And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Verse 1. - And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices ἠγόρασαν ἀρώματα) that they might come and anoint him. A hasty but lavish embalming of our Lord's sacred body had been begun on Friday evening by Joseph and Nicodemus. They had "brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight" (John 19:39). This would be a compound - the gum of the myrrh tree, and a powder of the fragrant aloe wood mixed together, with which they would completely cover the body, which was then swathed with linen cloths (ὀθόνια), also steeped in the aromatic preparation. Then the sindon would he placed over all. Compare the ἐνετύλιξεν, of St. Luke (Luke 23:53), as applying to the sindon, with the ἔδησαν of St. John (John 21:40) as applying to the ὀθόνια. This verse records a further stage in the embalming. What had been done on the Friday evening had been done in haste, and yet sufficiently for the preservation of the sacred body, if that had been needful, from decay. The remaining work could be done more carefully and tenderly at the tomb. Observe the aorist in this verse (hJgo>rasan) "they bought;" not "they had bought."
And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Verse 2. - And very early on the first day of the week (λιάν πρωί' τῇ μιᾶ τῶν σαββάτων), they come (ἔρχονται - not "they came," St. Mark is fond of the graphic present - to the tomb when the sun was risen. They bought the spices that they needed on the Saturday evening, after the sabbath was past; and then set out early the next morning, reaching the tomb when the sun was risen.
And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
Verse 3. - And they were saying (ἔλεγον) among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? The usual form of tombs in Palestine was the following: - There was generally an approach to the tomb open to the sky; then a low entrance on the side of the rock, leading into a square chamber, on one side of which was a recess for the body, about three feet deep, with a low arch over it. The stone here referred to by the women would be the stone which covered the actual entrance into the vault. It would probably be not less than six feet in breadth and three in height. This great stone had been rolled By Joseph to the mouth of the tomb; and then he had departed. Now, as the women approached, "they were saying (ἔλεγον,) among themselves, Who shall roll us away (ἀποκυλίσει) the stone?" They had seen the arrangements, and had observed the size of the atone on the Friday evening. (Mark 15:47).
And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
Verse 4. - And looking up (ἀναβλέψασαι) they see (θεωροῦσιν) that the stone is rolled back (ἀποκεκύλισται): for it was exceeding great (μέγας σφόδρα). At this point we learn from St. John that Mary Magdalene ran away to tell Peter and John (John 20:2).
And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
Verse 5. - And entering into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, arrayed in a white robe; and they were amazed. They enter the tomb, the expression "tomb" including the ante-chamber They see that the stone has been rolled back, so as to expose the entrance into the place where Jesus had lain. On that stone a young man was sitting. The angel peared in the form of a young man, because youth indicates the vigor, the beauty, and the strength of angels. The good angels always appear in beauty and comeliness of form. There will be no deformity in heaven. The angel appeared as arrayed in a white robe. This white robe, or talar indicated a heavenly spiritual being. St. Matthew (Matthew 28:3) says that "his countenance was like lightning," flashing with splendor, and his raiment was as white as snow. It may be that he appeared more terrible to the keepers (Matthew 28:4), and that he abated something of his dazzling brightness when he appeared to the women; but "they were affrighted" (ἐξεθαμβήθησαν); literally, they were amazed. Amazement was the dominant feeling, though probably not unmingled with fear.
And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
Verse 6. - And he saith unto them, Be not amazed - μὴ ἐκθαμβεῖσθε, the same word - ye seek Jesus, the Nazarene, which hath been crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold, the place where they laid him; that is, here is the place where they laid him (ἴδε ὁ τόπος). St. Matthew (Matthew 28:6) says, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Δεῦτε ἴδετε τὸν τόπον). This seems to imply that the women actually entered the inner chamber, and saw the very place where the Lord lay. Who does not see here how irrefragable is the evidence of his resurrection?
But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
Verse 7. - But go, tell his disciples and Peter, He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. St. Gregory ('Hom. in Evan.') says, "If the angel had not named Peter, he would not have dared to come amongst the disciples. Therefore he is specially named, lest he should despair on account of his denial." It was evidently intended as a special message of comfort to Peter. St. Luke (Luke 24:34) records the personal appearance of our Lord first to Peter. Here St. Mark, with characteristic modesty, keeps Peter in the background. In Mark 14:28 our Lord is recorded to have said, "After I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee." He would go before them as their Shepherd, and lead them to that part of the Holy Land which, as he had honored it before his resurrection, so he would honor it again now.
And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
Verse 8. - And they went out - the word (ταχὺ) "quickly" is omitted - and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them (τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις) - agitation and ecstasy; they were in a state of the utmost excitement. And they said nothing to any one; for they were afraid. The vision of angels had terrified them. They were probably afraid to say anything to any one, on account of the Jews, lest it should be said that they had stolen the body of Jesus. It has been well remarked that independent accounts of events occurring a time of supreme excitement, and related by trustworthy witnesses, but from different points of view, naturally present difficulties which cannot be cleared up without a full knowledge of all the particulars. (See 'Speaker's Commentary' in Matthew 28:9)
Now 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.
Verse 9. - Now when he was risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven devils. St. Luke (Luke 8:2) mentions that "seven devils had gone out of her;" and St. Mark repeats it here, to show the power of love and penitence, that she was the first to be permitted to see the risen Savior. The vision of the angel had scared her, and she said nothing; but the actual sight of her risen Lord gave her confidence, and she went immediately, in obedience to his command, and told the disciples (see John 20:11-18). She had lingered about his tomb; her strong affection riveted her to the spot.
And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
Verse 10. - She went and told (ἐκείνη πορευθεῖσα ἀπήγγειλε) them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. The aorist here indicates immediate action. This word πορεύεσθαι occurs again in vers. 12 and 15, but nowhere else in St. Mark's Gospel It is to be noticed, however, that it occurs twice in the First Epistle of St. Peter, and once in his Second Epistle. This seems to connect St. Peter with the writer of these verses.
And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
Verse 11. - And they, when they heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, disbelieved (ἠπίστησαν). They refused to believe on the bare statement of Mary Magdalene, although M. Renan says, "Sa grande affirmation de femme, 'Il est res-suscitei' a ete la base de la foi de l'humanite." They did not believe her until the risen Lord stood before them. (See 'Speaker's Commentary' (St. Mark), p. 297.)
After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
Verse 12. - And after these things he was manifested in another form unto two of them, as they walked (πορευομένοις) on their way into the country. This appearance is doubtless the same as that which is related fully by St. Luke (Luke 24:13).
And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
Verse 13. - And they went away and told it unto the rest: neither believed they them. This want of faith happened by the permission and providence of God. "This their unbelief," says St. Gregory, "was not so much their infirmity as our future constancy on the faith."
Afterward 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.
Verse 14. - And afterward (ὕστερον δὲ) he was manifested (ἐφανερώθη) unto the eleven themselves (αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἔνδεκα) as they sat at meat. There is an emphasis here on the word "themselves." The former appearances had been to persons not having any official character. But now he appears to the eleven apostles, when they were all gathered together at the close of that memorable day. "Unto the eleven." If, as seems evident, this appearance refers to the day of our Lord's resurrection, there would be only ten present; for Thomas was not then with them. Still, they might be called the eleven, because the apostolic college was reduced to eleven after the betrayal by Judas; so that they might still be called the eleven, although Thomas was absent. St. Bernard says on this, "If Christ comes and is present when we sit at meat, how much more when we kneel in prayer!" He upbraided them (ὠνείδισε). This is a strong word of rebuke. They ought to have received the testimony of competent witnesses. But their doubts were only removed by the evidence of their senses; just as afterwards in the case of Thomas. St. Mark is always careful to record the rebukes administered by our Lord to his apostles.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Verses 15, 16. - And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation (πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει). He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned. Here is a considerable interval of time, not noticed in any way by the evangelist. And he saith unto them; not on the day of his resurrection. It would seem that this charge was delivered to them in Galilee, and that it is the same as that recorded in St. Matthew (Matthew 28:19), which was again repeated immediately before his ascension from Bethany. Go ye into all the world; not into Judaea only, but everywhere. This command has expanded with the discovery in later times of new portions of the inhabited earth; and must ever be coextensive with geographic discovery. Preach the gospel to the whole creation; that is, "among all nations." Man is the noblest work of God. All the creation is gathered up in him, created after the image of the Creator. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned. These words are very important. The first clause opposes the notion that faith alone is sufficient for salvation, without those works which are the fruit of faith. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; that is, he that believeth, and as an evidence of his faith accepts Christ's baptism, and fulfils the promises and vows which he then took upon himself, working out his own salvation with fear and trembling, shall be saved. But he that disbelieveth shall be condemned (ὁ δὲ ἀπιστήσας κατακριθήσεται,). The condemnation anticipates the doom which will be incurred by continual unbelief.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
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.
They 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.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
Verse 19. - So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken unto them, was received up into heaven. Here is another interval. The evangelist has gathered up some few of the most important words and sayings of Christ; and now he takes his reader to Bethany, the scene of our Lord's ascension. It has been well observed (see Bishop Wordsworth, in loc.) that the fact of the Ascension is gradually revealed in the Gospels. St. Matthew does not mention it at all. St. Mark refers to it in this brief and very simple manner. But St. Luke describes it with great fullness, both in his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, throughout which book he leads his readers to contemplate Christ as ascended into heaven, and as sitting at God's right hand, and as ruling the Church and the world from the throne of his glory.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Verse 20. - And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen. These words are alluded to in several passages by Justin Martyr (about A.D. ), and, for the reasons given above, could not have been written later than the time of miracles being wrought. They form a fitting introduction to the Acts of the Apostles. Cornelius a Lapide concludes his Commentary upon St. Mark with the following beautiful apostrophe of St. Augustine: - "O kingdom of everlasting blessedness, where youth never grows old, where beauty never fades, where love never waxes cold, where health never fails, where joy never decreases, where life never ends!"