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The Gospel According to Mark: Chapter 13

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1As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ a Gk he and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

9“As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. 10And the good news b Other ancient authorities read he did many things must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 13and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

14“But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 15the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; 16the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 17Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 18Pray that it may not be in winter. 19For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. 20And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. 21And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ a Other ancient authorities read the daughter of Herodias herself or ‘Look! There he is!’—do not believe it. 22False messiahs b Gk his and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23But be alert; I have already told you everything.

24“But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he c The denarius was the usual day's wage for a laborer is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; d Meaning of Gk uncertain for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”


e Gk he

f Other ancient authorities read he did many things

a Other ancient authorities read the daughter of Herodias herself

b Gk his

c The denarius was the usual day's wage for a laborer

a Meaning of Gk uncertain

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

11.1–13.2 : Confronting the rulers and ruling institutions in Jerusalem.

13.1–2 : Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple

(Mt 24.1–3; Lk 21.5–7 ). This section of the Gospel, which began with Jesus' prophetic demonstration against the Temple ( 11.15–17 ), ends with his prophecy of its destruction—also implicating those whose base of power it constituted.

13.3–37 : Exhortation not to be distracted from the movement by distressing events

(Mt 24.3–36; Lk 21.7–36 ). Jesus' second speech uses apocalyptic motifs in order to caution against an apocalyptic interpretation of historical crises of resistance, repression, and reconquest under Roman imperial rule, but to remain disciplined and vigilant in the struggle, despite persecution. The Israelite prophetic and Judean revelatory traditions are framed, balanced, and interpreted by the exhortation in vv. 5–6,9–13, and 28–37 , particularly by the carefully positioned and repeated beware/be alert in vv. 5,9,23,33 . Judging from v. 14 , these paragraphs must be written from a viewpoint outside both Jerusalem and Judea.

3 :

Addressed through Peter and other disciples to the whole movement.

4 :

Despite this apparent link with the destruction of the Temple just prophesied in v. 2 , nothing in the rest of ch 13 implies that the events prophesied have anything to do with Jerusalem.

6 :

I am he, lit. “I am”; see 6.50n.

7–8 :

Stereotypical phrases from Israelite prophetic and Judean revelatory literature. Rumors of wars may refer to the intense resistance to the order of Emperor Gaius Caligula (37–41 CE) to install his bust in the Temple. Famines may refer to the disastrous effects of the severe drought in the late 40s.

9–13 :

Cf. Lk 12.2–12,51–53; Mk 8.34–38 . Far from being distracted by wars and famines, the movement should expect repressions, but not worry, expect to be hated by all, but endure.

14a :

A shift from the past to the present and future, from the readers' standpoint. The desolating sacrilege, cf. Dan 9.27; 11.31; 12.11 . In contrast to Mt 24.15 , nothing in Mark's vague phrase or the literary context points to Jerusalem or the Temple, let alone its destruction.

14b–20 :

Anticipation of events in Judea and Galilee, where political conflict escalated during the 50s and 60s, based on long experience of how the Romans reacted to actual or perceived resistance with severe repressive measures and “scorched earth” reconquest of the people.

21–22 :

Other prophets and messiahs were already familiar features in Judea in particular, and more appeared around the mid first century.

24–25 :

Traditional prophetic portrayal of God's coming in judgment, drawn from Isa 13.10; 34.4; Ezek 32.7–8; Joel 2.10,31; 3.15 .

26–27 :

In contrast to Dan 7.13 , where the “human‐like one” symbolizes the elect generally, the Son of Man here presides over the gathering of the elect (cf. Zech 2.6; Deut 30.4 ).

28–31 :

Reassurance that the resolution of the historical crisis is near, as symbolized by the impending coming of the Son of Man, and that Jesus' words are utterly credible.

28 :

Reverses the image of the fig tree from 11.12–14 , now symbolizing new blessing for the people.

30 :

Cf. 9.1 .

31 :

Cf. Isa 51.6; 40.8 .

32–37 :

Since no one knows precisely when the crisis will be resolved, they must simply maintain discipline and Keep awake!

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