13:1 And as he went forth out of the temple1, one of his disciples saith unto him, Teacher, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings2! DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM FORETOLD. Matthew 24:1-28; Mark 13:1-23; Luke 21:5-24
And as he went forth out of the temple. Leaving it to return no
Teacher, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings!
The strength and wealth of the Temple roused the admiration of the
Galileans. The great stones in its fortifications promised safety from its
enemies, and the goodly offerings bespoke the zeal of its friends. According
to Josephus, some of the stones were nearly seventy feet in length, twelve
feet in height, and eighteen feet in breadth. The same historian tells us of
the gifts or offerings which adorned it: crowns, shields, goblets, chain of
gold present by Agrippa, and a golden vine with its vast clusters which was
the gift of Herod. The Temple was white limestone, and its beauty and
strength made it admired of all nations. It took forty-six years to finish,
and ten thousand skilled workmen are said to have been employed in its
13:2 And Jesus said unto him, Seest thou
these great buildings? there shall not be left here one
stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down1.
There shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be
thrown down. In the very hour when the disciples exulted in the apparent
permanency of their glorious temple, Jesus startled them by foretelling its
utter destruction, which, within forty years, was fulfilled to the letter.
The emperor Vespasian, and his son Titus, after a three years' siege, took
Jerusalem and destroyed its temple, A.D. 70. Of the temple proper, not a
vestige was left standing, but the vast platform upon which it stood,
composed partly of natural rock and partly of immense masonry, was for the
most part left standing. The destruction of the city and temple, however,
was so complete that those who visited it could hardly believe that it had
ever been inhabited (Josephus, Wars 7:1).
13:3 And as he sat
on the mount of Olives over against the temple1, Peter
and James and John and Andrew2 asked him privately,
And as he sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple. He
was in the middle portion of the mountain, for that is the part which is
opposite the temple.
Peter and James and John and Andrew. On this occasion Andrew was in
company with the chosen three when they were honored by a special
revelation, but is put last as being the least conspicuous of the four.
13:4 Tell us, when shall these things be?
and what [shall be] the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished?
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign when
these things are all about to be accomplished? See also Matthew
21:7. Dismayed by the brief words which Jesus had spoken as he was
leaving the temple, these four disciples asked for fuller details. Their
question is fourfold. (1) When shall the temple be destroyed? (2) What shall
be the signs which precede its destruction? (3) What shall be the sign of
Christ's coming? (4) What shall be the sign of the end of the world? Jesus
had said nothing of his coming nor of the end of the world, but to these
four disciples the destruction of the temple seemed an event of such
magnitude that they could not but associate it with the end of all things.
Jesus deals with the first two questions in this section, and with the
remaining two in Section 114. See Mark
13:6 Many shall
come in my name1, saying, I am
[he]2; and shall lead many astray.
Many shall come in my name. Claiming his name.
Saying, I am [he]. The first sign of destruction would be the
appearance of false Christs. These would boldly claim the title, and assert
that the time for the setting up of the eternal kingdom had arrived. We have
no direct history of the appearance of such persons, the nearest approach to
it being the parties mentioned by Josephus (Ant. 20:5.1; 8:6.10; Wars
2:13.4,5). But as these men left no institutions or followers, it is quite
natural that they should be overlooked or dropped by historians. Nothing is
more natural, however, than that the excitement attendant upon the ministry
of Jesus should encourage many to attempt to become such a Christ as the
people wanted. The Gospels show so widespread a desire for a political
Christ that the law of demand and supply would be sure to make many such.
13:7 And when ye shall hear of wars and
rumors of wars, be not troubled: [these things] must needs come to pass; but the
end is not yet2.
Wars and rumours of wars would be the second sign, but Christians
in Jerusalem could rest there in safety until a more definite token bid them
depart. Of course the wars here mentioned were only such as threatened
particularly to affect the Jews, for the trouble coming upon the Jews was
the subject of discourse. Alford, in commenting on this paragraph, takes the
pains to enumerate three threats of war made against the Jews by as many
Roman emperors and three uprisings of Gentiles against Jews in which many
thousands of the latter perished.
The end is not yet. The destruction of the temple.
13:8 For nation shall rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be earthquakes
in divers places1; there shall be
famines2: these things are the beginning of travail.
There shall be earthquakes in divers places, etc. Great natural
disturbances would constitute the third sign. That these preceded the
destruction of Jerusalem, there is abundant historic evidence. Alford
enumerates the earthquakes as follows: (1) A great earthquake in Crete, A.D.
46 or 47. (2) One at Rome when Nero assumed the manly toga, A.D. (3) One at
Apamaea in Phrygia, mentioned by Tacitus, A.D. 53. (4) One at Laodicea in
Phrygia, A.D. 60. (5) One in Campania, A.D. 62 or 63.
There shall be famines. There were an indefinite number of famines
referred to by Roman writers, and at least one pestilence during which
thirty thousand perished in Rome alone. All these signs are mentioned by
unbelieving writers such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Philostratus, and
Seneca, who speak of them because of their importance and not with any
reference to the prophecy of Christ.
13:9 But take ye heed to yourselves: for
they shall deliver you up to councils1; and
in synagogues2 shall ye be beaten; and before governors
and kings shall ye stand for my sake, for a testimony unto them.
For they shall deliver you up to councils, etc. A fourth sign which
they needed to heed particularly would be an outbreak of persecution. The
Book of Acts furnishes an abundant evidence of the fulfillment of these
details. The civil and ecclesiastical authorities (synagogues and kings)
united to oppress the church. See Acts
25:2,3). Peter, James the elder, and James the younger, and Paul, and
doubtless many more of the apostles suffered martyrdom before the
destruction of the temple. Tacitus bears testimony to the hatred and blind
bigotry of the age when he speaks of Christians as
"a class of men hated on account of their crimes"
(Annals 15:44). See also Suetonius on Nero 16, and Pliny (Ep. 10:97). For
comments on a similar passage, see Matthew
And in synagogues. See Mark
13:10 And the
gospel must first be preached unto all the nations1.
And the gospel must first be preached unto all the nations. Paul
says that this was done (Colossians
1:23). Of course the language of both Jesus and Paul must be understood
with reference to the geography of the earth as then known. Paul's
declaration was written about the year A.D. 63, or seven years before the
destruction of Jerusalem. His meaning is not that every creature had
actually heard the gospel, but that each had been given an opportunity to
hear because the gospel had been so universally preached.
13:11 And when they lead you [to
judgment], and deliver you up, be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak:
but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye; for
it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit1.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit. See Matthew
13:12 And brother
shall deliver up brother to death1, and the father his
child; and children shall rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to
And brother shall deliver up brother to death, etc. Hatred against
Christianity would prove stronger than all family ties. See Matthew
13:13 And ye
shall be hated of all men for my name's sake1: but
he that endureth to the end2, the same shall be saved.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. See Matthew
But he that endureth to the end. That is, to his death. See Matthew
13:14 But when ye see the
abomination of desolation1 standing where he ought not (let
him that readeth understand)2, then
let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains3:
The abomination of desolation. See Daniel
11:31. See Mark
(Let him that readeth understand). Matthew also gives a similar
24:15). If the words in parentheses were spoken by our Lord, they would
constitute an exhortation to understand the prophecy of Daniel, and would be
unnecessary, since our Lord's application of the prophecy explains it. The
words are, therefore, exhortations by the Evangelists Matthew and Mark,
bidding their readers take heed to this part of the prophecy (which
constituted the last sign, and, therefore, the final warning).
Then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains. That they
might not share in the bitter fate impending over Jerusalem and Judea if
they chanced to be in either in the hour of judgment.
13:15 and let him
that is on the housetop not go down1, nor enter in, to
take anything out his house:
Let him that is on the housetop not go down, etc. See Luke
13:17 But woe
unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days1!
But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in
those days! Because their condition would impede their flight.
13:18 And pray ye
that it be not in the winter1.
And pray ye that it be not in the winter. Because the flight will
be so precipitate that it would necessitate much exposure to the weather,
sleeping under the open heaven, etc.
13:19 For those
days shall be tribulation, such as there hath not been the like from the
beginning of the creation which God created until now1, and
never shall be2.
For those days shall be tribulation, such as there hath not been the
like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now,
and never shall be. These words spoken before the event are
strikingly verified by the statements of Josephus written after it:
"No other city ever suffered miseries, nor did any age, from the
beginning of the world, ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness
that this was."
"If the miseries of all mankind from the creation were compared with
those which the Jews then suffered, they would appear inferior."
The promise that there shall be no days like it of course excludes the
terrors and miseries of the judgment day, since it belongs to celestial
rather than terrestrial history.
Having now the whole paragraph before us, we are ready to discuss the
phrase "abomination of desolation" mentioned in Mark
24:15. Taking it in connection with the entire paragraph, we can readily
see (1) That it was a sign practically simultaneous with the compassing of
Jerusalem by the Roman army. (2) That it was a clearly marked sign which was
to be followed by immediate flight, even if the day of its appearing should
change on the Sabbath--a flight so sudden that a man must not stop to enter
his house or get his coat. Now, some translate the phrase "abomination
of desolation" (or "abomination that causeth desolation", for
it may be so translated) as referring to the crimes of the zealots, a
faction in Jerusalem, who took possession of the temple and profaned its
sanctuary by using it as a fort, thus making themselves an abomination in
the eyes of the Jews by polluting God's house and entering where they had no
right to enter. But a long interval intervened between this evil deed of
theirs and the coming of the Romans, during any day of which a Christian
might have taken his departure after the most leisurely manner. Others take
the phrase as referring to the entrance of the triumphant Roman army upon
the temple courts; but as this was one of the last scenes of the prolonged
siege, it could not properly be coupled with the encompassing Roman army.
Meyer, aware of this difficulty, takes the position that there were
"two" flights prescribed by Jesus, one from "Jerusalem"
at the time when the Romans appeared, and the other from "Judea"
at the time when the temple fell. But the language used by Luke (Luke
21:20,21) forbids us to make the flight from Judea subsequent to the
flight from Jerusalem, for both flights were to begin when the Romans
appeared. Again it should be noted that the phrase "the holy
place" is apt to mislead, especially when coupled with Mark's
"where it ought not". The words when seen in English cause us to
think of some person or thing polluting the sanctuary of the temple by
standing in its holy place. But it is evident that the words do not refer to
the temple at all. When the New Testament speaks of the holy place in the
temple it styles it "en too hagioo" ("in the holy"),
while the words here are "en topoo hagioo" ("in a holy
place"). Moreover, after a careful perusal of the Septuagint, we are
persuaded that they used the two terms to distinguish between the holy place
in the sanctuary and other holy places, a distinction which the Revised
Version recognizes. As none but priests could enter "the" holy
place, it is evident that another is meant at Psalms
24:3, but in this place the Septuagint gives us "en topoo hagioo".
We, therefore, conclude that in this place Matthew uses the term "holy
place" to designate the holy territory round about the Holy City, and
that the combined expressions of Matthew and Mark signifies the investiture
of the city by the Roman armies and is equivalent to the plainer statement
made by Luke. The Roman armies were fittingly called the abomination of
desolation, because, being heathen armies, they were an abomination to the
Jews, and because they brought desolation upon the country. The sight of
them, therefore, became the appointed sign for Christians to quit the city.
13:20 And except
the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved1;
but for the elect's sake, whom he chose, he shortened
And except the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been
saved. Since the Lord is speaking to the Jews, this means that if God
had not shortened the siege and restrained the Romans, they would have
exterminated the Jewish race.
But for the elect's sake, whom he chose, he shortened the days.
Since the term "elect" in Mark
13:22,27 evidently means Christians, it doubtless means that here,
though it may mean that God spared a remnant of the Jewish people because he
had covenanted with the patriarchs that they should be his
"chosen" people, for the Jews are also God's elect (Romans
11:28,29). Moreover, it should be noted that there were few, if any,
Christians remaining in the city, and that those who were spared were as
Jews without discrimination.
13:21 And then if
any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ; or1,
Lo, there; believe [it] not:
And then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ; or,
Lo, there; believe [it] not. Christ warns his followers: (1) Not to
be deceived by spurious Christs. (2) Not to believe that he himself has
again appeared. This latter warning is further enforced by what follows. See
13:22 for there
shall arise false Christs and false prophets1, and shall
show signs and wonders, that they may lead astray, if possible, the elect.
For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, etc. For
accounts of these lying prophets who appeared before and during the siege,
see Josephus, Wars 4; 5; 6. See Matthew
13:24 But in those days, after that
tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon
shall not give her light1,
13:24,25 THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST. Matthew
The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.
The language is that of the ancient prophets. See Amos
32:7,8. Compare also Revelation
6:12-14. Some regard the language as metaphorical, indicating the
eclipse of nations and the downfall of rulers, but there are many similar
passages of Scripture which constrain us to regard the language here as
literal rather than figurative. See Hebrews
1:12; 2 Peter
13:25 and the
stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens shall
And the stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in
the heavens shall be shaken See Matthew
13:27 And then
shall he send forth the angels1, and
shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of
the earth to the uttermost part of heaven2.
And then shall he send forth the angels. We are not told why angels
are used on this occasion, but they appear to be employed in all the great
operations of Providence (Matthew
And shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the
uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. The phrases
indicate that the angelic search shall extend over the entire globe. The
language is that which was then used when one desired to indicate the whole
earth. It is based upon the idea which then prevailed that the earth is
flat, and that it extends outward in one vast plain until it meets and is
circumscribed by the overarching heavens.
13:28 Now from the fig tree learn her
parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye
know that the summer is nigh1;
Ye know that the summer is nigh. As the change of the season in the
natural world has its preliminary signs, so the change of conditions in the
spiritual realm has its premonitory symptoms. When men see the symptoms
which Jesus had described, they will recognize that changes are coming as to
the nature of which they can only guess.
13:29 even so ye
also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that he is nigh, [even]
at the doors1.
Even so ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that
he is nigh, [even] at the doors. But the Christian is informed that
these changes indicate the coming of the Son of God--a change from a worse
to a better season.
13:30 Verily I say unto you, This
generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished1.
This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be
accomplished. Commentators differ widely as to the import of these
words. Godet is so perplexed by them that he thinks they refer to the
destruction of Jerusalem, and have been misplaced by the Evangelist. Cook
straddles the difficulty by giving a dual significance to all that our Lord
has said concerning his coming, so that our Lord in one narrative speaks
"figuratively" of a coming in the power of his kingdom before,
during, and right after the destruction of Jerusalem, and
"literally" of his final coming at the end of the world. But this
perplexing expression under this theory refers exclusively to the figurative
and not to the literal sense of the passage. The simplest solution of the
matter is to take the word "generation" to mean the Jewish family
or race--and the word does mean race or family (Luke
16:8). Thus interpreted, the passage becomes a prophecy that the Jewish
people shall be preserved as such until the coming of Christ. The marvelous
and almost miraculous preservation of the racial individuality of the Jews,
though dispersed among all nations, might well become the subject of
prophecy, especially when Jesus had just spoken of an event which threatened
their very extermination.
13:31 Heaven and
earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away1.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
The disciples had regarded the temple as so permanent that they found it
hard to conceive that Christ's words could be fulfilled with regard to it;
but he assures them that his predictions and prophecies are the stable and
imperishable things. That even the more permanent structure of the heavens
is not so abiding as his utterances.
13:32 But of that
day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son,
but the Father1.
But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in
heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. These words indicate the
profound secrecy in which God has concealed the hour of judgment. It is
concealed from all people, that each generation may live in expectation of
its fulfillment, and we are to watch for the signs, though we may not fully
know the times. They also indicate that either by reason of his assumption
of our human nature, or by a voluntary act on his part, the knowledge of
Jesus became in some respects circumscribed. They also suggest that it is
not only idle, but also presumptuous, for men to strive to find out by
mathematical calculation and expositions of prophecy that which the Son of
God did not know.
13:34 [It is] as
[when] a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house1,
and given authority to his servants, to each one his
work2, commanded also the porter
[It is] as [when] a man, sojourning in another country, having left his
house. Under the figure of the householder and the thief, Jesus appealed
to the sense of danger.
And given authority to his servants, to each one his work. Under
the figure of the servant he appealed to the sense of duty.
Commanded also the porter to watch. Under this figure of the porter
he appealed to the sense of loyalty. The porter's desire to honor his lord
was to make him so vigilant that he would open the door at once upon his
13:35 Watch therefore: for ye know not
when the lord of the house cometh, whether at even, or
at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning1;
Whether at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning.
The night was then divided into four watches. See Luke
12:38. Jesus may here refer either to the duration of the world or to
the life of the individual. He divides either period into four sections, in
accordance with the night watches which were so fully associated with
13:37 And what I
say unto you I say unto all, Watch1.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. This warning message
was not for the apostles alone, but for all disciples.