Mar 13:8 For nation shall rise against nation...

Mar 13:8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows.

Alternative: For people shall be roused up against people and state against state, and there will be agitation against regions and there will be hunger and the first political upheavals, these pains of childbirth.

Wordplay: This verse consist of five  phrases connected by the conjunction, "and" (kai). It reads almost like a poem, with its repetitions, nearly ending in a rhyming phase tarachê archê, first upheavals.

Hidden meaning: All of the words here have a political sense. While "seismos" means "earthquake," as it is translated here, is more generally means "agitation."  This is clear because the first phrase does not describe nation "rising up" against nation, but "being roused up," that passive form. This describes agitation, specially as agitation against (kata) places not earthquakes in (en or eis) places. The topic here is political upheaval and seismos takes on the specific meaning of political shakeups.

The word translated as "troubles" is used to specially mean political upheavals.

It is interesting how Christ connects hunger specifically with political upheavals. He doesn't mention the death of war here as the problem, but the hunger that comes from the breakdown on political order. Economic collapse is the biggest danger of conflict.

Thematically and Linguistically Related Verse(s): Mat 24:7 is the parallel verse in Matthew.


"For" comes from gar (gar) which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation:  "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

"Nation" is from ethnos (ethnos), which means "a number of people living together", "company", "body of men,"  "tribe", "a people", "nation," and (later) "foreign, barbarous nations."

"Shall rise" is from egeirô (egeiro), which means "to awaken", "to stir up," and "to rouse."

"Against" is from epi, (epi) which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before, ""across," and "against."

"Kingdom" is from basileia (basileia), which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

"There shall be" is from eimi (eimi), which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form used here is esomai.)

"Earthquake" is from seismos (seismos), which means "shaking", "earthquake", "shock", "agitation", "commotion", "blackmail," and "extortion."

"In diverse" is from kata (kata), which means "downwards", "down from", "down into", "against", "down toward", "opposite", "separately", "individually", "at a time", "towards", "in accordance with", "concerning", "corresponding with", "during the course of a period," and "severally."

"Places" is from topos (topos), which means "place", "region", "position", "part [of the body]", "district", "room," and "topic." It is also a metaphor for "opening", "occasion," and "opportunity."

"Famine" is from limos (limos), which means "hunger", "famine," and "a hungry wrench."

"Troubles" is from tarachê (tarache), which means "disorder", "disturbance", "upheaval", "political confusion", "tumult," and "troubles."

"Beginning" is from archê (arche), which means "beginning", "origin", "first principles", "first place of power", "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history.

"Sorrows" is from odis (odin), which means "pains of childbirth", "that which is born in pain", "travail," and "anguish."