The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Luke 21

Luk 21:1

THE TEMPLE TREASURY: In the Mishna it is said that "there were thirteen horn-shaped chests in the Temple", receptacles for contributions. Each was labeled for specific contributions and evidently set up on the Court of the Women, where all contributors were in public view. It is at these trumpet-shaped chests, which Mark and Luke call "the treasury", that the widow of Mar 12:41,42 and Luke 21:1,2 contributed her "mites." Cp Mat 6:2: "When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do."

Luk 21:2

Ct the motives of the poor widow (here) and the rich extortioners (Mar 12:40,41; Luk 20:46,47). "God will reckon us to be benefactors, not by how much we give, but by how much we have left" (DG). Everything belongs to God; therefore, "render to God what is God's" (Mar 12:17; Luk 20:25).

Luk 21:4

ALL SHE HAD TO LIVE ON: We should give to Christ "all our living"!

Luk 21:5

...As Jesus was leaving the temple: Mat 24:1; Mar 13:1.

HOW THE TEMPLE WAS ADORNED...: "And now he and his disciples had departed from the temple. Once more they lingered in sweet retirement on the mount of Olives. The purple light on the mountains of Moab was fast fading out. Across the city the sinking sun cast a rich glow over the pillared cloisters of the temple, and over the silent courts as they rose terrace upon terrace. From where they stood they could see over the closed Beautiful Gate, and right to the entrance of the holy place, which now glittered with gold; while the eastern hills and the deep valley below were thrown into a solemn shadow, creeping, as the orb sunk lower, further and further towards the summit of Olivet, irradiated with one parting gleam of roseate light, after all below was sunk in obscurity. Then it was and there that the disciples, looking down upon the temple, pointed out to the Master: 'What manner of stones and what buildings are here!' The view from that site must have rendered belief in the Master's prediction even more difficult and more sad. A few years more and it was all literally fulfilled" (Temple 59,60).

BEAUTIFUL STONES: Cp Mar 13:1. According to Josephus, huge stones, 70 ft long, 10 ft wide, 8 ft tall, in walls. 40-ft high white marble pillars -- "whited sepulchres". "Goodly stones" (Luk 21:5). Titus, etc, caused "Zion to be plowed as a field" (Mic 3:12). (Mar 13:1 adds, "what massive stones".)

Luk 21:6

Cp Mat 21:21: "Mt removed and cast into sea".

NOT ONE STONE WILL BE LEFT ON ANOTHER: Certain stones were even pried apart in order to collect the gold leaf that melted from the roof when the temple burned. Excavations in 1968 discovered many such stones thrown down into the valley.

True of temple building itself, but not true (as yet?) of the great foundation stones of the Temple Mount.

Luk 21:7

THEY: Peter, James, John, Andrew (Mar 13:3).

WHEN WILL THESE THINGS HAPPEN...?: The disciples, of course, expected that Christ would "come" as King, with a royal presence, and to remove the Romans and thrown down the corrupt temple, all at the same time and soon!

Luk 21:8

WATCH OUT THAT YOU ARE NOT DECEIVED: "We must fervently pray God to free us from our illusions and delusions. He sometimes does it roughly, but it is wholesome and beneficial. How we tend to make special rules and exceptions for ourselves, and give new, excusing definitions to sin and folly! But God's holy laws are impartial for all, and wisdom will not seek to bend them for personal gratification or self-justification. We must seek the divine blessing of... impartiality and honesty in our necessary, constant self-examination. It is grimly interesting and amusing to see how deceptive our minds can be, and how contrary to our true and larger well-being" (GVG).

MANY WILL COME IN MY NAME: False Messiahs: "(1) Josephus says (War, b.ii.c.13) that there were many who, pretending to Divine inspiration, deceived the people, leading out numbers of them to the desert, pretending that God would there show them the signs of liberty, meaning redemption from the Roman power: and that an Egyptian false prophet led 30,000 men into the desert, who were almost all cut off by Felix. See Acts 21:38. It was a just judgment for God to deliver up that people into the hands of false Christs who had rejected the true one. Soon after our Lord's crucifixion, Simon Magus appeared, and persuaded the people of Samaria that he was the great power of God, Acts 8:9,10; and boasted among the Jews that he was the son of God. (2) Of the same stamp and character was also Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses. (3) About twelve years after the death of our Lord, when Cuspius Fadus was procurator of Judea, arose an impostor of the name of Theudas, who said he was a prophet, and persuaded a great multitude to follow him with their best effects to the river Jordan, which he promised to divide for their passage; and saying these things, says Josephus, he deceived many: almost the very words of our Lord. (4) A few years afterwards, under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea, impostors of this stamp were so frequent that some were taken and killed almost every day: Jos Ant b.xx.c.4,7" (Clarke).

Luk 21:11

EARTHQUAKES: The May 1984 National Geographic shows through color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gases. Even family pets suffered the same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of that terrible day. The saddest part is that these people did not have to die.

Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record -- weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius's warning!

There are similar "rumblings" in our world: warfare, earthquakes, the nuclear threat, economic woes, breakdown of the family and moral standards. While not exactly new, these things do point to a coming Day of Judgment. People need not be caught unprepared. God warns and provides an escape to those who will heed the rumblings.

PESTILENCES: See Lesson, Plague, pestilence, and disease in the Last Days.

Luk 21:12

Act 4:1-22: Apostles at Jerusalem.
Act 5:17-42: Apostles at Jerusalem.
Act 6:11 -- 7:60: Stephen at Jerusalem.
Act 12:11: James and Peter before Herod Agrippa.
Act 16:19-40: Paul and Silas at Philippi.
Act 17:5-9: Jason and others at Thessalonica.
Act 18:12-17: Paul before Gallio at Corinth.
Act 19:29-41: Gaius and Aristarchus at Ephesus
Act 21:27--23:11: Paul in Jerusalem.
Act 24:1-21: Paul before Felix in Caesarea.
Act 25:6-12: Paul before Festus.
Act 26:1-32: Paul before Agrippa.

SYNAGOGUES: Synagogues were used not only for school and worship, but also for administration and trials.

Luk 21:15

FOR I WILL GIVE YOU WORDS AND WISDOM THAT NONE OF YOUR ADVERSARIES WILL BE ABLE TO RESIST OR CONTRADICT: This reassurance is the same one that God gave to Moses, and that we can surely all take to ourselves (Exo 4:11,12). Let us not be afraid of the reaction our preaching might receive. We know that within the words of God there are truths that cannot be denied (Acts 6:10; 24:25; 26:28; 2Ti 4:16,17).

Luk 21:16

The Jewish plot: to wreck the developing ecclesias from within: 2Pe 2:1; 1Jo 4:1; 2Co 11:26.

Luk 21:18

NOT A HAIR OF YOUR HEAD WILL PERISH: A phrase descriptive of long life: Luk 12:7; 21:18; Mat 10:30; Acts 27:34; 1Sa 14:45; 2Sa 14:11.

Luk 21:19

BY STANDING FIRM YOU WILL GAIN LIFE: "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev 2:10). "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised... we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved" (Heb 10:36,39).

"It is possible to 'lose self' for Christ's sake, and by that very means to gain it. On the other hand, a man may gain great possessions and 'forfeit himself' (Luk 9:25, Moffatt). For encouragement in the trials which would come upon his friends in the days ahead Jesus promised that 'in your patience ye shall win your souls.' Similarly, in Luk 17:33, the one who shrank back for fear of losing his life, was actually losing himself. At the judgment seat of Christ many will be consigned to the second death because they have avoided suffering and in some cases death in an unwillingness to share the sufferings of Christ. But those of faith who for Christ's sake have lost their lives will gain life, and self, for evermore" (CHeb 202).

Luk 21:20

Vv 20-27: Allusions to Zec 14: Jerusalem surrounded by armies (v 20), flee to the mountains (v 21), taken as prisoners (v 24), Son of Man coming in a cloud (v 27).

JERUSALEM BEING SURROUNDED BY ARMIES: Equivalent, in comparison with other parallel passages, to the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place: Mat 24:15; Mark 13:14.

Luk 21:21

FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS: To Pella (Tes 48:25,26). Cp days of Lot: Gen 19:17.

"To advise anyone to flee from a city already encircled by a besieging army sounds the height of absurdity; nevertheless this was the instruction, which the saints of those days received from their Lord. Nor was there any absurdity, for throughout the siege Titus, the Roman general, seems to have been actuated by an earnest desire to keep destruction of both life and property to a minimum -- so much so that, according to Josephus, in the early days of the siege there were several opportunities for flight. At one time, for example, the siege of Jerusalem was as good as raised for a period of four days, so casual was the watch maintained by the Roman army. In another place Josephus writes (2.20.1): After the first attack upon the city many of the most considerable of the Jewish folk forsook it as men do a sinking ship. Eusebius, the Christian historian, has this similar narrative: 'The whole body of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine Revelation given to men of approved piety there, before the war removed from the city, and dwelt in a certain town beyond Jordan, called Pella; there those that believed in Christ having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judaea, the divine justice for their crimes against Christ and his Apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the whole generation of those evil-doers from the earth' (Eccl Hist 3.5)" (WRev).

Luk 21:22

// Hos 9:7; Mic 7:4.

Luk 21:25

SUN, MOON AND STARS: Sym Israel in Jer 31:35,36. Or more literal: 2Pe 3:7,10; Isa 24:18. Also see Gen 37:9,10; 15:5; 22:17; Amo 8:8-10; Mic 3:6; Song 6:10; Isa 24:23; Jer 33:20-26; Joe 2:10,30-32; Act 2:20; Rev 6:12; 8:12; 12:1.

THE ROARING AND TOSSING OF THE SEA: Citing LXX of Isa 24:14. Waters, seas = nations (Rev 17:15). When calm, sig peace (Rev 4:6). But in LD, nations are a "troubled sea" (Isa 57:20).

Luk 21:28

LIFT UP YOUR HEADS: See Psa 24:7-9:

Luke 21
Psalm 24
Luk 21:25: the sea and the waves roaring
Psa 24:2: the sea and the floods
Luk 21:36: stand before the Son of Man
Psa 24:3: stand in his holy place
Luk 13:34: commanded the porter to watch
Psa 24:7,9: lift up your heads, O ye gates (ie, gatekeepers)
Luk 21:28: "Your redemption draws nigh"
Psa 24;5: righteousness from the God of his salvation
Mat 24;32: he shall send his angels to gather his elect
Psa 24:10: the LORD of hosts

REDEMPTION: "Apolutrosis" = to be bought away from. See Lesson, Redemption.

Luk 21:29

LOOK AT THE FIG TREE: When Jesus cursed the fig tree it withered up. The next day Peter noticed its withered state and drew Jesus' attention to it saying, "Look at the fig tree" (Mar 11:21). This took place on the mount of Olives, or close by as the disciples were coming into the city from Bethany. Now Jesus, on the mount of Olives, picks up Peter's comment -- perhaps they could all see the withered fig tree as Jesus spoke here.

Fig = unsatisfactory covering: Gen 3. Fig sym Israel: Mar 11:13-21; Luk 13:6,7; Jer 24; Hos 9:10; Mic 7:1.

AND ALL THE TREES: Intense national pride; proliferation of nations in Middle East: Psalm 83 lists 10 nations -- giving their ancient names -- which will join together in their determination to destroy Israel as a nation in the Last Days. Likewise, recent Mideast history has seen ten Arab nations, occupying generally the same territory as the nations of Psa 83, gain their independence during the same generation (1922 -- 1971) that saw the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948. There are currently, in the area occupied by the old Roman Empire, exactly 10 such independent Arab nations. This scenario even allows for the infamous eleventh "horn" of Dan 7, which arises after the others and acts as a catalyst in the defeat and persecution of Israel -- the incipient "nation" of Palestine. Not yet independent, will this be the eleventh horn which comes up among, and after, the former ten?:
1. Egypt (1922)
2. Saudi Arabia (1932)
3. Iraq (1932)
4. Lebanon (1943)
5. Syria (1946)
6. Jordan (1949)
7. Kuwait (1963)
8. Bahrain (1971)
9. Qatar (1971)
10. United Arab Emirates (1971) and
11. Palestine (?).

Luk 21:30

THEY: All the trees, not just the fig tree!

Luk 21:32

THIS GENERATION: "This is generation of them that seek your face" (Psa 24:6 and context). "Genera", in general, a race (NIV mg; the Jewish race: Luk 21:28,29), but sometimes a single generation. Poss, "this present evil order of things", which continues until Christ returns.

Luk 21:34

See Lesson, Drinking.

Vv 34-36: Exhortation: the consideration of prophecy must change us!

WEIGHED DOWN: Drowsy through overeating, and other indulgences.

UNEXPECTEDLY: They should have known, through Noah's preaching: 1Pe 3:20; 2Pe 2:5.

Luk 21:36

// Isa 26:20,21.

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