I am currently teaching a class on Jesus’ Olivet Discourse – His clearest teaching on the end of the age. Here is an excerpt of my notes on Matthew 24, which offers an outline of the entire chapter. Hope it’s helpful for your studies.
I. Matthew 24 Outline
A. The entire Olivet Discourse includes Matthew 24 -25. In this session we will go over the details of chapter 24. In another class we will discuss the details of chapter 25, which includes 2 key parables as well as the explanation of the sheep and goats judgment.
B. I identify 10 specific sections in Chapter 24. Recognizing these sections is helpful in order to get a greater understanding of the chapter. These sections are as follows:
C. Beginning of Sorrows (Birth Pangs)
Mat 24:4-8 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 “All these are the beginning of sorrows.
1. Jesus identifies 5 specific global trends that are the beginning of the birthing of His Kingdom in the earth in fullness.
2. The beginning of sorrows are not the end, they are just the beginning.
3. These trends include:
a. False Christs
b. Wars and rumors of wars
i. Nation against Nation
ii. Kingdom against Kingdom
e. Earthquakes (Tempests)
4. It is after the beginning of sorrows is identifiable upon the planet that the tribulation will be released.
D. Trends of the Great Tribulation
Mat 24:9-14 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 “But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
1. This is the Great Tribulation which is mentioned by the elder in Revelation 7:14. Jesus gives 9 specific trends of the Great Tribulation.
2. There are 7 negative trends and 2 positive trends. They are as follows:
h. Endurance unto Deliverance
i. Global Gospel Proclamation
E. Abomination of Desolation
Mat 24:15-20 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 “And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
1. The Abomination of Desolation(Daniel 8:11-14, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11) is the turning point of the last 7 years of this age. When Antichrist proclaims himself to be God in the Holy Place of the temple, the Great Tribulation will then ensue.
2. Jesus uses these verses to describe the challenges that would overtake those in Jerusalem in 70 AD when it was sieged by Rome. He also uses these statements to point to a future Abomination of Desolation that will be set up at the end of the age.
F. Explanation of the Great Tribulation
Mat 24:21-22 “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
1. These verses describe the extent of the tribulation that Jesus mentioned in verses 9-14. The greatest tribulation the planet has ever seen is a day that is yet ahead.
2. It is easy to determine that the greatest day of tribulation that the Jews have ever experienced is still a future day and not the time of the Roman siege of Jerusalem. World War II and the Nazi Holocaust destroyed some 6 million Jews and was also responsible for the deaths of 50 million people worldwide. For the Jews, this was a far worse day of tribulation than 70 AD, which saw the deaths of 1 million Jews.
3. Therefore the worst day of tribulation the Jews and the planet has ever seen could not refer to the Roman siege of Jerusalem, but must refer to a future day.
G. Warning against Deception
Mat 24:23-26 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 “See, I have told you beforehand. 26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.
1. The first admonition from Jesus in the discourse and the most repetitive one is that there will be great deception in the earth at the end of the age. There will be a company of false prophets working deceptive signs and wonders that will be so convincing that even those who are appointed to salvation would be deceived if they were not held by the grace of God.
2. Four different times in fifty-one verses Jesus gives strong warnings regarding deception (vs. 4-5, 11, 23-24, 26).
H. Explanation of the Second Coming
Mat 24:27-31 “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
1. This explanation of the Second Coming gives a very clear narrative of the timing and cosmic disturbances that will take place in conjunction with Jesus’ Second Coming.
2. Jesus makes it clear that the Second Coming happens after the great tribulation. This is significant because the Second Coming and Rapture events are two unique events that happen simultaneously.
I. Parable to Identify the Second Coming
Mat 24:32-36 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 “So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near; at the doors! 34 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
1. Jesus uses a fig tree as an example of a timepiece that enables people to discern the season of the year in which they live. In the same way Jesus explains that when the five trends from verses 4-8 are in the earth that one who is watching can know that the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming are very near.
2. He further explains that the Eternal Father is the only one who will know the day that He will cause the heaven and earth to pass away.
J. Second Coming Comparison to Days of Noah
Mat 24:37-39 “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 “and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
1. Jesus uses the attitude of men’s hearts during the days prior to the flood as an example of how men’s heart will be in the days prior to His coming.
2. In the days of Noah it was those who were not saved who were swept away by the flood and so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.
K. Admonition to Watch in view of coming Judgment
Mat 24:43-44 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
1. Though many may believe that Jesus is instructing His disciples that no one can possibly know the day or the hour of His return, the exact opposite is what He communicates through these verses.
2. Jesus’ admonition calls us to know the hour through understanding the signs of the end and being watchful (prayerful & alert). If one will watch & pray he may know the hour just as if the home owner would have been on the alert he would’ve known the hour the thief was coming to His house.
L. Admonition and Warning to Leadership at the End of the Age.
Mat 24:45-51 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 “Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 “and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 “and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
1. This last parable is an admonition to leadership, stewards who are made rulers over his master’s household.
2. It is a warning for leaders to stay alert and watchful in prayer so that they do not become deluded into believing that the master is delaying His return and therefore they cast off restraint.
3. The finality of that leader who loses his focus and gives himself to fulfilling the lusts of His flesh is that he will be taken unaware by the events of the end of the age and He will be appointed his place with the hypocrites.