The Olivet Discourse: 02 – The Destruction of the Temple Foretold

Continuing from the previous post, there are things to keep in mind. The first is the perspective of the author and the ideas he chooses to convey. Here is the foundation text beginning with the account in Matthew.

Matthew 24:1–2 (MEV) Jesus departed from the temple and was leaving when His disciples came to show Him the temple buildings.
Jesus answered them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

As Matthew starts, he relates the impetus for the conversation, the temple is mentioned, but no attention is given to describing it. The group was leaving the temple, and the disciples wanted to show Him the buildings. Imagine the change in the conversation. One moment it was about the temple; The next, destruction is foretold. This conversation was probably still in public, as the group had not yet come to the Mount of Olives. There may have been others privy to this part of the conversation.

Let’s examine the other synoptic accounts.

Mark 13:1–2 (MEV) As He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what great stones and what great buildings are here.”
Jesus answered him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

Already one can discern some differences. Mark doesn’t just relate the gist of the conversation. He relates what is said. That is, the action that is occurring. We also see the usage of the title Teacher.

Look at the mention of the great stones. Though the temple wasn’t yet complete, the stones they were looking at were 10 to 12 feet long. It was Herod’s goal for the temple mount to be a massive 1600 by 900 feet edifice soaring to nine stories in height. The walls were to be up to 16 feet thick. All this still wouldn’t match the glory of Solomon’s temple, had it been finished. Its destiny was to be toppled.

We come to Luke.

Luke 21:5–6 (MEV) As some spoke of how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts, He said, “As for these things which you see, the days will come when not one stone shall be left on another that will not be thrown down.”

Like Matthew, Luke relates the impetus of the conversation. He too, points out the stones. He also mentions the gifts. These are the decorative items donated by others to adorn the temple. Herod gave a golden vine which had bunches of grapes that were as tall as a human.

All three accounts, though differing, are conveying the same basic information. The temple’s beauty would come to be ruined.

The stylistic differences also become apparent in how the content is conveyed. Matthew draws attention to the temple building as if the reader is already familiar with it. Mark’s style is about title and action. He gives a bit of detail, perhaps as his audience may need help to understand how great the stones, as if such are unfamiliar with it. Luke points to the ornate decorations and gifts. It’s a bit of humanity, and the artistry is of great interest to a Greek.

This is also a perfect example on what not to see. The disciples were concerned with the outward beauty of the temple. Absent from the conversation is what went on inside it. The temple was certainly the focal point of life in Jerusalem at the time. It’s beauty was certainly something to admire.

Considering the words here, perhaps there is an underlying message to keep a light touch on the things of this world, as they will fade away. Perhaps to keep what is inside of the temple kosher instead of fixating on the outward appearances.

One thought on “The Olivet Discourse: 02 – The Destruction of the Temple Foretold

  1. Pingback: Matthew 24 about temples or Houses of God and the end of the age | Belgian Biblestudents - Belgische Bijbelstudenten

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