Today, we read Mark and 15 chapters in Luke. I will be doing a short recap on both books.
The image to the left is from the Book of Kells, a manuscript borrowing largely from Jerome's Latin Vulgate. It was written around 800 A.D., and shows the Four Evangelists. Going clockwise from the top-left, Matthew is depicted as a man, Mark as a Lion, John as an eagle, and Luke as an ox.
It's most widely accepted that Mark is the author, though he never introduces himself. Early manuscripts (as well as historical evidence that Mark was Peter's interpreter) strongly suggest Mark's authorship.
We know a bit about (John) Mark from several places throughout the Bible.
1. He was Barnabas' cousin. Colossians 4:10: "Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him). . ."
2. His mother's name was Mary, and he provided a place for the early church to meet. Perhaps we could consider him a house-church leader. Acts 12:12: "When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying."
3. John Mark was on the first missionary journey in Acts with Paul and Barnabas. Acts 12:25: "And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark." Also Acts 13:5: "When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them."
4. John Mark left Paul earlier in the missionary journey to return to Jerusalem. Acts 13:13: "Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem. . ."
5. In Acts 15, following the Jerusalem Council, Paul begins his second missionary journey and wants to bring Barnabas, as he did on his first journey. However, Barnabas wants to take John Mark again, and Paul doesn't want Mark to come, because he left them in Pamphylia during their first journey. Ultimately, Paul is commended by the brothers after deciding to take Silas to Syria and Cilicia, and Barnabas went to Cyprus with John Mark. Was Barnabas not also commended? Did he do something wrong? Perhaps a conversation for another day; just a speculation. In short, we don't have the simple answer to those questions. Acts 15:36-41: "36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed,having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches."
6. Paul later commends John Mark, for he supposedly proved himself worthy during the second missionary journey with Barnabas. Philemon 24: "Mark . . . my fellow workers." Also Colossians 4:10: "Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him). . ." Paul also thought he was a helpful addition to his ministry in 2 Timothy 4:11: "Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry."
Mark was probably the first book of the Gospels that was written (~50 A.D.), and is a concise storyline of Jesus. Mark likely wrote the book in Rome. Different church fathers recognize Mark's work with Peter (i.e. Papias and Clement of Alexandria). Mark also uses Latin words in different parts of the book (12:14, 15:15, 15:21), which would also be indicative of Roman composition. Matthew and Luke show indications of having borrowed from Mark's Gospel.
There is much to be said of the book of Mark, but I must end here for now for the sake of time.
Luke was a doctor and a Greek Christian, and his gospel, written closer to the early 60s A.D., is the third of the synopsitc Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). Like Mark, Luke also went with Paul on his mission journeys (though Luke went on more than one, whereas Mark only went on one, or half of one). Luke is different than Matthew and Mark, because it was originally written with the Acts of the Apostles. It is helpful to read them alongside each other, as it is one continuous story. Luke, though not mentioned in Luke or Acts, is mentioned a few other times in the New Testament.
1. Colossians 4:14: "Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas."
2. 2 Timothy 4:11: "Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry."
3. Philemon 23-24: "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers."
Luke wrote more of the New Testament than any other writer, even Paul. He is not mentioned in any part of the Bible beyond the three scriptures above. Luke's Gospel is used as another descriptive evidence for the validity of Jesus and his message. The prologue of Luke's book state that many people had made accounts of Jesus, and that Luke still carefully examined all the facts from the beginning. Luke wrote his book to Theophilus, which means "lover/friend of God". It's unclear what the relationship was between Luke and Theophilus. Some have even suggested that Theophilus refers to all Christians, though Theophilus may have been a figure in the government or someone of nobility.
The reason Luke wrote his Luke-Acts Gospel is under question, but the leading thoughts say that either he was writing to show the Roman Empire that the Christians were not a threat to their government, or to reassure Christians that were questioning the timing of Jesus' second coming. A popularizing view is that Luke wrote his gospel to aid Paul in his trial against Caesar.
Because Luke was a doctor, his Gospel was written in the very best Greek (as was Hebrews, which may suggest Luke's authorship of Hebrews as well). Luke was scholarly and sophisticated.