Are Matthew 24 and Luke 21 the Same Teachings?
by Dave Bussard
Are Matthew 24 and Luke 21 the same teaching? Scholars have disagreed about this for years, but I’m not one to buy everything the scholars sell. While I would be a fool to not listen to their wisdom and intelligence, I strongly believe that I — and we — do not need anyone to explain the Bible to us. With diligence and the Spirit, scripture can be understood and God’s plan can be known.
Even though Matthew 24 and Luke 21 contain strong similarities, I contend that the bulk of these two sections of scripture are different teachings given at separate times. Both passages teach of the future return of Christ, but I believe the “tribulation” described in Matthew 24:9-22 is the period of time where the abomination of desolation will stand in the holy place at the midpoint of the yet-to-happen 70th Week of Daniel. The “persecution” described in Luke 21:12-24 speaks of the historical attack on Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. Continue and see if the following evidence is enough persuade you.
The Location Change
Both Matthew and Luke show that Jesus and His disciples are at the temple when the disciples point out the beauty of it. Both Matthew and Luke also make it clear that they are still at the temple when Jesus says, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down (Matt. 24:2).”
But this is where an important change takes place between these two accounts. Matthew 24:3 tells us that later on, after leaving the temple, the disciples came to Jesus privately and asked Him the million dollar question, while they were on the Mount of Olives.
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age (Matt. 24:3)?”
In Luke 21:7, there is absolutely no mention of a location change as there is in Matthew. The transition between verse 6 and 7 is smooth and seems to indicate that the conversation is still taking place in the temple when the disciples ask “when.”
“As for these things which you are now looking at (the temple’s beautiful stones and votive gifts), the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”
They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place (Luke 21:6-7)?”
Not only this, but at the conclusion of this teaching, we’re given another hint.
Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He
would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him (Luke 21:37-38).
Imagine Luke informing us in the beginning of his writing that Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, delivering His teaching. Now visualize Luke, at the end of his report, saying, “Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening, He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet.” It just wouldn’t make sense. He would have said it in the reverse. “Now during the evening, He was teaching on the mount called Olivet, but He would spend His days in the temple.”
But as we know, Luke did not indicate that Jesus was on the Mount of Olives as Matthew did. And Matthew did not include the statement Luke made concerning what Jesus traditionally did during the day.
We have verification that it was a tradition for Jesus to spend the night on the Mount of Olives, for Luke tells us this a little later, during his account concerning the night of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas.
And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed Him. (Luke 22:39)
John also shows us that this daytime/nighttime system is the way Jesus operated.
Everyone went to his home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. (John 7:53—8:2)
I believe that, in the daytime, Jesus taught publicly at the temple about what would soon take place in 70 AD. (Luke 21). Later that evening, on the Mount of Olives, He privately informed His disciples about the end of the age (Matthew 24).
Let’s continue to weigh the evidence.
Before or After What, When?
After Christ baits them with His comments about the temple’s destruction, the disciples ask the obvious question: “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place (Luke 21:7)?”
Both Matthew and Luke now give us Jesus’ exact same response about the birth pains in reply to their question. He said that many will come in His name, claiming to be the Christ, and will mislead many. He taught that there will be wars and rumors of wars. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines.
More . . .