Luke 21
Benson Commentary
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
Luke 21:1-4. And he looked up — From those on whom his eyes were fixed before; and saw the rich men casting their gifts, &c. — See on Mark 12:41.

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,
Luke 21:5-6. And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones — Such as no engine now in use could have brought, or even set upon each other. Some of them (as an eye-witness who lately measured them writes) were forty-five cubits long, five high, and six broad, yet brought thither from another country. See this more fully elucidated Matthew 24:1, and Mark 13:2. And gifts — Which persons delivered from imminent dangers, had, in accomplishment of their vows, hung on the walls and pillars. The hanging up such αναθηματα, or consecrated gifts, was common in most of the ancient temples. Tacitus speaks of the immense opulence of the temple at Jerusalem. (Hist. Luke 5:8.) Among others of its treasures, there was a golden table, given by Pompey; and several golden vines, of exquisite workmanship, as well as immense size; which some have thought referred to God’s representing the Jewish nation under the emblem of a vine, Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:8; Ezekiel 15:2; Ezekiel 15:6. He said, The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another — The accomplishment of this prediction is proved and illustrated, Matthew 24:2, and Mark 13:2.

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?
Luke 21:7-10. They asked him, When shall these things be, &c. — All the particulars in these verses are noticed and explained, Matthew 24:3-8, and Mark 13:3-8.

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.
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.
Luke 21:11. Fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven — Of these, Josephus has given us a particular account, Bell., Luke 7:12. “There was a comet in the form of a fiery sword, which for a year together did hang over the city. Before the first revolt and war, the people being gathered together to the feast of unleavened bread, on the 8th of April, at the 9th hour of the night, there was as much light about the altar and temple as if it had been bright day. This remained half an hour. At the same festival, the inner gate of the temple on the east side, being of massy brass, which required at least twenty men to shut it, was seen at midnight to open of its own accord. Not long after the feast-days, on the 21st of May, before the sun set, were seen in the air chariots and armies in battle array, passing along in the clouds and investing the city. And upon the feast of pentecost, at night, the priests, going into the inner temple to attend their wonted service, said, they first felt the place to move and tremble: after that they heard a voice which said, Let us depart hence. But that which was most wonderful of all, one Jesus, the son of Ananus, of the common people, four years before the war began, when the city flourished in peace and riches, coming to the celebration of the feast of tabernacles at Jerusalem, suddenly began to cry out thus: A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the temple, a voice against men and women newly married, a voice against all this people. And thus crying, day and night, he went about all the streets of the city.” Josephus adds, “that he was scourged by some of the nobility, but, without speaking a word for himself, he persevered crying as before; that he was carried before Albinus, the Roman general, who caused him to be beaten till his bones appeared. But that he neither entreated nor wept, but, as well as he could, framing a weeping voice, he cried at every stroke, Wo, wo to Jerusalem:” that he went on thus crying, chiefly upon holydays, for the space of seven years and five months, till in the time of the siege, beholding what he had foretold, he ceased. And that then, once again going about the city, on the wall, “he cried with a loud voice, Wo, wo to the city, temple, and people; and lastly he said, Wo also to myself. Which words were no sooner uttered, than a stone thrown out of an engine smote him, and so he yielded up the ghost, lamenting them all.” See note on Isaiah 66:6.

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.
Luke 21:12. But before all these — Before the appearing of the false Christs — before the rumours of wars — the earthquakes, famines, and pestilences that were to be in divers places; they shall lay their hands on you, &c. — “How fully the particulars foretold in this verse were accomplished, we learn from the Roman historians, Tacitus and Suetonius, who have given an account of the persecution raised against the Christians by Nero. But the history of the Acts will throw the greatest light on this passage. For there we are told, that immediately after our Lord’s ascension, Peter and John were called before the Jewish senate, and beaten; (Acts 4:6-7; Acts 5:40;) that Stephen was brought before the same court; (Acts 6:12;) and put to death; (Acts 7:58;) that Saul made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committed them to prison; (Acts 8:3;) and punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, persecuted them unto strange cities; (Acts 26:11;) that James was brought before Herod, and by him put to death; who also laid Peter in prison, intending to kill him likewise; (Acts 12:2; Acts 12:4;) that Paul, formerly himself a persecutor, but now converted, was, in his turn, frequently persecuted; that he and Silas were imprisoned and beaten in the synagogue at Philippi; (Acts 16:23;) that he was brought before the great synagogue of the Jews in Jerusalem; (Acts 22:30;) before King Agrippa and his wife, before the Roman governors, Gallio, Felix, and Festus; and last of all, before the Emperor Nero, in Rome, and his prefect, Helius Cæsariensis.” — Macknight.

And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
Luke 21:13-19. It shall turn to you for a testimony — The persecutions which you suffer shall become a glorious proof both of your innocence and of their guilt in rejecting the gospel. Settle it, therefore, in your hearts, &c. — As the Holy Ghost will assist you in your defences, let it be a fixed point with you, not to meditate before what ye shall answer. See on Matthew 10:19, and Mark 13:11. I will give you a mouth and wisdom, &c. — “I will suggest to you such sentiments, and enable you to deliver them with such eloquence, that your defences shall be unanswerable; and your adversaries shall be struck with them, especially when they find by your manner that you have spoken without premeditation.” Of the fulfilment of this promise, we have evident examples in the defences made by the proto- martyr, Stephen, and by the Apostle Paul, especially before King Agrippa and the Roman governors. But there is no need to insist upon particulars. The prevalency of the gospel, wherever it was preached, demonstrates, beyond all doubt, that the defences made by the preachers thereof were unanswerable. Ye shall be betrayed by parents and brethren, &c. — See on Matthew 10:22, and Mark 13:12-13. There shall not a hair of your head perish — A proverbial expression denoting absolute safety. The special providence of God shall watch over you for your preservation, and you shall not suffer before the time appointed by God, nor without a full reward. But the promise seems to refer especially to their preservation during the siege of Jerusalem; of which, see on Luke 21:20. Thus Jesus encouraged all to steadfastness in the midst of the fiery trial that was to try them. In patience possess ye your souls — Be calm and serene, masters of yourselves, and superior to all irrational and disquieting passions. By keeping the government of your spirits, you will both avoid much misery, and guard the better against all dangers.

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.
Luke 21:20-21. And when ye shall see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, &c. — The admonition here given to them who were in the midst of Jerusalem to depart out of it, and to them who were in the countries not to enter thereinto, shows that the encompassing of Jerusalem with armies, spoken of in the prophecy, was such as would permit the inhabitants to flee out of it, and those who were in the countries to enter into it. Behold here the wonderful prescience of Jesus! Cestius Gallus, in the beginning of the war, invested Jerusalem, and took Betheza, or the lower town. Josephus, (Bell., Luke 2:24,) says, “If he had continued the siege but a little longer, he would have taken the city. But, I think, God being angry with the wicked, would not suffer the war to end at that time. For Cestius removed his army, and having received no loss, very unadvisedly departed from the city.” And, chap. 25. of the same book, he further informs us, that “immediately after Cestius’s departure, many of the principal Jews daily fled from the city as from a sinking ship.” Among these, we may believe there were numbers of the Christians, who, remembering their Master’s admonition, and foreseeing what was to happen, embraced the opportunity thus afforded them of fleeing out of Judea, and so escaped the general ruin, as their Master had promised them, Matthew 24:13; Luke 21:18. To this agrees what Eusebius tells us, (Hist., Luke 3:5,) “That the people of the church in Jerusalem, being ordered by an oracle, given to the faithful in that place, left the city before the war, and dwelt in a city of Perea, the name of which was Pella.” This oracle, of which he speaks, seems to have been our Lord’s prophecy and admonition, to which every circumstance of the history perfectly agrees.

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.
Luke 21:24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations — The fulfilment of this part of the prophecy, we have Bell., Luke 7:16, where Josephus describes the sacking of the city. “And now, rushing into every lane, they slew whomsoever they found without distinction, and burned the houses, and all the people who had fled into them. And when they entered for the sake of plunder, they found whole families of dead persons, and houses full of carcasses destroyed by famine; then they came out with their hands empty. And though they thus pitied the dead, they did not feel the same emotion for the living, but killed all they met, whereby they filled the lanes with dead bodies. The whole city ran with blood, insomuch that many things which were burning were extinguished by the blood.” Thus were the inhabitants of Jerusalem slain with the sword: thus was she laid even with the ground, and her children with her. Ibid. — “The soldiers being now wearied with killing the Jews, and yet a great number remaining alive, Cesar commanded that only the armed and they who resisted should be slain. But the soldiers killed also the old and infirm; and taking the young and strong prisoners, carried them into the women’s court in the temple. Cesar appointed one Fronto, his freedman and friend, to guard them, and to determine the fate of each. All the robbers and seditious he slew, one of them betraying another. But picking out such youths as were remarkable for stature and beauty, he reserved them for the triumph. All the rest that were above seventeen years old he sent bound into Egypt, to be employed in labour there. Titus also sent many of them into the provinces, to be slain in the theatres by beasts and the sword. And those who were under seventeen years of age were slain. And during the time Fronto judged them, one thousand died of hunger.” Chap. 17. — “Now the number of the captives that were taken during the time of the war, was ninety-seven thousand; and of all that died and were slain during the siege, was one million one hundred thousand, the most of them Jews by nation, though not inhabitants of the place; for being assembled together from all parts to the feast of unleavened bread, of a sudden they were environed with war.” Thus were the Jews led away captive into all nations. However, the falling by the edge of the sword, mentioned in the prophecy, is not to be confined to what happened at the siege. It comprehends all the slaughters that were made of the Jews in the different battles, and sieges, and massacres, both in their own land and out of it, during the whole course of the war. Such as at Alexandria, where fifty thousand perished; at Cesarea, ten thousand; at Scythopolis, thirteen thousand; at Damascus, ten thousand; at Ascalon, ten thousand; at Apheck, fifteen thousand; upon Gerizim, eleven thousand; and at Jotapa, thirty thousand. And thus was verified what our Lord told his disciples, the first time he uttered his prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, that wherever the carcass was, there the eagles should be gathered together, Luke 17:37. See notes on Deuteronomy 28:62; Matthew 24:15-21; and Mark 13:14.

Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles — The accomplishment of this part of the prophecy is wonderful. For, after the Jews were utterly destroyed by death and captivity, Vespasian commanded the whole land of Judea to be sold. Bell., Luke 7:26. — “At that time Cesar wrote to Bassus, and to Liberius Maximus, the procurator, to sell the whole land of the Jews; for he did not build any city there, but appropriated their country to himself, leaving there only eight hundred soldiers, and giving them a place to dwell in, called Emmaus, thirty stadia from Jerusalem; and he imposed a tribute upon all the Jews, wheresoever they lived, commanding every one of them to bring two drachms into the capitol, according as in former times they were wont to pay unto the temple of Jerusalem. And this was the state of the Jews at that time.” Thus was Jerusalem in particular, with its territory, possessed by the Gentiles, becoming Vespasian’s property, who sold it to such Gentiles as chose to settle there. That Jerusalem continued in this desolate state we learn from Dio: for he tells us, that the Emperor Adrian rebuilt it, sent a colony thither to inhabit it, and called it Ælia. But he altered its situation, leaving out Zion and Bezetha, and enlarging it so as to comprehend Calvary, where our Lord was crucified. Moreover, Eusebius informs us, that Adrian made a law, that no Jew should come into the region around Jerusalem. Hist., Luke 21:6. So that the Jews being banished, such a number of aliens came into Jerusalem, that it became a city and colony of the Romans, Hist., Luke 4:6. In later times, when Julian apostatized to heathenism, being sensible that the evident accomplishment of our Lord’s prophecy concerning the Jewish nation made a strong impression upon the Gentiles, and was a principal means of their conversion, he resolved to deprive Christianity of this support, by bringing the Jews to occupy their own land, and by allowing them the exercise of their religion, and a form of civil government. For this purpose he resolved to rebuild Jerusalem, and to rear up the temple upon its ancient foundations, because there only he knew they would offer prayers and sacrifices. In the prosecution of this design he wrote a letter to the community of the Jews, which is still extant among his other works, inviting them to return to their native country; for their encouragement, he says to them, among other things, “The holy city, Jerusalem, which of many years ye have desired to see inhabited, I will rebuild by mine own labour, and will inhabit it,” epist. 25. And now the emperor, having made great preparations, began the execution of his scheme with rebuilding the temple; but his workmen were soon obliged to desist, by an immediate and evident interposition of God. “He resolved,” says Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. 23., “to build, at an immense expense, a certain lofty temple at Jerusalem; and gave it in charge to Alypius of Antioch, to hasten the work. But when Alypius, with great earnestness, applied himself to the execution of it, and the governor of the province assisted him in it, terrible balls of fire bursting forth near the foundation, with frequent explosions, and divers times burning the workmen, rendered the place inaccessible. Thus the fire continually driving them away, the work ceased.” This fact is attested, likewise, by Zemuth David, a Jew, who honestly confesses that Julian was hindered by God in this attempt. It is attested, likewise, by Nazianzen and Chrysostom among the Greeks, by Ambrose and Ruffin among the Latins, who lived at the time when the thing happened; by Theodoret and Sozomon, of the orthodox persuasion; by Philistorgius, an Arian, in the extracts of his history made by Photius; (lib. 7. cap. 9;) and by Socrates, a favourer of the Novatians, who wrote his history within the space of fifty years after these things happened, and while the eye-witnesses thereof were yet alive. Thus, while Jews and heathen, under the direction of a Roman emperor, united their whole force to baffle our Lord’s prediction, they did but still the more conspicuously accomplish it. See notes on Deuteronomy 28:64-68. Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled — The time determined in the counsel of God for the conversion of the Gentiles. The Apostle Paul has given us a clear explication of this passage, Romans 11:25. This part of the prophecy answers to Daniel 9:27 : He shall make it (Jerusalem) desolate, even until the consummation, namely, of wrath upon this people, and that determined be poured upon the desolate. The meaning of both passages is, that after the destruction here foretold, Jerusalem shall continue desolate, until God has poured upon it the whole wrath he has determined; and this wrath will not be finished until the Gentiles are converted.

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;
Luke 21:25-26. There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, &c. — These seem to be highly figurative expressions, signifying the decaying of all the glory, excellence, and prosperity of the nation; and the prevalence of universal sadness, misery, and confusion. And upon the earth — Or, upon the land, as the words may be rendered; distress of nations with perplexity — The Jewish tetrarchies shall be distressed and perplexed: the sea and the waves roaring — The roaring of the sea and the waves may be a metaphorical expression; for, in the first clause of this verse, the signs in the sun and the moon and the stars are plainly so, answering to what by Mark is expressed thus: The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall. For, though the darkening of the sun and the moon may be intepreted literally of eclipses, no reader can understand the falling of the stars literally. See on Mark 13:24-26, and Matthew 24:29-31. Men’s hearts failing them for fear — Greek, αποψυχοντων ανθρωπων απο φοβου, literally, men expiring through fear; and for looking after those things — Those dreadful calamities; which are coming on the earth — Or, on the land. For the powers of heaven shall be shaken — For this shall not be like former invasions, or captivities, which only produced some transient disorders in the state, or at most an interruption in the government for a few years; but it shall be attended with a total subversion of it; even of the whole Jewish polity, laws, and religion, which were the work of heaven, or which, containing in them the light of truth, are signified by the sun, moon, and stars in the preceding verse; and therefore might in this be called the powers of heaven. The consequence shall be such vast, extensive, and lasting ruin, that it shall be a most lively emblem of the desolation of the whole world at the last day. The above is the exposition commonly given of these verses, compared with the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark. And in consistency therewith, επι της γης, which our translation renders, upon the earth, is thought to be only intended of the land of Judea and Samaria. But Dr. Campbell thinks the prophecy is not to be confined to that country, and therefore he prefers the common version, for which he assigns the following reasons: “First, though what preceded seems peculiarly to concern the Jews, what follows appears to have a more extensive object, and to relate to the nations and the inhabitable earth in general. There we hear of συνοχη εθνων, distress, or anguish of nations, and of the things, επερχομενων τη οικουμενη, coming upon the habitable world; not to mention what immediately follows, to wit, that the Son of man shall be seen coming in a cloud, with great glory and power. Nor is it all probable that, by the term, εθνων, nations, used thrice in the preceding verse, manifestly for Gentiles, are meant in this verse only Jews and Samaritans. Secondly, the prediction which the verse under examination introduces, is accurately distinguished by the historian, as not commencing till after the completion of the former. It was not till after the calamities which were to befall the Jews should be ended; after their capital and temple, their last resource, should be invested and taken, and the wretched inhabitants destroyed, or carried captive into all nations; after Jerusalem should be trodden by the Gentiles; nay, and after the triumph of the Gentiles should be brought to a period; that the prophecy contained in this and the two subsequent verses should begin to take effect. The judicious reader, to be convinced of this, needs only give the passage an attentive perusal.”

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.
Luke 21:27-28. Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud — They shall see the accomplishment of what Daniel foretold, by the figurative expression of, “the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven;” for the destruction of the Jewish nation by the Roman armies, and, in after ages, of other persecuting and antichristian powers, and the spreading of my gospel in consequence thereof, according to this my prediction, shall demonstrate to all unprejudiced persons, that I am the Son of man, prophesied of by Daniel, and that the conversion of the world to Christianity is the glorious universal kingdom which Daniel foretold was to be given to the Son of man; and this is the true sign from heaven, about which the Jews have been so solicitous. See note on Matthew 24:30-31. With regard to the destruction of the Jewish nation, and the consequent downfall of their religious institutions, which they all along opposed to Christianity, it may be observed, that no events whatever could have contributed so effectually to the conversion of both Jews and Gentiles.

“For it is a known fact, that while the Jewish constitution subsisted, the spreading of the gospel was hindered, both by the believing and unbelieving Jews; the former disgusting the Gentiles, by endeavouring to subject them to the law of Moses; and the latter, terrifying them by the persecutions which they raised against the disciples, even in heathen countries. But the abolition of the Mosaical institutions confuted the error of the one, and the destruction of the nation brake the power of the other. The success, therefore, of the gospel, depending in a great measure upon the downfall of the Jewish state, was very properly predicted as the natural consequence thereof. Moreover, as this prophecy described so minutely the catastrophe of the Jewish state, its accomplishment could not but make a strong impression upon the minds of the Gentiles, as we know in fact it did bring over many of them to Christianity.” When these things begin to come to pass — The things I have been predicting; then look up — With firm faith; and lift up your heads — With joy; for your redemption — Out of many troubles; draweth nigh — By God’s destroying your implacable enemies.

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;
Luke 21:29-33. Behold the fig-tree — Christ spake this in the spring, just before the passover; when all the trees were budding on the mount of Olives, where they then were. When they now shoot forth, ye know of your own selves — Though none teach you; that summer is now nigh at hand — See note on Matthew 24:32-35. So when ye see these things, know that the kingdom of God is nigh — The destruction of the Jewish city, temple, and religion, to make way for the establishment of the gospel dispensation, and the advancement of my kingdom. Verily, this generation shall not pass, &c., till all be fulfilled — Greek, εως αν παντα γενηται, till all things be effected, all that has been spoken of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the Jewish constitution in church and state, to which things the question, Luke 21:7, relates; and which is treated of from the eighth to the twenty-fourth verse; in other words, till every article of this prophecy is accomplished. Our Lord, on other occasions, spake of his own coming, as what was to happen in that age. See Mark 9:1; and Matthew 26:64. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away — You may expect a dissolution of the frame of nature sooner than the least iota of this prophecy to fail of being fulfilled, within the time I have just now mentioned. This is the most astonishing part of the whole, for it determines the time of the completion of all the particulars mentioned, to the lives of the men of the age then in being; and it determines this, not simply, but with an asseveration, both to make the disciples attentive, and to strike future ages with admiration, when they should read this prophecy, and see every circumstance of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish state, with its consequences, even in the remotest ages, clearly foretold, and the time in which it was to happen precisely marked. Thus our Lord, in the fullest manner, showed the greatness of his own foreknowledge, and, by consequence, demonstrated the divinity of his mission. For, as the Jewish nation was at this time in the most flourishing state, the events here foretold were altogether improbable. Besides, the circumstances of the destruction are very numerous and surprisingly particular, and the language in which the whole is conceived is without the least ambiguity. It is, therefore, a prophecy of such a kind as could, not possibly be forged by an impostor; and every thinking person, who compares the events with this prediction, must do violence to his conscience if he do not acknowledge Jesus to be a prophet commissioned of God. It appears, however, that our Lord’s disciples did not then understand any part of this prophecy; which is the more to be wondered at, as it was both plain and particular, and had been delivered once before, Luke 17:20. Probably they applied all the dreadful passages of it to the heathen nations, especially the Romans, whose ambition they thought would lead them to oppose the erection of their Master’s kingdom, with all the forces of their empire. See Macknight. An observation of Mr. West’s, relating to the authors by whom this prophecy, so plain and circumstantial, is recorded, is worthy of the reader’s particular attention, namely, that Matthew and Mark were incontestably dead before the events here predicted took place, as Luke also probably might be; and as for John, the only evangelist who survived them, it is remarkable that he says nothing of them, lest any should say the prophecy was forged after the events happened. See West on the Resurrection, p. 393.

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.
Luke 21:34-36. Take heed, &c. — Here our Lord cautions them against the security and sensuality, to which, if they should yield, they would unfit themselves for the trying times that were approaching, and would render those times a great surprise and terror to them; nay, and involve themselves in the ruin about to come on others of their countrymen. By this we learn, 1st, That Christ’s promises of deliverance to his disciples and the first Christians were conditional, and only to be fulfilled, provided that, through divine grace, they made it their care to guard against those sins which would have exposed them to God’s judgments: and, 2d, That there is a close connection between our duty and safety; between our obedience to God and the divine aid and providence, for our preservation, whether temporal or spiritual: and that we are not to expect preservation immediately from his hand, without the use of those means which he has put it into our power to use in order to it. Lest at any time your hearts be overcharged, &c. — The original word βαρυνθωσιν, here rendered overcharged, properly signifies burdened, or, pressed down, and so very elegantly and strongly expresses the hateful consequences of intemperance; and the load which it brings on those rational faculties, which are the glory of the human nature. Thus Horace, — corpus onustum Hesternis vitiis animum quoque prægravat unà, Atque affigit humo divinæ particulam auræ. SAT. 2. lib. 2. lin. 77. The immoderate use of meat and drink not only burdens the mind with the guilt thereby contracted, but it renders it dull, stupid, and lifeless in duty, and indeed unfit for prayer and praise, for the exercise of any grace, and the practice of any virtue: nay, it stupifies the conscience, and renders the heart unaffected with those things that are most affecting. And cares of this life — Anxious cares about visible and temporal things, and the inordinate pursuit of them. The former is the snare of those that are given to their pleasures; this is the snare of the men of business that will be rich. Observe, reader, we have need to guard against both, also against all other temptations, lest at any time our hearts should be thus overcharged. Our caution against sin, and our care of our own souls, must be constant. But was there need to warn the apostles themselves against such sins as these? Then surely there is need to warn even strong Christians against the very grossest sins. Neither are we wise if we think ourselves out of the reach of any sin. And so that day — That awful and important time, of which he had been speaking, when these dreadful calamities should come upon that nation; and overwhelm the unwary and carnally secure. For as a snare, &c. — For the character of the generality of people in the Jewish nation, at that time, would be such that this ruin would come on all — Or on the greatest part of all; that dwelt on the face of the whole earth — Or, of the whole land, as a snare upon a thoughtless bird, which, in the midst of its security, finds itself inextricably taken. Thus should we take heed, lest either the hour of death or day of judgment should come upon us, when we neither expect nor are prepared for such awful events. Watch ye, therefore — This is the general conclusion of all that precedes. Watch against every temptation to negligence and sin, and against every thing which might lull you into a dangerous security; and pray always — With the most fervent importunity; that ye may be accounted worthy — Through pardoning mercy, and the renewing, assisting grace of God; to escape all these things — Those calamitous and destructive events; that shall assuredly come to pass — In the very manner I have described them. And stand before the Son of man — With courage and acceptance, acquitted and approved as his servants, and may not fall before him as his enemies in that day of awful visitation. In Romans 14:4, standing and falling are terms used to signify the being approved or condemned. Those of our Lord’s disciples who followed his directions, and were faithful to the grace they had received, not only escaped the destruction coming on the great body of the Jewish nation, but were acknowledged as his servants, and appointed to be the ministers of his word, and the heralds of his grace and mercy to the Gentile nations. The expression, καταξιωθητε, here rendered accounted worthy, sometimes implies an honour conferred on a person, as when the apostles are said to be counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ, Acts 5:41; some times the being meet or fit for any thing, or suitable thereto, as when John the Baptist exhorts to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, Luke 3:8. And so to be accounted worthy to escape, is, to have the honour of it, and to be fitted, or prepared for it. “The reader will observe that Luke’s account of this discourse is very short, in comparison with that of Matthew and Mark, for this obvious reason, that he had given the chief heads of it before, partly in a discourse of our Lord’s last coming, which was delivered to a very numerous assembly in Galilee, (Luke 12:35-48,) and partly in another discourse, relating only to the destruction of Jerusalem, which was delivered in his journey thither, at the feast of dedication, Luke 17:20, &c. Here, therefore, he chooses to omit what had been inserted on either of those occasions; as John, who probably wrote after the accomplishment of this prophecy, entirely omits it, as already so largely recorded by the former three, from whom, considering the circumstances of time, it came with infinitely better grace, than it could afterward have done from him.” — Doddridge. See notes on Matthew 24:42-51; and Mark 13:33-37.

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.
Luke 21:37-38. And in the day-time he was teaching in the temple — “His daily custom at this, and it may be at other passovers, was to spend the day in the city, most commonly in the temple, where he always found a great concourse of hearers, and in the evening to retire to the mount of Olives, where he lodged in the villages, or in the gardens, or in the open air among the trees. He chose to lodge at night in such places as these, that he might avoid falling into the hands of his enemies. For though they durst not attack him in the midst of his followers by day, they probably would have apprehended him during the silence and darkness of the night, had he lodged anywhere within the walls of the town. Accordingly they did not venture to lay hands on him, till Judas Iscariot, one of his own disciples, betrayed him to them, in the absence of the multitude, by conducting an armed band to the place of his retirement.” — Macknight. And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple — The evangelist does not say, that the people came and heard Jesus preach in the temple after this time, for Jesus himself had declared that he never was to preach to them any more, Matthew 23:38-39. But having described in what manner our Lord spent his time at this passover, the evangelist adds, that his ministry sustained no damage by his leaving the city at night, because he did not fail to return every morning to the temple, and because a great number of people came thither early to be instructed by him, knowing that it was his custom to be there betimes. “How much happier,” says Dr. Doddridge, “were his disciples in these early lectures, than the slumbers of the morning would have made them on their beds! Let us not scruple to deny ourselves the indulgence of unnecessary sleep, that we may, morning after morning, place ourselves at his feet, and lose no opportunity of receiving the instructions of his word, and seeking those of his Spirit.”

And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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