Authorship

All sources outside of the Bible in the first few centuries AD attribute this Gospel to Mark, also called John Mark (Acts 12:12,15:37), who was the son of a woman named Mary whose house in Jerusalem was a meeting place for believers in the early church (Acts 12:12). He also served as a helper to the apostle Paul (Acts 12:25; 13:5,13; Col 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11; Phil 24). According to early church fathers such as Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Eusebius, Mark was closely associated with the apostle Peter in Rome near the time of Peter’s death (approximately 65 AD). Mark is therefore considered “Peter’s interpreter” and seems to have served as Peter’s penman and written the details of his Gospel according to what he learned from Peter himself. Thus, while Mark is recognized as the author of the Gospel, the book of Mark is often seen as Peter’s contribution to the record of the words and works of his teacher Jesus. Some also consider Mark to have included a sort of personal confession as one who fled when Jesus was betrayed and arrested (Mk 14:51-52).

Place and Date of Writing

Since John Mark is said to have been a helper of the apostle Peter in Rome toward the end of Peter’s life, it is believed he wrote his Gospel in Rome sometime shortly before Peter’s death around 65 AD. Some see Peter’s promise in 2 Peter 1:15 as a shadow reference to Mark’s Gospel, and thus it’s possible it was written sometime after Peter wrote the epistle of 2 Peter. This would also fit with the fact that Mark includes Jesus’ prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem but does not mention the destruction of Jerusalem having occurred yet. The destruction of Jerusalem occurred in 70 AD. Rome as the location of writing is also seen in the many Latinisms found in the Gospel (Latin was the language of Rome), as well as explanations of certain Greek and Semitic terms and customs (for example, Mk 3:17, 5:41, 15:22) and the little amount of Old Testament quotes used throughout.

See also the Chronology of New Testament Books.

Purpose for Writing

The main purpose of Mark’s Gospel is to show Jesus as the Almighty Son of God. Such an emphasis was perhaps to capture the attention of Romans, who often viewed Jesus simply as a lowly and despised Jew. The power of Jesus through miracles and other events are heavily featured all to prove that Jesus is the Lord and Conqueror of all for all (see Mark 1:1 and 15:39).

A secondary purpose could be connected to the historical situation in Rome during the end of Peter’s life, that is, the persecutions that broke out against Christians during the reign of Nero. Mark seems to focus much on persecution, suffering, and discipleship in his Gospel (see Mark 1:12-13; 3:22,30; 8:34-38; 10:30,33-34,45; 13:8,11-13).1Wenthe, Dean O. Concordia Self-Study Bible. Edited by Robert G. Hoerber, Walter R. Roehrs, and Horace D. Hummel. United States: Concordia Publishing House, 1990.

Peter’s influence can be seen throughout the Gospel, with details included about events that reveal an eyewitness’ impact. It also bears similarities with what we see of Peter’s brash personality, with use of rough, excited Greek as well as a fast-moving narrative (seen by the many uses of “and immediately”).

See also the Composite of the Four Gospels, the Events of Holy Week, and the Order of Resurrection Events.

Notable Passages

One could mark every passage in the Gospels as a notable passage, but select passages are listed below.

  • Mark 1:9-15
  • Mark 2:17
  • Mark 4:1-41
  • Mark 8:27-38
  • Mark 9:2-9
  • Mark 9:35-37
  • Mark 10:13-16
  • Mark 10:42-45
  • Mark 14:17-25
  • Mark 15:12-47
  • Mark 16:1-8
  • Mark 16:16

Outline

  1. Prologue (Mk 1:1-13)
  2. The Christ, the Son of God, in Galilee and Beyond (Mk 1:14-8:30)
  3. The Christ, the Son of God, in His Suffering, Death, and Resurrection (Mk 8:31-16:20)

References   [ + ]

1. Wenthe, Dean O. Concordia Self-Study Bible. Edited by Robert G. Hoerber, Walter R. Roehrs, and Horace D. Hummel. United States: Concordia Publishing House, 1990.