What would be the purpose of the Gospel accounts if Acts was never written?
As many would place doubt on Mark 16:9-20 even being inspired scripture, imagine if verse 8 were the end of the Gospel accounts and Acts had not been written. Mark 16:8 reads, “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.”
Guess what? There goes Matthew 28:18-20. There goes John 20:21-23. There goes Luke 24:46-51, but more so verses 52-53, “And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” Most modern translations footnote the passage (Mark 16:9-20), and the NIV 2011 prints the passage in italics, further indicating doubt as to its authenticity. This passage in Mark aligns itself right beside the other Gospel accounts while also giving a quick summary of the book of Acts.
In breaking down the aforementioned text (Mark 16:9-20) we can get a quick summary of the power of the Word of God, then in great detail we can read about the power of the Gospel preached and taught in its simplicity in Acts:
- “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). In Acts 1:8 the apostles were told to be witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” And they were. In Acts chapters 2-7 theGospel was preached in Jerusalem. In Acts chapter 8 the Gospel was preached in Samaria. Then because of the persecution by Saul and others, the rest of the book of Acts is spent with Paul (Saul) and others going to the ends of the known world preaching and teaching God’s Word. Paul went on three mission trips and was sent to Rome bound and in all this he and others were fulfilling the great commission foretold in the Gospel accounts.
- “He that belevieth and is baptized shall be saved. . .” (Mark 16:16). There are several times in the book of Acts where similar questions are posed, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” and many times baptism is in the equation of salvation, “Repent and be baptized.” But also in Acts we read of the very example of many being baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins; (Acts 2:41, 8:12, 13, 16, 38, 9:18, 10:48, 16:15, 33, 18:8, 19:5, 22:16). The evidence is overwhelming; in the Gospel accounts the command is given and in Acts the command is obeyed over and over. Maybe this verse is the reason many want these passages removed from Mark. One has to be outright rebellious toward God to refute or turn their backs on the fact that baptism along with the other acts of salvation saves!
- “And these signs shall follow them that believe:” (Mark 16:17). What signs are being spoken of? The book of Acts goes into great detail on many of the “acts” of the apostles.
- “In my name they shall cast out devils. . .” – Acts 16:18 “. . . I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”
- “. . .they shall speak with new tongues;” – Acts 2:4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
- “They shall take up serpents;” – Acts 28:3-6 “ . . . there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. . . 5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.”
- “And if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; . . .” There is a prophet of God in 2 Kings 4:38-41, Elisha took “death in the pot” as the sons of the prophets called it, and turned it into edible pottage. If this is done by a prophet of God I have no doubt that it can also be done in the New Testament to prove the power of God. I have no doubt even though there is no demonstration in Acts, that this was done many times especially with the many ways that the Romans were trying to kill Christians. If Mark writes that it was done, it was.
- “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Acts 9:32-35 “. . . And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.”
- “ So then after the Lord had spoken unto them. . .” – Acts 1:1-9.
- “he was received up into heaven. . .” – Acts 1:10-11.
- “and sat on the right hand of God.” – Acts 2:33, 7:55-56.
- Mark 16:20 is pretty much demonstrated in its entirety in the book of Acts.
Why would Christians not want to study the book of Acts today? It has so many infallible proofs and is the defense for most questions raised today concerning salvation, “What wilt thou have me to do?” This question is asked and in every way is answered in so many passages that there can be no doubt what one must do to be in Christ. There can be no doubt about where the remission of sins occurs – baptism – Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16.
Why would many want the Gospel of Mark to end with the disciples trembling and afraid to the point that they said nothing to no man? Ridiculous! If Acts were never written you would have precisely Mark 16:8. Fear and the end of the Gospel. Again, what a loving and faithful God we serve in that He left nothing undone. The Gospel accounts end in hope and the book of Acts fulfills and spreads that hope to mankind. Next week we will take a look at the book of John and how well it correlates with the book of Acts.