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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Mark, John


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Townson conjectures that the young man introduced as fleeing and leaving his linen robe, fear overcoming shame (Mark 16:51-52), was Mark himself, on the ground that otherwise we see no reason for its introduction, being unconnected with the context. If the young man was the writer, awakened out of sleep by the noise near his house of men proceeding to seize the Savior, then going forth hastily in a linen cloth only, and being an eye witness of Jesus' apprehension and suspected of being His follower, though not so then but afterward, he would look back on this as the most interesting circumstance of his life; though, like John, in humility he describes without mentioning himself by name. (See LAZARUS.) Mark was son of Mary, residing at Jerusalem, and was cousin (not "sister's son'," Colossians 4:10) of Barnabas. The relationship accounts for Barnabas' choice of Mark as his companion; also for the house of Mark's mother being the resort of Christians, Barnabas a leader among them attracting others there.

The family belonged to Cyprus (Acts 4:36; Acts 13:4; Acts 13:13); so Barnabas chose Cyprus as the first station on their journey. Mark readily accompanied him as "minister" (hufretes , "subordinate") to the country of his kindred; but had not the spiritual strength to overcome his Jewish prejudices which he probably imbibed from his spiritual father Peter (Galatians 2:11-14), so as to accompany Paul the apostle of the Gentiles further than Perga of Pamphylia, in his first missionary tour to the pagan. Mark returned to Mary his mother at Jerusalem; he ought to have remembered Jesus' words (Matthew 10:37). Paul therefore (because "he went not with them to the work," for his accompanying them to his native Cyprus was his own pleasure rather than zeal for pure missionary "work") rejected him on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:37-39). This caused a temporary alienation between Paul and Barnabas. The latter (realizing his name, "son of consolation") took Mark again to Cyprus, like a tender father in Christ bearing with the younger disciple's infirmity, until by grace he should become stronger in faith; also influenced by the He of relationship.

Christian love healed the breach, for in Colossians 4:10 Paul implies his restored confidence in Mark ("touching whom ye received commandments, if he come unto you receive him ... my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God which have been a comfort unto me"). The Colossians, 110 miles distant from Perga, 20 from Pisidia, knew of Mark's past unfaithfulness, and so needed the recommendation to "receive" him as a true evangelist, ignoring the past. So in Philemon 1:11-24, he calls Mark "my fellow laborer." Mark was two years later again in Colossae when Paul tells Timothy, then in Asia Minor (2 Timothy 4:11), "take Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry." A contrast: Demas, once Paul's" fellow laborer," fails away; Mark returns to the right way, and is no longer unprofitable, but "profitable (even to an apostle) for the ministry." By his Latin knowledge he was especially likely to be "profitable" in preaching at Rome where Paul then was when he desired Timothy to "bring Mark."

He was Peter's "son" by conversion (probably converted in meeting the apostle in his mother's house at Jerusalem), and was with his spiritual father when 1 Peter 5:13 was written; his connection with Peter, by an undesigned coincidence which marks genuineness, appears in Acts 12:12. After Paul's death Mark joined Peter with whom he had been before associated in the writing of the Gospel. (See PETER.) Mark was with Paul intending to go to Asia Minor, A.D. 61-63 (Colossians 4:10). In 2 Timothy 4:11, A.D. 67, Mark was near Ephesus, from whence he was about to be taken by Timothy to Rome. It is not likely Peter would have trenched on Paul's field of labour, the churches of Asia Minor, during Paul's lifetime. At his death Mark joined his old father in the faith, Peter, at Babylon. Silvanus or Silas had been substituted for Mark as Paul's companion because of Mark's temporary unfaithfulness; but Mark, now restored, is associated with Silvanus (2 Timothy 4:12), Paul's companion, in Peter's esteem, as Mark was already reinstated in Paul's esteem.

Naturally Mark salutes the Asiatic churches with whom he had been already under Paul spiritually connected. The tradition (Clemens Alex. in Eusebius' H. E. 6:14, Clem. Alex. Hyp. 6) that Mark was Peter's companion at Rome arose from misunderstanding "Babylon" (1 Peter 5:13) to be Rome. A friendly salutation is not the place where an enigmatically prophetical title would be used (Revelation 17:5). Babylon was the center from which the Asiatic dispersion whom Peter (1 Peter 1:1-2) addresses was derived. Alexandria was the final scene of Mark's labors, bishopric, and martyrdom (Nicephorus, H. E. 2:43).


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Mark, John'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/m/mark-john.html. 1949.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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