A number of years ago I discarded my dogmatic pre-trib pre-mil dispensationalist position as unScriptural, and became a devout pan-millennialist... "it will all pan out in the end".
I have long believed that a proper understanding of Jesus' Olivet Discourse was the key to a Scriptural eschatology. Kenneth Gentry has had a significant impact on my understanding of the nature and timing of the "Great Tribulation" as described in Jesus' Olivet Discourse, although I do disagree with him on some other aspects of his interpretation.
I worked on documenting some of my thoughts on the Olivet Discourse over this Christmas break, so I figured I'd share those thoughts with my brothers and sisters here.
One of the keys for my understanding of the Olivet Discourse involves tracking Jesus' use of the phrase "these things" and "all these things" throughout his discourse.
I believe Jesus discusses four specific time frames in the Olivet Discourse.
1. 33 AD - 66 AD: The ministry and persecution of his disciples that takes place prior to the Great Tribulation
2. 66 AD - 70 AD: The Great Tribulation. I believe Jesus' use of the phrase "these things" and "all these things" refers specifically to the Great Tribulation and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Jesus explicitly states that "these things" would occur within the timeframe of his contemporary generation.
3. "The Times of the Gentiles" - I believe this term spans the period of time between the Great Tribulation and the future return of Christ on the clouds.
4. The Coming of the Son of Man - Unlike the Great Tribulation which would be accompanied by signs and happen during Jesus' contemporary generation, the timing of the coming of the Son of Man was unknown and would not happen for a "long time".
I've copy/pasted some of my notes below
A. Jesus Prophesies the Destruction of the Temple
1. Jesus associates the phrase “these things” (Luk 21:6) and “all these things” (Mat 24:2) with his prophecy regarding the destruction of the Temple.
B. The Disciples’ Questions
1. The disciples ask:
a. When will “these things” be?
b. What will be the sign when “all these things” are going to be fulfilled?
2. The disciples associate the destruction of the Temple (ie “these things”) with the coming of Jesus and the end of the age (Mat 24:3).
C. The Beginning of Birth Pangs
1. Jesus associates “wars and rumors of wars”, famines, earthquakes, and great signs from the heavens with “these things”
2. Jesus tells the disciples that “these things” must take place first, but “the end” will not follow immediately.
3. Jesus tells the disciples that “all these things” are the beginning of birth pangs.
D. Before All “These Things” – AD 33-66 (Luke 21:12)
1. Before “all these things” the disciples will be persecuted, and they will stand before governors and kings for Jesus sake.
2. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations, and then “the end” will come.
E. “These Things” – The Great Tribulation (AD 66-70)
1. Luke 21:20 equates the “Abomination of Desolation” with Jerusalem surrounded with armies.
2. According to Jesus “those days” will be a “great tribulation”, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
3. During the Great Tribulation, if anyone says, ‘Here is the Christ’ do not believe him.
4. Jesus says that the coming of the Son of Man will be like lightening flashing from the east to the west.
F. The Times of the Gentiles
1. Immediately after the Tribulation of “those days”, the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.
2. Luke 21:24 associates the powers of the heavens being shaken with “the times of the Gentiles”.
G. The Coming of the Son of Man
1. The coming of the Son of Man occurs after the Times of the Gentiles which takes place after the Great Tribulation of Those Days (ie after “all these things”)
H. This Generation Will Not Pass Away Until “All These Things” Take Place
1. When you see “all these things” happening recognize that the kingdom of God (it) is near.
2. This generation will not pass away until “all these things” take place.
3. “All these things” relates to the events surrounding the destruction of the Temple (Mat 24:2) and the Great Tribulation.
I. That Day
1. “That Day” = “The coming of the Son of Man” (Mat 24:36-37)
“Those Days” = The Great Tribulation (Mark 13:19)
2. The timing of “That Day” vs “These Things”
a. Known vs Unknown
- Recognizable signs are associated with “these things”
- The Son of Man is coming (ie “that day”) at an hour when you do not think He will (Mat 24:44).
- No one knows when “that day” will take place, not even the Son. (Mat 24:36)
b. Soon vs A Long Time
- This generation will not pass away until “all these things” take place (Mat 24:34).
- “That day” is not coming for a “long time” (Mat 24:48)