MARK 13:1-8: THE CONTEXT
Commentary on verses 1-8
MARK 13:9-13. THEY WILL DELIVER YOU UP
9 “But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up (paradidomi) to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them. 10 The Good News must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they lead you away and deliver you up (paradidomi), 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.
12 “Brother will deliver up (paradidomi) brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 13 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake, but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved.”
“But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up (paradidomi) to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues” (v. 9a). Mark repeatedly uses the word paradidomi (delivered up or handed over) in this section (vv. 9, 11-12).
Mark will also use the word paradidomai to speak of to speak of the betrayal of Jesus (3:19; 9:31; 14:21, 41) and his being handed over to the Gentiles (10:33). Like the disciples, Jesus will be delivered over to the authorities. Like some of the disciples, Jesus’ paradidomai will lead to his death in captivity.
“You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them” (v. 9b). There is bad news here. The disciples will be beaten in the synagogues. They will experience persecution—often severe. While Jesus doesn’t mention it here, we know that Stephen will become the first Christian martyr shortly after the founding of the church at Pentecost (Acts 7).
But there is good news here too—good news that trumps the bad news. The suffering of the disciples will be for a purpose—witnessing for Christ to rulers and kings who will be adjudicating the charges against the disciples. When these disciples are arrested, they will be ushered into high-level precincts where they would otherwise never have been invited. They will witness to rulers and kings who would otherwise never have heard the Gospel.
The book of Acts is replete with stories of Christians being arrested—and turning their arrests into opportunities to witness for Christ:
• Peter and John will be arrested, and will use that as an opportunity to witness to the high priest and other religious leaders at the highest levels (Acts 4).
• The high priest will arrest apostles, but God will free them to teach in the temple. Called before the council (the highest ruling body in Israel), Peter will refuse to obey an order to remain silent about Jesus, saying “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The council will have them flogged, but the apostles will count it an honor to suffer for Jesus’ sake (Acts 5:41).
• Stephen will be arrested and will appear before the council. He will use that as an opportunity to preach a lengthy sermon to the council, who will respond by making him the first Christian martyr (Acts 7).
• Paul and Silas will be arrested in Macedonia for exorcising a demon from a girl who was being exploited by her master. They will be severely flogged and thrown in prison—but God will use an earthquake to free them. When their captors realize that Paul and Silas are Roman citizens, they will apologize and release them (Acts 16:16-40).
• Paul will be arrested at the Jerusalem temple, and will use that as an opportunity to preach the Gospel (Acts 22:1-16).
• Paul will be arrested, and will use that as an opportunity to witness to the council (Acts 22:22 – 23:11).
• Paul will be arrested in Caesarea, and will use that as an opportunity to relate the Gospel to Felix, the governor (Acts 24).
• Paul will appeal to Caesar, and will use that as an opportunity to witness to Festus and Herod Agrippa (Acts 25-26).
• Imprisoned in Rome, Paul will witness to Jewish leaders (Acts 28:17-22)—and to the Roman citizenry, “preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, without hindrance” (Acts 28:23-31)
“The Good News (euangelion) must first be preached to all the nations” (ethne) (v. 10). The Greek word euangelion combines the words eu (good) and angellos (to proclaim—related to our word angel, because angels were God’s messengers).
In the New Testament, euangelion usually refers to the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ (as it does in this verse)—although it can also be used to speak of “The Gospel (euangelion) of Mark” (1:1)—meaning the account of Jesus’ life as written by Mark.
“to all the nations” (ethne). The Greek word ethnos means nation—a people distinct from other peoples. In the New Testament, it is usually used to refer to Gentiles (non-Jews). The point of this verse is that the Gospel is to be preached to everyone—to the whole world without distinctions of race or nationality or anything else.
“When they lead you away and deliver you up (paradidomi), 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” (v. 11). See the comments on verse 9 (above).
When we know that we are to appear before high-ranking authorities, we are typically anxious lest we say the wrong thing and precipitate an unfavorable ruling. We work hard to prepare, including practicing our speech. We try to anticipate questions and prepare for every contingency.
But Jesus tells us that such preparation is unnecessary for disciples who have been arrested or are suffering persecution for his sake. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, and Jesus assures us that the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to speak. We take care not to take this as an excuse for laziness, but must also rely on God to be our strength and salvation—and to provide the Holy Spirit to empower and guide us.
“Brother will deliver up (paradidomi) brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death” (v. 12). This verse pictures the worst kind of betrayal. It is one thing to be betrayed by one’s enemies, but it is entirely another thing to be betrayed by one’s own family. It is hard to imagine anything more hurtful.
We might be tempted to think of this verse as hyperbole—exaggerated language used to make a point. How could a father betray his child? How could a child cause his/her parents to be put to death? Is that really possible?
But early Christians lived in the kind of world where people could find Christianity so offensive that they would betray even their best friends or their family.
We see this today, too. Christians are being persecuted in huge numbers and with great severity around the world, especially in Muslim and Communist nations. Sadly, there are fathers who murder daughters who fail to adhere to strict Muslim standards. Many people feel obligated to betray Christian brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers. Such betrayals usually have severe consequences, and are too often fatal.
But oppressed people, Christian or not, are beginning to associate corrupt government with extremist Muslim leaders, and are beginning to reject Islam. Some of these oppressed people are open to hearing about Christ.
“You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake” (v. 13a). In Jesus’ day, people took names seriously—as a proxy for the person. To wear the name Christian was to invite trouble. In many places today, that is still true.
“but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved” (sozo) (v. 13b). The word sozo can mean healed or saved. In this context, it means saved. That could mean “delivered from one’s oppressors,” but it more likely refers to one’s eternal destiny.
In the end, God wins. Easter overcomes Good Friday—the open tomb overcomes the cross—and forgiveness overcomes sin.
SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.
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Copyright 2015, Richard Niell Donovan