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- THE TITLE
This gospel bears the name of its writer, Mark, or John Mark. Marcus was his Latin surname. His Jewish name was John, which means "gift or grace of God."
- THE WRITER
The writer was not an apostle. He is designated in the New Testament as follows:
- John, whose surname was Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37).
- John only (Acts 13:5,13).
- Mark only (Acts 15:39; Col 4:10; Phil 24; II Tim 4:11; I Pet 5:13).
He was a son of Mary, a woman of Jerusalem, whose home was the gathering place of the disciples (Acts 12:12). Here Peter went when he was released from prison. Perhaps Peter converted Mark on this or some other visit, for he refers to him as "Mark my son" (I Pet 5:13). He went on to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 12:25), and accompanied them as minister part of the way on the first mission tour (Acts 13:5). For some unknown reason, he quit the party at Perga and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Paul refused to take him on the second tour, so Barnabas, Mark's cousin (Col 4:10), chose Mark for his companion and went to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41). Mark was with Paul during his first imprisonment at Rome (Col 4:10; Phil 24). He was also with Peter when Peter wrote his first epistle (I Pet 5:13). When Paul was in prison at Rome the second time, he asked Timothy to bring Mark there, "for he is useful to me for ministering" (II Tim 4:11. Beyond this point, the New Testament is silent concerning Mark. Tradition says that he visited Egypt, founded the church of Alexandria, and died a martyr.
- THE GOSPEL
- The date: Probably about 60 A.D. and certainly before 70 A.D.
- Where written: External evidence favors Rome as the place.
- Language: All indications are that it was written in Greek.
- For whom written: It is a gospel for the Romans. There is no reference to the Jewish law, the genealogy of Jesus is omitted, all doubtful Jewish words are explained, Jewish money is reduced to Roman currency, Jewish customs are explained, etc.
- Purpose: To chronicle the activities of Christ in such a way as to convince the Romans that Jesus possessed real manhood crowned with glory and power.
- Subject: Jesus the Almighty King.
- It is a gospel of activity and energy. It is the actional gospel, portraying the active career of Jesus. Mark emphasizes the works rather than the discourses of Christ. "Immediately," "anon," "by and by," "forthwith," "as soon as," "shortly," "straightway" are terms that indicate rapid succession. These words occur more than 40 times. "Straightway" is the key word.
- It is a gospel of power over devils. They recognize Jesus as God's Son, and are here made subject to Him.
- It is a gospel of wonder. Everywhere Jesus is depicted as a man of wonder. He causes wonder, awe, and terror among the multitudes.
- It is a gospel of vivid detail. Everything is graphically reported.
- EXERCISES FOR STUDENT ACTIVITY
- The word straightway or its equivalent is used more than forty times in Mark. List all the places where it occurs, and note carefully the pictorial element in the narrative
- How many parables occur in Mark? Why so few?
- Make a list of all the miracles that appear in Mark. Why are so many given in this book?
- Why does Mark omit the genealogy of Christ?
- Make a list of all the places to which Jesus retired, and indicate the circumstances preceding and following each period of withdrawal.
- In studying the four gospel narratives note:
- Matthew shows that the Jews valued men as descendants of Abraham.
- From Mark we learn that the Romans valued men as they controlled empires.
- According to Luke the Greeks valued men on the basis of man as such.
- John shows that the church values men as immortal souls made in the image of God.
Published in The Old Paths Archive