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Mark Bible Study Notes.  

The Gospel of Mark, the shortest of all the Gospels, was written by John Mark, who was first a companion of Paul and later a companion of and interpreter in Rome for Simon Peter.  The Gospel of Mark was written to convert the Romans by showing that only the Son of God could have done what Jesus Christ did.


Overview of Mark

John Mark was the son a Mary, a Jewish Christian. Her home apparently severed as a sanctuary for the early Christians. Mark had Roman training as would be expected of a Roman citizen. He was either the nephew or cousin of Barnabas. According to tradition, Mark founded the church at Alexandria.

Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. However, for reasons not stated in the Bible, he left them at Perga. When Paul and Barnabas planned a second missionary journey they quarreled over the advisability of taking Mark with them. The result was Paul picked Silas for his companion while Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyrus.

At some point Mark apparently redeemed himself in Paul’s eyes as they were able later to re-establish their friendly relations. Mark was with Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome during A.D. 62-63. (Colossians 4:10Colossians 4:10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas,  

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, Philemon 1:24Philemon 1:24
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.  

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Peter in his first epistle mentions that Mark is with him. Mark has often been called the Peter’s interpreter.

Tradition holds that Mark wrote his gospel while he was with Peter in Rome. Since there is no mention of the Great Revolt and so it is usually thought the Gospel of Mark was written between A.D. 62 and A.D. 66.

Mark obviously obtained his material from Peter. Some believe the Gospel of Mark was written shortly before Peter was martyred as part of Peter’s final attempt to spread the gospel. Others believe it was written shortly after Peter’s death as an attempt to preserve his teachings about Christ. (The traditional date for Peter’s death is A.D. October 13, 64; however, many believe that correct date is A.D. 67-68.) More people believe the Gospel of Mark was written shortly before Peter’s death than after his death. This tradition is supported by a statement made by Eusebius, based on statements made by Clement of Alexandria that the final manuscript was given to Peter for his approval. However, the errors Mark makes in the chronology of the events in Christ’s life favor Mark having limited or no contact with Peter when actually writing the Gospel of Mark, which is consistent with the idea of it being written following Peter’s death.

The Gospel of Mark is very much Peter’s account. Furthermore, its audience is the Romans. The Gospel of Mark is rightfully called “the Gospel of power.” The Romans cared little for Jewish traditions and prophecies; consequently, they are largely omitted in Mark. The Romans were impressed by power. They understood the power that is needed to rule an empire, including an empire of truth. Hence Mark records the power and accomplishments of Christ to show the Romans that only the Son of God could have done what Christ did.

There are many differences between the Gospel of Mark and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke It shows every sign of originality, so much so that some believe it was the first Gospel written. Latin and Greek phrases were translated into Greek. (While the Romans spoke Latin, for “snobbish reasons” they preferred to read material written in Greek, which was the international language of the era. The situation is analogous to the “cultural elite” in many countries today who take pride in showing off their ability to speak English. Generally, however, the Romans were poor scholars so it was necessary to translate words they were unlikely to understand. The Romans, no doubt, also have appreciated the brevity of Mark’s Gospel.) Mark, much more than Matthew, uses the present tense. He also frequently uses words, such as straightway which give the Gospel of Mark a very different character than that of the other Gospels.


Traditions About Mark

A number of traditions have been built up around Mark, though none can be verified:
That Mark was one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana when Jeusus turned water into wine
That Mark was one of the Seventy sent out by Christ (Luke 10)
That Mark was the servant who carried water to the house of Simon the Cyrenian, where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13Mark 14:13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

13 And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him.  

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That Mark was the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52Mark 14:51-52
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.  

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That Mark was the person who hosted the disciples in his house after the death of Jesus, and into whose house the resurrected Jesus Christ came (John 20).
All these connections are considered by most scholors to be mere conjecture.

As mentioned above, Mark is usually considered the founder of the church in Alexandria and is said to have performed many miracles in Egypt. When Mark returned to Alexandria the people there resented his efforts to turn them away from the worship of their traditional Egyptian gods. Tradition holds Mark was mrytared on A.D. April 25, 68. Following his death it is said his persecutors tried to burn his body. Afterwards, the Christians in Alexandria removed his unburned body from the ashes, wrapped it, and then buried it in the north easterly part of the church they had built. In art Mark is often portrayed as man a with a book or scroll accompanied by a winged lion.

St Mark’s Basilica

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (officially known in Italian as the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco and commonly known as Saint Mark’s Basilica) is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, in northern Italy. The building is known by the nickname Chiesa d’Oro (Church of Gold) due to its opulent design, and gilded Byzantine mosaics. It has been a symbol of Venetian wealth and power from the 11th century on.

The first St Mark’s was a temporary building in the Doge’s Palace, constructed in 828, when Venetian merchants supposedly stole the relics of Mark the Evangelist in Alexandria, Egypt and brought them to Venice. (The Doge of Venice–derived from Latin dux meaning “military leader”—is often mistranslated as the Duke of Venice. (The Italian word for duke is Duca, not Doge.) The Doge was the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state’s aristocracy; the person selected as Doge was often the shrewdest elder in the city. Contrary to popular belief the doge was not a duke in the modern sense, nor was a doge the equivalent of a hereditary duke. The “doge” was the senior-most elected official of Venice and Genoa; both cities were republics and elected doges. A doge was referred to variously by the titles “My Lord the Doge” (Monsignor el Doxe), “Most Serene Prince” (Serenissimo Principe), and “His Serenity” (Sua Serenità).

Mark is often credited with being the first to preach Christianity in Alexandria and some believe he was the first Bishop of Alexandria. He died, and was interned, in Alexandria, Egypt. As stated above, in A.D. 828, Venetian merchants supposedly stole the relics of Mark the Evangelist in Alexandria and brought them to Venice.

The first, and temporary, St. Mark’s—where Mark’s supposed relics were originally housed in Venice–was replaced by a new church on its present site in A.D. 832. The first St Mark’s Campanile (bell tower) was built in the same centaury. The new church was burned in a rebellion in 976 and rebuilt in 978. It has been the basis of the present basilica since 1063. The basilica was consecrated in 1094, the same year in which the body of Saint Mark was supposedly rediscovered in a pillar by Vitale Faliero, then the current doge. The building also incorporates a low tower (now housing St Mark’s Treasure), believed by some to have been part of the original Doge’s Palace.


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