Church Education Trust

Church and the Bible


The Gospel according to Mark

Key Verse. 10:45. 

"For even the Son of man did not come to be served,

but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many."

Key Purpose. 

Mark unfolds the the dual focus of Christ`s life : Service & Sacrifice.


 The Gospels of  Matthew, Mark and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels. The word `Synoptic`means `to be seen together`. What that really means, is that the three Gospels when examined together indicate that there is substantical materials that are common to each one.

Some scholars have suggested that Mark`s Gospel is the earliest Gospel written and of necessity is the most impotant of the three Gospels as it has become the common source of materials for the development of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Mark`s gospel would have been written by hand and only a few copies of his order and inclusion of materials on the life of Jesus would have been available. His Gospel therefore is a most important church document and deserves detailed investigation of its contents.

The first question to be asked concerning the special place given to Mark`s gospel as the earliest written document on the life and times of the Lord Jesus Christ is `What makes Mark`s Gospel so important that it has been included in the Canon of the New Testament and recognised as the earliest written Gospel?

Mark`s Gospel as the main source for Matthew and Luke is a real possibility as we examine the commonly used materials found in the three gospels. For example if we compare the story of the feeding of the 5000 in Mark 6:30-44 along with Matthew 14:12-21 and Luke 9:10-17 we quickly conclude that the story related in each of the three gospels is almost exactly conveyed in the same format and using the same detailed materials.

Other examples that need investigation are.....

The story of the healing of the man who was sick of the Palsy. Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 9:1-8 and Luke 5:17-26 presents the story almost identically in the three Gopels giving the clear impression that two of the gospel writers used the other as a source for their story materials or all there got their materials from a forth common source. When a closer inspection and investigaion is made of the content of the Gospels after setting them side by side certain conclusions become possible.

For example the Gospel of Mark in its English translation can be divided into 105 sections of story materials, 93 of these stories are included by Matthew in His Gospel while Luke includes 81. In fact there are only 4 of the Mark`s story lines that are found to be exclusively used in his Gospel.

Scholars have suggested that there are 661 verses in Mark`s gospel, 1068 verses in Matthew`s Gospel and 1149 verses in Luke`s Gospel. Matthew includes some 606 of Mark`s 661 verses which is 51% of |Matthew`s Gospel while Luke reproduces 320 which works out at 53% of Mark`s content. Out of 55 verses in Mark`s gospel which Matthew dosent reproduce 31 of those 55 verses are found in Luke`s Gospel reminding us that only 24 verses in Mark`s Gospel are not found in either Matthew or Luke`s Gospels.

It is also a fact that Matthew and Luke follow Mark`s chronological order of events and stories. The obvious conclusion that one can come to, given the facts stated, that Matthew and Luke have been heavily reliant on the Mark`s Gospel as their sourse of materials on the life and times of Jesus Christ.It has been asked on many occasion, where then did Mark get his information about the life and times of Jesus.

Some earliy second century Christians have suggested that what we have in Mark`s gospel is really the thoughts of Peter who was with Christ through out His ministry.The earliest statement concerning the authorship of Mark`s Gospel was made by Papias who was the Bishop of Hierrapolis in about 130 A.D.

His remarks were recorded in the `Ecclesiastical History` written by Eusebius who recalls reading a book by Papias which no longer exists, where he remembers tradition which had been past down to him suggesting that John Mark who was a close friend and helper to Peter the Apostle, wrote down accurately all that Peter had share with him about the Lord`s ministry on earth.

Mark would have heard Peter regularly preach in his Mother`s house and as a diligent secretary and writter he would have noted the stories taken from Peter`s sermons, collected this information and later put pen to paper to write his Gospel.

In fact many of the early church fathers mention this belief that Mark was recording all that Peter had shared with him. Justin Martyr 150 A.D. refers to the memoirs of Peter, Irenaeus 180-200 A.D. describes Marks Gospel as a gospel which reflects the understanding that Peter had of the ministry of the Lord Jesus. Clement of Alexandria 180 A.D. believed that Mark during the life and ministry of Peter wrote this Gospel reflecting the way Peter wanted the events of Christ`s life to be understood. Tradition has it that Mark finished this work in Rome.


Mark is not really disputed as the author of the second chronologically placed Gospel. He was the son of a wealthy lady called Mary who lived in Jerusalem and whose home was used for the local church to meet in. (Acts 12:12) Acts 12:25 reminds us that the Apostle Paul took Mark on one of his missionary journey`s.

Mark was the nephew of Barnabas a close friend of Paul, Mark was obviously capable in the area of writting and recording of information for we know that Paul used him as a secretary. While that relationship didnot last long for we see Mark returing home from Perga (Acts13:13) later there was serious challenges to face when a request from Barnabas that Paul would include Mark in his second Missionary journey was rejected.(Acts 15:37-40). Tradition suggests that Mark finally found a place of real and positive ministry in Egypt and was instramental in establishing the church in Alexandria.

Many years passed and we find a mention of Mark in Clossians 4:10 where Mark is by Paul`s side while Paul was under house arrest in Rome. In 2 Timothy 2:4-11 Paul had re-sestablished a good working relationship with Mark and desired Mark`s company as he faced his death. Mark`s ministry was carried out at the heart of ministry where the church was growing and developing. God was using him in many different ways, one of those ways was that Mark would leave as a record for the church an account  of the life and times of Jesus Christ.

Characteristics of Mark`s Gospel. 

Mark`s gospel is as close as we can get to a gospel been actually written by Jesus Himself. His Gospel underlines the fact of Christ`s humanity while clearly revealing that Jesus is also the Son of the living God.

Mark reminds his readers that Jesus was not just a good man or a teacher, He was God in flesh. And because of that people stood in awe, astonished, amazed, astounded at his words and works of miracle.

While the divine side of Jesus comes to the fore in the Gospel, Mark wants people to clearly understand the humanity of Christ also. He talks about him as the carpenter (6:3) , in some passages Mark reminds us of Christ`s emotional responses to some very human situations. For example we read that "Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit"(7:34).

He was "moved with compassion." (6:34), He "marvelled at their unbelief."(6:6) He was moved with "righteous anger." (3:5) He was tired. (6:31 and he was hungry. (11:12). This picture of the humanity of Jesus reflects how that he identifies with us in our humanity.

When Mark`s Gospel is read the only conclusion that you can come to is that the story line that Mark uses came from an eye witness to those events that he writes about and that indicates that Peter would be the best source for that materal.

Mark`s gospel includes the small details which highlight the belief of an eye witness, for example when talking about the feeding of the 5000, Mark includes information not included by the others. He reminds his readers that the people sat down in rows of 100 and in rows of 50.

The eye for detail indicates eye witness.The way Mark writes his story line some times seems to suggest that he allowed his excitement to communicate his mesage to take precidence over his grammer. Some scholars have suggested that his style lacks completeness, Mark seems more eager to tell the story, to get the good news out as quickly as possible than to make his Gospel a thesis that if examined by an outsde examiner would gain him a good mark.

In his desire not to loose any detail from his mind, he rushes forward with great haste, allowing the story lines to flow into his written work. Some 30 times he uses the words `straightway` and `immediately`, no time to wait for irrelevant pauses in the story line. The Gospel flows at an immense rate of telling, as if he is fighting against the exam clock believing that the time is short and the story must be told.

He constantly links thought with thought constantly using `and` even though a full stop is grammatically correct. He writes as if everything was happening at that precise moment, past happening are presented as if they are happening just as he writes, but that only goes to reflect his deep seated desire to make real to his readers that which is real to him.

Mark`s Gospel as the earliest Gospel written which was accepted into the canon of scripture as a treasure trove of eye witness experiences and has been left to us an an inheritance of the life and times of the Lord Jesus Christ and it is with great joy that we immerse our minds in it marvelous contents that leads us a little closer to Jesus who while fully human was also God in flesh.

Mark`s Gospel, God`s gift to the church.

Mark`s Gospel Content. 

A.The Beginnings : Christ`s Authority Ch.1:1-13.

John the Baptist prepares the way. Ch.1:1-8.

John baptises Jesus. Ch.1:9-11.

Satan temps Jesus. Ch.1:12-13.

B.Authority, Spiritual Sucess and Direct Opposition.Ch.1:14-ch3:6.

Galilean Ministry begins for Jesus. Ch.1:14-15.

The Call of disiples.Ch.1:16-20. (Simon, Andrew, James, John).

A Demon Possessed man is healed. Ch.1:21-28.

The Healing of Peter`s mother in law.Ch.1:29-31.

Jesus heals many people.Ch.1 32-34.

Jesus Draws aside to pray. Ch.1:35-37.

Jesus ministers throught Galilee. Ch.1:38-39.

Jesus heals the leaper. Ch.1:40-45.

The Paralytic man is healed. Ch.2:1-12.

Matthew called to be a disciple.Ch.2:13-17.

Questions on Fasting Ch.2:18-22.

Eating grain on the Sabbath. Ch.2:23-27.

Healing on the Sabbath.Ch.3:1-6.

C.Hidden Truth, Parables & Miracles.

Multitudes and Miracles. Ch.3:7-12.

The 12 Disciples.Ch.3:13-19.

The Unpardonable Sin.Ch.3:20-30.

The Mother of Jesus and his half brothers. Ch.3:31-35.

The Parable of the sower.Ch.4:1-20.

A Lamp on a stand. Ch.4:21-25.

The Parable of the growing seed.Ch.4:26-29.

The Mustard Seed.Ch.4:30-34.

The Strom stilled. Ch. 4:35-4.

The Demon possessed man. Ch.5:1-20.

Jairus Daughter raised from the dead. 5:21-43.

Jesus visits his own home town. Ch.6:1-6.

D.Hardness of heart and faithlessness. Ch.6:6-8:21.

The 12 Discipled commissioned and sent out on mission. Ch.6:7-13.

The execution of John The Baptist. Ch.6:14-29.

The feeding of the 5000. Ch.6:30-44.

Jesus walks on the water. Ch.6:45-52.

Jesus heals many people. Ch.6:53-56.

Purity and defilement. Ch.7:1-23.

The Syropheonician Woman. Ch.7:24-30.

The healing of the deaf mute. Ch.7:31-37.

The feeding of the 4000. Ch.8:1-9.

Leaven of the Pharisees 8:10-21.

A blind man is healed. Ch.8:22-26.

E.The way of the Cross and discipleship. Ch.8:27-10:52. 

Peter`s Confession of faith in Christ. Ch.8:27-30.

The Passion of Jesus death foretold.Ch.8:31-33.

The cost of discipleship. Ch.8:34-9:1.

The Transfiguration of Jesus.Ch.9:2-13.

The Epilectic boy. Ch.9:14-29.

The Passion of Christ foretold again.Ch.9:30-32.

Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God.Ch.9:33-37.

The unknown miracle worker.Ch.9:38-40.

Sayings about life and death.Ch.9:41-50.

F.Ministry in Perea.

The Departure from Galilee. Ch.10:1.

Divorce. Ch.10:2-12.

Little Children.Ch.10:13-16.

The Rich young ruler.Ch.10:17-31.

The Passion fortold. Ch.10:32-34.

The request of James and John. Ch.10:10:35-45.

Blind Bartimaeus. Ch.10:46-52.

G.The king comes to Jerusalem. Ch.11:1-13:37.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem Ch.11:1-11.

The Cleansing of the Temple.Ch.11:15-18.

The Fig Tree. Ch.11:12-14,19-25.


The Parable of the Vineyard.Ch.12:1-12.

Paying Taxes to Caesar.Ch.12:13-17.

The Resurrection / Questions.Ch.12:18-27.

The Great Commandment.Ch.12:28-34.

The Son of David.Ch.12:28-34.

Teachers of the Law denounced.Ch.12:38-40.

The widows Gift.Ch.12:38-40.

The Widows Gift.Ch.12:41-44.

The Second coming of Jesus Christ.Ch.13.

H.The Story of the Passion.14:1-15:47. Ch.14:1-15:47.

The Plot to kill Jesus.Ch.14:1-2.

The Anointing at Bethany. Ch.14:3-9.

Judas the Traitor. Ch.14:10-11.

The Last Supper. Ch.14:12-25.

Peter`s Denial. Ch.14:26-31, 66-72.

The Agony of Gethsemane. Ch.14:32-42.

Betrayal and Arrest. Ch.14:43-53.

The Trial of Jesus.Ch.14:53-15:20.

The Crucifxion of Jesus Ch.15:21-41.

The Burial of Jesus.Ch.15:42-47.

I.The Resurrection.Ch.16:1-8.

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene.Ch.16:9-11.

Jesus appears to the Disciples. Ch.16:14-18.

Jesus` Ascension. Ch.16:19-20.













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