Jonathan Fisk on Luke 21

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem A.D. 70, Roberts (1850)

Today’s Gospel
• Luke 21:5-19

I had a busy day Saturday on call for my work, so I did not get to hunker down and deal with the text satisfactorily to give you a decent message this Sunday. So…

Here’s a message by Rev. Jonathan Fisk of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Springfield, PA, which I think gives a good take on Jesus’ emphasis in Luke 21. The style is contemporary; the message is solid. Premillennial dispensationalists—this is not your grandfather’s prophetic discourse.

You can subscribe to Rev. Fisk’s YouTube channel and view more of his messages here.

Luke 21:5-19 (NIV)—

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.

41 thoughts on “Jonathan Fisk on Luke 21

  1. Interesting about Gregg being preterist because I felt that the presentation of both the preterist and historicist views in the Revelation commentary were somewhat “distorted.” Let me explain…

    As you know I think, historicists tend to see Revelation’s fulfillment throughout church history and preterists mainly in the first century—-although there are some in those camps who try to come up with specific events or personalities to explain every last symbol down to the smallest detail, it’s my opinion that more often than not, people use church history or the first century as a broad guide for seeing the big picture without worrying whether they get every detail. I can go to an art museum and look at a portrait of a man and understand that it’s a man and not a landscape and maybe understand something about the role or personality of the man from his characterization; but just because I notice certain books on the desk in the painting which most likely have some symbolism I’m not aware of, it doesn’t mean I don’t see the big picture of what the painting is about.

    Gregg presents the historicist and preterist views with all the fine details different authors have come up with, but I think the net effect to a reader is to mistakenly think that getting all those details is what it’s about. I think some of the details in those camps as presented by Gregg are pretty lame, and I don’t know that including them is actually fair to the many of those camps that interpret with much broader brushstrokes. That was my only complaint about the book, which is otherwise very thorough and a good reference.


  2. Interesting note about Gregg – I got into an email correspondence with him and he’s a preterist. Thanks for posting this sermon, which is very much in line with Sproul’s “Last Days According To Jesus.” I came to believe this after a very long struggle with the Olivet Discourse during seminary.

    Grew up futurist dispensationalist and after I first heard the orthodox preterist viewpoint, I initially rebelled against it. But it takes a long time to break down walls. Good stuff.


  3. Try listening to him through a filter of Adult ADD. He’ll be a LOT more comprehensible. I mean, THIS GUY TALKS LIKE MY BRAIN THINKS! The running-at-redline speed, the cascades of linked-list associations (shown as the insert frames) , and the Growing-Up-Martian unusual angles and perspectives coming out of seemingly nowhere!

    Understand, when I was first taught these passages in Luke, it was According to Hal Lindsay and had One and Only One Meaning, i.e. End Time Prophecy, Antichrist, Tribulation, Rapture, Don’t Be Left Behind. Now this hyperactive Lutheran tells me how Jesus’ statements actually work on multiple inter-related levels of meaning (I counted at least three different levels, all linked together, with numerous related tangents on the popups). The type of depth and richness I strive for in my writing — for the first time I could understand and appreciate it!

    Plus, before I was broken to The Christian Party Line, I came to the doublepluscrimethink conclusion that a LOT of such prophecy (such as the Four Horsemen) speaks not of single specific events (AKA History Written In Advance) but of patterns in people and history that will repeat from now until the actual End. And that when such things come to pass, it may not be the time to don the white robes and jump up and down for Rapture Practice but it may just be another iteration of a repeating pattern.


  4. I think it can be seen that Jesus talks about both the temple and the End of time in Luke 21 while splitting the two up. Fisk comments on this also. fairly apparent in the Greek, at least it was to me.
    The other thing here is this, Jesus is speaking about a very specific building there, and not just the city. He talks particularly about that Temple as it was standing when he was there, and says these stones will be thrown down, and they are toppled.


  5. Luke 21 is largely about AD 70. I’ve more recently looked at the parallel passage in Matt 24.

    There the apostles ask two questions: “when shall these things be” and “what shall be the sign of thy coming” (of course, they assume these two things go together).

    You can then see Jesus gives two answers. But Luke doesn’t exactly match, which makes it harder to parse through. I don’t think I’ve seen it, certainly not recently…


  6. Think I’m finally getting what you are saying, but still not sure I’m agreeing.
    So what you are saying is you don’t think Jesus was talking about 70 AD. or he was hinting that there would also be a future destruction for a future temple that might be built?
    Well, I’m not sure how many near and far prophecy fulfilments you think you have. i’m not really finding yours to be all that credible. And there is a bit of difference between typology and Prophecy. I’m not thinking this was Jesus modus operendi.


  7. My point is, we have so many prophecies with near and far fulfillments, it’s easy to fit this one in as well. I wouldn’t use Like 21 as a proof text, but to say, “this one is taken” doesn’t make sense to me.


  8. thanks for the references; I give an “amen” to how easy it is to get bogged down in commentaries…..but I have to start someplace. Thanks again.


  9. Another one I’ll put in a plug for is the Barclay commentary from the Daily Study Bible series. Barclay is what you could call an “evangelical liberal” and it shows in his writing—great depth in analysis of symbols, understanding of the history surrounding the time of writing and very meaningful real-world spiritual applications, all from a guy who occasionally lets it be known he thinks parts of Daniel are later additions. If I had to pick one commentary to get spiritual meat from out of Revelation without getting bogged down in which millenial view or other “ism” I really believed, this would be it.


  10. Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary by Gregg is along the lines of what you’re looking for, but having read it, I’m not sure that it gives the best representative presentation for some of the viewpoints—it’s worth having and reading though.

    The two books above you mentioned are excellent in my opinion—I wrote a review of the Riddlebarger book on amazon and in a nutshell, I think it’s worth reading the first half especially in which it will seem like eschatology is hardly dealt with. That’s because for amillenialists, eschatology isn’t really a separate subject but is intimately connected with the entire view of salvation and the church—the first half of Riddlebarger’s book is worth reading to understand that overall perspective before even diving into the specific “eschatology” passages.

    Another one I’ve gotten a lot out of is Before Jerusalem Fell by Gentry—not a survey book, but well written presentation of the preterist view. A book with a similar view is Last Day’s Madness by Demar—I also have an amazon review for that one, but I don’t actually recommend it, not because of the content, but because the tone is somewhat aggressive and gets tedious. But others may feel differently.

    Full disclosure: my view is “I don’t know” but I’m highly sympathetic to amillenialism and preterism. Enjoy the reading!


  11. must have missed something there Ned. But I suppose that depends a bit on what you mean by fulfillment. A random man stepping on the head of a snake or serpent would make Genesis 3 a non prophecy. A random young girl losing her virginity and becoming pregnant would make Isaiah 7 a non prophecy if those are supposed to be fulfilments of the so-called prophecy.


  12. Nedbrek,
    I prefer to let scripture interpret scripture, giving special emphasis to the views and thoughts of that one guy who died and rose again on the third day, who kept saying things like I AM, and “You search the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life, but they are these who speak of me.”
    Sure if you want to explain scripture away people have been at it for years. But the historical case for the resurrection is pretty strong, and in light of that I see no reason not to give that guy the benefit of the doubt when it comes to scriptural interpretation.
    It’s easier for me to do that than to beleive that Isaiah’s wife was a virgin when she gave birth, or that he thought a young girl getting pregnant had prophetic value.


  13. There was a meeting of the bishops, the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which met in the Vatican from 5-26 October 2008, and which had as its theme: The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhoration by the Pope, titled “Verbum Domini”, has now been released and from it I offer this extract on Biblical exegesis:

    The Council’s biblical hermeneutic: a directive to be appropriated

    34. Against this background, one can better appreciate the great principles of interpretation proper to Catholic exegesis set forth by the Second Vatican Council, especially in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum: “ Seeing that, in sacred Scripture, God speaks through human beings in human fashion, it follows that the interpreters of sacred Scripture, if they are to ascertain what God has wished to communicate to us, should carefully search out the meaning which the sacred writers really had in mind, that meaning which God had thought well to manifest through the medium of their words ”. On the one hand, the Council emphasizes the study of literary genres and historical context as basic elements for understanding the meaning intended by the sacred author. On the other hand, since Scripture must be interpreted in the same Spirit in which it was written, the Dogmatic Constitution indicates three fundamental criteria for an appreciation of the divine dimension of the Bible: 1) the text must be interpreted with attention to the unity of the whole of Scripture; nowadays this is called canonical exegesis; 2) account is be taken of the living Tradition of the whole Church; and, finally, 3) respect must be shown for the analogy of faith. “Only where both methodological levels, the historical-critical and the theological, are respected, can one speak of a theological exegesis, an exegesis worthy of this book”.

    The Synod Fathers rightly stated that the positive fruit yielded by the use of modern historical- critical research is undeniable. While today’s academic exegesis, including that of Catholic scholars, is highly competent in the field of historical-critical methodology and its latest developments, it must be said that comparable attention needs to be paid to the theological dimension of the biblical texts, so that they can be more deeply understood in accordance with the three elements indicated by the Dogmatic Constitution.”

    If anyone is interested enough to plough through all 200 pages, here’s a link to the PDF:

    Click to access hf_ben-xvi_exh_20100930_verbum-domini_en.pdf


  14. Just reread my post there Miguel.
    Think I must have been tired, which does two things, makes me more polemical, and more prone to bad grammar and spelling. But I don’t need to be tired for either of those really.
    I don’t know how much exposure you have had to Lutheranism. Fisk is great at explaining things, but he is also engaging in quite a bit of showmanship, for which I give him credit. He is entertaining, and theologically sound at the same time. He admits himself though that he might not be the best thing to share with a friend you are trying to convince. I think he sees himself as preaching to the choir in these videos more than anything else.
    Lutherans are just a bit more inclined to let scripture stand. When there is tension perceived or real between to clear passages, we let the paradox remain in mystery. In fact this is where Lutherans start quoting the verse about seeing through the glass darkly. We try to realize the limits of our earthly understanding, recognizing that God doesn’t have to be rational by our standards.
    On the other hand, we will not try to explain away clear worded scripture to fit into our box of who we think God should be, or what is possible, or not possible.


  15. IMONK friends: I’m looking for recommendations for reading material to sort out this end times stuff. I’m currently reading “The Meaning of the Millenium: Four Views” IVP, Edited by Robert Clouse and Kim Riddlebarger’s “A Case For Amillenialism”. I’m especially interested in survey type books that give the pro and con (or at least rebuttal) of all the major views.

    Any suggestions ??
    Thanks, Greg R


  16. This is how the world ends.
    This is how the world ends.
    This is how the world ends.
    Now fill in the blank depending on your view of Bible prophecy. ____________________

    My apologies to T.S. Elliot.


  17. Interesting “sermon” piece by Reverend Fisk. I might add that he had many things right. For example Luke 21:5-24 is talking about what is going to happen in 70 AD. Many scholars, even some dispensationalists, agree that this was in Jesus’ mind when he was talking about this. However, I disagree with the way some Amillennialists think that the whole church age is the Great Tribulation. I also disagree with the imminence view (I lean towards a posttrib premill).

    Paul certainly talks about a time period near the end when there will be an Antichrist person (who is the ultimate fulfillment of all the previous antichrists) who will rule the world and ruthlessly persecute the saints (2 Thess 2:1-12). I don’t agree with the ridiculous notion that Paul was talking about generic fallen humanity as THE Antichrist in that passage. He certainly was talking about a demonized individual near the end of the present age who will bring havoc to the world and oppose the followers of Christ.

    Thus, even if you don’t find dispensational premillennialism being taught in Luke 21, you will certainly find a futurist eschatology (not necessarily dispensational) in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, whether you like it or not. You may not agree with Lindsey, LaHaye, and Hagee but Scripture certainly talks about how things will turn really awful (like never before) right before our Lord comes back in glory to establish his visible Kingdom.


  18. Actually, you’re thinking of Puritanism and Scottish Calvinism when you’re thinking of “logic.” If you look at the continental Reformed theologians from John Calvin to Herman Bavinck (with the exception of Beza, Turretin, and some others) they do hold to paradox when it comes to the interrelationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.


  19. A simple 1:1 this-passage-refers-to-this-event-and-no-other approach to Scripture probably isn’t the best one if for no other reason than Scripture itself doesn’t treat other Scripture in this manner. Later OT writers, the NT writers, the inter-testamental writers, the Church Fathers, and the Jewish Sages all had multiple levels of Scripture interpretation. The plain, literal (what we might call the grammatical-historical) meaning was only the most basic of levels. The plain fulfillment of Gen 22:8 was indeed 22:13, but it hinted at Messianic typology that was fulfilled in Christ.

    Is that sort of thing playing fast-and-loose with the text? In the eyes of scholars and theologians who have been heavily influenced by rationalism, modernism, etc. it probably is. But to the Church Fathers and Mishnaic/Talmudic sages (not to mention the NT authors) those scholars have a very shallow and de-constructed method of interpretation.

    One of the most frustrating things about my biblical interpretation class for my Master’s was the way that the NT writers got a special pass to do things for which the Church Fathers, etc. were criticized. The logic was that we have to let the NT writers do that because they were under special inspiration (i.e. to reject them doing it would be to reject the Scriptures), but everyone else must stick to the plain, literal, meaning.

    But really, if you insist on that in an intellectually honest fashion, you don’t really have a solid and sustainable foundation for either Christianity or Judaism.


  20. Funny, Eric!

    I started the video but was too distracted by his hand movements and his frenetic way of talking to keep listening. He may have had a great message, but I guess I was just not patient enough to get to it. It’s just a style issue. I bet many folks love listening to him and I wish him well.


  21. Well, the events of Luke 21:25 weren’t literally fulfilled either. Call it poetic license.

    There are many more, the “virgin with child” was Isaiah’s wife. The “man who crushes the head of a serpent” was probably fulfilled within a year of leaving the Garden. Most all the Psalms refer to David. Etc.


  22. Whoa, hey… I won’t argue with you there (and not necessarily because I agree). Watch his video on the Tulip and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I was referring to how Fisk defined the essential differences between Lutheranism and Calvinism.
    Good thought though, on paradox being logical. Still reformed, though. Fisk says that unless I’m 100% Lutheran, any mixture of the two is still Calvinist.


  23. Logic?
    Sorry I’ve read quite a bit of reformed theology, and I don’t think it should be confused with logic. For it is quite illogical to apply finite logic to that which is infinite. Not to mention the sort of elementary logic and physics employed as axioms there have longs since been shown to be in adequate explanations of even the finite things we deal with day in an day out.
    So when it comes to God’s word one fines the paradox to be the logical.


  24. As a Lutheran, I’m not sure a-millenialism is any more acceptable that pre-millenial dispensationalism. I wish there was another choice-not post-millenialism, either. I’d make a bad reconstructionist.


  25. Fisk on imonk! didn’t expect to see him here. Check out his spiel on the tulip. Almost converted me! Too bad I still prefer logic to paradox 😛 It’s the Scottish side of me.
    I swear, this guys is like the James White of Lutheranism. Don’t argue with him.


  26. Great post! The lectionary is moving toward Christ the King Sunday on the last Sunday of the church calendar. Then come the new calendar year and a fresh pilgrimage into Advent. In the same way, some believe than the Inca calendar doesn’t end on 2012 but starts over again. Hmmm. Very insightful video.

    BTW, I love the graphic that pops up briefly at the end of the video: “Still attending grandpa’s church”. I think this is in response to the failed ad campaign spawned by Kieschnick’s “Ablaze” movement: “Not your Grandfather’s Church”.


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