The Supernatural Authority
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (21:33)
The opening phrase of this verse is not mere hyperbole; heaven and earth will indeed pass away. After Christ’s thousand-year earthly kingdom comes to an end, God will destroy the present heaven and earth and create a new heaven and earth. In his second epistle Peter described the destruction of the present universe:
But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.… But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:7, 10–13)
In his vision of the great white throne judgment, John wrote, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them” (Rev. 20:11; cf. 21:1; Isa. 65:17; 66:22).
In contrast, the words of Jesus will not pass away. They are not ephemeral like flowers or grass (Isa. 40:8), but permanent. His word can neither be added to nor taken away from (cf. Deut. 4:2; Matt. 5:17–19; Luke 16:17; Rev. 22:18–19). The Word of God is the same unassailable, unchanging truth whether it speaks of the past, present, or future. Just as Christians were “born again … through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23) and are being sanctified by the “word of His grace” (Acts 20:32), so also will they in the future be glorified, according to the promises of the Word (Rom. 8:17, 30).
33 The reference to the permanence of Jesus’ words is most appropriate here. In comparison to the temporary nature of the heavens and earth, the promises of Jesus will not be left unfulfilled (cf. 16:17). Significantly, while Luke begins the main section of his story with Isaiah 40 (Lk 3:4–6), in this discourse at the end of the earthly life of Jesus the same chapter is evoked where one finds a note on the permanence of God’s promises (“the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever,” Isa 40:8; cf. 50:10–11). Implicit in this saying is the claim that Jesus’ words are to be equated with the promises of God the Father.
21:33 / Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away: This saying implies that Jesus’ very words are equivalent in authority and permanence to the Word of God. Lachs (p. 88) cites the following rabbinic parallel: “Everything has its end, the heavens and earth have their end; only one thing is excepted which has no end, and that is the Law” (Genesis Rabbah 10.1; see also Philo, Life of Moses 2.3).
33. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. The abiding character of Christ’s message, over against the transient nature even of “heaven and earth” in their present condition, is the foundation on which faith can build. See also Isa. 40:8; John 15:7; Col. 3:16; 1 Peter 1:24, 25.
For Practical Lessons and Greek Words, etc., see pp. 945–948.
21:34–38 Exhortation to Watch
Summary of Final
Days in the Temple
Nights on the Mountain
21:33 The atmospheric and stellar heavens would pass away. So would the earth in its present form. But these predictions of the Lord Jesus would not go unfulfilled.
 MacArthur, J. (2014). Luke 18–24 (pp. 249–250). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 308). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (p. 314). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 943–944). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1448). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.