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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Mark 13



Verse 1

1. ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦαὐτῷ. For the constr. see on Mark 5:21 and Mark 9:28; it is repeated below in Mark 13:3. He was leaving the Temple once more to spend the night at Bethany.

εἷς τῶν μαθητῶν. We do not know which; Mt. says “His disciples,” Lk. “some people.”

ἴδε ποταποὶ λίθοι. Like ἰδού, ἄγε, φέρε, we have in ἴδε an exclamation, as the nom. shows. Cf. Mark 3:34, Mark 11:21. Galileans were not familiar with any such edifice, and this alone may have caused the admiring outburst, as the Temple was being viewed in the evening light. But it is likely that the remark “Your house is left unto you desolate” elicted the ποταποί. It was so grievous to think that desolation was in store for such a building. The late Greek ποταπός (here only in Mk) has lost its local signification and is rendered qualis, not cujas. It commonly indicates admiration or surprise. “It is almost impossible to realize the effect produced by a building longer and higher than York Cathedral, standing on a solid mass of masonry almost equal in height to the tallest of church spires” (Wilson, Recovery of Jerusalem, p. 9). The (perhaps exaggerated) description by Josephus (B.J. V. v.) should be read. See also Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospel, with conjectural restoration; Edersheim, Temple, pp. 20 f.

Verse 1-2


Matthew 24:1-3. Luke 21:5-6

Verse 2

2. Βλέπεις. The sentence is possibly interrogative; “Art thou looking at?” But “Thou art looking at” is more forcible.

οὐ μὴοὐ μή. J. H. Moulton states that there are 60 cases of οὐ μή in the Gospels, 54 of which are in actual words of Christ, the remaining 6 being in words addressed to Him (p. 191). Here Mk alone has the double οὐ μή, but Mt. produces the same effect by inserting ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν: “there is not the slightest doubt about the absolute destruction.” Cf. Mark 13:19; Mark 13:30; Joseph. B.J. VII. i. 1. Robinson, Stanley and others tell us how complete the destruction has been. Whole strata of ruins lie beneath the modern Jerusalem. The disciples would think of this magnificent edifice as the centre of the Messianic Kingdom. To hear the Messiah predict its total overthrow must have been a perplexing experience. The ὧδε (see crit. note) is in all three narratives. [3017] Lat-Vet. and Cypr. add, “and in three days another shall rise up without hands,” from Mark 14:58 and John 2:19. WH. App. p. 26. Cf. Daniel 2:34. On Julian’s attempt to rebuild see Socr. H. E. iii. 20.

Verse 3

3. καθημένου αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ. These details seem to come from one who remembered, and from whom they passed into the primitive tradition. Christ was sitting, as often when He gave instruction (Mark 4:1, Mark 9:35; Luke 4:20; Matthew 5:1), on the Mount of Olives, looking across to the Temple. The last detail is in Mk only, and he alone mentions which disciples were with Him.

ἐπηρώτα. Mk’s conversational style appears again. When he used the sing, he was thinking of Peter only, and then he goes on to mention the others who were present and who joined in the desire to know what was asked. See on Mark 4:41. That ἐπηρώτα ([3018][3019][3020] 33) is the original reading, and that ἐπηρώτων is a correction, need not be doubted.

κατʼ ἰδίαν. What He had to reveal was too solemn and critical to be revealed to all the Twelve (John 16:12). The four whom He takes with Him are the two pairs of brothers who were called at the beginning of the Gospel.

Verses 3-13


Matthew 24:3-14. Luke 21:7-19

Verse 4

4. Εἰπὸν ἡμῖν. All three record these two questions, When? and What sign? The disciples want to know how soon the Temple will be destroyed, and what will give warning that the destruction is very near. The sing., τὸ σημεῖον, is in all three; one manifest signal is expected. They accept, without question, that the destruction will take place, just as they accept the equally appalling statement that one of them is a traitor (Mark 14:19). They probably assumed that the end of the world would immediately follow the destruction, an assumption which Christ does not directly correct. Experience would do that, as soon as correction was necessary. Εἰπόν is from the 1st aor. εἶπα.

συντελεῖσθαι. Nowhere else in Mk. It is used of days being completed, Luke 4:2; Acts 21:27; Job 1:5; Tobit 10:7. The πάντα comes last with emphasis, ταῦτα συντ. πάντα being the right order; but the meaning of ταῦτα πάντα is not clear. Christ’s reply is about the Parusia. Mt. here makes use of two expressions which no other Evangelist employs, παρουσία and συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος.

Verse 5

5. ἤρξατο. The verb is not pleonastic; He is beginning a new course of instruction. Cf. Mark 8:31, Mark 12:1. This is the longest of Christ’s utterances in Mk. The only other connected discourses of Christ which Mk gives us are parables, and of those he has only four, against twenty-three in Lk. We need not reject this discourse because it is unique in this Gospel, any more than we need reject the one parable which is peculiar to Mk.

Βλέπετε μή. He takes the second question first, and, as often, gives no direct reply. Instead of telling them of some manifest signal, He bids them be on their guard against false signals. A great deal must take place before the end comes and there will be much deception. All three have βλέπετε μή, and his charge, to “be on their guard,” is the main lesson of the chapter; it recurs Mark 13:9; Mark 13:23; Mark 13:33 : ἄλλο τοίνυν ἠρώτησαν, ἄλλο ἀποκρίνεται (Victor).

ὑμᾶς πλανήσῃ. Lead you astray (R.V.). Cf. Mark 12:24; Mark 12:27. The verb is freq. in the Johannine and Pauline writings, and it is used of serious departure from the truth. see on 1 John 1:8.

Verse 6

6. ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες ὅτι Ἐγώ εἰμι. It is obvious that ἐπὶ τῷ ὀν. μου cannot here mean “for My sake” or “with My authority” (Mark 9:37-39); it means “usurping My title.” Impostors will claim to be the Messiah, as Mt. turns it. And here at once we have some indication that Christ’s predictions about the future have become somewhat confused in tradition, words respecting the end of the world becoming mixed with words respecting the destruction of the Temple. None of the seducing leaders who arose between A.D. 30 and 70, e.g. Theudas and the Egyptian (Acts 5:36; Acts 21:38), seem to have professed to be the Messiah. Simon Magus (Acts 8:9) may be regarded as an ἀντίχριστος (1 John 2:18) but not as a ψευδόχριστος (Mark 13:22). Thus far Mk has told us nothing of Christ’s prediction of His return; yet here He speaks of it as an event with which the disciples were familiar. The idea that the end of the world will be preceded by a great intensification of evil occurs in various places of the N.T.; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Timothy 3:1; 1 John 2:18; 2 Peter 3:3; Judges 1:18.

Verse 7

7. πολέμους καὶ ἀκοὰς πολ. Josephus and Tacitus tell us of plenty; see esp. Tac. Hist. i. 2. For ἀκοάς see on Mark 1:28.

δεῖ γένεσθαι. In all three; from Daniel 2:29; cf. Revelation 1:1. God has so decreed. Cf. Mark 13:10 and Mark 8:31 and mark the characteristic asyndeton; γάρ in Mark 13:5; Mark 13:7 is an interpolation. “The epigrammatic brevity of Mk is specially striking in this context” (Swete).

οὔπω τὸ τέλος. Not yet is the end; Looking back to the disciples’ question about συντεῖσθαι.

Verse 8

8. ἐγερθήσεται κ.τ.λ. Almost verbatim the same in all three. Only here is ἐγειρ. ἐπί τινα found in N.T. Cf. ἐπεγερθήσονται Αἰγύπτιοι ἐπʼ Αἰγυπτίουςπόλις ἐπὶ πόλιν καὶ νομὸς ἐπὶ νομόν (Isaiah 19:2). Thus far (6, 7, 8 a) we have had religious and social corruptions and conflicts; the disciples are now told that certain natural portents will precede the end, earthquakes and famines, to which some texts add a third. See crit. note.

ὠδίνων. Of travail (R.V.) is better than “of sorrows” (A.V.). But it is not certain that the idea of “birth-pangs” is to be understood, the pangs which accompany the birth of a new dispensation. That idea belongs more to the persecutions which are mentioned next (9–13).

Verse 9

9. βλέπετε δὲ ὑμεῖς ἑαυτούς. Mk only. The pronouns are in emphatic juxtaposition. “Let other people attend to these disturbances in society and in nature; but do ye look to yourselves.” This use of βλέπω is very rare, but it has been found in a papyrus-letter of A.D. 41; βλέπω σεαυτόν. The reflexive ἑαυτούς with the second person is freq. in N.T. (Mark 9:50), esp. in Paul; ὑμῶν αὐτῶν, κ.τ.λ. is rare (1 Corinthians 5:13). Syr-Sin. omits the words.

παραδώσουσιν. “Your fellow-countrymen will hand you over to councils,” i.e. to the elders of the local synagogues, who as religious magistrates had considerable authority. See on Luke 12:11; Luke 21:12. Saul of Tarsus was among the first who fulfilled this prediction as a persecuting Jew, and later as a persecuted Christian. see on 2 Corinthians 11:24. In Matthew 10:17-20 and Luke 12:11-12 we have passages similar to this. They may be doublets; but it is not impossible that these cautions were given more than once.

καὶ εἰς συναγωγάς. These words are amphibolous and are commonly taken with what follows as a pregnant constr.; “and ye shall be taken into synagogues and beaten”; see on Mark 13:3; Mark 13:16. “Ye shall be beaten into the synagogues,” i.e. driven into them with whips, is certainly wrong. It is better to take the words with what precedes; They will deliver you up to councils and to synagogues; ye will be beaten. This harmonizes well with the abruptness of the preceding verses. Syr-Sin. has “They shall deliver you up to the people and to councils; and ye shall stand before kings and ye shall be beaten before governors for My sake, for a testimony to them, and to all nations.”

ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ. Cf. Mark 8:35, Mark 10:29.

εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς. Testimony to the rulers and kings, who, but for the persecution of Christians, might never have known about Christ. This applies to both Jewish and heathen potentates: St James and St Peter persecuted by Herod Agrippa I. illustrate the former; St Paul before Festus and Herod Agrippa II. illustrates both. A sagacious person might have seen that what is predicted here was probable. Even those who do not admit that Jesus had supernatural foresight need not suppose that this is a pseudoprophecy, constructed to fit the persecutions of Apostles, and attributed to Christ.

Verse 10

10. εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. First, with emphasis. Gentile readers would appreciate the significance of this, which is clearly brought out in Mk. Cf. Mark 11:17; Mark 14:9. The Gospel is for all mankind.

δεῖ κηρυχθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγ. A glorious compensation for the δεῖ γενέσθαι in Mark 13:7. It is a Divine decree that to all the nations, before the end comes, the good tidings must be proclaimed. Note the order of the words. See on Mark 1:14-15, and cf. Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47. It is probable that in all three Gospels this eschatological discourse is augmented by the insertion of Sayings, the setting of which had been lost. Hence the difficulty of interpreting it as a whole.

Verse 11

11. προμεριμνᾶτε. Be anxious beforehand. Lk. has the more classical προμελετᾷν. Cf. Aristoph. Eccl. 117; Plato Soph. 218 D. This charge shows the meaning of “take heed to yourselves”; not that they are to endeavour to escape, but that they are to acquit themselves worthily. They will have Divine help to bear testimony.

ὃ ἐὰν δοθῇλαλεῖτε. This has O.T. parallels; ἐγὼ ἀνοίξω τὸ στόμα σου, καὶ συμβιβάσω σε ὃ μέλλεις λαλῆσαι (Exodus 4:12); τὸ ῥῆμα ὃ ἐὰν εἴπω πρός σε, τοῦτο φυλάξῃ λαλῆσαι (Numbers 22:35); δέδωκα τοὺς λόγους μου εἰς τὸ στόμα σου (Jeremiah 1:9). There is here no encouragement to ministers to preach without preparation. It is those who are suddenly called upon to defend the faith before a persecuting tribunal that may trust to the inspiration of the moment.

τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον. Double article as in Mark 12:36. In Luke 21:15 Jesus promises that He Himself will supply wisdom. In Luke 12:12 it is the Holy Spirit, as here.

Verse 12

12. παραδώσει ἀδελφός. In Mark 13:9, παραδώσουσιν is impersonal. Here we are told who they are that will do this thing—“they of a man’s own household” (Matthew 10:36); nec ullus est inter eos fidus affectus, quorum diversa fides est (Bede). This deadly division in families is predicted Micah 7:1-6; cf. Ezekiel 22:7; Ezekiel 38:21. It was regarded as a special feature in the Woes of the Messiah; 2 Esdras 6:24; 2 Esdras 13:30-32. Cf. Enoch c. 1; “Brothers will fall in death one with another, until it streams with their blood like a river.”

ἐπαναστήσονται. The verb implies rebellion against authority (Judges 9:18; 2 Samuel 22:40; etc.). Note the plur. verbs, marking the numerous separate instances of such conduct.

θανατώσουσιν. All three have this verb, which in class. Grk is used of executions. In Enoch c. 2 it is the fathers who put the sons to death.

Verse 13

13. καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι. Verbatim the same in all three. The analytical fut. marks the hatred as a process continually going on; cf. Mark 13:25. It will have its compensations, τὸ γὰρ ἕνεκεν αὐτοῦ μισεῖσθαι, ἱκανόν ἐστι πάσας ἐπικουφίσαι τὰς συμφοράς (Theoph.). On the causes of this universal hatred of Christians see Plummer, Church of the Early Fathers, pp. 150 f.

ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος, οὗτος σωθήσεται. Mt. has the same, but Lk. interprets, “In your endurance ye shall win your souls.” Not εἰς τὸ τέλος, the end spoken of in Mark 13:7, but εἰς τέλος, “finally” or “to the uttermost,” which is better here, as in 1 Thessalonians 2:16. See on John 13:1 and Ryle and James on Ps. Song of Solomon 1:1. In the Epp. and in Rev. ὑπομονή is freq. as a special virtue of Christians, and it cannot be won without affliction (Romans 5:3). It means courageous endurance without despondency. See Lightfoot on Colossians 1:11; Trench, Syn. § 53. With this use of οὗτος comp. that in Mark 13:11, Mark 6:16, Mark 12:10; that of ἐκεῖνος in Mark 7:20 is similar. For σωθήσεται in the spiritual sense see Mark 8:35, Mark 10:36.

Verse 14

14. Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε. Christ is still dealing with the disciples’ second question, What warning signal will there be? Thus far He has said no more than that a great deal will happen before the end comes. Now He tells them that the intrusion of “the abomination of desolation” into “a holy place” (Mt.), will be a warning to believers to leave Judaea. According to O.T. usage, βδέλυγμα means any idolatrous object, whether person or thing, such as must excite disgust and abhorrence in every Jew (1 Kings 21:26; 2 Kings 16:3; etc.). “The abomination of desolation” means that which causes desolation by bringing disaster and ruin. As Mt. points out, the phrase comes from Daniel (Mark 11:31; cf. Mark 9:17; Mark 9:27, Mark 12:11; and see on 1 Maccabees 1:54; 1 Maccabees 1:59). Heathen Rome is here indicated.

ἑστηκότα. See crit. note. The temptation to correct the faulty grammar would be great, esp. to ἑστός, which Mt. has here. But ἑστηκότα is no slip of the pen. The masc. shows that the βδέλυγμα is regarded as a person, either in fact or by personification. Cf. καὶ τότε φανήσεται ὁ κοσμοπλάνος (Didache xvi. 4). We may understand the Roman general or the Roman army. Loisy suggests “Satan, or his instrument,” Antichrist, which is not probable. Syr-Sin. has “the sign of the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not,” which is right as interpretation.

ὅπου οὐ δεῖ. Mt. makes this more definite by writing ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ, “in a holy place,” which may mean the Holy Land (2 Maccabees 2:18).

ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω. Let him that readeth understand. Readeth what? The parenthesis is in Mt. also, but not in Lk. In Mt. the meaning might be “he that readeth the passage in Daniel,” for Daniel has just been mentioned as the source of the quotation. But that meaning is much less possible here, for neither Daniel nor any other writing has been mentioned, and Mk could hardly expect Gentile readers to know that the allusion was to Daniel. It is much more probable that in the parenthesis we have, not Christ’s words calling attention to those of Daniel, but the Evangelist’s words calling attention to those of Christ. At the time when he was writing, the signal which Christ had indicated seemed to be in preparation; the Romans had not yet laid siege to Jerusalem, but it was probable that they would do so, and the abomination might soon be in a holy place. Therefore Christians in Judaea, when they read this Gospel, ought to be preparing for flight. If this is correct, the date of the Gospel can hardly be later than A.D. 67. Lk. omits the parenthetical remark; when he wrote, the destruction of Jerusalem had taken place and the warning would be meaningless. Cf. Revelation 1:3, where ὁ ἀναγινώσκων must refer to the reader of that writing.

τότε οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳτὰ ὄρη. These important words are the same in all three. The tradition as to the counsel given by the Lord was constant. “Judaea” sometimes, esp. in Lk., means “the Land of the Jews,” Palestine; but here it probably means “the province of Judaea,” as everywhere else in Mk (Mark 1:5, Mark 3:7, Mark 10:1), and “the mountains” are the mountains of Judaea. In 1 Maccabees 2:28, Mattathias and his sons ἕφυγον εἰς τὰ ὄρη, forsaking all that they had in the city. The mountains of Judaea were full of eaves and recesses, whence Mattathias carried on a guerrilla warfare against the forces of Epiphanes. These retreats had often been hiding places for Israel. Eusebius (H. E. iii. 5) tells us that the Christians in Jerusalem received a revelation before the war, in consequence of which they fled to Pella in Peraea, the modern Tabakât Fahil. Pella is not in the mountains, but in the valley of the Jordan, so that this warning cannot have been invented afterwards to fit the facts. The Christians may have felt that they were not safe in the mountains, and may have fled on across the Jordan to Pella. Moreover, the story in Eusebius refers to the Christians in Jerusalem; Christ’s warning is given to all those in Judaea. Lawlor (Eusebiana, Lect. i.) has shown that both Eusebius and Epiphanius probably got what they have to tell us about the flight to Pella from Hegesippus, who may have known some of the fugitives.

Verses 14-23


Matthew 24:15-25. Luke 21:20-24

Verse 15

15. ὁ ἐπὶ τοῦ δώματος. Lk. gives these words in a very different context and with a spiritual meaning, to teach that indifference to worldly interests is the attitude in which to be ready for the Second Advent (Luke 17:31). The meaning here and in Mt. is literal, and intimates that, when once the danger-signal has arisen, no thought of saving property must be allowed to delay flight. The flat roof of houses was used for many purposes, and there were generally outside steps up to it (Luke 2:4), and by these steps escape would be most quickly made. But the manner of descent is immaterial; it is going down with a view to save property that is condemned as folly.

Verse 16

16. ὁ εἰς τὸν ἀγρόν. Perhaps, “The man who has gone to his field.” But, in late Greek, εἰς answers both Whither? and Where? cf. Mark 1:39, Mark 10:10; in both places inferior texts substitute ἐν for εἰς. In Cornwall “up to” = “at.” Here Mt. has ἐν. Blass § 39. 3. See on Mark 13:27.

εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω. Freq. in the Gospels (Luke 9:62; Luke 17:31; John 6:66; John 18:6; John 20:14; cf. Philippians 3:13), and in LXX. “The passage recalls Lot’s escape from Sodom, Genesis 19:17” (Swete).

τὸ ἱμάτιον αὐτοῦ. Almost indispensable for a journey (Acts 12:8): nevertheless the risk in going back to fetch it would be too great. The man would leave it behind in going to work and would wear only a χιτών (Mark 6:9) = “shirt,” or a σινδών (Mark 14:51) = “loin-cloth.” Cf. Virg. Geor. i. 299. See on Mark 10:50.

Verse 17

17. οὐαί. This “woe” is the same in all three; but “woe” is not the best translation. In passages like Matthew 23 and Luke 6:24-26 the word suggests an imprecation; “Alas for” is better both here and Mark 14:21, as elsewhere in N.T. The word is freq. in Rev., Is., Jer. Cf. Epict. Dis. iii. 19 sub init. where the ἰδιώτης says οὐαί μοι διὰ τὸ παιδάριον,

θηλαζούσαις. Used both of the mothers (here) and of the children (Matthew 21:16); so also in LXX. [3021] here has θηλαζομέναις. “Alas for those women who are unable quickly to fly from home!”

Verse 18

18. χειμῶνος. Gen. of time (Matthew 2:14; John 3:2; Acts 9:24). Either “in stormy weather” or “in winter” makes good sense, but the former is better (Matthew 16:3; Acts 27:20). Here prayer for temporal advantages is clearly sanctioned. Mt. shows Jewish feeling in adding μηδὲ σαββάτῳ. But Mk may have omitted this as having no interest for Gentile readers. Lk. is altogether different.

Verse 19

19. θλίψις. See on Mark 4:17. The word is appropriate here as indicating the pressure of the siege; but there is no need to expand the meaning into “one prolonged tribulation.” As often in Mk, the sentence is quite intelligible, but is rather awkwardly expressed; tribulation such as there has not been such. Blass 50. 2, 4. Josephus (Preface to B.J. 4) says that in his estimate the calamities of the Jews exceeded those of all mankind from the beginning of the world. Cf. Exodus 9:18; Deuteronomy 4:32.

οὐ μὴ γένηται. And assuredly never shall be; see on Mark 13:2. The Lord looks forward into the limitless future. Cf. Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 30:7; 1 Maccabees 9:27 : Assumption of Moses viii. 1. These current phrases look to the past, but Christ includes the ages to come.

Verse 20

20. ἐκολόβωσεν. Lit. “amputated,” and so “curtailed”; in 2 Samuel 4:12 of cutting off hands and feet. God has decided to shorten the days, and they are regarded as shortened.

κύριος. Elsewhere in Mk this use of Κύριος without the art. is found only in quotations; Mark 1:3, Mark 11:9, Mark 12:11; Mark 12:29-30; Mark 12:36. It is freq. in Luke 1, 2. The duration of “those days” is not indicated.

οὐκ ἂν ἐσώθη πᾶσα σάρξ. Hebraistic. The negative belongs to the verb and πᾶσα σάρξ is one term; “the whole of mankind would have been not saved” = “no flesh would have been saved.” In other words, οὐ πᾶς = “no one,” not (as in class. Grk) “not every one.” Cf. Luke 1:37; Romans 3:20; 1 Corinthians 1:29; Galatians 2:16. “All flesh” is a common Hebraism for the human race; Luke 3:6; John 17:2; Acts 2:17; etc. The siege lasted only from April or May to September, but the loss of life was immense; and it would have been greater, but for “the elect,” whose presence and prayers secured a shortening of the time of destruction. “The elect” probably means the believers who were true to their high calling. See the Apocalypse of Baruch xxi. 2, lxxxiii. 1–6; Enoch i. 1. The superfluous ἐξελέξατο is in Mk’s style; see on Mark 1:32, Mark 6:25. It is not in Mt.

Verse 21

21. καὶ τότε. “It will be a time of great excitement and much fanaticism, and those who are looking for signs will be easily misled; therefore be on your guard against impostors.” In the Sermon Christ points out that at all times, if we want to find the right way, we must beware of seducing guides (Matthew 7:15-20).

Ἴδε ὧδε κ.τ.λ. Mt’s expansion of this is characteristic, as also is Mk’s simplicity.

μὴ πιστεύετε. Not “cease to believe,” as μὴ φοβεῖσθε (Mark 6:50) and μἠ κωλύετε (Mark 10:14), but “continually abstain from believing,” as μὴ προμεριμνᾶτε (Mark 13:11). Mt. here has aorists.

Verse 22

22. ψευδόχριστοι. We know of none at this time who claimed to be the Messiah, but the word seems to have been loosely used as meaning much the same as ἀντίχριστοι (1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7).

ψευδοπροφῆται. Cf. Acts 13:6; Revelation 19:20; Didache 11. It was, of course, much easier to pretend to be a prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1) than to pretend to be the Messiah; and fanatics would have this delusion more easily than the other. See on 1 John 4:1. Syr-Sin. has “prophets of lies.”

σημεῖα. Things, whether frequent or rare, which have a meaning beyond their own qualities.

τέρατα. Things which excite amazement or terror, but without necessarily having any meaning. Supernatural acts are often in N.T. called σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα, and often σημεῖα, esp. in Jn, but never σημεῖα alone. See on 2 Corinthians 12:12.

πρὀς τό ἀποπλανᾶν. “With a view to leading away from the right path.” In 2 Chronicles 21:11 the verb is coupled with ἐκπορνεύω of leading into idolatry, and is used in Proverbs 8:21 of seduction by an adulteress. Cf. 1 Timothy 6:10.

εἰ δυνατόν. Cf. Mark 14:35; Romans 12:18. Si potest fieri (Vulg.).

τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς. See crit. note. “Even the elect” (A.V.) is right in Mt., but not here.

Verse 23

23. ὑμεῖς δέ. But do ye (whatever others may do) take heed (Mark 13:5; Mark 13:9; Mark 13:33, Mark 4:24; with ἀπό, Mark 8:15, Mark 12:38).

προείρηκα ὑμῖν πάντα. The πάντα is qualified by the context, “all that is necessary for your guidance”; cf. Mark 6:30, Mark 9:23, Mark 11:24. He had not foretold the exact date for which they had asked. The verb occurs nowhere else in the Gospels.

Verse 24

24. ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις. Very indefinite; see on Mark 1:9. We may believe that this is nearer to the expression actually used than the εὐθέως of Mt. Mt. wrote at a time when it was believed that the Second Advent would quickly follow the fall of Jerusalem, and, as often, he gives his interpretations as having been actually spoken; see on Mark 8:29, Mark 9:29, Mark 10:19; Mark 10:28; Mark 10:33; Mark 10:38; Mark 10:40. Christ showed that His Coming would not save Jerusalem from destruction but would follow that destruction. That it would follow quickly (Revelation 22:20) was a wrong inference which experience corrected: ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων (Mark 13:8) and πρῶτον δεῖ (Mark 13:10) imply that the interval would not be short. The language here used is highly symbolical, such as is found in the Prophets and in the apocalyptic literature of the Jews. Cf. Isaiah 13:10, Isaiah 34:4; Ezekiel 32:7-8; Amos 8:9; Joel 2:30-31; Joel 3:5. It intimates that mighty results follow when God shows His hand in the government of the world. “It is needless to minimize these words into eclipses or meteoric showers, or to magnify them into actual destruction of sun and moon and stars. They are not events, but only imaginative portrayal of what it means for God to interfere in the history of the nations” (Gould). All three Gospels here speak of catastrophic changes of nature which probably represent catastrophic changes in the social and spiritual world. Guesses as to their exact meaning are not very profitable.

μετὰ τ. θλίψιν ἐκείνην. After the overthrow of Jerusalem.

σκοτισθήσεται. Cf. Luke 23:45; Revelation 6:12; Revelation 8:12 : also the Testaments, Levi iv. 1; Enoch lxxx. 2–7; Assumption of Moses x. 5, where we read that the sun will not give light, the horns of the moon will be broken and turned to darkness, and the circle of the stars will be shaken.

Verses 24-27


Matthew 24:29-31. Luke 21:25-28

Verse 25

25. ἔσονταιπίπτοντες. Analytical future, as in Mark 13:13; “the stars will be continually falling.” Cf. Luke 5:10; Luke 17:35; Luke 21:24.

αἱ δυνάμειςσαλευθήσονται. In all three. Isaiah (Isaiah 34:4) has these phenomena in reverse order; τακήσονται πᾶσαι αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶνκαὶ πάντα τὰ ἄστρα πεσεῖται. Cf. Isaiah 40:26. Neither here nor in 1 Corinthians 15:40 are the heavenly bodies regarded as animated; the δυνάμεις in Ephesians 1:21 and 1 Peter 3:22 are different, being akin to angelic powers.

Verse 26

26. καὶ τότε. “Then, and not till then.” Mt. has “on the clouds” (ἐπί); with that exception, all three have the same wording.

ὄψονται. Not, “ye shall see.” This is another intimation that those whom He is addressing will not live to see the Second Advent. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:8; Revelation 19:11-16; Zechariah 12:10. Mt. has “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man.”

τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. The ref. to Daniel 7:13 is clear, as also in Mark 14:62; see Driver, ad loc. pp. 102–109; Westcott on John 1:14, pp. 71–74. Early in the Ministry Christ seems to have begun to use the title “Son of Man” of Himself (see on Mark 2:10), and to have made the application to Himself gradually more clear (see on Mark 8:31). But here for the first time He is said to have definitely connected it with the famous prophecy in Daniel.

ἐν νεφέλαις. Mt. has “on the clouds of heaven” (bis), Lk. “in a cloud,” Dan. “with the clouds of heaven,” Rev. “with the clouds.” We must not insist on a literal interpretation of these words; the clouds may be part of the symbolism. It is God who moves the clouds (Isaiah 19:1; Psalms 104:3); and they accompany “the destined Possessor of universal dominion” (Dalman, Words, pp. 242–9).

Verse 27

27. ἀποστελεῖ τ. ἀγγέλους. See crit. note. Although αὐτοῦ is probably not genuine, we may translate “His Angels”; cf. Mark 4:26; Mark 4:36, Mark 6:32, Mark 7:2. It is of more moment to make clear that the elect are His than that the Angels are (John 6:37; John 6:39; John 10:14; John 10:16; John 10:27-29; John 17:2; John 17:6; John 17:9; John 17:24).

ἐκ τεσσάρων ἀνέμων. A colloquial expression found in both O.T. and N.T. It occurs in a papyrus of the second cent. A.D. (Deissmann, Bib. St. p. 248). The sentence is an echo of Deuteronomy 30:4 and Zechariah 2:6. The meaning is obvious. Cf. Jeremiah 29:14; Jeremiah 32:37.

ἀπʼ ἄκρου γῆς κ.τ.λ. The meaning of this is less obvious. “From the ends of heavens to their ends” (Mt.) means “throughout the whole extent of the heavens.” But here the antithesis between earth and heaven, while it gives a great impression of vastness, is less easy to understand. It seems to mean “throughout space in all directions.” However remote a corner of the universe may be, if any of the elect are there, they will be remembered and gathered in. Cf. 2 Maccabees 1:27; 2 Maccabees 2:7. For Christ’s mention of Angels see on Mark 8:38 and Mark 12:25.

Verse 28

28. Ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς. Now from the fig-tree; generic, any fig-tree. Often in parables the art. is thus used; ὁ σπείρων (Mark 4:3), ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός (John 10:11), ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος (Matthew 12:35). Fig-trees and olive-trees are specially common in Palestine, but the latter, as being evergreen, would not have served for this lesson. Lk., writing for those to whom the fig-tree might not be familiar, adds καὶ πάντα τὰ δένδρα.

τὴν παραβολήν. As with τοὺς ἀγγέλους (Mark 13:27), we may regard the art. as possessive, “her parable” (R.V.). Here and in Mt., A.V. ignores the art., “a parable.” See on Mark 4:3.

ὅταν ἤδη. “Whenever this has already taken place.”

καὶ ἐκφύῃ τὰ φύλλα. And putteth forth its leaves (R.V.). This avoids change of nominative. Lk. has προβάλλω without accusative. Both φύω and ἐκφύω are used transitively in LXX. But some MSS. and versions favour ἐκφυῇ, “and the leaves spring forth,” et nata fuerint folia (Vulg.).

γινώσκετε. See crit. note. Cognoscitis (Vulg.); “ye recognize,” “your experience tells you.” The remark is true of everyone, and there is no emphatic ὑμεῖς.

τὸ θέρος. Only in this passage in N.T. It certainly means “the summer” and not “the harvest,” which would be ὁ θερισμός (Mark 4:29). Cf. Song of Solomon 2:11-13.

Verse 28-29


Matthew 24:22-23. Luke 21:29-31

Verse 29

29. οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς. In Mark 7:18, where no comparison is drawn, καί belongs to ὑμεῖς, “ye also.” Here it strengthens οὕτως, even so ye, as often (John 5:21; Romans 5:18; Romans 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:22; etc.). “Also” may have much the same effect as “even,” but we do not need both as in R.V. The ὑμεῖς is emphatic; “anyone can recognize the signs of the fig-tree, but you disciples must recognize the signs of the times”; ταῦτα is not the end, but the signs of the end.

γινώσκετε. This may be indic., as in Mark 13:28, but it is probably like μάθετε in Mark 13:28, imperat. Scitote (Vulg.). There are many passages in which a similar doubt arises, esp. in Jn (Mark 5:39, Mark 12:19, Mark 14:1, Mark 15:18; Mark 15:27) and in 1 Jn (1 John 2:27; 1 John 2:29, 1 John 4:2).

ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν. The nom. is left indefinite, and it is probably impersonal, “the End” (Mark 13:7), or “the Kingdom” (Lk.), or “the time” (Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:10); but R.V. makes it personal, “He” (James 5:9; Philippians 4:5). The difference is not great. Lk. omits ἐπὶ θύραις, which illustrates Mk’s love of fulness. It is a popular expression for nearness; ἐπὶ τῇ θύρᾳ (Acts 5:9). For the sense cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22.

Verse 30

30. ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν. This important Saying (30, 31), with its solemn introduction, has nearly the same wording in all three.

οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ. Shall assuredly not pass away; cf. Mark 13:2; Mark 13:19, Mark 9:1; Mark 9:41, Mark 10:15.

ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη. Here, as elsewhere in the Gospels (see on Mark 8:12) this expression can hardly mean anything else than Christ’s own contemporaries; see esp. Matthew 23:36. To make it mean the Jewish race, or the race of believers, or the whole race of mankind, is not satisfactory. But, if any of these be adopted, the sentence is only an expansive way of saying that some persons in some period will see the fulfilment of the predictions. If Christ’s own generation is meant, then we may suppose that either [1] tradition has confused what was said of the destruction of Jerusalem with what was said of the End; or [2] the destruction, as removing Judaism, the great obstacle of the Gospel, was the beginning of the End; or [3] the destruction of Jerusalem is a symbol of the End and is treated as identical with it.

Verses 30-32


Matthew 24:34-36. Luke 21:32-33

Verse 31

31. ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ. The saying is proverbial for what stands for ever. The material universe will one day come to an end, but Christ’s words will always hold good. Cf. 2 Peter 3:10; Hebrews 1:11-12; Revelation 20:11; Revelation 21:1; Psalms 102:25-27; Psalms 104:29-31; Isaiah 51:6.

οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου. Not merely this prediction, but the whole of His teaching. Cf. οἱ ἐμοὶ λόγοι (Mark 8:38) and ὁ ἐμὸς λόγος (John 8:31). The great revelation of the Father’s love to His children holds good for ever.

Verse 32

32. περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης. This can hardly mean anything else than the great day which will bring to an end αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι (Mark 13:17; Mark 13:19; Mark 13:24), the day of the Advent (Mark 14:25; Luke 21:34; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 4:8). If for a moment the downfall of Jerusalem has been treated as representing the End, this verse (to which there is no parallel in Lk.) definitely distinguishes the two. Christ has given signs by which those who are on the alert may recognize the nearness of the downfall. He now, in very clear and emphatic language, tells His disciples that He can give no hint as to the time of His Advent. He Himself does not know. This is a saying which no Christian would have invented and attributed to Christ. Interpolation (Ambrose) is not credible.

οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι. Not even the Angels; cf. Mark 5:3, Mark 6:31, Mark 8:17, Mark 12:10. Here again Christ solemnly teaches that Angels exist (see on Mark 8:38, Mark 12:25) and He has just stated (Mark 13:27) that Angels will take part in the stupendous events of that Day. Cf. Matthew 13:41; Matthew 13:49; Matthew 25:31; Matthew 26:53.

οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός. Nor yet the Son. The other Evangelists represent Christ as speaking of “the Son” in the same absolute manner; Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 5:19; John 6:40; John 17:1. We have οὐοὐδὲοὐδὲMatthew 6:26; Matthew 12:19 and Revelation 5:3; cf. Revelation 9:4. It was not for any man, not even the Son of Man Himself, “to know times and seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority” (Acts 1:7). After the Resurrection Christ does not say that He is ignorant; but at this crisis He was not yet glorified, and in this, as in many other things, He condescended to share the ignorance of His disciples; see on Mark 6:5; Mark 6:38, Mark 8:5; Mark 8:22, Mark 9:21, Mark 11:13; John 11:34. The meaning would seem to be, “The Father has not revealed this, not even to Me, the Son.” This, of course refers to the Son as He then was, incarnate and not yet glorified. See Gore, Dissertations, pp. 77–88.

εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ. This goes back to οὐδεὶς οἶδεν: “no one, except the Father,” to which Mt. adds “alone” (μόνος), which covers οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός, words which in Mt. are omitted in important witnesses, but are probably to be retained. That the Father knows this season and day is stated in O.T. (Zechariah 14:7) and in Ps. Sol. 17:23, “Behold, O Lord, and raise up unto them their King, the Son of David, in the time which Thou, O God, knowest” (εἰς τὸν καιρὸν ὃν οἶδας σὺ, ὁ Θεός). Dalman, Words, p. 287.

Verse 33

33. βλέπετε. See crit. note and cf. Mark 13:5; Mark 13:9; Mark 13:23. It is a thread which runs through the whole discourse.

ἀγρυπνεῖτε. Be vigilant, “Do not allow yourselves to slumber” (ἄγρυπνος = ἄϋπνος). Neither A.V. nor R.V. distinguishes between this and γρηγορεῖτε (Mark 13:37). The verbs differ little in meaning and in LXX. translate the same Hebrew; moreover St Paul uses them indifferently (Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2); but a change in the Greek should be marked by a change in the English. See on 1 Thessalonians 5:6. Here Mt. has γρηγορεῖτε. Note the characteristic asyndeton and see on Mark 10:14.

ὁ καιρός. “The Divinely appointed”; see on Mark 1:15. Mt. has “the day, nor yet the hour.”

Verses 33-37


Matthew 25:13-15. Luke 21:36

Verse 34

34. ὡς ἄνθρωπος. Again a characteristic asyndeton (Mt. inserts γάρ), and a characteristically unskilful constr. There is no apodosis to ὡς (Blass § 78. 1), and forgetting that he has used no finite verb Mk inserts καί before τῷ θυρ. ἐνετείλατο. It is possible that we here have a Hebraism; “It is as when a man”; but to make ὡς look back to ἀγρυπνεῖτε is a forced constr., unlike Mk.

ἀπόδημος. “Gone abroad”; nowhere else in Bibl. Grk. Cf. ἀποδημέω (Mark 12:1; Matthew 21:33; Matthew 25:14; etc.).

ἀφεὶς τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ. Superfluous after ἀπόδημος and omitted by Mt. See on Mark 1:32, Mark 6:25. For the combination of participles see on Mark 1:15.

τοῖς δούλοιςτὴν ἐξουσίαν. To the whole body of his slaves he gave the necessary authority to act during his absence.

ἑκάστῳ τὸ ἔργον. To each individual slave he assigned his proper work.

καὶ τῷ θυρωρῷ. R.V. saves the constr. by rendering καί “also”; but confused constructions are so common in Mk that this refinement is less probable. Cf. Mark 3:16-18, Mark 4:15; Mark 4:26; Mark 4:31, Mark 6:8-9, Mark 7:2-5; Mark 7:11-12, etc. See on John 10:3. Neither there nor here is it necessary to give any definite meaning to the door-keeper (John 18:16). Euthymius makes him to be τὸν ἑκάστου νοῦν, τὸν ἐπιστατοῦντα ταῖς θυρίσι τῆς ψυχῆς. The general lesson of the parable is that all are to watch. Pastors and rulers of the Church may be meant; but the οἰκονόμος (Luke 12:42; Luke 16:1-8) would seem to represent them (1 Corinthians 4:1; Titus 1:7). Does θυρωρός look back to ἐπὶ θυραῖς (Mark 13:29)?

γρηγορῇ. A late verb, formed from ἐγρήγορα.

Verse 35

35. πότε ὁ κύριος. The same as πότε ὁ καιρός (Mark 13:23) and ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνη (Mark 13:32). See Edersheim, The Temple and its Services, p. 120, for striking parallels to this verse.

ἢ ὀψέ. See on Mark 6:48. These are not technical terms, but popular expressions; ἀλεκτοροφωνία occurs nowhere else in Bibl. Grk, but it is found in Aesop’s Fables, 79. Gallicinium is used in a similar way as a popular term for “before dawn,” like our “cock-crow”; noctis gallicinio venit quidam juvenis (Appuleius, Met. 8). The mixture of two adverbs with two substantives, one the acc. of time the other the gen. of time, is quite in Mk’s conversational style; “late, midnight, at cockcrow, or early.”

Verse 36

36. μὴ ἐλθών. Cf. Luke 12:37-38; 1 Thessalonians 5:6.

ἐξαίφνης. If the suddenness causes disaster, the fault lies with those who have not watched. They were warned beforehand that the Coming might be sudden.

Verse 37

37. πᾶσιν λέγω. “No one may think that the warning given to a few disciples is no concern of his; the warning is given to all believers.” It was probably given more than once and in more than one form. It has been preserved in more than one form and in a variety of settings, but this and Mark 14:38 are the only places in Mk, who in this chapter may have included words spoken on other occasions. Cf. Matthew 24:37-51; Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 12:35-40; Luke 17:26-35; Luke 21:34-36. Contrast Ezekiel 3:16-21; Ezekiel 33:1-9, where the responsibility is laid on the Prophet.

In his Introduction to Revelation 1-3 (p. xiii) Hort says: “It has long been a favourite idea with some Continental writers, an entirely mistaken one, I believe, that the record of our Lord’s own apocalyptic discourse in the first three Gospels includes a kernel or core transcribed from a purely Jewish Apocalypse.”

The latest theory with regard to Mark 13 is of a different character: it is stated with great ability by Mr Streeter, Studies in the Synoptic Problem (edited by Dr Sanday), pp. 180–183, 428–436. It is there argued that Mk has accepted as a genuine record of a discourse by Christ what is really a Christian Apocalypse, composed shortly after the fall of Jerusalem, to encourage the despondent by showing that the delay of the Coming had been foreseen by the Master, and especially to warn believers against Anti-Christs and false Christs. It is admitted that this composition contains a few genuine Sayings of our Lord, e.g. Mark 13:1-2; Mark 13:11; Mark 13:15-16, and most of 28–32; also that Mt. derived his version of the discourse from Mk, and not from another recension of this Christian Apocalypse.

The theory is very far from being proved, and being entirely destitute of documentary evidence it is incapable of proof. As an hypothesis it is not required. Even those who deny that Christ had any supernatural insight into the future cannot point to anything which must have been written after the event. The one solid fact is that some Sayings of our Lord as reported by Mt. “conform more closely to the conventional apocalyptic pattern” than similar Sayings as reported by Mk, and that there is still less of this conventional apocalyptic element in the Sayings which are reported by both Mt. and Lk. But, as Mr Streeter himself admits in a later volume (Foundations, p. 112), “the conclusions I was then inclined to draw from it were, I now think, somewhat too sweeping.” There is nothing in the substance of the discourse which is unworthy of the Master, and there is nothing in the wording of it that is conspicuously unlike the style of the Evangelist. In this respect it is very unlike the last twelve verses of Chap. 16, which cannot have been written by Mk. Even in those verses which are supposed to contain no genuine Sayings of Christ there are things which are characteristic of Mk’s style; e.g. the conversational ἐπηρώτα in the sing. (Mark 13:3); ἤρξατο (Mark 13:5); freq. asyndeton (Mark 13:7-9); the superfluous ἥν ἔκτισεν ὁ θεός (Mark 13:19), and οὓς ἐξελέξατο (Mark 13:20), and ἐπὶ θύραις (Mark 13:29), and ἀφεὶς τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ (Mark 13:34); asyndeton (Mark 13:23); the forcible but illogical combination of earth and heaven (Mark 13:27); asyndeton (Mark 13:33-34); the combination of participles, ἀφεὶςκαὶ δούς (Mark 13:34); loose constructions (Mark 13:34-35). It is hardly likely that so many features of Mk’s style would have been found in a discourse, all of which was taken from a source which ex hypothesi was already in writing. Mr Streeter himself points out that Mk “would not have composed the Apocalypse but, accepting it as authentic, inserted it whole.” It is more to the point to remark with Milligan (N.T. Documents, p. 146), that we here see to how large an extent Christ “availed Himself of current Jewish imagery in His teaching.” We may also remark that throughout the prediction it is the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem that is prominent; about Christ’s own death there is nothing.


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"Commentary on Mark 13:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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