William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.Luke Chapter 21
Luke 21:1-4Mark 12:41-44.
Luke again is with Mark in giving the story of the widow poor but rich, and this doubtless for reasons analogous to their report of the exposure of the proud and empty scribes; Matthew has it not at all. For far different was the Israel of the then day, and with this he is occupied, the judgment coming on Jerusalem, rich but poor, with which the Lord concludes His denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees.
And he looked up and saw the rich casting their gifts into the treasury, but he saw also a certain poor widow casting into it two mites. And he said, Verily I say unto you, that this poor woman hath cast in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have cast into the gifts,* but she out of her need hath cast in all the living which she had." It is a lovely picture of devotedness in the widow; how much lovelier to behold Him, who gave her the faith and drew out her love, admiring and so richly appreciating the fruit of His own grace! May He have so to speak of our wealth toward God in the day that approaches, when mammon and every false estimate shall have disappeared for ever!511
*After "gifts," ADGΓΔΛΠ, nearly, all cursives (33, 69), Syrpesch Old Lat. add "of God," which Edd. omit, as BLX, 1, Syrrcu sin hier Memph.
Matthew 24:1f.; Mark 13:1f.
Luke alone of the Evangelists notices the fact that the disciples spoke to the Lord about the votive offerings with which the temple was adorned; all three speak of its goodly stones or buildings. But this does not warrant the inference that the prophetic discourse which follows512 belongs to those in the temple, rather than those on the Mount of Olives. It has been properly remarked that the questions are distinct from the Lord's solemn answer to the admiration expressed, and may well have been to the chosen four on retiring thither as we are told He did by night at the end of our chapter.
"And as some512a spoke of the temple that it was adorned with goodly stones and consecrated offerings, he said, [As for] these things which ye are beholding, days are coming in which stone shall not be left upon stone which shall not be thrown down." On the other hand, it is surely without justification to assume that Luke could not have omitted the change of scene and auditory if aware of it. On both sides such reasoning leaves out the Spirit of God, and His having a purpose by each which alone accounts for differences on the basis of His own perfect knowledge of all, not of the writer's ignorance.
Matthew 24:3-6; Mark 13:3-7.
"And they asked him saying, Teacher, when then shall these things be? and what [is] the sign when these things are going to take place? And he said, See that ye be not misled. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [he]; and the time is drawn nigh: go ye not* after them. And when ye shall hear of wars and tumults be not terrified; for these things must first take place,"' but the end [is] not immediately." It will be observed that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to drop the question respecting the coming of the Son of man and the completion of the age. As with Mark, they ask when the destruction of the temple shall be, and the sign of its commencement. The Lord fully replies, but as usual gives much more. But there is neither the completeness of dispensational information right through, nor details as to the consummation of the age, found in the Gospel of Matthew. On the other hand, here only are we given distinct light on the coming siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Romans, here only its subsequent ignominious subjection till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Other peculiarities of Luke we may see as we proceed through the chapter. The question of the disciples goes no farther than the demolition the Lord spoke of, the Spirit having reserved for Matthew the parabolic history of the course, conduct, and judgment of Christendom as well as the special account of the Jews at the end of the age, and of all the Gentiles gathered before the throne of the Son of man when He is come. The early warning that follows the inquiry here refers to what soon ensued. There may be analogous deceits in the last days; but I apprehend that here we are in view of what has been. If it were the closing scenes, where would be the propriety of assuring the disciples that the end is not immediately? Matthew may take in what soon followed; but the characteristic feature with him is the end of the age, first in general, then specifically, with its shadows before.
*AΓΔΛΠ, etc., most cursives (1, 33, 69), Amiat., here add "therefore." Edd. omit, according to BDLX, Syrrcu sin Old Lat. Aeth. Arm.
Matthew 24:7-13; Mark 13:8f. 11-13.
"Then said he to them,* Nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: there shrill be both great earthquakes in different places and pestilences and famines,† and there shall be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things514 they shall lay their hands upon you and persecute you, delivering up to synagogues and prisons, bringing before kings and governors on account of my name; but it shall turn out515 to you for a testimony. Settle therefore in your hearts not to meditate beforehand [your] defence; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist or reply unto.‡515a Moreover ye will be delivered up even by parents and brethren and relations and friends, and they shall put to death [some] from among you, and ye will be hated by all"" on account of my name; and a hair of your head shall in no wise perish. (See above.) By your patient endurance gain§ your souls." The strict application of all this to the state of things, whether in the world or among the disciples, before the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans must be evident to every unprejudiced mind. Luke alone sets forth the grace of the Lord in giving His own a mouth and wisdom beyond the craft and power of all adversaries. In Mark they are to speak "whatsoever shall be given you; for not ye are the speakers but the Holy Spirit." Luke also puts in broad terms the consequences of their testimony, which would true in the highest sense for heaven if they were slain.517
*"Then said he to them." These words, omitted by Blass (as in D with some Latt. Syrrcu sin), are retained by other Edd.
†The critical text connects "in different places" with "famines" - "and in different places famines."
‡"To resist or reply unto": such is the order of the verbs in BL, 69 (Edd.), instead of "gainsay or resist."
§"Gain": after Tisch., from DLRXG, etc. Other Edd. (Revv.) adopt κτήσεσθε "ye shall gain," as in AB, Syrrcu pesch hcl Latt. Aeth. Arm. Tertullian, Origen. A reading at least questionable. Ab are but slender authority for a difference of only one letter. (B.T.)
Next we have a graphic picture of the crisis for Jerusalem under Titus. "But when ye see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, then know that its desolation 518 is drawn nigh. Then let those who are in Judea flee unto the mountains,519 and those in the midst of it depart out, and those in the fields not enter into it. For these are days of vengeance,520 that all the things written may be accomplished. Woe* to them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days; for there shall be great distress521 upon the land and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by [the] nations522 until [the] times of [the] nations522a be fulfilled." Here there can be no misunderstanding unless for a preoccupied mind. The siege with its consequences described by our Lord cannot be a future event because it is followed by the humiliating possession of the Jewish capital by one nation after another till the allotted seasons of Gentile supremacy terminate. This is peculiar to our Evangelist, who accordingly speaks of armies encompassing the city, which was true then, not like Matthew and Mark of the abomination of desolation, which can only be verified in its closing throes. Hence, too, the reader may notice that, in spite of a considerable measure of analogy (for there will be a future siege, and even a twofold attack, one of which will be partially successful, the other to the ruin of their enemies, as we learn from Isaiah 28, Isaiah 29, and Zechariah 14), there are the strangest contrasts in the issue; for the future siege will be closed by Jehovah's deliverance and reign, as the past was in the capture and destruction of the people dispersed ever since till the times of the Gentiles are full. Accordingly we hear nothing in this Gospel of the abomination of desolation, nor of the time of tribulation beyond all that was or shall be; we hear of both in Matthew and Mark, where the Spirit contemplates the last days. Here we are told of great distress on the land and wrath on the Jewish people, as indeed there was. The notion that Luke's variation is designed as a paraphrase of Matthew and Mark, a simpler expression in his Gospel for one more obscure in theirs, is most unworthy of the Holy Ghost and destructive of the truth in the first two Gospels if not in the third. There is fresh truth, and not a sacred comment on what the others said.
*"But" before this "woe," is in AC, etc., 1, 33, 69, Syrrcu sin Memph. It is not in BDL or most Old Latin and is rejected by Edd.
Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27.
In verse 25 and onward we are naturally carried on to the conclusion of the Gentile times. "And there shall be signs 523 in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity, for at the roar* of the sea and rolling waves, men ready to die through fear and expectation of the things coming on the habitable earth; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming524 in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draweth nigh." It is Luke only who mentions the moral signs of men's anguish spite of the deceits and pretensions of that day. No doubt there will be strong delusion and the belief of falsehood; but for this very reason there is no rest nor contentment, for only the grace and truth of God in Christ can give peaceful enjoyment with a good conscience. Hence God will know how to trouble men's dreams and to break up Satan's ease, their horror culminating at the sight of the rejected Lord, the Son of man, coming in a cloud with power and glory. But there will be those then on earth, disciples tried by the evils of that day, for whom even the beginning of these troubles and the tokens of change for the world will be the sure harbinger of deliverance.
*"In perplexity . . . roar": so Tisch., W. H., etc., with ABCLM, etc., 1, 33, 69, Syrrpesch hcl. Old Lat. Memph. Arm. (Edd.). The text underlying A,V. has the support of DΓΔΛΠ, etc., most cursives, Old Lat. Blass reads: "in perplexity, roar (ἦχος) as (ώς) of, etc." So Syrrcu sin, the latter without "as" (i.e. "the voice of the sea and shaking").
Matthew 24:32-51; Mark 13:28-37.
"And he spoke a parable to them, Behold the fig-tree and all the trees: when they already sprout, by looking ye know of your own selves that already summer is near. So also ye, when ye see these things take place, know that the kingdom of God is near.525 Verily I say unto you that this generation shall in no wise pass away until all come to pass. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall in no wise pass away. But take heed to yourselves lest possibly your hearts be weighed down with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of life, and that day come upon you suddenly unawares, for as a snare* it will come upon all that are settled down upon the face of the whole earth. But watch,† at every season praying that ye may be deemed worthy‡ to escape all these things that are about to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." We have here an instance of the exceeding accuracy of Scripture even in figures. Who but God could have thought of giving only the fig-tree in Matthew, speaking of Israel, the fig-tree and all the trees in Luke where the Gentiles are mixed up with the troubles of Israel?
*"That day come upon you suddenly; for as a snare": so Blass, as Wordsworth, Milligan, McClellan, after AC, later uncials and most cursives, Syrrcu pesch hcl hier Arm. (Euseb. Basil). Other Edd. (Alford and Revv.) follow BDL, Old Lat. Memph.: "come upon you suddenly as a snare; for it shall come."
†"But watch": as Edd. with BD. "Watch therefore" of T.R. is as ACRL, etc., Syrcu Amiat., Aeth. Memph. Arm.
‡"May be deemed worthy": so Blass, with ACDR and all later uncials, most cursives, Syrr. Old Lat.. Arm. Tertullian. Tisch., W. H., etc., adopt "may have strength" (R.V. "prevail"), following BLX, 1, 33, Memph.
But, this is not the only point of interest in this appendix to the prophecy. For the Lord has given us the positive proof. by the way in which verse 32 stands here, that "this generation" cannot mean a mere chronological space of thirty or even one hundred years, for it is brought in after the running out of Gentile times and the coming of the Son of man with power and glory, events still unfulfilled. Its force is moral; not exactly the nation of Israel but that Christ-rejecting race which then refused their Messiah as they do still. This will go on till all these solemn threats of judgment are accomplished. It is profitable to remark that here, not in doctrine or in practice only, but in these unfoldings of the future, the Lord pledges the impossibility of failing in His words. The Lord does not say that this generation "shall not pass away till the temple is destroyed or the city taken, but till all be fulfilled. Now, He had introduced the subsequent treading down of Jerusalem to the end of Israel's trials at His appearing, and He declares that this generation shall not pass away till then; as indeed it is only then grace will form a new generation, the generation to come. The more we hold fast the continuity of the stream of the prophecy, as distinguished from the crisis in Matthew and Mark, the greater will be seen to be the importance of this remark.526
Notice the strongly moral tone in which the dangers and snares of the days before the Son of man appears are touched by the Lord, an often recurring characteristic of our Evangelist.527
The concluding verses are a summary of our Lord's manner or habit at this time, the nights spent on the Mount of Olivet, and by day teaching in the temple, whither all the people came early to hear Him. It was this which led several copyists to insert here the paragraph from John 7: 53 to 8: 11; but there is no real ground for such a transposition, any more than for denying it to be the genuine writing of the last Evangelist, in spite of alleged difficulties.
NOTES ON THE TWENTY-FIRST CHAPTER.
511Luke 21:1-4. - "The Widow with the Two Mites" is the subject of Whyte's discourse LXXXIII., in "Bible Characters."
512Luke 21:5-36. - On Messianic prophecy, see Edersheim, Warburton Lectures ("Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah"), and as to the prophecy on Olivet in particular, Stuart, pp. 238-246; also note 126 on Mark. Jewish opinion may be learned from Abrahams' recent interesting book in Constable's series (chapter vii.).
For comparison with Matt. 24 and Mark 13, chapter 3 of a recent unpretentious but instructive little book, "The Time of the End, but the End not yet," by E. J. Thomas (Weston, 53, Paternoster Row), would be found helpful.
512a Luke 21:5 f. - "Some." Wellhausen rightly calls attention to the fact that the question, as it appears in Luke's Gospel, proceeded from a wider circle than the disciples merely. This is borne out by verse 7, where the Lord is addressed as "Teacher" (διδάσκαλε), whilst the disciples in Luke's Gospel regularly use "Lord" (κύριε), or "Master" (ἐπιστάτα). Cf. note 119 above.
513Luke 21:9. - Down to verse 11 we have what Matthew and Mark describe as ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων, "beginning of throes." As to these "sorrows of Messiah," so-called, see Edersheim, op. cit., p. 247. Tacitus supplies information about such events as are here referred to, in his History, i. 2, 1.
514Luke 21:12. - The order here is as in Mark 13:9-13. Cf. Matthew 10:34-42.
515Luke 21:13. - "Turn out," so Field, who refers to Php 1:19.
515a Luke 21:15. - Robert South preached from this verse.
516Luke 21:17. - "Hated by all." Cf. John 15:19, Acts 28:22, and see Tacitus, "Ann.," xv. 44.
517Luke 21:19. - Cf. Luke 17:33, and see Dean Vaughan, "Authorised or Revised?" p. 67.
518Luke 21:20. - "Desolation." Schmiedel (§ 153) represents Luke as identifying, in the Evangelist's own mind, Titus' desolation of Jerusalem with Daniel's "abomination," which does but evidence that critic's ignorance of the scheme of Old Testament Prophecy. As the Expositor shows, it is characteristic of Luke that our Evangelist distinguished them.
"Luke's language here," Purves remarks, "is only an interpretation of Christ's words (cf. Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14), designed to make their meaning clear to Gentile readers" ("Christianity in the Apostolic Age," p. 272).
519Luke 21:21. - "Flee to the mountains." Wellhausen, as others, speaks of Luke's bringing the prophecy "up to date." But some date for it before 70 finds support from these words, because the historical flight was to Pella, in the Jordan valley.
520Luke 21:22. - "Vengeance." The Greek (ἐκδίκησις) is the same as that of Hosea 9:7. Cf. note on Luke 7:16.
521Luke 21:23. - "Distress," ἀνάγκη (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:6). It is the θλίψις of Matthew and Mark.
522Luke 21:24. - "Trodden down," etc., by Romans, Saracens, Franks, etc., in succession.
522a The "times of the nations" run from Nebuchadnezzar to the Apocalyptic head of the revived Roman empire (Revelation 13:1-10). It is a phrase to be distinguished from "fulness of the Gentiles" in Romans 11:25, which refers to the completion of the Church. In Tobit xiv. 5 we meet with the "times of that age": on the similarity of αἰώνων and ἐθνῶν in MSS. (e.g., Revelation 15:3). see Nestle, in Expository Times, March, 1909.
523Luke 21:25 - "And there shall be signs," i.e., of the ἀποκάλυψις of Christ's Presence (παρουσία, Matthew, cf. next note): cf. Revelation 8:12. The "and," introducing a detached narration, is analogous to a peculiarity of the conjunction (υαυ), of which Isaiah 61:2 affords one of the most striking illustrations in Old Testament Scripture. That passage was used by our Lord on the occasion spoken of in Luke 4:16-19. He stopped before the words, "and the day of vengeance," etc. (cf. Zechariah 9:9 f.). "Rejoice . . . the foal of an ass," and then abruptly, "And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim," etc. A long space of time may intervene between the respective incidents of such seemingly disjointed passages or portions of them; and so here, between verses 24 and 25.
To understand verses 25-33, it is necessary to see that here is taken up that which was suspended with verse 11. Cf. Luke 17:22-37, which was anticipatory of the section now reached.
524Luke 21:27 (cf. note 498). - "Coming," ἐρχόμενον: cf. 2 John 1:7. This is, doubtless, the same coming as in Revelation 1:7, referred to by Westcott ("Historic Faith," Lecture VII., p. 41), but the "Manifestation" and the "Presence" are not equivalent expressions; for Paul speaks of the ἐπιφάνεια of the παρουσία (2 Thessalonians 2:8), showing that the παρ. is at first secret: cf. Psalm 27:5. In the last-cited New Testament passage, "brightness" has in the hands of the Revv. given place to the true rendering.
The phrase "Second Coming" is sometimes questioned, but it is sufficiently sanctioned by Hebrews 9:28.
The word παρουσία was used in everyday Greek of the time for the visit of a prince to any locality, so as to mean where the "Court" was (Deissmann, op. cit., pp. 269-273).
Charles. after H. Holtzmann and Wendt, writes: "That JESUS expected to return during the existing generation is proved beyond question by the universal hopes of the apostolic age" ("Encyclopaedia Britannica," art. "Eschatology," col. 1373). As the Fourth Evangelist belonged to that age, which closed with his death, are we to suppose that he conceived that the Master was mistaken? See John 21:2, and cf. note 526 below, as to the disciples.
Montefiore here has a good note on the Jewish and the Christian conceptions of Messiah.
525Luke 21:31 f. - A comparison of verse 27 f. sets Matthew's "Son of Man coming in His Kingdom" (Luke 16:28) in solid connection with Luke's record here of the future manifestation of the Kingdom.
526 "This generation." Cf. note above on Luke 16:8, and notes 135, 136 on Mark. For the Jewish "moral" connection of the word, cf. Old Testament passages, such as Genesis 7:1 and Psalm 12:8; in particular, Deut. 32: verses 5 and 20, besides, in Lucan writings, Acts 2:40. The Deuteronomic references seem not to have been duly weighed, with regard to their marked difference in time, by Zahn; they do not bear out his note on Matthew 24:34. Cf. Jeremiah 7:8, Jeremiah 8:3, in the LXX. For Gentile connection, see, e.g., Php 2:15, cited by Hahn. The successive races of men since the Flood are in this light regarded by Scripture as one generation.
The word as used in this Synoptic connection has "a nearer and a farther meaning" (Farrar).
Cremer and Hahn regard the αὕτη, "this," as explained by verse 28. In any case, the words come in the future part of Luke's record.
There are some excellent remarks on the whole subject in Jowett's essay, "On Belief in the Coming of Christ." As to "that day" in Mark 13:32, the writer asks: "Is it reverent or irreverent to say that Christ knew what He Himself declared that He did not know" (p. 88 of recent reprint). Cf. Horton, on the moral beauty of Mark's report, which commands adhesion to what the Lord said from His actual knowledge while on earth.
With regard to Charles's statement (supra), may it not be said that the Lord's words about "that day" recorded by Mark of themselves suggest that it would not fall in the near future? They rebut critics' fancy that there is "confusion" in that Evangelist's record, by alleging which they do but create an inconsistency on his part.
Luke 21:32 is only difficult to reconcile with verse 24 for those who take "generation" to mean a period elapsing between father and son, a sense it might indeed have borne had it occurred in the same context as 23: 38 "weep for yourselves and for your children."
Neander (p. 130, followed by various English writers down to Selbie) says that the early disciples were mistaken in their view. Rather, they did not fully apprehend the Lord's meaning: it was not intended that they should do so (1 Corinthians 13:9).
The whole question is trenchantly discussed by B. W. Newton in his "Prophecy of the Lord Jesus in Matt. 24 f. Considered," pp. 39-79 (3rd ed., 1879). As to the bearing of verse 32 on the question of the date of this Gospel, see note 2 above, ad fin.
527Luke 21:36. - "Praying . . . may be deemed worthy" (or, reading as Revv., κατίσχυσητε, "may be strong") ". . . to stand (be set) before the Son of Man." See note on Luke 20:35, and for "to be set" (σταθῆναι), cf. Psalm 1:5 (note 370) and Wisdom of Solomon v. 1. Resurrection is affirmed in the Hebrew of the Psalm: cf. note 108 on John, and see also Malachi 3:2. This is not a judgment in the sense of John 5:24 (cf. Psalm 143:2), but the occasion of our Lord's assigning reward or loss (1 Corinthians 3:13-15) to those of the House of God (1 Peter 4:17), when He holds His first inquest, reviewing the life of each disciple as such.
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
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.
And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
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.
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?
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.
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.
Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
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.
And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
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.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
In your patience possess ye your souls.
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
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.
For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
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.
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.
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;
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.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
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.
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
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.
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.
And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.