Monday, June 18, 2012

What About Mark 13?

If you are a Dispensationalist, I have a challenge for you. Read Mark 13 and explain the entire chapter verse-by-verse using only the context supplied by Mark.

Stay on target.

No bailing out to Matthew 24 or Revelation 20 or Daniel 9. Those are important texts that deserve their own treatment, but for this challenge, stick with Mark 13.

Stay on target.

Be disciplined to understand Mark 13 within the context of Mark 13, and you will reach the unavoidable conclusion that Mark’s version of the Olivet Discourse is all about the destruction of Jerusalem.

Stay on target.

Those who read Mark 13 and find the Second Coming or the Rapture or a Jewish Millennium are importing these into Mark 13. That’s called eisegesis. The context simply does not allow it.

Stay on target. Almost there.

What about Mark 13?


pastor_brad said...

Eric..I enjoy reading your blog. Brad Chandler from Richmond, MO. I have a question: what do you do with the so called prophetic texts of say Zech 13:6ff and others that seem to prophecy Israel becoming a nation state again? Also, what about Zech 12:10-14 which Dispensationalists use as a prooftext of Israel being saved at the Second Coming when they see Him who they have pierced? These two just puzzle me as how to respond. Maybe we can catch up as well.

Eric Adams said...

Brad, I was just thinking of you the other day! Things are crazy right now, but we should get together sometime soon.

Zechariah 12-14 is talking about the situation from Pentecost until the destruction of Jerusalem. Most people miss the significance of the Ascension, Pentecost, and AD 70.

Specifically, Zech 12:10-14 is when ethnic Jews see their city being destroyed by King Jesus (via the Roman army), and they realize their mistake, and they repent. I can't do justice to the details here.

My books are packed away right now, but you should get Mathison's "From Age to Age." You won't agree with everything, but it's a great reference to have at your disposal.

Jonathan Hunt said...

Help me out here. I'm not a dispensationalist but what on earth can Mark 13.26 mean apart from the second coming?

Eric Adams said...

Jonathan Hunt,

Great question about a commonly misunderstood verse!

Mark 13:26 is definitely not about the second coming. We know this because Jesus is quoting from Daniel 7:13, which is all about the ascension of Jesus.

You can read a couple of my brief summaries here:

dk said...

Being somewhat inclined towards a preterist understanding of much of prophetic scripture, I do not disagree with your ultimate conclusion regarding the Olivet discourse. Most of the Mark 13 prophetic statements can be readily linked to later historical events without resorting to some convoluted and mysterious interpretive approach.

However, there are some statements in Mark 13 that can be difficult to get our arms around, and I understand the tendency of people to see these as unfulfilled prophecy. Unfortunately, I think that the vast majority of people (including pastors and church leaders) are poorly versed in the historical events of the first century, and therefore are unable to see this linkage. Thus, they see these prophecies through clouded lenses as being unfinished and applicable to future events.

Anyway, I would disagree - or at least advise caution - with your approach of interpreting Mark 13 (or any scripture) solely within the context of that portion of scripture. I believe that scripture needs to be viewed as an integrated whole, and that dangerous heresies and false teachings are the result of such narrow interpretive context as you are proposing. I always like the phrase, "let scripture interpret scriputure", but also believe that we need to understand context not only in the text, but in the historical and cultural environment of the original writing. If we, for instance, should read 1 Timothy 2 without an understanding of the entirety of the scripture message, as well as its cultural and historical context, we would walk away with a very perverted view of the role of women in the church. (And of course many, many people and churches do this very thing with this scripture.)

I would suspect that you are not really advocating such narrow contextual interpretation, but are seeking to make a point regarding the dispensensationalist twisting of scripture to fit their prophetic perspective. But I still think it wise to avoid any such narrow understanding of context.

Eric Adams said...

dk, I'm not sure what you mean about 1 Tim 2, but I agree with your general point. My post is simply trying to get Dispensationalists to take the text and the context of Mark 13 seriously.

dk said...

Eric, my point about 1 Tim 2 is that if scripture is narrowly understood without benefit of the context of the entirety of scriptural/historical/cultural context, then it can be seriously contorted into bad doctrine.

erickinho1BRA said...

Can anyone even clearly define dispensationalism as a whole insted of jus progressive or traditional? It's confusing. And how does it clearly oppose covenant and new covenant theology?

Eric Adams said...

erickinho1BRA, in simplest terms:

1) Dispensationalists believe that Israel and the church are separate groups.

2) Covenant Theologians believe that Israel is the church, and that the church is Israel.

Aldo H said...

Hello brother,
I enjoyed your web site and just had to comment. I am not dispensationalist or non. God may or may not be treating man in diff ways thru history(Dispensations) but one thing is clear to this humble servant, when the bible speaks of the "church", thats what he means and when he speaks of Israel, that what he means. ***Your comments about Israel=church automatically take me to Romans 11. The distinction is clear. Paul speaks of the Jews, and the gentiles. One cannot substitute Israel/Jews for the church since the church includes Jews and Gentiles. The term church is only used in the New Testiment. We gentiles(not the "church")have been "grafted" onto the tree and the broken "off" branches are some of the Jews, not the all Jews. The Jews are still a distinct people and special to God. Please refer to Jer 31:35-36.

God Bless,
Aldo from Florida

Eric Adams said...

Aldo, your comments on Romans 11 are typical of a Dispensationalist. You might want to check out my other posts on Ecclesiology for a different perspective. Peace.

rachel said...

Well...dear Adam, I think we all know that you are NOT a dispenastionalist and WHY you are not. Sooo, tell us what you ARE and WHY? I am guessing here, but I THINK you adhere to covenant theology, so maaaaaybe you might write a matching number of blog posts supporting why you are so CONVINCED of it. You could even include some posts defending areas of covenant theology that people commonly take issue with.

rachel said...

:) Hey Adam, I think we all know that you are NOT a dispenastionalist and WHY you are not. Sooo, tell us what you ARE and WHY? I am guessing here, but I THINK you adhere to covenant theology, so maaaaaybe you might write a matching number of blog posts supporting why you are so CONVINCED of it. You could even include some posts defending areas of covenant theology that people commonly take issue with.

Eric Adams said...

Rachel, it's actually Eric, last name Adams. You are correct in that I have not argued for or against "covenant theology." That label comes with it's own baggage that I would like to explore at some point. If you peruse my previous posts, I have already written quite a bit about what I DO believe.

rachel said...

I have read your blog entirely and you definitely say here and there what you think. however, I guess they are not clearly labeled as such. That's what would be nice, instead of WHY you are not, posts on WHY YOU ARE.

rachel said...

Ps Eric! I'm really sorry about calling you Adam, hoping you'll let me off the hook this time:) cheers

Eric Adams said...

Rachel, That's a fair request. I always have a lot of writing ideas. It's just a matter of finding the time. I'll try to put some stuff together. Thanks!

Janice Scordato Rankins said...

I have heard two pastors preach through Mark (I know it's not a big number)but, both skipped chapter 13 and instead went to Mt 24 or Thessalonians. It shows that they are not comfortable with allowing the Scriptures speak for itself.

Joseph Hampton said...

Jesus came and collected his church, the righteous in the first century before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. John Wesley has a footnote in his New Testament version that the Christians left Jerusalem and went to Susa, Arabia when the Romans broke their siege by withdrawing the troops surrounding Jerusalem. Also read the historian Flavius Josephus, History of the Jews. Josephus, a Pharisee and Roman was General Titus, brother-in- law and he was there and witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem Many first century text give evidence that the second coming occurred between 30 AD and 70 AD the this generation that Jesus predicted would not pass away before all of these things come to pass. The end of the world means the end of Judaism and not the planet earth. The world will never end is in the Bible three times. Revelation is about the destruction of Jerusalem. It all happened in the first century and the truth is we are not living in the end times.