The Day and the Hour

or Jesus and the Stickybeaks

John Barach writes:

In Mark 13:32, Jesus says, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (cf. Matt. 24:36). That’s somewhat puzzling. Is it a limitation on Jesus’ omniscience, as if God the Father knows things that God the Son doesn’t? That can’t be. So is it saying that Jesus as a man doesn’t know things that God the Son knows? Even so, that’s still puzzling.

A friend of mine argued once for a different approach: When Jesus says that even the Son does not know the day and hour, he said, he is speaking of knowing something in order to pass it on to others. Neither the angels nor the Son has been given the knowledge of the day and hour in the sense that neither is commissioned to reveal it and make it known to us.

I haven’t studied this passage and so I won’t claim that this is the right interpretation. But the other day, I was reading Augustine’s exposition of Psalm 10 (Psalm 9, part 2, for Augustine). In that exposition, he mentions those passages in Mark 13 and Matthew 24. Lo and behold, he says exactly what my friend said:

What, then, is so hidden as that which is said to be hidden even from the judge himself, not as far as his knowing it is concerned, but as regards his revealing it?   (Expositions of the Psalms, 1:158, emphasis mine).[1]

Perhaps the answer is even simpler. A dispensationalist friend sent me a link to some online prophecy talk shows, and hidden among the tired, rehashed sensationalism and context-defying exegesis was a gem of an observation. Jesus was possibly referring to the Jewish wedding tradition:

V. After the wine is drunk, the young man says the words of John 14:2-3.  He will go away and prepare a room for them–adding on a room to his father’s house.  He promises that when the room is finished, he would come back for her, and she would forever be with him.  She belongs to him now, for she has been “bought with a price’, and this purchase has been witnessed and confirmed.

VI. The young man goes to prepare a chador (chamber) in his father’s house, sometimes called a “chuppah” (honeymoon bed).

VII. The girl must now spend her time learning how to be a wife and mother, and to learn how to please her husband.  He may be gone for as long as 2 years or more. The young man, if asked when the day of his wedding will be, often gets rid of nosey inquirers by saying: “No man knows the day or the hour, only my father knows”.  (Matthew 24:36/Mark 13:32)  Thus he puts the responsibility of dealing with nosey friends and family off on his father. It is a personal thing with him, and he only talks about the timing of his coming for His Bride with his father.

It’s certainly plausible.

[1] John Barach, What the Son Doesn’t Know

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One Response to “The Day and the Hour”

  • Travis Finley Says:

    Yeah, I heard that last one once. Hope it’s not apocryphal b/c it does seem to be more plausible. As it is dealing with the marriage feast and returning for the bridal party it may be simply that as the “son” he is waiting to be dispatched by the father and only he knows and has the right to disclose that information.