Sunday School Bible Survey:      MARK

Theme: The Suffering Servant

Key verse: "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

From the Scofield Study Bible:

WRITER: The writer of the second Gospel, Mark, called also John, was the son of one the New Testament "Marys," and nephew of Barnabas. He was an associate of the apostles, and is mentioned in the writings of Paul and of Luke (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37, 39; Col. 4:10; II Tim. 4:11; Philemon 24).

DATE: The date of Mark has been variously placed between A.D. 57 and 63.

THEME: The scope and purpose of the book are evident from its contents. In it Jesus is seen as the mighty Worker, rather than as the unique Teacher. It is the Gospel of Jehovah's "Servant the Branch" (Zech. 3:8), as Matthew is the Gospel of the "Branch. . .unto David" (Jer. 33:15).

Everywhere the servant character of the incarnate Son is manifest. The key verse is Mark 10:45. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." The characteristic word is "straightway," a servant's word. There is no genealogy, for who gives the genealogy of a servant? The distinctive character of Christ in Mark is that set forth in Philippians 2:6-8.

But this lowly Servant, who emptied Himself of the "form of God," "and was found in fashion as a man," was, nevertheless, "the mighty God" (Isa. 9:6) as Mark distinctly declares (1:1) and therefore mighty works accompanied and authenticated His ministry. As befits a Servant-Gospel, Mark is characteristically a Gospel of deeds, rather than on words.

The best preparation of the heart for the study of Mark is the prayerful reading of Isaiah 42:1-21; 50:4-11; 52:13--53:12; Zechariah 3:8; Philippians 2:5-8.

Mark is in five principal divisions:

  1. The manifestation of the Servant-Son (1:1-11).
  2. The Servant-Son tested as to His fidelity (1:12, 13).
  3. The Servant-Son at work (1:14-13:37).
  4. The Servant-Son "obedient unto death" (14:1-15:47).
  5. The ministry of the risen Servant-Son, now exalted to all authority (16:1-20).

The events recorded in this book cover a period of 7 years.


  1. The first reference to John Mark is in Acts 12:12. There we read that Peter "came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying."
  2. The second reference is in Acts 12:25, "And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark."
  3. In Acts 12:12, 25; and 15:37 we are told his name was John, and his "surname was Mark." John was his Jewish name, and Mark was his Roman name.
  4. Sometimes, he is referred to as "Marcus" (Col. 4:10; Philemon 24; I Peter 5:13).
  5. In Acts 13:5, we read that when Paul and Barnabas set out on their first missionary journey, John Mark went along as "their minister" (helper). John Mark was the nephew of Barnabas (Col. 4:10).
  6. However, John Mark soon abandoned them. This led to an eventual split between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41).
  7. Later on, John Mark was restored to fellowship with Paul. Paul wrote to Timothy and said, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee; he is profitable to me for the ministry" (II Tim. 4:11).
  8. John Mark was closely associated with the apostle Peter. In I Peter 5:13, Peter refers to John Mark as "Marcus my son." Many believe Peter was Mark's chief source for his material.
  9. Whereas Matthew was written primarily to Jewish readers, Mark wrote for Gentiles, particularly for Romans.
  10. And whereas Matthew often quoted the Old Testament, Mark only has two references to the Old Testament (1:2; 15:28).

OUTLINE from John Phillips (Exploring the Scriptures)

  1. The Servant's Work (1-3)
  2. The Servant's Words (4, 5)
  3. The Servant's Ways (6:1—8:26)
  4. The Servant's Worth (8:27—9:13)
  5. The Servant's Will (9:14-29)
  6. The Servant's Wisdom (9:30-10:52)
  1. He Precipitates the Crisis of Calvary (11, 12)
  2. He Portrays the Consequences of Calvary (13:1-14:31)
  3. He Permits the Cross of Calvary (14:32—15:47)
  4. He Proves the Crime of Calvary (16)

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —