Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 11 May 2021
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. Scripture quotations may be taken from different Bible versions. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Special Terms: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), ADONAI (for the sacred name YHVH), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Please see the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Luke and his book.
Luke continues the narrative of the previous chapter in which Yeshua is in the temple teaching (20:1). The chapter division is arbitrary and the first four verses could have been included in Chapter Twenty since the story of the widow complements the condemnation of the scribes that "devour widows' houses (20:47). Here the quiet sacrificial giving of the widow is contrasted with the greed of the scribes and the calculated giving of the rich.
Beginning in verse 5 through verse 36 is Luke's version of the lengthy sermon commonly known as the Olivet Discourse, because it took place on the Mount of Olives (Matt 24:3), perhaps in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Luke 22:39). The discourse is also found in Matthew, Chapter Twenty-Four and Mark, Chapter Thirteen. The three apostolic narratives present substantially the same information, but each does have distinctive content. In Matthew the discourse continues into Chapter Twenty-Five, which is not found in Mark or Luke. For a parallel presentation of the verses see the chart here. The structure and unique content in the narratives reflect the editorial decisions of the apostles.
Considerable scholarly debate has arisen concerning the content of the sermon, but there is no good reason not to accept the sermon as the authentic words of Yeshua. Some scholars liken this sermon to Jewish apocalyptic works that flourished for a century before Yeshua. Such Jewish writings have been classified as apocalyptic because they include vivid imagery and symbolism to communicate that there is no hope in this present age, but at some point in the future history will end in a cosmic catastrophe, the wicked will be punished and the persecuted righteous rewarded.
Yeshua's sermon departs from the typical Jewish apocalyptic by avoiding the symbolic language of those works and offers a confident fulfillment of Jewish expectation for the Messiah to reign over the earth. The discourse is presented as Yeshua's response to questions posed by his apostles and serves as a reality check to their expectations for the restoration of Israel's sovereignty and an immediate establishment of Messiah's kingdom (cf. Acts 1:6). Yeshua prophesies the future in a straightforward manner with warnings to his apostles of difficult times for them and proclamation of events beyond their days that will lead to the glorious Second Coming at the end of the age.
The Olivet Discourse offers no support to the Dispensationalist doctrine of a secret rapture of God's people and the assertion that Yeshua could come at any time. See my article The Rapture in which I rebut this popular teaching. Yeshua set forth a clear prophetic calendar and anyone who says that fulfillment of prophecy is not necessary or that events won't transpire as presented in this discourse essentially questions the integrity of Yeshua. Yeshua will return to earth when all prophecy has been fulfilled.
The Widow's Generosity, 21:1-4
Destruction of the Temple, 21:5-7
Last Days: First Things, 21:8-11
Judgment before Authorities, 21:12-15
Betrayal and Hatred, 21:16-19
Times of the Gentiles, 21:20-24
Last Days: Last Things, 21:25-28
Parable of the Fig Tree, 21:29-33
Admonition for Readiness, 21:34-36
Passion Week Schedule, 21:37-38
The Widow's Generosity, 21:1-4
Parallel Passage: Mark 12:41-44
1 Now having looked up he saw those wealthy casting their gifts into the treasury.
Luke continues the narrative of the previous chapter in which Yeshua is in the temple teaching (20:1). The incident that follows occurred on Tuesday of Yeshua's final week (cf. Mark 11:11-12, 19-20, 27).
Now: Grk. de, conj., conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. having looked up: Grk. anablepō (from ana, "upwards," and blepō, "to see"), aor. part., may mean (1) to shift one's gaze upward; or (2) to be able to see after a period without sight. The first meaning applies here.
he saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive physically with the eye, as well as to see with the mind (inward spiritual perception). those: Grk. ho, m. pl., definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. wealthy: Grk. plousios, adj., m. pl., possessing in abundance; rich, wealthy. casting: Grk. ballō, pl. pres. part., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The first usage is intended here.
their: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. gifts: Grk. dōron, n. pl., a gift in general or a sacrificial donation or offering. into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the verb to indicate completion of movement.
the treasury: Grk. ho gazophulakion, treasure room or treasury; also contribution box or receptacle (BAG). The term occurs in the plural form in the Apocrypha: "And he [Antiochus] opened his coffers and gave a year's pay to his forces, and ordered them to be ready for any need" (1Macc. 3:28). The singular form of the noun, as occurs here, is also used for the location in which copies of a decree inscribed on bronze tablets was placed (1Macc. 14:49) and as the depository of large sums of money (2Macc. 3:6).
The treasury consisted of receptacles located in the Court of the Women of the temple. Description of the treasury and rules for accountability of offerings received may be found in the Mishnah Tractate Shekalim. The word "treasury" in this context, being a singular noun, probably refers to the provision for receiving gifts and offerings as well as those who supervised the collection and accounting of monetary gifts.
Receptacles could be found in two forms. First, there were two treasury vaults, one called 'chamber of the silent,' the other 'chamber of utensils.' In the former, devout men secretly gave charitable monetary gifts, and the poor of good family received there secretly their sustenance. In the other chamber, every one who desired to offer a utensil voluntarily left it there. Every thirty days the treasurers opened the chamber, and every utensil found to be fit for the maintenance of the Temple was preserved, while the others were sold and the proceeds went to the treasury for the maintenance of the Temple (Shekalim 5:6).
Second, there were thirteen trumpet-like chests (Heb. Shopharoth) placed at intervals around the walls in the Court of the Women of the temple (Shekalim 6:1, 5-6). The chests were made of brass and because of the shofar-like shape were called trumpets. The trumpet-chests were shaped wide at the bottom and narrow at the top to prevent dishonest people from taking out coins while pretending to cast them in. The specific purpose of each chest was marked on it (Shekalim 6:5). Nine were for the receipt of required offerings; the other four for strictly voluntary gifts. Edersheim explained the allocations as follows:
Chests I and II: were appropriated to the half-shekel Temple-tribute of the current and of the past year.
Chest III: those women who had to bring turtledoves for a burnt offering and a sin offering dropped their equivalent in money, which was daily taken out and a corresponding number of turtledoves offered. This not only saved the labor of so many separate sacrifices, but spared the modesty of those who might not wish to have the occasion or the circumstances of their offering to be publicly known.
Chest IV: the value of the offerings of young pigeons.
Chest V: contributions for the wood used in the Temple.
Chest VI: contributions for the incense.
Chest VII: contributions for the golden vessels used in ministry.
Chest VIII: If a man had put aside a certain sum for a sin-offering, and any money was left over after its purchase, it was cast into this chest.
Chests IX, X, XI, XII, and XIII: These chests received what was left over from trespass-offerings, offerings of birds, the offering of the Nazirite, of the cleansed leper, and voluntary offerings. (Edersheim-Temple 25)
It might appear from the text that the treasury was a location for giving alms (charity) for the poor, but only the 'chamber of the silent' had any benefit for the poor. The trumpet-chests, as described by the Mishnah and Edersheim, were for gifts to God and the Temple, not gifts to the poor.
The brass chests made a very recognizable sound as the coins were dropped into them. Dropping a large number of coins in at once was called "sounding the trumpet" (cf. Matt 6:2). Yeshua observed the rich making their contributions, but was unimpressed.
2 Then he saw a certain poor widow casting two coins there.
Then: Grk. de, conj. he saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See the previous verse. The subject of the verb is Yeshua. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone of consequence in contrast to others, or to denote a collective commonality of those in a group, the former in this instance. poor: Grk. penichros, adj., needy, poor. In the LXX penichros translates Heb. ani (SH-6041), poor, afflicted, humble (Ex 22:25). The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. widow: Grk. chēra, a woman bereft of her husband.
The widow entered the Court of the Women beyond which she could not go. It's not surprising that Yeshua would notice a widow after his indictment of scribes for injustice against widows (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). Three specific widows are mentioned in the apostolic narratives as contemporaries of Yeshua. The first was Anna who served in the temple with fasting and prayer (Luke 2:37-38). She was 84 at the time of Yeshua's birth. The second widow was in the city of Nain (Luke 7:11-12). Her son had died and was about to be buried, but Yeshua raised him to life. The widow Yeshua observed in the treasury is the third.
Yeshua also spoke of two other widows. The first occurred early in his ministry when he spoke at the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:25). He observed that while there were many widows in the time of Elijah, only one in Zarephath received Elijah's help. (1Kings 17). The second widow figured in a parable (Luke 18:1-3), who repeatedly sought the aid of a judge to do justice for her. The story was likely based on a real case.
casting: Grk. ballō, pres. part. See the previous verse. two: Grk. duo, the number two. coins: Grk. lepta, n. pl., a copper or bronze Judean coin worth half of a denarius, i.e. of very little value (HELPS). BAG says the coin was worth normally worth about one-eighth of a cent. The coin was originally minted during the Maccabean period. there: Grk. ekei, adv., there, in that place.
Since the widow's poverty was severe, one wonders how she came to have the two coins. Perhaps she sold a possession for the purpose. The verse raises a number of questions: Where did the widow cast her coins? How did Yeshua know the amount of the widow's donation? How did he know she was poor? Could he have known her? How old was the widow? Why would a poor widow contribute to a corrupt Temple? Why would the widow give when her own poverty probably qualified her for support from the synagogue? (cf. 1Tim 5:9)
Some versions assume the widow put her coins in one of the trumpet-chests, but she probably didn't. The purpose of each chest determined the minimum amount of money that could be put in. Two lepta would not have come close to the specified amount for any of the chests. Her two coins could not have even paid for a dove. The widow probably just cast her coins on to the floor next to one of the chests. Rabbinic rules specified that money found on the floor would go to the purpose of the chest to which it was closest (M. Shekalim 7:1). This would explain how Yeshua knew the amount of her gift and ipso facto that she was poor.
3 And he said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow cast more than all;
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. he said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative.
Truly: Grk. alēthōs, adv., corresponding to what is really so; truly, really, actually. I say: Grk. legō, pres. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. that: Grk. hoti, conj. used for (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as; or (4) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks. The second usage applies here.
this: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. poor: Grk. ptōchos, adj., in a needy condition that is the opposite of having much, usually of someone in a relatively indigent state. In Scripture the poor often have no means of earning wages. In the LXX ptōchos occurs 100 times and renders four different Hebrew words with a range of meaning: (1) the very poor and homeless, even reduced to seeking alms (Heb. ebyon, Ex 23:11), (2) those economically and legally oppressed (Heb. ani, Lev 19:10), (3) physically weak or thin from want (Heb. dal, Lev 19:15), and (4) poor in a social and economic sense, esp. in contrast to the rich (Heb. rush, 2Sam 12:3) (DNTT 2:821f).
widow: Grk. ho chēra. See the previous verse. cast: Grk. ballō, aor. See verse 1 above. more than: Grk. pleiōn, adj., the comparative form of polus (great in number), greater in quantity. all: Grk. pas, m. pl., adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. Yeshua draws the attention of his disciples to the widow as a model of generosity, perhaps in contrast to the disciples who were too enamored with the importance of wealth (cf. Mark 10:25-26). The love of money is the root of many evils (1Tim 6:10), both in the world and within organized religion.
The widow's donation is significant since she could have kept one of the coins for herself. The lesson is still important. Poverty is no excuse for stinginess and even a small charitable gift has great value to God (Matt 10:42; Mark 9:41). The amount of giving must be measured in terms of one's ability (cf. 1Cor 16:2) and as one desires without manipulation or guilt (2Cor 9:7). The widow is an example to emulate because she gave when she had no obligation to give. In fact, she should have been the object of the temple's largesse, not a contributor to it.
4 for all these out of that which was abounding to them cast in gifts; but she out of her poverty cast all the livelihood that she had."
for: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. all: Grk. pas, adj., m. pl. See the previous verse. these: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, m. pl., signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. out of: Grk. ek, prep. may be used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; from, out of, out from among. that which: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun.
was abounding: Grk. perisseuō, pres. part., may mean (1) be above or beyond in number, amount, or quality; or (2) cause to abound. The second meaning applies. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, m. pl. cast: Grk. ballō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. in: Grk. eis, prep. gifts: Grk. dōron, n. pl. See verse 1 above. but: Grk. de, conj. she: Grk. autē, personal pronoun. out of: Grk. ek. her: Grk. autēs. poverty: Grk. husterēma, that which is lacking to meet requirements for sustenance; lack, deficiency. cast: Grk. ballō, aor. all: Grk. pas. the livelihood: Grk. ho bios, may mean (1) state of being alive; or (2) circumstances connected with conducting one's life or maintaining it. The second meaning applies here.
that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. she had: Grk. echō, impf., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. Relative to this verse is the Rabbinic restriction on charitable giving: "No one should give away more than the fifth of his fortune lest from independence he may lapse into a state of dependence" (Ketubot 50a). In other words, rabbis generally did not believe in giving until it hurts. In any event, Yeshua's assessment does not actually denigrate the giving of the rich.
Edersheim suggests that this description of the widow giving out of her poverty is what she had to live upon for that day (741). The narrative does not offer any explanation of her means of support, but unless one wants to assert divine omniscience this description of her contribution suggests that Yeshua had personal knowledge of her situation. Nevertheless, the sacrificial generosity of the widow served as an acted out parable. She gave everything to God and Yeshua gave everything to men. Paul would later praise the Macedonian congregation for this same spirit of giving (2Cor 8:2-3).
Destruction of the Temple, 21:5-7
5 And as some were speaking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive offerings, He said,
Parallel Passages: Matt 24:1; Mark 13:1
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition, with three basic uses: (1) continuative; (2) adversative; or (3) intensive. as some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 2 above. of the disciples were speaking: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. See verse 3 above. about: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect; in behalf of, about, concerning. the temple: Grk. ho hieron, sanctuary or temple, here referring to the entire 35-acre complex of the Jerusalem temple with its courts, rooms, and chambers, in contrast to naios, the holy place where priests performed their sacrifices.
For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. that it was adorned: Grk. kosmeō, perf. pass., to make orderly, to put in order, to adorn, to decorate, to make beautiful or attractive. with beautiful: pl. of Grk. kalos, adj., meeting a high standard, attractively good; good that inspires or motivates others to embrace what is lovely, beautiful, or praiseworthy (HELPS). stones: pl. of Grk. lithos, a generic word for stone of various types. and things dedicated to God: pl. of Grk. anathēma, that which is set up, a gift consecrated or dedicated to God and placed (or hung up) in the temple. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun occurs in the Apocrypha (3Macc 3:17; Judith 16:19; Epistle of Aristeas 40). Josephus made reference to such gifts placed in the temple. (Ant. XVII, 6:3; Wars VI, 6:2).
Herod commenced construction of the new temple c. 20 BC (Josephus, Ant. XV, 11:1) and work on the temple continued during Yeshua's time (John 2:20). The entire temple complex was not completed until the procuratorship of Albinus (AD 62-64) (Ant. XX, 9:7). For a description of the construction and characteristics of Herod's temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. See an illustration here.
As any Jew of that time the disciples were clearly awed by the temple construction. The Talmud expresses Jewish pride in the temple with these words, "He who has not seen Jerusalem in her splendor, has never seen a desirable city in his life. He who has not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in his life" (Sukkah 51b; Baba Bathra 4a). Tacitus, the Roman historian, described the building as a "temple of immense wealth" (History, V, 8).
He said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. The verb is used here to introduce a quotation that occurs in the next verse, in which it should have been placed. Chapter and verse divisions are purely arbitrary, since the original Greek MSS had neither. Chapter divisions were introduced by Stephen Langton in 1227 and verse divisions were inserted by Robert Estienne in the 1551 edition of his Greek text (Textus Receptus). Chapter and verse divisions are not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
6 "As for these things which you are beholding, days will come in which not a stone will be left upon a stone here which will not be thrown down."
Parallel Passages: Matt 24:2; Mark 13:2
As for these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you are beholding: Grk. theōreō, pres., 2p-pl., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; consider, infer, see; or (3) have awareness in depth; perceive, experience. The first meaning has primary application here. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The fourth meaning applies here.
will come: Grk. erchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl., 'to come or arrive,' often with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. in which: Grk. hos. not a stone: Grk. lithos. will be left: Grk. aphiēmi, fut. pass., to release or let go, with a wide range of meaning. The verb has the sense here of left standing or left in place. upon a stone: Grk. lithos. here: Grk. hōde, adv. of place, here or in this place. which will not be thrown down: Grk. kataluō, fut. pass., to tear down, to destroy or to demolish, lit. "loosened down." Only the foundation stones would remain after the destruction. The description reflects the manner of conquest of cities in antiquity.
As the disciples were remarking on the wonder of so great an edifice and perhaps fantasizing about when the temple would be under the Messiah’s control (and theirs), Yeshua bursts their bubble with an ominous and deeply disturbing prophecy. However, Yeshua had already prophesied destruction during his grand entrance into Jerusalem on the first day of the week that ended with his crucifixion. Yeshua stopped before entering Jerusalem and made the heart-rending announcement:
41 As He drew near and saw Jerusalem, He wept over her, 42 saying, "If only you had recognized this day the things that lead to shalom! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with barricades and hem you in on all sides. 44 And they will smash you to the ground—you and your children within you. And they won’t leave within you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:41-44 TLV)
The description of the Temple's destruction reflects the manner of conquest of cities in antiquity. The prediction would come to pass in all its literal horror in AD 70, thus validating Yeshua as a prophet sent from God. Josephus provides a first hand description.
"Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple … it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. (Wars VII, 7:1)
Talmudic scholars would later record various reasons for the destruction of Jerusalem (Shabbath 119b), such as
· Desecration of the Sabbath [citing Ezek 22:26].
· Neglect of reading of the Shema morning and evening which led to a lack of knowledge [citing Isa 5:11-13].
· Neglect of the education of school children [citing Jer 6:11].
· Not being ashamed of each other when they committed abominations [citing Jer 6:15].
· Making the small and the great equal [citing Isa 24:2-3].
· Failing to rebuke each other [citing Lam 1:6].
· Despising scholars, mocking the messengers of God, and scoffing at His prophets [citing 2Chr 36:16].
· Men of faith ceased therein [citing Jer 5:1].
While all the suggested reasons might have merit, the "mocking the messengers of God, and scoffing at His prophets" comes closest to the reason Yeshua gave for the impending destruction.
7 Then they questioned him, saying, "Teacher, then when will be these things, and what will be the sign when these things are about to happen?"
Parallel Passages: Matt 24:3; Mark 13:3
Then: Grk. de, conj., which may be used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement; (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter; or (3) to continue a thought. The second meaning applies here. they questioned: Grk. eperōtaō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) put a question to, ask; or (2) make a request, ask for. The first meaning applies here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning is intended here.
saying: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. See verse 3 above. According to the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark the questioning of the disciples and the teaching that followed occurred on the Mount of Olives.
Teacher: Grk. didaskalos, teacher or instructor who regularly engaged in the imparting of knowledge or skills, a vocation of special status among the Israelites. In the LXX didaskalos occurs only twice: in Esther 6:1 for Heb. qara (SH-7121), "one who reads," and in 2Maccabees 1:10 to denote Aristobulus, the head of the Egyptian Jewish community. Elsewhere didaskalos is used interchangeably with rhabbi (Matt 23:8; John 1:38; 3:2), but John points out for Gentile readers that didaskalos serves to translate Rhabbouni.
then: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. pote, interrogative adv., when, at what time. will be: Grk. eimi, fut., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. and what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. will be the sign: Grk. ho sēmeion, something that confirms or validates through display of transcendent power, usually an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle," first used in Genesis 1:14 of the stars (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit, such as the plagues on Egypt (Ex 7:3).
when: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' these things: pl. of Grk. houtos. are about: Grk. mellō, pres. subj., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to, intending. to happen: Grk. ginomai, pres. pass. inf., to become, and here means to come to pass or happen in reference to historical events or something happening to someone. Mark concurs with the form of the question posed to Yeshua, but Matthew presents the questions differently: "when will these things be, and what is the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
The two questions presented here, phrased in the manner of Hebraic parallelism, may allude to similar words found in Jeremiah and Daniel,
"19 So it will come to pass that when you ask, 'Why has ADONAI Eloheinu done all these things to us?' you will tell them, 'As you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so will you serve strangers in a land that is not yours.'" (Jer 5:19 TLV)
12 "At that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has never occurred since the beginning of the nation until then. But at that time your people—everyone who is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake—some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt. ... 6 One said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long until the end of the wondrous things?" (Dan 12:1-2, 6 TLV)
These questions were of immediate significance to Israel, yet they are still being asked. Since the triumphal entry Yeshua had told several parables about His mission and the fulfillment of the kingdom, taught on the resurrection and had just prophesied that the temple would be destroyed. Asking "when" seems insensitive on the face of it, but it's an important question. If destruction is coming they want to be able to prepare for it.
Last Days: First Things, 21:8-11
8 And He said, "Take heed lest you be deceived; for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not go after them.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:4-5; Mark 13:5-6
And: Grk. de, conj. He said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. Beware: Grk. blepō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., to see, here to have inward or mental sight. The verb is used here in sense of entreating disciples to beware of danger. Yeshua could have issued the command without this verb but he engages in a play on words. They need to look beyond what can be perceived with the physical eyes. lest: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. The negative particle when used after verbs of fearing or caution introduces a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring vigilance.
you be deceived: Grk. planaō, aor. pass. subj., to cause to go astray, in the sense of leading one from a standard of truth or conduct; deceive, mislead. This term nearly always conveys the sin of roaming into error (HELPS). for: Grk. gar, a particle shaped by the preceding statement and may be used to express (1) cause, (2) explanation, (3) inference or (4) continuation; certainly it follows that, for, indeed. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high number. will come: Grk. erchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl., to come, come back, return or appear and in a few instances, to go.
in: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; but here the preposition has a figurative meaning here of "on the basis of" or "on the authority of." my: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. This phrase is a claim of authority from Yeshua. saying: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. The plural form indicates the action of the "many."
'I: Grk. egō. am he: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. In Matthew's version the sentence completed is "I am the Messiah." The phrasing here may suggest "I am someone Yeshua has authorized to speak for him." However, the literal declaration "I am" could also be an imitation of Yeshua's own assertion of "I AM," an affirmation with overtones of deity. See my comment on John 6:20.
and: Grk. kai, conj. The following clause is not found in Matthew or Mark. The time: Grk. ho kairos, time or season, and here refers to a fixed and definite time. Derived from kara ("head") referring to things "coming to a head" to take full-advantage of time; thus kairos is "the suitable time, the right moment, a favorable moment" (DNTT 3:833). Kairos is used here specifically of a God-appointed or predestined time. is near: Grk. engizō, perf., come or draw near, approach. The verb indicates close proximity. The perfect tense emphasizes that everything that has to be fulfilled has been fulfilled.
The phrasing of this claim suggests having knowledge of the end time schedule, including the timing of the Second Coming, and based on current events or other methodology, predicting that the Second Coming is imminent. Thus, the message "the time is near" is deception and should not be believed. Do not: Grk. mē. go: Grk. poreuomai (from poros, "passageway"), aor. pass. subj., may mean (1) to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning applies here, but there is a hint of the second meaning. The verb often has the literal sense of going, journeying or traveling.
after: Grk. opisō, adv., in a state, condition or situation that is subsequent, here with the focus on association or allegiance. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Yeshua warns against becoming a disciple of an end-time predictor, such as traveling to their speaking events and granting them authority in matters of the end time.
Yeshua's prohibition is not the same thing as observing the "signs of the times" (Matt 16:3) and concluding that we are living in the last days. The earliest church fathers not only believed they were living in the last days, but believed the Second Advent and the resurrection of God's people would not occur until six thousand years of earth history had first been completed (e.g., Epistle of Barnabas 15:4; Victorinus, Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John 20:3). This assumption was based on Peter's assertion, "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2Pet 3:8).
Peter's words are set in the context of explaining the seeming delay of the Lord’s coming and thus the Peter's words must mean that just as there were six days of creation so there would be a thousand years for each creation day, and then the Day of the Lord would usher in the seventh or Sabbath millennium. The anticipation that six thousand years still awaited completion and the millennium of the Messiah still lay in the future is expressed in Zohar, the central text of Jewish mysticism compiled in the 13th century, which states: "Happy are those left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter into (the millennium of) the Shabbat" (Zohar 1:19a quoted in Stern 842).
However, most rabbis condemned attempts to be more specific in calculating the end, as recorded in the Talmud, "Blasted be the bones of those who calculate the end. For they would say, since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he [i.e., the Messiah] has not come, he will never come" (Sanhedrin 97b).
9 Then when you should hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for it behooves these things to happen first, but the end is not immediately."
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7
Then: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' The two conjunctions together emphasize certainty. you should hear: Grk. akouō, aor. subj., 2p-pl., to hear, may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first meaning dominates here. The third meaning is intended here.
of wars: pl. of Grk. polemos, to wage war. While the noun polemos in Greek literature may refer to strife, conflict or quarrels, in Scripture the term refers generally to armed conflict and hostilities between nations or kingdoms. When used of armed conflict, the term may indicate a single battle or a war of some duration consisting of many battles.
Major wars during the lifetime of the apostles would have included the invasion of Britain in AD 43 and the beginning of the war between Rome and the Parthians in AD 58. While mass media did not exist in ancient times, important news events were publicized through Acta Diurna, or government announcement bulletins, made public by authority of Caesar. The bulletins were carved on stone or metal and presented in message boards in public places.
and: Grk. kai, conj. disturbances: pl. of Grk. akatastasia, disorder or instability that threatens civic stability, turmoil or disturbance. Such disturbances would include public protests that turn violent. do not: Grk. mē. be terrified: Grk. ptoeō, aor. pass. subj., 2p-pl., to alarm, be startled, terrified. HELPS clarifies the meaning of the verb to be like when someone "flies off" into unrealistic, irrational behavior or provoked by agitating fears, causing someone to become "psychologically detached from reality." The verb occurs only in Luke (also 24:37).
for: Grk. gar, conj. it behooves: Grk. dei, an impersonal verb from deō, pres., to stand in need of. The basic idea is that circumstances, expressed or implied, determine expectations for an outcome or event, thus "it is necessary." these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; i.e., the wars and disturbances. to happen: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf., to become, used here as equivalent to 'come to pass' or 'happen,' a verb that depicts historical events or something happening to someone.
first: Grk. prōton, adv., having to do with beforeness, here emphasizing a primary position in sequence. This clause is equivalent to the mention of the initial birth pains in Matthew (24:8) and Mark (13:8). Since "wars and disturbances" will happen then there is no point in giving way to irrational fear. but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. the end: Grk. ho telos, a point in time that marks culmination. The term properly means consummation, the end-goal or purpose, such as closure with all its results (HELPS).
In the context of the Olivet Discourse the reference of "the end" is shorthand for the "end of the age" or the last day of the present age (cf. Dan 12:13; Matt 13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20). is not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv., 'immediately, forthwith, right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that is normally used to introduce a shift in the scene, but used here to emphasize that end time events will occur according to the prophesied chronology.
10 Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom,
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8
Then: Grk. tote, adv. of time that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; then, at that time. he said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. The imperfect tense denotes "was saying." to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the disciples. Nation: Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group as defined by language and culture; nation, people. In the LXX ethnos translates Heb. goy (SH-1471), nation, people, first in Genesis 10:5, which begins the listing of the 70 people groups that descended from Noah, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1).
In the Besekh ethnos in the singular may refer generally to any people distinguished by language and culture, as well as defined boundaries (Acts 2:5; 7:7; 10:35; 17:26; Rev 5:9; 13:7; 14:6). The word does not have a particular religious meaning. will rise: Grk. egeirō, fut. pass., to rise or raise or to awaken, used here in a figurative sense to mean causing to appear as a prophesied event. The verb may depict a kind of posturing to gain supremacy. against: Grk. epi, conj., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; but used here of a hostile aim and direction.
nation: Grk. ethnos. The prophecy of ethnos vs. ethnos could include strife between ethnic groups, whether within a country or across country boundaries. Strife between politically defined countries may produce international tension, economic competition, struggle for political supremacy and all out war. and: Grk. kai, conj. kingdom: Grk. basileia is generally used to mean (1) an abstract 'act of ruling' and thus 'kingship, royal power, royal rule, or kingdom; or (2) a territory ruled over by a king; kingdom. against: Grk. epi. kingdom: Grk. basileia. Strife between kingdoms or countries as political entities has existed from the first great kingdom established by Nimrod after the deluge. The second part of the prophecy represents a Hebraic synonymous parallelism.
also: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, both. great: pl. of Grk. megas, adj., large or great in extent and used (1) of any extension in space in all directions; or (2) fig. of measure, whether of age, quantity, intensity, importance or social position (BAG). The adjective in this context denotes intensity and impact. earthquakes: pl. of Grk. seismos, from which we get our English word "seismic," means "to shake." While used once for a strong storm at sea (Matt 8:24), seismos is used mostly for a ground temblor or earthquake (BAG). Seismos occurs 13 times in the Besekh, three of which are in the Olivet Discourse narratives and seven in Revelation (6:12; 8:5; 11:13, 19; 16:18).
Earthquakes are common on every continent and have always existed, but only in modern times could they be measured. The Richter scale, developed in 1935, calculates the intensity of earthquakes on a ten-point scale. Detectable earthquakes (2.0 and greater) routinely occur around the world, but most cannot be felt and cause no damage. Quakes measuring 5.0 or greater are considered significant due to the potential for property damage and loss of life. The adjective "great" as used here may denote killer quakes. Revelation describes a future earthquake that destroys a tenth of a great city and kills 7,000 people (Rev 11:13).
Only eleven earthquakes in modern history have exceeded this number of fatalities, some with the number of dead in the hundreds of thousands (Deadly History of Earthquakes," BBC News, UK Edition, 30 March 2004). Charles Wesley, in his sermon The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes (Sermons on Several Occasions, 1872 ed.) in recounting several catastrophic earthquakes in the 17th and 18th centuries, asserted that earthquakes are truly acts of God, and, whatever the natural cause may be, they are the result of His judgment on sin. Indeed, the very first earthquake in human experience initiated God's judgment of the great deluge in Noah's time, "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open" (Gen 7:11).
Prior to Noah there had apparently never been an earthquake, but ever since then earthquakes are a reminder of God's wrath. Scriptures are replete with prophetic pronouncements attributing earthquakes and climate-related calamities to God acting in judgment (Jdg 5:4-5; 2Sam 22:8; Job 9:5f; Ps 18:7; 46:8; 75:3; 77:18; 82:5; 97:4f; 104:32; 114:7; Isa 2:19, 21; 5:25; 13:11, 13; 24:1, 18-20; 29:6; 54:10; Jer 5:9, 22; 10:10; Ezek 38:19f; Hag 2:6; Zech 14:5). The ecological and geological cataclysm of the deluge totally destroyed the world Noah knew and set in motion physical stresses in the earth's structure still being felt to this day.
On the basis of the Olivet prophecy a number of Bible teachers have claimed that a pronounced increase in both the frequency and intensity of earthquakes would occur just prior to the Second Coming and that recent decades have witnessed such a trend. However, Yeshua did not say that earthquakes would increase in any manner; only that they would happen. (For a contrary opinion on the statistical frequency of earthquakes see the article, Steven A. Austin and Mark L. Strauss, Earthquakes and the End Times: A Geological and Biblical Perspective, Institute for Creation Research: 1999.)
The many promises in Scripture that neither the righteous nor God's kingdom can be shaken (e.g., Prov 10:30; Heb 12:28) point to the reality that earthquakes bring fear and torment because people are not ready to meet their Creator and Judge. Scripture speaks much of catastrophic earthquakes to come in the final days of the present age (cf. Ps 99:1; Isa 2:19-21; 13:13; 24:18-21; Joel 2:10; 3:16; Hag 2:6; Heb 12:26-27; Rev 11:13, 19). Every time an earthquake happens it is one more reminder that the present age is coming to a close. Indeed, John describes the earth being destroyed by a final cataclysmic earthquake (Rev 16:18-20).
and: Grk. kai, conj. in different: Grk. kata, prep., down, against, according to. The preposition is used here in a distributive sense. regions: pl. of Grk. topos, a spatial area, which may be an unnamed geographical area or a named locality; place, region or country. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., 3p-pl. See verse 7 above. famines: pl. of Grk. limos, condition of misery caused by lack of food and impacting a large area. Throughout Bible times famines were not infrequent. Famine may be caused by lack of adequate rainfall, destructive hail storms (Ex 9:23; 10:12-15), infestation of insects (Ex 10:15) and by enemies (Deut 28:49-51; 2Kgs 6:25). Down through history a shortage of food has also been caused by hoarding (cf. Luke 12:18).
Famine occurred during the lives of all the patriarchs, as well as in the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1) and during the reigns of David (2Sam 21:1), Ahab (1Kgs 17:1) and Zedekiah (2Kgs 25:3). In the time of Caesar Claudius, A.D. 45, a famine severely affected Israel (Acts 11:28). The apostle Paul collected and delivered financial support to the Jerusalem congregation to relieve their plight (Acts 11:29; Rom 15:26; 1Cor 16:1-3).
The warning of famine is also given in the opening of the third seal in Revelation:
"And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." And I looked, and behold, a black horse; and the one sitting on it having a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine." (Rev 6:5-6 BR)
Agricultural production is primarily dependent on the right weather, whatever the skill of the farmer may be. The mention of "famines" is not to describe drought per se, because famine or shortage of food products can result from a variety of causes as already mentioned. Famine causes food to become more expensive and the poor suffer as a result.
and: Grk. kai. pestilences: pl. of Grk. loimos, pestilence or plague. The plural form refers to multiple incidents of such plagues. The mention of "pestilences" occurs only in Luke's account of the Olivet Discourse. Infectious diseases have killed as many in history as some of the major wars. A pestilence is a deadly or virulent epidemic disease that often originates from an infected unclean animal (such as fleas, rodents, pigs, etc.) or contact with a dead animal (cf. Lev 11:39; 17:15; 22:8). In 1350 the Bubonic Plague killed over 25 million people and in 1918 the Spanish flu killed over 27 million. The fourth seal of Revelation (Rev 6:8) predicts death from wild animals. While one may associate death from "beasts" with a lion mauling, the description could apply to any disease that may be transmitted from animals to people. For example, AIDS has been linked with African monkeys.
The rare CJD disease in England was linked to the "mad cow" disease of food animals, such as cows and sheep. A viral strain of influenza, H1N1, that spread around the world in 2008-2009, was transmitted from pigs to humans, thus called "swine flu." The Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 originated from bats. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 also has been traced to bats. While there is a natural barrier between animals and people as far as transmitting diseases from one to the other, the experience with these diseases has proven that the barrier can be broken down and cause great suffering.
also: Grk. te, conj. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. terrors: pl. of Grk. phobētron, a terrible sight, cause of terror, an object of fear. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. and: Grk. kai. great signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See verse 7 above. from heaven: Grk. ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God (Ps 148:1-4). In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”) (DNTT 2:191). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2).
While the clause depicts something seen in the heavens the expression "from heaven" could be idiomatic for "from God." That is, the terrors and signs are caused by God. The exact nature of the "terrors and signs" is unspecified. The close passing of comets and asteroids has caused fear concerning possible collision with the earth. Also, the appearance of "blood moons" has caused speculation as a sign of end time events. Whatever their significance, these heavenly portents are reminders of God's sovereign control over history and the end of the present age. Taken together the "terrors and great signs from heaven" could hint at the first, third, fourth and fifth trumpet plagues recorded in Revelation 8:7, 10-13; 9:1-11. All of those events occur before the Second Coming.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 10:16-23; Mark 13:9-13
Mark and Luke concur on including this futuristic prophecy in the Olivet Discourse. In Matthew the teaching is presented as part of Yeshua's instruction to his disciples prior to their first mission trip. The three accounts are similar, but Liefeld notes that Luke has only thirteen words or syllables in verses 12-16 and all of verse 17 in common with Matthew and Mark. There is no question that the prophetic material is the authentic teaching of Yeshua, but determining when he prophesied these things cannot be determined with certainty. He may have repeated this teaching on different occasions.
There may have been an editorial decision by the apostles in the positioning of the prophecy. Matthew may not have viewed the prophecy as relevant to the three questions asked by the disciples (24:3). Mark and Luke may not have viewed the prophecy as relevant to the first mission instructions, since the prophecy was not fulfilled until some years after Yeshua's ascension. Indeed, the prophesied opposition and persecution of the apostles is a major feature of Luke's Acts of the Apostles.
Among the differences in this section and the passages in Matthew and Mark are (1) Luke's omission of the proclamation of the good news to the Gentiles (Matt 10:18) and around the world (Mark 13:10); (2) a promise of wisdom in time of persecution (v. 15) in place of a reference to the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11); (3) the addition of the saying "not a hair of your head" (v. 18), which does not appear in Matthew or Mark; and (4) the omission of "He who stands firm to the end will be saved" (cf. Matt 10:22; Mark 13:13).
12 "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the assemblies and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors because of my name.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 10:17-18; Mark 13:9
But: Grk. de, conj. before: Grk. pro, prep. indicating precedence, used here in a temporal sense; earlier than, before. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. This clause alludes to the events prophesied as "first things." The apostles might not experience those difficult times, but they will definitely experience what follows. they will lay: Grk. epiballō, fut., 3p-pl., to move something so as to put it over or on something; put on, lay on; frequently with a suggestion of violence by physically grasping. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. on: Grk. epi, prep. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun occurs 15 times in this discourse and includes the Twelve apostles and possibly the Seventy. The plural pronoun points to a common experience of the apostles. The clause "lay their hands on you" could refer either to physical assault or being taken into custody. The specific fulfillment of this prophecy happened to the chief apostles and disciples (Acts 4:3; 5:18; 12:1; 21:11, 27; cf. 2Cor 11:33; 1Th 2:14).
and: Grk. kai, conj. will persecute you: Grk. diōkō, fut., 3p-pl., to engage in pursuit or chase, used here in a malicious sense of harass, maltreat or persecute. The warning of persecution was not intended to be limited to just Yeshua's messengers, but applied to all his followers. The persecution of Yeshua's disciples began in Jerusalem with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1) and quickly developed into a campaign of terror with Paul (then Sha'ul) providing leadership (8:3; 9:1). The persecution against the disciples of Yeshua erupted in spite of the advice of Gamaliel to leave the Yeshua movement alone (Acts 5:38-39). Of interest is that a record of the seventy apostles by Dorotheus, bishop of Tyre (ca. 255 – 362), says that 2,000 believers died the day Stephen was killed.
delivering you: Grk. paradidōmi, pl. pres. part., properly, to give into the hands of another, deliver or hand over, and used here to mean delivering a person into custody for a judicial process. The verb has a dual application here. to: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." the assemblies: pl. of Grk. ho sunagōgē, a bringing together, an assembling, either the place or the people gathered together in the place. In the LXX sunagōgē is generally used to translate the Heb. words qahal (SH-6951), an assembly or company (Gen 28:3; 35:11; 48:4), and a convocation or congregation (Ex 16:3); and edah (SH-5712), a "gathering of Israel," or congregation (Ex 12:3) (DNTT 1:292ff).
In the Besekh the term generally refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning, and the great majority of versions translate the plural noun here as "synagogues." The synagogue was the central institution of Jewish life where education, study, worship, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings took place.
Stern points out that Judaism had three degrees of discipline that rulers of a synagogue could exercise, though none is common today (184). The lightest, n'zifah ("rebuke"), could be declared by one person and normally lasted seven days. The next, niddui ("casting out, rejection"), usually required three people to declare and lasted thirty days, and people were required to stay four cubits (six feet) from him. The most severe discipline, cherem, was a ban of indefinite duration (cf. John 9:22); and a person under cherem was treated like one dead. (In the Talmud see Mo‛ed Katan 16a–17a, Nedarim 7b, Pesachim 52a.)
However, to ban someone from attending synagogue services would not be a simple matter. There were hundreds of synagogues in the land of Israel alone. The chief priests did not control the synagogues, so enforcement would be problematic. The book of Acts records many incidents of persecution in the following decades, especially opposition instigated by synagogue rulers and Jewish leaders (Acts 9:23, 29; 13:6-8, 44, 50; 14:2, 5, 19-22; 16:19-24; 17:5-8, 13; 18:5-6, 12; 19:23, 28-29; 20:3, 19; 21:27; cf. 2Cor 11:23-25; Php 3:7-8; Heb 10:32-34; 1Pet 3:14-17).
Messianic Jews faced further rejection by traditional Judaism with the enactment of the Birkat HaMinim ("Benediction against the heretics") by the general council of rabbis around AD 90 (Berachot 28b). The declaration was added to the twelfth benediction to the Shemoneh Esreh, the daily Jewish prayer.
"Let there be no hope for informers, and may all wickedness instantly perish; may all the enemies of Your people be swiftly cut off; and may You quickly uproot, crush, rout and subdue the insolent, speedily in our days. Blessed are You Adonai, Crusher of enemies and Subduer of the insolent."
The benediction of rejection would effectively motivate Messianic Jews to leave the synagogues since they would not pray a curse on themselves. The isolation of Messianic Jews from their fellow Jews did not automatically endear them to increasingly Gentile dominated congregations. For a definitive history of the plight of Messianic Jews in the first century and into the patristic era see Hugh J. Schonfield, The History of Jewish Christianity. See also Schaff, Vol. II, Chap. 2, §14.
and: Grk. kai. prisons: pl. of Grk. phulakē may mean (1) a place for detaining a law-breaker; (2) a sentry station with a contingent of guards; or (3) a period of time for mounting guard, watch. The first meaning applies here. Among Jews imprisonment for a specified period of time was not prescribed in Jewish law as a form of punishment. The place of confinement was only to keep someone until disposition was made of his case. However, imprisonment was practiced under Roman law.
Most versions translate the verbal clause as "delivering you to synagogues and prisons" or words to that effect. This translation presents a conundrum since there is no mention in Acts of any apostle or disciple being delivered to a synagogue for a trial and discipline. However, there is the example of Peter and John being confined (Acts 4:3; 5:18) and delivered to a gathering of Jewish leaders to answer for their proclamation of Yeshua as the Messiah (Acts 4:1-12; 5:17-40), and Stephen taken before the same group of leaders (Acts 6:12). Acts also records that Paul (then Sha'ul) as part of his persecution went into synagogues to take custody of Messianic believers, delivering them to prison and in some cases voting in favor of their execution (Acts 9:2; 22:4-5; 26:9-11).
bringing you: Grk. apagō, pl. pres. mid. part., to lead out, lead away, take away, especially with a destination in mind. before: Grk. epi, prep. kings: pl. of Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek (SH-4428). In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person. The prophecy of being brought before kings was also repeated to Paul (Acts 9:15) and eventually he appeared before King Agrippa (Acts 25:23). Both Jacob, son of Zebedee, and Peter were imprisoned by King Herod (Acts 12:1-10), in which Jacob was martyred, but Peter was rescued by an angel. There is no mention of other disciples appearing before kings.
and: Grk. kai. governors: pl. of Grk. hēgemōn, may mean (1) a leader (Matt 2:6); or (2) a 'legatus Caesaris,' an officer administering a province in the name and with the authority of the Roman emperor; the procurator of a province. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX hēgemōn primarily translates Heb. alluph (SH-441), "chief, leader of a thousand" (BDB 49), and is used of clan or tribal chieftains among various ethnic peoples (Gen 36:17-43; Ex 15:15; 1Chr 1:51). In the apostolic narratives the title is used of Pilate (Matt 27:2), Felix (Acts 23:24) and Festus (Acts 26:30). The general category of "governor" could also include proconsuls of which Luke mentions Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7) and Gallio (Acts 18:12). Paul would eventually appear before the proconsuls Sergius Paulus and Gallio, and the Roman governors Felix and Festus.
In the coming centuries followers of Yeshua were subjected to persecution instigated by the Roman emperors, with the severity increasing with each one: Nero (64), Domitian (95), Trajan (112), Marcus Aurelius (177), Septimus Severus (late second century), Maximinus (235), Decius (250), Valerian (257), Aurelian, and Diocletian (303) (Ladd 9). The causes of Roman persecution had its foundation in the basic war between evil and good and the inherent corruption of the pagan religious system:
"The policy of the Roman government, the fanaticism of the superstitious people, and the self-interest of the pagan priests conspired for the persecution of a religion which threatened to demolish the tottering fabric of idolatry; and they left no expedients of legislation, of violence, of craft, and of wickedness untried, to blot it from the earth." (Schaff, Vol. II, Chap. 2, §15)
because of: Grk. heneka, prep. used to indicate the rationale for the statement that precedes, because of, on account of. my: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 8 above. The phrase "because of my name" is idiomatic for being a follower of Yeshua. The use of "name" here could be an allusion to names later used to describe disciples: "the Way" (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 22:4; 24:14, 22), "Messianic" (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1Pet 4:16), and "Nazarene" (Acts 24:5). In all the cases of persecution, whether the source was Jewish or Gentile, the cause was the simple fact of loyalty to Yeshua and proclamation of an uncompromising message.
13 It will result to you into a testimony.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 10:18; Mark 13:9
It will result: Grk. apobainō, fut. mid., to step off, used here to refer to an opportunity; turn out, result. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. into: Grk. eis, prep. a testimony: Grk. marturion, that which serves to corroborate or attest, a testimony or witness. Yeshua affirms that appearing before assemblies, kings and governors will provide an opportunity to give a statement of personal faith and to share the good news of salvation.
14 Therefore settle in your hearts not to prepare beforehand to make a defense;
Parallel Passages: Matthew 10:19; Mark 13:11
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. settle: Grk. tithēmi, aor. imp., 2p-pl. in: Grk. en, prep. with the root meaning of "within," generally used to mark location or position, "in," or "within," and in composition may be translated as "among," "at," "by," "on" or "with." your: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181). Many versions translate the plural noun as "minds." not: Grk. ou, adv. The negative particle prohibits the following behavior.
to prepare beforehand: Grk. promeletaō, pres. inf., meditate beforehand, prepare, premeditate. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. to make a defense: Grk. apologeomai, aor. pass. inf., to speak in one's own defense. HELPS adds "to make a compelling defense with sound logic." In the LXX apologeomai translates Heb. rib (SH-7378), to plead for justice (Jer 12:1) and Heb. galah (SH-1540), to make known a cause to (Jer 20:12). Yeshua exhorts his disciples not to resort to the natural instinct to think through verbal strategies ahead of time, which could induce anxiety over how to make a presentation. The parallel passages employ verbs cautioning against worrying beforehand about what to say.
15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all those opposing you will not be able to resist or to refute.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 10:19-20; Mark 13:11
for: Grk. gar, conj. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. Yeshua makes a personal promise. will give: Grk. didōmi, fut., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity, and here means to impart. you: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. a mouth: Grk. stoma, the bodily organ used for speaking, tasting, eating and drinking; mouth. In the LXX stoma translates Heb. peh (SH-6310), mouth (first in Gen 4:11). The noun is used here fig. of power in speech. and: Grk. kai, conj. wisdom: Grk. sophia, exceptional endowment of discernment, understanding and insight, wisdom. In the LXX sophia translates predominately Heb. chokmah (SH-2451), wisdom, first in Exodus 28:3, but also Heb. binah (SH-998), understanding, first in Deuteronomy 4:6 (DNTT 3:1027).
In the parallel passages the wisdom of what to say is provided by the Holy Spirit. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to inspire God's servant to speak His words (cf. 2Sam 23:2; Isa 59:21; 61:1; Ezek 11:5; Acts 1:16; 4:25). The book of Acts records a few incidents of apostles being Spirit-inspired to speak before ruling authorities: Peter (Acts 4:8), Stephen (Acts 7:55), and Paul (Acts 13:6-12).
which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. all: pl. of Grk. hapas, adj., a totality of something; all, the whole. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. opposing: Grk. antikeimai (from anti, "against, opposite to" and kautēriázō, "to place"), pl. pres. mid. part., to be in opposition to, to resist. The present participle indicates a constant opposing as habitual or as a life style. The middle voice emphasizes the individual choice and initiative. you: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. will not: Grk. ou, adv. be able: Grk. dunamai, fut. mid., 3p-pl., the quality or state of being capable.
to resist: Grk. anthistēmi (from anti, "against, opposite to" and histēmi, "to stand"), aor. inf., take a position in opposition to, resist, hold one's own, take a stand against, oppose, withstand. or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote an alternative. to refute: Grk. antilegō (from anti, "against, opposite to" and legō, "to speak"), aor. inf., to speak in an adversarial manner, contradict, argue against, speak against. Yeshua promises a spiritual victory because of divine enablement. The truth will prevail against deception and falsehood.
Betrayal and Hatred, 21:16-19
16 Then you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and they will put to death some from among you,
Parallel Passages: Matthew 10:21, 35-36; 24:10; Mark 13:12
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction marks a transition of thought from the experience of being persecuted by religious and political rulers to an especially egregious situation of conflict arising from one's family. you will be betrayed: Grk. paradidōmi, fut. pass., 2p-pl. See verse 12 above. even: Grk. kai, conj. by: Grk. hupo, prep., the root meaning is "under," and may be used as (1) a marker of agent or cause; by; or (2) as a marker of a position that is relatively lower; below, under. The first meaning applies here, perhaps with the sense of "under the authority of." In the Jewish context the betrayal would probably be to synagogue rulers who would instigate the discipline process prescribed in Jewish law (verse 12 above).
parents: pl. of Grk. goneus, begetter, father or ancestor, but the plural form refers to both parents. Betrayal could be passive as the failure of the parents of the man healed of blindness were unwilling to give moral support when he was interrogated by the temple elders (John 9:18-23). and: Grk. kai. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the Jewish context adelphos refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5). A significant story in Scripture of betrayal by brothers is that of Joseph's brothers (Gen 37:2–8).
and: Grk. kai. kinsmen: pl. of Grk. sungenēs (from sun, "with" and genos, "offspring"), adj., connected by lineage, relative; either (1) a near relation by blood or marriage (1Macc 10:89; Mark 6:4); or (2) shared tribal or national ancestry (Rom 9:3; 16:7, 11, 21). The first meaning is probably intended here, but the familial connection is not explained. The term does not include siblings. In the LXX the term is used of an aunt (Heb. dodah, uncle's wife or father's sister, Lev 18:14), clan members (Heb. mishpachah, Lev 25:45), and a male kinsman (Heb. ga'al, 1Kgs 16:11).
and: Grk. kai. friends: pl. of Grk. philos, adj., in a close relationship with another, as opposed to a casual acquaintanceship; friend. In the parallel passage of Matthew 10:36 Yeshua quoted Micah 7:6, to say that a man's enemies would be members of his household. Paul might have thought of the experience of David who was betrayed by his son Absalom (2Sam 15:1-10) and Ahithophel, a friend and counselor (2Sam 15:12, 31). David wrote of the friend's betrayal (Ps 41:9; 55:12-14), which Yeshua quoted as referring to the betrayal of Judas against him (John 13:18; Acts 1:16–17). Paul felt a sense of betrayal for those disciples that either fell away spiritually (Demas, 2Tim 4:10) or engaged in blasphemous teaching (Hymenaeus, Alexander and Philetus, 1Tim 1:20; 2Tim 2:17-18).
The Talmud contains a similar warning:
"It has been taught: R. Nehorai said: in the generation when Messiah comes, young men will insult the old, and old men will stand before the young [to give them honor]; daughters will rise up against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law. The people shall be dog-faced, and a son will not be abashed in his father's presence." (Sanhedrin 97a)
and: Grk. kai. they will put to death: Grk. thanatoō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., made to die, is used both of (1) intentional killing or execution (Matt 26:59; Rom 8:36; 1Pet 3:18); and (2) rhetorical hyperbole describing a state likened to being put to death (Rom 7:14; 8:13). The syntax of the last clause implies a separate prophecy distinguished from the prophecy of being betrayed by family members, although the parallel passages of Matthew and Mark predict the cause of death as the result of betrayal of relatives to authorities. The deaths are not caused directly by family members.
Interpreting the prophecy by the second meaning of the verb could mean that Yeshua was not only prophesying betrayal resulting in execution but also betrayal resulting in excommunication from the synagogue (cf. John 9:22). A Jew "cut off" from his people was regarded as dead to them. According to the Mishnah being "cut off" did not necessarily mean actual execution, but that the perpetrator's life is cut short by Providence (cf. Num 12:9-10; 20:1; K'ritot 1:1; Mo'ed Katan 28a). Paul took a similar action when he turned over the man guilty of incest in the Corinthian congregation to Satan for the destruction of his flesh (1Cor 5:5).
some from among: Grk. ek, prep., which may be used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; from, out of, out from among. you: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. Yeshua warns his disciples to expect extreme opposition by fellow Israelites ("brothers" and "kinsmen") and members of Jacob's family. The intra-family persecution of Yeshua's disciples began in Jerusalem with the stoning of Stephen, one of the Seventy (Acts 8:1) and quickly developed into a campaign of terror with Sha'ul (later known as Paul) providing leadership (8:3). Sha'ul even voted in favor of putting disciples to death (Acts 22:4; 26:10; cf. Gal 1:13; 1Tm 1:13).
The persecution against the disciples of Yeshua erupted in spite of the advice of Gamaliel to leave the Yeshua movement alone (Acts 5:38-39). Of interest is that Dorotheus, bishop of Tyre (ca. 255 – 362), in his record of the Seventy apostles says that 2,000 Jewish believers died the day Stephen was killed. Jacob, the Lord's brother and leader of the Jerusalem congregation, was also the victim of hostility by unbelieving Jews and was killed by scribes and Pharisees about 61/62. Martyrdom took the lives of the rest of the Twelve, except John, in the first century and many of the Seventy (as mentioned by Hippolytus and Dorotheus). Peter and Paul were executed in Rome by Caesar Nero about 67/68.
17 and you will be hated by all because of My name.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 10:22; 24:9; Mark 13:13
and: Grk. kai, conj. you will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., 2p-pl. See verse 7 above. hated: Grk. miseō, pl. pres. pass. part., to detest, abhor or reject. In the LXX miseō translates Heb. sane (SH–8130; "saw–nay"), which has the same meaning (first in Gen 26:27). by: Grk. hupo, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 12 above. The adjective encompasses both the world (verse 12 above) and family members (the previous verse). because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here. My: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 12 above.
The disciples of Yeshua would be hated because the world hates Yeshua and his message of truth (John 15:18-19). In modern times the hostility can be the result of a particular church or denominational doctrine. Followers of Yeshua that declare their loyalty to him and to living by the precepts of the Bible are viewed as enemies by the world.
18 but a hair of your head will never perish.
but: Grk. kai, conj. a hair: Grk. thrix, hair of the head, whether of animals or humans. from: Grk. ek, prep. your: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. head: Grk. kephalē, the head as an anatomical term. will never: Grk. ou mē, lit. "not, not." The double negative makes the strongest possible negation. perish: Grk. apollumi, aor. mid. subj., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill, ruin; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish, die. The second meaning applies here. This is a saying unique to Luke's version of the Olivet Discourse and could have been based on the saying that the hairs of the head are numbered (Matt 10:30; Luke 12:7).
The idea of "perish" most likely pertains to an eternal consequence. Thus, the adverse decision of Jewish rulers to "cut off" a disciple, whether by excommunication or execution, will not be ratified in heaven. Yeshua had exhorted his disciples, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy (Grk. apollumi) both soul and body in hell" (Matt 10:28 NASB).
19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13
By: Grk. en, prep. See verse 14 above. The preposition has an instrumental function here, "by means of." your: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. The plural pronoun includes the Twelve apostles and possibly the Seventy. endurance: Grk. hupomonē, capacity for resolute continuance in a course of action; endurance, perseverance or steadfastness. In context the necessity of endurance does not refer to enduring the trials of life that come to all human beings. The endurance here has to do with refusing to recant one's devotion to Yeshua when faced with the reality of suffering or even dying because of being a disciple.
you will gain: Grk. ktaomai, aor. mid. imp., 2p-pl., to gain possession of, secure. your: Grk. humeis. souls: pl. of Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond mere physical function; life (inner) self, soul. In the LXX psuchē corresponds to the Heb. nephesh (SH-53-15), that which "breathes" air (Gen 1:20). Nephesh also represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion.
The concept of "gaining one's soul" means that perseverance in the face of persecution will assure ultimate salvation when we stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah. The possession of one's soul also hints at the nature of the resurrection. We will gain not only an immortal and incorruptible body but also our identity. The personality of each individual is preserved in the resurrection (cf. Job 19:26; Ezek 37:5; Dan 12:13; Matt 22:30; John 11:24-25; Acts 23:6; 2Cor 5:1; Php 3:10-11; 1Jn 3:2; Rev 20:5).
The prophecy of this section is unique to Luke, yet vitally important to understanding the flow of prophesied history. Indeed, the prophecy brings the chronology of end-time events into the twentieth century. The prophecy directly pertains to the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel.
20 "Now when you see Jerusalem surrounded by military encampments, then recognize that her desolation has drawn near.
Now: The conjunction focuses attention on another prophesied event. when: This conjunction signifies the time when the condition is met and anticipates the instruction of the next verse," i.e. whenever that occurs, "at the time it happens" (Thayer). you see: Grk. horaō, aor. subj., 2p-pl., to perceive with the physical eyes or to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. The verb is meant to be taken in the literal sense of physical eyesight. The subjunctive mood denotes probability and looks toward what is potential. Yeshua was not clear which of his disciples, including the seventy, would see the following prophecy come to pass. Certainly Peter and Paul were not witnesses of the following event.
Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm, which transliterates Heb. Yerushalaim (SH-3389), 660 times in the LXX, first in Joshua 10:1 (DNTT 2:324). The city was built on seven hills and situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea. What a precious name is Jerusalem! Jerusalem is the city God favors above all other cities of the earth and throughout biblical history the focus of His covenantal faithfulness. The favor of God toward the important city makes the prophecy all the more shocking. See my note on "Jerusalem" in Acts 1:4.
being surrounded: Grk. kukloō, pres. mid. part., to adopt a position that is around; surround, encircle, used here of a military operation (cf. Heb 11:30). In the LXX the verb is used of encircling a city or an army to engage in war (Jdg 6:3-4; 1Kgs 22:32; 2Kgs 6:15; 8:21). The present tense likely refers to the beginning of military forces moving into fighting positions and not the beginning of the siege. by armies: pl. of Grk. stratopedon, properly the site of an encampment and a figure of speech for an army (Mounce). In Greek literature the term stood for a Roman legion (LSJ). The plural form would indicate multiple legions. When the Roman general Titus marched on Jerusalem he led four legions (Josephus, Wars V, 1:6).
then recognize: Grk. ginōskō, aor. imp., to know, here with the sense of forming a judgment or drawing a conclusion. that her desolation: Grk. erēmōsis, a condition of having been made uninhabitable, depopulation, desolation or devastation. has drawn near: Grk. engizō, perf. See verse 8 above. Yeshua alludes to the fact that he had previously predicted the desolation of Jerusalem (Matt 23:37-38; Mark 12:9; Luke 19:41-44; John 4:21).
Noteworthy is that Luke omits mention of the "abomination of desolation" (Dan 9:27; Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14). Geldenhuys opines that Luke omits this specific terminology of Daniel because his Hellenistic audience would not understand the Jewish expression (532). Instead, Luke substitutes the Roman army for the abomination of desolation, which could certainly be the meaning of Daniel 9:26. More likely is that Luke understood the arrival of the abomination of desolation as occurring after, indeed long after, the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jerusalem being surrounded by an enemy military force.
21 Then those in Judea must flee into the mountains, and those in the midst of her must leave, and those in the rural areas must not enter into her;
Then those in Judea: Grk. Ioudaia transliterates the Latin provincial name of Iudaea and corresponds to the Heb. name Y'hudah, which means "praised" or "object of praise" (Gen 29:35; BDB 397). The territorial name of Ioudaia had two uses: (1) the historic Israelite territory that lay between Samaria on the north and Idumea on the south. Judea was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and the east by the Jordan River. (See the map.)
(2) the Roman province of Judaea, which comprised Samaria, Judea and Idumea, with the capital in Caesarea. Yeshua no doubt intended the historic territory of Judea rather than the Roman province. NOTE: Thayer's lexicon and Strong's concordance, being published before the 20th century, defined Ioudaia as "a region of Palestine," since the land had this name at the time of publication of those books. However, this definition is inaccurate because the land was not known as Palestine in the first century. See my article The Land is NOT Palestine.
must flee: Grk. pheugō, pres. imp., 3p-pl., to make a decision movement away to avoid a hazard. The present tense emphasizes to start and continue the action until completed and the imperative mood stresses the urgency of compliance. to: Grk. eis, prep. the mountains: pl. of Grk. oros, mountain, hill, or hill-country. The corresponding Heb. word har, (SH-2022), is given in Scripture to a comparatively large ridge, a collection of small hills and to many hogbacks in Israel. Modern science distinguishes hills from mountains by classifying a hill as being less than 1,000 feet above its surroundings, but the distinction may depend upon local interpretation. The Greek and Hebrew words are used to refer to any natural topographical feature that rose above a valley, plain or other surroundings regardless of height. Except for the coastal plain Judea is mostly hill country. In the parallel version in Luke 21:21 Yeshua directs those in cities to flee and warns against entering cities, which is the point of fleeing to the mountains where hiding places can be found. In Judea people would not have to go far to find mountains.
and those in the midst: Grk. mesos, adj., at a point near the center, midst, middle, in the midst of, among. of her: Grk. autēs, fem. personal pronoun. Many Bible versions translate the pronoun as "the city," interpreting the pronoun as referring to Jerusalem based on the mention in the previous verse. must flee: Grk. ekchōreō (from ek, "out of," and chōreō, "to depart"), pres. imp., 3p-pl., to depart or leave, but the urgency of the entreaty implies flight, not a leisurely departure.
and those in the rural areas: pl. of Grk. ho chōra may refer to (1) a stretch of territory as contrasted with owned property or open country contrasted with city, region, area; or (2) an area under a proprietor, landed property or fields. The first meaning applies here. Many versions have "country" to emphasize the rural area. must not enter: Grk. eiserchomai, pres. mid. imp., 3p-pl., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. into her: In ancient times people living in the country would naturally go into a walled city for protection against an enemy army. Yeshua warns those in the countryside who see the Roman army should not assume the city of Jerusalem will provide refuge because the city will be destroyed.
Following Yeshua's instruction would exacerbate the division between Messianic Jews and non-believing Jews. In the Jewish war against Rome of AD 66-73 Messianic Jews in Jerusalem refused to support the rebellion against Rome and fled to Pella, east of the Jordan River. According to Geldenhuys the opportunity for flight occurred in October of 66 when the Roman army was repulsed from the city, and routed near Beth-horon in its retreat. This was the signal which the Lord had given (532). Stern notes that non-Messianic Jews in the city viewed the departure of Yeshua's followers as an act of disloyalty to the nation, and became a major cause for resenting Jewish believers and taking later sanctions against them (139).
22 because these are the days of vengeance, to fulfill all things having been written.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. the days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 6 above. of vengeance: Grk. ekdikēsis, satisfaction for wrongdoing, which may focus on (1) a defense, righting of wrong or vindication; or (2) avenging, punishment or retaliation. The second meaning applies here in the sense of exacting a penalty.
In the LXX ekdikēsis translates eight different Hebrew terms that mean judgment or vengeance, found in passages describing divinely decreed punishments inflicted on Egypt (Ex 7:4; 12:12; Num 33:4; Jer 46:10, 21; Ezek 30:14), the Midianites (Num 31:2, 3), the Ammonites (Jdg 11:36), the Philistines (Jdg 15:7; 16:28; Ezek 25:15, 17), the Moabites (Ezek 25:11), the Edomites (Ezek 25:12, 14), and the Babylonians (Jer 46:10; 50:15, 27-28, 31; 51:6, 11, 36). The terms also occur in general statements of God's vengeance against the wicked and enemies of Israel (Ps 58:10; 79:10; 94:1; 149:7; Isa 59:10; 66:15; Mic 5:15; 7:4). In addition, the terms occur in passages containing prophesied judgment against Israel (Deut 32:35; Hos 9:7; Ezek 5:15; 9:1; 14:21; 16:38, 41; 20:4; 23:10, 45; 24:8).
to fulfill: Grk. pimplēmi, aor. pass. inf., may mean (1) to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition, used of things and people; or (2) to mark a point in time that represents fulfillment of a scheduled action, or prophesied event or expectation for something to take place. The second meaning applies here. all things: pl. Grk. pas, adj. having been written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. The verb is often used to attest an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, normally followed by a quote from the Tanakh, but in this instance an allusion to a Scripture passage.
Stern interprets Yeshua's prophecy as an allusion to the "days of vengeance" spoken of in Deuteronomy 32:35 when ADONAI "will judge His people" for being wicked and forsaking him. However, he notes that the context goes on to assert that ultimately God will "forgive His land and His people" (Deut 32:43). Parallel to Yeshua's prophecy of future events is that the desolation of Jerusalem under the Babylonians brought four severe judgments: the sword, famine, wild beasts and pestilence (Ezek 14:21).
23 Woe to those having in the womb and to those nursing in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:19; Mark 13:17
Woe: Grk. ouai, which may be used as (1) an interj. expressing sense of profound grief, especially in the face of impending disaster; woe, alas; or (2) a noun with focus on the certainty of assured disaster; woe. The first meaning is intended here. The word conveys the overwhelming emotional impact of such a catastrophe. In the LXX ouai translates six different Hebrew words (hoy, oy, ho, i, and hovah), which may express grief, despair, lamentation, dissatisfaction, pain, or a threat (DNTT 3:1051). The pronouncement of woe occurs especially in the Hebrew prophets in branding the consequences for sinful behavior and announcements of judgment. The interjection is appropriate considering the suffering of the innocent that will result from the judgment.
Particularly affected are two classes of women. to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. having: Grk. echō, pl. pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 14 above. the womb: Grk. gastēr, the region of the body containing the stomach and the womb. Many versions translate the phrase "having in the womb" as "pregnant." The first class of women have not delivered their babies. and: Grk. kai, conj. to those: pl. of Grk. ho. nursing: Grk. thēlazō, pl. pres. part., to nurse, to suckle at the breast. The second class of women have delivered their babies but have not yet weaned them.
in: Grk. en. those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 6 above. The phrase "those days" refers back to the "days of vengeance" in the previous verse. for: Grk. gar, conj. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 7 above. great: Grk. megas, adj. See verse 11 above. distress: Grk. anagkē, a pressing situation, the primary idea is inevitability as an inherent component of human experience and indicating that over which one has no control; distress, calamity.
upon: Grk. epi, prep. the Land: Grk. ho gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. In the LXX gē translates the Heb. word erets (SH-776), earth, land, first in Genesis 1:11 (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates the earth in a cosmological sense, but often occurs in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (TWOT 1:74). The noun is used here to refer to the Land of Israel.
and: Grk. kai. wrath: Grk. orgē means anger, indignation or wrath. In the Besekh orgē is used of human anger (Eph 4:31; 1Tim 2:8; Jas 1:19-20), but primarily divine wrath, most often depicted as occurring at the end of the age (Matt 3:7; Rom 2:5; Eph 2:3; 1Th 1:10; Heb 3:11; Rev 6:16). In this context the wrath occurs much sooner in the future. to this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. people: Grk. ho laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically. In Greek literature the term was used for natives of a country, soldiers in an army, men or people as subjects of a prince, sailors or seafaring folk, people assembled in a public place, and mankind in general (LSJ).
In the LXX laos renders Heb. am, (SH-5971), folk, people, nation or inhabitants of a locality, first in Genesis 14:16. In the Apocrypha laos distinguishes "lay" people from priests and Levites (1Esdras 5:46). In the apostolic narratives laos generally corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'arets, "people of the land," who are contrasted with the ruling classes and religious elite (Matt 2:4; 21:23; 26:3, 5; Luke 22:2; John 7:49; Acts 4:1). Unlike God's wrath at the end of the age which is visited on all nations, this visitation of wrath is against the people of Israel and thus portends the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in A.D. 70.
24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by Gentiles until that the times of Gentiles should be fulfilled.
and: Grk. kai, conj. they will fall: Grk. piptō, fut. mid., 3p-pl., to descend or drop from a higher place or position to a lower place or position, here referring to falling dead. by the edge: Grk. stoma, lit. "mouth." See verse 15 above. of the sword: Grk. machaira refers to a relatively short weapon with a sharp blade, mainly used for stabbing and close quarters combat. The term is used for a dagger and the Roman short sword. In the LXX stoma translates Heb. peh (SH-6310), mouth, 32 times in reference to killing with the sword in combat against an enemy (e.g., Gen 34:26; Ex 17:11; Num 21:24; Deut 13:15). The sharp edge of the sword is viewed as having a devouring mouth. In this context the clause summarizes the breaching of the city walls and the ensuing slaughter of the inhabitants by the Roman army.
and: Grk. kai. will be led captive: Grk. aichmalōtizō, fut. pass., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to take or lead away captive; or (2) fig. to subjugate or bring under control. The first meaning applies here. The survivors will be enslaved. into: Grk. eis, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. the nations: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos. See verse 10 above. The plural noun is used here of neighboring geographical lands of the Diaspora into which the surviving Jews were taken. Josephus states that in the war of 66–70 over one million Jews were slain and 97,000 carried away captive as slaves by the Romans (Wars VI, 9:1, 3).
Stern notes that the Diaspora is predicted was early as in the words of Moses (Deut 28:63–68) and dates at least to the Assyrian conquest of Israel (722 BC) and the Babylonian captivity (586 BC; cf. Ezra 9:7). But the Roman slaughter and destruction brought the Jewish nation to an end: the Diaspora, in a national sense, had previously been partial. In the aftermath of the First Jewish War and the Second Jewish War (AD 132–135) it became all but total.
and: Grk. kai. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm. See verse 20 above. will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 7 above. trodden down: Grk. pateō, pres. pass. part., to advance by setting foot upon, here meaning in the initial sense to trample with contempt and to desecrate the holy city by devastation. The impact of the verb is extended into the future to denote the absolute control in a military and political sense. by: Grk. hupo, prep. Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ethnos. The plural noun is used here specifically of non-Jews. The 40-year period of A.D. 30, the crucifixion of Yeshua, to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 effectively fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel:
"And after the sixty and two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is coming will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And the end will be with a flood; and until the end war is determined and desolations." (Dan 9:26 BR)
until: Grk. achri, prep., adv., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here meaning up to a certain point. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. the times: pl. of Grk. kairos. See verse 8 above. The plural noun could point to different eras or epochs (cf. Acts 1:7). of Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ethnos. should be fulfilled: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj., 3p-pl., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The second meaning applies here. In other words there is an end point for the "trampling" of Jerusalem by Gentiles. Lightfoot affirmed that the "times of the Gentiles" would be fulfilled before the end of the world.
Stern notes that since this prophecy has reached its fulfillment in modern times it constitutes a powerful argument for believing in Yeshua. See the Additional Note below. Unfortunately, Christian church fathers also took the wrong lesson from the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the crushing defeat of the Jewish rebellion in A.D. 135. God did not reject His people (Rom 9:1-2), as He foretold through the prophet Jeremiah:
35 "Thus says ADONAI who gives the sun for a light by day and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar, ADONAI-Tzva'ot is His Name: 36 "If these ordinances depart from before Me," says ADONAI, "then also the seed of Israel shall cease from being a nation before Me for all time." 37 Thus says ADONAI: "If heaven above can be measured and the foundations of the earth beneath searched out, I also will cast off all the seed of Israel for all they have done," says ADONAI." (Jer 31:35-37 BR)
In God's eyes the nation of Israel continued to exist, even in her scattered condition among the nations. Lightfoot notes that the prophecy of the "times of the Gentiles" also hints at the time allotted for the salvation of the Gentiles. During the centuries that the covenant Land was oppressed by Gentiles, the good news of Yeshua, the Messiah and King of Israel, would navigate the globe and bring about the "fullness of the Gentiles" in the kingdom of God. See my commentary on Romans 11:25.
Stern provides the following summary of the Gentile occupation of Jerusalem and the land of Israel. In the wake of the Second Jewish War (135) under the false messiah Simon Bar-Kosiba all Jews were expelled and Caesar Hadrian renamed Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina and named the land "Palestine." However, Jews continued to live in a number of locations throughout the Land of Israel. In fact, there has been a Jewish presence in the Land continuously since the time of King David.
Roman rule continued until 324. Then the Byzantine Empire controlled Jerusalem until 614 and the Persians governed briefly until 629. In 638 Muslim Arabs conquered the Holy City; and the Ummayads, ruling from Damascus, built the Dome of the Rock mosque on what was believed to be the site of the Jewish Temple, completing it in 691. The Abbasid Arabs took over in 750; their capital was Baghdad. The Egyptians imposed their rule in 878. The Crusaders, thinking they were acting in the name of Yeshua, came to the Holy Land in 1096 "to reclaim it from the infidels." In 1099 they not only defeated the Muslims but massacred all the Jews they could find. The Crusaders in turn were driven out in 1187 by the Kurdish Ayyubid leader Salach-ed-Din (Saladin).
Battles between Crusaders and Muslim Arabs continued until 1244, with dominion being established by the Egyptian Mamluks in 1250; formerly military slaves of the Ayyubids, they had overthrown their masters. Suleiman ( = Solomon) the Great displaced them in 1517, and his Ottoman Turks held sway in the Holy Land for 400 years until they were defeated by Britain’s General Allenby in World War I. The British Mandate given by the League of Nations lasted until 1948, when, in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust, the world’s conscience was momentarily pricked enough to permit the State of Israel to be established by a just-over-two-thirds vote of the United Nations General Assembly.
By the United Nations plan of 1947 Jerusalem was to have been an internationalized city, but when five Arab countries attacked Israel within hours of her independence she fought back and conquered the western, more modern part of Jerusalem. Nevertheless the Old City of Jerusalem, the portion the present verse speaks about, which includes the Temple site, was occupied by Jordan until the Six-Day War. On June 8, 1967, the Israeli army entered the Old City and converged on the Western (“Wailing”) Wall, liberating Jerusalem at last. Some interpreters mark 1967 as the end of Jerusalem being "trampled down by the Goyim," but others date the fulfillment from Israel's 1980 proclamation that Jerusalem is a united city under Israeli sovereignty. Still others will not consider prophecy fulfilled until Muslims no longer control the Temple Mount.
25 "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay of nations in perplexity about the roaring of the sea and tempests,
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:29-30; Mark 13:24-25
And: Grk. kai, conj. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., 3p-pl. See verse 7 above. The verb signals a prophecy to be fulfilled in the future. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See verse 7 above. In the parallel passages the noun is singular, so the plural form here could refer to either repetitive occurrences or to the combination of the three heavenly objects mentioned hereafter. in: Grk. en, prep. sun: Grk. hēlios (for Heb. shemesh), the sun, the star that is the central body of the solar system, created on the fourth day to "govern the day" (Gen 1:16-19). The core temperature of the sun produced by nuclear fusion has been estimated above 27 million degrees F and the temperature at its surface about 10,000 degrees F. In both the solar system and on the earth "there is nothing hidden from its heat" (Ps 19:6).
The sun is about 93 million miles from the earth, which assures the right balance of heat, light and photosynthesis to sustain all of earth's physical and biological processes. The sun moves in an orbit through the Milky Way Galaxy (Ps 19:5-6), at a speed that scientists estimate to be 600,000 mph (BBMS 165). and: Grk. kai. moon: Grk. selēnē (for Heb. yareach), the earth's natural satellite, orbiting the earth at a mean distance of 238,857 miles and having a diameter of 2160 miles. Like the sun the moon was created on the fourth day to "govern the night" (Gen 1:16).
The "glory" of the moon is light reflected from the sun. As a result of the space program and lunar landings, the moon is now known to be completely void of life (just as the Bible indicates) but to be composed of similar rocks and minerals to those of earth. At the same time, the structure of the moon, as well as the proportions of the different rocks and minerals, is so vastly different from the corresponding attributes of Earth as to make it certain that the two could not have had a common evolutionary origin (BBMS 164).
and: Grk. kai. stars: pl. of Grk. astron, used for a single star (synonymous with astēr, Matt 24:29), or a constellation of stars viewed as one entity. In the parallel passages the sign of the sun and moon is their being darkened, no doubt referring to an eclipse. The sign of stars is their falling, which could indicate catastrophic disaster in the heavens. Big stars can experience gravitational collapse and when they do it produces a supernova, a massive explosion. Scripture speaks of stars losing their light (Isa 13:10; Ezek 32:7-8, Joel 2:10; 3:15). The prophecy of "signs in the stars" could also mean astronomical signs as occurred prior to the nativity of Yeshua. See the resource Dates of Significant Astronomical Events by Ross Olson. Just as astronomical signs appeared for the nativity, such signs could also occur to announce the Second Coming.
and: Grk. kai. on: Grk. epi, prep. the earth: Grk. ho gē. See verse 23 above. dismay: Grk. sunochē (from sunechō, "to hold together"), a holding together, properly, something held together in close tension; and figuratively tension from difficult circumstances that won't move and produces distress, causing one to feel "locked in" (HELPS). of nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See verse 10 above. in: Grk. en. perplexity: Grk. aporia, state of not knowing the way out of difficulty; perplexity, anxiety, doubt. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
about the roaring: Grk. ēchos may mean (1) a sound that spreads out and makes an impact; sound, noise; or (2) information going out from place to place; news, report. The first meaning applies here. Many versions translate the noun as "roaring." In the LXX ēchos translates Heb. hamon (SH-1995), a sound, murmur, roar (1Sam 14:19); qol (SH-6963), sound, voice (1Kgs 18:41; Ps 77:17); and shaon (SH-7588), a roar of water (waves) (Ps 65:7; Isa 17:12). The Greek noun occurs in Jeremiah 51:42 without Heb. equivalent for the sound of waves.
of the sea: Grk. thalassa (corresponding to Heb. yam) is used of used of both oceanic bodies of salt water and inland bodies of water, whether salt or fresh, and deep enough and wide enough to require a boat to cross it. In the creation narrative a single sea was formed on the third day by the waters being gathered in one place (Gen 1:10). The present configuration of the planetary ocean came about in the aftermath of the global deluge of Noah's time (cf. Job 26:10; 38:8-11; Ps 29:3, 10; 33:7; 65:5-9; Prov 8:29; Jer 5:22). The noise or roaring of the sea can be a normal condition (Ps 96:11; 98:7), or a significant condition (Isa 5:30; Jer 6:23; 50:42).
and: Grk. kai. tempests: pl. of Grk. salos, surge, the extraordinary tossing or swell of the sea. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun likely refers to storms and destructive motions of sea water, variously described as cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, and tsunamis. Modern science distinguishes these terms by wind motion, wind speed and height of waves. Storm surge can cause significant loss of life and catastrophic property damage. Modern politicians and scientists attribute severe weather-related events to "climate change," which they claim is the result of human behavior. These "experts" refuse to recognize that the harmful human behavior causing terrible natural calamities is not the use of fossil fuels, but sin and wickedness.
God has punished wickedness in the past with "natural" calamities (Gen 6:13; 7:4; 19:24-25; Ex 8:21; 9:14, 23; Lev 26:25; Num 21:6; Deut 32:24; 2Chr 7:13; Job 9:5; 12:14-15; Ps 11:6; Jer 24:10; Ezek 6:16-17; 28:23) and He will do so in the very last days in preparation for the Second Coming (Rev 6:8; 7:2; 9:20; 16:3, 9; 18:4). Indeed, God has brought retribution on nations that have acted against the best interests of Israel and the Jewish people. God promised Abraham "And the one who curses you I will curse" (Gen 12:3). Thus, the prime cause of these powerful storms is God, as Scripture says,
"For I am ADONAI your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—ADONAI-Tzva'ot is His Name" (Isa 51:15 TLV).
"Thus says ADONAI, who gives the sun as a light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars as a light by night, who stirs up the sea so its waves roar, ADONAI-Tzva'ot is His Name." (Jer 31:34  TLV)
As Yeshua indicates the prophecy of the roaring of the sea and tempests has a particular meaning for the last days. Storms in the ocean were a common occurrence in Bible times (cf. Ps 107:23-29), and some significant storms are described in Scripture (Jon 1:4; Matt 8:24; Acts 27:14-15). In modern times violent storms, such as hurricanes and typhoons, cause great fear because populated areas lie in the path of those storms.
A report published by the American Meteorological Society in 2018, "Continental U.S. Hurricane Landfall Frequency and Associated Damage: Observations and Future Risks" concluded that neither hurricane frequency nor storm intensity shows significant trends in the Continental United States since 1900. However, growth in coastal population and wealth has led to increasing hurricane-related damage along the U.S. coastline. See also the article Are Hurricanes Getting More Destructive (2005) by Larry Vardiman.
26 men fainting from fear and expectation of the things coming on the world; for the Powers of the heavens will be shaken.
men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos translates three Hebrew words: (1) adam (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for an adult male, husband, a human in contrast to animals or mankind (DNTT 2:564). Many modern versions translate the plural noun with "people." fainting: Grk. apopsuchō, pl. pres. part., be in a condition without evidence of breath. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Danker says the verb can express either a condition of death or fainting, and here Luke dramatizes the condition of the fearful. HELPS says the verb can figuratively mean to lose morale or become disheartened. The verb should be taken in its figurative sense. The emotional condition is viewed as a consequence of the traumatic signs mentioned in the previous verse.
from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation or origin, here the latter; from. fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The first meaning applies here. and: Grk. kai, conj. expectation: Grk. prosdokia, state of expectation with the affective aspect defined in context, whether apprehensiveness or anticipation, here the former. The noun occurs only two times in the Besekh (also Acts 12:11).
of the things: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. coming: Grk. eperchomai, pl. pres. pass. part., to come on or upon, in the sense of an event or circumstance making its appearance with the element of peril. on the world: Grk. ho oikoumenē, the world as an inhabited area, often with focus on its populace. In the Roman period since the 2nd c. BC, the term was used of lands under Roman rule (DNTT 1:518). The noun is used here of population centers across the globe. The continual succession of the fulfillment of prophesied calamities, plagues and portents in the heavens are taking (and will take) their toll on the mental health of people around the world.
for: Grk. gar, conj. The conjunction is used here to express continuation of the narrative. the Powers: pl. of Grk. ho dunamis (from dunamai, "having ability"), inherent power, power residing in a person or thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth. In the LXX dunamis was used to translate Hebrew words that referred to military forces or the power of a ruler (DNTT 2:602). The term is never associated with an inanimate object, but always with a personality, whether human, a heavenly being or God. Thus, the word likely functions here as a personification of powerful evil entities (cf. Matt 24:29; Mark 13:25; Rom 8:38; Col 2:15; 1Pet 3:22).
of the heavens: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos. See verse 11 above. The plural form could include all three locations, since Satan has access to Heaven (Job 1:6; cf. Luke 10:18; Rev 12:9), but certainly the atmosphere, since Satan is known as the "prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2) and his evil organization operates in the near heavenly realms (Eph 6:12).
will be shaken: Grk. saleuō (from salos, 'disturbance'), fut. pass., 3p-pl., cause to waver or totter resulting in instability. The prophets spoke of God shaking the heavens (Hag 2:6; Isa 13:13). The shaking could imply angelic warfare as described elsewhere in Scripture (Jdg 5:20; Dan 10:13; Rev 12:7-9). The world lies in the power of evil one (1Jn 5:19), and it will take a mighty divine confrontation to shake his evil empire out of existence. Satan will finally be defeated.
27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26
And: Grk. kai, conj. then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 10 above. they will see: Grk. horaō, fut. mid., 3p-pl. See verse 20 above. the Son: Grk. ho Huios, a male offspring or descendant. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121), "son," "son of" (Gen 3:17). The noun is used in three distinctive ways in Scripture: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. All these meanings have application to Yeshua. of Man: Grk. ho Anthrōpos. See the previous verse. The reference "Son of Man" occurs 107 times in the Tanakh, and 89 times in the Besekh.
In the Tanakh "Son of Man" translates the Heb. ben adam in every instance except Daniel 7:13, which has the Aram. bar enash. The idiom of "Son of man," or "son of the first man, namely Adam," is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. Christian interpreters typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his identification with humanity, whereas "Son of God" pertains to his deity. In Hebraic thought these expressions mean just the opposite. Christian interpretation is based on the fact that in the Tanakh, except in two passages, ben adam is idiomatic for "man" or "human being," occurring 11 times in a general sense of all mankind (e.g., Num 23:19). God also addresses two prophets as "son of man:" Ezekiel (93 times) and Daniel, once (Dan 8:17).
However, two exceptional passages point to a Messianic figure. First, the "son of Man" is the Davidic deliverer (Ps 80:14-19 CJB; cf. Ps 2:7, 12; 110:1). Second, "Son of Man" is the eschatological supra-natural figure from heaven who establishes a kingdom on the earth (Dan 7:13-14, 27 CJB). For first-century Jews the "Son of Man" is Daniel's divine redeemer in human form. Jewish intertestamental literature expounded strongly on his identity and activity (cf. Book of Enoch Chapter 46).
In the apostolic narratives Yeshua uses the title "Son of Man" over 80 times, almost always speaking in the third person of himself. Yeshua's self-description as the Son of Man is purposeful to connect his ministry with the fulfillment of prophecy and to demonstrate the complexity of his mission. Let's consider how Yeshua uses the expression.
First, Yeshua did use "Son of Man" as a personal circumlocution in 6 verses with an ordinary sense in lieu of saying "I" or "me" (e.g., Matt 16:13; Luke 7:34; 9:58; 12:8). Second, "son of man" is used as a representational idiom in 8 verses for every person. This usage appears in the passages where he speaks of the son of man having authority to forgive sins, which listeners understood to be applied to them (Matt 9:6-8), the son of man being master of his Sabbath observance (Luke 6:5) and the son of man as being the target of blasphemy that can be forgiven (Luke 12:10). The idiomatic use is obscured because Bible versions always capitalize "Son of Man" wherever it occurs in the Besekh. Far more significant is the next two usages of the title.
Third, the Son of Man suffers in order to bring salvation from sin. He will be killed by judicial decree and buried, but then be gloriously raised from the dead (Luke 9:22 CJB). This usage occurs in 42 verses. Yeshua used the expression in accordance with common Jewish interpretation of the time. He was Daniel's cosmic judge from heaven, but in applying the title to his mission Yeshua added the unexpected element of suffering. Fourth, as in the Olivet Discourse the Son of Man is the end-time Judge and King (Matt 25:31-33 CJB). He will come in power at the end of the present age with his angels and sit on his throne. This usage appears in 28 verses, sometimes alluding to Daniel's prophecy.
coming: Grk. erchomai. See verse 6 above. in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 14 above. A few versions translate the preposition as "on" (CEB, NLT, NTE, OJB), but the great majority of versions have "in." a cloud: Grk. nephelē, cloud, as of the atmospheric phenomena that brings rain. In the LXX nephelē translates Heb. anan (SH-6051), a cloud mass, cloud, first in Genesis 9:13; and Aram. anan (SH-6050), "cloud," which occurs only in Daniel 7:13. The Hebrew term occurs 87 times in the Tanakh and is used for the atmospheric clouds that produce precipitation, the "pillar of cloud" that led the Israelites out of Egypt and throughout the wilderness years (Ex 13:21) and the cloud of God's presence in the temple (1Kgs 8:10).
Yeshua will not be enveloped inside an atmospheric cloud to obscure his visibility, because "every eye will see" (Rev 1:7). He will also not ride an atmospheric cloud as if it were a vehicle. The description alludes to a Messianic title used by Jews for Daniel's heavenly Son of Man, Mashiach ben Ananim, "son of the clouds" (Sanh. 96b). In Scripture the divine presence, particularly in judgment, is often accomplished in a cloud, accompanied by a cloud or represented by clouds (Ex 13:21; 16:10; Job 22:14; Ps 104:3; Isa 19:1; Jer 4:13; Lam 2:1; Ezek 30:3; Nah 1:3; Matt 17:5). The singular noun is probably meant to represent the Hebrew intensive plural, since the plural form of nephelē occurs in parallel passages.
"coming on [Grk. epi, prep.] the clouds [pl.] of heaven" (Matt 24:30; 26:64)
"coming in [Grk. en, prep.] clouds [pl.]" (Mark 13:26)
"coming with [Grk. meta, prep.] the clouds [pl.] of heaven" (Mark 14:62)
"coming with [Grk. meta, prep.] the clouds [pl.]" (Rev 1:7).
The term "cloud[s]" is probably meant to signify angels. At his later trial Yeshua will prophesy to his accusers: "You will see the Son of Adam sitting at the right hand of Power [Ps 110:1], and coming with the clouds of heaven [Dan 7:13]" (MW). While "clouds" in Daniel 7:13 is normally associated with the atmospheric phenomena, the fig. use of clouds for angels fits the prophecy better. The Besekh concurs that when Yeshua returns he will be accompanied by angels (Matt 25:31; John 1:51; 2Th 1:7; Rev 19:14). When Yeshua returns with his angels he will mete out justice to those who have wronged his people (2Th 1:5-9). See my article The Host of Heaven.
with: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The first usage is intended here. power: Grk. dunamis. See the previous verse. Yeshua manifests power in his Second Coming in two ways: first, the gathering and resurrection of God's people (Matt 24:31; Mark 13:27; John 6:40; 1Cor 15:50-51; 1Th 4:15-17), and second, the defeat and destruction of Satan's empire (2Th 1:6-10; 2Pet 3:10; Rev 19:11-21). and: Grk. kai. great: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 8 above. glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor or radiance in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence in the sense of what catches the eye, (3) fame, renown, honor or approval, and (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties (BAG).
In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabod (SH-3519), with a range of meaning including abundance, dignity, glory, honor, reputation, and splendor; first in Genesis 31:1. Doxa/kabod is especially used to refer to the luminous manifestation of God’s person, his glorious revelation of Himself. Characteristically, kabod is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of a person or God makes on others. In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). In this context "glory" refers to the radiance of his countenance and the accompaniment of myriads of angels.
28 Now with these things beginning to happen, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Now: Grk. de, conj. with these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The plural pronoun alludes to the events of verse 25, perhaps even 24. beginning: Grk. archō, pl. pres. mid. part., can mean either (1) in the active voice 'to rule,' or (2) in the middle voice (as here) 'to begin' something. to happen: Grk. ginomai, pres. pass. inf. See verse 7 above. straighten up: Grk. anakuptō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., to lift oneself up physically; stand erect, straighten oneself. The verb implies being bowed down because of circumstances. and: Grk. kai, conj. lift up: Grk. epairō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., to raise up over, here of the physical action of lifting up or looking up. your: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. heads: pl. of Grk. ho kephalē. See verse 18 above.
because: Grk. dioti, conj. that generally introduces a rationale or motive for the affirmation that precedes, "on the very account that, because, inasmuch as." your: Grk. humeis. redemption: Grk. ho apolutrōsis, freedom or liberation from an oppressive circumstance; deliverance, release, redemption. Most versions translate the noun as "redemption." The term originally meant buying back a slave or captive, making him free by payment of a ransom (BAG). Apolutrōsis is rare in Greek literature, but is does occur in Josephus and Philo. Apolutrōsis occurs only once in the LXX, Daniel 4:34, for which there is no corresponding Hebrew word. The noun is used there of the freeing of Nebuchadnezzar from his madness (DNTT 3:193).
Apolutrōsis occurs ten times in the Besekh. Its first here in Yeshua's teaching represents his promise of the deliverance of Israel. In Paul's writings the noun occurs primarily in terms of the present redemption that provides forgiveness of sins and freedom from the guilt, slavery and consequences of sin (Rom 3:24; 1Cor 1:30; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:15). Then final redemption includes resurrection at the Second Coming (Rom 8:23) and inheritance in the Kingdom of God (Eph 1:14). The Day of the Lord or the Day of the Second Coming is the Day of Redemption (Eph 4:30).
is drawing near: Grk. engizō, pres., come or draw near, approach. Yeshua promises that the Day of Redemption is drawing ever closer, but prophesied events must be fulfilled before that day arrives. The idea that Yeshua could come any time is contrary to the message of the Olivet Discourse.
29 And He spoke a parable to them: "Behold the fig tree and all the trees;
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:32; Mark 13:28
And: Grk. kai, conj. He spoke: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. a parable: Grk. parabolē, something serving through comparison or analogy to encourage a new perspective; parable, proverb, figure, illustration. In the LXX parabolē translates Heb. mashal (SH-4912), first in Num 23:7. The Hebrew word mashal has a broader usage than parabolē. A mashal could be in story form or in proverb form or even a discourse. Many proverbs are similes (DNTT 2:744). The parable was a primary teaching method of Yeshua (Matt 13:3).
to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the disciples. Behold: Grk. idete, demonstrative interjection (the aor. mid. imp. of eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek particle, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009) in divine monologues or narratives (e.g., Gen 1:29), serves particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG).
the fig tree: Grk. ho sukē (for Heb. teenah), a tree that produces figs or the fruit of that tree. The fig tree grows plentifully in Israel as a wild and cultivated tree. The fig tree bears bountiful figs, ripening principally in the month of August. The fig tree was one of the blessings promised to Israel in the Land (Deut 8:8) and thus became important to Israelite agriculture. The wood of the fig tree was the primary source of kindling used for the fire on the Temple altar (Tam. 2:1; Yoma 24b). Figs were eaten fresh (2Kgs 18:31), pressed into cakes (2Sam 25:18), and used as a poultice (Isa 38:21). The fig tree is used in the Tanakh as symbolic of someone's home (cf. 2Kgs 4:25; 2Kgs 18:31; Isa 36:16; Mic 4:4; Zech 3:10)
Yeshua is telling a parabolic story, but mentioning the fig tree as symbolic of truth. The fig tree in Matthew 21:19-20 (para. Mark 11:12-14, 20-24) represented the corrupt temple leadership, but such meaning cannot be applied here. The fig tree might represent the Jewish people as an extension of "this generation" in verse 32, but there seems to be a different point here. and: Grk. kai. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. the trees: pl. of Grk. dendron, tree without specification of species and variety. This last clause is found only in Luke's version of the Olive Discourse. Presumptively all trees, that is fruit trees, provide a similar lesson as the fig tree.
30 when already they sprout, seeing for yourselves, you know that summer is already near.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:32; Mark 13:28
when: Grk. hotan, conj. See verse 7 above. already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. they sprout: Grk. proballō, aor. subj., 3p-pl., thrust to the front, here meaning "shoot" or "sprout," in reference to a plant sending forth new growth. The verb likely alludes to the appearance of buds on tree limbs as the precursor of leaves or flowers. seeing: Grk. blepō, pl. pres. part. See verse 8 above. The verb is used here of physical observance. for: Grk. apo, prep. yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun, here of the second person. you know: Grk. ginōskō, pres., 2p-pl. See verse 20 above. Yeshua uses the verb to express a common experience.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. summer: Grk. ho theros (from therō, "make hot"), the season of summer. Israel's summers last from May through late October and are mostly dry and hot. Summer conditions vary from region to region with the coastal plain experiencing humid weather, the hill regions experiencing little or no humidity and the Jordan Valley and Negev regions experiencing hot, dry semi-desert conditions. Rainfall is extremely rare during the summer months. already: Grk. ēdē. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. near: Grk. engus, prep., near or close to, whether in a spatial or temporal sense, here the latter.
The common fig in Israel yields two crops annually, the first one, ripe about June, growing from the midsummer sprouts of the previous year. The second crop is ripe about August that grows on the Spring shoots. The leaves that announce the nearness of summer also presage the coming harvest. By December, fig-trees in the mountainous regions of Israel have shed all their leaves, and they remain bare until about the end of March, when they commence putting forth their tender leaf buds. Yeshua's point is that the fruit of the fig tree (or any tree) does not suddenly appear, but comes after a series of growth steps in the tree. The lesson of nature is a guide to understanding the last days as a prelude to the Second Coming.
31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:33; Mark 13:29
So: Grk. houtōs, adv., thus, so, in this manner. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; used of present and future disciples of Yeshua. also: Grk. kai, conj. when: Grk. hotan, conj. you see: Grk. horaō, aor. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 20 above. The verb emphasizes prophetic fulfillment. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; used of prophesied events based on the example of the fig tree. happening: Grk. ginomai, pl. pres. mid. part. See verse 7 above. recognize: Grk. ginōskō, pres. imp., 2p-pl. See verse 20 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. the kingdom: Grk. ho basileia. See verse 10 above. The noun is used here of the royal reign of God.
of God: Grk. ho theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In the LXX theos primarily translates the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination.
is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 7 above. near: Grk. engus, prep. See the previous verse. The hope that God would establish His reign as King over all the earth, with all idolatry banished, is expressed frequently in Scripture (e.g., Ex 15:18; Ps 22:28; 29:10; 93:1; 99:2; 103:19; 145:10-13; Isa 52:7; Dan 2:44; 4:3; 7:27; Micah 4:7; Obad 1:21; and Zech 14:9). Ancient Jewish prayer liturgy, such as Aleinu and Kaddish, include the phrase that "God may establish His Kingdom speedily." The Second Coming or Day of Redemption will bring the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when Yeshua establishes his government upon the earth.
32 Truly I say to you that, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30
Truly: Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. 'amen (ah–mayn, SH–543), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The word amēn reflects a Hebraic conviction that God’s words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). For example, "amen" was a congregational response to a public blessing of God (1Chr 16:36; Neh 5:13; Ps 106:48).
However, Yeshua sometimes uses amēn to introduce a declaration as here (e.g., Matt 8:10; 11:11; 16:28; 17:20; 19:23; 21:21; 25:12, 45; 26:21). Similar usage does occur in the Tanakh (1Kgs 1:36; Jer 28:6). Beginning the sentence with amēn emphasizes the certainty of the prophesied event. I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. The verbal affirmation could imply "regardless of what others may say." to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 22 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a statement complementary to the verb "I say." Many versions don't translate the conjunction.
this: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, lit. "the same." generation: Grk. ho genea can mean (1) persons with common interests or kinship; (2) a family line; (3) people linked as contemporaries; (4) a span of time loosely equal to a generation; or (5) an age or span of generations. In the LXX genea translates Heb. dor (SH-1755), period, generation (Gen 6:9); Heb. toledoth (SH-8435), generations, or account of men and their descendants (Gen 25:13); and Heb. moledeth (SH-4138), family (Gen 31:3).
In the context of the Olivet Discourse "this generation" could be interpreted in one of three ways. First, "this generation" possibly refers to the present generation of the Twelve and the Seventy (Matt 11:16; 12:41, 42, 45; 17:17; 23:36; Mark 9:19; Luke 7:31; 9:41; 11:29-32, 50-51; 17:25; 21:32). However, not all the events prophesied in the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled in the lifetime of those disciples. They did witness the resurrection and ascension, which served as portents of the end of the age, and they did endure much tribulation. Destruction also came upon Jerusalem during their generation, although many of these men had been martyred by that time.
Second, "this generation" possibly refers to a future generation, the generation that sees the signs preceding the Second Coming. However, this is not without problems, because it would be pointless to say that this future generation would not pass away. Third, Geldenhuys and Stern suggest that "this generation" refers to the continuation of the Jewish people. In the Tanakh the concept of generation is always of the nation, the Hebrew people. The whole history of Israel is often included in speaking of a generation (cf. Matt 23:34-36). God made an everlasting promise to Israel:
"Thus says ADONAI, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; ADONAI-Tzva'ot is His name: 36 If these ordinances depart from before Me," declares ADONAI, "Then also the seed of Israel shall cease from being a nation before Me forever." 37 Thus says ADONAI, "If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, I also will cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done," declares ADONAI." (Jer 31:35-37 BR)
The promise of Israel's continuance occurs immediately after the promise of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34). will not: Grk. ou mē, lit., "not, not." The double negative represents the strongest negation possible. pass away: Grk. parerchomai, aor. subj., may mean (1) to move spatially from one position to another or (2) to come to an end and so no longer be on the scene, thus to go away, depart or pass away. The second meaning is in view here. until: Grk. heōs, adv., a marker of limit, here of time. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 12 above. have taken place: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See verse 7 above. The natural meaning of "all things" is all the events prophesied in the Olivet Discourse. This clause qualifies the meaning of genea.
With the adverb "until" Yeshua affirms that a time will come when this genea will pass away. He obviously did not mean the Jewish people would pass away. God will be faithful to His covenantal promises. Thus, the term "generation" likely has a dual meaning, present and future. The generation of the apostles, or the apostolic era, would certainly experience many of the prophecies Yeshua proclaimed, including persecutions, tribulations, famines, earthquakes, rumors of wars, false prophets, spiritual warfare and destruction of Jerusalem.
The term "generation" also refers to this present age and a future generation, the generation of the Second Coming. In other words, the age to come or the millennial age of the Messiah's reign cannot begin until this present age concludes with all prophesied events fulfilled. Blessed is the generation of the Second Coming that will endure much and receive the crown of glory in the resurrection.
Additional Note on Generation
Dispensational speculation about a biblical generation being 40 years is no better than a guess and not relevant to Yeshua's teaching about the Second Coming. As a population term a generation means the period of time from the birth of parents to the birth of their offspring. To determine the length of a societal generation requires statistical information. Biblical family genealogies focus mainly on the Messianic family tree and indicate extreme variance in the timing of births. For example, Isaac and Rebecca may have been 35-40 when Jacob and Esau were born, but Abraham and Sarah were 98-100 when Isaac was born. Those were miracle births and atypical of normal youthful marriages in ancient times and childbearing at a very young age.
33 The heavens and the earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31
The heavens: Grk. ho ouranos. See verse 11 above. While the noun is singular it represents the intensive plural of the Hebrew word hashamayim, specifically the first and second heavens. and: Grk. kai, conj. the earth: Grk. ho gē. See verse 23 above. will pass away: Grk. parerchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. Peter echoed Yeshua's prophecy when he said,
"But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up." (2Pet 3:7, 10)
The prophecy will be fulfilled as recorded by John, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea was not any longer" (Rev 21:1 BR). The actual passing away will occur immediately before the great white throne judgment takes place (Rev 20:11). but: Grk. de, conj. My: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. words: pl. of Grk. ho logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). The plural noun refers to the specific prophecies contained in the Olivet Discourse.
will not: Grk. ou mē, lit., "not, not." See the previous verse. pass away: Grk. parerchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl. Yeshua offers a powerful contrast. This genea (generational age) will eventually end and the heavens and the earth will certainly pass away, but Yeshua's prophecies will not fail. Yeshua's words have been authentically preserved by the apostles, in spite of the efforts of modern liberals to diminish their written record. Yeshua promised during the last supper that the Spirit would "bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26 BR).
Geldenhuys observes that Yeshua does not speak as the prophets and other men of God had done: "thus has God spoken through me and therefore it will assuredly happen." Rather Yeshua speaks with his own absolute authority because he is the Son of God and One with the Father. Yeshua is not simply foretelling the future; he guarantees it. The words of the divine Logos are eternal. All that Yeshua predicted will happen.
Admonition for Readiness, 21:34-36
34 "Now take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be burdened with dissipation and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day would come upon you suddenly like a trap;
Now: Grk. de, conj. take heed: Grk. prosechō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., be on the alert, which may be used of (1) putting up one's guard; beware, take heed; or (2) of giving attention to personal obligation; take care, pay attention to. The first usage applies here. The imperative mood depicts an entreaty in the sense of the Hebrew word shamar (SH-8104), to keep, watch, guard oneself (Gen 24:6; Ex 10:28; Deut 4:9; 6:12; Tobit 4:12). to yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. lest: Grk. mēpote, conj., a marker cautiously expressing possibility of a condition to be feared. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia. See verse 14 above.
be burdened: Grk. bareō (from baros, "weight"), aor. pass. subj., 3p-pl., to weigh down, to burden; used here of psychological oppression that presses down the energy of spiritual activity (Meyer). with: Grk. en, prep. See verse 14 above. dissipation: Grk. kraipalē (from kras, "the head," and pallō, "to toss about"), engagement in drunken reveling, overindulgence. The noun refers to the giddiness and headache caused by drinking wine to excess (Thayer). The KJV has "surfeiting," which means excess or overindulgence in eating or drinking. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Ellicott notes that the word belonged, more or less, to the vocabulary of medical science.
and: Grk. kai, conj. drunkenness: Grk. methē, overindulgence of wine or strong drink; intoxication, drunkenness. Drunkenness is a consequence of drinking intoxicating beverages to such an extent as to alter the normal condition of an individual and significantly reduce his capacity for rational action and conduct. It is important to distinguish between the acceptability of consuming alcoholic beverages, particularly wine, in Scripture, and the prohibitions of drunkenness (Rom 13:13), which is one of the sins of the flesh that brings eternal condemnation (Gal 5:21). The warnings against drunkenness in Scripture exist because fermented wine was an important part of Jewish culture and some people overindulged.
and: Grk. kai. the cares: pl. of Grk. merimna, uneasiness of mind or spirit; distraction, anxiety, concern, care. of life: pl. of Grk. biōtikos, adj., what belongs to regular daily life (cf. 1Cor 6:3-4). Nicoll likens the phrase "cares of life" to the anxious questions 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' (Matt 6:31; cf. Luke 12:22). In his sermon on the mount Yeshua cautioned his disciples against giving way to worry over having the necessities of life. Worry inevitably has a negative effect on spiritual readiness and dependency on God.
and: Grk. kai. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 23 above. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 6 above. The temporal reference "that day" for the apostles likely meant the day of Jerusalem's destruction by the Romans, but for disciples living at the end of the present age "that day" refers to the day of Yeshua's return in glory and judgment of the wicked (cf. Matt 7:22; 24:36; 26:29; Luke 17:30-31; 2Th 1:10; 2Tim 1:12; 4:8). would come: Grk. ephistēmi, aor. subj., to come or stand near or by as a physical presence, whether in a non-threatening mode or a threatening mode, here the latter. upon: Grk. epi, prep. you: Grk. humeis.
suddenly: Grk. aiphnidios, adj., unexpected, unforeseen, sudden. The adjective occurs only two times in the Besekh (also 1Thess 5:3). like: Grk. hōs, adv., used here with focus on the idea of a pattern or model; as, just as, like, similar to. a trap: Grk. pagis, a capturing device, a trap or snare, here used figuratively. Digression from spiritual readiness will have devastating consequences, both immediate and eternal.
35 for it will come upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth.
for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 4 above. it will come: Grk. eperchomai, fut. mid. See verse 26 above. The verb alludes to "that day" in the previous verse. upon: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 10 above. The preposition emphasizes personal experience. all: Grk. pas, adj., m.pl. See verse 3 above. We should note that "all" doesn't leave any out. those: Grk. ho, definite article, m.pl., but used here as a relative pronoun. dwelling: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat; also equivalent to having a fixed abode, to dwell. The verb in this context also has the focus of being at rest with leisure.
upon: Grk. epi. The preposition is used here of place. the face: Grk. prosōpon is normally used to mean the face, by which someone is identified, or the countenance or visage projected by someone. In the LXX prosōpon translates Heb. paneh (SH-6440) "face," first for the physical surface of the ground (Gen 2:6), then the face or presence of ADONAI (Gen 3:8) and then the countenance of a person (Gen 4:5). Prosōpon also translates Heb. aph (SH-639), nostril, nose or face (Gen 2:7). of all: Grk. pas, f.s. the earth: Grk. ho gē. See verse 23 above.
The "face of the earth" is a Hebrew idiom that occurs frequently in the Tanakh, and used for the entire planet (Gen 8:13), but primarily for the land surface of the planet (Gen 4:14), the home of humans, mammals, reptiles and birds (Gen 7:23). The phrase "the face of all the earth" denotes the land continents and islands on which humans dwell.
36 Also watch in every season, praying that you may have ability to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Parallel Passage: Mark 13:33.
Also: Grk. de, conj. watch: Grk. agrupneō (from a, "not" and hupnos, "sleep"), pres. imp., 2p-pl., to be on the hunt for sleep, i.e., to be sleepless, to lie awake. As a command this word means to be watchful, alert or vigilant. Paul uses the noun agrupnia to describe his watching in sleepless nights endured for the sake of the congregations (2Cor 6:5; 11:27). In the LXX agrupneō occurs eleven times, chiefly for Heb. shaqad ("watch," "wake" BDB 1052), e.g., Ezra 8:29; Job 21:32; Ps 102:7; 127:1; Prov 8:34 (DNTT 2:137). The verb occurs without Hebrew equivalent in 2Sam 12:21 for the sleeplessness as a result of fasting.
In Ezra the staying awake was a priestly function to provide security for money destined for the Temple (Ezra 8:29). Staying awake was also a necessity for persistent prayer (Ps 102:7). In ancient times watching was the duty of the watchman (Heb. shōp̄eh) who served as a guardian on the wall to warn of any danger to the city (Ps 127:1). Relevant to this context is the admonition of ADONAI:
"On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind ADONAI, take no rest for yourselves; 7 And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." )
In the present day it is important to keep a watch on what is happening in Israel, since the Land of Israel is the focus of God's prophetic activity. Indeed watching is an outward focus of the mind. In so doing spiritual watching is the antidote to lazy thinking that leads to carnal and self-centered thoughts. Yeshua called his disciples to develop a habit of watchfulness over their thinking in order to protect their spiritual house.
in: Grk. en, prep. every: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. season: Grk. kairos. See verse 8 above. The noun could refer to the four periods of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter). The noun could also be intended to have a prophetic meaning of momentous events occurring that necessitate the expected watching. Also, the noun may allude to "seasons" or times when God calls certain individuals to intense watching supplication. Watching is necessary to prevent being surprised and thereby discouraged by the prophesied tribulation (2Tim 3:12; 1Pet 4:12; 1Jn 3:13), especially when the secret rapture does not occur as promised by Dispensationalists.
praying: Grk. deomai, masc. pl. pres. mid. part., direct a request with focus on appeal for assistance, the nature of which is nuanced by the context; ask, beseech, petition, pray, plead, request. In the LXX deomai translates four Hebrew words: (1) the particle na (SH-4994), used in prayers of entreaty, Gen 19:18; (2) the particle of entreaty bi (SH-994) in Gen 43:20; (3) chalah (SH-2470), to appease or seek the favor of in order to placate God's anger (Ex 32:11); and (4) chanan (SH-2603), to beseech, plead for mercy (1Kgs 8:33).
The verb, unlike the regular verb for praying (proseuchomai), specifically denotes intercessory prayer, urgently entreating God, sometimes "night and day," to achieve a spiritual goal (cf. Luke 10:2; 22:32; Acts 4:31; 10:2; Rom 1:10; 1Th 3:10). The plural form of the participle could refer to corporate prayer of small groups or the entire congregation (cf. Acts 12:5), or of multiple occasions of intercession. Persistent daily prayer by one person can be the means through whom God unleashes His power to accomplish miraculous wonders (cf. Luke 18:1; Jas 5:17).
The noun deēsis, "prayer," derived from deomai, denotes an earnest expectant appeal to God for others, for some spiritual goal or for the fulfillment of God's promises (Rom 10:1; 2Cor 1:11; 9:14; Eph 6:18; Php 1:4, 19; 1Tim 2:1; 5:5; 2Tim 1:3; Heb 5:7; Jas 5:16). This kind of focused praying is often accompanied by fasting (Luke 2:37). However, a food fast is only a spiritual exercise if prayer replaces the time of eating. "Prayer and fasting" is in reality "prayer and more prayer," especially persistent intercession (cf. Ezra 8:21-23; Neh 1:4; Dan 9:3; 1Th 5:17). From a biblical perspective prayerless-fasting is a contradiction in terms. See my article Fasting.
Yeshua then identifies two goals of the watching and praying. that: Grk. hina, conj. you may have ability: Grk. katischuō, aor. pass. subj., 2p-pl., have resource to overcome or have capability to deal with a problem; prevail, overpower, be superior in strength. to escape: Grk. ekpheugō, aor. inf., to seek safety in flight, to flee out of, flee away, escape. Yeshua advised his disciples to flee from persecution (Matt 10:23; verse 21 above). all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. that: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. are about: Grk. mellō, pl. pres. part. See verse 7 above. to take place: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. inf. See verse 7 above.
The clause "all these things that are about to take place" likely alludes to the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem and oppression by the Romans (verse 20-24 above), only forty years into the future. The temporal reference could also pertain to distant future events since the construction of ho mellō ginomai is used in Yeshua's revelation to John in c. A.D. 95 of events to take place at the end of the age (Rev 1:19). Thus, the exhortation would apply to all disciples in all ages.
and: Grk. kai, conj. to stand: Grk. histēmi, aor. pass. inf., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The first meaning applies here. The verb alludes to the result of resurrection (cf. Luke 20:35) with the added spiritual meaning of standing with confidence (Jude 1:24).
before: Grk. emprosthen, prep., expresses position that is in front or ahead; before, in front of. the Son: Grk. ho huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. All three meanings can have application here.
of Man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for humans as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5); (2) ish, SH-376, an adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, a man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5); as well as Aram. enash, man (Ezra 6:11) (DNTT 2:564).
The title "Son of Man" alludes to the prophecy of Daniel 7:13. The title "Son of Man" is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. Christian interpreters typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his humanity, and treat "Son of God" as pertaining to his deity. In Hebraic thought these expressions mean just the opposite. "Son of God" is a Messianic title that refers to the Davidic king who reigns as God's regent on earth (Ps 80:15-2; cf. Ps 2:7, 12; 110:1; John 1:49). "Son of Man" is the eschatological supra–natural figure from heaven who establishes a kingdom on the earth (Dan 7:13–14, 27; cf. Matt 25:31). For a full discussion on this important title see the note on John 1:51.
The clause "to stand before the Son of Man" alludes to the prophecy that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah when he comes in glory with the angels (Matt 25:31-32; Rom 14:10; 2Cor 5:10; 1Th 3:13). We must overcome the evil one in the present age in order to be spiritually ready for the great day of judgment in which we anticipate hearing, "well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt 25:21; Luke 19:17).
Passion Week Schedule, 21:37-38
37 Now He was in the temple teaching during the day, but at evening going out he was passing the night on the mountain called olives.
Now: Grk. de, conj. He was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 7 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the temple: Grk. ho hieron. See verse 5 above. teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. part., to impart instruction. In the LXX didaskō is used primarily to translate Heb. lamad (SH-3925), exercise in, learn, teach (Deut 4:1; Ps 119:99). In its LXX usage the verb means chiefly instruction in how to live (e.g., Deut 11:19; 20:18) (DNTT 3:760). during the day: pl. of Grk. ho hēmera. See verse 6 above. The noun refers to daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, and the plural form refers to Tuesday through Thursday of his final week.
but: Grk. de. at evening: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. going out: Grk. exerchomai, pres. mid. part., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. The verb signals departure from the temple. he was passing the night: Grk. aulizomai, impf. mid., lodge in the open, lodge, pass the night in the open air. on: Grk. eis, prep. the mountain: Grk. ho oros. See verse 21 above. called: Grk. kaleō, pres. pass. part., may mean (1) express something aloud; say, call, summon; (2) solicit participation; call, invite; or (3) identify by name or give a term to, call. The third meaning applies here.
olives: pl. of Grk. Elaia (for Heb. zayith; pl. zêtim; SH-2132), an olive, an olive tree, an olive grove. The Hebrew name for the mountain is Har HaZeitim, given for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. Some versions use the Anglicized name "Olivet." The Mount of Olives is located across the Kidron Valley, part of the two and a half mile-long mountain ridge, or more precisely, the middle of the three peaks forming the ridge. The ridge juts out in a north-south direction (like a spur) from the range of mountains running down the center of the region. The Mount of Olives rises 2,676 feet above sea level, but only about 175 feet higher than Jerusalem (NIBD 554, 731). In the days of the Israelite monarchy it provided a lookout base and signaling point for armies defending Jerusalem.
This verse serves as a summary statement of Yeshua's activities during his last week prior to his death, especially his daily teaching in the temple. Beginning of Monday of his final week Yeshua spent his evenings on the Mount of Olives (cf. Mark 11:19). For a detail list of his activities each day see my article The Final Days of Yeshua.
38 And all the people were coming in the morning to him in the temple to hear him.
And: Grk. kai, conj. all: Grk. pas, adj. Gill notes that the adjective does not denote all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but simply a large number. the people: Grk. ho laos. See verse 23 above. were coming in the morning: Grk. orthrizō, impf., to rise early, come in the morning. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh, but it does occur frequently in the LXX for Heb. shakam (SH-7925), to rise or start early (e.g., Gen 19:2, 27; 20:8; Ex 8:20; 9:13; 24:4; 32:6; 34:4; Num 14:40; Josh 3:1). to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110), to, towards, with. Here the preposition denotes being in company with others and speaking face to face.
him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. in: Grk. en, prep., within, inside. the temple: Grk. ho hieron. See verse 5 above. The location could have been in the Court of the Women as in the beginning of this chapter. to hear: Grk. akouō, pres. inf. See verse 9 above. The infinitive expresses purpose. him: Grk. autos. The morning prayer service took place coincidental with the sacrifice in the third hour, about 9:00-10:00 A.M. (cf. Luke 1:9-10). However, the people were not arriving early for the prayer service, but to hear Yeshua teach. The masses hung on his words.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews (Latin Antiquitates Judaicae). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Dorotheus: Dorotheus (255-362), Bishop of Tyre, The Choosing of the Seventy Holy Apostles. Online.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Geldenhuys: Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951. (NICNT)
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Hippolytus: Hippolytus of Rome (170-236), On the Seventy Apostles. Online.
Ladd: George E. Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972.
Liefeld: Walter L. Liefeld, Luke. Vol. 8, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon Luke, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), Vol. 3. Hendrickson Pub., 1989.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Schaff: Philip Schaff, The History of the Christian Church. 8 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
Wars: Flavius Josephus (Yosef ben Matityahu; c. 75-99 A.D.), Wars of the Jews. trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
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