vv. 1-6 — About true giving and the destruction of the 2nd Hebrew Temple (fulfilled 70 A.D.)
vv. 7-9 — Jesus answers the Disciples’ request for the signs of the 2nd Temple’s destruction with a description of “things that must first take place,” and that, ‘the end does not follow immediately (after the “first things”). The ‘things that must first take place’ are the wars of the Jews, circa 70 A.D. and the destruction of the 2nd Temple. Jesus also states the Disciples should not be misled by false Christs and by claims that “the time” (of the Kingdom’s establishment) is near. [The Disciples erroneously looked for an immediate establishment of Christ’s Kingdom up until the time of his post-resurrection 40 days and Pentecost; BUT after the Spirit did come (Acts 1-2) and helped the Apostles understanding, they all looked toward an imminent “gathering together” (i.e. rapture). They no longer looked toward an imminent establishment of the Kingdom.] What Christ clearly teaches is THERE IS A TIME PERIOD BETWEEN THE DESTRUCTION OF THE 2ND TEMPLE AND THE END.
vv. 10-11 — Jesus describes the signs of “THE END” and prefaces it by saying, “Then…” (or, “at that time”).
vv. 12-19 — Jesus describes THE PERIOD BEFORE THE END. Our Lord regresses from digression in discourse by saying, “But before all these things [ref. signs of the end, vv. 10-11].” This is what the Disciples and the CHURCH AGE Saints can expect. Verse 19 reminds readers of Luke 9:24, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” This is Christ’s promise of reward for martyrs during the Church age. See also Matthew 10:39; 16:25.
vv. 20-24 — Jesus moves back to describing the (then) future course of the Hebrew nation. Jesus foretells THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE (v. 22), which is from the time of the Jewish Revolt (66 A.D.) to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple under the Roman Emperor, Titus (70 A.D.). Just as Jesus warned those who mournfully watched his death march on the day of His crucifixion (Luke 23:26-31) of “The Days of Vengeance,” he warns his Disciples… who later experienced the dispersion from Jerusalem,… of which Peter, Paul and Jude all write. The time period from the destruction of Jerusalem to the time of the end is called the TIMES OF THE GENTILES (see also Romans 11:25), which is simultaneous and synonymous with ’The Period Before the End.”
vv. 25-36 — Jesus describes the “SIGNS OF THE END OF ‘THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES’”… which is synonymous with “The End” (vv. 10-11). The “great signs in heaven” mentioned in v.11 are expounded here in v. 25; and there are more signs. The end of the Times of the Gentiles will be a process. It will be the same as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, (a.k.a. The Great Tribulation Period, The Apocalypse). At verse 27, Jesus says, “Then…” as a marker of discourse, revealing what will be the very end of the “End of the Times of the Gentiles.” When Christ appears in a cloud with power and great glory, the end of the End of the Times of the Gentiles will be marked. “But, when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” Christ adds. So, Jesus unequivocally states that the End of the Times of the Gentiles will have a beginning, a middle and an end. He gives us the signs of its beginning and of its end.
How can someone know that the Kingdom of God is near? Look for “these things” (vv. 25-26) to happen [after the other things have happened]. It is as dependable as knowing that summer is near when the fig trees start putting out leaves. In other words, it will be like clockwork…tick…tick…tick.
The context of Luke 21:36 is Jesus’ address to his Disciples about the (then) future course of Jerusalem and the Jewish people… about what the Jewish people (as an ethnicity and political nation) can expect near to the time of the Son of Man’s return to establish His (Hebrew) Kingdom. The reader may know Jesus addresses the Hebrew nation, since these verses follow his prediction of the Destruction of the Temple and Fall of Jerusalem (70 A.D.)—an event which has put Jerusalem into the hands of Gentile nations even until now, as it will be until the end of the Time of the Gentiles. Thus, Christ is prophetically describing the future path of the Hebrew people as an ethnically homogenous political entity among the other nations. [vv. 20-24]
In verses 25-36, Christ continues to speak to the Hebrew nation as a whole, which disbelieved Him as their Messiah. “This [perpetuated] generation” [of disbelieving Jews] will not pass away—giving way to believing Israel (Rom. 11)—until ALL the Tribulations of Jacob’s Trouble have taken place (v. 32). So, in verse 34, Jesus prophetically warns the ethnic Jews to ‘be on guard, so you don’t get drunk & depressed in the cares for life beyond hope’ [imp. for a true Messiah] when “That Day” (Day of the Lord) falls on the Jewish ethnic people like a trap… (allusion to the trick of the Anti-Christ prince). Instead, the ethnic Jews who find themselves in the worst (2nd half) of the 7 year span of Jacob’s Trouble should be alert and pray consistently that they might be “strengthened” (by hope of the true Son of Man’s return) to escape [lit. physically flee] all those things, which Jesus says must soon occur (during Jacob’s Trouble)…. At the end of which, all remaining Jews will physically stand before the Son of Man on earth. This is the contextually consistent interpretation, which complements Matthew 24:13, “but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” The Church often overlays itself onto prophecies meant for the Hebrew people.
What I observe in the Luke 21 passage does not negate the pre-trib rapture, nor does it uphold a post-trib view. I am pre-trib in my rapture view. I also try to interpret in context, so that I know what I can ascribe to the Church and what I must fairly ascribe to Hebrew people. My hermeneutic leads me to be dispensational that way.