Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The poor widow casting two mites into the treasury, Luk 21:1-4. The destruction of the temple foretold, Luk 21:5, Luk 21:6. The signs of this desolation, Luk 21:7. False Christs, Luk 21:8. Wars, Luk 21:9, Luk 21:10. Earthquakes and fearful sights, Luk 21:11. Persecutions against the godly, Luk 21:12-19. Directions how to escape, Luk 21:20-22. The tribulation of those times, Luk 21:23-28. The parable of the fig tree, illustrative of the time when they may expect these calamities, Luk 21:29-33. The necessity of sobriety and watchfulness, Luk 21:34-36. He teaches by day in the temple, and lodges by night in the mount of Olives, and the people come early to hear him, Luk 21:37, Luk 21:38.
The rich men casting their gifts into the treasury - See all this, from Luk 21:1-4, explained on Mar 12:41-44 (note).
A certain poor widow - A widow miserably poor; this is the proper import of πενιχραν, and her being miserably poor heightened the merit of the action.
Two mites - Which Mark says, Mar 12:42, make a farthing or quadrans, the fourth part of an As, or penny, as we term it. In Plutarch's time we find the smallest piece of brass coin in use among the Romans was the quadrans, but it appears that a smaller piece of money was in circulation among the Jews in our Lord's time, called here, and in Mark, Mar 12:42, a lepton, i.e. small, diminished, from λειπω, I fail. In ancient times our penny used to be marked with a deep indented cross, dividing the piece into four equal parts, which, when broken in two, made the half-penny, and, when broken into four, made the fourthing, what we have corrupted into farthing. Probably the Roman quadrans was divided in this way for the convenience of the poor. Our term mite seems to have been taken from the animal called by that name; for as that appeared to our ancestors to be the smallest of all animals, so this being the smallest of all coins was called by its name. Junius says that mite was a small base coin among the Dutch. Our word mite seems to be a contraction of the Latin minutum, a small thing, whence the French miete, a crumb, a very small morsel. See the note on Mar 12:41.
Goodly stones - Or, costly stones. It has been thought by some that this relates not so much to the stones of which the temple was built, as to the precious stones with which it was decorated. For an account of the stones of the temple, see on Mar 13:1 (note).
And gifts - Or, consecrated things, αναθημασι. Αναθημα properly signifies a thing consecrated to sacred uses: Αναθεμα signifies a thing devoted to a curse, or to destruction. They both come from the same root, ανατιθημι, I lay up, separate; and though two meanings cannot be more opposite than those assigned to these words, yet in the words themselves a short vowel (ε) in the place of a long one (η) makes all the difference between blessing and cursing.
One stone upon another - This was literally fulfilled. See Mat 24:2.
Many shall come in my name - Usurping my name: calling themselves the Messiah. See Mat 24:5. Concerning this prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, and its literal accomplishment, see the notes on Matthew 24:1-42 (note).
Commotions - Seditions and civil dissensions, with which no people were more agitated than the Jews.
Fearful sights - What these were the reader will find in detail on Mat 24:7 (note).
Synagogues - Or, assemblies, etc. See these all explained on Mar 13:9 (note).
It shall turn to you for a testimony - That is, it shall turn out on your part for a testimony to them (your persecutors) that you are thoroughly persuaded of the truth of what you teach, and that you are no impostors.
Settle it therefore, etc. - See on Mat 10:19 (note).
I will give you a mouth and wisdom - Στομα, a mouth, must appear plain to every person to be used here for a ready utterance, or eloquence in speaking. They shall have an abundance of wisdom to know what to say; and they shall have an irresistible eloquence to say what they ought.
But there shall not a hair of your head perish - A proverbial expression for, Ye shall not suffer any essential injury. Every genuine Christian shall escape when this desolation comes upon the Jewish state.
In your patience - Rather, your perseverance, your faithful continuance in my word and doctrine. Ye will preserve your souls. Ye shall escape the Roman sword, and not one of you shall perish in the destruction of Jerusalem. Instead of κτησασθε, possess, or preserve ye, I read κτησεσθε, ye shall preserve. This reading is supported by AB-B, five others; both the Syriac, all the Arabic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, all the Itala except two, Origen, Macarius, and Tertullian.
These be the days of vengeance - See on Mat 24:21 (note).
They shall fall by the edge of the sword - Those who perished in the siege are reckoned to be not less than eleven hundred thousand. See Mat 24:22.
And shall be led away captive - To the number of ninety-seven thousand. See Josephus, War, b. vi. c. ix. s. 2, 3, and on Mat 24:31 (note).
Trodden down of the Gentiles - Judea was so completely subjugated that the very land itself was sold by Vespasian; the Gentiles possessing it, while the Jews were either nearly all killed or led away into captivity.
Of the Gentiles be fulfilled - Till the different nations of the earth, to whom God shall have given the dominion over this land, have accomplished all that which the Lord hath appointed them to do; and till the time of their conversion to God take place. But when shall this be? We know not. The nations are still treading down Jerusalem, and the end is known only to the Lord. See the note on Mat 24:31.
The sea and the waves roaring - Figuratively pointing out the immense Roman armies by which Judea was to be overrun and destroyed.
Men's hearts failing them for fear - Or, Men fainting away through fear, (Αποψυχοντων), being ready to die.
Coming on the earth - Or, Coming upon this land, οικουμενῃ. See this translation of the word vindicated in the note on Luk 2:1 (note).
He spake to them a parable - Illustrated all these predicted facts by the simile of a fig tree. See this explained on Mat 24:32 (note).
The kingdom of God is nigh at hand - After the destruction of the Jewish state, the doctrine of Christ crucified shall be preached every where, and every where prevail.
This generation - This race of men; but see on Mat 24:34 (note), and Mar 13:30 (note).
Take heed to yourselves - See our Lord's parable, relative to this matter, explained, Mar 13:34 (note).
Be overcharged - Literally, be made heavy, as is generally the case with those who have eaten or drank too much. Take heed that ye be not rendered secure by an improper use of lawful things: do not make this earth your portion: expect its dissolution, and prepare to meet your God.
The face of the whole earth - Or, of this whole land. The land of Judea, on which these heavy judgments were to fall. See Luk 21:25; see also Luk 2:1.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always - Perhaps we should connect ες παντι καιρῳ, continually, with αγρυπνειτε, watch, as it appears to be the most natural order. Indeed the word continually belongs equally to both watch and pray; and no man is safe, at any time, who does not attend to this advice as literally as possible.
That shall come to pass - That is, the tribulations which are on their way to overwhelm and destroy the Jewish people. These are sufficiently stated in the preceding verses.
To stand before the Son of man - To be acquitted, and to be condemned, are expressed, in Rom 14:4, by standing and falling. Those who were faithful to the grace they had received were not only not destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem, but became heralds of the grace and mercy of God to the nations. Thus they were counted worthy to stand before the Son of man - to minister salvation in his name.
And in the day time - Or, every day - τας ἡμερας. This probably relates to the four last days of his life already mentioned.
Abode in the mount - He taught all day in the temple, and withdrew every evening, and lodged in Bethany; a town at the foot, or on the declivity of the mount of Olives. See the note on Mat 21:17.
The people came early - He returned early from the mount of Olives, and the people came early in the morning to the temple to hear his teaching. For practical observations on the awful subject of this chapter, see Matthew 24 at the end.