Let’s begin going through this verse by verse. I will resist the urge to write “in my opinion” constantly…. Of course it is “in my opinion.”
I will use New American Standard Version of the Bible. Isn’t it what most of us have? The NASB is amongst the best “word for word” translations which maintains a semblance of the common English spoken today. The best “word for word” translation is Young’s Literal Translation. It is a literal Greek to English (New Testament) translation / Hebrew or Aramaic to English (Old Testament) translation. For every day reading, it is almost unreadable…. But can be very helpful if you don’t know Greek or Hebrew and the English translations are slightly different. We can reference Young’s from time to time; and we can reference New Living Translation from time to time. I like NLT because it is a good Bible for very common modern English.
I will copy and paste each passage, and give some commentary. After I send this out; please give your observations and ask questions…. We can discuss each one for a while before going to the next passage.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
It seems here that the mighty Temple came up in conversation. Perhaps the disciples were marveling about its construction? Jesus responds by prophesying about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. The Jews revolted and attempted to free themselves from the oppression of Rome. Their revolt was squashed hard! Led by a General named Titus (not to be confused with Paul’s ministry partner “Titus”), Rome responded with rock hurling contraptions to break down the Jerusalem walls and destroy / burn down the temple. The Jews fought hard, but in the end were scattered. Jerusalem and the Temple were diminished to rubble. This was the end of Israel / Jerusalem until May 14, 1948, after WWII.
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Intrigued by Jesus’ alarming prophecy, the disciples came and asked a two part question. Part one was about the prophecy they just heard, and since Jesus was prophesying, they went ahead and added part two which was a question about His return to earth and the conclusion of history. Just to make sure we are not misreading this, let’s look in the other translations:
3 And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, `Tell us, when shall these be? and what [is] the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?’
3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”
What was recorded in the rest of the chapter was Jesus’ response to part 2; He is not giving more detail of His prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Perhaps He talked about that, and Matthew didn’t record it? What is recorded in the gospels is not an exhaustive dictation of every single word that Jesus said during that time. It is Matthew telling the story of Jesus Christ. One of the rules of interpretation I like to use is what I call “the most obvious reading of the text”. This is similar in nature to Occam’s Razor only applied to Bible interpretation. You will get all kinds of theories about what we will look at from this point forward; but I suggest we approach it by first asking, “what’s the most obvious reading of the text?” I think from this point forward Jesus is addressing the question What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”
I will stop there for now. Next, we will enter the series of events Jesus refers to as “birth pains.” I know this was short and sweet…. Is the format I suggest okay? Below are some more thoughts I have:
- If you are going to study end times theology or “eschatology,” what better place to look than where Jesus addresses a specific question about the end times?
- There are many prophetic books in the Bible that reference end times, and it can get very confusing. We can reference other books (I know mom and dad have studied eschatology a bit). But I think Matthew 24 is the best “home text.”
What say you?