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Luke Twenty One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Luke 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

Luke 21:2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

two mites. The Jewish “mite” (Greek lepton) was a small bronze or copper coin, smaller than our dime. It was called a “mite” by early English writers because of what they thought was a tiny bug (actually intended as a star) stamped on its face.

Luke 21:3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

Luke 21:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

Luke 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

some spake of the temple. This discussion initiated what has come to be known as Christ's Olivet discourse, prophesying things to come, beginning with the imminent destruction of the temple (Luke 21:6), then the worldwide dispersion of the Jews (Luke 21:24) and the course of the ensuing age, climaxed by the second coming of Christ (Luke 21:27). The discourse is also reported in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, and one must carefully follow all three concurrently to see it in its entirety. The most complete account is in Matthew 24, and most of the explanatory notes have accordingly been placed there.

Luke 21:6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Luke 21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

Luke 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

Luke 21:9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

Luke 21:10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:

Luke 21:11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

fearful sights. Only Luke's account includes “fearful sights and great signs from heaven” among the signs of the nearness of Christ's return. In recent decades, many people have, indeed, reported seeing such things (i.e., UFOs and their associated phenomena), but the great majority of people have not. On the other hand, the other signs (world wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes) are common knowledge to all. Perhaps there is a partial fulfillment in the man-made phenomena seen in space—the space probes, moon landings, orbiting satellites, space platforms, and even giant radio telescopes searching for signals from the stars. Since only Luke mentions this, however, and since he mentions it last of all, perhaps this particular sign is still future (note, e.g., Revelation 6:12-14), in contrast to the other signs, which seem already to have been fulfilled (see note on Matthew 24:7). At this point in time, we can hardly be dogmatic.

Luke 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.

before all these. At this point, Christ reverts back to the course of the age between His ascension and the already mentioned signs of His imminent return.

being brought before kings. Mark here adds the further note that they shall also be delivered up to councils and that, in the synagogues they shall be beaten (Mark 13:9). Mention of being brought before councils for Christ's sake evidently goes well beyond the apostolic period, looking ahead to the persecution of Christian believers during the entire church age.

Luke 21:13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

Luke 21:14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:

Luke 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

Luke 21:16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

Luke 21:17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.

Luke 21:18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.

perish. The Lord is undoubtedly speaking here of the resurrection and future life, for many Christians later died as martyrs, including most of these disciples.

Luke 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls.

patience. Literally, this can be read: “In your steadfastness, you will save your souls.” Patience under persecution is a mark of true Christianity.

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

compassed with armies. In context, this sign refers to the future siege of Jerusalem by Titus, climaxing with its invasion and destruction in a.d. 70. Seeing Jerusalem surrounded by Roman armies would be the signal for believers to flee to the mountains. This event can be considered as a type of the coming flight during the great tribulation period, except that then the sign will be seeing the abomination of desolation set up in the rebuilt temple by the Antichrist (Matthew 24:15, 16). In the meantime, after the destruction of the temple by Titus in a.d. 70, Jerusalem was more completely “desolated” by Hadrian's armies in a.d. 135.

Luke 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

Luke 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

Luke 21:23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

into all nations. This remarkable prophecy of Jesus was made approximately a whole century before it was finally fulfilled in a.d. 135, and it continued in effect then for about eighteen centuries, until the Jews finally began to return to their promised land of Israel, beginning after World War I.

times of the Gentiles. Jerusalem, the great capital city of the Jews, continued to be under Gentile control until the Israelis recaptured it from the Arabs in 1967. In fact, the essential area of Jerusalem—that is, the sacred site of its ancient temple—is still to this day under control of the Muslim Arabs. Thus, the “times of the Gentiles” have not yet been fulfilled, nor will they be until Christ returns to reign there.

Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

with perplexity. The distress and perplexity of the world's nations seem to increase each year, but this is nothing compared to that which is coming (Mark 13:19).

Luke 21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

fear. Compare Revelation 6:15-17.

Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

and great glory. The coming of Christ in glory to reign on earth immediately follows the great tribulation (Matthew 24:29-30).

Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

begin to come to pass. When all the signs given in the Olivet discourse are just beginning to be fulfilled, then Christ says His coming is very near! Although we cannot know the date, we can therefore be sure that He is coming very soon.

Luke 21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

all the trees. This section (Luke 21:29-33) is also reported in Matthew 24:32-35 and Mark 13:28-31, with the explanatory notes on its prophetic significance given with the Matthew account. As noted there, the budding fig tree referred to the future return of the Jews to Israel, still in a state of unbelief. Only Luke, however, indicates that “all the trees” would simultaneously “shoot forth,” along with the fig tree. This seems to indicate that Israel's neighboring nations, long dormant and of little consequence in world affairs, would again grow and become significant in the latter days. Witness the resurgence in recent decades of such ancient nations as Egypt, Syria, Iran (same as Persia), Iraq (same as Assyro/Babylonia), and others.

Luke 21:30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.

Luke 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

Luke 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

pass away. See notes on Matthew 24:35.

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

come upon you unawares. These verses (Luke 21:34-36) appear only in Luke. The emphasis on the suddenness of the coming of “that day” can only apply to the initial phase of Christ's second coming, or “the rapture.” Compare xTerm 2:28.

Luke 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

the whole earth. The suddenness of the event will take place on the whole earth simultaneously, as Christ had already told them (Luke 17:34-36).

Luke 21:36 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.

stand before. Only those will “stand before the Son of man” who are “accounted worthy” to be taken at the rapture. There apparently is a real possibility that one may “profess” faith in Christ without “possessing” real faith. Note 2 Peter 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Luke 21:37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.

Luke 21:38 And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.