Mark 16:17-18 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often used to support the UPC doctrine that says a person must speak in tongues to be saved.

Facts: First, this is an apocryphal Scripture (see my comments on Mark 16:16). Second, if this Scripture means that all believers will speak in tongues then it also means that all believers will cast out devils, take up serpents, and heal the sick by laying hands on them. Finally, even if this Scripture is not apocryphal, there is nothing in it that says that all believers will do these things. It only lists some signs that will follow believers as a whole, not as individuals.

No one doubts that the early Church spoke in tongues, and quite a few Christians do not doubt that tongues and interpretation is still a spiritual gift that God gives out today. The problem is when people start to teach that all believers will speak in tongues, and they try to use Mark 16:17-18 to prove it.

22 thoughts on “Mark 16:17-18 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

  1. Mike

    I have heard many comments about the gift of Tongues, and whether or not they are for today or not, and if you need to be baptized in the spirit or “Tongues”, to be saved, however, nobody has touched on WHAT Biblical Tongues actually ARE.

    In the KJV, the word Unknown was in ITALICS so we would know that the Elizabethen English translated word ” Glossa”, or ” Tongues was NOT LEARNED, and the word Tongues actually means Language, not Gibberish. Tongues sole purpose was to give someone the gift of being able to spread the Gospel, even if the person you witness to did not speak your own LANGUAGE! !!

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  2. Larry Kinsler

    Baptismal Remissionists ( mainly church of Christ ) demand that Mark 16:16 is binding today, but deny that Mark 16:17-18 is relevant for today. How do they ” prove ” this? By going out of context to 1 Corinthians chapter 13. My argument is from the actual context of Scripture Itself. I conclude that the ” He that believeth and is baptized “( verse 16 ) and the ” them that believe ” ( verse 17 ) is the same group of people. If this is indeed the same group of people in both verses ( and it is ), and if what was commanded then ( baptism for Salvation ) is still commanded today, then logic and literal Biblical interpretation demands that what was manifested from the group then ( signs in verses 17-18 ) is still to be manifested today. When you are forced to go outside the immediate context to invalidate a verse within the context, then the argument is lost before it begins. One cannot say that the group of people in Mark 16:16-18 . If there is no time qualifier for ” he that believeth and is baptized”, as the church of Christ denomination affirms, then there is no time qualifier for the ” them that believeth ” since it is the same group of people being discussed.

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  3. Brittany

    I can’t speak in tongues. I grew up around it, I was never granted the gift. But I know that I have the Holy Spirit within me; for me it’s a “still small Voice.” Sometimes it’s a feeling of hope when everything looks hopeless. The Bible clearly outlines what “fruit” having the Holy Spirit at work in our lives will produce.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  4. Bob

    I’ve been a Christian a long time and have been seeking truth in the scriptures my whole life. There are many brilliant men in many denominations, sects and cults who claim they know the truth. Be wary! There are many deceptions and false teachers. Trust in the Lord and He will lead and guide you into all truth. There are true tongues from God and there are false tongues from the devil. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit opens up the spiritual world to the Christian which includes the gifts of the Spirit, dreams, visions and anything else God wants to bestow on his people. For those who doubt that the tongues is for today please meditate on Act 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” EVERYONE whom the Lord our God calls. If you are called, the He loves you and wants you to have His gift. It will change your life.


    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author


      I appreciate the attitude that your comment was made in. It wasn’t harsh or condemning and that can be like a breath of fresh air compared to some of the ones I get :)

      As far as your comment goes, the only thing that I would like to point out is that the promise being referred to in Acts 2:39 is the Holy Spirit, not tongues. Now, I do NOT think that the gift of tongues is not for today. It’s a gift of the Spirit, and if God chooses to give it to someone for the edification of the body of Christ then He will (cf. 1 Cor. 12-14). However, the focus of Acts 2:39 is on the Holy Spirit, not on tongues.

      With that said, a natural follow-up question is to ask whether or not the baptism of the Holy Spirit is always accompanied by tongues. I maintain that it is not for two reasons. First, Scripture never makes that claim. As a matter of fact, Paul specifically denies it when he says in 1 Cor. 12:29-30 that not everyone speaks with tongues. (I’m aware of the common argument that “the gift of tongues is different than tongues as the evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost,” and my testimony talks about how I searched Scripture in vain to verify that view–I wanted to verify it–but was unable to because it is simply not found in Scripture.) Second, we know from Eph. 1:13-14 that all who believe are sealed with the Holy Spirit, yet common experience makes it clear that not everyone who believes speaks in tongues. I expound on that point more in my article “What does the Bible say about salvation?

      In Christ,
      Josh S.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  5. Barry

    Hi there from eastern Canada:

    I appreciate your website and all of the comments, but I want to point out that I have a hard time discerning who is writing to whom, without spending hours on the site comparing one paragraph to another.

    I would suggest that it might be worthwhile to have a rethink about the way the material is displayed.

    And I must say that the person who said that there is no record in the Bible or anywhere else makes a very good point. Did the apostles drink poison ? Maybe they were forced to, but it doesn’t seem to be written anywhere in the literature of the early church. . . . . . or is it ?? This does not bode well for the authenticity of the last few verses of Mark 16.

    Just to share something on these verses. In my short investigations today re these verses I was looking at Clarke’s commentary. He comments with references of Islamic writers that Mohammed himself is said to have died by drinking some sort of poison. If he was an apostle of God [LOL] he certainly didn’t get any help from Mark 16.

    It is quite apropos in these days when we are being submerged by Islam

    I would be pleased to hear from you.
    ………. Barry

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    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author


      I may change the layout of the Web site one day, but as of right now I don’t see a real need to. All of the articles are written by me. The comments are written by site visitors. My girlfriend (who is also former UPC) may write a testimony at some point in the future, but for now it’s all written by me :)

      In Christ,
      – Josh S.

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  6. Katie

    I believe myself that the when you get the Holy Ghost you speak in tongues. I was in church at a non denominational church for 3 years before we started going to a UPC church. I got prayed for plenty of times and thought I got the Holy Ghost a bunch, but I never spoke in tongues. I was never free. I was bound and I felt like I couldn’t never get free. But, one night God at a UPC church we started going to, God told me to get prayed for and he was going to give me the Holy Ghost and he did and I spoke in tongues and I have had the POWER of GOD living in my life ever since.

    My husband used to tell me I had the Holy Ghost, but I knew I did not.

    He believes the same was you do about tongues. He used the scripture about do all speak with tongues and Mark 16 17-18!

    Me myself I believe speaking in tongues is the inital evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost, but does everyone speak in tongues all the time.. no!! So I don’t know, I am a new Christian, but I do know one thing, I was very lost when I was in a non-denominational church, and I have COMPLETLY SOLD OUT to God.. :D If it means I can’t cut my hair or I have to wear skirts and no makeup with my face all broke out then you know what I am going to do it. Do I think it is a heaven or hell thing to wear make up or the hair think, no, but I do think it seperates us from the “World”. :D God Bless You!!

    PS You and my husband would get along great! I do not agree with what ya’ll talk about!! ;)



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  7. Amy Fairchild

    Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is just receiving it. Yeah, you can use it, and I encourage that you do. BUT its not a requirement. The bible does not say receives the Holy Spirit and than speak in tongues. You receive it. It’s a gift. It also says that its to build your self up but it is Greater to Prophesy. And in one part in the NT he says its better to say 5 words in something you can understand than in 10,000 words that no one understands. Tongues is EVIDENCE of the Holy Spirit. I repeat EVIDENCE. God knows all therefore he does not need EVIDENCE. He already knows. So in this we can conclude one of two things maybe both, EVIDENCE is for man. Not God. But We are not here to please man and man or other men won’t get us to heaven. Only us and our relationship with Him and His Son can get us there. Second, I honestly believe that the evidence is for ourselves. A SELF ASSURANCE, to ones self. No one else.

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  8. Marijo Schneider

    Hi I am seeking answers on how to be saved. I know it is by the b;lood of JESUS. But it looks to me like a person needs to be baptised and then filled witht th Holy Spirit. I don’t know if that always means tongues. Josh do you speak in tongues. I believe all the gifts of the HolySpirit are operative today. Something happened that people could see when someone received the Holy Spirit. Thanks for you time, Could I get an answer e-mail just in case I can’t get back to this site?

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  9. Josh (Site Admin) Post author


    I appreciate you commenting, but I’m afraid that I don’t understand your question. I have never said that Mark 16:16-18 violates any grammar rules. I just reviewed the comments and no one else has made that claim either.

    If you would like to re-phrase your question so that it has something to do with the article that I have written then that will be fine. Otherwise, I must ask that you keep your comments limited to the article that is being discussed.

    Thanks for understanding =)

    – Josh S.

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