From: Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Mark Return to Home
By Roland H. Worth, Jr. © 2013
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Weymouth: As He was leaving the Temple, one of His disciples exclaimed, "Look, Rabbi, what wonderful stones! what wonderful buildings!"
WEB: As he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Teacher, see what kind of stones and what kind of buildings!"
Young’s: And as he is going forth out of the temple, one of his disciples saith to him, 'Teacher, see! what stones! and what buildings!'
Conte (RC): And as he was departing from the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Teacher, observe these fine stones and fine structures."
13:1 And as He went out of the temple. The word denotes the temple in the larger sense, not simply the sanctuary. 
temple. The first temple built by Solomon, B.C. 1014-1007, was wonderful for richness, beauty, and splendor. Four centuries after it was destroyed by Nebuzaradan, under Nebuchadnezzar, B.C. 586. The second and new Temple of Zerubbabel was built on the site of Solomon's Temple, by authority of Cyrus the Persian, and completed B.C. 517. A rival temple was built on Mount Gerizim, by the Samaritans, B.C. 409. The temple at Jerusalem was plundered B.C. 170, and again in B.C. 54. Herod the Great Began to restore and enlarge the second temple, B.C. 17, and finished the main buildings in about eight years; but the work was only fully completed under Herod Agrippa II, in A.D. 64. It was destroyed at the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, A.D. 70. 
one of His disciples. In this passage we see a striking instance of the difference between the style of Mark and that of Matthew. Mark is more specific, saying that "one of His disciples" said "Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here" and that Jesus says "to him, seest thou " etc.; while Matthew--in his more indefinite manner--says that "his disciples" called His attention to the buildings and that He said, "See ye not all these things?" (cf. Matthew 24:1-2). 
saith unto Him, Master, see here what manner of stones. 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. 
and what buildings are here. If the very building stones had to be impressive in their own right, the builders surely went out of their way to make the entire edifice impress the onlooker! [rw]
Weymouth: "You see all these great buildings?" Jesus replied; "not one stone will be left here upon another--not thrown down."
WEB: Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone on another, which will not be thrown down."
Young’s: and Jesus answering said to him, 'Seest thou these great buildings? there may not be left a stone upon a stone, that may not be thrown down.'
Conte (RC): And in response, Jesus said to him: "Do you see all these great buildings? There shall not be left stone upon stone, which is not torn down."
13:2 And Jesus answering said unto him. This is the solitary instance in which the second evangelist has given at length a discourse of Jesus. The fullness with which the apocalyptic discourse is recorded is all the more striking when contrasted with the very meager reproduction of the anti-pharisaic discourse (12:38-40). The exception made in its favour was doubtless due to Mark's estimate of its interest and value for his first readers. 
Seest thou these great buildings? Both the temple building itself and its courts and colonnades. 
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. 
There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. This foretells the entire demolition of the buildings, a prophecy which was fulfilled when Titus took the city. Josephus says that it was the order of the Roman commander that the temple should be spared; but that one of his soldiers, "hurried on by a certain divine fury,” cast a fire-brand through one of the golden windows, and started the flames which Titus by his utmost efforts was unable to extinguish. The site, it is said, was ploughed for the treasures buried in the ruins.45
Or: It is an expression denoting utter destruction, but not to be interpreted with absolute literalness. 
The current temple wall?: The present wall has been rebuilt, probably on the foundation of the older one, and the same stones were reused. These older stones can be recognized by their character and marks. The prophecy was fulfilled, but the stones are left, a witness to the accuracy of the narrative. 
In depth: Could this be post-event pseudo-prediction falsely backdated into Jesus' ministry ? It is the common assertion of all unbelievers that the prophecy which follows has been composed since what passes for its fulfillment. When Jesus was murdered, and a terrible fate befell the guilty city, what more natural than to connect the two events? And how easily would a legend spring up that the sufferer foretold the penalty?
But there is an obvious and complete reply. The prediction is too mysterious, its outlines are too obscure; and the ruin of Jerusalem is too inexplicably complicated with the final visitation of the whole earth, to be the issue of any vindictive imagination working with the history in view.
Now, if we are to think of this great prophecy as a lurid reflection thrown back by later superstition on the storm-clouds of the nation's fall, how shall we account for its solemn and pensive mood, utterly free from vindictiveness, entirely suited to Jesus as we think of Him? Not such is the manner of resentful controversialists, eagerly tracing imaginary judgments. They are narrow, and sharp, and sour.
Weymouth: He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite to the Temple, when Peter, James, John, and Andrew, apart from the others asked Him,
WEB: As he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,
Young’s: And as he is sitting at the mount of the Olives, over-against the temple, Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, were questioning him by himself,
Conte (RC): And as he sat at the Mount of Olives, opposite the temple, Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew questioned him privately.
13:3 And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives over against [opposite, NKJV] the temple. The summit of Olivet is directly opposite or facing the temple area, and from it there is a fine view of Jerusalem. 
Peter and James and John. [These three] were separated from the other apostles on two former occasions (5:37; 9:2), and on one subsequent occasion (14:33). 
and Andrew. This is one time that Andrew was in company with the "chosen three" when they were apart from the other disciples; but even now he is separated, in the arrangement of the names, from his brother Peter, and put last, as being the least conspicuous of the four. 
asked Him privately. This intimates that their question was asked apart from the other eight, the four having gone to Him, as He sat to Himself, surveying immediately the scene before Him; but we can hardly suppose that any of the number were excluded from hearing their Lord's answer, so full of admonition for all. 
Weymouth: "Tell us, When will these things be? and what will be the sign when all these predictions are on the point of being fulfilled?"
WEB: "Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are all about to be fulfilled?"
Young’s: Tell us when these things shall be? and what is the sign when all these may be about to be fulfilled?'
Conte (RC): "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things will begin to be fulfilled?"
13:4 Tell us, When shall these things be? A natural question, but one to which Jesus does not reply directly, His answer being chiefly a warning against expecting immediately the events which He predicted, and being deceived by false leaders and events that are not signs of the end. 
and what shall be the sign. As in the report of Matthew, the question of the disciples contains two distinct points of inquiry; first, “When shall these things be?" and second, “what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?" Jesus answers the latter much more definitely than the former. 
when all these things shall be fulfilled. Such a hideous disaster could not spring out of nowhere, unannounced, with no forewarning, could it? Working out of that quite logical basis, they naturally want to know what would be the indications that the time would be approaching. The wording surely implies that they themselves already assumed that they would see it occur. Else why press for details? [rw]
Weymouth: So Jesus began to say to them: "Take care that no one misleads you.
WEB: Jesus, answering, began to tell them, "Be careful that no one leads you astray.
Young’s: And Jesus answering them, began to say, 'Take heed lest any one may lead you astray,
Conte (RC): And Jesus, answering, began to say to them: "See to it that no one leads you astray.
13:5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you. So prone are all to be misled as to the future and pre-eminently as to the signs of Christ's coming or the looked for consummation of all things, that Jesus began this admonitory discourse by setting forth what are not signs of the end. 
The false Christs who were to come, when properly viewed, would furnish proof of the prophetical powers of Jesus and thus confirm the faith of the disciples in Him. 
Weymouth: Many will come assuming my name and saying, 'I am He;' and they will mislead many.
WEB: For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and will lead many astray.
Young’s: for many shall come in my name, saying -- I am he, and many they shall lead astray;
Conte (RC): For many will come in my name, saying, 'For I am he,' and they will lead many astray.
13:6 For many shall come in My name. Before the fall of Jerusalem, the land was overrun with imposters, who sought to inflame religious zeal for political purposes. “These were such men as deceived the people under pretence of Divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before into the wilderness, as pretending that God would show them there the signal of liberty" (Josephus, Wars, 2.13.4; see Acts 21:38 for an example). The time of these pretenders, according to Josephus, was during the procuratorship of Felix (A.D. 53-60), and the trouble of Paul at Jerusalem fell in the midst of the period of these excitements. 
saying, I am Christ. The name may include both those who claimed to be the Messiah among the Jews and those who claimed to be Christ (i.e., Jesus) returned again. 
Among those who came in Christ's name, claiming, that is, the title which belonged to Him alone were Theudas (Acts 5:36) and Simon Magus (Acts 8:10). Such were Menander and the Gnostics. 
and shall deceive many. It is possible to have a false Christ, and yet not renounce the name of Christians or accept a pretender in His room or stead. Whatever you place in the room of Christ--in the theology of the heart--that is practically and personally to you a false Christ. 
Weymouth: But when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed: come they must, but the End is not yet.
WEB: "When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don't be troubled. For those must happen, but the end is not yet.
Young’s: and when ye may hear of wars and reports of wars, be not troubled, for these behove to be, but the end is not yet;
Conte (RC): But when you will have heard of wars and rumors of wars, you should not be afraid. For these things must be, but the end is not so soon.
13:7 And when ye shall hear of wars wars and rumors of wars. By the first word we may understand those wars of which they had certain information; by the second, rumors of more distant wars, whether real or not, including threatened outbreaks. The whole phrase includes every phase or prospect of war likely to disquiet them. 
There is no need to point out special wars and rumors as the ones that He had in mind. It was a period of disturbance: four Roman emperors murdered in swift succession and the world agitated by the changes; the Jews suffering in strifes and insurrections in various places; the Roman power threatening more and more in Palestine and bringing home strong fear to the Jews who dwelt there. 
rumors of wars. Such are mentioned because they are often worse and more distressing than wars themselves. 
be ye not troubled. Alarming as they might be, what to have anxiety about hasn’t arrived yet. [rw]
but the end shall not be yet. Wars, then, must not be looked upon as a sign of the end, whether we limit the prophecy to the fall of Jerusalem or give it wider scope. And yet in spite of this caution, there has been scarcely an age from the day these words were spoken till the present time, when men have not prophesied the near approach of Christ's second coming or of the end of the world because of great wars occurring in their own way. 
Weymouth: For nation will rise in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These miseries are but like the early pains of childbirth.
WEB: For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines and troubles. These things are the beginning of birth pains.
Young’s: 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; beginnings of sorrows are these.
Conte (RC): For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom over kingdom, and there shall be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are but the beginning of the sorrows.
13:8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Primarily, national uprisings of the Jews; then, wars of races, political revolutions, migrations, etc. Even the times preceding the dissolution of the Roman Empire have not exhausted this prediction. 
Alternate interpretation: Alexander thinks it difficult to find in contemporary history a state of things answerable to this description before the downfall of Jerusalem, the local wars and disturbances being, in his view, too insignificant to exhaust the terribly sublime description. These "signs" then preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, but realized on a larger scale they are to herald the end of all things; compare, 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:2. 
And there shall be earthquakes in diverse [various, NKJV] places. The following are some of the great earthquakes noted about that time: in Crete, about A.D. 51; in Phrygia, in 53; in Laodicea, in 60; the Campania, in 58; in Jerusalem, in 67; at Pompeii, in 63. 
and there shall be famines. Threatening massive death in its own right. [rw]
and troubles. [These words] are omitted in the best [Greek] text. Luke adds, "and pestilences." These are true signs; but they are preliminary signs, not final. 
these are the beginnings of sorrows. Literally, "The beginning of birth pangs are these." Nor yet is the end of the birth pangs, not yet is the end of the preliminary signs and sorrows. 
Weymouth: "You yourselves must be on your guard. They will deliver you up to Sanhedrins; you will be brought into synagogues and cruelly beaten; and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to be witnesses to them for me.
WEB: But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them.
Young’s: 'And take ye heed to yourselves, for they shall deliver you up to sanhedrims, and to synagogues, ye shall be beaten, and before governors and kings ye shall be set for my sake, for a testimony to them;
Conte (RC): But see to yourselves. For they will hand you over to councils, and in the synagogues you will be beaten, and you shall stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony for them.
13:9 But take heed to [watch out for, NKJV] yourselves. [This] is not a caution to keep out of danger but a warning against thoughtless and unworthy actions. 
Alternate interpretations: Be cautious that no man deceive you; or take care of your lives, not to run into unnecessary danger. 
The disciples were to keep watch on themselves lest the temptations which are about to be named should overcome them. 
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 and for a testimony against them. "All this was exactly accomplished; for Peter and John were called before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:6-7); James and Peter before Herod (Acts 12:2-3); and Paul before Nero, as well as before the Roman governors, Gallio, Felix, and Festus (Acts 18:12; 24:25-28)" (Doddridge). 
councils. Jewish courts (as in Acts 4:5-6, 15). 
The council was the local court attached to the synagogue, which had power in cases of religious offense (cf. Matthew 5:22). 
in the synagogues ye shall be beaten. The beating “in synagogues" is illustrated in Acts 22:19 and 26:11, Saul of Tarsus having a hand in the work--Thus far the persecution is Jewish, but the words that follow point to similar testimony before Gentile authorities. 
"Of the Jews," says Paul (2 Corinthians 11:24), "five times received I forty stripes save one": "thrice was I beaten with rods." 
rulers. Gentile rulers, such as the governor of Roman provinces (Acts 18:12). 
Compare Paul before Felix and Festus (Acts 24, 25). 
kings. The Roman tetrarchs are sometimes called kings. Paul stood before Felix (Acts 24:10-22), Festus (Acts 25:1-11), Agrippa (Acts 26:1-23), Nero (2 Timothy 4:16). The general persecution of Christians in later times, under Nero, in which Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom, may also be alluded to. 
for My sake. It is not persecution, but persecution for Christ's sake that is predicted: a distinction with a difference which fanatics fail to perceive. 
In depth: The reason for the repetition of teaching in this section delivered on another occasion to the disciples . The predictions contained in verses 9-13 have an almost exact verbal parallel in Matthew 10:17-22, where all of them are found except the one in verse 11 that "the gospel must first be published among all nations." In that place Jesus was addressing His disciples concerning their future labors as apostles. It is not a mistake in Mark to reproduce these predictions here; for doubtless Jesus Himself reproduced them because they were as well suited to this discourse as to that.
Weymouth: But the proclamation of the Good News must be carried to all the Gentiles before the End comes.
WEB: The Good News must first be preached to all the nations.
Young’s: and to all the nations it behoveth first that the good news be proclaimed.
Conte (RC): And the Gospel must first be preached to all nations.
13:10 And the gospel must first be published [preached, NKJV]. Jesus, though expecting death, was also looking to the world-wide proclamation of the gospel. The rejection of Him y the nation and the overthrow of the temple meant, not the defeat of the kingdom of God, but its establishment for all nations. 
This preaching of the gospel among all nations was necessary not only for the Gentiles but for the Jews, who were scattered abroad, to give them a testimony and an opportunity. 
among all nations. This word concerning all nations is a step toward the great command written in Matthew 28:19. As to the fulfillment of this prediction, we find Paul affirming that the gospel is already known in “all the world" (Colossians 1:6; cf. Romans 1:8). He says, again, that it is “preached to every creature which is under heaven” (Colossians 1:23), and, as if in explicit reference to this prediction, “made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26). 
Paul reminds us (Romans 10:18), that “their sound is gone out into all lands and their words unto the ends of 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 principle parts and provinces of the then inhabited world. 
Weymouth: When however they are marching you along under arrest, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but speak what is given you when the time comes; for it will not be you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
WEB: When they lead you away and deliver you up, don't be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
Young’s: 'And when they may lead you, delivering up, be not anxious beforehand what ye may speak, nor premeditate, but whatever may be given to you in that hour, that speak ye, for it is not ye who are speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
Conte (RC): And when they have seized you and handed you over, do not consider in advance what to say. But whatever will be given you in that hour, say that. For you will not be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
13:11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought [do not worry, NKJV] beforehand. The command is not against reflection or suitable preparation, but against anxiety about the defense that must be made before the tribunal. 
neither do ye premeditate what you will speak. The Greek word rendered premeditate is the common phrase for committing to memory a speech, as opposed to extempore speaking. Compare Matthew 10:19-20, where the words occur as a portion of our Lord's charge to His twelve apostles. 
but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye. Don’t hold it back, don’t wonder whether to say it out loud. Divine power will be guiding you. [rw]
for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy GhostSpirit. There could be no more explicit promise that they should be under an infallible guidance. This was a most desirable and gracious aid. They were 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 Ghost. 
The Apostles were inspired men from the great day of Pentecost onwards. They were enabled by it to choose the truth before error, to teach the simple facts of the Gospel, in many cases to do miracles and utter prophecies and constantly to be the infallible guides of the people. The gift of inspiration ceased with them, or soon after their age. 
Weymouth: "Brother will betray brother to be killed, and fathers will betray children; and children will rise against their parents and have them put to death.
WEB: "Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Young’s: 'And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and father child, and children shall rise up against parents, and shall put them to death,
Conte (RC): Then brother will betray brother to death, and the father, a son; and children will rise up against their parents and will bring about their death.
13:12 Now the brother shall betray the brother. i.e., report him as a Christian and enter complaint. 
to death. The implication seems to be that he does so even though he knows that death is probable or certain. To betray close kin is bad; to betray when you know they are going to be killed is an evil many times worse. [rw]
and the father the son and children shall rise up against their parents and shall cause them to be put to death. Compare Matthew 10:34-37. 
This extreme can be the consequences of loyalty to God. The fault, though, lies withn those who will not honor loyalty to God and on those who believe it is proper to execute those whom they can not answer. [rw]
Weymouth: You will be objects of universal hatred because you are called by my name, but those who stand firm to the End will be saved.
WEB: You will be hated by all men for my name's sake, but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved.
Young’s: and ye shall be hated by all because of my name, but he who hath endured to the end -- he shall be saved.
Conte (RC): And you will be hated by all for the sake of my name. But whoever will have persevered unto the end, the same will be saved.
13:13 And ye shall be hated. Bad men have been universally abhorred; but it was the Christianity of the early disciples, not their errors or personal faults, which called forth this hatred. Now, as then, the world often hates most what it is forced to respect and even to admire. 
of [by, NKJV] all men. "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." 
for My name's sake. It was exactly for this that they did suffer. Tertullian says, “We are tortured when we confess our crime, punished when we confess it, and set free when we deny it; for the strife is about a Name." 
but he that shall endure unto the end the same shall be saved. The reference is primarily, in this case, to the destruction of Jerusalem. But for the individual, “the end” is the day of his death; for the Church, it is the advent of Christ, the end of all things. 
Weymouth: "As soon, however, as you see the Abomination of Desolation standing where he ought not" --let the reader observe these words--"then let those in Judaea escape to the hills;
WEB: But when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,
Young’s: 'And when ye may see the abomination of the desolation, that was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (whoever is reading let him understand), then those in Judea, let them flee to the mountains;
Conte (RC): Then, when you have seen the abomination of desolation, standing where it ought not to be, let the reader understand: then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
13:14 But when ye shall see. He tells them how they may secure their own safety. 
the abomination of desolation. The phrase refers to “abominations, which shall be the desolator,” the coming of which to the sanctuary (where the sacrifice is offered) is prophesied. Most of the Jews applied the original prophecy to the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes (compare 1 Macc. 1:54), who set up there an idol statue of Jupiter. Our Lord points to a fulfillment, then future. The favorite interpretation refers it to the Roman eagles, so hateful to the Jews, and worshipped as idols by the soldiers, the standards of those who desolated the temple. This is favored by the addition in Luke's account (21:20): "but when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies."
Others refer it to some desecration of the temple by the Jewish zealots under the pretence of defending it, which occurred at the same time with the approach of the first Roman army (under Cestius, A.D. 66) against Jerusalem. This makes Luke's account refer to an external sign and those of Matthew and Mark to the internal sign, an abomination committed by the Jews themselves, which should fill up the cup of their iniquity. But it is not certain that such a desecration by the zealots took place at that time, and the sign for the flight (verse 16) was to be a definite and marked one. 
spoken of by Daniel the prophet. This phrase is omitted in many manuscripts. It is found in Matthew, however. The reference is generally held to be Daniel 9:27, but Calvin stoutly disputes this, and thinks it refers to Daniel 11:11. 
standing where it ought not. This is less definite than “in the holy place” (Matthew). The near approach of the Roman army is probably meant. The Roman eagles, rising on the heights over against the temple, were the sign of the fall of the city. In fact they stood on the Mount of Olives, "the holy place," in a higher Christian sense, where our Lord was now teaching and whence He ascended. The other view of internal desecration refers the phrase to the temple. 
(let him that readeth understand). This is parenthetical, commonly read as a remark of Jesus meaning, “Let him that readeth the book of Daniel understand it, so as to make this application of his language;” but it is better read as a remark of the evangelist meaning: "Let him that readeth this forewarning from the Lord understand it, and be ready, when the sign appears, to act upon the accompanying command."
During the progress of these signs, until the last one should be seen, the Lord had commanded to His disciples nothing but brave endurance; but the last sign was to be to them the signal for flight. Therefore it was especially important that this sign should be recognized and understood. 
Let them that be in Judaea. The geographic limitation argues that these will be the ones most in danger—not necessarily exclusively, but still the most. [rw]
flee to the mountains. But not to the mountains of Judaea, for those were already occupied by the Roman army, but those further off, beyond Jordan. 
The Christians in Judea accordingly fled to Pella over the mountains in Perea, and were safe in all those days of horror. 
Weymouth: let him who is on the roof not come down and enter the house to fetch anything out of it;
WEB: and let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter in, to take anything out of his house.
Young’s: and he upon the house-top, let him not come down to the house, nor come in to take anything out of his house;
Conte (RC): And let whoever is on the rooftop not descend to the house, nor enter so as to take anything from the house.
13:15 And let him that is on the housetop. The houses were flat-roofed, and Christians might be on the roofs of their houses for prayer (Acts 10:9), for rest, or for observation. In some cases there were outside stairs, and the roofs of adjacent houses were sometimes connected, so that the nearest way to flee might be across the roof of another house. 
not go down into the house. Extreme haste is enjoined; and being hindered by motives of selfishness or convenience is prohibited. 
The words mean that he must flee suddenly, if he would save his life, even though he might lose his goods. 
neither enter thein to take any thing out of his house. It is not entrance into the house, in itself, that is prohibited, but entering "to take anything out." 
Weymouth: and let not him who is in the field turn back to pick up his outer garment.
WEB: Let him who is in the field not return back to take his cloak.
Young’s: and he who is in the field, let him not turn to the things behind, to take up his garment.
Conte (RC): And let whoever may be in the field not return to take his garment.
13:16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up to take up his garment [to get his clothes, NKJV]. This was the outer garment. 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 labour. 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." 
Weymouth: And alas for the women who at that time are with child or have infants!
WEB: But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babies in those days!
Young’s: 'And woe to those with child, and to those giving suck, in those days;
Conte (RC): But woe to those who are pregnant or nursing in those days.
13:17 But woe to them that are with child. These words express strong pity for those mothers, whose situation would prevent their fleeing from the dread calamity, when they saw the signs of its approach. 
For an adult to get away unnoticed would be difficult; trying to bring a worried, upset, and even terrified child would make the task infinitely more difficult. [rw]
And to them that give suck in those days! Hard enough with young children; having a nursing child would escalate the risk vastly higher: will a baby stay quiet while people are searching nearby and will kill whoever they find? [rw]
Weymouth: "But pray that it may not come in the winter.
WEB: Pray that your flight won't be in the winter.
Young’s: and pray ye that your flight may not be in winter,
Conte (RC): Truly, pray that these things may not happen in winter.
13:18 And pray ye. Although the calamity was revealed to them as sure to come, and they need not pray for its aversion, they might pray and should pray as to what was not declared, that there should not be added the aggravation of sufferings from a “flight in the winter," "neither on the Sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20), since it would be a trial to be compelled to break the letter of the law. 
that your flight be not in the winter. Our Lord 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. 
The sign given by the Lord for the flight--the [surrounding] of the city by the Romans, and the panic that caused their sudden withdrawal--occurred on Tuesday in October. Hence the flight was neither in the winter nor on the Sabbath day. 
Weymouth: For those will be times of suffering the like of which has never been from the first creation of God's world until now, and assuredly never will be again;
WEB: For in those days there will be oppression, such as there has not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be.
Young’s: for those days shall be tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the creation that God created, till now, and may not be;
Conte (RC): For those days shall have such tribulations as have not been since the beginning of the creation that God founded, even until now, and shall not be.
13:19 For in those days shall be affliction [tribulation, NKJV], such as was not been from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time. The sufferings of the Jewish nation in the siege of A.D. 70 were terrible beyond belief. 
Josephus declares of the calamities attending the fall of Jerusalem, in almost the words of this prophecy: "the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to those of the Jews, are not so terrible as theirs were," "nor did any age ever produce a generation more fruitful in wickedness, from the beginning of the world." 
The siege began at the time of the Passover feast, when the city was crowded. Internal dissensions combined with the scarcity of food to multiply the horrors. One woman of rank, named Mary, killed and roasted her own babe (cf. Deuteronomy 28:53, 56-57), and was discovered only by those who sought to rob her of food; yet even they shrank back at the sight. The resistance to the Romans was fanatical, despite the bloody discord within the city. When at last it was successfully stormed by Titus, the rage of the Roman soldiers, raised to the utmost by the stubborn resistance, was permitted to wreak itself unchecked upon the inhabitants. The sword made the whole city run with blood; while crucifixions by way of jest were very frequent. Eleven hundred thousand persons perished; the remainder were sold into slavery or distributed throughout the Roman provinces to be destroyed by wild beasts. 
neither shall be. Except, of course, in the case now mentioned. 
Weymouth: and but for the fact that the Lord has cut short those days, no one would escape; but for the sake of His own People whom He has chosen for Himself He has cut short the days.
WEB: Unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved; but for the sake of the chosen ones, whom he picked out, he shortened the days.
Young’s: and if the Lord did not shorten the days, no flesh had been saved; but because of the chosen, whom He did choose to Himself, He did shorten the days.
Conte (RC): And unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would be saved. But, for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened the days.
13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days. Unless God had limited the period of disaster. 
no flesh should be [would be, NKJV] saved. Such destruction of life as that of the six month's siege, had it continued much longer, would have left none for captivity and no inhabitants in the land. As the Christians had escaped from the region of danger, they are probably not included in the scope of this language. 
but for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days. Here, the believers in Christ who are concerned in these troubles--i.e., the Jewish Christians. 
In depth: Ways in which the length of the siege of Jerusalem was shortened . Various causes did combine to shorten the siege of Jerusalem so that the Christians in the neighboring place of refuge were not so much exposed. These causes were:
(1) Herod Agrippa had begun to fortify the walls of Jerusalem against any attack, but was stopped by orders from Claudius about A.D. 42 or 43.
(2) The Jews, being divided into factions, had totally neglected any preparations against the siege.
(3) The magazines of corn and provision were just burned before the arrival of Titus.
(4) Titus arrived suddenly and the Jews voluntarily abandoned parts of the fortification.
(5) Titus himself confessed that he owed his victory to God, who took the fortifications of the Jews.
(6) It was not the original intention to storm the place, but events at Rome made it necessary that Titus should hasten back and he therefore adopted this method of shortening the siege.
Weymouth: "At that time if any one says to you, 'See, here is the Christ!' or 'See, He is there!' do not believe it.
WEB: Then if anyone tells you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, there!' don't believe it.
Young’s: And then, if any may say to you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Lo, there, ye may not believe;
Conte (RC): And then, if anyone will have said to you: 'Behold, here is the Christ. Behold, in that place.' Do not believe it.
13:21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, He is there. Not even then are they to expect the Christ to return. Anyone who announces His return is a false prophet announcing a false Christ. 
believe him not. For there was to be no visible appearance of the Son of Man in connection with the downfall of Jerusalem. 
Weymouth: For there will rise up false Christs and false prophets, displaying signs and prodigies with a view to lead astray--if indeed that were possible--even God's own People.
WEB: For there will arise false christs and false prophets, and will show signs and wonders, that they may lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones.
Young’s: for there shall rise false Christs and false prophets, and they shall give signs and wonders, to seduce, if possible, also the chosen;
Conte (RC): For false Christs and false prophets will rise up, and they will present signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if it were possible, even the elect.
13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise. 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 pretence of defending the city, but really that they might plunder it. 
and shall shew signs and wonders. If we interpret literally, taking the word "show” in its ordinary sense, this will mean that these impostors will actually perform miracles. But so great is the improbability that such power would be given to deceivers for the purpose of deception, that it is better to understand this language a describing what they would profess to do. Of such Paul speaks as coming “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). 
to seduce [deceive, NKJV]. Every age has produced its crop of such deceivers. Sometimes the idiosyncrasies in them which show themselves in lying wonders are the results 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 intent to lead astray, although it may have had its origin in self-deceit. 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 skeptical philosophy, or in the secret chambers of heresy, believe them not." 
if it were possible, even the elect. Whether or not successful in this, Christ leaves an open question for the future to decide. 
Alternate (and far less likely) interpretation: Equivalent to a positive declaration that it is not possible, i.e., to lead them away from Christ after an imposter. 
Weymouth: But as for yourselves, be on your guard: I have forewarned you of everything.
WEB: But you watch. "Behold, I have told you all things beforehand.
Young’s: and ye, take heed; lo, I have foretold you all things.
Conte (RC): Therefore, you must take heed. Behold, I have foretold all to you.
13:23 But take ye heed. Implying that these predictions would have a fulfillment in their day. 
behold, I have foretold you all things. He affirmed that He had told them enough so that they could know whenever the day was approaching (Hebrews 10:25). The first question (verse 4), "When shall these things be?" has not yet been answered; but the second, "What shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?" has been answered. 
Weymouth: "At that time, however, after that distress, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not shed her light;
WEB: But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light,
Young’s: 'But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
Conte (RC): But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her splendor.
13:24 But in those days. No hearer of this language would think of any time but that next following the tribulation of Jerusalem described. If our Lord referred to any other period, there must have been a large omission of important matter before these words in Mark's report, or else there must have been some unrecorded emphasis or gesture that would give to His words the meaning. But it is artificial and arbitrary to suppose such an unrecorded element in our Lord's discourse. Mark can scarcely have understood Him to point away to some new and distinct period without indicating it in His words. 
after that tribulation. Verses 24-27 speak of the awful disasters to the nation which will follow the overthrow of the city, and of the coming of Christ in power. The language is highly figurative, closely resembling that which the prophets often used to describe similar events. On verses 24-25 see Isaiah 13:10; 34:4; Ezekiel 32:7, 8; Amos 8:9. On verse 26 see especially Daniel 7:13. 
the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. Those who limit the application of the discourse to the fall of Jerusalem and events immediately connected therewith explain the expressions of this verse and the following figuratively, of political changes and revolutions. Yet they fail to find anything of such external grandeur or of such great moral force as is commensurate with the strong language here used. 
In depth: Expect conceptual fulfillment not literal ? In English prose this language would describe not only astronomical wonders, but astronomical impossibilities; but not so in Hebrew prophecy, to which the hearers would instantly perceive that our Lord was alluding. The imagery of these verses is the familiar prophetic imagery of destruction, especially of national destruction. Readers trained in modern science find it puzzling and inexplicable: but hearers trained in the language of prophecy would instantly perceive that it was the imagery of national overthrow, the extinguishing of the luminaries of heaven corresponding well with the destruction of all that is great and glorious in national life. Such hearers would never think of looking for the fulfillment of this prediction in the realm of physical nature; they would understand our Lord to say that Jerusalem and the Jewish nation must follow in the way of Babylon, Egypt, and Idumaea, and be utterly destroyed.
Hence it is not necessary or possible to point out what calamities corresponded to each symbolic prediction. Such predictions were never intended for literal fulfillment, for the simple reason that they are incapable of it. Plumtre's remark is true: "Our Lord speaks here in language as essentially apocalyptic as that of St. John (Revelation 8:12) and it lies in the very nature of such language that it precludes a literal interpretation."
Weymouth: the stars will be seen falling from the firmament, and the forces which are in the heavens will be disordered and disturbed.
WEB: the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.
Young’s: and the stars of the heaven shall be falling, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken.
Conte (RC): And the stars of heaven will be falling down, and the powers that are in heaven will be moved.
13:25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven will be shaken. By some understood to mean the heavenly host (or forces), an expression applied elsewhere both to the heavenly bodies and to angels. Others, with less probability, attach to it the abstract sense of physical forces, or the powers of nature, those mysterious influences by which the celestial motions and phenomena are caused and regulated. 
If applied in a then temporal contemporary setting, it would mean that the political/military “stars” that ruled everything would fail and the forces (“powers”) that normally governed them would falter. Think of the Year of Four Emperors that threw the Roman Empire into chaos. [rw]
Weymouth: And then will they see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
WEB: Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
Young’s: 'And then they shall see the Son of Man coming in clouds with much power and glory,
Conte (RC): And then they shall see the Son of man arriving on the clouds, with great power and glory.
13:26 And then shall they see. Against the figurative sense of this verse may be urged the import of this phrase, but it may be a sufficient reply that in this grand poetic scene, as in the prophetic visions, everything is represented as visible, all the commotions of the heavenly bodies and earthly elements, although they represent to a great extent social and moral changes. 
the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. The impending event [verses 24-25] is, in its relations with the future, the coming of the Son of Man. But this coming cannot be conceived of as an instantaneous event. It did not consist in the destruction of Jerusalem. In no sense was it an event universally recognizable by men and estimated by them at its true importance. No great movement of the kingdom of God has been so recognized and estimated. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." The "coming” of which Jesus spoke was the placing of His new kingdom in the world free from all restraints and hindrances of the old dispensation. After the fall of Jerusalem, which was the fall of the old dispensation, the world was open and free to the spiritual kingdom of Christ, and His spiritual powers had the field to themselves, uncontradicted by any opposing system that claimed to represent the same God. 
Alternate interpretations: [This occurs] either at the calamities attending the fall of Jerusalem, if the figurative view of verse 24 is accepted; or near the end of the world, if the literal view be taken. 
in the clouds. So the angels said to the apostles at the Ascension (Acts 1:11); and Daniel foresaw Him coming with the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13-14). 
Weymouth: Then He will send forth the angels and gather together His chosen People from north, south, east and west, from the remotest parts of the earth and the sky.
WEB: Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.
Young’s: and then he shall send his messengers, and gather together his chosen from the four winds, from the end of the earth unto the end of heaven.
Conte (RC): And then he will send his Angels, and gather together his elect, from the four winds, from the limits of the earth, to the limits of heaven.
13:27 And then shall He send His angels. The word “angels” commonly designates those heavenly beings who appear as attendants of Jehovah in the manifestations of His presence and are ministering spirits to His people (Hebrews 1:14); but sometimes, especially in poetic or prophetic language, it includes all messengers (which is the meaning of “angels") and all forms of agencies proceeding from Himself, through which God accomplishes His purposes. The latter sense, of course, embraces “angels” in the restricted sense. 
The consequence of this coming [of Christ, vs. 26] is to be the gathering of His chosen into His kingdom. "His angels” are not necessarily one class of beings alone, as Gabriel and Michael: they may be His messengers of every kind, human and superhuman, “ministers of His, that do His pleasure." John the Baptist is the "angel” of Mal. 3:1. Matthew adds that they shall be sent out, not "with a great sound of trumpet," which language we owe to the translators, but "with a great trumpet,” which must certainly be understood and the symbol of proclamation. The mention of the trumpet and the gathering of His people together would promptly remind the hearers of the Septuagint of Isaiah 27:12-13; Zechariah 2:6; Deuteronomy 30:4. In all these passages the gathering of God's people to Him is spoken of, and all in this world.
and shall gather together His elect. The prediction seems to be that by means of their proclamation the messengers of Christ shall gather His elect into the kingdom that He has now founded on the ruins of Judaism. (Observe the close resemblance of Revelation 14:6-7). 
from the four winds, from the uttermost [farthest, NKJV] part of heaven. The field from which His chosen are to be gathered shall be world-wide, now that Jerusalem, with its Jewish restrictions is gone. 
Weymouth: "Learn from the fig-tree the lesson it teaches. As soon as its branch has become soft and it is bursting into leaf, you know that summer is near
WEB: "Now from the fig tree, learn this parable. When the branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near;
Young’s: 'And from the fig-tree learn ye the simile: when the branch may already become tender, and may put forth the leaves, ye know that nigh is the summer;
Conte (RC): Now from the fig tree discern a parable. When its branch becomes tender and the foliage has been formed, you know that summer is very near.
13:28 Now learn a parable of [from, NKJV] the fig tree. The thought is parabolically set forth: "Learn the nearness of the great event as you learn the nearness of the summer from the opening foliage of the fig tree." On the morning of the previous day they had seen a fig tree in leaf just there on the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:13). 
when her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near. One of our Lord's numerous appeals, not only to the processes of nature, but to the business and experience of common life, to illustrate moral truth. 
Weymouth: So also do you, when you see these things happening, be sure that He is near, at your very door.
WEB: even so you also, when you see these things coming to pass, know that it is near, at the doors.
Young’s: so ye, also, when these ye may see coming to pass, ye know that it is nigh, at the doors.
Conte (RC): So also, when you will have seen these things happen, know that it is very near, even at the doors.
13:29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see. They themselves, the first hearers, therefore, were to expect to see them. 
these things come to pass. i.e., these that have been specified as signs. 
know that it is nigh, even at the doors. The subject of “is nigh [near]" is indeterminate. Some translate “He is near” and some “it is nigh." The phrase "at the doors” favors the former, since a person rather than an event, is said to be t the doors. Similar language occurs in James 5:9: "Behold, the Judge standeth before the door." As the fig leaves assured them of the approach of summer, so these signs were to certify the disciples that Christ was “at the doors” ready to enter in His “coming." 
Weymouth: I tell you in solemn truth that the present generation will certainly not pass away without all these things having first taken place.
WEB: Most certainly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen.
Young’s: Verily I say to you, that this generation may not pass away till all these things may come to pass;
Conte (RC): Amen I say to you, that this lineage shall not pass away, until all these things have happened.
13:30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass. i.e., the men now living. That this is the natural sense of the word genea, "generation,” all admit; but from the idea that there was no true fulfillment of this prediction within the generation then living, it has been supposed that some other meaning must be found for the word here. Some have made it mean, “The human race shall not cease to exist till all these things are done"--an interpretation that condemns itself; others, “This class of people"--namely, the elect or the believers on Christ, the class that has just been mentioned; others, very numerous, “This nation, the Jewish people, shall not cease to exist as a separate race till all these things are done." But this is an unnatural use of the word, which has no valid support in Greek usage, only approximate parallels having been found, and which nothing but perplexity would ever have suggested here.
Others, recognizing a partial fulfillment in that generation, but only an incomplete and suggestive one, try to find a second application in the future—an interpretation that can scarcely be so stated in brief as to do justice to the intention of those who hold it.
Others seek to confine the application to “that” generation (not “this") which shall be living at the second advent.
All these are attempts to escape the difficulty, but they introduce a greater difficulty than they avoid: they destroy the naturalness and intelligibility of our Saviour's speech. There is no way to deal justly with the passage but to give the words their natural sense. It is never necessary to adapt the language of our Lord to our systems of interpretation. It rather becomes us to adapt our systems to His language. 
till all these things be done. So far at least, the prophecy is looking at short-term events. The nearness language is qualified by the events happening in “this generation,” arguing that it should not be taken in any other sense. The shift from short to far distant events begins in the next verse, which contrasts the destruction of the temple (with the signs that would show it was coming closer and thereby its approach is knowable) with the bodily return of Jesus whose timing knows “neither the Son, but the Father” alone (13:32) and which disciples would “know not when the time is” (13:33)—in profound contrast to the death kneel on the Temple. [rw]
Weymouth: Earth and sky will pass away, but it is certain that my words will not pass away.
WEB: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Young’s: the heaven and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Conte (RC): Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.
13:31 Heaven and earth shall 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). 
but My words shall not pass away. Not merely the words 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. 
This utterance, He says, like all His utterances, is more to be trusted than the order of nature. That order is changeable and will ultimately be changed, but His words are of unchangeable validity. It is not so much the everlasting duration of His doctrine that is here asserted as the absolute certainty of His predictions: "What I say will be found true, more surely than heaven and earth shall stand." (Cf. Isaiah 51:6; 54:9-10; Jeremiah 31:35-37; Psalms 102:24-27; Hebrews 1:10-12). 
Weymouth: "But as to that day or the exact time no one knows--not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
WEB: But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Young’s: 'And concerning that day and the hour no one hath known -- not even the messengers who are in the heaven, not even the Son -- except the Father.
Conte (RC): But concerning that day or hour, no one knows, neither the Angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
13:32 But of that day and hour. The day and hour referred to can be no other than the day and hour of the chief event among those last mentioned, the coming of the Son of man. The disciples were to know by the signs given, when it would be near, but not exactly when it would be. 
knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven. [This] is not to be construed as implying that angels have some foreknowledge; for the same is said of man that is said of the angels, and we know that foreknowledge, even in part, is not implied concerning man. 
neither the Son, but the Father. It is plainly affirmed that Christ did not know the day and hour of His future coming. The explanations that Christ did not know this “officially: or the sense: did not choose to tell the disciples, are make-shifts. This seems to be a voluntary self-humiliation in knowledge, a part of Christ's emptying of Himself (Philippians 2:8). Christ could, of course, not lay aside in the incarnation, the metaphysical attributes of His divine nature, such as eternity, but He could, be an act of His will, limit His attributes of power and His knowledge and refrain from their use as far as it was necessary. His voluntarily not knowing, or “sacred unwillingness to know,” the day of judgment during the days of His flesh, is a warning against chronological curiosity and mathematical calculation in the exposition of Scripture prophecy. 
Or: He who as Son of God possesses with the Father and the Holy Spirit the Divine attribute of omniscience, condescended as Son of Man to acquire during His earthly life only such installments of knowledge (Luke 2:52) as were consistent with a creaturely form of existence (Philippians 2:6-7). The knowledge of the time of the Last Advent being wholly unnecessary to the Church, was not communicated to Him, its Head. The main thing to remember as to this limitation is that it was voluntary on our Lord's part--a self-emptying for the purposes of His mission to our fallen race. 
Weymouth: Take care, be on the alert, and pray; for you do not know when it will happen.
WEB: Watch, keep alert, and pray; for you don't know when the time is.
Young’s: Take heed, watch and pray, for ye have not known when the time is;
Conte (RC): Take heed, be vigilant, and pray. For you do not know when the time may be.
13:33 Take ye heed. Be upon your guard. 
watch. Watch, in both [the English and Greek] languages originally means to be awake, not to sleep, but with the accessory notion, which has now become the principal, of being on one's guard or looking out for danger. 
and pray. Implying, as in verse 18, that neither watchfulness nor caution is sufficient to avert the danger here in question without a special divine interposition, and that this can only be obtained by asking. 
for ye know not when the time is. Not, be always expecting what will come unexpectedly, nor be seeking to know what cannot be known, but be always in the state of readiness, because of the uncertainty. 
Weymouth: It is like a man living abroad who has left his house, and given the management to his servants--to each one his special duty--and has ordered the porter to keep awake.
WEB: "It is like a man, traveling to another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, and to each one his work, and also commanded the doorkeeper to keep watch.
Young’s: as a man who is gone abroad, having left his house, and given to his servants the authority, and to each one his work, did command also the porter that he may watch;
Conte (RC): It is like a man who, setting out on a sojourn, left behind his house, and gave his servants authority over every work, and instructed the doorkeeper to stand watch.
13:34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey. Here, under the figure of a man who starts on a journey to some distant place, leaving his servants each his work to do, Jesus indicates plainly His own departure from the earth, and teaches the lesson which naturally springs from the previously stated uncertainty as to the day of His return. Each must be always busily engaged at his proper work, that the Master may so find them when He returns. 
who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work. So that the authority with which they were collectively entrusted was not to exempt them individually from the necessity of work or labour. 
and commanded the porter [doorkeeper, NKJV] to watch. It is implied that he bids him be vigilant, because it is uncertain or unknown when he himself will return. Thus, Jesus compares the present exhortation to the parting warning of the householder. 
Weymouth: Be wakeful therefore, for you know not when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at cock-crow, or at dawn.
WEB: Watch therefore, for you don't know when the lord of the house is coming, whether at evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning;
Young’s: watch ye, therefore, for ye have not known when the lord of the house doth come, at even, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or at the morning;
Conte (RC): Therefore, be vigilant, for you do not know when the lord of the house may arrive: in the evening, or in the middle of the night, or at first light, or in the morning.
13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh. In the temple the priest whose duty it was to superintend the night sentinels of the Levitical guard, might at any moment knock at the door and demand entrance. "He came suddenly and unexpectedly, no one knew when. The Rabbis use almost the very words in which Scripture describes the unexpected coming of the Master, when they say, Sometimes he came at the cockcrowing, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later. He came and knocked, and they opened to him." Mishnah, Tamid, i. 1, 2, quoted in Edersheim's The Temple and Its Services. 
at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning. He may come in any of the four watches of the night. In the four watches of the night there is no allusion to four periods of history, or to times of greater or less spiritual darkness. This was simply a vivid picture of the responsibility that would be upon the disciples after the departure of their Master. 
Weymouth: Beware lest He should arrive unexpectedly and find you asleep.
WEB: lest coming suddenly he might find you sleeping.
Young’s: lest, having come suddenly, he may find you sleeping;
Conte (RC): Otherwise, when he will have arrived unexpectedly, he may find you sleeping.
13:36 Lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. In these verses the parable is applied and yet the parabolic language is still kept up. As the apostles were to occupy a position in the Church more like that of the porter in the supposed castle, He tells them to keep watch all through the night, lest at any hour He should come and find them asleep. Let us not conclude that by watching is meant that we shall stand with folded hands looking into the sky for the coming of Jesus: this would be like the ancient porter, but this is the symbol and not the reality. We are rather to be diligently engaged, each about the work given him to do, and keep our eyes fixed on it; thus we will be most wisely watchful for the coming of our Master. 
sleeping. i.e., remiss in duty, inattentive to His commands, in a state of negligence. 
"During the night the 'captain of the temple' made his rounds. On his approach the guards had to rise and salute him in a particular manner. Any guard found asleep when on duty was beaten, or his garments were set on fire—a punishment, as we know, actually awarded."--Edersheim. 
Weymouth: Moreover, what I say to you I say to all--Be wakeful!"
WEB: What I tell you, I tell all: Watch."
Young’s: and what I say to you, I say to all, Watch.'
Conte (RC): But what I say to you, I say to all: Be vigilant."
13:37 And what I say unto I say unto all all. Lest the apostles should conclude that the parable applied exclusively to themselves, and lest others should fall into the same mistake, He says plainly that it applies to all. We may not live to see Him come, but we will be benefited none the less by watching, for our departure to Him will be the same in effect as His coming to us. 
Watch! The apostles, who alone hard the charge, were to communicate it to all, a fact which shows that we must not limit the discourse to one age or to one event. Its great practical design, summed up in this closing word, Watch!, was for all. The reason for watchfulness, as given by Luke (21:36), is "that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." To them, in every age, who are ready for the coming of their Lord, watching and praying, there shall be escape from every calamity, even the final judgment upon His enemies; and over death itself.