Mark appears a number of times in the Bible. It is believed that he was St Barnabas's first cousin-
Mark, sends his greetings, “the Cousin of Barnabas” Col 4v10
St Mark was originally known as John (see Acts 12v 12).Mark was the Roman Name that he adopted for some reason. He may have adopted the second name in honour of some Roman or Greek to whom his family was indebted. It was very common in those days, for a Palastinian Jew to take on a secondary name that was either Greek, Roman or Aramaic.
His mother was Mary (see Acts 12v 12) who lived in Jerusalem and was a member of the early Christian Church. Nothing is known of his father. It was to this house that St Peter went after the Angel of the Lord had freed him from prison after he had been arrested by King Herod in Acts 12.
Mary was a woman of means and a prominent member of the early Christian Church . She had a maid called Rhoda who went to open the door when Peter fled there after his escape. It is the place of shelter to which Peter naturally turns upon his escape from prison.He leaves to Mary and her party the duty of telling of his escape to the leaders of the early Church-
”Report this to James and the members of the Church,” he said, and then he went off elsewhere. (Acts 12:17 )
John Mark is not mentioned in this incident, but it may be assumed that he was present and that he reported the incident to James and the rest of the church members. This happened in about the year 44.
John Mark attracted the notice of the leaders of the then fledgling Church when they were in Jerusalem bringing relief from the Church at Antioch to the church in the holy city. At the time there was a famine following the death of King Agrippa. John Mark was the son of a leading member of the church in Jerusalem and he also helped in the distribution of the relief fund,as well as being the cousin of Barnabas.
He accompanied Saul and Barnabas to Cyprus in Acts 13:4-5. He acted like their personal secretary arranging many matters associated with the journey and leaving Saul and Barnabas to concentrate on spreading the Word of the Lord. Apparently he was good at this work as it says in 2 Timothy 4,11. He was a “useful assistant.” In 1 Peter 5 v13 Peter refers to Mark as his son. “Greetings….. from my son Mark.” He gave his service for a short time.
They left Paphos and crossed the sea to Perga.
When Saul and Barnabas decided to depart from their original planned journey and head into the interior towards Antioch,Mark parted company with the two apostles and returned to Jerusalem in Acts 13v13,for some reason.
”John ,however,left them and returned to Jerusalem .”
For the next two or three years we lose sight of his whereabouts.
Later on we are told that Paul proposed that he and Barnabas should make another trip to Asia Minor . Barnabas desired that John Mark should accompany them . They disagreed about this and parted company. Barnabas and John Mark went to Cyprus whilst Paul chose Silas as his companion and went to Syria and the churches there. “Paul judged that the man who had deserted them…and had not gone on to share their work, was not the man to take with them them now.The dispute was so sharp that they parted company.” Acts 15:37-39
Barnabas himself, “was a Levite, by birth a Cypriot.” He “owned an estate,which he sold; he brought the money,and laid it at the apostles' feet.” Acts 4:36-37. His family, though Levites, belonged to the body of Jewish settlers who had synagogues in Cyprus . “Arriving at Salamis ,they declared the Word of God in the Jewish Synagogues.” (Acts 13:5). John Mark belonged to this family on his father's or his mother's side.
In AD 62 Mark's connection with Barnabas seems to be at an end; he is in Rome with St. Paul 's as one of his most faithful fellow workers . “Aristarchus, Christ's captive like myself ,sends his greetings. So does Mark…and Jesus Justus.Of the Jewish Christians ,these are the only ones who work with me for the Kingdom of God , and have been a great comfort to me.” Col 4:10-12.The reconciliation was not very recent with Paul after their disagreement in Perga.
After St. Paul's release Mark returned to the East, for during his last imprisonment ,Timothy, who is at Ephesus, is asked to “pick up Mark and bring him with you,” back to Rome (2 Tim. 4,11).Paul , now near his end, needs the services of Mark.