We see the essence of Mark’s Gospel in a single verse: “For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (10:45). Chapter after chapter, the book unfolds the dual focus of Christ’s life: service and sacrifice.
Mark portrays Jesus as a Servant on the move, instantly responsive to the will of His Father. Preaching, teaching, and healing, Jesus is seen ministering to the needs of others even to the point of death. After the resurrection, we see Him commissioning His followers to continue His work in His power—servants following in the steps of the perfect Servant.
The ancient title for this Gospel was Kata Markon, “According to Mark.” Acts 12:12, 25 refer to the author as “John whose surname was Mark.”
Little is known about Mark. At one time he associated with the apostle Paul and his partner-in-missions, Barnabas, and accompanied them on a missionary journey to Antioch. While Mark was not one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, tradition says he was very close to Peter, and that he based his Gospel account largely on Peter’s teaching and recollections. Some ancient writers refer to Mark’s Gospel as “The Gospel of Peter.”
Because he never quotes the Jewish law, Mark appears to have written for first-century Greek and Roman Christians. Mark quotes the Old Testament only twice, the first time to announce the coming of John the Baptist as predicted in Isaiah 40:3. He often translates Aramaic words and phrases into Greek.
Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels. Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark makes no reference to the genealogy of Jesus, nor to the virgin birth. He also leaves out the famous “Sermon on the Mount,” which Matthew covers in three chapters. His book moves at a quick pace and he has a fondness for the word “immediately.”
Theme: Jesus Christ, the dedicated servant of God and of humankind, is the Savior of the world.
Author: John Mark.
Time: Mark is generally considered the earliest of the Gospels, likely composed in the A.D. 50s or early 60s.
Structure: The first part of Mark describes the years leading up to Jesus’ public ministry, focusing on John the Baptist (1:1–13). The book then focuses on Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (1:14–6:29), followed by ministry outside of Galilee (6:30–9:32), and a final effort back inside Galilee (9:33–50). Mark next describes Jesus’ work in Judea and Perea (10:1–52), the events leading up to His arrest, crucifixion, and burial (11:1–15:47), and His resurrection (16:1–20).
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), Mk.