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(John) Mark

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The New Testament record contains several mentions of (John) Mark, and the second text of the NT is widely attributed to him. Mark was the son of a woman prominent in the early Jerusalem Church (as Christians gathered in her home during the imprisonment of Peter (Acts 12:12), and was cousin to Barnabas (Col. 4:10).

The relationship of Mark to the Apostle Paul is an interesting one. We read in Acts 12:25 that Mark travelled with Paul and Barnabas as far as Pamphylia (in Asia Minor) on their first missionary journey, but upon reading 13 we find that for some reason he left them at Pamphylia, returning to Jerusalem (some suggest that it was a result of the continued persecution they were enduring that he departed). For this reason (i.e., probably because he was too unreliable), Paul would not take him along on his second missionary journey and eventually parted company with Barnabas (Mark's cousin [Col. 4:10]) who felt he should be given a second chance (Acts 15:36-40]). However, years later during his Roman imprisonment, Paul mentions Mark in 1 Tim. 4:11 and describes him as "helpful to me in my ministry", indicating that they had been reconciled (Phm. 24; Col. 4:10).

Mark is referred to by Peter as 'his son' (1 Pet. 5:13), possibly implying that Mark was converted under Peter's ministry; and the record of "a young man fleeing naked" at the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:51-52) is considered by some to have been an autobiographical account (i.e., some think that Mark himself was the young man who fled naked in the Garden), as no other accounts record this, indicating that Mark (as the author of the Gospel According to Mark) had special knowledge of this event. This, however, would conflict with Papias (an Early Church Father) who claimed that Mark was not an eyewitness (see discussion in Introduction to Mark: authorship).

Not much is known as to Mark's birth or death dates.

It is interesting to note that Mark is widely held to have authored the Gospel with his name. The Gospel According to Mark was also most likely the first gospel to have been written, and was used extensively by Matthew and Luke as a source for their gospels. Isn't it amazing how God transforms the one who in all likelihood fled from the persecution experienced with Paul and Barnabas into one who is not only helpful to Paul in his ministry, but who authors the first authoritative written account of the life of Jesus which has now been preserved for around 2,000 years as Scripture, and was used as the basis for two of the other gospels! God does indeed work powerfully!


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This page last updated: 31 July 2009
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