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Jerusalem in the Last Days (Luke 21:5-38)

5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” 7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” 8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” 10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.

20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Introduction

The temple fascinated both Jesus and His disciples, but how different were those things which attracted them. Jesus was attracted by a widow, and a contribution which would have little or no impact on the receipts of the temple that day (Luke 21:1-4). The small gift of this widow was singled out by Jesus, above all of the large contributions which were given at that time, for this was all the woman had. She gave out of her need. The others gave out of their abundance. She gave two small and almost worthless coins, but these were all that she had. Jesus commended her gift because it was evidence of her love for God and her faith in Him to care for her needs.

The disciples were attracted by something different, something more tangible, something more inspiring and impressive. They were awe-struck with the magnificence of the temple. What attracted their attention was that the temple was beautifully adorned. Luke alone informs us that at least some of these adornments were the result of gifts that were donated.

The temple was both great and glorious, especially to the disciples of our Lord. The disciples were not from Jerusalem, but from Galilee. We would say that they were “hicks” from the “sticks.” They would have seldom gone to Jerusalem,71 and thus they would behold the grandeur of the temple as tourists. And the temple was indeed an awesome sight, as Geldenhuys points out:

“The original temple of Solomon was an exceptionally magnificent building, but was destroyed in 586 B.C., by the Chaldaeans. It was rebuilt by Zerubbabel and his companions after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. This rebuilt temple was comparatively small and simple. Herod the Great (who ruled over the Jewish people from 37 to 4 B.C.) was a great lover of architecture. And it is due to him that the temple, with its environs on the temple mount, was built up to such a massive and artistic building complex (nearly five hundred yards long and four hundred yards wide). Herod the Great drew up a grand architectural plan according to which the whole temple with all its surrounding buildings had to be rebuilt. He even caused a thousand priests to be trained as builders to do the work (so that the Jews could not accuse him of having the temple built by ‘unclean hands’). With this rebuilding a commencement was already made in 19 B.C., but it was only completed in A.D. 63 under Agrippa II and Albinus. This reminds us of what the Jews said to Jesus in reply to His figurative words about the breaking down and erection of the temple. They understood Him to speak of the temple building and then said: ‘Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou build it up in three days?’ (John ii. 20). When they uttered these words (c. A.D. 28), the temple was therefore already forty-six years in rebuilding. It would take another thirty years and longer before it was to be completed. And it had been finished for hardly seven years when in A.D. 70 it was completely destroyed in fire and blood notwithstanding the fanaticism with which the Jews tried to defend it.”72

The backdrop to our text is thus the temple and its great beauty. The response of our Lord to the disciples’ awe will evoke two questions, the first pertaining to the timing of the coming of the kingdom, and the second seeking to learn the sign which would precede and prove that His kingdom was at hand. Jesus did not answer the first question, and He indicates a number of evidences that His return is near. But our Lord’s focus is not on the conclusion of history so much as on the conduct of His disciples in the interim period, a period of considerable length, and of much difficulty.

The Structure of the Text

The structure of this text is a bit difficult, because there are two major events in focus, but neither of them are dealt with completely separate from the other.73 Nevertheless, we can generally view chapter 21 in this way:

(1) The beauty of the widow’s contribution to Jesus—(vv. 1-4)

(2) The beauty of the temple and Jesus’ teaching—(vv. 5-38)

  • The destruction of temple & its implications—(vv. 5-24)
  • The second coming of Christ & its implications (vv. 25-38)

Our lesson will largely be limited to verses 5-24, which may be broken down in this way:

(1) The disciples’ awe and Jesus’ awful revelation—(vv. 5-6)

(2) The disciples’ question and Jesus’ response —(vv. 7-24)

  • The question—(v. 7)
  • Do not be deceived and follow false messiah’s—(v. 8)
  • Do not be frightened, and fail to be witnesses—(vv. 9-19)
  • Do not seek safety within Jerusalem—(vv. 20-24)

The Background of our Text

Jesus had marched on Jerusalem. While there was an enthusiastic crowd to greet Him, Jesus knew that this was not the day of His coronation. There would be a cross before there was to be a crown, as He had already told His disciples on a number of occasions. Jesus wept over this city, for He knew that as a result of its rejection of Him as Messiah, a day of judgment was coming upon it:

“If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:42-44, NASB).

The official rejection of Jesus is now virtually complete. The leaders of the nation have conspired to put Jesus to death. They have challenged His authority and have asked Him questions which were designed to incriminate Him. These have failed. The leaders have only been embarrassed, causing them to be more resolute in their determination to kill Jesus. All that remains is for Judas to be introduced, and for his act of betrayal to be carried out, leading to the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. Just as Jesus’ debate with the leaders of Jerusalem is over, so is His teaching of the masses coming to a close. Now, the Lord is concentrating much more on His disciples, preparing them for the treacherous days ahead. They are still “starry-eyed” and optimistic, but Jesus’ words will at least momentarily sober them, or at least puzzle them, for they pertain to the destruction of Jerusalem, the persecution of the Lord’s disciples, and the dangers which accompany discipleship.

Our Approach

In this lesson, we will begin by making some very important observations concerning the entire prophetic passage. We will then focus our attention on verses 5-24 and the destruction of Jerusalem. We will seek to identify the event, to understand Luke’s description of it, and then to consider the practical implications of this event for the disciple of our Lord.

Observations

Before we begin to look at the text in detail, let us be sure to get a feel of the passage by making several important observations:

(1) Two principle events are in view in our text: the destruction of Jerusalem, which is soon to come, and the second coming of Christ, which will take place after some protracted period of time.

(2) These two events are not neatly separated in our text, nor is our text chronological in its organization.

(3) Our Lord’s dealing with these two events, separated in time, is not to distinguish them so much as to intertwine them.

(4) Luke does not describe the destruction of the temple, and so his two works were either written before the temple’s destruction in 70 A.D. or he chose not to describe the event or to allude to it.

(5) Jesus dwells more on the disciples’ conduct than He is on satisfying their curiosity as to either the exact time of fulfillment, its sequence of events, or even some specific sign which unmistakably identifies the end as at hand.

(6) While we view the destruction of Jerusalem as past history and the second coming as unfulfilled prophecy, Luke and the disciples viewed them as both future.

(7) The things which Jesus says to His disciples as “you” cannot all happen to them, and thus “you” must refer to Israel or Israelites corporately, and not just to the disciples individually.74

(8) The mood of this text is sober. There is no hype, and much warning about the dangers which lie ahead for Jesus’ disciples. It describes the times ahead, up to the second coming as dangerous and difficult. There is no “prosperity gospel” to be found here, but rather a sobering warning about the days ahead.

(9) The subjects of the destruction of Jerusalem and the second coming are not introduced for the first time here. Luke 17:20-37 and 19:41-44 both deal with these future events.

The Disciples’
Fascination With the Temple
(21:5-6)

5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

As we have already seen, the temple was an awe-inspiring sight. The disciples were understandably impressed. Was it possible that the disciples’ attachment to the temple was based upon some false assumptions concerning it? For example, if the disciples believed that Jesus was about to establish His throne in Jerusalem, would He not make the Temple His headquarters? Did this not mean that their “offices” would be in the temple? If such was their thinking, then no wonder they were impressed with this building. What great facilities this building would provide them.

But this was not at all to be the case. The Lord’s coming would really usher in (or at least intensify) the “times of the Gentiles,” which would be signaled by the downfall of Jerusalem and the destruction of this temple. The huge stones, so impressive to the disciples, would not be left standing on one another.75 What “cold water” this must have been, poured out, as it were, on the ever warming hopes of the disciples.

The Disciples’ Questions
(21:7)

7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

Jesus had been very specific about the destruction of the Temple, but vague as to the time when it would take place. The disciples want to know exactly when these things will take place, and the sign which will signal that they are just about to occur. The disciples, like most of us today, are concerned about the wrong things. They wish to know information which will be of no real benefit to them, largely to satisfy their curiosity. Jesus is much more interested in their conduct than their curiosity, and so He virtually avoids their questions, teaching them instead what they do need to know—how they should conduct themselves in the light of the destruction of Jerusalem, and His second coming. This we see in the next passage.

The Destruction of Jerusalem
and Its Practical Implications
(21:8-24)

8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” 10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.

20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Though our Lord has little interest in satisfying the curiosity of His disciples concerning the timing of these events, He has a great interest in teaching them about their conduct in the light of these events. How different is His focus from our own. There are many differences and much debate about the timing and the sequence of events in matters of prophecy, but there can be little doubt as to what our Lord’s emphasis is here—on the disciple’s conduct. The conduct of the disciple can be summed up in three somewhat negative statements, which are given in the text above:

(1) Do not be deceived, so as to follow false “messiah’s” (v. 8).

(2) Do not be frightened, either by unsettling world events, or by persecution directed at you personally (vv. 9-19).

(3) Do not flee to Jerusalem for safety when it is under siege (vv. 20-24).

In verse 8, Jesus warned of the danger of following false “messiah’s.” When times are bad, it is easier to accept ready solutions to our problems. The false “messiah’s” have been with us throughout the history of the church. They claim to come in our Lord’s name. Indeed, they are bold enough to claim to be Him. Naturally, they must also claim that the time of the “kingdom” has come. I believe that it is not the “messiah” which is so attractive in the final analysis, but the “kingdom” which he promises. Jesus here outlines very difficult days ahead for His followers. The false “messiah’s” promise “good times,” which is synthetic “good news” for troubled saints. Jesus warns His disciples not to follow such fakes.

Luke’s account has but one verse of warning concerning the false “messiah’s,” but Matthew has much more to say on this subject. He reports of Jesus teaching that these “counterfeit Christs” will be accompanied by “great signs and miracles” (24:23-24). He further informs us Jesus warned that many will “turn away from the faith” in following such “savior’s,” and that the love of most would grow cold (24:10-13). These last days will be difficult ones for the followers of Jesus. To be too eager to escape these tough times will cause one to be susceptible to such errors.

In verse 9 Jesus turns to the difficulties which may tempt the true believer to deny or to distort his faith and practice. The great danger which is in view is that of fear. Fear is both the enemy of, and the opposite of, faith. Verses 9-11 speak of the dangers facing men in general, less personal forms: wars, revolutions, earthquakes, famines, and pestilences. These are not personal forces, but they can have a great personal impact upon an individual. The last days are going to be chaotic, dangerous, and foreboding, but these “dark hours” are the occasion for light, the light of the gospel (cf. Ephesians 5:8-14; Philippians 2:15). All of these chaotic events cannot and must not be avoided, for the kingdom of God will come only after these things have come to pass (v. 9). The cross always precedes the crown.

In verse 12 the difficulties of the disciple become much more personal. Now, the Lord speaks of the persecution which believers in Christ must suffer by virtue of their identification with Him. The persecution spoken of here is characteristic of that which has taken place down through the history of the church, but it is that which directly affected the disciples to whom Jesus was speaking. Luke, in his second volume, the book of Acts, gives a historical account of some of the sufferings of the saints in the days after our Lord’s ascension.

The difficulties of these hard times is no barrier to the gospel, however. Indeed, these hard times provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate and to proclaim the hope which we have in Christ. Believers will be brought forward, and charged publicly, and thus they have the opportunity for a public witness, whether before Jewish opponents in the synagogues,76 or Gentile opponents, such as kings and governors. In such cases, the saint is not to plan his testimony in advance, but rather to look to the Lord to give the right words for the moment. Stephen’s powerful message (recorded in Acts 7) is but one example of the faithfulness of God to give His servants the right words to speak.

The persecution which men will face will be even more personal, however. Not only will we be opposed by the enemies of the gospel, such as religious and political leaders, but we will be opposed by our own families. Saints in those hard times will be betrayed by their closest relatives, handed over to persecution, and even to death. Now, the hard words of Jesus concerning the disciple and his family (Luke 14:26), make a great deal of sense. The “hard words” of Jesus were intended for the “hard times” ahead, times such as those described here in chapter 21. If we are going to be betrayed by our own family, we must have chosen Christ above family, or we will forsake the faith in such times.

Disciples are not to be apprehensive about what they will say in their own defense,77 because the words will be given them at the time of need (v. 14). Men need not fear the rejection of family if they have already chosen Christ above all others (v. 16). Men and women of faith need not fear persecution, and even death, because true life, eternal life, is found in Christ (vv. 17-19). It sounds contradictory for our Lord to say that some will be killed for their faith in Him, and then, in the very next sentence to affirm that “Not a hair of you head will perish” (v. 18). How can both statements be true? The problem is at once resolved when we distinguish “real, eternal, life” from “mere physical existence.” In our Lord’s discussion with the Sadducees He taught that with God, all are alive, for God raises the dead. To hold fast to one’s faith, and to die in faith is not to die at all, but to live. As Jesus elsewhere taught,

“For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:24).

The third warning of our Lord to His disciples is found in verses 20-24, where the context is the coming destruction of Jerusalem (of which the destruction of the temple was a part). This would happen in the lifetime of the disciples who were with Jesus. It was a warning particularly relevant to them, for most of the saints would have fled from Jerusalem by the time of its destruction, but not the apostles:

And on that day [of Stephen’s stoning] a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles (Acts 8:1b, NASB).

Persecution was to be God’s instrument for removing His church from Jerusalem before its destruction. The disciples (here called apostles), however, would remain behind. Jesus’ words are most relevant to them. When they saw the

Roman army coming to besiege the city, they should flee from it, so as to escape from the wrath of God78 at the hands of these soldiers. The action which our Lord called for would have first seemed to be suicidal. Under normal circumstances, one who lived in the open ground would have fled to the fortified city for safety: “In time of war country people would come into walled cities for protection. Jesus tells His hearers that in view of Jerusalem’s impending destruction they should keep as far from it as they could.”79

The destruction of Jerusalem would prove to be as devastating as Jesus had forewarned:

“According to Josephus (The Jewish War, vi, 9) 1,000,000 Jews perished at that time with the destruction of Jerusalem (through famine, pestinences, fratricide, and the Roman sword) and 97,000 prisoners were taken and carried off everywhere. Josephus probably exaggerates. But in any case it is certain that hundreds of thousands perished. The Roman historian Tacitus states (Historiae, v, 13, 4) that the normal population of Jerusalem was 600,000 before A.D. 70. And if we bear in mind that before the investment of the city the Jews poured into Jerusalem in tens of thousands for the Passover and could not again return to their homes and thus remained in the city throughout the five months’ siege, it may be understood that hundreds of thousands would perish in the over-populated city. In any case not a single one was left alive in the ruined city.”80

In this destruction, foretold by our Lord, a number of the purposes of God would be accomplished. The old order would be done away with. The priesthood would be done away with. The way would be made for the church to be established as the dwelling place of God, the “new temple” (cf. Ephesians 2:18-22). The temple made with human hands would be no more. The Jews would be removed from their land. The times of the Gentiles would be in full swing. Until the Lord’s return, Jerusalem would be the pawn of the Gentiles, to deal with as they chose (in my opinion, this includes the present order in Israel, which exists only because of the Gentiles intention of dealing thus with the Jews).

Conclusion

Jesus’ words here contain a number of important lessons for those of that day, as well as for saints of all ages. Let us consider some of them.

First, the Lord’s words here should have laid to rest the disciples’ visions of an immediate kingdom, with Jerusalem and that temple as its headquarters. That temple was soon to be destroyed, Jerusalem to be sacked, and the times of the Gentiles to prevail for an indefinite period of time.

Second, the Lord’s words clearly spelled out “hard times” ahead for those who would follow Him, rather than “happy days,” as nearly all, including the disciples, hoped for. This was true for those disciples, and for the early church (cf. Acts), but it is just as true for saints of all ages (cf. 2 Timothy 3). There are many today who offer men immediate glory, peace, and good times, but who do not talk of suffering, persecution, and endurance, as Jesus does. Men love to hear of the blessings of the future kingdom as being realized and experienced now. That simply is not the way Jesus told it, my friend. Jesus consistently spoke of hard times to those who would follow Him. He did not dangle promises of immediate relief from suffering and pain, but warned that the way of the disciple was difficult. Jesus was right, and all who differ on this point, are wrong. Those who would follow Jesus should expect the path of adversity and persecution. That is just what Jesus promised.

Third, Jesus here teaches us that times of adversity, chaos, and opposition are days of opportunity for the proclamation of the gospel. We do not need “good times” to preach the gospel. The gospel is “light” to those in “darkness,” and it offers hope to those in despair. That is why Jesus can say that that the gospel is cause for rejoicing for those who weep, who hunger, and who are persecuted for His name’s sake (cf. Luke 6:20-26; Matthew 5:1-12).

Fourth, in order to maximize the opportunity that lies before us, the disciple of Jesus must beware of deception and following false “messiah’s,” must not be afraid, even in the midst of chaos and persecution, and must not seek safety where God’s wrath must abide.

Allow me to expand on this last point by establishing a principle, one on which the teaching of our Lord in this text is based, as I understand it: THE DISCIPLE OF CHRIST SHOULD NOT BE ATTRACTED TO THAT WHICH GOD WILL DESTROY, AND SHOULD NOT SEEK SALVATION IN THAT WHICH GOD HAS CONDEMNED.

Jesus responded to the awe of His disciples toward the temple by informing them that it was to be demolished. Jesus was teaching them, I believe, that they should not be attracted to that which God was about to destroy. They also had a great love for and attraction to Jerusalem, and yet Jesus told them that in the day of His wrath on Jerusalem, they should flee from this city, not flee to it. They should not seek salvation in that place which had rejected Him as Messiah, and which He now was to reject (for a time) and to destroy.

What a lesson for each of us. How often I am attracted to earthly things, things which are to decay and fail in my lifetime, or which God will destroy in the renovation of the earth. If prophecy should teach us anything, it is to stop placing too much value on that which God has told us He would destroy. Peter learned this lesson well, as we can see in his second epistle:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat? But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 2:10-13).

We need not understand the details of prophecy, nor to know the times or the signs of the times, but we do need to know the outcome, and thus we need to order our lives accordingly. We need to love the things of this world less, and the things of the next more. We need to have our trust in Him alone, and to seek to share the gospel with a world that is under condemnation, and soon to be destroyed in judgment.


71 It is interesting to note that the 3 synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) mention only our Lord’s appearance in Jerusalem as a child. John, on the other hand, mentions several occasions at which Jesus was there (John 2:13; 4:45; 5:1ff.; 7:10ff.; 10:22; 11:18). In none of the instances of our Lord’s appearances in Jerusalem can I find a reference to the disciples —at least there is no emphasis on their being present. I would not go so far as to say that when Jesus went to Jerusalem He always left His disciples behind, but it would seem that He could have. In my mind, I suspect that Jesus did not want His disciples to get caught up in premature messianic enthusiasm, and He therefore may have purposely not taken them with Him, at least on some occasions.

72 Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), pp. 533-534. Geldenhuys goes on to say,

“The group of buildings belonging to the temple as it was rebuilt by Herod occupied a much larger area than that of Solomon, and the whole of the temple-mount was surrounded by a high, strong wall with towers on the northern side. On the other sides there were no towers, because the steepness of those sides of the hill on which the temple was built and the height of the wall made it impregnable on those sides. On the temple square there were beautiful colonnades, stairs and gates by which the various temple buildings … were combined to form a whole. The actual temple … was built on an elevation of white marble blocks with golden ornaments. So it dominated all the buildings on the temple site. The Jewish historian Josephus … gives the following description of the temple: The whole of the outer works of the temple was in the highest degree worthy of admiration; for it was completely covered with gold plates, which when the sun was shining on them, glittered so dazzlingly that they blinded the eyes of the beholders not less than when one gazed at the sun’s rays themselves. And on the other sides, where there was no gold, the blocks of marble were of such a pure white the to strangers who had never previously seen them (from a distance they looked like a mountain of snow’” (v, 14), p. 534.

Morris also writes, “The noble stones were the great stones used in erecting the building (some huge stones can still be seen in the ‘wailing wall,’ but this was part of the substructure, not of the Temple itself). According to Josephus some of them were as much as forty-five cubits long. The offerings would be decorative gifts such as the golden vine Herod gave with ‘grape clusters as tall as a man’ (Josephus, Bellum v.210).” Leon Morris, The Gospel According to St. Luke (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), p. 296.

73 The commentators generally agree that while the destruction of Jerusalem and the second coming are distinct events, separated by a considerable period of time, they cannot be neatly separated in this text: “If we arrange the items into an ordered series, it would run as follows: (1) the time of testimony (vs. 12a) indicates this period comes before all the rest); (2) the emergence of false messiahs; (3) political upheavals (including the fall of Jerusalem); (4) cosmic disturbances; and (5) the coming of the son of Man. from this apocalyptic timetable we can extract the Lukan answers to the two questions raised in vs. 7. When will the temple be destroyed? It will occur as part of the political disturbances prior to the End. What will be the sign when this is about to take place? The sign will be when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies (vs. 20). Though it was the oracle about the temple’s destruction that prompted the questions which evoked the discourse, the evangelist’s concerns are broader in this chapter than the fall of Jerusalem and the temple’s demise (though the fall and the demise are a part of the recurrent theme in Luke: 123:31-35; 129:28-44; 23:26-31.” Charles H. Talbert, Reading Luke: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Third Gospel (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1984), p. 200.

“The chronology of the events described in 21:8-19 does not coincide with the order of their appearance in the text where a warning not to be misled by false messiahs and other signs into thinking the End has arrived (vss. 8-9), and references to political upheavals (vs. 10) and cosmic disturbances (vs. 11) precede the section on persecution (vss. 12-19). Chronologically, however, the persecutions precede the other items (cf. vs. 12a—pro de touton panton, ‘but before all these things’): that is, in the interim before the eschaton the disciples will experience persecution (cf. 6;22-23; 8:13; 12:11; Acts 4-5; 12; 16; 18; 21).” Talbert, p. 201.

“… verses 5-24 deal practically throughout (except verses 9, 9) with predictions concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the preceding events, although in a secondary sense even some of these predictions also refer to the Last Things. But in verses 25-8 Jesus looks beyond the foreshadowing of the Final Judgment to that Judgment itself and its attendant signs, in association with His second advent. In verses 29-33 He exhorts His hearers to watch for the former set of events, which are to be accomplished within ‘this generation,’ while in verses 34-6 He warns them 9and through them the whole Christian church) to watch faithfully for the latter set of events, which are to take place at a day and hour known to none save god the Father.” Geldenhuys, pp. 523-24.

“But in all three records the outlines of the two main events, with their signs, cannot always be disentangled. Some of the utterances clearly point to the Destruction of Jerusalem; others equally clearly to the Return of the Christ. But there are some which might apply to either or both; and we, who stand between the two, cannot be sure which one, if only one, is intended. In its application to the lives of the hearers each event taught a similar truth, and conveyed a similar warning; and therefore a clearly cut distinction between them was as little needed as an exact statement of date.” Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Luke (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1896), pp. 477-478.

74 “Another point of considerable importance remains to be noticed. When the Lord, on quitting the Temple, said: ‘Ye shall not see Me henceforth,’ He must have referred to Israel in their national capacity—to the Jewish polity in Church and State. If so, the promise in the text of visible reappearance must also apply to the Jewish Commonwealth, to Israel in their national capacity. Accordingly, it is suggested that in the present passage Christ refers to His Advent, not from the general cosmic standpoint of universal, but from the Jewish standpoint of Jewish, history, in which the destruction of Jerusalem and the appearance of false Christs are the last events of national history, to be followed by the dreary blank and silence of the many centuries of the ‘Gentile dispensation,’ broken at last by the events that usher in His Coming.” Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1965 [Photolithoprinted]), II, p. 433.

75 I have been told that the reason why the stones were so completely torn down was due to the fact that the gold, used in decorating the temple, had worked into the stone, and thus the stones had to be completely destroyed in order to extract the gold. It is at least a plausible explanation for the motivation of those destroying the temple, and thus fulfilling our Lord’s predictions.

76 “We are apt to think of synagogues as places of worship, but we should not overlook their wider functions as centres of administration and education. They were the centres of Jewish life, and Jewish law was administered from them as far as applicable (cf. 12:11). The use of the term shows that Jesus’ followers must expect opposition from the Jews. Prisons points to the certainty of condemnation, while the reference to kings and governors shows that the persecuting authorities will be Gentiles as well as Jews.” Leon Morris, The Gospel According to St. Luke (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), p. 297.

77 “… the verb promeletan, meditate beforehand, is a technical term for preparing an address; see AG… ” Morris, p. 297.

78 Morris writes, “Days of vengeance, or ‘the time of retribution’ (NEB, cf. Ps. 94:1; Is. 34:8; etc.), are days when people will be punished for their sins. What is to happen to Jerusalem is not arbitrary, but due penalty. The fulfillment of Scripture shows that the divine judgment is being carried out.” Morris, p. 299.

79 Morris, p. 298.

80 Geldrnhuys, pp. 535-536, fn. 26.

Related Topics: Christology, Eschatology (Things to Come)