the Bible and Its Meaning

The Gospel of Mark – Part 54

The Bible and its Message – Mark 16:9-20

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Oct. 4th, 2020


  • Today’s sermon is going to be different because of a note we see in our bibles. At this point, we have been happily following along in the book of Mark, going through it one passage at a time.  We have gone through Jesus’s life, ministry, miracles, teaching, trial, death, burial, and resurrection. And then right after verse 8, we run into a statement like this: [Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.]. I remember running into this statement for the first time, and I was like, “What is this about?” Perhaps you have the same type of question. 
  • So, in order to answer that question, you need to know how we got the Bible in the first place and then how this passage fits or does not fit into the rest of the Bible. Then we are going to look at the passage itself. This message is centered around three questions: Can we trust the Bible? Why are there questions about this passage? What does the passage say? 

Can we trust the Bible? 

2 Tim 3:16 ESV

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 Peter 1:21 ESV

For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

  • Accurate – The earliest copies (25 years for the New Testament), the number of copies (24,000 copies) and the accuracy of the copies (99.5%). The Bible is the most accurately preserved and verified document of the ancient world. 
  • Reliable – Trusted and true (history and archaeology). Jesus referred to the OT books as scripture and quoted from most of them. 
  • Relevant – Answers timeless questions: Where did everything come from? Why are we here? What happens when we die?  
  • True – 40 authors, 13 centuries, 3 continents, 1 message – video is oversimplistic in the message of the Bible. Perhaps the best one verse for the purpose of the Bible is summed up by the apostle John when he wrote the purpose of his gospel

John 20:31 ESV

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  • How we came to the “canon” of the Bible – Composed/Circulated/Consistent/Collected/Confirmed (early 300) 

Heb 4:12-13 ESV

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

  • We don’t read it, it reads us. 

Why are there questions about this passage? 

  • Why is there a question about this passage? The following information is from the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1984):
    • External Evidence – The earliest church “fathers” do not give any evidence that they had this longer ending (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Jerome). The oldest and most reliable manuscripts don’t have these verses. However, the longer ending (9-20) is contained in the great majority of the newer manuscripts (after 150 AD). Therefore, we have the heading [Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.].
    • Internal Evidence
      • Vocabulary – slightly over 1/3 of the words used in this section (9-20) are not used anywhere else in the book of Mark, making it difficult to believe this section came from the same author. 
      • Style – weird transition from verse 8 to verse 9. It is almost as if Mary Magdalene had not been mentioned before, the other women were not mentioned at all. Mary was described as having seven demons “cast out” and this is not mentioned in Mark before this. The angel at the tomb said Jesus would meet the disciples in Galilee, but in this section, He meets them in Jerusalem and the immediate vicinity. The writing in this section is a different style than the rest of the book (no vivid and lifelike details, etc.)
      • Content – even though some of the content is true, it is not consistent with the rest of Mark and the NT. In this section, Jesus severely rebukes His disciples.  Nothing like this is found in the rest of Mark’s gospel. There is a bizarre promise of immunity from snakes and poisonous drinks that is out of character with the person of Christ. Nowhere does Jesus exempt Himself or His followers from the natural laws which govern this life (every time / every place)
  • The reason why this ending may have been added is that the early scribes may not have been happy with the ending that they had so they added to it. (Another section that has the note of not being in the earliest manuscripts is John 8:1-11 the woman caught in adultery. That passage does not have as many problems as this one does.)

What does the passage say?   

Mark 16:9-20 ESV 

9 [[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]]


  • You can trust the Bible that it is indeed the word of God. 
  • God has given us everything we need for life and godliness 

2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 

  • Take in the Word. Let it renew your mind and transform your thinking. Build your life on it by His Spirit and bear fruit from it in your life.
  • This concludes this series! The next 3 weeks we will be focusing on preparing us for transition.