|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:5-28 With much curiosity those about Christ ask as to the time when the great desolation should be. He answers with clearness and fulness, as far as was necessary to teach them their duty; for all knowledge is desirable as far as it is in order to practice. Though spiritual judgements are the most common in gospel times, yet God makes use of temporal judgments also. Christ tells them what hard things they should suffer for his name's sake, and encourages them to bear up under their trials, and to go on in their work, notwithstanding the opposition they would meet with. God will stand by you, and own you, and assist you. This was remarkably fulfilled after the pouring out of the Spirit, by whom Christ gave his disciples wisdom and utterance. Though we may be losers for Christ, we shall not, we cannot be losers by him, in the end. It is our duty and interest at all times, especially in perilous, trying times, to secure the safety of our own souls. It is by Christian patience we keep possession of our own souls, and keep out all those impressions which would put us out of temper. We may view the prophecy before us much as those Old Testament prophecies, which, together with their great object, embrace, or glance at some nearer object of importance to the church. Having given an idea of the times for about thirty-eight years next to come, Christ shows what all those things would end in, namely, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the utter dispersion of the Jewish nation; which would be a type and figure of Christ's second coming. The scattered Jews around us preach the truth of Christianity; and prove, that though heaven and earth shall pass away, the words of Jesus shall not pass away. They also remind us to pray for those times when neither the real, nor the spiritual Jerusalem, shall any longer be trodden down by the Gentiles, and when both Jews and Gentiles shall be turned to the Lord. When Christ came to destroy the Jews, he came to redeem the Christians that were persecuted and oppressed by them; and then had the churches rest. When he comes to judge the world, he will redeem all that are his from their troubles. So fully did the Divine judgements come upon the Jews, that their city is set as an example before us, to show that sins will not pass unpunished; and that the terrors of the Lord, and his threatenings against impenitent sinners, will all come to pass, even as his word was true, and his wrath great upon Jerusalem.
Verse 7. - And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? St. Mark (Mark 13:3) tells us that these questioners were Peter and James, John and Andrew. They said to their Master, "When shall these things be, and what sign shall precede them?" They asked their question with mingled feelings of awe and gladness: of awe, for the ruin of their loved temple, and all that would probably accompany the catastrophe, was a dread thought; of gladness, for they associated the fall of city and temple with the manifestation of their Lord in glory. In this glory they would assuredly share. But they wished to know more respecting the times and seasons of the dread event. Of late the disciples had begun dimly to see that no Messianic restoration such as they had been taught to expect was contemplated by their Master. They were recasting their hopes, and this solemn prediction they read in the light of the late sad and gloomy words which he had spoken of himself and his fortunes. Perhaps he would leave them for a season and then return, and, amid the crash of the ruined city and temple, set up his glorious kingdom. But they longed to know when this would be; hence the question of the four. The Lord's answer treated, in its first and longer portion, exclusively of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple - the fair city and the glorious house on which they were then gazing, glorified in the light of the sunset splendor; then, as he spoke, gradually the horizon widened, and the Master touched upon the fortunes of the great world lying beyond the narrow pale of the doomed, chosen people. He closes his grand summary of the world's fortunes By a sketch of his own return in glory. The disciples' hearts must have sunk as they listened; for how many ages lay Between now and then! Yet was the great prophecy full of comfort, and in later days was of inestimable practical value to the Jerusalem Christians. The discourse, which extends from ver. 8 to ver. 36, has been well divided by Godet into four divisions.
(1) The apparent signs of the great catastrophe, which must not Be mistaken for true signs (vers. 8b-19).
(2) The true sign, and the destruction of Jerusalem, which will immediately follow it, with the time of the Gentiles, which will be connected with it (vers. 20-24).
(3) The coming of the Lord, which will bring this period to an end (vers. 25-27).
(4) The practical application (vers. 28-36).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they asked him,.... That is, his disciples, when they were come to the Mount of Olives, and as he sat upon that, Matthew 24:3
saying, master, but when shall these things be? when the temple shall be destroyed; and one stone shall not be left upon another;
and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? which shows that this refers to the destruction of the temple, and so the signs following; See Gill on Matthew 24:3.
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