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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Mark 16

Verses 1-8

XVI.

(1-8) And when the sabbath was past.—See Notes on Matthew 28:1-8. “Mary the mother of James” (not, as in Mark 15:40, of “James and Joses”) answers, as before, to the “other Mary” of Matthew 28:1. “Salome” appears, as before, in St. Mark only.

Verse 2

(2)At the rising of the sun.—Literally, when the sun had risen. There seems at first a slight discrepancy between this and St. Matthew’s “while it was yet dark.” A morning haze, however, or the partial continuance of the gloom which had shrouded the city on the previous day, may well be thought of as harmonizing the two accounts.

Verse 3

(3) And they said among themselves . . .—Literally, and they were saying to themselves. The words were on the point of rising to their lips as they looked up and saw the stone rolled away.

Verse 4

(4) For it was very great.—The words have been explained as giving the reason for their previous question, but it seems more natural to see in them St. Mark’s explanation of his having used the word “rolled away” instead of saying, simply, “taken away” or “removed.”

Verse 5

(5) A young man sitting on the right side.—So St. Mark describes the form which St. Matthew (Matthew 28:1) simply calls an “angel of the Lord.”

Verse 6

(6) Be not affrighted.—The words agree substantially with those in Matthew 28:5-8, but omit the fuller appeal to the women to remember the words which their Lord had spoken while He was yet with them in Galilee.

Verse 8

(8) They trembled and were amazed.—Literally, trembling and amazement seized them.

Verses 9-11

(9-11) First to Mary Magdalene.—See Notes on John 20:11-18, but note that St. Mark’s account of her as one from whom Jesus “had cast out seven devils” is not from St. John, but from Luke 8:2.

Verses 9-20

(9-20) Now when Jesus was risen early.—See Notes on Matthew 28:16-20. The history of the verses that follow is in every way remarkable. They are not found in two of the oldest MSS.—the Sinaitic and the Vatican—are marked as doubtful in many others, and are wanting in some versions. In some of these (e.g., in the Vatican MS.) there is a blank space left between Mark 16:8 and the beginning of St. Luke, as though the writer had suspended his work and waited for materials. The absence was noticed by Jerome, who says that “nearly all the Greek texts omit them.” Eusebius states the same fact as true of “the correct MSS.;” and no reference is made to them in the tables of parallel passages which were constructed for reference by Eusebius and Ammonius. On the other hand, they are referred to by Irenæus (about A.D. 170), and are found in the Alexandrian and Cambridge MSS., and in twelve other uncials which are nearly (some say, quite) as old as the two which omit them. When we turn to the internal evidence we find that the narrative, which up to this point had followed closely in the footsteps of St. Matthew, now becomes a very condensed epitome of St. John’s record of our Lord’s appearance to Mary Magdalene (Matthew 20:11-18), of St. Luke’s account of the journey to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), of the appearance to the ten disciples in John 20:19-25 and Luke 24:36-43, of the mission of the eleven reported in Matthew 28:16-20, of the Ascension as given by Luke 24:50-53. Two explanations of these facts are possible. (1) We may suppose that the writer of the Gospel wrote two copies of it, leaving one unfinished, ending at Mark 16:8; that this passed into the hands of persons by whom it was copied as complete, and so became the archetype of the MSS. in which the verses are wanting; while those that contain the subsequent verses were made from a more perfect text, written by St. Mark himself. (2) That the Gospel, having been originally completed by the writer, was in some way, by accident or design, mutilated; that as such it was reproduced faithfully by some transcribers, while others thought it better to give it a completion of some kind, by condensing what they found in the other Gospels. Of the two hypotheses the latter seems the more probable. It seems better, looking to these facts, to reserve notes, for the most part, for the Gospels in which the narratives appear in what was probably their original and certainly their fuller form.

Verses 12-13

(12-13) After that he appeared in another form.—See Notes on Luke 24:13-35.

Verse 14

(14) Afterward he appeared unto the eleven.—See Notes on Luke 24:36-43.

Verse 15

(15) And he said unto them.—See Notes on Matthew 28:16-20. There is much, however, that is so distinct in St. Mark’s report as to suggest the thought that it may have referred to a different occasion.

Preach the gospel to every creature.—Better, to the whole creation. The universality of the word is, of course, limited by the nature of the case.

Verse 16

(16) He that believeth not shall be damned.—Better, shall be condemned. The Greek word does not necessarily imply the idea of irreversible endless condemnation which has come to be attached to the English one.

Verse 17

(17) They shall speak with new tongues.—This is noticeable as being the only distinct reference in the Gospels to the form of the Pentecostal gift. The promise of the Spirit itself had been prominent, however, throughout our Lord’s teaching (Luke 11:13; John 14:17; John 14:26), and appears from Acts 1:8 to have been specially renewed between the Resurrection and Ascension. On the nature of the gift itself, see Notes on Acts 2:4; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:4-26.

Verse 18

(18) They shall take up serpents.—The instance of St. Paul at Melita is the only recorded example of the kind (Acts 28:1-6). Power over “serpents and scorpions” had, it will be remembered, been given before (Luke 10:19).

If they drink any deadly thing . . .—Of this there is no recorded instance in the New Testament, but it finds an illustration in the tradition of the poisoned cup which was offered to St. John.

Verses 19-20

(19-20) So then after the Lord had spoken.—See Note on Luke 24:53. St. Matthew, it will be remembered, gives no account of the Ascension. (See Note on Matthew 28:20.) St. Mark and St. Luke record it briefly. St. John implies it in his report of our Lord’s words (John 6:62; John 20:17). In Acts 1:3-11 it is narrated with greater fulness.

The form of the last two verses, the use of the “Lord” instead of Jesus, suggests the thought of their being a later addition to the original records of our Lord’s life and teaching. (See Note on Luke 7:13.)

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Mark 16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/mark-16.html. 1905.