Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 21:17 - 21:19

Online Resource Library

Commentary Index | Return to | Download

Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 21:17 - 21:19

(Show All Books | Show All Chapters)

This Chapter Verse Commentaries:



Luk_21:17-19. Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.

IN applying to ourselves the addresses of our Lord to his Disciples, we are liable to err, if we do not distinguish between their situation and our own. As far as we are in their circumstances, the application will be just, but no further. They were taught to expect on trying occasions such aid from God, as would entirely supersede the necessity of study on their part [Note: ver. 14, 15.]: but if we should form such expectations, we should only tempt God, and expose his cause to the derision of his enemies. Nevertheless, inasmuch as we are subject to many of the same difficulties with them, we may reasonably hope for the same supports and consolations. Though therefore we willingly concede, that it would be enthusiastic and absurd in us to expect the miraculous influences which were vouchsafed to them, we may regard the words before us as addressed to ourselves. In them we have,

I.       An alarming declaration—

[Piety has been an object of aversion to fallen man in all ages [Note: Joh_3:12. Gal_4:29.] — — — Where it has appeared in its most perfect forms, it has been most reviled and persecuted [Note: Act_7:52 and 1Co_4:9.] — — — It might have been hoped indeed that the glorious effects of Christianity would disarm its enemies: but the enmity of the human heart against God has never appeared so strong, as it has since the establishment of Christianity in the world — — — And to this hour does a conformity to its precepts call forth the same wrath and bitterness as it did in the Apostle’s days. The laws enacted for its support do indeed restrain men from executing all that is in their hearts: but the words of our Lord are still verified in every place; nor can any wisdom or prudence in the professors of religion exempt them from the reproach connected with it. Amongst other reasons for the aversion of men to Christianity in the first ages, a very prominent one was, that it was an unaccommodating religion, and claimed, not only a pre-eminence above every other, but an exclusive existence in the world. Had the followers of Jesus been content that his name should have been enrolled among the list of heathen deities, they would have been no more hated than the professors of any other religion: and if at this time the followers of Christ would connive at the existence of other tenets and other practices than those which Christianity enjoins, they would be admired, rather than hated, by an ungodly world. But their exclusive claims in its behalf subject them to the fiercest resentment of those who are hostile to its requisitions. Not content with serving the Lord Jesus Christ themselves, they call upon all others to serve him too, and that at the peril of their souls: hence all who are determined to follow their own ways must, in their own vindication as it were, condemn those who so greatly differ from them: and hence, as long as that difference exists in the world, the enmity excited by it will operate.]

To fortify us against these trials, our Lord graciously gives us,

II.      A consoling promise—

[The expression used by our Lord was proverbial: it occurs in many other parts of Scripture; and signifies, that no real evil shall arise to the person of whom it is spoken. It cannot mean that he shall experience no trouble; for in the preceding context it is said, that “many shall be put to death:” but it is equivalent to that expression of St. Peter, “Who is he that shall harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good [Note: 1Pe_3:13.]?” and it accords with that promise of God by the Prophet Jeremiah, “Turn ye every one from your evil ways, and I will do you no hurt [Note: Jer_25:5-6.].” Two things are implied in it; namely, that no evil whatever shall accrue to the person but by the express permission of God; and that none shall be inflicted, which shall not be over-ruled for his eternal good.

Little do the world think how much their powers are limited by the special providence of God. They boast of their purposes; but find that “wherein they deal proudly, there is One that is above them,” “who disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that they cannot perform their enterprise [Note: Job_5:12.].” Laban and Esau menaced great things against the defenceless Jacob; but they could effect nothing: and every believer may address his enemies in the words of Christ to Pilate, “Ye can have no power at all against me, except it be given you from above.”

The Christian’s enemies do indeed often appear to triumph: but it is in appearance only, and not in reality; for they can do nothing which God will not “make to work together for good to them that love him.” If they injure his body, and benefit his soul, what harm do they inflict? If they deprive him of earthly comforts, but occasion him to receive a richer reward in heaven, what loss does he sustain? Verily the efforts of the most malignant amongst them shall only operate as a furnace to purge him from his dross, or as a cross-wind to fill all his sails, and waft him with more rapidity to his desired haven.]

But as flesh and blood must feel, and are too apt to faint, our Lord adds,

III.     An encouraging direction—

[Self-possession is the privilege of all who trust in God; “They that believe shall not make haste.” The unreasonableness of wicked men is apt to discompose us; and their virulence, to grieve us: but by patience we are enabled to bear up against every species of oppression, and to retain the same tranquillity of mind as if we were in a state of perfect ease: “I will keep him in perfect peace,” saith God, “whose mind is stayed on me.” This then is the direction given us by our Lord, “In your patience possess ye your souls;” “let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing [Note: Jam_1:4.].”

Yield not to irritation. The instant that anger arises in your bosoms, you are “overcome of evil:” whereas your duty is, “not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.”

Yield not to dejection. Your trials may he long and heavy, but they are all appointed in number, weight, and duration. See the experience of the Apostle Paul [Note: 2Co_4:8-10.]: that experience shall be yours; and “your strength shall be according to your day.”

Yield not to fear. “Who art thou that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, or of the son of man, that shall be as grass?” However formidable your enemies may appear, the advice of Peter to you is, “Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts [Note: 1Pe_3:14-15.].” “Be careful for nothing;” but “cast all your care on him who careth for you.”]

For the conclusion of this subject, we shall,

1.       Correct some mistakes in relation to it—

[Religious people are apt to imagine, that every cross which they are called to bear, is the cross of Christ; and that they should use no means to avoid it: but it is no uncommon thing for them to bring trials upon themselves by their own imprudence, or perhaps even by very reprehensible misconduct. Of such St. Peter speaks; contrasting their sufferings with those which are endured for the name of Christ; and affirming, that their troubles are a ground of shame rather than of glorying [Note: 1Pe_4:14-16.]. It would be well if those who make religion a pretext for neglecting their relative duties, would consider this; for, whatever they may imagine, their cross is not the cross of Christ, but their own; nor will it ever bring either honour to God, or benefit to themselves. Moreover, if a cross be really coming upon us for the name of Christ, we may without any impropriety endeavour to avoid it. We must not indeed sacrifice a good conscience, even for the avoiding of death itself. Daniel would not so much as shut his window when he prayed, because it would have been a denial of his God [Note: Dan_6:10.]: but our Lord told his Disciples, that “if men persecuted them in one city, they should flee to another:” and Paul on many occasions fled from his enemies, and made considerable sacrifices to abate their prejudice [Note: Act_9:25; Act_21:21-26; Act_23:6.]. Thus also should we act: we should be careful never unnecessarily to bring a cross upon ourselves; we should even use any prudent means to avoid the cross of Christ: but when we have no alternative but to bear it, or to make shipwreck of a good conscience, then we must “take it up,” and “glory in it.”]

2.       Suggest some considerations for a suitable improvement of it—

[First: If all men conspire to hate and persecute the Disciples of Christ, let the Disciples at least take care to love one another, and to strengthen each other s hands by a firm and indissoluble union amongst themselves. The ungodly will triumph not a little, if they can see Christians quarrelling among themselves, and hating and reviling each other — — —

Next; Let us duly reflect whose cross it is that we are called to bear. Did we but consider what the Lord Jesus Christ has done and suffered for us, we should account no cross heavy, nor any affliction long — — —

Lastly; Let us look forward to the eternal world: there, all our trials will be compensated; and “our light and momentary afflictions be recompensed with a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” — — —]