There are a number of views of the Olivet Discourse, including Historicist, the Preterist, and the Futurist. The Historicist interpreter sees biblical prophecies as being already fulfilled. For example, if you believe Jesus, at his 1st Coming, fulfilled biblical prophecy, then you've indulged in an historicist interpretation.


Others believe in Futurist interpretations. If you believe that Jesus is Coming Again a 2nd time then you've indulged in futurist interpretation.


The Preterist is, in my opinion, too unorthodox, because he believes that most all of biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled, and very little future prophecy remains to be fulfilled. Most people have a combination of historicist and futurist interpretations. For example, most Christians believe that biblical prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus' 1st Coming, and will also be fulfilled in Jesus' 2nd Coming. Much less do people believe that virtually all biblical prophecy was fulfilled in the past.


I believe in a combination of both historicist and futurist interpretations, but I want to focus in particular upon the Olivet Discourse, where these various interpretive systems really have a conflict. I would argue that most of the Early Church Fathers believed that the Olivet Discourse focused primarily on the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD as a sign of God's rejection of Jewish worship. The temple was completely destroyed.


Luke 21.5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”.....
20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.....
32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."


Jesus began the Discourse at the temple, where he declared straight out that the temple would be destroyed, stone by stone. And when asked *when* this event would take place he explained it would take place in his own generation. And so, the Church Fathers largely saw in the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem an historicist fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy.


However, a couple of Church Fathers, Irenaeus and his disciple Hippolytus, saw in this same Discourse a prophecy of the coming Antichrist. This was the futurist interpretation. Although Antichrist himself is not named in Jesus' Olivet Discourse, Irenaeus assumed that this was talking about Antichrist, because he saw in the term "Abomination of Desolation" a picture of the Antichrist. (see Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.25.1-5)


Since Irenaeus was a notable futurist interpreter of the Olivet Discourse, let's examine why he inserted Antichrist into this discussion. Let me just say that he saw in the term "Abomination of Desolation" the Antichrist because he saw a relationship between 2 Thessalonians 2 and Matthew 24. As the Abomination "stands in the Holy Place,"the Antichrist "sits in the temple of God." These two passages sound alike, but are not necessarily the same thing. However, Irenaeus thought so.


Matthew 24.15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."
2 Thess 2.4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.


The Preterists, by contrast, see the Abomination of Desolation as historically fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But they go much farther and refuse to accept a future Beast and and a future Antichrist, which is portrayed in the book of Revelation. These are portrayed as taking place in the last 3.5 years of the age in Revelation 13.


They believe the Beast was fulfilled in the ancient Roman Empire. And they believe that the Antichrist was fulfilled in either Nero or in some other ruler in ancient history. Since Preterism was introduced by Alcasar in the early 17th century, it is not really an interpretation with a great depth of historical validation.


As I said, most of the Church Fathers seemed to favor the historicist position, which I also take. And even the Preterists take some of this position. But the historicist position does not mean that there are no futurist elements in the Olivet Discourse. It only means that they see the primary focus of the Discourse, with respect to the Abomination of Desolation, to be the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Other elements in the Discourse remain future, such as the preaching of the gospel to all nations and the dispersion of the Jews into all nations. And of course, Christ comes the 2nd time to defeat the Antichrist.


So let's take a look at how the Abomination of Desolation should be viewed, from an historicist perspective. 1st, the Abomination of Desolation contains the word "desolation," which corresponds to Jesus' description of the temple's desolation. Furthermore, since Jesus said this would take place in his own generation, this "desolation" could only have been the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.


Secondly, Luke in ch. 21 explicitly declares that Jerusalem, in the process of being destroyed, would be encircled by armies. This is said in the same place in the Discourse where the other versions describe the Abomination of Desolation. Thus, the Abomination of Desolation is the encirclement of Jerusalem by armies.


Matthew and Mark latched onto Jesus' words, the "Abomination of Deesolation," while Luke latched onto Jesus' description of the "encirclement of Jerusalem by armies." Jesus' actual discourse was likely much longer than we have recorded, and Jesus likely referred to both the Abomination of Desolation and the encirclement of Jerusalem by armies. But since the Abomination of Desolation and the encirclement of Jerusalem by armies take place in the exact same place in the Discourse, they likely referred to the same event.


Thirdly, historicists would see a connection between the destruction of Jerusalem Jesus described and Daniel's description, in ch. 9, of the same. In Daniel 9 is the famous 70 Weeks Prophecy, which is fulfilled with the cutting off of Christ, and with the destruction of "the city and the sanctuary. And later he described it as the "Abomination of Desolation."


However, there are several references to an Abomination of Desolation in Daniel. Some of these references seem to apply to Antiochus 4 of the 2nd century AD. Only one of these references refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in the time of Christ, and that is in Dan 9.


And so, the Olivet Discourse appears to be Jesus' version of the 70 Weeks Prophecy in Daniel 9, identifying the Abomination of Desolation as the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. It is at that time, when Jerusalem is defeated by the Romans, that the period of great tribulation begins for the Jewish People, ending with the fulfillment of the "times of the Gentiles" at the end of the age. In the meantime, believers among the Jews initially, and later Christians from all nations, suffer in this tribulation, as they await the end of their gospel mission.


There is concern about how the Abomination of Desolation can "stand in the holy place," and many have disagreed on exactly what the "abomination" is, and where it "stands?" I personally believe it is self-explanatory in Luke's version, and in Daniel 9 itself. It is the armies of Rome who stand against Jerusalem and the temple, encircling Jerusalem and laying siege against it, that identifies them as an "abomination" standing on the "holy outskirts" of Jerusalem.


Some see the "Holy Place" here as the temple itself. But the armies initially surrounded Jerusalem in 66 AD, and withdrew, giving time for Christians to flee from the city and from the countryside. The actual destruction of the city took place later in 70 AD when a 2nd Army arrived in Jerusalem to destroy the city and the sanctuary.


I see no need, however, to believe the "holy place" refers to the temple, even though that is the most common use of the term "holy place." Rather, an area adjacent to God's dwelling place can be viewed itself as a "holy place," and not strictly the area where God Himself sits.


For example, the Holy Place inside the temple was adjacent to God's dwelling in the Holy of Holies. The courtyard of the priests was considered a "holy place" because it was adjacent to the temple. And Jerusalem itself is considered the "holy city" because it is the city surrounding the temple courtyard and the temple itself.


So I would ask, why wouldn't the area around Jerusalem be considered holy if it is adjacent to the holy city? In fact these armies are described by Jesus as "standing in the holy place" when they lay siege to Jerusalem. So it must be that the holy place is the territory in the vicinity of Jerusalem from which an army can attack.