The Roman surname of the son of Mary of Jerusalem. His Hebrew name was John, meaning “Jehovah Has Shown Favor; Jehovah Has Been Gracious.” (Ac 12:12, 25) Mark was a cousin of Barnabas, was his traveling companion and that of other early Christian missionaries, and was inspired to write the Gospel bearing his own name. (Col 4:10) Mark is the John Mark mentioned in the book of Acts and the John of Acts 13:5, 13.
He was evidently an early believer in Christ. His mother’s home was used as a place of worship by the early Christian congregation, which may mean that both she and Mark became Jesus’ followers before Christ’s death. (Ac 12:12) Since Mark alone mentions the scantily clad young man who fled on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, there is reason to believe that Mark himself was that young man. (Mr 14:51, 52) So it seems likely that Mark was present when the holy spirit was poured out on the some 120 disciples of Christ on Pentecost 33 C.E.—Ac 1:13-15; 2:1-4.
After they had carried out the relief ministration in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Saul (Paul) “returned and took along with them John, the one surnamed Mark.” It appears that Mark served as their attendant, perhaps caring for their physical needs while they traveled. (Ac 12:25; 13:5) For some undisclosed reason, when they arrived at Perga in Pamphylia, “John [Mark] withdrew from them and returned to Jerusalem.” (Ac 13:13) When Paul later set out on his second missionary journey, though Barnabas was determined to take Mark along, Paul “did not think it proper to be taking this one along with them, seeing that he had departed from them from Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.” “A sharp burst of anger” ensued, and they separated; Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus and Paul took Silas with him through Syria and Cilicia.—Ac 15:36-41.
Some time thereafter, however, whatever breach there was between Paul, Barnabas, and Mark was evidently healed, for Mark was with Paul in Rome and joined him in sending greetings to the Colossian Christians (c. 60-61 C.E.). Paul spoke favorably of him, saying: “Aristarchus my fellow captive sends you his greetings, and so does Mark the cousin of Barnabas, (concerning whom you received commands to welcome him if ever he comes to you).” (Col 4:10) Mark is also among those mentioned by Paul as sending greetings to Philemon when the apostle wrote to him from Rome (also c. 60-61 C.E.). (Phm 23, 24) Later (c. 65 C.E.), when Paul was again a prisoner in Rome, he specifically asked Timothy to “take Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering.”—2Ti 4:11.
John Mark also associated with Peter in Babylon, for he is mentioned as sending greetings in the apostle’s first letter (written c. 62-64 C.E.). Peter calls him “Mark my son,” perhaps indicating the strong bond of Christian affection that existed between them. (1Pe 5:13; compare 1Jo 2:1, 7.) Thus, Mark, once the cause of difficulty, gained the commendation and trust of prominent servants of God and enjoyed the yet greater privilege of being inspired to write an account of Jesus’ ministry.—See JOHN No. 4; MARK, GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO.