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Bible Commentaries

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

- Mark

by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Gospel According to Saint Mark


Though Mark, as the author of the second gospel is called, was not himself an apostle, he was the pupil and companion of two great apostles, Peter and Paul. He was a Jew by birth, Colossians 4:10, and his Jewish name was John, which means "God is gracious. " His surname, which he adopted when he became a Christian, was Mark, which means "Mallet," Acts 12:12-25; Acts 13:5-13; Acts 15:37. He was the son of a woman of Jerusalem who later became a prominent member of the congregation in that city. Her name was Mary, Acts 12:12-17. It was she who offered her house, at the first critical period in the history of the young congregation, for devotional meetings. It was to her house that Peter went upon his miraculous deliverance from prison, Acts 12:12-17. It is very probable, from Gospel history, that Mark had had an acquaintance with Jesus even before the great Passion. Many commentators think that he is identical with the young man who, according to his own report, left the linen cloth with which he was clothed on the night of Christ's capture and fled naked from Gethsemane, Mark 14:51. Mark was especially intimate with Peter, by whom he had been converted, if the usual manner of speaking of this event has been followed in this case, 1 Peter 5:13; Acts 12:12. His intimacy with Barnabas is explained by the fact that he was his cousin, Colossians 4:10. Through Barnabas he came into closer contact with Paul, and he accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey as an attendant or assistant. At that time, however, he was not yet firmly established in Christian fortitude, for he left them at Perga, in Pamphylia, and returned to Jerusalem, much to the displeasure of Paul, Acts 13:5-13. For this reason Paul refused to take him on the next journey, while Barnabas was willing to overlook the temporary weakness, Acts 15:38. There was a sharp contention over the matter at the time, with the result that Paul and Barnabas parted company, Barnabas taking Mark with him to Cyprus, while Paul chose Silas, Acts 15:36-40. But the estrangement was only temporary, for about ten years afterwards Mark was in Rome as one of Paul's fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God and a comfort in his imprisonment, Colossians 4:10-11; Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11. But Mark also assisted Peter in his work, both in Babylon, 1 Peter 5:13, and in Rome, Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:10-21. This is all that the New Testament records of him. From fairly reliable tradition it appears that he afterwards founded the church at Alexandria, in Egypt, where he is supposed to have died as a martyr. In 827 his relics were removed to Venice, where a magnificent church was built in his honor, a worthy monument to the present day.

Even the casual reader of the Gospel of Mark is apt to notice the fact that it was undoubtedly written for Roman Christians that used the Latin language. Quotations from the Old Testament are relatively few, Mark 1:2-3; Mark 7:6-10; Mark 11:17; Mark 12:19; Mark 14:27, especially as compared with Matthew; Aramaic words and expressions are usually translated, Mark 3:17; Mark 5:41; Mark 7:11-34; Mark 10:46; Mark 14:36; Mark 15:22-34; Jewish customs are explained, Mark 7:2-5; Mark 12:42; Mark 14:12; Mark 15:42; there is a frequent use of Latin expressions, like "legion," "centurion," "quadrans," and others.

Mark wrote as the "interpreter" of Peter, as the historian Eusebius has it; it is authentic information concerning Gospel history, which he wrote down accurately. He was the literary editor and publisher of the oral Gospel which he had heard so often out of the mouth of his teacher. The influence of Peter is evident throughout the book in the mention of significant details. We are told that Peter's house was that of Simon and Andrew, Mark 1:29; these two brothers are mentioned at the beginning of Christ's public ministry, Mark 1:16; expressions peculiar to Peter occur, Mark 16:7-19 (See 1 Peter 3:1-22:; he gives the most detailed account of Peter's denial; Mark 14:54-72.

The purpose of Mark's Gospel, as he himself states, is to show the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Mark 1:1. This Gospel owed its power and wonderful success to the personality of Jesus Christ, who, by His deeds, His miracles, proved Himself the Son of God with power, Mark 3:11; Mark 5:7; Mark 15:39, and brought the kingdom of God, Mark 1:14; Mark 9:1; Mark 10:15-25; Mark 12:34. The miracles of Christ are therefore emphasized, the doctrinal discourses being given in brief form only. The distinctive features of the Gospel according to Mark are its pithy, yet comprehensive style, with vivid flashes of portrayal; his characteristic "immediately" or "straightway," which occurs in the Greek text more than forty times; the rapid shifts or quick changes of scene; the fact that the chronological sequence is fair, but not exact. Of the miracles which he relates two are distinctive of his Gospel, that of the healing of the deaf, Mark 7:31-37, and that of the blind man, whom Jesus healed by slow stages, Mark 8:22-26. A most interesting feature of the Gospel are the retirements of Jesus, during which He prepared Himself for a new stage in His work as Redeemer, Mark 1:12; Mark 3:7; Mark 6:31; Mark 6:46; Mark 7:24; Mark 7:31; Mark 9:2; Mark 11:1; Mark 14:34, principally by devoting Himself to prayer.

The Gospel was probably written at Rome in the last part of the sixties, no reference to the destruction of Jerusalem being made. Whether it was written in the presence and at the suggestion of Peter or not, there can be no doubt as to its authenticity. The unanimous testimony of early Christian history and literature points to Mark as the author. To argue with critics that deny the possibility of miracles and therefore want to doubt the Gospel of Mark, has little value. A Christian knows in faith that miracles are possible, and gives all the more credence to a Gospel account that relates them with all the signs of genuineness. No valid reason has been adduced by any critic to cause us to alter our firm belief that we have, in the Gospel of Mark, the writing of this disciple of the Lord, and therefore the Word of the Lord Himself.

The outline of the book is much like that of Matthew. There is a short introduction concerning the history of John the Baptist. The Messianic work of Christ in Galilee is then given in some detail, with special emphasis upon the miracles. In the last part of the book the Messianic work of the Lord in Judea is spoken of at some length. The book closes with a history of the Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

The Tabellary Harmony of the Gospel-Story

· The prologue of John's gospel. John 1:1-18.

·Preface of Luke's gospel. Luke 1:1-4.

·Birth of John the Baptist promised. Luke 1:5-25.

·The Annunciation to Mary. Luke 1:26-38.

·The Annunciation to Joseph. Matthew 1:18-25.

·Mary's visit to Elizabeth. Luke 1:39-56.

·Birth of John the Baptist. Luke 1:57-80.

·Birth of Jesus the Christ. Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-14.

·The adoration of the shepherds. Luke 2:15-20.

·The circumcision and presentation of Christ. Luke 2:21-39.

·Simeon and Anna. Luke 2:25-40.

·The wise men from the East. Matthew 2:1-12. The flight into Egypt and the return to Nazareth. Matthew 2:13-23.

·Childhood at Nazareth. Matthew 2:23; Luke 2:39-40.

·The twelve-year-old Christ-child in the Temple. Luke 2:41-52.

·The ministry of John the Baptist. Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18.

·The baptism of Jesus. Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22.

·The temptation in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13.

·John's testimony before the priests and Levites. John 1:19-34.

·The first disciples of Jesus. John 1:35-51. The marriage at Cana. John 2:1-11.

·The first cleansing of the Temple. John 2:12-25.

·The discourse with Nicodemus. John 3:1-21.

·John the Baptist's last testimony of Christ. John 3:22-36.

·The departure from Judea and the woman of Samaria. Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; John 4:1-26.

·The Gospel in Sychar. John 4:27-42.

·Imprisonment of John the Baptist and beginning of Christ's Galilean ministry. Matthew 14:3-5; Matthew 4:12-17; Mark 6:17-18; Luke 3:19-20; John 4:43-45.

·The healing of the nobleman's son. John 4:46-54.

·First rejection at Nazareth. Luke 4:16-30.

·Healing of the sick man of Bethesda. John 5:1-18.

·Testimony of Christ concerning Himself. John 5:19-47.

·Removal to Capernaum. Matthew 4:13-16; Luke 4:31.

·The call of the four. Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11.

·A day of miracles in Capernaum. Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:21-34; Luke 4:31-41.

·A preaching tour in Galilee. Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:35-45; Luke 4:42-44; Luke 5:12-16.

·The miraculous draught of fishes. Luke 5:1-11.

·The call of Matthew. Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32.

·The question about fasting. Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39.

·The disciples plucking grain. Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5.

·The man with the withered hand. Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11.

·The wide-spread fame of Jesus. Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 12:15-21; Mark 3:3-12; Luke 6:17-19.

·The choosing of the Twelve. Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-19.

·The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29; Matthew 8:1; Luke 6:20-49.

·The healing of a leper. Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16.

·The centurion's servant. Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10.

·The raising of the widows son at Nain. Luke 7:11-17.

·John the Baptist's last message. Matthew 11:2-19; Luke 7:18-35.

·Anointing of Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee. Luke 7:36-50.

·Christ's companions on His second preaching tour. Luke 8:1-3.

·Warnings to the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew 12:22-45; Mark 3:19 b-30; Luke 11:14-36.

·The true kindred of Jesus. Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21.

·The parables by the sea. Matthew 13:1-53; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-18.

·The stilling of the tempest. Matthew 8:18; Matthew 23:1-39; Matthew 24:1-51; Matthew 25:1-46; Matthew 26:1-75; Matthew 27:1-66; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25.

·The Gadarene demoniacs. Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39.

·The raising of Jairus's daughter. Matthew 9:1; Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56.

·The two blind men and the dumb demoniac. Matthew 9:27-34.

·The third preaching tour continued. Matthew 9:35; Mark 6:6 b.

·The mission of the Twelve. Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6.

·Death of John the Baptist. Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9.

·The feeding of the five thousand. John 6:1-13; Matthew 14:13-23; Mark 6:30-46; Luke 9:10-17.

·Jesus walking on the water. Matthew 14:24-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:14-21.

·Discourse on the Bread of Life. John 6:22-71.

·Discourses on commandments of men. Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23.

·The Syrophoenician woman. Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30.

·Return through Decapolis. Matthew 15:29-31; Mark 7:31-37.

·The feeding of the four thousand. Matthew 15:29-39; Mark 8:1-9.

·The demand for a sign from heaven. Matthew 15:39; Matthew 16:1-12; Mark 8:10-21; Luke 12:54-57.

·The blind man near Bethsaida. Mark 8:22-26.

·Peter's confession. Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21.

·Christ foretells His death and resurrection. Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-38; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:22-27.

·The transfiguration. Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36.

·The demoniac boy. Matthew 17:14-20; Mark 9:14-32; Luke 9:37-43 a.

·Discourse on humility and forgiveness. Matthew 18:1-35; Mark 9:33-50; Luke 9:46-50.

·Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles. John 7:1-52.

·The woman taken in adultery. John 7:53; John 8:1-11.

·Jesus the Light of the World. John 8:12-30.

·Discourse on spiritual freedom. John 8:31-59.

·The final departure from Galilee. Matthew 19:1-2; Matthew 8:19-22; Mark 10:1; Luke 9:51-62.

·The mission of the seventy. Matthew 11:20-30; Luke 10:1-24.

·The good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37.

·The visit to Mary and Martha. Luke 10:38-42.

·Healing of the man born blind. John 9:1-41.

·The Good Shepherd. John 10:1-21.

·Christ at the Feast of Dedication. John 10:22-42.

·Discourse on prayer. Luke 11:1-13.

·Woes against the Pharisees. Luke 11:37-54.

·Warning against the spirit of Pharisaism. Luke 12:1-59.

·The Galileans slain by Pilate. Luke 13:1-9.

·The woman healed on a Sabbath. Luke 13:10-21.

·The question whether few are saved. Luke 13:22-35.

·Discourse at a chief Pharisee's table. Luke 14:1-24.

·On counting the cost. Luke 14:25-35.

·Three parables of grace. Luke 15:1-32.

·Two parables of warning. Luke 16:1-31.

·Concerning forgiveness and faith. Luke 17:1-10.

·The raising of Lazarus. John 11:1-46.

·The withdrawal to Ephraim. John 11:47-54.

·The ten lepers. Luke 17:11-19.

·The coming of the kingdom. Luke 17:20-37; Luke 18:1-8.

·The Pharisee and the publican, Luke 18:9-14.

·Concerning divorce. Matthew 19:1-15; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 18:15-17.

·Christ and the rich young ruler. Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30.

·The laborers in the vineyard. Matthew 20:1-16.

·Christ foretells His crucifixion. Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34.

·Ambition of James and John. Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45.

·The blind men near Jericho. Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43.

·Visit to Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10.

·Parable of the pounds. Luke 19:11-28.

·Anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany. Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 11:55-57; John 12:1-11.

·The triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19.

·The cursing of the fig-tree. Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14

·Second cleansing of the Temple. Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48.

·The fig-tree withered away. Matthew 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-25.

·Christ's authority challenged. Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8.

·Three parables of warning. Matthew 21:28-46; Matthew 22:1-14; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19.

·Three questions by the Jewish rulers. Matthew 25:15-40; Mark 12:13-34; Luke 20:20-40.

·Christ's unanswerable question. Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44.

·The discourse against the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew 23:1-39; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:45-47.

·The widow's two mites. Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4.

·Testimony of Jesus concerning His glorification. John 12:20-50.

·Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. Matthew 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:1-38.

·The ten virgins. Matthew 25:1-13.

·Of the Last Judgment. Matthew 25:31-46.

·The conspiracy against Jesus. Matthew 26:1; Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-6.

·Jesus washing the disciples' feet. John 13:1-20.

·The Passover meal and the institution of the Lord's Supper. Matthew 26:17-36; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-30; John 13:1-30.

·Christ's farewell discourses. Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-38; John 13:31-38; John 14:1-31; John 15:1-27; John 16:1-33.

·The intercessory prayer. John 17:1-26,

·The agony in Gethsemane. Matthew 26:30-46; Mark 14:26-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1.

·The betrayal and arrest. Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-12.

·The trial before the Jewish authorities and the denial of Peter. Matthew 26:57-75; Matthew 27:1-10; Mark 14:53-72; Luke 22:54-71; John 18:12-27.

·The trial before Pilate. Matthew 27:11-31; Mark 15:1-20; Luke 22:1-25; John 18:28-40; John 19:1-16.

·The crucifixion and death of Jesus. Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37.

·The burial of Jesus. Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42

·The watch at the sepulcher. Matthew 27:62-66.

·Easter morning. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 23:56; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18.

·The report of the watch. Matthew 28:11-15.

·The walk to Emmaus. Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35.

·The appearance to the disciples in Jerusalem. Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-31.

·The appearance to seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee. John 21:1-25.

·The appearance to the Eleven on a mountain in Galilee. Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18.

·Christ's final appearance and His ascension from Mount Olivet. Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:44-53.

·The conclusion of John's gospel. John 20:30-31; John 21:25.

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