The Household (Pt. 3)

Mark is a common non-Jewish name in the 1st century. It’s possible that two (or more) people by this name were involved in the early Church.  Mark himself seems to stay in the background so that Jesus can be in the foreground. We don’t know his name for sure because that is exactly how he wanted it to be. However, no other author than John Mark of Jerusalem has ever been associated with, or suggested for, the Gospel of Mark. John is a Jewish name, so it’s very likely he was a Hellenistic Jew.

When Peter escaped from prison in Jerusalem, Acts 12:1-19, he went to the home of “Mary, mother of John Mark, where many people were praying.” The Title, “The Gospel According to Mark” was probably attached to the Gospel in about the middle of the second century. Most Scholars agree that this is the same Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark. Like some other books of the Bible, the author of Mark seems anonymous. The first discussion of authorship dates back to the time of Papias, a Christian in Hierapolis (within modern Turkey), whose writings date from 110-130AD. Papias wrote about the Lord’s Oracles, in which he states, “Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord…” This quote has been preserved in Eusebius’ History of the Church. This suggests that the author of Mark was very close to Peter.  So most scholars accept that the author was someone named Mark. Some scholars wonder whether Papias connected Mark with Peter on the basis of what had been written in 1 Peter 5:13 where he calls him his “son”. The connection is seen in the fact that Peters actions are recorded immediately after an unnamed naked man runs away after Jesus is arrested, but Peter follows on, which may be John Mark the author himself, See Mark 14:51-54. His mother was a wealthy woman with a house large enough to hold meetings for early Christians (Acts 12:12). He traveled with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem from Syrian Antioch (Ac.12:25). From there, they went to Cyprus (Ac. 13:5). Mark left them in Perga (Ac. 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 (Ac. 15:37-39). 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 24. In 2 Timothy 4:11 he requests that Mark come to him in Rome. Later on, secular traditions claim that Mark was in Alexandria Egypt and at some point claims he was martyred in Egypt.

There is nothing from Biblical or Secular history that would prohibit John Mark from being the author of Mark’s Gospel, but scholars are reluctant to make the connection with absolute certainty. One of the arguments trying to prove Mark is the author, comes from the Greek syntax and diction of the Gospel. It is the Greek grammar of a native speaker, not being so sophisticated, so he was probably informally educated. The word that Papias uses in saying that Mark was Peter’s “interpreter,” could also mean “translator.” A native speaker is what is best for translation work. Presumably Peter was so Jewish he may have needed a translator when trying to write in Greek. Peter was indeed so Jewish he needed a vision three times from God to convince him all things God created were “clean” (Ac. 10:9-16) So the unique comment in Mark 7:19 about cleanliness would be expected in this Gospel if it originally came from Peter. This seems like dictation from Peter’s experience.

Our conclusion is that humility reigns supreme as a great virtue in one of the key characters for establishing what the earliest account of the gospel actually is and is not. The family of Christ always needs and uses to great effect, the useful humble talents of people who are honest and willing to render whatever talent they have for the spread of the gospel. This allows Mark to put personal insight from himself or Peter into His writing about the person of Jesus, adding a touch of authenticity, here are three unique features proving how real Jesus is to the author: One: Only Mark gives healing commands of Jesus in the original Aramaic: Talitha koum (Mark 5:41), Ephphatha (Mark 7:34) Two: Only here in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as “the son of Mary” (Mark 6:3). Three: Mark is the only gospel where Jesus himself is called a carpenter (Mark 6:3); in Matthew he is called a carpenter’s son (Matthew 13:55). These points show us as His Family, that a personal touch in our work for our Savior is needed, in order to have a real relationship with Him. Do you?

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