This is the third part of the “End of The Age” series. If time permits, the following articles will be posted.
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:
There are fundamentally two questions asked in all three gospels but Matthew’s version maybe argued with a third question.
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?“.
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.
Focusing now on the second question
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.
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.
Jesus told the disciples that all the things they asked about would be fulfilled in their life time.
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.
Hope you enjoy reading and that you are learning something relevant to your knowledge of scriptures.