A Study of Mark 16:15

“And He said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
(Mark 16:15)

These words were directed from Jesus to the eleven apostles. Notice that this commission or command was given after Jesus had risen from the grave. (Judas had already hanged himself.)

We have a prayer in our heart that God will bless us to rightly divide the word of truth. As the Lord enables us, let us first consider the setting. This commission was different from the first commission that Jesus had given the apostles.

The first commission was limited to the Jews in the flesh. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6)

We may wonder, why did Jesus tell them not to go into the way of the Gentiles?

First, let us notice that Jesus was born under the law. He said that He had come not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.

Under the law, only the Jews enjoyed the ordinances, ceremonies, etc., “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” (Romans 9:4-5)

The promises under the law did not embrace the Gentiles. The only exception we know of is any who desired to be adopted among the Jews. Notice Exodus 12:48-49. The Gentile, or stranger, would be under the law as the Jews and he would be circumcised, and then he would be as one that was born in the land. (Notice the 48th verse and you will see that this is adoption.) The Children of Israel in all their generations were commanded to observe the Passover. The expression, “No stranger shall eat thereof” has reference to the Gentiles. (See Exodus 12:42-43)

“And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually.”
(Exodus 28:29)

Notice that Aaron, the first high priest under the law, was commanded to only bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart.

The Gentiles were shut out!

This is a type of Jesus making intercession for Spiritual Israel, which is composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Verses 15 through 28 give the description of the breastplate. We call your attention to the 21st verse which states that the “stones shall be with the names of the Children of Israel, twelve, according to their names.”

To sum it up, we can see that the priests under the law did not minister to the Gentiles. For example, notice this command “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the Children of Israel, saying … ” (Leviticus 4:1-2)

If you read on, you will see that this is describing the procedure for the sin offering. The expression “speak unto the Children of Israel” is in Leviticus 1:1.

In Leviticus 9:3 we read, “And unto the Children of Israel thou shalt speak, saving, take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt-offering.”

The address to the Children of Israel reminds us of the Epistles in the New Testament. How about Ephesians 1:1 for an example: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to the SAINTS which are at Ephesus, and to the FAITHFUL in Christ Jesus.”

This Epistle of Paul was not to the world in general, but it is directed to the church at Ephesus and also embraces Gods people in this day and time.


Because Paul stated that this Epistle was also written to the “faithful in Christ Jesus.”

Also, the Gentiles were classified as heathen by the Jews.

“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
(Galatians 2:9)

We can see that the primary mission of Paul was to preach to the Gentiles. Remember, the circumcision refers to the Jews. (Romans 4:9, Galatians 2:7, Ephesians 2:11)

The first commission, which was limited to the natural Jews, was under the law. Remember that all the ceremonies under the law were limited to natural Israel.

The second commission (“Go ye into all the world”) embraces both Jew and Gentiles. The apostles were commanded to go and preach, and God would direct the preached word to the hearts of His people.

On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as THE SPIRIT GAVE them utterance. (Acts 2:4) Many were amazed at this, but some said the men were full of new wine. Now Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost when he preached, and GOD prepared the hearts of those to receive the preaching, and they were pricked in their heart.

Now, all that heard Peter’s preaching were NOT pricked in their hearts. Some that hear the preached word in this day and time do not get anything out of the preaching because their hearts have not been prepared to receive it.

“The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is FROM the Lord.”
(Proverbs 16:1)

“For unto US was the Gospel preached, AS WELL AS UNTO them: But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed WITH FAITH IN THEM that heard it.”
(Hebrews 4:2)

This Scripture proves that if we rejoice within our hearts in hearing a Gospel sermon, the Lord has blessed us with the gift to hear. (See Proverbs 8:34).

At this point we must be careful, and trust that God will enable us to enter into these deep treasures.

Now, let us ask ourselves this question:

Does this second commission only embrace Spiritual Israel?

“Go ye into all the world.”

What world does this have reference to?

Let us examine John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

We believe that this Scripture has reference to God’s people. One definition of world is: “A class of persons regarded as a body and distinguished by some characteristic.”

John 3:16 certainly cannot have reference to the universal world, because there is a people that God does not love, “Jacob have I loved, But Esau have I hated.” (Romans 9:13)

“I pray for them; I pray NOT for the world, but for them which Thou hast given me; for they are Thine.”
(John 17:9)

The word world in this Scripture and the word world in John 3:16 cannot mean the same.


Do you believe that Jesus would pray for a people that He loves?

Therefore, the world in John 17:9 means the universal world. Jesus only prays for his people, and we do not read in Scriptures that Jesus prays or makes intercession for all of mankind.

“And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
(Romans 8:27)

To sum it up, the world in John 3:16 means God’s people, and the world in John 17:9 means all of mankind.

“Go ye into all the world.”

If this only means God’s people, how were the Apostles to know who were sheep and who were goats?

Man looks on the outward appearance, but it is God that looks on the heart. (I Samuel 16:7)

If the world here only means the “sheep world,” why did Jesus say, “He that believeth not shall be damned.”?

Do not we believe that ALL of God’s people shall be saved, and not one of them shall be damned?

What about the parable of the sower? (Matthew 13:2-23)

Some seed fell by the wayside, some in stony places, some among thorns, and the word did not bear fruit in these places. Yet, it did bear fruit in the GOOD ground, and we believe it was PREPARED by God. (see Proverbs 16:1)

The apostles were commanded (we believe this also embraces the ministers of God in this age) to preach where God has impressed them to go – and not to limit themselves to the Jews, but to go into all the world, which means both Jews and Gentiles. It is God that GIVES the increase.

“I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
(I Corinthians 3:6)

“Go ye into all the world.”

We may think of it in this way: beforehand, the Gentiles were shut out, but now the door is open.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed BOLD, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”
(Acts 13:46)

As the Lord enables us, let us put the pieces together: the law was given to natural Israel, and Jesus came to fulfill that law. (Matthew 5:17)

“He went unto his own, and His own received Him not.”
(John 1:11)

The priests under the Levitical priesthood only offered sacrifices for the children of Israel. The priest bore upon his breastplate the names of the Children of Israel. Jesus, our High Priest, bore the sins of His people upon His shoulders. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for His people, both Jews and Gentiles. His blood has broken down the middle wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles. (Ephesians 2:14)

The command that Jesus gave: “Go ye unto all the world,” implied that the Gospel was to be preached both to the Jews and the Gentiles. The Gentiles were no longer shut out. The new covenant embraced God’s people among both Jews and Gentiles. God sent Peter to preach to some Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. (Read Acts 10:1-48)

We will quote verses 44-47:

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word, and they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”
(Acts 10:44-47)

We understand this to be the first sermon that was preached to the Gentiles. Notice that the Jews had first received the Holy Ghost. (2nd chapter of Acts) The 45th verse proves that some Jews went with Peter to the house of Cornelius. These Jews were astonished that the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Gentiles.

This is a broad subject, and we have tried to be brief. We ask the reader to carefully study the Scriptures and see if these views meet the test of the Scriptures.

By Woodrow W. Hudson – 1971

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