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Luke 21

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Luke 21:0


The Widow's OfferingThe Widow's Two MitesThe Widow's OfferingThe Widow's OfferingThe Widow's Mite
Luke 21:1-4Luke 21:1-4Luke 21:1-4Luke 21:1-4Luke 21:1-4
The Destruction of the Temple foretoldJesus Predicts the Destruction of the TempleDestruction of the Temple ForetoldJesus Speaks of the Destruction of the TempleDiscourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem: Introduction
Luke 21:5-6Luke 21:5-6Luke 21:5-6Luke 21:5-6Luke 21:5-7
Signs and PersecutionsSigns of the Times and the End of the AgeOn the End of the AgeTroubles and Persecutions
Luke 21:7-19Luke 21:7-19Luke 21:7-8Luke 21:7The Warning Signs
Luke 21:8-9Luke 21:8-11
Luke 21:9-11
Luke 21:10-19
Luke 21:12-19 Luke 21:12-19
Destruction of Jerusalem ForetoldThe Destruction of Jerusalem Jesus Speaks of the Destruction of JerusalemThe Siege
Luke 21:20-24Luke 21:20-24Luke 21:20-24Luke 21:20-24Luke 21:20-23
The Disaster and the Age of the Gentiles
Luke 21:24
The Coming of the Son of ManThe Coming of the Son of man The Coming of the Son of ManCosmic Disasters and the Glorious Appearing of the Son of Man
Luke 21:25-28Luke 21:25-28Luke 21:25-28Luke 21:25-28Luke 21:25-28
The Lesson of the Fig TreeThe Parable of the Fig Tree The Lesson of the Fig TreeThe Time of His Coming
Luke 21:29-33Luke 21:29-33Luke 21:29-33Luke 21:29-31Luke 21:29-33
Luke 21:32-33
Exhortation to WatchThe Importance of Watching The Need to WatchBe on the Alert
Luke 21:34-36Luke 21:34-38Luke 21:34-36Luke 21:34-36Luke 21:34-36
The Last Days of Jesus
Luke 21:37-38 Luke 21:37-38Luke 21:37-38Luke 21:37-38

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What spiritual truth about stewardship was Jesus communicating in Luke 21:1-4?

2. Why were the Jews so proud of the Temple?

3. Why is the discussion of the destruction of Jerusalem mixed with end-time events of the End of the Age?

4. What does the phrase in verse Luke 21:25, "the times of the Gentiles," mean?

5. What is the major emphasis of Jesus' teachings concerning His Second Coming?

6. Do Luke 21:34-36 refer to believers? If so what is the implication?

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:1-4 1And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. 2And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. 3And He said, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; 4for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on."

Luke 21:1-4 This is paralleled in Mark 12:41-44.

Luke 21:1 "the treasury" This is a compound word of "treasure" and "guard" (cf. LXX 2 Kings 23:11; Esther 3:9; Ezra 5:17; Ezra 6:1; Ezra 7:20). Jewish tradition (Shekalim 6 [fourth tractate in Mo’ed]; Josephus, Jewish Wars 5.5.2; 6.5.2; Antiq. 19.6.2; and Alfred Edersheim, Temple, pp. 48-49) asserts that there were thirteen trumpet-shaped, metal boxes located in the Court of the Women, where Jesus regularly taught (cf. Luke 20:1). Each one of them was designated for a different charitable purpose (cf. John 8:20). Archaeology has never confirmed the existence of these metal containers.

Luke 21:2 "a poor widow" Luke chooses from Jesus' words and actions to cast the religious and social outcasts of His day in a positive light (esp. women). Here a poor widow set the standard of sacrificial giving that all disciples should emulate.

"two small copper coins" This refers to two copper Jewish coins called lepton. This term means "the thin one." This is the only Jewish coin mentioned in the NT. See Special Topic at Luke 15:8. Two lepta equal one quadrant; four quadrants equal one assarion; 16 assarions equal one denarius, which was a day's wage for a soldier or laborer.

Commentators often mentioned that someone could not give one lepta (rabbinical tradition), but this is a misunderstanding of the Jewish Talmud.

Luke 21:3 "Truly" This is the Greek term alçthôs (cf. Luke 9:27; Luke 12:44), which is used synonymously with amçn in Luke 21:32. The parallel in Mark 12:43 has amçn. See SPECIAL TOPIC: AMEN at Luke 4:24.

Luke 21:4

NASB"into the offering" NKJV"in offerings for God" NRSV"have contributed" TEV"offered their gifts" NJB"put in money"

Literally this is "put into the gifts" (cf. MSS א, B, and L), but several other uncial manuscripts (cf. MSS A, D, W) and most ancient versions add "of God" to clarify the context for Gentiles. The UBS4 committee rated the shorter text as "B" (almost certain).

"out of their surplus" This same principle of spiritual giving is found in 2 Corinthians 8:12. It is surprising that the NT does not discuss regular giving principles. 2 Corinthians 8-9 deals with the Gentile churches' one-time gift to the mother church in Jerusalem. Tithing is an OT principle (see SPECIAL TOPIC: TITHING at Luke 11:42).

"put in all that she had to live on" This woman trusted in God's daily provision (cf. Matthew 6:33). Luke records many of Jesus' teachings about worldly possessions and wealth (see SPECIAL TOPIC: WEALTH at Luke 12:21). Giving is a spiritual thermometer. It reveals our motives and priorities.

Verses 5-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:5-6 5And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, 6"As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down."

Luke 21:5 "And while some were talking about the temple" In Mark 13:0 (and Matthew 24:0) it is the inner circle of disciples who mention the beautiful temple building as they all sat on the Mount of Olives viewing Jerusalem and the temple across the Kidron Valley, but Luke puts the discussion of the beauty of Herod's Temple in the Court of the Women in the temple itself. This Temple was not completely finished until A.D. 63, seven years before it was destroyed by Titus' army. This remodeled and enlarged national shrine became the object of Jewish religion, as it had in the OT (cf. Jeremiah 7:0). The same discussion is found in Mark 13:1 and Matthew 24:1-2.

"beautiful stones" Herod's temple was build with huge polished limestones (i.e., mezzeh), which were 25 x 8 x 12 cubits (a cubit is 18-21", see Special Topic at Luke 12:25). Josephus records this information in Antiq. 15.11.3.

NASB"votive gifts" NKJV"donations" NRSV"gifts dedicated to God" TEV"gifts offered to God" NJB"votive offerings"

This is the Greek term anathçma, which is used only here in the NT. In the Septuagint it can refer to

1. a votive offering (cf. II Macc. 9:16)

2. an accursed thing (i.e., something given to God and thereby becomes holy and cannot be used by human beings, cf. Deuteronomy 7:26)

One example of this was Herod's lavish gift of a huge golden grapevine that hung on the Temple's wall. The grapes were as tall as a man (cf. Josephus, Antiq. 15.2.3). This grapevine was a symbol of national Israel (cf. Psalms 80:8; Isaiah 5:1-7).

Luke 21:6 "there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down" This is a prediction of extensive destruction. It exactly describes the Roman destruction of Jerusalem under Titus in A.D. 70. The only stones left were the foundation stones of Solomon's Temple that are today known as the "Wailing Wall." This total destruction was prophesied in Micah 3:12 and Jeremiah 26:18.

Verses 7-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:7-9 7They questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?" 8And He said, "See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time is near'. Do not go after them. 9"When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately."

Luke 21:7 "They questioned Him" From Mark 13:3 we know that "they" refers to Peter, James, John, and Andrew. They seem to have asked three questions.

1. when will the Temple be destroyed

2. what will be the sign of the coming destruction

3. when will this age end and the new age begin (recorded only in Matthew 24:3)

Luke focuses on the destruction of Jerusalem, while Matthew and Mark focus on the end of the age. Jesus seems to merge these two topics in this teaching moment. Synoptic scholars have often mentioned that Luke seems to choose from Jesus' teachings to emphasize a delayed second coming.

The OT prophets took the crises of their days and projected them into an eschatological setting. Luke chooses to focus on an immediate, temporal judgment event (the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple), while Matthew and Mark focus on the end of the age (Second Coming, Judgment Day).

Luke 21:8 "See to it that you are not misled" This is a Present active imperative and an aorist passive subjunctive. It refers to the many Messianic imposters between the death of Jesus and the Roman War of A.D. 60-70. It was this nationalistic religious fanaticism that led to the total destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Josephus, Wars of the Jews 6.54).

"misled" This is the Greek verb planaô, from which the English word "planet" (i.e., the wanderers) is derived. It refers to the unusual orbit of the planets compared to the constellations (stars). It is usually translated "error," but came to be used metaphorically of deceiving or leading astray (cf. Matthew 24:4, Matthew 24:5, Matthew 24:11, Matthew 24:24).

"'I am He'" This reflects Jesus' use of the OT covenant name for God (cf. Exodus 3:14; see Special Topic at Luke 1:68) as a designation of Himself (cf. John 8:24, John 8:58; John 13:19; John 18:5). Here it means many false prophets would claim to be the Jewish Messiah of Deuteronomy 18:18-19 (cf. Acts 3:20-23).

"The time is near" This is the message of the pseudo-Messiahs. This is another example of the delayed Second Coming emphasis in Luke. This refers to the time period between Jesus' death and the destruction of Jerusalem.

"do not go after them" This is an aorist passive (deponent) subjunctive used in the sense of an imperative (Mark 13:7 is a present imperative). It has the negative particle, which usually denotes stopping an act in progress. These false messiahs had a large and zealous following.

Luke 21:9-11 These are precursor signs that are observable in every age. They designate the kind of world we live in, not uniquely the world immediately before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (cf. John L. Bray, Matthew 24:0 Fulfilled, pp. 25,28).

Luke 21:9 "do not be terrified" This is another aorist passive subjunctive used in the sense of an imperative. It is also an idiom from the Septuagint.

Verses 10-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:10-11 10Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 11and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Luke 21:10 "these things must take place first" The Markan parallel calls these precursor events "the beginning of the birth pangs of the new age" (cf. Mark 13:7-8). Both Mark and Luke have the word dei (must), which means necessity. God's children need to know and trust that all things are working out according to His plan!

The reason these bad events seem so magnified today is not their increased occurrences, but the immediacy of modern communication. We know of disasters and wars which happen in far away places almost immediately.

Luke 21:11

NASB"terrors" NKJV"fearful sights NRSV"dreadful portents" NJB"terrifying events"

This form of the word "fear" is found only here in the NT, but it is also found in the LXX of Isaiah 19:17.

"great signs from heaven" The author uses OT apocalyptic language to describe these events (cf. Mark 13:25). Peter says that the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, which also uses apocalyptic language, was fulfilled at Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:0), which shows it was not meant to be understood literally (cf. D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares & Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic).

There are several slightly different versions of the phrase in the Greek manuscript tradition. The variations do not alter the sense of the phrase in context. There is no way to determine which of the five variants is original.

Verses 12-19

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:12-19 12"But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. 13It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. 16But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17and you will be hated by all because of My name. 18Yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Luke 21:12 There have been many examples both in Acts and in church history of this kind of persecution of believers. Notice the different types of persecution (i.e., "lay hands on," a LXX idiom).

1. synagogues beatings for violation of Mosaic Law or judicial decision (cf. Deuteronomy 25:1-3; Matthew 19:17; Matthew 23:34; Mark 13:9; Acts 6:9-10)

2. local governmental authorities (i.e., the different sons of Herod)

3. Roman authorities (Proconsuls or Procurators)

a. regional

b. in Rome

The NASB Study Bible (footnote Luke 21:12, p. 1503) asserts that the synagogue was also used as a place of confinement until trial.

Luke 21:13 Persecution can lead to proclamation opportunities (e.g., Paul in prison in Rome). It is surprising that Luke does not retain Mark's wording at this point because it fits Luke's purpose in writing his Gospel so well (i.e., Mark 13:10, "and the Gospel must be preached to all the nations")!

Luke 21:14-15 This does not refer to regular sermon preparation and Bible lessons, but to specific testimony in the face of persecution and trials before governmental authorities (cf. Luke 12:11-12).

Luke 21:16 "you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends" Faith in Christ will divide families and lifelong friends (cf. Matthew 10:21; Mark 13:12).

Luke 21:17 "you will be hated by all because of My name" This is a Periphrastic future passive. The presence of "all" shows it is a hyperbole (exaggeration). Christians will be hated because of their identification with Jesus of Nazareth. The early church was accused of (1) atheism; (2) treason; (3) incest; and (4) cannibalism, which were all related to a misunderstanding of Christian doctrines, terminologies, and worship procedures. Persecution for Christ's sake is a NT evidence of believer's salvation and effective Christian living.

Luke 21:18 "Yet not a hair of your head will perish" This is a strong double negative. Verse Luke 21:18 seems to contradict Luke 21:16. However, it must be understood that the main thrust here is (1) God is in control of history (2) physical death is not ultimate for believers.

Jesus used this same OT idiom of protection (cf. 1 Samuel 14:45; 2 Samuel 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52) in previous sermons (cf. Luke 12:7; Matthew 10:30).

"perish" This is the Greek term apollumi. See Special Topic at Luke 19:10.

Robert B. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, p. 276, points out that there are several places where this term cannot be translated annihilation, "but such injury as makes the object practically useless for its original purpose."

1. the waste of ointment, Matthew 26:8

2. destruction of old wine skins, Matthew 9:17

3. destruction of hair, Luke 21:18

4. destruction of food, John 6:27

5. destruction of gold, 1 Peter 1:7

6. destruction of the world, 2 Peter 3:6

7. destruction of the physical body, Matthew 2:13; Matthew 8:25; Matthew 12:14; Matthew 21:41; Matthew 22:7; Matthew 26:52; Matthew 27:20; Romans 2:12; Romans 14:15; and 1 Corinthians 8:11

This never refers to the annihilation of the person, but the end of bodily existence. It is also commonly used in a moral sense. "All men are regarded as morally destroyed, i.e., they have failed to carry out the intention for which the race was called into being" (p. 276). God's response to this problem was Jesus Christ (cf. John 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 3:9). Those who reject the gospel are now subject to a further destruction, which does involve body and spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). For the opposite opinion see Fudge, The Fire That Consumes.

Luke 21:19 This same emphasis on perseverance is found in Luke 21:36. True faith is a faith that lasts! See SPECIAL TOPIC: PERSEVERANCE at Luke 8:13.

There is a Greek manuscript variant in the verb.

1. Aorist middle (deponent) imperative (cf. MSS א, D. L, W)

2. Future middle indicative (cf. MSS A, B, and most ancient versions)

The UBS4 chooses #1, but "with difficulty" ("C" rating). The UBS3 gave #1 a D rating, "with great difficulty."

"your lives" This is the Greek word psuchç (souls), which reflects the Hebrew word nephesh (BDB 659, i.e., physical life). Because of verse Luke 21:16 this must refer to one's spiritual life. Christians will be killed but they have eternal life (cf. Matthew 10:28). See the word play between the two meanings at Mark 8:35-37.

Verses 20-24

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:20-24 20"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. 23Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; 24and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Luke 21:20 "when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies" Vespasian was Nero's general who subdued Palestine, but at Nero's death he had to return to Rome where three Emperors (Galba, Ortho, and Vitrello) followed in less than one year. Vespasian became Emperor and his son, Titus, finally destroyed the city and the Temple in A.D. 70 after a five month siege of Jerusalem beginning in April when the city was flooded with pilgrims.

Luke 21:21 "Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains" This is a present active imperative. Tradition (Eusebius, Eccl. His. 3.5.2-3) asserts that when the Christians saw the Roman armies coming, they heeded this prophetic message and fled to the Trans-Jordan region of the Decapolis to a city named Pella and most of them were spared the horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem.

Luke 21:23 This obviously refers to the destruction of Jerusalem only, not to the Second Coming. The problem was the rapid flight that was necessary.

Jesus answers the questions of the disciples, but merges the fall of Jerusalem and the Second Coming. Notice also the synonymous parallelism which is so common in OT wisdom literature. Verses Luke 21:23 and 24a form three double parallel lines.

Luke 21:24 "and they will fall by the edge of the sword" Josephus tells us that 1,100,000 were killed and 97,000 were taken prisoner (Wars of the Jews, 6.9.3). Josephus often exaggerated his numbers, but the terror and horror of this event is accurate.

"and will be led captive into all the nations" The captured Jews were sold as slaves throughout the Roman Empire (as were all defeated peoples). Two-thirds of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves.

"until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" There are several theories related to this phrase (cf. Luke 20:16; Mark 13:10; Romans 11:12, Romans 11:25).

1. Gentiles as God's instrument of judgment on Israel

2. the Gentiles in political control of Palestine

3. the believing Gentiles receiving Israel's OT blessing and mandate of evangelism

4. the Good News being preached even to the Gentiles

Verses 25-28

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:25-28 25"There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

Luke 21:25-26 "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars" Again this is an example of OT apocalyptic language concerning God's breaking into history. Because of Peter's use of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:0, this should not be taken literally. See note at verse Luke 21:11.

Luke 21:25 "and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves" Apocalyptic literature has much in common with OT wisdom literature. In this text there is a good example of synonymous parallelism. The metaphor of the sea for the nations comes from Daniel (cf. Luke 7:2-3).

Luke 21:26 "coming upon the world" This phrase is unique to Luke. It refers to the known inhabited world.

"for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" This reflects several passages in Isaiah 13:10, Isaiah 13:13; Isaiah 24:22; Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 51:6. This imagery has two orientations.

1. If this were an astral deities context it would refer to their weakness and judgment.

2. If this were a visitation of YHWH context (and it is) then it refers to creation's convulsions at the approach of its creator.

Luke 21:27 "Then they will see" This seems to refer to all mankind. This seems to preclude a secret rapture.

"the Son of Man coming in a cloud" "Son of Man" (see special Topic at Luke 5:24) is Jesus' self-chosen title. It apparently comes from Ezekiel 2:1 and Daniel 7:13, where it combines humanity and deity (cf. Matthew 17:5). The presence of a cloud fits OT and NT allusions to a cloud being the transportation of deity. It is present at many of the major events of the end-time (cf. Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 1:7).


Luke 21:28 "But when these things begin to take place" These prophecies of Mark 13:0, Matthew 24:0, and Luke 21:0 are meant to encourage

1. those believers living between Jesus' death and the destruction of Jerusalem

2. those believers who suffer persecution in every age

3. those last generation Christians who will face the wrath of the Antichrist and his followers (cf. Luke 21:2 Thessalonoans 2 and Revelation)

These prophecies may become strikingly literal for the last generation of persecuted believers, but it is impossible to speculate about which, how, and when. Jesus revealed these things to encourage us, not to divide us.

"straighten up and lift up your heads" These are both aorist active imperatives. Believers' courage in the face of persecution and death is a powerful witness to the unbelievers who tremble in fear (cf. Luke 21:25-26).

"because your redemption is drawing near" Verses Luke 21:29-36 are built on the promise of Luke 21:28. It shows that Christians amid the sufferings of the end-time still have great confidence.

"redemption" This means "purchased release" (found only here in the Gospels). It is the common OT term for God's gracious acts toward His people. See SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM at Luke 1:68.

"is drawing near" This same word is used in Matthew 24:32-33. The parable used in Matthew 24:32-35 and Mark 13:28-32 is also in Luke 21:29-33.

Verses 29-33

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:29-33 29Then He told them a parable: "Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."

Luke 21:29 "He told them a parable" This is also recorded in Matthew 24:32-35 and Mark 13:28-31. The little phrase "and all the trees" is unique to Luke and widens the warning to the whole world. Although believers cannot know the specific time of Jesus' coming, they can know the general time (cf. Luke 21:30-31).

Luke 21:31 "the kingdom of God" This refers to the eschatological kingdom. See Special Topic at Luke 4:21.

NASB"recognize" NKJV, NJB"know" NRSV"you know" TEV"you will know"

The inflected form of "know" can be a

1. present active imperative (NASB, NKJV, NJB)

2. present active indicative (NRSV, TEV)

"is near" Believers cannot know the exact time of Jesus' return, even He did not know (cf. Matthew 24:36). They will be surprised by it (cf. Matthew 24:44), but they can know the general season (Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-31) and be prepared for it.

The concept of the soon return has been a problem for interpreters because of the 2,000-year gap. See the Special Topic below from Revelation 1:1.


Luke 21:32 "Truly I say to you" This is literally, "amen." It is parallel to the idiom found in Luke 21:3. See Special Topic at Luke 4:24.

"this generation will not pass away until all things take place" This is a strong double negative. There has been much discussion about the interpretation of this verse. There are two major theories.

1. this refers specifically to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70

2. this phrase is used in its OT sense of a people (cf. Deuteronomy 32:5, Deuteronomy 32:20)

Both are true and both fit this context.

Luke 21:33 This is another strong double negative. It is a powerful affirmation of the eternality of God's promises (cf. Isaiah 40:8; Isaiah 55:11) and is repeated in Luke 16:17 and Matthew 5:18. Believers can trust these unconditional truths.

1. God's character

2. God's promises

3. God's Son

4. God's presence

5. God's purposes

Notice the emphasis of the similar wording of Matthew 5:18, which speaks of the fact that the OT has now been superceded by the words of Jesus (cf. Luke 21:21-48)!

Verses 34-36

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:34-36 34"Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Luke 21:34 "Be on guard" This is a present active imperative. It is a recurrent warning (cf. Luke 12:40, Luke 21:5 Mark 4:19; Matthew 24:42-44) and is the major thrust of Jesus' eschatological teachings:

1. be ready

2. be watching

3. be active in My service

"hearts" See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at Luke 1:51. In this context "yourselves" and "hearts" are parallel.

"weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life" This is addressed to the Apostles. The Christian life is a tension-filled pilgrimage. Many believers have damaged their witness and effective ministry by the temptations and cares of this age. Salvation is not the end of the struggle; sometimes it is the beginning.

The parallel of the soils in Mark 4:0 and Matthew 13:0 is a shocking witness to the need for fruit bearing and perseverance, not just initial response (germination). Salvation is an ongoing relationship (cf. Matthew 10:32; Mark 13:13), not only a ticket to heaven or an insurance policy! Daily choices reveal the heart and the true self. Faithfulness and perseverance are evidence of a free salvation. See Special Topic: The Need to Persevere at Luke 8:31.

"and that day will come on you suddenly like a trap" "That day" is an OT idiom for God's visitation for blessing or judgment. See Special Topic below from the Eighth Century Prophets.


Luke 21:35 This may be an allusion to Isaiah 24:17 in the Septuagint. If so, then the verse division slightly changes.

The Second Coming ("that day," Luke 21:34) will impact all human beings living and dead. All will give an account to God of the gift of life (cf. Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15).

For those who know God in Christ, it is a day of resurrection, reunion, and rejoicing. But, for those who have not responded to the gospel, it is a day of gloom, doom, rejection, and permanent judgment (separation).

Luke 21:36 "keep on the alert at all times" This is a present active imperative denoting constant attention (cf. Mark 13:33; Ephesians 6:18). This verse reminds me of Ephesians 6:19. There is a daily price to be paid!

Paul uses a form of this term to describe his suffering for Christ and the gospel in Luke 21:5 and 11:27.

"praying" This is a present middle (deponent) participle used in the sense of an imperative. Luke uses this term often in the sense of

1. beseech or pray, Luke 5:12; Luke 8:38; Luke 10:2; Luke 21:36; Luke 22:32; Acts 4:31; Acts 8:22, Acts 8:24; Acts 10:2

2. beg, Luke 8:28; Luke 9:38, Luke 9:40; Acts 21:39; Acts 26:3

3. please tell, Acts 8:34

All of these senses are found in the Septuagint.

NASB, NRSV"that you may have strength to escape" NKJV"that you may be counted worthy to escape" TEV"that you will have the strength to go safely through" NJB"for the strength to survive"

This is a purpose clause (hina) with an aorist active subjunctive (a note of contingency) and an aorist active infinitive. Some believers will be caught unaware and unprepared when the events of the end-time begin to rapidly unfold. They will have to face Christ ashamed and will receive no reward (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

There is a Greek manuscript variant in this phrase.

1. kataxiôthçte (aorist passive subjunctive), "may be judged/counted worthy" (cf. MSS A, C, D)

2. katischusçte (aorist active subjunctive), "may have strength" (cf. MSS א, B, L, W and in UBS4)

Verses 37-38

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 21:37-38 37Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. 38And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.

Luke 21:37 "during the day He was teaching in the temple" Jesus did not hide or decrease His public ministry (cf. Luke 20:1).

"spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet" This refers to the fact that Jesus camped out on the Mount of Olives several nights and did not spend every night with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. This place was well known to Judas and will be the site of Jesus' arrest.

Luke 21:38 This shows Jesus' popularity with both the pilgrims attending the Passover and the local townspeople. This popularity was one of several reasons that caused the religious leaders to fear Him.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Luke 21". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/luke-21.html. 2021.
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