Notes for Luke 21:25-36

Written by Joel on December 6th, 2009

Luke 21:25-36
Advent 1C
Preached on Nov 29, 2009 – Listen here.

Here is a behind the scenes look at my sermon prep for the first Sunday of Advent for 2009. The following may or may not have made it into the sermon:

The Text

My (attempt at a) translation

25) And there will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars and upon the earth distress of the nations as the sounds of the tossing sea.
26) Fainting and fear of the people from the expectation of what’s coming to the inhabitants of earth, for the powers of heaven will be disturbed.
27) And at that time the Son of Man will be seen coming on a cloud with great power and glory.
28) And when these things begin to happen, stand up and lift your head because your redemption is near.
29) And he said a parable to them. Look at the fig tree and all the trees
30) which put out leaves already. You can see for yourselves that summer is already coming near.
31) So also whenever you see these things happening you know that near is the kingdom of God.
32) Truly I say to you that this generation will not pass away until all happens
33) heaven and earth will pass but my words will not pass.
34) Hold on to yourselves never be weighed down, your hearts in drunkenness and anxieties of the day and life; stand tall and don’t let that day come on you
35) like a trap upon all inhabitants of the face of the earth.
36) Be watchful in all hours, praying you have strength to flee all these things about to happen and stand before the Son of Man.


Preceded by more signs of the end times.
Followed (immediately) by Judas agreeing to betray Jesus → Last Supper. Given this context, are these end times sayings more of an allusion to Jesus coming death?
This text is part of Jesus’ response to the Disciples’ question “When will [not one stone will be left on another, every one of them thrown down] happen and what will be the signs that this is about to take place?” (cf v.5-7)
Verse 37 says Jesus went out on the Mount of Olives – is the first reference of this place in this gospel? If so, would this be a connection of this text to the passion? First instance is in Chapter 19. Four references total in Luke.

Redaction (compare Matthew, Mark, Luke accounts)

For parallels see Matt 24.29—44 & Mark 13.24—37
Both Mark & Matthew quote directly from Isaiah 13:10; 34:4 “The sun…moon…stars…heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Luke maintains the same order and some phrases, but it is by no means a direct quote.
Both Mark & Matthew say these signs will happen after the suffering, while Luke appears to say it will preceded.
Luke v.31 “you know that the kingdom of God is near.” while M&M have “You know he is near, at the very gates.” Who is he? It could be Son-of-Man or it could be “it”
All agree completely on verses 32-33 “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
However, while M&M have (not 100% in agreement) “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Luke has no mention about the knowledge of the end times. Although later, Luke exhorts that believes always keep vigilance because you don’t know when it will come upon you. “Be alert at all times.”

Grammar/Important Words

Verse 25, see BDAG for “astrois” – “Normally showing sailors the way at night” p.146 Perhaps Luke is trying to use these ideas (sun, moon, stars…) to say that they could serve as pointers of the times to come.
Verse 26 – “the power of heaven will be thrown down.” Not a gentle coming, or entirely happy-positive look on the nearness of the kingdom of God.
Verse 28: any significance to the word ginomai here?
Verse 31: NRSV: “You know that the kingdom of God is near.” Greek: near is the kingdom of God. Could there be an emphasis on the nearness/immanence based on word order?

Scriptural References

The fig tree is mentioned only one other time Luke’s gospel, chapter 13.
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8 He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” NRSV

Son of Man in Daniel 7.

Verse 25 – “The sun, moon, stars, earth” See Isaiah 13:10; 34:4 – seen as a victory for Israel, freedom from Babylon.


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