Gospel of Mark

Author: Although the Gospel of Mark does not name its author, it is the unanimous testimony of early church fathers that Mark was the author. He was an associate of the Apostle Peter, and evidently his spiritual son (1 Peter 5:13). From Peter he received first-hand information of the events and teachings of the Lord, and preserved the information in written form.

It is generally agreed that Mark is the John Mark of the New Testament (Acts 12:12). His mother was a wealthy and prominent Christian in the Jerusalem church, and probably the church met in her home. Mark joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but not on the second because of a strong disagreement between the two men (Acts 15:37-38). However, near the end of Paul’s life he called for Mark to be with him (2 Timothy 4:11).

Date of Writing: The Gospel of Mark was likely one of the first books written in the New Testament, probably in 57-59 A.D.

Purpose of Writing: Mark wrote as a pastor to Christians who previously had heard and believed the Gospel (Romans 1:8). He desired that they have a biographical story of Jesus Christ as Servant of the Lord and Savior of the world in order to strengthen their faith in the face of severe persecution, and also teach them what it meant to be His disciples.

Key Verses: “And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:11).

“‘Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men’” (Mark 1:17).

“He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’” (Mark 10:14-15).

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

“‘Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:33).

“‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him’” (Mark 16:6).

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation’” (Mark 16:15).

Brief Summary: This Gospel is unique among the Gospels because it emphasizes Jesus’ actions more than His teaching. (One of his oft-repeated words is immediately.) It is simply written, moving quickly from one episode in His life to another. It does not begin with a genealogy as in Matthew, because Gentiles would not be interested in His lineage. After the introduction of Jesus at His baptism, Jesus began His public ministry in Galilee and called the first four of His 12 disciples. What follows is the record of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Mark’s account is not just a collection of stories, but written with the purpose of revealing that Jesus is the Messiah, not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles as well. In a dynamic profession, the disciples, led by Peter, acknowledged their faith in Him (Mark 8:29-30). However, they failed to understand fully His Messiahship until after His resurrection.

As we follow His journeys through Galilee, surrounding areas, and then to Judea, we realize what a rapid pace He kept. He touched the lives of many people, but left an indelible mark on His disciples. At the transfiguration (Mark 9:1-9), He gave three of them a preview of His future return in power and glory, and again it was revealed to them who He was.

However, in the days leading to His final trip to Jerusalem, we see them amazed, fearful and doubting. At Jesus’ arrest, He stood alone after they fled. In the following hours of the mock trials, Jesus boldly proclaimed that He is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One, and that He would be triumphant at His return (Mark 14:61-62). The climatic events surrounding the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection were not witnessed by most of His disciples. But several faithful women bravely witnessed His passion. After the Sabbath, early in the morning of the first day of the week, they went to the tomb with burial spices. Whey they saw the stone had been rolled away, they entered the tomb. It was not the body of Jesus they saw, but an angel robed in white! The joyful message they received was, “He is risen!” Women were the first evangelists, as they spread the good news of His resurrection. This same message has been broadcast throughout the following centuries and we are its recipients today.

Practical Application: We are privileged to have this written record of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to teach us its meaning. Those who have placed our faith in Him must be people of action and obey His last command, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). The disciples obeyed (as recorded in the Book of the Acts), and so must we. At His return we will bow before Him in worship and praise.

Recommended Resources: Mark, Holman New Testament Commentary by Rodney Cooper.
Mark, NIV Application Commentary by David Garland.
The Gospel of Mark, New International Commentary on the New Testament by William Lane.

Related Topics:

Gospel of Matthew

Gospel of Luke

Gospel of John

Book of Acts

Book of Romans

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Gospel of Mark