A 43-year lesson

(From an email I sent)

Last Sunday, pastor John MacArthur completed a 43-year preaching series through every single verse of the New Testament. He ended with what was the best exposition of Mark 16:9-20 I have ever heard in either Greek or English.

You can listen to his sermon here.

I could write lots about MacArthur and the impact that his teaching has had on me. I might not agree with all of his views, but his faithfulness, earnestness, humility and diligence in studying and preaching the Word of God has affected me beyond repair, and for that I am thankful. Suffice to say that God used him to make me understand Hebrews 4:12.

We are not all called to preach through the New Testament for 43 years. So what can we learn from a modern-day accomplishment like this? Is there anything we can take and apply to our own lives?

Some thoughts:

1. Time and energy invested in Christ is never wasted.

2. Retirement applies only to professions.

3. There is no useless age for Christians. We need wise, spiritual fathers and mothers as urgently as we need young hands and feet.

4. The Bible can speak for itself. Ultimately, we need only to proclaim it.

5. It’s never about quantity. It’s about God-pleasing quality.


Reading highlight of the week: Hugh Hefner will die alone.


5 thoughts on “A 43-year lesson

    • He prefaced it with an overview of ancient manuscripts, then moved into an extensive lower criticism of it, verse-for-verse. Given that he considers it a non-inspired text (and with good reason), he did an exemplary and very fair exposition of it.


  1. No he did not. He made numerous mistakes in his sermon. Bad mistakes that even a novice should not make. He misrepresented the manuscript-evidence significantly. In addition, his sermon contradicts the position that was taken by Grace Community Church in the 2007 material “The Biblical Position on the KJV Controversy.”

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.


    • It would be more helpful if you could outline for us the “bad mistakes” he made, as most of us are not textual critics. I saw your relevant defense on your website, but I admit that I haven’t had time to read through it all.

      I’m also not familiar with the GCC document you mention. Can you specify how exactly he contradicts this and why this demeans the content of his sermon?


  2. It would require pages and pages to explain all his mistakes. Here are just two:

    (1) He said that Sinaiticus is “about 350 and it’s the whole New Testament. The second important one is called Vaticanus, 325 and it’s the whole Bible.” However, Sinaiticus also has the Old Testament (including books of the Apocrypha).

    (2) Immediately after stating that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus end the Gospel of Mark at 16:8, he stated that we have 8,000 copies of the Vulgate New Testament, and 350-plus copies of the Bible in Syriac, and then he stated that these materials, when compared, “All say the same thing.” But the fact is that at the end of Mark, those 8,000 copies of the Vulgate include verses 9-20, and so do those 350-plus copies of the Peshitta (the standard Syriac version). Then he said, “So whether you’re reading a Greek manuscript, a Syriac Bible, or whether you’re looking at a Latin Vulgate or whether you’re reading a quote from a church father, it is crystal clear that they all had the same thing.” He is about fifteen-hundredths of a percent correct and 99.85% incorrect. In all the extant Greek, Syriac, and Latin copies put together, exactly *three* of them clearly conclude the Gospel of Mark at the end of 16:8, and thus say the same thing. In the rest of the thousands of unmutilated Greek copies, hundreds of Syriac copies, and thousands of Latin copies, Mark 16:9-20 is included as part of the text of Mark.

    Either he doesn’t know what he’s talking about (in which case he shouldn’t have said that he does know what he is talking about) or else he deliberate kept the evidence at a distance from his listeners, showing details when they supported his case and hiding them when they don’t.

    Regarding the 2007 position of Grace Church, I refer you yo
    http://www.sfpulpit.com/2007/01/22/a-short-kjv-detour-part-3-2 for a statement at the Pulpit Magazine blog, from January 2007. There it is stated, “Mark 16:9-20 has evoked no end of critical discussion. Many believe that this questionable passage should be deleted since it is used to back up the claims of charismatics; others, Grace Church included, believe that it should be considered part of the authorative text and rightly interpreted.”

    Obviously, calling Mark 16:9-20 a “bad ending” contradicts that.

    That quotation from the Pulpit Magazine blog-entry closely resembles a statement in a booklet called “The Biblical Position on The KJV Controversy,” which is online at, among other places, http://jcsm.org/StudyCenter/john_macarthur/KJV.htm , where it is noted that copies of it can be obtained by writing to Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. That is where John MacArthur preaches. In the preface and its conclusion, there is the name John MacArthur, as if it is John MacArthur who wrote it. Here is the pertinent statement from that material:

    “You mention Mark 16. That text has evoked no end of critical discussion. For many, they delete it because it simply solves some of their theological hangups. I know we differ on the charismatic issue and quite honestly, it would be easy for me to hide behind the cloak of textual criticism and conclude that because it’s not in some of the manuscripts, that therefore, verses 9 ff. are to be deleted. The evidence is not conclusive for either side, but a good case can be made for the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20 and I myself believe that it should be included and then rightly interpreted.”

    Again, obviously, this is not what Dr. MacArthur taught in his June 5, 2011 sermon. It is just the opposite!

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.


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