Part 2 - Conclusion of the Last Twelve Verses of Mark
This is a continuation of the examination of Dr. Ryrie's notes concerning Mark 16:9-20. In our first article we covered Verses 9 to 16. We will now proceed to examine his notes concerning Verses 17-20, which state:
“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;” (17).
“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.” (18).
“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” (19).
“And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” Mark 16:17-20.
Here are Dr. Ryrie’s words in his notes concerning these verses.
“These verses do not appear in two (Sinaiticus or “Aleph” and Vaticanus or “B”) of the most trustworthy manuscripts of the New Testament, though they are part of many other manuscripts and versions. If they are not a part of the genuine text of Mark, the abrupt ending at Verse 8 is probably because the original closing verses were lost. The doubtful genuineness of Verses 8-20 makes it unwise to build a doctrine or base an experience on them (especially vv. 16-18).”
The two manuscripts Dr. Ryrie is referring to are not the most trustworthy, as they disagree with each other in over 3,000 places in the Gospels alone. These are two of the most unreliable we have. Notice what 2 Timothy 3:16 has to say concerning God’s Word.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
I can find no doctrinal errors in Mark 16:17-20. These, compared with other Scriptures concerning the same subject agree perfectly. The following is an exposition covering the subjects spoken of in Mark 16;17-20. Other verses, such as 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, give additional information telling us when these miracle signs will cease, which we will cover in our next article
Dr. Ryrie states that you should not use these Scriptures for any Bible doctrine as they do not really belong in the Word of God. Now, follow with me as we examine the Scriptures to see if Dr. Ryrie is giving his readers good advice or corrupt advice!
I. The Commission
This portion of Scripture is claimed by the tongues advocates to support their practice of speaking in so-called tongues. Let us examine the verses.
In Verse 14 of Mark, Chapter 16, we find Christ, after His resurrection, addressing the eleven remaining disciples in a reproachful manner for their hesitancy in believing that He had actually risen from the dead.
“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.” Mark 16:14.
He then gave them this commission:
"...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (15b).
Now, of those that believe the gospel (17), certain "SIGNS" shall follow. Notice carefully, if you will, Christ said "SIGNS", plural; not just one SIGN, singular, of speaking in tongues.
"And these signs shall follow them that believe..." (17a)
In Verses 17 and 18, five signs are given:
- "In my name they shall cast out devils (demons."
- "They shall speak with new tongues."
- "They shall take up serpents.”,
- "If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them."
- "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
The question naturally arises,” Why do those who speak in so-called tongues not exercise the other four signs?" With thousands of sick people in all our hospitals, perhaps millions, it would be inhumane and unchristian not to visit these hospitals and lay hands on the sick with Christ's promise that they "shall" recover. Remember, if the sign of speaking in tongues is for today; then, so are the other four!
II. The Concern
One must remember that the sign miracles are associated primarily with the nation of Israel. The miracles recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were to confirm the message that Jesus was their Messiah. If Israel, as a nation, would have received Jesus Christ as their Messiah, Christ would have established His Kingdom at that time.
"...the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks (Gentiles) seek after wisdom." I Corinthians 1:22.
The Jews required miracle signs, so Christ gave them signs in abundance. In Matthew 10:5-8 he sent the apostles to Israel with the power to perform miracles as signs to Israel.
"...Go not into the way of the Gentiles ... But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils (demons): freely ye have received, freely give."
In Luke 10:1-20, Christ sent seventy disciples out, two by two, with the power to perform miracles.
"And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." Luke 10:9.
"Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Luke 10:19.
John summarized the miracle signs in John 20:30,31 by saying,
"And many other signs (miracles) truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."
Again, we emphasize, these signs were to authenticate the message that, Jesus Christ was the Messiah.
The five signs given in Mark 16:17,18 were to confirm the Word they were commissioned to preach until the New Testament was completed. They agree perfectly with all other Scriptures.
"And they (the eleven disciples) went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and CONFIRMING THE WORD WITH SIGNS FOLLOWING." (Mark 16:20).
Remember, the New Testament had not yet been written. One could not open to Ephesians, Revelation, or James, and etc., as God's completed revelation to man was not yet in writing. The Book of Acts, the transition book which chronicles the infancy of the Church Age, provides some of the record of these signs prior to the Book of Revelation. Actually, the last miracles recorded in the New Testament took place about 58 A.D. (Acts 28:1-9). There were many who were not healed from about 60 A.D. on to the present. Here are some examples:
1. Epaphroditus. Philippians 2:25-30. This faithful servant of the Lord was a companion of Paul (V.25). His illness may have been caused by working so hard for the Lord that he did not take time to eat properly or get enough rest. (V.30) Whatever the cause, he almost died. The point is ... Paul, who had performed many miracles prior to this, was unable to heal his friend. The miracle sign of healing was no longer possessed by the Apostle Paul. God did see fit to heal Epaphroditus (V.27), for Paul credits God with the healing and glory.
2. Timothy. I Timothy 1:2 with 5:23 Paul, in his writing to young Timothy, whom he had won to Christ, said, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." (I Tim. 5:23) This took place about 62 A.D. There was probably no other person whom Paul loved more than Timothy, yet he was unable to heal him as he had healed others before. Even at this time, about 34 years before the writing of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, the miracle signs had ended.
3. Trophimus. 2 Timothy 4:20.
"Erasmus abode at Corinth: but TROPHIMUS have I left at Miletum sick.”
At about 66 A.D., Paul could not heal Trophimus; but, just a few years earlier, Paul had done the following:
- (Acts 13:1). Made a man blind.
- (Acts 14:8-10). Made a cripple who had never walked, WALK.
- (Acts 16:18). Cast out a demon.
- (Acts 28:8). Healed another man.
- (Acts 19:11,12). Performed special miracles.
"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul; So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the disease departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."
But, now, in 66 A.D., he could not heal Trophimus and had to leave him at Miletum sick. The miracle signs had ceased!
4. Paul. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) Whatever illness Paul had, it affected his body for it was a "thorn in the flesh" (Body). Paul could not heal himself as he had done previously when bitten by the venomous viper. (Acts 28:1-9) He asked the Lord three times to cure him; but, in this case, it was not God Is will to do so. As 2 Corinthians was written about 58-60 A.D., we can see the power of Paul to heal himself was not present. The miracle signs had already ceased!
III. The Conclusion.
In Mark 16:17 we read, "And these signs shall follow them that believe..." The signs listed in Mark 16:17,18 DID follow them that believed; but, only for a short period of time. These signs are recorded in the Book of Acts, the last occurring about 58 A.D. as given in Acts in 28:1-9. Now, some conclusions:
1. The last miracle signs are recorded about 58 A.D. Acts 28:1-9. They had ceased about 38 years before the New Testament was completed.
2. Paul, who had exercised these miracle signs, could no longer do them. He could not heal Epaphroditus, Timothy, Trophimus, nor himself from about 62 A.D. on.
3. Since tongues advocates claim Mark 16:17,18 as their license for speaking in tongues, they would also have the power to perform the other four miracles. As stated in Verse 7, "These signs (plural) shall follow them that believe." All the signs, not just the speaking in tongues!
4. Most tongues advocates insist that all the signs given in Mark 16 are for today. A minority claim just tongues are still applicable today. To this minority, we simply refer the Scripture found in I Corinthians 13:8-10 where "knowledge, prophecy, and tongues" shall be done away with, or "cease", when God's written Word is complete. This was accomplished with the Book of Revelation in about 96 A.D.
5. Ananias. In Acts 9:10-18, he exercised one of the signs by healing Paul’s blindness. Why do not those speaking in so-called tongues lay their hands on the blind and allow them to see? Recently, as of this writing, I visited a very young girl in the Cleveland Clinic. She was blind, could hardly hear and had just come out of open heart surgery. They could not stabilize her breathing and could do nothing more, medically, than wait and see. Of all the tongues advocates who claim the signs in Mark 16, where is just ONE who would lay their hands on a person such as this so she could be restored to health. Does one care to step forward?
6. Stephen. (Acts 6:1-15).
"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great WONDERS (plural) and MIRACLES (plural) among the people." (V.8)
Stephen, exercising the signs of Mark 16, did wonders and miracles among the people. A far cry from someone today claiming tongues for a spiritual "high", but failing to empty our hospitals by laying on of the hands and the sick recovering.
7. Philip, the Evangelist.
"And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the MIRACLES (plural) which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed." Acts 8:6,7.
Philip was exercising the signs of Mark 16, not just a sign of speaking in tongues. Why do not those who claim the signs of Mark 16 are for today, do what Philip did? We also must note that "the people gave HEED TO THOSE THINGS WHICH PHILIP SPAKE, hearing and seeing the miracles.” The miracles were given to validate the message until the New Testament was completed. Since we have God’s completed Word today in great abundance, there is no need for the miracles.
8. Barnabas and Paul. Acts 14:3; 15:12.
"Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what MIRACLES (plural) and WONDERS (plural) God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. Acts 15:12.
These miracles were: healing the sick, casting out demons, the power to escape death when bitten by a venomous viper. These were fulfilled in Mark 16:17,18 completely, and were not to be compared with the shallow emotionalism of the so-called speaking in tongues of today.
B. Before concluding, I want you to also notice 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.”
This verse attests to the doctrine of Christ’s ascension and is in perfect agreement with Dr. Luke in Acts 1:9-11. Also, notice the words, “...sat on the right hand of God.” Check and see if this is not in perfect agreement with Hebrews 1:3.
The footnotes of Dr. Ryrie, pertaining to Mark 16:9-20, are grossly in error, misleading his readers. There verses contain many doctrinal teachings which are in perfect harmony with all other Scriptures concerning these doctrines.
For a more in depth Bible study concerning the manuscripts, I would strongly suggest two books to start with:
- Defending the King James Bible by Dr. D.A. Waite.
- Last Twelve Verses of Mark by Dean John Wm. Burgon
They can be purchased from: The Bible for Today, 900 Park Ave., Collingwood, NJ 08108.