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The Destruction of the Temple Foretold.* 1As he was making his way out of the temple area one of his disciples said to him, “Look, teacher, what stones and what buildings!”a 2Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be one stone left upon another that will not be thrown down.”
The Signs of the End. 3* As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple area, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,b 4“Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be when all these things are about to come to an end?” 5Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one deceives you.c 6Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he,’ and they will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and reports of wars do not be alarmed; such things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. 8Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes from place to place and there will be famines. These are the beginnings of the labor pains.
The Coming Persecution. 9d “Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. 10But the gospel must first be preached to all nations.* 11When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say.e But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit. 12Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.
The Great Tribulation. 14f “When you see the desolating abomination standing* where he should not (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains,g 15[and] a person on a housetop must not go down or enter to get anything out of his house,h 16and a person in a field must not return to get his cloak. 17Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days. 18Pray that this does not happen in winter. 19For those times will have tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of God’s creation until now, nor ever will be.i 20If the Lord had not shortened those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect whom he chose, he did shorten the days. 21If anyone says to you then, ‘Look, here is the Messiah! Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22False messiahs and false prophets will arise and will perform signs and wonders in order to mislead, if that were possible, the elect. 23Be watchful! I have told it all to you beforehand.
The Coming of the Son of Man. 24j “But in those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,k
25and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26* l And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, 27and then he will send out the angels and gather [his] elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
The Lesson of the Fig Tree. 28m “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. 29In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. 30Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Need for Watchfulness. 32“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33n Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.o 35Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
* [13:1–2] The reconstructed temple with its precincts, begun under Herod the Great ca. 20 B.C., was completed only some seven years before it was destroyed by fire in A.D. 70 at the hands of the Romans; cf. Jer 26:18; Mt 24:1–2. For the dating of the reconstruction of the temple, see further the note on Jn 2:20.
* [13:3–37] Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple (Mk 13:2) provoked questions that the four named disciples put to him in private regarding the time and the sign when all these things are about to come to an end (Mk 13:3–4). The response to their questions was Jesus’ eschatological discourse prior to his imminent death. It contained instruction and consolation exhorting the disciples and the church to faith and obedience through the trials that would confront them (Mk 13:5–13). The sign is the presence of the desolating abomination (Mk 13:14; see Dn 9:27), i.e., of the Roman power profaning the temple. Flight from Jerusalem is urged rather than defense of the city through misguided messianic hope (Mk 13:14–23). Intervention will occur only after destruction (Mk 13:24–27), which will happen before the end of the first Christian generation (Mk 13:28–31). No one but the Father knows the precise time, or that of the parousia (Mk 13:32); hence the necessity of constant vigilance (Mk 13:33–37). Luke sets the parousia at a later date, after “the time of the Gentiles” (Lk 21:24). See also notes on Mt 24:1–25:46.
* [13:10] The gospel…to all nations: the period of the Christian mission.
* [13:26] Son of Man…with great power and glory: Jesus cites this text from Dn 7:13 in his response to the high priest, Are you the Messiah? (Mk 14:61). In Ex 34:5; Lv 16:2; and Nm 11:25 the clouds indicate the presence of the divinity. Thus in his role of Son of Man, Jesus is a heavenly being who will come in power and glory.
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