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Luke 21:12-27

Context
21:12 But before all this, 1  they will seize 2  you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues 3  and prisons. You 4  will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 21:13 This will be a time for you to serve as witnesses. 5  21:14 Therefore be resolved 6  not to rehearse 7  ahead of time how to make your defense. 21:15 For I will give you the words 8  along with the wisdom 9  that none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 21:16 You will be betrayed even by parents, 10  brothers, relatives, 11  and friends, and they will have some of you put to death. 21:17 You will be hated by everyone because of my name. 12  21:18 Yet 13  not a hair of your head will perish. 14  21:19 By your endurance 15  you will gain 16  your lives. 17 

The Desolation of Jerusalem

21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem 18  surrounded 19  by armies, then know that its 20  desolation 21  has come near. 21:21 Then those who are in Judea must flee 22  to the mountains. Those 23  who are inside the city must depart. Those 24  who are out in the country must not enter it, 21:22 because these are days of vengeance, 25  to fulfill 26  all that is written. 21:23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! For there will be great distress 27  on the earth and wrath against this people. 21:24 They 28  will fall by the edge 29  of the sword and be led away as captives 30  among all nations. Jerusalem 31  will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 32 

The Arrival of the Son of Man

21:25 “And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, 33  and on the earth nations will be in distress, 34  anxious 35  over the roaring of the sea and the surging waves. 21:26 People will be fainting from fear 36  and from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 37  21:27 Then 38  they will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud 39  with power and great glory.

1 sn But before all this. Another note of timing is present, this one especially important in understanding the sequence in the discourse. Before the things noted in vv. 8-11 are the events of vv. 12-19.

2 tn Grk “will lay their hands on you.”

3 sn Some of the persecution is of Jewish origin (the synagogues). Some fulfillment of this can be seen in Acts. See the note on synagogues in 4:15.

4 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

5 tn Grk “This will turn out to you for [a] testimony.”

6 tn Grk “determine in your hearts.”

7 tn This term could refer to rehearsing a speech or a dance. On its syntax, see BDF §392.2.

8 tn Grk “a mouth.” It is a metonymy and refers to the reply the Lord will give to them.

9 tn Grk “and wisdom.”

10 sn To confess Christ might well mean rejection by one’s own family, even by parents.

11 tn Grk “and brothers and relatives,” but καί (kai) has not been translated twice here since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

12 sn See Luke 6:22, 27; 1 Cor 1:25-31.

13 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “yet” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

14 sn Given v. 16, the expression not a hair of your head will perish must be taken figuratively and refer to living ultimately in the presence of God.

15 sn By your endurance is a call to remain faithful, because trusting in Jesus is the means to life.

16 tc Some important Greek witnesses plus the majority of mss (א D L W Ψ Ë1 Ï) read the aorist imperative κτήσασθε (kthsasqe) here, though some mss (A B Θ Ë13 33 pc lat sa) read the future indicative κτήσεσθε (kthsesqe). A decision is difficult because the evidence is so evenly balanced, but the aorist imperative is the harder reading and better explains the rise of the other. J. A. Fitzmyer assesses the translation options this way: “In English one has to use something similar [i.e., a future indicative], even if one follows the [aorist imperative]” (Luke [AB], 2:1341); in the same vein, although this translation follows the aorist imperative, because of English requirements it has been translated as though it were a future indicative.

17 tn Grk “your souls,” but ψυχή (yuch) is frequently used of one’s physical life. In light of v. 16 that does not seem to be the case here. The entire phrase could be taken as an idiom meaning “you will save yourselves” (L&N 21.20), or (as in v. 18) this could refer to living ultimately in the presence of God.

18 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

19 sn See Luke 19:41-44. This passage refers to the events associated with the fall of Jerusalem, when the city is surrounded by armies.

20 tn Grk “her,” referring to the city of Jerusalem (the name “Jerusalem” in Greek is a feminine noun).

21 sn The phrase its desolation is a reference to the fall of the city, which is the only antecedent present in Luke’s account. The parallels to this in Matt 24:15 and Mark 13:14 refer to the temple’s desolation, though Matthew’s allusion is clearer. They focus on the parallel events of the end, not on the short term realization in a.d. 70. The entire passage has a prophetic “two events in one” typology, where the near term destruction (a.d. 70) is like the end. So the evangelists could choose to focus on the near time realization (Luke) or on its long term fulfillment, which mirrors it (Matthew, Mark).

22 sn Fleeing to the mountains is a key OT image: Gen 19:17; Judg 6:2; Isa 15:5; Jer 16:16; Zech 14:5.

23 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

24 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

25 tn Or “of punishment.” This is a time of judgment.

26 tn The passive construction with the infinitive πλησθῆναι (plhsqhnai) has been translated as an active construction for simplicity, in keeping with contemporary English style.

27 sn Great distress means that this is a period of great judgment.

28 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

29 tn Grk “by the mouth of the sword” (an idiom for the edge of a sword).

30 sn Here is the predicted judgment against the nation until the time of Gentile rule has passed: Its people will be led away as captives.

31 tn Grk “And Jerusalem.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

32 sn Until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled implies a time when Israel again has a central role in God’s plan.

33 sn Signs in the sun and moon and stars are cosmic signs that turn our attention to the end and the Son of Man’s return for the righteous. OT imagery is present: See Isa 13:9-10; 24:18-20; 34:4; Ezek 32:7-8; Joel 2:1, 30-31; 3:15.

34 tn Grk “distress of nations.”

35 tn Or “in consternation” (L&N 32.9).

36 tn According to L&N 23.184 this could be mainly a psychological experience rather than actual loss of consciousness. It could also refer to complete discouragement because of fear, leading people to give up hope (L&N 25.293).

37 sn An allusion to Isa 34:4. The heavens were seen as the abode of heavenly forces, so their shaking indicates distress in the spiritual realm. Although some take the powers as a reference to bodies in the heavens (like stars and planets, “the heavenly bodies,” NIV) this is not as likely.

38 tn Grk “And then” (καὶ τότε, kai tote). Here καί has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

39 sn An allusion to Dan 7:13. Here is Jesus returning with full judging authority.



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