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Mark 13:24-37

Context
The Arrival of the Son of Man

13:24 “But in those days, after that suffering, 1  the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; 13:25 the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 2  13:26 Then everyone 3  will see the Son of Man arriving in the clouds 4  with great power and glory. 13:27 Then he will send angels and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 5 

The Parable of the Fig Tree

13:28 “Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 13:29 So also you, when you see these things happening, know 6  that he is near, right at the door. 13:30 I tell you the truth, 7  this generation 8  will not pass away until all these things take place. 13:31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 9 

Be Ready!

13:32 “But as for that day or hour no one knows it – neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son 10  – except the Father. 13:33 Watch out! Stay alert! 11  For you do not know when the time will come. 13:34 It is like a man going on a journey. He left his house and put his slaves 12  in charge, assigning 13  to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert. 13:35 Stay alert, then, because you do not know when the owner of the house will return – whether during evening, at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn – 13:36 or else he might find you asleep when he returns suddenly. 13:37 What I say to you I say to everyone: Stay alert!”

1 tn Traditionally, “tribulation.”

2 sn An allusion to Isa 13:10, 34:4 (LXX); Joel 2:10. The heavens were seen as the abode of heavenly forces, so their shaking indicates distress in the spiritual realm. Although some take the powers as a reference to bodies in the heavens (like stars and planets, “the heavenly bodies,” NIV) this is not as likely.

3 tn Grk “they.”

4 sn An allusion to Dan 7:13. Here is Jesus returning with full judging authority.

5 tn Or “of the sky”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context.

6 tn The verb γινώσκετε (ginwskete, “know”) can be parsed as either present indicative or present imperative. In this context the imperative fits better, since the movement is from analogy (trees and seasons) to the future (the signs of the coming of the kingdom) and since the emphasis is on preparation for this event.

7 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

8 sn This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning “race” and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term γενεά (genea) can have this meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean “this type of generation” and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or (3) generation may refer to “the generation that sees the signs of the end” (v. 26), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it happen very quickly, in rapid succession.

9 sn The words that Jesus predicts here will never pass away. They are more stable and lasting than creation itself! For this kind of image, see Isa 40:8; 55:10-11.

10 sn The phrase nor the Son has caused a great deal of theological debate because on the surface it appears to conflict with the concept of Jesus’ deity. The straightforward meaning of the text is that the Son does not know the time of his return. If Jesus were divine, though, wouldn’t he know this information? There are other passages which similarly indicate that Jesus did not know certain things. For example, Luke 2:52 indicates that Jesus grew in wisdom; this has to mean that Jesus did not know everything all the time but learned as he grew. So Mark 13:32 is not alone in implying that Jesus did not know certain things. The best option for understanding Mark 13:32 and similar passages is to hold the two concepts in tension: The Son in his earthly life and ministry had limited knowledge of certain things, yet he was still deity.

11 tc The vast majority of witnesses (א A C L W Θ Ψ Ë1,13 Ï lat sy co) have καὶ προσεύχεσθε after ἀγρυπνεῖτε (agrupneite kai proseucesqe, “stay alert and pray”). This may be a motivated reading, influenced by the similar command in Mark 14:38 where προσεύχεσθε is solidly attested, and more generally from the parallel in Luke 21:36 (though δέομαι [deomai, “ask”] is used there). As B. M. Metzger notes, it is a predictable variant that scribes would have been likely to produce independently of each other (TCGNT 95). The words are not found in B D 2427 a c {d} k. Although the external evidence for the shorter reading is slender, it probably better accounts for the longer reading than vice versa.

12 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 10:44.

13 tn Grk “giving.”



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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