Quick Facts About The Gospel Of Mark

Adapted from biblica.com and carm.org



The Gospel of Mark was originally an anonymous document since the focus was on Jesus Christ, not who was the exact author of the text. Nowhere in the Gospel of Mark is there a specific claim regarding who authored the book. However, there is an early tradition that associated John Mark as the author of the Gospel. The Bishop Papias writing around 140? A.D. states that Mark interpreted the words of the apostle Peter accurately, but not in direct chronological sequence. Since John Mark probably wrote the Gospel, his association with Peter would tend to give historical credibility to the account since Peter was an eyewitness who knew Jesus while He was on this earth.



According to early church tradition, Mark was written “in the regions of Italy” or, more specifically, in Rome. These sources closely associate Mark’s writing of the Gospel with the apostle Peter. The above evidence is consistent with (1) the historical probability that Peter was in Rome during the last days of his life and was martyred there, and (2) the Biblical evidence that Mark also was in Rome about the same time and was closely associated with Peter (see 2 Tim 4:11; 1 Pe 5:13, where the word “Babylon” may be a cryptogram for Rome; see also Introduction to 1 Peter: Place of Writing).



The evidence points to the church at Rome, or at least to Gentile readers. Mark explains Jewish customs, translates Aramaic words and seems to have a special interest in persecution and martyrdom - subjects of special concern to Roman believers (and to Peter as well). A Roman destination would explain the almost immediate acceptance of this Gospel and its rapid dissemination.


Occasion & Purpose

Since Mark’s Gospel is traditionally associated with Rome, it may have been occasioned by the persecutions of the Roman church in the period c. a.d. 64–67. The famous fire of Rome in 64—probably set by Nero himself but blamed on Christians—resulted in widespread persecution. Even martyrdom was not unknown among Roman believers. Mark may be writing to prepare his readers for such suffering by placing before them the life of our Lord. There are many references, both explicit and veiled, to suffering and discipleship throughout his Gospel.



Mark’s Gospel is a simple, succinct, unadorned, yet vivid account of Jesus’ ministry, emphasizing more what Jesus did than what he said. Mark moves quickly from one episode in Jesus’ life and ministry to another, often using the adverb “immediately”. The book as a whole is characterized as “The beginning of the gospel”. The life, death and resurrection of Christ comprise the “beginning,” of which the apostolic preaching in Acts is the continuation.