Mark 16:16 says that signs would accompany those who believe and John says
that we can do greater work then Jesus Christ. What are these greater


Although I can certainly see how one might make the connection, I would be
cautious about using Mark 16:16 to interpret John 14:12. Let me start
with the John passage. It seems that in this context, Jesus is making the
point that the kingdomof Godis about to arrive in a special way, and that
those who are part of this new revelation of the kingdom will, almost by
definition, be doing greater things. Various words can be used to
describe the change which Jesus revealed was about to come about. It is
described as a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31). Some theologians call it a
new dispensation. Some call it a new kingdom, although that terminology
may be questionable. It is probably more accurate to say that the Kingdom
of Godcame in a new and special way at the Day of Pentecost, when the
Spirit was poured out on the apostles. Any citizen of a greater and more
special kingdom is greater than any citizen of the former kingdom (ie.
Israel). A passage which supports this interpretation is Matthew 11:11,
which says that anyone in the “Kingdom” is greater than John the Baptist.
Who among us would claim to be greater than John the Baptist? Yet, Jesus
says we are greater than John. Why? Because we are part of the spiritual
Kingdomof God.

The next question regarding John 14:12 is whether there is there any
actual, specific “thing” which those in the Kingdomof God(ie. those in the
church?those who are saved by Jesus) will be doing? I believe that actual
greater acts are not what Jesus is talking about in John 14:12, but it is
worth mentioning that those in the Kingdomof Godafter Jesus died and was
raised have the privilege of ushering people into salvation through the
blood of Jesus. Helping to save souls for eternity is an act greater than
anything done by anyone before Jesus died on the cross. When the Spirit
was poured out on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), this ushered in the new
manifestation of the Kingdom. Under the New Covenant, people can be
guaranteed their salvation, they can be washed by the blood of Jesus, they
can be given the Holy Spirit as a deposit (Ephesians 1:13-14). In that
sense, a lowly Christian can do things even greater than Jesus had done at
that time. It is extremely unlikely that Jesus is referring to miraculous
works in John 14:12. First of all, that is not the point of the passage.
Second, it is doubtful that any of us will surpass Jesus as a worker of
miracles. Even if we were to do the acts implied in Mark 16:16, we would
not surpass Jesus as a worker of miracles.

Lastly, this brings me to Mark 16:16. I have already shown that Jesus is
probably not referring to working miracles in John 14:12. This means that
Mark 16:16 will probably not help us to understand John 14. Nevertheless,
there are some, particularly charismatic Christians, who definitely see a
connection between the two passages. First of all, it is worth bearing in
mind that there is a significant amount of doubt about whether Mark
16:9-16 was in the original Mark. The early manuscripts did not include
this passage, and many doubt its authenticity. This may make
interpretation of this passage a moot point. In any case, Jesus appears
to be saying in Mark 16:16 that miracles will accompany those who believe.
I believe that if we allow the entire New Testament to give this passage
context, the most reasonable conclusion is that Jesus is talking about the
miraculous gifts which were found in the first century church by the
laying on of hands by apostles. This passage is not about the church in
modern times, but about the early church, when gifts were necessary in
order to confirm the message (Hebrews 2:4), because the New Testament was
not complete. What I am saying is that in Mark 16:16, Jesus is giving
the apostles a list of “signs” which will accompany the believers in the
first century church which could validate that they were from God.

To summarize, the connection between John 14:12 and Mark 16:16 is probably
not useful. In the John passage, Jesus is talking about a spiritual
greatness for those in the Kingdomof Godwhich no-one before?not even Jesus
had. Those in the Kingdomof Godhave the Spirit, they have salvation, they
have forgiveness of sins, they are in Christ. For this reason, Jesus is
not talking about the miraculous, and Mark 16:16 will probably not help us
to understand John 14:12.

John Oakes, PhD

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