Destruction of the Temple (Interpretation of Matthew 24:1–10)

Jesus left the temple area and was going on His way when His disciples came up to Him to call His attention to the [magnificent and massive] [a]buildings of the temple. And He said to them, “Do you see all these things? I assure you and most solemnly say to you, not one stone here will be left on another, which will not be torn down.” While Jesus was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, and said, “Tell us, when will this [destruction of the temple] take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end (completion, consummation) of the age?” Jesus answered, “Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. For many will come in My name [misusing it, and appropriating the strength of the name which belongs to Me], saying, ‘I am the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed),’ and they will mislead many. You will continually hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end [of the age]. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish and the time of unprecedented trouble]. “Then they will hand you over to [endure] tribulation, and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another. (AMP)

Matthew 24: 1 – 2 speaks about the destruction of the Temple.

The temple spoken of in the text was located on the Mount of Olives in Bethphage, Jerusalem (Matt 21).  According to TruthNet.org, Jesus was speaking prophetically about the physical destruction of the Temple and that “this was fulfilled when the Romans [sic] armies burned the 2nd Temple in AD 70, then they threw down all the stones from the Temple Mount in their hunt for melted gold between the walls”.

In examining some keywords, the destruction of the temple can be figurative as well as literal.  The keywords that will be examined are: building, stone, and thrown down.

Martin posits that “… Bethphage was the site where the Sanhedrin determined legal measurements for the nation.  It was where they set the limits on sacred and secular things (the size of the city, the Temple, the day to start the sacred calendar, when to observe the festival days, starting the census, etc.)”.  Bethphage was the second seat of the Sanhedrin, which would explain why Jesus gave the Scribes and Pharisees such grave warnings in Matthew 23.  Therefore, the temple in Bethphage would have held great religious significance to the people.

When Jesus left the temple, the disciples wanted Him to see the buildings of the temple. This could be the design of structures already built or new construction that was being erected, as the Greek word for building, ‘oikodome’, implies (Strong’s Concordance).  This demonstrates that the Jews received great pride from the physical structure itself.  However, Jesus’ response was that the temple would be destroyed, “…there shall not be left here one stone upon another” (vs 2).  Stone, according to Thayer Concordance, can signify the literal stones used to build places or metaphorically represent Christ.  The English word, thrown down, is derived from the Greek word kataluo, which means “to dissolve, to destroy, to render vain, or overthrow” (Thayer Concordance).

Therefore, Jesus’ prophecy of the temple could mean that the religious importance placed on the temple would be rendered vain, become insignificant, due to His crucifixion.  The pride of the people of God would no longer come from a physical structure.  In other words, decisions made by the Sanhedrin concerning secular and sacred matters would be overthrown and dissolved as these were established under the old covenant but Jesus came to establish a new covenant.  Moreover, the spiritual meaning of the temple would be dissolved as the “stones” used were not derived from the “rock” that would establish the Church (Matt 16:18).

 

Works Cited

Martin, Ernest L. “The Significance of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives.” Hope of Israel Ministries. N.p. Web. 15 Jun. 2017.

Strong’s Concordance. “Buildings.” My Sword Bible App.

Thayer Concordance. “Thrown down.” My Sword Bible App.

TruthNet.org. “Why there needs to be a Third Temple?.. Matthew 24” TruthNet. N.p, 2012

 

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