First off, the premise is that in Luke 21, the question is concerning the destruction of the temple and a sign to look for just before that destruction would happen. Jesus answers the question by describing the sign of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. Later, in a private setting, four disciples come to Jesus and inquire about when these things would happen, and more specifically, what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age. Jesus then delivers the Olivet Discourse which focuses exclusively on His coming since He has already answered questions regarding the destruction of the temple in a public setting.
The issue that I left open is whether or not Luke included any material from the Olivet Discourse in the latter part of what we should term the temple discourse. There is a break in the text in between verses 24 and 25 which is precisely the point at which Jesus has answered the question concerning the sign of the destruction of the temple. I mentioned that it was possible that the temple discourse ended there, while the comments which followed could have been spoken at a later point in time. While that is possible, it is not probable. All of Luke 21:8-36 was most likely spoken in public at the temple at the same time. There are two main reasons that I believe there is a continuity in the entire text.
#1- In verse 24, Jesus has mentioned the dispersion of Israel amongst the Gentiles nations and Jerusalem being trodden down by Gentile nations, both continuing until the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled. Why would Jesus leave this issue open ended? Although His Coming was not inquired of, the description of this period in time should be followed by the conclusion of this period in time. As Jesus describes His coming, He is giving the conclusion for the times of the Gentiles. It may at first seem out of place. Jesus is supposed to be talking about the temple, right?
As Jesus inserts comments concerning His coming, He is not off-topic at all. The subject is still the destruction of the temple which would lead into a period of time characterized by Israel dispersed and Jerusalem trodden down. Note: I believe that the times of the Gentiles began with the Babylonian captivity. What will bring this time to a conclusion? The Son of Man will come with power and great glory. Luke goes on to include a comment concerning the kingdom of God being close at hand when these things come to pass. The kingdom of God will obviously bring to a close the times of the Gentiles. So all comments that Jesus makes concerning His coming are completely appropriate even though He has not been asked concerning His coming in this setting. He is bringing the original question to a complete conclusion.
#2- Practically everything that Luke writes is original and unique to Luke. No other gospel writer includes the words of Christ as Luke records them here. There are a couple of parallels, but they are not identical and contain significant differences. Consider the following.
Vs. 25 ~ Has a vague parallel in the description of the cosmic signs in Matthew and Mark. However, Luke does not describe exactly what the sun, moon, and stars will do; just simply that there will be signs. Luke includes that there will be roaring of the waves of the sea as well.
Vs. 26 ~ "Men’s hearts failing them for fear." No other gospel writer records this.
Vs. 27 ~ Christ coming with great power and glory. Parallels in other gospels, but not just in the Olivet Discourse. This is how Christ spoke on a number of occasions concerning His coming.
Vs. 28 ~ "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." No other gospel writer records these words.
Vs. 29-33 These words have parallels in the Olivet Discourse. The wording has a few key differences that lead me to believe that Christ spoke them during the temple discourse, then further clarified and spoke them again during the Olivet Discourse. In Luke, Jesus is speaking about the kingdom of God as the conclusion for the times of the Gentiles. In Matthew and Mark, He has given the sign of the abomination of desolation to occur just before His coming. So the words apply slightly different to both circumstances.
Vs. 34-36 "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." No other gospel writer records these words. They are unique to Luke. There is simply too much original material for me to believe that Luke copied from Mark, Matthew, or even Q. Luke received his material from those who heard Jesus speak at the temple. Matthew and Mark received their material from those who heard Jesus speak on the Mount of Olives.
Based on these two reasons, I believe that Luke entire discourse as recorded here in Luke 21 was spoken at the temple. There are parallels, but the first discourse led into the second discourse which prompted Jesus to review some of the things He had already said and further clarify them.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman