John Mark interviews Simon Peter

by Robert Brow (

JLP Digital Publications, Odessa Ontario, 2003


Chapter 1 - John the Baptist. Fishermen called. Capernaum. A leper healed.

Chapter 2 - A paralyzed man. Levi the tax collector. New wine in new skins. Sabbath.

Chapter 3 - Withered hand. Preaching from a boat. The Twelve. Beelzebul. His mother.

Chapter 4 - Parables : Sower, lamp, seed, mustard. Storm on the lake.

Chapter 5 - Demoniac and swine. Jairus' daughter. A woman healed.

Chapter 6 - Prophet without honor. Twelve sent out. Dance of Herodias.

Chapter 7 - Tradition. Heart defilement. Syrophoenician woman. Deaf man.

Chapter 8 - 4000 fed. Yeast of the Pharisees. Blindman. Messiah Way of the cross.

Chapter 9 - Transfiguration. Dumb boy. 2nd prediction. The greatest. Child abuse.

Chapter 10 - Divorce. Little children. The rich. 3rd prediction. Servant ministry. Bartimaeus

Chapter 11 - Unbroken colt. Entry into Jerusalem. Fig tree. Temple cleared. Authority.

Chapter 12 - The tenants. Pay taxes?  Resurrection. First Commandment. Messiah. Widow.

Chapter 13 - Temple destroyed. Birthpangs. Sun, Moon, Stars, Powers. That generation.

Chapter 14 - Costly ointment. Preparation. Bread & Wine. Gethsemane. Arrest. Denial.

Chapter 15 - Sanhedrin. Pilate. Mocking. Simon of Cyrene. Crucifixion. Entombment.

Chapter 16 - Women at the tomb. Short and long ending of the Gospel.


For fourteen years the early church had grown rapidly, not only in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41, 5:14,  6:7) but out into Samaria (Acts 8:4-25), along the coast up to Caesarea (Acts 8:40), Damascus in Syria (Acts 9:1-22), across to Cyprus, and up north to Antioch (Acts 11:19-26). The good news of Jesus was proclaimed verbally by the apostles and many disciples, and there were apparently no written records (except for some notes of Jesus' words taken verbatim by Matthew).

In AD 44 the beheading of James the brother of John, son of Zebedee (Acts 12:1-2) was a wake- up call. Christians realized that the original apostles were not going to live for ever. Peter was only saved on this occasion by a miraculous angelic intervention (Acts 12:6-11). So it was urgent to have a written account of what Peter preached. So it seems Mark was asked to write out all that Peter could remember of Jesus life (what is now Mark's Gospel).

The Gospel is headed kata markon (according to Mark). Mark does not mention himself by name but he left his signature when he described Jesus' arrest. "A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked" (Mark 14:51).

We can imagine Mark encouraging Peter to tell the story of Jesus as he had often preached it in various church situations. Perhaps he asked questions to prod Peter's memory. Were you ever a disciple of John the Baptist? What happened when Jesus was baptized? When did you start following Jesus? What parables can you remember? (Chapter 4). What did Jesus say about kosher food? (7:14-23). What happened when Jesus was transfigured? (9:2-13). What did Jesus say about the destruction of the temple? (13:1-31).

From the way the story reads as an eye-witness account it is possible that John Mark went out with Peter and the other ten apostles to the Mount of Olives (Acts 14:32-52). He seems to describe what he saw in the Garden of Gethsemane, the arrest, and his own escape leaving his garment behind. He may have come to the preliminary hearing at the high priest's home (Annas
was the deposed high priest, but still highly respected), and he was probably at the gathering of the Sanhedrin early the next morning (Mark 14:53-15:1). Peter seems to have left the scene, but Mark writes as if he saw the trial before Pilate, and Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross (he may have known his sons Alexander and Rufus). He must have stayed around for the crucifixion and entombment (15:2-46). Perhaps he also came to the tomb with the women early on Easter morning. But he presumably did not witness the resurrection appearances, so he avoided recording what he did not see (16:1-8). All this is conjecture, but it is one way of picturing how Mark may have done his work as the interviewer of Peter and his own observations.


Many scholars assumed that predictive prophecy was impossible, so Mark could not have written about the destruction of the temple (Mark 13) till that event was in the past. So they dated Mark's gospel about AD 75 or later. We have no problem with Jesus foretelling the end of the temple before the crucifixion about AD 30, and that event taking place within that generation in
AD 70. With the beheading of James in AD 44 (Acts 12:1-2), it seems likely that Mark got to work interviewing Peter as soon as possible, and a likely date for the publication of the Gospel might be as early as AD 45.

Based on their reading of Mark 13 the early Christians expected those events to happen shortly (1 Corinthians 1:7-8, 3:13, 4:5, 5:5, 7:26, 29, 31, Philippians 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 5:2-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, 2:1-3, 7-8, 2 Timothy 4:1, see Hebrews 8:13, 10:25).

A note on the life of John Mark

Fourteen years later, immediately after he was miraculously freed from prison, Peter went to a prayer meeting at the home of John Mark's mother (Acts 12:12). Mark may have been there, or at least heard the story. Paul and Barnabas took him to Antioch (Acts 12:25), and he then went out with them on the first missionary journey. He assisted them (Acts 13:5), and he may have carried scrolls or codex copies of his Gospel (2 Timothy 4:13) for the churches they hoped to establish. By the time they had gone across Cyprus and arrived in present-day Turkey, he decided it was time to go home to his mother (13:3-5). But, after a disagreement with Paul (Acts 15:36- 39), Barnabas decided to give Mark a second chance and took him with him on a mission to revisit the churches in Cyprus (15:39). By the time Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus Paul realized Mark's qualities (Colossians 4:10, 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 24). Peter viewed Mark as his spiritual son (1 Peter 5:13). By tradition Mark went on to establish the churches in Egypt, and became the first Bishop of Alexandria (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History I.16).

Chapter 1