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of Rome, that the most violent agitations prevailed in the Roman empire previous to the destruction of Jerusalem. Four emperors, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellus, suffered violent deaths in the short space of eighteen months. Parties were formed; and bloody and violent wars were the consequence of attachment to the particular emperors. This is the more remarkable, as at the time that the prophecy was made, the empire was in a state of peace. mours of wars.'' Wars declared, or threatened, but not carried into execution. Josephus says, that Bardanes, and after him Volageses, declared war against the Jews, but it was not carried into execution. He also says that Vitellus, governor of Syria, declared war against Aretas, king of Arabia, and wished to lead his army through Palestine, but the death of Tiberius prevented ne war.
The end is not yet.' The end of the Jewish economy; the destruction of Jerusalem will not immediately follow.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these ure the beginning of sorrows.
And there shall be famines. There was a famine foretold by Agabus, Acts xi. 23, which is mentioned as having occurred, by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Eusebius; and which was so severe in Jerusalem, Josephus says, that many people perished for want of food. Four times in the reign of Claudius (A. D. 41-54), famines prevailed at Rome, Palestine, and Greece. • Pestilences.' Raging, epidemic diseases. The plague, sweeping off multitudes of people at once. A pestilence is recorded as raging in Babylonia, 4. p. 40; in Italy, A. D. 66. Both of these took place before the destruction of Jerusalem. 'Earthquakes.' Tacitus mentions one in the reign of Claudius, at Rome, and says, that in the reign of Nero, the cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse were overthrown ; and the celebrated Pompeii was overwhelmed, and almost destroyed by an earthquake. The beginning of sorrows.' Far heavier calamities are yet to come before the end.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
To be afflicted.' By persecution, imprisonment, scourging, &c. 'They shall deliver you up to councils.' (Mark.) To the great council, or sanhedrim, for this is the word in the original. Note. Matt. v. 22. This was fulfilled when Peter and John were brought before the council, Acts iv. 5—7. Mark further adds, xiii. 9, that they should be delivered to synagogues, and to prisons, to be beaten, and should be brought before rulers and kings, for his name's sake. All this was remarkably fulfilled. Peter and .ohn were imprisoned, Acts iv. 3; Paul and Silas also, Acts xvi.
24. They were also beaten, xvi. 23. Paul was brought before Gallio, Acts xviii. 12, before Felix, xxiv. 24, and before Agrippa, xxv. 23.
And shall kill you.' That is, shall kill some of you. Stephen was stoned, Acts vii. 59; James was killed by Herod, Acts xii. 2. And in addition to all that the sacred writers have told us, the persecution under Nero took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, in which Peter and Paul were put to death, with many others. Most of the apostles, it is believed, died by persecution.
When they should be delivered up, Jesus told them not to preme. ditate what they should say, for he would give them a mouth and wisdom, which all their adversaries could not gainsay or resist, Luke xxi. 14, 15. The fulfilment of this is recorded in the case of Stephen, Acts vi. 10, and of Paul, who made Felix tremble, Acts xxiv. 25. “Ye shall be hated of all nations. It was judged to be a crime to be a christian. Multitudes for this, and for nothing else, were put to death. • For my name's sake.' On account of attachment to me; or because you bear my name as christians.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
“Many shall be offended.' See note, Matt. v. 29. Many shall stumble, fall, apostatize, from a profession of religion. Many who professed to love me, shall then show that they had no real attachment to me. See 1 John ii. 19. 'Shall betray one another. Those who thus apostatize from prosessed attachment to me, shall betray others who really love me. This they would do to secure their own safety, by revealing the names,
habitations, or places of concealment of others. Shall hate one another.' Not that real christians would do this, but those who had professed to be such, shall then show that they were not, and shall hate one another. Luke adds, that they should be betrayed by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends. They would break through the most tender ties to surrender ehristians to punishment. This, in the persecutions christians, has been often done; and nothing shows more fully, the deep and deadly hatred of the human heart to the gospel.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall
Josephus says, the tyrannical zealots who ruled the city, suborned many false prophets to declare that aid would be given to the people from heaven. This was done to prevent them from attempting to desert, and to inspire confidence in God.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
The effect of all this would be, that the ardour of feeling of
many christians would be lessened. The word' wax' means, to become. It is an old Saxon word, not used now in this sense, except in the bible. The fear of death, and of treason, and the deluding influence of false teachers, would lessen thé zeal of many tiinid and weak professors; perhaps also of many feeble christians.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
He that bears afflictions, persecutions, &c. faithfully; that constantly adheres to his religion, and does not shrink till death, shall be saved, or shall enter heaven. So Luke, xxi. 18, says, there should not a hair of the head perish; that is, they should be saved. A hair of the head, or the smallest part or portion, is a proverbial expression, denoting the certainty and completeness of iheir salvation. Luke, xxi. 19, further adds, ' In your patience possess ye your souls.' That is, keep your souls patient; keep proper possession of patience as your own. It is a part of religion to teach it; and in these trying times, let it not depart from you.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
The evidence that this was done is to be chiefly derived from the New Testament, and there it is clear. Thus Paul declares, that it was preached to every creature under heaven, Col. i. 6, 23; that the faith of the Romans was spoken of throughout the whole world, Rom. i. 8; that he preached in Arabia, Gal. i. 17, and at Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, Rom. xv. 19. We knou also, that he travelled through Asia Minor, Greece, and Crete; that he was in Italy, and probably in Spain and Gaul, Rom. xv. 24–28. At the same time, the other apostles were not idle; and there is full proof that within thirty years after this prophecy was spoken, churches were established in all these regions. • For a witness unto all nations. Hitherto the blessings of revelation had been confined to the Jews. They were the peculiar people of God. His messages had been sent to them only. When, therefore, God sent the gospel to all other people, it was a proof, or a witness unto them, that the peculiar Jewish economy was at an end. ' Then shall the end come.' The end of the Jewish economy. The destruction of the temple and city.
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand :)
• The abomination of desolation. This is a Hebrew expression, meaning an abominable or hateful destroyer. The Gentiles were all held in abomination by the Jews Acts x. 28. The abon mination of desolation, means the Roman army; and is so explained by Luke, xxi. 20. Spoken of by Daniel the prophet.? Dan. ix. 26, 27; xi, 31; xii. 11. Standing in the holy place.' Mark says, standing where it ought not, meaning the same thing, All Jerusalem was esteemed holy, Matt. iv. 5. The meaning of this is, when you see the Roman armies standing in the holy city, or encamped around the temple, or the Roman ensigns or standards in the temple. Josephus further relates, that when the city was taken, the Romans brought their idols into the temple, and placed them over the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there. Whoso readeth,' &c.
to be a remark made by the evangelist, to direct the attention of the reader particularly to the meaning of the prophecy by Daniel ; but Doddridge thinks it the observation of Christ.
16 Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains :
Then christians may know that the end is come, and should seek a place of safety. Destruction would not only visit the city, but would extend to the surrounding part of Judea." The mountains. The mountains of Palestine abound in caves, a safe retreat for those pursued. In all ages these caves were the favourite places of robbers; and were also resorted to by those in danger, 1 Sam. xiii. 6; xxii. 1. 2 Sam. xxiii. 13. Josh, x, 16. In those mountains they would be safe.
17 Let him which is on the house-top not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
The roofs of the houses in eastern countries were made flat, so that they were convenient places for walking and retirement, and most commonly the stairs were so placed that persons could descend from the house-tops to the streets, without going into the house. See note, Matt. ix, 1-8. The meaning here is, that he who should be on the house-top when this calamity came upon the city, should flee without delay; he should not even take time to secure any article of apparel from his house. Clothes' here means the outer garment, commonly laid aside when men worked
See note, Matt. v. 40. These directions were followed. It is said that the christians, warned by these predictions, fled from the city to Pella, and other places beyond Jordan; so that there is not evidence that a single christian perished in Jerusalem.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter neither on the sabbath day :
The destruction was certainly coming. It could not be prevented. Yet it was right to pray for a mitigation of the circumstances; that it might be as mild as possible. 'In the winter.' On account of the cold, storms, &c. To be turned then from home, and compelled to take up an abode in caverns, would be a double calamity. Neither on the sabbath-day.' Journies were prohibited by the law on the sabbath, Ex. xvi. 29. The law of Moses did not mention the distance to which persons might go on the sabbath ; but most of the Jews maintained that it should not be more than two thousand cubits, or nearly a mile. This distance was allowed, in order that they might go to their places of worship. Jesus teaches them to pray that it might not be on the sabbath, because if they should not go further than a sabbath day's journey, they would not be beyond the reach of danger; and if they did, they would be exposed to the charge of violating the law. It should be added, that it was almost impracticable to travel in Judea on that day, as the gates of the cities were usually closed, Nch. xii, 19–22.
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
The word' tribulation' means calamity, or suffering. Luke, xxi. 24, has specified in what this tribulation should consist. They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive . into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled.' That is, until the time allotted for the Gentiles to do it shall be fully accomplished.
The first thing mentioned by Luke is, that they should fall by the edge of the sword. That is, should be slain in war, as the sword was then principally used in war. This was most strikingly fulfilled. Josephus uses almost the very words of our Saviour. All the calamities,' says he, ' which had befallen any nation from the beginning of the world, were but small in comparison with those of the Jews.'
He has given the following account of one part of the massacre when the city was taken. . And now rushing into the city, they slew whomsoever they found, without distinction, and burnt the houses and all the people who had fled into them. The whole city ran with blood, insomuch that many things which were burning were extinguished by the blood.' He adds, that in the siege of Jerusalem, not fewer than eleven hundred thousand perished. In the adjacent provinces no fewer than two hundred and fifty thousand are reckoned to have been slain ; making in all, the almost incredible number of one million three hundred and fifty thousand, who were put to death. These were not indeed