The Olivet Discourse

The foundational passage in Scripture for the end time is found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24. It’s often called “The Olivet Discourse” because it was taught on the Mount of Olives, outside Jerusalem, where Jesus had gathered his disciples together. It can also be found in Luke, chapter 21, and Mark, chapter 13.

This is the second-longest sermon we know of Jesus teaching. Let’s read it the way He spoke it, and not the way people have told us to believe.

Just The Facts, Please.

The Bible covers these events in other places, too. Much more detail is available. I’m doing my best here, however, to confine my notes to what Jesus is saying at this time, to these people. Refer to my narrative on “Daniel’s Seventieth Week” for more detail.

As Jesus and His disciples are leaving the Jerusalem temple, He tells them that the great temple they are looking at will be completely destroyed. Not only destroyed, but that the destruction will be to such an extent that not one stone will be left standing upon another.

The surprised disciples asked Jesus two questions. The entire Olivet Discourse is devoted to answering the disciples’ two questions.

  1. When shall these things be?
  2. What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?

Jesus answers the questions in great detail, and in a way that the disciples had certainly not expected. However, he starts with the second question, not the first. Here is a summary of what Jesus answered, with references to the particular verses. All are from Matthew, chapter 24.

Matthew 24

Who is Jesus Talking To?

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 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?  (Matthew 24:1-3)

  1. He addresses His disciples (verses 1-3).
  2. These are the very same men that he called His church, in Matthew, chapter 18.
  3. At this time, the assembled church consisted only of Jewish believers. Very soon churches would include Gentile believers, also.
  4. I think it’s important to notice that he’s not speaking to Israel. Look again: He’s speaking to His disciples.

The First 3 1/2 Years


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. 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. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (Matthew 24:4-7)

  1. It will be a time of great deception. Jesus warns his disciples that believers must not fall victim to the deceiving words of men who claim to be God’s anointed, although many will. They will use Jesus’ name in their deceit (verses 4, 5).
  2. Talk of military conflict and fighting will be on the news (verse 6).
  3. There will be a protracted time of regional wars (verse 7).
  4. Earthquakes will become more common (verse 7). Over time, earthquakes become more and more numerous and deadly.
  5. Disease and famine will dominate many areas of earth, a result of the wars and earthquakes (verse 7).

The Beginning of Sorrows

All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:8)

  1. This marks a period of time Jesus identifies as “The Beginning of Sorrows” (verse 8).
  2. The idea behind this phrase is birth pangs. Just as a birth is inevitable as a mother approaches full term, the pains continue to increase until she is finally delivered.
  3. God’s people have a part to play. That part is to participate in “the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” This begins a time when many will be martyred for the Name of Jesus Christ.
  4. That is not the worst it will get though, because when we reach verse 21, the period known as the “Great Tribulation” will ensue.

Persecution of God’s people begins

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. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 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 24:9-14)

  1. Believers will be persecuted and killed (verse 9).
  2. Believers in Jesus’s name will be blamed and hated by every nation on earth (verse 9).
  3. The fact that the persecution comes based on Jesus’ “name’s sake” tells us that it is not only national Israel that’s a target of Satan’s wrath. All believers in Jesus Christ are, too.
  4. Many who professed to believe will fall away, betraying each other, turning their former love for one another into hatred (verse 10). The word “offended” in the King James version of the Bible means to fall away, to fall back into sin.
  5. Deceit will increase. False preachers and prophets will multiply and deceive many (verse 11).
  6. Iniquity (wickedness) will abound. It will be celebrated and encouraged. Lawlessness will be the order of the day. Many believers will grow cold in their love for others, perhaps retreating to the relative safety of their homes and apartments (verse 12).
  7. Rescue will ultimately come for the faithful. Those that stand for Christ, withstanding all the onslaughts of evil, and endure to the end will be saved alive (verse 13).
  8. The Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony. This marks the time of the end (verse 14).

Keep reading … The Olivet Discourse, Part Two