1. The context
2. End of age, not world (v. 3)
3. Worldwide evangelism (v. 14)
4. Abomination of Desolation (v. 15-18)
5. Greatest tribulation ever (v. 21)
6. Eagles, not vultures (v. 28)
7. Sun, moon, and stars (v.29)
8. This generation (v. 34)
9. Matthew 24 cannot be divided
The Context of Matthew 24 is the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70.
The context for Matthew 24 is the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Before you begin to read Matthew 24, read Matthew chapters 21-23. In these chapters Jesus was speaking against the Jewish leaders of that time. He said the kingdom of God would be taken away from the Jews. He pronounced woes on the scribes and Pharisees. At the end of Matthew 23 Jesus said that Jerusalem would be judged. At the beginning of Matthew 24, He said not one stone would be left on another. He was not looking at modern day Jerusalem, but at Jerusalem which was destroyed in A.D.70. So the context for the Olivet Discourse has nothing to do with our future.
End of the Age, Not End of The World
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
The disciples asked Jesus about the end of the age. The New testament confirms that the first century Christians were living at the end of the age. That is to say they were living at the end of the Old Covenant era which passed away in A.D. 70.
It is important to note that in Matthew 24:3 the translation "end of the world" in the King James Version is misleading. The Greek word here is not cosmos [world], but aion, meaning eon or age. The disciples were asking about the end of the age, not world.
The authors of the New testament said they were living at the end of the age.
1 Corinthians 7:31
31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
1 Corinthians 10:11
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
The Bible teaches that the Earth will never end.
And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth which He has established forever. (Psalm 78:69)
His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” (Psalms 89:36-37)
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. (Psalm 93:1)
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.”(Psalm 96:10)
You who laid the foundations of the earth, So that it should not be moved forever,(Psalm 104:5)
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.(Psalm 119:90)
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.(Psalm 145:13)
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away.(Psalm 148:4-6)
One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.(Ecclesiastes 1:4)
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7)
And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33)
to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.(Ephesians 3:21)
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
The Gospel Was Preached To The Whole World Before 70 A.D.
In the Olivet Discourse Jesus told His disciples the Gospel would be preached to the whole world before the end came.. The New Testament confirms that these words of Christ were fulfilled before 70 A.D. during the lifetime of the disciples. Scripture interprets Scripture. The Gospel was preached to the known world, the Roman Empire.
When the Bible uses global language like "world" and "under heaven" it does not mean literally the entire earth, including China, Australia, South and North America. It means the known world at that time which was the Roman Empire. Consider these verses:
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
Acts 11:28 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.
6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.
5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
The New Testament confirms that the Gospel was preached to the whole world (the Roman Empire) before A.D. 70. Consider these verses:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world."
5because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;
23if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
However interpreted, Paul made it clear that the words of Christ in Matthew 24:14 were fulfilled in his own time.
The Abomination of Desolation15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. (Matthew 24:15-18)
The abomination of desolation was the Roman armies under General Titus destroying the Temple in A.D. 70. We can be sure of this by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Just look at the parallel passage in Luke.20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
So the abomination of desolation is not the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem today. It was the destruction of Herod's Temple in the Jewish War of A.D.70.
Also, if the great tribulation is a future global fire or if Christians are going to be raptured out, then why did Jesus say not to go in your house or back to get your clothes. This judgment in Matthew 24 is obviously a local judgment. If it were a global judgment what difference would it make where you were on earth, whether inside your house or on your roof top. Jesus is clearly telling the disciples to flee Jerusalem when they saw the armies approaching.
Greatest Tribulation Ever
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
The language that Jesus used in Matt. 24:21 is a hyperbole, an extreme exaggeration to make a point. Jesus applied this verse to the destruction of Jerusalem in the Jewish War (66-70 A.D). This kind of symbolic language was common in the Old Testament whereas if it is taken literally it yields contradictions. For example compare the following two verses.
2 Kings 18:5
He (Hezekiah) trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.
2 Kings 23:25
Now before him (Josiah) there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him
How can Hezekiah and Josiah both be the most devoted kings of all time. They cannot. The language is obviously hyperbolic. This hyperbolic language was also applied to other earthly judgments besides 70 A.D.
And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and rested on all the territory of Egypt. They were very severe; previously there had been no such locusts as they, nor shall there be such after them.
Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again.
And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations
And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
"At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered,
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the morning clouds spread over the
A people come, great and strong,
The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them,
Even for many successive generations
So Matt. 24:21 is a hyperbole borrowed from the Old Testament used to describe the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Another line of thinking is that the first century Jews crucified Jesus. Their crime was the worst in history. Therefore their punishment was the worst in history covenantally speaking. Worst crime = Worst punishment. Israel was divorced by God as His covenant people. Never again would the Jews have a special status with God. Now in Christ their is neither Jew nor Greek.
Finally, the futurist believe the upcoming tribulation will kill only 1/4 to 1/2 of the world's population. They also believe Noah's flood wiped out the entire world's population except for one family! So shouldn't Noah's flood be the greatest tribulation in their view? Though in reality Noah's flood was local, not global.
Eagles, Not Vultures
For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. (Matthew 24:28)
Verse 28 in the original Greek reads eagles, not vultures. Many translations use the word vultures because they assume it is vultures. The eagle was the symbol for the Roman Empire. Therefore Jesus is using the symbol eagles to denote the Roman siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The carcass was apostate Israel which was void of life because they rejected Christ. The Greek word is "aetos" which means eagles, not vultures. It is number 105 in the Strong's Concordance. Vulture is simply made up by modern translators. Matthew 24:28 can serve as a test for the accuracy of Bible translations.
Sun, Moon, and Stars
Immediately after the tribulation of those days
the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give
its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the
powers of the heavens will be shaken.(Matthew 24:29)
At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus said, the
universe will collapse: the light of the sun and the
moon will be extinguished, the stars will fall, the
powers of the heavens will be shaken. The basis for
this symbolism is in Genesis 1:14-16, where the sun,
moon, and stars (“the powers of the heavens”) are
spoken of as “signs” which “govern” the world. Later
in Scripture, these heavenly lights are used to speak
of earthly authorities and governors; and when God
threatens to come against them in judgment, the same
collapsing-universe terminology is used to describe
it. Prophesying the fall of Babylon to the Medes in
539 B. C., Isaiah wrote:
Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with
fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation;
And He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the
stars of heaven and their constellations Will not
flash forth with their light; The sun will be dark
when it rises, And the moon will not shed its light
Significantly, Isaiah later prophesied the fall of
Edom in terms of de-creation:
And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky
will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will
also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine, Or
as one withers from the fig tree (Isaiah 34:4),
Isaiah’s contemporary, the prophet Amos, foretold
the doom of Samaria (722 B.C.) in much the same way:
“And it will come about in that day,” Declares the
Lord GOD, “That I shall make the sun go down at noon
And make the earth dark in broad daylight” (Amos 8:9).
Another example is from the prophet Ezekiel, who
predicted the destruction of Egypt. God said this
“And when I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens,
and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a
cloud, And the moon shall not give its light. All the
shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you
And will set darkness on your land,” Declares the Lord
GOD (Ezekiel 32:7-8).
It must be stressed that none of these events
literally took place. God did not intend anyone to
place a literalist construction on these statements.
Poetically, however, all these things did happen: as
far as these wicked nations were concerned, "the
lights went out." This is simply figurative language,
which would not surprise us at all if we were more
familiar with the Bible and appreciative of its
What Jesus is saying in Matthew 24, therefore, in
prophetic terminology immediately recognizable by his
disciples, is that the light of Israel is going to be
extinguished; the covenant nation will cease to exist.
When the Tribulation is over, old Israel will be gone.
This Generation (Their generation, not ours)
34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
A generation in Scripture is 40 years. Jesus clearly said their generation would live to see all these things. Some futurist suppose that "this generation" means the generation alive when these things start to take place. But that is a little redundant isn't it? That is like saying, "the generation alive when these things take place will be the generation alive when these things take place." This interpretation is sheer nonsense! Modern day false prophets like Grant Jeffrey have had to alter their interpretation from a 40-year generation to a generation meaning anyone who is still alive. They have had to change the meaning of generation since 1948 was more than 40 years ago. Futurist just make up their theology as they go along. Nobody holds them accountable.
Some futurist say that "generation" means the Jewish race. The word generation appears about 27 times in the Gospels. Not once in context does it ever mean the Jewish race. So why all of a sudden does it mean Jewish race in Matthew 24:34?
Matthew 24 Cannot Be Divided
Many Christians try to divide Matthew into two sections. One section is usually verses 1-34 which they say occurred in A.D.70.The truth is all of Matthew 24 is about God's coming in judgment against apostate Israel in A.D.70. Jesus used the second person word "you" several times in the so called first section of Matthew 24 (verses 1-34). He was talking to His disciples. Well, He continues to use the word "you" in the so called second section of Matthew 24 (verses 35 ff). Therefore Matthew 24 cannot be divided into two parts. It is one discourse. Also, Ed Stevens' chart in his book What Happened in 70 A.D? clearly shows that Matthew 24 cannot be divided. If you compare Matthew 24 with Luke 17 you can see that Matthew 24 stands united. For if the Matthew 24 were talking about two events (A.D. 70 and a supposed future Second Coming) then Luke 17 is mixing the two different subjects up, going back and forth between the two. The disciples would have been totally confused.