Home   About Us   Holiness Library   Bible Prophecy   Listen to Sermons  History of the Holiness Movement   Early English Bibles   Bible Studies   Links








The expression Olivet Discourse is the term given by Bible scholars to the talk Jesus had with His disciples on the Mount of Olives towards the end of Holy Week. The word Olivet refers to the Mount of Olives on which the talk was given, and the word discourse simply means a talk or conversation. The talk is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The gospel of John does not contain this talk.

Matthew was one of the original disciples of Jesus; therefore, his record of this talk is undoubtedly the closest to a verbatim record of the talk in existence. His account is found in chapters 24 and 25 of his gospel. Chapter 24 contains essentially the same information as do the gospels of Mark and Luke. Matthew’s record in chapter 24 consists of 51 verses and as some information not found in Mark or Luke. Mark’s record contains 37 verses and Luke’s record contains 36 verses. Mark and Luke’s account are virtually identical although there are some differences in style and content between them as one might expect. Mark’s gospel is believed to be his recording the recollections of Peter. Peter was present at the Olivet Discourse; therefore we can feel certain that it is accurate in hat he related to Mark. Luke was not present at the Olivet Discourse as he was not an original disciple of Jesus, but became a follower of Christ later druing Paul’s ministry. His gospel was taken from interviews with some of the original disciples and others who were at the events he records. Luke was a medical doctor and a serious historian and, as such, his material was methodically and carefully researched according to the academic standards of his day. In comparing his account of the Olivet Discourse with Matthew’s and Mark’s we find no glaring contradictions, additions, or deletions.

In spite of the certainty of the record of the Olivet Discourse, it is one of the most analyzed and controversial portions of the gospels. Critics have parsed it and, in their thinking, found discrepancies demanding different and often contradictory explanations. Most of these differences are based on the critics’ eschatological positions. One can read any number of books, articles or papers on the Olivet Discourse and find explanations that are totally contradictory and oftentimes quite critical of other opinions. Notwithstanding these differences of opinion, what Jesus taught His disciples on the Mount of Olives that day is truth and it has meaning He intended for it to have. It is possible to comprehend His meaning in our day and learn the truth of what He taught.




The Olivet Discourse defines Jesus’s teachings on eschatology. Eschatology is the doctrine of the end times; however, it involves more than just the events at the actual end of time, it includes the study of what leads up to the end times and what happens after the end of time.

The prophecies of Daniel were eschatological in that they dealt with the process of time from the days of Daniel under the Babylonian captivity to the first coming of Messiah. These prophecies had nothing to do with the actual end of time, but they do portray some of the events leading up to the end of time. From these prophecies we learn that before the actual end of time can come, Messiah had to come to set up the Kingdom of God and bring in salvation from sin that was not possible under the Law of Moses.

Jesus’ teaching on the Mount of Olives informs us that the end is not yet; there are things that must happen, which included the destruction of Jerusalem and events concerning the Kingdom of God Jesus clouded in mysterious terms. He shows us that it isn’t important to know the date for the end of time or even the events just prior to the end of time; it is all important to be ready for the end of time whenever it comes for each of us.




The outline for the Olivet Discourse is quite simple with just four general sections, which are: (1) The conditions before Christ’s return, (2) The destruction of Jerusalem, (3) Christ’s return, and (4) a warning to be ready. This part of the Discourse is common to all three gospels.

In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus gives us what might be called the Three Bs: (1)
The Parable of the Ten Virgins: Be Prepared, (2) The Parable of the Talents: Be Active; and, (3) The Judgment Scene: Be Compassionate.




The gospels clearing indicate that the Olivet Discourse was given during Holy Week (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday).

Jesus came to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, descending down the Mount of Olives from the village of Bethphage. This is a small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem on the road coming from Jericho. We are told in Matthew 21:17 that after Jesus visited the temple on Palm Sunday, he left Jerusalem and went to Bethany situated on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives where He stayed with Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.

The next day, Monday, He went down the mountain to Jerusalem and on the way He encountered a fig tree that had no figs. It is coincidental, but poetic, that on Palm Sunday Jesus came into Jerusalem thought a village called “the house of unripe figs” (Bethphage) and the next day He encountered a fig tree without figs.

In Mark 11:20, Mark records the events on the next day, Tuesday, day three of Holy Week. It is on this day Jesus’ disciples notice that the fig tree Jesus saw the day before had dried up from the roots and died. Mark records Jesus teaching in the temple on that day in chapters 11 and 12. At the beginning of chapter 13, he mentions Jesus leaving the temple for the Mount of Olives and the Discourse that followed.

It seems, then, that the Olivet Discourse took place on Tuesday evening of Holy Week as Jesus and His disciples were headed back to Bethany from Jerusalem. Mark mentions in chapter 14, verse 1, that the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread were to occur two days later. Since the Last Supper was held on Thursday, we can be certain that the Olivet Discourse happened two days earlier on Tuesday.

Does it make any difference as to which day He gave the talk? Not really, except for the fact that Tuesday does line up with the Scriptural evidence. We know that after He gave this talk to His disciples, He was back in Jerusalem on Wednesday teaching. He may have remained in Bethany on Thursday while His disciples prepared for the Lord’s Supper that evening or He may have done some more teaching in the temple.




Jesus did some of the strongest teaching of His entire ministry in the temple on Tuesday of Holy Week. In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew He delivers a scathing message to the scribes and Pharisees. He finishes His remarks in verse 36 with what is probably the sternest statement He ever made, “Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

With tears in His eyes, He leaves them with a broken heart and says in verses 37–39, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.”

Matthew 24:1–2 (Mark 13:1–2 and Luke 21:5–6) has Jesus and His disciples leaving the temple and on the road up the Mount of Olives headed for Bethany. As they are walking away from the city, looking back at the temple they had just left the disciples point out to Jesus that the stones of which the temple was made are so strong as not to be torn down and the temple made desolate. In their minds they perhaps were thinking, “How can such a building be knocked down?” Jesus tells them to look again and be sure that the temple will be destroyed so that “not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

Here is one of those points of contention mentioned earlier where some people dispute the meaning of Jesus’ teaching. A well-known and highly respected radio preacher commented that this prophecy of Jesus has not been fulfilled and eventually will be fulfilled during the Battle of Armageddon. At the temple mount in Jerusalem an Islamic mosque now exists. There is a wall of stones from the temple called the Wailing Wall, where devout Jews make prayers. This preacher said that it is obvious these stones are still on top of each other and have not yet been cast down. So, even though most of the temple was destroyed, it has not been totally destroyed and Jesus’ prophecy still remains to be fulfilled.

The answer is quite simple. This radio preacher has long gone to his eternal reward and his teachings are available in a sizable set of books. While his argument makes sense from a dispensational millennial perspective, the truth is that the stones at the Wailing Wall were not actually part of the temple; they were part of the retaining wall that held up the land on which the temple was built.

Are such things worth arguing over? Not really; but how one accepts such a thought can influence how he understands other things Jesus says in the Discourse and can lead to wrong conclusions.