Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
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Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
Mark Chapter 16

Mark 16:1-8 "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid."

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 28:1-8.

 

Mark 16:1 "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him."

Sweet spices - "Aromatics." Substances used in embalming. The idea of sweetness is not, however, implied in the original. Many of the substances used for embalming were "bitter" - as, for example, myrrh - and none of them, perhaps, could properly be called "sweet." The word "spices" expresses all that there is in the original.

Anoint him - Embalm him, or apply these spices to his body to keep it from putrefaction. This is proof that they did not suppose he would rise again; and the fact that they did not "expect" he would rise, gives more strength to the evidence for his resurrection.

 

Mark 16:4 "And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great."

It was very great - These words belong to the third verse: "Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" for, the evangelist adds, it was very great.

 

Mark 16:5 "And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted."

Sitting on the right side - As they entered. The sepulchre was large enough to admit persons to go into it; not unlike, in that respect, our vaults.

 

Mark 16:7 "But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you."

Tell his disciples and Peter - It is remarkable that Peter is singled out for special notice. It was proof of the kindness and mercy of the Lord Jesus. Peter, just before the death of Jesus, had denied him. He had brought dishonor on his profession of attachment to him. It would have been right if the Lord Jesus had from that moment cast him off and noticed him no more. But he loved him still. Having loved him once, he loved unto the end, (John 13:1). As a proof that he forgave him and still loved him, he sent him this "special" message - the assurance that though he had denied him, and had done much to aggravate his sufferings, yet he had risen, and was still his Lord and Redeemer. We are not to infer, because the angel said, "Tell his disciples and Peter," that Peter was not still a disciple. The meaning is, "Tell his disciples, and especially Peter," sending to him a particular message. Peter was still a disciple. Before his fall, Jesus had prayed for him that his faith should not fail (Luke 22:32); and as the prayer of Jesus was "always" heard (John 11:42), so it follows that Peter still retained faith sufficient to be a disciple, though he was suffered to fall into sin.

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 28:1-8.

Tell his disciples and Peter - It is remarkable that Peter is singled out for special notice. It was proof of the kindness and mercy of the Lord Jesus. Peter, just before the death of Jesus, had denied him. He had brought dishonor on his profession of attachment to him. It would have been right if the Lord Jesus had from that moment cast him off and noticed him no more. But he loved him still. Having loved him once, he loved unto the end, (John 13:1). As a proof that he forgave him and still loved him, he sent him this "special" message - the assurance that though he had denied him, and had done much to aggravate his sufferings, yet he had risen, and was still his Lord and Redeemer. We are not to infer, because the angel said, "Tell his disciples and Peter," that Peter was not still a disciple. The meaning is, "Tell his disciples, and especially Peter," sending to him a particular message. Peter was still a disciple. Before his fall, Jesus had prayed for him that his faith should not fail (Luke 22:32); and as the prayer of Jesus was "always" heard (John 11:42), so it follows that Peter still retained faith sufficient to be a disciple, though he was suffered to fall into sin.

 

Mark 16:11 "And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not."

Believed not - This is proof that they did not expect his resurrection; proof that they were not easily deceived, and that nothing but the clearest evidence could undeceive them.

 

Mark 16:12 "After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country."

He appeared in another form - In a form unlike his ordinary appearance so much so that they did not at first know him. See the notes at Luke 24:13-31. "As they walked and went into the country." To Emmaus, (Luke 24:13).

 

Mark 16:13 "And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them."

The residue - The remainder. Those who remained at Jerusalem.

 

Mark 16:14 "Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen."

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven - Judas was dead, and the apostles were then called "the eleven." This was done even when one of them was absent, as Thomas was on this occasion. See the "Harmony of the Accounts of the Resurrection, Appearances, and Ascension of Christ," at the close of the notes on Matthew.

As they sat at meat - The word meat here means food, or meals. As they were reclining at their meals.

And upbraided them ... - Rebuked them, or reproached them. This was done because, after all the evidence they had had of his resurrection, still they did not believe. This is a most important circumstance in the history of our Lord's resurrection. Never were people more difficult to be convinced of anything than they were of that fact. And this shows conclusively that they had not conspired to impose on the world; that they had given up all for lost when he died; that they did not expect his resurrection; and all this is the strongest proof that he truly rose. They were not convinced until it was impossible for them longer to deny it. Had they expected it, they would have caught easily at the slightest evidence, and would have turned every circumstance in favor of such an event. It may be added that it was impossible that eleven men of good natural understanding should have been deceived in so plain a case. They had been with Jesus three years; they perfectly knew his features, voice, manner; and it is not credible that they should have been deceived by anyone who might have pretended to have been the Lord Jesus.

 

Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."

Into all the world - To the Gentiles as well as the Jews. It was contrary to the opinions of the Jews that the Gentiles should be admitted to the privileges of the Messiah's kingdom, or that the partition wall between them should be broken down. See Acts 22:21-22. It was long before the disciples could be trained to the belief that the gospel was to be preached to all men; and it was only by special revelation, even after this command, that Peter preached to the Gentile centurion, Acts 10; Jesus has graciously ordered that the preaching of the gospel shall be stopped by no barriers. Wherever there is man, there it is to be proclaimed. To every sinner he offers life, and all the world is included in the message of mercy, and every child of Adam is offered eternal salvation.

Preach - Proclaim; make known; offer. To do this to every creature is to offer pardon and eternal life to him on the terms of the plan of mercy - through repentance, and faith in the Lord Jesus.

The gospel - The good news. The tidings of salvation. The assurance that the Messiah has come, and that sin may be forgiven and the soul saved.

To every creature - That is, to every human being. Man has no right to limit this offer to any class of men. God commands his servants to offer the salvation to "all men." If they reject, it is at their peril. God is not to blame if they do not choose to be saved. His mercy is manifest; his grace is boundless in offering life to a creature so guilty as man.

 

Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

He that believeth - That is, believeth the gospel. "He who credits it to be true, and acts as if it were true." This is the whole of faith. Man is a sinner. He should act on the belief of this truth and repent. There is a God. Man should believe it, and fear and love him, and seek his favor. The Lord Jesus died to save him. To have faith in him is to believe that this is true, and to act accordingly; that is, to trust him, to rely on him, to love him, to feel that we have no merit, and to cast our all upon him. There is a heaven and a hell. To believe this is to credit the account and act as if it were true - to seek the one and avoid the other. We are to die. To believe this is to act as if this were so; to be in readiness for it, and to expect it daily and hourly. In one word, faith is feeling and acting as if there were a God, a Saviour, a heaven, a hell; as if we were sinners and must die; as if we deserved eternal death and were in danger of it; and, in view of all, casting our eternal interests on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. To do this is to be a Christian: not to do it is to be an infidel.

Is baptized - Is initiated into the church by the application of water, as significant that he is a sinner, and needs the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit. It is worthy of remark that Jesus has made "baptism" of so much importance. He did not say, indeed, that a man could not be saved without baptism, but he has strongly implied that where this is neglected "knowing it to be a command of the Saviour," it endangers the salvation of the soul. Faith and baptism are the beginnings of a Christian life: the one the beginning of piety in the soul, the other of its manifestation before men or of a profession, of religion. Every man endangers his eternal interest by being ashamed of Christ before men. See Mark 8:38.

Shall be saved - Saved from sin (Matthew 1:21) and from eternal death (John 5:24; John 3:36), and raised to eternal life in heaven, (John 5:28; John 17:2, John 17:24).

Shall be damned - That is, condemned by God and cast off from his presence, (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). It implies that they will be adjudged to be guilty by God in the day of judgment (Romans 2:12, Romans 2:16; Matthew 25:41); that they will deserve to die forever (Romans 2:6, Romans 2:8), and that they will be cast out into a place of woe to all eternity, (Matthew 25:46). It may be asked how it can be just in God to condemn men forever for not believing the gospel? I answer:

1.   God has a right to appoint his own terms of mercy.

2.   Man has no claim on him for heaven.

3.   The sinner rejects the terms of salvation, knowingly, deliberately, and perseveringly.

4.   He has a special disregard and contempt for the gospel.

5.   His unbelief is produced by the love of sin.

6.   He shows by this that he has no love for God, and his law, and for eternity.

7.   He slights the objects dearest to God and most like him; and,

8.   He must be miserable.

A creature who has no confidence in God; who does not believe that he is true or worthy of his regard, and who never seeks his favor, must be wretched. He rejects God, and he must go into eternity without a Father and without a God. He has no source of comfort in himself, and must die for ever. There is no being in eternity but God that can make man happy, and without his favor the sinner must be wretched.

 

Mark 16:17 "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"

And these signs - These miracles. These evidences that they are sent from God.

Them that believe - The apostles, and those in the primitive age who were endowed with like power. This promise was fulfilled if it can be shown that these signs followed in the case of any who believed, and it is not necessary to suppose that they would follow in the case of all. The meaning is, that they would be the result of faith, or of the belief of the gospel. It is true that they were. These signs were shown in the case of the apostles and early Christians. The infidel cannot say that the promise has not been fulfilled unless he can show that this never occurred; the Christian should be satisfied that the promise was fulfilled if these miracles were ever actually wrought, though they do not occur now; and the believer now should not expect a miracle in his case. Miracles were necessary for the establishment of religion in the world; they are not necessary for its continuance now.

In my name - By my authority, and using the power that I would in such cases, if bodily present. This was done; and in this they differed essentially from the manner in which Jesus himself wrought miracles. He did it in "his own name," and as possessing original, underived authority. See the account of his stilling the sea (Matthew 8:26, etc.); of his healing the sick (Matthew 9:5-6); of his raising Lazarus, John 11. The prophets spoke "in the name of the Lord." The apostles did likewise, (Acts 3:6,) etc. There was, therefore, an important difference between Jesus and all the other messengers that God has sent into the world. He acted in his own name; they in the name of another. He wielded his own power; they were the instruments by which God put forth the omnipotence of his arm to save. He was therefore God; they were men of like passions as other men, Acts 14:15.

Shall they cast out devils - See the notes at Matthew 4:24. Compare Acts 16:16-18.

Shall speak with new tongues - Shall speak other languages than their native language. This was remarkably fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, (Acts 2:4-11). It existed, also, in other places. See 1 Corinthians 12:10.

 

Mark 16:18 "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

They shall take up serpents - When it is necessary for the sake of establishing religion, they shall handle poisonous reptiles without injury, thus showing that God was with them to keep them from harm. This was literally fulfilled when Paul shook the viper from his hand. See Acts 28:5-6.

Any deadly thing - Any poison usually causing death.

Shall not hurt them - There is a similar promise in Isaiah 43:2.

They shall lay hands on the sick ... - See instances of this in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 3:6-7; Acts 5:15), etc.

 

Mark 16:19 "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God."

He was received up into heaven - In a cloud from the Mount of Olives. See Acts 1:9.

The right hand of God - We are not to suppose that God has hands, or that Jesus sits in any particular direction from God. This phrase is taken from the manner of speaking among men, and means that he was exalted to honor and power in the heavens. It was esteemed the place of the highest honor to be seated at the right hand of a prince. So, to be seated at the right hand of God, means that Jesus is exalted to the highest honor of the universe. Compare Ephesians 1:20-22.

 

Mark 16:20 "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."

They went forth - The apostles.

Everywhere - In all parts of the world. See the account in the Acts and the Epistles.

The Lord worked with them - By miracles; by removing obstacles; by supporting them; and by giving the gospel success and making it effectual to saving men.

Confirming the word - Showing it to be the word of God or a revelation from heaven.By signs following - By attending miracles. By raising the dead, healing the sick, etc., as signs that God was with them, and had sent them forth to preach.

Amen - Truly, verily. So be it. This word here, however, is of no authority. There is no reason to think that it was added by Mark.

Mark is more concise than either of the other evangelists. In most instances he coincides with Matthew, though he has added some circumstances which Matthew had omitted. There is no evidence, however, that he copied from Matthew. The last chapter in Mark contains some things omitted in Matthew. and some things of fearful import. We learn from it that the gospel is to be preached to all mankind. Every person is to be offered eternal life, and he rejects it at his peril. The condition of the person who will not believe is fearfully awful. The Son of God has solemnly declared that he shall be damned. He will judge the world, and there is none that can deliver out of his hand. No excuse will be allowed for not believing. Unless a man has faith he must be lost for ever. This is the solemn assurance of the Bible; and in view of this awful declaration of the merciful Redeemer, how sad is the condition of him who has no confidence in Jesus, and who has never looked to him for eternal life! And how important that without delay he should make his peace with God, and possess that faith which is connected with everlasting salvation!


Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
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