The Gospel of Mark: The Roman Gospel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, December 8, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

Although other Gospels might be more popular (John for its relatability, Matthew for its practical teachings, and Luke for its beauty), Mark is a wonderful Gospel for those who like stories that get right to the point. Before discussing why, let us first talk about its author.

Its author is known as Mark and some have speculated that it might be John Mark. If it is John Mark, he may have spent a significant amount of time at Peter's side. However, his most noteworthy work was done when he traveled with the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. This last point is particularly significant because Mark was the reason that Paul and Barnabas argued and broke from each other's company. Later, it seems as though he was reconciled to them.

Many people think that Mark's gospel may have been the first to be written. It is the shortest of the gospels, the most direct, and some speculate that it was not complete. In most modern translations, after chapter 16 verse 8, there is a note saying that the oldest manuscripts do not contain the last couple of verses. There are scholars who would suggest that Mark did not write an account of Jesus appearing to his disciples. Instead, this gospel leaves the reader at the empty tomb of Jesus after the angel had announced his resurrection and the women being confused and terrified at what they had just experienced. I think this is an acceptable ending, but what some scholars try to do is to say that no eyewitnesses really saw Jesus and that the other gospels just made that part up. Personally, I believe that Matthew is the first gospel, rendering all debate concerning this point irrelevant.

Being the Christmas season, you might recognize that Mark does not include an account of Jesus' birth at the beginning of his Gospel. Instead he starts with John the Baptist’s message, followed by the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

You see, Mark was written to a Roman audience who were not so concerned about prophecy or details. They were interested in action and power. Mark is jam-packed with miracles and everything Jesus does is “immediate.” This is what would have caught the attention of the Roman world. That is also why it was the shortest of the Gospels. It does not point out much fulfillment of prophecy or lengthy teachings. It is Jesus, full go at work.

Which, by the way, Mark probably did write an account of Jesus appearing to his disciples. To me, the most reasonable explanation for this is that the early parchment copies probably wore out toward the end of the document and was destroyed. It’s hard for us to comprehend this with our modern ways of binding multi-paged documents (we call them books) and having the ability to print countless copies of documents. What I do know is one translation of the Bible ran into this problem with the ancient document it was drawing from and a significant portion of Revelation was missing. As a result, the translators had to draw from other sources to finish this version of the Bible.

Bottom line: Mark is a great gospel for beginners because it is short, exciting, and straight to the point. It does not bog its reader down with long portions of teachings, but keeps the pace rolling with lots of miraculous works that are performed by the all-powerful Son of God, Jesus.

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