Updated: Nov 5, 2019
The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, tell us about the life and ministry of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The gospel of Mark is the shortest of the 4 gospels - just 16 chapters. It is a fast-paced, action-packed narrative.
Who was the author?
John Mark was the author of this gospel. He was Jewish. John was his Hebrew name (Jewish) and Mark was the Latin (Roman) name he used among the Gentiles (non-Jewish people.) Mark was not one of the 12 apostles.
We first read about Mark in Acts 12:12:
And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
His family home was one of the meeting places for the Christians in Jerusalem.
He is known for accompanying Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey as recorded in Acts 12:25:
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.
... and they also had John as their helper.
But then John Mark deserts them to return to Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 13:13. This upsets Paul because in Acts 15:36-39 when Barnabas wants to take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey, Paul refuses. They have an argument and separated from one another. Barnabas takes John Mark with him. And Paul chooses Silas to go with him on his second missionary journey.
Later it is all good again because Mark regained Paul's trust - so much so that Mark was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment (Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 24) and Paul requested that Mark come to be with him during his final days (2 Timothy 4:11.)
1 Peter 5:13 tells us that Mark was very close to Peter.
So what did we learn about Mark?
He was also known as John. (Today some people call him John Mark.)
His mother was Mary (lots of women named Mary in the Bible) and his home in Jerusalem was used as a meeting place for Christians.
He was Barnabas' cousin.
He was a close associate of Paul, Peter, Timothy, Luke and Silas.
He traveled extensively with them.
Although Mark was not an apostle, early church tradition and documents say he recorded Peter's preaching.
Who was the audience?
Remember in my post about the gospel of Matthew where it was written to the Jewish people? (See Matthew was Written to the Jews.) The Gospel according to Mark was written to Gentile readers (non-Jewish people.) There is strong indication that this gospel was written possibly to the Christian believers in Rome. Mark explains Jewish customs to his audience.
Mark's emphasis was Jesus as a Servant King. He emphasized suffering, power of God, and hope for the future - all which indicated he was writing to believers under persecution and suffering - which fits the church in Rome.
Mark does not include the genealogy of Christ or the birth of Christ. (Matthew did because his audience was the Jewish people and he was showing them how Jesus fulfills all of the Jewish prophesies for the Messiah.) Mark begins with John the Baptist's preaching.
Things to note about Mark's gospel:
Mark includes more miracles of Jesus than the other gospels. Note the pattern of "amazement" in Mark's gospel.
The word immediately is used forty times in this gospel - the same number as in the other three gospels combined.
One third of Mark's gospel is spent on the last week of Jesus' life.
The Messiah had come as a Suffering Servant. A crucial passage in Mark is 10:35-45. Jesus did not come to conquer the Romans as many Jews of His day expected. No, Jesus came as the Son of God to suffer and die to pay the ransom for sins.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
More than any other gospel, the Gospel according to Mark emphasizes what Jesus does more than what Jesus says. It is full of action and a quick easy read. Mark moves from one event to the next in rapid succession. Not a lot of chit-chat in this gospel.
"Matthew presented Jesus as a King in sovereignty, while Mark portrayed Him as a Servant in humility."
[source: page 62 of The New Testament Historical Books, Set 8 Workbook]
Jesus is the Servant-Savior.
Not at all what people expected.
Why not take some time and read through the Gospel according to Mark?
New American Standard Bible
1984 New International Version Study Bible
English Standard Version Study Bible
New International Version Life Application Study Bible
The New Testament Historical Books - part of The Amazing Collection - Set 8 Workbook
The Complete Guide to the Bible by Stephen M. Miller (affiliate link)
The Essential Bible Companion by John H. Walton, Mark L. Strauss, and Ted Cooper, Jr. (affiliate link)
Bible Overview by Rose Publishing (affiliate link)