In the last days of Jesus’
ministry on earth, He focused on preparing His disciples for the things to
come. Watch for the signs, He said. There would be tribulation and false christs
and false prophets. Jesus promised that He would come again. A servant of God
must remain faithful until that day.
“When you see these things happening, know that
it is near—at the doors! Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the
time is” (13:29, 33).
Did You Know…?
Temple (13:1): The temple, which was part of
Herod the Great’s reconstruction of Jerusalem, was an architectural wonder. A
huge platform was erected over the sharp drop of the terrain to enlarge the
grounds to 330 by 500 yards. It was supported by a retaining wall made of
massive stones. On the platform stood the temple building, porches, and
courtyards flanked by beautiful colonnades. The temple itself, which was not
fully completed until A.D. 64, was built with large white polished stones (some
were 37 feet [14 m] long, 12 feet [5 m] high, and 18 feet [7 m] wide) and was
generously decorated with gold.
“Not one stone shall be left upon another”
(13:2): Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled literally in A.D. 70, when Titus
completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple buildings. Stones were pried
apart to salvage the gold that had melted when the temple was set on fire.
Mount of Olives (13:3): A mountain range
directly east of Jerusalem, running north to south. In Jesus’ time, it was rich
in olives; but later was stripped bare of trees. The tallest mountain rose to
about 2,700 feet (1040 m), providing an impressive view of the city and the
Sorrow (13:8): The NIV translates this as “birth
pains,” which is a frequent analogy of the day when the Lord shows His power
and exercises His justice (cf. 1Thess 5:1-3; Isa 13:6-11; Rev 12:1–2).
Councils (13:9): The Jewish court system
consisted of the Sanhedrin (the highest court) and the lesser courts, of which
there were two in Jerusalem and one in each town of Palestine.4/258
Each court, which was made up of Jewish elders, was granted legal and religious
authority to judge local matters.
“Beaten in the synagogues” (13:9): Synagogues
were used not only for worship and teaching, but also for confinement before
trial. Sometimes the Jews flogged the prisoner up to 40 times.9/571
Jesus, however, endured a more severe flogging at the hand of the Romans (cf.
Lesson 23, Did You Know 8).
“Abomination of desolation” (13:14): Jesus
was referring to Daniel’s prophecy (Mt 24:15) that the temple would be
desecrated (Dan 9:27; 12:11). This was fulfilled when the temple was destroyed
in A.D. 70. It may also point to the rise of the antichrist in the future (cf.
Mk 13:5,6; 1Jn 2:18,4:3).
Housetop/Roof (13:15): People often relaxed on
the flat roofs, where it was pleasant and cool (cf. Lesson 4, Did You Know 1).
Clothes/Cloak (13:16): An outer garment that
protected against cold night air. Jesus’ warning in this verse echoes His
command to the twelve disciples (cf. Mk 6:9).
Four winds (13:27): Refers to the boundaries of
the physical world, most often in the context of describing the Lord’s mighty
works (cf. Ezek 37:9; Dan 11:4; Zech 2:6; Rev 7:1).
do you stay on top of current events? How does the knowledge benefit your
should be the correct attitude in interpreting the signs of the last days?
1. What were the disciples’ two
questions (4)? To them, which was the more important question? In what order
did Jesus answer their questions? To Jesus, which was the more important
2. Ask a mother about
experiencing birth pains. Why did Jesus compare the signs to birth pains (8,
3. List the sequence of signs
recorded in verses 5-23. For each sign, if it has already taken place or is
taking place, how? If not, how will it?
4. Explain verse 12. Why will
family members betray each other?
5. What are we the readers
supposed to understand about the “abomination of desolation” (14)?
6a. How does the description in
14-17 add to the impact of Jesus’ warning?
6b. What does “flee to the
mountains” mean (14)?
7. How do we prepare ourselves
for the coming tribulation?
8a. Give examples of false
christs and false prophets.
8b. How do false christs and
false prophets deceive?
8c. How do we guard against false
christs and false prophets?
9. List the signs of the Lord’s
Second Coming recorded in verses 24–27.
When will Jesus come again?
10b. Why will Jesus come again?
11. What do you feel when you
think about the Lord’s Second Coming? Why?
12. In light of the fact that the
world will end, what are your plans and objectives?
13. Who is “this generation”
14a. How many times did Jesus
mention that no one knows when the time will come?
14b. Why didn’t Jesus (“the Son”)
know the day or hour (32)?
14c. Why doesn’t God reveal the
time to us? What is the danger of trying to pinpoint the exact time of the end
of the world?
15. How is the fig tree growing
leaves in summer a lesson?
16. Why did Jesus stress that His
words will never pass away (31)?
17. What does each of the
following in the parable (34-36) represent?
17a. Owner of the house (Mk 12:1;
17b. House (1Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19;
17c. Servants (1Pet 2:16; 2Cor
17d. Doorkeeper (Ezek 33:6; Jer
6:17; Jn 10:3)
18. Explain this parable.
19. Compare the parable in 34-36
to the three parables in Mt 25:1-13, 45-51, and 25:14-30.