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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Luke 21

 

 

Verses 1-4

§ 117.JESUS PREFERS THE WIDOW’S OFFERING TO THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE RICH, Luke 21:1-4.

See notes on Mark 12:41-44.


Verses 1-19

§ 114.JESUS DISCOURSES WITH CHIEF PRIESTS AND OTHERS, Luke 21:1-19.

See notes on Matthew 21:23Luke 22:14; Mark 11:27 to Mark 12:12.


Verses 5-36

§ 118.JESUS FORETELLS THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM, AND DISTINGUISHES IT FROM THE FINAL JUDGMENT, Luke 21:5-36.

Matthew 24, 25; Mark 13.

Of our Lord’s discourse, Matthew’s report reads like a somewhat verbal sketch of an actual hearer, yet so abridged as to omit parts requisite to a complete understanding. Mark’s is a smaller sketch, still more abbreviated; while Luke’s seems rather a report from memory, giving rather the substance than the words, yet supplying parts requisite for an exact understanding of Matthew.

As a somewhat dimmer report, Luke exhibits faint traces of the four points of the contrast between the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgment day, which we have found in Matthew. Without giving a warning of the distinction, (Luke 21:8-9,) he exhibits one great contrast between the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews (Luke 21:10-24) on the one hand, and the judgment day (Luke 21:25-27) on the other. Then Luke 21:28-33 furnish the warning, parallel to Matthew 24:32-35, to provide for the troubles of the destruction; and Luke 21:34-38 are the compressed parallel of all the discourses of Matthew 25.


Verses 7-9

Jerusalem’s destruction not to be confounded with the world’s end, Luke 21:7-9.

Matthew 25:4-6.


Verse 8

8. The time draweth near—It must not be understood that our Lord here prophesies that the false Christs would assume to be Messiah returned to judgment. They could only claim that the Messiah’s kingdom was alone to be set up on earth; and the time of that event was, indeed, drawing near.


Verse 9

9. By and by—This phrase, which by a singular reverse of meaning now signifies after a while, meant in the old English of our translators, immediately.

Jerusalem’s destruction, and the dispersion of the Jewish races, 10-32.


Verse 13

13. To you for a testimony—Your persecutions shall be, in the judgment day, a testimony to your faithfulness in behalf of Christ.


Verse 15

15. A mouth to utter and wisdom in the matter of utterance.


Verse 18

18. Shall not a hair… perish—Although their lives should be taken, (Luke 21:16,) yet not a drop of their blood should be shed in vain; not a hair should fail of its effect or go for naught.


Verses 20-38

§ 115.PHARISEES, HERODIANS, AND A SCRIBE QUESTION JESUS. JESUS RETURNS A QUESTION, Luke 21:20-38.

See notes on Matthew 22:15-46; Mark 12:12-37.


Verse 24

24. They shall fall by the edge of the sword—This most important verse is furnished by Luke alone. It forms the bridge by which the prophecy travels over the chasm of ages and brings us down to the termination of the rejection of Israel. At the same time it is a wonderful prophecy, whose fulfilment has been going on from the time of its first writing to the present era. When a distinguished general told Bishop Newton that the prophecies of Scripture were written after the event, the bishop brought him to sober thought by telling him that there are prophecies of Scripture which are being fulfilled at the present day. How wonderfully are the Jews fulfilling the prophecies of the Jesus they rejected, proving by their very rejection the truth of his mission!

Led away captive into all nations—The sufferings of the Jews are those briefly described by Watson in his Theological Dictionary:

The Romans, under Vespasian, invaded the country, and took the cities of Galilee, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, etc., where Christ had been especially rejected, and murdered numbers of the inhabitants. At Jerusalem the scene was most wretched of all. At the passover, when there might have been two or three millions of people in the city, the Romans surrounded it with troops, trenches, and walls, that none might escape. The three different factions within murdered one another. Titus did all in his power to persuade them to an advantageous surrender, but they scorned every proposal. The multitudes of unburied carcasses corrupted the air, and produced a pestilence. The people fed on one another; and even ladies, it is said, boiled their suckling infants, and ate them. After a siege of six months, the city was taken. The Romans murdered almost every Jew they met. Titus was bent to save the temple, but could not; six thousand Jews who had taken shelter in it were all burned or murdered. The whole city, except three towers, and a small part of the wall, was razed to the ground, and the foundations of the temple and other places were ploughed up.

Soon after the forts of Herodian and Machaeron were taken, the garrison of Massada murdered themselves rather than surrender. At Jerusalem alone, it is said, one million one hundred thousand perished by sword, famine, and pestilence. In other places we hear of two hundred and fifty thousand that were cut off, besides vast numbers that were sent into Egypt, to labour as slaves. About fifty years after, the Jews murdered about five hundred thousand of the Roman subjects, for which they were severely punished by Trajan. About A.D. 130 one Barcocaba pretended that he was the Messiah, and raised a Jewish army of two hundred thousand, who murdered all the heathens and Christians that came in their way; but he was defeated by Adrian’s forces. In this war, it is said, about six hundred thousand Jews were slain, or perished by famine and pestilence. Adrian built a city on Mount Calvary, and erected a marble statue of a swine over the gate that led to Bethlehem. No Jew was allowed to enter the city, or to look to it at a distance, under pain of death.” Truly the Jew has been led a captive among all nations.

And Jerusalem shall be trodden down—Not merely trodden, but trodden down; subjugated and debased.

Of the Gentiles—Jerusalem has repeatedly changed possessors, but has never been possessed by the Jews since the Romans destroyed it.

Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled—The time of the exclusive Gentile dispensation and churchdom. The times of the Gentiles will have been fulfilled when Israel is gathered into the Christian Church; “and so all Israel shall be saved.” Romans 11:26. So in the same chapter Paul tells us that “blindness in part hath happened unto Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” We have here a striking resemblance between the language of Luke and Paul, confirming the opinion that Paul was Luke’s instructing apostle. By “the fulness of the Gentiles” is to be understood the full measure of Gentile conversion foreseen by God as to be, before the return of the Jews. That return of the Jews to God will be, as Paul says, as life from the dead. The restoration of the Jews shall redound to the happiness of the Gentiles. “For if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness?” Then shall there be one Shepherd and one fold, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.

Trodden down… until—The language until implies that when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled Jerusalem will cease to be trodden down, and recover her ancient glory. And it cannot but seem probable to every reflecting mind that the Jewish race is preserved for some great and providential reason.


Verses 25-27

The Coming of the Son of man, Luke 21:25-27.

In contrast with the previous paragraph, describing the destruction and dispersion, we now have the Judgment Advent. These three verses are parallel with Matthew 24:29-31. The signs in the sun and moon are the effects of the Coming of the Son of man previous to his visibility. The use of the word signs here does not, therefore, contradict the repeated declaration that the Coming will be without warning and sudden. There is a great and fearful sublimity in the description of these two verses.


Verse 26

26. The powers of heaven shall be shaken—As if that Coming would disturb for the time the fixedness of the planetary system. But the shaking may be apparent only; the words expressing optical or visible truth.


Verse 28

The Parable of the Fig-tree, Luke 21:28-33.

28. These things.—The these things of the apostles’ question, Matthew 24:3, namely, the destruction of the temple and city.


Verse 32

32. This generation—Dr. Nast, in his excellent Commentary, would render the word as synonymous with race. And this would make the verse affirm that the Jewish race would last through all these troubles. Dr. Clarke also favours that rendering; and it has been current among maintainers of an approaching Second Advent for the last thirty years. Few scholars, however, would agree to escape the difficulties of this discourse by such a philology. Dr. Alexander, in his commentary on Mark 13:30, thus strongly treats this view of the word: “But although some English writers still adhere to that interpretation, others of the same class, and the German philologists, almost without exception, treat it as a sheer invention, without any authority, either in classical or Hellenistic usage, so that some of the best lexicons do not give this definition even to condemn it. Of the few alleged examples, chiefly in the Septuagint version, all admit of being taken in one of the acknowledged senses, which in the New Testament are three in number, all reducible to one and the same radical idea, that of a contemporary race, or the aggregate of those living at the same time. This is the direct sense in the great majority of cases, (such as Mark 8:12; Mark 8:38; Mark 9:19; Matthew 11:16; Matthew 12:39-45; Matthew 16:4; Matthew 23:36; Luke 7:31; Luke 16:8; Luke 17:25; Acts 2:40; Acts 13:36; Philippians 2:15; Hebrews 3:10,) and is scarcely modified when transferred from men to time, (as in Acts 14:16; Acts 15:2 l; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 3:21; Colossians 1:26,) or to the stages of descent and degrees of genealogical succession, (as in Matthew 1:17.) Common to all these cases is the radical idea of contemporaneous existence, which it would be monstrous, therefore, to exclude in that before us, as we must do if we understand it of the whole race in its successive generations. It follows, therefore, that unless we forge a meaning for the word in this place, which is not only unexampled elsewhere, but directly contradictory to its essential meaning everywhere, we must understand our Lord as saying that the contemporary race or generation, that is, those then living, should not pass away or die till all these prophecies had been accomplished.” We may add that specially unequivocal are the parallel passages, Matthew 23:36 and Luke 11:50-51. In the former of these two passages it is a very strange interpretation which makes the Saviour say that all the blood of the martyrs, from Abel to Zacharias, shall fall upon the Jewish race, and not upon some other race. The clear meaning is, that the penalty of the accumulated guilt of all the preceding generations should finally fall upon that generation. And the admission of this fixes of course the sense of the present passage. Our Lord must be understood as maintaining in all three passages, that that generation should be the object of hereditary penalty.

Luke 21:34-36 give the compressed substance of Matthew 25:1-30.


Verse 37

37. See note on Matthew 21:17.

Mount of Olives—Probably at Bethany, which was on the eastern slope of that mount.


Verse 38

38. Early in the morning—According to eastern custom, as thus described in Dr. Hackett’s Biblical Illustrations: “During the greater part of the year, in Palestine, the heat becomes so great a few hours after sunrise, as to render any strenuous labour inconvenient. The early morning, therefore, is the proper time for work; midday is given up, as far as possible, to rest, or employments which do not require exposure to the sun. The arrangements of life adjust themselves to this character of the climate. It happened to me often to observe how universal was the habit of early rising. Men and women may be seen going forth to their labours in the field or starting on journeys at the earliest break of day.”—P. 124. See Luke 22:66; Mark 15:1; Genesis 22:3; Genesis 28:18; Exodus 34:41.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 21:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-21.html. 1874-1909.

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