21:26 People will be fainting from fear 1 and from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 2 21:27 Then 3 they will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud 4 with power and great glory. 21:28 But when these things 5 begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption 6 is drawing near.”
21:29 Then 7 he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the other trees. 8 21:30 When they sprout leaves, you see 9 for yourselves and know that summer is now near. 21:31 So also you, when you see these things happening, know 10 that the kingdom of God 11 is near. 21:32 I tell you the truth, 12 this generation 13 will not pass away until all these things take place. 21:33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 14
21:34 “But be on your guard 15 so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day close down upon you suddenly like a trap. 16 21:35 For 17 it will overtake 18 all who live on the face of the whole earth. 19 21:36 But stay alert at all times, 20 praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that must 21 happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
1 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).
2 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.
3 tn Grk “And then” (καὶ τότε, kai tote). Here καί has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
5 sn These things are all the events of vv. 8-27. Disciples represent the righteous here. The events surrounding the fall of the nation are a down payment on a fuller judgment to come on all humanity. The presence of one guarantees the other.
6 sn With Jesus’ return comes the manifestation of judgment and final salvation (redemption).
7 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
8 tn Grk “all the trees.”
9 tn Grk “seeing for yourselves, you know.” The participle βλέποντες (bleponte") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.
10 tn The verb γινώσκετε (ginwskete, “know”) can be parsed as either present indicative or present imperative. In this context the imperative fits better, since the movement is from analogy (trees and seasons) to the future (the signs of the coming of the kingdom) and since the emphasis is on preparation for this event.
12 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”
13 sn This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning “race” and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term γενεά (genea) can have this meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean “this type of generation” and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or (3) generation may refer to “the generation that sees the signs of the end” (vv. 25-26), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it happen very quickly, in rapid succession.
15 tn Grk “watch out for yourselves.”
sn Disciples are to watch out. If they are too absorbed into everyday life, they will stop watching and living faithfully.
16 sn Or like a thief, see Luke 12:39-40. The metaphor of a trap is a vivid one. Most modern English translations traditionally place the words “like a trap” at the end of v. 34, completing the metaphor. In the Greek text (and in the NRSV and REB) the words “like a trap” are placed at the beginning of v. 35. This does not affect the meaning.
17 tn There is debate in the textual tradition about the position of γάρ (gar) and whether v. 35 looks back to v. 34 or is independent. The textual evidence does slightly favor placing γάρ after the verb and thus linking it back to v. 34. The other reading looks like Isa 24:17. However, the construction is harsh and the translation prefers for stylistic reasons to start a new English sentence here.
18 tn Or “come upon.”
19 sn This judgment involves everyone: all who live on the face of the whole earth. No one will escape this evaluation.
20 sn The call to be alert at all times is a call to remain faithful in looking for the Lord’s return.
21 tn For the translation of μέλλω (mellw) as “must,” see L&N 71.36.