When the Lord Jesus commented that the stones of the beautiful Temple of God would all be thrown down, four of the Disciples came to Him on the Mount of Olives to ask when this would happen and what sign would there be. The answer of Jesus is found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. It has become known as the Olivet Discourse. What I have discovered is that there are two discourses.
Actually, there was only one answer the Lord Jesus gave, but it is reported two different ways. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark are aimed at a Jewish audience, and their recordings of the answer of Jesus are almost identical. However, the Gospel of Luke was written to a Gentile audience and it omits certain parts of Jesus’ answer.
The accounts in Matthew and Mark can be outlined in groups of verses as follows:
Luke’s account is outlined differently:
All three gospels warn against being deceived by people claiming to be the Messiah. Matthew and Mark both warn of the Abomination, and “false Christs and false prophets.” Luke mentions neither. I believe this is because Luke’s Gentile audience would not be deceived by False Messiahs as easily as the Jews. Rabbis, when asked how they would know the Messiah, have famously stated that the Messiah would lead them to build the Temple. Therefore, any political leader enabling the Jews to build the Temple could easily be accepted as Messiah.
Matthew and Mark both speak of unprecedented affliction (the Tribulation), “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Luke does not foretell the Tribulation, but rather prophesies about two events that are now history; the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of the Jews from Israel. He then notes that there will be a period which he calls “the Times of the Gentiles.” We are still in those times today.
The Lord Jesus was speaking to His disciples directly, but also to Believers. He addressed them as “you.” Jesus also spoke of another group, and addressed them as “they.” I think this group would be unbelievers. Luke records it this way. “They” (the world) will see Jesus in the clouds. He adds that when you see this, know that your redemption draws near. (Luke21:27-28) “Your redemption” is the redemption of Believers.
Matthew and Mark tell of angels gathering “the elect.” The Old Testament prophet Isaiah states at least three times that the nations and people of the world will bring the Chosen (the Children of Israel) back to the Holy Land. Matthew 24:30-31 tells of “the angels gathering the elect” at the time of the appearing of Jesus in the air. If the Chosen are gathered by men, then the elect being gathered by angels are Believers. Perhaps Luke thought his readers would know that when Believers, along with the entire world, see the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds they would know that their Redemption is near, even at that very moment.
It appears to me that the accounts in Matthew and Mark are aimed at a Jewish audience. Unbelieving Jews will go through the Tribulation, hence the “unprecedented affliction.” Their salvation is promised later. The rabbis are expecting the Messiah to cause the Temple to be built, hence the warnings against false messiahs. Luke’s account does not include the warnings against false messiahs and does not include the Tribulation. It appears that it was written to Gentile Believers who will be gathered up to the Lord Jesus and will spend that “time of trouble” in Glory with Jesus. Amen! Praise His name!