Mark 16:18

18 1they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; 2they will lay their hands 3on the sick, and they will recover."

Mark 16:18 Meaning and Commentary

Mark 16:18

They shall take up serpents
The Arabic version adds, "in their own hands"; and in an ancient manuscript of Beza's it is read, "in the hands"; so the Apostle Paul had a viper, which fastened and hung on his hand, which he shook off, without receiving any harm from it, ( Acts 28:3-6 ) .

And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;
not that they were hereby warranted to drink poison, to show what power they had; but should they accidentally drink it, or rather should they be forced to it by their enemies in order to destroy them, they should find no hurt by it: and Papias F24 reports of Barsabas, surnamed Justus, who was put up with Matthias for the apostleship, ( Acts 1:23 ) , that he drank a poisonous draught, and by the grace of the Lord, received no hurt: and the Jews themselves report F25, that

``a son of R. Joshua ben Levi, swallowed something hurtful; and one came and whispered to him in the name of Jesus, the son of Pandira (so they call our Lord), and he did well.''

It follows,

and they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover;
as the Apostle Paul did on the father of Publius, who was thereby healed of a fever, and a bloody flux, and also others, ( Acts 28:8 Acts 28:9 ) ; nay, some were healed by the shadow of Peter, ( Acts 5:15 Acts 5:16 ) , and others, by handkerchiefs and aprons taken from the body of Paul, ( Acts 19:12 ) . The Persic version adds, without any authority, "whatsoever ye ask in my name, shall be given unto you".


F24 Apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 39.
F25 T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 14. 4. & Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4. & Midrash Kobelet, fol. 81. 1.

Mark 16:18 In-Context

16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
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."
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]]

Cross References 3

  • 1. Luke 10:19; Acts 28:3-5
  • 2. See Mark 5:23
  • 3. Acts 5:15, 16; Acts 8:7; Acts 9:12, 17; Acts 28:8; James 5:14, 15; [John 14:12]