Hugh Mortimer and Pastor John agreed to meet for lunch this week at Martha’s Diner. The smell of hamburgers frying filled Hugh’s sinus’ as soon as he entered the Diner. Martha’s Diner was known for its burgers. The diner had cooked hamburgers since 1937. The diner’s décor was 1950’s style. The cozy atmosphere would make a comfortable place to meet with Pastor John.
After the waitress escorted Hugh to a table, seeing Pastor John enter the diner, he waved for Pastor John to join him. “Good afternoon, Pastor John,” said Hugh. “Good afternoon, Hugh, isn’t that a delicious aroma?” Pastor John replied as he took a deep breath. “It most certainly is!” exclaimed Hugh. “I am so hungry, I could eat a horse.”
“Have you decided what you would like to have?” asked Pastor John. “I have,” said Hugh. So, Hugh picked up the phone in the booth and placed his order. He handed the phone to Pastor John who did the same. “Where else in town can you place your order over a phone?” asked Hugh. Pastor John said, ‘There is no other place in town that uses the phone to place an order like Martha’s Diner. That is one of the reasons it is such a great experience to come and eat here.”
“Hugh,” said Pastor John, “Did you learn anything else about John Mark this week?”
“I discovered that John Mark came on the scene when there was a famine in Israel. That is about A.D. 45-46. It seems that a prophet named, Agabus, prophesied this severe famine. The Christians at Antioch gathered an offering to send to their fellow Christians in Jerusalem. They sent Saul, later known as Paul, and Barnabas with their love gifts (Acts 11: 27-30). When the gift had been delivered, the two brought John Mark back to Antioch with them (Acts 12:25).”
“Isn’t that fascinating, Hugh?” questioned Pastor John. “It is!” said Hugh. “And John Mark was the cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10). Barnabas, who spoke up for Saul (Paul) because he saw the potential in him, also identified the possibilities in John Mark.”
“And Pastor John,” said Hugh, “John Mark went on a great adventure with his cousin, Barnabas, and Saul. The church of Antioch commissioned Saul, Barnabas, and John Mark to go on mission in Asia Minor among the Gentiles. John Mark went with them as a helper or assistant (Acts 13:1-5).”
Their hamburgers and fries arrived. Each man became silent while they poured catsup on their plates for the French fries and spread mayonnaise on their cheeseburgers. Both men began to eat. “Mmmm!” both men said at the same time.
“Very good, Hugh! I am impressed with the amount of detail you gleaned this week,” Pastor John responded. “I had hoped we would touch upon this area of John Mark’s life because I did a word study related to the word, ‘helper’ used in Acts 13:5 to describe John Mark.”
“The Greek word is, huperetes and the Greek text reads, “They had John huperetes.” This Greek word, huperetes” is a interesting word. One meaning relates that it is not that they had John Mark as helper, but John Mark huperetes. Many interpreters and interpretations use it in the sense of ‘helper’ or ‘assistant.’ The Authorized Version interprets it, “They had John to their minister.” The Revised Standard, “They had John to assist them.” The New English Bible translates it, “They had John as their assistant.” The New American Standard Version (1995 edition) has, “They also had John as their helper.” The ESV puts it as, “They had John to assist them.”
“Hugh, originally the word huperestes pictured slave who rowed in the lower bank of oars in one of the galleys of the slave propelled ships. Hence, it indicated that John Mark helped in a humble state. This somewhat limits his work among that done by Saul and Barnabas.” (Click to Tweet)
It appears he did not help to preach or work in the religious side of the mission. The implication is he oversaw the expedition. Perhaps he took care of the physical and material side of the mission. This proved to be the most common understanding of the term among scholars and interpreters of huperestes.”
Hugh said, “That is so interesting as we think about Mark as the author of this Gospel.”
“Indeed it is, Hugh,” continued Pastor John. “But there is another less accepted understanding of the term. One scholar believes that John Mark performed the office of a chazzan who was a synagogue official. The term is referred to in Luke 4:20. From what I understand the chazzan was an attendant. He alone received wages for his work in the synagogue.”
“This chazzan maintained the buildings, cared for the sacred scrolls by bringing them out and putting them up before and after the services, blowing the silver trumpet three times before the Sabbath came, and often the synagogue teacher for the children. So, while this man did not participate in the sacred worship services, he clearly held the most important position in the synagogue.”
“Hugh, if this is what is meant, then John Mark was with them, the huperetes, the synagogue attendant. If this is the real picture, then John Mark possessed a close attachment to orthodox Judaism. Perhaps this explains why he left the journey and returned to Jerusalem. However, Hugh, it has never held a major position among scholars.”
“Goodness Pastor John,” exclaimed Hugh, “Look at the time. I must return to work. Our time together passes so quickly. But I am learning much about the author of Mark’s Gospel. Thank you. Where and when do you want to meet next week?”
“Hugh, if you don’t care, one of my favorite restaurants is Briar Haven. They cook Bar-B-Q and it is absolutely delicious,” suggested Dr. John.
“That works for me! It is near my work so it will be easier to meet you. See you next week at noon! Can we continue discussing Mark and his background next week? We ended with him leaving the expedition, but that is not the end of his story.”
“And Pastor John, you have helped to renew my excitement for studying God’s Word. I can’t wait until next week!”
“Great! See you next week,” Pastor John said as he paid for his meal and left Martha’s Diner. Hugh followed Pastor John out the door and went back to work.
Please respond, forward, or retweet or comments if you found the blog helpful in your study of John Mark as the author of the gospel bearing his name. Thank you.
To read the article from the Hastings Bible Dictionary on John Mark, go to this website: https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/m/mark-john.html
5 thoughts on “Did Luke Insult John Mark by calling him a huperetes?”
This is fascinating!! I love your study.
Dr. Roy Lucas
Thank you, Jessica.
Interesting take on the word. So, just to be clear, you think they split with John Mark over theological differences? Whatever it is, you made me go look!
Dr. Roy Lucas
I think it might have been, but I tend to think that John Mark proved to be a ittle immature and went home because he was homesick.