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Prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem

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By prof. A. P. Lopukhin

Chapter 21. 1-4. The widow’s two lepts. 5-38. Prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming of Christ.

Luke 21:1. And when he lifted up his eyes, he saw the rich putting their contributions into the treasury;

The story of the widow who dropped two shekels into the temple treasury is an almost exact repetition of the story of the evangelist Mark (see the interpretation of Mark 12:41-44).

“raised his eyes”. Until then, the Lord had been talking to His disciples. Now He looks around at the people entering the temple and sees the widow.

“contribute” – more precisely “to the gifts” (εἰς τὰ δῶρα), i.e. the rich added of themselves to the gifts that were in the treasury.

Luke 21:2. he also saw a poor widow who was putting in two leptas there,

Luke 21:3. and said: I tell you the truth, this poor widow let go more than all;

Luke 21:4. for all these out of their surplus gave offerings to God, and she out of her idleness gave out all her sustenance that she had.

Luke 21:5. And when some spoke of the temple as being adorned with fine stones and offerings, He said:

The introduction to the discourse on the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world is presented according to the Gospel of Mark with abbreviations (see the interpretation of Mark 13:1-4).

“some”. In all probability Christ’s disciples are meant here (cf. verse 7 and Mark 13:1).

“nice stones”. (cf. Mark 13:1).

“offerings” (ἀναθήμασι). These are various donations to the temple made on famous occasions, such as the golden vine given by Herod the Great (Josephus. “The Jewish War”, VI, 5, 2).

Luke 21:6. days will come when of what you see here, not one stone will be left upon another that will not be thrown down.

Luke 21:7. And they asked Him, saying, Master, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things take place?

“when will that be”. Evidently the questioners have in mind only the destruction of Jerusalem, but since this fact in their ideas was closely connected with the destruction of the world, they ask nothing about the latter (cf. Mark 13:4).

Luke 21:8. And He said: beware, lest you be deceived; for many shall come in my name, saying that I am he, and that the time is at hand. Do not go, therefore, after them.

Here the Lord speaks of the foreshadowing of the coming Messianic time, the time of the opening of the glorious kingdom of the Messiah.

Luke 21:9. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be afraid, for this must happen first; but it won’t be the end right away.

Luke 21:10. Then he said to them: nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;

“Then he said to them,” i.e. after the preliminary admonition he began to describe the impending disasters.

Luke 21:11. in places there will be great earthquakes and famine and pestilence, and there will be terrors and great omens from heaven.

“in places”, i.e. now there, now in another place.

“from the sky”. This definition applies to both the preceding expressions “appearances” and “signs”. More details are given in the interpretations of Mark 13:6-8; Matt. 24:4-7.

Luke 21:12. And before all this, they will lay hands on you and drive you out, handing you over to synagogues and prisons and bringing you before kings and rulers, for My name’s sake;

Evangelist Luke describes the calamities that will befall Christ’s disciples before that time, generally in accordance with Mark (Mark 13:9-13).

“before all these,” i.e. these calamities will befall you even before the destruction of Jerusalem.

Luke 21:13. and this shall be for you as a witness.

“it will be for your testimony”, i.e. through this you will be able to show your loyalty to Me.

Luke 21:14. So take heart not to think beforehand what to answer,

Luke 21:15. for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to contradict, nor resist.

“mouth”, i.e. the ability to speak eloquently and persuasively. This is what the apostles received when the Holy Spirit was sent upon them (see Acts 6:10).

Luke 21:16. You will also be betrayed by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death;

Luke 21:17. and ye shall be hated of all, for my name’s sake;

Luke 21:18. but not a hair of your head shall perish;

“and not a hair of your head shall perish.” According to the usual interpretation (see, for example, the Interpretation of the Gospel by Bishop Mikhail Luzin) here it is said that God will protect the disciples, preserve their lives, necessary for the preaching of the Gospel. But such an explanation does not accord with the expression in verse 16: “some of you shall put to death.” The more likely view is that this is talking about the spiritual preservation of the disciples – “none of the above will harm you in the work of your salvation”. The meaning of verse 19 corresponds to this interpretation, where it is undoubtedly said that through patience in suffering Christ’s disciples will be preserved for eternal true life (Mark 13:13). Finally, we could understand this place in such a way that even if the apostles suffered miseries and torments, it would be only where it was permitted by God (cf. Matt. 10:30).

Luke 21:19. by your patience save your souls.

Luke 21:20. And when you see Jerusalem besieged by armies, then know that its desolation is near;

About the destruction of Jerusalem Evangelist Luke speaks, in general, according to Mark (Mark 13:14 ff.), but there are some peculiarities.

“Jerusalem surrounded by troops”. Some (in our country, Bishop Michael Luzin) suggest that the evangelist Luke here explains what the “abomination of desolation” that Mark (and Matthew) speaks of is. But such an interpretation has no basis. Surrounding a city with troops is not yet “deserting” it…

Luke 21:21. then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let those who are in the city go out of it; and let those who are in the surrounding area not enter it,

“who are in Judea.” This applies to the disciples of Christ, as is evident from verse 20 (“see” – “know”). Therefore, an opportunity to escape from the city will still exist even though the city will be surrounded (verse 20).

Luke 21:22. for these days are of vengeance, that all that is written may be fulfilled.

“to fulfill all that is written”. Implied here are the numerous prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem, including Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks (Dan. 9:26-27).

Luke 21:23. And woe to those who are not empty and to nursing mothers in those days; for great trouble shall be upon the earth, and wrath upon that people;

Luke 21:24. and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be carried away captive among all the nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are ended.

“under the blade of the sword”. More precisely, “from the mouth of the sword” (στόματι μαχαίρας). The sword is represented as a biting beast (cf. Gen. 34:26; Deut. 13:15). According to Josephus, about one million Jews died during the siege and capture of Jerusalem.

“will be taken into captivity”. Ninety-seven thousand people were taken captive – most of them in Egypt and other provinces.

“Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles”. Here the city is represented as a person whom the Gentiles will treat with extreme contempt (cf. Is. 10:6; Rev. 11:2).

“until the times of the Gentiles are ended,” i.e. until the period of time appointed for the Gentiles to fulfill God’s judgment on the Jewish people had expired (St. John Chrysostom). These “times” (καιροί) must end with the second coming of Christ (cf. verses 25-27), which must occur while the hearers of this speech are still alive (verse 28: “lift up your heads”). Therefore, it cannot be a question of a long period of time, and hence a prophecy of the fall of paganism under Constantine the Great, much less of the conversion of “the whole number of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25) to Christ. It is clear that under the coming of Christ here should be understood not His coming before the end of the world, but His coming in the Holy Spirit, or else the speech about the second coming should be considered as spoken in the spirit of the Old Testament prophecies (see the interpretation to Matt. 24).

Luke 21:25. And there will be omens in the sun and the moon and in the stars, and on the earth sadness among the peoples from perplexity and from the noise and excitement of the sea;

The second coming will be preceded by special signs spoken of by the evangelist Luke, coming closer to the Gospel of Mark (see Mark 13:24-31).

“omens on the sun”. Cf. Mark 13:24.

“sadness among the nations from perplexity”. More precisely: the sadness of the nations in a hopeless state of spirit before the noise of the sea and the waves (the noise of the sea and its agitation is precisely what people will stand before in a hopeless state of spirit, συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ).

Luke 21:26. then men will resign themselves from fear and from expectation of what is about to fall upon the universe, because the powers of heaven will also be shaken,

“resign from fear”. As the imagery grows stronger, we are to see here not mere impotence, but the outright letting out of the last breath of men. Hence the more accurate translation: “they will die of fear” (ἀποψυχόντων ἀνθρώπων ἀπὸ φόβου).

“the powers of heaven will be shaken”. This will be the cause of the extraordinary agitation of the sea and of other disturbances in the world.

Luke 21:27. and then they will see the Son of Man coming on clouds with power and great glory.

Luke 21:28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then stand up and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.

“your deliverance” is the same as “revenge on the elect” (Luke 18:7). The judgment of the wicked and the glorification of those who suffer for the name of Christ will begin.

Luke 21:29. And he told them a parable: look at the fig tree and all the trees:

As the fig tree, when its leaves blossom, indicates the coming of summer, so the appearance of these signs and the transformation of the universe is a sign that “summer” is coming, i.e. The kingdom of God, which to the righteous comes as summer after winter and storm. At the same time, for sinners then comes the winter and the storm. For they consider the present age to be summer, and the age to come is a storm to them. (Blessed Theophylact).

Luke 21:30. when they already drive, and you see this, you yourself know that it is almost summer.

Luke 21:31. Therefore, when you see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is near.

Luke 21:32. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled.

Luke 21:33. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

Luke 21:34. Therefore, take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be vexed with overeating, drunkenness, and cares of life, and that day overtake you suddenly;

The admonitional character at the end of this speech is seen in both Matthew and Mark, but in Mark and Matthew the exhortation is much simpler and shorter (cf. Mark 13:33ff.; Matt. 24:42).

“overeating” – more precisely: “hangover” as a result of last night’s intoxication (κραιπάλῃ), as opposed to drunkenness (μέθῃ).

“that day”, i.e. the day of the Second Coming and judgment.

“to catch up with you”. This day is personified as catching people unexpectedly.

Luke 21:35. for he shall come as a snare upon all that dwell upon the whole face of the earth;

That day will come suddenly, and as it will be a day of reward for all faithful servants, so it will be a day of punishment for all who fall short of their calling and are not prepared for the great day.

“like a snare” (παγὶς) – the net that hunters throw over animals or birds (cf. Is. 24:17).

Luke 21:36. and therefore watch at all times and pray, that you may escape all that is to come, and stand before the Son of Man.

“at any time”. This expression is more properly connected with the word “pray” (δεόμενοι), because the Lord also spoke above about constant prayer (Luke 18:1-7).

“so that you may” is the purpose and with it the content of the prayer. According to the best codices it reads here: to have power, to be able (κατισχύσατε, not καταξιωθῆτε).

“avoided all that”, i.e. to pass safely through all the dangers that will befall you, and to save your life, i. their position as God’s elect (cf. verse 19 and Luke 18:7).

“to stand up through the Son of Man” (cf. Mark 13:27). The elect will be placed (σταθῆναι) before Christ by the angels and form a chosen retinue around Him (cf. 1 Thess. 4:17). This is not about judging those chosen by God.

Luke 21:37. During the day He taught in the temple, and when He went out, He spent the nights on the Mount of Olives.

Here is an overview of Christ’s activity during the last period of His life. During the day, the Lord continues to speak in the temple as a teacher, not afraid of enemies, but at night he withdraws to the Mount of Olives (cf. Mark 11:19).

Luke 21:38. And all the people came to Him in the temple to listen to Him.

Source in Russian: Explanatory Bible, or Commentaries on all the books of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments: In 7 volumes / Ed. prof. A. P. Lopukhin. – Ed. 4th. – Moscow: Dar, 2009, 1232 pp.

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