Sunday, February 14, 2010


Mark 16:17-18
(17)  And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
(18)  they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."

(17)  σημεῖα δὲ τοῖς πιστεύσασιν ταῦτα παρακολουθήσει· ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δαιμόνια ἐκβαλοῦσιν, γλώσσαις λαλήσουσιν καιναῖς, 
(18)  καὶ ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν ὄφεις ἀροῦσιν, κἂν θανάσιμόν τι πίωσιν οὐ μὴ αὐτοὺς βλάψῃ, ἐπὶ ἀρρώστους χεῖρας ἐπιθήσουσιν καὶ καλῶς ἕξουσιν.

Folks like Bart Ehrman like to use text-critical problems to undermine the authority of the text.  The fact is that the text we have as our New Testament is extremely reliable.  There are some minor discrepancies in some of the manuscripts here and there, but there are only two major chunks that are in dispute.  We'll get to the other one in John, but this is probably the biggest one.

It's hard to imagine folks trying to apply verse 18, but they do.  I'm not sure if my faith is strong enough to try this.  It certainly is not strong enough to try this based on this text.  There is a reason why this passage appears in [[ ]] in most Bibles.  The best manuscript evidence does not contain this passage.  Personally, were I preaching through Mark I don't think I would preach on this passage.  I would, however, explain to my congregation why I'm not.

This is one of the problems with the KJV-only folks.  They don't have any way of dealing with the text-critical problems of this passage.  Therefore, you can end up doing some pretty wild stuff.  I have heard of snake-handling churches before.  Mine is not one of them nor will it be.  I don't plan to go out of my way to drink "deadly poison" either.  

Of course, if I were more charismatic I'd probably latch on to this passage like the snake did on Paul's arm.  But as for me, I think the best thing is to shake it off into the fire.  We should know it's out there and understand it, but I don't think it counts as Bible.

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