As we go through the Olivet Discourse, as found in the synoptic gospels, we want to – as best we can – dissect the information given, offer Biblical and practical observations concerning each presentation, present some corroborating Scripture, and seek to better understand how our Lord structured His discourse and what each gospel writer is uniquely presenting to the reader.
The reader will also note that several previously written articles are embedded within these three studies of the Olivet Discourse. Because I have written much on this subject – and other topics that come up within this study – these hyperlinks have been added so that the reader can dig deeper into the subject matter at hand. Due to space constraints, these hyperlinks in a few of the passages will be the only commentary available, so I highly encourage the reader to utilize them.
Because the Olivet Discourse is found in some places to be essentially the same in all three accounts, the reader will note that some of the material will be virtually identical. But there are also many other variations found within the accounts, so the reader should find that there is also a substantial amount of uniqueness to the three articles.
We will also have a fourth article that will attempt to combine all three accounts into one cohesive unit entitled The Olivet Discourse in its Entirety with links to the first three articles attributed to each synoptic gospel where the Olivet Discourse is found.
Outline for the Olivet Discourse
When it comes to an outline for the Olivet Discourse, there is a cut-off line, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” This amazing verse separates the Olivet Discourse in all three synoptic gospels, where it is presented into two unique segments.
Everything before this vital verse – including The Parable of the Fig Tree – is speaking of the church age and going all the way into the Tribulation and up to Christ’s Second Coming when He gathers Israel (His “elect”) back to Israel, with the rapture of the church entirely omitted.
Everything after this important verse, in each synoptic gospel’s presentation of the Olivet Discourse, Christ is speaking to His disciples exclusively as representing the church as He teaches them the rapture!
Matthew 25:1-13, the Parable of the 10 Virgins, also speaks of the rapture with the contrast of five wise virgins (true converts) and five foolish virgins (false converts).
Likewise, Matthew 25:14-30 is a parable of Christ’s return for His bride, represented as servants who will be accountable to the “talents,” gifts, and resources the Lord had entrusted to each of His professing servants. All were true converts except the last – who showed himself to be a false convert – as he was cast into outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24 is where we find Matthew’s account of the Olivet Discourse.
The Disciples’ Questions
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” world?” (Matthew 24:3).
Though Jesus does answer His disciple’s questions to a certain degree, it cannot be missed that He probably did not answer in the way they were anticipating or in the way that we, the reader, might expect Him to answer these inquiries.
One feature we can be certain of, though, is that He gave the answers He wanted to give us and the answers we all need to hear to prepare the body of Christ and the Jewish remnant for the last of the last days.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). [Mark 16:16– Salvation and Baptism, 1 Corinthians 15:29– Baptism for the Dead?, and Beware the Aión Deception of A.E. Knoch and CLNT!]
One of the most consistent aspects of all three accounts of the Olivet Discourse in the synoptic gospels is that Messiah Yeshua began with deception.
From the Nicolaitans in the first-century church to the Antichrist and False Prophet’s deceptions on mankind during the Tribulation – along with every deceit promulgated from Satan and man in between – deception has and will reign supreme and increase with intensity and frequency as the last days progress.
When people today declare, “I am Christ,” we should take note that the New Age movement teaches that their adherents can attain to what’s known as “Christ consciousness.” In God’s Strong Delusion & The Father of Lies, I observed that the East’s Hindu religion (with their over 300 million gods) and the West’s New Age movement (teaching they can achieve universal Godhood) – both of which actively use meditation techniques and teach that God is in all, and all is God – are perfect conduits for Antichrist’s religion of self-worship. Antichrist will claim to be God and demand that the world worship himself, but it should not surprise anyone that he just might teach that they, too, can reach Godhood if they just follow his example and obey his demonic commandments.
In truth, there have been many who have claimed to be the Messiah down through the ages – with many in Israel since she became a nation again – and there will be many more that come on the scene leading up to the Antichrist. But Antichrist is the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s warning of not being deceived by false Messiahs, especially to His people, Israel.
He even said as much earlier in His earthly ministry:
“I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43).
Paul also warned of Antichrist’s deceptions:
“Even him [Antichrist], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
Additionally, this phrase can also be referring to the false Messiahs of the many false gospels in the world today. From cults like Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, to false gospels such as the social gospel, green gospel, and the universalist gospel – just to name a few – every false cult, with their false Christs, has been deceiving countless millions throughout the church age.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
Finally, this phrase can also be viewed as Christ saying that many will come in the Name of Jesus, claiming that He is the Messiah, and yet deceive those who follow them with their heretical teachings – a deception the church has always had to deal with but will increase with intensity as the day approaches.
Paul, speaking of the last days, warned Timothy:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Deception has been a scourge the church has been dealing with since its inception, as Paul warned the church elders of Ephesus:
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30).
This is one of those many passages in Scripture that have many interpretations, all of which are viable and seemingly in view.
Wars and Rumors of War
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6).
The world has had “wars and rumours of wars” since Christ uttered these words. Our Lord summarizes, “all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”
The world has experienced two World Wars in just the last 100 years or so. We can and should expect that wars and rumors of war will increase – as will the other signs – with frequency and intensity, until the Lord takes His bride home to be with Him forevermore, and will continue into the Tribulation.
Nation Against Nation
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7a).
As is so commonly known, the Greek word translated “nation” is 1484 ἔθνος “ethnos” and is obviously where the words “ethnic” or “ethnicity” originated from. Therefore, we are looking at not only nation against nation but ethnicity against ethnicity, which should be obvious because nations were originally institutionalized by ethnic and cultural factors as God separated and dispersed the nations along tribal and linguistic lines after He confused the languages at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).
However, as the world’s language barriers have been diminished and people have been migrating to other nations for thousands of years, the nations and their unique ethnic characteristics and identities have become blurred. This gives rise to an increasing likelihood of ethnicity against ethnicity within each nation, causing immense problems within one’s own borders.
We have been observing this prophecy within the United States for virtually our entire existence, and thanks to political aims and nefarious intents to divide and conquer, we have fared no better down through the years. In fact, the ethnic violence appears to be increasing at an alarming rate because evil forces are fervently at work to destroy the United States from within.
Other nations, as well, are just as vulnerable as we are, as we have been witnessing on a daily basis.
“… and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7b).
As is so well documented, earthquakes have been increasing in frequency and intensity, especially in the last 50 years or so. Earthquakes have also been occurring “in diverse places,” often where earthquakes are extremely rare or unknown.
Of course, these earthquakes will climax into some of the most incredibly destructive seismic events that earth will have ever experienced during the Tribulation!
The same applies equally to famines and pestilences: the closer we get to the Tribulation, the more intense and destructive they will become, and will ultimately climax in the Tribulation itself.
The Beginning of Sorrows
“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).
Messiah Yeshua makes this assertion, seemingly, because He wants His disciples to know that the signs He gave above are to be considered generic signs that will occur throughout the church age and, as “the beginning of sorrows,” the birth pangs will increase with frequency and intensity as the age begins to come to an end.
Persecution of Apostles, Church, and Post-Rapture Tribulation Saints
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).
This passage hearkens back to our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount at the beginning of His ministry.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
Two additional passages come to my mind.
The first is from Peter to the church:
“And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:13-15).
The second passage is a message from heaven to the Great Tribulation Saints:
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:12-13).
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” another” (Matthew 24:10).
Being “offended” today is more than in vogue, and playing the oppressed is fashionable. But the offended are never pacified and will resort to “betray[ing] one another and shall hate one another.”
This modern-day phenomenon is fulfilling this prophecy in unimaginable ways, from the world to the church, and is clearly a sign that the end is quickly approaching.
“Hatred for one another” is also a trend that will only accelerate as the last days progress.
The day is quickly approaching that many will betray strangers, friends, and even family to the authorities when these people give their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. This has happened in many nations across the world throughout the church age, but during the Tribulation, this betrayal will become more than commonplace; it will become the law!
The Rise of False Prophets and False Teachers
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11).
As noted above, the church has been battling false prophets and false teachers since her inception. This, too, has been strengthening and will continue to increase with intensity and will climax with the appearing of the False Prophet, who will introduce the world to the Antichrist in the middle of the Tribulation when Antichrist claims to be God.
The Antichrist will have already been on the scene since the rapture of the church, but his real person and true mission will be revealed then.
Lawlessness and Love Waxing Cold
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).
This prophecy is not only already in play but is increasing at such a rapid clip that it is virtually impossible to keep up with its progression. Even the love of a parent for a child is reaching drought proportions.
This world is loveless and will continue to “wax cold” as time marches on into the Tribulation.
Enduring Unto the End
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). [Answering the Call of The Great Commission and Why Am I Here and What Is It All About?]
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
Preaching – or proclaiming – the gospel in all nations can be considered a dual prophecy. While the church, by the time of the rapture, should have a majority of the world preached to in the Name of Messiah Yeshua, this prophecy will certainly be realized and perfected during the Tribulation. Between the 144,000 Israeli evangelists (Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5), the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:3-12), and the angel preaching the everlasting gospel to the whole earth from the midst of heaven at the midway point of the Tribulation (Revelation 14:6-7), this prophecy will certainly be fulfilled.
It is imperative that we note that the gospel needs to be proclaimed before the next event on Christ’s timeline found in Matthew’s account of the Olivet Discourse: that of the Abomination of Desolation. And we read that exactly this happens at the midway point of the Tribulation, just before Mystery Babylon is destroyed by the 10 kings, in Revelation 14: Tribulation Outline.
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7).
Abomination of Desolation
“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:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes” (Matthew 24:15-18). [A Study of Zechariah 14:1-11]
“And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:19-21). [The Abomination of Desolation: A Unique Link]
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).
Truly, if the Tribulation was any longer, there would be no survivors of the horrors and destruction that have come upon the earth and the universal conditions that will be visibly seen in the heavens.
A Warning Concerning False Christs, False Prophets, Antichrist, and the False Prophet
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before” (Matthew 24:23-25). [God’s Strong Delusion & The Father of Lies]
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Matthew 24:26). [Revelation 13 – The Beast, Revelation 13 – The Antichrist, Revelation 13 – The False Prophet & The Mark, and Elijah and The False Prophet]
When it comes to the Antichrist and the phrase, “he is in the desert,” I cannot help but think of how the Antichrist – in my eschatological view – will relocate his base of operation to Babel/Babylon in the Land of Shinar and will be “in the secret chamber” of his “house” during the Great Tribulation. [Zechariah 5:5-11 – Homecoming: Babel Returns Home]
The Second Coming
Christ, here in Matthew, gives a quick summary of His Second Coming with a cryptic aphorism before He reveals the conditions of the earth at the end of the Tribulation.
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:27-28).
Conditions at the End of the Tribulation
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).
Jesus likens the conditions of the end of the Tribulation with words commensurate with Joel.
“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 3:15).
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). [The Kings of the East: Mission Impossible and The Valley of Jehoshaphat and ‘Armageddon’]
Matthew 24:30 has a definitive link to both Revelation and Zechariah.
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
We know not how “every eye” and “they also which pierced Him” will see the returning Lord, but it appears that the windows of Sheol – evidently located in the center of the earth where the spirits of the unsaved dead reside until the Great White Throne Judgment – will be opened, so they may see the returning Creator, Lord, Savior, Redeemer, King, and Judge.
In Zechariah’s prophecy, Israel will have a mourning period for their Messiah when He pours out His Spirit of grace and supplications on the people and restores them back to Jerusalem after their three and one-half years (1,260 days) of supernatural protection in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14) after the Abomination of Desolation.
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).
Zechariah proceeds to go into detail of who will be mourning for Messiah Yeshua in Israel when He restores Israel back into her Promised Land and the holy city of Jerusalem:
“In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain [Greek 7604 שָׁאַר “shaar” – “be left” or “be left over”], every family apart, and their wives apart” (Zechariah 12:11-14).
Gathering Together Israel
“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). [A Study of Zechariah 14:12-21]
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:32-34).
The Olivet Discourse Cut-Off line
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Here is the divine cut-off line that separates the Olivet Discourse into two distinct segments. The first section leads up and concludes with Messiah Yeshua’s Second Coming and The Parable of the Fig Tree, and the second segment addresses Christ’s teaching of the rapture. This is true in all three synoptic gospels where the Olivet Discourse is presented.
Teaching the Rapture
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
When it comes to the unbiblical desire to try and set a day or a date for the rapture, no Christian should ever be found guilty of Rapture Soothsaying. Even our Lord Jesus Christ does not know this exact day or divinely appointed time (Mark 13:32) because this decision has been firmly placed into the Father’s hands and power.
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40-41).
This is the rapture!
Three articles that may be of interest to the reader on this particular passage are: Instantly Changed and Caught Up, The Paralambánō of Matthew24:40-41 & Luke 17:34-36, “The Eagles be Gathered Together,” and Jesus Was the First to Teach the Rapture!
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).
We are continually reminded by our Lord and His Apostles to be ready, waiting, and watching for His return!
“But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (Matthew 24:43).
Messiah’s return for His bride is often compared to a thief in the night. In this particular case, Jesus uses the allusion of a thief breaking into a house as relating to the nature of the believer who is to always be watching for His unknown return.
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).
We must never be in the business of date-setting or settling on a day our Lord must return. Because, if we do, we will be fulfilling prophecy when He comes “in such an hour as [we] think not the Son of man cometh.” [Rapture Soothsaying]
Parable of the Rapture
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:45-47).
“But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:48-51).
May we all be that “faithful and wise servant” who will be found working the works of Him that sent us by sharing the gospel of Christ with everyone we meet!
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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