The Destruction of the Temple
1 Nowtn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic. as Jesus was going out of the temple courts and walking away, his disciples came to show him the temple buildings.sn The Jerusalem temple was widely admired around the world. See Josephus, Ant. 15.11 [15.380-425]; J. W. 5.5 [5.184-227] and Tacitus, History 5.8, who called it “immensely opulent.” Josephus compared it to a beautiful snowcapped mountain.
2 And he said to them,tn Grk “answering, he said to them.” The participle ἀποκριθείς (ajpokriqei") is redundant in English and has not been translated. “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth,tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.” not one stone will be left on another.sn With the statement not one stone will be left on another Jesus predicted the total destruction of the temple, something that did occur in a.d. 70. All will be torn down!”tn Grk “not one stone will be left here on another which will not be thrown down.”
Signs of the End of the Age
3 Astn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these thingssn Because the phrase these things is plural, more than the temple’s destruction is in view. The question may presuppose that such a catastrophe signals the end. happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered them,tn Grk “answering, Jesus said to them.” This is somewhat redundant and has been simplified in the translation. “Watch outtn Or “Be on guard.” that no one misleads you.
5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 1:16. and they will mislead many.
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come.tn Grk “it is not yet the end.”
7 For nation will rise up in armstn For the translation “rise up in arms” see L&N 55.2. against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be faminessn See Isa 5:13-14; 13:6-16; Hag 2:6-7; Zech 14:4. and earthquakestc Most witnesses (C Θ 0102 Ë1,13 Ï) have “and plagues” (καὶ λοιμοί, kai loimoi) between “famines” (λιμοί, limoi) and “earthquakes” (σεισμοί, seismoi), while others have “plagues and famines and earthquakes” (L W 33 pc lat). The similarities between λιμοί and λοιμοί could explain how καὶ λοιμοί might have accidentally dropped out, but since the Lukan parallel has both terms (and W lat have the order λοιμοὶ καὶ λιμοί there too, as they do in Matthew), it seems more likely that scribes added the phrase here. The shorter reading does not enjoy overwhelming support ([א] B D 892 pc, as well as versional witnesses), but it is nevertheless significant; coupled with the internal evidence it should be given preference. in various places.
8 Alltn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. these things are the beginning of birth pains.
Persecution of Disciples
9 “Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nationstn Or “all the Gentiles” (the same Greek word may be translated “nations” or “Gentiles”). because of my name.sn See Matt 5:10-12; 1 Cor 1:25-31.
10 Then many will be led into sin,tn Or “many will fall away.” This could also refer to apostasy. and they will betray one another and hate one another.
11 And many false prophets will appear and deceivetn Or “and lead many astray.” many,
12 and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold.
13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved.sn But the person who endures to the end will be saved. Jesus was not claiming here that salvation is by works. He was simply arguing that genuine faith evidences itself in persistence through even the worst of trials.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations,tn Or “all the Gentiles” (the same Greek word may be translated “nations” or “Gentiles”). and then the end will come.
The Abomination of Desolation
15 “So when you see the abomination of desolationsn The reference to the abomination of desolation is an allusion to Dan 9:27. Though some have seen the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in the actions of Antiochus IV (or a representative of his) in 167 b.c., the words of Jesus seem to indicate that Antiochus was not the final fulfillment, but that there was (from Jesus’ perspective) still another fulfillment yet to come. Some argue that this was realized in a.d. 70, while others claim that it refers specifically to Antichrist and will not be fully realized until the period of the great tribulation at the end of the age (cf. Mark 13:14, 19, 24; Rev 3:10). – spoken about by Daniel the prophet – standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
16 then those in Judea must fleesn Fleeing to the mountains is a key OT image: Gen 19:17; Judg 6:2; Isa 15:5; Jer 16:16; Zech 14:5. to the mountains.
17 The one on the roofsn On the roof. Most of the roofs in the NT were flat roofs made of pounded dirt, sometimes mixed with lime or stones, supported by heavy wooden beams. They generally had an easy means of access, either a sturdy wooden ladder or stone stairway, sometimes on the outside of the house. must not come downsn The swiftness and devastation of the judgment will require a swift escape. There will be no time to come down from the roof and pick up anything from inside one’s home. to take anything out of his house,
18 and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.
19 Woetn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days!
20 Praytn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.
21 For then there will be great sufferingtn Traditionally, “great tribulation.” unlike anything that has happenedsn Suffering unlike anything that has happened. Some refer this event to the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. While the events of a.d. 70 may reflect somewhat the comments Jesus makes here, the reference to the scope and severity of this judgment strongly suggest that much more is in view. Most likely Jesus is referring to the great end-time judgment on Jerusalem in the great tribulation. from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen.
22 And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 1:16. or ‘There he is!’ do not believe him.
24 For false messiahstn Or “false christs”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.” and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
25 Remember,tn Or “Pay attention!” Grk “Behold.” I have told you ahead of time.
26 So then, if someonetn Grk “they say.” The third person plural is used here as an indefinite and translated “someone” (ExSyn 402). says to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’tn Or “in the desert.” do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe him.
27 For just like the lightningsn The Son of Man’s coming in power will be sudden and obvious like lightning. No one will need to point it out. comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be.
28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vulturestn The same Greek term can refer to “eagles” or “vultures” (L&N 4.42; BDAG 22 s.v. ἀετός), but in this context it must mean vultures because the gruesome image is one of dead bodies being consumed by scavengers.sn Jesus’ answer is that when the judgment comes, the scenes of death will be obvious and so will the location of the judgment. See also Luke 17:37. will gather.tn Grk “will be gathered.” The passive construction has been translated as an active one in English.
The Arrival of the Son of Man
29 “Immediatelytn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. after the sufferingtn Traditionally, “tribulation.” of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.sn An allusion to Isa 13:10, 34:4 (LXX); Joel 2:10. The heavens were seen as the abode of heavenly forces, so their shaking indicates distress in the spiritual realm. Although some take the powers as a reference to bodies in the heavens (like stars and planets, “the heavenly bodies,” NIV) this is not as likely.
30 Thentn Here καί (kai) has not been translated. the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,tn Or “in the sky”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context. andtn Here τότε (tote, “then”) has not been translated to avoid redundancy in English. all the tribes of the earth will mourn. Theytn Here καί (kai) has not been translated. will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heavensn An allusion to Dan 7:13. Here is Jesus returning with full authority to judge. with power and great glory.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaventn Or “of the sky”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context. to the other.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
32 “Learntn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.
33 So also you, when you see all these things, knowtn The verb γινώσκετε (ginwskete, “know”) can be parsed as either present indicative or present imperative. In this context the imperative fits better, since the movement is from analogy (trees and seasons) to the future (the signs of the coming of the kingdom) and since the emphasis is on preparation for this event. that he is near, right at the door.
34 I tell you the truth,tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.” this generationsn This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning “race” and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term γενεά (genea) can have this meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean “this type of generation” and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or (3) generation may refer to “the generation that sees the signs of the end” (v. 30), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it happen very quickly, in rapid succession. will not pass away until all these things take place.
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.sn The words that Jesus predicts here will never pass away. They are more stable and lasting than creation itself. For this kind of image, see Isa 40:8; 55:10-11.
Be Ready!
36 “But as for that day and hour no one knows it – not even the angels in heaventc ‡ Some important witnesses, including early Alexandrian and Western mss (א*,2 B D Θ Ë13 pc it vgmss Irlat Hiermss), have the additional words οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός (oude Jo Juios, “nor the son”) here. Although the shorter reading (which lacks this phrase) is suspect in that it seems to soften the prophetic ignorance of Jesus, the final phrase (“except the Father alone”) already implies this. Further, the parallel in Mark 13:32 has οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός, with almost no witnesses lacking the expression. Hence, it is doubtful that the absence of “neither the Son” is due to the scribes. In keeping with Matthew’s general softening of Mark’s harsh statements throughout his Gospel, it is more likely that the absence of “neither the Son” is part of the original text of Matthew, being an intentional change on the part of the author. Further, this shorter reading is supported by the first corrector of א as well as L W Ë1 33 Ï vg sy co Hiermss. Admittedly, the external evidence is not as impressive for the shorter reading, but it best explains the rise of the other reading (in particular, how does one account for virtually no mss excising οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός at Mark 13:32 if such an absence here is due to scribal alteration? Although scribes were hardly consistent, for such a theologically significant issue at least some consistency would be expected on the part of a few scribes). Nevertheless, NA27 includes οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός here. – except the Father alone.
37 For just like the days of Noahsn Like the days of Noah, the time of the flood in Gen 6:5-8:22, the judgment will come as a surprise as people live their day to day lives. were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be.
38 For in those days before the flood, peopletn Grk “they,” but in an indefinite sense, “people.” were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark.
39 And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away.sn Like the flood that came and took them all away, the coming judgment associated with the Son of Man will condemn many. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man.tn Grk “So also will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left.sn There is debate among commentators and scholars over the phrase one will be taken and one left about whether one is taken for judgment or for salvation. If the imagery is patterned after the rescue of Noah from the flood, as some suggest, the ones taken are the saved (as Noah was) and those left behind are judged. The imagery, however, is not directly tied to the identification of the two groups. Its primary purpose in context is to picture the sudden, surprising separation of the righteous and the judged (i.e., condemned) at the return of the Son of Man.
41 There will be two women grinding grain with a mill;tn According to L&N 46.16, this refers to a hand mill normally operated by two women. one will be taken and one left.
42 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what daytc Most later mss (L 0281 Ï lat) have here ὥρᾳ ({wra, “hour”) instead of ἡμέρα (Jemera, “day”). Although the merits of this reading could be argued either way, in light of the overwhelming and diverse early support for ἡμέρᾳ ({א B C D W Δ Θ Ë13 33 892 1424, as well as several versions and fathers}), the more general term is surely correct. your Lord will come.
43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thiefsn On Jesus pictured as a returning thief, see 1 Thess 5:2, 4; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15. was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into.
44 Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.sn Jesus made clear that his coming could not be timed, and suggested it would take some time – so long, in fact, that some will not be looking for him any longer (at an hour when you do not expect him).
The Faithful and Wise Slave
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise slave,tn See the note on the word “slave” in 8:9. whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slavestn Grk “give them.” their food at the proper time?
46 Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at worktn That is, doing his job, doing what he is supposed to be doing. when he comes.
47 I tell you the truth,tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.” the mastertn Grk “he”; the referent (the master) has been specified in the translation for clarity. will put him in charge of all his possessions.
48 But iftn In the Greek text this is a third class condition that for all practical purposes is a hypothetical condition (note the translation of the following verb “should say”). that evil slave should say to himself,tn Grk “should say in his heart.” ‘My master is staying away a long time,’
49 and he begins to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards,
50 then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee,
51 and will cut him in two,tn The verb διχοτομέω (dicotomew) means to cut an object into two parts (L&N 19.19). This is an extremely severe punishment compared to the other two later punishments. To translate it simply as “punish” is too mild. If taken literally this servant is dismembered, although it is possible to view the stated punishment as hyperbole (L&N 38.12). and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.