A. AUTHOR Mark, the son of a certain Mary of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) has been accredited by early historians as the author of this gospel. 1. Acts 12:12 His mother was Mary and from the facts that she had large living facilities and servants attending the door, she appears to have been well off and probably an influential member in the early Jerusalem church. It has been suggested that the upper room used by Jesus for the last supper may have been at her home and it continued as a meeting place for the apostles (cf. Acts 1:13). 2. John Mark was also a nephew of Barnabas, a Levite of Cyprus (Acts 4:36,37; Colossians 4:10). He started with Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey but returned to Jerusalem half way through the trip (Acts 13:13). 3. There was a strong controversy between Barnabas and Paul over taking John Mark with them on the second journey (Acts 15:36-39). Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus and Paul took Silas as his traveling companion. 4. Later we see Mark working with Paul and in his good favor (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24). Paul in writing his last letter just before his death requested Mark to come and help him (2 Timothy 4:11). Thus it appears that any early friction was removed when Mark proved himself a capable and trustworthy worker. 5. Mark also worked with Peter and may have been one of his converts. He was much the "son" to Peter that Timothy was to Paul. He was with Peter in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13). 6. Many believe the young man of Mark 14:51-53 was none other than the young Mark himself.
B. BACKGROUND 1. Papias, a pupil of the apostle John, says that Mark wrote down exactly, without mistake, the words and deeds of Christ though not in order. Papias says that Mark himself did not hear the Lord but wrote down the substance of Peter's preaching. 2. An early tract (the "Anti-Marcionite Prologue" c. 160-180 AD) says that Mark wrote this gospel down shortly after Peter's death so his preaching could be preserved. 3. Another source (the Muratorian Canon, c. 200 AD) represents the gospel as having been written during Peter's lifetime. Through the writing was done without Peter's hindrance or encouragement, he later encouraged it to be read in the churches. 4. Irenaeus (180 AD) writes "And after their [i.e. Peter's and Paul's] death Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the things preached by Peter." 5. Thus we may date the book c. 55 AD - 70 AD. Four Accounts of the Gospel Mark is the briefest of the four gospels. It presents Jesus acting rather than speaking. 1. Matthew's gospel is heavily Jewish oriented [ many OT quotes]. 2. Mark's gospel seems directed toward Latin speaking people. 3. Luke's gospel was for the Greek Gentiles. 4. John wrote to give the church the teachings of Christ (and that men might become believers, John 20:31). In critical circles many try to show Mark's gospel was the first and that Matthew and Luke used his material and simply elaborated more. Others take the opposite view that Matthew was first and Mark took his gospel and abbreviated it. Since there are several passages in each that are identical word for word, some reason that one must have copied from the other (cf. the feeding of the 5000, Matthew 14:12-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; or the healing of the paralytic, Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26). But let us not forget that these "gospels" were probably the same as the preaching substance of the apostles. They preached being led by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:19-20; John 14:26; 16:13) and the authors wrote by the power of the same Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16). It is only likely that the Holy Spirit would guide them in similar words describing the same thing. Sermons repeated have a way of becoming a formula. These gospel sermons were probably preached alike, much of it alike word for word, by all the apostles. They were much repeated sermons. When Mark wrote down by the Spirit's guidance the sermons of Peter he wrote down also what Matthew was preaching and writing, what Luke was hearing preached also, etc. Because there are identical passages doesn't mean one copied from the other, it can mean that they got their material from the same source the Holy Spirit, who is the true author of these gospels. C. CHARACTERISTICS Mark is the briefest of the four gospels. It is a narrative of dynamic actions. Jesus is presented as "doing" rather than "saying." 1. "Straightway" and "immediately" are used more than 40 times. 2. Mark repeatedly speaks of the impact, the awe, and astonishment that Jesus made on the mind and heart of those who heart him. cf. Mark 1:22; 1:27; 4:41; 6:51; 10:24, 26, etc. 3. Mark tells us more about the emotions of Jesus than other writers. a. Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit 7:34; 8:12. b. He was moved with compassion 6:31. c. He marveled at their unbelief 6:6. d. He was moved with righteous anger 3:5; 8:33; 10:14. e. Only Mark tells us that when Jesus looked upon the rich young ruler He loved him 10:21. f. Jesus could feel the pangs of hunger 11:12. g. He could be tired and needing rest 6:31. 4. Mark repeatedly inserts little vivid details which are the hall-marks of an eye-witness. a. Cf.. the added detail to Matthew 18:2 found in Mark 9:36. b. Cf.. Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17 and Mark 10:13-16. c. Mark alone tells how the 5,000 were seated, and how they looked like plots of vegetable rows in a garden 6:40. d. Cf.. Jesus and disciples on their last journey to Jerusalem Matthew 20:17; Luke 18:31 with Mark 10:32. e. In the story of Jesus stilling the tempest Mark adds one little sentence that makes the picture vivid before our eyes 4:38a. 5. Mark is very fond of the historic present. He speaks of events in the present tense instead of the past. 6. Mark often gives us the very Aramaic words Jesus spoke. Again this is indicative of an eye-witness. Mark always then gives the interpretation of those Aramaic words revealing to us he is writing for non-Hebrews. (cf. Mark 5:41; 7:34; 7:11; 14:36; 15:34). [These were probably the times when Peter could hear again the very sound of Jesus' voice, and could not help giving in his sermons the very words that Jesus uttered.] 7. Mark made more use of Latin loanwords than the other gospel accounts and some occur in the New Testament only in Mark. [Note also the evidence of Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13 which ties his gospel to a Roman audience.] 8. Mark presents Jesus being addressed as Rabbi or Teacher whereas Matthew and Luke represent Jesus as being addressed by the title "Lord." Some say Matthew and Luke reflect the post-resurrection practice while Mark is faithful to the pre-resurrection way of addressing Jesus. D. DESIGN 1. Purpose The very first verse of Mark provides a clear indication of the writer's purpose. It was to set forth "the good news" to bear witness to Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. 2. Outline I. The Servant's Coming 1:1-13 II. The Servant's Work 1:14 - 13:37 A. Beginning of the Galilean Ministry 1:14 - 3:6 B. Later stages of the Galilean Ministry 3:7 - 6:13 C. Jesus goes outside Galilee 6:14 - 8:26 D. The way to Jerusalem 8:27 - 10:42 E. Ministry in Jerusalem 11:1 - 13:37 III. The Servant's Death 14:1 -15:47 IV. The Servant's Resurrection 16:1 -20 3. Miracles Mark shows Jesus as the miracle-working Servant of God attending to man. Mark's picture is a motion picture showing Jesus in action, moving men to God! The Gospel of Mark records 35 miracles that Jesus worked. 17 miracles of physical healing 9 miracles over forces of nature 6 specific instances of expulsions of demons 3 raised from the dead Most of our Lord's miracles, however, are unrecorded (cf. Matthew 14:23; Luke 4:40; Matthew 15:30-31; 19:1-2; Luke 6:17=19; Mark 1:32-34; and John 21:15, etc.) The Purpose of the miracles was to authenticate the servant as the Son of God. (John 15:24; 20:30, 31; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4). -- Windell Gann