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!
Verse 1. - And as he went forth out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him Master, behold, what manner, of stones and what manner of buildings! This would be in the evening. According to St. Luke (Luke 21:37), our Lord, during the early part of this week, passed his nights upon the Mount of Olives, taking his food at Bethany with Martha and Mary, and spending his days in the temple at Jerusalem, teaching the people. It is most probable that he left the temple by the golden gate on the east, from whence the view of the temple would be particularly striking. We learn from St. Matthew (24.) that our Lord had just been predicting the fall of Jerusalem. It was, therefore, natural for the disciples to call his attention at that moment to the grandeur and beauty of the building and its surroundings. The temple at Jerusalem was one of the wonders of the world. Josephus says that it wanted nothing that the eye and the mind could admire. It shone with a fiery splendor; so that when the eye gazed upon it, it turned away as from the rays of the sun. The size of the foundation-stones was enormous. Josephus speaks of some of the stones as forty-five cubits in length, five in height, and six in breadth. One of the foundation-stones, measured in recent times, proved to be nearly twenty-four feet in length, by four feet in depth. But all this magnificence had no effect upon our Lord, who only repeated the sentence of its downfall
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.
Verse 2. - There shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down. The word (ῶδε) "here" is rightly inserted; and the prophecy is justified by scientific investigation. The expression is not hyperbolic. Modern investigation shows that the present wall has been rebuilt, probably on the foundation of the older One.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
Verse 3. - And as he sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? St. Matthew and St. Luke only mention his disciples generally. St. Mark, going more into detail, gives the names of those who thus asked him; namely, Peter and James and John, already distinguished, and Andrew, who enjoyed the distinction of having been the first called. These men appear to have been our Lord's inner council; and they asked him (κατ ἰδίαν) privately, or separately, not only from the multitude, but from the rest of the disciples. It was a dangerous thing to speak of the destruction of the temple, or even to inquire about such an event, for fear of the scribes and Pharisees. It was this accusation that led to the stoning of Stephen. It is evident from St. Matthew (Matthew 24:3) that the disciples closely associated together the destruction of the temple and his final coming at the end of the world. They knew from our Lord's words that the destruction of Jerusalem was near at hand, and therefore they thought that the destruction of the world itself, and the day of judgment, were also near at hand. Hence their questions.
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
Verses 5, 6. - Take heed that no man lead you astray. The Greek word is πλανήση. Their first temptation would be of this kind - that many would come in Christ's name, saying, "I am he;" claiming, that is, the title which belonged to him alone. Such were Theudas (Acts 5:36) and Simon Magus (Acts 8:10), who, according to Jerome, said, "Ego sum Sermo Dei, ego speciosus, ego Paracletus, ego omnipotens, ego omnia." Such were Menander and the Gnostics.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
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.
Verse 7. - Wars and rumors of wars. "Rumours of wars" are mentioned, because they are often worse and more distressing than wars themselves; according to the saying, "Pejor est belle timer ipse belli." Be not troubled; be not troubled, that is, so as to let go your faith in me, through fear of the enemy, or through despair of any fruit of your apostolic labors; but persevere steadfastly to preach faith in me and in my gospel. These things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. There would be a succession of calamities, one leading on to another. But they must take courage, and prepare themselves for greater evils, not hoping for lasting peace on earth, but by patient endurance of evils here, reach onwards to a blessed and eternal rest in heaven. Our Lord, when his disciples asked him, as in one breath, about the destruction of their city, replied obscurely and ambiguously; mingling together the two events, in order that his disciples and the faithful through all times might be prepared, and never taken by surprise. Some of our Lord's predictions, however, clearly refer to the generation then living on the earth.
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.
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.
And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
Verse 10. - And the gospel must first be preached unto all the nations. St. Matthew (Matthew 24:14) says it shall be preached "in the whole world, for a testimony unto all the nations" (ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ εἰς μαρτύριον). This literally took place, as far as the inhabited world was concerned at that time, before the destruction of Jerusalem. St. Paul (Romans 10:18) reminds us that "their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world;" and he tells the Colossians (Colossians 1:6) that the gospel was come unto them, and was bearing fruit and increasing in all the world. But even if we regard these expressions as somewhat hyperbolic, it is unquestionable that before the armies of Titus entered Jerusalem, the gospel had been published through the principal parts and provinces of the then inhabited world (οἰκουμένῃ). And it is certainly a wonderful fact that within fifty years after the death of Christ, Christian Churches had been planted in almost every district of the earth as then known to the Romans. But if we extend these prophetical sayings so as to reach onwards to the end of all things, we must then understand the expression, "all the nations," in its most unrestricted sense; so that the prophecy announces the universal proclamation of the gospel over the whole inhabited earth as an event which is to precede the time of the end. It is interesting to observe the difference in the amount of knowledge possessed by us of this earth and its population at the present time, as compared with the knowledge which men had of it at the time when our Lord delivered this prediction. It was not until the beginning of the sixteenth century, nearly fifteen hundred years after Christ, that Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci laid open that other hemisphere which takes its name from Amerigo; and there are few facts more interesting to a philosophic mind than the discovery of this new continent, now so important to us in England as the chief receptacle, together with Australia, of our redundant population. But this new world, as we call it, although there are material evidences that portions of it at least were occupied in very remote times by men of high civilization, was present to the mind of our Lord when he said that "the gospel must first be preached unto all the nations." So that the prophecy expands, as the ages roll onwards and the population of this earth increases; and it still demands its fulfillment, embracing the vast multitudes now dwelling on the face of the earth to the number of about 1,450,000,000. Such a consideration may well lead us to the inference that we are now approaching sensibly nearer to the end of the world. There are no other new worlds like America or Australia now to be discovered. The whole face of the earth is now laid open to us; and there is now hardly any part of the world which has not at some time or other received the message of salvation. Ver 11. - And when they lead you to judgment, and deliver you up, be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak. Our Lord does not mean by this that they were not to premeditate a prudent and wise answer Rut he means that they were not to be too anxious about it. In St. Luke (Luke 21:15) he says, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to withstand or to gainsay." So here, it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost who shall inspire you with wisdom and courage. The words "neither do ye premeditate" (μηδὲ μελετᾶτε) are omitted in the Revised Version, as not having sufficient authority.
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.
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.
Verse 12. - Our Lord further warns his disciples that they would have to suffer persecution even from their own relations, their brethren, and their fathers, who, forgetful of natural affection, would persecute the faithful even unto death. It is related of Woodman, a martyr in Sussex, in Queen Mary's time, that he was betrayed and taken by his father and his brother, and that he comforted himself with the thought that this very text of Scripture was verified in him. Bede says that our Lord predicted these evils, in order that his disciples, by a knowledge of them beforehand, might be the better able to bear them when they came.
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.
Verse 13. - And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake (ὑπο πάντων). The faith and preaching of a crucified Savior was a new thing. Hence everywhere, the Jews, accustomed to their own Law, and the Gentiles, to their own idols, set themselves against the preachers of the gospel, and against those who were converted to it. "All men" means great numbers, perhaps the greater number. Just as, when we say, "The majority are doing anything," we say, in popular language, "Everybody does it." But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved (ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος). What is "the end" here referred to? Not, I imagine, the end of the age, but the end of the moral probation of the individual. The Greek word for "endureth" is very significant; it implies "a bearing up, and persevering under great trials." It is not enough once and again or a third time to have overcome, but, in order to obtain the crown, it is necessary to endure and to conquer, even to the end. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." The crown of patience is perseverance.
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:
Verse 14. - But when ye see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not. In the Authorized Version, after the word "desolation," the words "spoken of by Daniel the prophet," are introduced, but without sufficient authority. They were probably interpolated from St. Matthew, where there is abundant authority for them; and thus their omission by St. Mark does not affect the argument drawn from them in favor of the genuineness of the Book of Daniel, against those, whether in earlier or in later times, who reject this book, or ascribe it to some mere recent authorship. The "abomination of desolation" is a Hebrew idiom, meaning "the abomination that maketh desolate." St. Luke (Luke 21:20) does not use the expression; it would have sounded strange to his Gentile readers. He says, "When ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand." This reference to the Roman armies by St. Luke has led some commentators to suppose that "the abomination of desolation" meant the Roman eagles. But this was a sign from without; whereas "the abomination of desolation" was a sign from within, connected with the ceasing of the daily sacrifice of the temple. It is alluded to by the Prophet Daniel in three places, namely, Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11. We must seek for its explanation in something within the temple. "standing in the holy place" (Matthew 24:15) - some profanation of the temple, on account of which God's judgments would fall on Jerusalem. Now, Daniel's prophecy had already received one fulfillment ( B.C. 168), when we read (1 Macc. 1:54) that they set up "the abomination of desolation upon the altar." This was when Antiochus Epiphanes set up the statue of Jupiter on the great altar of burnt sacrifice. But that "abomination of desolation" was the forerunner of another and a worse profanation yet to come, which our Lord, no doubt, had in his mind when he called the attention of his disciples to these predictions by Daniel. There is a remarkable passage in Josephus ('Wars of the Jews,' 4:6), in which he refers to an ancient saying then current, that "Jerusalem would be taken, and the temple be destroyed, when it had been defiled by the hands of Jews themselves." Now, this literally took place. For while the Roman armies were investing Jerusalem, the Jews within the city were in fierce conflict amongst themselves. And it would seem most probable that our Lord had in his mind, in connection with Daniel's prophecy, more especially that at Daniel 9:27, the irruption of the army of Zealots and Assassins into the temple, filling the holy place with the dead bodies of their own fellow-citizens. The Jews had invited these marauders to defend them against the army of the Romans; and they, by their outrages against God, were the special cause of the desolation of Jerusalem. Thus, while St. Luke points to the sign from without, namely, the Roman forces surrounding the city, St. Matthew and St. Mark refer to the more terrible sign from within, the "abomination of desolation " - the abomination that would fill up the measure of their iniquities, and cause the avenging power of Rome to come down upon them and crush them. It was after these two signs - the sign from within and the sign from without - that Jerusalem was laid prostrate. Therefore our Lord proceeds to warn both Jews and Christians alike, that when they saw these signs they should flee unto the mountains - not to the mountains of Judaea, for these were already occupied by the Roman army (Josephus; lib. 3 cap. 12.), but those further off, beyond Judaea. We know from Eusebius (3:15) that the Christians fled to Pella, on the other side of the Jordan. The Jews, on the other hand, as they saw the Roman army approaching nearer, betook themselves to Jerusalem, as to an asylum, thinking that there they would be under the special protection of Jehovah; but there, alas, they were imprisoned and slain.
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:
Verse 15. - Let him that is on the house-top (ἐπὶ τοῦ δώματος) not go down, nor enter in, to take anything out of his house. The roofs of the houses were flat, with frequently a little "dome" (δῶμα) in the center. The people lived very much upon them; and the stairs were outside, so that a person wishing to enter the house must first descend by these outer stairs. The words, therefore, mean that he must flee suddenly, if he would save his life, even though he might lose his goods, he must escape, perhaps by crossing over the parapet of his own housetop, and so from house-top to house-top, until he could find a convenient point for flight into the hill country.
And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
Verse 16. - And let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloke (τὸ ἱμάτιον αὐτοῦ ). This was the outer garment or pallium. They who worked in the field were accustomed to leave their cloak and their tunic at home; so that, half-stripped, they might be more free to labor. Therefore our Lord warns them that in this impending destruction, so suddenly would it come, they must be ready to fly just as they were. It was the direction given to Lot, "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee."
But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
Verse 17. - But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! Women in this condition would be specially objects of pity, for they would be more exposed to danger. The words, "Woe to them (οὐαι)!" are an exclamation of pity, as, though it was said, "Alas! for them." Josephus (7:8) mentions that some mothers, constrained by hunger during the siege, devoured their own infants!
And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
Verse 18. - And pray ye that it be not in the winter. According to the best authorities, "your flight" (ἡ φυγὴ ὑμῶν) is omitted, but the meaning remains very much the same. St. Matthew (Matthew 24:20) adds, "neither on a sabbath." But this would be comparatively of little interest to those to whom St. Mark was writing. Our Lord thus specifies the winter, because at that season, on account of the cold and snow, flight would be attended with special difficulty and hardship, and would be almost impossible for the aged and infirm.
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.
Verse 19. - For those days shall be tribulation, such as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation. These expressions are very remarkable. To begin with, the tribulation would be so unexampled and so severe that the days themselves would be called "tribulation." They would be known ever after as "the tribulation.'" There never had been anything like them, and there never would be again. Neither the Deluge, nor the destruction of the cities of the plain, nor the drowning of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, nor the slaughter of the Canaanites, nor the destruction of Nineveh, or of Babylon, or of other great cities and nations, would be so violent and dreadful as the overthrow of Jerusalem by Titus. All this is confirmed by Josephus, who says, speaking of this overthrow, "I do not think that any state ever suffered such things, or any nation within the memory of man." St. Chrysostom assigns the cause of all this to the base and cruel treatment of the Son of God by the Jews. The destruction of their city and their temple, and their continued desolation afterwards, were the lessons by which the Jews were to be taught that the Christ had indeed come, and that this was the Christ whom they had crucified and slain.
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.
Verse 20. - And except the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he chose, he shortened the days. St. Matthew's record (Matthew 24:22) differs from that of St. Mark in the omission of the words "the Lord," and the clause "whom he chose." If the time of the siege of Jerusalem had lasted much longer, not one of the nation could have survived; all would have perished by war, or famine, or pestilence. The Romans raged against the Jews as an obstinate and rebellious nation, and would have exterminated them. But "the Lord" shortened the time of this frightful catastrophe, for the elect's sake, that is, partly for the sake of the Christians who could not escape from Jerusalem, and partly for that of the Jews, who, subdued by this awful visitation, were converted to Christ or would hereafter be converted to him We learn from hence how great is the love of God towards his elect, and his care for them. For their sakes he spared many Jews. For their sakes he created and preserves the whole world. Yea, for their sakes, Christ the eternal Son was made man, and became obedient unto death. "All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." It may be added that a number of providential circumstances combined to shorten these days of terror. Titus was himself disposed to clemency, and friendly towards Josephus. Moreover, he was attached to Bernice, a Jewess, the sister of Agrippa. All these and other circumstances conspired in the providence of God to "shorten the days."
And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
Verses 21, 22. - And then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ; or, Lo, there, believe it not; for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets. Josephus mentions one Simon of Gerasa, who, pretending to be a deliverer of the people from the Romans, gathered around him a crowd of followers, and gained admission into Jerusalem, and harassed the Jews. In like manner, Eleazar and John, leaders of the Zealots, gained admission into the holy place, under pretense of defending the city, but really that they might plunder it. But it seems as though our Lord here. looked beyond the siege of Jerusalem to the end of the world; and he warns us that as the time of his second advent approaches, deceivers will arise, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. The word "to seduce" (ἀποπλανᾶν) is more properly rendered, as in the Revised Version, to lead astray. Every age has produced its crop of such deceivers; and it may be expected that, as the time of the end draws nearer and nearer, their number will increase. Sometimes those idiosyncrasies in them which show themselves in lying wonders, are the result of self-delusion; but still oftener they are deliberate attempts made for the purpose of imposing on the unwary. Sometimes they are a combination of both. In the cases to which our Lord refers there is evidently an intention to lead astray, although it may have had its origin in self-deceit. In our day there is a sad tendency to lead men astray with regard to the great fundamental verities of Christianity. And the words of St. Jerome may well be remembered here: "If any would persuade you that Christ is to be found in the wilderness of unbelief or sceptical philosophy, or in the secret chambers of heresy, believe them not."
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
Verse 23. - But take ye heed (ὑμεῖς δὲ βλέπετε). The "ye" is here emphatic. The disciples were around him, hanging upon his lips. But his admonition is meant for Christians everywhere, even to the end of the world.
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
Verse 24. - But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. St. Matthew (Matthew 24:29) has the word "immediately," before the words "after that tribulation." If this word "immediately" is to be understood literally, then the things spoken of subsequently must be understood in a figurative and spiritual sense. But it would seem more natural to understand "immediately" according to the reckoning of him with whom "a thousand years are as one day." Our Lord now passes away from the events connected with the overthrow of the Jewish polity, and proceeds to speak of things connected with the new dispensation. His mind is now turned to "the last time" - to the whole period between his first and his second advent. The things towards which he was now looking belonged, not to the end of the Jewish dispensation, but to the end of the present age and the present dispensation. Eighteen centuries have passed since the destruction of Jerusalem; and more years, it may be, will come and go before the end. Nevertheless, all this time, although it may seem long to us who are confined within the narrow limits of a short life, is nevertheless, when compared with the eternity of God, but as a moment. "The sun shall be darkened." The signs here enumerated are mentioned elsewhere as the signs that would appear before the second coming of Christ. (See Joel 2:31 and Luke 21:25, 26.) St. Augustine (Ep. 80, 'Ad Hesychium') says, "The light of truth shall be obscured; because in the great tribulation that shall come on the world, many will fall from the faith, who had seemed to be bright and firm, like the sun and the stars." "And the moon," that is, the Church, "shall not give her light."
And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
Verse 25. - And the stars shall be falling from heaven (ἔσονται ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πίπτοντες) and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken. In the great events of the creation recorded in Genesis 1 the sun and the moon and the stars did not show their light until that period which is called the fourth day. So in the end of the world, the sun and the moon and the stars are represented as withdrawing their light, perhaps figuratively, but perhaps also literally, in the course of some of the unknown physical changes which shall accompany the winding up of the present dispensation. To this agree the next words, "the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken." The powers may here mean those great unseen forces of nature by which the universe is now held in equipoise. When the Creator wills it, these powers shall be shaken. (See Job 26:11, "The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof;" see also Isaiah 34:4, "And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll.") As the end of the world approaches, the elements will quiver and tremble.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
Verse 26. - And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. St. Matthew (Matthew 24:30) introduces here the words, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." Many of the Fathers, as St. Chrysostom, Jerome, Bede, and others, think that this sign will be the cross. Josephus (5:3) says that shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, a portent like a sword, glittering as a star, appeared in the heavens. But surely the sign of the Son of man at the end of the world will be the Son of man himself coming in clouds. The clouds, covering the troubled heaven and now illuminated by the brightness of his coming, will constitute "the sublime drapery of his presence" (Dr. Morison).
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.
Verse 27. - And then shall he send forth the angels. This represents the great harvest at the end of the world, when the angel-reapers shall be sent forth to separate the wicked from the just. The elect will be gathered from the four winds (ἐκ τῶν πεσσάρων ἀνέμων); literally, out of the four winds - the winds representing figuratively every corner of the world; or, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. At its extremities, in the horizon, there appears to be the end alike of earth and of heaven, as though earth and heaven joined, and the heaven terminated by melting into the earth and becoming one with it. The expression simply means, "from horizon to horizon," or from every part of the earth.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
Verses 28, 29. - Now from the fig tree learn her parable; that is, her own particular teaching. Our Lord makes frequent mention and use of the fig tree, as we have seen already. It is probable that a fig tree may have been near to them. When her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh. The branch (κλάδος) would be the young shoot, now become tender under the quickening influences of the spring; and this was an evident sign that the summer was at hand. The Asiatic fig tree requires a considerable amount of warmth to enable it to put forth leaves and fruit. Its rich flavour requires a summer heat to mature it. Aristotle says that the fig is the choice food of bees, from which they make their richest honey. Then the fig tree does not flower after the ordinary manner; but produces flower and fruit at once from the tree, and rapidly matures the fruit. The lesson, therefore, from the fig tree is this - the speed with which she ripens her fruit when she feels the warmth of summer. In like manner, as soon as the disciples perceived the signs of Christ's coming, they were to learn that he was close at hand, as certainly as the ripening fruit of the fig tree showed that summer was at hand.
So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
Verse 30. This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished. This is one of those prophecies which admit of a growing fulfillment. If the word "generation" (γανεὰ) be understood (as it may undoubtedly be understood) to mean the sum total of those living at any time on the earth, the prediction would hold true as far as the destruction of Jerusalem was concerned. The destruction of Jerusalem took place within the limits of the generation living in our Lord's time; and there might be some of those whom he was then addressing who would live to see the event. His prediction amounted, in fact, to this, that the destruction of Jerusalem would take place within forty years of the time when he was speaking. But it may have a wider meaning. It may mean the Jewish people. Their city would be destroyed their power overthrown. They would be "peeled and scattered." But they would still remain a distinct and separate nation to the end of the world. And there are other prophecies which show that with their national conversion to Christianity will be associated all that is most glorious in the future Church of God.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Verse 31. - Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. Here is a distinct prediction that the present structure of the universe will pass away; that is, that it will be changed, that it will perish, as far as its present state and condition are concerned; but only that it may be refashioned in a more beautiful form. "We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). With this declaration of our blessed Lord all the discoveries of science coincide. Astronomy and geology alike concur in the conclusion that the whole system of the universe is moving onwards to its change. Our blessed Lord did but affirm that which is demonstrated by science. But my words shall not pass away; not merely the words which with his full self-consciousness he had just uttered respecting Jerusalem, but all his other words - all the revelation of God, all the words of him who is the Truth.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Verse 32. - But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. He who from all eternity has decreed the time when this day is to come, is pleased to hide it in the hidden depths of his own counsels. But the eternal Son, and the Holy Spirit, both alike one with the Father, are of his counsels. They are not excluded from this knowledge; they, equally with the Father, know the day and the hour of the end, since they are of the same substance, power, and majesty. Why; then, does St. Mark here add, "neither the Son"? The answer is surely to be found in the great truth of the hypostatic union. The eternal Son, as God, by his omniscience, and as man, by knowledge imparted to him, knows perfectly the day and the hour of the future judgment. But Christ as man, and as the Messenger from God to men, did not so know it as to be able to reveal it to men. The ambassador, if he is asked concerning the secret counsels of his sovereign, may truly answer that he knows them not so as to communicate them to others. For as an ambassador he only communicates those things which are committed to him by his sovereign to deliver, and not those things which he is bidden to keep secret.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Verses 33-37. - These exhortations, which gather up in a succinct form the practical bearing of the parallel passages and parables in St. Matthew, must not be understood as implying that our Lord's coming in judgment would be during the lifetime of his disciples. The preceding words would teach them plainly enough that the actual time of this coming was hidden from the. m. But the intention was that, while by the certainty of the event their faith and hope would be quickened, by the uncertainty of the time they might be left in a continual state of watchfulness and prayer. According to the Jewish reckoning, there were only three watches - namely, the first watch, from sunset to 10 p.m.; the second watch, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and the third watch, from 2 a.m. to sunrise. But after the establishment of the Roman power in Judaea, these watches were divided into four; and were either described as the first, second, third, and fourth respectively; or, as here, by the terms even, beginning at six and ending at nine; midnight, ending at twelve; cockcrowing, ending at three; and morning, ending at six.
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.
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:
Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.