Mark - Lesson 18

Thomas Klock

Lesson Eighteen

The Son of Man Returning

Mark 13


Knowing the Scriptures

Studies in the Gospel of Mark




In Mark 12 we saw the Son of Man being tested, sort of a trial before His actual trial later in the Passion Week.  First, Jesus told the parable of the vineyard, which ties in with the events of Mark 11.  In this parable He showed the evil of the religious leaders’ real motives, and it made clear that they were rejecting the very cornerstone on which they could either fall and be broken, or let it fall on them and smash them into the dust.  The various political and religious groups spent the rest of that day trying to trap Jesus by their testing of Him; from the heavenly perspective they were the ones being tested!  The Herodians sought to trip Jesus up over the issue of paying taxes to Rome and the Sadducees tried to get Him to stumble over the issues of the resurrection and eternal life. Lastly, the Pharisees and scribes tried to corner Him on issues regarding the Law and the most important commandment. Rather than stumbling Jesus, this test actually turned a scribe toward Him.  All of their efforts to trap Him were frustrated.  Jesus then took His turn to question them and observe.  Jesus clarified who the Messiah really was: not just a conqueror in the line of David, but actually David’s Lord, superior to him.  Jesus also spent some time observing how people were giving to the work of the temple, and saw an old woman contributing her last bits of money, small amount though it was.  Jesus praised this woman, and her example still speaks to us today, having been recorded in Mark’s Gospel for all time.


This week we come to what some call the Olivet Discourse, Jesus’ teaching on the events coming shortly as well as at the end of history as we know it.  This is the longest and most difficult discourse of Jesus recorded by Mark.[i] Although we won’t be able to answer concretely what these events are and when exactly they will happen, there is a repeated theme in this discourse we must take into account:  Watch!  Be ready and on guard!  We will attempt to discern the meaning of Jesus’ teachings here, but we must realize that all Bible prophecy seems to reflect both a near and a more distant meaning[ii], and sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart until we get closer to the events.  Similarly, we observe mountains in the distance that appear joined together, but as we get closer to them we see they are several distinct peaks.  So let’s turn to this chapter and see the Son of Man Returning, and learn what our responsibility is in the meantime.


DAY ONE:  Two-fold Prophecies

Please carefully read Mark 13:1–8 and answer the following questions.


1.  Jesus and the disciples were probably heading out of Jerusalem for the night after the events of Mark 12, making it probably Wednesday night of the Passion Week.[iii]  What did the disciples observe, and what was Jesus’ shocking statement about it (vv. 1, 2)?


Sidelight: Herod’s Temple

The Jerusalem temple wasn’t fully completed until a.d. 63-64.  It was built by the Herods to win the Jew’s favor and of course to create a monument to themselves! It was an architectural wonder of the ancient world and was built with large white stones, polished and generously decorated with gold, covering about 1/6 of the land area of old Jerusalem. To the Jews nothing was as magnificent and formidable as their temple.  Jesus predicted its destruction, saying “Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:2 nkjv). His words proved true when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in a.d. 70. Excavations in the area adjacent to the west side of the Temple Mount have revealed graphic evidence of this event. Tons of limestone blocks were discovered lying in the street where they were thrown by the Roman soldiers when they razed the temple.  These stones measured twenty-four feet in length by six feet in thickness. However, both at the southeastern and southwestern corners, stones have been found measuring from twenty to forty feet long, and weighing above one hundred tons![iv]


2.  What happened after this shocking statement, and what was the opening statement of Jesus’ response (vv. 3–5)?


3.  We can’t see as easily in Mark’s record of the disciples’ question, but it really is a two-fold question: (1) When will these things (destruction of the temple and other future events) happen, and (2) What will be the sign that they (literally, “these things”) are all about to be fulfilled? The verb fulfilled (Greek, “be accomplished”) means the final end of the age.[v] The disciples’ questions also revealed that their understanding of prophecy was still confused. They thought that the destruction of the temple coincided with the end of the age and the return of Jesus.[vi] How do Matthew 24:3 and Luke 21:7 clarify what the disciples asked?

4.  Warren Wiersbe well pointed out that we need to remember four things as we study this discourse:  Look at it in the light of the rest of Scripture; see the practical application of the discourse (we’ll discuss this more later); keep in mind the Jewish atmosphere of the things Jesus spoke of; and remember that this chapter describes a period of time known as “the Tribulation” which the Old Testament prophets wrote about, calling it “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), a time of wrath (Zephaniah  1:15–18), and a time of indignation and punishment (Isaiah 26:20, 21).[vii]   What were some of the things Jesus warned His followers not to be deceived about (vv. 6–8)?


Scripture Memory:  This week we will be memorizing Mark 13:33–35a.  Review the passage several times throughout the day each day this week, and by the end of the week, you should have it memorized completely.

“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.  It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.  Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming.” (Mark 13:33–35a, nkjv)


DAY TWO:  Coming Persecution and Abomination

Please carefully read Mark 13:9–18 and answer the following questions.


1. This section probably refers to the disciples’ times[viii], and in fact may be speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, but there are also parallels to future events.  What warnings did Jesus give the disciples about things that would happen in their own times (vv. 9–11)?

NOTE: Verse 10 is often misinterpreted as meaning that the Gospel must be preached to every nation before Christ will return, as though this is holding Him back.  The gospel must (Greek, “out of necessity”) first be preached (“proclaimed”) to all nations (emphatic word position in Greek) and all peoples worldwide, just as Jesus commanded in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20). What Jesus was saying here in context was that in proclaiming the Gospel the disciples would be persecuted, but they mustn’t despair. Regardless of opposition, sharing the Gospel is a priority in God’s plan and will be accomplished in accordance with His purposes. It is the responsibility of each generation to reach out to the world, but preaching the gospel worldwide does not require or guarantee its worldwide acceptance before or at the end of the age (Matthew 25:31–46).[ix]  In fact, during the Tribulation the Gospel will be preached to all the nations by 144,000 converted Jews (Revelation 7:4ff.), by two Old Testament-like prophets (Revelation 11:1–13) and even by an unusual means, an angel flying across the earth preaching the Gospel to all on the earth (Revelation 14:6, 7).

2.  What else did Jesus warn His men about, which sadly has happened throughout the ages (vv. 12–13)?

3.  In verses 14–18, there is both a current and future view of things to come described.  What did Jesus state about this?

NOTE: Warren Wiersbe well stated, “Jesus gave a special warning to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem and Judea: ‘Get out as fast as you can!’ This same warning applied when Rome attacked Jerusalem in a.d. 70 . . . What happened in a.d. 70 foreshadowed what will happen in the middle of the Tribulation. Dr. Harry Rimmer used to say, ‘Coming events cast their shadows before. Straight ahead lies yesterday!’ The warnings in Mark 13:14–18 do not apply to believers today, but they do remind us that God’s people in every age must know the prophetic Word and be prepared to obey God at any time.”[x]


4.  As we read earlier this week, we must understand how the Scriptures intertwine with one another (and history) leading to the events prophesied about the end of the age.  Josephus recorded the occupation and profaning of the temple in a.d. 67-68 by Jewish Zealots. Jewish Christians fled to Pella, a town in the Trans-Jordan area.  The first fulfillment of Daniel’s use of the expression “abomination of desolations” (Daniel 11:31–32) was in 167 b.c. by the Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes IV. He erected an altar to the Greek god Zeus over the altar of burnt offering, sacrificing a pig on it (apocryphal
1 Maccabees 1:41–64; 6:7; Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 12. 5. 4).The events of 167 b.c. and a.d. 70 foreshadow the final fulfillment of Jesus’ words just prior to His Second Coming. Mark used the masculine participle “standing” (hestekota) to modify the neuter noun “abomination” (bdelygma). This suggests that “the abomination” is a future person, standing where he does not belong, not just an event.[xi]  Read Daniel 9:24–27 and record some of the things that help us understand Jesus’ teachings about a future event.

Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

“Take heed, _____________________ and pray; for you do not know ________________ the time is.  It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave _______________________________ to his servants, and to each his ____________________, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.  Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming” (Mark 13:33–35a, nkjv).

DAY THREE:  The Son of Man Returns

Please carefully read Mark 13:19–27 and answer the following questions.


1.  Today’s passage clearly points to the Great Tribulation spoken of in the Old Testament and recorded dramatically in the book of Revelation.  How did Jesus stress the horror of these coming times? (vv. 19, 20)


NOTE:  The word shortened literally means “mutilated or amputated.”[xii]

2.  How will false beliefs and false messiahs still be prevalent until the end (vv. 21–23)?


3.  In what awesome way do we see the Son of Man returning at the conclusion of this period of judgment, and what will also happen regarding Israel (v. 24–27)?  How did John record this awesome event in Revelation 19:11–16?

4.  To think that God has rejected Israel in favor of the church is completely wrong.  Rather, it appears that the Tribulation is the time when God will work with Israel to help them see that the Son of Man is their Messiah, to redeem them and fulfill all of His promises to them.[xiii]  What did Paul say about the glorious future of Israel (Romans 11:25–27)?  How does Zechariah 12:9–13:1; 14:1–9 describe the return of the Son of Man for both Jew and Gentile?

Scripture Memory:
 Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

“Take heed, _____________________ and _________________; for you do not know ________________ the time is.  It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave _______________________________ to his servants, and to each his ____________________, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.  Watch therefore, for you do not know when the _______________________ of the house is coming” (Mark 13:33–35a, nkjv).


DAY FOUR:  Sure Word of Prophecy

Please carefully read Mark 13:28–31and answer the following questions.

1.  Jesus related a brief parable to re-emphasize what He was telling His disciples.  What analogy did He give (vv. 28–29)?


2.  What did Jesus also add to this (v. 30)?

3.  What awesome truth and promise did Jesus give us all at the same time (v. 31)?


NOTE: When Jesus said heaven and earth will pass way, but His Word never will, He used a double negative, strengthening the denial, meaning “no, not ever will His Word pass away,” meaning “to go by or away, perish or neglect.” [xiv]


Sidelight: Biblical Generations

Verse 30 has caused some controversy.  Was Jesus wrong?  Did His generation pass away without all these things happening?  Of course not, which He also clarified at the end of this chapter.  In a sense, many living at that time did see this fulfilled in part with the destruction of Jerusalem.  The length of generations varied but was often represented in the Old Testament as forty years (in the Dead Sea Scrolls, forty years represents the suffering of the final generation). Jesus spoke these words in the early a.d. 30s; the temple was destroyed in a.d. 70.[xv]  The verb “pass” is parerchomai, “to go past or to pass by.” In context it means that the Jewish nation will not pass away until after these things predicted by Jesus take place. “The Bible shows clearly that the Jewish nation is indestructible. All of God’s purposes in salvation are channeled through that nation. What is said here is that the Jewish nation will not pass out of this earthly sphere to heaven before these things have come to pass. That is, the Jewish nation will remain on earth as a nation through the time of the fulfillment of these events.”[xvi]  The Greek word for generation also means “race, stock, or family.” Jesus used it to refer to the Jewish nation elsewhere , which is probably what He meant here. The chosen nation, God’s elect, would be preserved to the very end; and God would fulfill His promises to them.[xvii]   A generation can refer to one’s contemporaries, all those living at a given time, or to a group of people descended from a common ancestor. It is capable of both a narrow and a broad sense, and it makes sense to understand this is a double reference incorporating both. In conclusion this generation means: (1) the Jews living at Jesus’ time who later saw the destruction of Jerusalem, and (2) the Jews who will be living at the time of the Great Tribulation who will see the end-time events.[xviii]

4.  We can see clearly that these things will surely take place because of the confidence in the language Jesus used.  God’s Word truly will remain though all else be destroyed!  What do the following passages remind us about the reliability of the Scriptures?

Psalm 19:7–9; Isaiah 40:8     

Matthew 5:18; 2 Peter 1:16–21


Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

“Take heed, _____________________ and _________________; for you do not know ________________ the ______________________ is.  It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave _______________________________ to his servants, and to each his ____________________, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.  _________________________ therefore, for you do not know when the _______________________ of the house is coming” (Mark 13:33–35a, nkjv).


DAY FIVE:  Wake from Slumber

Please carefully read Mark 13:32–37 and answer the following questions.

1.  Jesus concludes His discourse by reminding us that no one knows the hour of the Son of Man’s return, and even He didn’t at that time.  There is little question that Jesus actually said He didn’t know the hour. “One need not be embarrassed about them. Ignorance of certain things was simply a part of Jesus’ humanity, a part of his becoming a real human being.”[xix]  But there is one thing He surely told His disciples and us.  What was that (vv. 33, 34)?


2.  What attitude should we have about the fact that the last days can spring on us at any moment (vv. 35–37)?


3.  What Jesus does in this discourse is address the Jewish point of view, yet another sure word of prophecy involves the church’s experience at this time.  According to 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, what event can happen literally at any time in view of these things?


4.  The key phrase in the chapter has been Jesus’ warning to watch and be on guard. The word watch is a compound of two Greek words meaning “to hunt” and “sleep”. The picture is of one in pursuit of sleep, and therefore wakeful, restless.[xxi]  To “watch” means to be alert, to stay at one’s best, and to stay awake; in fact the English name “Gregory” comes from this Greek word translated “watch.”[xxii]  The writers of the New Testament were greatly motivated by this urgency, and also shared similar warnings and exhortations.  What are some of the ways that they did so in the following passages?


Romans 13:11–14

Ephesians 5:14–17

1 Thessalonians 5:1–11

1 Peter 1:13–15; 2 Peter 3:10–13


Scripture Memory:  Can you write out this week’s passage by memory here below? I know it’s a bit long but I believe you memorize this.  Give it a try, and keep reviewing the passage several times throughout the day.

Mark 13:33–35a:

DAY SIX: Following Christ


This has been quite an incredible chapter.  Someone once said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me; it’s the parts I do understand!”  Perhaps this study has shed some new light on these things, perhaps not, but let’s think about some ways we can take home the messages of this discourse.


1.  One thing that we may have missed in our study this week is that the Return of the Son of Man (also called by theologians the Parousia) shows us that it is an equal and major part of Jesus’ giving of Himself:  Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and also His Parousia.  The former things have already happened, and the latter has yet to come, but the coming of Christ has always been imminent, and since Jesus’ birth we’ve been in the last days![xxiii]   What are some things that you learned about Jesus and this aspect of Him giving Himself for us as we studied this week’s chapter?  How does it bring new light on 2 Timothy 2:10–13: “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.  If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.  If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (nkjv)?


2.  There has been an ongoing debate between believers actually leading more to division in the body of Christ than to unity:  the timing of the Rapture of the church.  Some deny it altogether, and even others believe these things have come and gone already (and if this is the Millennium, I want a refund!).   Here is a bit about the two main positions, Pre-Tribulational and Post-Tribulational rapture:


Some interpreters...hold to a posttribulational view of the Rapture. They identify “the elect” here as the redeemed of all ages—past, present, and future. This requires the resurrection of all the righteous dead at the end of the Tribulation and together with all living believers they will be caught up (raptured) to meet the returning Son of Man who descends to the earth at that time. Thus the church, the body of Christ, remains on earth during the Tribulation period, is supernaturally protected as an entity through it, is raptured at the end of it, and immediately returns to the earth to participate in the Millennium.[xxiv]

The strongest argument for a pre-tribulation Rapture is the fact that throughout the New Testament exhortation is given to look for and wait for the Coming of Jesus (Mt. 24:42, 43; 25:13; Mk. 13:35; 1 Thes. 5:6; Ti. 2:13; 1 Jn. 3:3; Heb. 9:28; Jn. 14:3). Jesus promised, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:3). Here Jesus’ Coming is for the purpose of receiving the Church unto Himself and taking her to a place in the Father’s house; this Coming cannot be the same as His coming with the Church to earth as the post-tribulationists contend. The blessed hope of an imminent Coming of Jesus is one of the strongest incentives to practical godliness and diligent service (Ti. 2:12–14; 1 Jn. 3:3). If the Tribulation must come first, with the manifestation of the Antichrist, before the Rapture, who will look for a Coming of Jesus until many of the events of the Apocalypse have transpired? The parable of the faithful and unfaithful servants recorded in Matthew chapter twenty-four teaches the tragic result of saying, “My lord delayeth his coming” (24:44–51).[xxv]

We have seen that Jesus’ warning to us all is to watch and be ready for Him, to be alert and prepared.  Read the following passage and record what preparation work you need to do to be ready for the Son of Man’s return:

Be dressed for service and well prepared, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks.  There will be special favor for those who are ready and waiting for his return. I tell you, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!  He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, there will be special favor for his servants who are ready!  Know this: A homeowner who knew exactly when a burglar was coming would not permit the house to be broken into.  You must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected."  Luke 12:35–40 (nlt)

3.  Did God speak to you about anything else this week as you studied the chapter?  Do you have any encouragement to share, any prayer needs to overcome problems keeping you from being as ready for His return as you’d like, or anything else you’d like to share?  Please record it here and share it with your group.


Scripture Memory:  Hopefully you now can write out this week’s passage completely by memory.  Do so now, and keep on reviewing it so you will be ready to share it with others in your group time.


Mark 13:33–35a:


[i] Walter W. Wessell, Mark.  In Frank E. Gaebelein ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. 8 (Grand Rapids:  Regency Reference Library, 1984), p. 741.

[ii] John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publishers, 2004), p. 270. 

[iii] John D. Grassmick, Mark.  In John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications, 1983), p. 166.

[iv] This information is based on Associates for Biblical Research. 1998; 2003. Bible and Spade Volume 11 . Associates for Biblical Research, p. 90; John D. Grassmick, Mark.  In John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 167; Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (Downer’s Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 1983, 1989), p. 170; and M.R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2002).

[v] John D. Grassmick, Mark, p. 167.

[vi] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1 (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications Inc., 1989), p. 154.

[vii] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, p. 154.

[viii] For a full account of his breakdown of these passages, see John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Mark, pp. 271-288.

[ix] John D. Grassmick, Mark, p 168.

[x] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, p. 151.

[xi] Grassmick, p. 169-170. 

[xii] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005), p. 1246.

[xiii] For more on this, you may want to refer to my study series on Revelation, published by Harvest Christian Fellowship for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 1994, 1995.

[xiv] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.

[xv] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (Downer’s Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 1983, 1989), p. 173.

[xvi] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Studies in the New Testament:  For the English Reader (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Co; in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1984, 1997).

[xvii] Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 157-158.

[xviii] Grassmick, p. 172.

[xix] James A. Brooks, Mark.  In David S. Dockery ed., The New American Commentary, Vol. 23 (Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1991), p. 218.

[xx] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997).

[xxi] M.R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2002).

[xxii] Wiersbe, p. 158.

[xxiii] Walter W. Wessell, Mark.  In Frank E. Gaebelein ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. 8, p. 752.

[xxiv] Grassmick, p. 172.

[xxv] Duffield, G. P., and Van Cleave, N. M. Foundations of Pentecostal theology (L.I.F.E. Bible College: Los Angeles, CA, 1983.  In Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2005).


© 2006 by Harvest Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Written by Thomas Klock for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 2005-2006.