PMT 2020-019 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
This is the second in a series on the confusion of Jesus’ Disciples when they ask him about his prophecy of the temple’s destruction. They assumed that the temple would last until the end of the world. Thus, they understood Jesus’ prophecy of its destruction to be a prophecy regarding the end of the world.
Jesus’ prophecy and the Disciples’ questions are found in the following verses:
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matt. 24:1–3)
I will be highlighting Matthew’s emphasis on their continual confusion throughout Jesus’ ministry. But I must point out, first, that their assumption of the temple’s indestructibility was common among first-century Jews (despite the fact that Solomon’s temple had been destroyed in the OT!). Consider the following.
The Convictions Regarding the First-century Temple
Philo (Spec. 1:76) comments on the economic value of the temple in words assuming the temple’s perpetual endurance: “The temple has for its revenues not only portions of land, but also other possessions of much greater extent and importance, which will never be destroyed or diminished; for as long as the race of mankind shall last, the revenues likewise of the temple will always be preserved, being coeval in their duration with the universal world.”
Before Jerusalem Fell Lecture
DVD by Ken Gentry
A summary of the evidence for Revelation’s early date. Helpful, succinct introduction to Revelation’s pre-AD 70 composition.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Responding to Josephus’ pleas to surrender, John of Gischala declares that “he did never fear the taking of the city, because it was God’s own city” (J.W. 6:2:1 §98). Josephus (J.W. 5:11:2 §459) records the confidence of the beleaguered city when they mock Titus. They believe “that yet this temple would be preserved by him that inhabited therein, whom they still had for their assistant in this war, and did therefore laugh at all his threatenings, which would come to nothing, because the conclusion of the whole depended upon God only.”
As the Sib .Or. 5:420–23 expresses the matter, the “temple of God [was] made by holy people and hoped by their soul and body to be always imperishable.” Thus Gedaliah Alon (1980: 49) points out that “there was a strong belief among the people that the Temple was eternal, as indestructible as the nations itself.” David Flusser adds: “the hope that when the Gentiles invaded the Holy Land, Jerusalem would not fall, was widespread at that time. As we have seen, others that thought even though Jerusalem would be conquered, the Temple would not succumb. This the opinion of the Zealots in the besieged city” (cf. 1 En. 56:5–8; Sib. Or. 5:106–10).
In fact, the second-century Roman historian Dio Cassius (65:5:4) even speaks of the despair of the Roman soldiers’ “suspecting . . . that the city was really impregnable, as was commonly reported.”
The Reason for Jesus’ Disciples Confusion
With this widespread conviction regarding the temple’s impregnability, the enormous love of the temple by the first-century Jews, and the Disciples’ whole life being lived within first-century Israel, we can see why they would be confused about Jesus’ prophecy.
Though first-century Judaism was not unified in its theological views (e.g., Sadducees vs. Pharisees on the resurrection, Acts 23:7–8), there was a basic pride in their descent from Abraham (cf. Matt. 3:9) and love for her temple (cf. Matt. 26:61; 27:40). In fact, the Disciples show this deep love for the temple when they subtly rebuke Jesus for denouncing (Matt. 23:38) and dramatically leaving (Matt. 24:1a) the temple:
“Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him” (Matt. 24:1).
Olivet Discourse Made Easy (by Ken Gentry)
Verse-by-verse analysis of Christ’s teaching on Jerusalem’s destruction in Matt 24. Shows the great tribulation is past, having occurred in AD 70, and is distinct from the Second Advent at the end of history.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Why did they need to show him the temple? He knew it well. He could see its majesty! And yet he will be speaking about its destruction. And because of this, the Disciples are confused about his prophecy.
My study will be tracing their frequent confusion throughout Matthew’s Gospel. This will serve as the backdrop and explanation for their confused question in Matthew 24:3. In my next study, I will begin directly engaging the evidence from Matthew regarding their continual confusion regarding Jesus’ teaching. Hang on!
JESUS, MATTHEW, AND OLIVET
I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.
If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!