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Matthew 24 church fathers
« on: December 25, 2018, 06:16:47 pm »
24:1–14 Jesus Speaks of the Destruction of the Temple, of Troubles and Persecutions
Overview: Everyone who receives the Word of God is a temple. Every sin damages the temple, yet complete departure from God destroys it. Moreover, Jesus meant replacement of the material building of the temple with the unsurpassed mystical temple of Scripture, composed of the inspired words and phrases (Origen). Jesus meant the temple to be destroyed after his crucifixion, not in the consummation of the age (Cyril of Alexandria). In accordance with Jesus’ prediction, the Jewish temple stood while Christ and the kingdom of God dwelt among the Jews. When they departed from the Jews to the Gentiles, the temple collapsed (Origen). The temple of Jerusalem was to be destroyed, since the more beautiful and eternal temple, which is every practicing Christian, was being consecrated by the Holy Spirit (Hilary of Poitiers). The olives that were planted on the Mount of Olives are the Christian churches, which are taken care of by the farmer, the Word of God. It is this farmer who grafts branches of a wild tree, the Gentiles, into the good tree of the righteous (Origen). The disciples asked about the end of the world for our benefit so that we would know the signs of the coming end and would expect it eagerly. These signs, however, are to be interpreted not literally and chronologically but spiritually (Incomplete Work on Matthew). Jesus foretold the coming wars to strengthen his disciples (Chrysostom). Interpreted in a moral sense, this passage refers to the spiritual struggle and afflictions of anyone who is about to see the Word of God coming into their soul (Origen). Even the most grievous cooling down of love will not harm the noble and the firm (Chrysostom). The preaching of the gospel in the whole world is almost accomplished, so no one has the excuse of not knowing it (Jerome). Before the end of the world the church will be seduced by diverse heresies (Incomplete Work on Matthew).

24:1 The Buildings of the Temple

You Are a Temple.

Origen: Everyone who receives the Word of God into himself is a temple. Everyone who does not completely fall away from God after sinning but retains some vestiges of faith and devotion to the commandments of God remains a temple, albeit partially destroyed. Whoever fails to take care of his soul after he sins, however, but continues to walk away from the faith and from the life of the gospel is progressively alienated until he has fully departed from the living God. Then he will be a temple in which “there will not be left one stone” of the teaching of the commandments of God “upon another that will not be destroyed.” …
The temple of God was a building composed of distinct words, every Scripture from the Old Testament plainly having been constructed according to the historical sense. By their arrangement of words and phrases, Moses and the prophets built it in such a way that the beauty of the stones, that is, the meaning of their carefully chosen sayings, would command the admiration and praise of everyone. When the disciples of Jesus attempted to direct his attention to the structure of the temple, he responded by saying that this first, merely physical building must be destroyed by the Word so that another, more divine, more mystical temple might be constructed in its place. That other temple is the Scripture, as has already been demonstrated. Commentary on Matthew 30–31.

You See These Buildings.

Cyril of Alexandria: Some were pointing out to Christ the magnificent things in the temple and how it was adorned by the gifts that had been dedicated to God. For they supposed that Jesus would admire with them all there was to see, although being God he has heaven as his throne! He does offer a teaching concerning them, but he had already predicted that according to the times the temple would utterly fall. The Roman army is being gathered for this very thing, demanding the surrender of Israel itself as all Jerusalem suffers the punishment of the slaying of the Lord. For let me tell you, it came to pass that they suffered these things after the crucifixion of the Savior. But they did not understand the meaning of Jesus’ teachings. They supposed his teachings concerned the consummation of the age. Fragment 266.

24:2 One Stone Not Left on Another

The Kingdom Will Be Taken from You.

Origen: After Christ predicted everything that was about to happen to Jerusalem, he who had preserved the temple left it, lest it collapse while he was still in it. The temple stood safe and secure as long as the Word and the kingdom of God were with the Jews, as did all things Jewish. Subsequently, however, the kingdom of God was taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles, as it is written, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to the nations who produce its fruit.” Both Jesus and the kingdom of God were then established among the Gentiles. Therefore neither Jesus nor the kingdom of God is to be found among the Jews, because they were abandoned “like a booth in a vineyard and like a hut in a cucumber field and like a city besieged,” on account of the crime they committed against Christ. Commentary on Matthew 29.

Not One Stone upon Another.

Hilary of Poitiers: The magnificent splendor of the temple’s design was shown to Christ immediately after he had warned of Jerusalem’s desolation, as though to move him. Yet he said that everything had to be destroyed and the scattered stones of its entire foundation demolished, for an eternal temple was being consecrated as a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. This eternal temple is the man who is made worthy of becoming God’s habitation through knowledge of the Son, confession of the Father and obedience to the commandments. On Matthew 25.1.

24:3 What Will Be the Sign of Your Coming?

He Sat on the Mount of Olives.

Origen: I regard the allegory of the Mount of Olives to refer to the churches of the Gentiles, among whom olive trees were planted. Each church is able to say, “I am like a fruitful olive tree in the house of God.” Perhaps also in this Mount of Olives, where the roots of good olive trees live, branches of a wild olive tree were grafted into the good tree in the place of those branches which had been “broken off for their unbelief.” The farmer residing on the Mount of Olives is the Word of God as professed in the church, which is Christ, who continually grafts wild olive branches into the good tree of our father Moses and the other prophets, so that having been strengthened by the holy prophets (whose prophecies they understood to refer to Christ), these new branches might offer more abundant, richer fruit than the first olive branches, which had been cut off and made useless on account of the curse which was in the law. Commentary on Matthew 32.

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