Mark 16:18

See this raised as an objection to the truth of Christianity on Deist websites. They ask why believers are not able to heal the sick in the way that the scripture says they will.

Mark 16:18New International Version (NIV)

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.”

Ask them how they know this does not happen anywhere in the world.
It likely does, millions of times; it’s a big world. :cool:

Even Jesus said to the apostles that if they find no believers or ppl who will listen to them, they should “shake the dust from their feet” and leave that town or city. So, our faith has something to do with our ability to receive healing.

This also comes to mind: there are none so blind as those who will not see. It is a popular phrase similar to Jeremiah 5:21

Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.


The majority of Biblical scholars (both Catholic and protestant) do not believe that verses 9-20 of Mark 16 are authentic. There is strong evidence that they were added much later. Most modern Bibles (including the Catholic NAB and protestant NIV) have a disclaimer to this effect, and these verses are often arranged in a manner that sets them apart from the rest of the Gospel.

I think, it is incorrect for a Catholic to call a part of Scripture “unauthentic”. :mad: It is part of the Church canon, we are all supposed to believe it.

The more correct statement would be: “these verses were possibly added to the text later, by another author”.

This does not entail these verses were untrue or not divinely inspired. All the Gospels, it seems, were reduced into writing from oral tradition. Which was divinely inspired and correct in substantials.

As to the healing… Yes, I agree, with Mimi. It is obviously what first Christians were doing. I guess most of us cannot do this because of our lack of faith, and the lack of faith of the sick people.

The Gospel of Mark is part of the Church Canon. Verses 9-20, however, are not part of the Gospel of Mark.

The more correct statement would be: “these verses were possibly added to the text later, by another author”.

If they were added after the close of the Apostolic Age (and they were) then they are considered private revelation and (like all private revelation) are not held binding upon any Catholic. Under such circumstances these passages cannot rightly be called Scripture. They are correctly called “a gloss.”

People don’t get to just come along and add to the Gospels. Just because people got it wrong for a long time (accepting these verses as Scripture) doesn’t mean it’s right to continue this misguided practice.

It’s like that wacky “promise” (the so-called “sabbatine privilege”) on the back of many Brown Scapulars. It is completely bogus and should have never been put there in the first place. The Caremlite Orders are doing what they can to encourage people who make those scapulars to leave the reverse blank (or have an unadorned cross). But you can still buy Brown Scapulars with that wacky promise. That doesn’t make the “promise” any more authentic than these so-called verses of Mark’s Gospel.

David, I ask in all sincerity how you feel about the many scholars who are of the opinion that that 2 Peter was written by a protoge of Peter a as late as 120 AD?

I’m not challenging you and consider you extremely intelligent and a very lucid writer. I’d like to know what you think about it now as there are lots of scholars who agree on the late date, and how you would react if it was determined beyond doubt that 2 Peter was written after the last Apostle died.


2Peter is part of the Canon of Scripture, and I accept it as such, regardless of who/when it came about. But if somebody could show good evidence that the doxology at the end was added much later then I would not accept that portion as Scripture.

The Gospel of Mark is also part of the Canon of Scripture. But that doesn’t include bits that were tacked onto the end centuries later.

The reason I don’t ever bother trying to explain or defend Mark 16:18 is because it is not part of the Gospel of Mark. It’s a gloss.

From the RSV-CE
note: the footnote

MK 16:
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Mag′dalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Jesus Commissions the Disciples
14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The Ascension of Jesus
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.**(“”)]c]

(emphasis mine)

*Footnotes *
*B. *Mark 16:20Other ancient authorities omit verses 9–20. Some ancient authorities conclude Mark instead with the following: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.
C. [/FONT]16.9-20 This passage is regarded as inspired and canonical scripture even if not written by Mark. As it is missing from some important manuscripts, it is possible that Mark did not write it. On the other hand, he would hardly have left his Gospel unfinished at verse 8. Many think that the original ending was lost at a very early date and that this ending was composed at the end of the apostolic period to take its place.

As an aside, if this text wasn’t decreed canonical, this section would not be here for us to read. Marks Gospel would have ended at v 8 and it wouldn’t matter what anybody theorized later. If we start picking and choosing now what we will or won’t accept, then watch out…

To encourage everyone (believers and non-believers): God has a plan that we humans cannot fathom. Just because we don’t know His plan does not mean it’s not true and working today. God gave us the ability to heal but even the Apostles couldn’t perform miracles all the time. It’s part of His plan.

I know of a woman faced with a very difficult pregnancy who was told her baby was stillborn. Imagine the pain and possible anger towards God. Instead, she turned to her husband’s faith (she was raised Christian but on her way to becoming a Catholic now). Planning to have the stillborn child removed medically, the medical team discovered that not only was the baby alive but in very good health for it developmental stage. Later, she was told that her baby may need critical surgery performed immediately after birth or he/she might die. Again, an opportunity to despair that she turned into full faith in Christ. A few months later, the doctor discovered the apparent “problem” had corrected itself and the baby was doing fine. We were all praying for her and her baby, along with her husband, and she came to believe as God worked His miracles on her unborn. Praise God! Miracles are one of the ways God reminds us “I Am.”

They’ve never witnessed it. I’d doubt they would believe it too if it happened in front of them. What makes them think it would be touted in all the newspapers?

Jesus healed and then told those people strictly not to tell anyone. They did, but whose to say that there are not those who have not? Plus, I do recall many stories in the church of healings. There are some churches that have whole huge shrines of crutches and other mementos brought there to share and commemorate their miracle. I guess that is just too mundane for them? What about documented Lourdes miracles? I think they will never find something that will ever be enough for them.


Part of the canon, portion of scripture, gloss… Would you consider it the inspired word of God or not?

I ask because I have discussed this with people who were adamant on both sides and I have not formed an opinion either way.


17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

This seems to be very important, and I imagine it is the truth, since Jesus is the one saying it, so…in our world today, it seems there are not many people who are true believers.

On the other hand, wouldnt doing some of these things be akin to testing the Lord?

I take a two-fold approach. 1) Physical healings do continue to happen. Many of them are the subjects of saintly intercession which is scientifically scrutinized with regard to whether there is evidence a saint should be canonized; 2) There is a certain “Rosetta Stone,” if you will, in Scripture with regard to physical healings. They are to be understood in an unseen sense. Jesus performs physical miracles so that the audience will believe him when he says he has healed someone spiritually. Perhaps the best example of this is the healing of the paralytic through the ceiling. In front of a skeptical audience, he tells the man “your sins are forgiven.” The audience does not believe. So Jesus says get a load of this, and specifically says the purpose of the physical healing is to prove that spiritual healing had occurred:*But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”—he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” (Mark 2:10-11)*In other words, the ultimate healing Jesus performed was spiritual. The physical healing was only performed to prove the more important healing. The Church’s primary healing is no different. Every time someone earnestly receives Confession from Christ through the priest, they are healed, their spiritual paralysis is healed. This is a miracle also, and the Church performs it with bountiful frequency.

Objectors never see healings because they don’t associate with believers who do.

Scientific Evidence for Miracles

I disagree with that, when I was in my late teens, early 20s, I was not in the least interested in the church, I was living a totally secular lifestyle, dating, partying, etc. Even back then, when I heard of miraculous healings, or saw them on tv, I knew there was something supernatural going on with them, I wasnt sure what it was, but I definitely could not blow them off, I think many people today fall into this category, they see or hear about these healings, but they just dont know where its coming from, they do recognize they are supernatural though.

Just a note of a thought on the subject: Because there are fake “Christian” healings, no doubt this has tainted the minds of those doubters that don’t wish to do their homework and really dig deep into the subject of Christianity. If it looks ridiculous on the surface to them, then they tend think it stands for everything “Christian” and that what they saw is what *all *Christians really believe in. Its a type of prejudice that I’ve actually encountered.

No. When the Church says that the Gospel of Mark is the inspired Word of God, She means the Gospel in its original form. This would not include content added centuries later.

The Ignatius Study Bible says:

"Ancient manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel differ in their conclusions after 16:8. Two important fourth-century manuscripts simply end at 16:8. Other versions of Mark include a “short ending” of two sentences after 16:8. The majority of Marcan manuscripts, however, include this “longer ending” (16:9-20). According to the Council of Trent, the canon of Scripture corresponds to everything included in the Latin Vulgate edition (Sess. 4, Dec. 1). This official translation includes 16:9-20 as part of the inspired Gospel."

Bolding emphasis is mine.

Thanks Jeffrey,
i believe this is a reference to
DS 1504. See Latin at

Or in English using the old numbering system of DS 784

Books of the Old Testament:…
Books of the New Testament: …

If anyone, however, should not accept the said books as sacred and canonical, entire with all their parts, as they were wont to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate edition, and if both knowingly and deliberately he should condemn the aforesaid traditions let him be anathema. Let all, therefore, understand in what order and in what manner the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the confession of Faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church.

End quote.

Personally, when speaking with an atheist, I would prefer to defend the accuracy of the passage in question, when correctly understood, rather then take, in my opinion, the harder ( and in my opinion inaccurate)
road of claiming that the verses in question do not belong there.

The atheist seemingly “demands” to be forced into the Church using logical proofs and miraculous shows. God usually does not work that way.

On the other hand, the atheist cannot accurately use this passage as proof of a failed prophecy. Jesus says that He is not going to give the faithless generation (of His day) any proof other than the sign of Jonah. He also says not to put God to a foolish test when Satan confront Him in the dessert. When some modern preachers do exactly that they should expect to get bit by the snakes. God is not about making shows for their own sake. Yet, the miracles that God does do, Lourdes, the Saints, etc, are many.

The passages means that God will save us. When it is for the glory of God that He save us temporarily in this life, He will. When He finds it fitting that for His glory that we suffer martyrdom in this life and be saved with everlasting life in heaven, then He does that.


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