Luke indicated that Jesus said that he had given these special 70 disciples (ἰδοὺ δέδωκα ὑμῖν) the authority (τὴν ἐξουσίαν τοῦ) to tread on (πατεῖν ἐπάνω) snakes (ὄφεων) and scorpions (καὶ σκορπίων). They had the authority over all the power (καὶ ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν δύναμιν) of the enemy (τοῦ ἐχθροῦ). Nothing would hurt them (καὶ οὐδὲν ὑμᾶς οὐ μὴ ἀδικήσει). This is another unique saying of Jesus only found in Luke because he was the only one to mention these 70 special disciples and their return. The enemy mentioned here was Satan. This idea that nothing will hurt them can also be found at the end of the gospel of Mark, chapter 16:18, as well as Psalm 91:13, that they would dash the snakes. This is the same psalm that was cited in the temptations of Jesus. Do you know anyone who is not hurt by snakes or scorpions?
This is another unique section of this longer ending to Mark. Jesus was reminding his followers of what would happen to them. They would have special powers. They would be able to pick up snakes in their hands (ὄφεις ἀροῦσιν). They would be able to drink any deadly drink (κἂν θανάσιμόν τι πίωσιν), without it hurting them (οὐ μὴ αὐτοὺς βλάψῃ). They would be able to lay their hands-on sick people (ἐπὶ ἀρρώστους χεῖρας ἐπιθήσουσιν) and they would recover or become well again (καὶ καλῶς ἕξουσιν). They would be like miracle workers or super heroes with special powers.
This attack on the Pharisees and Scribes is somewhat similar to the attack that John the Baptist had against the Pharisees and Sadducees earlier in Matthew, chapter 3:7. When they came to be baptized by John, he was critical of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He told them that they were like a group of vipers or poisonous snakes (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν), who would kill young people. Here there is no mention of the Sadducees. But the Pharisees and Scribes are called snakes (ὄφεις) and a brood of vipers or a group of poisonous snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν). Jesus wanted to know how they could escape (πῶς φύγητε) being sentenced to Gehenna or hell (ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης). The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.
This saying seems to be unique to Matthew. Earlier in this work, he had John the Baptist call the Pharisees and Sadducees a blood of vipers or snakes in chapter 3:7. In chapter 23:33, once again he referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as vipers or snakes. Was he referring to the Pharisees here? Jesus addressed these people as a brood or offspring of vipers or snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν). How could they speak good things (πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν), when they were evil (πονηροὶ ὄντες)? Their mouths spoke (τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ) out of the abundance or overflow of their hearts (ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας). They could not fool anyone. Their evil hearts showed up in their speech, even if they tried to be good.
Psalm 140 is another in this series of deliverance choral psalms of David. This is a lament against evil men. David wants to be protected from violent people, evil minds, and war mongers. These evil men have tongues like snakes. Their lips were like the poison of vipers. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.
David then went into a diatribe description of the wicked ones. He maintained that the wicked peopple were so from their time in the womb, from their birth. This was the nature of the wicked, since there was no question of nurture. They were snakes with their deadly venom whether it be a serpent or an adder group of snakes. This adder venomous snake seems to be smarter or more cunning since it covers its ears so that the snake charmer cannot influence it. This is odd, but not out of line with the thinking that the snake, the adder, or serpent was evil.