Bible Study Basics: Historical Background Research Part 2

Historical Background Nuggets from Mark 1:1-8

Even Historical Background Research Can Encourage Us

If this were a class I’d ask you to turn in your homework. How did your research into the historical background issues go? Do you have anything you discovered you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment below. Let’s take a look at some of the historical background issues from Mark 1:1-8. I’ll share a few things I learned from my reading. If you haven’t done any reading yet and plan to, you might want to do that now before you read on. It’s ok to read what I’ve got and then see what else you can discover.

Mark - historical background research

9 Items Of Historical Background Research On the Gospel of Mark and Mark 1:1-8

  1. The book is anonymous. The earliest existing manuscripts from the fourth century call it the Gospel According to Mark. Christian tradition unanimously considers Mark the author.
  2. Mark was Barnabas’s cousin Colossians 4:10. He started with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey but didn’t finish it with them Acts 13:13. Consequently Paul refused to take Mark on the second missionary journey. This led to a fallout between Paul and Barnabas Acts 15:36-39. Years later the rift was healed and Paul asked for Mark to come see him in prison. As it turned out this was just before Paul was martyred 2 Timothy 4:11.
  3. Mark was closely associated with Peter, who may have led Him to the Lord 1 Peter 5:13. Many consider Mark’s Gospel as the story of Jesus from Peter’s perspective.
  4. The content of Mark is significantly different from the other Gospels. There is much more emphasis on what Jesus did than on what He said.
  5. The prophet Isaiah lived approximately 700 years before Jesus. The book of Isaiah includes many prophecies about the Messiah. It also prophecies about a messenger would go before the Messiah.
  6. John the Baptist is identified by Mark as the messenger in Isaiah. John was related to Jesus. He leaped in his mother’s womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came to see her Luke 1:39-41. Jesus said no one who ever lived was greater than John the Baptist Luke 7:28.
  7. Baptism was not a uniquely Christian practice. The Jews had rituals of purification that included baptism. John used an existing concept and gave it new meaning with his message of repentance.
  8. Judea and Jerusalem were in the southern part of the country. Judea was a region or province. The city Jerusalem was the political and spiritual capital of the country.
  9. John’s camel’s hair garment and diet of locust and wild honey set him apart as a man of God. It’s likely he was a Nazarite, set apart from birth for the work of God Luke 1:15.

Here are two encouraging take-aways from this historical background research.

  1. God has a plan. From Isaiah to John to Jesus to Mark we see God at work. The Bible has been written but God’s plan continues. You and I are part of God’s ongoing plan!
  2. God values faithfulness. John the Baptist was considered weird by the world but great by God. Whose opinion matters most to you?

Did you learn some other lessons from your historical background research? I’d like to hear about it below.

You have the weekend off before we continue with our study on Monday. See you then!