The poor widow casting two mites into the treasury, 1-4. the destruction of the temple foretold, 5,6. The signs of this desolation, 7. False Christs, 8. Wars, 9,10. Earthquakes and fearful sights, 11. Persecutions against the godly, 12-19. Directions how to escape, 20-22. The tribulation of those times, 23-28. The parable of the fig tree, illustrative of the time when they may expect these calamities, 29-33. The necessity of sobriety and watchfulness, 34-36. He teaches by day in the temple, and lodges by night in the mount of Olives, and the people come early to hear him, 37,38.
Notes on Chapter 21
The rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
See all this, from Luke 21:1-4, explained on ; Mark 12:41-44.
A certain poor widow
A widow miserably poor; this is the proper import of πενιχραν, and her being miserably poor heightened the merit of the action.
Which Mark says, Mark 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, Mark 12:42, a lepton, i.e. small, diminished, from λειπο, 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. See Clarke on Mark 12:41.
Or, costly stones. It has been thought by some that this relates not so much to the stones of which the temple was built, as to the precious stones with which it was decorated. For an account of the stones of the temple, See Clarke on Mark 13:1.
Or, consecrated things, αναθημασι. αναθημα properly signifies a thing consecrated to sacred uses: αναθεμα signifies a thing devoted to a curse, or to destruction. They both come from the same root, ανατιθημι, I lay up, separate; and though two meanings cannot be more opposite than those assigned to these words, yet in the words themselves a short vowel (ε) in the place of a long one (η) makes all the difference between blessing and cursing.
One stone upon another This was literally fulfilled. See Matthew 24:2.
Many shall come in my name
Usurping my name: calling themselves the Messiah. See Matthew 24:5. Concerning this prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, and its literal accomplishment, see the notes on Matthew 24:1-42.
Seditions and civil dissensions, with which no people were more agitated than the Jews.
What these were the reader will find in detail on Matthew 24:7.
Or, assemblies, explained on Mark 13:9.
It shall turn to you for a testimony.
That is, it shall turn out on your part for a testimony to them (your persecutors) that you are thoroughly persuaded of the truth of what you teach, and that you are no impostors.
Settle it therefore, See Clarke on Matthew 10:19.
I will give you a mouth and wisdom
στομα, a mouth, must appear plain to every person to be used here for a ready utterance, or eloquence in speaking. They shall have an abundance of wisdom to know what to say; and they shall have an irresistible eloquence to say what they ought.
But there shall not a hair of your head perish.
A proverbial expression for, Ye shall not suffer any essential injury. Every genuine Christian shall escape when this desolation comes upon the Jewish state.
In your patience
Rather, your perseverance, your faithful continuance in my word and doctrine. Ye will preserve your souls. Ye shall escape the Roman sword, and not one of you shall perish in the destruction of Jerusalem. Instead of κτησασθε, possess, or preserve ye, I read κτησεσθε, ye shall preserve. This reading is supported by AB-B, five others; both the Syriac, all the Arabic, AEthiopic, Vulgate, all the Itala except two, Origen, Macarius, and Tertullian.
These be the days of vengeance
See Clarke on Matthew 24:21.
They shall fall by the edge of the sword
Those who perished in the siege are reckoned to be not less than eleven hundred thousand. See Matthew 24:22.
And shall be led away captive
To the number of ninety-seven thousand. See Josephus, War, b. vi. c. ix. s. 2,3, and on Matthew 24:31.
Trodden down of the Gentiles
Judea was so completely subjugated that the very land itself was sold by Vespasian; the Gentiles possessing it, while the Jews were either nearly all killed or led away into captivity.
Of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Till the different nations of the earth, to whom God shall have given the dominion over this land, have accomplished all that which the Lord hath appointed them to do; and till the time of their conversion to God take place. But when shall this be? We know not. The nations are still treading down Jerusalem, and the end is known only to the Lord. See Clarke on Matthew 24:31.
The sea and the waves roaring
Figuratively pointing out the immense Roman armies by which Judea was to be overrun and destroyed.
Men's hearts failing them for fear
Or, Men fainting away through fear, (αποψυχοντων,) being ready to die.
Coming on the earth
Or, Coming upon this land, οικουμενη. See this translation of the word vindicated in Clarke's note on "Lu 2:1".
He spake to them a parable
Illustrated all these predicted facts by the simile of a fig tree. See this explained, Clarke "Mt 24:32".
The kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
After the destruction of the Jewish state, the doctrine of Christ crucified shall be preached every where, and every where prevail.
This race of men; but see on Matthew 24:34, and ; Mark 13:30.
Take heed to yourselves
See our Lord's parable, relative to this matter, explained, Mark 13:34.
Literally, be made heavy, as is generally the case with those who have eaten or drank too much. Take heed that ye be not rendered secure by an improper use of lawful things: do not make this earth your portion: expect its dissolution, and prepare to meet your God.
The face of the whole earth.
Or, of this whole land. The land of Judea, on which these heavy judgments were to fall. See Luke 21:25; see also ; 2:1.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always
Perhaps we should connect εςπαντικαιρω, continually, with αγρυπνειτε, watch, as it appears to be the most natural order. Indeed the word continually belongs equally to both watch and pray; and no man is safe, at any time, who does not attend to this advice as literally as possible.
That shall come to pass
That is, the tribulations which are on their way to overwhelm and destroy the Jewish people. These are sufficiently stated in the preceding verses.
To stand before the Son of man.
To be acquitted, and to be condemned, are expressed, in Romans 14:4, by standing and falling. Those who were faithful to the grace they had received were not only not destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem, but became heralds of the grace and mercy of God to the nations. Thus they were counted worthy to stand before the Son of man-to minister salvation in his name.
And in the day time
Or, every day-ταςημερας. This probably relates to the four last days of his life already mentioned.
Abode in the mount
He taught all day in the temple, and withdrew every evening, and lodged in Bethany; a town at the foot, or on the declivity of the mount of Olives. See Clarke on Matthew 21:17.
The people came early
He returned early from the mount of Olives, and the people came early in the morning to the temple to hear his teaching. For practical observations on the awful subject of this chapter, see Matt. 24 at the end. See Clarke on Matthew 24:51.