Chapter 7 of John Mark’s Remarkable Career—His Likely and Momentous Authorship of the Gospel of Mark
The unanimous testimony of the early church is that the Gospel of Mark was written by John Mark. The earliest testimony to this comes from two well-known Christians of the second century.
The first is a man named Papias. His testimony likely comes from around the years 110-120. He said:
Mark, the interpreter of Peter, wrote down carefully what he remembered, both the sayings and the deeds of the Christ, but not in chronological order, for he did not hear the Lord nor did he accompany him. At a later time, however, he did accompany Peter, who adapted his instructions to the needs, but not with the object of making a connected series of discourses of our Lord. So, Mark made no mistake in writing the individual discourses in the order in which he recalled them. His one concern was not to omit a single thing he had heard or to leave any untruth in this account.
The second significant testimony comes from the early church father, Irenaeus. Writing around 180, he said:
Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.
The best and the necessary conclusion with regard to the authorship of the Gospel of Mark is summarized in the words of another scholar:
Though the author does not directly identify himself, there is still strong evidence to attribute the Gospel to John Mark. In addition to Markan composition, church fathers also state that Mark was the interpreter of Peter, which would give reason to believe that he wrote his Gospel under the guidance or assistance of the apostle … the title “According to Mark” (KATA MARKON) is found in the earliest manuscripts. [https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/mark.cfm]
John Mark—that John Mark who abandoned Christ and deserted Barnabas and Saul and was the source of the scandal of the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas—that John Mark was so restored in Christ’s church that by the grace of Christ he rose to be one of the four evangelists who penned inspired chronicles of the life of Christ!
We learn that because of Christ people of smaller talents and lesser grace can still hold useful places of service in the kingdom of God! John Mark was surrounded throughout his life by giants. Barnabas, Paul, and Peter—such giant Christians no doubt constantly reminded him of how meager and small his own talent was. He no doubt would have called himself a one-talent man as he compared himself to such greats! But he did not make this a reason to bury his talent. He kept on. He kept plodding. He kept serving God. And one day he became the penman of one of the four gospels! What hope and consolation and encouragement this should give to the rest of us. We also see ourselves as people of small gift, but God may also make us eminently useful like John Mark if we will be faithful to use the gift we have been given.
We learn that because of Christ you can still be greatly useful in spite of your messing up in the past! Not only did John Mark see himself as possessing very meager gifts, he surely also saw himself as having royally messed up in his past. And it was true. There was no denying it. Yet, despite this, Mark became greatly useful! You must not allow your view of yourself be ruled by your past messes, but by Christ’s present graces!
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.