The Olivet Discourse taken from the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke paints a picture of how things will be before, during and after the 7-year tribulation period.
When the disciples asked Jesus their questions (Matthew 24:3, Mark 13:3-4, Luke 21:7), Jesus told them of things that would occur during their lifetime as well as events leading up to the end of the age. Jesus had already predicted the destruction of the temple, but he also wanted to warn them of the cost of their witness and what to do during the times they would stand before their judges. He also gave warnings to future disciples within His discourse.
The Olivet Discourse is the “spine” of all future prophecy, which is expanded upon in the Old and New Testaments.
What I will do is divide the text into three main groups, keeping all the text within the three Gospel accounts confined within those groups. The parables Jesus taught during his discourse will not be posted, but references will be made where you can read them for yourselves. I will color code the text to show different ideas, same/similar text, Multi-time prophecy, etc, as well as cross-references in the Old and New Testaments.
The cross-references should link to scripture in the KJV (King James Version) of the Bible. Cross-references will always precede the verses referenced.
Legend for this section:
- Events found in nature that will occur worldwide. This section of prophecy is speaking to us, the present-day disciples. The reason for this conclusion is made clear in Luke’s account of the Olivet discourse (Luke 21:12 – “But before all these things,..”)
- multi-time pivot point
- Being taken before the judges/synagogs/councils. This will be a multi-fulfillment prophecy as it has been partially fulfilled (Acts 4:1, 5:17-21, 5:22-32, etc) and will be fulfilled again during the tribulation period (Revelation 6:9-11).
- The rise of false prophets. There is confusion as to this particular part of the discourse. Since the time of Jesus, there have been many false prophets, or as John called them “antichrists” (1 John 2:18) and there are many to this day. The false prophets during the time of the tribulation will have more power (signs & wonders – Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:21). The confusion comes when we read the words after these “false prophet” passages: “See, I have told you beforehand”, which might give an indication that Jesus was talking to present day disciples (from Jesus’ perspective). Jesus, within any discourse to a group, doesn’t repeat anything unless it is to happen again.
- Being betrayed by those closest to you & offending strangers. We must remember that Jesus was not only referring to biological family members that would betray the Christian but our brothers and sisters in Christ (Matthew 12:47-49).
- The preaching of the Gospel. This is continually being fulfilled to this day.
- Reassurances and the end.
The signs of the times and the end of the age
“And Jesus answered and said to them: (Eph. 5:6; (Col. 2:8, 18; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 John 4:1-3) “Take heed that no one deceives you. (Jer. 14:14; John 5:43; Acts 5:36; (1 John 2:18; 4:3) For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ (Matt. 24:11) and will deceive many. And you will hear of (Rev. 6:2-4) 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. For (2 Chr. 15:6; Is. 19:2; Hag. 2:22; Zech. 14:13) nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be (Acts 11:28; Rev 6:5, 6) famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “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 (Acts 20:29; 2 Pet. 2:1; Rev. 13:11; 19:20) many false prophets will rise up and ( 1 Tim. 4:1) deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow (2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:1-3) cold. (Matt. 10:22; Mark 13:13) But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this (Matt. 4:23) gospel of the kingdom (Rom. 10:18; Col. 1:6, 23) will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Matthew 24:4-14 NKJV
And Jesus, answering them, began to say: (Jer. 29:8; Eph. 5:6; (Col. 2:8); 1 Thess. 2:3; 2 Thess. 2:3) “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He, ’ and will deceive many. 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. For nation will rise against nation, and (Hag. 2:22) kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. (Matt. 24:8) These are the beginnings of sorrows. “But (Matt. 10:17, 18; 24:9; Acts 12:4; (Rev. 2:10)) 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 (Matt. 24:14) the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. (Matt. 10:19-22; Luke 12:11; 21:12-17) 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, (Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31) but the Holy Spirit. Now (Mic. 7:6: Matt. 10:21; 24:10; Luke 21:16) 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. (Matt. 24:9; Luke 21:17; John 15:21) And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But (Dan. 12:12; Matt. 10:22; 24:13; (Rev. 2:10)) he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Mark 13:5-13 NKJV
“And He said: (Matt. 24:4; Mark 13:5; Eph. 5:6; 2 Thess. 2:3; (1 John 4:1)) “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. But when you hear of (Rev. 6:4) wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” (Matt. 24:7) Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great (Rev. 6:12) earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. (Mark 13:9; John 16:2; (Rev. 2:10)) But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and (Acts 4:3; 5:18; 12:4; 16:24) prisons. (Acts 25:23) You will be brought before kings and rulers (1 Pet. 2:13) for My name’s sake. But (Phil. 1:12-14, 28; 2 Thess. 1:5) it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. (Matt. 10:19; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11) Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom (Acts 6:10) which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. (Mic. 7:6; Mark 13:12) You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put (Acts 7:59; 12:2) some of you to death. And (Matt. 10:22) you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. (Matt. 10:30; Luke 12:7) But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.”
Luke 21:8-19 NKJV
Legend for this section:
- The Beast (antichrist, the final one). Many get the passage in Luke mixed around (… then know that its desolation is near…) as meaning that the army surrounding Jerusalem during the destruction of the 2nd temple in 70 A.D. The Greek word “erēmōsis” (g2050) is only used in combination with the antichrist (Beast – g946 – bdelygma). In a nutshell, “desolation” is not a synonym for “destruction” as we would think of the loss of property or the destruction of buildings through war, and is only used in these instances below (3 times in the New Testament). It is also important to note that the place where the beast is “not supposed to be” refers to the 3rd temple. There is scriptural evidence that points to the fact that Jesus, nor Daniel, were not referring to the temple that would stand during the time of Jesus. More on that in a later post.
- Taking action before Jesus arrives. Jerusalem, during the time of the tribulation, will be occupied by the “gentiles” (non-Jews, non-righteous people – Revelation 11:1-3).
- A concern for pregnant women. This is referring to the days of the tribulation when Jesus comes back. Jesus is “skipping ahead” before he jumps back in the next sentence(s).
- The tribulation. This is a brief “here it is” that Jesus gives us that an event (Daniel’s 70th week) will occur. It is important to note, for those that believe that the tribulation period won’t happen, that these things in the passages above and below refer to the destruction of the temple at 70 A.D., that this part of Jesus’ discourse makes mention of the “…such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be…” While the destruction of the temple and people were awful, the idea that this event out shadows more horrific events such as WWI, WWII, etc, is looking at this from a human’s perspective and not from the perspective of God. Jesus is given this prophecy from God’s Perspective and when He is saying that the tribulation will be the worse thing that the world has ever seen, taking into account the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments found in Revelation upon the world, the 70 A.D. event simply doesn’t fit.
- The tribulation false prophets. Not only will there be individuals (men & women) that will deceive “the elect” (Jews left that will be Christians), but they will have signs and wonders that they will be able to perform. These prophets are different than the false prophets in the first section.
- The second coming of Jesus and the battle. This is a very familiar passage of Jesus’ second coming that will occur after the tribulation. Many think that Jesus will speak a word and it will all be over (Revelation 19:15), but fail to recognize that there will be quite a carnage and destruction when Jesus comes as he will animate the armies that come against him, hence the “…For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” (Revelation 19:17-18, Zechariah 14:1-15, Joel 2:1-11, 30-32, Zephaniah 1:2-18).
- The 70 A.D. prophecy of the temple’s destruction & tribulation. Jesus flips back to the near-future events that will occur during the time of the present day (Jesus’ perspective during his discourse). The reason for this is to continue to answer the question “Tell us, when will these things be?…” (Matthew 24:3), referring back to the prophecy that started this discourse (Matthew 24:2). Jesus also tells what will happen to the Jews during the tribulation perios at the hands of the antichrist.
The tribulation period
(Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20; (John 11:28); Acts 6:13; 21:28) ““Therefore when you see the (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (Dan. 9:23) (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 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 (Luke 23:29) 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. For (Dan. 9:26) 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; (Is. 65:8, 9; (Zech. 14:2) but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. (Mark 13:21; Luke 17:23) “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For (Deut. 13:1; John 4:48; (2 Thess. 2:9); Rev. 13:13) false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, (John 6:37; Rom. 8:28; 2 Tim. 2:19) 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. (Luke 17:24) For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Job 39:30; Ezek. 39:17; Hab. 1:8; Luke 17:37) For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
Matthew 24:15-28 NKJV
(Matt. 24:15) ““So when you see the (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then (Luke 21:21) let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 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. (Luke 21:23) 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. ( Dan. 9:26; 12:1; Joel 2:2; Matt. 24:21; Mark 10:6) 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. (Matt. 24:23; Luke 17:23; 21:8) “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 (Deut. 13:1-3; Rev. 13:13, 14) wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But (John 16:1-4; (2 Pet. 3:17)) take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.”
Mark 13:14-23 NKJV
(Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14) “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 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. For these are the days of vengeance, that (Is. 63;4: (Dan. 9:24-27); Hos. 9:7; (Zech. 11:1)) all things which are written may be fulfilled. (Matt 24:19) 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. 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 (Dan. 9:27; 12:7) until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Luke 21:20-24 NKJV
Legend for this section:
- Creation will give signs that the end is near. This will occur at the end of the seven years. The references to the Old Testament support this as well (Joel 2:1-11, 30-32, Zechariah 14:1-15, Revelation 19:17-18, Zephaniah 1:2-18)
- Jesus arrives on earth. Nothing more need be said.
- Jesus gathers the remaining Jews (now Christians) that are left. This is a point of reference as to many that believe in the rapture of the church often confuse this passage as meaning that the rapture will occur at the end of the Tribulation. Scripture as a whole does not support this ideology (Joel 2:30-32, 1 Thessalonians 5:9).
The second coming of Jesus Christ
(Dan. 7:11) ““Immediately after the tribulation of those days (Is. 13:10; 24:23; Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15; Amos 5:20; 8:9; Zeph. 1:15; Matt. 24:29-35; Acts 2:20; Rev. 6:12-17; 8:12) 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. (Dan. 7:13, 14; Matt. 16:27; 24:3, 37, 39) Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, (Zech. 12:12) 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. (Ex. 19:16; Deut. 30:4; Is. 27:13; Zech. 9:14; (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16); Heb. 12:19; Rev. 8:2; 11:16) 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.”
Matthew 24:29-31 NKJV
(Zeph. 1:15; Matt. 24:29) ““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 (Is. 13:10; 34:4; Heb. 12:26; Rev. 6:13) shaken. (Dan. 7:13, 14: Matt. 16:27; 24:30); Mark 14:62; Acts 1:11; (1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Thess. 1:7, 10); Rev. 1:7) 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.”
Mark 13:24-27 NKJV
(Is. 13:9, 10, 13; Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24; (2 Pet. 3:10-12) ““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, (Matt. 24:29) for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man (Dan. 7:13; (Matt. 16:27; 24;30; 26:64); Mark 13:26; Rev. 1:7; 14:14) coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because (Rom 8:19; 23) your redemption draws near.”
Luke 21:25-28 NKJV
What are Christians supposed to be doing before the tribulation?
There are many that believe that we (Christians) will be raptured before the tribulation, and to that, they are correct. Some brothers and sisters have an attitude of “who cares what happens now, I’m going up”, which is contrary to what Jesus told not only the disciples in the first century but the disciples of today. We get an idea of His last instructions when reading the parables accompanying the Olivet discourse.
- We are to watch (Matthew 24:32-35, Mark 13:28-31, Luke 21:29-33)
Jesus said multiple times that we will know the season of His great arrival. To keep watch is to give our overall mission statement, to tell the world the Good News, a sense of purpose through a deadline. Once the tribulation begins, the church age will end and those that turn to the Lord during those days will have it rough, to say the least.
- We don’t know the exact time of Jesus’ arrival (Matthew 24:36-44, 45-51, Mark 13:32:36, Luke 21:34-36)
While we may know the season, we don’t know the exact time. This is to help us know who is speaking for God and who is not. If a “prophet” gives us an exact time of the end, we can rest assure that he/she is a spokesperson for the Devil. During this time, we (Christians) are to be about our day-to-day duties and spreading the Kingdom of God. We are not to mistreat our brothers and sisters in Christ (fellow servants) and to keep a watch out for the return of the King. This idea is specifically emphasized in Matthew 24:45-51.
- Don’t fall asleep (Matthew 25:1-13)
Some Christians have fulfilled the prophecy/parable of the virgins. I say “Christians” as we are considered “virgins” in the eyes of the Lord because of our new nature. Some of us have not kept watch and even go so far as to say “where is He? He’s not coming back” (2 Peter 3:3-5). Because of this, they “fall asleep”, even ridiculing their fellow believers, such as myself, when we speak of these things.
- There will be an accounting of what we did with the gifts God/Jesus has given us (Matthew 25:14-30)
God gives us talents and gifts to promote His Kingdom, as well as give to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:1-31) and He will have an accounting of our actions. There will be many that receive a reward and many that will have their “profits” burned up and still smell like smoke (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Now, this is not to say that our financial records will be the only thing (although they will be a part), but it’s all of the resources God has given us and what we did with them.