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AUTHOR:  Although the Gospel of Mark does not name its author, it is the unanimous testimony of early church fathers that Mark was the author.  He was an associate of the Apostle Peter and considered to be his spiritual son (1 Pet. 5:13).  From Peter he received first-hand information of the events and teachings of the Lord and preserved the information in written form.  It is generally agreed that Mark is the John Mark of the New Testament (Acts 12:12).  His mother was a wealthy and prominent Christian in the Jerusalem church, and probably the church met in her home. Mark joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but not on the second because of a strong disagreement between the two men (Acts 15:37-38). However, toward the end of Paul's life, he called for Mark to be with him (2 Tim. 4:11).

DATE OF WRITING:  The Gospel of Mark was probably the first gospel written, most likely between 55-59 A.D.  It's termed a "Synoptic" gospel because when laid side by side with Matthew and Luke and read synoptically (with the same eye), there is a very evident literary relationship between them.     

PURPOSE OF WRITING:  Whereas Matthew is written primarily to his fellow Jews, Mark's gospel appears to be targeted to the Roman believers, particularly Gentiles.  Mark wrote as a pastor to Christians who previously had heard and believed the gospel (Romans 1:8). He desired that they have a biographical story of Jesus Christ as Servant of the Lord and Savior of the world in order to strengthen their faith in the face of severe persecution and to teach them what it meant to be His disciples.

BRIEF SUMMARY:  This gospel is unique because it emphasizes Jesus' actions more than His teachings.  It is simply written, moving quickly from one episode in the life of Christ to another. It does not begin with a genealogy as in Matthew, because Gentiles would not be interested in His lineage. After the introduction of Jesus at His baptism, Jesus began His public ministry in Galilee and called the first four of His twelve disciples. What follows is the record of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.  Mark's account is not just a collection of stories, but a narrative written to reveal that Jesus is the Messiah, not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles as well. In a dynamic profession, the disciples, led by Peter, acknowledged their faith in Him (Mark 8:29-30), even though they failed to understand fully His Messiahship until after His resurrection.

CONNECTIONS: Because Mark's intended audience was the Gentiles, he does not quote as frequently from the Old Testament as Matthew, who was writing primarily to the Jews. He does not begin with a genealogy to link Jesus with the Jewish patriarchs, but begins instead with His baptism, the beginning of His earthly ministry. But even there, Mark quotes from an Old Testament prophecy regarding the messenger-John the Baptist-who would exhort the people to "prepare the way for the Lord" (Mark 1:3; Isa. 40:3) as they awaited the coming of their Messiah.

PPACTICAL APPLICATION:  Mark presents Jesus as the suffering Servant of God (Mark 10:45) and as the One who came to serve and be a sacrifice for us, and in part, to inspire us to do the same.  We are to minister as He did, with the same greatness of humility and devotion to the service of others.  Jesus exhorted us to remember that to be great in God's kingdom, we must be the servant of all (Mark 10:44).  Self-sacrifice should transcend our need for recognition or reward, just as Jesus was willing to be abased as He lay down His life for the sheep.