THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, we finished up Matthew 23. In this lesson, we will begin examining one of the most misunderstood chapters in the Bible by those in religious world. Those who teach the rapture doctrine and say that we are looking for signs for the end of time get their view from this chapter. We will be focusing on Matthew 24, though I do recommend that you also read the parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21.
Before we begin looking at Mt. 24, I want to give you some basic guidelines that you should follow in order to figure out what is going on in any given chapter within the Bible.
1. One of the most important things you must do is to look at the context so you can know what is going on. This means you need to look at the previous chapter as it may give you great insight to what is going on.
2. Also, it's important to examine any other verses or parallel accounts of the contents of the chapter you want to examine.
3. When you are examining a more difficult chapter, try to find verses within that chapter that might help you unlock the true meaning of the text.
I will be using these basic guidelines to show what Mat. 24 teaches.
The first thing we need to do is to find out what was going
on in Mat. 23. In this chapter, Jesus is in
"Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. 33 "Serpents, brood of
vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 "Therefore, indeed, I send
you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify,
and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to
"that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the
blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you
murdered between the temple and the altar.
36 "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will
come upon this generation. 37
Jesus makes it clear
that these Jews had rejected Him and that the blood of the prophets would be on
their heads. He is pronouncing a judgment on these Jews, and He tells them that
this judgment will happen to their generation and that God has left their house
desolate. In other words, God’s presence was no longer in the temple. The
judgment Jesus was talking about was the destruction of
With this in mind, I want to show you a key verse in understanding Mt. 24.
Matthew 24:34 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
No matter how you decided to explain Mt. 24, Jesus makes it easy for us to see that the events described before verse 34 would happen in that generation. Just as we saw at the end of Mt. 23, those events described in these verses were to occur sometime within a 30 to 40 year time span.
Some seem to think that the generation being spoken of will not begin until the signs of Matthew 24 begins. Of course, they think those signs have begun and that our generation is supposedly the generation Jesus spoke of. They change the meaning of generation in our key verse to simply denote the Jewish race. In other words, they have Jesus saying that the Jewish race will not pass away until all these things take place. This is how they justify stretching out the time span of when these signs are to occur. But even they will admit that the word generation is rarely used to mean race. Instead, the word generation is almost always defined as,
“the sum total of those born at the same time, expanded to include all those living at a given time”
In fact, out of the 37 times this word is used in the NT, I could not find where it was ever used to refer to a race. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.
Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations;
Obviously, the word generation is talking about a time span and not a race because this verse wouldn’t make any sense if you substituted the word generation with the word race. Please keep this in mind as we begin to examine Mt. 24. My goal is to show you that Mt. 24 talks about 2 different events. Verses 1 – 34 talk about the destruction of Jerusalem. and verses 36 – 51 talk about Jesus’ second coming when the end of the world will occur.
Matthew 24:1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying…
Verse 3 teaches us that
when Jesus departed from the temple, He went to the
This was an amazing statement because at this point, they were still building on the temple area, which was not completed until A.D. 64, and Jerusalem was at a time of peace, yet Jesus said it would be destroyed and would happen in their generation just as we read in Mt. 23. Immediately, His disciples asked Him some questions.
In Matthew’s account, we see 3 questions. However, the last 2 questions are grammatically tied together by the conjunction and.
Matthew 24:3 "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
Luke’s account shows 2 questions.
Luke 21:7 So they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?"
Mark’s account also shows 2 questions
Mark 13:4 "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?"
This is why it is
important that we look at the parallel accounts in the gospels. Because when we
look at just one, we don’t get the complete picture. However, when we look at
all of them together, then we will get the complete picture. For example,
Luke’s and Mark’s accounts only record two questions, which deals with the
In Mt. 24, they also want
to know what will be the sign of Jesus’ coming and of the end of the age? Some believe these questions also refer to the
Another example can be seen in Mt. 13 when Jesus spoke several parables about the kingdom that was to come, which was spiritual and not physical. He also taught them about the end of the world or the end of the age. When He was done, He asked them if they understood what He was talking about, and they all said “yes we understand” in verse 51. Yet, when we come to Acts 1:6, just before Jesus is about to ascend into heaven, His disciples want to know when He will restore the kingdom to Israel?
Again, we can see that
they were still looking for a physical kingdom instead of a spiritual one. So,
this is why I say it is certainly possible that they thought the destruction of
However, it does not really matter what they were thinking or if they were confused because Jesus is going to answer these questions, and He is going to set the record straight. We will see Him talk about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, and we will see how both of these events happen at different times.
In verse 4 – 14, Jesus warns His disciples not to be fooled by the false signs they would experience before the destruction of Jerusalem would occur.
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.
Jesus says there will be many people who will come in His name trying to say they are the Messiah. The Bible tells us in Acts 5:35-37 that some men had claimed to be something great and led some people away to a slaughter, and it also mentions an Egyptian who did this as well in Acts 21:38. Also, historians like Josephus recorded how false messiahs were stepping up during those days as well.
Matthew 24:6 "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 "All these are the beginning of sorrows.
These are things that are
going to take place before the destruction of Jerusalem, but these are not
signs that mark the end of Jerusalem. Instead, they mark the beginning of
sorrows. Jesus tells His disciples not to be troubled or bothered by these
things because these signs are just the beginning and are not the actual signs
that will show that the destruction of
Those who teach the rapture doctrine thinks these signs mentioned are the signs we are to look for before Jesus comes again, but these kinds of signs have been happening throughout history. It is also noteworthy to point out that our text does not say that these signs will increase during this time, it simply says they will be happening. Please note the following,
Vincent notes that between this prophecy by Jesus in 30 A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem there was an earthquake in Crete in 46-47 A.D., at Rome in 51 A.D., at Apamaia in Phrygia in 60 A.D., and at Campania in 41 -54 A.D. He also notes 4 famines during the reign of Claudius in 41 – 54 A.D. One of these famines is mentioned in taught in Acts 11:28. Also an early writer named Tacitus (Annals xvi. 10-13) describes hurricanes and storms in Campania in A.D. 65.
There are more events I
could list, but these are sufficient enough to show that they had those things
happening before the destruction of
Matthew 24:9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.
The Book of Acts reveals the fulfillment of this prediction. The apostles were beaten and put in prison (Acts 4-5), Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 6-7), there was a great persecution against the church (Acts 8-9), and James was beheaded (Acts 12:1-2) just to name a few.
Mark adds this in his account,
Mark 13:11 "But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
This certainly limits these events that were going to happen to the first century because when they were arrested, the Holy Spirit would give them the words by which to speak. Now this would be a study all by itself, but 1 Cor. 13, Eph. 4, and other passages make it clear the miraculous speaking of tongues and the like were limited to the 1st century because once God’s Word was fully revealed, miracles would cease. Also, only the apostles had the ability to impart miraculous gifts by the laying on of their hands, and there are no apostles alive today. So, being able to allow the Holy Spirit to speak for you cannot happen today.
Matthew 24:10 "And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
We can see these things happening in Scripture as well, such as 2 Tim 4:10, 16, which also happened before A.D. 70.
"Tacitus, the Roman historian, records, `that several Christians at first were apprehended, and then by their discovery, a multitude of others were convicted, and cruelly put to death, with derision and insult!'"
Now when a person gets to verse 13, they might want to apply that to salvation in heaven and it certainly is true that if we endure as Christians to the end of our lives, we will be saved. But, based on context, I do not believe this verse is talking about salvation of the soul. Luke’s account adds that not one hair of their heads would be lost (Lk. 21:18).
Since Jesus goes on from this verse and tells His disciples what they can do to escape the destruction that is going to take place, I believe He is saying that those who endure and don’t allow themselves to be tricked by the false signs and take heed to the real signs that precede the destruction of Jerusalem will not lose their physical lives.
Josephus and others
historians back this fact up because not one Christian was recorded of losing
their life during the destruction of
Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
This is another important verse because whatever the end is that these verses have been talking about cannot occur until the gospel is preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations. Those who teach the rapture doctrine would say that this has not happened yet, but consider what the Bible says,
Colossians 1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world,
Colossians 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Also, Romans 10:18 and 16:26 all show that the gospel had indeed been preached to all the world. The Book of Colossians was written around 61 - 63 A.D. and the Book of Romans was written around 57-58 A.D., which clearly shows that the gospel had been preached to all the world before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. So, we can see that end Jesus is talking about is the destruction of Jerusalem. All these things Jesus has been talking about so far would happen before the destruction of Jerusalem, but now, Jesus is going to tell His disciples the real signs they could look for and know without a doubt that the destruction of Jerusalem was about to happen.
Matthew 24:15 " Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),
The word ‘abomination’ means detestable things such as idolatry, and the word desolation means destruction. Daniel spoke of this event during his day in Daniel 9, 11, and 12. In all 3 chapters, abomination of desolation is used to describe the defilement of the temple, but the specific prophecy Jesus is talking about has to do with the 70 weeks of Daniel in Chapter 9: 24- 27.
Luke’s account shows us
exactly what Jesus has in mind about the abomination of desolation that they
could see and know that
Luke 21:20 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.
Also, earlier in the book of Luke, Jesus makes the same prediction.
Luke 19:41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
So, without a doubt, the abomination of desolation was the Roman army led by Titus who did this very thing in A.D. 70, which led to the destruction of Jerusalem where they did not leave one stone on top of another. Even some of the Jews of that day understood that the destruction of A.D. 70 was that which Daniel prophesied of. Please note what Josephus wrote who was an eyewitness of these events:
In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman Government, and that our country should be made desolate by them. (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 10:11:7)
And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious (sah-dish-us) into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings lying round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple, and set them over against its eastern gate, and there did they make Titus imperator. (imp-ar-tor) (Josephus, War of the Jews, 6:6:1)
I believe the evidence overwhelmingly proves that Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and not some future event that is supposed to take place sometime in our lifetime.
Well, I wish I could continue on, but we will stop right here and we will pick right were left off in our next lesson, but I hope you have already seen that Jesus is has been talking about the destruction of Jerusalem so far and not about things concerning the end of the world. So, I hope you will join us for the next lesson.