The signs (Lk 21:25-21:25)

“There will be signs

In the sun,

The moon,

And the stars.

On the earth,

There will be

Anxious distress

Among the nations

With the roaring noise

Of the sea

And the swelling waves.”

 

Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα ἐν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ ἄστροις, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ ἤχους θαλάσσης καὶ σάλου,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that there would be signs (Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα) in the sun (ἐν ἡλίῳ), in the moon (αὶ σελήνῃ), and in the stars (καὶ ἄστροις).  On the earth (καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), there would be anxious distress among the gentile nations (συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ) because of the roaring noise of the sea (ἤχους θαλάσσης) and the swelling waves (καὶ σάλου).  This was a unique use of the term ἀπορίᾳ that means perplexity, anxiety, or doubt, not found elsewhere in the Greek biblical literature.  This Jesus saying is similar to Matthew, chapter 24:29, that is actually closer to Mark, chapter 13:24-25.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that in those days (Ἀλλὰ ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις), after the sufferings (μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν), there would be a cosmic upheaval.  The sun would be darkened (ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται).  The moon would not give its light (καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς).  The assumption was that the moon had its own source of light, not merely a reflection of the sun.  The stars would fall from the skies (καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες ἔσονται ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πίπτοντες).  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that immediately after the sufferings mentioned earlier in those days (Εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων), there would be a cosmic upheaval.  The sun would be darkened (ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται).  The moon would not give its light (καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς).  The stars would fall from the skies (καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  This is fully in line with the great Israelite prophetic tradition of the Day of Yahweh, like Ezekiel, chapter 32:7, Joel, chapter 2:10, Amos, chapter 8:9, and Zephaniah, chapter 1:15.  Luke did not have the details that were in Mark and Matthew.  What kind of cosmic upheaval do you expect at the end times?

The fall of Jerusalem (Lk 21:24-21:24)

“They will fall

By the edge

Of the sword.

They will be

Taken away

As captives

Among all the gentile nations.

Jerusalem

Will be trampled on

By the gentiles,

Until the time

Of the gentiles

Was fulfilled.”

 

καὶ πεσοῦνται στόματι μαχαίρης καὶ αἰχμαλωτισθήσονται εἰς τὰ ἔθνη πάντα, καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν, ἄχρι οὗ πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν.

 

Only Luke has this unique saying of Jesus.  Jesus said that these people would fall by the edge of their swords (καὶ πεσοῦνται στόματι μαχαίρης).  They would be taken away as captives among all the gentile nations (καὶ αἰχμαλωτισθήσονται εἰς τὰ ἔθνη πάντα).  Jerusalem would be trampled on by the gentiles (καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν), until the time of the gentiles was completed (ἄχρι οὗ πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν).  Falling by the edge of the sword meant death.  It is not clear what is meant by this time of the gentiles.  Perhaps this was when the foreign armies, the Roman army invaded and overwhelmed Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Luke seemed to tie the end times to the fall of Jerusalem.  What do you think the end of the world will be like?

Hated by everyone (Lk 21:17-21:17)

“You will be hated

By all

Because of my name.”

 

καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that they would be hated or detested (καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι) by all people (ὑπὸ πάντων) because of his name (διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου).  There was something similar, word for word, in Matthew, chapter 10:22, and chapter 24:9, and in Mark, chapter 13:13.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that they would be hated (καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι) by all people (ὑπὸ πάντων) because of his name (διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου).  Jesus, via Matthew, told his disciples that they would be hated or detested by everyone (καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων) because of his name (διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου).  They would be hated and detested (καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι) by all the gentile nations (ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν) because of his name (διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου).  This was tough talk because it was not going to be easy to be a disciple of Jesus after he was gone.  Have you had anyone hate or dislike you because you were a Christian?

Bear testimony (Lk 21:13-21:13)

“This will give you

An opportunity

To testify.”

 

ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that this persecution would give them an opportunity (ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν) to testify as a witness or a martyr (εἰς μαρτύριον).  This verse is somewhat similar to Mark, chapter 13:10, with a hint of this in Matthew, chapter 24:14.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that the good news of the gospel (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον) must first be proclaimed (πρῶτον δεῖ κηρυχθῆναι) to all the gentile nations (καὶ εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη).  That would be a difficult task, certainly putting the end times at a further distance.  This mission to the gentile nations was a trademark of the Gospel of Mark with its emphasis on the gentile non-Jewish Christians.  Matthew had the same idea in chapter 10:22, and also in chapter 24:14, where Jesus said that this gospel, this good news of the kingdom (τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας) would be preached (καὶ κηρυχθήσεται) throughout the whole inhabited world (ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ), as a witness or testimony to all the gentile nations (εἰς μαρτύριον πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν).  Then the end would come (καὶ τότε ἥξει τὸ τέλος).  Matthew seemed to set a precondition before the coming of the end times that the gospel would be preached throughout the whole known world.  Luke was more restrained here simply saying that there was an opportunity to be a witness or martyr.  Would you be a Christian martyr?

Persecution (Lk 21:12-21:12)

“But before all this occurs,

They will arrest you.

They will persecute you.

They will hand you over

To synagogues

And prisons.

You will be brought

Before kings

And governors

Because of my name.”

 

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

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that before all this occurred (πρὸ δὲ τούτων πάντων), they would arrest or lay hands on his disciples (ἐπιβαλοῦσιν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν).  They would persecute them (καὶ διώξουσιν) and hand them over (παραδιδόντες) to the synagogues (εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς) and prisons (καὶ φυλακάς).  They would be brought before kings (ἀπαγομένους ἐπὶ βασιλεῖς) and governors (καὶ ἡγεμόνας) because of the name of Jesus (ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός μου).  There was something similar in Mark, chapter 13:9, and Matthew, chapter 24:9.  Jesus said that his followers were going to be persecuted.  Mark indicated that Jesus warned them that they should be self-aware (Βλέπετε δὲ ὑμεῖς ἑαυτούς).  They would be handed over (παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς) to courts, councils, or synods (εἰς συνέδρια) and synagogues (καὶ εἰς συναγωγὰς), since some of the Jewish Christians were still part of Jewish social, political, and religious life.  They would also be beaten (δαρήσεσθε).  On the other hand, they would also have to stand before governors and kings (καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνων καὶ βασιλέων σταθήσεσθε) to give testimony as a witness to them about Jesus (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).  This idea of the persecution of the Jesus followers was not a new theme for Matthew, because it was mentioned earlier in chapter 10:16-25, where Jesus was more reassuring, and chapter 16:24, where Jesus spoke about bearing the cross of death.  Jesus said that his followers were going to be persecuted, distressed, or afflicted (τότε παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς θλῖψιν), even though there was no mention of this taking place in the synagogues in Matthew.  No doubt about it, they were going to be handed over to be tortured and put to death (καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν ὑμᾶς).  They would be hated and detested (καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι) by all the gentile nations (ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν) because of his name (διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου).  This was tough talk because it was not going to be easy to be a disciple of Jesus after he was gone.  In the Acts of the Apostles, there are many instances of the early Christians being persecuted in prisons and being brought before various magistrates.  Do you think it would be difficult to be persecuted because you were a Christian?

Many fights (Lk 21:10-21:10)

“Then Jesus said

To them.

‘Gentile nations will rise

Against gentile nations.

Kingdoms will rise

Against kingdoms.”

 

Τότε ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς Ἐγερθήσεται ἔθνος ἐπ’ ἔθνος καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (Τότε ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς) that gentile nations would rise against other gentile nations (Ἐγερθήσεται ἔθνος ἐπ’ ἔθνος).  Kingdoms would rise against other kingdoms (καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν).  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:7, and in Mark, chapter 13:8, word for word at times.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that the gentile nations would rise up against other gentile nations (ἐγερθήσεται γὰρ ἔθνος ἐπ’ ἔθνος).  Kingdoms would rise up against other kingdoms (καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν).  Matthew was the same.  He indicated that Jesus said that the gentile nations would rise up against other gentile nations (ἐγερθήσεται γὰρ ἔθνος ἐπὶ ἔθνος).  Kingdoms would rise up against other kingdoms (καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν).  In other words, there would be general strife among various countries.  Do you know of countries against each other?

Troubles ahead (Mk 13:8-13:8)

“Nation will rise

Against nation!

Kingdom will rise

Against kingdom!

There will be earthquakes

In various places!

There will be famines!

This is but the beginning

Of the birth-pangs.”

 

ἐγερθήσεται γὰρ ἔθνος ἐπ’ ἔθνος καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν. ἔσονται σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους, ἔσονται λιμοί· ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων ταῦτα.

 

There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:7-8, and in Luke, chapter 21:10-11, almost word for word at times.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that the gentile nations would rise up against other gentile nations (ἐγερθήσεται γὰρ ἔθνος ἐπ’ ἔθνος).  Kingdoms would rise up against other kingdoms (καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν).  There would be earthquakes in various places (ἔσονται σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους) and famines (ἔσονται λιμοί).  All of this was the mere beginning of the end, the birth-pangs (ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων ταῦτα).  These comments and the idea of birth pains were in the Old Testament prophetic tradition of the Day of Yahweh, the judgment day.  Jesus was speaking like many of the ancient Israelite prophets who warned about the coming of the divine judgment at the end of days, the end times.