Chapters 24 and 25 are known as the Olivet discourse (Verse 3 – “As he sat on the Mount of Olives…”); and chapter 24 is the source of much discussion and confusion. The disciples were impressed with the buildings of the temple, and pointed them out to Jesus. But He tells them in verse 2 that “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Now the total destruction of this temple was such a dramatic thing to envision, that the only thing they could think of to associate it with was the end of the world. So their question to Jesus was when all of these things would happen.
The key to understanding this chapter (as is the case with all scripture) is to first examine the context, and then apply what follows using your God-given logic. In chapter 23, Jesus had just delivered a very vocal rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees in the temple, calling them the “sons of those who murdered the prophets,” and saying “you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” He finishes up in verses 37-38 with His broken-hear-ted lament for the coming fate of Jerusalem:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.”
In verses 4-35 of chapter 24, Jesus tells them privately of the fate that awaits Jerusalem, as well as what will become of them (they will be persecuted and put to death). he even tells them of things that will happen before that Roman army does its work in AD 70 – many examples of which Josephus and other historians confirm. If these verses were speaking of the end of the world rather than the destruction of Jerusalem, it would not matter if it was in the winter (verse 20) – much less, what day it was! In verse 34, He tells them that all of these things will happen during their generation. It is not until verse 36 that Jesus begins speaking of the final judgment – “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” The apocalyptic language throughout the chapter is what makes it difficult to separate. But such imagery when the scripture prophesies destruction is common (see Isaiah 13:10-13 and Ezekiel 32:7-8, for example). It is helpful to relate the chapter to Luke’s account in chapter 21, particularly as Matthew 24:15-16 relate to Luke 21:20-21.
For an excellent in-depth analysis, please refer to the article in this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com. For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.