The Sign of the End of the Age
December 24, 2021
Now 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?" And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you (Matthew 24:3-4)
The 3rd question the disciples asked focused on the end of the age. It must be made clear here that we understand the question before we try to answer it. The question was regarding the end of the ‘age’ (aion: a specific period; an era), not regarding the end of the ‘world’ (cosmos: an orderly arrangement; the world, including its inhabitants). Follow the sequence of their questions:
• When will Jerusalem and the Temple be destroyed?
• When will You appear as the King of God’s Kingdom?
• When will that Kingdom end (how long will You reign as King over the Kingdom)?
Again, the disciples were not thinking, nor had they held in their minds a supernatural, spiritual Kingdom of God in which Jesus Christ would rule and reign. Theirs was the popular belief that Jesus was a Messiah who would deliver Israel from the Roman occupation and restore the nation to its glory days under Kings David and Solomon. We know they were not asking about the future end of all things because they asked about the end of the ‘age’, not the end of the ‘world’.
The word ‘end’ is sunteleia and refers to the completion of a series of planned events. Again, the disciples were thinking of the destruction of the Temple, the manifestation of Jesus as King of the Kingdom of God, and the duration of that Kingdom. We know this because earlier, after Jesus spoke of His approaching death, James and John and their mother approached Jesus asking if He would grant them the status of sitting on the right and left of Jesus in His Kingdom (Matthew 20:20-23), and during the Lord’s Supper, there was an argument among the disciples as to who would be the greatest in the Kingdom (Luke 22:24-30).
Jesus, however, spoke of the fulfillment of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (question 1) as occurring in that generation (within the next 40 years). Questions 2 & 3 Jesus answered as occurring at a future time and in a different ‘age’, the final days before the end of the world. Again, it is wise to consider Matthew 24 -25, Mark 13, and Luke 21 as a whole to get the complete picture painted in the Olivet Discourse, and to study it for what Jesus actually said, not what others have said about it.
“Lord Jesus, I ask again that You will guide us by the wisdom of Your Holy Spirit through this most important teaching. Help us to understand what events are past and what are yet future. Help us to be prepared for Your return, should it be today, or for our leaving to meet You in glory, should that be today. To Your praise and glory I ask, Amen.”