The Gospel of Mark


        Mark was probably a child or young teenager while Jesus was doing his 3-year ministry.

        Mark was not an Apostle.

        The Last Supper was probably held at Mark's house.  His mother, Mary, was most likely wealthy.  For more information, go here:

        Mark was in the Garden when Jesus was arrested.

        Mark knew and traveled with Paul and Peter

        Mark was the secretary of Peter and so wrote down what Peter remembered:  this formed the Gospel of Mark.

        Later in life Mark became the first Bishop of Alexandria. 


Place and Time of Writing

·         Clement of Alexandria (150-215) wrote that Mark was written in Rome. 

·         Most scholars assign a date in the years 64-70.  We will use the year 68.


Unique Characteristics



·         Gentiles.  Mark was probably in Rome and the churches consisted mainly of Gentiles. 



·         Mark describes the mission of the Jesus as Servant and Redeemer. 




Mark 10:45:  “But even the Son of Man did not come be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.  “


A short list of Roman gods:  Jupiter/Zeus, Cupid, Mercury, Neptune/Poseidon, Venus/Aphrodite

Mark showed that God is counter to this belief, but instead serves people who love him. Therefore he focused on showing Jesus as serving people.




This one is a bit more difficult.  To redeem something means to bring it back.  Think about redeeming coupons at a store.  In a sense the manufacturer owns the coupon and they will reward you if you bring it to the store (the store sends it back to the manufacturer).  You bring the coupon back to the store and in return you get a discount. 

    Mark shows that Jesus came to earth to bring people back to God.  According to Genesis, people are separated from God and live lives of natural disobedience to God.  Mark shows that God came to earth in the human form of Jesus in order to bring people back to God.  Mark explains that it took someone who was totally innocent and perfect, Jesus, to bridge the gap between God and humanity.  Jesus received the punishment that was due to people for their disobedience, and so died on the cross in their place.  Therefore, Mark shows that by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice people can renew their relationship to God.


Opening Mark Up


Mark has a sense of urgency to it:


Miracles are numerous in the Gospel of Mark


The Gospel of Mark is probably the most biographical of all of the Gospels.  This is what I mean:  Matthew was concerned with arranging his Gospel in a way that mirrored the Torah of the Jews.  I mentioned in Matthew that he uses five divisions in his Gospel.  If you look at the outline of Matthew you will see this:

·         Jesus peaching his longest sermon from chapters 5-7.

·         The next two chapters describe many healings by Jesus (8-9) and then Matthew mentions scattered healings in the rest of the Gospel. 

·         Matthew lists seven parables in chapter 13, plus includes a sentence in chapter 13 that states the following:  “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.”  (verse 34)  He also has scattered parables throughout his Gospel, but not concentrated like in chapter 13.

o    But as Jesus traveled he did all these things.  Nevertheless, Matthew is not as concerned to show what Jesus did chronologically as he is arranging his Gospel to make his point to the Jews.  Therefore he groups similar events together.

    Mark, on the other hand, presents Jesus’ life from a more chronological perspective.  For example, Matthew tells how Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and then preached the Sermon on the Mount, healed many people, sends out his Apostles, and only then tells that John the Baptist is in prison.  But Mark mentions Jesus being baptized and then not moving forward with his ministry until after John the Baptist is in prison. 

    The more likely scenario is that presented by Mark.  Think about it this way:  John the Baptist was very, very popular.  He baptized many people, including Jesus.  Even though John the Baptist said that Jesus would be greater then he was, most people probably still looked on John the Baptist as being the more important of the two.  Therefore, Jesus could not get his ministry started until after John the Baptist was arrested (and  was out of the view of people).  Matthew, though, is not concerned with being chronological, as long as all the facts are stated. 

    Another example:  if you and a friend witness the same situation, and your friend describes it to others in a chronological way, you might not feel the need to also discuss it chronologically.  Your friend already described the details in their order, and so you aren’t as concerned to go in order but will give more details, plus highlight some details and de-emphasize other details.  That is the way to look at how Matthew (and Luke) differed from Mark.


Outline of Mark




1:  Discussion of John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptized and called his first Apostles, and Jesus performs miracles

2:  Jesus performs a miracle and answers questions

3:  The crowds who follow Jesus grow larger, Jesus appoints his 12 Apostles, Jesus answers questions, and Jesus confronts his family (who want him to stop)

4:  Jesus tells parables and performs a miracle

5:  Jesus performs miracles

6:  Jesus teaches, sends out the 12 Apostles, John the Baptist is beheaded, and Jesus performs miracles

7:  Jesus answers questions and performs miracles

8:  Jesus performs miracles, warns his Apostles, predicts his death, and Peter declares that Jesus is the Christ

9:  The Transfiguration and Jesus performs a miracle and answers questions.

10:  Jesus discusses divorce, has little children come to him, and invites a rich young man to join him (he declined).  Note:  these are the same events found in Matthew 19, which helps to show that the Gospels shared information, i.e., are Synoptic Gospels.  Jesus also has a conversation with his Apostles and performs a miracle

11:  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (which occurs one week before Jesus is crucified)

11-16:  These chapters discuss the events and teachings of Jesus in the last week of his life.  He remains in or close by Jerusalem.  It ends as Matthew ends:  with Jesus on a hilltop with his 11 Apostles and then he ascends out of sight.


Readings from Mark

A miracle of Jesus:  4:35-41:  35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”


A teaching of Jesus:  8:34-38:  34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”


A teaching of Jesus:  10:42-45:  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man [a title Jesus uses for himself} did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Timeline so far      Additions are boldfaced



Rome Empire conquered Israel without fighting


Julius Caesar assassinated by Brutus, Cassius, and others.  Mark Antony tries to seize power, and he and Octavian (Caesar’s nephew) fight for power.


The Roman Empire made Herod the Great king of Israel


Antony married Cleopatra in Egypt


Octavian’s forces defeated Antony and Cleopatra’s forces; they committed suicide the next year.


Octavian is given name of Augustus, becomes Augustus Caesar.  This is the beginning of Pax Romana

4 BC

Jesus born

He could have been born as early as 7 BC, but we will use 4 B.C.

4 BC

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt because Herod the Great wanted to kill Jesus

4 BC

Herod the Great died

4 BC

After Herod the Great died, the kingdom of the Jews was divided and given to Herod’s three sons:

  • The northern part, north of Nazareth, went to Philip.

  • The middle part called Galilee, north of Jerusalem but where Nazareth was located, went to Herod Antipas.  (He is referred to as “Herod” in the Gospels and so this can be confusing.)

  • The southern part called Judea, where Jerusalem and Bethlehem was located, went to Herod Archelaus. 


All years after this point are AD



Joseph, Mary, and Jesus return to Nazareth instead of moving to Bethlehem


Archelaus is removed from power because he was so brutal

6 and after

The Romans did not choose another of Herod’s descendants to control Judea (southern Israel) but instead appointed Roman governors.


Jesus lost in Jerusalem at age 12; Joseph and Mary find him in the Temple; possible Bar Mitzvah


Jesus probably worked as a carpenter


The Roman governor in charge of southern Israel was Pilate


Jesus baptized by John the Baptist


Jesus traveled in Israel while preaching, teaching, and performing miracles


Jesus was crucified under the Roman governor Pilate; Jesus raises from the dead three days later and ascends out of sight about a month-and-a-half later


Nero was Roman emperor


Fire in Rome.  The emperor Nero blamed, persecuted, and killed many Christians.  This was the first Roman persecution of Christians. 


Peter and Paul martyred around this year


Some of the Jews got tired of the Roman rule and killed many Roman soldiers.  They thus took back the land of Israel for the Jews.


The Romans counter-attacked.  The Romans lost one battle, but won the war.


Mark written around this year


The Romans captured Jerusalem and burned the Temple. 


Matthew written around this year


Domitian is Roman emperor


Persecution of Christians


First listing of the 27 books in a letter written by an Egyptian bishop


Two councils “closed” the NT canon to those 27 books


NT divided into chapters


NT divided into verses


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