Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

Mark 13

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Verse 1

Master, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings (διδασκαλε, ιδε ποταπο λιθο κα ποταπα οικοδομα). Matthew 24:1 and Luke 21:5 tell of the fact of the comment, but Mark alone gives the precise words. Perhaps Peter himself (Swete) was the one who sought thus by a pleasant platitude to divert the Teacher's attention from the serious topics of recent hours in the temple. It was not a new observation, but the merest commonplace might serve at this crisis. Josephus (Ant. xv. II, 3) speaks of the great size of these stones and the beauty of the buildings. Some of these stones at the southeastern and southwestern angles survive today and measure from twenty to forty feet long and weigh a hundred tons. Jesus had, of course, often observed them.

Verse 2

These great buildings (ταυτας τας οικοδομας). Jesus fully recognizes their greatness and beauty. The more remarkable will be their complete demolition (καταλυθη),

loosened down . Only the foundation stones remain.

Verse 3

Over against the temple (κατεναντ του ιερου). In full view of the temple about which they had been speaking.

Privately (κατ' ιδιαν). Peter and James and John and Andrew (named only in Mark) had evidently been discussing the strange comment of Jesus as they were coming out of the temple. In their bewilderment they ask Jesus a bit to one side, though probably all the rest drew up as Jesus began to speak this great eschatological discourse.

Verse 4

Tell us, when shall these things be? (Ειπον ημιν ποτε ταυτα εσται;). The Revised Version punctuates it as a direct question, but Westcott and Hort as an indirect inquiry. They asked about the

when (ποτε) and the

what sign (τ σημειον). Matthew 24:3 includes "the sign of thy coming and the end of the world," showing that these tragic events are brought before Jesus by the disciples. See discussion of the interpretation of this discourse on Matthew 24:3. This chapter in Mark is often called "The Little Apocalypse" with the notion that a Jewish apocalypse has been here adapted by Mark and attributed to Jesus. Many of the theories attribute grave error to Jesus or to the Gospels on this subject. The view adopted in the discussion in Matthew is the one suggested here, that Jesus blended in one picture his death, the destruction of Jerusalem within that generation, the second coming and end of the world typified by the destruction of the city. The lines between these topics are not sharply drawn in the report and it is not possible for us to separate the topics clearly. This great discourse is the longest preserved in Mark and may be due to Peter. Mark may have given it in order "to forewarn and forearm" (Bruce) the readers against the coming catastrophe of the destruction of Jerusalem. Both Matthew (Mark 13:24) and Luke (Luke 21:5-36) follow the general line of Mark 13 though Matthew 24:43-25 presents new material (parables).

Verse 5

Take need that no man lead you astray (Βλεπετε μη τις υμας πλανηση). Same words in Matthew 24:4. Luke 21:8 has it "that ye be not led astray" (μη πλανηθητε). This word πλαναω (our planet) is a bold one. This warning runs through the whole discussion. It is pertinent today after so many centuries. About the false Christs then and now see on Matthew 24:5. It is amazing the success that these charlatans have through the ages in winning the empty-pated to their hare-brained views. Only this morning as I am writing a prominent English psychologist has challenged the world to a radio communication with Mars asserting that he has made frequent trips to Mars and communicated with its alleged inhabitants. And the daily papers put his ebullitions on the front page. For discussion of the details in verses Mark 13:6-8 see on Matthew 24:5-8. All through the ages in spite of the words of Jesus men have sought to apply the picture here drawn to the particular calamity in their time.

Verse 7

Must needs come to pass (δε γενεσθα). Already there were outbreaks against the Jews in Alexandria, at Seleucia with the slaughter of more than fifty thousand, at Jamnia, and elsewhere. Caligula, Claudius, Nero will threaten war before it finally comes with the destruction of the city and temple by Titus in A.D. 70. Vincent notes that between this prophecy by Jesus in A.D. 30 (or 29) and the destruction of Jerusalem there was an earthquake in Crete (A.D. 46 or 47), at Rome (A.D. 51), at Apamaia in Phrygia (A.D. 60), at Campania (A.D. 63). He notes also four famines during the reign of Claudius A.D. 41-54. One of them was in Judea in A.D. 44 and is alluded to in Acts 11:28. Tacitus (Annals xvi. 10-13) describes the hurricanes and storms in Campania in A.D. 65.

Verse 9

But take heed to yourselves (Βλεπετε δε υμεις εαυτους). Only in Mark, but dominant note of warning all through the discourse. Note υμεις here, very emphatic.

Councils (συνεδρια). Same word as the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. These local councils (συν, εδρα, sitting together) were modelled after that in Jerusalem.

Shall ye be beaten (δαρησεσθε). Second future passive indicative second person plural. The word δερω means to flay or skin and here has been softened into

beat like our tan or skin in the vernacular. Aristophanes has it in this colloquial sense as have the papyri in the Koine. Before governors and kings (επ ηγεμονων κα βασιλεων). Gentile rulers as well as before Jewish councils.

Shall stand (σταθησεσθε). First aorist passive indicative second person plural of ιστημ.

Verse 10

Must first be preached (πρωτον δε κηρυχθηνα). This only in Mark. It is interesting to note that Paul in Colossians 1:6; Colossians 1:23 claims that the gospel has spread all over the world. All this was before the destruction of Jerusalem.

Verse 11

Be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak (μη προμεριμνατε τ λαλησητε). Negative with present imperative to make a general prohibition or habit. Jesus is not here referring to preaching, but to defences made before these councils and governors. A typical example is seen in the courage and skill of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin in Acts. The verb μεριμναω is from μεριζω (μερις), to be drawn in opposite directions, to be distracted. See on Matthew 6:25. They are not to be stricken with fright beforehand, but to face fearlessly those in high places who are seeking to overthrow the preaching of the gospel. There is no excuse here for the lazy preacher who fails to prepare his sermon out of the mistaken reliance upon the Holy Spirit. They will need and will receive the special help of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mark 13:14-16).

Verse 13

But he that endureth to the end (ο δε υπομεινας εις τελος). Note this aorist participle with the future verb. The idea here is true to the etymology of the word, remaining under (υπομενω) until the end. The divisions in families Jesus had predicted before (Luke 12:52; Luke 14:25).

Be saved (σωθησετα). Here Jesus means final salvation (effective aorist future passive), not initial salvation.

Verse 14

Standing where he ought not (εστηκοτα οπου ου δε). Matthew 24:15 has "standing in the holy place" (εστος εν τοπο αγιω), neuter and agreeing with βδελυγμα (abomination), the very phrase applied in 1Macc. 1:54 to the altar to Zeus erected by Antiochus Epiphanes where the altar to Jehovah was. Mark personifies the abomination as personal (masculine), while Luke 21:20 defines it by reference to the armies (of Rome, as it turned out). So the words of Daniel find a second fulfilment, Rome taking the place of Syria (Swete). See on Matthew 24:15 for this phrase and the parenthesis inserted in the words of Jesus ("Let him that readeth understand"). See also on Matthew 24:16-25 for discussion of details in Mark 13:14-22.

Verse 16

In the field (εις τον αγρον). Here Matthew 24:18 has εν τω αγρω, showing identical use of εις with accusative and εν with the locative.

Verse 19

Which God created (ην εκτισεν ο θεος). Note this amplification to the quotation from Daniel 12:1.

Verse 20

Whom he chose (ους εξελεξατο). Indirect aorist middle indicative. In Mark alone. Explains the sovereign choice of God in the end by and for himself.

Verse 22

That they may lead astray (προς το αποπλαναιν). With a view to leading off (προς and the infinitive). Matthew 24:24 has ωστε αποπλασθα, so as to lead off.

Verse 23

But take ye heed (Hυμεις δε βλεπετε). Gullibility is no mark of a saint or of piety. Note emphatic position of you (υμεις). Credulity ranks no higher than scepticism. God gave us our wits for self-protection. Christ has warned us beforehand.

Verse 24

The sun shall be darkened (ο ελιος σκοτισθησετα). Future passive indicative. These figures come from the prophets (Isaiah 13:9; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:1; Joel 2:10; Amos 8:9; Zephaniah 1:14-16; Zechariah 12:12). One should not forget that prophetic imagery was not always meant to be taken literally, especially apocalyptic symbols. Peter in Acts 2:15-21 applies the prophecy of Joel about the sun and moon to the events on the day of Pentecost. See on Matthew 24:29-31 for details of verses Mark 13:24-27.

Verse 25

The stars shall be falling (ο αστερες εσοντα πιπτοντες). Periphrastic future indicative, εσοντα, future middle indicative and πιπτοντες, present active participle.

Verse 27

Shall gather together his elect (επισυναξε τους εκλεκτους αυτου). This is the purpose of God through the ages.

From the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven (απ' ακρου γης εως ακρου ουρανου). The Greek is very brief, "from the tip of earth to the tip of heaven." This precise phrase occurs nowhere else.

Verse 28

Coming to pass (γινομενα). Present middle participle, linear action. See on Matthew 24:32-36 for details of verses Mark 13:28-32 (the Parable of the Fig Tree).

Verse 32

Not even the Son (ουδε ο υιος). There is no doubt as to the genuineness of these words here such as exists in Matthew 24:36. This disclaimer of knowledge naturally interpreted applies to the second coming, not to the destruction of Jerusalem which had been definitely limited to that generation as it happened in A.D. 70.

Verse 34

Commanded also the porter to watch (κα τω θυρωρω ενετειλατο ινα γρηγορη) . The porter or door-keeper (θυρωρος), as well as all the rest, to keep a watch (present subjunctive, γρηγορη). This Parable of the Porter is only in Mark. Our ignorance of the time of the Master's return is an argument not for indifference nor for fanaticism, but for alertness and eager readiness for his coming.

Verse 35

The four watches of the night are named here: evening (οψε), midnight (μεσονυκτιον), cock-crowing (αλεκτοροφωνιας), morning (πρω).

Verse 37

Watch (γρηγορειτε). Be on the watch. Present imperative of a verb made on the second perfect, εγρηγορα, to be awake. Stay awake till the Lord comes.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Mark 13". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.