specifically said that there would be no sign before the second
Jesus was saying that the preaching of the gospel throughout the
world was a sign of that the destruction of Jerusalem was near.
God's purpose in giving the sign was that all the nations would
understand the significance of the fall of Jerusalem (cf Exodus
32:12, Deut 2:25).
There is some confusion about the word "end" in this
verse. The Greek word translated as end is
"telos", which means end , last part, close or
conclusion. It is not the same as the world
"sunteleia" which is used in the expression "end of
the age" in Matthew 24:3. That word, although often translated
as "end", really means consummation. The disciples
were asking about the end of the age so it was the appropriate
word. In verse 14, Jesus is not speaking about the end of
the age, the consummation, so he just uses the word telos.
He was warning of the end of the Jewish nation in its
current form, so this word was appropriate.
Jesus gave two signs of the destruction of
Jerusalem. The first was the preaching of the gospel to the
nations. The second immediate sign was Jerusalem being surrounded by
armies. The people of Jerusalem should escape to the mountains
(Matt 24:15,16, Luke 22:20,21). Both these signs were fulfilled before the destruction of
Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Jesus warning saved the lives of many
believers. Although a million Jews lost their livens in the siege
of Jerusalem, none of them were Christians. They heeded
Jesus' warnings escaped with their lives.
Some people may find it hard to believe that gospel had been
preached to the whole world by A.D.70 when Jerusalem was
destroyed. Yet this is exactly what the Bible teaches.
On the day of Pentecost there were devout men in Jerusalem
"from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5). They
would have taken the gospel back to their own lands. In Romans
1:8, Paul gives thanks the Christian faith is spoken of "all
over the world". Colossians 1:6 says that "all
over the world the gospel is producing fruit. The most
specific fulfilment is given in Colossians 1:23.
This is the gospel that you heard and that has been
proclaimed to every nation under heaven...
This sign of the preaching the gospel must not be confused with
the Great Commission, which required disciples to be made of all
nations. That task is still not complete, but Jesus
prophetic sign only required the gospel to be proclaimed as a
"testimony" and a witness before the destruction of
Jerusalem in AD 70. An examination of the Bible
shows that Jesus words were fulfilled.
It follows from these points, that Jesus was not saying that
the preaching to all the nations is a sign of his second
coming. Those who use this verse to support this view are
interpreting it incorrectly. There is no scripture that
states that the second coming will be proceed by a great end-time
God has commissioned us to make disciples of all nations and
establish his kingdom on earth. Christians in all
centuries have a responsibility to work on that calling, which is
far from complete. Even if the kingdom of God is established
in our lifetimes, there is no reason why the second coming should
come straight away.
We are seeing a great advance of the gospel in our time.
A great harvest is taking place. We should rejoice in
this, but it is a mistake to see it as a sign of the second
coming. I believe that we are getting close to a great
victory for the kingdom of God. We will see an even greater
harvest in the days ahead, before God's purpose is complete.
God's purpose is not just to harvest the earth. The harvest
is not an end in itself. They farmer completes the harvest,
for what comes afterwards. God's purpose is that the whole
earth will filled with his glory, as his people establish his
kingdom throughout the earth.