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Text: Mark 16:17
The book of Mark chapter 16 verse 17 has been used by many so called men of God to acclaim for themselves what the bible has not given them such claim.
By rightly dividing the word of God through sincere study, Christians are contented and satisfied with the simple truth given to them from the pages of the scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15, Jude vs. 5).
The Church is the ground and pillar of truth – I Tim. 3:15; hence no Christian should live in darkness of not knowing the scriptures but rather be equipped to enlighten the world in the things of God.
(i) To understand what Mark chapter 16 teaches.
(ii) To discover the fallacies of some self-acclaimed men of God who see themselves as miracle or signs workers.
(iii) To be ready to defend the gospel of Christ at any point.
(iv) To be ready to live in FAITH and not by SIGHT)
To understand Mark 16:17, there is need to study the whole chapter.
Let reads Mark 16:1-19.
The key subject of Mark chapter 16 are:
(i) The resurrection of Jesus Christ – vs. 5.
(ii) The appearances – Vss. 9–14.
(iii) Unbelief – Vss. 11 – 14.
(iv) Jesus final commission – Vss. 15 – 16.
(v) The promise of performing signs – Vss. 17 – 18.
(vi) The ascension of Jesus – vs. 19.
Time will not permit us to dwell on other subjects in the chapter, hence our concentration on the main subject of the moment – “And These Signs Shall Follow Them That Believe” – Mark 16:17
What Are Signs?
In the scripture, this word generally refers to something addressed to the senses to attest the existence of a divine power.Miracles in the Old Testament were often signs (Exo. 4:8; 8:23). Several specific things were given as signs, such as rainbow (Gen. 9:12-13); some of the feasts (Exo. 13:9); the Sabbath (Exo. 31:13); and circumcision (Rom. 4:11). Often, extraordinary events were given as a sign to insure faith or demonstrate authority. When Moses would not believe God, his rod was turned into a serpent and his hand became leprous as signs of God’s divine commission (Exo. 4:1-8). Sometimes future events were given as present sign, as in the case of Ahaz (Isa. 7:14). When Christ was born, the place of His birth and His dress were to be signs of His identity to the Shepherds. When the Scribes and the Pharisees asked Jesus for a signs, He assured them that no sign was to be given them except the sign of Jonah, whose experience in the fish was to portray Christ’s burial and resurrection. Revelation tells that before Christ returns there will be signs in the heavens, in the stars, moon and sun.
In Mark 16:17, which signs were promised?
- They shall cast out devils
- They shall speak with new tongues
- They shall take up serpents
- and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.
- They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover
In applying the rules of Bible interpretation for the understanding of Mark 16:17-18, the rules demand:
Rule 1 – Who made the statement?
Rule 2 – To whom?
Rule 3 – And on what occasion?
In answering the above important questions
- Jesus made the statements
- To the Apostles
- On the occasion of their unbelief.
The promise of the signs was to follow who and for what purpose?
To give a current answer to the above questions, there is need to study the preceding verses.
Vs. 14 – From this verse to the conclusion of the book, the “eleven” (Judas having committed suicide)are the addressees of Jesus’ dialogue.
The eleven were the recipients of Jesus’ wrath for a reason not many seem to understand. It was not that they did not believe He had risen from the grave (Although this was in the back of their mind), as Peter and John has seen the empty tomb, which should have given at least to them evidence for believing in the resurrection. But there was “hardness of heart because they believed not them that had seen Him after He was risen”. Their problem was in understanding why Jesus would show Himself first to a woman (Mary Magdalene) and then to two others rather than to themselves.
Vs. 17-18 – “Them that believe”, is directed to those very ones who disbelieved in verse 11 – the eleven and no one else.
Many try to pervert the word of God by claiming this verse permits all “Christians” to accomplish these feats. The only way this would be remotely possible is to make the pronouns of verse 15 and 16 in the plural rather than the way they came from the sacred writers, in the singular.
The promise of the signs was limited to certain ones in the Apostolic Age who were given power to perform miracles in order that they might confirm the word of God.
Perhaps the plural “them” has for its antecedent not the singular “he” in verse 16 but the plural “them” in verse 14.
In verse 14 the Apostles are “unbraided for their unbelief because they believed not them which had seen Him after He had risen”. They are commanded to go and preach the gospel and assured that miraculous credentials would be given to “them who believe” in my name shall they cast outdevils, they shall speak with new tongues;
Vs. 18 “They shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.
The fulfillment of these promises in the book of Acts interprets what is here meant. Not everyone in the Church. The group of those who believed worked miracles. Only those on whom the Apostles had laid hands were empowered to work miracles. (See Acts 8:18, Rom. 1:18).
Worthy of notes: Signs – The miraculous signs would be for the confirmation of the message and messengers (See Jn. 3:2, Acts 15:12, Rom. 15:19, 2 Cor. 12:12, Heb. 2:3-41.
Speaking with new tongues (languages)
They would speak languages of men that they had never before studied. this promise was in the context of the great commission to evangelize the world. Therefore the gift of languages was for the purpose of evangelization. They would not have to spend many months in learning a new language in order to preach the gospel to a particular cultural group (See Acts 2:2-11; 10:46, 19:6; 1 Cor. 12:10.
Take up serpents (See Acts 28:5
If They drink any deadly things: The text says “If”. In other words, if the disciples enemies seek to kill them, they would not die from such murder plots. Neither would the disciples intentionally take up serpents or drink that which is deadly. The promise that is given here is reference to their protection, not in reference to the disciples proving their faith.
Lay hands on the sick (See Acts 3:6-8, 5:12-16; 9:40; 20:10-12)
Vs 20 ‘And “They” went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the words by the signs that followed. Amen.
God has finished His work through signs and miracles. In this present dispensation He gave us His words to accomplish His will towards the world. Everyone who draws towards Him must do so through faith, for without faith no one can please God.
The just shall live by faith – Heb. 10:38. True Christians walk by faith and not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7.
An Indoor Lecture Presented
By Brother Moses Akpan (Min.) On 6th December, 2015