Scripture: Mark 16:9 – 20
My NIV Bible says these verses may not exist in early manuscripts and Mark 16 probably ended with verse 8. So why are these verses here?
This isn’t a typical SOAP devotion, but I was just so taken with the possibility that verses 9 – 20 maybe shouldn’t even be there. I’ve read these verses before along with the disclaimer found in my NIV Bible “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9 -20″. But I’ve never really thought much about it.
Now it’s important to note that I’m a firm believer in Sola Scriptura or Scripture Alone. According to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, this means, “The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.” It seems that the possibility that the Mark 16 verses may not belong goes against Sola Scriptura, so I decided to do a bit of research.
We no longer have actual original texts of the Bible, however there are copied manuscripts from which we derive our current translations. Let’s first talk about those. Imagine you are making a copy of one of the books of the Bible. You would be doing it by hand, of course. After all, there were no printing presses, computers and spell-check back in those days. You would also be a believer and know that it was God’s true word! It was an honor to copy God’s Word so there is no doubt that you would take great care in making the copy. You would check and re-check each letter and word and probably have someone else check as well. The point here is that the chance of error made by man is very, very low! Of course, it’s still possible, but that’s where God steps in — it is His book after all
Now, back to Mark 16. In the case of the Book of Mark, some of the oldest Greek manuscripts end at Mark 16:8. Many Bible scholars also look at the style, vocabulary and content and believe there is some discontinuity with the rest of Mark. It’s probable that the extra verses were added as Mark was read alongside the other gospels. Now this is all very scholarly and interesting, but what does that mean about the reliability of the Book of Mark and the Bible as a whole?
Let’s look at the events in Mark 16:9-20. We read about Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and the Eleven. We read about the Great Commission given by Jesus to go out into the world and tell the good news. Finally, it ends with Jesus ascension into heaven. All of these events are mirrored in at least one of the other gospels.
This lends itself to the explanation of how these verses could have ended up in the book of Mark. But, more importantly, we see that there are no contradictions or errors when we allow the Bible to be considered as a whole. And that is the real point. While there may be some minor errors from translation to translation, there are no places where key teachings are contradicted! Sola Scriptura!!
The Bible tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16) and “Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). We can be sure that the Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word because He is God!
God, Your way is perfect and Your Word is flawless! (Psalm 18:30) Forgive me when I put the word of men before Your perfect Word. Thank You so much for giving me the Bible and for opening my heart to understand it. Thank You for the peace, comfort, guidance, joy, love and life-saving message I receive from Your Word. Please keep me in Your Word daily! Help me finish the 5x5x5 reading plan especially when my commitment starts to wane and I’m tempted to do other things. Holy Spirit, please bring fresh meaning to the words and remind me of what You have already revealed to me.