by Pastor David Stogsdill
The End of Mark
Mark 16:9-20 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. 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. 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. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized 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 every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
These verses set off a firestorm among the different denominations of Christianity. First, there are those who believe that this portion of Mark does not even belong in the Bible. They cite the “experts” who say that these verses do not appear in the “earliest copies” of the Greek New Testament, namely the two copies that are used for every modern English version of the Bible. The Greek New Testament Text of modern versions comes from a combination of these two texts that were out of circulation for more than 1,000 years, they are different Greek Text that was used to create the King James Version of the Bible. One was found in the Vatican and the other in the city of Alexandria. From this combo there are 5,604 differences when compared to the KJV. There are 1,952 OMISSIONS; 467 ADDITIONS and 3,185 CHANGES. In these 5,604 places there are 4,366 more words included, making a total of 9,970 Greek words that were involved. This means that in a Greek Text of 647 pages an average of 15.4 words per page are different from the Received Text, which is the name of the Greek Text the KJV was translated from. So that’s the first difficulty to overcome. The KJV is based upon over 5,000 manuscripts or texts, and while they may not be the oldest around, they were the ones that were in use rather than being hid away and not used for 1,000 years. We believe that the 5,000 are more reliable than just 2 manuscripts, which are 2 copies, old but still just two. So we believe that this portion of Mark is Scripture.
Secondly, the difficult portion of this Scripture is found in verses 16 to 18. There are those that confuse the Bible and the topic of salvation by teaching one of two erroneous thoughts about verse 16. One that teaches salvation by baptism and the other that the baptism referred to here is not water baptism but baptism by the Spirit. First, it is water baptism. There is no baptism by the Holy Spirit, but rather Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, The Spirit of God is the element not the administrator of baptism. So if it is water baptism then what is meant by this verse? To understand it is very simple, the emphasis is on belief not baptism. He that believeth versus he that believeth not. If you believeth not then you are damned, it does not say if you are not baptized then you are damned. The charismatic crowd believes that these verses teach a Spirit baptism that will give you the “gifts” of tongues, miracles and healing for today. History shows something different. These signs were given to the earliest Christians, on the day of Pentecost and a few other times in the NT tongues were used as a means of preaching the Gospel, the Apostle Paul was bitten by a deadly snake and felt no harm and we read of these early disciples raising the sick, but the key to understanding their use is found in verse 20. They were used to confirm the preaching and once the Bible was completed here on earth these signs faded from use by our Lord. There are no records that any of these signs have continued, though there are claims that they have started up again within the last 120 years. But we do not believe the modern movement is of God.