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Mark 13:34

ESV It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.
NIV It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
NASB It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert.
CSB "It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his servants, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert.
NLT The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return.
KJV For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
NKJV It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.

What does Mark 13:34 mean?

Jesus is explaining how His followers, particularly those who live through the end times, need to actively watch for His coming. The man going on a journey is Jesus who ascended to heaven (Acts 1:6–11) and will return at a later, unknown date (Mark 13:32). The servants are the disciples who establish the church and Christ-followers who maintain it. But specifically, the servants are those who come to faith in Christ during the tribulation and need to keep their priorities straight. Instead of hiding from the horror around them in alcohol (Luke 21:34) or trying to take financial advantage of the chaos (Revelation 18), they need to focus on obeying God and remembering that Jesus will return soon.

Each of us have our own work, a role in the church that is powered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some serve, teach, encourage, give, lead, or show mercy (Romans 12). Others have extra wisdom, knowledge, or faith, or discernment that reveals if a spirit is good or evil (1 Corinthians 12:4–11). All of us are called to spread the gospel (Matthew 28:19–20). But we must indeed use these gifts (Romans 12:6).

There is more to our "work" than just the church, of course. Parents are called to raise their kids to love God (Deuteronomy 6:7; Ephesians 6:4). Employees are called to be faithful to and honest with their employers (1 Peter 2:18). Citizens are called to obey the law (Romans 13:1–7). We are all called to show the love of Jesus to neighbors and enemies (Matthew 5:43–48). The unknown timing of Jesus' return should inspire us to work more urgently, not slack off as if He's given us downtime.

Jesus is specifically addressing His followers who live in the tribulation, but Paul insisted this message is for all Christ-followers: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15–16).
What is the Gospel?
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