We examined some of this on February 7 when we read Matthew 24:1-28. Jesus remarks how the temple will be completely destroyed (and it was in 70 AD). The disciples immediately want to know more, and Mark and Matthew have slightly different accounts of what was said. A full account might be: “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that all these things are about to take place? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew’s account could imply that Jesus is talking about two different times: when the temple will be destroyed, and what the signs of His coming will be. Mark doesn’t lend itself to that type of understanding! However we have multiple gospels to give us a fuller account, and they should be used to explain each other. So there are at least three possibilities regarding the interpretation of this passage:
- This was all fulfilled in the 1st century.
- This was partially fulfilled in the 1st century and the rest will be fulfilled when Jesus returns.
- This is all yet to be fulfilled (which is why many think the Jewish temple needs to be rebuilt).
It’s not all cut and dried. For example, how do we interpret “first the gospel must be preached to all nations”? Surely that must be future, right? But what if it wasn’t meant to be taken absolutely literally? In fact, Acts seems to indicate that Paul’s missionary journeys and his imprisonment in Rome was taking the gospel “to the farthest parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Some equate the “farthest parts of the earth” with “preaching the gospel to all nations.”
I probably lean towards a partial fulfillment in 70 AD with a future fulfillment yet to come. But even then, there are two important ongoing lessons for us here:
- Be careful. There are always those out there who want to deceive us. Some set up cults, some claim to be Christ, and some set dates. Some may even seem to do miracles. Do not be deceived.
- Christians throughout the ages have experienced persecution. Many have had family turn on them. Do not be afraid. God is with us through His Spirit. He will guide and protect us. Do not lose hope, and don’t deny your faith!
For worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNlsafcmBIk