Mark 13

#Mr 13:1| CXIII. DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM FORETOLD. #Mt 24:1-28 Mr 13:1-23 Lu 21:5-24| And as he went forth out of the temple. Leaving it to return no more. Teacher, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings! The strength and wealth of the temple roused the admiration of the Galileans. The great stones in its fortifications promised safety from its enemies, and the goodly offerings bespoke the zeal of its friends. According to Josephus, some of the stones were nearly seventy feet in length, twelve feet in height, and eighteen feet in breadth. The same historian tells us of the gifts or offerings which adorned it: crowns, shields, goblets, chain of gold present by Agrippa, and a golden vine with its vast clusters which was the gift of Herod. The Temple was built of white limestone, and its beauty and strength made it admired of all nations. It took forty-six years to finish, and ten thousand skilled workmen are said to have been employed in its construction. (TFG 619-620) #Mr 13:2| There shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down. In the very hour when the disciples exulted in the apparent permanency of their glorious temple, Jesus startled them by foretelling its utter destruction, which, within forty years, was fulfilled to the letter. The emperor Vespasian, and his son Titus, after a three years' siege, took Jerusalem and destroyed its temple, A.D. 70. Of the temple proper not a vestige was left standing, but the vast platform upon which it stood, composed partly of natural rock and partly of immense masonry, was for the most part left standing. The destruction of the city and temple, however, was so complete that those who visited it could hardly believe that it had ever been inhabited (Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 7.1). (TFG 620) #Mr 13:3| And as he sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple. He was in the middle portion of the mountain, for that is the part which is opposite the temple. Peter and James and John and Andrew. On this occasion Andrew was in company with the chosen three when they were honored by a special revelation, but is put last as being the least conspicuous of the four. (TFG 620) #Mr 13:4| Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished? See also #Mt 24:3 Lu 21:7|. Dismayed by the brief words which Jesus had spoken as he was leaving the temple, these four disciples asked for fuller details. Their question is fourfold. 1. When shall the temple be destroyed? 2. What shall be the signs which precede its destruction? 3. What shall be the sign of Christ's coming? 4. What shall be the sign of the end of the world? Jesus had said nothing of his coming nor of the end of the world; but to these four disciples the destruction of the temple seemed an event of such magnitude that they could not but associate it with the end of all things. Jesus deals with the first two questions in this section, and with the two remaining questions in Section CXIV. See TFG "#Mr 13:24|". (TFG 620-621) #Mr 13:6| Many shall come in my name. Claiming his name. Saying, I am he. The first sign of approaching destruction would be the appearance of false Christs. These would boldly claim the title, and assert that the time for the setting up of the eternal kingdom had arrived. We have no direct history of the appearance of such persons, the nearest approach to it being the parties mentioned by Josephus (The Antiquities of the Jews, 20.5.1; 8.6.10; The Wars of the Jews, 2.13.4,5). But as these men left no institutions or followers, it is quite natural that they should be overlooked or dropped by historians. Nothing is more natural, however, than that the excitement attendant upon the ministry of Jesus should encourage many to attempt to become such a Christ as the people wanted. The Gospels show so widespread a desire for a political Christ that the law of demand and supply would be sure to make many such. (TFG 621) #Mr 13:7| And when ye hear of wars and rumors of wars, be not troubled: these things must needs come to pass. Wars and rumours of wars would be the second sign, but Christians in Jerusalem could rest there in safety until a more definite token bid them depart. Of course the wars here mentioned were only such as threatened particularly to affect the Jews, for the trouble coming upon the Jews was the subject of discourse. Alford, in commenting on this paragraph, takes the pains to enumerate three threats of war made against the Jews by as many Roman emperors and three uprisings of Gentiles against Jews in which many thousands of the latter perished. But the end is not yet. The destruction of the temple. (TFG 621-622) #Mr 13:8| There shall be earthquakes in divers places; there shall be famines. Great natural disturbances would constitute the third sign. That these preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, there is abundant historic evidence. Alford enumerates the earthquakes as follows: 1. A great earthquake in Crete, A.D. 46 or 47. 2. One at Rome when Nero assumed the manly toga, A.D. 51. 3. One at Apamaea in Phrygia, mentioned by Tacitus, A.D. 53. 4. One at Laodicea in Phrygia, A.D. 60. 5. One in Campania, A.D. 62 or 63. There were an indefinite number of famines referred to by Roman writers, and at least one pestilence during which thirty thousand perished in Rome alone. All these signs are mentioned by unbelieving writers such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Philostratus, and Seneca, who speak of them because of their importance and not with any reference to the prophecy of Christ. (TFG 622) #Mr 13:9| For they shall deliver you up to councils, etc. A fourth sign which they needed to heed particularly would be an outbreak of persecution. The Book of Acts furnishes an abundant evidence of the fulfillment of these details. The civil and ecclesiastical authorities (synagogues and kings) united to oppress the church. See #Ac 4:3 5:18,40 7:59 8:3 12:1,2 14:19 16:19-24 22:30 24:1 25:2,3|. Peter, James the elder and James the younger, and Paul, and doubtless many more of the apostles suffered martyrdom before the destruction of the temple. Tacitus bears testimony to the hatred and blind bigotry of the age when he speaks of Christians as "a class of men hated on account of their crimes" (Annals, 15.44). See also Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, "Nero," 16), and Pliny (Epistles, 10.97). For comments on a similar passage, see TFG "Mt 10:17" and see TFG "Mt 10:18". And in synagogues. See TFG "#Mr 1:39|". (TFG 622-623) #Mr 13:10| And the gospel must first be preached unto all the nations. Paul says that this was done (#Col 1:23|). Of course the language of both Jesus and Paul must be understood with reference to the geography of the earth as then known. Paul's declaration was written about the year A.D. 63, or seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem. His meaning is not that every creature had actually heard the gospel, but that each had been given an opportunity to hear because the gospel had been so universally preached. (TFG 623) #Mr 13:11| For it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit. See #Mt 10:19 Lu 12:11|. This is the third time Jesus has given this promise. (TFG 623) #Mr 13:12| And brother shall deliver up brother to death, etc. Hatred against Christianity would prove stronger than all family ties. See TFG "#Mt 10:21|". (TFG 624) #Mr 13:13| And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. See TFG "#Mt 10:22|". But he that endureth to the end. That is, to his death. See TFG "#Mt 10:22|". (TFG 624) #Mr 13:14| The abomination of desolation. See #Da 11:31|. See TFG "#Mr 13:19|". (Let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains. Matthew also gives a similar parenthesis (#Mt 24:15|). If the words in parentheses were spoken by our Lord, they would constitute an exhortation to understand the prophecy of Daniel, and would be unnecessary, since our Lord's application of the prophecy explains it. The words are, therefore, exhortations by the Evangelists Matthew and Mark, bidding their readers take heed to this part of the prophecy (which constituted the last sign, and, therefore, the final warning). That they might not share in the bitter fate impending over Jerusalem and Judaea if they chanced to be in either in the hour of judgment. (TFG 624-625) #Mr 13:15| Let him that is on the housetop not go down, etc. See TFG "#Lu 17:31|". #Mr 13:17| But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! Because their condition would impede their flight. (TFG 625) #Mr 13:18| And pray ye that it be not in the winter. Because the flight will be so precipitate that it would necessitate much exposure to the weather, sleeping under the open heaven, etc. (TFG 626) #Mr 13:19| For those days shall be tribulation, such as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never shall be. These words spoken before the event are strikingly verified by the statements of Josephus written after it: "No other city ever suffered miseries, nor did any age, from the beginning of the world, ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness that this was." And again: "If the miseries of all mankind from the creation were compared with those which the Jews then suffered, they would appear inferior." The promise that there shall be no days like it of course excludes the terrors and miseries of the judgment day, since it belongs to celestial rather than terrestrial history. Having now the whole paragraph before us, we are ready to discuss the phrase "abomination of desolation" mentioned in #Mr 13:14 Mt 24:15|. Taking it in connection with the entire paragraph, we can readily see, 1. That it was a sign practically simultaneous with the compassing of Jerusalem by the Roman army. 2. That it was a clearly marked sign which was to be followed by immediate flight, even if the day of its appearing should chance to be the Sabbath--a flight so sudden that a man must not stop to enter his house or get his coat. Now, some translate the phrase "abomination of desolation" (or "abomination that causeth desolation," for it may be so translated) as referring to the crimes of the zealots, a faction in Jerusalem, who took possession of the temple and profaned its sanctuary by using it as a fort, thus making themselves an abomination in the eyes of the Jews by polluting God's house and entering where they had no right to enter. But a long interval intervened between this evil deed of theirs and the coming of the Romans, during any day of which a Christian might have taken his departure after the most leisurely manner. Others take the phrase as referring to the entrance of the triumphant Roman army upon the temple courts; but as this was one of the last scenes of the prolonged siege, it could not properly be coupled with the encompassing Roman army. Meyer, aware of this difficulty, takes the position that there were two flights prescribed by Jesus, one from Jerusalem at the time when the Romans appeared, and the other from Judaea at the time when the temple fell. But the language used by Luke (#Lu 21:20,21|) forbids us to make the flight from Judaea subsequent to the flight from Jerusalem, for both flights were to begin when the Romans appeared. Again it should be noted that the phrase "the holy place" is apt to mislead, especially when coupled with Mark's "where it ought not." The words when seen in English cause us to think of some person or thing polluting the sanctuary of the temple by standing in its holy place. But it is evident that the words do not refer to the temple at all. When the New Testament speaks of the holy place in the temple it styles it en too hagioo ("in the holy"), while the words here are en topoo hagioo ("in a place holy"). Moreover, after a careful perusal of the Septuagint, we are persuaded that they used the two terms to distinguish between the holy place in the sanctuary and other holy places, a distinction which the Revised Version recognizes (#Le 6:16,26,27|, etc.). As none but priests could enter the holy place, it is evident that another is meant at #Ps 24:3|; but in this place the Septuagint gives us en topoo hagioo. We, therefore, conclude that in this place Matthew uses the term "holy place" to designate the holy territory round about the Holy City, and that the combined expression of Matthew and Mark signifies the investiture of the city by the Roman armies and is equivalent to the plainer statement made by Luke. The Roman armies were fittingly called the abomination of desolation, because, being heathen armies, they were an abomination to the Jews, and because they brought desolation upon the country. The sight of them, therefore, became the appointed sign for Christians to quit the city. (TFG 627-628) #Mr 13:20| And except the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved. Since the Lord is speaking to the Jews, this means that if God had not shortened the siege and restrained the Romans, they would have exterminated the Jewish race. But for the elect's sake, whom he chose, he shortened the days. Since the term "elect" in #Mt 24:24,31| evidently means Christians, it doubtless means that here, though it may mean that God spared a remnant of the Jewish people because he had covenanted with the patriarchs that they should be his chosen people, for the Jews are also God's elect (#Ro 11:28,29|). Moreover, it should be noted that there were few, if any, Christians remaining in the city, and that those who were spared were spared as Jews without discrimination. (TFG 628) #Mr 13:21| And then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ; or, Lo, there; believe it not. Christ warns his followers: 1. Not to be deceived by spurious Christs. 2. Not to believe that he himself has again appeared. This latter warning is further enforced by what follows (#Mt 24:26-28|). (TFG 628) #Mr 13:22| For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, etc. For accounts of these lying prophets who appeared before and during the siege, see Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 4; 5; 6. See TFG "#Mt 24:11|". #Mr 13:24,25| CXIV. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST. #Mt 24:29-51 Mr 13:24-37 Lu 21:25-37| The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. The language is that of the ancient prophets. See #Am 8:9 Joe 2:30,31| #Eze 32:7,8|. Compare also #Re 6:12-14|. Some regard the language as metaphorical, indicating the eclipse of nations and the downfall of rulers, but there are many similar passages of Scripture which constrain us to regard the language here as literal rather than figurative. See #2Pe 3:10 Heb 1:12 Re 20:11|. (TFG 630) #Mr 13:25| And the stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken See TFG "#Mt 24:30|". #Mr 13:27| And then shall he send forth the angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. We are not told why angels are used on this occasion, but they appear to be employed in all the great operations of Providence (#Mt 13:41|). The phrases "four winds," etc., indicate that the angelic search shall extend over the entire globe. The language is that which was then used when one desired to indicate the whole earth. It is based upon the idea which then prevailed that the earth is flat, and that it extends outward in one vast plain until it meets and is circumscribed by the overarching heavens. (TFG 631) #Mr 13:28| Ye know that the summer is nigh. As the change of the season in the natural world has its preliminary signs, so the change of conditions in the spiritual realm has its premonitory symptoms. When men see the symptoms which Jesus has described, they will recognize that changes are coming as to the nature of which they can only guess. (TFG 631) #Mr 13:29| Even so ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors. But the Christian is informed that these changes indicate the coming of the Son of God--a change from a worse to a better season. (TFG 631) #Mr 13:30| This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished. Commentators differ widely as to the import of these words. Godet is so perplexed by them that he thinks they refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, and have been misplaced by the Evangelist. Cook straddles the difficulty by giving a dual significance to all that our Lord has said concerning his coming, so that our Lord in one narrative speaks figuratively of a coming in the power of his kingdom before, during, and right after the destruction of Jerusalem, and literally of his final coming at the end of the world. But this perplexing expression under this theory refers exclusively to the figurative and not to the literal sense of the passage. The simplest solution of the matter is to take the word "generation" to mean the Jewish family or race--and the word does mean race or family (#Lu 16:8|). Thus interpreted, the passage becomes a prophecy that the Jewish people shall be preserved as such until the coming of Christ. The marvelous and almost miraculous preservation of the racial individuality of the Jews, though dispersed among all nations, might well become the subject of prophecy, especially when Jesus had just spoken of an event which threatened their very extermination. (TFG 631-632) #Mr 13:31| Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. The disciples had regarded the temple as so permanent that they found it hard to conceive that Christ's words could be fulfilled with regard to it; but he assures them that his predictions and prophecies are the stable and imperishable things. That even the more permanent structure of the heavens is not so abiding as his utterances. (TFG 632) #Mr 13:32| But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. These words indicate the profound secrecy in which God has concealed the hour of judgment. It is concealed from all people, that each generation may live in expectation of its fulfillment, and we are to watch for the signs, though we may not fully know the times. They also indicate that either by reason of his assumption of our human nature, or by a voluntary act on his part, the knowledge of Jesus became in some respects circumscribed. They also suggest that it is not only idle, but also presumptuous, for men to strive to find out by mathematical calculation and expositions of prophecy that which the Son of God did not know. (TFG 632-633) #Mr 13:34| It is as when a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch. Under the figure of the householder and the thief, Jesus appealed to the sense of danger, and under the figure of the servant he appealed to the sense of duty. Under this figure of the porter he appealed to the sense of loyalty. The porter's desire to honor his lord was to make him so vigilant that he would open the door at once upon his lord's appearing. (TFG 634) #Mr 13:35| Whether at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning. The night was then divided into four watches. See TFG "#Lu 12:38|". Jesus may here refer either to the duration of the world or to the life of the individual. He divides either period into four sections, in accordance with the night watches which were so fully associated with watchfulness. (TFG 634) #Mr 13:37| And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. This warning message was not for the apostles alone, but for all disciples. (TFG 634)
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