Part 3: The End Of The Age – The Questions

This is the third part of the “End of The Age” series. If time permits, the following articles will be posted.

Part 1: End Of The Age – Introduction
Part 2: End Of The Age – The INC Doctrines
Part 3: End Of The Age – The Questions
Part 4: End Of The Age – The Answers
Part 5: End Of The Age – Historical Events

In part 2, we reviewed the INC doctrines on Matthew 24:3,6-8,33. We then learned the context of Matthew 24 understanding of the Jews expectation on the Messiah based on their knowledge of Old Testament that the Messiah will bring the Kingdom of God to them. While Jesus was inside the Herod’s Temple, He spoke of the temple going into desolation. The Temple is a dwelling place of God how can such a magnificent structures turn into rubble; the Apostles are thinking. From the Temple they went to the Mount of Olives and that is where Apostles asked their questions. In this article, we will explore what led the Apostles asking the questions. These questions are relevant to the INC doctrines because INC used the answers to relate them to the first world war of 1914.

The Olivet discourse, is regarded by far the fullest and explicit of our Lord’s prophetic utterances regarding His second coming. Verse 3 is the most important questions asked by the Apostles in this chapter. We need to understand their questions, or we will never understand what Jesus’ answer really meant. Let us test the spirit  again by reviewing the context of the Apostles’ questions in detail. We will review the parallel verses for comparison:

Matthew 24:3, NKJV – 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Mark 13:4, NKJV – 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
Luke 21:7, NKJV – 7 So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”

There are fundamentally two questions asked in all three gospels but Matthew’s version maybe argued with a third question.

Question #1

Matthew 24:3, NKJV – 3 …. “Tell us, when will these things be? ….”
Mark 13:4, NKJV – 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? …”
Luke 21:7, NKJV – 7 … “Teacher, but when will these things be? …”

Recall that the context why these questions were asked is because what Christ spoke about the Temple going into desolation in Matthew 23:38 and in Matthew 24:2 He kind of said the Temple will be reduced to rubble. So the “these things” refers to the temple’s destruction in verse 2. Jesus says, “All’ these things‘ shall be destroyed”. It should be clear now it means the same thing as “WHEN will the temple be destroyed? When will our house be left desolate?“.

Matthew 23:38, NKJV – 3 See! Your house is left to you desolate;
Matthew 24:2, NKJV – 3 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

So the questions “when will these things” refers to the Temple destruction. The disciples had one thing, and only one thing, on their mind and that was the destruction of the temple.

Question #2

Focusing now on the second question

Matthew 24:3, NKJV – 3 …. And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Mark 13:4, NKJV – 4 “… And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
Luke 21:7, NKJV – 7 … And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”

It would not make a lot of sense to point the second half of the question to another topic [that is to ask signs for some 2000+ years ago for the end of the world while they are talking about the Temple destruction].  What is logical to the second part is that the “these things“, still refer to the temple, or the destruction of the temple. The destruction of the temple appear to connect with the “end of the age“. Notice that the gospel of Matthew also associated the destruction of the temple with the end of age. The disciples could not have been asking about a future return of Christ, because at this time they had no idea that he was leaving, that he will die on the cross and resurrect. They believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah. The Jews believed that Messiah would come and rule, they had no idea of Him coming, then leaving, then coming again as evident in John 12:34.

John 12:34, NKJV – 34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

David B. Curtis explained, “some translations render the “age” as “world.” That is very confusing. The Greek word used here is aeon which means, “age.” It is not the Greek word “kosmos” or “oikoumene,” which mean the world and its inhabitants. It is not talking about the end of the physical world; the word aeon means age, era, or a period of time. The expression “end of the age” refers to “the end of the Jewish age.” The disciples knew that the fall of the temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant age and the inauguration of a new age”. William Barclay says, “Time was divided by the Jews into two great periods– this present age, and the age to come. The present age is wholly bad and beyond all hope of human reformation. If can be mended only by the direct intervention of God. When God does intervene the golden age, the age to come, will arrive. But in between the two ages there will come the Day of the Lord, which will be a time of terrible and fearful upheaval, like the birth-pangs of a new age.“. In Zechariah 14, the “Day of the Lord” and the destruction of Jerusalem were connected.

Zechariah 14:1-5, NKJV –
1 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,
And your spoil will be divided in your midst.2For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;
The city shall be taken,
The houses rifled,
And the women ravished.
Half of the city shall go into captivity,
But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.3Then the Lord will go forth
And fight against those nations,
As He fights in the day of battle.4And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.5 Then you shall flee through My mountain valley,
For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal.
Yes, you shall flee
As you fled from the earthquake
In the days of Uzziah king of Judah.Thus the Lord my God will come,
And all the saints with You.

Jesus told the disciples that all the things they asked about would be fulfilled in their life time.

Matthew 24:34, NKJV – 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. ”

Other religions consider “this generation” to be a race which is a generation that include us in our time. But understanding the context of Matthew 24 and parallel gospels, the topic is about the the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple – not the judgement day that we expect as the end of the earth. Therefore the “this generation” refers to the generation of the disciples who are the ones spoken to by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Understanding the context of the questions can now help us understand Jesus’ answers in Matthew 24:6-8 which we will review in detail in the next article.

Matthew 24:6-8, NKJV – 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Hope you enjoy reading and that you are learning something relevant to your knowledge of scriptures.