Mark 16:9–20—Include or Exclude from the Bible? That is the question.

Mark 16:9–20, The Great Commission. Many modern scholars call into question the genuineness of these last twelve verses. For a discussion on whether these verses of Mark’s Gospel should be included in the Bible, see E. W. Bullinger’s (1837-1913) The Companion Bible (appendix 168). 

Bullinger states that it is true that the two oldest Greek manuscripts of the Testimony of Yeshua (from the fourth century) don’t contain these verses. On the other hand, more than six hundred other Greek manuscripts do contain them as do the oldest Syriac (Aramaic) manuscript known as the Peshitto (which Bullinger believes is from the second century) and the Curetonian Syriac (from the third century). He notes that Jerome when translating the Bible into Latin (The Vulgate, A.D. 382) had access to Greek manuscripts older than any now extant,which is why he included these twelve verses in his Bible. Additionally, he notes that the Gothic Version (A.D. 350), the Coptic (fourth or fifth century), the Armenian (fifth century), Ethiopic (fourth to seventh centuries) and Georgian (sixth century) versions all contain these last twelve verses. Bullinger goes on to say that there are nearly one hundred ecclesiastical writers before the oldest extant Greek manuscripts who attest to the authenticity of these verses. Moreover, between A.D. 300 and 600 there are about two hundred more writers who do.

Bullinger gives two reasons why he believes these verses may have been omitted from several of the oldest Greek NT manuscripts. After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 extending forward one hundred years, there is a complete blank regarding the history of the early church and a complete silence about this era from Christian writers. Therefore, no one knows what was going on in the church during this period including whether such signs and wonders as enumerated in these last verses in Mark’s Gospel were still occurring. He speculates that when later translators came to the last twelve verses of Mark and saw no trace of these spiritual gifts currently occurring in the fourth century church, some marked them as doubtful, spurious or even omitted them altogether. This same doubt has been passed on to modern scholars.

I vote that we leave these verses in the Bible!

 

Mark 16:15–18: In or Out of the Bible?


Mark 16:9–20, The Great Commission. Many modern scholars call into question the genuineness of these last twelve verses. For a discussion on whether these verses of Mark’s Gospel should be included in the Bible, see E. W. Bullinger’s (1837-1913) The Companion Bible (appendix 168).

Bullinger states that the two oldest Greek manuscripts of the Testimony of Yeshua (from the fourth century) don’t contain these verses. On the other hand, more than six hundred other Greek manuscripts do contain them as do the oldest Syriac manuscript known as the Peshitto (which Bullinger believes is from the second century) and the Curetonian Syriac (from the third century). He notes that Jerome when translating the Bible into Latin (The Vulgate, A.D. 382) had access to Greek manuscripts older than any now extant,which is why he included these twelve verses in his Bible. Additionally, he notes that the Gothic Version (A.D. 350), the Coptic (fourth or fifth century), the Armenian (fifth century), Ethiopic (fourth to seventh centuries) and Georgian (sixth century) versions all contain these last twelve verses. Bullinger goes on to say that there are nearly one hundred ecclesiastical writers before the oldest extant Greek manuscripts who attest to the authenticity of these verses. Moreover, between A.D. 300 and 600 there are about two hundred more writers who do.

Bullinger gives two reasons why he believes these verses may have been omitted from several of the oldest Greek NT manuscripts. After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 extending forward one hundred years, there is a complete blank regarding the history of the early church and a complete silence about this era from Christian writers. Therefore, no one knows what was going on in the church during this period including whether such signs and wonders as enumerated in these last verses in Mark’s Gospel were still occurring. He speculates that when later translators came to the last twelve verses of Mark and saw no trace of these spiritual gifts currently being manifested in the church (in the fourth century), some marked them as doubtful, spurious or even omitted them altogether. This same doubt has been passed on to modern scholars.

 

Lessons from the Rich Young Ruler

Mark 10:21, Sell…follow me. What Yeshua is telling the young man is this. Get rid of anything in your life that is hindering you from following me. Such is an idol and needs to be removed from your life. In the young man’s case, it was his riches and likely those things that consumed his time and energies to maintain his riches (e.g. caring for his business and investment interests), and which prevented him from pursuing the true spiritual riches. Idols such as riches and materialism make it difficult for a person to enter the kingdom of heaven as Yeshua goes on to say in verses 23–25.

Mark 10:26–27, Who then can be saved? This was a legitimate question of Yeshua’s disciples. But in the next verse, Yeshua seems to imply that YHVH in his sovereignty can save anyone he chooses. If YHVH chooses to save someone, does this violate man’s free will? Not at all. YHVH can pour out his Spirit on anyone he chooses, call them and draw them to himself like an irresistible magnet, so that it’s virtually impossible for the person to refuse YHVH’s love and grace. This being the case, the person still has to choose to follow YHVH, even though the Sovereign Creator makes it all but impossible for a man to resist the call.

 

Yeshua’s Model for One-On-One Evangelism

Mark 10:17–22, Yeshua’s model for one-on-one evangelism is here revealed. In his encounter with the rich, young ruler, Yeshua reveals a method of evangelizing in a one-on-one scenario. He uses the following five-step approach:

  • Yeshua first establishes the character of YHVH Elohim and how man falls short of this in comparison. Namely, YHVH is good, and man is not.
  • Next, Yeshua presents the Torah as Elohim’s moral and spiritual standard that determines the definition of good—right and wrong.
  • Yeshua then shows the young man that he was violated that standard of goodness by violating the Torah’s standard of righteousness.
  • He advises the young man then to repent of his Torahlessness (or of breaking YHVH’s laws, which is the biblical definition of sin, see 1 John 3:4).
  • Finally, Yeshua invites the young to make the total commitment to being a good person and to follow him.

We see this evangelistic model again in Acts 17:24 when Paul addresses the Greeks on Mars Hill.

 

Who and What (Really) Is the King of Your Life?

Mark 8:34, Deny himself. The love of self is the greatest obstacle to following Yeshua wholeheartedly. The chief characteristic of self-life is possessiveness.

The fallen man has forced Elohim out of the center of his life and has crowned itself as its king and has given itself over to coveting of things. Such has become self-life’s main focal point and fiercest passion. Surrounding oneself with many possessions causes one to feel elevated in that it makes one the ruler of one’s own kingdom. To such a person, the pronoun me becomes the god, and the pronoun my is the purpose of the pursuit and the religion of self.

To the tyranny of things that largely monopolizes most men’s endeavors, Yesahua says “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” Elsewhere he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3).

 

Did Yeshua Really Sanction Eating Everything?

Is this what Yeshua is really saying in Mark 7:19? Think again…!

Mark 7:19, Thus He declared all foods clean. Many mainstream Christians believe that in this verse Yeshua is sanctioning the eating of all food not matter what. Thus he is categorically rejecting the biblical dietary prohibitions against eating…drumroll please…beloved pork. Is this what Yeshua is really saying here? Before jumping to conclusions, let’s take a step back, demonstrate a modicum of logic and ask ourselves some questions.

First, would a Torah-observant Jew like Yeshua really be advocating the eating of anything the Torah forbids such as pork and shellfish? Second, would Yeshua the Messiah, the one destined to be the sinless Lamb of Elohim Messiah be advocating sinning by going against the biblical dietary laws? Third, what is the biblical definition of food? Does the Creator of the universe even consider something to be food that he forbids people from eating? Fourth, if Yeshua had been advocating the eating of unclean meats, what would have been the reaction of his Torah-touting audience of Pharisees? With the answers to these questions dancing around in the reader’s mind, let’s now discuss this potentially enigmatic passage in depth and in its logical context to see what it’s really saying.

This phrase, “Thus He declared all foods clean is excluded from the KJV, but is included in the NAS, NIV and some other modern translations. Some Bible teachers see this phrase as Yeshua’s endorsement for eating unclean meats such as pork. Even if this phrase were in the original language, Yeshua would never have considered swine to be food—a very non-Jewish concept and out of context with a Torah-adherent society. Furthermore, the Jews in his audience would have strongly reacted against Yeshua saying such a thing. What’s more, earlier in this passage Yeshua upholds the Torah over men’s tradition (Mark 7:6–13), and so Yeshua wouldn’t be teaching anything against the Torah by saying we can eat swine!

Not only that, the context of this passage has nothing to do with eating meat. It has to do with eating bread (v. 2). No mention of meat is made here. Only bread, which in verse two is the Greek word artos meaning “food composed of flour mixed with water and baked.” This has nothing to do with meat. The issue was whether it was mandatory to wash one’s hands before eating bread, which was not a Torah law, but was an extra-biblical Jewish legal law. Period. This is what Yeshua was addressing.

The Hebrew Roots Version, which is a translation from the Aramaic, confirms the KJV rendering of this verse. However, some of the modern texts (e.g. the NIV and NAS) add the phrase to the end of this verse, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” This variant phrase in the newer English translations is the source of the confusion in the minds of many who read this.

The KJV is translated from the Greek family of manuscripts called the Textus Receptus or Received Text, which until the end of the nineteenth century was accepted as the most authoritative and purest manuscripts by the Protestant church. On the other hand, the newer (e.g. the NAS and NIV) translations derive from another family of Greek manuscripts that were rejected by early Protestant scholars as being inferior to the Textus Receptus, but liberal scholars from England challenged these beliefs of earlier scholars and were instrumental in popularizing the variant and previously rejected family of Greek manuscripts (called the Western family of texts).

The debate has raged on for more than 100 years as to which family of manuscripts is the oldest and most reliable and in accordance with the actual autographs (which no longer exist). But since no one knows for sure, can we approach the issue of determining whether the added words in the newer English translations, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean” are accurate or not per the original language? Was Yeshua saying here that the dietary laws delineated in the Torah are now nullified? If so, would this be consistent with the rest Yeshua’s teachings?

Briefly, what was Yeshua’s stand on the Torah? In Matthew 5:17–19 he said,

Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah-law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Yeshua here instructed his followers to not think that he had come to annul the Torah-law.

Then in Mark 7:9 Yeshua rebukes the religious folks of his day for nullifying the Word of Elohim by their man-made traditions. What did he mean by the phrase Word of Elohim? When he made this statement there was no “New Testament,” but only the Tanakh (or “Old Testament”). He was rebuking the Jews for changing YHVH’s Word of which the biblical dietary laws in the Torah were a part. So for him to rebuke the Jews for changing the Word of Elohim, and then a few verses later to be advocating the annulment of the dietary laws found in that Word would have made Yeshua not only a hypocrite, but a Torah-law breaker and thus a sinner (1 John 3:4). To suggest that Yeshua was a law-breaker is utter blasphemy(!) and nullifies the entire gospel message and the rest of the Testimony of Yeshua. Therefore, he could not have been advocating the violation of the Torah-law, and at the same time be the Word of Elohim made flesh and be YHVH’s sinless redemptive Lamb, as the newer translations imply by the addition of the phrase, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” Therefore, we utterly reject this phrase as it appears in our modern Bibles as a corruption of the original text.

By looking at the context, we see that the issue in these passages in Matthew and Mark was not about eating kosher versus not eating kosher, but whether it was allowable to eat with unwashed hands or not. According to Jewish non-biblical oral tradition, it was imperative for one to go through an elaborate hand washing ceremony for mystical reasons before partaking of food. These commandments were rooted in traditions of men, not in the Torah-law of YHVH. Yeshua is taking the Jews to task for placing more emphasis on man-made traditions rather than on the pure and firm Word of Elohim. This seems to be a chronic problem in many religious circles even in our day. Sunday worship replaced the seventh day Sabbath. Christmas and Easter replaced the appointed feasts of YHVH such as Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. And the list goes on.

Even beyond the issue of Jewish handwashing traditions, Yeshua was using this as a teaching opportunity to instruct the Jews on the issues of the heart. Whether one eats with unwashed hands or not is of less importance to Elohim than the unwashed condition of the carnal human heart. Religion has made a fine art of addressing surface issues or gilding the proverbial “garbage can,” while overlooking the contents therein. This is what Yeshua was really addressing in this passage.

 

Eighteen  Attributes of a Demonic Spirit

Mark 5:1–20, The Gadarene demoniac.

This encounter between Yeshua and this demon-possessed individual teaches us about the characteristics of one who is tormented or even possessed by an evil, unclean spirit.

  • One with an unclean spirit is “unclean in thought and life” (Mark 5:2).
  • Such an individual may have a pre-occupation with things relating to death and dying (Mark 5:3).
  • They may possess superhuman strength thanks to the aid of the demon in them (Mark 5:4).
  • They may act wild, and unable to be restrained (Mark 5:4).
  • They may be prone to fits of shouting loudly (Mark 5:5), shrieking or making a shrill cry (Mark 9:18).
  • They may cut themselves, or resort to other acts of self-mutilation (Mark 5:5) or self destruction (e.g. burning oneself by fire, Matt 17:15; Mark 9:22), or attempts at drowning (Mark 9:22).
  • The demoniac may possess supernatural knowledge (Mark 5:7).
  • The demon can speak through the demonized person (Mark 5:7), or cry out (Mark 9:26).
  • A demonic spirit wants to possess or inhabit something; if not a human, then an animal (Mark 5:12), or a house, an objects like idols or books (Acts 19:19; Rev 13:15).
  • They may be clothed improperly or scantily (Mark 5:15).
  • They will not a possess a “right [sound, self-controlled, sober]” mind (Mark 5:15).
  • A demonic or an unclean spirit may cause convulsions or spasmodic contractions, bodily contortions within a person, or cause a person to be hurled to the ground (Mark 1:25; 9:18, 20), wallowing or rolling around on the ground (Mark 9:20).
  • Epileptic-type seizures or madness can be some symptoms of demon possession (Matt 17:15).
  • A demoniac may foam at the mouth (Mark 9:18, 20).
  • A demoniac may grind or gnash of the teeth (Mark 9:18)
  • A demonic spirit can cause one’s body to waste away, dry up or become rigid (Mark 9:18).
  • Demonic spirits can accompany people as they come into the congregation of YHVH (Mark 1:23; Luke 4:33).
  • A demonic spirit can make one to be mute or unable to speak (Mark 9:17).