TEXTUAL  ANALYSIS  OF  MARK  13  APOCALYPSE

 

UR-MARKUS (30 A.D.)        JEWISH APOCALYPSE (>40 A.D.)    CHURCH ADDITIONS (>70 A.D.)

(most likely from Jesus)              (probably from Jesus, based on Daniel)            (final editor: “the Evangelist”)

Vv. 1-2       (Sudden End)               Vv. 7-8             (Near, Gradual End)               Vv. 3-6      (Far Off, Gradual End)

And as he came out of the              And when you hear of wars and rumors        And as he sat on the Mount of

temple, one of his disciples            of wars, do not be alarmed; this must             Olives opposite the temple,

said to him, “Look, Teacher,          take place, but the end is not yet. Peter and James and John and

what wonderful stones and             For nation will rise against nation   Andrew asked him privately,

what wonderful buildings!”            and kingdom against kingdom; there               “Tell us, when will this be,

And Jesus said to him, “Do            will be earthquakes in various places;             and what will be the sign when

you see these great buildings?         there will be famines; this is but the               these things are all to be accom-

There will not be left here               beginning of the sufferings.                           plished?  And Jesus began to say

one stone upon another,                 V. 9a                                                                to them, “Take heed that no one

that will not be thrown down.”      But take heed for yourselves.                         leads you astray.  Many will come

Vv. 28-29                                        V. 12                                                               in my name saying, I am he! and

From the fig tree learn its                And brother will deliver up brother                they will lead many astray.”

lesson: as soon as its                       to death, and the father his child,                    Vv. 21-23

branch becomes tender and             and children will rise up against                      And then if anyone says to you,

puts forth leaves, you know           parents and have them put to death.              “Look, here is the Christ, or look,

that summer is near.  So,                 Vv. 13b-20a                                                    there he is,” do not believe it.

also, when you see these                But he who endures to the end will                False Christs and false prophets

things take place, you                     be saved.  But when you see the Abom-        will arise and show signs and

know that he is near, at                  ination of Desolations set up      wonders, to lead astray, if pos-

the very gates.                                 where it ought not to be (let the reader          sible, the elect.  But take heed; I

Vv. 34-36                                        understand), then let those who are               have told you all things before-

It is like a man going on                  in Judea flee to the mountains; let  hand.

a journey, when he leaves               him who is on the housetop not go                V. 9b

home and puts his servants            down nor enter his house to take                    For they will deliver you up to

in charge, each with his                   anything away, and let him who is councils, and you will be

own work, and commands              in the field not turn back to take his               beaten in synagogues, and you

the doorkeeper to be on                  mantle.  And alas for those who are               will stand before governors and

the watch.  Watch, there-                with child and for those who give   kings for my sake, to bear witness

fore, for you do not know              suck in those days!  Pray (you) that it           (Gk. martyrion) before them.

when the master of the                   may not happen in winter.  For in those        V. 11

house will come, in the                   days there will be such tribulation               And when they bring you to trial

evening or at midnight                     as has not been from the beginning and deliver you up, do not be

or at cockcrow or in the                  of the creation which God created                  anxious beforehand what you are

morning - lest he come                    until now, and never will be.  And if              to say; but say whatever is given

suddenly and find you                   the Lord had not shortened the days,             you in that hour, for it is not you

asleep.                                             no human being would be saved.                    who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

Vv. 32-33                                        Vv. 24-27                                                        V. 10

But of that day or that                    But in those days, after the tribulation,       And the gospel must first be

hour no one knows,                       the sun will be darkened, and the moon          preached to all nations.

not even the angels in                      will not give its light, and the stars V. 13a

heaven, nor the Son,                        will be falling from heaven, and the                And you will be hated by all for

but only the Father.                        Powers in the heavens will be shaken.           my name’s sake.

Take heed, watch; for                     And then they will see the Son of Man         V. 20b

you do not know                            coming in the clouds with great power           But for the sake of the elect whom

when the time will come.                and glory.  And then he will send out             he chose, he shortened the days.

                                                        the angels and gather his elect from                V. 31

Notes:                                             the four winds, from the ends of the              Heaven and earth will pass away, but

1. Jesus obviously did not              earth to the ends of heaven.                            my words will not pass away.

say the things given in                    V. 30                                                               V. 37

italics.                                              Truly, I say to you, this generation                And what I say to you I say to all:

2. Elsewhere, Jesus repudiated       will not pass away before all these  Watch.

giving signs (Mark 8:12).                things take place.

 

COMMENTARY ON MARK CHAPTER 13

Taken from Jesus And The Last Days by George Beasley-Murray

(English Baptist theologian) 1993, Hendrickson Publishers

 

Mark 13 parallels Matthew 24 and Luke 21.  The theory that Mark 13 is an anthology, a collection of three literary pieces of varied authorship, is given by Beasley-Murray (pp. 6, 43, 48, 84, 94, 195, 314, 337).

UR-MARKUS, the first division, groups material that is most likely attributable to Jesus.  It consists of two parables, harmonious with others from the lips of Jesus, and predicts a sudden end at an indefinite time.  The term “Ur-” meaning “original” or “earliest” was used by German theologians.

JEWISH APOCALYPSE, the second division, probably dates from the time of Caligula, 40 A.D.  It is likely from Jesus, but is so dependent on Daniel that it could have come from any adventist Christian.  (The hypothesis of the Small Apocalypse is now the sententia recepta - the common opinion - of synoptic criticism.)

CHURCH ADDITIONS, the third division, reflects the time of persecution following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  It could have come from any Christian who was suffering afflictions and having to deal with false teachers.  Reference to “synagogues” shows that the time was early, before Christians had become separate from the Jews.

 

Mark 13 deals with two prophecies, the fall of Jerusalem and the final Advent, and they are merged into one discourse of Jesus.  Both prophecies may be essentially authentic, the ipsissima verba (actual words) of Jesus (p. 432, 449), but Mark (designated “the Evangelist” by textual critics) inserted some material.

 

Significant Dates and Events:

 

Abomination: 167 B.C., Image of Zeus erected on the high altar of the Jewish Temple by the Greek tyrant Antiochus IV Theos Epiphanes.  (Dan. 9:27, 11:31, 12:11, 1 Macc. 1:57, 2 Macc. 6:2)

Ruler Cut Off: 163 B.C., Death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  (Dan. 9:27, 11:45)

Abomination #2 (and Antichrist): 40 A.D., Edict of Emperor Caligula to erect his statue in the Temple; this threat of Abomination was terminated by his death the next year.  (Mark 13:14, 2 Thess. 2:3-9). (pp. 63, 150, 219, 346)

Tribulation: 66-70 A.D., Jewish War against Rome

Ruler Cut Off #2: 68 A.D., murder of Emperor Nero on June 9 (p. 408).  The Book of Revelation envisioned an invasion of the Roman Empire by Persians under the leadership of Nero redivivus (resurrected), per R. H. Charles.

Abomination #3: 69 A.D., Coins with pagan images issued by General Vespasian after his victorious campaign against the Jews the previous year (p. 316).

Abomination #4: 71 A.D., Triumph of General Titus; Roman standards erected in the Temple and sacrifices made to the images thereon (p. 169).

Flight: 71 A.D., Christians of Jerusalem fled to Pella in Transjordan (according to Eusebius’ history) (pp. 171, 412).

Abomination #5: 135 A.D., Statue of Jupiter Capitolinus erected in the site where the Temple once stood by the Emperor Hadrian.  This was at the end of the rebellion led by Simeon Bar Kochba, who was designated as messiah by Rabbi Akiba (p. 414).

Explanation of the term “Abomination of Desolations:”

 

            Heb. shiqqutz shomem.  Shiqqutz is a detestable, filthy thing, hence, an idol. Shomem is desolation or devastation, also, appalling or horrible.

            Gk. to bdelygma tes eremoseos: the abomination that causes destruction.

 

            Play on words: Zeus was identified as Baal (both being storm gods) under the title “Baal shamayim” (Master of Heaven).  Shamayim, often pronounced shamem, was converted to shomem. (p. 409)

            Daniel borrowed from Jeremiah (4:1-8): “The people of Judah have...set up their abominations...the land shall become desolate.”

 

Dating of apocalyptic passages: Scholars who place the apocalyptic verses of Mark 13 after 70 A.D., thus make of them a vaticinium ex eventu (or vaticinium post eventum), a “prophecy after the event.”  They note that the Temple is not mentioned in verse 14. Another view is to see the verses as a real prophecy of future troubles written after the threat of Caligula to desecrate the Temple in 40 A.D.

 

The prediction of the End Times coming in “this generation” (v. 30) is contradicted by the statement that “no one knows” the time (v. 32).  Some interpreters say that “this generation” means the Jewish race, which will persist.  It could also mean the generation of the New Testament or the generation of humankind as a whole (pp. 261, 443).  Others say that Jesus wished each generation to be prepared.  Albert Schweitzer pointed out that when Jesus sent out the Twelve, he did not expect their mission to be complete before his own translation and parousia (coming) took place (Matt. 10:23).  The phrase “nor the Son” is not found in many manuscripts and patristic writings (p. 454).

 

The belief of Jesus in the imminence of the End is irreconcilible with the view that it will be preceded by numerous historical events called “signs.”  The two views are mutually exclusive.  Elsewhere, Jesus rejected calculation of the time and watching for “signs” (Mark 8:12, Luke 17:20).  The idea of the sudden end comes from the “Q” source and is to be preferred.  In one verse of Matthew’s account (24:27) the Coming is sudden, like a flash of lightning, and without a long drama.  The theologian H. H. Rowley observed that “apocalyptic writings are notoriously inharmonious” (p. 153).  P. Althaus stated that “everything apocalyptic in Jesus, and then in Paul, remains wholly in the bounds of the near expectation” (p. 156).

 

The idea of a protracted period between Jerusalem’s fall and the Parousia was reflected in the term “the times of the Gentiles,” a span of years when the Gospel would be preached to the world (Luke 21:24, Matt. 21:43, Mk. 13:10, Rev. 11:2, Rom. 11:25  -  based on Isa. 63:18, Dan. 8:13).

 

The theological hypothesis of a kenosis of the Christ makes it possible to admit of an intellectual error in the Incarnate Lord.  The Greek term kenosis means an “emptying” of Godhead, based on Phil. 2:7.  The humanity of Jesus must be recognized.  He was not omniscient (p. 461).

 

 

The Tribulation had already begun but was to be shortened per v. 20.  This parallels: “The last offense is at hand, concerning which the Scripture speaks, as Enoch says, ‘For to this end the Master has cut the seasons and the days short, that his beloved might hasten and come to his inheritance’” (Epistle of Barnabas 4:3).  Christians are to endure suffering: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you”and also, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  This refutes the doctrine of the Rapture, in which the Church is snatched up before the Tribulation begins (pp. 374, 442).  The phrase “in those days” was inserted at a later time (p. 370).  “You will be hated” (v. 13) reflects the famous phrase of Tacitus odium humani generis from his words, “a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace” (p. 406).

 

Apocalyptic Portents (Theophanies): Jud. 5:4-5, Ps. 18:6-15, 77:16-18, Isa. 13:10, 34:4-10, Ezek. 32:7-8, Joel 2:30-31, Amos 1:2, Mic. 1:3-4, Nahum 1:2-6, Hab. 3:3-13, Sir. 16:18-19, Mark 13, Rev. 6 (pp. 308, 319, 425).  It is likely that Jesus did make use of apocalyptic language (“ancient mythical symbols,” p. 347) of his day, as he did law and prophecy.  In Isa. 34:4, all the “hosts of heaven are dissolved,” but LXX renders this “powers of heaven melt,” and so Mark 13:25 says “powers in the heavens will be shaken.”  This has a Gnostic flavor, since the Æons were also called Powers.

 

The parable of the greening fig tree was an ætiological myth given by Jesus to show that the barren fig tree of Judaism had been withered (judged by God) and replaced by the fruitful tree of Christianity.  It also showed the nearness of summer, when the Kingdom message would blossom in the world and God’s reign would begin.  This triumphal event might be called his “Coming” in the present generation.  However, the establishment of the Church might also be followed by a future, real Parousia.  The fig tree’s greening and the beginning of the New Age is illustrated by the fact that mankind’s history is divided into the times before and after Christ: B.C. and A.D. in the calendar.


THE  ESCHATOLOGY  OF  JESUS

 

          It is difficult to know the mind of Jesus with regard to the end of the world, because the Gospel records of what He said are very ambiguous.  In some places His teachings indicate a nearness of the end of the age, while other accounts interject a long historical drama between His own day and the culmination of cosmic time.  Also, some statements from the Lord show His distaste for calculating end dates and watching for “signs of the times,” while other narratives have Him providing detailed apocalyptic pictures of the last days.  The following verses illustrate these various approaches.

 

IMMINENT END

 

And preach as you go, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”...When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.        Matt. 10:7,23

 

Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His king-dom.                                         Matt. 16:28 (Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27)

 

Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.

                                                              Matt. 23:36 (Luke 21:32)

 

PROTRACTED END

 

And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet.     Mark 13:7

 

For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines; this is but the beginning of the sufferings.                        Mark 13:8

 

But in those days, after the tribulation...then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.                                                                              Mark 13:24,26

 

SIGNS REPUDIATED

 

And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign?  Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”                                                  Mark 8:12

 

But He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.                                                    Matt. 12:39, 16:4

 

SIGNS PROVIDED

 

“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?”  And Jesus began to say to them.....                                                               Mark 13:4,5a

(Jesus proceeds to give as signs of the end times: wars, strife, earthquakes, famines, persecutions, and heavenly portents.)

 

There will be great earthquakes and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven...And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves.                                       Luke 21:11,25

 

So, also, when you see these things take place, you know that He is near, at the very gates.                                                 Mark 13:29

 

          Because of the ambiguity of these passages, it would be very presumptuous to take a dogmatic position on the exact meaning of the words of Jesus.  One would be forced to choose between predictions of a sudden Return in the First Century without prophetic signs or a prolonged drama of evil events leading up to some future end date.

 

          Now, on the other hand, it may be conjectured that there might have been a suspension of both of these ideas at the same time in the mind of Jesus.  Certainly, it would be difficult to imagine Jesus completely ignoring the prevailing apocalyptic expectations of His time.  John the Baptist had said the kingdom of heaven was “at hand.”  Also, the highly symbolic panoramas painted by the Hebrew prophets, especially Daniel, and known by Jesus from His childhood schooling, would have provided familiar language to employ in addressing the audiences of His day.

 

          Still another consideration is the fact that Jesus confessed quite openly that He did not know the exact time when God would terminate the career of humanity.  In His words: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36, Mark 13:32).  It would seem, however, from the overall sense of His teaching, that Jesus felt His coming would be very soon, even though He was not able to specify an exact “day and hour.”  (Taking their cue from the Master, later contributors to New Testament Scripture also believed themselves to be living in the last days.)

 

          Now, the coming of His kingdom, as manifested in the Church, coupled with the calamities that fell upon the Jewish nation at the hand of Rome, did occur in First Century times, and these may well have suited the intended meanings of the forecasts of Jesus.  However, it is obvious that the supernatural coming of the Son of Man with mighty power did not occur during the lifetime of Jesus nor in the generation to follow.  Thus, if an imminent world’s end was His expectation, then it is obvious that He did not have precise knowledge about the timing of this event.  Evidently, this information was not given to Him by His Father.

 

          One theory explaining the limited knowledge of Jesus is the theological hypothesis of kenosis.  The Greek term kenosis means an “emptying,” and this applies to the necessarily restricted outpouring of Godhead into human flesh.  This theological concept is based on the following passage of Scripture:

 

Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.                                                                                         Philippians 2:5-7

 

          The humanity of Jesus must be recognized, and this means that He was not omniscient.  Like any other human being, Jesus had to grow mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially - as the Bible puts it: “in wisdom, in stature, and in the favor of God and man” (Luke 2:52).  So, the Incarnation must have involved a moderation of the godlike attributes of glory, power, and perfect wisdom.  As a result, Jesus never did claim to possess all knowledge while He was in the flesh.*

 

          Actually, Jesus was as much of Godhead as could be contained in the human frame.  He proved His divinity by His resurrection, but His humanity was also just as important in defining the Incarnation.  And in identifying with sinful humanity, Jesus became a worthy Savior of mankind.

 

          Theologians continue to deal with the sayings of Jesus with regard to last things, and the seeming contradictions in the words of the Master have led some to speculate that not all words in the Gospels are His.  It is believed by many that the apocalyptic pronouncements attributed to Jesus were, in fact, added by later disciples or prophets as the events of history unfolded.   One such treatment is given on the following chart, entitled “Textual Analysis of Mark 13 Apocalypse.”

 

 

*The opposite view, and one held by many Christians today, would have Jesus knowing all things from infancy and only pretending to have to learn at school and from His parents, only pretending to be ignorant of His messiahship in His early years, only seeming to be irritated, only seeming to prefer Jews over Gentiles, only seeming to be hungry, thirsty, tired, and dirty, and only seeming to be subject to death.  Now, such a view was first promoted by a group of idealistic Christians called Docetists.  And while docetism was officially denounced by the early Church as a heresy, Christendom has still had many adherents to this viewpoint in every generation since that time.

                             INDEX

 

Abominaton of Desolations, historical events: 8, 33, 37, 45, 52, 63, 73, 77, 89, 97, 150, 169, 219, 260, 316, 331, 346, 360, 409-416

Jerusalem falls, World ends: 84, 111, 112, 124, 142, 153, 237, 245, 346

Theophany: 5, 256, 288, 307f, 319, 342, 347, 424-427

Vaticinium ex eventu: 4, 8, 10, 72, 276, 337

Watching, Vigilance: 218, 303, 309, 389

Q Source: 229, 337, 340, 400, 417, 451

Fig Tree, harmonious parable: 438-442

Kenosis: 4, 88, 251, 454, 455-461

Tribulation: 116, 344, 367, 400

Primordial Battle: 66, 167

Heavenly Host - Powers: 75

Ipsissima Verba: 245, 432

Jesus Seminar: 254, 365

Wars & rumors of war: 396

Current events as signs: 397

This generation: 443-449

Cosmology: 433

Voice: 380

Eusebius: 17, 171, 408, 412

Tacitus: 406