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|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
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.
The big question is asked of Jesus (Matthew 24:1-3; Mark 13:1-4; Luke 21:5-7)
|1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
3 ¶ Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
|1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”
2 ¶ And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
3 ¶ Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately,
4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
|5 ¶ Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said,
6 “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”
7 ¶ So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”
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 will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" 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 to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
6 And you will hear of 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.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 ¶ “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
|5 ¶ And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
6 For many will come in My name, saying, “I am He,’ and will deceive many.
7 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.
8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.
9 ¶ “But 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.
10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
11 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, but the Holy Spirit.
12 Now 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.
13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
|8 ¶ And He said: “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.
9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
10 ¶ Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.
13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.
14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer;
15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.
16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.
17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.
18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost.
19 By your patience possess 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 who endures to the end 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 preached to all the 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 not a hair of your head shall be lost." 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.
Here's the Antichrist (Matthew 24:15-31; Mark 13:14-27; Luke 21:20-28)
|15 ¶ “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.
18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
21 For 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.
22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
23 ¶ “Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.
24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 ¶ “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.
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
29 ¶ “Immediately after the tribulation of those days 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.
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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.
31 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.
|14 ¶ “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house.
16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter.
19 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.
20 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.
21 ¶ “Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it.
22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
23 But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.
24 ¶ “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27 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.
|20 ¶ “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.
21 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.
22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
23 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.
24 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 until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 ¶ “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;
26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
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 there will 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 will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are 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 do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will 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: