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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Luke 21

Verse 1

And he looked up (Αναβλεψας δε). He had taken his seat, after the debate was over and the Sanhedrin had slunk away in sheer defeat, "over against the treasury" (Mark 12:41). The word for "treasury" (γαζοφυλακιον) is a compound of γαζα (Persian word for royal treasury) and φυλακη guard or protection. It is common in the LXX, but in the N.T. only here and Mark 12:41; Mark 12:43; John 8:20. Jesus was watching (Mark 12:41) the rich put in their gifts as a slight diversion from the intense strain of the hours before.

Verse 2

Poor (πενιχραν). A rare word from πενης (πενομα, to work for one's living). Latin penuria and Greek πειναω, to be hungry are kin to it. Here only in the N.T. Mark 12:42 has πτωχη, a more common word from πτωσσω, to be frightened, to strike and hide from fear, to be in beggary. And Luke uses this adjective also of her in verse Luke 21:3.

Verse 3

More than they all (πλειον παντων). Ablative case after the comparative πλειον.

Verse 4

All these did cast (παντες ουτο εβαλον). Constative second aorist active indicative covering the whole crowd except the widow.

Living (βιον). Livelihood as in Mark 12:44, not ζωην, principle of life.

Verse 5

As some spake (τινων λεγοντων). Genitive absolute. The disciples we know from Mark 13:1; Matthew 24:1.

How (οτ). Literally, "that."

It was adorned (κεκοσμητα). Perfect passive indicative, state of completion, stands adorned, tense retained in indirect discourse, though English has to change it. Κοσμεω, old and common verb for orderly arrangement and adorning.

With goodly stones and offerings (λιθοις καλοις κα αναθημασιν). Instrumental case. Some of these stones in the substructure were enormous. "The columns of the cloister or portico were monoliths of marble over forty feet high" (Plummer). Cf. Josephus, War, V.5. The word αναθημα (here only in the N.T.) is not to be confused with αναθεμα from the same verb ανατιθημ, but which came to mean a curse (Galatians 1:8; Acts 23:14). So αναθεμα came to mean devoted in a bad sense, αναθημα in a good sense. "Thus knave, lad, becomes a rascal; villain, a farmer, becomes a scoundrel; cunning, skilful, becomes crafty" (Vincent). These offerings in the temple were very numerous and costly (2Macc. 3:2-7) like the golden vine of Herod with branches as tall as a man (Josephus, Ant. XV. ii.3).

Verse 6

As for these things (ταυτα). Accusative of general reference.

One stone upon another (λιθος επ λιθω). Stone upon stone (locative). Here both Mark 13:2; Matthew 24:2 have επ λιθον (accusative). Instead of ουκ αφεθησετα (future passive) they both have ου μη αφεθη (double negative with aorist passive subjunctive). It was a shock to the disciples to hear this after the triumphal entry.

Verse 8

That ye be not led astray (μη πλανηθητε). First aorist passive subjunctive with μη (lest). This verb πλαναω occurs here only in Luke though often in the rest of the N.T. (as Matthew 24:4; Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:11; Matthew 24:24, which see). Our word planet is from this word.

The time is at hand (ο καιρος ηγγικεν). Just as John the Baptist did of the kingdom (Matthew 3:2) and Jesus also (Mark 1:15).

Go ye not after them (μη πορευθητε οπισω αυτων). First aorist passive subjunctive with μη. A needed warning today with all the false cries in the religious world.

Verse 9

Be not terrified (μη πτοηθητε). First aorist passive subjunctive with μη from πτοεω an old verb to terrify, from πτοα, terror. In the N.T. only here and Luke 24:37.

First (Πρωτον). It is so easy to forget this and to insist that the end is "immediately" in spite of Christ's explicit denial here. See Matthew 24:4-40.24.42; Mark 13:1-41.13.37 for discussion of details for Luke 21:8-42.21.36, the great eschatological discourse of Jesus

Verse 11

Famines and pestilences (λοιμο κα λιμο). Play on the two words pronounced just alike in the Koine (itacism).

And terrors (φοβηθρα τε). The use of τε ... τε in this verse groups the two kinds of woes. This rare word φοβηθρα is only here in the N.T. It is from φοβεω, to frighten, and occurs only in the plural as here.

Verse 12

But before all these things (προ δε τουτων παντων). In Mark 13:8; Matthew 24:8 these things are termed "the beginning of travail." That may be the idea here. Plummer insists that priority of time is the point, not magnitude.

Bringing you (απαγομενους). Present passive participle from απαγω, an old verb to lead off or away. But here the participle is in the accusative plural, not the nominative like παραδιδοντες (present active participle, delivering you up), agreeing with υμας not expressed the object of παραδιδοντες, "you being brought before or led off." "A technical term in Athenian legal language" (Bruce).

Verse 13

It shall turn unto you (αποβησετα υμιν). Future middle of αποβαινω. It will come off, turn out for you (dative of advantage).

For a testimony (εις μαρτυριον). To their loyalty to Christ. Besides, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

Verse 14

Not to meditate beforehand (μη προμελεταιν). The classical word for conning a speech beforehand. Mark 13:11 has προμεριμναω, a later word which shows previous anxiety rather than previous preparation.

How to answer (απολογηθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive. It is the preparation for the speech of defence (apology) that Jesus here forbids, not the preparation of a sermon.

Verse 15

Your adversaries (ο αντικειμενο υμιν). Those who stand against, line up face to face with (note αντι-).

To withstand or to gainsay (αντιστηνα η αντειπειν). Two second aorist active infinitives with αντι- in composition again. But these "antis" will go down before the power of Christ.

Verse 16

Shall they cause to be put to death (θανατωσουσιν). Future active of θανατοω, to put to death or to make to die (causative). Either makes sense here. Old and common verb.

Verse 17

Not a hair of your head shall perish (θριξ εκ της κεφαλης υμων ου μη απολητα). Only in Luke. Second aorist middle subjunctive of απολλυμ with ου μη (double negative). Jesus has just said that some they will put to death. Hence it is spiritual safety here promised such as Paul claimed about death in Philippians 1:21.

Verse 19

Ye shall win (κτησεσθε). Future middle of κταομα, to acquire. They will win their souls even if death does come.

Verse 20

Compassed with armies (κυκλουμενην υπο στρατοπεδων). Present passive participle of κυκλοω, to circle, encircle, from κυκλος, circle. Old verb, but only four times in N.T. The point of this warning is the present tense, being encircled. It will be too late after the city is surrounded. It is objected by some that Jesus, not to say Luke, could not have spoken (or written) these words before the Roman armies came. One may ask why not, if such a thing as predictive prophecy can exist and especially in the case of the Lord Jesus. The word στρατοπεδων (στρατος, army, πεδον, plain) is a military camp and then an army in camp. Old word, but only here in the N.T.

Then know (τοτε γνωτε). Second aorist active imperative of γινωσκω. Christians did flee from Jerusalem to Pella before it was too late as directed in Luke 21:21; Mark 13:14; Matthew 24:16.

Verse 22

That may be fulfilled (του πλησθηνα). Articular infinitive passive to express purpose with accusative of general reference. The O.T. has many such warnings (Hosea 9:7; Deuteronomy 28:49-5.28.57, etc.).

Verse 24

Edge of the sword (στοματ μαχαιρης). Instrumental case of στοματ which means "mouth" literally (Genesis 34:26). This verse like the close of verse Luke 21:22 is only in Luke. Josephus (War, VI. 9.3) states that 1,100,000 Jews perished in the destruction of Jerusalem and 97,000 were taken captive. Surely this is an exaggeration and yet the number must have been large.

Shall be led captive (αιχμαλωτισθησοντα). Future passive of αιχμαλωτιζω from αιχμη, spear and αλωτος (αλισκομα). Here alone in the literal sense in the N.T.

Shall be trodden under foot (εστα πατουμενη). Future passive periphrastic of πατεω, to tread, old verb.

Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (αχρ ου πληρωθωσιν καιρο εθνων). First aorist passive subjunctive with αχρ ου like εως ου. What this means is not clear except that Paul in Romans 11:25 shows that the punishment of the Jews has a limit. The same idiom appears there also with αχρ ου and the aorist subjunctive.

Verse 25

Distress (συνοχη). From συνεχω. In the N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 2:4. Anguish.

In perplexity (εν απορια). State of one who is απορος, who has lost his way (α privative and πορος). Here only in the N.T. though an old and common word.

For the roaring of the sea (ηχους θαλασσης). Our word echo (Latin echo) is this word ηχος, a reverberating sound. Sense of rumour in Luke 4:37.

Billows (σαλου). Old word σαλος for the swell of the sea. Here only in the N.T.

Verse 26

Men fainting (αποψυχοντων ανθρωπων). Genitive absolute of αποψυχω, to expire, to breathe off or out. Old word. Here only in N.T.

Expectation (προσδοκιας). Old word from προσδοκαω, to look for or towards. In the N.T. only here and Acts 12:11.

The world (τη οικουμενη). Dative case, "the inhabited" (earth, γη).

Verse 27

And then shall they see (κα τοτε οψοντα). As much as to say that it will be not till then. Clearly the promise of the second coming of the Son of man in glory here (Mark 13:26; Matthew 24:30) is pictured as not one certain of immediate realization. The time element is left purposely vague.

Verse 28

Look up (ανακυψατε). First aorist active imperative of ανακυπτω, to raise up. Here of the soul as in John 8:7; John 8:10, but in Luke 13:11 of the body. These the only N.T. examples of this common verb.

Redemption (απολυτρωσις). Act of redeeming from απολυτροω. The final act at the second coming of Christ, a glorious hope.

Verse 29

The fig tree, and all the trees (την συκην κα παντα τα δενδρα). This parable of the fig-tree (Mark 13:28-41.13.32; Matthew 24:32-40.24.35) Luke applies to "all the trees." It is true about all of them, but the fig tree was very common in Palestine.

Verse 30

Shoot forth (προβαλωσιν). Second aorist active subjunctive of προβαλλω, common verb, but in the N.T. only here and Acts 19:33.

Summer (θερος). Not harvest, but summer. Old word, but in the N.T. only here (Mark 13:28; Matthew 24:32).

Verse 31

Coming to pass (γινομενα). Present middle participle of γινομα and so descriptive of the process.

Nigh (εγγυς). The consummation of the kingdom is here meant, not the beginning.

Verse 32

This generation (η γενεα αυτη). Naturally people then living.

Shall not pass away (ου μη παρελθη). Second aorist active subjunctive of παρερχομα. Strongest possible negative with ου μη.

Till all things be accomplished (εως αν παντα γενητα). Second aorist middle subjunctive of γινομα with εως, common idiom. The words give a great deal of trouble to critics. Some apply them to the whole discourse including the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, the second coming and the end of the world. Some of these argue that Jesus was simply mistaken in his eschatology, some that he has not been properly reported in the Gospels. Others apply them only to the destruction of Jerusalem which did take place in A.D. 70 before that generation passed away. It must be said for this view that it is not easy in this great eschatological discourse to tell clearly when Jesus is discussing the destruction of Jerusalem and when the second coming. Plummer offers this solution: "The reference, therefore, is to the destruction of Jerusalem regarded as the type of the end of the world."

Verse 33

My words shall not pass away (ο λογο μου ου μη παρελευσοντα). Future middle indicative with ου μη, a bit stronger statement than the subjunctive. It is noteworthy that Jesus utters these words just after the difficult prediction in verse Luke 21:32.

Verse 34

Lest haply your hearts be overcharged (μη ποτε βαρηθωσιν α καρδια υμων). First aorist passive subjunctive of βαρεω, an old verb to weigh down, depress, with μη ποτε.

With surfeiting (εν κρεπαλη). A rather late word, common in medical writers for the nausea that follows a debauch. Latin crapula, the giddiness caused by too much wine. Here only in the N.T.

Drunkenness (μεθη). From μεθυ (wine). Old word but in the N.T. only here and Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21.

Cares of this life (μεριμναις βιωτικαις). Anxieties of life. The adjective βιωτικος is late and in the N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 6:3.

Come on you (επιστη). Second aorist active subjunctive of εφιστημ, ingressive aorist. Construed also with μη ποτε.

Suddenly (εφνιδιος). Adjective in predicate agreeing with ημερα (day).

As a snare (ως παγις). Old word from πηγνυμ, to make fast a net or trap. Paul uses it several times of the devil's snares for preachers (1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26).

Verse 36

But watch ye (αγρυπνειτε δε). Αγρυπνεω is a late verb to be sleepless (α privative and υπνος, sleep). Keep awake and be ready is the pith of Christ's warning.

That ye may prevail to escape (ινα κατισχυσητε εκφυγειν). First aorist active subjunctive with ινα of purpose. The verb κατισχυω means to have strength against (cf. Matthew 16:18). Common in later writers. Εκφυγειν is second aorist active infinitive, to escape out.

To stand before the Son of man (σταθηνα εμπροσθεν του υιου του ανθρωπου). That is the goal. There will be no dread of the Son then if one is ready. Σταθηνα is first aorist passive infinitive of ιστημ.

Verse 37

Every day (τας ημερας). During the days, accusative of extent of time.

Every night (τας νυκτας). "During the nights," accusative of extent of time.

Lodged (ηυλιζετο). Imperfect middle, was lodging, αυλιζομα from αυλη (court).

Verse 38

Came early (ωρθριζεν). Imperfect active of ορθριζω from ορθρος, late form for ορθρευω, to rise early. Only here in the N.T.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 21". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/luke-21.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.