Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Key to the Olivet Discourse

"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." (Matthew 24:9)

"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 name's sake." (Luke 21:12)

When we examine the Olivet Discourse as recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, we find that in both Matthew and Luke Jesus starts the same way, saying the exact same thing. Comparing Matthew 24:4-8 and Luke 21:8-11, He speaks of what we call the birth-pangs: wars, earthquakes and pestilences, etc. that must happen before the end shall come. But after telling about these things, in Matthew 24:9 Jesus says "THEN"... but in Luke 21:12 He says "BUT BEFORE ALL THESE THINGS"... So in Matthew Jesus says AFTER these birth pangs such and such will happen, and in Luke He says BEFORE these birth pangs such and such will happen.

What follows in both seems quite similar, and therefore interpreters easily confuse Christ to be speaking about the same thing and about the same time. But though they are similar, Jesus is speaking of two entirely different time frames - "before" and "after" the birth pangs. He speaks of persecution, and when correctly understood we see that He is referring to two totally different but similar times of persecution: the persecution in the days of the 1st century and the persecution at the time of the end. Then interpreters make the mistake of assuming that the "abomination of desolation" in Matthew 24:15 is the same thing as the "desolation of Jerusalem" in Luke 21:20 (though Luke never mentions the word "abomination"). They think Jesus is describing the same event in a different way; but what they fail to see is that Jesus is referring to two totally different time frames because He has already indicated when the described event will take place - either before or after the birth pangs. The abomination of desolation in Matthew is AFTER the birth pangs at the time of the end, and the desolation of Jerusalem in Luke is BEFORE the birth pangs in the 1st century AD. Though the events are similar (ex. He warns both times to flee from Jerusalem), they are not the same. If we simply notice the "after" and "before" of Matt. 24:9 and Luke 21:12 the problem is perfectly cleared up.

Then in Luke 21:25, after "the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled", Luke catches back up with Matthew and picks up the narrative at the end of the age when Christ returns. There is a lengthy amount of time implied in verses 22-24 from the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD to the end of the times of Gentiles.

I believe this is the key to interpreting the Olivet Discourse in Matthew and Luke and refuting the Preterist idea that Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20 are the same event. Though similar, they are definitely not the same, as it can be clearly shown that Jesus is speaking of two completely different times.


Micah and Katie said...

Interesting, I've met a lot of pre tribs here in Moncton (pentecostal circles), so anything on this subject is interesting to me! Keep it coming! Micah

Unknown said...

Hey Eli, is there any way to 'subscribe' to your blog, so that I'd get updates when you make new posts?

Unknown said...

Nevermind. I figured it out, though if you could put a 'Subscribe' button on the page, I would suggest it.


Anonymous said...

Excellent observation, brilliant!