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Mark 1

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Verse 1

Mark 1:1

Book Comments

Walking Thru The Bible



AUTHOR: John, whose surname was Mark, is the writer (Acts 12:12, Acts 12:25). He was the son of a certain Mary of Jerusalem and cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10).

From the fact that the family had large facilities and servants attending the door, Mary appears well off and probably an influential member in the early Jerusalem church. It has been suggested that the upper room may have been at her home and that it continued as a meeting place for the apostles (Cf. Acts 1:13).

Although Mark was a source of contention between Paul and Barnabas at the beginning of the second missionary journey, we see him working with Paul and highly favored a few years later (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24). Mark also worked with Peter and is referred to as his "son" much like Timothy was by Paul. Many believe the young man of Mark 14:51-53 was none other than the young Mark himself.

BACKGROUND: One of the pupils of the apostle John said that Mark wrote down exactly, without mistake, the words and deeds of Christ though not in chronological order. He says that the Mark wrote down the substance of Peter’s preaching.

PURPOSE: From Mark 10:45 we can easily determine Mark’s object in writing his gospel account, "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

CHARACTERISTICS: Mark is the briefest of the four gospel accounts. It is a narrative of dynamic action. Jesus is presented as "doing" rather than merely "saying."

1. "Straightway" and "immediately" are used more than 40 times.

2. Mark repeatedly speaks of the impact, the awe, and astonishment that Jesus made on the mind and heart of those who heard him. cf. Mark 1:22; Mark 1:27; Mark 4:41; Mark 6:51; Mark 10:24, Mark 10:26, etc.

3. Mark tells us more about the emotions of Jesus than other writers. He pictures Jesus:

a. Sighing deeply in His spirit -- Mark 7:34; Mark 8:12.

b. Moved with compassion -- Mark 6:31.

c. Marvelling at their unbelief -- Mark 6:6.

d. Moved with righteous anger -- Mark 3:5; Mark 8:33; Mark 10:14.

e. Looking with love on the rich young ruler -- Mark 10:21.

f. Feeling the pangs of hunger -- Mark 11:12.

g. Becoming tired and needing rest -- Mark 6:31.

4. Mark repeatedly inserts little vivid details which are the hall-marks of an eye-witness.

a. Cf. the added detail to Matthew 18:2 found in Mark 9:36;

b. Cf. Matthew 19:13-15, Luke 18:15-17 and Mark 10:13-16;

c. Mark alone tells how the 5000 were seated, and how they looked like plots of vegetable rows in a garden -- Mark 6:40;

d. Cf. Jesus and disciples on their last journey to Jerusalem -- Matthew 20:17; Luke 18:31; with Mark 10:32.

e. In the story of Jesus stilling the tempest Mark adds one little sentence that makes the picture vivid before our eyes -- Mark 4:38 a.

5. Mark is very fond of the historic present. He speaks of events in the present tense instead of the past.

6. Mark often gives us the very Aramaic words Jesus spoke. Indicative of an eye-witness. Mark always then gives the interpretation of those Aramaic words revealing to us he is writing for non-Hebrews (cf. Mark 5:41; Mark 7:34; Mark 7:11; Mark 14:36; Mark 15:34).

(These may have been times when Peter could hear again the very sound of Jesus’ voice, and could not help givin g in his sermons the very words that Jesus uttered.)

7. Mark made more use of Latin loanwords than the other gospel accounts and some occur in the New Testament only in Mark. [Note also the evidence of Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13 which ties his gospel to a Roman audience.]

8. Mark presents Jesus as being addressed as Rabbi or Teacher whereas Matthew and Luke represent Jesus as being addressed by the title "Lord." Some say Matthew and Luke reflect the post-resurrection practice of speaking of Jesus while Mark is faithful to the pre-resurrection way of addressing Jesus.


Purpose -- The very first verse of Mark provides a clear indication of the writer’s purpose: to set forth "the good news" and to bear witness to Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God.

Outline -- MARK -- "The Miracle Working Servant"

I. The Servant’s Coming - 1:1-13

II. The Servant’s Work - 1:14 - 13:37

A. Beginning of Galilean Ministry - 1:14 - 3:6

B. Later stages of Galilean Ministry - 3:7 - 6:13

C. Jesus goes outside Galilee - 6:14 - 8:26

D. The way to Jerusalem - 8:27 - 10:52

E. Ministry in Jerusalem - 11:1 - 13:37

III. The Servant’s Death - 14:1 - 15:47

IV. The Servant’s Resurrection - 16:1 - 20

Miracles -- Mark shows Jesus as the miracle-working Servant of God attending to man. Mark’s picture is a motion picture showing Jesus in action moving men to God! The Gospel records 35 miracles that Jesus worked.

17 miracles of physical healing

9 miracles over forces of nature

6 specific instances of expulsions of demons

3 raised from the dead

Most of the Lord’s miracles, however, are unrecorded (cf. Matthew 14:23; Luke 4:40; Matthew 15:30-31; Matthew 19:1-2; Luke 6:17-19; Mark 1:32-34; and John 21:25, etc.) The purpose of His miracles were to authenticate the Servant as the Son of God (John 15:24; John 20:30-31; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4).


God’s Son Was A Teacher

"And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?" Mark 6:2.


1. "Never man spake like this man" -- John 7:46; Mark 7:5-13.

2. We may go back to the opening chapters of Genesis and read "And the Lord God commanded man, saying..." (Mark 2:16). Thus God became the first instructor and man the first pupil. God instructed man concerning His Will for him.

3. An analysis of the Bible’s account of this first teaching situation reveals at least 3 things to us:

1) That God’s purpose was to maintain the perfect relationship that existed between man and Himself in the creation.

2) That His method was positive and authoritative. There was nothing obscure, indefinite, or uncertain about what God said. It was "The Lord God commanded the man, saying..."

3) That as long as man obeyed, God’s purpose was achieved. It was when man presumed to know more than his teacher that the hitherto happy relationship was dissolved.

4. When man disobeyed God and fell into sin the situation between them was altered. God still loved man and continued to act as his Teacher, but his purpose was no longer to maintain a perfect relationship. It was to restore it.


The early teachers --

God -- The Patriarchs -- Moses

The early centers of learning --

The garden; the family; the kingdom; the synagogue

CHRIST The Master Teacher

His Preparation -- As Mark informs us

His Aim -- He was the Savior; His aim to bring men to God and to prepare them for the kingdom of Heaven.

His Method -- He taught; He cared

He WAS the Way, the Truth, and the Life

CONCLUSION -- Teaching for Eternity

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Verse Comments

The gospel is the good news of the fulfillment of God’s promises. In the OT (Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 52:7; Nahum 1:15) “good news” is connected with the saving intervention of God to help his people.

gospel of Jesus Christ... Jesus may be either the one who proclaims the gospel (euangelion) or the subject matter of the gospel; Mark relates Jesus to the good news in both ways.

Jesus Christ ... The name Iesou is the Greek version of the name Joshua (yehoshua’ or yeshua), a common Jewish name in the first century AD. Christos is the Greek translation of the Hebrew title mashiach, both meaning the “Anointed [One].”

The title “Son of God” points to Jesus’ unique relationship to God. He is a Man (Jesus)—and God’s “Anointed One” (Messiah)—but He is also fully divine. As the Son He depends on and obeys God the Father (cf. Hebrews 5:8).

Son of God... Whether these words are original is debated (see second NIV text note on v. 1).

Verse 2

Mark 1:2 If v. 1 is a free-standing title, the present verse serves to introduce John the Baptist: “Just as it is written … John was there baptizing in the wilderness.” However, if v. 2 is a continuation of v. 1, the phrase indicates that the gospel as a whole is grounded in scripture.

it is written... A conventional formula used for introducing a biblical quotation. The verb gegraptai, meaning “it has been written (and is still in force),” emphasizes that although Scripture was written in the past with reference to past events, it is still valid.

prophet... The term prophete refers to someone God calls, designates, appoints, or commissions for a specified task (usually involving delivery of a message). Later generations continued to interpret these messages, which had been preserved in writing.

This indicates that Jews believed the prophetic oracles possessed a contemporary reference, even if they referred to past events.

I am sending ... Apostolos corresponds to the office of apostle and means “sent one” from God—someone commissioned by Him for His purposes.

who will prepare your way... Mark’s quotation closely resembles Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1. These texts share a set of motifs with the words of Isaiah quoted in v. 3: a divinely sent messenger, a journey (“way”) from one place to another, and someone other than the messenger who will undertake that journey. Isaiah 40:3.

will prepare ... The verb kataskeuasei can mean “to make ready,” referring to something that already exists, or “to build.”

your... Likely refers to Jesus, since John the Baptist occupies the role of messenger.

Verse 3

Mark 1:3

Mark 1:3 Mark prefaced this composite quotation from three Old Testament books with the words: It is written in Isaiah the prophet. This illustrates a common practice by New Testament authors in quoting several passages with a unifying theme. The common theme here is the “wilderness” (desert) tradition in Israel’s history. Since Mark was introducing the ministry of John the Baptist in the desert, he cited Isaiah as the source because the Isaiah passage refers to “a voice … calling” in the desert.

the wilderness ..The word eremo describes an uncultivated or unpopulated region. In the Bible, the term often refers to the arid expanses south and east of Jerusalem.

make straight his paths!’ The cry of a herald who runs in advance of a king announcing his imminent arrival. In Isaiah 40:3, the crier’s identity is anonymous. However, Isaiah 40:9 identifies the crier as Zion, who acts as this “herald of good news.”

The metaphor refers to straightening out the curves in a road and filling in the low spots, valleys, for the soon arrival and visit of a king, etc. Much like today when a foreign dignitary visits the route of his procession is cleaned up and white washed, etc.

way of the Lord ... In Isaiah, this phrase literally refers to a highway meant to facilitate God’s procession across the wilderness to Mount Zion. Preparation therefore involves road construction. However, since the whole description is a poetic metaphor for the restoration of Jerusalem and its people, the “way of the Lord” conveys multiple meanings.

make straight his paths... Isaiah 40:3 reads “the paths of our God.” Mark applies the quote to Jesus by changing it to “his paths,” understanding His activity as a manifestation of God’s own power and will.

Verse 4

Mark 1:4

baptizing... Elsewhere, Mark refers to John as “the baptizer” (Mark 6:14, Mark 6:24) or “the Baptist” ( Mark 6:25; Mark 8:28), indicating that immersion in water was the most distinguishing feature of his ministry.

baptism... In ancient Israel, the term baptisma —referring to immersion in water— was a technique of purification. It is prescribed in the books of Exodus 29:4 and Leviticus 14:8, but other mentions exist in 2 Kings 5:14 the Book of Judith (10:3), and the Book of Sirach (34:30).

John’s baptism was not primarily concerned with ritual purity, since those who responded to his call came to the Jordan to confess their sins. Jews at this time related baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sin together.

John’s baptism was for the same purpose as Christian baptism (Acs 2.38) with two differences: 1) Christian baptism in the name of Jesus; and 2) for believers in Jesus’ resurrection. John’s baptims looked forward to the cross --{cross} <-- and Christian baptism looks back to it.

“Repentance” (metanoia) occurs in Mark only here. It means “a turn about, a deliberate change of mind resulting in a change of direction in thought and behavior” (cf. Matthew 3:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:9).

Verse 5

Mark 1:5

The country people AND the city people went out to hear Jesus.

1:5 All of Judea: John the Baptist created a lot of interest. It was generally believed that there had been no prophet for over 400 years,

1:5. Using hyperbole (cf. also vv. Mark 1:32-33, Mark 1:37), Mark showed the great impact John made on all areas of Judea and Jerusalem.

Confessing their sins ... Daniel 9:20; Leviticus 5:5; Psalms 32:5

Jordan River ...The Jordan was significant for the Jewish people of the time because it served as the border Israel crossed into the promised land. It does not seem to have been important for ritual washings, except in the case of Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:10, 12).

Verse 6

Mark 1:6

John preached repentance like the ancient prophets, and he dressed like the great prophet Elijah (Mark 1:6), who was predicted to return in the last days (Malachi 4:5).

1:6 camel’s hair and a belt made of leather Aligns John with Elijah, “a hairy man, with a leather belt around his waist” (2 Kings 1:8). Zechariah 13:4

ate locusts and wild honey The biblical text does not specify that Elijah ate these things, only that he was sustained by what God made available to him in the wilderness (1 Kings 17:2-7).

locusts and wild honey Locusts are a common food in the Middle East. Leviticus 11:20-23 identifies four varieties that are clean and good to eat. Bees were not considered clean, but honey was permitted for consumption.

Verse 7

Mark 1:7

John preached:

1. The preminence of Christ - v.7

2. The power of Christ - v.7

3. The promise of Christ - v.8

1:7 Someone is coming: John knew that he was preparing for the Messiah’s coming, but he did not yet know that Jesus was he (cp. Luke 7:18-23).

One who is more powerful than I ..The phrase literally means “the one stronger than I.”

sandals … not worthy to … untie. Servants traditionally untied their master’s sandals. At the time, students were expected to do for their teacher whatever a slave would do - except take off his shoes. John, who as a prophet is God’s servant alone, claims he is unworthy of even this lowly service for the one he announces (cf. Luke 17:10).

Verse 8

Mark 1:8

I baptize -- . John seems to indicate that his work is inferior to that One (Jesus) who will come.

I baptize is literally “I baptized,” probably indicating that John was addressing those he had already baptized. His baptism with (or “in”) “water” was limited and preparatory..

water ... Holy Spirit ... The events on Pentecost (Acts 2) combines and begins the fulfillment of this.

Jesus’ “baptism” may metaphorically allude to everything Jesus will do (e.g., healings, exorcisms, miraculous feedings, etc.) through the working of God’s Spirit.

The baptism with the Spirit represents the fulfillment of God’s promises in the OT (see Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 11:18-19; Joel 2:28).

When used in connection with water, the word “baptize” normally indicated a literal immersion (cf. Mark 1:9-10). When used with the words Holy Spirit it metaphorically means coming under the Spirit’s holy power.

Verse 9

Mark 1:9

Verse 10

Mark 1:10

"Straightway" and "immediately" are used more than 40 times in Mark’s Gospel and characteristic of him.

Verse 14

Mark 1:14

John preached about the "Coming Kingdom of God" see Matthew 3:2

Verse 15

Mark 1:15

repent ... Lit. = "to come to have another mind."

Verse 21

Mark 1:21

What do you want with us ... This is literally "what to us and to you." In A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of Mark Bratcher and Nida note that "In classical Greek the phrase would mean ’what have we in common?’ Here, however, it corresponds to the Hebrew ’Why do you meddle with me’" (p. 49). This idiom is illustrated in Judges 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10; 2 Samuel 19:22; 1 Kings 17:18; 2 Chronicles 35:12.

Verse 22

Mark 1:22

Mark repeatedly speaks of the impact, the awe, and astonishment that Jesus made on the mind and heart of those who heard him. cf. Mark 1:22; Mark 1:27; Mark 4:41; Mark 6:51; Mark 10:24, Mark 10:26, etc.

Verse 40

Mark 1:40

leper came to Him ... Jesus working as a priest - Lev. 13, 14; Luke 17; Leviticus 13:2; Leviticus 14:2; Luke 17:14

Verse 44

Mark 1:44

cf Leviticus chapters 13 and 14 Luke 17:14

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Mark 1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. 2021.