Luke 17:37

Sat, 29/07/2006 - 22:45 -- James

Has anyone met a self-evidently correct explanation of Luke 17:37 that can cut through the pages of depate there are. I’m not overwhelmingly persuaded by anything I’ve met.

The two questions I’m left asking are

  • What does the proverb mean?
  • How does it fit into 20-36?

For the first, most people seem to go for vultures circling an animal corpse. Fair enough.

For the second, Joel Green goes for “you can’t miss it”. Question: Where’s a corpse? Answer: You can’t miss it. He opts to remain undecided on what is unmissable. The point is that the return of the Son of Man, or destiny of the saved or the lost, is obvious. The trouble with that is: It just repeats the lightening idea. Seems a bit trite for such an enigmatic proverb.

On the other hand Darrell Bock takes Green’s answer further. It’s obvious, but the proverb also forces us to say it’s macabre. The judgement or the destiny of the lost is both obvious and final. I’m mildly more persuaded by that, but is it in danger of treating a proverb like an allegory? In other words, complete transference from the details of the proverb to reality may not be warranted; safer to stick with the proverbial meaning of the day answering their question.

Anyway, anyone with a self-evidently right answer please let me know!

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matthew's picture
Submitted by matthew on


Ok, so this is really out of date, but I thought I'd spend a few minutes discovering what I'd been missing by not looking at your blog sooner. I'm not sure it's self-evident, but, here's my take (following NT Wright, if memory serves)...

Given the parallels with the Olivet discourse, and the context in Luke, which speaks repeatedly of the destrn of Jerusalem (esp in chap 13), I think this section is speaking of AD70, rather than the Second Coming. The whole taken/left and not going back to your house to get stuff makes sense in the light of an imperative to flee the Roman armies, or be taken off to captivity (echoes of the Exile).

V. 37 cd be translated "...there the eagles will gather", i.e., "there the standards of the Roman army will gather". The corpse would be Jerusalem - formerly the bride of God, now divorced and executed (the OT punishment for adultery). The verse then resembles 21.20. And so the answer to the disciples question, "where will this destruction happen" is "Jerusalem, when the Roman armies destroy it."



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