"THE END OF THE AGE"
(Luke 21 and Matt. 24. Mark 13.)
The great prophecy recorded in Luke 21 is different both in time, place and subject from that recorded in Matt 24 and Mark 13. The one recorded in Luke was spoken "on one of those days, as He taught the people in the Temple" (Luke 20:1). For one note of time is in 21:1, "and He looked up and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the Treasury." So that He was still "in the Temple" when He uttered the prophecy recorded in Luke 21, for the whole conversation with the disciples follows without a break the Lord's commendation of the widow.
But with regard to the prophecy recorded in Matt 24, we distinctly read (v. 1) "and Jesus went out and departed from the Temple ... and as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately" (v. 30). So in Mark 13:1, "He went out of the Temple ... and as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, over against the Temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately" (v. 3).
So that we have two great prophecies. One (Luke) spoken
in the Temple, the other (Matthew and Mark) spoken later upon the
Mount of Olives. As parts of the first are repeated on the second
occasion, we will give the leading points of the three in parallel columns,
so that the object of each, and the difference between them, may be clearly
They both open with a summary of events which might have taken place
in the lifetime and experience of those who heard the words :--
FROM THE CROSS ONWARDS.
John refers to this first sign in his First Epistle (2:18); but had
the nation repented at the proclamation by Peter in Acts 3:18-26, by the
Twelve in the Land, by "them that heard Him" (Heb. 2:3), and by Paul in
the Synagogues of the Dispersion, "all that the prophets had written" would
have been fulfilled.
Now, it will be observed in the Lord's discourse as recorded in Luke,
that, instead of saying "these are the beginnings of sorrows", and going
on with the account of them, He stops short; He goes back; He introduces
a parenthesis detailing and describing events that would take place "BEFORE
ALL THESE" beginnings of sorrows. He describes in v. 12,
THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM.
That is to say "BEFORE" the great tribulation, all that is recorded
concerning Jerusalem in vv. 12-24 would take place. These
are the closing words :--
Now, in the discourse recorded in Matt. 24, instead of going back to speak of the condition of Jerusalem before and until the beginning of the great Tribulation; having said "All these are the beginning of sorrows", He goes on to describe the sorrows, or birth-pangs of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:9-28. Mark 13:9-23), and He continues the prophecy concerning these sorrows up to the moment of His appearing in the clouds of heaven. While, in the discourse recorded in Luke 21, having gone back, and described what should take place "before all these" beginnings of sorrows, the Lord does not speak further of the great Tribulation, but takes it up at the end, and, as in Matthew and Mark, speaks concerning
HIS COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN
(of course, in Luke the words are slightly different from those in Matthew
and Mark) :--
The first prophecy, in the Temple (Luke 21), was uttered in answer to two questions : (1) "When shall these things be?" and (2) "What sign shall there be when these things shall come to pass?" The answer to (1) is given in vv. 8-24, and the answer to (2) in vv. 25-28.
The second prophecy, on the Mount of Olives (Matt. 24 and Mark 13), was uttered in answer to three distinct questions : (1) "When shall these things be?" (2) "What shall be the sign of Thy coming?" and (3) "And [what shall be the sign] of the end of the age?" The answer to (1) was given in Matt. 24:4-14. Mark 13:5-13. The answer to (2) was given in Matt. 24:15-27. Mark 13:14-23; and to (3) in Matt. 24:29-31 and Mark 13:24-27 (and in Luke 21:25-28). And then both prophecies conclude with the Parable of the Fig tree, and the final solemn assurance :--
This latter is the last of four equally impressive statements : Matt. 10:23; 16:28; 23:39; 24:34. Each of these consists of two clauses, the former of which contains the strongest negative that could possibly have been used (see Ap. 105. III); and should be rendered "by no means", or "in no wise", as it is often rendered elsewhere; while in the latter clause the verb is in the subjunctive mood with or without the Greek Particle "an", which (though it cannot be represented in translation) makes the clause hypothetical and dependent on some condition expressed or implied. This condition was, in each of these four passages, the repentance of the nation, in response to the appeal of "the other servants" of Matt. 22:4, as recorded in Acts 3:18-26 and elsewhere, culminating in Acts 28:17-29.
The conclusion of both prophecies thus consists of an
with a definite contingency, or uncertainty which was not fulfilled.
Had the nation repented, then Jesus Christ would have been "sent", and
"the restoration of all things which God had spoken by all His holy prophets
since the world began" would have taken place, in accordance with God's
Divine assurance given by Peter in Acts 3:18-26; but the condition of national
repentance (Lev. 26:40-42; Hos. 14:1-4, &c.) was not fulfilled;
hence that generation passed away; and both prophecies (with all the others)
are now postponed. The first sign of all did (and will again)
take place - the rising of the "many Antichrists", whereby John could say
they knew that it was "the last hour" before "the end of that age" (1John
(*1) Leaving no space, therefore, for a millennium of peace between the great Tribulation and the appearance of the Lord in glory; proving that the second coming must be pre-millennial.
(*2) In all three passages the verb is genetai = may arise,
or may have come to pass: not pleroo = be entirely fulfilled or
finished, as in Luke 21:24. This was so in both cases.