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Mark 16


The Resurrection He Is Risen The First Easter The Resurrection The Empty Tomb.
The Angel's Message
16:1-8 16:1-8 16:1-8 16:1-5 16:1-2

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. I do not believe verses 9-20 are original to the Gospel of Mark. They are not inspired and should not be included in the New Testament.


B. Everything past verse 8 is absent from the ancient uncial Greek manuscripts of

1. Sinaiticus, known by the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet א. This manuscript includes the whole NT and is from the fourth century. It was found at St. Catherine's monastery on Jebul Musa, the traditional site of Mt. Sinai

2. Vaticanus, known by the Greek letter B. This manuscript includes the whole NT except Revelation and is also from the fourth century.

It was found in modern times in the Vatican library in Rome.


C. The third ancient uncial witness to the Greek New Testament, Alexandrinus, is known by the Greek letter A. This manuscript includes the whole NT and is from the fifth century. It is from Alexandria, Egypt. It does include an ending to Mark (the one found in the Textus Receptus and KJV). This long ending first appeared in Irenaeus' (a.d. 120-202) Against Heresies III:10:5; and Titian's (a.d.110-172) compilation of the four Gospels called The Diatessaron. However, Clement of Alexandria and Origen of Alexandria never quote or allude to these verses even one time. This tells me that the ending was not original even in Alexandrinus, which was from the same city. The verses are included in MS C, which is also from Alexandria sometime in the fifth century.


D. Eusebius (a.d.275-340), an early church historian of the fourth century, said "the most accurate copies" end at Mark 16:8.


E. Jerome (a.d. 347-420), the translator of the Latin Vulgate, said that almost all Greek manuscripts lack an ending after verse 8.


F. Verses 9-20 contain 14-17 words that are not used previously or are used differently in the Gospel of Mark. There is also a marked change of style and syntax. The obviously non-biblical signs of Mark 16:18 affirm the uninspired nature of these additional verses.


G. Manuscripts from Egypt (Coptic) have four different endings after verse 8. Some Greek manuscripts include the long ending (i.e., Mark 16:9-20) and then the short ending or the short ending and then the long ending or one of the other endings in combination.

1. Here is one short ending from a Coptic manuscript: "And all things which He commanded Peter and those who were His, they finished telling, and after this Jesus manifested Himself to them; and from the rising of the sun as far as the West, He sent them to preach eternal salvation by the Holy Gospel which is incorruptible."

2. Here is another short ending. "But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation." This is called "the short ending" and is found in the old Latin manuscript K.


H. The major problem is that the Gospel of Mark seems to end so abruptly in verse 8. There are many theories, but no one knows for certain why Mark ends so abruptly on a note of fear.


I. There is a good explanation of this textual problem in Bruce M. Metzger's book A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, published by the United Bible Societies, pp. 122-126, or Robert G. Bratcher and Eugene Nida's book A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Mark, published by the United Bible Societies, pp. 517-522.


J. For a brief discussion of textual criticism see Appendix Two at the end of this commentary.



 1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 2Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3They were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 4Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 6And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7"But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'" 8They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

16:1 "When the Sabbath was over" The ancient Israelites started their days at twilight (i.e., evenings), following Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31. However, the Romans (and Greeks) had adopted a Babylonian method of dividing the day and night into twelve divisions. These divisions were not of equal length because of seasonal changes in the length of light/dark periods. Mark 15 uses several of these time markers (i.e., third hour, Mark 16:25; sixth hour, Mark 16:33; ninth hour, Mark 16:34).

This phrase appears to refer to the ancient Israelite method and would, therefore, be 6 p.m. Friday until 6 p.m. Saturday for the Sabbath.

▣ "Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome" See Special Topic following.


▣ "brought spices. . .anoint Him" Although these women had seen Joseph and Nicodemus prepare and place the body of Jesus in a tomb, apparently because of the time limitations (i.e., between 3 - 6 p.m.) something of the normal Jewish burial procedures may have been left out (possibly the aromatic candles or some particular type of spices), and these women were going to properly finish the traditional procedures.


16:2 "Very early on the first day of the week. . .when the sun had risen" All the Gospels record a slightly different time.

1. Matthew 28:1 has "at dawn"

2. Luke 24:1 has "at early dawn"

3. John 20:1 "while it was still dark"

Apparently these women left their home while it was still dark, but by the time they arrived (possibly they had to buy the spices) at the tomb it was already light.

16:3 "They were saying to one another" This is an Imperfect tense. They kept worrying about and asking each other over and over again as they walked to the tomb.

▣ "'Who will roll away the stone'" They were already well on their way with the spices before they thought of the large stone which sealed the tomb. Mark records nothing of the guard and the seal of Matt. 27:62-66.

This stone was round and shaped to fit into a sloping groove dug just in front of the rock vault's opening. It was relatively easy to roll into the trench, but very difficult to remove.

16:4 "Looking up" Apparently they were very downcast, looking at the ground in mourning.

▣ "the stone had been rolled away" From Matt. 28:2 it seems that the stone was knocked out of its groove by an earthquake (caused by an angel, cf. Luke 24:4; John 20:12) and it was lying on its side.

▣ "although it was extremely large" Grave robbing was a common occurrence because of the value of the spices and other burial objects. The location and type of the vault as well as the size of the stone would show it was a rich man's tomb (cf. Isa. 53:9).

16:5 "Entering the tomb" John 20:11 has Mary outside the tomb looking in, but Luke 24:3 confirms that, at least at some point, the women went in.

▣ "they saw a young man sitting at the right" Normally it is Matthew that has two—two Gerasene demoniacs, two blind men in Jericho, etc.—but here it is Luke and John that have two angels while Mark and Matthew only have one.

In the Bible angels are usually depicted as males, except in Zechariah 5:9-10.

▣ "wearing a white robe" A much fuller account of his clothing is found in Matt. 28:3 (cf. Luke 24:4 has "in dazzling apparel").

16:6 "Do not be amazed" This is a Present imperative with the negative particle, which usually means to stop an act already in process. Humans are always awed and frightened at the physical manifestations of the spiritual realm.

▣ "'Jesus the Nazarene'" See fuller note at Mark 14:67.

▣ "who has been crucified" This is a perfect passive participle (cf. Matt. 28:5). This has the definite article and may be a title, "the Crucified One" (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2; Gal. 3:1). When we see Jesus He will still have the marks of the crucifixion, which have become a badge of honor and glory (cf. 1 Cor. 15:4 and Rev. 5:12). Jesus is the only Person of the Trinity with a physical body.

▣ "He has risen" The resurrection is the central pillar of the Christian faith (cf. 1 Cor. 15). This shows God's approval of Jesus' life and sacrifice. This is a recurrent theme of Peter (cf. Acts 2:24-28,32, 3:15,26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 1 Pet. 1:13, 3:18,21, and Paul, Acts 13:30,33,34,37; 17:31; Rom. 4:24, 8:11; 10:9; 2 Cor. 4:14). This is confirmation of the Father's acceptance of the Son's substitutionary death (cf. 1 Cor. 15). Theologically all three persons of the Trinity were active in Christ's resurrection: the Father (Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30,33,34; 17:31); the Spirit (Rom. 8:11); and the Son (John 2:19-22; 10:17-18). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE RESURRECTION at Mark 8:31.

▣ "behold here is the place where they laid Him" This refers to one of several rock ledges in Joseph's tomb. John 20:6-7 describes this burial place and how the linen burial cloths were lying.

16:7 "But go, tell His disciples and Peter" Why is Peter singled out? How thoughtful and tender our Lord (through the angel), that He would single out the backslidden and hurting Peter! Peter remembers!

▣ "He is going ahead of you to Galilee" Jesus had prearranged a meeting with His disciples in Galilee after His resurrection. The disciples did not clearly understand the theological implications of this event (cf. Mark 14:28; Matt. 28:32; 28:7,10; John 21; 1 Cor. 15:6). I think this was the time and place of the Great Commission.

16:8 "for trembling and astonishment had gripped them" Matthew 28:8 adds with "great joy."

▣ "they said nothing to anyone" Was this temporary or did they not obey the angel's message of Mark 16:7? John 20:1-10 gives an account of Mary of Magdala reporting to the disciples about the grave being empty, but no angel's message!

▣ "for they were afraid" This Gospel ends so abruptly and on such a negative note that apparently ancient scribes tried to add some type of summary ending to it.

16:9-20 I am committed to inspired Apostolic writings as the true word of God, the only source for faith and practice. However, these verses are not inspired, possibly even heretical (drinking poison, handling snakes). I refuse to comment on them! For a full discussion of the textual problem see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary On the Greek New Testament, pp. 122-126.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why are there such differences between the four Gospel accounts?

2. Why does Mark's Gospel end on such a negative note?

3. Why is the resurrection the central pillar of Christian faith?


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