The Olivet Discourse

Let’s begin by considering the 24th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, a section of Scripture that is foundational in regard to the events of the end times and the return of Jesus. Coupled with the 25th chapter of Matthew, they are known as the Olivet Discourse, because those two chapters are the record of a sermon Jesus delivered to some of His closest disciples[1] on the Mount of Olives. As we read it, we’ll learn about many events of the end times, and we’ll consider what Jesus’ disciples, those to whom His discourse was addressed, would have concluded about the timing of the Rapture:

And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” And as He was sitting 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?” (Matt 24:1-3).

Jesus’ disciples wanted to know about the future. Specifically, they wanted to know when the temple buildings would be destroyed (as Jesus had just foretold), and what would be the sign of His return and the end of the age.

Looking at it in retrospect, we know that the temple buildings were completely demolished in 70 A.D. by general Titus and the Roman armies. We also know that Jesus has not returned yet to gather the church to Himself, so those two events are hardly simultaneous.

[1] Mark 13:3 names four who were present: Peter, James, John and Andrew. Incidentally, we find the Olivet Discourse also recorded in Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21:5-36. Luke 17:22-37 also contains similar information.