"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Introduction

Introductory Thoughts to the Gospel of Mark

Read: Mark 1:1-9a

Text: Mark 1:1 (KJV) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

Theme: Today we will attempt to answer the question, How can we make another study of the gospel of Mark fresh and meaningful?


I am going to be somewhat selfish this morning. Although we will look at some information that will help us in our understanding of the gospel of Mark, my main goal today is to achieve a direction for our study… to learn how we might best examine this gospel in a way beneficial to this class.

Although I won't ask for a show of hands, I believe it is probably true that there are some here who have read the book of Mark dozens of times. There are some here who have studied it in-depth, perhaps several times during the course of your lives. There are probably some here that have even taught it, in depth, at some time. With that in mind, I hope today to learn how we might make another study of Mark fresh and meaningful to all of us.

We will break our discussion into 3 major areas, but feel free to comment on anything you think will ANSWER my main QUESTION for today. (i.e. How do we make another study of Mark fresh and meaningful to the Friendship Class? NOTE - write this on the white board)

I. The Author

  • QUESTION - Who is the author of the gospel of Mark?

    ANSWER - "Although there is no direct internal evidence of authorship, it was the unamimous testimony of the early church that this Gospel was written by John Mark. The most important evidence comes from Papias (c. A.D. 140), who quotes an even earlier source as saying: (1) Mark was a close associate of Peter, from whom he received the tradition of the things said and done by the Lord; (2) this tradition did not come to Mark as a finished, sequential account of the life of our Lord, but as the preaching of Peter - preaching directed to the needs of the early Christian communites; (3) Mark accurately preserved this material. " (NIV Study Bible, Introduction to Mark)

    QUESTION - What do we know about John Mark - the author of this gospel?

    ANSWER - (Following notes from Ryrie Study Bible, introduction to Mark)

  • ANSWER - Scofield notes that Peter calls John Mark "my son" in 1 Peter 5:13 and says, "From the early days of the church, Mark's gospel has been thought to reflect Peter's view of Christ."

    QUESTION - What strengths did John Mark demonstrate in his life?

    ANSWER (Some of my thoughts) -

  • QUESTION - What weaknesses did John Mark demonstrate in his life?

    QUESTION - What lessons can we learn from this man, John Mark?

    ANSWER - "His biography proves that one failure in life does not mean the end of usefulness." Ryrie

  • II. The Book

  • QUESTION - What is the purpose of the gospel of Mark?

    ANSWER - (Some thoughts)

  • ANSWER (Quoting Ryrie) "(1) Mark wrote for Gentile readers in general and Roman readers in particular. For this reason the genealogy of Christ is not included (for it would have meant little to Gentiles), the Sermon on the Mount is not reported, and the condemnations of the Jewish sects receive little attention. As a further indication of his Gentile readership, mark felt it necessary to interpret Aramaic words (5:41; 7:34; 15:22) and he used Latin words not found in the other Gospels ("executioner," 6:27; "farthing," 12:42) (2) There are only about 63 quotations or allusions from the Old Testament in mark as compared with about 128 in Matthew and between 90 and 100 in Luke. (3) This Gospel emphasizes what Jesus did rather than what He said. It is a book of action (the word "straightway" occurs more than 40 times)."

    ANSWER (Quoting the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoord and Zuck) "Some suggested purpose statements: (a) to present a biographical portrait of Jesus as the Servant of the Lord, (b) to win converts to Jesus Christ, (c) to give instruction to new Christians and strengthen their faith in the face of persecution, (d) to provide material for evangelists and teachers to use, and (e) to correct false ideas about Jesus and His messianic mission. … Mark's purpose was basically pastoral. The Christians in Rome had already heard and believed the good news of God's saving power (Rom. 1:8) but they needed to hear it again with a new emphasis to catch afresh its implications for their lives…"

    QUESTION - What is the theme of the book? (Key verse?) Mark 10:45 (KJV) For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

  • III. Our Study

  • QUESTION - Why should we study a book in a detailed, verse by verse fashion? (i.e. what are the benefits of such a study?)

    QUESTION - What do you think of this quote I recently heard a believer say, "We need more Bible study like we need a hole in the head." (This person was saying that study of scripture is not practical, that we need to be engaged in more practical pursuits in the church.)

    ANSWER - (my thoughts) If you think (as I do) that the above quote flies in the face of scripture (Rom 10:17 (KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.), then we must determine how to make this study practical. With that in mind:

    QUESTION - Since we have read and reread the gospel of Mark so many times in our lives, what would you like to do differently in this study?

    QUESTION - How detailed would you like to study Mark? (i.e. 1 chapter a week for 16 weeks, 1 paragraph a week, etc.)

    QUESTION - Which is more important to you, understanding the people in the narrative, or understanding the events in the narrative? Why?

    QUESTION - What does the term "practical" mean to you (when used to describe a Bible study)? In other words, how do we make this study "practical" to this class, particularly?

    QUESTION - What impact do you want a study of a book of the Bible (such as Mark) to have in your life?

  • Conclusion:

    We have learned a little about the man who wrote the gospel of Mark. Hopefully, as we progress through this study, we will continue to expand on our understanding of him, and the lessons we can learn from his life. His life screams out to me, "GET UP… one failure does not mean the end of you usefulness for Christ!"

    We have also learned a little about the book, itself. As we continue, we will learn more of its structure, purpose, and message. We will continue to think of the key verse (10:45), and determine how it applies to our lives.

    And, you have helped me to structure the remaining sessions in the study. Thank you.

    Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
    Copyright 1997 William E. Johnson.