Does Mark 16:17-18 Mean That All Believers Must Produce Signs?

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not harm them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be made well.”

Mark 16:17-18

Are we supposed to perform signs like speaking in tongues and not be affected by poison that enters our bodies through a snake bite or if it’s swallowed? And, are we to heal people of any sickness that they might have? Are those the signs that we must do?

The Scripture teaches that not all believers in Jesus Christ will exhibit all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The signs mentioned in verse 18, “they will pick up snakes with their hands, and if they drink any deadly poison,” are not spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12. Only speaking in tongues and healing are listed. Not only that, but it says that not every believer will have all the same gifts.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, and those with gifts of healing, helping, administration, and various tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31

What did Jesus mean when He said, “And these signs will accompany those who believe”? The answer is found in verse 20, which says, “And they went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked through them, confirming His word by the signs that accompanied it.” Who are the “they” in verse 20? They are the Eleven, referring to Jesus’ disciples. The Apostles and some in the early church, going back to verse 17 “And these signs will accompany those who believe,” were the ones performing signs and wonders as a confirmation to show the people that their message was from God and indeed Jesus rose from the grave. For some examples of believers showing signs and wonders read Acts 5:12, Acts 6:8, and Acts 19:11. 

As a side note, the 12 Apostles were in a separate category of their own. They did things that the other believers couldn’t do. The 12 did miracles often, and even their shadows healed people. Those who were sick believed that if Peter’s shadow were to cover them that Jesus would heal them. So, their faith was in Christ for healing. This is evident when Peter said in Acts 3:16…

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know has been made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has given him this complete healing in your presence.

Acts 3:16

Can believers in Christ perform miracles today? Absolutely. But, it is whenever the Holy Spirit chooses to do so. No one can dictate to Him the best way He could use us. We are directed by God for His glory so that His will gets accomplished.