14. Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they [p. 343]
sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart,
because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.
15. And He said unto them, "Go ye into all the world, and preach
the Gospel to every creature."
16. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
believed not shall be damned."
17. "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name
shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"
18. "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
Gloss: Mark, when about to finish his Gospel, relates the last appearance
of our Lord to His disciples after His Resurrection, saying, "For the last
time He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat."
Greg.: We should observe that Luke says in the Acts, "As He was eating
with them [convescens] He commanded that they should not depart from Jerusalem,"
[Acts 1:4] and shortly afterwards, "while they beheld He was taken up."
[Acts 1:9] For He ate, and then ascended, that by the act of eating, the
truth of the flesh might be declared.
Wherefore it is also here said that "He appeared to them for the last
time as they sat at meat."
Pseudo-Jerome: But He appeared when all the eleven were together, that
all might be witnesses, and relate to all men what they had seen and heard
It goes on: "And upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of
heart, because they believed not them who had seen Him after His Resurrection."
Augustine: But how was this done "the last time?" The last occasion
on which the Apostles saw the Lord upon earth happened forty days after
the Resurrection; but would He then have upbraided them for not believing
those who had seen Him risen, when they themselves had so often seen Him
after His Resurrection? It remains therefore that we should understand
that Mark wished to say it in few words, and said "for the last time,"
because it was the last time that He shewed Himself that day, as night
was coming on, when the [p. 344] disciples returned from the country into
Jerusalem, and found, as Luke says, [Luke 24:33] the eleven and those who
were with them, speaking together concerning the Resurrection of our Lord.
But there were some there who did not believe; when these then were
sitting at meat, (as Mark says,) and were still speaking, (as Luke relates,)
"The Lord stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto
you;" [Luke 24:36] as Luke and John [John 20:19] say. The rebuke therefore
which Mark here mentions must have been amongst those words, which Luke
and John say, that the Lord at that time spoke to the disciples. But another
question is raised, how Mark says that He appeared when the eleven sat
at meat, if the time was the first part of the night on the Lord's day,
when John plainly says that Thomas was not with them, who, we believe,
had gone out, before the Lord came in to them, after those two had returned
from the village, and spoken with the eleven, as we find in Luke's Gospel.
But Luke in his relation leaves room for supposing that Thomas went out
first, while they spoke these things, and that the Lord entered afterwards;
Mark however from his saying, "for the last time He appeared to the eleven
as they sat at meat," forces us to believe that he was there, unless indeed,
though one of them was absent, he chose to call them, the eleven, because
the company of the Apostles was then called by this number, before Matthias
was chosen into the place of Judas.
Or if this be a harsh way of understanding it, let us understand that
it means that after many appearances, He shewed Himself for the last time,
that is, on the fortieth day, to the Apostles, as they sat at meat, and
that since He was about to ascend from them, He rather wished on that day
to reprove them for not having believed those who had seen Him risen before
seeing Him themselves, because after His ascension even the Gentiles on
their preaching were to believe a Gospel, which they had not seen.
And so the same Mark immediately after that rebuke says, "And He said
unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."
And lower down, "He that believeth not shall be condemned." Since then
they were to preach this, were not they themselves to be first rebuked,
because before they saw the Lord they had not believed those to whom He
had first appeared? [p. 345]
Greg.: Another reason also why our Lord rebuked His disciples, when
He left them as to His bodily presence, was, that the words which He spoke
on leaving them might remain more deeply impressed upon the hearts of His
Pseudo-Jerome: But He rebukes their want of faith, that faith might
take its place; He rebukes the hardness of their stony heart, that the
fleshy heart, full of love, might take its place.
Greg.: After rebuking the hardness of their hearts, let us hear the
words of advice which He speaks. For it goes on: "Go ye into all the world,
and preach the Gospel to every creature." Every man must be understood
by "every creature;" for man partakes something of every creatures; he
has existence as have stones, life as trees, feeling as animals, understanding
as have Angels. For the Gospel is preached to every creature, because He
is taught by it, for whose sake all are created, whom all things are in
some way like, and from whom therefore they are not alien.
By the name of every creature also every nation of the Gentiles may
be meant. For it had been said before, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles."
[Matt 10:5] But now it is said, "Preach the Gospel to every creature,"
so that the preaching of the Apostles which was thrust aside by Judaea,
might be an assistance to us, since Judaea had haughtily rejected it, thus
witnessing to her own damnation.
Theophylact: Or else; to every creature, that is, whether believing
It goes on: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." For
it is not enough to believe, for he who believeth and is not baptized,
but is a catechumen, has not yet attained to perfect salvation.
Greg.: But perhaps some one may say in himself, I have already believed,
I shall be saved. He says what is true, if he keeps his faith by works;
for that is a true faith, which does not contradict by its deeds what it
says in words.
There follows: "But he that believeth not shall be damned."
Bede: What shall we say here about infants, who by reason of their age
cannot yet believe; for as to older persons there is no question. In the
Church then of our Saviour, children believe by others, as also they drew
from others the sins which are remitted to them in baptism.
It goes on: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name
shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; [p. 346]
they shall take up serpents."
Theophlyact: That is, they shall scatter before them serpents, whether
intellectual or sensible, as it is said, Ye shall tread upon serpents and
scorpions, [Luke 10:19] which is understood spiritually. But it may also
mean sensible serpents, as when Paul received no hurt from the viper.
There follows: "And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt
them." We read of many such cases in history, for many persons have drank
poison unhurt, by guarding themselves with the sign of Christ.
It goes on: "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Greg.: Are we then without faith because we cannot do these signs? Nay,
but these things were necessary in the beginning of the Church, for the
faith of believers was to be nourished by miracles, that it might increase.
Thus we also, when we plant groves, strong in the earth; but when once
they have firmly fixed their roots, we leave off irrigating them.
These signs and miracles have other things which we ought to consider
more minutely. For Holy Church does every day in spirit what then the Apostles
did in body; for when her Priests by the grace of exorcism lay their hands
on believers, and forbid the evil spirits to dwell in their minds, what
do they, but cast out devils?
And the faithful who have left earthly words, and whose tongues sound
forth the Holy Mysteries, speak a new language; they who by their good
warnings take away evil from the hearts of others, take up serpents; and
when they are hearing words of pestilent persuasion, without being at all
drawn aside to evil doing, they drink a deadly thing, but it will never
hurt them; whenever they see their neighbours growing weak in good works,
and by their good example strengthen their life, they lay their hands on
the sick, that they may recover.
And all these miracles are greater in proportion as they are spiritual,
and by them souls and not bodies are raised.
19. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received
up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20. And they went forth, and preached every where, [p. 347] the
Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
Pseudo-Jerome: The Lord Jesus, who had descended from heaven to give
liberty to our weak nature, Himself also ascended above the heavens; wherefore
it is said, "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received
up into heaven."
Augustine: By which words He seems to shew clearly enough that the foregoing
discourse was the last that He spake to them upon earth, though it does
not appear to bind us down altogether to this opinion. For He does not
say, After He had thus spoken unto them, wherefore it admits of being understood
not as if that was the last discourse, but that the words which are here
used, "After the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received into heaven,"
might belong to all His other discourses. But since the arguments which
we have used above make us rather suppose that this was the last time,
therefore we ought to believe that after these words, together with those
which are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, our Lord ascended into
Greg.: We have seen in the Old Testament that Elias was taken up into
heaven. But the ethereal heaven is one thing, the aerial is another. The
aerial heaven is nearer the earth, Elias then was raised into the aerial
heaven, that he might be carried off suddenly into some secret region of
the earth, there to live in great calmness of body and spirit, until he
returns at the end of the world, to pay the debt of death. We may also
observe that Elias mounted up in a chariot, that by this they might understand
that a mere man requires help from without. But our Redeemer, as we read,
was not carried up by a chariot, not by angels, because He who had made
all things was borne over all by His own power.
We must also consider what Mark subjoins, "And sat at the right hand
of God," since Stephen says, "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of
Man standing at the right hand of God." Now sitting is the attitude of
a judge, standing of one fighting or helping. Therefore Stephen, when toiling
in the contest, saw Him standing, whom he had for his helper; but Mark
describes [p. 348] Him as sitting after His assumption into heaven, because
after the glory of His assumption, He will in the end be seen as a judge.
Augustine, de Symbolic, 7: Let us not therefore understand this sitting
as though He were placed there in human limbs, as if the Father sat on
the left, the Son on the right, but by the right hand itself we understand
the power which He as man received from God, that He should come to judge,
who first had come to be judged. For by sitting we express habitation,
as we say of a person, he sat himself down in that country for many years;
in this way then believe that Christ dwells at the right hand of God the
Father. For He is blessed and dwells in blessedness, which is called the
right hand of the Father; for all is right hand there, since there is no
It goes on: "And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord
working with them, and confirming the word with signs and wonders."
Bede: Observe that in proportion as Mark began his history later, so
he makes it reach in writing to more distant times, for he began from the
commencement of the preaching of the Gospel by John, and he reaches in
his narrative those times in which the Apostles sowed the same word of
the Gospel throughout the world.
Greg.: But what should we consider in these words, if it be not that
obedience follows the precept and signs follow the obedience? For the Lord
had commanded them, "Go into all the world preaching the Gospel," and,
Ye shall be witnesses even unto the ends of the earth.
Augustine, Epist., CXCIX , 12: But how was this preaching fulfilled
by the Apostles, [Acts 1:8] since there are many nations in which it has
just begun, and others in which it has not yet begun to be fulfilled? Truly
then this precept was not so laid upon the Apostles by our Lord, as though
they alone to whom He then spoke were to fulfil so great a charge; in the
same way as He says, "Behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of
the world," apparently to them alone; but who does not understand that
the promise is made to the Catholic Church, which though some are dying,
others are born, shall be here unto the end of the world?
Theophylact: But we must also know from this that words are confirmed
by deeds as then, in the Apostles, works confirmed their words, for signs
followed. Grant then, O [p. 349] Christ, that the good words which we speak
may be confirmed by works and deeds, so that at the last, Thou working
with us in word and in deed, we may be perfect, for Thine as is fitting
is the glory both of word and deed.