The Book of Mark
James J. Barker

Lesson 1


Text: MARK 1:1-8


1.     Mark 14:51, 52 says, “And there followed him (Jesus) a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.”

2.     This “certain young man” was probably Mark, the author of the second Gospel.

3.     His full name was John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37), and he was a cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10).

4.     “John” was a Hebrew name, and “Mark” (“Marcus”) was a Latin name.  In the book of Acts, Mark is identified twice as “John.” 

5.     Acts 13:5 says, “And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.”

6.     Acts 13:13 says, “Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.”

7.     In Acts 15:39, he is referred to as Mark, where it says, “And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus.”

8.     In the epistles, he is always referred to as either Mark or Marcus (Col. 4:10; Philemon 24; II Tim. 4:11; I Peter 5:13).

9.     Peter referred to Mark as his “son,” indicating Mark may have been saved under Peter’s ministry (cf. I Peter 5:13).

10. Mark was the son of a widow, whose spacious home in Jerusalem was a meeting place for believers during the early days of the church.

11. When and how Mark was saved is not known.  The influence of his Christian mother and his contacts with the early Christians who met in his home were probably instrumental in his conversion.

12. He was obviously very close to his cousin Barnabas, as well as the apostle Peter, a frequent visitor in his home. In Acts 12:14 we read that Rhoda, the servant girl, “knew Peter’s voice,” indicating that Peter was a frequent guest.

13. When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from Jerusalem, they took Mark with them (Acts 12:25). Apparently Mark remained in Antioch until Paul set out on his first missionary journey, and Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:5). 

14. For some reason, Mark left the missionary group at Perga, and returned home to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13).   Paul felt Mark was wrong to leave the trip prematurely and disagreed with Barnabas’ suggestion that Mark accompany them on their second missionary journey.

15. This disagreement resulted in the separation of Paul and Barnabas.  Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; while Paul took Silas and went to Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:36-41).

16. Eventually Mark had regained Paul’s confidence and was working with him again.   Not long before his death, Paul wrote these words to Timothy, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee; he is profitable to me for the ministry” (II Tim. 4:11).

17. The Scofield Bible estimates that the Gospel of Mark was written between 57 and 63 AD.  Some scholars believe it was the first Gospel written.

18. It is the shortest of the four Gospels.

19. It is a fast, action-packed book.   The words “straightaway” and “immediately” occur more 40 times.

20. J Vernon McGee says the connective word “and” appears 1,331 times.

21. Much of Mark’s Gospel deals with the events leading up to our Lord’s crucifixion and the actual crucifixion itself.

22. After declaring that Jesus Christ  is the Son of God (1:1), Mark (like Matthew, Luke and John) introduces the ministry of John the Baptist (1:2-8).







1.     Isaiah 40:3 says, “The voice of him (John the Baptist) that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD (Jehovah), make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

2.     Malachi 3:1 says, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me.”

3.     The messenger John prepared the way for is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is referred to by Isaiah and Malachi as both Jehovah and God.



1.     “Crying in the wilderness” (1:3) indicates vigorous preaching.

2.     John the Baptist preached “repentance for the remission of sins” (1:4).

3.     Repentance is a voluntary change of mind, whereby the sinner turns from his sin and turns to Christ.  This change of mind must lead to a change in direction. The sinner was against God – at enmity with God – the wrath of God was abiding on him.  But now he has repented!  Now he has changed sides.  Now he loves God and hates sin.  Now he agrees with God.

4.     First Thessalonians 1:9 says, “ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”

5.     Repentance and faith are inseparable.  Acts 20:21 says, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

6.     Repentance and faith are inseparable.  A.C. Dixon said, “In repentance you think of the sin you hate; in faith you think of the Christ you love.”

7.     Repentance is inseparable from conversion.  Second Peter 3:9 says, the Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 

8.     Repentance is inseparable from salvation.  Our Lord said in Luke 13:3, and 5, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

9.     All the great preachers of both the OT and the NT preached repentance, and it has been that way ever since.

10. Repentance has three aspects:

(1)  There is an intellectual element – there has to be a change of mind.  Luke 15:17 says the prodigal son “came to himself,” and he said, “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”

(2)  Repentance also has an emotional element – there has to be a change of feeling.  By this I mean genuine sorrow for sin, recognizing that sin is hateful to God.  Too many people are like the little girl who prayed: “Oh Lord, make me good – not real good, but just good enough so that my daddy won’t spank me.”  True repentance does not think of the consequences, does not care what other people may do or say, and does not make excuses for sin.

(3)  In addition to the intellectual element, and the emotional element, repentance also has a voluntary element – there has to be a change of purpose.  This is what John the Baptist meant when he said, “Bring therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8).

11. John preached “the baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4). This baptism is for repentant sinners after they are converted.  It is always by immersion.  The word “baptize” is transliterated from the Greek baptizo, which means “to dip, submerge, plunge under, or immerse.”  No one in the Bible was ever sprinkled.

12. John the Baptist was not John the Sprinkler or John the Pourer.  The Bible says he baptized in the river “because there was much water there” (John 3:23). 

13. The proper mode of baptism is clearly seen right here in Mark 1:10.  Have you been Scripturally baptized?



1.     Mark 1:7 is simple enough to understand.  John the Baptist was a humble man.  He said in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

2.     And that is the way it was.  John burst on the scene in the “spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17).  But soon Herod had John’s head chopped off.

3.     However, while Mark 1:7 is easy enough to understand there has considerable debate over Mark 1:8.  The baptism “with the Holy Ghost” took place on the Day of Pentecost, just as our Lord said it would (cf. Acts 1:4-8).

4.     Is this baptism for today?  Not exactly like it was on Pentecost.

5.     A man once told the great preacher H.A. Ironside that he had just come from what he called a “tarrying meeting.”  The man said, “Hundreds have been tarrying for days in San Jose, California waiting for the Holy Ghost.”  Ironside asked the man, “Tell me, what authority do you have for that?”  The man replied, “Why, Jesus said: `Tarry in Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.’”  “Well, my friend,” said Ironside, “are you not confounding locations and time?  You are over 10,000 miles too far away and over 1,800 years too late!”

6.     Part of the problem is terminology. Some preachers (such as RA Torrey) have used the word “baptism of the Holy Spirit” when they meant, “the fullness of the Holy Spirit.”

7.     Ephesians 5:18 says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”  We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but this is not the same thing as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.



1.     In the apostle Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, he deals with a situation where the church was splitting into various factions or cliques.

2.     “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (I Cor. 3:4).

3.     Later on in this epistle, Paul says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13).

4.     The point is all believers share the reality of being baptized by the same Holy Spirit.  We are united in Christ. We are all part of the body of Christ.

5.     Ephesians 1:13 says, “after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”  In other words this takes place the moment a person receives Jesus Christ as his Saviour.  When we got saved we were regenerated by the Holy Spirit, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and baptized by the Holy Spirit.

6.     Every believer has been baptized by the Holy Spirit, but only once, and that took place at conversion.

7.     We may need to be filled with the Holy Spirit many times, but the Bible nowhere teaches that the baptism by the Holy Spirit is to be repeated.

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