THE WRITER OF THE SECOND GOSPEL
The second Gospel does not name its author. But very early Christian tradition says that the author is Mark. Papias (ca. 60-130 A.D.) tells us that Mark wrote what the Apostle Peter had told him. “Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered of the things said or done by the Lord.” We have no good reason to doubt that Mark was the human author whom the Holy Spirit led to write the second Gospel. Mark’s name is mentioned 10 times in the New Testament. His full name is John Mark. “John” is a Hebrew name for “the Lord is gracious;” and “Mark” is a name from the Latin that means “a big hammer.” Some scholars think that the first reference to John Mark is found in [Mark 14:51-52]. This strange incident is mentioned only by Mark. John Mark is mentioned by name for the first time in [Acts 12:12]. There we hear that his mother’s name was Mary and that her house in Jerusalem was a place where early Christians gathered to pray. [Acts 13:5] tells us that John Mark went along with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary trip. He served as their “helper.” John Mark went with them as far as Perga in Pamphylia and then went back to Jerusalem (13:13). When Paul and Barnabas were about to start their second missionary trip, Paul refused to let John Mark come with them because he had deserted them on the first trip [Acts 15:37-38]. Paul then took Silas with him, while Barnabas and John Mark sailed for Cyprus. It is evident that Paul and John Mark were later reconciled with each other. See these verses: [Philemon 24]; [Col. 4:10] (John Mark is called “the cousin of Barnabas” in this verse); [2 Tim. 4:11]. Peter also makes reference to John Mark. In [1 Peter 5:13] Peter calls him “my son Mark.” This is probably an expression of Peter’s close relationship with him. If the early Christian tradition is true, Peter would be the elder Apostle and John Mark is his dear young friend who wrote down what Peter told him about Jesus.
WHEN AND WHERE WAS THE GOSPEL WRITTEN?
Many scholars think that Mark’s gospel was the first Gospel to be written. They think that Matthew and Luke may have used Mark’s Gospel as their outline. About 95 percent of what Mark writes can be found in Matthew and Luke; this seems to indicate that Mark’s Gospel may have come first. If Matthew wrote his Gospel in the 60s A.D., then perhaps Mark wrote his Gospel sometime in the 50s A.D. We have no way of knowing for sure just when any of the Gospels were written; and obviously the date of writing is not important for our faith. Christian tradition says that Mark wrote his Gospel from Rome. In [1 Peter 5:13] Peter indicates that John Mark was indeed in Rome, called “Babylon” in this verse. He may well have written his Gospel when in Rome.
TO WHOM WAS MARK’S GOSPEL FIRST WRITTEN?
From the contents of Mark’s Gospel, it seems certain that he was writing originally for Gentile readers, specifically for Roman Gentiles. We can make this assumption for a number of reasons: 1) Mark uses 10 Latin words in his Gospel that would easily be understood by Romans but perhaps not by Jews. 2) He translates Aramaic expressions for his readers; Jews would understand them without translation (see 3:17; 5:41; 7:34; 14:36; 15:34). 3) He explains Jewish customs and beliefs which would not be understood by Gentiles (see 7:2-3; 14:12; 15:6; 15:42; 12:18). When we put these thoughts together with the tradition that Mark wrote his Gospel from Rome, it makes good sense to say that he was writing for Roman Gentiles.
SOME SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MARK’S GOSPEL
1.Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the Four Gospels. 2.It is “the Gospel of action” instead of a Gospel with long spoken sections like Matthew’s Gospel. Expressions like “at once,” “immediately,” “suddenly,” or “just as he was speaking” serve to keep the action moving along. He does not tell of Jesus’ birth but prefers to get quickly into the action of Jesus’ works. 3.Mark’s Gospel stresses the miracles of Jesus, and thereby shows Jesus to be the powerful son of God. Mark relates 18 miracles of Jesus, but tells only four of His parables.
OUTLINE FOR MARK
Theme: “JESUS IS THE POWERFUL SON OF GOD”
- Preparation for the Work of the Son of God (1:1-13)
- The Powerful Works of the Son of God (1:14-10:52)
- The Events of Holy Week and the Resurrection of the Son of God (11-16)
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