There are many timelines in Scripture concerning the last days. The Olivet Discourse is one of them and, I believe, the most important. It is a record of Jesus’ own words on the matter. It is a sequential timeline of events given in response to His disciples’ questions of when future things would take place. His disciples asked Him when and He gave them the timeline.
I’ve taken the Olivet Discourse from the three Gospels it appears in and also another reference to the same events from Luke 17 and meticulously (I hope) meshed them together as a study guide to get a complete timeline of the things Christ taught to His disciples. The verses in parentheses have no bearing on the timeline but I left them in in order to get a complete picture of the passage.
I’ve also included my own observations and a couple of questions at the end about some of these things as well. Since it is always my desire to get you thinking about God’s Word, I would suggest you tackle the questions before reading my observations to give the Spirit a chance to speak to you. Scripture quoted is from the NASB.
The Olivet Discourse & Luke 17: Timeline of the Last Days
Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 & Luke 17
Luke 17:25 – first, Christ must suffer and be rejected by the generation He is living with
(Mat 24:2, Mark 13:2, Luke 21:6 – Jesus says temple will be torn down – fulfilled in A.D. 70)
(Mat 24:3, Mark 13:3-4, Luke 21:7 – disciples question Jesus about when these things will take place)
Luke 17:22 – believers will long for Christ’s return
Mat 24:4, Mark 13:5, Luke 21:8, Luke 17:23 – see to it you are not misled
Mat 24:4-26, Mark 13:5-23, Luke 21:8-24 – THE TRIBULATION
Mat 24:4-5, Mark 13:5-6, Luke 21:8 – many false Christs
Mat 24:6-8, Mark 13:7-8, Luke 21:9-11
- BEGINNING OF BIRTH PANGS
- wars and rumors of wars
- nation against nation
- great signs from heaven (star signs)
Mat 24:9-14, Mark 13:9-13, Luke 21:12-19
- TRIBULATION (believers delivered up to)
- Many will fall away
- You will be killed
- Hated by all nations
- Flogged (tortured)
- Brought before governors and kings (leaders)
- Thrown in prison
- Betrayed by family and friends
- Opportunity for testimony
- Gospel preached to all the nations
- Lawlessness is increased (sin)
- Love of many grows cold
(Luke 21:13 – Christ’s reasoning behind the Church going through the Tribulation)
Mat 24:15-26, Mark 13:14-21, Luke 21:20-24 – Each of these sections begins with “Therefore”, “But” and “But”, respectively, and so they are referring to the time of the Tribulation with more detail.
- ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION in the holy place – Antichrist declares himself God [Dan 9:27]
- GREAT TRIBULATION
- Jerusalem surrounded by armies
- Christ tells us to flee (those in Judea – the West Bank – must flee to the mountains)
- Days cut short for sake of the elect
- False Christs arise and show great signs and wonders
- Destruction of Jerusalem
- Days of vengeance
- Great distress upon the land
- Wrath to this people
- Fall by the sword
- Led into captivity into all the nations
- Jerusalem trampled by Gentiles until their time is fulfilled
(Mat 24:20, Mark 13:18 – Jesus tells those that may be fleeing to pray about their flight)
Mat 24:27-30, Mark 13:24-26, Luke 21:25-27, Luke 17:24
- CHRIST RETURNS “immediately after the tribulation of those days” [Mat 24:29, Mark 13:24]
- Just like lightning (attention-grabbing and quick) [Luke 17:24]
- Coming in a cloud
- Where the corpse is there the vultures gather [Rev 19:17-21, Eze 39:4; 17-20] (location of last war and time of Christ’s return)
- Sun darkened
- Moon will not give light
- Stars will fall
- Powers of the heavens shaken
- Dismay among nations
- Perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves
- Men fainting from fear and expectation
Luke 21:28 – lift up your heads, redemption is near [Rev 16:15]
Mat 24:31, Mark 13:27, Luke 21:28
- Great Gathering (Rapture)
- Sends forth angels
- Great trumpet
(Mat 24:31 – a great trumpet, one trumpet, the angels gather the elect)
Parable of the Fig Tree
Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28, Luke 21:29 – learn the parable of the fig tree
Matt 24:33, Mark 13:28, Luke 21:31 – when you see all these things happening, He is near, right at the door
Mat 24:34-35, Mark 13:30-31, Luke 21:32-33 – this generation will not pass away until all these things take place; Heaven and earth will pass away, My words will not
Mat 24:36-41, Mark 13:32, Luke 17:26-36
- No one knows the hour or the day
- Just like the days of Noah
- Just like the days of Lot
- Description of the Rapture – one will be taken, one will be left
Mat 24:42-51, Mark 13:33-37, Luke 21:34-36 – be on the alert by remaining spiritually diligent!
Questions for consideration:
- What very important conclusions might we come to from lining up the Olivet Discourse from the Gospels in this way?
- Why is Jesus telling us to pray unless the Church will indeed be here during the Tribulation? For that matter, why is He telling us any of this? [Matthew 24:20; Mark 13:8]
The Olivet Discourse is a sequential timeline of events with Matthew 24:15-26, Mark 13:14-21, Luke 21:20-24 referring to the action of the tribulation with more detail.
Christ, by His own words, places the Rapture as happening at the end of the Tribulation [Mat 24:29, Mark 13:24]. Perhaps we can think of the logic of it like this: All things being appointed [Ecc 3:1], Christ doesn’t return because it is the end of the Tribulation as much as it is the end of the Tribulation because Christ returns. Do you see the difference? Upon His return it all stops. He is coming as the Omnipotent Battlelord to “lay down the law”, so to speak [Revelation 19:11-21].
7 responses to “The Olivet Discourse & Luke 17: Timeline of the Last Days”
Oh now this IS interesting, P2ALM … primarily because I did a similar chart for myself recently in which I broke the three discourses up into four sections … Birth Pangs, Tribulation, Great Tribulation and Wrath … different labeling but the same idea you had here. I could not interest anyone around me in talking about it but I think you’d like it as it’s similar thinking to yours. If I can find it, I’ll send it to you. Hopefully you have Excel and can open it.
sweet! yeah please do. it will be interesting to compare.
I respectfully disagree with the timing of the rapture as put forth on your model (since here are multiple biblical basis’ for believing God spares the just from His wrath, which would imply that Jesus is not speaking of the rapture in the Olivet discourse but of His physical, visible return. However, I think your model has other, redeeming aspects and I like the breakdown style.
i appreciate your comment, friend. i would ask, do you believe there is a difference between God’s wrath and the tribulation that Christians suffer?
The “Day of the Lord” is Gods wrath. The “Tribulation” is Satan’s wrath. Know the difference. Humans will experience Satan’s wrath. Christians will be protected by God himself from this wrath! The Bible is clear on this.
Ok ,.. I see some good bible students here, Sorry for poking around in your conversation , but,…
I was wondering what any of you may think about the vrs in Luke 17:32 _ about lots wife,.. if lots wife looked back and we are warned not to fallow her example, then we would be out side of sodom not in sodom.. already on the roof top.. is it not right to infer that Lot and his family , were being spared wrath through a type of rapture , being lead out of sodom “and then fire rianed down upon Sodom” ? ,.. why would we be thinking that the true “bride”, or the “5 virgins” are going to see the wrath of the groom come upon them?. Their lamps are trimed and they are found watching. It seems logical to also presume that your model might include allowance for the vs,.. “pray that you may be found worthy to be saved of of the time of trouble”
I am more inclind to believe that the Lord ment for those who look in faith for his coming to find mercy in the time of trouble. Could it be that the presumtion, that some who had’nt yet fully repented will be those who wash thier robes in the great tribulation , having to then deny the mark of the beast to show thier newly reilized love for Christ over thier love of thier own life?. Danile says those with insight and wisdom will save many . When the days are as those of the days of Noah, and sodom was about to be Burned ,.. “Lot went out”, the lord saved out of the trouble those who were rightous.
Luke 17:29But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
you make an excellent point. i used both Lot’s and Noah’s example to make the same point here.
“Pre-Trib proponents will sometimes point to Noah or Lot to make a case for the Church missing the Tribulation because God rescued them before disaster came. God did indeed save them from His wrath, but not the wrath of man (or Satan). It is unreasonable to think they did not experience persecution before God supernaturally intervened. Noah undoubtedly was the target of ridicule and persecution during the 120 years of his ministry [Gen 6:3; 1Pe 3:20]. I would also think that Lot, a righteous man living in a sinful, homosexual community, was persecuted. In each of these instances, they were supernaturally protected and delivered right before the crushing blow of judgment was dealt, not against them, but those in rebellion. It’s the same with the Rapture.
God’s angels rescued Lot [Genesis 19:16]
God, Himself, sealed the Ark [Genesis 7:16]
God’s wrath ensued immediately after they were safe [Genesis 7:17-23; 19:22-24].”
there will undoubtedly be people saved during the Tribulation. i think the number will be very great. the church always explodes during intense persecution. God, in his mercy, made it that way.