Mark 16 COMMENTARY (Ellicott)

Mark 16
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
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.

(1-8) And when the sabbath was past.—See Notes on Matthew 28:1-8. “Mary the mother of James” (not, as in Mark 15:40, of “James and Joses”) answers, as before, to the “other Mary” of Matthew 28:1. “Salome” appears, as before, in St. Mark only.

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
(2)At the rising of the sun.—Literally, when the sun had risen. There seems at first a slight discrepancy between this and St. Matthew’s “while it was yet dark.” A morning haze, however, or the partial continuance of the gloom which had shrouded the city on the previous day, may well be thought of as harmonizing the two accounts.

And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
(3) And they said among themselves . . .—Literally, and they were saying to themselves. The words were on the point of rising to their lips as they looked up and saw the stone rolled away.

And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
(4) For it was very great.—The words have been explained as giving the reason for their previous question, but it seems more natural to see in them St. Mark’s explanation of his having used the word “rolled away” instead of saying, simply, “taken away” or “removed.”

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.
(5) A young man sitting on the right side.—So St. Mark describes the form which St. Matthew (Matthew 28:1) simply calls an “angel of the Lord.”

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.
(6) Be not affrighted.—The words agree substantially with those in Matthew 28:5-8, but omit the fuller appeal to the women to remember the words which their Lord had spoken while He was yet with them in Galilee.

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.
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.
(8) They trembled and were amazed.—Literally, trembling and amazement seized them.

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.
(9-20) Now when Jesus was risen early.—See Notes on Matthew 28:16-20. The history of the verses that follow is in every way remarkable. They are not found in two of the oldest MSS.—the Sinaitic and the Vatican—are marked as doubtful in many others, and are wanting in some versions. In some of these (e.g., in the Vatican MS.) there is a blank space left between Mark 16:8 and the beginning of St. Luke, as though the writer had suspended his work and waited for materials. The absence was noticed by Jerome, who says that “nearly all the Greek texts omit them.” Eusebius states the same fact as true of “the correct MSS.;” and no reference is made to them in the tables of parallel passages which were constructed for reference by Eusebius and Ammonius. On the other hand, they are referred to by Irenæus (about A.D. 170), and are found in the Alexandrian and Cambridge MSS., and in twelve other uncials which are nearly (some say, quite) as old as the two which omit them. When we turn to the internal evidence we find that the narrative, which up to this point had followed closely in the footsteps of St. Matthew, now becomes a very condensed epitome of St. John’s record of our Lord’s appearance to Mary Magdalene (Matthew 20:11-18), of St. Luke’s account of the journey to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), of the appearance to the ten disciples in John 20:19-25 and Luke 24:36-43, of the mission of the eleven reported in Matthew 28:16-20, of the Ascension as given by Luke 24:50-53. Two explanations of these facts are possible. (1) We may suppose that the writer of the Gospel wrote two copies of it, leaving one unfinished, ending at Mark 16:8; that this passed into the hands of persons by whom it was copied as complete, and so became the archetype of the MSS. in which the verses are wanting; while those that contain the subsequent verses were made from a more perfect text, written by St. Mark himself. (2) That the Gospel, having been originally completed by the writer, was in some way, by accident or design, mutilated; that as such it was reproduced faithfully by some transcribers, while others thought it better to give it a completion of some kind, by condensing what they found in the other Gospels. Of the two hypotheses the latter seems the more probable. It seems better, looking to these facts, to reserve notes, for the most part, for the Gospels in which the narratives appear in what was probably their original and certainly their fuller form.

(9-11) First to Mary Magdalene.—See Notes on John 20:11-18, but note that St. Mark’s account of her as one from whom Jesus “had cast out seven devils” is not from St. John, but from Luke 8:2.

And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
(12-13) After that he appeared in another form.—See Notes on Luke 24:13-35.

And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
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.
(14) Afterward he appeared unto the eleven.—See Notes on Luke 24:36-43.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
(15) And he said unto them.—See Notes on Matthew 28:16-20. There is much, however, that is so distinct in St. Mark’s report as to suggest the thought that it may have referred to a different occasion.

Preach the gospel to every creature.—Better, to the whole creation. The universality of the word is, of course, limited by the nature of the case.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
(16) He that believeth not shall be damned.—Better, shall be condemned. The Greek word does not necessarily imply the idea of irreversible endless condemnation which has come to be attached to the English one.

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
(17) They shall speak with new tongues.—This is noticeable as being the only distinct reference in the Gospels to the form of the Pentecostal gift. The promise of the Spirit itself had been prominent, however, throughout our Lord’s teaching (Luke 11:13; John 14:17; John 14:26), and appears from Acts 1:8 to have been specially renewed between the Resurrection and Ascension. On the nature of the gift itself, see Notes on Acts 2:4; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:4-26.

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.
(18) They shall take up serpents.—The instance of St. Paul at Melita is the only recorded example of the kind (Acts 28:1-6). Power over “serpents and scorpions” had, it will be remembered, been given before (Luke 10:19).

If they drink any deadly thing . . .—Of this there is no recorded instance in the New Testament, but it finds an illustration in the tradition of the poisoned cup which was offered to St. John.

So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
(19-20) So then after the Lord had spoken.—See Note on Luke 24:53. St. Matthew, it will be remembered, gives no account of the Ascension. (See Note on Matthew 28:20.) St. Mark and St. Luke record it briefly. St. John implies it in his report of our Lord’s words (John 6:62; John 20:17). In Acts 1:3-11 it is narrated with greater fulness.

The form of the last two verses, the use of the “Lord” instead of Jesus, suggests the thought of their being a later addition to the original records of our Lord’s life and teaching. (See Note on Luke 7:13.)

And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
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