« AnteriorContinuar »
Barnabas sailing to his native isle of Cyprus, accompanied by Mark, and Paul taking with him Silas, went through Syria, and Cilicia, confirming the new converts in these parts.
But whatever was the cause of this breach, it was of no long duration, for we find that Mark was afterwards the companion of St. Paul, who, in his Epistle to Philemon, calls him his fellow labourer; and in his Epistle to the Colossians he recommends the "sister's son of Barnabas" to their attention.
St. Mark was also the intimate friend and associate of St. Peter, who affectionately styles him his son, or favourite disciple. The most ancient writers agree in their account, that the gospel of this Evangelist was written under the instruction of St. Peter at Rome, who suffered there in 65, and it is an illustrious instance of the integrity of the historian, as well as of the humility of the Apostle, that St. Mark is the only one who relates the aggravating circumstances which distinguished Peter's denial of his master.
St. Mark preached the gospel with great success in various parts of Africa, particularly in Egypt, where he planted a flourishing church, the seat of which was at Alexandria. Here his labours excited the resentment of the pagan priests, who took the opportunity of inflaming the minds of the populace against the Apostle, when they were celebrating the licentious rites in honour of Serapis, which happened to be at the time of the festival of Easter. The enraged multitude broke into the Christian assembly, and directed by their leaders fell upon the venerable saint, whom they dragged through all the streets of the city, so that his body was lacerated in every part. The barbarous tragedy was renewed the next morning with heightened cruelty, as long as the little remains of life allowed, and then the body was left to the Christians, who interred it in their church, from whence jt is said to have been afterwards removed to Venice, and deposited in a church erected to the honour of the Apostle. He is said to have suffered on the 25th of April, but the year is uncertain.
Two of the writers of the history of our Lord, were not among the number of his immediate disciples, and yet from their connection with the members of the apostolical college, they had the best means of acquiring the fullest information, concerning his miracles and discourses, and thereby of completing the evangelical narrative. One of these was Mark, the intimate friend of St. Peter; and Luke was the assiduous attendant of St. Paul, whom he accompanied to Jerusalem, and afterwards in his perilous voyage to Rome. This evangelist was a native of Antioch, where he seems to have embraced the truth about the time that the disciples of Jesus first obtained the name of Christians, by the determination of a synod or council held in that city, by Paul and Barnabas. From the distinction made in the Epistle to the Colossians between the brethren of the circumcision, and the Gentile converts who were with St. Paul, it appears that Luke was of the latter description; and that by profession he was a Physician. The liberality of his education, indeed, is evider t from his style, which is remarkably pure and copious. In hischoice of expressions, he is particularly happy, and the use which he makes of technical phrases, especially ay connected with medical science in his accounts of diseases, and in navigation when he relates the voyage and shipwreck of St. Paul, sufficiently proves that his literary acquirements were various and extensive.
From his close attachment to St. Paul, whose history he wrote to the period of that Apostle's deliverance, at Rome, it is probable that Luke did not leave him till his martyrdom. After that event St. Luke went into the East, and extended his apostolical labours as far as Egypt and Libya. Some writers assert that he founded a church at Thebais; and Nicephorus says that he was hung by the Pagans upon an olive tree, in the eightieth year of his age.
There are two books in the sacred canon written by this Evangelist, and both are inscribed to Theophilus, concerning whom there have been different opinions. Some think that the word Theophilus, meaning "a lover of God," was only a general term applicable to all sincere believers; while others maintain that the encomium of "most excellent/' which accompanied it, clearly denotes a particular person of distinguished eminence among the early converts to Christianity. There are different opinions also as to the time and place of the writing of St. Luke's gospel. All that can be determined with certainty, is, that it was composed before the Acts of the Apostles, and most probably after the gospel of St. Matthew, perhaps about the year 63, if not indeed during the first imprisonment of St. Paul at Rome, which ended in that year.