Bede: The Lords shews how Jerusalem and the province of Judaea merited the infliction of such calamities, in the following words: “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten.”
For the greatest cause of destruction to the Jewish people was, that after slaying the Saviour, they also tormented the heralds of His name and faith with wicked cruelty.
Theophylact: Fitly also did He premise a recital of those things which concerned the Apostles, that in their own tribulations they might find some consolation in the community of troubles and sufferings. There follows: “And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them.”
He says “kings and rulers,” as, for instance, Agrippa, Nero and Herod. Again, His saying, “for My sake,” gave them no small consolation, in that they were about to suffer for His sake. “For a testimony against them,” means, as a judgment beforehand against them, that they might be inexcusable, in that though the Apostles were labouring for the truth, they would not join themselves to it. Then, that they might not think that their preaching should be impeded by troubles and dangers, He adds: “And the Gospel must first be published among all nations.”
Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 77: Matthew adds, “And then shall the end come.” [Mat_24:14]
Bede: Ecclesiastical historians testify that this was fulfilled, for they relate that all the Apostles long before the destruction of the province of Judaea were dispersed to preach the Gospel over the whole world, except James the son of Zebedee and James the brother of our Lord, who had before shed their blood in Judaea for the word of the Lord. Since then the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be saddened by the fall and destruction of their nation, He relieves them by this consolation, to let them know that even after the casting away of the Jews, companions in their joy and heavenly kingdom should not be wanting, [p. 259] nay that many more were to be collected out of all mankind than perished in Judaea.
Gloss.: Another anxiety might also arise in the breasts of the disciples. Lest therefore after hearing that they were to be brought before kings and rulers, they should fear that their want of science and eloquence should render them unable to answer, our Lord consoles them by saying, “But when they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye.”
Bede: For when we are led before judges for Christ’s sake, all our duty is to offer up our will for Christ. As for the rest, Christ Himself who dwells in us speaks for us, and the grace of the Holy Ghost shall be given us, when we answer. Wherefore it goes on: “For it is not ye that shall speak, but the Holy Ghost.”
Theophylact: He also foretells to them a worse evil, that they should suffer persecution from their relations.
Wherefore there follows: “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death; and ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.”
Bede: This has often been seen in time of persecution, nor can there be any firm affection amongst men who differ in faith.
Theophylact: And this He says, that on hearing it, they might prepare themselves to bear persecutions and ills with greater patience. Then He brings them consolation, saying, “And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake;” for the being hated for Christ’s sake is a sufficient reason for suffering persecutions patiently, for it is not the punishment, but the cause, that makes the martyr. Again, that which follows is no small comfort amidst persecution: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
17. But beware of men Erasmus has inserted the word these, (beware of these men,) supposing that the article has the force of a demonstrative pronoun. But in my opinion it is better to view it as indefinite, and as conveying a declaration of Christ, that caution ought to be exercised in dealing with men, among whom every thing is full of snares and injuries. But he appears to contradict himself: for the best way of exercising caution would have been to remain at home, and not to venture to appear in public. I reply, he points out here a different sort of caution, — not that terror and alarm which would keep them from discharging their duty, but a dread of being excessively annoyed by sudden calamities. We know that those who are surprised by unexpected afflictions are apt to fall down lifeless. Christ, therefore, desired that his disciples should foresee at a distance what would happen, that their minds might be early prepared for maintaining a conflict. In short, he sounds the trumpet to them, that they may quickly make ready for the battle: for as foresight, when it is excessive or attended by unnecessary anxiety, reduces many to a state of weakness, so many are intoxicated by an indolent security, and, rushing on heedlessly, give way at the critical moment.
For they will deliver you up to councils It may readily be inferred from these words, that the contests of which Christ forewarns the apostles must not be limited to the first journey, in which they met with nothing of this description. The object of this prediction is to prevent them from being ever cast down: for it was no ordinary attainment for poor and despised men, when they came into the presence of princes, to preserve composure, and to remain unmoved by any worldly splendor. He warns them, too, that not in Judea only, but in more distant places, they will be called to fight; and he does so, not merely for the purpose of preparing them by long meditation for that warfare, but that, as instructed and experienced masters, they might not scruple to yield themselves to heavenly guidance.
For a testimony to them and to the Gentiles This means that the will of God must be proclaimed even to foreign princes, and to distant nations, that they may be without excuse. Hence it follows, that the labor of the apostles will not be lost, for it will vindicate the judgment of God, when men shall be convicted of their obstinacy.
Councils – Συνεδρια, Sanhedrins. The grand Sanhedrin consisted of seventy-two elders; six chosen out of each tribe; this was the national council of state; and the small Sanhedrins, which were composed of twenty-three counsellors.
Synagogues – Courts of justice for villages, etc., consisting of three magistrates, chosen out of the principal directors of the synagogue in that place.
Rulers – Or governors. The Roman deputies, such as Pontius Pilate, etc.
Kings – The tetrarchs of Judea and Galilee, who bore this name. See Mar_6:27.
But take heed to yourselves (Blepete de humeis heautous). Only in Mark, but dominant note of warning all through the discourse. Note humeis here, very emphatic.
Councils (sunedria). Same word as the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. These local councils (sun, hedra, sitting together) were modelled after that in Jerusalem.
Shall ye be beaten (daresesthe). Second future passive indicative second person plural. The word dero means to flay or skin and here has been softened into beat like our tan or skin in the vernacular. Aristophanes has it in this colloquial sense as have the papyri in the Koiné. Before governors and kings (epi hegemonon kai basileon). Gentile rulers as well as before Jewish councils.
Shall stand (stathesesthe). First aorist passive indicative second person plural of histemi.
I am prone to think that our Lord gives this not only as a sign of the destruction of Jerusalem, but of the end of the world, and the latter principally; for before the destruction of Jerusalem (which was in less than forty years after Christ’s death) the gospel was not preached to all nations, otherwise than as all signifies very many. And I do think that all places shall have the gospel preached to them before the day of judgment, after another manner than either it was possible it should be preached to them within forty years after the death of Christ, or than many places have had it preached amongst them to this day. For though the Holy Scriptures, and ecclesiastical historians, give us a somewhat large account of the gospel being preached in Europe, Asia, and in Africa, yet we have little account from any of them of its being preached in America. I am not wholly ignorant of what those writers tell us, of Thomas the apostle’s preaching to the Indians, and of Trumentius and his colleague, but there are very few preachers that any stories give an account of gone to the Indians, whither I believe the gospel must go before that Christ comes to judgment.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
And the gospel must first be published among all nations — “for a witness, and then shall the end come” (Mat_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.”
Must first be preached (proton dei keruchthenai). This only in Mark. It is interesting to note that Paul in Col_1:6, Col_1:23 claims that the gospel has spread all over the world. All this was before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Mar_13:11.Neither premeditate. This sentence, as well as the one which immediately follows, we have explained under Mat_10:19 Our Lord’s design in these words is, to relieve the disciples from that anxiety which interferes with the cheerful discharge of our duty, when we doubt our inability to sustain the burden. Not that he wishes us to fall asleep in indolent security, for nothing is more advantageous than to have such a consciousness of our weakness as produces humility and excites to prayer. But Christ advises us to cast all our cares into the bosom of our Father, so that, relying on his promised aid, we may pursue our course with cheerfulness. The promise is stated in different words by Luke; not that Christ will deliver his people from death, (for this must not always be expected,) but that he will give them a mouth and wisdom, to confound their adversaries. Now though Christ supplies them both with presence of mind and with ability to speak, yet I look upon these two words as connected by that figure of speech which is called hypallage; as if Christ had promised that he would guide their tongues, so as to enable them to make a wise and suitable reply.
He adds, that this wisdom will be victorious against all their enemies, because they will not be able to contradict, or to oppose it. Not that their impudence will yield the palm to truth, but because that truth, which they in vain strive to oppose, will triumph over their mad presumption. Would that all who are called upon to make a confession of their faith would rely on that assurance; for the power and majesty of the Spirit would be displayed in a different manner for overthrowing the ministers of Satan. Now that we are partly carried away by our own feelings, and, swelled with pride, rush on heedlessly, or advance farther than is proper, and partly confine ourselves within the limits of improper timidity, sad experience shows that we are deprived of the grace of God and the assistance of the Spirit. As Christ affirms, according to Matthew and Mark, that it is the Spirit of the Father that speaketh in us, (Mat_10:10; Mar_13:11,) and here declares that he will give a mouth, we infer that it is His prerogative to fortify us by the Spirit.
Neither do ye premeditate – Do not think beforehand, or “prepare” an answer. You know not what the accusations will be, and God will furnish you with a reply that shall be adapted to the occasion.
Not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit – This is a full promise that they should be inspired, and consequently their defenses recorded in the Acts of the Apostles are the words of the Holy Spirit. There could be no more explicit promise that they should be under an infallible guidance, and we are not left to doubt that they were taught of God. At the same time, this was a most desirable and gracious aid. They were illiterate, unknown, without power. They were unfit of themselves to make the important statements of religion which were requisite, but God gave them power, and they spake with a wisdom, fearlessness, pungency, and ability which no other men have ever manifested – full proof that these illiterate fishermen were under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Mat_10:21.And the brother will deliver up the brother to death.He first gives warning what heavy calamities await them, and then adds a remarkable consideration, which sweetens all their bitterness. First, he announces that those circumstances which other men find to be the means of protection, or from which they obtain some relief, will prove to the disciples a fresh addition to their misery. Brothers, who ought to assist them when oppressed, to stretch out their hand to them amidst their distresses, and to watch over their safety, will be their mortal enemies.
It is a mistake however, to suppose that it happens to none but believers to be delivered up to death by their brethren:for it is possible that a father may pursue his son with holy zeal, if he perceives him to have apostatized from the true worship of God; nay, the Lord enjoins us in such a case (Deu_13:9 ) to forget flesh and blood, and to bestow all our care on vindicating the glory of his name. Whoever has fear and reverence for God will not spare his own relatives, but will rather choose that all of them should perish, if it be found necessary, than that the kingdom of Christ should be scattered, the doctrine of salvation extinguished, and the worship of God abolished. If our affections were properly regulated, there would be no other cause of just hatred among us.
On the other hand, as Christ not only restores the kingdom of God, and raises godliness to its full vigor, but even brings men back from ruin to salvation, nothing can be more unreasonable than that the ministers of so lovely a doctrine should be hated on his account. A thing so monstrous, and so contrary to nature, might greatly distress the minds of simple men: but Christ foretells that it will actually take place.
22. But he who endured to the end shall be saved This single promise ought sufficiently to support the minds of the godly, though the whole world should rise against them: for they are assured that the result will be prosperous and happy. If those who fight under earthly commanders, and are uncertain as to the issue of the battle, are carried forward even to death by steadiness of purpose, shall those who are certain of victory hesitate to abide by the cause of Christ to the very last?
Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake – Because ye are attached to me, and saved from the corruption that is in the world; therefore the world will hate you. “The laws of Christ condemn a vicious world, and gall it to revenge.”
He that endureth to the end shall be saved – He who holds fast faith and a good conscience to the end, till the punishment threatened against this wicked people be poured out, he shall be saved, preserved from the destruction that shall fall upon the workers of iniquity. This verse is commonly understood to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. It is also true that they who do not hold fast faith and a good conscience till death have no room to hope for an admission into the kingdom of God.
Theophylact: After that the Lord had finished all that concerned Jerusalem, He now speaks of the coming of Antichrist, saying, “Then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, to, he is there; believe him not.” But when He says, “then,” think not that it means immediately after these things are fulfilled about Jerusalem; as Matthew also says after the birth of Christ, “In those days came John the Baptist;” [Mat_3:1] does he mean immediately after the birth of Christ? No, but he speaks indefinitely and without precision. So also here, “then” may be taken to mean not when Jerusalem shall be made desolate, but about the time of the coming of Antichrist.
It goes on: “For false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” For many shall take upon them the name of Christ, so as to seduce even the faithful.
Augustine, de Civ. Dei, xx, 19: For then shall Satan be unchained, and work through Antichrist in all his power, wonderfully indeed, but falsely. But a doubt is often raised whether the Apostle said “signs and lying wonders,” because he is to deceive mortal sense, by phantoms, so as to appear to do what he does not, or because those wonders themselves, even though true, are to turn men aside to lies, because they will not believe that any power but a Divine power could do them, being ignorant of the power of Satan, especially when he shall have received such power as he never had before. But for whichever reason it is said, they shall be deceived by those signs and wonders who deserve to be deceived.
Greg., Hom in Ezech. i, 9: Why however is it said with a doubt “if it were possible,” when the Lord knows beforehand what is to be? One of two things is implied; that if they are elect, it is not possible; and if it is possible, they are not elect. This doubt therefore in our Lord’s discourse expresses the trembling in the mind of the elect. And He calls them elect, because He sees that they will persevere in faith and good works; for those who are chosen to remain firm are to be tempted to fall by the signs of the preachers of Antichrist.
Bede: Some however refer this to the time of the Jewish captivity, where many, declaring themselves to be Christs, drew after them crowds of deluded persons; but during the siege of the city there was no Christian to whom the Divine exhortation, not to follow false teachers, could apply. Wherefore it is better to understand it of heretics, who, coming to oppose the Church, pretended to be Christs; the first of whom was Simon Magus, but that last one, greater than the rest, is Antichrist. It goes on: “But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.”
Augustine, Epist., 78: For He did not only foretel to His disciples the good things which He would give to His saints and faithful ones, but also the woes in which this world was to abound, that we might look for our reward at the end of the world with more confidence, from feeling the woes in like manner announced as about to precede the end of the world.
23.If any one shall then say to you. He again repeats what he had said about impostors, and not without reason; for there was great danger arising from this temptation, that wretched men, while their affairs were in a troubled and desperate condition, would be deceived by false pretenses, would seek phantoms instead of Christ, and would embrace the delusions of Satan, as if they were assistance from God. As the Jews, when they were so severely oppressed on account of having despised redemption, needed, at least, violent remedies to restrain them from treachery, Satan cunningly held out to them new hopes, which would withdraw them still farther from God. And certainly, when we are left without direction in adversity, nothing is more pernicious than to be deceived, under the disguise of the name of God, by falsehoods which not only shut against us the door of repentance, but increase the darkness of infidelity, and at length overwhelm us with despair, and drive us to madness. The repetition of the statement, therefore, was far from being superfluous, when the danger was so great; and especially when Christ warns them that false prophets will come prepared with no ordinary instruments of deception, with signs and wonders fitted to confound weak minds. For since it is by miracles that God attests the presence of his power, and since they are therefore seals of the true doctrine, we need not wonder if impostors gain credit by them. By this kind of delusion God revenges the ingratitude of men, that they who rejected the truth may believe a lie, and that they who shut their eyes against the light which was offered to them may be plunged deeper and deeper in darkness. He exercises, at the same time, the constancy of his followers, which comes to shine with greater brightness, when they give way to no kind of impostures.
Again, since our Lord declares that antichrists and false prophets would be armed with miracles, there is no reason why the Papists should talk so haughtily on this ground, or why we should be terrified by their boasting. In support of their superstitions they plead miracles, — those very miracles which, the Son of God predicted, would corrupt the faith of many, and which, therefore, wise men ought not to hold in such estimation as to be sufficient of themselves to prove either one or another kind of doctrine. If it be objected, that such reasoning would overthrow and set aside the miracles by which both the Law and the Gospel were ratified, I reply, that the Spirit engraved on them an undoubted mark, which removed from believers all doubt and fear of being mistaken. For when God displayed his power for the purpose of confirming his people, he did not act in so confused a manner as not to manifest the true and infallible distinction. Besides, the manner in which miracles seal doctrine is such, that the doctrine itself mutually shines before them, and dispels all the clouds by which Satan darkens the minds of the simple. In short, if we wish to guard against impostures, let us preserve the connection between miracles and doctrine unbroken.
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo here is Christ – Our Lord had cautioned his disciples against false Christs and prophets before, Mat_24:11; but he seems here to intimate that there would be especial need to attend to this caution about the time of the siege. And in fact many such impostors did arise about that time, promising deliverance from God; and the lower the Jews were reduced, the more disposed they were to listen to such deceivers. Like a man drowning, they were willing to catch even at a straw, while there was any prospect of being saved. But as it was to little purpose for a man to take upon him the character of the Christ, without miracles to avouch his Divine mission, so it was the common artifice of these impostors to show signs and wonders, σημεια και τερατα; the very words used by Christ in this prophecy, and by Josephus in his history: Ant. b. xx. c. 7. Among these Simon Magus, and Dositheus, mentioned before; and Barcocab, who, St. Jerome says, pretended to vomit flames. And it is certain these and some others were so dexterous in imitating miraculous works that they deceived many; and such were their works, that if the elect, the chosen persons, the Christians, had not had the fullest evidence of the truth of Christ’s mission and miracles, they must have been deceived too: but, having had these proofs, they could not possibly be deceived by these impostors. This is simply the meaning of this place; and it is truly astonishing that it should be brought as a proof for the doctrine (whether true or false is at present out of the question) of the necessary and eternal perseverance of the saints! How abundant the Jews were in magic, divination, sorcery, incantation, etc., see proved by Dr. Lightfoot on this place.
Theophylact: But after the coming of Antichrist, the frame of the world shall be altered and changed, for the stars shall be obscured on account of the abundance of the brightness of Christ.
Wherefore it goes on: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light; and the stars of heaven shall fall.”
Bede: For the stars in the day of judgment shall appear obscure, not by any lessening of their own light, but because of the brightness of the true light, that is, of the most high Judge coming upon them; although there is nothing to prevent its being taken to mean, that the sun and moon with all the other heavenly bodies then for a time are really to lose their light, just as we are told was the case with the sun at the time of our Lord’s Passion. But after the day of judgment, when there shall be a new sky and a new earth, then shall happen what Isaiah says: “Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold.” [Isa_30:26] There follows: “And the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
Theophylact: That is, the Angelic virtues shall be astonished, seeing that such great things are done, and that their fellow-servants are judged.
Bede: What wonder is it that men should be troubled at this judgment, the sight of which makes the very Angelic powers to tremble? What will the stories of the house do when the pillars shake? What does the shrub of the wilderness undergo, when the cedar of paradise is moved?
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the sun shall be darkened, at the coldness of their hearts, as in the winter time. And the moon shall not give her light with serenity, in this time of quarrel, and the stars of heaven shall fail in their light, when the seed of Abraham shall all but disappear, for to it they are likened [Gen_22:17]. And the powers of heaven shall be stirred up to the wrath of vengeance, when they shall be sent by the Son of Man at His coming, of whose Advent it is said, “And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory,” He, that is, who first came down like rain into the fleece of Gideon in all lowliness.
Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 11: For since it was said by the Angels to the Apostles, “He shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven,” [Act_1:11] rightly do we believe that He will come not only in the same body, but on a cloud, since He is to come as He went away, and a cloud received Him as He was going.
Theophylact: But they shall see the Lord as the Son of Man, that is, in the body, for that which is seen is body.
Augustine, de Trin., i, 13: For the vision of the Son of Man is shewn even to the bad, but the vision of the form of God to the pure in heart alone, “for they shall see God.” [Mat_5:8] And because the wicked cannot see the Son of God, as He is in the form of God, equal to the Father, and at the same time both just and wicked are to see Him as Judge of the quick and dead, before Whom they shall be judged, it was necessary that the Son of Man should receive power to judge. Concerning the execution of which power, there is immediately added, “And then shall He send He angels.”
Theophylact: Observe that Christ sends the Angels as well as the Father; where then are they who say that He is not equal to the Father? For the Angels go forth to gather together the faithful, who are chosen, that they may be carried into the air to meet Jesus Christ. Wherefore it goes on: “And gather together His elect from the four winds.”
Pseudo-Jerome: As corn winnowed from the threshing-floor of the whole earth.
Bede: By “the four winds,” He means the four parts of the world, the east, the west, the north, and the south. And lest any one should think that the elect are to be gathered together only from the four edges of the world, and not from the midland regions as well as the borders, He has fitly added, “From the uttermost part of earth, to the uttermost part of heaven,” that is, from the extremities of the earth to its utmost bounds, where the circle of the heavens appears to those who look from [p. 267] afar to rest upon the boundaries of the earth. No one therefore shall be elect in that day who remains behind and does not meet the Lord in the air, when He comes to judgment. The reprobate also shall come to judgment, that when it is finished they may be scattered abroad and perish from before the face of God.
Ver. 24-27. The usage of these phrases, of the darkening the sun and the moon, and the falling of the stars, to signify the ruin of nations, and changes wrought in them; as in Isa_13:10, as to the destruction of Babylon, and Eze_32:7, to express the change the providence of God made by the destruction of Egypt, as also to signify the change made in the world by setting up the gospel, to which purpose they are used by Joel, Joe_2:31; hath given interpreters a latitude to interpret these verses,
1. With relation to the destruction of the Jews, which made a great change as to the Jewish church and state.
2. And with reference to the change made by setting up the gospel church.
But Mar_13:26,27 incline me rather to interpret them of the end of the world. For though those other expressions are used to express great changes and mutations, yet it is not said of any of them,
Then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, & c. Which phrases do so agree with those other texts, where Christ’s second coming to judgment is expressed certainly, that I cannot but think our Saviour speaks here with reference to that. See Mat_13:41 1Co_15:52 1Th_4:16 Rev_1:7.
The sun shall be darkened (ho helios skotisthesetai). Future passive indicative. These figures come from the prophets (Isa_13:9.; Eze_32:7.; Joe_2:1., Joe_2:10.; Amo_8:9; Zep_1:14-16; Zec_12:12). One should not forget that prophetic imagery was not always meant to be taken literally, especially apocalyptic symbols. Peter in Act_2:15-21 applies the prophecy of Joel about the sun and moon to the events on the day of Pentecost. See Mat_24:29-31 for details of Mar_13:24-27.
And immediately after the tribulation of those days. Christ comes now to speak of the full manifestation of his kingdom, about which he was at first interrogated by the disciples, and promises that, after they have been tried by so many distressing events, the redemption will arrive in due time. The principal object of his reply was, to confirm his disciples in good hope, that they might not be dismayed on account of the troubles and confusion that would arise. For this reason, he does not speak of his coming in simple terms, but employs those modes of expression which were common among the prophets, by which, the more attentively they were considered, so much the more severe would be the contest of temptation experienced by the reader, in consequence of the opposite character of the event. For what could be more strange than to see the kingdom of Christ not only despised, but oppressed by the cross, loaded with many reproaches, and overwhelmed by every kind of tribulation, that kingdom which the prophets had frequently described in such magnificent language? Might it not be asked, where was that majesty which would darken the sun, and moon, and stars, shake the whole frame of the world, and change the ordinary course of nature? Our Lord now meets these temptations, declaring that, though these predictions are not immediately fulfilled, they will at length be fully justified by the event. The meaning therefore is, that the predictions which had been formerly made about the miraculous shaking of heaven and earth, ought not to be restricted to the commencement of redemption, because the prophets had embraced the whole course of it, till it should arrive at perfection.
Having now ascertained Christ’s intention, we shall have no difficulty in perceiving the meaning of the words to be, that heaven will not be darkened immediately, but after that the Church shall have passed through the whole course of its tribulations. Not that the glory and majesty of the kingdom of Christ will not appear till his last coming, but because till that time is delayed the accomplishment of those things which began to take place after his resurrection, and of which God gave to his people nothing more than a taste, that he might lead them farther on in the path of hope and patience. According to this argument, Christ keeps the minds of believers in a state of suspense till the last day, that they may not imagine those declarations which the prophets made, about the future restoration, to have failed of their accomplishment, because they lie buried for a long period under the thick darkness of tribulations.
The tribulation of those days is improperly interpreted by some commentators to mean the destruction of Jerusalem; for, on the contrary, it is a general recapitulation (ἀνακεφαλαίωσις) of all the evils of which Christ had previously spoken. To encourage his followers to patience, he employs this argument, that the tribulations will at length have a happy and joyful result. As if he had said, “So long as the Church shall continue its pilgrimage in the world, there will be dark and cloudy weather; but as soon as an end shall have been put to those distresses, a day will arrive when the majesty of the Church shall be illustriously displayed.” In what manner the sun will be darkened we cannot now conjecture, but the event will show. He does not indeed mean that the stars will actually fall, but according to the apprehension of men; and accordingly Luke only predicts that there will be signsin the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars. The meaning therefore is, that there will be such a violent commotion of the firmament of heaven, that the stars themselves will be supposed to fall. Luke also adds that there will be a dreadful commotion of the sea, the sea and the waves roaring, so that men will faint through fear and alarm. In a word, all the creatures above and below will be, as it were, heralds to summon men to that tribunal, which they will continue to treat with ungodly and wanton contempt till the last day.
Immediately after the tribulation, etc. – Commentators generally understand this, and what follows, of the end of the world and Christ’s coming to judgment: but the word immediately shows that our Lord is not speaking of any distant event, but of something immediately consequent on calamities already predicted: and that must be the destruction of Jerusalem. “The Jewish heaven shall perish, and the sun and moon of its glory and happiness shall be darkened – brought to nothing. The sun is the religion of the Church; the moon is the government of the state; and the stars are the judges and doctors of both. Compare Isa_13:10; Eze_32:7, Eze_32:8, etc.” Lightfoot.
In the prophetic language, great commotions upon earth are often represented under the notion of commotions and changes in the heavens: –
The fall of Babylon is represented by the stars and constellations of heaven withdrawing their light, and the sun and moon being darkened. See Isa_13:9, Isa_13:10.
The destruction of Egypt, by the heaven being covered, the sun enveloped with a cloud, and the moon withholding her light. Eze_32:7, Eze_32:8.
The destruction of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes is represented by casting down some of the host of heaven, and the stars to the ground. See Dan_8:10.
And this very destruction of Jerusalem is represented by the Prophet Joel, Joe_2:30, Joe_2:31, by showing wonders in heaven and in earth – darkening the sun, and turning the moon into blood. This general mode of describing these judgments leaves no room to doubt the propriety of its application in the present case.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days – That is, immediately after these tribulations, events will occur that “may be properly represented” by the darkening of the sun and moon, and by the stars falling from heaven. The word rendered “immediately” – ευθέως eutheos – means, properly, “straightway, immediately,” Mat_8:3; Mat_13:5; Mar_1:31; Act_12:10; then “shortly,” 3Jo_1:14. This is the meaning here. Such events would “shortly” or “soon” occur In the fulfillment of the predictions they would be “the next in order,” and would occur “before long.” The term here requires us to admit that, in order to the fulfillment of the prophecy, it can be shown, or it actually happened, that things “did” soon occur “after the tribulation of those days” which would be “properly represented or described” by the images which the Saviour employs. It is not necessary to show that there could not have been “a more remote” reference to events lying far in the future, in which there would be a more complete fulfillment or “filling up” of the meaning of the words (compare the notes at Mat_1:22-23); but it is necessary that there should have been events which would be “properly expressed” by the language which the Saviour uses, or which would have been in some proper sense “fulfilled,” even if there had not been reference to more remote events. It will be seen in the exposition that this was actually the case, and that therefore there was a propriety in saying that these events would occur “immediately” – that is, “soon, or the next in order.” Compare the notes at Rev_1:1.
Shall the sun be darkened … – The images used here are not to be taken literally. They are often employed by the sacred writers to denote “any great calamities.” As the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars, would be an inexpressible calamity, so any great catastrophe – any overturning of kingdoms or cities, or dethroning of kings and princes is represented by the darkening of the sun and moon, and by some terrible convulsion in the elements. Thus the destruction of Babylon is foretold in similar terms Isa_13:10, and of Tyre Isa_24:23. The slaughter in Bozrah and Idumea is predicted in the same language, Isa_34:4. See also Isa_50:3; Isa_60:19-20; Eze_32:7; Joe_3:15. To the description in Matthew, Luke has added Luk_21:25-26, “And upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; people’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” All these are figures of great and terrible calamities. The roaring of the waves of the sea denotes great tumult and affliction among the people. “Perplexity” means doubt, anxiety; not knowing what to do to escape. “Men’s hearts should fail them for fear,” or by reason of fear. Their fears would be so great as to take away their courage and strength.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory — In Mat_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,” etc. 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 Dan_7:13, Dan_7:14, 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 Luk_9:28 (with its parallels in Mat_17:1; Mar_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.
And he shall send his angels. He describes the effect of his power, that he will send his angels to gather his elect from the most distant parts of the world; for by the extremity of heavenis meant the most distant region. But Christ speaks hyperbolically, in order to show that the elect, even though they were carried away from the earth and scattered in the air, will again be gathered, so to be united in the enjoyment of eternal life under Him as their head, and enjoy the expected inheritance; for Christ intended to console his disciples, that they might not be altogether discouraged by the lamentable dispersion of the Church. Whenever, therefore, we perceive the Church scattered by the wiles of Satan, or torn in pieces by the cruelty of the ungodly, or disturbed by false doctrines, or tossed about by storms, let us learn to turn our eyes to this gathering of the elect. And if it appear to us a thing difficult to be believed, let us call to remembrance the power of the angels, which Christ holds out to us for the express purpose of raising our views above human means. For, though the Church be now tormented by the malice of men, or even broken by the violence of the billows, and miserably torn in pieces, so as to have no stability in the world, yet we ought always to cherish confident hope, because it will not be by human means, but by heavenly power, which will be far superior to every obstacle, that the Lord will gather his Church.
He shall send his angels – Τους αγγελους, his messengers, the apostles, and their successors in the Christian ministry.
With a great sound of a trumpet – Or, a loud-sounding trumpet – the earnest affectionate call of the Gospel of peace, life, and salvation.
Shall gather together his elect – The Gentiles, who were now chosen or elected, in place of the rebellious, obstinate Jews, according to Our Lord’s prediction, Mat_8:11,Mat_8:12, and Luk_13:28,Luk_13:29. For the children of the kingdom, (the Jews who were born with a legal right to it, but had now finally forfeited that right by their iniquities) should be thrust out. It is worth serious observation, that the Christian religion spread and prevailed mightily after this period: and nothing contributed more to the success of the Gospel than the destruction of Jerusalem happening in the very time and manner, and with the very circumstances, so particularly foretold by our Lord. It was after this period that the kingdom of Christ began, and his reign was established in almost every part of the world.
To St. Matthew’s account, St. Luke adds, Luk_21:24, They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shalt be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The number of those who fell by the sword was very great. Eleven Hundred Thousand perished during the siege. Many were slain at other places, and at other times. By the commandment of Florus, the first author of the war, there were slain at Jerusalem 3,600, Josephus. War, b. ii. c. 14. By the inhabitants of Caesarea, above 20,000. At Scythopolis, above 13,000. At Ascalon, 2,500. At Ptolemais, 2,000. At Alexandria, 50,000. At Joppa, when taken by Cestius Gallus, 8,400. In a mountain called Asamon, near Sepporis, above 2,000. At Damascus, 10,000. In a battle with the Romans at Ascalon, 10,000. In an ambuscade near the same place, 8,000. At Japha, 15,000. Of the Samaritans, on Mount Gerizim, 11,600. At Jotapa, 40,000. At Joppa, when taken by Vespasian, 4,200. At Tarichea, 6,500. And after the city was taken, 1,200. At Gamala, 4,000, besides 5,000 who threw themselves down a precipice. Of those who fled with John, of Gischala, 6,000. Of the Gadarenes, 15,000 slain, besides countless multitudes drowned. In the village of Idumea, above 10,000 slain. At Gerasa, 1,000. At Machaerus, 1,700. In the wood of Jardes, 3,000. In the castle of Masada, 960. In Cyrene, by Catullus the governor, 3,000. Besides these, many of every age, sex, and condition, were slain in the war, who are not reckoned; but, of those who are reckoned, the number amounts to upwards of 1,357,660, which would have appeared incredible, if their own historian had not so particularly enumerated them. See Josephus, War, book ii. c. 18, 20; book iii. c. 2, 7, 8, 9; book iv. c. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9; book vii. c. 6, 9, 11; and Bp. Newton, vol. ii. p. 288-290.
Many also were led away captives into all nations. There were taken at Japha, 2,130. At Jotapa, 1,200. At Tarichea, 6,000 chosen young men, who were sent to Nero; others sold to the number of 30,400, besides those who were given to Agrippa. Of the Gadarenes were taken 2,200. In Idumea above 1,000. Many besides these were taken in Jerusalem; so that, as Josephus says, the number of the captives taken in the whole war amounted to 97,000. Those above seventeen years of age were sent to the works in Egypt; but most were distributed through the Roman provinces, to be destroyed in their theatres by the sword, and by the wild beasts; and those under seventeen years of age were sold for slaves. Eleven thousand in one place perished for want. At Caesarea, Titus, like a thorough-paced infernal savage, murdered 2,500 Jews, in honor of his brother’s birthday; and a greater number at Berytus in honor of his father’s. See Josephus, War, b. vii. c. 3. s. 1. Some he caused to kill each other; some were thrown to the wild beasts; and others burnt alive. And all this was done by a man who was styled, The darling of mankind! Thus were the Jews miserably tormented, and distributed over the Roman provinces; and continue to be distressed and dispersed over all the nations of the world to the present day. Jerusalem also was, according to the prediction of our Lord, to be trodden down by the Gentiles. Accordingly it has never since been in the possession of the Jews. It was first in subjection to the Romans, afterwards to the Saracens, then to the Franks, after to the Mamalukes, and now to the Turks. Thus has the prophecy of Christ been most literally and terribly fulfilled, on a people who are still preserved as continued monuments of the truth of our Lord’s prediction, and of the truth of the Christian religion. See more in Bp. Newton’s Dissert. vol. ii. p. 291, etc.
Theophylact: The Lord wishing to prevent His disciples from asking about that day and hour, says, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
For if He had said, I know, but I will not reveal it to you, He would have saddened them not a little; but He acted more wisely, and prevents their asking such a question, lest they should importune Him, by saying, neither the Angels, nor I.
Hilary, de Trin., ix: This ignorance of the day and hour is urged against the Only-Begotten God, as if, God born of God had not the same perfection of nature as God. But first, let common sense decide whether it is credible that He, who is the cause that all things are, and are to be, should be ignorant of any out of all these things. For how can it be beyond the knowledge of that nature, by which and in which that which is to be done is contained? And can He be ignorant of that day, which is the day of His own Advent? Human substances foreknow as far as they can what they intend to do, and the knowledge of what is to be done, follows upon the will to act. How then can the Lord of glory, from ignorance of the day of His coming, be believed to be of that imperfect nature, which has on it a necessity of coming, and has not attained to the knowledge of its own advent?
But again, how much more room for blasphemy will there be, if a feeling of envy is ascribed to God the Father, in that He has withheld the knowledge of His beatitude from Him to whom He gave a foreknowledge of His death. But if there are in Him all the treasures of knowledge, He is not ignorant of this day; rather we ought to remember that the treasures of wisdom in Him are hidden; His ignorance therefore must be connected with the hiding of the treasures of wisdom, which are in Him.
For in all cases, in which God declares Himself ignorant, He is not under the power of ignorance, but either it is not a fit time for speaking, or it is an economy of not acting.
But if God is said then to have known that Abraham loved Him, when He did not hide that His knowledge from Abraham, it follows, that the Father is said to know the day, because He did not hide it from the Son. If therefore the Son knew not the day, it is a Sacrament of His being silent, as on the contrary the Father alone is said to know, because He is not silent. But God forbid that any new and bodily changes should be ascribed to the Father or the Son.
Lastly, lest He should be said to be ignorant from weakness, He has immediately added, “Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is.”
Pseudo-Jerome: For we must needs watch with our souls before the death of the body.
Theophylact: But He teach us two things, watching and prayer; for many of us watch, but watch only to pass the night in wickedness; He now follows this up with a parable, saying, “For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave his servants power over every work, and commanded the porter to watch.”
Bede: The man who taking a far journey left his house is Christ, who ascending as a conqueror to His Father after the Resurrection, left His Church, as to His bodily presence, but has never deprived her of the safeguard of His Divine presence.
Greg, Hom in Evan, 9: For the earth is properly the place for the flesh, which was as it were carried away to a far country, when it was placed by our Redeemer in the heavens. “And he gave his servants power over every work,” when, by giving to His faithful ones the grace of the Holy Ghost, He gave them the power of serving every good work.
He has also ordered the porter to watch, because He commanded the order of pastors to have a care over the Church committed to them. Not only, however, those of us who rule over Churches, but all are required to watch the doors of their hearts, lest the evil suggestions of the devil enter into them, and lest our Lord find us sleeping.
Wherefore concluding this parable He adds, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.”
Pseudo-Jerome: For he who sleeps applies not his mind to real bodies, but to phantoms, and when he awakes, he possesses not what he had seen; so also are those, whom the love of this world seizes upon in this life; they quit after this life what they dreamed was real.
Theophylact: See again that He has not said, I know not when the time will be, but, “Ye know not.” For the reason why He concealed it was that it was better for us; for if, now that we know not the end, we are careless, what should we do if we knew it? We should keep on our wickedness even unto the end. Let us therefore attend to His words; for the end comes at even, when a man dies in old age; a midnight, when he dies in the midst of his youth; and at cockcrow, when our reason is perfect within us; for when a child begins to live according to his reason, then the cock cries loud within him, rousing him from the sleep of sense; but the age of childhood is the morning. Now all these ages must look out for the end; for even a child must be watched, lest he die unbaptized.
Pseudo-Jerome: He thus concludes His discourse, that the last should hear from those who come first this precept which is common to all; wherefore He adds, “But what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
Augustine, Epist., 199, 3: For He not only speaks to those in whose hearing He then spake, but even to all who came after them, before our time, and even to us, and to all after us, even to His last coming. but shall that day find all living, or will any man say that He speaks also to the dead, when He says, “Watch, lest when he cometh he find you sleeping?”
Why then does He say to all, what only belongs to those who shall then be alive, if it be not that it belongs to all, as I have said? For that day comes to each man when his day comes for departing from this life such as he is to be, when judged in that day, and for this reason every Christian ought to watch, lest the Advent of the Lord find him unprepared; but that day shall find him unprepared, whom the last day of his life shall find unprepared.
36.But of that day and hour. By this sentence, Christ intended to hold the minds of believers in suspense that they might not, by a false imagination, fix any time for the final redemption. We know how fickle our minds are, and how much we are tickled by a vain curiosity to know more than is proper. Christ likewise perceived that the disciples were pushing forward with excessive haste to enjoy a triumph. He therefore wishes the day of his coming to be the object of such expectation and desire, that none shall dare to inquire when it will happen. In short, he wishes his disciples so to walk in the light of faith, that while they are uncertain as to the time, they may patiently wait for the revelation of him. We ought therefore to be on our guard, lest our anxiety about the time be carried farther than the Lord allows; for the chief part of our wisdom lies in confining ourselves soberly within the limits of God’s word. That men may not feel uneasy at not knowing that day, Christ represents angels as their associates in this matter; for it would be a proof of excessive pride and wicked covetousness, to desire that we who creep on the earth should know more than is permitted to the angels in heaven.
Mark adds, nor the Son himself. And surely that man must be singularly mad, who would hesitate to submit to the ignorance which even the Son of God himself did not hesitate to endure on our account. But many persons, thinking that this was unworthy of Christ, have endeavored to mitigate the harshness of this opinion by a contrivance of their own; and perhaps they were driven to employ a subterfuge by the malice of the Arians, who attempted to prove from it that Christ is not the true and only God. So then, according to those men, Christ did not know the last day, because he did not choose to reveal it to men. But since it is manifest that the same kind of ignorance is ascribed to Christ as is ascribed to the angels, we must endeavor to find some other meaning which is more suitable. Before stating it, however, I shall briefly dispose of the objections of those who think that it is an insult offered to the Son of God, if it be said that any kind of ignorance can properly apply to him.
As to the first objection, that nothing is unknown to God, the answer is easy. For we know that in Christ the two natures were united into one person in such a manner that each retained its own properties; and more especially the Divine nature was in a state of repose, and did not at all exert itself, whenever it was necessary that the human nature should act separately, according to what was peculiar to itself, in discharging the office of Mediator. There would be no impropriety, therefor in saying that Christ, who knew all things,(Joh_21:17 ) was ignorant of something in respect of his perception as a man; for otherwise he could not have been liable to grief and anxiety, and could not have been like us, (Heb_2:17.) Again, the objection urged by some—that ignorance cannot apply to Christ, because it is the punishment of sin — is beyond measure ridiculous. For, first, it is prodigious folly to assert that the ignorance which is ascribed to angels proceeds from sin; but they discover themselves to be equally foolish on another ground, by not perceiving that Christ clothed himself with our flesh, for the purpose of enduring the punishment due to our sins. And if Christ, as man, did not know the last day, that does not any more derogate from his Divine nature than to have been mortal.
I have no doubt that he refers to the office appointed to him by the Father as in a former instance, when he said that it did not belong to himto place this or that person at his right or left hand, (Mat_20:23; Mar_5:40.) For (as I explained under that passage) he did not absolutely say that this was not in his power, but the meaning was, that he had not been sent by the Father with this commission, so long as he lived among mortals. So now I understand that, so far as he had come down to us to be Mediator, until he had fully discharged his office that information was not given to him which he received after his resurrection; for then he expressly declared that power over all things had been given to him, (Mat_28:18.)
Neither the Son – This clause is not found either in Matthew or Luke; and Ambrose says it was wanting in some Greek copies in his time. To me it is utterly unaccountable, how Jesus, who knew so correctly all the particulars which he here lays down, and which were to a jot and tittle verified by the event – how he who knew that not one stone should be left on another, should be ignorant of the day and hour when this should be done, though Daniel, Dan_9:24, etc., could fix the very year, not less than five hundred years before it happened: how he in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, should not know this small matter, I cannot comprehend, but on this ground, that the Deity which dwelt in the man Christ Jesus might, at one time, communicate less of the knowledge of futurity to him than at another. However, I strongly suspect that the clause was not originally in this Gospel. Its not being found in the parallel places in the other evangelists is, in my opinion, a strong presumption against it. But Dr. Macknight, and others, solve this difficulty in the following manner. They suppose the verb οιδεν to have the force of the Hebrew conjugation Hiphel, in which verbs are taken in a causative, declarative, or permissive sense; and that it means here, make known, or promulge, as it is to be understood in 1Co_2:2. This intimates that this secret was not to be made known, either by men or angels, no, not even by the Son of man himself; but it should be made known by the Father only, in the execution of the purposes of his justice. I am afraid this only cuts the knot, but does not untie it.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Mar_13:32-37. Warnings to prepare for the coming of Christ suggested by the foregoing prophecy.
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.
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, Deuteronomy Wette, Meyer, Fritzsche, Stier, Alford, and Alexander.
Neither the Son – This text has always presented serious difficulties. It has been asked, If Jesus had a divine nature, how could he say that he knew not the day and hour of a future event? In reply, it has been said that the passage was missing, according to Ambrose, in some Greek manuscripts; but it is now found in all, and there can be little doubt that the passage is genuine. Others have said that the verb rendered “knoweth” means sometimes to “make” known or to reveal, and that the passage means, “that day and hour none makes known, neither the angels, nor the Son, but the Father.” It is true that the word has sometimes that meaning, as in 1Co_2:2, but then it is natural to ask where has “the Father” made it known? In what place did he reveal it? After all, the passage has no more difficulty than that in Luk_2:52, where it is said that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature. He had a human nature. He grew as a man in knowledge. As a man his knowledge must be finite, for the faculties of the human soul are not infinite. As a man he often spoke, reasoned, inquired, felt, feared, read, learned, ate, drank, and walked. Why are not all these, which imply that he was a “man” – that, “as a man,” he was not infinite – why are not these as difficult as the want of knowledge respecting the particular “time” of a future event, especially when that time must be made known by God, and when he chose that the man Christ Jesus should grow, and think, and speak “as a man?”
Left his house – Οικιαν, family. Our blessed Lord and Master, when he ascended to heaven, commanded his servants to be faithful and watchful. This fidelity to which he exhorts his servants consists in doing every thing well which is to be done, in the heart or in the family, according to the full extent of the duty. The watchfulness consists in suffering no stranger nor enemy to enter in by the senses, which are the gates of the soul; in permitting nothing which belongs to the Master to go out without his consent; and in carefully observing all commerce and correspondence which the heart may have abroad in the world, to the prejudice of the Master’s service. See Quesnel.
Who left his house – The word “house” often means family. Our Saviour here represents himself as going away, leaving his household the church, assigning to the apostles and all his servants their duty, and leaving it uncertain when he would return. Since his return was a matter of vast consequence, and as the affairs of his kingdom were entrusted to them, just as the affairs of a house are to servants when the master is absent, so it was of vast importance that they should be faithful at their post, that they should defend the house from danger, and be ready for his return.
The porter – The doorkeeper. To the janitor or doorkeeper was entrusted particularly the care of the house, whose duty it was to attend faithfully on those who came and those who left the house.
Commanded also the porter to watch (kai toi thuroroi eneteilato hina gregorei) . The porter or door-keeper (thuroros), as well as all the rest, to keep a watch (present subjunctive, gregorei). This Parable of the Porter is only in Mark. Our ignorance of the time of the Master’s return is an argument not for indifference nor for fanaticism, but for alertness and eager readiness for his coming.
Watch ye – Be diligent, faithful, and waiting for the return of your Lord, who will come at an unexpected hour.
Master of the house – Denoting here the Lord Jesus.
At even, or at midnight, or … – This refers to the four divisions into which the Jews divided the night.
He find you sleeping – A porter asleep exposes the house to be robbed, and well deserves punishment. No wonder that the man is constantly suffering loss who is frequently off his guard.
Our Lord shows us in this parable:
1. That himself, ascended to heaven, is the man gone from home.
2. That believers collectively are his family.
3. That his servants are those who are employed in the work of faith and labor of love.
4. That the porter represents the ministers of his Gospel, who should continually watch for the safety and welfare of the whole flock.
5. That every one has his own work – that which belongs to himself and to none other, and for the accomplishment of which he receives sufficient strength from his Lord.
6. That these servants and porters shall give an account to their Lord, how they have exercised themselves in their respective departments.
7. And that as the master of the family will certainly come to require this account at a time when men are not aware, therefore they should be always watchful and faithful. And,
8. That this is a duty incumbent on every soul of man, What I say unto you, I say unto All, Watch! If, after all these warnings, the followers of God be found careless, their misery and condemnation must be great.
Find you sleeping – Inattentive to your post, neglecting your duty, and unprepared for his coming.
I say unto all, Watch – This command was proper, not only for those who were expecting the calamities that were soon to come upon the Jews, but for all who are soon to die and to go to the judgment. We know not the time of our death. We know not how soon we shall be called to the judgment. The Son of man may come at any moment, and we should therefore be ready. If we are his friends; if we have been renewed and pardoned; if we have repented of our sins, and have believed on him. and are leading a holy life, we “are” ready. If not, we are unprepared, and soon – probably while we are not expecting it – the cold hand of death will be laid on us, and we shall be hurried to the place where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Oh how important it is to be ready, and to escape the awful sufferings of an eternal hell!