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Mark’s Gospel breaks off abruptly at 16: 8. This break involves ending with an enclitic form of Greek grammar, and this is inappropriate for the ending of a paragraph, never mind a book. The gospel then continues with twelve more verses. Orchard suggested that they might have been notes for a further talk which was not delivered.

But there is an alternative and Orchard showed his interest in it. Orchard had pointed out that Peter stopped at the end of his personal eyewitness of the earthly life of Christ ((RO 271-8)).  So Peter had not commented on all the new information provided by Luke. This gives rise to another possible answer. Luke’s material would have provoked questions and these last verses could have be a record of Peter’s answers to them.

1. As the ‘he’ of verse 9 does not refer to the young man in verse 5, one would have expected to read ‘Jesus’. But if the name of the Lord had been contained in a question, the use of ‘he’ would be correct.

2. Matthew in 28: 1-10 says that Mary Magdalene was, with another woman, the first to see Jesus. Luke had mentioned a woman of a similar description: ‘a Mary who is called Magdalene’, who had been possessed by seven devils (Luke 8: 2). We should not be surprised if someone, noting her history, asked if this was the same person. Peter replies that it was. He then confirms that Luke was also correct when he wrote that it was she who told the Apostles. (Mark 16: 9).

3. Matthew had not reported that Christ had appeared to two men walking, but Luke gives this incident much space (Luke 24: 13-31). Should the audience accept this story as true? Peter, not being one of the two, was unable to confirm all the details given by Luke. But he confirms that Christ did appear to two disciples walking in the countryside (Mark 16: 12).

4. Luke tells of Christ appearing to the eleven (24: 33-36). Yet Matthew had not mentioned this event. Was it true? Peter, being there, was able to confirm that it was. (Mark 16: 14).

5. Matthew says that followers of Christ were to teach and baptize (28: 19), but Luke says they are to preach penance and forgiveness (Luke 24: 47). Was there a discrepancy here? Peter explains how baptism follows on from successful preaching (Mark 16: 15-16).

6. In his second volume, ‘Acts’,  Luke reports  that  Paul  was able to cast out  devils      (Acts 16: 18 and 19:12). There was no mention of this power by Matthew. Was it true? Peter, not being present at the incidents, could not confirm them, but he gives them credibility by saying Christ had foretold that such happenings would occur (Mark 16: 17).

7.  In Acts 2: 4, 10: 46 and 19: 6, Luke reports occasions when speaking in tongues had taken place. Matthew had not reported these events. Peter, having been present, is able to confirm them (Mark 16: 17).

8. The audience had read in Acts 28: 5-9, that Paul was impervious to the poison of a snake and could heal the sick. Matthew had not recorded these incidents. Could they be true? Not being present at them. All Peter can do is refer again to the promises of Christ (Mark 16: 18).

9. Luke 24: 51 and Acts 1: 9 describe how Christ ascended into heaven. Matthew had not described this. Peter, having been an eyewitness, was able to confirm and slightly embellish Luke’s account. (Mark 16: 19).

These answers tell us something about the care taken in planning the day.  The first question arose due to something Peter had said. It may have been a spontaneous question. But the next four questions appear to have been pre-planned. They were provoked by items in Luke’s Gospel and asked in the same sequence. (i.e. 8: 2, 24: 13-31, 24: 33-36, 24: 47). The next two were in response to events reported in Acts. The last question returns to the original Gospel sequence (24: 51).

This analysis suggests that some in the audience had studied Luke’s two books prior to the talks and had prepared themselves with questions.

A speaker’s style, when giving a talk, is different from when answering questions. The difference in style of Mark’s final verses, compared with the main text, has often been noted.

In addition to Mark, the audience is likely to have included Paul, his guard, Luke, Linus, Cletus, Clement of Rome, Alexander, Rufus and Hermas.


In Paul’s two letters to Timothy and one to Titus, he claims he is their author and the wording implies his having travelled to Asia and Crete. Yet Luke’s second book, ‘Acts’, which includes a record of Paul’s travels and preaching, does not mention such visits. Those wishing to undermine the historical reliability of Scripture, use this apparent discrepancy to assert that Paul didn’t write these three epistles. They say an anonymous person must have composed them at a much later date.

The traditional reply has been that Luke completed Acts before 60 AD. This is the reason these later travels do not appear in ‘Acts’.

If Peter answered a question based on verse 5 of the last chapter in Acts, (i.e. Mark 28:3-8), we have confirmation that ‘Acts’ was completed prior to 60 AD.


We sometimes hear the claim that Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was the first part of the New Testament to be written. Is there any evidence for this claim?

Some of Paul’s letters such as Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians contain words and phrases to be found in Matthew’s gospel. They are also used in the same sequence. For example: 1 Thessalonians 2:14 -5:7 and Matthew 23:31-24:49. ((RO 119)).

The question arises, therefore, who borrowed from whom? The traditional view accepts what the Epistle says and therefore holds that Matthew wrote first and Paul used excerpts from Matthew’s Gospel. As Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians were written no later than 52AD, Matthew’s Gospel must have been written prior to that of Mark.

To avoid this conclusion, Markians state that the author of Matthew’s Gospel must have used Paul’s epistles. They assert that Paul’s Epistles were the first parts of the New Testament to be written.

But there is no basis for this claim, merely an assertion based on the need to uphold the Markan priority theory.


Clement of Alexandra tells us that Peter was indifferent to copies of Mark’s writing being made for the audience. But later, when he became aware of its favorable reception, he agreed to it being sent to the churches. This account points to two editions coming into circulation.

Archeological research confirms there were two editions. One included the last 12 verses and the other omitted them. Clement says Mark issued Peter’s words while Peter was still alive and Irenaeus says Mark published after Peter’s death. This is another pointer that two editions were published.



V: 12/2/13

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