Matthew Chapter Twenty-four
We have already seen that the rejection of the testimony to the kingdom in grace, is the cause of the judgment that falls upon Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Now in chapter 24 we have the position of this testimony in the midst of the people; the condition of the Gentiles, and the relation in which they stood to the testimony rendered by the disciples; after this, the condition of Jerusalem, consequent upon her rejection of the Messiah, and her contempt for the testimony; and then the universal overthrow at the end of those days: a state of things which should be ended by the appearance of the Son of man, and the gathering together of the elect of Israel from the four winds.
We must examine this remarkable passage, at once a prophecy, and instruction to the disciples for their direction in the path they must follow amid the coming events.
Jesus departs from the temple, and that for ever-a solemn act, which, we may say, executed the judgment He had just pronounced. The house was now desolate. The hearts of the disciples were still bound to it by their former prepossessions. They draw His attention to the magnificent buildings that composed it. Jesus announces to them its entire destruction. Seated apart with Him on the Mount of Olives, the disciples inquire when these things were to happen, and what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age. They class together the destruction of the temple, the coming of Christ, and the end of the age. We must observe, that here the end of the age is the end of the period during which Israel was subject to the law under the old covenant: a period which was to cease, giving place to the Messiah and to the new covenant. Observe also that God's government of the earth is the subject, and the judgments that should take place at Christ's coming, which would put an end to the existing age. The disciples confounded that which the Lord had said of the destruction of the temple with this period.  The Lord treats the subject from His own point of view (that is to say, with regard to the testimony which the disciples were to render in connection with the Jews during His absence and to the end of the age). He adds nothing as to the destruction of Jerusalem, which He had already announced. The time of His coming was purposely hidden. Moreover the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus put an end, in fact, to the position which the Lord's instructions had in view. There was no longer any cognizable testimony among the Jews. When this position shall be resumed, the applicability of the passage will also recommence. After the destruction of Jerusalem until that time the church only is in question.
The Lord's discourse is divided into three parts:- 1. The general condition of the disciples and of the world during the time of the testimony, to the end of verse 14; 2. The period marked out by the fact that the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place (v. 15); 3. The Lord's coming and the gathering together of the elect in Israel (v. 29).
The time of the disciples' testimony is characterised by false Christs and false prophets among the Jews; persecution of those who render testimony, betraying them to the Gentiles. But there is yet something more definite with regard to those days. There would be falseChrists in Israel. There would be wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes. They were not to be troubled: the end would not be yet. These things were only a beginning of sorrows. They were principally outward things. There were other events which would bring them into greater trial, and test them more thoroughly-things more from within. The disciples should be delivered up, put to death, hated of all nations. The consequence of this among those who made profession would be that many would be offended; they would betray one another. False prophets would arise and deceive many, and, because iniquity abounded, the love of many should wax cold-a sorrowful picture. But these things would give occasion for the exercise of a faith that had been put to the proof. He who endured to the end should be saved. This concerns the sphere of testimony in particular. That which the Lord says is not absolutely limited to the testimony in Canaan; but as it is from thence the testimony goes forth, it is all connected with that land as the centre of God's ways. But, in addition to this, the gospel of the kingdom should be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then should the end come-the end of this age. Now, although heaven is the source of authority when the kingdom shall be established, Canaan and Jerusalem are its earthly centre. So that the idea of the kingdom, while extending throughout the world, turns our thoughts to the land of Israel. It is "this gospel of the kingdom"  which is here spoken of; it is not the proclamation of the union of the church with Christ, nor redemption in its fulness, as preached and taught by the apostles after the ascension, but the kingdom which was to be established on the earth, as John the Baptist, and as the Lord Himself, had proclaimed. The establishment of the universal authority of the ascended Christ should be preached in all the world to test their obedience, and to furnish those who had ears to hear with the object of faith.
This is the general history of that which would take place until the end of the age, without entering on the subject of the proclamation which founded the assembly properly so called. The impending destruction of Jerusalem, and the refusal of the Jews to receive the gospel, caused God to raise up a special testimony by the hands of Paul, without annulling the truth of the coming kingdom. That which follows proves that such a going forth of testimony of the kingdom will take place at the end, and that the testimony will reach all nations before the coming of that judgment which will put an end to the age.
But there will be a moment when, within a certain sphere (that is, in Jerusalem and its vicinity) a special time of suffering shall set in as regards the testimony in Israel. In speaking of the abomination that maketh desolate, the Lord refers us to Daniel, that we may understand whereof He speaks. Now Daniel (chap. 12, where this tribulation is spoken of) brings us definitely to the last days-the time when Michael shall stand up for Daniel's people, that is, the Jews, who are under the domination of the Gentiles-the days in which there shall be a time of trouble, such as never had been nor ever again should be, and in which the remnant should be delivered. In the latter part of the previous chapter of that prophet, this time is called "the time of the end," and the destruction of the king of the north is prophetically declared. Now the prophet announces that 1335 days before the full blessing (blessed is he that has part therein!) the daily sacrifice should be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up; that from this moment there should be 1290 days (that is, one month more than the 1260 days spoken of in the Apocalypse, during which the woman who flees from the serpent is nourished in the wilderness; and also than the three years and a half of Daniel 7). At the end, as we find here, the judgment comes and the kingdom is given to the saints.
Thus it is proved that this passage refers to the last days and to the position of the Jews at that time. The events of the time past since the Lord uttered it confirm this thought. Neither in 1260 days, nor in 1260 years, after the days of Titus, nor in 30 days or years after, did any event take place which could be the accomplishment of these days in Daniel. The periods are gone by many years ago. Israel has not been delivered, neither has Daniel stood in his lot at the end of those days. It is equally plain that Jerusalem is in question in the passage, and its vicinity, for they that are in Judea are commanded to flee into the mountains. The disciples who shall be there at that time are to pray that their flight may not be on a sabbath day-an additional testimony that it is Jews who are the subject of the prophecy; but a testimony also of the tender care which the Lord takes of those who are His, thinking even in the midst of these unparalleled events, of whether it would be wintry weather at the time of their flight.
Besides this, other circumstances prove, if further proof were needed, that it is the Jewish remnant who are in question, and not the assembly. We know that all believers are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. They will afterwards return with Him. But here there will be false Christs on the earth, and people will say, "He is here in the wilderness," "He is there in the secret chambers." But the saints who shall be caught up and return with the Lord have nothing at all to do with false Christs on earth, since they will go up to heaven to be with Him there, before He returns to the earth; while it is easy to understand that the Jews, who are expecting earthly deliverance, should be liable to such temptations, and that they should be deceived by them unless kept by God Himself.
This part then of the prophecy applies to the last days, the last three years and a half before the judgment which will be suddenly poured out at the coming of the Son of man. The Lord will come suddenly as a flash of lightning, as an eagle to its prey, unto the spot where the object of His judgment is found. Immediately after the tribulation of those last three years and a half, the whole hierarchical system of government shall be shaken and utterly overthrown. Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. This verse (30) contains the answer to the second part of the disciples' inquiry in verse 3. The Lord gives His disciples the warnings necessary for their guidance; but the world would see no signs, however plain they might be to those that understand. But this sign should be at the moment of the Lord's appearing. The brightness of His glory whom they had despised would shew them who it was that came; and it would be unexpected. What a terrible moment, when, instead of a Messiah who should answer to their worldly pride, the Christ whom they had despised shall appear in the heavens!
Afterwards the Son of man, thus come and manifested, would send to gather all the elect of Israel from the four corners of the earth. It is this which ends the history of the Jews, and even that of Israel, in answer to the disciples' question, and unfolds the dealings of God with respect to the testimony among the people who had rejected it, announcing the time of their deep distress, and the judgment that shall be poured out in the midst of this scene when Jesus comes, the subversion of all powers great and small being complete.
The Lord gives the history of the testimony in Israel, and that of the people themselves, from the moment of His departure until His return; but the length of time, during which there should be neither people nor temple nor city, is not specified. It is this which gives importance to the capture of Jerusalem. It is not here spoken of in direct terms-the Lord does not describe it; but it put an end to that order of things to which His discourse applies, and this application is not resumed until Jerusalem and the Jews are again brought forward. The Lord announced it at the beginning. The disciples thought that His coming would take place at the same time. He answers them in such a manner that His discourse should be of use to them until the capture of Jerusalem. But when once the abomination of desolation is mentioned, we find ourselves carried on into the last days.
The disciples were to understand the signs He gave them. I have already said that the destruction of Jerusalem, by the fact itself, interrupted the application of His discourse. The Jewish nation was set aside; but verse 34 has a much wider sense, and one more really proper to it. Unbelieving Jews should exist, as such, until all was accomplished. Compare Deuteronomy 32:5, 20, where this judgment on Israel is specially in view. God hides His face from them until He shall see what their end will be, for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. This has taken place. They are a distinct race of people unto this day. That generation exists in the same condition-a monument of the abiding certainty of God's dealings, and of the Lord's words.
To conclude, the government of God, exercised with regard to this people, has been traced to its end. The Lord comes, and He gathers together the dispersed elect of Israel. The prophetic history continues in chapter 25:31, which is connected with chapter 24:30. And as chapter 24:31 relates the gathering together of Israel after the appearance of the Son of man, chapter 25:31 announces His dealings in judgment with the Gentiles. He will appear doubtless as the lightning with regard to the apostasy, which will be as a dead body in His sight. But when He shall come solemnly to take His earthly place in glory, that will not pass away like lightning. He shall sit upon the throne of His glory, and all nations shall be gathered before Him on His throne of judgment, and they shall be judged according to their treatment of the messengers of the kingdom, who had gone out to preach it unto them. These messengers are the brethren (v. 40); those who had received them are the sheep; those who had neglected their message are the goats. The account then which begins chapter 25:31, of the separation of sheep and goats and of its result, pictures the nations who are judged on earth according to their treatment of these messengers. It is the judgment of the living, so far at least as regards the nations-a judgment as final as that of the dead. It is not Christ's judgment in battle as in Revelation 19. It is a session of His supreme tribunal in His right of government over the earth, as in Revelation 20:4 I speak of the principle or rather of the character of the judgment. I do not doubt that these brethren are Jews, such as the disciples were, that is to say, those who will be in a similar position as to their testimony. The Gentiles, who had received this message, should be accepted, as though they had treated Christ in the same manner. His Father had prepared for them the enjoyment of the kingdom; and they should enter into it, being still on earth, for Christ was come down in the power of eternal life. 
I have, for the moment, passed over all between chapter 24:31 and chapter 25:31, because the end of this last chapter completes all that concerns the government and the judgment of the earth. But there is a class of persons whose history is given us in its great moral features intermediately between these two verses I have just mentioned.
These are the disciples of Christ, outside the testimony borne in the midst of Israel, to whom He has committed His service, and a position in connection with Himself, during His absence. This position and this service are in connection with Christ Himself, and not in connection with Israel, wherever it may be that this service is accomplished.
There are however, before we come to these, some verses of which I have not yet spoken, which apply more particularly to the state of things in Israel, as warning to the disciples who are there, and describe the discriminating judgment which takes place among the Jews in the last days. I speak of them here, because all this part of the discourse-namely, from chapter 24:31 to chapter 25:31-is an exhortation, an address from the Lord, on the subject of their duties during His absence. I refer to chapter 24:32-44. They speak of the continual expectation which their ignorance of the moment when the Son of man would come imposed on the disciples, and in which the disciples were intentionally left (and the judgment is the earthly one); while from verse 45, the Lord addresses Himself more directly, and at the same time in a more general manner, to their conduct during His absence, not in connection with Israel, but with His own-His household. He had committed to them the task of supplying them with suitable food in due season. This is the responsibility of ministry in the assembly.
It is important to remark that in the first parable the state of the assembly is looked at as a whole; the parable of the virgins and that of the talents give individual responsibility. Hence the servant who is unfaithful is cut off and has his portion with hypocrites. The state of the responsible assembly depended on their waiting for Christ, or their heart saying He delays His coming. It would be on His return that judgment should be pronounced on their faithfulness during the interval Faithfulness should be approved in that day. On the other hand, practical forgetfulness of His coming would lead to licence and tyranny. It is not an intellectual system that is meant here: "the evil servant says in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming"; his will was concerned in it. The result was that the fleshly will manifested itself. It was no longer devoted service to His household, with a heart set upon the Master's approval at His return; but worldliness in conduct, and the assumption of arbitrary authority, to which the service appointed him gave occasion. He eats and drinks with the drunken, he unites himself to the world and partakes in its ways; he smites his fellow-servants at his will. Such is the effect of putting off during His absence, deliberately in heart, the Lord's return and holding the assembly to be settled down here; instead of faithful service, worldly-mindedness and tyranny. Is it not too true a picture?
What is it that has happened to those who had the place of service in the house of God? The consequences on either hand are these: the faithful servant, who from love and devotion to his Master applied himself to the welfare of His household, should be made ruler on his Master's return over all His goods; those who have been faithful in the service of the house shall be set over all things by the Lord, when He takes His place of power and acts as King. All things are given into the hands of Jesus by the Father. Those who in humility have been faithful to His service during His absence shall be made rulers over all that is committed to Him, that is, over all things-they are but the "goods" of Jesus. On the other hand, he who during the Lord's absence had set himself up as master, and followed after the spirit of the flesh and of the world to which he had united himself, should not merely have the world's portion: his Master should come quite unexpectedly, and he should receive the punishment of hypocrites. What a lesson for those who take to themselves a place of service in the assembly! Observe here, that it is not said he is drunken himself, but that he eats and drinks with those that are so. He allies himself with the world and follows its customs. This moreover is the general aspect which the kingdom will assume in that day, although the heart of the evil servant was wicked. The Bridegroom would indeed tarry; and the consequences that might be expected from the heart of man will not fail to be realised. But the effect, we then find, is to make manifest those who had  really the grace of Christ and those who had not.
 In fact, this position of Israel, and the testimony connected with it, were interrupted by the destruction of Jerusalem; and this is the reason why that event presents itself to the mind in connection with this prophecy, of which it is certainly not the fulfilment. The Lord is not yet come, neither the great tribulation; but the state of things to which the Lord alludes, to the end of verse 14, was violently and judicially interrupted, by the destruction of Jerusalem, so that in this point of view there is a connection.
 The gospel of the kingdom was confined to Israel in chapter 10 and here this, though no subject of the teaching, is the subject supposed up to verse 14, but there is no formal distinction made: the mission in chapter 28 is to the Gentiles; but then there is nothing of the kingdom but rather the contrary, though Christ be only risen, but all power given to Him in heaven and earth.
 There is no possible ground for applying this parable to what is called the general judgment, an expression indeed wholly unscriptural. First, there are three parties, not merely two-goats, sheep, and brethren; then, it is the judgment of the Gentiles only; and, further, the ground of judgment is wholly inapplicable to the great mass even of these last. The ground of judgment is the way these brethren have been received. Now none have been sent at all to the vast majority of the Gentiles in long ages. The time of this ignorance God winked at, and another ground of judgment as to them is given in the beginning of Romans. Christians and Jews have been already treated of in chapter 24 and the previous part of chapter 25. It is just those whom the Lord finds on earth when He comes, and who will be judged according to their treatment of the messengers He has sent.
 How solemn the testimony given here to the effect of the assembly's losing the present expectation of the Lord's return! What causes the professing church to run into hierarchical oppression and worldliness, so as to be cut off in the end as hypocrites, is saying in the heart, My lord delayeth his coming-giving up the present expectation. That has been the source of the ruin. The true christian position was lost as soon as they began to put off the Lord's coming; and they are treated, note, though in this state, as the responsible servant.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Matthew》
Christ foretells the destruction of the temple. (1-3) The troubles before the destruction of Jerusalem. (4-28) Christ foretells other signs and miseries, to the end of the world. (29-41) Exhortations to watchfulness. (42-51)
Commentary on Matthew 24:1-3
(Read Matthew 24:1-3)
Christ foretells the utter ruin and destruction coming upon the temple. A believing foresight of the defacing of all worldly glory, will help to keep us from admiring it, and overvaluing it. The most beautiful body soon will be food for worms, and the most magnificent building a ruinous heap. See ye not all these things? It will do us good so to see them as to see through them, and see to the end of them. Our Lord having gone with his disciples to the Mount of Olives, he set before them the order of the times concerning the Jews, till the destruction of Jerusalem; and as to men in general till the end of the world.
Commentary on Matthew 24:4-28
(Read Matthew 24:4-28)
The disciples had asked concerning the times, When these things should be? Christ gave them no answer to that; but they had also asked, What shall be the sign? This question he answers fully. The prophecy first respects events near at hand, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish church and state, the calling of the Gentiles, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world; but it also looks to the general judgment; and toward the close, points more particularly to the latter. What Christ here said to his disciples, tended more to promote caution than to satisfy their curiosity; more to prepare them for the events that should happen, than to give a distinct idea of the events. This is that good understanding of the times which all should covet, thence to infer what Israel ought to do. Our Saviour cautions his disciples to stand on their guard against false teachers. And he foretells wars and great commotions among nations. From the time that the Jews rejected Christ, and he left their house desolate, the sword never departed from them. See what comes of refusing the gospel. Those who will not hear the messengers of peace, shall be made to hear the messengers of war. But where the heart is fixed, trusting in God, it is kept in peace, and is not afraid. It is against the mind of Christ, that his people should have troubled hearts, even in troublous times. When we looked forward to the eternity of misery that is before the obstinate refusers of Christ and his gospel, we may truly say, The greatest earthly judgments are but the beginning of sorrows. It is comforting that some shall endure even to the end. Our Lord foretells the preaching of the gospel in all the world. The end of the world shall not be till the gospel has done its work. Christ foretells the ruin coming upon the people of the Jews; and what he said here, would be of use to his disciples, for their conduct and for their comfort. If God opens a door of escape, we ought to make our escape, otherwise we do not trust God, but tempt him. It becomes Christ's disciples, in times of public trouble, to be much in prayer: that is never out of season, but in a special manner seasonable when we are distressed on every side. Though we must take what God sends, yet we may pray against sufferings; and it is very trying to a good man, to be taken by any work of necessity from the solemn service and worship of God on the sabbath day. But here is one word of comfort, that for the elect's sake these days shall be made shorter than their enemies designed, who would have cut all off, if God, who used these foes to serve his own purpose, had not set bounds to their wrath. Christ foretells the rapid spreading of the gospel in the world. It is plainly seen as the lightning. Christ preached his gospel openly. The Romans were like an eagle, and the ensign of their armies was an eagle. When a people, by their sin, make themselves as loathsome carcasses, nothing can be expected but that God should send enemies to destroy them. It is very applicable to the day of judgment, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in that day, 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; then may we know that no enemy or deceiver shall ever prevail against us.
Commentary on Matthew 24:29-41
(Read Matthew 24:29-41)
Christ foretells his second coming. It is usual for prophets to speak of things as near and just at hand, to express the greatness and certainty of them. Concerning Christ's second coming, it is foretold that there shall be a great change, in order to the making all things new. Then they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds. At his first coming, he was set for a sign that should be spoken against, but at his second coming, a sign that should be admired. Sooner or later, all sinners will be mourners; but repenting sinners look to Christ, and mourn after a godly sort; and those who sow in those tears shall shortly reap in joy. Impenitent sinners shall see Him whom they have pierced, and, though they laugh now, shall mourn and weep in endless horror and despair. The elect of God are scattered abroad; there are some in all places, and all nations; but when that great gathering day comes, there shall not one of them be missing. Distance of place shall keep none out of heaven. Our Lord declares that the Jews should never cease to be a distinct people, until all things he had been predicting were fulfilled. His prophecy reaches to the day of final judgment; therefore he here, ver. 34, foretells that Judah shall never cease to exist as a distinct people, so long as this world shall endure. Men of the world scheme and plan for generation upon generation here, but they plan not with reference to the overwhelming, approaching, and most certain event of Christ's second coming, which shall do away every human scheme, and set aside for ever all that God forbids. That will be as surprising a day, as the deluge to the old world. Apply this, first, to temporal judgments, particularly that which was then hastening upon the nation and people of the Jews. Secondly, to the eternal judgment. Christ here shows the state of the old world when the deluge came. They were secure and careless; they knew not, until the flood came; and they believed not. Did we know aright that all earthly things must shortly pass away, we should not set our eyes and hearts so much upon them as we do. The evil day is not the further off for men's putting it far from them. What words can more strongly describe the suddenness of our Saviour's coming! Men will be at their respective businesses, and suddenly the Lord of glory will appear. Women will be in their house employments, but in that moment every other work will be laid aside, and every heart will turn inward and say, It is the Lord! Am I prepared to meet him? Can I stand before him? And what, in fact, is the day of judgment to the whole world, but the day of death to every one?
Commentary on Matthew 24:42-51
(Read Matthew 24:42-51)
To watch for Christ's coming, is to maintain that temper of mind which we would be willing that our Lord should find us in. We know we have but a little time to live, we cannot know that we have a long time to live; much less do we know the time fixed for the judgment. Our Lord's coming will be happy to those that shall be found ready, but very dreadful to those that are not. If a man, professing to be the servant of Christ, be an unbeliever, covetous, ambitious, or a lover of pleasure, he will be cut off. Those who choose the world for their portion in this life, will have hell for their portion in the other life. May our Lord, when he cometh, pronounce us blessed, and present us to the Father, washed in his blood, purified by his Spirit, and fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Matthew》
 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
There shall not he left one stone upon another — This was most punctually fulfilled; for after the temple was burnt, Titus, the Roman general, ordered the very foundations of it to be dug up; after which the ground on which it stood was ploughed up by Turnus Rufus. 3.
As he sat on the mount of Olives — Whence they had a full view of the temple. When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? - The disciples inquire confusedly, 1. Concerning the time of the destruction of the temple; 2. Concerning the signs of Christ's coming, and of the end of the world, as if they imagined these two were the same thing. Our Lord answers distinctly concerning, 1. The destruction of the temple and city, with the signs preceding, verse 4, etc., 15, etc. Matthew 24:4,15. 2. His own coming, and the end of the world, with the signs thereof, verse 29-31. Matthew 24:29-31. 3. The time of the destruction of the temple, verse 32, etc. Matthew 24:32. 4. The time of the end of the world, verse 36. Matthew 24:36.
 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Take heed that no man deceive you — The caution is more particularly designed for the succeeding Christians, whom the apostles then represented. The first sign of my coming is, the rise of false prophets. But it is highly probable, many of these things refer to more important events, which are yet to come.
 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Many shall come in my name — First, false Christs, next, false prophets, Matthew 24:11. At length, both together, Matthew 24:24. And indeed never did so many impostors appear in the world as a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem; undoubtedly because that was the time wherein the Jews in general expected the Messiah.
 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Wars — Near: Rumours of wars - At a distance.
All these things must come to pass — As a foundation for lasting tranquillity.
But the end — Concerning which ye inquire, is not yet - So far from it, that this is but the beginning sorrows.
 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
Then shall they deliver you up to affliction — As if ye were the cause of all these evils.
And ye shall he hated of all nations — Even of those who tolerate all other sects and parties; but in no nation will the children of the devil tolerate the children of God. Matthew 10:17.
 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Then shall many he offended — So as utterly to make shipwreck of faith and a pure conscience. But hold ye fast faith, Matthew 24:11. in spite of false prophets: love, even when iniquity and offences abound, Matthew 24:12. And hope, unto the end, Matthew 24:13. He that does so, shall be snatched out of the burning.
The love of many will wax cold — The generality of those who love God will (like the Church at Ephesus, Revelation 2:4,) leave their first love.
 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
This Gospel shall he preached in all the world — Not universally: this is not done yet: but in general through the several parts of the world, and not only in Judea And this was done by St. Paul and the other apostles, before Jerusalem was destroyed.
And then shall the end come — Of the city and temple. Josephus's History of the Jewish War is the best commentary on this chapter. it is a wonderful instance of God's providence, that he, an eye witness, and one who lived and died a Jew, should, especially in so extraordinary a manner, be preserved, to transmit to us a collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this glorious prophecy, in almost every circumstance. Mark 13:10.
 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
When ye see the abomination of desolation — Daniel's term is, The abomination that maketh desolate, Daniel 11:31; that is, the standards of the desolating legions, on which they bear the abominable images of their idols: Standing in the holy place - Not only the temple and the mountain on which it stood, but the whole city of Jerusalem, and several furlongs of land round about it, were accounted holy; particularly the mount on which our Lord now sat, and on which the Romans afterward planted their ensigns.
 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Then let them who are in Judea flee to the mountains — So the Christians did, and were preserved. It is remarkable that after the Romans under Cestus Gallus made their first advances toward Jerusalem, they suddenly withdrew again, in a most unexpected and indeed impolitic manner. This the Christians took as a signal to retire, which they did, some to Pella, and others to Mount Libanus.
 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
Let not him that is on the house top come down to take any thing out of his house — It may be remembered that their stairs used to be on the outside of their houses.
 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
Wo to them that are with child, and to them that give suck — Because they cannot so readily make their escape.
 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter — They did so; and their flight was in the spring.
Neither on the Sabbath — Being on many accounts inconvenient; beside that many would have scrupled to travel far on that day. For the Jews thought it unlawful to walk above two thousand paces (two miles) on the Sabbath day.
 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
And unless those days were shortened — By the taking of Jerusalem sooner than could be expected: No flesh would be saved - The whole nation would be destroyed.
But for the elect's sake — That is, for the sake of the Christians.
 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
They would deceive, if possible, the very elect — But it is not possible that God should suffer the body of Christians to be thus deceived.
 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as the lightning goeth forth — For the next coming of Christ will he as quick as lightning; so that there will not be time for any such previous warning.
 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles he gathered together — Our Lord gives this, as a farther reason, why they should not hearken to any pretended deliverer. As if he had said, Expect not any deliverer of the Jewish nation; for it is devoted to destruction. It is already before God a dead carcass, which the Roman eagles will soon devour. Luke 17:37.
 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days — Here our Lord begins to speak of his last coming. But he speaks not so much in the language of man as of God, with whom a thousand years are as one day, one moment. Many of the primitive Christians not observing this, thought he would come immediately, in the common sense of the word: a mistake which St. Paul labours to remove, in his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.
 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven — It seems a little before he himself descends. The sun, moon, and stars being extinguished, (probably not those of our system only,) the sign of the Son of man (perhaps the cross) will appear in the glory of the Lord.
 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
They shall gather together his elect — That is, all that have endured to the end in the faith which worketh by love.
 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
Learn a parable — Our Lord having spoke of the signs preceding the two grand events, concerning which the apostles had inquired, begins here to speak of the time of them. And to the question proposed, Matthew 24:3, concerning the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, he answers Matthew 24:34. Concerning the time of the end of the world, he answers Matthew 24:36. Mark 13:28; Luke 21:29.
 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
This generation of men now living shall not pass till all these things be done - The expression implies, that great part of that generation would be passed away, but not the whole. Just so it was. For the city and temple were destroyed thirty-nine or forty years after.
 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
But of that day — The day of judgment; Knoweth no man - Not while our Lord was on earth. Yet it might be afterward revealed to St. John consistently with this.
 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
One is taken — Into God's immediate protection: and one is left - To share the common calamities. Our Lord speaks as having the whole transaction present before his eyes.
 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding — Which was then a common employment of women.
 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
Who then is the faithful and wise servant — Which of you aspires after this character? Wise - Every moment retaining the clearest conviction, that all he now has is only intrusted to him as a steward: Faithful - Thinking, speaking, and acting continually, in a manner suitable to that conviction.
 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
But if that evil servant — Now evil, having put away faith and a good conscience.
 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And allot him his portion with the hypocrites — The worst of sinners, as upright and sincere as he was once. If ministers are the persons here primarily intended, there is a peculiar propriety in the expression. For no hypocrisy can be baser, than to call ourselves ministers of Christ, while we are the slaves of avarice, ambition, or sensuality. Wherever such are found, may God reform them by his grace, or disarm them of that power and influence, which they continually abuse to his dishonour, and to their own aggravated damnation!
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Matthew》
Chapter 24. Prophesy of Distress
The Other Left
I. Foretell the Ruin of the Temple
II. Signs of the End of the Age
III. Be Alert and Get Ready to Be Taken
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
The Olivet Discourse - I (24:1-28)
1. A challenging passage in the Bible is Jesus' discourse on the Mount
a. Given shortly after He left the temple with His disciples
b. Recorded in Mt 24:1-51; Mk 13:1-37; Lk 21:5-36
c. Commonly referred to as "The Olivet Discourse"
-- Our focus will be primarily on Matthew's account - Mt 24:1-51
2. It's difficulty is apparent as one considers the diversity of
a. Some maintain that it is entirely about events preceding the
Lord's second coming
b. Others say that it is entirely about events related to the
which occurred in Jerusalem 70 A.D.
c. Yet many believe it contains reference to both of these events
3. Even those who say it refers to both events differ as to when a
particular event is being described in Matthew's account...
a. Some say that verses 4-28 refer to the destruction of
and verse 29 begins the discussion about the Lord's second coming
(cf. J. W. McGarvey, The Four-Fold Gospel)
b. Others contend that verse 35 begins talking about the second
c. Others say Jesus switches back and forth throughout the discourse
4. I have trouble with Mt 24 describing both events in the light of
a. Where Jesus is talking about "one of the days of the Son of Man"
- Lk 17:22-37
1) Note: He alludes to the fact there is more than one "day of
the Son of Man"
2) I.e., the Lord will come in judgment in ways prior to His
final coming at the Last Day
b. In the discourse of Lk 17, Jesus uses language similar to Mt 24,
but in ways that do not allow for a simple division of Mt 24,
either at verse 29 or 35; notice...
1) Lk 17:26-29 is parallel to Mt 24:37-39 (found after verses
2) Yet Lk 17:31 is parallel to Mt 24:17-18 (found before verses
3) And then Lk 17:34-36 is parallel to Mt 24:40-41 (found after
-- If Jesus is describing just one event in Lk 17 (which I believe
He is), then He is likely describing just one event in Mt 24
[At this time, I view "The Olivet Discourse" in Mt 24 as depicting the
which occurred in Jerusalem 70 A.D., though it certainly
foreshadows His second coming. To see why, let's start with...]
I. THE SETTING OF THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
A. THE WORDS OF JESUS IN THE
1. His parables depicting
's rejection of Him, and its Israel
a. The parable of the two sons - Mt 21:28-32 (cf. v.31-32)
b. The parable of the wicked vine dressers - Mt 21:33-46 (cf.
c. The parable of the wedding feast - Mt 22:1-14 (cf. v.7-9)
2. His condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees
a. Who would fill up the measure of their fathers' guilt - Mt
b. Who kill, crucify, scourge, and persecute the prophets,
wise men, and scribes He would send to them - Mt 23:33-34
c. Upon whom the blood of all the righteous would come, upon
that very generation - Mt 23:35-36
3. His lamentation over
a. The city who kills the prophets and stones those sent to
her - Mt 23:
b. The city unwilling to accept the love shown her - Mt 23:37b
c. Whose house would be left desolate - Mt 23:38-39
B. THE PROPHECY OF JESUS ABOUT THE
1. After his disciples were showing Him the buildings of temple
- Mt 24:1
2. Declaring that not one stone would be left upon another - Mt
C. THE QUESTIONS OF THE DISCIPLES...
1. In Mark's gospel, two questions are asked - Mk 13:4
a. "When will these things be?"
b. "What will be the sign when all these things will be
2. In Luke's gospel, the two questions are similar - Lk 21:7
a. "When will these things be?"
b. "What sign will there be when these things are about to
3. In Matthew's gospel, the second question is worded differently
- Mt 24:3
a. "When will these things be?"
b. "What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of
4. Observations regarding these questions:
a. Matthew wrote his gospel for a Jewish audience
1) He likely recorded the questions as asked by the
disciples, who presumed the destruction of temple would
mean His coming and the end of the age
2) Jewish readers of the gospel would likely have the same
b. Mark and Luke wrote their gospels to Gentiles
1) To avoid possible misunderstanding by non-Jewish
readers, they worded the disciples' questions to reflect
what the discourse is actually about
2) I.e., the destruction of the temple and the sign when
its destruction would be imminent
[When the setting leading up to "The Olivet Discourse" is carefully
considered, the subject of Jesus' words become clear. The destruction
of the temple is the matter under consideration, not the second coming
of Christ. Now let's proceed to examine more closely...]
II. THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
A. WHAT WILL "NOT" BE THE SIGN...
1. Be careful that none deceive you, claiming to be the Christ
- Mt 24:4-5
2. Don't be troubled by wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence
- Mt 24:6-8
a. Such things will come, but the end (destruction of the
temple) is not yet
b. They are only the beginning of sorrows (not the sign of the
3. Anticipate persecution and hard times - Mt 24:9-13
a. You will be killed and hated for His name's sake
b. Many will be offended, betray one another, and hate one
c. False prophets will deceive many
d. The love of many will grow cold because of lawlessness
e. But he who endures to "the end" will be saved -- "the end"
1) Not to the second coming (implying one must live until
Christ comes again)
2) Nor to the destruction of
(implying once one Jerusalem
has survived that event, one's salvation is secured)
3) But to the end of one's life - cf. Re 2:10
4. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world
- Mt 24:14
a. As a witness to all the nations
b. Then the end (the destruction of the temple) will come
1) This would end the Jewish sacrifices, and other remnants
of OT worship
2) That which was nailed to the cross, abolished by Jesus'
death, would pass away - cf. Co 2:14-17; Ep 2:14-16; He
-- Was the gospel preached to all nations prior to the
destruction of the temple? Note what Paul wrote prior to
70 A.D. - Ro 10:16-18; Co 1:23
B. WHAT WILL BE THE SIGN...
1. The "abomination of desolation" - Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14
a. Standing in the holy place (the holy city
b. As foretold by Daniel - cf. Dan 9:26-27
2. When you see
surrounded by armies - Lk 21:20 Jerusalem
a. Luke therefore explains the "abomination of desolation"
70 A.D., Roman armies surrounded and besieged Jerusalem
prior to destroying it and the temple
-- Thus Jesus answers the disciples' question: "What sign will
there be when these things are about to take place?"
C. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SEE THE SIGN...
1. Those in
Judeaare to flee to the mountains - Mt 24:16-22
a. Don't delay by going to your homes and getting your clothes
b. It will be a difficult time for pregnant and nursing
c. Pray that your flight be not in winter (when travel is
difficult) or on the Sabbath (when city gates are closed to
d. For there will be "great tribulation", though shortened for
the elect's sake
1) Luke specifies the nature of this tribulation - Lk 21:
2) A Jewish general taking captive by the Romans just prior
to the destruction of
in A.D. 70 offered this Jerusalem
a) All the calamities which had befallen any nation from
the beginning of the world were but small in
comparison with those of the Jews
b) In the siege of
, no fewer than 1,100,000 Jerusalem
perished (it was during the time of the Passover,
when more than 3,000,000 Jews were assembled)
c) In surrounding provinces 250,000 were slain
d) 97,000 were taken captive, some killed by beasts in
Roman theaters, some sent to work in
, others Egypt
sold as slaves
-- Flavius Josephus, Jewish Wars (as quoted in Barnes
Commentary on Matthew)
3) The "elect" were Christians, spared by a shortened siege
a) The Jews in the city engaged the Romans in battle
b) Titus, the Roman general, being called to return to
, proceeded to end the siege and stormed the city Rome
2. Don't be misled by false christs and false prophets - Mt 24:
a. Even those who show great signs and wonders to deceive
b. For the coming (judgment) of the Son of Man will be like
lightning across the sky
1) Do not expect to find Him in the desert or in inner
2) When He comes in judgment, it will be swift - cf. Lk 17:
c. Where the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered
1) Alluding to
surrounded by armies Jerusalem
2) This is the "sign" to warn them it is time to flee
CONCLUSION (Part One)
1. So far, all this depicts a local, escapable judgment...
a. Where Jesus warned those in
Judeaof what is to come
b. Where they are given a sign to let them know when to flee
-- Indeed, many believe that up to verse 29 (or 35), Jesus is
foretelling the destruction of
(and its temple) that Jerusalem
did occur in
70 A. D.
2. It certainly does not fit a worldwide, inescapable judgment...
a. As will characterize the second coming of Christ
b. As Paul and Peter taught Christians throughout the
world - cf. 1 Th 5:2-3; 2 Th 1:7-10; 2 Pe 3:10-12
3. Our next study will continue "The Olivet Discourse", starting with
a. Which certainly sounds like the second coming of Christ
b. But is it? Or was Jesus still describing events pertaining to
the destruction of
300 A.D.) in his "Ecclesiastical History" wrote that
Christians heeded the warnings of Jesus in Matthew 24, and fled
when it was surrounded by the Roman army. Jerusalem
May we likewise heed the words of Jesus and not be misled by false
prophets and false christs, not be troubled by wars, famines,
pestilence, earthquakes, or even persecution, but endure to the end by
remaining faithful to Him, and look forward to His final coming at the
The Olivet Discourse - II (24:29-51)
1. In our previous lesson, we covered the first half of Matthew 24...
a. Commonly called "The Olivet Discourse", since Jesus was on the
Mount of Oliveswhen He delivered it
b. A challenging passage of scripture, believed to discussing...
1) The destruction of
, which occurred in Jerusalem 70 A.D.
2) The second coming of Christ, which is yet to occur
3) Or both events, described either in turn or intertwined
2. I've proposed the entire chapter foretells the destruction of
, based first upon the setting leading up to the discourse, Jerusalem
a. Jesus' words spoken in the temple
1) His parables about
's rejection of Him - Mt 21:28-32, Israel
2) His condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees - Mt 23:27-36
3) His lamentation over
- Mt 23:37-39 Jerusalem
b. Jesus' prophecy spoken about the temple - Mt 24:1-2
c. The questions of the disciples, which when Mark and Luke's
account are considered, appear to be:
1) "When will these things be?"
2) "What will be the sign when all these things will be
fulfilled?" -- Cf. Mt 24:3; Mk 13:4; Lk 21:7
3. We saw that in verses 4-29, Jesus describes...
a. What will "not" be the sign (other than the gospel preached to
all nations) - Mt 24:4-14
b. What will be the sign - Mt 24:15
1) The abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel - Dan 9:26-27
2) Which Luke explains to be
surrounded by armies - Lk Jerusalem
c. What to do when they saw the sign - Mt 24:16-28
1) Those in
Judeawere to flee to the mountains to avoid a great
2) They were not to be misled by false christs or false prophets
[Up to verse 29, Jesus described a local, escapable judgment to befall
. He does not describe the worldwide, inescapable judgment Jerusalem
taught elsewhere in the Scriptures. But with verse 29, some believe
Jesus now addresses His second coming (cf. J.W. McGarvey's Four-Fold
Gospel). As we continue with our study, I propose that the destruction
is still under consideration...] Jerusalem
II. THE OLIVET DISCOURSE (continued)
D. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT...
1. Events to occur "immediately after the tribulation of those
a. Cosmic disturbances - Mt 24:29
1) The sun will be darkened
2) The moon will not give its light
3) The stars will fall from heaven
4) The heavens will be shaken
b. The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven - Mt 24:30
1) All the tribes of the earth will mourn
2) They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of
heaven with power and great glory
c. The elect will be gathered - Mt 24:31
1) For with a great sound of the trumpet, angels will be
2) They shall gather the elect from the four winds, from
one end of heaven to another
2. Such events certainly sound like the second coming of Christ,
but consider two reasons why they may not be referring to
Jesus' coming at the Last Day...
a. The events were to occur "immediately after the tribulation
of those days" ("in those days, after that tribulation")
- Mt 24:29; Mk 13:24
1) They are connected in time to the tribulation described
in Mt 24:15-28
2) This "coming" of Jesus was to occur at the conclusion of
the siege of
b. The events are similar to those used to foretell God's
judgment of other nations
- Isa 13:1,6-13 Babylon
- Isa 19:1-2; cf. Eze 32:2,7-9 Egypt
- Isa 23:1; 24:21-23 Tyre
- Isa 34:4-6 Edom
- Nah 1:1-5 Nineveh
- Amo 8:9 Israel
7) Judah - Jer 4:5-6,23-28
3. For such reasons, I suggest that even in Mt 24:29-31...
a. Jesus refers to the destruction of
b. Like other Jewish prophets, Jesus uses figurative language
1) The judgment to befall the wicked (in terms of worldwide
2) The provision made for the righteous (in terms of the
gathering by angels)
c. Jewish prophets foretold God's judgment upon such
1) Using figures of worldwide destruction, even though the
judgment was local
2) Perhaps because such judgments foreshadow God's Final
Judgment to come upon the entire world at the Last Day
[The rest of the chapter includes...]
E. ADMONITIONS TO BE PREPARED AND PRODUCTIVE...
1. The parable of the fig tree - Mt 24:32-33
a. New branches and leaves indicate summer is near
b. When you see these things (
surrounded by armies), Jerusalem
the time is near
2. It would happen before "this generation" passed away - Mt 24:
a. Some define "generation" as a race of people (i.e., the
Jews) - cf. McGarvey, B. W. Johnson
b. But note its use by Jesus just prior to this discourse
- Mt 23:33-36 (esp. 36)
-- The destruction of
came to pass within forty Jerusalem
3. The words of Jesus will come to pass - Mt 24:35
a. Heaven and earth shall pass away one day - cf. 2 Pe 3:7,10
b. But Jesus' words will by no means pass away
-- With v. 35, some believe Jesus now talks about the second
coming; but Jesus is using an illustration to demonstrate
the surety of His words - e.g., Mt 5:18
4. Of that day and hour, only the Father knows - Mt 24:36
a. They might discern the general timing with the advance of
b. But the day and hour when the siege would begin, only the
-- So don't delay when the "sign" appears (
surrounded by armies)
5. It will be like the days of Noah - Mt 24:37-39
a. In the days before the flood...
1) Noah knew what was coming and was preparing, but people
continued with their normal activities
2) Only when it was too late did the people know
b. Prior to the siege of
1) Many people probably thought the conflict would end
peacefully, and so lived their lives accordingly
2) But once the siege began, it was too late
6. Some will be taken away - Mt 24:40-41
a. When the city was stormed, 97,000 Jews were taken captive
b. Some to be killed by beasts in Roman theaters, some sent to
, others sold as slaves -- Flavius Josephus, Egypt
Jewish Wars (as quoted in Barnes Commentary on Matthew)
7. Therefore, watch! - Mt 24:42-44
a. You don't know the hour of the Son of Man's coming
b. Don't be caught off guard, like the master of a house who
did not know when a thief would break in
c. Be ready, for the Son of Man will come when you not expect
-- The siege of
Jerusalemmight begin promptly, so flee Judea
quickly when you see the armies surrounding
8. The parable of the faithful servant and the wicked servant
- Mt 24:45-51
a. The faithful servant is blessed if doing the master's will
when he comes
b. So the disciples of Jesus are admonished to be productive
1. Admittedly, there is much in "The Olivet Discourse" that alludes to
our Lord's second coming at the Last Day...
a. But that is no different than the prophecies by other Jewish
prophets who foretold God's judgment upon other nations
b. It was a common motif used by Jewish prophets, we should not be
surprised to see Jesus using the same
-- And rightly so, for God's judgments upon nations in the past are
types and shadows of the Final Judgment to befall the entire
world when Jesus comes again
2. In addition to the setting leading up to the discourse, there is the
natural flow of the discourse itself that leads me to conclude it is
entirely about the destruction of
a. Jesus' disciples are told what will not be the sign - Mt 24:1-14
b. They are told will be the sign that His coming is near - Mt 24:15
c. They are told what to do when they see the sign - Mt 24:16-28
d. His coming in judgment (the fall of
) is described in Jerusalem
terms reminiscent of other Jewish prophets who foretold of God's
judgments upon various nations - Mt 24:29-31
e. Admonitions are given for them to be prepared and productive in
the meantime - Mt 24:32-51
So I view "The Olivet Discourse" to describe a local, escapable
judgment which occurred as Jesus foretold in
70 A. D. However, there
is still the worldwide, inescapable judgment at the Last Day - cf. 1 Th
5:2-3; 2 Th 1:7-10; 2 Pe 3:10-12
Are you ready for that Day? The admonitions to be prepared and
productive are very similar:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in
which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the
elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the
works that are in it will be burned up."
"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what
manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because
of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the
elements will melt with fervent heat?"
"Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens
and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved,
looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in
peace, without spot and blameless;"
- 2 Pe 3:10-14