|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:14-18 The evidences of the truth of the gospel are so full, that those who receive it not, may justly be upbraided with their unbelief. Our blessed Lord renewed his choice of the eleven as his apostles, and commissioned them to go into all the world, to preach his gospel to every creature. Only he that is a true Christian shall be saved through Christ. Simon Magus professed to believe, and was baptized, yet he was declared to be in the bonds of iniquity: see his history in Ac 8:13-25. Doubtless this is a solemn declaration of that true faith which receives Christ in all his characters and offices, and for all the purposes of salvation, and which produces its right effect on the heart and life; not a mere assent, which is a dead faith, and cannot profit. The commission of Christ's ministers extends to every creature throughout the world, and the declarations of the gospel contain not only truths, encouragements, and precepts, but also most awful warnings. Observe what power the apostles should be endued with, for confirming the doctrine they were to preach. These were miracles to confirm the truth of the gospel, and means of spreading the gospel among nations that had not heard it.
Verses 17, 18. - And these signs shall follow them that believe. Such evidences were necessary in the first dawn of Christianity, to attract attention to the doctrine; but our Lord's words do not mean that they were to be in perpetuity, as a continually recurring evidence of the truth of Christianity. St. Gregory (on 1 Corinthians 14:22) says, "These signs were necessary in the beginning of Christianity. In order that faith might take root and increase, it must be nourished by miracle; for so even we, when we plant shrubs, only water them until we see that they are taking root, and when we see that they have rooted themselves, we cease to water them. And this is what St. Paul means where he says 'Tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to the unbelieving' (1 Corinthians 14:22)." In my name shall they cast out devils. St. Mark, of all the evangelists, dwells most perhaps on this, as characteristic of our Lord's work, and as the evidence of his supreme dominion over the spiritual world. They shall speak with new tongues. This was the first intimation of the great miracle to be inaugurated on the day of Pentecost. The gift was continued but for a very limited time. They shall take up serpents. The instance of St. Paul at Melita (Acts 28:3-5) would be familiar to St. Mark's readers. And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them. There are some few traditionary notices of the fulfillment of this promise; as in the case of "Justus Barsabas," mentioned by Eusebius ('H.E.,' 3, 19), and of St. John, mentioned by St. Augustine. It may be observed of this passage, that no one could have interpolated it after the cessation of the signs to which it refers, which took place very early.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And these signs shall follow them that believe,.... Not all of them, but some; and not always, only for a time; and which were necessary for the confirmation of the Gospel, and the establishment of Christianity in the world; and not only believing hearers, but believing ministers of the word, are chiefly designed; and this is said, for the encouragement both of those that preach the Gospel, and of them that hear, believe and obey. The Persic version, contrary to all others, reads, "ye shall show signs and wonders to them that believe not"; see 1 Corinthians 14:22.
In my name shall they cast out devils; so the Apostle Paul dispossessed the damsel, that had a spirit of divination; commanding the spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her, and it did; and evil spirits also went out of others, through his means, by the power of Christ, Acts 16:18; and this power continued for a considerable time among the saints: the phrase "in my name", is in the Arabic version, joined to the word "believe", in the preceding clause; and is omitted in the Persic version, but is rightly retained by all others in this place; for by the power and authority of Christ, and not their own, and by calling upon, and making use of his name, such miraculous operations were wrought by the apostles:
they shall speak with new tongues: or languages, not such as were new made, and had never been heard and known before; but foreign languages, such as they had never learned, or were able to speak, or understood before; and this not only did the apostles on the day of pentecost, but even common believers at other times, Acts 2:4 Acts 10:45.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17, 18. And these signs shall follow them that believe … They shall take up serpents—These two verses also are peculiar to Mark.
The Ascension and Triumphant Proclamation of the Gospel Thereafter (Mr 16:19, 20).
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