Most mainstream theologians believe the passage in Mattew 24 has several different deminsions, here are some commentaries;
In the prophecy of this chapter, there is a double reference: first, to the destruction of the temple, and as connected with this the overthrow of the Jewish state and nation; secondly, to the end of the world. Both these events are included in the question of the disciples, ver 3, who seem to have connected them as inseparable from each other. The providential coming of the Son of man to destroy the city and temple, which was to be fulfilled before that generation had passed away, shadows forth, therefore, his more awful and majestic personal coming at "the end of the world." So far as the outward form of the prophecy is concerned, the first part is more occupied with the nearer event; the later, with the more distant. But it was not our Lord's purpose to reveal distinctly the separation of the two by a vast interval of time. The signs of the approaching
catastrophy--wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, persecution, false prophets, etc.--were all fulfilled, as the history of these times shows, in respect to its nearer fulfilment in the destruction of Jerusalem. Another fulfilment remains for the last days. The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars, ver. 29, was fulfilled symbolically at the overthrow of the Jewish temple and city, this
being a well-known emblem of revolutions and the fall of nations. (Isa 13:10). But it shall be literally fulfilled when heaven and earth shall pass away. The temple; this temple was built by the Jews after their return from the Babylonish captivity, and greatly enlarged and beautified by Herod.~Family Bible Notes
Our blessed Saviour had often acquainted his disciples with his
approaching death at Jerusalem. The Son of man must go up to
Jerusalem to be crucified. Now in this chapter he acquaints them
with the destruction that should come upon Jerusalem in general,
and upon the temple in particular, for their putting him, the Son of
God, to death. The disciples, looking upon the temple with wonder
and admiration, were apt to think that the temple, in regard of its
invincible strength, could not be destroyed; or, at the least, in regard
of its incredible magnificence, it was great pity it should be
destroyed; and accordingly they say to Christ, See what goodly
buildings are here. As if they had said, Master, what great pity it
is, that such a magnificent structure should become a ruinous heap!
But hence we learn, 1. That sin brings cities and kingdoms, as well
as particular and private persons to their end. There are no places so
strong, but an Almighty God is able to destroy them, and sin is
sufficient to lay them waste.
Observe, 2. That the threatenings of God are to be feared, and shall
be fulfilled, whatever appearing improbabilities there may be to the
contrary. God had threatened Jerusalem with destruction for her sin,
and now it is not all her strength that can oppose his power.
Learn, 3. That notwithstanding magnificence and worldly glory doth
mightily dazzle our eye, yet how little doth it affect Christ's heart.
Even the temple itself, that most magnificent structure. Christ values
no more than an heap of rubbish, when the impiety of the
worshippers had devoted it to destruction.
Not one stone, says Christ, shall be left upon another unthrown
down. This threatening was fulfilled forty years after Christ's death,
when Titus the Roman emperor destroyed the city and burnt the
temple, and Turnus Rufus, the general of his army, ploughed up the
very foundation upon which the temple stood. Thus was the
threatening of God fulfilled, Zion shall be ploughed as a field, and
Jerusalem shall become heaps. Jer 26:18.
The truth and veracity, the faithfulness and fidelity of God, is as
much concerned in the execution of his threatenings, as in the
performance of his promises.~Burkett
Mr 13:1-37. CHRIST'S PROPHECY OF THE DESTRUCTION OF
JERUSALEM, AND WARNINGS SUGGESTED BY IT TO PREPARE FOR HIS
SECOND COMING. ( = Mt 24:1-51; Lu 21:5-36).
Jesus had uttered all His mind against the Jewish ecclesiastics,
exposing their character with withering plainness, and denouncing,
in language of awful severity, the judgments of God against them for
that unfaithfulness to their trust which was bringing ruin upon the
nation. He had closed this His last public discourse (Mt 23:1-39) by
a passionate lamentation over Jerusalem, and a solemn farewell to
the temple. "And," says Matthew (Mt 24:1), "Jesus went out and
departed from the temple"--never more to re-enter its precincts, or
open His mouth in public teaching. With this act ended His public
ministry. As He withdrew, says OLSHAUSEN, the gracious presence
of God left the sanctuary; and the temple, with all its service, and
the whole theocratic constitution, was given over to destruction.
What immediately followed is, as usual, most minutely and
graphically described by our Evangelist.
1. And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples
saith unto him--The other Evangelists are less definite. "As some
spake," says Luke (Lu 21:5); "His disciples came to Him," says
Matthew (Mt 24:2). Doubtless it was the speech of one, the
mouthpiece, likely, of others.
see what manner of stones and what buildings are
here--wondering probably, how so massive a pile could be
overthrown, as seemed implied in our Lord's last words regarding it.
JOSEPHUS, who gives a minute account of the wonderful structure,
speaks of stones forty cubits long [Wars of the Jews, 5.5.1.] and
says the pillars supporting the porches were twenty-five cubits high,
all of one stone, and that of the whitest marble [Wars of the Jews,
5.5.2]. Six days' battering at the walls, during the siege, made no
impression upon them [Wars of the Jews, 6.4.1]. Some of the
under-building, yet remaining, and other works, are probably as old
as the first temple.~Jamieson Faucette Brown
Christ foretells the destruction of the temple. (Mt 24:1-3) The
troubles before the destruction of Jerusalem. (Mt 24:4-28) Christ
foretells other signs and miseries, to the end of the world. (Mt
24:29-41) Exhortations to watchfulness. (Mt 24:42-51)
Christ's preaching was mostly practical; but, in this chapter, we have a
prophetical discourse, a prediction of things to come; such however as had a
practical tendency, and was intended, not to gratify the curiosity of his disciples,
but to guide their consciences and conversations, and it is therefore concluded
with a practical application. The church has always had particular prophecies,
besides general promises, both for direction and for encouragement to believers;
but it is observable, Christ preached this prophetical sermon in the close of his
ministry, as the Apocalypse is the last book of the New Testament, and the
prophetical books of the Old Testament are placed last, to intimate to us, that we
must be well grounded in plain truths and duties, and those must first be well
digested, before we dive into those things that are dark and difficult; many run
themselves into confusion by beginning their Bible at the wrong end. Now, in this
chapter, we have, I. The occasion of this discourse, Mt 24:1-3. II. The discourse
itself, in which we have, 1. The prophecy of divers events, especially referring to
the destruction of Jerusalem, and the utter ruin of the Jewish church and nation,
which were not hastening on, and were completed about forty years after; the
prefaces to that destruction, the concomitants and consequences of it; yet looking
further, to Christ's coming at the end of time, and the consummation of all things,
of which that was a type and figure, Mt 24:4-31. 2. The practical application of
this prophecy for the awakening and quickening of his disciples to prepare for
these great and awful things, Mt 24:32-51.~Mathew Henry
The Judgments on the Jewish Nation
SUMMARY OF MATTHEW 24: The Temple to Be Utterly Destroyed.
The Questions Asked on the Mount of Olives. Wars and Rumors of
Wars Predicted. False Prophets and Christs. The Sign for Flight
from Jerusalem. The Great Tribulation. How the Son of Man Shall
Come. The Sun Darkened. The Coming of the Son of Man. This
Generation. The Time of Christ's Coming Unknown. Injunction to Be
Always in Readiness.
And Jesus went out of the temple. Immediately after the
discourse in which he pronounced the woes upon the scribes and
Pharisees, upon the temple and Jerusalem. This remarkable chapter
is not one upon which commentators are agreed, and the
conclusions that I have reached on the points of difference will not be
found identical with those of any other writer. I believe, however, that
they will be found harmonious with the Scripture. Compare Mr
13:1-37; Lu 21:5-36.
His disciples . . . shew him the buildings of the temple. He had
just foreshadowed its destruction. With this in mind they point out
its splendor, especially the amazing stones used in its construction.
Compare Mr 13:1; Lu 21:5. The temple had been rebuilt in great
splendor by Herod, and was not fully completed until about thirty
years after the Savior's crucifixion.~People's New Testament Commentary