On Easter Sunday, we finished our study on the Book of Mark, going over Mark 16:1-8. But, if you look at this passage in your Bible, you’ll notice that verse 8 isn’t the end of the book.
What about verses 9 – 20? After prayerful consideration, I’ve decided not to preach those verses.
Bible scholars are just not sure if Mark 16:9-20 is part of God’s inspired Word. Though it is included in many ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, it is not present in the oldest, highest quality and most reliable ones. The early church fathers did not refer to it and many experts say its vocabulary, style and theology are uncharacteristic if Mark.
I do not pretend to be an expert textual critic. But there is enough doubt about these verses for me to abstain from proclaiming them as God’s Word.
In case this shakes your faith in the reliability of the New Testament, remember that it is the best preserved document in history. There are almost 5,800 Greek manuscripts to study in determining its original wording, in contrast to the roughly 1,800 manuscripts of Homer’s Iliad, the next most preserved text. Comparing these 5,800 manuscripts, there are only a few differences. Very few of these affect the meaning of the texts in question and none of them affect the essential truths of our faith.
Though I won’t be preaching on it, I encourage you to think through these matters yourself. Here are some helpful links to get you started: