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Why Are Mark and Luke Not Named as Disciples?


Question:

I always thought Mark and Luke were among the 12 disciples. But, they are not listed in Matthew 10. So who are these guys? I know Luke was a physician (Col. 4:14) but where would I find out more about them?

Answer:

The fact that we have two prominent witnesses who were not chosen to be numbered with the twelve is both interesting and instructive. If only the twelve were prominent witnesses for the Lord there would be a stronger case for an official class of witnesses for the Lord. As it is we have these two examples to encourage each of us to be witnesses of the Lord’s own work in our lives. Mark and Luke are quite different in the source of their witness and their role in carrying forward the testimony of Jesus.

Luke

From 1 Corinthians 9:1 it appears that an Apostle is one who has seen the Lord. Luke probably never actually met the Lord. So, he would never be included in the group of official Apostles. It might also be noticed that the Apostle Paul never met the Lord Jesus during His ministry, but did meet Him at his conversion on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:17) and in “the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2) and so was “untimely born” (1 Cor. 15:8).

It appears that Luke interviewed those who had seen and heard the Lord. He may have examined whatever written material there was. So, in this way he was a true historian. He certainly was among those who knew the Lord since he traveled with the Apostle Paul and others. In Acts 16:6-10 the change of the pronouns from “they” to “we” suggests that at this point, at Troas, Luke joined the company. Luke would have had plenty of opportunity to learn from the others about their experiences with the Lord. The introductions to the gospel of Luke and the Acts illustrate Luke’s interest and careful investigations.

Luke’s close association with the Apostle Paul and devotion to the Lord is shown by the apostle’s own comments (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phile. 23,24). So, Luke illustrates the Lord’s words in John 17:20, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” In this way Luke becomes the pattern for each of us. May we diligently seek the truth of Christ even as he did.

Mark

Mark’s history is quite different. I don’t think I can do better than to include here the description given in the introduction of William Kelly’s exposition of the gospel of Mark.

Mark (Marcus) was a common Roman praenomen. His Jewish name was John. He was converted through Peter (1 Pet. 5:13; cf. Acts 12:12). At the very outset of his Christian course Barnabas (his relation) and Paul took him with them on their missionary travels (Acts 12:25; 13:5). John Mark had that light idea of the responsibility of Christian service which is so common: he thought he could take up and put down God’s work as he liked, and he left the two leaders to go on with the work by themselves, whilst he went off home again (Acts 13:13: 15:36: cf. Acts 4:36). Then we lose sight of him for six or seven years, which, for all we know, may have been so much lost time; and after that he becomes the passive cause of an exceedingly unfortunate dispute. Paul and Barnabas arrange a further mission, and Barnabas “determines” to take his relation again with them, while Paul “thought not good” to take one who had already deserted his post. This gave rise to so sharp a contention that the two veterans separated. … Most of us, perhaps, would have thought it best to leave Mark alone after that; and it comes as quite a surprise that we find him finally charged with the high honour of writing one of the four Gospels. Not only does Peter take him in hand with that affectionate care which we should expect from one of his nature, but Paul, who had such a disparaging judgment of him in former times, is able to recognise and acknowledge the value of Mark’s subsequent service. He mentions him as being one of his five fellow-workers who were “a comfort” to him (Col 4:11; cf. Phile. 24) in Rome about A.D. 64, and two years subsequently he tells Timothy to “take Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).1 

William Kelly, An Exposition of the Gospel of Mark. (Accessed 9/13/2021.)

To recap, Mark was probably fairly young when the Lord was on earth and he grew up in a believing home in the early church (Acts 12:12). It is encouraging that the apparent instability of youth eventually gave way to allow him to become among those who served with the Apostles and even to write the gospel which so evidently emphasized the faithful servant character of the Lord Jesus.


Endnotes

1.  Footnotes in the original text containing W. Kelly’s critical comments are not retained for the sake of brevity. The interested reader is encouraged to examine these in the reference given.

By Roy Touzeau

Roy Touzeau is a regular teacher at Grace and Truth Gathering in Portland, Oregon where he has been faithfully attending since 1981. He was instrumental in founding Principles in Focus, an annual biblically focused retreat for young people. Roy and his wife Pamela have been married for forty-nine years and enjoy visiting their children and grandchildren and studying God’s creation using Roy’s eight-inch telescope.

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