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Bible Commentaries
Mark 13

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Mark 13:1,Mark 13:2 Christ foretells the destruction of the temple,

Mark 13:3-23 shows what signs and calamities should go before,

Mark 13:24-31 and what should happen at the time of his coming,

Mark 13:32-37 no man knoweth the day or hour; we must therefore watch and pray, that we may not be found unprepared.

Verses 1-2

The perishing nature of the splendid and gay things of this world, are fitter objects for the meditation of such as are Christ’s disciples, than the splendour and magnificence of them, especially when they are the privileges of a sinful people. Sin will undermine and blow up the most famous structures. It is a good thing for Christians not to set their hearts upon them. See Poole on "Matthew 24:1-2".

Verses 3-4

Matthew puts two things more into the question, What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? The best of men have a great curiosity to know futurities, things that shall hereafter come to pass. All the other part of this chapter is spent by our Saviour in an answer to these three questions, according to St. Matthew, or this one question, according to Mark and Luke. Some have attempted curiously to distinguish betwixt the signs intended by our Saviour, as relating to each period. But certainly those interpreters do judge best, that think our Saviour intended to let them know, that the destruction of Jerusalem should be a type of the destruction of the world at the last day, and that the same things should go before the one, and be signs of it, that should go before the other. And whoso readeth the history of Josephus, of what happened before the destruction of Jerusalem, and after this time, will find that there were few or none of these signs, that are here mentioned, but came to pass before the dreadful destruction of that so famous place; yet we must doubtless look for many, if not all, the same things to come to pass before the general destruction of the world in the last day.

Verses 5-6

See Poole on "Matthew 24:4-5". This is the first sign, fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in part, and which had been fulfilling ever since; and probably before the day of judgment the number of such impostors will increase.

Verses 7-8

Matthew adds pestilences. Luke saith, pestilences, and fearful sights and great signs from heaven. See Poole on "Matthew 24:6", and following verses to Matthew 24:8. Here are two or three more signs put together:

1. Wars, and rumours of wars; great commotions in nations, which though they may be at other times, yet probably may be more extraordinary before the day of judgment.

2. Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.

3. Fearful sights, and apparitions in the air and the heavens. Such there were (as Josephus tells us) before the destruction of Jerusalem; and though these things be seen before the last day, yet it is most probable they will be greater before the day of judgment than at any time before; and for fearful sights, and great signs from heaven, they ordinarily go before some great judgment of God upon places, and therefore the observation of them by the heathen (as we learn by Livy and others) seems but to be a piece of natural religion; and Christ giving these things as signs of the approaching ruin, first of Jerusalem, then of the world, will make thinking Christians behold them with a religious fear, though not to undertake to expound them particularly or prophesy upon them.

Certainly we ought to look upon them as prognosticating some great work of God, and usually of judgment upon sinners.

Verse 9

This, so far as concerneth those to whom Christ spake, can only be a sign of the destruction of Jerusalem; but so far as it concerneth others, it is also a sign of the end of the world. It is the fifth sign he gives them; the persecution of the ministers of Christ and the saints of God, for the preaching and profession of the gospel. See Poole on "Matthew 24:9".

Verse 10

I am prone to think that our Lord gives this not only as a sign of the destruction of Jerusalem, but of the end of the world, and the latter principally; for before the destruction of Jerusalem (which was in less than forty years after Christ’s death) the gospel was not preached to all nations, otherwise than as all signifies very many. And I do think that all places shall have the gospel preached to them before the day of judgment, after another manner than either it was possible it should be preached to them within forty years after the death of Christ, or than many places have had it preached amongst them to this day. For though the Holy Scriptures, and ecclesiastical historians, give us a somewhat large account of the gospel being preached in Europe, Asia, and in Africa, yet we have little account from any of them of its being preached in America. I am not wholly ignorant of what those writers tell us, of Thomas the apostle’s preaching to the Indians, and of Trumentius and his colleague, but there are very few preachers that any stories give an account of gone to the Indians, whither I believe the gospel must go before that Christ comes to judgment.

Verse 11

See Poole on "Matthew 10:19-20". By

take no thought, he means, take no anxious thoughts to disquiet yourselves.

Verses 12-13

This is but an amplification of the fifth sign, given us Mark 13:9, viz. a furious persecution, eminently made good in the Jewish persecution before the destruction of Jerusalem; in the pagan persecution, for three hundred years after Christ; and in the popish persecutions at this day.

See Poole on "Matthew 24:9-10".

Verses 14-20

See Poole on "Matthew 24:15", and following verses to Matthew 24:22, where we have before opened all these passages. This sign doth manifestly relate to the destruction of Jerusalem, and can have no relation to the end of the world. In our notes on Matthew 24:13-51, we have showed what is meant by the abomination of desolation, and to what place in Daniel it refers. Luke expounds it, Luke 21:20, When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, the Roman armies, abominable for the idols that in them were worshipped. The sign was this, When you shall see the lion, and armies besieging Jerusalem, be assured God will soon deliver it into their hands, whatever vain hopes men may suggest of their holding out or driving them away. Let every one of you with all imaginable expedition shift for yourselves. God will surely deliver up the city, when that time comes. And before the taking of the city, he tells them, there shall be such affliction (by reason of their intestine factions and divisions) as never any people experienced. As to these things, see the notes on Matthew 24:15-22.

Verses 21-23

See Poole on "Matthew 24:23", and following verses to Matthew 24:25. The history of Josephus, and those Roman historians who wrote the history of those times that went immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem, and give us account of the taking of that city, are the best commentary on these verses. It hath been often said, that the Jews were in expectation of a Messias, and are so still. But by him they understood not a person who should be God man, and save his people from their sins, and set up a spiritual kingdom in the world, but a secular prince, who should come of the house of David, and restore them to their civil liberties. So that the name of Christ was a fair name to patronize any rebellious faction, where the leader would arrogate it to herself, especially if he could pretend to the house of David. Near the destruction of Jerusalem, several persons used these arts to draw people after them to defend themselves, and to stand up for their liberties. Our Saviour having discerned his disciples tinctured with this common error of the nation, and knowing what would come to pass, gives his disciples warning to avoid these delusions, and not to run after such pretenders, to their ruin and destruction.

Verses 24-27

The usage of these phrases, of the darkening the sun and the moon, and the falling of the stars, to signify the ruin of nations, and changes wrought in them; as in Isaiah 13:10, as to the destruction of Babylon, and Ezekiel 32:7, to express the change the providence of God made by the destruction of Egypt, as also to signify the change made in the world by setting up the gospel, to which purpose they are used by Joel, Joel 2:31; hath given interpreters a latitude to interpret these verses,

1. With relation to the destruction of the Jews, which made a great change as to the Jewish church and state.

2. And with reference to the change made by setting up the gospel church.

But Mark 13:26,Mark 13:27 incline me rather to interpret them of the end of the world. For though those other expressions are used to express great changes and mutations, yet it is not said of any of them,

Then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, & c. Which phrases do so agree with those other texts, where Christ’s second coming to judgment is expressed certainly, that I cannot but think our Saviour speaks here with reference to that. See Matthew 13:41; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 1:7.

Verses 28-31

See Poole on "Matthew 24:32", and following verses to Matthew 24:35, where we met with the same things almost word for word; so as more words need not be repeated here in the explication of these verses.

Verses 32-33

See Poole on "Matthew 24:36". See Poole on "Matthew 24:42". Ideo latet ultimus dies ut observentur omnes dies, God hath concealed from us the knowledge of the last day that we might watch all our days. See the notes on Matthew, in what sense Christ saith he did not know the last day and hour. Watching is opposed to sleeping. There is a natural sleep, and a spiritual sleep, of which the apostle speaks, Romans 13:11; Ephesians 5:14. The latter is here principally intended, to which the watching here commanded is opposed, and signifies an industrious, diligent care to keep ourselves from sin, upon a prospect of the last judgment, and the consideration of the uncertainty of the particular year or day when it shall be; together with such a bodily watching, as may be subservient unto that end, and fit us for prayer. But the watching principally intended, is a striving against sin, which is the spiritual sleep; and thus it is expounded by Luke 21:36, compared with Mark 13:34,Mark 13:35.

Verses 34-37

In the Greek, those words, For the Son of man is, are not, but those, or some such like, are necessarily to be understood to make up the sense. The watching here again twice called for is the same with that before mentioned. The sense of these verses is the same as before; the uncertainty of the time when Christ cometh to judgment should oblige all men to be diligent and industrious to keep themselves from sinning, that they may be ready at what time soever he cometh. He mentions only the four parts of the night, having spoken of sin under the notion of sleeping, and holiness under the notion of watching.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Mark 13". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/mark-13.html. 1685.
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