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Ix. 19, 20. Ezek. xxxii. 7. Joel iii. 15. To the description in Matthew, Luke has added, ch. xxi. 25; there should be distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth.' All these are figures of great and terrible calamities. The roaring of the waves of the sea, denotes great tumult and affliction among the people. Perplexity means doubt, anxiety: not knowing what to do to escape. Men's hearts should fail them for fear, or by reason of fear. Their fears would be so great as to take away their courage and strength.
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
'The sign of the Son of man.' At the destruction of Jerusalem, the sign, or evidence of his coming, was found in the fulfilment of these predictions. At the end of the world, the sign of his coming will be his personal approach with the glory of his Father and the holy angels, 1 Thess. iv. 16. Luke xxi. 27. Matt. xxvi. 64. Acts i. 11. All the tribes of the earth mourn.' All the wicked shall mourn at the prospect of their doom, Rev. i. 7. The cause of their wailing at the day of judgment shall be that they have rejected the Saviour, and deserve the condemnation that is coming upon them, John xix. 37. Zech. xii. 10. And they shall see the Son of man.' The Lord Jesus coming to judgment.
In the clouds of heaven.' He ascended in a cloud, Acts i. 9. He shall return in like manner, Acts i. 11. 'The clouds of heaven denote not the clouds in heaven, but the clouds that appear to shut heaven, or the sky, from our view. With power.' Power, manifest by consuming the material world, 2 Pet. iii. 7, 10, 12; by raising the dead, John v. 29, 30. 1 Cor. xv. 52; by changing those who may be alive when he shall come; that is, making their bodies like those who have died, and been raised up, 1 Thess. iv. 17. 1 Cor. xv. 52; by bringing the affairs of the world to a close, receiving the righteous to heaven, Matt. xxv. 34. 1 Cor. xv. 57; and by sending the wicked, however numerous or however strong, down to hell, Matt. xxv. 41, 46. John v. 29. "Great glory.' The word, 'glory' here means the visible display of his honour and majesty, Matt. xxv. 31; xxvi. 64.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The word' angels,' most commonly refers to the race of intelligences more exalted than man, who are employed often in the work of man's rescue from ruin, and his salvation, Heb. i. 14. They will gather together the elect, at the day of judgment. "With a great sound of a trumpet.' The Jewish assemblies used to be called together by the sound of a trumpet, as ours are by bells, Lev. xxv. 9. Num. x. 2. Judges iii. 27. Our Saviour, speaking to Jews, described the assembling of the people at the last day, in a way which would be peculiarly clear and impressive to them. Similar language is often used, when speaking of the judgment, 1 Thess. iv. 16. 1 Cor. xv. 52. A trump, or trumpet, was a wind instrument, made at first of the horns of oxen, and afterwards of rams' horns, cut off at the smaller extremity. In some instances it was made of brass in the form of a horn. The common trumpet was straight, made of brass or silver, a cubit in length, the larger extremity shaped so as to resemble a small bell. In times of peace, in assembling the people, this was sounded softly. In times of calamity, or war, or any great commotion, it was sounded loud. Perhaps this was referred to when our Saviour said, 'with a great sound of a trumpet.' 'They shall gather together his elect.' See on ver. 22. The word means christians: the chosen of God. It implies, that he will send his angels to gather his chosen, his elect, together from all places, Matt. xiii. 39, 41-43. This shall be done before the living shall be changed, 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17. 'From the four winds. That is, from the four quarters of the globe: east, west, north, and south. The Jews expressed those quarters, by the winds blowing from them. See Ezek. xxxvii. 9. See also Isa. xliii. 5, 6. From one end of heaven,' &c. Mark says, xiii. 27, from the uttermost part of the earth, to the uttermost part of heaven. The expression denotes that they shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are scattered.
32 Now learn a parable of the fig-tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
'Now learn a parable.' See note, Matt. xiii. 3. The word here means, rather an illustration. Make a comparison, or judge of this as you do respecting a fig-tree. Fig-tree.' This was spoken on the mount of Olives, which produced not only olives, but figs. When his branch,' &c. When the juices return from the roots into the branches, and the buds swell and burst, as if tender, and too feeble to contain the pressing and expanding leaves. When you see that, you judge that spring and summer
In the same manner, when you see what I have predicted, the signs around Jerusalem, then know that its destruction is at hand. 'Is near.' Luke says, xxi. 23, that your redemption draweth nigh, and, xxi. 31, the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Your deliverance from the dangers that threaten the city approaches, and the kingdom of God will be set up in the earth.
31 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. This generation.' This age; this race of men. A generation is about thirty or forty years. The destruction of Jerusalem took place about forty years after this was spoken. See note, Matt. xvi. 28. Till all these things,' &c. Till these things shall receive a full accomplishment. He does not mean to exclude here the reference to the judgment, but to say that the destruction of Jerusalem would be such as to make the words of the prediction appropriate, were there nothing beyond. But there was a fulness of signification that would meet also the events of the judgment, the meaning of which would not be filled up till the world was closed.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
You may sooner expect to see the heaven and earth pass away and return to nothing, than my words to fail.
36¶ But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but my Father only
Of the precise time of the fulfilment. The general signs of its coming have been given; as the budding of the fig-tree is a certain indication that summer is near. But the precise time is not indicated by these things. Knoweth no man, no, not the angels,' &c. Mark adds, xiii. 32, 'neither the Son.' He was man as well as God. As man, possessed of a human soul, he must have the properties of a human soul, and, among the rest, limited knowledge. Thus it is said, he increased in wisdom, Luke ii. 52. As man, therefore, he might be ignorant of a future event, which his Father had not chosen to communicate to him. A passage of the same kind is found in John iii. 13: 'he that came down from heaven, the Son of man, who is in heaven.' In heaven, in regard to his Divine nature; on earth in his human nature. So in his Divine nature he knew the day and hour of the destruction of Jerusalem; in his human nature he was ignorant of it.
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Noe.' The Greek way of writing Noah. See Gen. vi. vii. viii. ix.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark.
It does not mean that these things were wrong, but only that such was their actual employment, and that they were regardless of what was coming upon them.
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
That is, they knew not the exact time, until it came upon them. 'So,' says he, it shall be when the Son of man shall come. They shall not know the precise time until he comes, and then they shall be found so engaged in the ordinary business of life as to be unconcerned about the Divine threatenings.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
'Then shall two be in the field,' &c. The calamity shall come suddenly. There shall be no escape for those whom it overtakes. 'One shall be taken.' The word 'taken' means to be taken away by death.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Grinding in the east was performed, as it is now, chiefly by hand. The mill-stones were about two feet in diameter, and half a foot in thickness. The lower one was fixed, and the upper one was turned by a handle, or crank. This was done by two persons, who sat opposite to each other. One took hold of the mill handle, and turned it half way round; the other then seized it, and completed the revolution. This was done by women; by servants of the lowest order; and was a very laborious employment. See Ex. xi. 5. Isa. xlvii. 2. Judges xvi. 21. The meaning of this verse is similar to the former. Of two persons sitting near to each other, one shall be taken, and the other left. The calamity would be sudden, and would come upon them before they were aware.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
"Watch.' Be looking for his coming. Watch the signs of his coming, and be ready.
43 But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he
would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
If a man knew the hour, or about the hour when a robber would come, he would be ready for him. So you know not the exact hour, but you know it is near, when the Son of man will come. He will come suddenly, as a thief comes, without giving previous warning, 1 Thess. v. 2. 2 Pet. iii. 10. Rev. iii. 3; xvi. 15. Good man.' See Matt. xx. 11. Thief.' A robber. The original word means one who does it by house-breaking, or by highway violence, Luke x. 30. 'Broken up.' Broken intoeither by the doors or windows. In what watch.' In which of the four quarters of the night. See note, Matt. xiv. 25.
44 Therefore be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Luke, xxi. 36, says that he charged them to pray always, that they might be accounted worthy to escape those things-the judgments coming upon the wicked; and to stand before the Son of man-that is, to stand there approved by him, or admitted to his favour. He also charged them, Luke xxi. 34, to take heed and not to suffer their hearts to be overcharged with surfeiting, or too much eating, or drunkenness, or the cares of this life, lest the day should come upon them unawares; things improper if there were no judgment-peculiarly mad and wicked when the judgment is near,
45 Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
This passage (ver. 45-51) is in fact a parable, though it is not expressly so called. The design is to show that his disciples should act as if they were each moment expecting his return. "Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant,' &c. By the conduct of a faithful and wise servant he intends to denote a faithful christian, a servant of God, or a teacher of religion. 'Whom his lord.' His master. Applied to christian teachers, in the spiritual meaning of the parable, it refers to Christ, who has appointed them as teachers, and who is their Lord and Master, John xiii. 13, 14. 'Over his household.' His family. Christian ministers are the servants of God appointed over the church, the family of Christ, 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. 1 Cor. iii. 5; iv. 1, 2; xii. 28. 'Meat in due season.' The word meat' here means all kinds of provisions requisite to support and nourish life. 'In due season.' At the proper time. As they need it, or in the accustomed times. This was the office of a steward. Applied to christian ministers, it means that they are to feed the flock of God, to minister to their wants, and to do it as they need it, John xxi. 15--17. Acts xx. 28.