Mark 13:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Mark 13:28, NIV: Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.

Mark 13:28, ESV: “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.

Mark 13:28, KJV: Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

Mark 13:28, NASB: 'Now learn the parable from the fig tree: as soon as its branch has become tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near.

Mark 13:28, NLT: 'Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.

Mark 13:28, CSB: "Learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near.

What does Mark 13:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Every culture has markers that are recognized as symptoms of changing seasons. V's of geese headed north herald spring. Pre-season American football games mean summer is coming to an end. It's often joked that, in the United States, when Christmas decorations appear in stores, it means Halloween is coming. God designed nature to give us signs that the climate is changing: fall frosts, spring thaws, and so forth.

Fig trees are a good indication that summer is near because their leaves fall in the winter and return in late spring, a couple of months behind other plants. In the same way, we can consider how the signs given in the Bible compare to what we experience to determine if the end times are near. It's not easy. Jesus promises that war, earthquakes, and famine are merely the beginning of birth pains (Mark 13:8). And we in the church age will not know the date until it arrives (Acts 1:6–7). Still, we need to stay aware, even if it's just to correct others who believe they can set a date for Jesus' return (Mark 13:33–37).

The rapture is imminent; there is nothing that must happen before Jesus returns for His followers, so we can't predict it. The people who live through the tribulation, however, will know when the Antichrist makes a seven-year peace treaty with Israel and then breaks it half-way through (Daniel 9:27). The tribulation saints are the intended audience of Mark 13:14–36.

Fig trees are often used symbolically of Israel (Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:6–7), and some scholars have speculated that the leafing fig tree here is symbolic of Israel as well. They think that when Israel feels healthy and protected enough to "put out new leaves," we should be aware that the end is near. That may mean the establishment of the modern Israel in 1948, its expansion into non-Jewish-held territories, or something we have not yet seen.

Considering the wording of this verse, Mark 13:29, and Luke's addition of "and all the trees" (Luke 21:29), it's unlikely that an allusion to Israel is the interpretation. The warning is just to point out that as we can tell the seasons change by watching the world around us, people in the tribulation should get a hint of when Jesus is coming by watching their own world events.