Matt. 24:01-06 “Don’t
& Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 14 July 2013
24:1 Then Jesus exited, proceeding away from the temple,
and His disciples approached to show off to Him the construction of the temple.
24:2 But Jesus said to
them, “Y’all are looking at all these things, aren’t you? Really, I’m telling
there shall absolutely not be left here a stone upon a stone which will not be
24:3 Then, as He was
sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately saying,
“Tell us when these
things will be
and what is the sign that
you are coming into your own,
and of the close of the
24:4 And in answer, Jesus
said to them, “See to it that nobody shall cause y’all to wander astray,
24:5 for many will come using my name, saying, “I am
and they will cause many
to wander astray.
24:6 And y’all are about to hear of wars and hearsay
Keep seeing to it that y’all don’t keep being startled,
for it is necessary for all things to happen,
but the end is not yet.
- Many of us have driven down Anderson Avenue
across the top of the hill where the road curves and seen the garage door that
was smashed in and had caution tape strung over it for a long time without
being repaired. Well, I recently discovered the story behind that. A man
was driving down Anderson Avenue while typing texts on his phone, and he
wasn’t keeping his eyes on the road. He was distracted by texting on his
phone. Well, Anderson Avenue curved right, but he didn’t see it coming, because
his eyes were on his cell phone, so his car went off the road and straight
into the garage door of the house at the curve.
- We get into trouble when we don’t keep our eyes
where they should be, and this, I think, is the lesson of the first part
of Matthew 24.
- Remember at the end of chapter 23, Jesus said
that He was going to vacate the temple and not come back? Chapter 24
24:1 Then Jesus exited, proceeding away
from the temple, and His disciples approached to show off [point
outNAS,ESV/call attentionNIV] to Him the construction of the temple.
‘ο Ιησους επορευετο
απο του ‘ιερου
και προσηλθον ‘οι
- This temple building was not the one Solomon
built, or the one that Ezra and Nehemiah built, but was built by Herod the
Great, shortly after he took over Jerusalem around 35 BC.
- It is now probably Wednesday evening after a day
of teaching in the temple. Jesus and His disciples are heading back out of
town to their camp on the Mount of Olives, and as they look back to where
they had been all day, the disciples would have seen at the top of the
hill the magnificent temple built by Herod with the setting sun behind it,
lighting up all the brilliant white marble blocks of its construction and
the golden spires rising from it. With the sunset it must have truly been
a breathtaking sight, and I imagine Peter saying, “Wow, would you look at
- Maybe a new phase of construction had just been
completed, and they were pointing that out. The parallel passage in Luke
21:5 mentions that some were talking about the stones and the offerings in
- Considering what an architectural marvel it was,
Jesus’ response is surprising:
Jesus said to them, “Y’all are looking at all these things, aren’t you? Really,
I’m telling y’all, there shall absolutely not be left here a stone upon a stone
which will not be undone.
‘Ο δε Ιησους
ειπεν αυτοις Ου
ταυτα; Αμην λεγω
‘υμιν ου μη αφεθῃ
‘ωδε λιθος επι
λιθον ‘ος ου
- Exercising His
prophetic ministry, Jesus pronounced the 8 woes upon the apostate
religious leaders in chapter 23, and now in chapter 24, Jesus continues
his prophetic ministry by foretelling the future.
- Herod’s temple was
constructed of gigantic white marble blocks, some over 50 feet cubed,
cut in a quarry and hauled down to the temple mount to be stacked, one on
top of the other. As
much as the Jews hated Herod and didn’t want to admit it, this temple was
their pride and joy. It was such an impressive structure that it was hard
to imagine it being totally destroyed. Indeed, when its destruction came a
few decades later, the Romans hammered battering rams against those stones
for a whole week before they even budged.
- The wording Jesus
uses speaks of total destruction. The verb is kataluw, which literally means “to loosen so that it
falls down” – that’s the word behind “thrown/tornNAS down” in
the standard English versions. Not a stone would be left standing on top
of another stone.
- But it had been done before. That same verb (kataluw) was used in the Greek
translation of Ezra’s account describing what the Chaldean army had done
to Solomon’s temple back in 586BC. Just as
God had allowed His temple to be destroyed when the Jews had become
apostate back then, He would also allow this temple to be destroyed again
some 650 years later during the generation of Jesus’ disciples.
- The great puritan Bible commentator Matthew Henry
related that in 70AD, “Titus, when he took the city, did all he could to
preserve the temple, yet he could not restrain the enraged soldiers from
destroying it utterly; and it was done to that degree, that Turnus Rufus ploughed
up the ground on which it had stood: thus that scripture was fulfilled, Zion shall, for your sake, be ploughed as a
field (Micah 3:12).”
- Indeed, today, according to a recent Baptist
Press article, all that remains of Herod’s magnificent temple is a portion of the foundation on which the temple was built (that’s
what the “Wailing Wall” is), parts of some connecting architecture that
went between the temple courtyards and the outer streets, and some
inscriptions that were once posted in the Temple complex.
Everything else is gone! This prophecy
has indeed been fulfilled.
- Jesus is preparing His disciples to shift their
attention in new directions as the New Testament is inaugurated:
- Just as the priests had recited the blessings of
the Mosaic Covenant on Mt. Gerazim,
Jesus had uttered the blessings (or Beatitudes) of the New Covenant on
the Mountain in Galilee.
- The curses of the Mosaic covenant were recited
of old on Mt. Ebal near Jordan.
Jesus recited the woes of breaking covenant with Him on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.
- The focal point of worship in the Mosaic
covenant was the tabernacle,
the focal point of the Covenant with God after David was the temple in
but the focal point of the New Covenant would be a new place: A temple
that could be destroyed and then rebuilt in 3 days (26:61), a human body
(Heb. 10:5, John 2:21, 1 Cor. 6:19) – Jesus Himself, and even His
followers whose own bodies were filled with the Holy Spirit.
disciples were looking at the old focal points, and Jesus is directing
their attention to the new focal points, encouraging them to keep their
eyes in the right place.
24:3 Then, as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately saying, “Tell us when these things
will be and what is the sign that you are coming into your own, and of the
close of the age.”
δε αυτου επι
του ορους των
‘οι μαθηται κατ’
Ειπε ‘ημιν πότε
και τí το
- Now, as I see it, there are up to three different
questions being asked:
- When will these things happen?
What will be the sign of your
- The Greek word tauta,
translated “these things” refers back to v.2 where Jesus uses the same
word to refer to the temple and the fact that it would be toppled. So
the disciples are asking Jesus when that will happen.
- For what it’s worth, this Greek word occurs two
other times in this chapter, once in v.8 “all these things are
the beginning of the birth pangs” and v.34 “this generation will not
pass away until all these things happen.”
- While Jesus might
be including more events in v.8 and v.34 when He adds the word “all” –
“all these things,” I believe it is sound exegesis to understand that
Jesus is saying at least that the temple would be destroyed during His
disciples’ lifetimes and that it would not be the end of the troubles in
- But that’s not the
only thing the disciples ask Jesus. The 2nd question in v.3
What will be the sign of the
age drawing to a close?
- The Greek word
translated “coming” is parousia,
a compound of the preposition para
“alongside” plus the Greek verb of being. Literally “being beside.”
- This is the first occurrence of parousia in the Greek Bible – it’s
not in the Greek Old Testament, so we don’t have a context from the
Bible to explain what the disciples meant by this word.
- However, the
modern Greek lexicographers Arndt and Gingrich, have explored the use of
this Greek word in extra-Biblical literature and concluded, “On the one
hand, the word served as a cult expression for the coming of a hidden
divinity, who makes his presence felt by a revelation of his power… On
the other hand, parousia
became the official term for a visit of a person of high rank,
especially of kings and emperors visiting a province…”
- If we consider the fact that the disciples are
asking this question before Jesus went away to heaven – and before
Jesus even announced at the last supper that He was going away, the
concept of a second coming can not be considered likely from a
- What the disciples probably meant was, “When
are you planning to come into your own, Jesus? We’re looking forward to
the complete unveiling of your divine power as Messiah. What signal will
you give us when you decide to overthrow the Romans and kill all the
Pharisees and start your reign as the Messiah? We’ll draw our swords to
fight with you as soon as you give us the signal, just let us know what
signal to look for.”
- The next night,
when Peter saw the temple soldiers coming to capture Jesus and he saw
Jesus step forward and all the soldiers fall to the ground, he assumed
that was the sign of power he was looking for, so he pulled out his
sword and began fighting the soldiers. But Peter misunderstood the way
in which Jesus wanted to introduce Himself as the Messiah to the world,
and he jumped the gun by at least a couple thousand years on the final
battle against evil.
- The word parousia
occurs three more times in the Gospel of Matthew, all towards the end of
chapter 24, indicating Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question about
His parousia, but Jesus’
answer is given with His own understanding of the second coming, which
would happen long after His disciples’ swords had rusted away. He says
in v.27, “Don’t worry, you won’t miss the sign of my coming; it will be
like lightening flashing from one of the heavens to the other,” then in
vs.36-39, He says, “Nobody, not even myself, knows when that coming will
be; it will be like the unexpected coming of judgment in Noah’s day.”
- So the disciples
asked, “When will these things happen?” and Jesus answers that it will
be in their generation; the disciples ask, “What’s the sign going to be
of your coming into your own?” and He answers, “It’ll be unmistakeable,
but it won’t be for a while,” and finally the third part of the
Now I have spent a
lot of time working through these 3 questions because I think it’s
important to recognize what Jesus and His disciples are talking about for
the rest of the next 2 chapters.
- The disciples use a Greek word suntelia here which occurs often in
the Greek Old Testament, in the writings of the prophets. It speaks of a
complete and utter end. The O.T. prophets, who prophecied of God’s
judgment upon the nation of Israel before the Babylonian captivity,
promised that God would not make a suntelia
– an utter end of the Jews when they were overrun by the nations in
God’s wrath, but that He would allow a remnant to survive. However
the post-exilic prophets prophecied that God would make a suntelia – a total end of the
wicked Jews in the future, so
perhaps the disciples had heard enough of these prophecies to put them
together with Jesus’ coming.
- But whether or not the disciples were familiar
with the use of suntelia
in the O.T., they had heard this phrase “suntelias aionos” (“end/close of
the age”) at
least three times before, and that was from the mouth of Jesus back in
chapter 13:39ff, when Jesus explained to them the meaning of the Parable
of the Wheat and the Tares. At that time, Jesus prophecied of the end of
the age when all God’s purposes in history have fully ripened and He
will no longer be patient but will punish every wrongdoer as they
- I believe that the disciples are putting it
together that Jesus was indeed going to judge all the wickedness in the
world at some point, but that they were in come kind of grace period
when He wasn’t knocking out all the evil just yet, so they were
uncertain as to when this final day of justice would happen.
- Unlike Jesus’ answers to the first two
questions, He does not directly answer this third question by repeating words
His disciples used in their question. Later on, however, after His
resurrection, is the next time we hear that phrase “end of the age,” and
that is when Jesus says, “I will be with you all the way up to the end
of the age.”
- So at least we know the end of the age occurs
some time after Jesus’ resurrection, right? Wrong! Hebrews 9:26,
the only other passage in the Bible which uses this Greek phrase “end of
the age,” says that Jesus died for our sins during the “end of
- This understanding that the end of the age was inaugurated
during Jesus’ first coming and will be over at some point in the
future when the preaching of the Gospel is fulfilled leads me to believe
that the transition period between the ages and the end does not happen
quickly, but takes place over an extended period of time. (More on that
in a few minutes.)
- The Greek word aiwn,
translated “age” (or “world” in the KJV) is where we get the English
word “eon.” In the Bible, there seem to be three categories of “ages”:
the “ages past” when
God’s earliest communications were given through prophets, the “present
age” in which Jesus and the apostles lived, and then the “age to come,”
which includes forever in eternity.
- Jesus Himself spoke in these categories: Mat. 12:32 “whoever speaks against
the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or
in the age to come.”
& Mark 10:30 “but that
he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age…
and in the age to come, eternal life.” (NASB)
- The Apostle Paul also used these categories,
indicating that the “present” age did not end when Jesus ascended into
heaven. Eph. 1:21 “not
only in this age but also in the one to come.” (NASB)
- The “present evil age,” as Paul called it in Gal.
1:4, is currently “passing away” (1Cor. 2:6, 1 John 2:17), and the
future age has already started (Heb. 6:5, 1 Cor. 10:11). We live in this
inbetween time. [Show charts from G. E. Ladd’s A Theology of the New Testament,
- The hinge on which this succession of ages
turns is the coming of the Messiah, and the disciples recognize this in
their question. They’re thinking, “The Messiah is here, therefore the
turning of the ages into the eternal golden age must be about to happen
– when all evil is eliminated, and Israel will gain permanent possession
of their land, and all God’s righteous people enjoy blessing
if the temple is going to be destroyed, then that must be the end of the
world, because the Rabbi’s tell us that the temple in Jerusalem is one
of the seven reasons why God made the world, and once the temple is
destroyed, there’s no reason for the world to exist any more.”
Jesus answers this by saying, “Not yet; there is much suffering left in
this present age.”
- If we start with the wrong
question, we’ll probably end up with the wrong answer.
- If we think, for instance, that Jesus, in the
following verses is talking past His disciples to tell us what the 21st
Century will be like, we will come up with a very different, and, I
think, erroneous understanding of Jesus’ message.
- That is not to say that this passage doesn’t
apply to us. I’m just saying that if we put our own words into the mouths
of Jesus and the disciples, the situation becomes ripe for errors to
arise, and that’s the very thing Jesus
doesn’t want happening. He starts His answers to these three questions in
in answer, Jesus said to them, “See to it that nobody shall cause y’all to
‘ο Ιησους ειπεν αυτοις
Βλεπετε μη τις ‘υμας
- Jesus starts with a command in the present tense,
which means “Keep on the lookout,” it’s as though He’s saying, “You guys
were looking at the temple because it is dazzling,” but I’m telling you to
use your eyes to discover false prophets so that you are not led astrayESV,
misledNAS, or deceivedKJV,NIV, and in doing so,
protect the sheep I’m entrusting to your care from those wolves as well so
that they don’t wander off either.
- Don’t get distracted! Keep your eyes in the right
- This is a lot like Jesus’ earlier command in 16:6
“Y’all be watching out for (Ορατε
cf. v.6) – and keeping away from – the leavening of the Pharisees and
- He continues in v.5
24:5 for many will come using my
name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will cause many to wander astray.
επι τω ονοματι
μου λεγοντες Εγω
ειμι ‘ο χριστος,
- Matthew Henry listed several histories in his
Bible commentary which bear this out:
To Matthew Henry’s list we could add those from
history more recent to us: Annie Besant, Mary Baker Eddie, Sung Myung
Moon, Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc.
The flow of imposters making messianic claims did
not cease in 70AD. They continue to be a characteristic of the age in
which we live.
Luke 21:8 adds that the false prophets will say
not only that they are the Christ but also that, “the time is at hand!”
We’ve heard that before!
- “Josephus [the ancient Jewish historian] speaks
of several such impostors between this and the destruction of Jerusalem; one Theudas (Acts 5:36-37), that was defeated by Cospius Fadus; another by
Felix, another by Festus.
- Dosetheus said he was the Christ foretold by
Moses. Origen adversus Celsum.
- Simon Magus pretended to be the great power of God, Acts 8:10.
- In after-ages there have been such pretenders;
one about a hundred years after Christ, that called himself Baṙcochobas - The son of a star...
- [In the mid 1600’s] Sabbati-Levi set up for a
Messiah in the Turkish empire, and was greatly caressed by the Jews; but
in a short time his folly was made
manifest. See Sir Paul Rycaut's History.
- The popish religion doth, in effect, set up a
false Christ; the Pope comes, in Christ's name, as his vicar, but invades
and usurps all his offices, and so is a rival with him, and, as such, an
enemy to him, a deceiver, and an antichrist.” ~Matthew Henry
Don’t get distracted by end-time guessing games.
Don’t take your eyes off of Jesus and start following somebody who is not
There is another more common problem, and that is
when people tell each other, “The Lord told me…” based on nothing more
than the thinking that came out of their own head. This is an abusive use
of the Lord’s name. Folks, this kind of
stuff will lead astray everyone who pays attention to it.
- The Jehovah’s Witnesses started around a man who
predicted the return of Christ back in the 1800’s.
- Many others, including the Seventh Day
Adventists have done the same thing.
- Anybody remember the “88 reasons why Jesus is
coming back in 1988?” It came back around in 2004, didn’t it? And it’ll
come around again, you just wait.
- “Those that are most inquisitive
concerning the secret things which belong not to them are most easily
imposed upon by seducers.” ~Matthew Henry
24:6 And y’all are about
to hear of wars and hearsay about wars. Keep seeing to it that y’all don’t keep
being startled, for it is necessary for all things to happen, but the end is
ακοας πολεμων. Ορατε
δει γαρ παντα
ουπω εστιν το
- The command in this verse is a synonym of the
Greek word used back in v.4 – watch out for false prophets, and watch out
for fearmongering. You’re going to hear the news of wars, and you’re going
to hear rumors about conflicts which may (or may not be) actual wars, but
don’t cry out in alarmNIV,ESV and frightNAS every
time you hear of a new spate of killings – don’t let your heart be
troubledKJV – Don’t let fear
and anxiety cause you to stray and take your eyes off Christ.
- Why? The reason
Jesus gives is interesting: It’s because these wars are not accidents,
they “must take placeNAS,ESV” before the end. What does it mean
they “must come to passKJV”? I suggest that the only thing
which makes an event so inevitable is that it is the will of God. I
believe Jesus is saying here that we can be free from anxiety when we
realize that God is sovereign, and everything that happens is under His
Now, there is more to say about this verse and
the immediately following ones, but that is going to have to wait. I
noticed as I looked at how other pastors preached through Matthew 24, that
it takes a lot of introducing, that it takes multiple sermons to present
the whole picture, and that you have to jump around the chapter a bit to
string themes together. So I apologize for abruptly cutting off the sermon
here, but the next good stopping place would take another 40 minutes of
exposition to get to, so we’ll pick up where we left off next time.
- The disciples
needed to know that the apostate Jews of their day must be punished for
rejecting the Messiah; that was God’s just decree, and nothing to get
- Even today, just
because everybody is killing each other doesn’t mean it’s the end of the
world, and it is not a reason to throw our hands up in despair.
- Cf. Chrysostom’s homily on this passage: “He
speaks not of battles only, but also of plagues sent from God, famines,
and pestilences, and earthquakes, showing that the wars also He Himself
permitted to come upon them, and that these things do not happen for no
purpose according to what has been before the accustomed course of things
amongst men, but proceed from the wrath on high.”
- “The consideration
of the unchangeableness of the divine counsels, which govern all events,
should compose and quiet our spirits, whatever happens.” ~Matthew Henry
What’s the main thing to remember about the end times?
Don’t take your eyes off Christ!
Let us be careful not to be too impressed with earthly projects, whether it be:
- grand buildings like Herod’s temple
- grand catastrophes
- grand leaders
- grand business ventures
- grand theatrical performances and CGI effects, or
- grand schemes by charitable organizations or
governments to fix the problems of the world.
Remember that the end is coming and that it’s all going to burn (2
“The most beautiful body will be shortly worms' meat, and the most
beautiful building a ruinous heap.” ~Matthew Henry
Instead, let us keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the author and finisher
of our faith, by reading His word, praying to Him, doing His will, and turning
our thoughts to where He is, seated at God’s right hand, preparing to return
and take us with Him to heaven!