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Bible Commentaries
Mark 13

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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This is the solitary instance in which the second evangelist has given at length a discourse of Jesus. The fulness with which the apocalyptic discourse is recorded is all the more striking, when contrasted with the very meagre reproduction of the anti-pharisaic discourse (Mark 12:38-40 ). The exception made in its favour was doubtless due to Mk.’s estimate of its interest and value for his first readers. Perhaps he was influenced in part by the fascinations of prediction . The real interest of the discourse and the key to its interpretation are to be found, as pointed out in the notes on the corresponding chapter in Mt., in its ethical aim “to forewarn and forearm the representatives of a new faith, so that they might not lose their heads or their hearts in an evil perplexing time”: notes on Mt. For a full exposition of the discourse in the light of this aim readers are referred to these notes.

Verse 1

Mark 13:1 . εἷς τ . μαθητῶν , one of the disciples; the disciples generally in Mt.; who, not said, nor for what motive; probably to divert the Master from gloomy thoughts. ποταποὶ λίθοι , etc.: what stones and what buildings! the former remarkable for size, as described by Josephus (Antiq., xv., 11, 3); the latter for beauty. On ποταπός vide at Matthew 8:27 .

Verses 1-4

Mark 13:1-4 . The introduction (Matthew 24:1-3 ; Luke 21:5-7 ).

Verse 2

Mark 13:2 . βλέπεις : a question, do you see? to fix attention on an object concerning which a startling statement is to be made. μεγάλας , great buildings, acknowledging the justness of the admiration and pointing to a feature which might seem incompatible with the statement following: that vast strong pile surely proof against destruction!

Verse 3

Mark 13:3 . εἰς τὸ ὄρος : implying previous motion towards, before sitting down on the Mount of Olives. κατέναντι τ . ἱ ., opposite the temple, with the admired buildings in full view; this graphic touch in Mk. only. ἐπηρώτα ( [117] [118] [119] ), singular: Peter in view as the chief speaker, though accompanied by other three; imperfect, as subordinate to ἤρξατο in Mark 13:5 explaining the occasion of the discourse Jesus then began to deliver. ὁ Πέτρος , etc.: the well-known three, and a fourth Andrew; a selection found only here. Were these all the disciples with Jesus, all who went with Him to Bethany in the evenings, the rest remaining in Jerusalem? The two pairs of brothers were the first called to discipleship (Mark 1:16-20 ). This reminiscence points to internal relations in the disciple-circle imperfectly known to us. κατʼ ἰδίαν , apart, i.e. , from the rest of the disciples. Mt. has the same phrase, though he assumes all the disciples to be present, which is suggestive of literary dependence.

[117] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[118] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[119] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

Verse 4

Mark 13:4 . The question of the four has exclusive reference to the predicted destruction of the sacred buildings. In Mt. three questions are mixed together: vide notes there.

Verses 5-8

Mark 13:5-8 . Signs prelusive of the end (Matthew 24:4-8 , Luke 21:8-11 ). Jerusalem’s judgment-day not to come till certain things have happened: advent of false Messiahs, rise of wars. βλέπετε , take heed that no one deceive you; the ethical key-note struck at once; the aim of the whole discourse to help disciples to keep heads cool, and hearts brave in a perilous evil time ( vide on Mt.).

Verse 6

Mark 13:6 . ἐγώ εἰμι , I am (He, the Christ). In what sense to be understood vide on Mt. The Messianic hope misconceived was the ruin of the Jewish people.

Verse 7

Mark 13:7 πολέμους : first pseudo-Messiahs preaching national independence; then, naturally, as a second σημεῖον , wars , actual or threatened ( ἀκοὰς πολ .). μὴ θροεῖσθε : good counsel, cheerful in tone, laconic in expression = be not scared; they must happen; but the end not yet. The disconnected style, no γὰρ after δεῖ ( [120] [121] ), suits the emotional prophetic mood. τὸ τέλος , the crisis of Jerusalem.

[120] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[121] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

Verse 8

Mark 13:8 . ἔσονται σεισμοὶ , etc., there will be earthquakes in places; there will be famines. Here again the briefest reading without connecting particles ( καὶ , καὶ ) is to be preferred, as suiting the abrupt style congenial to the prophetic mood. The καὶ ταραχαί after λιμοὶ may have fallen out of [122] [123] [124] [125] by homoeoteleuton ( ἀρχαὶ following immediately after), but after earthquakes and famines disturbances seems an anticlimax.

[122] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[123] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[124] Codex Bezae

[125] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

Verse 9

Mark 13:9 . βλέπετε , etc.: not meant to strike a depressing note, but to suggest that the most interesting omens should be found in their own experiences as the Apostles of the faith, which, however full of tribulation, would yet be, on the whole, victorious. παραδώσουσι , etc.: the tribulations are not disguised, but the blunt statement only lends emphasis to the declaration in Mark 13:10 that, notwithstanding, the Gospel must ( δεῖ ) and shall be proclaimed on a wide scale. εἰς συναγωγὰς δαρήσεσθε : the εἰς here is pregnant = you, delivered to the synagogues, shall be maltreated. Bengel renders: “in synagogas inter verbera agemini” = ye shall be driven into the synagogues with clubs. So Nösgen.

Verses 9-13

Mark 13:9-13 . Third sign, drawn from apostolic experiences (Matthew 24:9-13 , Luke 21:12-19 ). On the hypothesis that this is an interpolation into the discourse, having no organic connection with it, vide on Mt. The contents of this section, especially in Mk.’s version, correspond closely to Matthew 10:17-22 . But the question, in which of the two discourses the logion has the more historical setting, is not thereby settled. Some utterance of the sort was certainly germane to the present situation.

Verse 11

Mark 13:11 gives counsel for Apostles placed at the bar of kings and rulers. They are not to be anxious beforehand ( προμεριμνᾶτε , here only in N.T.) even as to what they shall say, not to speak of what shall happen to them as the result of the trial. Their apologia will be given to them. They will not be the real speakers ( οὐ γάρ ἐστε ὑμεῖς οἱ λαλοῦντες ), but the Holy Spirit. Lk. has “I” here: Christ = the Holy Ghost. This comforting word is wanting in Mt., and whether it was really spoken at this time must remain uncertain. Mt. describes with more detail the internal troubles of the Christian community mutual treachery, false prophets (within, not without, like the false Messiahs of Mark 13:5 ), lawlessness, chilling of early enthusiasm all implying the lapse of a considerable time, and all to happen before the end of Jerusalem. (Mark 13:10-12 .) For all this Mk. gives only the brief statement in Mark 13:12 .

Verse 13

Mark 13:13 answers in its first part to Matthew 24:9 b, and in its second to Matthew 24:13 .

Verse 14

Mark 13:14 . τὸ βδέλυγμα τ . ἐ . The horror is the Roman army, and it is a horror because of the desolation it brings. Vide on Mt. The reference to Daniel in T.R. is imported from Mt. ἑστηκότα , the reading in the best texts, masculine, though referring to βδέλυγμα , because the horror consists of soldiers (Schanz) or their general. ( Cf. ὁ κατέχων , 2 Thessalonians 2:7 .) ὅπου οὐ δεῖ , where it ought not, instead of ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ in Mt. a graceful circumlocution betraying the Jewish Christian writing for heathen Christians, abstaining from making claims that might be misunderstood for his native country by calling it the “holy land” (Schanz). ὁ ἀναγινώσκων ν . The reference here cannot be to Daniel, which is not mentioned in Mk., but either to the Gospel itself or to a separate document which it embodies a Jewish or Jewish-Christian Apocalypse ( vide on Mt.). The words may be taken as a direction to the reader in synagogue or church to explain further the meaning to hearers, it being a matter of vital practical concern. Vide Weizsäcker, Das Apos. Zeit. , p. 362.

Verses 14-23

Mark 13:14-23 . The Jewish catastrophe (Matthew 24:15-25 , Luke 21:20-24 ).

Verse 15

Mark 13:15 . δώματος , he who is on the roof. vide at Matthew 10:27 . The main point to be noted in Mk.’s version of the directions for the crisis as compared with Mt.’s ( q.v. ) is the omission of the words μηδὲ σαββάτῳ , probably out of regard to Gentile readers.

Verse 18

Mark 13:18 . ἵνα μὴ γένηται , that it may not be; what not said, φυγὴ (T.R.) being omitted in best texts = the nameless horror which makes flight imperative, the awful crisis of Israel.

Verse 19

Mark 13:19 . ἔσονται γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι , etc., for (not in those days, but) those days (themselves) shall be a tribulation. So we speak of “evil days,” and in Scotland of the “killing times”. οἵα οὐ γέγονεν , etc.: a strong statement claiming for the crisis of Israel a unique place of tragic distinction in the whole calamitous experience of the human race, past and to come. οἵα τοιαύτη , pleonastic, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:48 , 2 Corinthians 10:11 .

Verse 20

Mark 13:20 . The merciful shortening of the days, out of regard to the elect, is here directly ascribed to God. Mt. uses the passive construction, where vide as to the idea of shortening and the reason. τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς οὓς ἐξελέξατο , the elect whom He elected, recalling “the creation which God created” in Mark 13:19 ; but more than a mere literary idiosyncrasy, emphasising the fact that the elect are God’s elect, whom He loves and will care for, and whose intercessions for others He will hear.

Verse 22

Mark 13:22 . ψευδόχριστοι , ψευδοπροφῆται , false Christs, and false prophets; again, as in Mark 13:6 , here as there without, not within, the Church; political Messiahs, in Mark 13:6 spoken of as the prime cause of all the calamities, here as at the last hour promising deliverance therefrom. πρὸς τὸ ἀποπλανᾷν , with a view to mislead; the compound verb occurs again in 1 Timothy 6:10 , in passive.

Verse 23

Mark 13:23 . ὑμεῖς δὲ , etc., now you look out! I have told you all things beforehand; forewarned, forearmed.

Verse 24

Mark 13:24 . ἀλλὰ , opposes to the false Christs who are not to be believed in, the coming of the true Christ. ἐν ἐκείναις τ . ἡμέραις , in those days, for Mt.’s εὐθέως , a vaguer phrase, yet making the parusia synchronise with the thlipsis .

Verses 24-31

Mark 13:24-31 . The coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:29-35 , Luke 21:25-33 ).

Verse 25

Mark 13:25 . οἱ ἀστέρες , etc., the stars shall be in process of falling (one after the other) ἔσονται with πίπτοντες instead of πεσοῦνται in Mt. αἱ δυνάμεις , etc.: the powers in heaven = the powers of heaven (Mt.) = the host of heaven (34:4), a synonym for the stars.

Verse 26

Mark 13:26 . τὸν ὑιὸν τ . ἀ .: the Son of Man, not the sign of, etc., as in Mt.: Christ His own sign, vide on Mt.

Verse 27

Mark 13:27 . ἀπʼ ἄκρου γῆς , etc. ( cf. expression in Mt.), from the extremity of the earth to the extremity of heaven. The earth is conceived as a flat surface, and the idea is from one end of the earth to the other, where it touches the heavens. But they touch at both ends, so that Mt.’s expression is the more accurate. Either from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth , or from one end of the heaven to, etc.

Verse 28

Mark 13:28 . Parable of the fig tree, as in Mt. ἐκφύῃ : this verb without accent might either be present subjunctive active of ἐκφύω = ἐκφύῃ = it putteth forth its leaves; or 2nd aorist subjunctive intransitive = ἐκφυῇ , from ἐξεφύην , later form of 2nd aorist indicative instead of ἐξέφυν = the leaves shoot out. The former is preferred by most commentators.

Verse 32

Mark 13:32 . The words ὁ υἱὸς are an undoubted reading in Mk., and there can be little doubt they form a part of the true text in Mt. also. As to the import of the solemn declaration of nescience Jesus here makes, I need only refer to what has been said on the corresponding text in Mt. It is not a disclaimer of knowledge as to the precise day, month, or year of what it is certain will happen within the then present generation, but rather an intimation that all statements (that regarding the generation included) as to the time of the parusia must be taken in a qualified sense. Jesus had, I still feel, two ways of speaking on the subject, one for comfort (it will be soon), and one for caution (it may not be so soon as even I think or you expect).

Verses 32-37

Mark 13:32-37 . Concluding exhortation (Matthew 24:36 ).

Verse 33

Mark 13:33 . ἀγρυπνεῖτε : watch, be sleepless ( α pr.v. and ὕπνος ). οὐκ οἴδατε , etc., ye know not the time or season ( καιρός ) of the parusia . If even the Son knows not, still less His disciples; therefore let them watch.

Verse 34

Mark 13:34 . Enforcement of the exhortation to watch by a brief parable. At this point each of the synoptical evangelists goes his own way. In Mt. Jesus presses home the lesson by historical and prophetical pictures of the surprises brought by unexpected crises; in Lk. by general statements; in Mk. y a comparison which seems to be the germ of the parable in Matthew 25:14-23 . ἄνθρωπος ἀπόδημος (here only), a travelling man, cf. ἄνθ . ἔμπορος , a merchant man, in Matthew 13:45 . ἀφεὶς , τοὺς : these participles specify the circumstances under which the command to the porter, the main point, was given; it was when the master was leaving, and when he gave to all his servants his parting instructions. τὴν ἐξουσίαν , his (the master’s) authority, distributed among the servants when he could no longer exercise it himself. τὸ ἔργον α ., to each one his work , in apposition with ἐξουσίαν . In the master’s absence each man became his own master; put upon his honour, the seat of the ἐξουσία , and prescribing careful performance of the ἔργον entrusted to each. καὶ τ . θυρωρῷ , also, among the rest, and very specially, to the porter (he gave instructions). The καὶ here is emphatic, as if it had been καὶ δὴ καὶ . ἵνα γρηγορῇ , that he should watch: note that in this parable the function of watching becomes the business of one the porter. Each servant has his appropriate task; the porter’s is to watch. Yet in the moral sphere watching is the common duty of all, the temper in which all are to discharge their functions. All have to be porters , waiting at the gate, ready to open it to the returning master. Hence the closing exhortation in Mark 13:37 . What I say to you, the four disciples (Mark 13:3 ), I say to all: watch. This had to be added, because it was not said or suggested by the parable; a defect which makes it doubtful whether we have here a logion of Jesus in authentic form, and which may account for its omission by Lk.

Verse 35

Mark 13:35 . ὀψὲ ἢ , etc.: the night divided, Roman fashion, into four watches: 6 9, 9 12, 12 3, 3 6. Before the exile the Jews divided the night into three parts. μεσονύκτιον : vide at Luke 11:5 on this word, found also in Acts 16:25 ; Acts 20:7 . ἀλεκτοροφωνία is a ἅπαξ λεγ . in N. T.

Verse 36

Mark 13:36 . ἐξαίφνης , suddenly, here in Luke 2:13 , and four times in Acts. καθεύδοντας : this applies to all the servants, not merely to the porter; therefore all must watch as well as work. In the case of a master absent on a journey, the servants cannot know even the day , not to speak of the hour or watch of the night, as they could in the cases supposed in Luke 12:36 , Matthew 25:1 . Therefore they must keep awake not merely one night, but many nights, an incongruity which again suggests that we have not here an original utterance of Jesus, but a composite logion with elements borrowed from several parables.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Mark 13". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/mark-13.html. 1897-1910.
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