This chapter is Mark's account of the Olivet discourse in which Jesus describes the end-time signs of his coming. It can also be found in Matthew 24, and in Luke 17 and 21. Mark's account contains a particular emphasis on the end-time persecution of Christians.
The Gospel of Mark is believed by scholars to have been the first written account of the Gospel. It is believed to be the Apostle Peter's account, but written down by Mark. Mark is referred to in Acts 12:12, literally as 'John who was also called Mark', or as the NET bible translates it, 'John Mark'. He was a close acquaintance of Peter's, as can be seen in Acts 12:12. Matthew and Luke later wrote their Gospel accounts, both using Mark's account as a basis to which they added additional information. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the 'Synoptic Gospels', where synoptic means 'similar'.

This chapter is Mark's account of the 'Olivet Discourse', so called because Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives when he gave it. It is Jesus' response to the disciples' questions about when the temple would be destroyed, and what signs would precede his second coming. Most of what is recorded here is recorded in more detail in Matthew 24 and in Luke 17 and 21. So please see my more detailed commentary on Matthew 24 in order to understand the Olivet discourse.

However, in verses 9 to 13, Mark has a particular focus on persecution of Christians during the end times. In all three synoptic gospels, this persecution is placed in an order which denotes it as a 'pre-tribulation' sign that occurs before the abomination of desolation is set up (v14). Beyond that, it seems we should not focus too much on its order of placement within the pre-tribulation signs. In Luke 21:12, persecution is the first pre-tribulation sign. Here in Mark 13, verse 10 places it after the gospel is preached to all nations. But the gospel being preached to all nations is the final pre-tribulation sign in Matthew 24. So you end up with persecution at both beginning and end of the pre-tribulation period of the end-time generation.

Matthew records the same details about persecution, and more, in an earlier context when Jesus was sending out the twelve on a training mission (Matthew 10:16-23). Perhaps he placed it there because of its relevance throughout Christian history, and when it came to his account of the Olivet discourse, he gave persecution a much briefer mention to avoid obvious repetition. Its end-time relevance is apparent though in Matthew 10:23 which says, "Whenever they persecute you in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes".

Persecution of Christians
In verse 9 here in Mark, Jesus tells end-time Christians, "You must watch out for yourselves. You will be handed over to councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them". Jesus describes this persecution within a Jewish context, as though Christians are being persecuted by the Jews. Perhaps he describes it this way because the disciples could relate with that context. However, in verse 13 he says, "You will be hated by everyone because of my name", so we should not limit this to a Jewish context. The end-time Antichrist will almost certainly be a Muslim (I will explain why in some detail elsewhere), so later on during the Great Tribulation, we should especially expect Christians to face persecution within an Islamic context.

When people become Christians from a Jewish or Muslim background, it is quite common that the most intense persecution comes from within the family, rather than from the governing authorities. This is because of the sense of shame that Jewish and Muslim families feel when one of their members abandons their faith to follow Jesus. So persecution takes place to preserve family honour. Consequently, in verse 12 Jesus says, "Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death".

Facing persecution
A major part of facing persecution is perseverance and endurance. In verse 13, Jesus concludes on this topic, "You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved".

Please also see my commentary on Isaiah 50:4-11, which is a prophetic passage known as the 'third servant song'. From a New Testament perspective, it is Jesus speaking autobiographically about how he faced persecution, and the humiliation of the Cross. We can surely learn from his example. In Revelation 6:9-11 and 7:9-10, John sees a vision of martyred Christians from every nation, tribe, people and language. We need to be prepared to submit to God's will in the face of martyrdom, just as Jesus has taught us by his own example. As in Hebrews 13:6, we need to be able to say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell". In other words, we need to see things from an eternal perspective, confident that if we suffer for obeying God, God will one day vindicate and reward us.
Tags: Facing persecution, Persecution of Christians
The Destruction of the Temple
13 Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, look at these tremendous stones and buildings!”
2 Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!”

Signs of the End of the Age
3 So while he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,
4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that all these things are about to take place?”
5 Jesus began to say to them, “Watch out that no one misleads you.
6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and they will mislead many.
7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. These things must happen, but the end is still to come.
8 For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines. These are but the beginning of birth pains.

Persecution of Disciples
9 “You must watch out for yourselves. You will be handed over to councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them.
10 First the gospel must be preached to all nations.
11 When they arrest you and hand you over for trial, do not worry about what to speak. But say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death.
13 You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

The Abomination of Desolation
14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be” (let the reader understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.
15 The one on the roof must not come down or go inside to take anything out of his house.
16 The one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.
17 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days!
18 Pray that it may not be in winter.
19 For in those days there will be suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, or ever will happen.
20 And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved. But because of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut them short.
21 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe him.
22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, the elect.
23 Be careful! I have told you everything ahead of time.

The Arrival of the Son of Man
24 “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man arriving in the clouds with great power and glory.
27 Then he will send angels and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

The Parable of the Fig Tree
28 “Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.
29 So also you, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, right at the door.
30 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Be Ready!
32 “But as for that day or hour no one knows it – neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son – except the Father.
33 Watch out! Stay alert! For you do not know when the time will come.
34 It is like a man going on a journey. He left his house and put his slaves in charge, assigning to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert.
35 Stay alert, then, because you do not know when the owner of the house will return – whether during evening, at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn –
36 or else he might find you asleep when he returns suddenly.
37 What I say to you I say to everyone: Stay alert!”