Bible Commentaries
Mark 13

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

Mark 13:1. Out of the temple. The final solemn departure (see Matthew 24:1).

One of his disciples. Mark is most definite here.

What stones and what buildings. Luke (Luke 21:5): ‘How it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts.’ They seemed almost to intercede for the temple He was leaving.

Verses 1-37

THIS discourse is recorded by three Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). All the accounts correspond remarkably; that of Matthew is the fullest. See on Matthew 24:0. Mark introduces a few thoughts not included there. The occasion and circumstances of delivery (Mark 13:1-4) are described most fully by Mark. In Mark 13:5-23 we find a reference to both the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, the judgment upon the Jewish nation being the prominent thought; in Mark 13:24-31 the Lord’s second coming is more prominent, and in Mark 13:32-37 it alone referred to.

Verse 2

Mark 13:2. These great buildings. Our Lord takes up the thought of His disciples, and prophecies the complete destruction of this great edifice.

Verse 3

Mark 13:3. Over against the temple. A graphic stroke, peculiar to Mark. The summit of Olivet is directly opposite the temple, the city lying spread out like a map before one sitting there.

Andrew (the brother of Peter) is added to the more private company on this occasion.

Verse 4

Mark 13:4. When these things are all about to be accomplished. In all three accounts ‘the sign’ is asked for. The full form of the question here given (especially the position of ‘all’) shows mat they classed together the destruction of Jerusalem, the return of our Lord and the end of the world, as one great series of events, about which He had often spoken to them. Hence both are spoken of in the answer, though not joined in time.

Verse 5

Mark 13:5. Began to say. Began His first explanation which probably took a wider range than they had expected.

See. The opening sentence is the same as in Matthew, but Mark repeats this word several times (Mark 13:9; Mark 13:23; Mark 13:33).

Verses 6-8

Mark 13:6-8. See on Matthew 24:5-8; so Luke.

Verse 9

Mark 13:9. In the synagogues. The punctuation is doubtful. The literal meaning is: ‘into synagogues.’ This may be explained ‘ye shall be taken into synagogues and beaten; ‘the synagogue being the place where such punishments were inflicted for greater publicity. Others join this with what precedes; ‘to councils and to synagogues; ye shall be beaten,’ etc. (Comp. Matthew 10:17-18.)

Verse 10

Mark 13:10. Must first be preached unto all the nations. ‘Preached,’ lit. proclaimed, which is the proper conception of preaching. See on Matthew 24:14. Here it comes earlier. But the sense is the same. Their martyrdom would spread the gospel, and this spread should precede the end of the woes, in distinction from the beginning (Mark 13:3). A twofold fulfilment of this verse is most probable.

Verse 11

Mark 13:11. Be not anxious beforehand. Peculiar to Mark, though Luke 21:14-15, resembles it. The same thought occurs in Matthew 10:19-20. The two discourses have other points of resemblance. ‘Neither do ye premeditate,’ is to be omitted.

Verses 12-13

Mark 13:12-13. Comp. Matthew 24:9-10; Matthew 24:13; Matthew 10:21-22.

Endureth. In the confession of Christ (‘for my name’s sake’). Confessor once meant martyr! When Mark wrote, martyrdom was common. Suffering for Christ’s sake has not ceased.

Verses 14-20

Mark 13:14-20. See on Matthew 24:15-22. Here, as there, the prominent reference is to the destruction of Jerusalem, answering the question of the disciples more directly than what precedes. ‘Spoken of by Daniel the prophet,’ is to be omitted; probably inserted from Matthew.

Where it ought not (Mark 13:14) is less definite than ‘in the holy place’ (Matthew). ‘Your flight’ (Mark 13:18) was probably inserted to conform with Matthew.

The like (Mark 13:19). Peculiar to Mark, who gives a peculiarly solemn form of this prediction, in accordance with his style.

Whom he chose (Mark 13:20).

Did he shorten the days. In this vivid way, the choice of believers, and the shortening of the days are spoken of as past, both being parts of God’s purpose, which will be fulfilled.

Verses 21-23

Mark 13:21-23. See on Matthew 24:23-25, also Mark 13:26-28, which have no parallel here. In Mark 13:23 we find again: But take ye heed. ‘Ye’ is emphatic.

All things is peculiar to Mark’s account.

Verse 24

Mark 13:24, ff. From this point, the reference is to the second coming of Christ, the fulfilment of ‘these things all’ (Mark 13:4), in the widest sense. See on Matthew 24:29.

But. Here almost equivalent to ‘nevertheless;’ although I have foretold you all things, yet the subsequent tribulations may still astonish you.

After that tribulation. The length of the interval is not definitely indicated. See on Matthew 24:29, and Luke 21:24.On the rest of the verse and Mark 13:25 see Matthew 24:29-30, where a number of details are added. Comp, also, Luke 21:25-26, where the language is quite different.

And the stars shall be falling. This vivid form is peculiar to Mark.

Verse 26

Mark 13:26. And then. So Luke; Matthew being less definite. All three Evangelists give the thought of this verse with precisely the same details, and yet each varies from the other two in words. A striking proof of independence, Mark alone has: in clouds; Matthew: ‘on the clouds of heaven,’ Luke: ‘in a cloud.’

With great power and glory. See on Matthew 24:30.

Verse 27

Mark 13:27. From the uttermost part of the earth, etc. Probably an allusion to the apparent junction of earth and sky at the visible horizon, but in any case it refers to the whole world. Matthew gives a different form, and inserts ‘with a trumpet of great sound.’

Verses 28-31

Mark 13:28-31. See on Matthew 24:32-35; almost word for word the same. Comp, also, Luke 21:29-33, where the form is different, but the thought precisely identical.

Verse 32

Mark 13:32. Neither the Son. Here distinguished from ‘angels,’ as above them, since there is a climax, ‘angels,’ ‘the Son,’ ‘the Father.’ The verse is to be taken in its plain sense (see on Matthew 24:36) as part of the mystery of Christ’s humiliation, a self-limitation, a self-emptying of the God-man.

Verse 33

Mark 13:33. Watch, or, ‘be awake;’ not the word usually thus translated. The words and pray are omitted by some ancient authorities.

For ye know not when the time is. Because of this uncertainty, be awake. See on Matthew 24:42.

Verses 33-37

Mark 13:33-37. Here the three accounts, though preserving the same general tone, differ in details. Matthew (Matthew 24:37-41) refers to the days of Noah, as illustrating the suddenness of the Lord’s coming, and then records the exhortation to watchfulness in connection with the figure of a thief breaking in, then of a lord who surprises his servants. Luke is almost literal in his account of the warning, while Mark introduces a regular parable, which bears some resemblance to the figure in Matthew’s account, but makes the ‘porter’ the chief person. This accords with the repetition of the phrase, ‘take heed.’ Watchful honesty on the part of a steward is the prominent feature in the figure recorded by Matthew; honest watchfulness on the part of the porter, in the parable recorded by Mark. Possibly Mark 13:34 contains an allusion to the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).

Verse 34

Mark 13:34. It is as when a man. The whole matter of watchfulness is as in the following parable.

Away from his country, sojourning in a foreign land.

Having left his house and given authority (i.e., the delegated power necessary for their duty) to his servants, to each one his work (the authority being joined with duty), commanded also the porter (as it were at the door, just as he went away) to watch. This injunction is the main point of the parable.

Verse 35

Mark 13:35. Watch therefore. ‘Ye’ is to be omitted, since ‘watch’ is the emphatic word.

Whether at even, etc. With that graphic detail which characterizes this Gospel, four watches of the night (closing at 9 , 12 , 3 , and 6 o’clock.) are mentioned. The coming, unexpected and sudden, will be at night.

Verse 36

Mark 13:36. Coming suddenly (as He will come) he find you sleeping (which was a neglect of His express command). The special duty of the Apostles, as representing the ministry, is doubtless referred to.

Verse 37

Mark 13:37. I say unto all, watch. Though the Apostles and the ministry are watchmen and porters, yet all believers are to be incessantly watchful and for the same reasons. The time of our Lord’s coming, whether at our death or in His personal appearing, is uncertain; therefore we should always be ready. Faithfulness to Him bids us not only work but watch. Matthew (chap. 25 ) gives an account of the parables which followed, but the most important part of the discourse is doubtless what is contained in all three narratives, namely, the coming of the Lord and our duty to be watchful.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Mark 13". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.