The Destruction of the Temple Foretold, part 2
And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?" And Jesus began to say to them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places, there will be famines; this is but the beginning of the sufferings.
Bede - Because the Lord, when some were praising the buildings of the temple, had plainly answered that all these were to be destroyed, the disciples privately enquired about the time and the signs of the destruction which was foretold.
Wherefore it is said: "And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?"
The Lord sits upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, when He discourses upon the ruin and destruction of the temple, so that even His bodily position may be in accordance with the words which He speaks, pointing out mystically that, abiding in peace with the saints, He hates the madness of the proud. For the mount of Olives marks the fruitful sublimity of the Holy Church.
Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 9 - In answer to the disciples, the Lord tells them of things which were from that time forth to have their course; whether He meant the destruction of Jerusalem which occasioned their question, or His own coming through the Church, (in which He ever comes even unto the end, for we know that He comes in His own, when His members are born day by day,) or the end itself, in which He will appear to judge the quick and the dead.
Theophylact - But before answering their question, He strengthens their minds that they may not be deceived.
Wherefore there follows: "And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you?"
And this He says, because when the sufferings of the Jews began, some arose professing to be teachers.
Wherefore there follows: "For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
Bede - For many came forward, when destruction was hanging over Jerusalem, saying that they were Christs, and that the time of freedom was now approaching. Many teachers of heresy also arose in the Church even in the time of the Apostles; and many Antichrists came in the name of Christ, the first of whom was Simon Magus, to whom the Samaritans, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, listened, saying, "This man is the great power of God." [Acts 8:10] Wherefore also it is added here, "And shall deceive many."
Now from the time of the Passion of our Lord there ceased not amongst the Jewish people, who chose the seditious robber and rejected Christ the Saviour, either external wars or civil discord.
Wherefore it goes on: "And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled." And when these come, the Apostles are warned not to be afraid, or to leave Jerusalem and Judaea, because the end was not to come at once, nay was to be put off for forty years. And this is what is added: "for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet," that is, the desolation of the province, and the last destruction of the city and temple.
It goes on: "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom."
Theophylact - That is, the Romans against the Jews, which Josephus relates happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. For when the Jews refused to pay tribute, the Romans arose, in anger; but because at that time they were merciful, they took indeed their spoils, but did not destroy Jerusalem. What follows shews that God fought against the Jews, for it is said, "And there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines."
Bede - Now it is on record that this literally took place at the time of the Jewish rebellion. But "kingdom against kingdom," the pestilence of those whose word spreads as a canker, dearth of the word of God, the commotion of the whole earth, and the separation from the true faith, may all rather be understood of heretics who, by fighting one against the other, bring about the triumph of the Church.
- text taken from by Saint Thomas Aquinas, translated by William Whiston, 1842