The Gospel of Mark

John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Part 1 of 10 of the series The Gospel of Mark

Introduction

The Gospel of Mark is designed to portray the Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect Servant of Jehovah. Sidlow Baxter wrote, ‘What Jesus did proves who He was. What He wrought authenticates what He taught. The mighty works verify the startling words’.1 Thus Mark records the actions of the Lord, but omits much of what He said.

Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the four Gospels, with significant sections contained in the other Gospels omitted by Mark. The genealogy of the Lord is missing. As Hiebert puts it, ‘Not the pedigree but the performance of this Servant was the primary concern’.2 But Mark also includes touches and insights that no other Gospel writer adds.3 He gives prominence to the reactions of the Lord. He mentions compassion, sighing, indignation, distress and sorrow. He mentions the sweeping gaze, the touch of the hand, and His concern for little children.

Perhaps the most noticeable of Mark’s characteristic words is that variously translated as ‘immediately’, ‘straightway’, ‘forthwith’, ‘anon’, and ‘as soon as’.4 He conveys the idea of the ceaseless energy and work of the Servant, ever in pursuit of the Father’s will and purpose, and its completion.5

Author

It is to be noted that there is no reference to the author in this Gospel. Although it has been the subject of some dissent amongst scholars, the author is assumed to be the John Mark of the New Testament. His name occurs eight times.6 John was his Jewish, and Mark his Roman, name.

We learn from Colossians chapter 4 verse 10 that he was ‘sister’s son to Barnabas’, and, most probably, the spiritual son of Peter, 1 Pet. 5. 13. For this reason, some scholars assert that Mark gained much of his information for the Gospel from Peter.7 Hiebert comments, ‘Peter’s preaching indeed was the main source upon which he drew, but before Mark became Peter’s assistant, he already knew a great deal about Jesus’.8 Thus, whilst Mark could support what he wrote from eyewitness accounts, what he wrote was a consequence of the activity of the Spirit of God, 2 Pet. 1. 21. 

Analysis

We might divide the Gospel into four broad sections:

The Testimony of the witnesses, 1. 1-13;
The Testimony of the Lord’s works, 1. 14 – 10. 52; 
The Trial of the week, chh. 11-15; 
The Triumph of the Lord’s resurrection and the witnesses, ch. 16.

Scroggie’s more detailed analysis is as follows:

‘The Divine Servant and His day of service, 1. 1-13;
The Galilean Ministry – First Period, 1. 14 – 3. 6;
The Galilean Ministry – Second Period, 3. 7 – 7. 23;
The Galilean Ministry – Third Period, 7. 24 – 9. 50;
The Perean Ministry, 10. 1-52;
The Closing events of Christ’s ministry, 11. 1 – 15. 47;
The New day, 16. 1-20’.9

St. John offers a similar perspective:

‘Part 1. Division 1 – Chapters 1-3
The First Phase of the Galilean Ministry

Subdivision A: 1. 1-13 
The Entrance Hall to the Gospel

Subdivision B: 1. 14 – 2. 12 
The First Seascape

Subdivision C: 2. 13 – 3. 6 
The Second Seascape

Subdivision D: 3. 7-35 
The Third Seascape

Division 2 – Chapters 4, 5
The Salvation of God displayed in wisdom, power, and love

Subdivision A: 4. 1-34 
The Fourth Seascape

Subdivision B: 4. 35-41 
The Fifth Seascape

Subdivision C: 5. 1-43 
The Sixth Seascape

Division 3 – Chapter 6. 1 – 8. 26
Wanderings in the North: Spiritual Feeding

Subdivision A: 6. 1-56 
From Nazareth to Gennesaret

Subdivision B: 7. 1-37 
Tradition and Plain Speaking

Subdivision C: 8. 1-26 
The Seven Loaves and the One

Division 4 – Chapter 8. 27 – 9. 50
The Cross, the Coming, and the power of the Name

Subdivision A: 8. 27 – 9. 29
Caesarea Philippi and the Holy Hill

Subdivision B: 9. 30-50 
The Failure of the Disciples

Part 2. Division 5 – Chapter 10
Teaching in Transjordania: From Creation to the Kingdom of Light

Subdivision A: 10. 1-31 
The Pillars of Society

Subdivision B: 10. 32-52 
Going up to Jerusalem

Part 3. Division 6 – Chapters 11-13
Three Days in the Holy City

Subdivision A: 11. 1-11 
Day 1: From Bethany to the Temple

Subdivision B: 11. 12-19 
Day 2: From Bethany to the Temple

Subdivision C: 11. 20 – 12. 44
Day 3: From Bethany to the Temple

Subdivision D: 13. 1-37 
The Lamp of Prophecy

Division 7 – Chapters 14, 15 
In Jerusalem: From the Feast at Bethany to the rock-hewn tomb

Subdivision A: 14. 1-25 
Alternate Treachery and Trust

Subdivision B: 14. 26-52 
From the Upper Room to Gethsemane

Subdivision C: 14. 53-72 
The Trial and the Denial

Subdivision D: 15. 1-47
Pilate’s Power

Division 8 – Chapter 16
The Risen and Enthroned Servant – Still working’.10 

Endnotes

1 J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book, Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1956.

2 D. Edmond Hiebert, The Gospel of Mark, Bob Jones University Press, pg. 12.

3 Scroggie states, ‘He alone tells us of not less than eleven occasions amid His work on which Christ retired . . . He alone tells us that Jesus was “the carpenter”, so flashing a light over the obscure years in Nazareth’. W. Graham Scroggie, Know your Bible, Volume 2, Pickering and Inglis, pg. 28.

4 Scroggie states, ‘Forty-one times he uses a word (euthe?s) which is variously translated “immediately”, “anon” . . . and “straitly”. Op. cit., pg. 28.

5 ‘The primary stress is upon the deeds of Jesus. It vividly portrays the fact that Christ’s work was continuous, persistent, and strenuous. He was incessantly busy’. Hiebert, pg. 12. 

6 Acts 12. 25; 13. 5, 13; 15. 37-39; Col. 4. 10; Philem. 23, 24; 2 Tim. 4. 11; 1 Pet. 5. 13.

7 ‘Mark’s Gospel is not a primary source of knowledge of Christ, but a secondary: the primary source was the preaching of Peter’, Alan Cole, Mark, Tyndale Press, pg. 34. For a fuller treatment of the internal evidence in the Gospel to Peter as its source, see: W. Graham Scroggie, A Guide to the Gospels, Pickering and Inglis, 1948, pp. 177-179. Additional information on Mark’s sources can be found in this same book on pages 182 to 184.

8 D. Edmond Hiebert, pg. 7.

9 W. Graham Scroggie, Know your Bible, Volume 2, Pickering and Inglis, pp. 29-34. The author has abbreviated a more detailed analysis for the sake of space.

10 H. St. John, An Analysis of the Gospel of Mark, Pickering and Inglis, 1956, pp. 7-10. The author has abbreviated a more detailed analysis for the sake of space.

 

 

AUTHOR PROFILE: JOHN BENNETT is a member of the Precious Seed committee.

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