The Gospel of Mark was not written by one of the twelve apostles. The author was probably John Mark, mentioned in several New Testament books. He was the son of Mary, a prominent woman in the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:12), and the nephew of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey, but left them at Perga (Acts 13:13). Years later, Paul requested his presence (2 Timothy 4:11).
Mark’s book manifests a thorough knowledge of the teachings of the apostles, especially Peter, and many scholars believe his gospel reflects Peter’s perspective on Jesus’ life and ministry. The book may have been written as early as AD 53, just twenty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection; some scholars have dated it as late as AD 67-69, after Peter’s death. Written to a Gentile, most likely Roman, audience, the author explained many of the Jewish customs that may have been unfamiliar to his readers.
Mark highlighted what Jesus did more than what He said, so it’s interesting to see which sayings or teachings of Jesus he presented. He included some of the parables—one found nowhere else (Mark 4:26-29)—Jesus’ call to discipleship, putting others first, and living in humility.
Mark emphasized Jesus’ role as a servant. The key verse is Mark 10:45, “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.” We can learn about our need to deny ourselves and serve others as we read Mark’s description of the example Jesus gave us.
Enjoy this study of the shortest, tersely written, action-packed gospel.