What does Luke 17:31 mean?
ESV: On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back.
NIV: On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.
NASB: On that day, the one who will be on the housetop, with his goods in the house, must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one in the field must not turn back.
CSB: On that day, a man on the housetop, whose belongings are in the house, must not come down to get them. Likewise the man who is in the field must not turn back.
NLT: On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home.
KJV: In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
NKJV: “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.
Verse Commentary:
This continues Jesus' warning to the disciples, about what His followers should do at His second coming. That is the moment when He physically returns to Earth, to judge the Antichrist and the fallen world. At that moment, the people will be celebrating life, working, marrying, feasting, and making plans. Jesus will come in a moment no one will expect, like the flood waters at the time of Noah or the burning sulfur that rained on Sodom at the time of Lot (Luke 17:22–30).

This prophecy could apply to several different events. Some think the similar warning in Mark 13:15–16 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. Although that may be a minor application, Jesus says the event He mentions is the greatest tribulation that has ever been (Mark 13:19). Certainly, the flood was worse, so it can't just refer to AD 70; it must primarily be during the second coming at the end of the tribulation.

Matthew's version includes "Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath" (Matthew 24:20). That would indicate the warning is for Jews. During the tribulation, the Jews will be driven from Israel, but it seems this will happen at the mid-point of the seven-year tribulation, not when Jesus returns at the end (Revelation 12:13–14).

Luke presents a general warning to all Jesus-followers during the tribulation who realize judgment is imminent. The nations will be concerned with "luxurious living," precious metals, jewels, fine clothing, art, spices, and slaves—"human souls" (Revelation 18:3, 12–13). When the end is near, Jesus' followers must not even go back for a wallet. They need to run.
Verse Context:
Luke 17:22–37 may create confusion for two reasons. The first is where to place the events in relation to the end times. Are they before the rapture or at the end of the tribulation? The second complication is the placement of Jesus' teaching. Did He deliver this message while traveling through Galilee and Samaria, or outside of Jerusalem during the final week prior to His crucifixion? Ultimately, neither question is as important as the clear message: Jesus' return will be unmistakable, and those who are not ready will suffer greatly. This passage covers similar material to Matthew 24 and Mark 13.
Chapter Summary:
In his gospel, Luke has often arranged events by theme rather than by strict time order. That seems likely here with a series of teachings about living as Christ followers and ambassadors of God. Christians ought to be careful not to poison the faith of others. Faith is powerful. God's servants should not demand extravagant treatment in return. After healing ten lepers—only one of whom offers thanks—Jesus discusses the state of the world at His future second coming.
Chapter Context:
Luke 17 continues Jesus' teaching about how to live as citizens and ambassadors of the kingdom of God. Luke 15 describes God's love for the lost. Chapter 16 teaches earthly blessings are far inferior to heavenly rewards. Here, He exhorts His followers to lead well, serve humbly, give thanks, and watch for His second coming. In Luke 18, Jesus gives a series of comparisons to show how we are to approach God—as He approaches Jerusalem and the cross.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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