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by Matthew Poole
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK
That the author of this compendious history of the Gospel was none of the twelve apostles, is evident to any who will read over their names, Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:14-19. That he was one of the seventy, whom Christ sent out afterwards, is said by some, but upon what evidence I cannot tell. That he was a disciple of Christ is out of question. There was one John surnamed Mark, Acts 12:12; some think he was the penman of this Gospel, but others doubt it, the ancients always calling him Mark. We read of a Mark, sister's son to Barnabas, Colossians 4:10; and we read of Mark employed in the ministry, 2 Timothy 4:11. Peter calls one of this name his son, 1 Peter 5:13. Paul calls one of this name his fellow labourer, Philemon 1:24. He who was surnamed Mark (added to John as his praenomen) went along with Barnabas to Cyprus, upon the dissension betwixt Paul and him, Acts 15:39. How many distinct persons are mentioned in Scripture of this name, and which of them was the evangelist, we have not light enough in Scripture to know by, (which yet we should not have wanted had it been material for us to know), and writers give an uncertain sound concerning this evangelist. Some would have him to be one, some another. Some have thought this Gospel was dictated by Peter to Mark. We are also told, that he wrote this history at Rome, then preached the gospel in Egypt, and was the first bishop of Alexandria, where he was buried, dying in the eighth year of Nero. These are the things which men may believe, or forbear to believe, as they see reason, coming to us only upon the credit of writers who are said, to have wrote what we have of their writings at least three hundred years after Mark's time. Most valuable interpreters agree him to have wrote in Greek, though a native Jew, and well understanding that language. Hierom tells us, that he wrote it at Rome upon Peter's dictating, at the desire of some Christians; but these are great uncertainties, and we want any evidence from Scripture that Peter ever came at Rome, though we know that Paul was carried thither prisoner. His history is much shorter than that of any of the other three evangelists, yet in some particular parts he added very much to Matthew's relations. He seemeth much to have compared notes with Matthew, and hath very few things which Matthew hath not, (though he omits many things which he hath), which hath much shortened our annotations upon this Gospel. Matthew begins his history with the genealogy and birth of our Saviour. Luke begins his with some things that preceded the birth of John the Baptist, and of our Saviour. Mark begins with the preaching of John the Baptist. The Divine authority of this book never came in question, nor can come, unless Matthew and Luke be questioned also, for he hath very little that is not in one of them. That is what we are most especially to attend unto, for from thence it followeth, that what he wrote is the object of our faith, and the rule of our life, as to things practicable by us.
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20