Charismatic Ramifications on the “Long Ending” of Mark’s Gospel

Most modern Bible translations include a note expressing serious doubt about the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.  Individuals who do accept these final verses as part of Mark’s Gospel, however, are committed to an extreme view of the signs listed in verses 17 and 18, to include the explicit ability to drink poison with no ill effects.  If the Greek text in this “long ending” is taken seriously, understood, and translated in proper context, then all five signs are for all those who believe – excepting those actively preaching the Gospel message – at the point of initial conversion and continuing on thereafter.  That is, upon hearing and believing in the Gospel message, newly regenerate believers, without exception, will exhibit all the signs listed in Mark 16:17-18, as accompaniment to the Gospel.  Moreover, these five should be evident among all believers, past, present and yet future, upon initial acceptance of the Gospel and thereafter – at the least, whenever the Gospel is being actively preached.

The Long and the Short of It

For quite some time, it has been the scholarly consensus that the “long ending” of the Gospel of Mark, i.e., the last 12 verses (16:9-20), is not original to the Gospel, even though there are many manuscripts that include this text.1  While there are those who assert that the long ending is indeed original, they are well within the minority among NT scholars and textual critics.  The vocabulary and style of the Greek in the long ending is substantially different than the remainder of Mark’s Gospel.2  In addition, the associated manuscript evidence points rather decisively to the inauthenticity of these verses.3

There is even a so-called “short ending” in one extant Old Latin manuscript.  This short ending consists of a small amount of text following verse 8, about the equivalent of one long Biblical verse or two shorter ones.  While this is found as the ending to Mark’s Gospel in only one manuscript, there is yet another variation in which the long ending is appended to the short ending.4  All three – the predominant long ending, the lone short ending, and the combination of short ending followed by long ending – are almost universally rejected, and identified as spurious.

Some are of the opinion that the Gospel of Mark simply concludes at verse 8.  However, in view of the fact that verse 8 ends rather abruptly with frightened women at the tomb, and, secondarily, that the very last word is a conjunction (the word γάρ, transliterated gar, meaning for, since, or because), others believe the original ending has been lost, or that the Gospel writer just did not finish the work for some unknown reason.5  These may well be factors that influenced the writer of the long ending (assumed to be one lone author by the internal consistency of the text).

Excluding the long ending from Scripture necessarily negates any need to discuss cessationism (the belief that the ‘sign gifts’ have ceased with the Apostolic era and the closing of the Biblical canon) or continuationism (the belief that all the spiritual gifts continue to this day) by appealing to these verses.  Dr. Rodney J. Decker, Th.D., has recently written a paper on this subject, titled Mark and Miracle (Mark 16:17-18), with an emphasis on what the longer ending means in its own context and how it relates to the rest of the New Testament, and posted it on his blog.  This particular work of Decker (see hyperlink at title above, pdf here) will be relied on for portions of the remainder of this article; general references and specific quotes from it will be followed by applicable page number in brackets, e.g.: {p 3}.

Interpreting the Text of the Long Ending

Decker notes that, in academic settings, those who argue for continuationism by and large do not do so by appealing to the Markan long ending.  On the other hand, it is used quite frequently as a basis for argumentation “in non-academic discussions and among poorly trained advocates.  That is perhaps not surprising since even in cessationist circles the authenticity of the Long Ending is commonly assumed since it is in the KJV without note or comment” {p 2, n 11}.  I’ll add that it seems many readers of modern Bible versions pay little mind to the notes, further contributing to ignorance about the legitimacy of the long ending.6  Philip Comfort provides a blanket caution against the lay or academic use of these verses:

…Christians need to be warned against using this text for Christian doctrine because it is not on the same par as verifiable New Testament Scripture.  Nothing in it should be used to establish Christian doctrine or practice.  Unfortunately, certain churches have used Mark 16:16 to affirm dogmatically that one must believe and be baptized to be saved, and other churches have used Mark 16:18 to promote the practice of snake-handling…The writer of the longer ending also emphasized what we would call charismatic experiences – speaking in tongues, performing healings, protection from snakes and poison.  Although the book of Acts affirms these experiences for certain believers, they are not necessarily the norm for all.7

Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, is just one example (and there are many others within the so-called New Apostolic Reformation, aka NAR) of a hyper-charismatic (my term for those who go well beyond more conservative Pentecostal/charismatic theology and practice) who frequently cites Mark 16:15 and Mark 16:20 as base texts for the Great Commission, while selectively using only portions of verses 17-18 (healing the sick, casting out demons, and speaking in new tongues, yet omitting snake handling and drinking poison) for his continuationist stance.8  As but one example, here’s a selection in which Johnson specifically cites Mark 16:20 in the footnote reference to this passage:

…While healing is seldom the subject we teach on, it is one of the most common results.  As we proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God, people get well.  The Father seems to say Amen! to His own message by confirming the word with power….9

In reading Johnson’s quote, observe that the claim is that “people get well” as a result of the proclamation of “the message of the Kingdom of God”.  This passive “people get well” stands in stark contrast to the long ending’s explicitly active “they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover”.  In other words, according to verse 18, those who believe will actively lay on hands, resulting in the sick recovering; the sick don’t just “get well”.  We could give Johnson the benefit of the doubt and just assume he was imprecise with his wording, but what of the other signs that should accompany the message according to the context of the long ending of Mark?:

15 And He said to them [the Eleven], “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow [accompany] those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them [the Eleven], He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs [by those who believe]. Amen. [Mark 16:15-20, NKJV (emphasis and explanatory notes in brackets added)]

The text is book-ended with the preaching of the Gospel (vv 15, 20) by the Eleven (vv 14, 15, 19), but note that signs (σημεῖα, sēmeia) will follow/accompany those who believe (vv 16, 17), to exclude those preaching (the Eleven) {pp 3-5}.  The context specifies that it is regenerate believers – those receiving the preaching of the Gospel (by the Eleven; v 15) and reaching a saving faith (v 16) – who will cast out demons, speak with new languages, pick up snakes, etc.  Following are the five signs that will be exhibited by these believers:

  • Performing exorcisms
  • Speaking in new languages
  • Picking up snakes (presumably without harm)
  • Drinking poison without harm
  • Healing the sick by the laying on of hands

Note that, by the context, the snakes are not specifically identified as venomous (or not), and it’s not specified if those picking up the snakes will remain unharmed; it merely states “they will take up serpents” (some manuscripts add “with their hands”).  Some may appeal to the next point – “if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them” – but these two are not connected grammatically {p 3}.  Also, since all five, as Decker observes, “are listed in parallel with no indication otherwise, it would be precarious to suggest that one (or more) is to be taken metaphorically if the others are not” {pp 3-4, 4 n 15}.  By the context, the statement attributed to Jesus (vv 15-18), as well as the narration in verse 20 (“…the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”) is clearly meant in a literal sense; therefore, all five should be taken literally.

The text explicitly states that all five signs above will accompany the collective of those who believe {p 8}, as a sign of the Gospel, “whenever they believe” {p 4}.  Moreover, according to Decker, as indicated by the Greek grammar, each believer should perform all five {pp 4, 4 n 19-20}.  Further, this implies that each time the Eleven preached the Gospel there would always be demon-possessed individuals, snakes, poisonous drink, and persons afflicted with ailments in their midst.

Yet, by the context, this is not limited to the Apostolic era, the time period when the Eleven were still living {p 5}.  Since the function of these signs is in conjunction with the preaching of the Gospel – and, of course, the Great Commission is an ongoing command to all Christians (cf. Matthew 28:18-20) – these signs must continue as well {pp 4-5}.  Therefore, those who accept the long ending as part of the canonical Gospel of Mark are committed to the belief that all five signs above are applicable to every single believer, at the point of their conversion and forward.  The only limitation is imposed on those believers who are actively preaching the Gospel.  In other words, by the context provided by the author of the long ending, those who believe will perform the five signs above, which necessarily include all the regenerate – past, present, and yet future – except when they themselves are in the act of preaching the Gospel message {pp 4-5}.

It could be construed that one of the implicit points made by the author of the long ending regarding “confirming the word through the accompanying signs” is that others in the audience who may have been unpersuaded by the Gospel message itself may become convinced by the attendant display of signs.  In fact, there are three pieces of extra-Biblical, apocryphal literature depicting the Apostle John drinking poison for the express purpose of converting others.  These are: Virtutes Iohannis (Miracles of John, circa 5th or 6th century AD), Passio Iohannis (Passion of John, ca. late 6th c.) {p 10},10 and Acts of John in Rome (ca. 4th to 6th c.11), with the latter finding its writer portraying John as explicitly quoting the words of Mark 16:18b (“and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them”) {p. 10}.   With this in mind, would Bill Johnson, or any of the other self-appointed “Apostles” of the New Apostolic Reformation (or any follower of the NAR) who affirm Mark 16:9-20, like to drink from the poisoned cup, toward this same goal?

It seems one could understand this passage a bit more narrowly, interpreting “confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (v 20) as a limitation on those who believe.  That is, these signs will only accompany those who believe during the proclamation of the Gospel, thereby limiting the ‘shelf-life’ of these signs.  In other words, these five signs would be manifested each time the Gospel message is preached until Jesus Christ returns, but only for the duration of the preaching at each particular place and time.12

But note that even this more narrow view would only limit the time at which these signs are made manifest and not their actual expression.  With this limitation in mind, we’ll pose the question above a bit differently: With another actively preaching “the message of the Kingdom of God”, would Bill Johnson, or any of the other self-appointed “Apostles” of the New Apostolic Reformation (or any disciple of the NAR) who affirm Mark 16:9-20, like to drink from the poisoned chalice in order to win others to Christ?

Given his interpretation of Jesus’ promise in John 14:12, Johnson may even desire to identify such acts of ‘poison-bibbing’ {p 10} as manifest evidence of “greater works”, since it is not recorded in Scripture that Jesus Himself drank poison without harm:

Jesus’ prophecy of us doing greater works than He did has stirred the Church to look for some abstract meaning to this very simple statement…And, the works He referred to are signs and wonders.  It will not be a disservice to Him to have a generation obey Him, and go beyond His own high-water mark.  He showed us what one person could do who has the Spirit without measure.  What could millions do?  That was His point, and it became His prophecy.

This verse is often explained away by saying it refers to quantity of works, not quality…But that waters down the intent of His statement.  The word greater is mizon [sic] in the Greek…It is always used to describe “quality,” not quantity.13

But, I’m unpersuaded that even such a charismatic display of imbibing venomous drink without harm would be greater than Jesus’ dying on the Cross for the sins of the world and subsequently raising Himself from the dead (John 2:19-22, 10:17-18).

Nonetheless, as per the context provided by the author of the long ending, poison-bibbing is a requirement of all believers – at least those who accept Mark 16:9-20 as part of sacred Scripture.

Conclusion

Those who consider the long ending of Mark must understand that it’s an all or nothing proposition.  If one is inclined to accept it as authentic, then, in all intellectual honesty, one is forced to conform to a radical form of continuationism – one that must accept that all five signs enumerated in verses 17 and 18, without exception, will be exhibited by those who believe.  To explicitly or implicitly reject any of these five will not do.  On the other hand, to agree with the scholarly consensus that the long ending is not original to the Gospel of Mark means that no portion of it can be referenced for doctrine or practice.

 

Some facts and thoughts about the author of the above referenced article (see especially last paragraph):

Dr. Rodney J. Decker is on faculty at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.  He is the author of Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect (New York: Peter Lang, 2001) and Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), as well as other publications, with more material under contract, including his contribution to the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament series (The Gospel of Mark).

I enjoy reading and being challenged by his works, most of which are a bit beyond my current level, some quite so.  However, it’s obvious he cares about his students’ learning, as he has even taken the time to place additional data, list errata, and translate the German and French text from the Peter Lang book mentioned above (this particular book series requires that all non-English language remain untranslated), onto his own website.  Here’s a portion of his remarks:

…Since, however, I have some hopes that students may find the work helpful, and even that some may be curious as to the content of those [untranslated] quotations (an idealistic notion, I suspect, but one which I hope to nurture for a bit longer!), I have thought it appropriate to provide a translation of many of those quotations here.

In addition, Decker has taken one of Dr. Stanley Porter’s difficult works and made it more comprehendible, providing a tremendous service to those wishing to become more conversant with Porter’s position on verbal aspect.  This is available as an online pdf (the title itself references Porter’s work): “The Poor Man’s Porter”: A condensation and summarization of Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood by Stanley E. Porter (New York: Peter Lang, 1993).

While he’s very serious about his work, he occasionally injects a bit of lightheartedness in his material and on his blog (and presumably in the classroom).  Decker is currently battling stage 4 cancer.  He has recently begun chemotherapy.  He and his wife could use our prayers.

 

Endnotes:

     1 This merely illustrates that subsequent copyists faithfully reproduced (more or less) this long ending once it was introduced into the Gospel of Mark, though many manuscripts have markings suggesting its inauthenticity.
     2 Here I’m referring to what is known as the internal evidence of NT textual criticism: assessing authorial and scribal peculiarities such as style (vocabulary, grammar) and doctrine.
     3 This sentence refers primarily to what is termed external evidence in NT textual criticism: assessing all known variants of a given section of Scripture by focusing on such factors as age, similar readings among manuscripts, and geographic distribution, and then comparing with each other to determine which verbiage is likely original.
     4 The following English translation of the “short ending” is taken from Roger L. Omanson, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger’s Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society), 2006), p 104.  Note that the first sentence is a continuation of 16:8, for the obvious purpose of not leaving the verse ending with the women fearful: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told.  And after these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.  Amen.  Manuscripts which append the “long ending” to the “short ending” omit the final “Amen” of the “short ending” (Omanson, p 104).
     5 For more on the textual evidence consult Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1994); Roger L. Omanson’s adaptation of Metzger noted above; Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2008); Craig A. Evans, Word Biblical Commentary: Mark 8:27 – 16:20 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001); Joel Marcus, The Anchor Yale Bible: Mark 8 – 16 (New Haven: Yale, 2009), etc.
     6 This is based on my own admittedly very limited experience.
     7 Comfort, p 161.
     8 This is evident throughout his books, sermons and other materials.  Of the many works I’ve studied/surveyed, none promote snake handling or the drinking of poison.
     9 Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 2003 (first edition)), p 89; emphasis in original.   I’m giving Johnson the benefit of the doubt that he’s speaking of the true Gospel, and not the differentiated “Gospel of the Kingdom” of some New Order of the Latter Rain and/or New Apostolic Reformation teachers and adherents, though the context strongly implies the latter, and he specifically uses the latter term in many places throughout the book.  Probably the best place to find the delineation of the two terms is found in the glossary of Earl Paulk’s Ultimate Kingdom (Atlanta: K Dimension, 1984, p 335), in which “Gospel” is defined as [t]he good news of God’s redemption to man. [Luke 4:18, 9:6; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:15]; whereas, “Gospel of the Kingdom” is defined [t]he good news principles of daily life taught by Jesus that the Church must demonstrate as a witness to the world in order to return the rule of the earth to God.  [Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14] – in other words: Dominionism.  Also, one must keep in mind that Johnson equates such signs as part of the “greater works” in John 14:12.  See below.
     10 Here Decker quotes from (as he cites quite a bit in his paper) James Kelhoffer (Miracle and Mission: The Authentication of Missionaries and Their Message in the Longer Ending of Mark, WUNT 2.112, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000, p 450); Decker notes (p  10 n 42) that dates of 3rd to 6th century have been proposed for these two works.  Claudio Moreschini and Enrico Norelli, (Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature, A Literary History, Volume Two: From the Council of Nicea to the Beginning of the Medieval Period, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2005; English transl. Matthew J. O’Connell), claim “perhaps” 5th or 6th c. for Passion of John (“by Pseudo-Melito”) and “end of 6th c.” for Miracles of John (“included in the collection of Pseudo-Abdias”) [pp 221-222].  Both of these works apparently draw from the 3rd c. apocryphal work Acts of John, as Knut Schäferdiek (“The Acts of John”) in Wilhelm Schneemelcher (transl. R. McL. Wilson New Testament Apocrypha: Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1990, English transl. James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1991) notes, specifying that the Passio Iohannis “has taken up several narratives from the Acts of John in a considerably revised form” [p 154, cf. p 155].  Schäferdiek also largely agrees with Moreschini/Norelli regarding dates for Passion “which scarcely came into being before the middle of the 5th century” [p 154] and Miracles “which probably came into being in the late 6th century” [p 155].
     11 Schäferdiek in Schneemelcher, p 172.  The Acts of John in Rome is a recension of Acts of John.  The first 17 chapters of Acts of John are lost; the Acts of John in Rome has a total 14 chapters, in two recensions, written “not before the 4th century” [p 172].
     12 This further nuanced interpretation seems to be implied by Decker, but is not explicit – at least as I read him.  Therefore, I take full responsibility; any errors in understanding Decker or in my exegesis are fully my own!  But, note that the three apocryphal works referenced earlier do not seem to have another preaching the Gospel while John drank the poison.
     13 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth, p 185; all emphasis in original (for those with later editions with different pagination, this is found in the chapter titled “This Present Revival” under the bolded heading GREATER WORKS).   The Greek word is actually (transliterated) meizon, not mizon.  Johnson prefaces this statement with a direct citation of John 14:12. Decker notes that some are of the opinion that the long ending can be paralleled with John 14:12, but he opines differently {pp 10-11}.  For an in-depth look at Jesus’ words in this passage of Scripture, see CrossWise article Greater Works Shall You Do.

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37 Responses to Charismatic Ramifications on the “Long Ending” of Mark’s Gospel

  1. Craig Bridgforth says:

    Well done, dear brother!

  2. Staci says:

    I have seen at times a number of charismatic churches who purposely bring snakes into their churches in order to “handle” them so as to “prove” this part of Mark’s gospel and at times also the drinking of poison. In viewing this practice it always reminds me of the part of the old testament which clearly instructs us not to tempt the Lord. And this to my mind is exactly what they are doing. As satan attempted to get Jesus to jump of a cliff so that the angels would catch Him and Jesus’ answer was “you shall not tempt the Lord thy God” (I hope I quoted that right). in the charismatic churches by purposely handling snakes, drinking poison etc, this is precisely what these churches are doing as I see it – tempting the Lord their God!
    I tend to be of the belief that this part of Mark’s gospel meant in a situation where you are confronted by a snake in the wilderness for example that you could handle the snake and it would not harm you. There is a story of Paul in NT having been bitten by a snake and all he did was shake it off, he never went and found a snake and decided to “prove” Mark’s gospel to himself. This was purely an incident born of him being out in the wildnerness, the snake bite never harmed him and I tend to think that this is more what this part of the gospel is alluding to. Times when you would find yourself in a situation. The same for drinking poison, for example being invited to dinner by someone and they give you poison to drink (possibly because you are a Christian, especially under the time of the rule of Nero), the poison would not harm you. It was not instructing us to tempt the Lord our God. When it comes to deliverance (exorcisms), I believe this is a sensitive subject that needs to be handled with great care. A lot of charismatic churches rush head first straight into deliverance without a second thought. I myself am heading into a deliverance and counselling very soon in my case it is absolutely necessary but the Pastor that has been working with me, has taken her time in measuring up my situation, she has spent time in prayer and consulting with the Lord, she hasn’t once rushed headlong or head first into this situation. And in spite of my impatience has very much held steadfast to waiting on the Lord and receiving instruction form Him. And made the decision that my deliverance should take place when the Lord gives the go ahead and that it would happen in His time. My point is that when it comes to deliverance the Charismatic Churches want to rush into it without a second thought, and they take things like snake handling etc completely out of context. I think with them they are way to hooked on signs and wonders and the Lord “manifesting” himself through these things. Where Jesus also rebuked those who kept asking for more signs and more wonders, the charismatic church is doing the exact same thing that He rebuked those people for. I think the Charismatic church in this situation has taken this part of Mark’s gospel far beyond it’s intent possibly because of their addiction to signs and wonders. But I think they need to realize that sometimes verses in the Bible mean exactly what they say and don’t need to be taken to any further level :)

  3. Craig says:

    Staci,

    You wrote:

    …I tend to be of the belief that this part of Mark’s gospel meant in a situation where you are confronted by a snake in the wilderness for example that you could handle the snake and it would not harm you. There is a story of Paul in NT having been bitten by a snake and all he did was shake it off, he never went and found a snake and decided to “prove” Mark’s gospel to himself. This was purely an incident born of him being out in the wildnerness, the snake bite never harmed him and I tend to think that this is more what this part of the gospel is alluding to. Times when you would find yourself in a situation. The same for drinking poison, for example being invited to dinner by someone and they give you poison to drink (possibly because you are a Christian, especially under the time of the rule of Nero), the poison would not harm you. It was not instructing us to tempt the Lord our God…

    But, here’s the thing: By the construction of the Greek text, these are supposed to occur all the time and for all Christians. This is merely one of the reasons why Mark 16:9-20 is rejected as actually being part of Mark’s Gospel. Mark would not write something like this. However, if one wishes to include this section as part of one’s Bible, then one must also accept that these 5 signs are to be done by everyone either all the time, or limited to just when the Gospel is being preached in the individual Christian’s midst.

    Sure, these things could happen; God could allow us to drink deadly poison without harm, etc; but, according to the plain reading of the text, Mark 16:17-18 are supposed to happen to everyone, even if a Christian voluntarily drinks poison (rather than being forced).

    However, yes, all the 5 signs are allusions to other parts of Scripture (see Decker’s pdf) – but merely allusions. Yet, these signs never were normative, even for the (real, first century) Apostles.

  4. Arwen4CJ says:

    I agree with Staci — if we are reading this text in English, and we take it to be Scripture, then it only seems logical to interpret this text as these things happening situationally rather than prescriptively. God tells us not to tempt Him, so drinking poison or handling poisonous snakes or whatnot would be tempting God.

    However, if it is really constructed like that in Greek (I don’t know Greek, so I don’t know the reliability of the information), then it definitely stinks of being ridiculous and not inspired by God. It could be something lifted from a false gospel that didn’t survive to our time period.

    Even when we read this text in English, it sounds kind of ridiculous….it just seems to not fit with the rest of the NT. It seems like something that would have been at a later period of Christian history — when more occult practices, superstitions, and beliefs had wandered into Christianity due to the mixing of pagan beliefs into Christianity.

    For example, it is exactly in line with the tale that Craig wrote about in the article — where they said John drank poison in order to convert people to Christianity. It’s almost like the people who told that tale wrote that into the Gospel to “prove” what they were claiming. It’s like an inauthentic piece of writing that has been added to make their viewpoint be true.

    It is quite clear that this bit isn’t part of the original Gospel of Mark, and I agree that no part of it should be used for doctrine.

    This ending to Mark reminds me of the tales that people told of Jesus when He was a kid — ridiculous things that would be out of character for Jesus, even as a child. These things included killing another kid and bringing the other kid back to life. Or killing a bird and bringing it back to life.

    It seems like tales people told that border on the ridiculous, and that major on the supernatural element.

  5. Craig says:

    Dr. Rodney Decker, whose work I relied on for this article, is a very well respected exegete. In reading his work on the subject (in the pdf link in the article), I’m nearly convinced of his interpretation, as I’ve followed his argument by reading and re-reading the material, including some of the applicable footnote references on the Greek (it took a LOT of extra study time on my end, but I do have the requisite material). My only point of possible departure – and take this with a grain of salt as I don’t have the requisite Greek credentials – is whether it’s every single person in the collective of “those who believe” who will perform all five miracles, or whether it’s ‘merely’ the collective as a whole. In other words, the entire group of “those who believe” WILL exhibit all five signs as per the “long ending” writer, but this would not necessarily entail all performing all of them, that is, all 5 signs will be exhibited by the group collectively, but, e.g., it may be only one who drinks poison to no ill effect. However, the key is that all 5 WILL be performed by the group in question.

    Of course, this goes well beyond the rest of the NT, and must be unoriginal to Mark’s Gospel, as you agree. And, of course, those who DO accept the long ending (to include KJV-onlyists) are committed to these five signs being normative for the Church at large or, worse, for every single believer – at least when the Gospel is actively preached (the latter a point Decker did not appear to bring forth, as I note in footnote 12)

  6. Arwen4CJ says:

    In regard to KJV-onlyists, who often claim that other Bible translations have “deleted” God’s deity by getting rid of Thee’s and Thou’s….or are somehow disrespectful to God by eliminating them….

    I got into a discussion a couple days ago with a friend who objected to a church changing the title of a the song “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” to “O Come, All You Faithful.” He thought, if they were going to change it, it should be “O Come, All Thee Faithful.”

    So that caused me to look up the word “ye” on wikipedia, and I found this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ye_%28pronoun%29

    Look at the bottom chart entitled:
    “Personal pronouns in Early Modern English”

    “Thou” was simply the 2nd person singular informal pronoun that people used.
    “Ye/You” were used for the 2nd person plural or formal singular pronoun.

    Today, we use “you” in all cases.

    The thou language was simply how people talked to everyone, not just to God.

    Anyway…..some of those who take this ending of Mark to be Scripture DO suggest that all Christians need to be doing these things, although I don’t know too many who emphasize the poison drinking part. We know there are some that take the snake handling part literally.

    And there probably have been some who tried drinking poison because they wanted to follow this passage literally. I can imagine some kid who attends a church that emphasizes this passage trying it…. :(

    It certainly isn’t healthy to base a doctrine on it….

    My hope would be that those who do take it as Scripture are interpreting it in a sensible way. In that case, all someone would need to do would be to point out the things you have in this article, and they might see the truth, and stop using it to base doctrine upon.

  7. Craig says:

    …some of those who take this ending of Mark to be Scripture DO suggest that all Christians need to be doing these things, although I don’t know too many who emphasize the poison drinking part….

    Which is precisely why I emphasized the drinking of poison in this article.

    As to your KJVO friend insisting on changing the Christmas hymn to “thee”, he’s wrong on two counts. First, thee is an oblique/object case, and, by the context of the title of the hymn this is a nominative – the one exception, as from wiki:

    “…A noun or pronoun in the oblique case can generally appear in any role except as subject, for which the nominative case is used.” This would be like saying “Me/Us went to the store” instead of “I went to the store”.

    Secondly, if he’s intending this as a genitive/possessive, i.e., that “thee” would refer to God, and hence HIS faithful (God’s faithful), then the correct term would be “thy” or “thine”.

  8. Craig says:

    I should add, as I have in the article, that “picking up snakes” does not necessarily mean venomous snakes, as the “long ending” is written. However, for me to pick up ANY snake would be a sign and a wonder indeed, for snakes are something I avoid like a plague!

  9. Arwen4CJ says:

    Yes, I saw what you wrote about picking up snakes not having to mean venomous ones, but the cases that we hear about are usually people who try handling venomous snakes.

    Thanks for your feedback on the guy who thought the hymn should be “O Come, All Thee Faithful.” :)

  10. Arwen4CJ says:

    Wow……I’ll be praying for him and his family.

  11. Craig says:

    To anyone with interest in pursuing NT (Koine) Greek language study, Decker has provided a resource list:

    http://ntresources.com/blog/?page_id=2840

  12. yesnaspanishtown says:

    Arguably, one of the most beautiful and enriching studies in the Bible is that of the tabernacle in the wilderness. It is filled with symbols of who Jesus is and what His ministry would be. The brazen altar: judgment; the table of showbread: Jesus’ body; the laver: the mirror of the Word of God; incense: our prayers; oil and light of the lamp stand: the Holy Spirit–just to name a few.

    So here is my challenge: There are clear symbols in the Scriptures. I am looking for support and/or refutation of the symbol of wine/new wine being the Holy Spirit. (Craig, please feel free to post this in a more suitable thread if you prefer.) Surely this teaching has led to much abuse and excess in Charismaticism over the years. “Belly up to the Holy Spirit Bar”. Also, Eph. 5:18 has been twisted to support the whole laughing revival junk.

    I’ve been writing a blog from reading the Gospels in harmony: justasimplesheep.blogspot.com. I’m stuck–partly because of pre-occupation with family issues over the last two months, but also because I’m at John 2 (and anticipating a few other spots coming up). I would really like some good commentary to chew on this topic before moving forward.

    I have been grieved over the years by the Biblical illiteracy of the “church”. My goal for my blog has been to get people to read the Gospels primarily, but also to teach basic theological truths and to refute deception as it has crept into the church. It is fascinating to me that the entry with the greatest number of hits is “A Word About the Silent Years”. This tells me of the interest in the mysterious generated by the DaVinci Code, no doubt, even by what should be solid Christians. It gave me a great opportunity to bring truth to that question.

    Thanks in advance, for any help you can send my way! I hope that all the readers here had a wonderfully blessed Christmas. May you all grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in 2014!

    –Terri

  13. Craig says:

    Terri,

    I see no correlation between the changing water into wine at Cana and the Holy Spirit. None. Surveying quickly a few of the more than dozen commentaries on the Gospel of John in my library, not one makes this connection. Even Craig Keener, who sympathizes with charismatic issues (He’s written a two-volume series on miracles), states: …[A] symbolic reading of the wine may be possible but is not explicitly marked. The primary significance of wine in this story seems to lie in the changing of water into wine, hence both Jesus’ benevolence and his lack of attachment to religious tradition [The Gospel of John, A Commentary, Volume One, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003, p 494].

    Raymond E. Brown (The Gospel According to John I-XII, Anchor Bible Commentary, New York, Doubleday, 1966, p 110), a Roman Catholic, suggests the possibility of seeing this as alluding to eucharistic wine, noting:

    …Such symbolism would be secondary, for the primary meaning of the wine is clearly Jesus’ gift of salvation, for which light, water, and food are other Johannine symbols…The fact that wine is the blood of the grape…has also been invoked. And it is true that the “choice wine” in place of the waters for Jewish purification could stand for the true cleansing agent of the Christian dispensation – “the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (I John i 7). However, many of these internal indications of sacramental intent are at most poetic allusions which do no more than make a eucharistic interpretation possible.

    Again, no HS allusion, with Brown making the claim that the point of the passage is salvific. D.A. Carson (The Gospel According to John, Pillar New Testament Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991, pp 174-175) states it more broadly, …John’s point is simply that the wine Jesus provides is unqualifiedly superior, as must everything be that is tied to the new, messianic age Jesus is introducing.

    Herman Ridderbos (The Gospel of John, A Theological Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991 (English translation John Vriend, 1997), p 109) states, …[I]n Jesus’ own preaching “new wine” is the symbol of the time of salvation that has come and is still to come (cf. Mk. 2:22 par.; Lk. 22:18, 30)…[H]e is the wine, more specifically the “good wine” reserved until now (vs. 10)..

    The miracle at Cana is the very first sign (σημεῖα, sēmeia) of Jesus, and this sign is explicitly to “reveal His [Jesus’] glory” (v 11) – NOT the Holy Spirit’s glory, etc.

    Terri, I’ve seen the old vs. new wine in Matthew 9:16-18 (cf. Mk. 2:18-22; Lk. 5:33-39) used to a similar end as you speak. However, these verses are comparing the Torah with the coming new eschatological age, one in which Jesus fulfills (not abolishes) the Law.

    Following is a comment posted on the “Christ” in the New Age article, which should raise some eyebrows:

    Here’s the New Age explanation of the ‘parable of new wine’ [Matthew 9:16-18]:

    The disciples of the world (with their nicely formulated ideals and their neatly expressed idealistic concepts) are oft glamoured by the future beauty because they are oblivious of the present opportunity. Many of them will find out later that they have been left behind as far as registering the new truths is concerned. To this Christ referred when He said that it was not possible to put new wine into old bottles for that which is old will be destroyed by the expanding new life. — AA Bailey Discipleship in the New Age, Volume I; 1944; p 86 [emphasis in original]

    Most anyone who has ever been involved in hyper-charismaticism will recognize this teaching. The “new truths” are also known as “present truths” or “new revelations.” The “disciples of the world,” or “old bottles,” are those whom modern hyper-charismaticism refer to as those who stick to historic orthodox Christian doctrine which they claim is the “human wisdom” of I Corinthians 2:12-13 compared to their “wisdom by the Spirit” — new revelation. See “Christ Consciousness” section for further explanation.

    Also, note this was written just before the modern Latter Rain movement of 1948.

  14. yesnaspanishtown says:

    Thanks, Craig. I’ve been thinking about which direction to take and asking the Lord to lead my writing. One thought I had is that the miracle at Cana is where Jesus performed His first miracle and was the first sign of His Messiah-ship. He chose a wedding. God made several covenants in the Old Testament with His people Israel. Marriage is a covenant and God spoke of Israel as His “wife” and often used the imagery of Israel’s spiritual adultery in her falling away to other “lovers”. I see Cana as a prophetic picture of what Jesus’ finished work will accomplish. He will purchase a bride for Himself with His own blood which will be the New Covenant. The ultimate consummation of which will be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I believe this is the direction that I will take. It’s like the wedding at Cana and the Marriage Super of the Lamb are two slices of bread with everything else sandwiched in between.

    Your commentary above regarding salvation and that Jesus is the “good wine” fits in with this, too. Thanks for the info. I appreciate it very much!

  15. Craig says:

    Terri,

    Keep in mind (as I think you are) that Jesus was not a part of the wedding ceremony itself; He was merely one invited. The wedding was set in a Jewish context (OT). Jesus “saved” the host/bridegroom (again, Jesus is not the bridegroom) from the embarrassment of having no more wine to serve the guests; yet, there seems to be a possible secondary symbolic significance of dispensing with the OT ways of doing things (the large jugs for ceremonial cleansing) into the new way of doing things (the water in these jugs transformed into wine, thus symbolizing the new eschatological age without the need for OT rites). I would caution against portraying Jesus as the “good wine” too narrowly; the intent, as I see it (and read Ridderbos) is that it’s the person and work of Christ and not solely Christ’s person that is the “good wine” here.

  16. yesnaspanishtown says:

    Good points, Craig. Indeed Jesus was not part of the wedding ceremony itself. But His inaugurating miracle confirmed the institution of marriage (He blessed it by His presence and “saving” the social faux pas that occured). And if my take is appropriate, He DID become the bridegroom by the purchase price at the cross–His blood. This does take into account the old Jewish context of a wedding when the bride price is paid in advance with the actual consummation occurring later. He will present to Himself a pure bride without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5). Very interesting concepts here. Not sure how I will write this up and how much I will include, but it gives me much to chew on.

    Yes, I fully agree with you, the focus, the centrality is on the Lord Jesus Christ. Reading through the Harmony last year was very fruitful for me. Writing about it this year has been an abundant blessing.

  17. yesnaspanishtown says:

    You had mentioned in some post previously about exhausting the BJ topic. Have you considered the Joseph Prince phenomena. UGH! Seems everywhere I go people gush about him. Once they get started on him, they cannot see truth. While it is true that BJ is very dangerous in Charismatic circles, there are many who just don’t go to Bethel’s extremes. But JP…that’s another story. He even attracts the nonCharismatics.

  18. Craig says:

    There’ve been quite a few who’ve written about Joseph Prince; so, I’ll stay out of that one. But, the hyper-grace crowd is just as deluded as the hyper-charismatic, unfortunately.

    I have other articles in the works on various topics, but centering around Scripture and Christology.

  19. Carolyn says:

    Terri, for me, the wedding of Cana is literal. To me it’s the first sign that is recorded. But it also tells me that Jesus mother had seen Christ do other miracles. (Another example of his deity manifesting long before his baptism). She was quite comfortable telling the servants to do what he told them in order to see a miracle.

    It seems too complicated to make up allegories or symbols as a representation of the life of Christ linking it to the bride of Christ, marriage supper of the lamb, etc. Instead of clarifying the gospel, it complicates it. It’s just a simple miracle in my mind. Sometimes we’re looking for something that just isn’t there.

    You don’t have to agree with me, but that’s my opinion and I’m stickin’ to it!

  20. yesnaspanishtown says:

    Hi, Carolyn! Thanks for your thoughts. It is a simple and glorious miracle, but I do think it has significance. God Himself used the events of the Old Testament as prophetic pictures of who Jesus was and what Jesus He would do. This is explained by Jesus re. the manna in the wilderness, “I am that bread…” (John 6:41). Also, 1 Cor. 10 explains that the rock that followed the Israelites in the wilderness was Christ.

    Therefore, I don’t think that it is a stretch to see significance in the wedding of Cana as Christ blessing the institution and covenant of marriage, and also in a way, foreshadowing His final earthly ministry by purchasing His bride with His blood. Craig is absolutely correct to emphasize that Jesus is not the bridegroom here, but He does identify Himself as the bridegroom in later parables and teachings.

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with seeing the richness and beauty of Jesus as a bridegroom and how He fulfills the Biblical Hebrew wedding. God Himself called Israel His bride. The imagery is rich and beautiful. It is wrong to make any definitive doctrine out of this in regard to the wedding in Cana, but it does give us a foretaste of later Scriptural implications. And for me, when I see this and am reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice for me, His bride, I glory in His cross and my love for Him grows.

    In regards to Mary experiencing Christ’s miracle-working abilities and showing His deity before His baptism, I would say that according to the text in John 2:11 that is not the case. This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

  21. Craig says:

    Terri,

    I’m with Carolyn on this one. We must be careful about over-literalizing an intended metaphor. Symbolically the church – the collective of all saints from the past, present and yet future – are the bride of Christ; however, we are not individual ‘brides’ (“…And for me, when I see this and am reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice for me, His bride, I glory in His cross and my love for Him grows.”). Careful there, as this would be dangerously close to the error of IHOP, however much Mike Bickle protests otherwise. And, as Brown states (from my previous comment), going beyond the literal events of Cana into the symbolic would be merely “poetic allusions”, secondary symbolism at best.

    Yet, there is no doubt that God (the Trinity) is the Bridegroom of Israel in the OT, with Jesus/God (again, the Trinity) the Bridegroom of the new Israel (with this new Israel including Gentiles). But, Jesus is not the Bridegroom in this particular text, the miracle at Cana.

    Carolyn/Terri,

    The miracle at Cana was performed after Jesus’ baptism by John. And, as Terri notes, this is the first of His “signs” – signs in John’s Gospel illustrate that He is the Christ (John 10:24-25). However, I’m of the opinion that Jesus in the Temple as a 12-year-old would be considered miraculous, given his evident astounding grasp of the Scriptures at that time – miraculous, but not a “sign” per se. (This is keeping in mind that each Gospel writer used language in different ways; e.g., John is the only to refer to the 2nd Member of the Trinity as the preexistent Logos to a certain rhetorical effect.)

  22. Carolyn says:

    Craig, Terri, As I understand it, the progression of events was that immediately after Jesus baptism he was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for 40 days. During that time John the Baptist was being questioned (harassed) by the Pharisees who were asking him if he was the Messiah. Upon Jesus return: John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! After that they attended the wedding of Cana and Christ’s ministry began.

    Still, reading between the lines, Christ’s mother was confident of his miraculous powers. How is that? Somehow, I can’t believe it was his first miracle. He and the Father were one. So it was natural that his knowledge and supernatural abilities were in operation long before his public ministry began. As a 12 year boy, he was already doing the “works” of the Father.

    Speaking of “works”, by paying careful attention to the “greater works” passage, the context of it is more about the authority and work that the Father had given Christ to do. His emphasis was on the fact that he was in the Father and the Father was in him. Interestingly, there is no mention of miracles.

    John 6:29
    Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

    Now we are in Christ and he is in us and by his authority we do the greater works, bringing the message of salvation that has now been completed.

    With the passage in Mark, I have never felt really inspired by it. It’s almost as though someone believed that we should be doing the same works that Christ did or which had been experienced by certain apostles, for example the snake wrapping around Paul when he landed on the island.

    Miracles an every day occurrence? Only if you are blind, deaf and dumb!! Christ as God is the only one who could lay claim to authentic, everyday, miracles and healing s, to omniscient and superior powers. I think I’ll stay ordinary and real. If God gives me a miracle, (and he has) I’m happy. But so far I haven’t seen a “faith” ministry that compares to even one day in the life of Christ.

  23. Carolyn says:

    To be a little more clear on what I was saying about the passage in Mark….
    Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

    Even when I was a card-carrying, fully involved, member of the hyper-charismatic community, I still understood this passage to be a tacked on, not quite viable, questionable at best, and worse, a product of someone’s imaginative list of power gifts. They will pick up snakes…come on…would Christ really say that? Or would he really say, “if you believe, you can drink deadly poison and it will not harm you”. Ya, not likely.

    And the same spirit that inspired this kind of bogus snake handling, incites a few gullible, thrill seeking individuals to test God. It smacks of the same testing God that Christ responded to when he was in his wilderness temptation. Consider his reply to Satan when he incited Jesus to test God:

    Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
    “‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
    7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

  24. yesnaspanishtown says:

    I am sorry if I have been misunderstood. In no way do I in any sense connect or support any IHOP bridal paradigm teaching. That cannot be farther from my mind and heart. I have endured and continue to endure shunning because I refuse to join in with that stream of spirituality.

    I concede that my use of the term “prophetic picture” is ill chosen. However, my literary mind cannot help but see a foretaste or foreshadow (better wording) in the wedding of Cana. It is the occurrence of Jesus’ first miracle. The last action of His earthly life was to shed His blood on the cross which 1 Cor. 6 describes as a “purchase”. Ultimately, we will experience the marriage supper of the Lamb and participate in the New Jerusalem–the bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 19, 21).

    Certainly, Jesus purchased our pardon, our forgiveness on the cross. But it can also be understood that He purchased His bride–a concept understood by other Biblical commentators. The old hymn writer Samuel Stone wrote,
    The Church’s one foundation
    Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
    She is His new creation
    By water and the Word:
    From heav’n He came and sought her
    To be His holy Bride;
    With His own blood He bought her,
    And for her life He died.

    Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/833#ixzz2p4qXUT4G

    This is not fanciful allegory. The passage Craig noted, Mark 2:19-22, Jesus also identifies Himself as the bridegroom,
    ” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. 21 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

    I can’t help but wonder here, if the disciples thought of Cana as Jesus spoke these words.

    John the Baptizer, who ministered in the power of the Spirit, declared that Jesus was the bridegroom and he the friend of the bridegroom, “[Jhn 3:29 NKJV] 29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.” In the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus is the bridegroom who may come at a time when some will be least prepared. Understanding Biblical Jewish weddings helps us understand this eschatological event. (I understand that some commentators see John as a type of the Holy Spirit who prepares and calls the hearts of unbelievers to faith.)

    In 2 Cor. 11:2, Paul refers to presenting the Corinthian believers to Christ as a chaste virgin. Ephesians 5 tells us that Jesus Himself will sanctify, cleanse, and purify His bride unto Himself.

    Certainly IHOP severely abuses (twists) these passages (2 Peter 3). However, that does not mean that we cannot appreciate the beauty in their truths, and that is all that I am saying.

    John 3:16 says that God loved the world and gave His only begotten son to die for us. Obviously, unless one believes in universalism, this only applies to those who receive Christ and His atonement by faith. This is an issue of whole vs. individual. In the same way, I, too am the bride of Christ as an individual member of His body. BTW–the picture of the body is another example of the whole/individual parts concept. 1 Cor. 12 explains that we are all His body, but parts individually. Collectively believers are the body of Christ, the bride of Christ. Many members–one body. I am an individual who is a part of the body of Christ and also part of the bride of Christ. That is all I am saying. Please don’t pick at my words.

    By making these statements, please do not misconstrue my remarks as being dangerously close to IHOP. Did I make any statement regarding bridal chamber intimacy in any comment? God forbid! Then please do not make more of my statement than is written. In case I have been unclear, I denounce and reject any such IHOP teaching. In fact, I have made it clear to others (the reason I am shunned by local IHOP followers) that to do so makes Jesus guilty of pre-marital sex, for believers have not yet experienced the marriage supper of the Lamb. I DO NOT stretch this picture into such licentious folly.

    I greatly enjoy every picture that is given to us in the Word that describes our Lord Jesus Christ and my relationship to Him. Understanding such pictures greatly enriches my faith. I can say that with purity of heart before Him, because such pictures are contextual in the Bible.

  25. yesnaspanishtown says:

    Carolyn, I like your point here regarding snake handlers, etc.:
    “‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
    7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

    Re. the events from Jesus baptism to Cana must also include his calling of five of His disciples. The timeline as I understand it is that immediately after His baptism, Jesus is driven into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. I believe he likely returned to Jordan where John was baptizing after His wilderness experience. This is where we pick up John 1:19. I think that John was describing the event of the baptism which had happened at least 40 days prior. Sometime after/during his interchange with the Jews sent by Pharisees from Jerusalem, he sees Jesus walking and declares, “Behold…” Otherwise there is no time for Jesus to meet those first disciples (some of whom are initially John’s disciples). It is after He calls the first five disciples that He goes to the wedding. This may be why the wine ran out. Perhaps the disciples were last minute guests. This is conjecture of course, but reasonable thoughts.

    Yes, Mary certainly knew of Jesus ability. (She had many supernatural experiences herself including angelic visitations to her and her husband’s dreams.) But I am wary of pointing to any previous working of miracles. That is the fodder of fanciful notions of mystical fables in my neck of the woods.

  26. Carolyn says:

    Terri, thanks for your response. Yes my thought about the testing God was a good point, IMO. Thanks for the appreciation.

    Your comment: “Yes, Mary certainly knew of Jesus ability. (She had many supernatural experiences herself including angelic visitations to her and her husband’s dreams.) But I am wary of pointing to any previous working of miracles. That is the fodder of fanciful notions of mystical fables in my neck of the woods.”

    That’s how I feel about the interjection of your thoughts on the passage about the wedding of Cana. But it IS great that we can exchange our thoughts and insights. It can inspire us to do further investigation on a subject. Constructive criticism is beneficial to keep us fact based, faith oriented and challenged to keep loving in spite of differences of opinion.

    I’ve got under Craig’s skin a couple of times, (can’t imagine why). Sometimes our thoughts are miles apart. Sometimes we are on the same track. The thing about communicating our thoughts and responses, is that our personality sometimes conflicts with someone else’s. I can think that I’m communicating civilly and fairly and someone else can be offended. Sometimes, I’ve just had to move off the set, chill and let the Holy Spirit sort my thoughts.

    Hey, we are learning and growing in Christ…in spite of differences. I have to credit Craig on his tireless push for “proving all things”, for thinking things through and for his challenge to rational reasoning. That doesn’t mean that he’s always right, it just means that he expects some concrete arguments from participants. These days, those are some rare qualities. And to put it mildly, sticking with bloggers who get under your skin is no small task. :-) He will receive his reward.

    I love this passage:

    The Faithful Remnant
    16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.

    17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be mytreasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

  27. Craig,
    Dr. Decker overstated his case considerably. Consider: if a general, in the course of giving an inspirational speech to his troops before a decisive battle, says, “Everyone in an Allied uniform who performs well against the enemy will be given a medal,” the grammatical structure of the sentence does not give interpreters permission to throw reasonableness out the window and jump to the conclusion that everyone who performs well in the Allied army, down through the ages until the end of time, will be given a medal. But that is essentially Dr. Decker’s argument regarding Mark 16:17-18.

    It seems obvious that none of the patristic writers who regarded Mark 16:9-20 as Scripture — early writers such as Justin, Tatian, Irenaeus, Ambrose, and many more — routinely experienced or expected poison-drinking-survival or snake-handling. Nor has such an expectation been upheld in any of the churches where Mark 16:9-20 has been included in the text — not in the locales where 99.9% of the Greek manuscripts of Mark are found, and not in the locales where 99.99% of the Latin manuscripts of Mark are found, and not in the locales where 99% of the Syriac manuscripts of Mark have been found. So when someone says, in effect, “All these people through the ages have been misinterpreting this passage” extraordinary support is needed to sustain such an extraordinary claim. Dr. Decker has no such support, other than a very strained and intrinsically unlikely grammatical argument — the same sort of argument that can turn any generalization in the New Testament into something ridiculous and impossible.

    Yours in Christ,
    James Snapp, Jr.

  28. Craig says:

    James,

    Have you actually read through Decker’s paper? It seems you wish to discount his exegesis based upon your own view, which is in favor of the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20. If you are persuaded that the long ending is original, then fine. However, in all intellectual honesty you must then take the context of the long ending in its entirety as it’s provided by these manuscripts. According to Decker’s exegesis, a Bible teacher of some renown, the context explicitly affirms that “those who believe” should ALL experience ‘poison-bibbing’ to no ill effect (as well as the other 4 signs). If you disagree with his exegesis, perhaps you should challenge him directly on his blog:

    http://ntresources.com/blog/?p=3611

    Page 5 of the accompanying pdf contains the crux of his argument (and he also affirms that some patristic writers were at least aware of the long ending – see p 2, n 10). It would be helpful if you understood verbal aspect as it pertains to Koine Greek. But, I am curious as to how you deem the verses in question as generalizations rather than imperatives proclamations about [edited] “those who believe”. Can you illustrate your exegesis from the Koine Greek?

    It seems clear to me that the writer of the long ending, for whatever his exact reasons, had taken accounts mostly from Acts in his assertion that the five signs would be normative as confirmation of the preaching of the Gospel. Perhaps he himself had a mere perfunctory knowledge of Koine Greek and botched up these verses(?).

    Are you a cessationist or a continuationist? If a cessationist, at what point did the gifts cease?

  29. Carolyn says:

    Craig/Terri, just a quick note to update my last post on the subject of the wedding of Cana. I’ve had a change of mind about the possibility that there was some prophetic significance to the mention of the wedding of Cana.

    Christ made a special point in many places of speaking about the third day. I had not noticed it until today that there is once again, a reference to the third day in John 2:1. After Jesus had returned from the 40 days in the wilderness, on the first day back, had been pointed out by John the Baptist as the Messiah, had chosen his disciples on the first and second day back and then…….”on the third day” attended the wedding at Cana. At least that seems to be the time line from how I read the Scripture and I did a little research…others agree….

    *Surprising, is the number of references throughout Scripture to the third day…
    John 2:1
    On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,

    *Here are a couple more references to a third day death and resurrection: (there are many others):
    Matthew 20:19
    and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
    Luke 13:32
    He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.
    Matthew 16:21
    [ Jesus Predicts His Death ] From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

    *And apparently Christ had put such an emphasis on speaking about the third day…that even the authorities were taking some care in remembering such a detail:
    Matthew 27:64
    So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

    Considering that the third day significance of Christ’s resurrection seems to be a foreshadow of the 2000 year period until our resurrection on the third day (millennium), I now think that we have a Scripturally based, time-reference which could prove a case for prophetic significance the wedding of Cana. Would you agree?

  30. Craig says:

    Personally, I don’t think there’s a strong enough parallel. Resurrection is not very congruent to changing water into wine, which is the most significant event of the wedding at Cana, as it’s the first of Jesus’ signs. As mentioned above, there are possibilities of allusions, but not close parallels.

    No doubt there are ‘third day’ references to Jesus’ bodily resurrection in the synoptic Gospels and in John, but at Cana there’s no sort of “resurrection” in changing water to wine.

    Again, taking a quick survey of commentaries:

    Matthew Henry doesn’t speak much at all re: “third day” in this passage.

    FF Bruce: “…It is very doubtful if the Evangelist had any such [resurrection] thought in mind” [p 68].

    Ridderbos: “…We…take the position that there is not sufficient ground to ascribe to ‘the third day’ any other meaning than it serves to establish a direct historical and material connection between the story that follows and what has taken place two days earlier between Jesus and Nathaniel” [p 103].

    DA Carson (and others) note that the sequence of days brings the miracle at Cana to the seventh day in total, i.e., the Sabbath. “…Jesus’ performance of redemptive work on the Sabbath is later in this Gospel (5:16ff; 7:21-24; 9:16) given the most suggestive theological treatment in the New Testament, apart from Hebrews 4. Although we cannot be certain that the seven days in 1:19-2:1 were intended to carry this weight, it seems likely, but only if we assume the Evangelist’s readers are familiar with the Scriptures (our Old Testament), and are expected to read this Gospel, meditatively, more than once” [p 168]. Previously, Carson noted, “Some have suggested…that John is using ['third day'] symbolically…on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, the new age begins, represented here by the wine. This seems overly subtle in a Gospel that does not stress ‘the third day’ in the resurrection narratives themselves…” [167]. Therefore, a future resurrection of the Saints / Marriage Supper of the Lamb is even further removed – my opinion here, not Carson’s explicitly, but Carson does not even mention this aspect at all.

    RE Brown: “…some suggest a purely symbolic reference to [Jesus'] resurrection” [p 97]. Also, “…The Gospel itself counts Cana as occurring on the third day, and the day that covers i 40-42 [John 1:40-42] is only obliquely indicated. That the reference to seven days fits well with clear parallels to Genesis in the Prologue [John 1:1-3] (and with the theme of the ‘woman’ at Cana…) is true, but this does no more than at most to make the theory of seven days a possible interpretation” [p 106].

    Beasley-Murray: “The mention of the third day has led to various attempts to read a symbolic meaning into the date…A simpler interpretation is preferable: ‘The promise made by Jesus in 1:50 or 51 was fulfilled very soon’ (Schnackenburg, 1:325)” [p 34]. In the ellipse are a few references to possible interpretations, none of which leads to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

    A few other commentaries don’t say much at all about the ‘third day’ reference (Tyndale, Johnson (from 1886), etc.).

    Craig Keener is the lone voice in understanding a possible “resurrection” reference: “…If John also intends some theological significance, the most likely additional connection is with the tradition of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day [ED: his footnote reference cites two authors who "look for Eucharistic overtones here"], a connection the reader may take when she or he reaches 2:19-20, particularly if the reader had paused over the ‘third day’ in 2:1 (‘Three’ and ‘third’ occur nowhere else with days in the entire Gospel.) The purpose of this probable inclusio is to bind the two paragraphs together, so that they interpret one another; the sign of 2:1-11 thus points to the ultimate sign of the resurrection (2:18-29), and Jesus’ assault on the institution of the temple must be read in the setting aside of the ceremonial pots in 2:1-11″ [pp 497-498]. But, again, this says nothing of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

    BTW, Please note:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/new-tab-for-miscellaneous-comments-or-questions/

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/miscellany/

  31. Craig says:

    It’s a pity James Snapp, Jr. did not continue this discussion.

    I didn’t wish to focus on the textual evidence against the long ending, thus unduly lengthening this particular article. However, briefly, the mere fact that there is the so-called “short ending” – one that follows verse 16:8 – illustrates that the writer of this “short ending” was dissatisfied with the Gospel of Mark concluding at verse 8, therefore adding this bit to complete it. In and of itself this shows that the “short ending” author either (1) did not have a document with the “long ending”, stopping at v 8 instead; or (2) did not think the “long ending” was original, substituting his own ending as a way to conclude the Gospel instead. Which of these is most likely? Certainly (1) seems much more probable, as it would appear most unlikely that a copyist would delete so much (vv 9-20 – and this is why it became part of tradition). In any case, the main point is that the “short ending” author was persuaded that Mark’s Gospel did not end with v 8.

    Another point Mr. Snapp neglects is that many of the manuscripts containing the long ending had asterisks and/or obeli surrounding it – marks that usually indicate the copyists thought a particular section was spurious.

  32. Carolyn says:

    Craig: I did take note of the new thread, but since we had started here, I thought it made sense to continue here. Next time…

    Really appreciate the detailed answer to my query. I just found it interesting that a specific number was attached to this. As with anything, numerology can be taken to the extreme but God himself overlays history with the foreshadowing of a 7-day pattern throughout the Scriptures, giving prophetic clues to those who have eyes to see. This is not to say that we can take off into the wind and make up things. The input of others keeps us rooted in reality.

    But as to numbers and patterns in God’s own eternal plan, we can be aware, at least.

    Hosea makes another interesting reference to the third day…
    Hosea 6:2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.

    I know this passage is talking about Israel, but as we have been grafted into the vine, we are subject to the same time frame. It’s gives us a further reference as to the “Sabbath rest” plan/pattern of God and encourages us with a further clue, that the seven-day time period for us as well as Israel, on God’s time schedule/calendar. is coming to a close.

    My opinion agrees with Craig Keener and yourself that the reference here in John 2:1 to the third day, if any, would be to the resurrection rather than specifically, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We cannot read something into a passage that is not intended. However, we know that, historically, we are headed in the direction of both the resurrection and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb on the 7- day time line. Meantime, we can encourage each other without becoming entrenched in a theological quagmire. If we just keep going by faith, it will all make sense. This passage complements Hosea 6:2:
    2 Peter 3:8
    But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

    Your point about the asterisks marking the long ending of Mark 16 is an interesting point. We’ll see if you get some feedback on it.

    Keep writing for truth, not for popularity… it’s not the place to be if we wish to make friends and influence people, but it is the place our Lord walks….

  33. Carolyn says:

    Oops. Now that my coffee is kicking in, I see that your statement here….

    “Therefore, a future resurrection of the Saints / Marriage Supper of the Lamb is even further removed – my opinion here, not Carson’s explicitly, but Carson does not even mention this aspect at all.”

    …is not the same as Craig Keener’s.

    Anyhow, it’s still good to be able to share some thoughts and opinions. Sometimes, there is even a meeting of the minds…we write to learn…(something I heard a while back).

  34. Craig says:

    I think Keener is reaching a bit with his analysis, as I see no parallel at all. Yes, both 2:1 and 2:19 indicate 3 days; however, the former uses the phrase “on the third day”, while the latter states “in three days”. I don’t see how the two were meant to convey any sort of parallelism, though, of course, the miracle at Cana was the first sign and the Resurrection was the last of the signs of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Keener even concedes that these two verses are the only two places “third” and three” are used (though he tries to use this to bolster his point); if this was a theme John wished to make evident, I’d think he’d mention it at other points in his Gospel, as well. Quoting Carson again, “…This seems overly subtle in a Gospel that does not stress ‘the third day’ in the resurrection narratives themselves….”

  35. Craig says:

    ‘Snake Salvation’ TV star Jamie Coots dies after being bitten

    I have to wonder why this cult sect doesn’t drink poison instead?

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