Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/The Gospel of Mark/Chapter 13

Mark 13:1-37 (New International Version)
Mark 13

Signs of the End of the Age

1As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"

2"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down."

3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4"Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"

5Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9"You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14"When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation'standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. 20If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24"But in those days, following that distress,

'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

26"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

32"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' "

Story preceding the chapter


In the story that comes just before this, Jesus was just showing the significance of having nothing but being very rich. He pointed out a poor widow who gave all she had, which was very little. There is an obvious contrast between what he pointed out and what his disciple points out in this chapter. His disciple points out the beauty and size of the worldly temple stones. This is something that people have put money in just to make big it and showy.(Buttrick,853-854)



Signs of the End of the Age Vs. 1-31

When questioned by His followers, Jesus shared his response to what was needed to know concerning the end times. The first concern is to be aware of those who come in Jesus’ name trying to make others believe them.

The next area of concern deals with wars. We are not to be alarmed. Jesus warns us that there will be wars and talk of wars, but this does not mean this is the end times. Wars and other tragedies will happen, but these will just be the beginning of our sufferings.

Jesus continues on and gives us a hint of how bad these end times will be. When it happens we should not turn back for anything, not even for a coat. This time will be very hard on everyone, and especially on pregnant women or women with infants.

When we begin to witness these events we will know that the end is near. There will be many false prophets, but we are warned not to believe them. We are to look to Jesus Christ and put our faith and trust in him.

The Day and Hour Unknown Vs. 32-37

None of us know when the end times will happen. Not even the angels or Jesus; only God knows. Because of this, we need to be prepared for anything to happen and be ready at any time. We are told to keep watch as if watching for the owner of a house to return, we cannot, and will not ever know until it happens. For this reason we should start fully living for God now and not put it off any longer. There is no time to waste.

Historical Background


This chapter has a lot of Jewish ideas in it. This is why this is very hard for most people to understand. The history and basis of it is very different than the way that most readers would be able to understand. This chapter deals a lot with ideas and predictions of the end of the times, an apocalypse. Apocalypse means unveiling. Jews believed that God would come back to free them, and before this time there would be very hard and testing times. When the return of the Lord is spoken of, it was known that the times before this would be hard. There would be a lot of judgment and persecution. (Barclay, 303-305)

The temple in that time, as described in the passage, really is a significant building. The traveler’s at that time said it was worth the trip to see it. It would have been considered a world wonder. (Buttrick, 855)

The Christians then would have been very aware when councils and synagogues were mentioned. These would bring back memories of the persecution of Saul and Tarsus. This would paint a more vivid picture of what would be to come when, in verse 9, they are told they would be taken to them. (Cole, 200)

Study of Parallel Passages





1. What is the significance of the term “birth pains”?

2. Why are so many examples listed for the end times and what to look for?

3. What is the significance of the italicized words?

4. What is the significance of the term “Son of Man”?

5. If the terms “synagogue” and “council” are so significant to the Jews, why are they not used in Matthew, and only one used in Luke?

6. Jesus warns several times to look out, but is there a significance in the different words used?

Outline of passages


I. Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple

A. The disciples point out the stones on the temple(vs. 1)
B. Jesus tells them they will all be destroyed(vs.2)
C. The disciples ask when they will happen(vs.4)

II. Jesus warns of what is to come

A. He warns them of what to watch out for
i. People that come claiming they are Him(vs.5-6)
B. There will be wars(vs.7)
i. Nations will fight against each other(vs.8)
C. There will be many natural disasters
i. Famines(vs.8)
ii. Earthquakes(vs.8)

III. Jesus warns that we must stay alert and on guard

A. Many more events will take place
i. Flogging in the synagogue(vs.9)
ii. Persecution on account of His name(vs.9)
iii. The gospel must be preached to all nations(vs.10)
1. The Holy Spirit will be with us at this time(vs. 11)
B. Families will go against each other(vs.12)
C. Everyone will hate us because of Him(vs.13)
i. If you stand firm you will be saved(vs.13)
D. Abomination of desolation
i. Flee to the mountains(vs.14)
ii. Do not turn back for anything(vss.15-16)
iii. It will be hard
1. Pregnant and nursing mothers(vs.17)
2. Pray it does not take place in winter(vs.18)
E. False prophets will come(vss.21-22)
i. Be on guard! (vs.23)
F. The Son of Man will come(vss.26-27)
G. The lesson from the fig tree

IV. The day and the hour unknown

A. No one knows when it will come
B. The story of the man who leaves
i. His servants need to be ready for his return
C. We need to be ready!



Mark 13

Signs of the End of the Age

1 When Jesus left the temple one of his disciples pointed out the large stones and the big buildings.

2 Jesus said, “Look at these buildings, all these will be destroyed.”

3Peter, James, John, and Andrew came up to Jesus while he was on the Mount of Olives and asked, 4 “When will these things happen, and how will we know?”

5Jesus answered, “Make sure no one tricks you.” 6A lot of people will say they are me and many people ill believe them. 7When people start talking about wars do not be scared. These events will happen, but that does not mean it is the end. 8Nations and kingdoms will fight each other. There will also be many natural disasters. This is just the beginning.

9”Stay alert. You will be handed over to officials and beaten. Because of me you will have to testify in front of them. 10The gospel must first be preached throughout the world. 11Do not worry what to say when you are arrested and taken to trial. The Holy Spirit will speak through you.

12Families will turn against each other. 13Everyone will hate you because of me, but if you stay strong through it all you will be saved.

14When you see the wicked destroying the earth, those who are in Judea need to run to the mountains. 15No one should go back for anything. 16You should not even go back for your coat. 17It will be hard for pregnant women and new mothers! 18Pray that it is not winter when this happens, 19because in those days there will be more distress than in the time God created the world until now, and it will never be topped. 20If the Lord had not shortened those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of those he chose he shortened them. 21At that time if someone says, ‘Look, there he is’, do not believe them. 22False Christs and false prophets will show up and try to trick the chosen; if that were possible. 23Be on your guard; I have forewarned you.

24”In the days after the time of distress,

" 'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give light;

25 the stars will fall from the sky,

and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

26At that time the Son of Man will be seen coming in the sky with great power and glory. 27He will send his angels and bring together his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28There is a lesson to be learned from the fig tree. You know that summer is near when the twigs get tender and the leaves come out. 28Just the same as these times when you see these things begin to happen you will know that the times are near. 30I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words never will.

The Day and Hour Unknown

32No one knows what day or hour this will happen. The angels do not know and neither does the Son. Only the father does. 33Stay alert! You do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man who leaves his home and puts his servants in charge.

35You have to always be ready because you do not know when he will get back. 36If he comes back when least expect it, do not let him find you slacking off. 37I am not saying this to just one person, I am saying this to everyone; ‘Watch!’”



(vs. 1-2) These stones were very large. The biggest stones were forty feet long, b twelve feet high, by eighteen feet wide. (Beacon, 380) This temple was one of the world wonders. It was not going to be destroyed for being used for worship to someone other than God, it was going to be destroyed as a punishment.(Buttrick, 855)

(vs. 3-4) Peter, James, John, and Andrew were sitting with Jesus. They wanted to know one sign that they could notice and not be able to miss. (Sanner, 381)

(vs. 5) The reason Jesus had so many answers was not to give them useless information, but to make them stronger in their faith. He had a purpose for unveiling all these events that were to come. (Sanner, 381)

(vs. 6) Jesus warned the disciples of many people that they should not believe.(Sanner, 381)

(vs. 7) Many troubled times will come. There are many things that Jesus talks about that will happen and fall in place with God’s plan. This is just the beginning. The end is still on its way. (Buttrick, 857)

(vs.14) The key words in this verse are “abomination of desolation”. This is a warning against the one who is going against God, either a statue or the Antichrist. (Buttrick, 861)

(vs.15-16) These are warnings that there will not be any time to spare. This will come quickly and they are told to get out as fast as possible. (Buttrick, 861)

(vs. 17-19) These verses are giving examples of how bad this time could be. It tells us how hard it would be as a pregnant or new mother and if it happened in the winter. This will be the most terrible time ever known to the world and nothing will ever top it. (Buttrick, 861)

(vs. 20) Hebrew and Jewish philosophy talks about how God could wait on the end times so the wicked would have more time to be saved. Now he is shortening the days for the ones he has chosen. (Buttrick, 862)

Word Study


Watch (vss. 33, 35, 37 ) vs.33 αγρυπνειτε, vs.35 γρηγορειτε, vs. 37 This is the same word as in verse 35 but it is given more emphasis. (Vincent 224-225)

“To watch for him is to make sure that our faith is no counterfeit which at the last crisis will vanish, but that true fait that will enable us to take our place beside him. It is to use the time that remains before his coming in the work of winning others for him. It is to recognize him gratefully in his intermediate comings in the person of the least of his brethren. (Cranfield, 412)”

Son of Man (vs. 26) The name “Son of Man” appears many times in the New Testament. It is used in Matthew 30 times, 15 in Mark, 25 in Luke, and 12 in John. It was only used one time by someone other than Jesus, and they used it to learn what it meant. This was Jesus’ favorite way of referring to himself, and he may have borrowed it from Ezekiel and Daniel. Jesus frequently referred to himself as this when he would talk about the future and coming back to judge. This showed that he knew he was the Messiah. This also shows us he identified himself with humanity. (Oor 2828-2830)



Barclay, William. The Gospel of Mark. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster P, 1975.

Berry, George R. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan House, 1977.

Buttrick, George A., ed. The Interpreter's Bible. Vol. 7. Abingdon P.

Cole, R. A. The Gospel According to Saint Mark. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Company, 1975.

Cranfield, C.E.B. The Gospel According to Saint Mark. Cambridge UP, 1959.

Earle, Ralph. Beacon Bible Commentary. Vol. 6. Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill P of Kansas City, 1964.

Earle, Ralph H. Word Meanings in the New Testament. New York: Beacon Hill P, 1987.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co., 1988.

Revell Bible dictionary. Old Tappan, N.J: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1990.

Sanner, A. Elwood. Mark. Vol. 2. Kansas City, Mo: Beacon Hill P of Kansas City, 1978.

Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. 1. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson.