1 As Jesus left the Temple, His disciples approached Him as He was walking along the road and pointed out the Temple buildings. 2 He responded to them by saying, "Do you see all these structures? Truly I tell you, there will not be one stone left on another here that will not be thrown down."
3 And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, His disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things [you just spoke of] happen? And what will be the sign that indicates your presence and the end of the [present] age?"
4 And Jesus answered them, "Pay attention so that no one leads you astray [from the truth]. 5 For many [false teachers] will come, claiming to be me, and saying, 'I am the Christ [i.e., God's specially chosen one]' and they will lead many people away [from the truth]. 6 And you will hear of wars [going on] and rumors of [other] wars [pending]. Do not worry, for such things must necessarily happen. But the end has not yet come. [Note: By "the end" here Jesus probably alludes to the downfall of Jerusalem, in AD 70, with its attending destruction of the Temple buildings]. 7 For nations will wage war against one another, and kingdoms will attack one another. And famines and earthquakes will occur at various places [in the world]. 8 But all these things are [only] the beginning of terrible times.
9 At that time people will turn you over [to the authorities] for persecution and will [even] kill you. And people from all countries will hate you for being loyal to me. 10 And then many people will fall away [from God] and they will turn one another over [i.e., to the authorities for punishment], and they will hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will lead many people away [from the truth]. 12 And because sin will abound, many people will grow cold in their love [for one another]. 13 But the person who holds out [i.e., remains faithful to God] until the end [i.e., of this time of severe persecution] will be saved [from destruction]. 14 And this good news concerning the kingdom [of heaven] will be preached to people throughout the world as a testimony [of God's message] to all nations. Then, [after that] the end [i.e., of Jerusalem, the Temple, etc.] will come.
15 "Therefore, when you see that disgusting thing which causes total destruction [i.e., the Roman armies. See Luke 21:20], which Daniel the prophet spoke about [Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11], standing in the sacred place [i.e., Jerusalem and especially the Temple area], (let the reader understand [what is meant by this]), 16 then those [of you] in Judea are to run away into the [nearby] mountains. 17 [Also], the person who is on a housetop [Note: This was a flat area where people retired for rest, prayer, etc., with its stairway on the outside], is not to take any of the belongings from his house as he comes down [to flee]. 18 The person who is in a field [i.e., doing farm work] is not [even] to return [to his house] to get his coat. 19 It will be too bad for those who are pregnant and who are nursing babies in those days. 20 And pray that it will not be in the winter or on a Sabbath day when you will have to flee [from the city]. [Note: Jewish Sabbath day restrictions on travel (only three-fifths of a mile) and city gate closures would make leaving the city nearly impossible]. 21 There will be great trouble [during these times], such as had never been from the beginning of time up to the present, or ever will be [in the days to come]. 22 And if those days had not been as short as they were no one would have been saved [i.e., from the devastating destruction]. But for the sake of the elect [i.e., God's people], those days will be short.
23 Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is Christ,' or 'There [he is],' do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and they will perform great [miraculous] signs and [supernatural] wonders in order to lead astray even the elect [i.e., God's people], if possible. 25 You see, I have told you [all this] ahead of time. 26 Therefore, if people say to you, 'Look, he [i.e., Christ. See verse 23] is in the desert,' do not go out there. [Or if they say], 'Look, he is in an inside room,' do not believe him. 27 For just like lightning that appears in the east can be seen even in the west, so it will be with the presence [i.e., coming] of the Son of man. 28 Wherever there is a dead body, [you can expect to see] vultures gathered there. [Note: This may mean that such a significant event as the coming of Christ would surely not go unnoticed].
29 "But immediately after the terrible trouble of those days, [i.e., the next major event on God's calendar], the sun will become dark, and [therefore] the moon will not [be able to] shed its [reflected] light. The stars will fall from the sky and the forces of the heavens will be shaken [Note: From the description of these same events in Luke 21:25-26, it is possible that this is figurative language for great calamities happening on the earth].
30 Then the sign [i.e., signifying the coming] of the Son of man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will be stricken with grief as they see the Son of man coming in the clouds of the sky [See Acts 1:9-11] with power and great splendor. 31 And He will send out His angels [i.e., as messengers] with the sound of a great trumpet [See I Thess. 4:16] to gather His elect [i.e., God's people] from all directions, [even] from throughout the whole world. [Note: See Mark 13:27, which suggests this thought by its use of 'earth' and 'sky']
32 "Now learn this parable [i.e., a brief analogy to illustrate a lesson] from the fig tree: When its tender sprouts appear and its leaves begin to develop, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way also, when you see all these things happening, you [should] know that He [i.e., Jesus] is as near as your [front] door. 34 Truly I tell you, the people of this generation will not [all] die off before all these things [i.e., mentioned above] happen. 35 [Although] the sky and the earth will pass away [See II Pet. 3:10], my words will not pass away [i.e., they will certainly come true].
36 "But no one knows when that day or hour will come. Not even the angels in heaven or the Son [of God] know [when it will happen], but only the Father [does]. 37 As it was during the days of Noah, so it will be when the presence of the Son of man [arrives]. 38 For in those days before the Flood, people were eating and drinking [i.e., partaking of ordinary meals], men were getting married and women were being given away in marriage [right up] until the day Noah entered the ship. 39 And the people [i.e., of Noah's day] did not know [when it would happen] until the Flood came and swept them all away. It will be the same way when the presence of the Son of man [arrives]. 40 At that time there will be two men [working] in a field; one will be taken [i.e., to be with the Lord. See I Thess. 4:17], while the other one will be left [i.e., to be punished by the Lord. See II Thess. 1:7-9]. 41 Two women will be grinding grain at a millstone [Note: This was a hand-operated device where two persons sat across from each other and rotated a circular stone over kernels of grain]; one will be taken, while the other one will be left. 42 Therefore be alert, for you do not know on what day the Lord will come. 43 But you should know this: if the owner of a house had known when a thief was coming, he would have been watching so as not to allow his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore, you also should be ready, for the Son of man will come at a time when you least expect Him.
45 "Who then, is the trustworthy and sensible slave, to whom his master has assigned the management of his household to provide timely meals for its members? 46 That slave will be happy when his master returns to find him doing his job [well]. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put that slave in charge of his entire estate. 48 But if that slave, with evil intent, should think to himself, 'My master will not be back very soon,' 49 and then becomes physically abusive to his fellow-slaves, and eats and drinks [at parties] with drunkards, 50 that slave's master will return on a day that he least expects, and at an unknown hour. 51 And [that master] will whip him to shreds and will turn him over to suffer the same fate as hypocrites do. That fate will involve crying and excruciating pain."