Q. Many scholars teach that the Olivet Discourse was written for the Church, but you say the focus is on Israel. If you’re right why does the Olivet Discourse even appear in Mark and Luke when these two Gospels are mainly Gentile in their focus? Please explain.
A. This is a very important issue. 2 days before the cross 4 disciples came to Jesus with 3 questions. They were prompted by one of the disciples commenting on the beauty of the Temple and Jesus predicting its destruction.
The questions were:
1. When will this happen (the Temple’s destruction)?
2. What will be the signs of your (2nd) coming?
3. What will be the signs of the end of the age?
Their mindset in asking these questions is critical to our understanding. While the Jews were in Babylon during the 70 year captivity, the angel Gabriel had told Daniel that Israel would be given 490 years from the date they received authorization to rebuild Jerusalem to wrap everything up. (Daniel 9:24-27) 483 of those years had past. The Temple had been under construction for nearly 40 years and wasn’t finished yet. They were thinking they were nearing the end of the age and now Jesus tells them that everything will be torn down. There had never been any talk of a Church Age or a Rapture or of the disciples evangelizing the world. We know about all these things from hindsight, but they were probably in a state of great distress when they came to Him.
The answer to their first question is contained only in Luke 21:12-24. There you can read the Lord’s prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The answers to questions 2-3 are contained in all three accounts of the event. Keep in mind that when the disciples asked these questions they thought they were only 7 years away from the End. This is confirmed by the question they asked on the Mount of Olives after the resurrection. “Lord, are you now going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
As I noted in my study on the Olivet Discourse Matthew’s account is especially Jewish, warning people in Judea, invoking Jewish Sabbath Laws, and mentioning the Abomination of Desolation, an event in Jewish History. There’s no mention of the Church anywhere in any of it, because at this point in time there was no Church. Later, Paul would disclose that the Church would not be present during this time.
As for why the Olivet Discourse even appears in Mark and Luke when these two Gospels are mainly Gentile in their focus, there will be many on Earth who will miss the Rapture, perhaps coming to faith because of it. Matthew, Mark and Luke all write to them, Jew and Gentile, giving them the signs of His coming and of the End of the Age to help them persevere through mankind’s darkest Hour. Remember, just because the Olivet Discourse isn’t written to the Church doesn’t mean it isn’t for gentiles.