The Abomination of Desolation

Matthew 24:15-22


From Exegetical Commentary on Matthew, 2006, AMG Publishers

[15] The word "therefore" (on [3767]) connects "the end (télos [5056], terminal point)" in verse 14 with the event being introduced here. "When" (the Greek conjunction htan [3752]), focuses on a specific event within the nation of Israel, which will be miraculously preserved. The appearance of the abomination of desolation is connected with the worldwide preaching of the gospel of the kingdom at "the end."

This is the closest Jesus gets to answering the disciple's question of when in verse 3. However, the "when" is eclipsed by a "what", that is, some physical object called an "abomination of desolation" is given in place of a date. There will be a day and hour when this profane, sacrilegious idol will be erected, but the disciples were to deduce the time from the sign, not the sign from the times.

Once in this discourse, htan is qualified only by anticipatory waiting (prosdokō [4328]; v. 50). In three other instances, the expectation of "then" is connected with signs that are empirically observed (here the abomination of desolation, in v. 32 the branch putting forth leaves as summer approaches, and in v. 33 "all these things"). In looking at the magnificent temple, Jesus had said (v. 2) that one stone would not be left on another, but the entire structure would be "thrown down" or destroyed (from katalō [2647]). 

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