The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 16C

Chapter 16:15-20

  • Tonight, we arrive to the last 5 verses of Mark’s gospel.
    • As we approach these last few verses, we come across a group of text that have been quite difficult to interpret.
      • The interpretive difficulties come with the reality that many denominations approach these text with their own interpretive lenses.
    • For our Charismatic/Pentecostal brothers as sisters, they place a huge emphasis on the accompanying signs as described in verses 17-18.
      • However, as we will see tonight, context is key to understand who these signs are truly meant for and for what purposes.
    • For others, the topic of controversy is Baptismal regeneration.
      • For those who have come out of Roman Catholicism, many were under the belief that it is baptism that saves you.
      • However, with having proper context and a general understanding of salvation in scripture, it is easy to see that Salvation is not a matter of baptism.
      • Rather, one comes to faith by placing trust in God’s provision which is found in a Person who has completed the necessary work, and that is Christ alone.
    • So as you can see, although these are the last five verses, they present the reader with much difficulty.
      • Last week, I took a lengthy amount of time explaining the textual criticism process and how it was determined for the Long Ending to be in the Canon.
      • because we do not have time for that recap, I will direct you back to the Mark 16B teaching to review that on your own time.
    • Our outline for our remaining time in Mark 16 will be the following:
      • 1. The Commission (v.15-16)
      • 2. Accompanying Signs (v.17-18)
      • 3. Apostolic Work (v.19-20 )
    • If I were to put a tag on our text tonight, it would be: Now What? The Long Ending of Mark (Part 2).
      • With that being said, I invite you to meet me in Mark 16:15-20 for the reading of the word of the Lord.

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 

Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 

Mark 16:17 These [a]signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 

Mark 16:18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Mark 16:19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 

Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the [b]signs that followed.

  • Before these passages, we have witnessed several eyewitness testimonies of Jesus being raised from the dead.
    • If I were to give us a repeated theme throughout verses 9 up to this point, it would be “unbelief”.
      • Verse 11, “they didn’t believe He was raised”
      • Verse 13, “they didn’t believe He was raised”
      • Verse 14, “Jesus rebuked them because they didn’t believe He was raised.”
    • So, unbelief in the resurrection seems to be the issue for the eleven and as a result, it presents a huge problem as it relates to the Kingdom Program.
      • Remember, these eleven men were going to be the ones who would help usher in the Church.
      • And with such a task along with Christ’s coming ascension to the right hand of the Father, there would need to be Apostolic representatives to go forth in this work.
    • If you recall, their trial run began in Mark 6:7, where Jesus sent the disciples out two by two giving them authority over unclean spirits, healing diseases, and the like.
      • These men would be Jesus’ witnesses in the various places they were sent out.
      • However, in that context, Jesus was still present with them in His earthly ministry.
      • Therefore, they would need to believe what He had said to properly accomplish the work that He would do through them.
    • Unfortunately, at this point, these men refused to believe the eyewitness accounts which prompted Jesus to go before them with a stern rebuke.
      • If you recall from last week, the word for reproach in Greek is oneidizo which is a severe and intense term.
      • It is a sense of heaping insult or reprimanding a guilty party or a kind of verbal extortion with the purpose of obtaining something.
    • At this point, one would ask the question: “What did Jesus tell them specifically within this reproach?”
      • The text doesn’t seem to provide that information.
      • But whatever He told them, as we see later on throughout the book of Acts, they got it together and believed what they were told.
    • It’s like being told something by your parents regarding something important for you to do, like cleaning your room.
      • And when inspection time comes and you are found not having done what was necessary, your parents pull you aside for a stern talking to.
      • “This room is not clean, and I have laid out the instructions and expectations.
      • If you don’t get it together, there will be consequences that follow. Now get the room clean.”
      • This, in essence, is what Jesus is sternly telling these 11 to do. And we see the command that He provides.
    • So, it’s in verse 15 that Jesus tells the eleven to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
      • Now, up to this point, with identifying the context and the audience, who is Jesus addressing specifically?
      • None other than the eleven (The Apostles).
      • There has been no subject change simply a command given considering the reproach He had given the eleven because of their unbelief.
    • So, to assume that this verse is referencing future believers who will go out to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ or parallel the Great Commission is not in alignment with the context.
      • Notice, the command of the commissioning belongs to the required party to obey, which is the eleven (apostles) versus the disobedience that has been previously demonstrated (remaining in unbelief).
      • In other words, where these men have refused to believe the eyewitnesses testimony of the resurrection, there now needs to be a pivot to obedience and submission to the command given.
      • And in this case, the command is for these 11 to “Go and preach the Gospel.”
    • And in the command of their Commission follows certain conditions.
      • Jesus continues in verse 16 saying: “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”
      • This is then followed by a list of accompanying signs of those who believe and have been baptized in verses 16-18.
    • So in following this train of thought, we should consider the following questions:
      • 1. Who/What is to be believed, in this context?
      • 2. What is the baptism that will be undertaken?
      • 3. What meaning of save is found here?
      • Lets begin with question 1.
    • Remember, context is key! Because if we take the text and assume that Jesus is speaking about all disciples (believers), then it will cause other interpretive issues.
      • Another thing that we are to textually consider is within the New Testament, a normal construction that follows an imperative (command) normally is directed towards the same audience.
      • In other words, verse 11 begins with (they didn’t believe), verse 13 (they didn’t believe) verse 14, they didn’t believe, and verse 16 (he who believes).
      • Therefore, the natural progression of this address speaks, once again, to the eleven (apostles) as the subject at hand.
    • Now, some could assume “Well isn’t this a Great Commission passage?”
    • However, in taking account of the other Great Commission passages and their order, we must consider who the address was to.
      • Was this a public or private address, and to whom was Jesus addressing?
      • By reading through both Matthew and Luke’s Great Commission accounts we see that Mark and John’s text is the only one that speaks to this private meeting in a private setting with only the 11 apostles.
      • The other accounts are in public places with more than the apostles present. One setting is in Galilee and another in Bethany. (Mt.28:16-17; Lk.24:50)
      • However, in Mark and John’s gospel, they are in a home, because verse 14 tells us that the eleven were reclining at a table. (Jn.20:19-23,24-29)
    • Therefore, we can conclude that verse 16 speaks specifically about the Apostles.
    • Now, being that we know who is to believe, the next half interpretive question becomes, “What should they believe?”
      • Remember, they were in unbelief regarding these accounts which triggered Jesus’ reprimanding of them in the house.
      • So, the resurrection becomes the content to be believed.
    • Our next question addresses the next section of verse 16, “and has been baptized”. This further begs the question: “What baptism is in view here?”
      • Being that there were multiple baptisms during this day, we need to contextually determine which baptism is Jesus referring to.
    • The word baptized is used 10 times within Mark’s Gospel alone and provides us with several Baptisms in particular.
      • 1. Baptism by Water (Unto Repentance)
      • 2. Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)
      • 3. Baptism of Christ’s death (Mark 10:39)
    • Obviously, there are many more baptisms that the New Testament speaks of, however, within Mark’s gospel these are the ones mentioned.
      • Now with careful examination, we know the first one deals with identifying with whom John the Baptist pointed to regarding being the Messiah.
      • The Baptism of the Holy Spirit has not yet occurred because this is an Acts 2 event and Jesus has not yet ascended.
      • A ceremonial cleansing is nowhere in view here nor are these eleven proselytes.
      • This only leaves the Baptism which Jesus talked about in Mark 10:38-39. Check out the text.

Mark 10:38  But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 

Mark 10:39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized

    • Contextually, Jesus is speaking to James and John about the disciples being baptized with the baptism He would be baptized which speaks to this sense of humiliation, suffering, and death.
      • All this comes to accomplish the will of the Father.
      • This seems to fit the context of what the ending of Mark is talking about even the history recorded in the book of Acts.
    • In other words, those of the eleven who submit to the plan of God, even to the point of great humiliation, suffering, and death are what is the baptism in view here.
      • And as verse 16 is rounded out, those of the eleven who respond in this way (positively) will be saved.
    • Now, many will see the word “will be saved” and assume it deals with eternal salvation, but this is not the case.
      • Remember, the context always determines the interpretation of the word in the text itself.
    • Salvation is solely based upon belief in the Lord Jesus Christ - no works or merit necessary.
      • The Greek word for saved is sozo means to be saved or delivered in a physical sense from temporal danger.
      • Sozo could also mean healed of an illness, or delivered from being killed or condemned.
      • For instance in Mark 5:23 the term “get well” is (sozo) or Mark 5:28, the term “get well” is (sozo).
    • However, in Mark 8:35 the context of sozo is in reference to that of a wasted life.

Mark 8:35 For whoever wishes to save his [a]life will lose it, but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

      • The context here is discipleship and following the will of God as a follower of Jesus Christ and the cost required to be a disciple.
    • Furthermore, right after verse 35 of Mark 8, we find these words, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.”
      • So, if the context of the apostles need to believe in the resurrection and submit in obedience to the Father’s plan even to the point of humiliation, suffering, and death, then the Apostles will be preserved or kept from a wasted life.
    • However, the consequence is found in verse 16b, that if the apostles do not believe in the resurrection and submit to the Father’s will, then they will stand condemned.
      • Now, the same rule we applied to the term saved applies to the term condemned.
    • The reality is when we see the term condemned in scripture, our minds instantly run to eternal punishment or hell, however, context is key!
      • The word condemned in Greek is katakrino which means to judge someone as definitely guilty and is subject to punishment.
      • It deems someone guilty.
      • Therefore, if one of the Apostles remains in unbelief regarding the resurrection and does not submit to the Father’s plan to the point of humiliation, suffering, and even death, then they can expect divine discipline from God, Himself.
    • This becomes the warning that the Lord Jesus has with these eleven men in the privacy of this home at the table.
      • In other words, don’t waste your life because you refuse to believe these eyewitness accounts. Get in the game!
    • It’s like a coach in the last quarter of the game. A few minutes left to spare.
      • He gives you the necessary pep talk to push you to the point of achievement and it’s time to get off the bench!
      • Well, it’s from this point that Jesus outlines the results of the Apostle’s belief based upon the conditions outlined in verse 16. Check out verses 17-18.

Mark 16:17 These [a]signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 

Mark 16:18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

  • Jesus follows up the verse 16 with what comes in conjunction with their belief in the resurrection and obedience and submission to the Father.
    • He mentions that there will be accompanying signs in their belief!
      • And these signs are the following:
      • 1. Casting out demons
      • 2. Speak with new tongues
      • 3. Pick up serpents
      • 4. Drink any deadly poison and it won’t hurt them
      • 5. They will lay hands on the sick and they will recover
    • What is key to notice here is, again, who are the recipients of this commission and conditions?
      • It is solely the Apostles.
    • Our Charismatic brothers and sisters will run immediately to these verses and say that all believers will and should be able to do these things.
      • Some will even argue that if you can’t do these things, you never truly believed.
    • There was one charismatic church I heard about that went to graveyards to raise the dead.
      • They also run to this scripture to confirm that all need to speak with “new tongues”, however, if we are not grounded contextually, we make room for error.
      • And for many, they begin to question if they are truly saved,
    • So it’s important to note that the phrase “accompany those who have believed” is in the dative form.
      • This simply indicates the recipient of a verbal action.
      • And the action, as previously stated in verse 16, is for the eleven to believe in the resurrection and obey the Father, so that they will receive these signs.
    • Therefore, we can say that these actions are to affirm and confirm the messengers of Christ (the Apostles) who will be responsible for advancing the Gospel.
      • Check out what Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 12:12.

2 Corinthians 12:12 The [a]signs [b]of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by [c]signs and wonders and [d]miracles.

      • This becomes even clearer through the reading of the Book of Acts.
      • The Apostles accomplished many of these things!
      • We know that Paul survived a snakebite in Acts 28:1-6. Check out the text.

Acts 28:1 When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called [a]Malta. 

Acts 28:2 The [b]natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. 

Acts 28:3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out [c]because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 

Acts 28:4 When the [d]natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, [e]justice has not allowed him to live.” 

Acts 28:5 However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 

Acts 28:6 But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

    • So, these dynamic and supernatural signs not only authenticated the works of the Apostles but they demonstrated the Power of God at work in and through them.
      • We now arrive at the last 2 verses, verses 19-20.

Mark 16:19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 

Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the [b]signs that followed

  • The writer of the long ending of Mark’s gospel sums up the eleven’s response to what Jesus had said.
    • The text states that upon the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eleven went everywhere to preach the gospel.
      • And in submitting to the plans of the Father, their preaching of the gospel and the content of the message of the gospel was confirmed in the signs that followed.
    • From a plain reading of the text, it seems as if the eleven have responded in belief to the resurrection.
      • The only way in which the signs would be demonstrated to authenticate the message that they would carry is if they first believed the resurrection took place.
      • They had to be submitted fully to the plans and will of God for the Power of God to be powerfully at work through them.
    • I believe that is the interesting piece to note here- the eleven won’t operate in their own strength, they are vessels by which the Lord is working through!
      • The teaching and miracles of the Apostles were a result of their dependency on God.
    • And isn’t this true for how we are to operate in ministry today?! Total dependence upon the Lord!
      • Their ability to accomplish this work hinged on what Jesus told them God would accomplish in Him being raised from the dead.
      • The message they would preach, proclaim, and promote would be the work accomplished through the Person of Jesus Christ - that He died, was, buried, and was raised from the dead.
    • Something clicked for the eleven, because throughout all the book of Acts, the message of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection became of first importance.
      • That the eye witnessing of Jesus’ resurrection was the content by which men and women would be justified and made right before God.
      • The Power of the resurrection of Jesus would be the means through which men and women would be sanctified and able to live a Spirit-led life.
    • I love how scripture interprets scripture, because the reality of what Jesus accomplished and the fact that His life was observed and personally witnessed, brings weight to His words!
      • This is why I believe John started off 1 John this way: Check out 1 John 1:1-3.

1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 

1 John 1:2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 

1 John 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

    • The Church Age would require the Apostles to preach the object of our faith (Jesus Christ) accomplishing the content of our faith (His death, burial, and resurrection), which results in Eternal Salvation for those who believe it.
      • This reality speaks to the fact that what the Father begins, He sees it through to its completion. (Phil.1:6)

Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

      • Through opposition and imprisonment, the Apostles, with great joy, preached the Gospel.
      • Through internal and external opposition of the Church, the Apostles continued to preach the foundation of the Christian faith - the Gospel.
      • From both Jewish and Gentile conversions the message of the Gospel remained the same- Christ died, was buried, and raised from the dead.
    • Friends, there is no other name by which men can be saved.
      • There is no other message that brings eternal salvation and security.
    • It required the selfless and service-centered actions of a selfless man named Jesus Christ to come in the form of a human being, die a death He didn’t deserve, yet was raised with all Power in His hands.
      • This reality was seen, felt, heard, and experienced and has been documented for those who, in hearing this message, may move from death to life.
      • No work is needed - only belief.
      • No striving is necessary, only trust.
    • This Gospel we have is a sure and trustworthy testimony of the faithfulness of our great God and Coming King.
      • Mark’s Gospel showed us that through the actions of Jesus and the work He accomplished, He is the Son of God.
      • Lets Pray.