Many interpreters miss the most important structural element in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24–25.
After they read “and then the end will come” in verse 14, they assume everything that comes after that beginning in verse 15 are events that occur during the end of the age. This is deeply mistaken. The end is brought about by the inception of the parousia depicted in verse 30. Verses 15–29 function, not as describing the end of the age, but instead as parenthetical, developing what comes before the end of the age, specifically the great tribulation characterized in verses 9–14.
I wrote about this in my Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord (pp. 23–24). Here is an excerpt:
The Great Tribulation Developed
“So when you see the abomination of desolation—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. The one on the roof must not come down to take anything out of his house, and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great suffering [i.e. tribulation] unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe him. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Remember, I have told you ahead of time. So then, if someone says to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe him. For just like the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matt. 24:15–28)
Verse 15 is one of the most important structural verses in the Olivet Discourse. It introduces a parenthetical section clarifying and unpacking the previous passage: “So when you see the abomination of desolation—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place.” In other words, verses 15–28 do not sequentially follow verses 9–14; instead, they thematically develop verses 9–14 on the tribulation, persecution, and spiritual action the believer is to take. We know this to be the case for a few reasons. Most importantly, verse 15 begins with the conjunction “so” (oun), which some Bible versions render “therefore.” This conjunction functions inferentially as a “deduction, conclusion, or summary to the preceding discussion.” A second reason for the parenthetical nature is that the audience in verses 15–28 is the same as the audience before verse 15. Jesus uses the second person “you” consistently without any hint that he has two different groups of believers in view. The same “you” in verse 9 is the same “you” in verse 15 (see also vv. 20–26). There is a final reason for the parenthetical nature in verses 15–28. While verses 9–14 give a general or “shotgun” description of events that will precede the end of the age, verses 15–28 draw attention to the spiritual response of the believer who will experience the events.