Book type: Gospel
Author: Possibly John Mark
No. of chapters: 16
Key character(s): God, Jesus, John the Baptist, the 12 disciples, Mary Magdalene, Salome, Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas. 
Brief description: Mark – Confession of Jesus as God’s Agent & unique Son.
01) God has acted for his people by sending his Son as his agent (1:1-13)
02) The appearance of God’s Son as his agent signalled the presence of the new [church] age (1:14-45)
03) The old order failed to recognize God’s agent [Jesus] or the presence of the new [church] age (2:1-3:6)
04) The presence of God’s agent [Jesus] provoked a reaction from others (3:7-6:6)
05) God’s agent [Jesus] extended the blessings of the new [church] age in spite of opposition (6:7-8:30)
06) God’s agent [Jesus] exhibited the new [church] age paradox: suffering precedes vindication (8:31-10:52)
07) The presence of God’s agent [Jesus] in Jerusalem intensified the conflict between the old order & the new [church] age (11:1-12:44)
08) God’s agent [Jesus] foresaw impending distress for Jerusalem & the old order (13:1-37)
09) The older order was unified in its action against God’s agent [Jesus] (14:1-15:47)
10) The resurrection of God’s agent [Jesus] validated the presence of the new [church] age (16:1-8)
11) A later appendix: proof of the validation of God’s agent [Jesus] (16:9-20)
Marcus was John Mark’s Latin surname. His Hebrew name was John (aka Johanan), meaning “the grace of God”.
The word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word which meant “God’s spell”, or “God’s word”, ie “the story concerning God.” In the New Testament the Greek word euaggelion, means “good news.” It proclaims tidings of deliverance.
Is God able to sustain the confessing church in the crisis of persecution & martyrdom? Christians in Rome faced this question as the first read the Gospel of Mark.
Among the Christian leaders in Rome was John Mark of Jerusalem. Mark recognised that frightened men & women would need to be strengthened for the testing of their faith [following the fire of Rome (64 AD) & the emperor Nero’s blaming of the Christians for that event]. The earliest of the Gospels was his pastoral response to the crisis in Rome. Mark wrote to strengthen Christians & to provide them with a basis for faithfulness to Jesus.
The Gospel of Mark brought stability, hope & identity to a confused & frightened body of Christians by emphasizing 5 doctrines:
01) The sovereign initiative of God in sending his Son as the agent of his saving will.
02) The presence of the new [church] age & the reality of its blessings.
03) The paradox of the new [church] age that suffering precedes vindication.
04) The ability of God to sustain the one who is faithful to him.
05) The importance of the confession of Jesus as God’s agent & Son as the measure of Christian commitment.
[Source: NIV Disciple’s Study Bible]
The Gospel of Mark was written to prove that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. In a dramatic and action-packed sequence of events, Mark paints a striking image of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Mark illustrates who Jesus is as a person. The ministry of Jesus is revealed with vivid detail and the messages of his teaching are presented more through what he did than what he said. The Gospel of Mark reveals Jesus the Servant.
Author of the Gospel of Mark:
John Mark is the author of this Gospel. It is believed that he was the attendant and writer for the Apostle Peter. This is the same John Mark who traveled as a helper with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13). John Mark is not one of the 12 disciples.
John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark in Rome. Settings in the book include Jerusalem, Bethany, the Mount of Olives, Golgotha, Jericho, Nazareth, Capernaum and Caesarea Philippi.
This was probably the first Gospel to be written since all but 31 verses of Mark are found in the other three Gospels.
Themes in the Gospel of Mark:
Mark records more miracles of Christ than any of the other Gospels. Jesus proves his divinity in Mark by the demonstration of miracles. There are more miracles than messages in this Gospel. Jesus shows that he means what he says and he is who he says.
In Mark we see Jesus, the Messiah, coming as a servant. He reveals who he is through what he does. He explains his mission and message through his actions. John Mark captures Jesus on the move. He skips the birth of Jesus and dives quickly into presenting his public ministry.
The overriding theme of the Gospel of Mark is to show that Jesus came to serve. He gave his life in service to mankind. He lived out his message through service, therefore, we can follow his actions and learn by his example. The ultimate purpose of the book is to reveal Jesus’ call to personal fellowship with him through daily discipleship.
Mark 9:35 (ANIV)
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Mark 10:43-45 (ANIV)
[Jesus told his disciples] “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 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.”
Fuller list of major characters in the Mark’s Gospel:
|Jesus||”Saviour”. Christ means “the Anointed One”. (aka Jesus of Nazareth, The Christ, The Messiah, Son of man, Son of God). The central figure of the New Testament, whose life, death, and resurrection are chronicled in the 4 Gospel books.|
|John the Baptist||Jon; Greek ’Ioannes; from Hebrew Yôhanan, “Jehovah is gracious”. Son of Zechariah & Elizabeth. The forerunner to Jesus, spreading the word of Jesus’s imminent arrival. Lived in the desert, baptising people in the Jordan river. Ate locusts and honey.|
|The 12 Apostles/disciples:|
|Apostle/disciple||Greek ἀπόστολος, apóstolos, literally, “one sent forth,” an envoy, missionary, delegate. Greek ággelos is a messenger, as distinct from Greek apóstolos, who was not a mere messenger, but a delegate or representative of the person who sent him, ie Jesus the Christ.|
Disciple – a student of a teacher. Greek μαθητής, mathētés, “a learner,” from manthánō, “to learn”; Latin discipulus, “a scholar”): The word is found in the Bible only in the Gospels and Acts.
|Simon||“Harkening” or “Listening” (aka Peter (Petros, Greek “a [small] rock”)). Son of John (or Jonah or Jona), brother of Andrew. Born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Fisherman. Accompanied Jesus during the Transfiguration. Confessed Jesus as the Messiah. Was part of Jesus’ inner circle of friends. Denied Jesus three times during Jesus’ trial. Preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 02).|
|Andrew||”Manly, masculine”. Son of John (or Jonah or Jona), brother of Simon Peter. Born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Fisherman. Originally a disciple of John the Baptist, before Jesus called him. Present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely befriended by Jesus.|
|James||Jacobus (ja-ko´bus; Greek Iakobos—Jacob). (aka James the Greater or James the Great to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus). Son of Zebedee (& Salome?), elder brother of John. Together with his brother John called Boanerges “The sons of thunder” by Jesus. Fisherman. One of only three apostles whom Jesus selected to bear witness to his Transfiguration. “Herod the king” (identified as Herod Agrippa) had James executed by sword (Acts 12); thus first apostle martyred for the faith.|
|John||Jon; Greek ’Ioannes; from Hebrew Yôhanan, “Jehovah is gracious”. Son of Zebedee (& Salome?), younger brother of James. The beloved disciple of Jesus. Together called Boanerges “The sons of thunder” by Jesus. Fisherman. Church tradition holds that John is the author of the Gospel of John and four other books of the New Testament — the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.|
|Philip||“Lover of horses”. One of the twelve apostles; a native of Bethsaida, Galilee. Readily responded to the call of Jesus (John 1:43), and brought Nathanael to Jesus (John 1:45-46). Prominent amongst the apostles.|
|Bartholomew||”Son of Tolmai”. One of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:3; Acts 1:13). Generally supposed to have been the same person as Nathanael. One of the disciples who saw Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection (John 21:2). He also witnessed Jesus’ Ascension (Acts 1:4, 12-13).|
|Thomas||Greek form of Aramaic Ta’oma’ = “Twin”. Also called Didymus (John 11:16; John 20:24), which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name. One of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18). All we know about him is from John’s Gospel.|
|Matthew||“Gift of God”. Son of Alphaeus. Tax collector. Among the early followers and apostles of Jesus. Thought to be the author of Gospel of Matthew.|
|James||Jacobus (ja-ko´bus; Greek Iakobos—Jacob). (aka “The Less”, to distinguish him from James, son of Zebedee). Son of Alphaeus (aka Cleopas). “The brother” or near kinsman/ cousin of Jesus (Galatians 1:18-19). Possibly called James “the Less,” or “the Little,” probably because he was short in stature. He met separately with Jesus after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). He appears to have occupied the position of head of the Church at Jerusalem, where he presided at the council held to consider the case of the Gentiles (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13-29:21:18-24). Author of the epistle of James.|
|Thaddaeus||“Breast”. One of the 12 apostles. Referred to as “Judas the brother of James” (Luke 6:16 & John 14:22), probably referring to the same person, speaks of “Judas, not Iscariot.” These different names all designate the same person: Jude or Judas, the author of the epistle.|
|Simon||“Harkening” or “Listening” (aka Simon Zelotes, Simon the Zealot, Simon Kananaios or Simon Cananeus). One of the 12 apostles. Called “Zelotes” or “Zealot” (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) because previous to his call to the apostleship he had been a member of the fanatical sect of the Zealots. There is no further information regarding him.|
|Judas Iscariot||Judas is Greek for Judah. Son of Simon (John 6:71; John 13:2, 26), surnamed Iscariot, which means “a man of Kerioth Hezron (aka Hazor)” (Joshua 15:25). Betrayer of Jesus to Jewish authorities (John 18:3). “Jesus knew from the beginning who should betray him” (John 6:64). Hanged himself after that deed (Matthew 27:5). His name is uniformly the last in the list of the apostles, as given in the synoptic (i.e., the first three) Gospels.|
|Mary Magdalene||Greek. Maria or Mariam; from Hebrew miryam, “obstinacy, rebellion”. (aka Mary of Magdala). Disciple & close friend of Jesus after her exorcises seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2) during his Galilean ministry. One of the women who discover that Jesus’s body is not in the tomb. Witnessed the resurrected Jesus.|
|Salome||Feminine of Solomon. Wife of Zebedee? Mother of James & John? Credited as ministering to the material needs of Jesus & his followers (Mark 15:41). Sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus? Witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion (Mark 15:40). Purchased spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1).|
|Pontius Pilate||Prefect, Roman governor of Judea during the time of Jesus’s trial in Jerusalem. Pilate sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion.|
|Herod Antipas||Son of Herod the Great. Herod Antipas was tetrarch (ruler of a fourth part of his father’s kingdom) of Galilee and Perea under the aegis of Rome from 4 BC. to 39AD. Officially he was not a king but John Mark’s reference to “king Herod” may have reflected Herod’s covetous nature & designs.|