Mark, the Power Gospel
Powerfully and concisely, Mark tells the good news of Jesus
Christ, the Son of God (1:1). The testimony of the Roman
centurion at the cross expresses the theme of the book, Truly
this Man was the Son of God! (15:38).
Mark and the other Gospels
The Gospels are four inspired accounts of the life of Christ.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16);
for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of
God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
This explains both the similarities and the differences in the
Gospels. The Holy Spirit is the Author of all four Gospels, so of
course they are similar! There are differences because the Spirit
moved four different men to write, each from his own perspective
and with specific goals and primary audiences in mind.
The many Old Testament quotations in Matthew are
persuasive for Jews and others familiar with the Old Testament.
Johns intention was obviously to record information not found in
the other Gospels (John 20:30, 31; 21:25). Luke, a Greek
Physician (Colossians 4:14), addresses his narrative to most
excellent Theophilus (Luke 1:3), a title appropriate for a Greek
person of some standing. Marks emphasis on the power of Christ
would impress the Romans. He gives the Roman coin equivalence
of the widows two mites in 12:42, a quadrans.
Combined, the four Evangelists powerfully proclaim Christ to
all people of all times!
Writer of the second Gospel
Although the writer is not specified in any of the Gospels,
there is no reason to doubt the names historically assigned to
Numerous historical sources state that the second Gospel
was written by John Mark, the son of Mary whose house was a
place of prayer when Peter was in prison (Acts 12:12), the cousin
of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), and the fellow worker of Peter (1
Peter 5:13) and Paul (2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24).
He is designated as the writer by Eusebius in references
from Papias, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Origen (H.E.
2:15; 3:39; 5:8; 6:14, 25) and in the writings of Irenaeus
(Against Heresies 3:10, 5) and Tertullian (Against Marcion 4:5).
According to these authors, Mark based his Gospel on the eye-
witness accounts of Peter.
Date of writing
There is no definite knowledge about the date of writing of
any of the Gospels. The supplemental nature of John and
historical references favor its being written last. Since Luke was
written before Acts (Acts 1:1), which ends its narrative abruptly
while Paul is at Rome in 62 AD, we surmise that Luke was written
before that date. It is usually believed that Matthew and Mark
were the first two Gospels written, but it is not known when, or,
which was written first. Marks concluding statement, And they
went out and preached everywhere (16:20) indicates that the
gospel had been preached widely by the time he wrote. Historical
references favor Matthew as having been written first.
The last 12 verses of chapter 16 are missing from the
earliest (almost) complete manuscripts of Mark, Codex Vaticanus
(est. d. 325-350 AD) and Codex Sinaiticus (est. d. 330-360 AD).
This can be explained, however, by the ease with which the end
of an earlier scroll could have been broken off and lost before it
was copied, resulting in a chain of incomplete manuscripts.
The above two manuscripts end with a conjunction, and in
such an abrupt manner that something is obviously missing. And
they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mark 16:8) is
hardly how one would expect Mark to end his Gospel! Although
Vaticanus lacks 16:9-20, it has a blank column after 16:8
indicating that the copyist left room for an ending he knew was
lacking in his source.
Codex Alexandrinus (est. d. 400-440 AD) contains 16:9-20.
Christian writings much older than these manuscripts
contain references to these verses, the oldest being by Justin
Martyr (160 AD) in the First Apology, Chapter 45, preached
everywhere from 16:20 and by Irenaeus (180 AD) who quotes
all of 16:19 -So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was
received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God
(Against Heresies 3:10, 5).
The testimony of the vast majority of NT manuscripts, which
contain 16:9-20, cannot be set aside by two manuscripts, which -
although old - are obviously defective at this location, as
indicated by a blank column in one of the two.
For a detailed scholarly rebuttal of internal arguments
presented against the authenticity of verses 9-20 see The Style
Of The Long Ending Of Mark by brother Bruce Terry.
Although Mark is the shortest Gospel, it contains details not
Although only four parables are included, one is not in the
other gospels (4:26-29). Emphasizing the power of Christ,
miracles comprise more than 20% of Mark with two of the
eighteen not being mentioned elsewhere (7:32-37; 8:22-26).
More details are given than in Lukes account about the
calming of the storm (4:35-41) and than in Matthews account
about the cursing of the fig tree (11:12-14, 20-24).
Mark mentions a young man who, while Jesus was being
arrested, escaped by leaving his clothes behind (14:51, 52).
Some wonder if this might have been Mark himself.
Emotions of Christ are described in greater detail
He looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the
hardness of their hearts (3:5). He marveled because of their
unbelief (6:6). Then looking up to heaven, He sighed (7:34).
But He sighed deeply in His spirit (8:12). When Jesus saw it,
He was greatly displeased (10:14). Then Jesus, looking at him,
loved him (10:21).
Peoples reactions are told in greater detail.
Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among
themselves, saying, What is this? What new doctrine is this? For
with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they
obey Him (1:17).
After Jesus healed the man let down through the roof, all
were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything
like this! (2:12).
After Jesus walked on the water, they were greatly amazed
in themselves beyond measure, and marveled (6:51).
Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were
greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him (9:15).
When Jesus told His followers what would happen to him in
Jerusalem, They were amazed. And as they followed they were
After the three women saw an angel in the empty tomb,
They went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled
and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were
Such reactions are also in the other Gospels, but more
details are given in Mark. In addition to the above, people
marveled (5:20; 12:17; 15:5, 44) and were afraid (5:15; 9:6,
Certain Jewish customs are explained.
Ablutions of the Pharisees and Jews are explained (7:1-4).
The Roman coin equivalent, a quadrans, is given for two mites
(12:42). It is explained that the Preparation Day is the day before
the Sabbath (15:42).
Aramaic words are used and translated
Much more than in the other Gospels, Mark inserts the
actual Aramaic words used on several occasions, which adds a
warm, personal touch. Translation is included where needed.
Jesus called James and John Boanerges [Sons of Thunder]
To the dead daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, Jesus
said: Talitha, cumi [Little girl, I say to you, arise] (5:41).
A selfish son who did not want to help his parents would tell
them: Whatever profit you might have received from me is
Corban [that is, a gift to God] (7:11).
As Jesus healed a deaf man, He sighed, and said to him,
Ephphatha, that is, Be opened (7:34).
Rather than the standard Hebrew Rabbi usually used, the
Aramaic Rabboni is used in dialogue by the man who wanted to
be given his sight (10:51). It is also used by Mary in John 20:16.
Hosanna (11:9) is also used by Matthew and Luke.
In the garden, Jesus prays, Abba, Father (14:36).
On the cross, He prays, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? [My
God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?] (15:34). This is also
found in Matthew.
Marks Gospel can be read aloud in an hour and twenty
minutes. Some Lords day afternoon, why not gather the family
around and take turns reading Marks Gospel aloud from
beginning to end? It will strengthen your faith.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive