Matthew 24:3

As he sat (kaqhmenou). Genitive absolute. Picture of Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives looking down on Jerusalem and the temple which he had just left. After the climb up the mountain four of the disciples (Peter, James, John, Andrew) come to Jesus with the problem raised by his solemn words. They ask these questions about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, his own second coming (parousia, presence, common in the papyri for the visit of the emperor), and the end of the world. Did they think that they were all to take place simultaneously? There is no way to answer. At any rate Jesus treats all three in this great eschatological discourse, the most difficult problem in the Synoptic Gospels. Many theories are advanced that impugn the knowledge of Jesus or of the writers or of both. It is sufficient for our purpose to think of Jesus as using the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem which did happen in that generation in A.D. 70, as also a symbol of his own second coming and of the end of the world (sunteleia tou aiwno) or consummation of the age. In a painting the artist by skilful perspective may give on the same surface the inside of a room, the fields outside the window, and the sky far beyond. Certainly in this discourse Jesus blends in apocalyptic language the background of his death on the cross, the coming destruction of Jerusalem, his own second coming and the end of the world. He now touches one, now the other. It is not easy for us to separate clearly the various items. It is enough if we get the picture as a whole as it is here drawn with its lessons of warning to be ready for his coming and the end. The destruction of Jerusalem came as he foretold. There are some who would date the Synoptic Gospels after A.D. 70 in order to avoid the predictive element involved in the earlier date. But that is to limit the fore-knowledge of Jesus to a merely human basis. The word parousia occurs in this chapter alone ( John 3 27 37 39 ) in the Gospels, but often in the Epistles, either of presence as opposed to absence ( Philippians 2:12 ) or the second coming of Christ ( 2 Thessalonians 2:1 ).