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Mark 13:32

ESV “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
NIV But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
NASB But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
CSB "Now concerning that day or hour no one knows--neither the angels in heaven nor the Son--but only the Father.
NLT However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
KJV But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

What does Mark 13:32 mean?

The nature of the Trinity is a puzzle which theologians have struggled with for centuries. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are members of the Trinity. They are all God, They are all One, but They are not each other. This is illustrated in the ways in which Jesus interacts with God the Father while He is on earth. He submits His own will to God the Father (Mark 14:36). He is separated from God on the cross (Mark 15:34). Stephen sees Jesus standing at God's right hand (Acts 7:55). Jesus even learned obedience as a man (Hebrews 5:8).

This verse gives another example. While in His physical body on earth, Jesus is not omniscient. Paul explains that Jesus, "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:6–7). Part of being emptied means Jesus abdicated His rights to manifest the full nature of deity, what theologians call the kenosis. That doesn't mean that Jesus was ever not-God. It's more like part of His deity was in sleep mode. He knew what God intended Him to know (John 15:15).

Does Jesus know when He will return now that He lives in heaven with a glorified body? Acts 1:6–7 allows for that. After the resurrection, when Jesus is in His glorified body, moments before He ascends to heaven, the disciples ask again when He will return and "restore the kingdom to Israel." He responds that it is not for them to know the timing, but He doesn't indicate that He is still ignorant of God's plan.

Some think Mark 13:32 refers to the rapture. The rapture is the coming day when Jesus will call all believers, living and dead, and meet them in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 1 Corinthians 15:50–54). This interpretation seems less consistent with Scripture, however. First, the rapture is imminent: that means nothing else needs to happen, including the wars and natural disasters of Mark 13:6–8. In the rapture, Jesus doesn't truly "return" to earth but hovers in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17); during His second coming, He will set foot on earth again (Zechariah 14:4). Finally, the rapture will happen in an instant, secretly (1 Corinthians 15:50–54), while Jesus' second coming will be seen around the world (Revelation 1:7).

It's reasonable to think "that day or that hour" refers to Jesus' second coming, since that is specifically what the four disciples asked (Matthew 24:3). Three and a half years before the abomination of desolation, the Antichrist will make a treaty with Israel and its enemies (Daniel 9:24–27). Given that the sequence of these events is already established, some interpret the "day" to mean the Day of the Lord. If so, the "Day of the Lord" is the time period in which God's will for mankind is fulfilled, His judgment is poured out (Isaiah 13:6–22; Ezekiel 30:2–19), all Israel is saved (Romans 11:26), and God's glory is revealed (Isaiah 2:17).

Another possibility is that Jesus knew when the tribulation would start, and therefore the year of His return, but literally did not know the day or hour.

The important take-away of this verse is that Jesus specifically says the timing is not for us to know (Acts 1:6–7). That should serve as a warning for the rest of us. Anyone who claims to know the date or time of Jesus' return is, by definition, a false teacher. They are claiming to convince others they know what Jesus says cannot be known.
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