Israel, Christians, Unbelievers, what is at our doorstep?

The Olivet Discourse
In Context

                                                                                                                          By Pastor F. M. Riley
                                                                                                                         Revised April 1, 2013

Text:  Matthew 24:36; 24:42; 24:44; 25:13; Mark 13:32-33; 13:35. 


    I am quite familiar with the above texts.  I should be!  I have had these verses quoted and misquoted to me dozens of times over the past 59 years.  I can read just as well as the average person, and a whole lot better than some folks.  Not a one of these verses contains the words date, date setter, date setting, forbid, or forbidden.  I wholeheartedly believe every one of these verses.  However, I believe them based on the context in which they occur.  I say without apology that there is not a human being on the face of this earth that can “rightly divide the Word of truth,” if they ignore the context in which a Scripture occurs.  It cannot be done!  Period!
     In this study I purpose to set forth a brief exposition of the Olivet Discourse, using Matthew’s account in Matthew 24-25 and referring to the other two accounts as necessary to make the exposition clear.   Join us for an enlightening study…….

The Chronological Order of the Olivet Discourse

Matthew 24:1-2       Christ leaving the Jewish Temple
               24:3-8        The entire Dispensation of Grace leading up to the Tribulation period.

               24:9-14      The first half of the Tribulation period. 

               24:15-28    The second or last half of the Tribulation.  

               24:29-31    The bodily, visible, return of Christ at or after the end of the Tribulation.

      This concludes the prophecies of Christ covering the entire time period from 30 A.D. to the end of the Tribulation period.   The rest of Matthew 24 and 25 are what scholars refer to as “parenthetical passages.”  In other words, these passages fill in details of events which actually occur at some point during the prophecies given in the first 31 verses of the chapter.                   

              24:32-35    The Parable of the Fig Tree.   This parable sets forth the re-establishment and expansion of Israel as a nation during this present “dispensation of grace,” and points out that from the time Israel expands its territory [putteth forth leaves] until all the prophecies the Lord had given in the preceding 31 verses are fulfilled will require only one generation.

              24:36-44     A stern warning for people, Jews and Gentiles, to be watching and ready for the Lord’s coming at the time of the rapture.  The Greek word translated as “coming” in verses 3, 27, 37, and 39 is the word “parousia.”  Whether some readers like it or not, this word does refer to the rapture of God’s people over and over again in the New Testament.   Therefore it is obvious that Christ was
warning people to be watching and ready when He comes to resurrect and rapture His people to glory.

               24:45-51     A parable warning of the two kinds of servants whom the Lord will find when He comes to rapture His people to glory.  How will each of our readers be found; faithfully serving the Lord, or unfaithfully serving themselves?

               25:1-13      The parable of the ten virgins gives  a stern  warning to the Jewish people who have “professed” to be God’s people during this present dispensation.     

               25:14-30    This parable sets forth details of the “bema” judgment of believers [1 Corinthians 3:9-23; 2 Corinthians 5:10], in the form of a stern warning.             

              25:31-46     The judgment of the surviving Gentiles following the bodily, visible, return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation period to establish His Millennial Kingdom upon the earth.  

      The above chronological division of the Olivet Discourse is based upon the statements which the Lord Himself made and used to divide the discourse into normal contexts and time periods.  It is my prayer that it will be helpful to every serious student of this discourse.  Those readers who find fault with it certainly have freedom in Christ to take their criticism to the Lord.       

Discerning the Context

    The Olivet Discourse, as it is commonly called, is recorded in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21.  All three accounts are the same discourse, given to the same people, on the same occasion.  The three accounts vary in wording only because the Lord wanted to emphasize different aspects of truth in each of the three accounts.  When you study these three accounts, keep in mind that the three accounts are all the same discourse
    Contrary to what is commonly taught, the Olivet Discourse was not given to the church in any sense other than being a part of the whole inspired Word of God.  Anyone who seriously studies this discourse can easily see that the Lord gave the Olivet Discourse in response to the questions asked by four Jews; Peter, James, John, and Andrew, Mark 13:3.  These four Jews were disciples of the Lord, however they didn’t come to the Lord on this occasion as His disciples.  They came to Him as Jews representing the Jewish people.  This is clearly proven by Matthew 24:9. These four disciples were not a nation, and were not “hated of all nations.”  But Israel is a nation, and today Israel is “hated of all nations,” even as the Lord predicted.  This is plain enough for anyone to see that wants to deal honestly with God’s Word.
     These four Jews came to the Lord asking Him Jewish questions about Jewish concerns.  The Lord answered them in this Olivet Discourse by speaking of things which would be of particular concern to the Jews during this present dispensation, and especially during the Tribulation period which will follow this present dispensation.  Therefore, it should be obvious to anyone willing to deal honestly with this discourse that the entire discourse was given to the Jews, was for the Jews, and is primarily concerned with the Jews.  In this study I purpose to demonstrate the truth of this statement for my readers. 

The Three Questions

    The three questions asked by these four Jews, were, [1] “Tell us, when shall these things be? [2] and what shall be the sign of Thy coming [parousia], [3] and of the end of the world?” [aion…age]. All three of these questions relate to things that were of special interest to the Jewish people.  Now let’s review these three questions.
      The first question, “Tell us, when shall these things be”?  This question obviously had to do with the destruction of the Jewish Temple.  These four Jews were deeply shaken by the Lord’s
pronouncement  that their beloved Temple would be destroyed to the extent that “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,” 24:2. The Temple represented Israel’s special relationship with God, and the glory of the whole nation of Israel.  Therefore, as Jews, they wanted to know when the Temple would be destroyed. 
      The next two questions are bound together under one “sign.” “and what shall be the sign of Thy coming [parousia], and of the end of the world [aion…age]?”   The way this question was asked and the words they used in asking, should make it obvious to every true believer that those four Jews were not as ignorant as some would make them out to be.  It is quite obvious that they KNEW that there was a distinct difference in the “parousia” and the “end of the age.”   Being Jews, they asked the Lord for a specific “sign” that would indicate that [1] the Lord’s coming [parousia] was at hand, and also [2] that “the end of the world [aion…age]” would follow.  The Lord, throughout the history of Israel, has always given the Jews “signs” to indicate His will, His power, and His blessings upon them.  The Jews expect such a “sign” from the Lord.  Read 1 Corinthians 1:22.  This is why these four Jews asked the Lord for a “sign.”  There are so many examples of this in the Old Testament that it isn’t necessary to labor the point. 
     Both the “coming” [parousia] and the “the end of the world” [aion…age] were of great concern to these Jews, because as disciples of Christ they knew that the resurrection and rapture would occur at the “parousia,” and as Jews they knew that the Kingdom promised to Israel would be established in the earth at “the end of the age.” It should be obvious to every reader that these are two different events occurring at two different times, regardless of the fact that some “expositors” today choose to ignore this truth.  The “parousia” of Christ is repeatedly connected with the resurrection and rapture of God’s people over and over again in the New Testament.   See my word study entitled “The Parousia.”  It will be sent to any reader upon request.
The Lord’s Answers

     When verses 4 through 31 are carefully studied, it will be discovered that the Lord answered all three of the questions asked of Him,  in the exact chronological order in which the prophecies He gave were to be fulfilled.  This chronological order is important if one wants to correctly understand and “rightly divide” [2 Timothy 2:15] this discourse.  Now let’s examine the Lord’s answer to these three questions carefully and closely.
When shall these things be?

    In answering this question, the first thing the Lord did in 24:4-5 was to warn the Jews of “false messiahs,” who “shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”  This prophecy was literally fulfilled by such “false messiahs” as Simon Bar Kochba, Moses of Crete, and others, who rose up during the 40 year period following the ascension of Christ. These “false messiahs” did “deceive many,” as they instigated rebellion among the Jews against the Roman Empire and brought upon the Jewish people great persecution, suffering, destruction, and death.  The Jewish people were easily deceived since they had rejected and crucified their true Messiah, but yet were still looking for and expecting their promised Messiah to come at that time.  But this prophecy should be of no concern at all to New Testament believers, for we know that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and Savior, has already come.  Praise the Lord!   Glory to God! 
     Then in 24:6 the Lord warned the Jews about the Roman wars which would devastate the Holy Land, and result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D. and the scattering of the Jews among the nations, Luke 21:20-24.  Such wars would then continue right on throughout this present dispensation, and are still going on right to this present hour, 24:7.  The Roman wars between the crucifixion of Christ and 70 A.D.  would bring such suffering upon the Jewish people that the Lord explicitly told the Jews that the end is not yet.”

Thy Coming

     The Greek word translated as “coming” in 24:3 is the word “parousia.”  This word occurs again and again in the New Testament in connection with the resurrection and rapture of God’s people.  In 24:7-8 the Lord described the remainder of the “dispensation of grace” in just these two verses in Matthew’s account.  In these two verses the Lord gave the “signs” which will precede His “coming” [parousia] at the rapture, and which will bring this present dispensation to a close.

The first half of the Tribulation

     Then in 24:9 the Lord began to speak about the seven year Tribulation period.  It is obvious that Peter, James, John, and Andrew, the four Jews to whom Christ was speaking, did not constitute a nation [verse 9], nor were they “hated of all nations,” as already noted, but Israel and the Jewish people have been “hated of all nations” throughout this present dispensation, and this hatred has never been more intense than it is today.  It will only intensify during the Tribulation, which here in the Olivet Discourse begins with verse 9.
     This prophecy also does not concern New Testament churches and believers.  While the Lord’s true New Testament “churches” and people are also hated by the world [John 15:18-19; 17:14], the Lord’s churches are not “nations.”   
      The Lord in 24:9-14, in exact chronological order then speaks of the first half of the seven year Tribulation period which follows the “dispensation of grace.”  During the first half of the Tribulation there will be great persecution of both Jews and Gentiles who cleave to the God of Israel and to His inspired Word.  Just as the Lord said, during that time “many” will be “offended” [stumble; fall] and will “betray one another” and “hate one another.”  Compare Daniel 7:21, 7:25, 8:24-25, Revelation 6:3-4, and 6:9-11.  It is during the first half of the Tribulation that the anti-christ will be rising to power, and anyone and everyone he considers to be a “threat” to his ambitions will be slaughtered.    
      In such an atmosphere of hate, the Lord warned that “many false prophets shall rise, and deceive many.”  This will be of great concern to the Jews, because God has always ministered to the Jewish people by raising up “prophets” among them.  But this warning does not apply to New Testament believers, for we know that the law and the prophets were until John: since that time the Kingdom of God is preached….,” Luke 16:16.  Prophetshave to do with the Jewish people.  They have nothing to do with “the church.” New Testament believers have to be concerned with “false teachers” [2 Peter 2:1-22], but it is the Jews who have to be concerned with “false prophets.”  This again makes it obvious that this discourse was written to the Jews and is for the Jews.  New Testament believers will not even be on the earth during the time the prophecy in these verses is being fulfilled.   
     That these verses are speaking about the first half of the Tribulation is obvious from the statements the Lord made in verses 13-14.  The “end” the Lord speaks of in verse 13 is the same “end” the four Jews asked about in verse 3; “the end of the age.”  It has nothing whatsoever to do with “enduring to the end” of a person’s life.  True believers are not saved by works; that is, “enduring to the end,” Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5.  What the Lord is saying in this verse is that every Jew who survives to “the end” of the Tribulation will be saved.   This is exactly what is stated and taught in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:8-12.  The Jewish “remnant” who survives the Tribulation will turn to the Lord with their whole heart, and will be saved for time and eternity, exactly as stated in verse 13. 
     It is also true that it is during the first half of the Tribulation that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come,” verse 14.  I know it will upset the theories and deflate the egos of some today, especially some proudhearted  “preachers,”  but a careful study of God’s Word will reveal that it is God’s “two witnesses” [Revelation 11:3] and the “144,000” Jewish evangelists [Revelation 7:3-8; 14:1-5] who will take “the gospel of the kingdomto every place in the habitable earth where there is one human being to hear it during the first half of the Tribulation.  This verse has nothing to do with New Testament believers or the Lord’s church, for we won’t even be on earth when this passage is fulfilled.  It ought to also be clear to any true believer who carefully studies God’s Word that we New Covenant believers do not preach “the gospel of the kingdom” during this present dispensation.  What the Lord’s New Testament church preaches is “the gospel of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.”   This 14th verse will be fulfilled
by the preaching of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists and God’s “two witnesses”  during the first half of the Tribulation.   Praise the Lord!   
The last half of the Tribulation

     In 24:15 the Lord spoke of “the abomination of desolation.”  Now why would this be of any concern to New Testament believers?  This event will occur at or near the middle of the Tribulation.  New Testament believers will not be on the earth at that time.  But unbelieving Israel will be here, because they will have missed the resurrection and rapture of New Testament believers three and a half years previously.  This predicted future event concerns the Jews, and is of no concern at all to “the church.”  Compare Daniel 8:11-14, 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11.  For more details about this event request my study entitled The Abomination of Desolation.  It will be sent to any reader upon request.   
     Then in 24:16-20 the Lord spoke about those Jews who would be living “in Judea,” and about them fleeing on “the sabbath day.”  These verses in context with verse 15 make it clear that the Jews begin their flight when “the abomination of desolation” is set up in the court yard of the Jewish Temple.  Verses 21-22 then make it clear that their flight and what follows occurs during the last half of the Tribulation period.  None of the things mentioned in these verses concern New Testament believers.  We don’t live in “Judea.”  We don’t observe “the sabbath day” [at least I don’t].  Our Savior has already come.  It is quite obvious that these predicted events concern the Jews.
     Then in verses 23-26 the Lord graciously gives the Jews a stern warning against being deceived by “false Christs” [false messiahs] and “false prophets” who will attempt to seduce and deceive the Jews who will have fled to Petra, Revelation 12:6; 12:14.  These wicked deceivers will attempt to lure Jews to leave Petra, 24:26.  Any Jew who falls for their deception will be destroyed.  Again, if our readers want more details on Israel’s flight to Petra, then request my study entitled Israel’s Flight to Petra.   
     In order to save space and for Scriptural insight into verses 27-28, I refer our readers to my study, Those Troublesome Eagles. This study explains these verses and also those in Luke 17:24; 17:37.  I will be glad to send this study to any reader requesting it.
The End of the Tribulation

   Then in 24:29-31 the Lord foretold the end of the Tribulation.  Verse 31 completes the chronological outline of prophecy laid out by the Lord in this discourse.  In the remainder of Matthew 24 and all of Matthew 25 the Lord simply added details to explain the fulfillment of the prophecies already given in the first thirty-one verses of chapter 24.
      Remember that Moses gave the Law to Israel in Exodus 20 and then used the remainder of Exodus and the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy to add to, amplify, and explain that Law. Even so the Lord gave His chronological outline of prophetic events in the first thirty-one verses of Matthew 24 and then used the remainder of the chapter and Matthew 25 to add to, amplify, and explain His prophetic outline.  Keep in mind that Moses was a type of Christ [Deuteronomy 18:15-19], and on this occasion a greater than Moses was speaking to the Jewish people, John 5:46-47.
     Now let’s examine the Lord’s own amplification and explanation of the prophecies He gave to the Jews in these first 31 verses of Matthew 24. Notice that the Lord sets forth these truths in the same chronological order in which the prophecies will be fulfilled. 

The Parable of the Fig Tree

     In Matthew 24:32-35 the Lord gave “The Parable of the Fig Tree.”  All serious Bible students know that this parable applies to the reestablishment of the nation of Israel, which occurred on May 14, 1948, and that the new nation began to “put forth leaves” [expand it’s territory] during the Six Day War of 1967.  However, it also took it’s rightful place among the nations of the Middle East in 1978-79 after Egypt finally made a “peace agreement” with Israel.  Both of these events are prophetically important.    
     This parable has nothing to do with New Testament believers, other than being a “sign” to the
whole world that the end of the age began with Israel’s national restoration.  A complete exposition of this parable is contained in my study, “Why? Here’s Why…,” which I will be glad to send to any reader upon request. 
The Warning to “Watch”

     I know this will come as a shock to many of our readers, but there are two completely different words in the Greek text which in the English are translated as “come, cometh, and coming.”  These two different words are extremely important in “rightly dividing” Bible prophecy, because each word has a totally different meaning and refers to two different aspects of the Lord’s return.
     The “parousia,” as first mentioned in 24:3 obviously precedes “the end of the age.” “Parousia” is one of the sources of the English word, “arouse.”  This word is listed in Strong’s as No. 3952.  This Greek word occurs only 24 times in the New Testament, and is repeatedly connected with the resurrection and rapture of God’s people.  It speaks of the “time” when the Lord will “come” in the air to awaken [arouse] “the dead in Christ” and “change” the living in Christ and take all New Testament believers “home” to glory.  At that time the Lord will not come back to the earth, and will not appear to anyone but those of His people who are being resurrected and raptured.  I have two studies on the subject of The Parousia in print which I will be glad to send to any reader upon request.
     The other important word in the Greek text is the word “erchomai.”  This Greek word literally means “to come; to return.”  The word is listed in Strong’s as No. 2064.  This word is repeatedly used throughout the New Testament.  When used in connection with the Second Coming of Christ in the
prophecies, it always refers to the Lord’s literal, visible, bodily return back to the earth at the end of the
Tribulation [age] to defeat the enemies of Israel and to establish His Millennial Kingdom.  
      I have emphasized these two words because the way they are used and the places they occur in the Olivet Discourse is of paramount importance if one wants to “rightly divide” these prophecies in Matthew 24 – 25.  The “parousia” refers to the resurrection and rapture, which is the next great prophetic event in chronological order following the restoration of Israel as a nation.   Keep this in mind!
       In 24:36-44 the Lord then warned the Jews to whom He was speaking that the “day and hour” of His coming [parousia….verses 3, 27, 37, 39] would be unknown to the Jewish people [and to the rest of humanity].  See verses 36, 42, 44, 25:13, Mark 13:32-33, Luke 12:40, and 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. Therefore they were to be “watching.”
      The only “time marker” referred to in these verses is a repetition of “the days of Noah,” verses 37-39. Compare what the Lord said to the Jews in these verses, with what is explicitly stated to the church in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6. Anyone, Jew or Gentile, who believes and studies God’s Word should be able to recognize when “the days of Noah” are being repeated in our society today.  Those who do not or cannot recognize a repetition of such immoral world conditions, simply are not “watching” world events in the light of Bible prophecy, Mark 13:34-37.  This says a whole lot about the true spiritual condition of some today who claim to be “Christians.”  Compare Daniel 12:9-10.   God have mercy!

The Two Servants

      Then in 24:45-51 the Lord spoke about two kinds of “servants” who would be living “when He cometh, verse 46.  The “faithful and wise servant” is spoken of in verses 45-47 and the “evil servant” in verses 48-51.
      The clear implication in context here is that the “faithful and wise servant” will be “watching” over the Lord’s “household  over which the Lord has made him “ruler,” and will be giving “them meat in due season.”  Compare Hebrews 13:7 and Acts 20:26-27.  The term, “due season,” clearly implies giving the Lord’s “household” the right meat [spiritual food] in relation to the time period involved.  How many preachers today are really “feeding the flock” with God’s Word, and preparing God’s people for the resurrection and rapture?   Well…??
      In direct contrast, the “evil servant” doesn’t believe the Lord is coming anytime soon, and is “smiting his fellow servants” [2 Peter 3:3-7] and is living “the good life” with the lost world, verses
48-49. The Lord Himself emphatically declared that such “servants” will be taken by complete surprise when the Lord comes [verse 50; Revelation 3:3], and will have reason to deeply regret their “unfaithfulness,” verse 51.  Compare Luke 12:35-48.  
     Now think about this!  Which of these two “servants” represents YOU?

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

     Folks, there are also two kinds of Jews living today.  There are those Jews who are “secular” [non-religious] who have totally renounced their ancient Jewish faith.  Then there are also those Jews who do believe the Scriptures and are looking for and expecting the Jewish Messiah to come.  Among this latter group there are also Jews who have “professed” faith in Yeshua.  Is it then just coincidence that in this very next portion of Scripture the Lord sets forth “The Parable of the Ten Virgins”? 
        Matthew 25:1-13 records “The Parable of the Ten Virgins.”  A careful study of this parable will reveal that the parable is dealing with events connected with and leading up to a Jewish wedding.  This parable, like nearly everything else in this discourse, is dealing with the Jewish people in spite of the efforts of many today who try in every conceivable way to apply this parable to “Christians” and “the church.”   Folks, this parable does not apply to either Christians or the church.  A little careful and serious study of the marriages recorded in the Old Testament holds the “key” to understanding what is really being taught in this parable.  If you really want to know the truth of God’s Word, then STUDY, 2 Timothy 2:15.  The events prophesied in this parable clearly precede the marriage. The “bride” is never even mentioned in the parable, and it is quite clear that only those “virgins” who are “ready” get to go in “with Him to the marriage,” 25:10.  Compare Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 13:24-27. 

The Parable of the Talents

     Are our readers paying attention to the chronological order in which the Lord is explaining these prophecies?  Let’s review…..
     The chronological order set forth by the Lord:
                1.    The Parable of the Fig Tree –
                          The restoration of Israel as a nation.
                2.    The Warning to Watch -
                           For the Parousia – The resurrection and rapture
                3.    The Two Servants -
                           The faithful who are “watching” versus the disobedient “scoffers”
                4.    The Parable of the Ten Virgins -
                            Believing Jews who are “watching” will be taken when the    
                            “parousia” [rapture] occurs, and “religious” Jews will be
                            left behind.  
      Now what immediately follows the resurrection and rapture of God’s people in prophetical and chronological order?  Read 2 Corinthians 5:10…..
     In Matthew 25:14-30 the Lord gave the “Parable of the Talents” as it is commonly called.  This parable is nothing more or less than an account of resurrected and raptured  believers appearing before the “bema” throne of Christ to “receive” our rewards for “the things done in [the] body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” 2 Corinthians 5:10.  Compare also 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.  Any reader who is familiar with the outline of Bible prophecy set forth throughout the Scriptures knows that the “bema” judgment is the next event in order immediately following the rapture. 
     Dear readers, don’t fail to notice that the rewards, or lack of them, at this “bema” judgment are not based on the degree of accomplishment, but rather on the faithfulness of God’s people in serving the Lord.  “His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord,” 25:21.  Folks, it requires no great knowledge of God’s Word, no great education, no great speaking
ability, no measure of monetary success, no special prestige, no great skill of any kind, to simply love the Lord and be faithful.  The meekest, weakest, lowliest, poorest, most unskillful, true believer is qualified to be faithful, and that is all the Lord is asking of any of His children.  Read Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Galatians 2:20, 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38.   Glory to God!  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord! 
      If the Lord wants more from any of us, He will qualify us Himself.  This is made plain in the remark He makes to the unfaithful “servant,” “Thou oughtest therefore to have put My money to the exchangers, and then at My coming I should have received Mine own with usury [interest],” 25:27.  Folks, every possession we own, every blessing we receive, every skill we learn, everything we obtain to work with, is a gift from the Lord Himself.  Have you read John 15:5 lately, “…for without Me ye can do nothing”? All we possess to serve the Lord acceptably is “the measure of faith” which He has placed within the heart of each of us.  It is our faithfulness or our lack of it which is going to determine our rewards at the “bema” seat of Christ.  How “faithful” are YOU in serving the Lord with what He has given you?  Think about it?
The Judgment of the Gentiles

     Then…..Matthew 25:31-46.   In this portion of Scripture the Tribulation has ended.  The Lord has returned to the earth “in His glory,” and is seated “upon the throne of His glory, 25:31; Ezekiel 43:7.  At that time all the Gentile peoples on earth who have survived the Tribulation will be gathered before the Lord.    
     In 25:32 the Lord states that He will separate these survivors of the Tribulation, “…as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”  This makes two groups of Gentile survivors who are being judged.
     However, a careful study of these Scriptures reveals that there will be a third group of people present, whom the Lord refers to as “My brethren,” 25:40.  This is referring to the Lord’s Jewish “brethren,” the redeemed Jewish “remnant” who will also have survived the Tribulation. This redeemed Jewish “remnant” will not be those being judged on this occasion.  The Tribulation itself will have been their time of judgment, from which they will have been brought forth as a redeemed and purified people.  See Isaiah 1:21-27, Ezekiel 22:18-22, Zechariah 13:8-9, Malachi 3:2-3, and other similar passages.
     The “sheep” Gentiles will be saved Gentiles who will have repented of their sin and received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior right at the end of the Tribulation when they see the Lord returning, Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:30; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 1:7.  They will be Gentiles whom the Lord kept safe during the Tribulation, preserving their lives and granting to them mercy and grace to believe and be saved, because they fed and clothed and visited and cared for the Lord’s “brethren” during the Tribulation, even at the risk of their own lives, 25:34-40.  Compare Matthew 5:7, Revelation 12:6, and 12:14.  How gracious is our God!
      The “goat” Gentiles will be Gentiles still lost in sin, who, even when they witness the Lord’s coming again in glory, will still obstinately refuse to repent and believe on the Lord and submit themselves to His saving grace.  At this judgment the Lord will show them no mercy because they also extended no mercy to the Lord’s “brethren” during the Tribulation, 25:41-45.  Read Genesis 12:3, Hebrews 10:28 and James 2:13, and take heed!  
      At the conclusion of this judgment, the “sheep” Gentiles will enter the Millennial Kingdom “prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” 25:34.
      In direct contrast, the “goat” Gentiles will enter “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” and therefore “into everlasting punishment,” 25:41; 25:46.
     One other truth which is commonly overlooked or ignored by most of God’s people when they study this portion of Scripture, is the fact that all of the people involved in this judgment are flesh and blood survivors of the Tribulation living in their natural bodies.  Why am I emphasizing this fact?  Because verse 46 explicitly states that “the righteous” [the sheep] go “into life eternal.”  Glory!  
     Now let’s be honest with the Scriptures folks…..  Does this verse say that they receive “glorified bodies”?  Does it?  Well…??   No it doesn’t!  And our readers know it!  What this verse says is that
 these “righteous” redeemed Gentile believers enter into “life eternal” in their natural bodies.  They will live forever in their natural bodies!  Glory!  Praise the Lord!  Glory to God!  Hallelujah! 
     Folks, right here in Matthew 25:46 is Scriptural confirmation of my Bible studies on The Ages to Come which sets forth the Scriptural truth that there will “eternally” be two peoples in God’s Kingdom.  There is an abundance of Scripture which both states and teaches that there will be a natural people living on this earth in their natural bodies throughout “eternity,” as well as there being a heavenly people living in glorified bodies throughout “eternity.”  I have now written twelve studies on The Ages to Come, which I will be glad to send to any reader upon request.

The Whole Point of this Exposition

     Now let’s return to the very reason why I have gone to such lengths to point out that this entire Olivet Discourse was given to the Jews, was for the Jews, and is primarily concerned with the Jews.  
     Do I need to labor the point any further?  Since Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 are the same discourse, given to the same four Jews, on the same occasion, the three accounts varying in wording only as the Lord inspired the three different writers, it should be obvious that all three accounts are dealing with the Jews.  Isn’t it obvious that the entire context of the Olivet Discourse is primarily Jewish?  Who can deal honestly with the Scriptures and deny this glaringly obvious truth?   

Scriptural Conclusions

    Now that we have determined that the context of the Olivet Discourse is primarily Jewish, then what conclusions can be Scripturally drawn?
     It was immediately after giving “The Parable of the Fig Tree” that the Lord said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only,” Matthew 24:36.  According to the context that we have already examined, who was Christ speaking to?  In verse 42 of this chapter, the Lord added, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”  Did the context change in any of these passages?  Wasn’t Christ still speaking to the same four Jews?  Wasn’t He still speaking about matters of particular concern to the Jews?  Folks, the answer to these questions is obvious. 
    Since all three gospels record the same discourse, given to the same people, on the same occasion, then it is a simple conclusion that in Mark 13:32-33 and 13:35 the Lord is still speaking to, for, and about the Jews
    Now let’s see how this harmonizes with what the Scriptures teach about unbelieving Israel.

Who is Blind and in Darkness?

     Now that we have discerned the context of the Olivet Discourse, let’s study the Scriptures to find out exactly what people it is that are spiritually “blind,” walk in spiritual darkness, and are unable to discern spiritual truth. 
      In Romans 11:7-10 we read, “What then?  Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day…..Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.”  Is this plain enough?
      Then in Romans 11:25 the Scripture states, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”
    Again in 2 Corinthians 3:14-15 we read, “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.”  The context clearly indicates that Paul is referring to the Jews.
    Each of these passages clearly point out that it is unbelieving Israel who is spiritually blind, and walks in spiritual darkness.  However, such blindness is not limited just to Israel
    In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 the Scriptures state, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”  These Scriptures make it clear that all lost people, regardless of their race, are spiritually blind, and walk in darkness. 
    This truth is in perfect harmony with 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man [person having only a natural birth] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  Folks, no unsaved person can understand, know, or comprehend the things of God.  That which God reveals can only be known by the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit, and lost people do not have God’s Spirit dwelling in them.  Therefore, “the natural man” is spiritually blind and walks in darkness.  This is plain enough for any true believer to understand.  So who is blind and in darkness and cannot know?  All unsaved people are spiritually blind, both Jews and Gentiles.
     Now WHO was the Lord speaking to in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 when He said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only?”  Isn’t it obvious from the context that the Lord was speaking to the Jews, about the Jews, and for the benefit of the Jews?  In plain language, the Lord was speaking to unbelieving Israel.  It is unbelieving Israel that is spiritually blind, has no spiritual discernment, and cannot know the things of God.  The things of God are hidden from their eyes, Luke 19:42.  But such is also true of unbelieving Gentiles

Who is not Blind and is not in Darkness?
     In direct contrast to unbelieving Israel and unbelieving Gentiles, stands the Lord’s people [true believers].  The Lord’s people are those New Testament believers who have been genuinely saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord’s churches are composed of God’s people who have covenanted together to form a New Testament church. 
    When a person is genuinely “born again” [John 3:3-7], the Holy Spirit takes up residence in that person’s body, John 14:16-17.  The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives to that believer spiritual understanding of the things of God, to whatever extent the believer is willing to study God’s Word, John 16:12-15, 1 Corinthians 2:9-13; 2 Timothy 2:15.  People who have been genuinely saved have been given “the mind of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 2:16.  This allows us who are true believers  to see things as the Lord sees them, and from His point of view.  Therefore those who are truly saved are not spiritually blind and do not walk in spiritual darkness. 
     This is why the inspired Apostle wrote to the Thessalonian church and said, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief,” 1 Thessalonians 5:4.  This statement is in direct contrast [not contradiction; contrast] to the statement the Lord made to unbelieving Israel in Matthew 24:42-44. 
A Time for Heart Searching

    At this point some folks that “profess” to be “Christians” need to do some heart searching.  Read 2 Corinthians 13:5 and 2 Peter 1:10.  Are you really saved?  ….or are you just a lost “religionist?”  Do you have spiritual discernment?  …..or are you really blind and walking in darkness?  Quit riding the fence!  You are either truly saved, or you are still lost in your sins.  You either have spiritual discernment, or you are spiritually blind and cannot see spiritual truth.  Which is it? 
     God’s people [true believers] “are not in darkness,” and are able to “see the day approaching,” Hebrews 10:24.  If you are truly saved, then the only reason that the coming of the Lord will “overtake you as a thief” is because you choose to be “willingly ignorant,” 2 Peter 3:3-5; Revelation 3:3.  If you want to identify yourself with unbelieving fools [Luke 24:25], that is your choice.  I choose to identify myself with those children of God who have been given spiritual light, and are willing to use that light to discern the “times and seasons” of the Lord’s return.  I have God’s Word.  I do not walk in darkness, Psalm 119:105. 
An Explicit Command

     In Matthew 24:37 the Lord explicitly stated, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”  No one can be honest with the Scriptures and deny that the Lord revealed to Noah in advance the exact day the flood was coming.  See Genesis 7:4; 7:10.  Deny that truth, and you will be denying God’s Word.
     Folks, even as I write this study [1998…updated…2011…2013] I do not know the “day and hour” when the Lord is coming to resurrect and rapture His people to glory.  But I do know that the day is drawing near.  I fully expect to know the exact day just shortly before the Lord comes.  The Lord is going to fulfill His Word whether some folks like it or not.  The Lord did not say that the “day and hour” could not be known, or that it would not be known.  He spoke in the present tense, indicating that it was not known at that time.  Some folks need to learn the difference between past, present, and future tenses, then respect God’s Word enough to pay attention to the tenses when studying the Word.
     In Mark 13:34-37 the Lord commanded the Jews [and all who claim to be the Lord’s people] to “Watch.”  In verse 37 the Lord explicitly said, “And what I say unto you [Jews] I say unto all, Watch.”  Now some of these “super-smart, super spiritual, all wise, all knowing “Christians” [?] today tell us there are no signs to indicate the Lord’s coming again.  But if there are no signs or indications that the Lord’s return is approaching, then what is it that God’s people are supposed to “watch?”  The logic of some of these “great spiritual leaders” today makes about as much sense as some of their “theology.”  Sic!
    The Lord explicitly stated in Revelation 3:3, “…..If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”  The Lord addressed this statement to one of His churches1 Thessalonians 5:4 quite clearly states that the Lord’s churches “are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.”  The Lord has explicitly commanded His people to “Watch.”  To refuse to do so is to disobey the Lord Himself.  The plain implication of Revelation 3:3 is that if God’s people do watch, then the Lord will not come on us as thief, and we will know “what hour” He is coming.  These so-called “great leaders” in the ranks of Christianity today, many of whom won’t even lift a finger to seriously study the prophecies of God’s Word, can get angry over this statement, and stomp and spit and puff and blow, but this passage in Revelation 3:3 will keep right on saying exactly what it says.  The truth is the truth whether men like it or not.

    Folks, great end-time truths are being revealed today for those of God’s people [true believers] who are willing to search them out.  It is not God’s people who are “blind” and “in darkness.”  It is past time that many who professto be God’s people quit using Matthew 24:36 as an excuse to justify their own “willing ignorance,” and start seriously studying and “rightly dividing the Word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15.  The Olivet Discourse, when studied in context, provides nothing for the “willingly ignorant” to hide behind.  In this study I have clearly demonstrated this truth, whether some like it or not.
     In closing this study I want to emphasize to our readers that “the end of the age” is now staring humanity in the face.  There are good Scriptural reasons to believe that the Lord is coming to resurrect and rapture His people [true believers] to glory in 2013.  This means that there are only a few days left for God’s people to witness to and seek to win their lost loved ones to the Lord, and there are only a few days left for the unsaved to seek the Lord for salvation.  Folks, it is now, or it may be never
     Do you have assurance of salvation in Christ?  Read 2 Corinthians 13:5, 2 Peter 1:10, and 1 John 5:13, and earnestly pray for the Lord’s guidance.
     Do you know that you have received Christ and are not still lost in sin?  Read John 5:24, 14:6, Acts 16:30-31, and Romans 10:8-13, and pray asking the Lord for assurance or salvation.
     Do you need spiritual help for assurance or salvation?  Contact me at once!  By God’s GRACE I know the way, and I will do everything I can to help you. 

      But for those people who refuse to accept the truths that have been presented in this study, preferring to walk on in darkness and ignorance, the Word of God does say, “If any man will be ignorant, let him be ignorant,” 1 Corinthians 14:38.  SELAH!

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    NOTICE:    Permission is granted to any true believer or to any Bible believing Christian ministry to reproduce this study to share with others, or to quote from it in context as written
     This ministry is supported solely by the voluntary free will offerings of those who feel led of the Lord to help us send forth God’s wonderful Word. 
      All comments, questions, or correspondence should be addressed to: Pastor F. M. Riley, 184 County Road 108, Harrisburg, Missouri 65256, or I can be contacted by email at     

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