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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Mark 16

 

 

Verse 1

When the sabbath was past (διαγενομενου του σαββατουdiagenomenou tou sabbatou). Genitive absolute, the sabbath having come in between, and now over. For this sense of the verb (common from Demosthenes on) See note on Acts 25:13 and note on Acts 27:9. It was therefore after sunset.

Bought spices (ηγορασαν αρωματαēgorasan arōmata). As Nicodemus did on the day of the burial (John 19:40). Gould denies that the Jews were familiar with the embalming process of Egypt, but at any rate it was to be a reverential anointing (ινα αλειπσωσινhina aleipsōsin) of the body of Jesus with spices. They could buy them after sundown. Salome in the group again as in Mark 15:40. See Matthew 28:1 for discussion of “late on the sabbath day” and the visit of the women to the tomb before sundown. They had returned from the tomb after the watching late Friday afternoon and had prepared spices (Luke 23:56). Now they secured a fresh supply.


Verse 2

When the sun was risen (ανατειλαντος του ηλιουanateilantos tou hēliou). Genitive absolute, aorist participle, though some manuscripts read ανατελλοντοςanatellontos present participle. Luke 24:1 has it “at early dawn” (ορτρου βατεοςorthrou batheos) and John 20:1 “while it was yet dark.” It was some two miles from Bethany to the tomb. Mark himself gives both notes of time, “very early” (λιαν πρωιlian prōi), “when the sun was risen.” Probably they started while it was still dark and the sun was coming up when they arrived at the tomb. All three mention that it was on the first day of the week, our Sunday morning when the women arrive. The body of Jesus was buried late on Friday before the sabbath (our Saturday) which began at sunset. This is made clear as a bell by Luke 23:54 “and the sabbath drew on.” The women rested on the sabbath (Luke 23:56). This visit of the women was in the early morning of our Sunday, the first day of the week. Some people are greatly disturbed over the fact that Jesus did not remain in the grave full seventy-two hours. But he repeatedly said that he would rise on the third day and that is precisely what happened. He was buried on Friday afternoon. He was risen on Sunday morning. If he had really remained in the tomb full three days and then had risen after that, it would have been on the fourth day, not on the third day. The occasional phrase “after three days” is merely a vernacular idiom common in all languages and not meant to be exact and precise like “on the third day.” We can readily understand “after three days” in the sense of “on the third day.” It is impossible to understand “on the third day” to be “on the fourth day.” See my Harmony of the Gospels, pp. 289-91.


Verse 3

Who shall roll us away the stone? (Τις αποκυλισει ημιν τον λιτονTis apokulisei hēmin ton lithoṉ). Alone in Mark. The opposite of προσκυλιωproskuliō in Mark 15:46. In Mark 15:4 rolled back (ανεκεκυλισταιanekekulistai perfect passive indicative) occurs also. Both verbs occur in Koiné writers and in the papyri. Clearly the women have no hope of the resurrection of Jesus for they were raising the problem (ελεγονelegon imperfect) as they walked along.


Verse 4

Looking up they see (αναβλεπσασαι τεωρουσινanablepsasai theōrousin). With downcast eyes and heavy hearts (Bruce) they had been walking up the hill. Mark has his frequent vivid dramatic present “behold.” Their problem is solved for the stone lies rolled back before their very eyes. Luke 24:2 has the usual aorist “found.”

For (γαρgar). Mark explains by the size of the stone this sudden and surprising sight right before their eyes.


Verse 5

Entering into the tomb (εισελτουσαι εις το μνημειονeiselthousai eis to mnēmeion). Told also by Luke 24:3, though not by Matthew.

A young man (νεανισκονneaniskon). An angel in Matthew 28:5, two men in Luke 24. These and like variations in details show the independence of the narrative and strengthen the evidence for the general fact of the resurrection. The angel sat upon the stone (Matthew 28:2), probably at first. Mark here speaks of the young man sitting on the right side (κατημενον εν τοις δεχιοιςkathēmenon en tois dexiois) inside the tomb. Luke has the two men standing by them on the inside (Luke 24:4). Possibly different aspects and stages of the incident.

Arrayed in a white robe (περιβεβλημενον στολην λευκηνperibeblēmenon stolēn leukēn). Perfect passive participle with the accusative case of the thing retained (verb of clothing). Luke 24:4 has “in dazzling apparel.”

They were amazed (εχεταμβητησανexethambēthēsan). They were utterly (εχex in composition) amazed. Luke 24:5 has it “affrighted.” Matthew 28:3. tells more of the raiment white as snow which made the watchers quake and become as dead men. But this was before the arrival of the women. Mark, like Matthew and Luke, does not mention the sudden departure of Mary Magdalene to tell Peter and John of the grave robbery as she supposed (John 20:1-10).


Verse 6

Be not amazed (μη εκταμβειστεmē ekthambeisthe). The angel noted their amazement (Mark 16:5) and urges the cessation of it using this very word.

The Nazarene (τον Ναζαρηνονton Nazarēnon). Only in Mark, to identify “Jesus” to the women.

The crucified one (τον εσταυρωμενονton estaurōmenon). This also in Matthew 28:5. This description of his shame has become his crown of glory, for Paul (Galatians 6:14), and for all who look to the Crucified and Risen Christ as Saviour and Lord. He is risen (ηγερτηēgerthē). First aorist passive indicative, the simple fact. In 1 Corinthians 15:4 Paul uses the perfect passive indicative εγηγερταιegēgertai to emphasize the permanent state that Jesus remains risen.

Behold the place (ιδε ο τοποςide ho topos). Here ιδεide is used as an interjection with no effect on the case (nominative). In Matthew 28:6 ιδετεidete is the verb with the accusative. See Robertson, Grammar, p. 302.


Verse 7

And Peter (και τωι Πετρωιkai tōi Petrōi). Only in Mark, showing that Peter remembered gratefully this special message from the Risen Christ. Later in the day Jesus will appear also to Peter, an event that changed doubt to certainty with the apostles (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). See Matthew 28:7 for discussion of promised meeting in Galilee.


Verse 8

Had come upon them (ειχεν αυταςeichen autas). Imperfect tense, more exactly, held them, was holding them fast.

Trembling and astonishment (τρομος και εκστασιςtromos kai ekstasis trembling and ecstasy), Mark has it, while Matthew 28:8 has “with fear and great joy” which see for discussion. Clearly and naturally their emotions were mixed.

They said nothing to any one (ουδενι ουδεν ειπανoudeni ouden eipan). This excitement was too great for ordinary conversation. Matthew 28:8 notes that they “ran to bring his disciples word.” Hushed to silence their feet had wings as they flew on.

For they were afraid (εποβουντο γαρephobounto gar). Imperfect tense. The continued fear explains their continued silence. At this point Aleph and B, the two oldest and best Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, stop with this verse. Three Armenian MSS. also end here. Some documents (cursive 274 and Old Latin k) have a shorter ending than the usual long one. The great mass of the documents have the long ending seen in the English versions. Some have both the long and the short endings, like L, Psi, 0112, 099, 579, two Bohairic MSS; the Harklean Syriac (long one in the text, short one in the Greek margin). One Armenian MS. (at Edschmiadzin) gives the long ending and attributes it to Ariston (possibly the Aristion of Papias). W (the Washington Codex) has an additional verse in the long ending. So the facts are very complicated, but argue strongly against the genuineness of Mark 16:9-20 of Mark 16. There is little in these verses not in Matthew 28. It is difficult to believe that Mark ended his Gospel with Mark 16:8 unless he was interrupted. A leaf or column may have been torn off at the end of the papyrus roll. The loss of the ending was treated in various ways. Some documents left it alone. Some added one ending, some another, some added both. A full discussion of the facts is found in the last chapter of my Studies in Mark‘s Gospel and also in my Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, pp. 214-16.


Verse 9

When he had risen early on the first day of the week (αναστας πρωι πρωτηι σαββατουanastas prōi prōtēi sabbatou). It is probable that this note of time goes with “risen” (ανασταςanastas), though it makes good sense with “appeared” (επανηephanē). Jesus is not mentioned by name here, though he is clearly the one meant. Mark uses μιαmia in Mark 16:2, but πρωτηprōtē in Mark 14:12 and the plural σαββατωνsabbatōn in Mark 16:2, though the singular here.

First (πρωτονprōton). Definite statement that Jesus appeared (επανηephanē) to Mary Magdalene first of all. The verb επανηephanē (second aorist passive of παινωphainō) is here alone of the Risen Christ (cf. Ελειας επανηEleias ephanē Luke 9:8), the usual verb being ωπτηōphthē (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5.).

From whom (παρ ηςpar' hēs). Only instance of παραpara with the casting out of demons, εκek being usual (Mark 1:25, Mark 1:26; Mark 5:8; Mark 7:26, Mark 7:29; Mark 9:25). ΕκβεβληκειEkbeblēkei is past perfect indicative without augment. This description of Mary Magdalene is like that in Luke 8:2 and seems strange in Mark at this point, described as a new character here, though mentioned by Mark three times just before (Mark 15:40, Mark 15:47; Mark 16:1). The appearance to Mary Magdalene is given in full by John 20:11-18.


Verse 10

She (εκεινηekeinē). Only instance of this pronoun (=ιλλαilla) absolutely in Mark, though a good Greek idiom. (See note on John 19:35.) See also Mark 16:11, Mark 16:20.

Went (πορευτεισαporeutheisa). First aorist passive participle. Common word for going, but in Mark so far only in Mark 9:30 in the uncompounded form. Here also in Mark 16:12, Mark 16:15.

Them that had been with him (τοις μετ αυτου γενομενοιςtois met' autou genomenois). This phrase for the disciples occurs here alone in Mark and the other Gospels if the disciples (ματηταιmathētai) are meant. All these items suggest another hand than Mark for this closing portion.

As they mourned and wept (πεντουσιν και κλαιουσινpenthousin kai klaiousin). Present active participles in dative plural agreeing with τοις γενομενοιςtois ̇̇̇ genomenois and describing the pathos of the disciples in their utter bereavement and woe.


Verse 11

Disbelieved (ηπιστησανēpistēsan). This verb is common in the ancient Greek, but rare in the N.T. and here again Mark 16:16 and nowhere else in Mark. The usual N.T. word is απειτεωapeitheō Luke 24:11 uses this verb (ηπιστουνēpistoun) of the disbelief of the report of Mary Magdalene and the other women. The verb ετεατηetheathē (from τεαωμαιtheaōmai) occurs only here and in Luke 24:14 in Mark.


Verse 12

After these things (μετα ταυταmeta tauta). Only here in Mark. Luke tells us that it was on the same day (Luke 24:13).

In another form (εν ετεραι μορπηιen heterāi morphēi). It was not a μεταμορπωσιςmetamorphōsis or transfiguration like that described in Mark 9:2. Luke explains that their eyes were holden so that they could not recognize Jesus (Luke 24:16). This matchless story appears in full in Luke 24:13-32.


Verse 13

Neither believed they them (ουδε εκεινοις επιστευσανoude ekeinois episteusan). The men fared no better than the women. But Luke‘s report of the two on the way to Emmaus is to the effect that they met a hearty welcome by them in Jerusalem (Luke 24:33-35). This shows the independence of the two narratives on this point. There was probably an element who still discredited all the resurrection stories as was true on the mountain in Galilee later when “some doubted” (Matthew 28:17).


Verse 14

To the eleven themselves (αυτοις τοις ενδεκαautois tois hendeka). Both terms, eleven and twelve (John 20:24), occur after the death of Judas. There were others present on this first Sunday evening according to Luke 24:33.

Afterward (υστερονhusteron) is here alone in Mark, though common in Matthew.

Upbraided (ωνειδισενōneidisen). They were guilty of unbelief (απιστιανapistian) and hardness of heart (σκληροκαρδιανsklērokardian). Doubt is not necessarily a mark of intellectual superiority. One must steer between credulity and doubt. That problem is a vital one today in all educated circles. Some of the highest men of science today are devout believers in the Risen Christ. Luke explains how the disciples were upset by the sudden appearance of Christ and were unable to believe the evidence of their own senses (Luke 24:38-43).


Verse 15

To the whole creation (πασηι τηι κτισειpāsēi tēi ktisei). This commission in Mark is probably another report of the missionary Magna Charta in Matthew 28:16-20 spoken on the mountain in Galilee. One commission has already been given by Christ (John 20:21-23). The third appears in Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8.


Verse 16

And is baptized (και βαπτιστειςkai baptistheis). 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. So serious a sacramental doctrine would need stronger support anyhow than this disputed portion of Mark.


Verse 17

They shall speak with new tongues (γλωσσαις λαλησουσιν καιναισglōssais lalēsousin [καιναιςkainais ]). Westcott and Hort put kainais (new) in the margin. Casting out demons we have seen in the ministry of Jesus. Speaking with tongues comes in the apostolic era (Acts 2:3.; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 14).


Verse 18

They shall take up serpents (οπεις αρουσινopheis arousin). Jesus had said something like this in Luke 10:19 and Paul was unharmed by the serpent in Malta (Acts 28:3.).

If they drink any deadly thing (καν τανασιμον τι πιωσινk'an thanasimon ti piōsin). This is the only N.T. instance of the old Greek word τανασιμοςthanasimos (deadly). James 3:8 has τανατηποροςthanatēphoros deathbearing. Bruce considers these verses in Mark “a great lapse from the high level of Matthew‘s version of the farewell words of Jesus” and holds that “taking up venomous serpents and drinking deadly poison seem to introduce us into the twilight of apocryphal story.” The great doubt concerning the genuineness of these verses (fairly conclusive proof against them in my opinion) renders it unwise to take these verses as the foundation for doctrine or practice unless supported by other and genuine portions of the N.T.


Verse 19

Was received up into heaven (ανελημπτη εις τον ουρανονanelēmpthē eis ton ouranon). First aorist passive indicative. Luke gives the fact of the Ascension twice in Gospel (Luke 24:50.) and Acts 1:9-11. The Ascension in Mark took place after Jesus spoke to the disciples, not in Galilee (Mark 16:15-18), nor on the first or second Sunday evening in Jerusalem. We should not know when it took place nor where but for Luke who locates it on Olivet (Luke 24:50) at the close of the forty days (Acts 1:3) and so after the return from Galilee (Matthew 28:16).

Sat down at the right hand of God (εκατισεν εκ δεχιων του τεουekathisen ek dexiōn tou theou). Swete notes that the author “passes beyond the field of history into that of theology,” an early and most cherished belief (Acts 7:55.; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 3:21).


Verse 20

The Lord working with them (του κυριου συνεργουντοςtou kuriou sunergountos). Genitive absolute. This participle not in Gospels elsewhere nor is βεβαιουντοςbebaiountos nor the compound επακολουτουντωνepakolouthountōn all in Paul‘s Epistles. ΠανταχοPantachoū once in Luke. Westcott and Hort give the alternative ending found in L: “And they announced briefly to Peter and those around him all the things enjoined. And after these things Jesus himself also sent forth through them from the east even unto the west the holy and incorruptible proclamation of the eternal salvation.”

 


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Mark 16:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/mark-16.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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