Explanation Of The Olivet Discourse

This Olivet Discourse Deception study gives a verse-by-verse explanation of the warnings that Messiah gave in the Olivet Discourse, which led to the desolation of the temple, city and Jews.

Be sure to read The Context Of The Olivet Discourse study first, as it helps understand the fulfillment.

The historical record validates that Messiah’s warnings in the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled in the first century, in that generation of Jews, just as He proclaimed.

I’ve added insight from several esteemed theologians who wrote whole Bible commentaries during the 17th-20th centuries, which show that people have understood the historical fulfillment of Matthew 24 for a long time, and it’s only during the last few hundred years that the Jesuit’s deceptions have taken hold in the church.

We’ll follow the narrative of Matthew’s gospel, as it is cited the most; but will add in the recordings in Luke and Mark when needed, as they add important details.

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. Matthew 24:1

The focus is on the desolation of the temple, which Messiah just left for the last time.

The disciples understood the 70 weeks of Daniel prophecy, which proclaimed that Messiah would appear in the 70th week.  This happened in 27 A.D., when He was baptized and then called His disciples.

He (Andrew) first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” John 1:41

Surely the disciples also understood the prophecy in Daniel 9:26, which declared that the ‘people of the prince‘ would destroy the temple:

and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

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. Matthew 24:2

The first verses of Matthew 24 set the stage and establish context. There is no controversy of interpretation here; most agree, regardless of stance, that Messiah predicts here a destruction of the Jerusalem temple standing in his own time, and will agree that this was literally fulfilled, to the point that critics use this as supposed evidence that the Gospels were written after 70 AD.

This merely sets the stage for the question of the disciples. Before we get to that let’s look at the context of what just happened.

As Messiah entered Jerusalem, He lamented over the city as the Jewish leaders had rejected Him even though the 70 Weeks of Daniel prophecy told them exactly when their Messiah would arrive.

He condemned them and foretold that they would kill the disciples that He would send to them.

And he told them that all the righteous blood of the prophets would come on this generation.

That is the context of the Olivet Discourse.  It has nothing to do with end times, as all of the things that Messiah told them would happen, occurred before and during the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army, in the first century.

Messiah had just looked back on the temple and prophesied that it would be destroyed.  So the disciples were asking when this would happen?  And what would be the sign of its coming?

Obviously they did not want to be around at the time, so they were looking to Messiah to guide them.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

At the time this was spoken, no event was more improbable than this. The temple was vast, rich, splendid. It was the pride of the nation, and the nation was at peace. Yet in the short space of forty years all this was exactly accomplished. Jerusalem was taken by the Roman armies, under the command of Titus, A.D. 70. The account of the siege and destruction of the city is left us by Josephus, an historian of undoubted veracity and singular fidelity. He was a Jewish priest. In the wars of which he gives an account, he fell into the hands of the Romans, and remained with them during the siege and destruction of the city. Being a Jew, he would of course say nothing designed to confirm the prophecies of Jesus Christ. Yet his whole history appears-almost like a running commentary on these predictions respecting the destruction of the temple.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Which prediction had a full and remarkable accomplishment; and which is not only attested by Josephus, who relates, that both the city and temple were dug up, and laid level with the ground; but also by other Jewish writers; who tell us that “on the ninth of Ab, a day prepared for punishments, Turnus Rufus the wicked, חרש את ההיכל, “ploughed up the temple”, and all round about it, to fulfil what is said, “Zion shall be ploughed as a field”.”

Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible

Mark, the disciple said, Master, what manner of stones and what buildings are here! Luke saith, they spake how the temple was adorned with goodly stones and gifts. All three evangelists agree in the substance of our Saviour’s reply. Christ had now done his work in the temple, where he never came more, and was going toward the Mount of Olives, where we shall find him in the next verse. His disciples, either one of them or more, probably one in the presence of the rest, either doubting (considering the structure of the temple) whether it could be destroyed, or at least thinking it pity that so famous a structure should come to ruin, come to him, admiring the stones and buildings. Most think this was the temple builded by Zerubbabel, almost six hundred years before, though it received great additions by Herod (for we have no record that that temple was ever destroyed). Incredible stories are related about the dimensions of the stones, and the ornaments of it. Our Saviour saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another; that is, this brave, goodly temple shall be utterly ruined. Nor (if we may believe other histories) did this prophecy fail as to the letter of it. Titus, the Roman emperor, taking Jerusalem, about forty years after this, commanded his soldiers to spare the temple when they entered the city, but they in their rage burnt of it what was of a combustible nature; and Turnus Rufus, left general of his army when he went away, drew a plough over it, as God had said. Jeremiah 26:18; Micah 3:12, Zion shall be ploughed like a field.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3

Messiah’s purpose in this discourse was not at all to give His people signs of His coming again, but to warn that generation of believers of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, and to give to them a sure sign whereby they might, and whereby in fact His own people did, secure their safety by fleeing the land and city. (PM)

thy coming” refers to “these things”, the destruction of the temple; not Messiah.  They were asking what is the sign of the things that he just proclaimed about the temple being desolated.

The NIV/ESV/NKJ incorrectly say “what will be the sign of your coming”, making it seem like Messiah’s 2nd coming.

The Greek word for coming is parousia; from the present participle of 3918; a being near, i.e. advent (often, return; specially, of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked); (by implication) physically, aspect:—coming, presence.

Messiah was surely present during the desolation of the temple, city and Jews; not in the sense of His return to earth, but that He commanded it and oversaw it.

Notice that the other two recordings of the Olivet Discourse do not include the question about the end of the world:

Mark 13:4, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

Luke 21:7, And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

The word ‘world‘ should be translated as ‘age‘. The Greek word aiōn means: properly an age; by extension perpetuity (also past); by implication the world; specifically (Jewish) a Messianic period.

The same word is used in Hebrews 9:26, which is referring to Messiah’s sacrifice occurring in the latter days of the Jewish age. “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

Matthew was asking about the end of the age, a time period, not the end of the world. Had that been the intent, the Greek word kosmos would have been used.

Messiah had just declared in Matthew 23 that the Jewish leaders would be desolated, which would end the existence of the Jewish nation. The destruction of the Temple would have been considered the end of the world to the Jewish people, to whom Matthew was primarily writing. (FNL)

The ‘former days‘ of the Jewish nation ended when the Jews were taken captive by the Babylonians.  The ‘latter days‘ of the Jewish nation started when they were released from Babylonian captivity in the 5th century B.C., and they ended in 70 A.D.

So it should read “of the end of the age“.  The New King James gets the translation correct.

Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible

The sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world, are only different expressions to denote the same period with the destruction of Jerusalem; for they conceived, that when Jerusalem should be destroyed, then would be the coming of Christ; and when the coming of Christ, then the end of the world; or rather, as it should be rendered, the conclusion of the age.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Which two are put together, as what they supposed would be at the same time, and immediately follow the destruction of the temple. That he was come in the flesh, and was the true Messiah, they firmly believed: he was with them, and they expected he would continue with them, for they had no notion of his leaving them, and coming again. When he at any time spake of his dying and rising from the dead, they seemed not to understand it: wherefore this coming of his, the sign of which, they inquire, is not to be understood of his coming a second time to judge the world, at the last day; but of his coming in his kingdom and glory, which they had observed him some little time before to speak of; declaring that some present should not die, till they saw it: wherefore they wanted to be informed, by what sign they might know, when he would set up his temporal kingdom; for since the temple was to be destroyed, they might hope a new one would be built, much more magnificent than this, and which is a Jewish notion; and that a new state of things would commence; the present world, or age, would be at a period; and the world to come, they had so often heard of from the Jewish doctors, would take place; and therefore they ask also, of the sign of the end of the world, or present state of things in the Jewish economy: to this Christ answers, in the latter part of this chapter, though not to the sense in which they put the questions; yet in the true sense of the coming of the son of man, and the end of the world; and in such a manner, as might be very instructive to them, and is to us.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. Matthew 24:4

Keep in mind that the 70 weeks of Daniel prophecy foretold that Messiah would appear in the 70th week. The disciples obviously knew that He had appeared, but may have thought that after the 7 years were over, that Messiah may return to reign in Jerusalem; so Messiah was correcting them, so that they would not be misled by others.

Jewish historian Josephus in his Antiquities 20.8.5 says, “Now, as for the affairs of the Jews, they grew worse and worse continually; for the country was again filled with robbers and impostors, who deluded the multitude.”

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Many shall come in my name. Not in the name or by the authority of Jesus, but in the name of the Messiah, or claiming to be the Messiah.

I am the Messiah. The Messiah was expected at that time. Many would lay claims to being the Messiah, and, as he was universally expected, many would easily be led to believe in them. There is abundant evidence that this was fully accomplished. Josephus informs us that there were many, who pretended to Divine inspiration, deceived the people, leading out numbers of them into the desert. “The land,” says he, “was overrun with magicians, seducers, and impostors, who drew the people after them in multitudes into solitudes and deserts, to see the signs and miracles which they promised to show by the power of God.”

This video shows how the signs that Messiah warned about were fulfilled in the first century.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:5

There were indeed false prophets claiming to represent God in plenty [Josephus War 6.5.2 refers to a “great number of false prophets” who gave false hope to the people]; these tried to initiate various signs to “activate God’s eschatological salvation” [Keener, 567-8], and they did indeed deceive many.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

1. Josephus says, (War, b. ii. c. 13), that there were many who, pretending to Divine inspiration, deceived the people, leading out numbers of them to the desert, pretending that God would there show them the signs of liberty, meaning redemption from the Roman power: and that an Egyptian false prophet led 30,000 men into the desert, who were almost all cut off by Felix. See Acts 21:38. It was a just judgment for God to deliver up that people into the hands of false Christs who had rejected the true one. Soon after our Lord’s crucifixion, Simon Magus appeared, and persuaded the people of Samaria that he was the great power of God, Acts 8:9, Acts 8:10; and boasted among the Jews that he was the son of God.

2. Of the same stamp and character was also Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses.

3. About twelve years after the death of our Lord, when Cuspius Fadus was procurator of Judea, arose an impostor of the name of Theudas, who said he was a prophet, and persuaded a great multitude to follow him with their best effects to the river Jordan, which he promised to divide for their passage; and saying these things, says Josephus, he deceived many: almost the very words of our Lord.

4. A few years afterwards, under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea, impostors of this stamp were so frequent that some were taken and killed almost every day. Josephus. Ant. b. xx. c. 4. and 7.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. This is the first sign, preceding the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem; as there was a general expectation among the Jews of a Messiah; that is, of one that should arise and deliver them from the Roman yoke, which was the common idea tacked to that word; in this period of time, many set up themselves to be deliverers and redeemers of the people of Israel: who had each of them their followers in great numbers, whom they imposed upon, and brought to destruction.

Of this sort was Theudas, not he that Gamaliel speaks of, Acts 5:36 for he was before this time; but one that was in the time of Claudius Caesar, when Cuspius Fadus was governor of Judea; who persuaded a great number to follow him to the river Jordan, which he promised to divide, by a word of command, and give them a passage over; and thereby, as the historian observes1, πολλους ηπατησην, “he deceived many”; which is the very thing that is here predicted: but he and his company were routed Fadus, and his head cut off.

There was another called the Egyptian, mentioned in Acts 21:38 who made an uproar, and led four thousand cut-throats into the wilderness; and this same man persuaded thirty thousand men to follow him to Mount Olivet, promising a free passage into the city; but he being vanquished by Felix, then governor of Judea; fled, and many of his followers were killed and taken: and besides, there were many more magicians and impostors, that pretended to signs and wonders, and promised the people deliverance from their evils, by whom they were imposed upon to their ruin.

There were others also besides these, that set up for deliverers, who called themselves by the name of the Messiah. Among these, we may reckon Simon Magus, who gave out that he was some great one; yea, expressly, that he was the word of God, and the Son of God, which were known names of the Messiah; and Dositheus the Samaritan, asserted himself to be Christ; and also Menander affirmed, that no man could be saved, unless he was baptized in his name; these are instances before the destruction of Jerusalem, and confirm the prophecy here delivered.

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. Matthew 24:6

Tacitus, the Roman historian, says of this period: “It was full of calamities, horrible with battles, rent with seditions, savage in peace itself.” (PNTC)

The Jews suffered tumult under a series of incompetent and insensitive Roman leaders, who did not hesitate to kill people.

  • Caligula tried to erect his statue in the Jewish temple; the Jews resisted.
  • In Caesarea, Jews and Syrians went at each others’ throats for mastery of the city; 20,000 Jews were put to death. Similar bloodshed occurred in Alexandria and Damascus.
  • The Jewish rebellion itself took place in 66 AD.
  • Tacitus in the Annals refers to disturbances, insurrections, war, and commotions in as diverse places as Germany, Africa, Gaul, Parthia, Britain, and Armenia.
  • Josephus says that Roman civil wars in this era were so common that he didn’t see a need to write about them in detail. The Roman civil wars were especially pronounced between 68-70 when three emperors held the top spot in short order and their rival troops fought it out.

After our Savior’s ascension, the seditions amongst the Jews were so many; and they rebelled so often against the Romans, during the governments of Felix, Festus, Albinus, and Florus, that the Romans resolved wholly to destroy them, and to that purpose Titus Vespasian was sent with an army against them, who took the city.

These verses refer to the wars between the Romans and their vassal states, as well as the skirmishes between Rome and Judaea, which culminated in AD 70 [Otho v. Vitellius v. Vespasian; The sedition under Cureanus, the 10,000 destroyed by cut-throats, in Ascalon, Ptolemais, Alexandria, Damascus, etc.  (FNL)

Again, Messiah was explaining what the disciples and early church would see, not what people would see in the end times.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

And ye shall hear of wars, etc. It is recorded in the history of Rome, that the most violent agitations prevailed in the Roman empire previous to the destruction of Jerusalem. Four emperors, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, suffered violent deaths, in the short space of eighteen months. In consequence of these changes in the government, there were commotions throughout the empire, Parties were formed; and bloody and violent wars were the consequence of attachment to the particular emperors. This is the more remarkable, as at the time that the prophecy was made the empire was in a state of peace.

Rumours of wars. Wars declared, or threatened, but not carried into execution. Josephus says, that Bardanes, and after him Volageses, declared war against the Jews, but it was not carried into execution, Ant. 20,34. He also says that Vitellius, governor of Syria, declared war against Aretas, king of Arabia, and wished to lead his army through Palestine; but the death of Tiberius prevented the war, Ant. 18,5,3.

The end is not yet. The end of the Jewish economy; the destruction of Jerusalem will not immediately follow. Be not, therefore, alarmed when you hear of those commotions. Other signs will warn you when to be alarmed, and seek security.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars,… This is the second sign of the destruction of Jerusalem: it is observable that this, and some of the following signs, are given by the Jews, as signs of the Messiah’s coming; whereas they were forerunners of their ruin, for the rejection of him who was already come. They suppose the Messiah will come in the seventh year, or the year of rest and release:

“On the seventh year (they say1) will be מלחמות, “wars”: and in the going out, or at the close of the seventh year, the son of David will come.”

Which wars, the gloss says, will be between the nations of the world, and Israel. Here wars may mean the commotions, insurrections, and seditions, against the Romans, and their governors; and the intestine slaughters committed among them, some time before the siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of it. Under Cureanus the Roman governor, a sedition was raised on the day of the passover, in which twenty thousand perished; after that, in another tumult, ten thousand were destroyed by cut-throats: in Ascalon two thousand more, in Ptolemais two thousand, at Alexandria fifty thousand, at Damascus ten thousand, and elsewhere in great numbers. The Jews were also put into great consternation, upon hearing the design of the Roman emperor, to put up his image in their temple:

see that ye be not troubled; so as to leave the land of Judea as yet, and quit the preaching of the Gospel there, as if the final destruction was just at hand;

for all these things must come to pass; these wars and the reports of them and the panic on account of them; these commotions and slaughters, and terrible devastations by the sword must be; being determined by God, predicted by Christ, and brought upon the Jews by their own wickedness; and suffered in righteous judgment, for their sin:

but the end is not yet; meaning not the end of the world, but the end of Jerusalem, and the temple, the end of the Jewish state; which were to continue, and did continue after these disturbances in it.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. Matthew 24:7

Acts 11:27-29 alludes to the famine in the time of Claudius. Tacitus speaks of signs in the form of “repeated earthquakes,” a shortage of grain resulting in famine (at one point Rome had only 15 days’ worth of food); Josephus reports of famine during the siege of Jerusalem; the earthquake in Philippi (Acts 16); Pompeii suffered quakes as a preliminary to the eruption of Vesuvius; Josephus reports a severe earthquake in Judea, and quakes were reported by secular historians as occurring throughout the Greco-Roman world.

Famines are the natural result of civil wars. Tacitus, the Roman historian, says of this period: “It was full of calamities, horrible with battles, rent with seditions, savage in peace itself.” (PNTC)

In addition, many famines, pestilences, and earthquakes hit the Roman Empire from the time Messiah spoke these words to the destruction of Jerusalem [including the earthquake at Messiah’s death and the famine predicted by Agabus in Acts].  Some of the recorded earthquakes during this time include:

At Rome in 51 A.D.; at Phlegon in Asia Minor in 60 A.D.;  in Campania and in Crete in 63 A.D.; and also in Phrygia, Apanea, Laodicea and again in Campania (according to Tacitus and Suetonius). Indeed, in the decade 60-70 A.D. alone, earthquakes were recorded as having occurred in: Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judaea. Also, those of Herculaneum and Pompeii would soon follow [footnote 3076]. (FNL)

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. At Caesarea, the Jews and Syrians contended about the right to the city, and twenty thousand of the Jews were slain. At this blow the whole nation of the Jews was exasperated, and carried war and desolation through the Syrian cities and villages. Sedition and civil war spread throughout Judea; Italy was also thrown into civil war, by the contests between Otho and Vitellius for the crown.

And there shall be famines. There was a famine foretold by Agabus, Acts 11:28, which is mentioned as having occurred, by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Eusebius; and which was so severe in Jerusalem, Josephus says, that many people perished for want of food, Ant. 20, 2. Four times in the reign of Claudius, (AD 41-54,) famine prevailed in Rome, Palestine, and Greece.

Pestilences. Raging, epidemic diseases. The plague, sweeping off multitudes of people at once. It is commonly the attendant of famine, and often produced by it. A pestilence is recorded as raging in Babylonia, AD 40, (Joseph. Ant. 18, 9, 8) in Italy, AD 66, (Tacitus, 16, 13.) Both of these took place before the destruction of Jerusalem.

Earthquakes. In prophetic language, earthquakes sometimes mean political commotions. Literally, they are tremors or shakings of the earth, and often shaking cities and towns to ruin. The earth opens, and houses and people sink indiscriminately to destruction. Many of these are mentioned as preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. Tacitus mentions one in the reign of Claudius, at Rome; and says that, in the reign of Nero, the cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse, were overthrown; and the celebrated Pompeii was overwhelmed, and almost destroyed by an earthquake, Annales, 15, 22.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

This seems to be a distinct and third sign, foreboding the general calamity of the Jews; that there should be not only seditions and intestine wars, in the midst of their country, but there should be wars in other nations, one with another; and with the Jews, and the Jews with them: and this also is made a sign of the Messiah’s coming by them, for so they say;

“when thou seest kingdoms stirred up one against another”, look for the feet of the Messiah: know thou that so it shall be; for so it was in the days of Abraham: by the means of kingdoms stirred up one against another, redemption came to Abraham.”

Poor blinded creatures! when these very things were the forerunners of their destruction. And so it was, the Jewish nation rose up against others, the Samaritans, Syrians, and Romans: there were great commotions in the Roman empire, between Otho and Vitellius, and Vitellius and Vespasian; and at length the Romans rose up against the Jews, under the latter, and entirely destroyed them; compare the writings in 2 Esdras:

And one shall undertake to fight against another, one city against another, one place against another, one people against another, and one realm against another.” (2 Esdras 13:31)

the beginning of sorrows and great mournings; the beginning of famine and great death; the beginning of wars, and the powers shall stand in fear; the beginning of evils! what shall I do when these evils shall come?” (2 Esdras 16:18)

Therefore when there shall be seen earthquakes and uproars of the people in the world:” (2 Esdras 9:3)

And there shall be famines: a fourth sign of the desolation of the city and temple, and which the Jews also say, shall go before the coming of the Messiah:

“in the second year (of the week of years) in which the son of David comes, they say2, there will be “arrows of famine” sent forth; and in the third year “a great famine”: and men, women, and children, and holy men, and men of business, shall die.”

But these have been already; they followed the Messiah, and preceded their destruction: one of these famines was in Claudius Caesar’s time, was foretold by Agabus, and is mentioned in Acts 11:28 and most dreadful ones there were, whilst Jerusalem was besieged, and before its utter ruin, related by Josephus.

And pestilences: a pestilence is described by the Jews after this manner:

“a city that produces a thousand and five hundred footmen, as Cephar Aco, and nine dead men are carried out of it in three days, one after another, lo! זה דבר, “this is a pestilence”; but if in one day, or in four days, it is no pestilence; and a city that produces five hundred footmen, as Cephar Amiko, and three dead men are carried out of it in three days, one after another, lo! this is a pestilence.”

These commonly attend famines, and are therefore mentioned together; and when the one was, the other may be supposed sooner or later to be:

and earthquakes in divers places of the world; as, at Crete, and in divers cities in Asia, in the times of Nero: particularly the three cities of Phrygia, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse; which were near to each other, and are all said to perish this way, in his reign; “and Rome itself felt a tremor, in the reign of Galba.”

All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24:8

These were just initial signs, which increased in intensity towards 66 A.D., when the tribulation in Judea increased dramatically.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Far heavier calamities are yet to come before the end.

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. Matthew 24:9

Messiah is telling His disciples that they would be afflicted and killed; and the historical record proves that was the case.

They were first persecuted by the Jewish leaders, then by the Roman leaders, and the people in the many nations of the Roman Empire.

For the Jews after the ascension of our Savior, in addition to their crime against Him, had been devising as many plots as they could against His apostles. The disciples were beaten by Jewish leaders for preaching the Gospel.

First Stephen was stoned to death by them, and after him James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, was beheaded, and finally James, the first that had obtained the episcopal seat in Jerusalem after the ascension of our Saviour, died in the manner already described.

Herod Agrippa, governor of Judea, with a view to ingratiate himself with the Jews , raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow, by striking at their leaders.

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also.” Acts 12:1-3

Tacitus and Josephus confirm persecution of the saints, and the social background data provided by Meeks’ The First Urban Christians tells us enough about why.

James the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of John, and a relative of our Lord, was beheaded.

James the Just, the man who was fitted, if any could be, to reconcile the Jews to the Christian religion, had been stoned by his hardened brethren, for whom he daily interceded in the temple;  At the age of ninety-four he was beat and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club.

Peter and Paul were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.

Andrew is said to have been crucified in Greece. He was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew’s Cross.

“Doubting” Thomas – Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.

Philip – The Roman proconsul had Philip arrested. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified, A.D. 54.

Matthew – Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, A.D. 60.

Bartholomew – There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.  He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.

James the son of Alpheus – The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.

Simon the Zealot –  He was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.  It is reported that he was crucified in Britain in A.D. 74.

Matthias – Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by stoning.

Mark – He was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, at the great solemnity of Serapis their idol, ending his life under their merciless hands.

Luke – He is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece.

Jude – The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa, A.D. 72.

Judas (not Iscariot) – Was stoned to death.

John – An early Latin tradition has him escaping unhurt after being cast into boiling oil at Rome.  He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

To be afflicted. By persecution, imprisonment, scourging, etc. “They shall deliver you up to councils,” Mark 13:9: to the great council, or sanhedrim–for this is the word in the original. Cmt. on Matthew 5:22. This was fulfilled when Peter and John were brought before the council, Acts 4:5-7. Mark further adds, Mark 13:9 that they should be delivered to synagogues and to prisons to be beaten, and should be brought before rulers and kings for his name’s sake. All this was remarkably fulfilled. Peter and John were imprisoned, Acts 4:3; Paul and Silas also, Acts 16:24. They were also beaten, (Acts 16:23.) Paul was brought before Gallio, Acts 18:12; before Felix, Acts 24:24; and before Agrippa, Acts 25:23.

And shall kill you. That is, shall kill some of you. Stephen was stoned, Acts 7:59; James was killed by Herod, Acts 12:2, and in addition to all that the sacred writers have told us, the persecution under Nero took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, in which were put to death, with many others, Peter and Paul. Most of the apostles, it is believed, died by persecution. When they were delivered up, Jesus told them not to premeditate what they should say, for he would give them a mouth of wisdom, which all their adversaries could not gainsay or resist, Luke 21:14-15. The fulfillment of this is recorded in the case of Stephen, Ac 6:10; and of Paul, who made Felix tremble, Acts 24:25.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake; as the apostles and first Christians were, both by Jews and Gentiles; the latter being stirred up against them by the former, wherever they came, and for no other reason, but because they professed and preached in the name of Christ, as the Acts of the Apostles show: and their hatred proceeded so far, as to charge all their calamities upon them; as war, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, etc. as the apologies of the first Christians declare.

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. Matthew 24:10

Again Messiah is telling His disciples what they would face before the desolation of the temple. Being a follower of Messiah in the culture of Judaism, invited persecution even from family members.

Luke 21:16 adds, “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And then shall many be offended,… That is, many who had been hearers of the apostles, and professors of the Christian religion; who were highly pleased with it, and were strenuous advocates for it, whilst things were tolerably quiet and easy; but when they saw the apostles, some of them beaten, and imprisoned; others put to death, and others forced to fly from place to place; and persecutions and affliction, because of Christ and his Gospel, likely to befall themselves, would be discouraged hereby, and stumble at the cross; and fall off from the faith of the Gospel, and the profession of it:

and shall betray one another; meaning, that the apostates, who would fall off from the Christian religion, would prove treacherous to true believers, and give in their names to the persecutors, or inform them where they were, that they might take them, or deliver them into their hands themselves: these are the false brethren, the Apostle Paul was in perils among:

and shall hate one another; not that the true Christians should hate these false brethren, any more than betray them; for they are taught to love all men, even their enemies; but these apostates should hate them, in whose communion they before were, and to whom they belonged; and even to a very great degree of hatred, as it often is seen, that such who turn their backs on Christ, and his Gospel, prove the most bitter enemies, and most violent persecutors of its preachers and followers.

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:11

Our Savior foresaw, that when that time should come there would be some vain persons full of stomach for their liberties, that would be prophesying their deliverance, and encouraging them to hold out to the last. He warns his disciples to give no credit to them, for God would certainly deliver the city into their hands; therefore he advises them, as soon as they should see the city besieged, they should all shift for themselves as first as they could, for there was no true ground to hope for any deliverance. The time of God’s vengeance was come, when God would most certainly fulfill against that place whatsoever he had foretold against it. (PM)

Acts 13:6 confirms it too, “And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:”

2 Timothy 2:16-17 speaks about two false teachers, Hymenaeus and Philetus; “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;”

1 John 4:1 confirms that this was happening, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

The 1st century Jews, having rejected Messiah, were deluded by a great number of false prophets. Josephus tells us in “Wars,” Book 6, Chapter 5, paragraphs 2,3,4, that they refused great signs and warnings from God of their impending doom and believed their false prophets, and that not one escaped with their life who had obeyed a false prophet’s proclamation “that God commanded them to get up upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance.” (PM)

Josephus continues: “Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but like men infatuated, without either eyes to see, or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. (PM)

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

And many false prophets. Many men, pretending to be prophets, or foretellers of future events. This refers not to the false Messiahs of which he had spoken, Matthew 24:6 but to prophets who should appear during the siege of the city. Of them Josephus says, “The tyrannical zealots who ruled the city suborned many false prophets to declare that aid would be given to the people from heaven. This was done to prevent them from attempting to desert, and to inspire confidence in God.” See Jewish Wars, book vi., Chap. 5, & 2, 3.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And many false prophets shall rise,… Out of, from among the churches of Christ; at least under the name of Christians; for false teachers are here meant, men of heretical principles, pretending to a spirit of prophecy, and to new revelations, and a better understanding of the Scriptures; such as Simon Magus, Ebion, and Cerinthus, who denied the proper deity, and real humanity of Christ; Carpocrates, and the Gnostics his followers, the Nicolaitans, Hymcneus, Philetus, and others:

and shall deceive many: as they all of them had their followers, and large numbers of them, whose faith was subverted by them; and who followed their pernicious ways, being imposed upon and seduced by their fair words, specious pretences, and licentious practices.

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matthew 24:12

In Revelation 2:4, Messiah proclaimed to the Ephesus Church era, which existed in the first century, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”

Due to persecution and maybe even disillusionment because Messiah had not returned for them, many lost their love and zeal.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

The word iniquity here seems to include the cruelty of the Jews and Romans in their persecutions; the betraying of Christians by those who professed to be such; and the pernicious errors of false prophets and others. The effect of all this would be, that the ardour of feeling of many Christians would be lessened. The word wax means to become. It is an old Saxon word, not used now in this sense, except in the Bible. The fear of death, and the deluding influence of false teachers, would lessen the zeal of many timid and weak professors; perhaps also of many real but feeble Christians.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And because iniquity shall abound,… Meaning, either the malice and wickedness of outrageous persecutors, which should greatly increase; or the treachery and hatred of the apostates; or the errors and heresies of false teachers; or the wickedness that prevailed in the lives and conversations of some, that were called Christians: for each of these seem to be hinted at in the context, and may be all included, as making up the abounding iniquity here spoken of; the consequence of which would be,

the love of many shall wax cold. This would be the case of many, but not of all; for in the midst of this abounding iniquity, there were some, the ardour of whose love to Christ, to his Gospel, and to the saints, did not abate: but then there were many, whose zeal for Christ, through the violence of persecution, was greatly damped; and through the treachery of false brethren, were shy of the saints themselves, not knowing who to trust; and through the principles of the false teachers, the power of godliness, and the vital heat of religion, were almost lost; and through a love of the world, and of carnal ease and pleasure, love to the saints was grown very chill, and greatly left; as the instances of Demas, and those that forsook the Apostle Paul, at his first answer before Nero, show. This might be true of such, who were real believers in Christ; who might fall under great decays, through the prevalence of iniquity; since it does not say their love shall be lost, but wax cold.

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 24:13

This can have two meanings.  First, that those who endured in their faith, even under persecution and being killed for their faith, would be saved.

Secondly, that the believers who endured until the end of the Roman siege would be saved.  Some believers were taken captive by the Jews and held until the end, when their captors suddenly surrendered to the Roman army. Titus took the captors prisoner, but let the believers go free.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

He that shall endure unto the end–shall be saved. The word “end” here has by some been thought to mean the destruction of Jerusalem, or the end of the Jewish economy. And the meaning has been supposed to be, he that perseveres in bearing these persecutions to the end of the wars shall be safe. God will protect his people from harm, so that not a hair of the head shall perish. Others, with more probability, have referred this to final salvation, and refer the “end” to the close of life. He that bears afflictions and persecutions faithfully–that constantly adheres to his religion, and does not shrink till death–shall be saved, or shall enter heaven.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

But he that shall endure to the end,… In the profession of faith in Christ, notwithstanding the violent persecutions of wicked men; and in the pure and incorrupt doctrines of the Gospel, whilst many are deceived by the false teachers that shall arise; and in holiness of life and conversation, amidst all the impurities of the age; and shall patiently bear all afflictions, to the end of his life, or to the end of sorrows, of which the above mentioned were the beginning:

the same shall be saved; with a temporal salvation, when Jerusalem, and the unbelieving inhabitants of it shall be destroyed: for those that believed in Christ, many of them, through persecution, were obliged to remove from thence; and others, by a voice from heaven, were bid to go out of it, as they did; and removed to Pella, a village a little beyond Jordan1, and so were preserved from the general calamity; and also with an everlasting salvation, which is the case of all that persevere to the end, as all true believers in Christ will.

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. Matthew 24:14

Messiah Himself confirmed after His resurrection, when His disciples brought up the same question concerning the restoring of the kingdom to Israel, He turned their minds from that subject, and said,

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Mathew 28:19-20

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

He is telling them that they would receive the Spirit and that they would be witnesses until all the nations of the Roman Empire.

Then at Pentecosts, Jews who were out of every nation, were saved:

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” Act 2:5

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:9-11

The promise of salvation was given to the Jews first. 3,000 Jews believed on Messiah on the day of Pentecost, who then took it back to their nations.

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”Acts 2:39, 41, 47

But we need to look behind a key word: world — this time, it isn’t aion, and it also isn’t kosmos, the word which indicates the broadest possible connotations.  This time, it is oikoumene, a word used to express only the Roman Empire (cf. Acts 11:28, Luke 2:1).

It is significant that this is the only place Matthew uses this word; he has selected it carefully as a geographical delimitation; it is also significant that he has used this word rather than kosmos as he did with reference to the spreading of the Gospel correspondent with the separation of the justified and the wicked. The gospel had to be preached to the Roman Empire as a whole before the end of the age.

Marks recording of the Olivet Discourse says nations, not the whole world, as in the whole earth.

Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

The Greek word for publish is kerusso which means: to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel):—preacher(-er), proclaim, publish.

The four Gospels were written (published) before the desolation of the temple, and copies were made and spread around to the different cities where the Gospel had been preached and assemblies had been created.

“End” = end of that age and of the City of Jerusalem [The Jewish state, City, and Temple], NOT the end of the world. (FNL)

Was this fulfilled? Let’s look at Scripture references to show the spread of the Gospel:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” Romans 1:8

But I say, Have they not heard (the Gospel)? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” Romans 10:18

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:” Romans 16:25-26

Upon the Apostle Stephen’s stoning, a great persecution was raised against all who professed their belief in the Messiah. We are immediately told by St. Luke, that “there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem;” and that “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

An early legend says they cast lots and divided up the world to determine who would go where, so all could hear about Messiah. They suffered greatly for their faith and in most cases met violent deaths on account of their bold witness.

Peter undertook a missionary journey to Lydda, Joppa and Caesarea.

Andrew went to the “land of the man-eaters,” in what is now the Soviet Union. Believers there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece.

“Doubting” Thomas was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as Parthia and India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder.

Philip preached in many villages of Samaria and the cities of Caesarea. He possibly had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul.

Matthew the tax collector and writer of a Gospel, ministered in Persia and Ethiopia.

Bartholomew had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.

James the son of Alpheus, is one of at least three James referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria.

Simon the Zealot, so the story goes, ministered in Persia.  Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain

Matthias was the apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew.

John was the leader of the church in the Ephesus area and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Messiah in his home. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him.

Luke – The evangelist, was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries.

In the book of Revelation, Messiah addressed the established assemblies of beleivers of Ephesus, Pergamos, Smyrna, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea; which were all in the Roman province of Asia.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

And this gospel–shall be preached in all the world. The evidence that this was done is to be chiefly derived from the New Testament, and there it is clear. Thus Paul declares that it was preached to every creature under heaven, Colossians 1:6,23 that the faith of the Romans was spoken of throughout rite whole world, Romans 1:8 that he preached in Arabia, Galations 1:17 and at Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, Romans 15:19. We know also that he travelled through Asia Minor, Greece, and Crete; that he was in Italy, and probably in Spain and Gaul, Romans 15:24-28. At the same time, the other apostles were not idle; and there is full proof that within thirty years after this prophecy was spoken, churches were established in all these regions.

For a witness unto all nations. This preaching the gospel indiscriminately to all the Gentiles shall be a proof to them, or a witness, that the division between the Jews and Gentiles was about to be broken down. Hitherto the blessings of revelation had been confined to the Jews. They were the peculiar people of God. His messages had been sent to them only. When, therefore, God sent the gospel to all other people, it was proof, or a witness unto them, that the peculiar Jewish economy was at an end.

Then shall the end come. The end of the Jewish economy. The destruction of the temple and city.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And this Gospel of the kingdom,… Which Christ himself preached, and which he called and sent his apostles to preach, in all the cities of Judah; by which means men were brought into the kingdom of the Messiah, or Gospel dispensation; and which treated both of the kingdom of grace and glory, and pointed out the saints’ meetness for the kingdom of heaven, and their right unto it, and gives the best account of the glories of it:

shall be preached in all the world; not only in Judea, where it was now confined, and that by the express orders of Christ himself; but in all the nations of the world, for which the apostles had their commission enlarged, after our Lord’s resurrection; when they were bid to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and when the Jews put away the Gospel from them, they accordingly turned to the Gentiles; and before the destruction of Jerusalem, it was preached to all the nations under the heavens; and churches were planted in most places, through the ministry of it:

for a witness unto all nations; meaning either for a witness against all such in them, as should reject it; or as a testimony of Christ and salvation, unto all such as should believe in him:

and then shall the end come; not the end of the world, as the Ethiopic version reads it, and others understand it; but the end of the Jewish state, the end of the city and temple: so that the universal preaching of the Gospel all over the world, was the last criterion and sign, of the destruction of Jerusalem; and the account of that itself next follows, with the dismal circumstances which attended it.

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:) Matthew 24:15

Daniel 9:26-27 foretold that the ‘people of the prince‘, that is the pagan Roman army of Prince Titus, who were an abomination to the Jews; would come and desolate the city and temple; just as Messiah had just proclaimed.

and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. …and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Luke 21:20 defined what the abomination of desolation was, the Roman army surrounding the holy city of Jerusalem;  to desolate the temple, city and Jews.

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”

The sign occurred in 66 A.D., when the first division of the Roman army led by Cestius surrounded the city, built ramps up the walls, and was about to take it captive.

Then for no reason (other than the hand of Elohim), Jewish historian Josephus documents that they suddenly left.

The Early Church leaders obviously had seen the sign and once the Roman army was gone, they fled to the Mountains of Pella.

The Jews were emboldened by the Roman army leaving, believing that God had intervened and protected them; so they stayed, much to their demise.

The next division of Roman army led by Titus surrounded the city, and stayed there until the temple was desolated, and 1.1. million Jews lay dead in and around Jerusalem.

Click here for a study that explains the Abomination of Desolation in more detail.

Luke 21:22 tells us why the Roman army would surround the Holy city of Jerusalem.

For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

Read the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah to see the harsh words that the Father proclaimed against the wicked and idolatrous Jews.

Read Matthew 23 to see what Messiah said about the Jewish leaders, proclaiming that they were serpents and vipers, who were guilty of shedding the prophets blood.

Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Matthew 24:16

We are not in Judea, how can this apply to us?

It doesn’t.  It applied to followers of Messiah who lived in Judea in 66 A.D.

Josephus records that early in the war the Roman commander Cestius withdrew his troops from around Jerusalem, “without any reason in the world.” (War 2.19.7)

The Jews took this chance to harry the Roman troops; alert believers used the time to flee the city.

Josephus documents that not one follower of Messiah was killed, as they had heeded the sign and fled to the mountains, as Messiah told them to.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Then let them, etc. Then Christians may know that the end is come, and should seek a place of safety. Destruction would not only visit the city, but would extend to the surrounding part of Judea.

The mountains. The mountains of Palestine abound in caves, a safe retreat for those pursued. In all ages these caves were the favourite places of robbers; and were also resorted to by those in danger, 1 Samuel 13:6; 22:1; 2 Samuel 23:13; Joshua 10:16. In those mountains they would be safe.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Then let them which be in Judea,… When this signal is given, let it be taken notice of and observed; let them that are in the city of Jerusalem, depart out of it; or who are in any other parts of Judea, in any of the towns, or cities thereof; let them not betake themselves to Jerusalem, imagining they may be safe there, in so strong and fortified a place, but let them flee elsewhere; see Luke 21:21 and accordingly it is observed, that many did flee about this time; and it is remarked by several interpreters, and which Josephus takes notice of with surprise, that Cestius Gallus having advanced with his army to Jerusalem, and besieged it, on a sudden, without any cause, raised the siege, and withdrew his army, when the city might have been easily taken; by which means a signal was made; and an opportunity given to the Christians, to make their escape: which they accordingly did, and went over Jordan, as Eusebius says, to a place called Pella; so that when Titus came a few mouths after, there was not a Christian in the city, but they had fled as they are here bidden to

flee into the mountains; or any places of shelter and refuge: these are mentioned particularly, because they are usually such; and design either the mountains in Judea, or in the adjacent countries. The Syriac and Persic versions read in the singular number, “into the mountain”; and it is reported that many of them did fly, particularly to Mount Libanus.

Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Matthew 24:17

The flat roofs were sleeping places. All must be done without a moment’s delay. (PNTC)

The coming down from the housetop is in line with the Ancient Near Eastern practice of living and working on a flat roof.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Him which is on the housetop. The roofs of the houses in eastern countries were made flat, so that they were favourable places for walking and retirement. The meaning here is, that he who should be on the house-top when this calamity came upon the city, should flee without delay; he should not even take time to secure any article of apparel from his house. So sudden would be the calamity, that by doing it he would endanger his life.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Let him which is on the housetop,… Who should be there either for his devotion or recreation; for the houses of the Jews were built with flat roofs and battlements about them, which they made use of both for diversion and pleasure, and for private meditation and prayer, for social conversation, and sometimes for public preaching; see Matthew 10:27

not come down to take anything out of his house: that is, let him not come down in the inner way, but by the stairs, or ladder, on the outside of the house, which was usual. They had two ways of going out of, and into their houses; the one they call1, דרך פתחים, “the way of the doors”; the other, דרך גגין, “the way of the roof”: upon which the gloss is,

“to go up on the outside, דרך פולם, “by way” or “means” of a ladder, fixed at the entrance of the door of the upper room, and from thence he goes down into the house by a ladder;”

and in the same way they could come out; see Mark 2:4 and let him not go into his house to take any of his goods, or money, or food along with him necessary for his sustenance in his flight; lest, whilst he is busy in taking care of these, he loses his life, or, at least, the opportunity of making his escape; so sudden is this desolation represented to be.

Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. Matthew 24:18

Messiah continued to emphasize the urgency of leaving Judea after the sign of the Abomination of Desolation, after the Roman army left.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Return back to take his clothes. His clothes which, in working, he had laid aside; or which in fleeing he should throw off as an incumbrance. Clothes here means the outer garment, commonly laid aside when men worked, or ran. Cmt. on Mt 5:40.

These directions were followed. It is said that the Christians, warned by these predictions, fled from the city to Pella, and other places beyond Jordan; so that there is not evidence that a single Christian perished in Jerusalem. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., lib. 3, ch. 6

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Neither let him which is in the field,… Ploughing, or sowing, or employed in any other parts of husbandry, or rural business,

return back to take clothes; for it was usual to work in the fields without their clothes, as at ploughing and sowing.

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! Matthew 24:19

Woe to them with child. Because not fit for flight and the hardships that must be endured. PNTC

When Messiah was being led to the cross, he said, “But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” Luke 23:28

Luke proclaims that there will be great wrath on this people, the Jews; which history proves that this was fulfilled as hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed by the Roman sword and 97,000 were sold as slaves.

But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations…” Luke 21:23-24

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And woe unto them that are with child,… Not that it should be criminal for them to be with child, or a judgment on them; for it was always esteemed a blessing to be fruitful, and bear children: but this expresses the miserable circumstances such would be in, who, by reason of their heavy burdens, would not be able to make so speedy a flight, as the case would require; or would be obliged to stay at home, and endure all the miseries of the siege: so that these words, as the following are not expressive of sin, or punishment, but of pity and concern for their misery and distress:

and to them that give suck in those days; whose tender affection to their infants will not suffer them to leave them behind them; and yet such their weakness, that they will not be able to carry them with them; at least, they must be great hindrances to their speedy flight. So that the case of these is much worse than that of men on the house top, or in the field, who could much more easily leave their goods and clothes, than these their children, as well as had more agility and strength of body to flee. So “women with child, and that give suck”; are mentioned together in the Jewish writings, as such as were excused from certain fasts, though obliged to others.

Luke 21:23 added that there would be great distress to come on the Jews.

But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.”

But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: Matthew 24:20

The Jewish leaders of Messiah’s day did observe the Sabbath, and they would have closed the gates of the city and prevented anyone from leaving the city on the Sabbath.

Those words show clearly that He was speaking of a time when the stringent Rabbinical rules concerning the distance that might be traversed on the Sabbath day would be still in force. That remark fixes the time with certainty as previous to the destruction of Jerusalem. (PM)

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

But pray ye, etc. The destruction was certainly coming. It could not be prevented. Yet it was right to pray for a mitigation of the circumstances, that it might be as mild as possible. So we know that calamity is before us; sickness, pain, and bereavement, and death, are in our path; yet though we know that these things must come upon us, it is right to pray that they may come in as mild a manner as may be consistent with the will of God. We must die; but it is right to pray that the pains of our dying may be neither long nor severe.

In the winter. On account of the cold, storms, etc. To be turned, then from home, and compelled to take up all abode in caverns, would be a double calamity.

Neither on the sabbath day. Journeys were prohibited by the law on the sabbath, Exodus 16:29. The law of Moses did not mention the distance to which persons might go on the sabbath; but most of the Jews maintained that it should not be more than two thousand cubits. Some supposed that it was seven furlongs, or nearly a mile. This distance was allowed, in order that they might go to their places of worship. Most of them held that it was not lawful to go farther, under any circumstances of war or affliction. Jesus teaches them to pray that it might not be on the sabbath, because if they should not go farther than a sabbath-day’s journey, they would not be beyond the reach of danger; and if they did, they would be exposed to the charge of violating the law. It should be added, that it was almost impracticable to travel in Judea on that day, as the gates of the cities were usually closed, Nehemiah 13:19-22.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter,… When days are short, and unfit for long journeys, and roads are bad, and sometimes not passable, through large snows, or floods of water; and when to dwell in desert places, and lodge in mountains, must be very uncomfortable: wherefore Christ directs to pray to God, who has the disposal of all events, and of the timing of them, that he would so order things in the course of his providence, that their flight might not be in such a season of the year, when travelling would be very difficult and troublesome. Dr. Lightfoot observes, from a Jewish writer, that it is remarked as a favour of God in the destruction of the first temple, that it happened in the summer, and not in winter; whose words are these:

“God vouches  a great favour to Israel, for they ought to have gone out of the land on the tenth day of the month Tebeth; as he saith Ezekiel 24:2 “son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day”: what then did the Lord, holy and blessed? If they shall now go out in the winter, (saith he,) they will all die; therefore he prolonged the time to them, and carried them away in summer.”

And since therefore they received such a favour from him at the destruction of the first temple, there was encouragement to pray to him, that they might be indulged with the like favour when Jerusalem should be besieged again:

neither on the sabbath day: the word “day” is not in the Greek text; and some have been of opinion, that the “sabbatical year”, or the seventh year, is meant, when no fruits would be found in the fields, and a great scarcity of provisions among people; who would not have a sufficiency, and much less any to spare to strangers fleeing from their native places; but rather the sabbath day, or “day of the sabbath”, as the Persic version reads it, is designed; and Beza says, four of his copies read it in the genitive case: and so four of Stephens’s. And the reason why our Lord put them on praying, that their flight might not be on the sabbath day, was, because he knew not only that the Jews, who believed not in him, would not suffer them to travel on a sabbath day more than two thousand cubits; which, according to their traditions, was a sabbath day’s journey; and which would not be sufficient for their flight to put them out of danger; but also, that those that did believe in him, particularly the Jerusalem Jews, would be all of them fond of the law of Moses, and scrupulous of violating any part of it, and especially that of the sabbath; see Acts 21:20. And though the Jews did allow, that the sabbath might be violated where life was in danger, and that it was lawful to defend themselves against an enemy on the sabbath day; yet this did not universally obtain; and it was made a question of, after the time of Christ, whether it was lawful to flee from danger on the sabbath day; of which take the following account4.

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21

Jewish historian Josephus documented the time of great tribulation from 66-70 A.D., in and around the city of Jerusalem.

“It had come to pass that our city Jerusalem had arrived at a higher degree of felicity than any other city under the Roman government, and yet at last fell into the sorest of calamities again. Accordingly it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to those of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were.”

Josephus, in describing it, uses almost the very words of our Saviour. All the calamities, says he, which had befallen any nation from the beginning of the world, were but small in comparison with those of the Jews. Jewish Wars, book i., preface,  4.

He has given the following account of one part of the massacre when the city was taken: “And now rushing into the city, they slew whomsoever they found, without distinction, and burnt the houses and all the people who had fled into them. And when they entered for the sake of plunder, they found whole families of dead persons, and houses full of carcasses destroyed by famine; then they came out with their hands empty.

And though they thus pitied the dead, they had not the same emotion for the living, but killed all they met, whereby they filled the lanes with dead bodies. The whole city ran with blood, insomuch that many things which were burning were extinguished by the blood.” Jewish Wars, book vi. chap. 8,  5; chap. 9,  2, 3.

He adds, that in the siege of Jerusalem, not fewer than eleven hundred thousand perished (Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. 9,  3)–a number almost as great as are in the whole city of London. In the adjacent provinces no fewer than two hundred and fifty thousand are reckoned to have been slain; making in all whose deaths were ascertained, the almost incredible number of one million three hundred and fifty thousand, who were put to death. These were not indeed all slain with the sword.

Many were crucified. “Many hundreds,” says he, (Jewish Wars, book vi. Chap. xi Chap. xi. 1) “were first whipped, then tormented with various kinds of tortures, and finally crucified: the Roman soldiers nailing them (out of the wrath and hatred they bore to the Jews) one after one way, and another after another, to crosses, by way of jest, until at length the multitude became so great that room was wanting for crosses, and crosses for the bodies.”

So terribly was their imprecation fulfilled–“His blood be on us, and on our children,” Matthew 27:25.  If it be asked how it was possible for so many people to be slain in a single city, it is answered, that the siege of Jerusalem commenced during the time of the Passover, it is estimated that more than three millions were usually assembled. See Josephus, Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. ix.,  3, 4.

Click here for a detailed study that explains the fulfillment of the time of Great Tribulation in more detail.

Luke added that the Jews would be killed by the sword, and be led away captive; which Jewish historian Josephus documented; as the Roman army killed hundreds of thousands by the sword, and took 97,000 captive, to be sold as slaved in foreign nations.

And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Luke 21:24

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Matthew 24:22

The last stronghold of Jews was inaccessible to the Romans, but after 45 days of the Roman siege, these Jews suddenly surrendered to the Romans.

This fulfilled the 1,335 days of Daniel 12; as there had been 1,290 days between the time of the Abomination of Desolation when the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem in the fall of 66 A.D.; until the Roman army flooded the city in the spring of 70 A.D.

The siege lasted 45 days and then stopped abruptly, adding up to 1,335 days.

That those days were “shortened” by some Divine interference, is indicated by the abrupt and unexpected manner in which the last stronghold fell. Jewish historian Josephus tells how the “tyrants” (the dominant faction in the city) surrendered, which ended the siege and the bloodshed.

“Did now wholly deprive themselves of the security they had in their own power, and came down from those very towers of their own accord, wherein they could never have been taken by force. …They left those towers of themselves; or rather they were ejected out of them by God Himself.  …The Romans, when they had gotten on the last wall without any bloodshed, could hardly believe what they found to be true” (ibid).

The only extra point is a misinterpretation offered by some Bible versions, which takes the statement of “no flesh” being saved to mean the entire human race.

But this phrase hearkens to Jeremiah 12:12, “The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.” It is used within the context of the limited area of Judah in Jeremiah; thus in Olivet it is likewise restricted.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Except those days should be shortened. If the calamities of the siege should be lengthened out. If famine and war should be suffered to rage.

No flesh be saved. None of the nations would be preserved alive. All the inhabitants of Judea would perish. The war, famine, and pestilence would entirely destroy them.

But for the elect’s sake. The elect here doubtless means Christians. See 1 Peter 1:2; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:4. The word elect means to choose. It is given to Christians because they are “chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” 2 Thessalonians 2:13. It is probable that in Jerusalem and the adjacent parts of Judea, there were many who were true followers of Christ. On their account–to preserve them alive, and to make them the instruments of spreading the gospel he said those days should not be lengthened out, and suffered to produce their destruction. It is related by Josephus, (Jewish Wars, book i. chap. 12, 1,) that Titus at first resolved to reduce the city by famine, he therefore built a wall around it, to keep any provisions from being carried in, and any of the people from going out. The Jews, however, drew up their army near the walls, engaged in battle, and the Romans pursued them, provoked by their attempts, and broke into the city. The affairs of Rome also at that time demanded the presence of Titus there and, contrary to his original intention, he pressed the siege, and took the city by storm–thus shortening the time that would have been occupied in reducing it by famine. This was for the benefit of the “elect.” So the designs of wicked men, intended by them for the destruction of the people of God, are intended by God for the good of his chosen people.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And except those days should be shortened,… That is, those days of tribulation which commenced at the siege of Jerusalem; and therefore cannot refer to the times before it, and the shortening of them by it, which were very dreadful and deplorable through the murders and robberies of the cut-throats and zealots; but to those after the siege began, which were very distressing to those that were within; and which, if they had not been shortened, or if the siege had been lengthened out further,

there should no flesh be saved; not one Jew in the city of Jerusalem would have been saved; they must everyone have perished by famine, or pestilence, or sword, or by the intestine wars and murders among themselves: nor indeed, if the siege had continued, would it have fared better with the inhabitants of the other parts of the country, among whom also many of the same calamities prevailed and spread themselves; so that, in all likelihood, if these days had been continued a little longer, there had not been a Jew left in all the land.

But for the elect’s sake; those who were chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to believe in him, and to be saved by him with an everlasting salvation; both those that were in the city, or, at least, who were to spring from some that were there, as their immediate offspring, or in future ages, and therefore they, and their posterity, must not be cut off; and also those chosen ones, and real believers, who were at Pella, and in the mountains, and other places, for the sake of these, and that they might be delivered from these pressing calamities,

those days shall be shortened: for otherwise, if God had not preserved a seed, a remnant, according to the election of grace, that should be saved, they had been as Sodom and as Gomorrha, not one would have escaped. The shortening of those days is not to be understood literally, as if the natural days, in which this tribulation was, were to be shorter than usual.

But the meaning here is, that the siege of Jerusalem, and the calamities attending it, should be sooner ended: not than God had determined, but than the sin of the Jews deserved, and the justice of God might have required in strict severity, and might be reasonably expected, considering the aggravated circumstances of their iniquities.

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. Matthew 24:23

No doubt Satan caused false messiah’s to rise up, to deceive people about the true Messiah, as His Church was expanding rapidly.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Lo, here is Christ. The Messiah. The Jews expected the Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression. In the time of these great-calamities they would anxiously look for him, Many would claim to be the Messiah. Many would follow them. Many would rejoice to believe that he was come, and would call on others, Christians with the rest, to follow them.

Believe it not. You have evidence that the Messiah has come, and you are not to be deceived by the plausible pretensions of others.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Then if any man shall say unto you,… Either at the time when the siege shall be begun, and the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place; or during the days of tribulation, whilst the siege lasted; or after those days were shortened, and the city destroyed, and the Roman army was gone with their captives: when some, that were scattered up and down in the country, would insinuate to their countrymen, that the Messiah was in such a place: saying,

lo! here is Christ, or there, believe it not; for both during the time of the siege, there were such that sprung up, and pretended to be Messiahs, and deliverers of them from the Roman power, and had their several abettors; one saying he was in such place, and another that he was in such a place; and so spirited up the people not to fly, nor to deliver up the city; and also, after the city was taken and destroyed, one and another set up for the Messiah. Very quickly after, one Jonathan, a very wicked man, led many into the desert of Cyrene, promising to show them signs and wonders, and was overthrown by Catullius, the Roman governor; and after that, in the times of Adrian, the famous Barcochab set up for the Messiah, and was encouraged by R. Akiba, and a multitude of Jews.

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. Matthew 24:24

The elect did not know when Messiah would return, so He was warning them to not be deceived, that He would not return before the desolation of the temple.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

False Christs. Persons claiming to be the Messiah.

False prophets. Persons claiming to be the prophet spoken of by Moses, Deuteronomy 18:15 or persons pretending to declare the way of deliverance from the Romans, and calling the people to follow them. See Matthew 24:5.

Shall shew great signs and wonders. That is, shall pretend to work miracles. Shall so nearly resemble prophets in their miraculous power as to render it difficult to detect the imposture. Josephus represents the false Christs and prophets that appeared, as magicians and sorcerers. He says they led the people out into the deserts, and promised to work miracles to deliver them. Ant., book xx., chap. 8,  6.

If it were possible, they shall deceive, etc. So nearly would their pretended miracles resemble true miracles, as to render it difficult to detect the imposition; and so much so, that if it were possible they would persuade even true Christians that they were the Messiah. But this was not possible. They would be too firmly established in the belief that Jesus was the Christ, to be wholly led away by others. Christians may be sometimes led far astray; they may be in doubt about some great doctrines of religion; they may be perplexed by the cavils and cunning craftiness of those who do not love the truth; but they cannot be wholly deceived, and seduced from the Saviour. Our Saviour says, that if this were possible, it would be done then. But it was not possible.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets,… Such as the above mentioned: these false Christs had their false prophets, who endeavoured to persuade the people to believe them to be the Messiah, as Barcochab had Akiba, who applied many prophecies to him. This man was called Barcochab, which signifies the son of a star, in allusion to Numbers 24:17 he was crowned by the Jews, and proclaimed the Messiah by Akiba; upon which a Roman army was sent against him, and a place called Bitter was besieged, and taken, and he, and a prodigious number of Jews were destroyed. This deceiver was afterwards, by them, called Barcoziba, the son of a lie:

and shall show great signs and wonders; make an appearance of doing them, though they really did them not: so that Jonathan, before mentioned, pretended to show signs and sights; and Barcochab made as if flame came out of his mouth; and many of the Jewish doctors in these times, and following, gave themselves up to sorcery, and the magic art; and are, many of them, often said to be, “expert in wonders”, or miracles:

if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. By whom we are to understand, not the choicest believers, or the persevering Christians: not but that such who are truly converted, are choice believers in Christ, and persevering Christians are undoubtedly the elect of God; but then the reason why they are elect, and why they are so called, is not because they are converted, are choice believers, and persevering Christians; but, on the contrary, the reason why they are converted, become true believers, and persevere to the end, is, because they are elected; conversion, faith, and perseverance being not the causes or conditions, but the fruits and effects of election: besides to talk of the final seduction of a persevering Christian, is a contradiction in terms. Such an interpretation of the phrase must be absurd and impertinent; for who knows not that a persevering Christian cannot be finally and totally deceived? But by the elect are meant, a select number of particular persons of Adam’s posterity, whom God, of his sovereign goodwill and pleasure, without respect to their faith, holiness, and good works, has chosen, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, both to grace and glory: and to deceive these finally and totally, is impossible, as is here suggested; not impossible, considering their own weakness, and the craftiness of deceivers, who, if left to themselves, and the power of such deception, and the working of Satan with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, might easily be seduced; but considering the purposes and promises of God concerning them, the provisions of his grace for them, the security of them in the hands of Christ, and their preservation by the mighty power of God, their final and total deception is not only difficult, but impossible. They may be, and are deceived before conversion; this is one part of their character whilst unregenerate, “foolish, disobedient, deceived”, Titus 3:3 yea, they may be, and oftentimes are, deceived after conversion; but then this is in part only, and not totally; in some lesser, and not in the greater matters of faith; not so as to let go their hold of Christ their head, and quit the doctrine of salvation by him, or fall into damnable heresies: they may be seduced from the simplicity of the Gospel, but not finally; for they shall be recovered out of the snare of the devil, and not to be left to perish in such deceivings. This clause, as it expresses the power of deceivers, and the efficacy of Satan, so the influence and certainty of electing grace and the sure and firm perseverance of the saints, to the end, notwithstanding the cunning and craft of men and devils; for if these, with all their signs and wonders, could not deceive them, it may be pronounced impossible that they ever should be finally and totally deceived.

Behold, I have told you before. Matthew 24:25

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Behold, etc. Mark adds, Mark 13:23 “Take ye heed.” The reason why he told them before, was that they might be on their guard, and be prepared for those calamities.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Behold, I have told you before. Meaning not before in this discourse, though he had in Matthew 24:5 signified also, that false Christs, and false prophets should arise, but before these things came to pass; so that they had sufficient notice and warning of them, and would be inexcusable if they were not upon their guard against them; and which, when they came to pass, would furnish out a considerable argument in proof of him, as the true Messiah, against all these false ones, showing him to be omniscient; and so would serve to establish their faith in him, and be a means of securing them from such deceivers.

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. Matthew 24:26

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Behold, he is in the desert. The Jews had formed the expectation that the Messiah would appear suddenly, from some unexpected quarter. Hence many would be looking to the desert places, expecting that he would come from them. Accordingly, most of the impostors and pretended prophets led their people into the deserts.

Go not forth. Do not follow them. They will only deceive you.

In the secret chambers. Concealed in some house, or some retired part of the city. Many would, doubtless, pretend that the Messiah was concealed there; and, either for the purpose of encouraging or deceiving the people, would pretend that they had discovered him.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Wherefore if they shall say unto you,… Any of the false prophets, or the deluded followers of false Christs:

behold, he is in the desert, go not forth: that is, should they affirm, that the Messiah is in such a wilderness, in the wilderness of Judea, or in any other desert place, do not go out of the places where you are to see, or hear, and know the truth of things; lest you should, in any respect, be stumbled, ensnared, and brought into danger. It was usual for these impostors to lead their followers into deserts, pretending to work wonders in such solitary places: so, during the siege, Simon, the son of Giora, collected together many thousands in the mountainous and desert parts of Judea; and the above mentioned Jonathan, after the destruction of the city, led great multitudes into the desert:

behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not; or should others say behold, or for certain, the Messiah is in some one of the secret and fortified places of the temple; where, during some time of the siege, were John and Eleazar, the heads of the zealots2; do not believe them. Some reference may be had to the chamber of secrets, which was in the temple3;

“for in the sanctuary there were two chambers; one was called, “the chamber of secrets”, and the other the chamber of vessels.”

Or else some respect may be had to the notions of the Jews, concerning the Messiah, which they imbibed about these times, and ever since retained, that he was born the day Jerusalem was destroyed, but is hid, for their sins, in some secret place, and will in time be revealed4. Some say, that he is hid in the sea; others, in the walks of the garden of Eden; and others, that he sits among the lepers at the gates of Rome. The Syriac version here reads in the singular number, “in the bedchamber”; in some private apartment, where he remains till a proper time of showing himself offers, for fear of the Romans: but these are all idle notions, and none of them to be believed. The true Messiah is come, and has showed himself to Israel; and even the giving out these things discovers a consciousness, and a conviction that the Messiah is come.

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. Matthew 24:27

Lightning is a symbolic way of saying that the parousia (coming) will be quick and unexpected. Lightning also signified the presence of the Lord.

Lightning = Sudden, unexpected, filling the whole sky, ie. Fully visible.  Christ’s invisible coming in judgment on Jerusalem would be sudden and unexpected, but visible and seen to all, ie. not secret (FNL)

The Roman army approached the city from the East, and they represented Messiah coming to execute His wrath on the Jews.

Since the Romans were bearing punishment and judgment on behalf of Christ, this could apply to them, moreover, the Romans finally entered the city from the east.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, etc. This is not designed to denote the quarter from which he would come, but the manner. He does not mean to affirm that the Son of man will come from the east, but that he will come in a rapid and unexpected manner, like the lightning. Many would be looking for him in the desert; many in secret places. But, he said, it would be useless to be looking in that manner. It was useless to look to any particular part of the heavens, to know where the lightning would next flash. In a moment it would blaze in an unexpected part of the heavens, and shine at once to the other part. So rapidly, so unexpectedly, in so unlooked – for a quarter would be his coming. See Luke 10:18; Zecheriah 9:14.

The coming of the Son of man. It has been doubted whether this refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, or to the coming at the day of judgment. For the solution of this doubt, let it be remarked,

(1.) that those two events are the principal scenes in which our Lord said he would come, either in person or in judgment.

(2.) That the destruction of Jerusalem is described as his coming, his act, for their great crimes.

(3.) That these events–the judgment of Jerusalem and the final judgment –in many respects greatly resemble each other.

(4.) That they will bear, therefore, to be described in the same language. And,

(5.) therefore, that the same words often include both events, as properly described by them. The words, therefore, had doubtless a primary reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, but such an amplitude of meaning as also to express his coming to judgment.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

For as the lightning cometh out of the east,… The eastern part of the horizon,

and shineth even unto the west; to the western part of it, with great clearness; in a moment; in the twinkling of an eye, filling the whole intermediate space;

so shall also the coming of the son of man be; which must be understood not of his last coming to judgment, though that will be sudden, visible, and universal; he will at once come to, and be seen by all, in the clouds of heaven, and not in deserts and secret chambers: nor of his spiritual coming in the more sudden, and clear, and powerful preaching of the Gospel all over the Gentile world; for this was to be done before the destruction of Jerusalem: but of his coming in his wrath and vengeance to destroy that people, their nation, city, and temple: so that after this to look for the Messiah in a desert, or secret chamber, must argue great stupidity and blindness; when his coming was as sudden, visible, powerful, and general, to the destruction of that nation, as the lightning that comes from the east, and, in a moment, shines to the west.

For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Matthew 24:28

Messiah here alludes to Jeremiah 7:33, “And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away.” — which was a warning to Judah of the coming destruction at the hands of the Babylonians.

Now that would happen by the hands of the Roman army, coming to desolate the Jews.

An eagle was the standard of a Roman legion, which would have been on their flags. The Jews killed each other even before the Romans entered the city, so there were many carcasses in the city, with the Roman Eagles gathering around.

The term “carcase” well represents the utterly corrupted Jewish state; the “eagles” is a fit symbol of the Roman army, every legion of which bore the eagle as its standard. (PNTC)

Wherever the apostate Jews were, whether in Jerusalem or hiding elsewhere, the Roman armies would find them out. (FNL)

That is to say, the apostate Israelites would be destroyed – when in 70 A.D. the “eagles” alias the military insignia of the pagan Roman armies would be erected in the outskirts of Jerusalem. For then, like a swarm of ritually-unclean vultures, the Roman legions would swoop down, – to rip up the carrion of the decomposing carcass of Jerusalem’s dying Judaism.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Wheresoever, etc. The words in this verse are proverbial. Vultures and eagles easily ascertain where dead bodies are, and come to devour them. So with the Roman army. Jerusalem is like a dead and putrid corpse. Its life is gone, and it is ready to be devoured. The Roman armies will find it out, as the vultures do a dead carcass, and will come around it, to devour it. This proverb also teaches a universal truth. Wherever wicked men are, there will be assembled the instruments of their chastisement. The providence of God will direct them there, as the eagles are directed to a dead carcass.

This verse is connected with the preceding by the word “for,” implying that this is a reason for what is said there, that the Son of man would certainly come to destroy the city, and that he would come suddenly. The meaning is, he would come by means of the Roman armies, as certainly, as suddenly, and as unexpectedly, as whole flocks of vultures and eagles, though unseen before, suddenly find their prey, see it at a great distance, and gather in multitudes around it. Travellers in the deserts of Arabia tell us that they sometimes witness a speck in the distant sky, which for a long time is scarcely visible. At length, it grows larger; it comes nearer; and they at last find that it is a vulture, that has from an immense distance seen a carcass lying on the sand. So keen is their vision, and so aptly does this represent the Roman armies, though at an immense distance, yet spying, as it were, Jerusalem, a putrid carcass, and hastening in multitudes to destroy it.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

For wheresoever the carcass is,… Not Christ, as he is held forth in the Gospel, crucified and slain, through whose death is the savour of life, and by whom salvation is, and to whom sensible sinners flock, encouraged by the ministry of the word; and much less Christ considered as risen, exalted, and coming in great glory to judgment, to whom the word “carcass” will by no means agree, and but very poorly under the former consideration: but the people of the Jews are designed by it, in their fallen, deplorable, miserable, and lifeless state, who were like to the body of a man, or any other creature, struck dead with lightning from heaven; being destroyed by the breath of the mouth, and brightness of the coming of the son of man, like lightning, just as antichrist will be at the last day:

there will the eagles be gathered together: not particular believers here, or all the saints at the day of judgment; though these may be, as they are, compared to eagles for many things; as their swiftness in flying to Christ, their sagacity and the sharpness of their spiritual sight, soaring on high, and renewing their spiritual strength and youth: but here the Roman armies are intended, whose ensigns were eagles; and the eagle still is, to this day, the ensign of the Roman empire: formerly other creatures, with the eagle, were used for ensigns; but C. Marius, in his second consulship, banished them, and appropriated the eagle only to the legions: nor was it a single eagle that was carried before the army, but every legion had an eagle went before it, made of gold or silver, and carried upon the top of a spear1: and the sense of this passage is this, that wherever the Jews were, whether at Jerusalem, where the body and carcass of them was, in a most forlorn and desperate condition; or in any other parts of the country, the Roman eagles, or legions, would find them out, and make an utter destruction of them. The Persic version, contrary to others, and to all copies, renders it “vultures”. Though this creature is of the same nature with the eagle, with respect to feeding on carcasses: hence the proverb,

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: Matthew 24:29

This points to the desolation of the Jewish leadership system; symbolically referred to as the Sun (High Priest), Moon (Jewish council) and stars (rabbis).

This fulfilled the prophecy in Daniel 12:7, which foretold that the power of the holy people, the Jewish leadership, would be scattered.

And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

As Adam Clarke wrote,

“In the prophetic language, great commotions upon earth are often represented under the notion of commotions and changes in the heavens: – The fall of Babylon is represented by the stars and constellations of heaven withdrawing their light, and the sun and moon being darkened. See Isaiah 13:9-10. The destruction of Egypt, by the heaven being covered, the sun enveloped with a cloud, and the moon withholding her light. Ezekiel 32:7-8. The destruction of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes is represented by casting down some of the host of heaven, and the stars to the ground. See Daniel 8:10.”

Click here for a detailed study on the Sun, Moon And Stars

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. Matthew 24:30

The Greek word for ‘earth’, ‘ge’, does not mean the whole earth, but rather it means ‘country or land’, in this case the land of Israel.

It’s the same word used in Matthew 2:20 “Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land(ge) of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.”

The word clouds refers to judgment, so coming in the clouds is not referring to His actual appearance in the clouds as part of His second advent; but in Him coming to judge the Jews by sending the Roman army against them, to desolate the temple and remove the Jewish leaders from power.

And the tribes of Israel in the land of Judea truly did mourn when they saw the power of Messiah cause the Roman army coming against them.

And in fact, the Jewish historian Josephus records “Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence” (Jewish Wars, VI-V-3).

Click here for a detailed study on Messiah Coming In The Clouds

Daniel 7:13-14 foretold that Messiah would come with the clouds, to setup His Father’s kingdom.

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

Click here for a detailed study on Messiah Setup His Kingdom

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. Matthew 24:31

Other references to Messiah’s return includes that the dead will rise first, but that is missing from this text, telling you that is not the proper context.

The word angel (aggelos) doesn’t just point to the angels of heaven, but to leaders and messengers.

An example of messengers is in Luke 9:52, where the messengers were probably James and John.

And sent messengers (aggelos) before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

The Early church had fled to the mountains. The Roman siege of Jerusalem is over.  Jerusalem lay in ruins, so there is no returning.   The leaders now are being sent out to proclaim the Gospel, to gather in the elect of Elohim, to continue their mission to all parts of the Roman world.

Messiah has setup His kingdom. His temple is made up of His people.  His bride, called Holy Jerusalem, is His city to rule in.  He is the High Priest, and with a trumpet blast He is sending out His Israelite priests to all the world to gather in the harvest of the elect.

Click here for a detailed explanation of the elect being gathered out of Jerusalem, to flee to the mountains.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: Matthew 24:32

The Abomination of Desolation, the Roman army, surrounded Jerusalem in the Ab 9th of 66 A.D.

The warnings that Messiah had just given them occurred before then.

The figs would become ripe with the heat of summer.

The Roman army flooded the city on Ab 9, the fifth month of the Biblical calendar; which occurs in the mid to late summer.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Now learn a parable of the fig tree,… Take a similitude, or comparison from the fig tree, which was a tree well known in Judea; and the putting forth of its branches, leaves, and fruit, fell under the observation of everyone:

when its branch is yet tender; through the influence of the sun, and the motion of the sap, which was bound up, and congealed in the winter season:

and putteth forth leaves; from the tender branches, which swell, and open, and put forth buds, leaves, and fruit:

ye know the summer is nigh; spring being already come: the fig tree putting forth her green figs, is a sign that the winter is past, the spring is come, and summer is at hand; see Song 2:11.

So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Matthew 24:33

Messiah was saying that in the same manner, when they would see what He had predicted, the signs around Jerusalem, then they would know that its destruction is at hand.

Luke 21:28 says, “your redemption draweth nigh;” Luke 21:31 says, “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.”

Your deliverance from the dangers that threaten the city approaches, and the kingdom of Elohim will be set up in the earth; or your everlasting redemption from sin and death will come at the day of judgment, and his eternal kingdom is to be established in the heavens.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things,… That are mentioned above, relating to the signs of the destruction of the temple and city, and the destruction itself, with all those several things that should directly take place upon it; this is an accommodation of the above parable, similitude, or comparison:

know that it is near, even at the doors; meaning, either that “he is near”, as the Ethiopic version reads it, the son of man is near, even at the doors; or as the Vulgate Latin renders it, “in the gates”, or “doors”, and so does Munster’s Hebrew Gospel; and signifies, that he was already come; for to be in the doors, or within the gates, is more than to be at the doors, or at the gates: and thus the fig tree putting forth its leaves, is a sign that summer is not only nigh, but is already come, even that part of it we call spring; for the Scripture divides the whole year only into two parts, summer and winter; so these calamities and desolations on the Jews, were a sign that the son of man was come, was in the gates, displaying his power and his glory: or the redemption and deliverance of the people of God was at hand, from the persecutions of the Jews; for till the destruction of Jerusalem, the persecutions of the Christians were chiefly from the Jews, or occasioned by them; but now, they being destroyed, the summer of deliverance was at hand: or else the kingdom of God, or a more enlarged state of the Gospel dispensation was near; the winter of the legal dispensation was over, the spring of the Gospel dispensation was come, through the preaching of John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles; and now the summer of it was at hand, through the general spread of it, all over the Gentile world. So the second coming of Christ, will be a summer of joy and comfort to the saints: Christ will appear most lovely and amiable to them, he will be glorified by them, and admired in them; great grace will be brought unto them, and great glory will be put upon them; they will then enjoy full redemption and salvation: the winter of sorrows, afflictions, and persecutions, and of coldness, darkness, and desertion, will be over; the sun shall no more go down, nor the moon withdraw itself, but the Lord will be the everlasting light of his people.

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Matthew 24:34

Messiah berated the Jewish leaders (as recorded in Matthew 23) and He proclaimed that all of the righteous blood would be poured out on them, on that generation, saying “Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Matthew 23:36

A Biblical generation is 40 years.  Messiah taught the Olivet Discourse in 31 A.D.  The siege of Jerusalem, and the desolation of the Jews and the temple, took place in 70 A.D.; so indeed, it did happen in their generation.

Messiah had proclaimed “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” Mark 9:1

Messiah was clearly speaking to His disciples, saying that in their lifetime, in their generation; they would see they kingdom of Elohim come with power.

Messiah’s proclaimed to the Jewish High Priest that He would see Him come in power, saying “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

And indeed the High Priest did see Messiah come in the clouds of judgment, causing the ‘people of the prince‘, the Roman army, to desolate the city, temple and Jews.

This is a clear statement.  If Messiah was referring to the end times He would have said ‘that generation’, but He said ‘this generation‘ referring to the current one.

And the historical record proves that all of the previous things that Messiah declared, did occur before the desolation of the temple.

Click here for a detailed study about what Messiah meant by ‘this generation’.

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Matthew 24:35

Messiah is emphasizing that all of those things would happen in that wicked and adulterous generation.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Heaven and earth shall pass away,… This is either an assertion, which will be true at the end of time; not as to the substance of the heavens and earth, which will always remain, but as to the qualities of them, which will be altered: they will be renewed and refined, but not destroyed; the bad qualities, or evil circumstances, which attend them through the sin of man, will be removed and pass away, but they themselves will continue in being: or is a comparative expression, and the sense is, that the heavens and the earth, and the ordinances thereof, than which nothing can be more firm and strong, being fixed and supported by God himself, shall sooner pass away, than anything asserted and predicted by Christ shall:

but my words shall not pass away; be vain and empty, and unaccomplished; which is true of anything, and everything spoken by Christ; and especially here regards all that he had said concerning the calamities that should befall the Jews, before, at, or upon the destruction of their nation, city, and temple; and the design of the expression, is to show the certainty, unalterableness, and sure accomplishment of these things; see Jeremiah 31:36.

Matthew Poole

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. There are several notions men have of that term, this generation, some by it understanding mankind; others, the generation of Christians; others, the whole generation of the Jews: but doubtless our Saviour mean’s the set of men that were at that time in the world: those who were at that time living should not all die until all these things shall be fulfilled, all that he had spoken with reference to the destruction of Jerusalem; and indeed the most of those signs which our Saviour gave, were signs common both to the destruction of Jerusalem and the last judgment, abating only Christ’s personal coming in the clouds with power and glory. So that, considering that the destruction of Jerusalem was within less than forty years after our Saviour’s speaking these words, so many as lived to the expiration of that number of years must see the far greater part of these things actually fulfilled, as signs of the destruction of Jerusalem; and fulfilling, as signs of the end of the world.

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. By this expression our Saviour confirmeth the truth of what he had said, assuring those to whom he spake, that although there should be a change of the heavens and the earth, 2Pe 3:10,12-13, which then commonly look upon as the most stable and abiding things, yet the truth of what he had said should not fail.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Matthew 24:36

Messiah proclaimed the Olivet Discourse in 31 A.D.; so in fact these things were fulfilled within the 40-year generation, in 70 A.D.

That day/hour refers to AD 70 and not to the second coming as many take it.  The year might be calculable from Daniel’s weeks, but not the day or the hour.  The destruction was on the 9th of Ab. (FNL)

There was precedent that the Babylonian army desolated the temple on the 9th of Ab, so they may have know that it would be that day again.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

But of that day and hour. Of the precise time of the fulfillment. The general signs of its coming have been given; as the budding of the fig-tree is a certain indication that summer is near. But the precise time is not indicated by these things. One part of their inquiry was, Matthew 24:3 when those things should be. He now replies to them, by saying that the precise time would not be foretold.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

But of that day and hour knoweth no man,… Which is to be understood, not of the second coming of Christ, the end of the world, and the last judgment; but of the coming of the son of man, to take vengeance on the Jews, and of their destruction; for the words manifestly regard the date of the several things going before, which only can be applied to that catastrophe, and dreadful desolation: now, though the destruction itself was spoken of by Moses and the prophets, was foretold by Christ, and the believing Jews had some discerning of its near approach; see Heb 10:25 yet the exact and precise time was not known: it might have been: calculated to a year by Daniel’s weeks, but not to the day and hour; and therefore our Lord does not say of the year, but of the day and hour no man knows; though the one week, or seven years, being separated from the rest, throws that account into some perplexity; and which perhaps is on purpose done, to conceal the precise time of Jerusalem’s destruction: nor need it be wondered at, notwithstanding all the hints given, that the fatal day should not be exactly known beforehand; when those who have lived since, and were eyewitnesses of it, are not agreed on what day of the month it was.

Verses 37-51 are not included in Mark, and not in Luke in this context, but another.

Luke 17 shows that Messiah’s words about “as in the days of Noah” and “one will be taken and the other left” were spoken by Messiah when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come.

It’s the same context of Messiah coming in power to desolate the Jews and the temple; and to setup His kingdom.  Matthew simply put it on the end of the Olivet Discourse text.  Mark’s Gospel is short, so he did not include the text.

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:37

Luke 17 marries the statements of Messiah being rejected in that generation, and that the days of Noah also applied to that generation, as most Jews were unprepared for the desolation of the city.

But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” Luke 17:25-26

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

For as in the days, etc. The things mentioned here denote attention to the affairs of this life, rather than to what was coming on them. It does not mean that these things were wrong, but only that such was their actual employment, and that they were regardless of what was coming upon them.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

But as the days of Noe were,… So Noah is usually called Noe by the Septuagint: the sense is, as were the practices of the men of that generation, in which Noah lived, so will be the practices of the men of that age, in which the son of man comes; or as the flood, which happened in the days of Noah, was sudden and unexpected; it came upon men thoughtless about it, though they had warning of it; and was universal, swept them all away, excepting a few that were saved in the ark:

so shall also the coming of the son of man be; to take vengeance on the Jews, on a sudden, at an unawares, when they would be unthoughtful about it; though they were forewarned of it by Christ and his apostles, and their destruction be as universal; all would be involved in it, excepting a few, that were directed a little before, to go out of the city of Jerusalem to Pella; where they were saved, as Noah and his family were in the ark.

The next verse defines what the days of Noah were like.

As the flood came unexpectedly in the days of Noah, so also would Christ’s coming in judgment be.  Also, the people were exceedingly sinful as in the days of Noah.  Their cares were this-worldly, not heavenly.  The people did not heed Noah, as they would not heed Christ. (FNL)

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, Matthew 24:38

It’s simply saying that the Jews would ignore the signs and would be about their daily lives.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

For as in the days that were before the flood,… Not all the days before the flood, from the creation of the world; but those immediately preceding it, a century or two before it:

they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage: not that these civil actions of life were criminal in themselves, had care been taken that they were not abused. It is lawful to eat and drink, provided it be in moderation, and not to excess; and to marry, and give in marriage, when the laws, rules, and ends thereof, are observed: and therefore this must be understood, either of their wholly giving themselves up to the pleasures of life, and lusts of the flesh, without any concern about the affairs of religion, the worship and glory of God, the welfare of their souls and their approaching danger, of which Noah had given them warning; or of their luxury and intemperance, in eating and drinking, and of their libidinous and unlawful marriages; for the word here used for eating, signifies eating after the manner of brute beasts: they indulged themselves in a brutish way, in gluttony and drunkenness; and it is certain from the account given of them, in Ge 6:2 that they entered into unlawful marriages, and unclean copulations: wherefore these things may be spoken of them, as what were really sinful and wicked, and denote a course of sinning, a constant practice of these sins of intemperance and lust, and which is still more fully expressed in the next clause:

until the day that Noe entered into the ark. The Arabic version renders it, “the ship”; the vessel which God directed him to make, for the saving of himself and family. Now the men of that generation persisted in their wicked course of living, after, and notwithstanding, the warning God had given them by Noah, of the flood that would come upon them; and all the while the ark was building, even to the very day that Noah and his family, by the order of God, went into the ark.

And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:39

Daniel 9:26 proclaims “and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”

And indeed the Roman army flooded the city in 70 A.D., killing hundreds of thousands of Jews and taking 97,000 away as captives to be sold as slaves.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And knew not until the flood came,… That is, they did not advert or give heed to what Noah said to them about it: they slighted and despised his warnings; they did not believe, that what he said of the flood was true; they had notice of it, but they would not know it, and therefore God gave them up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart; and so they remained, until it came upon them at once:

and took them all away; the whole world of the ungodly, every man, woman, and child, except eight persons only; Noah and his wife, and his three sons and their wives; for the deluge was universal, and reached to all the inhabitants of the world, who all perished in it, excepting the above persons,

So shall also the coming of the son of man be: such shall be, as it was, the case of the Jews, before the destruction of Jerusalem: they gave themselves up to all manner of wickedness and uncleanness; they disregarded the warnings of Christ and his apostles; they were careless and secure of danger; they would not believe their ruin was at hand, when it was just upon them; they buoyed themselves up to the very last, that a deliverer would arise, and save them; they cried peace, peace, when sudden destruction was nigh; even of them all, their nation, city, and temple, a few only excepted, as in the days of Noah: and though they were so much like the men of that generation, yet they themselves say of them, that “the generation of the flood have no part in the world to come, nor shall they stand in judgment, according to Genesis 6:31.

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Matthew 24:40

Taken = killed or taken captive by the Roman army. Left = delivered from the Roman army by God’s providence. (FNL)

The word taken may mean, either to be taken away from the danger, i.e. rescued, as Lot was, Luke 17:28-29 or to be taken away by death. Probably the latter is the meaning. (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Then shall two be in the field, etc. The calamity shall come suddenly. There shall be no escape for those whom it overtakes.
One shall be taken. The word taken may mean, either to be taken away from the danger, i.e. rescued, as Lot was, Lu 17:28-29 or to be taken away by death. Probably the latter is the meaning.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Then shall two be in the field,… About their proper business, of husbandry, ploughing, or sowing, or any other rural employment:

the one shall be taken; not by the preaching of the Gospel, into the kingdom of God, or Gospel dispensation; though such a distinction God makes, by the ministry of the word, accompanied by his Spirit and power; nor by angels, to meet Christ in the air, and to be introduced into his kingdom and glory; but by the eagles, the Roman army, and either killed or carried captive by them:

and the other left; not in a state of nature and unregeneracy, as many are, to whom the Gospel is preached; nor with devils at the last day, to be thrust down by them into the infernal regions; but by the Romans, being by some remarkable providence, or another, delivered out of their hands; which was the case of some few, and these of the meaner sort; and therefore persons of a rural life and occupation are instanced in.

Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Matthew 24:41

Hand-mills are still used in the East. The grinding is done by women, usually two, as the work is hard for one. It will be the time of separation of the evil from the good.  (PNTC)

It’s delineating between those who would be taken by the Roman army, and those who were protected.

One shall be taken by the Romans, and either put to death, or carried captive; and the other shall escape their hands, through the singular providence of Elohim.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Two women, etc. Grinding in the East was performed, as it is now, chiefly by hand. The mill-stones were about two feet in diameter, and half a foot in thickness. The lower one was fixed, and the upper one was turned by a handle, or crank. This was done by two persons, who sat opposite to each other. One took hold of the mill-handle, and turned it half way round; the other then seized it, and completed the revolution. This was done by women; by servants of the lowest order; and was a very laborious employment. See Ex 11:5; Job 31:10; Isa 47:2; Jg 16:21. The meaning of this verse is similar to the former, of two persons sitting near to each other, one shall be taken, and the other left. The calamity would be sudden, and would come upon them before they were aware.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Two women shall be grinding at the mill,… Though the word women is not in the Greek text, yet it is rightly supplied by our translators, as it is in the Persic version; for the word rendered grinding, is in the feminine gender, and was the work of women, as appears both from the Scripture, Exodus 11:5 and from several passages in the Jewish writings, concerning which their canons run thus1,

“These are the works which a woman is to do for her husband, “she must grind”, and bake, and wash, and boil, and make his bed, etc.

And elsewhere it is asked, “how does she grind? she sits at the mill, and watches the flour, but she does not grind, or go after a beast, that so the mill may not stop; but if their custom is to grind at a hand mill, she may grind. The sanhedrim order this to poor people; for if she brings one handmaid, or money, or goods, sufficient to purchase, she is not obliged to grind, etc.

Frequent mention is made, of women grinding together at the same mill: a case is put concerning two women grinding at an hand mill, and various rules are given about it; as, that.  “a woman may lend her neighbour that is suspected of eating the fruits of the seventh year after time, a meal sieve, a fan, a mill, or a furnace, but she may not winnow, nor “grind with her”.

Which it supposes she might do, if she was not suspected: again, “the wife of a plebeian, “may grind” with the wife of a learned man, in the time that she is unclean, but not when she is clean.

Nor was this the custom of the Jews only, for women to grind, but also of other countries, as of the Abyssines, and of both Greeks and Barbarians:

the one shall be taken, and the other left; as before, one shall be taken by the Romans, and either put to death, or carried captive; and the other shall escape their hands, through the singular providence of God.

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Matthew 24:42

The calamity would be sudden, and would come upon them before they were aware.

The disciples were to be ready for Christ’s sudden and unexpected judgment.  The passage may also allude to Christ’s Final Coming, which he begins to speak about in parables following this passage. (FNL)

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Watch therefore,… Since the time of this desolation is so uncertain, and since it will come upon the Jews unawares, and some wilt escape, whilst others perish; for the words are plainly an inference from what precedes, and clearly relate to things going before, and are not a transition to a new subject:

for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come; to avenge himself of the unbelieving Jews, and fulfil what he in person, and by his apostles, had predicted and warned them of: though I will not deny, but that what follows may be much better accommodated and applied to the second coming of Christ, and the last judgment, and the behaviour of men with regard to both, than anything said before; and it may be our Lord’s intention, to lead his disciples gradually, and as it were imperceptibly, to the last scene of things on earth, to make way for the parables and description of the future judgment, in the next chapter; still keeping in view, and having reference to, the subject he had been so long upon.

But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Matthew 24:43

Though they didn’t know the exact hour, the disciples understood what to look for, as the sign of the times; the most important of which was the Abomination of Desolation, when the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

But know this,… Or you do know this: this may be illustrated by supposing a case well known to men, and in which common prudence would direct a man how to behave:

that if the good man of the house, or householder, or master of the family,

had known in what watch the thief would come; whether at the first, second, third, or fourth watch; for the night was divided into four watches; had he any previous notice given by any of the associates of the thief, or by those that had overheard, or by any means had got intelligence of his design and measures, and the time of his pursuing them,

he would have watched; in every watch either in person, or by employing others, or both:

and would not have suffered his house to be broken up: or “dug through”; see Job 24:16 concerning which, there is a law in Exodus 22:2 and is explained by the Jewish canonists thus:

“He that comes in by digging, whether by day or by night, there is no blood for him (i.e. to be shed for him, if he is killed); but if the master of the house, or any other man kill him, they are free; and every man has power to kill him, whether on a weekday, or on a sabbath day; and with whatsoever death he can put him to, as it is said, there is no blood for him, Exodus 22:2. And one that comes in, “by digging”, or a thief that is found in the midst of a man’s roof, or in his court, or within his hedge, whether in the day or in the night, (may be killed;) and wherefore is it called digging? because it is the way of most thieves to come in by digging in the night.

Wherefore no doubt since the master of the house had such a law on his side, he would never suffer, if possible, his house to be entered by digging, when he had, especially, any previous notice of it. Now the application of this case, or parabolical way of speaking, is to the coming of Christ, and the watchfulness of every good man who has notice of it, that he may not be surprised with it, but be in a readiness to receive him. The coming of the son of man, is here represented by the coming of the thief in the night: but when he is compared to a thief, this is not to be understood in a bad sense, in which Satan is called one, who comes to kill and to destroy the souls of men; and likewise heretics and false teachers, and everyone that climbs up, and gets into the church of God in a wrong way; but this only respects the manner of Christ’s coming, which is like that of a thief, secretly, suddenly, and at unawares. The “good man of the house”, or householder, is every Christian, or believer in Christ, who has a house to look after, his own soul, the spiritual affairs and everlasting salvation of it, things of moment and concern unto him: and as the Christians, before the destruction of Jerusalem, had notices of Christ’s coming in that way, by our Lord’s predictions, by the hints the apostles gave, to refresh their memories with them, and by the signs of the times and voices that were heard; so the saints have of Christ’s coming to judgment: wherefore as it became the one, so it does the other, to watch, to be upon their guard, to be in a readiness, to have their loins girt about, and their lights burning, and they like men that wait for their Lord; that so when he comes, their houses may not be broken up, may not be surprised, and the several powers and faculties of their souls may not be thrown into disorder and confusion; wherefore it follows,

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matthew 24:44

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Therefore be ye also ready,… Or prepared for the coming of the son of man; which as it is said to be like a thief in the night, expresses the suddenness of it, may excite to watchfulness and readiness; which readiness is to be understood, not of a readiness to do the will and work of God, though this is absolutely necessary; as to watch and pray, to hear the word preached, to confess Christ, and give a reason of the hope that is in us, to communicate to the support of the cause and interest of Christ, and to suffer for his sake; but of a preparedness to meet the Lord in the way of his judgments, when desolating judgments are coming on the earth, such as these in Jerusalem; by faith and trust in the power, providence, and care of God; by humiliation before him, and resignation to his will: and if this can be applied to a readiness for a future state after death; for the second coming of Christ, and last judgment;

for in such an hour as ye think not, the son of man cometh: this is true of his coming in power to destroy Jerusalem, and of his second coming to judgment. The Jews say much the same of the coming of the Messiah, whom they expect:

“there are three things, they say, which come, “without knowledge”, or unthought of, at an unawares; and they are these, the Messiah, anything that is found, and a scorpion.

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Matthew 24:45

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Who then is a faithful and wise servant,… The Vulgate Latin adds, “do you think?” and is a question put to the disciples, which they might apply to themselves: in Luke 12:42, it is spoken in answer to a question of Peter’s, in relation to the above exhortation, whether it was spoken to them, or to all; and by this answer, it looks as if it was more especially designed for them, though it may be applied to other. The “servant” is there called a “steward”, for such a servant is meant; and a name that is very proper for the apostles and ministers of the word, who are stewards of the mysteries of Christ, and of the manifold grace of God; and whose characters are, that they are “faithful”: for this is required in stewards, that they be faithful to the trust reposed in them; as ministers are, when they preach the pure Gospel of Christ, and the whole of it; conceal no part, nor keep anything of it; seek not to please men, but God; neither seek their own things, their ease, honour, and profit, but the glory of God, the honour of Christ, and the good of souls; and abide by the truths, cause, and interest of a Redeemer, at all hazards. And they are “wise”, who know and are well instructed in divine things; who make Christ the main subject of their ministry; who improve their talents and time for their master’s use, and the advantage of those that are under their care; who seek for, and deliver acceptable words and matter; and manage their whole trust, so as to be able to give in a good account of their stewardship another day. The post that such a person is put in, and the work he is to do, follow:

whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household; or “family”, the church of God, which is the household of God, and of faith, in which are believers of various growths and sizes; some fathers, some young men, some children; and over these, the ministers are, by their Lord, made and placed as rulers; not as lords and tyrants over God’s heritage, to govern them in an arbitrary way, but as over them in the Lord, to rule them according to the word of God, and the laws of his house; by preaching the Gospel, administering ordinances, and keeping up his worship and the discipline of the church; and whose principal business it is,

to give them meat in due season; even “their portion” of it, as in Luke 12:42, for the word of God is to be cut and rightly divided, and everyone in the family, according to his age, appetite, and digestion, is to have his proper part and portion given him: it must be meat, proper food, such as is solid, substantial, and nourishing; even the wholesome words of Christ Jesus, that must be given them, and not husks and empty trash; and all in due season, in its proper time, as their cases and circumstances require, and call for; as whether weary, or uncomfortable, or in the dark, or under temptations and afflictions: for a word fitly and seasonably spoken, how useful is it!

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Matthew 24:46

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh,… Whether in a way of judgment, as against Jerusalem; or at death, when he comes to remove him out of time, into eternity; or at the day of judgment, when he, the righteous judge, will give the crown of righteousness to him:

shall find so doing; acting the faithful and wise part, ruling the household of God well; giving to all wholesome food, a proper portion of it, and that in the right time.

Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. Matthew 24:47

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Verily I say unto you,… Nothing is a greater truth, more certain, or to be depended on, than this; all such wise, faithful, diligent, and industrious servants may expect it:

that he, shall make him ruler over all his goods; will honour him with greater gifts, bestow a larger degree of Gospel light and knowledge on him, make him more useful in the church below, and at last cause him to inherit all things in the other world, all glory, happiness, and bliss.

But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; Matthew 24:48

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

But and if that evil servant,… Or should there be an evil servant, an unwise and faithless one, who though he may have gifts and talents, yet destitute of the grace of God; and though he may be in the highest post and office in the church of God for sometimes wicked and graceless men are in such places; yet if he

shall say in his heart; secretly to himself, and with pleasure to his mind, and strengthen himself in a full persuasion of this,

my Lord delayeth his coming; and begins to think that either he will not come at all, to call him to an account for the use of his time, gifts, and talents; or if he does, it will be long first ere he will come, and visit the people of the Jews, by desolating calamities; or by death, to summon him to his bar; or at judgment, to give in his account of his stewardship.

And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; Matthew 24:49

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And shall begin to smite his fellow servants,… By abusing the power lodged in him, usurping a dominion over their faith, and imposing on their consciences things which Christ has never commanded; vexing and burdening them with trifling rites and ceremonies, and other unnecessary things; wounding, grieving, offending weak minds by his conduct and example; or persecuting the saints, such of them as cannot come into everything in his way of believing and practising:

and to eat and drink with the drunken; giving himself up to luxury and intemperance; feeding himself instead of the family; serving his own belly, and not his Lord and Master Christ; living an ungodly and licentious life, altogether unbecoming the Gospel of Christ: such servants and stewards have been, and are in the church of God; but sad will be their case, when their Lord comes, as follows. Respect seems to be had either to the ecclesiastical rulers among the Jews, who went under the name of the servants of the Lord, but persecuted the apostles, and those that believed in Christ; or the “Judaizing” Christians, and false teachers, that were for imposing the ceremonies of the law upon believers; or Simon Magus, and his followers, a set of licentious, men; or all of them; who lived in this period of time, between the death of Christ, and the destruction of the temple.

The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, Matthew 24:50

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

The lord of that servant,… Not by redemption and grace, but by creation and profession, shall come in a day when he looked not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of: suddenly and unexpectedly: such was his coming in wrath and vengeance on the Jewish nation; and such is his coming oftentimes by death; and such will be his coming at the day of judgment.

And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:51

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And shall cut him asunder,… The Persic version renders it, “he shall separate him from himself”: he shall separate soul and body by death; he shall take away all his gifts and talents from him; and remove him from his place and office, and from the church of God, and communion of the saints, and out of this world. Some think the allusion is to the cutting up of the sacrifices, and dividing them into pieces; and the sense is, that this wicked servant should have no share in the sacrifice of Christ; but should fall himself a victim to divine justice, and be used as sacrifices were; or, in other words, be severely punished for his sins; though the allusion seems rather to be to the manner of punishing treacherous and unfaithful persons, by dismembering them, cutting them in pieces, or in two: and so the Arabic version renders it, “he shall cut him in the middle”: this was certainly a way of putting persons to death; though some say it was not known to the Jews; but the following instances show the contrary. Mention is made of some that were sawn asunder, Hebrews 11:37 and the Jews say, that Isaiah was sawn asunder by Manasseh; and such a kind of death is spoken of in the Targum; where it is said, that “the priests went before Mordecai, and proclaimed, saying, whoever does not salute, or wish prosperity to Mordecai, and to the Jews, “he shall be cut into pieces”, and his house be made a dunghill.

And elsewhere it is said of a wicked man, that they put him upon a carpenter’s block, and, “sawed him asunder”; and he cried out, woe, woe, woe, that I have provoked my Creator. This was also a punishment used among the Heathens, as Gataker, and others out of Heathen writers, have shown. It must not here be understood literally, that this wicked servant should be put to such a corporeal death; but that he should be punished in the severest manner, and should be the object of the fierce wrath and sore displeasure of God,

and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. Luke says, “with the unbelievers” Luke 12:46, very likely both phrases were used by Christ; intimating, that such as make a profession of him, and have only a form of godliness, without the power of it, and are wicked and hypocritical men, will share the same fate with those that believe not; and the portion of these is the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; see Revelaion 21:8 or all such persons are intended, who put on the mask of religion, and do not answer to the character they bear: and are unfaithful to the trust reposed in them, and therefore will made examples of righteous judgment, and have their part in the lowest hell:

David Nikao

References:

AC – Adam Clarke’s Commentary On Matthew 24

AB – Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible

Alfred Edersheim – Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah

Barton W. Johnson’s The People’s New Testament Commentary On Matthew 24

FNL – F.N. Lee, The Olivet Discourse and The Destruction of Jerusalem in Prophecy (PDF)

Geneva Study Bible

John Gill’s Commentary On Matthew 24

Joseph Benson’s Commentary On Matthew 24

Matthew Poole’s Commentary On Matthew 24

PM – Philip Mauro’s The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation

Thomas Coke’s Commentary On Matthew 24

Next Olivet Discourse Study: The Meaning Of This Generation

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Gerstner April 25, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Hello David……….I came away a little confused with Matthew 24:29-31 suggesting that these signs were referring to the end of the Jewish system in 70 A.D. while you also suggest that the same 3 verses outlined in your article “The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Myth” are referring to the end of the world at the second coming of Messiah?
Your work has clarified much of the confusion I had with the 70 week prophesy in Daniel and the Olivet Discourse with the exception of the above.

Your brother in Messiah

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David April 26, 2017 at 1:47 am

Hello Mark! Kuddos to you for noticing that! I wrote the pre-trib rapture study a few years ago, and the Olivet Discourse study series last year. And sometimes as I learn new things, I forget pages that I need to update. It’s just me running this show, so thanks again for letting me know. I’ll update the pre-trib rapture page. Blessings to you brother! David

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