This is Part 2 of 2 of the Lukan End Time Discourse page of the Bible prophecy website titled "Jesus and the End Time". This End Time or Olivet discourse shows and discusses the King James Bible passages ("texts" for short) that appear in chapter 21 of the Gospel of Luke, i.e., Luke 21:5-37. This discourse and its Matthean and Markan counterparts, the Matthean End Time discourse (Matt. 24:1 through Matt. 25:46) and the Markan End Time discourse (Mark 13:1-37), are singled out for special treatment for the reasons given on the Introduction page of this website. The most important of these is that these discourses include the longest and most complete descriptions of the End Times teachings of Jesus that can be found in the Gospels in which they appear. As a result, these discourses can reasonably be regarded as together comprising the single most important set of Biblical texts that a person can use to understand the Eschatology of Jesus as it is described in the King James Bible (or KJV Bible).
While the KJV Bible shows the Lukan End Time discourse as a single, long sequence of verses that occupies all but a few verses of chapter 21 of the Gospel of Luke, the writer has divided this discourse into two parts and used Luke 21:24 as the dividing line between them. One reason he has used Luke 21:24 as this dividing line is that this verse appears just before one of this discourse's main literary and logical break points, namely, the point at which Luke switches from describing teachings of Jesus about the End Times events which will occur before the coming of the Son of man and the kingdom of God (or End Time Kingdom) to describing his teachings about events which will occur at or after the time of their coming. Another reason he has used Luke 21:24 as this dividing line is that this verse lies at the point after which the Lukan discourse describes End Time prophecies of Jesus which have interpretations that are the subject of controversy and, consequently, call for the inclusion of a larger than usual number of explanatory Notes. Among the most important of these prophecies is the proper interpretation of the words "this generation" in the prophecy of Jesus that "…this generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled (Luke 21:32).
Surprisingly, the Lukan End Time discourse as a whole is much shorter than the Matthean End Time discourse as a whole. In fact, the above-mentioned two parts of the Lukan discourse together correspond to only about the first half of the Matthean discourse. The main reason for this difference is that the Lukan discourse does not include a lengthy description of the teachings of Jesus about the End Time Judgment (an event also referred to as the Day of Judgment, Judgment Day or simply "the Judgment"), like the one included in the last part of the Matthean discourse. The writer discusses the differences between these teachings in an Appendix titled "Comparative Notes on the End Time Judgment" that appears at the end of this part of the Lukan End Time Discourse page. Because these teachings of Jesus about the End Time Judgment have such important consequences, the writer also discusses them and their most plausible interpretations at length in a special set of Notes titled "Notes on Everlasting Punishment" that appears on the Home page of this website.
P 25 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; 26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. 29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. P 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. 37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.
• V. 25-36 above generally correspond to Matt. 24:29-36 and Mark 13:24-37 of the Matthean and Markan discourses.
• As explained in Part 1, the Lukan End Time Discourse does not explicitly say that Jesus spoke it on the mount of Olives. Instead, it seems to suggest this by saying that Jesus spoke it as some of those with him "spake of" or "beheld" the temple" (Luke 21:5-6), and that at night he "abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives" (Luke 21:37). In view of this place reference, and the many other similarities between its words and those of the Olivet Discourses of Matthew and Mark, the writer may refer to Luke 21:5-37 as the Olivet Discourse of Luke, whether or not other writers choose to do so.
• The things Jesus says about signs in the sun, moon and stars in v. 25 may be a differently worded reiteration of the things he says about "great signs...from heaven." in the last part of v. 11 of Luke 21:5-24. Only in v. 30 of Matt. 24:29-36, however, does Jesus speak of the appearance of "the sign of the Son of man in heaven:".
• The things Jesus says about "distress of nations, with perplexity;" in v. 25 may be related to the "wars and commotions" he speaks about in v. 9 of Luke 21:5-24. Similarly, the things Jesus says about men's "hearts failing them for fear," in v. 26 may be related to the "fearful sights" he speaks about in v. 11 of Luke 21:5-24.
• Unlike v. 25, which says, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars;", Matt. 24:29 and Mark 13:24 of the Matthean and Markan discourses say that the sun shall be "darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,". If v. 25 is regarded as only a more broadly worded form of the latter, then it is supported by the same prophecies that support the latter, i.e., v. 10 of Is. 13:6-15, v. 7 of Ezek. 32:3-10, v. 10 of Joel 2:1-11 and v. 15 of Joel 3:9-21. If v. 25 is considered by itself, however, it may also be supported by v. 23 of Is. 24:17-23, v. 30-31 of Joel 2:28-32, v. 9 of Amos 8:7-10 and v. 6 of Zech. 14:1-11.
• The statement in v. 26 above that "the powers of heaven shall be shaken." generally parallels the statement in Matt. 24:29 that "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:", and the statement in Mark 13:25 that "the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.". These statements all seem to refer to a shaking of the kind mentioned in v. 13 of Is. 13:6-15, v. 10 of Joel 2:1-11, v. 16 of Joel 3:9-21, v. 6 of Hag. 2:1-9 and v. 21 of Hag. 2:20-23.
• In spite of the already discussed similarities between v. 25-37 above and their Matthean and Markan counterparts, neither v. 25-36 nor any other part of the Gospel of Luke includes statements like "the stars shall fall from heaven," (Matt. 24:29) and "the stars of heaven shall fall," (Mark 13:25). As a result, these parts of the Matthean and Markan discourses may be related to the prophecies of v. 4 of Is. 34:1-12 and v. 10 of Dan. 8:5-14 in a way that the Lukan discourse is not.
• V. 27 is the first verse of the Lukan discourse in which Jesus uses "the Son of man" in a sense that is of End Time interest. In the accompanying Auxiliary Sense file titled "Senses of Phrases Like Son of Man", the writer describes the senses in which the Bible uses phrases of this kind ("a son of man", "the son of man", etc.) and gives examples of Bible verses that use them in these senses.
• The description of the coming of the Son of man in v. 27 is repeated, almost word for word, in the last part of v. 30 of Matt. 24:29-36 and in v. 26 of Mark 13:24-32. See also v. 31 of Matt. 25:31-46. All of these descriptions seem to correspond to the description of the coming of "one like the Son of man" that appears in v. 13-14 of Dan. 7:9-14. One or more of these references to the Son of man may be related to the reference to "the likeness as the appearance of a man" that appears in v. 26 of Ezek. 1:26-28.
• The coming of the Son of man that Jesus speaks of in v. 27, v. 30 of Matthew 24:29-36, v. 26 of Mark 13:24-32 and v. 31 of Matt. 25:31-46 all seem to be related to the coming that he speaks of in v. 28 of Matt. 16:24-28, v. 38 of Mark 8:34-9:1 and v. 26 of Luke 9:23-27. See also v. 41 of Matt. 13:36-43, v. 27 of Matt. 24:23-28, v. 37 and 39 of Matt. 24:37-51 and v. 26-30 of Luke 17:36-37. See also, however, v. 23 of Matt. 10:5-23.
• The words Jesus speaks in v. 27 are similar to those he speaks at v. 64 of Matt. 26:62-66 and v. 62 of Mark 14:60-64, i.e., during his trial before the high priest, except that he there adds, "sitting on the right hand of power,". In Luke's account of his trial before the elders of the people and the chief priests and scribes, Luke 22:66-71, Jesus does not mention cloud(s), and says only that the Son of man shall "sit on the right hand of the power of God." (Luke 22:69). Examples of Bible verses that illustrate how it couples the words "right hand" with references to God include 1Kings 22:19 and 2Chron. 18:18, and the following verses from Psalms: Ps. 16:11; 20:6; 63:8; 80:17; 110:1 and 5; 138:7 and 139:10. Among the latter, Ps. 110:1 is of special interest because all three Synoptic Gospels describe Jesus discussing this verse with the Pharisees and scribes. See Matt. 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37 and Luke 20:41-44.
• The Son of man that v. 27 describes as "coming in a cloud" seems to correspond to the "one like the Son of man" that v. 13-14 of Dan. 7:9-14 describe as coming with the clouds of heaven "to the Ancient of days" and being given "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom,". While Daniel does not go on to describe the Son of man as the judge of the day of judgment, Jesus does seem to do so in Matt. 25:31-46 of the Matthean discourse, although he there refers to the judge as "the King". The Gospel of Mark, on the other hand, does not describe the Son of Man as the judge of the day of judgment, although it refers to this day as such in v. 11 of Mark 6:7-13. In addition, v. 36 above suggests that the Son of man will be this judge, but does not explicitly say so. See also v. 22 of Luke 19:11-27.
• Surprisingly, while v. 27 and the corresponding parts of the Matthean and Markan discourses describe Jesus saying that the Son of man shall come in a cloud (or in the clouds) "with power and great glory.", none describes him saying that the Son of man shall come in or with his kingdom, like Matt. 16:27-28 does. One possible explanation is that his coming in his kingdom (or in his kingship) is implied by the words "with power and great glory." in v. 27. Another is that v. 25-37 do describe Jesus speaking about the Son of man coming in his kingdom, but describe him doing so by means of a parable in v. 29-32, rather than by implying it in v. 27. See in this connection the discussion of the meaning of the words "summer" and "it" that appears in a Note included with v. 29-32 below.
• V. 27 refers to the persons who see the coming of the Son of man only as "they", i.e., the men whose hearts v. 26 describes as failing them for fear. Mark 13:26 of the Markan discourse also refers to these persons only as "they", but does not describe their reaction to what they see. Matt. 24:30 of the Matthean discourse refers to these persons as "all the tribes of the earth" and says that they will mourn. Of these, Matt. 24:30 is of special interest because it seems to echo Is. 40:1-11/4, which speaks of the glory of the Lord and says, "all flesh shall see it together:". Notice in this connection that John the Baptist quotes from v. 3 of the latter text in Matt. 3:1-6/3, Mark 1:1-11/3 and Luke 3:1-9/4, and that Luke 3:1-9/6 describes John adding, "And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.".
• V. 28 has no counterpart in the Matthean and Markan discourses. Jesus does, however, make a statement that begins with very similar words in v. 31, and that does have counterparts in these discourses at v. 33 of Matt. 24:29-36 and v. 29 of Mark 13:24-32.
• Surprisingly, v. 25-36 above do not describe the Son of man sending angels to gather his elect, like Matt. 24:31 and Mark 13:27 do. See also v. 41 of Matt. 13:36-43 and v. 49 of Matt. 13:47-50. The absence of a statement about gathering angels in the Lukan discourse is all the more surprising because Luke describes Jesus speaking about the Son of man coming in the glory of the holy angels in v. 26 of Luke 9:23-27. It is possible, however, that Luke had a similar idea in mind when he used "snare" in v. 35 above.
• Since the kingdom of God that Jesus speaks of in v. 29-32 corresponds to the summer (or "it") that he speaks of in Matt. 24:32-34 and Mark 13:28-30, it seems clear that all of these texts relate to the kingdom of God. This, in turn, raises the question of how this kingdom is related to the kingdom of the Son of man that Jesus speaks of in Matt. 16:28. One possibility is that Jesus thought that the Son of man would sit on the throne of the kingdom of God or, in other words, have God as his kingly overlord or suzerain. See in this connection v. 32 of Luke 1:26-33 in conjunction with v. 5 of 1Chron. 28:2-8. This possibility might also help explain the meaning of the things Jesus says about the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power (or the power of God) at his Jewish trial. See, for example, v. 64 of Matt. 26:62-66, v. 62 of Mark 14:60-64 and v. 69 of Luke 22:66-71 in conjunction with v. 1 of Ps. 110:1-7.
• Jesus' statement about all being fulfilled in v. 32 would seem to convey essentially the same idea as his statement about "all these things" being fulfilled in Matt. 24:34. See also his statement about the fulfillment of "all things which are written" in Luke 21:22. It seems unclear, however, how these fulfillments are related to the fulfillment of all things that Jesus says were written "concerning me" in the Scriptures in v. 44 of Luke 24:44-51, or to the accomplishment of all of the things that he says were written "concerning the Son of man" by the prophets in v. 31-33 of Luke 18:31-34.
• The things Jesus says in v. 31-32 above are generally similar to the things he says in their Matthean and Markan counterparts, Matt. 24:33-34 and Mark 13:29-30. With the possible exception of v. 32, all of these verses suggest that Jesus taught that the Son of man would come in the way described in v. 27 before the passing away of the generation of people that lived when he spoke these words. This idea seems to be confirmed by Matt. 16:28, Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27, which describe Jesus saying that some standing here shall "not taste of death" till they "see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matt. 16:28), "have seen the kingdom of God come with power." (Mark 9:1) or "see the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:27). Because the Son of man did not come in this way before the passing away of that generation of people, these verses have long presented interpretation difficulties for Christians who believe that Jesus will come in this way in the future. Because it is impossible to thoroughly discuss these difficulties in a writing of this kind, the writer will here include only a few basic Notes that discuss how the Gospels describe Jesus using the key words or phrases that appear in these verses. The most important of these include: (1) "these things", which Jesus uses in v. 28 and 31 and Mark 13:30 ("all these things" in Matt. 24:33 and 34); (2) "this generation", which Jesus uses as such in all three discourses and (3) "till all be fulfilled.", which Jesus uses in v. 32 ("till all these things be done." in Mark 13:30 and "till all these things be fulfilled." in Matt. 24:34).
• Turning first to the phrase "these things", it will be seen that Jesus seems to use this phrase in v. 28 and 31 simply to refer back to the things he just mentioned, including the coming of the Son of man in a cloud (v. 27) and signs in the sun, moon and stars (v. 25). He also seems to use this phrase in the same way in earlier and later parts of the Lukan discourse, such as Luke 21:9 and Luke 21:36. See also v. 48 of Luke 24:44-51. Jesus also uses the phrase "these things" in much the same way in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Interestingly, while all three Synoptic Gospels describe Jesus using both the phrase "these things" and the phrase "all these things", Matthew and Mark typically describe Jesus using "all these things" while Luke typically describes him using "these things". As a result, it seems unreasonable to conclude that these phrases alone are responsible for the above-mentioned interpretation difficulties.
• Turning next to the phrase "till all be fulfilled" at the end of v. 32, the situation is less clear. This is because this phrase may be only a variant of its Matthean or Markan counterparts, "till all these things be fulfilled." (Matt. 24:34) or "till all these things be done." (Mark 13:30), that Luke abbreviated by dropping the words "these things". On the other hand, it may mean that Luke intended what Jesus said at this point to apply not just to the fulfillment of the things he mentioned earlier in his discourse, but also to the fulfillment all Biblical prophecies about the End Time. Unfortunately, while the former possibility is supported by the fact that both Matthew and Mark clearly and repeatedly describe Jesus saying "these things" and "all these things", the latter is supported by the fact that Luke elsewhere describes Jesus making statements like Luke 21:5-24/22 and Luke 24:44-51/44, which explicitly refer to all of the things written in the Scriptures. Perhaps the most important examples of prophecies that seem to fall within the meaning of Luke's broader phrase, but not within the meaning of Matthew's and Mark's narrower phrases, are those that prophesy a restoration to Israel of a king of the house of David. See, for example, 2Sam. 7:12-16, Ps. 132:8-18, Is. 9:1-7 and Jer. 33:19-26, among others. Fortunately, this difference does not seem to be important for present purposes. This is because the broadly worded ending of v. 32 would seem to encompass all of the things encompassed by the narrowly worded endings of Matt. 24:34 and Mark 13:30.
• Turning lastly to the words "this generation" in v. 32, one encounters what is arguably the most problematic phrase in the End Time discourses. One reason is that v. 32 and its Matthean and Markan counterparts, Matt. 24:34 and Mark 13:30, all begin with almost the same words, i.e., "Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all...". Another is that Jesus' use of "you" with "This generation" suggests that he is using these terms to refer to the same people, i.e., the people to whom he is speaking. As a result, if v. 32 is an accurate translation of what Jesus said at this point and is interpreted literally, it would seem to say that the Son of man would come in a cloud (v. 27) while at least some of those people were still alive, an idea that seems to be confirmed by Matt. 16:28, Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27. In order to deal with the difficulties associated with the fact that the Son of man has not yet come in this way, Christians have proposed a number of non-literal interpretations that avoid them. One is that "this generation" refers to the Jews as a people, regardless of when or where they live. Another is that "this generation" refers to the future generation of people that will be alive when v. 25-28 are fulfilled. Rather than spend time discussing interpretations of these kinds, the writer will, in the Notes that follow, simply point out and discuss examples of other texts in which Jesus uses phrases like "this generation", especially if he uses them in the same verse with words like "you" and "ye".
• To begin with, the three Synoptic Gospels make clear that the phrase "I say unto you, This generation shall" in v. 32 is one example of a type of phrase in which Jesus uses the word "generation" with words like "you" (or "ye"), "this" and "O" when directly addressing a group of people. Examples of other verses of this type include "Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you…" (Mark 8:12) and "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." (Matt 23:36). Examples of verses of this type that do not use the word "this" include "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?" (Matt. 12:34) and "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" (Matt. 17:17). An example of a verse of this type that does not use "you" or "ye" is Matt. 12:38-39, "Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;". From these examples, it seems reasonable to think that, when Jesus uses "generation" in these ways, he uses it as a non-repetitious substitute for the word "you" (or "ye") that tactfully leaves open to interpretation when he is speaking narrowly about all of the persons who are then physically present, and when he is speaking broadly about some, many or all of the persons who are alive at that time, but who may or may not be then physically present.
• In addition to including texts that use "generation" in the ways described in the previous Note, the Gospels include texts that use it in much the same way we use it today. Examples of texts of this kind include Matt. 1:17, "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations;" and Luke 1:50, "And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.". See also Luke 16:8-13/8, "...the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.". Surprisingly, however, the Gospel of John does not include any verses that use any form of the word "generation". For the sake of completeness, the writer will close his discussion of the meaning of the word "generation" by including examples of Old Testament verses that use it. Examples of this kind that are shown in one of the downloadable files listed under the "Old Testament Auxiliary Texts Files" heading of the Main Index page include: Judg. 2:6-10/10, "and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord,"; Ps. 102:13-28/18, "This shall be written for the generation to come:"; Is. 53:1-12/8, "and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living:" and Joel 3:9-21/20, "But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.".
• Interestingly, v. 32 uses many of the same words and phrases as v. 36 of Matt. 23:29-39 and has a similar overall structure. It is unclear, however, if and to what extent Jesus intended these verses to convey essentially similar ideas. The potential importance of this similarity is suggested by the possibility that the "all these things" that Jesus speaks of in v. 36 of Matt. 23:29-39 may include "the damnation of hell" that he speaks of in v. 33 of that text.
• The statement about the passing away of heaven and earth in v. 33 above is repeated, word for word, in v. 35 of Matt. 24:29-36 and v. 31 of Mark 13:24-32. This passing away seems to correspond to that mentioned in v. 25-26 of Ps. 102:13-28, v. 4 of Is. 34:1-12, v. 6 of Is. 51:1-11, v. 17 of Is. 65:6-25 and v. 22 of Is. 66:15-24. Interestingly, the two last-cited verses from Isaiah speak about new heavens and a new earth. It is possible that this "new earth" is what Jesus had in mind when he spoke of "the world to come" in v. 32 of Matt. 12:31-32, v. 30 of Mark 10:28-31 and v. 30 of Luke 18:28-30, and of "the regeneration" in v. 28 of Matt. 18:27-30.
• V. 33 is the last verse in which the words of the Lukan discourse generally parallel those of the Markan discourse. One reason is that the closing verses of the Lukan discourse do not include a verse, like v. 32 of Mark 13:24-32, that describes Jesus saying that the day of the coming of the Son of man is known only to the Father. See also v. 36 of Matt. 24:29-36. Another is that the closing verses of the Lukan discourse describe Jesus saying things about the Son of man that he is not described as saying in the closing verses of the Markan discourse. See in this connection the Notes associated with v. 34 and 36 below. It is these differences which explain why the writer has kept the closing verses of the Lukan discourse (v. 25-37) together as parts of a single text, but separated the closing verses of the Markan discourse into two texts, Mark 13:24-32 and Mark 13:32-37.
• V. 33 is also the last verse in which the words of the Lukan discourse generally parallel those of the Matthean discourse. This is because v. 33 and its Matthean counterpart, v. 35 of Matt. 24:29-36, appear just before the points at which the Lukan and Matthean discourses begin to unfold very differently. Specifically, v. 33 appears just before the verses in which Luke describes Jesus warning his followers to be watchful (Luke 21:34 and 36), saying a few more things about "that day", i.e., the day when the Son of man comes, and then ending his discourse. V. 35 of Matt. 24:29-36, on the other hand, appears near the middle of the Matthean discourse, which describes Jesus going on to point out similarities between the coming of the Son of man and the days of Noe (v. 37-39 of Matt. 24:37-51), telling a long parable about wise and evil servants (v. 42-51 of Matt. 24:37-51), and continuing through all of chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew before ending his discourse.
• The warning in v. 34 above against being so preoccupied or drunk as to be unawares on "that day", i.e., the day when the Son of man comes, seems to roughly correspond to v. 48-50 of Matt. 24:37-51 of the Matthean discourse and to v. 45-46 of Luke 12:35-48. Other texts in which Jesus seems to use "that day" to refer to the day when the Son of man comes include Matt. 24:23-28/36 and 26:19-30/29; Mark 13:24-32/32 and 14:16-26/25; Luke 6:20-25/23 and 10:1-16/12; and John 16:19-28/23 and 26, among others.
• V. 34 and 36 above begin with almost the same words as v. 33 and 35, respectively, of Mark 13:32-37. Unlike the latter, however, v. 34 and 36 do not end with words which say that the time of the coming of that day (Mark 13:32-33) or of the time when the master of the house cometh (Mark 13:35) is unknown. Instead, after condemning surfeit (overindulgence) and drunkenness, v. 34-36 describe Jesus teaching that that day shall come as a snare on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth (v. 35), and that those present should watch and pray always that they may be accounted worthy to escape "all these things" that shall come to pass and "stand before the Son of man." (v. 36)..
• The coupling of the words "escape" and "all these things" in v. 36 suggests that these words refer to things Jesus speaks about in earlier verses, e.g., Luke 21:11 and v. 25-26 above. They may also refer to the fire and brimstone that Jesus says will rain down on and destroy people on "the day when the Son of man is revealed." (v. 28-30 of Luke 17:26-37 ).
• Although v. 37 is made up of words written by Luke, and not words spoken by Jesus, the writer includes it as a part of the Lukan discourse because it is a verse which suggests that this discourse is associated with the Mount of Olives.
In spite of the above-discussed similarities and differences between the End Times teachings of Jesus described in Luke 21:25-37 and those described in the most nearly similar Markan texts, Mark 13:24-32 and Mark 13:32-37, both of these sets of teachings appear at the ends of their respective discourses. As explained in connection with v. 33 above, the most nearly similar parts of the Matthean discourse appear near the middle of that discourse, which continues not only through the end of chapter 24 of the Gospel of Matthew, but also through all of chapter 25 of that Gospel.
Unfortunately,the Lukan discourse ends without describing a trial-like proceeding or judgment of the kind Jesus describes in the last part of the Matthean discourse, Matt. 25:31-46. In order to help readers understand how the things Jesus says in the latter text may affect and be affected by the most nearly similar things he says in the Gospel of Luke as a whole, the writer includes an extra set of Notes that discuss this subject. These Notes are included below as an Appendix.
The Lukan discourse ends with v. 25-37 above, without including an account of Jesus describing the Son of man (or King) presiding over a trial-like proceeding or judgment of the kind he describes in the last part of the Matthean discourse, Matt. 25:31-46. In fact, the Lukan discourse ends without describing Jesus using either the word "judge" or the word "judgment" even once, and leaves the association of the coming of the Son of man with an End Time Judgment to be inferred from the things he teaches about these being the days of vengeance (v. 22) and being worthy to stand before the Son of man (v. 36). The Gospel of Luke as a whole, on the other hand, includes a number of texts that describe End Times teachings of Jesus about the judgment as such. See, for example, Jesus' use of the words "that day" and "the judgment" in v. 12 and 14 of Luke 10:1-16 and "the judgment" in Luke 11:29-32. See also the things Jesus says about judges or the judgment in general in Luke 9:25-26, Luke 12:8-9, Luke 12:58-59, Luke 19:22-27 and Luke 22:28-30. Because these and other texts are discussed at length in a special set of Notes titled "Notes on Everlasting Punishment" that appears at the end of the Matthean End Time Discourse Texts file, Matt. 25:31-46, the writer will here simply repeat some of the most important points discussed in that set of Notes.
In Matt. 25:31-46, Jesus describes the Son of man (or King) separating the people he sets on his right hand from those he sets on his left by applying the criterion of whether they received and helped him or "the least of these my brethren" (v. 40), or "the least of these" (v. 45). The importance of this criterion is confirmed by its similarity to the one that Jesus describes in several different ways (e.g., receive, hear, take in, etc.) in Matt. 10:5-42, Mark 6:7-13 and Luke 9:1-6, Matthew's, Mark's and Luke's accounts of the sending out of the twelve, and in Luke 10:1-16, Luke's account of the sending out of the seventy. The importance of this criterion is also indicated by texts which suggest dire consequences for people who disparage or deny belief in him, e.g., who do not confess him, who deny him, or who are ashamed of him. See, for example, Matt. 10:32-33, Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26 and Luke 12:8-9. See also, however, Matt. 11:20-24, Mark 1:14-15 and Luke 11:29-32, all of which seem to describe Jesus teaching that belief in the gospel and/or repentance are the main criteria by which people will be judged.
While the above-mentioned texts use a variety of different words to describe the criteria used to judge people, all of them seem to involve, in one way or another, the idea of whether they believe the things that Jesus and his followers preached. The idea that belief is an important judgment criterion is confirmed by the things Jesus says in Matt. 18:6, Mark 9:42, Mark 16:16 and Luke 8:12, and in numerous texts in the Gospel of John. See, for example, v. 15-16 and 18 of John 3:13-18; v. 35-36 of John 3:31-36; v. 47 and 58 of John 6:47-58; v. 25 of John 11:21-27 and John 12:44-50, among others. Since believing a person and being willing to help him normally go together, the writer believes it would be repetitious to discuss them separately. Accordingly, he will treat them as different aspects of a single judgment criterion, for present purposes, and refer to them collectively as the "belief-help criterion".
In spite of the importance of the belief-help criterion, Jesus elsewhere mentions many other criteria that also seem to be important to the judgment. See, for example, the righteousness he mentions in Matt. 5:17-20/20, the keeping of the commandments he mentions in Luke 18:18-27/18-20, the love of God he mentions in Luke 10:25-28, the giving to the poor he mentions in Mark 10:17-27/21 and Luke 18:18-27/22, the avoidance of iniquity (or wickedness) he mentions in Matt. 13:36-43/41 and 13:47-50/49, and the forgiveness of one another he mentions in Mark 11:25-26 and Luke 6:35-42/37, among others. Unfortunately, Jesus does not rank these criteria in the order of their importance or otherwise make clear how they are related to the belief-help criterion. In other words, Jesus does not make clear which of these criteria, if any, are so important that meeting them alone is enough for a person to be judged favorably, or whether a person must meet them all. Ominously, the possibility that people must meet all of these criteria is suggested by the fact that Matt. 5:48 and in v. 21 of Matt. 19:16-26, both describe him encouraging people to be "perfect".
V. 25-37 also end the Lukan discourse without describing Jesus saying anything that helps resolve the question of whether people who are judged unfavorably on the Day of Judgment are condemned to a punishment by fire that ends with their complete destruction or to a punishment by fire that lasts forever. Compare, for example, the destruction that Jesus speaks about in v. 27 and 29 of Luke 17:26-37 and the Sodom-like fates that he speaks about in Luke 10:1-16/12, Matt. 10:5-23/15 and Mark 6:7-13/11 with the everlasting punishment that he speaks about in v. 46 of Matt. 25:31-46, the first and only verse in the KJV Bible that uses the words "everlasting punishment" as such. See also, however, v. 44, 46 and 48 of Mark 9:41-48 and the Notes discussing the meaning of Is. 66:15-24 included therewith. Because the importance of the difference between these fates is impossible to overstate, the writer discusses this difference at length in a special set of Notes titled "Notes on Everlasting Punishment" that is included both as an Appendix to the Matthean End Time Discourse Texts file and as stand-alone documents on the Home and Table of contents pages of this website. Accordingly, the writer will not say anything more about this difference here.
One possible explanation for the fact that Jesus ends his Lukan discourse without describing a judgment of the kind described in the last part of the Matthean discourse (Matt. 25:31-46) is that Jesus thought that the Son of man would come, not to make decisions about the fates of the persons who stand before him, but rather to announce and put into effect decisions about their fates that have already been made. While this idea may seem strange to those who are used to thinking of the End Time Judgment as a trial-like hearing at which a person may present evidence and make arguments that support the outcome he wants, there is little reason to extend this idea to include God. This is because God, unlike any human judge, may be assumed to know all of the facts of each person's case and any arguments that he or any advocate or intercessor might make. This conclusion is confirmed by the fact that the last part of the Matthean discourse describes the King decreeing the fate of the blessed and the cursed (Matt. 25:34 and 41) before they say anything.
The above-described idea of the Judgment is confirmed by the fact that the Old Testament, the only part of the Bible that was generally regarded as Holy Scripture before the Gospels were written, includes many texts that describe God coming to earth to punish people, but portray Him as executing judgment(s) that have already been made, or simply as taking punitive actions that are described without using the word "judgment" as such. Examples of texts that describe God executing judgment include Ps. 9:13-18, Ps. 103:8-19, Ps. 146:1-10, Ezek. 5:7-15 and Mic. 7:8-10. Examples of texts that describe God taking punitive actions that are described without using the word "judgment" as such include Ps. 97:1-10, Is. 13:6-15, Joel 2:1-11, Zeph. 1:7-18 and Mal. 4:1-6.
Interestingly, while the Old Testament never uses the phrase "day of judgment" as such, it does often use phrases like the day of the Lord and the day of his anger to convey a generally similar idea, i.e., a time when God will come to earth in judgment to reward the righteous and punish the wicked. Unfortunately, while the similarities and differences between these and arguably synonymous phrases, such as the day of wrath and the day of vengeance are interesting, discussing them with the care they deserve is a task beyond the scope of this writing. Accordingly, the writer will here only cite typical examples of Old Testament texts of this kind, especially those that use words or phrases that Jesus quotes or seems to allude to. See, for example, Is. 2:10-22, Is. 13:6-15, Joel 2:1-11, Joel 2:28-32, Joel 3:9-21, Obad. 1:15-21, Zeph. 1:7-18, Zech. 14:1-11, Mal. 3:1-9 and Mal. 4:1-6.
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