What Saith The Scripture?

James W. Adams
Baytown, Texas

Were Mark and Luke Inspired?

QUESTION: Was Mark in his Gospel writing the very words the Holy Spirit gave him, or did he write what he had learned from Peter and/ or some of the other apostles? Why consider Mark's and Luke's accounts of the Gospel as inspired rather than mere historical literature? Luke says, "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word . . . " (Luke 1: 1,2) E.E.H, Ohio


Because Mark and Luke were not apostles, there has been for ages a question in the minds of some as to whether or not that which they wrote emanated from inspiration. The first question above suggests a misunderstanding of the nature of inspiration, on the part of the querist. It supposes that Mark and Luke could not have written what they learned from Peter and the other apostles, and at the same time have been miraculously guided by the Holy Spirit in that which they wrote. This implies a "mechanical" view of verbal inspiration.

The twelve apostles of Christ were taught by our Lord for three and one-half years during which time they also saw with their own eyes many things which they afterward recorded. To deny that they drew from this store of knowledge which they possessed when they, at a later date, recorded a history of this teaching and these events would be absurd. Yet, they were given the Holy Spirit to guide them in this matter. (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-13; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4.) I would say, therefore, that Mark and Luke wrote what they heard from "eyewitnesses" guided in doing so, as were the apostles, by the Holy Spirit. Verbal inspiration does not demand mechanical dictation.

Our Ohio brother also asks, "What proof is there that inspiration was given by the laying on of apostolic hands?" Spiritual gifts were given by the laying on of apostolic hands. (Acts 8:5, 12-17; 19:6; 2 Tim. 1:6.) Among those gifts were the gifts of: "the word of knowledge; the word of wisdom; and prophecy." (I Cor. 12:8-11.) All of these gifts involve inspiration. The newly baptized disciples at Ephesus received the gift of prophecy by the laying on of Paul's hands (Acts 19:6.) The gift of prophecy was the ability to teach by inspiration the word of God.

The next question which is generally asked is, "How do we know Mark and Luke were endowed with this gift?" The New Testament nowhere specifically states that Mark and Luke received this gift, yet, in my judgment, it can be necessarily inferred. Timothy was endowed with miraculous powers to enable him to perform his tasks as an evangelist. Mark and Luke performed identical tasks in the apostolic church, and in addition, left three written documents setting forth the history and teaching of Jesus during his personal ministry (Mark and Luke) and the history and teaching of the apostolic church during its period of infancy (Acts of Apostles). Their tasks in the apostolic age could not have been performed without the prophetic gift; hence we infer that they possessed it.

In addition to this, there are other significant considerations. (1) From the standpoint of internal evidence, the books bear unmistakable evidence of inspiration (the imprint of the Holy Spirit) - as much so as any of the books of the New Testament written by the inspired apostles of Christ. (2) From the earliest times, these books have been recognized as having a right to be included in the canon of the inspired Scriptures, beginning early in the second century. It was the universal belief in the centuries immediately following the apostolic age that Mark in particular had as his source of information the Apostle Peter. Dr. George Campbell says relative to this, ". . . this . . . point has, from the earliest times, been considered as so well authenticated, that some have not scrupled to denominate this the Gospel according to Peter. They did not intend thereby to dispute Mark's title to be esteemed the writer, but to express, in a stronger manner, that every thing here advanced, had the sanction of that Apostle's testimony, than whom no disciple more closely attended our Lord's ministry, from its commencement to its consummation" (Campbell's Gospels; Vol. III, p. 141.)

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 15, pp. 5-6
February 18, 1971