Category Archives: S. Kent Brown

Signs of the Coming Son of Man (Luke 21:25–28)

by S. Kent Brown. This text is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, part of the BYU New Testament Commentary. (For this reading, compare Matt. 24:29–31; Mark 13:24–27.) This reading includes the New Rendition, the Analysis, and Notes.

New Rendition

25 “And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth anguish of nations in anxiety at the sounds of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and expectation of things coming upon the world, since the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and much glory. 28 And when these things begin to occur, stand up and raise your heads, because your deliverance approaches.”

Analysis

In these verses, the Savior turns to the signs that will precede his Second Coming and the end-time, illuminating a gap between the fall of Jerusalem and these future events. By borrowing language from the Old Testament that is difficult to grasp in places, Jesus predicts troubling portents in the heavens, on the earth, and among men and women.[1] Frighteningly, no one will escape except those who can “lift up [their] heads” and confidently anticipate that their “redemption draweth nigh” (21:28). Hence, Jesus graciously offers the optimistic view to his followers that he and they will ultimately triumph even when challenges seem most sharp and daunting.[2]

Earlier, Jesus presents himself as Son of Man in both his contemporary, earthly contexts and future, heavenly scenes (see 9:26; 11:30; 12:8, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8).[3] In each of these settings, Jesus offers a hint or an aspect of his work, both here and hereafter. But when he sketches his future arrival as one “in a cloud with power and great glory,” he places a capstone on his ministry, affirming that he comes as lord and king of all (21:27), arriving “with all the holy angels” (D&C 45:44; “all the hosts”— D&C 29:11).

More concretely for his Apostles, Jesus affirms personally to them in his first-person account that, when he comes again, “if ye have slept in peace blessed are you; for as you now behold me and know that I am, even so shall ye come unto me” from their sleep in the grave. More than this, in that day “your redemption shall be perfected,” bringing a glorious climax to their quest for eternal life (D&C 45:46).

In this section of Luke’s record, the Joseph Smith Translation adds clarifying words both to the setting with the Twelve and to the Savior’s sayings that support the idea of a substantial gap in time between the fall of Jerusalem and his Second Coming. At the beginning of 21:25 where we read “there shall be signs,” the JST inserts the following: “And he answered them, and said, In the generation in which the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, there shall be signs” (JST 21:25). Jesus is responding to a request from the Twelve that does not appear in Luke’s report: “Master, tell us concerning thy coming?” (JST 21:24), elucidating that Jesus’ discussion of the “signs” arises from the disciples’ honest query. Those “signs” will appear only “in the generation in which the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled,” that is, in a distant day, and will include “The earth also [being] troubled” along with “the waters of the great deep” (JST 12:24). In a word, Jesus’ Second Coming and the signs that precede it are not imminent. They remain far away.

Notes

21:25 there shall be signs: Picking up the thread at the end of the prior verse about “the times of the Gentiles,” the Joseph Smith Translation adds introductory words from Jesus to this verse: “And he answered them, and said, In the generation in which the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, there shall be signs” (JST 21:25). Thus, the signs that Jesus discloses will characterize particularly that distant age. Incidentally, the Greek term for “sign” (sēmeion) appears elsewhere in negative dress (see 2:34; 11:16) as well as positive (see 2:11–12; the Notes on 11:16, 29; 21:7).[4]

the sun, . . . the moon, . . . the stars: This celestial set of signs often appears in different but somewhat obscure language: “before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven” (D&C 45:42; Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24–25; also Ezek. 32:7; D&C 29:14). Even though this more descriptive language is missing from Luke’s report, Jesus’ recorded words clearly point to an important day, the day of the Lord (see Isa. 13:9–10; 34:4; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15; Acts 2:20; 2 Pet. 3:10, 12). This scene is augmented in other scripture that speaks of future events, almost as if the heavenly spheres are alive: “the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down” (D&C 88:87). What is more, at the time of the Savior’s coming, “so great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places” (D&C 133:49). But he adds the caution that “these things . . . shall not pass away until all shall be fulfilled” (D&C 45:23). Even so, when the moment arrives, the celestial world will acknowledge the arrival of its king in dramatic fashion (see D&C 43:18; 49:23).

upon the earth distress of nations: Mirroring the celestial disturbances are terrestrial events that will engulf “nations” or “peoples” (Greek ethnos).[5]

the sea and the waves roaring: The latter part of this verse and the first part of 21:26 stand only in Luke’s account. This image of nature out of control appears nowhere else and the Joseph Smith Translation strengthens this scene: “The earth also shall be troubled, and the waters of the great deep” (JST 21:25; also Moses 7:66). Further hints exist in Jesus’ first- person account: “the whole earth shall be in commotion” and “there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations” and “the earth shall tremble, and reel to and fro” and the earth’s inhabitants “shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth . . . in the earth beneath” (D&C 45:26, 33, 48, 40; also 2 Ne. 6:15; 8:6). In related language, scripture pleads for people to repent in the aftermath or midst of alarming natural phenomena (see Rev. 9:20–21; 1 Ne. 19:11; D&C 43:25; 88:87–91). Notably, the JST makes a subtle adjustment that impacts the meaning of Luke’s expression: “there shall be . . . upon the earth distress of nations . . . like the sea and the waves roaring” (JST 21:25; emphasis added).

21:26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear: In the human sphere, the celestial and terrestrial terrors will cause unparalleled fright (see D&C 88:89, 91). Besides fear, in this era “the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound” (D&C 45:27). This circumstance will be reversed among believers: rejoicing, they will be confident that their “redemption draweth nigh” and “that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (21:28, 31; also Joel 3:16).

those things which are coming on the earth: The Greek verb (eperchomai) bears the sense “to come upon” with unpleasant consequences.[6] In the first person account, the Risen Savior spells out his meaning in more detail: “they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke” (D&C 45:41). Moreover, in this dark moment “the nations of the earth shall mourn” and “calamity shall cover the mocker . . . and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire” (D&C 45:49–50; also D&C 87:6–8; JST 2 Pet. 3:10, 12).

the powers of heaven shall be shaken: The meaning of this declaration remains unsure. This description appears in all the records of this sermon, but only partially in Doctrine and Covenants 45:48, and exhibits Old Testament ties (see Joel 2:10; Hag. 2:6, 21). The context consistently connects this statement to the “signs” of the sun, moon, and stars as well as the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds (see 21:25, 27; Matt. 24:29–31; Mark 13:24–27; JST 2 Pet. 3:10; JS–M 1:33–36; D&C 88:87; 133:49). Hence, the prophecy has much to do with the heavens, occasionally partnered with the earth. But the identity of “the powers” (Greek dynamis), which seem to possess individuality, continues unspecified although other New Testament passages make reference to them (see Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:22; also D&C 24:1; 38:11). It seems plain that events of the end-time will fracture their world (see D&C 21:6).[7]

21:27 And then shall they see: Before this expression, the Joseph Smith Translation inserts all of verse 28 and adds three words; by doing so, it becomes apparent that Jesus cements the link between “signs” in heaven and earth (see the Notes on 21:25–26), and the event they point to—his Second Coming: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for the day of your redemption draweth nigh” (JST 21:27; emphasis added). In a different vein, the audience for Jesus’ distant arrival, noted by the pronoun “they,” remains unclear in Luke’s account. Matthew 24:30 holds that “all the tribes of the earth” will see his arrival (also JST Matt. 24:37–38; JST Mark 13:41–42). In other scripture, the audience is “the remnant [that] shall be gathered unto this place [Jerusalem]” (D&C 45:43). At some point, ominously, “the arm of the Lord [shall] fall upon the nations” (D&C 45:47; also D&C 1:13–14; 35:14; 45:45).

the Son of man coming in a cloud with power: As in other passages, the “coming one” is the Savior (see 3:16; Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:7; Acts 13:25; Mal. 3:1; Mosiah 3:9; D&C 29:11; 133:2, 10, 17, 19, 66; the Notes on 3:16; 13:35;

19:38; 20:16; 21:8, 27; the Analysis on 3:7–20; 19:28–40, 45–48; 22:39–46).[8]

But on this occasion, he comes as he has never come before, descending from heaven. Concretely, he will arrive at several spots near one another, including the Mount of Olives (see Zech. 14:4; D&C 45:48; 133:20), Mount Zion (see D&C 133:18), and Jerusalem itself (see D&C 133:21).

great glory: This time, Jesus, the coming one, will arrive in royal dress, in royal hues, and in his resurrected form (see 24:26; also 9:26; D&C 29:11; 45:16, 44, 56).[9]

21:28 And when these things begin: The Joseph Smith Translation relocates this entire verse to a position preceding 21:27, forming an introduction to the arrival of the Son of Man (see JST 21:27–28).

these things: The reference seems to be to the “signs” that Jesus enumerates in 21:25–26,[10] a view made more secure by the movement of this verse in the JST.

lift up your heads: The lifting of one’s hands or eyes or voice often points to a special, sometimes sacred occasion, including prayer and giving blessings (see 16:23; 18:13; 3 Ne. 11:5, 8; the Note on 6:20).[11]

your redemption draweth nigh: This teaching, already linked in the Old Testament to the Lord’s voice heard from Jerusalem (see Joel 3:16), is expressed in other scripture a bit differently: “your redemption shall be perfected” by the coming of the Lord (D&C 45:46; also Moses 7:67). The Greek term for “redemption” (apolytrōsis), appearing only here in the Gospels but frequently in Paul’s writings (see Rom. 3:24; 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7, 14; etc.), bears the sense of being delivered.[12]88 The Joseph Smith Translation adds three words: “the day of your redemption draweth nigh” (JST 21:27; emphasis added). Such language indicates that Jesus’ actions will occur in an earthly time frame and not in a timeless setting. In a related vein, modern scripture holds that the newly baptized church members will intelligently begin to look “for the signs of [ Jesus’] coming, and shall know [him]” (D&C 39:23). After this final expression in verse 28, the JST inserts verse 27: “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory” (JST 21:28).

 

[1] Green, Luke, 740, nn. 44–47 for references; we note that Green’s reference in n. 46 should be to Isa. 5:30, not to Jonah 5:30, which does not exist.

[2] Morris, Luke, 322; Green, Luke, 740–41.

[3] Green, Luke, 740

[4] BAGD, 755–65; TDNT, 7:231–36, 238–40.

[5] BAGD, 217.

[6] BAGD, 284; TDNT, 2:680–81.

[7] BAGD, 207; TDNT, 2:285, 307–8.

[8] TDNT, 2:666–69.

[9] Fitzmyer, Luke, 1:789; Green, Luke, 740.

[10] Marshall, Luke, 777.

[11] TDNT, 1:186.

[12] Plummer, Luke, 485; TDNT, 4:351–56; Morris, Luke, 328.

Parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1–12)

This is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown. It includes the New Rendition, Analysis, and Notes on each verse.

New Rendition

1 And he began to speak also to his disciples, “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and he was accused before him as squandering his property. 2 And after he had called him, he said to him, ‘What is this I hear concerning you? Give an accounting of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ 3 And the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my lord is taking away the stewardship from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I should do so that, when I am removed from my stewardship, they will receive me into their houses.’

5 “And summoning each one of his lord’s debtors, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my lord?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.’ 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward because he acted shrewdly—because the sons of this age are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

9 “And I say to you, make for yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness so that, when it fails, they may receive you into the everlasting dwellings. 10 He who is trustworthy in little is also trustworthy in much, and he who is unjust in little is also unjust in much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the real riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy in what is another’s, who will give to you what is yours?” Continue reading

Parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31)

This is extracted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown. It contains the New Rendition, Analysis, and Notes on each verse.

New Rendition

19 “There was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen and made merry in splendor every day. 20 A certain poor man named Lazarus had been laid at his gates, covered with sores 21 and wanting to be fed from what fell from the rich man’s table. Further, even the dogs, when they came, kept licking his sores. 22 And it came to pass that the poor man died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died and was buried.

23 “And in Hades, when he raised his eyes, being in torment, he saw Abraham from afar and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And calling out, he said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to wet the tip of his finger with water and cool my tongue, because I suffer in this blaze.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you received your good things in your life, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now, here, he is comforted and you suffer. 26 And besides all this, a great chasm has been placed between us and you, so that those who want to cross from here to you cannot, nor from there might they pass over to us.’ Continue reading

Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8–10)

This is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown.

New Rendition

15:8 “Or what woman having ten drachmas, if she should lose one drachma, does not kindle a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And upon finding it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the drachma which I lost.’ 10 So, I say to you, there will be joy among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Analysis

Continuing a pattern since chapter 13, Luke offers another teaching of the Savior that no other writer preserves, enhancing his record all the more. Continue reading

Healing the Infirm Woman (Luke 13:10-17)

This is an extracted of The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown, pages 659-665. It includes the New Rendition, Analysis, and Notes on each verse.

 New Rendition

10 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a spirit of sickness for eighteen years. And she was doubled over and was unable to stand up entirely straight. 12 And seeing her, Jesus called to her and said, “Woman, you are released from your illness.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and she was immediately made straight and glorified God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, answering said to the crowd, “There are six days in which it is permitted to work, so on these you come and be healed, but not on the Sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answering him said, “Hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath loose his cow or donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 But this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound lo these eighteen years, is it not fitting that she be released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 And after he had said these things, all those opposed to him were ashamed, and all the crowd rejoiced because of all the splendid things that happened because of him. Continue reading

The Women Receive the First Tidings of the Resurrection (Luke 24:1–12)

This section is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown. It includes an introduction, the New Rendition, notes on each verse, and analysis. (On this section, compare Matt. 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–11; John 20:1–18)

Introduction

The Garden Tomb

Surprised at the empty tomb and at the appearance of two angels, the women of Galilee hastily retreat to bear the news of the Savior’s resurrection to the Apostles; surprised at this news, Peter runs to the tomb to confirm their words; surprised that the stranger does not know of events in Jerusalem, the two disciples traveling to Emmaus share the news of Jesus’ death and receive in turn an eye-opening discourse; surprised at the disappearance of the stranger after breaking bread with him, these same two disciples rapidly return to the capital city to report their experience to the Apostles and others; surprised at the sudden appearance of the Risen Jesus while the two report and the others listen, they all watch in wonder as he eats with them; surprised at his unexpected presence, the gathered disciples listen in rapt silence as he instructs them and then departs. All is packed into one day. Continue reading

Luke 9:28-36: Transfiguration

This post is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown, 472-482. For this section, compare Matt. 17:1–9; Mark 9:2–10. Here are the New Rendition, Notes, and Analysis.

New Rendition

28 And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, after he had taken Peter, John, and James aside, he went up to the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying the appearance of his face became different and his clothing became white, flashing like lightning. 30 And behold, two men spoke with him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, began to speak about his departure, which he was about to fulfill in Jerusalem.

32 And Peter and those with him were overcome with sleep, but when they were awake they beheld his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 And it came to pass as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. And let us build booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah,” not knowing what he was saying. Continue reading

Luke 9:1–6: Sending the Twelve

This post is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown, pages 443-449. Here are the New Rendition, Notes, and Analysis. For this section, compare Matt. 10:1-15; Mark 6:7-13.

New Rendition

1 And when he had called together the Twelve, he gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal sicknesses. 2 And he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 And he said to them, “Do not take anything for your journey, neither staff, nor a traveler’s bag, nor bread, nor money. Do not even have two shirts. 4 And whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. 5 And whoever does not welcome you, as you are leaving that town, shake the dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” 6 And departing, they traveled through the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing everywhere.

Notes

9:1 called his twelve disciples together: This scene does not frame the formal calling of the Twelve. Jesus calls them earlier (see the Note on 6:13) and then ordains them (see JST 8:1). At their ordination, of course, they receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, the right to serve as the presiding authority in his nascent church (see D&C 107:8, 18–19).[1] This authority, of course, comes by the laying on of hands, a very old practice (see Num. 27:18–23; Deut. 34:9).[2] In this setting, Jesus gives the Twelve their first charge. It is also possible that the Twelve are not all with him at the healing of Jairus’s daughter (see 8:41–42, 49–56) and that therefore he is summoning them to gather.[3]

gave them power and authority: The verb “to give” (Greek didōmi) stands in the past (aorist) tense, pointing to a single act of granting authority, that is, to the ordination of the Twelve under the hands of Jesus himself.[4] The Greek nouns are dynamis and exousia, common terms in Luke’s record to describe divine power and authority (see the Notes on 1:35; 4:6, 14, 36; the Analysis on 4:1–13).[5] Importantly, the Joseph Smith Translation points to events noted in 8:1 as the occasion for featuring the ordination of the Twelve, and possibly others. To what are they ordained on that earlier occasion? Evidently, to the Melchizedek Priesthood. In this latter instance, which is underlined in our current verse, they receive the full authority of the Apostleship (see the Notes on 8:1 and 9:2). Hence, they apparently receive priesthood authority in steps. Their newly received authority is underscored by their complaint about others exercising priesthood powers (see the Notes on 9:49–50). Continue reading

Luke 6:20-49, The Sermon on the Plain

This post is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown, pp. 330-54. It begins with an introduction, the New Rendition (a new version of the Greek text by Eric D. Huntsman), a verse-by-verse commentary,  and finally an analysis.

Introduction

The Sermon on the Plain, it seems, is aimed as much at the Twelve as it is at the crowd, plainly setting out the rules for his community. He intends that the Twelve do as he will teach, offering them his guidelines as he and they step off together in their joint efforts to reach the hearts of others in both word and deed (see 6:47-49; also Matt. 5:19-20).

The sermon itself stands as a sleepless sentinel within the recorded words of the Savior, casting its reassuring gaze across his disciples and their lives. Its robust requirements touch much of how people live their lives and interact with others, lifting away the dazzle and heartache of this world and allowing a peek into the life to come. The command to love one’s enemies in imitation of the Father graces the most important part of the sermon (see the Notes on 6:27, 35-36). His command to “do good,” and then his illustrations of what it means to do exactly that, impart an enabling power and dignity into the lives of anyone who will follow this directive (see 6:27-34; the Analysis below). The differences in the content and recoverable setting between this sermon and the Sermon on the Mount point to the distinctiveness of the two sermons rather than to their unity (see the Analysis on 6:20-49 below).

Mediterranean landscape.

New Rendition

20And when he raised his eyes on his disciples, he said,

“Blessed are the poor,

because yours is the kingdom of God.

21Blessed are those who are now hungry,

because you will eat your fill.

Blessed are those who now weep,

for you will laugh. Continue reading

Luke 4:1-13

Excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown, pp. 221-36, a volume of the BYU New Testament Commentary. The commentary can be purchased at BYU Studies. 

New Rendition

1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Ghost, turned back from the Jordan, and was led in the wilderness by the spirit 2 for forty days to be tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days, and when they were ended, he was hungry.

3 And the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, say to this stone that it become bread.” 4 And Jesus replied to him, “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone [but by every word of God].” Continue reading