Complete Study Of The Gospel Of Mark


Who wrote Mark’s Gospel?

It was John whose surname was Mark, Acts 12:12 / Acts 12:25. Mark or Marcus, was his Roman name, which gradually came to supersede his Jewish name, John. He is called John in Acts 13:5 / Acts 13:13. But he is called Mark in Acts 15:39 / 2 Timothy 4:11.

He was the son of Mary, a woman apparently of some means and influence, and was probably born in Jerusalem, where his mother resided, Acts 12:12.

Of his father, we know nothing, but we know he was a cousin of Barnabas, Colossians 4:10. It was in his mother’s house that Peter found ‘many gathered together praying’ when he was released from prison and it is probable that it was here that he was converted by Peter, who calls him his ‘son’, 1 Peter 5:13.

It is probable that the ‘young man’ spoken of in Mark 14:51-52 was Mark himself.

He is first mentioned in Acts 12:25. He went with Paul and Barnabas on their first journey, about A.D. 47 as their ‘minister’, but from some cause turned back when they reached Perga in Pamphylia, Acts 12:25 / Acts 13:13.

Three years afterwards a ‘sharp dispute’ arose between Paul and Barnabas because Paul would not take Mark with him, Acts 15:36-40. He, however, was evidently at length reconciled to the apostle, for he was with him in his first imprisonment at Rome, Colossians 4:10 / Philemon 23-24.

At a later period, he was with Peter in Babylon, 1 Peter 5:13. Then, and for some centuries afterwards, one of the chief seats of Jewish learning; and he was with Timothy in Ephesus when Paul wrote him during his second imprisonment, 2 Timothy 4:11. He then disappears from view.


History says Mark went to Egypt and was the ‘Founder of the Coptic Church’, for which Rome made him a ‘saint’. The name ‘Copts’ denotes the native Egyptians, ‘Christians’ as distinct from Muslims and other invaders and settlers, who entered the land.

There are many stories and traditions concerning Mark one example is that he was martyred in 68 A.D., having been dragged through the streets of Alexandria, where his body was preserved until 828 A.D. In that year, it was smuggled out of the city by merchants from Venice, to protect it from the Muslims who had captured Alexandria.

The merchants successfully hid the body under a layer of pork, which, of course, no Muslim would touch, and it is still kept in a Venetian Cathedral, which is said to have been built on the site of the house in which the bones were originally kept. Mark’s head is still revered in Alexandria.

To whom was it written?

‘Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.’ Ezekiel 4:10

‘The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle’. Revelation 4:7

Some suggest that these four faces represent Jesus in the four Gospels.

Matthew represents the face of the lion which implies Jesus’ kingship, Jesus is from the line of Judah.

Luke, represents the face of the man, which implies humanity, Jesus is the Son of Man.

John represents the face of the eagle, which molies Jesus’ deity, Jesus is the Son of God.

Mark, represents the face of the ox, which implies the servant, service, the serving Jesus.

Matthew was written for Jews and he uses the words ‘as it is written’ throughout his Gospel. Note the genealogy goes back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. Matthew 1:1-17. His point is to remind the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah in fulfilment of the Jewish Law.

Luke is written for the Greeks and he uses the term, ‘Son of Man’ throughout his Gospel. Notice his genealogy goes back to Adam, his point is that Jesus is for the whole world. Luke 3:23-38.

John is writing to those in Asia and he uses the term ‘Son of God’ throughout his Gospel. His point is to demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ through signs, 8 miracles and 8 ‘I AM’ statements.

Mark is writing to Romans and he simply talks about what Jesus is doing and how busy He is, which is exactly what the Romans were doing building roads etc., they were busy people. It was intended primarily for Romans. This appears probable when it is considered that it makes no reference to the Jewish law and that the writer takes care to interpret words that a Gentile would be likely to misunderstand.

1. Mark 3:17 ‘James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘sons of thunder’)’.

2. Mark 5:41 ‘He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’).

3. Mark 7:11 ‘But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)’.

4. Mark 10:46 ‘As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means ‘son of Timaeus’), was sitting by the roadside begging.’

5. Mark 14:36 ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you.’

6. Mark 15:34 ‘And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).’

Jewish usages are also explained

1. Mark 7:3 ‘The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders.’

2. Mark 14:3 ‘While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.’

3. Mark 14:12 ‘On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’

4. Mark 15:42 ‘It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath).’

Mark also uses certain Latin words not found in any of the other Gospels.

1. Mark 6:27 ‘So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head.’

2. Mark 7:4 ‘They don’t eat when they come from the marketplace, unless they bathe themselves, and there are many other things, which they have received to hold to washings of cups, pitchers, bronze vessels, and couches.’ See also Mark 7:8.

3. Mark 12:42 ‘But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.’

4. Mark 15:39 ‘And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!’ See also Mark 15:44-45.

He only quotes from the Old Testament twice

1. Mark 1:2 ‘As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.’

2. Mark 15:28 ‘The Scripture was fulfilled, which says, ‘He was numbered with transgressors.’

The characteristics of Mark’s Gospel

1. The absence of the genealogy of our Lord.

2. Whom he represents as clothed with power, the ‘lion of the tribe of Judah.’

3. Mark also records with wonderful precision.

1. The explanation of words.

‘James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘sons of thunder’) Mark 3:17

‘He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’) Mark 5:41

‘But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)’. Mark 7:11

‘He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (which means ‘Be opened!’) Mark 7:34

‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you.’ Mark 14:36

2. The position.

‘Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ Mark 9:35

3. The gestures of our Lord.

‘He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.’ Mark 3:5

‘Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!’ Mark 3:34 

‘But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.’ Mark 5:32

‘He took a little child whom he placed among them.’ Mark 9:36

‘And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them’. Mark 10:16 

He is also careful to record the following

1. Facts of people.

‘As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.’ Mark 1:29

‘Simon and his companions went to look for him’. Mark 1:36

‘Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.’ Mark 3:6

‘And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.’ Mark 3:22

2. Numbers.

‘He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.’ Mark 5:13

‘Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.’ Mark 6:7

3. Places.

‘Once again Jesus went out beside the lake.’ Mark 2:13

‘Again Jesus began to teach by the lake.’ Mark 4:1 

‘Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.’ Mark 7:31

4. Times which the other evangelists omit.

‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’ Mark 1:35

‘A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.’ Mark 2:1

‘That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Mark 4:35

The phrase ‘at once’ or ‘straightway’ as the KJV translates it occurs nearly forty times in Mark’s Gospel, while in Luke’s Gospel, which is much longer, it is used only seven times, and in John only four times. The word ‘immediately’ is used 12 times.

The leading principle running through this Gospel may be expressed in the motto, ‘Jesus came, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom’ Mark 1:14 ‘Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.’

Out of a total of 662 verses, Mark has 406 in common with Matthew and Luke, 145 with Matthew, 60 with Luke, and at most 51 peculiars to itself.

When was it written?

As to the time when it was written, the Gospel furnishes us with no definite information. Mark makes no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem; hence it must have been written before that event, and probably about A.D. 63 The place where it was written was probably Rome.

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Complete Study Of The Gospel Of Mark  


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