Luke 21:36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Doesn't the verse mean that we should pray to escape the tribulation and what does Jesus mean by "pray that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man"

  • The coming of the Christ, and the biblical Jewish expectations concerning their own Messiah, were light years apart; Christians, as if they have been reading the News Testament diagonally, and have not learned anything about the errors of the former, seem to fall into much of the same traps.
    – user46876
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 4:51
  • @Ken Graham Yes, I saw 'Preterists' in the Q and answered accordingly! I would have given a very different answer if it had read 'Pretrib believers'! Now I am commenting to a new participant to encourage fuller answers but all of this might just confuse him or her!
    – Anne
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 15:13

3 Answers 3


The Preterist interpretation of the book of Revelation basically claims that almost everything in Revelation was fulfilled in past history during the first century of the church. With regard to Luke 21 Jesus was foretelling the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the awful tribulation that Jews would suffer as it happened. But Jesus told his followers about fleeing so as to avoid it, and when they understood how his instructions could be carried out when Roman troops suddenly lifted their siege, they fled. Later, the city was besieged again (in A.D.70) and that’s when terrible tribulation was the portion of all the Jews still in the city. Obedient Christians were spared that by obeying Jesus.

It would appear that in order to fit Luke 21’s mention of tribulation into the Preterist scheme, they think the Book of the Revelation was written before A.D.70. I am not a Preterist myself, but assume that to be the case, given what these Preterists say about Revelation 7:9-17 (the great crowd who came out of the great tribulation) and its application. In “Revelation – Four Views” the column objectively stating the Preterist case says:

Having shown John the Jewish saints who would escape the Tribulation of A.D. 70, the Lord now shows him the great throng of Gentiles who will be saved as a result of God’s disowning His rebellious wife and children and seeking a new family… These ones come out (literally, “are coming out”) of the great tribulation (v.14) in the sense that their inclusion in God’s kingdom resulted from that event, at which time Judaism came to a formal end and the universal gospel was proclaimed to all nations.

Alternatively, they are Christian martyrs, slain by certain Roman emperors after the fall of Jerusalem (the view of Adams, David S. Clark, and others). Adams writes that:

“the vast Gentile multitude, coming out of the portending Roman persecution, is also introduced at this point… Note the heavy emphasis upon the glorious gains and blessings of faithful martyrdom in verses 9, 15, 16, and 19… It has been thought by some that the terms used to describe this multitude are too inclusive or universal to fit the historical view of these chapters. In answer it may be said that the terms used to describe the multitudes that were in Jerusalem at Pentecost were almost as universal; for it is said that there were Jews from every nation under heaven.” Edited by Steve Gregg, pp 134 & 136, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997

The Preterist approach to chapters 4 to 7 in the Revelation is, according to Gregg’s summary:

“The unsealing of the scroll represents the judgment of God upon Jerusalem (A.D. 66-70); 144,000 Judean Christians escape to Pella. The four horsemen represent the Roman invasion of Israel to quell the Jewish rebellion (A.D.66), bringing bloodshed, civil war, famine, death, and ultimately the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70.” (Ibid. p83)

This means that the Preterist view of Revelation 7:14 (the only time ‘tribulation’ is mentioned) does not look forward to a still-future time before Jesus suddenly returns. They would read Luke 21:36 and its mention of tribulation as Jesus foretelling the troubles leading up to A.D.70. So, when Jesus says to Christians back then to watch and pray that they will escape what is to happen, it is a warning not to slip into the ways of non-Christians detailed in verse 34. Those who remain alert will escape that tribulation.

However, many Christians today who do not have that Preterist view see a two-fold application of Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21, interpreting it quite differently as having an initial fulfilment in A.D. 70 and a still-future application in the time leading up to Christ’s second appearing. You would need to ask a different question to deal with that, citing particular verses in Revelation, because the explanation I have quoted (from Preterists) sees no problem as it all happened way back then, and Christians who remained alert and obeyed Christ’s instructions did, indeed, escape what happened in A.D.70 (v.36).

I am not arguing the case for Preterists, simply using quotes from a book giving something of their view in order to answer your question. I think that Revelation clearly shows that many Christians "come out of the great tribulation" (7:14) which means that they went through it.

EDIT after seeing the Q was changed from "For Preterists..." to "For Pretrib believers..." Anyone interested in comparing the Preterist view on such texts with Pre-tribulation views could check this link. It is written by a man who used to write Pre-trib articles but then changed to accepting the Preterist view. https://tkburk.com/my-journey-into-fulfilled-eschatology/


This passage is from Luke, and on first glance it appears to be identical to that in Matthew - except it’s not. The audience is different. In Matthew’s account Jesus is talking privately to 4 disciples, here he is in the temple talking to Jews (in general). An important distinction, one that has other evidence to support it, but I won’t rabbit trail, as we’re not arguing the case, merely reflecting a perspective.

So (pre-tribbers) see this being addressed to Jews, but ‘Jews’ in general, not [believing] disciples. Jesus describes the destruction of the temple - seemingly as Matthew - but - in Matthew’s account Jesus is describing the desecration in the ‘end times’, where as here Jesus is describing the destruction in 70AD.

LUKE 21:21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains

Again, there is exegetical evidence, but again, we are not ‘arguing’ the case, merely presenting a pre Tribulational view. The point being, this was a message for Jews in pre Tribulation days (for Jews in future times.) and using the events in the near future (70AD) as a ‘type’, or ‘example’ of what to expect in those days.

And your verse...

LUKE 21:36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Is speaking to those Jews in the future who will be present in those times. Telling them to watch - (believe these words/worthy to escape), get out of Jerusalem (some say to Petra), and ‘hang on tight’, because their Messiah will soon come and save them (”stand before the Son of Man.”). (REV 19/20). (This is ‘seen’ as that time immediately prior to the bowl judgements.)

Technically some Pre-Tribbers believe this (”be counted worthy to escape all these things”) refers to a second (mid-point) ‘rapture’, when Tribulation ‘saints’ (those who become believers during the tribulation) are ‘taken’ along with the 2 witnesses and 144,000.

This being the ‘pre-Trib’ explanation of this passage. As with any end-times interpretations, there is variance, even amongst ‘pre-tribbers’, so this outline may? receive some ‘pushback’. (Or ‘correction’ in their view). Nevertheless it is presented for consideration.

Pre-Tribbers know this passage is addressed to ‘non-believing’ Jews because immediately after this,Jesus presents a parable about the ‘fig tree’. The fig tree refers to ‘unbelieving Israel’. (Where as the Olive tree refers to believing Israel).


Luke 21:36, and in fact the whole chapter of Luke 21 is reporting basically what Matthew stated at Matthew 24 in slightly different words.

For instance at Luke 21:7, "And they questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, when therefore will these things be? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place."

Matthew 24:3, "And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?" Or the end of the world, the consummation of the world.

Whether or not the disciples came to Jesus privately is irrelevant in my opinion. At verse 4 through verse 14 Jesus explains what will happen, (which by the way are happening today).

At verse 15 Jesus "tips" us off when He says, "Therefore when you see the Abomination of Desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, (let the reader understand),

At this point, verse 16 through verse 28 He advises what we should do and what will take place. Then we come to verse 29, "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the Sun will be darkened, and the Moon will not give its light. and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

Verse 30, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Verse 31, "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other."

I'm not going to go through the rest of the chapter because I wanted to touch on the main points. I also read what Greek Scholar A.T.Robertson stated here:

https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/matthew-24.html He describes Jesus as a painter covering all areas of the canvass. Read what he says about Matthew 24:3. Lastly, I will leave it up to you to judge for yourselves when Jesus returns.

  • I have answered the query on SE-C Meta regarding one of your questions.
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    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 22:00

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