As we go through the Olivet Discourse, as found in the synoptic gospels, we want to – as best we can – dissect the information given, offer Biblical and practical observations concerning each presentation, present some corroborating Scripture, and seek to better understand how our Lord structured His discourse and what each gospel writer is uniquely presenting to the reader.
The reader will also note that several previously written articles are embedded within these three studies of the Olivet Discourse. Because I have written much on this subject – and other topics that come up within this study – these hyperlinks have been added so that the reader can dig deeper into the subject matter at hand. Due to space constraints, these hyperlinks in a few of the passages will be the only commentary available, so I highly encourage the reader to utilize them.
Because the Olivet Discourse is found in some places to be essentially the same in all three accounts, the reader will note that some of the material will be virtually identical. But there are also many other variations found within the accounts, so the reader should find that there is also a substantial amount of uniqueness to the three articles.
We will also have a fourth article that will attempt to combine all three accounts into one cohesive unit entitled The Olivet Discourse in its Entirety with links to the first three articles attributed to each synoptic gospel where the Olivet Discourse is found.
Outline for the Olivet Discourse
When it comes to an outline for the Olivet Discourse, there is a cut-off line, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” This amazing verse separates the Olivet Discourse in all three synoptic gospels where it is presented into two unique segments.
Everything before this vital verse – including The Parable of the Fig Tree – is speaking of the church age and going all the way into the Tribulation and up to Christ’s Second Coming when He gathers Israel (His “elect”) back to Israel, with the rapture of the church entirely omitted.
Everything after this important verse, in each synoptic gospel’s presentation of the Olivet Discourse, Christ is speaking to His disciples exclusively as representing the church as He teaches them the rapture!
Matthew 25:1-13, the Parable of the 10 Virgins, also speaks of the rapture with the contrast of five wise virgins (true converts) and five foolish virgins (false converts).
Likewise, Matthew 25:14-30 is a parable of Christ’s return for His bride, represented as servants, who will be accountable to the “talents,” gifts, and resources the Lord had entrusted to each of His professing servants. All were true converts except the last – who showed himself to be a false convert – as he was cast into outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mark 13 is where we find Mark’s account of the Olivet Discourse.
The Disciples’ Questions
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:3-4).
Though Jesus does answer His disciple’s questions to a certain degree, it cannot be missed that He probably did not answer in the way they were anticipating or in the way that we, the reader, might expect Him to answer these inquiries.
One feature we can be certain of, though, is that He gave the answers He wanted to give us and the answers we all need to hear to prepare the body of Christ and the Jewish remnant for the last of the last days.
“And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Mark 13:5-6). [God’s Strong Delusion & The Father of Lies]
Wars and Rumors of Wars
“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” (Mark 13:7).
The world has had “wars and rumours of wars” since Christ uttered these words. Our Lord summarizes, “for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.”
The world has experienced two World Wars in just the last 100 years or so. We can and should expect that wars and rumors of war will increase – as will the other signs – with frequency and intensity until the Lord takes His bride home to be with Him forevermore, and will continue until the Second Coming.
Nation Against Nation
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Mark 13:8a).
As is so commonly known, the Greek word translated “nation” is 1484 ἔθνος “ethnos” and is obviously where the words “ethnic” or “ethnicity” originated from. Therefore, we are looking at not only nation against nation but ethnicity against ethnicity, which should be obvious because nations were originally institutionalized by ethnic and cultural factors as God separated and dispersed the nations along tribal and linguistic lines after He confused the languages at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).
However, as the world’s language barriers have been diminished and people have been migrating to other nations for thousands of years, the nations and their unique ethnic characteristics and identities have become blurred. This gives rise to an increasing likelihood of ethnicity against ethnicity within each nation, causing immense problems within one’s own borders.
We have been observing this prophecy within the United States for virtually our entire existence, and thanks to political aims and nefarious intents to divide and conquer, we have fared no better down through the years. In fact, the ethnic violence appears to be increasing at an alarming rate because evil forces are fervently at work to destroy the United States from within.
Other nations, as well, are just as vulnerable as we are, as we have been witnessing on a daily basis.
Earthquakes, Famines, and the Beginnings of Sorrows
“… and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mark 13:8b).
As is so well documented, earthquakes have been increasing in frequency and intensity, especially in the last 50 years or so.
Of course, these earthquakes will climax into some of the most incredibly destructive seismic events that earth will have ever experienced during the Tribulation!
The same applies equally for famines and troubles, or a “stirring up”: the closer we get to the Tribulation, the more intense and destructive they will become, and will ultimately climax in the Tribulation itself.
All of the above, since Christ uttered these Words, are general signs that have been present in the Church age and will increase with frequency and intensity as the Tribulation approaches, as they “are the beginnings of sorrows.”
Persecution of Apostles, Church, and Post-Rapture Tribulation Saints
What we see in the following verses, specifically Mark 13:9-13, is a blended prophecy that encapsulates both church-age believers and Tribulation saints. A significant reason we know that this is a blended prophecy is because immediately following these verses is the Abomination of Desolation, so we should expect that these conditions mentioned in Mark 13:9-13 will also be present from the rapture of the church until the midway point of the Tribulation.
“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” (Mark 13:9).
Jesus’ statement in Mark 13:9 will be the experience of Jewish and Gentile believers throughout the church age.
Those that are delivered to “councils” are those who have been, and will be, persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. “Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels” (Isaiah 47:13). [Isaiah 47: The Daughter of Babylon]
Obviously, the Jewish believers in Yeshua have been, and will be, persecuted by their brethren in the flesh and have been, and will be, taken to their “councils” and “the synagogues,” and they “shall be beaten.”
And, of course, beginning with Peter and John in the Temple, Paul’s experiences in Acts, and followed by other Saints down through the centuries, Christian Jews and Gentiles have been “brought before rulers and kings for [Christ’s] sake, for a testimony against them.”
These three elements – persecution from the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish religion (which will go from the synagogue to the third Temple in the Tribulation), and the world at large – will also be present during The Gap [Revelation 6: Our Marriage and The Gap] between the rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation and going on into the middle of the Tribulation when, finally, the 10 kings will destroy the Roman Catholic Church and hand their kingdoms over to the Antichrist for the last half of the Tribulation (Revelation 17:12-13, 16-18). During this Great Tribulation, the Tribulation Saints will experience intense testing, trials, persecution, and tribulation.
Publishing – or proclaiming – the gospel among all nations can be considered a dual prophecy. While the church, by the time of the rapture, should have a majority of the world preached to in the Name of Messiah Yeshua, this prophecy will certainly be realized and perfected during the Tribulation. Between the 144,000 Israeli evangelists (Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5), the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11), and the angel preaching the everlasting gospel to the whole earth from the midst of heaven at the midway point of the Tribulation (Revelation 14:6-7), this prophecy will certainly be fulfilled. [Revelation 14: Tribulation Outline]
“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” (Mark 13:11).
A powerful verse for both church-age believers and Tribulation saints, to be sure. The Holy Spirit will be present in each group of believers [QFTBOC: Salvation in the Tribulation], though only one – the church – can be called the bride of Christ.
This advice – though intended for God’s people who are persecuted – is great advice for all the Lord’s people down through the church age and into and through the Tribulation. The Holy Spirit should always be our guide in all situations, especially in times of trouble and persecution.
Of course, it always serves the child of God well to know the Scriptures; so study hard, Saint!
“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. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:12-13).
All of these verses speaking of persecution hearkens back to our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount at the beginning of His ministry.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
Two additional passages come to my mind.
The first is from Peter to the church:
“And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:13-15).
The second passage is a message from heaven to the Great Tribulation Saints:
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:12-13).
I have no doubt that these verses – Mark 13:12-13 – is primarily a prophecy for the Tribulation saints, though this has also been the experience of many Christians down through the centuries.
As far as the church age, Muslim converts immediately come to one’s mind.
But, again, these words are primarily directed to Israeli and Gentile believers who will go through the Tribulation as newly converted Saints.
Abomination of Desolation
“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: 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: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment” (Mark 13:14-16). [A Study of Zechariah 14:1-11]
“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” (Mark 13:19).
The Great Tribulation will indeed be days of affliction!
The Days Shortened
“And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days” (Mark 13:20).
Truly, if the Tribulation was any longer, there would be no survivors of the horrors that will have come upon the earth and the universal destruction that will be visibly seen in the heavens.
A Waring Concerning False Christs, False Prophets, Antichrist, and the False Prophet
“And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not” (Mark 13:21). [Revelation 13 – The Beast, Revelation 13 – The Antichrist, Revelation 13 – The False Prophet & The Mark, and Elijah and TheFalse Prophet]
When the Antichrist is ready to disclose himself to the world as God, his right-hand man, known as the False Prophet, will introduce him to the world.
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:11-12).
Many false “Messiahs” and false prophets have indeed deceived their followers by their false “signs and wonders” through the centuries. We have seen the same in our day with the false “signs and wonders” movements, as just one example.
But ultimately, it will be the Antichrist and False Prophet who “shall rise and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.”
“And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live” (Revelation 13:13-14).
“But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things” (Mark 13:23).
As our Lord so graciously does, He always forewarns His people of the things to come.
Conditions at the End of the Tribulation
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken” (Mark 13:24-25).
Yeshua likens the conditions of the end of the Tribulation with words commensurate with Joel.
“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 3:15).
The Second Coming
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
Gathering Together Israel
“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” (Mark 13:27). [A Study of Zechariah 14:12-21 and Hosea 2:14-23– Israel: God’s Betrothed]
“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” (Matthew 24:31).
The phrase, “from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven,” in Mark 13:27, is synonymous with the ends of the earth – height, length, and depth – or as Matthew’s Olivet Discourse puts it, “from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
The first item on the Lord’s agenda, after destroying His enemies, will be to “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.” We know these “elect” to be the children of Israel, as Moses himself said of Israel after they should rebel against God, and He would scatter them amongst the nations (Deuteronomy 4:15-28):
“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?” (Deuteronomy 4:29-32). (emphasis mine)
When Israel does finally turn to their Messiah during the Great Tribulation, the Lord will deliver them. God even encourages them to “ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it” when Messiah Yeshua will “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.”
The entire idea behind Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27 is that Christ will have His holy angels gather together all of believing Israel to usher in His Millennial Kingdom and fulfill all of the precious promises God has made to her!
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done” (Mark 13:28-30).
The Olivet Discourse Cut-Off Line
“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31).
Here is the divine cut-off line that separates the Olivet Discourse into two distinct segments. The first section leads up and concludes with Messiah Yeshua’s Second Coming and The Parable of the Fig Tree, and the second segment addresses Christ’s teaching of the rapture. This is true in all three synoptic gospels where the Olivet Discourse is presented.
Teaching the Rapture
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32).
No one knows when the rapture will occur – as this has been put into the Father’s authority – because The Imminency of the Rapture was always taught by our Lord and His Apostles as recorded for us in His Holy Word.
When it comes to the unbiblical desire to try and set a day or a date for the rapture, no Christian should ever be found guilty of Rapture Soothsaying. Even our Lord Jesus Christ does not know this exact day or divinely appointed time because this decision has been firmly placed into the Father’s hands and power.
“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).
No man, no angel, not the Son Himself “knows … when the time is.” So, take heed, Saint — watch and pray!
A Parable of the Rapture
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch” (Mark 13:34).
Our Lord begins to teach us a very short parable where He, as the Son of Man, is “taking a far journey,” which alludes to His manifestation of living in heaven as our advocate with the Father during the church age.
Our Master has “left His house” here on earth and has given “authority to His servants, and to every man his work” in carrying out His Great Commission.
Yeshua also commands His “porter to watch” – a person who has charge of a door or gate – which is very interesting, for this harkens back to what Christ said in the gospel of John.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (John 10:1-4). (emphasis mine)
But who is this Porter that “openeth” in John 10:3 and the Porter that is commanded to watch in Mark 13:34? I believe we see an allusion to the Holy Spirit as the entity that convicts every man and woman of sin and brings into the sheepfold those who respond to saving faith in Messiah Yeshua, our Good Shepherd.
If the Porter, or the doorkeeper, is the Holy Spirit, who or what is He to watch for? Well, we would do well to remember that this is a parable, and parables are not supposed to be adamantly defined literally. But, if I were to venture an educated guess, I would suspect that He is to be watching over the sheep of the fold – the servants of the Master – and watching also for the Master’s return.
Remember what Jesus said concerning the Holy Spirit who was to come?
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:16-18).
Next, Jesus has a warning for the Master’s servants.
“Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning” (Mark 13:35).
Yeshua said, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
What exactly is going on here?
We must remember that Christ is giving us a parable and a parable is to be taken illustratively with a spiritual truth that is manifested within the parable.
This verse is not suggesting a day that we will all know but we just won’t know at what part of the day we should expect the Master; rather, it is of a parabolic nature in that we do not know at what part of the “hour” – “divinely set time period” – the Master will be coming. For, as I have noted often, if we do not know the literal day, then we obviously won’t know the literal hour.
The model that Christ is using is that of four different portions within a standard day, but the application is that of an unknown, divinely set time period – something no man, angel, or even the Son of God knows, only the Father. It is all predicated on the truth of an unknown, and we are commanded to be watching, for we “know not when the Master… cometh!”
Thus, in this portion of Christ’s parable, the Master of the house could arrive at any watch in a 24-hour time period and is illustrative of the unknowableness of the rapture. But if the Master’s servants are prepared and watching, His arrival will not catch them by surprise.
“Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping” (Mark 13:36).
“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:6-11).
“And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:37).
For every generation since Christ uttered these words – for almost 2,000 years – the bride of Christ has been commanded to, “Watch!”
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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