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Bible Commentaries
Mark 16

Derickson's Notes on Selected BooksDerickson on Selected Books

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Verses 1-6



Mark 16:1 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. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 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. 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.

There is much discussion about what day the Lord was crucified. I did a study long ago on the topic and came to the conclusion that it was on Wed. and that He rose Saturday or Sunday morning very early. The key is that He was raised from the dead, not what day he was killed however some feel that this is a very important issue. There are explanations that make fairly good sense that He was crucified on Friday, though I reject that thought.

It is easily proven that he was indeed in the grave for three days and three nights as was prophesied. It is for this reason that I hold to the Wednesday conclusion rather than the Friday theory. It was said that He would be in the grave three so three would indicate three twenty-four hour periods. This makes the best sense of all the information we are given. More on the topic can be found in my "Mr. D’s Notes on Lots of Other Things."

The women knew of the stone covering the entrance and were concerned about it as they went to the tomb to add spices to the Lord’s body for burial. This would show that the women had not understood all that the Lord had taught them either. They were taking spices for a corpse and they were going into a grave looking for the same. They had no understanding of the resurrection. If anyone should have known it would have been the apostles, but surely these that were so devoted to him would have known, but they did not.

Upon entering the tomb they are confronted with a young man who was likely an angel. He tells them not to be afraid for he sensed that they feared their situation. He then tells them that the Lord has been raised from the dead and shows them where His body had been prior to the resurrection.

Matthew 28:1 tells us that it was dawn on Monday. "Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre."

Verse two of Matthew tells us for certain that this man was an angel and that he was the cause of the women’s fear. "And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was aslightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 and for fear of him the watchers did quake, and became as dead men."

Now this passage mentions another earthquake. It would seem that some of those involved with the Lord’s trial/crucifixion would have wondered at these "natural" occurrences and wondered if they were related to their actions.

This was a supernatural event related to the raising of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Some might wonder if the Lord rose at the rolling away of the stone or prior to that event. It is possible that the body was in the grave till that point but there is nothing to show that the Lord’s spiritual presence was not up and out of there long before. When we die, our body is separated from our spiritual so there is nothing to indicate that the Lord’s experience was any different than ours.

Whether the body was taken to heaven or whether it was reunited, as ours will be, with His spiritual being we are not told. I suspect that His spiritual was active external from the grave and that His body was glorified as ours will be at the rapture. We go to be with the Lord spiritually while our body goes to the grave, yet it is a seed for our glorified body in some manner. All this seems consistent - Christ’s experience was as ours will be.

Imagine the confusion in their minds. They found their "Messiah" but He was killed. They come to anoint Him and He is gone, raised from the dead. Even if they really grasped what raised from the dead meant, what total confusion. All that He said must have been running through their minds to try to make sense of the whole situation.

The raising of Lazarus should have given them indication of things to come when the Lord spoke to them of things coming toward them in the future. It seems that they missed all of this information or just did not know how to put it all together.

Now if it had been me I would have had to add frustration to the mix. You know, I have my day planned, this twenty minutes is set aside to anoint the guy, and now He isn’t here - where is he how long is it going to take to find Him and what is He going to want me to do, my day is now a total mess. Nothing is going to work out.

I would think, however, that their confusion and shock soon turned to excitement and joy over His being alive even if they had no idea what was going on.

Verses 7-8


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. 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.

Well maybe the excitement and joy is yet to arrive, but they leave in fear of all that they had seen and heard. The message was to go to Galilee to meet Him "as he said unto you." Now, just when did this conversation occur? Robertson mentions "Jesus did appear to the disciples in Galilee on two notable occasions (by the beloved lake, John 21:1-25, and on the mountain, Matthew 28:16-20)." however does not mention the discussion about meeting them.

Mark 14:28 is the text that we are looking for. "But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee."

Rather seems that He knew some things in advance. He knew of His death and of His resurrection and of His going to Galilee after it is over. Why He went to Galilee is not clear other than it being a meeting place for the group that He had spent so much time with, in a comfortable familiar area.

There is probably the thought that He did not want to be in Jerusalem where the Jewish leaders were. He did not want to stir up the hornet’s nest and go through all that would have entailed. They had rejected Him and killed Him thus had He appeared there would have been confrontations that had no place in the plan of God. The Jews were now out of the picture for a time and He would concentrate on other things that needed to be attended to.

There is the other side, now that the Jews had rejected Him, His people were now the little band of believers that had followed Him off to Jerusalem. The crowds are not involved at this point; only the small band that had followed Him through thick and then - well followed afar off as we have seen.

Gill makes an interesting statement. "This news was first brought to the apostles by women, who were greatly honoured hereby; that as the woman was first in the transgression, and the cause of death," I will let you chew a little on that one. True it was the women who brought the news and true it was an honor to the women who seemed closest to the Lord in this time, but as to "that as the woman was first in the transgression and the cause of death" I would challenge the reader to consider this carefully for clarity and truth. Does that really fit into the Biblical theological concept of the fall and transmission of the sin nature through the father? Was Eve really first?

Do a little Bible study and see if you can agree with Gill.

Peter seems singled out from the other apostles, but note it is not to be excluded from the group only singled out in a special manner. Most likely to draw him into the coming events in case he felt that he had so failed the Lord that he should be excluded from the group.

We should take interest in this invitation to Peter to be a part of events coming. When we fail the Lord most miserably He is there to invite us back into His fellowship. We can do nothing in this life that can isolate us from fellowship with Him except isolate ourselves from Him. He is there all we have to do is seek His forgiveness (1 John 1:9)

We ought to understand Peter’s fear as well. He did not deny the Lord out of lack of commitment, but lack of the ability to overcome his fear of being arrested. This is a fear we in America should consider. Believers around the world are being persecuted and have been formany years. There is legislation introduced quite often in our own congress that would take away the rights of Christians to speak out against sin.

Since we are called to speak out the truth of the cross it is likely that in our own future we will face a similar fear to that of Peter; the fear of being arrested for giving witness to the Lord.

The fear of the women seems to have related to the new and unknown. I am sure they were not used to seeing angels sitting on a stone or anywhere else for that matter. Add to that the reality of being told that a dead man was now alive was probably rather shocking. They may have witnessed the raising of Lazarus, but this was certainly not a common sight in the land.

There is also that thought of knowing in their minds that they had found their Messiah, and then to have him killed on the cross. They would have come to some terms on that point over the days between the burial and resurrection then to find out He was no longer dead. Fear of the unknown is a terrible thing to the believer.

It is also a terrible fear for the lost so we as believers should have our fears controlled and be ready for assistance to the lost. Don’t sit down with them and add your fear to theirs, you should be able to alleviate their fears for them.

Fear of the unknown can stop us from doing that which the Lord has called us to do. Fear of the unknown is often fear of failure. We fear we cannot do what the Lord has called us to do, or we fear that there will be no provision for our needs so we just do nothing. This is allowing fear to control our life.

Just remember, even if you have allowed fear to control you, it does not need to ruin your relationship with the Lord - look at the great things Peter did as he was able to realize that his strength was in the Lord and not in himself.

Verses 9-11


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. 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

Verses 12-14


12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. 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.

Luke 22:14 ff records the full account of verse twelve; it is often called the road to Emmaus. Thisis an interesting study if you take time to do so.

Here is more disbelief - not to be shocked since the women went away shaking their heads as well. They saw Him die, and they did not understand/believe what the Lord said about the resurrection so why would they believe He was raised.

The Lord confronts them with their "unbelief and hardness of heart" but does not elaborate on the subject. It would be of interest to me as to why he upbraided them for it since it is not clear that any of us would have reacted much differently. It should be assumed that the Lord knew something that we do not know about the situation. If any would have believed it, it would have been the disciples that had walked with him for three years listening to His teaching, but they did not.

It is clear from the Luke passage that part of their disbelief related to the Old Testament prophecies of the Lord. He speaks to the two relating to this issue and then takes time to explain it all to them.

It is also very clear that the apostles at least were looking to Him to save Israel, in other words they believed that He was the Messiah of the Old Testament. "21 But we hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel"

Leave it to the believers - in the Old Testament God wanted Israel to proclaim Him to the world and He even set up the entire sojourner/stranger system to accept gentile believers into the Jewish fold, but they did nothing to speak of in the area of proclaiming God.

The apostles, the ones that were closest to the Lord, were given information about His resurrection and they say nothing because they did not believe it, nor understand it. The very next passage is the great commission to go into the earth preaching the Gospel and what do the believers do? They congregate in Jerusalem. God had to send persecution upon them to scatter them across the face of the earth with His good news.

In 2009 we are still, for the most part, congregating in pockets around the world to edify ourselves while the world knows nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Foreign Mission work is on the decline, the old timers are retiring and there is no one to replace them on the field.

God is now in the process of bringing the world to us and we still are not doing a real good job of sharing the Gospel with them. Yes, the foreigners in our country are slow to warm up to us due to the illegal alien problem (large distrust of everyone for fear of being turned in) but they are here for now and we should do what we can to share our wonderful salvation with them.

I teach a small basic computer class for low-income folks and I am sure many of them are illegal. They are very quiet, they hesitate or refuse to give their phone number, address and email address. Some have given me one or the other and I have sent material to them and they will not respond and fail to come to class. Some seem very shocked when they arrive that I am friendly and open to talk with them. Not that this is not understandable, but it makes it difficult to speakto them of the Lord.

I have found that I can at least get the Word of God into their hands. I give a CD-ROM of free software and along with it a CD-ROM with a free Bible program and a ton of evangelical commentaries along with a copy of my systematic theology. God can use this in their lives at any time that He would like.

I have not had opportunity to even ask most of them personal questions much less speak to them of Christ. Most will not even tell me where they or their husbands work and if I have no address and ask where they live they just point and say over that way.

Verses 15-16


15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

The more familiar version of this passage is in Matthew 28:19 ff "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

The first missions conference that I attended was in Bible College. One of the missionary speakers, Ron Blue, later of Dallas Seminary, shared from the Matthew text and made the clear point that the passage related to "as you are going" make disciples etc. Not sometime in the future, but as you are going.

This relates to the real truth that we are all to be involved in this process, not just those that "go" somewhere as missionaries. As we go to work, as we go shopping, and as we go visiting, we are to be about this process.

It is about all of the above, not just the winning of souls, it is the winning, the training and teaching/training of the new believers.

There is much discussion as to whether the final verses of Mark really belong there. It seems that Mark ends at 16.8 since there are multiple endings to the book from later manuscripts.

Many observe that all of what is contained in the seemingly added ending is Biblical so it should not be thrown out as long as it is understood that it is probably added. Stress should be given to the Biblical passages that it is based on rather than teaching from these added verses.

The Net Bible notes have some information on this. They mention that some manuscripts have this section marked as not being the original Mark, or spurious. Further they mention "All of this evidence strongly suggests that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material or because of the abruptness of the ending at Mark 16:8. (Indeed, thestrange variety of dissimilar endings attests to the probability that early copyists had a copy of Mark that ended at Mark 16:8, and they filled out the text with what seemed to be an appropriate conclusion. All of the witnesses for alternative endings to Mark 16:9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at Mark 16:8.) Because of such problems regarding the authenticity of these alternative endings, Mark 16:8 is usually regarded as the last verse of the Gospel of Mark. There are three possible explanations for Mark ending Mark 16:8; (1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended fashion; (2) the Gospel was never finished; or (3) the last leaf of the MS was lost prior to copying. This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors, including (a) the probability that the Gospel was originally written on a scroll rather than a Codex (only on a Codex would the last leaf get lost prior to copying); (b) the unlikelihood of the MS not being completed; and (c) the literary power of ending the Gospel so abruptly that the readers are now drawn into the story itself."

Verses 17-20


17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 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. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

The book of Acts records illustrations of some of these signs, the snakes, tongues etc. God did indeed confirm the resurrection with these signs later in the early church. This is not to say that they are still confirmations today. The south of our country has many graves full of snake handlers that were killed by the snakes that they were supposedly protected from in their church services.

This passage is useful to the charismatic that is involved in tongues. Just have them read the passage and ask them if they want to test the whole package of items that are part and parcel with the tongues. You will find few takers.

This concludes the study of Mark in this work but is admittedly only a starting place for the serious student that would like to know their Lord in a more personal manner. The book has only been surveyed and a detailed study should be quite beneficial to the serious student.

I think that one last application might be appropriate. Pastors and teachers, please consider the following possibility. I have heard so many times from pastors and teachers that they don’t feel they are getting through to their students, or that the students don’t seem to change their lives when the Word is preached.

Now, this is not to give excuse to non-listening and non-responsive congregants, but it may explain some of the problem. If the apostles who followed the Lord for three years and watched Him, listened to Him, and observed His many miracles did not get that He was going to die and be raised again how can we expect congregants to hear a lesson/sermon and automatically conform to its exhortation. Some will and some will not. The response is up to the individual’s relationship with God and the ability of the Holy Spirit to work within the life. If the person has no desire to change, why would they? There is no compulsion to do so if the Spirit is not allowed to work in the life.

It is our job to proclaim the Word and it is our job to encourage change, but the individual via the Spirit is the real key to change in the believer’s life.

Do not spend your time twisting people’s arms to do what is right, simply give them the Word and encourage them to give God freedom in their lives. Just remember, if the Holy Spirit almighty God, cannot change the life what in the world are you thinking when you think that you can? Impossible. God is the mover and shaker in a believer’s life, not you. Do not take on that terribly difficult task when it is not yours and when you cannot hope to fulfill it.

Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Mark 16". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sdn/mark-16.html.
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