The Lord left the temple and withdrew from the multitudes. His final ministry now turned to the disciples. Prompted by the disciples’ question about the signs of the Lord’s coming and of the end time, He delivered the last discourse, also known as the Olivet Discourse (24:1- 25:46). In this lesson, we will look at the first part of the discourse, which predicts the progression of events leading up to Christ’s return, warns against deceiving claims, and instructs us to be watchful.
Did You Know...?
- “Not one stone shall be left here upon another” (24:2): Fulfilled literally in A.D. 70, when the Romans under Titus completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple buildings. Stones were even pried apart to collect the gold leaf that melted from the roof when the temple was set on fire. Excavations in 1968 uncovered large numbers of these stones, toppled from the walls by the invaders. [ref]
- Abomination of desolation (24:15): The detestable thing causing the desolation of the holy place. The primary reference in Daniel…was to 168 B.C., when Antiochus Epiphanes erected a pagan altar to Zeus on the sacred altar in the temple of Jerusalem. According to some, there were still two more stages in the progressive fulfillment of the predictions in Daniel and Matthew: (1) The Roman destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 and (2) the setting up of an image of the antichrist in Jerusalem. [ref]
- Housetop (24:17): Most roofs were flat (cf. Deut 22:8; Mark 2:4; Acts 10:9)—pleasant places in the cool of the day. Verse 17 implies such haste that fugitives will not take time to run downstairs for anything to take with them but will run from roof to roof to evacuate the city as quickly as possible (cf. Jos. Antiq. XIII, 140 [v.3]). [ref]
- The Disciples Coming to Jesus (24:1-3)
- Times of Great Distress (24:4-22)
- Warning against Deception (24:23-28)
- Coming of the Son of Man (24:29-31)
- Knowing that the Time Is Near (24:32-35)
- Hour of His Coming Unknown (24:36-44)
- Good Servant and Evil Servant (24:45-51)
Which verses describe the following events or stages? a. The fall of Jerusalem; b. The period of distress before the end; c. The end and the coming of the Son of Man:Hide Answer
a. The fall of Jerusalem:
2, 15-20, possibly 21 also.
b. The period of distress before the end:
4-14, 21-28, 32-35
c. The end and the coming of the Son of Man:
27, 29-31, 36-44, possibly 15-20 also (cf Lk 17:30-35).
What things might affect the faith of Christians and even cause them to forsake the truth?Hide Answer
Persecutions (9-10). Deception of false prophets (11). Lawlessness (12).
Which of these do you see occurring today?
What will the coming of Christ be like?Hide Answer
Cosmic chaos (29). Sign in heaven (30). Great mourning (30) Son of Man coming on the clouds with power and great glory (30). Sending out of angels with a great sound of a trumpet to gather the elect (31). He will come at an unknown hour (36, 42, 44).
What was the purpose of this discourse? To answer this question, list all the imperatives (instructions) that may apply to us.Hide Answer
Take heed that no one deceives us (4). Do not be troubled (6). Endure to the end (13). Do not believe false alarms (23,26). Know that the end is near when seeing the signs (32-33). Watch (42). Be ready (44).
What three questions did the disciples ask?Hide Answer
When will the temple be destroyed? What will be the sign of Christ’s coming? What will be the sign of the end of the age?
Why did the disciples show Jesus the buildings of the temple?Hide Answer
They were impressed by the beauty of these magnificent structures (Mk 13:1; Lk 21:5).
What events will signify that the end is near?Hide Answer
Rise of false prophets (5,11,24). Wars and rumors of wars (6,7a). Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes (7b). Persecution and hatred (9- 10). Lawlessness leading to decrease in love (12).
What marks the beginning of the “end”?Hide Answer
The preaching of the gospel in all the world (14).
Why is it important that the gospel must first be preached in all the world?Hide Answer
The gospel will be a witness to the whole world (14). All peoples will have a chance to hear the gospel and repent before the final judgment comes. The gospel, which proclaims the final judgment, serves as warning to all (Rom 2:16). For those who refuse the gospel, their unbelief will be the reason for their condemnation (2Thess 1:7,8).
Why must the residents of Judea flee?Hide Answer
Armies will take the city of Jerusalem and kill its inhabitants (Lk 21:20).
How would the false christs and false prophets deceive?Hide Answer
They will claim to be the Christ and draw many followers (5,11). They will show great signs and wonders (24).
Knowing their means of deception, how can we discern and guard against false christs and false prophets?Hide Answer
We should discern whether their doctrines and conduct conform to the teachings of the apostles (Gal 1:6-9; 1Jn 4:1-6).
What does it mean that “the coming of the Son of Man will be like the flashing of lightning from east to west”?Hide Answer
The coming of Christ will be visible throughout the world. He will not be in the desert or in the inner rooms (26).
“Eagle” in 28 should be translated as vultures. What does the image of carcass and vultures represent?Hide Answer
Jesus is quoting a proverb (cf Job 39:30). If the “for” in 28 is linked to 26 and 27, then it would mean that just as it is impossible for vultures to miss the carcass, it would be impossible for anyone to not see the coming of Christ. But if 28 is a continuation of 21 and 22 and refers to the period of great tribulation, it may mean that a great number of people worldwide will die during this period (cf Lk 17:37).
What are “all these things” in 33?Hide Answer
The period of great distress predicted in 4-28.
What is “near and at the doors”?Hide Answer
The end of all things and the coming of Christ.
Why did Jesus include the saying in 34-35?Hide Answer
He is stressing the certainty of His predictions. Against the drastic changes and final chaos that will take place, Christ’s words will stand firm through the ages. So we can always remind ourselves of Christ’s promises and warnings about the end time as we eagerly wait for his coming.
Why did Jesus repeatedly emphasize that He will come at an hour we do not know?Hide Answer
We should be ready at all times. If someone who knows when the thief will come would prepare for that hour, how much more should we be ready since we do not know the hour?
What lesson can we learn from the generation of Noah?Hide Answer
The people of Noah’s generation ignored Noah’s warning. The flood came suddenly and destroyed them all. We must be watchful and not lose sight of Christ’s coming. Our hearts must be sober and not be entangled by the cares and pleasures of this world (Lk 21:34-36).
How does the picture of “one taken, one left” add to the impact of Jesus’ warning?Hide Answer
He will come suddenly when people do not expect Him. While everyone still carries out their daily routines, some will be taken (probably referring to the gathering in 31) while others left behind.
How was the good servant faithful and wise?Hide Answer
He was faithful in carrying out the duties that the master had entrusted him. He was wise because he was able to manage the entire house and was always ready for the master’s return.
What does 45 tell us about our Christian responsibilities and the meaning of being ready?Hide Answer
Being ready does not mean being idle. God in His grace has given each of us gifts to help build up the church. It is our responsibility to minister the gift to others so that everyone in God’s house may enjoy the manifold grace of God and be ready for Christ’s return (1Pet 4:7-11; Heb 10:24,25).
How has the evil servant ignored Jesus’ warnings?Hide Answer
He made the false assumption that the master will delay in his return. But false assumption is the very thing that Jesus warns us against. Since we do not know the day nor the hour, we must be ready at all times.
Specifically, how are you preparing for the master’s return?