The Poor Widow’s Contribution.* 1a When he looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury 2and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. 3He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; 4for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
The Destruction of the Temple Foretold.b 5* While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said, 6“All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”c
The Signs of the End. 7d Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” 8He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’* Do not follow them!e 9When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.f 11There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
The Coming Persecution. 12g “Before all this happens,* however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.h 13It will lead to your giving testimony. 14Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, 15i for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking* that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. 16j You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.k 17You will be hated by all because of my name, 18but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.l 19By your perseverance you will secure your lives.m
The Great Tribulation.* 20n “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand.o 21Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it, and let those in the countryside not enter the city,p 22for these days are the time of punishment when all the scriptures are fulfilled. 23Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people.q 24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles* are fulfilled.r
The Coming of the Son of Man.s 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.t 26People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens* will be shaken.u 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.v 28But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”w
The Lesson of the Fig Tree.x 29He taught them a lesson. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. 30When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; 31in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.y 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.z
Exhortation to Be Vigilant. 34“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprisea 35like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. 36Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”b
Ministry in Jerusalem. 37During the day, Jesus was teaching in the temple area, but at night he would leave and stay at the place called the Mount of Olives.c 38And all the people would get up early each morning to listen to him in the temple area.
* [21:1–4] The widow is another example of the poor ones in this gospel whose detachment from material possessions and dependence on God leads to their blessedness (Lk 6:20). Her simple offering provides a striking contrast to the pride and pretentiousness of the scribes denounced in the preceding section (Lk 20:45–47). The story is taken from Mk 12:41–44.
* [21:5–36] Jesus’ eschatological discourse in Luke is inspired by Mk 13 but Luke has made some significant alterations to the words of Jesus found there. Luke maintains, though in a modified form, the belief in the early expectation of the end of the age (see Lk 21:27, 28, 31, 32, 36), but, by focusing attention throughout the gospel on the importance of the day-to-day following of Jesus and by reinterpreting the meaning of some of the signs of the end from Mk 13 he has come to terms with what seemed to the early Christian community to be a delay of the parousia. Mark, for example, described the desecration of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans (Mk 13:14) as the apocalyptic symbol (see Dn 9:27; 12:11) accompanying the end of the age and the coming of the Son of Man. Luke (Lk 21:20–24), however, removes the apocalyptic setting and separates the historical destruction of Jerusalem from the signs of the coming of the Son of Man by a period that he refers to as “the times of the Gentiles” (Lk 21:24). See also notes on Mt 24:1–36 and Mk 13:1–37.
* [21:8] The time has come: in Luke, the proclamation of the imminent end of the age has itself become a false teaching.
* [21:12] Before all this happens…: to Luke and his community, some of the signs of the end just described (Lk 21:10–11) still lie in the future. Now in dealing with the persecution of the disciples (Lk 21:12–19) and the destruction of Jerusalem (Lk 21:20–24) Luke is pointing to eschatological signs that have already been fulfilled.
* [21:15] A wisdom in speaking: literally, “a mouth and wisdom.”
* [21:20–24] The actual destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in A.D. 70 upon which Luke and his community look back provides the assurance that, just as Jesus’ prediction of Jerusalem’s destruction was fulfilled, so too will be his announcement of their final redemption (Lk 21:27–28).
* [21:24] The times of the Gentiles: a period of indeterminate length separating the destruction of Jerusalem from the cosmic signs accompanying the coming of the Son of Man.