MARK CHAPTER 16
I) [Mk 16:9-20]:
These verses are not found in the two most ancient manuscripts, the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus; others have them with partial omissions and variations. The snake handling and poison drinking appears only here in the bible with the one exception of the asp biting Paul in which case this was not intentional snake handling at all and does not qualify as a parallel passage in support of what is said in Mark 6:17-18.
In view of the serious doubt of the validity of this passage which is not supported in any way elsewhere in Scripture, I would not major in it, but instead, look to the rest of Scripture in order to prove out God's will for ones life. There simply are not enough snakes in the world available to prove out your salvation nor a valid reason for doing so, nor a valid reason for deliberately drinking poison, nor sufficient reason to rely on producing/experiencing constant miracles when our Lord Himself rebuked others for relying and focusing on His producing miracles all the time. The rich man in hades asked Abraham in paradise to send a sign back to his brothers so that they would believe and be saved. Abraham's answer: read the [OT] bible.
Furthermore, if the ending of Mark has not been available for hundreds of years, then we must consider this in the light of the sovereignty of God in the dissemination and preservation of His Word. If certain sections, verses and words of books of the Bible such as the ending of Mark have not been made available throughout the centuries, it is to be concluded that God sovereignly saw to it that they were not made avaiable and were thus not part of what He intended for mankind at the time to be exposed to, if at all.
B) [Mk 16:15-16]:
(v. 15) "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
(v. 16) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
The subject of Christian water baptism is a highly controversial one. Many insist that it is a requirement for being saved.
[Dave Hunt states, ('The Berean Call' periodical, Bend, Oregon, March 1995 issue, in an article entitled 'Baptismal Regeneration')]:
"Christ commanded His original disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mk 16:15). Those of every nation who believed in Christ as their Savior were to be baptized 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' (Mt 28:19). These new disciples were to preach the gospel everywhere and to baptize those who believed (v 20) through their testimony as Christianity spread worldwide.
Baptism in the early church was by immersion: 'they went down both into the water...[W]hen they were come up out of the water' (Acts 8:38-39), etc. Why? Because baptism symbolizes the believers's identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection: 'we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead... we also should walk in newness of life' (Rom 6:4).
Unfortunately, various innovations and heresies were gradually introduced regarding baptism: that one must be baptized to be saved; indeed, that baptism itself saves the soul even when administered to infants. These heresies became known as the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Most Protestants holding these beliefs today are not aware that they originated with the Roman catholic Church in the Middle Ages.
The Council of Trent (1545-63) stated that while Christ 'merited for us justification by His most holy passion... the instrumental cause [of justification/ regeneration] is the sacrament of baptism... If anyone says that baptism is... not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.' Vatican II (1962-65) reconfirms all of Trent and reiterates the necessity of baptism for salvation, as does the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church released by the Vatican in 1993: 'Baptism is necessary for salvation... the Church does not know of any [other] means... that assures entry into eternal beatitude...'
Trent anathematizes all who deny that 'the merit of Jesus Christ is applied... to infants by the sacrament of baptism' or who deny that by baptism 'the guilt of original sin is remitted...' Today's Code of Canon Law (Canon 849) declares that those baptized are thereby 'freed from their sins, are reborn as children of God and.. incorporated in the Church.' Canon 204 states: 'The Christian faithful are those who... have been incorporated in Christ through baptism' and are thereby members of the one, true Catholic Church.
For centuries before the Reformation, baptismal regeneration was rejected by Bible-believing Christians, whom the Roman Catholic Church therefore persecuted, tortured and slaughtered by the millions. Non-Catholics taught from Scripture that baptism was only for those who had believed the gospel: 'teach all nations... baptizing them [who have believed]' (Mt 28:19); 'Then they that gladly received his word were baptized' (Acts 2:41); '[W]hat doth hinder me to be baptized? ...If thou believest [in Christ] with all thine heart, thou mayest' (Acts 8:35-37). Infants can't believe in Christ.
Consider Cornelius's household: they heard the gospel, believed it and were baptized. That there were no infants baptized is also clear, for they had all gathered 'to hear all things that are commanded thee of God' (Acts 10:33). '[T]he Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard [and, obviously, understood and believed] the word' (v 44); and they spoke with tongues' (v 46). That they had 'received the Holy Ghost' (v 47) convinced Peter that they were saved. Therefore, he baptized them (v 48).
Nor can infant baptism be supported from the case of the Philippian jailor who 'was baptized, he and all his' (Acts 16:33). Again there were no infants present because Paul and Silas preached the gospel 'to all that were in his house,' (v 34) and were then baptized.
The early Reformers such as Martin Luther were Catholics who, unfortunately, retained some Catholic dogmas, among them baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. These heresies are still held by some Protestant denominations today. The issue is a serious one. If baptism is essential for salvation, then to reject that gospel is to be damned. But if salvation is through faith in Christ alone, then to add baptism as a condition for salvation is to reject the true gospel and thus to be eternally lost.
"The Bible declares that it is wrong to teach salvation by faith in Christ plus anything else, such as keeping the Jewish law (Acts 15:24). Paul cursed (anathematized) those who taught this false gospel that damns the soul (Gal 1:8-9). A gospel of salvation through Christ plus baptism is equally false.
When Paul reminded the Corinthians of the essential ingredients of the gospel which he preached and by which they had been saved, he made no mention of baptism (1 Cor 15:1-4). In fact, he distinguished between the gospel and baptism: 'Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel...' (1 Cor 1:17). He hadn't baptized most of the Corinthians, couldn't remember whom he had baptized, and was thankful that it had been very few (1 Cor 1:14-16) - a strange attitude if baptism is essential to salvation! Yet without baptizing them, Paul declared that he was their father in the faith: 'in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel' (1 Cor 4:15).
Then what about Mark 16:16: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved'? All who believe the gospel are saved, so of course all who believe and are baptized are saved; but that does not say that baptism saves or that it is essential for salvation. Scores of verses declare, with no mention of baptism, that salvation comes by believing the gospel: '[I]t pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.' (1 Cor 1:21; see also Jn 3:16, 18, 36, 5:24; Acts 10:43, 13:38-39, 16:34; Rom 1:16, 3:28, 4:24, 5:1; 1 Cor 15:1-5; Eph 2:8, etc.). Not one verse, however, says that baptism saves.
Numerous verses declare that whosoever does not believe is lost, but not one verse declares that whosoever is not baptized is lost. Surely the Bible would make it clear that believing in Christ without being baptized cannot save if that were the case, yet it never says so! Instead, we have examples of those who believed and were saved without being baptized, such as the thief on the cross and the Old Testament saints (Enoch, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, et al.) to whom Christian baptism was unknown... [Ref Hebrews chapter 11].
[Dave Hunt, cont]:
"Then why does the Bible say, 'There is ...one baptism' (Eph 4:4-5)? The explanation is simple but carries profound consequences: Baptism of any kind occurs only once and is never repeated. In that sense, then, there is only one baptism. Whether one believes that baptism itself saves, or that it symbolizes salvation through identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, the fact that it cannot recur proves that one's salvation can never be lost. For if one must get saved again as a result of losing one's salvation, then baptism must be repeated each time - but there is only one baptism.
This dogma of 'falling away,' like baptismal regeneration, also comes from Roman Catholicism. No Catholic can be certain he is saved; for salvation, which is by works in Catholicism, could be forfeited at any time by failure to continue to perform the works prescribed. Trent declares: 'If anyone says that he will for certain...have that great gift of perseverance [in the faith] even to the end...let him be anathema.' While rebaptism is not practiced in Catholicism, the sacraments of penance and the Mass are said to restore saving grace and are thus repeated endlessly.
Yes, but Romans 6:4 states, '[W]e are buried with [Christ] by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead...even so we also should walk in newness of life.' That Paul is not speaking of water baptism, however, but of the spiritual reality it symbolizes, is clear, for he says that through baptism 'our old man [sinful nature] is crucified with him [Christ], that the body of sin might be destroyed.' As a consequence, he urges believers to 'reckon' themselves 'to be dead indeed to sin...[L]et not sin therefore reign in your mortal body' (vv 6-13).
Paul uses similar language concerning himself when he says, 'I am crucified with Christ' (Gal 2:20). He is obviously speaking of that same spiritual 'baptism' by which we have been placed in Christ and have thus passed with Him through death into resurrection life. If we were literally dead to sin, then we wouldn't need to 'reckon' it true or love the new life by faith; we would automatically never sin again. That a Christian may sin shows that water baptism doesn't effect a literal crucifixion with Christ. It portrays a spiritual baptism into Christ which the believer must live by faith...
...Significantly, though Paul baptized a few, Christ never baptized anyone (Jn 4:2) - very odd if baptism saves. The Savior of the world must have deliberately avoided baptizing to make it clear that baptism has no part in salvation......"
1) [Compare Jn 6:40]:
"For this is the will of My Father, that every one who beholds the Son, and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
If one concludes that water baptism, (Mk 16:16), is an essential part of salvation, by extraction of a verse out of context then we must use the same extraction process in Jn 6:40, above, and conclude that only those living at the time of Christ, and that only those who actually saw Him can be saved.
2) [Consider Mk 1:4]:
"John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."
This verse, when taken out of context, appears to teach that forgiveness of sins comes only through John the Baptist's water baptism - which was strictly for Jews, leaving the Gentile world totally condemned without a chance for salvation:
3) [Consider Gen 15:4-6]:
(v. 4) "Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'This man will not be your heir; but One shall come forth from your own body, He shall be you Heir.'
(v. 5 ) And He [God] took him outside and said, 'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'
(v. 6) Then he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness."
In the same way, one might take verse 6 out of context and conclude that only the descendants of Abraham will be eligible for salvation. Most Jews believe this way.
4) [Consider Mt 10:5-7, 32]:
(v. 5) "These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, 'Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; [One might conclude here that salvation was exclusively for the Jews]
(v. 6) but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
(v. 7) And as you go, preach, saying, '''The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'''
(v. 32) Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father Who is in heaven.' "
One might even falsely conclude in Matthew chapter 10 that Gentiles are entirely excluded from being saved by our Lord Himself.
So by the method one uses in falsely interpreting Mark 16:16 in order to conclude that one must be water baptiszed in order to be saved one must also conclude that one must be a Jew who saw the Lord Jesus Christ as a Man 2000 years ago, (Jn 6:40), and one must have been water baptized by John the Baptist himself, (Mk 1:4), and have been a believer in the Abrahamic covenant as well as a descendant of Abraham, (Gen 15:6), etc. etc. This is however only the beginning. There are dozens of passages which add even more to what must be done in order to be saved and many died before these passages were even written. Only one who masters the entire bible and all of the requirements to be saved will thus be saved.
The truth is, however a different matter. Paul answered it best when the frightened jailkeeper in Philippi asked him:
5) [Acts 16:30b-31]:
(v. 30b) " 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' " [And Paul's simple and complete answer was]:
(v. 31) 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved....' "
So it is belief and belief alone in Christ alone as Savior that is the way to heaven - nothing else can be added. If anything else was required, then Paul was lying to the frightened Philippian jailer. Anything else such as confession of Jesus as Lord, water baptism, Lord's Supper, leading a repentant lifestyle, etc. etc. may immediately accompany a person's first time expression of faith in Christ; yet these spiritually important things in a believer's life also contribute nothing toward that believer's salvation, (Eph 2:8-9).
All of the passages in Scripture relative to salvation might be likened to following a recipe. Many recipes contain nonessential instructions such as suggesting a number of ways to serve the results. Once a recipe has been followed and a successful outcome is obtained, further action such as serving it on a dish in some special way merely demonstrates what has already occurred. In like manner, once salvation has occurred by a single moment of trusting alone in Christ alone as Savior, (Jn 3:16, Eph 2:8-9), actions such as public confession, water baptism, divine good works, etc., serve to demonstrate to man what has already occurred. So the water baptism or the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord demonstrates the successful results of the faith which has been exercised in Christ as Savior, such faith resulting in salvation even before there is the slightest confession or any other deed.
[BobWilkin states, http://faithalone.org/news/y1995/95may2.html]:
"There are a number of clear and compelling reasons why we can be sure that Mark 16:16 isn't teaching that water baptism is a condition of eternal salvation:
Condemnation is for unbelief only
Jesus didn't say, "He who is not baptized will be condemned." Neither did He say, "He who does not believe and is not baptized will be condemned." Rather, He said, "He who does not believe will be condemned." By this our Lord made it clear that faith alone was necessary to a void eternal condemnation. He said the same thing in John 3:18: "He who believes in Him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God;" (see also John 5:24; 6:47).
The Apostles Preached Salvation By Faith Alone
Two of the disciples in the inner circle were Peter and John. Both of them heard Jesus say the words recorded in Mark 16. Yet both of them taught that the only condition of eternal salvation was trusting in Christ and Him alone.
Peter proclaimed the Gospel to Cornelius and his family. He led them to faith in Christ before he even mentioned baptism (cf. Acts 10:34-44). Only after they were saved and baptized by the Holy Spirit did Peter mention Christian baptism and give them the opportunity to be baptized (Acts 10:45-48).
The apostle John wrote an evangelistic book that we call the Gospel of John. He repeatedly indicated that faith is the only condition of eternal salvation. Yet not once in all of John's Gospel, written after the event recorded in Mark 16:16 occurred, did John condition eternal salvation upon water baptism. (In fact, Christian water baptism is not even mentioned in John's Gospel.)
The Gospel Never Changes
"What about the thief on the cross?" I would say. "Jesus said he would be with Him that day in Paradise, yet he was never baptized."
The response I would get was inevitably this: That was before Pentecost. After Pentecost, you have to be baptized in order to be saved.
What these students were telling me was that the Gospel had changed Before Jesus' resurrection and the coming of the Spirit a person was saved without water baptism. After that water baptism is required. That is an impossible position to defend since the apostle Paul clearly indicates that we are saved in this age the same way Abraham and David were saved in their age (cf. Rom 4:1-8; Gal 3:6-14). The Gospel has always been, and always will be, by grace through faith plus nothing.
[Note also that Jn 3:14-18 was an affirmation by our Lord of believing in Him and receiving eternal life, no mention of water baptism, which affirmation was declared before the cross to a Jew under the Law]
We find this in the first book in the Bible (Gen 3:15; 15:6) and in the last book in the Bible (Rev 22:17).
The NT Gives Examples Of Salvation Before Baptism
In addition to the thief on the cross, there are other NT examples of people who were saved without being baptized. Martha (John 11:25-27) is one. Another is Cornelius and his household. According to Acts 10:43-48, they were saved the moment they heard Peter tell them that all who believe in the Lord Jesus receive remission of sins. At that very moment, before they were baptized with water, they were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.
These four points prove that Mark 16:16 is not teaching that you must be water baptized to go to heaven. However, the question still remains as to what Mark 16:16 does mean.
Mark 16:16 Is Teaching That All Who Respond To The Great Commission Will Go To Heaven
(v. 15) "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
(v. 16) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.' "
"The key to understanding these verses is to recognize that they are a summary statement of the Great Commission. Mark is not reporting everything that Jesus said about the Great Commission. He is recording one summary statement that Jesus made of it.
The Great Commission was communicated by the Lord on five different occasions (once each in the Gospels and Acts). There is a lot of variety in the way the Great Commission is expressed in these five instances. In some of those statements only evangelism is mentioned (e.g., Luke 24:47, though it could possibly be dealing with both evangelism and discipleship, and Acts 1:8). In some only discipleship is mentioned (Matt 28:18-20; John 21:15-17). The Great Commission in Mark 16:15-16 includes both evangelism and discipleship. Preaching the Gospel to every creature (v 15) is evangelism. Baptizing those who believe (v 16) is the first step in discipleship.
What Jesus is saying in Mark 16:15-16 is this:
§ Preach the Gospel to everyone on earth (v 15).
§ Tell people to believe in Him and to be baptized (implied in v 16).
§ Those who believe and are baptized will be saved.
§ Those who don't believe will be condemned.
It is, of course, true that all who believe and are baptized will be eternally saved. That is not to say, however, that those who either refuse to be baptized or who fail to be baptized through procrastination, ignorance, or lack of opportunity (for example, some people have died immediately after trusting in Christ) will not be saved. They will. At the very moment they believe, they are saved from the penalty of sin, eternal condemnation.
We must be careful not to read into Scripture. Jesus does not say or even imply that the one who isn't baptized won't be saved. We know that is not true from other Scripture, and even from the second half of v. 16.
Mark 16:16 does not contradict salvation by faith alone. Rather, it affirms it. Jesus clearly and unmistakably indicates that the sole basis of eternal condemnation is unbelief. The sole basis for eternal salvation is believing the Lord Jesus, and Him alone, for it."
C) [Mk 16:17-18]:
Following the original Greek:
(v. 17) "And signs those that believe these shall follow: in My name demons they cast out; with tongues they shall speak;
(v. 18) serpents they shall take up;
and if deadly anything they drink in no wise them shall it injure; upon [the] infirm hands they shall lay, and well they shall be."
KJV: (v. 18a) "they shall take up serpents..."
Serpents = opheis = str # 3789 = There are a number of possibilities available for this word as Strongs and other dictionaries provide and one must not arbitrarily select one without taking the time to rule out the others.
Among the possibilities for the word opheis = str # 3789 = a snake, figuratively: a sly, cunning, malicious type of person Satan which is coined in Scripture itself [Rev 12:9] but only when it is singular and accompanied by the definite article indicating a unique one of a kind individual, (which is not the case here in this verse).
And then we have the all important verb that accompanies this word as action taken involving the snakes:
"They shall take up" = "arousin" = Str #142 = to lift, by implication to take up or away; to raise (the voice), keep in suspense (the mind); to sail away, fig. to weigh anchor; to expiate sin; bear (up); carry, carry, lift up, loose, make to doubt, put away, remove take (away up).
So the actual literal reptile seems to hold the strongest possibility since the verb that fits best is 'They shall take up" as the KJV and other translations render it = a physical taking up or handling of "arousin" = snakes. The concept of battling verbally with snake like individuals, i.e, those who pervert the gospel or who are cunning like the Pharisees in manipulating the Law of Moses to their own ends is not feasible because the verb does not fit this concept so that must be ruled out.
Furthermore the bible elsewhere does not indicate that all believers will give evidence of such behavior: i.e., constant debating of doctrine with cunning sly manipulators of the gospel, etc. This scenario is not established at all in the bible especially in the epistles: the main source of doctrinal information for believers of this age.
Finally, there is no authoritative viable translation in existence since the first century that does not consider this passage to be referring to the actual handling of reptile snakes over all of these centuries. Could God in His sovereignty permit such an error in translation all of these years?