The Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20

Bible, Mark 16:9-20 No Comments

Jesus said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).  Every word of the Bible is significant.  Every word of the Scriptures is inspired of God (II Tim. 3:16).  Every word that Jesus spoke is important for spiritual and eternal life (John 6:63).  Every word of Jesus is eternal (Mat. 24:35).  Every word of the Lord will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).
Recently, a preacher of the Gospel was rebuked by one of his members for quoting Mark 16:16 is a sermon.  The person stated that Mark 16:16 is not an authentic passage of Scripture and should not be used in preaching.  This raises an important question, “Is Mark 16:9-20 an authentic passage of Scripture or is it spurious?”
In 1881, Brooke F. Westcott and Anthony J. Hort developed and introduced a new Greek Text of the New Testament.  In that text, they omitted Mark 16:9-20 as well as many other passages and thousands of smaller changes.  This created a significant problem in the field of textual criticism that produced a ongoing debate  (see Perspectives on the Ending of Mark-4 Views).
The first person to introduce a critical Greek text was Johann Griesbach (1745-1812).  Griesbach was the first to insist that the concluding verses of Mark 16:9-20 were spurious (D. Burgon, Unholy Hands on the Bible, vol 1, C-4).  His students Hug and Scholz (1808, 1830, respectively) did not concur with Griesbach.  Karl Lachmann (1793-1851) a German philologist and critic, originated the new principle of textual criticism of paying exclusive and absolute deference to the testimony of a few arbitrarily selected ancient documents with no regard being paid to the others of the same or of yet higher antiquity.  This resulted in weighting a few manuscripts over many manuscripts.
Tishchendorf, Tregelles, and Alford reconstructed the Greek text and all agreed that Mark’s Gospel ends at 16:8.  These men were predecessors to Wescott and Hort.  Tishchendorf is the one who discovered codex Sinaiticus.  He retrieved it from a waste basket at the Convent of St. Catherine’s at the foot of Mt. Sinai (May, 1844)  Why was it relegated to the trash?  It was obviously a corrupt manuscript and considered useless.  This manuscript has a space after 16:8 which indicates that the scribe was aware that something else followed.  The last twelve verses of Mark’s Gospel are also omitted from the Vaticanus manuscript.  The Vaticanus also terminates at Hebrews 9:14, thus omitting the remaining portion of that treatise and the books of James, I and 2 Peter,  3 John, Jude, and Revelation.  Are we to conclude that these books never were part of the original text?
These two manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, are referred to by many translators as the “oldest and best manuscripts.”  This is the primary weight of the external evidence against the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20 in the New Testament.  There is one other Greek manuscript, Codex 304, 12th century Byzantine manuscript, that also ends at Mark 16:8.  In contrast to this evidence, 95% or more of the extant Greek manuscripts have the passage, Mark 16:9-20.  It is found in all major text types: Western, Caesarean, Byzantine, and Alexandrian.  It is found among many of the early church fathers including Justin Martyr (First Apology 1:45, A.D. 151–within 50 years of the Apostle John) and Irenaeus (Bishop of the Church of Lyons and student of Polycarp who was a student of the apostle John).  Also, Hippolytus (Bishop of Portus near Rome (A.D. 190-227 and contemporary of Irenaeus) quotes the 17th and 18th verses of the ending of Mark’s Gospel in his fragment Peri Charismaton.  These writers are cited because they actually predate both the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts.
The external evidence (manuscripts and early church fathers) for the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 is overwhelming!  There is no good reason to exclude these passages from the New Testament Gospel of Mark.  If this is true, then, we must question the reliability of many modern translations that cast some sort of dispersion on these verses either omitting them or setting them off by themselves.
Every word of the Lord is important and essential for our salvation.  Every word of Jesus Christ will judge us in the last day.  Mark 16:9-20 contains an important declaration by Jesus concerning salvation.  “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;  But he that believeth not shall be damned” (KJV).  Faith and baptism are essential for salvation while unbelief will condemn one before God.  Could some desire to omit Mark 16:9-20 due to doctrinal bias?  Those who hold to “faith only” do not like this passage.  Many today do not believe that baptism into Christ is essential for salvation.
There is no doubt that Mark 16:9-20 is an authentic passage and belongs in the New Testament.  T. W. Brents in his book The Gospel Plan of Salvation said that you cannot blow a passage of Scripture out of the Bible by a breath.  Just because someone says it,  doesn’t make it so.  Let the evidence speak for itself!