Luke 21:24
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
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(24) And they shall fall by the edge of the sword.—There is nothing in the parallel prophecies of the other two Gospels that answers to this special description, and it is possible, as suggested above, that St. Luke’s report here has somewhat of the character of a free paraphrase, such as was natural in an oral communication of what was variously remembered.

Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.—The thought expressed in this clause, that the punishment of Israel, and the desolation of Jerusalem were to have a limit, that there was one day to be a restoration of both, is noticeable as agreeing with the whole line of St. Paul’s thoughts in Romans 9-11, and being in all probability the germ of which those thoughts are the development. In Romans 11:25, “till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in,” we have a distinct echo of the words, “until the times (better, the seasons) of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

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

Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles — The accomplishment of this part of the prophecy is wonderful. For, after the Jews were utterly destroyed by death and captivity, Vespasian commanded the whole land of Judea to be sold. Bell., Luke 7:26. — “At that time Cesar wrote to Bassus, and to Liberius Maximus, the procurator, to sell the whole land of the Jews; for he did not build any city there, but appropriated their country to himself, leaving there only eight hundred soldiers, and giving them a place to dwell in, called Emmaus, thirty stadia from Jerusalem; and he imposed a tribute upon all the Jews, wheresoever they lived, commanding every one of them to bring two drachms into the capitol, according as in former times they were wont to pay unto the temple of Jerusalem. And this was the state of the Jews at that time.” Thus was Jerusalem in particular, with its territory, possessed by the Gentiles, becoming Vespasian’s property, who sold it to such Gentiles as chose to settle there. That Jerusalem continued in this desolate state we learn from Dio: for he tells us, that the Emperor Adrian rebuilt it, sent a colony thither to inhabit it, and called it Ælia. But he altered its situation, leaving out Zion and Bezetha, and enlarging it so as to comprehend Calvary, where our Lord was crucified. Moreover, Eusebius informs us, that Adrian made a law, that no Jew should come into the region around Jerusalem. Hist., Luke 21:6. So that the Jews being banished, such a number of aliens came into Jerusalem, that it became a city and colony of the Romans, Hist., Luke 4:6. In later times, when Julian apostatized to heathenism, being sensible that the evident accomplishment of our Lord’s prophecy concerning the Jewish nation made a strong impression upon the Gentiles, and was a principal means of their conversion, he resolved to deprive Christianity of this support, by bringing the Jews to occupy their own land, and by allowing them the exercise of their religion, and a form of civil government. For this purpose he resolved to rebuild Jerusalem, and to rear up the temple upon its ancient foundations, because there only he knew they would offer prayers and sacrifices. In the prosecution of this design he wrote a letter to the community of the Jews, which is still extant among his other works, inviting them to return to their native country; for their encouragement, he says to them, among other things, “The holy city, Jerusalem, which of many years ye have desired to see inhabited, I will rebuild by mine own labour, and will inhabit it,” epist. 25. And now the emperor, having made great preparations, began the execution of his scheme with rebuilding the temple; but his workmen were soon obliged to desist, by an immediate and evident interposition of God. “He resolved,” says Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. 23., “to build, at an immense expense, a certain lofty temple at Jerusalem; and gave it in charge to Alypius of Antioch, to hasten the work. But when Alypius, with great earnestness, applied himself to the execution of it, and the governor of the province assisted him in it, terrible balls of fire bursting forth near the foundation, with frequent explosions, and divers times burning the workmen, rendered the place inaccessible. Thus the fire continually driving them away, the work ceased.” This fact is attested, likewise, by Zemuth David, a Jew, who honestly confesses that Julian was hindered by God in this attempt. It is attested, likewise, by Nazianzen and Chrysostom among the Greeks, by Ambrose and Ruffin among the Latins, who lived at the time when the thing happened; by Theodoret and Sozomon, of the orthodox persuasion; by Philistorgius, an Arian, in the extracts of his history made by Photius; (lib. 7. cap. 9;) and by Socrates, a favourer of the Novatians, who wrote his history within the space of fifty years after these things happened, and while the eye-witnesses thereof were yet alive. Thus, while Jews and heathen, under the direction of a Roman emperor, united their whole force to baffle our Lord’s prediction, they did but still the more conspicuously accomplish it. See notes on Deuteronomy 28:64-68. Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled — The time determined in the counsel of God for the conversion of the Gentiles. The Apostle Paul has given us a clear explication of this passage, Romans 11:25. This part of the prophecy answers to Daniel 9:27 : He shall make it (Jerusalem) desolate, even until the consummation, namely, of wrath upon this people, and that determined be poured upon the desolate. The meaning of both passages is, that after the destruction here foretold, Jerusalem shall continue desolate, until God has poured upon it the whole wrath he has determined; and this wrath will not be finished until the Gentiles are converted.21:5-28 With much curiosity those about Christ ask as to the time when the great desolation should be. He answers with clearness and fulness, as far as was necessary to teach them their duty; for all knowledge is desirable as far as it is in order to practice. Though spiritual judgements are the most common in gospel times, yet God makes use of temporal judgments also. Christ tells them what hard things they should suffer for his name's sake, and encourages them to bear up under their trials, and to go on in their work, notwithstanding the opposition they would meet with. God will stand by you, and own you, and assist you. This was remarkably fulfilled after the pouring out of the Spirit, by whom Christ gave his disciples wisdom and utterance. Though we may be losers for Christ, we shall not, we cannot be losers by him, in the end. It is our duty and interest at all times, especially in perilous, trying times, to secure the safety of our own souls. It is by Christian patience we keep possession of our own souls, and keep out all those impressions which would put us out of temper. We may view the prophecy before us much as those Old Testament prophecies, which, together with their great object, embrace, or glance at some nearer object of importance to the church. Having given an idea of the times for about thirty-eight years next to come, Christ shows what all those things would end in, namely, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the utter dispersion of the Jewish nation; which would be a type and figure of Christ's second coming. The scattered Jews around us preach the truth of Christianity; and prove, that though heaven and earth shall pass away, the words of Jesus shall not pass away. They also remind us to pray for those times when neither the real, nor the spiritual Jerusalem, shall any longer be trodden down by the Gentiles, and when both Jews and Gentiles shall be turned to the Lord. When Christ came to destroy the Jews, he came to redeem the Christians that were persecuted and oppressed by them; and then had the churches rest. When he comes to judge the world, he will redeem all that are his from their troubles. So fully did the Divine judgements come upon the Jews, that their city is set as an example before us, to show that sins will not pass unpunished; and that the terrors of the Lord, and his threatenings against impenitent sinners, will all come to pass, even as his word was true, and his wrath great upon Jerusalem.Shall fall ... - No less than one million one hundred thousand perished in the siege of Jerusalem.

Shall be led away captive - More than 90,000 were led into captivity. See the notes at Matthew 24.

Shall be trodden down by the Gentiles - Shall be in possession of the Gentiles, or be subject to them. The expression also implies that it would be an "oppressive" subjection, as when a captive in war is trodden down under the feet of the conqueror. Anciently conquerors "trod on" the necks of those who were subdued by them, Joshua 10:24; 2 Samuel 22:41; Ezekiel 21:29. The bondage of Jerusalem has been long and very oppressive. It was for a long time under the dominion of the Romans, then of the Saracens, and is now of the Turks, and is aptly represented by a captive stretched on the ground whose neck is "trodden" by the foot of the conqueror.

Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled - This passage has been understood very differently by different expositors. Some refer it to the time which the Romans who conquered it had dominion over it, as signifying that "they" should keep possession of it until a part of the pagans should be converged, when it should be rebuilt. Thus it was rebuilt by the Emperor Adrian. Others suppose that it refers to the end of the world, when all the Gentiles shall be converted, and they shall "cease" to be Gentiles by becoming Christians, meaning that it should "always" be desolate. Others, that Christ meant to say that in the times of the millennium, when the gospel should spread universally, he would reign personally on the earth, and that the "Jews" would return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. This is the opinion of the Jews and of many Christians. The meaning of the passage clearly is,

1. That Jerusalem would be completely destroyed.

2. That this would be done by Gentiles - that is, by the Roman armies.

3. That this desolation would continue as long as God should judge it proper in a fit manner to express his abhorrence of the crimes of the nation - that is, until the times allotted to "them" by God for this desolation should be accomplished, without specifying how long that would be, or what would occur to the city after that.

It "may" be rebuilt, and inhabited by converted Jews. Such a thing is "possible," and the Jews naturally seek that as their home; but whether this be so or not, the time when the "Gentiles," as such, shall have dominion over the city is limited. Like all other cities on the earth, it will yet be brought under the influence of the gospel, and will be inhabited by the true friends of God. Pagan, infidel, anti-Christian dominion shall cease there, and it will be again a place where God will be worshipped in sincerity - a place "even then" of special interest from the recollection of the events which have occurred there. "How long" it is to be before this occurs is known only to Him "who hath put the times and seasons in his own power," Acts 1:7.

24. Jerusalem … trodden down … until, &c.—Implying (1) that one day Jerusalem shall cease to be "trodden down by the Gentiles" (Re 11:2), as then by pagan so now by Mohammedan unbelievers; (2) that this shall be at the "completion" of "the times of the Gentiles," which from Ro 11:25 (taken from this) we conclude to mean till the Gentiles have had their full time of that place in the Church which the Jews in their time had before them—after which, the Jews being again "grafted into their own olive tree," one Church of Jew and Gentile together shall fill the earth (Ro 11:1-36). What a vista this opens up! See Poole on "Luke 21:23" And they shall fall by the edge of the sword,.... Or "mouth of the sword", an Hebraism; see the Septuagint in Judges 1:8. The number of those that perished by the famine and sword, were eleven hundred thousand (f):

and shall be led away captive unto all nations; when the city was taken, the most beautiful of the young men were kept for the triumph; and those that were above seventeen years of age, were sent bound into Egypt, to labour in the mines; many were distributed through the provinces, to be destroyed in the theatres, by the sword or beasts; and those that were under seventeen years of age, were led captive to be sold; and the number of these only, were ninety-seven thousand (g):

and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles; the Romans, who ploughed up the city and temple, and laid them level with the ground; and which spot has been ever since inhabited by such as were not Jews, as Turks and Papists: and so it will be,

until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled; that is, till the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in; until the Gospel is preached all over the world, and all God's elect are gathered in out of all nations; and then the Jews will be converted, and return to their own land, and rebuild and inhabit Jerusalem; but till that time, it will be as it has been, and still is possessed by Gentiles. The word "Gentiles", is left out in one of Beza's exemplars, and so it is likewise in the Persic version.

(f) Joseph. de Belio Jud. l. 7. c. 49. & Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 7. (g) Ib.

And they shall fall by the {f} edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

(f) Literally, mouth, for the Hebrews call the edge of a sword the mouth because the edge of the sword bites.

24. fall by the edge of the sword] Literally, “mouth of the sword.” Genesis 34:26. 1,100,000 Jews are said to have perished in the war and siege. “It seems as though the whole race had appointed a rendezvous for extermination.” Renan.

led away captive into all nations] Josephus speaks of 97,000 Jev]s sent to various provinces and to the Egyptian mines. B. J. vi. 9.

shall be trodden dawn of the Gentiles] So that the very thing happened which the Maccabees had tried to avert by their fortifications (1Ma 4:60). All sorts of Gentiles—Romans, Saracens, Persians, Franks, Norsemen, Turks—have ‘trodden down’ Jerusalem since then. The estai patounmene of the original implies a more permanent result than the simple future. Comp. Revelation 11:2.

until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled] By the times — ‘seasons’ or ‘opportunities’ of the Gentiles—is meant the period allotted for their full evangelisation. Romans 11:25, “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”Luke 21:24. Ἔσται πατουμένη) This conveys the idea of something more than πατηθήσεται, shall be trodden down; it shall be (and continue) in a trodden down state, as also in a desecrated state: comp. note on 1 Timothy 1:9. The Derivation and sense of the old name of the city, Jebus, is in consonance with this.[227] So in Revelation 11:2, et seqq., “They shall tread under foot the holy city forty and two months;” although there the angel is speaking of a certain one time of its being trodden under foot, and that a very remarkable one; whereas in Luke the Lord is speaking of all the times of its being so trodden. In fact, in whatever way you explain the “forty and two months,” Jerusalem has been already, for a longer period than that, trodden down by the Romans, the Persians, the Saracens, the Franks, the Turks; and it shall continue hereafter to be trodden down until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Moreover “the times of the Gentiles” are the times appointed to the Gentiles wherein they are to be permitted to tread down the city: and these times shall be terminated upon the conversion of the Gentiles being most fully consummated: Romans 11:25 [“Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved”]; Revelation 15:4 [“All nations shall come and worship before Thee”]; for certainly the Gentiles, whilst treading down Jerusalem, are themselves meanwhile unbelievers. The expression, “the times of the Gentiles,” is used as “the time of figs,” and “the time of the dead:” Mark 11:13; Revelation 11:18. It is not to be inferred from this that the temple and its worship of shadowy types is going to be restored; but yet there will be many at that time there, as indeed even at the present time there are some to be found, who are worshippers bearing the Christian name, and there shall be many too of these belonging to the people of Israel: and it is in the same last time that God and Magog shall make this assault: Revelation 20:9. Ἄχρι, until, forms a tacit limitation in the verses. From this verse to Luke 21:27, are summarily comprehended all the times which are about to follow the destruction of the city down to the termination of all things.—καιροὶ ἐθνῶν) the times of the Gentiles, i.e. which are peculiarly their own. Αὐτῶν is not the expression used, but the term ἘΘΝῶΝ, of the Gentiles, is repeated, in order to show the correspondence of the event with the prediction. The article is not added. The times of Israel, which would have continued uninterruptedly, if Israel had been obedient, Psalm 81:13-16, are interrupted by times of Gentiles. These latter times had their own intervals of suspension, as in the Fourth and Twelfth centuries. The plural, καιροί, is therefore used. A certain time of the Gentiles was fulfilled when Constantine was emperor; and then the treading down of Jerusalem abated; but not lastingly. The times during which the Christians held Jerusalem were brief intervals, if you compare them with the times in which the [unconverted] Gentiles held the city.

[227] Jdg 19:10, Jebus = one who treads under foot.—E. and T.Verse 24. - And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations. It is computed that 1,100,000 Jews perished in the terrible war when Jerusalem fell (A.D. 70). Renan writes of this awful slaughter, "that it would seem as though the whole (Jewish) race had determined upon a rendezvous for extermination." Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles. After incredible slaughter and woes, Titus, the Emperor Vespasian's son, who commanded the Roman armies, ordered the city (of Jerusalem) to be razed so completely as to look like a spot which had never been inhabited (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' v. 10. § 5). The storied city has been rebuilt on the old site - but without the temple - and since that fatal day, more than eighteen centuries ago, no Jew save on bare sufferance has dwelt in the old loved and sacred spot. In turn, Roman and Saracen, Norseman and Turk, have trodden Jerusalem down. Literally, indeed, have the sad words of Jesus been fulfilled. Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. These few words carry on the prophecy past our own time (how far past?) - carry it on close to the days of the end. "The times of the Gentiles" signify the whole period or epoch which must elapse between the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the beginning of the times of the end when the Lord will return. In other words, these "times of the Gentiles" denote the period during which they - the Gentiles - hold the Church of God in place of the Jews, deposal from that position of favor and honor. These words separate the prophecy of Jesus which belongs solely to the ruin of the cry and temple from the eschatological portion of the same prophecy. Hitherto the Lord's words referred solely to the fall of Jerusalem and the ruin of the Jewish race. Now begins a short prophetic description of the end and of the coming of the Son of man in glory. Edge (στόματι)

Lit., the mouth. So Wyc. Either in the sense of the foremost part, or picturing the sword as a devouring monster. In Hebrews 11:33, Hebrews 11:34, the word is used in both senses: "the mouths of lions;" "the edge of the sword."

Led away captive

See on captives, Luke 4:18.

Trodden down

Denoting the oppression and contempt which shall follow conquest.

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