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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible


- Mark

by Daniel Whedon


JOHN, surnamed MARK, (by the addition, according to custom, of a Gentile to a Jewish name,) was son of Mary, a pious woman at Jerusalem, at whose house the first Christians sometimes assembled. He was converted to the Christian faith by St. Peter. He was nephew to Barnabas, He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their visit to the Gentiles, (Acts 12:25,) but he left them at Pamphylia and returned to Jerusalem. On account of this retreat St. Paul thought not good to take him on the next journey, which caused a variance between him and Mark’s uncle, Barnabas. They separated, and Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus. Mark recovered the confidence of Paul and was his fellow-prisoner at Rome. He was also with St. Peter at Babylon. (1 Peter 5:13.) Tradition says he preached the Gospel in Egypt, and the Coptic or Egyptian Church at this day claims him as its founder. He remained at Egypt, and died, it is said, in the eighth year of Nero, A.D. 61 or 62.

Mark’s Gospel is brief, but is not a mere abridgement of either of the other Gospels. It omits much, but what it relates is sometimes given more fully than by any other evangelist. His frequent explanations of Jewish phrases show that he wrote for Gentiles. It is said that he wrote by dictation of St. Peter. But Mark writes with the minuteness, freshness, and circumstantial ease of an independent eye-witness.

Mark being a resident at Jerusalem, at the house of his Christian mother, during our Saviour’s life, probably had opportunity for a full acquaintance with all the facts of our Saviour’s history. I am of the decided opinion that he was himself the young man described by himself (Mark 14:51) as following Jesus, and narrowly escaping apprehension, as his friend, by the soldiery. (Acts 12:12; Colossians 4:10; Acts 12:25; Acts 13:5-13; Acts 15:37-39; Philippians 1:24; 2Ti 4:11 ; 1 Peter 5:13.)