The Olivet Discourse: the Coming of Christ
Matthew 24 - 25

The Olivet Discourse can be called the "second" sermon on the mount. The first (Matt. 5-7) was public, the second (Matt. 24-25) was private. The Olivet Discourse has to do with the coming of Christ, and can be divided into three sections:
  1. The coming of Christ in relation to Israel (Matt. 24:3-44)
  2. The coming of Christ in relation to Christendom (Matt. 24:45 - 25:30)
  3. The coming of Christ in relation to Gentiles (Matt. 25:31-46)

Prediction of the Destruction of the Temple (24:1-2)

 And Jesus went forth and went away from the temple, and his disciples came to him to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 And he answering said to them, Do ye not see all these things? Verily I say to you, Not a stone shall be left here upon a stone which shall not be thrown down. 

The Coming of Christ in Relation to Israel (24:3-44)

3 And as he was sitting upon the mount of Olives the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be, and what is the sign of thy coming and the completion of the age? 

Signs Pertaining to the Beginning of Sorrows (24:4-14)

Signs that Correlate to the Five Seals of Revelation 6 (24:4-13)

4 And Jesus answering said to them, See that no one mislead you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, *I* am the Christ, and they shall mislead many. 6 But ye will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not disturbed; for all these things must take place, but it is not yet the end. 7 For nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. 8 But all these are the beginning of throes. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to tribulation, and shall kill you; and ye will be hated of all the nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then will many be offended, and will deliver one another up, and hate one another; 11 and many false prophets shall arise and shall mislead many; 12 and because lawlessness shall prevail, the love of the most shall grow cold; 13 but he that has endured to the end, *he* shall be saved. 

The Gospel of the Kingdom (24:14)

14 And these glad tidings of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole habitable earth, for a witness to all the nations, and then shall come the end. 

Signs Pertaining to the Great Tribulation (24:15-28)

The Abomination of Desolation (24:15)

15 When therefore ye shall see the abomination of desolation, which is spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in what is a holy place, (he that reads let him understand,) 

Physical Persecution (24:16-22)

16 then let those who are in Judaea flee to the mountains; 17 let not him that is on the house come down to take the things out of his house; 18 and let not him that is in the field turn back to take his garment. 19 But woe to those that are with child, and those that give suck in those days. 20 But pray that your flight may not be in winter time nor on sabbath: 21 for then shall there be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be; 22 and if those days had not been cut short, no flesh had been saved; but on account of the elect those days shall be cut short. 

Spiritual Seduction (24:23-26)

23 Then if any one say to you, Behold, here is the Christ, or here, believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall give great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you beforehand. 26 If therefore they say to you, Behold, he is in the desert, go not forth; behold, he is in the inner chambers, do not believe it

The Manner of the Coming of the Lord (24:27)

27 For as the lightning goes forth from the east and shines to the west, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. 

The Location of the Coming of the Lord (24:28)

28 For wherever the carcase is, there will be gathered the eagles. v.28 The carcass is the lifeless apostate nation of Israel. the eagles (vultures) are the armies of the king of the north descending upon them at 1260 days.

Signs Pertaining to Things Directly After the Great Tribulation (24:29-44)

Spiritual Darkness (24:29)

29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. 

Public Manifestation of the Son of Man (24:30)

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the land lament, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 

The Restoration of the Nation of Israel (24:31)

31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the one extremity of the heavens to the other extremity of them. 

The Parable of the Fig Tree (Return of the Jews) (24:32-35)

32 But learn the parable from the fig-tree: When already its branch becomes tender and produces leaves, ye know that the summer is near. 33 Thus also *ye*, when ye see all these things, know that it is near, at the doors. 34 Verily I say to you, This generation will not have passed away until all these things shall have taken place. 35 The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall in no wise pass away. 

Added Detail: The Specific Time of the Appearing Unknown (24:36-39)

36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of the heavens, but my Father alone. 37 But as the days of Noe, so also shall be the coming of the Son of man. 38 For as they were in the days which were before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day on which Noe entered into the ark, 39 and they knew not till the flood came and took all away; thus also shall be the coming of the Son of man. 

Added Detail: One Taken for Judgment, the Other Left (24:40 - 25:41)

40 Then two shall be in the field, one is taken and one is left; 41 two women grinding at the mill, one is taken and one is left. 

The Importance of Watching for His Coming (24:42-44)

42 Watch therefore, for ye know not in what hour your Lord comes. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched and not have suffered his house to be dug through into44 Wherefore *ye* also, be ye ready, for in that hour that ye think not the Son of man comes. 

The Coming of Christ in Relation to the Christian World (24:45 - 25:30)

Three Christian Parables in this section:
  1. The Parable of the Two Stewards (Faithfulness) (24:45-51)
  2. The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Watchfulness) (10th Similitude) (25:1-13)
  3. The Parable of the Talents (Usefulness) (25:14-30) 

The Parable of the Two Stewards: Faithfulness (24:45-51)

45 Who then is the faithful and prudent bondman whom his lord has set over his household, to give them food in season? 46 Blessed is that bondman whom his lord on coming shall find doing thus. 47 Verily I say unto you, that he will set him over all his substance. 48 But if that evil bondman should say in his heart, My lord delays to come, 49 and begin to beat his fellow-bondmen, and eat and drink with the drunken; 50 the lord of that bondman shall come in a day when he does not expect it, and in an hour he knows not of, 51 and shall cut him in two and appoint his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. 

The Parable of the Ten Virgins: Watchfulness (10th Similitude) (25:1-13)

The Ten Virgins. This is one of the ten similitudes of the kingdom of heaven, which describe this time when Jesus is rejected. Why does the Lord give this as a similitude of the kingdom of heaven? He is teaching that when the whole profession of Christianity fell into a spiritual slumber, the revival of the hope of Christ's coming is what would revive the Church. It gives a sketch of Church History in four distinct stages. The central message is that the servants of the Kingdom are to be watching for the Lord's return.

1st Stage: Travelling - The Position of the Early Kingdom (vv.1-4)

 Then shall the kingdom of the heavens be made like to ten virgins that having taken their torches, went forth to meet the bridegroom. v.1 The other nine similitudes of the kingdom begin with "the kingdom of heaven is like" or "has become like". They all speak of the general state of the kingdom without reference to a specific point in time, although certain aspects we can see came in a certain points in time; e.g. the growth of the mustard tree during the era of Constantine. This last similitude gives us what the kingdom "shall be"… a state that it would enter into through a progress of time. The first stage is described in v.1. These young women were "virgins" which speaks of the kingdom's beginning in separation and devotion to Christ. There were "ten" virgins because it is not the body of Christ in view, but man's responsibility. The "torches" speak of the outward light of profession; reality is not necessarily implied. They began by "going forth" from their precious connections to Judaism or Paganism "to meet the bridegroom", answering to their calling to wait for God's Son to return from heaven; e.g. the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 1:9-10). The stronger our hope is for the Lord's coming, the more separated we will be as we walk through this world.

2 And five of them were prudent and five foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their torches and did not take oil with them; 4 but the prudent took oil in their vessels with their torches. vv.2-4 While the early Church began well outwardly, they were not all right inwardly. A significant portion ("five") were foolish because they had the lamp of profession but no oil. Oil in scripture is a type of the Holy Ghost (Zech. 4:1-6), which even the youngest child of God possesses; "an unction from the Holy One" (1 John 2:20). The oil is contained in "vessels" (2 Cor. 4:7), just as the Holy Ghost indwells the physical bodies of believers (1 Cor. 6:19). It is the possession of Holy Spirit that makes a person fit for the Lord's presence (v.12), because the Spirit is the living link between the believer and Christ; "if any man have not the Spirit if Christ, he is none of His" (Rom. 8:9). Note: some have tried to force this parable to mean that the "foolish" are Christians who are not looking for Christ to come; i.e. that backslidden Christians will be excluded at the rapture. This is totally false. The "wise" have the Spirit of God, and thus are real. The "foolish" are not sealed with the Spirit, and are merely false professors. This is evident in v.4 when "all [wise and foolish] slumbered" and in v.12 when the Lord says to the foolish only "I do not know you".

2nd Stage: Slumbering - The Kingdom in the Dark Ages (v.5)

5 Now the bridegroom tarrying, they all grew heavy and slept. v.5 As the centuries wore on, Christendom sunk down into a condition of spiritual slumber. Notice that "they all" grew heavy and slept. As a whole, the profession of Christianity grew earthly, sunk down to the level of the world, and ceased to look for and expect the return of the Savior.

3rd Stage: Awakening - The Recovery of the Truth (vv.6-9)

6 But in the middle of the night there was a cry, Behold, the bridegroom; go forth to meet him. v.6 Just when things were at their darkest point (the "middle of the night"), the Spirit of God began to work in grace. It was at the close of the Thyatira period (early 1500's) when the Reformation dawned. But as wonderful as that recovery was, it failed to rise up to what we see in the Philadelphia movement (early 1800's). The reformers (Luther, Zwingli, etc.) were used to recover salvation by faith and the authority of the scriptures, but they never understood dispensational truth, Church truth, or prophetic truth; and they never saw the imminent return of Christ for His Church. It wasn’t until the late 1820's that the Spirit of God began working through various individuals aroused the hearts of God's people to the hope of Christ's return. Beginning with J.N. Darby and other brethren, the so-called "midnight cry" was sounded out across Europe, North America, and the world. Notice that the cry is really "Behold the bridegroom", the word "cometh" was inserted by the translators. It is not so much the event that was before the hearts of the brethren, but the Person of Christ, and the hope of being with Him. "Go ye out to meet Him" is the same calling given to the early Christian testimony (v.1). This was a returning to first principles. The recovery of the truth was the completion of the work started in the reformation! Note that the virgins never sleep again, which might indicate that the hope of the Lord's coming will never again be lost completely to the Church.

7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their torches. v.7 The effect of the recovered truth affected "all those virgins". It was a general movement in Christendom, affecting even those who did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. We saw this from 1850 - 1950 with the revival of Christian fundamentalism. The Christian testimony "arose" from that state of spiritual slumber; from allegorical hermeneutics, from errant biblology, from post-millennial or amillennial eschatology. Also, the idea of self-judgment is pictured by "trimming their torches" which is the action of removing the burned wick to allow the flame to burn brighter! In general, the heightened interest in bible prophecy (e.g. Niagara Bible Conferences, etc.) produced a Godly improvement in the moral conduct of Christians.

8 And the foolish said to the prudent, Give us of your oil, for our torches are going out. v.8 A striking thing that became evident at this time was the need on the part of some for oil. One of the great truths recovered in the mid-1800's was the presence and power of the Spirit of God on earth. How solemn! Some of them had an outward testimony with no inward reality. The foolish virgins did not even have the discernment to know where to obtain it, and yet their need was apparent. They had been running on the temporary energy of the flesh… but there was no indwelling Spirit of God to sustain the activity. Perhaps this fleshly desire for the Spirit without reality is what gave rise to the charismatic movement?

9 But the prudent answered saying, We cannot, lest it might not suffice for us and for you. Go rather to those that sell, and buy for yourselves. v.9 They must learn the hard way that a person cannot get the Spirit from another, a child of God. We can share the gospel with unbelievers, but we cannot share our salvation. The only source from which the Spirit may be obtained is from "those that sell". Who else could that be but the Father and the Son? This in no way indicates that the gift of the Spirit can be purchased with money (Acts 8:20; Isa. 55:1). Rather, it indicates that the soul must have a personal transaction with God; "buy for yourselves". Perhaps the five foolish had not been willing to pay the price earlier (reproach, persecution, etc.), or perhaps they wanted nothing to do with God on a personal level. In any case, the five wise virgins give accurate instructions to the five foolish. This speaks of a revival of a clear gospel message during this stage!

4th Stage: Testing - The Coming of Christ (vv.10-13)

10 But as they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, and the ones that were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. v.10 At last, the bridegroom comes! This is the rapture (same as the other two parables in this section). It happened while the five foolish "went to buy". They had given mental assent to their need of oil and even the proper source; but they were too late. How solemn! They were not ready. But those that "were ready" went in to the wedding feast; a picture of the believer being ushered into the joys of heaven. How do you get ready? Buy oil; i.e. have that personal transaction with God - get real with Him - before it is too late. After the rapture, metaphorically the door of mercy will be "shut". This goes along with 2 Thess. 2:12 to show that there is no second chance for those who reject the gospel in the present dispensation.

11 Afterwards come also the rest of the virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; 12 but he answering said, Verily I say unto you, I do not know you. vv.11-12 Vainly, the five foolish virgins seek entrance to heaven. The twice repetition "Lord, Lord" denotes emphatic profession; but the attempt is futile. Perhaps this is metaphoric description of a painful scene at the great white throne when the possession of an outward testimony may be pleaded before the Judge, but His response unveils that vital error: neglect to establish that personal knowledge of Christ (Matt. 7:23).

Application to the Disciples of the Kingdom (v.13)

13 Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour. v.13 The words "wherein the Son of Man cometh" are not in the original manuscripts. The coming of the Son of Man always refers to the Appearing, but this verse (and the whole parable) refers to the Rapture. The exhortation for us is to live expectantly, to live watchfully, waiting for the Lord to come. If we live that way, it will have a Godly practical effect on our lives.

The Bridegroom in the gospels. The Lord Jesus is presented as the bridegroom of earthly Israel in every case except one (Matt. 25) where the context is the Kingdom in Mystery… notice that the Bride isn’t even mentioned. We need to remember that that the mystery of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:25) had not been revealed yet.
  1. The Sons of the bridechamber (Matt. 9:15, Mark 2:19-20, Luke 5:34-35). In this case Christ is the bridegroom of Israel, and the sons of the bridechamber are the faithful remnant. 
  2. The Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1-10). In this case Christ is the bridegroom of the church, but the bride isn’t mentioned. Instead, the ten virgins are a picture of the Christian testimony through the ages. See also Matt. 22:1-14.
  3. The marriage of Cana (John 2:9). This is a millennial picture, and Christ is the bridegroom of restored Israel. The bride isn’t even mentioned. 
  4. The friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29). Christ is the bridegroom of Israel, and the faithful remnant is the bride.

The Parable of the Talents: Usefulness (25:14-30)

The parable of the Talents vs. Parable of the Pounds. In Matt. 25 we have the Parable of the Talents. There three servants are given differing amounts of money (one, two, and five talents), and the two useful servants gain their lord a 100% return-on-investment, and both are given the same reward. This is like several believers who are given a different amount of resources to use for the Lord. Each has a different amount of responsibility. Both are given the same rewardbecause it isn't how much we are given, but what we do with those resources that matters. In Luke 19 we have the Parable of the Pounds. There three servants are given the same amount of responsibility (one pound). The two useful servants gain their lord different rates of return; 1000% and 500%. Notice that the rewards are different; ten cities and five cities. The principles is clear; it isn't the amount of gift or resources that we have been given, but the way we use them for the Lord that matters. See notes on spiritual gifts.

 14 For it is as if a man going away out of a country called his own bondmen and delivered to them his substance. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to each according to his particular ability, and immediately went away out of the country. 16 And he that had received the five talents went and trafficked with them, and made five other talents. 17 In like manner also he that had received the two, he also gained two others. 18 But he that had received the one went and dug in the earth, and hid the money of his lord. 19 And after a long time the lord of those bondmen comes and reckons with them. 20 And he that had received the five talents came to him and brought five other talents, saying, My lord, thou deliveredst me five talents; behold, I have gained five other talents besides them. 21 His lord said to him, Well, good and faithful bondman, thou wast faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter into the joy of thy lord. 22 And he also that had received the two talents came to him and said, My lord, thou deliveredst me two talents; behold, I have gained two other talents besides them. 23 His lord said to him, Well, good and faithful bondman, thou wast faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 And he also that had received the one talent coming to him said, My lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hadst not sowed, and gathering from where thou hadst not scattered, 25 and being afraid I went away and hid thy talent in the earth; behold, thou hast that which is thine. 26 And his lord answering said to him, Wicked and slothful bondman, thou knewest that I reap where I had not sowed, and gather from where I had not scattered; 27 thou oughtest then to have put my money to the money-changers, and when I came I should have got what is mine with interest. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that has the ten talents: 29 for to every one that has shall be given, and he shall be in abundance; but from him that has not, that even which he has shall be taken from him. 30 And cast out the useless bondman into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. 

The Coming of Christ in Relation to the Gentiles (25:31-46)

The Sheep and the Goats: The Sessional Judgment (25:31-46)

 31 But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, 32 and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and he will set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left. 34 Then shall the King say to those on his right hand, Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the world’s foundation: 35 for I hungered, and ye gave me to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was ill, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came to me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, and nourished thee; or thirsting, and gave thee to drink? 38 and when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? 39 and when saw we thee ill, or in prison, and came to thee? 40 And the King answering shall say to them, Verily, I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me. 41 Then shall he say also to those on the left, Go from me, cursed, into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I hungered, and ye gave me not to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me not to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye did not clothe me; ill, and in prison, and ye did not visit me. 44 Then shall *they* also answer saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, or thirsting, or a stranger, or naked, or ill, or in prison, and have not ministered to thee? 45 Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have not done it to one of these least, neither have ye done it to me. 46 And these shall go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into life eternal.