Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Olivet Discourse

At the end of his ministry on earth, Jesus nonchalantly dropped a prophetic bomb on his disciples. Like awestruck tourists, they had been gushing over Herod's Temple complex when Jesus lobbed a grenade into their reverie--it was all coming down. Not one stone would be left upon another! Later, up on the Mount of Olives in the privacy of their campsite, they pressed Jesus as to when this might happen.

All of the Synoptics give an account of Jesus' answer to the disciples. Matthew and Mark are very similar, Luke has a few notable digressions. They all begin the conclusion to their accounts cryptically stating that this generation will not pass away until all these things come to pass. Therefore, “all these things coming to pass” is the key not only to gauging whether or not one is perceiving the correct signs but is applying them to the correct period in time.

Mark and Luke are in substantial agreement as to the substance of the disciples’ question of Jesus. Matthew has them asking something a little bit different. Is this an inconsistency? No, different witnesses give different descriptions and highlight different details in their recounting of the same event, yet all may be truthful and factual.

Luke and Mark, for whatever reason, did not find the detail that Matthew accentuated as striking as did he. Mark and Luke settled for the generality: “what are the signs these things are going to happen?” Matthew was struck by detail: “what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” Mark and Luke allow more leeway to be interpreted preteristically as a result, Matthew definitely cannot be. Since, however, all accounts describe the same event, the detail in Matthew is the telling one.


  1. I believe "this generation will not pass away until all these things come to pass" meant that the generation during the ministry of Jesus would see a prefiguration of all the end-time signs leading up to the return of the Lord in the Olivet Discourse. This approach can combine the best of partial preterism, idealism, and futurism.

    Anyway, every time I hear full preterists say that the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem represented the return of the Lord, I fail to see them incorporate various important messages in the New Testament.

  2. JG,
    Nice to hear from you, as always.

    That is interesting indeed! Dual fulfillment is required in Daniel and Isaiah, and could be helpful in the Olivet Discourse and in portions of the Apocalypse.

    The preterist view is untenable. Too much clear language has to be perverted, and jammed in to circumstances for which it just doesn't fit. I don't know how the Preterist does not make Jesus a false prophet as a result.


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