“Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:1–21, The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2017)
“Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:1–21, The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual
Jesus said, “I am he of whom it is written by the prophets” (see also Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 4:18 [in Matthew 4:19, footnote a]). With those words, He proclaimed to His disciples that He was the Messiah, the Anointed One, of whom all the prophets had prophesied (see Helaman 8:16–23). Their prophecies concerning the Messiah foretold not only His suffering for the sins of the world, but also His glorious Second Coming at the end of the world.
Many angels will appear with Jesus at His Second Coming. The scriptures describe these angels as having power to prepare the earth for the coming of Christ and as those who will sound trumps at strategic times (see Revelation 7:1; 8:2; 14–16; see also D&C 77:8, 12). In addition, the righteous Saints who have died will accompany Him at His Second Coming (see D&C 45:44–45; 76:50, 63; 88:96–98).
The Second Coming of Christ is an event spoken of repeatedly, with great fervency and hope, throughout the scriptures. For example, in Old Testament times the Lord showed Adam “whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation” (D&C 107:56), including the Second Coming of Christ. Adam made all these things known unto his children (see Moses 5:12). Enoch was shown in vision not only the coming of Christ in the meridian of time, but also “the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years” (Moses 7:65). Other Old Testament prophets prophesied of these wondrous latter days (see Job 19:25; Psalm 102:16; Isaiah 40:1–11; Daniel 7:13; Micah 1:3; Zechariah 13:6; Malachi 3:2). In the Book of Mormon, Jaredite prophets testified of the glorious coming of Christ (see Ether 3:16–25; 9:22; 13:1–12), as did the Nephite and Lamanite prophets (see Helaman 8:16–23). Furthermore, New Testament prophets and modern prophets have made many inspired pronouncements on this subject (see Acts 3:20–24; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 19–22; D&C 29; 45; 133). Of all of the prophecies in the scriptures concerning the latter days, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is by far the most highly anticipated.
See also Mark 13:1–2 and Luke 21:5–6. Because of the nature of the temple’s construction, the prophecy of its destruction may have seemed nearly impossible to the Jews. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote: “Some single stones were about 67½ feet long, 7½ feet high, and 9 feet broad; the pillars supporting the porches, all one stone, were some 37½ feet tall. It is said that when the Romans destroyed and ploughed Jerusalem, six days battering of the walls failed to dislodge these mighty stones. The temple was, of course, finally leveled to the ground, and … the stones were rooted out and scattered elsewhere” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary , 1:637).
Known to some as Olivet, the Mount of Olives is a limestone ridge, a little more than one mile (1.6 kilometers) in length, east of the city of Jerusalem. It rises about two hundred feet (65 meters) above the city, with the Kidron Valley lying between it and the city. On its western side is the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the east, the villages of Bethany and Bethphage. This mount was the site of many events during biblical times (see 2 Samuel 15:30; Matthew 21:1–9; 26:30–56; Luke 21:37; John 8:1; Acts 1:12) and will be the site of prominent events associated with the latter days and the Messiah’s Second Coming (see Zechariah 14:4–5; D&C 45:48; 133:20).
The Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired revision of Matthew 24:3 makes it clear that the disciples wanted to know about two events. The first event was “the destruction of the temple, and the Jews.” This event occurred about AD 70, when the Romans subdued a Jewish revolt, slaughtered the people, destroyed the city of Jerusalem, and scattered the Jews to many nations.
The second event the disciples asked about was “the end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked.” This will happen at the Second Coming of Christ in the last days. Elder Bruce R. McConkie clarified what is meant by “the end of the world,” saying that it is “not the end of the earth but the end of the world, that is of the social conditions prevailing among worldly people. ‘The end of the world is the end of unrighteousness or of worldliness as we know it, and this will be brought about by “the destruction of the wicked.” (Jos. Smith 1:4 [Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4].) When our world ends and the millennial era begins, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. (Isa. 65:17–25; D&C 101:23–24.) Lust, carnality, and sensuousness of every sort will cease, for it will be the end of the world.’ (Mormon Doctrine, pages 767–68.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary , 1:640).
The Savior’s answer to His disciples’ inquiry concerning these two events provides an outline for understanding Matthew 24. Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5–21 (compare with Matthew 24:4–22) is His response about the destruction of the temple and the Jews, while Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:21–55 (compare with Matthew 24:23–51) contains His statements about the sign of His coming and the end of the world.
Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on the historical evidence of the fulfillment of this prophecy: “Among the false prophets, and men who claimed to be the duly accredited ministers of Christ, were Simon Magus who drew many people after him (Acts 8:9, 13, 18–24; see also The Great Apostasy, 7:1, 2), Menander, Dositheus, and Theudas, and the false apostles referred to by Paul (2 Cor. 11:13) and others, such as Hymeneus and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17, 18). Dummelow’s Commentary applies here the record by Josephus concerning ‘a body of wicked men, who deceived and deluded the people under pretense of divine inspiration, who prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, pretending that God would there show them the signals of victory’” (Jesus the Christ , 587, note 1).
Most of the original Apostles spread throughout the world to teach the gospel, but were eventually martyred. For example, history suggests that Peter suffered death in Rome (as did Paul), and James was slain by a sword in Jerusalem. But the Apostles were not the only martyrs. Many of the early Christians suffered great persecutions and were killed because of their faith. Some accounts of the persecution and martyrdom of early Saints are found in the New Testament (for example, see Acts 4:1–3, 17–18, 29; 5:17–19, 40; 7:54–60; 8:1–3; 11:19; 12:1–5; 13:50; 14:1–7, 19–20; 16:19–24; 17:1–9; 21–26; 2 Corinthians 11:23–29).
The Greek word for “offended” (scandalizo) means “to make to stumble.” From the same root comes the word skandalon, which is translated as “stumbling block.” In Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:8 the Savior was saying that many would fall away or turn away from the faith.
To “wax” means to increase in intensity. Violence and corruption are signs that people have ceased to love or care about themselves and others. Coarseness and cruelty infect a society and spread like a disease. A cruel society exists when people are “without affection” and “hate their own blood” (Moses 7:33). As abuses by humans against other humans increase, men’s hearts turn cold and the spirit of Satan takes control of their actions.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:
“Daniel spoke prophetically of a day when there would be ‘the abomination that maketh desolate’ (Dan. 11:31; 12:11), and the phrase was recoined in New Testament times to say, ‘the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet.’ (Matt. 24:15.) … Relying solely on the plain meaning of words, we can conclude that this phrase (abomination of desolation) would have reference to some great act or status of corruption and befoulment, of contamination and filthiness, which would bring to pass destruction, ruination, devastation, desolation.
“Such is the case. These conditions of desolation, born of abomination and wickedness, were to occur twice in fulfilment of Daniel’s words. The first was to be when the Roman legions under Titus, in 70 AD, laid siege to Jerusalem, destroying and scattering the people, leaving not one stone upon another in the desecrated temple, and spreading such terror and devastation as has seldom if ever been equalled on earth” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 12).
The second occurrence of the abomination of desolation, prophesied by the Savior in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:32, refers to a latter-day destruction.
Concerning those who heeded the warning to flee, Elder James E. Talmage wrote: “The warning to all to flee from Jerusalem and Judea to the mountains when the armies would begin to surround the city was so generally heeded by members of the Church, that according to the early Church writers not one Christian perished in the awful siege (see Eusebius, Eccles. Hist., book iii, ch. 5). … All Jews who had faith in the warning given by Christ to the apostles, and by these to the people, fled beyond Jordan, and congregated mostly at Pella” (Jesus the Christ, 588).
The wickedness of the Jews at Jerusalem persisted and increased after the Resurrection of the Savior, setting the scene for the destruction that Jesus prophesied. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), referring to a history written by Will Durant, said: “The siege of Jerusalem under Titus [lasted] for 134 days, during which 1,110,000 Jews perished and 97,000 were taken captive; … the Romans destroyed 987 towns in Palestine and slew 580,000 men, and a still larger number, we are told, perished through starvation, disease, and fire” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1950, 74).
“Thousands [of Jews] were carried off to Egypt to work in the quarries and mines as lifelong slaves. Boys and women were sold to slave traders, and thousands of others died of starvation in the prison camps. A remnant of this conquered people was scattered to the ends of the earth” (H. Donl Peterson, “The Fall of Jerusalem,” Ensign, May 1972, 42).
By saying “and again, after the tribulation of those days which shall come upon Jerusalem,” Jesus gave a clear indication that He had finished prophesying about the “destruction of the temple, and the Jews,” and would next prophesy concerning the “end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4).