Luk 21:12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons, dragging you before kings and governors, for my name's sake.
Before all these things. The words are a reference to what Jesus has just said; i.e., his warning regarding false Messiahs and his prediction of disasters (Lk 21:6-11).
They will lay their hands upon you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons.... These words recall Lk 12:11-12 and, as a consequence, their broader context (Lk 12). The allusion to Luke 12 reminds the reader that one is to avoid hypocrisy brought about by fear (Lk 12:1-3); especially a fear of persecution and death (Lk 12:4-12); a fear of losing ones possession due to legal judgments imposed as a form of persecution (Lk 12:13-21), and anxiousness about how one will survive if this happens (Lk 12:22-34).
The words lay their hands upon you will be used in Luke's second volume, Acts of Apostles, in reference to the persecutions here predicted (see Acts 4:3; 5:18). See also: persecution in Acts 9:4; 22:4. Synagogues in Acts 9:2, 26:11. Prisons in Acts 5:19; 8:3; 12:4; 16:23.
Dragging you before kings and governors (ηγεμονος). This is the danger Jesus faced when men tried to entrap him (Lk 20:20). The Greek word here translated as dragging (απαγομενους) will reappear in Lk 22:54 when Jesus is arrested (ηγαγον). Both words are from the Greek root ἄγω (lead, bring, drive, etc.). His being dragged away led to his appearing before King Herod (Lk 23:6-12), and Pilate, the Governor. See Lk 23:1-5, 13-25. The followers of Jesus will have to endure what he did, facing kings (Acts 12:1; 25:13) and governors (Acts 23:24; 26:30).
For my name's sake. Concerning suffering for the sake of Christ's name see Lk 6:22; Acts 4:7-18; 5:28, 40.
Luk 21:13 And it shall happen unto you for a testimony.
What is to befall the followers of Jesus is to be an opportunity to witness. In Acts of Apostles the act of witnessing both leads to persecution and the persecution becomes an opportunity for further witnessing (read Acts 3-5 and note especially Acts 3:15, 4:33; 5:32). See St Paul's attitude in the face of persecution and imprisonment in Philippians 1:12-18. See also Acts 16:25-32; Eph 3:1-13; Eph 6:18-20; 2 Tim 2:8-10.
Luk 21:14 Lay it up therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before how you shall answer:
Luk 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay.
Lay it up therefore in your hearts. Dragged before human courts, before human judges, they are themselves not to rely on human means when it comes to witnessing to the Gospel. Jesus will himself supply them with what they are to say (I will give you a mouth), and with a wisdom which their adversaries will not be able to resist or gainsay. He is here speaking about the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Lk 12:11-12). See the promise God makes regarding Moses and Aaron in Exodus 4:15. Stephen experienced such help (Acts 6:9-10). Boldness in the face of opposition and hostility thus becomes a trademark of the early disciples (Acts 4:8-13; Acts 4:23-31). This is part of the fulfillment of prophecy celebrated by Zachariah, the father of the Baptist (Lk 1:68-73).
Luk 21:16 And you shall be betrayed by your parents and brethren and kinsmen and friends: and some of you they will put to death.
How many pressures do Christians face today from family and friends because they will not cater to their views regarding politics and moral issues such as the intrinsic value of all human life, euthanasia, abortion, sex, marriage, contraception, etc. Judas was an apostle of Christ; Brutus was a friend of Caesar; Absalom was David's son; Benedict Arnold was a general in the Continental Army. Historically, all these have been reprehended and loathed, even by those they sided with (e.g., Arnold died in Britain alone and virtually friendless; and see the priests response to Judas in Mt 27:3-10). Today, however, Catholic politicians and news-mongers who distort, deny, obfuscate the truths of the faith and encourage others to do so are honored for having concocted a Jesus according to their own imagination and liking! A Jesus that does their bidding, and this will be the end result: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God (Jn 16:2).
Luk 21:17 And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake.
The phrase for my name's sake recalls verse 12, where I noted: Concerning suffering for the sake of Christ's name see Lk 6:22; Acts 4:7-18; 5:28, 40.
Luk 21:18 But a hair of your head shall not perish.
Luk 21:19 In your patience you shall possess your souls.
The phrase is used in Scripture to indicate that God protects his own; see 1 Sam 14:45; Lk 12:7. See also 2 Sam 14:11 and 1 Kings 1:52 where the phrase is used as an oath of protection. Like other statement in the today's reading this one echoes back to Lk 12. Christians are to maintain courage under persecution because of the great value their creator places upon them. This should lead to the patience required and spoken of in the next verse. What is promised here is not preservation from persecution and death-that would contradict what has just been said-rather, the promise here refers to eternal life: you shall possess your souls. The use of the word posses in relation to souls recalls Jesus' teaching regarding what is of most value to those wishing to follow him (Lk 9:24-25; 12:15, 33-34; 14:33; 18:29).
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