Matthew Poole's Commentary
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.Luke 21:1-4 Christ values the poor widow’s two mites above all
the larger offerings of the rich,
Luke 21:5,6 foretells the destruction of the temple,
Luke 21:7-24 the signs and calamities that should precede and
Luke 21:25-33 and what should happen at the time of the Son of
Luke 21:31-38 He exhorteth to watchfulness and prayer.
Ver. 1-4. We met with this piece of history, Mark 12:41-44. Mark telleth us, that Christ was sitting right over against the treasury. For other things necessary to be known to understand this piece of history, See Poole on "Mark 12:41", and following verses to Mark 12:44.
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.See Poole on "Luke 21:1"
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:See Poole on "Luke 21:1"
For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.See Poole on "Luke 21:1"
And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,Ver. 5,6. Matthew and Mark say, that some of his disciples spake these words to him, and received this answer, as he was going out of the temple. For the
goodly stones which the disciples admired, we are told that there were some of them forty-five cubits long, five in depth, and six in breadth. The gifts here mentioned are called in the Greek, anayhmata, not anayemata, nor dwra. The latter word, dwra, signified any gifts, money or plate, &c., which men voluntarily offered. Anayemata signified things accursed, or devoted to God, as all the goods of Ai were, Joshua 7:1-26. But this word signified such gifts or presents made to God, as might be hung up and exposed to open view. Our Lord, to take off his disciples eyes from those gay and stately things, prophesieth the utter ruin of the temple, to that degree that one stone should not be left upon another; which how it was afterwards fulfilled within less than forty years, See Poole on "Matthew 24:1", See Poole on "Matthew 24:2", and See Poole on "Mark 13:1", See Poole on "Mark 13:2". God by that providence not only destroying the vain confidence of the Jews, who took their temple to be an asylum, or sanctuary, for them from the providence of God, or his justice rather; but also severely punishing them for their profanation of his holy place; and also lets them know that the time was come, when God would put an end to all types of the Messiah, and also to all that worship, which could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; but stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation, Hebrews 9:9,10.
See Poole on "Matthew 24:1", See Poole on "Matthew 24:2", and See Poole on "Mark 13:1", See Poole on "Mark 13:2".
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.See Poole on "Luke 21:5"
And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?Mark saith, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately. Matthew brings two things more within the compass of their question, viz. What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Our Saviour answereth this question from Luke 21:8-32. The most of what he saith we have before met with in Matthew and Mark. It is the harder to distinguish between the signs Christ giveth of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the day of judgment, because the signs of both are generally the same, and most divines think that God in the destruction of Jerusalem intended to give a specimen of the general conflagration, and ruin of the world at the last day; so as signs of the same kind with those seen before Jerusalem was destroyed, shall be seen before the great and terrible day of our Lord’s coming to judge the world.
And 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 not therefore after them.See Poole on "Matthew 24:4", See Poole on "Matthew 24:5", See Poole on "Mark 13:5", and See Poole on "Mark 13:6". This happened, and was abundantly fulfilled, before the destruction of Jerusalem, and probably will receive a further fulfilling in the latter end of the world. But before the destruction of Jerusalem it was, as Josephus assures us, fulfilled in many, particularly:
1. In one Theudas, whether the same mentioned by Gamaliel, Acts 5:36, or some other of that name, is uncertain.
2. An Egyptian sorcerer, mentioned Acts 21:38.
3. One Dositheus, a Samaritan.
4. Another in the time of Festus’s government.
5. Simon Magus is also reckoned for one, Acts 8:9. He boasted he was the great power of God. Others also reckon one Menander, a disciple of Simon Magus.
It is certain there were many who arrogated to themselves the name of the Messiah, to countenance their heading of a faction. There have also been many since the destruction of Jerusalem, and probably will be many more before the end of the world, 2 Timothy 4:3 2 Peter 2:1 1Jo 2:18.
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.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.
Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:See Poole on "Luke 21:9"
And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.See Poole on "Luke 21:9"
But 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.We have all this justified from holy writ, Acts 4:3 Acts 5:18 Acts 7:4 16:24. What of this shall be seen before the end of the world, time must show; though the prophecies of holy writ speak enough of that also.
And it shall turn to you for a testimony.That is, your persecution shall turn to you for a testimony: for a testimony against your adversaries; so as they themselves shall be brought by your confession of me to own me as the true Messiah; and their cruelty, which they mask under the vizor of religion, shall be openly detected, and it shall at last appear to all the world, that the judgments of God are just, for the cruelty they have exercised upon you. And to you it shall be for a testimony; you shall have a more ampler occasion of testifying, both before kings and great men, that I am the true Messiah. Your faith, patience, and constancy shall be made more manifest; you shall also testify that my kingdom is not of this world, and that my disciples care not to expect a terrene felicity. They shall also be a testimony to you, that you expect not your portion and felicity in this, but in another life.
Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:Ver. 14,15. See Poole on "Matthew 10:19", See Poole on "Matthew 10:20", See Poole on "Mark 13:11". We must not think that our Saviour by this forbids us what is naturally impossible for us to avoid, that is, the forming of those words first in our thoughts which we speak, nor yet a prudent thinking beforehand what we should speak; but an anxious thinking what we should speak, such a thinking as should argue a distrust in God to carry its through with that testimony which he calleth us forth to give.
For, saith he, I will give you a mouth and wisdom. So he promised Moses, that he would be with his mouth, and teach him what to say, Exodus 4:12,15. And he tells Ezekiel, that he would open his mouth, Ezekiel 3:27. Here he promises the disciples a mouth and wisdom, that is, such wisdom as should guide their tongues when they should be called out to testify for him. This was made good to Stephen, Acts 6:9,10; the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, those of Cilicia and Asia, were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spake. Thus it fared with Peter and John, Acts 4:8-13.
By resist we must understand conquer, or victoriously resist. The enemies of the gospel have been always opposing and resisting the patrons and witnesses of and for the truth, but never yet made a conquest: let any indifferent reader but read, and judge the accounts we have of the conflicts between the papists and the protestants in the beginning of the Reformation, or between the papists and the martyrs in Queen Mary’s days in this nation, and judge on whose side there was most Scripture and reason. This promise hath been fulfilling from Christ’s time even to this day. It is true, the enemies have been able to kill the persons of Christ’s disciples; they stoned Stephen, killed James with the sword, Acts 7:12; they crucified Peter and Andrew, stoned Philip, banished John into Patmos, flayed Bartholomew, beheaded Matthew, and various ways destroyed many in the first and most furious times, and have slain many thousands since; but the truths which they preached prevailed.
For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.Ver. 15. See Poole on "Luke 21:14"
And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.Ver. 16,17. See Poole on "Matthew 24:9", See Poole on "Matthew 24:10", See Poole on "Mark 8:12", See Poole on "Mark 8:13".
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.See Poole on "Luke 21:16"
But there shall not an hair of your head perish.It is a proverbial speech, signifying that they should have no hurt or damage by any thing which their enemies should do against them. When at the last you come to cast up your accounts, you shall find you have lost nothing, and your enemies shall also find that they have gained nothing.
In your patience possess ye your souls.Patience is either passive, seen in a quiet, free, and courageous suffering those evils which God will please in his providence to order us for our portion; or active, seen in a quiet believing, waiting for, and expectation of what God hath promised.
Possess your souls, that is, yourselves; do not decline suffering for my name’s sake, but live in the exercise of Christian courage and fortitude until the Lord will please to release you. In this sense James expounds this prase, Jam 1:4, But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Others say, possess your souls is the same with save your souls. So it seems to be expounded by Matthew 24:13, and Mark 8:13, But he that shall endure to the end shall be saved.
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.Ver. 20-22. After our Saviour’s ascension, the seditions amongst the Jews were so many, and they rebelled so often against the Romans, during the governments of Felix, Festus, Albinus, and Florus, that the Romans resolved wholly to destroy them, and to that purpose Titus Vespasian was sent with an army against them, who took the city. Our Saviour foresaw, that when that time should come there would be some vain persons full of stomach for their liberties, that would be prophesying their deliverance, and encouraging them to hold out to the last. He warns his disciples to give no credit to them, for God would certainly deliver the city into their hands; therefore he advises them, as soon as they should see the city besieged, they should all shift for themselves as first as they could, for there was no true ground to hope for any deliverance. The time of God’s vengeance was come, when God would most certainly fulfil against that place whatsoever he had foretold against it.
Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.See Poole on "Luke 21:20"
For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.See Poole on "Luke 21:21"
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, and wrath upon this people.Ver. 23,24. Josephus tells us, that in the wars which ended in the taking of Jerusalem, by the famine and the sword there perished one million one hundred thousand Jews, and ninety seven thousand were carried into captivity. Jerusalem ever since that time hath been
trodden down by the Gentiles, the Romans, Saracens, Franks, and is at this day trodden of the Turks.
Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Some from this text think, that there shall be a time when the Jews shall repossess the city of Jerusalem. Whether any such thing can be from hence gathered, I doubt. Some here by the times of the Gentiles understand all that time between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. Others, the time when the gospel should be carried over all the world. But their opinion seemeth to me most probable, who interpret it of the time of God’s patience with the Gentiles. As the Jews have filled up their measure, and now the wrath of God is come upon them to the uttermost, so the Gentiles shall have their time also. The Romans have had their time, the Turks now have their time; but their glass is also running out, there will be a fulfilling of their time too, and whether then another sort of barbarians shall possess it, or the Jews or Christians shall recover it, time must interpret.
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.See Poole on "Luke 21:23"
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;Ver. 25,26. We may easily imagine, that this was eminently fulfilled in the siege of Jerusalem, that men’s hearts failed them for fear; and for prodigies, we are told of enough, both by Josephus and Tacitus, the latter tells us, that armies were seen fighting in the air with glistering armour, and the temple seemed all as on fire with lightning; he also tells us of the voice heard, and throwing open of the doors of the temple, before mentioned; but tells us few were affected, but built hopes upon a tradition they had, That now was the time ut valesceret Oriens; which was true enough, but not in their sense. But what is spoken here certainly relates to the day of judgment, before which prodigious things will be seen, 2 Peter 3:10,12; and it follows, (see Luke 21:27,28).
Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.See Poole on "Luke 21:25"
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.Ver. 27,28. Matthew seemeth to expound this, Matthew 24:31; so doth Mark 13:27. Both speak to the same sense: And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from, one end of heaven to the other. This is certainly to be understood of the day of judgment, when the saints shall be glorified as the sons of God by adoption, and obtain the redemption of the body, Romans 8:23.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.See Poole on "Luke 21:27"
And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;Ver. 29-33. We had this same parable both in Matthew and Mark. See Poole on "Matthew 24:32", and following verses to Matthew 24:35. See Poole on "Mark 13:28", and following verses to Mark 13:31.
When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.See Poole on "Luke 21:29"
So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.See Poole on "Luke 21:29"
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.Ver. 32. See Poole on "Luke 21:29"
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.Ver. 33. See Poole on "Luke 21:29"
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.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.
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.See Poole on "Luke 21:34"
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.See Poole on "Luke 21:34"
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.Ver. 37,38 In these two verses our evangelist letteth us knew how Christ spent those few days which he had yet to live. In the day time he was in the temple preaching; in the evening he was on the mount of Olives praying; to teach all those, who as under shepherds derive from him, who is the true and chief Shepherd, how they should spend their time, preaching and praying. Though the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, and the chief of the Jews, maligned and despised him, yet many of the people paid him a due respect, and
came early in the morning to hear him. In the world’s reception and entertainment of Christ, that of the apostle was verified, Not many rich, not many wise, &c.; but the poor of this world hath God chosen.
And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.See Poole on "Luke 21:37"