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Bible Commentaries

Brown's Commentary on the New Testament

Mark 13

Verses 1-4

  1. Introduction
    READ: Mar 13:1-4 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
  2. The disciples are like tourists looking at the temple: it was a thing that had turned into an idol for many. This is the temple that was rebuilt by Herod beginning in 19 B.C., and was not completed until 63 A.D., taking more than eighty years. The magnificent temple compound was finished only seven years before it was destroyed.
    1. The beauty of the ancient temple is well documented. The Jewish historian Josephus says that the temple was covered on the outside with gold plates that were so brilliant that when the sun shone on them it blinded any observer. Where there wasn’t gold, there were blocks of marble of such a pure white that strangers, from a distance, thought there was snow on the temple.
    2. The comment of the disciples - see what manner of stones and what buildings are here - is especially appropriate given the massive stones Herod used in building the temple. Today, tourists can see some of these massive stones, at least the ones used to build merely the retaining wall for the temple compound. These cut, quarried blocks of limestone are so big - some are 50 feet wide, 25 feet high, and 15 feet deep - that modern construction cranes could not life them. Archaeologists are still not completely certain how these stones were cut, transported, and placed with such precision that they don’t even need mortar.
    3. But Jesus said that not one stone would be left upon another…and some 40 years after Jesus said this, there was a widespread Jewish revolution against the Romans in Palestine, and the rebels enjoyed many early successes. But ultimately, Rome crushed the Jews. Jerusalem was leveled, including the temple - just as Jesus said.
    4. It is said that at the fall of Jerusalem, the last surviving Jews of the city fled to the temple, because it was the strongest, most secure building in the city. Roman soldiers surrounded it, and one drunken soldier started a fire that soon engulfed the whole building. Ornate gold detail work in the roof melted down in the cracks between the stone walls of the temple, and to retrieve the gold, the Roman commander ordered that the temple be dismantled stone by stone. The destruction was so complete that today, they have true difficulty learning exactly where the temple was.
  3. The literal fulfillment of this prophecy establishes the tone for the rest of the prophecies in the chapter. We should expect a literal fulfillment for these other prophecies also.
    1. The disciples ask 2 questions, one of which Mark doesn’t answer (but Luke does in Luke 21:20) and the second is answered in the rest of the chapter…

Verses 5-13

  1. Beginning of Sorrows
    1. Take Heed of Deceptions
      Mar 13:5-6 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
      1. The first thing Jesus says is, “Take Heed lest any man deceive you”! Not wars or persecution but deception!
      2. 2Co 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
      3. 1Ti 4:1-2 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
      4. 1Jn 4:1-3 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
    2. Take Heed of Sorrows
      ​​​​​​​Mar 13:7-8 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. 8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
    3. This is speaking of a world-wide state of war
      1. ​​​​​​​ Earthquakes…14 major in 90’s, 25 major in 00’s, …birth pangs are getting stronger
    4. Take Heed of Persecutions
      Mar 13:9-13
      But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. 10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations. 11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
      1. There will be persecution from within and without…this may be before the rapture as well – but Jesus said, (Joh 16:33) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
      2. The government will persecute Christians; Athiests, Gays and other liberals will condemn Christians… the world will come against those who remain…
      3. But! HE that shall endure to the end shall be saved! These are tribulation saints – those saved during the tribulation and who can hold fast to their faith no matter what… they will be saved!

Verses 14-22

  1. The Abomination of Desolation
    1. Flee
      Mar 13:14-19 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: 15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: 16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. 17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. 19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
      1. The abomination of deslolation takes place at the half-way point of the 7 yr tribulation.
      2. This was prefigured by Antiochus Epiphanes in approx. 167 BC when he slaughtered 80k people, many women and childrena and infants and then set up a statue of Zeus in the temple and offered swine’s flesh as a sacrifice.
      3. Jesus said this will come to pass so it is still to come…but the terror of the Anti-Christ will be so great that Jesus tells the tribulation saints to flee – don’t even go home, just run! (I’m glad the church won’t be there :o)
    2. ​​​​​​​The Elect’s Sake
      Mar 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
      1. It will be so bad that God will shorten the days so that the elect can endure…
    3. Deception
      Mar 13:21-23 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: 22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. 23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
      1. ​​​​​​​The anti-christ will have “Exousia” power…delegated power from God to decieve those who have rejected Christ and he will use signs and wonders and would even try to deceive the elect (those saved during the tribulation).

Verses 23-31

  1. After the Tribulation
    1. The Son of Man Coming in the Clouds
      Mar 13:23-27 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. 24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
      1. Looking at the elect…we find that it is talking about Israel, NOT the church.
      2. Isa 11:12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
      3. So then, looking back at v. 20, we see that the Lord’s compassion on His people Israel – for their sakes He shortens the days.
      4. When Jesus comes back to earth to set up His kingdom…the saved Jews who have endured will be gathered up by the angels.
    2. The Parable of the Fig Tree
      Mar 13:28-29 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: 29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
      1. The fig tree has a regular pattern – the leaves appear, then summer follows. When we see the signs of His coming, He will follow.
      2. When we see the abomination of desolation, we know He is coming in 3 ½ more years.
    3. The Eternal Word
      Mar 13:30-31 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
      1. Look at this remarkable statement -- Jesus is saying His Words are ETERNAL…this implies He is GOD!
      2. Also, look at the significance of this and how we should regard the Word of God!

Verses 32-37

  1. Conclusion
    Mar 13:32-37 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
    1. Timewise: Rom 11:25b that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (for us – it could happen at any time!)
    2. Joh 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
    3. 1Th 4:16-18 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (Harpazo) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
    4. 1Co 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- 52 in a moment (Greek: atomizo – smallest amount of measurable time), in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
  2. Conclude with:
    1. Luk 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."
Copyright Statement
Brown's Commentary on the New Testament is reproduced by permission of author. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Brown, Jim. "Commentary on Mark 13". "Brown's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnc/mark-13.html. 2017.