The Gospel of Mark was written by John Mark (his Hebrew name was Yochanon), who was a companion of Peter and is often named in the book of Acts (12.12, 25; 15.37, 39), and scholars believe the information in this book came with the help of Peter. When Peter was released in Acts 12.17 he went to the home of John Mark’s mother, Mary. It seems he was the cousin of Barnabas in Col 4.10, and went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey in Acts 12.25 and Acts 13.5. John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem, and when Barnabas wanted to take him again with Paul. Paul refused, and friction developed between Paul and Barnabas which led to their estrangement in Acts 15.38.40. Later, John Mark proved himself more mature and Paul listed him as a fellow worker in Philemon 24, and faithful to the end in 2 Tim 4.11. Peter seems to have played a major role in his restoration, a concept Peter knew well.
Ancient tradition names John Mark as the author of this book, although he is unnamed. There are several dates for the writing of the book, ranging from the early 50’s AD to 70 AD. John Mark is writing from a simple, literal level called the “Peshat” which is directed to the common working man. He presents Yeshua as the ‘Servant of Yehovah.” His book is the “short form” of Yeshua’s life as he writes in a mishnaic form and it focuses on the actions of Yeshua more than his teachings as a whole. Yeshua’s lengthy teachings are omitted from this book but he does give “glimpses” into them but not in the “long form” as in other Gospel books.
Mark presents Yeshua in very human terms (4.38, 11.12, 13.22 for instance) and he spends nearly one-third of the book revealing events that happened in Yeshua’s last week. Mark’s audience was comprised of Jews of course, but also non-Jews who were called “God-fearers” and walked in the Torah as it applied. As with all the Scriptures, we will be using the four levels of interpretation called “Pardes”, consisting of the Peshat, or literal level; the Remez or allegorical level; Drash which is the teaching level; and Sowd which is the secret, mystical or hidden level. There is evidence that the four Gospels were written according to these. levels, with Mark being the Peshat level, represented by the “ox” or servant seen in the four faces of the Cherubim in Rev 4.7.
v 1…The beginnings of the gospel (Hebrew basar or “good news) of Yeshua ha Mashiach (Messiah), the son of God (a term for “king”-this is not to say that the basar or gospel began in the first century because it was preached in Eden, to Abraham, to Moses and the generation in the wilderness before Yeshua).
v 2…As it is written in the prophets (Malachi and Isaiah), “Behold, I send my messenger (Yochanon ha Matvil-Mal 3.1; Isa 40.3-Malachi means “my messenger”) before your face, who will prepare your way (Messiah);
v 3…the voice of one crying in the wilderness (Josh 15.61-62 tells us where the wilderness was), ‘Make ready the way of the Lord (Messiah as Yehovah), make his paths (Torah) straight (correct the injustices).’ ”
v 4…John the Immerser (Yochanon ha Matvil) appeared in the wilderness preaching an immersion of repentance (Hebrew “teshuvah” and probably during the time of teshuvah leading up to the High Holy Days of Rosh ha Shanah and Yom Kippur) for the forgiveness of sins (meaning that people should repent/turn from their sins).
v 5…And all the country of Judea was going out to him (meaning “many”), and all the people of Jerusalem (many); and they were being immersed by him in the Jordan (meaning “out of Dan” or “descender”) River, confessing their sins (before Rosh ha Shanah and Yom Kippur).
v 6…And John was clothed with camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist (his garments called attention to his ministry as one who comes in the spirit and power of Elijah-2 Kings 1.8; he was cut out of the same cloth as Elijah but was not Elijah himself-Matt 11.14, 17.11-13), and his diet was locusts (four types of desert locusts were kosher according to the Torah-the red, yellow, spotted and white can be eaten, or this means the karob tree which had pods called the “locust bean”) and wild honey (from bees or the date palm tree).
v 7…And he was preaching and saying, “After me comes one (Messiah) who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie his sandals (he didn’t consider himself worthy enough to do even a servant’s task).
v 8…I immerse you in water (using water was a return to the innocence of Eden because it is the only thing that remains from there due to the water cycle; water was life or “mayim chaim” as we have seen in the rock in the wilderness; Moses was taken out of the water, etc), but he (Messiah) will immerse you in the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit-John 7.37-39; Jer 17.13; Isa 12.3; Acts 1.5, 2.3, 2.41, 10.44-48; it can be done by sprinkling for cleansing-Isa 52.15; Ezek 36.25. Karaite Jews use a shower and there are no written sources before the first century BCE or archaeological discoveries about any installations used for ritual cleansing; however, after that, mikvaot can be found in the land. Many believe they came about as a result of Greek influence. Rivers, lakes, ponds, and the sea were used for full immersions but there were areas that did not have these so sprinkling/washing was used. For more information on this concept see our teaching called “Tevilah (immersion) and Rachatz (washing)” on this site).
v 9…And it came about that in those days (while John was preaching and immersing) that Yeshua came from Nazareth (meaning “branch” and a term for the Messiah; his time) in Galilee, and was immersed by John in the Jordan (why he came from Nazareth).
v 10…And immediately (at once) coming out of the water, he saw the heavens opening (rent, torn-we see this word “torn” here at the beginning of his ministry, and it will happen at the end in Mark 15.38) and the Spirit like a dove (it doesn’t say it was a dove, but like one) descending on him;
v 11…and a voice (of Yehovah) came out of the heavens: “Thou art my beloved son, in thee I am well pleased (this alludes to Gen 1.1-4 where the Spirit moved, or “brooded” like a hen over her eggs; the rotation of the earth began in creation and Yehovah called this “good.” Yeshua is bringing the new creation and the Spirit “brooded” over him, beginning the “rotation” of his ministry because now he is anointed as the Messiah, and Yehovah said this was “good” also. There are five aspects in the coronation of a Jewish king: anointing, investiture, acclamation, enthronement, and homage; here we see the anointing and the acclamation).
v 12…And immediately (at once) the Spirit compelled him (led in Matt 4.1) to go out in the wilderness (for 40 days, like Israel was in the wilderness 40 years-this may have happened on Elul 1, with Yeshua returning back on Tishri 10 or Yom Kippur).
v 13…And he was in the wilderness 40 days being tempted (tested) by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts (an uninhabited area), and the angels were ministering to him (after the tests were over-being fed and given water, etc).
v 14…And after John had been taken into custody (by Herod and put in the fortress at Macherus), Yeshua came into Galilee (the light of truth was predicted to start there in Isa 9.1-2), preaching the gospel (called the “Ha Basar ha Malkut Shamayim” or the good news of the kingdom of heaven; this is the restored kingdom of Israel in Acts 1.6; Yeshua is not the basar, or gospel, because he preached this before his death, burial and resurrection. It was preached before he even came; He is the agent of God empowered to bring the kingdom to pass; we enter into this kingdom by faith; for information on this concept of the basar, see the article called “The Basar (gospel)” on this website),
v 15…and saying, “The time is fulfilled (for the kingdom to be offered through the Messiah), and the kingdom of God (his movement in action) is at hand (Hebrew “karav” meaning present now); repent (turn from sin) and believe in the gospel (that the kingdom is being offered to Israel; notice, nobody asked him “What is the gospel?” They knew what it was).”
v 16…And as he was going along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw (he was looking for them) Shimon (to hear) and Andrew, the brother of Shimon, casting a net in the sea (from a boat); for they were fishermen (by occupation).
v 17…And Yeshua said to them, “Follow me (become a talmid, or student, of mine), and I will make you fishers of men (this shows they needed training, a gradual process).
v 18…And they immediately left the nets and followed him.
v 19…And going a little farther he saw (he was looking for them) James (Jacob) the son of Zebedee, and John (Yochanon) his brother, who were also in the boat mending their nets (repairing them to be used the next day).
v 20…And immediately (notice how often Mark uses “immediately or “at once”) he called them (as soon as he saw them because he was looking for them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired workers (didn’t leave their father to do all the work), and went away to follow him (God’s call on our own life supersedes our affection for parents and family).
v 21…And they went into Capernaum (Kafer Nachum or “village of the comforter”); and immediately on the Sabbath (or as soon as the Sabbath came) he entered the synagogue (where people met to hear the Scriptures and be instructed) and began to teach (learned guests could speak and instruct).
v 22…And they were amazed at his teaching; for he was teaching them as having authority, not as the scribes (he didn’t establish what he said through the authority of some rabbi saying, “Hillel said” or “Shemayah taught.” No rabbinic authority was behind his teaching; this was new for those there).
v 23…And just there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit (it ruled his life); and he cried out (the spirit in him),
v 24…saying, “What do we (the other spirits who were possessing others in Galilee) have to do with you, Yeshua ha Notzri (Nazareth)? Have you come to destroy us (this shows a total separation of interests, like in John 2.4)? I know who you are, the holy one of God (or of Israel; his divine nature as symbolized by the high priest in the Temple).
v 25…And Yeshua rebuked him (he had the authority of God), saying, “Be quiet (Hebrew “sheket” or literally “be gagged”-Luke 4.41; Mark 1.34), and it came out of him (no magic formulas or techniques)!”
v 26…And throwing him into convulsions (to the ground), the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice (because it was against his will), and came out of him.
v 27…Abd they were all amazed (at his doctrine and power), so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him (the people were used to formulas with little or no results by Jewish exorcists-Matt 12.27; Acts 19.13).”
v 28…And immediately (at one) the news (fame) about him went out everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.
v 29…And immediately (at once) after they had come out of the synagogue (after the service), they came into the house of Shimon and Andrew, with James and John.
v 30…Now Shimon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to him (Yeshua) about her (after he sat down).
v 31…And he came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand (to sit up in bed), and the fever left her (without any magical formulas or paraphernalia), and she came to wait (minister) on them (probably a Sabbath meal).
v 32…And when evening had come, after the sun had set, they began bringing to him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed (here we see how unlawful it was to bring the sick for healing on the Sabbath according to the rabbis, in particular Beit Shammai; Yeshua will show how this superstition was a “strain” of the Sabbath rest).
v 33…And the whole city (many) had gathered at the door (many sick came to Galilee to be healed due to the hot springs there and the weather).
v 34…And he healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who he was (he didn’t need their testimony; he had others to bear witness of him).
v 35…And in the early morning (of the first day of the week), while it was still dark, he arose (his resurrection happened very early in the morning on the first day of the week also) and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there (to get away from any crowd; be in private).
v 36…And Shimon and his companions hunted for him (an eager search);
v 37..and (later) they found him, and said to him, “Everyone (many from Capernaum) is looking for you.”
v 38…And he said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also (so that the basar can be announced); for that is what I came for (from Yehovah-Isa 52.7, 61.1).
v 39…And he went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons (miracles don’t confirm that one is from God, but they point to what he is preaching; that is how you know someone is from God or not, it will not conflict with the Scriptures-Deut 13.1-5; Isa 8.20).
v 40…And a leper (metzora) came to him, beseeching (asking) him and falling on his knees before him, and saying to him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean (leprosy in the Bible is not what most people think it is; this was sent by God, and not Hansen’s Disease, which is what leprosy is called today; being unclean means he could not go into the Temple in a ritual sense).”
v 41…And moved with compassion (at his situation), he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
v 42…And immediately (at once) the leprosy (called Tzara’at) left him and he was cleansed.
v 43…And he sternly warned him (about the sin that caused the tzara’at) and sent him away.
v 44…And he said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone (as you go); but go, show yourself to the priest (as commanded in Leviticus) and offer for your cleansing what Moses (in the Torah) commanded for a testimony to them (to the commandments, the Torah of Moses; this is in the neuter sense/gender so he is not talking about the priests or it would be the masculine).
v 45…But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news about (who could blame him, he couldn’t contain his joy), to such an extent that Yeshua could no longer publicly enter a city (this was one reason he wanted it quiet for a while; it hindered his work; it would have been better had he just done what Yeshua asked him to do and not spread the news just yet), but stayed out in unpopulated areas (to avoid dangerous situations and people who were enemies or envious; it wasn’t the time for such a public ministry just yet); and they were coming to hear him from everywhere (we should never think we have a better plan than God does).