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Commentary on Luke chapter 21.

The Gospel of Luke chapter 21

The Gospel of Luke chapter 21

By John Chopores




In this chapter we have,


I. The notice Christ took,  and the approbation he gave,  of a poor widow that cast two mites into the treasury,  #Lu 21:1-4.


II. A prediction of future events,  in answer to his disciples' enquiries concerning them,  #Lu 21:5-7.


1. Of what should happen between that and the destruction of Jerusalem--false Christs arising,  bloody wars and persecutions of Christ's followers,  #Lu 21:8-19.


2. Of that destruction itself,  #Lu 21:20-24.


3. Of the second coming of Jesus Christ to judge the world,  under the type and figure of that,  #Lu 21:25-33.


III. A practical application of this,  by way of caution and counsel #Lu 21:34-36,  and an account of Christ's preaching and the people's attendance on it,  #Lu 21:37-38.


Ver. 1. thru Ver. 4.


This short passage of story we had before in Mark. It is thus recorded twice,  to teach us,


1. That charity to the poor is a main matter in religion. Our Lord Jesus took all occasions to commend it and recommend it. He had just mentioned the barbarity of the scribes,  who devoured poor widows (Luke 20); and perhaps this is designed as an aggravation of it,  that the poor widows were the best benefactors to the public funds,  of which the scribes had the disposal.


2. That Jesus Christ has his eye upon us,  to observe what we give to the poor,  and what we contribute to works of piety and charity. Christ,  though intent upon his preaching,  looked up,  to see what gifts were cast into the treasury, #Lu 21:1. He observes whether we give largely and liberally,  in proportion to what we have,  or whether we be sneaking and paltry in it; nay,  his eye goes further,  he observes whether we give charitably and with a willing mind,  or grudgingly and with reluctance.  This should make us afraid of coming short of our duty in this matter; men may be deceived with excuses which Christ knows to be frivolous.  And this should encourage us to be abundant in it,  without desiring that men should know it; it is enough that Christ does; he sees in secret,  and will reward openly.


3. That Christ observes and accepts the charity of the poor in a particular manner.  Those that have nothing to give may yet do a great deal in charity by ministering to the poor,  and helping them,  and begging for them,  that cannot help themselves,  or beg for themselves. But here was one that was herself poor and yet gave what little she had to the treasury. It was but two mites, which make a farthing; but Christ magnified it as a piece of charity exceeding all the rest: She has cast in more than they all. Christ does not blame her for indiscretion,  in giving what she wanted herself,  nor for vanity in giving among the rich to the treasury; but commended her liberality, and her willingness to part with what little she had for the glory of God,  which proceeded from a belief of and dependence upon God's providence to take care of her.  Jehovah-jireh--the Lord will provide.


4. That,  whatever may be called the offerings of God, we ought to have a respect for,  and to our power,  yea,  and beyond our power,  to contribute cheerfully to.  These have cast in unto the offerings of God. What is given to the support of the ministry and the gospel,  to the spreading and propagating of religion,  the education of youth,  the release of prisoners,  the relief of widows and strangers,  and the maintenance of poor families,  is given to the offerings of God, and it shall be so accepted and recompensed." [MATTHEW HENRY].

" (In the Temple. Tuesday,  April 4, A.D. 30.)" [TFG].


“Chapter Summary


 Lu 21:1-4   Christ values the poor widow's two mites above all the larger offerings of the rich, Lu 21:5,6   foretells the destruction of the temple, Lu 21:7-24  the signs and calamities that should precede and accompany it, Lu 21:25-33 and what should happen at the time of the Son of man's coming. Lu 21:31-38 He exhorteth to watchfulness and prayer.” [Matthew Poole.].



Luke 21:1 ¶ And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

"1. looked up--He had "sat down over against the treasury" (#Mr 12:41),  probably to rest,  for He had continued long standing as he taught in the temple court (#Mr 11:27),  and "looking up He saw"--as in Zaccheus' case,  not quite casually.


the rich, etc.--"the people, "says #Mr 12:41 "cast money into the treasury,  and many rich east in much"; that is,  into chests deposited in one of the courts of the temple to receive the offerings of the people towards its maintenance (#2Ki 12:9 Joh 8:20)." [JFB].

"Ver. 1. And he looked up,  &c.] As Christ sat over against the treasury,  looking upon the ground,  he lift up his eyes; for the treasury was not in an high place,  or above Christ,  who was right against it." [JOHN GILL].

"{And he looked up} (anableqav de). He had taken his seat, after the debate was over and the Sanhedrin had slunk away in sheer defeat,  "over against the treasury" (#Mr 12:41). The word for "treasury" (gazofulakion) is a compound of gaza (Persian word for royal treasury) and fulakh guard or protection. It is common in the LXX,  but in the N.T. only here and #Mr 12:41,43; Joh 8:20. Jesus was watching (#Mr 12:41) the rich put in their gifts as a slight diversion from the intense strain of the hours before." [RWP].


“At the door of the temple, through which all the people passed in and out, who came up three times a year at the solemn feasts, to worship Almighty God in his own house, there was a chest set, (like the poor man's box in some of our churches,) into which all persons cast their free-will offerings and oblations, which were employed either for the use of the poor, or for the service of the temple; and what was thus given, our Saviour calls an offering to God, verse 4.  These of their abundance have cast in unto the offerings of God.


Thence learn, that what we rightly give to the relief of the poor, or for the service and towards the support of God's public worship, is consecrated to God, and as such is accepted of him, and ought to be esteemed by us.”  [William Burkitt.]



2  And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

  Two mites.] Which Mark says, Mr 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, Mr 12:42, a lepton, i.e. small, diminished, from leipo, 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.” [Adam Clarke.].


"2. two mites--"which make a farthing" (#Mr 12:42),  the smallest Jewish coin." [JFB].


"Ver. 2. And he saw also a certain poor widow,  &c.] Whom he took particular notice of above all the rest: the poor,  and the widow, are regarded by him,  and are his care; nor are their mean services, done in faith,  and from a principle of love,  despised by him,  but preferred to the greater services of others,  where faith and love are wanting:" [JOHN GILL].


"{Poor} (penicran). A rare word from penhv (penomai, to work for one's living). Latin _penuria_ and Greek peinaw,  to be hungry are kin to it. Here only in the N.T. " [RWP].


“Verse 2, But a certain poor widow cast in two mites.  Several circumstances relating both to the person and the action are here observable: as 1. The person that offered was a widow: the married woman is under the careful provision of her husband; if she spends, he earns; but the widow has no hands but her own to work for her.


Observe, 2. She was a poor widow; poverty added to the sorrow of her widowhood, she had no rich jointure to live upon; it is some alleviation of the sorrow that attends widowhood, when the hand is left full, though the bed be left empty: this widow was needy and desolate, but yet gives; some in her circumstances would have looked upon themselves as having a right to receive what was given by others, rather than give anything themselves.


Observe, 3. Her bounty and munificence in giving; her two mites are proclaimed by Christ to be more than all the rich men's talents: more in respect to the mind and affection of the giver: more with respect to the proportion of the gift; a mite to her being more than pounds to others.  Pounds were little to them; two mites were all to her, she leaves herself nothing; so that the poor woman gave not only more than any of them all, but more than they all.  Christ's eye looked at once into the bottom of her purse, and into the bottom of her heart, and judged of the offering, rather by the mind of the giver than by the value of the gift.


From this instance we learn,


1. That the poorer, yea the poorest sort of people, are not exempted from good works; but even they must and ought to exercise charity according to their ability.  This poor widow, that had not a pound, no, not a penny, presents God with a farthing.


2. That in all works of pious charity which we perform, God looks at the heart, the will, and the affection of the giver, more than at the largeness and liberality of the gift.  It is not said, the Lord loves a liberal giver, but a cheerful giver; He accepteth the gift according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not.” [William Burkitt.]


3  And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

"The value,  in the sight of God,  of what is given for his worship or for charitable purposes,  depends not so much on the amount,  as on the amount compared with the ability and the motives with which it is done." [FAMILY]. 

"3. And he said--"to His disciples, "whom He "called to Him" (#Mr 12:43),  to teach from it a great future lesson.


more than...all--in proportion to her means,  which is God's standard (#2Co 8:12)." [JFB].

"In this case,  the value of the woman's gift was measured, not by quantity,  but its quality; in quantity it was two mites,  in quality it was the gift of all she had. From considering the corrupt character of the Pharisees,  Jesus must have turned with pleasure to look upon the beautiful heart of this devout widow. "(TFG )  


4  For 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.

"4. of their abundance--their superfluity; what they had to spare, " or beyond what they needed.


of her penury--or "want" (#Mr 12:44)--her deficiency, of what was less than her own wants required,  "all the living she had." Mark (#Mr 12:44) still more emphatically,  "all that she had--her whole subsistence." Note: (1) As temple offerings are needed still for the service of Christ at home and abroad,  so "looking down" now,  as then "up, "Me "sees" who "cast in, "and how much. (2) Christ's standard of commendable offering is not our superfluity,  but our deficiency--not what will never be missed,  but what costs us some real sacrifice,  and just in proportion to the relative amount of that sacrifice. (See #2Co 8:1-3.)" [JFB].



Lu 21:5 ¶ And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

“Verse 5.  Goodly stones. Beautiful stones.  Either referring to the large, square, and well-finished stones of which the eastern wall was built, or to the precious stones which might have been used in decorating the temple itself. See Barnes for Mr 13:1.


  Gifts. This word properly denotes anything devoted or dedicated to God. Anciently warriors dedicated to their gods the spoils of war--the shields, and helmets, and armour, and garments of those slain in battle. These were suspended in the temples. It would seem that something of this kind had occurred in the temple of Jerusalem, and that the people, to express their gratitude to God, had suspended on the pillars and porches of the temple gifts and offerings. Josephus mentions particularly a golden vine with which Herod the Great had adorned the columns of the temple (Antiq. xiii. 8).  See also 2 Mac. v. 16; ix. 16.” [Albert  Barnes].   



Lu 21:6 As 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.



 7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

Ver. 7. Mark saith, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately. Matthew brings two things more within the compass of their question, viz. What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Our Saviour answereth this question from Lu 21:8-32. The most of what he saith we have before met with in Matthew and Mark. It is the harder to distinguish between the signs Christ giveth of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the day of judgment, because the signs of both are generally the same, and most divines think that God in the destruction of Jerusalem intended to give a specimen of the general conflagration, and ruin of the world at the last day; so as signs of the same kind with those seen before Jerusalem was destroyed, shall be seen before the great and terrible day of our Lord's coming to judge the world.” [Matthew Poole.].


Lu 21:8 And 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.

“This happened, and was abundantly fulfilled, before the destruction of Jerusalem, and probably will receive a further fulfilling in the latter end of the world. But before the destruction of Jerusalem it was, as Josephus assures us, fulfilled in many, particularly:


1. In one Theudas, whether the same mentioned by Gamaliel, Ac 5:36, or some other of that name, is uncertain.


2. An Egyptian sorcerer, mentioned Ac 21:38.


3. One Dositheus, a Samaritan.


4. Another in the time of Festus's government.


5. Simon Magus is also reckoned for one, Ac 8:9. He boasted he was the great power of God. Others also reckon one Menander, a disciple of Simon Magus.


It is certain there were many who arrogated to themselves the name of the Messiah, to countenance their heading of a faction. There have also been many since the destruction of Jerusalem, and probably will be many more before the end of the world, 2Ti 4:3; 2Pe 2:1; 1Jo 2:18.” [Matthew Poole.].