Why The Church Is Not Referenced In The Olivet Discourse -- By: Russell L. Penney

Journal: Conservative Theological Journal
Volume: CTJ 01:1 (Apr 1997)
Article: Why The Church Is Not Referenced In The Olivet Discourse
Author: Russell L. Penney

Why The Church Is Not Referenced
In The Olivet Discourse

Russell L. Penney

Professor of Missions
Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX


The real key to determining whether the Church is referenced in the Olivet Discourse is by determining the context in which the discourse was delivered. Thus, we will first look at the larger context of the discourse, then the narrower context of the discourse, then the immediate context of the verses in question, those being Matthew 24:31, 40–41.

The Larger Context of the Discourse

Since the most complete record of the Olivet Discourse exists in Matthew’s Gospel, it is important to note the purpose for which he wrote his gospel account. This helps us understand why Matthew thought it so important to include more of the discourse than the other gospel writers, and it will also give some beginning insight to deduce the proper answer to our question of whether the church is or is not referenced in the Olivet Discourse.

By examining the overall content of Matthew’s Gospel it becomes clear that his purpose in writing was to show Jesus’ offer of the kingdom to Israel, Israel’s rejection of it and why Jesus did not bring in His kingdom at that time—all of these questions relate to Israel and God’s program for her.

Preceding the Olivet Discourse Christ had officially presented himself to the nation as their King (Matt. 21; The Triumphal Entry) but had been rejected by the nation’s leaders. Following this He had pronounced judgment on them (21:43).

In Matthew 23, the chapter immediately preceding Christ’s discourse, He delivers his “scathing denunciation” of the “scribes and Pharisees” (23:2). In it, He speaks of their hypocrisy of teaching the word but not doing the word (3–4), of the fact that their motives are evil in that they do things visibly to be “noticed by men” (23:5), and to be honored verbally (23:7). In 23:13–39 Christ delivers a stinging but accurate account of the spiritual condition of the religious leaders of the nation of Israel calling them hypocrites seven times (23:13, 14, You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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