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The Blue Letter Bible

Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Notes for Mark

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WRITER: John Mark — John was his Jewish name, while Mark was his Latin surname (Acts 12:12). This is the first historical reference to him in Scripture. His mother was a wealthy and prominent Christian in the Jerusalem church. He was a nephew of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). He evidently was the spiritual son of Simon Peter (1 Peter 5:13). The Gospel of Mark has long been considered Peter’s Gospel, as Mark evidently got much of the material in the Gospel record from him. In view of the fact that Simon Peter brought him to a saving knowledge of Christ, it is natural to suppose that he had great influence in Mark’s life.
Mark joined Paul and Barnabas before the first missionary journey (Acts 13:5), but he turned back at Perga in Pamphylia (Acts13:13). There is neither need to defend John Mark for turning back nor to explain or excuse his conduct. It is obvious that he failed in the eyes of Paul. Paul’s refusal to permit him to accompany them on the second missionary journey is witness enough (Acts 15:37, 38). It severed the combination of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:39). Let us hasten to assure you that John Mark made good later on — even Paul acknowledged him as a profitable servant of the Lord (2 Timothy 4:11; also note another reference made by Paul to Mark in Philemon 24).

DATE: Since this was the earliest of the Gospels written, the date of its writing was probably prior to A.D. 63. It is quite likely that it was written from Rome to the Romans. No doubt Mark was with Paul in Rome at the time. The Epistle of Paul to the Romans had preceded him and was in circulation there, so Mark had access to the epistle. It is well to keep in mind that Mark had the facts of his Gospel from Peter and the explanation of his Gospel from Paul.

THEME: There are two phrases in the first chapter that set before the reader the theme of this Gospel:

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” — verse 1
“Jesus came”— verses 9 and 14

Mark presents the beginning of the gospel. It is not the beginning of Jesus Christ, but the beginning of the gospel.
“JESUS CAME” — Mark roots this phrase in the prophecy of Isaiah and the proclamation of John the Baptist, and not in Bethlehem or in Jerusalem as we find in John’s Gospel. He begins with Jesus at His baptism, temptation, and His ministry in Galilee. Mark is the Gospel of miracles. Jesus is presented as the Servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 42:1, 2).
Jesus came, in the winsomeness of His humanity and the fullness of His deity, doing good. This was only the beginning of the gospel. He died and rose again. Then He said to His own, “Go.” The gospel was then completed. This is the gospel today.

KEY VERSE: Mark 10:45

PECULIAR CHARACTERISTICS: The style of Mark is brief and blunt, pertinent and pithy, short and sweet. Mark is stripped of excess verbiage and goes right to the point. This is the Gospel of action and accomplishment. Here Jesus is not adorned with words and narrative, but He is stripped and girded for action.
Mark is written in a simple style. It is designed for the masses of the street. It is interesting to note that the connective “and” occurs more than any other word in the Gospel. It occurs 1,331 times. It will reward the reader to thumb through the Gospel and note the chapters and verses where this is true. Modern rhetoric might consider it a breach of good grammar, yet there is no word that conveys action as does this word. “And” always leads to further action.
Mark wrote this Gospel in Rome, evidently for Romans. They were a busy people and believed in power and action. This Gospel was brief enough for a busy man to read and would appeal to the Roman mind. Few Old Testament Scriptures are quoted and Jewish customs are explained, which gives additional proof that it was written for foreigners. Mark was written by a busy man for busy people about a busy Person.

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