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John Mark, First Gospel Writer

Was Mark one of the first people in history to be raised in a Christian home? His mother's home in Jerusalem, where Mark was likely born and raised, was a gathering place for early Christians; it was the house to which Peter fled after he miraculously escaped from prison. A Byzantine tradition says the house was also used for the Last Supper, and the Church of John Mark in Jerusalem is said to mark the site.

Sometime after Pentecost, Mark moved to Antioch, and when the church there commissioned Paul and Barnabas to carry the gospel to Asia Minor, Mark was invited to assist them. For some reason, at Perga, Mark left the mission and returned to Jerusalem--a move that eroded Paul's confidence in Mark.

When plans were laid for the next missionary journey, Paul argued vehemently with Barnabas against taking Mark again. The disagreement was so sharp, the group split up, and Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus.

Later, Mark and Paul must have resolved their rift, for Paul calls Mark his "fellow-worker" and tells the Colossians: "If [Mark] comes to you, welcome him."

Mark eventually made his way to Rome, where he became a companion to Peter--indeed, Peter calls him "my son Mark." Early Christian writers Papias and Irenaeus say Mark "handed down to us in writing the things that Peter had proclaimed" about Jesus. This Gospel of Mark was the first published account of the life of Jesus.

Church historian Eusebius says Mark eventually went to Alexandria to become its first bishop. Tradition claims Mark was martyred there; in the ninth century, his relics were carried off as war booty to Venice, where they are said to rest in the Cathedral of St. Mark.

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