Week 3: New Testament Parables

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Keeping Watch (Mark)

Reading time: 2 minutes. Word count: 400 words.

This is a parable from the gospel of Mark. The frametale shows Jesus presenting a sermon about things that will happen in the future - although he explains that no one knows at what time these things will happen. In order to illustrate this point in the frametale, he tells the parable of the porter and servants keeping watch for the return of the master of the house. Luke also contains the parable of the servants keeping watch for their master's return; a similar parable about keeping watch for the arrival of a thief is also found in Thomas. In Matthew, there is a parable about the young women keeping watch for the bridegroom by the light of their lamps of oil.

King James version:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

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. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.


World English Bible version:

“Now from the fig tree, learn this parable. When the branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near; even so you also, when you see these things coming to pass, know that it is near, at the doors. Most certainly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Watch, keep alert, and pray; for you don’t know when the time is.

“It is like a man, traveling to another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, and to each one his work, and also commanded the doorkeeper to keep watch. Watch therefore, for you don’t know when the lord of the house is coming, whether at evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he might find you sleeping.

What I tell you, I tell all: Watch.”


Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how does the fig tree offer a sign of the passing of time?
  • what does the man do when he leaves his house to travel to another country?
  • why do the doorkeepers and servants have to keep watch?

Source: Mark, Chapter 13, King James version. Website: Hypertext King James Bible. World English Bible version. Website: WEB World English Bible.


Modern Languages MLLL-2003. World Literature: Frametales. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:48 PM