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What do we do with all these uncertainties?

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The typical approach is to eliminate them. I am convinced that the ambiguities and uncertainties are intentional. The disciples want to know when the temple will fall and which sign will signal it and the accompanying events. They may or may not believe that the fall of the temple signals the End of the age. Jesus does not supply what the disciples want.

His view is that sign-seeking here and everywhere else in Mark is inappropriate. Instead, he clarifies for them that there are hard times ahead that call for discernment, faithful discipleship, and mission. The destruction of the temple will also come about, accompanied by difficult times for people in Judea.

A great tribulation will precede the final return of the Son of Man. What Jesus does not know is when the End will come v. Will the events in Judea lead directly to the End? Will they fulfill the necessary preconditions so that the Son of Man can return at any time? Or will they merely prefigure another set of events that will take place at the end of time? Since Jesus does not know, the chapter appears as it does; it does not tell the reader when the End will come. We do violence to Mark 13 by trying to eliminate the ambiguities.

But what if we take as the basic assumption behind all of Mark 13? No one knows when v. That is why constant discernment and faithfulness are necessary v. If that is the assumption that controls all of Mark 13, the whole chapter should reflect the following points:.

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That is exactly what we find in Mark 13, complete with all the ambiguities that must be there to preserve the uncertainties that verses affirm. I am persuaded that the eschatological time frame of Mark 13 looks a lot less complicated if we manage to put ourselves into the time of Jesus; he is looking forward to all of the events recorded there.

We look backward, and it messes up our perspective. I have heard people say that there cannot be a time gap between verses 18 and 19 because those days mentioned in verse 19 have to refer back to the same days that have been described as then in 14b. We look back in time to those days, which refer all the way back to then. But Jesus was looking forward. For him, then in verse 14b was a future date. To look beyond that future date v. We do not know when Mark was writing. My own view is that it was likely before the destruction of the temple or soon enough after it that view 2 above was still thought to be one of the possible scenarios.

If this is the case, the three scenarios considered possibilities by Jesus according to Mark were still possibilities at the time Mark wrote. If Mark wrote well after 70 CE, then he himself would have known that View 2 see above was no longer possible. In that case, he preserved all three possibilities in the mouth of Jesus , even though he himself knew that only the first and third could still come about.

This is possible, but unlikely, in my view. Mark 13 is a chapter about which many have thought deeply, and even more have written on! It is not an easy chapter to interpret. The perspective I have attempted to lay out here and in my commentary is the one that has helped me make most sense of what is clear in Mark 13 and what is unclear.

To recommend improvements to this article, click here. Toggle navigation. Discussion View source History. The Eschatology of Mark 13 From Anabaptistwiki. Jump to: navigation , search. New followers of Jesus especially need to embrace the extreme implications of following Jesus.

This can be especially discouraging since, by default, we tend to think of the original followers of Jesus as men of strength and daring. Mark, however, enables the new believer to see past this by reminding his readers that the twelve disciples were not born as the twelve apostles.

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The new believers in our churches must obey the radical demands of discipleship while at the same time accepting that struggling is an unavoidable part of the journey. Clearly, Mark assists with both these things. But honesty compels us to acknowledge that some if not most in our congregation experience growth while still falling short of their potential. So, assuming the reader will grant me this assertion, I want to affirm that Mark benefits the ordinary believer as it provides a smorgasbord of theological and practical truth—truths that will be essential for taking the next stages in spiritual maturity.


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The Gospel of Mark contributes to our basic understandings of soteriology, anthropology, Christology, missiology, and eschatology. Faithful, sequential exposition will provide opportunities to shore up a variety of theological truths that may be deficient in your congregation. Even biblical theology plays a prominent role in Mark as it frequently invites us to consider the meta-narrative of Scripture. This means the preacher will have multiple opportunities to show the significance of the Old Testament.

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While this Gospel tells a particular story, it sets us up to showcase the greater story. Mark gives us not just the story of Jesus but the story of Jesus and his disciples. The Markan scholar R.


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Thus Mark prompts believers of all stages to grow in their own faith and to share it with others. Paragraph by paragraph, the lukewarm will be stimulated and challenged further to emulate Christ and to engage in the advance of the gospel. It is hard to study Mark while remaining neutral, lukewarm, or unengaged. Preaching Mark will move the mediocre to maturity. Finally, Mark, provides special benefits for the mature believer. Once the mature saints in your congregation grasp a more confident handle on this book, they will have the confidence to work through it on their own with non-Christian friends or other newer believers.

For example, some members could begin using Mark by hosting an evangelistic program like Christianity Explored , which is based on this book. Imagine the longevity and utility of your series on Mark if your people were encouraged to use it with others in this way. We have seen amazing fruit from this in our own congregation, and, as a bonus, the accessibility of using Mark one-to-one has emboldened some of our members to branch out to other books of the Bible as well.

Mark. Believers Church Bible Commentary

New believers will benefit from its accessibility. Growing believers will be challenged to maturity. And mature believers will be able to leverage the confidence gleaned from your teaching to use Mark in their discipling efforts with others. These three gave me the most consistent results. Technical: France, R. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press,