Mark 13
ICC New Testament Commentary
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!

13:1-37. As they are coming out of the temple, the disciples call Jesus’ attention to the greatness of the stones, and of the building itself. Jesus predicts its complete destruction. They ask him the sign of this, and Jesus shows them first, the danger that they will be deceived by false Messiahs, and by premature omens. They are not to be disturbed by these, but are to look out for themselves, exposed to great dangers, and burdened with the great responsibility of making known their message to all nations (v. 1-13). But when they see the desolating abomination, the Roman army, standing where it ought not, before the city itself, then they are to get out of the city, and not stand on the order of their going. That is to be a time of unparalleled distress, of false and specially plausible Messiahs, and is to be followed immediately by the coming of the Son of Man with the usual Divine portents (v. 14-27). As to the time of these events, it is to be within that generation, but no one, not even the Son of Man, knows the exact time. They need to be on the watch, therefore (v. 28-37).

There have been, up to recent times, two interpretations of this discourse. Both of them separate it into two principal parts: the prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the prophecy of the consummation of all things with the advent of the Messiah in glory. But one of them, the traditional interpretation, postpones the latter part indefinitely, and is still looking for the world-catastrophe which its advocates suppose to be predicted here. The difficulties in the way of this interpretation are grave and insuperable. It ignores the coupling together of the two parts in the discourse, as belonging to one great event. Mt. v. 29, says that they will follow each other immediately. Mk., that they belong to the same general period. It passes over also, or attempts to explain away, the obvious notes of time. All of the accounts wait until they have come to the end of the prophecy, including both parts, before they introduce the statement of the time of all these events, and the statement itself is, that that generation was not to pass away till all these things came to pass. Further, it leaves unexplained the expectation of an immediate coming which colors all the other N.T. books, and all the life of the Church in the subsequent period. But especially, it runs counter to the historical interpretation of prophecy, which gives us the only key to its rational exegesis, by postponing to an indefinite future events which the prophecy itself regards as growing out of the present situation.

The other interpretation, the common one at present, interpreting the prophecy itself in the same way, places the time of its fulfilment in that generation. That is, they involve Jesus himself in the evident error of the other N.T. writings and of the Church in the subsequent period. The error of this interpretation, exegetically not so serious as the other, is that it takes literally language which can be shown to be figurative. But the other and more serious difficulty is, that it commits Jesus to a programme of the future which is directly counter to all his teachings in regard to the kingdom of God.

A third interpretation, the one adopted here, holds that the event predicted in the second part did take place in that generation, and in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem. The event itself, and the signs of it, it interprets according to the analogy of prophecy, figuratively. It finds numerous instances of such use in O.T. prophecy. God coming in the clouds of heaven with his angels, and preceded or announced by disturbances in the heavenly bodies, is the ordinary prophetic manner of describing any special Divine interference in the affairs of nations. See especially Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:14, Daniel 7:27, where this language is used of the coming of the Son of Man, i.e. of the kingdom of the saints, to take the place of the world-kingdoms. The prophecy becomes thus a prediction of the setting up of the kingdom, and especially of its definite inauguration as a universal kingdom, with the removal of the chief obstacle to that in the destruction of Jerusalem.

1. Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ—And as he was coming out of the temple. The previous scene was in the court of the temple. ἱερόν denotes the whole temple-enclosure. εἷς τῶν μαθητῶν—one of his disciples. We are not told who it was. Mt. says, his disciples; Lk., certain people.1 ποταποὶ λίθοι—what manner of stones.Liddell and Scott2 Josephus gives the dimensions of these stones as 25 cubits in length, 12 in breadth, and 8 in height. Ferguson, in Bib. Dic., gives the measurements of the temple proper, the ναός, as about 100 cubits by 60, with inner enclosure about 180 cubits by 240, and an outer enclosure 400 cubits square, the enclosures being adorned with porticoes and gates of great magnificence.

2. Καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἷπεν αὐτῷ, Βλέπεις ταῦτας τὰς μεγάλας οἰκοδομάσ; οὐ μὴ ἀφεθῇ ὧδε λίθος ἐπὶ λίθον, ὃς οὐ μὴ καταλυθῇ—And Jesus said to him, Seest thou these great structures? There will not be left here stone upon stone, which will not be destroyed. This is a rhetorical statement of utter destruction. It would not be a non-fulfilment of this prophecy to find parts of the original structure still standing.

Omit ἀποκριθεὶς, answering, after Ἰησοῦς, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL 33, 115, 237, 255, one ms. Lat. Vet. Egyptt. Pesh. Insert ὧδε, here, after ἀφεθῇ, Treg. WH. RV. א BDGLM2 U Δ mss. Lat. Vet. Pesh. Tisch. objects to this insertion as being taken from Mt., where it occurs without variation. λίθον, instead of λίθῳ, after ἐπὶ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BGLMUX ΓΔΠ 1, 13, 28, 33, 69, etc. D and a number of mss. of Lat. Vet. add here, and after three days, another will rise up without hands! See J. 2:19.

3. καὶ καθημένου αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ ὄρος τ. ἐλαίων3—And he seating himself on the Mount of Olives. Mk. alone adds, over against the temple, as the situation would recall the previous conversation on coming out of the temple. ἐπηρώτα αὐτὸν κατʼ ἰδίαν Πέτρος καὶ Ἰάκωβος κ. Ἰωάννης κ. Ἀνδρέας—Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately. Mk. retains here the order of these names given by him in the account of the appointment of the twelve.4

ἐπηρώτα, instead of ἐπηρώτων, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL 13, 28, 33, 69, 229, Harcl. marg. εἰπὸν, instead of εἰπὲ, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BDL 1, 13, 28, 33, 69, 346.

4. Εἰπὸν5 ἡμῖν, πότε ταῦτα ἔσται—Tell us, when these things will be. ταῦτα refers to the destruction of the temple just mentioned.6 But in giving the answer of Jesus, Mk. introduces false Messiahs in such a way as to seem to imply a previous reference to his own reappearance, so that Mk.’s report taken as a whole would imply more than this single reference of the ταῦτα. But this appearance of false Messiahs in Mk.’s account may easily be explained as one of the premature signs of the catastrophe which makes the single subject of the prophecy so far. Moreover, the way in which the destruction of the temple, the reappearance of Jesus, and the consummation of the age are introduced in Mt. (24:2, 3) shows conclusively that in that Gospel the three are all treated as parts and titles of the one event.

5. Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἤρξατο λέγειν αὐτοῖς, Βλέπετε μὴ1—And Jesus began to say to them, Beware lest.

Omit ἀποκριθεὶς, answering, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL 33, Egyptt. Pesh.

6. πολλοὶ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου—Many will come in my name.

Omit γὰρ, for, Tisch. (Treg. marg.) WH. RV. א* B Egyptt.

This warning against false Messiahs coming in his name is occasioned apparently by a part of their question, given by Mt. alone, who states their inquiry thus—what is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age? Nothing has been said by Mk. to lead up to this warning. The prophecy has been the destruction of the Temple, and the question of the apostles has been when that is to take place. But nothing has been said of his coming. The account of the previous conversation in Mt. would seem necessary therefore to supplement the account of Mk. But see note on ταῦτα, v. 4. Moreover, the παρουσία, the coming, of Mt. has no antecedents, and yet it is introduced as something well understood by the disciples, of which they inquired only the time. Before this, the Gospels have taken us only as far as the resurrection of Jesus predicted by himself. And even that prediction they tell us that the disciples did not understand. And yet, here they are talking of his coming again as an understood fact. If it was, then their dismay at his death, and their unbelief of his resurrection, are unaccountable. ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου, in my name. Not his personal name, but his official title. They would not assume to be Jesus returned to the earth, but they would claim his title of Messiah.

7. πολέμους κ. ἀκοὰς πολέμων—wars and rumors of wars. Jesus speaks first of false Messiahs, against whom he warns them. Now, he comes to those commotions which are apt to be taken by men living in critical times and looking forward to great events, as signs of the future. μὴ θροεῖσθε—be not alarmed.2 The reason of this injunction is given in what follows, δεῖ γενέσθαι, they have to come, although γὰρ after δεῖ is to be omitted.3 These wars and rumors of wars are necessary, being involved in the nature of things; they are always happening, and so men are not to be disturbed by them as if they were things out of the ordinary course to be construed as signs. They are necessary, but they are not signs of the end; the end is not yet.

Omit γὰρ, for, after δεῖ, it is necessary, Tisch. (Treg. marg.) WH. RV. א* B Egyptt.

8. Ἐγερθήσεται γὰρ ἔθνος ἐπʼ ἔθνος—For nation will rise against nation. A confirmation of the preceding statement, that wars must be. ἔσονται σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους1—there will be earthquakes in divers places. ἔσονται λιμοί—there will be famines. The statement gains in impressiveness by the omission of καὶ before these clauses; it reads, For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in divers places; there will be famines.

Omit καὶ, and, before ἔσονται σεισμοὶ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBDL 28, 124, 299, Egyptt. Omit καὶ before ἔσονται λιμοί, Tisch. (Treg.) WH. RV. אc BL 28, Memph. Omit καὶ ταραχαί, and tumults, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א* and c BDL mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph.

ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων ταῦτα—these things are a beginning of travails. The word ὠδίνων was in popular use to denote the calamities preceding the advent of the Messiah, and the reason of the figure is to be found not only in the pains, but in the joyous event which they ushered in. But they do not mark the end, but the beginning of that process of travail by which the new birth of the world is to be brought about. The whole paragraph, so far, is a statement of things which need not alarm them, since they are not, as men take them to be, signs of the end.

ἀρχὴ, instead of ἀρχαὶ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBDKLS* U ΔΠ* mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg.

9. Βλέπετε δὲ ὑμεῖς ἑαυτούς. ὑμεῖς is emphatic. But do ye take heed to yourselves. They are not to go about after false Messiahs nor studying portents; they will have their work to do in looking after themselves. παραδώσουσι ὑμᾶς—they will deliver you up. συνέδρια—councils. The word is used of the local tribunals to be found in Jewish towns, modelled somewhat after the Sanhedrim, the great council of Jerusalem. καὶ εἰς συναγωγὰς—and into synagogues. The words belong to the preceding παραδώσουσιν, and δαρήσεσθε stands by itself. It reads, They will deliver you up to councils and to synagogues. You will be beaten.2 The synagogues were the ecclesiastical tribunal of the town, as the συνέδρια were the municipal court. ἡγεμόνων—the word used in Greek to denote the Roman provincial governors. To sum up, συνέδρια and συναγωγαί were Jewish tribunals,1 and ἡγεμόνες and βασιλεῖς were Gentile rulers. They were to be brought before both. ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ—for my sake. It was to be because of their attachment to him, that they were to be brought to trial. εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς—for a testimony to them. This was the Divine purpose of their appearance before earthly tribunals. They were to stand there to testify to Jesus.

Omit γὰρ after παραδώσουσι, Tisch. (Treg.) Treg. marg. WH. BL Memph.

10. Κ. εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη—And in all the nations must the glad tidings first be heralded. This is suggested by the mention of Gentile rulers in the preceding. It is a part of that, moreover, which makes it necessary for them to look out for themselves during this period. They are to be subject not only to private persecutions, but to governmental oppositions, and under that pressure they are nevertheless to become heralds of the good news of the kingdom of God in every nation, before the end comes. Hence they have themselves to look out for, and not rumors and portents and signs. Moreover, this shows what he means by the care of themselves that he enjoins upon them. It is not care for their safety, but for their spiritual condition in the face of such opposition, and of so difficult a work.

11. Καὶ ὅταν ἄγωσιν ὐμὰς παραδίδοντες—This is difficult to render. It means, whenever, in the act of delivering them up, men are leading them to the authorities.

καὶ ὅταν, instead of Ὅταν δὲ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL 33, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. ἄγωσιν, instead of ἀγάγωσιν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABDGHKLMUX ΓΠ.

μὴ προμεριμνᾶτε2 τί λαλήσητε, ἀλλʼ ὃ ἐὰν δοθῇ ὑμῖν ἐν ἐκείνῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ, τοῦτο λαλεῖτε—do not be anxious beforehand what to say; but whatever is given you in that hour, this speak. The etymological sense of προμεριμνᾶτε fits in here; do not be distracted before hand; do not let your attention be divided and drawn off from the more important matters before you. ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ—what to speak will be given you at the time of your trial, contrasted with προμεριμνᾶτε. The fact, that it is the Holy Spirit which is to speak in them, shows that it is not their defence of which Jesus is thinking, but of the testimony to the kingdom, v. 9, which is the Divine purpose in bringing them there. This title, Holy Spirit, which became so common in Christian phraseology, is found already in the Jewish writings (not the O.T.) Sap. 1:5. See note on 1:8.

Omit μηδὲ μελετᾶτε, nor rehearse, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL 1, 33, 69, 157, 209, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Egyptt.

12. καὶ παραδώσει ἀδελφὸς ἀδελφὸν εἰς θάνατον—And brother will deliver up brother to death.

καὶ παραδώσει, instead of παραδώσει δὲ, א BDL mss. Lat. Vet. Egyptt.

They will be subject not only to governmental opposition, but to private persecution, and this will extend even to members of their own families, so bitter will be the hostility awakened against them.

13. ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος—But he who has remained steadfast to the end. ὑπομένω denotes steadfastness under trial and opposition. This closes Jesus’ statement of the reason for their taking heed to themselves. They will be persecuted by the powers of the world, and hated by everybody, even in their own families, and in the face of this opposition will have to carry the Gospel to all nations, and the price of their salvation will be steadfastness under it all, even to the end.

14. Ὅταν δὲ ἵδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως ἐστηκότα ὅπου οὐ δεῖ—Jesus comes now to the real cause of alarm, the sign of the end. It is the βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως, the abomination of desolation, or the desolating abomination, standing where it ought not. This title is taken directly from the Sept. of Daniel 11:31, Daniel 12:11, where it refers probably to the idol altar placed on the altar of burnt offerings by Antiochus Epiphanes. But it seems probable here, that the word, as is frequently the case in N.T. quotations from the O.T., are to be taken not in their historical sense, but in a sense more applicable to the N.T. occasion, and easily contained within the words themselves. Lk. supplies us with this interpretation, when he makes Jerusalem surrounded by armies to be the sign of the end. Jerusalem would be the holy place (Matthew 24:15) where the abomination of desolation ought not to stand, and the abomination of desolation would be the abhorred and devastating armies of Rome. Wars and rumors of wars, as long as they keep away from the holy place, are not signs of the end, but when they attack the holy city, then beware. ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω—let him that reads understand. There has been much debate whether these words belong to Jesus’ discourse, or have been interpolated by the writer. The use of ἀναγινώσκων, instead of ἀκούων, decides this, as the omission of the words τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ, τ. προφ, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, leaves nothing for ἀναγινώσκων to refer to, except what Jesus himself says, and it is only after that has been committed to writing, that ἀναγινώσκων can be used in reference to it. Mk. intends to call special attention to this part of Jesus’ prophecy. And evidently this is because his readers stood in the shadow of this approaching event, and it became them therefore to read intelligently what Jesus has to say about it. If it is asked why attention is called to this particular part of the prophecy, it is because Jesus himself calls attention to it as containing the key to the situation; this is the sign of the end. When that takes place, they need expect no other result of the siege, than that predicted. εἰς τὰ ὄρη—into the mountains. Mountains are mentioned as the natural places of refuge.

15. ὁ (δὲ) ἐπὶ τοῦ δώματος μὴ καταβάτω, μηδὲ εἰσελθάτω1 ἆραί τι ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας αὐτοῦ—(And) let not him who is upon the house descend, nor go in to take anything out of the house. They are not to descend, but flee immediately by the external approach to the roof, instead of going down into the house for any purpose. The whole is an expression of the haste necessary to escape the impending event.

Omit δὲ (Treg. marg.) WH. BFH, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. Omit εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν, into the house, Tisch. WH. RV. א BL two mss. Lat. Vet. Egyptt. Pesh. εἰσελθάτω, instead of -θέτω, Tisch. Treg. WH. אADL Δ 13, 28, 346.

16. Καὶ ὁ εἰς τὸν ἀγρὸν μὴ ἐπιστρεψάτω εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω ἄραι τὸ ἱμάτιον—and let not him who is in the field turn back to take his outer garment. The picture is of a man who has left his outer garment in the house for work in the field.

Omit ὢν after ἀγρὸν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL Δ 1, 28, 209, 245, 299, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph.

18. προσεύχεσθε δὲ ἵνα μὴ γένηται χειμῶνος—And pray that it may not take place in the winter time. The catastrophe is meant, and not their flight. The reason given, viz. the unheard-of greatness of the calamity, shows this.

Omit ἡ φυγὴ ὑμῶν, your flight, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א * and ca BDL most mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg.

19. ἔσονται γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκ. θλίψις—for those days will be tribulation, instead of a time of tribulation. Wetstein translates the expression, one prolonged calamity. οἵα οὐ γέγονε τοιαύτη—literally, such as there has not been such.2

ἢν, instead of ἧς, after κτίσεως, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BC * L 28.

20. Καὶ εἰ μὴ ἐκολόβωσεν3 κύριος τὰς ἡμέρας, οὐκ ἂν ἐσώθη πᾶσα σάρξ—And if the Lord had not shortened those days, no flesh would have been saved. The aor. tenses put this action in the past—if the Lord had not shortened the time, no flesh would have been saved. The language is proleptic, stating the event as it already existed in the Divine decree.1 It is needless to say that ἐσώθη is used of physical deliverance, though it has been interpreted of the deliverance from temptation to unfaithfulness in such an hour of trial. τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς οὕς ἐξελέξατο—the elect, whom he elected.2 There will be some among that multitude given over to destruction who are God’s own chosen ones, and on their account he shortened (in the Divine decree) these days. It would be the number, and not the length of those days, that God would shorten.

21. Καὶ τότε ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ, Ἴδε, ὧδε ὁ χριστός, ἴδε, ἐκεῖ, μὴ πιστεύετε—And then, if any one says to you, See, here the Messiah, see, there, believe it not. τότε, then, is added to the warning against false Messiahs appearing in the preceding period (v. 6).

Ἴδε, instead of the first ἰδού, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BL. Ἴδε, instead of second Ἰδού, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BDL 28. Omit ἤ, or, before it, Tisch. WH. א LU 40, 69, 127, 131, 157, two mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. πιστεύετε, instead of πιστεύσητε, Tisch. Treg. WH. א ABCDEFHLV Δ.

22. ἐγερθήσονται γὰρ (δὲ) ψευδόχριστοι καὶ ψευδοπροφῆται,3 καὶ δώσουσι (ποιήσουσι) σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα,4 πρὸς τὸ ἀποπλανᾷν, εἰ δυνατόν, τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς—for (and) false Messiahs and false prophets will arise, and will give (do) signs and prodigies, in order to deceive, if possible, the elect.

δώσουσι belongs especially to σημεῖα, rather than τέρατα. A sign is something given in proof of one’s claim. τέρατα denotes miracles as wonders, abortive, unearthly, and portentous phenomena, and thus corresponds most exactly to our word miracles. πρὸς τὸ ἀποπλανᾷν5 may denote result, as well as object.6 But εἰ δυνατόν, if possible, points to the signification of object. ἐκλεκτούς, here and in v. 20, does not have its dogmatic sense, but the literary sense of choice or picked men seems to accord with the spirit of the passage. They are distinguished from the common crowd.

This manifestation of false Messiahs and prophets is to be distinguished from the one in v. 6, in the time before the end, being accompanied by these miracles and signs, so that the danger of deception is greater.

Tisch. reads δὲ, instead of γὰρ, at the beginning of the verse with א C, regarding γὰρ as copied from Mt., where it is the invariable reading. Also ποιήσουσιν, instead of δώσουσι, with D 13, 28, 69, 91, 124, 299, 346, two mss. Lat. Vet., for the same reason. Omit καὶ before τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς, Tisch. (Treg.) WH. RV. א BDgrk.

It is singular to see David George (1556), Lodowick Muggleton (1746), John Cochran (1868), enumerated among the Messiahs foretold in this prophecy. (Morison.) Whatever opinion is held as to the contents of the prophecy, whether it refers simply to the destruction of Jerusalem with whatever significance may be attached to that, or includes also the visible coming of the Lord and the final judgment, there is general consent now that the prophecy is restricted in time to that generation, v. 30. In general, the historical interpretation of prophecy is fairly settled.

23. ὑμεῖς δὲ βλέπετε—But do you be on the lookout. The effect of the insertion of the pronoun is to emphasize it. The purpose of the false prophets and Messiahs is to deceive even the elect. But they, the elect, are to take heed. They do not belong to the unprepared multitude, but have been prepared by their Master. Those who divide the prophecy into two parts, one referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the other to the end of the world, make the division at v. 20. But this ὑμεῖς βλέπετε is strongly against any interpretation which makes the warning refer to a time when none of the disciples to whom it was addressed were living. The warning might include others besides these, but should certainly include them.

Omit ἰδού, lo, before προείρηκα, I have told you beforehand, Tisch. Treg. WH. BL 28 one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph.

We come now to the coming of the Son of Man, with its accompanying portents, v. 24-27. It is placed after the destruction of Jerusalem, but in the same general period: in those days, after that affliction. The portents, the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars, belong to that event, and not to the destruction of Jerusalem. This separation of the two events which might seem to belong together, means that the fall of Jerusalem is a preparation for the Advent, which cannot take place without it. It is that end of the old order which must precede the beginning of the new.

24. ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις—in those days. These words denote the general period which he is describing, the fall of Jerusalem. This coming of the Son of Man belongs to that epoch. μετὰ τὴν θλίψιν ἐκείνην—after that calamity. The θλίψις referred to is that of v. 19; so that what follows is included in the period, but placed after the calamity. ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται—the sun will be darkened. This disturbance of the heavenly bodies, and the prediction of the coming of the Son of Man, have been supposed to be decisive of the view that this prophecy looks beyond the fall of Jerusalem to the end of the world. But this darkening and fall of the heavenly bodies is so common an accompaniment of O.T. prophecy, and its place is so definitely and certainly fixed there, as belonging to the Apocalyptic imagery of prophecy, and not to the prediction of events, that it presents no difficulty whatever, and does not even create a presumption in favor of the view that this is a prophecy of the final catastrophe. In Isaiah 13:10, it reads, “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. … I will make the heaven to tremble, and the earth shall be shaken out of her place.” But this is a part of the prophecy of the destruction of Babylon by the Medes. In Isaiah 34:4, it reads, “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and all their host shall fade away as the leaf fadeth from off the vine, and as a fading leaf from the fig tree,” where the event predicted is the judgment of Edom. In Ezekiel 32:7, Ezekiel 32:8, similar language is used of the judgment of Egypt, and in Amos 8:9, of the northern kingdom. In Joel 2:30, Joel 2:31, Joel 2:3:15, where the subject is the judgment of the nations in connection with the return of Judah from captivity (see 3:1), it says: “I will show wonders in the heavens above, and in the earth blood and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. … The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.” That is to say, this language is intended to portray the greatness of the doom of such nations as come under the judgment of God. When he comes in judgment, the earth and even the heavens dissolve before him. But it is needless to minimize these words into eclipses, or earthquakes, or meteoric showers, or to magnify them into actual destruction of sun and moon and stars. They are not events, but only imaginative portrayal of what it means for God to interfere in the history of nations. αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ ἐν τ. οὐρανοῖς. δύναμις is used frequently in Greek writers of armies, hosts, and hence it is used to translate the Heb. צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם the host of heaven, a phrase used of the stars (2 K. 17:16, 23:4, Isaiah 34:4). See Thay.-Grm. Lex.

ἔσονται ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, instead of τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἔσονται, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCU Π* mss. Lat. Vet. Egyptt. Pesh. πίπτοντες, instead of ἐκπίπτοντες, same editors, and א BCDL Π* mss. Lat. Vet.

26. καὶ τότε ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν τ. ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενον ἐν νεφελαῖς—And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds. This language is not to be taken literally, any more than that about the heavenly bodies. That is, usage makes it unnecessary, and in this case, the immediate connection with the destruction of Jerusalem makes it impossible. In Psalm 97:1-5, the reign of God on earth has the same accompaniment of clouds, darkness, and fire. In Isaiah 19:1, Yahweh is represented as coming on a swift cloud to Egypt. In Zechariah 9:14, when God stirs the sons of Zion against the sons of Greece, he, himself, is seen above the combatants, sending forth his arrows like lightning, blowing the trumpet, and coming in the whirlwinds of the south. And in Psalm 18:5-16, is the locus classicus, where all the powers of nature are made to contribute to the pomp of Yahweh’s coming to the rescue of his servant. But the passage from which this language is taken is Daniel 7:13, in which one like a Son of Man comes with the clouds of heaven, and the Ancient of Days gives him an everlasting and universal kingdom. The writer has seen a vision of four beasts, which are four kingdoms, and then he has a vision not of a beast, but of a Son of Man, to whom is given not a perishable kingdom like that of the beasts, but an everlasting kingdom. And when he explains this kingdom like the others, it appears to be the kingdom of the saints of the Most High. But the point is, that in this vision, the clouds are not to be taken literally; they make a part of the picture, intended to represent that this kingdom to be set up on the earth is after all not an earthly kingdom, but one coming down out of heaven, a theocracy. If any one had suggested to the writer, that it was to have a literal fulfilment, he would have said that that was not in his mind. Jesus then, in adopting this language, meant that this prophecy out of the O.T. was to be fulfilled in himself at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. Then the kingdom of God is to be set up in the world, that unworldly and everlasting kingdom of which the sign is not a beast, but one like a Son of Man coming in the clouds. But here, we face the question, what there was in this catastrophe of the Jewish nation which can be described as a coming of the Son of Man in the clouds with power and great glory. All the marks of time in the chapter point to that one time and confine us to that; and, as we have seen, the language, which seems to point to a world-catastrophe and the consummation of all things, does not take us beyond that, since it is used elsewhere of events, such as the destruction of Babylon and the judgment of Edom, which have the same general character as this destruction of Jerusalem. But what is there about this event that can be called a coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory? The answer to this is to be found in the fact that Christ is said in the N.T., to have assumed the seat of power at the right hand of God, and especially that the government of the world has been committed to him. The same language that has been used in the O.T., therefore, to represent a Divine intervention in the affairs of the world, especially in great national crises, is now applied to the Messianic King, who rules, not on an earthly but a heavenly throne. And neither in the one case nor the other is a visible coming implied. But Mt., in the account of the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrim, uses a word which is decisive of the way in which the coming of the Son of Man is to be taken. Jesus says, Matthew 26:64, ἀπʼ ἄρτι ὄψεσθε τ. υἱὸν τ. ἀνθρώπου καθήμενον ἐκ δεξιῶν τ. δυνάμεως, κ. ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τ. νεφελῶν—Henceforth, from this time on, you will see the Son of Man seated on the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. This settles two things: first, that the coming is not a single event, any more than the sitting on the right hand of Power; and second, that it was a thing which was to begin with the very time of our Lord’s departure from the world. Moreover, the two things, the sitting at the right hand of Power, and the coming, are connected in such a way as to mean that he is to assume power in heaven and exercise it here in the world. The period beginning with the departure of Jesus from the world was to be marked by this assumption of heavenly power by the Christ, and by repeated interferences in crises of the world’s history, of which this destruction of Jerusalem was the first. With it, there was to be a consummation of that age, συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος, a winding up of the Jewish period, and with it the removal of the great obstacle at that time to the setting up of the kingdom of God in the world.

27. κ. τότε ἀποστελεῖ τοὺς ἀγγέλους, κ. ἐπισυνάξει τ. ἐκλεκτοὺς, etc.—And then he will send forth the angels, and will gather (his) elect. This gathering of the elect is the process of establishing the kingdom, and has been going on from the beginning. All the processes by which men are brought to the acknowledgment of Christ and the obedience of the kingdom belong to the gathering of the elect. The angels represent the invisible heavenly agencies in an earthly event. The introduction of them means that there is that invisible, Divine side to a human transaction. Back of all that men are doing for the conversion of the world, is the Lord Christ with the hosts of heaven, see J. 1:51. As for the time, it begins then, at the time of the consummation of the Jewish age, because Judaism was the great obstacle at that time to the universal spread of the kingdom. Under its influence, Christianity threatened to become a mere appendage of Judaism, to have the particularism, formalism, and legalism of that religion grafted upon it in such a way that it could never become a universal religion. With the removal of this obstacle, could begin, not the gathering of the elect, but the gathering of them from the four quarters of the world, the universal gathering.

Omit αὐτοῦ, his, after τοὺς ἀγγέλους, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. BDL mss. Lat. Vet. Omit αὐτοῦ after ἐκλεκτοὺς, Tisch. Treg. (WH.) DL 1, 28, 91, 299, mss. Lat. Vet. Tisch. regards αὐτοῦ as taken from Matthew 24:31.

28. τὴν παραβολὴν—the parable, the illustration or analogy to be drawn from the fig tree. ὅταν … ὁ κλάδος … ἀπαλὸς γένηται—whenever its branch has become tender. When the young branches, or twigs, that produce the leaves are softened by the sap flowing through them. These things are a sign of approaching summer, and signs are just as reliable in the world of events as in the physical world. But they are signs of the same kind. Causes are to be found in effects, and effects in causes in both spheres.

29. οὕτω καὶ ὑμεῖς—the pronoun is emphatic, distinguishing the restricted ὑμεῖς, addressed only to his disciples, from the general ὑμεῖς implied in the preceding γινώσκετε. You know, and so does everybody, the natural sign; and you disciples are to know in like manner these signs of coming events. ταῦτα—these things, the besieging armies, and the sufferings of the siege, see v. 14. ἐγγύς ἐστιν—it is near; the subject is taken for granted as being in all their minds. ἐπὶ θύραις— at the doors, a common figurative expression of nearness.

30. ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη—this generation. The word is always used by Jesus to denote the men living at that time. This use is sufficient against the supposition that it means the Jewish race, or the human race, devices introduced to make it possible to interpret the prophecy as applying to the end of the world. But what meaning would either have as marks of time for the general winding up of human affairs? No, the statement means that these events are to take place during the lifetime of Jesus’ contemporaries, and the events are, therefore, what the whole prophecy surely indicates, those connected with the fall of the Jewish state and the destruction of Jerusalem. πάντα ταῦτα—Here is the answer to those who suppose that the prophecy is to be divided into two parts, one predicting the Jewish catastrophe, and the other the world-catastrophe. All these things, and not the minor part of them, are to take place within that generation.

31. A proverbial statement of the inevitableness of his words. The most stable and enduring of all physical things, in fact the whole physical frame of things, will pass away, i.e. will perish and come to naught; but his words are imperishable.

παρελεύσονται, instead of παρελθῶσι, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BL. Omit μὴ, WH. BD *.

32. περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης ἢ τῆς ὥρας—Jesus has given them the signs by which they may recognize the event when it comes, and has told them generally that it will be within that generation, but more specifically, the day, or the hour, no one knows. οὐδὲ … οὐδὲ. The use of οὐδέ forbids our translating this neither, nor. The first means not even and the second nor. οὐδέ is disjunctive, whereas neither, nor, is conjunctive. The preceding verses have fixed the time; this declares it to be unknown. And from this an inference has been made favorable to the view that the prophecy is divided into two parts, the fixed and near time being assigned to the near event, and the unknown time to the far event of the general catastrophe. But the conjunction of day and hour in the statement serves to call attention to the exact time, and to the greater or less approximateness of knowledge which Jesus disclaims in regard to it. This is emphasized, rather than a certain period contrasted with another. Moreover, here as elsewhere in the discourse, there is an absence of everything to mark off the two periods from each other.

οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός—This denial of omniscience to the Son has caused all manner of theological tinkering. It means, say some, that he did not know it on his human side; or by a refinement, he did know it as man, but the knowledge was not derived from his human nature, but from the Divine; or he had no knowledge of it that he was authorized to impart, he was not supposed to know it; or the knowledge lay within his reach, but he did not choose to take it up into his consciousness; and some go so far even as to make the passage an Arian interpolation. But the statement need create no surprise in those who accept the statement of our Lord’s humanity, especially when it is accompanied by statements of this particular limitation of his humanity; cf. Luke 2:52, Mark 11:12, Mark 11:13. εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ—literally, except the Father. This belongs with οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, and should follow it immediately—no one knows, except the Father. The intervening clauses make an adversative statement more normal. This limitation corresponds to what we know of the nature of inspiration. It increases human knowledge, but does not alter the nature of it. It conveys a knowledge of the future as contained in the present, and so an approximate knowledge of the time, e.g. that the fall of the Jewish nation would come in that generation. But it would not enable a man to predict the exact time, the day, or the hour.

ἢ, instead of καὶ, before τῆς ὥρας, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. ABCEGHK Lam_2 UVWb X ΓΔΠ mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Harcl. Omit οἱ before ἐν οὐρανῷ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א DK* LUW 11, 28, 115, 262, 299, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Pesh.

33. Βλέπετε, ἀγρυπνεῖτε1—Take heed, be watchful. This duty of watchfulness arises from the uncertainty of the time. Knowledge of it would leave time for them to be off their guard.

Omit καὶ προσεύχεσθε, and pray, Tisch. (Treg.) WH. RV.marg. BD 122, mss. Lat. Vet. one ms. Vulg.

34. ὡς ἄνθρωπος ἀπόδημος … καὶ τῷ θυρωρῷ ἐνετείλατο ἵνα γρηγορῇ, γρηγορεῖτε—There is nothing to be supplied before ὡς like ἐστίν, but the correlative of ὡς is γρηγορεῖτε. It reads—As a man away from home, having left his house, and having given the charge to his servants, also gave orders to the porter to watch, watch ye therefore. The full statement of the comparison would be, so I say to you, watch. The abruptness of the statement in its present form makes it more forcible.

Omit καὶ before ἑκάστῳ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* DL 238, 248, mss. Lat. Vet.

ἢ ὀψέ, ἢ μεσονύκτιον, ἢ ἀλεκτοροφωνίας,1 ἢ πρωΐ—either in the evening, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or in the morning. These words denote the four watches of the night, from six to six.2

Insert ἢ before ὀψέ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. Harcl. marg. μεσονύκτιον,3 instead of -τίου, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BCL Δ.

36. μὴ ἐλθὼν ἐξαίφνης εὕρῃ ὑμᾶς καθεύδοντας—lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. This clause depends on γρηγορεῖτε, v. 35—watch, lest he find you sleeping. The last clause of v. 35 is parenthetical.

37. ὃ δὲ ὑμῖν λέγω, πᾶσι λέγω, Γρηγορεῖτε—and what I say to you, I say to all, Watch. What Jesus had said before applied especially to the apostles, whose duties, like those of porter in a house, required special watchfulness. But in the kingdom of God, this watchfulness is required of all, though it is specially necessary in those left in charge of things. It is not intended to carry out the comparison any further than this, that the apostles, like a doorkeeper in a house, needed specially to be on the watch.

1Matthew 24:1, Luke 21:5.

2 ποταποί is a later form for the Greek ποδαποί. On the etymology of the word, see Liddell and Scott, Thay.-Grm. Lex. Properly, the word denotes origin—from what country?—but from Demos. on, it has also the meaning, of what sort? Here, it is exclamatory, calling attention to the greatness of the temple buildings.

Bib. Dic. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible (1st or 2d edition).

Tisch. Tischendorf.

Treg. Tregelles.

WH. Westcott and Hort.

RV. Revised Version.

אԠCodex Sinaiticus.

B Codex Vaticanus.

L Codex Regius.

33 Codex Regius.

Lat. Vet. Vetus Latina.

Egyptt. Egyptian Versions.

Pesh. Peshito.

D Codex Ephraemi.

M Codex Campianus.

U Codex Nanianus.

Δ̠Codex Sangallensis

G Codex Wolfi A.

Γ̠Codex Tischendorfianus

Π̠Codex Petropolitianus

1 .Codex Basiliensis

13 Codex Regius.

28 Codex Regius.

69 Codex Leicestrensis.

3 On this use of εἰς with a verb of rest, see Thay.-Grm. Lex.

4 See 3:16-18.

Harcl. Harclean.

marg. Revided Version marg.

346 Codex Ambrosianus.

5 The imper. εἰπόν is from sec. aor. εἶπα.

6 The plural is used because this event is complex, including in itself a multiplied series of events.

1 On this unclassical use of βλέπειν, see Thay.-Grm. Lex.

2 A late meaning of the word, which means properly, do not make an outcry.

3 Notice the asyndetic character of the entire discourse, so peculiar to Mk.’s abrupt style.

1 On this distributive use of κατὰ, see Win. 49 d, b).

Memph. Memphitic.

Vulg. Vulgate.

K Codex Cyprius.

S Codex Vaticanus.

2 So Erasmus, Tyndale, Meyer, Treg. Morison. The more common interpretation makes εἰς συναγωγὰς a pregnant construction after δαρήσεσθε—you will be (taken) into synagogues (and) beaten. Meyer points out that to leave δαρήσεσθε standing disconnected agrees admirably with the general asyndetic character of the discourse.

1 See Schürer II. 1, § 23, 11.; II, 2, § 27.

A Codex Alexandrinus.

H Codex Wolfi B.

2 This verb is found only here in the N.T., and elsewhere only in ecclesiastical writings.

209 An unnamed, valuable manuscript.

1 On this form, see Win. 13, 1.

F Codex Borelli.

2 On this redundancy, see Win. 22, 4b.

C Codex Bezae.

3 ἐκολόβωσεν is used in the Greek only of physical mutilation. In the N.T., it is used only here and in the parallel passage in Mt., of cutting short time. A striking instance of the interdependence of the Synoptics.

1 Win. 42, 2 b; Mey. on Matthew 24:22.

2 On this redundancy, and the similar fulness of expression in κτίσεως ἣν ἔκτισεν, creation which he created, v. 19, see Meyer’s Note.

E Codex Basiliensis.

V Codex Mosquensis.

3 Words compounded with ψευδο- are common in later Greek, but not in the classical period. ψευδόμαντις is the Greek word for false prophet.

4 τέρατα occurs only here and in the parallel passage in Mt., in the Synoptics. Its most frequent use is in the Acts.

5 ἀποπλανᾷν occurs elsewhere in the N.T. only in 1 Timothy 6:10.

6 Win. 49 h.

Thay.-Grm. Thayer’s Grimm.

1 ἀγρυπνεῖτε is compounded of α privative and ὕπνος, and means literally be sleepless. This and the parallel passage, Luke 21:36, are the only places where the word occurs in the Gospels, so that this is another instance of the quite certain interdependence of the Synoptical Gospels.

1 This word belongs to later Greek.

2 See Thay.-Grm. Lex. ἀλεκτροφωνία.

3 On this use of the acc. to denote approximately the time of an event, see Win. 36, 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 as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
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.
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.
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.
And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
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.
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 then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
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.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
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.
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:
Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
ICC New Testament commentary on selected books

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