For a short segment like this there are surprisingly a number of changes that Luke has made to the text the other two gospel writers use. There are some small changes Luke makes such as:
- changing the word [throeo] “frightened” to [ptoeo] “terrified”.
- throeō / threomai (to wail); to clamor, to frighten, to trouble.
- Ptoeō causing to fall, causing to fly away, to scare, to frighten.
- Luke also changed the form of the verb mislead from active to passive.
- “See no-one misleads you” is changed to “see you are not misled”.
Of more significance is the fact that Luke follows Mark’s lead in the use of “I AM [He]” rather than Matthew’s “I AM the Christ”. Matthew’s construction is a clear reference to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah. In Mark and Luke the form is a reference to the I AM saying of Exodus 3:14 and God’s disclosure of THE NAME. The statement is far stronger than that found in Matthew. Yes, the statement contains the sense that Jesus is Messiah, but far more than that, Jesus is God. Jesus is the One to Whom the Tetragrammaton belongs. The unmentionable Name of the God is His. Thus don’t let anyone come and tell you that they are the Christ, the Messiah. Don’t accept any one other than God Himself claiming the role of your Saviour. There is no other.
The word misled or mislead has the sense of: to go astray, to be misled, wander off from the straight and narrow, to be deceived or fooled. But it is not just the idea of making a mistake. Rather it is a fundamental departure from the truth. Don’t let anyone come and take you away from the Truth. In order to prevent that from happening you had better know what the Truth is.
Notice Luke’s addition, “the time is near (or at hand)”. The “time” He is referring to here is the [kairos], the appointed time for eschatological fulfillment to take place. But of course their claim is false. Many will come in His name and claim to be the Messiah, or the One who knows the secret to when the End Times will occur. It is laughable when you know the truth. But of course if you don’t know the Truth (according to Scripture) then you are susceptible to “every wind of doctrine”. It is much like the claims coming out of Nigeria advising you that a huge inheritance has been left to you. Or claiming to be a bone fide person working with Barclay’s Bank who has a vaste sum to invest and he has chosen you to be the one through whom he will invest the money. Of course there will be a cut for you in the realm of millions. If something is too good to be true; it probably is, too good to be true that is. I receive these kinds of claims weekly. They are good for a laugh. Jesus is saying don’t be duped by the false prophets.
Jesus doesn’t tell them when “the time” will be. But He talks about the signs which will herald or precede the event. What event is He talking about? The interesting feature of Jesus’ words is that they could relate to the coming events for Jerusalem, fall of the city and the destruction of the Jewish Temple. [Bear in mind He as already warned them of the stones being caste down and not one left on top of another.] Or Jesus’ words could be pointing to the End of the Age – Eschatological and Apocalyptic by nature. So there is tension between the two possibilities of what is being meant here.
Note too that the indicators that are mentioned are rather general by nature. We are talking about:
- Rumours of wars
But note that these things won’t mark the end. The end (of the age) will not follow immediately. Luke tells us these things have to happen FIRST and after that the end won’t happen immediately following the appearance of these things. There is more to come. Namely:
- Nation fighting against nation
- Kingdom fighting against kingdom
- Signs in the sky.
As I commented above, these signs are rather general. We have had wars in almost every generation since the beginning of time. It seems to be a feature of being human and living on this planet. “Rumours of wars” – what does that mean? Is the rumour of a war or an intertribal conflict as bad as the war itself? Disturbances? What are they? All of life has disturbances; it’s no big deal is it? Fighting at a national level or fighting taking place within a nation is normal in this world it seems. So how could these things be signs of the end?
Earthquakes, plaques, famines and terrors – we have had these throughout time. And herein lies the problem because every generation looks at their generation and the state of the world and concludes: this must be the beginning of the end. No wonder soon after Jesus left and ascended to heaven, Christians were convinced the situation they faced was the prelude to the end of time. Match this feature of the signs with the likelihood of the false prophets coming with their message of warning. One feeds off the other, from the time Jesus walked the earth until now.
It is little wonder that End Times and the prediction of when that End will take place occupies much of what the false prophets wish to talk about in their claim and counter claim. When I was first a Christian I was introduced to matters relating to the End Times. We had someone come to our church and preach about the End Times. I soaked it all up like a wet sponge. I knew nothing about these things having just been born again from atheism. I took on board all he said. Then a while later we had someone else tell us more. The only problem was it clashed with what the first guy had said. Following that someone else came who told yet another different story. I soon realized there are all sorts of theories about this and no one really knows the truth. Then I read Matthew 24:36 where Jesus said “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Now I get it. Looking at the details we can come up with our ways of putting it all together, even down to the year – like 2012 – but God alone knows. If the Son and the angels in heaven don’t know we certainly won’t know. We can use the signs to determine how close we are but we cannot work out the exact time of when He will return. And don’t forget there is some debate about this whole passage as to whether Jesus is talking the destruction of Jerusalem in the immediate short term future or the End of Times in the long term future.
Given the general nature of the signs we are to look for: wars, rumors of wars, disturbances, earthquakes, plagues, famine and terrors, each generation has been prone to think ‘This is it. We are now entering into the Last Days’. Many have taken it so seriously that they have sold up everything and gone to the mountain top to wait for His Coming. I won’t bore you with all the details.
Likewise each succeeding generation has one person or many who have worked out all the details and are bold enough to tell us it will happen on the 19th of August 2023. [I chose that date because it is my spiritual birthday.] I was born again on that date in 1973. So this year I will be 47 years old as a Christian – surely He will return on my 50th spiritual birthday! 50 years and the Jubilee Year and the revelation of Christ splitting the skies and returning to the world He came to redeem. And furthermore I have it all worked out. He will return on the dot of 19.73 – in other words 20.13 pm. Well, it’s as good as any other theory. But don’t go out to the mountain or hilltop on August 19th 2023 at 13 minutes past 8 in the evening expecting Him to appear. I am just making it all up to prove a point.
What is it that we are looking for in these kinds of signs? Every generation has wars, earthquakes, plagues, famines, terrors and signs in the sky. I have heard signs in the sky interpret as weather patterns and global climate change – as a result of putting these verses with the verses we looked at in Luke some time ago. (see Luke 12:56 and 17:24 and the interpretation of the signs in the sky – Gem 1103 and 1008).
Take time to reflect on these “signs” in the context of the past events and related to today’s setting. Do you see patterns? Do you see a change taking place? And what do these terms mean? Take some time to dig a little deeper. Note also that Luke adds a sign the other two Synoptic Gospel writers don’t add. Terrors. Remember he changed the word frightened to terrified. Is there a match here? Terrified of terrors? What are terrors anyway?
No one knows the hour or the day when Gems will return. Certainly not me. Get the message?
It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.Jackie Joyner-Kersee
The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it cannot be done is generally interrupted by someone doing itElbert Hubbard
Tomorrow is just a future yesterday.Anon
Your PAST mistakes became your present wisdom for your future successes.Louis Martin Jr
A weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes, whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.Victor Frankl (Holocaust Survivor)