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Bible Commentaries

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

- Mark

by James Martin Gray


As Matthew wrote for the Jew, so Mark wrote for the Gentiles. In illustration of this we find that with a single exception at the beginning of his Gospel, Mark practically omits all reference to the Old Testament prophets. This shows that he is addressing a people to whom such references were not necessary as in the other case, even if they would have been intelligible. In other words, the Gentiles knew nothing of the sacred Scriptures, and were not expecting the Messiah of whom they spake. Carrying the thought further, Mark omits the genealogical table of Matthew, since it is not necessary for him to prove to Gentiles that Jesus descended from Abraham through David. More careful examination shows that all the omissions in Mark’s Gospel are of an especially Jewish character. It will be seen too, that Mark explains Jewish words and customs which would be left unnoticed if he were addressing Jews (Mark 5:41 ; Mark 7:1-4 , etc.).

There were two great Gentile peoples of that day the Romans and the Greeks, and Mark is addressing the first-named. The Romans represented the idea of active power in the world, and their ideal was military glory. They were the people who did things. Their highest conception of power and authority was themselves, i.e., the Roman state, which they worshipped in the person of its emperor. Their spiritual need as a people grew out of this fact, for they were failing to attain their ideal in the state. With all their power and authority, injustice, cruelty and suffering, still prevailed, and would continue to do so.

Mark’s Gospel fits into this condition of things. It sets forth Jesus as the active Servant of Jehovah. It is marked by energy, power, movement, particularly attractive to the Romans. It is the briefest Gospel, containing but sixteen chapters in comparison with the twenty-eight in Matthew, showing it to be intended for a people of action rather than meditation. The discourses of Jesus are omitted, rather than His deeds; for example, the Sermon on the Mount, the charge to the disciples, the message on His second coming. And then, too, the things which Mark records as distinguished from Matthew, are those calculated to arouse the attention of men of affairs and action. In this connection note the frequent employment of the words “straightway” and “immediately,” which are the same words in the original, and occur not less than forty times.

Speaking of Jesus as the Servant of Jehovah, remember that he was so announced by the Old Testament prophets. (See Isaiah 42:1 ; Isaiah 43:10 ; Isaiah 49:6 . See also Zechariah 3:8 , Mark 10:45 ; Philippians 2:7 .) It is not our idea to follow this thought closely in commenting on the Gospel, but it may be interesting to give the following outline of it from that point of view, in Gaebelein’s Analysis of Mark:

Part 1. The Servant: Who He Is and How He Came (1:1-13) Part 2. The Servant’s Work: Not to be Ministered Unto, but to Minister (1:14-10:52) Part 3. The Servant in Jerusalem: Presented as King and Rejected. (chaps. 11-13) Part 4. The Servant Giving His life a Ransom for Many (chaps. 14-15:47) Part 5. The Servant Highly Exalted: Risen and Ascended; His Commission to His Servants (chap. 16)


1. Give four reasons for believing that Mark wrote for the Gentiles.

2. Describe the Romans and their spiritual need.

3. Give three reasons for believing that Mark wrote for the Romans.

4. From what point of view does Mark present Jesus?

5. Give Gaebelein’s outline of Mark.

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