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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Mark 13



Verses 1-37

Mark 13:1-37. The Eschatologieal Discourse.—The first two verses contain our Lord's prediction of the fall of Jerusalem. To the Jews, such an anticipation would seem blasphemous (cf. Acts 6:14). The discourse that follows does not explicitly develop this prophecy. For "the abomination of desolation" (Mark 13:14) is only a vague reference to the laying waste of Jerusalem, though it does foreshadow some signal profanation of the Temple. (The phrase comes from Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31*, and means a profanation that provokes horror; cf. also 1 Maccabees 1:54; 1 Maccabees 6:7.) The subject of this, the longest speech attributed to Jesus in Mk., is the signs of the end, rather than of the fall of Jerusalem, though the end of the age and the destruction of the city would be closely associated in the mind of the evangelist. Three stages are indicated. There is first (Mark 13:5-13) a period of wars and natural calamities. During it the Christians must expect and face persecution. This is followed (Mark 13:14-23) by the great tribulation, itself heralded by the insult to the Temple. This tribulation will come suddenly and affect the whole country-side of Judæa. At both stages, false prophets and false Christs will arise and deceive many. Even this is not the end. After that tribulation, the powers of nature shall be shaken, and the Son of Man will appear (Mark 13:24-27). The conclusion of the chapter enforces the duty of watchfulness, on the double ground that the end is near, and yet that the precise hour is incalculable (Mark 13:28-37).

That the discourse is composite appears from the parallels (see notes) in Lk. and Mt. In particular, Mark 13:15 f. is given in a better context in Luke 17:31 f. and is not reproduced in Luke 21:21. The genuineness of the discourse as an utterance of Jesus, has been disputed on the following grounds: (a) The setting forth of signs of the end is inconsistent with the reply of Jesus to the Pharisees in Luke 17:20 f. Similarly, the distinguishing of preparatory stages does not fit in with the emphasis on the suddenness of the coming of the Son of Man, which is characteristic of the Lucan passage, nor with the general tone of Mark 13:32-37. (b) These signs of the end are customary features of Jewish apocalyptic (p. 432). The belief in a great tribulation heralding the Messiah is "Rabbinic. The Rabbis had their doctrine of the woes, or birthpangs (Mark 13:8) of Messiah. The characteristics of each stage are based on OT passages; with Mark 13:12 cf. Micah 7:6, with Mark 13:19 cf. Joel 2:2 and Daniel 12:1, and with Mark 13:24 f. cf. Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 24:23, Ezekiel 32:7. (c) The whole discourse deals with questions raised by the later experience of the Church (so Loisy, pp. 367f.). It has, therefore, been suggested that a Jewish apocalypse, which may be held to have included Mark 13:7 f., Mark 13:12; Mark 13:14, Mark 13:17-22, Mark 13:24-27, Mark 13:30, has been edited, together with genuine utterances of Jesus, in order to strengthen the faith of Christians about thirty or forty years after the Crucifixion, when they were perplexed by the delay of the appearing of their Lord. The parenthesis to the reader in Mark 13:14, if it is not a later gloss, suggests that a writing of some kind, not a report of a speech, forms the basis of the chapter. This hypothesis removes many difficulties, e.g. the problem of reconciling Mark 13:30 and Mark 13:32. But we do not know how far Jesus entered into detail as to the events leading up to the end. The prediction of Jerusalem's fall, the anticipation of disaster and tribulation for His own people, the warning against anxiety whether in the presence of war or of persecution, the exhortation of watchfulness, clearly come from Jesus Himself.

Mark 13:32. This is one of Schmiedel's "pillar-passages" (EBi., col. 1881). A passage admitting a limit to Christ's knowledge must be trustworthy history, according to Schmiedel. Certainly later commentators found the verse difficult. Some Fathers identify the Son with the Church. But Dalman holds that the absolute use of the terms, "the Son" and "the Father," unique in Mk., point to the influence of later theology at least on the wording of the saying (Words of Jesus, p. 194). Whatever the original form of the saying, it belongs with Mark 10:40. [The position in the climax accorded to the Son, above the angels, is specially noteworthy.—A. S. P.]


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Mark 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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