Mark 13:30: Did Jesus think that His Second Coming will be in His own time?


Koot van Wyk (DLitt et Phil, Thd)


There are Seventh-day Adventist Reformed influenced professors who are teaching at our colleges and universities that Jesus, like the apostles, thought that His Second Coming would be in their generation. What! Yes. They do and it is what!

The Holy Spirit do not make errors of this magnitude to be included in His inspired messages or His Holy Word.

Berkhouwer looked at this and realized that there are two sets of statements in the New Testament regarding the Parousia or Second Coming of Christ: Imment expectation texts and Delay texts.[1]

Albert Schweitzer is said to have come to Mark 13:10 and used it as an example to show how Jesus was confused about His Second Coming, thinking that He may come in the apostles time. Then when Christ realized His “error” or “miscalculation” He postponed His second coming.[2]

Berkhouwer said about Mark 13 and Schweitzer: “He [Schweitzer] pointed out that Mark 13 clearly taught that the Kingdom of God was to be expected within the lifetime of the first generation of believers.”

Imminent time fixing Parousia text are listed by Berkhouwer as follows: Matthew 10:23; Mark 9:1 and then the one I will discuss in this writ Mark 13:30.[3] “Consistent eschatology sees these three prophecies concerning the immediate generation, which have not come true, as errors and miscalculations”.[4] Also Kümmel said the same.[5]

Berkhouwer then mentioned another set of scholars, of which one can mention Samuele Bacchiochi of Andrews University who in his book on the Second Coming explained it not as a “nearness” but as a “certainty”. Berkhouwer did not list Bacchiochi but I did. That was Bacchiochi’s position. More of Bacchiochi’s position will be said later. In fact, Bacchiochi made a strong case here that overrides the “nearness” claim by scholars.

Bacchiochi stated: “In attempting to interpret this difficult passage, three things should be noticed. First, Christ concern in the whole discourse is not to pinpoint the time of His return, but rather to emphasize its certainty.”

Then Bacchiochi really made a contribution to Advent thinking. He said that the two verses 30 and 31 forms an inverted parallelism and should be read together. It would mean verse 30 A-B verse 31A’-B. This is the key to understand this passage. “The inverted type of parallelism present in Mark 13:30-31 serves to emphasize certainty rather than time.”[6]

An analysis of Mark 13:30-31 will now follow:


Text by the American Standard Version reads:

30 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished. 

31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”


Greek of the text reads:

30 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη μέχρις οὗ ταῦτα πάντα γένηται. 

31 ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται. 


Analyzing method:

In order to probably see what Bacchiochi meant and catch the semantics of what he is saying, one should park the phrases in proper order:

Verse 30       A This generation shall not pass away

B until all these things be accomplished

           Verse 31       A’ Heaven and earth shall pass away

                                B’ but my words shall not pass away

Greek text:

Verse 30       A ὅτι οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη

B μέχρις οὗ ταῦτα πάντα γένηται

           Verse 31       A’ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται

                                B’ οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται


What Jesus is saying in this arrangement of the text, using a typical Hebrew parallelism, is that A and A’ is an irrealistic situation until B and B’ is a reality.

The second point is that verse 31a the destruction of the heaven and earth will take place as the last event in history before eternity equilibrium is established by a new creation, namely the Hell event.

Said Jesus, even if Hell destroys the reality of this earth and this heaven, the certainty of the words of Jesus cannot be destroyed (verse 31).

In similar line is the thought that all the eschatological schemes of events that Jesus gave them will first happen before this generation shall burn in Hell and not vice versa.

It is not “this generation burning in Hell [see verse 31a] and then the eschatological periods of events listed by Christ. It is the other way around: the eschatological periods of events first and then this generation will be destroyed in Hell. A generation that pass away, dies.

[I had to reverse my view about the Second Resurrection generation because Ellen White explicitly inserted an explanation in a manuscript of 1897 and also explicitly in Desire of Ages 632 that it is the generation living near the First Resurrection time zone but the generation alive before that Resurrection since they will not be resurrected to see the signs and there are no signs after the Second Coming, in the Millennium, before the Hell event or after it. Thus, I switch in line with Ellen White in the next writing although I kept my explanation to illustrate how the minds of theologians work without and with Ellen White as navigator]. 

Bacchiochi as a historicist Adventist Systematic Theologian had a very good understanding here and with my own interpretation I am able to fully understand what Jesus wanted to say.

In conclusion is it unacceptable to belief that Jesus would have made an error on His Second Coming. In Jon Paulien’s consideration, the New Testament teaches about the End that it is now and not yet. “The New Testament view of the end exhibits a consistent dynamic between the present and the future, the “now” and the “not yet.”[7] This book of Paulien should never have been published by our printers. It is so full of Preterism that you cannot miss it. It appeared in the year Gerhard Hasel died and in all likelihood, he would not have agreed to Paulien’s statements.

Never in the New Testament did the apostles or Jesus express ignorance of Daniel and his historicists periods in history. Just like Qumran exegesis shows expecting the Messiah according to the year-day principle for Daniel 9:24-27 so also the New Testament. The above Mark 13:30 socalled imminent text is shown to be not talking about imminency at all. He mentioned LaRondelle favorably and LaRondelle was a student of G. Berkhouwer after his Vatican II ordeal. So papal “muteness” is something that you will expect from Berkhouwer and indeed he did but now also from Paulien in his video on Revelation 13 at Loma Linda.

[1] Berkhouwer, (1972). The Return of Christ. In Studies in Dogmatics. Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 65-95, especially page 68ff in the chapter “Crisis or Delay”?

[2] H. B. Knossen, (1960). Op zoek naar de historische Jezus. Een studie over Albert Schweitzers visie op Jezus’ leven (1960). Also H. A. Babel, (1954). La pensée d’ Albert Schweitzer. Sa signification pour la theologie et la philosophie contemporaine.

[3] Berkhouwer, 1972: 86.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Kümmel, (1958). Das NT: Geschichte der Erforschung seiner Probleme, page 288.

[6] Bacchiochi.

[7] J. Paulien, (1994). End Time. Hagerstown: Review and Herald.