The setting of these prophecies:
- Jesus predicts God turning over the kingdom to Gentiles (21:33-44).
- Christ condemns the chief teachers of Israel (23:1-36).
- Christ predicts the city’s destruction (23:38).
- All the buildings in the temple complex will be knocked down. 1-2.
- Later, the disciples ask two questions. The second question is compound. (24:3).
- First exhortation: “Don’t let anyone deceive you.”
- Many will come and successfully deceive people. (4-5). History only preserves a few names (Anthronges, Simon bar Kohkbar), there must have been more.
- These disciples will hear about real wars, and rumors of wars. They should not be frightened. (6). There would be famines and earthquakes. These were all Braxton Hicks [false labor pains]. (7-8)
- Then, a time of persecution (9-14). Rome picked up after Israel went down.
- Roman persecution: “At first several were seized, who confessed, and then by their discovery a great multitude of others were convicted and executed.” Tacitus, speaking of persecution of Christians under Nero. Annals of Tacitus, book 1.15.
- Persecution would come with other ills: apostasy, internal betrayals, false prophets, love for Christ turns cold. However, genuine believers would stand firm to the end of their lives, and by that faith be saved.
- If Christ is still answering their first question, and I think He was, then the “end” (14) is the end of the Temple and the Jewish system. Romans 10:18 – the Gospel had spread through the known “world” by the time Paul wrote Romans in 56-57 A.D. Rome unintentionally broke the Jews’ power to systematically persecute believers.
- Christ was already prophetically looking beyond the immediate situation. God was preparing to judge and set-aside the nation of Israel, until a future date.
- Jesus in this section was straight-forwardly answering their first question from 24:3. Not everything in this chapter is about the end-times.
- Israel’s glorious restoration was not the next event on God’s time-table. The Jewish disciples had a very hard time accepting that (Acts 1:6), especially because the Church Age was a new revelation.