There was news in the Internet a pastor was bitten by a rattle snake and died. Thus, many anti-Christians questioned the Bible’s reliability and if promises of Jesus should be trusted.
“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”(Mark 16:18, KJV)
Of course, His words can be trusted.
The attacks against the Word of God is very illogical.
I can present three analyses.
First, does God answer all prayers “yes”? He will only answer us “yes” when we pray “In Jesus name”. This means we pray with His glory first and foremost in our hearts or we submit to HIS will. We are willing to let Him answer as He pleases.
We don’t hold a poisonous snake just to test God. God sees our hearts. There were many times when a person was forced into this situation for the sake of the gospel. They prayed for healing and God saved them. If we go around picking up snakes to test God, it is not about God’s glory but we just test God and try to bend His will. No wonder many snake handlers died of poisonous bites!
We have an account of a snakebite that happened accidentally.
Apostle Paul was bitten by a serpent in Malta while tending a fire. He flicked it off and was not harmed.
“After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta.The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us around it. Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live. He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.”(Acts 28:1-6, NRSV)
He did not look for dangerous serpents. He did not devote his services to toying around deadly snakes.
Second, the only other similar text is Luke 10:18-20.
“18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Here, Jesus spoke about His authority over serpents and scorpions. This is within the context of Satan’s downfall. These passages can be taken figuratively since Satan is depicted as a serpent in Scripture (Genesis 3).
The bible confirmed this as literal since it referred to as Satan Revelation 12:9.
“The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”(Revelation 12:9, NRSV)
Let us not interpret the words of Jesus in the Bible literally.
When Jesus called Pharisees snakes, did this mean they were really snakes?
“You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?”(Matthew 23:33)
The lies of people going against God are venomous like snakes.
3 The wicked go astray from the womb;
they err from their birth, speaking lies.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear, (Isaiah 58:4, NRSV)
Thirtd, Mark 16:9-20 is not in the oldest manuscripts like Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus.
This passage is not part of the original text of Mark.
This is the commentary of a respected New Testament scholar, Dr. Bruce Metzger in his Book, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.
Here are screenshots from his book regarding comments on the verses 9 to 20 of Mark 16.
There are no errors in the Word of God in the original text. The translations in our time are those with errors.