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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
Mark 16

 

 

Verse 1

Mark 16:1. διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου, the Sabbath being past; similar use of διαγ- in Acts 25:13; Acts 27:9, and in late Greek authors; examples in Elsner, Wetstein, Raphel, e.g., διαγενομένων πάλιν ἐτῶν δέκα, Polyb., Hist., ii., 19.— ἠγόρασαν ἀρ., purchased spices; wherewith, mingled with oil, more perfectly to anoint the body of the Lord Jesus. The aorist implies that this purchase was made on the first day of the week. Lk. (Luke 23:56) points to the previous Friday evening. Harmonists (Grotius, e.g.) reconcile by taking ἠγόρ. as a pluperfect. “After sunset there was a lively trade done among the Jews, because no purchase could be made on Sabbath” (Schanz).


Verses 1-8

Verse 2

Mark 16:2. λίαν πρωῒ, very early in the morning, suggesting a time hardly consistent with the qualifying clause: ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου = when the sun was risen, which again does not harmonise with the “deep dawn” of Lk. and the “yet dark” of John. Mk.’s aim apparently is to emphasise the fact that what he is going to relate happened in broad daylight; Lk.’s to point out that the pious women were at their loving work as early on the Sunday morning as possible.


Verse 3

Mark 16:3. ἔλεγον πρὸς ἑαυτάς: as they went to the sepulchre, they kept saying to each other (ad invicem, Vulg(163), πρὸς ἀλλήλας, Euthy.).— τίς ἀποκυλίσει: their only solicitude was about the stone at the sepulchre’s mouth: no thought of the guards in Mk.’s account. The pious women thought not of angelic help. Men had rolled the stone forward and could roll it back, but it was beyond woman’s strength.


Verse 4

Mark 16:4. ἀναβλέψασαι, looking up, as they approached the tomb; suggestive of heavy hearts and downcast eyes, on the way thither.— ἦν γὰρ μέγας σφόδρα: this clause seems out of place here, and it has been suggested that it should be inserted after μνημείου in Mark 16:3, as explaining the women’s solicitude about the removal of the stone. As it stands, the clause explains how the women could see, even at a distance, that the stone had already been removed. It was a sufficiently large object. How the stone was rolled away is not said.


Verses 5-8

Mark 16:5-8. The women enter into the tomb through the open door, and experience a greater surprise.— νεανίσκον, a young man. In Mt.’s account it is an angel, and his position is not within the tomb, as here, but sitting on the stone without. Lk. has two men in shining apparel.— στολὴν λευκήν, in a white long robe, implying what is not said, that the youth is an angel. No such robe worn by young men on earth.


Verse 6

Mark 16:6. μὴ ἐκθαμβεῖσθε, “be not affrighted” (as they had been by the unexpected sight of a man, and wearing heavenly apparel); no ὑμεῖς after the verb here, as in Mt. after φοβεῖσθε, where there is an implied contrast between the women and the guards (vide on Mt.).— ἰησοῦν, etc., Jesus ye seek, the Nazarene, the crucified. Observe the objective, far-off style of description, befitting a visitor from another world.— ἠγέρθη, etc.: note the abrupt disconnected style: risen, not here, see ( ἴδε) the place (empty) where they laid Him. The empty grave, the visible fact; resurrection, the inference; when, how, a mystery ( ἄδηλον, Euthy.).


Verse 7

Mark 16:7. ἀλλὰ, but; change in tone and topic; gazing longer into the empty grave would serve no purpose: there is something to be done—go, spread the news! Cf. John 14:31 : But … arise, let us go hence!— καὶ τῷ πέτρῳ, and to Peter in particular: why? to the disciple who denied his Master? so the older interpreters—to Peter, with all his faults, the most important man in the disciple band? so most recent interpreters: ut dux Apostolici coetus, Grotius.— ὅτι, recit., introducing the very message of the angel. The message recalls the words of Jesus before His death (chap. Mark 14:28).— ἐκεῖ, there, pointing to Galilee as the main scene of the reappearing of Jesus to His disciples, creating expectation of a narrative by the evangelist of an appearance there, which, however, is not forthcoming.


Verse 8

Mark 16:8. ἐξελθοῦσαι, going out—of the sepulchre into which they had entered (Mark 16:5).— ἔφυγον, they fled, from the scene of such surprises. The angel’s words had failed to calm them; the event altogether too much for them.— τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις, trembling, caused by fear, and stupor, as of one out of his wits.— τρόμος = “tremor corporis”: ἔκστασις = “stupor animi,” Bengel.— οὐδενὶ οὐδὲν εἶπον: an unqualified statement as it stands here, no “on the way,” such as harmonists supply: “obvio scilicet,” Grotius.— ἐφοβοῦντο γὰρ gives the reason of this reticence so unnatural in women: they were in a state of fear. When the fear went off, or events happened which made the disciples independent of their testimony, their mouths would doubtless be opened.

So ends the authentic Gospel of Mark, without any account of appearances of the risen Jesus in Galilee or anywhere else. The one thing it records is the empty grave, and an undelivered message sent through three women to the disciples, promising a reunion in Galilee. Strange that a story of such thrilling interest should terminate so abruptly and unsatisfactorily. Was there originally a continuation, unhappily lost, containing, e.g., an account of a meeting of the Risen One in Galilee with His followers? Or was the evangelist prevented by some unknown circumstances from carrying into effect an intention to bring his story to a suitable close? We cannot tell. All we know (for the light thrown on the question by criticism, represented, e.g., by Tischendorf, Nov. Test., G. Ed., viii., vol. i., pp. 403–407; Hahn, Gesch. des. N. Kanons, ii., p. 910 ff.; Westcott and Hort, Introduction, Appendix, pp. 29–51, approaches certainty) is that Mark 16:9-20 of Mark 16 in our N. T. are not to be taken as the fulfilment of any such intention by the author of the second Gospel. The external evidence strongly points this way. The section is wanting in (164) (165) and in Syr. Sin(166) Jerome states (Ep. cxx., quaest. 3) that it was wanting in nearly all Greek copies (“omnibus Graecis libris pene”), and the testimony of Eusebius is to the same effect. The internal evidence of style confirms the impression made by the external: characteristic words of Mk. wanting, words not elsewhere found in the Gospel occurring (e.g., ἐθεάθη, Mark 16:11), the narrative a meagre, colourless summary, a composition based on the narratives of the other Gospels, signs ascribed to believers, some of which wear an apocryphal aspect (vide Mark 16:18). Some, in spite of such considerations, still regard these verses as an integral part of Mk.’s work, but for many the question of present interest is: what account is to be given of them, viewed as an indubitable addendum by another hand? Who wrote this conclusion, when, and with what end in view? We wait for the final answers to these questions, but important contributions have recently been made towards a solution of the problem. In an Armenian codex of the Gospels, written in 986 A.D., the close of Mk. (Mark 16:9-20), separated by a space from what goes before to show that it is distinct, has written above it: “Of the Presbyter Aristion,” as if to suggest that he is the author of what follows. (vide Expositor, October, 1893. Aristion, the Author of the last Twelve Verses of Mark, by F. C. Conybeare, M.A.) More recently Dr. Rohrbach has taken up this fact into his interesting discussion on the subject already referred to (vide on Matthew 28:9-10), and appreciated its significance in connection with the preparation of a four-gospel Canon by certain Presbyters of Asia Minor in the early part of the second century. His hypothesis is that in preparing this Canon the Presbyters felt it necessary to bring the Gospels into accord, especially in reference to the resurrection, that in their preaching all might say the same thing on that vital topic. In performing this delicate task, the fourth Gospel was taken as the standard, and all the other Gospels were to a certain extent altered in their resurrection sections to bring them into line with its account. In Mt. and Lk. the change made was slight, simply the insertion in the former of two verses (Matthew 28:9-10), and in the latter of one (Luke 24:12). In Mk., on the other hand, it amounted to the removal of the original ending, and the substitution for it of a piece taken from a writing by Aristion the Presbyter, mentioned by Papias. The effect of the changes, if not their aim, was to take from Peter the honour of being the first to see the risen Lord, and from Galilee that of being the exclusive theatre of the Christophanies. It is supposed that the original ending of Mk. altogether ignored the Jerusalem appearances, and represented Jesus, in accordance with the statement of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5), as showing Himself (in Galilee) first to Peter, then to the Twelve. The inference is based partly on Mark 16:7, and partly on the relative section of the Gospel of Peter, which, following pretty closely Mk.’s account as far as Mark 16:8, goes on to tell how the Twelve found their way sad of heart to their old homes, and resumed their old occupations. In all this Rohrbach, a pupil of Harnack’s, is simply working out a hint thrown out by his master in his Dogmengeschichte, vol. i., p. 346, 3 Ausg. It would be premature to accept the theory as proved, but it is certainly entitled to careful consideration, as tending to throw some light on an obscure chapter in the early history of the Gospels, and on the ending of the canonical Gospel of Mark in particular.


Verses 9-11

Mark 16:9-11. ἀναστὰς δὲ refers to Jesus, who, however, is not once named in the whole section. This fact with the δὲ favours the hypothesis that the section is a fragment of a larger writing.— πρωῒ πρώτῃ σαβ.: whether these words are to be connected with ἀναστὰς, indicating the time of the resurrection, or with ἐφάνη, indicating the time of the first appearance, cannot be decided (vide Meyer).— πρῶτον ΄αρίᾳ τ. ΄., first to Mary of Magdala, as in John (John 20:14).— παρʼ ἧς, etc.: this bit of information, taken from Luke 8:2, is added as if this woman were a stranger never mentioned before in this Gospel, a sure sign of another hand.— ἐφάνη, in this verse = appeared to, does not elsewhere occur in this sense.


Verses 9-20

Mark 16:9-20 may be divided into three parts corresponding more or less to sections in John, Luke, and Matthew, and not improbably based on these; Mark 16:9-11, answering to John 20:14-18; John 20:12-14, answering to Luke 24:13-35; Luke 24:15-18, answering to Matthew 28:19. Mark 16:19-20 wind up with a brief reference to the ascension and the subsequent apostolic activity of the disciples.


Verse 10

Mark 16:10. ἐκείνη, she, without emphasis, not elsewhere so used.— πορευθεῖσα: the simple verb πορεύεσθαι, three times used in this section (Mark 16:12; Mark 16:15), does not occur anywhere else in this Gospel.— τοῖς μετʼ αὐτοῦ γενομένοις: the reference is not to the disciples in the stricter sense who are called the Eleven (Mark 16:14), but to the friends of Jesus generally, an expression not elsewhere occurring in any of the Gospels.


Verse 11

Mark 16:11. ἐθεάθη, was seen. This verb, used again in Mark 16:14, is foreign to Mk., as is also ἀπιστεῖν, also twice used here ( ἠπίστησαν, Mark 16:11; ἀπιστήσας, Mark 16:16).


Verses 12-14

Mark 16:12-14. μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα, afterwards (only here in Mk.); vaguely introducing a second appearance in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem.— δυσὶν ἐξ αὐτῶν, to two of the friends of Jesus previously referred to, not of the Eleven. Cf. with Luke 24:13. It is not only the same fact, but the narrative here seems borrowed from Lk.— ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ, in a different form. Serving no purpose here, because the fact it accounts for, the non-recognition of Jesus by the two disciples (Luke 24:16), is not mentioned.— εἰς ἀγρόν: for εἰς κώμην in Lk. The use of φανεροῦσθαι in the sense of being manifested to, in Mark 16:12, is peculiar to this section (again in Mark 16:14).


Verse 14

Mark 16:14. ὕστερον, at a later time; vague indication, here only. It is difficult to identify this appearance with any one mentioned in the other Gospels. What follows in Mark 16:15, containing the final commission, seems to point to the farewell appearance in Galilee (Matthew 28:16), but the ἀνακειμένοις (Mark 16:14) takes us to the scene related in Luke 24:36-43, though more than the Eleven were present on that occasion. The suggestion has been made (Meyer, Weiss, etc.) that the account here blends together features taken from various appearances. The main points for the narrator are that Jesus did appear to the Eleven, and that He found them in an unbelieving mood.


Verses 15-18

Mark 16:15-18. The Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).— εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα, added to Mt.’s πορευθέντες.— κηρύξατε τ. εὐ.: this more specific and evangelic phrase replaces Mt.’s μαθητεύσατε, and πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει gives more emphatic expression to the universal destination of the Gospel than Mt.’s πάντα τὰ ἔθνη.


Verse 16

Mark 16:16 is a poor equivalent for Mt.’s reference to baptism, insisting as it does, in an ecclesiastical spirit, on the necessity of baptism rather than on its significance as an expression of the Christian faith in God the Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus may not have spoken as Mt. reports, but the words put into His mouth by the first evangelist are far more worthy of the Lord than those here ascribed to Him.


Verse 17

Mark 16:17. Here also we find a great lapse from the high level of Mt.’s version of the farewell words of Jesus: signs, physical charisms, and thaumaturgic powers, taking the place of the spiritual presence of the exalted Lord. Casting out devils represents the evangelic miracles; speaking with tongues those of the apostolic age; taking up venomous serpents and drinking deadly poison seem to introduce us into the twilight of apocryphal story. Healing of the sick by laying on of hands brings us back to apostolic times. θανάσιμον is a ἅπ. λεγ.


Verse 19-20

Mark 16:19-20. The story ends with a brief notice of the ascension of the Lord Jesus on the one hand ( μὲν), and of the apostolic activity of the Eleven on the other ( δὲ). Lk., who means to tell the story of the acts of the Apostles at length, contents himself with reporting that the Eleven returned from Bethany, his scene of parting, to Jerusalem, not with sadness but with joy, there to worship and wait.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Mark 16:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/mark-16.html. 1897-1910.

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