When Shall These Things Be?

17 May
Olivet Prophecy

from Google Images

Luke’s account of the Olivet Prophecy is similar to both Matthew’s and Mark’s account. However, it also differs in some very interesting ways, and perhaps troubling ways, especially when comparing Luke to Matthew, because some believe the prophecy points to a yet future coming of Jesus.[1] Luke’s account of the disciples’ question is, “Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” (Luke 21:7).[2] However, Matthew has it, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). The “when shall these things be” agree in both accounts, but Luke’s “…what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” differs from Matthew’s “…what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (age)?” So, the question is: does Luke really differ from Matthew?

Perhaps the basis of the argument for a yet future (second) coming of Christ comes from an understanding that Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only,” represents a division in the Olivet Prophecy. That is, in Matthew 24:4-34 Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, but, from verse-36 and following, Jesus spoke of his Second Coming. In other words, the alleged future coming of Christ is interpreted through an understanding that Matthew 24:36 represents a division in the Olivet Prophecy. Jesus’ coming to judge Jerusalem in 70 AD is represented in what comes before verse-36, but afterward Jesus speaks of his ‘coming’ at the end of the age (Matthew 24:3) or, as some like to put it—the end of time. Can this point of view be supported in Scripture?

I contend that there is but one second coming of Christ, and Matthew 24 has no division marker at verse-36 or anywhere else. Matthew 24 & 25 is one undivided discourse. To be sure, Jesus speaks of his coming from several different vantage points, but everything in the Olivet Discourse describes a single coming, which is what the disciples asked Jesus to describe in Matthew 24:3. That is, what would be the sign leading up to his coming and the end of the age. Notice that a single question is asked. Jesus’ coming at the end of the age is one event, not two. When we seek to make them two events, we distort the question of the four Apostles in Matthew 24:3. Honestly, could the Apostles have fathomed a 2000-year separation between the destruction of Jerusalem and Jesus’ coming in a yet future age?


Point #1

In order for the argument that Matthew 24:36 represents a dividing line between Jesus’ judgment upon Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-35) and his yet future coming (2000 years later or beyond), he would have had to have known with certainty that his alleged ‘yet future’ coming would NOT occur between the time of his crucifixion and 70 AD, when he predicted he would come to judge Jerusalem and the Temple. Yet, Mark 13:32 says that not even Jesus (in his humanity) knew when his (alleged) coming at ‘the end of time’ would occur.


Point #2

If Jesus’ alleged ‘yet future’ coming (2000 years and counting) occurred within that generation and before the Jewish war with Rome (66-70 AD), wouldn’t that make Jesus a false prophet, especially for those whose eschatology assumes Jesus’ Second Coming marks the ‘end of time’ – which, by the way, the Bible never mentions. If time ends at Jesus’ coming, and, if that coming occurred before 70 AD, then there would have been no need to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. Nevertheless, Jesus did predict such a thing would occur.


Point #3

Matthew 24:1-34 does not disclose any knowledge of the “day and hour” of Jesus’ coming to judge Jerusalem in 70 AD. What those verses actually disclose is that Jesus had a general knowledge of when that event would occur, but he had nothing specific to offer his disciples who asked for clarity in Matthew 24:3. For example, he didn’t know if it would occur on a Sabbath day or even during the winter (Matthew 24:20). Secondly, Jesus didn’t know when Daniel’s “abomination that brought desolation” would occur (Matthew 24:15), but, when it did, then the disciples should flee Jerusalem (v.16). This begs the question: was Jesus even able to offer the disciples anything they may not have already known?

The destruction would occur—on any day of the week, during any one of the four seasons of the year, but when they saw the abomination that would bring destruction THEN they should flee. Am I missing something, or wasn’t Jesus able to offer his disciples anything specific about their question: WHEN would these things occur? WHEN would the end of the age be? or WHEN Jesus would come, or WHAT the sign would be of that coming? Beyond general information, what did Jesus offer the four Apostles (Mark 13:3-4, 30)?

Such things as these support the understanding that there is nothing appreciably different between the questions the Apostles asked in Matthew 24:3 and the questions asked in Luke 21:7.[3]


[1] That is, what some refer to as Jesus’ yet future Second Coming. If he came cir. 70 AD to judge Jerusalem and the Temple, should we look for a ‘third’ coming or a second ‘Second Coming’?

[2] This agrees with Mark’s: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:3).

[3] The tenets of this study are based upon William Bell’s You Tube Video.

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Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Gospel of Luke


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