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Matthew 24:1-31; Mark 13:1-27 Listen
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
What you need to know about these passages
All three of these are records of Jesus' final teaching overlooking the Temple prior to his crucifixion. Because Jesus gives these comments while upon the Mount of Olives, this teaching session is commonly referred to as "The Olivet Discourse." In this session, Jesus answers questions posed to him by his disciples on issues of prophecy. The prophetic events outlined by Jesus in these chapters are given in chronological order. This fact is very important in order to recognize the proper context for these events. Since, in my mind, a pre-tribulation rapture of the church is the most defensible prophetic view of the rapture and second coming, these comments will explain these passages in that context.
I will say that good people disagree on the timing of the rapture of the church with respect to when, exactly, Believers will disappear from this earth in relation to this seven-year tribulation period. Every serious student of prophecy is typically able to make a strong case (at least in his own mind) as to why he holds his particular view. Volumes have been written in defense of each of these positions. Having studied those positions over the years, I remain convinced that the position espousing that Jesus will receive Believers into Heaven at the beginning of the seven-year period (I Thessalonians 4:13-18, see notes and I Corinthians 15:51-53, see notes) and finally return to earth to stay at the end of that period is the most explicable view.
|1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew 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?
|1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
|5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
When one of his disciples comments on the magnificent structure of Herod's Temple, Jesus comments that these massive stones will be completely razed to the ground at some future date. How can one let a comment like that go by without further explanation? Peter, James, John and Andrew then ask Jesus about the time frame for such an event. They expand the question to include all the prophetic milestones about which Jesus had spoken during his ministry when they ask in Matthew 24:3, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" While overlooking the Temple, Jesus prophesies concerning those events. Matthew's record is the most comprehensive account of this discourse, extending his comments to include some details that Mark and Luke simply summarize. Here's an important key to keep in mind regarding this discourse: John later gives exhaustive prophetic detail regarding these very same events in chapters 6 through 20 of Revelation (see details below).
Historical facts give us a little more context than the disciples had when Jesus spoke these words. In fact, the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans as prophesied by Jesus in these verses. It is for that reason that the world realities explained in this passage down to Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14 and Luke 21:20 may characterize activities at any time between the time Jesus issued these comments until the beginning of the second half of the tribulation period. That being said, it is certain that these world realities will exist during the first half of the tribulation period.
The first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation (Matthew 24:4-14; Mark 13:5-13; Luke 21:8-19)
|4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 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.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my names sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 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.
|5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my names sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
|8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my names sake.
13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my names sake.
18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
As stated above, some of these indicators may precede the actual seven-year tribulation, but certainly characterize those first 3 1/2 years. So to be clear, Jesus' characterization of this period is sequential - making Matthew 24:4-14, Mark 13:5-13 and Luke 21:8-19 a picture of life during the tribulation leading up to the midpoint of the seven-year period. The exact middle of the tribulation appears in Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14 and Luke 21:20 (see below).
Thus, the seven-year tribulation is divided up into two distinct periods in prophetic scripture - the first 3 1/2 years and the last 3 1/2 years. The events prophesied by Jesus to take place in the first half are tumultuous, but are mild by comparison to those which are prophesied for the second half. The beginning of the second half is marked by the man students of prophecy generally refer to as the Antichrist (see below) moving into the rebuilt Temple and demanding that he be worshipped as God. Since that event is not marked in these passages until Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14 and Luke 21:20 (see below), it is logical to assume that all of the events prior to these milestone verses take place either in the first half of the tribulation or perhaps some of them even before the rapture of the church altogether. All this passage tells us is that they take place prior to the second half of the tribulation period.
Here's what Jesus says will characterize this period, the first half of the seven-year tribulation:
As I indicated, some of these events may take place prior to the rapture of the church, but not necessarily. What these passages tell us for certain is that these will be the conditions that will exist during the first half of the tribulation.
Matthew 24:13 has been frequently misused by those looking for ammunition in their attempt to prove that one may lose one's salvation. One's salvation may not be lost. The notion that it can be lost flies in the face of the whole unconditional-covenant theology clearly outlined in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Salvation is an unconditional covenant that God makes with each Believer at the time when he trusts Jesus Christ as his personal savior. That covenant cannot be broken; from that time forward, God deals with Believers as his children. For more information on this special relationship between God and the Believer, see the article entitled "Trial versus Chastisement" by clicking here.
Now, let's explain Matthew 24:13, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." First of all, understand that this is a tribulation-period verse - spoken immediately before Jesus explains the "abomination of desolation" which we know takes place at the half-way point of the tribulation, seen in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 (see below). That, in itself, removes it from applicability to spiritual salvation prior to the rapture of Believers. But wait! There's more. In Mark's parallel of this passage, he leads into it with verse 13:10, "And the gospel must first be published among all nations." Matthew makes that statement in verse 24:14. This is a direct reference to the 144,000 Jewish witnesses who are sealed by God during the tribulation period seen in Revelation 7:1-8 (see notes) and Revelation 14:1-5 (see notes) for the purpose of evangelizing the world. In Luke's parallel to this passage in verse 21:18, we see that Jesus makes it clear that he's talking about the physical salvation (i.e. deliverance from physical death) of these 144,000 Jewish witnesses when he says, "But there shall not an hair of your head perish." So, you see, this verse has nothing whatsoever to do with spiritual salvation during the present dispensation of grace. To misuse it as such is to do a disservice to scriptural context.
|15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elects sake those days shall be shortened.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 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.
31 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.
|14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:
16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elects sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
|20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26 Mens hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Perhaps the clearest milestone in these passages is the appearance of the "abomination of desolation." Matthew and Mark are even careful to specify that this event equates to Daniel 9:27, a prophetic passage of scripture that positively identifies the individual commonly referred to as the "Antichrist" (aka "Beast" of Revelation 13, see notes). It is in Daniel's prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27, see notes) where we learn that this event marks the mid point of the seven-year tribulation. This Antichrist will inhabit the Most Holy Place of the Temple ("abomination of desolation") and will pronounce himself to be God. II Thessalonians 2 (see notes) gives us a detailed account of his activities in that regard at this time.
Now, notice these verses (Matthew 24:16-20; Mark 14:13-18; Luke 21:21-24) where immediately following the tribulation midpoint of the "abomination of desolation" described in the preceding paragraph, the remnant of the righteous in Jerusalem are told to "flee" into the wilderness. Many prophecy teachers feel strongly that the place to which they will flee is a place called "Bozrah" found in Micah 2:12 (see notes). That's located in ancient Edom (modern-day Jordan), east of the Dead Sea in the mountainous region there. That position has great scriptural merit and should be considered by serious students of prophecy as a likely scenario.
Matthew 24:21 declares, "For then shall be great tribulation..." Revelation 7:14 (see notes) also makes reference to this period (last 3 1/2 years of the tribulation) as "great tribulation." It is a period of intense, catastrophic world-wide happenings. Notice what Luke tells us about this period in Luke 21:24, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." He points out that Jerusalem during this second half of the tribulation will be overcome with Gentile enemies. More is written by Paul concerning this in Romans 11:25-26 (see notes), "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." Paul is undoubtedly making reference to Jesus' comments here.
Based upon the chronology of Matthew, Mark and Luke compared to John's Revelation, I am confident with the position that the events of Revelation 6 (see notes) coincide with the first-half events outlined here by Matthew, Mark and Luke. I'm convinced that the second half of the tribulation, which begins with the "abomination of desolation," is consistent with the events in Revelation that begin with chapter 8; Revelation 7 serves as a non-chronological overview summary. For a better view of this chronology, click here to see the notes on Revelation 9-12. Revelation chapters 8-19 give exhaustive details regarding these second-half cataclysmic events; Jesus just briefly summarizes them here.
If you'd like greater detail now regarding the events of the second half of the tribulation, follow the links below: