PMT 2014-136 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
The Olivet Discourse is an important key to New Testament prophecy. It is found in the three Synoptic Gospels at Matt 24–25; Mark 13; and Luke 21. I believe also that John’s Gospel does not have it because John re-casts it in dramatic, symbolic imagery in his Book of Revelation. After all, John titles his great prophetic work: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1). And it certainly reflects the Olivet Discourse in a number of places (e.g., cp. Luke 21:24 with Rev 11:2; Matt 23:35 with Rev 18:24).
This Discourse is the Lord’s climactic prophecy which he gives not long before his public rejection by Israel (Matt 23:37), condemnation by her high-priestly aristocracy (Matt 26:65–66), and crucifixion at the insistence of that legal body (Matt 27:1–2, 12, 20–22). In Jesus’ ministry, several distinct prophecies lead up to this grand finale; but this is clearly his most focused and sustained prophecy from his teaching ministry.
According to the Olivet Discourse’s historical context in first-century Jerusalem, its literary context in Matthew’s Gospel, and its prophetic statements appearing within, its first portion (found in Matt 24:4–34) clearly points to AD 70. This historical era witnesses the destruction of the Jewish temple, which dramatically, publically, and finally ends the old covenant and its typological worship.
Looking to this event the writer of Hebrews explains: “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear” (Heb 8:13). This is why Jesus earlier informs the Samaritan woman: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father” (John 4:21).
This removal of the old covenant focus on one ethnic people, one defined land, and one localized temple is necessary due to the expansion of God’s covenantal dealings with man in the new covenant. Jesus parabolically describes this redemptive-historical reorientation: “No one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matt 9:16–17).
The Lord frequently warns of the severity of this AD 70 event for the Jews. For instance, note these few samples:
• “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:11–12).
• “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust” (Matt 21:43–44).
• “The king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire” (Matt 22:7).
Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (by Ken Gentry)
Technical studies on Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, the great tribulation,
Paul’s Man of Sin, and John’s Revelation.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
But now: Why do I say that the first portion of Olivet points to AD 70, and not to the Second Advent? The language seems so dramatic. Why do we apply it to that local event long ago? In my next article I will summarily present the argument supporting the AD 70 interpretation.