Ecclesiology & Eschatology in Mark's Gospel by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
I) Ecclesiology in Mark:
“church, assembly” = ekklēsia - never used in Mark (only in Matt 16:18; 18:17)
“community, fellowship” = koinōnia - never used in Mark (see Acts 2:42; Letters of Paul; 1 John)
Natural family vs. New family
3:21 - When his family (hoi par' autou) heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind."
[3:22-30 - Beelzebul Controversy]
3:31-35 - Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. / A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." / And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" / And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! / Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
6:3-4 - "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. / Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown (patris), and among their own kin (syngenēs), and in their own house (oikia = household)."
Did Jesus literally have “brothers and sisters”?
Three interpretations: Western Protestant; Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic
Should this new set of relationships be called “fictive kinship”?
Or rather is it a “real family” or a “true family”?
Leaving one’s [birth] family (10:28-31) & Opposition within families (13:12)
10:29-30 - Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house (oikia = household?) or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, / who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age-- houses (oikiai = households?), brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions-- and in the age to come eternal life."
13:12 - "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death..."
Cf. 3:25 – "And if a house (oikia) is divided against itself, that house (oikia) will not be able to stand."
Cf. 2:18 - “disciples of John” & “disciples of the Pharisees”
Jesus welcomes "little children":
9:35-37 - He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." / Then he took a little child (paidion) and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, / "Whoever welcomes one such child (paidion) in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
9:41-42 - "For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. / If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones (mikroi) who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea." (cf. Matt 10:42; 18:6-14; Luke 17:2)
10:13-16 - People were bringing little children (paidia) to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. / But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. / Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." / And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them."
Jesus calls his disciples “children” (only once in Mark):
10:23-24 - Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" / And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children (tekna), how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! (10:24)
II) Eschatology in Mark:
eschatos = “last”
“last” in importance/priority (Mark 9:35; 10:31) - "But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
“last” in a temporal sequence (Mark 12:6; 12:22) - "Last of all the woman herself died."
1:7-8 - [John the Baptist’s preaching]: "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. / I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
When does this happen? Within Jesus' lifetime? After his death and resurrection?
10:37-40 - [James & John's request & Jesus' response]: And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." / But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" / They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; / but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
Cf. 13:11 - "When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit."
The coming of Elijah, or another great Prophet: (cf. Malachi 4:5)
6:14-16 – King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him." / But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." / But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."
8:27-28 – Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" / And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."
9:11-13 –Then they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" / He said to them, "Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? / But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him."
The coming kingdom of David
(cf. 2 Sam 7:1-16):
11:7-10 [Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem]: Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. / Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. / Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! / Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
See the Markan Christology page for other expectations about the Messiah, the Son of David, and related figures.
The Son of Man rising from the dead:
8:31 – Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
9:9-10 – As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. / So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
9:31b – “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”
10:33-34 – “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; / they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
After three days? On the third day? See the Resurrection webpage.
The Son of Man coming/appearing in glory:
8:38 – “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (cf. 10:37; 13:26)
The Apocalyptic/Eschatological Discourse (Mark 13)
To understand this text, we must be familiar with the genre of apocalyptic literature: