The Olivet Discourse [Matthew 24; Parallel passages: Mark 13:2-37; Luke 21:6-36] (Italics denote more probable explanation.)



Historical Occurrence

End Time Occurrence



Question 1: destuction of Jerusalem (Mt 23:38; 24:2)

Question 2: second coming & Ent Time (Mt 23:39; 24:3)


warning of false Christs

many false prophets before AD70; warning is for Jesusˇ¦ disciples; Ac 8:9-10 Simon Magnus; Ac 5:37 Theudas

false Christs at the End Time immediately before the Great Tribulation (maybe the first half of the 7-year Tribulation)


wars, famines, earthquakes: beginning of birth pains

[Annals of Tacitus about Roman history before AD70] many 1st century wars: Britain, Armenia, Germany, Gaul, Africa, Thrace; many civil strifes causing death of Jews: 20,000 in Caesaria, 13,000 in Scythopolis, 50,000 in Alexandria, 10,000 in Damascus

Ac 11:28 famine during Claudius Caesar (AD44); other famines recorded in Josephus, eg. Babylonia in AD40; Tacitus recorded epidemics in AD66

Ac 16:26 earthquake in Philippi; Tacitus: earthquakes during Caligula & Claudius, AD54, AD58, AD60; Pompeii destroyed in AD63

ˇ§birth painsˇ¨ similar in 1Th 5:3 describing the Day of the Lord

many wars, famines, earthquakes before the second coming

conflicts between nations and between ethnic groups


persecution & spread of the gospel

great Roman persecutions in early church (Acts chapters 4-6; 8; 13-14; 18; 21-22; 24-25); persecution during Nero in AD64-68

ˇ§the endˇ¨ is the end of the Jewish nation

the gospel was preached throughout the Roman world

Christians will be hated by all nations.

witnessing loss of faith and betrayal among Christians.

gospel will reach all national groups before the second coming


abomination causing desolation

(let the reader understand) = about important people at that time (AD60-65)

Antiochus Epiphanes set up a heathen altar in 168BC, slew 40,000 Jews, plundered the Temple, defiled holy grounds.

Emperor Caligula attempted to erect statue of himself in the Temple, AD38.

the occupation of Jerusalem by the heathen Romans, erecting their ensigns & placing an idol at the burnt Temple site in AD70 (Da 9:24 refers to Jews)

The Temple at Jerusalem will be rebuilt, Anti-Christ will reign in Jerusalem, he would sign a peace agreement with the Jews but would then break in and erect his image in the Temple

Dan 12:11;7:25-26 (3.5 years, 1290 days describing the second half of Tribulation)


plan of escape

Christians were advised to pursue the quickest route of escape, to avoid the approaching holocaust. In AD66, Roman general Cestius Gallus marched quickly and Christian could not escape but he unexpectedly withdrew. Shortly before the city was attacked by Titus, the Christian community, under the leadership of Symeon, a cousin of Jesus, withdrew to the village of Pella in Perea, east of Sea of Galilee.  Titus came only again at AD70.

city gates closed on Sabbath, water torrents in winter

warning about escape only for the Jewish remnants escaping from Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation of 3.5 years (Jews cannot walk too far on Sabbath),


Great Tribulation

Jer 30:7 ˇ§time of Jacobˇ¦s troubleˇ¨, only for the Jews - Jerusalem (ˇ§great tribulationˇ¨ in Rev 7:14 may refer only to general affliction)

Josephus: the siege began at the Feast of Passover when the city was filled with visitors; 97,000 captured and enslaved; 1.1 million died

greatest magnitude in the numbers slain, the length of duration, the extent of geographical coverage

again this is only for the Jewish remnants


those days be shortened

referred to the Christians who escaped; if the siege was prolonged, Christians could perish from lack of proper shelter, provisions, or the ever-widening fury of the Roman world; only April to September of AD70

The Great Tribulation only lasts 3.5 years.


false prophet

false prophet deceiving Jews (Ac 21:38): ˇ§started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desertˇ¨; Josephus recorded that his claim of ˇ§at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall downˇ¨

false prophets explaining the disappearance of believers: hiding in remote places or secret chambers


second coming not secret


Jesusˇ¦ second coming will be conspicuous and instantaneous like the lightning.


signs in heaven

immediately after the tribulation

signs in heavens may be symbols depicting the unsettled and turbulent state of the world powers; OR apostasy in the church OR Ecc 12:1 uses the sun, the moon, the stars to represent good times in oneˇ¦s life

ˇ§carcaseˇ¨ represents the utterly corrupted Jewish state; ˇ§eaglesˇ¨ is a symbol of the Roman army, every legion of which bore the eagle as its standard.

celestial signs and distress on earth (Rev 8:10-12)

overthrowing of hierarchical system of government (sun, moon, stars)


Son of Man coming


Jesusˇ¦ second coming in the clouds; the elect shall be gathered, possibly the rapture (1Th 4:16-17)

for those who believe in pre-tribulational rapture, the elect means the Jews


lesson from the fig tree

olive as symbol for Israel (Ro 11:17,24), not fig tree

the bursting forth of first buds of the fig tree is in early spring, same time as the siege of Jerusalem in April AD 70; the Temple was burnt in August 10, AD70 in full summer

ˇ§kingdom of Godˇ¨ (Lk 21:31) may mean the freeing of the kingdom of God from the restraints and pressures of the old Jewish order in AD70

fig tree (Lk 13:6-9; Mt 21:19) as the re-establishment of Israel in 1948; second coming will occur within one generation of this event (in biblical terms, 40 years)

watch for the preceding events of the End Time and one would know the end of the world is near


ˇ§no man knows the timeˇ¨

Every era in the churchˇ¦s history has witnessed Christians who were absolutely convinced that the Lord would soon return.

the exact time is not known even though there are some events preceding it


as the days of Noah


a time with carelessness, hedonism, materialism, spiritual indifferences; rapture and disappearance of believers


watchfulness, the main lesson


Jesus will come when men will be assuming it is not the set time for His arrival

watching is working, preparing, practising your faith

warning for the danger of falling prey to self-indulgence, indifference, laxity, lukewarmness