the Fourth Week of Lent
Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible Barnes' Notes
by Albert Barnes
Preface to Mark
Of Mark, the writer of this Gospel, little is certainly known. He is commonly supposed to be the same that is several times mentioned in the New Testament. He was not an apostle, or companion of the Lord Jesus, during his ministry, though some of the fathers affirm that he was one of the seventy disciples. This is improbable, as he is mentioned by Peter 1 Peter 5:13 as “his son;” from which it is supposed that he was converted by the instrumentality of Peter.
From the New Testament we learn that he was sister’s son to Barnabas Colossians 4:10; and that his mother’s name was Mary, a pious woman in Jerusalem, at whose house the apostles and primitive Christians often assembled, Acts 12:12.
His Hebrew name was John Acts 12:12, and it is probable that he adopted a name better known or more familiar when he visited the Gentiles, a practice not uncommon in that age. He was at first the companion of Paul and Barnabas in their journeys to propagate Christianity, Acts 12:25; Acts 13:5; Acts 15:37. He chose not to attend them through their whole journey, but left them in Pamphylia, and probably returned to Jerusalem, Acts 15:38. Probably at this time he was the companion of Peter, and traveled with him to Babylon, 1 Peter 5:13. Afterward he went with Barnabas to Cyprus, Acts 15:39. Subsequently he went to Rome, at the express desire of Paul, in company with Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:11. He remained at Rome while Paul was a captive there, but how long is uncertain, Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24. From Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome we hear that Mark went from Rome to Alexandria, in Egypt, where he planted a church, and died in the eighth year of the reign of Nero, 64 ad
The time when this Gospel was written is not certainly known. It is supposed to have been between the years 56 and 63 a.d. It is allowed by all that it was written at Rome; of course it was during the latter years of his life, after the apostles had left Judea, Mark 16:20. Mark was for a considerable time the companion of Peter. Though he had not himself been with the Saviour in his ministry, yet, from his long acquaintance with “Peter,” he was familiar with the events of his life, and with his instructions. The uniform testimony of the fathers is that he was the “interpreter” of Peter, and that he wrote this Gospel under the eye of Peter and with his approbation. It has come down to us, therefore, with the sanction of Peter’s authority. Its right to a place among the inspired books has never been questioned. That it was written by Mark, that it was with Peter’s approbation, that it was a record of the “facts” which Peter stated in his ministry, and that it was therefore an inspired book, has never been questioned.