A Life-Changing Book on the Gospel of Mark

Is right here. Reading Peter Bolt’s book on Christ’s atonement in Mark’s Gospel has already fundamentally changed the way I think about the cross, the Savior, and the book of Mark, and I’m only halfway through it.

One of Bolt’s main points (he spends a whole chapter on it) is that Mark 13, the so-called “Apocalyptic Discourse” of Jesus, needs a fresh look in light of Mark’s narrative. He basically makes a strong extended argument that the whole speech is meant to set up the impending passion narrative. That is, Jesus is speaking of His own crucifixion, resurrection, and exaltation in this speech and not in any way the destruction of the temple nor His second coming. He does this by noting the close parallels between His speech and the rest of Mark’s narrative, the context in which it is given, and the audience to whom it is addressed within the story.

Specifically, Bolt points out that Christ’s speech

  • is about “the coming of the Son of Man,”
  • is addressed to his disciples on the Mount of Olives before it is addressed to the reader,
  • and has specific details (time, wars, earthquakes) that are fulfilled in His crucifixion, resurrection, and exaltation.

Of special note is the observation that Mark heightens the expectancy of the Son of Man’s coming by his use of the same time periods that Jesus gives in Mark 13:35in his narrative descriptions of the events of His last night in the following chapters:

  • “evening” —-> Lord’s Supper
  • “midnight” —> Gethsemane
  • “cock crow” –> trial before high priest
  • “dawn” ——> trial before Pilate

Bolt also points out that we out to read Mark 13:19 with a Christ-centered view. As he says, surely the suffering of the sinless Son of God under God’s own wrath at the hands of the Gentiles is the worst suffering that has ever and will ever come upon anyone in this world. All of these bear explaining, but I want you to read this speech on your own in light of what Mark says, not what Peter Bolt or Britt Treece says, so get after it the next time you read Mark (or Matthew or Luke for that matter).

However, I have found Bolt’s argument very convincing here. Whatever way you go with this, though, the entire book is worth reading. Praise God for His Word and for people who call us back to reading it for what it really says !!!


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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