What does “that day and hour no one knows” mean?

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By BibleAsk Team


That Day and Hour No One Knows

The phrase “that day and hour no one knows” comes from a specific passage in the New Testament, found in the Gospel of Mark 13:32. In the NKJV, the verse reads: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

In essence, Mark 13:32 encapsulates the profound mystery of God’s timing while offering reassurance, guidance, and a call to faithful living in anticipation of Christ’s return. It reminds believers to trust in God’s sovereignty, heed Jesus’ warnings, and remain vigilant as they await the fulfillment of God’s redemptive purposes.

This verse is part of a larger discourse often referred to as the Olivet Discourse, where Jesus speaks to His disciples about the end times, His second coming, and the signs that will precede these events. To explore the meaning of this statement, it’s crucial to consider the context, historical background, and the theological implications of the verse.

Context of Mark 13:32

The context of Mark 13 is essential for understanding the significance of the statement. In the preceding verses, Jesus responds to the disciples’ question about the signs of the end times and His second coming. He provides various signs such as wars, earthquakes, and persecution, but when it comes to the exact timing of His coming, Jesus says only the heavenly Father reserves that knowledge. As a human, Jesus knew neither the day nor the hour of His coming (Matthew 24:36).

Historical Background

During the time of Jesus, there was an expectation among some Jews for a messianic kingdom and the restoration of Israel’s glory. The disciples were likely influenced by these expectations when they asked about the signs of the end times. Jesus, in His response, provides guidance while also highlighting the unknowable nature of the exact timing of His coming underscoring the importance of being ready at all times.

Theological Implications

  1. Divine Sovereignty: The statement underscores the sovereignty of God the Father. The knowledge of the day and hour is reserved exclusively for Him, emphasizing His authority over the course of history and the unfolding of eschatological events.
  2. The Dual Nature of Christ: While Jesus, as the Son, possesses divine attributes, in His incarnate nature He did not have that knowledge. Jesus voluntarily limited the use of certain divine attributes during His earthly ministry to be like us and hence, our perfect example (Philippians 2:5-8).

Comparisons with Other Gospel Accounts

  1. Matthew 24:36: A parallel passage in Matthew’s Gospel reinforces the idea: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
  2. Acts 1:7: After His resurrection, just before His ascension, Jesus tells the disciples, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”

Application for Believers

  1. Vigilance and Readiness: Not knowing the day and hour and the uncertainty of the timing of Christ’s return encourages believers to live in a state of readiness. This means being vigilant, faithful, and living according to the teachings of Christ, regardless of when the end times will unfold. Also, seeing that death can take place at any time, a person must be ready at all times.
  2. Focus on God’s Sovereignty: The statement redirects attention to the sovereignty of God and the trustworthiness of His plan. Believers are encouraged to rely on God’s wisdom and timing, acknowledging that His plans surpass human understanding.

Conclusion

Mark 13:32, is a key verse in the Bible that speaks to the uncertainty surrounding the timing of the return of Jesus Christ. Let’s break it down and expand on its significance:

  1. No one knows the day and hour: This phrase emphasizes the mystery surrounding the timing of Christ’s return. Despite human curiosity and attempts to predict or calculate the exact moment of his coming, the Bible asserts that such knowledge is not given to men. This statement underscores the sovereignty and inscrutability of God’s plan.
  2. Reminder of the unknown nature of God’s timetable: By stating that “no one knows,” the passage serves as a reminder that God’s timing is not subject to human manipulation or prediction. It highlights the humility required of believers in recognizing the limitations of their understanding compared to the divine wisdom of God.
  3. Advice to refrain from calculating: The passage cautions against the futile endeavor of trying to calculate the precise timing of Christ’s return. Instead, it encourages believers to focus on living faithfully and attentively, rather than engaging in speculative calculations or fixating on end-time prophecies.
  4. Parallel advice in Acts 1:7: Acts 1:7 similarly emphasizes the mystery of God’s timing, with Jesus telling his disciples that it is not for them to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. This reinforces the theme of humility and trust in God’s sovereignty.
  5. Privilege and duty of believers: Despite the uncertainty surrounding the timing of Christ’s return, believers are called to remain alert and watchful. This entails living in anticipation of his coming, being mindful of the signs of the times, and actively engaging in faithful living and Kingdom work until that day arrives.

In summary, Mark 13:32 serves as a reminder of the mystery surrounding the timing of Christ’s return, urging believers to maintain a posture of humility, watchfulness, and faithful living as they await his second advent.

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