What are the signs of the end of the world?
Scripture scholars and commentators have long been wrestling with the passages that refer to the end of the world. They come up with different possible answers to what Jesus meant or how these passages are to be interpreted and explained. Remember that in A.D. 70 Jerusalem fell under Roman siege. The destruction and suffering were terrible. When the Romans finally took the city, the Temple was destroyed and much of the population had ﬂed.
It was the end of an era or world as the Jews knew it and the beginning of a new world. Without quoting here all the texts surrounding those above and going into them separately, we can say there is agreement among commentators that Jesus in these passages is talking about two different events. The first is the fall of Jerusalem with the destruction of the Temple to come. It seems impossible to say precisely when each of the Gospels was written. But it may be that each of them, if not one or the other, was written after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. The second happening about which Jesus is speaking is the end of time and the Second Coming. As the evangelists have recalled Jesus’ words, it is not always easy to distinguish when he is speaking of the fall of Jerusalem and when his words are about the end of the world. Given these uncertainties, exegetes offer different explanations of Jesus’ statement,
“This generation will not pass away till all these things happen”:
(1) Jesus is here referring to the end of Jerusalem. Those in Jesus’ generation did indeed witness the signs and the fulfilment of Jesus’ words. They saw the end of an old world and the beginning of a new world.
(2) “This generation” means the human race. The human race will not pass away until all that Jesus says takes place. In commenting on the passage in Luke, Eugene LaVerdiere, s.s.s., says it means, “At that time, heaven and earth will pass away (21 :3 la) but two realities will surely remain: this generation (2l:32b), that is the human race, and the words of the Lord (21:33), which will then be fulﬁlled.” In view of the difficulties in these passages, both these approaches seem to have merit and sound reasonable.