Mt 24 and Mk 13 - I've got a new idea about the Ollivet Discourse


After seeing another poster having trouble with the Ollivet Discourse and the words of Jesus that “this generation shall not pass before all this takes place”, I have been looking through the fragment a lot, invoking the Holy Spirit. I’ve got an idea how to possibly understand it. :newidea: Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

It seems to me, the prophesy of the Lord is addressed: a) personally to the Apostles and b) to the faithful readers in general.

A) The main prophesy to the Apostles is contained in the description of the main Tribulation (Mt. 24:15-22) and contains some practical advice to survive the destruction of Jerusalem. In this context, the Lord’s prophecy that “this generation shall not pass” before everything, including the darkening of the Sun and the sudden appearance of the Son of Man in the clouds, was technically fulfilled when St. John saw the Revelation on Pathmos.

B) The most important prophecy, however, is addressed to the reader. The message is that the Second coming will be sudden, without a real public apocalyptic event to warn of its approach. But there are signs, similar to the fig tree leaves, which the Lord describes in the Fig tree narrative. A faithful Christian can identify the imminent disaster by the signs the Lord enumerates: namely, 1) proclamation of the Gospel to all the nations and 2) persecution of Christians.
There might also happen something epic and apocalyptic in the future, but most of the anti-Christians will not pay heed to it, hence the Lord’s reference to the carefree people before the Noah’s Flood and the Parable of an Unfaithful Servant.
In this context, when the Lord tells us “this generation shall not pass away until…”, “this generation” may mean the generation of any reader of the Gospel, i.e., you and me. As soon as we see the signs the Lords predicted (persecution and proclamation of the Gospel), we should be prepared to see the Second Coming in our generation, i.e., our lifetime.

It seems to me, Our Lord is intentionally ambivalent in His prophecy. He wants us to be vigilant and be prepared to meet His Second Coming at any moment. Of course, we might be mislead by the signs, but it is better than being nonchalant, like the Unfaithful Servant.


These sayings bounce back and forth between the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming so much that I have to think that whomever compiled the books may have gotten both discourses mixed up. Course, I’m probably wrong but it is all interwoven together.


As far as I understand, for the apostles, with their Jewish background, the two (destruction of Jerusalem and the Last Judgment) were synonymous when they were asking Jesus when it was gonna happen. But the Jesus did not want to tell them that the two are separate, in order to stimulate them to be vigilant and brace for His Coming. That is why, instead, He formulated the prophecy in the ambivalent manner.


From the Haydock Bible footnotes

Ver. 34. This generation; i.e. **the nation of the Jews **shall not cease to exist, until all these things shall be accomplished: thus we see the nation of the Jews still continue, and will certainly continue to the end of the world. (Tirinus) — Then the cross, which has been a scandal to the Jew, and a stumbling-block to the Gentile, shall appear in the heavens, for the consolation of the good Christian. Hoc signum crucis erit in cœlo, cum Dominus ad judicandum venerit. — If it be to be understood of the destruction of Jerusalem, the sense may be, this race of men now living; if of the last day of judgment, this generation of the faithful, saith Theophylactus,[4] shall be continued: i.e. the Church of Christ, to the end of the world. (Witham) — This race, I tell you in very truth, shall not pass away till all this be finally accomplished in the ruin of Jerusalem, the most express figure of the destruction and end of the world. (Bible de Vence) — By generation, our Saviour does not mean the people that were in existence at that time, but the faithful of his Church; thus says the psalmist: this is the generation of them that seek the Lord. (Psalm xxiii, ver. 6.) (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxvii.)

As you can see, there are varying interpretations.


Yes. They are not very convincing, in my personal opinion…



There are clearly differing layers of meaning to the Olivet Discourse (as you see and acknowledged).

You also said:

we should be prepared to see the Second Coming in our generation, i.e., our lifetime.

Agreed (in a sense) but this sense doesn’t necessarily mean an eschatological sense. It doesn’t mean for example that the world will end in 2017, or 2020, etc.

It CAN be taken in an anagogical sense.

Even if “the end of the world” is 3000 years away, “our lifetime” in an anagogical sense means when I pass away from this world.

I think you would enjoy this audio of Dr. Pitre’s from Scott Hahn’s website (here).

Go to the link I provided (here it is again).

Then go to the right and lower aspect of the page.

Then see: “The Destruction of the Temple and the End of the World: Matthew Chapters 23-25”.

Then click “Begin Lesson” (you have to click the + sign to get to that).

I hope you enjoy this audio as much as I did. (I’ve listened to it several times and I just keep getting more and more out of it).

God bless and keep up the good work.


PS I’m sure you already have done this, but I will include this info for any other interested readers of this thread.

Please go to CCC 113-119. If you are going to study eschatology, the CCC section is worth reading over and over several times, especially 115-118.

CCC 115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

CCC 116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: “All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.” 83

CCC 117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

      (1) The *allegorical sense*. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism. 84

      (2) The *moral sense*. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction". 85

      (3) The *anagogical sense* (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem. 86

CCC 118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith; The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny. 87


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