The Olivet Discourse – The End of the “Age”

written by G de Leon

Jesus gave a discourse regarding the end of times on the Mount of Olives.  It is known as the “Little Apocalypse” and is recorded in three Gospels: Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13.  We begin our study with the first few verses of Matthew 24.

To pave the way for the rest of the discourse, we must eliminate the main obstacle found in the first three verses of the King James Version…

1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

From verse 3, dispensationalists and futurists have already determined their eschatological platform. The prima facie leads the reader to understand the context as about the “end of the world”. However, a careful study of the word “world” or αἰών (aiōn) in Greek, using Strong’s concordance #G165, fits the translation as “Age”.  This is why, today, newer translations have been using the appropriate term:

Now as He sat 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?” NKJV

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?” NIV

As he sat 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?” ESV

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” NASB

In Matthew 12:32, Jesus spoke of two Ages “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come”.  In retrospect, Matthew 24 was about Jesus giving a discourse on the end of the Age, or the Old Covenant in which they were in (no, not the end of the New Covenant where we now belong).  He spoke to the disciples of what was to come, and the disciples very much understood that they were in the last days of the Old Age….

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Hebrews 1:1-2

“…for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” Hebrews 9:26

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” Hebrews 10:25

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the age are come” 1 Corinthians 10:11

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” 1 John 2:18

“far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” Ephesians 1:21

“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” Hebrews 13:14

The disciples wrote to their fellow Christians in anticipation of the closing of the Age.  Jesus had told them, Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Mark 9:1.  The final day was approaching, and Jesus gave them signs to look for so that they will know when the day has come.  The first sign is found in verses 1 and 2…

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

…It was the destruction of the temple, an event which occurred in 70 AD. 

John Owen
“It is not such a day, such a motive, as is always common to all, but only unto those who are in some measure in the same circumstances with them….Wherefore this day was no other but that fearful and tremendous day, a season for the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, city, and nation of the Jews, which our Saviour had forewarned His disciples of, and which they had in continual expectation”–Commentary on Hebrews

John Brown (on “these last days” of Hebrews 1:2)
“…the meaning is, towards the conclusion of the Jewish dispensation. It seems equivalent to the expressions used by the Apostle, 1 Cor, 10:11, ‘the ends of the world (age) are come’-the conclusion of the Mosaic economy; Gal. 4:4, ‘the fulness, or the fulfillment of time’-the accomplishment or termination of the period assigned for the duration of the Mosaic economy; Eph. 1:10, ‘the dispensation of the fulness of times’-the economy which was to be introduced when the times of the Mosaic economy were fulfilled; Heb. 9:26, ‘the end of the world,’ literally ‘of the ages’-the period of the termination of the Mosaic economy-the time when the present age or world was about to be changed into the coming age-the world to come. The Christian revelation was begun to be made in the conclusion of the Jewish age. It was before the conclusion of that age that God spake to the Jews by His Son, who, according to our Lord’s parabolical representation, was sent last of all to the husband men: ‘He sent forth His Son made under the law.’ His personal ministry, and for some time that of His Apostles, was confined to them; and though by His death the Mosaic economy was virtually abrogated, yet it was not in fact dissolved till forty years afterwards, in the destruction of the Temple by the Romans, and the consequent final cessation of its services.”

Arthur Pink (on Hebrews 10:25)
“and so much more as ye see the day approaching.” There seems little room for doubt that the first reference here is to the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth, which was now very nigh for this epistle was written within less than eight years before Jerusalem was captured by Titus. That terrible catastrophe had been foretold, again and again, by Israel’s prophets, and was plainly announced by the Lord Jesus in Luke 21. The approach of that dreadful “day” could be plainly seen or perceived by those possessing spiritual discernment: the continued refusal of the Nation to repent of their murder of Christ, and the abandoning of Christianity for an apostate Judaism by such large numbers, clearly presaged the bursting of the storm of God’s judgment. This very fact supplied an additional motive for genuine Christians to remain faithful. The Lord Jesus promised that His followers should be preserved from the destruction of Jerusalem, but only as they attended to His cautions in Luke 21:8, 19, 34, etc., only as they persevered in faith and holiness, Matt. 24:13. The particular motive unto diligence here set before the Hebrews is applicable to other Christians just to the extent that they find themselves in similar circumstances. Pink-Volume 2 Commentary on Hebrews (10:25).

One thought on “The Olivet Discourse – The End of the “Age”

  1. Pingback: The Olivet Discourse – What’s with the 3rd Degree?! «

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