Matthew Poole's Commentary
And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!Mark 13:1,2 Christ foretells the destruction of the temple,
Mark 13:3-23 shows what signs and calamities should go before,
Mark 13:24-31 and what should happen at the time of his coming,
Mark 13:32-37 no man knoweth the day or hour; we must therefore
watch and pray, that we may not be found unprepared.
Ver. 1,2. The perishing nature of the splendid and gay things of this world, are fitter objects for the meditation of such as are Christ’s disciples, than the splendour and magnificence of them, especially when they are the privileges of a sinful people. Sin will undermine and blow up the most famous structures. It is a good thing for Christians not to set their hearts upon them. See Poole on "Matthew 24:1". See Poole on "Matthew 24:2".
And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.See Poole on "Mark 13:1"
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,Ver. 3,4. Matthew puts two things more into the question, What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? The best of men have a great curiosity to know futurities, things that shall hereafter come to pass. All the other part of this chapter is spent by our Saviour in an answer to these three questions, according to St. Matthew, or this one question, according to Mark and Luke. Some have attempted curiously to distinguish betwixt the signs intended by our Saviour, as relating to each period. But certainly those interpreters do judge best, that think our Saviour intended to let them know, that the destruction of Jerusalem should be a type of the destruction of the world at the last day, and that the same things should go before the one, and be signs of it, that should go before the other. And whoso readeth the history of Josephus, of what happened before the destruction of Jerusalem, and after this time, will find that there were few or none of these signs, that are here mentioned, but came to pass before the dreadful destruction of that so famous place; yet we must doubtless look for many, if not all, the same things to come to pass before the general destruction of the world in the last day.
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?See Poole on "Mr 13.3"
And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:Ver. 5,6. See Poole on "Matthew 24:4". See Poole on "Matthew 24:5". This is the first sign, fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in part, and which had been fulfilling ever since; and probably before the day of judgment the number of such impostors will increase.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.See Poole on "Mark 13:6"
And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.Ver. 7,8. Matthew adds pestilences. Luke saith, pestilences, and fearful sights and great signs from heaven. See Poole on "Matthew 24:6", and following verses to Matthew 24:8. Here are two or three more signs put together:
1. Wars, and rumours of wars; great commotions in nations, which though they may be at other times, yet probably may be more extraordinary before the day of judgment.
2. Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.
3. Fearful sights, and apparitions in the air and the heavens. Such there were (as Josephus tells us) before the destruction of Jerusalem; and though these things be seen before the last day, yet it is most probable they will be greater before the day of judgment than at any time before; and for fearful sights, and great signs from heaven, they ordinarily go before some great judgment of God upon places, and therefore the observation of them by the heathen (as we learn by Livy and others) seems but to be a piece of natural religion; and Christ giving these things as signs of the approaching ruin, first of Jerusalem, then of the world, will make thinking Christians behold them with a religious fear, though not to undertake to expound them particularly or prophesy upon them.
Certainly we ought to look upon them as prognosticating some great work of God, and usually of judgment upon sinners.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.See Poole on "Mark 13:7"
But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.This, so far as concerneth those to whom Christ spake, can only be a sign of the destruction of Jerusalem; but so far as it concerneth others, it is also a sign of the end of the world. It is the fifth sign he gives them; the persecution of the ministers of Christ and the saints of God, for the preaching and profession of the gospel. See Poole on "Matthew 24:9".
And the gospel must first be published among all nations.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.
But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.See Poole on "Matthew 10:19". See Poole on "Matthew 10:20". By
take no thought, he means, take no anxious thoughts to disquiet yourselves.
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.Ver. 12,13. This is but an amplification of the fifth sign, given us Mark 13:9, viz. a furious persecution, eminently made good in the Jewish persecution before the destruction of Jerusalem; in the pagan persecution, for three hundred years after Christ; and in the popish persecutions at this day.
See Poole on "Matthew 24:9". See Poole on "Matthew 24:10".
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.See Poole on "Mark 13:12"
But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:Ver. 14-20. See Poole on "Matthew 24:15", and following verses to Matthew 24:22, where we have before opened all these passages. This sign doth manifestly relate to the destruction of Jerusalem, and can have no relation to the end of the world. In our notes on Matthew 24:13-51, we have showed what is meant by the abomination of desolation, and to what place in Daniel it refers. Luke expounds it, Luke 21:20, When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, the Roman armies, abominable for the idols that in them were worshipped. The sign was this, When you shall see the lion, and armies besieging Jerusalem, be assured God will soon deliver it into their hands, whatever vain hopes men may suggest of their holding out or driving them away. Let every one of you with all imaginable expedition shift for yourselves. God will surely deliver up the city, when that time comes. And before the taking of the city, he tells them, there shall be such affliction (by reason of their intestine factions and divisions) as never any people experienced. As to these things, see the notes on Matthew 24:15-22.
And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:See Poole on "Mark 13:14"
And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.See Poole on "Mark 13:15"
But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!See Poole on "Mark 13:15"
And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.See Poole on "Mark 13:15"
For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.See Poole on "Mark 13:15"
And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.See Poole on "Mark 13:15"
And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:Ver. 21-23. See Poole on "Matthew 24:23", and following verses to Matthew 24:25. The history of Josephus, and those Roman historians who wrote the history of those times that went immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem, and give us account of the taking of that city, are the best commentary on these verses. It hath been often said, that the Jews were in expectation of a Messias, and are so still. But by him they understood not a person who should be God man, and save his people from their sins, and set up a spiritual kingdom in the world, but a secular prince, who should come of the house of David, and restore them to their civil liberties. So that the name of Christ was a fair name to patronize any rebellious faction, where the leader would arrogate it to herself, especially if he could pretend to the house of David. Near the destruction of Jerusalem, several persons used these arts to draw people after them to defend themselves, and to stand up for their liberties. Our Saviour having discerned his disciples tinctured with this common error of the nation, and knowing what would come to pass, gives his disciples warning to avoid these delusions, and not to run after such pretenders, to their ruin and destruction.
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.See Poole on "Mark 13:21"
But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.See Poole on "Mark 13:22"
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,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 Isaiah 13:10, as to the destruction of Babylon, and Ezekiel 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, Joel 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 Mark 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 Matthew 13:41 1 Corinthians 15:52 1 Thessalonians 4:16 Revelation 1:7.
And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.See Poole on "Mark 13:24"
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.See Poole on "Mark 13:24"
And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.See Poole on "Mark 13:25"
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:Ver. 28-31. See Poole on "Matthew 24:32", and following verses to Matthew 24:35, where we met with the same things almost word for word; so as more words need not be repeated here in the explication of these verses.
So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.See Poole on "Mark 13:28"
Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.See Poole on "Mark 13:28"
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.See Poole on "Mark 13:28"
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.Ver. 32,33. See Poole on "Matthew 24:36". See Poole on "Matthew 24:42". Ideo latet ultimus dies ut observentur omnes dies, God hath concealed from us the knowledge of the last day that we might watch all our days. See the notes on Matthew, in what sense Christ saith he did not know the last day and hour. Watching is opposed to sleeping. There is a natural sleep, and a spiritual sleep, of which the apostle speaks, Romans 13:11 Ephesians 5:14. The latter is here principally intended, to which the watching here commanded is opposed, and signifies an industrious, diligent care to keep ourselves from sin, upon a prospect of the last judgment, and the consideration of the uncertainty of the particular year or day when it shall be; together with such a bodily watching, as may be subservient unto that end, and fit us for prayer. But the watching principally intended, is a striving against sin, which is the spiritual sleep; and thus it is expounded by Luke 21:36, compared with Mark 13:34,35.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.See Poole on "Mark 13:32
For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.Ver. 34-37. In the Greek, those words, For the Son of man is, are not, but those, or some such like, are necessarily to be understood to make up the sense. The watching here again twice called for is the same with that before mentioned. The sense of these verses is the same as before; the uncertainty of the time when Christ cometh to judgment should oblige all men to be diligent and industrious to keep themselves from sinning, that they may be ready at what time soever he cometh. He mentions only the four parts of the night, having spoken of sin under the notion of sleeping, and holiness under the notion of watching.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:See Poole on "Mark 13:34"
Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.See Poole on "Mark 13:35"
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.See Poole on "Mark 13:37"