Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple, Mar 13:1, Mar 13:2. His disciples inquire when this shall be, and what previous sign there shall be of this calamity, Mar 13:3, Mar 13:4; which questions he answers very solemnly and minutely, vv. 5-27; illustrates the whole by a parable, Mar 13:28, Mar 13:29; asserts the absolute certainty of the events, Mar 13:30, Mar 13:31; shows that the precise minute cannot be known by man, Mar 13:32; and inculcates the necessity of watchfulness and prayer, Mar 13:33-37.
See what manner of stones - Josephus says, Ant. b. xv. chap. 11: "That these stones were white and strong, Fifty feet long, Twenty-Four broad, and Sixteen in thickness." If this account can be relied on, well might the disciples be struck with wonder at such a superb edifice, and formed by such immense stones! The principal contents of this chapter are largely explained in the notes on Matt. 24, and to these the reader is requested to refer.
Saying, I am - The Christ, is added by eight MSS., Coptic, Armenian, Saxon, and four of the Itala.
The beginnings - For αρχαι, many MSS. and versions have αρχη, the beginning, singular.
Councils - Συνεδρια, Sanhedrins. The grand Sanhedrin consisted of seventy-two elders; six chosen out of each tribe; this was the national council of state; and the small Sanhedrins, which were composed of twenty-three counsellors.
Synagogues - Courts of justice for villages, etc., consisting of three magistrates, chosen out of the principal directors of the synagogue in that place.
Rulers - Or governors. The Roman deputies, such as Pontius Pilate, etc.
Kings - The tetrarchs of Judea and Galilee, who bore this name. See Mar 6:27.
And the Gospel must first be published among all nations. - Many of the Evangelistaria omit this verse. Its proper place seems to be after verse the thirteenth.
Neither - premeditate - This is wanting in BDL, five others, Coptic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, Itala. Griesbach leaves it doubtful. On this verse see Mat 10:19 (note).
Let him that readeth understand - What he readeth, is added by D, and three of the Itala, perhaps needlessly.
House-top - See on Mat 24:17 (note).
Had shortened those days - Because of his chosen, added by D, Armenian, and five of the Itala. See Mat 24:22.
This generation - Ἡ γενεα αὑτη, This very race of men. It is certain that this word has two meanings in the Scriptures; that given in the text, and that above. Generation signifies a period of a certain number of years, sometimes more, sometimes less. In Deu 1:35; Deu 2:14, Moses uses the word to point out a term of thirty-eight years, which was precisely the number in the present case; for Jerusalem was destroyed about thirty-eight years after our Lord delivered this prediction. But as there are other events in this chapter, which certainly look beyond the destruction of Jerusalem, and which were to take place before the Jews should cease to be a distinct people, I should therefore prefer the translation given above. See on Mat 24:34 (note).
Neither the Son - This clause is not found either in Matthew or Luke; and Ambrose says it was wanting in some Greek copies in his time. To me it is utterly unaccountable, how Jesus, who knew so correctly all the particulars which he here lays down, and which were to a jot and tittle verified by the event - how he who knew that not one stone should be left on another, should be ignorant of the day and hour when this should be done, though Daniel, Dan 9:24, etc., could fix the very year, not less than five hundred years before it happened: how he in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, should not know this small matter, I cannot comprehend, but on this ground, that the Deity which dwelt in the man Christ Jesus might, at one time, communicate less of the knowledge of futurity to him than at another. However, I strongly suspect that the clause was not originally in this Gospel. Its not being found in the parallel places in the other evangelists is, in my opinion, a strong presumption against it. But Dr. Macknight, and others, solve this difficulty in the following manner. They suppose the verb οιδεν to have the force of the Hebrew conjugation Hiphel, in which verbs are taken in a causative, declarative, or permissive sense; and that it means here, make known, or promulge, as it is to be understood in Co1 2:2. This intimates that this secret was not to be made known, either by men or angels, no, not even by the Son of man himself; but it should be made known by the Father only, in the execution of the purposes of his justice. I am afraid this only cuts the knot, but does not untie it.
Left his house - Οικιαν, family. Our blessed Lord and Master, when he ascended to heaven, commanded his servants to be faithful and watchful. This fidelity to which he exhorts his servants consists in doing every thing well which is to be done, in the heart or in the family, according to the full extent of the duty. The watchfulness consists in suffering no stranger nor enemy to enter in by the senses, which are the gates of the soul; in permitting nothing which belongs to the Master to go out without his consent; and in carefully observing all commerce and correspondence which the heart may have abroad in the world, to the prejudice of the Master's service. See Quesnel.
Watch ye therefore - The more the master is expected, the more diligent ought the servants to be in working, watching, and keeping themselves in readiness. Can one who has received the sentence of his death, and has no right to live a moment, need any admonition to prepare to die? Does not a prisoner who expects his deliverance, hold himself in continual readiness to leave his dungeon?
He find you sleeping - A porter asleep exposes the house to be robbed, and well deserves punishment. No wonder that the man is constantly suffering loss who is frequently off his guard.
Our Lord shows us in this parable:
1. That himself, ascended to heaven, is the man gone from home.
2. That believers collectively are his family.
3. That his servants are those who are employed in the work of faith and labor of love.
4. That the porter represents the ministers of his Gospel, who should continually watch for the safety and welfare of the whole flock.
5. That every one has his own work - that which belongs to himself and to none other, and for the accomplishment of which he receives sufficient strength from his Lord.
6. That these servants and porters shall give an account to their Lord, how they have exercised themselves in their respective departments.
7. And that as the master of the family will certainly come to require this account at a time when men are not aware, therefore they should be always watchful and faithful. And,
8. That this is a duty incumbent on every soul of man, What I say unto you, I say unto All, Watch! If, after all these warnings, the followers of God be found careless, their misery and condemnation must be great.