These small group studies of the gospel of Mark contain outlines, commentary, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Mark 13:14-27 Practical Bible Study Notes With Questions


I. The coming tribulation (Verses 14-23)

II. The return of Christ (24-27)

III. Be alert because His return is imminent (28-37)

I. Verses 14-23

Discussion Questions

What is the abomination of desolation? Historically, is there only one or could there be more than one?

Where is the place “where it should not be?”

What should Jews do then? Why?

What is the word used in verse 19 for these events? (tribulation)

How long will that tribulation be? What other passage talks about it? Why is it not longer?

What will the false prophets do? What is their goal? Why would they have this goal?

What are they able to do? How can they do these signs and wonders?

Why does Christ tell us this and other things in advance?


On the abomination of desolation:

Matthew 24:15 – The abomination of desolation in the holy place.

Luke 21:20-24

Daniel 9:27, 11:31

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. The abomination of desolation – There is much debate on what this is and when it occurs. From Matthew we can see that it means that the holy place of the temple will be defiled. Something terribly unclean and pagan will corrupt what is supposed to be a holy place to worship God. Has this happened? Historically, two things could be the abomination of desolation. One of them was Antiochus Epiphanes, who offered a pig on the temple altar around 166 BC. And yet Jesus speaks of the event as still future. We have already seen that this passage in Mark was partially fulfilled when the Temple was destroyed in AD 70. At that time Roman legions encompassed Jerusalem. The temple was burnt to the ground and torn apart brick by brick while the standards of Roman legions were raised over the rubble. And from Daniel 9:27 we can see that there will be yet again another abomination of desolation in the middle of the great tribulation. Many believe this refers to the antichrist who will take over the rebuilt temple and set up a throne for himself in the middle of it, thus declaring to the world that he is god and should be worshipped by all.

2. How can the abomination of desolation refer to more than one thing? See 1 John 2:18. In this passage we see that there is not only one antichrist, but there are “antichrists” plural. Throughout history many people influenced by Satan have set themselves up against Christ. In a similar way, Satan has always thought to desecrate the things of God. This battle between God and Satan, good and evil, has lasted since before even the Creation of the world. Satan’s basic strategies have often remained the same and therefore over thousands of years it is to be expected that certain events in this war are repeated. For example, when examining history you can see certain nations with evil leaders influenced by Satan rise up to great power as it appears he tries to set up what could eventually be his kingdom. And yet so far each time these nations have been defeated and have fallen. There remains a still future time when Satan’s plan will appear more successful for a time until he is once again defeated. Thus there have been multiple abomination of desolations, but THE abomination of desolation which will be the crudest, the most blatant, and the most evil, has not yet occurred. What exactly it will be remains to be seen, but the phrase “You will know it when you see it” probably holds true.

3. When this event happens, everyone should flee – This abomination of desolation is a sign that things are going to get worse fast for anyone who doesn’t bow the knee to this antichrist. He will ruthlessly persecute opposition like never before in world history. While believers will have been raptured at the start of the tribulation, this will be at least three and a half years later. During this time gap there will be another soul harvest as people across the globe and especially Jews turn to Christ. It is especially these believers (sometimes termed tribulation saints) who need to be ready to flee. And that is the main reason why Jesus told them about these signs ahead of time. Studying these Scriptures and understanding the sequences of events and the signs which are coming will literally be a life and death matter for believers at that time.

4. The great tribulation – This will be a time of intense persecution far worse than at any other time in all of human history. It is the climax of the battle between God and Satan. Satan will be persecuting all opposition with a vengeance. At the same time, God will be pouring judgment out on the world for its sin and rejection of Christ. These verses tell us that because God is merciful, He will shorten the great tribulation. A study of Daniel 9:27 and the passage on the seventy weeks show that this great tribulation will be half a week, meaning three and a half years. Even in the middle of God’s judgment on the earth, we see His mercy towards the elect. It is because of the tribulation saints who come to Him after the rapture that He limits this time of tribulation to just three and a half years. For more on the exact judgments God will pour out on the earth you can see Revelation 6, 8, and 16.

5. Many false prophets and christs – Throughout history there has always been many false teachers. During these end times these will increase exponentially. Their goal is to mislead people, to lead them astray. This is interesting. In these days while there are many false teachers, most seem to have different goals of getting money or position and misleading people is a way to achieve those goals. But this shows that in some ways evil will grow even worse. False teachers won’t need any reason or any personal benefit to mislead others. They do it out of rebellion and hatred toward God. As such they are like vandals who go around destroying property because they enjoy it. These false prophets are clearly under the influence of Satan and are in reality his minions sent around the world to spread his own propaganda of hate and rebellion.

6. These false prophets will perform signs and wonders – In our study of Exodus, we saw that the Egyptian sorcerers were able to perform some signs. These were either like elaborate magic tricks intended to deceive or they did indeed have some power from Satan. We often talk about God’s miracles as being supernatural. Satan and his demons are also supernatural. They are not as SUPER as God, but they are still more super than we are. Therefore it is not surprising that Satan’s minions are capable of performing some signs. As always believers should follow John’s advice in 1 John 4:1 to test the spirits to see if they are from God. Don’t believe people because of their smooth words or even an apparent miracle they did. What is the message they preach? What does the Bible say?

7. We have no excuse – Jesus told us these things ahead of time. We have no excuse to be led astray by others. God has given us everything we need to test who is speaking the truth and who is not. His Word is more than adequate. Therefore we must simply remember to ask the question which we learned a few weeks ago, “What does the Bible say?”

II. Verses 24-27

Discussion Questions

In what days?

What other signs are mentioned in these verses? Choose an adjective that describes these signs: Cataclysmic, Awesome, Public, Spectacular, Global, Terrifying, etc.

Who is the Son of Man? How will He come?

Where will believers be at this time? How do you know?


See: for lists of verses on both the rapture and the second coming separated by type.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. In those days, after that tribulation – Jesus is going to return to the earth after this great tribulation. See the list of verses above for a comparison of the rapture and Second coming and discuss the chart below.

2. Heavenly signs – Jesus’ second coming is not going to be a secret. It will be preceded by global signs of a cataclysmic nature. Imagine what an unbeliever would feel at this point in time. After three and half years of repeated judgments now the very heavens themselves will shake. The sun and the moon are as faithful and reliable as the get. Did you ever notice the sun not coming up when it should? Did it ever change colors? Did the moon refuse to shine? Did stars (perhaps referencing shooting stars like large asteroids or meteors) ever fall out of the sky? For believers, these signs will be a reminder that Jesus is coming very soon to restore the world. For unbelievers, it will be the last reminder that they should give themselves to God before it is too late.

3. Then they will see The Son of Man coming – This is the same Son of Man that was to be afflicted, scorned, rejected, and killed as prophesied in Isaiah 53. This is the same Son of Man that was rejected, hated, brutally whipped, spit on, mocked, and tortured and killed in the most agonizing way possible on the cross. When Jesus told the scribes and religious leaders that He would be seated at the right hand of God in heaven (Matthew 26:64) they ground their teeth and ripped their clothes in their lack of belief. At this point in time there will be no more lack of belief, although there will be many who steadfastly refuse to submit to God’s authority even though His power and position will be as plain as day. When Jesus came the first time He came in great humility, bringing peace and joy with Him. When He comes the second time, He will come in great power and bring a sword to all who didn’t follow Him.

4. When He comes He will gather the elect – He is going to gather the elect who have been fleeing persecution around the world and set up His earthly kingdom.

What do we learn about people from this passage? What do we learn about Jesus? What do we need to do based on what we have learned?

Rapture and Second Coming Contrasts


1.      Translation of all believers

2.      Translated saints go to heaven

3.      Earth not judged

4.      Imminent, any-moment, signless

5.      Not in the Old Testament

6.      Believers only

7.      Before the day of wrath (the Tribulation)

8.      No reference to Satan

9.      Christ comes for His own

10.  He comes in the air

11.  He claims His bride

12.  Only His own see Him

13.  Tribulation begins

Second Coming, Established Kingdom

1.      No translation at all

2.      Translated saints return to the earth

3.      Earth judged and righteousness established

4.      Follows definite predicted signs, including tribulation

5.      Predicted often in the Old Testament

6.      Affects all men

7.      Concluding the day of wrath (comes at the end of the Tribulation)

8.      Satan bound

9.      Christ comes with His own

10.  He comes to the earth

11.  He comes with His bride

12.  Every eye shall see Him

13.  Millennial kingdom begins

STUDY MARK 13:28-37
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