12. (a) What question here rises concerning these wars and the international conflicts mentioned in the next verse (7)? (b) The break in Luke’s account at this point has led some commentators to argue which way?
12 Well, then, what about the wars foretold in the very next verse, Mt 24 verse seven, in which Jesus goes on to say: “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another”? Are these wars different from the ones just previously foretold? Here the parallel account by the Evangelist Luke makes a break. After quoting Jesus’ words, “When you hear of wars and disorders, do not be terrified. For these things must occur first, but the end does not occur immediately,” Luke’s account reads: “Then he went on to say to them: ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;
(Luke 21:9-11) This break in Luke’s account has been understood by some commentators to mean that Jesus is here starting off on a new line. Yet, how could this reasonably be so, since Jesus is still leading on to Jerusalem’s destruction?
13. (a) At the occurrence of such wars what were the apostles not to think? (b) Did such wars occur back in apostolic times?
13 Plainly, then, here in the first application of the prophecy, Jesus is referring to international wars due to occur before the impending destruction of Jerusalem. By going on to say that nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, Jesus is explaining why it is that they would hear of wars and reports of wars. But they should not get disturbed at such wars, because these are not the visible proof that the end is right upon them. And according to secular history, there were wars that occurred between the time that Jesus ascended to heaven and the destruction of the holy city. There were the Parthian wars in southwest Asia and the uprisings that took place in the Roman provinces of Gaul and Spain. There was the war waged by Asinaeus and Alinaeus against the Parthians to the east of the Roman Empire. There was the Parthian declaration of war against King Izates of the land of Adiabene.*
14. (a) Were there risings of nationalities that affected the Jews back there? (b) What had rabbis said about risings of kingdoms and nations?
14 True, these were wars that had no direct connection with Jerusalem, but, be it remembered that Jesus foretold the rising in war of nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, which would allow for purely Gentile wars. During that time the Jews under the Roman Empire had no kingdom. Nevertheless, there were risings of Jews against other nationalities, and risings of other neighboring nationalities against the Jews, involving the Syrians and Samaritans, so that tens of thousands of Jews were slain. It was a very painful period for the Jews. By a number of rabbis the Jews had been told that, when kingdom would be rising against kingdom and city against city, it would indicate the time of the Messiah, that his appearance was near.
15. What can be said about earthquakes back there?
15 There were also earthquakes back there, which are on record. There was that earthquake on the island of Crete during the reign of Claudius Caesar, another in Smyrna, others in Hierapolis, Colossae, Chios, Miletus and Samos; another overthrew the city of Laodicea during the reign of Emperor Nero. There was even one in Rome, as reported by the Latin historian, Tacitus. In his Wars of the Jews, Book 4, chapter 4, paragraph 5, Josephus tells of a dreadful earthquake as occurring in Judea itself.
16. What about food shortages back there; and pestilences?
16 Famines also took place, one of which is reported on in the Acts of the Apostles, Ac chapter eleven, verses 27 to 30, the one foretold by the Christian prophet Agabus and occurring during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Reportedly, many Jews in Jerusalem died because of this famine.