Mark 16

These small group studies of the gospel of Mark contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Mark 16 Inductive Bible Study


I. The angel tells Mary and Mary Jesus is alive (1-8)
II. Later addition of Mark (9-20)

I. The angel tells Mary and Mary Jesus is alive (1-8)

Synoptic Gospels Cross-References

Matthew 27:57-66 – The tomb is made as secure as possible with guards and a seal.
Matthew 28:1-7 – The angel appears and the soldiers are scared to death.
Matthew 28:11-15 – The bribery of the soldiers.
Luke 24:1 – The women were bringing spices that they had prepared for Jesus’ body.
Matthew 16:21 – Jesus had told them ahead of time that He would die and be raised again.
Luke 24:10-12 – The disciples thought it was nonsense at the beginning.
Luke 24:13-35 – Jesus appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Luke 24:41-43 – Jesus ate in their presence.

Other Cross-References

1 Corinthians 15:1-19 – Jesus’ appeared to more than 500. If He didn’t arise our faith is worse than worthless.
1 Corinthians 15:20-28 – Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection. His resurrection shows that believers will arise again with a new body in the future.
Psalms 16:10 – The Holy One will not undergo decay.
Acts 2:29-36 – The preaching at Pentecost revolved around the resurrection.
Romans 1:4 – Jesus was declared the Son of God because of His resurrection.

Teaching Points


Here we are, the moment of truth. The event we are about to discuss is the culmination of the entire history of the world. It is in fact the crux of the entire Bible. It was alluded to all the way back in Genesis 3:15 and Genesis 12:2. Jesus Himself said that He would die and then rise again three days later (Matthew 16:21). Was this man from Nazareth the Son of God? Could He truly redeem the lost sinners of the world through His death? Were His words the truth from God? Could the life of this carpenter from a remote region of the Roman Empire really have any meaning for us nearly 2000 years later?

Throughout the Bible we see the repeated failures of man in vivid detail. Over and over again we fail God and fall far short of His standard. There seems to be no hope for mankind, unless this man from Nazareth who preaches hope and forgiveness can supply it.

What would have happened if Jesus hadn’t arose from the dead?

Nothing. If Jesus hadn’t arisen from the dead nothing would have happened. The disciples would have gone back to their jobs. The Jews would have continued exulting in their triumph. The story would have ended. The movement would have been crushed. The New Testament wouldn’t have been written. Churches wouldn’t have been established. We would not be here today. There would be no Bible studies. We would still be dead in our sin. All the world would be living in darkness, prisoners of sin and death, with no hope and no light.
But there is a far more important question than what would have happened. And that is what did happen?

1. On Sunday Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome came to anoint Jesus’ body. This shows the level of commitment among many of Jesus’ women followers. These two women are not necessarily an exhaustive list of the ladies who went to anoint Jesus. Anointing a dead body would not have been a pleasant task, but Jesus had done a lot for them and this was one way they could show their love and appreciation for Him.

2. They were questioning how they would move the stone – The stone is described as being “extremely large.” Even together they could not move it. Certainly the disciples could not move it away secretly without the soldiers noticing. But the stone had been miraculously rolled away by the angel (Matthew 28:2).

3. They are greeted by the angel – This was certainly not what they had expected. They did not go to the tomb to see if Jesus had arisen yet. This promise was driven far from their minds by the grief and sorrow they were facing at having seen their Lord brutally murdered in front of them.

4. The angel told them Jesus had risen – In Matthew 28:6 we see he told them that Jesus had risen just as He said. The angel is very straightforward and matter of fact. It is not a complicated thing. To the angel it is not surprising or amazing at all. Jesus’ resurrection is the most natural and expected outcome in the world. He even tells them not to be amazed. They should not be surprised. This feeling betrays their lack of faith and understanding in what Jesus had already told them.

5. The women are given an important task to tell the disciples what had happened – God appointed them as messengers of this great truth. Notice that God didn’t send angels to everyone. He sent angels to the women, but after that He sent people to tell people. This is a great privilege and a great responsibility. This job of taking telling others this great news is now ours. Are you doing it?

6. Comparison of Mark 16:8 and Matthew 28:8-9 – At first glance it seems like there could be a discrepancy. In Mark it says they didn’t tell anything to anyone and in Matthew it says that they quickly ran to report to the disciples what had happened. It is easily explained when you notice that the reason for not telling anyone in Mark 16:8 is fear. They were afraid to tell just anyone so on the way to the disciples they kept this to themselves. It doesn’t mean they never told anyone for as long as they lived, but at that moment they kept quiet until they reached the disciples, whom they reported it to. As to their emotions, it was a mixture of fear and joy and wonder and astonishment and many others.

Discussion Questions

What lessons do we learn from the resurrection?
Why is the greatest event in the history of the world mentioned so simply “He is risen?”
What implications does Jesus’ resurrection have? What meaning does it have?
How has it changed your life? What else in your life needs to be changed because Jesus is alive?
False Theories of the Resurrection and Evidences for the Resurrection

False theories of the resurrection
If an unbeliever would ask you to give them evidence for the resurrection what would you say? Is that a reasonable question?
What are the evidences for the resurrection? Why do you believe it?

Swoon theory-

This was a common theory several hundred years ago. It was never very viable and was based only on conjecture. The fact is that the centurions told Pilate Jesus was dead and they were experts in this kind of thing. The water and the blood is a testament to a ruptured heart. Joseph thought He was dead. John, who was watching, thought He was dead. Even if by some miracle, He had survived in a deep swoon the spices and cold stone and laying there for days wrapped tightly would have killed Him. And how could a weak, “almost dead” person role away a stone (that some say needed 20 men to roll) and then get past all the guards?

The disciples stole the body theory-

This also has no evidence. Firstly, is the question of would it be likely for the disciples to try this? No. They were in hiding and they were scared. They didn’t want to risk their lives for the purpose of spreading some dumb hoax. What would be the point even if they were successful? They didn’t gain anything. Because they ended up dying as martyrs they clearly believed Jesus had raised again. Secondly, even if they had attempted it would they have been able to succeed? They would have had to fight off and kill a band of rugged Roman soldiers. The idea that they were all sleeping is preposterous since the penalty for sleeping would be death. Thirdly, if they stole the body it is fairly likely the Jews would have been able to discover it later perhaps by offering money (since stealing the body would show lack of character) to them.

The hallucination theory-

Another theory is that the more than five hundred people Jesus appeared to all hallucinated. Again, this theory has no evidence and would be a bigger miracle than Jesus’ resurrection. It still doesn’t explain where Jesus’ body was.

Evidences of the resurrection-

Seal- The seal was the Roman way of saying, “Don’t mess with this!” There would have been a strict penalty if people were caught messing with the seal.

Stone- The stone was likely very large and needed at least a few and as many as twenty men to push aside. How could Jesus have done that in His weakened state? How could the disciples have done that without being noticed?

Guards – Rugged Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb. The Roman army was very strict and even minor offences were paid for by death. The Romans had no interest in the religious dispute. They were simply performing their duty, which was to guard the tomb from intrusion. In the process of trying to prevent the resurrection they actually gave much stronger evidence that the resurrection was true.
Empty Tomb – Perhaps now it is hard to say if the tomb is empty because we don’t really know where it is. But at that time the Jews and the Romans knew where the tomb was. The disciples were preaching that Jesus was raised from the dead. If He was still in the tomb, the Jews would have produced the body to crush that idea.

Grave clothes – The position of the grave clothes helped convince John that Jesus had arisen. Apparently they were in such a position that Jesus’ body just went out of them and left them undisturbed. Also if the body had been stolen away, why leave the grave clothes.

No body – No body has ever been produced and you can bet the Jews wanted to produce one. They were willing to pay Judas 30 pieces of silver, how much more would they have paid for information about Jesus’ body!
Disciples’ cowardice – The disciples were mostly uneducated fishermen. They were scared for their own lives. They viewed the “Jesus experiment” as being over. They wouldn’t have even attempted to steal Jesus’ body for the purpose of hoaxing others. They themselves needed convincing of Jesus’ resurrection.

Enemies never refuted the resurrection with any evidence or even logical explanation – Christians preached from the months after Jesus’ resurrection until now without any logical alternative ever being offered to the resurrection. There is none.

Transformed lives of the disciples – These cowards ended up giving their lives for the belief that Jesus raised again from the dead. Where did they get this boldness? Why would they give their life for a lie?

Eye-witnesses – Not only were the disciples eye-witnesses, but there were more than 500 others. Now we can’t ask them, but when the New Testament was being written most of them were still alive and could be interviewed about Jesus’ resurrection. If they hadn’t seen it the NT would never have gotten that popular.

Worshiped on Sunday – Devout Jews began worshiping on Sunday. Why? The resurrection occurred then. It was the Lord’s Day. If Jesus hadn’t arisen they would have stuck to the traditional Sabbath.

Important Questions to Consider About the Resurrection

What meaning does Christianity have without the resurrection?

Nothing special. Without the resurrection Christianity would be reduced to a number of moral principles. Even those would have to be followed with doubt as one wonders about the truth of the teachings having come from someone who didn’t tell the truth. There wouldn’t be Christianity without the resurrection. Judaism would have continued as it had.

In what way does the resurrection set Christianity apart from other religions?

Jesus was the only religious leader that ever arose from the dead. Buddha is dead. Mohammed is dead. Confucius is dead. Joseph Smith is dead. All of these guys are still in the tomb as is Marx and Mao. But Jesus isn’t. It’s the proof that Jesus is of God while the other religions are just man-made.

Why is the resurrection so important to believers?

It shows that Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf was effective. If Jesus didn’t arise He would have been just another sinner who couldn’t pay for His sins, much less ours. The resurrection is also a symbol of the new life we have in Christ when we believe in Him. If Jesus didn’t arise then we are still in our sins with no hope to solve the sin problem. It’s also important because it shows that the curse will not last forever.

Death is a product of sin and the curse. It won’t always exist.

What implication does the resurrection have for our future?

Jesus’ resurrection gives the hope that we too will be resurrected one day. Read cross-reference. Jesus was the first fruits, the first of many to be resurrected. Just as He received a new and perfect body so shall we. We can all look forward to the day when we will not be affected by sin any longer.

The main point of the resurrection is that it proves Jesus is indeed the Son of God and it proves that everything else He taught and did were true. See Matthew 12:39-40. This was the sign that Jesus hung all of His claims on. If Jesus didn’t arise, at best He is a good teacher and at worst He is a deluded liar. So remember the physical, historical fact that Jesus did arise from the dead, but most importantly remember its spiritual implications.

Implications to Us:
John 11:25, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 1 Corinthians 6:14, Romans 6:4

II. Later addition of Mark (9-20)

Discussion Questions

Why are these verses in brackets?
Were these verses in the original gospel of Mark? What evidences can you give for or against their inclusion?
Why are two separate endings mentioned here?
How did we get the Bible we are holding in our hands now? If an unbeliever tells you the popular idea that the Bible has changed many times throughout history and what we have now is not the original Bible and is therefore untrustworthy, what will you tell them?
Is it reliable? Does this questionable ending of Mark cast doubt on the reliability of the Bible? Why or why not?

Macarthur’s Sermon on Mark 16:9-20.

Teaching Points

Review of how we get the Bibles we are holding today

1. More than 500 manuscripts of Old Testament.
2. More than 5000 manuscripts of New Testament.
3. More than 8000 manuscripts of Latin Vulgate.
4. More than 250 Syriac manuscripts.
5. Records of early church fathers who wrote letters and extensively quoted the New Testament (many scholars say that the entire New Testament can be reconstructed from their quotes.)
6. Process of copying.
7. Process of reconstruction.
8. Process of translation.

Is the ending in brackets the true ending of Mark?

There is a lot of evidence which suggests it was an addition added by believers after the time of Mark because they thought Mark’s gospel ended suddenly.

1. The two best and most important manuscripts, Sinaticus and Vaticanus, both end at verse 8, as do most other of the most ancient manuscripts.
2. Two church fathers, Eusebius and Jerome, wrote in the fourth century that almost all Greek NT manuscripts end at verse 8.
3. Internal evidence:
A. The style is different than Mark’s.
B. The transition from verse 8 to verse 9 is very awkward.
C. There seems to be no need to say that seven demons were cast out of Mary here rather than when she is first introduced in this story.
D. Verse 7 indicates that if Mark was going to record appearances of Jesus he would have included the ones in Galilee not in Jerusalem.
E. Eighteen words are used here that are never used in the rest of Mark.
F. The title “Lord Jesus” in verse 19 is not used elsewhere in Mark.
G. Where did this come from then? It would appear it came from someone or a group of people who thought Mark’s ending was too abrupt and they put together an account from the various other gospels.

It should be noted that with the possible exception of verses 17-18 everything else comes from the different gospel accounts and is true. So this not a major doctrinal argument and there are no major contradictions here whichever side you come down on. Some have said that Mark’s original ending was lost. Others have commented that something can’t be lost unless it was known to begin with. It has been speculated that Mark and Luke collaborated and discussed that Luke’s account completely discussed the post-resurrection events and therefore Mark didn’t need to. Others speculate that Peter was Mark’s source in Rome and he was executed at this point so Mark couldn’t finish. There are many more speculations, but what is the point. We don’t know for sure. But we do know what is written. And I believe we have everything God wanted us to have. If He wanted us to have something else, we would. It could be a reminder that we don’t need to help God. He is very capable of spreading His Word how He sees fit.


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