COMMUNITY GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Read the text together
- In the Christian calendar what is ‘Advent’ about?
- What is the context of Matthew 24?
- Who is the text addressed to?
- What does the temple represent for the Jews of Jesus day?
- What is the setting for the text (Matthew 24:1-2)?
- How does Matthew 24:1-2 help us interpret our passage?
- How do the passages directly before and after connect with our text?
NOTES TO THE LEADER
The Temple: “The life of Jesus is closely tied to the Temple. Forty days after his birth he was dedicated to God in the Temple (Luke 2:22–38), and his family made routine trips to the Temple for the main Jewish feasts (Luke 2:41–51). Jesus continued these pilgrimages as an adult and presumably took part in the liturgies of Temple worship (John 2:13; 5:1; 7:14; 10:22–23; etc.). Like every Jewish man, he also paid the annual Temple tax (Matt 17:24–27). His reverence for the sanctuary stood out clearest when he saw others profaning the sacredness of the Temple. On one occasion, Jesus burned with righteous zeal at the sight of merchants doing their business in the Temple courtyard (John 2:13–22). He reacted by driving them out and toppling their tables because they had made his “Father’s house” into a “house of trade” (John 2:16). In the Synoptic Gospels, we see Jesus angered that such activities amounted to robbery, and beyond that, they made it all but impossible for pilgrims to pray (Matt 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–19; Luke 19:45–46). Interestingly, Jesus also prophesied the destruction of the Temple. The Temple had its place in the economy of the Old Covenant, but with the inauguration of the New Covenant through the dying and rising of Christ, the institutions of the old would have to be swept away. Jesus envisioned the fall of the Temple and the termination of its worship in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:1–51; Mark 13:1–27; Luke 21:1–38). There would be a siege and conquest of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20) within the first Christian generation (Matt 24:34), he predicted. The fulfillment of his words came in a.d. 70, when Roman legions laid siege to Jerusalem and eventually burned and leveled the Temple. In prophesying this event, Jesus was not saying that Christianity was to be a religion without a temple. On the contrary, Jesus himself was a new and greater Temple (Matt 12:6), destined to be destroyed in death and then rebuilt in the Resurrection (John 2:19–21). This notion was picked up and developed by the apostles Peter and Paul. In Pauline theology, incorporation into the body of Christ means incorporation into a holy temple in which the Spirit dwells (1 Cor 3:16–17; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:19–22). And what is true of the Church is also true of the individual Christian, whose body is a temple of God’s presence (1 Cor 6:19). Peter likewise envisions believers as “living stones” who are built into a spiritual temple that gives pleasing worship to God (1 Pet 2:5) (CCC 583–86, 593, 756, 797–98).”