Edited from writings by R. H. BOLL



“But watch ye at every season, making supplication that ye may prevail to escape all those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21: 36).



This weighty sentence concludes our Lord’s prophetic discourse, as reported by Luke.  It is evident from this:- (1)that certain things shall come to pass; these are in part mentioned in the preceding part of the discourse (vs. 25ff); (2) that by watchfulness and supplication we may prevail to escape all those things; (3) that those who so escape shall stand before the Son of man.



First let us examine some of the peculiar and meaningful words the Saviour used in this sentence.



- Watch ye; not the usual word gregoreo, but a term implying sleeplessness, as of a burdened heart.  It is the word used in Mark 13: 33, also, significantly, in Ephesians 6: 18.


- Making supplication; meaning to make urgent request; stronger word than prosenchomai, to pray.


- Prevail; ischuo means to prevail; katischuo, to prevail against over something or somebody; to overcome, to get the upper hand.  The mob cried out till their voices prevailed (Luke 23: 23) and they got their wish.


- To escape; the simple word “Phugo” means to flee; when strengthened with “ek” it means

to flee out of some danger or evil situation, to escape.


- To stand; but to be erect it means “to be stationed,” for it is a passave form of “histemi”, to stand.


- before; more literally “in front of”.



These are remarkable words.  That the heavenly wisdom of the Lord Jesus used them with purpose and determination needs not to be said.  Let us then, having examined these outstanding words, try to take in the meaning of the verse.  It forms the final word of the conclusion.  To get its force we must look at the two verses preceding:-


“But take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting

and drunkenness, and cares of this life; and that day come on you suddenly,

as a snare; for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of

all the earth” (Luke 21: 34).



It is worthy of particular notice how the Lord distinguishes between His own, the disciples He addresses, and “them that dwell on the face of all the earth”.  These latter are “earth-dwellers”, in the bad sense; people who have settled down here below, “men of the world whose portion is in this life” (Psalm 17: 14) as contrasted with those who are “sojourners and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2: 11).  Upon such “that day” will come “suddenly as a snare” - which obviously, in the Lord’s warning, must be considered as a dreadful calamity, by all means to be avoided.  He solemnly cautions His disciples not to let their hearts be taken up with self-indulgence, drunkenness, or the cares of this life which choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful (Mark 4: 19); for in that case would “that day” come upon them “suddenly, as a snare”, precisely as it will upon the earth-dwellers. (Compare Revelation 3: 3).



Now to our verse.  Here the Lord Jesus marks out the course necessary for His own who are to escape the terrible things that shall come to pass and who shall be permitted to stand before the Son of Man.  It is for them:-



1. To watch at every season.  Though He points out certain signs, at the inception of which thay should look up and lift up their heads, for the time of their redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21: 28) - there is never a time when they should not watch - signs or no signs.  For the signs may go unnoticed, and we may easily misjudge our times.  The only safety lies in watching always.  (See Mark 13: 35-37).



2. Making supplication.  This, being a participle, shows that the supplication is to go on during the constant watching.  If they are to watch at every season, so must they be making supplication at every season, constantly.



3. And for what this constant, urgent prayer?  That they may prevail to escape all the things that are to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.  Both the escape, on the one hand, from the calamities and judgment of that day and the privilege of being placed “in front of” the Son of man are here made contingent on watchfulness and prevailing prayer.



If anyone asks how this harmonises with the widely held tenet of “the eternal security of the believer” and the doctrine of salvation by grace - I would be far from detracting one whit from the plain face value of any of God’s precious promises.  But let me say this - that if your faith in those promises sets your soul on fire to serve God, to work and watch and pray, and to do all His good will gladly, then there is no doubt that you have truly understood, and your faith in His gracious promises is having its intended result and manifestation.  But if yours is a sort of pleasant fatalism that tends to make you careless and easy-going, you have surely misunderstood something somewhere.  And you surely need the Lord’s warning.



Now finally - when could this escape from the things that are coming upon the world in “that day” and the translation to “stand before the Son of man” take place but at the time and occasion described by our passage in Luke; but at a time before the Antichrist’s persecutions commence.  For that translation, let us watch and make supplication always, that we may prevail to escape the things that shall come upon the whole world; and be “accounted worthy” of the Millennial Kingdom of God, unto which we labour and strive and suffer to enter.