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Bible Commentaries
Mark 16

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

1. διαγ . τ . σαβ . ] It was strictly when the Sabbath was ended , i.e. at sunset, that they bought the spices. Luke 23:55 , places it on the evening before the Sabbath; a slight but valuable discrepancy, as shewing the independence of the accounts. To suppose two parties of women (Greswell) or to take ἠγόρασαν as pluperfect (Beza, Grotius, &c.) is equally arbitrary and unwarranted.

ἀλείψ . ] This had not been done as yet. Nicodemus ( Joh 19:40 ) had only wrapped the Body hurriedly in the spices with the linen clothes.

Verses 1-8

1 8. ] THE WOMEN, COMING TO THE SEPULCHRE, ARE APPRISED OF HIS RESURRECTION. Matthew 28:1-10 . 2 John 1:1-10; 2 John 1:1-102 John 1:1-10 . On the general difficulties of this portion of the Gospels, and my view respecting them, see notes on Matt.

Verse 2

2. ἀνατείλαντος τ . ἡλ . ] This does not agree with Matt., τῇ ἐπιφωσκ . εἰς μίαν σαβ .; Luke, ὄρθρου βαθέος : or John, σκοτίας ἔτι οὔσης : nor indeed with λίαν πρωΐ of our narrative itself. If the sun was up, it would be between 6 and 7 o’clock; which in the East especially, where even public business was transacted very early , could not be so called. The reading of [62] , ἀνατέλλοντος , would not help us much, as it was evidently some time before sunrise . Even Greswell virtually acknowledges a difficulty here.

[62] The CODEX CANTABRIGIENSIS, or BEZÆ, so called because it was presented by Beza in 1581 to the University Library at Cambridge; where it is now exposed to view in a glass case. He procured it in 1562, from the monastery of St. Irenæus at Lyons. It is on parchment, and contains the Gospels and Acts, with a Latin version. Its lacunæ, which are many, will be perceived by the inner marginal letters in this edition. It once contained the Catholic Epistles: 3Jn 1:11-14 in Latin is all that now remains. It was edited with very accurate imitative types, at the expense of the University of Cambridge, by Dr. Kipling, in 1793. A new edition carefully revised and more generally accessible was published by Mr. Scrivener in 1864, and has been collated for this Edition. In the introduction some ten or twelve correctors are distinguished, whose readings are found in the notes at the end of the volume. The text of the Codex Bezæ is a very peculiar one, deviating more from the received readings and from the principal manuscript authorities than any other. It appears to have been written in France, and by a Latin transcriber ignorant of Greek, from many curious mistakes which occur in the text, and version attached. It is closely and singularly allied to the ancient Latin versions, so much so that some critics have supposed it to have been altered from the Latin: and certainly many of the phænomena of the MS. seem to bear out the idea. Where D differs in unimportant points from the other Greek MSS., the difference appears to be traceable to the influence of Latin forms and constructions. It has been observed, that in such cases it frequently agrees with the Latin codex e (see the list further on). Its peculiarities are so great, that in many passages, while the sense remains for the most part unaltered, hardly three words together are the same as in the commonly received text. And that these variations often arise from capricious alteration, is evident from the way in which the Gospels, in parallel passages, have been more than commonly interpolated from one another in this MS. The concurrence with the ancient Latin versions seems to point to a very early state of the text; and it is impossible to set aside the value of D as an index to its history; but in critical weight it ranks the lowest of the leading MSS. Its age has been very variously given: the general opinion now is that it was written in the latter end of the fifth or the sixth century .

Verses 3-4

3, 4. ] It had been rolled away by an angel, Matt.

ἦν γὰρ μέγ . σφ . is stated as a reason why they could see that it was rolled away on looking up , possibly at some distance. This explanation is according to Mark’s manner of describing minute circumstantial incidents; but to refer this clause back as the reason why they questioned who should remove the stone, is not only harsh, but inconsistent with the usage of this Gospel.

Verse 5

5. ] In Matt., an angel , sitting on the stone which he had rolled away. Here he is described as he appeared , and we are left to infer what he was. In Luke, two angels ἐπέστησαν αὐταῖς in the tomb. The incident to which these accounts point, must be distinct from that related John 20:11 , which was after Mary Magdalene returned from the city . It is not worth while to detail the attempts which have been made to reconcile these various reports of the incident: they present curious examples of the ingenuity, and (probably unconscious) disingenuousness, of the Harmonists. I may mention that Greswell supposes the angels in Matt. and Mark to be distinct, and accounts for the ἐξεθαμβήθησαν in our text thus: ‘After seeing one angel without already, they were probably less prepared than before to see another so soon after within ’ (Dissert, vol. iii. p. 187).

Verse 6

6. ] From the δεῦτε of Matt. I should be inclined to think that his is the strictly accurate account. This word implies that the angel accompanied the women into the tomb; and if so, an imperfect narrative like that in the text might easily describe his whole appearance as taking place within.

Verse 7

7. ] ἀλλά breaks off the discourse and turns to a new matter But now rather do ye …

καὶ τῷ Π . ] It is hardly perhaps likely that the denial of Peter was the ground of this message, though it is difficult not to connect the two in the mind. The mention of him here is probably merely official as the ‘primus inter pares.’ We cannot say that others of the Apostles may not have denied their Master besides Peter.

It must not be concluded from this that we have a trace of Peter’s hand in the narrative.

Verse 8

8. ] The idea of our narrative here is, that the women fled in terror from the sepulchre, and did not deliver the message at the time , for they were afraid. All attempts to reconcile this with the other Gospels are futile. It is a manifest evidence that our narrative is here suddenly broken off, and (perhaps?) that no more information about the women was in the possession of its author. The subsequent verses are quite disconnected from this; and contain the substance of their writer’s information respecting the other appearances of the Lord.

[ 9 20. ] APPEARANCES OF JESUS AFTER HIS RESURRECTION: HIS ASCENSION. An addition to the narrative of a compendious and supplementary character, bearing traces of another hand from that which has shaped the diction and construction of the rest of the Gospel.

The reasons for and against this inference will be found in the var. readd. and the course of this note, and a general statement of them at the end of it.

Verse 9

9. ] πρώτῃ σαββάτου = μία σαββάτων Mark 16:2 , and is remarkable as occurring so soon after it (see Luk 18:12 ).

ἀφ ʼ ἧς ἐκβ .… ] This notice, coming so late, after the mention of Mary Magdalene in Mark 16:1 , is remarkable. The instances quoted by De Wette to shew that the unexpected introduction of notices contained in the other Gospels is in Mark’s manner, do not seem to me to apply here.

This verse agrees with John 20:1 ff. but is unconnected with the former narrative in this chapter.

Verse 10

10. ] ἐκεῖνος is no where found used absolutely by Mark, but always emphatically (see ch. Mark 4:11 ; Mark 7:15 ; Mark 7:20 ; Mar 14:21 ); whereas here and Mar 16:11 it is absolutely used (not in Mark 16:13 b and 20, where it is emphatical).

πορευθ . ] This word, never used by Mark, is three times contained in this passage (Mark 16:12 ; Mar 16:15 ).

τοῖς μετ ʼ αὐτοῦ γεν ., though found in the Acts ( Act 20:18 ), never occurs in the Gospels: nor does the word μαθηταί in this passage.

Verse 11

11. ] See John 20:18 ; Luke 24:11 .

ἐθεάθη ὑπ ʼ αὐτῆς is a construction only found here in N.T., and θεάομαι (which occurs again Mar 16:14 ) is not used by Mark.

ἀπιστέω is only used in Mar 16:16 and Luke 24:11 ; Luke 24:41 , throughout the Gospels.

Verse 12

12. ] μετὰ ταῦτα is not found in Mark , though many opportunities occurred for using it. This verse epitomizes the events on the journey to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35 .

περιπατοῦσιν ἐφανερώθη , though in general accord with Luke’s narrative, is not accurate in detail. It was not as they walked , but as they sat at meat that He was manifested to them.

ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ a slight difference from Luke 24:15-16 , which relates as the reason why they did not know Him, that their eyes were holden , his being in his usual form being declared by αὐτὸς ὁ Ἰησοῦς : but see notes there.

Verse 13

13. ] κἀκεῖνοι as Mary Magdalene had done before.

τοῖς λοιποῖς ] Supply τοῖς μετ ʼ αὐτοῦ γενομένοις .

οὐδὲ ἐκείνοις ἐπίστευσαν not consistent with Luke 24:33-34 . Here again the Harmonists have used every kind of distortion of the plain meaning of words to reconcile the two accounts; assuming that some believed and some doubted, that they first doubted and then believed; or, according to Bengel, first believed and then doubted.

Verse 14

14. ] The following narrative, evidently intended by its author to represent what took place at one and the same time , joins together in one at least four appearances of the Lord: (1) that related in this verse and Luke 24:36-49 ; (2) that on the mountain in Galilee ( Mat 28:16-20 ), when the words in Mar 16:15 were spoken; (3) some unrecorded appearance when the rest of these words ( Mar 16:16-18 ) were spoken, unless we consider the whole to have been said on the mountain in Galilee; and (4) the appearance which terminated with the Ascension.

The latter part of this Mar 16:14 appears to be an epitome of what our Lord said to them on several occasions see Luke 24:25 ; Luke 24:38 ; John 20:27 ; Matthew 28:17 .

Verse 15

15. ] τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα = πάντα τὰ ἔθνη , Matthew 28:19 ; see note there.

κηρύσσειν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον , without the addition of τῆς βασιλείας (Matt.) or τοῦ θεοῦ ( Luk 1:14 only, Luke), is in Mark’s manner (see ch. Mark 13:10 ; Mar 14:9 ). It only once occurs in Matt., viz. Matthew 26:13 .

πάσῃ τῇ κτ . ] Not to men only, although men only can hear the preaching of the Gospel; all creation is redeemed by Christ see Colossians 1:15 ; Colossians 1:23 ; Romans 8:19-23 . ‘Hominibus, primario, Mark 16:16 , reliquis creaturis, secundario. Sicut maledictio, ita benedictio patet. Creatio per Filium, fundamentum redemtionis et regni.’ Bengel in loc.

κτίσις appears never in the N.T. to be used of mankind alone . Bengel’s ‘reliquis creaturis secundario’ may be illustrated in the blessings which Christianity confers on the inferior creatures and the face of the earth by bringing civilization in its wake.

By these words the missionary office is bound upon the Church through all ages, till every part of the earth shall have been evangelized .

Verse 16

16. ] These past participles must be noticed, as carrying on the thought to a time beyond the work of the preacher: when σωθ . and κατακρ . shall take place; and reserving the division of mankind into these two classes, till that day.

On βαπτ . see note on Matthew 28:19 .

There is no καὶ μὴ βαπτ . in the second clause here. Unbelief by which is meant the rejection of the gospel in heart and life, not weakness or doubt as in Mar 16:14 shall condemn a man, whether baptized or unbaptized . And, conversely, it follows that our Lord does not set forth here the absolute , but only the general necessity of Baptism to salvation; as the Church of England also teaches. But that general necessity extends to all to whom Baptism is accessible; and it was well said ‘Non privatio Baptismi, sed contemtus, damnat.’

These words cannot be taken, as those in Matthew 28:19-20 , as setting forth the order in which faith and baptism must always come; belief and disbelief are in this verse the great leading subjects, and πιστεύσας must on that account stand first.

On ὁ πιστ . σωθ . compare Acts 16:31 . This is a solemn declaration of the doctrine of ‘salvation by faith,’ from the Lord Himself; but such a faith as is expanded, Matthew 28:20 , into διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν : which is its proper fruits .

κατακρ ., ‘will be condemned; ’ i.e. in the most solemn sense: for the sin of unbelief: for those are now spoken of who hear the gospel preached, and reject it.

Verse 17

17. ] This promise is generally made, without limitation to the first ages of the Church. Should occasion arise for its fulfilment , there can be no doubt that it will be made good in our own or any other time. But we must remember that σημεῖα are not needed where Christianity is professed: nor by missionaries who are backed by the influence of powerful Christian nations.

There are credible testimonies of miraculous powers having been exercised in the Church considerably after the Apostles’ time.

δαιμ . ἐκβ . ] The Lord Himself has declared how weighty a sign this was, Matthew 12:28 . For fulfilments of the promise, see Acts 5:16 ; Acts 8:7 ; Acts 16:18 .

γλώσ . λ . καιν . ] See 1 Corinthians 14:22 ; Act 2:4 alli [63] . On the gift of tongues, see notes at those places.

[63] alli= some cursive mss.

Verse 18

18. ὄφ . ἀρ . ] See Acts 28:3-5 .

κἂν θαν .… βλάψῃ ] We have no instance of this given in the Acts: but later, there are several stories which, if to be relied on, furnish examples of its fulfilment. Eusebius, H. E. iii. 39, says, … ἔτερον παράδοξον περὶ Ἰοῦστον τὸν ἐπικληθέντα Βαρσαβᾶν γεγονός , ὡς δηλητήριον φάρμακον ἐμπιόντος καὶ μηδὲν ἀηδὲς διὰ τὴν τοῦ κυρίου χάριν ὑπομείναντος .

ἐπὶ ἀῤῥ . ] χεῖρας ἐπιθ . ἐπί τινα is in Mark’s manner: see ch. Mark 8:25 ; Mark 10:16 . There is no mention of the anointing with oil here, as in James 5:14 .

Verses 19-20

19, 20. ] The μὲν οὖν is not to be taken here as if there were no δέ following: the μέν answers to the δέ as in Luk 3:18-19 and the οὖν is the connecting link with what went before.

μὲν οὖν , ὁ κύριος , and ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς , are alike foreign to the diction of Mark , in speaking of the Lord: we have ὁ κύριος in the message (common to all three Gospels) ch. Mar 11:3 but that manifestly is no example.

μετὰ τὸ λαλ . can only in fairness mean, ‘ when He had spoken these words .’ All endeavours of the Harmonists to include in them οὐ μόνον τοὺς λόγους τούτους , ἀλλὰ πάντας ὅσους ἐλάλησε (Euthym [64] ) will have no weight with an honest reader, who looks to the evident sense of his author alone , and disregards other considerations. That other words were spoken, we know; but that this author intended us to infer that , surely is not deducible from the text, and is too often allowed in such cases to creep fallaciously in as an inference. We never shall read or comment on Scripture with full profit, till all such subterfuges are abandoned, and the gospel evidence treated in the clear light of intelligent and honest faith. We have an example of this last in Theophylact’s exposition, ταῦτα δὲ λαλήσας .

[64] Euthymius Zigabenus, 1116

ἀνελ . ] I should hardly say that the author of this fragment necessarily implies an ascension from the place where they were then assembled. The whole of these two verses is of a compendious character, and as ἐκάθ . ἐκ δ . τ . θ . must be understood as setting forth a fact not comprehended in the cycle of their observation, but certain in the belief of all Christians, so ἀνελήμφ . may very well speak of the fact as happening, not necessarily then and there, but (see remarks above) after these words were spoken; provided always that these words are recognized as the last in the view and information of our Evangelist. I say this not with any harmonistic view, but because the words themselves seem to require it. (See on the Ascension, notes on Luke 24:51 ff.)

Verse 20

20. ] ἐξελθόντες not, from the chamber where they were assembled (Meyer) which would not answer to ἐκήρυξαν πανταχοῦ , but would require some immediate action of that very day to correspond to it (see Mat 12:14 ); but used in the more solemn sense of Romans 10:18 (cited from Psa 18:4 LXX), εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ἐξῆλθεν ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν : see reff.

πανταχοῦ ] No inference can be drawn from this word as to the date of the fragment. In Act 9:32 Peter is said διερχόμενον διὰ πάντων κατελθεῖν …: the expression being only a general one , indicating their performance, in their time and degree, of our Lord’s words, εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα .

τοῦ κυρ . ] the Lord, i.e. Jesus: see Matthew 28:20 ; Hebrews 2:3-4 , which last passage some have absurdly supposed to have been seen and used by our Evangelist.

ἐπακολ . and παρακολ . ( Mar 16:17 ) are both foreign to the diction of Mark often as he uses the simple verb.

A few concluding remarks may be added respecting Mark 16:9-20 . (1) For the external evidence, see var. readd. As to its genuineness as a work of the Evangelist Mark , (2) internal evidence is, I think, very weighty against Mark’s being the author . No less than twenty-one words and expressions occur in it (and some of them several times), which are never elsewhere used by Mark, whose adherence to his own peculiar phrases is remarkable. (3) The inference therefore seems to me to be, that it is an authentic fragment, placed as a completion of the Gospel in very early times: by whom written, must of course remain wholly uncertain; but coming to us with very weighty sanction, and having strong claims on our reception and reverence.]

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Mark 16". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/mark-16.html. 1863-1878.
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