Matthew 24:15

ESV “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
NIV So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--
NASB Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place— let the reader understand—
CSB "So when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place" (let the reader understand),
NLT The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about — the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.' (Reader, pay attention!)
KJV When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

What does Matthew 24:15 mean?

Christ's disciples responded to His prediction that the temple would be destroyed (Matthew 24:1–2) by asking a two-part question. First, they asked when that would happen. Second, they asked what signs they should expect to see prior to His return (Matthew 24:3). In the prior passage, Jesus addressed the second question, explaining the state of the world during the end times (Matthew 24:4–14).

Here, Jesus continues to speak on that subject. He points to a moment that will mark the onset of the worst possible calamities. This instance is the same one referred to by the prophet Daniel as the "abomination of desolation." Daniel speaks of this several times (Daniel 8:13; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). It's interesting that Matthew adds a footnote here directly encouraging "the reader" to understand that reference. Mark, as well, includes the same advice when describing Jesus' words (Mark 13:14).

Some Jewish scholars felt this prophecy had already been fulfilled in 167 BC. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the king of Seleucid, constructed an altar to the Greek god Zeus in the temple and ordered that unclean animals, such as pigs, be sacrificed there. This was a catastrophic, intense violation of the Jewish people. However, Jesus speaks as though Daniel's prophecy had not been fulfilled, at least not fully.

One interpretation is that the events of AD 66—70 partially fulfilled Jesus' prophecy here. The temple was "desecrated" by an act of sacrilege in AD 66 when Jewish Zealots killed priests and spilled their blood in the temple. "Desolation" followed in AD 70 when Rome burned the temple and tore it down. They set up their own standards of the Roman emperor Caesar, whom they worshiped as a god, defiling the temple yet again.

Another interpretation is that the rebuilt temple will be violated by the figure known as the antichrist (Revelation 13:1–4). This will mark the transition from a time of tribulation to one of "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21). This more easily fits with the context of Jesus' remarks, which to this point have focused on the very end of history (Matthew 24:14). It also makes more sense of the idea that this abomination triggers an era so ferociously dangerous that it would destroy the entire world if not cut short (Matthew 24:22).

Jesus' warning for those who see this moment of abomination is to immediately run away from Jerusalem to escape the judgment to follow.
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