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Books of the New Testament

St. Mark's Gospel

The following notes are intended to supplement, not replace, the readings from the Bible and the text book.
Comments or questions should be sent to: Dr. Rollinson.

Mark's Gospel

Mark's Gospel was probably the first of the Gospels to be written; it is usually dated to between AD 55 and AD 70 - before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. The author is generally accepted as John Mark, the young colleague of Peter, who was with Peter in Rome, and who probably wrote the Gospel while in Rome, for a Roman readership. John Mark may have been the young man who fled naked from the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was betrayed (Mark 14:51-52) - he may have stayed awake, watching Jesus while the disciples slept, and so would have been a witness to the prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane (Mark 14:35-39)
Mark's family lived in Jerusalem, where they were one of the centers for gatherings of the early Church (Acts 12:11-12). Mark was a cousin of Barnabas, and when Paul and Barnabas started out on their first missionary journey, Mark accompanied them for a short while, but soon returned to Jerusalem (Acts 12:25 - 13:13). On a subsequent mission, Barnabas wanted to let Mark accompany them again, but Paul disagreed; consequently Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus, while Paul and Silas journeyed through what is now Turkey (Acts 15:36-41). However, when Paul was in prison in Rome, at the end of his life, he was reconciled to Mark, and asked Timothy to bring Mark to Rome (II Timothy 4:11, Colossians 4:10).

Structure of Mark's Gospel

  • Mark 1:1-13 - the start of Jesus' ministry
  • Mark 1:14-8:26 - Jesus in Galilee and the north
  • Mark 8:27-9:1 - Jesus revealed as the Christ
  • Mark 9:2-13 - the Transfiguration of Jesus
  • Mark 9:14-10:52 - Jesus travels towards Jerusalem
  • Mark, chapters 11-16 - Jesus in Jerusalem
    • Mark, chapter 11 - Jesus enters Jerusalem and cleanses the Temple
    • Mark, chapter 12 - Jesus teaches in the Temple
    • Mark, chapter 13 - "The Little Apocalypse"
    • Mark 14:1-16 - preparation for the Last Supper. Judas decides to betray Jesus
    • Mark 14:17-26 - the Last Supper
    • Mark 14:27-42 - Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
    • Mark 14:43-52 - the betrayal of Jesus
    • Mark 14:53-72 - the "Trial" of Jesus
    • Mark 15:1-15 - Jesus before Pilate
    • Mark 15:16-47 - the Crucifixion
  • Mark, chapter 17 - the Resurrection


Mark 1:3 - see Isaiah 40:3
Mark 1:32 - the sick people waited until the sun had set, when the Sabbath was reckoned to be over. Healing was counted as work by strict Jews, and so could not be done on the Sabbath
Mark 1:44 - see Leviticus 13:49 & 14:2-32
Mark 2:23-24 - it was lawful to pick and eat grain on other days, but not on the Sabbath - see Deuteronomy 23:25
Mark 2:25-27 - see I Samuel 21:1-6
Mark 3:6 - the Herodians were those who played politics and kept in with king Herod - they were not at all religious, so one would not expect the Pharisees to join up with them
Mark 3:22 - "Beelzebul", "Beelzebub", or "Baalzebub" - the term came originally from the name of one of the gods worshipped by the Philistines; Baal or Bel mean Lord in Semitic languages. We no longer know the original form of the name, which would have meant "Lord of . . ." because the Hebrews changed it slightly, so that it became "Lord of flies" (Baal-zebub) or "Lord of dung" (Baal-zebul). Jews used it as a name for the devil.
Mark 3:28-30 - the "sin against the Holy Spirit", sometimes referred to as " the unforgivable sin" often has people worried as to whether they may have committed it. These verses show that the sin involved telling others that Jesus was in league with the devil. If people are worried and fearful about committing " the unforgivable sin", it is very unlikely that they have done so - its essence seems to be an absolute denial of God, and crediting the good things of God to the working of the devil, without any remorse or conscience.
Mark 4:11-12 - see Isaiah 6:9 - those who wanted to stay and ask, learned the deeper meaning of Jesus' teaching. Those who just wanted to hear a story, without thinking about it or asking what it meant, were at liberty to go away without facing up to the deeper meaning.
Mark 5:8-10 - "Legion" was not the name of the man, but the name which the demons used for themselves, because there were a lot of them. "Legion" implied a thousand.
Mark 6:11 - see Genesis 18:20-19:28
Mark 6:15 - "Elias" is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Elijah, one of the greatest of the Old Testament prophets (I Kings, chapters 17-19; II Kings, chapters 1-2)
Mark 7:2-4 - that Mark explains about the Jewish law shows that this Gospel was written for Gentiles rather than for Jews
Mark 7:6 - see Isaiah 29:13
Mark 7:10 - see Exodus 20:12 & 21:17, Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 5:6,
Mark 9:4 - Elijah (Elias) was generally regarded as the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Similarly, Moses was regarded as the "giver of the Law", and the one whom God had used to bring the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, to their own land of Israel.
Mark 9:5 - "tabernacles" or "booths" - it was about the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Jews made shelters of tree branches to live in, in remembrance of the time they lived in the desert after God brought them out of Egypt (see Leviticus 23:39-43)
Mark 9:11 - see Malachi 4:5-6
Mark 9:12-13 - Jesus was referring to John the Baptist - see Matthew 17:11-13
Mark 10:6-9 - see Genesis 2:18-25
Mark 10:19 - see Exodus 20:1-17
Mark 10:25 - the "eye of the needle" was a small side entrance at the side of a main gate into a city
Mark 11:9-10 - "Hosanna" is a Hebrew word, meaning "please save" - see Psalm 118:25-26
Mark 11:11 - Bethany is only a couple of miles from Jerusalem, just over the Mount of Olives from the Temple. It still is a tiny village.
Mark 11:20 - fig trees are normally very drought-resistant, and do not just dry up. It may be that Jesus was using this event to teach his disciples about prayer and faith.
Mark 12:10-11 - see Psalm 118:22-23
Mark 12:19 - see Deuteronomy 25:5
Mark 12:26 - see Exodus 3:6
Mark 12:29-30 - see Deuteronomy 6:4
Mark 12:31 - see Leviticus 19:18
Mark 12:36 - see Psalm 110:1
Mark 13:14 - see Daniel 11:31 & 12:11 - the "Abomination of Desolation" refers to something which desecrates the Temple - this happened in 167 BC, when Antiochus Epiphanes set up a statue of the Greek god Zeus, and again in AD 70, when the Romans destroyed the Temple
Mark 14:1 - see Exodus, chapter 12
Mark 14:27 - see Zechariah 13:7
Mark 14:51-52 - the young man may have been the only person to see and hear Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, so it is generally believed that it is his witness which is recorded in the Gospels
Mark 15:28 - see Isaiah 53:12
Mark 15:34 - see Psalm 22:1
Mark 16:7 - see Mark 14:28

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Dr. Rollinson

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