Jesus’s Olivet Discourse dealing with the end times.
The disciples ask a question in Matt. 24:3 and the prophecies are from Jesus’ response.
Summaries of relevant background information from related passages.
The discourse is recorded in the three synoptic gospels but unlike Luke, Matt. 24:15 and Mk. 13:14 predicts on the Abomination of Desolation. This is the antichrist as described in Dan. 12:11, who controls the temple in the 3½ years of the Tribulation. Also the word “tribulation” is stated in Matt. 24:21 and Mk. 13:19 but not in Luke whose main focus is on Jerusalem’s fall in 70 A.D and not the end times (See separate 1 page for Luke 21)
Explaining the Passages(mainly from Matt. 24-25 with Mk. 13 quoted when it differs):
Jesus is answering His disciples who clearly ask in 24:3 for the “sign” related to His second “coming and of the end of the age” and Mk. 13:4 has “all” to show that these are similarly covered. He first warns them on the danger of being misled (24:4-5) and surely one way to avoid this is to study these passages carefully. Jesus starts with their question on the signs and five groups seemingly in chronological order are given. In 24:6-8 is the 1st group consisting of wars, famines and earthquakes. Jesus makes clear in v6 that hearing of wars alone is not yet the end but when these signs truly occur together (7-8), it’s the beginning of birth pangs. The 2nd group in 24:9-14 is great turmoil for the saints with persecutions, apostasies and heresies. It is found also in Mk. 13:9-13 but note that this is so similar to Lu. 21:10-18 on events before 70 A.D. which have been accurately fulfilled. It is a strong hint that such events will be repeated for the end time. One verse to note is 24:14 and Mk. 13:10 which is not in Luke, for the gospel is now preached to all nations but not so in 70 AD, indicating that this sign is currently in progress. The 3rd group in 24:15-20 is with the Abomination of Desolation when the antichrist takes Jerusalem and the saints are ordered to flee Jerusalem as Rev. 11:1-2 predicts that the temple and city will be given to him for 3½ years. Tribulation unseen before in history will then occur worldwide, which is the 4th group in 24:21-24. The upheavals from the third seal of Rev. 6:3-17, the trumpets (Rev. 8:1-9:21) and bowls (Rev. 16:1-9) harmonize well with these verses. Finally in the 5th group, Christ returns fully visible to all (24:25-28). The meaning of 24:28 is that severe judgment will come with His return, like vultures follow a corpse as in 24:29-31, matching the three bowls of Rev. 16:10-21 which ends with Armageddon. Jesus next deals with the “when”, first by using the parable of the fig tree (24:32-35). When these signs begins like new leaves, we should be looking out for them as His words are certain (Mt. 24:35) and He will return within that generation. But its precise timing is not known, as the rapture which can occur anytime and 24:36-42 deals with events link to it (see 1-page for Lu. 17:22-37). The final generation may be identified but not the precise timing of His coming. Finally He teaches parables on the proper way to live while waiting for His return. The parable of the chief slave in the house (24:43-51) is a call to be both alert and faithful in serving God. Next, in the parable of the ten virgins (25:1-13), the charge is for individual responsibility to maintain the spiritual resources needed to live the Christian life. Then in 25:14-30, the parable of the talents is on the importance of spiritual investments in particular the gifts that God has given us. Finally in 25:31-46 is the judgment of the nations and it emphasizes that He is watching out on how His saints are being treated and all will be judged accordingly.
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