Mark 16:9 Commentary - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
9. Appeared first to Mary Magdalene A close comparison of John and Luke will perhaps show that our Lord could hardly have been seen first of all by Mary Magdalene. For as these women hasted from the sepulchre, Luke informs us that they were met by the risen Saviour before they arrived at the residence of the disciples. But before Mary saw the Saviour, she had gone to the residence of Peter and John, followed them to the tomb, was left there by them, and conversed with the angels before she saw the Lord. A comparison of the time of Jesus being seen by the women and by Mary Magdalene will show a strong improbability that the last occurred first. But perhaps the word first here is to be taken not absolutely, but relatively, as the following considerations may show.
In the entire remainder of the chapter Mark gives three appearances of our Saviour, which illustrate the matter of the unbelief which his resurrection had to overcome in the minds of the apostles. First of all, to Mary Magdalene, whose narrative was discredited; “after that” to the two from Emmaus, whose account was also disbelieved; and “afterward” (or rather finally, υστερον , Mar 16:14) to the whole eleven, whom he “upbraided with their unbelief.”
The word first then in this verse by no means implies that the Lord’s absolutely first appearance at all was to Mary Magdalene; but the first of this class of three cases. No more does the υστερον , or finally, of Mar 16:14 imply that it narrates our Lord’s last appearance on earth. Both terms may indicate the first and last of the three instances. Our Lord, therefore, may really have appeared to the company of women earlier than to Mary Magdalene. See note on Mat 28:7.
But the counter view of Milman seems to me perfectly satisfactory. Peter and John alone of the apostles had followed Jesus to the cross, and were probably staying not far from the sepulchre. So near were they that they ran the distance in a race. The other disciples had fled, had scattered, were very likely to be at Bethany, (the place of Christ’s seclusion during the nights of Passion Week,) and the appearance of Jesus to these women may have been on Mount Olivet, or somewhere else, long after the interview with Mary of Magdala first.
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Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) was a prominent university professor, theologian, and author. He served as Professor of Ancient Languages at Wesleyan University in Connecticut; as Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Michigan; and as editor of the Methodist Quarterly Review from 1856 to1884. He authored numerous books including Commentary on the New Testament (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1860); Commentary on the Old Testament (New York: Nelson & Phillips, 1873); What is Arminianism? (Toronto: W. Briggs, 1879); and Essays, Reviews, and Discourses (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1887).