Luke 21 Destruction of Jerusalem
Summary

Some relate the first incident involving a righteous widow to the controversies of the preceding chapter. Certainly, it follows directly the exchanges with the religious leaders, no doubt on the same day. The occasion involving a woman at the treasury is focused, however, on the motive and sacrifice involved in giving to God rather than upon sectarian parties or beliefs. The widow is contrasted with any person with wealth who does not have the same spirit. The remainder of the chapter deals with the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Jewish nation and age. This is the last “recorded” public address of Jesus before his crucifixion, although it appears He taught the next morning in the temple (37-38).

The Widow's Offering

21Jesus[1] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.[2] 3And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Question 1

How much was a “mite” and how significant was this widow’s giving two of them?

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

5And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

Question 2

When Jesus said “not one stone shall be left upon another,” to what did he refer (vs. 5)?

Question 3

When they asked “what sign will there be,” Jesus gave them at least four kinds of signs. What were they? (see vs. 8-11; vs. 12-19; vs. 20-24; vs. 25-28).

Jesus Foretells Wars and Persecution

10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers[3] and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17You will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Jesus Foretells Destruction of Jerusalem

20“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The Coming of the Son of Man

25“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

29And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Question 4

What would not happen until all these things came to pass? (vs. 32)

Watch Yourselves

34“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Question 5

What two things did Jesus tell them to do to be counted worthy in verse 36?

37And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.

People
  • A widow at the Temple
  • Gave two mites

  • Some at the Temple
  • Asked Jesus questions

  • Jesus
  • Answered their questions

Places
  • Jerusalem
  • At the Temple

The Widow's Offering

21Jesus[1] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.[2] 3And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1

The “treasury” appears to have been a place where the Jews brought monetary offerings to God. It could refer to receptacles into which the money was dropped. There were thirteen of them, shaped like trumpets, each marked with a Hebrew letter to indicate the purpose of the gift.


Luke 21:2

A “mite” or “lepton” made of brass was the least valuable coin (like our penny) used by Jews. It took eighty of these to make a denarius (the common laborer’s daily wage).


Luke 21:4

The people brought money to the temple to pay tithes, taxes, offer special gifts, or fulfill vows.

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

5And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

Luke 21:5

The first Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587/86 BC.

The Temple had been rebuilt by Zerubbabel (completed in 515 B.C).

The Temple they beheld was renovated by Herod the Great and his successors (20 BC to A.D. 63).


Luke 21:6

Jesus said it would be totally destroyed. That actually happened in A.D. 70.


Luke 21:7

The actual questioners were Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3). They asked “When?” And, “What signs will there be when these things are about to take place?”


Luke 21:8

Sign #1 – False Christs and disasters (wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, etc.).

Jesus Foretells Wars and Persecution

10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers[3] and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17You will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Luke 21:12

Sign #2 – Persecutions (saints delivered to synagogues, prisons, rulers, etc, and betrayed).

Jesus Foretells Destruction of Jerusalem

20“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Luke 21:20

Sign #3 – Jerusalem surrounded by armies; people called upon to flee).

The Coming of the Son of Man

25“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Luke 21:25

Sign #4 - International distress and the Son of man coming in judgment (see Isaiah 13:1-10 for similar apocalyptic language. Remember here, he is talking about the destruction of the Temple.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

29And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Luke 21:31

The fig tree was a parable showing that they would see the rule of God in judgment.


Luke 21:32

All that Jesus spoke of in this conversation would come to pass in that generation.

Watch Yourselves

34“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:36

The people of that day could escape the trials of this judgment if they were counted worthy.

37And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.

Luke 21:37

Apparently this is referring to Jesus’ teaching the next day in the Temple.

Perspectives

The widow gave little in monetary value, but she gave more than others who only gave part of their possessions.

The fall of Jerusalem should be symbolic to us of what will happen to the nation that rejects God.

All should watch and pray and be ready whenever God’s judgment comes.