He was the son of Mary, a woman apparently of some means and influence, and was probably born in Jerusalem, where his mother resided (Acts 12:12). Of his father we know nothing. He was cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). It was in his mother's house that Peter found "many gathered together praying" when he was released from prison; and it is probable that it was here that he was converted by Peter, who calls him his "son" (1 Peter 5:13). It is probable that the "young man" spoken of in Mark 14:51,52 was Mark himself. He is first mentioned in Acts 12:25. He went with Paul and Barnabas on their first journey (about A.D. 47) as their "minister," but from some cause turned back when they reached Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 12:25; 13:13). Three years afterwards a "sharp contention" arose between Paul and Barnabas (15:36-40), because Paul would not take Mark with him. He, however, was evidently at length reconciled to the apostle, for he was with him in his first imprisonment at Rome (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24). At a later period he was with Peter in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13), then, and for some centuries afterwards, one of the chief seats of Jewish learning; and he was with Timothy in Ephesus when Paul wrote him during his second imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:11). He then disappears from view.
As to the time when it was written, the Gospel furnishes us with no definite information. Mark makes no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem, hence it must have been written before that event, and probably about A.D. 63.
The place where it was written was probably Rome. Some have supposed Antioch (Compare Mark 15:21 with Acts 11:20).
It was intended primarily for Romans.
This appears probable when it is considered that it makes no reference to the Jewish law, and that the writer takes care to interpret words which a Gentile would be likely to misunderstand, such as, "Boanerges" (3:17); "Talitha cumi" (5:41); "Corban" (7:11); "Bartimaeus" (10:46); "Abba" (14:36); "Eloi," etc. (15:34). Jewish usages are also explained (7:3; 14:3; 14:12; 15:42).
Mark also uses certain Latin words not found in any of the other Gospels, as "speculator" (6:27, rendered, A.V., "executioner;" RSV, "soldier of his guard"), "xestes" (a corruption of sextarius, rendered "pots," 7:4,8), "quadrans" (12:42, rendered "a farthing"), "centurion" (15:39,44,45).
He only twice quotes from the Old Testament (1:2; 15:28).
The characteristics of this Gospel are,
(1) the absence of the genealogy of our Lord,
(2) whom he represents as clothed with power, the "lion of the tribe of Judah."
Mark also records with wonderful minuteness the very words (3:17; 5:41; 7:11,34; 14:36) as well as the position (9:35) and gestures (3:5,34; 5:32; 9:36; 10:16) of our Lord.
He is also careful to record particulars of person (1:29,36; 3:6,22, etc.), number (5:13; 6:7, etc.), place (2:13; 4:1; 7:31, etc.), and time (1:35; 2:1; 4:35, etc.), which the other evangelists omit.
The phrase "and straightway" occurs nearly forty times in this Gospel; while in Luke's Gospel, which is much longer, it is used only seven times, and in John only four times.
"The Gospel of Mark," says Westcott, "is essentially a transcript from life. The course and issue of facts are imaged in it with the clearest outline." "In Mark we have no attempt to draw up a continuous narrative. His Gospel is a rapid succession of vivid pictures loosely strung together without much attempt to bind them into a whole or give the events in their natural sequence. This pictorial power is that which specially characterizes this evangelist, so that 'if any one desires to know an evangelical fact, not only in its main features and grand results, but also in its most minute and so to speak more graphic delineation, he must betake himself to Mark.'" The leading principle running through this Gospel may be expressed in the motto: "Jesus came...preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Mark 1:14).
"Out of a total of 662 verses, Mark has 406 in common with Matthew and Luke, 145 with Matthew, 60 with Luke, and at most 51 peculiar to itself." (See MATTHEW.)
one of the evangelists, and probable author of the Gospel bearing his name. (Marcus was his Latin surname. His Jewish name was John, which is the same as Johanan (the grace of God ). We can almost trace the steps whereby the former became his prevalent name in the Church. "John, whose surname was Mark" in (Acts 12:12,25; 15:37) becomes "John" alone in (Acts 13:5,13) "Mark" in (Acts 15:39) and thenceforward there is no change. (Colossians 4:10); Phlm 1:24; 2Tim 4:11
The evangelist was the son of a certain Mary, a Jewish matron of some position who dwelt in Jerusalem, (Acts 12:12) and was probably born of a Hellenistic family in that city. Of his father we know nothing; but we do know that the future evangelist was cousin of Barnabas of Cyprus, the great friend of St. Paul. His mother would seem to have been intimately acquainted with St. Peter, and it was to her house, as to a familiar home, that the apostle repaired, A.D. 44, after his deliverance from prison (Acts 12:12) This fact accounts for St. Markís intimate acquaintance with that apostle, to whom also he probably owed his conversion, for St. Peter calls him his son. (1 Peter 5:13)
We hear of him for the first time in Acts 15:25 where we find him accompanying and Barnabas on their return from Jerusalem to Antioch, A.D. 45. He next comes before us on the occasion of the earliest missionary journey of the same apostles, A.D. 48, when he joined them as their "minister." (Acts 13:8) With them he visited Cyprus; but at Perga in Pamphylia, (Acts 13:13) when they were about to enter upon the more arduous part of their mission, he left them, and, for some unexplained reason, returned to Jerusalem to his mother and his home. Notwithstanding this, we find him at Paulís side during that apostleís first imprisonment at Rome, A.D. 61-63, and he Is acknowledged by him as one of his few fellow laborers who had been a "comfort" to him during the weary hours of his imprisonment. (Colossians 4:10,11); Phle 1:24 We next have traces of him in (1 Peter 5:13) "The church that is in Babylon ... saluteth you, and so doth Marcus my son." From this we infer that he joined his spiritual father, the great friend of his mother, at Babylon, then and for same hundred years afterward one of the chief seats of Jewish culture. From Babylon he would seem to have returned to Asia Minor; for during his second imprisonment A.D. 68 St. Paul, writing to Timothy charges him to bring Mark with him to me, on the ground that he was "profitable to him For the ministry." (2 Timothy 4:11) From this point we gain no further information from the New Testament respecting the evangelist. It is most probable, however that he did join the apostle at Rome whither also St. Peter would seem to have proceeded, and suffered martyrdom with St. Paul.
After the death of these two great pillars of the Church, ecclesiastical tradition affirms that
St. Mark visited Egypt,
founded the church of Alexandria,
and died by martyrdom.
-- Condensed from Cambridge Bible for Schools. -- ED.)
Mark, the Gospel - Smith's Bible Dictionary
1. By whom written. --
The author of this Gospel has been universally believed to be Mark or Marcus, designated in (Acts 12:12,25; 15:37) as John Mark, and in ch. 5,13 as John.
2. When is was written. --
Upon this point nothing absolutely certain can be affirmed, and the Gospel itself affords us no information. The most direct testimony is that of Irenaeus, who says it was after the death of the apostles Peter and Paul. We may conclude, therefore, that this Gospel was not written before A.D. 63. Again we may as certainly conclude that it was not written after the destruction of Jerusalem, for it is not likely that he would have omitted to record so remarkable a fulfillment of our Lordís predictions. Hence A.D. 63-70 becomes our limit, but nearer than this we cannot go. --Farrar.
3. Where it was written . --
As to the place, the weight of testimony is uniformly in favor of the belief that the Gospel was written and published at Rome. In this Clement, Eusebius, Jerome, Epiphanius, all agree. Chrysostom, indeed, asserts that it was published at Alexandria; but his statement receives no confirmation, as otherwise it could not fail to have done, from any Alexandrine writer. --Farrar.
4. In what language. --
As to the language in which it was written, there never has been any reasonable doubt that it was written in Greek.
5. Sources of information . --
Mark was not one of the twelve; and there is no reason to believe that he was an eye and ear witness of the events which he has recorded but an almost unanimous testimony of the early fathers indicates Peter as the source of his information. The most important of these testimonies is that of Papias, who says, "He, the Presbyter (John), said, Mark, being the Interpreter of Peter, wrote exactly whatever he remembered but he did not write in order the things which were spoken or done by Christ. For he was neither a hearer nor a follower of the Lord, but, as I said, afterward followed Peter, who made his discourses to suit what was required, without the view of giving a connected digest of the discourses of our Lord. Mark, therefore, made no mistakes when he wrote down circumstances as he recollected them; for he was very careful of one thing, to omit nothing of what he heard, and to say nothing false in what he related." Thus Papias writes of Mark. This testimony is confirmed by other witnesses. --Abbott.
6. For whom it was written. --
The traditional statement is that it was intended primarily for Gentiles, and especially for those at Rome. A review of the Gospel itself confirms this view.
7. Characteristics . --
(1) Markís Gospel is occupied almost entirely with the ministry in Galilee and the events of the passion week. It is the shortest of the four Gospels, and contains almost no incident or teaching which is not contained in one of the other two synoptists; but
(2) it is by far the most vivid and dramatic in its narratives, and their pictorial character indicates not only that they were derived from an eye and ear witness, but also from one who possessed the observation and the graphic artistic power of a natural orator such as Peter emphatically was.
(3) One peculiarity strikes us the moment we open it, -- the absence of any genealogy of our Lord. This is the key to much that follows. It is not the design of the evangelist to present our Lord to us, like St. Matthew as the Messiah, "the son of David and Abraham," ch. 1:1, or, like St. Luke, as the universal Redeemer, "the son of Adam, which was the son of God." ch. 3:38.
(4) His design is to present him to us as the incarnate and wonder-working Son of God, living and acting among men; to portray him in the fullness of his living energy. --Cambridge Bible for Schools.
Mary, mother of Mark [SBD]
(Colossians 4:10) was sister to Barnabas. (Acts 4:36; 12:15) She was among the earliest disciples, and lived at Jerusalem. She gave up her house to be used as one of the chief places of meeting. The fact that Peter went to that house on his release from prison indicates that there was some special intimacy, (Acts 12:12) between them. (There is a tradition that the place of meeting of the disciples, and hence Maryís house, was on the upper slope of Zion, and that it was here that the Holy Ghost came upon the disciples with tongues of flame on the day of Pentecost. --ED.)
mark: In the King James Version this word is used 22 times as a noun and 26 times as a predicate. In the former case it is represented by 5 Hebrew and 3 Greek words; in the latter by 11 Hebrew and 2 Greek words. As a noun it is purely a physical term, gaining almost a technical significance from the "mark" put upon Cain (Genesis 4:15 the King James Version); the stigmata of Christ in Paul's body (Galatians 6:17); the "mark of the beast" (Revelation 16:2).
As a verb it is almost exclusively a mental process: e.g. "to be attentive," "understand ": bin (Job 18:2 the King James Version), rightly rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) "consider"; shith, "Mark ye well her bulwarks" (Psalms 48:13), i.e. turn the mind to, notice, regard; shamar, i.e. observe, keep in view; so Psalms 37:37, "Mark the perfect man"; compare Job 22:15 the King James Version. This becomes a unique expression in 1 Samuel 1:12, where Eli, noticing the movement of Hannah's lips in prayer, is said to have "marked her mouth." Jesus "marked" how invited guests chose out (epecho, i.e. "observed") the chief seats (Luke 14:7); so skopeo (Romans 16:17; Philippians 3:17), "Mark them," i.e. look at, signifying keen mental attention, i.e. scrutinize, observe carefully. The only exceptions to this mental signification of the verb are two verses in the Old Testament: Isaiah 44:13, "He marketh it out with a pencil" ("red ochre," the King James Version "line"), and "with the compasses," where the verb is ta'ar, "to delineate," "mark out"; Jeremiah 2:22, "Thine iniquity is marked (katham, "cut (i.e. engraved)) before me," signifying the deep and ineradicable nature of sin. It may also be rendered "written," as in indelible hieroglyphics.
As a noun the term "mark" may signify, according to its various Hebrew and Greek originals, a sign, "a target" an object of assault, a brand or stigma cut or burnt in the flesh, a goal or end in view, a stamp or imprinted or engraved sign.
(1) 'oth, "a sign": Genesis 4:15 the King James Version, "The Lord set a mark upon Cain" (the American Standard Revised Version "appointed a sign"). It is impossible to tell the nature of this sign. Delitzsch thinks that the rabbins were mistaken in regarding it as a mark upon Cain's body. He considers it rather "a certain sign which protected him from vengeance," the continuance of his life being necessary for the preservation of the race. It was thus, as the Hebrew indicates, the token of a covenant which God made with Cain that his life would be spared.
(2) mattara', "an aim," hence, a mark to shoot at. Jonathan arranged to shoot arrows as at a mark, for a sign to David (1 Samuel 20:20); Job felt himself to be a target for the Divine arrows, i.e. for the Divinely decreed sufferings which wounded him and which he was called to endure (Job 16:12); so Jeremiah, "He hath set me as a mark for the arrow" (Lamentations 3:12); closely akin to this is miphga`, an object of attack (Job 7:20), where Job in bitterness of soul feels that God has become his enemy, and says, `Why hast thou made me the mark of hostile attack?'; "set me as a mark for thee."
See TARGET .
(3) taw, "mark" (Ezekiel 9:4,6). In Ezekiel's vision of the destruction of the wicked, the mark to be set upon the forehead of the righteous, at Yahweh's command, was, as in the case of the blood sprinkled on the door-posts of the Israelites (Exodus 12:22-23), for their protection. As the servants of God (Revelation 7:2-3)--the elect--were kept from harm by being sealed with the seal of the living God in their foreheads, so the man clothed in linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side, was told to mark upon their foreheads those whom God would save from judgment by His sheltering grace. Taw also appears (Job 31:35) for the attesting mark made to a document (the Revised Version (British and American) "signature," margin "mark").
The equivalent Hebrew letter taw ("t") in the Phoenician alphabet and on the coins of the Maccabees had the form of a cross (T). In oriental synods it was used as a signature by bishops who could not write. The cross, as a sign of ownership, was burnt upon the necks or thighs of horses and camels. It may have been the "mark" set upon the forehead of the righteous in Ezekiel's vision.
(4) qa`aqa`, "a stigma" cut or burnt. The Israelites were forbidden (Leviticus 19:28) to follow the custom of other oriental and heathen nations in cutting, disfiguring or branding their bodies.
The specific prohibition "not to print any marks upon" themselves evidently has reference to the custom of tattooing common among savage tribes, and in vogue among both men and women of the lower orders in Arabia, Egypt, and many other lands. It was intended to cultivate reverence for and a sense of the sacredness of the human body, as God's creation, known in the Christian era as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
See also CUTTINGS IN THE FLESH .
(5) skopos, something seen or observed in the distance, hence, a "goal." The Christian life seemed to Paul, in the intensity of his spiritual ardor, like the stadium or race-course of the Greeks, with runners stretching every nerve to reach the goal and win the prize. "I press on toward the goal (the King James Version "mark") unto the prize" (Philippians 3:14). The mark or goal is the ideal of life revealed in Christ, the prize, the attainment and possession of that life.
In The Wisdom of Solomon 5:21 "they fly to the mark" is from eustochoi, "with true aim" (so the Revised Version (British and American)).
(6) stigma, "a mark pricked or branded upon the body." Slaves and soldiers, in ancient times, were stamped or branded with the name of their master. Paul considered and called himself the bondslave of Jesus Christ. The traces of his sufferings, scourging, stonings, persecution, wounds, were visible in permanent scars on his body (compare 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). These he termed the stigmata of Jesus, marks branded in his very flesh as proofs of his devotion to his Master (Galatians 6:17).
This passage gives no ground for the Romanist superstition that the very scars of Christ's crucifixion were reproduced in Paul's hands and feet and side. It is also "alien to the lofty self-consciousness" of these words to find in them, as some expositors do, a contrast in Paul's thought to the scar of circumcision.
(7) charagma, "a stamp" or "imprinted mark." "The mark of the beast" (peculiar to Revelation) was the badge of the followers of Antichrist, stamped on the forehead or right hand (Revelation 13:16; compare Ezekiel 9:4,6). It was symbolic of character and was thus not a literal or physical mark, but the impress of paganism on the moral and spiritual life. It was the sign or token of apostasy. As a spiritual state or condition it subjected men to the wrath of God and to eternal torment (Revelation 14:9-11); to noisome disease (Revelation 16:2); to the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). Those who received not the mark, having faithfully endured persecution and martyrdom, were given part in the first resurrection and lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). The "beast" symbolizes the anti-Christian empires, particularly Rome under Nero, who sought to devour and destroy the early Christians.
(8) molops, "bruise," Sirach 23:10 (the Revised Version (British and American) "bruise"); 28:17.