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Chapter 13

13:1 Master, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings [didaskale, ide potapoi lithoi kai potapai oikodomai]. Mt 24:1 and Lu 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.

13:2 These great buildings [tautas tas oikodomas]. Jesus fully recognizes their greatness and beauty. The more remarkable will be their complete demolition [kataluthēi], loosened down. Only the foundation stones remain.

13:3 Over against the temple [katenanti tou hierou]. In full view of the temple about which they had been speaking. Privately [kat’ idian]. 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.

13:4 Tell us, when shall these things be? [Eipon hēmin pote tauta estai;]. The Revised Version punctuates it as a direct question, but Westcott and Hort as an indirect inquiry. They asked about the when [pote] and the what sign [ti sēmeion]. Mt 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 Mt 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 (Mt 24) and Luke (Lu 21:5-36) follow the general line of Mark 13 though Mt 24:43-25:46 presents new material (parables).

13:5 Take need that no man lead you astray [Blepete mē tis h–mās planēsēi]. Same words in Mt 24:4. Lu 21:7 has it “that ye be not led astray” [mē planēthēte]. This word [planaō] (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 Mt 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 6-7 see on Mt 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.

13:7 Must needs come to pass [dei genesthai]. 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 Ac 11:28. Tacitus (Annals xvi. 10–13) describes the hurricanes and storms in Campania in A.D. 65.

13:9 But take heed to yourselves [Blepete de humeis heautous]. Only in Mark, but dominant note of warning all through the discourse. Note [humeis] here, very emphatic. Councils [sunedria]. Same word as the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. These local councils [sun, hedra], sitting together) were modelled after that in Jerusalem. Shall ye be beaten [darēsesthe]. Second future passive indicative second person plural. The word [derō] 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 Koinē. Before governors and kings [epi hēgemonōn kai basileōn]. Gentile rulers as well as before Jewish councils. Shall stand [stathēsesthe]. First aorist passive indicative second person plural of [histēmi].

13:10 Must first be preached [prōton dei kēruchthēnai]. This only in Mark. It is interesting to note that Paul in Col 1:6,23 claims that the gospel has spread all over the world. All this was before the destruction of Jerusalem.

13:11 Be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak [mē promerimnāte ti lalēsēte]. 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 [merimnaō] is from [merizō] [meris], to be drawn in opposite directions, to be distracted. See on Mt 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. Joh 14-16).

13:13 But he that endureth to the end [ho de hupomeinas eis telos]. Note this aorist participle with the future verb. The idea here is true to the etymology of the word, remaining under [hupomenō] until the end. The divisions in families Jesus had predicted before (Lu 12:52f.; 14:25f.). Be saved [sōthēsetai]. Here Jesus means final salvation (effective aorist future passive), not initial salvation.

13:14 Standing where he ought not [hestēkota hopou ou dei]. Mt 24:15 has “standing in the holy place” [hestos en topoi hagiōi], neuter and agreeing with [bdelugma] (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 Lu 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 Mt 24:15 for this phrase and the parenthesis inserted in the words of Jesus (“Let him that readeth understand”). See also on Mt 24:16-25 for discussion of details in Mr 13:14-22.

13:16 In the field [eis ton agron]. Here Mt 24:17 has [en tōi agrōi], showing identical use of [eis] with accusative and [en] with the locative.

13:19 Which God created [hēn ektisen ho theos]. Note this amplification to the quotation from Da 12:1.

13:20 Whom he chose [hous exelexato]. Indirect aorist middle indicative. In Mark alone. Explains the sovereign choice of God in the end by and for himself.

13:22 That they may lead astray [pros to apoplanāin]. With a view to leading off [pros] and the infinitive). Mt 24:24 has [hōste apoplāsthai], so as to lead off.

13:23 But take ye heed [Humeis de blepete]. Gullibility is no mark of a saint or of piety. Note emphatic position of you [humeis]. Credulity ranks no higher than scepticism. God gave us our wits for self-protection. Christ has warned us beforehand.

13:24 The sun shall be darkened [ho helios skotisthēsetai]. Future passive indicative. These figures come from the prophets (Isa 13:9f.; Eze 32:7f.; Joe 2:1f., 10f.; Am 8:9; Zep 1:14-16; Zec 12:12). One should not forget that prophetic imagery was not always meant to be taken literally, especially apocalyptic symbols. Peter in Ac 2:15-21 applies the prophecy of Joel about the sun and moon to the events on the day of Pentecost. See on Mt 24:29-31 for details of verses 24-27.

13:25 The stars shall be falling [hoi asteres esontai piptontes]. Periphrastic future indicative, [esontai], future middle indicative and [piptontes], present active participle.

13:27 Shall gather together his elect [episunaxei tous eklektous autou]. This is the purpose of God through the ages. From the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven [ap’ akrou gēs heōs akrou ouranou]. The Greek is very brief, “from the tip of earth to the tip of heaven.” This precise phrase occurs nowhere else.

13:27 Coming to pass [ginomena]. Present middle participle, linear action. See on Mt 24:32-36 for details of verses 28-32 (the Parable of the Fig Tree).

13:32 Not even the Son [oude ho huios]. There is no doubt as to the genuineness of these words here such as exists in Mt 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.

13:34 Commanded also the porter to watch [kai tōi thurōrōi eneteilato hina grēgorēi] . The porter or door-keeper [thurōros], as well as all the rest, to keep a watch (present subjunctive, [grēgorēi]. 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.

13:35 The four watches of the night are named here: evening [opse], midnight [mesonuktion], cock-crowing [alektorophōnias], morning [prōi].

13:37 Watch [grēgoreite]. Be on the watch. Present imperative of a verb made on the second perfect, [egrēgora], to be awake. Stay awake till the Lord comes.

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