Mark 13:1-13 | Discussion Questions

Mark 13:1-13

Preached at SoBo on September 18, NM on September 25, 2022

HEADS UP: The discussion questions for Mark 13 are very heady because of the immense difficulty of this chapter. Do your best with this D-tool, as it is challenging to produce a simple and engaging tool for such a complicated biblical text.


  • PRAYER: Begin your time in prayer, asking the Father to pour out His Spirit upon you so that you can see the Son, Jesus Christ, more clearly.
  • OPENING DISCUSSION: You don’t have to hang around Christian circles very long before the topic of “end-times” comes up. What has God said about the future? What should we expect to happen in the last days? When is the rapture? Is there a rapture? Who is the anti-Christ? When is the millennium? Is there a millennium? What in the world is the millennium? What will be the signs that the end is near? You get the point. Christians are curious about the end times.
    • What has your experience been when thinking about the end times? Have you thought about it a lot? A little? Rarely? Share.
    • Share the different end-time scenarios you’ve heard people promote. What do you think about them?
  • SNAPSHOT: Mark 13 contains what has famously been called the “Olivet Discourse” because, in it, Jesus and his disciples leave the temple and walk to the Mount of Olives (hence Olivet). Here Jesus begins to prophesy to his disciples about the future. He speaks of coming judgment, the destruction of the temple, the signs that will precede it, a mysterious figure called the abomination of desolation, a great tribulation, and more.
  • CONTEXT: We are in the final week of Jesus’ life. 
    • On Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey, while large crowds laid down palm branches and hailed him as the Messiah (11:9-10). 
    • On Monday, Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree (a symbol of fruitless Israel), and then he entered the Jerusalem temple and drove the money changers, who perverted the worship of God (11:12-19). 
    • On Tuesday, Jesus entered the temple again and began to expose that Israel, like the fig tree he cursed the day before, had become barren and dead. This Tuesday, Jesus enters into several disputes with the religious leaders, showing them insincere, hypocritical, misguided, and spiritually dead. Ultimately, Jesus’ day in the temple ended with a prediction of the temple’s destruction (11:27-13-37). Our text below takes place on Tuesday.
    • On Thursday, Jesus eats the last supper with his disciples, prays in the garden of Gethsemane, is betrayed by Judas, and is arrested by Jewish authorities.
    • On Friday, Jesus is crucified.


MARK 13:1-13
1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”

5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. 

9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.


  • Begin by simply examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? What is unexpected? What seems confusing? This is a time just to be curious, notice things together, and ask questions. 1
  • What was the significance of the temple for the Jews? And how do you think the disciples would have felt when they heard Jesus’ prediction? 2
  • As a group, try to summarize each grouping of verses: 1-2, 3-4, 5-8, 11-13. What is the main thing happening in each set of verses, and how do they relate to one another? 3
  • Mark 13 has puzzled Christian interpreters for centuries. In verse 2, Jesus tells his disciples that the temple will be destroyed. And then, in verse 4, they ask, “When will these things be? And what will be the sign that these things are about to take place?” In other words, “When will the temple be destroyed? And what signs will tell us it’s about to happen?” And the rest of the chapter is Jesus’ answer to those two questions. Some interpreters believe Mark 13 refers exclusively to events that took place in the disciples' lifetime. Others believe Mark 13 is also referring to end-times events that are still future to us.
    • As you read Mark 13, what might be some clues that Jesus is referring to events that are to happen in the disciples' lifetime? (hint: 13:2; 13:4; 13:30)
    • What happened in 70 AD that would confirm this interpretation? 4
    • What might be some possible indicators that Jesus is talking about end-times events that are still future to us? (hint: 13:10, 13:24-27)
    • How do you reconcile these seemingly divergent clues?


  • Often Christians will hold very dogmatic views about the end times. Given the extreme difficulty of passages like Mark 13 and others, what attitudes should characterize how we hold our convictions and relate to others who disagree?
  • Even if we struggle to understand all the complexities of Mark 13 fully, Jesus still addresses at least five issues that apply to all Christians in every age: 
    • The need to guard ourselves against people and cultural forces that would lead us astray from Christ (13:5)
    • The need to accept that persecution is a normal part of following Jesus (13:9-13; see also 2 Tim 3:12)
    • The necessity of relying on the Holy Spirit (13:11)
    • The need for endurance amidst cultural pressures and persecutions (13:13)
    • The assurance that the gospel will ultimately triumph (13:10)
  • In which of these five areas do you struggle the most? Why do you think that is? And what do you think needs to happen to help you walk in newness of life?


O God of all endurance, give us the grace to guard ourselves against everything that would lead us away from you. And provide us with faith to gladly accept suffering and persecution for your name’s sake. Give us also hope as we constantly rely upon your Holy Spirit. And give us joy to patiently endure trials as we await the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Example Observations:
  • The disciples are admiring the temple architecture (v1)
  • Jesus predict the the destruction of the temple (v2)
  • This scene takes place on the Mount of Olives (v3)
  • This is a private conversation between Jesus and Peter, James, John, and Andrew (v3)
  • The disciples ask when the temple will be destroyed (v4)
  • Jesus seems to be warning the disciples about things that will happen in their lifetime: “When you hear” (v7), “Be on your guard” (v9), “They will deliver you…” (v9) “You will be beaten…” (v9) “You will stand before…”(v9), “when they bring you to trial…”(v10), etc.
  • “The end is not yet” (v7) - what is the “end”? Is Jesus referring to the end of the world? Or is the “end” a reference to the destruction of the temple?
  • In verses 5-13, Jesus seems to be giving a list of signs that “do not” indicate the destruction of the temple or the end i.e. “when you see these things, the end is not yet.”
  • Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will tell the disciples what to say when they stand before rulers (v11)
  • Jesus says the one who endure to the “end” will be saved (v13). Again, end of world or destruction of temple?

2 The Temple was the place where God dwelt with his people and where sacrifices were made for sins. Without the temple, Israel’s entire system of relating to God, worshiping God, and staying in right relationship with God would be destroyed. In a very real sense, then, the destruction of the temple would be like “the end” of the world for the Jews.

  • Jesus predicts destruction of temple (1-2)
  • Disciples ask when it will happen (3-4)
  • Things that are not signs of the end (5-13)

The Roman army, led by future emperor Titus, sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in 70AD following a brutal five-month battle.