Q&A Forum: Mark 13:32 “knoweth no man… neither the Son”

How are we to understand the words of the Lord Jesus in Mark 13:32: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father”? Specifically, the words “neither the Son”?

Scripture is clear that His words cannot mean:

1) A denial of His deity

This verse is sometimes quoted by those who say that the Lord Jesus was a great teacher, or a prophet, but that He was nothing more than a man. Ironically, His statement contradicts their claim.  He first said, “no man,” then “no, not (even) the angels which are in heaven,” implying that angels are superior to mankind. He then added, “neither the Son,” claiming a place of superiority to both “man” and “angels.” Rather than suggesting His mere humanity, Christ’s word order places the Son as superior to all created beings, earthly and heavenly. Those who suggest He was only a great teacher or only a prophet are forced by this very verse to either deny His greatness (because He made a false claim if He wasn’t superior to angels), or to accept His claim as true (that He is greater than men and angels). Many other Scriptures reaffirm His deity, including John 20:28-29 where He accepted Thomas’ worship.

2) Though deity, His knowledge was limited by His humanity

A second wrong conclusion would be that His divine attributes were limited by His humanity. To suggest that in His humanity He didn’t know all things would imply that in the joining of deity and humanity, one or the other had to be compromised. However, from His incarnation onward He was, and is, fully God and fully a perfect man. No divine attribute was compromised: “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9 KJV, emphasis added). The gospels give multiple examples of His omniscience (Joh 2:23-25, 6:64; Mat 9:3-4). Perhaps most relevant to our verse, both in John 16:30 (pre-resurrection) and John 21:17 (post-resurrection), His disciples declared, “thou knowest all things,” and in neither case did He correct that conclusion. His knowledge was not limited by His humanity.

What, then, can “neither the Son” mean?

Concluding either of the above would contradict Scripture, but stepping beyond Scripture into rationalizations would be equally dangerous. We only have what Scripture tells us. Following are two verses that may give us a hint at the meaning:

1) “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb 10:17 KJV, emphasis added). Our all-knowing God can choose to never again consider something within the scope of His knowledge.

2) “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Act 1:7 KJV). The Lord Jesus stated that, within the Godhead, the choice has been made that the Father would retain exclusive authority over the timing of Christ’s return. Other examples of distinct roles in the Godhead include Mark 10:40, John 5:22, and John 16:7-8.

The answer to our question may lie within these two revealed truths about God: (1) the Lord Jesus had and has the ability to choose not to bring to mind something within the scope of His omniscience, and (2) the Lord Jesus served and serves perfectly within the role that is His in the Godhead. However, it’s also good to remind ourselves that in deity are many “thoughts” and “ways” we simply cannot comprehend (Isa 55:8-9).