Matthew 24:6
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
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(6) Ye shall hear . . .—Literally, ye shall be about to hear—a kind of double future, or possibly an example of the transition between the older future tense and the use of an auxiliary verb.

Wars and rumours.—St. Luke adds “commotions.” The forty years that intervened before the destruction of Jerusalem were full of these in all directions; but we may probably think of the words as referring specially to wars, actual or threatened, that affected the Jews, such, e.g., as those of which we read under Caligula, Claudius, and Nero (Jos. Ant. xx. 1, 6). The title which the historian gave to his second book, “The Wars of the Jews,” is sufficiently suggestive. As the years passed on, the watchword, “Be not troubled,” must have kept the believers in Christ calm in the midst of agitation. They were not to think that the end was to follow at once upon the wars which were preparing the way for it.

Matthew 24:6-8. And ye shall hear of wars, &c. — This is the second sign. That there were wars and rumours of wars, appears by all the historians of those times, and above all by Josephus. To relate the particulars would be to transcribe a great part of his history of the Jewish wars. There were more especially rumours of wars when Caligula, the Roman emperor, ordered his statue to be set up in the temple at Jerusalem, which the Jews refused to suffer, and persisted in their refusal: and having therefore reason to apprehend a war from the Romans, were in such a consternation, that they omitted even the tilling of their lands. But this storm was soon blown over, and their fear dissipated by the timely death of that emperor. For nation shall rise against nation, &c. — Here Christ declares that greater disturbances than those which happened under Caligula, should fall out in the latter times of Claudius, and in the reign of Nero. The rising of nation against nation portended the dissensions, insurrections, and mutual slaughters of the Jews, and those of other nations, who dwelt in the same cities together; as particularly at Cesarea, where the Jews and Syrians contended about the right of the city, which contention at length proceeded so far that above twenty thousand Jews were slain, and the city was cleared of the Jewish inhabitants. At this blow the whole nation of the Jews was exasperated; and, dividing themselves into parties, they burned and plundered the neighbouring cities and villages of the Syrians, and made an immense slaughter of the people. The Syrians, in revenge, destroyed not a less number of Jews, and every city was divided into two armies. At Scythopolis the inhabitants compelled the Jews who resided among them to fight against their own countrymen, and, after the victory, basely setting upon them by night, murdered above thirteen thousand of them, and spoiled their goods. At Ascalon they killed two thousand five hundred; at Ptolemais two thousand, and made not a few prisoners. The Tyrians put many 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. At Alexandria the old enmity was revived between the Jews and heathen, and many fell on both sides, but of the Jews to the number of fifty thousand. The people of Damascus, too, conspired against the Jews of the same city, and, assaulting them unarmed, killed ten thousand of them. The rising of kingdom against kingdom portended the open wars of different tetrarchies and provinces against one another: as that of the Jews who dwelt in Peræa against the people of Philadelphia, concerning their bounds, while Cuspius Fadus was procurator; and that of the Jews and Galileans against the Samaritans, for the murder of some Galileans going up to the feast at Jerusalem, while Cumanus was procurator; and that of the whole nation of the Jews against the Romans and Agrippa, and other allies of the Roman empire. But there was not only sedition and civil war throughout Judea, but likewise in Italy, Otho and Vitellius contending for the empire. There shall be famines and pestilences — The third sign. There were famines, as particularly that prophesied of by Agabus, and mentioned Acts 11:28; and by Suetonius, and other profane historians referred to by Eusebius, which came to pass in the days of Claudius Cesar, and was so severe at Jerusalem, that many perished for want of victuals — And pestilences, the usual attendants upon famine. Scarcity and badness of provisions almost always end in some epidemical distemper. Many died by reason of the famine in the reign of Claudius: and when Niger was killed by the Jewish zealots, he imprecated, besides other calamities, famine and pestilence upon them, (λιμοντε και λοιμον, the very words used by the evangelist,) all which, says Josephus, God ratified and brought to pass against the ungodly — And earthquakes in divers places — The fourth sign. In the time of Claudius and Nero there were great earthquakes at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse; in Crete also and Campania, and one at Rome in the reign of Galba. In Judea, likewise, there were judgments of the same kind. For Josephus tells us, Bell., 4. cap. 4, “There happened a most terrible tempest and violent winds, with the most vehement showers, and continual lightnings, and horrid thunderings, and prodigious bellowings of the shaken earth;” so that many were led to believe that these things portended no common calamity. St. Luke mentions a fifth sign, namely, Fearful sights and great signs from heaven, Luke 21:11; where see the notes, as also on Isaiah 66:6. All these are the beginning of sorrows — Gr. ωδινων, a word which is properly used of the pains of travailing women. As if he had said, All these are only the first pangs and throes; and are nothing to that hard labour that shall follow.

24:4-28 The disciples had asked concerning the times, When these things should be? Christ gave them no answer to that; but they had also asked, What shall be the sign? This question he answers fully. The prophecy first respects events near at hand, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish church and state, the calling of the Gentiles, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world; but it also looks to the general judgment; and toward the close, points more particularly to the latter. What Christ here said to his disciples, tended more to promote caution than to satisfy their curiosity; more to prepare them for the events that should happen, than to give a distinct idea of the events. This is that good understanding of the times which all should covet, thence to infer what Israel ought to do. Our Saviour cautions his disciples to stand on their guard against false teachers. And he foretells wars and great commotions among nations. From the time that the Jews rejected Christ, and he left their house desolate, the sword never departed from them. See what comes of refusing the gospel. Those who will not hear the messengers of peace, shall be made to hear the messengers of war. But where the heart is fixed, trusting in God, it is kept in peace, and is not afraid. It is against the mind of Christ, that his people should have troubled hearts, even in troublous times. When we looked forward to the eternity of misery that is before the obstinate refusers of Christ and his gospel, we may truly say, The greatest earthly judgments are but the beginning of sorrows. It is comforting that some shall endure even to the end. Our Lord foretells the preaching of the gospel in all the world. The end of the world shall not be till the gospel has done its work. Christ foretells the ruin coming upon the people of the Jews; and what he said here, would be of use to his disciples, for their conduct and for their comfort. If God opens a door of escape, we ought to make our escape, otherwise we do not trust God, but tempt him. It becomes Christ's disciples, in times of public trouble, to be much in prayer: that is never out of season, but in a special manner seasonable when we are distressed on every side. Though we must take what God sends, yet we may pray against sufferings; and it is very trying to a good man, to be taken by any work of necessity from the solemn service and worship of God on the sabbath day. But here is one word of comfort, that for the elect's sake these days shall be made shorter than their enemies designed, who would have cut all off, if God, who used these foes to serve his own purpose, had not set bounds to their wrath. Christ foretells the rapid spreading of the gospel in the world. It is plainly seen as the lightning. Christ preached his gospel openly. The Romans were like an eagle, and the ensign of their armies was an eagle. When a people, by their sin, make themselves as loathsome carcasses, nothing can be expected but that God should send enemies to destroy them. It is very applicable to the day of judgment, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in that day, 2Th 2:1. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; then may we know that no enemy or deceiver shall ever prevail against us.And ye shall hear of wars ... - It is recorded in the history of Rome that violent agitations prevailed in the Roman empire previous to the destruction of Jerusalem. Four emperors, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, suffered violent deaths in the short space of eighteen months. In consequence of these changes in the government, there were commotions throughout the empire. Parties were formed, and bloody and violent wars were the consequence of attachment to particular emperors. This is the more remarkable, as at the time that the prophecy was made, the empire was in a state of peace.

Rumours of wars - Wars declared or threatened, but not carried into execution. Josephus says that Bardanes, and after him Vologeses, declared war against the Jews, but it was not carried into execution, Antig. xx. 34. He also says that Vitellius, governor of Syria, declared war against Aretas, king of Arabia, and wished to lead his army through Palestine, but the death of Tiberius prevented the war, Antiq. xviii. 5. 3.

The end is not yet - The end of the Jewish economy; the destruction of Jerusalem will not immediately follow. Be not, therefore, alarmed when you hear of those commotions. Other signs will warn you when to be alarmed and seek security.


Mt 24:1-51. Christ's Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Warnings Suggested by It to Prepare for His Second Coming. ( = Mr 13:1-37; Lu 21:5-36).

For the exposition, see on [1355]Mr 13:1-37.

See Poole on "Matthew 24:8".

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars,.... This is the second sign of the destruction of Jerusalem: it is observable that this, and some of the following signs, are given by the Jews, as signs of the Messiah's coming; whereas they were forerunners of their ruin, for the rejection of him who was already come. They suppose the Messiah will come in the seventh year, or the year of rest and release:

"On the seventh year (they say (h)) will be "wars": and in the going out, or at the close of the seventh year, the son of David will come.''

Which wars, the gloss says, will be between the nations of the world, and Israel. Here wars may mean the commotions, insurrections, and seditions, against the Romans, and their governors; and the intestine slaughters committed among them, some time before the siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of it. Under Cureanus the Roman governor, a sedition was raised on the day of the passover, in which twenty thousand perished; after that, in another tumult, ten thousand were destroyed by cut-throats: in Ascalon two thousand more, in Ptolemais two thousand, at Alexandria fifty thousand, at Damascus ten thousand, and elsewhere in great numbers (i). The Jews were also put into great consternation, upon hearing the design of the Roman emperor, to put up his image in their temple:

see that ye be not troubled; so as to leave the land of Judea as yet, and quit the preaching of the Gospel there, as if the final destruction was just at hand;

for all these things must come to pass; these wars and the reports of them and the panic on account of them; these commotions and slaughters, and terrible devastations by the sword must be; being determined by God, predicted by Christ, and brought upon the Jews by their own wickedness; and suffered in righteous judgment, for their sin:

but the end is not yet; meaning not the end of the world, but the end of Jerusalem, and the temple, the end of the Jewish state; which were to continue, and did continue after these disturbances in it.

(h) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 97. 1. & Megilia, fol. 17. 2. Zohar in Exod. fol. 3. 3, 4. (i) Vid. Joseph. Antiq. l. 20. c. 6. & de Bello Jud. l. 2, &c.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the {a} end is not yet.

(a) That is, when those things are fulfilled, yet the end will not come.

Matthew 24:6. Δέ] continuative: but to turn now from this preliminary warning to your question itself—ye will hear, etc. This reply to the disciples’ question as to the events that were to be the precursors of the destruction of the temple (comp. πότε, Matthew 24:3), is so framed that the prophetic outlook is directed first to the more general aspect of things (to what is to take place on the theatre of the world at large, Matthew 24:6-8), and then to what is of a more special nature (to what concerns the disciples and the community of Christians, Matthew 24:9-14). For the future μελλής. (you will have to), comp. 2 Peter 1:12; Plat. Ep. vii. p. 326 C.

πολέμους κ. ἀκοὰς πολέμων] said with reference to wars near at hand, the din and tumult of which are actually heard, and to wars at a distance, of which nothing is known except from the reports that are brought home.

ὁρᾶτε, μὴ θροεῖσθε] take care, be not terrified. For θροεῖσθε, comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:2; Song of Solomon 5:4; on the two imperatives, as in Matthew 8:4; Matthew 8:15, Matthew 9:30, see Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 209 [E. T. 243].

δεῖ γὰρ πάντα γενέσθαι] they are not to be terrified, because it is necessary that all that should take place. The reflection that it is a matter of necessity in pursuance of the divine purpose (Matthew 26:54), is referred to as calculated to inspire a calm and reassured frame of mind. πάντα is to be understood as meaning: everything that is then to happen, not specially (τὰ πάντα, ταῦτα πάντα, comp. critical notes) the matters indicated by μελλήσετεπολέμων, but rather that: nothing, which begins to take place, can stop short of its full accomplishment. The emphasis, however, is on δεῖ.

ἀλλʼ οὔπω ἐστὶ τὸ τέλος] however, this will not be as yet the final consummation, so that you will require to preserve your equanimity still further. Comp. Hom. Il. ii. 122: τέλος δʼ οὔ πώ τί πέφανται. τὸ τέλος cannot mean the συντέλεια, Matthew 24:3 (Chrysostom, Ebrard, Bleek, Lange, Cremer, Auberlen, Hoelemann, Gess), but, as the context proves by the correlative expression ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων, Matthew 24:8, and by τὸ τέλος, Matthew 24:14, comp. with οὖν, Matthew 24:15, the end of the troubles at present under consideration. Inasmuch, then, as these troubles are to be straightway followed by the world’s last crisis and the signs of the Messiah’s advent (Matthew 24:29-30), τὸ τέλος must be taken as referring to the end of the dolores Messiae. This end is the laying waste of the temple and the unparalleled desolation of the land that is to accompany it. Matthew 24:15 ff. This is also substantially equivalent to de Wette’s interpretation: “the decisive winding up of the present state of things (and along with it the climax of trouble and affliction).”

Matthew 24:6. econd sign: wars.—πολέμους καὶ ἀκοὰς π.: vague phrase suitable to the prophetic style, not ex eventu; well rendered in A. V[132] “wars and rumours of wars” = wars near and remote (Bengel, Meyer), or better: “actual and threatened” (Speaker’s Com.). The reference is not to wars anywhere in the world, but to those in the Holy Land, arising, as they were sure sooner or later to do, out of Messianic fanaticisms. Christ speaks not out of foreknowledge of the actual facts as reported by contemporary historians and collected by modern commentators (Grotius, etc.), but by prophetic logic: given Messianic hopes misdirected, hence wars, hence ruin.—μελλήσετε, future of a verb, whose very meaning points to the future: ye will be about to hear, by-and-by, not for a while; often delusive times of peace before tragic times of war. Vide Carlyle’s French Revolution, book i.—ὁρᾶτε, μὴ θροεῖσθε, see, be not scared out of your wits (θροέω, originally = cry aloud; later use = to terrify, as if with a scream; here passive in neuter sense). This reference to coming wars of liberation was natural, and necessary if the aim was to fortify disciples against future events. Nevertheless at this point, in the opinion of many critics, begins the so-called “Jewish apocalypse,” which Mk. and after him Mt. and Lk. have interwoven with the genuine utterance of Jesus. The latter embraces all about false Christs and apostolic tribulations (Matthew 24:4-5; Matthew 24:9-14; Matthew 24:22-23), the former all about war, flight, and the coming of the Son of Man with awful accompaniments (Matthew 24:7-8; Matthew 24:15-22; Matthew 24:29-31). Vide Wendt, L. J., i., p. 10 f., where the two series are given separately, from Mk., following in the main Weiffenbach. This critical analysis is ingenious but not convincing. Pseudo-Christs in the sense explained and wars of liberation went together in fact, and it was natural they should go together in prophetic thought. The political Messiahs divorced from the politics become mere ghosts, which nobody need fear.—δεῖ γὰρ γ. Their eventual coming is a divine necessity, let even that consideration act as a sedative; and for the rest remember that the beginning of the tragedy is not the end—ἀλλʼ οὔπω τ. τ.: the end being the thing inquired about—the destruction of the temple and all that went along with it.

[132] Authorised Version.

6. wars and rumours of wars] The second sign. Philo and Josephus describe the disturbed state of Judæa from this date to the siege of Jerusalem. Massacres of the Jews were perpetrated at Cæsarea, at Alexandria, in Babylonia and in Syria.—See Milman’s History of the Jews, Bks. xii.–xv. Tacitus, characterising the same period, says “opus adgredior opimum casibus, atrox præliis, discors seditionibus, ipsa etiam pace sævum.” Hist. i. 2.

Matthew 24:6. Μελλήσετε δὲ ἀκούειν, but ye shall be about to hear) A compound future. The writings of the Evangelists having been published before the fulfilment of this prediction, were greatly confirmed when it took place. About to hear: Christians rather hear of than wage wars.—πολέμους, wars) sc. close at hand.—ἀκοὰς πολέμων, rumours of wars) sc. at a distance.—μὴ θροεῖσθε, be ye not troubled) A case of metonymy of the antecedent; i.e. do not immediately take to flight. The verb θροέομαι (to be troubled) is peculiarly appropriate in this place, for θρόος[1034] is from θρέω,[1035] which signifies σὺν θορύβῳ βοῶ ἢ λαλῶ, i.e. to cry, or speak with tumult.—δεῖ γὰρ πάντα γένεσθαι, for all these things must come to pass) This is the ground of the believer’s tranquility.—οὔπω, not yet) The godly are always prone to think that evils have reached their utmost limit: therefore they are warned.—τὸ τέλος, the end) mentioned in Matthew 24:2; Matthew 24:14, is not yet; nor is it yet time to fly; see Matthew 24:15; Matthew 24:18; Luke 21:20-21. The beginning is only mentioned in Matthew 24:8.

[1034] A noise as of many voices, … a murmuring of discontented people, … a report. Lat., Rumor.—Liddell and Scott.—(I. B.)

[1035] Whence comes θρῆνος, a dirge.—ED.

Verse 6. - Ye shall hear (μελλήσετε ἀκούειν). Ye are about, ye are destined, to hear. "Futurum complicatum, audituri eritis" (Bengel). He addresses the apostles as representatives of the whole body of believers. Wars and rumours of wars; i.e. wars near at hand, and distant wars of which the rumour only reaches you, but which threaten to approach and menace your peace (cf. Jeremiah 4:19). The peace which reigned at Christ's birth was rudely shattered after his death, though the wars before the destruction of Jerusalem were of no great importance. We hear of an in. tended expedition against Aretas (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 18:05. 3), of one of Caligula against the Jews (ibid., 18:8. 2), both of which, however, came to nothing. Then there were certain insurrections in the reigns of Claudius (ibid., 20:5, 3) and Nero (ibid., 20:8. 6-10). The Roman empire was disturbed; four emperors - Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius - died by violence within a short space of time; the restless Parthians were a continual source of trouble. But these and such-like occurrences do little to exhaust the meaning of Christ's prediction. He is looking forward to a distant future, and sees with prophetic eye the state of warfare which has prevailed from the disruption of the Roman empire, and which shall continue unto the end. See that ye be not troubled; rather, see, be ye not troubled, Look on it all, and yet be not affrighted. All these things (πάντα) must come to pass. All that I announce is sure to occur, not from any absolute necessity, but because of men's passions and perverseness, which will bring it to pass (see on Matthew 18:7; and James 4:1). The end is not yet. These signs might lead men to think that the final consummation was close at hand. Our Lord warns against such a conclusion. St. Paul speaks of "the end" as occurring in Christ's second advent (1 Corinthians 15:24). Matthew 24:6
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