The four Gospels are attributed to different authors, with each book being distinct in some form or another. The Gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke are often referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels.” The Gospel of John, however, has a different take on the events of Christ’s life, and he presents them in a poetic form using many symbols. By comparing one of the Synoptic Gospels, like Luke, with the Gospel of John, we can see the similarities and differences throughout their works. Although the Gospels of Luke and John are similar in their description of major events during the time of Christ, the two Gospels differ greatly. Both Luke and John describe many of the major events during the time of Christ in a similar way. In both Luke 3:22 and John 1:32, the Holy Spirit is described in the form of a dove as it descends upon Christ. Because this symbol is in all of the Gospels, Christian churches often portray the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove in art and in icons. Luke 5:18-25 and John 5:5-16 both tell the story of the paralyzed man made to walk. In Luke, “some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a bed…but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus” (5:18-19). Instead of having the paralyzed man lowered from the roof, John describes him as resting by a holy pool of water (6:2-5). Despite the obvious differences in location, Christ responds the same way in both Gospels. He first forgives the man’s sins, and He tells the man to walk. This shows Christ’s divine authority and His power to perform miracles. Christ’s apprehension, death, and resurrection are all similarly structured in the two Gospels. Christ is first betrayed by Judas in Luke 22:47-54 and John 18:3-12. His life is traded for that of Barabbas in Luke 23:18-24 and John 18:40-19:16. Christ is crucified between two thieves in Luke 23:32-33 and John 19:18. Finally, Christ is resurrected and appears to His disciples in Luke 24:30-31 and John 20:19. Both the Gospels describe many of the same major events throughout the time of Christ. The differences in themes between the Gospels of Luke and John can be explained by their dissimilar target audiences. The differences in audience between the Gospels of Luke and John are not hard to notice. Luke’s Gospel targets Gentile Greeks with the theme of God as the savior of mankind. Luke portrays Christ as savior by emphasizing the many healing miracles Christ performed throughout His ministry which could not be explained by the medicine at that time period. Luke cites 16 distinct healing miracles throughout his Gospel. In addition to Luke’s detailed accounts of healings, he includes 17 of Christ’s parables. The inclusion of Christ’s parables in Luke’s Gospel helps illustrate His points in a convincing way that the Greeks would have understood. Some of Luke’s most powerful stories include the parable of the seed (8:4-15), the parable of the Good Samaritan (10:30-37), the parable of the banquet (14:16-24), and the parable of the prodigal son (15:11-32). Unlike Luke’s Gospel, John’s Gospel targets heretic Christians with the theme of God as Incarnate. John’s Gospel was the last Gospel, and it was written during a time of turmoil in the church. John abandons many of the miracle stories and parables found in Luke’s Gospel and instead stresses Christ’s divinity. John begins his first chapter explaining that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1). Christ is the Word that John speaks of, and throughout his Gospel, Christ confirms this with a series of “I am” statements. These two words had a great deal of meaning to the Jews of John’s time; they were the words God spoke to Moses from the burning bush to assert His divinity (Exodus 3:6). John explains that Christ is asked three times if He is Jesus of Nazareth. He responds “I am” to each inquest, and the crowd “stepped back and fell to the ground” each time (18:6). In this scene, John shows that Christ’s spoken word has the power to send other men back in awe, a testament to His divinity. Despite differing in target audience and theme, the Gospels of Luke and John share many similarities in their descriptions of major events during Christ’s ministry. The differences found between all four of the New Testament Gospels must have been key in attracting a diverse group of Christians to the early church. Each book offers the same underlining account of Christ’s life while adapting its theme to different target audiences. The Gospels played an essential role in spreading the Good News of Christ’s life and teachings.
In conclusion, I think that the Gospel of John is much more relevant to today’s world because it uses many symbols. It seems as though the Church and peoples beliefs of God, are heavily based on symbolism. I feel a little closer connection to the Gospel of John; because I believe that the Bible was written by normal people, who wrote a book, made up stories, and thought of symbolic reasons for these “divine” stories.
The Collegeville Biblical Commentary
The Catholic Study Bible Commentaries