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Bible: What Does Mark 16 Teach Us About the Empty Tomb?/What Does Philemon Teach Us About Imputation?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ


The Women at the Tomb

Passing over the securing of the sepulcher (cf. Mt. 27:62-65), Mark recounts in the first eight verses of his last chapter the women’s discovery of the empty tomb (vv. 1-4).

There they also encounter the angel who subsequently announces Christ’s resurrection to them (v. 6), and reiterates what His disciples should do next as per the Lord’s previous instructions (v. 7; cf. Mt. 26:32).

Several details regarding the scene that Matthew omits follow:

(1) Salome accompanied Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to the tomb (v. 1a);

(2) The women bought anointing spices to prepare the Lord for burial (v. 1b);

(3) They worried about who would remove the “very large” stone for them (vv. 3-4);

(4) They encountered a young man clothed in a long, white robe sitting on the right side inside the tomb (v. 5);

(5) They reported that the angel’s message from Jesus mentions Peter apart from the disciples;

(6) Their fear kept them from speaking to anyone (v. 8).

Matthew, of course, describes the angel’s appearance in far greater detail than does Mark (28:2-3) and also notes the fear of the Roman soldiers (v. 4)—things Mark decided not to include.

He also indicates that the women’s fear did not prevent them from bringing word to the disciples of Jesus’ resurrection (28:8).

Ancient Manuscripts


Disputed Passage

The chapter’s last twelve verses do not appear in two of the most trustworthy manuscripts of the New Testament (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus); Ryrie, therefore, warns against building any doctrine or basing any experience upon them (New Testament Study Bible, 100).

Verses 9-11 indicate that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, who subsequently told the disciples who did not believe her testimony.

Testimony from two other unspecified characters still do not convince the skeptical disciples (vv. 12-13; cf. Lk. 24:13-35 where Cleopas and his wife (?) bring Him home for a meal, but they become convinced of Jesus' resurrection).

At a later appearance, Jesus rebukes His apostles for their unbelief (v. 14).

Afterwards, He gives them a shorter version of the Great Commission (v. 15), a salvation formula (belief + baptism)--a saying that does not square with the rest of Scripture (v. 16a)--, and He tells them about various charismata (exorcism, speaking in tongues, protection from snake venom and other poison, miraculous healing by touch) that some quasi-Christian groups have emphasized to their detriment and discrediting (vv. 17-18).

The gospel concludes by referring to Christ’s ascension and enthronement-- events that happen historically forty days after the Resurrection (v. 19; cf. Acts 1:9-10)-- as well as the beginning of apostolic world outreach (v. 20).


  1. What evidence is there that the only Scriptural mode of baptism is immersion?
  2. Upon whom did Mark depend as his source for this gospel?
  3. What is one cultural reason that accounts for the differences in Mark from Matthew?
  4. What does Scripture mean when it says that a prophecy has been “fulfilled”? (See 1:14-15)
  5. What word frequently occurs in this “action” gospel?
  6. What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
  7. What passages show that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had other children?
  8. What did Jesus mean when He said not to put new wine into old wineskins?
  9. Discuss how Mark’s account of Jesus’ encounter with the Gadarene demoniac in chapter five differs from Matthew’s.
  10. Discuss Mark’s stylistic divergences from Matthew in his treatment of Jesus’ relationship with the rich, young ruler.

The Apostle Paul


Philemon and Family


The Epistle to Philemon


Now a prisoner of Rome because of his faithfulness to Jesus, the Apostle Paul sends a short epistle via Timothy (a Christian brother) to Philemon (a much loved friend and Christian worker) [v. 1], Apphia, Philemon’s wife, Archippus, his son, and Philemon’s house church (v. 2).

As the apostle writes in most of his epistles, so he pens here that he desires that the grace and peace of the Father and the Son be with his readers (v. 3).

Paul again expresses his habit of thanking God for the good spiritual qualities which the recipients of his epistles reportedly exemplify (here, love and faith for Christ and believers [vv. 4-5; see elsewhere the same and different virtues—cf. 2 Tim. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1: 2, 3; 2 Thess. 1:3; Col. 1:3-5; 1 Cor. 1:4; Rom. 1:8]).

He prays that people, testifying to Philemon’s good character because of Jesus’ influence, might positively respond to his evangelistic efforts (v. 6).

Paul commends Brother Philemon for the spiritual refreshment that his agape has brought to many (v. 7).

At this point, the tone of the aged apostle/prisoner changes a little as he discloses a modification to his approach to a thorny issue on his mind.

Paul had thought to use his apostolic authority to command Philemon to follow through on a certain matter.

However, now he has decided to request lovingly his friend’s voluntary cooperation regarding the future employment of Onesimus, Paul’s convert in prison and Philemon’s escaped slave (vv. 8-10).

Meaning of the Name

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Important Salvation Term

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Recognizing that Philemon now regarded Onesimus as an unprofitable servant, Paul nevertheless asks his friend to take his slave back and consider Onesimus’ future service both to him and to Paul as harmonious with his name (Onesimus means “useful, beneficial”) [vv. 11-12; cf. Titus 3:8].

The apostle informs Philemon that he wished to keep Onesimus as his servant in prison, but knew that he could not rightly use his services without Philemon’s permission.

In other words, Paul does not want to compel Philemon to lend Onesimus to him, but he desires that Philemon voluntarily allow Onesimus to return (vv. 13-14).

Paul conjectures (“perhaps”) that God allowed Onesimus to escape from Philemon so that he would be captured, imprisoned, and then converted in jail, and that Philemon might receive Onesimus back as his brother in Christ (vv. 15-16).

Concluding his proposal to Philemon, Paul asks his friend to treat Onesimus as he would the apostle (v. 17b).

As Philemon’s partner, Paul announces his willingness to incur any financial loss that Onesimus’ escape might have caused (v. 18).

[Ryrie includes a short, insightful discussion of the clause “put that on my account” (New Testament Study Bible 397).]

After making official his offer to repay the debt by declaring that he himself has written the epistle, Paul reminds Philemon that the latter owes him his own self (v. 19).

[Ryrie thinks that this statement refers to Paul’s having led Philemon to Christ (397).]

He requests that Philemon refresh his heart as he has done the hearts of many brethren by following through on this issue (v. 20; cf. v. 7).

Certain that Philemon will comply with his desire and perform above the call of duty, the apostle asks his friend to “prepare a guest room” for him, so that he could stay with him after he is released from prison (vv. 21-22).

Paul’s final words to Philemon consist of greetings from his fellow prisoner Epaphras, and salutations from his associates Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke (v. 24).

He also requests that the favor of Christ would reside in Philemon’s spirit (v. 25).

Study Questions for Philemon

  1. Where is Paul as he pens this epistle?
  2. To whom is he writing it, and by whom is he sending it?
  3. For what does the apostle commend Philemon?
  4. Who is Onesimus?
  5. What does Paul want Philemon to do regarding Onesimus?
  6. What does the name “Onesimus” mean?
  7. What is Paul’s conjecture regarding Onesimus?
  8. What does the apostle offer to do to resolve the issue?

© 2014 glynch1


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