Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark is the earliest written document on the life of Jesus that is preserved for us today. But Mark is more than a historical account or an attempt at objective biography. It is a story that seeks to draw readers into its world, to lead them to a faith in Jesus as the Christ the Son of God, and to motivate them to a truer discipleship.

Christian tradition has long suggested that the author of the Gospel was "Mark," a companion of Peter who is mentioned in Colossians 4:10, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 24 and called "John Mark" in Acts 12:12, 25 and 15:37-39. Peter does occupy a unique role in this Gospel, but nowhere does the author ever explicitly identify himself. We will continue to call this Gospel "Mark’s," but its actual authorship remains uncertain. Based on the kinds of unrest described in chapter 13 which are consistent with Nero’s persecution of Christians and the Jewish revolt against Rome which culminated with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 a.d, most scholars conclude that this Gospel was written sometime in the late 60’s a.d. There are many factors which point to the likelihood that Mark was composed for a community outside of Palestine. Christian tradition has suggested Rome as its originating location, but any number of places within the Roman Empire could also be possible.

Most scholars also agree that Mark served as a source for the Gospels attributed to Matthew and Luke. Though these other two Gospels, along with John, may provide a more polished and fuller account of Jesus’ ministry, Mark remains, I think, as the most compelling story which hopes to draws its readers into a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God who suffered and died for us. This Gospel also highlights the nature of discipleship lived out in the shadow of Christ’s cross and what it means for us as followers of Jesus to be "MARKed for Life!"

Outline of the Gospel of Mark


1 Preface; John the Baptist  
  Baptism; Temptation Judea
  Start of Jesus ministry; call of 4 disciples; miracles in and around Galilee
2 Heals paralytic; conflicts with authorities  
3 death plot by Pharisees & Herodians; calling the 12; house divided saying  
4 Teaching parables; stills storm  
5 Legion exorcised; Jairus' daughter healed  
6 Rejected at home; 12 sent out; death of John the Baptist; 5000 fed; walks on water  
7 Pharisees and scribes; Syro~phoenician woman and deaf man healed  
8 4000 fed; blind man healed  
  Peter's confession  
  1st passion prediction (8:31)  
9 Transfiguration; on Elijah; exorcism  
  2nd passion prediction (9:31)  
10 Regarding divorce; children; rich man to Judea
  3rd passion prediction (10:32)  
  blind Bartimaeus healed  
11 Entry into Jerusalem in Jerusalem
  clearing Temple; plot of chief priests, scribes, and elders  
12 Parable of vineyard; on paying tax to Caesar; regarding resurrection; poor widow  
13 Apocalyptic Discourse  
14 Preparing for Passover; Passover supper  
  Arrest in garden; Jewish trial; Peter's denial  
15 Trial before Pilate  
  Crucifixion & burial  
16 Empty tomb to Galilee

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