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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Mark 13

 

 

Verse 1

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!

Jesus had uttered all His mind against the Jewish ecclesiastics, exposing their character with withering plainness, and denouncing, in language of awful severity, the judgments of God against them for that unfaithfulness to their trust which was bringing ruin upon the nation. He had closed this His last public discourse (Matthew 23:1-39) by a passionate Lamentation over Jerusalem, and a solemn Farewell to the Temple. "And (says Matthew, Matthew 24:1) Jesus went out, and departed from the temple" - never more to re-enter its precincts, or open His mouth in public teaching. With this act His public ministry. Since He withdrew, says Olshausen, the gracious presence of God left the sanctuary; and the Temple, with all its service, and the whole theocratic constitution, was given over to destruction. What immediately followed is, as usual, most minutely and graphically described by our Evangelist.

And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him. The other Evangelists are less definite. "As some spake," says Luke: "His disciples came to Him," says Matthew. Doubtless it was the speech of one, the mouth-piece, likely, of others.

Master [`Teacher' Didaskale (G1320)], see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! - wondering, probably, how so massive a pile could be overthrown, as seemed implied in our Lord's last words regarding it. Josephus, who gives a minute account of the wonderful structure, speaks of stones forty cubits long (Jewish War, 5: 5. 1.), and says the pillars supporting the porches were twenty-five cubits high, all of one stone, and that the whitest marble (Ib., 5: 5. 2). Six days' battering at the walls, during the siege, made no impression upon them (Ib., 6: 4. 1.) Some of the under-building, yet remaining, and other works, are probably as old as the first temple.


Verse 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.

And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? 'Ye call my attention to these things! I have seen them. Ye point to their massive and durable appearance: now listen to their fate.'

There shall not be left - "left here" (Matthew 24:2). [Tregelles adds hoode (Greek #5602) - "here" - in Mark also, on authority of some weight; but we think Tischendorf right in adhering to the received text here].

One stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Titus ordered the whole city and temple to be demolished (Josephus, Jewish Wars, 7: 1. 1.); Eleazar wished they had all died before seeing that holy city destroyed by enemies' hands, and before the temple was so profanely dug up. (Ib. 7: 8. 7.)


Verse 3

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple. On their way from Jerusalem to Bethany they would cross mount Olivet; on its summit He seats Himself, over against the temple, having the city all spread out under His eye. How graphically is this set before us by our Evangelist.

Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately. The other Evangelists tell us merely that "the disciples" did so. But Mark not only says it was four of them, but names them; and they were the first quaternion of the Twelve. See the notes at Matthew 10:1-5, Remarks 6 and 7.


Verse 4

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? - "and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" [ sunteleias (Greek #4930) tou (Greek #3588) aioonos (Greek #165)]. They no doubt looked upon the date of all these things as one and the same, and their notions of the things themselves were as confused as of the times of them. Our Lord takes His own way of meeting their questions.


Verse 5

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

And Jesus answering them. [The words apokritheis (Greek #611) autois (Greek #846) are, without reason, we think, excluded from the text by Tischendorf and Tregelles. Lachmann inserts them.]

Began say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:


Verse 6

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [Christ] (see Matthew 24:5) - "and the time draweth nigh" (Luke 21:8); that is, the time of the kingdom in its full splendour.

And shall deceive many. "Go ye not therefore after them" (Luke 21:8). The reference here seems not to be to pretended Messiahs, deceiving those who rejected the claims of Jesus, of whom indeed there were plenty-for our Lord is addressing His own genuine disciples-but to persons pretending to be Jesus Himself, returned in glory to take possession of His kingdom. This gives special force to the words, "Go ye not therefore after them."


Verse 7

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.

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled - see the note at Mark 13:13, and compare Isaiah 8:11-14,

For such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. In Luke (Luke 21:9), "the end is not by and by" [ eutheoos (Greek #2112)] or 'immediately.' Worse must come before all is over.


Verse 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.

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 , [ oodinoon (Greek #5604)] - 'of travail-pangs,' to which heavy calamities are compared. (See Jeremiah 4:31, etc.) The annals of Tacitus tell us how the Roman world was convulsed, before the destruction of Jerusalem, by rival claimants of the imperial purple.


Verse 9

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.

But take heed to yourselves: for - "before all these things" (Luke 21:12); that is, before these public calamities come,

They shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten. These refer to ecclesiastical proceedings against them.

And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings (before civil tribunals next), for my sake, for a testimony against them - rather 'unto them' [ eis (Greek #1519) marturion (Greek #3142) autois (Greek #846)] - to give you an opportunity of bearing testimony to Me before them. In the Acts of the Apostles we have the best commentary on this announcement. (Compare Matthew 10:17-18.)


Verse 10

And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

And the gospel must first be published among all nations - "for a witness, and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14). God never sends judgment without previous warning; and there can be no doubt that the Jews, already dispersed over most known countries, had nearly all heard the Gospel "as a witness," before the end of the Jewish state. The same principle was repeated and will repeat itself to "the end."


Verse 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.

But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand, [ mee (G3361) promerimnate (G4305) 'be not anxious beforehand,'] what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: 'Be not filled with apprehension, in the prospect of such public appearances for Me, lest ye should bring discredit upon My name, nor think it necessary to prepare beforehand what ye are to say.'

But whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit. See the notes at Matthew 10:19-20.


Verse 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.

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.


Verse 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.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. Matthew (Matthew 24:12) adds this important intimation: "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many" [ toon (Greek #3588) polloon (Greek #4183)] - 'of the many,' or 'of the most;' that is, of the generality of professed disciples - "shall wax cold." Sad illustrations of the effect of abounding iniquity in cooling the love even of faithful disciples we have in the Epistle of James, written about the period here referred to, and too frequently ever since.

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. See the notes at Matthew 10:21-22; and compare Hebrews 10:38-39, which is a manifest allusion to these words of Christ; also Revelation 2:10. Luke adds these reassuring words: "But there shall not an hair of your heads perish" (Luke 21:18). Our Lord had just said (Luke 21:16) that they should be put to death; showing that this precious promise is far above immunity from mere bodily harm, and furnishing a key to the right interpretation of Psalms 91:1-16, and such like.


Verse 14

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:

But when ye shall see - "Jerusalem compassed by armies" [ stratopedoon (Greek #4760)] - 'by encamped armies;' in other words, when ye shall see it besieged, and the abomination of desolation , [ to (Greek #3588) bdelugma (Greek #946) tees (Greek #3588) ereemooseoos (Greek #2050)],

Spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not - that is, as explained in Matthew (Matthew 24:15), "standing in the holy place."

(Let him that readeth (readeth that prophecy), understand.) That "the abomination of desolation" here alluded to was intended to point to the Roman ensigns, as the symbols of an idolatrous, and so unclean pagan power, may be gathered by comparing what Luke says in the corresponding verse (Luke 21:20); and commentators are agreed on it. It is worthy of notice, as confirming this interpretation, that in 1 Maccabees 1:54 -which, though Apocryphal Scripture, is authentic history-the expression of Daniel is applied to the idolatrous profanation of the Jewish altar by Antiochus Epiphanes.

Then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains. The ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius, early in the fourth century, tells us that the Christians fled to Pella, at the northern extremity of Perea, being "prophetically directed" - perhaps by some prophetic intimation more explicit than this, which would be their chart-and that thus they escaped the predicted calamities by which the nation was overwhelmed.


Verse 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:

And let him that is on the house-top not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: - that is, let him take the outside flight of steps from the roof to the ground; a graphic way of denoting the extreme urgency of the case, and the danger of being tempted, by the desire to save his property, to delay until escape should become impossible.


Verse 16

And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.


Verse 17

But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

But woe to them (or, 'alas for them,') that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days - in consequence of the aggravated suffering which those conditions would involve.


Verse 18

And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter - making escape perilous, or tempting you to delay your flight. Matthew (Matthew 24:20) adds, "neither on the sabbath day," when, from fear of a breach of its sacred rest, they might be induced to remain.


Verse 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.

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. Such language is not unusual in the Old Testament with reference to tremendous calamities. But it is matter of literal fact, that there was crowded into the period of the Jewish War an amount and complication of suffering perhaps unparalleled; as the narrative of Josephus, examined closely and arranged under different heads, would show.


Verse 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.

And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh - that is, no human life --

Should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. But for this merciful "shortening," brought about by a remarkable concurrence of causes, the whole nation would have perished, in which there yet remained a remnant to be afterward gathered out. This portion of the prophecy closes, in Luke, with the following vivid and important glance at the subsequent fortunes of the chosen people: "And they shall fall by the sword, and shall be led sway captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). The language as well as the idea of this remarkable statement is taken from Daniel 8:10; Daniel 8:13. What, then, is its import here? It implies, first, that a time is coming when Jerusalem shall cease to be "trodden down of the Gentiles;" which it was then by pagan, and since and until now is by Mohammedan unbelievers: and next, it implies that the period when this treading down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles is to cease will be when "the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" or 'completed.' But what does this mean? We may gather the meaning of it from Rom.

xi., in which the divine purposes and procedure toward the chosen people from first to last are treated in detail.

In Mark 13:25 of that chapter, these words of our Lord are thus reproduced: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." See the exposition of that verse, from which it will appear that - "till the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" - or, in our Lord's phraseology, "till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" - does not mean 'till the general conversion of the world to Christ,' but 'until the Gentiles have had their full time of that place in the Church which the Jews had before them.' After that period of Gentilism, as before of Judaism, "Jerusalem" and Israel, no longer "trodden down by the Gentiles" but "grafted into their own olive tree," shall constitute, with the believing Gentiles, one Church of God, and fill the whole earth. What a bright vista does this open up!


Verse 21

And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:

And then, if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, [he is] there; believe him not. So Luke 17:23.


Verse 22

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders. No one can read Josephus' account of what took place before the destruction of Jerusalem without seeing how strikingly this was fulfilled.

To seduce, if it were possible, even the elect - implying that this, though all but done, will prove impossible. What a precious assurance! (Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.)


Verse 23

But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. He had just told them that the seduction of the elect would prove impossible; but since this would be all but accomplished, He bids them be on their guard, as the proper means of averting that catastrophe. In Matthew (Matthew 24:26-28) we have some additional particulars: "Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." See the notes at Luke 17:23-24. "For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together." See the note at Luke 17:37.

The preceding portion of this prophecy is by all interpreters applied to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. But on the portion that follows some of the most eminent expositors are divided; one class of them considering that our Lord here makes an abrupt transition to the period and the events of His Second Personal Coming and the great Day of Judgment; while another class think there is no evidence of such transition, and that the subject is still the judicial vengeance on Jerusalem, ending not only in the destruction of the city and temple, but in the breaking up of the entire polity, civil and ecclesiastical, of which Jerusalem was the center. From the remarkable analogy, however, which subsists between those two events, they admit that the language gradually swells into what is much more descriptive of the events of Christ's Personal Coming and the final Judgment than of the destruction of Jerusalem; and in the concluding warnings most of this latter class see an exclusive reference to the Personal Coming of the Lord to judgment. For the following reasons we judge that this latter is the correct view of the Prophecy.

FIRST, the connection between the two parts of the prophecy is that of immediate sequence of time. In Matthew 24:29 it is said, "Immediately after [ eutheoos (Greek #2112) de (Greek #1161) meta (Greek #3326)] the tribulation of those days" - shall all the following things happen. What can be plainer than that the one set of events was to happen in close succession after the other? Whereas, on the other supposition, they were to be so far from happening "immediately" after the others, that after eighteen centuries the time for them has not even yet come. The inconvenience of this is felt to be so great, that "the tribulation of those days" is taken to mean, not the calamities which issued in the destruction of Jerusalem at all, but the tribulation which is to usher in the Personal Coming of Christ and the Judgment of the great day. But though this might do, as an exposition of the words of Matthew, the words of Mark (Mark 13:24) seem in flat contradiction to it: "But in those days, after that tribulation" emphatically [ meta (Greek #3326) teen (Greek #3588) thlipsin (Greek #2347) ekeineen (Greek #1565)]. How can this possibly mean any tribulation but the one just described? And were we to try the other sense of it, how very unnatural is it-after reading a minute account of the tribulations which were to bring on the destruction of Jerusalem, and then that "immediately after the tribulation of those days" certain other events are to happen-to understand this to mean, 'Immediately after the tribulation of another and far distant day, a tribulation not here to be described at all, shall occur the following events!' What object could there be for alluding so abruptly to "the tribulation of those days," if that tribulation was not to be described at all, but only something which was to happen after it?

But, SECONDLY, at the conclusion of the second part of this prophecy, our Lord says (Mark 13:30), "Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass away until all these things be done," or "fulfilled" (as in Matthew 24:34; Luke 21:32). This, on the face of it, is so decisive that those who think the second half of the Prophecy refers to the Second Coming of Christ and the Final Judgment are obliged to translate the words [ hee (Greek #3588) genea (Greek #1074) hautee (Greek #3778)]. 'This (Jewish) nation,' or 'This (human) race shall not pass away,' etc. But besides that this is quite contrary to the usage of the word-just think how inept a sense is brought out by translating 'this race;' for who could require to be told that the human family would not have passed away before certain events occurred which were to befall the human race? and how pointless is the other sense, that the Jewish nation would not be extinct before those events! Whereas, if we understand the words in their natural sense-that the generation then running should see all those predictions fulfilled-all is intelligible, deeply important, and according to literal fact. But the exposition will throw further light upon this question.


Verse 24

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

But in those days, after that tribulation "Immediately after the tribulation of those days" (Matthew 24:29); see introductory remarks on this latter portion of the prophecy, "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light."


Verse 25

And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

And the stars of heaven shall fall - "and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:25-26).

And the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. Though the grandeur of this language carries the mind over the head of all periods but that of Christ's Second Coming, nearly every expression will be found used of the Lord's coming in terrible national judgments: as of Babylon (Isaiah 13:9-13); of Idumea (Isaiah 34:1-2; Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 34:8-10); of Egypt (Ezekiel 32:7-8): compare also Psalms 18:7-15; Isaiah 24:1; Isaiah 24:17-19; Joel 2:10-11, etc. We cannot therefore consider the mere strength of this language a proof that it refers exclusively or primarily to the precursors of the final day, though of course in "that day" it will have its most awful fulfillment.


Verse 26

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. In Matthew 24:30, this is given most fully: "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man," etc. That this language finds its highest interpretation in the Second Personal Coming of Christ, is most certain. But the question is, whether that be the primary sense of it as it stands here? Now, if the reader will turn to Daniel 7:13-14, and connect with it the preceding verses, he will find, we think, the true key to our Lord's meaning here. There the powers that oppressed the Church-symbolized by rapacious wild beasts-are summoned to the bar of the great God, who as the Ancient of days seats Himself, with His assessors, on a burning Throne; thousand thousands ministering to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before Him.

"The judgment is set, and the books are opened." Who that is guided by the mere words would doubt that this is a description of the Final Judgment? And yet nothing is clearer than that it is not, but a description of a vast temporal judgment, upon organized bodies of men, for their incurable hostility to the kingdom of God upon earth. Well, after the doom of these has been pronounced and executed, and room thus prepared for the unobstructed development of the kingdom of God over the earth, what follows? "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like THE SON OF MAN came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they (the angelic attendants) brought Him near before Him." For what purpose? To receive investiture in the kingdom, which, as Messiah, of right belonged to Him. Accordingly, it is added, "And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." Comparing this with our Lord's words, He seems to us, by "the Son of man (on which phrase, see the note at John 1:51) coming in the clouds with great power and glory," to mean, that when judicial vengeance shall once have been executed upon Jerusalem, and the ground thus cleared for the unobstructed establishment of His own kingdom, His true regal claims and rights would be visibly and gloriously asserted and manifested.

See the note at Luke 9:28 (with its parallels in Matthew and Mark), in which nearly the same language is employed, and where it can hardly be understood of anything else than the full and free establishment of the kingdom of Christ on the destruction of Jerusalem. But what is that "sign of the Son of man in heaven"? Interpreters are not agreed. But as before Christ came to destroy Jerusalem some appalling portents were seen in the air, so before His Personal appearing it is likely that something analogous will be witnessed, though of what nature it would be vain to conjecture.


Verse 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.

And then shall he send his angels - "with a great sound of a trumpet" (Matthew 24:31), And shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. As the tribes of Israel were anciently gathered together by sound of trumpet (Exodus 19:13; Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:19; Leviticus 23:24; Psalms 81:3-5), so any mighty gathering of God's people, by divine command, is represented as collected by sound of trumpet (Isaiah 27:13; compare Revelation 11:15); and the ministry of angels, employed in all the great operations of Providence, is here held forth as the agency by which the present assembling of the elect is to be accomplished. Lightfoot thus explains it: 'When Jerusalem shall be reduced to ashes, and that wicked nation cut off and rejected, then shall the Son of man send His ministers with the trumpet of the Gospel, and they shall gather His elect of the several nations, from the four corners of heaven: so that God shall not want a Church, although that ancient people of His be rejected and cast off; but that ancient Jewish Church being destroyed, a new Church shall be called out of the Gentiles.' But though something like this appears to be the primary sense of the verse, in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem, no one can fail to see that the language swells beyond any gathering of the human family into a Church upon earth, and forces the thoughts onward to that gathering of the Church "at the last trump," to meet the Lord in the air, which is to wind up the present scene. Still, this is not, in our judgment, the direct subject of the prediction; because the next verse limits the whole prediction to the generation then existing.


Verse 28

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree , [ apo (Greek #575) de (Greek #1161) tees (Greek #3588) sukees (Greek #4808) mathete (Greek #3129) teen (Greek #3588) paraboleen (Greek #3850)] - 'Now from the fig tree learn the parable,' or the high lesson which this teaches:

When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves , [ ta (Greek #3588) fulla (Greek #5444)] - 'its leaves,' ye know that summer is near:


Verse 29

So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

So ye, in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, [ ginomena (G1096) - rather, 'coming to pass,'] know that it ["the kingdom of God" (Luke 21:31)], is nigh, even at the doors - that is; the full manifestation of it; because until then it admitted of no full development. In Luke (Luke 21:28) the following words precede these: "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" - their redemption, in the first instance certainly, from Jewish oppression (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; Luke 11:52): but in the highest sense of these words, redemption from all the oppressions and miseries of the present state at the Second Appearing of the Lord Jesus.


Verse 30

Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass until all these things be done - or "fulfilled;; (Matthew 24:34; Luke 21:32). See introductory remarks on this second half of the prophecy. Whether we take this to mean that the whole would be fulfilled within the limits of the generation then current, or, according to a usual way of speaking, that the generation then existing would not pass away without seeing a begun fulfillment of this prediction, the facts entirely correspond. For either the whole was fulfilled in the destruction accomplished by Titus, as many think; or if we stretch it out, according to others, until the thorough dispersion of the Jews a little later, under Adrian, every requirement of our Lord's words seems to be met.


Verse 31

Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away - the strongest possible expression of the divine authority by which He spake; not as Moses or Paul might have said of their own inspiration, for such language would be unsuitable in any merely human mouth.

It will be observed that, in the foregoing prophecy, as our Lord approaches the crisis of the day of vengeance on Jerusalem, and redemption for the Church-at which stage the analogy between that and the day of final vengeance end redemption waxes more striking-His language rises and swells beyond all temporal and partial vengeance, beyond all earthly deliverances and enlargements, and ushers us resistlessly into the scenes of the final day. Accordingly, in these six concluding verses it is manifest that preparation for "THAT DAY" is what our Lord designs to inculcate.


Verse 32

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

But of that day and that hour [that is, the precise time], knoweth no man, [ oudeis (G3762), literally 'no one,'] no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. This very remarkable statement regarding "the Son" is special to Mark. Whether it means that the Son was not at that time in possession of the knowledge referred to, or simply that it was not among the things which He had received to communicate-has been matter of much controversy even among the firmest believers in the proper divinity of Christ. In the latter sense it was taken by some of the most eminent of the ancient Fathers, and by Luther, Melancthon, and most of the older Lutherans; and it is so taken by Bengel, Lange, Webster, and Wilkinson. Chrysostom and others understood it to mean that as Man our Lord was ignorant of this. It is taken literally by Calvin, Grotius, DeWette, Meyer, Fritzsche, Stier, Alford, and Alexander. Beyond all doubt, as the word "knoweth" [ oiden (Greek #1492)] in this verse is the well-known word for the knowledge of any fact, this latter sense is the one we should naturally put upon the statement; namely, that our Lord did not at that time how the day and hour of His own Second Coming. But the nature of the case-meaning by this the speaker, His subject, and the probable design of the statement in question-is always allowed to have its weight in determining the sense of any doubtful utterance. What, then, is the nature of this case?

First, The Speaker was One who, from the time when He entered on His public ministry, spoke ever, acted ever, as One from whom nothing was hid; and to Whom was committed the whole administration of the Kingdom of God from first to last; nor when Peter ascribed omniscience to Him (John 21:17), can He be supposed to have pointed to any enlargement of the sphere of his Lord's knowledge since His resurrection, or to anything except what he had witnessed of Him "in the days of His flesh." Second, There seems nothing so special in the knowledge of the precise time of His Second Coming, much less of the destruction of Jerusalem, more than of other things which we are certain that our Lord knew at that time, that it should be kept from Him, while those other things were all full before His view. We are ill judges indeed of such matters, but we are obliged to give this consideration some weight. So far as we may presume to judge, there was no benefit to the disciples to be gained by the concealment from Him-as certainly there could be no danger to Himself from the knowledge-of the precise time of His coming. But, Third, When we have familiarized ourselves with our Lord's way of speaking of His communications to men, we shall perhaps obtain a key to this remarkable saying of His.

Thus: "And what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth;" "I speak to the world those things that I have heard of Him;" "The Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak" (John 3:32; John 8:26; John 12:49). And in a remarkable prophecy (Isaiah 50:4) to which we have already adverted (see the notes at Mark 10:32-45, Remark 1) - in which beyond doubt He is the Speaker-He represents Himself as receiving His instructions daily, being each morning instructed what to communicate for that day. In this view, as the precise time of His coming was certainly not in His instructions; as He had not "seen and heard" it, and so could not "testify" it; as He had no communication from His Father on that subject-might He not, in this sense, after saying that neither men nor angels knew it, add that Himself knew it not, without the danger of lowering, even in the minds of any of His half-instructed disciples, the impression of His Omniscience, which every fresh communication to them only tended to deepen? What recommends this opinion is not any inconsistency in the opposite view with the supreme Divinity of Christ. That view might quite well be maintained, if only there appeared sufficient ground for it. But while the one argument in its favour is the natural sense of the words-a very strong argument, however, we are constrained to admit-everything else which one is accustomed to take into account, in weighing the sense of a doubtful saying, is in favour of a modified sense of the words in question.

Here follow, in Matthew 24:37-41, some additional particulars: Matthew 24:37. "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:38. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, Matthew 24:39. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be" (see the notes at Luke 17:26-27). Matthew 24:40. "Then shall two (men) be in the field" - at their ordinary work - "the one shall be taken, and the other left. Matthew 24:41. Two women shall be grinding at the mill (see the note at Mark 9:42); the one shall be taken, and the other left" - the children of this world and the children of light mingled to the last. See the notes at Luke 17:34-36.


Verse 33

Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 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.

[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. The idea thus far is similar to that in the opening part of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-15).

And commanded the porter, [ too (G3588) thurooroo (G2377) - or 'the gate-keeper,'] to watch - pointing to the official duty of the ministers of religion to give warning of approaching danger to the people.


Verse 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:

Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning - an allusion to the four Roman watches of the night.


Verse 36

Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

Lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. See the notes at Luke 12:35-40; Luke 12:42-46.


Verse 37

And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

And what I say unto you - this discourse, it will be remembered, was delivered in private,

I say unto all, Watch - anticipating and requiring the diffusion of His teaching by them among all His disciples, and its perpetuation through all time.

The closing words of the discourse, as given by Luke, Luke 21:34-36, are remarkable. "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be over-charged" [barunthoosin], or 'weighted down [ bareethoosin (Greek #916),' "with surfeiting" [ kraipalee (Greek #2897)] - 'debauchery,' or its effects; "and drunkenness" - meaning all animal excesses, which quench spirituality; "and cares of this life" - engrossing the interest, absorbing the attention, and so choking spirituality: "and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare" - a trap catching them when least expecting it - "shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always" - the two great duties which, in prospect of trial, are always enjoined - "that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." These warnings, though suggested by the need of preparedness for the tremendous calamities approaching, and the total wreck of the existing state of things, have reference to a Coming of another kind, for judicial vengeance of another nature and on a grander and more awful scale-not ecclesiastical or political but personal, not temporal but eternal-when all safety and blessedness will be found to lie in being able to "STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN" in the glory of His Personal appearing.

The 9 concluding verses of Matthew's account (Mark ) are unique to that Gospel, but are in the same strain of warning to prepare for His Second Coming and the Final Judgment. "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of. And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." On this whole passage, see the notes at Luke 12:35-40; Luke 12:42-46, which is almost identical with it; and on the last words, see the note at Matthew 13:42.

In Luke's account (Luke 21:37-38) the following brief summary is given of our Lord's proceedings until the fifth day (or the Thursday) of His last week: "And in the daytime" [ tas (Greek #3588) heemeras (Greek #2250)] - 'during the days' - "He was teaching in the temple; and at night" [ tas (Greek #3588) nuktas (Greek #3571)] - 'during the nights' - "He went out and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives" - that is, at Bethany.

Remarks:

(1) In the destruction of Jerusalem, and the utter extinction of all that the Jews prided themselves in, on the one hand; and in the preservation, on the other, of the little flock of Christ's disciples, and their secure establishment and gradual diffusion, as now the only visible kingdom of God upon earth-we see an appalling illustration of those great principles of the divine government: "Yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shall diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." "Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise, with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall." "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." (Psalms 37:10-11; Malachi 4:1-2; Matthew 15:13.) Every spiritual edifice that is not built of living stones has the rot in it, and will sooner or later crumble down. Like the house built upon the sand, the storm of divine indignation will sweep it away. Only he that doeth the will of God abideth forever (1 John 2:17). "Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee" (Romans 11:20-21).

(2) We here see the falsity of that shallow view of prophecy which used to be so generally accepted, and even yet is advocated by too many who speak contemptuously of all study of unfulfilled prophecy-that it was designed exclusively for the benefit of those who live after its fulfillment, to confirm their faith in the inspiration by which it was uttered, and generally, in the religion of which it forms a part. Certainly this was not the primary object of our Lord's prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem; because throughout He gives it forth expressly as a directory in prospect of it, for the guidance of those who heard it. "Take heed lest any man deceive you: for many shall come in my name, etc. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be not troubled. When ye shall see the abomination, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (LET HIM THAT READETH UNDERSTAND,) then let them which be in Judea flee, etc.

False Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. Now learn a parable of the fig tree: So ye, in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, known that it is night, even at the doors." And if this prophecy was intended directly for those who lived before its fulfillment, why not others? Even the darkest prophecy-the Apocalypse-bears on its face throughout a reference to those who should live, not after, but before its accomplishment-to forewarn them of coming dangers, to indicate at least the general nature of them, to prepare and animate them to encounter these, and to assure them of the ultimate safety and triumph of Christ's cause and the glorious reward awaiting the steadfast followers of the Lamb. It is the rashness and dogmatism of the students of prophecy, and the fantastic principles which have often been applied to the interpretation of it, that have scared away sensible Christians and grave theologians from this study, despairing of success. But let us take heed of being thus spoiled of so precious a portion of our Scripture inheritance; missing the blessing pronounced on those who read and keep what is written in prophecy (Revelation 1:3), and disobeying our Lord's own solemn injunction: "Whose readeth let him understand" (Mark 13:14).

(3) As temperance in animal indulgences is indispensable to that wakefulness and elevation of spirit which fits us for welcoming Christ when He comes, so that spirit of excess which goes to the utmost lawful indulgence wars against the soul, leaving it a prey to surprises even the most fatal (Luke 21:34-36; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Peter 2:11).

(4) In whatever providential events Christ may come to us (Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15) - even in the summons to "depart and be with Him, which is far better" - it is to His Personal Appearing the second time, without sin unto salvation," that the hearts of believers must ever supremely rise; nor is it a healthy state of soul to stop short of this-as most certainly it is not scriptural. Let us, then, "love His appearing."

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Mark 13:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/mark-13.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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