In the spirit of the title of this thread lets see what is actually written in the bible to clear up any confusion. To anyone who is still unsure as to what the passages in Matthew are about, please, just read your bible. It's quite plain.
The passages in question are just after Jesus gave to Jewish priests a good talking too. So, lets start at the beginning.
Matthew 21: 1 - 21
Jesus makes his grand entrance into Jerusalem as the heir to David’s throne.
He sees what has happened to the temple (a place for selling and changing money) and turns the place upside down. He heals a few people,
Then after a small exchange with some priests, he heads off the Bethany to spend the night.
In the morning they eats some figs.
Matthew 21: 23 - 45
He then goes back to the temple. He starts talking with the chief priests and elders. They question his authority.
There is the parable of the two sons, and the tenants. And, then Jesus starts to piss off the priests.
v45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
Matthew 22:1 - 14 (still at the temple) is the parable of the wedding banquet.
Vs 15 - 22
The priests try to trick Jesus, and so he replies with 'paying taxes to Caesar'.
Vs 23 - 33
Marriage after the resurrection explained.
Vs 34 - 36
They test him again, the greatest law. Love of God and then neighbor.
Vs 41 - 44
Jesus then asks them the Question of who is the son of David, where: 46No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Matt 23: (still at the temple) (all quotes from the NWT)
This is when Jesus really goes for it. This is when he stamps his authority.
1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples,
Note: Okay, REMEMBER to whom Jesus is talking to!
saying: 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses. 3 Therefore all the things they tell YOU, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform. 4 They bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger. 5 All the works they do they do to be viewed by men; for they broaden the [scripture-containing] cases that they wear as safeguards, and enlarge the fringes [of their garments]. 6 They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues, 7 and the greetings in the marketplaces and to be called Rabbi by men.
8 But YOU, do not YOU be called Rabbi, for one is YOUR teacher, whereas all YOU are brothers. 9 Moreover, do not call anyone YOUR father on earth, for one is YOUR Father, the heavenly One. 10 Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for YOUR Leader is one, the Christ. 11 But the greatest one among YOU must be YOUR minister. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
"Leader" and "minister" here are rendered "Teacher" and "servant" in other translations.
13 “Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for YOU yourselves do not go in, neither do YOU permit those on their way in to go in. 14 ——
15 “Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one YOU make him a subject for Ge·hen´na twice as much so as yourselves.
16 “Woe to YOU, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is under obligation.’ 17 Fools and blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, the gold or the temple that has sanctified the gold? 18 Also, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is under obligation.’ 19 Blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he that swears by the altar is swearing by it and by all the things on it; 21 and he that swears by the temple is swearing by it and by him that is inhabiting it; 22 and he that swears by heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by him that is sitting on it.
23 “Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but YOU have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things. 24 Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel!
25 “Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of plunder and immoderateness. 26 Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside of it also may become clean.
27 “Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. 28 In that way YOU also, outwardly indeed, appear righteous to men, but inside YOU are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU build the graves of the prophets and decorate the memorial tombs of the righteous ones, 30 and YOU say, ‘If we were in the days of our forefathers, we would not be sharers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Therefore YOU are bearing witness against yourselves that YOU are sons of those who murdered the prophets.32 Well, then, fill up the measure of YOUR forefathers.
REMEMBER Vs 33 - 36
33 “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are YOU to flee from the judgment of Ge·hen´na?
34 For this reason, here I am sending forth to YOU prophets and wise men and public instructors. Some of them YOU will kill and impale, and some of them YOU will scourge in YOUR synagogues and persecute from city to city; 35 that there may come upon YOU all the righteous blood spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to
the blood of Zech·a·ri´ah son of Bar·a·chi´ah, whom YOU murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.36 Truly I say to YOU, All these things will come upon this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her,—how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But YOU people did not want it. 38 Look! YOUR house is abandoned to YOU.
REMEMBER Vs. 39!
39 For I say to YOU, YOU will by no means see me from henceforth until YOU say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name!’”
Matt 24:1 (All taken from NWT unless otherwise stated)
Departing now, Jesus was on his way from the temple, but his disciples approached to show him the buildings of the temple. 2 In response he said to them: “Do YOU not behold all these things? Truly I say to YOU, By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.”
3 While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”
Note: The Mount of Olives is on the opposite side of a small valley from the temple and about an hours walk.
The two parallel accounts say this:
Mark 13:4; 4 “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are destined to come to a conclusion?”
Luke 21:7 Then they questioned him, saying: “Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are destined to occur?”
That was quite a day for the disciples. Jesus did not pussyfoot around at the temple. He told the people and his disciples the seven Woes to the scribes and Pharisees, he said that the blood of the righteous, from Abel to Zechariah, will be on them (the religious leaders). He completely denounces them (the religious leaders) saying they will be judged in Gehenna. And, 23:36; Truly I say to YOU, All these things will come upon this generation.
Yep, that was quite a day for his disciples. And, to top it all, on leaving the temple on the way to the Mount of Olives he told his disciples the temple was going to be destroyed. What was the on their mind?
Using the CONTEXT of their two-fold question (in the same sentence), they can only be referring to the same time. When was it going to be destroyed, and, what will be the sign that it is about to happen.
The NIV translates the passages as this: 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" The Mark and Luke accounts say the same thing. "When will this (or these) things happen? They were not talking about the destruction of the planet, they were asking about the destruction of Jerusalem.
As has been shown in this thread, the apostles believed Jesus would set up a physical kingdom on the earth, at Jerusalem. So, when was this going to happen, and what would be the sign of you coming to Jerusalem and the end of the current corrupt Jewish religion?
Remember Jesus knew that the Romans were going to destroy Jerusalem. That happens in 70 A.D. So he gives them advise and warnings and signs.
Back to the text:
4 And in answer Jesus said to them: “Look out that nobody misleads YOU; 5 for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 YOU are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; see that YOU are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet.
7 “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. 8 All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress. (or NIV 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.)
Josephus records that just before the destruction of Jerusalem, Rome underwent a violent political period. Four emperors: Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius suffered violent deaths, in eighteen months. Bardanes, and Volageses, declared war against the Jews, but it was not executed. Syria, declared war against Aretas, king of Arabia, and wished to lead his army through Palestine, but the death of Tiberius prevented the war.
9 “Then people will deliver YOU up to tribulation and will kill YOU, and YOU will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name. 10 Then, also, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and mislead many; 12 and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off. 13 But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.
Remember Matt 23:33. He is repeating what he said previously. He knew it was going to be hard, but was encouraging then keep going. And, to watch out for those false prophets.
Paul also wrote how the gospel "had" been preached to all the nations "before" the destruction of Jerusalem. Rom 1:8; “First of all, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of YOU, because YOUR faith is talked about throughout the whole world.” Fulfilling Jesus' words.
15 “Therefore, when YOU catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, (let the reader use discernment,) 16 then let those in Ju·de´a begin fleeing to the mountains. 17 Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house; 18 and let the man in the field not return to the house to pick up his outer garment. 19 Woe to the pregnant women and those suckling a baby in those days! 20 Keep praying that YOUR flight may not occur in wintertime, nor on the sabbath day; 21 for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. 22 In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.
With the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, the Romans entered and put up statues of their Gods in its place. They would be seen as the disgusting thing. Jesus tells his disciples to flee to the mountains when they "SEE" them come.
If God didn't step in all of Judea would be slaughtered. Josephus records the destruction of the area. Absolute desolation, with thousands of bodies lying in the streets. The Roman general who set up the siege of Jerusalem returns to Rome to become the new emperor and sends his son back to Jerusalem to finish the job. During that siege, his disciples would have "SEEN" food shortages, pestilence, quaking earth, and people fighting each other. At any opportunity, especially during a lull in the siege, the signs were there for them to flee to safety. All these things had to take place, but the end of Jerusalem was not yet.
23 “Then if anyone says to YOU, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. 25 Look! I have forewarned YOU. 26 Therefore, if people say to YOU, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner chambers,’ do not believe it. 27 For just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence of the Son of man will be. 28 Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
Once again, don't listen to people who will say they are Christ, because they are lying.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.
Just before Jesus was killed he said the same thing to the chief priests and Sanhedrin in Jerusalem: Matt 26:64 “Jesus said to him: “You yourself said [it]. Yet I say to YOU men, From henceforth YOU will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.””
Also, remember Matthew 23: 39 "For I say to YOU, YOU will by no means see me from henceforth until YOU say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name!’”
After all the things they have seen so far, the big stuff happens. Jerusalem gets destroyed. Gods judgment on Jerusalem happens, and his prophecies are validated. Then they will know that Jesus is in heaven, that he spoke the truth and that judgment is given.
32 “Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, YOU know that summer is near. 33 Likewise also YOU, when YOU see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. 34 Truly I say to YOU that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.
Jesus tells his disciples how to see the signs of Jerusalem’s imminent destruction. He also tells them how soon it is going to be. Within the time of their generation, or contemporaries.
36 “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. 38 For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; 39 and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; 41 two women will be grinding at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned. 42 Keep on the watch,
therefore, because YOU do not know on what day YOUR Lord is coming.
43 “But know one thing, that if the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 On this account YOU too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that YOU do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.
45 “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. 47 Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings. 48 “But if ever that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ 49 and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, 51 and will punish him with the greatest severity and will assign him his part with the hypocrites. There is where [his] weeping and the gnashing of [his] teeth will be.
Jesus once again tells them to be alert for the signs, so they can flee to the mountains and salvation. Also, to let others know for their survival. In fact, if they didn't preach these messages to other, they would be made to suffer like the hypocrites mentioned in chapter 23.
That's it, from the bible.
The whole of Chapter 24 is with regard to the destruction of Jerusalem. When it will happen, and how will the disciples know it was about to happen, and how they can survive. Nothing more. Nothing less.