Sunday, January 01, 2006

Are Matthew 24 And Luke 21 The Same Teaching? Part 2

In the last column, we looked at the scriptural evidence for the fact that, while both Matthew 24 and Luke 21 contain strong similarities, the bulk of these two sections of scripture are different teachings given at separate times. Both passages teach of the future return of Christ, but I believe the “tribulation” described in Matt. 24:9-22 is the period of time where the abomination of desolation will stand in the holy place at the midpoint of the yet-to-happen 70th Week of Daniel. The “persecution” described in Luke 21:12-24 speaks of the historical attack on Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

In this column, I’ll deal with some of the objections to this view.

The Language Issue and Thirteen Distinctions

“But the language is so similar in Matthew and Luke that I refuse to believe that they are speaking about different events” is a statement I’ve heard more than once when this issue arises. Certainly, there are many similarities between the two accounts, but what if, by chance, the Matthew and Luke teachings represent two separate, but similar events? Why wouldn’t there be similarities, considering the fact that the destruction of the temple in 70 AD is very comparable to what will take place in Jerusalem in the future?

If a horrible event is about to take place, whether it’s 70 AD or 3030 AD, wouldn’t you be told to flee the city? Yes. Wouldn’t it be difficult for women and children no matter the year? Of course. Just because there are some similar words and phrases, however, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the events in Matthew and Luke must be identical. In fact, it is when we look at the similarities under a magnifying glass that the differences shine through, and at that time, it becomes quite apparent that there are actually more differences between these two accounts than there are similarities.

While many of the following distinctions may not demand that Jesus delivered a teaching other than the one He gave on the Mount of Olives, the scale is heavily tipped when all distinctions are weighed collectively. Don’t just read the Bible. Put on your spectacles and investigate it with a fine tooth comb.

1. Matthew 24:3 records the disciples asking Jesus for the “sign of His coming, and of the end of the age.” But in Luke 21:7, notice that the disciples only ask to know when “will these things happen?” They also want to know what signs will appear before “these things” take place. The text does not show them asking for signs of His coming and the end of the age, as it does in Matthew 24. Instead, they’re shown seeking to know strictly when all the stones of the temple will be torn down, in accordance with Jesus’ prediction. This would make perfect sense if they were still in the same location they were in when Jesus told them about the all of the stones being thrown down in the first place. This is certainly not proof because Mark also leaves this question out, but it is interesting.

2. Concerning the tribulation, Matt. 24:9 says, “You will be hated by all nations.” Verse 14 mentions “the whole world” and “all the nations,” which would make sense if Jesus was speaking of a worldwide, end-times event. Worldwide language was used throughout the entire passage of Matthew 24. But concerning the persecution in Luke 21:17, the text only shows Him to say, “You will be hated by all,” not, “all nations.” Also, in Luke, there’s nothing said about the persecution relating to “the whole world,” as it does in Matthew. If Jesus were speaking of a localized attack on Jerusalem, it would be logical to omit mentioning that it affected “the whole world” and “all nations,” which is exactly what He did.

It’s very interesting that, in Luke, Jesus never uses worldwide language, that is, until He begins speaking of what takes place after the signs in the sun, moon, and stars that precede His coming. He then used universal language twice.

“…men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the whole world” (Luke 21:26).

“…for it (the day of Christ’s coming) will come upon all those who dwell on the face of
all the earth” (Luke 21:35).

Why would that be?

3. Speaking of the period of tribulation in Matt. 24:10, Jesus informs His disciples that, “many will fall away.” This certainly coincides with Paul’s teaching in 2 Thess. 2:3 concerning the “apostasy” associated with “the lawless one” in the end times. Why isn’t the falling away mentioned in Luke 21? Is it because He’s teaching about the soon to take place temple’s destruction and therefore intentionally avoiding the end-times context?

4. “Because lawlessness is increased.. (Matthew 24:12).” It is scripturally clear that wickedness will continue to increase until the prophesied events of Armageddon are fulfilled. Once again, Matthew records information pertaining to end-times events, while Luke omits any mentioning of this increasing lawlessness. This is certainly no iron-clad argument, but it is an interesting observation to add to the pile of circumstantial evidence.

5. “Most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved..." (Matt. 24:12-13 ).

Because verse 13 is speaking about enduring in Christ in order to be saved, it should be concluded that the previous verse is speaking of people’s love for Christ growing cold.

“Most people’s love [for Christ] will grow cold. But the one who endures [in Christ] to the end, he will be saved.”

Would it make sense if it were said that most people’s love for Christ would grow cold by the first century? This would contradict what history has shown to be true. By 70 AD, the gospel was just beginning to spread. It would then be very reasonable for Jesus to leave this truth out if He were teaching of the soon to take place temple’s destruction in Luke 21. This also makes it perfectly logical for Christ to speak about the decline of love for Christ in Matthew 24’s end times context.

6. The disciples; question in Matt. 24:3 was, “When will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Then, while speaking about the details of the tribulation, Jesus referred to, and connected it to, the end of the age:

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14)

As expected, when speaking of the details of the persecution, there is no mentioning of the end of the age in Luke 21:12-24, because the end of the age is not connected with the first-century destruction. Nor does the text ever indicate it
, though many assume it does. Hopefully, by the time you have completed this article you will have a firm grasp on this.

The end is mentioned in verse 9, but it is said to take place after the birth pains, and is therefore not associated with this persecution that is said to take place before the birth pains. The end of the age is clearly not a first-century event.

7. For then there will be great tribulation, such has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Matt. 24:21).

Luke is completely void of this statement by Jesus. Why? Is it because it would have been incorrect to say such a thing? Could it be that the first century destruction was not a tribulation that will not someday be surpassed? Is it possible that it’s only in the future, when the events of Matthew 24 unfold, that the greatest of tribulations will occur? Yes! And once again, we see the evidence for a historical account in Luke, while the unfulfilled prophecies remain in Matthew.

8. Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…(Matt. 24:15).

For then there will be a great tribulation…(Matt. 24:21).

Why is there no hint of the abomination of desolation in Luke 21? Daniel the prophet isn’t mentioned either. Daniel 12 makes it clear that:

…there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. (v. 1)

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (v 2)

From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. (v. 11)

…you (Daniel) will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age. V. 13)

Daniel 12 shows us that the
abomination of desolation would cause a time of distress (great tribulation) such as never occurred since there was a nation that was related to those who [slept] in the dust of the ground [awaking] to rise again at the end of the age with Daniel. Read the whole chapter in Daniel. It couldn’t be clearer that this abomination of desolation referred to by Matthew takes place at the literal end of the age (that Luke also failed to mention) before the resurrection.

The simplicity of the comparisons between Matthew and Daniel aren’t difficult, as if we’re attempting to update our driver’s license through a Chinese interpreter. The chain of events in Daniel is identical to what Matthew tells us will take place, yet this abomination is not mentioned in Luke 21. Is it because the persecution in Luke doesn’t take place at the end of the age? I will be so bold as to say, “Yes.”

9. False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Matt. 24:24).

This is yet another verse that is left out of Luke. There were no false Christs or so-called prophets showing great signs and wonders in order to deceive. But this will happen in the future, according to Revelation.

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform… (Rev. 13:13-14)

False Christs are mentioned in Luke, but remember, they are mentioned in association with the birth pains that would take place
well after the persecution Jesus is teaching about in verses 12-24.

10. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near…there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people…(Luke 21:20, 23)

Not that Jerusalem won’t be surrounded by armies in the yet-to-be-fulfilled 70th week, but because this statement is within the context of the temple’s destruction, we can connect it to an earlier statement Jesus made to Jerusalem concerning the temple’s destruction. Notice my italics to compare with the above passage.

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:41-44)

In Luke 19, Jesus is weeping over Jerusalem and proclaiming that her enemies will
surround her, level the city, and not leave one stone upon another. This is obviously a reference to the 70 AD temple’s destruction and shows a clear connection with Luke 21’s surrounding by armies indicating that yes, Luke 21 is teaching about the first-century attack on Jerusalem, not the future abomination of desolation. And of course, both of these passage referring to the temple’s destruction are not seen anywhere in Matthew.

We are also shown that the reason Jerusalem, the temple, and its inhabitants were attacked. Because they “did not recognize the time of [their] visitation.” They did not believe Jesus as their Messiah, and God saw fit to allow their destruction as punishment.

Even earlier in Luke’s account, he writes of another truth that Jesus spoke concerning Jerusalem. This also can positively be applied to the reasoning behind Jerusalem’s desolation.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. (Luke 13:34-35)!’

Not only did they not recognize Jesus as their Messiah, but they treated Him just as they did the former prophets. Jesus tells Jerusalem that because of this, their house is left to them desolate and that they will not see Him again until they believe in Him, which will not happen until after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in according to Romans 11:25-27. But we are getting off track for the moment.

11. Why does Luke 21:23 say that there will be “wrath to this people?” Because, as we just saw in argument #10, Jerusalem — or rather, the people of Israel, the Jews — did not accept the Christ. They did not recognize the time that God visited them.

But why is Matthew 24 vacant of this statement? Is it because the suffering He was speaking of would not be specifically directed at Jews in a locally confined event? Is it because Jesus was speaking of a worldwide persecution that would be directed at the Jews and their offspring around the entire globe—those who obey the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17)?

12. In the first half of v. 24, Luke tells us, “And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations” (Luke 21:24). This is exactly what happened in 70 AD and is what many call the diaspora, or the dispersion of the Jews to the nations around the world. The dispersion probably initially began in 586 BC when the Jews were exiled from Judea by the Babylonians. The 70 AD attack only furthered this dispersion, while the final Roman attack in 135 AD brought this prophecy to a completion.

The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. (Deut. 4:27, 30)

But why isn’t this prophecy mentioned in Matthew 24? Because by the time the events of Matthew 24 take place, the dispersion will be ancient history. The Jews will be (are) back in their land as scripture foretold repeatedly.

Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land. (Eze. 37:21).

I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. (Jer. 32:37-41)

But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky (Matt. 24:29).

It’s very clear in Matthew. The sign in the sun, moon, and stars will take place and Christ will come immediately after the tribulation of those days. There’s not even a slight possibility that this triple sign and Christ’s coming took place in the first century, no matter what some have taught. And because it is said to happen immediately after the tribulation of those days, we should be able to conclude that the tribulation spoken of here is also not a first century occurrence, but that it’s an event that takes place immediately before the triple sign and Christ’s coming.

But this sign and Christ coming is not said to take place immediately after the persecution in Luke 21:12-24. There’s so much more written in its place.

And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)

The time period after the persecution in Luke’s account is left wide open. Nothing is said to take place immediately after the troubled times. Jerusalem will be trampled until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Gentiles are still trampling on Jerusalem and will only continue to do so. This “trampling” will actually increase in the final years to come, and we can therefore conclude that there is an unknown amount of space of time between the persecution and the triple sign mentioned in Luke. This is in direct contrast to “immediately” as mentioned in Matthew. Once again, the distinctions within the similarities are staggering if one had thought otherwise.

In the next column, I'll bring forth some final thoughts and draw final conclusions based on the evidences presented in the last two columns.

Click here to veiw part three, and the conclusion of this article.


Tim said...


You asked me to read over your articles on the difference between Matthew 24 and Luke 21. I did read them. You are very articulate. However, I don't find your arguments convincing. First of all, after my study of Daniel, I am convinced there is not a final week in the future, but was indeed fulfilled during the time of Christ. Therefore, I don't see the point in discussing pre, mid, pre-wrath, or post Trib scenarios. I tend to view the rapture as coninciding with the return of Christ. Second, you try and make too much of the different locations of Matthew and Luke as though that would support your position. However, you completely fail to bring into the mix Mark 13 and his account of the discourse. There we find exactly what was taking place.
1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, "Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!"
2 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately,
4 "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?"

Now let's compare Matthew 24
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?

and Luke 21
5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

Now it seems to me that you are basing your argument on the fact that Luke does not record His leaving the temple. Is that necessary? Is that evidence that what He says in regards to Luke 21 was not said as they left the temple and arrived on the Mount of Olives? I really don't think the part you dealt with concerning the end of Luke 21 actually addressed what you said it did. It was simply making the point of what Jesus customarily did. There is no problem with the interpretation that this is the same teaching found in Matthew and Mark. I truly believe you are straining at a gnat. I believe this is also the position of Thomas Ice. I also believe he is incorrect. There is clearly a harmony between the three accounts and in my opinion, four accounts (the Revelation), which quite possibly is John's account of the Olivet Discourse:)

No name calling here, just wanted to take time to let you know what I thought. Thanks for visitin my blog.

Dave Bussard said...


Thanks for reading. Not sure, but it doesn't appear that you actually read all three parts of the teaching. If so, I find it interesting that you only addressed an argument that is NOT the foundation of the proof. You ignored the fact that there is clearly a persecution befor AND after the birth pains. But if you are fully convinced of preterism, I understand why you would ignore the meat of the article. Thanks again, and I appreciate your humble attitude even if you disagree.


Dave Bussard said...


I forgot to mention that you should also read "Preterists Turn Jesus Into A False Prophet." It's very short, but all one should really need to solve the "you" factor in the Olivet Discourse.


Jeff Duranko said...

I do believe they are talking about two different situations. Matt, referring to the End Time and Luke using the example of 70 AD as a reference to the Rapture of the church. Remember, Matt was speaking to the Jews, Luke to the Gentiles. As yourself this: Jesus tells Matthew, do not be deceive, there will be false Christ, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, etc. and he also tells Luke the same. However, with Matthew, Matthew states, "THEN" (meaning after these things) you will see the abominations and desolation and he goes on to say people will be killed in the name of Christ and then he tells of the return of Christ. REMEBER THE KEY WORD MATTHEW USES, "THEN" meaning after these thing happen you will see the rest. However when Luke speaks of these false Christ, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, etc. Luke states "BUT BEFORE THESE THINGS HAPPEN" Meaning before these things happen something else has happened or he is using that something else that happened to refer to another event I believe will happen before these things, "THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH. Luke never the abomination of desolation, he only mention Christ return. REMEMBERKEY WORDS HERE, BUT BEFORE THESE THINGS HAPPEN. Do your homework on 70 AD. Prior to Jerusalem being destroyed, there was conflict over the Roman leadership and Christians were given tine to get out before Jerusalem was destroyed and thousands were killed. I believe Luke was using this escape (70 AD example) to simulate Christian who believe in Jesus Christ being Rapture before the abomination and desolation takes place, this is why he never mentioned it. Why would Matthew say "Then" and he's talking about after these things but Luke says, "But before these things happen."