Does Mark 16:9-20 Belong in the Bible?

Question

A friend recently asked me why different Bible versions have different endings for the last part of Mark 16. Should the chapter end at verse 8? Or should verses 9-20 be included? I couldn't give an answer that satisfied either myself or my friend. Can you help?

Answer

This is an interesting topic of great debate. In varying translations, there are a number of different endings for the book of Mark. They include:

1. Mark 16:9-20 is included

2. Mark 16:9-20 is omitted

3. Mark 16:9-20 is included with a statement after verse 8 and preceding verse 9 that reads: "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"

4. Mark 16:9-20 is included with the verses placed in brackets to indicate it was not in the original, or, in some translations, with a type of disclaimer between verses 14 and 15. Some of the disclaimers include:

  • Only found in one Greek manuscript-Codex Washingtonianus
  • Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20
  • Longer ending of Mark
  • Mark 16:9 Later mss [manuscripts] add verses 9-20

Scholars have debated this issue for centuries. Before doing any research into the origins and trustworthiness of the Bible, always begin by remembering that God promised to preserve His Word and He is faithful to do so:

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matthew 24:35)

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