In this section Luke records the assault of the Sadducees respecting the resurrection (Luke 20:27-40); then omitting the lawyer’s question, he tells of our Lord’s unanswered question respecting Christ the Son of David (Luke 20:41-44); like Mark he gives but a brief summary of the discourse against the Pharisees (‘scribes,’ Luke 20:45-47), with which the public teaching in the temple closed, though one other incident is mentioned as occurring while He lingered there (the widow’s mites, chap. Luke 21:1-4). In some cases this account agrees more closely with that of Matthew, in others with that of Mark, and sometimes all three have their special points of difference.
Luke 21:1. And he looked up (Luke 21:1). From where he had been sitting during the delivery of His denunciatory discourse ‘over against the treasury’ (Mark). The distance could not have been very great.
Luke 21:1-4.—THE WIDOW’S MITES. See on Mark 12:41-44; comp. also the introductory note to Matthew 24
Luke 21:4. Unto the gifts, i.e., those in the chests. ‘This incident, witnessed by Jesus at such a time, resembles a flower which He comes upon all at once in the desert of official devotion, the sight and perfume of which make Him leap with joy.’ (Godet.)
Luke 21:5-6. Some. Luke is quite indefinite here.
Sacred gifts, made for the most part by heathen: such as holy vessels by the Emperor Augustus, and others by Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, and especially the magnificent golden vine presented by Herod the Great, and described by Josephus. The disciples, as it were, became the intercessors for the doomed sanctuary, and pointed to these things, which fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (Psalms 72; Isaiah 60) in regard to gifts from heathen princes, as a ground for hope that the temple would continue.
The discourse of our Lord about the last times, is here connected most closely with the prediction of the destruction of the temple (Luke 21:5-6). There is no allusion to the mount of Olives, where, as Matthew and Mark distinctly assert, the question of Luke 21:7 was put; but the wording of that verse clearly admits of a change of scene. Luke’s account of the discourse is not so full, yet it contains a number of peculiarities.
Luke 21:7. THE QUESTION. See on Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:4.
And they asked him, i.e., those spoken of in Luke 21:5.
Luke 21:8-11. THE OPENING WARNING. See on Matthew 24:4-8; Mark 13:5-8. The variations are slight: and the time (i.e., of the kingdom) is at hand (Luke 21:8). These are the words of those deceivers who should come.
Commotions (Luke 21:9). Peculiar to Luke.
Then said he onto them (Luke 21:10). At this point Luke’s account indicates a break in the discourse, or, as is more probable, the beginning of a more particular discussion of the subject.
And in diverse places (Luke 21:11), to be joined with what follows.
And pestilences. To be omitted in Matthew 24:7. Five years before the Jewish war 30,000 persons died at Rome in one season of pestilence.
Luke 21:12. But before all these things. Matthew says ‘then,’ and Mark also seems to imply that the persecutions would follow the signs, etc. (Luke 21:11-12). But the discrepancy is only apparent. The passage in Matthew (Matthew 24:6) tells of what shall take place before the end comes, then in Matthew 24:7-8 (corresponding to Luke 21:10-11, here) of certain things which are ‘the beginning of sorrows’ (Matthew 24:9), actually a part of the final throes, introducing these as a proof (‘for,’ Matthew 24:7) that ‘the end is not yet’): afterwards in Matthew 24:9 (corresponding to Luke 21:12 here) the point of time spoken of in Matthew 24:6, is resumed, and ‘then’ (i.e., while ‘the end is not yet’) introduces the prediction of persecution.
Luke 21:12-19. PERSECUTION PREDICTED. See on Matthew 24:9-14; Mark 13:9-13. Luke’s account shows great independence in this paragraph.
Luke 21:13. It shall turn to you, for a testimony, i.e., of your faithfulness, giving you an opportunity to testify for the Lord, and ‘against them’ (Mark 13:9).
Luke 21:15. Peculiar to Luke, but comp. Matthew 10:19-20.
A month and wisdom. The former refers to the words they were to utter; the latter, to the gift of delivering these words appropriately. According to others, ‘mouth’ refers to the form, ‘wisdom’ to the thought. In any case both thought and word would be needed. The inspired thought could only be expressed in words, and must affect the words.
Not be able to withstand or gainsay; ‘withstand’ corresponds to ‘wisdom’; ‘gainsay’ to ‘mouth.’ Comp. Acts 6:10, as a specimen of fulfilment. There is, however, no reference to Stephen here, as those who deny any prophecy would affirm. The prophecy was literally fulfilled, and the condemning to death was often a confession that the words of the martyrs could not be answered.
Luke 21:16. Some of you. James, one of those present, was soon put to death (Acts 12:2).
Luke 21:18. And not a hair of your head shall perish. Some would add: ‘as long as you are needed for the service of Christ;’ others refer it to the safety of the mass of Christians at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. But the fact that Luke 21:16 points to the death of some makes a reference to the spiritual life more probable. The seeming difficulty led to an early omission of the verse.
Luke 21:19. In your patience, or ‘stedfastness,’ ye shall win your souls, or ‘lives.’ In the endurance of these predicted afflictions they should gain, or come into the possession of, their true life. If Luke 21:18 refers to physical safety this promise also does. ‘In’ means: in this God appointed way, not strictly, by means of it. The whole verse is not a command but a promise: and the E. V., following an incorrect leading, misleads the reader. The word ‘souls’ (or ‘lives’) opposes that view of Luke 21:18, which refers it to the preservation of every hair in the resurrection.
Luke 21:20. Compassed with armies. The plainest and most graphic form of the prediction. Luke, writing for Gentile readers, does not refer to Daniel’s prophecy, but speaks of its fulfilment. We prefer this view to that which finds a different sign here; see on Matthew 25:15. There was abundant time, after the first approach of the Roman armies, for the Christians to flee: her desolation did not then begin, but was at hand.
Luke 21:20-24. THE DIRECT PREDICTION OF THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM.—See on Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20. There is no parallel in Luke’s report to Matthew 24:23-28; Mark 13:21-23.
Luke 21:21. In the midst of her, i.e., Jerusalem, not Judea, as appears from the last clause of the verse. See the emended text. This Gospel does not contain so full directions in regard to the flight, as that written more especially for Jewish Christians (Matthew).
Luke 21:22. Days of vengeance. Of God’s vengeance, not of man’s. Comp. chap. Luke 18:8. Even Titus seems to have been conscious that he was a minister of Divine retribution.
All things which are written may be fulfilled. Our Lord then asserts that this retribution bad been already prophesied in the Old Testament. ‘All things’ points to more than one prediction. That of Daniel, quoted by Matthew and Mark, is certainly included, but, others also, beginning with Deuteronomy 28:15, etc., and running through the whole prophetic period.
Luke 21:23. Upon the land, or ‘earth.’ This may be general, but as the direct reference is to the war under Titus, it more probably means: the land of Judea. If the wider sense be adopted, the particular distress (Divine retribution) is brought out in the clause: wrath unto this people.
Luke 21:24. They shall fall, etc. Peculiar to Luke. The reference is, of course, to ‘this people.’ ‘According to Josephus, the number of the slain amounted to 1,100,000; 97,000 were carried away as slaves, mostly to Egypt and the provinces.’
And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, or ‘nations.’ Here the discourse begins to have a wider reference than the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is personified, and represented as desecrated, and kept in contemptuous bondage and desolation. This is its present condition. We, therefore, understand ‘Gentiles,’ as meaning not only Romans, but Mohammedans, and even Crusaders.
Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Each Gentile nation, like the Jews, has its ‘time’ (opportunity). When this dispensation of the Gentiles ends, Jerusalem will be no longer trodden down. Opinions differ, however, as to whether this dispensation of the Gentiles implies their conversion to Christ or their rejection of Him. All analogy points to the former, and the subsequent prophecies confirm this view. Among all nations converts will be made, but the terrible events which will precede the end of the world indicate plainly a great rejection.
Luke 21:25-33. THE SIGNS OF THE COMING OF THE END. See on the paragraph in general, the notes on Matthew 24:29-35; Mark 13:24-31. The only variations are in the signs mentioned in Luke 21:25-26, and the exhortation in Luke 21:28.These signs evidently refer not to the destruction of Jerusalem, but to the end of ‘the times of the Gentiles.’
In sun, etc. See Matthew 24:29.
And upon the earth anguish of nations, etc. How far this prophecy will be literally fulfilled cannot be determined. If the whole passage be taken figuratively, then a remarkable commotion in the sea of nations is predicted, but it may refer to physical perturbations ushering in the new earth. The perturbations, whether physical or not, will be portentous, producing general anxiety and despair in view of the further terrors these events presage. This is evident from Luke 21:26 : for expectation of the things, etc.
Luke 21:28. But when these things, 1e,, those spoken of in Luke 21:25-26, since the coming of the Son of man (Luke 21:27) would be instantaneous.
Begin to come to pass. This suggests their continuance, but the close of the verse indicates a brief period.
Look up. The word means to raise one’s self from a stooping posture, and is here applied to those previously bowed under tribulations. The idea of joyful hope is of course implied, as in the other phrase: lift up your heads, which however suggests more strongly the idea of expectation.
Because your redemption (completed at and by Christ’s appearing) draweth nigh. The same events which terrified the world (Luke 21:25-26) are to awaken these feelings in Christians. This is to be our comfort also during the intervening period, if we are cast down by the prospect, or fact, of a general rejection of Christ.
Luke 21:29-33 are the same as in the parallel passages.
Luke 21:34. To yourselves. Emphatic.
Overcharged. Made heavy, sleepy, and hence unexpectant, the underlying thought being the sudden return of the Lord. Three things are mentioned as bringing them into such a state.
Surfeiting, heaviness and dizziness such as drunkenness of yesterday gives; drunkenness, which makes them for today unfit to reflect maturely upon their highest interests; cares of this life, which plague them for tomorrow (Van Oosterzee). These are not to be taken figuratively, but as representing three classes of dangers. Things relatively lawful are here included, because they may be used so unwisely as to deprive Christians of a watchful spirit.
Suddenly as a snare. The phrase, ‘as a snare,’ should probably be connected with Luke 21:34. ‘That day’ would certainly come ‘suddenly,’ but if they were ‘overcharged’ with other matters, it would come ‘as a snare.’ The figure is that of throwing of a net or noose, over wild animals. There is a thought of ruinous consequences as well as of suddenness.
Luke 21:34-36. CONCLUDING WARNING. Peculiar to Luke in this form, though the same thoughts occur in Matthew 24:42-51; Mark 13:32-37.
Luke 21:35. For it shall come in upon all, etc.. It is to be a universal surprise, a universal judgment.—The idea of sitting securely is implied in the word dwell.
Luke 21:36. But watch ye. This is the main exhortation, and the mode of the watching is further described, at all times making supplication. ‘At all times,’ in effect, belongs both to the watching and praying.
That ye may prevail, or ‘have the strength,’ be in a condition. This is the sense of the correct reading. But the reference is not to human strength.
And to stand before the Son of man. Gathered by the angels as the elect. Matthew 24:31. As the glorified Son of man is referred to, we may include here the idea of permanent glory in His presence as well as full acquittal at the hour when brought before Him. A fitting conclusion, entirely in the spirit of the fuller account of Matthew 25.
Luke 21:37. Every day. Lit., ‘the days,’ definite days of that week of His passion.
Olivet. Luke makes no mention of Bethany, where, according to Matthew and Mark, our Lord spent the nights of Sunday and Monday. This is all they assert, although from their inserting the supper at Bethany after these discourses, the impression is made that Tuesday night was spent there. As the nights here referred to were those connected with public teaching, it does not meet the difficulty, to say that Luke is telling us where our Lord spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights, of which we have no definite record. It is improbable that He spent the night (partly in prayer) without shelter. The next appearance of our Lord is, as sending two of His disciples (chap. Luke 22:18), so that they were near Him. Bethany was probably the place, and Olivet is here mentioned as including it.
Luke 21:37-38. CONCLUDING SKETCH OF OUR LORD’S TEACHING. Peculiar to Luke. Luke does not assert that our Lord afterwards taught in the temple, and thus contradicts the accounts of Matthew and Mark. Unlike them he has prefaced the final discourses with a general sketch of our Lord’s activity during these days (chap. Luke 19:47-48), and now he sums up in conclusion, with a similar sketch.
Luke 21:38. Came early in the morning, rather than came eagerly, as some translate. This suggests that our Lord was for the greater part of the teaching days in the temple; a fact in accordance with the number of incidents which we must place on Tuesday.—No miracles are mentioned in this connection; the time for these had already passed. Up to the last appearance in public before His betrayal, our Lord’s popularity continued.
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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 21". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany