A Question I Was Asked:

Can You Explain Luke 21:12-24? Have the "Times of the Gentiles" Come Yet?

Can you explain Luke 21:12-24? Have the "Times of the Gentiles" come yet?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, part of this section of Scripture is written in the apocalyptic style. This means that it is colourful, dramatic and may not be according to strict time order. We might also expect some imagery and symbolism. There are two clear sections in the section of Scripture which you ask about.

Let us look at the first part:

12. "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. 13. And so you will bear testimony to me. 14. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17. Everyone will hate you because of me. 18. But not a hair of your head will perish. 19. Stand firm, and you will win life.

So the first part here is looking at Christians through the ages, there would be much persecution, many difficulties because of our profession of Christ - even within families - yet God would always be with us in our trials. It also includes a promise: wherever we are actually put on trial for professing Christ, God Himself will be our trial advocate and He will put words in our mouths which none will be able to gainsay. So the application here is not only to the very first Christians, but to all Christians during times of trial and persecution. When this section concludes with "stand firm and you will win life" (verse 19), this refers to Eternal Life. Now let us consider the second part, where the style changes:

20. "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:12-24).

This was, of course, very clearly fulfilled in AD70 during the period of the Roman/Jewish war, it culminated in the temple at Jerusalem being destroyed and huge persecution upon the Jews, including many thousands of them being killed. Josephus is the expert historian on these times and some of the things which he describes are truly horrible. Here Jesus is telling Christians to ensure that they don't find themselves within Jerusalem when these events happen. Jesus also stated:

32. "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Verses 32-33).

So this confirms the timing, it would all happen within a generation - AD30 to AD70 is forty years, one generation. A 'coming' of the Lord certainly occurred back then, but it was a coming in judgement on the tribes of Israel.

Revelation 11:1-2 also refers to this time but, being in the apocalyptic style, the later verses of Revelation 11 appear to change to another scene.

1. I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. 2. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. (Revelation 11:1-2).

Here again we have the 'Times of the Gentiles' (referring to the events which occurred between AD66 and AD73). But the interesting thing here is that although almost every number in Revelation is symbolic, this one appears to be literal. It has been calculated that the actual siege of Jerusalem lasted from spring AD67 until August AD70 - three and a half years, or 42 months. But the entire period of the attack upon the Jews is seven years, from A66 to the destruction at Masada in AD73.

So my conclusion is that the 'Times of the Gentiles' refers to the events of AD66-73, but principally to AD70.

Robin A. Brace. June 3rd, 2016.