Entering the promised land, 11:1-16:20

3. Prophecies concerning the kingdom of Israel, 13:1-37

iii] The coming of the Son of Man


In this third section of Mark's "little apocalypse", Jesus prophesies the destruction of the temple and the enthronement of the Son of Man.


The Son of Man comes to the Ancient of Days, for his enthronement, in power and glory, accompanied by his elect / believers.


i] Context: See 13:1-13.


ii] Structure: The coming of the Son of Man:

Cosmic disturbances, v24-25;

Jesus' enthronement at the right hand of the Ancient of Days, v26;

The calling of the lost into God's new and eternal kingdom, v27.


iii] Interpretation:

The great day of the Lord is presented using Old Testament prophetic allusions, first of cosmic upheaval shattering the world of human affairs, and then of Daniel's coming Son of Man who, on coming to the Ancient of Days, inaugurates his cosmic reign with his elect.

Only a few commentators read this passage as depicting the destruction of the temple, eg. N.T., Wright, Dodd, France, also Hatina The Parousia or the Destruction of the Temple?. Most view the passage as depicting the parousia, of Christ's return to earth in the last day, so Cranfield ("cosmic signs immediately heralding the Parousia"), Gundry, Evans, Boring, Marcus ("the disintegration of the universe and the return of the Son of Man"), Taylor, Swete, Lane, Hurtado, Anderson, .....

As already noted in Interpretation, Biblical Prophecy, Mark 13:1-13, Biblical prophecy is layered, such that the passage before us addresses the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD70, which, like the destruction of Jerusalem in 590BC, serves as a paradigm for the destruction of all things on the Day of Judgment at the end of the age, the coming day of the Lord, so Edwards. This paradigm is illustrated below in the various manifestations of the kingdom of God.

[Kingdom diagram]

[Kingdom diagram]

The passage also confronts us with another aspect of Biblical eschatology, namely the now / not yet reality of the kingdom of God. Mark's arrangement of Jesus' prophetic sayings is linear, given that this is really the only way we can understand our place in time, yet Jesus' eschatological sayings are often timeless, realised. Jesus confronts us with the reality of a coming kingdom that is both realised as well as inaugurated, as illustrated by the curser rollover image below.

In terms of the kingdom now, "the darkness" has already "come over all the land", 15:33. Satan is defeated on the cross, and so the glorious Son of Man ascends with his elect to the Ancient of Days, and is even now seated upon his throne, with all powers bowing before him. In reality, the great day of the Lord has already taken place, the kingdom is now, such that "God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus", Eph.6:2.

Yet, in time terms, the kingdom is not yet; it is inaugurated. We still wait for the sun to be darkened and the moon to not give its light, we still wait for that day when we can meet with the Son of Man in the air.


iv] Synoptics:

Matt.24:29-31, Lk.21:25-28. Note how Luke replaces the allusion of the angels gathering the elect, found in both Matthew and Mark (Matthew adds "with a trumpet blast"), with "When all this begins to happen, stand upright and hold your heads high, because your liberation is near", Lk.21:28.

Text - 13:24

The coming of the Son of Man, v24-27: i] Jesus now uses apocalyptic language to describe the earth-shattering event of the coming of the Son of Man in judgment, v24-25. As noted above, the actual event is in dispute, but given the disciples' question and the logical sequence of the events described, with the conclusion "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened", v30, then obviously the destruction of the temple / Jerusalem is the subject.

The verses are not exact quotations from the prophets, but certainly pick up on their language. Verse 24b is usually taken as a derivative of Isaiah 13:10, a word against Babylon. Wright argues that verse 25 alludes to Isaiah 14:13f, a word against the king of Babylon, although the text is usually identified with Isaiah 34:4, a word against Edom. Either way, both texts allude to a cataclysmic intervention of divine judgment against the unrighteous.

Cosmic dissolution is often associated with the Jesus' coming on the last day, but the language used here by Jesus serves another purpose. The prophets commonly used this type of cosmic language when depicting judgement against the enemies of Israel, but now Jesus turns this very language onto Israel itself, or more specifically onto "God's house in Jerusalem", France.

alla "but" - but. Usually read as adversative, but here mildly contrastive, best left untranslated.

en + dat. "in" - in [those days]. Temporal use of the proposition. A typical apocalyptic term, eg. Zech.8:23. "At that time", Barclay.

meta + acc. "after" - after [that distress, tribulation]. Temporal use of the proposition. Referring to what immediately follows the events associated with the "desolating sacrilege", ie. the lead up to the destruction of the temple/Jerusalem. It could be argued that it "simply denotes temporal succession", TH, but more likely an "immediate sequel", France. "After the period of suffering", Barclay.

authV gen. pro. "its [light]" - [the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give the light] of it. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, but it could be classified verbal, subjective.


esontai ... piptonteV (piptw) pres. part. "will fall" - [and the stars] will be falling. The future of the verb to-be with the present participle forms a periphrastic future, possibly emphasising durative aspect.

ek + gen. "from" - out of. Expressing separation; "away from."

tou ouranou (oV) gen. "the sky" - the heaven. "Heaven" is being used of "the sky", rather than God's heavenly residence.

aiJ dunameiV "the [heavenly] bodies" - [and] the powers. Obviously in parallel with the first clause, such that "stars" and "powers" are both heavenly bodies. So, "the orbs of the heavens will be shaken", Moffatt, rather than "and the hosts which have their dwelling in the heavens will be made to totter", Cassirer.

aiJ "-" - the ones [in the heavens]. The article here serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional construction en toiV ouranoiV, "in the heaven", into an attributive modifier, limiting "the powers"; "the powers which are in heaven" = "heavenly powers."

saleuqhsontai (saleuw) fut. pas. "will be shaken" - will be shaken. "The picture is of heaven and earth shaken by God's appearance", Evans, or more particularly his coming in judgment. "And the heavenly bodies will be driven out of their normal course", TH.


ii] The enthronement of the Son of Man, v27. Jesus continues in apocalyptic mode, alluding to Daniel 7:13-14. This verse is often interpreted as a coming to earth, but the coming of the Son of Man in Daniel is a coming to heaven in the clouds "with his angels" (most likely a reference to resurrected believers). The destruction of the national life of Israel, just described in the terms of a cosmic shaking, is consequent on the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus, as the mysterious Son of Man, comes to the Ancient of Days to receive authority and power to enact judgment, causing all knees to bow before him. The righteous reign of God, once evident in the national life of Israel, is now exercised in the corporate Son of Man. The kingdom has come.

tote adv. "at that time" - [and] then. Temporal adverb, sequential.

oyontai (oJraw) fut. "men will see" - they will see. Indefinite plural. Who are the "they"? Probably only those with eyes to see.

tou anqrwpou (oV) gen. "[the Son] of Man" - [the son] of man. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Messianic title, of Daniel's Son of Man, cf., 2:10.

ercomenon (ercomai) pres. part. "coming" - coming. The accusative participle serves as the complement of the direct object "Son of Man", standing in a double accusative construction. As above, it is important to note that the "coming" is to the Ancient of Days, not to the earth, ie., it is a coming to heaven. The coming is witnessed, as Stephen witnessed it, Act.7:55-56, in the exercise of power, particularly in judgment, and in this case, judgment upon Israel evidenced in the destruction of the temple. A divine coming is not good news, but it is the news (gospel)!

en "in" - in, on [clouds]. Local, expressing space. A Daniel allusion. Possibly a symbol of divine glory. Jesus leaves the earth in a cloud and comes to heaven in a cloud.

meta + gen. "with" - with [great power and glory]. The preposition here is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the Son's coming; as a king would come.


iii] The gathering of the lost, v27. Concluding his apocalyptic prophecy, Jesus draws on the exodus imagery of the gathering of the lost remnant into the kingdom cf., Isaiah 11:11, 27:12, Zech.2:6-11, 10:6-11. Jerusalem is destroyed, the Son of Man is on his throne, and so the call goes out to join with him in his eternal reign. The imagery employed by Jesus again displays the now / not yet reality of kingdom eschatology. In the terms of inaugurated eschatology, Jesus' prophecy is being fulfilled in the world-wide Christian mission which began at Pentecost; Gabriel's horn is sounding. Then again, at another level, in terms of realised eschatology, the horn has already sounded and we are even now gathered with Christ in the heavenlies. We can only but be thankful that in this moment of distorted time, this blink in the divine eye, this state of grace, ...... that in this moment we were given the opportunity to find eternity.

tote adv. "-" - then. Temporal adverb, sequential; "then he will send out his angels", Barclay.

apostelei (apostellw) "he will send" - he will send. Send as authoritative representatives. The subject is obviously "the Son of Man."

touV aggelouV (oV) "his angels" - the messengers. Accusative direct object of the verb "he will send." The "angels / messengers" are usually identified with the heavenly host who gather believers into heaven before the end (the rapture). In the last day, at the sounding of Gabriel's horn, this may well be the case, but in the present moment it is being fulfilled in the apostolic gospel mission to the ends of the earth. For the present, the "messengers" are disciples, evangelists, so France.

episunaxei (episunagw) fut. "gather" - [and] he will gather together, assemble. Zech.2:6, "the gathering of Israel's exiles", Evans - the exiles, scattered and lost, bound in captivity. The calling of lost Israel is well illustrated in Paul's missionary strategy - to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. Zechariah paints a beautiful picture of the lost of Israel streaming in to the new kingdom with ten Gentiles holding on to the tassels of each Jew (or better, the one faithful Jew).

touV eklektouV adj. "[his] elect" - of the elect, chosen [of him]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to gather together." The adjective serves as a noun. Variant "his [elect]" is not well supported and usually either omitted, or bracketed in Gk. texts. "The elect", a term only used here in Mark, "are those who belong to the Son of Man", Boring. The elect "belong", not by birth, race, religious association, obedience, ..... but by grace through faith.

ek + gen. "from [the ends of the earth]" - out of, from [from the four winds]. Expressing source / origin. "A common expression for the four corners of the earth", Zerwick.

apo ...... e{wV "from - from [the ends of earth] to [the ends of heaven]" - This construction gives the sense "from one end to the other", Zerwick. Jesus has again drawn on Biblical language for this expression, eg., Deut.4:32, 13:8, although the wording is usually "from one end of earth to the other", or "from one end of heaven to the other" (heaven being the canopy around the earth rather than the dwelling of God). We are best to follow Manson who argues that Jesus is simply paralleling the previous statement, "from one end of earth to the other." "From the limits of the earth to the limits of the sky", Barclay.


Mark Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]