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ver. 3. The buildings of the temple.' The temple itself, with the surrounding courts, porches, and other edifices. See note, Matt. xxi. 12. Mark says, that they particularly pointed out the stones of the temple, as well as the buildings. In that temple,' says Josephus, the Jewish historian, were several stones which were forty-five cubits in length, five in height, and six in breadth,' seventy feet long, ten wide, and eight high. Those stones, of such enormous size, were principally used in building the high wall on the east side, from the base to the top of the mountain.
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
'There shall not be left here one stone upon another.' At the time this was spoken, no event seemed more improbable than this. Yet in the short space of forty years all this was exactly accomplished. Jerusalem was taken by the Roman armies, under the command of Titus, A. D. 73. The account of the siege and destruction of the city is left us by Josephus, an historian of undoubted veracity and singular fidelity. He was a Jewish priest. In the wars of which he gives an account, he fell into the hands of the Romans, and remained with them during the siege and destruction of the city. Being a Jew, he would of course say nothing designed to confirm the prophecies of Jesus Christ. Yet his whole history appears almost like a running commentary on these predictions respecting the destruction of the temple.
After the city was taken, Josephus says, that Titus 'gave orders that they should now demolish the whole city and temple, except three towers, which he reserved standing. But for the rest of the wall, was laid so completely even with the ground by those who dug it up from the foundation, that there was nothing left, to make those believe who came hither, that it had ever been inhabited.' Titus was desirous of preserving the temple; and frequently sent Josephus to the Jews to induce them to surrender, and save the temple and city. But the prediction of the Saviour must be fulfilled. The Jews themselves first set fire to the porticoes of the temple. One of the Roman soldiers, without any command, threw a burning firebrand through a window, and soon the temple was in flames. Titus gave orders to extinguish the fire; but amidst the tumult, none of his orders were obeyed. The soldiers pressed to the temple, and neither fear, nor entreaties, nor stripes, could restrain them or control them; and thus, says Josephus, the temple was burnt against the will of Cæsar.
3¶ And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us,
when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
'He sat upon the mount of Olives.' Notè, Matt. xxi. 12. From that mount there was a magnificent view of the whole city. The disciples came unto him privately.' Not all of them, but Peter, James, John, and Andrew, Mark xiii. 3. The prediction that the temple would be destroyed, ver 2, had been made in the presence of all the apostles. A part now came privately to know more particularly when this would be. When shall these things be?' &c. There are three questions here: 1. When those things should take place. 2. What should be the signs of his coming. 3. What should be the signs that the end of the world was near. To these questions he replies in this and the following chapters. This he does, intermingling the descriptions of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the end of the world. The principle on which this combined description of two events was spoken, appears to oe, that they could be described in the same words, and, therefore, the accounts are intermingled. A similar use of language Is found in some parts of Isaiah, where the same language will describe the return from the Babylonish captivity, and deliverance by the Messiah. 'Sign of thy coming.' Evidence that thou art coming. By what token shall we know that thou art coming.
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
They were to be constantly on their guard, as many would arise to deceive the people. " Many shall come in my name." In the name of the Messiah, or claiming to be the Messiah. am Christ.' I am the Messiah. Many would lay claims to being the Messiah, and, as he was universally expected, many would easily be led to believe in them. There is abundant evidence that this was fully accomplished. Josephus informs us that there were many who, pretending to Divine inspiration, deceived the people, leading out numbers of them into the desert. The land,' says he, was overrun with magicians, seducers, and impostors, who drew the people after them, in multitudes, into solitudes and deserts, to see the signs and miracles which they promised to show by the power of God.' The names of twenty-four false Messiahs are recorded as having appeared between the time of the emperor Adrian and the year 1682.
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.
And ye shall hear of wars,' &c. It is recorded in the histories
of Rome, that the most violent agitations prevailed in the Roman empire previous to the destruction of Jerusalem. Four emperors, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellus, suffered violent deaths in the short space of eighteen months. Parties were formed; and bloody and violent wars were the consequence of attachment to the 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 Volageses, declared war against the Jews, but it was not carried into execution. He also says that Vitellus, 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. The end is not yet.' The end of the Jewish economy; the destruction of Jerusalem will not immediately follow.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
'And there shall be famines.' There was a famine foretold by Agabus, Acts xi. 28, which is mentioned as having occurred, by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Eusebius; and which was so severe in Jerusalem, Josephus says, that many people perished for want of food. Four times in the reign of Claudius (A. D. 41-54), famines prevailed at Rome, Palestine, and Greece. Pestilences." Raging, epidemic diseases. The plague, sweeping off multitudes of people at once. A pestilence is recorded as raging in Babylonia, A. D. 40; in Italy, A. D. 66. Both of these took place before the destruction of Jerusalem. 'Earthquakes.' Tacitus mentions one in the reign of Claudius, at Rome, and says, that in the reign of Nero, the cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse were overthrown; and the celebrated Pompeii was overwhelmed, and almost destroyed by an earthquake. The beginning of sorrows.' Far heavier calamities are yet to come before the end.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
To be afflicted.' By persecution, imprisonment, scourging, &c. 'They shall deliver you up to councils.' (Mark.) To the great council, or sanhedrim, for this is the word in the original. Note. Matt. v. 22. This was fulfilled when Peter and John were brought before the council, Acts iv. 5-7. Mark further adds, xiii. 9, that they should be delivered to synagogues, and to prisons, to be beaten, and should be brought before rulers and kings, for his name's sake. All this was remarkably fulfilled. Peter and ohn were imprisoned, Acts iv. 3; Paul and Silas also, Acts xvi.
24. They were also beaten, xvi. 23. Paul was brought before Gallio, Acts xviii. 12, before Felix, xxiv. 24, and before Agrippa, XXV. 23. And shall kill you.' That is, shall kill some of you. Stephen was stoned, Acts vii. 59; James was killed by Herod, Acts xii. 2. And in addition to all that the sacred writers have told us, the persecution under Nero took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, in which Peter and Paul were put to death, with many others. Most of the apostles, it is believed, died by persecution.
When they should be delivered up, Jesus told them not to premeditate what they should say, for he would give them a mouth and wisdom, which all their adversaries could not gainsay or resist, Luke xxi. 14, 15. The fulfilment of this is recorded in the case of Stephen, Acts vi. 10, and of Paul, who made Felix tremble, Acts xxiv. 25. 'Ye shall be hated of all nations.' It was judged to be a crime to be a christian. Multitudes for this, and for nothing else, were put to death. For my name's sake.' On account of attachment to me; or because you bear my name as christians.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
"Many shall be offended.' See note, Matt. v. 29. Many shall stumble, fall, apostatize, from a profession of religion. Many who professed to love me, shall then show that they had no real attachment to me. See 1 John ii. 19. Shall betray one another. Those who thus apostatize from professed attachment to me, shall betray others who really love me. This they would do to secure their own safety, by revealing the names, habitations, or places of concealment of others. Shall hate one another." Not that real christians would do this, but those who had professed to be such, shall then show that they were not, and shall hate one another. Luke adds, that they should be betrayed by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends. They would break through the most tender ties to surrender christians to punishment. This, in the persecutions of christians, has been often done; and nothing shows more fully, the deep and deadly hatred of the human heart to the gospel.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
Josephus says, the tyrannical zealots who ruled the city, suborned many false prophets to declare that aid would be given to the people from heaven. This was done to prevent them from attempting to desert, and to inspire confidence in God.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
The effect of all this would be, that the ardour of feeling of
many christians would be lessened. The word' wax' means, to become. It is an old Saxon word, not used now in this sense, except in the bible. The fear of death, and of treason, and the deluding influence of false teachers, would lessen the zeal of many timid and weak professors; perhaps also of many feeble christians.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
He that bears afflictions, persecutions, &c. faithfully; that constantly adheres to his religion, and does not shrink till death, shall be saved, or shall enter heaven. So Luke, xxi. 18, says, there should not a hair of the head perish; that is, they should be saved. A hair of the head, or the smallest part or portion, is a proverbial expression, denoting the certainty and completeness of their salvation. Luke, xxi. 19, further adds, 'In your patience possess ye your souls.' That is, keep your souls patient; keep proper possession of patience as your own. It is a part of religion to teach it; and in these trying times, let it not depart from you.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
The evidence that this was done is to be chiefly derived from the New Testament, and there it is clear. Thus Paul declares, that it was preached to every creature under heaven, Col. i. 6, 23; that the faith of the Romans was spoken of throughout the whole world, Rom. i. 8; that he preached in Arabia, Gal. i. 17, and at Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, Rom. xv. 19. We know also, that he travelled through Asia Minor, Greece, and Crete; that he was in Italy, and probably in Spain and Gaul, Rom. xv. 24-28. At the same time, the other apostles were not idle; and there is full proof that within thirty years after this prophecy was spoken, churches were established in all these regions. For a witness unto all nations.' Hitherto the blessings of revelation had been confined to the Jews. They were the peculiar people of God. His messages had been sent to them only. When, therefore, God sent the gospel to all other people, it was a proof, or a witness unto them, that the peculiar Jewish economy was at an end. Then shall the end come.' The end of the Jewish economy. The destruction of the temple and city.
15 When ye therefore shall see. the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand :)
'The abomination of desolation.' This is a Hebrew expression, meaning an abominable or hateful destroyer. The Gentiles were all held in abomination by the Jews Acts x. 28. The abo