Cumulative Evidence Versus Modernistic Unbelief
Modernists Attack Authenticity Of Mark 16: 9-20
The influence of Modernists have cast doubt on the authenticity of Mark 16, verses 9-20, and on the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, contained in these verses. Some would claim that the Gospel of Mark concluded at >Mark 16, verse 8, and that the remaining verses (verses 9 to 20) are spurious and should not be in the Bible. In endeavoring to support this claim, they point to certain Bible Manuscripts of the 4th century which omit these verses. Before giving the mass of evidence that we have which testifies to the authenticity and Divine inspiration of Mark 16, verses 9 to 20, we will quote the portion, verses 15 to 20:
And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In My Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 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. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following.
The evidence as to the genuine nature of Mark 16: 9-20 is comprehensive and conclusive, and will be considered under the following headings :-
- Evidence Of Ohe Greek Manuscripts
Uncial Manuscripts (earlier than 9th century).
Cursive Manuscripts (later than 9th century).
- Evidence Of The Ancient Versions.
The Ancient Versions are early translations of the New Testament from Greek into other languages.
- Evidence From The Writings Of The Early Church Leaders.
- Numeric Evidence Of Divine Inspiration.
- The Evidence Of The Bible.
Evidence drawn from elsewhere within the pages of the Bible itself.
- The Evidence Of The Believer's Experience.
1. Evidence Of The Manuscripts
A Manuscript is a copy of the New Testament in the Greek language, that is, the language in which it was originally written. These Manuscripts are divided again into two kinds, namely, Uncial and Cursive. The Uncial Manuscripts are the more ancient, being written in an ancient style of Greek writing in which capital letters only were used. About the 9th century a "flowing hand" or Cursive writing was introduced, and thereafter Greek has been written in the Cursive style. The Cursive Manuscripts are therefore of later date (after the 9th century), and are generally of less value for clearing up a disputed point than the more ancient Uncial Manuscripts. This is not always so, however, as some of the Cursive Manuscripts of the New Testament may have been copied from some old Uncial Greek Manuscript, more ancient than any we now possess. The evidence of the Cursive Manuscripts is not, therefore, to be overlooked.
The Uncial Manuscripts.
The following quotation is from the Pulpit Commentary, one of the most famous Bible commentaries printed in the English language.
"Of the Uncial Manuscripts: The two eldest*, namely the Sinaitic and the Vatican, omit the whole passage, but under different conditions. The Sinaitic omits the passage absolutely. The Vatican omits it, but with a space left blank between the 8th verse of Mark 16 and the beginning of Luke, just sufficient for its insertion, as though the writer of the manuscript, hesitating whether to omit or to insert the verses, thought it safest to leave a space for them. But there is another, and much later, Uncial Manuscript, of about the 8th century. Of this manuscript, it may be said that, although some four centuries later, it still bears a strong family resemblance to the Sinaitic and the Vatican. This manuscript does not omit the passage, but it interpolates between it and the 8th verse an apocryphal addition, and then goes on with verse 9. It should be added here that there is a strong resemblance between the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts, so that practically the evidential value of these three Manuscripts amounts to little more than one authority. With these three exceptions, all the Uncial Manuscripts maintain the twelve verses in their integrity." (Our own emphasis is given here, and elsewhere, in quotations cited.)
* The Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts were the oldest known at the time of the preparation of the Pulpit Commentary. The most ancient manuscript known today was not found until 1931, and it is considered later in this article.
(a) Reliability of Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts
Since the Vatican and the Sinaitic Manuscripts provide the main basis for the Modernists argument against Mark 16: 9-20, it is necessary at this stage to make several points clear with regard to their evidence.
They do not provide similar evidence. The Sinaitic omits the passage, while the Vatican leaves just sufficient room for its insertion. No space of this kind is left anywhere else in the manuscript.The date ascribed to these Manuscripts is the 4th century, and possibly the first half of that century. They were written 250 to 300 years after the original writing of the Gospel of Mark, and do not represent the most ancient evidence that we have with regard to the authenticity of the last 12 verses of Mark 16.The most ancient evidence (see later) clearly shows that in the earliest times, Mark 16: 9-20 was accepted as being as genuine as any other part of the Gospel of Mark.Furthermore, the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts do not provide us with a text of original purity. Apart from other reasons for this conclusion, this was made clear by the discovery in Egypt in 1931 of an ancient Uncial Manuscript known as the Chester Beatty Manuscript.
(b) The Chester Beatty manuscript
This manuscript today is in the Chester Beatty Library in England. With the exception of some isolated fragments of the New Testament, this is the most ancient New Testament manuscript known today. This manuscript is generally believed to date back to the early 3rd century (i.e., between 200 and 250 A.D.). Unfortunately, many sections of it are missing, having been lost, or having perished owing to its great age. One section that is missing is the whole of Mark 12: 16 to Luke 6: 31. Consequently it provides no direct evidence one way or the other with regard to Mark 16: 9-20. However, with regard to the nature of the text of the Vatican Manuscript, the following conclusion which the Chester Beatty Manuscript provides is important. In 1933 the British Museum published its findings on the Chester Beatty Manuscript. The following quotation taken from the official publication entitled "The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri," by F. G. Kenyon, Director of the British Museum. Of this manuscript he said,
"It has stronger affinities with other Manuscripts than the Vaticanus (Manuscript). Its closest affinities are with the group of authorities which have only of recent years been recognised as such, and which have received the title of "Caesarean" from the proved use of authorities of this type by Origen in his later years at Caesarea ..."
It points, perhaps decisively, to the conclusion that the Vatican Manuscript does not represent a text of original purity dominant in Egypt throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries." From these statements we see that:
The purity of the Vatican Manuscript is open to question.This doubt is built on what is proved to have been a purer form of text dominant in Egypt 100 to 200 years earlier than the Vatican Manuscript.This purer form of text, represented in the Chester Beatty Manuscript, more closely resembles other Manuscripts, and particularly those of the Caesarean group.
Conclusion: From these, and other facts, the Vatican Manuscript, and thus the related Sinaitic Manuscript, are shown to present a text containing certain serious corruption, and not one of original purity, and yet it is their text which is the Modernist's main weapon for his attack on the last twelve verses of Mark.
(c) Alexandrian manuscript, and other findings
The great Alexandrian Manuscript has been in the custody of Great Britain since 1628. This Manuscript contains the full reading of Mark 16: 9-20, with no indication of any kind to suggest that they were in any way regarded as doubtful: The Alexandrian Manuscript dates back to at least the 5th century, and possibly the 4th, and was presented by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Alexandria and later, Constantinople, to King Charles I of England. This Manuscript contains a very pure text of the New Testament. Upon arriving in England it was at once used for a complete revision of the Authorised Version of the Bible. By order of King Charles, four revisers issued in 1638 the standard text, with new readings.
Other Uncial Manuscripts not already mentioned could also be considered in this article, but it is sufficient to say that they all give testimony in favour of Mark 16: 9-20. However, certain findings which have been made since the writing of the Pulpit Commentary (quoted above) deserve comment. In the above-mentioned quotation, reference is made to an 8th century manuscript. This is the Regius Manuscript. Another 8th or 9th century manuscript, the Laurensis Manuscript, has since been discovered, which also contains the same so-called "apocryphal addition."* Because of its close resemblance to the Regius Manuscript, and its relatively late date, this manuscript really provides no new evidence. It nevertheless contains the full passage of Mark 16: 9-20. Also, the Washington Manuscript has since been examined, being acquired in Egypt in 1906. This manuscript of about the 5th century also contains the full reading of Mark 16: 9-20, but between verses 14 to 15, has a remarkable insertion not found in any other known manuscript, which can therefore, of course, be rejected. Thus these later discoveries provide no evidence against the passage in question.
* Apocryphal addition - A writing added at some later date, and not part of original Scripture.
All Uncial Manuscripts, except the Vatican and Sinaitic, contain the full reading of Mark 16: 9-20 as an integral part of the Divine record.
(d) General comment
As to why the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts omit the passage in question we can only conjecture. It could have been caused by the inadvertent omission of these verses by some careless scribe. Such an error could then easily follow through into other copies of the New Testament made from such a manuscript. As noted above, the two Manuscripts omitting these verses (the Vatican Manuscript leaves just sufficient room for its insertion) appear to have a common origin.
On the other hand, the omission could have been deliberate. We do know that during the 3rd and 4th centuries the church was fast sliding into ritualism, apostasy and unbelief in many places. No doubt there were many in those days who hated the true miraculous ministry of the church spoken of by the Lord Jesus Christ in these verses, just as there are today. A powerless church in those days would hate these verses, just as the powerless church of these days hates them: This could well be the reason for the first omission of these verses.
- Except for questionable evidence of apparently common origin, the general testimony of the Uncial Manuscripts is overwhelmingly in favour of the authenticity of these verse.
- The Modernists endeavour to omit Mark 16: 9-20 on the basis of its omission by the Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts cannot be justified.
The Cursive Manuscripts.
The following statement is from the Pulpit Commentary:
"The evidence of the Cursives is unanimously in favour of the disputed verses. It is true that some mark the passage as one of which the genuineness has been disputed. But against this, there has to be set the fact that the verses are retained in all but two old Manuscripts, (the Vatican and Sinaitic) and those two in all probability not independent. It has been clearly shown by Dean Burgon that the verses were read in the public services of the church in the 4th century, and probably much earlier, as shown by ancient Evagelisteria."
The Cursive Manuscripts are Greek Manuscripts written later than about the 9th century, as previously explained in this article. From the point of antiquity, many of these manuscripts do not provide us with a very ancient testimony, being themselves of relatively modern date, and in many cases being copied from manuscripts of uncertain antiquity. It is thought that a few of them, however, may have been copied from Greek manuscripts more ancient than any we possess today. Their unanimous testimony in favour of Mark 16: 9-20 does, therefore, provide us with important evidence.
At present time over 2,500 Cursive Greek Manuscripts are known to exist. They represent the Greek New Testament as it was accepted and received for over 1000 years. In Isaiah 40, verse 8, we read, "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the Word of our God shall stand forever." Despite forces working to the contrary, God, according to His promise, has preserved His Word in its entirety to every generation, complete with the Great Commission of Christ to His followers contained in Mark 16: 9-20.
2. Evidence Of The Ancient Versions.
The Syriac versions
- The Philexonian Syriac Version was a revision of the earlier Peshitta Syriac Version, ordered by Philoxenus, bishop of Mabug, in Eastern Syria, in 508 A.D., and carried out by Polycarp. This was done that the Syriac Version would agree more nearly with the original Greek. This version contained the full reading of Mark 16.
- The Peshitta Syriac. It is thought to date about 411 A.D. to 435 A.D., and to be a translation made by Rabbula, bishop of Edessa, though this is not proven. Some have believed this translation may date back to the 3rd, or even the 2nd century. This version was the great Standard Version of the ancient Syriac Church. It also contained the full reading of Mark 16: 9-20.
- The Sinaitic Syriac. Only one copy of this version is known to exist. It was discovered in 1892 at the same monastery on Mount Sinai, where about 50 years before the Sinaitic Manuscript had been discovered. Hence its name, Sinaitic Syriac. It is the only Syriac Version which omits the verses in question. However, it is a version which does not appear to provide any independent new evidence. Varying estimates have been made concerning its age, but it is probably contemporary with the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts, i.e., 4th century. The Pulpit Commentary places it of later date than the Curetonian Syriac, considered in the next paragraph. Its text is very similar to that of the Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts, which text has already been shown to be not of original purity. The Sinaitic Syriac contains several corruptions in its text, and would appear to present a text with even more corruptions than the Vatican Manuscript-certainly not a text for reliable evidence. The similarities between this version and the Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts, and possibly the fact that its place of discovery was the same as that of the Sinaitic Manuscript, seems to point to a common origin, and but one source for the original omission of the passage under consideration. Thus, despite what the Modernists would strain to make out of it, the Sinaitic Syriac does not provide any reliable or significant evidence against this passage.
- The Curetonian Syriac. This version of the New Testament Gospels first arrived at the British Museum in 1842, from the library of a monastery in the Nitrian Desert in Egypt. The date of the origin of the text of this version is believed to go back to about 200 A.D., which is, of course, earlier than either the Sinaitic or Vatican Manuscripts. According to the Pulpit Commentary, this version is also far earlier than the Sinaitic-Syriac Version considered in the previous paragraph. Its evidence is therefore of great importance. The Curetonian Syriac gives a peculiar and unusual testimony with regard to the authenticity of Mark 16: 9-20. The Pulpit Commentary states,
" ... in the Curetonian Syriac, also very ancient, far earlier than the Sinaitic copy of that version, the Gospel of Mark is wanting, with the exception of one fragment only, and that fragment contains the last four of these disputed verses."
The Coptic versions
These versions represent the language anciently spoken in Egypt. These versions recognise the passage under consideration.
The Latin versions
The Syriac and Coptic Versions give us the plain testimony of the Eastern Church. The Latin Versions give us the testimony of the Western Church. These versions provide us with very positive evidence. The Old Latin Version takes us back to within a generation or two of the time when the New Testament books were written, perhaps to about 150 A.D. The Old Latin Version is consequently one of the most valuable and interesting evidences which we possess for the condition of the New Testament text in the earliest times. The unanimous evidence of the Old Latin Versions is in favour of the full reading of Mark 16, all copies, without exception, containing it. The Latin Vulgate translation was prepared by Jerome toward the end of the 4th century, and also contained the full passage of Mark 16: 9-20. This translation was, in the main, a revision of the Old Latin, and remained the standard Latin Version for over 1000 years.
Summary: The evidence of the most ancient versions is plain and unmistakable as to the authentic nature of the passage being considered.
3. Evidence Of The Early Church Writers
Further positive confirmation as to the authenticity of Mark 16: 9-20 is found in the writings of leaders in the early Christian Church. These men quoted Scripture extensively in their various letters and discourses on doctrinal matters. From these writings much valuable evidence can be gleaned regarding the Scriptures as they were known and received by Christendom in the very early years of the Gospel Age. Facts gained from this source also absolutely confound the objections of the Modernist!
The following details are given of references to the passage in question in the writings of the early Church:
"There are some expressions in 'Shepherd of Hermas,' written in all probability not later than the middle of the 2nd century (i.e., not later than 150 A.D.), which are evidently taken from Mark 16: 16." - Pulpit Commentary.
"These words are alluded to in several passages by Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) ... " - Pulpit Commentary, page 349, on Mark 16: 20.
"The evidence of Irenaeus (A.D. 177) is yet more striking. In one of his books ('Adv. Haer,' iii. 10) he quotes the beginning and the end of Mark's Gospel in the same passage, in the latter part of which he says, 'But in the end of his Gospel, Mark saith, "And the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken unto them, was received into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God," confirming that which was said by the prophet. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." "This evidence of Irenaeus is conclusive as to the fact that in his time there was no doubt as to the genuineness and authenticity of the passage, in Asia Minor, in Gaul, or in Italy." - Pulpit Commentary.
"Hippolytus, Bishop of Portus, near Rome (190 to 227), a contemporary of Irenaeus, quotes the 17th and 18th verses ... " - Page 24, J. W. Burgon, B.D., in his book on the last 12 verses of Mark's Gospel.
Vincentius Bishop of Thibari, near Carthage, at the seventh council of Carthage, held in the year A.D. 256 quoted Mark 16: 17-18, in the presence of 87 African Bishops. This information is given on page 25 of Burgon's book.
The final summary of the Pulpit Commentary concerning the authority of this passage is this,
"On the whole, the evidence as to the genuineness and authenticity of this passage seems irresistible."
We may well ask ourselves, "Why does the Modernist theologian not accept such overwhelming facts?" Despite all evidence to the contrary, because the Modernist does not want Mark 16, with its description of the supernatural sign-attested Gospel, he will not have Mark 16 at any price. In attempting to justify this godless unbelief in the supernatural Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Modernist will strain at a gnat, any tiny thing in his effort to remove Mark 16 from the Word of God, but will swallow a camel, the great mass of evidence which is against his contentions, evidence which actually confirms the very contrary.
The numeric structure of the Bible is remarkable evidence of its Divine inspiration. Intricate numeric patterns are woven into every page of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, which testify of one Author, God Himself. Such numeric features have been found in no other writings but the Bible, and yet these numeric systems follow through in the original languages of both Old and New Testaments from start to finish. These numeric patterns are but further confirmation of the truth ofII Timothy 3: 16, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
In Hebrew and Greek languages, each letter of the alphabet was given a certain numeric value. From this fact every word in either the Hebrew or Greek languages can be given a numeric value, by adding together the word. The results, when the numeric features of the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures are examined, is truly amazing, as the inter-woven systems of number seven and other numbers having Bible significance, appear.
Ivan Panin, a mathematician, who devoted much time to the study of this subject, said,
"Now there is not one paragraph throughout the whole Bible that is not constructed on a similar mathematical plan, although its 66 books were written by some 33 different writers, centuries apart! The Bible can thus easily be shown to be verbally inspired of God (in its original form), not only in every word, but also even in every letter! No man or set of men, could have possibly written thus."
No wonder Jesus said, "The Scriptures cannot be broken." (John 10: 35) This numeric evidence of Divine inspiration is, of course, valuable in checking any passage which may be disputed as properly belonging to God's Word. In this way certain portions such as Mark 16 have been conclusively revealed as inspired Scripture.
Some numeric features of three passages of Scripture are listed below to demonstrate these remarkable facts. The first two passages of Scripture considered will be Genesis 1: 1. The first verse of the Bible, and then Matthew 1, verses 18 to 25, which describes the birth of Christ. The third passage of Scripture to be examined will be Mark 16, verses 17 to 20. These three passages have numeric structures based on the number seven. (seven, as is generally known, is the number of completion, or Divine perfection. Patterns of sevens woven into the original Scriptures are so designed that even the altering of one letter, or one word, can upset the numeric pattern.)
Genesis 1: 1 - "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
|The verse consists of exactly seven Hebrew words||1 x 7|
|These seven words have exactly 28 letters||4 x 7|
|There are three nouns: God, Heaven, Earth. Their total numeric value, 777||111 x 7|
|There is one Hebrew verb, "created" - its numeric value is exactly 203.||29 x 7|
|The first three Hebrew words contain the subject; they have exactly 14 letters.||2 x 7|
|The other four contain the object with 14 letters.||2 x 7|
These are just a few of the features of seven contained in this first verse of the Bible.
Matthew 1: 18-25 - "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. "
|The number of Greek words is exactly 161||23 x 7|
|The numeric value of these is exactly 93, 394||13, 342 x 7|
|The number of vocabulary words is exactly 77||11 x 7|
|The numeric value of these vocabulary words is 51, 247||7, 321 x 7|
|The six Greek words which are found nowhere else in Matthew have a numeric value of 5, 005||715 x 7|
|These six words have exactly 56 letters||8 x 7|
|There are 7 proper names||1 x 7|
|The number of letters in these 7 names is 42||6 x 7|
|There is one word, "Emmanuel", used nowhere else in the New Testament, having a numeric value of 644||92 x 7|
Other features of seven could also be shown with regard to this passage, but the above will suffice. An amazing thing about this particular passage is found in the words that the angel speaks to Joseph. If space permitted it could be shown that these words of the angel also have an amazing system of sevens woven into them.
In considering the numerics of the passage, Mark 16: 17-20, it is clearly seen that these verses also posses this amazing numeric testimony of Divine inspiration. In fact it is absolutely saturated with these numeric features of seven. The following list gives only the most outstanding of them.
Mark 16: 17-20 - " And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 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. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. "
|Number of Words|
|175 (in the original Greek)||25 x 7|
|56 used by Jesus||8 x 7|
|119 not used by Jesus||17 x 7|
|77 are words other than nouns||11 x 7|
|21 are nouns||3 x 7|
|Of these nouns, 7 begin with a vowel, 14 begin with a consonant||2 x 7|
|The vocabulary of this passage total ...|
|98 words||14 x 7|
|42 of which were used by Jesus||6 x 7|
|56 not used by Jesus||8 x 7|
|84 used previously in Mark||12 x 7|
|14 used only here||2 x 7|
|7 not used before in the New Testament||1 x 7|
|The passage has ...|
|553 letters||79 x 7|
|294 vowels||42 x 7|
|259 consonants||37 x 7|
|Total numeric value ...|
|103, 663||14, 809 x 7|
Apart from the pattern of sevens incorporated in the text, the last word of this passage is, of course, the last word of Mark. As such, it forms part of the numeric scheme associated with the 54 words which begin and end the 27 New Testament books. This scheme confirms that the New Testament is arranged with exactly the number of books that God intended, and that these books finish precisely as He planned. The numerics of these words would be completely shattered if the last word of Mark was altered. This alone demonstrates that the passage must be included.
5. The Evidence Of The Bible
A further most conclusive evidence concerning the authenticity and authority of Mark 16: 9-20, is the evidence contained elsewhere in the Bible. The Modernist critics, who wish to do away with these last 12 verses of Mark 16, make various claims. One claim is that the Gospel of Mark originally finished at Mark 16, verse 8. The absurdity of this claim is obvious when we read verse 8, which states, "And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they anything to any man; for they were afraid." It would be hard to conceive that the Gospel of Mark would conclude with a group of terrified believers fleeing from the tomb of Jesus. As yet Jesus has not appeared to His disciples personally, nor has He spoken to them. The story is just not complete. The victorious message of the Gospel does not finish with a group of frightened disciples. Another claim by the Modernist is that the original ending of the Gospel of Mark was lost. Of course, to anyone who believes the Bible, this is quite unacceptable. It amounts to accusing God of not being able to preserve His Own Word. Since God inspired Mark to write one of the four Gospel records, He is certainly not going to allow part of it to be lost. We read in the Bible, "But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever." (1 Peter 1: 25) We thank God that He has preserved the Gospel of Mark, including all of chapter 16, intact for our generation as He promised to do, despite the attacks of the Modernist theological unbeliever.
Regarding the contents of Mark 16: 9-20, they can practically be rewritten from other parts of the Bible, for they in no way conflict with the Bible's message. Let us consider the details of the Great Commission of Jesus to His followers described in Mark 16, verses 15 to 20.
Verse 15: The Gospel for the whole world, and every creature. Similar Reference: Acts 1 verse 8.
Verse 16: He that believes, and is baptised, shall be saved. Non-believers shall be damned. Similar References: Acts 8: 12, etc.: Believers were baptised. John 3: 36.
Verse 17: Signs shall follow believers. Similar Reference: Hebrews 2, verses 2 and 3.
Verse 17: They shall cast out devils. They shall speak with new tongues. Similar References: Acts 8: 7: Believers did cast out devils. Signs did follow their believing. Acts 2: 4, Acts 10: 46, Acts 19: 6, 1 Cor. 14: 18 - Believers did speak with tongues.
Verse 18: They shall take up serpents. If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Similar References: Acts 28: 3-6 - Paul protected from snake-bite. Luke 10: 19 - Nothing shall by any means hurt you. Jesus promised protection. Acts 28: 8-9 - Believers did lay hands on the sick. Verse 19: Christ received up into heaven, sits on the right hand of God. Similar References: Acts 1: 9, Acts 2: 34.
Verse 20: And they went forth preaching everywhere. The Lord working with them, confirming the Word with signs following. Similar References: Acts 8: 4 - They did go forth preaching everywhere ... ;Acts 5: 12, Acts 6: 8 - The Lord confirmed the Word with signs following.
Since the Acts of the Apostles describes the perfect fulfilment of the promise of Jesus in the Great Commission of Mark 16, no objection to the contents of Mark 16 can be made on Scriptural grounds. Every word is perfectly in accord with the whole message and purpose of the Gospel. The claimed antagonism of the Modernist to the Gospel, confirmed with miraculous signs following, on the ground of his objections to Mark 16: 9-20, is shown to be mere quibbling. The preaching of the Gospel today, confirmed by the power of God with signs and wonders and miracles, does not rest on Mark 16 alone. There is no other Gospel but that which God will confirm with signs following by the power of the Holy Spirit. The miracle working power of God is right at the very heart of the Gospel. The reconciliation effected between God and man by Jesus Christ on the cross brings man again into direct contact with His Creator. Salvation through the supernatural regeneration of the Holy Spirit, and speaking with new tongues, is a miracle. Without a miracle there is no salvation. Of His salvation, which is the only salvation available, Jesus said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10: 27) The following Scriptures clearly show, apart from Mark 16, that signs and miracles always were, and always will be, associated with the true Gospel of the Bible.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father." (John 14: 12)
N.B.: No time limit given to this promise. Only one condition - that we believe.
"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9: 23)
N.B.: Same as above.
"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove, hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matthew 17: 20)
N.B.: Same as above.
"And my (Paul) speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2: 4-5)
N.B.: The faith of the Gospel was never to be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
"And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up ... " (5: 15)
N.B.: This verse, with the previous verse, describes the anointing of the sick, and their healing by God's power.
"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." (Hebrews 13: 8)
N.B.: Jesus never changes. What He did in Bible days He does today through the Gospel.
" ... ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." (Jude 3.)
N.B.: That faith was a Gospel confirmed with signs following. For this we are contending today.
With the exception of two Manuscripts, and one copy of one version (and these apparently not independent of each other), the overwhelming testimony of the most ancient evidence confirms the authenticity of Mark 16: 9-20. The striking testimony of the ancient writers of the early church is undeniable, the positive evidence of Bible Numerics is conclusive, and the internal evidence of the Bible itself is absolute.
6. The Evidence Of The Believer's Experience
Throughout the world today, millions are enjoying the sign-confirmed salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, as described through the New Testament, and promised in Mark 16. The greatest confirmation of all Scripture, as of Mark 16, is that God fulfils His promises in the lives of His believing people. God watches over His Word to perform it. (Jer. 1.) The sick are being healed, devils are being cast out, Divine protection is being experienced, and as confirmation of salvation through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit people are speaking with other tongues. The Acts of the Apostles, which records the continuing ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through His believing people, which is Mark 16 in fulfilment, has never ceased. To say otherwise is to deny the Great Commission of Christ. To deny miraculous healing, the casting out of devils, and speaking with other tongues, is to not believe the words of Jesus, and of His supernatural unchanging Gospel. Nothing is promised to those who don't believe. Jesus said, "These signs shall follow them that believe . . . " It is no wonder that the religious unbelief of modernistic churches, in rejecting the supernatural sign-confirmed Gospel of the Bible, with the Great Commission of Mark 16, produces no miracle. The order in the Bible is - believe first, and the signs will follow. The purpose of signs is not to prove to rebellious and willingly ignorant people that God doesn't lie. Of some, Jesus said, " . . . neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16: 31) If people will not believe, there will be no signs. This doesn't prove God wrong, however - but only men are wrong - for signs are today following believers.
The miracle signs of the Gospel are set today, as ever, as confirmation of the true preaching of the Gospel to those who truly seek God and are willing to believe. Because the world generally is not this way minded, Jesus calls upon man to "Repent, and believe the Gospel." (Mark 1: 15) For those who will look to God, though they may have been confused by the doctrines and traditions of apostate religion, the miracles signs of the Gospel are identifications of real Bible salvation, how to find it, and where to find it. As the first believers preached, the Lord worked with and confirmed the Word with signs following. (Mark 16: 20) As believers preached the truth of the Word, God backed up that Word with the signs that followed. We see a shocking and shameful situation today, when we consider the mass of religious preaching of all kinds that has no confirmation from God whatsoever! Furthermore, the signs that follow the true Gospel are evidences or confirmation that the Gospel has become effective in the life of the individual.
The signs that follow are evidence of faith exercised, of the promises of the Gospel believed and received. In the New Testament there is no such thing as faith that does not produce result. What many have been led by dead religion to accept as faith is nothing better than mental assent, and mental assent saves no one. Signs - following is the confirmation of saving Gospel faith.
We finish with two questions, and the answer, from Romans 3: 3-4:
"For what if some did not believe? "Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? "God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou might be justified in Thy sayings, and might overcome when thou art judged."