This is Part 2 of 2 of the Lukan End Time Discourse page of the End Time 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 is the proper interpretation or true meaning of the words 'this generation' in prophecies of Jesus that use these words, e.g. Luke 21:32, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled."
Surprisingly, the Lukan End Time discourse as a whole is much shorter than the Matthean End Time discourse as a whole. In fact, Parts 1 and 2 of the Lukan discourse together roughly correspond to only Part 1 of the Matthean discourse. The main reason for this difference is that the Matthean discourse ends with a lengthy description of the teachings of Jesus about the Day of Judgment (a.k.a. the Last Judgment or End Time Judgment) while the Lukan discourse does not. The writer discusses the significance of this difference in Appendices titled "Comparative Notes on the End Time Judgment" that he includes both at the end of this web page and at the end of the complete PDF version of the Lukan discourse. Also of interest in this connection are discussions of the meaning of everlasting punishment that appear in sets of Notes titled "Notes on Everlasting Punishment" that he includes on the Home and Table of Contents pages 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 text, Mark 13:24-37, both of these sets of teachings appear at the ends of their respective discourses. As explained in connection with Luke 21:33 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, this results in a situation in which neither the Lukan nor the Markan discourse includes a description of the trial-like Judgment proceeding Matthew describes at the end of Part 2 of his End Time discourse, i.e., in Matt. 25-31-46. This is unfortunate because the latter describes Jesus teaching things about the End Time Judgment that are of great doctrinal importance for Christians.
Among the most important of the specific things that Matt. 25:31-46 describes Jesus teaching about the End Time Judgment are: (1) the criteria that the Son of man (or King) will use to explain why some persons are saved and rewarded while others are condemned and punished, (2) the rewards and punishments that these persons will experience and the places where they will experience them, and (3) the fact that these rewards and punishments will be everlasting (eternal in the NRSV). In order to help readers better understand these teachings, the writer will discuss them in greater detail, and put them in their proper context by including discussions of how they compare with the most nearly similar teachings of Jesus that are described in the Gospels of Luke and Mark. To do this the writer includes two sets of Notes that discuss these teachings. One is a general set of Notes that the writer includes below as the Appendix titled "Comparative Notes on the End Time Judgment". The other is a more specific set of Notes that he includes as a similarly named Appendix to the PDF version of this discourse document.
In this set of Notes the writer will further discuss the End Times teachings of Jesus that Matthew describes in the trial-like Judgment proceeding he includes at the end of Part 2 of his End Time discourse, Matt. 25:31-46. As he does this, he will try to put these teachings in their proper context by discussing how they compare with the most nearly similar teachings of Jesus that are described in other discourses or in other parts of the Gospels Luke and Mark.
Turning first to the question of the criteria that the Son of man (or King) will use to explain why some persons are saved and rewarded while others are condemned and punished, Matt. 25:31-46 describes him 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 confirmed by texts which suggest dire consequences for persons 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. Whether the phrases "the least of these" and "the least of these my brethren" should be understood as applying only to followers of Jesus, or to all of a person's fellow men is a debatable question that the writer will not discuss here.
The Gospel of Luke describes Jesus finishing his End Time discourse without describing him saying anything about the Son of man (or King) presiding over a Judgment proceeding of the kind Matthew describes in Matt. 25:31-46. In fact, Luke describes Jesus finishing this discourse without describing him using words like "judge" or "judgment" as such, 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 does, however, include a number of texts that describe Jesus referring to or saying things about the Judgment in general. 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 this Gospel describes Jesus saying 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. Thus, the Gospel of Luke describes Jesus saying things about the Judgment which may be consistent with the things Matthew describes him saying about it in Matt. 25:31-46, but does not clearly or strongly support those things.
The Gospel of Mark also describes Jesus finishing his End Time discourse without describing him saying anything about the Son of man (or King) presiding over a Judgment proceeding of the kind Matthew describes in Matt. 25:31-46. This Gospel does, however, include one verse that describes Jesus referring to the Day of Judgment as such, Mark 6:11. It also includes three pairs of verses (Mark 9:43-44, 45-46 and 47-48) which describe Jesus speaking about persons who go or are cast into hell or hell fire because they offended "these little ones that believe in me" (Mark 9:42). Even these verses, however, do not say that these fates are the outcomes of a Judgment proceeding, like Matt. 25:31-46 does, and do not specify either who these little ones are, or the kinds of things that offended them. It therefore seems reasonable to think that, while Mark describes Jesus saying things about the Judgment that may be consistent with the things Matthew describes him saying about it in Matt. 25:31-46, Mark does not clearly or strongly support those things.
Turning next to the question of the rewards and punishments that will be decreed for people at the Judgment, and the places where these things will be experienced, Matt. 25:31-46 describes Jesus saying that the blessed will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world (v. 34), and that the cursed will depart into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (v. 41). Curiously, however, the Matthean discourse does not describe Jesus using the words "heaven" and "hell" to describe these places, or saying where they are located. In spite of this, the idea that Jesus had hell in mind when he spoke about everlasting fire is suggested by the fact that Matt. 18:8-9 uses the phrases 'everlasting fire' and 'hell fire' interchangeably. In addition, the idea that Jesus had an earthly kingdom in mind for the blessed is suggested by the fact that the Old Testament often uses words like "inheritance" and "inherit" to refer to the land of Israel. Finally, the fact that v. 41 describes Jesus speaking about a fire prepared for "the devil and his angels" suggests that his ideas on this subject may have been based in part on a non-canonical work that is now commonly known as 1Enoch. This is because a part of that work called "The Similitudes (or Parables) of Enoch" tells the story of a group of angels who rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven into a valley of fire below the surface of the earth.
In the Lukan discourse Luke does not describe Jesus saying things about rewards and punishments of the kind Matthew describes him saying in Matt. 25:31-46. It does, however, describe him saying that the coming of the Son of man will be associated with redemption (v. 28) and with the kingdom of God (v. 31). This does not, however change the fact that this discourse says nothing about a punishment that involves evildoers being sent into a fire prepared for the devil and his angels. On the other hand, the Gospel of Luke as a whole does include a text, Luke 16:19-31, that describes Jesus telling the story of a place of torment by fire called hell (Hades in the NRSV) in which a rich man suffers for the things he did during life, and a place described as 'Abraham's bosom' where a virtuous poor man named Lazarus enjoys an afterlife reward. In spite of the presence of certain common story elements, however, the things Jesus teaches in this story are not consistent with the things he teaches in Matt. 25:31-46. One reason is that Luke's story involves a situation that exists before the time of the End Time Judgment, something which is suggested by the fact that this story is set in a time when the rich man's brothers are still alive and engaged in their normal activities. Another is that this story describes the 'hearing' Moses and the prophets (v. 29), rather than the helping of even the least of the brethren of Jesus, as the way to avoid going to this place of torment (v. 28). Thus, neither the Lukan discourse nor the Gospel of Luke as a whole supports the things Matthew describes Jesus saying about End Time rewards and punishments in Matt. 25:31-46.
The Markan discourse also fails to describe Jesus saying anything about End Time rewards and punishments of the kind he describes at the end of the Matthean discourse. Instead, it simply describes Jesus saying that the Son of man will send his angels to gather his elect from the uttermost parts of earth and heaven (v. 26-27), and then telling a version of the Parable of the Fig Tree (v. 28-29) that is similar to the one he tells in Luke, except that it does not use the term Kingdom of God as such. In addition, although Mark 9:41-49 of the Gospel of Mark as a whole portrays Jesus describing a reward for those who help others in his name (v. 41), and the punishment of being cast into hell or hell fire for those who offend "these little ones who believe in me" (v. 42) or whose eyes, hands, etc. offend them (v. 43, 45 and 47), this text says nothing about these things happening to massive numbers of people who are gathered together at an End Time Judgment, or about their being sent from there into an everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Thus, neither the Markan discourse nor the Gospel of Mark as a whole provides clear or substantial support for the things Matthew describes Jesus saying about End Time rewards and punishments in Matt. 25:31-46.
Turning lastly to the question of the duration of the punishment described at the end of the Matthean discourse, Matt. 25:46 portrays Jesus describing it as an everlasting punishment (eternal punishment in the NRSV). This is important because, depending on how the word 'everlasting' is interpreted, it can mean either a punishment that continues without end for all eternity, or a punishment that continues for a long period of time and then ends, presumably with a person's complete redemption or with his final and utter destruction. The answer to this question is no simple matter. One reason is that the canonical books of the KJV Old Testament provide little basis for the idea of punishment as an ongoing process that continues without end forever. In it, God is typically described as punishing transgressors WITH death, not AFTER death, although he is sometimes described as showing an ongoing hostility toward some transgressors by taking actions that show contempt for their dead bodies --- as in Is. 66:24 perhaps? Additional information on this subject may be found in the web page and PDF versions of the documents titled "Notes on Everlasting Punishment".
Another reason that the answer to the above question is not simple is that, in the KJV New Testament, the word everlasting is used to translate forms of the Greek word "aion", a word that means an 'age'. One problem with this word is that it is highly ambiguous, and can mean any long period of time, a time that is immeasurably or indefinitely long, or even a time that is infinitely long. As a result, scholars can make plausible arguments in favor of either of the earlier-mentioned meanings of everlasting punishment and, in the process, wittingly or unwittingly give it the meaning that best suits their personal or institutional interests. Another is that the Bible often uses the word everlasting in figurative and hyperbolic senses that have little to do with senses in which it means an infinitely long or endless expanse of time. Still another is that, in the KJV Old Testament, the word everlasting is also used to translate a variety of Hebrew words that have different meanings. More information about all of these meanings may be found in the PDF document titled "Senses of the Word Everlasting" that appears on the Home and Table of Contents pages of this website.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is described as finishing his End Time discourse without saying anything about a Judgment at which final rewards and punishments will be decreed, or about the durations of any final punishments. In addition, although the Gospel of Luke as a whole describes Jesus telling the story of the afterlife (but pre-End Time) torment of a rich man by fire in Luke 16:19-31, it does not describe him saying anything about how long this torment will continue. The idea that there is some limit to the duration of an afterlife punishment is, however, suggested by the fact that Luke 12:54-59 describes Jesus speaking about a person who is cast into prison and kept there until he has "...paid the very last mite." (v. 59). The idea of an afterlife punishment of limited duration is also suggested by Matt. 5:21-26, which describes Jesus speaking about a person who is cast into prison and cannot come out until he has "...paid the uttermost farthing." (v. 26). Together, these facts suggest that neither the Lukan discourse nor the Gospel of Luke as a whole clearly or convincingly supports the idea of an End Time Judgment at which some people will be condemned to a punishment by fire that will continue without end forever.
Similarly, the Gospel of Mark describes Jesus finishing his End Time discourse without saying anything about a Judgment at which final rewards and punishments will be decreed, or about the durations of any final punishments. In addition, although the Gospel of Mark as a whole includes a text (Mark 9:41-48) that describes Jesus repeatedly stating that some people will be cast into a place called hell where there is a fire that shall never be quenched (v. 43, 45 and 47), it also portrays him repeatedly supporting this idea with identical quotations from Is. 66:24. Suspiciously, however, Mark describes Jesus not including in these quotations the part of Is. 66:24 which makes clear that this verse speaks about the carcases (i.e., the dead bodies) of transgressors. In any case, there is nothing about a fire that is unquenchable which requires one to conclude that persons cast into it will not eventually be reduced to ashes. Finally, although Mark 3:29 (and only Mark) uses the words 'eternal damnation', there is nothing in his Gospel which requires readers to think that the word 'damnation' means anything more than being worthy of condemnation or contempt, or that it can be used as a synonym for words that convey the idea of a person's punishment in hell or with hell fire. Together, these facts suggest that neither the Markan discourse nor the Gospel of Mark as a whole clearly or convincingly supports the idea of an End Time Judgment at which some people will be condemned to a punishment by fire that continues without end forever.
Importantly, the foregoing discussions of Luke's and Mark's ideas about the durations of End Time punishments seem to be compatible with two not yet mentioned New Testament texts which describe teachings of Jesus about the coming of the Son of man. One of these, Matt. 24:37-39, appears at the beginning of Part 2 of the Matthean discourse, and portrays Jesus describing the events associated with this coming as like those of the days of Noe, a.k.a. Noah (v. 37 and 39), namely, with worldwide death and destruction. The other, Luke 17:26-31, appears before the Lukan discourse, and portrays Jesus saying things similar to the things he says in Matt. 24:37-39, except that Luke's version describes him expanding his description to include the destruction of Sodom by fire and brimstone (v. 29). Because these texts raise issues that would take a considerable amount of time to discuss in depth, however, the writer will not discuss them further here, except to say that they illustrate his earlier statement that the Old Testament typically describes God punishing transgressors WITH death, rather than AFTER death.
Additional information about the three End Time discourses, and how these affect what it is reasonable to believe about the End Time Judgment, is included in the Appendices titled "Comparative Notes on the End Time Judgment" that the writer includes at the ends of the PDF versions of the Markan and Lukan End Time Discourse files.
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