The text of the last chapter of Mark is controversial. There is much evidence that suggests that the ending found in the earliest English translations is not the same ending that was in the original Greek manuscript. Just what the ending was and where the additional material came from is not clear.
I think it unlikely that verses 9 through 20 of Mark 16 appeared in the original. I do believe, however, that they are very ancient. I don’t have a problem as accepting them within the body of inspired writings, even if Mark didn’t write them. I would not, however, seek to build an entire doctrine solely on the evidence of these verses.
Here are the verses that speak about baptism:
“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15–16)
These verses bear some resemblance to the verses we looked at from the end of Matthew. And Luke has a similar “sending out” passage in the last chapter of his gospel:
“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46–47)
What do we see in Mark? That belief and baptism are necessary. And a lack of belief condemns. It’s not stated that a lack of baptism will condemn. Much has been made of that, despite most people knowing that the absence of something is hardly grounds for a logical argument. (unless, of course, you’re wanting to disprove a doctrine or practice you don’t like; then it’s okay)
Can you believe and not be baptized and be saved? To make an argument either way based on these verses would not be wise. It’s best to stick to what is said: if you believe and are baptized you will be saved.
So this post invites all sorts of comments: textual criticism, biblical canon, importance of baptism, salvation through belief alone. Let’s hear your thoughts!