Mary, Mother of John Mark

Mary was the mother of John Mark, a disciple of the Apostle Peter. She is mentioned briefly in Acts 12:12 following the narrative of Peter's imprisonment and his arrival at her gate. What is known about her comes from mention of her labor and prayers on behalf of the Christians. The Bible doesn't mention a husband, so she might have been a widow. Her son is identified as the Apostle Paul's companion, along with Barnabas, as the three traveled about doing missionary work.

Some traditions assert that the house of Mary, John Mark's mother, was not only used by early Christians as a meeting place, but quite possibly served as the location of the Last Supper, as well as the place where the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in the event known as Pentecost.

The text of Acts states that on the night before Peter was to be tried before Herod, he was secured in double chains, and slept with soldiers on either side of him. Beyond the door, other guards stood watch. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared and caused light to illuminate the cell. The angel tapped Peter to wake him up. As he awoke, the chains fell away, and the angel told him to follow him. Peter thought he was having a vision. He and the angel left the dungeon and entered the street, and the angel disappeared. The Bible states that Peter stood there, contemplating what to do. He must have believed that the Christians were still praying for him at Mary's house, for that's where he went.

The Bible states that the Christians prayed for Peter's safe return without ceasing. They were probably used to meeting at Mary's house, and on the night that God had intervened and sent his angel to free Peter, the Christians had once again assembled with Mary to pray. Perhaps they were praying still when Peter arrived at the gate and knocked. Rhoda, the servant girl, became so excited to hear his voice that she ran back to tell the others, leaving Peter standing in the dark. Apparently, she didn't consider that the guards might have woken up and discovered he was gone, or that they could be following him. So overjoyed was Rhoda, that she didn't think to unlock the gate and let Peter in.

Those inside Mary's house didn't believe the servant girl, “But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished” (Acts 12:16). They must have also been jubilant, because Peter cautioned them to be quiet. He told them how the Lord had helped him by sending an angel; then he told them to go to James (the Lord's brother) and tell him and the others (Acts 12:17).

Peter then left for another place, the text of Acts reveals. When Herod discovered that Peter was no longer in his custody, he had the soldiers who were guarding Peter killed. Herod then also left Judea and went to live in Caesarea (Acts 12:19).

And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. (Acts 12:12–14)

Acts does not offer much more information about Mary. It can be deduced from her brief mention that she had the means to maintain a large home with servants. She risked persecution to allow her home to be used by Christians as a place of worship. Peter and James must have known her and held her in high regard, since Peter knew that she and others were praying for him at her house.

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