Simple Question Re 1914

by Slidin Fast 540 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Jammer

    2/3's of the disciple's question had to do with the END of the age which began at the crucifixion of Jesus. It did not end in AD70.

    ...and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

    The gospel is still being preached so the end did NOT come in AD70.

    "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."

    The abomination has not yet been revealed.

    When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, and

    There were no celestial signs there was no gathering, so the Lord didn't return in AD70..

    WW 2 was far worse than AD70 to the Jews.

    "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."

    There's no doubt in my mind that Jesus and the fig tree illustration refer to the time the disciples about - the end of the age!

  • Vanderhoven7

    Hi Jammer

    I believe Matthew 24 is divided into two sections.

    1. From verses 1-35 Jesus answers the question about when the stones of the temple will fall and when and how to escape the destruction.

    2. From verses 36-end, Jesus explains about His second advent (parousia)

    I want you to notice the distinctions in material before and after verse 35 of Matthew 24.

    Matt 24:1-35 (re: the destruction of Jerusalem)

    Local, Jerusalem, Judea, Temple

    Abnormal Times: calamities

    Specific signs precede

    Timing Anticipated Lu.24:33

    These Days Mt.24:22

    Saints to flee on cue

    Surviving Jews led captive to all nations


    After verse 35 - Matt 24: 36 - end (re: the parousia)

    Worldwide not local: Lu.21:35

    Normal Times: Marrying, working in fields etc.

    No Signs Given

    Anticipation of Timing Impossible 24:44

    That Day (singular) Mt.24:36
    Saints taken, no fleeing required

    No one is taken captive and dispersed among the nations

  • Fisherman
    Impossible: -these buildings and are already destroyed.

    “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your Parousia and of the conclusion of the system of things?” 4 In answer Jesus said:”

    Jesus parousia did not occur back then and the world continued till its present age. Jesus answered more than one question. Part of his answer applies to the era of his return.

  • Vanderhoven7

    Hi Jammer,

    You, as most JWs really do have a problem answering straightforward questions about Matthew 24. You simply avoid them and carry on with your objections to other points of view. And that is because the WTS take on Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 is incoherent and confusing.

    Mine is simple and straightforward and clear: In Matthew 24

    verses 1-35 are about Jerusalem and its destruction and how to escape divine vengeance

    verses 36-end deal with the visible return of Christ and world judgment.

    Perhaps it is time to go verse by verse through Matthew 24 and we will see the answers to your questions. I will first post Clarke's Commentary. And in the process your objections will be dealt with.

  • Vanderhoven7

    FOR STARTERS Clarke's commentary on Verses 1-7


    Christ foretells the destruction of the temple, Matthew 24:1, Matthew 24:2. His disciples inquire when and what shall be the sign of this destruction, Matthew 24:3. Our Lord answers, and enumerates them - false Christs, Matthew 24:5. Wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, Matthew 24:6-8. Persecution of his followers, Matthew 24:9. Apostasy from the truth, Matthew 24:10-13. General spread of the Gospel, Matthew 24:14. He foretells the investment of the city by the Romans, Matthew 24:15-18. The calamities of those times, Matthew 24:19-22. Warns them against seduction by false prophets, Matthew 24:23-26. The suddenness of these calamities, Matthew 24:27, Matthew 24:28. Total destruction of the Jewish polity, Matthew 24:29-31. The whole illustrated by the parable of the fig-tree, Matthew 24:32, Matthew 24:33. The certainty of the event, though the time is concealed, Matthew 24:34-36. Careless state of the people, Matthew 24:37-41. The necessity of watchfulness and fidelity, illustrated by the parable of the two servants, one faithful, the other wicked, Matthew 24:42-51;

    This chapter contains a prediction of the utter destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, and the subversion of the whole political constitution of the Jews; and is one of the most valuable portions of the new covenant Scriptures, with respect to the evidence which it furnishes of the truth of Christianity. Every thing which our Lord foretold should come on the temple, city, and people of the Jews, has been fulfilled in the most correct and astonishing manner; and witnessed by a writer who was present during the whole, who was himself a Jew, and is acknowledged to be an historian of indisputable veracity in all those transactions which concern the destruction of Jerusalem. Without having designed it, he has written a commentary on our Lord's words, and shown how every tittle was punctually fulfilled, though he knew nothing of the Scripture which contained this remarkable prophecy. His account will be frequently referred to in the course of these notes; as also the admirable work of Bishop Newton on the prophecies.

    Verse 1

    And Jesus went out, and departed from, the temple - Or, And Jesus, going out of the temple, was going away. This is the arrangement of the words in several eminent manuscripts, versions, and fathers; and is much clearer than that in the common translation. The Jews say the temple was built of white and green-spotted marble. See Lightfoot. Josephus says the stones were white and strong; fifty feet long, twenty-four broad, and sixteen thick. Antiq. b. 15. c. xi. See Mark 13:1.

    Verse 2

    See ye not all these things? - The common text, and many manuscripts, have ου βλεπετε, Do ye not see, or consider? But the negative particle is omitted by several excellent manuscripts, by the Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Slavonic, Vulgate, and Itala versions, and by some of the primitive fathers, who all read it thus, see, or consider all these things.

    There shall not be left here one stone - These seem to have been the last words he spoke as he left the temple, into which he never afterwards entered; and, when he got to the mount of Olives, he renewed the discourse. From this mount, on which our Lord and his disciples now sat, the whole of the city, and particularly the temple, were clearly seen. This part of our Lord's prediction was fulfilled in the most literal manner. Josephus says, War, book vii. c. 1: "Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the whole city and temple, τε πολιν απασαν και τον νεων κατασκεπτειν, except the three towers, Phaselus, Hippicus, and Mariamne, and a part of the western wall, and these were spared; but, for all the rest of the wall, it was laid so completely even with the ground, by those who dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited." Maimonides, a Jewish rabbin, in Tract. Taanith, c. 4, says, "That the very foundations of the temple were digged up, according to the Roman custom." His words are these: "On that ninth day of the month Ab, fatal for vengeance, the wicked Turnus Rufus, of the children of Edom, ploughed up the temple, and the places round about it, that the saying might be fulfilled, Zion shall be ploughed as a field." This Turnus, or rather Terentius Rufus, was left general of the army by Titus, with commission, as the Jews suppose, to destroy the city and the temple, as Josephus observes.

    The temple was destroyed,

    1st. Justly; because of the sins of the Jews.

    2dly. Mercifully; to take away from them the occasion of continuing in Judaism: and

    3dly. Mysteriously; to show that the ancient sacrifices were abolished, and that the whole Jewish economy was brought to an end, and the Christian dispensation introduced.

    Verse 3

    Tell us, when shall these things be? - There appear to be three questions asked here by the disciples.

      1st. When shall these things be? viz. the destruction of the city, temple, and Jewish state.

    2dly. What shall be the sign of thy coming? viz. to execute these judgments upon them, and to establish thy own Church: and

      3dly. When shall this world end? When wilt thou come to judge the quick and the dead?

    But there are some who maintain that these are but three parts of the same question, and that our Lord's answers only refer to the destruction of the Jewish state, and that nothing is spoken here concerning the Last or judgment day.

    End of the world - Του αιωνος ; or, of the age, viz. the Jewish economy, which is a frequent accommodated meaning of the word Αιων, the proper meaning of which is, as Aristotle (De Caelo) observes, Eternal. Αιων, quasi αει ων continual being: and no words can more forcibly point out eternity than these. See the note on Genesis 21:33.

    Verse 4

    Take heed that no man deceive you - The world is full of deceivers, and it is only by taking heed to the counsel of Christ that even his followers can escape being ruined by them. From this to Matthew 24:31, our Lord mentions the signs which should precede his coming.

    The First sign is false Christs.

    Verse 5

    For many shall come in my name -

    1. Josephus says, (War, b. ii. c. 13), that there were many who, pretending to Divine inspiration, deceived the people, leading out numbers of them to the desert, pretending that God would there show them the signs of liberty, meaning redemption from the Roman power: and that an Egyptian false prophet led 30,000 men into the desert, who were almost all cut off by Felix. See Acts 21:38. It was a just judgment for God to deliver up that people into the hands of false Christs who had rejected the true one. Soon after our Lord's crucifixion, Simon Magus appeared, and persuaded the people of Samaria that he was the great power of God, Acts 8:9,Acts 8:10; and boasted among the Jews that he was the son of God.

    • Of the same stamp and character was also Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses.

    • About twelve years after the death of our Lord, when Cuspius Fadus was procurator of Judea, arose an impostor of the name of Theudas, who said he was a prophet, and persuaded a great multitude to follow him with their best effects to the river Jordan, which he promised to divide for their passage; and saying these things, says Josephus, he deceived many: almost the very words of our Lord.

    • A few years afterwards, under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea, impostors of this stamp were so frequent that some were taken and killed almost every day. Josephus. Ant. b. xx. c. 4. and 7.The Second sign, wars and commotions.

    Verse 6

    The next signs given by our Lord are wars and rumors of wars, etc. - These may be seen in Josephus, Ant. b. xviii. c. 9; War, b. ii. c. 10; especially as to the rumors of wars, when Caligula ordered his statue to be set up in the temple of God, which the Jews having refused, had every reason to expect a war with the Romans, and were in such consternation on the occasion that they even neglected to till their land.

    Verse 7

    Nation shall rise against nation - This portended the dissensions, insurrections and mutual slaughter of the Jews, and those of other nations, who dwelt in the same cities together; as particularly at Caesarea, where the Jews and Syrians contended about the right of the city, which ended there in the total expulsion of the Jews, above 20,000 of whom were slain. The whole Jewish nation being exasperated at this, flew to arms, and burnt and plundered the neighboring cities and villages of the Syrians, making an immense slaughter of the people. The Syrians, in return, destroyed not a less number of the Jews. At Scythopolis they murdered upwards of 13,000. At Ascalon they killed 2,500. At Ptolemais they slew 2000, and made many prisoners. The Tyrians also put many Jews to death, and imprisoned more: the people of Gadara did likewise; and all the other cities of Syria in proportion, as they hated or feared the Jews. As Alexandria the Jews and heathens fought, and 50,000 of the former were slain. The people of

  • Vanderhoven7

    Verse 7

    Nation shall rise against nation - This portended the dissensions, insurrections and mutual slaughter of the Jews, and those of other nations, who dwelt in the same cities together; as particularly at Caesarea, where the Jews and Syrians contended about the right of the city, which ended there in the total expulsion of the Jews, above 20,000 of whom were slain. The whole Jewish nation being exasperated at this, flew to arms, and burnt and plundered the neighboring cities and villages of the Syrians, making an immense slaughter of the people. The Syrians, in return, destroyed not a less number of the Jews. At Scythopolis they murdered upwards of 13,000. At Ascalon they killed 2,500. At Ptolemais they slew 2000, and made many prisoners. The Tyrians also put many Jews to death, and imprisoned more: the people of Gadara did likewise; and all the other cities of Syria in proportion, as they hated or feared the Jews. As Alexandria the Jews and heathens fought, and 50,000 of the former were slain. The people of Damascus conspired against the Jews of that city, and, assaulting them unarmed, killed 10,000 of them. See Bishop Newton, and Dr. Lardner.

    Kingdom against kingdom - This portended the open wars of different tetrarchies and provinces against each other.

      1st. That of the Jews and Galileans against the Samaritans, for the murder of some Galileans going up to the feast of Jerusalem, while Cumanus was procurator.

    2dly. That of the whole nation of the Jews against the Romans and Agrippa, and other allies of the Roman empire; which began when Gessius Florus was procurator.

      3dly. That of the civil war in Italy, while Otho and Vitellius were contending for the empire.

    It is worthy of remark, that the Jews themselves say, "In the time of the Messiah, wars shall be stirred up in the world; nation shall rise against nation, and city against city." Sohar Kadash. "Again, Rab. Eleasar, the son of Abina, said, When ye see kingdom rising against kingdom, then expect the immediate appearance of the Messiah." Bereshith Rabba, sect. 42.

      The Third sign, pestilence and famine.

    It is farther added, that There shall be famines, and pestilences - There was a famine foretold by Agabus, ( Acts 11:28;), which is mentioned by Suetonius, Tacitus, and Eusebius; which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar, and was so severe at Jerusalem that Josephus says (Ant. b. xx. c. 2). many died for lack of food. Pestilences are the usual attendants of famines: as the scarcity and badness of provisions generally produce epidemic disorders.

      The Fourth sign, earthquakes or popular commotions.

    Earthquakes, in divers places - If we take the word σεισμοι from σειω to shake, in the first sense, then it means particularly those popular commotions and insurrections which have already been noted; and this I think to be the true meaning of the word: but if we confine it to earthquakes, there were several in those times to which our Lord refers; particularly one at Crete in the reign of Claudius, one at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos. See Grotius. One at Rome, mentioned by Tacitus; and one at Laodicea in the reign of Nero, in which the city was overthrown, as were likewise Hierapolis and Colosse. See Tacit. Annal. lib. xii. and lib. xiv. One at Campania, mentioned by Seneca; and one at Rome, in the reign of Galba, mentioned by Suetonius in the life of that emperor. Add to all these, a dreadful one in Judea, mentioned by Josephus (War, b. iv. c. 4). accompanied by a dreadful tempest, violent winds, vehement showers, and continual lightnings and thunders; which led many to believe that these things portended some uncommon calamity.

      The Fifth sign, fearful portents.

    To these St. Luke adds that there shall be fearful sights and great signs from heaven ( Luke 21:11;). Josephus, in his preface to the Jewish war, enumerates these.

      1st. A star hung over the city like a sword; and a comet continued a whole year.

    2d. The people being assembled at the feast of unleavened bread, at the ninth hour of the night, a great light shone about the altar and the temple, and this continued for half an hour.

    3d. At the same feast, a cow led to sacrifice brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple!

    4th. The eastern gate of the temple, which was of solid brass, and very heavy, and could hardly be shut by twenty men, and was fastened by strong bars and bolts, was seen at the sixth hour of the night to open of its own accord!

    5th. Before sun-setting there were seen, over all the country, chariots and armies fighting in the clouds, and besieging cities.

    6th. At the feast of pentecost, when the priests were going into the inner temple by night, to attend their service, they heard first a motion and noise, and then a voice, as of a multitude, saying, Let Us Depart Hence!

      7th. What Josephus reckons one of the most terrible signs of all was, that one Jesus, a country fellow, four years before the war began, and when the city was in peace and plenty, came to the feast of tabernacles, and ran crying up and down the streets, day and night: "A voice from the east! a voice from the west! a voice from the four winds! a voice against Jerusalem and the temple! a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides! and a voice against all the people!" Though the magistrates endeavored by stripes and tortures to restrain him, yet he still cried, with a mournful voice, "Wo, wo to Jerusalem!" And this he continued to do for several years together, going about the walls and crying with a loud voice: "Wo, wo to the city, and to the people, and to the temple!" and as he added, "Wo, wo to myself!" a stone from some sling or engine struck him dead on the spot!

    It is worthy of remark that Josephus appeals to the testimony of others, who saw and heard these fearful things. Tacitus, a Roman historian, gives very nearly the same account with that of Josephus. Hist. lib. v.

    Verse 8

    All these are the beginning of sorrows - Ωδινων, travailing pains. The whole land of Judea is represented under the notion of a woman in grievous travail; but our Lord intimates, that all that had already been mentioned were only the first pangs and throes, and nothing in comparison of that hard and death-bringing labor, which should afterwards take place.

    From the calamities of the nation in general, our Lord passes to those of the Christians; and, indeed, the sufferings of his followers were often occasioned by the judgments sent upon the land, as the poor Christians were charged with being the cause of these national calamities, and were cruelly persecuted on that account.

    Verse 9

    Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted - Rather, Then they will deliver you up to affliction, εις θλιψιν . By a bold figure of speech, affliction is here personified. They are to be delivered into affliction's own hand, to be harassed by all the modes of inventive torture.

    Ye shall be hated of all nations - Both Jew and Gentile will unite in persecuting and tormenting you. Perhaps παντων των εθνων means all the Gentiles, as in the parallel places in Mark 13:9-11, and in Luke 21:12-15, the Jewish persecution is mentioned distinctly. Ye shall be delivered up to Councils and be beaten in Synagogues, and ye shall stand before governors and kings for my name's sake - be not anxiously careful beforehand what ye shall speak - for ye are not the speakers, but the Holy Spirit will speak by you - I will give you utterance and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to contradict or resist. We need go no farther than the Acts of the Apostles for the completion of these particulars. Some were delivered to councils, as Peter and John, Acts 4:5. Some were brought before rulers and kings, as Paul before Gallio, Acts 18:12, before Felix, Acts 24, before Festus and Agrippa, Acts 25. Some had utterance and wisdom which their adversaries were not able to resist: so Stephen,Acts 6:10, and Paul, who made even Felix himself tremble, Acts 24:25. Some were imprisoned, as Peter and John, Acts 4:3. Some were beaten, as Paul and Silas, Acts 16:23. Some were put to death, as Stephen, Acts 7:59, and James the brother of John, Acts 12:2. But if we look beyond the book of the Acts of the Apostles, to the bloody persecutions under Nero, we shall find these predictions still more amply fulfilled: in these, numberless Christians fell, besides those two champions of the faith Peter and Paul. And it was, as says Tertullian, nominis praelium, a war against the very name of Christ; for he who was called Christian had committed crime enough, in bearing the name, to be put to death. So true were our Savior's words, that they should be hated of all men for his Name's sake.

    But they were not only to be hated by the Gentiles, but they were to be betrayed by apostates.

  • Jammer

    See you later VH

  • Vanderhoven7

    Verse 10

    Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another - To illustrate this point, one sentence out of Tacitus (Annal. l. xv). will be sufficient, who, speaking of the persecution under Nero, says, At first several were seized, who confessed, and then by Their Discovery a great multitude of others were convicted and executed.

    Verse 11

    False prophets - Also were to be raised up; such as Simon Magus and his followers; and the false apostles complained of by St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:13, who were deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. Such also were Hymeneus and Philetus, 2 Timothy 2:17, 2 Timothy 2:18.

    Verse 12

    The love of many shall wax cold - By reason of these trials and persecutions from without, and those apostasies and false prophets from within, the love of many to Christ and his doctrine, and to one another, shall grow cold. Some openly deserting the faith, as Matthew 24:10; others corrupting it, asMatthew 24:11; and others growing indifferent about it, Matthew 24:12. Even at this early period there seems to have been a very considerable defection in several Christian Churches; see Galatians 3:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 3:1, etc.; 2 Timothy 1:15.

    Verse 13

    But he that shall endure - The persecutions that shall come - unto the end; to the destruction of the Jewish polity, without growing cold or apostatizing - shall be saved, shall be delivered in all imminent dangers, and have his soul at last brought to an eternal glory. It is very remarkable that not a single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, though there were many there when Cestius Gallus invested the city; and, had he persevered in the siege, he would soon have rendered himself master of it; but, when he unexpectedly and unaccountably raised the siege, the Christians took that opportunity to escape. See Eusebius, Hist. Eccles lib. iii. c. 5, and Mr. Reading's note there; and see the note here onMatthew 24:20; (note).

    Verse 14

    And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world - But, notwithstanding these persecutions, there should be a universal publication of the glad tidings of the kingdom, for a testimony to all nations. God would have the iniquity of the Jews published every where, before the heavy stroke of his judgments should fall upon them; that all mankind, as it were, might be brought as witnesses against their cruelty and obstinacy in crucifying and rejecting the Lord Jesus.

    In all the world, εν ολη τη οικουμενη . Perhaps no more is meant here than the Roman empire; for it is beyond controversy that πασαν την οικουμενην, Luke 2:1, means no more than the whole Roman empire: as a decree for taxation or enrolment from Augustus Caesar could have no influence but in the Roman dominions; but see on Luke 2:1; (note). Tacitus informs us, Annal. l. xv., that, as early as the reign of Nero, the Christians were grown so numerous at Rome as to excite the jealousy of the government; and in other parts they were in proportion. However, we are under no necessity to restrain the phrase to the Roman empire, as, previously to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Gospel was not only preached in the lesser Asia, and Greece, and Italy, the greatest theatres of action then in the world; but was likewise propagated as far north as Scythia; as far south as Ethiopia; as far east as Parthia and India; and as far west as Spain and Britain. On this point, Bishop Newton goes on to say, That there is some probability that the Gospel was preached in the British nations by St. Simon the apostle; that there is much greater probability that it was preached here by St. Paul; and that there is an absolute certainty that it was planted here in the times of the apostles, before the destruction of Jerusalem. See his proofs. Dissert. vol. ii. p. 235, 236. edit. 1758. St. Paul himself speaks, Colossians 1:6, Colossians 1:23, of the Gospel's being come into All The World, and preached To Every Creature under heaven. And in his Epistle to the Romans, Romans 10:18, he very elegantly applies to the lights of the Church, what the psalmist said of the lights of heaven. Their sound went into All The Earth, and their words unto the End of the World. What but the wisdom of God could foretell this? and what but the power of God could accomplish it?

    Then shall the end come - When this general publication of the Gospel shall have taken place, then a period shall be put to the whole Jewish economy, by the utter destruction of their city and temple.

    Verse 15

    The abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel - This abomination of desolation, St. Luke, ( Luke 21:20, Luke 21:21;), refers to the Roman army; and this abomination standing in the holy place is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem; this, our Lord says, is what was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in the ninth and eleventh chapters of his prophecy; and so let every one who reads these prophecies understand them; and in reference to this very event they are understood by the rabbins. The Roman army is called an abomination, for its ensigns and images, which were so to the Jews. Josephus says, (War, b. vi. chap. 6), the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over against the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there. The Roman army is therefore fitly called the abomination, and the abomination which maketh desolate, as it was to desolate and lay waste Jerusalem; and this army besieging Jerusalem is called by St. Mark, Mark 13:14, standing where it ought not, that is, as in the text here, the holy place; as not only the city, but a considerable compass of ground about it, was deemed holy, and consequently no profane persons should stand on it.

    Verse 16

    Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains - This counsel was remembered and wisely followed by the Christians afterwards. Eusebius and Epiphanius say, that at this juncture, after Cestius Gallus had raised the siege, and Vespasian was approaching with his army, all who believed in Christ left Jerusalem and fled to Pella, and other places beyond the river Jordan; and so they all marvellously escaped the general shipwreck of their country: not one of them perished. See on Matthew 24:13; (note).

    Verse 17

    Let him which is on the house top - The houses of the Jews, as well as those of the ancient Greeks and Romans, were flat-roofed, and had stairs on the outside, by which persons might ascend and descend without coming into the house. In the eastern walled cities, these flat-roofed houses usually formed continued terraces from one end of the city to the other; which terraces terminated at the gates. He, therefore, who is walking on the house top, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house; but let him instantly pursue his course along the tops of the houses, and escape out at the city gate as fast as he can.

    Any thing - Instead of τι, any thing, we should read τα, the things; which reading is supported by all the best MSS., versions, and fathers.

    Verse 18

    Neither let him which is in the field return back - Because when once the army of the Romans sits down before the city, there shall be no more any possibility of escape, as they shall never remove till Jerusalem be destroyed.

    Verse 19

    And woe unto them (alas! for them) that are with child, etc. - For such persons are not in a condition to make their escape; neither can they bear the miseries of the siege. Josephus says the houses were full of women and children that perished by the famine; and that the mothers snatched the food even out of their own children's mouths. See War, b. v. c. 10. But he relates a more horrid story than this, of one Mary, the daughter of Eliezar, illustrious for her family and riches, who, being stripped and plundered of all her goods and provisions by the soldiers, in hunger, rage, and despair, killed and boiled her own sucking child, and had eaten one half of him before it was discovered. This shocking story is told, War, b. vi. c. 3, with several circumstances of aggravation.

    Verse 20

    But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter - For the hardness of the season, the badness of the roads, the shortness of the days, and the length of the nights, will all be great impediments to your flight. Rabbi Tanchum observes, "that the favor of God was particularly manifested in the destruction of the first temple, in not obliging the Jews to go out in the winter, but in the summer." See the place in Lightfoot.

    Neither on the Sabbath-day - That you may not raise the indignation of the Jews by travelling on that day, and so suffer that death out of the city which you had endeavored to escape from within. Besides, on the Sabbath-days the Jews not only kept within doors, but the gates of all the cities and towns in every place were kept shut and barred; so that their flight should be on a Sabbath, they could not expect admission into any place of security in the land.

    Our Lord had ordered his followers to make their escape from Jerusalem when they should see it encompassed with armies; but how could this be done? God took care to provide amply for this. In the twelfth year of Nero, Cestius Gallus, the president of Syria, came against Jerusalem with a powerful army. He might, says Josephus, War, b. ii. c. 19, have assaulted and taken the city, and thereby put an end to the war; but without any just reason, and contrary to the expectation of all, he raised the siege and departed. Josephus remarks, that after Cestius Gallus had raised the siege, "many of the principal Jewish people, πολλοι των επιφανων Ιουδαιων, forsook the city, as men do a sinking ship." Vespasian was deputed in the room of Cestius Gallus, who, having subdued all the country, prepared to besiege Jerusalem, and invested it on every side. But the news of Nero's death, and soon after that of Galba, and the disturbances that followed, and the civil wars between Otho and Vitellius, held Vespasian and his son Titus in suspense. Thus the city was not actually besieged in form till after Vespasian was confirmed in the empire, and Titus was appointed to command the forces in Judea. It was in those incidental delays that the Christians, and indeed several others, provided for their own safety, by flight. In Luke 19:43, our Lord says of Jerusalem, Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. Accordingly, Titus, having made several assaults without success, resolved to surround the city with a wall, which was, with incredible speed, completed in three days! The wall was thirty-nine furlongs in length, and was strengthened with thirteen forts at proper distances, so that all hope of safety was cut off; none could make his escape from the city, and no provisions could be brought into it. See Josephus, War, book v. c. 12.

    Verse 21

    For then shall be great tribulation - No history can furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews: - rapine, murder, famine, and pestilence within: fire and sword, and all the horrors of war, without. Our Lord wept at the foresight of these calamities; and it is almost impossible for any humane person to read the relation of them in Josephus without weeping also. St. Luke, Luke 21:22, calls these the days of vengeance, that all things which were written might be fulfilled.

    1. These were the days in which all the calamities predicted by Moses, Joel, Daniel, and other prophets, as well as those predicted by our Savior, met in one common center, and were fulfilled in the most terrible manner on that generation.

    2. These were the days of vengeance in another sense, as if God's judgments had certain periods and revolutions; for it is remarkable that the temple was burned by the Romans in the same month, and on the same day of the month, on which it had been burned by the Babylonians. See Josephus, War, b. vi. c. 4.

    Verse 22

    Except those days should be shortened - Josephus computes the number of those who perished in the siege at eleven hundred thousand, besides those who were slain in other places, War, b. vi. c. 9; and if the Romans had gone on destroying in this manner, the whole nation of the Jews would, in a short time, have been entirely extirpated; but, for the sake of the elect, the Jews, that they might not be utterly destroyed, and for the Christians particularly, the days were shortened. These, partly through the fury of the zealots on one hand, and the hatred of the Romans on the other; and partly through the difficulty of subsisting in the mountains without houses or provisions, would in all probability have been all destroyed, either by the sword or famine, if the days had not been shortened. The besieged themselves helped to shorten those days by their divisions and mutual slaughters; and by fatally deserting their strong holds, where they never could have been subdued, but by famine alone. So well fortified was Jerusalem, and so well provided to stand a siege, that the enemy without could not have prevailed, had it not been for the factions and seditions within. When Titus was viewing the fortifications after the taking of the city, he could not help ascribing his success to God. "We have fought," said he, "with God on our side; and it is God who pulled the Jews out of these strong holds: for what could machines or the hands of men avail against such towers as these?" War, b. vi. c. 9.

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    Verse 25

    Behold, I have told you before - That is, I have forewarned you.

    Verse 26

    If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert - Is it not worthy of remark that our Lord not only foretold the appearance of these impostors, but also the manner and circumstances of their conduct? Some he mentions as appearing in the desert. Josephus says, Ant. b. xx. c. 7, and War, book ii. c. 13: That many imposters and cheats persuaded the people to follow them to the desert, promising to show them signs and wonders done by the providence of God, is well attested. An Egyptian false prophet, mentioned by Josephus, Ant. b. xx. c. 7, and in the Acts, Acts 21:38, led out into the Desert four thousand men, who were murderers, but these were all taken or destroyed by Felix. Another promised salvation to the people, if they would follow him to the Desert, and he was destroyed by Festus, Ant. b. xx. c. 7. Also, one Jonathan, a weaver, persuaded a number to follow him to the Desert, but he was taken and burnt alive by Vespasian. See War, b. vii. c. 11.

    As some conducted their deluded followers to the Desert, so did others to the secret chambers. Josephus mentions a false prophet, War, b. vi. c. 5, who declared to the people in the city, that God commanded them to go up into the temple, and there they should receive the signs of deliverance. A multitude of men, women, and children, went up accordingly; but, instead of deliverance, the place was set on fire by the Romans, and 6,000 perished miserably in the flames, or in attempting to escape them.

    Verse 27

    Jews expected the Messiah to come suddenly from some unexpected quarter to deliver from Roman onslaught. Don't follow these pretenders (go not forth) to these desert places. The Messiah will not be holding up in some concealed house or chamber. Christians were not to expect a hidden personal visitation (coming/parousia) during the siege

    This verse stands in contrast to the preceding verses. It contrasts Christ's Second Coming with His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem. The disciples were not to expect the parousia of Christ
    to deliver Israel during these difficulties. The personal second coming(parousia) would not occur in secret places like deserts or houses,. No one would need to be informed when this coming
    occurred. The second coming (parousia) would be a visible and worldwide event of great magnitude. Jesus here clarifies the distinction between his coming in judgment on Jerusalem at the close of the Jewish age and his second personal coming at the end of the gospel age.

    Verse 28

    For wheresoever the carcass is - Πτωμα, the dead carcass. The Jewish nation, which was morally and judicially dead.

    There will the eagles - The Roman armies, called so partly from their strength and fierceness, and partly from the figure of these animals which was always wrought on their ensigns, or even in brass, placed on the tops of their ensign-staves. It is remarkable that the Roman fury pursued these wretched men wheresoever they were found. They were a dead carcass doomed to be devoured; and the Roman eagles were the commissioned devourers. See the pitiful account in Josephus, War, b. vii. c. 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, and 11.

    Verse 29

    Immediately after the tribulation, etc. - Commentators generally understand this, and what follows, of the end of the world and Christ's coming to judgment: but the word immediately shows that our Lord is not speaking of any distant event, but of something immediately consequent on calamities already predicted: and that must be the destruction of Jerusalem. "The Jewish heaven shall perish, and the sun and moon of its glory and happiness shall be darkened - brought to nothing. The sun is the religion of the Church; the moon is the government of the state; and the stars are the judges and doctors of both. CompareIsaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7, Ezekiel 32:8, etc." Lightfoot.

    In the prophetic language, great commotions upon earth are often represented under the notion of commotions and changes in the heavens: -

    The fall of Babylon is represented by the stars and constellations of heaven withdrawing their light, and the sun and moon being darkened. See Isaiah 13:9, Isaiah 13:10.

    The destruction of Egypt, by the heaven being covered, the sun enveloped with a cloud, and the moon withholding her light. Ezekiel 32:7, Ezekiel 32:8.

    The destruction of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes is represented by casting down some of the host of heaven, and the stars to the ground. See Daniel 8:10.

    And this very destruction of Jerusalem is represented by the Prophet Joel, Joel 2:30, Joel 2:31, by showing wonders in heaven and in earth - darkening the sun, and turning the moon into blood. This general mode of describing these judgments leaves no room to doubt the propriety of its application in the present case.

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    Verse 30

    Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man - The plain meaning of this is, that the destruction of Jerusalem will be such a remarkable instance of Divine vengeance, such a signal manifestation of Christ's power and glory, that all the Jewish tribes shall mourn, and many will, in consequence of this manifestation of God, be led to acknowledge Christ and his religion. By της γης, of the land, in the text, is evidently meant here, as in several other places, the land of Judea and its tribes, either its then inhabitants, or the Jewish people wherever found.

    Verse 31

    He shall send his angels - Τους αγγελους, his messengers, the apostles, and their successors in the Christian ministry.

    With a great sound of a trumpet - Or, a loud-sounding trumpet - the earnest affectionate call of the Gospel of peace, life, and salvation.

    Shall gather together his elect - The Gentiles, who were now chosen or elected, in place of the rebellious, obstinate Jews, according to Our Lord's prediction, Matthew 8:11, Matthew 8:12, and Luke 13:28, Luke 13:29. For the children of the kingdom, (the Jews who were born with a legal right to it, but had now finally forfeited that right by their iniquities) should be thrust out. It is worth serious observation, that the Christian religion spread and prevailed mightily after this period: and nothing contributed more to the success of the Gospel than the destruction of Jerusalem happening in the very time and manner, and with the very circumstances, so particularly foretold by our Lord. It was after this period that the kingdom of Christ began, and his reign was established in almost every part of the world.

    To St. Matthew's account, St. Luke adds, Luke 21:24, They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shalt be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The number of those who fell by the sword was very great. Eleven Hundred Thousand perished during the siege. Many were slain at other places, and at other times. By the commandment of Florus, the first author of the war, there were slain at Jerusalem 3,600, Josephus. War, b. ii. c. 14. By the inhabitants of Caesarea, above 20,000. At Scythopolis, above 13,000. At Ascalon, 2,500. At Ptolemais, 2,000. At Alexandria, 50,000. At Joppa, when taken by Cestius Gallus, 8,400. In a mountain called Asamon, near Sepporis, above 2,000. At Damascus, 10,000. In a battle with the Romans at Ascalon, 10,000. In an ambuscade near the same place, 8,000. At Japha, 15,000. Of the Samaritans, on Mount Gerizim, 11,600. At Jotapa, 40,000. At Joppa, when taken by Vespasian, 4,200. At Tarichea, 6,500. And after the city was taken, 1,200. At Gamala, 4,000, besides 5,000 who threw themselves down a precipice. Of those who fled with John, of Gischala, 6,000. Of the Gadarenes, 15,000 slain, besides countless multitudes drowned. In the village of Idumea, above 10,000 slain. At Gerasa, 1,000. At Machaerus, 1,700. In the wood of Jardes, 3,000. In the castle of Masada, 960. In Cyrene, by Catullus the governor, 3,000. Besides these, many of every age, sex, and condition, were slain in the war, who are not reckoned; but, of those who are reckoned, the number amounts to upwards of 1,357,660, which would have appeared incredible, if their own historian had not so particularly enumerated them. See Josephus, War, book ii. c. 18, 20; book iii. c. 2, 7, 8, 9; book iv. c. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9; book vii. c. 6, 9, 11; and Bp. Newton, vol. ii. p. 288-290.

    Many also were led away captives into all nations. There were taken at Japha, 2,130. At Jotapa, 1,200. At Tarichea, 6,000 chosen young men, who were sent to Nero; others sold to the number of 30,400, besides those who were given to Agrippa. Of the Gadarenes were taken 2,200. In Idumea above 1,000. Many besides these were taken in Jerusalem; so that, as Josephus says, the number of the captives taken in the whole war amounted to 97,000. Those above seventeen years of age were sent to the works in Egypt; but most were distributed through the Roman provinces, to be destroyed in their theatres by the sword, and by the wild beasts; and those under seventeen years of age were sold for slaves. Eleven thousand in one place perished for want. At Caesarea, Titus, like a thorough-paced infernal savage, murdered 2,500 Jews, in honor of his brother's birthday; and a greater number at Berytus in honor of his father's. See Josephus, War, b. vii. c. 3. s. 1. Some he caused to kill each other; some were thrown to the wild beasts; and others burnt alive. And all this was done by a man who was styled, The darling of mankind! Thus were the Jews miserably tormented, and distributed over the Roman provinces; and continue to be distressed and dispersed over all the nations of the world to the present day. Jerusalem also was, according to the prediction of our Lord, to be trodden down by the Gentiles. Accordingly it has never since been in the possession of the Jews. It was first in subjection to the Romans, afterwards to the Saracens, then to the Franks, after to the Mamalukes, and now to the Turks. Thus has the prophecy of Christ been most literally and terribly fulfilled, on a people who are still preserved as continued monuments of the truth of our Lord's prediction, and of the truth of the Christian religion. See more in Bp. Newton's Dissert. vol. ii. p. 291, etc.

    Verse 32

    Learn a parable of the fig-tree - That is, These signs which I have given you will be as infallible a proof of the approaching ruin of the Jewish state as the budding of the trees is a proof of the coming summer.

    Verse 34

    This generation shall not pass - .... this generation, meaning the persons who were then living, that they should not die before these signs, etc., took place: but though this was true, as to the calamities that fell upon the Jews, and the destruction of their government, temple, etc., yet as our Lord mentions Jerusalem's continuing to be under the power of the Gentiles till the fullness of the Gentiles should come in, i.e. till all the nations of the world should receive the Gospel of Christ, after which the Jews themselves should be converted unto God, Romans 11:25, etc., I think it more proper not to restrain its meaning to the few years which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem; but to understand it of the care taken by Divine providence to preserve them as a distinct people, and yet to keep them out of their own land, and from their temple service. See on Mark 13:30; (note). But still it is literally true in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem. John probably lived to see these things come to pass; compare Matthew 16:28, with John 21:22; and there were some rabbins alive at the time when Christ spoke these words who lived till the city was destroyed, viz. Rabban Simeon, who perished with the city; R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, who outlived it; R. Zadoch, R. Ismael, and others. See Lightfoot.

    The war began, as Josephus says, Ant. b. xx. c. 11. s. 1, in the second year of the government of Gessius Florus, who succeeded Albinus, successor of Porcius Festus, mentioned Acts 24:27, in the month of May, in the twelfth year of Nero, and the seventeenth of Agrippa, mentioned Acts 25 and 26, that is, in May, a.d. 66.

    The temple was burnt August 10, a.d. 70, the same day and month on which it had been burnt by the king of Babylon: Josephus, Ant. b. xx. c. 11. s. 8.

    The city was taken September 8, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, or the year of Christ 70. Ant. b. vi. c. 10.

    That was the end of the siege of Jerusalem, which began, as Josephus several times observes, about the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, or our April. See War, b. v. c. 3. s. 1, c. 13. s. 7; b. vi. c. 9. s. 3.

    Dr. Lardner farther remarks, There is also an ancient inscription to the honor of Titus, "who, by his father's directions and counsels, had subdued the Jewish nation and destroyed Jerusalem, which had never been destroyed by any generals, kings, or people, before." The inscription may be seen in Gruter, vol. i. p. 244. It is as follows: -

    Imp. Tito. CaesarI. DIvI. VespasianI. F Vespasiano. Aug. Pontifici. Maximo Trib, Pot. X. Imp. XVII. Cos. VIII. P. P. Principi. Suo. S. P. Q. R

    Quod. Praeceptis. Patris. ConsiliIsque. et AuspiciIs. Gentem. Judaeorom. domuit. et Urbem. Hierosolymam. Omnibus. ante. se Ducibus. Regibus. Gentibusque. aut. frustra. Petitam. aut. omnino. intentatam. delevit.

    For this complete conquest of Jerusalem, Titus had a triumphal arch erected to his honor, which still exists. It stand on the Via Sacra, leading from the forum to the amphitheatre. On it are represented the spoils of the temple of God, such as the golden table of the show-bread, the golden candlestick with its seven branches, the ark of the covenant, the two golden trumpets, etc., etc.; for a particular account see the note on Exodus 25:31. On this arch, a correct model of which, taken on the spot, now stands before me, is the following inscription: -

    Senatus Populusque Romanus DIvo Tito. DIvI Vespasiani. F Vespasiano Augusto.

    "The Senate and People of Rome, to the Divine Titus, son of the Divine Vespasian; and to Vespasian the Emperor."

    On this occasion, a medal was struck with the following inscription round a laureated head of the emperor: - IMP.erator J.ulius VESP.asianus AUG.ustus. P.ontifex M.aximus, TR.ibunitia, P.otestate P.ater P.atrice CO.nS.ul VIII. - On the obverse are represented a palm tree, the emblem of the land of Judaea; the emperor with a trophy standing on the left; Judea, under the figure of a distressed woman, sitting at the foot of the tree weeping, with her head bowed down, supported by her left hand, with the legend Judaea Capta. S.enatus C.onsultus. at the bottom. This is not only an extraordinary fulfillment of our Lord's prediction, but a literal accomplishment of a prophecy delivered about 800 years before, Isaiah 3:26, And she, desolate, shall sit upon the ground.

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