Interpreters have understood the Olivet Discourse in at least four major ways.
Some limit the referent of Jesus’s teaching exclusively to the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 or almost exclusively to the Fall of Jerusalem (with the eschatological coming entering only after Matthew 24:36 || Mark 13:32). The validity of this view hangs on an interpretation of Matthew 24:29-31 || Mark 13:24-27 || Luke 21:15-27 which I find untenable. I hope to explain why in a future post.
At the opposite extreme are interpreters who hold the discourse to be entirely eschatological. Luz identifies this as the oldest view, linking it to the Didache (16:3-7), Irenaeus (AH 5.25.2), Hippolytus, Hilary, and Cyril of Jerusalem. However, given the limited nature of these citations, it is difficult to decide whether these writers held that the discourse was exclusively eschatological. Clear exponents of the completely eschatological view are Schlatter and Zahn.
It is difficult, to exclude the destruction of the temple in AD 70 from the discourse, since it was Jesus’s statement about its destruction that gave rise to the discourse. This approach thus does not best account for all of the data.
A common view takes part of the discourse to be historical (referring to the events of AD 70 and to the entire era from the destruction of Jerusalem to the return of Christ) and part of the discourse to be eschatological. These interpreters differ, however, upon where to draw the line between the historical and eschatological sections. The patristic author of the Incomplete Commentary on Matthew said he knew of an interpreter who divided the sermon at the abomination of desolation. What happened before that verse referred to the events of AD 70, but what occurred after referred to the eschatological coming of Christ. For Calvin, Matthew 24:1-8 and 24:15-22 refer to the events of AD 70, 24:9-14, 23-28 refer to the entire period from the fall of Jerusalem to the end, and 24:29-31 refer to the eschatological tribulation and coming. Lange proposed that the first part of the discourse unfolded in three cycles: from the apostles to the eschaton (Matt. 24:4-14), from “the approaching destruction of Jerusalem” to the final judgment (Matt. 24:15-28), and a final cycle restricted to the end (Matt. 24:29-44). Carson and Blomberg both take Matthew 24:4-28 to refer to the whole inter-advent period with verses 15-21 focusing on the fall of Jerusalem. Verses 29-31 concern the eschatological coming, and verses 32-35 again cover the entire inter-advent period.
This approach is superior to the preceding two, but it suffers from several defects. First the lack of agreement as to what is historical and what is future casts some doubt on this approach. Second, Blaising observes that this approach “renders the discourse somewhat confused.” Jesus is supposed to be addressing questions about the temple’s destruction and his return at the end of the age. But for Carson and Blomberg the discourse “begins instead with general remarks about the church age, abruptly returns to the intended agenda with the abomination of desolation, and then rockets forward to the topic of the parousia.” Third, these interpretations tend to neglect connections to the Old Testament passages which locate the entire discourse with the framework of the eschatological day of the Lord.
A fourth approach takes the discourse to refer to both the events of AD 70 and the the events of the eschatological day of the Lord. The events of AD 70 are a type of the eschatological day of the Lord, so Christ could speak of them together.
This view reaches back to the early church (Luz identifies Augustine, in a letter to Hesychius, as the originator of this view). The patristic author of the Incomplete Commentary on Matthew observed,
the Lord does not say distinctly which signs pertain to the destruction of Jerusalem and which to the end of the world, namely, so that the same signs may seem to pertain both the manifestation of the destruction of Jerusalem and to the manifestation of the end of the world because he did not explain to them in order like a history how the things were to be done, but in a prophetic manner he predicted to them the things that were to be done.
This view has commended itself to other interpreters throughout the ages. It was noted by Thomas Aquinas in his commentary on Matthew. Thomas is not entirely clear whether it is his view because he lists various interpretations without specifying his preference, but it may be his view.
Jonathan Edwards held this view:
In this chapter respect is had especially to two events, one the destruction of Jerusalem and the works of God that accompanied it, the other the end of the world. And some things are most applicable to one, and others to another, as is common in those parts of Scripture that have respect to various events.
It was also the view of nineteenth-century Baptist commentator John Broadus, who observed,
Every attempt to assign a definite point of division between the two topics has proved a failure. Place it after v. 28, saying that up to that point only the former topic is meant, and after that point only the latter, and at once we see that v. 34 must refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. Place it after v. 34 or 36 or 42, and we cannot resist the persuasion that v. 30f. (and v. 36) must refer to the final coming for judgment (comp. 12:41-43; 2 Thess. 1:7-10). But if the destruction of Jerusalem was itself in one sense a coming of the Lord, why may we not suppose that the transition from this to the final coming is gradual?
The English expositor Henry Alford agreed: “it must be borne in mind that the whole is spoken in the pregnant language of prophecy, in which various fulfilments are involved…, the destruction of Jerusalem and the final judgment being both enwrapped in the words.”
The Dutch Reformed theologians Geerhardus Vos, Herman Ridderbos. and Anthony Hoekema also take this view. Vos said, “In the answer of the Savior a sharp division is not made between what belongs to the one and what belongs to the other, and it is very difficult for us to make the division.” Hoekema observed,
As we read the discourse, however, we find that aspects of these two topics are intermingled; matters concerning the destruction of Jerusalem (epitomized by the destruction of the temple) are mingled together with matters which concern the end of the world—so much so that it is sometimes hard to determine whether Jesus is referring to the one or the other or perhaps to both. Obviously the method of teaching used here by Jesus is that of prophetic foreshortening, in which events far removed in time and events in the near future are spoken of as if they were very close together.
Craig Blaising defends this approach by observing that Christ himself did not know the day or the hour of his return (Matt. 24:36). Thus, “Jesus, by his own admission, does not know whether the AD 70 destruction and the parousia will be one and the same or two different events. In Matthew 24:4-35 sets out a “pattern” that links “Daniel’s time of the end” with the Day of the Lord. “The whole pattern is the parousia. However, just as was the case in the Old Testament, it is possible for a type of the eschatological day of the Lord to appear in history in advance of the antitype.” Blaising concludes,
In the case of the Olivet Discourse, the narrative structure which is itself a synthesis of the prophetic patterns—the day of the Lord and Daniel’s time of the end—references both the AD 70 destruction and the future parousia with language that may be wholly applicable to one, wholly applicable to another, or equally applicable to both at the same time.
The major weakness of this view is that interpreters do not always agree in their identification of the near and far fulfillments of specifics within the discourse. The patristic interpreters tended to allegorize the far fulfillments. Even later interpreters, who avoid allegorical interpretation, do not always agree on the particulars. Nonetheless, this view has a good heritage and seems to avoid the problems of the other views while incorporating their strengths.
 Owen 1812: 138-39; Wright 1996: 339-66.
 France 2002: 500-46; France 2007: 890-947.
 Luz 2005: 185.
 Noted in Ridderbos 1962: 489-91; Carson 1984: 492.
 Strauss 2014: 565.
 Oden and Bray 2010: 381.
 Calvin 1996: 118-51. Calvin commented on a harmony of the Gospels, The Matthew references above include the parallels to Mark and Luke.
 Lange 2008: 418.
 Carson 1984: 495; Blomberg 1992: 353-64.
 Blaising 2010: 38.
 Blaising 2010: 39.
 Luz 2005: 187. Aquinas, however, distinguishes Augustine’s view from this one. Aquinas 2012: 763.
 Oden and Bray 2010: 372-73.
 Aquinas 2012: 764-90.
 Edwards 2006: 864.
 Broadus 1886: 480.
 Alford 1976: 1:235.
 Vos 2016: 285. Though in a later writing Vos did distinguish between (a) the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem (vsss. 14-20); (b) the signs of the parousia (vss. 24-27).” Vos 2001: 33.
 Hoekema 1979: 148; cf. Ridderbos 1962: 477-95.
 Blaising 2010: 39.
 Blaising 2010: 40.
 Blaising 2010: 41.
 Oden and Bray 2010: 373.