Luke 17:37
And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
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(37) Where, Lord?—The question comes in naturally here, where the future had been foreshadowed in parables and dark sayings. It would not have been natural in Matthew 24:28, where the whole context determined the locality of which our Lord was speaking.

Wheresoever the body is.—See Note on Matthew 24:28, the only variation being the use of “body” instead of “carcase.” The repetition of the half-proverbial saying at a later period indicates its importance as a law of God’s government. Men ask where His judgments fall, and the answer is that they fall wherever they are needed.

17:20-37 The kingdom of God was among the Jews, or rather within some of them. It was a spiritual kingdom, set up in the heart by the power of Divine grace. Observe how it had been with sinners formerly, and in what state the judgments of God, which they had been warned of, found them. Here is shown what a dreadful surprise this destruction will be to the secure and sensual. Thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. When Christ came to destroy the Jewish nation by the Roman armies, that nation was found in such a state of false security as is here spoken of. In like manner, when Jesus Christ shall come to judge the world, sinners will be found altogether regardless; for in like manner the sinners of every age go on securely in their evil ways, and remember not their latter end. But wherever the wicked are, who are marked for eternal ruin, they shall be found by the judgments of God.See the notes at Matthew 24:26.

Where, Lord? - Where, or in what direction, shall these calamities come? The answer implies that it would be where there is the most "guilt and wickedness." Eagles flock where there is prey. So, said he, these armies will flock to the place where there is the most wickedness; and by this their thoughts were directed at once to Jerusalem, the place of eminent wickedness, and the place, therefore, where these calamities might be expected to begin.

37. Where—shall this occur?

Wheresoever, &c.—"As birds of prey scent out the carrion, so wherever is found a mass of incurable moral and spiritual corruption, there will be seen alighting the ministers of divine judgment," a proverbial saying terrifically verified at the destruction of Jerusalem, and many times since, though its most tremendous illustration will be at the world's final day.

Concerning the sense of this proverbial expression, and the various application of it by interpreters, See Poole on "Matthew 24:28". In our evangelist (where it is swma, not ptwma, as in Matthew, the word there properly signifying a dead body, the word here a living body) it seems to be applied to Christ’s glorious coming to judgment: Where I shall be, who am to be the Judge both of the quick and the dead, thither shall all the world be gathered before me, but my saints especially, who have eagles eyes, senses exercised to discern betwixt good and evil, to discern me as their Redeemer, and the true Messiah; according to that, Psalm 1:5,6. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself.

And they answered and said unto him, where, Lord?.... That is, either the Pharisees put this question to Christ, who demanded of him when the kingdom of God would come, Luke 17:20 or rather the disciples, to whom Christ more especially directed his discourse, Luke 17:22 who hearing of the distinction that would be made of persons in these dismal times, ask where it should be; not where the persons would be left, but whither the others would be taken, and by whom: and he said unto them,

wheresoever the body is; the carcass of the Jewish nation, as at Jerusalem chiefly, and in whatsoever place:

thither will the eagles be gathered together; the Roman army, whose ensign was the eagle; these will come, seize upon them, and take them and devour them, as they did: the Persic version renders it, "vultures"; See Gill on Matthew 24:28. These words can by no means be understood of sinners fleeing to Christ for eternal life and salvation; nor of the gathering of saints to him, at the last day; for how fitly soever such persons may be compared to "eagles", the word "body", or "carcass", as in Matthew 24:28 and which is so read in some copies here, is not so suitable to Christ; and especially at his glorious appearing; and besides, the words are an answer to a question, where such persons would be, who would be taken and destroyed, when others would be left, or preserved; and manifestly refer to the body, or carcass of the Jewish people at Jerusalem, and other fortified places; where they should think themselves safe, but should not be so, the Roman armies gathering about them, and seizing them as their prey: it is yet a more strange interpretation, which is proposed by a very learned man (i); that by the "eagle" is meant, Christ; and by "the body", or "carcass", the church in the times of antichrist; and by "gathering" to it, the coming of Christ: for though Christ may be said to bear and carry his people, as the eagle bears and carries its young upon its wings, which he observes from Exodus 19:4 yet not a single eagle, but "eagles", in the plural number, are here mentioned; which shows, that not a single person, as Christ, but many are here intended, even legions of Roman soldiers: nor can the church of Christ be compared to a dead and filthy carcass, in the worst of times, even in the times of antichrist; for however forlorn, distressed, and afflicted her condition is, she is kept alive, and in some measure pure from antichristian pollutions; and is represented by a woman, to whom two wings of a great eagle are given (wherefore she should rather be designed by the eagles) to fly with into the wilderness, where she is preserved and nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, Revelation 12:14. Nor is Christ's coming ever expressed by the gathering of him to his people; but on the other hand, they are always said to be gathered unto him; see 2 Thessalonians 2:1.

(i) Teelmaunus.

{12} And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

(12) The only way to continue is to cleave to Christ.

Luke 17:37. Ποῦ] not: quomodo (Kuinoel), against which ungrammatical rendering even the following ὅπου ought to have guarded him; but: where will this separation occur? As to what follows, see on Matthew 24:28. On σῶμα, corpse (of man or beast, the latter here), see Duncan, Lex. Homer. ed. Rost, p. 1069. Comp. Luke 23:52; Acts 9:40.


With regard to the discourses which are set forth here, Luke 17:22-37, but in Matthew 24 at another time and in another connection, viz. in that of the great discourse on the end of the world (comp. Luke 21), some have attributed (Schleiermacher, p. 215 ff., 265 ff., Neander, Olshausen, Bleek), others have denied (de Wette), originality to Luke. The latter view depends upon the assertion of a want of connection, and partial inappropriateness of the expressions in Luke, which assumption, however, is not justified by the exposition. But the former cannot be allowed at the expense of Matthew (see especially Schleiermacher, who supposes in Matthew a mingling of the originally separate discourses, Luke 17:22 ff; Luke 21:5 ff.), since even in Matthew everything stands in strictly linked connection; but Luke 21, in the same way as Matthew, places the Parousia in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem, Luke 21:25 ff. (comp. Strauss, II. p. 338). Without doing injustice to the one or the other evangelist, originality is to be conceded to both, so that Luke 17:22 ff. has preserved, in accordance with his original source, a discourse spoken by Jesus, which, not preserved by Matthew, and belonging to an earlier period than Matthew 24 and Luke 21, has the characteristic feature that it remains entirely apart from connection with the destruction of Jerusalem. That the substance of its contents was repeated by Jesus Himself in the great discourse of Matthew 24, is, in respect of the similarity of the material, intelligible enough, and this holds good especially of the characteristic words—lightning, deluge, eagles. But it cannot be decided how much in the execution and form is carried over from the one discourse into the other by the mingling processes of reminiscence and tradition, the rather that in general we can ascribe to the discourses in the synoptic Gospels on the end of the world originality only within certain limits, i.e. originality modified by the reflection and expectation of the church (see on Matthew 24, Remarks).

Luke 17:37. σῶμα, the carcase = πτῶμα, Matthew 24:28; so used in Homer, who employs δέμας for the living body.

37. Where, Lord?] This question also our Lord declines to answer. The Coming of God’s Kingdom is not to be limited either by chronological or by geographical conditions.

Wheresoever the body A] Rather, the carcass, although here the specific word for carcass (ptoma) is not used as in Matthew 24:28.

thither will the eagles be gathered together] Rather, the vultures.

The same generic word is indeed used for both genera of birds, but the eagle does not feed on carcasses. Some commentators both ancient and modern have interpreted ‘the body’ to mean Christ, and ‘the eagles’ His gathering Saints. Scriptural usage seems to make such an interpretation impossible, especially as there is probably a direct allusion to Job 39:30, “Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.” See too Habakkuk 1:8; Hosea 8:1; Revelation 19:17-21. Sometimes a reference is supposed to the eagle-standards of Rome. (Comp. Deuteronomy 28:49-52; John 11:48.) This is very possible especially as the Jews were very familiar with the Roman eagle, and so strongly detested it that the mere erection of the symbol in Jerusalem was sufficient to lash them into insurrection (Jos. Antt. xvii. 6, § 3).

But the proverb has a far wider significance, and is illustrated by the rush of avenging forces whenever the life of a nation has fallen into dissolution and decay. See the vision of the eagle in 2Es 11:45, “And therefore appear no more, O eagle, nor thy horrible wings, nor thy wicked feathers, nor thy malicious heads, nor thy hurtful claws, nor all thy vain body.”

Luke 17:37. Ποῦ, where) Where shall that occur, which is described in Luke 17:34-35?—ὁποῦ, where) The Lord indicates, by a periphrasis, the where, when He is now interrogated as to the calamities about to come, just as in Luke 17:21 He had answered on the question as to “the kingdom.”—[τὸ σῶμα, the body) The whole Jewish nation, assembled at Jerusalem on the feast of Passover.—οἱ ἀετοὶ, the eagles) The Romans.—V. g.]

Verse 37. - And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? The disciples were still unable to grasp the full meaning of their Master's words when he spoke of his second advent being visible in all parts of the world, comparing it to a flash of lightning which gleams at the same instant in every point of the horizon. "Where, Lord, will all this take place which thou hast been telling us about?" And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together. The imagery is taken from Job 39:30, "Where the slain are, there is she" (the eagle); the bird intended being most probably the great vulture, well known in Syria. It is seen, for instance, travellers tell us, in hundreds on the Plain of Gennesaret; it is a hideous looking bird, equal to the eagle in size and strength, and acts as a scavenger to purify the earth from the putrid carcases with which it would otherwise be encumbered. "Do you ask where all this will take place? As the curtain of the future rolls up be fore my inward eye, I see the vultures of Divine vengeance flying in flocks athwart the whole area of the earth; the sky is darkened with their numbers; far as my eye can reach, I still see them. Alas l for the habitable earth, my Father's goodly world... it is rank everywhere with corruption..., wheresoever the carcase is, there the vultures will gather together" (Dr. Morrison). The Lord's answer to the question - "Where?" was that his words applied to the whole earth. The terrible and awful scenes he had pictured would take place everywhere. The carcase, as Godet phrases it, is "humanity, entirely secular and destitute of the life of God The eagles (vultures) represent punishment alighting on such a society." There is another interpretation of these words, which, although many great expositors favour it, must be rejected as improbable, being so alien to the context of the whole passage." The dead body (the carcase), according to these interpreters, is the body of Christ, and the eagles are his saints, who flock to his presence, and who feed upon him, especially in the act of Holy Communion.

Luke 17:37Eagles

See on Matthew 24:28.

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