Mark 1:1.The beginning of the Gospel. Though what we have hitherto taken out of Matthew and Luke is a part of the Gospel, yet it is not without reason that Mark makes the beginning of the Gospel to be the preaching of John the Baptist. For the Law and the Prophets then came to an end, (John 1:17.) “The Law and the Prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, ” (Luke 16:16 .)And with this agrees most fully the quotation which he makes from the Prophet Malachi, (Malachi 3:1.) In order to inflame the minds of his people with a stronger desire of the promised salvation, the Lord had determined to leave them, for a time, without new prophecies. We know that the last of the true and lawful prophets was Malachi.
That the Jews, in the meantime, may not faint with hunger, he exhorts them to continue under the Law of Moses, until the promised redemption appear. He mentions the law only, (John 1:17,) because the doctrine of the Prophets was not separate from the law, but was merely an appendage and fuller exposition of it, that the form of government in the Church might depend entirely on the Law. It is no new or uncommon thing in Scripture, to include the Prophets under the name of the Law: for they were all related to it as their fountain or design. The Gospel was not an inferior appendage to the Law, but a new form of instruction, by which the former was set aside.
Malachi, distinguishing the two conditions of the Church, places the one under the Law, and commences the other with the preaching of John. He unquestionably describes the Baptist, when he says, “Behold, I send my messenger,” (Malachi 3:1 :) for, as we have already said, that passage lays down an express distinction between the Law and the new order and condition of the Church. With the same view he had said a little before, (which is quoted by Mark, [Mark 9:13;] for the passages are quite similar,) “Behold, I send you Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” (Malachi 4:5.) Again,
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple,” (Malachi 3:1.)
In both passages, the Lord promises a better condition of his Church than had existed under the Law, and this unquestionably points out the beginning of the Gospel But before the Lord came to restore the Church, a forerunner or herald was to come, and announce that he was at hand. Hence we infer, that the abrogation of the Law, and the beginning of the Gospel, strictly speaking, took place when John began to preach.
The Evangelist John presents to us Christ clothed in flesh, “the Word made flesh,” (John 1:14;) so that his birth and the whole history of his appearance are included in the Gospel. But here Mark inquires, when the Gospel began to be published, and, therefore, properly begins with John, who was its first minister. And with this view the Heavenly Father chose that the life of his Son should be buried, as it were, in silence, until the time of the full revelation arrived. For it did not happen without the undoubted Providence of God, that the Evangelists leave out the whole period which Christ spent in private, and pass at once from his earliest infancy to his thirtieth year, when he was openly exhibited to the world, invested with his public character as a Redeemer; Luke excepted, who slightly touches one indication of his future calling, which occurred about his twelfth year, (Luke 2:42 .)
It had a very close connection with this object, that we should be informed, first, that Christ is a true man, (John 1:14,) and next, that he is “the Son of Abraham and of David, ”(Matthew 1:1 ;)as to both of which, the Lord has been pleased to give us an attestation. The other matters which we have examined, relating to “the shepherds, ” (Luke 2:8 ,)the “Magi,” (Matthew 2:1 ,)and “Simeon,” (Luke 2:25 ,)were intended to prove his Divinity. What Luke relates about John and his father Zacharias, (Luke 1:5 ,)was a sort of preparation for the Gospel.
There is no impropriety in the change of the person which is here made, in quoting the words of Malachi. According to the prophet, God says, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way Before Me. Mark introduces God as addressing the Son, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way Before Thee. But we see that Mark had no other intention, than to express more clearly the prophet’s meaning. Mark designates Christ the Son of God The other Evangelists testify that he was born of the seed of Abraham and David, and therefore was the Son of man, (Matthew 8:20 .)But Mark shows us, that no redemption is to be expected but from the Son of God