Luke 21

Chapter 21

The Poor Widow’s Offering.[a] 1 Looking up, Jesus saw wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury, 2 and he also noticed a poor widow putting in two copper coins. 3 He said: “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has given more than all the rest. 4 For the others have all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has given all that she had to live on.”

The Destruction of the Temple and the Return of Christ[b]

Jesus Announces the Destruction of the Temple.[c] When some people were talking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and votive offerings, Jesus remarked, 6 “As for all these things that you are gazing at now, the time will come when not one stone here will be left upon another; everything will be thrown down.”

The Signs of the End.[d] 7 They then asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what will be the sign that it is about to take place?” 8 He answered, “Take care not to be deceived. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 And when you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified, for those things are bound to take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

10 Then he added, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be tremendous earthquakes, famines, and plagues in various places, as well as dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 The Coming Persecution.“But before all this happens, they will seize you and persecute you. You will be handed over to synagogues and imprisoned, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to bear witness to me. 14 But do not even consider preparing your defense beforehand, 15 for I myself will give you a depth of wisdom and eloquence that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

16 “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name, 18 but not a hair of your head will be lost. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.

20 The Great Trial.[e]“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you may be certain that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are within the city must escape from its boundaries, and those who are in country areas must not return. 22 For those will be days of retribution when all that is written will come to pass.

23 “Woe to those who are pregnant and those who are nursing infants in those days. For there will be great distress on the earth, and terrible wrath shall afflict this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and be carried away as captives among all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled.

25 The Coming of the Son of Man.[f]“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in great distress, bewildered at the roaring of the sea and its waves. 26 Men will grow faint with terror and apprehension at what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, look up and hold your heads high, because the time of your redemption is drawing near.”

29 The Parable of the Fig Tree. Then he told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree or indeed at any other tree. 30 As soon as it begins to bud, you know that summer is already near. 31 In the same way, when you see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.[g] 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

34 Exhortation To Be Vigilant.[h]“Be on your guard lest your hearts be weighed down by carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of this life and that day will catch you unawares, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone in the world. 36 Be vigilant at all times, praying for the strength to survive all those things that will take place and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.”

37 Jesus’ Last Days in Jerusalem.[i] Each day Jesus was teaching in the temple, but every evening he would go forth and spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives. 38 And all the people would rise early every morning to listen to him in the temple.


  1. Luke 21:1 See note on Mk 12:41-44.
  2. Luke 21:5 Scenes of terror and visions of hope alternate in this great discourse. If we are to understand its tone and vocabulary, we must put ourselves in the atmosphere created by various terrifying and magnificent pages of the Old Testament. On the eve of the catastrophe that destroyed both Jerusalem, for the first time, and the state of Israel in 587 B.C., some prophets had a presentiment of the spiritual ruin of the people and had warned them, with harsh invectives, of future punishments. Later on, people began to ask about the ultimate destiny of the world and humanity; this created a restlessness that was eschatological, that is, concerned with the ultimate end, the last times.

    In the “apocalypses” or “revelations,” some authors imagined awe-inspiring scenes of wars, disasters, and judgment, which would usher in the coming of God and the salvation of the people. These accounts, which are to be read in accordance with their particular literary genre, always remain bewildering.

  3. Luke 21:5 Around the year 19 B.C., Herod the Great undertook a splendid reconstruction of the temple. The very magnificence of the restored temple caused a sense of self-reliance and presumption (see Lk 13:34-35; 19:46; Jer 7:1-15; 26; Ezek 8:11; Mic 3:9-12).
  4. Luke 21:7 For a Jew, the destruction of the temple inaugurates the great tribulation of the end times. We understand that the disciples are worried. Jesus gives them signs: those more distant (vv. 10-11) will be taken up again even later on (vv. 25-26); those closer describe the events of the troubled years 66–70: appearances of false messiahs, civil wars and struggles, persecution of Christians. This persecution is a privileged sign of the coming of the kingdom of God, and it is seen to be severe. But let those who bear witness to Christ take courage, for they will not be abandoned. The Passion is the way to glory for the Christian community as it is for the Lord. Courage will be given to them to announce the essence of the message: Jesus Christ dead, risen, and to come.
  5. Luke 21:20 The evils that overtake the holy city are like a judgment of God upon it. But the tragic fate of Jerusalem and its temple inaugurates the laborious period in which is born the new world until all the pagans have heard the Good News of salvation and Israel itself is converted (see Rom 11:25-27).
  6. Luke 21:25 At the end of the final crisis, which is described in the violent images dear to the Prophets and the authors of the apocalypses (see Isa 13:10; 24:23; 34:4; Ezek 32:7-8; Joel 4:15), Jesus, the victorious Christ, will come to judge the world and deliver those who have remained faithful and are ready to welcome him (see Dan 7:13). The signs, especially persecutions, are pledges of hope and deliverance (see Rom 8:23; Eph 1:14; 4:30).
  7. Luke 21:32 In the apocalyptic genre, a “generation” signifies an age of the world, a stage in God’s plan.
  8. Luke 21:34 Since in Luke’s perspective the end of the world is not considered to be imminent, the exhortation to be vigilant voiced here is more pressing so that the delay may not numb the heart of the Christian. At the same time, there is an invitation to pray that the day of the Lord may not come unexpectedly and find us unprepared to appear before the divine Judge.
  9. Luke 21:37 During the final week of his life (Sunday to Thursday), Jesus taught in the temple in the morning, and all the people came to hear him.

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