The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Olivet Discourse: Application to the Church

Old City of Jerusalem


Does the Olivet Discourse have any application to the Church?

This may seem to be a strange question, but it is a source of constant argument because some contend that the passage is relevant only to the Jews. They take this position because Jesus addressed His remarks to His Jewish disciples and because the Gospel of Matthew was written for a Jewish audience. Also, in the midst of the discourse, Jesus says that they should pray that the desecration of the Temple does not occur on a Sabbath, because when it occurs, they will need to flee the city, which they could not do on a Sabbath day.

It certainly is true that when Jesus delivered the discourse He was speaking to His Jewish disciples and not to the Church. The Church, in fact, had not yet been established. That would not occur until the Day of Pentecost, some 50 days after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

But this certainly does not mean that the discourse has no relevance to the Church. Jesus knew the Church would be established. And He knew that Christians would look to His words for insights and guidance.

To say the Olivet Discourse has no relevance to the Church is equivalent to saying that the Old Testament has no relevance because it was written by and for Jews. Or, that the letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians have no relevance to the Church at large because they were directed to a particular First Century congregation.

The fact of the matter is that all of God’s Word is relevant to the Church either directly or indirectly. Even those sections of the Mosaic Law that were specifically given to Israel — like the sacrificial and ceremonial laws — contain spiritual insights that apply to the Church. Take, for example, the biblical principle that there is no forgiveness of sins apart from the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11).

Or, consider the Old Testament passage in 1 Samuel 15:22 that says that obedience to the Lord is better than burnt offerings and sacrifices. The sacrificial system is not a part of Christianity today, but the spiritual principle contained in the verse is still relevant — namely, that ritual practices of the Christian faith like baptism and communion are not more important than being obedient to God in our daily lives.

For those who claim that Matthew 24 applies only to Jews, what are they going to do with Mark 13 and Luke 21 where the Olivet Discourse is also recorded? These were Gospels written to the Gentiles. Also, the Olivet Discourse was probably delivered only a few days before Jesus spoke the words of John 14 to His disciples. Those who deny that Matthew 24 has any relevance to the Church are the same persons who believe that the promise of the Rapture in John 14:1-4 was meant for the Church. Both speeches were delivered by Jesus to Jewish audiences, and both were delivered before the Church was established.

As for Matthew being a book directed primarily at Jews, that is true, but it is also the only one of the four Gospels that specifically mentions the Church, and it does that in two passages (Matthew 16:18 and Matthew 18:17). Furthermore, the book closes with the “Great Commission” which is considered to be the “marching orders” for the Church (Matthew 28:19-20).

Do the signs of the times contained in the Olivet Discourse apply to our day and time, or do they apply only to the Tribulation? Find out as we continue with the next segment in this “Olivet Discourse” series!

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Dr. David Reagan

Dr. David Reagan is the Founder and Evangelist Emeritus of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He is a life-long Bible student, teacher, and preacher and he led over 45 pilgrimages to Israel. Dr. Reagan was the host of the radio then television program Christ in Prophecy for nearly 40 years.

17 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • answer me this then, i think i know the answer but dont know how to phrase it, here it is: several places in matt 24 jesus says noone knows the day or the hr but we know the XACT LENGHT of the tribulation 1260 daysx2 2520 days. the context however is the 2nd coming and NOT the rapture so how do you reconcile that?

  • to say noone knows the day or the hr is referring to the rapture is to take the verse outta context. some posties say jesus simply meant noone knew the day at the time he was speaking. i need to find a way to explain this

  • hartdawg, perhaps we will not know the day nor the hour, but we can surely know the season. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day, we are not of the night, nor of darkness. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him-1 Thessalonians 5:4,5,9,10. This is an obvious reference to the Rapture.

  • I believe the darkness alluded to in this context is the ever increasing Apostasy being visible today in Christendom as well as the increase in immoral behavior and violence. As this darkness increases it heralds the time of wrath of which we are not subjected to, for we are promptly removed much like Lot and his family.

  • Nathan

    2Timothy 3:16 ALL Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

    Is it Hyper Dispy's that say these Scriptures are ONLY for Israel? Is this a link with Purpose Driven (Rick Warren?) who say it is a waste of time to read prophecy it is a 'distraction'.

    My son told me much the same not too long ago. He said I wasn't doing anything to help build up the Kingdom and I was wasting my time reading prophecy. ๐Ÿ™

  • E.I., I've never heard of "Hyper Dispensationalists" before. I tend to believe there will be a total of 8 dispensations, but I'm not hyper about it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Considering the Bible is 31% prophecy, God seems to think Bible prophecy is important. Something for your son to ponder upon.

  • to Hawtdawg,I will give you an explanation that I received from Jack Kelly of Grace Thru Faith ministries. As I understand him he explains that we know the exact length of the Tribulation but nothing says that Jesus is coming back the same exact day and hour after the Tribulation concludes. We could have to wait a couple days or weeks. I hope this helps. I get bogged down on details at times myself. I just keep studying and I usually find answers. DianefromKY

  • Anonymous

    Are you sure Jack Kelley said that! He may have been referring to the Rapture, we don't know when that is, or how close to the Trib it will occur.

    Jesus returns with the Church on the very last 24 hr day of the 7 years of Trib which is the Great and Terrible day of The Lord.
    Sue ๐Ÿ™‚

  • e.i (or sue) jack kelly did say that but i disagree with him. jesus said IMMEDIATELTY after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened… then they will see the sign of the sun of man….so he returns immediately after the tribulation.

  • so we still have the original problem: how do you relate noone knows the day or the hr to the rapture when the context is clearly the 2nd coming and how do you apply it to the 2nd coming when we know the EXACT LENGTH of yhe tribulation? 2,520 days.

  • Hartdawg

    I can tell you how I see it, but I realise I may be wrong, so no one shout at me please ๐Ÿ™‚

    The 2nd Coming – – coming; i.e. the approach is over a period of 7 years.
    Then there is the event on the last day when Jesus ARRIVES on earth to rescue Israel from the a/c.

    We believe it to be in two stages; first the Rapture of the church meeting Jesus in the clouds which is totally unknown.

    There could be a gap between the Rapture and the start of the seven year Trib.

    So the ARRIVAL is still unknown UNTIL the a/c is revealed when he signs the covenant with the many.

    Once the a/c is revealed, the seven years begins.

    From that moment the ARRIVAL of Jesus in His return to earth IS then known which will be on the final twenty four hour day.

    The 2,520th day.


  • Hartdawg, youโ€™re probably referring to Matt 24:36. Posties and prewrathers will seize on that verse. The craftier ones will question you about not knowing the hour or the day and get you to affirm that it refers to the rapture. Then theyโ€™ll go to verse 36 and point out that itโ€™s talking about the visible/final second coming.

    Guys like R L Thomas and Arnold Fruchtenbaum point out that the Greek grammar shows there is a definite shift in subject at v 36. In fact, reading on from that we see conditions (vv 37-39) that donโ€™t align with the great tribulation (see verse 21).


  • Beloved rg
    WHY didn't you post that fabulous info BEFORE I made an absolute nit of mesen?

    Hugs anyway ๐Ÿ˜€

  • EI,

    Sorry but I read sporadically depending on time. I hadn't read this thread until today. Anyhow, you definitely didn't make a nit of yourself. Your thoughts are on target.


  • I believe my earlier comment is what Jack Kelley has discussed but I'm still studying the issue myself. What is neat is that I think we all can safely say that we will ALL know who's right soon:) DianefromKY


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