Troublesome Topic: His Coming as a King

Matthew 24:3


Now while He was sitting on the Mount of Olives His disciples came to him privately saying, “Tell us, when will these things be?

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And what will be the sign

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of your coming as a king, and of the completion

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of the age?

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[A short time later] as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, His disciples came to him privately and said, “Explain this to us. When will the things happen that you told us about outside the temple? What will be the confirming sign that you are revealing yourself physically to be the king, and that you are causing this age to reach its complete fulfillment and ushering in the new age?

One of the things the disciples asked for was a “sign of your coming.” This word “coming” has two emphases woven together; prior to the writing of the New Testament it was usually used of a king’s arrival on the scene to deal with a situation that only he could deal with. Secondly it has a personal element; it shows that this kingly figure will show up in person and be physically present; he will not just send an emissary. Therefore it is often translated as “presence or appearing.” This is not the only word for “coming” used in this discourse; there is another one that means “come” in the normal sense. However, this word, which I translate as “personal coming as a king” was used by Jesus twice in this discourse, Matt 24:27 & Matt 24:39.

The word I have rendered as “personal coming as a king” is usually understood to mean the second coming of Christ, which has not yet happened. That is because we are looking at things from a post-resurrection vantage point. The disciples were wondering why Jesus had not yet fully revealed Himself as the Messiah, nor done all the Messiah-like things they expected Him to do – such as defeat the Roman army and establish Himself as their rightful ruler. The disciples were wondering when Jesus would burst onto the scene in full power and deal with a situation that only He could deal with. They were waiting for His presence to be felt in all its force. The healings and miracles were nice, but they knew Jesus could do more than that, and they were hoping to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ true purpose, as they understood it. “When are you going to show everyone who you really are?” Even after the resurrection, just before He was taken to heaven, the disciples were still asking this question (see Acts 1:7).

The thing to remember here is this – even though this word “coming” is used later in the New Testament of the second coming of Christ, it is highly unlikely that Matthew 24:3 refers to anything other than the disciples’ own personal dilemma. Jesus had just blown their minds by saying that the temple would be utterly destroyed, so their natural thought was “Aren’t you going to do something about that? When are you going to take action anyway?”

They didn’t fully understand the crucifixion and the resurrection until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit put all the pieces together for them.



They asked Jesus questions about three things, but they thought all of them would be fulfilled in one major event. The first question, “When will these things be?” refers to what Jesus had just said about the temple being destroyed so completely that no stone would be left on another. He did not tell them precisely when this would happen; His emphasis was that it would happen, and what that meant. However, he did end up giving them one hint – it would happen during the natural lifespan of people in their generation (Mt 24:34).


(See the comment at the end of this verse.)


This word is often translated “end,” but it is better understood as the “completion or fulfillment” of something, its “consummation, or climax.” The simple “end” of an age could mean the simple passage of a time marker from one era to another. However, the way they used the word indicated that there was a purpose to be fulfilled, and that fulfillment had to be realized before the next “step” could be taken.

4: “The age”

The explanation of this phrase is also in the major comment below instead of in the footnotes. This phrase holds the key to understanding this entire discourse. The key is to understand the question – Which age are they asking about? Their own age, or a future age?