Luke 21

The widow’s generous gift is announced; Jesus predicts wars and persecutions and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He teaches the lesson of the fig tree and all the trees and says the destruction shall happen in his generation. He then says that the Son of Man is coming back (later). He warns his disciples to watch and not get intoxicated.

As I write in every chapter:

This commentary and entire website is for everyone, but it is mainly for those in oppressed or developing countries, where Christians cannot afford or have access to wonderful Study Bibles or commentaries. I hope it helps them.

The translation is mine. I wrote it to learn what the Greek text really says. The translation tends to be literal, but complete literalism and readability are impossible, so adjustments had to be made. If readers don’t read Greek, they can ignore the left side of the tables. I include the language to check my work and for Greek readers, who can also check my translation.

If you would like to see other translations, please go to The Greek terms with brief definitions can be looked up at However, I hope to bring different nuances to the few words I focus on. And I keep things nontechnical.

The commentary has a practical application (GrowApp) at the end of each section of Scripture, for discipleship.

Links are provided for further study.

Let’s begin.

The Widow’s Offering (Luke 21:1-4)

1 Ἀναβλέψας δὲ εἶδεν τοὺς βάλλοντας εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον τὰ δῶρα αὐτῶν πλουσίους. 2 εἶδεν δέ τινα χήραν πενιχρὰν βάλλουσαν ἐκεῖ λεπτὰ δύο, 3 καὶ εἶπεν· ἀληθῶς λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων ἔβαλεν· 4 πάντες γὰρ οὗτοι ἐκ τοῦ περισσεύοντος αὐτοῖς ἔβαλον εἰς τὰ δῶρα, αὕτη δὲ ἐκ τοῦ ὑστερήματος αὐτῆς πάντα τὸν βίον ὃν εἶχεν ἔβαλεν. 1 After he looked up, he saw the rich tossing their gifts into the contribution receptacle. 2 Then he saw a certain impoverished widow who tossed two copper coins in there, 3 and he said, “Truly I tell you that this widow, being poor, tossed in more than everyone! 4 For all these others tossed in out of their abundance, but out of her lack she tossed in all of her livelihood which she had!”



Mark 12:43 says that Jesus was watching those who put in money, inspecting them. He was deliberate; the observation was not by chance.

“contribution receptacle”: Commentator Darrell Bock points out that there were thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles in the temple forecourt by the Court of Women. Or the contribution receptacle may instead refer to the room by the Court of Women, which served a variety of purposes. However, the fact that they tossed in their money indicates that the receptacles are intended. These gifts were freewill offerings used for temple worship.

“copper coin”: (lepton in Greek) it was the smallest currency possible, whose value was one-eighth of a penny or one one-hundredth of a denarius. A denarius was the standard pay for a farm laborer. So she gave one one-hundredth of a day laborer’s wage (Bock vol. 2, p. 1645). This was really small!


She gave out of her great “need” or “deficiency” (both are possible translations of “lack” in v. 4), so she gave sacrificially. I have a post on why tithing ten percent off of gross pay is not for New Covenant believers (see link just below), but the NT authors do require generosity. And the widow went well beyond this requirement.

Scroll down to point no. 21 for an interpretation of many NT passages on giving. Once again, generosity is the key.

I can imagine the hyper-prosperity teachers demanding that widows give everything they have so that the preachers can live in gigantic houses and fly around in private jets. I heard one of them yell at the top of his voice, “Money, come forth!” (This may refer to Jesus calling Lazarus to come forth.) Recall that Jesus was tempted by the devil to have all the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5-8). Who says that God is the one who gave this hyper-prosperity teacher all of his money, possibly over one billion dollars over his entire life?

Hyper-prosperity preachers ruin it for everyone else. How?

I believe in prosperity in this sense: it takes money to run a household, and to get money, a parent or parents need jobs. They need to succeed at those jobs. Their businesses need to grow and maintain a profit. Then they can pay the bills and have money left over to give into the kingdom. They can raise kids to be the next godly and redeemed generation. They can be generous with the kingdom with their money and their productive children.

Of course the tithe teachers—who are not necessarily hyper-prosperity teachers, but wrong in other ways—use the first-fruits idea to insist that people give ten percent taken from gross pay. However, these teachers do not take into account that part of the tithe was used to sustain a small welfare state, which today our taxes pay for. Therefore, giving ten percent off gross pay is a serious misinterpretation of the OT. They also don’t interpret the NT properly, after the cross and Pentecost, when the Christian communities were forming. These misinterpretations may be accidental or sloppy study, or they may see what is right, but they cave in to fear, motivated out of a need to meet huge budgets. Whatever the case, they are wrong.

Bottomline: We need more balance in our giving. Generosity is the key. Also, mega-church pastors and parachurch CEO’s need to voluntarily live more modestly and prudently.

Why Tithing Does Not Apply to New Covenant Believers

Jesus Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple (Luke 21:5-33)

5 Καί τινων λεγόντων περὶ τοῦ ἱεροῦ ὅτι λίθοις καλοῖς καὶ ἀναθήμασιν κεκόσμηται εἶπεν· 6 ταῦτα ἃ θεωρεῖτε ἐλεύσονται ἡμέραι ἐν αἷς οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται λίθος ἐπὶ λίθῳ ὃς οὐ καταλυθήσεται.

7 Ἐπηρώτησαν δὲ αὐτὸν λέγοντες· διδάσκαλε, πότε οὖν ταῦτα ἔσται καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον ὅταν μέλλῃ ταῦτα γίνεσθαι;

8 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· βλέπετε μὴ πλανηθῆτε· πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες· ἐγώ εἰμι, καί· ὁ καιρὸς ἤγγικεν. μὴ πορευθῆτε ὀπίσω αὐτῶν. 9 ὅταν δὲ ἀκούσητε πολέμους καὶ ἀκαταστασίας, μὴ πτοηθῆτε· δεῖ γὰρ ταῦτα γενέσθαι πρῶτον, ἀλλ’ οὐκ εὐθέως τὸ τέλος.

10 Τότε ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· ἐγερθήσεται ἔθνος ἐπ’ ἔθνος καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν, 11 σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι καὶ κατὰ τόπους λιμοὶ καὶ λοιμοὶ ἔσονται, φόβητρά τε καὶ ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ σημεῖα μεγάλα ἔσται.

12 Πρὸ δὲ τούτων πάντων ἐπιβαλοῦσιν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν καὶ διώξουσιν, παραδιδόντες εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς καὶ φυλακάς, ἀπαγομένους ἐπὶ βασιλεῖς καὶ ἡγεμόνας ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός μου· 13 ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον. 14 θέτε οὖν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν μὴ προμελετᾶν ἀπολογηθῆναι· 15 ἐγὼ γὰρ δώσω ὑμῖν στόμα καὶ σοφίαν ᾗ οὐ δυνήσονται ἀντιστῆναι ἢ ἀντειπεῖν ἅπαντες οἱ ἀντικείμενοι ὑμῖν. 16 παραδοθήσεσθε δὲ καὶ ὑπὸ γονέων καὶ ἀδελφῶν καὶ συγγενῶν καὶ φίλων, καὶ θανατώσουσιν ἐξ ὑμῶν, 17 καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου. 18 καὶ θρὶξ ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ὑμῶν οὐ μὴ ἀπόληται. 19 ἐν τῇ ὑπομονῇ ὑμῶν κτήσασθε τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν.

20 Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἰερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς. 21 τότε οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ φευγέτωσαν εἰς τὰ ὄρη καὶ οἱ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῆς ἐκχωρείτωσαν καὶ οἱ ἐν ταῖς χώραις μὴ εἰσερχέσθωσαν εἰς αὐτήν, 22 ὅτι ἡμέραι ἐκδικήσεως αὗταί εἰσιν τοῦ πλησθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα. 23 οὐαὶ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις· ἔσται γὰρ ἀνάγκη μεγάλη ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὀργὴ τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ, 24 καὶ πεσοῦνται στόματι μαχαίρης καὶ αἰχμαλωτισθήσονται εἰς τὰ ἔθνη πάντα, καὶ Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν, ἄχρι οὗ πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν.

25 Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα ἐν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ ἄστροις, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ ἤχους θαλάσσης καὶ σάλου, 26 ἀποψυχόντων ἀνθρώπων ἀπὸ φόβου καὶ προσδοκίας τῶν ἐπερχομένων τῇ οἰκουμένῃ, αἱ γὰρ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθήσονται. 27 καὶ τότε ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενον ἐν νεφέλῃ μετὰ δυνάμεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς. 28 ἀρχομένων δὲ τούτων γίνεσθαι ἀνακύψατε καὶ ἐπάρατε τὰς κεφαλὰς ὑμῶν, διότι ἐγγίζει ἡ ἀπολύτρωσις ὑμῶν. 29 Καὶ εἶπεν παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς· ἴδετε τὴν συκῆν καὶ πάντα τὰ δένδρα·

30 ὅταν προβάλωσιν ἤδη, βλέποντες ἀφ’ ἑαυτῶν γινώσκετε ὅτι ἤδη ἐγγὺς τὸ θέρος ἐστίν· 31 οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς, ὅταν ἴδητε ταῦτα γινόμενα, γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. 32 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται. 33 ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται.

5 Further, while some were speaking about the temple that it had been decorated beautifully with stones and votive offerings, he said: 6 “The things you see here—the days will come when not one stone will be left on another stone which will not be torn down!”

7 So they asked him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things be, and what is the sign when these things will happen?”

8 And he said, “Watch that you are not deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the one!’ and ‘The time is near!’ Don’t go after them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be terrified, for these things must happen first. However, the end is not immediate.”

10 Then he proceeded to tell them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be powerful earthquakes and famines and pestilences everywhere. There will be both frightening events and great signs in the heaven.

12 “But before all these things, they will arrest you with their hands and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors because of my name. 13 The result will be your testimony. 14 Put it in your heart not to prepare ahead to defend yourselves, 15 for I will give you speaking ability with words and wisdom which your opponents will not be able to withstand or contradict. 16 Indeed, you will be handed over even by parents and siblings and relatives and friends, and they will execute some of you. 17 You will be hated by everyone because of my name. 18 Not even a hair on your head will be lost. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

20 When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you know that its desolation is near. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains and those inside it must get out and those in the countryside must not enter it, 22 because these are the days of judgment, fulfilling everything that has been written. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and are nursing in those days! For there will be great distress upon the country and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken captive into all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the times of the nations will be completed.

25 Further, there will be great signs in the sun and moon and stars and upon the earth distress of the nations and in the perplexity of the noise of the sea and rough waves, 26 so that people will faint from fear and the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. [Dan. 7:13-14] 28 When these things begin to happen, stand up straight and lift up your head because your redemption is near!”

29 Further, he spoke an illustration to them: “Look at the fig and all the trees. 30 When they have already grown leaves, you see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 Likewise, you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 I tell you the truth: This generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.”


I don’t cover the eschatological significance in this post. Instead, I deal with basic concepts and word studies. For a fuller eschatology, please click on this post.

Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 (and 17) in Parallel Columns Are Finally Clear

For comments about Luke’s view of the Second Coming (Parousia), please click on these posts:

Luke 17:22-37 and 21:34-36 Teach the Second Coming

Luke 21:5-33 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

Please do not take a short cut by reading only the post you’re in right now and leave a comment. Read all three of those links. This present post is for discipleship.


These two verses are jarring. There was much to admire about the temple. The stones were lined up beautifully, and the offerings were arranged neatly. These offerings could have been presented as freewill offerings or as vows awaiting for redemption (see Lev. 27 for more about this).

Vows and Redemption in Leviticus 27 from a NT Perspective

Who were the people admiring the temple? Matt. 24:1 says his disciples were saying this, while Mark 13:1 says it was one of his disciples. Everyone else must have agreed. However, what’s so jarring about this dialogue is that Jesus reins in their love for the temple by predicting some bad things. Not one stone shall be left on another, a phrasing which the grammarians Culy, Parsons, and Stigall say is hyperbole for utter destruction (p. 644). I agree. The bottom stones are still intact, but the Romans did pull down some stones in AD 70.

Jesus continues predicting the things leading up to the temple. Imagine the rumors of wars coming towards Jerusalem. The Romans are coming! The Romans are coming! They would come in AD 66 with wars preceding it elsewhere in the kingdom.

There are excellent youtube videos from real historians about the build up to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 66 and how the Romans surrounded it and finally conquered it in AD 70.


During this time of general apprehensiveness, false Messiah can easily arise and claim “I am!” That’s what the Greek literally says, so translators supply the term “I am (the one)” or “I am (the Messiah).” Could this apply to today when people claim to be the son of man or a messianic person? 1 John 2:18 says that John’s audience had heard that the antichrist is coming, but even now many antichrists had come. Many false prophets had gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). All of this speaks of an army of deceivers in every generation. So the warning not to be deceived applies to our world today.


War and insurrections or uprisings happened back then. When they do, don’t be terrified. The end is not straight ahead or “at once” (ESV). Other signs must be fulfilled.

So what will come first, before the destruction of the Jerusalem and the temple?

Nations will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.

Earthquakes and famines and pestilences (generic and can happen anywhere)

Terrible events (something unusual that provokes terror, say the grammarians) and signs from heaven


“But before all these things”: And now we step back in time before all these awful things happen. So what will happen before that list? Here are some things:

They will persecute the disciples and nab them with their hands or arrest them

They will be handed over to the synagogues and prisons

They will be brought before kings and governors

However, they can give their testimony

How should the disciples respond? They should place it in their hearts or settle it in their minds or determine or resolve (all translations of the same Greek clause) not to get so anxious that they stay up half the night, plotting what to say at their trial. Jesus himself will put the right words at the right time and with great power because he will be with them. Their adversaries or opponents won’t be able to stand up against them or contradict them—at least not honestly. They can lie, of course.

“speaking ability with words”: all of that translates the Greek noun “mouth.” So it could have been translated, “I shall give a mouth.” My expanded translation explains the meaning of the Greek idiom.

Jesus had already predicted these bad things during the disciple’s ministry, before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (Matt. 10:16-22). “For truly I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matt. 10:23, ESV). This means before he comes in judgment over Jerusalem and the temple, when the Romans sacked them in AD 70.

Once again, see this post

Luke 21:5-33 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

Before that terrible event happens, parents and siblings (the Greek literally says “brothers,” but this is generic, so I chose “siblings,” to account for both sexes) and relatives and friends will deliver up the Jesus followers. The authorities will put some of them to death. The disciples will be hated by everyone—not a happy promise!

However, let’s combine vv. 18 and 19. Not a hair on their head will perish or be lost, and they will gain their lives by their endurance. How does that work? This means that God is watching out for them. Matt. 10:30 and Luke 12:7 say they should not fear people because the very hairs on the disciples’ head are numbered. This is a generalization, with the image of “very hairs.” There is no need to over-analyze it as if he was speaking literally and comprehensively, because—who knows?—maybe one hair was lost, while the disciple was sitting in prison! The promise of protection was a strong way of saying God is watching over his persecuted follower. Back in vv. 18-19, if they persevere and endure the sufferings, they will win a martyr’s crown or escape unscathed. Either way, God was providing for them and on their deaths they will get a new (spiritual) body.

Let’s summarize this pericope (pronounced pair-RI-koh-pea) or section of Scripture.

In this passage it is clear that Jesus introduces what will happen leading up to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem (vv. 20-24).

Environment and Events before the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem:

Betrayals and persecutions and trials and even martyrdoms

False Messiahs who can deceive

Earthquakes, famines, pestilences (can happen at any time and everywhere)

Hearing of wars and insurrections (people revolted against Rome)

Nations against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms (actual wars, which happened in the empire before Rome sacked Jerusalem)

Terrible events and great signs from heaven (possibly anticipates vv. 25-28)

They all add up to an image of terror before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.


This verse speaks of the desolation of Jerusalem. Matt. 24:15 connects the city being surrounded by armies as the desolation of sacrilege spoken by the prophet Daniel (Dan. 7:27, 11:31, 12:11). Mark 13:14-20 says it is the desolating sacrilege. Clearly, then Luke 21:20, Matt. 24:15, and Mark 13:14 are the same event. It is the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem and their destruction of the temple. The Roman army stomped all over the temple and even took the menorah and other costly and sacred items. This fulfills Daniel’s prophecy about the abomination of desolation.

See this post and scroll down to see the Arch of Titus and the Jewish Menorah attached to it. Romans stomped all over the temple and the Holy Place.

Matthew 24:4-35 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple


Jesus tells what the believers in Jerusalem and in province of Judea are supposed to do. If they’re in Judea, head for the hills. If they’re in Jerusalem, get out or depart. If they’re in the country, they must not go back inside. Run, everyone, run! This is what the earliest Jewish Christian communities did, too. Recall that thousands of Jews in Jerusalem and Judea converted to their Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) (Acts 2:41, 47; 4:4; 6:1, 7; 21:20). In AD 66 as the Roman armies approached Jerusalem, the Christians did run.  Jerusalem was sacked in AD 70 and the temple destroyed with it. Jesus is about to say that this generation will not pass away until all of this has taken place (Luke 21:32). From about AD 30 to 70 fits the description of a generation.


Every prophecy spoken in judgment against Jerusalem in the OT is about to be fulfilled because the Jerusalem establishment rejected their true Messiah, Jesus. It is the day of punishment and vengeance. God’s wrath is not irrational, but judicial and judicious. He takes his time.

It is not like this:


But like this:


That is a picture of God in judgment.

The Wrath of God in the New Testament

Do I Really Know God? He Shows Wrath

The Wrath of God in the Old Testament

Everyone Shall Be Judged by Their Works and Words

Word Study on Judgment

Bible Basics about the Final Judgment

People bring God’s judgment / punishment / vengeance down on their own heads. It’s amazing to think that it really happened. As a parallel to the judgment in A.D. 70, God will return yet another time, and this time vengeance / punishment / and wrath will come down on the whole earth. It will happen. It shall happen!

But for now, the destruction of Jerusalem fulfills everything and makes old Judaism obsolete.

13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. (Heb. 8:13, NIV)

In practical, ritual terms, the Roman army eliminated the Old Sinai Covenant and made the old sacrificial and religious system obsolete.


This verse gets personal for women and then it goes nationwide. For women, they must take steps to prepare when they are pregnant and nursing. This speaks of the broader perspective of general preparation of fleeing (v. 21).

Now we come to the interesting part. Who knew that my interpretation hinges on one Greek noun: (pronounced gay, and the g is hard as in “get”). Do we translate it as “earth” (the whole inhabited earth or world, as they knew it around the Mediterranean world and beyond)? Or “soil, earth, ground” (more for farming)? “Dry land” (as distinct from water, which is too vague here)? “Land, region, country” (more local than the whole inhabited world)? Or does it stand in for “men, humankind” (this latter meaning does not occur frequently)? All of these translations are possible, according to the Shorter Lexicon.

However, this whole pericope is talking about a local event: the sacking of Jerusalem and the abomination of desolation in the temple. So it is out of context to translate it as “the whole inhabited world,” but soon it will not be, when Jesus shifts his focus to a global Second Coming, patterned after the this coming in judgment on Jerusalem. For right now, though, I choose country because Judea is pictured and Jerusalem sits in this province. This judgment does not (yet) encompass the whole known world, but it will ripple outwardly and prove to the foretaste of Christ’s coming, visible globally.


More evidence that this event is local, not global. It was a terrible event when Jerusalem was sacked. Yet Jesus’s return has global repercussions, as we see next. Luke focus here is on the short term (fall of Jerusalem).

The time of the Gentiles mean that Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles, which has happened from then to now, particularly with two mosques on the temple mount, right on top of Herod’s old temple. Paul argues the same in Rom. 11:25-26. Israel is still in God’s plan, when the fulness of Gentiles comes in and Israel responds to the gospel (Rom. 11:12-12, 15, 30-32).

“nations” could be translated as “Gentiles.”

Does the Land of Israel Belong to Jews Today by Covenant?

“times”: it is plural in Greek, and it means the current age. Let’s look at the broad meaning in Greek. The noun is kairos (pronounced kye-ross and is used 85 times), which speaks more of a quality time than quantity. BDAG is considered by many to be the authoritative lexicon of the Greek NT, and it defines the noun as follows: (1) a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology. (a) Generally a welcome time or difficult timefruitful times; (b) a moment or period as especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time … at the right time; (2) a defined period for an event, definite, fixed time (e.g. period of fasting or mourning in accord with the changes in season), in due time (Gal. 6:9); (3) a period characterized by some aspect of special crisis, time; (a) generally the present time (Rom. 13:11; 12:11); (b) One of the chief terms relating to the endtime … the time of crisis, the last times.

All of this stand in a mild contrast—not a sharp contrast—from chronos, another word for time (pronounced khro-noss), which measures one day, one week or one month after another. We get out word chronology from it.


Now we see signs in the sun, moon, and stars, and distress of nations on the earth. So is the same Greek noun for earth local of global (around the Mediterranean world and beyond)? Or is this just apocalyptic language, which is super-charged when a nation or capital or king is being judged? More on that, below.

Nature reacting apocalyptically is comprehensive in this verse: the sky and the seas. The inhabited world (v. 26) will also be frightened. Many Bible interpreters say this reaction is literal, and it has not happened yet, so vv. 25-28 have nothing to do with judgment on Jerusalem, when Christ comes in judgment on the city. However, I present three options for how to interpret vv. 25-28. It is not so straightforward as we may think.

See my link about cosmic disasters:

Cosmic Disasters = Apocalyptic Imagery for Judgment and Major Change


Men will faint or get so discouraged and disheartened that they become immobile. They are frozen with fear and with the expectation or dread of what is coming on the inhabited world. So this seems to lift vv. 25-28 to go way beyond judgment on Jerusalem (a local event) and speaks of the very end of the age, and that’s partly true, but once again see the three options below. It is not so clear cut. Again, the heaven shaking is standard imagery for God’s judgment on a nation or city or king.

“powers”: it is the plural of the noun dunamis (or dynamis) (pronounced doo-na-mees or dee-na-mis, but most teachers prefer the first one). It is often translated as “power,” but also “miracle” or “miraculous power.” It means power in action, not static, but kinetic. It moves. Yes, we get our word dynamite from it, but God is never out of control, like dynamite is. Its purpose is to usher in the kingdom of God and repair and restore broken humanity, both in body and soul.

For nearly all the references of that word and a developed theology, please click on Miracles, Signs and Wonders.

What Are Signs and Wonders and Miracles?


Christ will come with clouds and with power and much glory. This is apocalyptic language. OT verses cited below. It mainly refers to Daniel 7:13-14, which says, “with clouds of heaven there came one like the son of Man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.”

Power: see v. 26 for more comments, though the meaning of the same noun is different in this verse. Context, context, context!


Great news! How are we supposed to respond to all the apocalyptic language and his judgment? We are to stand up straight and look up, because our redemption is near. Christ will come and redeem us.

What Is Redemption in the Bible?


This term calls for some comment. It means “before” or “already.” An event has already passed by or already happened before our time or point of view. So in this context a partial preterist believes that some of the events described in the comparative table have already been fulfilled, while others have not. “Full preterism” says that all the events have been fulfilled, even the Second Coming in the future from now! The Second Coming already happened. For example, a video on youtube says Christ has already come, so there is no need for him to return again, even in the future. Everything has already happened.

However, I regard this interpretation to be a misreading of Scripture. The global, visible Second Coming that will change everything has not yet happened. Here are two sample verses.

The first epistle of John was written in the 90’s, long after the destruction of the temple and long after Paul and Peter lived (they died before the destruction). It says of the Second Coming: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Therefore, in the early 90’s the Lord did not yet return. The early church was waiting for it in their days.

Rev. 1:7 seems to pose a problem. It reads: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” How can the Roman soldiers who pierced him stand with those at the end of the earth? It seems to me that this verse refers to a long time lag, between the cross and the outreach to the whole world. There’s a wide chronological distance between the two eschatological time frames or bookends. The Roman soldiers will see him when they are reunited with bodies and see him descend and are judged (John 5:28-29).

(Alternatively, they will see him with the eyes of faith when he comes in judgment on Jerusalem and the temple, which happened in A.D. 66-70.)

Separate Rapture?

None of the synoptic passages in Matt. 24, Mark 13, and here in Luke 21 teach a separate rapture. They are all about his coming in power and glory. Jesus has come the first time at his birth, the advent, and he is now teaching us that he will come a second time. This is streamlined simplicity, like this:

First Coming → Church Age ———————— Second Coming

Please see my post:

Rapture = Second Coming and Happen at Same Time and on Last Day.

There is no need and no biblical warrant to muddy the waters with a separate rapture. Let’s keep the plain things the main things, and a separate rapture is not a plain teaching in the synoptic parallels in Matt. 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.

For fuller charts, go to Luke 9:26:

Luke 9


“parable”: literally, the noun parable (parabolē in Greek) combines para– (pronounced pah-rah and means “alongside”) and bolē (pronounced boh-lay and means “put” or even “throw”). Therefore, a parable puts two or more images or ideas alongside each other to produce a clear truth. It is a story or narrative or short comparison that reveals the kingdom of God and the right way to live in it and the Father’s ways of dealing with humanity and his divine plan expressed in his kingdom and life generally. The Shorter Lexicon says that the Greek word parabolē can sometimes be translated as “symbol,” “type,” “figure,” and “illustration,” the latter term being virtually synonymous with parable.

What Is a Parable?

“fig tree”: some interpreters point out that Israel is likened to a fig tree (Jer. 8:13; Jer. 24; Mic. 7:1), but here it is all trees. Jesus is making another point. It’s just a simple sign to read: trees sprouting leaves. Now you know that summer is near. I see no reason to make a big TV production about sign watching, when the signs described above is not unclear. Just before Jerusalem was sacked, clear things happened, like the Roman armies surrounding it.


“I tell you the truth”: “truth” comes from the word amēn (pronounced ah-main and comes into English as amen). It expresses the authority of the one who utters it. The Hebrew root ’mn means faithfulness, reliability and certainty. It could be translated as “truly I tell you” or I tell you with certainty.” Jesus’s faith in his own words is remarkable and points to his unique calling. In the OT and later Jewish writings is indicates a solemn pronouncement. It means we must pay attention to it, for it is authoritative. He is about to declare an important and solemn message or statement. The clause appears only on the lips of Jesus.

“These things”: what he had just described. We don’t need a sign-watching industry on Christian TV. Someone sneezes in Israel, and Bible prophecy teachers pull out their charts faster than a gun slinger. A book was published a few years back, which talked about four blood moons. The author, a famous Bible prophecy teacher, said that the moon looked like blood (Joel 2:31). I can’t categorically deny that this is some sort of precursor to the Second Coming, but I prefer to interpret apocalyptic language in its own context. It is not to be interpreted literally. However, if the sun and moon really are replaced with the new Jerusalem (the people of God) coming to earth, and God is the light, then so be it. But I don’t think the four blood moons of the book fit the signs, however.

Once again:

Cosmic Disasters = Apocalyptic Imagery for Judgment and Major Change

We shall see.

“the kingdom of God is near”: Jesus was ushering in the kingdom throughout his ministry, but in this context the kingdom will be fully and powerfully and gloriously manifested at his Second Coming. Alternatively, when Jesus ascends and comes in judgment on Jerusalem, his kingdom will be manifested to a certain powerful degree. It recalls all the apocalyptic language both in the OT and in the synoptic parallels. They speak of a powerful revelation of God’s power in judgment, which Jesus equates with the kingdom of God. Maybe this is another form of the already and not yet, form our point of view today.

Let’s study the kingdom generically:

What is it? As noted in other verses that mention the kingdom in this commentary, the kingdom is God’s power, authority, rule, reign and sovereignty. He exerts all those things over all the universe but more specifically over the lives of people. It is his invisible realm, and throughout the Gospels Jesus is explaining and demonstrating what it looks like before their very eyes and ears. It is gradually being manifested from the realm of faith to the visible realm, but it is not political in the human sense. It is a secret kingdom because it does not enter humanity with trumpets blaring and full power and glory. This grand display will happen when Jesus comes back. In his first coming, it woos people to surrender to it. We can enter God’s kingdom by being born again (John 3:3, 5), by repenting (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:5), by having the faith of children (Matt. 18:4; Mark 10:14-15), by being transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son whom God loves (Col. 1:13), and by seeing their own poverty and need for the kingdom (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20; Jas. 2:5).

However, in this context, the kingdom is the coming one.

Bible Basics about the Kingdom of God

Questions and Answers about Kingdom of God

Basic Definition of Kingdom of God

1 Introducing the Kingdom of God (begin a ten-part series)

“this generation shall not pass away until these things happen”:

How do we interpret this verse?

Once again, please see this post:

Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 (and 17) in Parallel Columns Are Finally Clear

Scroll down to unit 18. Jesus’s prediction was perfectly accurate. His generation really did see the coming in judgment on Jerusalem and the temple.

Also see this link:

What Jesus Really Taught about End Times

GrowApp for Luke 21:5-33

A.. We may not need an entire sign-watching industry on Christian TV, but we can spot a sign or two. Can you think of a sign that has happened in your lifetime or in recent history that indicates that the Second Coming is getting closer?

B.. Read v. 28. How do you stand up straight and lift your head during the worst trial of your life?

Jesus Now Teaches the Second Coming (Luke 21:34-38)

34 Προσέχετε δὲ ἑαυτοῖς μήποτε βαρηθῶσιν ὑμῶν αἱ καρδίαι ἐν κραιπάλῃ καὶ μέθῃ καὶ μερίμναις βιωτικαῖς καὶ ἐπιστῇ ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς αἰφνίδιος ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνη 35 ὡς παγίς· ἐπεισελεύσεται γὰρ ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς καθημένους ἐπὶ πρόσωπον πάσης τῆς γῆς. 36 ἀγρυπνεῖτε δὲ ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ δεόμενοι ἵνα κατισχύσητε ἐκφυγεῖν ταῦτα πάντα τὰ μέλλοντα γίνεσθαι καὶ σταθῆναι ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

37 Ἦν δὲ τὰς ἡμέρας ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ διδάσκων, τὰς δὲ νύκτας ἐξερχόμενος ηὐλίζετο εἰς τὸ ὄρος τὸ καλούμενον Ἐλαιῶν· 38 καὶ πᾶς ὁ λαὸς ὤρθριζεν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἀκούειν αὐτοῦ.

34 Watch yourselves that your hearts are not weighed down with partying, drunkenness, and the anxieties of ordinary life. Yes, that day will come upon you suddenly 35 like a trap. For it shall come on everyone inhabiting the face of the whole earth. 36 Stay awake in every season, asking that you can prevail to escape all these things that will happen and to stand before the Son of Man.

37 He was teaching in the temple during the day, and at night going out and finding lodging at the mount called Olives. 38 And all the people got up early and came to him in the temple, to listen to him.


Jesus has now shifted the topic from the judgment on the temple to his Second Coming or Parousia, which has not yet happened, after two thousand years (and counting). The basic meaning of Parousia is “being there alongside” (para + ousia or para + eimi, say lexicographers Liddell and Scott. It means “visitation” or “arrival.” The best image is of an emperor who travels in a ship to visit one of his cities. Then the dignitaries of the city go out to meet him and escort him back to the city. They do not reembark on his ship and then disappear for three-and-half or seven years.

For more information on the term Parousia, see this post:

What Does ‘Parousia’ Mean?

No, Luke does not use the term Parousia here, but in 17:30 he says the Son of Man will be “revealed,” and the context there is clearly the Second Coming (Parousia)

I have covered this evidence for the Second Coming in vv. 34-36 in this post on Luke 17:22-37

Luke 17:22-37 and 21:34-36 Teach the Second Coming

Please click on the above link and read how Luke teaches the Second Coming.

The rest of this post (vv. 34-38) is really just a few key word studies and basic concepts.


“ordinary life”: it come from one word with the bi– stem in it or life” biōtikos (pronounced bee-oh-tih-koss), and it means “belonging to (daily) life, ordinary.” It is not the extraordinary events of life that weight us down, but the daily grind and anxieties.

“partying”: it appears only here and means “drunken behavior which is completely without moral restraint” (Culy, Parsons, Stigall, p. 659).

“drunkenness”: it can be expanded in our day to getting high on any intoxicant, even marijuana.

“that day” is the day of the Lord or the return in judgment of Christ.


“trap”: it speaks of the device slamming down on the unprepared and unwatchful. He is speaking to his disciples. Don’t get caught in it.

“face of the entire earth”: that’s proper translation (the noun is and is pronounced gay, and see v. 23 for more details). However, “face of the whole or all the earth” makes the idea go beyond Israel.


You can ask that the Lord help you by giving you the ability and capacity to escape the terrible events of the Lord and stand before the Son of Man. Standing before him means you can face him at judgment. Don’t deny him or be ashamed of him before men, or else he will deny you or be ashamed of you, when he comes in his own glory and the glory of his Father and holy angels (Luke 9:26).

“escape”: the Greek verb is ekpheugō (pronounced ek-few-go) and means “run away, seek safety in flight” (Acts. 19:16); “escape” (Luke 21:36; 16:27; Rom. 2:3; Heb. 12:35). I hope no one interprets this verse to mean a “separate rapture.” As noted, here is my understanding of the Second Coming:

Rapture = Second Coming and Happen at Same Time and on Last Day

Its basic meaning is to “flee out” from the epicenter of trouble; it does not mean to “flee up”!

The early church believed in the first coming and the Second Coming. Period. It is streamlined simplicity, with no complications.

“all things that will happen”: “all things” refers to the moral degradation (partying, drunkenness, and anxiety


This is great summary to end this chapter. He taught regularly in the temple, yet he had already predicted his death (9:21-22; 43b-45; 18:31-34). How peaceful and strong he is to teach like this when his death was imminent. It shows the power of the Spirit in his life.


Luke’s readers were thus reminded that it was not the people of Israel who rejected the Son of God and the gospel message but rather official Israel. This, along with the statement that Jesus taught every day in the temple, indicates to the readers that Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing. His ministry “was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). His teaching was open for all to hear. Because of this teaching ministry, Theophilus and the other readers could also be assured that the teachings they had received (Luke 1:4) were not imaginary or later creations but came from their Master Teacher who every day taught openly in the temple. (comment on v. 38)

I add: recall that thousands of Jews converted to their Messiah in Acts: 2:41; 4:4; 6:7 [many priests]; 21:20).

The Mount of Olives was to the west of Jerusalem. Did he sleep out under the stars (the Greek can mean “spend the night”)? Or did he find lodging with Lazarus, Mary and Martha?

People woke up early in the morning and prepared themselves, getting ready, to listen to him. Culy, Parsons and Stigall say, “to get up early in the morning and go about one’s affairs” (p. 661). This means they carried out their daily living, like getting breakfast and the kids ready, and then they went out early to the temple to listen. Jesus really did have a successful teaching ministry. This is the drawing power of the Father and the Spirit. No hype. No “moon walks” on the platform. No shrieking and freaking. No dancing and prancing. Just pure and powerful and attractive teaching about his Father, life in the kingdom, and what the kingdom was.

GrowApp for Luke 21:34-38

A.. Are you ready for the Second Coming? How do you get ready? How do you watch yourself? How do you keep awake in every season?

Summary and Conclusion

Jesus points out to his disciples a living parable: the widow who gave all she had, contrasted with those who gave out of their abundance. This is the Great Reversal. Recall that Luke 1:51-53 and 2:34 says that Jesus would cause the fall of the mighty and the rise of the needy, and the rich would be lowered, and the poor raised up. It is the down elevator and up elevator. Those at the top will take the down elevator, and those at the bottom will take the up elevator.

Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem. Then he shifts his focus to the ending of the world. So there are two comings: Jesus judging Jerusalem, after he is enthroned. And then his coming to judge the entire world. The first coming-in-judgment is paradigmatic for the second and final one. In this one passage he prophesies both, and it takes wisdom to sort out the prophetic genre. It is the already (Jerusalem is judged) and the not yet (the Second Coming). The kingdom of God is like that, so there is a perfect match between the one concept in the two contexts.

Start here:

Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 (and 17) in Parallel Columns Are Finally Clear

The next two posts are steeped in exegesis:

Luke 21:5-33 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

Luke 17:22-37 and 21:34-36 Teach the Second Coming

The fig tree and other trees leafing teach us to watch for the signs, but the signs are clear. You can see it for yourself. We don’t need to create a signs-watching industry to spot the latest obscure one, which shifts from one news report to the next. Look for moral degradation, to name just one.

Don’t party and get drunk with alcohol or high on cannabis or other drugs. Watch yourself. Keep awake in every season of your life. Don’t let the anxieties of everyday life weight you down. Or else you will become so morally and spiritually dull that you can’t even spot the clearest sign of all: His Second Coming. If he comes while you’re drunk or high, or partying hard, can you stand before him at judgment?


Bock, Darrel L. Luke 1:1-9:50. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 1 (Baker, 1994).

—. Luke 9:51-24:53. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 2. (Baker 1996).

Culy, Martin M., Mikael C. Parsons. Joshua J. Stigall. Luke: A Handbook on the Greek Text. (Baylor UP, 2010).

Fitzmyer, Joseph A., SJ. The Gospel according to Luke, I-IX. Vol. 28. The Anchor Bible. (Doubleday, 1981).

—. The Gospel according to St. Luke, X-XIV. The Anchor Bible. Vol. 28A. (Doubleday, 1985).

Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Zondervan, 2011).

The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger (United Bible Society, 2014). The Greek text in the tables comes from the Nestle-Aland 28th ed, available here:

Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Eerdmans, 1997).

Liefeld, Walter L. and David W. Pao. Luke. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. (Zondervan, 2007).

Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. (Eerdmans, 1978).

Morris, Leon. Luke. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. (IVP Academic, 1988).

Stein, Robert H. Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture. The New American Commentary. Vol. 24. (Broadman and Holman, 1992).

Works Cited


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s