Luke 21:5-33 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

By far, Luke 21:5-33 clearly demonstrate that these verses, which parallel Matt. 24:4-35 and Mark 13:5-31, are an extended prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and not the Second Coming. It is best to read those verses in their own context and in light of Old Testament apocalyptic passages. Then we can have clarity. Please view the photos of the Arch of Titus and the Jewish Menorah, at the end.

In Mark’s and Matthew’s versions, this long section of Scripture is called the Olivet Discourse because Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, just outside of Jerusalem proper, overlooking the temple (Matt. 24:3; Mark 13:3). But Luke does not even place the discourse on the Mount of Olives, though Jesus delivers the following discourse in Jerusalem in the vicinity of the temple, probably in the temple itself, for more dramatic effect. This setting is more immediate, given the content of the discourse–the destruction of the temple itself. (Or, to harmonize things, we could believe that Luke does not record Jesus going up to the Mount of Olives, but Luke simply assumed it.)

In any case, it is unrealistic to expect that Jesus did not extensively predict the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. It shattered the nation of Israel, where he ministered, and changed Judaism forever. Not everything in Luke 21:5-33 is about us today (but some basic lessons are).

The method here is to clarify Luke 21:5-33 by an outline. What this lacks in beauty, it makes up for in clarity. Then I offer a short exegesis (close reading) of the passage, still following the outline.

All translations are mine, unless otherwise noted. Readers are invited to see other translations at

Please see its companion post, here:

Luke 17:22-37 and 21:34-36 Teach the Second Coming

If this post proves too complicated, go here:

Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 (and 17) in Parallel Columns Are Finally Clear

Before we begin the translation and exegesis, let’s look at one verse.

The Most “Stubborn” Verse in the Synoptic Gospels

The one verse that causes the most headaches for certain interpreters appears in all three Gospels and in the same context.


I tell you the truth: this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matt. 24:34)


I tell you the truth: this generation will not pass away until all these things take place (Mark 13:30)


I tell you the truth: this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Luke 21:32)

The phrase “this generation” is used fifteen times in the synoptic Gospels (including those three verses). In every case, the phrase is used exclusively of Jesus’ generation while he lived. It does not refer to our generation, 2000 years later. And the word “generation” in the synoptics is very often used of his generation (except, for example, in genealogies). If “generation” were to be translated as “race,” as some propose, then Jesus was declaring something vapid. Of course Jews would not pass away at the time he spoke. Instead, his prediction is about the timing, so “generation” is the right translation, as it is in nearly all other verses where the noun genea appears.

Now, what are “all these things”? Everything that Jesus had predicted up to that verse. Luke 21:20-24 even says that armies will surround Jerusalem. This happened in A.D. 70, when the Roman armies sacked the city and destroyed the temple. The Roman pagans stomped all over the sacred place. committing the abomination of desolation. Those three synoptic verses are capstones about the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. Jesus’s prediction came true–this (or his) generation, though he died young.

So, that one verse seems stubborn only to those who insist that most or all of the verses before the one verse are about our times–their distant future. No, they are about the destruction of the temple in AD 70, as the rest of this post claims to demonstrate.

Two Clarifying Omissions in Luke’s Version

Luke 21:5-33 does not include the verse that says the gospel shall be preached first to all nations and then the end shall come. The closest he gets is to promise that redemption is drawing near in v. 28 and the kingdom is drawing near in v. 31. But they are deliberately vague in geography and timing. They may indicate the catastrophic judgment on Jerusalem and the elect fleeing towards physical salvation and the clear coming of the kingdom in judgment on Jerusalem (or any other number of interpretations). The kingdom and redemption come in many forms. In contrast, Matthew 24:14 and Mark 13:10 do state that the gospel shall be preached first to all nations. Next, Luke also omits the verse which says that the angels will gather the elect from the winds or four corners of the world, while Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27 do include it.

It is my contention that we should interpret Matt. 24:4-35 and Mark 13:5-31, which parallel Luke 21:5-33, also as predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Those seemingly troublesome time markers in Matt. 24:14 and 31 and Mark 13:10 and 27 can be explained in ways that match up with their original historical context and without placing them in our own times.

Once again, not every verse in Luke 21:5-33, Matt. 24:4-35 and Mark 13:5-31 applies to our times (except come general lessons).

Please see these posts:

Matthew 24:4-35 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

Mark 13:5-31 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

Now let’s begin.

I.. Introduction to the Prediction (5-6)

A.. Disciples Admire Temple (5)

5 Further, while some were speaking about the temple that it had been decorated beautifully with stones and votive offerings, he said:

B.. Jesus Predicts Its Destruction (6)

6 “The things you see here—the days will come when not one stone will be left on another stone which will not be torn down!”

II.. Disciples Ask Two Questions about Destruction (7)

A.. When?

7 So they asked him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things be

B. What Is the Sign?

and what is the sign when these things will happen?”

III. Jesus Answers the Questions (8-33)

A.. Prelude to destruction (8-19)

1.. Deceivers shall arise (8)

8 And he said, “Watch that you are not deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the one!’ and ‘The time is near!’ Don’t go after them.

2.. Talk of Wars, Uprisings, and Political Rivalries (9-10)

9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be terrified, for these things must happen first. However, the end is not immediate.” 10 Then he proceeded to tell them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.

3.. Natural disasters (11) (see vv. 25-27)

11 There will be powerful earthquakes and famines and pestilences everywhere. There will be both frightening events and great signs in the heaven.

B.. Before all these things, persecution (12-19)

12 “But before all these things, they will arrest you with their hands and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors because of my name. 13 The result will be your testimony.

1.. Arrests and Promise of Protection (14-18)

14 Put it in your heart not to prepare ahead to defend yourselves, 15 for I will give you speaking ability with words and wisdom which your opponents will not be able to withstand or contradict. 16 Indeed, you will be handed over even by parents and siblings and relatives and friends, and they will execute some of you. 17 You will be hated by everyone because of my name. 18 Not even a hair on your head will be lost.

2.. Endure to the end (19)

19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

C.. The Destruction (20-27)

1.. Armies (20)

20 When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you know that its desolation is near.

2.. Flee or Perish (21-24a)

21 Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains and those inside it must get out and those in the countryside must not enter it, 22 because these are the days of judgment, fulfilling everything that has been written. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and are nursing in those days! For there will be great distress upon the country and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken captive into all nations,

3.. Jerusalem shall be trampled underfoot by Gentiles (24b)

and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the times of the nations will be completed.

4.. Cosmic disasters = Apocalyptic imagery of judgment (25-27)

25 And there will be great signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of the nations and in the perplexity of the noise of the sea and rough waves, 26 so that people will faint from fear and the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

5. The son of Man comes in judgment (27)

27 And then they will see the son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. [Dan. 7:13-14]

6.. Promise of redemption (28)

28 When these things begin to happen, stand up straight and lift up your head because your redemption is near!

D.. Certainty of Jesus’s Prediction (29-33)

1.. Foliage on fig tree predicts summer (29-31)

29 Further, he spoke an illustration to them: “Look at the fig and all the trees. 30 When they have already grown leaves, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 Likewise, you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.

2.. This generation is the time marker (32)

32 Truly I tell you that this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

3.. You can absolutely trust my words (33)

33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.”

Commentary, Exegesis

I offer my comments and exegesis, following the outline.

I.. Introduction to the Prediction (5-6)

A.. Disciples Admire Temple (5)

B.. Jesus Predicts Its Destruction (6)

The disciples admire the beauty of the temple. They had see it before, and they wanted Jesus to share in their admiration. Jesus must have shocked his disciples when he said that not one stone shall be left on the other. So don’t fall in love with the whole temple system, he says, though it was set up by Moses himself.

II.. Disciples Ask Two Questions about Destruction (7)

A.. When?

B. What Is the Sign?

His answer is not about his ultimate Second Coming to the whole earth. We are still waiting for this event. Now he will take the rest of the entire discourse, up to v. 33, to answer the two questions, about the destruction of the temple. If we read each verse in this context and in the light of the apocalyptic genre, the “stubborn” verse is no longer an obstacle.

III. Jesus Answers the Questions (8-33)

A.. Prelude to destruction (8-19)

1.. Deceivers shall arise (8)

In troubled times false messiahs emerge. Jewish historian Josephus mentions a Samaritan, Theudas, the sons of Judas of Galilee, the “Egyptian” and various other “imposters.” Whether they claimed to be the Messiah or prophets, they said of themselves that they were divinely inspired and empowered.

Jesus here warns against listening to those who claim, “the time is here!” Don’t listen to “signs watchers.”

Could they deceive many?

Gamaliel’s speech (he was Saul / Paul’s mentor):

For some time ago Theudas, claiming to be somebody, followed by about 400 men, was killed, and everyone who was convinced by him was dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this Judas the Galilean during the census led the people in a revolt after him. He too was destroyed, and everyone who was convinced by him was scattered. (Acts 5:36-37)

Paul was arrested, and the centurion asks him:

37 When they were about to take him into the barracks, Paul said to the commander, “If it is permitted to me to say something to you?” He said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Then you are not the Egyptian who ignited a revolt and led four thousand men of the Assassins into the desert some time ago?” (Acts 21:37-38)

F.. F. Bruce, in his 1990 commentary on the book of Acts, writes of Jewish messianism and nationalism: “There were outbreaks of Jewish unrest around this time [AD 40-50s] not only in Judaea where the national resistance movement gathered force under the governors who held office after the death of Herod Agrippa I in AD 44, but throughout the empire–at Alexandria early in Claudius’ principate–[Bruce now cites a reference] and at Rome both then and more recently …. Now, it was implied, the same troublemakers had turned up in Thessalonica. The authorities could not be expected to distinguish the militant messianism of the Jewish nationalists from the messianism proclaimed by Paul and Silas” (The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, 3rd, ed. Eerdmans, 1990), p. 371.

In other words false messiahs emerged around the Roman empire.

2.. Talk of Wars, Uprisings, and Political Rivalries (9-10)

People were going to talk about wars at the time. Merely talking and hearing about them can put fear in people’s hearts. This can be alarming for most people. From the 30s to the 60s times were peaceful in the Roman Empire, but there was a local war between Antipas and the Nabatean king Aretas, in which the Romans got involved in A.D. 36-37. In Judea the stirrings of revolts against Rome could be included in the reports or the talk of wars. The Romans suppressed the rebels listed in vv. 4-5, and this took some serious military effort. These were unsettling times for those who lived in Israel and neighboring regions (larger Palestine). The destruction of the temple will be the most devastating war of all.

When kingdom rises against kingdom, Luke is using the language that looks like that of Is. 19:2, which appears in the context of judgment on Egypt:

… and they will fight, each against another
and each against his neighbor,
city against city, kingdom against kingdom (Is. 19:2, ESV)

Jesus simply borrowed the phrasing to indicate that these are political rivalries.

3.. Natural disasters (11) (see vv. 25-27)

Earthquakes: in Asia Minor in A.D. 61; Italy A.D. 62; in Jerusalem in A.D. 67, and other serious earthquakes at an unspecified earlier date in Israel and the neighboring region (Palestine, as a whole). Local earthquakes are assumed in Matt. 27:51 and Acts 16:26

This whole environment is described in historian Tacitus’s (lived A.D. 56-120) Histories:

The history which I am entering is that of a period rich in disasters, terrible with battles, torn by civil struggles, hostile even in peace. Four emperors fell by the sword, there were three civil wars, more foreign wars,, and often both at the same time … Italy was distressed by disasters unknown before or returning after the lapse of the ages … Beside the manifold misfortunes that befell mankind there were prodigies in the sky and on the earth, warnings given by thunderbolts, and prophecies of the future, both joyful and gloomy, uncertain and clear (Histories, 1.2, 3, qtd. in Garland, Reading Matthew, Smith & Helwys, 2001, p. 242)

I believe that signs in the heavens corresponds to the judgment and cosmic disasters in vv. 25-27. Luke is not being strictly chronological, here, as seen in his phrase “before all these things” (v. 12), next. In any case, cosmic disasters symbolize judgment (see the link, below.

B.. Before all these things, persecution (12-19)

1.. Arrests and Promise of Protection (14-18)

2.. Endure to the end (19)

Jesus is repeating with different words what he told the twelve:

As many who do not welcome you, as you leave that town, shake the dust off of your feet as a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:5)

And the seventy-two:

10 Into whichever town you may enter, and they do not welcome you, go out into its street and say, 11 ‘Even the dust from your town clinging to our feet we wipe off against you. (Luke 10:10-11)

Then he tells his disciples:

49 “I have come to start a fire on the earth, and how I wish it had already been ignited! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how I am hard pressed until it is fulfilled! 51 You think that I have appeared to give peace on the earth. No, I tell you, but division instead! 52 For from now on there shall be a dividing of a household, three against two and two against three!

53 Father will be divided against son,

And son against father,

Mother against daughter

And daughter against mother,

Mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law

And daughter-in-law against mother-in-law! [Mic. 7:6] (Luke 12:49-53)

Betrayals will happen and disciples will be brought before various tribunals as they go out to minister the gospel to their fellow Jews. The book of Acts is full of trials before Roman tribunals. However, many disciples will be tempted to fall away because of Jesus and their conversion to him in Judea and other Jewish communities. They did not count the cost, even though he warned them. Therefore, knowing the danger, Jesus encourages them to remain or endure to the end.

C.. The Destruction (20-27)

1.. Armies (20)

There is no mistaking the fact that Jerusalem was surrounded by Roman armies (AD 66-70). The result was the destruction of the city and its temple. Please see the photos of the Arch of Titus, below.

2.. Flee or Perish (21-24a)

If they don’t flee, they will suffer. Church historian Eusebius says that Jewish Christians did flee to Pella, beyond the Jordan River (Church History, 3.5.3). This cannot refer to the Second Coming, because no one can flee from it.

In v. 23, “wrath” merely equals judgment.

See my posts:

The Wrath of God in the Old Testament;


The Wrath of God in the New Testament

3.. Jerusalem shall be trampled underfoot by Gentiles (24b)

Some interpreters say that this verse corresponds to Rom. 11:25:

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Rom. 11:25, NIV)

This means that Gentiles shall dominate Jerusalem, and the temple would never be the same ever since.

4.. Cosmic disasters = Apocalyptic imagery of judgment (25-27)

These signs are not to be taken literally; otherwise the cosmos (earth, moon, sun, stars and so on) would have been shredded millennia ago.

To illustrate the symbolism in apocalyptic pronouncements, this verse refers to the overthrow of ancient Babylon:

For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light. (Is. 13:10, ESV)

And this verse refers to the judgment on Edom:

All the host of heaven shall rot away,
and the skies roll up like a scroll.
All their host shall fall …. (Is. 34:4. ESV)

Since those verses in both Luke and the OT are about judgment on a nation, it is natural to conclude that Jesus’s words in v. 25 likewise refer to judgment on Jerusalem and on Israel by extension. Those cosmic disasters symbolize political and national disasters here on earth. As noted, if those cosmic disasters happened literally, then nature would not be the same from then to now. Jesus’s words about these cosmic reactions are not literal, either.

See my post for many other OT Scriptures about cosmic disasters in the context of national judgment:

Cosmic Disasters = Apocalyptic Imagery for Judgment and Major Change

In v. 26, Luke uses the Greek noun world, oikoumenē (pronounced oi-koo-meh-nay), which means the “inhabited world.” The term can describe the famine that impacted the oikoumenē or the world (Acts 11:28). The worship of Artemis is said to have spread around the oikoumenē (Acts 19:27). It does not have to include Australia or North America. All the way back to Homer (a Greek poet), Ethiopia was considered the end of the world. The gospel reached the Ethiopian eunuch, and later tradition says the nation was powerfully influenced by the gospel (Acts 8:26-40). Once again, from a biblical perspective the whole world is the one the first-century writers (and OT writers) knew about. When judgment hit Jerusalem and the temple, it is easy to imagine that the whole inhabited world, particularly where Jewish communities settled, was shaken and fearful. Jerusalem was a major city, after all.

5. The son of Man comes in judgment (27)

27 And then they will see the son of Man coming in clouds with power and much glory.

I quote the verse again, since it is so important. What is this coming? Jesus “coming” to his Father and is enthroned after his resurrection, and this fits Dan. 7:13-14.

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Dan. 7:13-14, NIV)

The Ancient of Days is God. Jesus was about to ascend and be enthroned on high, sitting next to God. So his “coming” here in this long passage refers to his ascension and then coming back (invisibly) in judgment over Jerusalem (see my photos, below). The coming here is not the Parousia (Second Coming).

6.. Promise of redemption (28)

Jesus says that even in trials redemption is promised. The Jewish Christians who lived in Jerusalem and fled the city before the destruction went on with their lives in Christ.

D.. Certainty of Jesus’s Prediction (29-33)

1.. Foliage on Fig Tree and All Trees Predicts Summer (29-31)

Matthew and Mark just say fig trees, but here Luke writes “all trees,” so Luke does not see the fig tree as symbolizing Israel (but see Luke 13:6-9). This is simply one other time marker. As summer follows spring, so also the  destruction follows the build-up of events, with the clearest sign being irreversible and too late for permanent restoration: the devastating pollution standing in the holy place. This happened when the Romans stomped all over the temple (see the photos, below). The people of Israel, both unconverted Jews and converted ones, must watch out for the signs that Jerusalem and the temple are about to be attacked.

2.. This Generation Is the Main Time Marker (32)

32 I tell you the truth: This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

I again quote that verse since it may be considered “stubborn” by many interpreters of a certain dispensational persuasion who have complicated systems and requirements to be imposed on apocalyptic passages. But now the verse is no longer stubborn because because the long passage before it has been about the destruction of the temple, which happened in AD 70, not the distant Second Coming or Parousia, which has still not happened for over two thousand years (and counting). Jesus’s prediction about a timeframe came true.

3.. You Can Absolutely Trust My Words (33)

Jesus summarizes his answer to the disciples’ questions in three ways:

(1). As the fig tree and all trees in foliage are harbingers of summer, so also the preliminary events that result in the end are harbingers (29-31).

(2). All of these events will happen before this generation passes away (32).

(3). You can trust my prediction (33).

These three points merely clarify the apocalyptic language drawn from the OT and reinforce the tight timeline that spans Jesus’s words here to the actual end of the temple.

In v. 32, “this generation”: (Jesus’s generation) will experience judgment of the most real kind—the destruction of the temple that will forever change Judaism. It is not really a “stubborn” verse, once we take the entire passage in its context.

In v. 33, Jesus uses a double negative for emphasis: “My words shall not—not!—pass away.”  Jesus proclaims that his prediction can be relied on; and sure enough, the events happened before his generation passed away because the temple was sacked in A.D. 70. He died young, but some people of his generation were alive during the unthinkable devastation inflicted by the Roman army.

Photos Depicting the Destruction of the Temple

I took these photos in June 2001, while in Rome.

The judgment on Jerusalem happened in A.D. 70 when the Romans sacked the city and destroyed the temple. They stomped all over it; therefore, the abomination of desolation prophesied in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 actually happened within the generation living at the time of Jesus’s prophecy.

Luke 21:20-22:

20 When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you know that its desolation is near. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains and those inside it must get out and those in the countryside must not enter it, 22 because these are the days of judgment, fulfilling everything that has been written. (My translation, emphasis added)

Matt. 24:15-16:

15 Then, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand!— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains ….

Mark 13:14

14 “When you see the abomination of desolation standing where it must not”—let the reader understand!—“then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.”

Luke clearly connects the abomination of desolation prophesied in Daniel 9:21, 11:31, 12:11 with the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem, which they did.

The Arch of Titus was built in A.D. 81 by Domitian (ruled 81-96), to honor his deceased brother Titus and their father Vespasian’s victory over the Jews and Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Crowds of tourists, but at least we can now get the scale of the arch.

It is made of Pentelic marble from Mt. Pentelicon in Attica, near Athens, Greece. High quality marble!

It is difficult to read, but it says: “The Senate and the Roman People, to the Divine Titus, Son of Vespasian, and to Vespasian Augustus.

Note the Menorah and the other implements or tools of the temple.

From a slightly different angle. History come to life! Real places. Real people. Real lives.

The Roman army really did stand in the Holy Place in the temple, where the Menorah and other tools were kept. The abomination of desolation already happened within Jesus’s generation, just as he had predicted.

Summary and Conclusion

Luke, by far, in vv. 5-31, clarifies that much of Jesus’s discourse is about the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, not the Second Coming (he covers this topic elsewhere). His verses parallel Matt. 24:4-35 and Mark 13:5-31, so my contention is that Matthew’s and Mark’s verses also extensively predict the same destruction and not the Second Coming (they cover this topic in other verses; see the links at the end of this post). It is unrealistic to believe that Jesus would not make a major and extended prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. This shattered Israel, where he ministered. And in fact, I hope this post has proven that he did make such a long prediction.

See these posts for more details:

Matthew 24:4-35 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

Mark 13:5-31 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

The disciples asked two questions about the destruction of the temple: When? And what is the sign? His answer to “when” was this (his) generation. For the sign, there is no one sign, but he laid our many of them.

Here’s a short diagram to illustrate his question and answer in Luke 21:5:-33 and the entire Gospel:

First Coming Resurrection Coming to His Throne and then Judgment End of the Old Temple

The end happened in A.D. 70, the generation that was living when Jesus taught in 21:5-33. His prediction came true.

And I would like to point out that the micro-judgment on the temple in his coming-in-judgment on it prefigures the macro-judgment on the world at the closing of the age. The first and smaller judgment is a paradigm or pattern of the second and global one. But the two are not identical. The micro-judgment happened two thousand years ago; the truly global one has not yet happened for the past two thousand years (and counting). Therefore some signs are perennial or repeatable over the centuries, like false prophets and messiahs and ravenous wolves lurking on the edges of the Christian community and then entering. But it is wrongheaded to look for specific signs, unless a moral climate is a sign (of sorts), as it was in the days of Noah and Lot.

For a fuller perspective from the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, here’s a diagram that lays out the Second Coming (not discussed in detail in this post):

________________←  This Age →| End of This Age

First Coming ⸻⸻⸻⸻ Second Coming → New Messianic Age

In the second diagram, the First Coming (Jesus’s birth and ministry and crucifixion and resurrection begins the movement towards the Parousia or Second Coming. At the Second Coming the end of This Age occurs and the New Messianic or Kingdom Age begins in full manifestation. And you can certainly insert the judgment on the temple in This Age, shortly after the First Coming.

Now let’s fill out the picture.

In the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds, particularly Matt. 13:39-43, and in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25:31-46), and in Matt. 16:27, Jesus clearly teaches that the New Messianic Age is ushered in right after the Second Coming and the judgment of the righteous and the wicked happen at the same time.

Bible Basics about the Final Judgment

We can depict things in this flow chart:

___________←  This Age –——→| End of This Age

First Coming → Inaugurated Kingdom Second Coming → Judgment → Messianic Age / Kingdom Age /  Age to Come

For simplicity, I have inserted the Second Coming instead of the Greek noun Parousia, because the Second Coming is the same thing. The Second Coming (Parousia) stops This Age. Then there is one big judgment, in which the righteous and wicked are judged together. One can even say that the final judgment happens during the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come. Finally, the Kingdom which Jesus inaugurated at his first coming will have been fully realized and accomplished at his Second Coming (Parousia), after judgment. And so after God sweeps aside the wicked and Satan and demons, the New Messianic or Kingdom Age can begin in true and pure rulership.

Bottom line: All of the New Testament (outside of a few contested verses in the Revelation) fully and clearly and consistently teach this flow chart:

___________←  This Age –———→| End of This Age

First Coming → Inaugurated Kingdom — Second Coming → Judgment → Fully Realized Kingdom Age

Until and before the Second Coming, we now live in the conflict and battle between This Age and the Inaugurated Kingdom, proclaimed by Jesus during his ministry. (They are not the same things but are at war with each other!) We are in the process of binding Satan and his demonic hordes, by expelling demons from people’s lives but mainly by preaching the gospel, so people surrender to the Son’s Lordship, and then Satan is pushed back and people experience victory in their lives. The gospel and life in the Spirit, coming after Jesus’s ascension in This Age, but are part of the inaugurated Kingdom, are so powerful that saved and redeemed kingdom citizens can experience victory over the power of sin in their lives in This Age. The presence of sin in their lives is not removed until they get their new resurrected and transformed bodies and minds in The Age to Come. The Second Coming stops This Age, which is replaced and displaced with the fully realized Messianic or Kingdom Age or The Age to Come.

There is no word on a literal thousand-year reign with two comings and “several first” resurrections. And there is no separate rapture that makes the church disappear, before the Second Coming. If Jesus believed in a separate rapture, he would have taught it here; he missed his chance. However, he did not miss his chance and he did not teach it. Therefore, he did not believe in a separate rapture. All of it is too convoluted. Instead, the Gospels (and Epistles) present a streamlined picture of salvation history and God’s dealing with his human creation and the return of Christ.

An amillennialist believes that the millennium begins with Inaugurated Kingdom, but apparently it is quiet and behind the scenes (note, for example, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and its slow growth in Matt. 13:31-32); Satan is not literally bound with chains (as if a spirit being could be), even though Jesus did teach that he bound the strongman (Matt. 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21-22). So what this binding means is that Satan cannot now fully stop the advance of the kingdom (as Satan did to the ancient Israelites, except a remnant). Even under Islamic and communist regimes, the gospel has a way of infiltrating societies, even if underground. Instead, kingdom citizens, surrendered to the Kingship of the King and following him, are plundering Satan’s domain of This Age and rescuing people out of it and transferring them to the inaugurated kingdom of God. So the final victory over Satan will be fully manifested at his Second Coming.

In contrast, based on his interpretation of a few verses in Rev. 20, one chapter in the most symbolic book of the Bible, a premillennialist believes that a literal thousand years of Christ (not shown in flow charts) is ushered in at the Second Coming, where there will be peace and harmony. And Satan is literally bound in chains until the end of the thousand years. During the literal millennium, people will still die, so the last enemy (death) is not defeated after all at the Second Coming (even though Paul said death would be defeated, in 1 Cor. 15:23-26, 51-56). However, the theory of a literal thousand years says that death and Satan are defeated at the end of the millennium, when another resurrection and another judgment will take place.

Never mind, however, that in John 5:28-29 and Matt. 13:41-43 and 25:31-46, Jesus teaches that the wicked and righteous are judged together at the end of This Age, as indicated in the above flow charts.

What Is Amillennialism?

What Is Postmillennialism?

What Is Pretribulational Premillennialism?

What Is Midtribulational Premillennialism?

What Is Posttribulational Premillennialism?

So then where does the rapture fit in? When all peoples are called out of their tombs and those who are alive also respond to Christ descending from heaven at the Second Coming, they will be “caught up” (the rapture) and meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-17). Then they will descend with Jesus to a new heaven and new earth, which will have been recreated, renewed, renovated or reconstituted. They will be judged, and the wicked will be sent away to punishment, and the righteous will be welcomed into the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come Age (as distinct from This Age). In other words, the rapture and the Second Coming happen at the same time and are the same event.

Please see my post:

Rapture = Second Coming and Happen at Same Time and on Last Day

There is no reason, biblically, to over-think and complicate these verses and insert a separate rapture that happens before the Second Coming. Just because a teaching is popular does not make it right.

Personally, I am now rapidly trending towards amillennialism because it is streamlined, and I don’t believe the NT teaches convoluted theories. The entire NT fits together if we adopt amillenialism. I cannot allow, in my own Bible interpretation, a few contested verses in Rev. 20 to confuse the clear teaching of Jesus in the Gospels and the apostolic teaching in the Epistles. That is, I don’t believe we should allow Rev. 20 (the only few verses where one thousand years are mentioned) or the entire book of the Revelation (after chapter 3), the most symbolic book of the Bible, to guide our interpretation of these clear teachings in the Gospels and the Epistles. Instead, we should allow the clear, straightforward, nonsymbolic teachings in the Gospels and Epistles to guide our interpretations of the most symbolic book in the Bible, in which even the numbers may be symbolic and probably are. To see everything fit together, all we have to do is turn the kaleidoscope one notch or click and adopt amillennialism. I am willing to do that.

Clarity guides the unclear portions. My main point: keep the plain thing the main thing in hermeneutics (science of interpretation), and let the clear verses guide the unclear ones.

Once again, this interpretation enjoys the beauty of simplicity by eliminating all (or nearly all) the complications that popular Bible prophecy teachers have been imposing on Luke 21 and 17 for decades—over a century. Since this tradition has deep roots—not to say entrenched—in the conservative sectors of American Evangelicalism (broadly defined to incorporate the Renewal Movements), these teachers won’t give up their complicated interpretations of a straightforward passage. So I hope to reach and teach the younger generations in the church. They need to prepare for tough times ahead. I’m not a pastor, but I can still have a teacher’s pastoral heart.

But in these eschatological (end-time) discussions:

“In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity (love).”

We should not lose fellowship with those with whom we differ in eschatological matters.

The Second Coming can happen at any time!  Be ready!


Luke 17:22-37 and 21:34-36 Teach the Second Coming

Matt. 24:36 to 25:46–From Second Coming to New Messianic Age

Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 (and 17) in Parallel Columns Are Finally Clear

Mark 13:5-31 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

Mark 13:32-37 Teaches Second Coming

Cosmic Disasters = Apocalyptic Imagery for Judgment and Major Change

What Does ‘Parousia’ Mean?

Three Options for Interpreting Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 (I discuss two other interpretations)

Luke 17:22-37: Taken Away = Rapture? (I also briefly look at Matthew’s version)

Rapture = Second Coming and Happen at Same Time on Last Day

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