New Defender's Study Bible Notes
16:9 Now when Jesus. There is an obvious change in Mark’s narrative between Mark 16:8 and 16:9, and many modern scholars believe that Mark 16:9-20 constitute a later addition by some writer other than Mark. Two of the most ancient Greek manuscripts terminate Mark’s gospel with Mark 16:8, even though this would leave it with a very abrupt and unlikely ending. The verses in question do appear in the large majority of the ancient manuscripts, even though they are not as old as “Sinaiticus” and “Vaticanus.” Also, the verses are quoted by at least two of the important church fathers whose writings predate even these two manuscripts. Furthermore, the events described in this passage give every evidence of being true and significant, and there is no internal evidence that it is not a part of the inspired text. Even if it was added later, either by Mark himself or someone else, there is no good reason not to accept it as genuine Scripture.
16:9 first to Mary Magdalene. It is a testimony to God’s grace that Mary Magdalene, once a demon-possessed sinner, was given the privilege of being first to see and speak with the resurrected Christ (see John 20:11-17).
16:14 hardness of heart. The Greek word for “hardness of heart” is sklerokardia, from which is derived our English word “cardiosclerosis.” There are some forty references in the Bible to what may be called spiritual cardiosclerosis, the first in connection with Pharaoh’s hardness of heart (Exodus 4:21). We are warned: “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7), in the final such reference.
16:15 preach the gospel. Christ’s “great commission” appears in one form or another in every gospel and Acts but this is the most succinct, yet comprehensive, statement of it. Christ died for all and He desires that all know it. This is His command to every believer.
16:16 shall be saved. Every true believer should gladly give testimony to his new life in Christ by following Him in baptism. Those who refuse or ignore this command should examine the reality of their professed faith. Baptism is clearly a part of the great commission (Matthew 28:19) and normally is to follow immediately upon true repentance and faith in Christ (e.g., Acts 2:38,41). Nevertheless, it is faith in Christ that saves, not faith plus baptism. As this verse says, “he that believeth not”—not he that is not baptized—is unsaved. This is the clear testimony of many Scriptures (e.g., John 3:18,36), as well as Christ’s promise to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43).
16:17 these signs. In the apostolic period, before the New Testament was written and available, the apostles and other early evangelists “went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4), “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:4). This was necessary for a time, since they had neither Christ with them in person any longer nor any written record of His life and teachings. Eventually, as the church became established and the New Testament Scriptures were written and circulated, these miraculous attestations became unnecessary. This passage did not specify a time limit, but neither did it promise that such miracles would continue throughout all subsequent time. The very existence of the church and the inspired writings of the apostles in the New Testament would be sufficient. Jesus had rebuked those who would not believe without signs and wonders (John 4:48; Luke 11:29), and Paul later said that prophecies and tongues and supernatural knowledge would eventually cease (I Corinthians 13:8).
16:18 take up serpents. Both the virtue and danger of miraculous signs are illustrated in Acts 28:3-6. Paul was miraculously healed of a bite from a deadly viper, and this made a great impression on the barbarians in Melita. They not only were made willing to listen to his message, but they also “said that he was a god” (Acts 28:6).