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Preterism Refutation (Part 3) - Olivet Discourse (Part A)



VI. The Olivet Discourse
1. Preterists believe that the entire Olivet Discourse (Mat 24; Mar 13; Luk 21:5-37) was fulfilled by 70AD.
A. The preterist's interpretation of the Olivet Discourse is not consistent.
B. They argue for a physical, visible destruction of Jerusalem but a spiritual, invisible coming of Christ and a figurative end of the world.
2. For an exhaustive study on the Olivet Discourse, see this sermon series:
3. The following is a basic overview of the Olivet Discourse.

4. Jesus was answering two main questions in the Olivet Discourse (Mat 24:3).

A. "When shall these things be?"
i. This question refers to the destruction of the temple (Mat 24:1-2).
ii. The phrase "these things" is key to understanding the Olivet Discourse.

B. "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
i. This question refers to the second coming of Christ and the end of the world.
ii. This question was likely prompted by what Jesus had just previously said to the Jews about His second coming (Mat 23:39).
iii. Jesus had also previously taught about "the end of the world" (Mat 13:37-43; Mat 13:49-50) when the wicked will be cast into the lake of fire and the righteous will be glorified, which happens at the last day (Joh 6:39-40; Joh 11:24) at the final judgment (Mat 25:31-46).
a. He didn't tell them when the end of the world would happen in Matthew 13 though.
b. Hence the reason they asked when it would happen in Mat 24:3.
C. The disciples didn't think that national Israel was going to be destroyed and done away with anytime soon.
i. It is likely that the disciples assumed that the temple would stand until the second coming of Christ at the end of the world when He would return to destroy the world (2Pe 3:10-13).
ii. They assumed that the temple would be destroyed at the end of the world when Jesus returned.
iii. This is why their two questions were asked together right after Jesus said that the temple would be destroyed.
iv. They did not expect that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed anytime soon (Act 1:6).
v. Nor did they think that God had a plan and a season for the Gentiles (Act 10:34-35 c/w Act 11:1-2, 18).
vi. The whole point of the Olivet Discourse was to show them that Jerusalem was not going to be destroyed at the second coming.

D. The purpose of the Olivet Discourse was to explain to them that these two events (the destruction of Jerusalem and the second coming/end of the world) were entirely separate and distinct events.
i. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple would happen within their lifetimes and would be preceded by signs which would allow them to know that the time was near.
ii. The date of the second coming/end of the world is entirely unknown and there would be no sign that would let them know that the time was near.

5. Overview of the Olivet Discourse.
A. Why the Olivet Discourse is written as it is
i. In Mat 24:4-29 Jesus described what would happen leading up to and including the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.
ii. In Mat 24:30-31 Jesus described what would happen at His second coming.
iii. In Mat 24:32-35 Jesus explained when the temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed.
iv. In Mat 24:36-51 Jesus explained that we cannot know when His second coming will take place.

B. Mat 24:4-13
i. This passage applies primarily to 70AD.
ii. But many of the tumultuous things mentioned (both environmental, political, and spiritual) are characteristic of the end times as well.
iii. See the sermon: Olivet Discourse (Part 1) - Mat 24:4-13.

C. Mat 24:14-29
i. This passage applies to 66-70AD (the events of v.29 began at that time and continued until the coming of Christ).
ii. The events that Jesus warned of in this passage would take place over a period of time which He referred to as "those days" (Mat 24:19, 22, 29).
a. This is set in clear contrast to "that day" when Christ would return the second time to destroy the world (Mat 24:36).
b. "That day" would like "the day" that Noah entered the ark when God destroyed the world (Mat 24:38-39).
iii. The abomination of desolation was the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem (Mat 24:15 c/w Luk 21:20).
iv. When the disciples saw this happen, they were to flee from Judea (Mat 24:16-20).
v. The severity of the tribulation of those days when Jerusalem was besieged was unparalleled in human history (Mat 24:21).
a. The horrors that the Jews faced within the city by the Jewish Zealots (those that were rebelling against Rome) and at the hands of the Romans outside the city were unspeakable.
b. The casualties were 100%, either due to death (about 90%) or to being sold as slaves (10%).
c. See sermon: Olivet Discourse (Part 2) - Mat 24:14-22.

vi. There were false Christs that would arise in those days, but Jesus warned the disciples to not believe them (Mat 24:23-26).
a. The reason being that the second coming of Christ would be seen unmistakably in the sky like lightning (Mat 24:27).
b. This did not happen in 70AD.
c. This is completely contrary to the preterist idea of an unseen return of Christ in 70AD.
d. See sermon: Olivet Discourse (Part 3) - Mat 24:23-31.

vii. Immediately after the tribulation of those days there would begin political upheaval which would last for the rest of time until Christ returns (Mat 24:29).
a. It is evident that Christ is not here speaking of a literal darkening of the sun and moon or falling stars, but rather these are signifying something else (Luk 21:25).
b. These things indicate a state of judgment; a collapse of power.
c. These events are not limited to the destruction of Jerusalem in 66-70AD because they were to happen after the tribulation of those days (Mat 24:29).
d. The system of Gentile world empires started to come apart from that day and forward.
e. With the destruction of the apostate Jewish order, there was a judgment upon the spiritual forces that had animated it in its apostasy (Mat 12:43-45).
(i) Behind the scenes of the war in Judaea, another war was taking place (Rev 12:1-10; Luk 21:31).
(ii) Thus, the powers of the heavens were shaken.
f. In connection with the powers of the heavens being shaken, this age has been characterized by political chaos (Luk 21:25-26).
g. If there is never a time when the sun, moon and stars are literally overthrown, then how can this figure properly represent the overthrow of earthly dominion?
h. See sermon: Olivet Discourse (Part 3) - Mat 24:23-31.

D. Mat 24:30-31
i. This passage applies to the second coming and the end of the world.
a. Notice the change in pronouns from the previous section when Jesus was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem and the events leading up to it to this section when He spoke of His second coming.
(i) Jesus used the pronouns "ye" and "you" when referring to the events leading up to 70AD.
1. Mat 24:15 - When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation...
2. Mat 24:20 - But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter...
3. Mat 24:23 - Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
4. Mat 24:26 - Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
(ii) When Jesus began answering the second question about His appearance at the second coming, He switched to the pronoun "they" (all the tribes of the earth).
1. Mat 24:30 - And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
2. Jesus didn't say that the disciples would see Him coming in the clouds, but that all the tribes of the earth would.
(iii) When Jesus returned to the first question concerning the timing of the destruction of Jerusalem, He switched back to the pronouns "ye" and "you."
1. Mat 24:32 - Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
2. Mat 24:33 - So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
3. Mat 24:34 - Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
(iv) When Jesus talked about the timing of the second coming, He also used "ye" and "your" because the disciples did not know when it would happen and they, like the rest of mankind, needed to be ever watchful and ready for it.
1. Mat 24:42 - Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
2. Mat 24:44 - Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

ii. Mat 24:30 opens up with "And then..."
a. Then adv. - II. Of sequence in time, order, consequence, incidence, inference. 3. a. At the moment immediately following the action, etc. just spoken of; upon that, thereupon, directly after that; also in wider application, indicating the action or occurrence next in order of time: next, after that, afterwards, subsequently (often in contrast to first).
(i) Notice that "then" can refer to the next occurrence in order of time.
(ii) In the context of the questions which Jesus was answering, the next occurrence in time after the destruction of the Jerusalem would be His Second Coming.
(iii) There can be a large period of time between events connected by "and" (2Sa 12:24).
(iv) There can be a large period of time and much information between events connected by "then" (2Ki 12:16-17 c/w 2Ch 24:13-23). (2Ch 24:14-22 happened between 2Ki 12:16-17)
(v) The potential objection that Mat 24:29-30 is one sentence divided by a colon is answered by Mar 13:25-26 where the parallel verses are two separate sentences.