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Jesus Fish 3

New Testament Survey: The Book Of Mark

Written By: Steve Shirley

The Book Of Mark


  • Mark
  • The Bible uses 3 names when speaking of him:
    His Jewish name John (Acts 13:5,13)(Acts 15:37)
    His Roman name Mark (Col 4:10)(2 Tim 4:11)(Phile 24)(1 Pet 5:13)
    Both names together (Acts 12:12,25)
    (Over time, Mark came to be the name he used.)
  • Name means: “A large hammer”
  • Occupation: Unknown
  • His mother was named Mary (Acts 12:12). Barnabas was his cousin (Col 4:10). Nothing is known of his father, who likely died fairly early in Mark’s life.
  • Based on (Acts 12:12-14), it appears that Mary might have been a woman of wealth since her house in Jerusalem had a “gate,” and she also had a servant girl named Rhoda. Her house apparently was a place where people met regularly, and it was the place where people gathered to pray for Peter’s release from prison. Since Rhoda “recognized Peter’s voice” at the gate when he got out of prison without even seeing him, it seems Peter was a regular visitor there.
  • The early church fathers universally agreed that a man named Mark wrote this book, with the vast majority believing it was “John, whose surname was Mark.” However, a few believe it may have been another Mark.
  • The church fathers also agreed that while Mark may have “written” the book attributed to his name, Peter was actually the source of what he wrote. (This would give it apostolic credibility since Mark was likely not an apostle.) Following are a few quotes from these church fathers:

(Papias) (Bishop of Hierapolis: app. 110-155 A.D.) “becoming the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, though not in order, whatever he remembered of what was either said or done by Christ; for he was neither a hearer of the Lord nor a follower of Him, but afterwards, as I said [he was a follower] of Peter, who arranged the discourses for use, but not according to the order in which they were uttered by the Lord.”

(Irenaeus)(app. 185 A.D.) “… Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, he also gave forth to us in writing the things which were preached by Peter.”

(Origen) says Mark composed his Gospel “as Peter guided” or “directed him.”

(Justin Martyr)(app. 150 A.D.) called Mark’s Gospel “the memoirs of Peter.”

  • This view seems to be confirmed when we see how closely the outline of the Book parallel’s Peter’s sermon to Cornelius in Caesarea in (Acts 10:34-43)
  • It is also interesting to note how things that might have been an embarrassment to Peter are left out of Mark’s Gospel, but found in the other Gospels: compare (Mk 6:45-52 to Mt 14:22-33) (Mk 14:47 to Jn 18:10-11).
  • Peter calls Mark his “son” in (1 Pet 5:13). Peter was Mark’s “spiritual father,” having led him to the Lord at some point (probably prior to 44 A.D.)
  • It is believed by most that the “young man” who “fled naked” from those who arrested Jesus was Mark (Mk 14:51-52).
  • Mark (John) accompanied Paul and Barnabas from Jerusalem to Antioch (Acts 12:25), and then on their 1st missionary trip (app. 47 A.D.) to Cyprus (Acts 13:13). However, he left in the middle of the trip at Perga (Acts 13:4).
    [We don’t know the reason, and there has been much speculation. Some possibilities: because Paul was offering salvation to the Gentiles, homesickness, a family emergency, a change in leadership from Peter to Paul, worried about the dangers ahead.]
  • Three years later in (Acts 15:36-41), when Paul and Barnabas prepared for their 2nd missionary trip, Paul refused to take Mark, which caused a division between the two of them. As a result they decided to go their separate ways, with Paul taking Silas to Syria and Cilicia, and Barnabas taking Mark back to Cyprus.
  • After the split, it is about 10 years until we hear of Mark again. However, we find that at some point, Paul and Mark reconciled because Mark was with Paul during his 1st imprisonment at Rome (app. 61-63 A.D.). Paul called him a “fellow worker unto the kingdom of God” and a “comfort” (Col 4:10-11)(Phile 24). He also said Mark was “profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Tim 4:11).
  • Tradition tells us that after the death of Barnabas in Cyprus, Mark went to Alexandria, Egypt where he founded a church, becoming its first bishop. Foxe says that Mark was martyred there, being “dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria.” Several other sources say this “dragging” occurred on Apr. 25, 68 A.D., and was done by placing a rope around his neck, and dragging him through the streets until he was dead.

The Stats:

  • Chapters: 16
  • Verses: 678
  • Number of parables: 9
  • Number of miracles: 18
  • Timeline: App. 3 years (About one-third of the book dedicated to Jesus’ last week.)

Date Written:

  • Ranges from as early as 55 A.D. to 68 A.D.
  • Irenaeus tells us that Mark was not written until after the deaths of Peter and Paul, which would be around 66 – 68 A.D. About half of the early church fathers held this position, while the others say it was before.
  • The early church fathers were united that Matthew was the first Gospel written, hence the reason it is listed first in our Bibles today.
  • Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple in (Mk 13:2-3), and that later occurred in 70 A.D. If this had happened prior to Mark writing this book, it seems apparent he would have mentioned it.

Place Written:

  • Rome

Written To:

  • The Romans

Key Phrase:

  • Jesus The Servant (Isa 42:1)(Zech 3:8)

Key Verses:

  • (Mk 1:8-11)(Mk 3:28-29)(Mk 4:3-8)(Mk 6:3)(Mk 7:18-23)(Mk 8:27-31,34-38)(Mk 9:23,42-47)(Mk 10:17-22,44-45)(Mk 11:23-26)(Mk 12:28-31,41-44)(Mk 15:34)(Mk 16:6,15)


  • To show Jesus as the servant who was human and compassionate, but at the same time had “power” over evil spirits, disease, and death. Mark may have been trying to encourage the Christians who were being persecuted at the time he wrote it.

Special Emphasis:

  • There is a strong emphasis in Mark’s Gospel on “power,” “action,” and “immediacy.” We see this difference from the other Gospels right from the start.

(Mk 1:12) … “immediately” the Spirit “driveth” him (Jesus) into the wilderness.
(Mt 4:1) “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness…” (Also see: Lk 4:1)

  • Mark uses the Greek word “eutheos,” which means “straightway” or “immediately,” nearly 40 times. This is much more than the other Gospels.
  • He used this approach because these things were important to the Romans. However, he did not list a genealogy because where you came from didn’t matter the Romans (plus a servant didn’t need a genealogy).
  • Mark also took time to explain the meanings of Jewish words and customs which the Romans might not understand:

Boanerges: (Mk 3:17), Talitha Cumi: (Mk 5:41), Corban: (Mk 7:11), Ephphatha: (Mk 7:34), Abba: (Mk 14:36), Golgotha: (Mk 15:22), Eloi: (Mk 15:34)

The Day Of Unleavened Bread: (Mk 14:12)

Preparation Day: (Mk 15:42)

  • In addition, because prophecy was not of much importance to the Romans, Mark used very little:
Prophecy Fulfilled In
Preceded by a messenger (Mal 3:1)(Isa 40:3) (Mk 1:2-3)
Honor with lips, but hearts far away (Isa 29:13) (Mk 7:6-7)
The stone which the builders rejected (Ps 118:22) (Mk 12:10-12)
Disciples leaving Jesus alone (Zech 13:7) (Mk 14:27)

Jesus clearly proclaimed His deity several times in the book of Mark:

  • He claimed the Angels belonged to Him: (Mk 13:27).
  • He forgave sins: (Mk 2:1-12).
  • He called Himself the “Lord of the Sabbath:” (Mk 2:28).
  • In addition, the “evil spirits” also called Jesus the “Holy One” (Mk 1:24), a name reserved for God (1 Jn 2:20)(Ezek 39:7)(Hab 1:12)(Ps 71:22).

Key things found in Mark not found in the other Gospels:

  • The healing of a blind man at Bethsaida: (Mk 8:22-26).
  • The “young man” who “fled naked” from those who arrested Jesus: (Mk 14:51-52).
  • Most of what is contained in the book of Mark is found in the other Gospels.
    (This is why some scholars believe Mark was the 1st Gospel written.)

The last chapter of Mark:

  • There has been much controversy concerning the last chapter of Mark. Many newer translations today, particularly the NIV, add a note before verses 9-20 stating that “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have” those verses. Many scholars hold this position as well.
  • The two oldest and most reliable manuscripts that we have of the New Testament, Sinaticus and Vaticanus, do not contain these verses.
  • Eusebius and Jerome said most of the Greek manuscripts they had did not contain them. However, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Hippolytus endorsed them.
  • Verses 9-20 contain also differences in style and vocabulary (Greek words that are not used elsewhere in Mark).
  • It is contended by some that since Mark apparently would not have ended his Gospel with verse 8, what likely occurred was that his original ending may have been lost and another author tried to finish it.
  • There is nothing in these verses that contradicts what is found elsewhere in the Bible, but it would be unwise to form doctrine based on them (particularly verses 16-18).


Mark is in five principle divisions:

1. The manifestation of the Servant-Son, 1:1-11.

2. The Servant-Son tested as to His fidelity, 1:12,13.

3. The Servant-Son at work, 1:14-13:37.

4. The Servant-Son “obedient unto death,” 14:1-15:47.

5. The ministry of the risen Servant-Son, now exalted to all authority, 16:1-20.

(Survey from Scofield Reference Notes [1917 ed.]: Public Domain)

Copyright: © Steve Shirley