Rapture and Related Events, The
Topic 3—Olivet Discourse

Many teach that the Olivet Discourse, which is the prophecy in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, does not apply to the church, but only to the Jews (and Israel).

We may easily answer this charge by examining the brief conversation the disciples have with Jesus before He begins the Olivet Discourse.

Matthew 24:1-3 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. {2} 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. {3} 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?

When Jesus and the disciples left Jerusalem the day after the Triumphal Entry, they went out through the Eastern Gate toward the Mount of Olives. As they climbed the mount, they looked at the magnificent buildings of the Temple and its precincts. One wonders how much more magnificent the view must have been when Solomon’s Temple stood. Yet, Herod had done a very good job of making his Temple magnificent and monumental. Even now, when one gazes toward Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives it is a wondrous sight, even without the Temple. Upon viewing the resplendence of Herod’s Temple, Christ told them that a time was coming when those majestic edifices would be destroyed. They were taken aback.

Upon arrival on the Mount of Olives, they privately asked Him three distinct questions. (1.) When would the Temple be destroyed, (2.) what would be the sign of His return, and (3.) what would signify the end of the age

Jesus gave them information about the destruction of the Temple, which would occur almost forty years later. For example, He told them “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.” These two things did happen before 70 AD. There were false prophets saying that Israel would defeat the Romans. They did not. There were several insurrection leaders and many fought one another, instead of the Romans, during the siege. There was much fighting over food and water, and even over children eaten for food in Jerusalem during the siege. Life was miserable in that time. Most of the inhabitants of Jerusalem were killed.

He gave many signs of His return, one of which was Matthew 24:30-31, “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. 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.” This most definitely applies to the church because it describes its rapture, or gathering back to Christ.

Of the end of the age, He said, in Matthew 25:46, “And these [the unrighteous] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” This passage describes the judgment of God at the end of the age.

The Olivet Discourse is addressed to both the church and to Israel. Some things applied solely to the judgment of Jerusalem and Israel in 70 AD. Other things applied to the return of Christ at the end of the age. Additionally, some things applied to both.

For example, Jesus told them that the Temple and all of its buildings would be utterly thrown down and would no longer exist (Mat 24:1). That occurred when the Romans conquered Jerusalem in the late summer of AD 70. When He spoke of the nursing mothers, the people in the fields, and on the rooftops fleeing (Mat 24:17-19), He referred to the siege of Jerusalem from 67 AD to 70 AD.

When Jesus talked about His return being like the lightning from the east (Mat 24:27), He was describing His return at the end of the age. When He tells of His angels gathering His chosen ones from the world over (Mat 24:31), He is describing the end of the age. When He specifically mentions the return of the Son of Man (Mat 24:37), He is discussing the end of the age.

When Jesus mentions false messiahs and false prophets (Mat 24:24), he is referring to both times, AD 70, and the end of the age, for both things occur at each time. He is also referring to both ages when he says the love of many will grow cold and sin will be rampant (Mat 24:12), because this was coincidental with the destruction of Jerusalem, and prophecy tells us that the same thing will happen at the end of the age (2 Thes 2:3-12).

These are some examples; the list above is not exhaustive. Nevertheless, one can readily fit all the teachings of the Olivet Discourse into one of these categories. The destruction of Jerusalem applied to the church, who were told to flee to safety, which they did. Since the end of the age includes the church as well, it is obvious that Matthew 24 applies to both the church and to Israel. Hence, to say that the church is not involved in the Discourse is to reject a good part of it.

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