Mark 1:1 – The Beginning of the Gospel


Mark 1:1


Mark begins his gospel by orienting his readers to his reason for writing and introducing his characteristic style.


The first verse of Mark’s Gospel has no verb and can be understood as a title or introduction. The key terms that Mark employs helps his readers to understand why he feels the need to write this account. Though modern readers primarily associate the word “gospel” with the four books at the beginning of the New Testament, at the time of Mark’s writing, it was a new term, coined by the apostle Paul to describe his preaching of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. By describing his work as the Gospel of Jesus the Christ (sometimes translated “good news”), Mark links his work with Paul’s proclamation. Mark also includes key terms to help his readers understand the nature of Jesus’ identity. For instance, he describes Jesus as Christ, a Greek term that means “the anointed one” and that is equivalent to the Hebrew “Messiah.” This description ties Jesus to the tradition of Israelite kingship, especially David, as can be seen in Psalm 2:1.

Finally, the first verse introduces readers to the curious ambiguity that pervades Mark’s Gospel. It’s very hard to know what Mark is referring to with the word “beginning.” Is it simply a reference to the start of his Gospel? Is it a reference to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry? Or is all of the Gospel of Mark the beginning that then continued on through the ministry of Paul in the Roman world? Readers will continue to encounter questions like this as they dig deeper into Mark’s writing.