In an earlier post I noted that there are four major approaches to the Olivet Discourse. (1) It refers entirely or primarily to the events of AD 70. (2) It refers entirely to eschatological events. (3) It refers to events that span from the first century through the present to the eschatological return of Christ. (4) It refers to AD 70 as the type of the Day of the Lord and to the eschatological Day of the Lord itself.
The interpretation of these verses largely determines whether an interpreter will adopt view 3 or view 4 (the two most likely interpretive options).
Matthew 24:4-8; Mark 13:5-8; Luke 21:8-11
These verses were clearly fulfilled typologically in the years between Christ’s ascension and the destruction of the temple in AD 70. Many commentators document these historical fulfillments:
Various messianic pretenders arose, most notably Theudas (Acts 5:36; Josephus, Ant. 20.97–99, 160–72, 188, who describes other false claimants as well). The war of Israel against Rome began in A.D. 66–67 and was preceded by the growing hostility incited by the Zealots. Famine ravaged Judea, as predicted in Acts 11:27–30, datable to ca. A.D. 45–47 by Josephus, Ant. 20.51–53. Earthquakes shook Laodicea in A.D. 60–61 and Pompeii in A.D. 62 (cf. also Acts 16:26).
However, as is common when type is followed by its anti-type, the type only foreshadows the fuller fulfillment of the type. Luz observes that, “we should understand their ‘I am the Christ’ as a way of identifying with Jesus Christ and not as a general messianic claim.” And even if the claim is understood as general, Meyer observes,
We possess no historical record of any false Messiahs having appeared previous to the destruction of Jerusalem (Barcochba did not make his appearance till the time of Hadrian); for Simon Magus (Acts 8:9), Theudas (Acts 5:36), the Egyptian (Acts 21:38), Menander, Dositheus, who have been referred to as cases in point …, did not pretend to be the Messiah.
Thus the first century shadows point toward a fuller, future fulfillment.
Many interpreters understand these verses to describe the entire inter-advent period. Even some who in general see later parts of the discourse as concerning both AD 70 and the future, see these verses as exclusively focused on the entire inter-advent period. These interpreters think that Jesus’s statement “but the end is not yet/immediately” (24:6 || 13:7 || 21:9) indicates that this section cannot present the events of the day of the Lord. Blomberg even proposes that parallels between this section and Revelation 6 confirm this (on the supposition that the eschatological tribulation period cannot begin until the seven seals are broken).
However, it is best to understand these verses as referring typologically to the first century and ultimately to the ultimate day of the Lord. In terms of the type, the end in view is the destruction of the temple. There is a definite first-century referent to “the end” as far as the type is concerned. Regarding the anti-type, the end “must be taken as referring to the end of the dolores Messiae,” that is the end of Messianic pangs (see v. 8), which signify the time of great trouble that precede the Son’s return to earth. Vos observed,
As an infant cannot be born without pains, so too the rebirth of the entire earthly creation, which coincides with the end, will occur under terrible labor pains. The beginning of those pains consists of wars, sicknesses, famines, and earthquakes. In itself all of this would not yet be something special, but Luke 21:11 tells us that this will be accompanied by “terrible things and great signs from heaven,” thus by something absolutely extraordinary, so that it will be easy to distinguish them from ordinary disasters and distresses.
Carson provides some helpful information about the “birth pains”:
“Birth pains” (v. 8) in this context (elsewhere in the NT in Acts 2:24 [“agony”]; 1 Thess. 5:3) stems from such OT passages as Isaiah 13:8; 26:17; Jeremiah 4:31; 6:24; Micah 4:9-10. By this time it was almost a special term for “the birthpangs of the Messiah,” the period of distress preceding the Messianic age.
Though most of the Old Testament passages cited by Carson refer to Israel writhing under historical judgments, Isaiah 13:8 links the image with the eschatological day of the Lord (cf. Isa. 13:6). Significantly, Paul alludes to the birth pains of the Olivet Discourse in his description of the onset of the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Thus Paul interprets that these verses as referring ultimately to the final day of the Lord.
This distinction between the initial birth pangs and “the end” reveals that the final day of the Lord is not an instantaneous event coterminous with the return of Christ. Instead, these verses indicate that “the eschatological tribulation extend[s] over time.”
Luz captures the meaning of this section of the discourse well
when, while acknowledging first century applicability, he states, “Thus begin the ‘pangs’—that is, the
tribulations of the last days…. Thus all of that is not yet the end, but it
does deal with the beginnings of the end.”
 Blomberg 1992: 356; cf. Aquinas 2012: 764-65; Alford 1976: 236-37; Edwards 2002: 391-92
 Luz 2005: 191.
 Meyer 1884: 128.
 Carson 1984: 497; Osborne 2010: 874.
 Turner 2008: 565.
 Blomberg 1992: 353-54; cf. Cranfield 1959: 396.
 Cf. Aquinas 2012: 764-65; Nolland 2005: 962-63; Blaising 2010: 41, 45, n. 39.
 Garland 2011: 829.
 Meyer 1884: 129.
 Vos 2016: 285.
 Carson 1984: 498; cf. Blaising 2010: 45-46. Note, however, that Carson understands these verses to refer to the entire inter-advent period.
 Milligan 1908: 65; Morris 1984: 94; Best 1986: 208; Green 2002: 234; Beale 2003: 137; Davies and Allison 2004b: 340, 342; Shogren 2012: 204.
 As in Beale 2003: 144.
 Davies and Allison 2004b: 341.
 Luz 2005: 192.