Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 21







Verse 1

Luke 21:1. , 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 ( , ).— , instead of Mk’s . Lk. has in view only the rich; Mk., in the first place, the multitude.— : the whole clause from may be taken as the object of , saw the rich casting in, etc., or . may be in apposition with = saw those casting in, etc., being rich men (so Hahn and Farrar). The former (A.V[169], Wzs.) is to be preferred.

[169] Authorised Version.



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. , needy, from or ; a poetic word rarely used, here only in N.T. , Mk.’s word, is stronger = reduced to beggary.— . 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 ( ).



Verse 3

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



Verse 4

Luke 21:4. , all these, referring to the rich and pointing to them.— : practically = Mk.’s , preferred possibly because in use in St. Paul’s epistles: not so good a word as 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.— . , her living, as in Luke 15:12; Luke 15:30 = means of subsistence. Lk. combines Mk.’s two phrases into one.

[170] Vulgate (Jerome’s revision of old Latin version).



Verses 5-7


Luke 21:5-7. Introduction to the discourse (Matthew 24:1-3, Mark 13:1-4).— , 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.— , beautiful stones: marble, huge; vide Joseph., B. J., Luke 21:5; Luke 21:2.— , 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.— : 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. . Some (Grotius, Pricaeus) take = : 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.— : cf.Luke 5:35, where a similar ominous allusion to coming evil days occurs.



Verse 7

Luke 21:7. , 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.).— , 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).— , etc., take heed that ye be not deceived. This the keynote—not to tell when, but to protect disciples from delusions and terrors.— , in my name, i.e., calling themselves Christs. Vide at Mt. on these false Messiahs.— : the should naturally mean Jerusalem’s fatal day.



Verse 9

Luke 21:9. , unsettled conditions, for 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.— = in parallels; here and in Luke 24:37.— , etc., cf. the laconic version in Mk. (W. and H[171]) and notes there.— , : both emphasising the lesson that the crisis cannot come before certain things happen, and the latter hinting that it will not come even then.

[171] Westcott and Hort.



Verse 10

Luke 21:10. 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. : the thus placed ([172] [173] [174]) dissociates . . from and connects it with : not earthquakes, but pestilences and famines here, there, everywhere. . ., a baleful conjunction common in speech and in fact.— , terrifying phenomena, here only in N.T. (in Isaiah 19:17, Sept[175]). The connects the with the signs from heaven next mentioned. They are in fact the same thing ( , Bengel).

[172] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[173] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[174] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with and B.

[175] Septuagint.



Verse 12

Luke 21:12. : 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.— : 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. , it will turn out; as in Philippians 1:19.— , for a testimony to you = to your credit or honour; = , 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. : not = consider, as in Luke 1:66, but = resolve, as in Acts 5:4 (“settle it in your hearts,” A.V[176]).— (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 which counsels abstinence from anxious thought beforehand.

[176] Authorised Version.



Verse 15

Luke 21:15. , 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.— , a mouth = utterance.— : the wisest thing to say in the actual situation.— refers to , and to = “They will not be able to gainsay your speech nor to resist your wisdom” (Farrar, C. G. T.).



Verse 16

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



Verse 17

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



Verse 18

Luke 21:18, , 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. or , ye shall win, or win ye; sense the same. Similar various readings in Romans 5:1, or .



Verse 20

Luke 21:20. , 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.— , camps, or armies, here only in N.T. This takes the place in Lk. of the in the parallels, avoided as at once foreign and mysterious.— ., 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. , then, momentous hour, time for prompt action.— , flee! The counsel is for three classes: (1) those in Judaea at some distance from Jerusalem, (2) those who happen to be in Jerusalem ( ) when the armies appear, (3) those in the fields or farms round about Jerusalem ( ) 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 23

Luke 21:23. , etc.: as in parallels as far as ; then follow words peculiar to Lk. concerning the and . 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 25

Luke 21:25. , 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.— ., distress of nations, cf. in Luke 12:50.— may be connected with what follows or with = nations in perplexity, in which case the last clause— , etc.—will depend on = distress from the noise and billows ( = wave-movement: , 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 , will be best brought out by supposing to be understood = in perplexity like the state of the sea in a storm. So Heinsius (Exer. Sac.): “ 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. may be accented (Tisch[177]) or (W.H[178]) according as it is derived from (neuter like , , etc., in N.T.) or from .

[177]isch. Tischendorf.

[178] Westcott and Hort.



Verses 25-28

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



Verse 26

Luke 21:26. : literally, dying, probably meant tropically = , Matthew 28:4.— , from fear and expectation, instead of fearful expectation as in Hebrews 10:27 ( ). here and in Acts 12:11.



Verse 27

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



Verse 29

Luke 21:29. : 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.— , put forth (their leaves, understood). Similar phrases in Greek authors.— , 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. , 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 usually replaced by . Presumably 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 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.— : this seems to be a phrase similar to —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 (here only in N.T.) means yesterday’s debauch ( ), and takes it = , gluttony. That is what we expect certainly. The warning he understands figuratively. So also Bleek.— , cares of life, “what shall we eat, drink?” etc. (Luke 12:22).



Verse 35

Luke 21:35. , 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 ( ) does not seem sufficiently strong to stand alone, especially when the verb is doubly emphasised by “suddenly” and “as a snare”. He therefore prefers the T.R., which connects 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 a double connection. The figure of a snare, while expressive, is less apposite than that of a thief (Luke 12:39).— . ., etc., sitting on the face of the earth; the language here has a Hebrew colouring.

[179] Revised Version.



Verse 36

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

[180] Revised Version.

[181] Authorised Version.



Verse 37

Luke 21:37. . , 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.— , 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.— . .: the use of is probably due to the influence of . But Tobit 14:10 has a similar construction: .



Verse 37-38

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



Verse 38

Luke 21:38. , came early, or sought Him eagerly (Meyer). , the Greek form, always is used literally or temporarily.— , 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.

[182] Revised Version.



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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 21". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.