The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Mark 16

Mar 16:1

As soon as the Sabbath restrictions were past, ie after sunset on Saturday -- the 3 women (close companions of Christ in life) prepare to give their last token of love to their Lord in his death. Early on Sunday morning, at first light in the east, they set out for the tomb. (Did the women make two separate visits to the tomb? See Mat 28:1n.)

Mar 16:2

VERY EARLY: As the "sun" rose: Psa 19:4; Mal 4:2.

THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK: Lit, "day one of the seven". The beginning of a new creation week! Cp Gen 1: a new creation, "day one"! God had said, "Let there be light", and now there was! Cp Col 1:15-18: Jesus the beginning of the new creation! To the disciples, this day (when they understood it later) would mark the beginning of their new lives. This new "Sun" of the morning was to drive away the dark shadows of lost hope, and create a new spirit within the disciples (Isa 9:1,2; 2Co 4:6).

Mar 16:3

ROLL... AWAY: "Apokalusei", ordinary word, in contrast v 4.

Mar 16:4

LOOKED UP: "Anablephasai", lit. "looked up backward".

WHICH WAS VERY LARGE: Codex Beza adds: "A stone which 20 men could scarcely roll" (Dobson 76). It is the great size of the stone which made them wonder at its position.

ROLLED AWAY: "Anakulindo" = to roll backwards from (cp Joh 20:1).

Was ever a mountain so "large" as the great stone which sealed Christ's tomb? Truly, as miracles go, no miracle has been or could be so great as the one that caused this "very large" stone to be removed, and thus proclaimed Christ's tomb to be open... forevermore.

Jesus had told his followers, "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him' " (Mar 11:23). Of course, we have trouble with moving literal mountains, even as we have trouble explaining this passage.

But seen from a spiritual perspective, isn't the greatest "mountain" of difficulty -- which no man can move -- death and the grave? Engineers with bulldozers and explosives can move even literal mountains. But who among them can move the mountainous "stone" that covers the grave? Not a one!

And even the disciples of Jesus could not move such a stone from the mouth of his sepulcher... not at that time; they were weeping in sorrow, and hiding in fear. It was the faith of Jesus alone -- though he was dead and unconscious in the tomb -- that moved the hand of the angels of God, and rolled back the stone. It may be said that the greatest miracle that Jesus ever performed was this: the blood of this wholly righteous man cried out from the depths of the earth, and the Father heard!

Do WE, today, have faith to move mountains? The answer, I believe, is really another question: 'Do WE have faith that the greatest "mountain" has already been moved?' "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mar 11:24). Our faith may be -- not a prospective -- but a retrospective faith: we look backward, and ask, 'Do I really believe that the "mountain" has been moved?' If we truly believe that, then -- it is absolutely sure and certain -- ALL THINGS are possible for us!

Mar 16:6

Had not their Great Teacher prophesied his own death and resurrection? And they foolishly supposed that he spoke in parables!

Mar 16:7

AND PETER: All the apostles needed to be saved from the despondency and bewilderment of the crucifixion. But none needed the resurrection more than Peter. He (the most enthusiastic, the most loving) would have died for Jesus, but his resolution quickly faded under the grim specter of suffering, when he crudely denied his Lord three times. Peter would have died for Jesus, but failed miserably. Instead, Jesus died for Peter!

" 'Be sure and tell Peter that he's not left out. Tell him that one failure does not make a flop.' Whew! No wonder they call it the gospel of the second chance. Not many second chances exist in the world today. Just ask the kid who didn't make the little league team or the fellow who got the pink slip or the mother of three who got dumped for a 'pretty little thing.' Not many second chances. Nowadays it's more like, 'It's now or never.' 'Around here we don't tolerate incompetence.' 'Gotta get tough to get along.' 'Not much room at the top.' 'Three strikes and you're out.' 'It's a dog-eat-dog world!' Jesus has a simple answer to our masochistic mania. 'It's a dog-eat-dog world?' he would say. 'Then don't live with the dogs.' That makes sense doesn't it? Why let a bunch of other failures tell you how much of a failure you are? Sure you can have a second chance. Just ask Peter. One minute he felt lower than a snake's belly and the next minute he was the high hog at the trough. Even the angels wanted this distraught net-caster to know that it wasn't over. The message came loud and clear from the celestial Throne Room through the divine courier. 'Be sure and tell Peter that he gets to bat again.'

"Those who know these types of things say that the Gospel of Mark is really the transcribed notes and dictated thoughts of Peter. If this is true, then it was Peter himself who included these two words! And if these really are his words, I can't help but imagine that the old fisherman had to brush away a tear and swallow a lump when he got to this point in the story. It's not every day that you get a second chance. Peter must have known that... It was also enough, so they say, to cause this backwoods Galilean to carry the gospel of the second chance all the way to Rome where they killed him. If you've ever wondered what would cause a man to be willing to be crucified upside down, maybe now you know. It's not every day that you find someone who will give you a second chance -- much less someone who will give you a second chance every day. But in Jesus, Peter found both" (Max Lucado).

Mar 16:8

SAID NOTHING: Cp Mar 1:44: "See that you say nothing to anyone, but show self to the priest", ie speak only to those intimately concerned (WMS 186).

THEY WERE AFRAID: They spoke to none but the disciples (ct Mat 28:8; Luk 24:9), being afraid of the others: reprisals by the priests, trespassing, theft of body.

Mar 16:9

Vv 9-20: Excluded from oldest NT mss. As to authenticity, see WRI 104-117; Xd 36:11; "Last 12 Verses of Mark" (Burgon); Comp. Prob origin of omissions in some early texts: These were church lectionaries, with daily (or Sunday) Bible readings marked off, and Mar 16:8 ended a reading.

The majority of NT scholars do not think this verse or the last 12 vv of Mark were written by Mark himself. They think that the original ending to Mark was lost and that these vv were added later by someone else. Nevertheless, and at the very least, these vv were written very early in the history of the church, for they are found in several manuscripts of Tatian's Diatessaron (AD 170). They were also quoted by Irenaeus (who died in 202) and Tertullian (who died in 220). At the very least, therefore, these vv reflect what the early church thought about the purposes of miracles, even if these vv are not considered part of the original Scriptures.

HE APPEARED FIRST TO MARY MAGDALENE: Detail given in Joh 20:11-18.

Mar 16:12

V 12: More detail in Luk 24:13-33.

Mar 16:14

V 14: More detail in Luk 24:33-43.

THEIR STUBBORN REFUSAL TO BELIEVE: Hard-heartedness is first seen in Pharaoh (Exo 4:21; 7:3,13; 8:15,32; 9:12,34; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8). So when this description is used of anyone in Israel, it is very pointed: 'You are being like the oppressing Egyptians from whom I have delivered you!' Cp Deu 15:7; 2Ch 36:13; Psa 95:8; Isa 63:17; Mark 10:5; 16:14; John 12:40; Rom 2:5.

Mar 16:15

What saves us? Grace (Eph 2:8,9). Hope (Rom 8:24). Belief (Mar 16:15). Baptism (1Pe 3:21). Gospel, and its memory (1Co 15:1,2). Blood of Christ (1Jo 1:7). Faith (Rom 5:1). Works (Jam 2:24). Ourselves (Act 2:40). Endurance (Mat 10:22). What saved the "drowning man"? The rock, the rope, another man, himself...or all of them?

GO INTO ALL THE WORLD...: "The two great challenges which face the body of Christ today are not from rationalism, science, orthodox religion or ecumenism -- even though all these have brought problems to us as they have to previous generations. They are materialism and the unfinished work of witness which lies upon us. Materialism implies that the present span of mortal existence is the supreme goal of human effort. In this connection, perhaps the Bible School movement may be viewed as one of the most important in our generation -- offering a reminder that man does not live by bread alone, and providing an all too rare haven from a world seeking wealth, status, power and fame. And in relation to the second challenge, of worldwide witness, in the formation of the several Bible Mission committees and the work of those who voluntarily assist them, we may hopefully see a new determination to discharge our present responsibilities to a world adrift" (Prot 189).

GOOD NEWS: The gospel, the power of salvation to those who believe (Rom 1:16). The great doctrine of justification by faith. Belief and baptism: essential for salvation.

ALL THE WORLD: "Kosmos", ie every part of society. // Mar 13:10: to all "nations" (ethnos, ethnic groups). // also Mat 24:14: the whole "world" (oikoumene: the whole habitable).

TO ALL CREATION: Or, "to every creature" (AV). That is, to Jew and Gentile alike (Mat 28:19; Act 1:8; note Joh 10:16; Mat 8:10,11; 10:32; 22:1-13; Rom 1:21-23; Rev 22:17).

Mar 16:16

WHOEVER BELIEVES: An incredible irony! Those who, just before, "did not believe" -- in fact, who "stubbornly refused to believe" (vv 11,13,14) -- are commanded to go into the world and show others HOW TO BELIEVE! "I was blind, but now I see!"

BAPTIZED: As in Mat 28:19.

SAVED: What saves us? Grace (Eph 2:8,9). Hope (Rom 8:24). Belief (Mar 16:15). Baptism (1Pe 3:21). Gospel, and its memory (1Co 15:1,2). Blood of Christ (1Jo 1:7). Faith (Rom 5:1). Works (Jam 2:24). Ourselves (Act 2:40). Endurance (Mat 10:22). What saved the "drowning man"? The rock, the rope, another man, himself...or all of them?

WHOEVER DOES NOT BELIEVE: "Some think it hard that there should be nothing for them but ruin if they will not believe in Jesus Christ; but if you will think for a minute you will see that it is just and reasonable. I suppose there is no way for a man to keep his strength up except by eating. If you were to say, 'I will not eat again, I despise such animalism,' you might go to Madeira, or travel in all lands (supposing you lived long enough!), but you would most certainly find that no climate and no exercise would avail to keep you alive if you refused food. Would you then complain, 'It is a hard thing that I should die because I do not believe in eating?'

"It is not an unjust thing that if you are so foolish as not to eat, you must die. It is precisely so with believing. 'Believe, and thou are saved.' If thou wilt not believe, it is no hard thing that thou shouldst be lost. It would be strange indeed if it were not to be the case" (CHS).

Mar 16:17

See WS 51,52. All signs for authentication: valid in first century. Invalid in our times. (If not, then "drinking poison" and "handling snakes" should be equally a test of Holy Spirit possession, as "speaking in tongues". Why aren't they?)

Mar 16:19

V 19: More detail in Luk 24:50-53.

Cp Psa 16:11; 110:1. Psa 110:1 became the standard Ascension passage of the early church; it is used in Acts 2:34-36; 7:55,56; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:19-22; 2:6. Compare 1Ti 3:16 and 1Pe 3:22 with Mark 16:19. Also, see Psa 68:18: "You ascended on high."
Previous Index