Truly: See study note on Mt 5:18.
by no means will a stone be left here upon a stone: Jesus’ prophecy was remarkably fulfilled in 70 C.E. when the Romans demolished Jerusalem and its temple. Apart from a few sections of the wall, the city was completely leveled.
Mount of Olives: Located E of Jerusalem and separated from the city by the Kidron Valley. From this vantage point, Jesus and his disciples “Peter, James, John, and Andrew” (Mr 13:3, 4) could view the city and its temple.
presence: The Greek word pa·rou·siʹa (in many translations rendered “coming”) literally means “being alongside.” It refers to a presence covering a period of time rather than simply a coming or an arrival. This meaning of pa·rou·siʹa is indicated at Mt 24:37-39, where “the days of Noah . . . before the Flood” are compared to “the presence of the Son of man.” At Php 2:12, Paul used this Greek word to describe his “presence” in contrast to his “absence.”
conclusion: Rendered from the Greek word syn·teʹlei·a, meaning “joint end; combination end; ending together.” (Mt 13:39, 40, 49; 28:20; Heb 9:26) This refers to a time period during which a combination of events would lead to the complete “end” mentioned at Mt 24:6, 14, where a different Greek word, teʹlos, is used.—See study notes on Mt 24:6, 14 and Glossary, “Conclusion of the system of things.”
the system of things: Or “the age.” Here the Greek word ai·onʹ refers to the current state of affairs or features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age.—See Glossary, “System(s) of things.”
the Christ: Greek, ho Khri·stosʹ. The title “the Christ” is equivalent to “the Messiah” (from Hebrew ma·shiʹach), both meaning “Anointed One.” Jewish historian Josephus indicates that in the first century C.E., some who claimed to be prophets or liberators arose, promising relief from Roman oppression. These may have been viewed by their followers as political Messiahs.
end: Or “complete end.” The Greek word used here (teʹlos) is different from the Greek word rendered “conclusion” (syn·teʹlei·a) at Mt 24:3.—See study note on Mt 24:3 and Glossary, “Conclusion of the system of things.”
nation: The Greek word eʹthnos has a broad meaning and can refer to people living within certain political or geographical boundaries, such as a country, but can also refer to an ethnic group.—See study note on Mt 24:14.
rise: Or “be stirred up; be roused up.” Here the Greek word conveys the idea “to move against in hostility” and could also be rendered “rise up in arms” or “go to war.”
pangs of distress: The Greek word literally refers to the intense pain experienced during childbirth. While it is used here to refer to distress, pain, and suffering in a general sense, it may suggest that like birth pains the foretold troubles and suffering will increase in frequency, intensity, and duration in the time period before the great tribulation mentioned at Mt 24:21.
on account of my name: In the Bible, the term “name” at times stands for the person who bears the name, his reputation, and all that he represents. (See study note on Mt 6:9.) In the case of Jesus’ name, it also stands for the authority and position that his Father has given him. (Mt 28:18; Php 2:9, 10; Heb 1:3, 4) Jesus here explains that people would hate his followers because of what his name represents, that is, his position as God’s appointed Ruler, the King of kings, the one to whom all people should bow in submission in order to gain life.—See study note on Joh 15:21.
will be stumbled: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word skan·da·liʹzo refers to stumbling in a figurative sense, which may include falling into sin or causing someone to fall into sin. As the term is used in the Bible, the sin may involve breaking one of God’s laws on morals or losing faith or accepting false teachings. In this context, the term could also be rendered “will be led into sin; will fall away from the faith.” The Greek word can also be used in the sense of “to take offense.”—See study notes on Mt 13:57; 18:7.
lawlessness: The Greek word rendered “lawlessness” includes the idea of violation of and contempt for laws, people acting as if there were no laws. As used in the Bible, it suggests disregard for God’s laws.—Mt 7:23; 2Co 6:14; 2Th 2:3-7; 1Jo 3:4.
the greater number: Referring not just to “many” in a general sense as some Bibles render this but to “the majority” of those who have been influenced by “false prophets” and “lawlessness,” as mentioned at Mt 24:11, 12.
has endured: Or “endures.” The Greek verb rendered “to endure” (hy·po·meʹno) literally means “to remain (stay) under.” It is often used in the sense of “remaining instead of fleeing; standing one’s ground; persevering; remaining steadfast.” (Mt 10:22; Ro 12:12; Heb 10:32; Jas 5:11) In this context, it refers to maintaining a course of action as Christ’s disciples despite opposition and trials.—Mt 24:9-12.
this good news: The Greek word eu·ag·geʹli·on is derived from the words eu, meaning “good; well” and ag·gelʹlos, “one who brings news; one who proclaims (announces).” (See Glossary.) It is rendered “gospel” in some English Bibles. The related expression rendered “evangelizer” (Greek, eu·ag·ge·li·stesʹ) means “a proclaimer of good news.”—Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11, ftn.; 2Ti 4:5, ftn.
the Kingdom: That is, God’s Kingdom. Throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures, the “good news” (see preceding study note on this good news in this verse) is closely linked with God’s Kingdom, the theme of Jesus’ preaching and teaching work.—See study notes on Mt 3:2; 4:23; Lu 4:43.
preached: Or “publicly proclaimed.”—See study note on Mt 3:1.
all the inhabited earth . . . all the nations: Both expressions emphasize the scope of the preaching work. In a broad sense, the Greek word for “inhabited earth” (oi·kou·meʹne) refers to the earth as the dwelling place of mankind. (Lu 4:5; Ac 17:31; Ro 10:18; Re 12:9; 16:14) In the first century, this term was also used in reference to the vast Roman Empire, where the Jews had been dispersed. (Lu 2:1; Ac 24:5) In its general sense, the Greek word for “nation” (eʹthnos) refers to a group of people who are more or less related to one another by blood and who have a common language. Such a national or ethnic group often occupies a defined geographic territory.
for a witness: Or “for a testimony,” that is, an assurance that all the nations would hear the good news. The Greek word mar·tyʹri·on (witness; testimony) and related Greek words often refer to a recounting of the facts and events related to a subject. (See study note on Ac 1:8.) In this case, Jesus says that there would be a worldwide testimony of what God’s Kingdom would accomplish and a recounting of events related to that Kingdom. Jesus indicates that the global Kingdom-preaching work itself would be an important feature of “the sign of [his] presence.” (Mt 24:3) The fact that all the nations would receive this witness does not mean that all the nations would convert to true Christianity—only that they would hear the testimony.
the disgusting thing that causes desolation: Daniel foretold that “disgusting things” would be associated with desolation. (Da 9:27) Jesus here indicates that “the disgusting thing that causes desolation” had not yet appeared; it was to come in the future. And 33 years after Jesus’ death, Christians witnessed the initial fulfillment of this prophecy when they did catch sight of a disgusting thing standing in a holy place. The parallel account at Lu 21:20 reads: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near.” In 66 C.E., pagan Roman armies surrounded “the holy city,” Jerusalem, a place that the Jews viewed as holy and that was the center of the Jewish revolt against Rome. (Mt 4:5; 27:53) Discerning Christians, who recognized that the Roman army with its idolatrous banners was “the disgusting thing,” took it as the final signal to “begin fleeing to the mountains.” (Mt 24:15, 16; Lu 19:43, 44; 21:20-22) After the Christians fled, the Romans desolated both the city and the nation. Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 70 C.E., and the last Jewish stronghold, Masada, fell to the Romans in 73 C.E. (Compare Da 9:25-27.) The detailed initial fulfillment of this prophecy provides a solid basis for trusting that the greater fulfillment will also take place, culminating with Jesus’ “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Mt 24:30) Many ignore Jesus’ statement that Daniel’s prophecy would be fulfilled after Jesus’ day, and they follow Jewish tradition in applying the expression “the disgusting thing that causes desolation” to an event in 168 B.C.E. when Syrian King Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) profaned Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem. Antiochus attempted to stamp out the worship of Jehovah, even building an altar over the great altar of Jehovah and sacrificing pigs as an offering to the pagan god Zeus of Olympus. (See study note on Joh 10:22.) The apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees (1:54) uses an expression similar to the one found in the book of Daniel (associating disgusting things with desolation) and applies it to the event in 168 B.C.E. However, Jewish tradition and the account in 1 Maccabees are human interpretations, not inspired revelations. Certainly, Antiochus provoked feelings of disgust by desecrating the temple, but his attack did not result in the desolation of Jerusalem, the temple, or the Jewish nation.
holy place: Referring in the initial fulfillment of this prophecy to Jerusalem with its temple.—See study note on Mt 4:5.
(let the reader use discernment): Readers should always use discernment when studying God’s Word, but there is apparently a special need to be alert to the application of this portion of Daniel’s prophecy. Jesus was cautioning his hearers that the fulfillment of this prophecy was not in the past but was yet future.—See the study note on the disgusting thing that causes desolation in this verse.
Judea: That is, the Roman province of Judea.
to the mountains: According to fourth-century historian Eusebius, Christians in Judea and Jerusalem fled across the Jordan River to Pella, a city in a mountainous region of the Decapolis.
on the housetop: The roofs of houses were flat and were used for many purposes, including storage (Jos 2:6), rest (2Sa 11:2), sleep (1Sa 9:26), and festivals for worship (Ne 8:16-18). That is why a parapet was required. (De 22:8) Generally, an external stairway or ladder allowed a householder to leave the rooftop without having to enter the house, which emphasizes the urgency of Jesus’ warning to flee.
on the Sabbath day: In territories like Judea, restrictions associated with Sabbath law would make it difficult for a person to journey great distances and to carry loads; also, city gates remained closed during the Sabbath day.—See Ac 1:12 and App. B12.
false Christs: Or “false Messiahs.” The Greek word pseu·doʹkhri·stos occurs only here and in the parallel account at Mr 13:22. It refers to anyone who wrongly assumes the role of the Christ, or the Messiah (lit., “Anointed One”).—See study note on Mt 24:5.
Look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
presence: See study note on Mt 24:3.
Son of man: See study note on Mt 8:20.
the sign of the Son of man: This sign is not the same as “the sign of [Jesus’] presence” mentioned at Mt 24:3. The sign mentioned here is connected with the “coming” of the Son of man as Judge to pronounce and execute judgment during the great tribulation.—See study note on coming in this verse.
see: The Greek verb rendered “see” can literally mean to “see an object; look at; behold,” but it can also be used metaphorically, of mental sight, meaning “to discern; perceive.”—Eph 1:18.
coming: The first of eight references in Matthew chapters 24 and 25 to Jesus’ coming. (Mt 24:42, 44, 46; 25:10, 19, 27, 31) In each of these occurrences, a form of the Greek verb erʹkho·mai, “to come,” is used. The term is here used in the sense of turning one’s attention to mankind, particularly to Jesus’ coming as Judge to pronounce and execute judgment during the great tribulation.
the clouds of heaven: Clouds tend to obstruct vision rather than facilitate it, but observers can “see” with eyes of understanding.—Ac 1:9.
illustration: Or “parable; lesson.”—See study note on Mt 13:3.
Heaven and earth will pass away: Other scriptures show that heaven and earth will endure forever. (Ge 9:16; Ps 104:5; Ec 1:4) So Jesus’ words here could be understood as hyperbole, meaning that even if the impossible happened and heaven and earth did pass away, Jesus’ words would still be fulfilled. (Compare Mt 5:18.) However, the heaven and earth here may well refer to the figurative heavens and earth that are called “the former heaven and the former earth” at Re 21:1.
my words will by no means pass away: Or “my words will certainly not pass away.” The use of two Greek negatives with the verb emphatically expresses rejection of an idea, vividly emphasizing the permanence of Jesus’ words.
the days of Noah: In the Bible, the term “day(s) of” is sometimes used with reference to the time period of a particular person. (Isa 1:1; Jer 1:2, 3; Lu 17:28) Here “the days of Noah” are compared to the presence of the Son of man. In a similar statement recorded at Lu 17:26, the expression “the days of the Son of man” is used. Jesus does not limit the comparison to the specific day when the Flood came as a final climax during Noah’s days. “The days of Noah” actually covered a period of years, so there is basis for the understanding that the foretold “presence [or “days”] of the Son of man” would likewise cover a period of years. Like Noah’s days, which climaxed with the Flood, “the presence of the Son of man” would culminate in the destruction of those who do not seek deliverance.—See study note on Mt 24:3.
presence: See study note on Mt 24:3.
Flood: Or “deluge; cataclysm.” The Greek word ka·ta·kly·smosʹ denotes a large flood with destructive force, and the Bible uses the word with reference to the Deluge of Noah’s day.—Mt 24:39; Lu 17:27; 2Pe 2:5.
ark: The Greek term can also be rendered “chest; box,” perhaps to denote that it was a large boxlike structure. In the Vulgate, this Greek word is rendered arca, meaning “box; chest,” from which the English term “ark” is derived.
be taken along . . . abandoned: See study note on Lu 17:34.
Keep on the watch: The Greek term has the basic meaning “stay (keep) awake,” but in many contexts it means “be on guard; be watchful.” Matthew uses this term at Mt 24:43; 25:13; 26:38, 40, 41. At Mt 24:44, he connects it with the need to be “ready.”—See study note on Mt 26:38.
discreet: The Greek word used here conveys the idea of understanding associated with insight, forethought, discernment, prudence, and wisdom in a practical sense. The same Greek word is used at Mt 7:24 and 25:2, 4, 8, 9. The Septuagint uses this word at Ge 41:33, 39 regarding Joseph.
slave: The use of the singular form “slave” in Jesus’ illustration does not necessarily mean that the slave represented only one particular person. The Scriptures contain examples of a singular noun referring to a collective group, such as when Jehovah addressed the Israelite nation and told them: “You are my witnesses [plural], . . . yes, my servant [singular] whom I have chosen.” (Isa 43:10) In the parallel illustration at Lu 12:42, this slave is called “the faithful steward, the discreet one.”—See study note on Lu 12:42.
his domestics: Or “his household servants.” The term applies to all individuals who work in the master’s household.
coming: See study note on Mt 24:30.
that evil slave: Jesus’ words here are actually a warning directed to the faithful and discreet slave, mentioned at Mt 24:45. Jesus is neither foretelling nor appointing an “evil slave” but is warning the faithful slave about what would happen if he were to start displaying the characteristics of an evil slave. Such a disloyal slave would be punished “with the greatest severity.”—Mt 24:51; see study note on Lu 12:45.
punish him with the greatest severity: Lit., “cut him in two.” This graphic expression is evidently not to be understood literally; rather, it conveys the idea of severe punishment.
hypocrites: See study note on Mt 6:2.
gnashing of his teeth: See study note on Mt 8:12.