Entering the Promised Land, 11:1-16:8

5. Epilogue, 15:40-16:8

ii] The Resurrection of Jesus


It was the first day of the week, Sunday, and three of Jesus' disciples, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, headed for Jesus' tomb to prepare his body for burial. They were unable to perform this rite on Friday, and felt they couldn't break the Sabbath on Saturday, but now were free to act. On reaching the tomb they found the entrance stone rolled away and a young man sitting on the right side, inside the tomb, looking very much like an apparition of some kind. Fear took hold of them, but the young man calmed them with the news that Jesus was risen, "he is not here." Instructed to report what they have seen to the apostles, the women scurry away from the tomb, filled with amazement, "because they were afraid."


You can't keep a good man down! So, what will you do about that?


i] Context: See Mark 15:40-47.


ii] Structure: The resurrection of Jesus:

The journey of the women to the tomb, v1-4;

Their meeting with the young man / angel, v5-8.


iii] Interpretation:

It's hard to imagine the gospel without a focus on the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, in my ministry circle, the gospel was very much focused on the resurrection; it is because Jesus lives that we may live also - He lives and is Lord. Paul, preaching to Gentiles in Athens at the Areopagus, doesn't even mention the crucifixion of Jesus, but instead, focuses on the resurrection, Acts 17:31. Yet, as if reflecting on Paul's letter's, Mark's focus is on the crucifixion of Jesus, on the atonement, not on his resurrection. Mark bookends his gospel with the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, 1:1 and 15:39, a truth fulfilled at the cross by the one who "gave his life as a ransom for many." For Mark, the empty tomb serves to prompt the reader to action.

In the first two parts of this his last gospel-sandwich, Mark has displayed the faithfulness and bravery of some female disciples and a godly man. Now he leaves us with three women confronted with the proclamation "He is risen!", and who, when told to proclaim the news, are overcome by fear and amazement, saying nothing to anybody. It's as if Mark is prompting the reader to consider their reaction. Is this going to be our response to the risen Lord - fear, amazement and silence?

Throughout Mark's gospel, the reader stands with Jesus in the face of amazement, disbelief and hostility. We witness it all - the good, the bad and the ugly. We are invited to see at close hand the disciples' painfully slow recognition of Jesus' person, a recognition that ends in betrayal, denial and flight. So, what is our response going to be to this death-denying man? Fear or faith?


Textual criticism: It is clear that the ending known as the longer ending, v9-20, as well as the additional material following v8, and v14, is not original. It is drawn from Luke and Acts and is clearly not Markan. Most Bible's print some, or all, of this ending with an explanatory note. Some commentators suggest that the actual ending is lost, possibly accidentally torn off the scroll. Either that, or Mark was interrupted before he was able to finish what he was writing.

Yet, it is not unreasonable for Mark to conclude his gospel where he does. Faith does not come by means of miracles, even the most significant of miracles, a resurrection from the dead. "Faith comes rather through hearing the gospel and personal encounter with the One who was crucified and now raised from the dead", Edwards.

We are left with the women leaving the empty tomb filled with amazement and fear. Throughout the gospel people respond to Jesus in amazement and fear, but only some move to faith. The reader is confronted with an event that will at least prompt amazement and/or fear. Will the reader follow the lead of the those in the gospel who move from amazement / fear to faith?

Note that concluding the text with gar is somewhat unusual, but the concluding clause efobounto gar, "for they were afraid", only has two words and gar, being a postpositive conjunction, must take the second position as a matter of form.


Historical authenticity: The sequential order of events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion are clearly outlined in all four gospels, but the events surrounding Jesus' resurrection do not fit perfectly into one consistent account. This has led some to question the historicity of the resurrection. Yet, it is worth noting that accounts of an amazing event often become somewhat confused. Wellington, Ney and Napoleon give differing accounts of the battle of Waterloo, but only a fool would suggest it didn't happen.

Those with an open mind, who study the source texts, will usually arrive at the obvious conclusion that the tomb was empty, and that on numerous occasions Jesus' disciples believe that they met him following his crucifixion. It is clear that the rag-tag dispirited followers of Jesus believed, without a shadow of doubt, that Jesus had risen from the dead. See The truth of Jesus' resurrection.


iv] Synoptics:

Matt.28:1-8, Lk.24:1-12, Jn.20:1-10.

The account evidences a primitive Semitic oral source which has also influenced John's account of the resurrection. Possible Markan additions to that tradition are evident in v7, underlining the tradition of Galilean appearances (the disjunctive use of alla), and v8b, the double negative oudeni ouden, "[said] nothing to no one" (the secrecy motif), and the consecutive clause, "because they were afraid" (the amazed / fear motif).


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes The Resurrection of Jesus.

Text - 16:1

The resurrection, v1-8: i] The women journey to the tomb, v1-4. It was the first day of the week, Sunday, and three of Jesus' disciples, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Salome, having acquired some spices, head for Jesus' tomb to properly prepare his body for burial. They were unable to perform this rite on Friday, and felt they couldn't break the Sabbath on Saturday, but now they are free to act. It is dawn, on the first day of the week - Sunday. In their haste, the women had not really prepared themselves for their task, for as they journey to the tomb they begin to discuss how they they should remove the stone from the entrance of the tomb. They will obviously need some help, but nevertheless continue on their way.

diagenomenou (diaginomai) aor. part. "when [the Sabbath] was over" - [and the sabbath] having passed through. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "the Sabbath", forms a genitive absolute construction, temporal, as NIV.

Iakwbou (oV) "of James" - [mary magdalene and mary the mother] of james [and salome]. The genitive is adjectival, relational. The preceding article hJ, "the", = "the mother", understood, serves as a nominalizer turning the genitive "James" into a nominal construction standing in apposition to "Mary".

iJna + subj. "so that" - [brought spices] that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that they might go and anoint him."

elqousai (ercomai) aor. part. "they might go" - having gone. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to anoint"; "go and anoint."

aleiywsin (aleiyw) aor. subj. "to anoint [Jesus' body]" - they may anoint [him]. Anointing with perfumed oil, olive oil or pistachio nut oil, is not for embalming, but simply to cover the smell of decay during the period of mourning. It would seem likely that Joseph of Arimathea had washed and anointed the body prior to wrapping it in a linen cloth and sealing the tomb and that the two Mary's would have witnessed this and realized that the proper preparation for burial had been fulfilled. So, it is likely that they were about "adding extraordinary honour to him after the completion of his burial", Gundry.


lian prwi adv. "very early" - [and] exceedingly in the morning. The modal adverb "exceedingly" with the temporal adverb "in the morning" gives the sense "very early in the morning."

th/ mia/ dat. adj. "on the [first] day" - on the one = first day. The dative is adverbial, temporal. The use of "one" rather than "first" is Semitic.

twn sabbatwn (on) gen. "of the week" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

anateilantoV (anatellw) gen. aor. part. "just after" - [the sun] having sprung up. The genitive participle + its genitive subject forms a genitive absolute construction, temporal; "when the sun had risen", ESV. This could be a time just before dawn, as John 20:1, but implies just after dawn. Note, that we are not actually told when Jesus rose from the dead, but when the tomb was found empty, namely shortly after dawn on Sunday, the first day of the week, the day having begun at sunset the day before. It is usually assumed that Jesus rose sometime during that night.

epi + acc. "[they were on their way] to" - [they came] down upon [the tomb]. Spatial. "They came to the tomb", Barclay.


elegon (legw) imperf. "they asked" - [and] they were saying. The imperfect is often just used as a matter of form for speech, and for providing background information, but it may serve here to indicate a move from narrative (the women were ercontai, "coming", historic / narrative present, v2) to discourse.

proV "-" - to [themselves]. Here expressing association, "with, in the company with."

hJmin dat. pro. "-" - [who will roll away the stone] for us. Dative of interest, advantage; "for us." The woman have failed to consider how they are going to move the stone from the entrance of the tomb. If they were properly prepared, they would have brought along some extra hands. As it is, they now have to trust that someone might be on hand to help them. This rather humorous oversight has already been corrected; the stone apokekulistai, "has [already] been rolled away" - divine passive.

ek + gen. "away from" - from. Expressing separation, "away from", as NIV.

tou mnhmeiou (on) gen. "of the tomb" - [the entrance] of the tomb. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.


anableyasai (anablepw) aor. part. "[but] when they looked up" - [and] having looked up. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV, or modal, expressing the manner of their seeing; "looking up, they saw." The prefix ana, "up", doesn't necessarily imply that the tomb entrance is up high, but that they are looking up from the pathway; "As they looked closer, they saw that the stone, which was a very large one, had been rolled back", Phillips.

oJti "that" - [they see] that [the stone has been rolled away]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they saw.

gar "[which was very large]" - for [it was very much great = it was very large]. Verses 3 and 4 are one sentence in the Gk. and so it is possible that this causal clause, introduced by gar, explains why the women were debating over the issue of who would move the stone for them, cf., v3. Its appearance at the end of the verse may indicate a parenthesis; "They said to themselves, 'Who will roll away the boulder for us at the opening of the tomb?' (for it was a very large boulder). But when they looked, they saw the boulder had been rolled to one side", Moffatt.


ii] The women see an angelic apparition, v5-8. On reaching the tomb, the women find the entrance stone rolled away and inside the tomb they see a young man sitting on the right side, looking very much like an apparition of some kind. Fear takes hold of them. The young man calms them with the news that Jesus is risen; "He is not here." He then instructs them to report what they have seen to the apostles, and so the women scurry away from the tomb, filled with amazement - "because they were afraid."

eiselqousai (eisercomai) aor. part. "as they entered" - [and] having entered [into the tomb]. The participle may be treated as adverbial, temporal, as NIV, or just attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb "to see"; "they entered the tomb and saw a youth sitting", Berkeley.

peribeblhmenon (periballw) perf. mid. part. "dressed in" - [they saw a young man] having been put on [a white robe]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "youth"; "they saw a young man who was clad in a white robe." The description of a person wearing white robes serves as an identifier of an angel, cf., Acts 1:10-11 - "two men in white robes." Angels are often identified as young man, youthful.

kaqhmenon (kaqhmai) pres. part. "sitting" - sitting. The accusative complement of the direct object "young man", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the "young man."

en + dat. "on [the right side]" - on [the right]. Local, expressing space / sphere. In the sense of sitting right inside the tomb, probably where the body was laid.

exeqambhqhsan (ekqambew) aor. pas. "they were alarmed" - [and] they were exceedingly amazed. The ek prefix probably intensifies. The amazement / fear motif is underlined by this rather strong word; "they were dismayed", Cassirer.


oJ de "-" - but/and he. Transitional, indicating a change in subject to the young man.

autaiV dat. pro. "[he said]" - [he says] to them. Dative of indirect object.

zheite (zhtew) pres. "you are looking" - [do not be amazed] you seek. It is possible that the clause is a question; "do you seek Jesus of Nazareth?" Lane, in line with Lightfoot, sees the use of the verb here as a slight rebuke, a kind of "why are you looking for Jesus here?" This seems unlikely.

ton Nazarhnon (oV) "the Nazarene" - [jesus] the nazarene. Variant - missing in some texts. Most likely used here as a title, as NIV, but possibly a double accusative, object complement, and so a geographic description, "Jesus of Nazareth", although a genitive would be expected.

ton estaurwmenon (staurow) perf. pas. part. "who was crucified" - the one having been crucified. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Jesus of Nazareth", as NIV.

hgerqh (egeirw) aor. pas. "he has risen!" - he was raised. The passive probably should be emphasized / a divine passive; "he has been raised."

w|de adv. "[he is not] here" - [he is not] here. Adverb of place. Establishing what type of resurrection the women now face - not a spiritual one, but a bodily one; "he is not here!"

ide "see" - see, behold, look. Serving as an exclamation and not a verb as NIV, so not "see the place", but "behold! here is the place where they laid him"; "Look, the place where they put him", Gundry.

oJ topoV (oV) "the place" - the place. Predicate nominative of an assumed verb to-be. Referring to the shelf or position in the tomb where Jesus was laid.

o{pou adv. "where" - where [they laid him]. Local adverb of place.


alla "but" - but. Adversative; "However, be on your way", Cassirer.

uJpagete (uJpagw) pres. imp. "go" - depart, go, be off. This command is followed by a second, an aorist imperative, eipate, "speak / tell". Decker suggests the durative present is possibly used for "what is the most urgent of the two commands." They have "to go" before they can "tell."

tw/ petrw/ (oV) dat. "Peter" - [tell the disciples of him and] peter. Dative of indirect object. Why is Peter singled out? Gundry suggests that Peter, having publicly denied Christ, is now not with the dispirited band of disciples presently residing together with some of the women, probably in Jerusalem somewhere. So, the message is to be conveyed to the disciples, but also to Peter (adjunctive kai), so including him, despite his denial.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect / direct speech expressing what should be told them / what he told them.

proagei (proagw) pres. "he is going ahead" - he goes before [you into galilee]. "He is on his way before you", TH, giving the sense "lead". "Jesus goes before / leads his disciples out of Jerusalem and puts them on the road toward Galilee, where their life with him will begin again", Marcus. This move out of Jerusalem to Galilee and then to the world, does not preclude the appearances in Jerusalem which clearly followed the discovery of the empty tomb. Jesus promised that he "will go before" the disciples to Galilee, 14:28, and now the angel announces that this promise is about to be fulfilled; he "is going before."

ekei auton oyesqe "there you will see him" - there you will see him. Turner proposes that this statement should be treated as a parenthesis and so bracketed. It has been suggested that oJraw, "see", here refers to Jesus' parousia, but it is more likely to refer to post resurrection appearances, first to Peter, and then the apostles, ......, ICor:15:5.

kaqwV "just as" - as. Here the comparative establishes a characteristic quality / standard, "exactly as / in accordance with"; "just as he told you that he would."

uJmin dat. pro. "you" - [he told] you. Dative of indirect object.


Fear overwhelmed the woman and reduced them to silence.

exelqousai (exercomai) aor. part. "the women went out" - [and] having gone out. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "they fled."

apo + gen. "from" - [they fled] from [the tomb]. Expressing separation; "away from the tomb."

gar "-" - for [trembling, quivering, ..... and amazement, astonishment, terror, confusion, ..... seized them]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the women fled the tomb.

oudeni dat. adj. "to anyone" - [and they told nothing] to no one. Dative of indirect object. Note the double negative for emphasis.

gar "because" - for [they were afraid]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why they said nothing to anyone. For the use of gar here, see note above in Interpretation, Textual Criticism.




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