Luke 21:34
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
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(34) Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time . . .—We again pass into what has nothing corresponding to it in the other reports of the discourse, and may therefore be assumed to be of the nature of a paraphrase. We note in it, as such, that, as far as the New Testament is concerned, St. Luke only uses the words for “overcharged” and “surfeiting” (the latter word belonged, more or less, to the vocabulary of medical science); St. Luke and St. Paul alone those for “drunkenness” (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21), and cares “of this life” (1Corinthians 6:3-4), and “unawares” (1Thessalonians 5:3). In the last passage we have what reads almost like a distinct echo from this verse. The whole passage, it may be noted, falls in with St. Luke’s characteristic tendency to record all portions of our Lord’s teaching that warned men against sensuality and worldliness.

Luke 21:34-36. Take heed, &c. — Here our Lord cautions them against the security and sensuality, to which, if they should yield, they would unfit themselves for the trying times that were approaching, and would render those times a great surprise and terror to them; nay, and involve themselves in the ruin about to come on others of their countrymen. By this we learn, 1st, That Christ’s promises of deliverance to his disciples and the first Christians were conditional, and only to be fulfilled, provided that, through divine grace, they made it their care to guard against those sins which would have exposed them to God’s judgments: and, 2d, That there is a close connection between our duty and safety; between our obedience to God and the divine aid and providence, for our preservation, whether temporal or spiritual: and that we are not to expect preservation immediately from his hand, without the use of those means which he has put it into our power to use in order to it. Lest at any time your hearts be overcharged, &c. — The original word βαρυνθωσιν, here rendered overcharged, properly signifies burdened, or, pressed down, and so very elegantly and strongly expresses the hateful consequences of intemperance; and the load which it brings on those rational faculties, which are the glory of the human nature. Thus Horace, — corpus onustum Hesternis vitiis animum quoque prægravat unà, Atque affigit humo divinæ particulam auræ. SAT. 2. lib. 2. lin. 77. The immoderate use of meat and drink not only burdens the mind with the guilt thereby contracted, but it renders it dull, stupid, and lifeless in duty, and indeed unfit for prayer and praise, for the exercise of any grace, and the practice of any virtue: nay, it stupifies the conscience, and renders the heart unaffected with those things that are most affecting. And cares of this life — Anxious cares about visible and temporal things, and the inordinate pursuit of them. The former is the snare of those that are given to their pleasures; this is the snare of the men of business that will be rich. Observe, reader, we have need to guard against both, also against all other temptations, lest at any time our hearts should be thus overcharged. Our caution against sin, and our care of our own souls, must be constant. But was there need to warn the apostles themselves against such sins as these? Then surely there is need to warn even strong Christians against the very grossest sins. Neither are we wise if we think ourselves out of the reach of any sin. And so that day — That awful and important time, of which he had been speaking, when these dreadful calamities should come upon that nation; and overwhelm the unwary and carnally secure. For as a snare, &c. — For the character of the generality of people in the Jewish nation, at that time, would be such that this ruin would come on all — Or on the greatest part of all; that dwelt on the face of the whole earth — Or, of the whole land, as a snare upon a thoughtless bird, which, in the midst of its security, finds itself inextricably taken. Thus should we take heed, lest either the hour of death or day of judgment should come upon us, when we neither expect nor are prepared for such awful events. Watch ye, therefore — This is the general conclusion of all that precedes. Watch against every temptation to negligence and sin, and against every thing which might lull you into a dangerous security; and pray always — With the most fervent importunity; that ye may be accounted worthy — Through pardoning mercy, and the renewing, assisting grace of God; to escape all these things — Those calamitous and destructive events; that shall assuredly come to pass — In the very manner I have described them. And stand before the Son of man — With courage and acceptance, acquitted and approved as his servants, and may not fall before him as his enemies in that day of awful visitation. In Romans 14:4, standing and falling are terms used to signify the being approved or condemned. Those of our Lord’s disciples who followed his directions, and were faithful to the grace they had received, not only escaped the destruction coming on the great body of the Jewish nation, but were acknowledged as his servants, and appointed to be the ministers of his word, and the heralds of his grace and mercy to the Gentile nations. The expression, καταξιωθητε, here rendered accounted worthy, sometimes implies an honour conferred on a person, as when the apostles are said to be counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ, Acts 5:41; some times the being meet or fit for any thing, or suitable thereto, as when John the Baptist exhorts to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, Luke 3:8. And so to be accounted worthy to escape, is, to have the honour of it, and to be fitted, or prepared for it. “The reader will observe that Luke’s account of this discourse is very short, in comparison with that of Matthew and Mark, for this obvious reason, that he had given the chief heads of it before, partly in a discourse of our Lord’s last coming, which was delivered to a very numerous assembly in Galilee, (Luke 12:35-48,) and partly in another discourse, relating only to the destruction of Jerusalem, which was delivered in his journey thither, at the feast of dedication, Luke 17:20, &c. Here, therefore, he chooses to omit what had been inserted on either of those occasions; as John, who probably wrote after the accomplishment of this prophecy, entirely omits it, as already so largely recorded by the former three, from whom, considering the circumstances of time, it came with infinitely better grace, than it could afterward have done from him.” — Doddridge. See notes on Matthew 24:42-51; and Mark 13:33-37.

21:29-38 Christ tells his disciples to observe the signs of the times, which they might judge by. He charges them to look upon the ruin of the Jewish nation as near. Yet this race and family of Abraham shall not be rooted out; it shall survive as a nation, and be found as prophesied, when the Son of man shall be revealed. He cautions them against being secure and sensual. This command is given to all Christ's disciples, Take heed to yourselves, that ye be not overpowered by temptations, nor betrayed by your own corruptions. We cannot be safe, if we are carnally secure. Our danger is, lest the day of death and of judgment should come upon us when we are not prepared. Lest, when we are called to meet our Lord, that be the furthest from our thoughts, which ought to be nearest our hearts. For so it will come upon the most of men, who dwell upon the earth, and mind earthly things only, and have no converse with heaven. It will be a terror and a destruction to them. Here see what should be our aim, that we may be accounted worthy to escape all those things; that when the judgements of God are abroad, we may not be in the common calamity, or it may not be that to us which it is to others. Do you ask how you may be found worthy to stand before Christ at that day? Those who never yet sought Christ, let them now go unto him; those who never yet were humbled for their sins, let them now begin; those who have already begun, let them go forward and be kept humbled. Watch therefore, and pray always. Watch against sin; watch in every duty, and make the most of every opportunity to do good. Pray always: those shall be accounted worthy to live a life of praise in the other world, who live a life of prayer in this world. May we begin, employ, and conclude each day attending to Christ's word, obeying his precepts, and following his example, that whenever he comes we may be found watching.Lest at any time your hearts be overcharged ... - The meaning of this verse is, "Be continually expecting these things. Do not forget them, and do not be "secure" and satisfied with this life and the good things which it furnishes. Do not suffer yourselves to be drawn into the fashions of the world; to be conformed to its customs; to partake of its feasts and revelry; and so these calamities shall come upon you when you least expect them." And from this we may learn - what alas! we may from the "lives" of many professing Christians - that there is need of cautioning the disciples of Jesus now that they do not indulge in the festivities of this life, and "forget" that they are to die and come to judgment. How many, alas! who bear the Christian name, have forgotten this caution of the Saviour, and live as if their lives were secure; as if they feared not death; as if there were no heaven and no judgment! Christians should feel that they are soon to die, and that their portion is not in this life; and, feeling this, they should be "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God."

Overcharged - Literally, "be made heavy," as is the case with those who have eaten and drunken too much.

Surfeiting - Excessive eating and drinking, so as to oppress the body; indulgence in the pleasures of the table. This word does not include "intoxication," but merely indulgence in food and drink, though the food and drink should be in themselves lawful.

Drunkenness - Intoxication, intemperance in drinking. The ancients were not acquainted with the poison that we chiefly use on which to become drunk. They had no distilled spirits. They became intoxicated on wine, and strong drink made of a mixture of dates, honey, etc. All nations have contrived some way to become intoxicated - to bring in folly, and disease, and poverty, and death, by drunkenness; and in nothing is the depravity of men more manifest than in thus endeavoring to hasten the ravages of crime and death.

34-37. surfeiting, and drunkenness—All animal excesses, quenching spirituality.

cares of this life—(See on [1714]Mr 4:7; [1715]Mr 4:19).

Ver. 34-36. I take the Luke 21:34 to be a good exposition of the term watch, Luke 21:36. Avoid sin industriously, in a prospect of my coming to judgment: for sin is compared to sleep, Romans 13:11 Ephesians 5:14; and as he that watcheth doth not only wake, but setteth himself designedly to forbear sleep, in order to some end; so he who keepeth the spiritual watch must set himself designedly to avoid sin, upon a prospect of Christ’s coming, and the uncertainty of it. Particularly he cautions his disciples against luxury and worldly mindedness. The first he expresses under the notions of gluttony and drunkenness, which are two eminent species of it.

The latter, under the notion of the cares of this life; not necessary and provident cares, but superfluous and distracting cares. These things he presseth them to avoid, lest they should be surprised by Christ’s coming, as he tells them the most of the world would be.

He further exhorteth them to pray always; the sense of which precept we showed largely in our notes on Luke 18:1.

He further presseth both these duties in those words,

That ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass; those that should come to pass at or before the destruction of Jerusalem, or afterward;

and to stand before the Son of man, that is, in the last judgment; for, The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous, Psalm 1:5.

And take heed to yourselves,.... To your souls and bodies, to your lives and conversations; be upon your watch and guard:

lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness; with excessive eating and drinking; for these, as they oppress and burden the stomach, and disorder the body, so they stupefy the senses, and make the mind dull and heavy, and unfit for spiritual and religious exercises; such as reading, meditation, and prayer:

and cares of this life; concealing food and clothing, what you shall eat or drink, or wherewith ye shall be clothed; all such anxious and worldly cares, being that to the soul, as intemperance is to the body; for there is such a thing as being inebriated with the world, as well as with wine:

and so that day come upon you unawares; the day of Jerusalem's destruction; and this suggests, that such would be the carnality and security of some persons, and so they would be surprised with ruin at once; see Luke 17:26.

And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
Luke 21:34-36, peculiar to Luke. Ἑαυτοῖς has the emphasis; from the external phenomena the attention of the hearers is directed to themselves. The ὑμῶν placed first contains a contrast with others who are in such a condition as is here forbidden.[247]

βαρηθῶσιν] even in the classical writers often used of the psychical oppression that presses down the energy of the spiritual activity by means of wine, sorrow, etc. Hom. Od. iii. 139; Theocr. xvii. 61; Plut. Aem. P. 34. See generally, Jacobs, ad Anthol. VI. p. 77. On the distinction between κραιπάλη, giddiness from yesterday’s debauch, and μέθη, see Valckenaer, Schol. p. 262. The figurative interpretation (Bleek) of want of moral circumspection is arbitrary. Comp. Luke 12:45; Ephesians 5:18. This want is the consequence of the βαρηθ., whereby it happens “that the heart cannot turn itself to Christ’s word,” Luther, Predigt.

μεριμν. βιωτικαῖς] with cares, “quae ad victum parandum vitaeque usum faciunt,” Erasmus. Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:3; Polyb. iv. 73. 8 : βιωτικαὶ χρεῖαι; and see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 355.

αἰφνίδιος] as one who is unexpected (1 Thessalonians 5:3, often in Thucydides); thus conceived adjectivally, not adverbially. See Krüger, § 57. 5, A 4; Winer, p. 412 [E. T. 583].

ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς ἐπιστῇ] should come upon you, which, according to the context, is conceived of as something sudden (comp. on Luke 2:9). The day is personified.

Luke 21:35. ὡς παγὶς γὰρ κ.τ.λ.] gives a reason for the warning καὶ (μήποτε) αἰφνίδιος ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ. All the more were they to guard against this, as the Parousia will come upon all as a snare (Isaiah 24:17), thus unobserved, and suddenly bringing destruction on them. This must arouse you to hold yourselves in readiness for it, because otherwise ye also shall be overtaken and hurried away by this universal sudden ruin. For the figure, comp. Romans 11:9. It is a snare which is thrown over a wild beast.

ἐπεισελεύσεται] (see the critical remarks) it will come in upon all. In the doubly compounded form (comp. 1Ma 16:16, often in the classical writers) ἐπί denotes the direction, and εἰς the coming in from without (from heaven).

καθημένους] not generally: who dwell, but: who sit (comp. Jeremiah 25:29), expressing the comfortable, secure condition. Comp. on Matthew 4:16. Theophylact: ἐν ἀμεριμνίᾳ διάγοντες καὶ ἀργίᾳ.

Luke 21:36. ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ] belongs to δεόμενοι. Comp. Luke 18:1; Luke 18:7. Others, as Luther and Bleek, connect it with ἀγρ.

ἵνα] the purpose, and therefore contents of the prayer.

κατισχύσητε] (see the critical remarks) have the power; be in the position. So κατισχ. with infinitive, Wis 17:5; Isaiah 22:4, and often in the later Greek writers.

ἑκφυγεῖν κ.τ.λ.] to escape from all this, etc., i.e. in all the perilous circumstances whose occurrence I have announced to you as preceding the Parousia (from Luke 21:8 onward), to deliver your life, which is to be understood in the higher meaning of Luke 21:19.

καὶ σταθῆναι κ.τ.λ.] and to he placed before the Messiah. This will be done by the angels who shall bring together the ἐκλεκτούς from the whole earth to the Messiah appearing in glory. Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27. Nothing is said here about standing in the judgment (in opposition to Erasmus, Beza, Grotius, Kuinoel, and many others).

[247] Comp. on these warnings the expression quoted by Justin, c. Tr. 47, as a saying of Christ: ἐν οἷς ἂν ὑμᾶς καταλάβω, ἐν τούτοις καὶ κρινῶ. Similarly Clem. Alex., quis dives salv. 40, quotes it.

Luke 21:34-36. General exhortation to watchfulness, peculiar to Lk.; each evangelist having his own epilogue.—ἐν κραιπάλῃ καὶ μέθῃ: this seems to be a phrase similar to ἠχοῦς καὶ σάλου—sound and wave for sounding wave (Luke 21:25) = in headache (from yesterday’s intoxication) and drunkenness, for: in drunkenness which causes headache and stupidity. Pricaeus denies that κραιπάλη (here only in N.T.) means yesterday’s debauch (χθεσινὴ μέθη), and takes it = ἀδηφαγία, gluttony. That is what we expect certainly. The warning he understands figuratively. So also Bleek.—μερίμναις βιωτικαῖς, cares of life, “what shall we eat, drink?” etc. (Luke 12:22).

34. surfeiting] The headache after drunkenness.—Lat. crapula.

drunkenness] Comp. Romans 13:13. Hence the exhortation “be sober,” nepsate, 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:6.

cares of this life] Comp. Matthew 13:22. The surfeit of yesterday; drunkenness of today; cares for to-morrow (Van Oosterzee).

Luke 21:34. Μήποτε βαρηθῶσιν, lest at any time your hearts be weighed down [“be overcharged”]) βάρος expresses drowsy torpor: Matthew 26:43.—ἐν κραιπάλῃ καὶ μέθῃ, with surfeiting and drunkenness) κραιπάλη is the headache and sickness which the previous day’s drunkenness entails.[229]—ΜΕΡΊΜΝΑΙς ΒΙΩΤΙΚΑῖς, the cares of life) in planting, purchasing costly garments, gardens, houses, etc.: ch. Luke 17:27-28 [As in the days of Noah, and those of Lot].—αἰφνίδιος) sudden, unexpected, unforeseen. The same epithet occurs in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 [“When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child”]. Refer to this the, for, in Luke 21:35.—ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς, upon you) To these are opposed all the rest of the world, who are mere dwellers on the earth [τοὺς καθημένους ἐπὶ πρόσωπον πάσης τῆς γῆς]. The character of the latter is expressed in ch. Luke 17:27-28.—ἘΚΕΊΝΗ, that) the last day. In antithesis to αὕτη, this generation, Luke 21:32. The universality of its visitation is in consonance with this view. See Luke 21:35.

[229] Latin crapula, Th. ἁρπ-ἁζω, carpo, rapio; which would form ἁρπάλη, ῥαπάλη and so κραιπάλη.—E. and T.

Verse 34. - And take heed to yourselves. The Master ended his discourse with an earnest practical reminder to his disciples to live ever with the sure expectation of his return to judgment. As for those who heard him then, conscious of the oncoming doom of the city, temple, and people, with the solemn procession of signs heralding the impending ruin ever before their eyes, no passions or cares of earth surely would hinder them from living the brave, pure life worthy of his servants. As for coming generations - for the warning voice of Jesus here is equally addressed to them - they too must watch for another and far more tremendous ruin falling upon their homes than ever fell upon Jerusalem. The attitude of his people in every age must be that of the "watcher" till he come. Luke 21:34Overcharged (βαρηζῶσιν)

Weighed down. Compare Luke 9:32; 2 Corinthians 5:4.

Surfeiting (κραιπάλῃ)

Only here in New Testament. Derivation uncertain: akin to the Latin crapula, intoxication. Trench finds an equivalent in fulsomeness, in its original sense of fulness. In the medical writings it is used of drunken nausea or headache.

Drunkenness (μέθῃ)

Compare are well drunk, John 2:10. This and kindred words in the New Testament always refer to intoxication, or that which intoxicates. See note on John 2:10.

Cares (μερίμναις)

See on Matthew 6:25.

Of this life (βιωτικαῖς)

The rendering is too general; though it might be difficult to give a better. Βίος, life, means life considered either as to its duration (1 Peter 4:3); the means of support (Mark 12:44; Luke 8:43; Luke 21:4; 1 John 3:17); or the manner of leading it (1 Timothy 2:2). The meaning here is pertaining to the support or luxury of life; and so in the only other passages where it occurs, 1 Corinthians 6:3, 1 Corinthians 6:4. The parallel is Matthew 6:31. Wyc., business of this life.

Suddenly (αἰφνίδιος)

Only here and 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

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