The Gospel of Mark: Introduction

Author
Although the gospel of Mark is technically anonymous, it is generally accepted that John Mark, the maligned missionary who abandoned Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:13). Early church authorities thought John Mark to be the author for several reasons :
1. Peter was Mark’s eyewitness source for the gospel
2. Mark didn’t write his account in chronological order
3. Mark, having received the stories from Peter, added to and edited them into what we have now.

In addition, a number of early church fathers supported the belief that John Mark wrote the gospel, among them Papias, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and Jerome.
We also cannot forget the words of the Apostle Peter himself, who refers to Mark as “my son” (1 Pet. 5:13). The relationship between Mark and Peter must have been a close one.

Remember that it was in the house of Mark’s mother that an all-night prayer vigil was held after Peter was imprisoned by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:4-17). Dr. Daniel Wallace of the Dallas Theological Seminary also notes that the author/missionary had a strong relationship with Peter at least two decades before he ever penned the gospel.

Audience
Mark is writing to believers in Rome. Wessel believes that because of the Jewish War (AD 66-70), Mark probably wrote the gospel to help readers endure persecution. This would especially make sense considering the themes of discipleship and suffering that dominate the gospel of Mark.

Date
AD 60-70 since Mark makes no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in AD 70.

Outline
Joel Green offers a simple outline of the gospel of Mark :
I. Introductory Events (1:1-13)
II. The Galilean Ministry (1:14-7:23)
III. The Northern Journey (7:24-8:26)
IV. The Journey to Jerusalem (8:27-10:52)
V. The Jerusalem Ministry (11:1-13:37)
VI. The Passion (14:1-15:47)
VII. The Resurrection (16:1-20)

The Big Ideas of the Gospel
1. Suffering: it is no wonder that that Cross of Christ dominates the gospel.
2. Discipleship: Mark focuses a great deal on the discipleship connected to Jesus’ predictions about His impending suffering and death (8:34-9:1; 9:35-10:31; 10:42-45)
3. The Messianic Secret: Jesus warns some folks in the gospel not to reveal His true identity (1:34, 44; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:30; 9:9)
4. Jesus, the Son of God: Mark does not neglect the deity of Christ
although his gospel stresses the humanity of Christ

Endnotes
1. Walter W. Wessel, ‘Introduction to Mark.” Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary. PRADIS Bible study software. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002)
2. Daniel Wallace, “Mark: Introduction, Argument, and Outline.” Accessed from http://www.bible.org.
3. Wessel, “Introduction to Mark.”
4. Joel B. Green, “Mark.” New International Bible Commentary. PRADIS Bible study software. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002)

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