According to tradition, John Mark wrote the teachings of Peter down which then became The Gospel According to Mark. John Mark was the son of a Mary, but not the Mary that gave birth to Jesus. John Mark worked with Paul and Barnabas throughout the book of Acts, however, there was some tension between them, which led to them splitting apart (Acts 13:13 and Acts 15:36-41).

So who wrote the Gospel of Mark?

Internal Evidence

Inside of the Gospel, there are no claims to authorship, but we do find some clues inside the gospel about who the author may be. The gospel is fast-paced and uses phrases like “immediately” very often. The gospel focuses more on the humanity of Jesus, and the Gospel is written with some Latin wording.

This includes the Latin words census, centurion, and denarius, among others. Also, the Gospel highlights the life of Peter more than the other gospels do. One example comes from Mark 8:27 through 9:1, where Peter recognizes that Jesus was the Messiah.

External Evidence

So what about the external evidence? The first person to talk about the authorship of Mark is Papias, who lived from around 60 to 130 AD. Here is what Papias says:

“And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.”

Papias – Fragments of Papias

Papias was the first to talk about Mark being the author of the Gospel of Mark, but he wasn’t the last. Irenaeus, who lived from 130 to 200 AD also confirms Mark’s authorship. He says: 

“After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.”

Irenaeus – Against Heresies

These are two of the earliest confirmations of Mark being the author of the Gospel of Mark. In addition to these confirmations of Mark’s authorship, many internal clues lead to Mark being the author of the Gospel According to Mark.

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