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. (Mark 16:18)
The final verses of Mark’s Gospel instigate controversy among Bible “scholars,” and many modern translations preface the passage with a warning that “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.” The NIV Study Bible further notes that “Serious doubt exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark. They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark. His Gospel probably ended at 16:8, or its original ending has been lost.”
“Scholars” are the reason we have so many different translations and so much disagreement on which translation is best. I am not averse to higher education. Personally, I enjoy learning and research, especially on matters of the Bible. However, it seems to me that many that achieve the higher degrees lose their grip on reality and rely on the wisdom of man more than the wisdom of God.
When I consider Mark 16:9-20, after having ready Mark’s entire Gospel, I do find the ending somewhat abrupt. It is almost as if Mark completed his Gospel and needed to “wrap it up” in order to get if off to print. (I know. I know! There were no printers in those days.) Most scholars believe that Mark’s was the first Gospel in circulation. The church at the time of the writing was probably no more than 15-30 years old, growing and spreading throughout the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Europe, and there was no written record of the ministry of Christ. As we read Mark’s Gospel, we get the sense that he is moving from one event to the next in the ministry of Jesus. Mark’s is also the shortest of the four Gospels, so the abrupt ending does not surprise me.
The fact that the last 12 verses appear in the text tell me that “The Author,” the Holy Spirit, wanted them there – something the scholars seem to forget. When God says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11, emphasis mine). Similarly, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). And to answer those who might say that perhaps these were not God’s or Jesus’ words but added later by some human editor, consider the following: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2, emphasis mine). Also, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32) In addition we find, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19, emphasis mine).
Considering God’s solemn charge not to tamper with His word, I find it difficult to conceive that a human editor, who reverences the Word of God, would take it upon himself to “enhance” it of his own volition. As for those “more reliable early manuscripts,” they come from texts that were rejected by the early church due to their Gnostic origins. They were found in “very good” condition because they were not used.
I have a point to make in defending Mark 16:9-20 and specifically as it relates to verse 18, our opening verse. Concerning “them that believe in me” (v. 17) Jesus says (according to Mark), that “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them” (emphasis mine). Paul proved this after his shipwreck on the island of Melita. In gathering wood for a fire, a viper, attracted to the heat of the fire, attached itself to Paul’s hand. Paul shook the snake into the fire and suffered no harm from the snakebite to the astonishment of the inhabitants of Melita.
Based on Mark 16:18, I believe God protects His children from harm due to no act of their own. Even when we knowingly place ourselves in harmful positions, God will sometimes intervene to protect us, but all according to His purpose for our lives. I strongly advise against acting stupidly just to test God; He may just let you suffer the consequences.
Lately, for obvious reasons, I have been thinking about the hype surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines. I refuse to take the vaccine for several reasons. First of all, I believe God designed our bodies to fight of dangerous pathogens. I also believe that God has our days numbered, and we cannot die until our time comes for God to call us home. There are hundreds of ways to die that do not involve COVID-19, and it is up to God to choose which method He wants to use to take us home.
Those are the foremost reasons I have for not taking the vaccine. Another reason that rates highly is the fact that they are derived from a cell line that came from aborted human fetuses. Most Christians claim to be “pro-life” and are against abortion, and I believe that if they really understood the source of the vaccines, they would not take them. However, I can excuse them due to ignorance. Yet another reason that I will not take the vaccine is that it modifies the recipient’s DNA – God’s programming code that makes you who you are. I do not believe man has arrived at the level of intelligence required to modify God’s programming code.
The reader can investigate these things for himself, but many doctors, virologists, warn that the mRNA vaccine will “disable” a human’s natural immune system rendering them vulnerable to other diseases for which we were once immune. So, in effect, the vaccine is a poison. (Again, I realize my explanation is rather simplistic, but I do not have the space nor the desire to cover it in this article. The information is out there, if you want to look.) Many Christians are happily taking this poison through the ignorance induced by the propaganda put out by our government and the media. I believe, based on Mark 16:18, that Christians taking this poison through ignorance will not be harmed by it. However, those who take it with full knowledge of what it is may suffer the consequences later. Time will tell.
 The NIV Study Bible, (Zondervan Corporation, 1985), p. 1530.
 “Thees, Thous, and Wot Nots” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/05/01/thees-thous-and-wot-nots/ (See especially my response to Dwayne Cartwright’s comment.