And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.Mark 16:15-16 ASV
Notice the dramatic shift to singular pronouns in these verses; although addressed to THEM and YE, You, that is the eleven, there is not a plural word afterward in these verses, this no doubt being designed by the Holy Spirit in order to thwart any application of Mark 16:17-20 to any persons whomsoever except the eleven.
Matthew’s account of the great commission is loaded with plurals, but there is not one in Mark’s account.
“Go ye into all the world” Christ’s assignment to the apostles was that of the universal proclamation of the saving gospel.
“Preach the gospel to the whole creation” The use of the word CREATION here is significant, this being the same word Paul used in Roman 8:19-21, where it is sometimes rendered “creature.”
The meaning does not include lower orders of life, but only humankind. Many speculative theories are built on a misunderstanding with regard to this. The KJV has “every creature” in this place; but the meaning is “every person on earth.”
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” In linking faith and baptism as binding preconditions to salvation, Christ made it clear enough that salvation is the result, not of merely believing but of believing and being baptized.
The reasons underlying this are as profound as the New Testament itself.
The Medieval theory of God’s imputing righteousness to a sinner is ridiculous.
There is nothing that God could put into a sinner that would make him righteous. And if it is suggested that God’s Spirit could do so, let it be recalled that God’s Spirit is not given to sinners, but to sons (that is, persons in Christ), as stated in Galatians 4:6.
However, there is a way that God makes people righteous.
What is that?
Thus, God’s plan of salvation is not that of imputing righteousness into sinners, but the transference of sinners INTO Christ.
The preconditions upon which Christ promised to transfer sinners into himself are here stated as faith and baptism.
There is no way that people can remove this teaching from the doctrine of Christ; but that they are able to get it out of THEIR doctrine is evident everywhere.
What this passage does to the theory of salvation by “faith only” is the inherent reason for the “reservations” that some have as regards the authenticity of this passage.
He that believeth not shall be condemned … Ah, but this does not say, “He that believeth NOT and is NOT baptized shall be condemned.”
True enough, but that is exactly what it means.
The close resemblance between the words of the Great Commission, as stated here and as recorded in Matthew, makes it clear that Mark is here relating events of the great Galilean appearance referred to in Mark 16:7, the same being further strong evidence of the unity of the entire chapter.