Luke 21:9
But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Commotions.—The word does not occur in the other Gospels, but is used by St. Paul in 1Corinthians 14:33 (“confusion”), 2Corinthians 6:5; 2Corinthians 12:20 (“tumults”). Its exact meaning is unsettlement, disorder.

Be not terrified.—The word is used by St. Luke only, here and in Luke 24:37, in the New Testament.

By and by.—Better, as elsewhere, immediately.

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.Commotions - Insurrections. Subjects rising against their rulers.9-11. not terrified—(See Lu 21:19; Isa 8:11-14).

end not by and by—or immediately, not yet (Mt 24:6; Mr 13:7): that is, "Worse must come before all is over."

Ver. 9-11. See Poole on "Matthew 24:6", See Poole on "Matthew 24:7", and See Poole on "Mark 13:8". Time is the best interpreter of prophecies: what shall be seen of these before the end of the world we are yet to observe, but the destruction of Jerusalem is past many hundreds of years since. What commotions were before that, we must learn out of civil historians, who tell us of divers. Josephus telleth us of an insurrection made by those of Judea against the Samaritans, Romans, and Syrians; and of the Romans against the Jews, to the destruction of twenty thousand Jews: as also of those of Scythopolis, who destroyed of the Jews thirteen thousand; of the Ascalonites, who destroyed of them two thousand five hundred; of those of Alexandria, who destroyed of them fifty thousand; of those of Damascus, who slew of them ten thousand. They tell us also of many more seditions, during the government of Felix, Festus, Albinus, Florus, &c.

The text speaks further of earthquakes; the Greek word signifieth no more than concussions and shakings, but historians tell us of several earthquakes that happened (though not in Judea) before the destruction of Jerusalem; one at Rome, in Nero’s time; another in Asia, which destroyed three cities, &c.

For famines, we read of one in Scripture prophesied of by Agabus, Acts 11:28. Twelve years after Christ’s death, there was another in Greece; and four years after, at Rome.

For the fearful sights, and great signs from heaven, Josephus tells us of a comet, which for a year together in the form of a sword pointed over the city; a light that shined in the night in the temple, and made it as bright as if it had been noon day. He tells us also of a neat beast bringing forth a lamb in the midst of the temple; of the strange opening of the gates of the temple; of visions of chariots and armed men; of a voice heard in the temple, inviting those who were there to be gone; as also of a man (whom he names) who for seven years and five months together before the siege went about crying, Woe, woe to Jerusalem! And could with no punishments (which they thought fit to inflict) be restrained, &c. These were great signs both from heaven and earth.

But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions,.... Or seditions and tumults; "wars" may design the wars of the Romans, against the Jews; and the "commotions", or seditions, the internal troubles among themselves:

be not terrified; as if the destruction of the nation, city, and temple, would be at once:

for these things must first come to pass, but the end is not by and by; or "immediately". The Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions leave out this last word, and read, as in See Gill on Matthew 24:6.

{3} But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

(3) The true temple of God is built up even in the midst of incredible tumults and most severe miseries, and this through invincible patience, so that the end result can be nothing else but most happy.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 21:9. ἀκαταστασίας, unsettled conditions, for ἀκοὰς πολέμων in Mt. and Mk., and perhaps intended as an explanation of that vague phrase. Hahn refers to the French Revolution and the Socialist movement of the present day as illustrating the meaning.—πτοηθῆτε = θροεῖσθε in parallels; here and in Luke 24:37.—δεῖ γὰρ, etc., cf. the laconic version in Mk. (W. and H[171]) and notes there.—πρῶτον, οὐκ εὐθέως: both emphasising the lesson that the crisis cannot come before certain things happen, and the latter hinting that it will not come even then.

[171] Westcott and Hort.

9. wars and commotions] The best comment on the primary fulfilment of this Discourse is the Jewish War of Josephus, and the Annals and History of Tacitus (Ann. xii. 38, xv. 22, xvi. 13), whose narrative is full of earthquakes, wars, crimes, violences and pollutions, and who describes the period which he is narrating as one which was “rich in calamities, horrible with battles, rent with seditions, savage even in peace itself.” The main difficulties of our Lord’s Prophecy vanish when we bear in mind (i) that Prophecy is like a landscape in which time and space are subordinated to eternal relations, and in which events look like hills seen chain behind chain which to the distant spectator appear as one; and (ii) that in the necessarily condensed and varying reports of the Evangelists, sometimes the primary fulfilment (which is shewn most decisively and irrefragably by Luke 21:32 to be the Fall of Jerusalem), sometimes the ultimate fulfilment is predominant. The Fall of Jerusalem was the Close of that Aeon and a symbol of the Final End (telos). This appears most clearly in the report of St Luke.

commotions] akatastasias, conditions of instability and rottenness, the opposite to peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33; James 3:16. Such commotions were the massacre of 20,000 Jews in their fight with the Gentiles at Caesarea; the assassinations or suicides of Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius; the civil wars, &c.

be not terrified] The Greek word is the exact equivalent of our English word ‘be not scared,’ Luke 24:37; 1 Peter 3:6; Proverbs 3:25.

but the end is not by and by] Rather, but not immediately is the end. For ‘by and by’ see Luke 17:7; Matthew 13:21; Mark 6:25. The words are most important as a warning against the same eschatological excitement which St Paul discourages in 2 Thess. (“The end is not yet,” Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7.) The things which ‘must first come to pass’ before the final end were (1) physical disturbances—which so often synchronise with historic crises, as Niebuhr has observed; (2) persecutions; (3) apostasy; (4) wide evangelisation; (5) universal troubles of war, &c. They were the “beginning of birth-throes” (Matthew 24:8); what the Jews called the “birth-pangs of the Messiah.”

Luke 21:9. Πολέμους, wars) amongst equals.—ἀκαταστασίας, [Engl. Vers. ‘commotions’] seditions) of inferiors against superiors, and intestine divisions, whereby the κατάστασις, established constitution, of states is swept away. These are the preludes of further wars. It is in this chapter especially that Luke presents to us the words of the Lord in language varied from that in which Matthew and Mark record them: Luke 21:15 [“I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay;” comp. with Mark 13:11, “Take no thought before-hand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” Comp. also, Matthew 10:19], 20, etc.[221] So also, instead of wars and rumours of wars in Matthew [Luke 24:6] and Mark [Luke 13:7], Luke says here, wars and seditions.

[221] “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” Comp. with Mark 13:14, “When ye shall see the, abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel, standing where it ought not” (in Matthew 24:15, “stand in the holy place”); the phrases in Mark being altered from their Jewish form by Luke, into one more intelligible to the Gentiles for whom he wrote.—E. and T.

Verses 9, 10. - Wars and commotions... nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Josephus the Jewish, and Tacitus the Roman, historian - the former in his 'Jewish Wars,' and the latter in his 'Annals' - describe the period which immediately followed the Crucifixion as full of wars, crimes, violences, earthquakes. "It was a time," says Tacitus, "rich in disasters, horrible with battles, torn with seditions, savage even in peace itself." Luke 21:9Commotions (ἀκαταστασίας)

From ἀ, not, and καθίστημι, to establish. Hence disestablishments; unsettlements. Rev., tumults.

Be not terrified (μὴ πτοηθῆτε)

Only here and Luke 24:37.

By and by (εὐθέως)

Better as Rev., immediately.

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