Mark 16


Early in the morning after the Sabbath, the three Marys come to

the sepulchre, bringing sweet spices to embalm the body, 1-4.

They see an angel who announces the resurrection of our Lord,


Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, who goes and tells the

disciples, 9-11.

He appears also to the two disciples who were going into the

country, who also tell it to the rest, 12, 13.

Afterwards he appears unto the eleven, and commissions them to

preach the Gospel to all mankind, 14-16.

And promises to endue them with power to work miracles, 17, 18.

He is received up into heaven, 19.

And they go forth to preach and work miracles, 20.


Verse 1. And anoint him.] Rather, to embalm him. This is a

proof that they had not properly understood what Christ had so

frequently spoken, viz. that he would rise again the third day.

And this inattention or unbelief of theirs is a proof of the truth

of the resurrection.

Verse 2. Very early in the morning,] This was the time they

left their own houses, and by the rising of the sun they got to

the tomb. As the preceding day was the Sabbath, they could not,

consistently with the observances of that day, approach the tomb.

See the concluding notes at the end of John. "Joh 21:25"

The following observations from Lightfoot will serve to

illustrate this subject.

"The distinction of the twilight among the rabbins was this:-

"I. The hinde of the morning-the first appearance.

R. Chaiia Rab, and R. Simeon ben Chalaphta, travelling together on

a certain morning in the valley of Arbel, saw the hinde of the

morning, that its light spread the sky. R. Chaiia said, Such

shall be the redemption of Israel. First, it goes forward by

degrees, and by little and little; but by how much the more it

shall go forward, by so much the more it shall increase. It was

at that time that Christ arose, namely, in the first morning, as

may be gathered from the words of St. Matthew. And to this the

title of the 22d Psalm seems to have respect-. See

also Re 22:16,

I am the bright and morning star. And now you may imagine the

women went out of their houses towards the sepulchre.

"II. When one may distinguish between

purple colour and white. From what time do they recite their

phylacterical prayers in the morning? From that time that one may

distinguish between purple colour and white. R. Eliezer saith,

Between purple colour and green. Before this time was obscurum

adhue caeptae lucis, the obscurity of the begun light, as

Tacitus's expression is.

"III. When the east begins to lighten.

"IV. Sunrise; from the hinde of the morning going

forth, until the east begins to lighten; and from the time the

east begins to lighten, until sunrise, &c.

"According to these four parts of time, one might not

improperly suit the four phrases of the evangelists. According to

the first, Matthew's, τηεπιφωσκουση, As it began to dawn.

According to the second, John's, πρωισκοτιαςετιουσης, Early in

the morning when it was yet dark. To the third, Luke's, ορθρου

βαθεως, Very early in the morning. To the fourth, Mark's, λιαν

πρωι, Very early in the morning. And yet, ανατειλαντοςτουηλιου

At the rising of the sun. For the women came twice to the

sepulchre, as St. John teaches, by whom the other evangelists are

to be explained; which being well considered, the reconciling them

together is very easy."

Verse 4. For it was very great] This clause should be read

immediately after the third verse, according to D, three copies

of the Itala, Syriac, Hier., and Eusebius. "Who shall roll us

away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? for it was very

great. And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled

away." They knew that the stone was too heavy for them to roll

away; and, unless they got access to the body, they could not

apply the aromatics which they had brought to finish the embalming.

Verse 6. Jesus of Nazareth] The Jews had given this name to

Christ by way of reproach, Mt 2:23; but as it was under this name

that he was crucified, Joh 19:19, the angel here, and the

apostles after, have given him the same name, Ac 4:10, &c.

Names which the world, in derision, fixes all the followers of

God, often become the general appellatives of religious bodies:

thus Quakers, Puritans, Pietists, and Methodists, have in their

respective times been the nicknames, given in derision by the

world, to those who separated themselves from its corruptions.

Our Lord, by continuing to bear the name of the Nazarene, teaches

us not to be too nice or scrupulous in fixing our own appellation.

No matter what the name may be, as long as it implies no

particular evil, and serves sufficiently to mark us out. Let us

be contented to bear it, and thus carry about with us the reproach

of Christ; always taking care to keep our garments unspotted from

the world.

Verse 7. Tell his disciples and Peter] Why is not Peter

included among the disciples? For this plain reason,-he had

forfeited his discipleship, and all right to the honour and

privileges of an apostle, by denying his Lord and Master.

However, he is now a penitent:-tell him that Jesus is risen from

the dead, and is ready to heal his backsliding, and love him

freely; so that, after being converted, he may strengthen his


Verse 9. Now when Jesus was risen, &c.] This, to the

conclusion of the Gospel, is wanting in the famous Codex

Vaticanus, and has anciently been wanting in many others. See

Wetstein and Griesbach. In the margin of the later Syriac

version, there is a remarkable addition after this verse; it is as

follows:-And they declared briefly all that was commanded, to them

that were with Peter. Afterward Jesus himself published by them,

from east to west, the holy and incorruptible preaching of eternal

salvation. Amen.

Mary Magdalene] It seems likely that, after this woman had

carried the news of Christ's resurrection to the disciples, she

returned alone to the tomb; and that it was then that Christ

appeared to her, Joh 20:1-12; and a little after he appeared to

all the women together, Mt 28:9; Lu 24:16.

Verse 10. Them that had been with him] Not only the eleven

disciples, but several others who had been the occasional

companions of Christ and the apostles.

Mourned and wept.] Because they had lost their Lord and

Master, and had basely abandoned him in his extremity.

Verse 12. He appeared-unto two of them] These were the two

who were going to Emmaus. The whole account is given by Luke,

Lu 24:13-34, where see the notes.

Dr. Lightfoot's criticism upon this passage is worthy of


"That, in the verses immediately going before, the discourse is

of the two disciples going to Emmaus, is without all controversy.

And then how do these things consist with that relation in Luke,

who saith, That they two, returning to Jerusalem, found the eleven

gathered together, and they that were with them; who said, The

Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon? Lu 24:34. The

word λεγοντας, saying, evidently makes those to be the words των

ενδεκα, of the eleven, and of those that were gathered together

with them; which, when you read the versions, you would scarcely

suspect. For when that word is rendered by the SYRIAC, [Syriac]

cad amrin; by the ARABIC, [Arabic] wehom yekolon; by the VULGATE,

dicentes; by the ITALIAN, dicendo; by the FRENCH, disans; by the

ENGLISH, saying; who, I pray, would take it in another sense, than

that those two that returned from Emmaus said, The Lord is risen

indeed, &c.? But in the original Greek, when it is the accusative

case, it is plainly to be referred to the eleven disciples, and

those that were together with them; as if they had discoursed

among themselves of the appearance made to Peter, either before,

or now in the very access of those two coming from Emmaus. And

yet, says this our evangelist, that when those two had related the

whole business, they gave no credit to them; so that, according to

Luke, they believed Christ was risen, and had appeared to Simon,

before they told their story; but, according to Mark, they

believed it not, no, not when they had told it. The reconciling

therefore of the evangelists is to be fetched thence, that those

words pronounced by the eleven, οτιηγερθηοκυριοςοντως, &c.,

The Lord is risen indeed, &c., do not manifest their absolute

confession of the resurrection of Christ, but a conjectural

reasoning of the sudden and unexpected return of Peter. I believe

that Peter was going with Cleophas into Galilee, and that being

moved with the words of Christ, told him by the women, Say to his

disciples and Peter, I go before you into Galilee-think with

yourself how doubtful Peter was, and how he fluctuated within

himself after his threefold denial, and how he gasped to see the

Lord again, if he were risen, and to cast himself an humble

suppliant at his feet. When therefore he heard these things from

the women, (and he had heard it indeed from Christ himself, while

he was yet alive, that when he arose he would go before them into

Galilee,) and when the rest were very little moved with the report

of his resurrection, nor as yet stirred from that place, he will

try a journey into Galilee, and Alpheus with him; which, when it

was well known to the rest, and they saw him return so soon and so

unexpectedly-Certainly, say they, the Lord is risen, and hath

appeared to Peter, otherwise he had not so soon come back again.

And yet, when he and Cleophas open the whole matter, they do not

yet believe even them."

Verse 14. And upbraided them with their unbelief] Never were

there a people so difficult to be persuaded of the truth of

spiritual things as the disciples. It may be justly asserted,

that people of so skeptical a turn of mind would never credit any

thing till they had the fullest evidence of its truth. The

unbelief of the disciples is a strong proof of the truth of the

Gospel of God. See the addition at the end. Clarke "Mr 16:20"

Verse 15. Go ye into all the world] See Clarke on Mt 28:19.

And preach the Gospel to every creature.] Proclaim the glad

tidings-of Christ crucified; and raised from the dead-to all the

creation, πασητηκτισει-to the Gentile worid; for in this sense

berioth, is often understood among the rabbins; because

HE, through the grace of God, hath tasted death for EVERY man,

Heb 2:9. And on the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews, it was

sent to the whole Gentile world.

Verse 16. He that believeth] He that credits this Gospel as a

revelation from God: and is baptized-takes upon him the profession

of it, obliging himself to walk according to its precepts: he

shall be saved-redeemed from sin here, and brought at last to the

enjoyment of my eternal glory. But he that believeth not, shall

be damned-because he rejects the only provision that could be

effectual to his soul's salvation.

Verse 17. These signs shall follow] Or rather, accompany;

this is the proper import of the original word παρακολουθησει,

from παρα with, and ακολουθεω, I follow.

Them that believe] The believers, as we express it; i.e. the

apostles, and all those who in those primitive times were endued

with miraculous powers, for the confirmation of the doctrines they


In my name] That is, by the authority and influence of the

almighty Jesus.

Cast out devils] Whose kingdom Jesus Christ was manifested to


Speak with new tongues] This was most literally fulfilled on

the day of pentecost, Ac 2:4-19.

Verse 18. Take up serpents] Several MSS. add ενταιςχερσιν,

in their hands-shall be enabled to give, when such a proof may be

serviceable to the cause of truth, this evidence of their being

continually under the power and protection of God, and that all

nature is subject to him. This also was literally fulfilled in

the case of Paul, Ac 28:5.

If they drink any deadly thing] θανασιμον (φαρμακον) being

understood-if they should through mistake, or accident, drink any

poisonous matter, their constant preserver will take care that it

shall not injure them. See a similar promise, Isa 43:2.

They shall lay hands on the sick] And I will convey a healing

power by their hands, so that the sick shall recover, and men

shall see that these are sent and acknowledged by the Most High.

Several instances of this kind are found in the Acts of the


That the apostles of our Lord should not lose their lives by

poison is most fully asserted in this verse, and there is neither

record nor tradition to disprove this. But it is worthy of

remark, that Mohammed, who styled himself THE APOSTLE OF GOD, lost

his life by poison; and had he been a true apostle of God, he

could not have fallen by it. Al Kodai, Abul Feda, and Al Janabi,

give the following account.

When Mohammed, in the seventh year of the Hejra, A. D. 628, had

taken the city of Kheebar, from the Arab Jews, he took up his

lodgings at the house of Hareth, the father of Marhab the Jewish

general, who had been slain at the taking of the city by Alee, the

son-in-law of Mohammed. Zeenab the daughter of Hareth, who was

appointed to dress the prophet's dinner, to avenge the fall of her

people, and the death of her brother, put poison in a roasted lamb

which was provided for the occasion. Bashar, one of his

companions, falling on too hastily, fell dead on the spot.

Mohammed had only chewed one mouthful, but had not swallowed it:

though, on perceiving that it was poisoned, he immediately spat it

out, yet he had swallowed a sufficiency of the juice to lay the

foundation of his death; though this did not take place till about

three years after: but that it was the cause of his death then,

his dying words related by Al Janabi, and others, sufficiently

testify. When the mother of Bashar came to see him in his dying

agonies, he thus addressed her: "O mother of Bashar, I now feel

the veins of my heart bursting through the poison of that morsel

which I ate with thy son at Kheebar."

Abul Feda, Ebnol Athir, and Ebn Phares say, that the prophet

acknowledged on his death-bed, that the poison which he had taken

at Kheebar had tormented him from that time until then,

notwithstanding blisters were applied to his shoulders, and every

thing done in the beginning to prevent its effects. Al Kodai and

Al Janabi relate, that when Zeenab was questioned why she did

this, she answered to this effect: "I said in my heart, If he be a

king, we shall hereby be freed from his tyranny; and if he be a

prophet, he will easily perceive it, and consequently receive no

injury." To support his credit, he pretended that the lamb spoke

to him, and said that it was infected with poison! See Elmakin,

p. 8. It was therefore policy in him not to put Zeenab to death.

It has pleased God that this fact should be acknowledged by the

dying breath of this scourge of the earth; and that several of

even the most partial Mohammedan historians should relate it!

And, thus attested, it stands for the complete and everlasting

refutation of his pretensions to the prophetic spirit and mission.

Vide Specimen Hist. Arabum, a POCOCKIO, p. 189, 190. Le Coran

traduit par SAVARY, vol. i; p. 135, and 212. See also, The Life

of Mohammed by PRIDEAUX, 93, 101.

Verse 19. After the Lord had spoken] These things, and

conversed with them for forty days, he was taken up into heaven,

there to appear in the presence of God for us.

Verse 20. The Lord working with them] This co-operation was

twofold, internal and external. Internal, illuminating their

minds, convincing them of the truth, and establishing them in it.

External, conveying their word to the souls that heard it, by the

demonstration of the Holy Ghost; convincing them of sin,

righteousness, and judgment; justifying them by his blood, and

sanctifying them by his Spirit. Though miraculous powers are not

now requisite, because the truth of the Gospel has been

sufficiently confirmed, yet this co-operation of God is

indispensably necessary, without which no man can be a successful

preacher; and without which no soul can be saved.

With signs following.] επακολουθουντωνσημειων, the

accompanying signs: viz. those mentioned in the 17th and 18th

verses, Mr 16:17, 18, and those others just now spoken of,

which still continue to be produced by the energy of God,

accompanying the faithful preaching of his unadulterated word.

Amen.] This is added here by many MSS. and versions; but is

supposed not to have made a part of the text originally.

Griesbach, Bengel, and others, leave it out.

St. Jerome mentions certain Greek copies, which have the

following remarkable addition to Mr 16:14, after these words-

and reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart,

because they did not believe those who had seen him after he was

raised up: Et illi satisfaciebant dicentes: seculum istud

iniquitatis et incredulitatis substantia est, quae non sinit per

immundos spiritus verem Dei apprehendi virtutem. Idcirco, jam

nunc revela justitiam tuam. "And they confessed the charge,

saying: This age is the substance of iniquity and unbelief, which,

through the influence of impure spirits, does not permit the true

influence of God to be apprehended. Therefore, even now, reveal

thy righteousness."

There are various subscriptions to this book in the MSS. and

versions; the principal are the following: "The holy Gospel

according to Mark is ended written by him-in EGYPT-in ROME-in the

Latin tongue-directed by Peter the 10th-12th year after the

ascension of Christ-preached in Alexandria, and all its coasts."

Dr. Lardner supposes this Gospel to have been composed A. D. 64 or

65, and published before the end of the last mentioned year. See

the Preface. Mr 1:1

The Gospel according to Mark, if not an abridgment of the

Gospel according to Matthew, contains a neat, perspicuous

abridgment of the history of our Lord; and, taken in this point of

view, is very satisfactory; and is the most proper of all the four

Gospels to be put into the hands of young persons, in order to

bring them to an acquaintance with the great facts of evangelical

history. But as a substitute for the Gospel by Matthew, it should

never be used. It is very likely that it was written originally

for the use of the Gentiles, and probably for those of Rome. Of

this, there seem to be several evidences in the work itself. Of

the other Gospels it is not only a grand corroborating evidence,

but contains many valuable hints for completing the history of our

Lord, which have been omitted by the others; and thus, in the

mouths of FOUR witnesses, all these glorious and interesting facts

are established.

One thing may be observed, that this Gospel has suffered more

by the carelessness and inaccuracy of transcribers than any of the

others: and hence the various readings in the MSS. are much more

numerous, in proportion, than in the other evangelists. Every

thing of this description, which I judged to be of real

importance, I have carefully noted.

Though the matter of St. Mark's work came from the inspiration

of the Holy Spirit, yet the language seems to be entirely his own:

it is very plain, simple, and unadorned; and sometimes appears to

approach to a degree of rusticity or inelegance. Whoever reads

the original must be struck with the very frequent, and often

pleonastic, occurrence of ευθεως, immediately, and παλιν,

again, and such like; but these detract nothing from the accuracy

and fidelity of the work. The Hebraisms which abound in it may be

naturally expected from a native of Palestine, writing in Greek.

The Latinisms which frequently occur are accounted for on the

ground of this Gospel being written for the Gentiles, and

particularly for the Roman people: this, it must be confessed, is

only theory, but it is a theory which stands supported by many

arguments, and highly presumptive facts. However this may be, the

Gospel according to Mark is a very important portion of Divine

revelation, which God has preserved by a chain of providences,

from the time of its promulgation until now; and for which no

truly pious reader will hesitate to render due praise to that God

whose work is ever perfect. Amen.

Copyright information for Clarke