He sat upon the Mount of Olives - See the notes at Matthew 21:1. From that mount there was a magnificent view of the whole city.
The disciples came unto him privately - Not all of them, but Peter, James, John, and Andrew, Mark 13:3. The prediction that the temple would be destroyed Matthew 24:2 had been made in the presence of all the apostles. A “part” now came privately to know more particularly when this would be.
When shall these things be? - There are three questions here:
1.when those things should take place
2.what should be the signs of his own coming
3.what should be the signs that the end of the world was near
To these questions He replies in this and the following chapters. This He does, not by noticing them distinctly, but by intermingling the descriptions of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the end of the world, so that it is sometimes difficult to tell to what particular subject his remarks apply. The principle on which this combined description of two events was spoken appears to be, that “they could be described in the same words,” and therefore the accounts are intermingled. A similar use of language is found in some parts of Isaiah, where the same language will describe the return from the Babylonian captivity, and deliverance by the Messiah. See Introduction to Isaiah, section 7.
Sign of thy coming - Evidence that thou art coming. By what token shall we know that thou art coming?
Tell us, when shall these things be? - There appear to be three questions asked here by the disciples.
2dly. What shall be the sign of thy coming? viz. to execute these judgments upon them, and to establish thy own Church: and
But there are some who maintain that these are but three parts of the same question, and that our Lord's answers only refer to the destruction of the Jewish state, and that nothing is spoken here concerning the Last or judgment day.
End of the world - Του αιωνος ; or, of the age, viz. the Jewish economy, which is a frequent accommodated meaning of the word Αιων, the proper meaning of which is, as Aristotle (De Caelo) observes, Eternal. Αιων, quasi αει ων continual being: and no words can more forcibly point out eternity than these. See the note on Genesis 21:33.
Paul speaks of a class to whom the Lord's appearing will come unawares. “The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, ... and they shall not escape.” But he adds, to those who have given heed to the Saviour's warning: “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-5. GC 371.1
Thus it was shown that Scripture gives no warrant for men to remain in ignorance concerning the nearness of Christ's coming. But those who desired only an excuse to reject the truth closed their ears to this explanation, and the words “No man knoweth the day nor the hour” continued to be echoed by the bold scoffer and even by the professed minister of Christ. As the people were roused, and began to inquire the way of salvation, religious teachers stepped in between them and the truth, seeking to quiet their fears by falsely interpreting the word of God. Unfaithful watchmen united in the work of the great deceiver, crying, Peace, peace, when God had not spoken peace. Like the Pharisees in Christ's day, many refused to enter the kingdom of heaven themselves, and those who were entering in they hindered. The blood of these souls will be required at their hand. GC 372.1
The most humble and devoted in the churches were usually the first to receive the message. Those who studied the Bible for themselves could not but see the unscriptural character of the popular views of prophecy; and wherever the people were not controlled by the influence of the clergy, wherever they would search the word of God for themselves, the advent doctrine needed only to be compared with the Scriptures to establish its divine authority. GC 372.2Read in context »
When Christ shall come the second time, the whole world will be represented by two classes, the just and the unjust, the righteous and the unrighteous. Preceding the great sign of the coming of the Son of man, there will be signs and wonders in the heavens.... 3SM 391.1Read in context »
It is impossible for man to present his body a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, while, because it is customary for the world to do so, he is indulging in habits that are lessening physical, mental, and moral vigor. The apostle adds: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Jesus, seated upon the Mount of Olives, gave instruction to His disciples concerning the signs which should precede His coming. He said: “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” 3T 163.1
The same sins exist in our day which brought the wrath of God upon the world in the days of Noah. Men and women now carry their eating and drinking to gluttony and drunkenness. This prevailing sin, the indulgence of perverted appetite, inflamed the passions of men in the days of Noah and led to general corruption, until their violence and crimes reached to heaven, and God washed the earth of its moral pollution by a flood. 3T 163.2
The same sins of gluttony and drunkenness benumbed the moral sensibilities of the inhabitants of Sodom so that crimes seemed to be the delight of the men and women of that wicked city. Christ thus warns the world: “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” 3T 163.3Read in context »
Jesus, who gave His life to save men, has given us a warning as to what shall come to pass in the last days. The disciples came to Him privately to ask Him concerning the end of the world, and Jesus said: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4, 5).—Signs of the Times, June 4, 1894. TDG 164.4Read in context »