Olivet Discourse - An Introduction
from eParousia #8, September, 2003
and His apostles spoke often of the Second Coming, future judgment
and end-time events. In fact, all but 4 of the 27 books of the New
Testament speak of the return of Christ. The most complete end-times
teaching of Jesus recorded for us is the Olivet Discourse, recorded
in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21. It is called the Olivet Discourse
because Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives when He gave it.
In this teaching, Jesus answers His disciples’ questions about
the sign of His coming and the end of the age.
When we take Jesus' teaching in the Olivet Discourse at face value,
we discover it presents a chronological and thorough description
of events that will precede His coming, and how we are to live in
light of His certain coming. Matthew 24:1-3 gives us the setting:
came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples
came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.
And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly
I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which
will not be torn down."
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to
Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen,
and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the
age?" (Matthew 24:1-3)
disciples asked Jesus three questions:
When will these things happen? (i.e. the destruction of the temple)
2. What will be the sign of your coming?
3. What will be the sign of the end of the age?
will see that Matthew only records Jesus' answer to the disciples'
final two questions, and that in reverse order. Luke 21 on the other
hand, deals with both the near term destruction of Jerusalem and
the eschatological destruction that is tied to the Lord's return.
noun most often used in the New Testament to speak of the coming
of Christ is the same word used in verse 3 by the disciples –
parousia. This word is used 24 times in the New Testament,
16 of those occurences referring to the Second Coming of Christ.
The basic idea of the word is "coming," "arrival"
or "presence." The context determines if the focus is
on the arrival or the continuing presence.
writers of the New Testament tell us to that the parousia of Christ
is what we are waiting for:
patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming
of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce
of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and
late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the
coming of the Lord is at hand (James
now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we
may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His
coming (1 John 2:28-29).
as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that
those who are Christ's at His coming,
then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God
and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and
power (1 Cor 15:22-24).
this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive,
and remain until the coming of the Lord,
shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself
will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel,
and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise
first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together
with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus
we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thess 4:15-17).
word used in the New Testament to speak of Christ's return is epiphaneia.
Epiphaneia means "appearing" and is used six
times in the New Testament, all by the apostle Paul. Five of these
references speak of the future appearing of Christ. Christ's epiphaneia
is what we are looking for:
charge you in the presence of God, …that you keep the commandment
without stain or reproach until the appearing
of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 6:13-14).
for the blessed hope and the appearing
of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus…
final word I want us to look at is the word apokalypsis
or "revelation." This is the title of the last book of
the Bible and is used 18 times in the New Testament. Six times it
refers to the Second Coming of Christ. The apostles tell us that
the apokalypsis of Christ is to be our eager expectation:
that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the
end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:7-8).
prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your
hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation
of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).
to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on
rejoicing, so that also at the revelation
of His glory you may rejoice with exultation (1 Peter 4:13).
are those who want us to believe that each of these words refers
to a different phase of Christ's Second Coming. The parousia
is said to be when Christ comes "for His saints" at the
rapture, and the epiphaneia/apokalypsis refers to when
Christ comes "with His saints" in judgment at Armageddon.
But, as we can see from even a cursory reading of the above Scriptures,
no such distinction can be made from the usage of these Greek terms.
The "coming" of Christ is at his "appearing"
when He is "revealed" and when "every eye will see
Him" (Rev. 1:7).
of the Age
addition to the sign of Christ's coming, the disciples asked about
the sign of the "end of the age." Just what is the end
of the age?
term, "end of the age," is used 4 times in the New Testament
besides here in Matthew 24. All of the references are in Matthew's
He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are
the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil
one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest
is the end of the age; and the reapers
are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with
fire, so shall it be at the end of the age"
therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching
them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you
always, even to the end of the age (Matt
Jesus' explanation of the parable of the wheat and tares, He explained
to the disciples that the end of the age is the time of the final
harvest. The righteous (wheat) and wicked (tares) will be separated;
the wheat goes into the barns and the tares are bundled for burning.
the Great Commission of Matthew 28 Jesus told His disciples that
He will be with them until the end of the age. That is, our worldwide
ministry of evangelism and discipleship will continue until the
end of the age. Thus the end of the age includes the time when Christ
returns to rapture His bride, ending our mission on earth, and begins
His judgment of the wicked.
month we will continue our study in Matthew 24 and begin to look
at Jesus' answer to His disciples' questions.
article was originally published through eParousia,
Sola Scriptura's monthly end-times e-newsletter.