Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Matthew 24:36 (NLT)
Mark 13:32 (NLT)

 36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

Now hold on a minute here...God the Father and God the Son are the same God, yet the Father knows something the Son doesn't? What's going on here?

share|improve this question
Somewhat related to How could Jesus be surprised. – Paul A. Clayton Apr 30 '13 at 22:46
up vote 8 down vote accepted

There are two theories in regards to this:

  1. Jesus is not part of God.

    See also:
    Is there Biblical basis for unitarianism?

  2. Jesus and God are joined in the Trinity, but separate in thought and will.

    See also:
    Biblical basis for the doctrine of the Trinity
    Would it have been possible for Jesus to sin?

Take your pick.

share|improve this answer
Actually there is at least a third option... – Caleb Sep 16 '11 at 18:53
@Caleb anything you care to share? – Marc Gravell Jan 22 '12 at 10:42
@Caleb: Could you elaborate on the third option? I would assume it has something to do with Jesus voluntarily separating himself from the rest of the Godhead when he chose to enter into the world in the Incarnation. However, I see that as a subset of option 2. What are we missing? – Jon Ericson Jan 7 '13 at 7:30
@Jon it could be more a facet of the natures of the Son in the hypostatic union than of the relationship between the persons of the trinity. For example, in the sense of his divine nature, Jesus is everywhere omnipresent, even during the period of his incarnation, but in the sense of his physical body, he apparently chose to be present in only one place at a time. Similarly it may be possible that though in his divine person Jesus is always omniscient, his human nature had in some sense limited access to that knowledge. – Jack Douglas Jan 1 '14 at 10:52
Also check out diophysitism and the Council of Chalcedon. – Dan Jan 5 '14 at 20:33

The theological term here is kenosis

From Phillipians 2:6-7

though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself ...

In short, Jesus gave up the perks of being God in order to identify with humanity.

share|improve this answer
He gave up some perks. After all, he performed miracles, didn't he? – hammar Jan 22 '12 at 7:56
God granted other humans the ability to perform miracles. – Affable Geek Jan 22 '12 at 13:25
But you know what? You got me thinking... Here's what I… – Affable Geek Jan 22 '12 at 20:07
@Affable Geek if somebody took in serious your answer, will end into doubts about Trinity and heretical understanding. I invite you to study the book referenced in my answer to graft your soul – Iulian Jan 1 '14 at 7:29
@Iulian, I would invite you to read the gospel of Matthew, Chapter 23. – robert bristow-johnson Jan 4 '14 at 18:10

I hate to answer your question with a question, but since this is a mystery, I don't think you can logically consign yourself to one of Richards options. Not that those ideas aren't logical, they just don't quite fit, or satisfy me as a Catholic.

The commentary in the NABRE is not very useful, it just says not to doubt the veracity of the verse.

But here's the question that I'll pose as an answer, what did Jesus hold back from His disciples? Nothing at all. It would seem as though it was God the Father's will for His Son to reveal everything that we need for salvation.

Do we need to know the day or the hour? No

Do we need to be ever vigilant? Yes

So, the more important thing is not that the Son does not know what the Father knows, it is that the Disciples (and us) know what the Son knows.

share|improve this answer
Although it would be nice to understand this facet of Jesus not knowing, I agree with this "answer" in that it is more important to start with what Jesus does reveal. – Steve Nov 2 '13 at 12:01
We are on a need to know basis! To store or hold knowledge beyond that which is revealed by the Father is to own personal knowledge and usurp "faith" in the Father. – Rick Nov 2 '13 at 14:03

Christ did not “pretend” to be not God but rather, he chose to not use his Godhead. He literally became similar to his brethren in every way ( Hebrews 2:17) for he became similar to men ( Philippians 2:7), he was sent similar to sinful flesh ( Romans 8:3).

It is true that he does not know the day and the hour ( Mark 13:32) and it is equally true that all knowledge is hidden in him and as to why is this so-- it is because Christ unclothed himself of his deity based in Phil. 2:6-7.

To unclothe means: 1) to remove a cloth from one's self - denotation 2) to not use what you own - connotation.

It is clear that Christ existed in God's form and that he is still existing in God's form even when he is on earth [Notice the Greek word " HUPARCHON" used]. The fact that it still exists proves that the unclothing act only means to not use what he own.

He just unclothed it and as to how he did unclothe it is by choosing to take on the form of a slave.

Based on the Bible, a slave does not know what his master is doing:

"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. - John 15:15 ( NASB)

Jesus really became a true slave for he does not know what the Father knows ( Mark 13:32,Acts 1:7).

The incarnate Son became a real human, he took on real human flesh and blood and lived a real human life ( John 1:1, 14, Hebrews 2:14). He did not pretend to be a human but rather, he truly became what he was not (i.e. human) and retained what he was (i.e. God).

His very "kenosis" or unclothing of his deity i.e. choice of not using his Godhead is an act as opposed to "empty-glory" ( Philippians 2:3).


Mark 13:32 does not disproved the godhood of Jesus Christ. It is not a good idea to use a single verse in isolation just to come up with a doctrine that contradicts other scripture. A text without a context is a pretext. Once the Scripture as a whole is consulted, it becomes clear that Mark 13:32 does not teach that the Son is not omniscient but rather, it only means that he has a real human mind for he truly took on real human nature.

share|improve this answer
Any reason why you made a second answer rather than editing your first? – curiousdannii Jun 14 '14 at 12:27
This is not the same answer as the first. The focus of my first answer is on Jesus not exercising his deity by lack of authroity while the focus of my second answer is on Jesus' human nature which is an inevitable reason why he unclothed his divine attributes. :) – Radz Matthew Brown Jun 14 '14 at 12:37
Well personally I think it would be even better if you could combine the two reasons into one answer. But it doesn't really matter. – curiousdannii Jun 14 '14 at 23:12

It is difficult to make speculation on this verse and best choice would be to take it as beyond human understanding. This is more so because God is beyond our understanding and if we could understand Him than God would not be God but like one of us. Same is true of Jesus. In Christianity there are those things which are closely connected to Godhead and therefore they are difficult to fully understand with human mind. Other example is Trinity. There are no such riddles, which are beyond human understanding in other faiths as they are born out of human mind and imagination. Jesus is closely associated with the definition of God as He is the second person of Godhead and that is the reason He is of such a mysterious personality-both in His words and deeds.

Jesus being both Divine as well as human, there are declarations from Jesus in Bible verses relating to Himself which are both Divine as well as human. Some would identify such verses in the right perspective but for some it is a dilemma. Jesus frequently said many things that left a clear impression about His "human" nature. Nonetheless, at many other places in Bible, Jesus makes us abundantly clear about His "Divine" nature as well. This was however an indispensable necessity for the promised Messiah-to be both human and Divine- as otherwise His death on cross would have no power to provide salvation for humankind.

The verse in question could however be viewed from both these perspective.

Like the verse in question, there are other passages, which give an indication about Jesus' human nature. For example, Luke 2:52 indicates that Jesus as a human grew in wisdom; The best option for understanding Mark 13:32 and similar passages is to keep in mind that Jesus is a personality who is unparalleled in the history of this world on account of His Divine as well as human nature. Therefore, it is natural to find references to His both Divine as well as human nature.

When this versed is looked from Jesus' divine nature: Depending on the situation and subject of events which He was explaining to His disciples, the Son in his earthly life and ministry had to restrict the dissemination of some of the heavenly information and impart only a limited knowledge of certain things.

We get a glimpse of such a situation in this verse:

John 3:12 If I have told you people about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

Here Jesus was explaining Nicodemus about being "born-again" of water and spirit. Unless one experiences this, it is impossible to know and understand what it is. Jesus must have had a tough time in deciding what to say, when to say, how much to say and which one to say, when He was interacting with His disciples and making them aware of the things of this world and of the world to come.

So coming back to the verse in question, though Jesus decline to divulge the exact date giving an excuse of sort that only Father knows about it, this could be the restriction on dissemination of His full knowledge to humans. This is too evidently clear because; in the previous several verses prior to this verse, same Jesus has given a clear "running commentary" of sort about the things that would be happening prior to the culmination of that SAID DATE.

share|improve this answer

The Son has the ability to know but he does not have the authority to know.

A classic example of this is found in John 17:2 wherein the Father gave the Son authority to give eternal life which means he has the ability to do so.

After his resurrection, he was given all authority to use his divine nature and therefore, he knows both the day and the hour of his own return ( Matthew 28:18).

Jesus has power and this power cannot cease.What he doesn't have is the permission or the right to use it because he is the Son of the Father (2 John 1:3).A son is naturally of same nature with his father yet he is also naturally submissive to his father at the same time.

The truth shown in Mark 13:32 are these two:

  • Functional Subordination - the Son is not equal to the Father in role, authority and function.

  • Ontological Equality - the Son is equal to the Father in nature.

Key words:

Ability - the quality/state of being able to do something.

Authority -the freedom granted by one in authority i.e. right

Nature - a set of attributes, it is what innately belongs to someone.

share|improve this answer
The passage plainly states that "only the Father knows." So Jesus did not have the ability to know, much less have the authority to tell anyone. – Steve Nov 2 '13 at 11:59
@Steve Your conclusion does not follow - it is possible to have an ability without exercising it. – bruised reed Jun 14 '14 at 11:24

This question is mind blowing for a Protestant. The muslims are laughing by their explanations. But for an orthodox is very simple and consistent. He makes appeal to a Holy Tradition which has around 2000 years of experience revealed, recorded, tested over centuries by the Church through synods. Can be this compared with a weak understanding of using the power of logic of a single mind which tries connect some excepts, verses, semantics and word etymologies, changed over various translations of the scripture canon along the time?

All the answers before (chronologically) are heretical. @PeterTurner was the closest to the right interpretation. Let one of the father of the Church to explain to us, under the inspiration of Holy Spirit, what is the meaning of the Gospels, which God, the Son, refers to this passage:

+Saint John Chrysostom - Homily 77 on Matthew

But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. By saying, not the angels, He stopped their mouths, that they should not seek to learn what these angels know not; and by saying, neither the Son, forbids them not only to learn, but even to inquire. For in proof that therefore He said this, see after His resurrection, when He saw they had become over curious, how He stopped their mouths more decidedly. For now indeed He has mentioned infallible signs, many and endless; but then He says merely, It is not for you to know times or seasons. And then that they might not say, we are driven to perplexity, we are utterly scorned, we are not held worthy so much as of this, He says, which the Father has put in His own power. And this, because He was exceedingly careful to honor them, and to conceal nothing from them. Therefore He refers it to His Father, both to make the thing awful, and to exclude that of which He had spoken from their inquiry. Since if it be not this, but He is ignorant of it, when will He know it? Will it be together with us? But who would say this? And the Father He knows clearly, even as clearly as He knows the Son; and of the day is He ignorant? Moreover, the Spirit indeed searches even the deep things of God, 1 Corinthians 2:10 and does not He know so much as the time of the judgment? But how He ought to judge He knows, and of the secrets of each He has a full perception; and what is far more common than that, of this could He be ignorant? And how, if all things were made by Him, and without Him was not even one thing made, was He ignorant of the day? For He who made the worlds, it is quite plain that He made the times also; and if the times, even that day. How then is He ignorant of that which He made?

And ye, you heretics, who indeed say that you know even His substance, but that the Son not even the day, the Son, who is always in the bosom of the Father; and yet His substance is much greater than the days, even infinitely greater. How then, while assigning to yourselves the greater things, do you not allow even the less to the Son, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3 But neither do you know what God is in His substance, though ten thousand times ye talk thus madly, neither is the Son ignorant of the day, but is even in full certainty thereof.

For this cause, I say, when He had told all things, both the times and the seasons, and had brought it to the very doors (for it is near, He says, even at the doors), He was silent as to the day. For if you seek after the day and hour, you shall not hear them of me, says He; but if of times and preludes, without hiding anything, I will tell you all exactly.1

and the explanations continues with plenty scriptural arguments.

share|improve this answer
well, none of the answers sufficiently deal with the question. but for @Iulian to confidently declare that all other answers are "heretical" suffers the same superiority complex that many of the Pharisees had. and his (or her) "proof" by quoting the unheard "Saint John Hrisostom" is entirely non-convincing. i am 24 points short of giving this one the down arrow it deserves. – robert bristow-johnson Jan 4 '14 at 18:06
ah, Chrysostom, that guy i heard of. dunno if the "C" is silent, but the spelling makes a difference in name recognition. – robert bristow-johnson Jan 4 '14 at 18:25

protected by El'endia Starman Jan 5 '14 at 22:35

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.