The Olivet Discourse is one of the most significant passages in the Bible. Known also as the Little Apocalypse, it is a prophetic sermon given by Jesus Christ to his disciples on the Mount of Olives, just before his crucifixion. In this discourse, Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age, and many scholars have debated its interpretation in the years since. In this blog post, we will explore the biblical arguments for the Olivet Discourse being completely about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD.

First, it is important to consider the historical context in which the Olivet Discourse was given. Jesus delivered this sermon in response to questions from his disciples about the destruction of the temple buildings in Jerusalem. This event occurred in 70AD when Roman armies under the command of Titus destroyed the city and the temple, fulfilling many of Jesus’ prophecies in Matthew 24.[1] Based on this historical context, many biblical scholars argue that the Olivet Discourse is about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70AD.

Second, the language used in the Olivet Discourse supports this interpretation. Throughout the discourse, Jesus uses language that is focused on the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its temple. He speaks of the “abomination of desolation,” which is a reference to the statue of the Roman god Jupiter that was erected in the temple in AD 70.[2] He also describes the city being surrounded by armies, its inhabitants being killed or taken captive, and the temple being destroyed.[3] Such details align with what occurred in Jerusalem in 70AD and make it clear that the Olivet Discourse relates to this event.

Third, references to “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 and Mark 13:30 also support the idea that the Olivet Discourse relates to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Critics argue that the use of this term suggests that Jesus’ prediction of the temple’s destruction and other events should have happened within his disciples’ lifetimes.[4] Indeed, all those living at that time in Jerusalem would have seen these events occur in their lifetime, supporting the idea that the Olivet Discourse was predicting events that would occur shortly after his death.[5]

Fourth, Jesus’ warning to his followers to flee when they saw the abomination of desolation take place (Matthew 24:16) seems more applicable to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD than to any future event. When the statue of Jupiter was installed in the temple, Christians fled Jerusalem to avoid persecution and death at the hands of the Romans, just as Jesus had warned.[6] This warning is consistent with the above interpretation of the Olivet Discourse.

In conclusion, the Olivet Discourse presents a prophetic account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70AD. The historical context, language, and details found in the passage support this conclusion, as do references to “this generation” and Jesus’ warning to flee when the abomination of desolation takes place. Christians must study this passage closely to gain a better understanding of its message and how it applies to their faith.

[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 901.
[2] Ibid., 899-900.
[3] Ibid., 893-898.
[4] Ibid., 901.
[5] Davis W. Huckabee, “The Olivet Discourse and the Destruction of Jerusalem,” in Messiah, the Healer of the Sick: A Study of Jesus as Physician in the Gospel of Matthew, Library of New Testament Studies (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2003), 72.
[6] France, 902-903.