The Christian brethren who claim Matthew 24:36 represents a dividing point in the Olivet Discourse tell us that whatever comes before the but must refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. On the other hand, and according to these same brethren, whatever comes after the but (viz. Matthew 24:36) refers to Jesus’ visible, physical, Second Coming, which is, allegedly, yet in our future. Is this understanding tenable? After all, a simple reading of the text wouldn’t cause anyone to naturally understand a division exists at the word, but. What can be said of these things?
The brethren, who hold to the doctrine of a divided Olivet Discourse, often defend their point of view by saying that the fleeing events recorded in the text refer to Jesus’ warning to flee Jerusalem, while the city was being judged in 70 AD. If the text doesn’t imply a fleeing event, then it refers to the (alleged) yet future Second Coming of Jesus. They point out that all the fleeing events of Matthew 24 occur before verse-36, the so-called ‘dividing’ verse. We have a problem with this understanding, and it comes from the Gospel, according to Luke.
And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:26-32; emphasis mine)
In Matthew 24 the mention of Noah comes after Matthew 24:36, in verses 37 through 39. However, as we see in Luke 17 in “the day when the Son of Man is revealed” he who is on the housetop has no time to pack his stuff, neither should he who is in the field turn back. They needed to flee as well, and their warning was to remember Lot’s wife, who wanted to turn back.
Here’s the problem. Luke changes the order we find in Matthew. Matthew has all the fleeing events neatly packed together before verse-36, the ‘dividing’ verse. His record about Noah comes in Matthew 24:37-39, after the ‘dividing’ verse, and well after all the fleeing events. Nevertheless, Luke mixes up the two. The fleeing events are mixed with his mention of Noah and the days of the Son of Man. He says “in that day” – What day? In the day the Son of man is revealed from heaven, in that day his disciples needed to flee Jerusalem.
This comparison of the two scriptures completely destroys the argument that Matthew 24:26 divides the Olivet Discourse into two different “comings” of the Lord, i.e. into a spiritual coming in 70 AD and an “alleged” future physical coming that has yet to occur. In other words, Matthew’s alleged two coming events are actually one, single event in Luke. Therefore, the doctrine that a fleeing event in Matthew 24 refers only to those verses before Matthew 24:36 is debunked. It simply is not true, and this is based upon scripture according to Luke. And, we need to keep in mind that scripture cannot be used to contradict scripture according to Jesus (John 10:35).