Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Unexpected Legacy Series: John Mark (The Runaway)

By Matthew J. Elliott

As I have often claimed, researching biblical concepts is one of my favorite hobbies. It comes from my college days at OkWU. Many of the classes I took while earning my degree in Biblical Studies were directed studies. This means that I worked one-on-one with my professors on research projects that focused on Bible events and the characters we read about in Scripture. Some of the most memorable encounters and revelations in my faith came from those stories and that is a legacy left to me by my professors. At first, I only took the directed study courses so I could get out of sitting in the classroom and avoid taking exams. All of my final projects required me to investigate topics that were confusing to see others. Why am I sharing about me when the title of this post is about John Mark's unexpected legacy? 

Antique Scroll similar to what John Mark wrote on

It all ties into why I do what I do as a writer today. It was the legacy I received that opened my eyes to people like Brother Lawrence, Madame Guyon, Barnabas, and even Gene Edwards whom I intend on writing about next month. More importantly, though, I share this seemingly random information about my past, because John Mark's past is very similar to mine. He was a well-educated young man, even before being mentored by men like Barnabas, Paul, and Peter. The knowledge we both received, in the beginning, was about the research, the topical information, and the historical details. It was not until we both experienced real aspects of our lives that we began to learn about our true Legacies.

While my legacy is still unpredictable in many ways, the legacy left behind by John Mark is a phenomenal example of internal growth and acceptance. It was only through the experiences he had in places like Cyprus, Rome, Ephesus, Jerusalem, and Alexandria that he began to see his true calling.  As an educated young man, John Mark knew who Jesus was. He knew that there was something significant about his three-year ministry, and to an extent, what would happen in the end. His mother, Mary, hosted many of the believers in the upper room of her home in Jerusalem. (Acts 12:12) Many even believe it was in her home that Jesus appeared to his followers and told them to wait for the spirits coming. While there are no claims in Scripture that John Mark ever met Jesus, he did have many encounters with those who did.

Wikimedia Image of John Mark

As a much older young man, John Mark found himself assisting Saul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey, probably believing that he was unstoppable, only to learn through some misguided experiences in Cyprus that he was not ready to accept the calling he imagined. Abandoning Saul and Barnabas in Pisidia (Acts 13:13), for reasons we have little documentation on, was one of the worst, and yet, best decisions he would ever make. While some believe it was out of fear of the unknown, or even that he received word his mother was ill, we will never know. The reality here is that making that one choice changed his life, forever branding him as the runaway. There is so much more to his story than being branded in this way and his legacy, in this writer's opinion, is worth discovering.

After making his way back to Jerusalem, John Mark spent a great deal of time learning about his faith under the watchful eye of Peter and others who remained in Jerusalem during the persecution that was taking place. At some point during this time some believe that Peter began sharing the stories we find in Mark's Gospel. As an educated man, it fell to John to write those stories down. Other parts of his story claim that John Mark may have been commissioned to leave Jerusalem and travel to Alexandria, where he among others, planted a church. In the wake of the controversy about Circumcision, a meeting of the believers was called in Jerusalem, and John Mark and others were called back to Jerusalem from their prospective missionary journeys. (Acts 15)

AI Generation of The Jerusalem Council 50AD

In taking part in this Jerusalem Council, John Mark was reunited with Barnabas and even Paul. At this point, we lose sight of what happens with John Mark and don't hear about him in Scripture until Paul is in Rome. Somehow between the Jerusalem Council, believed to have happened in 50AD, and arriving in Rome, which happened around 60AD (Col. 4:10), John Mark has found himself and is considered a valuable asset in Paul's ministry. Something had to change because when Barnabas recommended bringing John Mark on the second missionary journey, Paul was so much against it that he broke his partnership with the man he'd spent years ministering alongside. (Acts 15:36-42) What could that change in John Mark have been though? Was it just that he matured with Age? I am not sure it was!

In my upcoming book, The Cyprus Journal, John Mark has some experiences that could explain how this change took place, but that is not where I'm heading with this post. I honestly believe that when Barnabas took him to Cyprus, he gave John Mark the time he needed to learn the true meaning of leaving a Legacy behind for future generations. I also believe that hearing the gospel story through the hearts of those who knew Jesus personally opened his eyes to the possibilities. Sometimes we need to open our eyes and look at the world around us. Sometimes the lessons we learn teach us the value of acceptance and that is where John Mark truly finds his calling. The legacy he left behind proves that no matter how far we stray off the path, we can find our way back. No matter how many times the fears of life take hold of us, we can overcome them and embrace who we are meant to be.

~ Biography ~

Matthew James Elliott (M.J. Elliott) is a passionate writer who loves to encourage and inspire others. He has served in various ministry roles for over 15 years, which has given him a unique perspective on people and Biblical History. Matthew holds a degree in Biblical Studies from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, with a focus on Pastoral Care, Christian Education, and Worship.

Matthew is happily married to Traci, and they have three children named Leyla, Caleb, and Hannah, who bring them immense joy and inspiration. As a writer, Matthew's goal is to share love, equip others, and edify them for the greater good. He loves connecting any amount of scripture to his stories and uses his knowledge of Biblical History to do so often.

You can find Matthew's works on AmazonGoodreadsFacebook, and His Website. He has written DevotionalsAn Episodic SeriesNovellas, and even Commentaries for The Gospel Daily.

~ Highlighted Release ~

The Cyprus Journal is Coming Soon! May 5th, 2024!

One Young Man. His Significant Story. A Witness of the Early Church.

Many knew him as the young cousin to Barnabas the Encourager, the son of Mary who offered her home to honor the Savior and those who followed Him, or even the man who abandoned Paul on his First Missionary Journey, but there is more to his story. His story is one of new beginnings, a promise fulfilled, and a man who overcame fear of the unknown.



Scripture is from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


  1. Thank you for posting today. God is the Author of second chances, isn't He?

  2. Thank you for reading the post and commenting, and Yes, God is the author of second chances. :-)