Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 21:36

But 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."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Earth;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Prayer;   Temptation;   Watchfulness;   Thompson Chain Reference - Future, the;   Prayer;   Saved, the;   The Topic Concordance - Alertness;   Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ;   End of the World;   Prayer;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Second Coming of Christ, the;   Watchfulness;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Prayer;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Perseverance;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Watchfulness;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Luke, Gospel According to;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Luke, Gospel of;   Son of Man;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Kingdom of God;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Aristion (Aristo);   Attributes of Christ;   Day of Judgment;   Discipline;   Discourse;   Ideas (Leading);   Luke, Gospel According to;   Names and Titles of Christ;   Readiness;   Sanctify, Sanctification;   Son of Man;   Supremacy;   Trinity (2);   Watch;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Watch;  
The Jewish Encyclopedia - Man, Son of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Watch ye therefore, and pray always - Perhaps we should connect ες παντι καιρῳ, continually, with αγρυπνειτε, watch, as it appears to be the most natural order. Indeed the word continually belongs equally to both watch and pray; and no man is safe, at any time, who does not attend to this advice as literally as possible.

That shall come to pass - That is, the tribulations which are on their way to overwhelm and destroy the Jewish people. These are sufficiently stated in the preceding verses.

To stand before the Son of man - To be acquitted, and to be condemned, are expressed, in Romans 14:4, by standing and falling. Those who were faithful to the grace they had received were not only not destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem, but became heralds of the grace and mercy of God to the nations. Thus they were counted worthy to stand before the Son of man - to minister salvation in his name.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Luke 21:36

Watch ye, therefore, and pray always

Christian preparation for the coming of the Lord

The subject of our inquiry to-day will be--“What practical effect ought the doctrine of the Lord’s second coming to have on you and me, living when and where and as we do?
” On the certainty of that coming, I need, I suppose, say very little. On the manner of that coming, we possibly may not be agreed; the time of it is expressly and purposely concealed from us. Two things, therefore, seem to me to have a right, as elements, to influence our practice in this matter; the absolute certainty that the day will come, and the absolute uncertainty when it will come. In fact, in both these respects we are in much the same situation as we are, when in health and strength and the prime of life, with regard to the day of our death. We know that it must be; but no sign appears of its immediate approach. And from this example, so common and so well understood, we may perhaps be able easily to deduce our duty in the other case. The wise course with regard to the inevitable day of one’s death appears to be this: never to lose sight of the certainty of it, but to keep ourselves ever ready, while at the same time we do not morbidly brood over the fact, nor allow it to interrupt our duties in life. And here, as in that other case, we must avoid a diseased and restless state of anticipation, as well as the opposite extreme of entire forgetfulness. But perhaps it may be said, In laying down rules for the one consideration, that of our own deaths, are we not also including the other, the expectation of the coming of the Lord? Certainly, in some particulars the two great events coincide; but by no means in all. And it may be profitable for a few moments to ask ourselves wherein they are identical, and wherein each has its region peculiar to itself. They coincide in that each event, as far as we are concerned, will put a limit to this our present state of existence; but they differ, in that the one will do this for ourselves alone; the other, for all mankind. And this is a strictly practical consideration; for I suppose few of us are so selfish as to confine our anticipations and provisions to ourselves alone, but we all extend them over those who are to come after us. The certainty, then, of the day of the Lord will influence those provisions, if we look on it as bringing the limit of this state of time; we shall be rather anxious to do present good with our substance, making moderate provision for our successors, than to lay the foundations of great possessions, and starve our charities to do so. Again, they differ, in that the one brings to ourselves alone the final state; the other completes the great scheme of redemption. The number of God’s elect will be accomplished, and His glorious kingdom will have come. And such a consideration, while it may not have much distinctive influence upon our individual Christian lives, ought to have much upon our regard of our relative duties, and our efforts for spreading Christ’s gospel on earth
. (Dean Alford.)

On preparing for Christ’s coming rather than for death

Of all the subjects on which we may speculate as to our own state and destination, perhaps none is so mysterious, none so difficult to form a definite idea of, as the condition of the dead after the act of death; on the other hand nothing is more simple and clear, than their state after the coming of the Lord. There is, then, this consideration, which is worthy at least of our notice; that the looking for and waiting unto the day of the Lord brings us something more definite, something immediately following it of a more tangible kind, more calculated to make a deep impression on us, than the contemplation of the day of our own death. The realities consequent on the one are and must be, even to the strongest faith, shrouded in a mist which is to us impenetrable; the other, with its realities, stands forth boldly before us, marked out in all its features by the hand of Christ Himself. So that the man who waits for the Lord’s coming is likely to be more definite, more assured, more manly and determined in whatever effects on his character such anticipation may have, than he who merely looks forward to his own death. Moreover, when we compare the two as to the question, which best befits the Christian as an object of thought and expectation--we cannot, I think, hesitate a moment. The New Testament is full of exhortations to watch and prepare for the Lord’s coming. From His own discourses while on earth in the flesh, through those of the apostles in the Acts, through the Epistles of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, St. John, St. Jude, even to the latest written words of the Spirit in the Revelation, no command is more frequent, none more solemnly impressed on us, than that we should keep that great event constantly in view, and be ever ready for it. Whereas we shall hardly find one exhortation, addressed directly to us as Christians, to be ready for the day of our own death. And why so? clearly not because such readiness is not necessary--far from it indeed--but because the greater absorbs the less: because the promise of our ascended Saviour--His return to us--His coming to take account of His servants--includes in it all that the other possibly could do, and very much more; because death is at the best but a gloomy thing, bearing trace of the curse, accompanied with pain and sorrow, whereas the Lord’s coming is to His people a thought full of joy--the completion of their redemption, the beginning of their reign of glory. (Dean Alford.)

Preparation of heart

We want, in our preparation for the day of the Lord, lightness of heart; hearts which we can lift up to heaven where our treasure is; hearts which are not tied down to this earth--not cleaving to the dust. And how may we lighten our hearts? The first lightening--the first rolling off of the burden which weighed so heavily on them, is the work of God’s Spirit in the day of His power; is that setting free from the load of sin by the blessed effects of justifying faith in Christ, in which the law of the Spirit of life makes us free from the law of sin and death. But how may we best keep them, when thus lightened, from again accumulating a burden, and being weighed down from their proper object of contemplation and desire? Listen to our Lord’s command. It is the surfeiting of this world’s employments and pleasures which thus clogs the heart. This, then, of all things is to be shunned, if we would be prepared for that day. You cannot, beloved, be casting yourselves fully into the arms of the world, and be prepared for the coming of the Lord. The two things are absolutely incomparable. If you choose the part of eagerness about things present, that day will come upon you unawares--whether it come with the sign in the clouds and the resurrection trumpet, or with the sinking of the flesh and heart, the curtained chamber; the bedside group fading away from the failing vision. (Dean Alford.)

The command to watch

Two facts concerning His advent are plainly stated and they are all that a majority of His Church will perceive, namely: that we are ignorant of the time of the end; that it will be sudden.




The safety of prayer

Our Lord did not so much urge the duty of praying as the safety of prayer.

I. To this, then, let us first turn our thoughts. Jesus mentioned as the special aim of prayer: “That ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things,” i.e., calamities, that their city, nation, race, and, in fact, the human family were liable to experience, but yet might escape if only they would seek to be accounted “worthy” to do so. The word “worthy” as here used calls for examination; for if it be taken in the sense of deserving because faultless, there is no use in saying anything about it: we are not that; and we never can so be “accounted worthy,” having already committed aggravated offences against God without number, which have brought compromises of guilt and stains upon our souls. The idea of merit, however, which the word “worthy” usually carries with it, is not at all intended in this verse. The verb used is a military term really, meaning to conquer, to win a victory, to prevail against another, against an enemy, against baffling influences and hindering circumstances. Hence the meaning of the word in the text is: that they might be able to prevail and escape all the calamities Jesus had been speaking of. The Revised Version sustains this interpretation. It gives the text: “But watch ye at every season, making supplication that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” It was not that He counselled His disciples to deserve or merit safety through their good conduct, although their good conduct was to be as binding as ever, but to pray that they might be tenacious of purpose, unyielding, and therefore, successful in overcoming temptation, walking so faithfully with their Lord Jesus Christ, as to practise good conduct and persevere in it.

II. Mind, they were to pray that they might be tenacious. On that they ought to resolve; ought to set out to be tenacious in Christian living, in overcoming human oppositions, surmounting temporal obstacles, social hindrances, threats of rulers, frowns of society, oppositions of families, clamours of self-interest, desires for enjoyment, and lusts that ruin the soul--bearing their cross to follow after Jesus; but still, in addition to all this,nay in order to accomplish all this, they were to make continual and systematic applications to the Host High God. Wherever you have failed tell it to God; in perfect frankness confess it to Him, and ask Him to account you worthy to escape all forces of temptation, and all calamities that are, or are to be, consequent on sin; or as the Revised Version has the text: “Make supplication that you may prevail to escape,” every evil of ungodliness, whether already wrought in the callousness of your heart, or in a weakness of character growing out of self-love, or in the fearful sorrows that are to be experienced on Christ’s rejection of your undying soul in the judgment day. (Dr. Trumbull.)



II. WATCH OVER THE INCOMINGS. See to it that mind and heart are ever filled with such suggestions as can carry the stamp of Christ’s approval.

III. WATCH OVER YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Your life has to be lived in the midst of hindering difficulties and influences. Then understand your life. Know the power of your circumstances.

IV. WATCH OVER YOUR OPPORTUNITIES. You will have opportunities


I. ITS PECULIAR CHARACTER. The very quintessence of all faith; the very reason why faith is necessary for the true life. The soul in which burns the light of faith looks forward, and by looking forward is helped to step forward, expecting some strange yet true results. The will is strengthened to assert itself, sometimes on ventures which appear without foundation, but which are based upon the reality of what is to come. So the Christian can go forward with confidence and security.

1. From the call of Abraham to the present day, the supreme attitude of God’s children has been that of expectancy.

2. Just as the Israelites looked for the first coming of the Messiah, so Christians look for the second coming in power and great glory.


1. It is a power which, though often latent and unobserved, is still a power of incalculable force. The unknown reserve of spiritual influence which lies at the root of the sincerely Christian character.

2. The watcher is always ready. No haziness about life, or uncertainty about its aims. (Anon.)


See that sentry at the gate of an encampment or a fortress--mark his measured tread, his martial port, his anxious thoughdetermined countenance--his quiet and searching glance, as he repeats his constant walk--that soldier is awake; but he is more--he is upon his guard--his mind is full of his important trust--he feels the weight of his responsibility. But see--his frame becomes relaxed, his form grows less erect, his movements lose their regular mechanical succession--his look is vacant or abstracted, he no longer looks afar off and at hand in search of approaching danger, he has either forgotten it, or ceased to reckon it so imminent. And yet the man is wide awake; not only are his eyes still open, but they see surrounding objects; all his senses are still active, and his mind, though distracted from his present duty, is as much at work as ever; for no sooner does the slightest sound arouse him, than, as if by magic, he recovers his position and the tension of his muscles, he resumes his measured walk, his mingled air of circumspection and defiance, and his look of bold but anxious scrutiny. Even before, he was awake; but now he is awake and at the same time on his guard. Precisely the same difference exists between a simple wakefulness in spiritual matters--a wakefulness of understanding, conscience, and affection, and the active exercise of spiritual vigilance; this is impossible without the other, but the other does not necessarily involve this. In both cases, that is, in the literal and spiritual case supposed, there is a sensible gradation of remissness or the opposite. We have seen the sentry wholly losing for a moment the recollection of his solemn trust; but this is not the only way in which he may unconsciously betray it. Look at him again. Every look, every motion, now betokens concentration of his thoughts and feelings on the danger which impends, and against which he is set to watch. Perhaps he is now motionless, but it is only that his eye may be more steadfastly fixed upon the point from which the enemy’s approach is apprehended. In that point his whole being seems to be absorbed. And you can see at a glance that he is ready, even for the first and faintest intimation of a moving object on that dim horizon. But while he stands like a statue, with his face turned towards that dreaded point, look beyond him and behind him, at those forms which are becoming every moment more and more defined against the opposite quarter of the heavens. He hears them not, because their step is noiseless; he sees them not, because his eye and all his faculties are employed in an opposite direction. While he strains every sense to catch the first intimations of approaching danger, it is creeping stealthily behind him, and when at last his ear distinguishes the tramp of armed men, it is too late, for a hostile hand is already on his shoulder, and if his life is spared, it is only to be overpowered and disarmed without resistance. And yet that soldier was not only awake, but on his guard--his whole being was absorbed in contemplation of the danger which impended; but, alas, he viewed it as impending only from one quarter, and lost sight of it as really approaching from another. We may even suppose that he was right in looking where he did, and only wrong in looking there exclusively. There was an enemy to be expected from that quarter, and if this had been the only one, the sentry’s duty would have been successfully performed; but he was not aware, or had forgotten, that the danger was a complex one--that while the enemy delayed his coming, another might be just at hand, and thus the very concentration of his watchfulness on one point defeated its own purpose, by withdrawing his attention from all others. By a slight shifting in the scene, I might present to you the same man or another, gazing not at one point only, but at all; sweeping the whole visible horizon with his eye as he maintains his martial vigil. See with what restless activity his looks pass from one distant point to another, as if resolved that nothing shall escape him, that no imaginable source of danger shall remain unwatched. That man might seem to be in every sense awake and on his guard--surprise might seem to be impossible--but hark! what sound is that which suddenly disturbs him in his solitary vigils? he looks hastily around him, but sees nothing, yet the sound is growing every moment louder and more distinct; “a voice of noise from the city”--“the voice of them that shout for mastery”--“the voice of them that cry for being overcome”! Doubt is no longer possible--it is--it is behind him--yes, the enemy for whom he looked so vigilantly, is within the walls, and the banner which he thought to have seen waving at a distance, is floating in triumph just above his head. The cases which I have supposed are not mere appeals to your imagination. They are full of instruction as to practical realities. They vividly present to us in figurative forms the actual condition of the soul in reference to spiritual dangers. (J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

Before the Son of Man

Before the Son of Man


1. Consecration. Implies self-surrender. The doctrine of the Cross lies at the threshold of Christian living.

2. Purity. Involves thought of the heart, speech, actions.

3. Non-resistance. “ Overcome evil with good.” This is the law of the New Testament, though not of nations or of the world.

4. Forgiveness of injury. Goes beyond passive indifference. Exacts positive affection.

II. DUTY OF STANDING BEFORE HIM. Every time we hear the gospel, we “stand before the Son of Man.” Every time we witness His ordinances, we are brought face to face with Him. How? Either condemned or justified. Christ is the great Refiner of men. It is our duty to stand before Him.

1. Because His is the only perfect standard. He makes no mistakes.

2. Because it is the only way to secure His favour. Once men put Him on trial; now the order is reversed. He demands that every man be put to the test, to show his quality. To refuse to submit to Christ’s judgment, is to confess cowardice.

3. Because by this we reach our proper place. The scientific principle is here applied. It is a species of “natural selection”--“the survival of the fittest.” Conclusion: To stand before the Son of Man implies--

1. Your life in harmony with His.

2. Watching and prayer.

3. His favour and divinest blessing. (H. S. Lobingier.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 21:36". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Watch ye therefore, and pray always,.... Watch against every sin, snare, and temptation; particularly, against the above things, surfeiting, drunkenness, and worldly cares; pray continually, for fresh supplies of grace:

that ye may be counted worthy; not for watchfulness and prayer, but through the grace and goodness of God:

to escape all these things that shall come to pass; the dreadful miseries and distress, that shall come upon the Jews:

and to stand before the Son of man; with intrepidity, confidence, and pleasure; and meet him at his coming in this way, with joy and comfort; and likewise at death, and at judgment; see 1 John 2:28.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to i stand before the Son of man.

(i) You will appear before him in a condition such that you will abide the presence and sentence of the Judge without fear.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Watch … pray, etc. — the two great duties which in prospect of trial are constantly enjoined. These warnings, suggested by the need of preparedness for the tremendous calamities approaching, and the total wreck of the existing state of things, are the general improvement of the whole discourse, carrying the mind forward to Judgment and Vengeance of another kind and on a grander and more awful scale - not ecclesiastical or political but personal, not temporal but eternal - when all safety and blessedness will be found to lie in being able to “STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN” in the glory of His personal appearing.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

But watch ye (αγρυπνειτε δεagrupneite de). ΑγρυπνεωAgrupneō is a late verb to be sleepless (αa privative and υπνοςhupnos sleep). Keep awake and be ready is the pith of Christ‘s warning.

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

To stand before the Son of man (στατηναι εμπροστεν του υιου του αντρωπουstathēnai emprosthen tou huiou tou anthrōpou). That is the goal. There will be no dread of the Son then if one is ready. ΣτατηναιStathēnai is first aorist passive infinitive of ιστημιhistēmi f0).

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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 21:36". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies


See on Mark 13:33.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Watch ye therefore — This is the general conclusion of all that precedes.

That ye may be counted worthy — This word sometimes signifies an honour conferred on a person, as when the apostles are said to be counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ, Acts 5:41. Sometimes meet or becoming: as when John the Baptist exhorts, to bring fruits worthy of repentance, Luke 3:8. And so to be counted worthy to escape, is to have the honour of it, and to be fitted or prepared for it.

To stand — With joy and triumph: not to fall before him as his enemies.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass1, and to stand before the Son of man2.

  1. But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass. The revealed presence of God is represented as such an overpowering event that sinners are crushed to the earth by it.

  2. And to stand before the Son of man. Only the godly are able to stand in his presence (Psalms 1:5; Malachi 3:2).

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "The Fourfold Gospel". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Ver. 36. That ye may be accounted worthy] Great is the emphasis of this word, καταξιωθητε (saith learned Beza), for it gives us to understand that we owe all to the free election of God, who loved us first, and so accepted us for worthy, Revelation 3:4.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 21:36. To stand before the Son of man. This does not seem to be merely the counter-part of escaping the things spoken of before: there were thousands of the Jews, that, by one providence or another, escaped temporal destruction, who could with no propriety be said to stand before the Son of man at his coming. This latter clause therefore, which seems to be an advance upon the former, is an allusion to the expression in Psalms 1:5. Nahum 1:6. (see also Wisdom of Solomon 5:1.) and, in that sense, gives the context a greaterconnection and juster distinction, than the signification in which it is taken by most commentators.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

36.] σταθ., to be set, i.e. by the angels—see Matthew 24:31—before the glorified Son of Man.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 21:36. ἀγρυπνεῖτε, watch) Mark 13:33.— ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ δεόμενοι [praying always], praying at every season) ch. Luke 18:1. At every season or time, whether these things [Luke 21:28; Luke 21:31], which are about to be immediately, are had regard to [viz. ταῦτα πάντα (Luke 21:31-32), these nearer events, which are about to befall the city.—Not. Crit.], or that (more remote) day, the day of the Son of Man: Luke 21:28; Luke 21:34. This brief sentence comprises the whole discourse concerning the city and the universal world.— ἐκφυγεῖν, to escape) suddenly.— σταθῆναι) As to the force of this word, see on Matthew 12:25. [“ σταθῆναι, to be made to stand by another, to stand by the help of another; στῆναι, by one’s own strength.”—Ammonius.]

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Luke 21:34"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 21:36". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

молитесь См. пояснение к 18:1.

да сподобитесь В более древних манускриптах говорится «чтобы вы могли иметь силу».

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Always; habitually.

Escape all these things; the woes that would come on the wicked.

Stand; stand with acceptance.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘But you, watch at every season, making supplication, that you may prevail to escape all these things that will come about, and to stand before the Son of man.”

Rather than partying, and becoming drunk, and being too involved with worldly affairs they are to be ever on the watch at all times, praying that they might ‘prevail to escape’ all the things that will come about, by means of their being watchful, and by prayerful supplication, and may thus stand triumphantly before the Son of Man. To ‘stand before the Son of Man’ is come to Him and be acceptable to Him as one of His own, receiving His commendation.

‘Prevail to escape’ indicates a battle fought and won in escaping from what is false. Such a person has battled through the temptations of the flesh and of the world, and has won through, keeping his eye on Christ. He has not followed false signs or false teachers (Luke 21:8), he has not been bowed down by the problems of the world (Luke 21:9-11), he has maintained a good testimony (Luke 21:13) and faced up to persecution (Luke 21:12-18), he has patiently endured (Luke 21:19), he has escaped the lure of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20-22), and he has not been caught up in frivolous living or the cares of the world (Luke 21:34). And how has he done it? Humanly speaking he has done it by prayerful ‘watching’, by ‘making supplication’ to the One Who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13) and by ‘battling and prevailing’. Divinely speaking he has done it because God has chosen him from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

EXCURSUS 1. Is the Church The New Israel?

Is The Church the True Israel?

The question being asked here is whether the early church saw itself as the true Israel, and whether they had any grounds for doing so? In Matthew 16 Jesus spoke to His disciples of ‘building His church (assembly, congregation)’ (Matthew 16:18) at a time when as far as the disciples were concerned He had come only to ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24). Thus here ‘church’ certainly equated in their minds with ‘Israel’, as indeed it did in its use in the Greek translations of the Old Testament where ‘the congregation/assembly of Israel’ was translated as ‘the church (ekklesia) of Israel’. And it was on this basis that the early believers called themselves ‘the church’, that is the congregation of the new Israel.

Furthermore in Acts 4:27-28 we read, “For in truth in this city against your holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentilesand the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatever your hand and your council foreordained to come about.”

Note the mention of a king, a ruler, the Gentiles and ‘the peoples of Israel’. This follows as an explanation of a quotation from Psalms 2:1 in Acts 4:25-26 :

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,

And the peoples imagine vain things,

The kings of the earth set themselves,

And the rulers were gathered together,

Against the Lord and against His anointed --.’

The important point here is that ‘the peoples’ who imagined vain things, who in the Psalm were nations who were enemies of Israel, have become in Acts ‘the peoples of Israel’. Thus the ‘peoples of Israel’ who were opposing the Apostles and refusing to believe are here seen as the enemy of God and His Anointed, and His people. It is a clear indication that old unbelieving Israel is now numbered among the nations, and that the Jews who have believed in Christ are the true Israel. As Jesus had said to Israel, ‘the Kingly Rule of God will be taken way from you and given to a nation producing its fruits’ (Matthew 21:43). Thus the King now has a new people of Israel to guard and watch over.

The same idea is found in John 15:1-6. The false vine (the old Israel - Isaiah 5:1-7) has been cut down and replaced by the true vine of ‘Christ at one with His people’ (John 15:1-6; Ephesians 2:11-22). The church is the new Israel, growing from the true vine. The old Israel has been cut off and replaced by believing Gentiles (Romans 11:17-28).

The new Israel, the ‘Israel of God’, sprang from Jesus. It was He Who established its new leaders who would ‘rule over (‘judge’) the twelve tribes of Israel’ (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). They were Jews, and were to be its foundation (Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14). All its first foundation members were Jews. As it spread it did so among Jews until there were ‘about five thousand men’ to say nothing of women and children (Acts 4:4). Then it spread throughout all Judaea, and then through the synagogues of the world. Soon there were a multitude of Jews who were Christians. Thus the earliest church was almost fully Jewish. It represented faithful Israel. Then the proselytes (Gentile converts) and God-fearers (Gentile adherents to the synagogues) began to join and they were grafted in to the vine (John 15:1-6) and the olive tree (Romans 11:17-28). They became fellow-citizens with the Jewish believers (‘the saints’, a regular Old Testament name for the true Israelites who believed). And so the new Israel sprang up following the same pattern as the old. Paul described the new church as ‘the Israel of God’ (Galatians 6:16), because the Gentiles among them had become ‘the seed of Abraham’ (Galatians 3:29).

Those who deny that the church is Israel must in fact see all these believing Jews as cut off from Israel. For in the 1st century AD the Israel for which those who deny that the church is Israel contend, that is the Jews as a whole, did not include them. They cut them off. To them the church was outside Israel.

Meanwhile the church, the new Israel did see themselves as Israel. They saw themselves as the true Israel of God. And that is why Paul stresses to the Gentile Christians in Ephesians 2:11-22 that they are now a part of the new Israel having been made one with the true people of God in Jesus Christ. In order to consider all this in more detail let us look back in history.

When Abraham entered the land of Canaan having been called there by God he was promised that in him all the world would be blessed, and this was later also promised to his seed (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4; Genesis 28:14). But Abraham did not enter the land alone. In Genesis 14 he had three hundred and eighteen fighting men ‘born in his house’. One of his slave wives was an Egyptian (Genesis 16) and his steward was probably a Syrian, a Damascene (Genesis 15:2). Thus Abraham was patriarch over a family tribe, all of whom with him inherited the promises,and they came from a number of different nationalities.

From Abraham came Jacob, who was renamed Israel, and from his twelve sons came the twelve tribes of the ‘children of Israel’. As with Abraham these would include retainers, servants and slaves. So the ‘children of Israel’ even at this stage would include people from many nations, Israel’s own descendants and their wives, and their servants and retainers, and their wives and children. Israel was already a conglomerate people.

When they left Egypt they were joined by a ‘mixed multitude’ from many nations, who with them had been enslaved in Egypt, and these joined with them in their flight (Exodus 12:38). At Sinai these were all joined within the covenant and became ‘children of Israel’. These included an Ethiopian (Cushite) woman who became Moses’ wife (Numbers 12:1). Thus ‘Israel’ from its commencement was an international community. Indeed it was made clear that any who would, could join Israel and become an Israelite by submission to the covenant and by being circumcised (Exodus 12:48-49). Membership of the people of God was thus to be open to all nations from the beginning by submission to God through the covenant. And these all connected themselves with one of the tribes of Israel, were absorbed, and began to trace their ancestry back to Abraham and Jacob even though they were not true born. There were indeed regulations as to who could enter the assembly or congregation of the Lord, and at what stage they could (Deuteronomy 23:1-8). They then became Israelites.

That this was carried out in practise is evidenced by the numerous Israelites who bear a foreign name, for example ‘Uriah the Hittite’ (2 Samuel 11). See also the mighty men of David (2 Samuel 23:8-28). Later again it became the practise in Israel, in accordance with Exodus 12:48-49, for anyone who ‘converted’ to Judaism and began to believe in the God of Israel to be received into ‘Israel’ on equal terms by circumcision and submission to the covenant. These were called ‘proselytes’. People also left Israel by desertion, and by not bringing their children within the covenant. They were then ‘cut off from Israel’, as were deep sinners.

When Jesus came His initial purpose was to call back to God ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matthew 10:6). But He later declared that there were other sheep that He would also call and they would be one flock with Israel (John 10:16).

Thus when the Gospel began to reach out to the Gentiles those converted were welcomed as part of the one flock. The question then was, ‘did they need to be circumcised in order to become members of the new Israel?’ Paul nowhere argues that circumcision was not necessary because they were not becoming Israel. He accepts that they became members of Israel, but argues that circumcision was no longer necessary because they were already circumcised by faith. They had the circumcision of the heart, and were circumcised with the circumcision of Christ (Colossians 2:11).

Thus in Romans 11:17-24 he speaks clearly of converted Gentiles being grafted into Israel through faith, and of Israelites being broken off through unbelief, to be welcomed again if they repent and come to Christ. Whatever we see actually see the olive tree as representing, it is quite clear that it is speaking of those who are cut off because they do not believe, and those who are ingrafted because they do believe, and this in the context of Israel being saved or not.

In Ephesians 2 Paul tells the Gentiles that they had in the past been ‘alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise’ (Luke 2:12). Thus in the past they did not belong to the twelve tribes. But then he tells them that they are now ‘made nigh by the blood of Christ’ (Luke 2:13), Who has ‘made both one and broken down the wall of partition --- creating in Himself of two one new man’ (Luke 2:14-15). Now therefore, through Christ, they have been made members of the commonwealth of Israel, and inherit the promises. So they are ‘no longer strangers and sojourners (outsiders to Israel), but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God, being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Luke 2:19-20). It is made as clear as can be that they have entered the ‘new’ Israel. They have entered into the covenant of promise (Galatians 3:29).

So as with people in the Old Testament who were regularly adopted into the twelve tribes of Israel (e.g. the mixed multitude - Exodus 12:38), Gentile Christians too are seen as so incorporated. That is why Paul can call the church ‘the Israel of God’, made up of Jews and ex-Gentiles, having declared circumcision and uncircumcision as unimportant because there is a new creation (Galatians 6:15-16). It is those who are in that new creation who are the Israel of God.

In context ‘The Israel of God’ can here only mean that new creation, the church of Christ, otherwise he is being inconsistent. For as he points out, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters any more. What matters is the new creation. It must therefore be that which identifies the Israel of God. For if circumcision is irrelevant then the Israel of God cannot be made up of the circumcised, even the believing circumcised, for circumcision has lost its meaning. The point therefore behind both of these passages is that all Christians become, by adoption, members of the twelve tribes.

But there would be no point in mentioning circumcision if he was not thinking of incorporation into the twelve tribes. The importance of circumcision was that to the Jews it made the difference between those who became genuine proselytes, and thus members of the twelve tribes, and those who remained as ‘God-fearers’, loosely attached but not accepted as full Jews. So when Paul argues that Christians have been circumcised in heart (Romans 2:26; Romans 2:29; Romans 4:12; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11) he is saying that that is all that is necessary in order to be members of the true Israel.

In Galatians 4:26 it is made clear that the true Jerusalem is the heavenly Jerusalem, the earthly having been rejected. This new heavenly Jerusalem is ‘the mother of us all’ just as Sarah had been the mother of Israel. All Christians are thus the children of the freewoman, that is, Sarah (Luke 4:31). They are therefore ‘Israel’.

Again in Romans he points out to the Gentiles that there is a remnant of Israel which is faithful to God and they are the true Israel (Luke 11:5). The remainder have been cast off (Romans 10:27, 29; Romans 11:15; Romans 11:17; Romans 11:20). Then he describes the Christian Gentiles as ‘grafted in among them’ becoming ‘partakers with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree’ (Luke 11:17). They are now part of the same tree so it is clear that he regards them as now being part of the faithful remnant of Israel. This is again declared quite clearly in Galatians, for ‘those who are of faith, the same are the sons of Abraham’ (Galatians 3:7).

Note that in Romans 9 Paul declares that not all earthly Israel are really Israel, only those who are chosen by God. They are the foreknown Israel. See Luke 9:8; Luke 9:24-26; Luke 11:2.

The privilege of being a ‘son of Abraham’ is that one is adopted into the twelve tribes of Israel. It is the twelve tribes who proudly called themselves ‘the sons of Abraham’ (John 8:39; John 8:53). That is why in the one man in Christ Jesus there can be neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28). For they all become Israel. For ‘if you are Abraham’s seed, you are heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29). To be Abraham’s ‘seed’ within the promise is to be a member of the twelve tribes. The reference to ‘seed’ is decisive. You cannot be Abraham’s seed through Sara and yet not a part of Israel.

That is why Paul can say, ‘he is not a Jew who is one outwardly --- he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and the circumcision is that of the heart’ (Luke 2:28-29 compare v.26). The true Jew is the one who is the inward Jew.

In the light of these passages it cannot really be doubted that the early church saw the converted Gentile as becoming a member of the twelve tribes of Israel. They are ‘the seed of Abraham’, ‘sons of Abraham’, spiritually circumcised, grafted in to the true Israel, fellow-citizens with the saints in the commonwealth of Israel, the Israel of God. What further evidence do we need?

In Romans 4 he makes clear that Abraham is the father of all who believe, including both circumcised and uncircumcised (Luke 4:9-13). Indeed he says we have been circumcised with the circumcision of Christ (Colossians 2:11). All who believe are therefore circumcised children of Abraham.

When James writes to ‘the twelve tribes which are of the dispersion’ (Luke 1:1) (Jews living away from Palestine were seen as dispersed around the world and were therefore thought of as ‘the dispersion’), there is not a single hint that he is writing other than to all in the churches. He sees the whole church as having become members of the twelve tribes, as the true dispersion, and indeed refers to their ‘assembly’ with the same word used for synagogue (Luke 2:2). But he can also call them ‘the church’ (Luke 5:14).

There is not even the slightest suggestion anywhere in the remainder of his letter that he has just one section of the church in mind. In view of the importance of the subject, had he not been speaking of the whole church he must surely have commented on the attitude of Jewish Christians to Christian Gentiles, especially in the light of the ethical content of his letter, but there is not even a whisper of it. He speaks as though to the whole church. Unless he was a separatist this would seem impossible. It is inconceivable that in the situation of those days he could have written an ethical letter to Jewish Christians and not have mentioned Gentile Christians once. For relationships with them would have been central. Thus he must have seen the ex-Gentile Christians as part of the dispersion to which he was writing.

Peter also writes to ‘the elect’ and calls them ‘sojourners of the dispersion’ and when he speaks of ‘Gentiles’ (meaning unconverted Gentiles) is clearly assuming that those under that heading are not Christians (Luke 2:12; Luke 4:3). So it is apparent that he too sees all Christians as members of the twelve tribes (as in the example above ‘the dispersion’ means the twelve tribes scattered around the world). Good numbers of Gentiles were becoming members of the Jewish faith at that time, and on being circumcised were accepted by the Jews as members of the twelve tribes (as proselytes). In the same way the Apostles, who were all Jews and also saw the pure in Israel as God’s chosen people, saw the converted Gentiles as being incorporated into the new Israel, into the true twelve tribes. But they did not see circumcision as now necessary, because all who believed had been circumcised with the circumcision of Christ.

Today we may not think in these terms but it is apparent that to the early church to become a Christian was to become a member of the twelve tribes of Israel. That is why there was such a furore over whether circumcision, the covenant sign of the Jew, was necessary for Christians. It was precisely because they were seen as entering the twelve tribes that many saw it as required. Paul’s argument against it is never that Christians do not become members of the twelve tribes (as we have seen he actually argues that they do) but that what matters is spiritual circumcision, not physical circumcision. Thus early on Christians unquestionably saw themselves as the true twelve tribes of Israel.

This receives confirmation from the fact that the seven churches (the universal church) is seen in terms of the seven lampstands in chapter 1. The sevenfold lampstand in the Tabernacle and Temple represented Israel. In the seven lampstands the churches are seen as the true Israel.

Given that fact it is clear that reference to the hundred and forty four thousand from all the tribes of Israel in Revelation 7 is to Christians. But it is equally clear that the numbers are not to be taken literally. The twelve by twelve is stressing who and what they are, not how many there are. There is no example anywhere else in Scripture where God actually selects people on such an exact basis. Even the seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18) were a round number based on seven as the number of divine perfection and completeness. The reason for the seemingly exact figures is to demonstrate that God has His people numbered and that not one is missing (compare Numbers 31:48-49). The message of these verses is that in the face of persecution to come, and of God’s judgments against men, God knows, remembers and protects His own. But they are then described as a multitude who cannot be numbered (only God can number them).

It is noticeable that this description of the twelve tribes in Revelation is a little artificial in another respect. While Judah is placed first as the tribe from which Christ came, Dan is omitted, and Manasseh is included as well as Joseph, although Manasseh was the son of Joseph. Thus there is a deliberate omission of the names of Dan and Ephraim, even though Ephraim is included under Joseph’s name. (This artificiality confirms that the tribes are not to be taken literally). The exclusion of Dan is because he is a tool of the Serpent (Genesis 49:17), and the exclusion of the two names is because of their specific connection with idolatry.

In Deuteronomy 29:17-20 the warning was given that God would ‘blot out his name from under heaven’, when speaking of those who gave themselves up to idolatrous worship and belief, and as we have seen idolatry and uncleanness were central in the warnings to the seven churches. Thus the exclusion of the names of Ephraim and Dan are a further warning against such things. They were particularly connected with idolatry.

For the names of both Ephraim and Dan are unquestionably connected with idolatry in such a way as to make them distinctive. Hosea declared, ‘Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone, their drink is become sour, they commit whoredom continually’ (Hosea 4:17-18). This is distinctly reminiscent of the sins condemned in the seven churches. It is true that Ephraim here means the whole of Israel, as often, but John saw the connection with idolatry and whoredom as besmirching not the tribe but thenameof Ephraim (Ephraimites are included under Joseph, it is the name that is excluded).

As for Dan, it was a man of the tribe of Dan who ‘blasphemed the Name’ (Leviticus 24:11), it was Dan that was first to set up a graven image (Judges 18:30) and Dan was the only tribe mentioned as being the site of one of the calves of gold set up by Jeroboam, as Amos stresses (Amos 8:14; 1 Kings 12:29-30; 2 Kings 10:29). Amos directly connects the name of Dan with ‘the sin of Samaria’. Thus Dan is closely connected with blasphemy and idolatry. And to cap it all ‘Dan will be a serpent in the way, and adder in the path’ (Genesis 49:17). He is the tool of the Serpent. Typologically he is the Judas of the twelve. How could he not be excluded? It is also voices in Dan and Ephraim which declare the evil coming on Jerusalem (Jeremiah 4:15), closely connecting the two.

That what is excluded is thenameof Ephraim and not its people (they are included in Joseph) is significant. Thus the message of these omissions is that those who partake in idolatry and sexual misbehaviour will be excluded from the new Israel (compare the warnings to the churches, especially Thyatira). The exclusion of Dan is to warn us that those who are not genuine will be excluded.

So Revelation 7 is telling us that in the face of the future activity of God against the world He provides His people with protection, and marks them off as distinctive from those who bear the mark of the Beast. God protects His true people. There is no reason for seeing these people as representing other than the church, the true Israel, of the current age. The fact is that we are continually liable to persecution, and while not all God’s judgments have yet been visited on the world, we have experienced sufficient to know that we are not excluded. In John’s day it was telling the church that God had sealed them, so that while they must be ready for the persecution to come, they need not fear the coming judgments of God that he will now reveal, for they are under His protection.

The New Testament tells us that all God’s true people are sealed by God. Abraham received circumcision as a seal of ‘the righteousness of (springing from) faith’ (Romans 4:11), but circumcision is replaced in the New Testament by the ‘seal of the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30). It is clear that Paul therefore sees all God’s people as being ‘sealed’ by God in their enjoyment of the indwelling Holy Spirit and this would suggest that John’s description here in Revelation 7 is a dramatic representation of that fact. His people have been open to spiritual attack from earliest New Testament days (and before) and it is not conceivable that they have not enjoyed God’s seal of protection on them. Thus the seal here in Revelation refers to the sealing (or if someone considers it future, a re-sealing) with the Holy Spirit of promise. The whole idea behind the scene is in order to stress that all God’s people have been specially sealed.

In Revelation 21 the ‘new Jerusalem’ is founded on twelve foundations which are the twelve Apostles of the Lamb (Luke 21:14), and its gates are the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (Luke 21:12). Indeed Jesus said that he would found his ‘church’ on the Apostles and their statement of faith (Matthew 16:18) and the idea behind the word ‘church’ (ekklesia) here was as being the ‘congregation’ of Israel. (The word ekklesia is used of the latter in the Greek Old Testament). Jesus had come to establish the new Israel. Thus from the commencement the church were seen as being the true Israel, composed of both Jew and Gentile who entered within God’s covenant, the ‘new covenant’, as it had been right from the beginning.

But what are the arguments against this? It has been said that‘Every reference to Israel in the New Testament refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’And another expositor has taken the words and added the comment, ‘This is true in the Old Testament also.’ But such statements are again an oversimplification. They assume what they intend to prove, and as we have seen, they are in fact completely incorrect. For as we have seen above if there is one thing that is sure it is that many who saw themselves as Israelites were not physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Many were descended from the servants of the Patriarchs who went down into Egypt in their ‘households’, and were from a number of nationalities. Others were part of the mixed multitude which left Egypt with Israel (Exodus 12:38). They were adopted into Israel, and became Israelites, a situation which was sealed by the covenant.

It is made quite clear that anyone who was willing to worship God and become a member of the covenant through circumcision could do so and became accepted on equal terms as ‘Israelites’ (Exodus 12:47-49). They would then become united with the tribe among whom they dwelt or with which they had connections. There were indeed regulations as to who could enter the assembly or congregation of the Lord, and when (Deuteronomy 23:1-8). Later proselytes would also be absorbed into Israel. Thus ‘Israel’ was from the start very much a conglomerate, and continued to be so.

When we come to the New Testament Paul can speak of ‘Israel after the flesh’ (1 Corinthians 10:18). That suggests that he also conceives of an Israel not ‘after the flesh’. That conclusion cannot be avoided. When we remember that outside Romans 9-11 Israel is only mentioned by Paul seven times, that 1 Corinthians 10:18 clearly points to another Israel and is one of the seven verses, and that Galatians 6:16 is most satisfactorily seen as signifying the church of Jesus Christ and not old Israel at all (or even converted Israel), the statement must be doubted. In Ephesians 2:11-22 where he speaks of the ‘commonwealth of Israel’ he immediately goes on to say that in Christ Jesus all who are His are ‘made nigh’, and then stresses that we are no more strangers and sojourners (outsiders from Israel) but are genuine fellow-citizens, and are of the household of God. If that down not mean becoming a part of the true Israel it is difficult to see what could.

Furthermore in the other four references the present status of Israel is not in mind, the term simply being used as an identifier in a historical sense with Old Testament connections. Thus the argument about the use of the word Israel is not very strong. In Hebrews all mentions of Israel are historical, referring back to the Old Testament. They refer to Israel in the past. In Revelation two mentions are simply historical, while many would consider that the other actually does refer to the church (Revelation 7:4).

In Romans 9-11 it is made very clear that Israel can mean more than one thing. When Paul says, ‘they are not all Israel, who are of Israel’ (Romans 9:6) and points out that it is the children of the promise who are counted as the seed (Luke 9:8), we are justified in seeing that there are two Israels in Paul’s mind, one which is the Israel after the flesh, and includes old unconverted Israel, and one which is the Israel of the promise.

And when he says that ‘Israel’ have not attained to the law of righteousness while the Gentiles have attained to the righteousness which is of faith (Luke 9:30-31) he cannot be speaking of all Israel because it is simply not true that none in Israel have attained to the righteousness of faith. Many had become Christians as we have seen in Acts 1-5. Thus here ‘Israel’ must mean old, unconverted Israel, and thus exclude Christian Israel, and thus they do not make up all of the so-called descendants of the Patriarchs.

So here we see three uses of Israel, each referring to a different entity.

· One isall the old Israel, whether believing or not, which includes both elect and non-elect (Luke 11:11) and is therefore a partly blind Israel (Luke 11:25).

· One is the Israel of promise (called in Luke 11:11 ‘the election’), and which is therefore an Israel which excludes the old blind part of Israel. For not all of Israel who are descendd from Israel, are Israel (Romans 9:6).

· And one is the old Israel which does not include the Israel of promise (Luke 9:31). It is the part of the old Israel which is the blind Israel. The term ‘Israel’ is therefore seen to be very fluid.

Furthermore here ‘the Gentiles’ must mean those who have come to faith. It cannot mean all Gentiles, for it speaks of those who have ‘attained to the righteousness of faith’ (which was what old Israel failed to obtain when it strove after it). Thus that term is also fluid. (In 1 Peter ‘Gentiles’ represents only those who are unconverted).

When we are also told that such Gentiles who have come to faith have become ‘Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29) we are justified in seeing these converted Gentiles as having become part of the new Israel, along with the converted Jews. They are now actually stated to be ‘the seed of Abraham’. This clarifies the picture of the olive tree. Old unconverted Israel are cut out of it, the converted Gentiles are grafted into it. Thus old Israel are no longer God’s people (Romans 9:6-8) while the converted Gentiles are.

What then does Paul mean when he says that ‘all Israel will be saved’? (Luke 11:26). It clearly cannot mean literally ‘all’ of old Israel, both past and present. Scripture has made quite clear that not all of them will be saved (as also says Romans 9:27; Romans 11:7). Does it then mean all Israel at the time that the fullness of the Gentiles has come in? That is unlikely as there is no stage in world history where all the people of a nation have been saved at one point in time. It would not be in accordance with God’s revealed way of working. It would also make nonsense of the many passages where God’s final judgment is poured out on Israel. Does he then mean ‘all the true Israel’, those elected in God’s purposes who are physically Jews, ‘the remnant according to the election of grace’ (Luke 11:5), who will be saved along with the fullness of the Gentiles? That is possible. And it does not require, although it might include, a final revival among the Jews in the end days. Or does it mean ‘all Israel’ who are part of the olive tree, including both Jews and the fullness of the Gentiles? That seems to be its most probable significance, and to be most in accordance with what we have seen above. After all, ‘all Israel’ including the Gentiles could not be saved until the fullness of the Gentiles had come in.

What in fact Paul is finally seeking to say is that in the whole salvation history God’s purposes will not be frustrated, and that in the final analysis all whom He has chosen and foreknown (Luke 11:2) will have come to Him.

In the light of all this it is difficult to see how we can deny that in the New Testament all who truly believed were seen as becoming a part of the new Israel’, the ‘Israel of God’.

End of Excursus 1.

EXCURSUS 2. What Does Matthew Mean In The Same Context By ‘Great Tribulation?’

If we set Matthew’s version of the speech of Jesus about the destruction of the Temple alongside that of Mark and Luke we find that the verse containing the phrase ‘great tribulation’ (no article) parallels Mark 13:19 and Luke 21:23-24. In other words it deals with the sufferings coming on Jerusalem (see the parallel versions of Mark and Luke above). The consequence of that has been evaded by claiming that in His speech Jesus actually taught both what Luke says, and what Matthew and Mark says, as two different parts of the same speech indicating two different destructions of Jerusalem. Now quite apart from the fact that the common phrases in the speeches reveal that that cannot be so, as comparison of the parallels between Mark and Luke have demonstrated, it is also beyond all reason. Is it really conceivable that Luke could have omitted a large chunk of Mark dealing with so important a subject as a second destruction of Jerusalem in the end days? Quite frankly it is not. Nor is it conceivable that when Mark records the disciples as asking, in response to the fact that Jesus says that the Temple they are looking at will be torn down, when that will be, he then does not include the answer that Jesus gives, but rather talks of another destruction and another temple. Exegesis on that basis can only be seen as making the text fit the theory without regard to common sense.

But if all are speaking of the one destruction of the Temple what then does the ‘great tribulation’ (great affliction), so bad that none has ever been like it or will ever be, refer to. Luke gives us the answer. It refers to the sufferings of the siege of Jerusalem followed by the sufferings of the Jews throughout at least a part of the times of the Gentiles. No other nation has ever gone through such an experience, nor ever will.

This being so it is clear that it does not refer to any period in ‘the end days’ called ‘The Great Tribulation’. If the latter is to be held it must be on the basis of other passages than this.

End of Excursus 2.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Praying brings spiritual strength to maintain alertness. It enables disciples to withstand their temptations to depart from God"s will and consequently stand before the Son of Prayer of Manasseh, when He returns, without shame. Faithful perseverance in the midst of persecution is in view (cf. Luke 21:19).

The people who first heard Jesus give this exhortation needed to trust in Him and commit themselves to remaining true to Him since hard times lay ahead of them. This was especially true of Jesus" disciples. If the Tribulation had begun shortly after Jesus" ascension, some of them who became Christians after the Rapture would have been in it and would have anticipated His return in just seven years. After the church began on the day of Pentecost, believers could have been raptured at any moment. After the Rapture, the people who became believers could anticipate the Lord returning at the end of the Tribulation, and they would need to be ready.

Luke"s original readers evidently lived after Pentecost and before the destruction of Jerusalem. [Note: See my introductory comments on the date of composition.] Most of them lived to witness the fulfillment of Jesus" prediction of Jerusalem"s destruction. This event would have encouraged them to believe His teaching about His return and to prepare for it. They could have met the Lord anytime if the Rapture occurred during their lifetime.

As history has unfolded, we know that the Second Coming is still future. Before that the Tribulation must occur and before that the Rapture. The New Testament apostles voiced many of the same warnings urging watchfulness in view of the Rapture that Jesus gave in view of His second coming (e.g, Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; et al.). After the Rapture, people who become Christians will need to remain vigilant because they will go through intense persecution in the Tribulation. For them the Second Coming will be only a few years away.

Jesus" exhortation to be watchful is therefore applicable to all disciples regardless of when they may live before His second coming. Vigilance is essential because the Lord"s return is imminent (i.e, impending, overhanging) regardless of when we live.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

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.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

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.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Watch. See on Mark 13:33.

and pray = praying.

always = sin (Greek. en. App-104.) every season.

shall come to pass = are about to come to pass. stand. See Psalms 1:5. Malachi 3:2.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(36) Pray always.—The word is not the same commonly used for “pray,” but occurs once only in the other Gospels (Matthew 9:38). St. Luke uses it fifteen times in the Gospel and Acts together, and St. Paul six times (2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 10:2, et seq.). It is not used by any other New Testament writer.

That ye may be accounted worthy . . .—See Note on Luke 20:35. The better MSS., however, give, “that ye may have strength to escape.”

To stand before the Son of man.—The same preposition is used with special reference to the final judgment in 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
12:37-40; Matthew 24:42; 25:13; 26:41; Mark 13:33,37; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Peter 4:7; 5:8
18:1; Job 27:10; Acts 10:2; Ephesians 6:18,19; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17
20:35; 2 Thessalonians 1:5,6
Psalms 1:5; Malachi 3:2; Ephesians 6:13,14; 1 John 2:28; Jude 1:24
Reciprocal: Genesis 41:46 - he stood;  Deuteronomy 11:16 - Take heed;  1 Kings 17:1 - before whom;  Nehemiah 4:9 - set a watch;  Isaiah 4:2 - them that are escaped;  Jeremiah 15:19 - stand;  Jeremiah 35:19 - stand;  Jeremiah 40:10 - serve;  Daniel 1:5 - stand;  Daniel 7:13 - one like;  Daniel 12:13 - stand;  Zechariah 3:1 - standing;  Matthew 10:37 - not;  Matthew 22:8 - but;  Mark 14:38 - Watch;  Luke 13:24 - Strive;  Acts 2:40 - Save;  Acts 20:31 - watch;  1 Thessalonians 5:6 - watch;  Revelation 3:4 - for;  Revelation 7:9 - stood;  Revelation 16:15 - Blessed

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 21:36". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".