Preacher’s Toolkit: Should I Preach the Longer Ending of Mark?

Danny Akin | March 31, 2017

Several years ago I preached through the Gospel of Mark (the fruit of which can be found in the Christ-Centered Exposition series). Inevitably, I came to chapter 16. After expounding the first eight verses, I said:

And thus Mark’s Gospel comes to an end, and an abrupt one at that. Verses 9–20 are not found in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts. Mark’s sudden ending is what he wanted. It makes clear that the disciples were stunned by all of this [e.g. the empty tomb and the angel’s appearance]. They did not expect the resurrection. They did not know how to respond. How would they respond to all this? How will you?

Well, I’ve tipped my hand as to my position on the long ending of Mark’s Gospel. I do not think verses 9–20 were a part of the original text (though I have good friends and respected scholars who do), so I did not preach on them. Still, for those unfamiliar with issues related to textual criticism, this issue can be extremely troubling.

What, then, is a proper pastoral response? Here are five suggestions.

1. Help your people understand this is an issue of the original text’s transmission, not its inspiration.

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