by Wayne Blank
"John, also called Mark" (Acts 12:12), like a number of other apostles and disciples, was known by two names. Mark (Marcus) was his Roman name, and John was his Jewish name. He is called John in Acts 13:5,13, and Mark in Acts 15:39 and 2 Timothy 4:11. His Roman name was used as the title of his Gospel probably to avoid the confusion of having 2 Gospel books of John.
Mark was the son of Mary, a prominent Christian woman from Jerusalem. He may have been born in or near Jerusalem where his mother lived during the New Testament time. There is no record of his father, but Mark is described as a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10).
Mark's mother's house was apparently a popular place for Christians, where "many people gathered and prayed" (Acts 12:12). It was the first place that the apostle Peter went to after an angel sprung him from Herod's prison (Acts 12:6-12).
Peter refers to Mark as "his son" in 1 Peter 5:13, so it is likely that Peter was involved in Mark's conversion. Peter at that time would have been about 35 years old, and Mark was substantially younger, so Peter could have been a father-figure to him. Some have speculated that Peter was actually Mark's biological father, although there is nothing specific written in the Bible about that. We do know that Peter was married (1 Corinthians 9:5), but his wife's name is not known.
Although it is quite likely that the "young man" spoken of in Mark 14:51-52 was Mark himself, he is first mentioned by name in Acts 12:25. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first journey (see Paul's First Missionary Journey ), but for some reason returned home to Jerusalem after they had travelled as far as Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 12:25; 13:13). It was this incident that later caused a "sharp disagreement" between Paul and Barnabas. Paul refused to take Mark with him on another missionary journey, while Barnabas defended his young cousin (Acts 15:36-40). They did however reconcile at a later time because Mark was with Paul in his first imprisonment at Rome (Colossians 4:10, Philemon 1:24).
At a later time Mark was with Peter (1 Peter 5:13), and then with Timothy in Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:11). He then disappears from the record.
Mark was one of the fortunate few to have seen and heard Jesus Christ during His human lifetime. He witnessed the birth and growth of the Christian church, and personally knew most of the greatest early Christians before becoming one himself.
Fact Finder: What eventually happened to all of the apostles?