The Four Gospels

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The Four Gospels

The word 'gospel' means good news. There are four gospel accounts in the New Testament:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The first three gospels are sometimes called the 'synoptic' (same view) gospels. This is because they each cover teaching and miracles by Jesus that are also covered in another account. John, writing later, recounts Jesus' other words and miracles that have a particular spiritual meaning.

All four gospels present Jesus as both the Son of God and son of man. They all record His baptism, the feeding of the 5,000 from five loaves and two fishes, Mary's anointing of the Lord Jesus, His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, His betrayal, trial, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. However, each writer does so in a slightly different way, recording additional details or emphasizing one aspect more than the others.

Click on the name of one of the authors (below) to see what makes their account of the gospel special.

Matthew was one of the first twelve disciples of Jesus (Matthew 9:1; 10:1-4) and therefore an eye-witness; he records more of Jesus' teaching concerning God's heavenly kingdom than the other writers, for example the entire Sermon on the Mount.

Mark was Peter's son (I Peter 5:13, possibly spiritual son), who wrote down what Peter said about who Jesus was, what He did, where He went and what happened; Mark's gospel is therefore Peter's account, an eye-witness account, written down by Mark.

Luke was a doctor and a co-worker with Paul (Colossians 4:14; Philemon v24). Because some spurious stories about Jesus were circulating, Luke decided to interview local eye-witnesses and people who had followed Jesus closely. Luke collated all the interviews into a single account, recording details not mentioned elsewhere, for example regarding the conception and birth of Jesus and Mary's extended family, as you might expect of a doctor.

John was one of the first twelve disciples of Jesus and therefore an eye-witness (John 19:35); John brings out the spiritual significance as well as recording the practical aspects of Jesus' works and words. John lived to be older than any of the other writers. It is therefore likely that he was familiar with their accounts and wanted to supplement theirs with additional teaching and miracles by Jesus which had a bearing on the situation towards the end of the first century AD.

Recommended reading: F.F.Bruce "The New Testament Documents".

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Matthew

Matthew writes his gospel account to give us the view of Jesus as the King:

Jesus is introduced as the 'son of David' (Matthew 1:1); David had been Israel's king 1,000 years before Jesus was born. Jesus' message is "Repent (change your mind), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). When Jesus teaches concerning the law (Matthew 5:17), He assumes the position of God the King, raising the standards of the law and applying it not merely to outward conduct, but to the inward heart (Matthew 5:19,21-22,27-28,43-44). Jesus shows His authority as King over physical diseases and sickness, psychological and spiritual oppression and even the wind and the waves of God's creation (eg Matthew 4:24; 8:1-17, 23-27).

Matthew records Jesus' authority in calling the disciples: "Follow me" (Matthew 4:19). This is how Matthew himself became one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. Matthew had formerly been a tax collector, a Jew working for the Roman government, probably dishonest and despised. He briefly gives his own account of how he became a follower of Jesus in Matthew 9:9-13.

Matthew records more than any of the others about Jesus' teaching concerning God's kingdom and heavenly rule:

chapters 5-7 show us the constitution of God's heavenly kingdom, chapter 13 shows the appearance of the kingdom at various stages chapters 24-25 show us the reality of the kingdom, its conflicts, its future, and...
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