There are people who question if the ending of the gospel of Mark should be in the Bible. Mark 16:9-20 has people holding that it is not part of the Bible, others say it is, and still others say it belong in the Bible but not at the end of Mark?
Liberals have for a century to remove this from scriptures and if they can’t, they will undermine it and discredit as human ingenuity. Many of these are people who supports all types of revisions to biblical texts to give value to their dispensationalism and its’ evil twin, cessationism. The worst of them was Thomas Jefferson who put a translation of the Bible with all the miracles stripped out of the gospels!
In the late 1800’s, there was a push to remove the passage from the Bible. This was supported by men like B.B. Warfield and C. I. Scofield, the writer of a very popular study bible. Today, many fundamentalists (mostly independent baptists) repeat the claims. However, Scofield is not the Apostle Paul nor is he Peter.
Understanding the issue with Mark 16:9-20?
The real challenge is we have different scripts that some of them have it and some of them don’t. Even more challenging is a few of them have a completely different ending. In other words, this is a question of which scripts you use.
Two of the ones that do not have it is the Sinaitic and the Vatican. However, what critics do not say is the Vatican and possible the Sinaitic has the space on the scroll for the rest of the text. This could be that the scribes knew about existence of the rest of the text and for whatever reason, did not write it out in the translation. It is also possible they had a script that ended with verse 8.
Justin Martyr knew about it and included in his diatessaron. His spiritual son, Tatian, also spoke of it as well. We also know that Irenaeus quoted it in a letter to a friend. These are three very influential people in the early church that all believed the text was part of the holy scriptures.
Most manuscripts that have another ending are later. The earliest one with the ending other than the one commonly accepted is in the fifth century and even Jerome rejected it in this translation from Greek to Latin.
Now, we are faced with a hard question: why do some hold to a longer ending that others? Liberals have made it an a life passion to discredit it to the point that they are willing to make revision to the interpretation of the Greek. They have tried to remove γάρ. In the Greek, this is a Conjunction and Mark 16:8 ends with it. In other words, according to the Greek, there is more to the text.
These liberals go into heretical waters to show disdain for the ending of Mark. They actually use verse 7 to say that Jesus will return to Galilee at the sea. There is no way this is eschatological in nature and referring to the Second Coming. There is no connection with the παρουσία or the appearing of the Lord.
Why is this passage so Controversial?
It all comes down to what is known as thaumaturgy. The question is not about when it appears or even who wrote it but it is about the content. Many scholars do not like the idea of miracles as confirmation of the gospel. They want to reduce the gospel to an intellectual acquiescence. It makes people who hold to this view uneasy that speaking in tongues, casting out devils, supernatural provision, and divine healing are the marks of gospel proclamation.
In the mind of the intellectual, people should come to saving knowledge because they were convinced by the scholar presenting a compelling case. They see apologetics as winning a debate. There is a desire to rest on reasoned arguments from scholarship, not trust the Holy Spirit to back up the gospel with healings and deliverance.
If the acceptance of Mark 16:9-20 comes into truth, they no longer have the ability to rest on their careful study of academia. The gospel is no longer a matter of talk and discussion but it is one of power. Either Jesus is the Savior who heals the sick and delivers people from demons or He is not. The content of the passage in question is a ultimatum of where the rubber meets the road.
This is not easy for those who try and worship their intellect and call it worshipping the Lord.
So who did write it?
In my opinion, it was written by Peter. I believe this because all of Mark was really the story of Peter. Mark was just writing down what Peter told him. I believe this passage was written directly by the Apostle. It seems to be in harmony with the activity we see in Acts 2 during Pentecost. We also find the style similar to what we know as 1 Peter. (2 Peter is one of five books that the authorship is questionable)
This makes more sense that holding that Mark wrote it or even Ariston that we know nothing about besides a marginal note that is a very late manuscript. Some believe that he is the same person with the name mentioned by Papias which was mentored by the Apostle John. The problem with this is Mark 16:9-20 is nothing like anything we read that has John as the author.
Therefore, if it was not Ariston and it was not Mark; we are left with Peter directly giving authorship to the passage. In truth, the idea that this is some type of an epilogue to the testimony of the Apostle is bizarre. I would content that Peter wanted to make sure the Great Commission was his own testimony and it was said exactly as he wished for it to be said.
The only person besides Mark that could have placed it at the end of the testimony of the gospel is Peter himself.