Sermon preparation : DEC03
John Mark as the author:
During the church’s early days in Jerusalem ( ca. a.d. 33-47) Mark no doubt became familiar with Peter’s preaching. Later he went to Antioch and accompanied Paul and Barnabas (Mark’s cousin; cf. Col. 4:10 ), as far as Perga on their first missionary journey ( cf. Acts 12:25 ; 13:5 , 13 ; ca. a.d. 48-49). For an unstated reason he returned home to Jerusalem. Because of this desertion Paul refused to take him on his second journey. Instead Mark served with Barnabas on the island of Cyprus ( cf. Acts 15:36-39 ; ca. a.d. 50=?). Sometime later, perhaps by a.d. 57, he went to Rome. He was a fellow worker with Paul during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment ( cf. Col. 4:10 ; Phile. 23-24 ; ca. a.d. 60-62). After Paul’s release Mark apparently remained in Rome and served with Peter on his arrival in “Babylon,” Peter’s code word for Rome ( cf. 1 Peter 5:13 ; ca. a.d. 63-64). (Some, however, take Babylon to refer to the city on the Euphrates River; cf. comments on 1 Peter 5:13 .) Probably because of severe persecution under Emperor Nero and Peter’s martyrdom, Mark left Rome for a time. Finally Paul, during his second imprisonment in Rome (a.d. 67-68), requested Timothy who was in Ephesus to pick up Mark who was presumably somewhere in Asia Minor and bring him to Rome because Paul considered him useful in his ministry ( cf. 2 Tim. 4:11 ).
Nero was emperor of Rome AD 54-68. In AD 64, Nero made great strides to eliminate every Christian in his empire, especially at Rome. The Roman historian Tacitus records:
On July, 19th, 64 CE, a fire started in Rome and burned for nine days, finally destroying or damaging almost three-quarters of the city, including numerous public buildings. Rumors spread that the fire had been planned by Nero. And according to Tacitus, to put an end to such rumors, Nero created a diversion by torturing and executing Christians.
|"Therefore, to put an end to the rumor Nero created a diversion and subjected to the most extra-ordinary tortures those hated for their abominations by the common people called Christians. The originator of this name (was) Christ, who, during the reign of Tiberius had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontinus Pilate. Repressed for the time being, the deadly superstition broke out again not only in Judea, the original source of the evil, but also in the city (Rome), where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and become popular. So an arrest was made of all who confessed; then on the basis of their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of arson as for hatred of the human race." (Tacitus, Annales, 15, 44)|
|"Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames. These served to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open the gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or drove about in a chariot. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and examplary punishment there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but glut one man's cruelty, that they were being punished."|
Notice the difference between a Christian and a non-believer. The Christian will submit even to death, and does not desire evil upon anyone. The non-believer will degrade under the control of Satan and demons to the destruction of others.
Each writer of the 4 Gospels used the following for their selection of material, as they were led by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of that Gospel.
Mark wrote to the Roman about the suffering Servant, for those who were under tremendous suffering in Rome, under the persecution of Nero. How did our Savior handle rejection by family, rejection by religion of the day, verbal abuse, slander?
Why parables? To give instruction about the Kingdom of God to those who are in the kingdom, and to hide any knowledge of the Kingdom of God to those not in the kingdom. His kingly rule was then veiled, a mystery, recognized only by people of faith ( 4:11-12 )
Remember when you read any book,
- it stands on its own merit. Do not refer to the other Gospels for enlightenment.
- interpret/translate by Context, context, context.
- Read, re-read, re-read
- Ask the Holy Spirit for illumination.
ca. circa , about
cf. confer , compare
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures . Victor Books: Wheaton, IL