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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Mark 16

 

 

Verse 1

Mark 16:1. Mary Magdalene, &c., had bought sweet spices — These Galilean women, who had waited on Jesus in his last moments, and attended his body to the sepulchre, observing that his funeral rites were performed in haste, (the body being rolled in nothing but a mixture of myrrh and aloes, brought by Nicodemus, John 19:39,) agreed among themselves to come, when the sabbath was passed, and embalm their dead Lord, by anointing and swathing him in a proper manner. Accordingly, as soon as they had seen him laid in the sepulchre, and the entrance into it blocked up by a great stone, they returned to the city, and bought what other spices were necessary for that purpose. And very early in the morning they came unto the sepulchre — See note on Matthew 28:1. At the rising of the sun — It appears, upon comparing the accounts given by the other evangelists, that they set out while it was yet dark, and came within sight of the sepulchre, for the first time, just as it grew light enough to discern that the stone was rolled away. But by the time Mary had called Peter and John, and they had viewed the sepulchre, the sun was rising.


Verses 3-6

Mark 16:3-6. And they said, Who shall roll us away the stone — This seems to have been the only difficulty they apprehended. So they knew nothing of Pilate’s having sealed the stone, and placed a guard of soldiers there. And when they looked αναβλεψασαι, and having lifted up their eyes; they saw — Namely, before they arrived quite at the sepulchre; that the stone was rolled away — An angel having descended and done this, as is recorded Matthew 28:2; where see the note. For it was very great — These words, the reader will observe, should be read after the third verse, with which they are connected: an instance of a similar transposition was noted on Mark 11:13. And entering into the sepulchre they saw a young man, &c. — Matthew says, this was the angel, who had rolled away the stone, and frightened the guards from the sepulchre. It seems he had now laid aside the terrors in which he was arrayed, and assumed the form and dress of a human being, in order that when the women saw him, they might be as little terrified as possible. See note on Matthew 28:5-6. This is the appearance of the one angel which Matthew and Mark have described. The women, much encouraged by the agreeable news, as well as by the sweet accent with which the heavenly being spake, it seems, went down into the sepulchre, and lo, another angel appeared; this is the vision of the two angels, which Luke, Luke 24:3-4, has described as the principal vision. Probably the one sat at the head, the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. In which situation they showed themselves by-and-by to Mary Magdalene, John 20:12.


Verse 7

Mark 16:7. Go your way, tell his disciples, &c. — The kindness of this message will appear above all praise, if we call to mind the late behaviour of the persons to whom it was sent. They had every one of them forsaken Jesus in his greatest extremity; but he graciously forgave them, and, to assure them of their pardon, called them by the endearing name of his brethren, John 20:17. And Peter — Though he so oft denied his Lord. What amazing goodness was this! “Peter is here named, not as prince of the apostles, as the Papists think him, but, as the fathers say, for his consolation, to take off the scruple which might lie upon his spirit, whether, after his three-fold denial of his Master, he had not forfeited his right to be one of his disciples.” — Whitby. See notes on Matthew 28:7-10.


Verses 9-11

Mark 16:9-11. When Jesus was risen early, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene — “There is something very remarkable in this passage of the history. None of the apostles, or male disciples, were honoured with the first visions of the angels, or with the immediate news of Christ’s resurrection, far less with the first appearances of Jesus himself. The angels in the sepulchre kept themselves invisible all the time Peter and John were there. Perhaps the male disciples in general had this mark of disrespect put on them, both because they had with inexcusable and shameful cowardice forsaken their Master when he fell into the hands of his enemies, and because their faith was so weak, that they had absolutely despaired of his being the Messiah when they saw him expire on the cross, Luke 24:21. How different was the conduct of the women! Laying aside the weakness and timidity natural to their sex, they showed an uncommon magnanimity in the whole of this melancholy transaction. Hence, in preference to the male disciples, they were honoured with the news of Christ’s resurrection, and had their eyes gladdened with the first sight of their beloved Lord after he arose, so that they preached the joyful tidings of his resurrection to the apostles themselves.” And she went — With the other women; and told them that had been with him — That is, the disciples that had constantly attended him; as they mourned and wept — For the loss of their dear Master. And they believed not — Such were the prevailing prejudices that had taken possession of their minds, and so entirely were their spirits dejected and their hopes blasted by his death, that, though they could not think this was related with a design to impose upon them, yet they were ready to impute it to the power of imagination, and supposed that the women who gave them the information were deceived.


Verse 12-13

Mark 16:12-13. He appeared in another form unto two of them, &c. — Of which, see notes on Luke 24:13-33. And they went and told it unto the residue — Namely, the same evening. Neither believed they them — That is, some of them did not believe, though others of them did, who, though they had given little credit to the reports of the women, supposing they were occasioned more by imagination than reality; yet, as appears from Luke 24:34, when Simon declared that he had seen the Lord, they began to think that he was risen indeed. Their belief, therefore, was not a little confirmed by the arrival of the two disciples, who declared that the Lord had appeared to them also.


Verse 14

Mark 16:14. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat — Namely, on the evening of the day on which he rose. Concerning this appearance of Christ, see notes on Luke 24:36-43, where it is related at large. And upbraided them with their unbelief &c. — “That after so many assurances from his own mouth that he would rise again the third day; and after the testimony of so many eye-witnesses, that he had performed his promise, they believed not. And if this be attributed to them as culpable unbelief, and hardness of heart, surely those persons must much more be guilty of these sins, who, after the testimony of these apostles, and five hundred more eye-witnesses of his resurrection; after the ocular testimony of a multitude of Christians in different parts of the world, touching the mighty miracles performed in his name by the apostles, the chosen witnesses of his resurrection, and by many others, who believed it and were baptized into this faith, for a whole age together, do yet continue to disbelieve that resurrection, and the faith confirmed by it.” — Whitby.


Verse 15-16

Mark 16:15-16. Go ye into all the world — To all countries under heaven; and preach the gospel to every creature — That is, to all mankind, to every human being, whether Jew or Gentile, for our Lord speaks without any limitation or restriction whatever. On this Bengelius remarks, “If all men, of all places and ages, have not heard the gospel, the successors of the first preachers, or those whose duty it was to hear it, have not answered God’s design herein, but have made void his counsel.” He that believeth — The gospel which you preach, with his heart unto righteousness; he that receives your testimony with a faith productive of love to God and man, and of obedience to the divine will; and who, in token of that faith, is baptized, and continues till death to maintain a temper and conduct suitable to that engagement, shall be saved — That is, he shall, by virtue of that faith and baptism, be put into a state of salvation: he shall be saved from the guilt and power of his sins into the favour and image of God; his person shall be justified, and his nature sanctified; and he shall be entitled to, and made meet for, eternal salvation; of which also he shall be made a partaker, if he continue in the faith he has received, and do not wilfully recede from his baptismal covenant. He that believeth not — With such a faith as is above described, whether baptized or unbaptized; shall be damned κατακριθησεται, shall be condemned, namely, at the day of final judgment, and in consequence thereof shall perish eternally.


Verses 17-20

Mark 16:17-20. And these signs shall follow them that believe — Bengelius subjoins, “That believe with that very faith mentioned in the preceding verse.” (Though it is certain a man may work miracles and not have saving faith, Matthew 7:22-23.) “It was not one faith by which Paul was saved; another, by which he wrought miracles. Even at this day, in every believer, faith has a latent miraculous power: (every effect of prayer being really miraculous:) although in many, because of their littleness of faith, and because the world is unworthy, that power is not exerted. Miracles in the beginning were helps to faith; now also they are the objects of it. At Leonberg, a town in Wirtemberg, in the memory of our fathers, a cripple, that could hardly move with crutches, while the dean was preaching on this very text, was in a moment made whole.” See note on Mark 11:22; where many similar instances are referred to; the number of which might easily be increased on the most certain evidence. Shall follow them that believe — The gospel word, and faith therein, must precede, and then the signs shall follow. In my name they shall cast out devils, &c. — That is, by my authority committed to them, and by my power attending them. Raising the dead is not mentioned here; so our Lord performed even more than he promised. If they drink any deadly thing — But not by their own choice: God never calls us to try any such experiment; it shall not hurt them. They shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover — Immediately, without the use of any further means. Such was the purport of our Lord’s discourses with his disciples till his ascension, as is more largely related by Luke and John. And after he had spoken unto them — In this and a similar manner, time after time, for forty days; he was received up into heaven — While they were steadfastly beholding him; and sat on the right hand of God — That is, was invested with the highest dignity and authority, there to reign in all the glory of his mediatorial kingdom: And they went forth and preached everywhere — Through all parts of the Roman empire, and even to divers barbarous nations, and that with amazing success; the Lord working with them, according to his promise, and confirming the word with signs following — Which were at once the most solid, as well as the most obvious and popular demonstration of those divine truths which they delivered. Amen — So may the presence of the Lord be always with his faithful ministers! and may his gospel be attended everywhere with success, as well as with convincing evidences of its divine authority!

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Mark 16:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/mark-16.html. 1857.

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