I have been asked on several occasions during my teaching experiences about why there are four Gospel accounts of the life of Christ in the Bible. More importantly, some want to know why there are some details mentioned in one account and not mentioned in the others. Isn’t this just a little bit confusing? My reply is that it is not confusing at all. All four Gospel accounts relate the same wonderful story of the life of our Savior, but from four different perspectives. When we study one of the Gospel accounts, we should study parallel Scriptures in the other three accounts in order to get the full picture.
When I think of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I think of four news reporters reporting on the events of the day from four different perspectives based on their individual backgrounds and cultures. The story line that each presents is basically the same. The differences arise in the fact that each reporter adds his own “flavor” to the story. I think that a brief overview of each of the four Gospels may be helpful at this point.
Matthew (Levi) – A SPECIAL REPORT TO THE JEWS! WHO IS JESUS CHRIST? HE IS THE KING OF ISRAEL AND THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH! HE IS THE SAVIOR AND THE KING OF KINGS. HE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE AND HE CARES ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR LIFE.
1. Matthew was a Jewish tax collector who became one of Jesus’ twelve apostles (9:9; 10:2-4). His given name, Matthew, meant “gift of Yahweh [the Hebrew term indicating God]. His home was in Capernaum and later Damascus, Syria. His father was Alphaeus. He later became an author and pastor of a church in Damascus.
3. Often called the Genesis of the New Testament.
4. Focuses on the legal right of Jesus Christ to the throne of David.
5. Presents Christ as The King.
6. Writes from a Jewish perspective.
7. Probably written between A.D. 60-65.
8. Purpose of the writing: To prove that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, The Eternal King. Note: Messiah is the Hebrew word for “anointed one”
10. Key word used: “fulfilled” – 38 times.
11. Key verse: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law of the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (5:17).
12. Key phrase: “the kingdom of heaven” (appears 32 times in this book, but nowhere else in the Bible).
13. Key places: Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Galilee, Judea.
14. Concludes with the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ just before He is taken to Heaven:
|Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20).|
2. The Gospel of Mark was the first Gospel written.
3. The other Gospels quote all but 31 verses of Mark.
4. The Gospel of Mark records more miracles than any of the other Gospels.
5. Mark wrote for the Roman reader, and uses a number of words derived from Latin.
6. Mark wrote this Gospel in Rome about 25 years after the crucifixion of Christ, between A.D. 55 and 65.
7. He does not write about Jesus’ birth or childhood. He begins his story when Jesus is 30 years old.
8. He presents Christ as Jehovah’s servant.
9. Christ reveals Himself in the Gospel of Mark more through what He does than by what he says.
10. Purpose for writing: To present the person, work, and teachings of Jesus Christ.
11. Key word used: “straightway” – used 42 times.
12. Key verse: “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (10:45).
13. Key places: Capernaum, Nazareth, Caesarea, Philippi, Jericho, Bethany, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Golgotha.
14. Concludes with the ascension – the completion of the mission of the suffering servant:
|So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (16:19).|
1. Also known as the “beloved physician” (see Colossians 4:14).
2. Was also a historian, author, and even did some evangelism.
3. In this report, the parables of Christ are emphasized.
4. The Gospel of Luke is the most lengthy Gospel account and the longest New Testament book.
5. Written probably in A.D. 60.
7. Tradition states that Luke was from Antioch in Syria, and remained unmarried. He later lived in Philippi and other cities where Christian communities were started.
8. The second and most complete New Testament genealogy is offered here (see Luke 3). Luke takes the genealogy of Christ from Adam through the bloodline.
10. Luke was the only Biblical writer who was a physician.
11. The only Gentile Biblical writer.
12. Was probably Paul’s most faithful friend and companion.
13. The most educated of the four Gospel writers.
14. Born into a cultured, Gentile family.
15. The Gospel of Luke is the tenth longest Biblical book.
16. Luke is best known today for writing about one-fourth of the New Testament (Luke and Acts). His works emphasize the impact of the Gospel on people considered “second class” in Jewish culture at the time – Gentiles, women, the poor – as well as, the topics of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit.
17. Probably gathered the information for the account of Christ’s life during the two years that Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea by the Roman governor Felix of the Jewish homeland (see Acts 24:27).
18. Writes for a Greek audience, concerned with the ideal of “excellence.”
19. Shows Christ as being the ideal human – warm, concerned, ministering.
20. Places more emphasis than any other Gospel writers on Christ’s relationships with people, and on the role women played in Christ’s life and ministry.
21. Reports six miracles and nineteen parables that are not mentioned in other Gospels.
22. Presents Christ as the Son of man – the friend of sinners.
23. Purpose for writing: To present an accurate account of the life of Christ and to present Christ as the perfect man and Savior.
24. Key phrase: “It came to pass” (appears 40 times).
25. Key verses: “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the son of a man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (19:9,10).
26. Key places: Bethlehem, Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem.
27. Most of 9:51 – 18:35 is not found in any other Gospel.
Concludes with the promise of the Spirit:
|And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49).|
1. John’s name means “Yahweh is gracious.”
2. Known as the Apostle of Love.
3. Called a “Son of Thunder.”
4. Probably written A.D. 85-90.
5. In this report, the doctrines of Christ are emphasized.
6. In describing the life of Christ, John makes comparisons with the pieces of furniture in the tabernacle of Moses.
7. The only Gospel writer to hint at the rapture (see 14:2, 3)
8. Uses the number seven [the number of wholeness, completeness, perfection] on numerous occasions (seven witnesses of Christ, seven pre-crucifixion miracles, seven “I Am’s”).
10. The Gospel of John is the fourth longest New Testament book and nineteenth longest Biblical book.
11. Probably raised in Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. He later lived in Ephesus and was banished to the island of Patmos in old age.
12. Family – Father was Zebedee; mother was probably Salome; younger brother of James. Salome and Mary may have been sisters (see Matthew 27:56; John 19:25). If so, James and John would have been cousins to Jesus.
13. Occupation – Commercial fisherman; later one of Jesus’ disciples and one of the inner circle.
14. Best known today for – His close relationship to Jesus, and his New Testament writings.
15. Author of a Gospel, three New Testament letters, and Revelation.
16. The Gospel of John has been called the “universal Gospel.”
17. Presents Christ as the Eternal Son of God.
18. Message – Christ is the incarnate Word.
19. John takes Christ’s origin back to His preexistence with God all the way through eternity (see John 1: 1-3).
20. Key phrase: “verily, verily” (appears 24 times).
21. John tells nothing of Jesus’ birth and youth. He introduces Him as the adult Son of God.
22. Purpose of writing: To prove conclusively that Christ is the Son of God and that all who believe in him will have eternal life.
23. Key verses: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (20:30,31).
24. Key places – Judean countryside, Samaria, Galilee, Bethany, Jerusalem.
25. Special features – of the eight miracles recorded, six are unique (among the Gospels) to John, as is the “Upper Room Discourse” (chapter 14-17). Over 90% of John is unique to his Gospel – John does not contain a genealogy or any record of Jesus’ birth, childhood, temptation, transfiguration, appointment of the disciples, and no parables, ascension, or Great Commission.
26. Concludes with the promise of the return of Christ:
|Jesus saith unto him, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me” (21:22).|