The book of Mark is one of four in the New Testament known as a “Gospel.” Like Matthew, Luke, and John, Mark records Jesus’ life, ministry, and sacrificial death for our salvation. The word “Gospel” means “Good News.”
Although the four Gospels essentially tell the same overall story they each do it uniquely. They have different audiences, different themes, different purposes, and different styles. Check out the list below to discover 7 things you might not know about the Gospel according to Mark. (See also “4 Tips for Understanding the Gospels.”)
7 Things You Might Not Know about the Gospel of Mark
- Mark records more miracles than any of the other Gospels – Mark’s fast-paced account reads like an action-packed novel. His liberal use of the adverb “immediately” – 42 times! – keeps things moving. This is just one way Mark reflects the sense of urgency Jesus had for sharing the good news of the kingdom in the limited time the Father gave Him on earth. Mark also focuses more on Jesus’ actions than His words.
- It is the first and shortest Gospel – Mark is half the length of Luke and 90% of Mark’s material is found in either Matthew or Luke. This Gospel does not record the birth of Jesus but instead begins when Jesus’ ministry begins. But Mark is also the only Gospel that records Jesus’ healing of the deaf and dumb man of Tyre (7:31-37) and the blind man of Bethsaida (8:22-26). For centuries, Mark was thought to be based on Matthew and Luke, but now scholars hold firmly that Mark was the first account of Jesus’ life and ministry to be penned.
- Mark is technically anonymous – The heading “According to Mark” was not in the original manuscript, but added later by scribes who made the earliest copies of the Gospel. The author does not explicitly identify himself in the account itself. However, the earliest church tradition and writings of the early church fathers identify and support Mark as the author. Most likely, “Mark” is the John Mark we read about in Acts. The early church met in the home of his mother Mary (Acts 12:12). Mark was also a cousin of Barnabas and accompanied him and Paul on the first missionary journey (Acts 12:25). Although Paul and Barnabas had a falling out over the fact that Mark deserted them early in the journey, Mark later became an indispensable ministry partner to Paul (2 Timothy 4:11).
- The author made a cameo appearance – Many scholars believe that Mark included a brief cameo of himself in his Gospel account. In Mark 14:51-52, Mark tells of a young man who fled the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. Church tradition holds that this young man was Mark. Mark is the only Gospel who records this. (By the way, this young man fled the garden nude since someone in the crowd grabbed his garment to try to catch him!)
- This Gospel is likely based on Peter’s experience – The writings of early church fathers and early church tradition not only attribute this Gospel to Mark, but also hold that Mark based his account on Peter’s eyewitness testimony and preaching. (Note: One example is the writing of Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis, in 140 AD.) Scholars also believe Mark was Peter’s disciple and ministry partner. Papias also called Mark “Peter’s interpreter.”
- Mark probably wrote from Rome to Gentile Christians – According to church tradition, Mark may have been in Rome to hear Peter’s account not long before Peter’s martyrdom in the mid 60’s AD. In his first letter, Peter wrote that Mark was in Rome (Babylon) with him (1 Peter 5:13). Persecution by Nero against Christians in Rome intensified after the great fire of 64 AD. These facts support scholars’ understanding that Mark wrote his Gospel to encourage Gentile believers who were suffering for their faith. Mark’s explanations of Jewish customs support the belief he wrote to Gentiles. This may also explain Mark’s lack of Jesus’ genealogy. If Mark wrote his Gospel shortly after Peter’s death as many scholars think, the date of the Gospel would fall in the mid to late 60’s AD.
- The account is not in chronological order – We modern, western thinkers like events neatly laid out in chronological order, but ancient Hebrews organized more to reflect the relationship of events and to meet the needs of the hearers. The construction of Mark also shows that rather than getting Peter’s story in one long dictation, he complied the Gospel from individual conversations and sermons.
Want to study Mark online with me?
If this list has made you want to read and study this great book, I can help! On Saturday, I am kicking off an 8-week study of Mark in the private Facebook group “Reading the Bible Together.”
Note: This group and this study are both FREE. However, I have written a 40-day devotional study on the book of Mark that makes a great supplemental resource for this study. It is optional, but I will be including additional questions each day based on the book. It is available in e-book and print formats on Amazon. Here’s my affiliate link for “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Mark.”
This encouraging, active community includes women of all ages and walks of life who want to be in God’s Word. The members pray for one another and welcome all. Since the group is private, only members can see the group page with its posts and comments.
We read through one Bible book at a time, maintaining a pace that allows us to go a little deeper each day. The group fits any schedule, you can stop in any time during the day. We have women from all over the world so everyone reads and comments when it works best for them.
How the group works:
- Readings & discussion questions for Monday through Friday
- Daily posts scheduled for 5am Central time
- Averages 20-30 verses a day
- Formatted to help you get into the Word for yourself
- This group is FREE
- New Bible books begin immediately after the last one ends
- You can start or stop any time
To join, follow this link for “Reading the Bible Together,” request to join, and answer the 3 questions.