The Discourse comes to us in three parallel passages and one passage that describes the same tumultuous days of the Son of Man. They have overlapping, but they all contain unique details.
- Matt 24:1-51
- Mark 13:1-37
- Luke 21:5-38
- Luke 17:22-37
The fact that Luke writes about the same prophecy at two different occurrences, tells us that Messiah gave this sermon more than once. Luke’s order of events has both versions of the teaching occurring before the Last Supper.
FYI: Luke has James’ death [Act 12:2] a full three chapters before James leads the Jerusalem Council [Act 15:13]. So his ability or desire to put things in chronological order is suspect.
Hebrew, Greek and the English Translation
Some acknowledgment of the differences between Greek, Hebrew and English is required to understand this Discourse. Most scholars believe that Matthew was original written in Hebrew and very early translated into Greek. Luke and Mark wrote in Greek but the original words were spoken in either Aramaic or Hebrew. The point is these passages were written by men who thought and wrote from a first century Mediterranean perspective, and not at all in a way that English readers think.
Because our English verbs are only as past, present, or future. We simply have to write chronologically because of our grammar. So, we of course become obsessed with putting all things in an order of what happened where the Hebrew mind tends to put things in order of importance. A timeline of events is what English readers are familiar with. When Biblical events are not in clear chronological order, the English reader becomes frustrated and confused. Greek or Hebrew verbs and grammar are not so obsessed with chronological order, so the Hebrew or Greek writer does not adhere to a chronology of events. But, it just sets our teeth on edge that they cannot be bothered to organize their thoughts in a proper English way! Keeping this knowledge of the writer’s language, is key to understanding this passage and a lot of other ones throughout the Bible.
The main thing to remember in this Discourse, is that it has been three or four days since the Messiah’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. During this time, Messiah has repeatedly told the spiritual leaders something they were not expecting, that their kingdom was forfeit.
“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.” Matt. 21:43
It is in this context that He now explains how He is going to take their kingdom and temple away. It is key to understanding this passage, that it was given to His disciples who admired the very temple in view!
1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” Matt. 24:1-2
1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” Mark 13:1-2
5 And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Luke 21:5-6
The facts of history are that the temple was destroyed by four Roman Legions under General Titus in 70AD. Much has been written about the stones being overturned as the Roman soldiers were looking for gold. The burning of the temple had melted the gold down, and the Romans dug up every last stone to get at the gold!
There would be some among the disciples who would live to hear about the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem and destroy the very temple they had talked to Messiah about. We know from Josephus’ accounts of 70AD that Christians taking heed of this prophecy fled Jerusalem before the armies came.
Horrible and deadly reports were written about those in the besieged city and those who tried to escape. The Jews taken captive by the soldiers would be marched to Rome as slaves and then scattered to the four corners of the earth.
Messiah’s prophecy about the stones being thrown down is in our distant past, completed by nearly 2,000 years! He gave other prophecies about that tumultuous time of Roman siege in 70AD that were fulfilled as well. The very temple Messiah spoke of, is no longer. But, His Kingdom is now!
FYI: For some reason the Dispensationalists who claim to interpret the Bible literally, do not see the literal curse here! They teach that this is about some future temple that will be rebuilt and that all this destruction will happen again by a future political anti-christ. They also point to the Wailing Wall as the stones not being torn down. However, if one looks at the wall closely, the wall is made up of miss-matched stones from different time periods. It is just a retaining wall built sometime after the destruction.
Next Week: The Sign of Your Coming