Who was Saint Mark the Apostle? What Led to His Gospel in the Bible?

Who was Saint Mark the Apostle? What Led to His Gospel in the Bible?

Saint Mark the Apostle

In the dispersion of the apostles for propagating the gospel is different parts of the world, after our Lord’s ascension into heaven, Saint Mark was by Peter sent into Egypt, where he soon planted a church in Alexandria, the metropolis; and such was his success, that he converted great multitudes of people, both men and women, to the Christian religion.

St. Mark did not confine himself to Alexandria and the Oriental parts of Egypt, but removed westward to Lybia, passing through the countries of Marmarcia, Pentapolis, and others adjacent, where, though the people were both barbarous in their manners and idolatrous in their worship, yet by his preaching and miracles he prevailed on them to embrace the tenets of the gospel; nor did he leave them till he had confirmed them in the faith.

Saint Mark in Alexandria

After this long tour he returned to Alexandria, where he preached with the greatest freedom, ordered and disposed of the affairs of the church, and wisely provided for a succession by constituting governors and pastors of it. But the restless enemy of the souls of men would not suffer our apostle to continue in peace and quietness; for while he was assiduously laboring in the vineyard of his Master, the idolatrous inhabitants, about the time of Easter, when they were celebrating the solemnities of Serapis, tumultuously seized him, and, binding his feet with cords, dragged him through the streets and over the most craggy places to the Bucelus, a precipice near the sea, leaving him there in a lonesome prison for that night; but his great and beloved Master appeared to him in a vision, comforting and encouraging him under the ruins of his shattered body.

The Martyrdom of Saint Mark

Early the next morning the tragedy began afresh; and they dragged him about in the same cruel and barbarous manner till he expired. But their malice did not end with his death, for they burned his mangles body after they had so inhumanly deprived it of life; but the Christians gathered up his bones and ashes, and decently interred them near the place where he used to preach. His remains were afterward, with great pomp, removed from Alexandria to Venice, where they were religiously honored, and he was adopted the titular saint and patron of that state.

He suffered martyrdom on the 25th of April, but the year is not absolutely known; the most probably opinion is that it happened about the end of the reign of Nero.

The Gospel of Mark

His Gospel, the only writing he left behind him, was written at the entreaty and earnest desire of the converts at Rome, who, not content with having heard St. Peter preach, pressed St. Mark, his disciple, to commit to writing an historical account of what he had delivered to them, which he performed with equal faithfulness and approved by St. Peter, it was commanded to be publicly read in the assemblies. It was frequently styled St. Peter’s gospel, not because he dictated it to St. Mark, but because the latter composed it from the accounts St. Peter usually delivered in his discourse to the people. And this is probably the reason of what St. Chrysostom observes, that in his style and manner of expression he delights to imitate St. Peter, representing a great deal in a few words.

(Resources: This story is adapted from John Kitto's 1870 History of the Bible  and represents the commonly accepted views about this apostle among rank and file believers in the late 19th century.)

What Themes Stand Out in the Gospel of Mark?

A characteristic term which occurs with great frequency in Mark's Gospel is the Greek word Eutheos, which is variously translated "straight away, immediately" etc. Notice a few of the occurrences of this word in the first chapter alone: "And straight away coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him" (v. 10). "And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness" (v. 12). "And when He had gone a little further, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets, And straight away He called them" (vv. 19,20). "And they went into Capernaum; and straight away on the sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught" (v. 21). "And immediately when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon" (v. 29). "And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her" (v. 31). "And He straight away charged him, and immediately sent him away" (v. 43).

In all, this word is found no less than forty times in Mark’s Gospel. It is a most suggestive and expressive term, bringing out the perfections of God’s Servant by showing us how He served. There was no tardiness about Christ’s service, but "straight away" He was ever about His "Father’s business." There was no delay, but "immediately" He performed the work given Him to do. This word tells of the promptitude of His service and the urgency of His mission. There was no holding back, no reluctance, no slackness, but a blessed "immediateness" about all His work. We should all learn from this perfect example which He has left us.

(Adapted from Why Four Gospels?, 2. The Gospel of Mark, by A.W. Pink.)

Click Here to read the New Testament Guide to the Gospel of Mark by Thomas Klock.

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