Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
Lu 21:1-4. The Widow's Two Mites.
1. looked up—He had "sat down over against the treasury" (Mr 12:41), probably to rest, for He had continued long standing as he taught in the temple court (Mr 11:27), and "looking up He saw"—as in Zaccheus' case, not quite casually.
the rich, &c.—"the people," says Mr 12:41 "cast money into the treasury, and many rich east in much"; that is, into chests deposited in one of the courts of the temple to receive the offerings of the people towards its maintenance (2Ki 12:9; Joh 8:20).
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
2. two mites—"which make a farthing" (Mr 12:42), the smallest Jewish coin. "She might have kept one" [Bengel].
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
3. And he said—"to His disciples," whom He "called to Him" (Mr 12:43), to teach from it a great future lesson.
more than … all—in proportion to her means, which is God's standard (2Co 8:12).
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.
4. of their abundance—their superfluity; what they had to spare," or beyond what they needed.
of her penury—or "want" (Mr 12:44)—her deficiency, of what was less than her own wants required, "all the living she had." Mark (Mr 12:44) still more emphatically, "all that she had—her whole subsistence." Note: (1) As temple offerings are needed still for the service of Christ at home and abroad, so "looking down" now, as then "up," Me "sees" who "cast in," and how much. (2) Christ's standard of commendable offering is not our superfluity, but our deficiency—not what will never be missed, but what costs us some real sacrifice, and just in proportion to the relative amount of that sacrifice. (See 2Co 8:1-3.)
And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
Lu 21:5-38. Christ's Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem and Warnings to Prepare for His Second Coming, Suggested by It—His Days and Nights during His Last Week.
5-7. (See on Mt 24:1-3.)
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.
8. the time—of the Kingdom, in its full glory.
go … not … after them—"I come not so very soon" (2Th 2:1, 2) [Stier].
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.
9-11. not terrified—(See Lu 21:19; Isa 8:11-14).
end not by and by—or immediately, not yet (Mt 24:6; Mr 13:7): that is, "Worse must come before all is over."
Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
10. Nation, &c.—Matthew and Mark (Mt 24:8; Mr 13:8) add, "All these are the beginning of sorrows," or travail pangs, to which heavy calamities are compared (Jer 4:31, &c.).
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.
12. brought before, &c.—The book of Acts verifies all this.
And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
13. for a testimony—an opportunity of bearing 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.
18. not a hair … perish—He had just said (Lu 21:16) they should be put to death; showing that this precious promise is far above immunity from mere bodily harm, and furnishing a key to the right interpretation of the ninety-first Psalm, and such like. Matthew adds the following (Mt 24:12): "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many," the many or, the most—the generality of professed disciples—"shall wax cold." But he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Sad illustrations of the effect of abounding iniquity in cooling the love of faithful disciples we have in the Epistle of James, written about this period referred to, and too frequently ever since (Heb 10:38, 39; Re 2:10). "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness, and then shall the end come" (Mt 24:14). God never sends judgment without previous warning; and there can be no doubt that the Jews, already dispersed over most known countries, had nearly all heard the Gospel "as a witness," before the end of the Jewish state. The same principle was repeated and will repeat itself to the end.
In your patience possess ye your souls.
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
20, 21. by armies—encamped armies, that is, besieged: "the abomination of desolation" (meaning the Roman ensigns, as the symbols of an idolatrous, pagan, unclean power) "spoken of by Daniel the prophet" (Da 9:27) "standing where it ought not" (Mr 13:14). "Whoso readeth [that prophecy] let him understand" (Mt 24:15).
Then … flee, &c.—Eusebius says the Christians fled to Pella, at the north extremity of Perea, being "prophetically directed"; perhaps by some prophetic intimation still more explicit than this, which still would be their chart.
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.
23. woe unto—"alas for."
with child, &c.—from the greater suffering it would involve; as also "flight in winter, and on the sabbath," which they were to "pray" against (Mt 24:20), the one as more trying to the body, the other to the soul. "For then shall be tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be"—language not unusual in the Old Testament for tremendous calamities, though of this it may perhaps be literally said, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved, but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Mt 24:21, 22). But for this merciful "shortening," brought about by a remarkable concurrence of causes, the whole nation would have perished, in which there yet remained a remnant to be afterwards gathered out. Here in Matthew and Mark (Mt 24:24; Mr 13:22) are some particulars about "false Christs," who should, "if possible"—a precious clause—"deceive the very elect." (Compare 2Th 2:9-11; Re 13:13.)
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.
24. Jerusalem … trodden down … until, &c.—Implying (1) that one day Jerusalem shall cease to be "trodden down by the Gentiles" (Re 11:2), as then by pagan so now by Mohammedan unbelievers; (2) that this shall be at the "completion" of "the times of the Gentiles," which from Ro 11:25 (taken from this) we conclude to mean till the Gentiles have had their full time of that place in the Church which the Jews in their time had before them—after which, the Jews being again "grafted into their own olive tree," one Church of Jew and Gentile together shall fill the earth (Ro 11:1-36). What a vista this opens up!
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;
25-28. signs, &c.—Though the grandeur of this language carries the mind over the head of all periods but that of Christ's second coming, nearly every expression will be found used of the Lord's coming in terrible national judgments, as of Babylon, &c.; and from Lu 21:28, 32, it seems undeniable that its immediate reference was to the destruction of Jerusalem, though its ultimate reference beyond doubt is to Christ's final coming.
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.
28. redemption—from the oppression of ecclesiastical despotism and legal bondage by the total subversion of the Jewish state and the firm establishment of the evangelical kingdom (Lu 21:31). But the words are of far wider and more precious import. Matthew (Mt 24:30) says, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven," evidently something distinct from Himself, mentioned immediately after. What this was intended to mean, interpreters are not agreed. But as before Christ came to destroy Jerusalem, some appalling portents were seen in the air, so before His personal appearing it is likely that something analogous will be witnessed, though of what nature it is vain to conjecture.
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.
32. This generation—not "this nation," as some interpret it, which, though admissible in itself, seems very unnatural here. It is rather as in Lu 9:27.
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.
34-37. surfeiting, and drunkenness—All animal excesses, quenching spirituality.
cares of this life—(See on Mr 4:7; Mr 4:19).
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.
36. Watch … pray, &c.—the two great duties which in prospect of trial are constantly enjoined. These warnings, suggested by the need of preparedness for the tremendous calamities approaching, and the total wreck of the existing state of things, are the general improvement of the whole discourse, carrying the mind forward to Judgment and Vengeance of another kind and on a grander and more awful scale—not ecclesiastical or political but personal, not temporal but eternal—when all safety and blessedness will be found to lie in being able to "STAND BEFORE THE Son of Man" in the glory of His personal appearing.
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.
37, 38. in the daytime—of this His last week.
abode in the mount—that is, at Bethany (Mt 21:17).
And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.