Matthew 24:1-3 – The Olivet Discourse


Since chapter 21, we have seen Jesus performing His ministry within the temple in Jerusalem.  The temple that Jesus ministered in is known as Herod’s temple and is actually considered the 3rd temple to have existed.  The first temple was built by Solomon and was glorious and adorned with gold and precious jewels.  However, this temple was destroyed by Babylon in 587 BC.  The second temple, known as Zerubbabel’s temple, was completed around 516 BC.  This temple fell greatly beneath the glory of Solomon’s temple.  Through a political act to achieve favor with the Jews, Herod the Great began to remodel the second temple around 19 BC.  This renovated third temple was the temple in which Jesus ministered.

The temple complex covered almost 35 acres.  Some parts of it’s walls and the sanctuary stood 150 feet high.  The columns that held up the temple portico’s were so large that 3 grown men could stand around them and not touch their arms together.  The Jewish historian, Josephus, writes that some of the stones of the temple were 60 feet long, 11 feet high, and 8 feet deep.  The complex was simply massive and most thought it was indestructible.  As Jesus and His disciples were leaving the complex, His disciples became overwhelmed by the magnitude of the temple and began to point out its magnificence to Jesus.

Jesus is quick to respond with a pronouncement of the temples destruction.  It was this pronouncement that caused some of His disciples to ask Him privately if they could know more.  While resting upon the Mount of Olives, Jesus begins to teach them about the destruction of the temple.  This teaching is also recorded by Mark in chapter 13, and Luke in chapter 21.  It is known as the Olivet discourse, because Jesus gave this teaching while on the Mount of Olives.



We see there are two questions asked by the disciples that lead into the teaching of Jesus on the destruction of the temple.  The accounts of Mark and Luke are simple enough, but Matthew causes quite a bit of confusion.  Let’s look at the accounts together…

Mark 13:4

When will these things be,

What will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?

Luke 21:7

When will these things be,

What will be the sign when these things are about to take place?

Matthew 24:3

When will these things be,

What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?


Anyone can see that the second question posed in Matthew feels quite different from the second question posed in Mark and Luke.  When we look more closely at Matthew’s account, it is easy to see why the language has been made more direct.  Matthew is writing to the Jews.  The Jews had messianic language and ideals they were steeped in.  Matthew uses this language because he wants his Jewish readers to see that Jesus is the Messiah whose presence will end the Judaic religion and it’s temple (end of the Judaic age).  Mark and Luke are writing to gentiles so they see no need to bother them with Judaic phrases that would be lost on them.  It is clear to see from the context that it is in fact the destruction of the temple and the cessation of the temple worship and sacrifices that are in view of these questions the disciples have asked.   We will unpack the answers that Jesus gives to these two questions in the following weeks.


Study Questions

  1. Have you ever noticed the context of the Olivet discourse before?  How does this affect your view of the second coming of Jesus?
  2. Of the four eschatological teams, which did you grow up in?  Which are you most comfortable with and why?
  3. Why is it important to discuss these things with humility and grace?
  4. What does it look like for christians to disagree about certain details, but be unified in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and moving in the same direction?



Historic Premillenialism / Amillenialism / Post Millenialism / Dispensational Premillenialism