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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Mark

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16

Book Overview - Mark

by Arno Clemens Gaebelein

THE GOSPEL OF MARK

Introduction

The Gospel of Mark is the briefest of the four Gospels. The traditional view, which holds that the Apostle Peter dictated this record into the pen of Mark, so that he was only an amanuensis, has been proven erroneous. Equally incorrect are other theories, that the Gospel of Mark was written first and served Matthew and Luke in giving their account, copying from it and making additions, or, the hypothesis that there was an original record, a common source, which the Evangelists used. All these opinions are mostly the inventions of men who disbelieve the inspiration of the chosen instruments of God in giving a fourfold picture of His blessed Son on earth. An unswerving faith in the inspiration of the four Evangelists solves all the supposed difficulties and discrepancies of which we hear so much in our days. Inspiration makes error impossible.

Mark was not an Apostle. Two Apostles were chosen to write Gospel records, Matthew and John. The other two, Mark and Luke, did not belong to the twelve. Mark’s and John’s Gospels give us the chronological account, while Matthew and Luke were led under the guidance of the Holy Spirit not to pen the events chronologically, but to arrange them in such a way as to bring out the distinctive features of their respective Gospels.

While Matthew describes the Lord Jesus Christ as the King, Luke as the Son of Man in His perfection, John as the true God and the eternal life, Mark was chosen to write the account of our Lord as the obedient Servant. It was announced by the Prophets that He would appear as a servant. Isaiah beheld Him as the Servant of God. Through Zechariah the Spirit of God announced, “Behold, I will bring forth my Servant, the Branch” (Zechariah 3:8). And after He had been on earth in the form of a servant, the Holy Spirit in the Epistle to the Philippians tells us again that He who ever existed in the form of God “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Mark, himself a servant, was graciously called to give a pen picture of this blessed Servant and to record His toil, His service of love and patience, as well as His mighty works. All which does not stand in definite relation to our Lord as the Servant is carefully omitted, and many other things omitted by the other Evangelists are added, to describe the manner and perfection of the Servant’s work.

The purpose of the Gospel of Mark must never be lost sight of in studying it. Well may we call it the neglected Gospel, for it is the least studied. God gave it that we His redeemed people might as His servants have a pattern in our service. One thing, however, is absolutely necessary in the intelligent and spiritual study of Mark and that is a constant comparison with the Gospel of Matthew. Such a comparison will bring out the beauties of the record given by Mark and shows the divine power which guided infallibly these men of God.

We have therefore given in the analysis the parallel passages from the Gospel of Matthew and from the Gospel of Luke. The analysis contains many hints and annotations, which will help in a closer study. At the close of the analyzed Gospel the reader will find several articles on the personality of Mark, the characteristic features of this Gospel and other information, which, we hope, will prove of help to all students of this part of God’s Holy Word.

THE ANALYSIS OF THE GOSPEL OF MARK

“For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45.

Part I. The Servant; who He is and how He came. Chapter 1:1-13.

Part II. The Servant’s work; not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Chapter 1.14-10:52.

Part III. The Servant in Jerusalem. Presented as King and rejected. Chapter 11-13.

Part IV. Giving His Life a ransom for many. Chapter 14-15:47.

Part V. The Servant Highly exalted. Risen and Ascended; His commission to His servants and working with them. Chapter 16.

Mark the Writer of this Gospel

Were we to give even the gist of theories on the Gospel of Mark and how it was written, we would have to fill many pages. That is needless and even unprofitable. The chosen instrument to write this Gospel in which the Lord Jesus Christ is so beautifully pictured as the Servant of God on earth, was not an Apostle, but himself a servant. We find his name mentioned for the first time in Acts 12:12-25. His full name was John Mark and his mother’s name Mary. In Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13 he is called by the first name John, while in Acts 15:39 we read of him as Mark. He accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey as a helper. We read nowhere that he addressed a single gathering. When they reached Perga he left the Apostles and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). The reason of this abrupt departure was failure on Mark’s side. He did not want to work and had become unprofitable (Acts 15:38, compare with 2 Timothy 4:11). On account of his failure Paul and Barnabas had a falling out and separated from each other. Paul refused him as a companion on the second journey, but Barnabas wanted to take him again (Acts 15:37-40). He went with Barnabas to Cyprus (Acts 15:39). The Holy Spirit has nothing to report of this journey. A period of unprofitableness followed for John Mark till he was restored to service. That such was the case we learn from Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11. He had become Paul’s fellow laborer. This personal history of John Mark is of blessed encouragement. He who had such an humble place as a servant of the two mighty men of God and who even failed in that, when restored became the divinely chosen and inspired instrument to pen the perfect Servant’s path down here. Have we failed as servants? Let us go and tell Him all about it. He will have better service for us.

Tradition linked him with Peter and makes him a Bishop in Alexandria. There is no truth in it. All we know is that he was led to Christ by the Apostle Peter and was with him in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13).

THE CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF MARK.

[We can heartily recommend “The Gospel of Mark” by W. Kelly. The excellent notes and hints by the editor of this volume, Mr. Whitefield, make the book still more valuable. Also A. Jukes on the four Gospels. We acknowledge our indebtedness to both.]

A careful study of the preceding analysis and comparison with the other Gospel records will bring out the characteristic features of this Gospel. Many events recorded in Matthew, Luke and John are omitted in Mark because they have no bearing upon the Servant’s work. We find not a word about a genealogy, nor is there any reference to Bethlehem, David’s city. The Lord is called but once the son of David in Mark’s Gospel. Nor do we find a word about His childhood spent in Nazareth and the details of His temptations in the wilderness. The sermon on the mount so fully reported in Matthew is altogether omitted, because He spoke it as the king, proclaiming the principles of the kingdom. Many of the parables are omitted by Mark, for instance, five of those which appear in Matthew 13:1-58; also a number of others found in Matthew, notably those of Matthew 25:1-46, and the description of the judgment of the nations, when He comes again. The lengthy woes pronounced upon the religious leaders of the nation (Matthew 23:1-39) are likewise nearly all absent. All these omissions are the evidences of the verbal inspiration of this Gospel and if closely studied will show the divine wisdom. The word “Lord” as applying to Him is carefully omitted by Mark. Textual investigation has shown that “Lord” in Mark 9:24 does not belong there. But in the Resurrection chapter He is called “Lord.” In a number of passages in the analysis attention has been called to additions, sentences, verses and sections not found in other Gospels. Many have not been mentioned, but the most prominent are pointed out. These additions reveal the quality of His service and give us descriptions of His moral Glory. We ask our readers to look up once more the following passages and compare them with the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 1:13; Matt. 1:31, compare Luke 4:39; Luke 3:5 compare Matthew 12:13; Mark 3:34 compare Matthew 12:47 and Luke 8:21; Luke 4:33; Luke 6:31 compare Matthew 14:15; Mark 4:36; Mark 8:33 compare Matthew 16:23; Matthew 9:36 compare Matthew 18:2; Matthew 8:23; Matthew 8:33; Matthew 9:27 compare with Matthew 17:18; Matthew 10:16 compare Matthew 19:13; Matthew 19:15; Matthew 10:21; Matthew 10:23 compare Matthew 19:21-23; Matthew 16:7 compare Matthew 28:7, et cetera.

The parable in Mark 4:26-27 is found only in Mark. Then there are two miracles which are exclusively reported by Mark. They are characteristic of true ministry. These are the deaf man in Mark 7:32-37 and the blind man at Bethsaida, Mark 8:22-26.

The characteristic word of the Gospel of Mark is the word “straightway.” The Greek word has also been translated “forthwith” and “immediately.” It occurs some 40 times in this little Gospel and is the Servant’s word.

“But enough. Blessed be God that such service has been seen on earth; that there has been such a hand, such an eye, and such a heart here, among the sons of men. And blessed be God, that by the same Spirit He waits to mould us to His pattern, yea, that He has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His beloved Son. And if the Head was content to serve thus;--if, while He tarried here, He lived to meet the need of all who sought succor;--if, now risen, He Is yet the same, still the loving Worker, interceding within the veil, and working here too for us;--if He shall yet serve us, ‘for the less is blessed of the greater,’ when in the coming kingdom He shall still lead His flock to living fountains, and wipe away their tears;--shall not we whom He has purchased, in whom He seeks to dwell, who are His witnesses in a world which knows Him not, wait upon Him until His mantle fall on us, and His Spirit, ‘the oil which was upon the Head,’ run down even to us also; till we catch the mind of heaven, and are made like unto the angels, children of God and children of resurrection, called to stand in the presence of God, and yet to serve, as ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation? God is serving,--’the Father worketh,’--Oh! what works of love, from the rain and fruitful seasons up to the mighty work of raising man from earth to highest heaven; and Christ has served, and is serving; and the Holy Ghost is serving, taking of the things of Christ, to reveal them to us, and then to work them in us; and angels are serving, and saints are serving, and the Church proclaims her call, that she too because redeemed must be a servant here, and that her rulers are but servants, yea, servants of servants; and heaven is serving earth, and earth the creatures on it, So let us, after our Pattern, being redeemed, go forth to serve also. ‘Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find so doing. Verily, He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and He will come forth and serve them.’ O Lord, Thou canst perform it; perform it to Thy praise; Oh! shew us the glory of Thy service, full of grace and truth, that in its presence we may be changed; and as we have borne the image of the earthy, may even here bear to Thy glory the image of the heavenly. Amen.” (A. Jukes)

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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