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If the reader is already acquainted with the popular commentators, or with the remarks of Universalist writers, on this chapter, we would apprize him beforehand that he will find but little important matter that is new in the following exposition. Still, it has cost us much time in ascertaining, as precisely as we could, the detail of particulars alluded to, and in tracing out the current of thought that runs through the whole, and also in verifying facts and authorities which others had adduced. We had found some inaccuracies of statement, and soine confusion of arrangement, in the notes of Dr. A. Clarke, for instance; and we hoped, by unwearied vigilance, to avoid such blemishes, and, by strictly following out the tenor of the prophecy, to place its several parts in a clearer and more thoroughly consistent light.
Our principal motive, however, in attempting a regular exposition of the twenty-fourth chapter, was, to open the way to a similar exposition of the twenty-fifth. The two chapters belong together, consisting of but one series of remarks; so that we cannot fairly come at the latter, without first going through with the former,-unless, indeed, we would begin in the middle of the discourse.
A few words may be needed to account for the insertion of the two columns of text, in
smaller type, that run immediately under St.
DATE, OCCASION, PRECEDING CONTEXT.
THE interview and conversation, related in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of St. Matthew, took place about A. D. 33; which was thirty-seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew, Mark, and Luke agree in representing that Jesus had just been publicly teaching in the temple, (Matt. xxi. 23 to xxiv. 1; Mark xii. 35 to xiii. 1; Luke xx. 1 to xxi. 5;) and according to Matthew, (xxiii. 1,) his disciples, as well as the multitude, were present. He there denounced the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees in the most unsparing manner, (Matt. xxiii. 13-35,) rebuking them for their exclusive spirit, their rapacity under the pretence of piety, their zeal in proselytizing, their eva- standing. This mention of its speedy desosion of their oaths, their neglect of the im-lation, and also of his coming in the name of portant matters of the law, their inward cor- the Lord, seems to have struck the disciples, ruption under a fair outside, and their murder- and to have occasioned the conversation reons hostility. He forewarned them that upon lated in the twenty-fourth chapter, which im them would come all the righteous blood diately follows, thus:
shed upon the earth. "Verily I say unto you," concluded he, "All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate; for I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!" (xxiii. 35-39,) meaning, by their "house," either their national condition, or, more probably, that house of their pride, the temple, in which he was then
1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him, for to show him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily, I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world,
1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones, and what buildings 2 are here! 2 And Jesus answering, said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he 2 said, As for these things which ye behold, the days shall come in which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, 3 over against the temple, Feter, and James, and John, and Andrew, asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled, [literally, ended ?] 5 And 4 Jesus, answering them, began to say, Take
And they asked him, saying, Master, but 3 when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to
thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited."
Ver. 3. —on the mount of Olives;] the sum
Ver. 1. Having finished the foregoing ad-mit of which was but little more than half a dress to the Jews, Jesus, with his disciples, mile, on an air-line, from the temple, or eastern wall of the city, and directly east from now leaves the temple, to go towards (ver. 3) the mount of Olives. As they depart, the the temple. It was about 700 feet higher disciples point him to the buildings, &c. of than the intervening valley of Jehoshaphat; the temple, which they had just understood overlooked even the temple itself, and comhim to say (xxiii. 38) should be left desolate. manded a view of every part of the city.-The privately, saying, &c.;] According to the more definite account given disciples came.. by Mark, it is but one of them who says, privately, or, by themselves, probably be"Master, see what manner of stones, and cause it was dangerous to speak openly of what buildings!" astonished, perhaps, that the destruction of the temple, (see Matt. so magnificent and solid a structure was to be xxvi. 61,) and because they also knew that destroyed. For, Josephus says, that the Christ was wont to speak more plainly with them only, than before the multitude. It stones of this temple were about 45 feet long, by 22 wide, and 14 thick; some of them, in- should be kept in mind, that all which follows deed, nearly twice as long. in this and the next chapter, was a private The temple itself, exclusive of the immense assemblage conversation, held on the mount of Olives. of courts, cloisters, and walls around it, was about 182 feet long, and 127 wide; and 182 high, above the lofty foundation-wall. It was covered all over with plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendour, and made those, who forced themselves to look upon it, to turn away their eyes, just as they would have done at the sun's own rays. But this temple appeared to strangers, when they were coming to it, at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow; for, as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were very exceeding white," that is, of white marble. (J. War, v. c. v. 4, 6. Ant. xv. c. xi. 3.)
When shall these things (viz. the things just spoken of) be? and what the sign of thy coming, (parousia,) and of the end of the age,* (tēs sunteleias tou aiōnos?)] It
Ver. 2.-not be left here one stone upon another, &c.;] a strong, proverbial phrase, signifying only a complete demolition, (2 Sam. xvii. 13.) Accordingly, when Titus took Jerusalem, about thirty-seven years afterwards, he gave orders," says Josephus, "that they should demolish the whole city and temple," (J. War, vii. c. i. 1;) and he adds, that the entire circuit of the city, except the western wall and three towers, was so
"End of the age:" so this text is translated by Ham mond, Le Clerc, Whitby, Pearce, Beausobre, and Lenfant, (fin du sicèle,) Doddridge, Macknight, and Paulus; besides Wakefield, Improved Version, and Kenrick. Dr A. Clarke seems to prefer this rendering, and even Scott hesitates be tween it and the common one. Dr. Campbell renders it am biguously, conclusion of this state. The usual meaning of the original term, aion, is age, or great length of time. It is a word radically different from those rendered world in other verses (14, 21) of this chapter. The Jews were accustomed to divide the entire duration of time into two great ages, viz. the age before the beginning of the Messiah's reign, and the age after this age, and the age to come; the present age, and the future. It was understood that the age then present, was to end when the Messiah should overthrow his enemies and establish his kingdom; and this was probably the idea that suggested the expression in the text. So St. Paul says,
to the Corinthians, facts in the Old
of the world, (ages, suntelia, tōn aionon,) hath he [Christ]
were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends f the world (ages, ta tele ton, aionim,) are come." (1 Cor x, 11.) So, too, he says, to the Hebrews, "now once in the end appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (Heb. ix 25.) On the same principle, we often find the phrase "the last days" applied, in the New Testament, to the time then present.
sometimes used by the Jews for the material world: as exMost critics, however, are agreed that the term, aiễn, was amples in the New Testament, they quote Heb. i. 2; xí 3.
[literally, of the age?] 4 And Jesus ye shall hear of wars and rumours of answered and said unto them, Take heed wars: see that ye be not troubled: for that no man deceive you: 5 For many all these things must come to pass, but shall come in my name, saying, I am the end is not yet. For nation shall Christ; and shall deceive many. 6. And rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and
heed lest any man deceive you: For many 5 shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; 6 and shall deceive many. And when ye
4,5 pass? And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
is sometimes contended that here are three questions: 1. When shall these things (viz. the destruction of the temple, &c.) be? 2. What shall be the sign of thy coming (to bring this destruction)? and, 3. What shall be the sign of the end of the world itself?—a very different event! Now there are, at the most, but two questions here, or rather but one inquiry put in two forms; first, respecting the time, and, secondly, respecting the signs thereof,thus: 1. When shall these things be? and, 2. What the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world, or age?-not, What the sign of thy coming? and what the sign also of the end of the world? as of two separate events. The very form of the sentence shows that the disciples supposed that his coming, and what they called the end of the world, or age, would make but one event; and that the sign of the one would be the sign of the other. Were there any room still left for doubt here, it would be foreclosed by the form in which the other Evangelists record the question; Mark, thus: ". what the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled, or ended?" (panta tauta sunteleisthai? instead of Matthew's sunteleias tou aiōnos? the verb ended, instead of the noun end.) Likewise Luke, thus: "..... what sign when these things shall come to pass?" Accordingly, "these things," or the throwing down of the stones of the temple, &c., belonged to the same event with what was called Christ's coming and the end of the world, or age.
Ver. 4. Take heed, &c.] not to be deceived by the impostors who were soon to appear, as foretold in the next verse.
Ver. 5.-many shall come in my name, &c.] before that end, (ver. 6,) which was the
But, should this be admitted, and should we even grant what some contend for, that in the text the disciples used the term in this rare sense, still it would not materially affect the interpretation of this chapter and the following For it is evident that whatsoever the disciples understood by the end of the world, or age, it was something which they supposed would take place when the temple, &c, should be destroyed; and that their inquiry was meant to be directed to the time and circumstances of that event, and to no other period. In this sense only, did Mark and Luke understand their question; in this sense only, did Christ reply to it throughout the conversation; and in this sense only does he repeat the expression, "the end:" see ver. 6, 13, 14, and the corresponding passages in Mark and
shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation 7 shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be earthquakes
9 But when ye shall hear of wars, and com- 6
Ver. 7. For nation shall rise.....against kingdom;] occasioning those "rumours of wars," ver. 6. The terms, nation and kingdom, were sometimes applied, by the Jews, to any state, province, or even separate munitions, it appears that from about A. D. 48, cipal district. In fulfilment of these prediconwards, Palestine was in a state of constant agitation. First, the Jews were alarmed by the threatening of war from the emperor Calibroke out at Jerusalem, in which the Roman gula, (A. D. 48.) The same year, a tumult soldiers were attacked; also, the Galileans and people of Judea on the one hand, and the Samaritans on the other, rose against each other, but were quelled by the Roman troops. The country was filled with bands of robbers, who openly carried on their murders even in the cities; such was the public disorder! In A. D. 54, a massacre took place between the Jews and Syrians, in Cesarea, and a body of Roman troops was sent against them. Thus the outrages increased, till, in A. D. 66, an extensive revolt of the Jews broke forth throughout Palestine. They slaughtered th at Mand new massa
pestilences, and earthquakes in divers another, and shall hate one another.
8 in divers places, and there shall be famines, and troubles: these are the beginnings of 9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in
divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights, and great signs shall there 9 be from heaven. 12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute at Cesarea and Jerusalem were followed by their laying waste the province of Perea, and the eities of Tyre, Cesarea, Samaria, and Askelon; while, on the other hand, the Syrians ravaged Scythopolis, &c. (Jos. Ant. xviii. c. viii. 1, 2. War, ii. c. x.-c. xviii. Ant. xx. c. v. and vi.)—there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes.] According ly, there were, in A. D. 45, and onwards, famines in Palestine, (foretold, Acts xi. 28,) which were so severe, particularly at Jerusalem, that many perished with hunger, (Jos. Ant. xx. c. ii. 5. c. v. 2.) Of pestilences and earthquakes in Palestine, at this time, we have no account in history, unless we include Josephus's notice of an earthquake in A. D. 67. (War, iv. c. iv. 5,) which seems, however, too late a period, (see ver. 8.) As earthquakes, however, are not unfrequent in Palestine, and as pestilences are the usual concomitants of famines, we may suppose there were some of which no mention has been preserved.*
the synagogues ye shall be beaten and ye
you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and
tament sense, is to be induced to evil; (see
Ver. 11.-false prophets, &c.] See note on ver. 5. Probably, however, false teachers among professed Christians are here meant; of whom we have abundant mention in the Epistles of the New Testament, written just before the siege of Jerusalem.
Ver. 8. these are the beginning of sorrows;] the earlier and less aggravated evils. Sorrows: an allusion, in the original, to labourpains.
Ver. 12. Many Christians, on seeing the apostasy and treachery of their brethren, (ver. 10,) would grow discouraged, and suspicious of each other.
Ver. 13. he that shall endure unto the end;] neither overcome by persecution, nor deceived by the false teachers, nor discouraged by the defections of others, but who shall continue faithful until "the end," concerning which ye inquired, (ver. 3,) &c. -shall be saved;] i. e. preserved, rescued from these dangers; or, as Luke expresses it, “there shall not a hair of your head perish." Accordingly, Eusebius says that the people of the church at Jerusalem, by the command of a divine revelation given to their principal men before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella; so that those who believed in Christ forsook Jerusalem, and holy men abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judea." (Hist. Eccl. iii. 5.) Thus, they were saved; and after the dispersion of their bitter persecutors, the Jews, a period of relief and prosperity awaited them: as Christ told them, (according to Luke xxi. 28,) to "look up," when they should see the end of the Jewish nation, "and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.'
Ver. 14. this gospel of the kingdom;] of Christ's kingdom, or reign. -shall be preached in all the world,] before that end come; (see Mark.) World, in the original, oikoumenē,-a word which was frequently applied,
Ver. 9. Then,] i. e. in those times; partly before, as well as after, according to Luke. -shall they deliver you, &c.] All this took place, as is well known from the book of Acts. ye shall be hated of all nations, &c.;] not only by the Jews, but by the Gentiles also. That this, too, was verified, see Acts and the Epistles.
Ver. 10. To be offended, in the New Tes
* I retain the term "earthquakes," because such is the usual cleaning of the original word found here, and in Mark and Luke; but it might possibly be rendered commotions. Two remarks more: 1. I have confined the allusions, in the text, to Palestine: in other countries, this period was marked with wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, of which many commentators avail themselves. 2 Though I have applied these predictions thus in minute detail, yet, as a general rule, a prophecy, like a parable, should be interpreted more in the gross, and not by taking every par. ticular separately. Even in these 6th and 7th verses, the correct way, perhaps, would be, to take the wars, rumours of wars, nation rising against nation, &c., famines, pesti lences and earthquakes, as denoting only in general a time commotion and distress.
be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end
15 When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him under
no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak 10 ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12 Now, the brother shall betray the
brother to death, and the father the son: and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. 9 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my 13 name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him
by the New Testament writers, and Jewish authors of their day, to a large part merely of the world then known, to the extent of the Roman empire, &c.*. Notwithstanding the scantiness of ecclesiastical records of that age, enough remain to show that, before the destruction of Jerusalem, the gospel was actually preached in almost every province of the Roman empire, and in some countries to the east of it. and then shall the end come,] of which the disciples had inquired, (ver. 3,) the end of Jerusalem and of the Jewish Bation.
Ver. 15. In this verse, Christ advertises them of the particular event which should betoken the near approach of that end, and be the signal for them to flee. Substituting the plainer language of Luke, for the obscurer expressions of Matthew and Mark, it was when they should "see Jerusalem compassed with armies."-the abomination of desolation] was accordingly, the Roman armies.- spoken of by Daniel] see Dan. ix. 27; xi. 31; xii.
stand.) 16 Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house. 18 Neither let him which is in the field
It is the word used in Luke ii. 1,-"There went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed;" where in can, of course, include no more than the Roman empire. It is used also in Acts xi. 28; xix. 27; xxiv. 5; where it must be taken with equal, and sometimes even more, restriction. Josephus repeatedly uses it, when he means to include only the extent of an empire, and some times merely of a province: see Ant. viii. c. xiii 4 where he says that Ahab sent persons over all the world to discover the prophet Elijah; he also makes Obadiah to remind the
prophet that the king had sought for him over all the world;
though it is evident, from the nature of the case, that no
that readeth understand,) then let them that 16 be in Judea flee to the mountains: 15 And 17 let him that is on the house-top not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take anything out of his house: 16 And let him 18 that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. 17 But woe to them 19
20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem com
before, what ye shall answer. 15 For I will" the abomination of desolations," is expressgive you a mouth and wisdom, which all ly connected with the desolation of the temyour adversaries shall not be able to gainsay ple and city. Josephus says, (Ant. x. c. xi. nor resist. 16 And ye shall be betrayed both 7,) that Daniel here foretold the desolation by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and of his country by the Romans, as well as by friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17 And ye shall be hated of Antiochus Epiphanes; and such was probaall men for my name's sake. 18 But there bly the general opinion of the Jews. The shall not a hair of your head perish. 19 In Roman armies were an abomination to the your patience possess ye your souls. Jews, for they were idolaters, and carried with them the ensigns as well as the rites of idolatry; that they also made desolate, needs not be shown. -standing in the holy place ;] not in the city itself, but on the ground immediately "compassing" it, (see Luke,) which also was regarded as holy. Jerusalem was accordingly besieged by the Roman general, Cestius Gallus, in Oct. A. D. 66, who even penetrated into the lower town, and might then, says Josephus, have taken the whole city, had he persevered. But, apprehending treachery, and insidiously dissuaded by some of his officers, he suddenly retreated, to the astonishment of the Jews themselves, (J. War, ii. c. xix. 6-9.) Thus, Jerusalem was spared nearly four years longer, and abundant opportunity afforded the Christians to flee from the city and country; and this was probably the time of their flight, mentioned by Eusebius; (see notes on ver. 13.)
Ver. 16. them which be in Judea, &c. ;] not only those that should be in Jerusalem, but all the Christians in Judea, were then to flee, as it appears from Eusebius (see notes to ver. 13) they actually did. Josephus says that many of the most eminent Jews now swam away from the city, as from a ship when it was going to sink." (J. War, ii. c. xx. 1, and c. xix. 6.) From this time till the overthrow of the city, the whole country lay in all the horrors of a bloody anarchy; (see notes to ver. 21.)
passed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them 16 which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the
11; where "the abomination that maketh desolate," or, as the Septuagint renders it,
Ver. 17, 18. Strong, hyperbolic expressions, urging them to be instant in their fight let him which is on the house-top not