Gospel of Mark: Chapter 13

Gospel of Commentary:

Commentary on Chapter 13

  • v. 1 – The Temple was an awe inspiring building in it’s day and would still be one today. One of the stones in the wall is estimated to weigh 600 tons!
    • The walls were white stone, and there was gold decorating the walls and covering the roof. It shone brilliantly on top of the Temple Mount when approached from a distance.
  • v. 2 – This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD when the Roman Emperor Titus besieged and conquered Jerusalem and then destroyed the Temple.
  • vv. 3-23 – Peter, James, John, and Andrew[1] ask Jesus how they will know when the temple is about to be destroyed.
    • Jesus indicates:
    • vv. 5-6 – False Messiahs will come.[2] This did occur in the years leading up to the destruction of the Temple with several revolts against the Romans inspired by self-proclaimed Messiahs.
    • vv. 7-8 – There would be an increase in the amount of news circulating about wars.
    • v. 8 – There will be natural phenomena such as earthquakes and famines.
    • vv. 9-11 – The Christians would be harshly persecuted – by the religious and political leadership.[3]
    • v. 10 – The Gospel would be proclaimed to all nations.[4]
    • vv. 12-13 – Families would be divided and betray one another.[5]
    • v. 14 – The Abomination of Desolation will appear in a place it should not be.
      • The Abomination of Desolation was prophesied hundreds of years earlier by Daniel (Dan. 9:27; 11:31) and many believe this prophecy was fulfilled during the reign of the Greek Antiochus Epiphanes IV when Antiochus had an object placed on the altar and worshiped.[6]
      • It seems this (Abomination) was another instance in which the abomination would be present. There are numerous options prior to the destruction of Jerusalem which have been suggested as potential fulfillments of Jesus’ prophecy:
        • Roman Emperor Caligula attempted in AD 39-40 to install a statue of himself in the Temple.[7]
        • Pontius Pilate (AD 26-36) ordering his troops to march into Judea bearing their standards.[8]
        • The Zealots (radically nationalist Jews who used violence to accomplish their means) in AD 69-70 acted in ways out of keeping with the Jewish laws regarding the Temple, defiling it.[9]
        • Roman Emperor Titus’ soldiers setting up their standards in the Temple and worshiping them.[10]
        • The destruction of the Temple in AD 70.
        • A yet future abomination to occur under the anti-christ.[11]
    • It seems this entire set of verses is probably describing the taking of Jerusalem in AD 70 by Emperor Titus and the destruction of the Temple at his command.
  • vv. 24-27 – Some suggests these cosmic signs are metaphorical descriptions of the fall of Jerusalem.[12] Others, however, believe that these verses refer to the future coming of Christ.
    • The early Christians had an expectation of Christ’s return at any moment and it seems they were confused by His delay. Thus it is very possible that while these prophecies are placed one following the other, that there is a significant amount of time separating them, and these latter verses do refer to a still-coming return of Jesus.
  • v. 26 – See Daniel 7:13.
  • v. 27 – This verse would call to mind Zechariah 2:6; Deuteronomy 30:4; Psalm 107:2-3; Isaiah 11:11-16; 127:12-13; Jeremiah 31:10 and so on.
  • v. 30 – This verse makes it difficult to interpret the coming of the Son of Man as still future – since it was to occur before that generation had died. The destruction of the Temple certainly did occur, but what about Christ’s return? Some have suggested that “generation” may mean “people” as in the Jewish people.
  • v. 32 – Jesus in becoming man retained His full divinity but voluntarily set aside some of its privileges.

Author: David Mackey

Version: 0.5 5/21/13


[1] Whereas usually we see Peter, James, and John as Jesus’ inner circle, here Andrew is present also.

[2] These false messiahs would not be claiming to Jesus personally, but the Messiah as prophesied. See for example Acts 5:36.

[3] See 2 Cor. 11:24-25; Acts 23:24; 24:10-27; 25:1-26:32.

[4] It seems that in some sense this prophecy was fulfilled by the time of Paul, see Col. 1:23.

[5] This was very common in the early church, Jews who became Christians were considered dead by their Jewish family.

[6] See 1 Maccabees 1:54, 59.

[7] Josephus, Antiquities, 12.8.2-3.

[8] Josephus, Wars, 2.9.2-3.

[9] Josephus, Wars, 4.3.4-8.

[10] Josephus, Wars, 6.6.1.

[11] For these notes I am unusually indebted to the NLTSB. The NLTSB commentators believe the Zealot’s defilement of the Temple the most likely explanation.

[12] See Isaiah 11:1-9; 13:9-11; 34:4; Joel 2:10; Jeremiah 4:23-28; Ezekiel 32:1-16.