Mr 13:1-37. Christ's
Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Warnings Suggested by It
to Prepare for His Second Coming. ( = Mt
24:1-51; Lu 21:5-36).
Jesus had uttered all His mind against the Jewish
ecclesiastics, exposing their character with withering plainness, and
denouncing, in language of awful severity, the judgments of God against
them for that unfaithfulness to their trust which was bringing ruin
upon the nation. He had closed this His last public discourse (Mt 23:1-39) by a passionate lamentation over
Jerusalem, and a solemn farewell to the temple. "And," says Matthew
24:1), "Jesus went out and
departed from the temple"—never more to re-enter its precincts,
or open His mouth in public teaching. With this act ended His public
ministry. As He withdrew, says Olshausen, the gracious presence of God left the
sanctuary; and the temple, with all its service, and the whole
theocratic constitution, was given over to destruction. What
immediately followed is, as usual, most minutely and graphically
described by our Evangelist.
1. And as he went out of the temple, one of his
disciples saith unto him—The other Evangelists are less
definite. "As some spake," says Luke (Lu 21:5); "His disciples came to Him," says
24:2). Doubtless it was the
speech of one, the mouthpiece, likely, of others.
see what manner of stones and what buildings are
here—wondering probably, how so massive a pile could be
overthrown, as seemed implied in our Lord's last words regarding it.
Josephus, who gives a minute account of
the wonderful structure, speaks of stones forty cubits long [Wars of
the Jews, 5.5.1.] and says the pillars supporting the porches were
twenty-five cubits high, all of one stone, and that of the whitest
marble [Wars of the Jews, 5.5.2]. Six days' battering at the
walls, during the siege, made no impression upon them [Wars of the
Jews, 6.4.1]. Some of the under-building, yet remaining, and other
works, are probably as old as the first temple.
2. And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou
these great buildings?—"Ye call My attention to these things?
I have seen them. Ye point to their massive and durable appearance: now
listen to their fate."
there shall not be left—"left here"
one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown
down—Titus ordered the whole city and temple to be demolished
[Josephus, Wars of the Jews,
7.1.1]; Eleazar wished they had all died before seeing that holy city
destroyed by enemies' hands, and before the temple was so profanely
dug up [Wars of the Jews, 7.8.7].
3. And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, over
against the temple—On their way from Jerusalem to Bethany
they would cross Mount Olivet; on its summit He seats Himself, over
against the temple, having the city all spread out under His eye. How
graphically is this set before us by our Evangelist!
Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him
privately—The other Evangelists tell us merely that "the
disciples" did so. But Mark not only says that it was four of them, but
names them; and they were the first quarternion of the
4. Tell us, when shall these things be? and what
shall be the sign when all these things shall be
fulfilled?—"and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of
the end of the world?" They no doubt looked upon the date of all these
things as one and the same, and their notions of the things themselves
were as confused as of the times of them. Our Lord takes His own way of
meeting their questions.
Prophecies of the Destruction of Jerusalem
5. And Jesus answering them began to say, Take
heed lest any man deceive you:
6. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am
Christ—(see Mt 24:5)—"and the time draweth nigh"
21:8); that is, the time of
the kingdom in its full splendor.
and shall deceive many—"Go ye not
therefore after them" (Lu 21:8). The
reference here seems not to be to pretended Messiahs, deceiving those
who rejected the claims of Jesus, of whom indeed there were
plenty—for our Lord is addressing His own genuine
disciples—but to persons pretending to be Jesus Himself, returned
in glory to take possession of His kingdom. This gives peculiar force
to the words, "Go ye not therefore after them."
7. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of
wars, be ye not troubled—(See on Mr
13:13, and compare Isa 8:11-14).
for such things must needs be; but the end shall
not be yet—In Luke (Lu 21:9), "the end is not by and by," or
"immediately." Worse must come before all is over.
8. These are the beginnings of
sorrows—"of travail-pangs," to which heavy calamities are
compared. (See Jer 4:31,
&c.). The annals of Tacitus tell us
how the Roman world was convulsed, before the destruction of Jerusalem,
by rival claimants of the imperial purple.
9. But take heed to yourselves:
for—"before all these things" (Lu 21:12); that is, before these public
they shall deliver you up to councils; and in
the synagogues ye shall be beaten—These refer to
ecclesiastical proceedings against them.
and ye shall be brought before rulers and
kings—before civil tribunals next.
for my sake, for a testimony against
them—rather "unto them"—to give you an opportunity of
bearing testimony to Me before them. In the Acts of the Apostles we
have the best commentary on this announcement. (Compare Mt 10:17, 18).
10. And the gospel must first be published among
all nations—"for a witness, and then shall the end come"
24:14). God never sends
judgment without previous warning; and there can be no doubt that the
Jews, already dispersed over most known countries, had nearly all heard
the Gospel "as a witness," before the end of the Jewish state. The same
principle was repeated and will repeat itself to "the end."
11. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you
up, take no thought beforehand—"Be not anxious
what ye shall speak, neither do ye
premeditate—"Be not filled with apprehension, in the prospect
of such public appearances for Me, lest ye should bring discredit upon
My name, nor think it necessary to prepare beforehand what ye are to
but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour,
that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy
Ghost—(See on Mt 10:19, 20.)
13. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's
sake—Matthew (Mt 24:12)
adds this important intimation: "And because iniquity shall abound, the
love of many"—"of the many," or "of the most," that is, of the
generality of professed disciples—"shall wax cold." Sad
illustrations of the effect of abounding iniquity in cooling the love
even of faithful disciples we have in the Epistle of James,
written about the period here referred to, and too frequently ever
but he that shall endure unto the end, the same
shall be saved—See on Mt 10:21, 22;
and compare Heb 10:38, 39, which is a manifest allusion to these
words of Christ; also Re 2:10. Luke
21:18) adds these reassuring
words: "But there shall not an hair of your heads perish." Our Lord had
just said (Lu 21:16)
that they should be put to death; showing that this precious
promise is far above immunity from mere bodily harm, and furnishing a
key to the right interpretation of Ps 91:1-18 and such like.
14. But when ye shall see—"Jerusalem
compassed by armies"—by encamped armies; in other words, when ye
shall see it besieged, and
the abomination of desolation, spoken of by
Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not—that is, as
explained in Matthew (Mt 24:15),
"standing in the holy place."
(let him that readeth
understand)—readeth that prophecy. That "the abomination of
desolation" here alluded to was intended to point to the Roman ensigns,
as the symbols of an idolatrous, and so unclean pagan power, may be
gathered by comparing what Luke says in the corresponding verse (Lu 21:20); and commentators are agreed on
it. It is worthy of notice, as confirming this interpretation, that in
1 Maccabees 1:54—which, though aprocryphal
Scripture, is authentic history—the expression of
Daniel (Da 11:31; 12:11) is applied to the idolatrous
profanation of the Jewish altar by Antiochus Epiphanes.
then let them that be in Judea flee to the
mountains—The ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius, early in the fourth century, tells us that
the Christians fled to Pella, at the northern extremity of
Perea, being "prophetically directed"—perhaps by some prophetic
intimation more explicit than this, which would be their
chart—and that thus they escaped the predicted calamities by
which the nation was overwhelmed.
15. And let him that is on the housetop not get
down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of
his house—that is, let him take the outside flight of steps
from the roof to the ground; a graphic way of denoting the extreme
urgency of the case, and the danger of being tempted, by the desire to
save his property, to delay till escape should become impossible.
16. And let him that is in the field not turn back
again for to take up his garment.
17. But woe to them—or, "alas for
that are with child, and to them that give suck
in those days—in consequence of the aggravated suffering
which those conditions would involve.
18. And pray ye that your flight be not in the
winter—making escape perilous, or tempting you to delay your
flight. Matthew (Mt 24:20)
adds, "neither on the sabbath day," when, from fear of a breach of its
sacred rest, they might be induced to remain.
19. For in those days shall be affliction, such as
was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this
time, neither shall be—Such language is not unusual in the
Old Testament with reference to tremendous calamities. But it is matter
of literal fact that there was crowded into the period of the Jewish
war an amount and complication of suffering perhaps unparalleled; as
the narrative of Josephus, examined
closely and arranged under different heads, would show.
20. And except that the Lord had shortened those
days, no flesh—that is, no human life.
should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom
he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days—But for this
merciful "shortening," brought about by a remarkable concurrence of
causes, the whole nation would have perished, in which there yet
remained a remnant to be afterwards gathered out. This portion of the
prophecy closes, in Luke, with the following vivid and important glance
at the subsequent fortunes of the chosen people: "And they shall fall
by the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and
Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the
Gentiles be fulfilled" (Lu 21:24).
The language as well as the idea of this remarkable statement is taken
8:10, 13. What, then, is its
import here? It implies, first, that a time is coming when Jerusalem
shall cease to be "trodden down of the Gentiles"; which it was then by
pagan, and since and till now is by Mohammedan unbelievers: and next,
it implies that the period when this treading down of Jerusalem by the
Gentiles is to cease will be when "the times of the Gentiles are
fulfilled" or "completed." But what does this mean? We may gather the
meaning of it from Ro 11:1-36
in which the divine purposes and procedure towards the chosen people
from first to last are treated in detail. In Ro 11:25 these words of our Lord are thus
reproduced: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of
this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that
blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the
Gentiles be come in." See the exposition of that
verse, from which it will appear that "till the fulness of the
Gentiles be come in"—or, in our Lord's phraseology, "till the
times of the Gentiles be fulfilled"—does not mean "till the
general conversion of the world to Christ," but "till the Gentiles have
had their full time of that place in the Church which the Jews
had before them." After that period of Gentilism, as before of
Judaism, "Jerusalem" and Israel, no longer "trodden down by the
Gentiles," but "grafted into their own olive tree," shall constitute,
with the believing Gentiles, one Church of God, and fill the whole
earth. What a bright vista does this open up!
21. And then, if any man shall say to you, Lo,
here is Christ; or, lo he is there; believe him not—So Lu 17:23.
22. For false Christs and false prophets
shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders. No one can read Josephus' account of what took place before
the destruction of Jerusalem without seeing how strikingly this was
to seduce, if it were possible, even the
elect—implying that this, though all but done, will
prove impossible. What a precious assurance! (Compare 2Th 2:9-12).
23. But take ye heed; behold, I have foretold you
all things—He had just told them that the seduction of the
elect would prove impossible; but since this would be all but
accomplished, He bids them be on their guard, as the proper means of
averting that catastrophe. In Matthew (Mt 24:26-28) we have some additional particulars:
"Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go
not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as
the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." See on Lu 17:23, 24. "For wheresoever the carcass is, there
will the eagles be gathered together." See on Lu
24. But in those days, after that
tribulation—"Immediately after the tribulation of those days"
the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall
not give her light.
25. And the stars of heaven shall
fall—"and upon the earth distress of nations, with
perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them
for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the
earth" (Lu 21:25, 26).
and the powers that are in heaven shall be
shaken—Though the grandeur of this language carries the mind
over the head of all periods but that of Christ's Second Coming, nearly
every expression will be found used of the Lord's coming in terrible
national judgments: as of Babylon (Isa 13:9-13); of Idumea (Isa 34:1, 2,
4, 8-10); of Egypt (Eze 32:7,
8); compare also Ps 18:7-15; Isa 24:1, 17-19; Joe 2:10, 11, &c. We cannot therefore
consider the mere strength of this language a proof that it refers
exclusively or primarily to the precursors of the final day, though of
course in "that day" it will have its most awful fulfilment.
26. And then shall they see the Son of man coming
in the clouds with great power and glory—In Mt 24:30, this is given most fully: "And then
shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all
the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man,"
&c. That this language finds its highest interpretation in the
Second Personal Coming of Christ, is most certain. But the question is,
whether that be the primary sense of it as it stands here? Now if the
reader will turn to Da 7:13, 14, and connect with it the preceding verses, he will find, we think, the true
key to our Lord's meaning here. There the powers that oppressed the
Church—symbolized by rapacious wild beasts—are summoned to
the bar of the Great God, who as the Ancient of days seats Himself,
with His assessors, on a burning Throne: thousand thousands ministering
to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before Him. "The
judgment is set, and the books are opened." Who that is guided by the
mere words would doubt that this is a description of the Final
Judgment? And yet nothing is clearer than that it is not, but a
description of a vast temporal judgment, upon organized bodies
of men, for their incurable hostility to the kingdom of God upon earth.
Well, after the doom of these has been pronounced and executed, and
room thus prepared for the unobstructed development of the kingdom of
God over the earth, what follows? "I saw in the night visions, and
behold, one like THE Son of Man came
with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they
[the angelic attendants] brought Him near before Him." For what
purpose? To receive investiture in the kingdom, which, as Messiah, of
right belonged to Him. Accordingly, it is added, "And there was given
Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and
languages should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be
destroyed." Comparing this with our Lord's words, He seems to us, by
"the Son of man [on which phrase, see on Joh
1:51] coming in the clouds with great power and glory," to mean,
that when judicial vengeance shall once have been executed upon
Jerusalem, and the ground thus cleared for the unobstructed
establishment of His own kingdom, His true regal claims and rights
would be visibly and gloriously asserted and manifested. See on Lu 9:28 (with its parallels in Mt 17:1; Mr
9:2), in which nearly the
same language is employed, and where it can hardly be understood of
anything else than the full and free establishment of the kingdom of
Christ on the destruction of Jerusalem. But what is that "sign of
the Son of man in heaven?" Interpreters are not agreed. But as before
Christ came to destroy Jerusalem some appalling portents were seen in
the air, so before His Personal appearing it is likely that something
analogous will be witnessed, though of what nature it would be
vain to conjecture.
27. And then shall he send his
angels—"with a great sound of a trumpet" (Mt 24:31).
and shall gather together his elect,
&c.—As the tribes of Israel were anciently gathered together
by sound of trumpet (Ex 19:13, 16, 19; Le 23:24;
Ps 81:3-5), so any mighty
gathering of God's people, by divine command, is represented as
collected by sound of trumpet (Isa 27:13; compare Re 11:15); and the ministry of angels, employed
in all the great operations of Providence, is here held forth as the
agency by which the present assembling of the elect is to be
accomplished. Lightfoot thus explains
it: "When Jerusalem shall be reduced to ashes, and that wicked nation
cut off and rejected, then shall the Son of man send His ministers with
the trumpet of the Gospel, and they shall gather His elect of the
several nations, from the four corners of heaven: so that God shall not
want a Church, although that ancient people of His be rejected and cast
off: but that ancient Jewish Church being destroyed, a new Church shall
be called out of the Gentiles." But though something like this appears
to be the primary sense of the verse, in relation to the destruction of
Jerusalem, no one can fail to see that the language swells beyond any
gathering of a human family into a Church upon earth, and forces the
thoughts onward to that gathering of the Church "at the last trump," to
meet the Lord in the air, which is to wind up the present scene. Still,
this is not, in our judgment, the direct subject of the
prediction; for Mr 13:28
limits the whole prediction to the generation then existing.
28. Now learn a parable of the fig
tree—"Now from the fig tree learn the parable," or the high
lesson which this teaches.
When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth
29. So ye, in like manner, when ye shall see these
things come to pass—rather, "coming to pass."
know that it—"the kingdom of God"
is nigh, even at the doors—that is,
the full manifestation of it; for till then it admitted of no full
development. In Luke (Lu 21:28)
the following words precede these: "And when these things begin to come
to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption
draweth nigh"—their redemption, in the first instance certainly,
from Jewish oppression (1Th 2:14-16; Lu 11:52): but in the highest sense of these
words, redemption from all the oppressions and miseries of the present
state at the second appearing of the Lord Jesus.
30. Verily I say unto you, that this generation
shall not pass fill all these things be done—or "fulfilled"
(Mt 24:34; Lu 21:32). Whether we take this to mean that the
whole would be fulfilled within the limits of the generation then
current, or, according to a usual way of speaking, that the generation
then existing would not pass away without seeing a begun
fulfilment of this prediction, the facts entirely correspond. For
either the whole was fulfilled in the destruction accomplished by
Titus, as many think; or, if we stretch it out, according to others,
till the thorough dispersion of the Jews a little later, under Adrian,
every requirement of our Lord's words seems to be met.
31. Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words
shall not pass away—the strongest possible expression of the
divine authority by which He spake; not as Moses or Paul might have
said of their own inspiration, for such language would be unsuitable in
any merely human mouth.
Warnings to Prepare for the Coming of Christ
Suggested by the Foregoing Prophecy (Mr 13:32-37).
It will be observed that, in the foregoing prophecy,
as our Lord approaches the crisis of the day of vengeance on Jerusalem
and redemption for the Church—at which stage the analogy between
that and the day of final vengeance and redemption waxes more
striking—His language rises and swells beyond all temporal and
partial vengeance, beyond all earthly deliverances and enlargements,
and ushers us resistlessly into the scenes of the final day.
Accordingly, in these six concluding verses it is manifest that
preparation for "THAT DAY" is what our
Lord designs to inculcate.
32. But of that day and that hour—that
is, the precise time.
knoweth no man—literally, no one.
no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither
the Son, but the Father—This very remarkable statement
regarding "the Son" is peculiar to Mark. Whether it means that the Son
was not at that time in possession of the knowledge referred to,
or simply that it was not among the things which He had received to
communicate—has been matter of much controversy even among
the firmest believers in the proper Divinity of Christ. In the latter
sense it was taken by some of the most eminent of the ancient Fathers,
and by Luther, Melancthon, and most of the older Lutherans; and it
is so taken by Bengel, Lange, Webster and
Wilkinson, Chrysostom and others understood it to mean that
as man our Lord was ignorant of this. It is taken literally by
Calvin, Grotius, De Wette,
Meyer, Fritzsche, Stier,
Alford, and Alexander.
33. Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not
when the time is.
34. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far
journey, &c.—The idea thus far is similar to that in the
opening part of the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14, 15).
and commanded the porter—the
to watch—pointing to the official duty
of the ministers of religion to give warning of approaching danger to
35. Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the
master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the
cock-crowing, or in the morning—an allusion to the four Roman
watches of the night.
36. Lest, coming suddenly, he find you
sleeping—See on Lu 12:35-40; Lu 12:42-46.
37. And what I say unto you—this
discourse, it will be remembered, was delivered in private.
I say unto all, Watch—anticipating and
requiring the diffusion of His teaching by them among all His
disciples, and its perpetuation through all time.