Monthly Archives: April 2015

No Sabbath-worship for Christians

Image result for Christian worship clip art public domain

(image courtesy )

By Spencer D Gear

Is it ever possible to get through to Christians that there is no need to keep the Saturday Sabbath? Or, to put it another way, are all of the Bible-believing Christians who go to worship on Sunday contravening the Scriptures? I’ve had discussions online and in person with people who are Seventh-Day Adventists who push and push for Sabbath worship. See this example of one of my encounters: Sunday or Saturday worship for Christians?

I was engaged in another such discussion online with a Sabbath-keeping Christian. These are some of his statements:

In commending Jim Parker’s post (See Appendix), I wrote:[1] Acts 20:7 states, ‘On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight’ (NIV). A response was, ‘You should know that some new Bible versions translate Acts 20:7, “On the SATURDAY NIGHT, the disciples came together…”’[2]

My reply was:[3]

One of the foremost N T Greek grammarians of the 20th century was the Dr A T Robertson. He focusses on the issues in Acts 20:7. This is from A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (1930. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, pp 338-340, available at:,

Acts 20:7 [Greek characters deleted & transliterated]

Upon the first day of the week (en de miai twn sabbatwn). The cardinal – miai used here for the ordinal protei (Mark 16:9) like the Hebrew ehadh as in Mark 16:2; Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1 and in harmony with the Koiné’š idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 671). Either the singular (Mark 16:9) — sabbatou or the plural — sabbatwn as here was used for the week (sabbath to sabbath). For the first time here we have services mentioned on the first day of the week though in 1 Corinthians 16:2 it is implied by the collections stored on that day. In Revelation 1:10 the Lord‘s day seems to be the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the grave. Worship on the first day of the week instead of the seventh naturally arose in Gentile churches, though John 20:26 seems to mean that from the very start the disciples began to meet on the first (or eighth) day. But liberty was allowed as Paul makes plain in Romans 14:5.

When we were gathered together (sunegmenown hemown). Genitive absolute, perfect passive participle of — sunagw to gather together, a formal meeting of the disciples. See this verb used for gatherings of disciples in Acts 4:31; Acts 11:26; Acts 14:27; Acts 15:6, Acts 15:30; Acts 19:7, Acts 19:8; 1 Corinthians 5:4. In Hebrews 10:25 the substantive  — episunagwgen is used for the regular gatherings which some were already neglecting. It is impossible for a church to flourish without regular meetings even if they have to meet in the catacombs as became necessary in Rome. In Russia today the Soviets are trying to break up conventicles of Baptists. They probably met on our Saturday evening, the beginning of the first day at sunset. So these Christians began the day (Sunday) with worship. But, since this is a Gentile community, it is quite possible that Luke means our Sunday evening as the time when this meeting occurs, and the language in John 20:19 “it being evening on that day the first day of the week” naturally means the evening following the day, not the evening preceding the day.

To break bread (klasai arton). First aorist active infinitive of purpose of klaw The language naturally bears the same meaning as in Acts 2:42, the Eucharist or the Lord‘s Supper which usually followed the Agape. See note on 1 Corinthians 10:16. The time came, when the Agape was no longer observed, perhaps because of the abuses noted in 1 Corinthians 11:20. Rackham argues that the absence of the article with bread here and its presence (ton arton) in Acts 20:11 shows that the Agape is referred to in Acts 20:7 and the Eucharist in Acts 20:11, but not necessarily so because ton arton may merely refer to arton in Acts 20:7. At any rate it should be noted that Paul, who conducted this service, was not a member of the church in Troas, but only a visitor.

Discoursed (dielegeto). Imperfect middle because he kept on at length.

Intending (mellow). Being about to, on the point of.

On the morrow (tei epaurion). Locative case with hemerai understood after the adverb epaurion If Paul spoke on our Saturday evening, he made the journey on the first day of the week (our Sunday) after sunrise. If he spoke on our Sunday evening, then he left on our Monday morning.

Prolonged his speech (Pareteinen ton logon). Imperfect active (same form as aorist) of parateinw old verb to stretch beside or lengthwise, to prolong. Vivid picture of Paul‘s long sermon which went on and on till midnight (mechri mesonuktiou). Paul‘s purpose to leave early next morning seemed to justify the long discourse. Preachers usually have some excuse for the long sermon which is not always clear to the exhausted audience.

Therefore, Dr Robertson, based on his understanding of the Greek grammar, disagrees with the view you espoused here.

 A.T. Robertson

Dr A T Robertson (image courtesy


What kind of reply could I expect to this? This was the beginning of his reply (you can check out the rest by following the endnote):

Thanks for joining us. “The man who speaks first seems right until another answers him”, so I’d like to answer Mr. Robertson.

For the first time here we have services mentioned on the first day of the week…”

There are no “services” mentioned here, but one post-Sabbath “get together” (the subjective implication is that this was some official, precedent-setting event) which took place as the Sabbath sun set and the beginning of the first day of the week began – what we would refer to as “Saturday evening”. Mr. R is attempting to use what he knows is an evening meeting as Biblical justification for the practice of Sunday morning church observance.

…though in 1 Corinthians 16:2 KJV it (church observance on the first day of the week) is implied by the collections stored on that day.”

All honest scholars know that 1 Corinthians 16:2 KJV means “in storage at home” and not the ever popular but false teaching of “in storage in a collection plate at church on Sunday morning”.[4]

Note what he does:

1. He relegates Dr A T Robertson to Mr Robertson. Dr Robertson was an eminent Greek NT scholar of the 20th century who wrote a 1454 page grammar of the Greek NT, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1914. New York: Hodder & Stoughton; Internet Archive, University of Toronto).

2. He is a KJV only man.

3. He is pro-Sabbath-keeping, so listening to Dr Robertson’s exegesis was not on his agenda. It was a waste of time even raising it.

From Saturday to Sunday worship

Image result for clipart Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy public domain

I responded to this person’s promotion of the Sabbath:[5]

Christian historian, the late Martin Hengel, wrote of ‘the transfer of the celebration of divine worship from the sabbath to the Lord’s day, which is already demonstrable in Paul, is a partial analogy’ (2000:119). Hengel particularly referred to 1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7ff; Rev. 1:10 to support this claim (Hengel 2000:281, n. 481).

These verses do not state in any way that indicates that these early Christians were meeting and worshipping on the wrong day of the week. Not a word of pro-Saturday Sabbath worship is mentioned:

  • 1 Cor. 16:2: ‘On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come’ (ESV).
  • Acts 20:7: ‘On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight’ (ESV).
  • Rev. 1:10: ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet’ (ESV).

Christians are not to observe days and even Sabbath days according to the following Scriptures: Romans 14:5ff, Galatians 4:9-11; 5:1-15 and Col. 2:16-17. These Scriptures indicate that the promotion of Sabbath-keeping is contrary to these biblical injunctions.

Therefore, exaltation of Saturday Sabbath worship is not in accord with NT Christianity.

Here is some historical information about Lord’s Day, Sunday, worship:

See the article, ‘Is the Sabbath required for Christians?

In the early second century vague references to observing the “Lord’s Day”–Sunday–began to appear. Then the voices for Sunday worship grew more strident. Ignatius of Asia Minor and Barnabas of Alexandria both condemned Sabbath-keeping. Although considered Gnostic heresy, Marcion’s anti-Sabbath views were widely promulgated throughout the churches. By 150, Justin Martyr clearly indicated that the day of the sun was the day of rest for Christians. Sunday worship had become a widely accepted practice among these people who professed to follow Christ (“What did the early church Believe and Preach after Jesus’ death?” Available from: http://www.biblestud…istianity1.html).

‘There is a series of articles by Bob Deffinbaugh that refutes the promotion of the Sabbath for Christians and supports the view that New Covenant believers meet for worship on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day. See:

  1. The Great Sabbath Controversy“;
  2. The Lord of the Sabbath“;
  3. The Meaning of the Sabbath“;
  4. The Sabbath Controversy in the Gospels“;
  5. Super-Sabbath: Israel’s Land and its Lord“;
  6. The Sabbath in Apostolic Preaching and Practice“.

Keep the Ten Commandments #

The predicted reply came, ‘To the contrary, we are to observe the Ten Commandments which are written on the hearts of New Covenant Christians, and if not, then which of the Ten are we at liberty to freely break?’[6]

My rejoinder was:

Where does it say that in the NT? Where are we told to ‘remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy’ in the NT?

A requirement to keep the Sabbath of Exodus 20:8 for NT believers would conflict with Colossians 2:16-17, ‘Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come but the substance belongs to Christ’ (ESV).[7]

He could not let it lie there, so he was back again:

Thus saith the Lord Jesus, “pray that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath day”.  He fully expected His people to continue observing the Sabbath when the Romans came in 66 A.D. else He would have never told them to pray such a prayer. Before you answer, “But that was because the gates to Jerusalem would have been locked”, do not ignore the previous verses where we find Jesus commanding the whole of Judea, not just those in Jerusalem, to pray about not having to flee on the Sabbath, and there were no gates around Judea.

Along with the Sabbath commandment, every other one of the Ten Commandments is repeated in the N.T.  It is a historical fact that the change from Sabbath to Sunday was made my man and happened over a period of centuries, and is not found anywhere in Scripture. If you have a verse which you believe does command such a change, I’d be happy to study it.

BTW, Colossians is speaking in the context of the ceremonial law of offerings and sacrifices (meat offerings, drink offerings, moon observances, Jewish “sabbath” feast days which are called such in Leviticus 23, etc.)  Colossians is speaking of the “law that was against us” and Deuteronomy 31:26 KJV says that law was the Law of Moses which contained ceremonies and sacrifices.  Paul would never teach that the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments no longer existed any more than he would say that “thou shalt not kill” no longer existed.[8]

I replied:[9]

That is not an answer to what I asked at #306, ‘Where are we told to “remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy” in the NT?’

In Col 2:16, the three terms, festival, new moon, and sabbath often occur together in the OT (see the LXX of Hos 2:13; Ezek 45:17; 1 Chron 23:31; 2 Chron 2:3; 31:3). To keep these ‘holy days’ was evidence for OT Israelites that they obeyed God’s law. What was happening at Colossae was the keeping of these holy days for ‘the elemental spirits of the world’ (Col 2:8).

Therefore, Paul’s instruction was: ‘Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath’ (Col 2:16). To require that Christians keep the Sabbath is to do what Paul instructed not to do – to pass judgment on the need to keep the Sabbath for NT believers.

I will not fall for the judgment line that NT Christians should keep the OT Sabbath. That is a passing of judgment that does not meet with the Lord’s approval.

The response was predictable:

In answer to #306, the Fourth commandment is not explicitly repeated verbatim in the N. T., but I find it curious that you demand of me an explicit text which repeats the Fourth commandment verbatim to support the Sabbath in the N. T. while you exempt yourself from such austerity, seeing that you know full well that there is absolutely no commandment or directive in the N. T. authorizing a change from the seventh day to the first day – this change that you claim has taken place is based not on anything explicit, but solely on what you think is implied by John 20:19, Acts 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 16:2.

OK, you still haven’t explained to me why Jesus told His followers who would decades later have to flee from Judea (around which there were no gates) to pray that their flight would not have to take place on the Sabbath day if He did not expect that His followers would still be observing the Sabbath.

Also, why do you force Paul to refer to the weekly Sabbath in Colossians 2:14-17 KJV when the preponderance of evidence suggests he was referring to the yearly sabbath Feast Days of the Law of Moses?  According to Paul’s own words:

  • Paul says what was blotted out was “against us” which Deuteronomy 31:26 KJV tells us was the ceremonial Law of Moses, not God’s Law written by His finger.
  • Paul says this handwriting of Moses was nailed “to His Cross” – you can nail paper books all day long but you can’t nail stone to anything.
  • The ceremonial Law of Moses dealt with “meats, drinks, new moons, holy days and “sabbath days” (yearly “Feast Days” according to Leviticus 23), while God’s Law written by His finger in stone dealt with no such ceremonial laws.
  • Though the yearly ceremonial Feast Day “sabbaths” of the Law of Moses were indeed a shadow of Christ’s mission, the weekly Sabbath of creation was not shadow of anything – it was created as a memorial to Creation when all was light.

By insisting that Paul refers to the weekly Sabbath in Colossians 2:16 KJV, you are forcing an interpretation to support your position that the weekly Sabbath has been done away with, when the preponderance of evidence suggest that Paul is not speaking of the weekly Sabbath at all, but of the yearly ceremonial sabbath Feast Days, which were nailed to the Cross.  At best, we should agree that it is unclear if Paul meant to teach that the weekly Sabbath was part of what he said was nailed to the Cross and allow other Scriptures to decide the issue.  Such as the fact that Jesus expected His followers everywhere to be keeping the Sabbath decades into the future because He commanded them to pray that they would not have to flee from Judea on that day.  What say you?[10]

The New Covenant makes the Old Covenant obsolete

(image courtesy covenantsovereign)

This was my final reply to this resistant KJV Sabbath-keeping legalist.[11]

The apostle Paul made it clear that the Old Covenant was superseded by the New Covenant: ‘For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (Rom 8:3-4 ESV).

Hebrews 8 is clear that God promised for the houses of Israel and Judah that a new covenant was coming (Heb 8:8-12 cited from Jer 31:31-34). What did that mean for the Old Covenant? ‘In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away’ (Heb 8:13).

The obvious conclusion was that the requirements of the OT Law which were now abolished meant that the OT sabbath was also abolished because it was ‘obsolete’ and was to ‘vanish away). Therefore, there is no need for the NT to say, ‘Thou shalt not worship on the Sabbath’ because that law from Sinai had been made obsolete because of the cross of Christ. Golgotha and Christ’s shed blood made sure a new covenant without OT legal requirements came into effect. Since the OT law is obsolete, to enforce OT Sabbath-keeping is to legalistically force on people what the New Covenant abolished.

What do we find in the NT? People like the apostle John could say, ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day’ (Rev 1:10). There are significant reasons why early Christians worshipped on the first day of the week and not the Saturday Sabbath, the most important being that the first day of the week was the one on which Jesus rose from the dead.

The early church confirmed that the Christians met on the Lord’s Day and not the Saturday Sabbath.

  • The Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, early 2nd cent), ‘But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure’ (ch 14:1).
  • The Epistle of Barnabas (ca. AD 130), ‘He says to them, Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure [Isaiah 1:13]. You perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens’ (ch 15).
  • Tertullian (b. ca. AD 160), ‘It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnal circumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary….. Whence it is manifest that the force of such precepts was temporary, and respected the necessity of present circumstances; and that it was not with a view to its observance in perpetuity that God formerly gave them such a law’ (An Answer to the Jews, ch 4). Who was Tertullian addressing about the abolition of the old law and its temporary Sabbath? Jews!

In your response to me, you seem to be missing a fundamental: The Old Covenant has been superseded by the New Covenant. This means that the OT law has been abolished, made obsolete, vanished away and has been replaced by the New Covenant in Christ. When did these New Covenant Christians meet for worship? The first day of the week, the Lord’s Day.

But there’s a another fundamental that we must not forget: All of life is worship to the glory of God! (John 4:21-23)

Appendix A

Image result for New Covenant clipart public domain(image courtesy Polyvore)


Jim Parker[12] provided this excellent rebuttal of the statement: “We keep the Sabbath in the same way Jesus and the apostles did”.

Do you do all of these?

EX 16:29 Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Don’t travel on the Sabbath. A Sabbath’s journey was limited to approximately one mile.

EX 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

1. Don’t you or anyone in your household do any work on the Sabbath.

2. It also includes animals which have been replaced by cars, trucks, tractors, buses, airplanes, trains, etc., So don’t work and don’t use any sort of motorized vehicle on the Sabbath. (Which means you don’t drive to whatever meeting you might attend on Saturday.)

EX 31:14 ” `Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. 15 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’ ”

1. The seventh day is for rest; do not work on the Sabbath.

2. Israelites are to observe the Sabbath. (not gentiles, Israelites)

3. The Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel. (Again: Israel; not gentiles)

4. God abstained from work and rested on the 7th day and Israel is to do the same.

EX 35:1 states that Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: 2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. 3 Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

1. The command concerning keeping the Sabbath Holy came from the LORD not from Moses.

2. Rest on the Sabbath and do no work.

3. Do not light a fire in your dwelling on the Sabbath. (Furnace, oven, light bulb)

LEV 23:3 ” `There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.

DT 5:12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.

Don’t use any utility (electricity, gas, internet, telephone, etc.) or public service (roads, police, radio, TV, bus, etc.) that requires anyone to work on the Sabbath in order to provide the service.

<<You keep Sunday today as an obedient and slavish devotion to a tradition that had its roots in Mithra>>

ROLF!!!!!!   That’s beyond ridiculous. Where do you get that baloney?  Find another deli!

We celebrate the Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week (Mar 16:9) just like the church (not the Jews) always did.

Justin Martyr : The First Apology of Justin  C.100-162 AD

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples,…

The Teaching of the Apostles. (1st Century)

The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation: because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead and on the first day of the week He arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week He ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week He will appear at last with the angels of heaven.

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians C. 50-117 AD, Bishop of Antioch

Chapter IX.—Let Us Live with Christ.

If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day[1]

…And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ, …

At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection.

It has absolutely nothing, zero, zip, nada, to do with Mithras.

<<If Paul taught that the laws of God (the Ten Commandments) had been abrogated, or that the Sabbath in particular was no longer to be observed, how could he claim the above without the Jews coming down on him like the proverbial ton of bricks?>>

Hello-ooo!!!  Paul WAS A JEW. Most Christians are not.

In that passage, Paul was talking to JEWS.

But in Acts 15 he specifically argued, and the JEWISH APOSTLES agreed, that the gentiles were not required to keep the law and be circumcised.

Some other writings

Some of my other writings on this topic include:

Works consulted

Hengel, M 2000. transl J Bowden. The four Gospels and the one Gospel of Jesus Christ: An investigation of the collection and origin of the canonical Gospels,. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International.

Robertson, A T 1934. A grammar of the Greek New Testament in the light of historical research. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.


[1] Christianity Board, ‘Sabbath-keeping’, OzSpen#299, available at: (Accessed 27 April 2015).

[2] Ibid., Phoneman777#300.

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#301.

[4] Ibid., Phoneman777#302.

[5] Ibid., OzSpen#304.

[6] Ibid., Phoneman777#305.

[7] Ibid., OzSpen#306.

[8] Ibid., Phoneman777#307.

[9] Ibid., OzSpen#308.

[10] Ibid., Phoneman777#310.

[11] Ibid., OzSpen#311.

[12] Ibid., Jim Parker #298.


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 October 2016.

The bashing of Fred Nile’s views on ABC TV (Australia)

By Spencer D Gear

The Reverend and Honourable
Fred Nile

Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC.JPG

Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales

(courtesy Wikipedia)

Australian Broadcasting Corporation logoType
Statutory corporationAvailability
ABC Ultimo Centre
700 Harris Street
Ultimo 2007, SydneyBroadcast area: Australia

Government of Australia

(courtesy Wikipedia)

If you want to see the mass media bias against Christians, watch what secular journalists do to a politician who is an evangelical Christian operating from a biblical worldview in his or her policies. That’s what I saw on Thursday, 16 April 2015 in the Australian ABC TV programme, 7.30. See, ‘Fred Nile: Controversial Christian Democrat MP poised to hold balance of power in New South Wales parliament’.

Here the ABC proceeded to expose Fred Nile MP (Upper House, New South Wales parliament), who is ‘renowned for campaigning on social issues. He opposes gay marriage, gay adoption, Islamic face coverings, and wants limits on halal food in Australian supermarkets’. The ABC’s bagging of him continued, ‘But despite his long history of activism, he does not understand why some people call him controversial’.

Fred’s response was:

“It always surprises me, because I’m the most non-controversial person you could get,” he said.

“Everything I believe is just so – in my opinion – mainstream and ordinary.

“The only controversy comes because there are groups of people who oppose what I’m saying.”

Then 7.30 proceeded to expose Nile’s approach to Muslim immigration:

Rev Nile once called for a halt to Muslim immigration, and now he fears that a larger Islamic community will try to impose sharia law.

“There are some dangers that Australians should appreciate,” he said.

“Once [the Muslim population] gets to 5 per cent or 10 per cent, it’s not that the Australians change [but] the Muslims change and become more militant and more demanding.”

The opponents on ABC TV

So who does the ABC call on to oppose Fred Nile?

Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman Keysar Trad condemned Mr Nile’s statement.

“I’m very disappointed with Fred Nile’s contribution to New South Wales,” he said.

“As a man of God, as a Reverend, you’d expect him to be inclusive, you’d expect him to reach out with love and compassion and peace towards others.

“But what we’ve seen from him over the last couple of decades is vitriol, divisiveness and fear mongering about Islam and Muslims.”

Then there was Greens MP, John Kaye, who spruiked his opposition to Nile’s policies:

“Fred has always been the pilot fish of the lunar Right,” Greens MP John Kaye said.

“When homophobia was the cause of the day, Fred was right there as their man in parliament.

“Now it’s hatred of Muslims, and fear of Muslims, whether it’s mosques or halal food, Fred is their voice in parliament.”

Mr Kaye said he expected Rev Nile to vote with the Government on most issues.

“He is the Government’s patsy,” he said.

Enter illogical thinking

By calling Fred Nile ‘the pilot fish of the lunar Right’, John Kaye is using an ad hominem logical fallacy to put down Nile. What is a logical fallacy? It is illogic in action. But the journalist who did the interviewing of John Kaye did not call him for using such fallacious reasoning. If he called him to task, he could have said something like, ‘Why are you labelling Fred Nile’s character and actions when you should be dealing with the truth or falsity of his claims about homosexuality, Muslim immigration, halal food and mosques? That’s false reasoning that you are using’. Hearing that from an ABC journalist would send this viewer into an unnatural tizzy fit. The ABC, based on my past listening and viewing, is not in the habit of giving favourable coverage to Christians who are engaged in the public culture.

Does this contemporary journalist not have the common sense to know what John Kaye did in that kind of response? Kaye did not deal with the issues Nile is raising and their impact on Australian society.

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)


The supporters on ABC TV?

Who would you think that ABC TV’s 7.30 would bring in support of Fred Nile so that there would be ‘balance’ in the programme? Outside of his wife, there was

Not a soul. Not one! clip_image002[4] clip_image003[4] clip_image004[4]

The ABC receives approximately $6.61 billion (over 5 years) in Australian government funding to run its broadcast operations. There are many Christians who live in Australia, so who would any journalist worth his salt choose to engage positively with Fred Nile’s views? There was not a single person. So, I sent

A complaint

This is the online bellyache I had against the ABC and its bias:[1]

I’ve just watched your 7.30 programme featuring Fred Nile and his wife in which you proceed to bag Fred Nile for the things he stands for. This was a classic example of ABC bigotry towards this Christian parliamentarian. Who did you choose to oppose him? A Greens MP who proceeded to slam him for what he wants to do about Islamic migration and Fred’s support for the James Packer casino.

If the ABC was to present a balanced programme I’d just about have a heart attack. For every one who opposed Fred on 7.30, you should be presenting one in favour of Fred’s views. That would at least be fair. But Leigh Sales had only the bag in hand to bash Fred Nile’s views.

I’m tired of the bigotry that the ABC presents against those who don’t support the ABC’s agenda. If you did to a Muslim, what you did to Fred, you’d have a Jihad on your hands. But you think that it’s perfectly OK to bash Fred Nile, a Christian, while you receive $2 billion[2] in funding from the Federal Govt. It’s time that the ABC learned what fairness and justice are about.

You slammed Fred Nile with your dose of injustice. What will 7.30 do to change its approach to people who have views with which it disagrees?

P.S. I don’t live in NSW so I can’t vote for Fred Nile but as a Christian, I found what you did to be utterly offensive.

I omitted to mention that one other opponent was featured on 7.30, Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman, Keysar Trad.

The ABC’s reply

How do you think that ABC would reply to what I emailed to them? Well, I’m not allowed to tell you. But I can say, from my perspective, it was not favourable towards the content of my complaint to it about Fred Nile’s views.

But it did make sure that I couldn’t tell you exactly what it said, by making this claim at the end of the email received from a person at ABC’s ‘Audience and Consumer Affairs’ on 20 April 2015. It stated:

The information contained in this email and any attachment is confidential and may contain legally privileged or copyright material. It is intended only for the use of the addressee(s). If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are not permitted to disseminate, distribute or copy this email or any attachments. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete this email from your system. The ABC does not represent or warrant that this transmission is secure or virus free. Before opening any attachment you should check for viruses. The ABC’s liability is limited to resupplying any email and attachments.

I can’t even give you my response to this reply because I included some quotes from the ABCs reply.


The overall emphasis of the 7.30 story on Fred Nile was to paint this politician who could hold the balance of power as an extremist who doesn’t represent what the Greens MP or the Islamic association promotes.

There’s a lesson here for all Christians who want to engage in public issues through cultural apologetics. Be prepared for antagonistic bashing from mass media journalists and their producers.

New South Wales Legislative Council (55th Parliament)

Coat of arms or logo

Upper house (since 1856) of the Parliament of New South Wales

(Courtesy Wikipedia)


[1] I sent this via an online complaints form to the ABC on Thursday, 16 April 2015, and at my request I received a copy of my complaint by email reply. I await a response from the ABC, but I’m not holding my breath expecting them to do anything by way of change of editorial policy. However, they need to hear my protests and reasons for it.

[2] Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, on his website stated, ‘the Government’s continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.61 billion over the same five year period’ (FAQs on ABC and SBS, 19 December 2014, Malcolm Turnbull MP).


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in Scripture?

By Spencer D Gear

Bible Open To Psalm 118

If you want to get into an animated discussion in some churches, raise the possibility that Mark 16:9-20 is not in the earliest manuscripts and should not be included in the Bible. I encountered this when a person complained to me about the verses that had been left out of the New International Version (NIV), so he will not read the NIV.  I said that it was probably the other way around: Those verses excluded from the NIV were those that had been added to the KJV. Now that did get the theological juices boiling for both of us. Let’s take a read of theses verses in the KJV:

Mark 16:9-20 (King James Version)

9Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

12After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

13And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.

14Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18They 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.

19So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Those who support the King James Version of the Bible tend to prefer the long ending of Mark 16 because it is located in that translation. They include vv. 9-20 in Scripture, but most modern translations indicate somehow that there are doubts that these verses should by in Scripture. For example, the English Standard Version places Mark 16:9-20 in double square brackets with the note at the end of v. 8, ‘Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20’. The New International Version (2011 edition) has this note before v. 9, ’The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20’.

Here are some statements by supporters of the long ending of Mark 16:

  • ‘Does not Mark end funny in the texts you’re relying on[ending with 16:8]? Is it not apparent that something is missing?’ (Christian Forums #204).
  • ‘Would you care to show us how the ending of mark is a corruption from mankind? Please use scripture [this is from a supporter of the longer ending]’ (Christian Forums #217).
  • ‘Is there anything in any passage here [Mark 16:9-20] that is false, that can be proven to be false by the body of scripture we have? If so, point it out’ (Christian Forums #230).
  • ‘The case of Mark 16:9-20 allows us the opportunity to demonstrate first-hand the spuriousness of the Westcott-Hortian paradigm as it is applied to textual criticism. Based upon the evidence of a small, corrupted handful of Greek manuscripts and little else, modern textual critics remove the verse even despite the overwhelming amount of evidence in its favour’ (Why Mark 16:9-20 belongs in the Bible).
  • ‘Do verses 9-20 belong in Mark 16? I don’t see how anyone could reasonably say they don’t. The rest of the Scripture supports them. The words of Jesus clearly support them. I think it’s clear that they belong there. Beware of those who try to tell you otherwise ‘ (‘Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in the Bible?’ Scott Morris).

Some of the issues

Let’s examine some of the matters relating to whether Mark 16:9-20 should in the Bible or have been added.

I could go into further detail as to why I reject vv. 9-20 as part of the New Testament. However, I consider that Kelly Iverson has summarised the material extremely well and to my exegetical and textual satisfaction in the article, “Irony in the end: A textual and literary analysis of Mark 16:8“. Iverson presents this material in footnote 6, based on the internal evidence that includes this examination of the long ending of Mark 16 (I have transliterated the Greek characters in the article to make it more accessible for the general reader):

The longer ending (vv 9-20) is clearly the most attested reading. It is validated by almost all of the extant Greek manuscripts, a significant number of minuscules, numerous versions, and scores of church Fathers. Geographically it is represented by the Byzantine, Alexandrian, and Western text types. However, one should be careful not to reduce textual criticism into an exercise of manuscript counting. Though the longer ending is widely attested, the vast bulk of manuscripts are from the generally inferior, Byzantine text type dating from the 8th to the 13th centuries (except Codex A which is a 5th century document). Due to the solidarity of the Byzantine text type we may assume that this represents at least a fourth century reading (Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 3rd ed. [New York: Oxford University, 1992], 293).

The abrupt ending (1) is found in the two oldest Greek manuscripts. These Alexandrian uncials a B, both 4th century manuscripts, are supported by the Sinaitic Syriac manuscripts, approximately one hundred Armenian texts and two Georgian manuscripts from the 9th and 10th centuries, and several church Fathers including Clement of Alexandria and Origen. That this reading was more prominent is supported by Eusebius and Jerome who claimed that vv 9-20 were absent from almost all known manuscripts (ibid., 226). It is also significant that Codex Bobiensis (k) omits the longer ending as this is deemed the “most important witness to the Old African Latin” Bible (ibid., 73). The genealogical solidarity of the two primary Alexandrian witnesses suggest that this reading can be dated to the 2nd century (Metzger, Text of the New Testament, 215-216).

To say the least, the evidence is conflicting. One should be careful not to make a firm decision one way or the other regarding Mark’s ending based on the external data alone. Though the majority of New Testament scholars believe that vv 9-20 are not original, virtually none come to this conclusion based purely on the external evidence. Even Farmer must confess that, “while a study of the external evidence is rewarding in itself and can be very illuminating in many ways . . . it does not produce the evidential grounds for a definitive solution to the problem. A study of the history of the text, by itself, has not proven sufficient, since the evidence is divided” (Farmer, Last Twelve Verses of Mark, 74).

Most text-critics appeal to the internal evidence in order to demonstrate that vv 9-20 are non-Marcan. One is immediately struck with the awkward transition between vv 8 and 9. In v 8, the subject, “they” referring to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (16:1) is implicit within the third, plural verb, ephobounto. But in v 9 the subject changes to “He” (from the third, singular verb ephan?). The transition is striking because the subject is unexpressed. Furthermore, in v 9 Mary Magdalene is introduced as though she were a new character even though her presence has already been established in the immediate context (15:47; 16:1) while Mary the mother of James and Salome disappear from the entire narrative. This awkward transition coupled with numerous words and phrases that are foreign to Mark, suggest the decidedly inauthentic nature of this ending.

Several examples should prove the point. In 16:9 we find the only occurrence of the verb phainw in the New Testament with respect to the resurrection (though the same verb is used in Luke 9:8 to describe Elijah’s re-appearance). Equally as unusual is the construction par hes ekbeblekei , which is a grammatical hapax. In v 10, the verb poreuvomai which is found 29 times in Matthew and 51 times in Luke is not found in Mark 1:1-16:8, but repeatedly in the longer ending (vv 10, 12, 15). In v 11, The verb theaomai which occurs in Matthew (6:1; 11:7; 22:11; 23:5) and Luke (7:24; 23:55) finds no parallel in Mark except for its multiple occurrence in the longer ending (16:11, 14). In v 12, the expression meta tauta which occurs frequently in Luke (1:24; 5:27; 10:1; 12:4; 17:8; 18:4) and John (2:12; 3:22; 5:1, 14; 6:1; 7:1; 11:7, 11; 13:7; 19:28, 38; 21:1) has no precedence in Mark. phanerow which neither Matthew or Luke use to describe resurrection appearances is found in vv 12 and 14 (J. K. Elliott, “The Text and Language of the endings of Mark’s Gospel,” TZ 27 [1971]: 258). The phrase heteros morph? is also unique to Marcan vocabulary. Neither heteros nor morph? occur elsewhere in Mark and morph? only appears in Paul’s description of the kenosis (Phil 2:6, 7). In v 14, husteros, although used by the other evangelists, is a decidedly non-Marcan term having no precedence in 1:1-16:8. Mark seems to prefer eschatos over husteros as evidenced by several parallel passages in which Mark opts for the former over the later term found in Matthew (cf. Matt 21:37Mark 12:6; Matt 22:27Mark 12:22). In v 18, aside from other lexical and syntactical phenomenon one is struck by the unusual exegetical hapax. No other text in Scripture provides a promise for the handling of snakes and imbibing deadly poison without adverse repercussions. In v 19, though Mark sparingly uses the conjunction ?u, the phrase men ou is not found in 1:1-16:8. The longer ending concludes in v 20 with a litany of non-Marcan vocabulary: sunergeww is not found in Mark or the Gospels and appears to be a Pauline term (Rom 8:28; 1 Cor 16:16; 2 Cor 6:1) but it is never used with Jesus as the subject, and bebaiow along with epakolouthew are also foreign to the Synoptic Gospels.

As is somewhat evident, the internal evidence raises significant problems with Mark 16:9-20. The awkward transition between vv 8 and 9 and the non-Marcan vocabulary has led the vast majority of New Testament scholars to conclude that the longer ending is inauthentic. In fact, even Farmer (Last Twelve Verses of Mark, 103), the leading proponent for the authenticity of the last twelve verses, must confess that some of the evidence warrants this conclusion.

Iverson’s article provides an overall analysis of some of the major issues in the short vs. long ending of Mark 16. I highly recommend it.

Yes, there is false teaching in this ‘Scripture’

Is there any teaching within Mark 16:9-20 that would be questionable when compared with the rest of Scripture? There most certainly is teaching in this passage that is false when judged by other Scriptures. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Take Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”. This promotes the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration that a person needs to be baptised to be saved. What does the rest of the Bible teach?

  • ‘But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12 ESV).
  • “’And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” ‘(Acts 16:31).
  • ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast’ (Eph 2:8-9).
  • ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 5:1).
  • ‘and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith’ (Phil 3:9).

These Scriptures are very clear that no works (e.g. baptism) are required to become children of God and obtain salvation. It is all by grace through faith. Therefore, to teach that “Whoever believes AND is baptized” is saved, is teaching false doctrine. Baptism is not a means to salvation. Baptismal regeneration, as taught in Mark 16:16, is contrary to Scripture. See John Piper’s article, ‘What is baptism and does it save?’ See also, ‘Twisting Acts 2:38 – The question of baptism by water for salvation’ by Watchman Fellowship; and Robin Brace, ‘Baptismal regeneration refuted’.

Let’s get it clear with the teaching of Acts 2:38. Those who teach baptismal regeneration love to use this verse for support.

Acts 2:38 in the ESV reads, ‘And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”’.

This verse has been used regularly by those who support baptismal regeneration (i.e. baptism is necessary for salvation) as they indicate from this verse ‘baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins’.

The Greek grammar helps us to understand that this is not supporting baptism for the remission of sins. The command to repent is to ‘you’ plural, second person. The command to be baptised is given in singular number and third person. Therefore, it is not correct to identify ‘forgiveness of your sins’ with baptism otherwise it would mean that each person was baptised for the forgiveness of sins of all those who were present.

If we were to take baptism as that which is linked to (causes) the forgiveness of sins, the text would say something like this: ‘Let him be baptised for the remission of all your sins’, and “let him (another) be baptised for the forgiveness of all your sins’, and “let him (yet another person) be baptised for the forgiveness of all your sins’, and on and on for each person in the group.

Therefore, each person would be baptised for the forgiveness of the sins of all the people in the group.

This is not what the verse teaches. Baptism is not linked to the forgiveness of sins in Acts 2:38.

Simon J. Kistemaker in his commentary on the Book of Acts (Baker Academic 1990, p. 105) confirms this position that Acts 2:38 does not teach baptismal regeneration:

In Greek, the imperative verb repent is in the plural; Peter addresses all the people whose consciences drive them to repentance. But the verb, be baptized, is in the singular to stress the individual nature of baptism. A Christian should be baptized to be a follower of Jesus Christ, for baptism is the sign indicating that a person belongs to the company of God’s people.

Craig A Evans, an evangelical historical Jesus’ scholar, states:

The last twelve verses of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 16:9-20) are not the original ending; they were added at least two centuries after Mark first began to circulate. These passages – one from Mark, one from Luke, one from John – represent the only major textual problems in the Gospels, no important teaching hangs on any one of them (unless you belong to a snake-handling cult; see Mk 16:18 (2007. Fabricating Jesus. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, p. 30).

This is a sample of Bruce Metzger’s assessment of the long vs. short ending of Mark 16:

Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, 1971), pages 122-126.

Mark 16:9-20   The Ending(s) of Mark.

Four endings of the Gospel according to Mark are current in the manuscripts. (1) The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (Aleph[1] and B), from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis (it k), the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, about one hundred Armenian manuscripts, and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written A.D. 897 and A.D. 913). Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them. The original form of the Eusebian sections (drawn up by Ammonius) makes no provision for numbering sections of the text after 16:8. Not a few manuscripts which contain the passage have scribal notes stating that older Greek copies lack it, and in other witnesses the passage is marked with asterisks or obeli, the conventional signs used by copyists to indicate a spurious addition to a document.

(2) Several witnesses, including four uncial Greek manuscripts of the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries (L Psi[2] 099 0112), as well as Old Latin k, the margin of the Harelean Syriac, several Sahidic and Bohairic manuscripts, and not a few Ethiopic manuscripts, continue after verse 8 as follows (with trifling variations): “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.” All of these witnesses except it k also continue with verses 9-20.

(3) The traditional ending of Mark, so familiar through the AV and other translations of the Textus Receptus, is present in the vast number of witnesses, including A C D K W X Delta Thi Pi Psi[3] 099 0112 f13 28 33 al. The earliest patristic witnesses to part or all of the long ending are Irenaeus and the Diatessaron. It is not certain whether Justin Martyr was acquainted with the passage; in his Apology (i.45) he includes five words that occur, in a different sequence, in ver. 20. (tou logou tou ischurou hon apo Ierousalem hoi apostoloi autou exelthontes pantachou ekeruxan).[4]

(4) In the fourth century the traditional ending also circulated, according to testimony preserved by Jerome, in an expanded form, preserved today in one Greek manuscript. Codex Washingtonianus includes the following after ver. 14: “And they excused themselves, saying, ‘This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits [or, does not allow what lies under the unclean spirits to understand the truth and power of God]. Therefore reveal thy righteousness now — thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was delivered over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, in order that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven.’ ”

How should the evidence of each of these endings be evaluated? It is obvious that the expanded form of the long ending (4) has no claim to be original. Not only is the external evidence extremely limited, but the expansion contains several non-Markan words and expressions (including ho aiwn houtos, hamartanw, apologew, alethinos, hapostrephw[5]) as well as several that occur nowhere else in the New Testament (deinos, apos, proslegw[6]). The whole expansion has about it an unmistakable apocryphal flavor. It probably is the work of a second or third century scribe who wished to soften the severe condemnation of the Eleven in 16.14.

The longer ending (3), though current in a variety of witnesses, some of them ancient, must also be judged by internal evidence to be secondary. (a) The vocabulary and style of verses 9-20 are non-Markan. (e.g. apistew, blaptw, bebaiow, epakolouthew, theaomai, meta tauta, poreuomai, sunergew, usteron[7] are found nowhere else in Mark; and thanasimon[8] and tois met autou genomenois[9], as designations of the disciples, occur only here in the New Testament). (b) The connection between ver. 8 and verses 9-20 is so awkward that it is difficult to believe that the evangelist intended the section to be a continuation of the Gospel. Thus, the subject of ver. 8 is the women, whereas Jesus is the presumed subject in ver. 9; in ver. 9 Mary Magdalene is identified even though she has been mentioned only a few lines before (15.47 and 16.1); the other women of verses 1-8 are now forgotten; the use of anastas de[10] and the position of prwton[11] are appropriate at the beginning of a comprehensive narrative, but they are ill-suited in a continuation of verses 1-8. In short, all these features indicate that the section was added by someone who knew a form of Mark that ended abruptly with ver. 8 and who wished to supply a more appropriate conclusion. In view of the inconcinnities[12] between verses 1-8 and 9-20, it is unlikely that the long ending was composed ad hoc to fill up an obvious gap; it is more likely that the section was excerpted from another document, dating perhaps from the first half of the second century.

The internal evidence for the shorter ending (2) is decidedly against its being genuine. Besides containing a high percentage of non-Markan words, its rhetorical tone differs totally from the simple style of Mark’s Gospel.

Finally it should be observed that the external evidence for the shorter ending (2) resolves itself into additional testimony supporting the omission of verses 9-20. No one who had available as the conclusion of the Second Gospel the twelve verses 9-20, so rich in interesting material, would have deliberately replaced them with four lines of a colorless and generalized summary. Therefore, the documentary evidence supporting (2) should be added to that supporting (1). Thus, on the basis of good external evidence and strong internal considerations it appears that the earliest ascertainable form of the Gospel of Mark ended with 16.8. At the same time, however out of deference to the evident antiquity of the longer ending and its importance in the textual tradition of the Gospel, the Committee decided to include verses 9-20 as part of the text, but to enclose them within double square brackets to indicate that they are the work of an author other than the evangelist.

Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. 269-270:

… we may find it instructive to consider the attitude of Church Fathers toward variant readings in the text of the New Testament. On the one hand, as far as certain readings involve sensitive points of doctrine, the Fathers customarily alleged that heretics had tampered with the accuracy of the text. On the other hand, however, the question of the canonicity of a document apparently did not arise in connection with discussion of such variant readings, even though they might involve quite considerable sections of text. Today we know that the last twelve verses of the Gospel according to Mark (xvi. 9-20) are absent from the oldest Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian manuscripts, and that in other manuscripts asterisks or obeli mark the verses as doubtful or spurious. Eusebius and Jerome, well aware of such variation in the witnesses, discussed which form of text was to be preferred. It is noteworthy, however, that neither Father suggested that one form was canonical and the other was not. Furthermore, the perception that the canon was basically closed did not lead to a slavish fixing of the text of the canonical books. Thus, the category of ‘canonical’ appears to have been broad enough to include all variant readings (as well as variant renderings in early versions) that emerged during the course of the transmission of the New Testament documents while apostolic tradition was still a living entity, with an intermingling of written and oral forms of that tradition. Already in the second century, for example, the so-called long ending of Mark was known to Justin Martyr and to Tatian, who incorporated it into his Diatesseron. There seems to be good reason, therefore, to conclude that, though external and internal evidence is conclusive against the authenticity of the last twelve verses as coming from the same pen as the rest of the Gospel, the passage ought to be accepted as part of the canonical text of Mark.


See, ‘the ending of Mark’ in Bible Research. Overall, the problems raised above suggest that Mark 16:9-20 is an addition to the biblical text. In Craig Evans’ view, the longer ending was not added until 2 centuries after the Gospel of Mark was written.

However, taking this view should not separate us from Christian fellowship with those who accept the longer view of Mark 16.


[1] The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is used and I have transliterated the letter.

[2] Capital Greek letter was used.

[3] Greek characters were used for these Greek capital letters.

[4] Bruce Metzger’s commentary used the Greek characters but my homepage will not accept Greek characters so I have transliterated the Greek.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] ‘Inconcinnity’ means ‘lack of proportion and congruity; inelegance’ [, available at: (Accessed 11 January 2012)].

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date:  30 July 2019.

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