Easton's Bible Dictionary
the evangelist; "John whose surname was Mark" ( Acts
12:25 ). Mark (Marcus, Colossians
4:10 , etc.) was his Roman name, which gradually came to supersede his Jewish
name John. He is called John in Acts
13:13 , and Mark
in 15:39 , 2
Timothy 4:11 , etc.
He was the son of Mary, a woman apparently of some means and influence, and was
probably born in Jerusalem, where his mother resided ( Acts
12:12 ). Of his father we know nothing. He was cousin of Barnabas ( Colossians
4:10 ). It was in his mother's house that Peter found "many gathered together
praying" when he was released from prison; and it is probable that it was here
that he was converted by Peter, who calls him his "son" ( 1
Peter 5:13 ). It is probable that the "young man" spoken of in Mark
14:51 , 52
was Mark himself. He is first mentioned in Acts
12:25 . He went with Paul and Barnabas on their first journey (about A.D.
47) as their "minister," but from some cause turned back when they reached Perga
in Pamphylia ( Acts
12:25 ; 13:13
). Three years afterwards a "sharp contention" arose between Paul and Barnabas
15:36 - 40
), because Paul would not take Mark with him. He, however, was evidently at length
reconciled to the apostle, for he was with him in his first imprisonment at Rome
4:10 ; Philemon
1:24 ). At a later period he was with Peter in Babylon ( 1
Peter 5:13 ), then, and for some centuries afterwards, one of the chief seats
of Jewish learning; and he was with Timothy in Ephesus when Paul wrote him during
his second imprisonment ( 2
Timothy 4:11 ). He then disappears from view.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
polite; shining (same as Marcus)
Smith's Bible Dictionary
One of the evangelists, and probable author of the Gospel
(Note: The Book of Mark --BIBLEing.com) bearing his name. (Marcus was his Latin
surname. His Jewish name was John, which is the same as Johanan (the grace of
God). We can almost trace the steps whereby the former became his prevalent name
in the Church. "John, whose surname was Mark" in ( Acts 12:12 , 12:25 ; 15:37
) becomes "John" alone in ( Acts 13:5 , 13:13 ) "Mark" in ( Acts 15:39 ) and thenceforward
there is no change. ( Colossians 4:10 ); Philemon 1:24 ; 2 Timothy 4:11.
The evangelist was the son of a certain Mary, a Jewish matron of some position
who dwelt in Jerusalem, ( Acts 12:12 ) and was probably born of a Hellenistic
family in that city. Of his father we know nothing; but we do know that the future
evangelist was cousin of Barnabas of Cyprus, the great friend of St. Paul. His
mother would seem to have been intimately acquainted with St. Peter, and it was
to her house, as to a familiar home, that the apostle repaired, A.D. 44, after
his deliverance from prison ( Acts 12:12 ). This fact accounts for St. Marks intimate
acquaintance with that apostle, to whom also he probably owed his conversion,
for St. Peter calls him his son. ( 1 Peter 5:13 )
We hear Of him for the first time in Acts 15:25 where we find him accompanying
and Barnabas on their return from Jerusalem to Antioch, A.D. 45. He next comes
before us on the occasion of the earliest missionary journey of the same apostles,
A.D. 48, when he joined them as their "minister." ( Acts 13:8 ) With them he visited
Cyprus; but at Perga in Pamphylia, ( Acts 13:13 ) when they were about to enter
upon the more arduous part of their mission, he left them, and, for some unexplained
reason, returned to Jerusalem to his mother and his home. Notwithstanding this,
we find him at Paul's side during that apostles first imprisonment at Rome, A.D.
61-63, and he is acknowledged by him as one of his few fellow laborers who had
been a "comfort" to him during the weary hours of his imprisonment. ( Colossians
4:10 , 4:11 ); Philemon 1:24.
We next have traces of him in ( 1 Peter 5:13 ) "The church that is in Babylon
... saluteth you, and so doth Marcus my son." From this we infer that he joined
his spiritual father, the great friend of his mother, at Babylon, then and for
same hundred years afterward one of the chief seats of Jewish culture. From Babylon
he would seem to have returned to Asia Minor; for during his second imprisonment
A.D. 68 St. Paul, writing to Timothy charges him to bring Mark with him to me,
on the ground that he was "profitable to him For the ministry." ( 2 Timothy 4:11
From this point we gain no further information from the New Testament respecting
the evangelist. It is most probable, however that he did join the apostle at Rome
whither also St. Peter would seem to have proceeded, and suffered martyrdom with
St. Paul. After the death of these two great pillars of the Church; ecclesiastical
tradition affirms that St. Mark visited Egypt, founded the church of Alexandria,
and died by martyrdom.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
mark, John (Ioannes) represents his Jewish, Mark (Markos)
his Roman name. Why the latter was assumed we do not know. mark, John (Ioannes)
represents his Jewish, Mark (Markos) his Roman name. Why the latter was assumed
we do not know.
1. Name and Family:
Perhaps the aorist participle in Acts 12:25 may be intended to intimate that it
dated from the time when, in company with Barnabas and Saul, he turned to service
in the great Gentilecity of Antioch. Possibly it was the badge of Roman citizenship,
as in the case of Paul. The standing of the family would be quite consistent with
such a supposition.
His mother's name was Mary (Acts 12:12). The home is spoken of as hers. The father
was probably dead. The description of the house (with its large room and porch)
and the mention of the Greek slave, suggest a family of wealth. They were probably
among the many zealous Jews who, having become rich in the great world outside,
retired to Jerusalem, the center of their nation and faith. Mark was "cousin"
to Barnabas of Cyprus (Colossians 4:10) who also seems to have been a man of means
(Acts 4:36). Possibly Cyprus was also Mark's former home.
2. His History as Known from the New Testament:
When first mentioned, Mark and his mother are already Christians (44 AD). He had
been converted through Peter's personal influence (1 Peter 5:13) and had already
won a large place in the esteem of the brethren, as is shown by his being chosen
to accompany Barnabas and Saul to Antioch, a little later. The home was a resort
for Christians, so that Mark had every opportunity to become acquainted with other
leaders such as James and John, and James the brother of the Lord. It was perhaps
from the latter James that he learned the incident of Mark 3:21 which Peter would
be less likely to mention.
His kinship with Barnabas, knowledge of Christian history and teaching, and proved
efficiency account for his being taken along on the first missionary journey as
"minister" (huperetes) to Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:5). Just what that term implies
is not clear. Chase (HDB) conjectures the meaning to be that he had been huperetes,
"attendant" or chazzan in the synagogue (compare Luke 4:20), and was known as
such an official. Wright (English translation, February, 1910) suggests that he
was to render in newly founded churches a teaching service similar to that of
the synagogue chazzan. Hackett thought that the kai of this verse implies that
he was to be doing the same kind of work as Barnabas and Saul and so to be their
"helper" in preaching and teaching. The more common view has been (Meyer, Swete,
et al.) that he was to perform "personal service not evangelistic," "official
service but not of the menial kind"--to be a sort of business agent. The view
that he was to be a teacher, a catechist for converts, seems to fit best all the
Why did he turn back from the work (Acts 13:13)? Not because of homesickness,
or anxiety for his mother's safety, or home duties, or the desire to rejoin Peter,
or fear of the perils incident to the journey, but rather because he objected
to the offer of salvation to the Gentiles on condition of faith alone. There are
hints that Mark's family, like Paul's, were Hebrews of the Hebrews, and it is
not without significance that in both verses (Acts 13:5 , 13) he is given only
his Hebrew name. The terms of Paul's remonstrance are very strong (Acts 15:38),
and we know that nothing stirred Paul's feelings more deeply than this very question.
The explanation of it all may be found in what happened at Paphos when the Roman
Sergius Paulus became a believer. At that time Paul (the change of name is here
noted by Luke) stepped to the front, and henceforth, with the exception of 15:12
, 25 , where naturally enough the old order is maintained, Luke speaks of Paul
and Barnabas, not Barnabas and Saul. We must remember that, at that time, Paul
stood almost alone in his conviction. Barnabas, even later than that, had misgivings
(Galatians 2:13). Perhaps, too, Mark was less able than Barnabas himself to see
the latter take second place.
We hear nothing further of Mark until the beginning of the second missionary journey
2 years later, when Paul's unwillingness to take him with them led to the rupture
between Paul and Barnabas and to the mission of Barnabas and Mark to Cyprus (Acts
15:39). He is here called Mark, and in that quiet way Luke may indicate his own
conviction that Mark's mind had changed on the great question, as indeed his willingness
to accompany Paul might suggest. He had learned from the discussions in the council
at Jerusalem and from subsequent events at Antioch.
About 11 years elapse before we hear of him again (Colossians 4:10 ; Philemon
1:24). He is at Rome with Paul. The breach is healed. He is now one of the faithful
few among Jewish Christians who stand by Paul. He is Paul's honored "fellowworker"
and a great "comfort" to him.
The Colossian passage may imply a contemplated visit by Mark to Asia Minor. It
may be that it was carried out, that he met Peter and went with him to Babylon.
In 1 Peter 5:13 the apostle sends Mark's greeting along with that of the church
in Babylon. Thence Mark returns to Asia Minor, and in 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul asks
Timothy, who is at Ephesus, to come to him, pick up Mark by the way, and bring
him along. In that connection Paul pays Mark his final tribute; he is "useful
for ministering" (euchrestos eis diakonian), so useful that his ministry is a
joy to the veteran's heart.
3. His History as Known from Other Sources:
The most important and reliable tradition is that he was the close attendant and
interpreter of Peter, and has given us in the Gospel that bears his name account
of Peter's teaching. For that comradeship the New Testament facts furnish a basis,
and the gaps in the New Testament history leave plenty of room. An examination
of the tradition will be found in MARK,
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO (which see).
Other traditions add but little that is reliable. It is said that Mark had been
a priest, and that after becoming a Christian he amputated a finger to disqualify
himself for that service. Hence, the nickname kolobo-daktulos, which, however,
is sometimes otherwise explained. He is represented as having remained in Cyprus
until after the death of Barnabas (who was living in 57 AD according to 1 Corinthians
9:5 f) and then to have gone to Alexandria, founded the church there, become its
first bishop and there died (or was marthyred) in the 8th year of Nero (62-63).
They add that in 815 AD Venetian soldiers stole his remains from Alexandria and
placed them under the church of Mark at Venice.
Chase, HDB, III, 245; Rae, DCG, II, 119; Harnack, Encyclopedia Brit; Zahn, Introduction
to the New Testament, II, 427-56; Lindsay, Salmond, Morison and Swete in their
J. H. Farmer
author of the book (gospel) of mark, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, cousin of barnabas, define, disagreement with apostle paul, evangelist, john, mark, markos