« PreviousContinue »
signed Barnabas as his companion, doubtless, because of his pre-eminent fitness for the work. “ And they had also," the narrative adds, “ John to their minister,"2 that is, as appears from the context, “ John whose surname was Mark.”3 On his second missionary tour, the apostle, rejecting Mark for reasons that will be considered presently, chose Silas for his helper.4 Again, finding in Asia Minor a young man by the name of Timothy, whose father was a Greek, “ well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium,” he circumcised him, and took him with him. It is manifest that in choosing his associates in the work of preaching the gospel he had respect not simply to the miraculous endowments of the Spirit, but also to their qualifications, natural and acquired, which these supernatural gifts did not supersede, but rather supplemented.
Thus there arose very naturally, within the sphere of those who had the gift of the Spirit, partly by the immediate selection of the apostle, and partly without any formal action on their part, an interior circle of men, whose endowments were recognized by the apostles and the churches, and who were their acknowledged helpers in the work of the ministry. It would be very contrary to the genius of primitive Christianity to conceive of the apostles as taking towards these men a patronizing attitude, and keeping them under their leading-strings. The apostles were raised by their position above all petty jealousies. They joyfully recognized the gifts bestowed by the great Head of the church on others, and gave them their confidence, so long as they proved themselves worthy of it, not in name, but in reality. It is not surprising that within this circle of helpers should have been found men peculiarly gifted with the pen, whose writings were unanimously received by the churches as coordinate in authority with those of the apostles. It is not necessary to assume that they wrote at the dictation of apostles, or under their formal supervision. If they had the 1 Acts siii. 2. 2 Acts xiii. 5.
8 Acts xii. 25; xv. 37. 4 Acts Xv. 40.
6 Acts xvi. 1-3.
confidence of the apostles and churches for the works which they undertook, that was enough; and this may be reasonably believed in respect to all the books of the New Testament not emanating from apostles.
1. The Writings of Mark and Luke. There is no valid ground for assuming the existence of two persons by the name of Mark, or for doubting the correctness of the ancient tradition which identifies the author of the second Gospel with “ John whose surname was Mark,” i who is called simply John 2 and Marcus, or Mark. He was a kinsman of Barnabas," which relationship may explain Barnabas's earnest defence of him against Paul. His mother Mary resided at Jerusalem. Her house was a well-known place of resort for the primitive Christians, and to this Peter went immediately upon his miraculous deliverance from prison. The intimacy of. Peter with Mary's family must have brought about an early acquaintance between the apostle Peter and Mark, which continued, according to the common interpretation of 1 Pet. v. 13, to the end of Peter's life, and which is affirmed with great unanimity by ecclesiastical tradition. His connection with the apostle Paul began upon the occasion of the visit of Barnabas and Paul to Jerusalem to carry alms to the disciples who dwelt in Judea. Upon the return of these two men to Antioch they “ took with them John whose surname was Mark,” 7 and he accompanied them on their first missionary tour as far as Perga in Pamphylia, whence, departing from them, he returned to Jerusalem.8 The apostle Paul regarded this act as highly reprehensible, and on the ground of it he rejected him on his second missionary tour, and took Silas in his stead.9 There was no difference of opinion between him and Barnabas as to the ministerial gifts of
1 Acts xii. 12, 25; xv. 37.
2 Acts xiii. 5, 13. 8 Acts xv. 39; Col. iv. 10; 2 Tim. iv. 11; perhaps, also, 1 Pet. v. 13. 4 Col. iv, 10. • Acts xv. 37–39.
6 Acts xii. 12. 7 Acts xii. 25. & Acts xiii. 5, 13.
9 Acts xv. 37-40.
Mark. The contention between them related to the moral quality of his conduct. Paul evidently ascribed his departure from them to the influence of unworthy motives, and gave, as it would seem, or caused to be given, commandments of an unfavorable character. But these he afterwards revoked;1 and during his final imprisonment at Rome he made the most honorable mention of him: “ Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” 2 The above is the sum of all that we know concerning Mark from the New Testament. There is, however, as is wellknown, a mass of ccclesiastical tradition concerning him, not altogether self-consistent, yet all its parts agreeing in the representation that Mark was the constant companion of Peter during the later years of the apostle's life, and was his “ interpreter.” The first writer is Papias, quoted by Eusebius, who says, upon the testimony of John the presbyter: “Mark, being Peter's interpreter, wrote down accurately as many things as he remembered, not, indeed, as giving in order the things which were spoken or done by Christ; for he was neither a liearer nor a follower of our Lord, but, as I said, of Peter, who gave his instructions as occasion required, but not as one who was composing an orderly account of our Lord's words. Mark, therefore, committed no error when he thus wrote down certain things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing to omit nothing of the things which he heard, and to make no false statements concerning them.”3 Irenaeus, as cited by Eusebius, says: “Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, limself also delivered to us in writing the things that were preached by Peter"; and this he represents as having been done perà TÀU TOÚTwv éxodov, that is, as we must understand him, after the death of these men [Peter and Paul].4 Eusebius also says, on the authority of Clement of Alexandria, that Mark, at the request of Peter's hearers at Rome, wrote out the doctrine which Peter had delivered to them orally, and that the apostle “ was delighted with the zeal of the men, and sanctioned the writing for use in the assembly of the church.” But, again, referring to the same request on the part of the Roman Christians, and Mark's compliance with it, Clement says, according to Eusebius, that when Peter knew of Mark's writing, he neither forbade it nor encouraged it.” 2 Eusebius also gives his own judgment when he says that “all things written by Mark are called the memoirs of Peter's discourses." 3 Tertullian's words are: “ The Gospel which Mark published is reckoned as Peter's, whose interpreter he was";4 and Jerome says: “ So then he [Paul] had Titus as interpreter; just as the blessed Peter had Mark, in the composition of whose Gospel Peter narrated and he wrote.” 5 And so the stream of tradition flows on.
i Col. iv. 10.
2 2 Tim. iv. 11.
If, now, we rested the canonical authority of Mark's Gospel upon the assumption that he wrote at Peter's dictation, or at least under his supervision, so as to make it virtually not his, but Peter's, Gospel, it would be necessary to subject these traditional notices to a critical examination, that we might determine accurately the authority due to them, and also the way, if any could be found, of harmonizing them with each other. But the question is to be settled on broader principles. We have, first, the witness of the Gospel itself to Mark's gifts as a writer; secondly, the concurrent testimony of the New Testament and of ecclesiastical tradition to the fact of his intimate association with two of the apostles in the work of the ministry; thirdly, the unanimous reception of his Gospel by all the churches. This last consideration is one of great weight. The churches knew Mark's gifts, natural and supernatural; they knew, also his relation
1 Eusebius's Hist. Eccl. ii. 15.
8 πάντα γάρ τα παρά Μάρκο του Πέτρου διαλέξεων είναι λέγεται απομνημονεύματα. - Demonstr. Evang. iii. 5.
* Marcus quod edidit evangelium Petri adfirmatur, cujus interpres Marcus. — Contra Marc. iv. 5.
Cujus evangelium Petro narrante et illo scribente compositum est. - Ad Hedib. Quaest. 11. Vol. i.
to the apostles and their judgment concerning him. Whether he did or did not write under the supervision of the apostle Peter, or at his suggestion, their unhesitating reception of his Gospel from the very first is the expression of their judgment that he had not transcended the sphere assigned to him by the Holy Ghost and recognized by the apostles ; and in this judgment we may well acquiesce.
The unanimous voice of antiquity ascribes the third Gospel, with the Acts of the Apostles, to Luke. He first appears as the travelling companion of Paul when he leaves Troas for Macedonia ; 1 for the use of the first person plural
“we endeavored,” " " the Lord had called us,” we came,” etc. — which occurs from that point in Paul's history and onward, with certain interruptions, admits of no other natural and reasonable explanation. It is generally believed that he is identical with “ Luke, the beloved physician," who was with Paul when a prisoner at Rome. The evangelist himself gives us, in his dedicatory address to Theophilus, clear and definite information respecting the sources of his Gospel. He does not profess to have been himself an eyewitness; but he has drawn his accounts from those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word.” From the long and intimate connection of Luke with Paul, it is reasonable to suppose that the apostle must have exerted an influence on the composition of the Gospel. Luke, however, gives us to understand that he draws his materials not from Paul (at least, not principally), but from those " who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word.” He did not, then, write at Paul's dictation, but in a free and independent way. There cannot be, however, any reasonable ground for doubting that he wrote both his works with Paul's knowledge and approbation. The closing passage in the Acts of the Apostles brings down Paul's history to the end of the second year of his imprisonment at Rome. The natural inference is that this is the date of the book. It was written at Rome, not very long 1 Acts xvi. 10. 2 Col. iv. 14; Philem. 24; 2 Tim. iv. 11. Vol. XXIX. No. 113.
8 Luke i. 1 seq.