Who Wrote Each of the Four Gospels 5 – The Witness of the Scriptures on Mark


What do the Scriptures tell us about the Author of Mark’s Gospel?

The universal and unanimous church tradition is that Mark authored this Gospel as a collection of Peter’s teachings as one of the twelve appointed witnesses to all that Jesus taught and did.

And the elder used to say this, Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said and done by the Lord. For he had not heard the Lord, nor had followed him, but later on, followed Peter, who used to give teaching as necessity demanded but not making, as it were, an arrangement of the Lord’s oracles, so that Mark did nothing wrong in thus writing down single points as he remembered them. For to one thing he gave attention, to leave out nothing of what he had heard and to make no false statements in them.    Papias of Hierapolis (60-130AD)

There is nothing in the scriptures which contradicts this tradition and some attributes of the Gospel which support it.  This Gospel focuses on the events that Peter was part of and tends not to include other information, like the birth narrative, that Peter had not directly witnessed.  It has the fast paced narration of someone with an engaging preaching style.  It is not necessarily in chronological order but more like a collection of different narrations than one single story.  It contains explanations of Jewish customs and uses some Latin terms, suggesting that the intended audience was not only the Jews that Peter’s ministry had focused on.  This would fit with someone who had also ministered with Paul and so had in mind both Jewish and Gentile readers.  (24) (25)

Does what we know of John Mark from the rest of scripture fit with him having a close relationship with Peter and having authored this Gospel to convey Peter’s testimony of Christ?     We first learn of John Mark in Acts 12:12.  His mother Mary owned a house in Jerusalem that had been frequented by Peter the apostle.  Many gathered together in this house for prayer. When Peter had been miraculously released from prison by an angel he came first to this house to let the brethren praying there know of his release and instruct them: “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren”, indicating a hand over of responsibility as he had to leave Jerusalem for a time.  Clearly there had been a close relationship between John Mark’s family and the apostle Peter from the earliest days of the church and Mark probably got to hear Peter tell the same stories again and again as he recounted his journey with Jesus.  Mark may have travelled with Peter to Antioch and then stayed there with his cousin Barnabas when Peter moved on to encourage the other scattered believers.

In Acts 13:5 Mark joins Barnabas and Saul as their assistant on their first missionary journey from Antioch, but left them in Perga to return to Jerusalem where his mother lived (Acts 13:13).  That is a long way for a young man to travel by himself and it is likely that he was joining others from that city in their journey to Jerusalem.  We know that Peter was back living in Jerusalem by Acts 15 – could Mark have left Barnabas and Paul to travel back there with Peter?  In Acts 15:36-41 we note that Mark travelled with Barnabas and Paul back to Antioch after the Jerusalem Council, and Barnabas wants to take him with them as they do a return trip to see how the new believers in every city are doing, but Paul refuses to allow Mark to join them on this missionary journey because of his leaving them last time so they split up and Barnabas takes Mark to Cyprus to encourage the brethren there. Over the next few years that rift was healed and Paul came to greatly appreciate Mark and his ministry.  By the time Paul writes Colossians (about 10 years later) he is referring to Mark as his fellow worker for the kingdom of God and a comfort to him (Col. 4:10-11), and instructs the believers at Colossae to welcome Mark if he goes to them.  Then in 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul instructs Timothy: “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  Peter records Mark being with him when he wrote 1 Peter 5:13, which was after Paul wrote Colossians, and refers to Mark as “my son”.  Mark has a long and close association with Peter, from times in his mother’s house until the latter years of Peter’s life.   He was also closely associated with Paul and his mission to the gentiles.  Everything that we know about Mark fits with the church tradition of him having written the Gospel bearing his name, and having done so from Peter’s perspective as one who walked with Jesus and witnessed what He said and did.  (25) (26)

Reference List

24. —. The Gospel of Mark. Blue Letter Bible. [Online] [Cited: 5th Sept 2019.] https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/mark.cfm.
25. ZA Blog. Who Wrote the Gospels and How Do We Know for Sure? Zondervan Academic. [Online] 20 Sept 2017. [Cited: 5th Sept 2019.] https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/who-wrote-gospels.
26. International Bible Society. Introduction to NIV Study Bible 1 Peter. Biblica. [Online] [Cited: 5th Sept 2019.] https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-1-peter/.

Author: Anita

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption." 1 Cor. 1:26-30 ESV These verses are the story of my life. A shy, introverted woman who didn't know how to relate to others and had a fear of anyone in authority - foolish, weak, low and despised. The most unlikely candidate for any position of leadership. But God delights to choose such, to take those who are not and make them something in Christ, to do the impossible through the unlikely. In 2006 Jesus sent me to the nations with His glorious gospel to set the captives free and prepare His bride for the wedding of the Lamb.

3 thoughts on “Who Wrote Each of the Four Gospels 5 – The Witness of the Scriptures on Mark”

  1. Mark is introduced at the end of Acts 12 as a companion of Paul and Barnabas. He was a nephew of Barnabas. His mother was a wealthy woman with a house that was large enough to hold meetings for early Christians (Acts 12:12). He traveled with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem from Antioch (Acts 12:25). From there, they went to Cyprus (Acts 13:5). Mark left them in Perga (Acts 13:13) for unknown reasons, and Paul refused to take him back after that. It resulted in a split between Paul and Barnabas, who left Paul and accompanied Mark back to Cyprus (Acts 15:37-39).

    In Acts 15, Mark was evidently still in Jerusalem, just like Peter. By the late first century, a tradition had arisen that Mark had become a close traveling companion of Peter (1 Peter 5:13). By the early second century, this tradition identified Mark as the writer of Peter’s journals. The rift between Mark and Paul appears to have been resolved at some point. Paul mentions that Mark was with him in Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 1:24. In 2 Timothy 4:11 he requests that Mark come to him in Rome. That would conveniently place Mark with Paul in Rome. I have no doubt about the authenticity of John Mark having written the book of Mark.

  2. The Gospel of Mark,is attributed to Mark who also happens to be John Mark
    His style of writing tells us that he wrote what he heard from someone probably Peter whom he knew very well as Jesus Disciple
    Affirming this is that he never wrote cronoligically all that Christ did
    He somehow wrote using two languages, Hebrew and Latin,which indicates that he was one contact with Paul whose gospel was for the gentiles
    Unanimously ,the church fathers like Papias attributed this gospel of Mark as it’s writter.

  3. The Gospel of Mark was written in Rome, probably during the years AD 55-65.
    Mark wrote his Gospel to the Gentiles to the Romans in particular and not to a Jewish audience. For this reason , he made a special effort to explain Jewish customs and words. These explanations helped Gentile readers better understand Jesus’ relationship to the Jews, as well as to the Gentiles.
    Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels. He wrote about what Jesus did, focussing on his actions rather than on what he taught. Mark traveled with Apostle Paul and Bananas . Mark reminds Christians in Africa that Jesus really is the Son of God and the Messiah who came to to save not only the Jews, but the Gentiles as well. Mark an African himself, carried this Good news to Africa.

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