The Olivet Prophecy

Judgement Day as spoken by Jesus Christ himself

The Olivet prophecy or Olivet discourse is a biblical passage found in the Synoptic Gospels of Mark 13Matthew 24Luke 21. It is known as the “Little Apocalypse” because it includes Jesus’ descriptions of the end times, the use of apocalyptic language, and Jesus’ warning to his followers that they will suffer tribulation and persecution before the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of GodThe Olivet discourse is the last of the Five Discourses of Matthew and occurs just prior to the narrative of Jesus’ passion beginning with the Anointing of Jesus. In the narrative is a discourse or sermon given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives, hence the name. The gospels, taken as a whole, indicate the discourse was given on Holy Tuesday.

Judgement Day at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican

Judgement Day at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican

A major challenge to theologians is to determine the timing of the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. Of considerable relevance is the determination of whether the tribulation Jesus describes is a past, present or future event. In each of the three gospel accounts, the sermon contains a number of statements which at first glance seem predictive of future events. There is general agreement that Jesus prophesies about the future destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. However, modern Christian interpretation diverges as to the meaning of the additional topics in the discourse. Many evangelical Christian interpreters, including well known ministers and theologians such as John Hagee and Tim LaHaye, say the passages refer to the Second Coming of Jesus. They disagree whether Jesus describes the signs that accompany his return. (It is worth mentioning that the late British expositor, Dr. Victor-Pearce suggested that the middle part of the discourse referred to the Roman invasion but that the beginning and end referred to the end of the world.)

The setting on the Mount of Olives is also thought by some scholars not to have been incidental, but a quite deliberate echo of a passage in the Book of Zechariah which refers to the location as the place where a final battle would occur between the Jewish Messiah and his opponents.

Many have been the prophets who announced the end of days, both those approved by the Church, as well as the not so religious ones. But surely the indelible reference to the end of days was given by the Saviour Jesus Christ himself as the evangelists St Mark, St Matthew and St Luke recount in their scripture:

Gospel of St Mark Chapter 13

Gospel of St Matthew Chapter 24

Gospel of St Luke Chapter 21


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