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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
See this explained in the notes at Mark 12:41-44.
2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
3And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
4For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
Penury - Poverty. See this explained in the notes at Mark 12:41-44.
5And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
Goodly stones - Beautiful stones. Either referring to the large, square, and well-finished stones of which the eastern wall was built, or to the precious stones which might have been used in decorating the temple itself. See the notes at Mark 13:1.
Gifts - This word properly denotes anything devoted or dedicated to God. Anciently warriors dedicated to their gods the spoils of war - the shields, and helmets, and armor, and garments of those slain in battle. These were suspended in the temples. It would seem that something of this kind had occurred in the temple of Jerusalem, and that the people, to express their gratitude to God, had suspended on the pillars and perches of the temple gifts and offerings. Josephus mentions particularly a golden "vine" with which Herod the Great had adorned the columns of the temple ("Antiq." xiii. 8). See also 2 Macc. 5:16; 9:16.
6As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
See the notes at Matthew 24:2.
7And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
The account of the destruction of Jerusalem contained in this chapter has been fully considered in the notes at Matthew 24. All that will be necessary here will be an explanation of a few words that did not occur in that chapter.
8And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
9But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
Commotions - Insurrections. Subjects rising against their rulers.
10Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
11And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
Fearful sights - See Matthew 24:7.
12But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
Synagogues, and into prisons - See the notes at Mark 13:9-10.
13And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
14Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
Settle it, therefore, in your hearts - Fix it firmly in your minds - so firmly as to become a settled principle - that you are always to depend on God for aid in all your trials. See Mark 13:11.
15For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
A mouth - Eloquence, ability to speak as the case may demand. Compare Exodus 4:11.
Gainsay - Speak against. They will not be able to "reply" to it, or to "resist" the force of what you shall say.
16And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
17And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
18But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
A hair of your head perish - This is a proverbial expression, denoting that they should not suffer any essential injury. This was strikingly fulfilled in the fact that in the calamities of Jerusalem there is reason to believe that no Christian suffered. Before those calamities came on the city they had fled to "Pella," a city on the east of the Jordan. See the notes at Matthew 24:18.
19In your patience possess ye your souls.
In your patience - Rather by your perseverance. The word "patience" here means constancy or perseverance in sustaining afflictions.
Possess ye your souls - Some read here the "future" instead of the "present" of the verb rendered "possess." The word "possess" means here to "preserve" or keep, and the word "souls" means "lives." This passage may be thus translated: By persevering in bearing these trials you "will" save your lives, or you will be safe; or, by persevering "preserve" your lives; that is, do not yield to these calamities, but bear up under them, for he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved. Compare Matthew 24:13.
20And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
All things which are written may be fulfilled - Judgment had been threatened by almost all the prophets against that wicked city. They had spoken of its crimes and threatened its ruin. Once God had destroyed Jerusalem and carried the people to Babylon; but their crimes had been repeated when they returned, and God had again threatened their ruin. Particularly was this very destruction foretold by Daniel, Daniel 9:26-27; "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." See the notes at that passage.
23But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Shall fall ... - No less than one million one hundred thousand perished in the siege of Jerusalem.
Shall be led away captive - More than 90,000 were led into captivity. See the notes at Matthew 24.
Shall be trodden down by the Gentiles - Shall be in possession of the Gentiles, or be subject to them. The expression also implies that it would be an "oppressive" subjection, as when a captive in war is trodden down under the feet of the conqueror. Anciently conquerors "trod on" the necks of those who were subdued by them, Joshua 10:24; 2 Samuel 22:41; Ezekiel 21:29. The bondage of Jerusalem has been long and very oppressive. It was for a long time under the dominion of the Romans, then of the Saracens, and is now of the Turks, and is aptly represented by a captive stretched on the ground whose neck is "trodden" by the foot of the conqueror.
Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled - This passage has been understood very differently by different expositors. Some refer it to the time which the Romans who conquered it had dominion over it, as signifying that "they" should keep possession of it until a part of the pagans should be converged, when it should be rebuilt. Thus it was rebuilt by the Emperor Adrian. Others suppose that it refers to the end of the world, when all the Gentiles shall be converted, and they shall "cease" to be Gentiles by becoming Christians, meaning that it should "always" be desolate. Others, that Christ meant to say that in the times of the millennium, when the gospel should spread universally, he would reign personally on the earth, and that the "Jews" would return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. This is the opinion of the Jews and of many Christians. The meaning of the passage clearly is,
1. That Jerusalem would be completely destroyed.
2. That this would be done by Gentiles - that is, by the Roman armies.
3. That this desolation would continue as long as God should judge it proper in a fit manner to express his abhorrence of the crimes of the nation - that is, until the times allotted to "them" by God for this desolation should be accomplished, without specifying how long that would be, or what would occur to the city after that.
It "may" be rebuilt, and inhabited by converted Jews. Such a thing is "possible," and the Jews naturally seek that as their home; but whether this be so or not, the time when the "Gentiles," as such, shall have dominion over the city is limited. Like all other cities on the earth, it will yet be brought under the influence of the gospel, and will be inhabited by the true friends of God. Pagan, infidel, anti-Christian dominion shall cease there, and it will be again a place where God will be worshipped in sincerity - a place "even then" of special interest from the recollection of the events which have occurred there. "How long" it is to be before this occurs is known only to Him "who hath put the times and seasons in his own power," Acts 1:7.
25And 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;
See the notes at Matthew 24:29.
Upon the earth distress of nations - Some have proposed to render the word "earth" by "land," confining it to Judea. It often has this meaning, and there seems some propriety in so using it here. The word translated "distress" denotes anxiety of mind - such an anxiety as people have when they do not know what to do to free themselves from calamities; and it means here that the calamities would be so great and overwhelming that they would not know what to do to escape. There would be a want of counsel, and deep anxiety at the impending evils.
With perplexity - Rather "on account" of their perplexity, or the desperate state of their affairs. The Syriac has it, "perplexity or wringing of hands," which is a sign of deep distress and horror.
The sea and the waves roaring - This is not to be understood literally, but as an image of great distress. Probably it is designed to denote that these calamities would come upon them like a deluge. As when in a storm the ocean roars, and wave rolls on wave and dashes against the shore, and each succeeding surge is more violent than the one that preceded it, so would the calamities come upon Judea. They would roll over the whole land, and each wave of trouble would be more violent than the one that preceded it, until the whole country would be desolate. The same image is also used in Isaiah 8:7-8, and Revelation 18:15.
26Men'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.
Men's hearts failing them - This is an expression denoting the highest terror. The word rendered "failing" commonly denotes to "die," and here it means that the terror would be so great that people would faint and be ready to die in view of the approaching calamities. And if this was true in respect to the judgments about to come upon Judea, how much more so will it be in the day of judgment, when the wicked will be arraigned before the Son of God, and when they shall have before them the prospect of the awful sufferings of hell - the pains and woes which shall continue forever! It will be no wonder, then, if they call on the rocks and mountains to hide them from the face of God, and if their hearts sink within them at the prospect of eternal suffering.
27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Your redemption draweth nigh - See the notes at Matthew 24:33. This is expressed in Luke 21:31 thus: "the kingdom of God is nigh at hand" - that is, from that time God will signally build up his kingdom. It shall be fully established when the Jewish policy shall come to an end; when the temple shall be destroyed, and the Jews scattered abroad. Then the power of the Jews shall be at an end; they shall no longer be able to persecute you, and you shall be completely delivered from all these trials and calamities in Judea.
29And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
34And 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.
Lest at any time your hearts be overcharged ... - The meaning of this verse is, "Be continually expecting these things. Do not forget them, and do not be "secure" and satisfied with this life and the good things which it furnishes. Do not suffer yourselves to be drawn into the fashions of the world; to be conformed to its customs; to partake of its feasts and revelry; and so these calamities shall come upon you when you least expect them." And from this we may learn - what alas! we may from the "lives" of many professing Christians - that there is need of cautioning the disciples of Jesus now that they do not indulge in the festivities of this life, and "forget" that they are to die and come to judgment. How many, alas! who bear the Christian name, have forgotten this caution of the Saviour, and live as if their lives were secure; as if they feared not death; as if there were no heaven and no judgment! Christians should feel that they are soon to die, and that their portion is not in this life; and, feeling this, they should be "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God."
Overcharged - Literally, "be made heavy," as is the case with those who have eaten and drunken too much.
Surfeiting - Excessive eating and drinking, so as to oppress the body; indulgence in the pleasures of the table. This word does not include "intoxication," but merely indulgence in food and drink, though the food and drink should be in themselves lawful.
Drunkenness - Intoxication, intemperance in drinking. The ancients were not acquainted with the poison that we chiefly use on which to become drunk. They had no distilled spirits. They became intoxicated on wine, and strong drink made of a mixture of dates, honey, etc. All nations have contrived some way to become intoxicated - to bring in folly, and disease, and poverty, and death, by drunkenness; and in nothing is the depravity of men more manifest than in thus endeavoring to hasten the ravages of crime and death.
35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
As a snare - In Matthew and Mark Jesus compares the suddenness with which these calamities would come to the deluge coming in the days of Noah. Here he likens it to a snare. Birds are caught by a snare or net. It is sprung on them quickly, and when they are not expecting it. So, says he, shall these troubles come upon Judea. The figure is often used to denote the suddenness of calamities, Psalm 69:22; Romans 11:9; Psalm 124:7; Isaiah 24:17.
36Watch 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.
To stand before the Son of man - These approaching calamities are represented as the "coming of the Son of man" to judge Jerusalem for its crimes. Its inhabitants were so wicked that they were not worthy to stand before him and would be condemned, and the city would be overthrown. To "stand before him" here denotes approbation, acquittal, favor, and is equivalent to saying that "they" would be free from these calamities, while they should come upon others. See Romans 14:4; Psalm 1:5; Psalm 130:3; Revelation 6:17. Perhaps, also, there is a reference here to the day of judgment. See the notes at Matthew 24.
37And 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.
See the notes at Matthew 21:17.
Came early in the morning - He returned early from the Mount of Olives, and taught in the temple. Our Saviour did not waste his mornings in idleness or sleep. He rose early and repaired to the temple. The people, also, flocked to the sanctuary to hear him. This example is at once an encouragement to early rising and to the early worship of God. It is a reproof of those who spend the part of the day best fitted for devotion in unnecessary sleep; and it shows the propriety, where it can be done, of assembling early in the morning for prayer and the worship of God. Early prayer-meetings have the countenance of the Saviour, and will be found to be eminently conducive to the promotion of religion. The whole example of Jesus goes to show the importance of beginning the day with God, and of lifting up the heart to him for direction, for the supply of our wants, and for preservation from temptation, before the mind is engrossed by the cares, and distracted by the perplexities, and led away by the temptations of this life. Commencing the day with God is like arresting evil at the fountain; prayer at any other time, without this, is an attempt to arrest it when it has swollen to a stream and rolls on like a torrent. Let the day be begun with God, and the work of piety is easy. Let the world have the ascendency in the morning, and it will be likely to have it also at noonday and at evening.
38And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.