Mark 16: 17-18 (NASB) Reads:
17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
We have likely all seen the snake handling Pastors and Ministers usually in the Southern United States handling poisonous snakes, but scripturally is it correct?
It was actually in the year 1910, a man named George Went Hensley that introduced to churches in the Appalachian region, the handling of snakes. Many have thought that the scripture above was not original, but more of the church did view it as authority. And so it was interpreted as literal scripture, certain Christians obeyed the order to “pick up serpents.”
Acts 28: 1-6 (NASB) reads that the Apostle Paul although bitten by a poisonous viper he was indeed protected:
When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.6 But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.
Some Pastors have not only been bitten once but several times. Some die, so are those, not true believers?