The Second Gospel was written by Mark, the kinsman of Barnabas, and
the companion of Paul in his first missionary journey. When and where
it was written is uncertain. Of its author the following facts are
gathered from the New Testament: He is first named in
His mother's name was Mary, and we learn from
that she was a sister of Barnabas. She dwelt in Jerusalem, and this
city was probably Mark's early home. He was converted by Peter
(1 Peter 5:13),
it has been supposed, at the great ingathering on the day of Pentecost.
He became a minister
attended Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey
did not prove satisfactory to Paul
and as Barnabas insisted on taking him, he and Paul parted company on
the second missionary journey. That Paul and Mark were afterwards
intimate is shown by the subsequent history. We find him by Paul's side
during his first imprisonment at Rome, A. D. 61-63; and he is
acknowledged by him as one of his few fellow-laborers who had been a
"comfort" to him during the weary hours of his imprisonment
(Col. 4:10, 11; Philemon 24).
We next have traces of him in
1 Peter 5:13.
"The church that is in Babylon . . . saluteth you, and so
doth Marcus, my son". From this we infer that he joined the spiritual
father, the friend of his mother, at Babylon, then and for some hundred
years afterwards returned one of the chief seats of Jewish culture.
From Babylon he would seem to have returned to Asia Minor; for during
his second imprisonment, A. D. 68, Paul, writing to Timothy,
charges him to bring Mark with him to Rome, on the ground that he was
"profitable unto him for the ministry"
(2 Tim. 4:11).
From this point we gain no further information from the New Testament
respecting the Evangelist. It is most probable, however, that he did
join the Apostle at Rome, whither also Peter would seem to have
proceeded, and suffered martyrdom along with Paul. After the death of
these two great pillars of the Church, ecclesiastical tradition affirms
that Mark visited Egypt, founded the Church of Alexandria, and died by
martyrdom. This tradition is, however, very uncertain.
Mark was not one of the twelve, and there is no reason to believe
that he was an eye and ear witness of the events which he has recorded;
but an almost unanimous testimony of the early fathers indicates Peter
as the source of his information. The most important of these
testimonies is that of Papias, who says, "He, the presbyter (John)
said: Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, wrote exactly whatever he
remembered; but he did not write in order the things which were spoken
or done by Christ. For he was neither a hearer nor a follower of the
Lord, but, as I said, afterward followed Peter, who made his discourses
to suit what was required, without the view of giving a connected
digest of the discourses of our Lord. Mark, therefore, made no mistakes
when he wrote down circumstances as he recollected them; for he was
very careful of one thing, to omit nothing of what he heard, and to say
nothing false in what he related." Thus Papias writes of Mark. This
testimony is confirmed by other witnesses.
Tradition affirms that Mark wrote for the benefit of Gentile
Christians, and this view is confirmed by the fact that he often
explains Jewish customs, where Matthew, writing for Jews, omits the
explanation as if well understood. In the comments on Mark references
will be found to the parallel passages in Matthew, where full
explanatory notes will be found.