LIKE THE OTHER THREE GOSPELS, Mark records the arrival of the long-promised Messiah, the Son of God, to inaugurate the kingdom of God in power. Consistent with the tradition received by Papias (Bishop of Hierapolis), this gospel seems particularly close to the oral proclamation of the good news by the apostles in the decades after Pentecost. Mark indicates from the outset that the news he has to tell fulfills God's ancient promises by introducing John's role as forerunner of the Lord with quotations from Old Testament prophecy. The four Gospels function for the remainder of the New Testament similarly to the way the books of Moses function in relation to the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures. They narrate the inauguration of the new covenant through the work of Christ, the covenant mediator, laying the redemptive-historical foundation for the doctrinal and ethical instruction to follow in the epistles.
1. Mark's primary purpose is to present in writing the witness of the apostles to the facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Mark does not intend to write a full biography, or even a complete account of Jesus' public ministry. The historical record is simplified, conforming to the basic structure of gospel proclamation: the beginning of Jesus' ministry with John the Baptist, Jesus' public ministry in Galilee and the surrounding regions, and His final journey to Jerusalem for the sacrifice of the cross. Matthew and Luke record more of Jesus' teaching than Mark, but Mark's goal is to present an enlarged account of what the apostles preached about the cross of Christ.
2. Mark depicts Jesus as the true Israelite whose whole life demonstrates the necessity of submitting to the written Word of God. In this, as more generally in service and in suffering, Jesus is presented and presents Himself as the model for His disciples.
3. Mark presents the divinity of Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man shining through the ambiguous state of humiliation necessary for His earthly messianic calling. Mark also calls attention to Jesus' desire to hide His true identity as Messiah and Son of God (the so-called "messianic secret", from those who will inevitably misinterpret it.
4. Mark emphasizes the importance of the preaching and teaching of the gospel message, not just as theological truth but as the "power of God" over evil and sickness.
5. Mark shows Jesus' interest in the Gentiles and the validity of the church's mission to the Gentiles. This emphasis appears in the basic outline of the book, the care taken to explain Jewish terms and customs, the declaration that the temple is a "house of prayer for all the nations", and the final confession of Christ from the mouth of a Gentile.
- The Reformation Study Bible
Published by Ligonier Ministries, Sanford FL
Permission to quote granted by Ligonier Ministries