The Olivet Discourse, also called the “Little Apocalypse,” describes a period great persecution and tribulation beginning with the early church up until the “end of the age.”
“LET THE READER UNDERSTAND”…
The Olivet Discourse, described in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 is an apocalyptic text based on Jesus discussion with the disciples on the Mount of Olives and it describes events from the destruction of the Temple until the completion of a tribulation period and arrival of the end of time. Jesus gives a warning to his disciples that their followers would suffer persecution and a period of tribulation until the arrival of the Kingdom of God on this earth, that is, the spreading of the Church and Gospel to all nations. John does not appear to include this in his book but the answer is quite obvious why… because John is the author of the much larger apocalypse or Book of Revelation, which is a much more expanded view of events described in the Olivet Discourse. In fact, it can be demonstrated that the Olivet Discourse follows the same sequence and pattern of events described in Revelation chapters 7 to 19, at times using more or less symbolic language than Revelation.
This discourse is often the most misunderstood chapter in the New Testament by Christians and has given rise to many heretical teachings. First and foremost is the 19th century innovation of the Rapture of the Church. The Futurists and Dispensationalists interpreters of prophecy use this chapter as a primary source for the doctrine of the Rapture. In addition, the Preterists interpreters use this discourse to try to further prove that all of these events were to be completed with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD to bolster their argument that all of these things were to “quickly come to pass” within the generation of the apostles. What is the true meaning of the text? Well, we should consider the context of the chapter and how they arrived there on that mount to be given insight into the future. It immediately occurs after the chastisement of the scribes and pharisees in the temple described in Matthew chapter 23. As they were leaving the temple, Jesus provides a stern warning that the temple will be left desolate:
Matthew 23:37-39 –“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (NKJV)
The text in verse 39 provides very concrete and specific prophetic content. Jesus was not to return to Jerusalem or be associated with the Jewish nation until the unbelieving Jews would one day proclaim: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”, that is, ”Blessed is Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God who came into the world to save us sinners.” But, when the time comes for the full realization of this passage, the Jews upon their repentance and acceptance of Christ will go through a significant period of mourning for their ancestors, as foretold by Zechariah. At the same time they will joyfully accept and proclaim the glory and divinity of Christ, as foretold in the old testament such as in Daniel chapter 4 with the Seven Times symbolic punishment and restoration of Nebuchadnezzar:
- Zechariah 12:10 – “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
- Daniel 4:34-37 – “(…) Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.”
Taken in that proper context, and viewing the events described historically, we can come to a better understanding of the true meaning of the discourse. Now let’s examine the text of the Olivet Discourse. For ease of comparison of the texts, I have combined all related verses from each chapter and Gospel together to help the reader quickly see the similarities and differences in the authors’ testimony for each specific event described in the discourse.
Jesus and his Disciples on the Mount of Olives – Overlooking Jerusalem
- Matthew 24:1-2 – Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:1-2 – “Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:5-6 – “Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” (NKJV)
As Jesus and the disciples were walking away from the temple, the buildings and temple view from across the hill must have looked spectacular to the disciples. They must have never seen anything like it before anywhere else in their travels around Israel. It would only seem natural to admire such a sight and call the attention of their Rabbi to it to also acknowledge the wonderful spectacle. Jesus responds back that all they see and admire is an abomination to God who would soon bring destruction upon the temple the buildings around it. They were probably shocked by that response. How could such a wonderful structure of glorious stone which was a place of worship to the one true God be an abomination to Him, doomed to destruction? The destruction of the temple would mean the destruction of the Hebrew religion. Where would they be able to go and worship God?
- Matthew 24:3 – “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will bethe sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:3-4 – “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:7 – So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” (NKJV)
- Mathew 24:4-5 – And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:5-6 – And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:8 – And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.” (NJKV)
Before Christ would provide any details on the specifics of the temple destruction at the appointed time, he provides some specifics on other events leading up to that point. Prior to his return, many false prophets and pseudo-Christs would come to deceive many. This would occur with the rising of second century Gnosticism, Marcionism and Manichaeism. The church would struggle through the various Christological heresies in the age of the Ecumenical Councils. The church of the middle ages would be deceived by the rise of another monotheistic religion of Islam, who’s prophet proclaimed he was greater than Christ. Another pseudochrist who arose in the 8th century claiming he was the Vicar of the Son of God by enforcing the forged Donation of Constantine is the apparent lamb with two horns – the Papacy.
- Matthew 24:6 – “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:7 – “But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:9 – “But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” (NKJV)
The End “will not come immediately” is in sharp contrast to “soon“, “at hand“, “quickly” and “shortly” referenced elsewhere in scriptures in which the Preterists try to promote for the 70 AD thesis. This verse is very damaging for denying the theory of the Preterists that all prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD. It says here the “end” does not come immediately. But they look to Revelation and insists all of theses things in all in their entirety would “shortly come to pass” prior to 70 AD. This is especially even more suspect given the fact most evidence by the Church fathers indicate the Apocalypse was written around 96 AD.
The Kingdom of Christ will do away with the wars of nations and kingdoms with the official establishment of the Church in each nation as only truth and worship of God. But until the fullness of the Kingdom of Christ comes, the wars will continue between the people and kings of the earth. Wars will come and go, many wars, not just a 70 AD temple uprising to complete all prophecy. We are told these wars must take place, but the end of the world is not triggered by the world wars and revolutions. These are not signs of the end of the world, even the coming battle of Armageddon does not signal the end of the world. All these things will happen before the end as prophesied by the holy prophets of God. Therefore, the rumors and worries about the current wars in each generation will carry no fears about concerning the end and the destruction of the present world.
- Matthew 24:7-8 – “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:8 – “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:10-11 – “Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” (NKJV)
- Matthew 24:9-13 – “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:9-13 – “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:12-19 – “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.” (NKJV)
- Matthew 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:10 – “And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” (NKJV)
After the persecutions of the early church, but before the abomination of desolation event and the rising of the Little Horn of Daniel and beast out of the sea in Revelation, the church would go through a period of blessed peace and significant growth throughout the Roman Empire with Constantine and the Edict of Milan, then with the conversion of the barbarian tribes, and spreading of Christianity in Africa and into Persia and India into its peak in the seventh century. During this time of dissemination of the Gospel, the Nature of Christ, the God-Man, was formalized and understood through the two witnesses of Revelation who would complete their testimony through the seven ecumenical councils. This defining of the God-Man, or man-child by the church, or woman, is foretold in Revelation chapters 11 and 12:
After the completion of witnessing of the Gospel to all nations and the testimony of the woman through the sixth and seventh ecumenical councils, the beast would arise out of the land of Arabia with a new monotheistic religion of Mohammed. The last and third woe or “end will come” after a period of 1260 years of persecution. Throughout this 1260-year period, the preaching of the Gospel was stopped through the spread of Islam in the East and the Papacy in the West. But a time is coming when the True Church will cast away it’s oppression and preach the true Gospel of Christ in the world as a testimony of all nations. When this divine work is completed, the end will come. So we know by observing the signs today that we are still far away from the end of time, because the church is still suffering persecution and the Gospel is not preached to all nations.
- Matthew 24:15-16 – “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:14 – “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:20 – “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.” (NKJV)
“Let the reader understand“…
The key text is: “whoever reads, let him understand” is the only time that the author of the Gospel interrupts their story telling to speak directly to you, the reader, very similar to the commercial interruption on the television or radio. The storyteller becomes an objective third person bystander trying to call your attention to the meaning of the text. Why is this mysterious call to the words brought to light here? Because many Christians have never quite understood the true meaning of the abomination of desolation. The abomination is bright and visible when they look at the Western Wall or gaze upon the city from the Mount of Olives today… but they fail to recognize it. Christians today either believe the abomination already occurred, like the Preterists believe, or they await the fulfillment of this event to be built on the temple mount in the future, like the Futurists and Dispensationalists believe.
Idol worship or idolatry is often called an abomination in the Scriptures. The idol is a symbol of worshiping an image of a false god, and idolatry is the religion or worship of the deity. Currently today, there is worship of a false moon God that derives it’s power from the Red Dragon, who claims that Jesus Christ is not God, and is but a man.
The Prophet Daniel provided the clue of the event by telling us in his prophecy of the seventy weeks that the Antichrist would come and set up his temple in the middle of the week, or the exact middle of the “Seven Times.”
Daniel 9:27 – “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
So we have an Orthodox Patriarch confirming the Abomination of Desolation. This confirmation of the desolation time period is further measurable by:
- 1260 years from Babylon captivity to the Abomination Temple
- 1260 years from the Abomination Temple until the Desolation Ends
- Babylonian Captivity was in 604 BC
- Temple Destruction was in 587 BC
- Matthew 24:17-20 – “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:15-18 – “Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:21,23 – “Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. (…) But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.” (NKJV)
- Mathew 24:21-22 – “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:19-20 – “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:22,24 – “For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. (…) And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (NKJV)
- Matthew 24:23-28 – “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:21-23 – “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.” (NKJV)
- Matthew 24:29 – “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:24-25 – “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:25-26 – “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.“ (NKJV)
- Matthew 24:30-31 – “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:26-27 – “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:27-28 – “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (NKJV)
- Mathew 24-32-33 – “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:28-219 – “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors!” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:29-31 – “Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.“ (NKJV)
Romans 11:17-25 – “Now if some of the branches have been broken off, and you, a wild olive branch, have been grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not boast about being better than the other branches. If you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were cut off so that I could be grafted in.” That’s right! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you remain only because of faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid! For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly will not spare you, either. Consider, then, the kindness and severity of God: his severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness toward you—if you continue receiving his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off. If the Jews do not persist in their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, because God is able to graft them in. After all, if you were cut off from what is naturally a wild olive tree, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much easier it will be for these natural branches to be grafted back into their own olive tree! For I want to let you know about this secret, brothers, so that you will not claim to be wiser than you are: Stubbornness has come to part of Israel until the full number of the gentiles comes to faith.”
As stated previously, there is a strong correlation with the “Fig Tree” and “Olive Tree” analogy to the “Tree Prophecy” given in Daniel Chapter 4, which is in reference to the Jewish Seven Times punishment and restoration. Through a process called regenerationin nature in which a tree can grow new shoots from the stump at a later period of time. A command is given to leave the tree stump and roots, so that the cut down tree would at a future appointed time have the ability to sprout new branches and eventually be restored to a full tree, if the conditions were favorable for regrowth (i.e. true repentance). In decoding the passages, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream describes the 2520 year punishment of Leviticus 26, where the Jews would be placed among the Gentile nations, as historically has been witnessed until their return in 1948. And the fulfillment of the dream occurs when his “sanity” is restored and he praises the most high with a prayer similar to “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”. There is no solid historical evidence that Nebuchadnezzar left his throne for 7 years and went crazy in the wilderness. Daniel chapter 4 is a symbolic prophecy because he represented the ruler over the Jews at the time. And some have suggested the dating for this prophecy was between 573 BC to 568 BC. Incidentally, 572 BC + 2520 years = 1948. That is, “Seven Times” after the prophecy was written, the Jews returned.
In further analysis, the “Fig Tree” represents the Church. Some branches were cut off from the tree over time due to their disobedience. When the spiritually dead and divided Church of today shows the first signs of regeneration, resurrection and restoration, then the spread of the Gospel over the entire earth is accomplished, so that the word of Christ may be fulfilled “and that this gospel of the kingdom may be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations“… then and only then… the END WILL COME.
- Matthew 24:34 – “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:30 – “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:32 – “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away until all things are accomplished“ (KJV)
This is the same faithless and perverse generation which he just walked away from after he left the temple, stating he would not come back there until they proclaim him as their savior and Lord. We implicitly identify the identity of this generation based on observing the previous chapter pronouncements to the scribes and Pharisees and the announcement of temple destruction which is the execution of the command to punish the unrepentance Jewish nation as was warned in Leviticus 26. This is the wandering generation without a homeland which was born after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and was prophesied and guaranteed in the Olivet Discourse to not pass away and disappear or absorb completely within the Christian and Muslim nations. That is, it is the Seven Times Generation of the unbelieving Jews. Those same Jews who did not accept him and were scattered with the 70 AD temple destruction, thereby extending their punishment by Seven Times. It was THIS generation that survived all odds and did not “pass away” or “disappear to exist no more” among the Gentile nations during their extended Babylonian captivity of 2520 years. It was THIS generation that still kept hold of their religious customs and remained a separate “nation without a nation.” It is THIS generation of Jews which were scattered to all nations which will not disappear until they are fully grafted back and convert to Christ, and until all of the prophecies of the old testament and pertaining to the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple are fulfilled. The Jews miraculously kept their traditions and faith through this period of Diaspora up until all of the prophecies of the Desolation, Exile, Return, and will continue to do so until their Repentance and Restoration and all is fully accomplished and completed when they come to accept Christ. Then the Gospel will be preached to all nations, and the fullness of the Kingdom of God will be completed as we witness the establishment of the church in each nation on the earth. Then they will finally say: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord“, just as Daniel foretold in chapter 4 with the Seven Times restoration of Nebuchadnezzar:
In other words, the Mystery of the Jews will be completed when they proclaim Jesus as the Messiah at the Seventh Trumpet. They are to be fully restored after their Seven Times exile and like Nebuchadnezzar will praise and exalt the name of Jesus as he proclaimed in Matthew 23:39. Heaven and earth shall pass away, empires will rise and fall, the “Kingdom of God” (i.e. the Church) will fall into heresy, division and destruction when the ethical and metaphysical Sun will go dark, and the church will not reflect and shine the true light and doctrines of Christ, and the bishops will fall from heaven in disgrace. But only after these things are witnessed after the 1260 year tribulation period, will the end finally come. And the words promised here of Christ shall not pass away before these things are all fulfilled.
Sadly, the Preterists take the term “this generation” from scripture and base a whole doctrine and belief system and try to promote to everyone that all is fulfilled with the temple destruction and fall in 70 A.D., but they still fail to see the greater human drama and fight between Christ and Satan through the biblical prophecies.
- Matthew 24:35 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (NKJV)
- Mark 13:31 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (NKJV)
- Luke 21:33 – “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.“ (NKJV)
This is the sworn statement, signature and seal that Christ puts on the prophecies of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. There might come a time when the current physical heaven and earth shall pass away and cease to exist. But there is no time at which the words of the Lord prophesied in the Old Testament will remain unfulfilled about the Jews returning to Israel and their acceptance of the rejected Messiah. For every word and prophecy will be accurately fulfilled at its proper appointed time. This promise was established and foretold and will be executed and fulfilled through the God-appointed “times” measurement using the cycles of the Earth and Moon around the Sun… the “times” foretold and established since the dawn of creation.