John Mark (born Yohanan), son of Mary, was probably born in Jerusalem around AD 10. He acquired the surname Marcus, perhaps at birth, and lived with his mother in Jerusalem. He would meet and be discipled by Peter shortly before the apostle left Jerusalem to work among the diaspora of the Jews.
After being recruited by his cousin Barnabas, he would accompany Paul during his first missionary journey. After briefly leaving the mission field, he joined Barnabas planting churches on the island of Cyprus.
Internal evidence and tradition indicate that John Mark wrote the concise Gospel that bears his name. In this account, he tells of Jesus as the miracle-working teacher who, though the Jewish Messiah, appealed to all God-fearing citizens of the Roman empire.
John Mark (Gr: Iohannes Markos) was probably born in Roman occupied Jerusalem, Judea Province, in the early first century AD (c. AD 10). His mother bore the popular Jewish name of Myriam (Gr: Marian). That he was given a Roman surname may indicate a family of influence, but probably not a Roman father. Young "Yohanan" lived with his mother, leaving the impression that his father had already died by the time his mother became a follower of Jesus Christ.
The first probable appearance of Mark was as the young man bearing a water pitcher that the disciples followed to find the "upper room" for the "last supper." Later that same day 'a certain young man' would run away naked, having had his bed clothes ripped off by soldiers who had captured Jesus.
As the new sect of "the Nazarene" grew in and around his home, Mark was most certainly affected in some way. The Apostles Peter, James and John were actively evangelizing the Jews in the Holy City of their ancient religion. For a while the young church was growing larger day by day, but the Jewish leadership rose up against it, leading to the execution of James. The place of refuge was the spacious home of his mother Mary.
At some point during this time, Mark became a believer, probably under Peter's ministry in Jerusalem. In his first epistle Peter refers to Mark as "his son," indicating that Peter either spiritually mentored Mark or had some other close relationship.
Years later, after Saul of Tarsus had been called to be an Apostle, Mark would meet Peter and other apostles in Jerusalem. On the advice of Barnabas, Paul had agreed to take the young man along on the first mission to the Roman province of Asia. For some reason, Mark left the team at Perga, Pamphylia, to return to Jerusalem. Probably as a result of this, Paul refused to bring him along on the next trip, leading Barnabas to form a new team to evangelize Cyprus.
It is not known specifically when Mark made his way back to Peter, then in the Jewish community in the city of Babylon. It was probably there that Mark would begin writing his gospel. After a time, most probably traveling by way of Judea to Ephesus, Mark would join Timothy in Ephesus, from where he would be sent to Rome to assist Paul in his last days. He brought with him "the books," one of which may have been that which would one day bear his name.
The legacy of John Mark is two-fold. First, he was an evangelist working in the first generation after Jesus ascended. His cousin Joseph Barnabas had been a member of the Jewish community on Cyprus, probably having come to Jerusalem at the time of Passover at the time of the death and resurrection of Jesus. At any rate, when Barnabas was leading the first missionary journey out of the church at Antioch, Mark assisted in the effort. The ministry there influenced Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor of the island province. Later, Barnabas and Mark returned to the island to continue their work.
Secondly, the early mention of Mark as having penned a gospel account under the tutelage of Peter leaves the Church a short, action packed account of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Though many modern scholars have tried to make the Gospel of Mark the first written, the New Testament account places Mark with Peter in Babylon and then with Timothy. This leads to the probability that the "books" (literally "biblion" or 'small scroll') contained one written by Mark especially for the Gentiles at Rome. By that time, Paul's ministry to the Gentiles was over and the new center of the Church had begun to shift from the Jewish congregations in Jerusalem and Antioch. From Rome, the shorter Gentile-friendly Gospel would change the face of Christianity.
The name "John" is a translation of the Greek name Ἰωάννης (ee-o-an'-nace). Ἰωάννης is a translation of the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (yo-khaw-nawn'). יוֹחָנָן is a form of the Hebrew name יְהוֹחָנָן (yeh-ho-khaw-nawn') which means "Jehovah-favored". יְהוֹחָנָן comes from two Hebrew words: יְהֹוָה (yeh-ho-vaw'), meaning "Yahweh" and commonly translated as Lord) and יָדַע (yaw-dah', meaning "to know").
The name "Mark" is a translation of the Greek name Μάρκος (mar'-kos) which is of Latin origin. Μάρκος is from the Latin praenomen Marcus, derived from Mars, the Roman god of war, originally Mavors.