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Christ has been referring to his coming as well as the calamities which were about to unfold.There seem to be a mixture of near future and eschatological events that are about to unfold in this chapter

Matthew 24:14 (NASB, emphasis added)

14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

But there seems to be some ambiguity to which end is being referred to in the above text.

Which end was Christ referring to?

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    After seeing the events of the genocides surrounding AD 70 or that decade, it leaves no room for ambiguity, what end he was referring to. There are a number of Qs on this topic explaining that about the end times or end of the world. Eschatology.
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 11:09
  • Collen, I think I have some ideas worth sharing here.. I’ll get to it as soon as I can.
    – user36337
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 20:35
  • The End Research "The End" can best be understood by reading Flavius Josephus's Wars of the Jews....Raymond Grant's Times, They Are A'changing.... Marcellus Kik's Matthew Twenty-four.
    – ray grant
    Commented Jun 18, 2023 at 20:44
  • @Collenndhlovu-See Answer by Ray Grant, which shows the two different Ends mentioned in this Olivet Discourse, which are separated with Transition Verses. End of the Jewish Nation (Temple)---->transition verses---->End of the World.
    – ray grant
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 20:11

3 Answers 3

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He answered a question asked in v3

The 'end' that the disciples asked about

Jesus statement is a long answer to a question asked just before.

Matthew 24:3 (NASB, emphasis added)

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

The hermeneutic here is "first mention". We could also consider it "context".

The disciples had asked him a question which, apparently, needed a small essay to answer. At the closing of Jesus's eleven-verse answer, he basically declares the close of the answer, restating part of the question by saying, "then the end will come."

Most concise answer: It is "the end" that the disciples asked him about.

The deeper question: What 'end' did the disciples refer to in asking?

That seems almost as a non-answer: "The end" is the aforementioned "end". So, two things about that:

  1. Good hermeneutics compel us to only extract as much meaning as a text itself has. Just because we remain curious does not mean that the text has more meaning to find.
  2. We can, and probably should, use simple answers like this to pursue further study.

So, the deeper question for the Bible student may be, "What 'end' were the disciples referring to when they asked Jesus."

For that, you could do research on the Eschatology of the pre-crucifixion audience. That could be either a cross-referencing study or an extrabilical-historical study.

But, the most simple answer to this "deeper" question is: The Book of Revelation. The disciples are probably asking about the same "end" John saw in his vision. In fact, John was one of the disciples originally asking. His vision at Patmos could have been a more elaborate and belated answer to his question as a young disciples, some 60 years earlier.

The Early Church including the Book of Revelation in canon seems to be the strongest evidence that John's vision was the same "end" the New Testament audience was curious about.

With the overlap of the Olivet Discourse, we could say that The Book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse describe the same end that the disciples were curious about, which in turn Jesus describes in his answer.

From Wikipedia: Olivet Discourse

The Olivet Discourse or Olivet prophecy is a biblical passage found in the Synoptic Gospels in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It is also known as the Little Apocalypse because it includes the use of apocalyptic language...

AD 70 Massacre's relevance

Some parts of the Olivet Discourse could refer to the AD 70 Massacre, otherwise known as the Siege of Jerusalem. Specifically, Jesus' reference to retrieving personal belongings in 24:17...

Matthew 24:17 (NASB)

17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house,

24:17 could refer to the AD 70 Massacre, or a future conflict in Jerusalem with the Antichrist, but 24:14 cannot.

The specific "end" Jesus refers to in 24:14 could not be the AD 70 event because he specifically says that the gospel must be preached to the nations first, then this "end" will come.

And, John's vision (the Book of Revelation) is largely agreed to have occurred around AD 90, well after. So, there certainly are references to events well beyond AD 70. That said, 24:17 could have multiple fulfillments, but 24:17 is not the full definition of this "end" the Question was about.

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    ,couldn't he have been referring to the end of the Jewish state, city and temple service Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 11:26
  • Great comment! I will edit the answer to address the AD 70 Massacre. In some ways, it is relevant.
    – Jesse
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 11:30
  • +1 excellent answer
    – user35953
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 13:30
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    Everything you said seems good to me, I'd dare say it is "correct". But, to clarify when I say that the answer is "the Book of Revelation", that means that this "end" the OP is about is the big, dramatic apocalypse that the Book of Revelation describes. Because it was accepted by the Early Church, that acceptance is evidence that it described this "end" that the disciples, and accordingly the OP, is asking. I hope that clears things up for anyone curious.
    – Jesse
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 14:44
  • 1
    Got it. I initially supposed you were putting the cart before the horse, but you were calling on the 'evidence' in the later book of Revelation as after-the-event-of-Mat.24-support. Thanks, and congrats on your appointment as Moderator.
    – Anne
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:17
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The passage you have selected can be made to ‘fit’ many differing viewpoints. And each, although sometimes very different, can all be argued ‘exegetically’. So I recommend caution when considering answers - even this one!

Nevertheless, for consideration… The disciples asked Jesus 3 questions.

MAT 24:3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, [1] when will these things be? [2] And what will be the sign of Your coming, [3] and of the end of the age?” [Inserts obviously mine]

And the answer to those questions cover different ‘ages’. So Jesus starts by giving a broad overview …. Until he reaches verse 15 - when he specifically starts answering the first question … (which concerned the destruction of the temple, which was the context as it was being discussed, and that lead to the questions) ….

MAT 24:15 Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ [snip]

The point I’m making here is your verse, verse 14, was part of the broad, overall ‘picture’. The ‘wider context’. Let’s look closer …

MAT 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

First, note it’s at the end of the overview. So by this point we’re talking about the very end of the ages - where as at the start of the ‘overview’, (verse 4), Jesus starts with what’s coming in the near (nearer) future.

The ‘gospel of the kingdom’ is not Paul’s gospel of Grace. This was the gospel Jesus preached after his baptism. The gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. This gospel needs a ‘King’ on a [physical/real] throne. [in Jerusalem]. But the nation [Israel] rejected their king [Messiah]. Nevertheless, this kingdom will come, and will be preached, to the whole world - during the Millennium reign of Christ. (Note - FYI, this ‘view’ is not universal!).

Then after this ‘age’, after the Millennium, then the end, the very end, will come. So the answer to your question ([only] for those who hold this view of the Millennium) is the ‘end’ that Christ is referring to is the very end, immediately prior to the coming of the new earth and the new heavens.

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  • @Dave-I would humbly suggest the following overview of this Olivet Discourse: (A) DESTRUCTION OF TEMPLE........*transition*.........(B) SECOND COMING. With verses 34-36 as the transition. Verse 36 begins with peri-de (Gk.) "But concerning...that Day or hour..." This is a definite transition statement.
    – ray grant
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 21:48
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The Context of the End To determine which "end" Jesus is referring to we must look at Jesus's Answer to the disciples, not to the disciples' Question. As we know from the rest of the Gospel narrative, the disciples were mostly in the dark at the events surrounding Jesus and His coming Kingdom. Jesus had to straighten them out. And He does so here.

Notice that the Gospel would be preached in the whole world (NIV); so is there any hint in the Bible when this happened? First, remember that by "the world" what is meant is the inhabitable roman empire. This Greek wording is so translated in Luke 2:1 (taxed in the whole world, i.e. the Roman world NIV, Gk. oikoumenen).

  • All over the world this Gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it... (Colossians 1:6) Gk. kosmo
  • This is the Gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to
    every creature under heaven... (Col. 1:23)
  • Agabus...predicted that a severe famine would spread over the whole earth (entire Roman world, NIV; Acts 11:28)

From these N.T. verses it is clear that (1) the Gospel had spread, and (2) when it mentioned the whole earth, it was talking about the "inhabitable Roman empire."

So this helps us determine what is meant by the End. And we must not lose sight of the context of the Olivet Discourse: the END of the TEMPLE and the Jewish era. This is underscored in Hebrew 8:13: By calling this covenant 'new', he has made the first one obsolete, and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (NIV)

And then, whatever the "end" was meant to be seen as, it is definitely within the time frame of verse 34--we have Jesus's word on that: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened! Jesus is emphatic with, "certainly!"

End of Judaism------>Transition------->End of the World

History is a valid confirmation of prophecy--and correct interpretation. The End of the Temple (24:2)...the End of the Old Covenant (Heb. 8:13...the End of the Law (Luke 16:16)... the End of the House of Israel (Luke 13:15)...all came to a traumatic Ending. And this devastation occurred in the years 67-70 A.D. (With mopping up operations into the year 73.)

Greek Words As an aside, notice that when the disciples asked about the "end", they used the Greek word, sunteleias which means "completion", or "consummation." And this is found in Matthew 13:39, 40, 49, dealing with the Harvest, etc. at the End of the World.

But when answering the disciples perplexity over the announcement of the Destruction of the Temple, Jesus just used the Greek word, telos, which simply means "end." (vss. 6, 13, 14) The switch has significance. There are many "ends" (End of the Law, end of the sacrifices, end of temple worship, etc.) But the grand "consummation" is at the final End of the World. The disciples had to be corrected in their thinking about Ends.

And Jesus did just that: He spoke of signs of the End of Jerusalem and its Temple, then He separated it with a few transition verses, and taught about the signless End of the World.

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