Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.C. Revelations concerning the Parusia, and Leave-takings in the midst of His Friends
The Leaving of the Temple. Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem and the Fulness of the Time
1. The Widow’s Mite (LUKE 21:1–4)
(Parallel to Mark 12:41–44.)
1And he looked up, and [Looking up, he], saw the [om., the] rich men casting theirgifts into the treasury. 2And he saw also a certain [some one and that a, τινα καίforκαὶ τινα1] poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3And he said, Of a truth I say untoyou, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God:2but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 21:1. And looking up, ἀναβλέψας.—Here also we must unite the accounts of Mark and Luke, in order to be able to form to ourselves a correct conception of the true course of this miniature but lovely narrative. Even this deserves to be noted, that we see our Lord sitting so tranquilly in the temple (καθίσας, Mark) shortly after His terrific “Woe to you!” had resounded. He will avoid even the slightest appearance of having gone away in any excitement, or from any sort of fear of further attacks. The place where we have to seek Him, over against God’s chest, is known to us also from John 8:20. We may understand the thirteen offering chests (Shofaroth) which were marked with letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and stood open there in order to receive gifts for different sacred and benevolent purposes, about whose destination and arrangement we find much that is interesting gathered in LIGHTFOOT, Decas Chorograph. in Marcum, Luke 3. Perhaps, however, a particular treasure-chest is meant, of which also Josephus speaks, Ant. Jud. xix. 6, 1. Comp. 2 Kings 12:9. In view of the uncertainty of the matter, it is at least precipitate to be so ready with the imputation that the Evangelists have been inexact in their statement, like, for instance, De Wette.
Luke 21:2. Some one, and that a poor widow, τινα καὶ χήραν.—See notes on the text. Perhaps one of those whose unhappy fate Jesus had just portrayed, Luke 20:47. We need not, however, assert on this account that He designedly made such honorable mention of this particular widow in order to make the contrast yet stronger with the haughty and unloving Pharisees. He is now through with them. The contrast was not made, but born of the reality of life.—Two mites, δύο λεπτά.—As to the pecuniary value, see on the parallel in Mark. It is a question of little account whether the Rabbinic rule, nemo ponat λεπτόν in cistam eleëmosynarum, is really applicable here, which Meyer disputes, and whether, therefore, it was true that in no case could less than two mites be cast into the γαζοφυλάκιον. It certainly cannot be proved that this rule was applicable also to the δῶρα τοῦ Θεοῦ. At all events, necessity knows no law, and Bengel’s remark, quorum unum vidua retinere poterat, remains therefore true.
Luke 21:3. Πλεῖον πάντων.—It deserves to be noted that our Lord does not at all censure or lightly esteem the gifts of the rich. Not once again does there resound a “Woe to you, ye hypocrites!” in rebuke He will, after what has just been said in the temple, not again open His mouth. Only He extols far above the beneficence of these, the gift of the poor widow. For the rich have of their abundance cast in εὶς τὰ δῶρα, that is, not ad monumenta preciosa, ibi in perpetuum dedicata (Bengel), but ad dona, in thesauro asservata. The woman, on the other hand, gave of her poverty, ά̓παντα τὸν βίον ὀ̔ν εῖ̓χε, comp. Luke 8:43; 15:12 (yet more strongly and briefly, Mark: πάντα ὅσα εῖχεν). The value of her gift is, therefore, reckoned not according to the pecuniary amount, but according to the sacrifice connected therewith. How our Lord became acquainted with the widow’s necessity we do not know; perhaps she belonged to those known as poor; nothing hinders us, however, to refer it to the Divine knowledge which penetrated the life of Nathanael and the Samaritan woman. Enough, He shows that He has attentively observed the work of love, and praises it because He knows out of what source it flowed. He does not, it is true, directly compare the disposition, but only the ability, of the different givers with each other; but certainly He would not have so highly valued the material worth of the little gift, if He had not at the same time calculated also the moral worth. In no case would He have praised the widow if she had brought her offering, like most of the Pharisees, from ignoble impulses. Now, He will not withhold from her His approbation, since her heart in His eyes passes for richer than her gift. He does not ask whether this gift will be a vain one; whether it is well to support with such offerings the temple-chest and its misuse; whether a worship ought to be yet supported by widows, which a few years afterwards is to fall before the sword of the enemy. He looks alone at the ground, the character and purpose of her act, and the poor woman who has given up all in good faith, but has kept her faith, gains now with her two pieces of copper an income of imperishable honor.
How the judgment of our Lord respecting this widow finds at the same time an echo in every human heart, appears to us if we direct our look to particular parallel expressions from profane literature. According to the Jewish legend (see WETSTEIN on Mark 12:43), a high-priest who had despised a handful of meal which a poor woman brought to a sacrifice, is said to have received a revelation not to contemn this small gift, because she had therewith, as it were, given her whole soul. According to SENECA, De Benef, i. 1:58, the poor Æschines, who, instead of an offering of money, dedicated himself to Socrates, brought a greater offering than Alcibiades and others with their rich gifts. An act similar to that of the poor widow we find stated in HOFMANN, Missionsstunden, i. 5. Vorlesung.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The narrative of the Widow’s Mite makes in this connection a similar impression to that of a friendly sunbeam on a dark tempestuous heaven, or a single rose upon a heath full of thistles and thorns. Just in this appears the Divine in our Lord, that He, in a moment when the fate of Jerusalem, and with this the coming of the kingdom of God into the whole world, so completely fills His mind, has yet eyes and heart for the most insignificant individual, and is disposed to adorn even so lowly a head with the crown of honor. We need no other proof for the celestially pure temper in which He left the accursed temple after such words of wrath. It is as if He cannot so part, as if at least His last word must be a word of blessing and of peace, so that we scarcely know in what character in this hour of sundering we shall most admire the King of the kingdom of God, whether more as Punisher of hidden evil, or as Rewarder of hidden good.
2. In the judgment also which He passes, the Son is the image of the invisible Father. Comp. 1 Sam. 16:1–13. Men judge the heart according to the deeds; the Lord judges the deed according to the heart. Therewith is connected, moreover, the phenomenon that the sacred history relates very much which profane history gives over to oblivion, and the reverse. Heroic deeds and great events of the world are passed over here in silence, but not the cup of cold water, the widow’s mite, the ointment of Mary, and the like.
3. The history of the two mites is a new proof of the power of little things, and of the gracious favor with which the Lord looks upon the least offering which only bears the stamp of a sancta simplicitas. With right, therefore, has this text been regarded as an admirable mission-text, since the mission-chest receives no insignificant increment from widows’ mites, over which an “Increase and multiply” has been uttered. By the example of this woman the penny clubs for the mission cause, the Ketten-vereine of the Gustavus Adolphus Society, [the weekly penny offerings of our Sunday scholars,] &c., are sanctioned. Even in a material respect the word 2 Cor. 12:10, becomes true for the church of our Lord.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The last look of the Lord at those surrounding Him in the temple.—The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the Maker of them all, Prov. 20:2.—The beneficence of the rich and of the poor compared with one another.—How one can be beneficent even without giving much, Acts 3:6.—The true art of reckoning: 1. For love no offering is too great; 2. in God’s eyes no offering of love is too little.—The judgment of the Lord: 1. Other than the judgment of man; 2. better than the judgment of man.—How little really a rich man does when he does nothing but give.—The heart is the standard of the deeds.—The need of bringing something as a sacrifice, inseparable from the inwardly religious life, 2 Sam. 24:24.—How the history of the poor widow teaches us: 1. Carefulness in our judgment upon others; 2. strictness in our judgment upon ourselves; 3. watchfulness in respect to the approaching judgment of the Lord.
STARKE:—The eyes of the Lord are directed upon God’s chest; keepers of it, look well to what ye do!—CANSTEIN:—It is something comforting and refreshing to the poor, that they can give more than the rich.—CRAMER:—As God does not regard the person, so does He not regard the gifts and offerings, but the heart and the simplicity of faith.—Let no one despise true widows; there are heroines of faith among them, 1 Tim. 5:3.—HEUBNER:—All gifts should be a sacrifice.—What once was done too much, now is done too little.—Even small gifts are of importance for the general cause; the Lord can add His blessing thereto.—Religion raises the value of all gifts.—Liberality, honor and love to the temple, contempt of earthly things, trust in God, are the main traits in the portrait of the widow.—CARL BECK:—The measure of the Heavenly Judge for our good works: 1. A staff to support the lowly; 2. a staff to beat down the lofty.—W. HOFACKER:—Jesus’ look of pleasure and acknowledgment which rested upon the gift of the widow: 1. A look full of strengthening, comforting favor; 2. a look full of the earnestness of lofty and holy inquiry upon us all.—KNAPP:—The standard with which the Lord our Saviour determines the worth or unworthiness of our benevolent gifts and works.—KAPFF:—The practice of beneficent compassion.—N. BEETS:—The work of love and its Witness.
Luke 21:2.—Καί must not be expunged, nor with Lachmann bracketed, but with Tischendorf be placed after τινα, as a more particular description of the woman.
Luke 21:4.—Τοῦ Θεοῦ, suspicious, as an explicative addition, which is wanting in B., [Cod. Sin.,] L., X., Cursives, Coptic version, &c.
And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,2. The Secrets of the Future (Luke 21:5–36)
First Part (Luke 21:5–24)
(Parallel to Matt. 24:1–21; Mark 13:1–19.)
5And as some spake of the temple, how [or, that] it was adorned with goodly stones 6and gifts [offerings, ἀνθέμασιν], 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 [καταλυθήσεται]. 7And they asked him, saying, Master [Teacher], but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall [are about to] come to pass? 8And 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 nottherefore [om., therefore3] after them. 9But 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 [but not immediately is the end].—10Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 11And great earthquakes shall [there] be in divers places, and [put “and” after “be”4] famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. 12But 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. 13And it shall turn 14[result] to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay [oppose5] nor resist. 16And ye shall be betrayed [delivered up] both [or, even] by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death [shall they put to death, θανατώσουσιν.] 17, 18And ye shall be hated of [by] all men for my name’s sake. But [Καί] there shall not a hair of [ἐκ] your head perish. 19In your patience possess ye your souls [By your endurance shall ye gain your souls (or, lives, ψυχά6)]. 20And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it [i. e., Jerusalem] depart out; and let not them that are in the countries [country parts] enter thereinto. 22For these be [are] the [om., the] days of 23vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But [om., 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 [or, upon the earth], and wrath upon this people. 24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all [the] nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles [shall be a city trodden down by Gentiles], until the times [καιροί] of the Gentiles be [are] fulfilled.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The eschatological discourse with which our Saviour, according to all the Synoptics, closes His public work as Teacher, has been at all times and justly reckoned among the greatest of the cruces interpretum. It is easier to propose a greater or less number of objections against any explanation of it than ourselves to give an interpretation thereof which should leave no difficulties remaining. The principal literature on this question we find given in LANGE on Matthew and Mark, to which may yet be added an unquestionably interesting dissertation by E. SCHERER, upon Jesus’ prophecies of the end, in the Beiträge zu den theologischen Wissenschaften von Reuss und Cunitz, ii. pp. 63–83, Jena, 1851. Comp. the critical Comm. on the Eschatological Discourse, Matt. 24:25, by J. C. MEYER, Franf. a. d. O. 1857, and an exegetical exposition by H. CREMER, Ueber die Eschatol. Rede J. Chr., Matt. 24:25, Stuttg. 1860. So much we may well assume, as indeed almost all are now agreed, that as well the view of those who here understand exclusively (Michaelis, Bahrdt, Eckermann, Henke, and others), as also the opinion of those who here will allow no reference to Jerusalem’s destruction (BAUR, Kan. Ev., p. 605), is entirely untenable. It is therefore established that here the discourse is of the destruction of Jerusalem, and at the same time of the end of the world, and it can only be the question in what connection these two events stand to one another in the prophetic portraiture of our text. For the solution of this enigma it is, above all, necessary that we well understand the question which the disciples addressed to the Master, and which in its original form Matthew has most faithfully communicated to us. They ask when these things (ταῦτα) shall be, and can on psychological grounds be thinking of nothing else than of the destruction of the city and the temple, the prophecy of which had just before shaken them to their inmost soul. They inquire besides after the sign of the coming of the Lord and the end of the world. By no means have they here two different events, but only two sides of one and the same event in their mind. Yet mindful of the declaration, Matt. 23:37–39, they coördinate the fall of the temple, His παρουσία, and the conclusion of the present world-period (αἰών). They had, that is, as genuine Jews, hitherto ever conceived that the temple would stand eternally, and Jerusalem be the centre whither all the nations should stream together, in order to enjoy with the Jews the blessings of the Messianic reign (the assertion of EBRARD, Ev. Krit., p. 611, that the Jews had expected even in the Messianic time a severe conflict and with it the destruction of the temple, is at least unproved; better has De Wette, on Matt. 24:3, elucidated the subject); but now they have in the days and hours immediately preceding heard something by which this conception of theirs has been disturbed. They had believed that the Christ would remain eternally here below, and that the temple would outlast time; but now they hear that the Christ shall die, and the temple become a heap of ruins. How could they, as born Israelites, after this last fact, imagine any further continuance of the earthly economy? And yet they still expect as ever a glorious παρουσία of the Messiah, which in everything shall be the opposite of His present humble manifestation. Naturally they conceived this as occurring not after, but contemporaneously with, the fall of the temple, and desire therefore to know by what previous tokens they might recognize the approach of the decisive catastrophe, in which the great double event shall break in.
What now shall our Lord do in order to speak to them according to their receptivity and their need? Shall He say to them that the one fact shall be separated from the other by an interval of so many centuries? Then He would have had to give entirely up His own principle, John 16:12. With deep wisdom He places Himself, therefore, upon the position of the inquirers, and starts, it is true, from the destruction of Jerusalem, but in order at the same time to attach to this a delineation of the συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶος. However, we must from our point of view hold the different attempts to indicate a definite point in this discourse, when our Lord leaves the first object and afterwards speaks exclusively of the second, as rather doubtful. It has, for instance, been believed that we find such in Matt. 24:29, but Luke 21:34, impartially explained, gives us plainly to see that even after this He yet speaks of events which the generation then living should behold. If we, therefore, will not assume that our Lord Himself erred in so important a case, or that the Evangelists have not at all understood His eschatological discourse, or have inaccurately reported it—assumptions which, from a believing point of view, the Christian consciousness condemns in the strongest manner,—there then is nothing left for us but to assume that our Lord speaks indeed of the destruction of Jerusalem, but all this regarded as a type of the last judgment of the world. In other words, that He speaks prophetically of the earlier as a type of the later. Jerusalem’s destruction, but apprehended in its ideal significance, is and remains, therefore, the theme of the discourse, yet so that He from this point of view at the same time beholds and prophesies the destruction of the earthly economy in general that follows afterwards. Here also the peculiarity of prophetic vision is to be borne in mind, in which the conception of time recedes before that of space, and what is successive appears as coördinate. “Prophetia est ut pictura regionis cujusdam, quœ in proximo tecta et colles et pontes notat distincte, procul valles et montes latissime patentes in angustum cogit: sic enim debet etiam esse eorum, qui prophetiam legunt, prospectus in futurum, cui se prophetia accommodat.” Bengel. Both events flow in His representation so together, that the interval almost wholly recedes, and the tokens of His coming, which already begin to reveal themselves before the destruction of the City and of the Temple, are repeated in ever-increasing measure, the nearer the last judgment draws on. Therefore the interpreter must content himself if he is able to point out that all the here-threatened tribulations have already had a beginning of fulfilment in the period which immediately preceded the destruction of Jerusalem,—a beginning which then again bears the germ of subsequent fulfilments in itself, even as the fruit lies hidden in the bud.
On this interpretation, therefore, the eschatological discourse contains the exact answer to the question of the disciples, and it is from this sufficiently explained why in the apostolic epistles the expectation of a speedy return of our Lord arose, so that, for instance, Paul could entertain the thought of a possibility of himself even living to see it (1 Thess. 4:15; 2 Cor. 5:4, and elsewhere). They saw the signs foretokening the destruction of Jerusalem come nearer and nearer, and had not yet learned from the Lord that even after this event the present economy should endure, yea, for centuries. The attentive reader will, however, not overlook the intimations which are plainly given here and there in this discourse, that the coming of the Lord should, nevertheless, not take place so soon as many believed, and that with Jerusalem’s destruction the last word of the world’s history would not by any means be yet uttered (comp. Matt. 24:48; 25:5, 19; Luke 21:24). As concerns, finally, the relation of the different Synoptics to one another, in reference to the setting forth of this discourse of Jesus, we cannot agree with the expositors who think that the praise of greater originality or exactness belongs to Mark or Luke. Unquestionably, in this respect, Matthew deserves the preference, while we, on the other hand, meet, especially in Luke, with a freer, more fragmentary redaction of the whole discourse. Many utterances of special importance are preserved more complete by Matthew and Mark; on the other hand, we meet in Luke with particular singularia, which in and of themselves deserve the highest attention, and assist the view over the great whole of this discourse in many relations. For the locality of the discourse, Matthew and Mark must be compared. An admirable picture by Begas seizes the moment when our Lord is sitting with His four friends at evening-time upon the Mount of Olives, and is disclosing to them the secrets of the future.
Luke 21:5. And as some spake of the temple.—Manifestly these words were not uttered after but during the leaving of the temple. It is as though the disciples, most deeply moved by the farewell to the temple (Matt 23:37–39), now seek to become the intercessors for the heavily-doomed sanctuary. They show Him the building (Matthew), which yet, far from being completed, appears to promise to the sanctuary a longer duration; the masses of stone (Mark), which may yet defy many centuries; the votive offerings with which (Luke) munificence and ostentation had adorned the house of the Lord. These ἀναθήματα had been for the greatest part offered by heathens; for instance, the holy vessels by the Emperor Augustus, other vessels again by the Egyptian Philadelphus, especially the magnificent golden vine which Herod the Great had presented, as Josephus relates, De Bell. Jud. vi. 5, 2, A. J. xv. 11, 8. If we now consider that according to the prophetic declarations, for instance, Ps. 72; Isaiah 60, the heathen also should bring their gifts and offerings to Zion, it is then doubly intelligible that the Apostles found in these very objects one ground the more for their hope of the continuance of the sanctuary.
Luke 21:6. As for these things which ye behold.—Nominative absolute, to indicate the subject, which now in our Saviour’s discourse is to be made sufficiently plain. By this very construction the antithesis becomes the stronger, which prevails between the light in which that which is seen there yet displays itself, and the fate that impended over it. “It is very remarkable that the Hellenic Gospel, which, according to the words of Christ, has especially kept in mind the relation between beauty of manifestation in its truth and beauty of manifestation in empty guise, has attached His prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the judgment of the world, immediately to an allusion to the beauty and rich splendor of the temple.”
There shall not be left one stone upon another.—Comp. Luke 19:43, 44. In order rightly to comprehend the full force of the antithesis, we must represent to ourselves the whole magnificence of the sanctuary, over which later Jewish scholars exclaimed with wonder, “He that has not seen the temple of Herod has never beheld anything glorious.” See the notes on the parallels in Matthew and Mark.
Luke 21:7. When … and what sign.—Their question is, therefore, a double one; they wish to know precisely the point of time, and to recognize the tokens of this approaching catastrophe. Our Lord answers only the last question, while He in reference to the first gives to them only general intimations (comp. Matt. 24:34–36). The signs which He gives are at the same time of such a nature that they, in fact, are only to be seen precursorily at the destruction of Jerusalem, but will appear decisively and in their full force only at the end of the world. It is here as with the boxes containing one within the other [Chinese boxes].
Luke 21:8. Take heed.—In Luke, as in Matthew and Mark, the warning against being seduced by false Messiahs stands first. It is not to be denied that before the destruction of Jerusalem, so far as we know, no deceivers appeared to play a strictly Messianic part; Bar Cochba, the first of these more than sixty deceivers, did not come up till afterwards. See EUSEBIUS, H. E., iv. 6. But, certainly, there already lay in the misleading influence of a Jonathan, Theudas, Dositheus, Simon, Menander, and others, the germs of the same delusion which afterwards appeared more decidedly in the form of a false Messiahship. Bear in mind how the Goëtæ, by promises of miracles, allured many thousands into the wilderness, and thereby into destruction. Comp. Acts 5:36, 37; 21:38; Homily 76 of Chrysostom on Matthew. Thus did the general signs of the world’s end begin really to go into fulfilment with the destruction of Jerusalem.
Luke 21:10. Then said He unto them.—According to the representation of Luke the warning against misleaders was only something preliminary, an introduction, as it were, after which our Lord goes on to handle the question proposed, particularly and regularly.
Nation shall rise against nation.—The insurrections, earthquakes, famines, and other plagues, which are here adduced, were before the destruction of Jerusalem by no means so insignificant as, for instance, De Wette asserts. Bear in mind the massacres at Cæsarea, between Syrians and Jews, in which 20,000 of the latter fell, while in Syria almost every city was divided into two armies, which stood opposed to one another as deadly enemies; the quick succession of the five emperors in Rome within a few years, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, and the tumults connected therewith in wider and narrower circles; the famine under Claudius, Acts 11:30; the earthquakes at the time of Nero in Campania and Asia, in which whole cities perished; the singular and terrifying signs in Judæa of which Josephus and Tacitus speak, and we have historical cases enough for the explanation of this mysterious declaration of our Lord. Yet, above all, we should lay the emphasis on His declaration in Matthew and Mark, that all these things are only ἀρχαὶ ὠδίνων, so that we have by no means to understand exclusively the wars, &c., which were to take place in the interval of forty years; but all the calamities of this Kind which in continually increasing measure should precede the end of the world, of which the destruction of Jerusalem was only the type. In another form the same thought is still more intimated than expressed in that which immediately follows, Luke 21:12.
Luke 21:12. But before all these.—The assertion of Meyer, ad loc., that this statement of time is, perhaps, a later modification of the tradition, ex eventu, rests upon the dogmatic preconception that our Lord could not have predicted to His disciples that their personal persecution should precede these last calamities. But the farther the last words of Luke 21:11 extend beyond the great catastrophe of Jerusalem’s destruction, so much the more natural is it also that our Lord points His disciples to that which awaits them even before.—Shall lay their hands on you, ἐπιβάλλειν.—Of course, with a hostile intent. A noticeable climax is found in the here-indicated persecutions. The lightest form is in a certain sense the delivery over to the synagogues, namely, in order to be there scourged, comp. Matt. 10:17. A severe conflict impends over them when they are brought before kings and governors to give a testimony to the faith, comp. Matt. 10:18. The worst awaits them when they (Luke 21:16) shall be delivered up by their parents, relatives, and friends. However, they have in the midst of this distress a threefold consolation: 1. All this is done for the sake of the Lord’s name (έ̓νεκα), comp. Acts 5:41; 2. it shall turn to them for a testimony; ἀποβήσεται, here, as in Phil. 1:19, the intimation of a salutary result; the persecutions mentioned shall serve as opportunity to the apostles to give a witness concerning their Lord, which here, as in Acts 18:11, is represented as something great and glorious. Finally, they shall in such moments be least wanting in the sense of the nearness of their Lord.
Luke 21:14. Settle it therefore in your hearts.—See on Luke 12:11; Matt. 10:19, 20. A promise of so high significance might be fittingly repeated. What they, according to our Lord’s will, are to settle in their hearts is, as it were, an antidote to the care which should afterwards fill their hearts. “Id unum laborate, ne laboretis.” Bengel. The ground of the encouragement is the ἐγὼ δώσω of our Lord, that involuntarily reminds us of the Divine word which Moses received at his calling at the burning bush, Ex. 4:12.—Mouth and wisdom.—Mouth, concrete expression for the words themselves which they were to utter; wisdom, the gift of delivering these words befittingly, according to time, place, and the like. Thus is everything needful promised them as well for the material as for the formal part of their defence, so that continued opposition should become extremely hard for their antagonists. It is, of course, understood that here it is not an absolute but a relative impossibility that is spoken of, and that, therefore, not only Acts 6:10, but also 7:51; 13:8–10, and other passages, must be compared.
Luke 21:16. And ye shall he delivered up.—The notices of the Acts and of the Epistles are too brief to admit of the mention of special examples of the fulfilment of this prophecy. This declaration, moreover, is not addressed to the Apostles as such, but so far as they were the representatives of the first believers generally.—Some of you shall they put to death.—More definitely expressed than the general ἀποκτενοῦσιν ὑμᾶς in Matthew. Among the four auditors of our Lord was found James, who was to be the first martyr [among the Apostles.—C. C. S.], and Peter, upon whom the subsequent prophecy (John 21:18, 19) was fulfilled. But these were to be only the first fruits of an incalculable harvest of martyrs, who in the course of the centuries should fall for the cause of the Saviour, and the Apocalypse gives us only a vague foreboding of what outbreaks of iniquity, even in this respect, are hidden in the bosom of the mysterious future.
Luke 21:17. Hated by all men.—In the apostolic epistles, e. g., Rom. 8:35–37; 1 Cor. 4:9, 10; 2 Cor. 11:23–29; Heb. 10:32–34, we find a rich array of proofs for the exact fulfilment of this word, even in the first period of the church. Bear in mind also the dangers which the flight of the first Christians to the Trans-Jordanic Pella gave occasion to, and, above all, do not overlook how this hatred also in its different phases becomes more and more intense the more rapidly the history and development of God’s kingdom hastens to its end.
Luke 21:18. But there shall not a hair.—Comp. Luke 12:7; Matt. 10:30. Of course no assurance that they should in no case be slain, but only that they should be inviolable upon earth so long as they were necessary for the service of the Lord, as also that even their death should redound εἰς σωτηρίαν and to the glory of Christ; Phil. 1:19. And with this promise of absolute security in a negative respect, they are at the same time also assured of their absolute security on the positive side: By your endurance, &c.
Luke 21:19. Gain your souls. Κτήσεσθε.—Although the κτήσασθε of the Recepta is strongly supported by external authority, yet the internal arguments in favor of the reading of A., B. [not Cod. Sin.] are in our eyes of prevailing weight. “The Recepta is an interpretamentum of the future understood imperatively.” Meyer. We have here, therefore, the obverse of the promise, Luke 21:18; so far from a hair of their head being hurt (comp. Acts 27:34), they should on the other hand, by their perseverance in the midst of all these persecutions, preserve their souls, their life. By ὑπομονή we are not to understand patience, but, as in Romans 5:4; James 1:3, 4, endurance; and to explain κτᾶσθαι not (De Wette) in the sense of εὑρίσκειν, Matt. 16:25; but rather in that of “maintain, preserve.” (1 Thess. 4:4.) It is moreover of course understood, that we are by the preservation of the soul not to understand the natural life in itself, but the true life, whose loss or maintenance is for the disciple of the Saviour the greatest question of life. [It is difficult to indicate in English the double meaning of ψυχή, which denotes both soul and life.—C. C. S.] By endurance they were to preserve this true life, even if they for it should lose the life of the body. We find here therefore, in other words, the same promise which is given Matt. 24:13; Rev. 2:10, and elsewhere, while, on the other hand, the admonition which, according to the common explanation, is found in this verse: Maintain the soul in patience (comp. Heb. 10:36), rests upon an incorrect reading, and without doubt would have had to be otherwise expressed.
Luke 21:20. And when ye shall see Jerusalem.—Comp. LANGE on Matt. 24:15. The mention of the armies stands in Luke in the place of the abomination of desolation mentioned by Matthew and Mark, and the prophecy of Daniel, which is very especially important for the Jewish Christians of Matthew, Luke leaves out in his representation. The very uncertainty of so many expositors in reference to the proper signification of the βδέλυγμμ τῆς ἐρημώσεως, is a proof the more how much has been done for the desecration of the holy ground, so that we scarcely know any longer what we have principally to understand. According to the redaction of Luke, even the appearance of the hostile hosts before Jerusalem is an ominous sign, and the disciples are to know that even with the most valiant defence, there is no deliverance any longer to be hoped for.
Luke 21:21. Then let them which are in Judæa.—Commendation of a hasty flight as the only means of deliverance. In Judæa one finds himself in the heart of the population, and therefore he must seek to reach the lonesome mountains; at any cost he must leave the city, and if he is happy enough to get out of it at the right time he shall under no pretext return.—Ἐν ταῖς χῶραις, not in regionibus (Bretschneider, De Wette), but in agris, where the principal Jews often inhabited country houses. For more particular directions as to their flight, see Matthew.
Luke 21:22. Days of vengeance.—That is, not days in which the one people takes vengeance on the disobedience and refractoriness of the other people, but in which God the Lord accomplishes His judgments upon His enemies. Here the declaration of Moses (Ps. 90:11), finds its application.—May be fulfilled.—According to the express declaration of our Lord, therefore, the fall of the city and the temple also is already prophesied in the Old Testament. We may call to mind Deut. 28, which in a certain sense may be named the ground-theme which was afterwards further carried out in the prophetical Scriptures. Daniel also may be included, yet he is by no means especially and exclusively meant. Instead of a citation of the prophetic word, we find in Luke only a general statement, which however evidently shows that this whole prophesying of our Lord is nothing else than the prolongation and continuance of the line which had been drawn centuries before. It is moreover noticeable how recognizably the stamp of Divine retribution was impressed upon the fate of Jerusalem and the temple, even for heathen eyes. We may call to mind the expression even of a Titus: “That God was so angry with this people that even he feared His wrath if he should suffer grace to be shown to the Jews,” and how he refused every mark of honor on account of the victory obtained, with the attestation that he had been only an instrument in God’s hands to punish this stiff-necked nation. Comp. the well-known expressions of Josephus, as to the height which the wickedness of his contemporaries had reached.
Luke 21:23. Woe unto them that are with child.—An οὐαί not of imprecation, but of bitter lament, in which the compassion and sympathy of the Saviour expresses itself. [Equivalent to: Alas, for them!—C. C. S.] Comp. Luke 23:29. Such women would be less fitted for rapid flight, without, however, on account of their condition finding compassion. The ground of this fact is a double one: great distress upon earth (entirely general), and especially great wrath upon this people. Thus nowhere does a refuge present itself, neither in nor out of Judæa. Comp. Is. 26:20; Rev. 6:16, 17.
Luke 21:24. And they shall fall.—A more particular setting forth of the fate of the Jews, which the result confirmed most terrifically. According to Josephus, the number of the slain amounted to 1,100,000; 97,000 were dragged as prisoners mostly to Egypt and the provinces. Comp. Deut. 28:64.—Ἔσται πατουμένη, Jerusalem shall be a city trodden down by the heathen; not alone an intimation of her desecration by a heathen garrison (De Wette), but a designation of all the scornful outrages to which the capital should be given over. Comp. Lam. 4. Nor is there any more reason here by the entirely general mention of έ̓θνη to understand the Romans exclusively. On the other hand, we may here find the announcement of the interval of centuries in which the most different nations, in almost uninterrupted succession, have trodden down Jerusalem:—Titus, Hadrian, Chosroes, the Mussulmen, the Crusaders, and the later dominion of Islam,—an interval that yet endures, and whose end shall be appointed only when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled.
The times of the Gentiles, καιροὶ ἐθνῶν.—Not the times of the calling of the Gentiles (Stier), by which an entirely foreign thought would be interpolated; but the times which are predestined to the Gentiles for the fulfilment of these Divine judgments. That by καιροί a long interval is intimated (Dorner), appears, it is true, not from this plural in itself, but from the whole connection, according to which these καιροί shall endure even to the final term, and (comp. Matt. 24:29) shall finally be cut short by the last act of the drama of the history of the world. Remarkable is this expression in the first place, because an evident intimation lies hidden therein, that, after the fall of Jerusalem, there is yet a period of indefinite duration to be awaited; and secondly, because a thought of the restoration of Jerusalem gleams through, which is elsewhere expressed even more plainly.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Without ground have some taken offence at the manner in which our Lord here speaks of His Parusia, and wished to discover therein an irreconcilable antagonism between the Synoptics and the fourth Gospel. John also knows an ἐσχάτη ἡμέρα and a personal παρουσία of the Lord, although this in His spiritual Gospel comes forward with less prominence into the foreground; on the other hand, the Synoptical representation has nothing that would favor a grossly sensuous conception in reference to the secrets of the future. We should have good right to wonder at the eschatological conceptions which are found, for instance, in Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, if they had not the least Christian historical foundation in just such sayings of our Lord as we meet with in this discourse. The narrative of the Synoptics must in the nature of the case be offensive to all those who from dogmatical grounds find it incredible that the Lord should so long beforehand have with entire exactness foreseen and foretold the destruction of Jerusalem; but never will a purely historical criticism allow itself to be guided or intimidated by such a purely arbitrary conclusion a non posse ad non esse. And whoever attentively compares the prophecy with the result, will soon discover that it is entirely impossible to think here of a vaticinium post eventum. A so intimate amalgamation of two so heterogeneous events as the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, was in the nature of the case only possible before, but no longer after the former event had taken place; besides that it would have been psychologically impossible for the inventor who, after the fall of Jerusalem, had composed this discourse and put it in the mouth of our Lord, to give so simple, so general, so brief and incomplete, a portrayal of the destruction of Jerusalem, since certainly the result offered him abundant material, and therewith an irresistible temptation, to embellish his picture with richer colors, and to make his prophecy more exciting. Had the Synoptics not written until after the destruction of Jerusalem, it would have been easier for them, like John, to be entirely silent about the event, than to place it in such a light that the very event seemingly convicted the prophecy of falsehood.
2. It is by no means arbitrary that our Lord joins the destruction of the temple and the end of the world so intimately together. For on the one hand it is historically proved that the fall of the Jewish state was the indispensably necessary condition to free the youthful Christendom from the limits of a confined nationality, to elevate it into the religion of the world, and therefore mightily to prepare the revelation of the glory of the Lord, and the triumph of His kingdom over the heathen world. On the other hand, Jerusalem and the temple, even in the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament, bear a typical and symbolical character. Zion stands there not alone as the local seat, but also as the visible image of the whole theocracy in its settled strength and beauty, and the whole Christianized world may in a certain sense be called a new spiritual Jerusalem Is it, therefore, a wonder if the judgment upon Jerusalem serves at the same time as a mirror for the last judgment of the world? The destruction of the city and the temple was the first of those great world-events which forwarded the brilliant, triumphant, continually more powerful coming of the Lord. Herewith the series of events is opened which in the course of centuries was destined to coöperate powerfully for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. Ever more glorious does Christ appear on the ruins of annihilated temples and thrones; in continually greater measure do the here-indicated tokens of His coming appear; misleadings, persecutions, insurrections, &c. Finally, the kingdom of light celebrates its highest triumph, after the might of darkness has immediately before concentrated its highest energy, and the destruction of the whole earthly economy is only the continuance and completion of the fall of the original seat of the Israelitish Theocracy. Whoever shall hereafter at the end of the world look back as the Lord here looked forward, he will discover that the long course of time between the destruction of the Temple and the destruction of the World, was nothing else than a great interval of continually richer manifestations of grace, and of continually severer judgments.
3. “Die Weltgeschichte, das Weltgericht.” “The history of the world is the world’s judgment.” Schiller. The eschatological discourse of our Lord is especially adapted to bring into view as well the relative truth as also the superficial one-sidedness of this famous word of the poet. That facts like the fall of Jerusalem are Divine judgments, and that, therefore, the history of the world may be called the striking revelation of an inexorable Nemesis, our Lord said centuries ago. But that all these Divine judgments are only preliminary, only typical, only prophecies of that which hereafter shall take place before the eyes of heaven and earth at the expiration of the earthly economy, must be just as little forgotten. The Johannean idea of κρίσις finds its complement precisely in the Synoptical delineation of the ἐσχάτη ἡμέρα, and it remains therefore true, that the poet’s utterance of the world-judgment of history must be complemented in this manner: that it is not yet for that the final judgment.
4. The fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jews stands forth here not only as a destiny tragical beyond compare, but as a Divine judgment, whose ultimate cause can be obscure to no believing Christian, The present condition of Israel is the grand argument for the authority of the Prophet who, proclaimed all this eighteen centuries ago and whom they therefore unthankfully rejected. For that very reason we clearly see the decided unchristianness of such an emancipation of the Jews as is wont to be urged in our days, under the motto of freedom and culture. The right of hospitality for the banished ones of Judah cannot be ardently enough enjoined, nor too large-heartedly practiced; but it becomes an actual injustice when Christians suffer themselves to be by these very Jews, only temporarily abiding among them, in any way hindered in the enjoyment of their Christian privileges and in the practice of their Christian duties. But this modern denial of Christ, therefore, avenges itself not less than the Jewish rejection of the Messiah; when Christians bring the Jews their Christ as a sacrifice, the Jews begin with material and moral power to control the Christian state, and liberalism, which is especially upheld, moreover, by Jewish Deistic influence, prepares the way for indifferentism, which finally—of course always under the excellent motto of enlightenment and right—leads to Atheism. Here also holds good our Saviour’s word: βλέπετε, μλανθῆτε.
[Without pretending to concur unqualifiedly in all these remarks of our author, which in part rest upon Millenarian views that I do not share, it appears to me that there is great force, nevertheless, in his words: “When Christians bring the Jews their Christ as a sacrifice, the Jews begin with material and moral power to control the Christian state.” Take, as an instance, the assumption of the Jews—an insignificant fraction of our population—to dictate the forms of the fast and thanksgiving proclamations issued by our civil authorities, and to insist on every distinctively Christian feature—except the date—being expunged from them. How long will the Christians of our country tolerate this studious omission of the name of Christ in documents inviting the people to a worship which, for nine-tenths of them, can only be a Christian worship?—C. C. S.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Appearances deceive.—The temple in the days of Jesus, a beautiful form without life.—Earthly pomp: 1. In its outward brilliancy; 2. in its inward perishableness.—With the disciple of the Lord the sensuous perception must become a viewing with the spiritual eye.—The Apocalyptical tendency in the Christian life of faith not condemned or opposed by our Lord, but satisfied and sanctified.—The peculiar dangers to which the disciple of the Lord is exposed by the view into the future.—The false Christs who precede the coming of the true: 1. The judgment that precedes them; 2. the brilliancy that accompanies them; 3. the shame that follows them.—Diabolus simia Dei.—How the disciple of the Lord: 1. Must tremble when every one goes carelessly along; 2. must not be terrified when every one is seized with horror.—The end is not yet: 1. A word of righteous joy; 2. a word of holy earnestness.—New periods of development in the kingdom of Christ joined with mighty convulsions in the kingdom of nature: 1. So was it ever; 2. so is it yet; 3. so will it hereafter be in the highest measure.—The persecution of the disciples a sign of the coming of the Lord which: 1. Will be given first of all; 2. longest of all.—How the loss of the servants of the Lord becomes a gain to His cause and to the kingdom of God.—“Persecuted but not forsaken,” the fate of the disciple of Christ.—“I will give you a mouth and wisdom,”—how this word has been fulfilled: 1. In the apostles, 2. in the first apologists; 3. in the martyrs; 4. in the reformers; 5. in the heroes of faith and witnesses of every time, even the present.—The conflict between the ties of blood and the requirements of the Spirit.—The security of the Christian, even in the most threatening danger.—How endurance preserves the life of the soul.—No striving to preserve externa things helps when God has resolved to destroy.—The destruction of Jerusalem: 1. The fulfilment of the Old Testament prophesying; 2. the touchstone of the New Testament prophesying.—Jerusalem considered in its different periods: 1. The city of Melchisedek; 2. the capital of David; 3. the dwelling-place of God; 4. the murderess of the prophets and of the Messiah; 5. the city defiled by the abomination of desolation; 6. the city trodden down by the heathen; 7. hereafter the Salem of another Melchisedek.—Jerusalem’s past, present, and future.—The destruction of Jerusalem an event which proclaims: 1. The shame of Israel; 2. the greatness of our Lord; 3. the glory of the kingdom of God; 4. the vocation of the Christian; 5. the judgment of the future.
STARKE:—HEDINGER:—Great sin, great judgments.—Look not so much at the visible and perishable, as at the invisible and eternal.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—To put Christ’s name forward, to come in Christ’s name, to be called Christian, is not all. All this deceivers also can do.—Convulsions in church and state, but especially persecution of the truth, is an omen of destruction.—One ungodly man must ever punish another; how holy, righteous, and terrible are God’s judgments.—It is, in truth, something terrible that when the judgments of God break in, men do not become better, but much worse.—If the righteous man has a righteous cause he need fear nothing.—OSIANDER:—Although in persecutions many a confessor of Jesus has left his life behind, yet the Gospel cannot be blotted out.—CRAMER:—Let no one be surprised that he must suffer innocently.—BRENTIUS:—A patient spirit is better than a lofty spirit.—Woe to the land, the people, the city, from which God hath departed,—there is nothing more left than: haste to deliver thy soul, Gen. 19:22.—LUTHER:—Upon the days of grace follow the days of vengeance.—The married state also sometimes a state of woe.—Bibl. Wirt.:—So often as we behold the dispersed Jews, we should be terrified at God’s wrath, sigh over them and pray; Rom. 11:20.
HEUBNER:—God solemnly proclaimed the abrogation of the Mosaic institute when He destroyed the temple.—Let not the true Christ betaken from thee; there is only one.—God decrees gradually heavier and heavier trials; yet the time of suffering is defined by Him.—Perseverance and faith under all afflictions is the condition of the deliverance of the soul.—There is a holy vengeance of God, and Jerusalem’s fall is a manifest monument of His retributive righteousness.—ARNDT:—The future of Jerusalem and the world,—the inquiry as to the future: 1. When is it permitted us? 2. How is it answered by the Lord? 3. Whereto should the answer serve us?—VINET:—Etudes évangéliques, p. 265. Les pierres du temple.—SCHLEIERMACHER:—Sermon, Jan. 24, 1808, upon Matt. 24:1, 2. The right honoring of native greatness of an earlier time.—J. J. L. TEN KATE:—The Wandering Jew:—1. An unexampled wonder in the annals of the world; 2. a living testimony of the truth of Christianity; 3. a future revelation of the glory of God; 4. a legitimate creditor of every believer.
Luke 21:8.—The ουν of the Recepta should be expunged, as by Lachmann and Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford.]
Luke 21:11.—According to the arrangement of Tischendorf, [Tregelles, Alford]: σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι καὶ κατὰ τόπους λοιμοί, κ.τ.λ.
[Luke 21:15.—Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Van Oosterzee put ἀντιστῆναι before ἀντειπεῖν.—C. C. S.]
Luke 21:19.—With Griesbach, Rinck, Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford,] we give to the reading of A., B., &c., the preference. See Exegetical and Critical remarks. [Cod. Sin. here agrees with the Recepta.—C. C. S.]
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;Second Part (Luke 21:25–36)
(Parallel to Matt. 24:29–41; Mark 13:24–37.)
25And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars [in sun and moon and stars]; and upon the earth distress [anxiety] of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring [nations in perplexity concerning a roaring of sea and waves7]; 26Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven [the heavens] shall be shaken. 27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory28[great power and glory]. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. 29And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30When they now shoot forth [have put forth], ye see and know [seeing it ye know] of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31So likewise ye, when ye see these things come [coming] to pass, knowye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32Verily I say unto you, This generationshall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33Heaven and earth shall pass away; but mywords shall not pass away. 34And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting [or, revelling], and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36Watch ye therefore,8 and pray always [ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ], that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass [are coming], and to stand before the Son of man.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 21:25. And there shall be signs.—The Saviour does not now turn back again to the point of time of the destruction of Jerusalem, but He states what shall take place after the καιροὶ ἐθνῶν shall have been fulfilled. The consecutiveness of this delineation is plainly enough indicated by the καί of Luke, and it is purely arbitrary to assert (De Wette) that the Evangelist avoids the εὐθέως of Matthew because he wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem. The variation is simply connected with the freer form of the redaction of this discourse of our Lord in Luke, to which it is at the same time to be ascribed that he, since he writes for the Gentile Christians, does not speak of the flight on the Sabbath, of the shortening of these days, and of the false Jewish prophets, while he also does not so particularly specialize further σημεῖα, as is done by Matthew and Mark. As respects, moreover, the signs themselves, there is as little reason (Starke) to understand by the sun Antichrist, by the moon and the stars antichristian teachers, as (Besser and others) without any proof to understand the stars metaphorically of mighty princes, and the roaring sea of the tumult of nations. Other views we find given by Lange on the parallel in Matthew. Why do we not rather simply believe our Lord at His word, that His παρουσία will be accompanied with cosmic revolutions, whose actual course can be as little calculated as their possibility can be denied a priori? It was known even from the Old Testament that fearful signs in the realm of nature would herald the day of the Lord, see, e. g., Jer. 4:23; Joel 2:30, &c. Commonly such delineations are ascribed to the poetry of prophecy, and certainly it would betray little taste and little intimacy with the style of the Holy Scriptures if one upon such dicta would build a definite theory as to the future destiny of the heavenly bodies. But, on the other hand, we learn even by the extension which natural science has gained in our days to recognize the limitation of human science even, in this sphere, and the genuine cosmologian and theologian will be modest enough not here too rashly to take the word “impossible” upon his lips. We are wanting in any fixed hermeneutic rule to determine proprio marte what is here to be understood literally and what tropically; only the event will determine where in this case lie the boundaries between imagination and reality.
On the earth anxiety of nations.—This allusion to the profound anxiety which shall fill the human world, is peculiar to Luke. The same thought is further developed, Rev. 6:12–15, and has in itself psychological probability, without here supposing believers to be entirely excluded. As in the animal world important alterations in the atmosphere are instinctively perceived, as often an inexplicable presentiment of a terrible calamity, whose breaking in is feared, makes even the most courageous pale with terror; so does our Lord give us to expect that an obscure presentiment of great events shortly before His Parusia will weigh like heavy Alps on many a heart. Luke speaks of ἀπορία ή̓χους (see notes on the text) as an indication of that to which the anxiety and perplexity of the nations has relation. The roaring of the sea and waves, that is, reminds even those who do not live in expectation of the coming of the Son of Man, of terrible things, nevertheless, which are about to come upon the earth, while their evil conscience testifies to them that they have the worst to expect therefrom. The allegorical expositors of Scripture here only understand again the sea of nations, apparently because they find it a little apocryphal that the ocean, at the approach of the mortal hour of this visible creation, should roar somewhat more heavily than wont. We, for our part, find the physical signs in the sea not more improbable than those in the moon and the stars
Luke 21:26. Men’s hearts failing them for fear, ἀποψύχειν, that is, not only grow rigid (De Wette) or fall into swooning, but, as Hesychius interprets = ἀποπνευματίζεσθαι. What even now not unfrequently happens by a very high degree of heat, anxiety, or sorrow, that the tension of the moment has the loss of life as a consequence, will then especially no longer be classed among the rare casualties; no wonder, since even the powers of heaven shall be shaken, “perhaps the sustaining and working forces of the heavenly system, with their influences for the earth, so that the Lord finally comprehending all together, means to say, ‘Everything together shall give way and finally fall to pieces, 2 Peter 3:10–12. ” Stier. According to De Wette, this phrase from Matthew, forsooth, limps behind, but an exegesis which does not feel that just by this terrible word the sufficient explanation of the just-portrayed anxiety is given, appears itself not to stand upon a wholly good footing.
Luke 21:27. And then.—Here also, as in Matthew and Mark, the personal coming of the Messiah at the very time when the whole visible creation threatens to sink into a chaos. According to Matthew, there is finally seen first the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, afterwards Himself. According to Mark and Luke, on the other hand, the appearance of the Messiah upon the clouds—Mark in the plural, Luke in the singular—is immediately beheld, while these two are silent as to the σημεῖον. For the principal views as to the latter, see LANGE on Matt. 24:30. It may be very well supposed that the cloud of light itself which bears Him and the glory which surrounds Him might be this σημεῖον. Compare the assurance of the angels at the Ascension, which Luke alone has preserved to us, Acts 1:11, that the Lord shall come again even so (οὑ̔τως) as (ὅν τρόπον, i. e., ἐν νεφέλη, Luke 21:9) they had seen Him go towards heaven. The mention of the appearance and activity of the angels at the last day, we find only in Matthew and Mark ad loc. [and in almost all the passages in the first three Gospels in which our Lord refers to the day of judgment.—C. C. S.] On the other hand, Luke lays emphasis on the practical side of the matter, the expectation and joy with which the disciples of our Lord, who are conceived as then still living upon the earth, shall behold the approach of these things. This again is genuinely Pauline, comp. Rom. 8:19–23.
Luke 21:28. And when these things begin to come to pass.—There is not the least reason for understanding by τούτων exclusively what is last named, the coming of the Son of Man in His δόξα. This manifestation is in a certain sense the work of a moment, and when this shall have come to pass, then is the redemption of His own not only near (ἐγίζει), but really present. Rather are we to understand thereby all previous tokens, which are named Luke 21:25, 26, and which must necessarily endure for some time (therefore also ἀρχομένων). These same events which the world shall gaze on with helpless terror, must be for believers an awakening voice to joyful hope and expectation, since these very ὠδῖνες prove that the birth-hour of their salvation comes with every moment nearer and nearer. The heads which hitherto had often been bowed under all manner of misery and persecution, must then be lifted up, comp. Rom. 8:19; James 5:8.
Luke 21:29. And He spake to them a parable.—Here also, as in Luke 21:10, Luke appears as narrator, while with Matthew and Mark the tone of discourse continues undisturbed. The latter is internally more probable. The former is a new proof of the greater freedom of Luke’s redaction. Moreover, the mention of all the trees, with and beside the fig-tree, is peculiar to him. Perhaps our Lord speaks here especially of a fig-tree, because this had served Him so frequently as a type of the Israelitish people, Mark 11:12–14; Luke 13:6–9. But that He here also speaks of that symbolical fig-tree, in other words, that He designates the reviving Israel as a prophet of His near approach (Stier), appears to us quite as unproved as that the Lord means to allude to the amarum and venenatum quiddam in the sap of the fig-leaves, and adduces the incrementa malignitatis, as presages of His coming (Ebrard). In both cases the mention at least of all the trees would be quite incongruous, and we therefore consider it as better to assume that He spoke so especially of the fig-tree because He wished to designate it as a special kind of tree, in distinction from the others.
Luke 21:30. When they now put forth.—Designedly Luke expresses himself here somewhat less definitely than Matthew and Mark, because he does not intend to bring into prominence the specific peculiarity of the fig-tree, whose leaves develop themselves at the same time with the setting of the fruit, but only has in mind that which is common to all trees. With the various kinds of trees the putting forth of leaves is the token of approaching summer; whoever sees the one knows then of himself that the other is at hand.—Ἀφ̓ ἑαντῶν, “etiamsi nemo vos doceat.” Bengel.—The kingdom of God.—Here, of course, agreeably to the whole text, definitely apprehended as regnum gloriœ.
Luke 21:32. This generation shall not pass away.—For a statement of the different views with reference to the signification of ἡ γενεὰ αύ̓τη, see LANGE, ad loc. The explanation that our Lord had in mind the generation then living is certainly the least artificial, while every other gives immediate occasion to the conjecture that it has arisen from the perplexity as to how to bring the prophecy into agreement with the fulfilment. It may be asked, however, whether the words έ̓ως ά̓ν πάντα γένηται cannot be understood in such a sense that they make the explanation of γενεά as designation of that generation at all events possible. By πάντα we have no longer to understand the destruction of Jerusalem in itself, which now already lies behind our Lord’s view, nor yet His παρουσία itself, for in the following verse there is again mention of a passing away of heaven and earth, but we have to understand the presages of His coming which He had just indicated symbolically, as, for instance, in the image of the putting forth of the leaves of the trees. These presages now occupy necessarily a certain period of time (ἀρχομένων, Luke 21:28, and γίνεσθαι, used of things of this sort, is an elastic idea, by which not only that which is momentary, but also that which is successive, is expressed). So must, therefore, the explanation be permitted, “until all things shall have begun to come to pass,” all things, that is, which are to serve as the previous signs of His coming; and this was really the case during the life of the contemporaries of our Lord, who in the destruction of Jerusalem saw the type of the approaching end of the world. He will therefore say: This generation shall not pass away without the beginning of the end of the world here foretold you having come to pass in the actual destruction of Jerusalem. Our Lord by no means says that everything which was to take place before the τέλος will be omnibus numeris absolutum atque ad finem perductum before a generation of men will have passed. The question cannot be merely what γίνεσθαι signifies in itself, but what it is to signify in this connection. An explanation of this verse, it is true, in which no difficulty at all remains, and every appearance of arbitrariness is avoided, we, alas, even at this day, are not acquainted with.
Luke 21:33. Heaven and earth shall pass away.—After the discourse has risen to this height, there would ensue a dreary anti-climax, if we would recognize in these words only a figurative designation of the destruction of the Jewish state. Our Lord points evidently to the destruction of the earthly economy, which shall be followed by the appearance of a new heaven and a new earth, 2 Peter 3:8–14, and gives assurance therewith that even then, when an entirely new order of things shall have come in, His words, in particular the promises of His coming, then first fully understood and fulfilled, would not cease to remain words of life for all His own. “They will approve themselves as eternal in an eternal church, and that one of eschatological character.” Lange.
Luke 21:34. And take heed to yourselves.—The eschatological discourse in Matthew and Mark is concluded with a description of the unexpected coming of the Parusia, and a parabolic allusion to watchfulness, which we have already met with in Luke in a somewhat different form, chs. 12 and 17 Instead of this he has another conclusion, which, indeed, entitles us to inquire whether the Evangelist, in a freer form, has condensed the main substance of the admonitions given Matt. 24:43–51, or whether our Lord on this occasion used these very words. However this may be, his rendering has so much the more value, as it in some measure takes the place of the missing parable of the Ten Virgins, which, according to Matthew, was delivered this same evening by our Lord, but has been passed over by Luke. With deep wisdom our Lord ends His eschatological discourse by leading His disciples back into their own hearts, since their view had involuntarily lost itself in the far future, and in thinking upon the universal historical character of the events here foretold, they might very easily lose out of mind in how strict a connection this Parusia stood with their personal salvation. With a faithful and earnest προσέχετε, He begins to use the expectation of His coming for their sanctification, as He had just before, Luke 21:28, applied it to their consolation. He warns them that their hearts be not burdened as by a spirit of deep sleep. This might come to pass through three things: κραιπάλῃ, heaviness and dizziness, such as drunkenness of yesterday gives, μέθῃ, drunkenness, which makes them for to-day unfit to reflect maturely upon their highest interests, and μερίμναις βιωτικαῖς, which would plague them for to-morrow, and impel them too strongly to labor for the meat that perisheth. The one, as well as the other, would be able to rob them of the clearness and sobriety of mind with which they should await the coming of their Lord. Not only should that which is entirely unlawful be avoided, but also that which is relatively lawful used with wisdom, in the consciousness that they in no case could reckon upon it for a long time; for the great day was to be, even for them, the servants of the Lord, an unexpected one, αῖφνίδιος ἐπιστῇ, comp. 1 Thess. 5:3, while it would come upon other inhabitants of the earth, especially those who were living on in careless quiet, without fellowship with Christ, as a snare. The tertium comparationis lies as well in the unexpectedness as in the ruinousness of such snares as are commonly used for ravening beasts. Ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς καθημένους, here emphatic for a designation of quiet and comfortable sitting, comp. Amos 6:1–6, in which they, therefore, are taken at once, as soon as only the snare is thrown out upon them. See also Jer. 25:29; Rev. 18:7, 8.
Luke 21:36. Watch ye … always.—Comp. Mark 13:37: ἐν παντὶ καιρθ͂ may be referred quite as well to ἀγρυπνεῖτε as to δεόμενοι. The former is probable, on account of the antithesis, and the uncertainty of the Parusia in Luke 21:35, which requires an unremitting watch. Watching and praying are here also, as in Matt. 26:41; 1 Peter 4:7, 8, joined together. Δεόμενοι,ἵνα,κ.τ.λ. indicates the frame of mind in which they must be found watching and waiting; καταξιωθῆτε, comp. Luke 20:35; 2 Thess. 1:5, not “become worthy,” sensu morali, but to be accounted worthy, sensu forensi, digni habiti atque declarati, sc. a Deo. The word appears in the same sense Acts 5:41.
To escape all these things, πάντα ταῦτα, here, as in Luke 21:32, especially of the premonitions of the Parusia considered exclusively on their terrifying side; for to escape the Parusia itself (which is first alluded to in the immediately following expression) is indeed for friend and foe impossible. He escapes τὰ μέλλοντα, who is not carried away by persecutions, brought to apostasy by misleaders, or robbed of courage by trial. (The genuineness of ταῦτα is doubtful; it is rejected by Tischendorf and accepted by De Wette; it has little influence on the sense, since, at all events, our Lord means no other future things than these of which He had just spoken.) On the other hand, they must desire above all things to appear before the Son of Man, σταθῆναι έ̓μπροσθεν, κ.τ.λ. It may, indeed, signify, “to pass the trial,” as in Rom. 14:4, but at the end of this discourse it is very probable that our Lord will designate therewith something higher: the fearless appearance, the composed standing before His throne, in order to view Him, to serve Him, and to glorify Him. “The ἐπισυναγωγή of believers is meant, and this, as it appears, of the living, because as a condition the escaping of all the tribulations is named, 1 Thess. 4:17; 2 Thess. 2:1; Matt. 24:31.” De Wette. This σταθῆναι is, therefore, not only the beginning, but also the substance, of the highest happiness, the opposite of which is portrayed, Ps. 1:5; Nahum 1:6; Rev. 6:16, 17.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. It is of high significance that our Lord ends His prophetical office, immediately before His last suffering, with such an eschatological discourse. The course which our Saviour’s teaching has taken during His public life, shows the type of the natural course of development of Christian dogmatics. As He had appeared with the preaching of faith and conversion, so ought at all times the practical questions to come first. But as He did not leave the earth without having also disclosed the secrets of the future, so a Dogmatics which, in reference to the έ̓σχατα, takes an indifferent or sceptical position, is in itself imperfect, and like a mutilated torso. It lies in the nature of the case that Christian eschatology, the more the course of time advances, must become less and less an unimportant appendix, and more and more a locus primaries of Christian doctrine.
2. Whoever asserts that the expectation of a personal, visible, glorious return, which shall put a decisive end to the present condition of things, belongs only to Jewish dreamings, which one from a Christian spiritualistic position may look down upon with a certain lofty disparagement, is here contradicted by our Lord in the most decided manner.
3. What our Lord here announces in reference to the termination of the history of the world is only drawn in strong and broad lines. It is no picture that already contains all the traits of the image of the future complete, but a sketch with which the more detailed painting is outlined, which afterwards could be elaborated by the hand of the apostles. He who believes in the unity of the Spirit in our Lord and His first witnesses, cannot be hindered from seeking in the Apostolic Epistles, or in the Revelation, for the answer to many questions which this eschatological discourse leaves yet remaining for us. Not easily will any one be able to show in this last a conception for which the fundamental thought is not more or less contained in this eschatological discourse, and which, therefore, might not be named, with entire justice, a further explanation and completion of the same. So is the Pauline doctrine of the restoration of Israel only the development of the germ which we find here, Luke 21:24; so is the Apocalyptical image of the convulsions of the realm of nature which shall accompany the coming of the Lord, only the development of the eschatological foundation thoughts already given here. The eschatology of the apostles is related to that of our Lord as the nobly unfolding plant to the bud swelling with sap; not as the subsequently clouded sun to its earlier brilliancy.
4. “The soul works on the body, and there is no member or part of the body that does not feel with the soul. So shall the Lord that shall come work upon all creatures, and they shall not be able to withdraw themselves from His working. Even before His visible appearance will the creatures become aware that the time of His coming is at hand. The lifeless creation, that bends itself without opposition to His almighty will, and men, who can oppose themselves with their impotent will to His almighty will,—both shall be seized with the terrors that hasten on before His appearance. The heaven and the sea, and on earth men, shall have forebodings of that which is to come. There rests upon the prophesyings of our Lord concerning the end,—threatening as they are, terrible as they sound,—nevertheless an obscurity by which their terrible impression is augmented. They wait for their literal and most striking interpretation, for their fulfilment. Before this comes, God’s hand itself has veiled them in a twilight which yields to no human endeavor; but when the fulfilment comes, man shall not only clearly know how fully it fits the prophecy, but also how the prophecy fits the fulfilment,—how they shall, as it were, exactly cover one another.” Löhe.
5. Although, our Lord in this eschatological discourse does not speak expressly of His Divine nature and dignity, it contains so powerful and incomparable a self-testimony of Christ, that it is utterly impossible not to ascribe to Him who so speaks a superhuman character. Nothing is to be compared with the quiet majesty of that word: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” Scoffers think exactly the opposite—namely, that heaven and earth shall remain; the words of our Lord, on the other hand, be forgotten and exposed as lies, 2 Peter 3:3 seq.—Yet our Lord, who apparently delays the promise, will not rest until it is all fulfilled. Patiens quia œternus.
6. The eschatological discourse is also remarkable on this account, that it shows that a connection according to the intent of our Lord exists and must exist between πίστις and γνῶσις. The example of the apostles and the teaching of the Master show anew: there cannot possibly be any talk of γνῶσις so long as no πίστισ precedes it. Non intelligere ut credas, sed credere ut intelligas. Where faith however is living, it feels to a certain extent the necessity of also knowing the secrets of the future. Our Lord satisfies this need, so far as the receptivity of His people permits Him, and while the σημεῖα of His coming are only images of terror and riddles to the unbelieving, believers are at the same time the γνωστικοί, who know what these things denote, and whither they tend. Their faith has, therefore, become a knowing; but, on the other hand also, this knowing, which is still very limited and only in part, leads again to faith, and must end in ever firmer faith, hope, and waiting. Per fidem ad intellectum, per intellectum ad firmiorem fidem.
7. The eschatological discourse of our Lord may be considered as a type of a fitting and edifying treatment of future things for all preachers. Let us consider well how closely this doctrine of His coheres also with the prophetic words of Scripture; how the chief strokes of the picture are placed in a clear light, while points of a subordinate importance remain veiled in an unprejudicial obscurity; how He, above all, delivers this teaching not for the satisfaction of an idle curiosity, but uses it directly for the admonition, for the consolation, and for the sanctification of His own. It admits of no doubt that had the impending end of the history of the world been always written of and spoken of in this way, much less offence would have been taken, and also much less offence would have been given.
8. It is not impossible that our Lord on this occasion uttered the so-called unwritten expression of which Justin Martyr, in Tryph. Luke 47, makes mention with the simple words: διὸ καὶ ὁ ἡμέτερος Κύριος Ἰ. Χρ. εῖ̓πεν and which has all the internal traces of genuineness: “In that in which I shall find you, therein will I judge you.”
9. Compare on this Pericope the Dies irœ.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The visible creation must perish before the heaven and the new earth appear.—The joy of the world perishes often before the end of the world.—If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?—The day of Christ at once a day of terror and of glory.—The different temper in which men go towards and look towards this day: 1. While unbelief yet mocks, faith mourns; 2. while unbelief fears, faith hopes; 3. while unbelief despairs, faith triumphs.—The ordinary laws of nature are abolished when the kingdom of Christ celebrates its highest triumphs.—The coming of the Son of Man: 1. Seen by all eyes; 2. surrounded by heavenly glory; 3. greeted by the redeemed with joy.—Even nature prophesies of the approaching summer of the kingdom of God.—How much the Christian, by attentive observation of the kingdom of nature and of grace, can know of himself.—The knowledge of the hour which has struck in God’s kingdom: 1. Its grounds; 2. its degree; 3. its limits.—The contemporaries of our Lord, even in their lifetime, witnesses: 1. Of the most glorious event; 2. of the most terrible event, that ever the earth has see.—What is perishable and what remains.—Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away: 1. The sublimity; 2. the truth; 3. the comfort; 4. the serious depth, of this utterance.—What the word of our Lord shall continue for His people, even after the end of the world.—What is the greatest danger to which the disciple of the Lord is exposed at the approach of the day of His coming?—He that is full of wine cannot be full of the Holy Spirit, Eph. 5:18.—The day of the Lord comes unawares;—woe to the man whom it finds wholly unprepared !—How the best preparation for the coming of the Lord consists: 1. In watchfulness; 2. in activity; 3. in thoughtfulness.—They who sit down in selfishness and carelessness, will be not less surprised by the end than they that pass the night at their wine.—Watching and praying must we await the Lord’s coming.—Nothing higher can the praying Christian desire than: 1. To escape the destruction that lights upon others; and 2. to stand with all His people before the Son of Man.
STARKE:—They that have not feared God in their life, shall melt away for terror in the end.—Many weighty things have already come to pass on earth, but the weightiest is yet to be looked for.—QUESNEL:—Whoever has despised Jesus in His humility, will see Him against his will in His majesty.—There comes at last a time when we shall be redeemed from all that is a burden to us, 2 Tim. 4:18.—The earthly-minded regard the spring as the most convenient time for their lust and desire, but true Christians as a type of the glory and resurrection of the children of God.—The summer a beautiful image of eternal blessedness.—God does not let the race of the ungodly perish till all is come to pass, which serves as the proof of His righteousness, and for their punishment.—True Christians who seek that which is above in heaven are as the birds of the heaven who, because they are not on earth, have nothing to fear from the nets of the fowler.—BRENTIUS:—Because man does not know his time, he must learn wisely to accommodate himself to the time.—It is God alone that can make us worthy and ready for the enjoyment of His everlasting glory.—Watching and praying men ever keep together.
On the Pericope:—FUCHS:—Concerning the return of Christ and the hour of death: 1. For the ungodly, terrible; 2. for believers, joyful.—Lift up your heads: 1. In good days, and thank the Lord; 2. in evil days, and trust the Lord; 3. in the last days, and be joyful in hope.—HERBERGER:—Concerning the last Advent of Jesus and the flower-buds of the last day.—OTHO:—The last judgment.—FRESENIUS:—The redemption of Jesus Christ in its different aspects: 1. The procuring of salvation; 2. the preparation of salvation; 3. the complete revelation of salvation.—AHLFELD:—Behold the King cometh to thee in might and glory.—COUARD:—Christian-mindedness in evil times.—SOUCHON:—The comfort and admonition of Christ’s prophecy of His coming.—STIER:—The day of the Lord’s return: 1. How; and 2. whereto it is placed before our eyes.—RANKE:—How we have to receive our Lord’s prophecy of His coming again: 1. With deep reverence; 2. with great joy; 3. with holy seriousness.—RAUTENBERG:—The course of the gospel among the terrors of the time.—GAUPP:—The coming again of our Lord a strong incitement to a godly life, for: 1. It awakens the spirit to a living hope; 2. it inspires in all believing hearts sweet comfort even in the dreariest condition of the kingdom of God; 3. it admonishes most deeply to become worthy, by prayer and watchfulness, to stand before the Son of Man.—CL. HARMS:—The setting forth of the coming of our Lord is seasonably done even in the Advent season: 1. It awakens sleepers; 2. shakes the presumptuous; 3. helps the wavering to a decision; 4. strengthens the weak in faith.—KRAUSSOLD:—The coming of our Lord at the end of days: 1. A coming to judgment, and moreover; 2. a terrible and glorious; 3. an undoubtedly certain, coming, and therefore; 4. a coming for which we should perseveringly wait in joyful faith.—STAUDT:—How believers demean themselves at the coming of Christ: 1. As attentive observers of the tokens of this coming; 2. as joyful spectators of these mutations in the world; 3. as those delivered out of all judgments.—Dr. A. BOMHARD:—The established heart of the believing Christian.—B. STEGER:—Of the joyful and blessed freedom of the perfectly righteous.
Luke 21:25.—According to the reading of Tischendorf, [Lachmann, Meyer, Tregelles, Alford,] ἐν ἀπορία ἤχους [instead of ἠχούσης, Recepta], which is sufficiently supported by A., B., [Cod. Sin.,] C., L., M., [R.,] X., Cursives, [Vulgate, Syriac,] &c.
Luke 21:36.—With Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Tregelles, Alford,] we read δέ instead of the οῦ̓ν of the Recepta, according to B., D., [Cod. Sin.,] Itala.
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.General Conclusion (Luke 21:37, 38)
37And in the daytime [τὰς ἡμέρας] he was teaching [or, was wont to teach] in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode [lodged] in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. 38And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.9
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 21:37. And in the daytime He was wont to teach.—Luke does not at all mean that our Saviour even after the eschatological discourse continued to teach in the temple, but he simply sums up what had been wont to take place in the days immediately preceding; looking back therewith to Luke 20:1. This appears as well from the expression: ἦν διδάσκων, as from τὰς ἡμέρας, which in general refers to the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of the Passion-Week. The purpose is not therefore to state that our Lord delivered the eschatological discourse also in the temple, but only to indicate that so long as He continued in the temple He spoke there as a Teacher, and was listened to by the people with undiminished interest, so that He by no means saw Himself constrained to leave the sanctuary for want of hearers. However, the account of Luke must be complemented by that of the other Evangelists. In this way we know what Luke has already (Luke 21:5) caused us to conjecture, namely, that the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem was not delivered till after the leaving of the temple, while we become aware from John 12:36 that He after the departure from the temple hid Himself from the Jews (ἐκρὑβη), which undoubtedly appears to point to a seclusion of some hours, or very possibly of a whole day, before the beginning of the last conflict. If everything does not deceive us, then all took place in the Tuesday of the Passion-Week, which is stated Matt. 21:20; 26:5; Mark 11:20–14:2; Luke 20:1–21:36; so that we find no other day in the whole public life of our Lord, of which the Synoptics give us so rich an historical survey. The occurrence with the Greeks in the temple, John 12:20–36, may have taken place on the Monday. Over the Wednesday, the whole of which our Lord, as it appears, spent in Bethany, there is spread an impenetrable veil. We may suppose (with Lange) that He on this day made the wider circle of His followers acquainted with His approaching suffering. [The extreme difficulty which the apostles themselves, up to the very hour of our Lord’s arrest, had in admitting the idea of any such thing befalling Him, appears to render it exceedingly improbable that the wider circle of His disciples had any intimation of it beforehand, or at least any but the most general intimation; there is certainly not the least hint in any of the Gospels that they had.—C. C. S.] The conjecture (Wieseler) that John 12:44–50, is also to be considered as a part of an address which our Lord at this very time delivered as a final address to the people, appears to us less probable. These concluding phrases alter the general account, John 12:37–43, appear rather to bear a chrestomathical character, and to contain a freely-condensed summary of that which at all times, and especially in the last days, had been the main substance of the preaching of our Lord.
Luke 21:38. And all the people came early in the morning, ὤρθριζε πρὸς αὐτόν. De Wette: “Sought Him out eagerly.” According to LXX, Ps. 78:34; 63:2 et alib. Better in the sense of mane veniebat, see Luther, Vulgate, Meyer, and Ewald. Designation of the undiminished desire of the people, who could scarcely wait for the day in order to go again to Him, and who therewith, so long as they had not yet been wholly misled and blinded by the Pharisees, continually proved that they knew how to appreciate their Prophet. A few days afterwards we see all changed, see Luke 23:18. This statement of Luke is worthy of note on this account also, that it shows that the few last days which our Lord abode in the temple must have been very long days, on which therefore there could not have wanted time for so much as took place, for instance on the Tuesday. Tertullian’s translation therefore holds good, De luculo conveniebant; although it was a not very happy thought of Grotius, when he from this early hastening of so many hearers, drew the conclusion: apparet, non caruisse fructu monitum illud Christi: ὰγρμπνεῖτε. This pregnant admonition was certainly not fulfilled merely by so inadequate a proof of interest; besides, it had not even been addressed to the people, but specially to the Twelve.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the Exegetical and Critical.
2. The imperturbable composure with which our Lord, so long as it pleased Him, held to the end the post assigned Him, and continued His daily usage of teaching, presents a striking contrast to the restlessness and perplexity of His enemies, which increases every moment. Here also the wisdom of the old word of Scripture, Prov. 28:1; Is. 57:21, was revealed.
3. The undiminished result of the preaching of our Lord, in which He was able to rejoice even to the very last day, is a new argument for the voluntariness and unconstrainedness of His surrender to the might of His foes.
4. The secret of the unbroken energy which our Lord revealed even unto the last hour of His public life, is to be sought in the holy hours upon the Mount of Olives.
5. It is worthy of note that our Lord, so far as we know, on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of His public life, performs no more miracles; the time for that had already passed.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” John 9:5.—Our Lord does not leave the temple till it has become plain before all men’s eyes that He leaves it as Victor.—The hen does not become weary of calling her brood, even when she sees the eagles coming from afar.—The Mount of Olives, the sanctuary of the solitary prayer of our Lord.—The holy consecration to the agony of Gethsemane.—The high significance which the principal mountains of the Holy Land had in the history of the Life and Passion of the Lord. Behind Him there already lie the Mount of Temptation, where He overcame the Evil One; the Mount of the Beatitudes, where He as Teacher proclaimed the constitution of His kingdom; the Mount of the Transfiguration, where He in the distance beheld His suffering and His glory. Before Him yet lies the Mount of the Cross, where the most agonizing strife was to be striven; the Mount of the Manifestation (Matt. 28:16), where the most glorious triumph was to be celebrated; the Mount of the Ascension, where the noblest crown was to be attained.—The final stillness before the final strife.—How remarkable, and yet how indecisive, the last undiminished interest of the people in the instruction of our Lord is.—The early and week-day preaching of the Lord.—Ora et labora.
STARKE:—When the end of their life draws manifestly near, then especially must servants of God faithfully administer their function, and seek thus to conclude it worthily, 2 Peter 1:13, 14.—Christ’s servants must early and late serve the Lord, even to the end of their life, Acts 13:36; Is. 40:31.—Labor for our neighbor’s salvation must be joined with prayer.—QUESNEL:—Oh, how happy and blooming is the Church when a people hungering for God’s word has a faithful minister, who is even as hungry and eager to feed them therewith, 1 Thess. 3:6, 10; Rom. 1:11.—To neglect God’s worship and preaching for the sake of comfort and convenience, is not capable of being answered before God, Ps. 42:4.—The love and the thronging of a people after God’s word encourage the zeal of the pastor; the zeal and diligence of the pastor encourage the people, 1 Thess. 2:8–13; Prov. 27:17.—ARNDT:—Jesus’ threefold elevation: 1. The elevation of His body; 2. of His soul; 3. of His spirit. “If Jesus had need, in order to preserve to Himself freshness and vigor for His day’s work, now and then to collect Himself in stillness and prayer, we need it yet much more, and the unhappy ones who know no still hours in their life, know not at all how much they lack. Not in vain does the old proverb join labor and praying, to intimate thereby that prayer, though it is a labor, is at the same time an enjoyment, yea, an enjoyment of all enjoyments and the chief refreshment from labor, the chief consecration for labor. Verily, they have done most in their life that have prayed most, and very rich matter is therefore contained in the little rhyme: “Halt dich rein, acht dich klein, sei gern allein, mit Gott gemein!” [Keep thyself pure; esteem thyself of small account; love to be alone, together with God].
Luke 21:38.—After Luke 21:38 some cursive manuscripts have the Pericope de adultera, John 7:53–8:11. On internal grounds the reception of this event into this connection is vindicated by Lange (Leben Jesu, ad locum). Comp. LANGE on Matthew. In his work on the Gospel of John, ad locum, the author has modified this view.