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Mark - Introduction

      The Second Gospel was written by Mark, the kinsman of Barnabas, and the companion of Paul in his first missionary journey. When and where it was written is uncertain. Of its author the following facts are gathered from the New Testament: He is first named in Acts 12:12 . His mother's name was Mary, and we learn from Col. 4:10 , that she was a sister of Barnabas. She dwelt in Jerusalem, and this city was probably Mark's early home. He was converted by Peter ( 1 Peter 5:13 ), it has been supposed, at the great ingathering on the day of Pentecost. He became a minister ( Acts 12:25 ), attended Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey did not prove satisfactory to Paul ( Acts 15:38 ), and as Barnabas insisted on taking him, he and Paul parted company on the second missionary journey. That Paul and Mark were afterwards intimate is shown by the subsequent history. We find him by Paul's side during his first imprisonment at Rome, A. D. 61-63; and he is acknowledged by him as one of his few fellow-laborers who had been a "comfort" to him during the weary hours of his imprisonment ( Colossians 4:10 Colossians 4:11 Philemon 24 ). We next have traces of him in 1 Peter 5:13 . "The church that is in Babylon . . . saluteth you, and so doth Marcus, my son". From this we infer that he joined the spiritual father, the friend of his mother, at Babylon, then and for some hundred years afterwards returned one of the chief seats of Jewish culture. From Babylon he would seem to have returned to Asia Minor; for during his second imprisonment, A. D. 68, Paul, writing to Timothy, charges him to bring Mark with him to Rome, on the ground that he was "profitable unto him for the ministry" ( 2 Tim. 4:11 ). From this point we gain no further information from the New Testament respecting the Evangelist. It is most probable, however, that he did join the Apostle at Rome, whither also Peter would seem to have proceeded, and suffered martyrdom along with Paul. After the death of these two great pillars of the Church, ecclesiastical tradition affirms that Mark visited Egypt, founded the Church of Alexandria, and died by martyrdom. This tradition is, however, very uncertain.

      Tradition affirms that Mark wrote for the benefit of Gentile Christians, and this view is confirmed by the fact that he often explains Jewish customs, where Matthew, writing for Jews, omits the explanation as if well understood. In the comments on Mark references will be found to the parallel passages in Matthew, where full explanatory notes will be found.

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