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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
Luke 21

 

 

Verse 1

Luke 21:1. ἀναβλέψας, looking up, giving the impression of a casual, momentary glance taken by one who had been previously preoccupied with very different matters. Mk’s narrative conveys the idea of deliberate, interested observation by one who took a position convenient for the purpose, and continued observing ( καθίσας κατέναντι, ἐθεώρει).— τὰ δῶρα, instead of Mk’s χαλκὸν. Lk. has in view only the rich; Mk., in the first place, the multitude.— πλουσίους: the whole clause from τοὺς may be taken as the object of εἶδε, saw the rich casting in, etc., or πλ. may be in apposition with τοὺς βάλλοντας = saw those casting in, etc., being rich men (so Hahn and Farrar). The former (A.V(169), Wzs.) is to be preferred.


Verses 1-4

Luke 21:1-4. The widow’s offering (Mark 12:41-44), unfortunately placed at the beginning of this chapter, which should have been devoted wholly to Christ’s solemn discourse concerning the future. Yet this mal-arrangement corresponds to the manner in which Lk. introduces that discourse, by comparison with Mt. and Mk., markedly unemphatic.


Verse 2

Luke 21:2. πενιχρὰν, needy, from πένομαι or πένης; a poetic word rarely used, here only in N.T. πτωχὴ, Mk.’s word, is stronger = reduced to beggary.— δύο λεπτά. Lk. does not think it necessary to explain what the coin was or what the contribution amounted to. Mk. states its value in Roman coinage ( κοδράντης).


Verse 3

Luke 21:3. εἶπεν: to whom not indicated. The narrator is concerned alone about the saying— ἀληθῶς, for Mk.’s Hebrew ἀμὴν, as nearly always.— πτωχὴ: Lk. does not avoid this word: the use of the other term in his preliminary narrative is a matter of style. πτωχὴ implies that the widow might have been expected to beg rather than to be giving to the temple treasury.


Verse 4

Luke 21:4. ἅπαντες οὗτοι, all these, referring to the rich and pointing to them.— ὑστερήματος: practically = Mk.’s ὑστερήσεως, preferred possibly because in use in St. Paul’s epistles: not so good a word as ὑστέρησις to denote the state of poverty out of which she gave. Lk.’s expression strictly means that she gave out of a deficit, a minus quantity (“ex eo quod deest illi,” Vulg(170)), a strong but intelligible way of putting it.— τ. βίον, her living, as in Luke 15:12; Luke 15:30 = means of subsistence. Lk. combines Mk.’s two phrases into one.


Verses 5-7

THE APOCALYPTIC DISCOURSE (Luke 21:5-38).

Luke 21:5-7. Introduction to the discourse (Matthew 24:1-3, Mark 13:1-4).— καί τινων λεγόντων, and some remarking. A most unemphatic transition, as if what follows were simply a continuation of discourse in the temple on one of many topics on which Jesus spoke. No indication that it was disciples (any of the Twelve) who asked the question, or that the conversation took place outside. Cf. the narrative in Mk. The inference that Lk. cannot have known Mk.’s narrative (Godet) is inadmissible. Lk. omits many things he knew. His interest is obviously in the didactic matter only, and perhaps we have here another instance of his “sparing the Twelve”. He may not have cared to show them filled with thoughtless admiration for a building (and a system) which was doomed to judicial destruction.— λίθοις καλοῖς, beautiful stones: marble, huge; vide Joseph., B. J., Luke 21:5; Luke 21:2.— καὶ ἀναθήμασι, and votive or sacred gifts, in Lk. only; the reference implies that the spectators are within the building. These gifts were many and costly, from the great ones of the earth: a table from Ptolemy, a chain from Agrippa, a golden vine from Herod the Great. The temple was famous for its wealth. Tacitus writes: “illic immensae opulentiae templum,” Hist., vi. 8.— κεκόσμηται: perfect, expressing the permanent result of past acts of skilful men and beneficent patrons—a highly ornamented edifice, the admiration of the world, but marked for destruction by the moral order of the universe.


Verse 6

Luke 21:6. ταῦτα θ. Some (Grotius, Pricaeus) take ταῦτα = τούτων: of these things which ye see a stone shall not be left. Most, however, take it as a nominative absolute = as for these things which ye see (vide Winer, § lxiii. 2 d). This suits better the emotional mood.— ἐλεύσονται ἡμέραι: cf. Luke 5:35, where a similar ominous allusion to coming evil days occurs.


Verse 7

Luke 21:7. διδάσκαλε, Master, suggesting its correlate, disciples, but not necessarily implying that the question proceeded from the Twelve; rather the contrary, for they would not be so formal in their manner of speaking to Jesus (cf. Mt. and Mk.).— πότε οὖν ταῦτα, etc.: the question refers exclusively to the predicted destruction of the temple = when, and what the sign? So in Mk. Cf. Mt.


Verses 8-11

Luke 21:8-11. Signs prelusive of the end (Matthew 24:4-8, Mark 13:5-11).— βλέπετε, etc., take heed that ye be not deceived. This the keynote—not to tell when, but to protect disciples from delusions and terrors.— ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου, in my name, i.e., calling themselves Christs. Vide at Mt. on these false Messiahs.— καιρὸς ἤγγικε: the καιρὸς should naturally mean Jerusalem’s fatal day.


Verse 9

Luke 21:9. ἀκαταστασίας, unsettled conditions, for ἀκοὰς πολέμων in Mt. and Mk., and perhaps intended as an explanation of that vague phrase. Hahn refers to the French Revolution and the Socialist movement of the present day as illustrating the meaning.— πτοηθῆτε = θροεῖσθε in parallels; here and in Luke 24:37.— δεῖ γὰρ, etc., cf. the laconic version in Mk. (W. and H(171)) and notes there.— πρῶτον, οὐκ εὐθέως: both emphasising the lesson that the crisis cannot come before certain things happen, and the latter hinting that it will not come even then.


Verse 10

Luke 21:10. τότε ἔλεγεν points to a new beginning in discourse, which has the effect of dissociating the repeated mention of political disturbances from what goes before, and connecting it with apostolic tribulations referred to in the sequel. In Mt. and Mk. the verse corresponding is simply an expansion of the previous thought.


Verse 11

Luke 21:11. καὶ κατὰ τόπους: the καὶ thus placed ((172) (173) (174)) dissociates κ. τ. from σεισμοί and connects it with λοιμοὶ καὶ λιμοὶ: not earthquakes, but pestilences and famines here, there, everywhere. λ. καὶ λ., a baleful conjunction common in speech and in fact.— φόβητρα, terrifying phenomena, here only in N.T. (in Isaiah 19:17, Sept(175)). The τε connects the φόβητρα with the signs from heaven next mentioned. They are in fact the same thing ( ἕν διὰ δυοῖν, Bengel).


Verse 12

Luke 21:12. πρὸ δὲ τούτων ἁπάντων: this phrase may be introduced here because Mk.’s account lying under Lk.’s eye mentions the signs in the heaven at a later stage, Luke 21:24. Or it may be Lk.’s equivalent for “these things are the beginning of birth pangs” (Mt. Luke 21:8, Mk. Luke 21:9), a Hebrew idea which he avoids.— ἀπαγομένους: a technical term in Athenian legal language.


Verses 12-19

Luke 21:12-19. Signs earlier still (Matthew 24:9-14, Mark 13:9-13).


Verse 13

Luke 21:13. ἀποβήσεται, it will turn out; as in Philippians 1:19.— ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον, for a testimony to you = to your credit or honour; = εἰς μαρτυρίου δόξαν, Theophy. So also Bleek. J. Weiss (Meyer), following Baur and Hilgenfeld, renders: it will result in your martyrdom. This meaning is kindred to that of Theophy., but can hardly be intended here (Schanz). The idea belongs to a later time, and the sense is scarcely consistent with Luke 21:18.


Verse 14

Luke 21:14. θέτε οὖν: not = consider, as in Luke 1:66, but = resolve, as in Acts 5:4 (“settle it in your hearts,” A.V(176)).— μὴ προμελετᾷν (here only in N.T.), not to study beforehand, with the inf.; not to be taken in the letter, as a rule, but in the spirit, therefore = Mk.’s προμεριμνᾶτε which counsels abstinence from anxious thought beforehand.


Verse 15

Luke 21:15. ἐγὼ, I, emphatic, the exalted Lord, instead of “the Holy Spirit” in Mk. and “the Spirit of the Father” in Matthew 10:20. The substitution bears witness to the inspiring effect of the thought of the Lord Jesus ruling in heaven on the minds of Christians enduring tribulation, at the time when Lk. wrote.— στόμα, a mouth = utterance.— σοφίαν: the wisest thing to say in the actual situation.— ἀντιστῆναι refers to στόμα, and ἀντειπεῖν to σοφίαν = “They will not be able to gainsay your speech nor to resist your wisdom” (Farrar, C. G. T.).


Verse 16

Luke 21:16. καὶ, even, by parents, etc.: non modo alienis, Beng.— ἐξ ὑμῶν, some of you, limiting the unqualified statement of Mk., and with the facts of apostolic history in view.


Verse 17

Luke 21:17. μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων, continually hated (pres. part.) by all; dismal prospect! Yet


Verse 18

Luke 21:18, θρὶξ, etc., a hair of your head shall not perish = Matthew 10:30, where it is said: “your hairs are all numbered”. What! even in the case of those who die? Yes, Jesus would have His apostles live in this faith whatever betide; an optimistic creed, necessary to a heroic life.


Verse 19

Luke 21:19. κτήσεσθε or κτήσασθε, ye shall win, or win ye; sense the same. Similar various readings in Romans 5:1, ἔχωμεν or ἔχομεν.


Verse 20

Luke 21:20. κυκλουμένην, in course of being surrounded; pres. part., but not necessarily implying that for the author of this version of Christ’s words the process is actually going on (J. Weiss—Meyer). Jesus might have so spoken conceiving Himself as present.— στρατοπέδων, camps, or armies, here only in N.T. This takes the place in Lk. of the βδέλυγμα in the parallels, avoided as at once foreign and mysterious.— ἐρήμωσις α., her desolation, including the ruin of the temple, the subject of inquiry: when besieging armies appear you know what to look for.


Verses 20-24

Luke 21:20-24. Jerusalem’s judgment day (Matthew 24:15-21, Mark 13:14-19).


Verse 21

Luke 21:21. τότε, then, momentous hour, time for prompt action.— φευγέτωσαν, flee! The counsel is for three classes: (1) those in Judaea at some distance from Jerusalem, (2) those who happen to be in Jerusalem ( ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῆς) when the armies appear, (3) those in the fields or farms round about Jerusalem ( ἐν ταῖς χώραις) who might be tempted to take refuge within the city from the invaders, thinking themselves safe within its walls, and who are therefore counselled not to enter. The corresponding counsel in the parallels, Luke 21:17-18 in Matthew , 15, 16 in Mk., vividly sets forth the necessity of immediate flight.


Verse 22

Verse 23

Luke 21:23. οὐαὶ, etc.: as in parallels as far as ἡμέραις; then follow words peculiar to Lk. concerning the ἀνάγκη and ὀργὴ. The use of the former word in the sense of distress is mainly Hellenistic; here and in St. Paul’s epistles. The latter word expresses the same idea as that in 1 Thessalonians 2:16.


Verse 24

Verse 25

Luke 21:25. σημεῖα, etc.: the reference to the signs in heaven is very summary as compared with the graphic picture in the parallels. Lk. is more interested in the state of things on earth.— συνοχὴ ., distress of nations, cf. συνέχομαι in Luke 12:50.— ἐν ἀπορίᾳ may be connected with what follows or with ἐθνῶν = nations in perplexity, in which case the last clause— ἠχοῦς, etc.—will depend on συνοχὴ = distress from the noise and billows ( σάλος = wave-movement: τῆς θαλάσσης κλύδωνος κίνησις, Hesych.) of the sea (so Hahn). The main difficulty lies in the vagueness of the reference to the sea. Is it meant literally, or is it a metaphor for the disturbed state of the world? If the latter the force of the genitives ἠχοῦς, σάλου will be best brought out by supposing ὡς to be understood = in perplexity like the state of the sea in a storm. So Heinsius (Exer. Sac.): “ ἀπορίαν illam et calamitatem mari fore similem, quoties horrendum tonat atque commovetur,” citing in support Tertullian’s veluti a sonitu maris fluctuantis. The mode of expression is very loose: the sound of the sea and the waves, instead of “the sounding waves of the sea”. Yet the crudeness of the construction suits the mood described. ἠχους may be accented ἤχους (Tisch(177)) or ἠχοῦς (W.H(178)) according as it is derived from ἦχος (neuter like ἔλεος, νῖκος, etc., in N.T.) or from ἠχώ.


Verses 25-28

Luke 21:25-28. Signs of the advent (Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27).


Verse 26

Luke 21:26. ἀποψυχόντων: literally, dying, probably meant tropically = ὡς νεκροί, Matthew 28:4.— ἀπὸ φόβου καὶ προσδοκίας, from fear and expectation, instead of fearful expectation as in Hebrews 10:27 ( φοβερὰ ἐκδοχὴ). προσδοκία here and in Acts 12:11.


Verse 27

Luke 21:27. ἐν νεφέλῃ, in a cloud, sing., instead of the plural in parallels, making the conception more literal.


Verse 28

Verse 29

Luke 21:29. καὶ πάντα τὰ δένδρα: added by Lk., generalising as in Luke 9:23 : “take up his cross daily”. The lesson is taught by all the trees, but parabolic style demands special reference to one particular tree.— προβάλωσιν, put forth (their leaves, τὰ φύλλα understood). Similar phrases in Greek authors.— βλέποντες, etc., when ye look (as who does not when spring returns!) ye know of yourselves, need no one to tell you.


Verses 29-33

Luke 21:29-33. Parabolic enforcement of the lesson (Matthew 24:32-35, Mark 13:28-31).


Verse 31

Luke 21:31. βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ, explaining the elliptical but not obscure words in Mt. and Mk.: “(it) is near,” i.e., the coming of the Son of man. For Lk. that is one with the coming of the Kingdom, which again = redemption in Luke 21:28.


Verse 32-33

Luke 21:32-33 : with slight change as in parallels, even to the retention of ἀμὴν usually replaced by ἀληθῶς. Presumably γενεὰ αὕτη means for Lk., as it must have done for the Twelve to whom the words were spoken, the generation to which Jesus Himself belonged. Hahn holds that αὕτη refers to the generation within whose time the events mentioned in Luke 21:25-26 shall happen (so also Klostermann).


Verses 34-36

Luke 21:34-36. General exhortation to watchfulness, peculiar to Lk.; each evangelist having his own epilogue.— ἐν κραιπάλῃ καὶ μέθῃ: this seems to be a phrase similar to ἠχοῦς καὶ σάλου—sound and wave for sounding wave (Luke 21:25) = in headache (from yesterday’s intoxication) and drunkenness, for: in drunkenness which causes headache and stupidity. Pricaeus denies that κραιπάλη (here only in N.T.) means yesterday’s debauch ( χθεσινὴ μέθη), and takes it = ἀδηφαγία, gluttony. That is what we expect certainly. The warning he understands figuratively. So also Bleek.— μερίμναις βιωτικαῖς, cares of life, “what shall we eat, drink?” etc. (Luke 12:22).


Verse 35

Luke 21:35. ὡς παγὶς, as a snare, joined to the foregoing clause in R.V(179) (“and that day come upon you suddenly as a snare”). Field objects that the verb following ( ἐπεισελεύσεται) does not seem sufficiently strong to stand alone, especially when the verb ἐπιστῇ is doubly emphasised by “suddenly” and “as a snare”. He therefore prefers the T.R., which connects ὡς παγὶς with what follows, the arrangement adopted in all the ancient versions. The revisers, as if conscious of the force of the above objections, insert “so,” “for so shall it come,” etc., which virtually gives ὡς παγὶς a double connection. The figure of a snare, while expressive, is less apposite than that of a thief (Luke 12:39).— καθημένους ε. π., etc., sitting on the face of the earth; the language here has a Hebrew colouring.


Verse 36

Luke 21:36. ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ, in every season.— κατισχύσητε, that ye may have power, “prevail” (R.V(180)).— καταξιωθῆτε (T.R.), “may be accounted worthy” (A.V(181)), also gives a very good meaning, even in some respects preferable.— σταθῆναι, to stand—in the judgment (so, many), or to be presented to, placed before. So most recent commentators. Either gives a good sense (Bleek).


Verse 37

Luke 21:37. ἐν τ. ἱερῷ διδάσκων, teaching in the temple. The statement covers all that is related in chapters 20, 21, including the Apocalyptic discourse = Jesus made the most of His short time for the spiritual instruction of the people.— ηὐλίζετο, lodged, imperfect, because done night after night. Some (e.g., Godet and Farrar) think Jesus with the Twelve slept in the open air. The word might mean this, though in Matthew 21:17 it appears to mean passed the night in a house in Bethany.— εἰς τ. .: the use of εἰς is probably due to the influence of ἐξερχόμενος. But Tobit 14:10 has a similar construction: μηκέτι αὐλισθῆτε εἰς νινευῆ.


Verse 37-38

Luke 21:37-38. Concluding notice as to how Jesus spent His last days.


Verse 38

Luke 21:38. ὤρθριζεν, came early, or sought Him eagerly (Meyer). ὀρθρεύω, the Greek form, always is used literally or temporarily.— ὀρθρίζω, its Hellenistic equivalent, seems sometimes to be used tropically, as in Psalms 78:34 (“early,” R.V(182), “earnestly” in margin), Sirach 4:12; Sirach 6:36. The one meaning easily runs into the other: he who rises early to learn is in earnest. Earliness in the people implies earliness in Jesus, and corresponding devotion to the work.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 21:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-21.html. 1897-1910.

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