Mark 1: 1 – Opening Verse of Mark’s Gospel

Mark’s opening sentence is the title for the whole gospel. It expresses the theme and thrust of the evangelist’s work. This title verse admirably sums up the content of the entire gospel: the person of Jesus, who is “Christ” and “Son of God”. More than being a title, Mark 1: 1 also expresses the faith of the evangelist and of his community that Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified is indeed alive as the risen Christ, the Son of God.

As we know that the term ‘gospel’ was part of the current vocabulary of the primitive Church. As a technical term for the Christian message, the ‘gospel’ designated God’s saving actions in and through the person of Jesus. This was the ‘Good News’ or ‘Glad Tidings’ that the apostles preached. Thus the context of the original use of the term ‘gospel’ was oral proclamation or apostolic preaching. Mark is the first Christian writer to take this widely known term from the sphere of oral proclamation and use it to designate a literary composition. He is thus the originator of a new type of literature called the ‘gosples’.

The title verse indicates that the evangelist wants to trace the ‘beginning’ of the message of salvation that was being proclaimed in the early Church. He intends to describe the historical roots and moorings of the new era of salvation in the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In other words, Mark’s purpose is to trace the good news of salvation, which is being proclaimed, back to its beginning in God’s saving actions in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, the beginning of the gospel (Mk 1: 1) refers to the entire narrative that follows, from the story of John the Baptist (Mk 1: 2ff) to the story of Jesus’ resurrection (Mk 16: 1-8). The similarity between Mark 1: 1 and Genesis 1: 1 can also be noted. For Mark the ministry of Jesus ushers in a new beginning, a new creation.

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