John 12:1 indicates that this episode is “six days before the Passover,” which is four days prior to Mark 14:1, which takes place two days before the Passover. Mark 14:1–2 takes place on Wednesday of the Passion Week, and the next chronological event in Scripture is Judas’ conspiracy in Mark 14:10–11.
Mark gives no indication that his Gospel is always intended to be chronologically accurate from one story to the next. His purposes are sometimes theological in how He presents the life of Christ. In this instance, Mark intends to give a building sense of the certainty that Jesus will die at the hands of the Jews. The Jewish leaders conspire to kill Jesus (Mark 14:1–2), and the anticipation of Jesus’ death builds by recounting an earlier event, the woman’s anointing of Jesus with perfume (Mark 14:3–9). She prepares Him, as He says, for His burial (Mark 14:8).
Jumping back to the next event that chronologically follows Mark 14:1–2, the anticipation of Jesus’ death builds further in the record of Judas’s conspiracy to betray Jesus (Mark 14:10–11).
Also, Mark gives another one of his “sandwiches,” to make a subtle, unspoken point.
The subtle, unspoken point is that a woman without a name was willing to do more for Christ than those who should have recognized Him best (the leaders) and one who knew Him more than others at this time (Judas Iscariot). Conversely, the treachery of the Jewish leaders and the betrayal of Judas are all highlighted all the more for the horrific sins that they are.
When Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31), was He somehow saying that the Bible would be preserved?
In context, Jesus’ words in Mark 13:31 were verifying that all that would happen in Mark 13:3–30 would actually come to pass. Even if the universe were to pass away, the content of His words on the matter would not. The end-times events that He prophesied would actually come to pass.
Since Jesus was referring to His oral words in Mark 13:31, His statement does not directly teach anything about the preservation of God’s written words in Scripture. The Bible elsewhere, however, indeed teaches that God’s written words in Scripture will endure forever (Ps 119:152, 160), that is, that they will be preserved.
An indirect way to support the preservation of Scripture comes from Matthew 5:17–18. In that passage, Jesus spoke of the Mosaic Law with the same imagery seen in Mark 13:31. Not one jot or tittle (the smallest of Hebrew letters and markings) of the Law would pass away or be altered in some way unless existence itself ceased to be (cf. also Luke 16:17). Jesus’ point in Matthew 5:17–18 is that the Law could not be changed, implying its continued presence and authority. If the Law were to have a continued presence and authority, it can safely be assumed that it would be preserved in some way.
Having considered Matthew 5:17–18, we see that Jesus’ statement on the endurance of His words in Mark 13:31 effectively placed His words on the same level of Scripture itself and thus God Himself, which is obviously fitting because Jesus is God. What Jesus said would happen would happen, and nothing could change what He had promised. Likewise, what Scripture (and God) says is so, it is so, and nothing can change what Scripture says.
In short, Mark 13:31 does not speak about the written Word of God but the oral words of Jesus recorded earlier in Mark 13. But the written Word of God and the oral words of Jesus (some of which are recorded in Scripture) are indeed the same in that they are authoritative and cannot be changed or made void in any way.
The application of Mark 13:31 to Mark 13:3–30 is that we can fully expect that the events that Jesus prophesied will surely come to pass.
There are some similarities between the pretribulational rapture and post-tribulational gathering of the saints. For instance, trumpets are sounded (pre: 1 Cor 15:52; post: Matt 24:31;), and a resurrection takes place (pre: 1 Thess 4:16; post: Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2; Rev 20:5). Despite these similarities, however, there a number of differences between these two events, indicating that they are indeed two separate events. Though more could be added, here are at least some of the primary differences between the pretribulational rapture and post-tribulational gathering of the saints.
Jesus rescues believers before wrath takes place. See 1 Thess 1:10; 5:2, 9; cf. Rev 3:10–11, 13.
The rapture is imminent (Phil 3:20; Titus 2:13; Rev 22:7, 13, 20).
The saints are glorified and join Christ in the air (1 Thess 4:17).
Jesus takes believers from earth to escape before the Tribulation (1 Thess 4:13–5:11; 2 Thess 2:1–12; cf. Dan 9:27).
The rapture of the church was unrevealed and thus a mystery in the OT (1 Cor 15:52).
Resurrection at the rapture brings believers from the church era to Jesus in the air (1 Thess 4:17).
Jesus rescues believers after wrath takes place (Mark 13:24–27).
This gathering is after a set of events (Matt 24:3–31; Mark 13:3–27; Luke 21:5–28).
The saints who have been glorified follow Christ to earth (Rev 19:14; cf. 19:7–8).
Jesus takes unbelievers from earth to experience judgment at the end of the Tribulation (Matt 24:39–40; 25:31–46; Luke 17:34–37).
The gathering at the end of the tribulation was revealed and prophesied in the OT (Deut 30:3–4; Jer 32:37; Ezek 34:11–13; 36:24).
Resurrection after the Tribulation brings believers from the OT and Tribulation eras to Jesus after the Tribulation (Isa 26:19–21; Dan 12:2; Rev 20:4–6; cf. 19:11–21).
The chronology below understands the “sevens” in Dan 9:24–27 to be future sets of seven years, each of which is a year of 360 days (cf. Gen 7:11, 24; 8:3–4; Rev 11:2–3; 12:6; 13:5). The Bible gives some historical markers that we can use to match and date its events fairly accurately with historical sources. Even the best of conservative biblical scholars find some of the dates below difficult to pinpoint, though any inaccuracies are limited to perhaps a year or so.
1095 BC: Israel began to neglect every seventh year of rest for the land for 490 years. See Dan 1:1; 9:1–2; Jer 25:11–12; 29:10; cf. Lev 25:1–7; 2 Chron 36:20–21.
605 BC: Daniel is taken captive. This captivity lasts 70 years to match Israel's negligence of years of Sabbath rest. See Dan 1:1; 9:1–2; Jer 25:11–12; 29:10; cf. Lev 25:1–7; 2 Chron 36:20–21.
539 BC: Daniel reads Jeremiah's prophecy about the 70-year captivity, 66 years into this captivity. Gabriel tells Daniel of Israel's future events to take place over 490 years (not all of which are consecutive). See Dan 9:1–2, 20–27.
538 BC: Bringing an end to Daniel's Jeremiah's prophesied 70 years of captivity, the Persian Cyrus decrees the Jews may return to Israel. Zerubbabel led some of the Jews back to inhabit Jerusalem by about 536 BC. See Ezra 1:1; cf. Ezra 1–6; Jer 25:11–12; 29:10.
445 BC: Nehemiah leads more Jews back to Israel. He carries with him letters of authorization to rebuild Jerusalem. The first 49 of 490 years begins here (7 “sevens”). See Dan 9:25; Neh 2:1–8.
396 BC: After the 49 years end and Jerusalem is partially rebuilt, Jerusalem continues to be rebuilt for the next 434 years (62 “sevens”). Unlike the first 49 years, Gabriel describes these 434 years as "a troubled time." See Dan 9:25.
5 BC: The traditional date given by conservative biblical scholars for the birth of Jesus is 4 or 5 BC. AD 30: The traditional years given by conservative biblical scholars for the ministry of Jesus is AD 30 to 33, approximately ages 35 to 38 for Jesus (cf. Luke 3:23, ministry begins not exactly but "about thirty years of age").
AD 33: The Messiah is cut off at the end of a "troubled time," 434 years after the first 49 years, totaling 483 of the prophesied 490 years. Jesus dies at about 38 years old. The traditional date by conservative biblical scholars for the death of Jesus is AD 33. If Daniel’s 490 years began in Neh 2:1–8 in 445/444 BC, 483 years of 360 days each would have ended at this time when the Messiah was cut off. As elsewhere (cf. Isa 9:6–7; Isa 61:1–2; Luke 4:18–21), an unspecified gap of time between prophetic events takes place here between Daniel's 483 and 7 years, that is, between the Messiah's being "cut off" and the final 7 of 490 years characterized by the actions of the Antichrist. See Dan 9:25, 26.
AD ?: After an unspecified gap of time, the final 7 of 490 years takes place in the future and begins with the Antichrist's covenant of peace with Israel. After 3.5 years, the Antichrist then rejects this covenant, profanes the temple, and persecutes Israel for the remaining 3.5 years. See Dan 9:27; 12:11; cf. 2 Thess 2:3–4; Rev 13:14–15.
Matt 24:15 and Mark 13:14 refer to something called “the abomination of desolation.” Matthew records Jesus’ words further, that the abomination of desolation was “spoken of by the prophet Daniel” and that it would be “standing in the holy place” (Matt 24:15).
Translated from the Hebrew, Dan 9:27 tells of how “on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate.” The word wing (Hebrew, kanaph) could be translated as “edge” or “extremity” and likely refers to a physical location. Supplying the verb “shall be” and translated from the Greek, Dan 9:27 literally states, “on the temple shall be the abomination of desolation.” Apparently the Greek translators of Dan 9:27 somehow associated the “wing” with the temple of Israel. Associating the “wing” with the temple makes even more sense when one considers from Dan 11:31 that “the abomination that makes desolate” is something that was set up in the temple to replace Israel’s regular sacrifices. Along with this, Dan 12:11 speaks of “the abomination that makes desolate” as something “set up,” that is, physically placed somewhere, and being in its place for “1,290 days.”
From the Daniel, Matthew, and Mark, then, “the abomination of desolation” seems to be something that is stands in the holy place, somewhere on the edge of the temple. In the context of the Olivet Discourse, it is not set up until just before the end of this age and Jesus’ return. In other words, we have not yet seen “the abomination of desolation.” It is something future. We can conclude, then, that before Jesus’ return, Israel will have constructed a temple, it will be destroyed (cf. Mark 13:1–2), and prior to its destruction will be the placement of “the abomination of desolation” somewhere on the edge of its structure.
 In the NT, the Greek word bdelugma is regularly translated as abomination. God views it as an abomination to offer false righteousness to Him (Luke 16:15). Abominations fill the cup of the sinful harlot seen in one of John’s visions (Rev 17:4), and written in a phrase on her forehead is the title “mother . . . of earth’s abominations” (Rev 17:5).
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.