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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. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:3–5)


Jesus had just prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. His disciples were somewhat perplexed as it seemed to them that the temple was indestructible.

Verse 3 tells us that they found a place to sit down. It had been an exhausting day for Jesus in Jerusalem. Even though He was only 33 years old, the stress of dealing with the people and the opposition from the religious leaders undoubtedly had worn Him out. The grief He felt as He left the city that day added to His weariness as He walked the road up the mountain. So, He sat down to rest before He continued His journey to Bethany to spend the night with His friends.

As He sat there, some of His disciples came to Him to ask Him to clarify what He had just told them about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Mark identifies the disciples as Peter, James, John, and Andrew. It so happens that these four men had been disciples of John the Baptist and they were the very first men to follow Jesus.

They asked Him two questions. Matthew, Mark, and Luke relate this first question in almost the exact same words: “Tell us when will these things be?” The second question is about a sign, but the three writers have different renderings of this question.

Matthew records the question as “And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Mark has “And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”

Luke phrases the question as “And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”

It is clear in all three writers that the question concerned a sign. The question as related by Mark and Luke are quite similar. Mark phrases the question something that is to be fulfilled and Luke phrases the question in a context of something about to happen. Neither Mark nor Luke was actually present to hear the question, but Matthew was and his rendering of the question speaks of the sign of Jesus’ coming and the end of the age. Some commentators understand the question to be two questions, not one; the first being the sign of Jesus’ coming and the second being the sign of the end of the age. Matthew’s rendering is actually one question, which contains the essence of the question as recorded in both Mark and Luke.

Matthew’s version looks forward to the second coming of Christ and the end of the age, or as some versions of the Bible have, the end of the world. Mark and Luke phrase the question in the sense of what Jesus had just said about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Luke’s rendering makes the meaning of the question obvious: “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”

Do we really have contradictions with the similar questions of Mark and Luke, and the question as given by Matthew? In reality, they are asking the same question and there is no contradiction. The disciples were of the opinion that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple would result in the end of the age, the end of the world. Jesus confirms this opinion in verse 14 of Matthew where He says, “then the end will come,” and in Mark verse 13, “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” The early church that followed the time of the Apostles anticipated the soon return of Christ, which was undoubtedly inspired by the Apostles’ teaching following this discourse and as they went out spreading the gospel and the kingdom of God. Jesus addresses their questions in an eschatological sense in His following comments.




It is not unreasonable to say that the ministry of Jesus through His death and resurrection, and the destruction of Jerusalem that followed it, should be considered the end of the age, or the end of time. First of all, it was the closing of the Old Testament dispensation, or the age of the Law of Moses, and the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, or the age of the gospel and the church. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple marked the end of Israel as a separate and distinct nation dedicated to God. They were the covenant people descended from Abraham, but the atonement in Christ and the gospel that results from it put an end to that relationship.

The new covenant in Christ made it possible for all people to become the children of Abraham through faith and the new birth. Consider these texts:


Jesus says to the Jews at John’s baptism: . . . and do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. (Matthew 3:9)


Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (Galatian 3:7; KJV has children of Abraham; the NKJV has sons of Abraham.)


Clearly we see that the literal descendants of Abraham are no longer his spiritual children and the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12 no longer applies to them in the present. While the first covenant has ceased, we should still respect the Jews as it was through them God revealed Himself and brought Christ into the world. But, in Christ the family got much larger. It is wonderful that the Gentiles can become the children of Abraham; and, thank God, it is possible for the Jews to accept the gospel and be born into the spiritual family of Abraham, making them one with all the church in the kingdom of God.

At the Last Supper, Jesus transferred the covenant to those who receive the benefit of His shed blood, the new covenant.


For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28)


Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 9:24–26)


The writer of Hebrews tells us the death and resurrection of Jesus as signified by the expression “the blood of sprinkling” marks the end of the world, or the end of the ages. He specifically mentions this in the following, which the Apostle Peter also confirms.


For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:24–26)


You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18–20)


The end of the world, the end of the ages, the end of times simply mean that there is no more time after the gospel and the church age. There is no time for a millennial reign of Christ on the earth after the end of times.




Jesus listened to Peter, James, John, and Andrew as they asked their questions. They wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed and what the sign is for the end of the age. You will notice that Matthew is the only one to record the part of the question having to do with the coming of Christ. Observe the answer Jesus gives as recorded in all three gospels; it is recorded verbatim by all three writers.


Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:4–5, Mark 13:5–6, and Luke 21:8)


The fact that Jesus warns of false Christs suggests that Matthew’s account of the second question is more complete than those given by Mark and Luke. This does not devalue their record; it only serves to verify the fact that their accounts were derived independently from Matthew. They did not mention the second coming of Christ, but it is implied in the answer Jesus gave.

It is important to take matters of eschatology seriously as there is ample ground for deception. Whether or not there is a millennium may not be important with regard to salvation if we have put our faith in the atonement in Christ and repented our sins, but differing and contradictory teachings on eschatology can lead people into trains of thought that can eventually jeopardize their salvation.

The first deception of which to be aware according to Jesus was false Christs. This was of immediate concern at the time Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse because after He ascended to heaven, there were several people that proclaimed themselves to be Messiah, aggravating the tense relations between the Jews and the Romans leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d.

Looking forward into the Church Age, the first battle the church fought with false Christs came in the form of heresies. It took several hundred years for the church to define sound doctrine and expose and repudiate heresies. If you have studied these heresies, you know that they still raise their ugly heads from time to time, even in modern times.

Later, false Christs were come to life in the formation of antagonistic organized churches teaching different and contradictory ways of salvation.

We are living in a time when there seems to be more activity from false Christs than ever before in history; and so much of this activity involves prophetic teaching among Christians. It is not my purpose or intent to accuse any particular preacher or teacher of being a false Christ. People can be confused or in error on Christian doctrine, including the doctrine of the end times, and yet be in a right relationship with God. The problem is that, unintentionally, people get distracted by the sensationalism of prophetic teaching and feast on it leaving off much that pertains to deep spirituality and holy living. It would be better for us to feast on the deep things of spirituality and go lightly on matters of prophecy.