Many shall come in my name - Usurping my name: calling themselves the Messiah. See Matthew 24:5. Concerning this prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, and its literal accomplishment, see the notes on Matthew 24:1-42 (note).
The account of the destruction of Jerusalem contained in this chapter has been fully considered in the notes at Luke 21:9
Commotions - Insurrections. Subjects rising against their rulers.
Fearful sights - See Matthew 24:7.
Luke 21:12, Luke 21:13
Synagogues, and into prisons - See the notes at Mark 13:9-10.
Settle it, therefore, in your hearts - Fix it firmly in your minds - so firmly as to become a settled principle - that you are always to depend on God for aid in all your trials. See Mark 13:11.
A mouth - Eloquence, ability to speak as the case may demand. Compare Exodus 4:11.
Gainsay - Speak against. They will not be able to “reply” to it, or to “resist” the force of what you shall say.
A hair of your head perish - This is a proverbial expression, denoting that they should not suffer any essential injury. This was strikingly fulfilled in the fact that in the calamities of Jerusalem there is reason to believe that no Christian suffered. Before those calamities came on the city they had fled to “Pella,” a city on the east of the Jordan. See the notes at Matthew 24:18.
In your patience - Rather by your perseverance. The word “patience” here means constancy or perseverance in sustaining afflictions.
Possess ye your souls - Some read here the “future” instead of the “present” of the verb rendered “possess.” The word “possess” means here to “preserve” or keep, and the word “souls” means “lives.” This passage may be thus translated: By persevering in bearing these trials you “will” save your lives, or you will be safe; or, by persevering “preserve” your lives; that is, do not yield to these calamities, but bear up under them, for he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved. Compare Matthew 24:13.
All things which are written may be fulfilled - Judgment had been threatened by almost all the prophets against that wicked city. They had spoken of its crimes and threatened its ruin. Once God had destroyed Jerusalem and carried the people to Babylon; but their crimes had been repeated when they returned, and God had again threatened their ruin. Particularly was this very destruction foretold by Daniel, Daniel 9:26-27; “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” See the notes at that passage.
Shall fall - No less than one million one hundred thousand perished in the siege of Jerusalem.
Shall be led away captive - More than 90,000 were led into captivity. See the notes at Joshua 10:24; 2 Samuel 22:41; Ezekiel 21:29. The bondage of Jerusalem has been long and very oppressive. It was for a long time under the dominion of the Romans, then of the Saracens, and is now of the Turks, and is aptly represented by a captive stretched on the ground whose neck is “trodden” by the foot of the conqueror.
Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled - This passage has been understood very differently by different expositors. Some refer it to the time which the Romans who conquered it had dominion over it, as signifying that “they” should keep possession of it until a part of the pagans should be converged, when it should be rebuilt. Thus it was rebuilt by the Emperor Adrian. Others suppose that it refers to the end of the world, when all the Gentiles shall be converted, and they shall “cease” to be Gentiles by becoming Christians, meaning that it should “always” be desolate. Others, that Christ meant to say that in the times of the millennium, when the gospel should spread universally, he would reign personally on the earth, and that the “Jews” would return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. This is the opinion of the Jews and of many Christians. The meaning of the passage clearly is,
1.That Jerusalem would be completely destroyed.
2.That this would be done by Gentiles - that is, by the Roman armies.
3.That this desolation would continue as long as God should judge it proper in a fit manner to express his abhorrence of the crimes of the nation - that is, until the times allotted to “them” by God for this desolation should be accomplished, without specifying how long that would be, or what would occur to the city after that.
It “may” be rebuilt, and inhabited by converted Jews. Such a thing is “possible,” and the Jews naturally seek that as their home; but whether this be so or not, the time when the “Gentiles,” as such, shall have dominion over the city is limited. Like all other cities on the earth, it will yet be brought under the influence of the gospel, and will be inhabited by the true friends of God. Pagan, infidel, anti-Christian dominion shall cease there, and it will be again a place where God will be worshipped in sincerity - a place “even then” of special interest from the recollection of the events which have occurred there. “How long” it is to be before this occurs is known only to Him “who hath put the times and seasons in his own power,” Acts 1:7.
See the notes at Matthew 24:29.
Upon the earth distress of nations - Some have proposed to render the word “earth” by “land,” confining it to Judea. It often has this meaning, and there seems some propriety in so using it here. The word translated “distress” denotes anxiety of mind - such an anxiety as people have when they do not know what to do to free themselves from calamities; and it means here that the calamities would be so great and overwhelming that they would not know what to do to escape. There would be a want of counsel, and deep anxiety at the impending evils.
With perplexity - Rather “on account” of their perplexity, or the desperate state of their affairs. The Syriac has it, “perplexity or wringing of hands,” which is a sign of deep distress and horror.
The sea and the waves roaring - This is not to be understood literally, but as an image of great distress. Probably it is designed to denote that these calamities would come upon them like a deluge. As when in a storm the ocean roars, and wave rolls on wave and dashes against the shore, and each succeeding surge is more violent than the one that preceded it, so would the calamities come upon Judea. They would roll over the whole land, and each wave of trouble would be more violent than the one that preceded it, until the whole country would be desolate. The same image is also used in Isaiah 8:7-8, and Revelation 18:15.
Men‘s hearts failing them - This is an expression denoting the highest terror. The word rendered “failing” commonly denotes to “die,” and here it means that the terror would be so great that people would faint and be ready to die in view of the approaching calamities. And if this was true in respect to the judgments about to come upon Judea, how much more so will it be in the day of judgment, when the wicked will be arraigned before the Son of God, and when they shall have before them the prospect of the awful sufferings of hell - the pains and woes which shall continue forever! It will be no wonder, then, if they call on the rocks and mountains to hide them from the face of God, and if their hearts sink within them at the prospect of eternal suffering.
Your redemption draweth nigh - See the notes at Matthew 24:33. This is expressed in Luke 21:31 thus: “the kingdom of God is nigh at hand” - that is, from that time God will signally build up his kingdom. It shall be fully established when the Jewish policy shall come to an end; when the temple shall be destroyed, and the Jews scattered abroad. Then the power of the Jews shall be at an end; they shall no longer be able to persecute you, and you shall be completely delivered from all these trials and calamities in Judea.
Lest at any time your hearts be overcharged - The meaning of this verse is, “Be continually expecting these things. Do not forget them, and do not be “secure” and satisfied with this life and the good things which it furnishes. Do not suffer yourselves to be drawn into the fashions of the world; to be conformed to its customs; to partake of its feasts and revelry; and so these calamities shall come upon you when you least expect them.” And from this we may learn - what alas! we may from the “lives” of many professing Christians - that there is need of cautioning the disciples of Jesus now that they do not indulge in the festivities of this life, and “forget” that they are to die and come to judgment. How many, alas! who bear the Christian name, have forgotten this caution of the Saviour, and live as if their lives were secure; as if they feared not death; as if there were no heaven and no judgment! Christians should feel that they are soon to die, and that their portion is not in this life; and, feeling this, they should be “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.”
Overcharged - Literally, “be made heavy,” as is the case with those who have eaten and drunken too much.
Surfeiting - Excessive eating and drinking, so as to oppress the body; indulgence in the pleasures of the table. This word does not include “intoxication,” but merely indulgence in food and drink, though the food and drink should be in themselves lawful.
Drunkenness - Intoxication, intemperance in drinking. The ancients were not acquainted with the poison that we chiefly use on which to become drunk. They had no distilled spirits. They became intoxicated on wine, and strong drink made of a mixture of dates, honey, etc. All nations have contrived some way to become intoxicated - to bring in folly, and disease, and poverty, and death, by drunkenness; and in nothing is the depravity of men more manifest than in thus endeavoring to hasten the ravages of crime and death.
As a snare - In Matthew and Mark Jesus compares the suddenness with which these calamities would come to the deluge coming in the days of Noah. Here he likens it to a snare. Birds are caught by a snare or net. It is sprung on them quickly, and when they are not expecting it. So, says he, shall these troubles come upon Judea. The figure is often used to denote the suddenness of calamities, Psalm 69:22; Romans 11:9; Psalm 124:7; Isaiah 24:17.
To stand before the Son of man - These approaching calamities are represented as the “coming of the Son of man” to judge Jerusalem for its crimes. Its inhabitants were so wicked that they were not worthy to stand before him and would be condemned, and the city would be overthrown. To “stand before him” here denotes approbation, acquittal, favor, and is equivalent to saying that “they” would be free from these calamities, while they should come upon others. See Romans 14:4; Psalm 1:5; Psalm 130:3; Revelation 6:17. Perhaps, also, there is a reference here to the day of judgment. See the notes at Matthew 24.
Rebellion and apostasy are in the very air we breathe. We shall be affected by it unless we by faith hang our helpless souls upon Christ. If men are so easily misled, how will they stand when Satan shall personate Christ, and work miracles? Who will be unmoved by his misrepresentations, professing to be Christ when it is only Satan assuming the person of Christ, and apparently working the works of Christ? What will hold God's people from giving their allegiance to false christs? “Go ye not after them” (Luke 21:8). 2SM 58.1
The doctrines must be plainly understood. The men accepted to teach the truth must be anchored; then their vessel will hold against storm and tempest, because the anchor holds them firmly. The deceptions will increase.—Letter 1, 1897. 2SM 58.2Read in context »
One Fierce Last Struggle—Deceptions, delusions, impostures will increase. The cries will come in from every quarter, “Lo, here is Christ! Lo, there is Christ!” “But,” said Christ, “Go ye not ... after them” (Luke 21:8). There will be one fierce struggle before the man of sin shall be disclosed to this world—who he is and what has been his work. 3SM 426.2Read in context »
23, 24 (ch. 7:20, 21; Isaiah 8:20; Mark 13:21, 22; Luke 21:8; John 10:2-5; 15:10; 1 John 2:4). How to Know a False Christ—We need to be anchored in Christ, rooted and grounded in the faith. Satan works through agents. He selects those who have not been drinking of the living waters, whose souls are athirst for something new and strange, and who are ever ready to drink at any fountain that may present itself. Voices will be heard, saying, “Lo, here is Christ,” or “Lo, there;” but we must believe them not. We have unmistakable evidence of the voice of the True Shepherd, and He is calling upon us to follow Him. He says, “I have kept my Father's commandments.” He leads His sheep in the path of humble obedience to the law of God, but He never encourages them in the transgression of that law. 5BC 1099.1
“The voice of a stranger” is the voice of one who neither respects nor obeys God's holy, just, and good law. Many make great pretensions to holiness, and boast of the wonders they perform in healing the sick, when they do not regard this great standard of righteousness. But through whose power are these cures wrought? Are the eyes of either party opened to their transgressions of the law? and do they take their stand as humble, obedient children, ready to obey all of God's requirements? John testifies of the professed children of God: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 5BC 1099.2
None need be deceived. The law of God is as sacred as His throne, and by it every man who cometh into the world is to be judged. There is no other standard by which to test character. “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Now, shall the case be decided according to the Word of God, or shall man's pretensions be credited? Says Christ, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” If those through whom cures are performed, are disposed, on account of these manifestations, to excuse their neglect of the law of God, and continue in disobedience, though they have power to any and every extent, it does not follow that they have the great power of God. On the contrary, it is the miracle-working power of the great deceiver. He is a transgressor of the moral law, and employs every device that he can master to blind men to its true character. We are warned that in the last days he will work with signs and lying wonders. And he will continue these wonders until the close of probation that he may point to them as evidence that he is an angel of light and not of darkness. 5BC 1099.3Read in context »
In these scriptures two parties are brought to view. One party permitted themselves to be deceived and took sides with those with whom the Lord has a controversy. They misinterpreted the messages sent them and clothed themselves in robes of self-righteousness. Sin was not sinful in their eyes. They taught falsehood as truth, and by them many souls were led astray. 9T 268.1
We need now to take heed to ourselves. Warnings have been given. Can we not see the fulfillment of the predictions made by Christ and recorded in the twenty-first chapter of Luke? How many are studying the words of Christ? How many are deceiving their own souls and cheating themselves out of the blessings that others might secure if they would believe and obey? Probation still lingers, and it is our privilege to lay hold of the hope set before us in the gospel. Let us repent and be converted and forsake our sins, that they may be blotted out. “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:33-36. 9T 268.2
Shall the warnings given by Christ be passed by unheeded? Shall we not make diligent work for repentance now, while Mercy's gracious voice is still heard? 9T 269.1Read in context »