Luke 21:20-24

In Luke 20:20-24, Luke communicates Jesus’ prophecy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem:

Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἰερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς. τότε οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ φευγέτωσαν εἰς τὰ ὄρη καὶ οἱ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῆς ἐκχωρείτωσαν καὶ οἱ ἐν ταῖς χώραις μὴ εἰσερχέσθωσαν εἰς αὐτήν, ὅτι ἡμέραι ἐκδικήσεως αὗταί εἰσιν τοῦ πλησθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα. οὐαὶ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις· ἔσται γὰρ ἀνάγκη μεγάλη ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὀργὴ τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ, καὶ πεσοῦνται στόματι μαχαίρης καὶ αἰχμαλωτισθήσονται εἰς τὰ ἔθνη πάντα, καὶ Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν, ἄχρι οὗ πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν.

  • The phrase “οἱ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῆς ἐκχωρείτωσαν”, literaly “the/those in the midst of her must depart” is considered a reference back to Jerusalem. NASB reflects the sense of “in the midst” well. NIV simply translates “those in the city get out”
  • One 5th century greek manuscript D (Codex Bezae) and a handful of 6th-9th century latin manuscripts) suggest “thse in the midst of her must not depart”. Oddly Metzger and Comfort textual commentaries decline to comment on this. It is simply considered an unsubstantial/unsupported variant. It is unclear how such a variant would have arisen.

Theological application

Commentators on this passage largely assume that Luke has copied from a source, and that it is different to the sources for the other Gospels. However they dont appear to substantiate reasons for this, aside from perhaps a belief that the date when this text was written requried using written text to compose the letter. Not that a commentator would say this, it is clear some commentators suppose “the prophecy is so accurate that it must of course have been written after the event”. The reader of a commentary must learn to question why the author is making these assumptions, especially when there is a lack of substatiation of an opinion. The truth however, is that Jesus was able to successfully warn and prophesy about upcoming events, this text remains evidence of Jesus’ abilty to allow the divine to speak through him to the nascent church.