in Israel as
cloud (Exo 13:21,22; 14:19,20,24; 16:10; 19:16-19; 20:18; 24:15-19; 33:18-21
with Exo 34:4-7; 40:34-38; Num 10:34; 12:5,10; 14:9,10,14,21,22; Deu 31:14,15;
Psa 105:39; 1Co 10:1,2). The same Shekinah glory appeared to Abraham (Gen 15:17;
Act 7:2), David (Psa 18:6-15), Ezekiel (Eze 1:4; 10:4); Elijah (1Ki 19:11-13),
Job (Job 38:1), apostles (Luk 9:34,35). Judgments of God in last days are
manifest in this cloud (Dan 7:13; Joe 2:2; Zep 1:15; Eze 30:3; Isa 19:1; 25:5).
Jesus will so come from heaven (Act 1:9,11; Luk 21:27; Mat 26:64).
A LOUD TRUMPET: Connected with the resurrection: 1Th
4:16; 1Co 15:52.
FIG TREE: Luk 21:29 has "fig tree and all the trees":
"Fig tree" = unsatisfactory covering: Gen 3. Fig sym Israel: Mar 11:13-21; Luk
13:6,7; Jer 24; Hos 9:10; Mic 7:1. "All trees": Intense national pride;
proliferation of nations in Middle East: Psalm 83 lists 10 nations -- giving
their ancient names -- which will join together in their determination to
destroy Israel as a nation in the Last Days. Likewise, recent Mideast history
has seen ten Arab nations, occupying generally the same territory as the nations
of Psa 83, gain their independence during the same generation (1922 -- 1971)
that saw the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948. There are currently, in
the area occupied by the old Roman Empire, exactly 10 such independent Arab
nations. This scenario even allows for the infamous eleventh "horn" of Dan 7,
which arises after the others and acts as a catalyst in the defeat and
persecution of Israel -- the incipient "nation" of Palestine. Not yet
independent, will this be the eleventh horn which comes up among, and after, the
1. Egypt (1922)
2. Saudi Arabia (1932)
3. Iraq (1932)
4. Lebanon (1943)
5. Syria (1946)
6. Jordan (1949)
7. Kuwait (1963)
8. Bahrain (1971)
9. Qatar (1971)
10. United Arab Emirates (1971)
11. Palestine (?)
TENDER: In ct to the previous fig tree (Mar 11:13),
cursed by Christ, this tree puts forth tender branches (the first sign of
THIS GENERATION: "This is generation of them that seek
your face" (Psa 24:6 and context). "Genera", in general, a race (NIV mg; the
Jewish race: Luk 21:28,29), but sometimes a single generation. Possibly, "this
present evil order of things", which continues until Christ returns.
NOR THE SON: Notice that Jesus had Daniel to read.
Thus, Daniel alone is not enough to predict the time of the Kingdom accurately!
"If Jesus could not use the book of Daniel to know the precise time of the end,
what hope for anyone else?" (HAW, LD 15).
Vv 37-42: Jesus is stressing the interventionist nature of his
return. With respect to the flood and the destruction of Sodom, life seemed to
be going on quite normally... UNTIL the final catastrophic intervention of
Yahweh. The same will be true at the time that Jesus returns.
EATING AND DRINKING, MARRYING AND GIVING IN MARRIAGE:
Nothing wrong with these activities in and of themselves, but only as an
obsession with materialism and self-indulgence. We do well to remember that such
activities are the mere "scaffolding" of a life, but not the life itself. They
are all destined to come to an end with the return of Christ.
AND TOOK THEM ALL AWAY: "Universal was the doom,
neither rich nor poor escaped: the learned and the illiterate, the admired and
the abhorred, the religious and the profane, the old and the young, all sank in
one common ruin. Some had doubtless ridiculed the patriarch -- where now their
merry jests? Others had threatened him for his zeal which they counted madness
-- where now their boastings and hard speeches? The critic who judged the old
man's work is drowned in the same sea which covers his sneering companions.
Those who spoke patronizingly of the good man's fidelity to his convictions, but
shared not in them, have sunk to rise no more, and the workers who for pay
helped to build the wondrous ark, are all lost also. The flood swept them all
away, and made no single exception" (CHS).
One hundred different varieties of evil and indifference and
neglect were all swept away by the waters of the flood -- unique though each
form of life was at the time, they were at last all together in a common death.
The only ones who were saved were those who actually sought places in the ark of
KEEP WATCH: Implies keeping awake and alert, like a
watchman: Mat 25:13.
IF THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE HAD KNOWN AT WHAT TIME OF NIGHT
THE THIEF WAS COMING: Christ is portrayed often -- he even portrays himself
-- as a "thief" in the New Testament, in connection with his Second Coming (Mat
24:42-44; Luk 12:39,40; 1Th 5:2,4,6; 2Pe 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15). This may seem
extraordinary, since stealing is a sin, and a "thief" therefore must be a sinner
-- and how could Christ be a sinner? (A similar question might be asked: how
could Christ compare himself to a serpent: John 3:14; Num 21:7-9? But that's
another story!) However, there is one instance when a "thief" is not committing
a crime, and that is when he is simply reclaiming (by stealth or surprise) what
is rightfully his (cp David and his men, who followed the Amalekites and
retrieved their kidnapped families and stolen goods: 1Sa 30!). And that seems to
be exactly the point in these NT instances also: Christ when he returns will be
merely taking back what is rightfully his! The true "thieves" will be seen to be
those servants who ate his bread and drank his wine and enjoyed themselves in
leisurely consuming that which belonged to their Master (see the parable in Mat
24:48-51 and Luk 12:45-47). Their mistake -- and it was a crucial one -- was in
forgetting they were mere stewards or caretakers, and instead supposing that all
their Master's properties belonged to them, and acting accordingly! So, if we
are to be sure that Christ does not come as a "thief" to us, we must not act as
"thieves" ourselves now, stealing from him what is rightfully his. We must
remember that all we possess really belongs to the One who is our true Lord and
Master; that we merely hold it all in trust, to be used to serve him.
FAITHFUL: Like the servants who were faithful in Mat
WISE: Like the wise virgins in Mat 25:2.
GIVE THEM FOOD: Like the brethren in Mat 25:36. Ref not
just to ecclesial leaders, but to all brothers and sisters: Mat 20:27; John
DOING SO: Not by happenstance, but because it is the
fixed object and routine of his life.
TO BEAT HIS FELLOW SERVANTS: They do not serve God
truly, and abuse those who attempt to do so.
EAT AND DRINK WITH DRUNKARDS: Enjoying the worst
fellowship of the world.
HE WILL CUT HIM TO PIECES: "And shall cut him asunder"
(AV): The Greek is "dikotomesi" (cp Engl "dichotomy") lit to cut in two. The
"Lord" upon his return will, by the "sword" of his judgment, separate the real
man from the actor, revealing him for a hypocrite. Or, possibly, cutting in two,
as is done with the covenant-victim -- to make him a sacrifice! See Lesson,
WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH: Mat 8:12; 13:42,50;
22:13; 24:51; 25:30.