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The theme which runs through these verses is ‘not yet’. They have asked for a ‘sign’ of the coming events, and Jesus replies by talking about things which are not as yet signs of the destruction of the temple. These are all necessary preliminaries, but ‘the end is still to come’. This note of warning against getting excited too soon is in sharp contrast to the wording of verse 14, ‘But when you see…’. That will be the time to take action, but all the events described in verses 5–13, however dramatic they may seem, are no more than preliminary skirmishes…

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