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Bible Commentaries
Mark 16

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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After Mark describes the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection to the women at the tomb (1-8), he records His appearances to Mary Magdalene (9-11), to two disciples enroute to Emmaus (12-13), and to the Eleven (14). He then concludes his gospel with accounts of Christ’s giving the Great Commission (15-16), the promise of signs of power (17-18), and His ascension (19-20).

Scholars have debated for years whether the last twelve verses of chapter sixteen are authentic. Dr. Plummer argues:

Writers and preachers might be allowed to assume that these verses are no part of the Gospel according to St. Mark with as much freedom as they assume that the words about the Three Heavenly Witnesses are no part of the First Epistle of John (365).

This commentator agrees with Dean John W. Burgon, who makes the strong argument that the last twelve verses are genuine. For a full discussion of the controversy, see the Introduction to this commentary.

Verse 1

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

And when the sabbath was past: This phrase means "when the sabbath is over" or, in other words, after sunset on the day that follows the crucifixion.

Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him: These same three women witness the crucifixion (15:40) while two of them, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joses, witness the burial of Jesus (15:47). Jesus’ body is buried late on Friday afternoon, and the women rest on the sabbath that begins at sunset that evening. Although Luke’s account (23:56) implies the women have purchased the spices on Friday, it is probable they purchased them after sunset that closes the sabbath (Saturday). Luke does not actually specify the time of the purchase of the spices, as does Mark, but is careful to point out that the women do not break the sabbath. The sweet spices are probably aromatic oils to be used to anoint the body of Jesus. It is not customary for Jews to mummify the corpse, but they anoint the body with sweet smelling oils to offset the odor of decomposition. Joseph and Nicodemus have already sprinkled the burial clothes of Jesus with spices--probably a mixture of myrrh and aloes--but the body itself has not been anointed with oil. The word "anoint" implies the sweet smelling oil is to be poured over Jesus’ head. W. Michaelis points out that the preparations the women make to return to the tomb on the third day to anoint Jesus’ body show that they have no expectations of an immediate resurrection (Kittel, Vol. VII 458).

Verse 2

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Mark’s two statements about the time have perplexed many commentators. The expression "very early in the morning" normally refers to the period between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., which is prior to sunrise. Yet, Mark specifically says the women arrive at the sepulchre "at the rising of the sun," which is literally translated "the sun having risen." Apparently Mark’s statement is a compressed statement of two facts: the women leave Bethany, which is about two miles from Jerusalem, very early in the morning before the rising of the sun, and they arrive at the tomb shortly after sunrise.

Verse 3

And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

As the women approach the sepulchre, their main concern is about the gigantic stone that has been used to seal the entrance. They have witnessed Joseph and Nicodemus, who are probably assisted by servants, roll the stone to seal the tomb (see comments on 15:46). The women seem to be unaware of the official sealing of the tomb and the posting of guards by the Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:62-66).

Verse 4

And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

As the women near the sepulchre, they are startled to see the enormous stone has already been rolled back. Mark offers no details as to how the stone is removed, but Matthew explains:

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow (28:2-3).

Verse 5

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side: By the time the women reach the tomb, the young man (angel) has entered into it and is sitting on the right side of the burial chamber. Mark does not identify the "young man" as an angel, but it is obvious he and Matthew describe the same heavenly messenger. Often in the Bible, angels are described as manifesting themselves so as to appear as men (Kittel, Vol. I 76-83).

clothed in a long white garment: Matthew says, "His countenance was like lightening, and his raiment white as snow" (28:3). Clearly, Matthew and Mark are describing the same being. When used as a symbol, white is almost always used as a heavenly color (Kittel, Vol. IV 244-266); and here it indicates the dazzling, glorious nature of the heavenly messenger.

and they were affrighted: The word "affrighted" is ekthambeo and is better translated "amazed, astonished, awestruck" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 124). The women have come to the tomb expecting to anoint the body of Jesus, but instead they find the stone rolled back, the body of Jesus gone, and the presence of an angel. No wonder they are startled and greatly amazed.

Verse 6

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: The fact that the tomb is empty is no guarantee the women would automatically believe Jesus is resurrected; they may have just wondered, "What happened to the body?" In order to remove any doubt, God sends His messenger to declare the wonderful news of the resurrection. The angel begins with a word of reassurance, "Be not affrighted"; in other words, "Do not be startled and amazed. Be of good cheer!"

Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: The full description given by the angel would ensure no one would misunderstand about whom he speaks--the Jesus they knew in Galilee and the same one who was just crucified. Beginning at that moment, Jesus will forever be "the Crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 3:1).

he is risen: The stunning announcement is made! "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, but you are too late. He is already risen."

he is not here: behold the place where they laid him: The angel speaking gently, but with simple directness, encourages the women to erase any doubts they may have of Jesus’ resurrection by inspecting the tomb. The shelf upon which Jesus’ body has been laid is empty. John says the graveclothes are lying there, and the napkin (head wrap) is neatly folded and lying in a place by itself (20:6-7). Luke reports the angel adds these words:

Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words (24:5-8).

It is significant the Jewish leaders never dispute the fact that the tomb is empty. The story they fabricate of the theft of the body (Matthew 28:11-14) offers further proof the tomb is empty (Justin, Vol. I 108).

It is ironic that the first witnesses to the resurrection are women because Josephus says that women are not eligible as witnesses under Jewish law (97). The simple fact that the first witnesses are women must have contributed to their testimony’s being disregarded (Luke 24:11; Luke 24:22-24; Mark 16:11).

Verse 7

But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

But go your way: The expression is alla upagete ktl and means "Do not linger here wondering, but go to those who greatly need to know this fact!" (Plummer 368). Swete says the statement "recalls their thoughts from the wonder and awe of the announcement which they had just received to the duty which lay im­mediately before them" (398).

tell his disciples and Peter: They are still "his disciples," in spite of the fact they have all fled during His time of suffering. Peter is specifically mentioned because he is the leader of the Eleven and because the angel wants to assure Peter his denials of Jesus are forgiven. He is still grieving over his threefold denial of Jesus, and he would treasure this special encouragement sent to him.

that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you: Jesus promises His disciples they will be reunited with Him in Galilee after His resurrection (14:28), but His prediction has made too little impression upon them. Hence, it is necessary for the angel to remind them that Jesus has appointed them a meeting place in Galilee and that everything will be done just as He has promised.

Verse 8

And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: The words of the angel still the women for just a moment; but once the angel ceases speaking, their first impulse is to get away from the tomb as quickly as possible. They are profoundly shocked, terrified, and unable for the moment to collect their thoughts or control themselves. The women’s reaction is similar to the reaction of Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. On that occasion the three disciples are so frightened they do not know what to say (9:6).

neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid: At first, the tremor of the women is so great that they are unable to think of the wonderful and joyous content of the angel’s message. They are too frightened to think of anything else but escape, and they forget for the moment to share with others the glad tidings. It will take a little time for the minds of the women to absorb the events they have just experienced. Later, after the initial shock has subsided, Matthew says that "great joy" is mingled with their fear, and they run to tell Jesus’ disciples (28:8).

Verse 9

Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week: This phrase is Anastas proi protei sabbatou, literally translated, "And rising early on the first day of the week" (Marshall 215). This phrase thus determines the time when the resurrection of Jesus takes place--on the third day, as the Lord has foretold, though before daybreak, perhaps in the earliest hour of the morning watch (Swete 399).

he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils: Mark mentions Mary Magdalene as though she has not already been introduced (15:40, 47; 16:1). Both Mark and Luke (8:2) identify her as the one from whom Jesus has cast out seven demons. Perhaps it is "to show the power of love and penitence, that she was the first to be permitted to see the risen Savior" (Bickersteth 347). Mary has been terrified by the angel, but Jesus’ appearance gives her reassurance; and she follows His instructions to go and tell the wonderful news to His disciples (John 20:11-18).

Verse 10

And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

Jesus has earlier predicted to His disciples:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy (John 16:20).

As Mary Magdalene arrives at the place of the disciples, she finds them mourning and weeping over Jesus’ death while the world is rejoicing in keeping the Feast. True to Jesus’ prophecy, though, the disciples’ sorrow is soon to be turned into joy.

Verse 11

And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

Mary Magdalene reports to the disciples that Jesus is alive and that she has seen Him with her own eyes. This is the persistent testimony of the first witnesses of Jesus, that they have actually seen Him. But the disciples refuse to believe Mary’s testimony. They are like many others who would believe that Jesus is alive again only if they could see Him with their own eyes. Thomas is only one of many skeptics (16:16; Luke 24:11; Luke 24:41; John 20:24).

Verse 12

After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

After that he appeared in another form: The precise meaning of "another form" is not clear. It could not refer to Jesus’ glorified form that He manifested at the transfiguration because these two men mistake Him as an ordinary wayfarer. The expression probably means His appearance is different from the way they have previously known Him. Mark does not explain how, but in some way Jesus’ appearance has changed.

unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country: It is probable these are the two disciples who are enroute to Emmaus. Luke gives a full account of this same incident (24:13-35).

Verse 13

And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.

And they went and told it unto the residue: The two disciples return to Jerusalem and tell the rest, especially the Eleven. Luke says, "And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them" (24:33).

neither believed they them: These two men have no better success in convincing others of the resurrection of Jesus than Mary Magdalene.

Verse 14

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat: According to Mark, Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene, thus honoring those women who had shown such love and devotion during His crucifixion and burial. Next, He appears to the two disciples enroute to Emmaus. Finally, He appears to the apostles, who fled from Him during His time of crisis. If this appearance refers to the day of Jesus’ resurrection, there would have been only ten of the disciples present because Thomas is not there. Still they may be called "the Eleven" because "the Eleven" and "the Twelve" are used to designate the "Apostolic college, independently of the exact number (John 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:5)" (Plummer 373).

and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart: The word "upbraided" is translated from oneidisen and is a strong word of rebuke. Nowhere else is this word used to refer to Jesus’ rebuking of His disciples. They are guilty of unbelief and hardness of heart.

because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen: They should have received the testimony of competent witnesses. Cole adds these comments:

Unbelief and hardness of heart had long been the besetting sins of the disciples (e.g. Mark 9:19), and nowhere were they more apparent than in this reluctance to believe in the resurrection. Yet, by God’s law, these two very things would be the greatest obstacles in the apostolic preaching of the gospel to others. If we want to understand the blindness and perversity of the man outside Christ, we need only look at our own hearts to understand and be humbled (260).

Verse 15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

And he said unto them: Just as Jesus has heralded the gospel in Galilee (1:14), the Eleven are to be the heralds of the gospel to the world. Jesus gives this commission to His apostles while they are on the mountain in Galilee, a little over a week after His resurrection--an interval of time completely ignored by Mark. It is probable this charge is the same one recorded by Matthew (28:19) and repeated immediately before Jesus’ ascension from Bethany (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8).

Go ye into all the world: The apostles’ preaching is not to be confined to Judea, but it is to extend to all the world--to Gentiles as well as Jews. It is not until after Peter’s vision (Acts 10) sends him to preach to the household of Cornelius that the Jewish Christians understand the universal nature of the gospel.

and preach the gospel: The word "preach" is from keruxate and means "to publish; to proclaim openly" (Thayer 346). The verb is in the second person, plural number, and imperative mood, meaning Jesus is commanding "You preach," speaking directly to the apostles. The word "gospel" is euaggelion and means the "good news" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 172). The gospel is the wonderful news that we can have the forgiveness of sins through the atoning death of Jesus. Paul gives this explanation of "the gospel":

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Paul adds the gospel is God’s power unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

to every creature: This phrase is pasei tei ktisei and is better translated "to all the creation" (Marshall 216). The gospel is to be offered to every human being. Contrast this commission with the first one Jesus gives His apostles during His early Galilean ministry:

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6).

Now Jesus commands His apostles to offer salvation to all men. If they choose to reject salvation, it is their own fault. God is not to blame if men do not choose to be saved.

Verse 16

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

He that believeth: Jesus is still speaking directly to His apostles, and He tells them that in order to be saved all mankind must believe the gospel they preach--that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The gospel is to be presented in such a way that it may be believed.

and is baptized: Matthew’s parallel account says:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (28:19-20).

There are several model cases of conversion recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that illustrate the apostles’ carrying out this Great Commission. Each case of conversion begins with the preaching of the gospel. If the hearers believe the gospel, they are instructed to repent of their sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30), confess their faith in Christ (Acts 8:37), and be baptized "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). The word "baptism" means to "immerse"; and, thus, Paul refers to it as a burial (Romans 6:4).

Some argue the baptism Jesus commands in the Great Commission is the baptism of the Holy Spirit; and consequently, our salvation depends upon our being baptized in the Spirit. Water baptism is a command (Acts 10:47-48) while the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a promise. We obey commands and not promises; therefore, it follows that the baptism commanded by the Great Commission is water baptism and not the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

shall be saved: Jesus’ words here and in Matthew 28:19-20 clearly link both belief and baptism as prerequisites to salvation. Jesus makes it clear that salvation is the result not of merely believing, but of believing and being baptized. The one who believes and is baptized shall be saved from sin (Matthew 1:21) and eternal death (John 5:24; John 3:36) and raised to eternal life in heaven (John 5:28; John 17:2; John 17:24).

but he that believeth not shall be damned: The expression "shall be damned" is from katakrithesetai and is better translated "shall be condemned" (Marshall 216). Some have inferred from this phrase that baptism is not a part of the conditions of salvation. Robertson argues:

The omission of baptized with "disbelieveth" would seem to show that Jesus does not make baptism essential to salvation. Condemnation rests on disbelief, not on baptism. So salvation rests on belief. Baptism is merely the picture of the new life not the means of securing it (Word Pictures in the New Testament 405).

Robertson’s logic is faulty. Jesus makes it clear that salvation rests on belief and baptism, but disbelief alone is enough to condemn. A sinner must believe the gospel before he is baptized (Acts 8:36-37); consequently, if a sinner refuses to believe, he is condemned already (John 3:18) and does not have to refuse to be baptized to be condemned. Swete adds:

Both the acceptance of the Gospel and the ministration of baptism precede salvation...There is no need to repeat the reference to baptism: apistesas (disbelief) carries with it the neglect of the sacrament of faith, but in itself it is sufficient to secure condemnation (405).

Plummer agrees: "In the case of apistesas (disbelief) there was no need to say anything about baptism; that of course was rejected" (374).

Verse 17

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

And these signs: "Signs" is from semeia and means "a wonderful work, miraculous operation, miracle" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 365).

shall follow them that believe: Jesus is still speaking directly to the apostles (second person) and makes reference to another group, "them that believe" (third person). This expression is taken from pois pisteusasin and is literally translated "the ones believing" (Marshall 216). Jesus’ language shows the promise of "signs" is not just for the apostles but also includes their converts. In fact, Jesus’ words specifically refer to the apostles’ converts. In direct discourse the word you is used of people spoken to while they or them (third person) is used of people spoken about. Thus, when Jesus says in direct discourse to the apostles, "These signs shall accompany them," He must have been referring to people other than the apostles. A casual reading of 1 Corinthians 12-13 and Galatians 3:5 shows Jesus’ promise of miraculous signs or gifts (charisma) is fulfilled in the early church. The same passages, however, clearly reveal that not every believer, even in the apostles’ age, is attended by these signs. Plummer says in reference to "them that believe":

The writer (Mark) does not say to pisteusanti (some believers), nor does he add pasin (every). His own experience must have taught him that not each individual believer, but only some of those who believed, had these charismata iamaton (gifts of healing) (1 Corinthians 12:30)....In any case, the promise was to the Church collectively. The writer would not have put into the mouth of Christ a prediction which everyone knew had not been fulfilled. On the other hand, both in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and Galatians 3:5, St Paul treats the possession of extraordinary powers by some of his converts as a well-known fact (374-375).

In my name: Jesus places this phrase at the beginning of His promise and greatly emphasizes it. The power some of the believers would receive would not be their own and is not to be used for their own glory.

shall they cast out devils: The apostles and "the seventy" have already exercised the power of casting out demons in the name of Christ in their Galilean missions (6:13; Luke 10:17). In fact, there are some not even formally traveling with the apostles who have demonstrated this power (9:38). Jesus now promises this power is to be extended to others in the early church.

they shall speak with new tongues: This phrase is the first hint of the great miracle to be introduced on the day of Pentecost. "New tongues" are foreign languages--languages that have not been studied. On Pentecost the apostles miraculously speak in thirteen different languages. Other references to speaking "with new tongues" are found in Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 14:5. This gift would continue for a very short time in the early church (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Verse 18

They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

They shall take up serpents: The incident involving Paul on the island of Malta (Acts 28:3-6) is an example of this sign.

and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: There is no example in the New Testament of this specific prediction being fulfilled. There are famous legends about incidents of this nature, however, such as the Apostle John’s (Ellicott 267) and later Justus Barsabbas’, drinking a cup of poison without being harmed (Eusebius, Vol. I 172). There are many such, unverifiable legends.

they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover: Jesus often uses this method of healing as do the apostles (6:5; Acts 3:6-8; Acts 5:12-16; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:10-12).

Even though the signs (miraculous spiritual gifts) promised by Jesus to some of the first century Christians are only temporary in duration (1 Corinthians 13:8-10), some argue that if Jesus’ words in verse 16 ("He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved") apply to us today, His words in verses 17 and 18 ("And these signs shall follow them that believe...") also apply to us today. Consequently, various religious sects claim to possess miraculous power to heal physical and mental illnesses and to speak in "new tongues."

The problem with this conclusion is that Mark does not tell the whole story concerning spiritual gifts. Mark also says nothing in this context about the need for repentance and confession, and, thus, it is only by compiling all the teachings of Jesus that we learn of these two conditions of salvation. Similarly, Mark says nothing about how these miraculous signs are to be acquired by believers or how long they are to last. A careful reading of Acts 8:12-18 and Acts 19:1-7 shows, however, that miraculous spiritual gifts were imparted to the first century Christians only through the "laying on of the apostles’ hands." When the apostles died, there was no one left on earth who had power to impart spiritual gifts by the laying on of hands. Conse­quently, when the last man upon whom the apostles laid their hands died, there was no one left on earth who could work miracles.

Verse 19

So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

So then after the Lord had spoken unto them: An interval of time, which Mark does not mention, has lapsed. Jesus is again at Bethany, the scene of His ascension, and has completed His communications with His apostles. Here, Mark records only a sampling of Jesus’ total teachings before His ascension.

he was received up into heaven: This expression is from anelemphthe and is literally translated "was taken up" (Marshall 217). The verb is in the passive voice and indicates Jesus ascends by the power of heaven rather than by His own will and power. Mark refers to the monumental event of Jesus’ ascension in an extremely brief and simple manner while Matthew makes no mention of it at all. Although Luke gives the most complete accounts of the ascension (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-12), some believe his accounts contradict one another. Luke’s gospel account says Jesus ascends up from Bethany while his narrative in Acts says Jesus’ ascension is from the Mount of Olives. Since Bethany lies on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, the expressions are technically the same.

and sat on the right hand of God: This is a highly symbolical phrase used to indicate the transcendent glory of the ascended Christ. It is in this glorious state that Jesus is later revealed to Stephen (Acts 7:55-56). On that occasion, however, Jesus is pictured as standing to honor and encourage the dying Stephen rather than sitting as ruler and judge. Sitting at the right hand symbolizes "permanance, rest, and dominion--in glory, majesty, and felicity (Psalms 110:1)--after the toils, humiliations, and sufferings of life upon earth" (Plummer 377). The apostles often mention this exalted position of Christ (Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 12:2).

Verse 20

And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

And they went forth: This phrase refers to the apostles and the other disciples who help in the ministry of preaching the word.

and preached every where: Mark rapidly condenses the work of the apostles. He says nothing about their return to Jerusalem and the establishment of the church on Pentecost, both of which take place before the apostles could be sent out as missionaries to preach everywhere.

the Lord working with them: The phrase "working with them" is translated from sunergountos and means "to assist, to afford aid to, to cooperate" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 388).

and confirming the word with signs following: Jesus cooperates with the apostles and their associates by confirming, with miraculous signs, their preaching as being ordained of heaven.

All that is required to make ordinary events believable is ordinary confirmation. For example, if someone testifies that an eighty-year-old person becomes ill and dies, all that is required to make that testimony believable is ordinary confirmation. But if someone testifies they know a person who is 150 years old, and that person is enjoying unabated health and vigor today, we would have to have stronger confirmation to believe the story. Accordingly, testimony of miraculous events, such as the death, burial, and miraculous resurrection of Jesus, must have miraculous confirmation to make the testimony believable. Mark points out that is precisely the purpose of the miraculous signs listed in verses 17 and 18; they are used by the apostles to confirm the testimony of Christ. The writer of Hebrews adds:

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (2:3-4).

Thus, miraculous signs were exclusively used for confirming the preaching of the gospel; when the gospel was fully revealed and confirmed, miraculous signs ceased to exist (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

Today, there are many good, misguided people desperately seeking relief from some physical or mental illness, who would like to believe these miraculous signs still exist and can be used for personal reasons. Religious charlatans have become rich by preying upon the vulnerability of such people. If these miraculous signs still exist and can be used for personal reasons, no one would ever remain sick because we would lay hands on them and heal them. Further, there would be no need for cemeteries because no one would ever die. But even the Apostle Paul had a vexing, chronic physical malady of which he could not rid himself (2 Corinthians 12:7-9); and, of course, all of the apostles are dead, conclusively proving these signs were not intended to be permanent or to be used for personal reasons.

Amen: "So be it."

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Mark 16". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/mark-16.html. 1993-2022.
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