The Olivet Discourse matches the amillennial viewpoint very well.
Read a harmonization of the Olivet Discourse
from the parallel accounts in the gospels.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.
The disciples initiated the conversation. Jesus had been referring to the temple often. Perhaps the disciples wanted to clarify the role of the temple in what they thought would be a physical kingdom.
"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
This prophecy was literally fulfilled in August 70 A.D. The disciples didn't expect to hear that the temple would be destroyed. They wanted to know more. They wanted to know more about the details of the political kingdom they still thought Jesus was going to set up.
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
They first ask "when" — they are eager to get started.
The topics of the Olivet Discourse are outlined here:
Notice the last two questions are asked incorrectly so Jesus must clear up their misunderstanding about the kingdom. The disciples think there will soon be a political kingdom with Jesus as the king, but actually the kingdom will be spiritual — the church.
Based on their misunderstanding Jesus needs to inform them:
He needs to explain what their role will be:
He needs to correct their wrong idea about the millennium by explaining there is no literal 1,000 yearkingdom (as the Jews believed). He needs to prepare them for the persecution to come. And He needs to warn them that false doctrines will develop.
They ask for signs because the Jewish culture was very involved with signs.
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom. (1 Corinthians 1:22)
The disciples are asking for a sign even though Jesus has already taught against this. But Jesus Himself is the sign.
This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against. (Luke 2:34)
God uses signs to validate that He is doing a new work so Jesus honors their request and gives them signs.
Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you."
His first concern is that they not be deceived. Verses 5 — 14 list the deceptions.
For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many.
Jesus is referring to people who claim to be the Messiah. Since the Jews had the idea the Messiah would be a political ruler (and not deity) the word Messiah used here refers to them. Certainly previous to the Jewish War (67-70 A.D.) there were many of these.
Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. (Acts 5:36-37)
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
The word "end" here refers to the Jewish War in 67-70 A.D. But this is not the end of the world. The disciples mistakenly believe these rumors of wars indicates the millennial kingdom (which they think is the end) is just about to happen. But the end of the world is a long way off in the far distant future.
They thought the word "end" referred to the beginning of the millennial kingdom but Jesus corrects them. The real meaning of the world "end" is the end of the world at the second coming of Christ immediately before the final judgment.
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
The Jewish War in 66–70 A.D. is an example of this.
All these are the beginning of birth pains.
In this metaphor the word "birth" refers to the destruction of the nation of Israel in the Jewish War of 70 A.D. which would make it clear to everyone the church is now the "true" Israel. As Israel is destroyed, the church is born. So when the disciples hear about the troubles happening in Israel, this to be a sign for them.
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
This refers to the persecution of the church by the Jews and the Romans. It has application to the persecution of the church throughout the entire church age.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.
Under the pressure of persecution by the Jews and Romans many Christians would turn away from the faith. This would cause division among believers and former believers.
And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
There would be various false teachings. Many of the books in the New Testament deal with the issue of heretical teachings.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.
This is as a result of the deception and persecution referred to in verses 9 — 11.
But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
In order for a person to be truly saved they must endure the persecution and not be led astray by the deceivers. This is an important theme in the book of Revelation.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The book of Acts testifies that the gospel was preached to the whole world.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Jerusalem and the temple would not be destroyed (in 70 A.D.) until this happened. All the books of the New Testament (except possibly Revelation) were written before this event and we can verify from the New Testament that the church had penetrated the entire Roman Empire by 70 A.D.
In addition, this verse refers to the gospel being preached in the whole world by the time of the second coming of Christ. Certainly this has already been fulfilled.
So when you see standing in the holy place "the abomination that causes desolation," spoken of through the prophet Daniel — let the reader understand.
Verse 15 does not refer to a final trial before the second coming of Christ because verse 16 begins with the word "then."
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.
Christ's warning was very practical. The violation of the God-ordained use of the temple was a sign of a horrible calamity was about to fall upon the people living in Jerusalem and Judea. Those who heeded His words would be spared from being trapped in Jerusalem and massacred during the Roman siege.
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
The nation of Israel was completely destroyed by the Romans. Jerusalem was set on fire and the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Jerusalem was finally completely destroyed by the Romans in 135 A.D.
The word "distress" does not refer to a final trial before the second coming of Christ because of the phrase "for then" which indicates that we are still in the same context as verse 15.
If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
God chose to spare some of them. Josephus reports that in the siege of Jerusalem 1,100,000 were killed but 97,000 were taken prisoner. Of these, many more were killed over the next several years. But there were survivors among them and among those who managed to escape.
The phrase "no one" refers to the Jews in Jerusalem and Palestine who were the target of the Roman advance.
At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.
These verses are parallel verses with verse 5. The revolutionary madness that overtook Israel and led to the Jewish War deceived many. The Greek word "christ" is the Hebrew word "messiah," which the Jews believed referred to any political leader of the Jews who would lead them in a revolution against the Romans. In typical Jewish style these false political leaders would use every extraordinary event that happened as a sign or miracle and use it as evidence that they were indeed God's anointed Messiah who would overthrow the yoke of the Romans.
In verses 24 and 25 Jesus talks about false Messiahs and in verses 27 — 31 He interrupts the chronological flow of the discussion to talk about His second coming in the distant future as the true Messiah.
The word "elect" refers to: (1) Israel, which was tempted by the deceptions of the false Messiahs; and (2) the church, which was plagued by false teachers and heretics such as the Judaizers and Gnostics.
So if anyone tells you, "There he is, out in the desert," do not go out; or, "Here he is, in the inner rooms," do not believe it.
It was common for the Jewish revolutionaries to travel to desert hideouts such as Masada where they would fight the Romans and procure weapons. Sometimes they would flee to the desert for safety. There was also a lot of revolutionary activity in the inner rooms of the temple because they were safe there from the Romans since the Romans would not violate the temple. It was only in the final siege of Jerusalem that the Romans finally violated the sanctity of the temple. It was actually the Jewish revolutionaries who were constantly violating the temple by (1) using it as a military command post, (2) allowing armed terrorists to hide there, and (3) assassinating opponents and one another in the temple.
For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Jesus transitions from talking about false messiahs to talking about Himself, the true Messiah.
Jesus here makes an unmistakable statement about the coming of the true Messiah (the second coming). The coming of the Messiah upon the world will be visible to all. Some preterists claim Christ's second coming occurred in 70 A.D. as an invisible event but from this verse we can say this is incorrect.
Jesus now begins talking about the second coming, the destruction of the world, and the final judgment.
Full Preterists must assume the Olivet Discourse is strictly chronological and that the speaker or writer can never interject explanatory material but this is rather arbitrary. Since Jesus was just talking about false Christs it is reasonable He would interrupt the chronological narrative to explain how we can recognize Him at His second coming.
Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
A figure of speech meaning, that by looking at the visible effects (the gathering vultures) we can know for certain about that which caused the effects (a carcass, which attracts vultures). In other words, by noticing the things Jesus has been talking about are coming to pass (the effects), we can be sure of the cause, which is (1) God has replaced the nation of Israel with the church, and (2) God is judging Israel for their rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Immediately after the distress of those days "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken."
Now we jump to second coming, the destruction of the world by fire, and the final judgment.
The images in this verse refer to the destruction of the earth at the second coming.
This verse skips the time between 70 A.D. and the second coming and it also skips the time of final trial and apostasy for the church immediately before the second coming (if there is such a thing at all; not everyone agrees).
The "distress of those days" refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple while the images of the signs in the heavens refer to the second coming, the destruction of the world, and the final judgment. He is thus contrasting these two judgments of God — one directed toward the disobedient nation of Israel and the other directed to the entire world and all the wicked who have ever lived.
The word "immediately" is a literary device we see often in the New Testament. It does not mean little or no time transpired between the two events but that (1) one event follows the other, and (2) we do not need to concern ourselves with what happens between the two events. An example to illustrate the usage:
Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. (Mathew 21:19)
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!" (Mark 11:20)
The usage of the phrase "immediately after" contradicts the Full Preterist position because in that view these events didn't happen "after" the distress but, rather, happened "during" the distress. In addition, Full Preterists must assume the images in verse 29 are figurative rather than literal since the events as described did not happen in 70 A.D. This contradicts the Full Preterist assumption of extreme literalness.
The images in this verse are often used in the Old Testament for God's judgment. For example, Isaiah 13:10. Certainly the destruction of the world for final judgment qualifies.
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
Everyone will see Jesus when He comes again. And everyone will mourn because of sin. Unbelievers will mourn because they are about to be judged for their sin, and believers will mourn because Jesus had to die for their sin.
The phrase "that time" refers to the events of verse 29 and correspond to the second coming.
This verse contradicts the Full Preterist view because these events didn't happen in 70 A.D.
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
The resurrection from the dead of all believers occurs at the second coming of Christ. Two parallel passages:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
In the amillennial view there is no rapture of the church as a separate event. The "rapture" is the same as the resurrection and it happens at the second coming of Christ at the end of the world immediately before the great white throne judgment.
This verse contradicts the Full Preterist view because these events didn't happen in 70 A.D.
Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.
Jesus transitions back to the topic of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
Similar to verse 28 to indicate that by seeing the signs we can know the predicted events will shortly occur.
Full Preterists often object to what they consider as a "gap" in the amillennial interpretation of the Olivet Discourse, but even they must agree verse 32 steps back and disrupts the chronological narrative.
Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
Jesus continues to warn them about the troubles with the Romans the Jewish revolutionaries will soon provoke.
I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
Read more here.
Many of the people who were listening to Jesus in about 30 A.D. would still be alive to witness the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Some even listened to His warnings and fled Jerusalem when they saw the signs and thus escaped destruction (more info).
In verse 34 Jesus finishes His main discussion in answer to the disciples questions. Following this He has a series of short discussions about various related topics.
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Jesus is now talking about the second coming and the destruction of the world and continues on this topic for the remainder of the passage.
It can happen at any time. There is only one prophetic event that must happen first and that will happen within 40 years — the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
These verses indicate there will not be a great tribulation(ala premillennialism) immediately before the second coming. Just as the great flood came without warning (except Noah's preaching about it) so also, the second coming will come without warning, followed by the destruction of the world by fire. It can happen at any time so we should always be ready. Those who decide to wait to get their lives right with God are taking a big risk because they may not get the chance. The second coming could come one minute from now or it could come thousands of years from now or beyond. There is no way to know because there are no more prophetic events to happen as a precondition (except the final trial and time of apostasy for the church closely linked with the second coming; not all teach this.) So the very next prophetic event to occur is the second coming of Christ followed by the destruction of the world by fire and the final judgment.
Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
The people who are taken are the wicked unbelievers. We know this from the previous verses in which the people destroyed by the flood are "taken." They are taken for judgment to the great white throne judgment. The ones who are "left" are resurrected and taken into the new heavens and new earth.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
There is no way to know because there are no clues and no prophetic events that must yet happen.
But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.
The idea of the thief breaking into the house emphasizes we need to be watching to prevent the enemy from stealing from us.
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Just as an owner of a home needs to be vigilant to prevent a thief from breaking in, so also believers need to be vigilant to walk with the Lord at all times so if He comes we will be ready. We should live as if He will come at any moment. If we knew Christ was returning tomorrow how would we live today? That is the idea.