Mark 13

Mark 13:1

As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”

The temple was the grandest building in Israel. See entry for Matt. 24:1.

Mark 13:2

And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

Not one stone. Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple complex. See entry for Matt. 24:1.

Mark 13:3

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,

The Mount of Olives. Christ’s longest and most astonishing prophecy is known as the Olivet Discourse as it was uttered while he was conversing with his closest friends atop the Mount of Olives. The prophecy, which is recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, was given in response to their questions about the destruction of the temple.

Mark 13:4

“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

(a) These things are the things Jesus has just been discussing, namely the destruction of the temple complex (see Mark 13:2). In Matthew’s account, the disciples also ask about the end of the age and the sign of his coming (Matt. 24:2).

(b) When. The destruction of the temple (and Jerusalem) would be a catastrophic event heralding the end of Jewish civilization. The disciples naturally wanted to know when this would happen.

Mark 13:5–6

And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.

“I am he.” See entry for Matt. 24:4–5.

Mark 13:7

“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.

(a) Wars. See entry for Matt. 24:6.

(b) Those things must take place. Wars have long been part of human existence.

Mark 13:8

“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

(a) Nation. See entry for Luke 21:10.

(b) Earthquakes; see entry for Matt. 24:7.

(c) Famines; see entry for Matt. 24:7.

(d) Birth pangs; see entry for Matt. 24:8.

Mark 13:9

“But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.

(a) Be on your guard. Watch out. Jesus’ warning here is similar to one given in his “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” speech in Matthew 10. “Be shrewd as serpents… and beware of men” (Matt. 10:16–17). Jesus told the disciples what would happen to them to prepare them. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

(b) Flogged in the synagogues. Jesus told the religious leaders that they would scourge and persecute those he sent (Matt. 23:34). Then he told his disciples that they would be scourged and persecuted.

Peter and the apostles were flogged for preaching about Jesus (Acts 5:40). So was Paul (2 Cor. 11:24).

(c) Governors and kings. Jesus told his disciples they would stand before governors and kings and they did. Peter was interrogated by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:5), imprisoned by Herod (Acts 12:1–4), and crucified by Nero.

(d) As a testimony. Testimony means evidence or report. The apostles would give eye-witness accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus to those in positions of power.

Mark 13:10

“The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

(a) The gospel refers to the gospel of Christ or the gospel of God or the gospel of the kingdom. These are all different labels for the gospel of grace. See entry for The Gospel.

(b) Preached. We are instructed to do two things with the gospel; believe it and preach it (see entry for Mark 16:15).

(c) All the nations. The gospel will be preached beyond Judea to the Gentiles.

For Jewish disciples raised under racist religion, this was a new and scandalous idea. But they obeyed and within a generation the gospel was ‘bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world’ (Col. 1:6). Obviously Paul was referring to the known world or the Roman world.

Mark 13:11

“When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.

Do not worry. As they waited in holding cells or were strapped to scourging posts, they remembered the words of Jesus and were encouraged. When brought before the authorities, the Holy Spirit told them what to say, and their inspired speeches were recorded in the scriptures for our edification (e.g., Acts 4:8–13).

Mark 13:12

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.

Some interpret Christ’s words as referring to Christians betraying brothers and sisters, but Jesus is describing the violence and betrayal that marked Judea’s civil war. He is talking about what will happen in the place he is sitting.

Within a generation Jerusalem was torn asunder by betrayal and factional infighting between three groups; the Zealots, the Herodians, and the Idumeans. The betrayal and backstabbing that took place among these groups was Shakespearean in complexity. It was Jew against Jew and brother against brother. Anger that might have been better focused on a common enemy fueled a civil war that was largely confined within the city’s impregnable walls.

Mark 13:13

“You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

The one who endures to the end, he will be saved. If they persecute you in one city, flee to the next
See entry for Matt. 10:22.

Mark 13:14

“But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

(a) Abomination of desolation; see entry for Matt. 24:15.

(b) Those who are in Judea; see entry for Matt. 24:16.

(c) Flee to the mountains; see entry for Matt. 24:16.

Mark 13:15

“The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house;

On the housetop; see entry for Matt. 24:17.

Mark 13:16

and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat.

In the field; see entry for Matt. 24:18.

Mark 13:17

“But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!

(a) Pregnant; see entry for Matt. 24:19.

(b) Nursing babies; see entry for Matt. 24:19.

Mark 13:18

“But pray that it may not happen in the winter.

Winter was not a good time to travel. The roads were muddy and rough, which is why the kings of old waited until spring before going to war (2 Samuel 11:1). Besides, Jesus said flee to the mountains where it would be miserably cold (Mark 13:14).

Mark 13:19

“For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will.

A time of tribulation; see entry for Matt. 24:21.

Mark 13:20

“Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.

(a) Shortened days; see entry for Matt. 24:22.

(b) His elect. In the New Testament believers are referred to as the elect or chosen of God (see entry for 1 Peter 1:1).

Mark 13:21

“And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him;

Here is the Christ; see entry for Matt. 24:23.

Mark 13:22

for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

(a) False Christs and false prophets; see entry for Matt. 24:24.

(b) The elect. Believers; see entry for 1 Peter 1:1.

Mark 13:23

“But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

In other words, “Remember what I have told you and don’t be deceived or troubled when things turn out just as I have spoken.” Jesus’ detailed warnings in here and in Matthew 24 saved the lives of all who heeded him and fled.

Mark 13:24–25

“But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.

(a) The tribulation; see entry for Matt. 24:21.

(b) Sun, moon, stars; see entry for Matt. 24:29.

(c) Heavens will be shaken; see entry for Matt. 24:29.

Mark 13:26

“Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.

Coming in clouds; see entry for Matt.24:30.

Mark 13:27

“And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

(a) His angels; see entry for Matt.24:31.

(b) Gather together; see entry for Matt.24:31.

(c) The elect. Believers; see entry for 1 Peter 1:1.

(d) The four winds are the four corners of the earth. “They will come from east and west and from north and south” (Luke 13:29).

Jesus wanted to gather the Jews, but they were not willing (Matthew 23:37). So now he will send his apostles to gather all who will be drawn, regardless of color or race.

Mark 13:28

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.

Summer; see entry for Matt.24:32.

Mark 13:29

“Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

(a) These things are the things Jesus has been discussing, namely the great distress and destruction associated with the Roman invasion of Judea. See entry for Matt.24:33.

(b) He is near; see entry for Matt.24:33.

Mark 13:30

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

(a) Truly, as in listen up and pay attention. This is for real. Your lives depend on you heeding what I have told you.

(b) This generation; see entry for Matt.24:34.

Mark 13:31

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

(a) Heaven and earth; see entry for Matt.24:35.

(b) My words or my promises. The new covenant, in other words. See entry for Matt.24:35.

Mark 13:32

“But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

(a) But of that day. The end of the age and the return of the Son of Man.

The disciples wanted to know when the temple would fall and when Christ would return (Matt. 24:3). Jesus has just finished answering their first question (within a generation) and now answers their second (no one knows). The first event was predictable – Jesus gave them 40 signposts – but the second is a mystery. The former could be anticipated, but the latter will come like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2).

(b) No one knows when Jesus will return except God the Father.

There are more than 90 scriptures in the New Testament pertaining to the Lord’s final coming, but none of them answers the question of when. God shares many things with his children, but the timing of Christ’s return is not one of them. In his wisdom our heavenly Father has determined that we do not need to know.

Further reading: “When is the Second Coming?

Mark 13:33

“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.

(a) Keep on the alert. You won’t find a clearer or more repeated instruction in scripture: be alert (Matt. 25:13, Mark 13:37, Luke 21:36, 1 Cor. 16:13, Col. 4:2, 1 Th. 5:6). Some translations say keep watch. The implication is that we should be wakeful regarding Christ’s return. Don’t be fuzzy-headed. Don’t be in a spiritual stupor.

(b) You do not know. Those who claim to know when Christ will return are presuming to know more than Jesus (see previous verse).

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