I write this blog anachronistically. The contents of this blog were at one time a short Facebook post. I have been reading through the book of Matthew and posting my brief devotional thoughts online. Matthew 24 is a controversial passage, and so my comments produced much intrigue; thus, I began to dedicate the following devotionals to longer blog posts as the chapter required more thorough explanation.
I ended up writing a blog throughout the rest of the chapter. Those can be found here, here, and here. I did not want to have 3/4 of Matthew blogged out, and therefore I wrote this prequel blog in order to cover the entire chapter.
As a partial-preterist, I view most of Matthew 24 as being past events, dealing specifically with the destruction of the Temple and God’s judgment on Israel, rather than viewing the entire text as a prophesy of end-times events.
The beginning context is a very important one, as it sets the stage for the rest of my interpretation. The text under scope for this blog is Matthew 24: 1-15;
“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.’ 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?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. ‘Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’”
Many people read these warning signs as something we ought to look for today in order to hint at an eminent return from Christ. However, these things have already been fulfilled.
One thing is clear, Jesus begins the text by speaking of a physical destruction of the Temple. The burden of proof then is on those who oppose my position to demonstrate where Jesus shifts topics in the text.
Not only does Jesus not do so, but the text does quite the opposite. After Jesus leaves the Temple, the disciples ask Him, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
The apostles ask Jesus to elaborate on what He already spoke about, the destruction of the Temple. That means Jesus answer must be limited to that particular context.
This is made more clear throughout Jesus’ answer as he clearly identifies the disciples as personally experiencing the events he mentions. Verse 15 begins with “So when you see…”, which indicates what Jesus is talking about are things the disciples themselves will experience. Jesus simply cannot be talking about the end of time.
More support of this would be the explicit fulfillment of the warnings in the New Testament themselves. The New Testament letters are filled with false converts, apostates, and other false teachers. The apostles were constantly warning their people of all of the godlessness and lawlessness Jesus predicted.
Jesus tells the disciples they themselves would experience the hatred of the world, and the book of Acts as well as many epistles document the apostolic persecution.
Lastly, a very important fulfillment is found in Verse 14. Jesus says the Gospel must go out to the entire world. Many people would deny this as being yet to happen because so many people groups in our own day are un-reached. However, that is not allowing Scripture to define its own terms. The Bible identified the Gospel as having gone out to the entire world in the 1st century. Paul says this happened in the lifetime of the Apostles, by the end of the first century (Colossians 1:23).
In conclusion, Matthew 24 is a prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, not the second coming. And I sought to further demonstrate that in the previous posts.