Monday, March 29, 2021
“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” (Mark 16:9 KJV).
What should we conclude regarding Mark 16:9-20?
Dear friend, if you have a study Bible, or a version other than a King James Bible, you have probably encountered a disconcerting annotation at Mark 16:9-20. For 140 years, modern English Bible versions have placed an ominous marginal note or footnote at this Longer Ending. The comment reads something to the effect of, “The two oldest and best manuscripts lack these verses.” Some versions also provide an alternative reading, commonly called the Shorter Ending. Still, others may add between verses 14 and 15 something known as the Intermediate or Expanding Ending (Freer Logion).
Up until the mid-20th century, most “scholars” were open to the possibility John Mark wrote past 16:8. However, additional human wisdom and speculation caused them to change their consensus. Now, nearly all Bible “scholars” believe John Mark stopped writing at verse 8. Consequently, verses 9-20 (Longer Ending) are rejected as “spurious,” “doubtful,” “not genuine.” (They also refuse the “Shorter Conclusion” variant and the “Intermediate/Freer Logion/Expanded Conclusion” variant.) Yes, imagine that! We have Bible unbelievers, Bible doubters, leading Christendom!
Such animosity toward Mark 16:9-20—the King James Bible ending—began way back in the A.D. first century, when John Mark first wrote it. Its dispensational nature ignored, denominationalists and apostates struggling to harmonize it with Pauline doctrine, they finally excised (removed) the troubling passage from some manuscripts. Yet, even today, we find those last 12 verses of Mark supported in the ancient testimonies of dozens of early church fathers, hundreds of Greek manuscripts of Mark chapter 16, thousands of ancient Bibles with Mark chapter 16 in other languages (Syriac, Latin, et cetera), and thousands of ancient Greek lectionaries (not full Bibles, but rather books containing excerpted passages of Scripture). In fact, only two Greek manuscripts omit Mark 16:9-20—Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus (and, when closely examined, are seen to really be neither oldest nor best!).
In summary, 99.9% of the extant Greek witnesses support Mark 16:9-20. We accept these verses as authentic, truly inspired of God, and part of Mark’s original autograph! As always, we are careful to handle them dispensationally.
Special edition Bible Q&A #825: “Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in the Bible?” (120-page PDF)
Concerning our New Testament Survey Project, I recently finished teaching the Book of Mark. That final study was a defense of Mark 16:9-20. This 200-minute video can be watched below.