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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The poor widow casting two mites into the treasury, Luke 21:1-4. The destruction of the temple foretold, Luke 21:5, Luke 21:6. The signs of this desolation, Luke 21:7. False Christs, Luke 21:8. Wars, Luke 21:9, Luke 21:10. Earthquakes and fearful sights, Luke 21:11. Persecutions against the godly, Luke 21:12-19. Directions how to escape, Luke 21:20-22. The tribulation of those times, Luke 21:23-28. The parable of the fig tree, illustrative of the time when they may expect these calamities, Luke 21:29-33. The necessity of sobriety and watchfulness, Luke 21:34-36. He teaches by day in the temple, and lodges by night in the mount of Olives, and the people come early to hear him, Luke 21:37, Luke 21:38.
1And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
The rich men casting their gifts into the treasury - See all this, from Luke 21:1-4, explained on Mark 12:41-44 (note).
2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
A certain poor widow - A widow miserably poor; this is the proper import of πενιχραν, and her being miserably poor heightened the merit of the action.
Two mites - Which Mark says, Mark 12:42, make a farthing or quadrans, the fourth part of an As, or penny, as we term it. In Plutarch's time we find the smallest piece of brass coin in use among the Romans was the quadrans, but it appears that a smaller piece of money was in circulation among the Jews in our Lord's time, called here, and in Mark, Mark 12:42, a lepton, i.e. small, diminished, from λειπω, I fail. In ancient times our penny used to be marked with a deep indented cross, dividing the piece into four equal parts, which, when broken in two, made the half-penny, and, when broken into four, made the fourthing, what we have corrupted into farthing. Probably the Roman quadrans was divided in this way for the convenience of the poor. Our term mite seems to have been taken from the animal called by that name; for as that appeared to our ancestors to be the smallest of all animals, so this being the smallest of all coins was called by its name. Junius says that mite was a small base coin among the Dutch. Our word mite seems to be a contraction of the Latin minutum, a small thing, whence the French miete, a crumb, a very small morsel. See the note on Mark 12:41.
3And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
4For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
5And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
Goodly stones - Or, costly stones. It has been thought by some that this relates not so much to the stones of which the temple was built, as to the precious stones with which it was decorated. For an account of the stones of the temple, see on Mark 13:1 (note).
And gifts - Or, consecrated things, αναθημασι. Αναθημα properly signifies a thing consecrated to sacred uses: Αναθεμα signifies a thing devoted to a curse, or to destruction. They both come from the same root, ανατιθημι, I lay up, separate; and though two meanings cannot be more opposite than those assigned to these words, yet in the words themselves a short vowel (ε) in the place of a long one (η) makes all the difference between blessing and cursing.
6As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
One stone upon another - This was literally fulfilled. See Matthew 24:2.
7And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
8And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
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).
9But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
Commotions - Seditions and civil dissensions, with which no people were more agitated than the Jews.
10Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
11And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
Fearful sights - What these were the reader will find in detail on Matthew 24:7 (note).
12But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
Synagogues - Or, assemblies, etc. See these all explained on Mark 13:9 (note).
13And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
It shall turn to you for a testimony - That is, it shall turn out on your part for a testimony to them (your persecutors) that you are thoroughly persuaded of the truth of what you teach, and that you are no impostors.
14Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
Settle it therefore, etc. - See on Matthew 10:19 (note).
15For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
I will give you a mouth and wisdom - Στομα, a mouth, must appear plain to every person to be used here for a ready utterance, or eloquence in speaking. They shall have an abundance of wisdom to know what to say; and they shall have an irresistible eloquence to say what they ought.
16And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
17And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
18But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
But there shall not a hair of your head perish - A proverbial expression for, Ye shall not suffer any essential injury. Every genuine Christian shall escape when this desolation comes upon the Jewish state.
19In your patience possess ye your souls.
In your patience - Rather, your perseverance, your faithful continuance in my word and doctrine. Ye will preserve your souls. Ye shall escape the Roman sword, and not one of you shall perish in the destruction of Jerusalem. Instead of κτησασθε, possess, or preserve ye, I read κτησεσθε, ye shall preserve. This reading is supported by AB-B, five others; both the Syriac, all the Arabic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, all the Itala except two, Origen, Macarius, and Tertullian.
20And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
These be the days of vengeance - See on Matthew 24:21 (note).
23But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
They shall fall by the edge of the sword - Those who perished in the siege are reckoned to be not less than eleven hundred thousand. See Matthew 24:22.
And shall be led away captive - To the number of ninety-seven thousand. See Josephus, War, b. vi. c. ix. s. 2, 3, and on Matthew 24:31 (note).
Trodden down of the Gentiles - Judea was so completely subjugated that the very land itself was sold by Vespasian; the Gentiles possessing it, while the Jews were either nearly all killed or led away into captivity.
Of the Gentiles be fulfilled - Till the different nations of the earth, to whom God shall have given the dominion over this land, have accomplished all that which the Lord hath appointed them to do; and till the time of their conversion to God take place. But when shall this be? We know not. The nations are still treading down Jerusalem, and the end is known only to the Lord. See the note on Matthew 24:31.
25And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
The sea and the waves roaring - Figuratively pointing out the immense Roman armies by which Judea was to be overrun and destroyed.
26Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Men's hearts failing them for fear - Or, Men fainting away through fear, (Αποψυχοντων), being ready to die.
Coming on the earth - Or, Coming upon this land, οικουμενῃ. See this translation of the word vindicated in the note on Luke 2:1 (note).
27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
29And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
He spake to them a parable - Illustrated all these predicted facts by the simile of a fig tree. See this explained on Matthew 24:32 (note).
30When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
The kingdom of God is nigh at hand - After the destruction of the Jewish state, the doctrine of Christ crucified shall be preached every where, and every where prevail.
32Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
This generation - This race of men; but see on Matthew 24:34 (note), and Mark 13:30 (note).
33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
34And 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.
Take heed to yourselves - See our Lord's parable, relative to this matter, explained, Mark 13:34 (note).
Be overcharged - Literally, be made heavy, as is generally the case with those who have eaten or drank too much. Take heed that ye be not rendered secure by an improper use of lawful things: do not make this earth your portion: expect its dissolution, and prepare to meet your God.
35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
The face of the whole earth - Or, of this whole land. The land of Judea, on which these heavy judgments were to fall. See Luke 21:25; see also Luke 2:1.
36Watch 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.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always - Perhaps we should connect ες παντι καιρῳ, continually, with αγρυπνειτε, watch, as it appears to be the most natural order. Indeed the word continually belongs equally to both watch and pray; and no man is safe, at any time, who does not attend to this advice as literally as possible.
That shall come to pass - That is, the tribulations which are on their way to overwhelm and destroy the Jewish people. These are sufficiently stated in the preceding verses.
To stand before the Son of man - To be acquitted, and to be condemned, are expressed, in Romans 14:4, by standing and falling. Those who were faithful to the grace they had received were not only not destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem, but became heralds of the grace and mercy of God to the nations. Thus they were counted worthy to stand before the Son of man - to minister salvation in his name.
37And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.
And in the day time - Or, every day - τας ἡμερας. This probably relates to the four last days of his life already mentioned.
Abode in the mount - He taught all day in the temple, and withdrew every evening, and lodged in Bethany; a town at the foot, or on the declivity of the mount of Olives. See the note on Matthew 21:17.
38And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.
The people came early - He returned early from the mount of Olives, and the people came early in the morning to the temple to hear his teaching. For practical observations on the awful subject of this chapter, see Matthew 24 at the end.