Authorship and Audience

According to what Papias (c. 70 - 163 A.D.) had heard from the Apostle John, Mark (a.k.a. John Mark) recorded Peter's account of the Gospel. Thus, Mark is the one who physically wrote the gospel, but Peter is the one who dictated what should be written.

As far as audience is concerned: Based on the fact that Mark offers translations and explanations of Jewish words and customs (a few examples are: 3:17, 14:36, 7:3-4, and 15:42), it is likely that this Gospel was written to a Gentile audience. Mark also uses Latin loan-words rather than the Greek word for the same thing (a couple examples are: 5:9 and 15:16,39).

Date and Context

While there are many differing views on the order of the gospels and, therefore, the date of each one, I argue it is most likely that Mark was written after the book of Matthew. I also believe, based on the fact that the prophecy in Mark 13:2 is not described as already having been fulfilled, that the Gospel was written before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. Thus, I would date the book of Mark somewhere in between 60 and 69 AD.

Based on the testimony of early Church fathers and historical testimony that Peter was martyred in Rome, I believe that the book of Mark was written from Rome shortly before Peter's martyrdom.


  • The True Nature of Power. The book of Mark, written to an audience living in one of the most powerful nations in human history, demonstrates the true nature of power including its source, its end, and its proper use. Jesus Christ is powerfully and dramatically presented as the Messiah, and yet we find Christ submitting to the Father's will, even as that leads Him to the cross where He bears the separation from God the Father that we, ourselves, had earned.

  • The True Nature of Discipleship. Time and time again, Peter and Mark impress upon their audience what it means to be a disciple, that is a follower, of Jesus Christ. This is done through Christ's explicit teaching (8:34-38) and through numerous positive and negative examples that come up throughout the text (for a few examples, consider: 8:27-33, 1:16-20, and 14:50-52).


0. Christ Demonstrates His Power [1 - 8:26]

I. Hinge: How Can the Powerful Messiah Die? What Implications Does Christ's Death Have for Those Following Christ? [8:27-38]

II. Christ Submits His Power to the Father's Authority [9 - 16]


  • Many have noted that Mark's incipit (the opening phrase of the book of Mark) is similar to the Priene Calendar Inscription which proclaimed the "good tidings" that Caesar Augustus, called a god, was bringing into the world. You can read a copy of the Priene Calendar Inscription and find more information about this topic here:

  • Notice that throughout the text, Mark emphasizes Jesus's activity in the Gentile areas to the North of Israel like Tyre, Sidon, and the Decapolis.

  • One of the interesting details about Mark's record of Jesus's trial is that Jesus Himself made sure that he was found guilty. The Jews were unable to provide credible, consistent testimony to provide Christ's guilt (14:59), but Jesus provides the evidence to seal His own fate (14:62).

  • Even though it is an aside in the text, there has been much discussion about the man in 14:51-52 who flees right out of the sheet he was using to cover himself. Some suggest that this was a 'cameo' appearance, if you will, of Mark himself. While this is certainly possible, it is important not to miss the meaning because we're too busy checking the spelling. The point of this passage, in a book that discusses the true nature of discipleship, is to highlight the fact that this man was so intent on fleeing Christ that he was willing to risk public shame and disgrace.

  • It is interesting to read Mark 10:42-43 in light of the fact that this book was likely written to a primarily Gentile audience This statement would have been quite an indictment for the original readers.

  • The gospel of Mark has multiple, possible endings. Some copies end the book of Mark at 16:8, others end at 16:8 but tack on another sentence, and still others end at 16:20 (see: All of the earliest manuscripts, however, simply end at verse 8. Thus, I believe verse 8 is the original ending of the work. It is likely that scribes added longer endings in order to soften the Mark's abrupt ending.

  • As far as the relationship between the Apostle Peter and Mark is concerned, 1 Peter 5:13 refers to Mark as "my son", signifying the closeness of their relationship.

  • More than the other gospel accounts, Mark accentuates the political undertones and ironies surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. When Jesus is sentenced, the Roman soldiers mock his kingship (15:16-20). When Jesus is crucified, the inscription put above Jesus reads "The King of the Jews" (15:26), which appears to be another political shot at the Jews in that the Jews were killing their own king at the hands of the Romans. One irony is that Jesus really is the King of the Jews and the entire world. Most of the Jews and the Romans simply did not recognize His power because they did not understand the true nature of Christ's power. Another irony is that because of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, He is now ruler over death itself and will one day return to exercise authority over death by banishing it once and for all (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 and Revelation 21)!

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