The great prophecy recorded in Luke 21 is different both in time, place and subject from that recorded in Matt 24 and Mark 13.
The one recorded in Luke was spoken "on one of those days, as He taught the people in the Temple" (Luke 20:1). For one note of time is in 21:1, "and He looked up and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the Treasury." So that He was still "in the Temple" when He uttered the prophecy recorded in Luke 21, for the whole conversation with the disciples follows without a break the Lord's commendation of the widow.
But with regard to the prophecy recorded in Matt 24, we distinctly read (v. 1) "and Jesus went out and departed from the Temple ... and as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately" (v. 30). So in Mark 13:1, "He went out of the Temple ... and as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, over against the Temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately" (v. 3).
So that we have two great prophecies. One (Luke) spoken in the Temple, the other (Matthew and Mark) spoken later upon the Mount of Olives. As parts of the first are repeated on the second occasion, we will give the leading points of the three in parallel columns, so that the object of each, and the difference between them, may be clearly seen.
They both open with a summary of events which might have taken place in the lifetime and experience of those who heard the words :--
FROM THE CROSS ONWARDS.
|LUKE 21:8-9.||MATT. 24:4-6||MARK 13:5-7|
|"Take heed that ye be not deceived for may shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But 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 (i.e. immediately, so R.V.)."||"Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."||"Take heed lest any man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet."|
John refers to this first sign in his First Epistle (2:18); but had
the nation repented at the proclamation by Peter in Acts 3:18-26, by the
Twelve in the Land, by "them that heard Him" (Heb. 2:3), and by Paul in
the Synagogues of the Dispersion, "all that the prophets had written" would
have been fulfilled.
|LUKE 21:10, 11.||MATT. 24:7, 8.||MARK 13:8|
|"Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom: and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences, and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven."||"Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."||Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows."|
Now, it will be observed in the Lord's discourse as recorded in Luke, that, instead of saying "these are the beginnings of sorrows", and going on with the account of them, He stops short; He goes back; He introduces a parenthesis detailing and describing events that would take place "BEFORE ALL THESE" beginnings of sorrows. He describes in v. 12,
THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM.
|12. But before all these,|
That is to say "BEFORE" the great tribulation, all that is recorded
concerning Jerusalem in vv. 12-24 would take place. These
are the closing words :--
|24. "And 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.|
Now, in the discourse recorded in Matt. 24, instead of going back to speak of the condition of Jerusalem before and until the beginning of the great Tribulation; having said "All these are the beginning of sorrows", He goes on to describe the sorrows, or birth-pangs of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:9-28. Mark 13:9-23), and He continues the prophecy concerning these sorrows up to the moment of His appearing in the clouds of heaven.
While, in the discourse recorded in Luke 21, having gone back, and described what should take place "before all these" beginnings of sorrows, the Lord does not speak further of the great Tribulation, but takes it up at the end, and, as in Matthew and Mark, speaks concerning
HIS COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN
(of course, in Luke the words are slightly different from those in Matthew
and Mark) :--
|LUKE 21:25-27.||MATT. 24:29, 30||MARK 13:24-26.|
|"And 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; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."||"Immediately after the tribulation of those days (*1) shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."||"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken, and then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."|
The first prophecy, in the Temple (Luke 21), was uttered in answer to two questions : (1) "When shall these things be?" and (2) "What sign shall there be when these things shall come to pass?" The answer to (1) is given in vv. 8-24, and the answer to (2) in vv. 25-28.
The second prophecy, on the Mount of Olives (Matt. 24 and Mark 13), was uttered in answer to three distinct questions : (1) "When shall these things be?" (2) "What shall be the sign of Thy coming?" and (3) "And [what shall be the sign] of the end of the age?" The answer to (1) was given in Matt. 24:4-14. Mark 13:5-13. The answer to (2) was given in Matt. 24:15-27. Mark 13:14-23; and to (3) in Matt. 24:29-31 and Mark 13:24-27 (and in Luke 21:25-28).
And then both prophecies conclude with the Parable of the Fig tree, and the final solemn assurance :--
"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall by no means (See Ap. 105. III) pass, till all these things may be fulfilled" (*2) (Matt. 24:34. Mark 13:30. Luke 21:32.)
This latter is the last of four equally impressive statements : Matt. 10:23; 16:28; 23:39; 24:34.
Each of these consists of two clauses, the former of which contains the strongest negative that could possibly have been used (see Ap. 105. III); and should be rendered "by no means", or "in no wise", as it is often rendered elsewhere; while in the latter clause the verb is in the subjunctive mood with or without the Greek Particle "an", which (though it cannot be represented in translation) makes the clause hypothetical and dependent on some condition expressed or implied. This condition was, in each of these four passages, the repentance of the nation, in response to the appeal of "the other servants" of Matt. 22:4, as recorded in Acts 3:18-26 and elsewhere, culminating in Acts 28:17-29.
The conclusion of both prophecies thus consists of an assured certainty, with a definite contingency, or uncertainty which was not fulfilled.
Had the nation repented, then Jesus Christ would have been "sent", and
"the restoration of all things which God had spoken by all His holy prophets
since the world began" would have taken place, in accordance with God's
Divine assurance given by Peter in Acts 3:18-26; but the condition of national
repentance (Lev. 26:40-42; Hos. 14:1-4, &c.) was not fulfilled;
hence that generation passed away; and both prophecies (with all the others)
are now postponed. The first sign of all did (and will again)
take place - the rising of the "many Antichrists", whereby John could say
they knew that it was "the last hour" before "the end of that age" (1John
(*2) In all three passages the verb is genetai = may arise, or may have come to pass: not pleroo = be entirely fulfilled or finished, as in Luke 21:24. This was so in both cases.